Newsletter #1914

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Very little needed by way of introduction to today’s edition. It’s taken a few days to get all your contributions but the tributes to both men are moving and very personal.

Thank you to David Smith, George’s nephew, for providing some wonderful photographs of his uncle. Sadly we can’t attach them to this newsletter. I had promised David an article on George’s career with the club but then David Buxton’s first-hand account of watching George play arrived and was far better than anything I could have produced.

The differing views on ‘our Bert’ are really insightful. A… possibly the… biggest legend in City history.

Next Game: 24 July, South China, 13:30 BST

RIP GEORGE SMITH

I don’t suppose there are that many supporters left who used to watch George Smith play, so I’d like to pay tribute to a fine City forward.

He was part of a forward line that represented City when I first saw them play in the late forties and he usually wore the number 10 shirt. Alex Herd was still there from the very fine pre-war team, as were the great Frank Swift, Sam Barkas and Eric Westwood. George had joined just before the war, presumably thinking he would be playing alongside Peter Doherty. By the time hostilities ceased, however, Doherty had left acrimoniously, and George found himself wearing the shirt made famous by the great man. It’s one of my regrets that I never saw Doherty play, but I’m well aware that he was my dad’s favourite, and is still regarded by those who saw him as the greatest outfield City player ever.

Like many others, George’s career was interrupted by the war – in fact he had to wait over seven years before he made his City début in a League match! That was in the old Second Division, as City had been relegated at the end of season 1937-38. Relegation must have come as quite a shock to their supporters, as they had won the League in the previous season! I think we can safely say that the days of being one of the most unpredictable clubs are now behind us. The First Division we left behind contained Grimsby and Brentford, two clubs that haven’t yet returned to former glories.

The first full season when George wore a City shirt doesn’t count in the records, because clubs were divided into regional Leagues. That was the first time I was taken to City, seeing Everton and Bolton in February 1946. George certainly made a good impression, netting 21 goals, including all four against United at home and another when we played them away. Both games were played at Maine Road, of course, as Uwe’s granddad had been busy over Old Trafford. I wasn’t taken to those games, as the crowds would have been a bit intimidating for a nine year old. With George now a regular in the forward line, City were promoted at the end of his first season. He scored 20 league goals in that first season, including all five against Newport County.

Much has been made of the injury to George’s hand, caused in a freak accident, when he was apparently shot from a South African plane – and they were supposed to be on our side! He always wore a glove, and according to his nephew Dave (like me an occasional contributor to MCIVTA) was most self-conscious about the injury. It didn’t stop him taking a throw-in, however.

When George left us in 1951 to join Chesterfield, we lost a player who generated a good deal of affection amongst fans. Through a mutual acquaintance, I asked George to get me a set of City autographs – he did, and threw in a set of United’s for good measure! The City players who signed don’t on the whole stand out as all-time greats, but I note that Bert Trautmann and Nobby Clarke are there – the beginning of my favourite City team over the ages, the one that won the FA Cup with the so-called Revie Plan.

David Buxton <dbb26(at)hotmail.co.uk>

A FEW THOUGHTS ABOUT BERT TRAUTMANN

This has been a sad, sad week for those of us of a certain age who saw George Smith and Bert Trautmann play many times for City. It’s sobering to think how long ago that was, but I feel very privileged to have seen these two great City men play. George, I think, was desperately unlucky not to be capped for England, and he was a hero in many ways. Even more than George’s death, the passing of Bert has really grieved me. To say why would require far more words than I can summon here for MCIVTA and my real tribute was written in a poem in my next-to-last book, but I feel I must say something here.

I actually had a dream last night, probably because I’ve been thinking and reading a huge amount about Bert in the past few days, in which he was telling me that everything had been in threes and that I mustn’t forget that. Somewhat mystified, I’ve been thinking about that somewhat gnomic command and have only come up with a few threes about Bert.

First of all, his incredible life can be summed up in threes – the time before he came to England, the many years with City and a few years after that in England, and his life after leaving Manchester. His life has been rehearsed many times in the recent obituaries, the TV programme and the three books about him, starting with his “Steppes to Wembley” in the 1950s, and the two excellent biographies since then. The years in Germany, his volunteering at 17, his paratroop training, his service in Russia and France, where he witnessed a Nazi massacre on the eastern front that shook his beliefs to the core. Then the three times he was captured – by the Russians, the French Underground, from both of which he escaped, and finally by the British army, and his time in Ashton in the POW camp, leading up to his switching from centre-half to goal, playing for St. Helens Town, and the transfer to City in 1949. By the time he was a prisoner he’d seen horrors we can’t imagine, left his parents, had an Iron Cross and was a war hero.

