Newsletter #906

A lacklustre performance on Saturday saw a dismal 0-0 draw against Boro, but we did gain 1 point to make 5 out of a possible 24 in our last 7 games. The game never got going, but the crowd did when supersubs Goater and Macken were brought on after an hour and we looked like finally breaking the deadlock. Highlight of the game was the home début of Joey Barton, who put in a determined performance and was duly awarded MotM.

The other main news of the weekend was Schmeichel’s decision to hang up his boots, and gloves, at the end of the current season.

Tonight we have match reports on the weekend’s action and the reserves, comment on the weekend, form guide and a neat Why Blue.

Due to work commitments I am unable to make issue 907, but Gareth Foster has kindly agreed to step in so keep your articles coming to the usual address.

Next game: Tottenham Hotspur, away, 3pm Friday 18 April 2003 (PPV)
Countdown: 27 days


I was sat outside the Forresters sunning myself in the early morning rays when my peaceful rest was broken by Andy’s car pulling into the car park. From that point onwards, unbeknown to me, Saturday had already reached its zenith. Arriving in Manchester, we rendezvoused with my brother at the Parkside and spent pre-match time sipping beer, listening to various mutterings of ‘it’s six’, and wondering if the 4/5 members of the GMP had paid their dues to the ‘handicapped kids’ before entering the pub.

We arrived at the ground to find that City lined up Schmeichel, Jensen, Distin, Sommeil, Dunne, SWeeP, Foe, Barton, Berkovic, Fowler, Anelka. With City kicking off from Platt Lane to North, we anticipated an enjoyable afternoon.

Middlesbrough were quickly at us from kick off and nearly took the lead when Job managed to find the side netting after Christie had played him into a shooting position down the left hand side of the box. Anelka then managed to get wide left and pulled the ball across the box for a waiting Foe to slice wide for a goal kick. Please can someone explain what KK sees in Foe; in the match programme KK said we weren’t going to sign him (presumably at his current price tag) so what’s the point continuing to play him? Surely Horlock/Flood/Wiekens would be a better option alongside Barton? I don’t care if we sign McManaman, James, Reizeger or Murphy (some young striker we’ve been linked with at Peterborough) so long as KK puts some money into the hunt for a decent ball winning midfielder.

It was about this point in the match (i.e. early first half) that it dawned on me we were playing with a flat back 4, but the midfield 4 seemed a little lopsided, with SWeeP playing on the left and Berkovic in front of Barton and Foe in a kind of 4-3-1-2 formation. With no real width and the passing degenerating into passes to the opposition, the game dragged on for most of the first half.

At this point I would like to talk about the Middlesbrough fans. I work with a couple of Middlesbrough fans, and having met a few more when we’ve played at the Riverside, I’ve always found them to likeable people. I know pre-match there had been rumours of trouble brewing and certainly I was searched twice before entering the Riverside in November, but those who travelled to Maine Road hardly helped their reputations by singing about Uni*ed! I can understand winding up opposition fans, but get behind your team first!

The only other Middlesbrough chance of the half came as Sommeil’s under-hit pass back gave Christie a chance, but big Peter raced out of his box to slam a clearance against Christie and watched it bounce wide for a goal kick.

City’s only real chance of the game saw Anelka winning a free kick on the edge of the box which Mystic Mr Blackpool predicted would fly over the bar for a goal kick. Anelka took the free kick and it flew over… wonder who Mr Blackpool picked for the Grand National? The boos that sounded at half time were as half-hearted as the performance on the pitch.

Half time saw Benarbia warming up and City turning the penalty shoot out against Moonchester and Moonbeam into a cruel crossbreeding of the shoot out and kick for cash. Asking an adult to kick the ball through a tyre hung from the crossbar was a worthy challenge for 200 quid, but asking a 6-year-old kid to do it was a little cruel. Needless to say closest to the middle of the tyre won, so one lucky City fan won a round of applause from the City crowd, and something along the lines of a McDonald’s Happy Meal, or a picture of them with Moonchester (wasn’t paying attention when the said what they would win).

