Newsletter #1651

City kicked off their American pre-season tour this week and we have match views tonight from two of our long standing contributors based on the other side of the pond, John and Neil. I’m sure that despite the result, and pre-seasons are never a great judge, it was terrific for them to be able to get to a “local” game!

We also have opinion on the season ahead, the downward spiral of football in general, and FSF conference news.

Next Game: Sporting Lisbon, 8pm, Friday 23 July 2010 (friendly NYFC)


Managed to get a ticket and flew up from San Francisco on Saturday morning. The game was not played at the regular home of the Portland Timbers as there was a baseball game already scheduled. So the game was played at the very impressive soccer complex at the University of Portland. Hence the much smaller capacity.

Thanks to a local Portland fan, Justin, I picked up my ticket in the near to the ground Twilight Room (an apt name for any bar prior to a City experience) and ended up standing behind a goal (shades of the old scoreboard end at Maine Road) with the Portland Timbers’ rowdy section. They were great fun and extremely enthusiastic. They had a wonderful rapport going with Joe Hart in the first half. City fans seemed to be clustered in two pockets, one of each side of the field.

Not sure what to say about the game. Just how many players should come on pre-season? City fielded two complete teams and names are noted in the MEN as:
Hart, Trippier, Boyata, Mee, Cunningham, Ireland, Zabaleta, A Johnson, Vieira, Bellamy, Adebayor, Taylor, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Bridge, Tutte, Kay, Onuoha, Ibrahim, Helan, Guidetti, Tchuimeni-Nimely, Jo. But look at the names who were not involved and we have a very large squad. Did Bridge play? Can I not recognize players any more? The first set of players up to Adebayor played the first half, the rest played all or some of the second half.

I have to admit some surprise when I saw Jo appear for the second half. City won quite comfortably and I was impressed with young Mee in the first half. Bellamy and Ireland played the first half. I make note of them as they appear in the gossip columns as about to leave. I should imagine that there will not be quite this number of changes as City head back east to play.

Pre-season games don’t often tell us much, especially with so many players on view but it was a fun evening and thanks to the Portland fans for being so hospitable. If I had three other observations to make they would be:

  1. How many coaches and trainers do we have? There seemed to be an awful lotrunning around during warm-ups and half time dressed in some tops thatbordered between red and purple.
  2. I realize this is perhaps trivial but if City are hoping to build a basein the US, why not play in blue? Portland were in black, so why the need to playin the white with diagonal stripes? I always liked this shirt but when possibleshouldn’t we play in sky blue?
  3. Even more trivial perhaps is the City players left the field with not muchacknowledgement of the fans. At least from what I saw and especially comparedto Portland. Now I know City fans were not in the majority by any means butthey were clustered in two groups so a wave might not have been too much toask. If they did and I missed it, then apologies.

Finally, a second comment on good natured Joe Hart during the first half banter with Portland fans. Just nice to see.

The rest of the US games appear to be on TV in the US.

John Pearson <john.pearson(at)>


I attended the Portland Timbers match on Saturday evening. All credit to the Timbers fans, including Joey with his chainsaw (check out the video on, for creating a credible atmosphere in a tiny but attractive stadium at the University of Portland. It was entertaining to be so close to the pitch and the players.

City had a decent turnout, with 300-400 wearing colours, out of 5,018 through the turnstiles and a few more peering over the low wall, but we did not manage a song. I put this down to everyone getting stuck in traffic on I-5 then trying to find Merlo Park, no access to beer once inside unless you were one of the rare Nike/Umbro card-carrying member in attendance, and those sat in the bright evening sunshine were toasted by half-time. There was no Mary D’s nearby to get revved up in, plus it really was their Cup Final. City are the biggest English club to play in Portland, hence their lap of honour at the end, despite the 3-0 loss.

Nearly every City player present got a run-out. Platt, Mancini and Kidd were comparing notes through the match. The first-half line-up was Joe Hart with a back-line of fringe players and mostly first-team players across the middle (Ireland, Vieira) and up-front (Adebayor, Johnson, Bellamy). There was a complete change at half-time, with a reserve front-line and midfield, then Richards, Onuoha, Lescott and Bridge across the back. Mancini’s game plan must have been to protect the half-time lead… Taylor was in goal in the second half and he made a smart save. Shay Given was in the stands.

