Newsletter #847

Some excellent match reports tonight, thanks to Jonathan, David and James, on a game where we played well for the final 10/15 minutes and were embarrassing for the rest. Shoddy tackle by Tiatto saw us down to 10 men when we suddenly started playing coherently and goals from The Elk and The Goat earned us a point.

We also have opinion, book review, news on a forthcoming publication, ticket requests and another great Why Blue.

Finally news coming out of Maine Road that Dunne appears to have finally peed on his chips as the Board make a decision about his future – no doubt Don will bring us more on that on Thursday.

Next game: West Ham United, away, 3pm Saturday 21 September 2002


A magnificent fightback in the last 15 minutes secured an unlikely point for 10 man Manchester City; substitute Shaun Goater forcing the equaliser in the last minute of normal time. However, the main talking point of the game is likely to be the reason City were ten men – Danny Tiatto’s dismissal for an assault on David Thompson.

Those who believe that Roy Keane should face prosecution for his challenge on Alfie Haaland must surely believe that the same sanctions should befall Tiatto for his dreadful stamp on 65 minutes. The ball was long gone and his cynical action was as bad a challenge as you will see – made even worse by the fact that Tiatto had been on the pitch for only 5 minutes.

Tiatto was clearly frustrated by a hitherto lacklustre City performance that had seen Blackburn take a merited 2 goal lead, though both goals were gifted after slack passing from defence.

The first on 25 minutes had seen debutant Bischoff – in for the injured Howey and in front of Richard Dunne who was left out for a breach of club discipline – was placed under pressure from a Schmeichel pass out. All he could do was pass to the heavily policed Foe whose pass went astray to Thompson. As City backed off to regain their position between ball and goal, Thompson cut inside and leathered it low from 20 yards into the corner of the goal. Although he had been gifted the ball, Thompson had had plenty to do and scored a cracking goal.

Five minutes into the second half and Shaun Wright-Phillips, bringing the ball out of defence, failed to find the overlapping Distin on the right, and the Frenchman’s desertion of post was ruthlessly exploited as the ball was swept across the pitch to the unmarked Cole, who finished from an angle 10 yards out, the ball going through Schmeichel.

City had started with Anelka and Shuker up front and they had seen little service as the midfield and defence were put under severe pressure whenever they got the ball. As a result they were losing possession or lumping it forward where, for Shuker in particular, it was a lost cause against the Blackburn defence.

They were restricted to one real opportunity in the 1st half when Shuker mis-kicked from an Anelka pass back – he knows he should have done better. All too often, City were exploited on the flanks, Gillespie enjoying a field day against Jensen, the Dane thankful that his crossing was awful.

By half time, Kevin Keegan’s body language spoke volumes, sternly leaning on his dugout. City were outplayed and out-muscled, desperately out of touch. You might have expected changes at half time but Keegan persisted, and to be fair the early skirmishes saw numerous corners (mostly scuffed by Benarbia having an off day) and a golden opportunity for Shuker that should have been the equaliser but he lifted the bouncing through ball over ‘keeper and bar. Then came Cole’s intervention – his final act as he was injured whilst scoring.

To try to change the match’s impetus, Keegan threw on Goater & Tiatto on the hour – replacing Shuker & Bischoff to play 4-4-2. Tiatto’s only act of significance was to disgrace himself. And the City crowd did themselves no favours either, booing the man who had just had the Australian’s studs hit his groin and raked down to his knee.

But, as often is the case, the ten men pushed on, the team with a full complement unsure of how to deal with an opposition with a ‘what the hell’ attitude. Naturally though, this left City exposed, and there were chances at both ends, Schmeichel saving well from Yorke and Anelka heading just over when beating Friedel to the ball.

With 15 minutes left, Benarbia & Berkovic finally showed the interchanging passing the game had missed, slicing open the defence to allow the Israeli to run to the left byline. He spotted Anelka drifting off the retreating defence and cut back for him to slot home. Now City were really to go for it as Blackburn forgot how to keep the ball.

