Newsletter #1918

Drum roll please!

It’s here!

All the boyish enthusiasm has returned after the anti-climax of last season and the Changing of the Guard.

Manuel has assembled a good looking squad and, whilst still looking for a centre back, we look all set to go.

The only question now is, will it be a rip roaring start or an Arsenal-style mis-fire? Time will tell.

What we do already know after yesterday’s games is that the Rags will be doing us no favours. Despite looking ordinary for 30 minutes they rattled in 4 goals. Clearly we are going to have to go win this title. No one is going to hand it to us.

Let’s roll our sleeves up, expect a roller-coaster and hope for a triumph.

Bring it on!

Next Game: 19 August, Newcastle United, Etihad Stadium, 20:00 BST


At first it seemed Mr. Mancini had been a good choice but personally after some time I found his apparent strategies from match to match were a bit anticipated/expected by other managers in the Premier League. Difficulties soon emerged that season with his managing of the players, in particularly Mr. Tévez and Mr. Balotelli and also his substitutions, which had me puzzled at times.

Then last season they just got by but again it was seemingly hit and miss and leaving you puzzled at the strategies, with substitutions again that were not at all clear and it became noticeable early on that Mr. Garcia was not a good player, at least for City in the Premier League, that Mr. Maicon was another Brazilian player not suited to City or the English football scene and in fact seemingly gave up noticeably on the field when he was given playing time, particularly in one of the Champions’ League matches, and I did wonder at Yaya Touré’s attitude at times. I was under the impression that Mr. Kidd was second in charge but seemingly it appeared at the side of the pitch at least Mr. Platt had more to do with substitutions and so I was not surprised Mr. Platt also left and therefore was that also part of the “man management” failure within the dressing room?

For the coming season, City will have to find an attack that shoots at goal and not try to walk the ball into an opponent’s net all the time: I guess a mixture of both would keep the opposition guessing more!

Kompany: will he be better this coming season? Last season he was found wanting but maybe that was also a reflection of the unrest within the dressing room. However, I have heard one pundit express the view that the City defence will be their weak point and not give them the top four place at the end of the new season ahead!

The way of technology now is that from this season ahead here in New Zealand we will have to look more to the Internet and watch on computers until personally I decide to upgrade our TV screen, as Sky NZ has not got the main contract to broadcast the Premier League matches in the NZ territory.

However, I’m looking forward to Monday night’s match and watching it here in NZ on my computer on Tuesday morning; such is progress I am told! A far cry from my one and only visit to St. James’ Park (or does it have a new name these days?) and when my pal and I arrived at the ground it was under a blanket of snow and the game was cancelled and we instead we went to a Newcastle cinema and watched “For Whom the Bell Tolls”.

Very sad to learn of the passing of Bert and I recall watching him make saves galore, none more telling than at least one he made in the FA Cup match at Southend United I attended in 1956: in my view that one particular save got City through to the winning of the Final.

Trevor Bevan <mate.bevan(at)>


The new season has finally arrived and an exciting season is about to begin, with the club making several changes. Manuel Pellegrini is about to make his start in the English Premier League; I feel that with his experience and strong squad he should do well. Four new players have joined the club so far – Jesus Navas to give us that width needed, Fernandinho to bolster the midfield with speed, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic as strikers to produce more goals.

Matija Nastasic, who got injured versus Sunderland in Hong Kong, will be missing for the first few games; he was playing so well last season and was very mature for his age. I hope that he is able to return soon.

In the meantime, the news is that City are trying to find another central defender; efforts are being made to get Pepe from Madrid, who is a very tough player and personally I would be afraid of him getting red cards in crucial games in the Premier League.

Joleon Lescott, who is chasing MCFC to give him a new contract, has just celebrated his 31st birthday (happy birthday); I can only see Lescott as a backup. He could stay with the club, the same goes for Gareth Barry, then both off to join the new MLS club New York City; at their age it would be a good choice. These players help City have more depth with a strong squad.

Micah Richards, who plays right back (and in the past central defender), is fit again; great to see him return. MCFC are going to make a special tribute to Bert Trautmann before the game starts against Newcastle, a fitting start to City’s new season!

City are ready… come on you Blues!

CTWD, Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


We’re approaching the play-offs for the group stages of the Champions’ League. If all games go in favour of the higher ranked clubs in each tie, City will be the highest ranked team in pot 3. We need one of the following results:

  • Arsenal to lose to Fenerbahce
  • Lyon to lose to Real Sociedad
  • Schalke to lose to PAOK (they were to play Metalist Kharkiv but UEFA havethrown Metalist out of the competition)
  • Zenit to lose to Pacos de Ferreira (Portugal’s third qualifier)

Even if Arsenal lose, Fenerbahce could be thrown out of the competition if they lose an appeal in the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Presumably Arsenal would be reinstated. Let’s hope for an upset somewhere.

