Newsletter #735

Well, after what must be one of the most eagerly awaited games of recent years and, to break with City tradition, we weren’t disappointed. It’s good to be back, even in the 1st Division; the Tabak; the crowd and amazingly the team all lived up to expectation. Despite a sluggish start with many of us wondering just what had changed, the second half was a pleasure to witness with new boys Berkovic and Pearce (is he really 39?) giving assured displays and, together with our man Goater, ending up on the score sheet. Pearce’s sublime free kick was worth the long close season to witness.

A minute’s silence for young Daniel Foulkes of the Academy, who died tragically over the summer was for the most part observed; our condolences to his family.

Tonight’s bumper issue contains a plethora of excellent match reports (live & TV) so thanks to all for those. These appear in no particular order other than how they filtered into the inbox (we also have a view from a Watford fan, taken from BV which we hope he won’t mind as people lift our stuff all the time!), Ken’s diary, plenty of opinion to set off a few debates, a handful of requests and some humour.

Sit back, cup of tea (or stronger), read on and enjoy. Then bring on Norwich!

Va va voom as they say.

Next game: Norwich away, Saturday 18th August 2001, 3pm


Unfortunately it hasn’t arrived yet, but plenty here for you to read in the meantime.


August 13th:
Asa Hartford signed from West Brom for £210,000 in 1974.

August 14th:
At Fulham in the Nationwide Division 2 in 1998, a Friday evening, and City lost 3-0 to Kevin Keegan’s team. Tshkadadze’s terrible injury early on (apparently his wife and kids were watching it on TV in Manchester) not only disorganised the side, it was also the beginning of the end of his career. A year to the day later City were back at Fulham on a Saturday afternoon in the Nationwide Division One. What a nice place Fulham is to watch football. Friendly supporters (home fans walking from Putney station expressed their satisfaction that City had beaten Gillingham in the play-off final the previous May) and if you get bored with the match you watch the boats on the river. No KK at Fulham by this time, though Mr. Fayed did a run around the pitch to be greeted by City fans waving their passports at him and singing naughty songs about a certain car crash in Paris. Andy Morrison was sent off for putting his tongue out at Stan Collymore (and licking him?) and Shaun Goater missed an open goal in a 0-0 draw. On this day in 1963 Alex Harley was sold to Birmingham, and in 1974 Francis Lee was sold to Derby. In 1993 City met Leeds at Maine Road in the first game of the season. Before the kick-off Kevin Kennedy (Curly Watts) took part in a charity penalty contest against Leeds Rugby League star Ellery Hanley – Curly won 5-3, City & Leeds drew 1-1.

August 15th:
Start of the 1997-98 season and City were the first team to play a proper match at Sunderland’s new Stadium of Light after Atletico Madrid(?) had been there for the opening friendly. Niall Quinn (naturally) put Sunderland in front, Kinkladze equalized from a penalty after getting himself brought down, but two late goals gave Sunderland the win. No points but at least Sunderland supporters said City had “the best player in the division” – i.e. Georgi.

August 16th:
City lost the 1980-81 season opener 2-0 to Southampton under Malcolm Allison’s management.

August 17th:
City 0 Burnley 1 in the 1973 Charity Shield (obviously the idea that this match should be between the previous season’s league champions and FA Cup winners had been temporarily given up, but I’ve forgotten how City & Burnley came to be this year’s participants). City 1 QPR 1 in 1992, the first game of BSkyB’s Monday night football, complete with dancing girls and fireworks, though it’s not clear which of those characterized the football on offer. In 1956 City lost the first game of the season 5-1 at Wolves (Don Revie scored). They did even worse when they went back there for the first match of the 1962-63 season on this same date – Wolves got 8 and City’s only reply came from a Wolves own-goal. According to Trautmann’s biography, in training in the week after this eight-goal thrashing a cheeky young ground-staff lad named Mike Doyle asked Bert how his back was from all the bending down he’d done on the Saturday; Bert reportedly whacked him round the side of the head and said in his mixture of German-Lancashire accent “your job is to clean the bluddy boots”.

August 19th:
City débuts for Roy Paul at Preston North End in 1950, for Bobby Kennedy who scored in a 3-1 win at home to Leicester in 1961, and for Georgi Kinkladze at home to Tottenham in 1995 (1-1.) Uwe Rösler scored but the real highlight of the game was Kinkladze’s passing. Someone once said of George Best’s early appearances “I think I have found a genius” and it was plain from the first few minutes that here was another one. Less apparent, though, was the ability of some of his team-mates to read where Kinkladze thought they ought to be to receive the passes he was making. The Tottenham game was also the first one for Kit Symons. And Eike Immel was in goal for the first time in that match. Paul Lake played his last game on August 19 1992, being substituted at Middlesbrough where City lost 2-0. At the start of the 1967-68 championship season, City were at home to Liverpool, they drew 0-0 and Tony Book missed a late penalty after Tommy Smith had flattened Neil Young. City played the second leg of the League Cup tie with Notts County on this day in 1999. Leading 2-0 from the game at Meadow Lane, they won the return 7-1, the first or second goal coming from Gary Mason, then being hailed as a star in the making.

And this is top scorer (38 in 1928-29) Tommy Johnson’s birthday – he’d be 100 today.

Ken Corfield (


Norwich away Saturday 18 August : sold out
Crewe home Saturday 25 August : open sale
Burnley away Monday 27 August : open sale

As at Monday 13 August 2001 – thanks to the MCFC Ticket Office for info



New season, new division, new strip, new manager, new TV channel, new kick-off time. First three are familiar August adjustments, latter three less so. For us long-range fans, the upside of a 6:15 kick-off is that you get a proper morning at home before you have to set off, and you can while away the motorway journey sniggering at Stockport’s game. The downside is having no idea when to eat.

City started towards North Stand: Nash – Pearce Howey Dunne – Granville Tiatto Wiekens Berkovic Charvet – Goater Wanchope. Obviously the main changes from last term were Stuart “blimey dad he’s as old as you” Pearce and the rapidly slimming Eyal BegoodwhenImfit. The opening minutes were, unsurprisingly, tentative on both sides but we were gelling quicker than Watford. Pearce looked like he’d been here all his life; Berkovic could be mistaken for Bishop if it weren’t for the striking difference in pace and skill.

About 20 minutes in, we began to get seriously on top of the game. Wanchope was brought down a few microns outside the area; Pearce’s free kick sizzled wide. Three corners in quick succession rattled across the Watford goal. A thirty-yard shot from Tiatto was parried but Berkovic blazed the rebound over. A minute later, Berkovic sent in a delicious curling shot, which Baardsen did superbly to tip wide. Another corner was headed just wide. My neighbour, disoriented by the weird start time, went off to the bar. He missed Wanchope winning a throw by chasing down the ‘keeper (might not sound much but I’d give better odds on Nash scoring) before returning slightly sheepishly. We still had fifteen more minutes to score. Tiatto, who just keeps improving, put a superb chip over to Wanchope; he was dispossessed but Berkovic and Wiekens combined to put the ball back in the box leaving Berkovic, Wanchope and Goater 3-on-1 with the ‘keeper. Somehow, it didn’t go in. Then, a cross from Berkovic found Goater on the penalty spot with only the ‘keeper to beat. Which he didn’t.

Although enjoyable, this was beginning to have that “hammer them for 89 minutes and lose to an undeserved break in injury time” feel. But half-time was too early to panic. Instant analysis suggested that (a) Watford weren’t as good as the Premiership sides (b) between Berkovic and Tiatto, we were creating enough chances that something would have to go in soon (c) everyone had lifted their game and Charvet in particular was a different player. I felt confident but we still weren’t leading.