It was a moderately entertaining match (despite no beer) and Portland had a few half-chances. It did look like men against boys from a size perspective: being so close to the players makes you appreciate the physical stature of Hart, Adebayor, Richards and Vieira. They are monsters compared to the mal-nourished Americans. The tackling was brisk and it was entertaining to watch Bellamy contesting decisions, running at defenders and getting stuck in. He has a real passion for the game. Ireland looked out of sorts and is a long way from the form he showed a season or so ago. He looked like he was going through the motions. It was a nothing game but considering the size of the squad and the improving quality he struck me as a player not trying hard enough to impress the management team. Adam Johnson was his usual tricky self and provided the crosses for the two quick-succession first-half goals: one off Ireland’s arse and the second from Adebayor’s head that the goalie should have saved.

Jo took the third goal well. I can tell my grand-kids that I was there when Jo scored; it’s up there with seeing a Tony Cunningham goal at a mid-week League Cup tie at West Ham many years ago. Apart from that, none of the younger/ fringe players stood out. The only other player to catch my eye was Joe Hart. I’ve seen him play many times but it struck me that he appears to have ‘grown up’. Maybe he’s always been big/commanding and my seats at City are too far from the pitch, but at the match he struck me as a confident and athletic goalie in top form. Shay Given could lose his number one spot at the start of the coming season even if he is match fit. It’s a shame that Capello did not see it.

Next stop New York. See you in the Mad Hatter on Friday afternoon!

P.S. to Dave Humphries from the Bay Area: apologies for not getting in touch. I was late arriving into Portland, got stuck in traffic and decided to go straight into the ground.

Neil Adshead <neil.adshead(at)>


A new season is about to begin so it’s time for disappointment to emerge as the most likely trophy for so many of our contributors to MCIVTA. City have already spent loads on what seem like good players but we need to remember that adding players to a team is initially disruptive. Can Yaya Toure supply the needs of the front men? Will Jerome Boateng be tough enough to resist the Premier League’s quick and athletic forwards? Will David Silva be able to dribble past lower league cloggers?

Who knows? The price we’ve had to pay means precisely nothing: the unknown is how well our team forms and gels and that can’t be bought. There wasn’t too much evidence that Mancini was creating a team with an instinctive understanding of each other’s play any faster than any other manager last season.

So let’s please leave out “the fans deserve this or that”; it doesn’t work like that in football and never has.

By the end of the transfer window the balance sheet could be quite interesting. With Jo, Caceido, Robinho, Bojinov, Logan, Weiss and Etuhu still on the books and Bellamy, Nedum and Superman apparently on the way out we might spend net a lot less than we think.

Meanwhile, one of the most satisfying things for me is to contemplate the quiet fuming of His Royal Purpleness as he continues to pretend that United have transfer money, which we all know they haven’t. Still I bet they’ll be up there competing for honours. We only might be.

I hope for at least a fourth place this season and it would be exciting to be good enough to be considered by neutrals as title outsiders at some stage. As for a trophy, there’s so much luck involved in this. We need a good draw just like anyone else and all the other clubs will just love to knock over the world’s richest.

One thing I do insist is essential for the well being of City fans: the Fish and Chips from the City Stadium Chippy near Mary D’s remain of the same high standard. I know of none better.

Peter Llewellyn <PeterJL(at)>


I overheard a conversation in the gym the other way. Two fellow gym users (gymees?) were bemoaning the state of the England team, and quite rightly they criticised the England players and their attitude. Then one of them offered in all seriousness (and it was clear that this was not some sort of wind up): “It doesn’t help when Man City are ruining football, buying all the foreign players.”

I don’t normally interrupt the conversations of strangers but that was enough for me, so I put them right.

I pointed out that City have always given English talent a chance to shine, citing Micah Richards as an example. Furthermore, City signed Adam Johnson last season and he has thrived in our team. When I last checked Sunderland (his birthplace) was in England rather than Spain or Bosnia-Herzegovina, and it wasn’t his fault (or City’s) that the ridiculous Capello didn’t take him to South Africa to offer us a break and some variation from the dross that was served up by the likes of Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard and Co.

They made the point criticising City for paying Toure a reputed £200,000 a week. Whist that is a lot of money it’s not as if paying high wages is the sole domain of Manchester City.

So, I challenged them further. Haven’t United, Liverpool, and Chelsea been paying top wages, often to foreign players, and yet they haven’t been accused of ‘ruining football’. As for the inflated transfer fees that they didn’t like, haven’t United and Chelsea been spending loads of money for years. For example £30 million for Berbatov and £28 million for Veron. Isn’t that “ruining football” as well by their set of values?

