Newsletter #977

Reaction continues to the current form, or lack of, amid continued rumblings of unrest and departures. Don’s news summary covers all this, and news on injuries, returns and ex-Blues.

We have opinion on the slump, form, players and morale and a visit to the museum.

Monday night sees Leeds United and their lovely fans visit CoMS, so issue 978 will be rather late.

Finally, a personal thanks to all those at CoMS who helped with my work party on Tuesday night – absolutely fantastic and I cannot recommend the place highly enough for people planning a celebration. Even the Rags amongst them were won over!

Next game: Leeds United, home, 8pm Monday 22 December 2003 (TV)


General News

This Charming Man – I: What a way to start a derby day. Last Saturday your News Editor turned on his bedside radio, and immediately heard BBC Radio Five Live quoting tabloid reports of “City star striker lamps youngster”. The Daily Mirror ran the story under the headline “ANEL- K.O.”, and alleged that Nicolas Anelka had had a fight with reserve team defender Stephen Jordan, after the Frenchman objected to a challenge in a practice match. “Nicolas was out of order, it was a nothing situation and he over-reacted badly. It is not something senior players should do,” a ‘City insider’ was quoted as saying. There were allegations of dressing room factions, dividing roughly between the French and the Liverpudlian elements in the squad (next day, the Observer claimed that no less than six players were refusing to speak to Anelka). With all this disharmony off the pitch and poor shows on it, the papers reasoned that KK would soon walk out on the club. Keegan did his best to dismiss such speculation by saying: “I feel as up for it as ever. I love this club and I enjoy managing this club. There’s no way when you take a job at any club, whether it’s Manchester City or Fulham or Scunthorpe United or Hartlepool United that it’s going to be plain sailing. You have peaks and troughs, you have good weeks and bad weeks, you have good runs and you have bad runs. We’re in a bad run, but we’re only one win away from turning it into a good run. You must try to keep it all in perspective and I think I do that. I’ve got a good relationship with the chairman of this club and I’ve got a good relationship with the fans. I’m not going to please everybody with my team selection, nor can anybody, not when you’ve got 20-odd players vying for 11 places. We’re still on the right road to do something here. The road has got a little bumpy in the last five or six games, but that’s the reality of the situation.” Keegan was keen to play down his current spate of troubles and he claims he went through a worse period during his first season at City. “I don’t think this is the trickiest it’s been for me,” he said. “But because the Premiership is the way it is, everything gets exaggerated. When I first came in round about November (two years ago), we were eighth or ninth in the First Division and people were starting to jump on the bandwagon and say that it was not going to work. But we went on to win the championship that year with 99 points and a hundred-odd goals and we broke a whole lot of records. So I’ve been in this situation before and I will certainly be in it again, even more so the way the Premiership is – it seems to be one manager under the spotlight one week and another the next. But what can you do? You just have to get on with it and that’s what I’m doing. I don’t think there’s that much wrong here and I still believe in my players.”

This Charming Man – II: Continuing its build up to the derby on a high note, Radio Five Live later interviewed Alfie Haaland to gain his view on that tackle by Mr. Keane back in 2001. Keano had admitted in his autobiography that he intended to hurt the Norwegian in the tackle, comments for which he was fined £150,000 and banned for five games last year. Haaland stated: “It’s behind me now. An apology from Roy Keane or the club would be nice but I don’t expect that from them. Probably most clubs would have left it on the field but that is not the case with this (because of the book). But it is finished and I can’t do anything about it now. It is very clear in my mind and it is obviously not a nice memory, especially after seeing how it was described in the book. He bore all these grudges against me for some reason. It was all a bit strange, the whole thing.” Keane claimed Haaland, then at Leeds, taunted him when he was injured during a game between the teams at Elland Road in 1997 and that his actions were intended to get revenge. Haaland added: “He’s been a really good player and it’s not hard for me to accept that but I think a player needs more than that – character – and I think maybe he lacks a bit there. I haven’t talked much about it. It was a long time ago and I want to look forward but sometimes it is good to talk about it.”

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now: And so on to yet more dreary fare of a City nature. The finances of the club were studied by two unlikely bedfellows this week, the Sun and the Observer newspapers. The currant bun ran a story claiming to show how KK had squandered his transfer funds. I quote: “£689K A POINT – KEVIN KEEGAN is providing rotten value for money at Manchester City, according to a SunSport survey. Keegan has blown a massive £48.25 million in transfers – and the rewards are not being reaped in the Premiership. SunSport has compiled a Pounds for Points table for every top-flight manager and under-pressure Keegan is virtually propping it up… We calculated each manager’s total spend and divided it by the number of Premiership points they have earned to establish how much each point has cost. And the 70 Premiership points City have picked up in the past two seasons come in at a staggering £689,286 each… The only established manager paying a higher price for his points is Chelsea’s Claudio Ranieri – and even then the difference is marginal.” A day earlier, Paul Wilson in the Observer wrote a piece stating that City’s position was in some ways worse than that of Leeds United. “Some suspect the position at City may be even worse than that at Leeds. The debt is probably larger than the latest figures indicate, more likely to be nudging £60 million or more by this stage, and City do not have a Rio Ferdinand to raise a quick £30 million. They have Anelka, who is not the moneyspinner he once was even if reports of a Manchester United swoop during the transfer window are true… They have very few fixed assets, in fact, certainly not £50 million worth, which makes them vulnerable. They no longer own their own ground, but are tenants of the council on a 250-year lease. … There are few players anyone else would want, for Keegan has been no David O’Leary in the transfer market. If anything he has been the opposite, with a distinct penchant for spending money on older players whose value drops as soon as they arrive. Yet despite staking his reputation on certain individuals, rescuing careers that were stalled or stuttering, Keegan finds himself accused of having lost the dressing room. The great motivator has finally met his match.” Wilson even speculated on replacements for KK – Gary Megson or Sam Allardyce were mentioned (thanks to Akin-Paul Odusanya). City fans must be perplexed how a club that was riding high only five weeks ago, and only one win away from a Champions’ League place, suddenly find that the sky is falling in.