It went on. Charvet was brought down with a tackle that would have been illegal in rugby. I couldn’t work out why the resulting free kick and subsequent ricochets didn’t go in; “have to watch that on the video” I thought, not realising that my spectacular investment in broadband aerials, signal attenuators, set top boxes, smart cards and SCART cables wouldn’t work if I forgot to press the “record” button. This didn’t feel like our day. Goat and Chop beat the offside; with just the ‘keeper to beat and Paolo in support, the Goat couldn’t get round Baardsen.

And then, a minute later, Berkovic put Charvet through; he crossed, and Goater, at full stretch, put it away. “Feed the Goat”, we sang loyally, though I couldn’t help feeling that I’d have managed one given the chances that he’d had. Never mind: “strikers have to miss chances if they’re going to score”, as KK explained afterwards. With the floodgates opened and half an hour to go, we had a good chance of getting the seven that we deserved. The next time a Wanchope header hit the woodwork, it fell to Berkovic. There were other options, but not ones that you’d consider if you had the skill to beat the defender and score on your début. Two-nil.

Watford’s night was turning miserable. We don’t see many homers at Maine Road, but Mike “rogue giraffe” Riley did give the impression that he liked to match the card to the player’s shirt, and was sadly right out of blue ones. Berkovic, who a moment before had been risking his teeth in a defensive tackle, broke through midfield and was tripped by Robinson. Clear yellow card; Robinson tried to argue that his first yellow had been a travesty, but since this had been the neck-high attack on Charvet, the giraffe was unconvinced, and Watford were down to 10. Now, they say teams often play better with 10 men, but not even Mad Frank ever tested this by starting with six on the bench. Watford just got worse, and we got better.

Berkovic came off to a unanimous ovation. Whitley took his place; he too seemed to be inspired by the Keegan magic, putting through a 30-yard daisycutter to match his season best for shots on target. Then he was upended just outside the area; probably a red card offence on its own, but the giraffe’s sense of fair play drew the line at making it 11 against 9. “Wouldn’t it be nice if Psycho scored?”, we all thought, but “if” wasn’t how Pearce was thinking. If Baardsen saw the free kick at all, he had the sense not to try putting bits of his body anywhere near it. 3-0 and dream débuts for both our new signings.

Huckerby and Dickov came on; I’d predicted this substitution at 0-0, although I had Howey and Nash coming off rather than Wanchope and Goater. Such was the exhilaration that we even got a brief chant of “we are the Main Stand”, to the bafflement of long-term residents; a few calls of “Keegan Out” too, but he probably needs a bit more exposure to Maine Road humour before we go overboard on the irony.

Overall, a delightful performance and a great result. We can all be pessimistic – “what if Berkovic gets bored”, “what if the other sides are better than Watford”, “what if Al Fayed offers KK money to go back to Fulham” – but there are some serious reasons for optimism. Not just due to Berkovic and Pearce; today we saw Granville, Wiekens and Charvet put in performances like we haven’t seen all last year; the team had structure, balance and confidence; and the set-pieces not only looked rehearsed, but they worked as well. This is going to be fun.

Dorien James (


First games of the season are supposed to be played out against a sunny August backdrop, but the grey, drizzly Manchester sky was an unseasonal reminder of just how dark and miserable last season had been. I’d said at the friendly at Scunny that if we didn’t win that game, my grey away shirt would not be going to Maine Road for the Watford game. Some of my uncharitable CSA brethren had remarked that it wasn’t the shirt that was jinxed it was me. I’d not seen a home league win all last season; granted I’d only made it to 25% of them but most season ticket holders won’t have done much better. So it was that the trusty Kappa shirt which had seen happier times was dusted off and worn. After this game, I’m binning the lucky underpants theory too, though less said on that one the better. Maybe the pre-match curry at the Tabak was the key, the Chicken Chilli being the spicy charm that the team needed to pep up performances?

The team ran out to a new theme tune (name anyone?) which I thought worked quite well but I suspect others weren’t too keen on. I’d guessed beforehand the team would be as per Huddersfield, and was almost right but with Ged replacing Dickson. Kicking towards the North Stand, we were a little nervy for the first 20 minutes or so, but came into our own more as the half wore on, with a Pearce free kick that didn’t quite swerve enough and two Berkovic one on one’s with the ‘keeper being the highlights. We were defensively pretty sound, though Carlo seemed a little indecisive at times, and Watford didn’t get a corner until the stroke of half time. Berkovic, from a distance a dead ringer for Bish but with more running in him, was in the thick of things, calling for the ball, running at the defence, and showing the eye for the opening that we’d been lead to believe he had. However, at 0-0 the half time talk was of ‘one of those games where we had all the possession but couldn’t finish’. Nevertheless, I still felt it was a case of when rather than if we scored.

The second half saw a few minutes of Watford pressure before we again took the game to them and got the vital first goal. A cross from “New Laurent Charvet” – the one we had last year seems to have an alter ego that can play superbly as a wing back – and The Goat rose to head in. Cue relief around the ground and a bellowed chorus of “Feed the Goat”. In the blink of an Eyal, it was two, as the inspirational Israeli followed up on a Wanchope shot that rebounded off the bar / post and fell nicely for him to slot home. Off came the shirt as he celebrated with gusto in the corner of the Kippax / Platt Lane (just as well no bookings for that this season). The ground was buzzing as the team played football rather than kick and rush. At one point we were giving it the olé routine as the ball was knocked around at will, especially after they had Robinson sent off.

A rash of subs saw Berkovic, Goater and Wanchope replaced by Whitley, Dickov and Huckerby, and the third goal came as a consequence of Whitley being hauled down on the edge of the area. As the wall lined up, with Pearce and Whitley over the ball, a guy behind me screamed, “get away from the ‘kin ball Whitley” – in practice I think there was never any debate who was going to take it, and Pearce duly lashed it home from 20 yards, the icing on a truly scrumptious cake.


Nash – didn’t have a lot to do and got better as the game went on. Has played better for us.
Charvet – Magnifique! Quel homme! [Nice aftershave too, less said the better – Ed]
Granville – Mirrored Charvet on the left. I could be converted to this wing back thingy.
Howey – Rock like. His usual dependable self (though a little less of him perhaps?)
Dunne – Not as assured as Howey, but OK
Pearce – Shaping up to be an inspired signing. A few more of those rockets please Stu!
Tiatto – Not one of his better games for me; lots of effort but final ball left something to be desired.
Wiekens – Nothing spectacular but a competent game.
Berkovic – God know what he’ll be like when he’s fit, though as Peter Barnes remarked afterwards in GMR the real test will come when we’re up against it – will he prove inspirational then? Another good bit of business in the summer market. Couldn’t see JR signing him somehow.
Goater – Full of running and will get sharper with more match practice. Took the goal well.
Wanchope – All arms and legs as usual but was up and down the pitch. Not the Copa Paulo but signs are good.

Subs – None on long enough to pass comment aside from Whitley who chased and harried after Berkovic went off. Wonder if he’d have scored from that free kick 🙂

Roll on (and over) Norwich.

Geoff Donkin (


The start of the new season allows football fans to dream, and so does the appointment of a new manager. Before City’s match against Watford on Saturday, the usual expectancy ahead of a fresh campaign was heightened by the arrival of Kevin Keegan, whose undisputed charisma had helped to contribute to record season ticket sales. The fixture computer had pitted the former England coach against another big name appointee in the visitors’ Gianluca Vialli, and with the Italian having been active in the transfer market this summer, some were even billing the encounter as a potential title decider. Of course, it was no such thing but there was little doubt that the supporters of both teams were hoping for the reassurance of a promising beginning to their respective new eras.

Keegan’s pedigree for the job of restoring City’s Premiership status rests largely in his performance at Newcastle, where he revitalised a moribund club and delivered its best league performances in the last seven decades. Similarities between City and the Geordies have been pointed out by many excited by the appointment but on a rain-sodden afternoon as Wembley closed for business last October, we all saw publicly that the Keegan story isn’t just one of unremitting success. As he prepared for his début in front of the Maine Road public, it was hard not to see his attempt to rehabilitate his reputation after failure with the national team as something of a ‘death or glory’ exercise. At St James’s Park, his initial achievements were beyond anyone’s wildest expectations but with City’s propensity for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, it’s hard not to fear that if there’s any club where he’ll fail, we’ll be the one. Saturday’s game was never going to offer a conclusive pointer of what’s to follow, but we certainly hoped for something that would allow us to believe with a little more conviction in a positive scenario, and thus it proved.

It didn’t necessarily look that way after the scoreless first half, although City hadn’t played badly – far from it, in fact. After a slightly uncertain opening twenty minutes, we’d been manifestly the better side and given the number of opportunities we’d carved out, we’d probably have felt we’d been somewhat profligate if we’d led by even a single goal at the break. Watford won their first corner just before the interval, prior to which their only moment of danger had come early on when Carlo Nash fluffed a clearance from a back pass. City, meanwhile, had seen a Pearce free kick drift just wide after Wanchope was fouled on the edge of the box as he threatened to wriggle clear. Berkovic, at the heart of almost all of his new team’s best moments, could only blaze the rebound over the crossbar when Baardsen parried a long-range shot from Tiatto. Goater shot tamely against the Norwegian goalkeeper’s legs when played in by Berkovic while Howey might have done better than to head wide when unchallenged from a Pearce corner. The best moment of the half came when Berkovic’s floated chip to round off a gloriously fluent move forced Baardsen into a fine fingertip save.

After the low-key start, the quality of City’s football had been encouraging but nevertheless the pattern of the game was disquieting. My own Maine Road début almost 26 years ago had progressed along remarkably similar lines only for Leeds to pull off a smash-and-grab win, and such an outline describes a significant number of the matches I’ve seen at Maine Road since. Not surprisingly, then, I was apprehensive that we’d pay for the missed opportunities. So when a Pearce free kick skimmed off the head of Watford defender Galli to hit bar then post after a couple of minutes of the second half, it looked as though we might be about to witness a familiar story. That Wiekens’ follow up shot from the rebound crashed against his own player Howey seemed to underscore the point.

In fact, Watford proved incapable of capitalising on their good fortune, their only efforts of any note being a limp far-post header that Marcus Gayle sent wide and a Vernazza shot from distance that Nash dived to smother fairly comfortably. City missed another more-than-presentable opportunity just before the hour mark when Goater ran clear only to hammer the ball against the overworked Baardsen, who’d spread himself admirably. The visitors hacked the ball clear with more than a touch of desperation, only for the Blues to come straight back at them. Berkovic threaded an exquisite ball through to marauding wing-back Charvet (yes, really!), and the Frenchman’s pinpoint cross (yes, really!) was headed forcefully home by Goater. It was an entirely deserved breakthrough.

The crowd was in full voice now, with City rampant, and the visitors had no answer to the barrage. Within five minutes the lead was doubled, Berkovic rounding the flailing Vega and prodding the ball past Baardsen after Wanchope’s towering header from a Granville cross had come back off the bar. The game was effectively over as a contest even before Watford’s left-back Robinson was dismissed with a quarter of an hour remaining for a second bookable offence, and thereafter City appeared content to play out time. To this end, Whitley entered the fray to replace the tiring Berkovic, who received an enthusiastic ovation on his departure.

But even though the Blues were taking things easy, there were still opportunities. First, Goater fired across the face of the goal after Baardsen had found another long-range attempt too hot to handle, and then the Blues finally did give the scoreline the emphatic look their play had merited. Whitley was upended by Galli just outside the penalty area, earning the Watford captain a booking. Pearce duly stepped up to thrash the ball refulgently past Baardsen, who was as comprehensively beaten for pace as any English middle-order batsman facing an Australian fast bowler. The netting had already prevented the ball from decapitating some unfortunate fan in the Platt Lane Stand before the Watford goalkeeper was anywhere near its flight path.

Overall, then, my first viewing of Keegan’s City was immensely heartening. The man himself was relatively low-key in his post-match assessment, and wisely so, but there’s plenty from which we can take comfort. We played what at First Division level counts as high-quality opposition (they have players of a pedigree matched by few of the teams we’ll encounter in league games in the next nine months), and it’s no exaggeration to say that for most of the match we outclassed them. Should anyone be in doubt, then the statistic quoted by one Sunday newspaper of eighteen goal attempts, ten on target, to three, none of which caused any real concern, tells its own story. And the style of play: fluid, stylish and progressive, offered a delightful contrast to much of City’s football of last season.

Pleasing, too, was that the two débutants both made excellent starts (the third new boy, Colosimo, was an unused substitute). Pearce showed his customary solidity in defence and capped his evening with a trademark set-piece blast but the veteran was outshone by a stellar contribution from Berkovic. ITV summariser Ron Atkinson reportedly said that making the Israeli ‘Man of the Match’ was his easiest nomination ever, and as long as the ex-Celtic player stays fit, last season’s woes over the lack of midfield creativity will remain a thing of the past. His style is more reminiscent of Ian Bishop than Kinkladze in that he looks to pass the ball rather than run with it, but on Saturday’s evidence, his promptings will hurt the opposition more than did those of Bishop in his second City spell.

Berkovic’s arrival has also meant a change in formation. As did Frank Clark with Kinkladze, Keegan has opted to use his most creative player in a free rôle in the context of a 3-5-2 system. But in contrast to the floundering 1997-98 side, the rest of the current players seem comfortable with the tactics. In particular, while Clark settled on Craig Russell and Richard Edghill as his wing-backs, neither of whom suited the rôle, Danny Granville and Laurent Charvet on Saturday gave fine expositions of the art. Charvet, in fact, was a revelation, a million miles from the forlorn figure who had such a wretched time at right-back last season. His renaissance, if it continues, will be a huge bonus for the new manager; on this occasion, probably only the sublime form of Berkovic prevented the Frenchman from being hailed as the game’s outstanding player.

When interviewed after the game, both Berkovic and Keegan were keen to emphasise that it had been a team display, and on the night, no player could be reproached for their endeavours. One fan on GMR after the game slated Wiekens, but I thought the Dutchman played the holding rôle in front of the back three to good effect; his covering and Tiatto’s scampering in midfield allowed the talents of Berkovic to flourish. The back three, though not really tested, were unyielding and deserve credit for snuffing out any semblance of a Watford threat. Our own strikers, on the other hand, posed Vialli’s men plenty of problems, with Wanchope looking more like the player we know he can be and Goater scoring once but threatening more. Overall, there was a gratifying balance to the side.

All this isn’t to say that everything was perfect; indeed, after the game, Keegan said he feels the team can still improve, and I think so too. Pleasing though the result was, with the chances City created, the goal tally really should have been higher. And given that Berkovic was so prominent in City’s attacking play, there remains the question of how we’ll suffer if (heaven forbid) he’s injured for a long period. Moreover, some future opponents are bound to go to greater lengths, legitimate and otherwise, to reduce his impact on the game than did Watford. We need to ensure that we’re not overly reliant on him to break opponents down.

But having comprehensively beaten a team tipped as a promotion rival, and having done so in such style, I think we’re entitled just to savour the moment. I especially relish the fact that we’ve put down a marker – to ourselves, to an opposing team who were talking up their own promotion credentials before the game, and to the rest of the First Division – of the extent of our capabilities. The trick now is to produce repeat performances on a consistent basis throughout the season. Should we do so, then based on the First Division football I’ve seen over the last couple of seasons, I’d be surprised if we failed to amass the ninety or so points that should guarantee a top-two finish next April.

Of course, after one competitive game, it’s still far too early to tell where the Keegan adventure will take us in the long-term. But the short-term objective is promotion, and the first viewing of the new manager’s line-up in meaningful match action would support the view of that aim as eminently realistic. Of course, we’re no strangers to false dawns, and none of us should take anything for granted at this stage. The initial signs, however, couldn’t have been much more promising.

Peter Brophy (


This report was linked to on Blue View on Monday, but it might have been missed by many subscribers, who might nonetheless be interested in an opposition view:

If you accept that the armchair viewer is now all-powerful – and why else would this game have kicked off at a time that satisfies neither tradition nor convenience for attending supporters – then you naturally start to ponder where it might all end. Because there’s only one thing that the TV companies don’t yet control, which is the level of entertainment on offer.

Perhaps that’s the next step, then. If the game’s getting a bit dull, its audience could vote for substitutes or tactical changes. Heck, the potential’s even there for “Big Brother”-style evictions to replace the referee’s red card. Sadly, had any of this been in operation last night, you suspect that the punters would’ve decided to replace one of the teams entirely.

Of course, this was the first competitive game of a new era. Of course, it’s too early to make definite judgements. Of course, there’s still much work to be done. Nevertheless, this was absolutely dreadful, an evening entirely devoid of positive signs. The only exception to that is the knowledge that the defeat wasn’t as heavy as it might’ve been.

Luca Vialli’s first Watford line-up contained more extravagant talent than any other in the club’s history. That it didn’t amount to the sum of its parts is something of an understatement. Rather, it resembled nothing so much as one of those teams that you assemble in management simulations, when there’s no real need to worry about how they’ll fit together as a unit. You half-expect Vialli to explain that Marcus Gayle scored loads of goals when he signed him in Championship Manager.

The result was a vacuous, nondescript, indistinct performance. Much of the time, there was literally nothing there, just a set of individuals running around very fast as if motion might substitute for organisation. At poor Espen Baardsen’s end, three goals were conceded, a number that was some way short of the worst case scenario. At the other end, just a couple of shots on target and a meagre handful of half-chances.

To my mind, the answer to both of those problems lies in the midfield – the part of the squad that’s most over-subscribed, ironically. So far, the new regime has produced a midfield that exists purely for its own sake, providing neither cover for the defence nor service for the strikers. Without doubt, it’s full of players of great quality, yet it has no purpose or direction.

In particular – and I apologise for the repetition – the prediction that we’d miss Steve Palmer at some point hasn’t taken very long to come true. Because the decision to give Eyal Berkovic as much space as he wanted in which to dictate City’s attacks proved to be most unwise. Watching it all unfold, we would’ve given anything to see that familiar figure doing an equally familiar man-marking job on the opposition’s danger man. Instead, we simply had to watch it all unfold some more.

So, regardless of the scoreline, the defence bears little responsibility. And the goalkeeper even less. And the attack some, but not much. Quite simply, they were all left completely isolated and exposed. We lost possession far too cheaply, thus faltering long before getting sight of the opposition goal, then failed to put up sufficient obstacles before City’s attacks reached the final third. The only surprise was that it took so long for the deadlock to be broken.

For the first five minutes, we were the better side. Indeed, had Stephen Hughes been able to get a shot away after Nash’s scuffed clearance had fallen to him after two minutes, our early eagerness might’ve been rewarded with a goal. As Hughes and a bustling Paul Robinson combined well on the left, it all looked rather promising.

Really, it remained promising for a while longer. As City began to come into the game, we were able to contain them reasonably effectively. While Stuart Pearce’s swinging free kick, after Robinson had up-ended Wanchope on the edge of the box, didn’t miss the target by very much, the same could be said of a rising drive from Patrick Blondeau that scraped the crossbar on its way into the stand behind. So, there were still few indications of just how one-sided the game was to become.

Until the twenty minute mark, that is. Then, Berkovic’s delightful dink into the penalty area split the defence, leaving Wanchope pulling back his foot to smash the ball on the half-volley. He was stopped by an astonishing intervention from Ramon Vega, flying in at waist height and brilliantly removing the ball from the striker’s toe. A series of corners followed and, although we dealt with them capably enough, City’s first spell of serious pressure had begun. It never really stopped.

By half-time, we really should have been two or three goals down. That’s “should”, as in missed chances of a very high quality. To begin with, there was Berkovic managing to lift the ball over an open goal from ten yards after Espen Baardsen had only managed to push away Tiatto’s well-struck drive as he dived down to his left. To sum things up, there was no challenge on Tiatto as he moved forward to shoot from outside the area, while the last-ditch efforts of the defence did enough to distract Berkovic as he followed up.

Just a minute afterwards, Berkovic was causing us all kinds of grief again as he darted down the left and, while still on the run, sent in a wonderful chip that drifted towards the top corner. It brought the best out of Baardsen, whose stretching dive was just enough to enable him to get his fingertips to the ball and divert it away from its intended course. From the corner, Howey headed wide at the near post. Suddenly, we were getting murdered.

No longer in the game, it became a matter of hanging on until the interval. We did that, just. With everything going through the inspired Berkovic, our reconstructed defence was completely exposed and severely tested. Indeed, the best chance was yet to come, as that man again managed to sneak into space on the left of the area and squared to the unmarked Goater. From six yards, his side-footed finish was too deliberate and hit Baardsen’s legs as the ‘keeper dived desperately back across his line. Again, Baardsen had saved us… although, on this occasion, not without some good fortune.

The first forty-five minutes of Luca Vialli’s reign concluded with Goater heading straight at the ‘keeper from Charvet’s right wing cross. Again, lack of finishing had let a chance slip by, and we were left clinging to the hope that these misses might return to haunt City. There wasn’t much else to cling to, frankly.

Before too long, there was nothing whatsoever. Our goal led a charmed life for a while longer, particularly when Pearce’s thumping free kick from wide by-passed everyone and crashed against the far upright. It rebounded out, with great piles of bodies attempting to pounce on the loose ball and a series of scrambles before the danger was finally cleared. Lordy.

Frustratingly, disaster struck just as it seemed that City’s eagerness to capitalise on their massive superiority might be creating opportunities to hit them on the break, using the pace of Tommy Smith. For the first time, we were able to dispense with the over-intricate and futile passing patterns in favour of releasing the ball into the space behind the home side’s defence. Nothing came of this… but you have to remember that we were looking for things to cling on to, and we weren’t in a position to be fussy. Incursions into the City penalty area were still rare, although Marcus Gayle did head wide from a Micah Hyde cross.

A false dawn, though. Because, just as I was reflecting on the marginal improvement, we’d lost control in our own half again, and a series of ricochets led to Goater running through. His low finish was blocked superbly by Baardsen, who really couldn’t have done any more to keep his team in contention. But we were unable to clear effectively or organise ourselves, so that, when Charvet’s cross came in, Goater was still unmarked to smash a header into the roof of the net.