The second phase of his life was, of course, at City, facing, at first, in a country still filled with ex-servicemen and a city with a large Jewish population, huge demonstrations against City’s signing him. It says a lot for Manchester folk that, after intervention by the Chief Rabbi of the city, that he went from “you Nazi b**tard” to “our Bert” in a matter of months. Quality and his modest demeanour on the pitch soon made him a firm favourite at Maine Road, and, indeed, everywhere else in England.

Such brilliance as a player couldn’t help but make him a hero. I will say nothing here about his quality as a goalkeeper, except that I idolised Frank Swift, who captained England and was a great goalie, but was soon an even greater Trautmann admirer as a kid. His reflexes, athleticism – which he attributed to his paratroop training – gymnastic grace, command of the whole area, his ability to catch shots other goalies would not ever have tried to catch, his throwing out and his huge kicks (which led directly to many City goals, including one in our 1956 Cup Final win), his very presence on the field – he is, I believe, the only world class player ever to play for City, certainly since 1945, alongside the Pele, Maradona, Beckenbauer, Matthews, Zidane, Best category of player.

He was a superb athlete and a brilliant goalkeeper, who combined amazing shot stopping with every other aspect of the position. The confession by Bobby Charlton, who clearly had no need to say so, Bob Wilson, and many others that he was the best they’d seen means a lot, as does Lev Yashin’s familiar endorsement. I have read somewhere – haven’t got my library here – that Bert saved 60% of all penalty kicks he faced, which, if I have that right, is an unbelievable achievement in an era when goalies couldn’t cheat the way they do today at penalties.

And here’s another three – just as he escaped twice and then was captured in the war – he faced three penalties at Ewood Park, and stopped the first two brilliantly, and only let in the third, by Blackburn’s Eckersley, which literally broke the net. The best penalty save I’ve ever seen by anyone was his save from Liverpool’s Lambert at the scoreboard (north) end, which was photographed from behind the goal in The Guardian. A foot off the ground, hit very hard, and just inside the post, but Bert got both hands to it.

The Cup Final of 1956, with the broken neck, is too well known to need dwelling on, but I was below the Royal Box and further along right over the end where it happened, and I would add a three here, too – Leivers, Ewing and Paul – who, realising that Bert was out on his feet, protected him with touching affection and huge courage for those final 17 minutes, and helped him up to get his medal. They, as well as Bert, were magnificent. Then the killing of his 5/6 year old son John outside his Bramhall home by a car, just a few weeks after his neck, which, in his words “destroyed” his wife.

The first German to ever play in a Cup Final in the 3-1 ten-men loss to Newcastle in 1955, which Bert wished people would remember more than the broken neck. He felt “as if I was English” by this time, and always has, especially after he was personally snubbed by the German World Cup goalie Schumacher, himself the perpetrator of one of the worst fouls many of us had ever seen against France in the 1980s.

The Testimonial on a soaking wet Monday night, with official attendance 47,000 but which estimates put at 60,000. A show of tribute and affection, which had many grown men openly crying.

The third part of Bert’s life was not so well known, but, to me, it culminated in his being awarded the OBE for fostering Anglo-German relations. This given to an ex-German paratrooper. So great. All his work for the German government, teaching coaching in Africa and the Middle East, the starting of the Trautmann Foundation, the emotional returns to City for special occasions, his graciousness, his willingness to sign autographs, his very Manchester accent mixed with some residual German.

These more up-to-date things are known by younger supporters so I won’t go on about them. The final settling down on the warm Spanish coast, though his neck still hurt when he made sudden movements or the weather was cold. The very recent article on the BBC website saying how the country of Tanzania was mourning for Bert because of the work and time he spent there. What a wonderful thing. The City sites, Facebook, the media these past days show that, even nearly 50 years after his retirement, people know he was a very special man and athlete. The grief (not too strong a word for some of us) has been palpable.

As has been said a lot recently, the words legend and hero are used so often that they lose their potency, but few would argue that in Bert Trautmann, we were privileged to have had a genuine legend playing 545 matches for City and living among us.

Trautmann’s life was extraordinary. His playing career was brilliant. That he wasn’t able to be capped by England or Germany was cruel – he’d have been first choice ‘keeper for 10 years for either country – and his brand of grace added to the beautiful game and took goalkeeping further along in those days where there weren’t goalkeeping coaches and players didn’t feign injury as part of team tactics.

He was a very special man. He’s been my hero since I saw his first game in 1949. My world has been greatly enriched by him – and he turned me into a goalkeeper.

Oh, just to finish without sentimentality, Bert had three wives, and it’s just after three am as I type these last words.

