Newsletter #1531

News and reaction to the derby game, player updates and the inevitable ongoing transfer rumours.

We also have accounts of the derby, a couple from behind enemy lines, opinion on the loyalty point system and the latest Points of Blue update.

Apologies for the delay due to Internet problems here at McV Towers.

Next Game: Tottenham Hotspur, away, 3pm Saturday 16 May 2009


General News

Golden Era: His side may have lost to their arch-rivals last weekend but City skipper Richard Dunne believes that the Manchester Sheikhy era will be one that alters the face of world football. In a season that saw the arrival of Robinho, a UEFA Cup quarter final and and challenge for more European football, the club is undoubtedly moving in the right direction but the Irish centre back feels that City will be challenging for honours and titles in years to come: “The whole team has settled down well since Christmas. We’ve started to produce the standard of football that the manager was expecting at the start of the season. I think it was that we went from a normal club to high expectations. There was so much hype and photographers. It all takes a bit of getting used to I suppose, and it was unsettling for a lot of people, but now everyone has grown into it. It’s just part of the normal Man City day now. I signed a four-year contract last summer. I’ve been here nine years, and I would love to stay. That was my thinking. If you’re not at a top four club and not already at Manchester City, then this is the place to come. It’s a club with the potential to grow and win trophies. Signings will happen and then you have to rise to the challenge. Hopefully it’s going to be a golden era for the club and being part of it would be great.”

Squad News

Braziliant as Ever: Elano seems to be back to top form following recent performances against Hamburg, Blackburn and Everton and there’s an argument that when Elano plays well, Robinho ups his game. Despite the fact that he’s only been ‘filling in’ for SWP, Hughes will face a selection headache when his entire midfield is fit and raring to go and Elano has pleaded his case for a first team slot alongside Brazilian compatriot ‘Robbie’: “It has been shown so far that when I’m playing, Robinho can produce even better goods. When I was on the bench I was seeing things I could have done better for him. I know his style of play. I know how he wants to receive the ball, where he likes passes to be made. In the Everton match I made the pass and he scored, 1-0 for us. That shows we have a natural, mutual understanding. I’m not taking anything away from other players but there are certain things that you can achieve playing for many years. We know our positions from each other on the pitch. It can only grow even more. You can only achieve a certain rhythm of play by playing regularly. This just proves that what I said was right.”

Stevie is Superman: He’s been the Blues’ best player all season, he was short-listed for the PFA Young Player of the year and Trappotini is still knocking on his door but Mark Hughes believes that Stephen Ireland will only get better. In the past two outings, both Blackburn and Manchester United have kept close tabs on Ireland, leading to quieter performances but Hughes explains that such treatment is testimony to his star midfielder and suggests that he will have to get used to that sort of treatment next season: “He’s had an outstanding season and I have congratulated him at every opportunity I get because it is fully deserved. At the weekend, I think it was very much a mark of respect that Stephen received the attention that he did. The impact he can have has been recognised by opposition teams, they know that they have to try to lessen the impact that he has. If he is allowed to play then he can hurt teams, and every team is going to recognise that in the future. Sunday was a good test for Stephen, he will get more of that and it is still a learning process for him. Away from home teams will be aware of him and will try to stop him. There was interest (in pre-season) because he was already an outstanding player, but he had not had the sort of season like he has had this year. There was never any doubt that he would be a player that would help us this year, but in fairness I have to say that he has surpassed my expectations. That is of huge credit to him, but he was never going to be allowed to leave as he was one I felt would have an impact, and that is how it has proved.”

Johnno in Jeopardy? Reports hit the papers this week that Michael Johnson’s continual pelvic muscle injuries may in fact end the young English midfielder’s career but Hughes has moved quickly to allay such fears claiming that Johnson is in need of further specialist treatment but should be fit and well for the 2009/10 campaign: “Michael is seeing another specialist this week. The good news is that he doesn’t need surgery. What he needs is more rehabilitation on the medical side. It is a little bit complicated but it is more about lengthening muscles – there is an imbalance there. It will take a period of rehab to enable the balance of his body to be in line to let him play pain-free. That’s the latest news we have on it. We would like to think he will be available for the start of the season. After an intense period of rehabilitation, we hope that will be the case. The pains he was having on his right-hand side have resolved themselves because we have been able to do a lot of work on that side. It is about making sure the balance is there, which will enable him to play.”

Fitness Battles: Though it looks as if Robinho will miss out on the weekend’s trip to White Hart Lane, the club’s medical staff have got their fingers crossed for SWP who continues to push for match fitness. Robinho, who came off in the derby with some obvious discomfort to his groin is said to be 50-50 for the tie that could rule either side out of the running for a place in Europe: “He felt his groin and has been having treatment during the week. It’s a slight disruption in the abductor, and we obviously hope that that settles down but he could be a doubt for the game at the weekend. We will just have to see how he responds to treatment, hopefully he will be available but if not then we will hope he can make it for the last game.” Meanwhile, SWP may return having suffered from a knee injury over the last month: “We hope that Shaun can hope to get better; when he gets a bang on the knee it stops him in his tracks. It’s been hard, he can only get back training after two or three days rest and after getting a knock to the knee last Thursday he could not continue. We will have to see how he is this week.”