Anelka had a shot deflected wide (although the ref gave a goal kick), Foe shot over and Distin cut back to no-one, but in the final minute, when allowed to cut back again, he found Goater who squirmed the ball into the net in an almost carbon copy of Anelka’s goal.

The rousing finish sent the crowd home happy, if not the result. Keegan will not be so pleased with the team’s performance, but he will be furious with one individual who nearly ruined it. Don’t be surprised if this is not the end of the matter.

Jonathan Haggart (


For 80 minutes City were very poor and were being beaten by a Blackburn team that were better than City only insofar as they didn’t pass the ball to City players in dangerous positions. Both Blackburn goals were gifts from poor passes. Then Jenson, Benarbia and Bercovic combined in the only real bit of good football to present the ball to Anelka who scored with ease. Then Goater, in about his 70th minute of playing this season, equalised from a similar move. Given more time and even though they were down to ten men City would have won.

The referee was predictably poor: some specific examples:

Free kick against Foe when Thompson(?) clearly went over the top of the ball, Neil (?) booked for dissent but not for the foul after a high two footed tackle on Wright-Phillips, no card for Flitcroft after a shoulder high studs showing assault on Benarbia, Tiatto sent off for a tackle on a par with the three above Blackburn challenges – in isolation Tiatto could have little complaint but consistency demanded more action to the Blackburn challenges. Towards the end of the first half City had a free kick in the Blackburn half and a Blackburn player stood two feet from the ball to stop the kick being taken – no action by the referee; towards the end of the game Berkovic does likewise and is booked and the ball moved ten yards forward.

The Tiatto sending off was bizarre – the ref is 2 metres away looking in the direction of the challenge and with no intervening players to obscure his view but only sends Tiatto off after consulting with both assistants who were 25 and 50 metres away respectively – why? The challenge was two footed but low and Thompson was overstretched and slightly late which is why he got caught; if Tiatto had gone in with one foot the foul would have been the other way. Instead of buying players City need to be investing in referees’ benevolent funds – I think it’s more cost effective.

Incidentally full marks for Barry Knight for reversing his view of the Shaun Wright-Phillips sending off – it is difficult for referees but if they are prepared to admitwith hindsight and video that they may have been wrong then I’ve a lot more respect for they. Sadly Philip Don seems to be to poor referees what Taggart is to Keane and believes that if you deny there is a problem then everything is OK.

Only other comment is that after viewing both the Arsenal game and the Blackburn game I’m wondering what Foe’s rôle is – supposedly it is to protect the back 3/4 but he seems to be constantly putting them under pressure by giving the ball away 25-30 metres from City’s goal; add this to a couple of glaring misses in front of goal and I think you have City’s weakest link – hopefully he’ll improve – meantime I’d use Horlock.

Anelka – magic and Shaun Wright-Phillips excellent too (apart from his contribution to the Blackburn second goal). Currently think Goater is the best partner for Anelka – at least until Wanchope returns, Huckerby good alternative as his presence and speed if not his final delivery creates space in the centre – Shuker is one for the future.

The last ten minutes shows that City can compete in this division, the first eighty leave me wondering whether they will.

David Lewis (


Graeme Souness; a man who was going mental at his team being 2-0 up; I only hope the club doctor has a good supply of Kalms. Quite how we managed to grab a point from this game is one of the great mysteries, but at least the last ten minutes made up for the appalling spectacle that was the first 80!

City lined up without Huckerby and Howey who had been pre-match doubts, their replacements saw the surprise inclusion of Mikkel Bischoff and Chris Shuker. The bench saw the Goat, Nash, Ritchie, Horlock, and Tiatto keeping each other happy. It was at this point that I heard that Dunne had been suspended (sacked was the word used but I suppose it gets a bit like Chinese whispers) for drinking escapades and arguing with Howey (not sure about the last bit). I think it is probably safe to say Dunny’s had his chips – possibly as a side order with 10 pints of the black stuff!

