Newsletter #978

A hard slog last night to get a point from a pretty dire game and performance against a dire opposition. Fortunately Sibierski has probably reminded people of his capabilities and will get a starting berth sometime soon.

Tonight we have a match view, thanks to Dave, opinion on the current predicament (no win in 8 if you need reminding) and what ought to be done. Oh to be a football manager!

McV will be taking a Christmas break and returning in the New Year. A very happy Christmas to everyone out there. Thanks too everyone for their contributions over the year and to the McV team of Paul, Don, Mads and Dave doing a sterling job and those stand-in editors, – and here’s hoping for some more passion and points from the pitch please.

Next games: Birmingham City, away, 3pm Friday 26th December 2003
Liverpool, home, 3pm Sunday 28th December 2003


Well, you could either take the view that we were desperately unlucky or that we don’t have any strikers capable of scoring. Apparently we had about 2/3rds of the possession and about 25% of the play was in the Leeds defensive zone and we had 15 shots to Leeds 3. Yet for the best part of an hour we looked as though we going to lose and were grateful for a point at the end. I guess that the statistics in the Middlesbrough game were even more stark and probably those for the home Groclin game were similar. Bad luck or bad play?

Anelka played very well – for about 5 minutes just before half-time – for the rest of the game he was anonymous. Given all that possession and attacking play he can’t complain about lack of service. Fowler – at the moment he just can’t shoot straight.

KK admits that he is not a master tactician and relies on heart rather than head but in my view he has made two tactical selection errors in the last two games. The first was not playing Wiekens against Von Nettletop and the second was not playing Macken against Leeds. My rationale for the second statement is that, since the departure of Goater, Macken is the only penalty area goal poacher we have – so in games where we have midfield dominance and much of the play is around the opponents’ penalty area then we should play Macken. When we are unlikely to dominate midfield and need forwards to create opportunities for themselves from 30 metres or so then (on form) Anelka, Fowler and Wanchope (or even Huckerby) are the forwards of choice. Good tactical managers select their teams to suit the sort of game they expect and to play almost the same team against Manure and Leeds indicates a lack of tactical nous. KK is still my manager for City but he needs to find (or perhaps listen to) a good tactician if he is to progress beyond where we are now.

Reyna was 100% improvement on Sinclair – so just about OK. McManaman played well for about three or four five minute spells but for the rest of the time could have been sitting on the bench. The rest played quite well (David Sommeil’s mistake to allow Viduka to score was tragic and unexplicable and he wouldn’t be my first choice but you can’t blame him for the basic failure of the front two to put the game beyond Leeds) and there was undoubtedly a lot more desire from all the team. A special word for my favourite Sun Jihai – the goal came when he put in his n’th cross into the penalty area – a hopeless cause with our normal strikers – but this time Sibierski headed a fine goal. Watch how he is always available to help out players in midfield and how rarely he gives the ball away in positions that allow a counter attack. True he is not a natural defender but he rarely gives up. Managed properly he could be our greatest asset – let him practice lots of free kicks and he could be another David B.

Referee Graham Barber had very little to do and did it very badly – even contriving to lose control of the game towards the end.

So a better game than those of late but are we unlucky or inept? Probably a bit of both!

Have a Good Christmas and let’s hope City do too.

David Lewis <dfl(at)>


We City supporters must always look at the world through blue-tinted lenses – how else could we survive? Yet we should, in our own interest, take a hard look at the quality – or its absence – in the current team. We do not have many exceptional talents playing for us right now, but we do have some well-known names – Seaman, Fowler, McManaman and Anelka perhaps the most prominent. However, most of our players would not be instantly known as City players (well, maybe Dunney, but more for his exploits off the field than on it – unfair, but that’s what sells newspapers). To be truthful, the current City team can best be described as a mixture of journeymen professionals, some with Premiership abilities, others without, and players who are living on past reputations, which may or may not be deserved. In many ways the current team is not substantially different to any other City team in recent years.

Going back as far as those dreary days in the Second Division, we have had very few players consistently capable of turning a match – Benarbia and The Goat come to mind immediately, but not many others. Some “stars”, including Berkovic, have flickered briefly and then faded. Neither Fowler nor McManaman has achieved even this. Yet an individual footballer’s failure to reach the heights should not be a major problem in a truly professional team. The real problem is that our team – especially the alleged superstars – is not delivering even to the basic standards that you would expect from a team of journeyman professionals.

Take a look at some other journeyman teams. Start with Charlton. How many players would be well known? Possibly Holland and Kiely, through their international careers, and, of course, Di Canio. But what about Parker, Stuart, Hreidarsson and Kishishev? Hardly household names or outstanding talents. Try Bolton, who are out-performing City with such superstars (no disrespect intended) like Gardner, Campo and Nolan, along with the better-known Okocha and Djorkaeff. Or Fulham, or Birmingham, or Middlesbrough, where much the same thing applies. The question is why are teams with players of similar quality as City (journeyman) performing better than we are?