Transfer News and Rumours

Carlos Tevez: With United yet to snap the Argentinean striker up on a permanent deal, it seems that Carlos Tevez is up for grabs and the whole of Europe is foaming at the mouth. £25 million was the figure quoted to United, whose signing of Dimitar Berbatov last September has left them significantly short of funds, and now City will join Juventus, Real Madrid and Inter Milan in the battle for his signature. Super Agent Kia Joorabchian has revealed the ambitions of his player: “The Champions’ League is the biggest [league] but Carlos isn’t the kind of person that says ‘I have to play for this club, in this situation’. He wants to go to a club that has a real ambition and focus to be champions of England, Europe and anywhere.”

Raul: It was a former Galactico who hit the headlines this week with whispers that he was on his way to the Blue half of Manchester but yet again Hughes has stated that what you read in the papers is not necessarily what is going on behind the scenes at CoMS: “What everyone has to understand is that there are a lot of people out there who profess to have mandates to work for Manchester City and who are approaching players, apparently on our behalf, telling players they can get deals for them and asking if they are interested. Some players then react and some don’t but it is a situation that has happened time and time again this year and that is why there is so much speculation about players that we supposedly approach. There are a lot of people who are out there who would like to manufacture deals and situations where they would in turn become part of a big money move for a player to come to City. Raul is an exceptionally talented and great player and has been for many years. He is someone I clearly admire and respect enormously and has done great things for his club and his country but I have not tried to sign him. He will not be coming to City.”

Steven Fletcher: On a much less grand scale, the Clydesdale Bank Young Player of the Season Steven Fletcher has been linked with a £3 million move to CoMS. The 22-year-old striker was denied a move to Celtic last January as they weren’t willing to pay the full fee that Hibs wanted – a block that City will hardly stumble over, and now it seems as if it is a straight fight between City and soon to be relegated Middlesbrough. Fletcher told reporters: “I want to further my career, so if it’s a good club and I think it’s the right place to go I’ll sit down and have a think about it. If it doesn’t happen I’ll be a Hibs player for another year, but we’ll wait and see. My main aim is to go and play down south, I’ve always said that. Even when Celtic came in for me earlier in the year I told everyone my first aim was to see if I could play down south. I wouldn’t turn down big moves to big clubs, but I’d rather go down and play in the best league in the world. You watch it on TV every week and it’s the best league in the world. If someone gave me the opportunity I would definitely take it.”

Derby Day Reaction: It was never going to be the easiest of tests and two first half goals were enough for United to push themselves closer to a third consecutive title. A controversial Ronaldo free kick and a deserved goal for man-of-the-match Carlos Tevez simply out-did the Blues who never really made it into second gear. The manager gave his post-match reaction: “Our shape was good. Our back four played well, and the two guys in front were good in possession. What we haven’t got is the option to go 4-4-2 on a regular basis away from home. I’m still of a view that we need a more physical presence than we have at the moment. The free kick was one of the decisions that we feel a little aggrieved about. But it happens and you have to focus your mind and concentrate. The award was harsh, but give him credit; it was still a good strike. In the end we didn’t have quite enough in key areas to ask enough questions of a good United side. But we gave a better account of ourselves than we did in the home game. We tried to get the ball down and play our football. The focus shifts to Tottenham, which was always a key game. The challenge is to get three points at Tottenham then win at home to Bolton in our last game. If we get six points we’ll go close. Let’s see what happens.”

City’s signing of the season Vincent Kompany was philosophical about the defeat at Old Trafford claiming that this year is only City’s first step in their hunt for success: “This is just the start for us. Credit to United because they won 2-0, but I hope that in the years to come it is going to be a different story. I was not here for the game last year, but I doubt City have had so much of the ball in a game at Old Trafford. I don’t think we were outplayed for a lot of the game, and in the last 10 minutes we opened up a bit. We played some good stuff and losing hurts us and the supporters but you have to get over it and you have become stronger through adversity. I am one of the guys who are not too happy about the first goal. But, I don’t want to get into that too much, there has been too much of that kind of thing this week and I am not a fan of that. The result was fair enough, because they scored two goals and after that it was difficult for us. We were a completely different side to the home game against them and we showed that in the next derby we will be more of an opposition to them. They had respect for us, and we deserved that, but to be honest that’s what makes the difference between United and other teams. We had a lot of possession and had good combinations; sometimes you can get a good result at Old Trafford without touching the ball. That was not the case for us because although we had a lot of possession and a lot of time to construct the game, we did not get the first goal like United did, and that made it difficult for us.”