The second half saw the shock inclusion of Benarbia for the clearly not fit Berkovic. City did manage to create an effort on target as Anelka’s low shot was easily saved by Schwarzer, much to the delight of the fans who’d at last seen a City shot on target.

Job then created Middlesbrough’s best effort as he crossed for Juninho; in tangling with Schmeichel the ball dropped loose near the goal line, but SweeP managed to slam the ball clear and avert the danger. Middlesbrough too won a free kick as Foe managed to commit another foul (Foe’s only real contribution is his high placing in the Opta stats table for fouls), but Juninho curled it harmlessly wide.

With the second half being as exciting as the inside of a ping-pong ball, KK brought some life into proceedings by taking off Fowler and… wait for it… Anelka! The decision was greeted with great cheers, with Anelka applauding the fans, who were actually thanking KK for taking him off. Macken and Goater came on and suddenly the whole place was lifted. Benarbia became controlled in his passing, Macken held the ball up well and Barton began to control midfield.

It was noticeable that Macken was looking to impress and his movement was twice that of the our supposedly star strike force. Jensen crossed a good ball from the left and super Jonny was unlucky to see his shot hit a defender before rolling into Schwarzer’s arms. He was caught offside a few minutes later after Benarbia had played him in, just as well as his resulting shot was already well into the Platt Lane Stand.

Despite the improvement in effort, the game ended 0-0, though the performance of Barton was easily a high point in an otherwise forgettable game. I wasn’t at Bolton or Chelsea, but the fact that we looked solid at the back, Barton’s MotM award, Macken and Goater coming on for Fowler and Anelka, a clean sheet, Benarbia’s improved performance, Middlesbrough are an in-form team, all must be plus points but the words ‘straws’, ‘at’ and ‘clutching’ come to mind. Next season can’t come quick enough!

CTID, James Walsh (


My two lovely boys bought me an away shirt for my birthday with ‘I’m not really here’ on the back (probably because I’d gone on and on about not wanting to reach ‘That’ birthday). Well, I wore it on Saturday and for the first hour or so wished it were true except for a few odd moments – particularly when Joey Barton had the ball. How encouraging to a see a City youngster doing so well – passing the ball – to a player in a Blue shirt for example. Joey concentrated on getting the simple things right and as such won the player of the match award and praise from Keegan (now let’s just hope he doesn’t drop him!).

Wright Philips ran his socks off (as always) but looked decidedly out of place on the left hand side, Foe again seemed to have difficulty in remembering to shoot at the target (rather than wildly over or to the side of) and I think Robbie Fowler must be trying to adopt the rôle of ‘the invisible man’ of whom we are fans, as he most certainly was for most of the first half.

Things did improve when Ali was brought on for the second half (in the place of Berkovic who simply didn’t look back to full fitness) and then again with 20 minutes to go when Goater and Macken came on to a rapturous welcome (Fowler seemed to sprint for the bench, the fastest he’d moved all afternoon!).

Only then did City look like actually getting something from what in truth was a very lacklustre game. With Fowler and Anelka up front, the ball seemed to bounce back quickly, but Macken in particular managed to hold the ball up near Boro’s penalty area, allowing the rest of the team the time to get up and support him.

Jensen seemed to have swapped his ability to pass (to a blue shirt) for that to tackle (a red one) while Distin was a good choice for Captain, leading by example – trying to do everything and be everywhere. Dunne and Greening’s on-going disagreement provided an opportunity for ribaldry and suggestion for Kippax fans, while the Boro fans at times seemed confused in whom they were supported. Admittedly United and Boro both play in red, and McLaren used to be assistant manager at the ‘Swamp’ – but the chants of ‘United’ seemed a little out of place, particularly when we remember the 9th of November! And to the four fans wandering round before the match, chanting ‘S**t ground, no fans’ can I point out that our average attendance is actually 4,000 more than theirs (unless of course they were the United fans!). I also hope they make it back next season to Eastlands as I’d like to hear them singing then!