Game over, really. A single goal margin has rarely seemed so wide. With our attacking efforts resembling one of those slidey picture puzzles, each move getting no nearer to the final objective, there was no way back into the game. The lack of width meant that there was no easy way of getting the ball into the opposition box, leading to an endless, exasperating series of failed attempts at a precise final pass. On this evidence, we’ll score some exquisite goals over the course of the season. We just won’t score very many of them.

Worth nothing, however, that Paolo Vernazza had our only noteworthy on-target shot at this point. From twenty-five yards, it zipped along the turf and required Nash to dive down to collect. Not much of a return for seven hours of travelling, in all honesty.

Immediately, we were two-nil down. From Granville’s superb cross from deep on the left, Goater rose higher than his marker and thumped a header against the bar. It fell for Berkovic, who seemed to fanny about for an age before finally forcing the ball past Baardsen.

If there was anybody with sufficient reserves of optimism to be hopeful of a comeback, even they would’ve given up when Paul Robinson was dismissed ten minutes later. In truth, he was rather unlucky, appearing to be tripped and falling when his boot caught the breaking Berkovic. You wonder whether a second booking was strictly necessary for a relatively minor offence on the halfway line.

That said, it’s worth pointing out that others were rather more fortunate. There were far too many flying challenges here, indicative of a failure to get close enough to opponents and deal with them in a more controlled way. In particular, Blondeau, who’d been already booked for a clattering foul in the first half, was extremely lucky that he didn’t make contact with the intended target of a scything challenge on the touchline. And Galli was later thankful for the referee’s lenient decision to show the yellow card for his hack on the goal-bound Tiatto. So, honestly, it’s difficult to complain about finishing the match with ten men.

The rest was pretty miserable, obviously. It was enlivened slightly by Heidar Helguson, whose sheer hunger was refreshing, but there was no escaping that unarguable scoreline. Indeed, it might still have been worse – Baardsen again saved from a Tiatto drive, before Vernazza’s ill-advised dallying in his own half led to a break for Charvet and a shot into the side netting. Appropriately, it ended with another City goal. That goal should’ve and would’ve come from Tiatto’s determined break towards the box, were it not for Galli’s illegal intervention. But, after the referee had let the Italian off with a booking, Stuart Pearce enforced his own justice by flashing the free kick past the wall and past Baardsen. Heads down, groans of despair, black thoughts of a long journey home.

For now, there are no conclusions. For now, there’s nothing. This team remains a blank canvas, such is its current lack of, well, anything much. Naturally, there’s time to get it right, to find a way of making that midfield work, to look for a reliable method of creating chances, to sweep all the worries aside. Yes, there’s time…

Mind you, it’d be quite splendid if we didn’t have to endure too many matches like this while we’re waiting…

Taken from the unofficial Watford FC site ‘Blind, Stupid and Desperate’ at


City 3 – Watford 0

There is a certain natural order of things in life. The British summer is over by the end of July. We’ve lost the Ashes and the rugby and we’ve performed badly at the athletics. Hopes are high for the Ryder Cup but we know we’ll lose that in dramatic fashion on the last day of the tournament. But it’s OK, because the football season is starting, with all games at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon. Humph.

At 6.15 this particularly murky August Saturday, City’s season finally got underway. It feels strange but despite the arrival of Keegan, there doesn’t seem to have been quite the level of pre-season hype about City that we’ve had in some recent years. Of course, that might be just because I’ve tended to shove my head back under the duvet all summer whenever football’s been mentioned as I’m feeling far too emotionally drained after the happenings of recent years, but there you go. No matter what anyone expects of City they produce something else, so I’m hoping for mid-table obscurity this year.

New boys Berkovic and Pearce (still as Psycho as ever is Stu) started, as expected. Full line up was Nash in goal, then Granville, Pearce, Dunne, Howey (what has he done to his hair?) and Charvet across the back, Berkovic, Tiatto and Wiekens in midfield, and Wanchope and the Goat up front. Watford had a fair few of their new signings on show too, notably Marcus Gayle and Stephen Hughes. The Watford kit is really garish – those yellow shirts make them look a lot bigger than they actually are. The new City kit does look good though – and as (for once) there’d been no problems with supply to the club shop there were a lot of new shiny shirts around the ground.

Unfortunately it didn’t take long before we made the sort of mistake that cost us so many goals last season. The first time the ball came to Nash he cleared it (under no pressure note) straight to Tommy Smith on the edge of the area. Luckily we’re in the first now, not the Premiership, or that would have been 1-0 Watford. As it was the Smith faffed around with it for so long that Pearce had time to get across and clear the ball away. Phew.

The first real City chance came after about ten minutes when Wanchope was fouled centimetres outside the area. Up stepped Big Stu, the Watford defence retreated the obligatory 6(!) yards, but the free kick was agonisingly wide. Good effort though; Pearce may be somewhat challenged on the speed front these days but he can’t half kick a ball hard. It signalled a long spell of almost total domination in the first half – in fact I can’t remember Nash making a save in that period. We had six corners before Watford got one. Most of the danger came from Berkovic, who trips around the field in a manner not seen at Maine Road (apart from for every opposition last year) since Kinkladze left. Unfortunately he’s also got the same composure in front of goal as Kinkladze had. I counted four – four! – chances that he really should have buried. The best was following up on a rasping shot from Tiatto that Baardsen could only parry – all Berkovic had to do was to hit the target with the rebound but he put it over the bar.

Baardsen then tipped one round the post from Berkovic – good save that. Berkovic missed again just moments later, then it was Goater’s turn – this time it was Berkovic supplying the ball in but all Shaun could do was hit it straight at the ‘keeper. Aargh. You know when you have that feeling that it’s just going to be one of those days? When City are so far on top that it’s embarrassing for the opposition but just can’t get the ball in the net?

When we then go on to lose 1-0? That’s how I felt at half time, having watched us completely dominate for so much of the first half. Some of the football was lovely to watch but we just could not score. Very annoying.

The second half started in much the same vein. Claude Charvet (Laurent’s talented twin brother) was brought down for another Pearce-special free kick. This one got even closer than the first, bouncing off the bar and the post to deny City yet again. Watford then almost scored through Gayle (wouldn’t have surprised anyone in the ground had that gone in) before we finally managed to score. Charvet and Berkovic linked up well on the edge of the Watford box before Charvet put an inch-perfect cross over on to the Goat’s head for him to thump into the net. At last. The second came soon after – this time it was Granville who crossed for Wanchope to head against the bar. Before we had time to think “oh fiddlesticks” Berkovic had picked up the rebound, turned, run round the entire Watford defence twice, performed a couple of backflips and sung the Israeli national anthem before finally knocking the ball into the net. In real life it probably took less than half a second for him to score, but in football time it took years.

That was game over. I don’t really remember Watford getting the ball back again after that as we just controlled the game. It was good to watch – we’ve been on the wrong end of enough maulings to appreciate how frustrating it is chasing shadows the way Watford were having to do. The last contribution of the game from Berkovic was to get Paul Robinson sent off for a second bookable offence, a little unjustly – it was a foul but Berkovic (as is his wont) went down like the proverbial sack o’spuds. I can’t possibly condone that sort of behaviour but it’s nice to have someone who can finally dive with flair 🙂 Whitley came on for him not long after that, poor little mite was probably knackered. The third goal came with only a few minutes remaining. Whitley ran two thirds the length of the pitch before being sandwiched out by two defenders on the edge of the box and brought down by one of them. Don’t they know he can’t shoot? They should have had some inclination the way the people in Platt Lane were ducking for cover as Whitley approached with the ball (note not the ones around the goal, they knew they were safe). Instead of just letting him run his little legs into the area then shoot for the stars they had to bring him down. Very silly of them, for up stepped Big Stu again. This time he’d got the range and direction exactly right and curled a beautiful free kick into the goal for 3-0. Lovely.

