Newsletter #908

Firstly, an enormous thank you to Gareth for stepping in at such short notice to ensure MCIVTA 907 was ably produced.

A successful weekend for the Blues as we secured all 6 points and 5 goals from our two fixtures. Goals on Friday from Sommeil and Barton saw a 0-2 victory at Spurs, and today Fowler with a neat lob and Foe with a brace in a 3-0 win over relegated Sunderland. We now look forward to fellow relegation contenders West Ham next Sunday.

Tonight we have match reports on the Spurs game thanks to Peter, Sarah and David, opinions, sad news on Uwe and the usual requests.

Finally as the end of the season draws near, it’s time to vote for the OSC Player of the Year. I’d have to go for the man with two songs, who’s never given less than 100% for the Blues in his 4 years with us and continues to do so despite being demoted to the bench and the reserves, the guy who put 3 past the Rags this season – Mr Shaun Goater. Who’s yours?

Next game: West Ham United, home, 2pm Sunday 27 April 2003
Countdown: 20 days


A magnificent sunny day in north London and the Tottenham pitch looked terrific. City lined up with virtually the same team as against Middlesbrough but this time Benarbia started in place of Berkovic.

Straight from the kick-off Benarbia put Anelka through on goal but his shot was off-target. It looked to be a good chance although it wasn’t too easy to see as we were at the other end of the ground. A minute later and we had another good-looking opportunity but again it was wasted (it was called off-side anyway this time). Another minute later and we were in front: a corner was won (by Foe?) on the right and Benarbia floated in a sweet ball that Sommeil stooped to head cleanly into the net. Cue great celebrations from the City fans, who were in fine voice, in the South Stand. Spurs were all over the place at this stage.

City were rampant, Sweep was six feet tall, Dunne ran like a gazelle, Barton played like a young Keane and Ali was magic. Tottenham were very weak and unable to mount much of a threat apart from a volley from Sheringham that Schmeichel held with ease. Sweep brought a great save from their ‘keeper after a great run and shot. The only threat to City was the ref: after an incident with Sheringham that left Sommeil in a heap – it might have been an elbow judging by the reaction of one or two City players. Anyway, the result was that things got a bit more physical. However, City increased their lead after Anelka was put through for a one-on-one. He made a hash of his shot but luckily the ball came back to him off Keller and he was able to square it to Barton to score his first goal for City – a good shot but it was a deflection that wrong-footed their goalie (21 minutes).

Three City players managed to get themselves yellow cards (I hope it doesn’t affect European chances): Foe, Sweep and Barton. The latter was being wound up by Sheringham and retaliated off the ball. Half-time and City were worth their 2 goal lead.

At the start of the second half Hoddle brought on two subs to try to energise Spurs, who had always been second to the ball in the first 45 minutes. It seemed to work as City were put on the back foot for the first time in the game but there weren’t too many clear chances being made. For a time the game got a bit scrappy and City were unable to play the good football that had been a feature of the first half; they gradually seemed to lose control of the midfield as Barton and Benarbia tired.

Schmeichel was in commanding form in his last appearance in London and he denied Keane with a leg block when the striker was completely through on goal. Although never reaching the heights of the first half, City gradually came back into the game and they were always dangerous on the break. In fact it should have been 3-0 when Anelka slipped a sideways pass to Fowler who fooled his marker but shot tamely with his right foot.

As mentioned earlier, the Blues’ fans were in great voice throughout (I never heard any response from the home fans) with such ditties as ‘You’re just a small town in Arsenal’. As each of the City subs warmed up near the South Stand they got a rousing chant from the fans, particularly the Goat. Some of this was more entertaining than the action on the pitch by this stage. The only negative for me was the continuing use of the town in Bavaria reference to signify Reds in so many of the songs. I know the word has probably lost most of its original meaning but for someone old enough (such as me) to remember the 50s it spoilt the celebrations somewhat [Agreed, these ‘songs’ we can do without – Ed].

City held out very comfortably for their win – Macken was given a run late-on in place of Fowler, who was given a warm salute from happy fans as he left the field. At the end the players came to clap the fans (Keegan had to drag Anelka back from half-way down the tunnel to do his duty – I can’t see fans really warming to a guy who doesn’t acknowledge them).

Some observations: this was a good all-round team performance and everyone played a part. What a pity Ali isn’t 5 years younger, Barton looks a real prospect, Anelka has lost his nerve in front of goal but his all-round play is great, Schmeichel will be badly missed and I’m still not sure about Fowler although he played one of his better games here without ever looking like scoring. Tottenham appeared very weak but Hoddle, pre-match, said how important the game was to them with a chance of Europe still on, so you can’t say they weren’t motivated!