Get Back to Russia I Hear You Say! Enough of the depressing stuff already! So what are City trying to do to alleviate these dire financial problems? As mentioned by Mr. Wardle at the AGM last week, Alistair Mackintosh has been deputed to scour the world for another Roman Abramovich. The M.E.N. reported this week that Mackintosh had begun his quest with a trip to Russia, missing the derby at the same time (some guys have all the luck). He made a presentation to the Moscow Soccer Expo 2003 and said later, “If we are going to be the size of club we want to be then we have to expand brand awareness around the world and Russia, China and the United States are the fastest growing soccer nations. There is obviously a lot of interest in Chelsea in Russia at the moment and that has led fans to be more aware of other Premiership sides. We had very fruitful talks with three clubs – Torpedo Metallurg, Spartak Moscow and Dynamo Moscow – and we hope to form long lasting alliances. They will come over to see our stadium and see how we work commercially and we hope, in the nicest possible way, to exploit their brand and fan bases. Metallurg are known for producing some of the best junior talent in Russia so there may eventually be a technical link there, who knows? At the moment we are in the very early stages but it was a tremendously useful trip. I was interviewed on the two biggest free to air television sports channels, on Moscow’s equivalent of Radio Five and in the biggest selling newspaper. We want Russian football fans, when they think of English football, to have City in the forefront of their minds.”

Transfer News and Gossip

Pole Valuts to Head of Want List: KK has announced that his first target come the January sales will be a goalkeeper. “I have talked with the chairman and he is well aware of the fact that we need to bring a goalkeeper in. Whether that is on loan or a permanent deal, we’ll have to see and we’ll discuss over the next week or two. There is also the opportunity to bring someone in if anything were to happen to David (Seaman) again. There is that legislation to help us,” mused Keegan. The first candidate for purchase was said to be Bolton’s Finnish international keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen. Sam Allardyce has denied all knowledge of any approach and, tongue-in-cheek, suggested that City couldn’t afford him anyway. “I’m sure if City were interested in Jussi they would have already contacted us,” he told Sky Sports News. “Obviously, with their goalkeeping problems, they would be interested in signing a ‘keeper but I don’t think Man City have got that much money left, have they?” KK may well have to press ahead with other targets with highly-rated Norwich ‘keeper Robert Green, although another old name was recycled by the rumour mill this week – Jerzy Dudek of Liverpool. The City manager has been a long-time admirer of Dudek and has been monitoring the Pole’s position at Anfield. Dudek is currently benched behind Chris Kirkland as first choice stopper and is believed to have fallen out with Gerard Houllier following the home defeat by Bolton in the Carling Cup.

Should I Stay or Should I Go? It’s been a busy week in the news for Darren Huckerby, whose fate seems to have changed at almost hourly intervals. Last Saturday Huckerby finished his loan spell at Norwich City, and starred in the Canaries’ 4-1 demolition of Cardiff City. He scored one goal and set up two others, and amidst emotional farewell scenes, it was thought that Hucks would be back at Carrow Road as soon as the their finances allowed. First surprise occurred on his return to MCFC – KK sounded as though Huckerby might yet have a future with the Blues. He said: “He is coming back to fight for a place. I know Darren has enjoyed it at Norwich and has become a fans’ favourite. That’s great for him and should do a lot for his confidence. I will have a word with him when he comes back because he is our player and is contracted here for another 18 months. He is a great kid to have around. He is bubbly and trains properly, so there are no problems there, and as far as I am concerned he is coming back to fight for a place like everyone else.” Imagine my surprise, dear reader, when the next day’s headlines revealed that City had agreed a £750,000 fee for Darren with two Division One clubs – West Bromwich Albion and Norwich City. Albion were first out of the blocks with a bid, and chairman Jeremy Peace commented “We’re pleased Manchester City have accepted our offer but it’s not a done deal by any means. We still have to agree personal terms with Darren and his agent and there are other clubs interested in him.” West Brom’s bid forced Norwich’s hand and they have had a bid accepted by City. This bidding frenzy also flushed out a few other clubs, who were said to be interested – Wigan Athletic, Portsmouth and West ham United were all mentioned. So Hucks is definitely on his way then? Well, not quite. Huckerby’s agent Phil Smith went on record to say that his client was in no particular hurry to go anywhere. “Darren has gone back to Manchester City and he wants to give it a go,” he said. “He hasn’t decided that his future lies away from the club. He would like a chance to play for City again and it will be self-evident over the next couple of weeks whether he will get it or not. If he was to leave Manchester City there are a few issues to be resolved,” he said. “It would also be very difficult for Darren to entertain a permanent move into the Nationwide League. We will speak to West Brom and Norwich in due course but we also believe there are other clubs interested in him who are operating at a higher level. Too many people are trying to put words into his mouth at the moment and we feel it is better to let the matter take its natural course.”