Here’s hoping our last Monday and Sunday games at Maine Road are somewhat more inspired – (if we ever get tickets for May 11th that is).

Sarah Longshaw (


City Let the Whites Surrender their Title Push

An experienced and attacking City side lined up against a youthful Leeds side that was originally to contain a recuperating David Batty, but he failed to make the squad that travelled across the Pennines. With City fielding such a forward playing team, it was bound to be an exciting game. And so it proved, with City coming from behind on three occasions from three mistakes. Goals from a recently much-improved Matias Vuoso, Shaun Goater and £5 million misfit Jon Macken gave the Blues a much deserved point, but almost ended all hopes of winning the title.

Neither side were able to create any real openings in the first few minutes of play on this sunny April evening. It was, however, City that made the first real chance when Matias Vuoso flicked on well to find Jon Macken, but his centre or shot was poor and Danny Milosevic in goal was easily able to deal with the effort. Then came the first of Kevin Ellegaard’s many mistakes, when a poor clearance went straight to the young Australian attacking midfielder, Jamie McMaster, but luckily his shot couldn’t beat Kevin. Milosevic must have been on the same juice as Kevin as he made a hash of an Ali Benarbia cross and Vuoso was able to shoot at goal, but Australian defender Jacob Burns was on the line to clear the ball. As the half drew to a close, after good build up play, a string of one touch passing led to Steve Howey putting in a good cross from the right for Shaun Goater to head towards goal, but unluckily he couldn’t quite keep it on target and it hit the side netting. The half ended with Ali B sending a good volley towards goal after the ball came back from a long-range free kick, but it was unable to beat the ‘keeper.

We had barely had a chance to sit down for the second half when Sun Jihai was too casual in the centre of the field and gave possession to Paul Keegan; no relation to the onlooking Kevin, and he passed to young strike prodigy, James Milner who ran to the right of the goal and put the ball through Ellegaard’s legs and into the net. Five minutes later Ellegaard made another blunder when he came for a ball that he was never going to get to and it was put past him, but Chris Shuker was just able to get back to clear it off the line. Then a couple of minutes later, Ali found Jon Macken on the right, and he was able to turn and shoot, and Milosevic did well to save, but was unable to hold it and Vuoso ran in for the rebound to score the equalizer.

As the halfway point of the half drew near, yet more casual play from Sun Jihai led to possession going to Harpal Singh and he found Leeds’ high scorer, Simon Johnson, and he coolly slotted the ball into the corner of the net. A minute later saw Jon Macken turn and shoot, but again the effort was cleared. That led to a corner which Stephen Paisley headed towards goal and the ‘keeper made a fantastic save to tip over the bar; the referee thought otherwise bizarrely as he gave the goal kick, when it was so obviously a corner.

On sixty eight minutes City were able to draw level when great work down the left by Vuoso sent Ali free and he sent a cross in for Goater to head home. City were going forward in numbers now, but not managing to break down the Leeds defence. Then on seventy six minutes Steve Howey had another Arsenal moment when he just watched a Frazer Richardson cross go by him and left Singh overlapping Chris Shuker at the far post to score with a fine strike past Ellegaard. Two minutes later we were level again. Sun, half making up for his earlier errors, won the ball in midfield and sent a firm pass to Jon Macken who turned and shot and the ball fizzed under the body of Milosevic. City replaced Howey with young Danny Warrender in the dying minutes in search of the winner, but it never came.

City now have to rely on other teams slipping up more than once if they are to still challenge for the title. With such an attacking line up and Sun Jihai being the notorious headless chicken in midfield at times, our defence was not able to atone for these openings created and so cost us two points. The many plusses from the game were Vuoso starting to show us a run of form, Goater showing that he could be bothered to play and the spirit of the team, which the first team sadly lack, to come back, on three occasions.