As the teams were read out it was nice to hear Flitcroft getting a warm reception from the City fans. City kicked off from North to Platt Lane, actually to be totally accurate Blackburn kicked off. City never really got going, with the fans keeping themselves amused by booing Yoke, Cole and remarking on how small Shuker was. My betting is that he is smaller than SWeeP. Blackburn fans amused themselves with songs about Stan Ternant and Burnley!

Blackburn had the real first chance as a corner was headed just wide by Berg, but with City constantly giving the ball away it was likely Berg wouldn’t regret his miss and it was proved. Schmeichel (who isn’t suited to Keegan’s play it from the back philosophy) rolled the ball out to one of the defenders who laid it forward to Foe. Foe, who was having a poor first half, dwelt too long on the ball and rushed a poor pass back towards Sun. Ex-City linked David Thompson picked up on the short pass, took the ball inside and struck the ball hard and low with his right foot beyond Schmeichel and into the bottom left hand corner for 1-0. A quality strike, but City had only themselves to blame.

You would have thought City might have raised themselves, but it was Blackburn who were in danger of increasing their lead. Yorke managed to twist and turn his way beyond the defence but saw Schmeichel parry his shot to safety. Thompson was controlling midfield, particularly with Berkovic unable to tackle – has anyone seen him win a ball, he seems to pull out of challenges even when it’s 60:40 in his favour.

Shuker had worked hard but to little effort, particularly as the high balls up field were aimed at him rather than Anelka. Yet his link up play with Berkovic nearly saw Anelka in on goal, but the solid Blackburn defence managed to get the ball clear. Anelka tried a shot from distance but fortunately for the Blackburn fans Friedel managed to tip it over the bar for a corner. As the half closed Anelka ran down the right but unfortunately Friedel cut out his cross before Benarbia could connect.

Half time saw the draw made by Flowers, who unsurprisingly got a better reception off the Blackburn fans than the City ones. The penalty shoot out competition was carried out in front of the Kippax, odd considering the fact that the family stand is at the corner of Main & Platt Lane. Oh and I noticed that the family stand seems to be trialing the smart card (presumably similar if not the same to the one to be used next season?). Any comments on how well it’s working? Anyway City lost the shoot out 3-2.

It was Blackburn who started the second half looking for the second goal. Yorke managed to hit the side netting from a Gillespie cross, although Schmeichel had it well covered.

City then created their best chance on goal as Berkovic sent Shuker clear wide right, but his lofted shot was unfortunate in that it dropped just wide of the far post. However, it was indecision in defence that led to Blackburn’s second goal, as Cole pounced on a loose ball (possibly Distin, Bischoff or SWeeP’s fault I can’t remember as I was getting a bit cheesed off at this point), ran clear of Sun to slot the ball between Schmeichel’s legs for 2-0. Cole then limped off presumably as a result of celebrating too hard.

Keegan changed things by bringing on the Goat and Tiatto for Bischoff and Shuker. To be fair to Shuker & Bischoff neither had done too much wrong, and it didn’t help that the rest of their teammates had decided to take the day off. With Goater hardly touching the ball, Tiatto decided he’d had enough and wet over the top on Thompson. Quite what he was doing is beyond me; quite why the ref had to consult with both assistants is beyond me as the challenge was a straight red. No arguments from me and none from KK afterwards, refreshing change from Taggart and Wenger. Could we see a huge clearout in January?

Ten men and 2-0 down, it looked hopeless for City. Yorke nearly made it 2 but fortunately Schmeichel managed to get the ball out for a corner. The corner saw Berg go close once again, but with 10 minutes to go City sprung into life.

Benarbia started the move sending Berkovic down the left side of the box where he dragged the ball back to Anelka who smashed it home (with a slight deflection so no doubt it’ll go down as another o.g. *mutter* dubious goals panel indeed *mutter*) for 2-1. Almost straight after Foe found himself free just outside the box after excellent build-up play, but unfortunately he curled his right foot shot over the top of the crossbar. It all seemed too little too late, particularly when Mark Halsey (fourth official) started fiddling with the minute board. Yet Distin (who moments earlier had gone a similar run) took the ball down the left touchline beyond the defender and squared it back across to the un-marked Goat who was on the penalty spot. The half-cheers were already in the air (listen to the TV replays) as Goater struck the ball and with another deflection (this time up and over Friedel) City were level.

Four minutes of injury time were played with City looking closest to nicking a win. We had one clear penalty turned down (handball) but in the excitement I can’t remember if it was before during or after our goal-scoring spree. As the final whistle went, we went home delighted at a draw in a match we deserved to get nothing out of. Though I think it says something about the spirit within the club (no Dunnylad not that sort of spirit) that we can raise ourselves when one man down and not performing particularly well. The Premiership… I love it, just love it.

James Walsh (


I want to pick up on the point made in MCIVTA 844 about Eyal Berkovic.

It’s been mentioned that his tackling abilities have not been up to scratch, which is fairly accurate of the games I’ve seen, but I don’t see a different player from last season, just a different level of opposition. He got away with it last season due to the often poor quality opposition we were facing.

With Berkovic the nature of the beast is that when it comes to anything remotely like a 50-50 challenge he isn’t going to be there. This was particularly highlighted for me at the Newcastle game because we had a slender lead due to us not converting our many chances. While I still like Berkovic as a player, this aspect of his game does worry me at this level where you can be punished very quickly for a missed tackle – especially in the centre of midfield. Only time will tell but in some games he may be luxury we cannot afford although I hope the quality of his performances lead KK with no choice but to pick him.

Graham Keller (GKMCFC@AOL.COM)


Stop Making Sense by Peter Brophy
Paperback 224 pages, £8.95
Published by The Parrs Wood Press
ISBN: 1 903158 33 8

According to the blurb on the jacket: many football teams are unpredictable, but none can rival Manchester City for the tag of English football’s soap opera club. In Stop Making Sense, long-time fan Peter Brophy traces the Blues’ fortunes from the 1975-6 League Cup-winning season to the 2001-2 First Division championship success under Kevin Keegan, and finds that City’s frequent ups and downs have mirrored the twists and turns of his own life.

Told with warmth, passion, honesty and humour, this is a unique story of a unique football club, and is probably the only book ever written to mention Frank Clark and Ivan the Terrible in the same sentence.

Many of you will have heard of Peter Brophy through MCIVTA. His biography on the book jacket reveals that “… he has studied and worked in Cambridge, Paris, Leeds, Brussels, St. Petersburg and Moscow. A lifelong Manchester City supporter, he has for over five years been a regular contributor to a number of fanzines and websites devoted to the club. Now 33 years old, he is still a City season-ticket holder despite currently living in London, where he is a government advisory lawyer.”

Now forgive me if I’m wrong but “despite living in London” – it’s not difficult to live in London and support City is it? How about: “Despite living in London he is not a member of the London branch.”

I’m never sure about fan autobiographies like this – where so called ‘fans’ lives are mirrored through the ups and downs of a football club. I assume publishers aren’t that sure either – otherwise this book would be published by a mainstream house rather than a little known Manchester publisher. Nick Hornby is to blame of course.


If you are a Manchester City completist then this book’s for you. Unfortunately it’s too cliché-ridden and the ‘my life takes a turn for the worst just as City lose a few games’ references are too laboured for anyone to read it through to the bitter end.

Brophy has obviously used Colin Schindler’s book as his template for this offering and there is a more than a hint of arrogance in the premise that we should be more interested in these people’s lives than in the trials and tribulations of our football club. By writing books like these, the authors are claiming Manchester City as their exclusive property in the sense that they are both saying ‘I define my existence by my devotion to my football club’ – which is rot.

To give you a flavour of the book, I’ve selected five quotes from it.

  1. The late 1970s may not be many people’s idea of days of wine and roses.
  2. things weren’t just good for me but for City as well.
  3. my approach to the new stage in my education mirrored (John) Bond’s at Maine Road.
  4. As things turned out, I was to emulate City’s crash.
  5. The similarity between City and Russia goes far beyond the fact that bothhave often seemed crazy enough to have been invented for the benefit of aspoof TV show.

If I want to read about City, Gary James’ history is the essential read. I don’t need somebody telling me about the ‘amazing coincidences’ that have occurred in his fairly routine life whilst following City – often from afar. 35,000 City fans have all got a book in them and that’s where it should remain. Peter Brophy’s life may be of interest to his immediate family but I don’t care one jot about any of it.

If you like Colin Schindler’s ‘Manchester United Ruined My Life’, you’ll love ‘Stop Making Sense’ by Peter Brophy. However, you don’t need to buy it as it’s essentially the same book.

John Kelsey (



I’d like to thank everybody who has helped me with my research for The Greatest City and those who’ve offered to help with the Maine Road book. The Greatest City update will be on sale in bookshops over the next seven days and costs £24.99 for 496 A4 pages. Many MCIVTA readers have been acknowledged within the book and I’d like to thank you all again. Obviously, Amazon and other online booksellers will also be selling copies.

The Maine Road book will be available in September 2003, however the chance has now come to subscribe and get your name printed in the book. With around 300 large A4 format pages “Farewell to Maine Road” will provide a unique record of the stadium’s history, and will be the perfect book for any supporter of City; Maine Road attendee; or general football enthusiast.

To subscribe simply contact Polar Publishing on the Credit Card Hotline (0116 274 4774) or send a cheque for £22.99 (including UK postage & packing – overseas please check with Polar) per book to Polar print Group Ltd., FREEPOST LE5731, Leicester LE4 9BR. Your pre-publication subscription means your name will appear in the book and all subscribers will also have the opportunity of having their favourite game (e.g. Everton, March 1956 or Stoke, March 1934) and preferred part of the ground listed (e.g. ‘old’ Kippax Stand, or ‘new’ Platt Lane). Please ensure you state these details when writing or calling.

Companies and organisations can also purchase copies in multiples of ten for £200. For that each organisation will be given the opportunity to include a specific fifty word display area for their own corporate message. If you wish to take advantage of this offer please contact Julia Byrne at Polar (0116 274 4774).

Thanks, Gary James (


Next Saturday my dream will become reality. For the first time (and at the same time, probably the last) I will visit Maine Road, the home of many brave men. Though for my big expectation for the game against Liverpool at the 28th of September, I have a problem.

I’m leaving Sweden on Friday and need to find a way to travel between London and Manchester in a reasonably cheap way. What’s the best way to travel London-Manchester-London on the same day? Train or bus? If bus, which company is the most price-worthy?

I have tried to solve this problem on my own at the Internet, but there are so many different bus companies and I seem to only find the wrong options.

Hoping for help from my MCIVTA-friends and of course of a City win against Liverpool on the 28th of September.

Mikael Leijon (


I’m a Norwegian City fan travelling to London this weekend and I haven’t got hold of a ticket for the West Ham game yet! Hopefully there is someone out there with a spare ticket! I will be in London on either Wednesday or Thursday. Please email or call +47 982 32 913.

Kjartan Aanestad (


Seeking 4 tickets for home game vs. Charlton 16th November or vs. Bolton 30th November. Any offers or advice on how I might purchase tickets on the day? Please email or call – 00 353 86823 6662.

Brendan Thornberry (


Ticket for West Ham game desperately sought. Please call 020 7725 3224 (w) or 020 7731 6912 (h) or e-mail.

Hopefully, Simon Hope (

I know this is a long shot and I will have to join the queue, but I too am desparate for a ticket (preferably 2!) for the forthcoming West Ham game. I haven’t got a particular sob story I’m afraid – just a London Blue who is sick of missing out on seeing the boys when they visit the Smoke.

If anyone could help me out I would be eternally grateful.

Patrick (


Hello fellow Blues,

We’re two Swedish City fans, who are going over to Manchester for the last week of September, if we can get hold of two tickets for the Liverpool game. We really want to attend Main Road before we leave the classical ground and this is probably our last chance. So does anybody have two tickets for sale for the Liverpool game or further suggestions where I can turn to?

CTIL, Johan Nystr