KK To Have A Brazilian? If M. Anelka does get run out of town by an irate posse of Scousers, who might City find to replace him? The speculation has begun already. Thanks to Henk Timmer, who reports from Holland: “PSV striker and Serbia/Montenegro international Mateja Kezman (24) has ruled out a move to Manchester City or Middlesbrough – in case City sell Anelka. He is rumoured to leave the club this season so that can the club can cash in before he leaves on a free in 2005. His asking price is currently £14 million. He said this in a football talk show Monday last week (RTL5’s Voetbal Insite). Barça, Newcastle and some club in (d)red are among the clubs interested. Kezman said he sees Liverpool also as a club where he would like to play. The last two seasons he scored more goals than the number of matches he played in.” So Kezman doesn’t fancy us much – anyone else out there who’d fit the bill? How about Francileudo Santos, a Brazilian plying his trade with French side Sochaux. Francileudo Dos Santos Silva, to give him his full name, has scored 8 goals in 13 Ligue 1 matches for the fourth-placed club. City, Arsenal and Aston Villa were all represented at Lens’ Stade Felix Bollaert last Saturday and French sources claim the Brazilian striker was one of the main focuses of their attention.

Leave Our Boys Alone! I wasn’t too happy to read the following snippets concerning a pair of potential departures from the club, both from the midfield. Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier is a big fan of Joey Barton and reports suggest that he hopes to add him to his playing staff when the transfer window re-opens in January. The 21-year old is a personal friend of Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard and would cherish the opportunity of playing alongside him for the Merseyside club, apparently. Tottenham are being linked with a January swoop for Eyal Berkovic. The Evening Standard says Berkovic’s agent, former Spurs striker Ronny Rosenthal, has already held talks with the London club. A move to London would suit Berkovic, who has a house in Golders Green.

Ex-Blues’ News

Bish Off: Thanks to Ralph for sending me the following tale of one of City’s favourite former sons. The Radcliffe Borough site,, reports that ex-Manchester City star Ian Bishop “has left Stainton Park after discussions with the manager, Bishop who made nine appearances and scored one goal for Boro, and is the second player in a week to leave Stainton Park. Manager Kevin Glendon explained ‘I have a great deal of respect for Bish – he did just what I asked for in giving us an initial lift, however I explained to him I was looking further forward and that I wanted to bring in some new players and I have too much respect for him to not involve him or keep him hanging around if he was not involved, Bish has always been my type of player but at this moment in time I need to progress in another direction and he fully understands the politics at non-League level that determine the making of these decisions.'”

Ritchie Richer? One player who may be staying with his current employers is Paul Ritchie. The 28-year-old has played 17 League games for Walsall so far this season but his contract at the Bescot Stadium expires at the end of the current campaign. “He’s a player who knows what he’s got to do and when to do it,” says Saddlers’ boss Colin Lee. “He’s an important part of the equation for us.”

Jags Out for Kernaghan: Former City defender Alan Kernaghan has emerged as the favourite for the managerial vacancy at Partick Thistle. He is currently Clyde’s player-manager, and is the frontrunner to succeed Gerry Collins, with the Jags’ directors having now drawn up a shortlist of candidates. Thistle dispensed with the services of Collins following a 3-1 defeat to table-toppers Celtic, after failing to win a single league game in 14. The Jags are languishing at the foot of the SPL table, nine points behind their closest rivals. Reports from Scotland believe Kernaghan has been contacted twice concerning the Thistle post. The former Republic of Ireland international guided Clyde to second in the Scottish First Division last season – their highest league position for 40 years.

Reactions and Comments

Derby Day Blues: Last Saturday City slumped to a 3-1 defeat at Old Trafford. The Blues decided to give the Reds a two goal start before deciding to make a game of it when Shaun Wight-Phillips snatched a goal back. The optimism didn’t last long though as Paul Scholes scored his second goal of the game. “The first half was disappointing,” said KK in a rare moment of understatement. “There was not enough energy in the performance. We didn’t choose the right option when we did have the ball and we didn’t win hardly a fifty-fifty tackle. That is very disappointing in a derby. It was almost all the same things that they were accused of last year at Maine Road. The second half was much better. There was a willingness by everyone to work for the cause. I thought at 2-1 we had a chance to get back in this game but obviously the third goal was a killer.” Chances fell to Robbie Fowler and Nicolas Anelka, but none were converted. “They are not firing on all cylinders,” said Keegan. “It’s not just one person though. The chances are falling to all the players. But we were up against a quality team. Sir Alex put out his strongest 11 players. They are always difficult to beat but I expected a bit more drive in the first half. We did not play well when we had the ball. Generally we were beaten by a better side but we are not that far behind them.” Keegan paid tribute to Scholes: “Forget the goals – we will look at them again. Paul Scholes is the best in the world in my time at coming from midfield. I know how difficult he is to handle – he did it for me for England.” Joey Barton admitted that City were not up to scratch in the first half but felt they had a chance after the break. “We are disappointed because on the second-half performance we felt we could pinch something,” he said. “I think it took us 45 minutes to believe we could win anything and you can’t give teams like Man United two goals because it is difficult to come back from it.” Despite City’s recent poor run Barton said the players were capable of turning things around. “I think hard work is the key. We are never going to give up as a team. We will be striving to get our club back heading in the right direction,” he added.