Roger Haigh <Rogerhaigh(at)>


First up is the Bar Codes, Magpies, Newcassell. So a mash up from the North East is in order.

Toon fans have their own fanzine, aptly called The Mag. Quite clever that pun, well thought out.

Anyway, much to my amusement, the humour from one of the contributors – Dean Wilkins – reminds me of the sad days of yore:

Pick your worst City cringe-worthy moment:

  • Peter Swales on TV (any time on TV)
  • MEN Headline – “City sign Stockport ace”
  • The forward (then downward) with Franny campaign
  • A pitch invasion at Sincil Bank as Lincoln beat Man City
  • Friday Frank (Clark) likes to bring his guitar to training sessions at Carrington

I could go on and develop a nasty carpel tunnel injury with the amount of entries. Anyway, hopefully they are consigned to history (which we don’t have according to Liverpool and Man Utd fans).

My first ever King of the Kippax fanzine I read in the 80’s was the last of the season; anyway, it featured a competition for fans to submit their worst ever 1st team City 11. You could pick from any era, past and present, but they had to be in formation. I think the winner won a year’s subscription to the fanzine. So I submitted my negative fantasy team (I can’t remember the team but I remember Ged Keegan featured as he is the only player I remember coming on as a tactical substitution and then being so bad that some 15/20 minutes later he was tactically substituted off). I eagerly awaited the next edition of the new season to see if I had made the cut for inclusion.

I quickly turned to the page to see the results. The editor admitted that the response had been overwhelming and he had been deluged with entries (this was all mail back then) so much so the sheer volume, diversity and breadth of entries from the 1920s to the present day filled his kitchen. He went on to say when he saw the postman needing a special trolley for his house, he felt ill. The competition had completely ruined his whole summer and he had to spend a day in The Priory such was the depressingly voluminous response.

One of my favourite City war stories centres around the fanzine “Electric Blue”, which I can regale another day; I’ve told this to Man Utd fans countless times and never fails to amuse.

But this article appeared in “The Mag” and is worthy of a wider viewing than the Toon Army public and it makes me shudder at how things were and swell with pride as to how things are.

Respect goes to Newcastle United fan – Dean Wilkins!

Ha’way the Sheikh!

If Only The Sheikh Had Done The A1 To Newcastle Instead Of M62 To Manchester, by Dean Wilkins

I was one of the many who thought we had struck gold; an English billionaire who was the main mover in the sports leisurewear industry, the contacts he must have. What could possibly go wrong? As it turns out, there was the odd thing or fifty…

It isn’t so much the five or six new quality players that Manchester City buy each year, though one or two would be nice. Since Sheikh Mansour led the buyout of City, the team has raised the level on the pitch but they have also done a lot off it. Even down to getting fans in to sample various pies and pints etc. in pre-season, then picking the best from the feedback to serve over the coming season. Fan involvement, what a radical idea. Obviously the Sheikh isn’t there personally knocking up pints and warming up the pies; instead there is another radical idea they have embraced: bringing in a professional team to run the club off the pitch.

Surely that’s cheating? Shouldn’t all clubs be run like Newcastle to give us a level playing field?

Next time you are queuing on the phone trying to buy a ticket, or the club have cocked up your season ticket… just count the minutes going by as with every passing 60 seconds Mike Ashley is making a penny or two more from your call (the club ticket phone line isn’t a basic minimum call rate system) because he doesn’t employ enough staff to answer the phones.

While Newcastle wait 48 hours after he has ran amok on Sky Sports, before even confirming they’ve re-employed a madman to be main man at the club and have made even more staff cutbacks behind the scenes (despite the ever increasing Premier League riches), Manchester City are driving forward with more fan inclusive initiatives to bind everything together, creating a real platform for long-term success while Newcastle United’s only idea is to come up with various cheaper deals to try to keep the ground full.

As Ashley/Kinnear give us the run-around with transfer window hide and seek, Manchester City paraded their new signings at a huge choreographed event for the fans. Last Thursday (August 8) City launched their 2013/14 campaign in front of thousands of fans.

With all first team players in attendance, City’s new manager, Manuel Pellegrini, answered fans’ questions live on stage (at the end of last season Alan Pardew had a planned Q&A on Radio Newcastle cancelled at the last minute – no doubt to ensure no repeat of the previous year’s interview when the manager stated as fact that various players would be bought, only for the rug to be pulled from under him).

