Newsletter #732

Tonight’s issue contains reports from both Tranmere and Huddersfield (where we notched up a convincing 2-0 win), so thanks chaps for those. Good to see that young Etuhu is still proving his worth and my point after 3 years slog of following the reserves!

We also have Michael’s news, some more opinion and a couple of requests and offers and a coffee break corner quiz.

Roll on 11th August when football proper returns to the City of Manchester.

Next game: Watford home, Saturday 11 August (6.15pm)


Sorry folks, I’m afraid it’s back to my bi-weekly trawl/rant re the city news. Lots of thanks to Peter for his brief return to family values and comprehensive summaries. By the way, don’t go to Sandown on the Isle of Wight, unless you’re over 90!

General Stuff

Skip on Lou Macari: City put their woeful pre-season form behind them to beat the bookie’s friend Macari’s Huddersfield 2-0 at the McAlpine Stadium. Goals from Wanchope and Goater finished off the Terriers, though performances from Eyal Berkovic and Dickson Etuthu caught the eye of many Blues. Biggest cheer of the night went to the half time parading of Andy Morrison, as both sets of fans applauded the defensive colossus. Berkovic pulled the strings in midfield and admitted that he wasn’t even close to match fitness, saying, “I’m just 50 to 60 per cent fit now, and I didn’t want to finish the game because of the way I will feel in the morning. I hope I will be alright by next Saturday which is the most important thing at the moment.” Etuhu meanwhile is being touted as a shock starter in City’s first match of the season against Watford.

Paulo Wants to Stay: Despite the desperate attempts by the genial agent Dennis Roach to hawk our Paulo around anybody with a spare £4-5 million in the bank, the star of the Copa America wants to stay at Maine Road. In an interview with BBC GMR this week, Wanchope confessed of his desire to stay at City and play for KK. He was additionally quoted in the Manchester Evening News as saying “I am very happy at City. Mr Keegan wants to play in a positive way which pleases me and I hope I can play a part next season in taking the club back into the Premier League.”

Reserves Beat Bamber Bridge: City’s second string overcame Bamber Bridge 5-1 to continue their impressive pre-season form. Goals from Horlock (pen), Huckerby, Shuker and a brace from Chris Killen impressed the watching manager KK. The strong City starting line up was Brian Murphy, Simon Colosimo, Richard Edghill, Tony Grant, Terry Dunfield, Paul Ritchie, Darren Huckerby, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Paul Dickov, Kevin Horlock and Terry Cooke. Subs Rhys Day, D.Hodgson, Chris Killen, Leon Mike, Chris Shuker and Glen Whelan. This followed a 5-0 win at Ashton and a 2-0 defeat of Radcliffe Borough.

Reserve Fixtures Announced: City’s B team will start the new season with against Blackburn at Hyde United’s Ewen Fields on Tuesday, August 14th. They will then play Bolton. The derby games against ManUre come on October 22nd at the Swamp/Carrington/The Cliff/Calcutta etc. The home return is April 9th. Reserve fixtures will continue to be played at Hyde, with all games having 7.00pm kick-offs.

Howey to Escape Punishment: No action will be taken against Steve Howey after he accidentally knocked the match official Mike Jones unconscious. The incident happened in Saturday’s pre-season friendly for The Blues against Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park when the City defender went to push Rovers striker Seyni N’Diaye but ended up making contact with Jones instead.

Squad Numbers Announced

Get your shirt down to your local printer, as the new squad numbers have been announced. As follows they are (look out for a few surprises):

  1. Weaver
  2. Pearce
  3. Edghill ?
  4. Wiekens
  5. Morrison !
  6. Horlock
  7. Huckerby
  8. Colosimo
  9. Dickov
  10. Goater
  11. Cooke
  12. Berkovic
  13. Haaland
  14. Ritchie
  15. Paisley
  16. Whitley
  17. Tiatto
  18. Nash
  19. Dunne
  20. Wanchope
  21. Howey
  22. Whelan
  23. Mears
  24. Jordan (Mrs Yorke?)
  25. Tramp
  26. Wright-Phillips
  27. McCarthy
  28. Charvet
  29. Mike
  30. Killen
  31. Browne
  32. Murphy
  33. Granville
  34. Dunfield
  35. Day
  36. Etuhu
  37. Shuker

Don’t think we can read much into this, as it looks like a case of filling the gaps, rather than anything pre-planned.