Academy Blues

All Guns Blazing: Having suffered at the hands of Arsenal’s young guns in the FA Youth Cup last month, Jim Cassell’s battling Blues were again beaten in the League play-off semi-final. The game, that ended 2-1, was won by a goalkeeping masterclass given by Gunner goalie Szczesny, whose stunning performance kept out the various barrages of Robbie Mak. Despite defeat, Cassell told his lads to hold their heads high: “They have had quality over all three games but tonight we can feel a little bit aggrieved. The stats will show that of their three attempts on goal, two went in and their ‘keeper was man of the match by a mile, absolutely outstanding. I can only praise our players for their effort and energy. We sorted the tactics out, turned the game around and whereas some of the balls bounced to defenders in their box, the two chances that came free for them fell kindly. No complaint, but sometimes you don’t win a game that you might deserve.”

Cassell went on to praise his young side for the way that they have progressed this season: “We’ve had a great season and people should remember that. We’ve actually won our league by a mile, the Totesport team were second in their league, and we’ve got to two semi-finals. If that’s failure, then we’ve failed! But I think what we’ve also proved is that we have players who have a fantastic chance of establishing themselves in the game. We’re never afraid to lose. You’ve got to expose yourself if you want to play at the highest level. We’ve played probably the best team in the country three times and we’ve run them close on each occasion. There were good performances all round. The young lads in midfield, Omar Elabdellaoui and Ahmad Benali, are both available for the youth side next year and gave terrific performances. Abdi was magnificent. We were very disappointed with the result. The boys were a bit upset but they shouldn’t be, because their performance was outstanding. We’ve dominated large periods of the game when we’ve played Arsenal. Maybe, if we’re handing out praise, they had a little bit of quality in the last third where we didn’t show composure when we had good possession. You don’t always get the rub of the green. But I can only praise the players for our season. We know we can play against anybody in the country.”

Alex Rowen <news(at)>


A mate in Sheffield rang me today saying he’s heard that Rotherham are playing a Manchester City XI on 1st August at the Don Valley Stadium.

Just checked their website and it’s true: 1500hrs kick off, all tickets £10.

Mick B <koolfurmick(at)>


There is still a very slim chance of getting seventh position in the league. But we need Fulham to lose a game, either at Newcastle or at home to Everton.

Whilst City need to beat Spurs away, that would take Spurs out of the picture, then City beat Bolton at home in the final game. No other combination will do, City no longer have it in their own hands and we need help. I feel our best chance providing that City can beat Spurs, is that Newcastle fighting for their own survival can beat Fulham.

Two games left in the season and we must not give up. We can look back at the season and we all know that the away form has been why we are in the position that we are in at the moment.

We have some very good players at the club right now, and Sparky’s signings during the winter transfer window have been good ones, but for just one player who never fitted in, that being Taj.

Mark Hughes has almost had his first season in charge, and I feel sure that he has some players in mind that he would like to sign and to fit into his squad (jigsaw).

The media are already having another field day with whom City are trying to sign, agents are feeding the press with hopes that their contracted players will be involved so that they can make some money too.

I will read all the press but take no notice of the stories of players coming to City until I see on the official MCFC website that a player has been signed; this is good advice, for you will only get frustrated by the press.

I’m sure that we all have a wish list to come in and strengthen the squad. I have mine but will not put a curse on them by naming them here. But I will say my priorities are a quality striker, playmaker in the midfield, and defence also needs help.

I just hope that MCFC move in fast for the players that they want before other clubs have a chance of spoiling it all. And I am not naming any players to leave, I’m sure that Sparky has his list (and many of us have our own list).

Great to see Superman get rewarded for his improvement this season, with the club giving him a new contract until 2013; this is a player that deserves it. Stephen Ireland is soon to be named MCFC Player of the Year. Well done Superman!

Another improved player this season is Nedum Onuoha and he should be the next in line for a well earned contract. Both of these players have improved under the manager/coach Mark Hughes, a side that supporters and fans don’t talk about much.

Come on you Blues! In Sparky I trust.

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


Firstly, apologies to the players and supporters of Liverpool FC for the meek and spineless way we let United march on to the title on Sunday. Having ‘talked the talk’ all week, Hughes and company completely failed to ‘walk the walk’ and allowed a United team performing in autopilot mode to walk all over us. Admittedly they are a very good team who have only recently humiliated Arsenal, but that was no excuse for the insipid performance and tactical stupidity on display.

I am not stupid or naïve enough to think that £100 million spent so far this season would automatically bring us success. We don’t have a league so much, as a cartel where everything is weighted in favour of the ‘big four’ remaining the ‘big four’. They have the income from their European campaigns, the top managers and most of all players with the experience of playing in Europe, which all act to encourage the best players to join them, and not a club outside this select group, no matter how grand their ambitions. Of these three ingredients the only one we have to offer at the moment is shedloads of cash, but this is a double edged sword as the risk is that players attracted by such a large financial carrot are also those who aren’t too bothered about pulling their tripe out for the shirt every week. So the only way we can ever hope to emulate and eventually become one of the ‘top’ teams is by having a top manager who has European pedigree and will be able to attract the right kind of players who want to play in a successful team. There is absolutely no point in continuing with Mark Hughes after this season, as not only does he not fit any of these criteria, but we have also made no progress whatsoever from last year, and have gone backwards tactically. Hughes only ever achieved mid-table mediocrity with Blackburn, because his teams were always inconsistent. Under him Rovers tended to have a long winning streak, followed by a long losing streak and in his time there he never managed to eradicate this inconsistency. We now have it with our pretty good home form and our lousy away form. On Sunday it was as clear as day why we will never achieve any consistency under Hughes either.