Berkovic has had all the headlines and the praise from the game, but this was a fine team performance. I would personally have given the man of the match award to Pearce as he was just so solid at the back. We are traditionally crap in the first game of the season, but remember the last time we won 3-0 first game? Against Blackpool – and the end of that season saw us promoted. I know it’s far too early to tell on the strength of one game, but wouldn’t it be nice – for once – to prove the bookies right and to storm the division? If we play like we did on Saturday then we will. Even Charvet was trying hard on Saturday – you may not believe it but it’s true, he even tracked back to help out another defender and won a tackle! The Goat will score dozens this year with the sort of service he was getting on Saturday. Wanchope did look a bit out of sorts but I’m not too bothered when we’ve got Huckerby and Dickov in reserve and the likes of Etuhu coming through.

My only complaint about Saturday is the ridiculous kick off time. I know it’s been chunnered about by many people already, but it’s a farce the way that our games can be messed around with for TV. We’re on TV 8 times before Christmas – that’s 8 games which aren’t at the time they should be at. 6.15 on Saturday is a rubbish time to watch football. The Portsmouth game’s been moved to a 12.30 kick-off – well that’s fantastic news for travelling fans isn’t it? We play Palace on a Friday night, which is even worse. The club had better be getting a lot of money out of this.

Anyway (moan over); for the first season for years I actually do feel hopeful. Let’s see how long it is before City let me down.

And to go back to that natural order of things, I’ve got a whopping bruise on the back of my knee from jumping up and hitting it on the chair when we scored the second. I love football injuries.

Sharon Hargreaves


The first game of the season! What an interminable wait it was. A new division, formation and a couple of players added to the first team. What would this tell us about our prospects?

The teams rolled out to a new tune (no idea what it was) and a tumultuous welcome from the amassed Blue Army. Line up was as follows:

Berkovic (Whitley)
Wanchope (Huckerby)
Goater (Dickov)

No Weaver as he was injured and from all accounts is still a bit lardy.

The game started and Watford showed some good passing moves for the first 15 minutes without much in the way of penetration. We looked a little nervous. Granville and Charvet were guilty of ball watching and being pulled in from their respective wings.

Suddenly things turned round and City began to stroke the ball, with Berkovic instrumental in our surges up the field. We were passing the football about! No long hoof crossfield to an imaginary target. We went from defence through the midfield up to the strikers. There was running off the ball. The guys wanted a touch, wanted to be involved. If there was any fear about our ability, this style soon banished that. We were pressing Watford back and should have scored. Everyone by now knows that Berkovic managed twice to lift the ball over the ‘keeper and the bar in the first half. Goater had a tame shot saved and then cleared by the defence. Berkovic surged past a static defence and chipped the ball to the far corner of the goal; only a superb stretch by Bardsen stopped that being the opening goal. Then the half finished, no goal but plenty of promise.

Second half more of the same, a good opening by Watford without doing anything, then it happened. 1Chop (who had an excellent game) flicked the ball for Goater to run one on one with the ‘keeper but he hit it too close to him. The ball was half cleared and ended up at Berkovic’s feet, he dropped a shoulder and laid a sweet pass on the inside right channel to Charvet. Charvet could have legitimately gone for goal but instead clipped the ball into the middle where Goater was waiting. Header! Net bulging! 1-0 to City and a proper celebration. Three minutes later Granville moved down the left wing and swung a good cross into the area. Wanchope rose and powered a header against the bar. The ball fell for Berkovic, who jammily skipped past a flailing defender and stuck the ball underneath the ‘keeper. 2-0 City fans went wild and so did the Israeli, waving his shirt around his head in old Uwe manner.

Watford were stuffed, we were better than them. We looked better. Now came the test, were we going to throw everything forward and try to score seven more? No, some actual sense prevailed and it came from Pearce. I was watching him after a brief period when our midfielders had got into a mad throw everything forward phase of play. The kind of stuff that lets the opposition break forward. He screamed at the offending parties, making it clear that at 2 nil we could afford to keep the ball. Guess what? They listened and so we started moving it across the back line and occasionally into midfield. This play was mesmerising, Watford chased shadows, then a quick break forward and Whitley was on the edge of the box. For some inexplicable reason Galli(?), the ninety year old centre half, hacked him away at the knee. If Vega hadn’t been covering it would have been a straight red, instead he got a yellow. Doesn’t this guy know that Whitley has magic shooting boots? You know, the ones that cause the ball to divert away from the goal in every instance?

So a nice free kick 20 yards out, perfect for Pearce. The goalie lined up the wall in such a manner that we had to score if it was on target. Baardsen is supposed to be a Premiership goalie, not for his brains! For the last millennium Stuart Pierce has run up and smashed the ball. No up and down delicate stuff like Beckham and Zidane. He blasts the muvver. So just put the wall in front of the goal and hang on to your privates. 3-0 ’cause the goalie’s a muppet and the shot went like a rocket.

More happened in the game but too much to remember and I’m not a journalist. Except that Paul Robinson got sent off for two yellow cards. It’s normally called two bookable offences but neither deserved a booking. The referee was a nightmare in the first half. Blowing at everything. He let it go a bit more second half but only just. I don’t want to see him again as he doesn’t like the idea of football as a contact sport. In conclusion, everyone played well and we battered them. If this is the gap between a crap Premiership side and a good First Division one then it seems to have grown since we were last here. I hope they were the best of the rest ’cause if so we will walk this league (jumping the gun there).

The only disappointment was not getting a look at this Dickson Etuhu kid as every paper reckoned he was a certainty to start.

Roll on Norwich. And hopefully a more readable report from me.

CTID, Dave Blyth (


Well, with Eyal now a regular at Maine Road, Israeli TV has decided to show every possible City game. This is my first attempt at a match report, so bear with me!

A nervy first half lead to little in the way of goalmouth action. Both sides had first match jitters. After Paulo was fouled on the 18 yard box, Pearce’s free kick sails just wide. Every City attack came through Eyal, to the delight of the Israeli commentators. On the 15 minute mark, Watford had chances that went over the bar. Watford had the majority of possession up until the half hour, leading to KK getting on the phone… wonder who he was talking to?!

Eyal’s mastering of the midfield lead to constant City pressure, leading in turn to a succession of corners. Charvet was having a very good game and his pass to Eyal led to a bad miss after the ‘keeper parried. Not feeling hard done by, in the next minute Eyal had a great shot well saved. From the resulting corner Howey headed wide. It was all City, with wave after wave of pressure ending in shots going wide or straight at the Watford ‘keeper. The most apparent quality of City’s play was their passing. It was short, accurate and left all the players calm and in control. Paulo’s header straight at their ‘keeper in the 39th minute left the feeling that it might be all City with a late winner from Watford. The half-time break came after a Charvet cross was just too far ahead of Paulo.

Charvet was playing like a different man when compared to the crap he showed last season. KK seems to have instilled confidence in him, enabling him to show the kind of play that I never thought he was capable of. Half-time 0-0.

47th minute, and Pearce’s free kick hits the bar and post. Is this just not our day? “Shut up Benny and get behind the lads” I heard the Kippax part of my brain say to the whingy Main Stand part. Indeed I duly abided. Although Watford were beginning to dominate the early going in the 2nd half I believed it was only a matter of time. A Watford free kick in the 50th minute lead to Dunne getting hurt but he proved to be ok. As the Goat missed a 1 on 1 in the 59th minute, I gritted my teeth chanting “Feed the Goat” in English and Hebrew just in case Eyal had been teaching Shaun his mother tongue. It did the trick as immediately after the 1 on 1 miss, The Goat scored off a Charvet, yes Charvet cross! 1-0.