Ins, Outs and Rumours

City are one of four clubs said to be interested in bidding for West Brom striker Lee Hughes. Hughes, who will not been offered a new contract at the Hawthorns, has so far had one concrete bid from Birmingham “we don’t have enough strikers” City. Hughes is 25 and has been prolific at the First Division level since his move from non-league football several years ago. The fee is expected to be about £3-5 million. A move may become likely if City cash in on the Goat, who Chairman David Bernstein says we have turned down two offers for, or Wanchope who may yet still move for £5 million to anybody his revolting agent can persuade to bid.

Michael Leafield (

MATCH REPORT I: Huddersfield Town 0 Manchester City 2

Pre-Match: Turned up at Huddersfield’s excellent curvy stadium just as the team were getting off their Joe-number plated coach. Keegan (unsurprisingly) and Dicky (more surprisingly) were the ones detained for the longest time signing autographs and posing for photos. Keegan looked relaxed and all smiles, putting to bed my fears that his media silence meant he wouldn’t even make it to August before leaving us.

Paulo was back with the team and looked more than a little amused that when he and Shaun Goater were walking towards the player’s entrance it was Shaun rather than himself who was stopped for an autograph. His expression seemed to say: “I’m hero of the Copa America and you want the Goat’s signature instead?!”

First Half: City lined up (3-5-2): Nash (no sign of Weaver in warm-up), Dunne, Howey, Pearce (Ritchie, 85′), Charvet, Grannville, Etuhu, Berkovic (Grant, 72′), Tiatto (Horlock, 80′), Wanchope (Dickov, 72′) and Goater (Huckerby, 80′).

City kicked off towards the travelling Blue horde, who made up about half the 8,000-ish strong crowd… and almost immediately lost the ball. The first few minutes were, to be honest, a touch nervy and it was Town who got the first decent effort on target, a header from Booth which Nash was well positioned to pluck out of the air. It was pretty clear from kick-off that this was no let-his-four-year-old-kid-score friendly but a proper, competitive match. Things settled down after the first five minutes, with the majority of possession with the Blues. Etuhu made a major and immediate impression, breaking up attacks in midfield and in front of the back three, which led to our dominating possession.

At times it seemed that both Berkovic and Tiatto were in free rôles. Berkovic played his way into the game and was soon demanding the ball and, more importantly, doing things with it that, almost without exception, the rest of the squad can’t. Some elegant flicks, accurate short passing and good distribution out to Granville and Tiatto who were clearly working on orders to bomb forward at every opportunity. All this good work was, however, built on the foundation that Etuhu and a composed back three (save for a somewhat shaky Dunne) provided. It was the first time I’d seen Etuhu play and he looked excellent. Perhaps slightly timid in attempting to put people in but certainly fulfilling his brief in the defensive midfield slot – good touch and passing, excellent composure under pressure combined with (very) effective tackling. Very promising.

Our first half chance was typical of the first half: Berkovic to Paulo and Paulo putting in a diagonal ball for Granville to run on to (arriving at the same time as the defender, goal-kick). I’ve forgotten all the good moves in the first half (which if my memory wasn’t so addled would be encouraging!). I do, however, recall some wonderful bits of skill from Paulo, drawing in defenders and then dinking the pass and putting a colleague into acres of space and from Eyal. The latter looks a steal at £1.5 million so long as he brings his extensive bag of tricks along week in, week out. I even recall Dunne (of all people) getting out of trouble by wrong-footing an attacker with a backheel… something that would scare me witless in a ‘real’ game.

The Goat was having a pretty indifferent game passing wise (and Dunne was also pretty shoddy at times). However, he proved he’s still a deadly finisher when the ball fell to him in the area after a half clearance just short of the half-hour mark was slotted into the far corner. Offside but a good finish nonetheless.

Not too sure about the Paulo/Goat partnership. Their interplay was indifferent and it was noticeable that they tended to get in each other’s way for crosses coming in and there were a good few from both Charvet and Granville, both of whom had good games. Still a bit of work to do in terms of getting the strikers on each other’s wavelengths (in as much as anyone can be on Paulo’s) and in tune with the wide men.

The goal that City’s domination deserved came from just such a cross just before half time. Charvet was put clear down the right, slung in a good cross, Goater, Granville and defender all went for it, a ricochet rolled it out to Paulo level with and to the right of the penalty spot and he let fly, putting it just inside Martyn Margetson’s left hand post.