One of them retorted with the biggest non-argument: “Well they (i.e. United and Chelsea) have always been there.”

Well that’s the problem isn’t it? Football is already “ruined”, as they put it, because United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool have been there in a top four cartel for years because of their riches. The problem has been exacerbated because of their continuous involvement in the Champions’ League affording them even more riches to allow them to go out and buy the best, year in, year out, monopolising top level European football, year in, year out. The gap between the top four and the rest has widened every year, until last year when Liverpool collectively failed and Tottenham, themselves on the back of a big spending spree (whatever Harry Redknapp would have any mug believe, but the likes of Modric and Pavlyuchenko don’t come cheap) broke the top four. Gone are the days when City, Derby or Nottingham Forest could come out of the 2nd Division and be champions of England, unless they have incredibly rich owners. Gone are the days when Aston Villa or Everton can win the title without a huge injection of cash, and that as we know is no guarantee. Why? Because money has already ‘ruined’ football.

City are accused of ‘inflating the transfer market’ yet City are only trying to compete and wish to sign better players, but because our Arab backers are very wealthy indeed, other clubs get greedy. City are being accused of inflating the transfer market, when it isn’t City who are putting at very least £10 million and typically £15 million on the value of a player when we show an interest. It’s the selling club more then the buying club that is inflating the market.

These greedy clubs may not make any money at all if City walk away from ridiculous deals, instead preferring to trade with more realistic clubs, and then leaving transfer targets to run down their contracts. These clubs should take a leaf out of Middlesbrough’s book. Boro and City negotiated a fair price for Adam Johnson and both clubs have benefited as a result, with no quibbles. In short it’s time for clubs to get real. Should we pay £30 million for James Milner? No way. For me it’s £20 million tops for a talented player, but let’s face it, he’s no Messi.

The real roots for the lack of top class English talent lies a lot deeper than money though, and I pointed this out. There are too many kids at a young age who are having the joy of football and any skill knocked out of them by parents and know-it-all “It’s my way or the highway” coaches who shout and bellow at kids to “boot it up pitch” or “whack it”. Instead of letting kids enjoy the game and express themselves, these coaches fill young minds with so-called “tactics” well before the age when they should be. A ten year old, or even twelve year old should be practising trapping a ball with both feet, and honing his or her ball control amongst other things. Instead of bawling at kids who run with the ball to “get rid” and branding them “fancy dans” we should be encouraging them to show their talent. Allowing kids to play small sided games up to a certain age (certainly up to 10) gives them more time to express themselves and get comfortable with that round thing. Instead, there are too many coaches and parents who don’t let kids express themselves, all in their pursuit of “glory” of some local cup that boosts egos of coaches and parents and fails to allow the kids’ skills to develop. Whenever I see photos of junior football teams with trophies I often wonder what they learn from the game and how they play it. Do they enjoy it? Are they allowed to express themselves? Are the smaller kids ignored because of our obsession with physical, lump it and run nonsense? Too often there are tales about kids being told they are “too small”. David Platt let SWP go from Forest because he was “too small”. In our country, Xavi or Iniesta would be discarded from too many teams and probably wouldn’t have made it due to their perceived “lack of size”, which is very sad, and a criminal waste of talent.

I’ll close with a question (and I didn’t think of it during my discussion with the enlightened two ‘gymees’). How many English players can dribble without losing the ball? Not Gerrard, Lampard or Rooney on the basis of the last World Cup. I can think of one, and only one. Adam Johnson can dribble, and he was signed for a reasonable fee by Manchester City, who have given him a chance to play top flight football. I rest my case.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


Just seen Manure’s new kit and sponsor AON. What do we think?

All Over Now

Any other suggestions?

Gordon Hindle<ghindle(at)>


Football Supporters’ Federation Annual Conference

If anyone in the London area is looking for something to do next weekend, the FSF is holding its annual Fans’ Parliament on Saturday 24th July at Wembley Stadium.

The event is open to members and non-members and all can take part in debates (though only members can vote) and there will be four workshops on fan-related topics to choose from too. On the Sunday there is a tour of the stadium.

For further details

P.S. membership of the FSF is free, so join today – what do you have to lose!

Phill Gatenby <safestanding(at)>

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Newsletter #1651