Chris Wiseman <christopher382(at)hotmail.com>

BERT

Over all the years, I have admired the skill and respected the personalities of many sports people – from the quiet and modest Roger Bannister, Bruce Doull and Colin Bell, to the obnoxious, but marvellous bowlers Dennis Lillee and Shane Warne. I have loved the artistry of Pele and Rod Laver and the guts of Zatopek and Mike Doyle, but I have only ever had one sporting hero – Bert Trautmann.

Bert has been the most important sports person in my life, and has been instrumental in making me the passionate, and hopefully fair-minded player and fan of sport that I was and am. I am terribly upset on hearing of his death, but uplifted to read of the tributes from all over the world.

I re-tell the stories of being able to go onto the ground at Maine Road before the game started to get his autograph and of getting the bus with my dad from Piccadilly to Maine Road and, who should be strap hanging next to us, but Bert. I remember the magnificent saves he made that we all tried to copy on Blackpool beach. I swear I saw, in the middle of a muddy mêlée in the 6 yard box, Dave Ewing with half a dozen players on top of him, hand the ball to Bert.

As a child, I was most proud that I supported the team that had Bert Trautmann as goalkeeper.

Steve Higginbottom <steve.higginbottom(at)slattery.com.au>

BERT TRAUTMANN, CITY LEGEND, INSPIRATION

Bert Trautmann has sadly passed away at the age of 89. City fans who have first-hand experience of watching Bert can better describe his great achievement and what impact he made, but I’d like to say what he meant to me. He is one of the reasons why I support this club. His impact here and the fact that the City support were open enough to accept a German ex-POW helped draw many of us to City.

As someone of mixed race I found it easy to become one of you partly because of Bert and the Manchester City crowd. Bert Trautmann was a City legend in every way, one of our greatest players. His brilliance, his sheer bravery, his strength of character shine like a beacon, and always will do. How he managed to play on in so much pain (not knowing he had broken his neck) and potentially putting his own life in danger in that glorious 1956 FA Cup Final is beyond comprehension. I remain totally in awe of City legend and gentleman, Bert Trautmann.

Sincere condolences to all his family and friends. Rest in peace, Sir.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)tiscali.co.uk>

BERT TRAUTMANN

I previously submitted a piece about my memories of Bert to MCIVTA several years ago but as my memories have improved with age you can take this version as the accurate one.

I arrived late to Bert’s testimonial game in 1964 having biked from Bramhall and all the programmes were gone. I don’t recall much of the game, only a few kids coming onto the pitch towards the end of the game to get Bert’s autograph, which prompted an invasion that ended the game.

Having a little free time from school the next day, I biked back to Maine Road and hung out around the players’ entrance with about a dozen other kids. When Bert came out we all clustered about getting autographs, mostly on yesterday’s programme. I was the last kid in the line-up and I explained to Bert I hadn’t got a programme. He beckoned me over to his car (a VW station wagon) and got a programme out of the back and signed it for me. It became the pride of my collection (75 quid on eBay!), which I suspect went to the tip shortly after I emigrated to Canada. I wasn’t the type to ask, but I wondered as I biked home if he would have given me a ride as he went by the top of my road on his way home to Hazel Grove. Maybe I’ll add that to my next version.

Jim Ranson, Williams Lake, BC <ranson1(at)telus.net>

BERT

Very, very saddened by the news. Was he the best goalie of all time? Well, he was the best I saw but it was the time he played and his own background that elevated him to more than a goalie. Growing up in the 50s, I was always Bert when I had to go in goals on Navigation Road rec. In an era of over paid, over hyped players, in an era that would have been unthinkable when he played, I hope the club can remember him in a very visible way. In fact they could have done so while he was alive. Naming a stand after him would be a start.

A few months ago, while back in Manchester, I as chatting to an old friend and we were talking about the current team. When we talked about Joe our mutual comment was that “he’s not Bert”. Then I have said that about every goalie since Bert retired. Sometimes you just let your heart rule your head but I am grateful I saw Bert play and in my All-World X1 to play Mars he is in the nets.

John Pearson <Pearsonj(at)stanford.edu>

A BITTER SWEET FEELING

What a day. Negredo and Jovetic signings completed, but the sad news of Bert’s death. Bert was my first City hero and the media response this afternoon was fantastic. Even the Sky News reader girl seemed to know his life story.

He was a very astute guy in many ways and I remember fondly being amazed by his performance on Libby Purvis’s BBC Radio4 show “MidWeek” in 2010, when he held his own with some real bigwigs/high-brow types, discussing his story and a book written about him. He had them in fits about being the only person in the world to have been awarded both The Iron Cross and an OBE.