Whatever the merits of having two defensive midfielders, it is an option that only fits a certain game plan (assuming that there actually is one!). Those who watched the match will have seen Kompany and De Jong spend most of the match passing the ball sideways, unable to get it much further forward without it frequently ending up with a United player. Once you go behind by one or more goals a change in tactics is usually required, especially when there are also members of the team having an ‘off’ day. So, instead of replacing Stevie Ireland, who I’m sure would be honest enough to admit he had a ‘stinker’, we had to wait until the 63rd minute to replace a striker receiving no service with another striker who would receive no service either. The next substitution after 72 minutes was too late, but was the one that should have been made much much earlier, replacing De Jong with Petrov.

By then the game was dwindling out as any kind of contest and we looked as punch drunk as poor old Ricky Hatton. Richards had another poor game up against ‘Him’, and Elano and Robinho were both made to look distinctly average. Bridge was constantly isolated covering for Robinho, and if it hadn’t been for Dunne and Onuoha, and United’s lack of desire to go for the kill, we may have been looking at a repeat of the mauling we got from Kanchelskis and Co. under Brian Horton. There was a conspicuous absence of desire and belief amongst our players (the job of a manager is, after all, to motivate them) and I’m only thankful he didn’t choose to bring Fernandes on!

As I have said many, many times before I think we have a good squad with a lot of promise but totally the wrong man to lead them. Even in his fledgling managerial career Alan Shearer has shown more tactical nous (with a far inferior group of players), motivation, honesty and the courage of his convictions than Mark Hughes has ever done. I am not against him because he once played for United but because he has proved incapable of managing this group of players to the appropriate level of success. If the Sheikh wants to waste his money and investment then that is up to him, but if he wants MCFC to add “prestige” to his portfolio of investments then he needs to take action during the summer.

Steve Burrows <stevieburrows(at)>


Well that was my first ever visit to a derby at The Swamp courtesy of a ticket from a Man U friend who couldn’t go.

I set off dead early. First thing that hits you is that parking is on average £10 for United as opposed to on average £5 for City. So the nearest street parking place was about a mile east of OT Cricket ground the other side of Warwick Road.

A nervy experience, consciously thinking my cover will be blown at any minute. It really is behind enemy lines…

I was “sat” 3 seats in from the tunnel and we stood the entire game, which was great but I had to endure being surrounded by United fans. I have to say it reminded me of going away with City in my youth, despite all the stereotypes they were quite similar to us in many ways, despite all the protestations you may think of corporate t****rs, prawn sandwich merchants, London accents, this was a fairly Mancunian affair. They call us bitter, which is fine but I got to hear at 1st hand at least 5/6 anti Man City fans: “build a bonfire, my old man, Istanbul you’re not going, this is what it feels to be small” and on it went depressingly. They have more in their repertoire than I thought. Obsessed! Hmmm, pot kettle black, discuss.

Anyway, apparently Elano is a rent boy and Bridge is a Chelsea rent boy so I am reliably told as they appeared down the left wing in the 1st half.

Interesting perspective of the game at ground level (compared to my usual view from the 3rd tier in the Colin Bell stand at CoMS). The game appears much quicker and requires more concentration. Obviously you can see more close up play but little of the build up and of course being behind the goal you get little depth perception once the ball goes beyond the halfway line. Don’t think I’d like that every game but hey ho.

There was little to be heard from the City fans, which was disappointing and the show from the team mirrored the fans. We had possession but were in truth toothless up front. Were holding our own at 1-0 down as we had conceded from a set piece so doing ok. The 2nd goal in 44 minutes killed it as a game and we had no answers. Clearly missing SWP, and a fit Petrov, we need the fire in the belly from Bellamy. The Samba Twins huffed and puffed a bit more than their usual away form but we were 2nd best and no complaints.

The stand out player for me was De Jong, he was marvellous breaking up the play, chopping their attack down and steering the ball forward. You could say he is a “poor man’s Roy Keane” at this stage but the potential to be as good as Roy Keane and even better. De Jong is the unsung hero for me and does a great job spoiling the opposition. Nedum Onohua put in a great shift, I can’t wait to see the England U21 competition next month with young Ned leading the young Lions out. Great season for him (not quite as good at Steven Ireland), but a great player, decent kid and intelligent too.

Oh well I doubt if I’ll get another chance to see another OT derby but you never know.