Remember him? Got a surprisingly good reception from our end given my memories of his efforts in the penultimate game against QPR in our 2nd Division relegation season. Still, he had a good game and made an excellent double save from Wanchope after about 15 minutes. City could have been a few up by the end of a very good first half (Huddersfield’s first corner was on 44 minutes, which gives you some clue as to the balance of play). Wanchope was very lively but can be frustratingly unselfish, choosing to pass when clean through on goal.

Half Time: Was enlivened by special guests for John Dyson’s testimonial including one Andy, Andy, Andy, Andy Morrison. An excellent reception for him all round. Peter Jackson (former Huddersfield manager) also got a good chorus of “Peter Jackson’s blue and white army”… which must have got on Lou Macari’s wick no end!

Second Half: A bit flat in comparison to the first. This had more than a little to do with the departure of Berkovic and Wanchope and later the substitutions of Goater, Tiatto and, late on, Pearce. City looked much the poorer for these changes, particularly Berkovic who (if interested) is certainly the creative midfielder we’ve craved. Grant, without doing a hell of a lot wrong (a couple of 60-yard cross-field passes were great), is simply not in the same class – the contrast is stark. Dickov also looked either very rusty or very tense. We were cheering every pass (well, Huddersfield started it!) but it always seemed to break down when the ball reached Dicky.

The undoubted highlight of the half was Danny Tiatto going on what, in footie-lingo, can justifiably be termed a “mazy dribble”. From a languid start in his own half, he suddenly turned and accelerated past a couple of startled Town players, tore across the face of the area and slipped the ball to Goater who once again finished beautifully, placing it into the far side netting. Excellent work from Danny who had been a little bit in Berkovic’s shade in the first half.

Well, who haven’t I mentioned yet? Nash had a solid game; wasn’t over-threatened but dealt with everything fired at him and made a good save at Booth’s feet late on. Generally looked the business. Howey also looked capable, calmly tidying things up. And then there’s one Stuart Pearce.

To be honest I was initially a touch disappointed after a couple of stray passes and industrial hacks, but as the game progressed he really proved his worth with interceptions, great reading of the game and one excellent saving tackle. He’s also going to provide some excellent ammunition from corners; hard, flat delivery which must be a nightmare to try and defend. Steve Howey must be licking his lips!

Clive Schofield (a.k.a. Blue Durham) (


A perfect summer evening to be watching football. The sun low and warm over the futuristic Panasonic stadium. I was persuaded to go to this friendly against my better judgement. I had read about the dullness of the previous two matches.

My eyesight is poor and my tactical understanding of football is negligible but here’s an impression of what I saw. First, I have an inkling this team might be the starting line up – bit worrying for Jeff Whitley, Haaland and Wiekens. But it’s a long season and there’s likely to be more than a few injuries.

Formation roughly for all of first half and most of second:

     Dunne     Howey     Pearce
Charvet                      Granville
   Berkovic    Etuhu     Tiatto
           Goater Wanchope

Ritchie for Pearce
Horlock for Tiatto
Grant for Berkovic
Dickov and Huckerby for Paulo and the Goat

None as useful as their predecessors in the game.

There was a warm reception for Pearce and likeable acknowledgement from him to the crowd.

This friendly was worth watching for the linking between Charvet (!) Berkovic and Wanchope. Good flowing passing on the floor. Etuhu hardly put a foot wrong. Appeared to command his position. Tall strong and agile, very clear about his moves and appears to give himself time. Berkovic at times a shorter and quicker Bishop style player. Speedy Tiatto made some great opportunities. Others will comment on the 2 goals but I liked what I saw.

Another highlight was Andy Morrison’s reception from the nearly full City occupied stand when about half way through a roll call of Huddersfield old boys, the old Mozza came on. City support drowned out the proceedings from then on with ringing ‘Andy, Andy, Andy Morrison’ chants. He acknowledged the appreciation fully and I expect it was very touching for him to be out there and fully the centre of attention in this way.

My evening was marred by 4 City fans desperate for trouble and mistaking me for a Huddersfield fan. They were a menace and a disgrace.

Richard Young (


It wasn’t until 5 o’clock on Tuesday afternoon that we suddenly decided to go to the Huddersfield game. Aah… the days when you could just decide on the spur of the moment and round up a few mates to go to the footy and still get in with good hard cash. We arrived to find a crowd of approx. 8,000 but 5-6,000 must have been City fans – all in good sprits.

Keegan seemed to have picked the side he wishes to start with regularly: Nash, Pearce, Dunne, Howey, Charvet, Tiatto, Etuhu, Berkovic, Granville, Goater, Wanchope. So no sign of Weaver or Cooke.

We started very well and do you know what? Shock, horror… we can actually pass the ball. I realise it was only a testimonial but we really were knocking it about quite sweetly.

Berkovic, with his floppy hair and quality passing, reminded me of Bishop in his heyday but as others have pointed out he doesn’t want to know about tackling or getting stuck in, so perhaps Kinkladze is more appropriate.

The real revelation though is Dickson Etuhu. He must be as tall as Wanchope and even though he’s only 18 he is calmness personified – not really an attribute given to City’s midfield for a long while. He never strayed out of position, made some cracking tackles and passed superbly, especially down the flanks to Charvet – D’oh. Hmmm, Charvet still hasn’t learned to (a) get to the byline, and (b) cross away from the ‘keeper… come back Edghill?! Keegan must think he’s struck gold with Etuhu – let’s hope he can be this good once the season gets underway.

You could notice the difference when in the second half Keegan had swapped Tiatto for Horlock and Grant for Berkovic. Then we reverted to the toiling/workmanlike “honest Joe” side we had ended up with last year… all solid pros but with no real inspiration – urgh.

So a nice 2-0 victory and a fantastic welcome for Andy Morrison who stole the show when he was introduced at half time. Personally I cannot wait for the season to start as Keegan seems to be solving some of the basic problems we have been struggling with, i.e. passing, fitness, confidence on the ball, creativity.

Finally may I be the first to claim the link of a fantastic song “Vicar in a tutu” by The Smiths with our fantastic young player Dickson Etuhu.

I was minding my business
I was lifting some lead off the roof of the holy Platt Lane
It was worthwhile living a Blue all my life
Just to set my eyes on the blistering sight of
Dickson Etuhu
He’s not strange
He just loves to play the game this way

I’ll be collecting royalties on behalf on Morrissey & Marr with a bucket in Kippax lower AA if it takes off.

C’mon the Blues

Adrian Howarth (


I thought I’d give my views on the Tranmere match after no one sent one in for Monday’s issue.

After a couple of enjoyable trips to Merseyside last season it was decided we would take in the Tranmere friendly as this would be the only opportunity to see the Blues ply their trade in Scouseland. An 11:08 train from Manchester Piccadilly ensured we were in the pub before 12:00; The Punch & Judy near Lime Street (only £1:20 for a pint of lager). After several pints it was back to the Lime Street and the pleasantly smelling underground.

Tranmere’s ground was not too difficult to find, although my source of information about the Prenton Park pub being open until kick-off was a little off the mark. There were a number of Blues standing around finishing drinks before entering the ground due to the aforementioned pub being closed. It looked like another good turnout from the City fans; this was confirmed as we took our seats in a full ‘Cow Shed’ (no foot and mouth in this one though); 2,500 crazy City fans.

The teams came out to a tune I’ve heard before but I couldn’t remember what TV programme it was off (anyone know what it was?).

City lined up:

     Dunne    Howey      Pearce
Charvet Etuhu Wiekens Tiatto Granville
       Goater        SWP

I was in row C, seat 83, Carlo Nash was no more than six feet away. This is the closest I have been to the action at any ground (anyone been closer? no smart remarks about rows A & B please). Carlo seemed in good spirits and enjoyed some banter with the City fans; this may be due to the fact he played the full 90 minutes. Had he been told by KK that he was going to be first choice? He certainly did his claims no harm with a fine save and parry in the first half. The only other action of note in the first half came from City corners and a free kick which Howey rose majestically to meet and send crashing against the upright. However, Howey was on target in the first half, with a forearm into the face of the referee. Howey was gesticulating with a Tranmere forward after the forward lunged at him. The ref went down like a sack of spuds to the cries of “Steve Howey, Stevie Howey”. Several City players (Howey included) were laughing so much they had to walk away. Five paramedics and the Tranmere physio ran to the ref’s aid. He must have been on the deck for 5 minutes before he was put on a stretcher and hauled off. The substitute ref came on to a big cheer from the City faithful, no action was taken against Howey.

That was pretty much it for the first half, the only other incident of note being that Andy Morrison was spotted sitting amongst the City fans and received the loudest/longest chant of the day.