RIP Bert, my first City hero.

Now on to City’s Quantitative Easing Expenditure Campaign (that’s really getting under the skin of those Reds – back to that later). Irrespective of formations, the City front six can now be chosen from 12 players, fielding two players per position with practically equal quality.

Whether it’s 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3, 4-4-2 or as Stuart Brennan (MEN) puts it sowell, 4-6, we are in the strongest attacking position we have ever known.

I know Negredo’s worth, seeing him for many years as a prolific centre forward in La Liga. That left peg is as good as RVP. Trust me.

It’s Jovetic that excites me most. Go to Jonathon Wilson’s article to get the essence of his prowess and skills and just what a great player we’ve got ourselves (http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2013/jul/16/stevan-jovetic-manchester-city).

He’s the perfect replacement for Tévez. Operating as a front man or as a deep lying forward, frequently dropping into midfield and wide areas with that Tévez industry, to service and supply his fellow forwards and attacking midfielders, with delicate silky through balls that are on a par with Silva’s.

Congratulations to the dynamic duo, Ferran and Txiki, on the incredible job they have done so far and to the future work they are set on, to make us the number one club in the world.

Just watching that Negredo video on City’s website today spells out very well what a professional outfit we have become.

It’s why those Reds are suddenly looking shabby and suffering from what’s known in business speak as “Peter’s Principle”. Basically they have promoted two people above their level(s) of competence and it’s showing.

There’s no doubt that in time they will replicate City’s executive set-up, especially someone doing Txiki’s job, but in the meantime let’s make hay while the sun shines.

The only negative to report from my perspective is that, although we have the best defensive record for the last two seasons, I’m worried about cover for two positions.

That is, for VK and Clichy.

We all know what happened last season after VK got injured at Stoke in January. We can’t afford being exposed again with that situation, so hopefully Txiki has someone to sign (forget Pepe as Ancelloti is determined to keep him).

Perhaps Pellegrini and his staff can turn Javi Garcia into a first class centre back. As it happens, that’s the position Vicente Del Bosque sees him in, in selection terms for the Spanish international team in the last two squads. Just an idea and he was OK at QPR at the end of January in that role. Adequate, but a long way from the VK standard. Might be worth attempting because he’s well down the pecking order in defensive midfield roles.

With regard to left back, Kolarov has had a long time to prove he can hack it, both as a defender and attacking wing back. He’s failed big time.

Watched him last night in South Africa and, in both respects, he was useless.

How about really rubbing the Reds’ noses in it, by going for Leighton Baines?

Pat Knowles <pjamk(at)hotmail.com>

CITY vs. SUPERSPORT

I don’t often submit articles but thought I would take the opportunity to write down a few of my thoughts after today’s game. Work has me in South Africa so I was able to go to the game. Firstly, for me, pre-season is about attitude and fitness and a result (or lack of) in a July game does not bother me too much, except to have to read in the Rag media of predicted doom and gloom at MCFC!

First half offered a few chances for both teams. My biggest concern, and I posted to twitter during the game, is that IMO Kolarov is lazy and should be moved on. I am not sure how many times on Tv it showed him and Suarez not tracking their right midfielder (number 10) but off camera you actually see Kolarov ball watching and not completing his full run back into position. I am not one for wanting to single out any players but I am sorry his body language and lack of effort says he wants to be elsewhere. The two youngsters that played the first half sadly did not take the opportunity that was offered to them both that would have them in or close to the first team next season. Unfortunately perhaps Suarez did not benefit from being next to Kolarov on the pitch. Aside of that, a first half very much about gaining some match fitness.

Second half, complete new team. Milner as energetic as always. The one that stood out for me, so much now I am back in my hotel I have looked him up, was Emyr Huws. Composed on the ball, good movement and one I feel with good players around him to learn from may just make the grade this season. The other youngster at right back, Shay Facey, IMO not enough today for this season. On the left Scott Sinclair had a rare run out. He is not going to get many chances to prove himself with the influx of new attackers and sadly I don’t feel he showed enough to suggest he will be part of the plans this season.

Overall fun day out, let’s hope on Thursday we can manage a goal.

Andy Bird <andybird3003(at)yahoo.co.uk>

JO

The reason Jo, and Samaras too for that matter, was so woeful in a City shirt was that he was never used in the manner in which he thrives.

This is from memory, but as I recall Jo is a right to left diagonal runner who looks for through balls to chase on to. At the time, City’s entire attacking flow went through Petrov on the left wing, the single worst possible tactical set up for Jo to succeed. I suspect, don’t know, but I suspect with Silva pulling the strings in midfield Jo would be significantly more successful in a City shirt these days.