Ellegaard: Oh dear, that’s all I can say! 5
Sun: Is this guy really a footballer, I have to wonder at times? 5
Paisley: His play reflects why his contract is not being renewed. 6
Bischoff (capt): The pick of the bunch at the back – which was not hard! 8
Howey (86): Let’s hope an onlooking McCarthy has enough £££ to take him! 6
Jordan: Steady Eddy at the back and got forward quite well. 7
Vuoso: Maybe our £3.5 million purchase of our young Argy isn’t so bad. MoM. 9
Benarbia: Played his part, but doesn’t have the work rate – even at this level. 7
Macken: Got better as the game wore on. Needs to link up better though. 8
Goater: Looked really sharp and ran Vuoso very close for MoM. 9
Shuker: Tormented the Leeds defence a lot, but couldn’t deliver a killer ball. 8
Warrender (86): No time to impress – So no mark.

Not Used:
Murphy, Gilder, Browne, Orr.

Leeds United:
Milosevic, Richardson, Burns, Keegan, Cansdell-Sherriff, Kilgallon, Milner, McMaster, Johnson, McPhail, Singh.

Not Used:
Carson, Farren, Winter, McStay, Cronin.

Goals: Milner (48), Vuoso (55), Johnson (63), Goater (68), Singh (76), Macken (78).

Att: 537.

Gavin Cooper (


Nothing happened in the first half. In the second half, Macken and Goater came on, and it looked as if something might happen, but it didn’t. Joey Barton played well. Erm, I think that’s it.

P.S. In the eight league matches before Fowler: Goals for 16, against 10, points 14, world-class chairmen 1. In the eight since: goals for 4, against 16, points 5, world-class chairmen 0. Had we kept our previous form, we’d be seventh, facing a run-in of mid-table and already-relegated teams. I do hope wor Kev knows what he’s doing.

Dorien James (


Peter Schmeichel has announced his retirement at the end of this season. There is no doubt that Peter was a great ‘keeper in his prime. Will City be looking for another ‘keeper now?

The name of David James has been mentioned. With West Ham on the verge of relegation, he would want to remain in the Premier League to enhance his own future playing for England. If West Ham get relegated, and City could help that happen when we play West Ham at Maine Road on April 27th, David James could very well become available.

For Manchester City to be a success next season, the team does not need a fine tuning, it needs a good overhaul! I anticipate a lot of changes during the summer, players will leave and others brought in. The football market has changed and a lot of players will be made available by several clubs who have cash problems. Getting the right players is only part of it all, they have to fit into the team. It’s a team sport and City need players who will give 100%; it doesn’t matter what the occasion, it’s the pride of playing for City!

As City supporters we should not be disappointed this season, for we are staying in the Premier League for the new stadium. Maybe we got a little carried away when we sensed a chance of Europe, but because we failed does not mean our season has been a bad one, our games against the Rags were a joy to remember.

I have faith in that Kevin Keegan will have the team right for next season. We still have some games to be played this season, I hope that other young players will be given the chance, is it too early for Lee Croft?

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow (


I’m writing this before the Sheffield Utd vs. Arsenal game so don’t know how well Michael Brown is going to play. But supposing he acquits himself well against Viera, does anyone know if we negotiated a sell-on clause for him? If we did it could be worth a few bob!

Heavens, wasn’t the City vs. Boro’ game awful? But good to see Macken given a chance – at last, and it looks like we should persevere with Joey Barton. We looked a different team when Macken and Goater replaced Anelka and Fowler. Can anyone explain to me why we are playing Berko when he clearly is not moving freely?

Now that Schmeichel is definitely going to retire perhaps we should let Carlo Nash have a run in the first team to see if he can stake a claim to the number 1 jersey for next season (looks like Weaver will be recovering from injury). I think Schmikes should play the final game at Maine Road but otherwise it would be better to let Nash play.