It appears if the rumours are true we will have ETIHAD as Shirt Sponsors. Can some one translate that for me as the buzz going round is that it is Arabic for United!

That would be a serious “own goal”.

Phil Lines – Behind Enemy Lines <philipjlines(at)>


Derby Comment – In the Belly of the Beast

I’d never been to a derby game at the Swamp before this weekend, and didn’t think I would be going to this one, until I got a call at work on Friday morning offering me a ticket. The down side: I would be sat amongst the daytrippers from Belfast, Buckinghamshire and Kent in the North Stand. This did not in any way affect my decision to take the ticket and I received some disapproving looks from my boss due to the volume and enthusiasm of my acceptance.

The ticket came with a warning to keep my allegiances strictly under wraps: a couple of weeks previously a Spurs supporting friend taking up a similar offer had been ejected from OT for standing up and ‘smiling’ as Spurs’ second goal went in, although given his side’s 2nd half performance, this was probably the best time for him to have left the game.

Arrival at the ground felt awkward, walking through the Rags singing their ‘My old man, said be a City fan’ chants I felt like Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade when he ends up getting Hitler’s autograph at a Nazi book burning event: wrong place; wrong time, just plain wrong!

The seats were pretty good – although very high and not much leg room (pile ’em high, sell ’em dear clearly MUFC PLC’s business model), but at this stage I was just happy to be there.

As for the game, I thought City started brightly. Robinho looked up for it; De Jong and Big Vincent looked pretty solid in midfield; for a change we looked pretty solid at the back and all that was lacking seemed to be the final ball and a bit of a cutting edge up front (something I’m sure will be put right in the summer).

The less said about the goals the better (a muttered curse and for appearances sake, I had to stand up along with the rest of the cheering Rags. I felt sick in the stomach!) although their free kick looked a bit fortuitous (rare blip on the part of the ref, who I though had a pretty decent match considering the game’s location) and the second was a good strike by Tevez. Other than that, City looked the better team in the second half and things could have been interesting if Robinho had put away what was probably the game’s best chance. City seemed to wane a little as the half wore on, particularly once Bojinov came on, who still looked some way short of full fitness (he seemed to limp slightly as he ran, hopefully he’s not permanently crocked now).

All in all however, I thought it was an encouraging display from City, which bodes well for next season. Hughes seems to have got the players working pretty well together – I was impressed with De Jong, who I thought had a decent game and Bridge, while Nedum goes from strength to strength.

Fingers crossed we can get something from the next couple of games and nick 7th place; or finish behind West Ham who are then banned from Europe due to financial problems, meaning we get in through the back door (again)!

Given: couldn’t do much for the goals, one decent save I can recall 6
Richards: good game for Micah, hopefully getting back to his best 7
Bridge: was impressed with attacking play, decent game 7
Nedum: surely this guy will play for England soon 8
Dunney: performance approaching last season’s form, although might be time to replace him in the summer I’m afraid 7
Big Vincent: solid, but sloppy backpass led to free kick for first goal (at least I think it was him based on my view from row ZZZZZZ) 6
De Jong: decent game 7
Ireland: quieter than usual, but still brighter than most 7
Elano: bad game I’m afraid, 1 killer ball to set up Robinho chance excepted 5
Robinho: looked dangerous/lively – pity couldn’t take best chance 7
Caicedo: looked pretty isolated, spurned a couple of half chances, he’s had a good season, but still one for the future I think 5

I’m not going to bother rating the subs, suffice to say: Boj looked well short of match fitness still, hardly surprising I suppose; Petrov good to see him back, 1 decent effort; Ched got on for about 2 minutes, is this guy Hughes’ son? Still young mind, so probably worth keeping.

P.S. Come on Barça on 27 May!

Martyn Ruscoe <Martyn.Ruscoe(at)>


At Old Trafford we were the lucky recipients of two incredible seats in the City corner/end. I thank again John Marsland for responding to my request in this organ.

City had a game plan and it worked really well until the referee gave a free kick that was not a free kick. A perfectly good challenge by Stephen Ireland. Kompany had made a hash of things for the third time and Superman did what was required, clearly getting the ball, not the man. Given could be faulted about positioning and getting a stronger hand to the ball but it was all a stroke of luck for the Reds.

After that City had to open up and dispense with their plan and United also adjusted and let City try to open them up to no avail.

Micah is all over the place in both mind and body. He is looking for instruction all the time, mostly from Dunne and Given. Given tells him when to go up for set pieces/when to stay back and Micah is constantly looking to Dunne before deciding what to do when he gains possession.

Micah was miles away during the pre-match training session the City 11 did before kick-off. It was right under my nose and everyone else was enthusiastic and disciplined carrying out instructions. Micah was half interested and his mind somewhere else.

No wonder the stories we’ve heard about training ground argy bargy. I am more convinced after seeing him in the flesh/body language etc. that MH and his staff’s man-management is the cause of him going from being the hero of the Scot on MoTD to the mess he is now. A bit like Gordon Brown going from Stalin to Mr Bean.