Peter Kewley (


City started off much brighter, dominating the action in the first minutes of the game, while Spurs’ defending was dire. Ali B started the action with a lofted shot forward, King’s poor clearance falling to Anelka, who shot wide of the target. Ali set things off again with a ball down the right to Foe, with King involved this time, in conceding a corner, which Sommeil headed past Keller to open his scoring account for City – not bad for 2 minutes play! Spurs had the chance to level the scores, when on ten minutes, Sheringham’s volley was expertly saved by Schmeichel at full-stretch. City’s midfield play in particular was impressive – with Benarbia, Wright-Phillips and Barton working well to out-pace and out-tackle the opposition.

A number of times during the game, Wright-Phillips, who must surely have been the smallest player on the pitch, leapt into the air and won the most amazing headers (does he have springs in his boots?). Barton concentrated on getting the simple things right and was again rewarded with the Man of the Match accolade (and champagne – though as he said in his post-match interview – he doesn’t drink, but would keep the bottle!). Andy said Barton reminded him of Keane (Roy not Robbie) – because of his ability to both break up the play and to set the team moving forward with the quality of his passing though not his psychotic tendencies – and was sent to wash his mouth out!

City’s second goal came when Anelka broke free and was faced with another one on one with a ‘keeper (note to KK – Anelka to practice one on ones in training!). This time, though Anelka squandered the chance – Keller only managed to clear the ball as far as Fowler, who tried to swap it to his left foot, the ball then fell to Barton who claimed his first senior goal (even though there was probably a deflection off Keller).

In the second half Spurs made two substitutions, bringing on Perry and Toda, and although this seemed to give Spurs the strength to push forward, City held firm and Schmeichel pulled off another couple of excellent saves to maintain another clean sheet. City could probably have had another goal – but all in all it was an excellent performance by City (though Saturday’s Telegraph prefers to concentrate on the poor showing from Spurs).

After the match, Sky’s pitch-side reporter had the two goal-scorers lined up for interview, declaring that only one of them spoke English… well that’s not Joey Barton then, we thought! It certainly had been a Good Friday.

Sarah Longshaw (


Friday was my birthday – did I really want to spend two hours on a team that apparently couldn’t care less? In the end I paid my five pounds and watched. An amazing start with Anelka missing a chance to score the fastest goal in Premiership history and within a minute SWeeP shooting over with only Keller to beat. Eventually (131 seconds) we scored after Benarbia had sent Foe through into the penalty area to win a corner. Benarbia’s corner headed in by Sommeil.

About 20 minutes and Anelka miscued a shot, which surprised Keller who could only parry it to Fowler who failed to control it, allowing it to bounce to Barton who calmly sidefooted it into the net off Keller’s chest.

End of scoring; Schmeichel made two good saves and one excellent save whilst Keller made an even better one to deny SWeeP.

Second half City stopped going for 50:50 balls – perhaps trying to avoid bookings to stay in with a chance of the fair play ticket to Europe. Certainly Barton & SWeeP were unlucky to be booked.

Barton looks the sort of ball winning midfielder we want; Benarbia showed he can still trouble Premiership defences and is certainly worth another season’s contract; Fowler put in a lot of effort and tried some nice moves but the touch was missing, Anelka ditto; We must find a replacement for Schmeichel – perhaps we should make him goalkeeping coach – can you imagine having to face him after you’d let in a goal?

So I’m glad I watched, we are now mathematically safe but we will need to do better to survive next season.

David Lewis (


Can somebody explain how this system works or point me to a website where it is explained?

I have just watched the City win over Spurs on Sky and although we picked up three more bookings, KK reckons we are practically home and dry for Europe next year unless “we get loads more bookings or sendings off in our last few games”.

I understand from the Press that Middlesbrough are our nearest challengers, but I do not know how far behind they are or how points are deducted/awarded etc.

Can anyone help with this?

Chris Fegan (


Hello…? What’s happening with regards the opinion articles? They appear to have dwindled to zero.

Do you not think that others may want to share whatever it is that goes through your heads when you think of City, or do you just not think?

Let’s have some contributions; views on players, who should we be buying/selling, or have you heard any rumours about Keegan, a donkey and a member of the Royal family?

Play Devil’s advocate or anything, just get something down in black and white. Who’s your favourite strike partnership of all time and why?

Come on!

Chris Murphy (


I have some sad news for you City-supporters. The former City-striker Uwe R