Ian Burgess (

OPINION: FINAL FORM GUIDE 9th April (Before the Boro Game)

So with 6 games to go I predict the following league table come the end of the season:

                Predicted       Average
                Points          Form
Man Ure         81.33           14.333 Chumps
Arsenal         79.83           12.833
Newcastle       74.17           13.167
Chelsea         66.83           9.833
--------------------------------- ^ Chumps League Qualifiers ^
Everton         63.33           10.333
Liverpool       62.17           10.167 (Qualified via Worthless Cup)
Blackburn       59.83           10.833
--------------------------------- ^ Euro Qualifieres ^
Charlton        58.17           12.167
Middlesbro'     53.67           8.667
Tottenham       53.50           7.500
Southampton     50.83           5.833
Fulham          47.50           9.500
Man City        46.67           5.667
Aston Villa     42.83           5.833
Bolton          43.00           8.000
Leeds Utd       41.50           4.500
Birmingham      41.00           6.000
--------------------------------- V Relegated V
West Ham        39.33           8.333
West Brom       24.17           3.167
Sunderland      19.33           0.333

So that’s it then. No more form guide this season – and a good job too! ‘Cause since I started doing it City’s form has gone down the toilet.

I expect Aston Villa and Fulham to be in a worse position as their run-ins are stinkers. And the final 6 games are:

Boro(H), Spurs (A), Sunderland (H), West Ham (H), Liverpool (A), Southampton (H).

Liverpool (A), Newcastle (H), Leeds (A), Chelsea (A), Everton (H), Charlton (A).

West Ham (A), Chelsea (H), Newcastle (A), Everton (A), Sunderland (H), Leeds (A).

Sunderland (A), Charlton (A), Southampton (H), Boro (H), Newcastle (A), West Ham (H).

Chelsea (A), West Ham (H), Blackburn (A), Arsenal (H), Southampton (A), Boro (H).

Spurs (H), Southampton (A), Fulham (H), Blackburn (H), Arsenal (A), Villa (H).

West Ham:
Villa (H), Bolton (A), Boro (H), City (A), Chelsea (H), Birmingham (A).

Blue Anorak a.k.a. Richard Mottershead (


I’ve noticed quite a few requests for tickets for the Southampton game. Is something going on that I don’t know about?

Anyway, saw this on Ebay that might interest a few:

Gary Spencer (


I have an old style City badge (circular, the one before the Kappa badge) with the text “Prestwich & Whitefield” around the top and M.C.F.C. around the bottom.

As I do not live in the Whitefield or Prestwich area it’s no good to me so if anybody wants it who will put it to some use drop me a email and I will be happy to send it to you in the post free of charge. I only have the one so it’s first come, first served.

James Tierney (


I have 2 tickets for the game against West Ham. They 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 am looking to put a ticket for sale for the Southampton game on your newsletter. Please contact me direct.

Simone Torley (


A study in mental dysfunctions

I’m not a Manc. I’m an out-of-towner. Never even been to the place before becoming a Blue. No Manc uncles, aunties, cousins or grandpapa to take me to matches or to give me cigarette cards to embark me on a lifetime of expensive rides on the biggest and best rollercoaster in the world.

No, I was a PNE fan. My only contact with City was that everyone in junior school supported Man United and I didn’t know who they were (we were povvies, so no telly)! An uncle was a steward so I could get to watch PNE until they booted Alan Ball’s dad (PNE manager) out and I swore that I would never go on again.

Prior to that, MOTD had a studio at Shepherd’s Bush, not a million miles from Loftus Road, and whenever a match was called off they would just whiz a camera round the corner and film that. So when a certain longhaired QPR player got signed to play in the frozen north I thought it was Christmas.

No one has come close, in footballing terms, to getting under my skin as – Rodney Marsh. The man was a God.

And I had to see him. It’s 1972 and I’m 16, and just about to start the run up to exams. I scab some money, get the train to Manchester and the bus to the ground.