Squad News

Moving Coaches? News agencies in the USA are stating that City’s fitness coach Juan Carlos Osorio is a candidate for D.C. United’s head coaching job, according to sources close to the MLS team. Colombian born Osorio, 41, was an assistant with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars from January 2000 until June 2001 before being hired by KK to run the club’s fitness and conditioning. It had been thought that Osorio might have left the Blues last summer, as he was not at Carrington for training. Although back in the fold with the Blues, D.C. United are said to be actively pursuing him for the post. Meanwhile Stuart Pearce’s contract comes up for review at the end of this month. Pearce is currently on a six-month deal as the assistant coach. Chairman John Wardle said, “Stuart’s future is something that will be addressed later this month and we have an agreement with him that if someone comes in for him we will allow him to talk. He has been brilliant for us and if he did go it would be a sad loss. I like him a lot and get on well with him and so I am sure do the players. As for his contract, however, that is entirely up to Kevin Keegan and I have no doubt we will be speaking soon about the matter.” City’s championship winning skipper said: “I signed a year’s contract last season and this time I have signed a six month but the bottom line is that I am very happy working for Manchester City. I like everyone connected with the club and I am happy what I am doing. I don’t come in every day and think ‘when am I going to be leaving’. Things change quickly in the game and I am giving everything I can to City but I have aspirations to work in management. However, I am here as a coach and as long as the manager and the board are happy with what I am doing then so am I.”

More Agony for Weaver: The need for further goalkeeping cover was shown when KK announced that Nicky Weaver faces at least another year on the sidelines because of his knee injury. Weaver looks set to face another operation on his knee injury, which first flared up over twenty months ago during the Blues’ First Division campaign. “We have got to wait to get Nicky to America but if I am honest we are probably going to have to forget about him for a year,” said the manager. “That’s where we are at with him at the moment. He is definitely going to need some sort of operation. But we still think that when the operation takes place, which could be in the next three or four weeks, he has a great chance of coming back.”

Shuker Dives in at ‘Pool: Chris Shuker’s return to City didn’t last too long. After an early report linking Shuker with a loan move to Conference leaders Chester City, the 21-year-old joined Second Division Hartlepool United on a month’s loan. The deal was completed in time for Shuker to be included in the squad to take on QPR at the weekend. Shuker has played 7 first-team games for City, together with a total of 27 league matches whilst on loan at Macclesfield Town, Walsall and Rochdale. In other news, goalkeeper Kieran Westwood has agreed to extend his loan at Oldham by another month. The 19-year-old is wanted for another month at Boundary Park even though he did not feature for the Latics’ first team. Westwood has impressed for the reserves and provided cover for regular number one Les Pogliacomi.

Pair Return: The City squad returned to training on Tuesday and welcomed back two long term injury sufferers in the shape of Danny Tiatto and Mikkel Bischoff. The Aussie has been missing from the squad since a series of injuries sidelined him at the start of November. “We are hoping to have Danny Tiatto back in training this week. We have been a bit short on left sided players, but he will need games,” remarked Kevin Keegan. “He has been out for six or seven games so it will be a big plus to have him back. Everyone else is in training apart from Robbie Fowler who missed a session on Tuesday morning but he is fine.” The Dane Bischoff has struggled with a problem in his foot since September but has been given the all clear to start training again. “Mikkel will return to training this week which is good news,” confirmed the manager. “Mikkel also needs games. The reserves don’t have a match until the New Year now but we may organise a couple of practice games for him. We will probably look to do that a couple of times at Carrington with some of the young Academy players. It really doesn’t matter what the standard is and I am not being unkind to the Academy because initially it is just games that he needs for his confidence. It might be better for him to have not too tough a time before he starts climbing up the ladder. He is a very fit lad so it is just match fitness that he needs and it could still be his season. It is never too late we are not half way through the season yet.”

KK Defends Robbie (Again): It’s staring to feel like Groundhog Day as KK yet again leapt to the defence of City spearhead Robbie Fowler this week. “I think everyone at our club, forget the people outside it, and the supporters have seen that Robbie is working very, very hard,” said the manager. “At the moment it is just not falling for him. On a normal day in the match at Everton he might have scored two or three goals. That would have been a fair reward for his efforts. In the derby he again worked very hard but nothing came his way. That’s football but you do know that given a fair bit of luck which everyone needs Robbie will score a fair few goals.” KK says there are no problems with the attitude of his squad either. “There is nothing wrong with the team spirit that a win won’t put right. There is a frustration there. When you are winning and you change the team nobody says anything, or if you are winning and you keep the same team nobody says anything. When you are not winning all the players on the outside think they should be in. And that is right for professional footballers. One or two of the players have come and knocked my door down and one or two may come and knock the door down this week. But what they have to understand is that they too have had opportunities to stake their claim and if they are honest perhaps they have not staked that claim strongly enough. I fully understand self preservation but some players do think they are playing better than they are. Some players do think they are contributing more than they have and they must get real as well. It is my job to try and pick a winning team and at the moment I am not doing that very well but I think we have got the players. We just have to get the right combination, the players have to put in the performance. Then the confidence will come back and away we will go.”

Banana News

Remember when the blow up banana was the must-have soccer accessory? Relive the heady days of inflatable-mania at: (thanks to Ralph for the link)

Don Barrie <news(at)>


I was at the ground on Monday – last minute Christmas shopping, ‘claiming’ my FA Cup tickets and stuff – and was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of the museum. It looks really good – a mix of display cabinets interspersed with push button video screens and a small lecture theatre, where I am told the film will change every few months – as will some of the displays. The guy telling us about it was really excited; in fact everyone I met on Monday was really helpful, really pleasant and obviously happy in what they were doing. What a shame I don’t have the same eager anticipation for this coming Monday… (the Leeds match).