Bridge is not match fit. Full stop. He was constantly tripping over his own feet when charging forward and/or trying to interchange with Robinho. I would go so far as to say that he is the worst City left sided player I’ve seen since Vic Gormasal (on that performance).

Caciedo is not up to scratch and first touch was worse than useless.

The rest are all very good players on that performance. Flashes from Robihno of greatness/Elano tremendous on occasions/Dunne was a mountain, not one mistake/Onuoha is going to be a great player/DJ and Kompany were solid except for 4 first half petty gaffes by Vincent/Ireland is to my mind the current best City player/Petrov will be back to his first season best in August/BoJo will get up to scratch in time so persevere.

When Mou was appointed at Chelsea, most of the team that won two league titles was already in place, except for Drogba. From what I observed on Sunday, City’s situation is very different. It will take another two seasons for MH (or whoever) to get them to the level of Chelsea circa 2004/5.

So we should get off the impatience track and be realistic about things. We have now a solid base to work up from and add to until we achieve the top four squad we all want.

Still it will be a great time for us all once again this Summer as we constantly read about who/what and when is going to happen. I love it.

Patrick Knowles <pjamk(at)>


Just a response to recent comments about the loyalty scheme.

Although this pains me somewhat I feel I have to stick up for the ticket office/procedures after recent contributions. I fail to see what everyone’s problem is with the loyalty scheme in operation at the club. It is easy for people to gripe but so far neither of the recent contributors have offered any sort of alternative. Whilst no system is going to please everyone, this is the best the club can do. I sympathise entirely with people who have held season tickets for a long number of years but there has to be a cut off point somewhere otherwise my granddad, who has been going for 60 years, would be entitled to United away, Aalborg away etc. even though he hasn’t been to an away game for 30 of those years! If all season ticket holders were given 190 points for each season they had been coming then we would be in the untenable position of having approximately 15,000 with maximum points attempting to get tickets for United, Hamburg etc., which I’m sure you’ll agree is completely ridiculous.

When we came over from Maine Road, 1st year season ticket holders also carried over 1,100 points, 2nd year 1,200, 3rd year 1,300 and 4th year 1,400.

All ‘regular’ season ticket holders came to CoMS with 1,500 points. Away games are graded with between 10-30 points being awarded depending on how far we travel and the day. Rainy/snowy nights in some ‘far flung hell hole’ obviously accrue more points. Same as with home games; if we play a lowly team at home on say a Tuesday night (example only) we would get the same points as a City Card or Accesscard holder, i.e. home game awarded 20 points, season ticket holders would get an extra 10 points added to the 190 they got at the beginning of the season. On average, S/T holders will have anywhere between 240-350 points each season.

The simple fact of this scheme is that if you go to the games you can build up your points quickly and there is no argument for saying that they are unable to obtain tickets because most away games this season and the season before (including Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea) have virtually always gone down to ‘any seasoncard holder’ purchase criteria. The obvious exceptions to this are United away and some European games this year (Midtjylland, Schalke) where even I struggled (I have 4,500 points after starting from 1,500 points, as the recent contributors should also have) but I completely accept that people who do the more awkward away games on a more regular basis (Middlesbrough on Mondays, Sunderland on Sundays etc.) than me should be entitled to the more prestigious games first and as I stated, more often than not tickets become available anyway.

I remember queuing up outside Maine Road for 5 hours in the hope of getting a Wigan away play off ticket and being allocated a raffle ticket, which I thought meant I would get one when I reached the window. Lo and behold the famous Maine Road ticket office shambles had struck again and there were none left when I got there. I’m sure we could all tell stories about the ‘organisation’ (and I use the term loosely) of the ticket office in those days so let’s just appreciate that whilst there are improvements to be made with the current system, we’ve come an awful long way since. It seems to me that the main issue of contention here is that people want tickets for the high profile games when they are not prepared to attend the less glamorous fixtures, which is what the ‘loyalty’ scheme is all about.

Peter Brogdale <Peter.Brogdale(at)>


Minutes of Points of Blue meeting 30 April 2009

Club represented by Vicky Kloss – Head of Communications, Danny Wilson – Head of Supporter Experience, and Peter Fletcher – Stadium Safety Manager.


For the Hamburg game, could the distribution of tickets have been fairer and less chaotic?
Club response: We wanted to ensure that the stadium was full for this match. Consideration was given to supporter feedback on pricing for previous rounds of the competition and the respective numbers of Seasoncard, Live4City, Citycard and Accesscard holders in attendance at these matches. A radical pricing strategy was confirmed. Seasoncard holders had five days to claim their seat. The response was overwhelming with just under 17,000 tickets (including all of the non-Seasoncard seats) being sold on the opening day of sale. Approximately 6,000 tickets, not taken by Seasoncard holders, were released for sale following the expiry of the five day window. Again, these sold out within a day. Whilst the strategy was successful in delivering a full stadium (excluding the away section), things were learnt that will be considered when planning for future matches.

Concern from Seasoncard holders that they would not have the opportunity to purchase their seat unless they are on the Cup Scheme Direct.
Club response: This is not the case. Other than in exceptional circumstances Seasoncard holders will always have an exclusive period of time in which to purchase a seat for a cup match. Their regular seat will be available during this exclusive period unless: a) it is in an area of the stadium that is closed for the respective match or b) it is in an area of the stadium that is allocated to visiting supporters.

Spurs away allocation: why not take the full allocation?
Club response: Spurs offered 1,800 tickets on a sale or return basis with the option to take a further allocation on an all sale basis. Any unsold tickets would need to be paid for by the Club. At the time when Spurs demanded a decision, tickets had been on sale to Seasoncard and Citycard holders and on open sale for four days. 400 tickets were unsold at this time. The subsequent victory at Everton increased demand, but by then we’d decided not to take the extra tickets and only a limited number of restricted view tickets were available.


Prices and speed/quality of service still an issue.
Club response: The Club has appointed a Catering & Operations Manager to work alongside the Club’s Consultant Executive Chef to review the full catering offering and partnerships with third party providers and contractors.

Is the overpriced Singha beer going to be binned next season?
Club response: Singha Beer will still be available at the stadium next season. Match day sales figures show that there is significant demand for the product.

No catering for reserves games.
Club response: This will be raised with the Catering & Operations Manager.


Several clubs now have a fixture calendar import facility on their websites. This automatically updates any fixture changes to your calendar on your PC or handheld.
Club response: This is already included in website enhancements scheduled for the summer.


A steward said that they have been told they can only advise people not to smoke at the stadium.
Club response: This is not the case. All of Sport City is a no-smoking area. Smoking within the stadium is against the law. People are being ejected at every game for smoking and generally receive a three match ban. On the spirals, the City Council have said that they do not regard these as “substantially enclosed” and, while it is against the stadium rules to smoke on the spirals, it is not against the law. The Council’s environmental health department has declined an invitation to carry out their own enforcement. The Club will continue to enforce the no smoking legislation at each game as they are obliged to under the law, this includes the spirals. There are occasions when the safety of stewards has to be considered and the Club have put measures in place to ensure that the safety of spectators and stewards is not compromised by the enforcement of the law.


Could we have the two team line-ups on the screens throughout the game?
Club response: This is possible and will be included in a summer review of match day screen content.

Old Trafford

Can the club make sure that we get let out of Old Trafford at the final whistle if they’ve become Champions that weekend?
Club response: the policy at Old Trafford is not to keep fans behind but it is a police decision on the day depending on the prevailing circumstances. If we’ve stopped them becoming Champions then the police may make the decision to keep our fans behind but it is unlikely.


Could you get fans in to actually test any improvements?
Club response: Yes, we will do this at the appropriate time.

Management Structure

The club were supposed to be recruiting five senior executives for various positions. Only three were announced.
Club response: There have been four external appointments, of which three have been announced (Graham Wallace, Chief Financial & Administration Officer; David Pullan, Brand & Marketing Officer; Brian Marwood, Football Administration Officer), the additional appointment being Jon Stemp, Infrastructure Development Officer. There were also two internal appointments/promotions: Vicky Kloss, Head of Communications and Steve Sayer, Commercial Officer.


Would it be possible to put a small advert on the website home page detailing when the next home reserve game is, like they do for the next home first team game?
Club response: Yes, we will look to introduce this.

P.O.B. is intended as a ‘cover all forum’ to save the club from meeting loads of different groups, and for those not in supporters’ clubs. If other forums are held, at the very least can POB be informed?
Club response: Yes, we will always endeavour to keep Points of Blue informed of activity that involves consultation or meetings with supporters/supporter groups. However, there will be occasions where representatives of the Club will meet with supporters or supporter groups when it is not appropriate to inform Points of Blue or other groups.

New offices going up: could POB be informed by the club of such developments? As these decisions may impact on supporters’ interests, could there be some consultation? For example, there is now no South Ticket Office.
Club response: This is not always possible due to the confidential nature of certain projects prior to planning application. An additional temporary unit was introduced adjacent to the Main Box Office prior to the Aston Villa match to replace Box Office South. Though not ideal, the unit has been more effective than Box Office South, mainly as a result of its close proximity to the Box Office (P.O.B. – but it looks awful).

Thomas Cook late advice on supporters not getting on official trips (and one incident where all of a party applying were rejected because one in the party didn’t have enough points).
Club response: The Club worked closely with Thomas Cook to ensure that official travel packages for UEFA Cup matches were announced as soon as possible after the respective draw. Whilst all supporters could apply for packages from the opening date of registration, packages were not confirmed until the respective supporter qualified for a match ticket in accordance with the loyalty point criteria. To ensure the fairest allocation of tickets, any groups of supporters registering together for official travel packages should have been informed that, unless confirming that they were prepared to travel without every member of the group, the application would only be processed when the supporter on the lowest number of points qualified. The Club cannot predict the lowest number of loyalty points at which a supporter would ultimately qualify for a match ticket and therefore Thomas Cook cannot allocate flight seats to all applicants on the date of registration. On occasions where all of the flight seats have been allocated prior to the match tickets selling out, subject to aircraft availability, Thomas Cook have to decide whether they think that there will be sufficient demand to fill an additional aircraft from further supporters who will qualify for a ticket. We will work with Thomas Cook to improve the information provided and the response times.