After our goal, Watford came into their own and forced Nash into some low stretching saves. Then the Israeli commentator went wild after Paulo hit the bar only for Eyal to put the rebound away. 2-0 in the 62nd minute. Dunne proved his worth as an invaluable defender with a great saving tackle. Robinson was then sent off after fouling Eyal. Eyal learnt how to make a meal of a foul in the Israeli league, where he was despised as a diver, but he does it well. Eyal was replaced by Jeff W in the 76th minute and the standing ovation he received was fully deserved as he gets back to full fitness. A Watford free kick in the 78th minute was punched clear by a confident Carlo Nash. Two successive Watford corners were dealt with by City with short, quick passing football. A joy to watch. Tiatto had a rasping shot parried and The Goat’s shot flew across the face of the goal. Watford were nowhere to be seen. Wave after wave of City attacks lead to Whitley being fouled close to the area and Pearce duly scored with his trademark free kick. 3-0 in the 87th minute. Tiatto was hurt late on before Nash saved from a Watford free kick in the 93rd minute to ensure a clean sheet.

Nash – Excellent long balls, not to much to do but did what he had to very well – 8
Howey – A tower of strength in defence – 8
Dunne – Working well with Dunne and showing extreme maturity and confidence – 8
Wiekens – Quietish game – 6
Granville – Good control, composure and accurate passes – 7
Charvet – Surprise of the match, a few good tackles, good crosses and excellent – 9
Berkovic – Good start to his City career, apart from 2 bad 1st half misses, his ability to make the right pass to the front two is brilliant. Took his goal well and ran back to help defend when needed – 9
Tiatto – Very strong, good crosses, constantly stretching Watford
Wanchope – Great interaction with the Goat, Watford couldn’t deal with him – 8
Goater – Quiet first 30 minutes but got into the game in the second half proving that he should be our leading scorer again this season – 8

Through tinted glasses I reckon Eyal was M.O.M. A great buy by KK; with him and Pearce on the field we have the brains to break down any 1st Division team.

CTID, Benjamin Bloom (BennyBlue), Tel-Aviv (


Something other than Saturday’s triumph – though there is a tenuous link, namely: why didn’t we get Berkovic last season?

Anyway, who’s on your list of players we should have bought (and you thought so at the time…)?

Top of my list is Gary McAllister (instead of Liverpool getting him last year as a mere squad player, but also when he was at Leicester).

It gets harder with players from lower divisions who should have been on the list, but haven’t made it at higher levels, but with KK’s connection with Scunthorpe I’d have thought we might have beaten the £25,000 Gillingham paid for Camerounian Guy Ipoua. I hope I’m not here saying “told you so” after we play the Gills!

Steve Parish (


Well folks, the Club, Greater Manchester Police and the Manchester City Council Safety Advisory Group, have, in their wisdom, decided that Kippax Street Supporters vacate the ground via the car park and Yew Tree Road. Can somebody please explain how herding a crowd between moving cars that want to drive away, also alongside away coaches is in the interests of our safety or indeed the safety of away fans trapped in coaches? How do I stand legally if it all goes wrong? Can you imagine the scene when we ‘entertain’ Millwall? Not a pretty sight! What are these people on? Is there ever any consultation or feedback from the fans on whether the system works? If not, why not? After all, it is our safety that is at stake.

Why can’t the club print on the back of away supporters’ tickets that they are purchased with the understanding that for their own safety they will be kept in for l5 minutes after the end of the game? This will allow City fans to clear the ground, which the majority want to do anyway, and then the away fans can leave in peace later. If there are any ‘City’ troublemakers hanging back they will be more easily dealt with when the majority have dispersed. Other grounds keep away fans in, why can’t we? Why, as home fans, are we continually inconvenienced? When I purchased my season ticket I wasn’t informed that it was on condition that I left the ground by a designated route. If, as the club have informed me before, they cannot keep fans in as it infringes their liberty, then surely preventing me from leaving the ground by my chosen route infringes mine? Surely after Hillsborough the Police have learnt some lessons?

What with the television companies dictating what time I go to a match and now the powers that be telling me that I must walk into a potentially dangerous situation; for the first time in 30 years I am really wondering whether it’s all worth it.

If other fans feel the same I urge you to write to the club or the Fans’ Committee as we are having less and less input into what is happening with football.

Elaine Taylor (


I am ecstatic! What a performance! In my view Watford were and still are the biggest threat to our return to the Premiership. I am now confident that we are going to return in full glory as winners of the First Division, unlike last time as runners up. I know it’s early days, but I have caught the KK disease (anything is possible). Scum beware, we are coming for you, that is if you are still around next season? Goodbye Alex.

Harry Stokes (


“Oh happy days”, as one of my fellow Wicklow branch members often utters, but alas not very often last season. I have been told today by some of my work mates not to get carried away but how in the name of James’s street could someone with blue blood flowing through their veins not get carried away? I remember a time when our team played like they did last Saturday almost every week, and what a brilliant atmosphere we had at Maine Road, on a dull evening for the start of a new campaign.

There was a guy playing on the right wing called Charvet, almost unrecognisable from the one we watched last season and in Eyal Berkovic, it looks like we have finally found Gio’s replacement. We could have won 6-0 without exaggeration against a team wearing one of the worst jerseys I have ever seen, and who were well fancied to take all three points, but the truth is they were totally outplayed. Three great goals, from The Goat, Eyal Berkovic, and Stuart Pearce capped a wonderful team performance, and what odds against Shaun banging in 30 goals this season?

I would like to take this opportunity to wish the squad the best of luck for the rest of the season, and to Darren Quigley who is one of our members and who has just joined MCFC the best also.

Kindest regards, Paul Fegan (


I know it was only Division One and I know it was only Watford, but how refreshing to read the words, verve, flair and skill in the match reports!

Martinez (


Reading Adrian Penrose’s account of meeting Ian Bishop and also his mate posing as a player reminded me of last Boxing Day night, when a mate of mine managed to persuade a barmaid that he was Danny Tiatto. The chances of a Socceroo spending a night drinking heavily in the Halfway House on Ashton Old Road, Openshaw must be pretty slim, but nevertheless, she believed it. After signing a beer mat, “John, See you at Maine Road, Danny T” for the girl’s dad, he then enthralled the star-struck lass with tales of his drinking exploits around the Old Road area. When I questioned him about his drinking and how it affected his football, he reassured myself and the girl that he’d cut out drinking the night before mid-week games, which was pleasing to hear.

Luckily, she didn’t think to spread it around the busy pub that a star such as Tiatto was sinking Guinness in the corner or he would have been sprung pretty quickly I imagine. He did manage to maintain an amazingly convincing Australian accent throughout, hooking them well and truly.

Can’t help but wonder, if back at John’s house that treasured Harp beer mat he was given by his daughter wasn’t the start of the “pub team” rumours that tainted the Blues a while back… I can only hope that if he did phone the papers with revelations of a City hero being bladdered in the Half Way over Christmas, that he left out the details of his antics at closing time…

Chris Chapman (


I would just like to wish Kevin Keegan and the team all the very best for the forthcoming campaign. I believe we are now in the last chance saloon with regard to establishing City as a force to be reckoned with once again. We need to establish an unstoppable momentum this year that will carry us up into the Premiership as champions and establish us in the top 10 the following season – in much the same way KK achieved with Newcastle a few moons since.

We, the fans can help. We need to turn Maine Road/The City Of Manchester into a cauldron of noise that will spur our lot on and intimidate the opposition. We need to establish a habit of winning at home – or from an away team’s perspective being almost unbeatable. We can carry this into the Premiership unlike last time. Let’s do it. Like the song says – Let’s Stick Together.

The Kippax St. Kid, Conal Fitzpatrick (


In answer to a request for information about away strips down the years, have a look at the June ’99 issue of the City Magazine (Vol 4 issue 10). In an article called ‘Brother, you spared us a dime’, you’ll find pictures and dates for kits from 1987/88 thro’ to 1996/97.

I managed to get the 87/88 maroon and white candy striped shirt, worn by Trevor Morley in one of the pictures accompanying the article, from a bloke in London who sells football shirts. I’d be happy to supply the address if wanted.

Rick Eagles (


It’s been 27 years since I started supporting City from my native NZ as a 10 year convert from rugby country to the global game. In all that time I’ve longed to see my beloved City at Maine Road, but it never eventuated… until now that is! The wife’n’kids have bestowed upon me a month long ‘pass-out’ from being hubby and dad to make the ‘pilgrimage’ to Manchester in October. And this is where my MCIVTA cohorts come in.

Do many of you congregate at certain pubs throughout the week or get together before home games? It would be great to meet some of you and swap war stories over a pint or 3. I’m predominantly staying with my mate Tony Prescott in Irlam and intend catching the Stockport, Preston, Grimsby and Forest matches. Does anyone know when the 3rd round of the ‘League Cup’ is played (hopefully October if City do well). Really looking forward to soaking up the atmosphere of live Manchester City football with my fellow Blues.

I’m coming into UK via Eurostar Paris to London. Any tips on the best and cheapest way to get from Waterloo station to my hotel in Bayswater with luggage would also be appreciated.

Listen out for the kiwi voice among you vs. Stockport and say ‘gidday’ to the ‘Hawk’.

CTID, Hawk, Chris Loveridge (


Does anyone have two spare tickets for Norwich on Saturday?

I live in London and cannot get to Manchester and back this week to exchange cash for tickets so we would have to meet on matchday.

All responses welcome!

James Nash (


I have recently moved to Dubai and would like to meet up with any fellow Blues out here to have a few beers, chat about City, watch the games, etc.

Martin Preston (


I am still unaware as to how people in Ireland will be able to view Nationwide games. As I am about to call up Sky tomorrow and renew my sports coverage I would like at least to have the confidence that I will see Goals on Sunday or some form of review. I e-mailed Sky about their plans for Nationwide live coverage and got back a form response saying

“… no plans at this time”

rhubarb rhubarb…

If anyone in the Limerick area knows of any means to view City live then please let me know.

Kieran Daly (


Anybody want a quantity of ‘City’ magazines, December 1996 to August 1998 (except May ’98)? Not the most illustrious period in our beloved club’s history, I know, so make me an offer – I’m having a moving-house induced clear out…

Jaz Long (


With KK taking the helm, one question I’ve been pondering is ‘Which City managers played for England?’ I can think of the following:

Kevin Keegan
Joe Royle
Phil Neal
Steve Coppell
Alan Ball
Peter Reid
Howard Kendall
Joe Mercer

I know we’ve had more managers than most clubs but this must be a record!

Alan Hulley (


Told my Rag brother-in-law that I was off to South Africa on business. He said “Watch out for the Lions and Tigers”. I replied “If I’ve got to watch out for Tigers I’ll be on the wrong Continent… just like 95% of your fans”.

David Kilroy (


Quite like these (from Ten reasons why Giggs deserves the tax free testimonial million he got the other week…

  1. In the film Indecent Proposal, Demi Moore got £1 million for one nightscrewing Robert Redford. So why shouldn’t Ryan get £1 million for one nightscrewing Manchester United and Celtic supporters?
  2. Ryan’s existing millions are getting lonely and pining for a new millionpounds to play with.
  3. One million pounds will help Ryan get over the disappointment of beingoverlooked for a part in Tim Burton’s Planet Of The Apes, despite hispublic audition after scoring against Arsenal in the 1999 FA Cup semi-finalreplay.
  4. Telly Survivor Charlotte won £1 million for running around an eerily quietplace which was crawling with vermin. Not much different to Ryan’s bignight at Old Trafford, then.
  5. Counting his money at home will keep Ryan’s mind off the niggling calfinjury he is due to pick up the next time Wales have to play a friendly inArmenia.
  6. Having been given the job of buying the booze for Sir Alex Ferguson’sleaving do, Ryan needs all the money he can get.
  7. With £1 million, Ryan can build a futuristic dream home in Middlesbroughready for the days when he’s not good enough to play for Manchester Unitedanymore. So next year then!
  8. If Ryan earns as much as team-mate Beckham, he too might end up withsomeone as beautiful and talented as Posh Spice.
  9. This way, Ryan is guaranteed to be able to afford every replica kitUnited put out until August 2008.
  10. Fact: Ryan Giggs has to shower naked alongside Luke Chadwick every day- one million quid seems cheap under the circumstances.

Dave Cash (


Recent results from 30 July 2001 to 12 August 2001 inclusive

12 August 2001

Sheffield Wednesday 0 - 2 Burnley             21,767

11 August 2001

Bradford City       4 - 0 Barnsley            16,367
Gillingham          5 - 0 Preston North End    9,412
Grimsby Town        1 - 0 Crewe Alexandra      5,368
Millwall            4 - 0 Norwich City        14,501
Nottingham Forest   1 - 1 Sheffield United    25,513
Rotherham United    2 - 3 Crystal Palace       6,994
Stockport County    0 - 2 Coventry City        9,329
Walsall             2 - 1 West Bromwich Albion 9,181
Wimbledon           3 - 1 Birmingham City      9,142
Wolverhampton Wndrs 2 - 2 Portsmouth          23,012
Manchester City     3 - 0 Watford             33,939

League table to 12 August 2001 inclusive

                       HOME      AWAY     OVERALL
                   P W D L F A W D L F A W D L F A GD Pts
 1 Gillingham      1 1 0 0 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 5 0  5 3
 2 Bradford City   1 1 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 4 0  4 3
 3 Millwall        1 1 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 4 0  4 3
 4 Manchester City 1 1 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 0  3 3
 5 Wimbledon       1 1 0 0 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 1  2 3
 6 Burnley         1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 2 0  2 3
 7 Coventry City   1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 2 0  2 3
 8 Crystal Palace  1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 2 1 0 0 3 2  1 3
 9 Walsall         1 1 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 1  1 3
10 Grimsby Town    1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0  1 3
11 Portsmouth      1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 2 0 1 0 2 2  0 1
12 Wolves          1 0 1 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 2  0 1
13 Nottm Forest    1 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1  0 1
14 Sheff. United   1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 1  0 1
15 Rotherham Utd.  1 0 0 1 2 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 3 -1 0
16 West Brom A.    1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 2 0 0 1 1 2 -1 0
17 Crewe Alex.     1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 -1 0
18 Birmingham City 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 3 0 0 1 1 3 -2 0
19 Sheff. Wed.     1 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 -2 0
20 Stockport C.    1 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 -2 0
21 Watford         1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 3 0 0 1 0 3 -3 0
22 Barnsley        1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 4 0 0 1 0 4 -4 0
23 Norwich City    1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 4 0 0 1 0 4 -4 0
24 Preston N.E.    1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 5 0 0 1 0 5 -5 0

With thanks to Football 365 (


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Newsletter #735