I also read an article in The Mail (on Tuesday), which tried to understand how Keegan must be feeling right now… and it made me stop and reflect again on the current situation. I think it would be a real shame if KK goes, but I wouldn’t blame him. After all, where is the passion? Where is the pride? Apart from those wearing the Nos. 29 and 24 that is. And what can he do with ‘his’ team? If playing at (one of) the best ground(s), in front of ‘the best fans!’ for a manager who believes in your ability above all else isn’t enough, then I too would be stuck for ideas (I seem to remember Microsoft having a similar sort of problem in motivating overpaid ‘staff’ to give of their best and to continue to do so).

It is also worrying to hear reports of rifts within the dressing room. Really, it seems that rather than managing a team of professional footballers, KK has the challenges that face most primary school teachers and parents on a regular basis – petty squabbling, sulking etc. I accept that this is probably a rather simplistic view, but I would rather watch players who have given their all, albeit not ‘top notch talent’, than our current team, who really don’t seem to care! If I were KK (and thankfully I’m not, as I have just about enough tactical knowledge to coach a junior team) I’d be tempted to bring back Wiekens, Macken, and Huckerby (even!) to give them a chance to show what pride in playing means.

So, it’s Leeds on Monday – come on City, just remember that although Christmas is all about giving – you can go too far (and frequently do!).

Sarah Longshaw <sarah(at)>


I have read that there is dressing room strife at Man City – that there are cliques, with the players fighting amongst themselves, especially our French players and those from Liverpool. I note that Keegan states that the players don’t have to get on off the pitch but should on it. Well, to some extent, that is true. But there is a world of difference between antagonism between the players and simply not wishing to socialize with one’s colleagues.

I would like to make the following points. First, during the past 2 seasons there was a good spirit in the club (indeed there was when Royle was the manager). But that no longer seems to be the case. If that is due to the reported antagonism then it has to be snuffed out – is it just pure coincidence that this trouble started when McManaman joined Fowler? If it is then Keegan must take appropriate action and get rid of the trouble makers. Keegan could do with reading Ferguson’s autobiography – taking my blue tinted glasses off I have to say that I found this a fascinating read. It was clear from the beginning that Ferguson simply got rid of players who created problems at whatever club he was at – including star players. One may find his management style somewhat authoritarian but it’s horses for courses and at a football club perhaps having strict rules pays dividends. The second point I’d like to make regards management style. I recently read a piece in the Daily Telegraph on Steve Claridge (at present manager of Weymouth and often to be heard on Radio 5). In it he says the decision to drop a player should not be based on personal reasons. By the same token neither should selecting a player. I am sure Keegan’s team selection policy must be beginning to alienate some senior players. What on earth Jon Macken amongst others must think about not getting on the pitch is anyone’s guess – after all, how many goals have our esteemed strikers scored between them in the last 4 games? The same must go for 2 of the best midfield players in the Premiership – and I don’t mean McManaman and Sinclair – who simply can’t get on the field. If Keegan doesn’t get rid of the trouble makers and select players on ability then this club is only going in one direction. Finally, if it is true that Keegan refused to allow Berkovic to play in the charity match then all I can say is that this man full of petty spite. On the positive side Berkovic would have got some match practice – he gets precious little at Man City these days.

Ian Burgess <i.burgess(at)>


It has to be said the fans’ morale is slipping. Why? Certainly heightened expectations, with a fabulous new stadium, are diminishing rapidly. We were poor against the enemy, especially given the chance to get back in the game. I have always been a big Goat fan and we would never have lost on Saturday with him. However, that is all history. What do we do now? We can’t really do much because it is up to KK to do something. Clearly there are problems in the camp that he and the Board have to sort out. Secondly he has to look at his tactics and choice of players. We will lose against Leeds if he doesn’t change! Sinclair is producing nothing and either move McManaman or drop him too. Bring in Berko and Reyna with hopefully Tiatto on the bench. Anelka has been and will be scoring again, Fowler hasn’t been and has clearly had his chance and after nearly a year is still not fit enough. Wanchope needs a proper run to see if he can provide anything with Macken on the bench coming on for at least the last 20 minutes or as a 3rd forward depending on the score. Remember we are getting Huck back and he is scoring so stick him on for a run (literally!) too.

The defence is a worry but when the midfield is not protecting it what do you expect? Also, the forwards are not working hard enough in that area as well. Chopping and changing the defence is a dangerous thing so I would be loath to touch it (but remember Wiekens’ performance against Nisteldiver!). In addition we need another ‘keeper signed in January, which I assume will be done anyway.

City fans do not mind their team playing sh**e if they at least try and are not so worried if they don’t try if they are playing brilliant. We are getting neither. I haven’t forgotten the many detractors of Kevin Horlock, think of the goals he scored for us that we aren’t getting now!

Is there anything else we can do? We can forward this illustrious publication to KK and ask for a reply to tell us why he isn’t changing things. Last season’s team would have got at least a point on Saturday, let alone our other abysmal results lately.

Mark Ballentine <mark.ballentine(at)>


What has happened to City over the last 8 weeks? We’ve gone from being the top scorers in the league to being able to manage 2 goals in 8 games in all competitions. We’ve gone from being Mark Lawrenson’s dark horse tip for the top four to being 3 points off the bottom three.

As for the derby performance, first half we just didn’t turn up, no-one was shutting the United players down, they had time to turn, walk a bit then decide who they were going to pass to while the City players just watched. Fair play to KK, he did get them playing more in the second half but they couldn’t have been much worse if they tried. There was no desire for the Blue half to come out on top again. Sinclair says he’s a City fan yet I bet many of those in the crowd would have put 10 times the effort in that he did.

