Newsletter #869

An easy 3 points from the 2-0 victory (Howey, Berkovic) against Bolton at the weekend sees us inch up the table away from the danger spot. Bolton played poorly, to be fair they were hit by several injuries, but showed no sign of the team who had routed Leeds and the other Manchester team. Once we scored that was it, and a sublime piece of play by Anelka set up our second goal from Berkovic. Game over. Leaving the faithful to dry out after the November rainfall came in one day.

Tonight we have three excellent match reports thanks to Sharon, Jonathan and James. There’s also a bit of opinion and a few requests.

The FA Youth Cup game vs. Wrexham was also a late casualty of the weather – this has now been scheduled for Wednesday evening, 7pm at Ewen Fields.

Next game: Sunderland, away, 7.45pm Monday 9 December 2002 (TV game)


The fixtures against Bolton always have a certain extra frisson in the Hargreaves household, what with my husband being a lifelong Wanderers supporter. We’ve had some “fun” journeys home after the odd recent fixture when they’ve beaten us (thankfully not too often) – 3.5 hours in the car with me sulking isn’t something I’d wish on anyone. He therefore doesn’t take it too hard when we do beat them as it at least makes his home life bearable for the next couple of weeks.

We arrived at Maine Road on Saturday in the middle of an unrelenting downpour, me to make my way to my nice dry seat at the back of the Kippax, him to trot (Trotters, geddit? groan) off to his puddle in the Gene Kelly mark 1. Heh heh heh. With Howey and Distin thankfully restored to the side, SWP dropped to the bench and Jensen was nowhere to be seen. Full line up was Schmeichel, Tiatto, Howey, Distin, Dunne, Sun, Foe, Horlock, Berkovic, Goater and Anelka. The first thing I noticed was that Jeff Winter the ref wasn’t for once the fattest man on the pitch (in fact I was so confused by this that I didn’t believe it was him at first) as despite Dunnymonster’s diet he’s still a bit porky. The second thing was that even Dunne didn’t qualify for that dubious honour this time, as Bolton had Ivan Campo at centre half. Now I always thought TV made people look fatter than they really were, but in Campo’s case that just isn’t true. The man is immense. You could probably say he was a towering presence in the Bolton defence, but only because he’s about three times the girth of everyone else. It must be incredibly tiring carrying all that weight around – maybe that explains why he’s such a rubbish player?

The conditions were appalling. The rain only stopped for about ten minutes all game, towards the end of the first half. Sun in particular was struggling to stay on his feet, and there weren’t many sliding tackles being made as it was impossible to control where you’d end up. You could have started a slide at the edge of one penalty area and only been able to stop yourself at the edge of the opposing area if you came up against an immovable object. Something like Campo would do the trick. It wasn’t too surprising then – to anyone except the moaning git who sits in front – that the quality of the football on show wasn’t the highest. It was impossible to play nice, pretty, passing football in that sort of rain; it was hard enough for the players to keep their feet. Apart from Campo, who has the benefit of an incredibly low centre of gravity as well as a ridiculous amount of inertia to overcome. Jussi (best name in football) Jaaskelainen had a couple of saves to make in the first ten minutes from Anelka and Goater but there wasn’t too much to shout about. The chances did all go to City though, so it wasn’t too surprising when Bolton should have taken the lead. Howey headed the ball back to Schmeichel too weakly and Djorkaeff nipped in to try to steal it from him before he could collect. Luckily for City his reactions were about as fast as those of a leadlined filing cabinet and Schmeichel could just – and I mean just – collect in time. I’d been looking forward to seeing Okocha playing as he seems to have been about the only success at Bolton this year, but he was affected by the same malaise as the rest of his teammates and didn’t seem to have too much to offer. I could see the pattern for the game developing though – we have all the possession, can’t create any dangerous chances, then go and lose by a daft goal à la Charlton. So it was nice to be proven wrong. Horlock took a corner from the right that was knocked straight out by the Bolton defence. The next corner was taken from the left by Berkovic, knocked on by Foe and headed into the net at about ankle height by Howey. A goal from a centre half scored from a header from a corner? Who’d have thought it.

Quite honestly that was game over. I’ve seen many performances from City over the years where they just haven’t looked interested, and that was what Bolton looked like on Saturday. We should have had more before the half time whistle went as Anelka, Goater, Foe and Berkovic all had good chances. I’ll blame the inability to take any of them on the weather. Tiatto was coming in for a right pasting from the miserable git in front of us but there’s no change there – this is the man who thought Tiatto was rubbish throughout the derby game and shouldn’t have come back out at half time. Hmm. I wouldn’t mind as much (everyone’s entitled to their own opinion and all that) but he’s so loud! I don’t want to know the in depth analyses of the deficiencies in every single player’s game that he takes such delight in going through in so much detail from the moment a match starts till the moment the players vanish down the tunnel. It wouldn’t be so bad if he wasn’t so wrong all the time – this is the man who thought Nigel Clough was one of the best buys we’d ever made, so what does that tell you about him? Urgh now I’ve wasted almost a whole paragraph in a match report going on about him. I know Maine Road has more than its fair share of whingers but why can’t we all identify them to the club and have them moved to their own area in the new ground? Somewhere behind soundproof glass where they can moan at each other to their hearts’ content and leave the rest of us in peace to get on with watching the game. Phew, rant over.

The second half was a similar story. The conditions didn’t improve, the Bolton players didn’t look any more interested and Campo didn’t look any more mobile when he was playing down our end of the pitch and I could see him better. Mark (husband) said after the game that the worst bit for them was watching Anelka be five yards faster than Campo over just one yard. There was a good shout for a Bolton sending off after about 15 minutes in, when Nolan tugged Distin’s shirt as he was running towards the area, but he probably wasn’t last man. In retrospect it was a good bit of defending from Nolan – Anelka was charging into the middle of the area and would have had to come up with a miss of Foe proportions from the cross that Distin was surely about to make to not put the score to 2-0, but as it was Nolan escaped with a yellow card and we as usual did naff all from the free kick.

The second goal did finally come though, and from the best move of the match. Tiatto dispossessed a Bolton midfielder and passed the ball to Anelka. He executed a magical pirouette in midfield before putting an inch perfect ball through to Berkovic, who took full advantage of Simon Charlton’s not being able to get out of the way to deflect the ball off him and past Juicy for a goal. There was a snotty comment in the Observer on Sunday about how the pass from Anelka was a rare thing that made me think maybe the bloke in front who never watches the same game as me had started writing football reports as well as moaning about the players, club, board, league etc. – obviously not someone who takes any notice of what Anelka contributes to the side. Idiot.

Bolton were completely bereft of ideas by this point, and I only remember them having one chance on goal in the second half. The first shot came from Jermaine Johnson and was blocked by Schmeichel but only as far as Okocha. Schmeichel was still on the ground having made the initial block, but all Okocha could do was timidly knock it – with little power – about two feet above where Schmeichel was lying so it was an easy matter for him to stick his hand up and grab hold of the ball. Benarbia came on for Goater, who had a quiet game, with about ten minutes to go but he couldn’t help us get a third. It was probably a relief for all concerned when the whistle blew for the end of the game, especially for Mark who could leave the Gene Kelly and make his way into a nice, dry pub to drip dry by the radiator. Apparently the consensus amongst the Bolton fans was that it was an average performance from us against a poor one from them. That’s probably fair, but this was a completely one sided game. If Bolton are showing relegation form and playing relegation quality football – which on Saturday’s evidence they are – then we should still be able to demonstrate we have the quality and ability required to keep us up by beating the other teams that are down near the bottom. Like West Ham and Charlton doh! Just watch us go and lose against Sunderland now.

Sharon Hargreaves


An excellent City team performance saw off Bolton at Maine Road and blew away the rumours that had enveloped the club this week, as well as putting their Middlesbrough disappointment behind them.

Horlock retained his place due to Jensen being unavailable (Tiatto moved to the left) whilst Distin and Howey returned from injury. The presence of the latter two made the defence immediately more solid, their presence giving an air of confidence to the side. Distin speed reads the game and was light years in front of the lone striker Pederson, who was constantly caught offside or unawares by the well-drilled City unit. Howey was also solid as a rock, and opened the scoring to boot.

Halfway through the first half he stooped to head in a flicked on Berkovic corner. The goal wasn’t a huge surprise as City had stepped up the tempo after an even first 15 minutes. Indeed, by then City should have been 1 up already when Anelka was put clean through but shanked his left foot shot into the North Stand.

The second, on 56 minutes, was a quality effort. Tiatto beat Nolan to a short Bolton pass in his own half and dispatched a pass to Anelka just inside the Bolton territory. His surging run forward led to a pass to the right where the onrushing Berkovic dispatched a neat finish into the net. Much should be made though of Shaun Goater’s contribution. Although he didn’t touch the ball, his darting run to the left took half the Bolton defence and left the Israeli with acres of space.

City had come out flying for the second half – clearly stirred by Keegan’s half time words and Bolton could not live with their pace and passing. Nolan was booked when desperately upending Distin who had beaten him and only needed to square to Goater for a goal. Had he been yellow carded for his sliding assault on Tiatto in the first half he would have seen red or City would have scored. Overall though, referee Jeff Winter had an effective game.

Marc Vivien Foe had an excellent game on his return from suspension, constantly up and down the pitch making himself available, and he has a change of pace that isn’t available to Horlock, who contented himself by sitting in front of the back 3, spraying passes left and right. However, his reluctance to occasionally find Row Z nearly cost City twice near the end as he lost the ball under pressure and a fine Schmeichel saved a consolation. Horlock’s dithering had also cost the winner against Charlton and he needs to be aware of the ‘tank it into the stand’ option. But other than this, City had relaxed in the second half and comfortably contained what Bolton had to offer, including the excellent Djorkaeff – a pleasure to see him play.

So a good end to a testing week for City. Information hungry fans had driven the club to distraction earlier in the week, when an Internet post sparked lines of enquiry from every source and the bizarre statement of ‘yes, we still have a manager’. And a random selection of Keegan watching through this game would convince he was here for the long haul. Every dodgy throw in decision, bad Bolton foul and City goal was greeted by the body language of a man who cares… passionately. And that’s why City fans love him.

Jonathan Haggart (


Pity the poor sods who were sat in the Gene Kelly or the front rows of the Main Stand, as it was plastic poncho weather in Manchester on Saturday. Although the game wasn’t a classic, it did remind you of the fixtures last season where City scored x number of goals but quite easily could have scored double the amount.

Pre-match entertainment involved being ‘hijacked’ by Bullock’s Buses from near Piccadilly Gardens. The bus driver seemed quite keen to provide a tour of Manchester to anyone who was willing to give him 50 pence. Both Kev & I said we were looking to go to Maine Road, so he said “I’m going there”. Now this must have been in the loose sense of Maine Road as he shouted “Rusholme for those going to Maine Road”. Cheers. After a good wander to the ground, Kev purchased a new home shirt (for some reason they don’t sell them in Weymouth) and we ate, drank and were merry!

City’s line-up included a shock dropping of Jensen, the shock being that he’d been dropped rather than him deserving it (probably find now he caught that flu bug off Wiekens). Tiatto filled in a left wing back, meaning Horlock and Foe in the middle alongside Berkovic. The rest of the team saw Distin and Howey return, with Wiekens making the bench.

City kicked off from Platt Lane to North Stand, with players struggling with the conditions. The swirling wind, driving drizzle and greasy top (to use a favoured commentators’ phrase) meant that the balls back to Schmeichel were entertaining in a dangerous/extreme sports kind of a way. Berkovic was, however, revelling in the conditions. A couple of through balls saw the Goat and the Elk latch onto opportunities but on both occasions the Bolton ‘keeper kept the shots out. Anelka also went on a mazy run, taking on three or four Bolton defenders before his weak shot was cleared.

As conditions worsened Dunne was lucky to avoid a booking after sliding through a Bolton player, only to be graciously awarded a corner to Bolton by Jeff Winter (apt surname really, all we needed was a bit of snow). Horlock was to escape in a similar fashion later on, only at the expense of a Bolton throw-in.

With Bolton only really having opportunities through backpasses to Schmeichel (one hitting a Bolton player before flying out for a throw in), it came as no surprise that City should take the lead. A corner from the left (presumably taken by Berkovic) was flicked on at the near post by Horlock and Howey stooped low to divert the ball into the net from about 3 yards out. Howey was obviously delighted at scoring, though not quite as pleased as Schmeichel who rushed arms outstretched to embrace the whole of the Platt Lane Stand.

With the lead City continued to press, with Anelka and Goater working well and Berkovic at his best. A lofted cross by Anelka to the far post saw Goater unable to convert a header, whilst Goater’s great through ball saw Anelka just caught offside. From another Berkovic corner Foe/Distin (was the far end of the field so couldn’t see) brought another quality save out of Jussi.

Jeff Winter decided he fancied a warming brew and half-time saw City lead 1-0. Not sure who carried out the half-time draw, but at least the Bolton fans were cheered by their representatives winning the shoot-out 3-2. The major problem here is that unless you are in the Kippax, you might as well hold it at Carrington as you can’t really see much. At least it was good to see that the youngsters had been provided with plastic ponchos as well.

The second-half saw Distin emerge ages before everyone else along with the physio (can’t be ar*ed looking up who he’s called… think it begins with a R) [Rob Harris! – Ed]; anyway, after a few stretches, shuttle runs and applause to the faithful he slotted back in at centre-half. Distin then shone as an example of a Keegan player, by making countless runs into the Bolton box. One of these runs saw him earning a free-kick that Berkovic rolled to Anelka who manage to double up a Bolton defender; we were behind the goal so I only hope for his sake he was just winded!

It was Anelka who was to become the provider, when he took on the Bolton defence once again, with Berkovic and Goater in support, Anelka rolled the ball to his right, where Berkovic took it inside the box and lifted it beyond Jussi into the back of the net. Cue wild scenes of joy and Berkovic dancing in front of the Platt Lane Stand.

At 2-0 City relaxed and Bolton began to get a stranglehold on the match. Big Sam made 3 substitutions, but to little effect, with Dunne in particular being quite majestic, clearing balls knocked up to the Bolton strikers. Bolton’s only real chance had come from Djorkaeff, who tried a Mackenesque shot from near the half-way line, but fortunately it was an easy save for Schmeichel. With time ticking away Bolton created their only real clear cut chance as the Bolton striker saw his shot expertly saved by Schmeichel, before the big Dane threw up a right hand to clutch the ball it his chest from a rebounded shot.

Keegan threw on Benarbia for Goater, but Ali never really got into the game and it was Sun who had the last best effort but managed to screw his shot well wide, with Anelka and Berkovic much better placed. 2-0, 3 points and a 6 point gap on the bottom three, let’s hope we can start a new run with Sunderland a week today.

CTID, James Walsh (


So there is some justice after all… against Liverpool and Chelsea we played well and lost but against Bolton (at least in the first half) our performance was ok but we won!

Or is it just that we scored first – looking back, each time we’ve taken the lead, we’ve gone on to win, but we’ve never come back from behind… perhaps Keegan should play 2-3-5 – at least ’til we score!

Also – Saturday’s Telegraph’s predictions are usually a good indication of which way the result will go – usually against what they predict. They’ve only had the odd correct prediction in the last few weeks (Boro’). Like everyone else, they had us losing the derby and beating Charlton!

One last point – was it just me, or was there a better atmosphere on Saturday (although not quite to derby match levels)? Maybe it was just perception due to having a seat in the North stand, close to the away fans – let’s just hope our 4 year old doesn’t repeat the songs at school!

Andy + Sarah Longshaw (


Let’s find out who exactly is to blame for the ridiculous claims that KK is about to resign. If they are found out they should face a lifetime ban from MCFC and should never be given any interviews or press releases ever again! They must be Rags’ fans trying to upset the applecart.

Let’s name and shame them… or publish their e-mail address.

Rob Fielding (


A little spot of myth debunking. I had always been under the impression that Luton Town’s failure to beat us at Kenilworth Road in the last game of the 74/75 season (the game ended 1-1) had seen them relegated, and thus stoked the fire of revenge in 1983. However, I have just bought a newspaper cutting (yes, I’m sad: what’s your vice?) with the Evening Post’s match report. Luton would only be relegated if Tottenham lost at home to Leeds the following Monday, which they obviously did and down went the happy Hatters, to return seven years later to b***er up our eighties. Thought I’d share that.

David Butler (


I have got 2 tickets for the match against Sunderland and am unable to attend. If anyone would like to buy them then please email me.

I am obviously selling them at face value and would rather sell as a pair preferably.

Andrew Keller (


I have one spare ticket for the Charlton away game on 14 Dec. First email secures.

I will be away from 4-8 Dec so will not respond to email until Mon 9 Dec. I am in London and will arrange to hand over the ticket in the West End.

Mike Carver (


Many thanks to John (and his wife) for her ticket to the match for Bolton, and to all at and involved with MCIVTA for such an excellent service and facilitating my first match at City this season (hope it’s a good one too – writing this as of 29-11). [Can you come along more often then! – Ed]

I would like to push my luck and try for Charlton next ;O and if anyone either has an extra ticket for sale or is making plans to travel down there and can get an extra one for me, I can either join in or meet up in the capital with you. Kindly contact me via email in the first instance – thank you!

Simon – USA & Turkey based ex-season ticket holder (


Family commitments on Boxing Day place me in Lytham St Annes after the match. Are there any Blues based there that might be prepared to give me a lift after the Villa game? Please drop me a line.