It is difficult to avoid coming to the conclusion that the problem must lie in management. One hesitates to draw example from the Red Plague, but after their annihilation at Maine Road last year Old Mottle-face tore lumps out of his team over their lack of effort, and there was no need to repeat the dose. We put in a dozy, lacklustre, sleepwalking performance against Leicester a few weeks ago, and what happened immediately after the match? Nothing much, as far as we know, followed by four more Premiersip losses and one draw, not to mention an exit from European football. Any comparison of the aftermaths of the derby game at Maine Road and the game at COMS against Leicester clearly shows the motivational skills of the respective managers, and, perhaps more importantly, the ability of the players to be motivated.

The Goat’s favourite defender (guess who) testified to the motivational power of being dropped in the Sunday Times yesterday. Being put on a transfer list might be even more motivational for some of our under-performing “stars”. There is a Transfer Window coming up soon. KK should use it. Let him use his head, not his heart when he does so. There is nothing to be gained by his being loyal to players who are unwilling or unable to perform for the club. If he does not get this straightened out then he will ultimately pay the price himself.

Tony O’Leary <aoleary(at)>


There is only one solution to City’s current plight. Keegan must go.

I don’t care if we were playing Barry Town in the Welsh Miners under 13’s amateur league 5 years ago. He has taken us as far as his abilities will allow. No longer will a simple “come on lads” suffice as pre-match team talk. The Premier League requires tactics. The First Division you can get promoted with better players and no defence. Not in this league.

Keegan proved with England that he had no idea tactically and I have seen nothing to change my mind. The defence shows absolutely no signs of improvement. When we are losing he shows no inclination or ability to change the tactics to alter the game. Every week he looks more and more like a man devoid of ideas. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we didn’t buy Trevor Sinclair to cross a ball with his left foot. Maybe we gave Chris Shuker another contract because we like loaning him out at great expense. Maybe Sinclair will learn to use his left foot when he reaches 35 and the last year of his lucrative contract. Hell, maybe Anelka might even learn to play off the last defender and use his pace to terrify defences like he did years ago. But even if he did he seems incapable of actually kicking the ball properly and always scuffs his shots. Only Joey Barton and Sweep show any signs of improving as players. The other best player we have is Reyna but KK drops him!

Anelka keeps coming deep and playing with his back to goal. Every time we break from midfield Anelka runs towards his own player and congests the play and prevents our midfielders from having an out ball so we just end up giving it away. Week after week after week it’s the same old stupid mistakes. When he plays off the last man and makes good runs we look dangerous. But he seems to have a phobia about actually setting foot in the box.

Keegan doesn’t even try switching the two wingers occasionally during the match. Even against Boro and their pitiful attack we still played with a flat back four marking one man. Pathetic.

And if we sign Dudek I’m sending my season ticket back.

I’m sick of throwing away the club’s future on old players who are worthless. We have no kids coming through and even if we did KK wouldn’t give them a chance. Vuoso, Macken, Fowler, Anelka. That’s a lot of money on a load of c**p. Arthur Cox even had to convince KK that Barton was good enough.

All the rest of our dwindling resources were spent on midfielders that we didn’t need and are now resentful that they can’t get into the team. The defence and ‘keeper are still pitifully short. Five players short to be precise.

Every week I go and see the same old c**p and no sign of improvement. No ideas from the manager and no passion from the players who have obviously lost faith in an incompetent boss. How about he stops chopping and changing the team all the time? How about wining two games in a row?

If you take away 3 last minute goals in the first few games of the season and we’d be in the bottom four. Top 4? No bloody chance!

I tell you now that KK will resign leaving this club with massive debts, an aged, worthless squad and no youth policy. And I can’t wait for him to go.

As I did in my last email, I’ll leave you with KK’s last words when he resigned from The England job. It still stands today.

‘I just haven’t been quite good enough. The effort has been there – I could not have asked more from the lads – but I have not been able to find that little bit extra that you need to find to win important matches at this level.’

Marc <mstarbuck(at)>


Well I’ll be very brief.

When we deserve to lose, we lose. When we deserve to win, we don’t. What can I say, hopefully we’ll stay up!

Vanes Marzaroli <vanesmarzaroli(at)>


As a trial, blocks 213 and 113 will be dedicated singing corners for the Leicester game, following an initiative by the Atmosphere Action Group. Citycard holders can just ask for seats there (or S.T. holders who haven’t yet booked). S.T. holders who have booked would have to ask to transfer.

[Hmmm. A good initiative or embarrassing idea, what do you think – Ed]

Steve Paris <s.parish17(at)>


We love City, this much is true
So let’s try a little harder and that will pull us through
I had to work on Saturday so I missed the bl**dy match
I had to listen to the radio, which was a reddish shade of blue

They said we’re not consistent but I disagree, don’t you?
‘Cause we’ve always been quite dodgy, it’s a part of being Blue
When Campo scored for Bolton to make the score 4-2
I remember looking round at the clock, don’t you?

For all the fans at Stamford bridge who shelled out 42 quid
At least they came off the pitch with their heads up
No points but some pride and their ‘keeper earned his money
As I walked home from the match a couple of lads (Russian I think)
Said we robbed you of a point I think they got it just about right
I took the opportunity to ask where they put their knees while watching the game?