No-one seems to give one where we finish now this year. A season that started so well has almost left us with only Premiership survival left to scrap over. All talk of player disharmony etc. can’t be doing much for flagging confidence. Our top stars just ain’t living up to the badge at the moment.

Ed Bodey <edbodey(at)>


I have watched the last few games that were televised here in the US (before I left in 1979 I watched home and away for most of my life). I have also read all the whining and moaning letters and have come to one conclusion.

The whiners and moaners are worse than the “crimes” they accuse Anelka of. His attitude and play has not changed a bit. The only difference is he is not getting that bit of luck lately that scores goals. Fowler is finally recovering from all his injuries and is getting in shape and starting to look dangerous, so KK was right. Berkovic is a great Division 1 player but is too slow for the Premiership. The team is not playing badly except for the Everton game, which was abysmal. Macca is every bit the player KK bought but we need someone to cut out high crosses on defence. Every corner kick and cross from outside is dangerous. SWP has to run around a lot because of his size but a lot of the time he looks like a chicken with his head cut off. All we really need is somebody big and strong at the centre back position and Reyna would not look out of place in midfield for the inexperienced Joey Barton, Tarnat does look good occasionally, but the team is not bad when they can all play without injury and suspension.

Let’s just be patient, it will work!

CTID, Jon Heavis <JHeavis502(at)>


Sorry Ernie but I have to disagree with some of your points in MCIVTA 976. I felt City let themselves down first half at Stretford but second half they played with much more pride and were unlucky not to have got back into the game until Ginger finally sealed it for them. Fowler and Macca I felt put in good performances and Seaman could not have been blamed for any of their goals.

Pete, I can’t agree with you about the Everton game. Yes, the game featured two sides low on confidence and perhaps not playing at their peak, but compared to the game at Spurs, which I also attended, that performance was a marked improvement. We created a number of chances that perhaps earlier in the season we would have scored and compared to the Spurs game I felt we actually looked like scoring on occasion and on another day could have left with a win.

I can’t explain the recent slump in form and I am not one for the rumour mill with talk of dressing room disputes etc. Be honest, many of us have done a Jim Bowen with a “here’s what you could have won” attitude. Let’s face it there are no consistent sides below third place and we have had as many opportunities as any team to cement our place in the top six. Yes we are as close to the bottom three as we are to the top six (if not closer) but a couple of wins will put us back up there. We haven’t won for 5 league games and that is the reality of it.

It’s time to consider what are we expecting from this season? Me, I would ideally like to see us improve on last season, which I am told we are on course to achieving bearing in mind our points total is currently better than at the same stage last season. It’s not fair to start slagging off the Anelkas for not putting in the effort – let’s face it the quality of service to our strikers has been dreadful of late. Despite only gaining 1 point, we should be encouraged that over the last 3 league games we have been creating chances so the breaks have to come eventually. I firmly believe we have the quality to get over this slump.

Chin up Blues, the season isn’t over in December, we still have the FA Cup and a top six place to fight for – other teams will have their slumps later in the season – let’s hope we’ll be over ours by then and that these pages will have more positive postings!

Ever the optimist!

Graham Keller <gkmcfc(at)>


I take Ian Richardson’s point about dropping Anelka may be doing him good, and I also admit wholeheartedly that it’s a serious pity that a player whose major strength is his ability to outstrip the last man for pace also has the major weakness of not being able to finish one-on-ones.

I’d have to take issue with the suggestion that the fact that he missed the one opportunity created for him at the Swamp means that he isn’t the “finished article”. Giggs and big nose also missed sitters (in fact the former missed the easiest chance I’ve seen all season), and irrespective of where they’d be coming from (and the likely smell that would follow them) I don’t think there’s a true City fan who wouldn’t take them into our squad like a shot on current form.

I’d far rather see Sinclair dropped than Anelka. Maybe it’s time to shift Macca onto the left wing (he can’t cross from the right anyway, so either side is a bonus if it gets him out of the centre), and let someone else have a go at being the creative ying to Barton’s yang.

Dump Blobby and give Macken a chance, or, dare I say it, even Hucks – he may well spend 90% of his time running head down at great velocity into defenders’ midriffs, but at least he runs at defenders… we’ve got decent strikers at the club, but the knock on effect of giving Fowler a permanent place while he’s playing so badly is that it hits the confidence of those vying for the place – they think they’ll never get a chance, so why bother? So you’re left with 4 players who can’t hit a barn door.

Anyway, as far as Ian’s opinions go, as was voiced so eloquently elsewhere in 976, there’s room for all in MCIVTA!

CTID, Jon Marshall <jon_g_marshall(at)>


There is much debate in MCIVTA 976, all valid points. I tend to agree with Paul Matthewson, let’s be optimistic. We’re three points from the bottom three and six from fourth place. Nothing is settled.

Drop Sinclair and stick Hucks in on the left wing. He might take a few defenders on and actually pull a cross back from the touchline. Hucks is on form, he’s scoring and fit, Sinclair is displaying the form that put Wet Ham where they are now.

I’ve seen the Leicester, Boro, Spurs games live and watched Everton and the other lot on TV; we do seem to be getting over the appalling lack of skill/commitment/cohesion, but we do need our ‘class’ striker to get his finger out of his a*se and look lively. If he’s not going to bother, get him off and play someone who will wear his heart on his sleeve, along with Shaun, Joey and Dunney.

Mike Taylor <mike(at)>


Will probably be shot down in flames for suggesting this, but does anyone else think it strange that first day back after a successful loan spell a fee is agreed for Huckerby to move to West Brom? Admittedly, it was the First Division, but he seems to be showing a bit of goal scoring form, his confidence must be sky high given the plaudits he’s been receiving and I would have thought he’d be worthy of a place at least on the bench against Leeds given the recent returns from Anelka and Fowler – you never know, that maxim about players scoring against their old clubs might just, for once, go for us, rather than against us.

Or maybe we can rely on the man whose wages they are still paying to oblige…

Martin Preston <Martin.Preston(at)>


Bring back the Goat. Coppell (what a great manager) doesn’t seem to be playing him. Our forwards aren’t playing for us. Let’s have someone who cares. Chant on the terraces. Unfurl the flags. We want the Goat back.

And while were at it, can we have Ali back as well? Play Barton, Reyna and Bosvelt in midfield to mind him and do his running and let the magician go to work. Sweep and Greatest Of All Time up front. At least it will bring a smile back to all our faces.

Simon Clarke <simbadiow(at)>


To all those who have expressed the opinion that Berkovic should be in the team, could someone please explain why?

Berkovic doesn’t want to play for us anymore, oh sorry I forgot, he changed his mind and he does now ’cause Portsmouth wouldn’t or couldn’t afford his transfer fee and wages. If Berkovic wants to convince the fans and more importantly Keegan that his future is at Eastlands then perhaps he should be proving a point in the reserves. Sadly this has not happened; from all reports he has been going through the motions, appearing disinterested etc. and taken a leaf out of Anelka’s book.

If Berkovic is as good as some opinions would have us believe then we will see how many clubs come in for him when the transfer window opens in January.

[Not from my viewing of the reserves, Andrew, Berko is making every effort but still not being selected – Ed]

Andrew Cummings <andrew(at)>


Some of you might enjoy reading this epic from the Singapore press regarding the recent match in Salford. Please note we will be at Changi Village again at 3am on Tuesday morning for more punishment!

By ALVIN CHUA – (New Paper) Singapore (The New Paper is like a posh version of the Sun)

Now I know it’s fashionable in Singapore to have a thing for Premiership glamour-pusses Manchester United. But as a Singaporean, I can’t help but feel a certain empathy for the Blue half of Manchester. After all, there are so many similarities between being a City fan and a Singapore fan, a point reinforced to me after spending Saturday night at the Bambooze Pub at Changi Village with the beer flowing freely and the Manchester derby on television. The Bambooze is a Manchester City haven and I was sharing the place with a handful of City diehards, allied with the Anything But Man Utd brigade and shouting down the odd stray Red. There’s the pessimism born of constant failure. “Have you come to watch us suffer then?” asks engineering manager Michael Keogh before the match. Yep, sounds like something a Lions’ fan would say. There’s the anguish of conceding a goal before the first pint’s downed, as Paul Scholes heads United in front after seven minutes. “Get in the game, what are you doing?” yells Steven Burt, who is in the seismic business. “Score a bloody goal, just score a bloody goal please.” An agonized call Singapore fans often make. Ruud Van Nistelrooy makes it two in the 34th minute and dark mutterings about the City defence emerge even as the Bambooze regulars retreat painfully to their beers. I hate them so much it’s unbelievable, growls Burt.

And of course, there’s the brief flowering of hope after Shaun Wright-Phillips pulls it back to 2-1 after 51 minutes. “Come on Blue boys, we love you City, we do,” Burt sings his bead off. You won’t get this at the “Sad Cafe”, this is real passion! But Scholes hammers the nail in the coffin 17 minutes from the end with his second goal, and it’s heads in hands time again for the City faithful ~ a position Singapore fans are all too familiar with.

All we’re left with, hapless City and Singapore followers, is the release of launching a tirade of abuse at the opposition’s best players (who are by the way, all a bunch of whinging *****). “There’s not a lot of good about supporting City,” said Keogh. “But in Manchester where I’m from, it’s down to your dad. My dad was a Blue and I’m a Blue no matter what. No matter what they put us through, no matter that it’s a nightmare at times supporting City, I can’t change.” Of the passion in the face of all reason for a mediocre team that binds the City and Singapore faithful, Burt said at half-time: “You’re right, supporting City and supporting Singapore is very similar. There’s just no hope.” But seconds later, the eternal optimism of a fan emerges. “Stick around,” says Burt to our photographer Hedy Khoo. “We might score two, you never know.” It ends 3-1 at Old Trafford though and we’re left with the almost inevitable depression after City’s fifth match without a win. Bambooze staff including Connie Vengar, who runs the pub with husband Arun, go around comforting the downcast Blues. Said Vengar: “These City fans have been our backbone since our pub opened almost two years ago. They’ve become our friends and I never get to watch television anymore because the football’s always on! I remember once Steven came running out of a cab barefoot after being kicked out of his house for making too much noise during the last derby at Maine Road. He ran in here and said to Arun: ‘Please tell me the City match is on the TV!’ City won that day and they’ve been coming here since.” “The most important thing about choosing a pub to watch the match in is finding some place where we can be away from Man Utd fans,” said Keogh. “There’s just too many fair weather Man Utd fans in Singapore. All those guys wearing Blackburn jerseys back in 1995 wearing jerseys with Vodafone on them now.” And of course, it’s a place to share in your misery with fellow B1ues, moan about City’s wretched defence and recent loss of form. “I just don’t know what’s wrong with City, apart from the fact that Shaunny Wright-Phillips is our best player and David Seaman is our biggest mistake,” groans Burt after the match. “They were playing so well at the start of the season it’s all gone downhill since.” Keogh reckons the money flooding around the English game is to blame. “Guys like Robbie Fowler earn 60,000 pounds a week, what motivation has he got?” But of course, Keogh and Burt and all the other City diehards will be back at the Bambooze next time to watch when the Blues are on television. Even Keogh’s parting shot draws the depressing similarities between Manchester City and Singapore even closer. “Yes, there’s always next game, always next season. nothing changes,” sighs the Englishman.

Stephen Burt (<sjburt(at)>


As someone who follows our team in recent years largely via TV coverage, I do feel justified in criticising various decisions or performances. However, I certainly cannot have a go at our wonderful supporters for not singing enough or getting behind our team at home games from the comfort of my Mediterranean sundrenched lounge.

As a first time contributor (but reader for a number of years) I want to thank all the MCIVTA for their great work in keeping so many fans up to date with all the news and gossip.

Michael Leon <nevileon(at)>


Hi there Man. City fans. Click on the link below to check out my odds-n-sods webpage and download…

  1. ** NEW IMPROVED ** version of “Man City progress spread-sheet”
  2. ** NOW ** with depressing GRAPHS!
  3. ** WATCH ** as their early-season promise turns into ** MID-TABLE MEDIOCRITY **, and
  4. ** PROJECT ** how it could all turn into ** RELEGATION MELODRAMA **

Just fill in the scores and watch it happen before your very eyes. It’s more exciting than watching them play! Hours of endless pain… (it’s very small; about 70kb, requires MS Excel) or similar. updated 15th Dec. 2003. If you like it, tell your mates…

Mark Vincent <caegwyntog(at)>


League table to 17 December 2003 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  6  2  0 13  6  5  3  0 17  5 11  5  0  30  11  19  38
 2 Manchester Utd  16  7  1  1 21  5  5  0  2 11  5 12  1  3  32  10  22  37
 3 Chelsea         16  6  1  1 17  7  5  2  1 13  5 11  3  2  30  12  18  36
 4 Fulham          16  4  2  2 14 10  3  2  3 14 12  7  4  5  28  22   6  25
 5 Newcastle Utd   16  4  3  2 14  5  2  3  2 11 15  6  6  4  25  20   5  24
 6 Southampton     16  4  1  3  8  6  2  4  2  7  6  6  5  5  15  12   3  23
 7 Charlton Ath.   16  2  2  3  9 12  4  3  2 13  8  6  5  5  22  20   2  23
 8 Birmingham City 16  2  3  3  6 11  4  2  2  8  7  6  5  5  14  18  -4  23
 9 Liverpool       16  3  1  4 12 11  3  3  2 11  7  6  4  6  23  18   5  22
10 Bolton Wndrs    16  2  4  1  7  4  3  2  4  9 18  5  6  5  16  22  -6  21
11 Middlesbrough   16  2  3  4  6 10  3  2  2  6  5  5  5  6  12  15  -3  20
12 Manchester City 16  2  2  3 12 10  3  2  4 11 12  5  4  7  23  22   1  19
13 Tottenham H.    16  4  1  3 13 11  1  2  5  5 13  5  3  8  18  24  -6  18
14 Blackburn R.    16  3  0  4 11 11  2  2  5 12 14  5  2  9  23  25  -2  17
15 Everton         16  3  3  2 11  7  1  2  5  6 13  4  5  7  17  20  -3  17
16 Aston Villa     16  4  3  1 10  7  0  2  6  4 16  4  5  7  14  23  -9  17
17 Leicester City  16  2  4  3 12 12  2  0  5 11 13  4  4  8  23  25  -2  16
18 Portsmouth      16  4  0  4 16 10  0  4  4  2 12  4  4  8  18  22  -4  16
19 Leeds United    16  2  3  4  9 15  2  0  5  7 21  4  3  9  16  36 -20  15
20 Wolves          16  2  3  2  7 14  0  2  7  6 21  2  5  9  13  35 -22  11

With thanks to Football 365

MCIVTA FAQ [v0304.06]

[0] MCIVTA Addresses

Articles (Heidi Pickup) :
News/rumour (Don Barrie) :
Subscriptions (Madeleine Hawkins):
Technical problems (Paul) :
FAQ (David Warburton) :

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

The GMR pre and post match phone-in is available on the web at

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

[7] 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. Useful sites for North American viewers are,, and also provides a guide to pubs in the USA showing football.

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

It’s actually a mix of two tracks. It starts with “O Verona” (from the motion picture “William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet”) and leads in to “Barber’s Adagio for Strings (Ferry Corsten remix)” by William Orbit. The first part is available on the movie soundtrack (volume 2) and the second is included on a variety of CDs such as Kiss House Nation 2000, Galaxy Hit Mix, Cream Live, Ibiza Chill and Dance Nation 4.

[9] 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

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

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

[11] Can I buy shares in the club?

Yes you can: Shares in Manchester City PLC are traded on OFEX. The latest prices can be on found the OFEX web site (registration required) or in the business section of the Manchester Evening News.

[12] Where can I find match statistics?

Statistics for the current season are available from the club site, but for a more in-depth analysis try or

[13] Acknowledgements

Thanks go to Damian Quinn, Stephen Webb, Roger Haigh, Martin Price, and Adrian Howarth for the Satellite TV info.

The views expressed in MCIVTA are entirely those of the subscribersand there is no intention to represent these opinions as being thoseof Manchester City Football Club, nor of any of the companies anduniversities by whom the subscribers are employed. It is not inany way whatsoever connected to the club or any other relatedorganisation and is simply a group of supporters using this mediumas a means of disseminating news and exchanging opinions.

[Valid3.2]Heidi Pickup,

Newsletter #977