Jonathan Haggart (


Did the request the other week for a Wigan programme come up trumps? If not, I’ve got one that I’m happy to part with. Forgot to mail the person at the time.

Jonathan Haggart (


I will be in San Diego for the next couple of weeks and am looking for a bar that will be showing the Sunderland match. I believe the game is on pay per view.

Thanks, Janet Entwistle (


I am interested in tapes 1989: 5-1, 2002: 3-1, any original tapes with this beautiful Kippax atmosphere, it may be from the pub or away visit, maybe tape with songs?! I have got one file with Bluemoon from Sven (esteem!); unfortunately I cannot open it.

Regards from Poland, keep winning – Peter Rodziewicz (


Can someone please send me the words for the “We’re not really here…” song, as I can never make out exactly what the last verse is?

Thanks, Steve Cummings (


I’m after match programmes from this season; obviously everyone and his dog will probably be doing the same but I thought I would give it a try. I’m looking for the programmes from the games against Newcastle, Blackburn and Liverpool. I am willing to pay face value and postage.

Andy Wright (


The next meeting of the Warrington OSC takes place on Thursday 5th of December 8.30pm at the King and Queen in Padgate. Tony Book has been invited along to attend. All Blues welcome. I would like to thank all those members who attended our recent Race Night; a fantastic night and we raised plenty of cash.

Nick Morley (


Recent results from 25 November 2002 to 1 December 2002 inclusive.

1 December 2002

Liverpool             1 - 2  Manchester United     44,250
Newcastle United      2 - 1  Everton               51,607
Leeds United          1 - 2  Charlton Athletic     35,537

30 November 2002

Arsenal               3 - 1  Aston Villa           38,090
Birmingham City       1 - 1  Tottenham Hotspur     29,505
Blackburn Rovers      2 - 1  Fulham                21,096
Chelsea               3 - 0  Sunderland            38,946
Manchester City       2 - 0  Bolton Wanderers      34,860
West Bromwich Albion  1 - 0  Middlesbrough         27,029

League table to 1 December 2002 inclusive.

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD Pts
 1 Arsenal         16  8  0  1 22  8  3  2  2 14  9 11  2  3  36  17  19  35
 2 Liverpool       16  5  3  1 15  7  4  1  2 12  8  9  4  3  27  15  12  31
 3 Chelsea         16  5  2  1 17  6  3  4  1 11  7  8  6  2  28  13  15  30
 4 Manchester Utd  16  6  1  1 14  6  2  4  2 11 11  8  5  3  25  17   8  29
 5 Everton         16  5  2  0 11  5  4  0  5  8 12  9  2  5  19  17   2  29
 6 Newcastle Utd   15  7  0  1 16  6  1  1  5  9 17  8  1  6  25  23   2  25
 7 Middlesbrough   16  6  2  0 15  5  1  1  6  4  8  7  3  6  19  13   6  24
 8 Tottenham H.    16  5  1  1 11  7  2  2  5  9 15  7  3  6  20  22  -2  24
 9 Blackburn R.    16  3  3  3 13 11  3  2  2  9  8  6  5  5  22  19   3  23
10 Southampton     15  4  4  0 12  6  1  1  5  5 11  5  5  5  17  17   0  20
11 Birmingham City 16  3  2  3  9  8  2  3  3  7 11  5  5  6  16  19  -3  20
12 Charlton Ath.   16  2  1  4  8 12  4  1  4  8  8  6  2  8  16  20  -4  20
13 Manchester City 16  4  1  3 11 11  2  1  5  6 12  6  2  8  17  23  -6  20
14 Fulham          16  4  2  2 12  8  1  2  5  9 14  5  4  7  21  22  -1  19
15 Aston Villa     16  5  1  2 13  6  0  3  5  2 10  5  4  7  15  16  -1  19
16 Leeds United    16  2  0  6  8 13  3  2  3 12 11  5  2  9  20  24  -4  17
17 West Brom A.    16  3  2  3  6  8  1  1  6  5 14  4  3  9  11  22 -11  15
18 Sunderland      16  2  1  4  4  7  1  4  4  4 13  3  5  8   8  20 -12  14
19 Bolton Wndrs    15  1  4  2  8  9  2  0  6  9 18  3  4  8  17  27 -10  13
20 West Ham United 15  0  3  5  7 13  3  0  4  8 15  3  3  9  15  28 -13  12

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #869