Newsletter #876

Two games, 4 goals and 6 points from our Christmas performances. A convincing 3-1 win over Villa on Boxing Day (made the 7 hour round-trip worth it) followed up by a 0-1 victory over KK’s former employers on Saturday with a delightful goal by Anelka.

We’re now happily settled in 9th position (or as King Kev said “turn it upside down and we’re 6th”) and can look forward to Wednesday’s visit to Goodison.

Tonight we have match report on Fulham thanks to Piers and opinion on strips, squad, stats and sulks.

A very Happy New Year and the best of everything to all you Blues out there.

Next game: Everton, away, 3pm Monday 1 January 2003


Deserted streets around Shepherd’s Bush so we got to Loftus Road just after two, plenty of time for a School End hot dog (far better than the Valley version in a fresh crusty baguette though “hot” was toying with the Trades Descriptions Act). Tried to guess our team from watching the squad warming up – my guess was both Eyal and Ali would play, the Goat would be left out and we’d just have Anelka up front. Nearly right, but was surprised to hear Huckerby was starting. We seemed to be playing a kind of 4-1-3-2 with Jensen and Dunne as full backs, Horlock as the holding midfielder with Foe, Ali and Eyal roaming about in a fluid kind of way.

For fifteen minutes or so it kind of worked with some neat passing going on (Jensen in particular playing some cute angles) and Fulham offering nothing in return. We won a succession of corners but wasted most of them trying different short-corner routines which fizzled out. Huckerby was soon illustrating why he hadn’t started many games recently by either being offside or running head-down into defenders when there were easy passes either side of him.

Suddenly Fulham seemed to grasp that our midfield had no shape and began to carve it up. Schmeichel had to make one smart save and then half stopped another shot. From the top tier it’s impossible to see the goal beneath you so there were a couple of agonising seconds as the ball vanished from view with Dunney thundering along behind it. The ball suddenly reappeared heading for Ravenscourt Park and the roars of relief from the better-placed City fans reassured us that Richard had reached it in time. Soon Berkovic was replaced by Sun Jihai – it would have been a sensible tactical switch though it appears Eyal was injured. In any case City settled into their more familiar 3-5-2 and looked more comfortable for it. Anelka had a chance smothered by Taylor and after a typical piece of wizardry when he shrugged off tackles by three or four defenders he was brought down on the edge of the box. Horlock’s free kick beat the wall, Taylor clawed it out and after a scramble when it seemed any touch would put the ball in the net, a defender managed to head it behind.

The second half started in similar fashion – fairly even, both sides making mistakes on a heavy pitch. Fulham had one period of pressure when they looked threatening, Schmeichel making a couple of fine saves and two other shots being cleared off the line, but soon City were back at our end winning several corners. Huckerby had one great chance when a defender stood on the ball allowing him to break clear, take the ball round Taylor and then screw a hasty left-foot shot wildly into the crowd when he had all the time in the world to control it and pull it back for Anelka. SWP replaced Darren shortly after that and Huck must surely know he’s wasted his chance to claim a regular place.

Ten minutes from time City finally did it. A cross from right beneath us was missed by everybody, leaving Anelka with the simplest of headers right in front of goal and five yards out. We were all up in the air and I did severe damage to both shins as I crashed into the back of the seat in front. But for some reason Mr Durkin was pointing to the six-yard box. Offside? A push? No, it seemed that somehow Nic had missed. No matter, a few minutes later Ali set SWP free on a run down the middle. Shaun did what Huckerby had singularly failed to do all game, drawing defenders to him before releasing the unmarked Anelka on the left-hand side of the area. We saw the shot beat Taylor’s left hand and waited for the reaction. Rufus Brevett clutched his head in anguish – YES! A slightly more circumspect celebration as the blood trickled into my shoes.

Just five minutes to survive and for once City did it with virtually no alarms. Only a very dodgy looking offside flag stopped Anelka breaking free again, Wiekens had a couple of minutes in place of an exhausted Ali and then it was over – a Premiership win in London. We reckoned 1994 might have been the last but a lot has happened since then so we could well be wrong.

If the Fulham supporters were downcast by their team’s further slide towards relegation and the uncertainty over the future of Craven Cottage, the sympathy and sensitivity of the City fans will have cheered them up no end. Songs such as “Where’s Your Cottage Gone?” and “Two Grounds, We’ve Only Got Two Grounds” will have sent them home with a warm glow and a happy smile.

Piers Pennington (


This was City at their most frustrating – 70% of the possession – Spurs hardly touched the ball for the first 20 minutes but the final touch always going astray. Then decide not to defend a corner and Spurs are back level, then decide not to contest a loose ball in midfield and Robbie Keane, who always seems to punish City, puts a great cross in – 1-2 down, a “Len Shackleton” header by Poyet from another corner 1-3 – game over. Only bright spot was Benarbia, who is starting to show signs of last season’s form and scored the best goal of the game, in injury time. You can’t really say City played badly overall but the game is won by the team that scores the most goals and if you give three away and miss lots of chances then you will lose.

My usual comments on the ref – Jeff Winter is in my view one of the better referees – but Freund should have got a second yellow for the free kick that gave City the first goal – equally Tiatto should have got a second yellow for leading with his forearm but there was an hour and three goals between the two incidents. No sympathy for Ziege as Spurs – including the bench – ‘slyly’ wasted time for the last 1/2 hour and he was not quite sly enough on two occasions. Decision not to give us a penalty was arguable but I’d have been disappointed if it had been given against City so probably OK.

So – it’s a hard life in the Premiership and it’s no good playing the better football and losing to (Keegan’s phrase) a more street-wise team. On the other hand it wouldn’t be City if we knew what was coming next would it! Roll on Villa.

Dave Lewis (


Just been to the Fulham game and had the ‘pleasure’ of a corporate ticket just by the tunnel on the halfway line.

At the end when the rest of the City players were giving the fans a clap, Anelka had to be persuaded by King Kev to do the same, which he did really half-heartedly for about 10 seconds before walking off in a huff.

He had got top support from the away end throughout the game, so I thought this was a bit off.

Perhaps he still had the hump about the offside decision which had gone against him a few minutes before (a really bad one)?

Tom Ransom (


The last time we were promoted to the top league as champions was in 1966. Our first 21 games in the old First Division the following season produced the following sequence:

P21 W7 D5 L9 F23 A32 PTS19 (equal to 26 with three points for a win), including two 4-1 home defeats and a 4-1 away defeat.

The current season is similar:

P21 W9 D3 L9 F28 A29 PTS30, including two 3-0 home defeats and a 3-0 away defeat.

Joe Mercer did not panic-buy and made only one major signing after Christmas (Tony Coleman). He just tightened up and in the second half of the season, only 20 goals were conceded and City finished 15th (out of 22). Only one more big signing was necessary (Francis Lee) the following season for City to win the Championship.

Keegan has the players to put City in the top half of the table this season and, like Mercer, does not need to panic-buy.

Six of our remaining eight away games this season are against teams currently above us so our “top-six finish” depends on how many points we can manage to get from these games. Seven of the remaining nine home games are against teams currently below us!

Happy New Year to all Blues.

CTID, Martin Rayner, Melbourne (


We should have won, no we were not robbed, we just did not strike at goal when we should have, the defence fell asleep when they should have been awake. City played some of the best football, great stuff, but what is wrong? I let the experts answer this one, for they must see the mistakes.

In the meantime all the very best to all City fans across the world during the festive season. And a big thank you to Heidi and all the staff who put this great newsletter out twice a week – thank you.

Here’s wishing every City fan a happy Blue new year.

Ernie Barrow (


With the talk of wanting new players to strengthen the side, I think like everyone else that’s a fair comment, and certain areas of the team have warranted that. But now that Macken is back in training it will be interesting to see when fully fit if he can be good enough to be in the side up front; at least he has the chance to go ahead and try and prove himself. Whilst Wanchope we might as well say has missed the season.

Leeds have a young player Milner, Everton have Rooney, whilst we do have some up and coming players, and we must give credit to the manager and coaching staff for not maybe rushing a player. A player for City I am keen to see come through is Lee Croft, how soon before we see him I wonder?

It’s only a matter of days when the window on transfers is lifted and more rumours will be buzzing. We shall all only know the truth when pen has been put to paper; we wait patiently.

Going into the new year, we go into it with a lot more confidence then what we had a couple of months ago, the most improved player without doubt Foe.

Today was a wonderful day! City win 3-1 and the Rags lose 3 -1 Yippppeee!