Now up to this point, my contact with footie has been with a team that was successful in Division 3 and struggling in Division 2. A night match! I have never seen so many people in Preston, never mind at a football match. I walk around the ground looking for the cheap entrances and end up, inevitably, at the Kippax. A couple of minutes later and I’m in. Proggy in pocket, pie in one hand and Bovril in the other. This is like Easter when the fair came to town!

So now I head to where everyone else is heading but I fail to see the tunnels. All I see is a staircase. Not a staircase that you see in a house. In fact, the Tower of Babel did not have a staircase like this one.

I walk up the stairs twisting left and right every twenty steps or so until I get to the top. A couple of hundred people stood at the apex waiting to enter so I wait in turn with them. Shuffling forward and finishing off the pie, I finally reach the top of the Kippax. This is the moment I remember. Pouring Bovril down my leg as my arms came down to my sides in awe at the sight in front of me.

A million people just stood around as I gawped over their heads. I walked all the way down between bodies and not taking in a thing just looking at the pitch, as more and more of it was revealed as the roof slid back (metaphorically of course, we never had a sliding roof).

Next thing I know I’m picking myself up with a chipped tooth (just stop it, you know what I mean) as the crowd surged forward, pogo-ing during the chanting session.

And that was it really, I can’t remember who we played or what the score was. That bit is a blur. But it’s also irrelevant. It was the footballing equivalent of Herpes.

The crowd parted, a minion of Beelzebub came out and read a proclamation:

“From this moment on thou shalt be forever known as a Bitter Blue. From this day until the Armageddon Saturday will be known as Despair day. I do also grant thy team the ancient art of “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory”. Ye can never ever look at another team without feeling the gut wrenching feelings of cold turkey. No matter how far you travel you will always return. And if you think that’s bad, just wait until you see the neighbours I’m preparing for you!”

And with a maniacal laugh renting apart the night air he vanished. I went home and got pasted off my dad and I didn’t care. That’s a lie. I did care and it hurt like hell.

But I’ve been going back ever since and a supporter of City through thin and thin. I feel like a boozer at an AA meeting now.

“My name is Chris and I’m a City fan”

(All kindred souls clap, and say in unison “welcome Chris”)

Chris Murphy (

MCIVTA FAQ [v0203.10]

[0] MCIVTA Addresses

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[1] What are MCIVTA’s publishing deadlines?

Deadlines for issues are nominally 6pm, Monday and Thursday evenings.

[2] MCIVTA Back Issues and Manchester City Supporters’ home page is the unofficial Manchester City Supporters’ home page. Created in 1994, it is the longest running of the Manchester City related web sites. Back issues of MCIVTA are also hosted on the site.

[3] What is the club’s official web site?

The official club web site can be found at

[4] What supporters’ clubs are there?

Manchester City FC recognises three supporters’ clubs: The “Official Supporters Club” (; the “Centenary Supporters’ Association” ( and “The International Supporters’ Club” (

[5] Where can I find out about the fans’ committee?

The Fans’ Committee operates as an interface between supporters and the club. It has its own website, containing info about forthcoming meetings as well as minutes from previous gatherings.

[6] Where can I find information about our new stadium?

The latest information regarding the progress of our new home can be found at

[7] What match day broadcasts are available on the web?

Live match commentaries and archives of games, reports and interviews can be found here: An alternate live commentary service, hosted by Yahoo, is located at:

[8] Where can I find out if City are live on satellite TV? provides a listing of Premiership games being shown on UK domestic and foreign satellite channels. A good site for North American viewers is

[9] What’s the music the teams run out to?

The music we run out to at Maine Road is “Nightmare” by Brainbug and is available on the Positiva label.

[10] Do we have a Usenet newsgroup?

Yes we do: is our home on usenet. If you are not familiar with usenet, a basic explanation is available here:,289893,sid9_gci213262,00.html

[11] Do any squad members have their own web pages?

There are a number available and direct links can be found at

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Newsletter #906