Then we went to Loftus Road, there were loads of ooh and ahs
And they gave us some problems but SWP sorted them out and that little used striker
You know who I mean did what strikers do – he scored! A goal!
Now you might have thought that he would have got a start at St Mary’s?
KK knows better eh love? Right ma!
Then we went the shape of a pear
Is it too much to ask that we play a simple game of footie?

P.S. I read that KK is thinking of offering my little pony tail another contract
Well he says he does not want to upset spunky by looking at a replacement
Well f**k me Kev does that mean that a past it goalie means more to you than City?
Stuff Seaman, put City first; seems to me that the Arse knew more than they were letting on.
Night Night hope we do Leeds.

Judge, James <James.Judge(at)>


From Simon Clarke in MCIVTA 977

“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.”

Erm, Simon. Coppell maybe has a hidden agenda and maybe isn’t a great manager but even I don’t blame him for not playing Shaun Goater at the moment. The simple fact is – the Goat is injured and will be out until early in the New Year.

Leanne Bird <leannebird(at)>


Regardless of what our current team do, or not do, this evening to Leeds, our seasonal cheer is complete!

As a result of our reprinted pieces, there has been a wonderful twist in the search for our mutual friend, Malcolm Flitcroft. As I wrote, a couple of weeks ago, Malcolm had not been seen since we last met in the early seventies, in that old curiosity shop that was Maine Road. Thanks to the intervention of Maria Handley, who provided the breakthrough in this ongoing Tale of Two Cities, Manchester and Rotterdam, we now have great expectations for a re-union sometime in the New Year.

Our search had taken nearly five years to locate Malcolm, and to find him now on the very eve of Christmas, well it’s the sort of tale that Christmas stories are made of!

A most happy christmas and a more successful new year to the sky blue brethren. Blue moon over Holland too.

Many thanks again Maria, for taking the trouble and enabling City fans to get together.

[Good news indeed Dave – Ed]

Dave Lyons <davelyons(at)>


Could you be the next Kevin Keegan? Answer these questions and see how you fare.

1. Your team hasn’t won a trophy for 27 years. They are top of the Premiership by a clear twelve points with 15 games to go. It’s in the bag, but just to make sure you sign a South American flair player to bolster your squad. Do you:

a) Put him on the bench, or tell him to bide his time, as your team hasn’t got this far in front for nothing. If injuries take a hold by all means bring him in.
b) Slap him straight in to the side 24 hours after he gets off the plane, drop a player for the rest of the season who had been playing out of his skin, when results start to go wrong because of this individual severely disrupting the team pattern and morale of the staff, still persevere with the said striker because he is a great player after all, and when the Championship is thrown away, appear mystified as to where it all went wrong.

2. You have been appointed as manager for England, but after a disappointing home defeat you think you may not be the man for the job. Do you:

a) Remember it’s only 15 minutes after the final whistle and emotions are running high, and that come the next morning, you may realise it was a knee jerk reaction. In any case it’s only three days before a vital World Cup Qualifier, and to resign would obviously send the whole camp into disarray.
b) Storm up to the nearest TV interviewer, tell him you’re a s**t manager, resign and leave the camp in disarray, then watch mystified from a distance as the said team draws against a bunch of village idiots.

3. Your team is doing well in the Premiership, they are scoring goals, and the midfield is looking better than it has done for a long while. Do you:

a) Stick with a winning side, recognise the players that you are playing, are doing the business, and leave well alone.
b) Sign a winger from the greatest club in the world, who has started ten games in three years, put him in centre midfield where he has never started before despite the fact that you have all of 97 midfielders vying for spots already, then when you realise he has all the incisive forward passing vision of Jamie Pollock, still insist that it is his best position and all will turn out well in the end.

4. Despite much advice to the contrary you have signed a striker who used to be known as one of the best in the country, yet after 30 odd games he has bagged a mere five goals. Your team has scored two in eight games, and things are getting desperate. Do you:

a) Give the lad a break as he’s had enough chances, and bring in your £5.5 million striker from the reserves, who has been banging them in, and has exactly the type of game that is required to support your £12 million sulky striker.
b) Eternally exempt the lad from criticism, say he has “been magnificent for me”, occasionally spell him with a lanky streak of p**s who would trip over a wandering ant, and when neither of them ever look like scoring say “my reserve striker will get a chance, but I feel the lads in the team are doing great for me at the moment, so they deserve a little more time”, all this despite saying at the beginning of the season that you need six strikers and they will all be spelled at the right time.

5. You have a striker who has been out on loan, and by all accounts is playing magnificently. The striker, although being accepted as somewhat of a free spirit, and inconsistent, has nevertheless scored 32 goals in 53 games. No mean feat. Do you:

a) Give the lad a couple of games to see how he fares, as the current strikers are well off form, and if he doesn’t hack it well, yeah, that’s fair enough.
b) Send him packing before his feet has touched the ground for a nominal fee.

6. For a considerable amount of time you have become known as “defensively na