The event was hosted by Jake Humphrey, who is the main man delivering BT Sport’s new football coverage. City’s new signings Negredo, Jovetic, Navas and Fernandinho were paraded in front of the fans and Alvaro Negredo also spoke to the fans, while club captain Vincent Kompany also addressed the crowd.

City-supporting Jason Manford did a stand-up spot talking about his life supporting the club, while Miles Kane provided the music side of things. The awards for last season were also handed out, the result of 26,000 fans voting in the various categories.

I could cry with frustration when I know what the potential is at Newcastle; just imagine how many City fans came away from this event buzzing and then splashed out on some new City merchandise on the back of that feel-good factor.

Maybe Newcastle United could have still put on a low budget equivalent, with Joe Kinnear doing a stand-up routine telling us about his astonishing career of World Cup wins etc. Meanwhile we could have Remy hobbling around the stage waving to the crowd and everybody have to guess how many weeks/months it will be before our only ‘signing’ is fit. Both Manchester City and Newcastle United are really pushing the boundaries; unfortunately they are even further apart than the A1 and M62.

Phil Lines <philipjlines(at)>


Can you find a little space for this plea?

If anyone has a spare ticket (or two even) we would be very happy to purchase them.

Mancunian exiles in Cardiff, Ian Bell <bells(at)>


The new season is upon us at last. Increases in ticket prices and new strips at rip-off prices continue to blight the game as clubs have redoubled their efforts to maximise revenue to meet so-called “fair play” regulations, which are anything but fair play to cash-strapped fans. Football is becoming more difficult to watch from a financial point of view, but it retains its magnetic pull. The Premier League (I’d much rather call it Division One like we used to) has its enduring appeal and this particular writer cannot wait for City to start on Monday. Here is an off-beat guide to this season and the runners and riders.

The Gunners’ board have spent most of the summer pretending to go for the stellar names. They “lost out” to Napoli for Higuain, then put a bid in to trigger Suarez’s right to talk to them but not enough money to buy him as Liverpool have held firm. We can expect to hear whining self-righteous Arsenal fans whining about how City have “ruined football” and Wenger going on about “financial doping” whilst conveniently forgetting the huge money that Danny Fizsman provided them to buy Bergkamp, Henry, Vieira, Overmars, Pires and others. Of course there is nothing wrong in Arsenal’s very public pursuit of the buck-toothed racist in Liverpool (so ask me, ask me, ask me…), unsettling another club’s striker so publically and not following through isn’t “ruining football” is it! Hypocrisy aside, Arsenal will continue to play nice, if soft-centred football and are nailed on for 4th place, especially if Tottenham sell Bale. I’m kind of hoping that they fail though…

Aston Villa:
Paul Lambert’s young side looked like relegation certainties for a long time as their inexperience cost them on several occasions: throwing away winning positions and conceding late losing goals. That they rallied and overcame this with something to spare says a lot about their character and their manager’s tactical powers and ability to raise their spirits. Benteke’s goals were crucial in preserving their status and his signing of a new contract (after making noises about leaving) is a huge boost to Villa. Expect an improvement and safe mid-table finish even if there may be a little turbulence along the way. Prediction: 10th

Cardiff City:
2013/14 will be their first season in the top flight for 51 years and they have broken their transfer record three times to bolster their squad. They are not a free flowing side like their South Wales neighbours and will find the Premier League very tough: Prediction: 19th

Chelsea: City’s main threat for the title. They may not possess the all round strength and athleticism of their best recent teams, but in Mata, Oscar and Hazard they possess three highly intelligent playmakers and Frank Lampard is still good for at least ten goals. Their defence is not what it was though: Luiz remains a liability and Cahill is not in the same class as Terry at his best. Whether their pursuit of Rooney is succesful or not, Mourinho knows the English Premier League and is adept at getting his teams to win by the odd goal. The main danger for City is that Chelsea might get away from us early on as our new signings bed in. Prediction (let’s not burden City, eh): 1st.

Crystal Palace:
Promoted via the play-offs, and their fans were “Glad all over”. They are always a colourful addition to the top flight but their ground is a booger to get to. Their four previous seasons in the Premier League have resulted in relegation and there is little evidence to suggest that they will avoid a fifth immediate drop from the top flight since Murdoch’s millions changed English football. They sold their best player in Zaha and possess little proven quality, which suggests a grim struggle lies ahead, but considering they were at financial meltdown not so long ago their noisy fans will take their club being owned by genuine Palace fans and having a visit to the top table. Prediction: 18th.

Replacing Moyes with a manager who has just taken a team down is a curious choice and Martinez is doing his best to turn them into Wigerton with three signings from his old club (Kone may be half decent). Evertonians I have spoken to face the season with no little trepidation (some have even semi-jokingly mentioned the “R” word). If they sell Fellaini and/or Baines they will do well to finish in the top half. Still, they have been our most difficult opponents for several years now, so we won’t underestimate them. Hopefully Manuel has a cunning plan… Prediction: 12th (they will sell Baines as Moyes desperately makes a late signing).

Fulham have a new owner, Jacksonville NFL owner Shahid Khan, after 16 years of excellent stewardship of Mohamed Al Fayed (two promotions and top flight consolidation). Adel Taraabt and Darren Bent (season loan) look like flaky signings but the canny Martin Jol generally knows what he’s doing and got other low profile buying done early (Amorebieta from Bilbao, Derek Boateng and others). Dutch international keeper Stekelenberg could be a good replacement for Schwarzer (Chelsea). Prediction: They’ll come through some turbulence: 15th.

Hull City:
The Tigers limped over the line in a nail biting finish, which suggested that major reinforcements were needed. The Elephant Man has been busy this summer with no fewer than ten new recruits. Huddlestone (on a 3 year deal) and Livermore (year long loan) are decent enough signings from Tottenham, but Danny Graham has never convinced anyone at this level and overall there is too much of a gulf to bridge for them and their stay in the top flight is unlikely to last as long as their last: Prediction: 20th.

How the mighty have fallen. The club that swept all before it built on the great work of Shankly, Paisley and bed rocks of team work and professionalism has indulged the buck toothed racist and their season is at his whim. Or is it? LFC have dug their heels in and the buck-toothed racist has no contractual leg to stand on according to the PFA. This could be the making of Danny Sturridge and it could well pull them together even more.The Red Scousers improved steadily last season and had the better of two games against us (Sergio’s equalising goal for us here was stunning, our best strike of the season) and whilst they may lack the overall cutting edge to re-enter the Chimps League, and Gerrard is past his very best, he is still a match winner and they may outstrip a weakened Tottenham. Prediction: 5th.

Manchester City:
City have done well in the transfer market, buying early, and buying quality low maintenance players. Navas and Fernandinho will add much needed pace to the City midfield and give us something that we’ve lacked for years: the ability to counter attack at pace. Negredo, who was the top Spanish scorer in La Liga with 25 goals, will also add physical presence up front and it will be good to see a traditional number 9 in sky blue again. Jovetic will bring guile and options at inside left, up front and in midfield, but the word from Florence is that he is a delicate player. The formidable defence that Roberto Mancini built needs reinforcement to maintain its meanness and Manuel Pellegrini is seeking out another centre half. Four new players and a manager is a lot to integrate into a team. Time will tell of course how well these new signings and Manuel Pellegrini will settle into the English Premier League but City have a better squad than last season and should go close to regaining the title and possibly qualifying from another fiendishly difficult Chimps League Group. Obviously I hope we win the title but suspect we’ll be 2nd.

Newcastle United:
After their admirable 5th place finish in 2011/2012, the Geordies suffered for having injuries hitting their small squad as they took on the challenge of the Premier League and Platini’s ill-conceived Europa League. A clutch of unsung French signings in January helped stave off a slide into relegation. Without the burden of the Europa League (bring back the UEFA Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup), Newcastle should finish comfortably in the top half of the table. There is a big caveat to that. For some reason Mike Ashley appointed Joe Kinnear as a Director of Football (JFK as he is known to Geordie fans, previously had a disastrous spell at the club, which led to relegation after he’d been sacked) and he immediately put his foot in it with ill-judged comments as he marked out his turf over the signing of players. Alan Pardew is a good manager and if he is allowed to manage without interference, and they have a little more luck with injuries, Newcastle will finish 7th.

Norwich City:
Flirted with relegation for a while but eventually rallied to pull away and finish in a slightly flattering 11th, aided somewhat by City’s strictly flip flops capitulation on the final day. Chris Hughton knows quality though and having long term targets Gary Hooper and the brilliantly named Ricky Van Wolfswinkel, the Canaries’ attack should gave more potency, with Grant Holt having departed for Wigan. Theie defence still has a leaky look about it and may curtail their progress. Prediction: 14th.