Off to the bar (I couldn’t believe it either, alcohol at half time at an away match). There was already a large queue at the bar before it opened. They were rattling the shutters and chanting “get to work you lazy t***s”; I think this must have been some reference to the employment situation in Merseyside. The bar opened and two lads appeared to serve the City mass. They had cleverly poured ten cans of lager into the plastic pint pots in an attempt to serve the initial push for the front. This clearly didn’t work as the bar was still packed 20 minutes later. While I was being served a guy said “I wonder why these small clubs never get rich?” I couldn’t agree with him more. Stick two extra staff behind the bar at a cost of no more than £100, serve double the amount of drinks, make double the amount of money, all the City fans get their beer, Tranmere make a tidy profit and everybody’s happy (apart from the police who closed the bar before everyone could get served). It’s the same every time we go to a small ground; they will have one little kiosk that sells out of everything before kick-off. I can’t understand how no one has realized that City fans = lots of food and drinks which in turn = lots of money for said small club.

Anyway, back to the match. Whilst the pints were being finished, news was filtering through that Tranmere had taken the lead; you could not hear anything at the bar as the City chorus was in full swing. The goal was confirmed as I took my seat, Stuart Barlow (I thought I recognized him, 1st minute Wigan 2nd Division play-off semi-final 1st leg – why do the same players always seem to score against us?). The goal was a clearance from the ‘keeper flicked on in midfield (having not seen the goal, it sounds like a lack of pace by the City defence). Our line up had changed at half time, I’m not sure of the full team but here goes:

    Colosimo     Howey    Pearce
Manwithnoname Cooke Etuhu Grant Edghill
         Dickov      Huckerby

The same guy was on the right wing from Scunthorpe, no name and no number. I found out latter he is some Portugese trialist called Toni. He liked to run at defenders with the ball, which is always a bonus but I don’t think he will bring anything to the squad that either Cooke or SWP don’t already possess. Other players were introduced throughout the 2nd half. Horlock for Etuhu, Ritchie for Pearce. The game seemed a little better then in the first half mainly due to City attacking the ‘Cow Shed’. Horlock and Dickov went close, Tranmere also had what looked like a couple of decent efforts. Horlock was forced to be substituted after a 2 footed challenge near the end, Etuhu coming back on to see out the game.

If we didn’t have the likes of Wanchope and Berkovic in the squad I would have been worried after Saturday’s performance. We had no creativity up front or in midfield, the defence looked solid but still lacks any real pace. The one positive thing from this game was Dickson Etuhu, he can tackle, pass (forwards), he’s quick, makes good forward runs and looks composed when he’s got the ball. After watching Halifax last week, Tranmere on Saturday and presuming KK will go 3-5-2, I would like to see the following starting XI against Watford:

   Colosimo   Howey     Pearce
Cooke Etuhu Berkovic Tiatto Granville
      Wanchope     Goater

CTID, Andy Worthington (


Why can’t City fans show more respect for our cross-city, err sorry, different city rivals. We should respect their naming of O.T. as “The Theatre Of Dreams”. After all, half a dozen prawn sandwiches and a £25 bottle of Chateau d’Old Trafford (a fusion of Barton Bridge water and grapes from the banks of the Seine…sburys) is enough to put anyone to sleep. So let us understand why it is “The Theatre Of Dreamzzzzzzzzzzz.”

And on another note. One “Portsmouth born, never been to the Swamp”, Rag fan pointed out to me today that our pre-season was not going too well. I said “At least we are playing all our games away rather than at home”. He looked at me rather strangely. To which, before his poor Neanderthal brain could work it out, I added Malaysia, Thailand… Give him credit, he laughed and had the decency to walk away without trying to give a riposte.

As someone many months ago pointed out in MCIVTA, it’s nice to know when you look at all those saddos in the far east that all the shirts are rip-offs and the Rag conglomerate are getting sweet F.A. from it.

Dave Kilroy (


Some interesting stats have just been published on the average attendances for clubs Europe-wide. We came 35th out of 964 European clubs. Not bad for a side heading for the second tier of English football!

 1 ENG1 Manchester United       67,490
2 ESP1 Real Madrid CF 64,475
3 GER1 Borussia Dortmund 63,729
4 ITA1 AS Roma 63,370
5 ESP1 FC Barcelona 62,632
6 SCO1 Celtic 59,353
7 ITA1 AC Milan 52,448
8 ENG1 Newcastle United 51,309
9 ITA1 Internazionale FC 50,950
10 FRA1 Olympique de Marseille 48,508
11 ITA1 SS Lazio 48,498
12 GER1 FC Bayern M