Wallace Poulter <wallace.poulter(at)gmail.com>

A GOOD WORK OUT

I would very much like to thank MCFC for putting on the game from South Africa live on the Club’s website.

The game against Super Sport was never to be on Manuel Pellegrini’s record, for this game was truly to help the players as part of their fitness preparation for the coming season.

This will also have been a game when individual players will have wanted to impress the new manager. Many players did just that, including some young players that have been taken on the City tour to give them more experience.

For all the possession that City had, I was disappointed that City were denied scoring a goal by a stubborn Super Sport defence.

Although this was not a real game as it was more of a get-fit exercise, there has to be someone who stood out, and to me that would be Vincent Kompany. A disappointment was that Yaya Touré went off injured.

By the time City get to the Audi Cup competition, that is when I will expect realistic results.

In the meantime, Pellegrini has promised more signings; despite everything that he knows, the team needs, shall we just say, help!

Let’s hope that in the coming week we see another striker arrive, the sooner the better so as to blend in with the rest of the players.

Come on you Blues!

P.S. For all the City fans that have been disappointed without a win in South Africa, let me remind them that the following players for next season have not played yet: Silva, Agüero, Negredo, Jovetic and Jesus Navas. Others only played a part in the games to help get fit. We have not yet seen a full first team play; by the time we play in the Audi Cup, that is when I am looking forward to the real stuff! Great to see MCFC giving the young players more experience.

P.P.S. Bert Trautmann: Legend, Hero, Gentleman… R.I.P.

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)aol.com>

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE SNUG …

Apology accepted Phil and I’ll readily issue my own if my first ‘retort’ was a tad strong! Certainly banter on MCIVTA is right and proper and it was not my intention to create the feel of a medieval court; after all it was only you versus me! What I’d preferably liken it to is a bit of healthy banter and debate as appropriate for the snug on a wet Thursday night when someone’s already bagged all the dominoes. What else can us footballing types do during pre-season when there’s no player performance or team selection to debate? After all, it’s the most boring time of the year sport-wise unless you are also into cricket and the Ashes hadn’t yet started!

So, to return to the matter in hand… I think that as well as RM not achieving his targets there was, as you suggest, a problem with the way he went about it with his, seeming, lack of concern about how things were achieved, i.e. not caring about the players and crass leadership, e.g. public b*ll**kings. We cannot compare his failings with those of the Spanish 2 in the transfer market, it’s much too broad vs. narrow.

Messrs Agüero and Dzeko (and hopefully Guidetti plus 1 other) will have stated targets next season – to stick the ball in the back of the net. If they miss those targets in one game but ‘play out of their skins’ (or whatever metaphor you fancy) in the process then we’ll say ‘bad luck and better luck next time’. Isco and Cavani were goals in a game, albeit a big one I accept. However, if one preferred not to come and one was too expensive then we move on to the next match and the ‘Spanish 2’ get selected again for the next game… if we accept they didn’t miss sitters and tried their best, which I’m sure they did. That’s where we have our debate: we don’t have any evidence about their performance in the build up to the missed Isco and Cavani ‘goals’ (and they did score 2 in the next game!) but we certainly know that in Isco’s case the defence’s wall was too strong to breach… but now we’re getting into medieval courts again!

Going back to comparing things to RM’s failings, Isco and Cavani were not respectively comparable to the PL and CL in their entirety and I think failing to land them is not, in my humble opinion, a reason to dump the Spanish 2 from the team and brand them idiots. OK, I accept I should say, ask the question if they are idiots! Their rôle and business objectives are much, much broader than achieving 100% of transfer targets and they are just that, targets, like goals are for Agüero et al. The Spanish 2’s objectives are all about the whole holistic approach that we are all starting to understand and, I hope, applaud. Growing our own players as opposed to buying new ones all the time is much, much more important in that scenario. I just don’t think we can knock them on the performance in ‘one game’.

As for the sacking of RM – yes, badly done I’ll agree but it was all over the press about Pellegrini and thus their options were very limited. The Chairman had to have had a big hand in RM going as well and I respect him far too much to throw any dirt at his door; I’m sure he wanted it done in a much better way. RM can’t complain that much though, talks with him were again in the press before Mark Hughes got the boot!

So yes, there we were in the snug debating the performance of the Spanish 2 and you thought they’d had a bad game and I didn’t. I thought your analysis and opinions were too strong and retorted in a like-minded way. But you went to the bar for another round and I popped into the gents and after a huff and puff here we still are. We’re back in the snug and onto the next pint and sharing a packet of Walkers and looking forward to some more healthy debate over the team performance and yes of course, team selection in its broadest sense!

Cheers Phil!

P.S. We’ve now of course done some more business and if you think about Cavani we’ve got ‘2 for the price of 1’! The 2 signings mentioned above has now grown to 4 and in support of my arguments in favour of the ‘Spanish 2’, may I recommend this excellent MEN article in case you’ve not seen it: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/slick-manchester-city-enjoying-quiet-5145942

Graham <graham.schofield(at)yahoo.com>

A BEAST OF A SIGNING?

Alvaro Negredo stands six foot one and has a well-earned reputation as a goal scorer, having been the top Spanish scorer in La Liga for Sevilla last season with 25 goals: no mean feat. His career started at Rayo Vallecano, the club from the working class Madrid suburb of Vallecas (an area that was renowned for its resistance to the fascist Franco). After making his début with Rayo, he spent a couple of years in Real Madrid’s B team and earned the nickname La fiera de Vallecas (The beast of Vallecas).

He didn’t make it in Real Madrid’s first team and started to build his career, helping newly promoted Almeria to 8th place in 2007/8, weighing in with 13 goals. He improved further the next season, netting 19 goals in what was then the best League in Europe. After exercising their 5 million Euro buy back option, Real Madrid sold him to Sevilla for a reputed 15.5 million Euro. Maybe City could do something like this with some of our youngsters who don’t break through initially (if we haven’t already)? Just a thought…

If his days at Almeria were impressive, Negredo really built his reputation at Sevilla, where his record stands at:

         League  League   Cup    Cup
         apps    goals    apps   goals
2009/10  35      11       12      3
2010/11  38      20       17      6
2011/12  30      14        6      0
2012/13  36      25        6      6
----------------------------------------
2012/13  139     70       41     15

On top of that, Negredo has scored 6 goals in 14 appearances for Spain, to underline his pedigree, and played his part in their victorious Euro 2012 Championship campaign.

Call me Statto if you like, but the stats don’t tell the whole picture. Not only is Negredo a goalscorer but he is known for his physical strength, his ability to hold the ball and bring his team mates into the game. He should have the attributes to thrive in England, and hopefully he will be a roaring success here. At 27, he is in the prime of his career.

I’ve loved watching Tévez and Agüero link up but it would be good to see a traditional number 9 up front for City, and there is no reason why he cannot link up with Agüero, Silva and Navas in attack (he is perhaps too similar to Dzeko for them to play together). Negredo has already said that he relishes playing with Navas again, and it almost goes without saying that his ex-Sevilla team mate should be able to provide the kind of service that he thrives on.

It should be noted that Negredo has scored more goals in his second seasons at Almeria and Sevilla, so next season could be a settling in year for him at City, and we may see the best of him in 2014/15.

On the face of it, £20.6 million represents good value for money for Negredo, especially when you see that Paris St Germain have signed Edinson Cavani for £53 million. No matter how brilliant Cavani is, and he is a terrific all round striker, that is too much money for anyone. I am pleased that City were not held to ransom by Napoli’s gob-on-a-stick of a president, Aurelio De Laurentiis. While we are on the subject of PSG, isn’t it strange how silent Michel Platini is when they splash big? He certainly doesn’t make the same comments that he makes about City when we spend. Couldn’t be due to the fact that PSG are a French club or could it be the fact that Platini’s son has had links with PSG and its Qatari owners? It wouldn’t after all, be politic for Platini to criticise anything to do with Qatar with him having ambitions of FIFA’s top job when Blatter is finally ousted. I’ve no problem with PSG splashing it big (it would be hypocritical to do so), but it would appear that Platini has a very warped view of Financial Fair Play to say the least. PSG certainly don’t make as much money in TV revenue, through the gate or merchandising as the top English clubs so how can they spend so much? How do PSG comply with his so-called “Financial Fair Play” regulations? As ever, the so-called “Financial Fair Play” regulations are all about the Establishment protecting themselves, and Platini is very much Establishment. As Paul Weller once warbled, “What chance have you got against a tie and a crest?”

We are likely to have four strikers with Agüero, Dzeko, and Negredo (John Guidetti may go on loan at Sunderland), and our other new signing Stevan Jovetic, who can also play in an attacking midfield rôle or out on the left. Silva, Navas and Nasri can also play as part of an attacking 3 in a 4-3-3 formation, so there will be plenty of options for Manuel Pellegrini to consider.

Hopefully Navas and Fernandinho can add the much-needed pace to the midfield that has been lacking for a few years now.