Whilst City have quietly gone about our transfer business with a minimum of fuss, the Rags have become embroiled in a public stand off with Rugney that started off last season under Bacon Face. To make things worse (I mean better!), Moyes has looked out of his depth in his handling of the situation, blurting out that the Granny-botherer is 2nd choice. They don’t want to sell to a domestic rival, Rugney wants to go, and is in a deep sulk. United are being played by Chelsea, their team gets a year older, their new manager is out of his depth, he’s whining about the fixture list already, and the main reason why they have won the title in recent years is no longer manager. There is a God. Not writing them off, because referees move in strange ways (we should never underestimate the power of the establishment), but there is a real whiff of The Last Days of the (Evil) Empire about them and it’s getting stronger – whisper it gently: a bit like Liverpool circa 1990. A cold wind bloweth over Trafford… Prediction: 3rd (and Moyes may well be back on Merseyside within 10 months).

The Saints lost 8 of their first 10 games but settled into top flight football to finish 14th. We know to our cost what they can do and Southampton really showed their mettle in thrashing City at St Mary’s. They’ve been careful in the transfer market this summer, bolstering their defence with the signing of highly-rated Croatian defender Dejan Lovren from Lyon. The signing of Victor Wanyama is a real coup for the Saints and should add more power to complement Schneiderlin in central midfield. Given the quality they already possess in the likes of Adam Lallana, Steven Davis and Ricky Lambert, they could be this season’s surprise team. Prediction: 8th.

Stoke City:
There were groans all over the Potteries from Tunstall to Longton as Stoke announced Mark Hughes as successor to Tony Pulis. Not a popular choice given that he is largely responsible for QPR’s relegation despite having huge transfer budget and given the fact that he walked out on Fulham two years ago in a manner that suggested that he felt they weren’t good enough for him (who is to say he wouldn’t do the same at Stoke?). Hughes has a reputation to rebuild (it is a long time since his halcyon days at Blackburn) and the man who had a say in the signings of Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, de Jong and Tévez for MCFC (we haven’t forgotten Bridge, Santa Cruz and Adebayor, though) will have his work cut out to keep the Potters out of trouble. Clubs that have changed from a more direct style of play to a passing game have always struggled (Sheffield Wednesday in the 80s, Wimbledon later on) and Hughes’s challenge is to refine Stoke’s game and deliver results. The paucity of the promoted three should be enough to keep Stoke safe but will it keep Hughes in a job? Prediction: 17th.

Paolo Di Canio can change several players and rant and rave in his own inimitable, irrational style but the results will probably be the same: another season struggle, a big canoodle with relegation and they will just about survive. The Mackem faithful deserve a bit better than that. Prediction: 16th.

Swansea City:
Delighted many people outside South Wales again with their pleasing brand of football, which richly merited the first trophy in their history. They are cut out to do well in Europe but Thursday night football is likely to have a detrimental effect on their League form. Still, Michael Laudrup has not stood still, signing three young Spanish players, and has broken the club’s record transfer with the £12 million acquisition of Cote D’Ivoire international striker Wilfred Bony who has already bagged a couple of goals in Europe. Prediction: 13th.

Losing Gareth Bale would be a massive blow to their ambition of Champions’ League qualification. In Daniel Levy they have an astute, hard-nosed businessman at the helm and if he can extract £105 million from Real Madrid (hmmm… how do they do that!) for Bale, Tottenham can add more depth and quality over the next 12 months, which will allow them to close the gap with the top four sides in the longer term. As for this summer, Paulinho looks like a good signing if he can settle into the Premier League hurly burly and £26 million Soldado scored a lot of goals for Valencia last season. We can expect the usual tough games with Tottenham and AVB is no fool: 6th (assuming that Bale will go).

West Brom:
Had a really good season finishing 8th under the astute Steve Clarke, which represented their best finish since 1980/81 when Regis, Batson and Co. finished 4th. They played some neat football but will miss Lukaku’s pace and strength. In his place have come 34 year old Nicolas Anelka and Matej Vydra on loan from Udinese, who did well at Watford last season. Their small squad will struggle to emulate last season but if they can avoid too many injuries they should finish safely in mid table. Prediction: 11th.

West Ham:
The top flight is always a better place in it and they consolidated their first season back with a top ten finish. Sam Allardyce’s direct tactics and reliance on set pieces predictably are not to everyone’s taste in East London and Essex but they are grateful for the results. The injury prone Andy Carroll’s loan has turned into a full transfer and he should be able to thrive on the service of Matt Jarvis, and possibly fellow Liverpool reject, Stewart Downing. Whatever, the evergreen Kevin Nolan will weigh in with more than his fair share of match winning goals. Prediction: 9th.

There it is. It gave me something to do on a night when I couldn’t sleep and there was a nice bottle of wine that needed sampling. I know none of you are daft enough to put on any money on the basis of my ramblings, but I tell you what, Uwe’s Brentford might be a nice each way bet to go up… Good luck to him, and to City.

Have a great, hopefully double-winning, European-conquering, season. Come on City!

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>

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Newsletter #1918