Shirt sponsor? Possibility of charity?
Club response: Negotiations for the shirt sponsorship had begun quite some time before this issue was raised by fans. However, consideration was given by the Club to following Aston Villa’s example, but for a number of reasons this was not pursued. Some charities, e.g. this season’s MCFC charity of choice the New Children’s Hospital Appeal, don’t only want awareness raising of the organisation, they actively want their partners/sponsors to raise awareness of specific activity. This is where a broader involvement comes into its own. The Club supports its charities in many varied ways e.g. player appearances, donations, merchandising, event hosting etc. This activity can be a more effective way of supporting all the charity’s aims and targets. Also, in Aston Villa’s case, the hospice in question, found its income reduced as people thought Villa were paying the hospice to use their name and many thought that no further charitable donations were necessary.

Media negative publicity.
Club response: The Club approach is now a strategic one and one which is agreed and supported by our owners. The immediately heavy handed approach of legal action and/or banning is shown to have seriously detrimental effects to the longer term relationship. “All out war” can be created where both sides can become entrenched. However, inaccurate reporting is being clamped down on and there is a sliding scale of action to be taken, varying from warnings to the journalist in question, warnings to the editor in question, approaches to the Press Complaints Commission and/or legal action. There is ongoing legal action with the Sun newspaper after the conciliatory approach failed to curb the rogue reporting. A conciliatory approach is preferred but it is recognised that this does not always bear fruit. More denials now appear on our website than ever before, particularly in relation to some of the more outlandish player transfer speculation stories.

The Club also raised that a number of improvements to the stadium were planned for the close season including re-painting of the concourses, changes to the stadium bowl tier dressing (including supporter banners) and the relocation of plasma screens to locations other than over the bars. The Club requested that Points of Blue nominate a representative to join representatives of the OSC and CSA on the project team. PoB would send a delegate.

To find out more about Points of Blue, visit

Steve Parish <bloovee(at)>


13 May 2009

Wigan Athletic        1 - 2  Manchester United     21,286

11 May 2009

Newcastle United      3 - 1  Middlesbrough         51,252

League table to 13 May 2009 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD Pts
 1 Manchester Utd  36 16  1  1 43 13 11  4  3 24 11 27  5  4  67  24  43 86
 2 Liverpool       36 11  7  0 38 12 12  4  2 34 14 23 11  2  72  26  46 80
 3 Chelsea         36 10  6  2 31 12 13  2  3 32 10 23  8  5  63  22  41 77
 4 Arsenal         36 10  5  3 27 15  9  6  3 37 21 19 11  6  64  36  28 68
 5 Aston Villa     36  6  9  3 26 21 10  1  7 26 26 16 10 10  52  47   5 58
 6 Everton         36  7  6  5 28 19  8  6  4 22 17 15 12  9  50  36  14 57
 7 Fulham          36 11  3  4 28 14  2  8  8 10 18 13 11 12  38  32   6 50
 8 Tottenham H.    36  9  5  4 19  9  4  4 10 23 32 13  9 14  42  41   1 48
 9 West Ham United 36  8  2  8 21 21  5  7  6 18 20 13  9 14  39  41  -2 48
10 Manchester City 36 12  0  6 39 18  2  5 11 17 30 14  5 17  56  48   8 47
11 Wigan Athletic  36  7  5  6 16 18  4  4 10 17 25 11  9 16  33  43 -10 42
12 Stoke City      36  9  5  4 20 15  2  4 12 15 36 11  9 16  35  51 -16 42
13 Bolton Wndrs    36  7  4  7 20 20  4  3 11 20 31 11  7 18  40  51 -11 40
14 Blackburn R.    36  6  6  6 22 23  4  4 10 18 35 10 10 16  40  58 -18 40
15 Portsmouth      36  7  3  8 23 28  2  8  8 12 27  9 11 16  35  55 -20 38
16 Sunderland      36  6  3  9 19 22  3  6  9 12 26  9  9 18  31  48 -17 36
17 Newcastle Utd   36  5  7  6 24 28  2  6 10 16 29  7 13 16  40  57 -17 34
18 Hull City       36  3  5 10 18 35  5  5  8 20 27  8 10 18  38  62 -24 34
19 Middlesbrough   36  5  8  5 16 19  2  2 14 10 35  7 10 19  26  54 -28 31
20 West Brom A.    36  7  3  8 26 31  1  4 13 10 34  8  7 21  36  65 -29 31

With thanks to Football 365

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