It is pleasing that City have got the buying done relatively early this summer. Fair play to Begiristain and Pellegrini for getting the business done in time for a proper pre-season. Time will tell of course, but the new signings don’t look like the batch of desperate signings that we signed at the back end of last summer who (Nastasic aside) failed to make an impact. It’s a cause for guarded optimism, as we don’t know how the new players are going to settle in. Indeed, all our players have to adapt to each other, the new management team, and new tactics. It will take time for everyone, including Manuel Pellegrini, to adjust.

I never put too much store by pre-season friendlies (it goes back to the summer of 1998 when we won them all and promptly had the worst season in our history, getting relegated to Division Three for hopefully the only time in our history). Two losses in South Africa were disappointing, but remember these City players have just returned to pre-season training and are still well undercooked.

I’m cautiously optimistic about this season, but in truth will only be happy if we improve on last season in terms of points and performances in the Cups. Otherwise, why make a change in manager and players? Hopefully we will see that improvement. Whilst we have no divine right to anything, it would be great to have the league title back on our mantelpiece in a season, as well as improve in Europe (i.e. qualify through to the knock-out stages even if, or more likely when, we get another predictably devilish group). If I can be greedy (though I still can’t believe this has all happened to us!), it would also be nice to exorcise the ghost of Wembley last May.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)tiscali.co.uk>

KOTK 207

Pleased to announce that King Of The Kippax number 207 is currently at the printers and should be in the outlets at the National Footy Museum, Aleef (corner of Cross Street and Market Street) and Bha1ji newsagents Merseyway, Stockport.

It is A4, colour front and back cover, 56 pages, sells at £3 and can also be bought in the UK for £4.50 including P&P from KOTK, 25, Holdenbrook Close, Leigh, Lancs, WN7 2HL.

This issue is the One and Only Holistic fanzine of the Champions of the 20th Premier League season (the Rags can stick their 20 titles up their a*ses).

We’ve got Pellegrini on the front cover. Note how City delayed the announcements of the ground expansion until he was appointed, ’cause as an Engineer it’s obviously part of his duties to supervise these works. Well that’s my theory anyway.

Back cover is a tribute to the magician, Roberto Mancini.

This issue includes the summer diary, the Cup final (lest we forget), Frank Swift book review, Boys in Blue film review, FFP, Class of 2012/13, Fergie’s Wallets, Maine Road memories, Mancini, Pellegrini, Justice for Armani, and all the usual regular City nutcases.

Out before your summer holiday so make the most of it.

Dave and Sue Wallace <dw001e8104(at)blueyonder.co.uk>

MCIVTA FANTASY LEAGUE

The MCIVTA fantasy leagues have been set-up again. You will automatically rejoin the league when you re-register at http://fantasy.premierleague.com/

If you didn’t play last year but want to join in this season the code for the classic league is 244205-65888.

The code for the head to head league is 244205-65912.

Work and personal commitments meant I didn’t manage many updates last season. I will try to do better this time round.

Dave Kilroy <dave.kilroy(at)ntlworld.com>

PRICEWATCH

The club had a three hour window when all merchandise was reduced by 20% for all online customers, the website saying “Between 7pm and 10pm on Wednesday 17 July you can get the new 2013/14 Home shirt for just £44.”

It would appear that sales of the new Nike shirt must be slow if they are already reduced in July. What do the Club expect? Times are tough, season ticket prices have gone up way above inflation, and most pay rises (IF we get one) are below inflation. MCFC should be cutting the prices for this poorer quality Nike product, not increasing them.

Accounts from dissatisfied City fans of bobbles and pulls in the new shiny material are already surfacing. £44 is still far too much for a replica football shirt, even in better times, and especially one which is inferior to last season’s shirt. Hopefully at least this reduction, albeit temporary, is a sign of realism in MCFC’s/Kitbag’s merchandising pricing.

It should be noted that Everton/Kitbag had a similar 20% reduction for 3 hours on the same day though for some reason, their shirt was originally £50 as opposed to City’s £55.

What we need to see is a lasting drop in prices, and a drop in season and match ticket prices.

I’ll say it again, if football clubs lived in the real world, season ticket prices should be cut too (though Platini is much to blame with this).

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)tiscali.co.uk>

ASIA TROPHY IN HONG KONG

Manchester City Overseas Supporters’ Club, Hong Kong, warmly welcomes all visiting Blues fans / friends coming for the Asia Trophy . A number of events have been scheduled at our Home ‘Maya Bar and Lounge’ Lockhart Rd Wan Chai (turn left from exit C MTR Wan Chai) and carry on to next block. Look for the banners outside: “We’re not really here”. Come and join us for true HK hospitality!

See you there!

Tom Derbyshire <bluemoonbn(at)yahoo.com.au>

AND FINALLY… THOUGHTS FOR MANUEL

Manuel Pellegrini is mourning the loss of his mum, just a few months after losing his dad. It must be a very difficult time for the family.

Sincere condolences to him and his family at this very difficult time.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)tiscali.co.uk>

RESULTS AND TABLE

Final League table 2012 / 2013

                        P / GD / Pts
 1 Manchester Utd      38 / 43 / 89 CLQ
 2 Manchester City     38 / 32 / 78 CLQ
 3 Chelsea             38 / 36 / 75 CLQ
 4 Arsenal             38 / 35 / 73
-----------------------------------
 5 Tottenham Hotspur   38 / 20 / 72
-----------------------------------
 6 Everton             38 / 15 / 63
 7 Liverpool           38 / 28 / 61
 8 West Bromwich Alb   38 / -4 / 49
 9 Swansea City        38 / -4 / 46 ELQ
10 West Ham Utd        38 / -8 / 46
11 Norwich City        38 /-17 / 44
12 Fulham              38 /-10 / 43
13 Stoke City          38 /-11 / 42
14 Newcastle Utd       38 /-23 / 41
15 Southampton         38 /-11 / 41
16 Aston Villa         38 /-22 / 41
17 Sunderland          38 /-13 / 39
-----------------------------------
18 Wigan Athletic      38 /-26 / 36 R/ELQ
19 Reading             38 /-30 / 28 R
20 QPR                 38 /-30 / 25 R

With thanks to Football 365

MCIVTA FAQ [v1112.01]

[1] MCIVTA Addresses

Articles (Philip Alcock)         : editor@mcivta.city-fan.org
News/rumour                      : news@mcivta.city-fan.org
Subscriptions (Madeleine Hawkins): subscriptions@mcivta.city-fan.org
Technical problems (Paul)        : paul@city-fan.org
FAQ (David Warburton)            : faq@mcivta.city-fan.org

[2] What are MCIVTA’s publishing deadlines?

Deadlines for issues are nominally 6pm, Monday and Thursday evenings by email. Unfortunately we cannot accept email attachments.

[3] MCIVTA Back Issues and Manchester City Supporters’ home page/Twitter

http://www.mcivta.com/ is the unofficial Manchester City Supporters’ home page. Created in 1994, it is the longest running of the Manchester City related web sites. Back issues of MCIVTA are also hosted on the site. You can also follow on www.twitter.com/mcivta to get the latest updates.

[4] What is the club’s official web site?

The official club web site can be found at http://www.mcfc.co.uk/ and the official club Twitter page at www.twitter.com/mcfc. The club also has a facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/mcfcofficial

[5] What supporters’ clubs are there?

The Official Supporters’ Club and the Centenary Supporters’ Association have merged to become the Manchester City Supporters’ Club (http://www.mcfcsupportersclub.com/). The club also recognise the Manchester City Disabled Supporters’ Association (http://www.mcdsa.co.uk/).

[6] Where can I find out about Points of Blue?

The committee operates as an interface between supporters and the club. Points of Blue appears on the club website under the “Fans” heading (http://www.mcfc.co.uk/Fans).

[7] What match day broadcasts are available on the web?

Live match commentary can be found on the club website. The Radio Manchester pre- and post-match phone-in is available on the web at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/england/manchester/.

[8] Where can I find out if City are live on satellite TV?

http://www.satfootball.com/ provides a listing of Premier League games being shown on UK domestic and foreign satellite channels. A useful site for North American viewers is http://msn.foxsports.com/.

[9] Do we have a Usenet newsgroup?

Yes we do: uk.sport.football.clubs.man-city is our home on usenet. If you are not familiar with Usenet, a basic explanation is available here: http://searchnetworking.techtarget.com/definition/Usenet

[10] Do any squad members have their own web pages?

There are a number available and direct links can be found at http://www.mcivta.com/players/

[11] Do any squad members have their own Twitter accounts?

A list of genuine player accounts is maintained at http://twitter.com/#!/MCFC/players

[12] Where can I find match statistics?

Statistics for the current season are available from the club site, but for a more in-depth historical analysis try http://www.mcfcstats.com/.


DISCLAIMER
The views expressed in MCIVTA are entirely those of the subscribersand there is no intention to represent these opinions as being thoseof Manchester City Football Club, nor of any of the companies anduniversities by whom the subscribers are employed. It is not inany way whatsoever connected to the club or any other relatedorganisation and is simply a group of supporters using this mediumas a means of disseminating news and exchanging opinions.


[Valid3.2]Philip Alcock, editor@mcivta.city-fan.org

Newsletter #1914

2013/07/22

Editor:


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