Ernie Barrow (


As someone with a great interest, knowledge (I like to think) and collection of City shirts (both replica and players’ shirts) I read with interest the current debate about this season’s strips. It seems to me that MCFC are in a no win situation. First Advice became the new shirt sponsors which meant that the home shirt had to be changed. The new white with sash away shirt to replace the silver shirt was also brought out and the club actually needed a third strip too (FA/Premier League regulations I believe). To have brought out 3 strips for just one season would, to the outside world, reek of profiteering and MCFC would be castigated as MUFC usually are for doing the same thing.

Instead the club brought out a limited edition of the third shirt which, like the other two strips made by LCS, are identical to the players’ shirts apart from the larger felt type names, numbers and Premiership sleeve badges. You can see the reasoning behind the limited edition. £40 each for the other two shirts and another shirt on top of that would seem to be gilding the lily somewhat, but what happens? There’s complaints when they don’t make enough!

So what’s the answer? Well market research I’d say. As a regular season ticket holder for quite a long time now I have never had a questionnaire about strips. I’ve never been asked if City brought three out for one season would I buy all three? I’ve never been shown 5 designs of shirt and asked for my preference as other clubs’ fans have. I’ve also never been asked to submit a design for a new strip as sometimes there is in the form of a competition.

However, now that Reebok will be taking over next season and it looks like we’re reverting to the paler blue and (I am told in confidence) red and black stripes as the away strip, I’m sure that if people contact the club with their opinions in a constructive manner the club will take notice, although I’m pretty sure that next season’s strips will be pretty much in the can (as they say in film-making).

A new stadium, a new kit supplier and a new view on strip marketing will be just the ticket for next season.

By the way, they’re not making any more shirts of any type now, so if you want any of the three you’ll have to hurry. I’m also told (last night 23/12) that the few large size maroon strips that were in the shop as late as 13th December were returns and not an increased supply and that there are no more, unless any get returned.

One good thing about Reebok is that they tend to make long sleeved shirts too, which will be nice.

If anyone has any queries about City shirts past and present, don’t hesitate to email me.

Lance Thomson (


Good to see in the match programme notes by Kevin Keegan on St. Stephen’s Day (not Boxing Day, I’m Irish!) that we will have sky blue shirts again next season… I have boycotted the laser blue ones and have a few hideous away jerseys for my efforts!

Joe O’Doherty (


Well, guess what Santa brought me for Christmas… yup, the Blue Moon CD. My wife, an extremely talented gift buyer, knows her way around Man City merchandise much better than I do, even though she’s never lived outside the football-impaired** US (hey, it’s about shopping after all – it’s a woman thing).

So anyway, there’s this photo of the City squad on the front, and I need help figuring out who’s who. I became a Blue in 1968, and it looks like a pre-1968 photo to me. I recognize some of the players, but many I don’t. At first I thought the photo was a doctored composite because it looks like there are anachronisms – like there’s Willie Donachie and Tommy Booth, but where are Alan Oakes and Glynn Pardoe? But on checking the Maine Road Encyclopedia it seems like the timings may be okay.

Anyway, here are my player (and manager) identifications (and guesses). It would be great to be able to fill in the rest of the names (and get corrections for the ones I got wrong). For the benefit of you Blues who don’t have this CD, I’ve done a bit of freelance copyright infringement (or is it Fair Use? Yeah, I reckon it is) on the photo at

Here goes:
Back row, L-R: Mike Doyle, Tommy Booth, Joe Mercer, ANO_1, ANO_2, Joe Corrigan, Malcolm Allison, ANO_3, Willie Donachie.
Front row, L-R: Colin Bell, ANO_4, ANO_5, Tony Book, Francis Lee, ANO_6, Mike Summerbee.

** with apologies to Kasey Keller, Brad Friedel, Claudio Reyna, and any others I may have forgotten.

Bill Pennsylvania-Blue Buffam (


I thought that “Anon” Christmas message was wonderful, especially PRIOR to Christmas when the BISHOP will be conducting midnight mass. I just hope my partner makes a nice Christmas dinner which will be just WRIGHT. No doubt we’ll be KILLEN each other for the best bits of Turkey, or whatever BIRD is COOKEd. WEAH all thinking of those not as fortunate as ourselves though. Not all of us can go on a TOURE of Europe at Christmas, especially in a Rolls ROYCE, or even a JENSEN. It’s so frustrating it drives me BENARBIAs (ok so that one was forced!).

Anyway Merry Kakhabar Tskadadze and Shelia New Year all at McVittee and to all the readers.

Lance Thomson (


I have 2 tickets available for the match at Newcastle. I would rather sell as a pair but would consider individual sales. The tickets are £27 each.

Any needy parties drop me a line.

Andrew Keller ( or


I have 2 tickets for the game against Leeds. They are 2 tickets together in the Main Stand and are available at face value. I can’t attend the game (hence the reason for sale) so will have to post the tickets on to you. Contact me on the email address below if you are interested.

John Wilson (


I will be going out to New Zealand in February, and I am trying to contact any Blues out there before my trip. If anyone knows any friendly faces, or places, please contact me direct.

Mike Comos (


It’s a shame that so many people are against Wimbledon moving to Milton Keynes, thereby opening the door to franchising and relocation as surely Manchester United could then relocate to London, where all their fans are.


Recent results from 23 December 2002 to 29 December 2002 inclusive.

29 December 2002

Newcastle United      2 - 1  Tottenham Hotspur     52,145
Arsenal               1 - 1  Liverpool             38,074

28 December 2002

Aston Villa           1 - 0  Middlesbrough         33,637
Blackburn Rovers      2 - 2  West Ham United       24,998
Charlton Athletic     1 - 0  West Bromwich Albion  26,196
Everton               0 - 0  Bolton Wanderers      39,480
Fulham                0 - 1  Manchester City       17,937
Leeds United          2 - 0  Chelsea               40,122
Manchester United     2 - 0  Birmingham City       67,640
Southampton           2 - 1  Sunderland            31,423

26 December 2002

Chelsea               0 - 0  Southampton           39,428
Tottenham Hotspur     2 - 2  Charlton Athletic     36,043
West Ham United       1 - 1  Fulham                35,025
Bolton Wanderers      4 - 3  Newcastle United      27,314
West Bromwich Albion  1 - 2  Arsenal               27,025
Birmingham City       1 - 1  Everton               29,505
Liverpool             1 - 1  Blackburn Rovers      43,075
Manchester City       3 - 1  Aston Villa           33,991
Sunderland            1 - 2  Leeds United          44,029
Middlesbrough         3 - 1  Manchester United     34,673

23 December 2002

Manchester City       2 - 3  Tottenham Hotspur     34,563

League table to 29 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         21  9  1  1 25  9  4  3  3 17 13 13  4  4  42  22  20  43
 2 Chelsea         21  6  3  1 19  6  4  5  2 15 11 10  8  3  34  17  17  38
 3 Manchester Utd  21  9  1  1 21  6  2  4  4 12 15 11  5  5  33  21  12  38
 4 Newcastle Utd   20  9  0  1 20  7  2  2  6 14 22 11  2  7  34  29   5  35
 5 Everton         21  6  3  1 14  9  4  2  5  9 13 10  5  6  23  22   1  35
 6 Liverpool       21  5  5  1 16  8  4  2  4 14 13  9  7  5  30  21   9  34
 7 Southampton     21  6  5  0 17  8  2  3  5  7 12  8  8  5  24  20   4  32
 8 Tottenham H.    21  6  3  1 17 11  3  2  6 13 19  9  5  7  30  30   0  32
 9 Manchester City 21  5  1  4 16 15  4  2  5 12 14  9  3  9  28  29  -1  30
10 Middlesbrough   21  7  4  0 21  9  1  1  8  4 11  8  5  8  25  20   5  29
11 Blackburn R.    21  4  4  3 16 13  3  4  3 12 12  7  8  6  28  25   3  29
12 Charlton Ath.   21  4  2  4 13 14  4  3  4 11 11  8  5  8  24  25  -1  29
13 Leeds United    21  3  1  6 11 14  5  2  4 17 13  8  3 10  28  27   1  27
14 Aston Villa     21  7  1  3 16  8  0  3  7  3 15  7  4 10  19  23  -4  25
15 Birmingham City 21  3  4  3 11 10  3  3  5  8 15  6  7  8  19  25  -6  25
16 Fulham          21  5  2  4 13 10  1  3  6 10 17  6  5 10  23  27  -4  23
17 Bolton Wndrs    20  2  5  3 13 16  2  2  6 10 19  4  7  9  23  35 -12  19
18 Sunderland      21  3  1  6  7 13  1  5  5  7 17  4  6 11  14  30 -16  18
19 West Brom A.    21  3  3  4  9 12  1  1  9  7 20  4  4 13  16  32 -16  16
20 West Ham United 21  0  5  6  9 16  3  2  5 12 22  3  7 11  21  38 -17  16

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #876