Newsletter #999

Tonight’s issue sees news on internationals, reserve success, ex-Blues and possible moves. We have Gav’s match report on the 3-1 win against Bury in the week, some excellent news on Uwe’s return, suggestions for Sunday, a host of requests and the essential pre-derby humour.

The team, and fans, are in full preparation for Sunday’s derby game after a two week break. Bring it on.

We will be back on Monday with the anniversary issues, and hope we’re also celebrating a resounding victory.

Next game: Manchester United, home, 2pm Sunday 14 March 2004 (TV)


Nico News

Can I Play Now? It must be a quiet news week, because the media yet again returned to the “Bring Back Nico” campaign. Thankfully, this saga may be reaching a conclusion. According to some reports, Nicolas Anelka is set to meet up with France manager Jacques Santini regarding a possible return to the national side in time for the European Championship Finals this summer. Anelka recently hinted that he would love a return to the national set-up, and following conversations with Lilian Thuram and Patrick Vieira, he has made the first steps to a compromise. It has been reported that Anelka has spoken to Santini in a brief yet positive telephone conversation, and the pair will meet up shortly in an attempt to resolve their differences. Thierry Henry would also like to see his old mate return to the French national team. “I know Nicolas and I know what a shame it is for his career that he is not in the national team,” Henry said. “For a player of his ability not to be serving his country at international level is a total waste both for himself and for the manager. I don’t know what is going to happen but I hope they are going to sort it out between him and the coach. Things look quite good.” (An honourable mention for the headline writers at the Sunday Mail, for the banner “NIC’S KNEEL INJURY”, referring to Nico’s belief that Santini had to kneel down and apologise to the striker for leaving him out. Owzat for a good ‘un?)

I Love This Club: Here’s another Nico story which I sincerely hope has not been mistranslated. He wants to stay with City next season, despite this term’s alarming slump in form. “I have never played in a side that has been so far down their League at this stage of the season,” Anelka said. “I played one season in Paris and it was difficult but not like this. But I think everything will be OK for us as we are playing good football. And I think we will play better and better and will win again quite soon. I am very happy here and want to stay. I have a contract with Manchester City and I am playing for them at the moment and next season I think I will still be with this club. I have always felt that the fans have been behind me. I am happy here and whatever they say in the newspapers I really don’t care. I am happy to play with City and I think I will be here next season.”

General News

Semi Enthusiasm: Club Secretary Bernard Halford has revealed this week that City put in a late bid to host one of this season’s FA Cup semi-finals. “Football Association officials visited the ground on Monday as part of the build-up to the June tournament and we told them there would be no problem hosting a semi-final here,” said Halford. “Instead of using plastic tickets as we do at the moment, we can adjust the system to cater for paper tickets for a one-off game. If the FA wish to use Eastlands for a semi-final, it would be available to them.” Unfortunately the Powers that Be bowled City a bit of a beamer, as the semis will be played at Villa Park and Old Trafford. There has also been a knock on effect for City’s scheduled visit to play Villa on Saturday April 3. The Reds of North London and Trafford will be using Villa Park on that day, so City’s match has been postponed, with a date yet to be announced.

Groclin Gone: Remember Groclin from Poland? The tactical geniuses that brought a swift end to City’s UEFA Cup campaign? They found Bordeaux a sterner test in the next round. As Friday’s line on the Reuters sports news put it – “Bordeaux crushed Poland’s Groclin Grodzisk 4-1 for a 5-1 aggregate success.”

Another Final for the Reserves: City Reserves beat Bury 3-1 on Tuesday to secure a place in the final of the Manchester Senior Cup. Goals from Chris Shuker, Nedum Onuoha and Bradley Wright Phillips put the Blues through to their fourth consecutive final. Paulo Wanchope played for an hour, and KK was pleased with his Costa Rican striker. “Paulo’s a true pro, he looked very, very good. We will have to have a look at him with a view to playing on Sunday,” remarked the Boss.
Team: Manchester City: Ellegaard, Flood, Collins, Onouha, McCarthy, Jordan, Croft, Tiatto, Elliott (Tandy 83), Wanchope (Wright-Phillips 62), Shuker.
Subs: Timms, Lee-Matthews, Smith.

Transfer News and Gossip

Ramzi: City have been linked with a move for PSV Eindhoven winger Adil Ramzi, according to Dutch newspaper Tubantia. The Moroccan international is currently on loan at fellow Eredivisie side FC Twente, where he has made 21 appearances this term. The African star is set to return to the Philips Stadion at the end of the campaign but he has yet to convince boss Guus Hiddink of his talents, making just two substitute appearances under him last season. KK has been linked with Twente players in the past, notably Blaise N’Kufo and Collins John, but the City boss could be ready to swoop for Ramzi in the summer should he be told he has no future at PSV. [Thanks to B. Reidy]

Have A Nice Day! Sunday’s sports tabloids carried news that Macca could be off to the land of the Big Mac at the end of the season. The Sunday People said that New York/New Jersey MetroStars were planning a swoop for Steve McManaman in the summer. US sources suggest New York/New Jersey can use some of their spending allocation banked by the sale of Tim Howard and Clint Mathis to fund an ambitious move for the 32-year-old. General Manager of the Metrostars, Nick Sakiewicz remained non-committal when quizzed about a possible Macca move. “There are any number of great players we would love to have,” he said. “But I can’t say we’re further down the road with McManaman than any other player whose name has been mentioned.”

Ex-Blues’ News

Gio Progresses: Bolton Wanderers are making positive noises about Gio Kinkladze, provided the jinking Georgian genius can improve his fitness. Kinky played his third reserve game for Bolton in their 3-2 win over Newcastle last week, and is expected to turn out for the second string against Wolves next week and, after that, Bolton’s manager Sam Allardyce is likely to decide whether to sign him permanently. “Giorgi played the full game against Newcastle and is coming along nicely,” said Bolton’s first-team coach Neil MacDonald. “He is getting fitter by the day and would like to stay here long-term.” Allardyce said: “He’s doing okay but he has been out of the game that long that I don’t think it would be reasonable to think he could play any part this season. Georgi wouldn’t be fit enough to compete at Premiership level. He would need to go through a full pre-season of six to eight or ten weeks because he hasn’t had one. He is a player without a contract so he could turn out for us tomorrow if we wanted him to.”

Dickov Arrested: At the time of writing, Paul Dickov is in a Spanish prison, along with two of his Leicester City colleagues. The players have spent a week in jail on the orders of a Spanish judge pending further investigation of allegations that they sexually assaulted three women at a resort hotel. Dickov, Frank Sinclair and Keith Gillespie were remanded in custody at a court hearing in Cartagena in south-eastern Spain on Friday. They were expected to be sent to the provincial prison of Sangonera in Murcia. The three players are accused of sexual assault, breaking and entering and failure to provide assistance by three women who said a group of men broke into their hotel room and sexually assaulted them. Tim Davies, the club’s chief executive, said after the court hearing: “We are working with legal representatives to secure the release of the remaining three players. We are very confident in the Spanish legal process, we are also very confident of the innocence of our players and we hope they will be returning to England very shortly.” If they are found guilty of sexual assault they face a maximum 12-year prison sentence under Spanish law.

Whatever Happened To… You wouldn’t say it was City’s “Golden Age”, but a name from the 90’s popped out of last week’s Nationwide League reports. Cardiff City lost 1-0 to Coventry, after having their goalkeeper Martyn Margetson (for it is he) sent off. Thanks to David Blyth for finding the following snippet: “Cardiff goalkeeper Martyn Margetson wants to end his career with the Ninian Park outfit. The 33-year-old’s current two-year contract runs out in the summer, but he is keen to stay. ‘I would love to finish my career here, no doubt about it,’ said Margetson. ‘It’s on my mind that my contract will run out and it’s a situation which I would like to see resolved sooner rather than later. I understand that it’s up to the club to decide when to open talks about my contract. But if I can stay in the side and keep performing consistently, then the ball is in my court and I can prove I am worth a new contract.'”

Squad News

Home, James! The most important piece of squad news this week is that David James, tired of being mistaken for Shane Warne, has grown out his blond perm. No wait, there must be something better than that, David James says that there is no trouble with the atmosphere in the COMS. “The fact that we haven’t won at home for so long is a great source of frustration but it is not as though we have been playing badly. In fact it has been quite the reverse, particularly against Chelsea in our last outing. People said to me that prior to moving to City from West Ham that there was an issue with the atmosphere at the new stadium because what was formerly a singing bank had been spread throughout the ground but that has not been the case in my experience. The atmosphere against Chelsea was terrific and I can tell the fans that the team will try and use that to our advantage to spur us on. It really helps when you have that level of support. Their backing has been incredible over the bad run of results but they watch us every week and know that we have not been playing that badly and that makes a difference. Even though we lost to Chelsea there were far more positives than negatives to take out of the game. With the same sort of approach for the rest of the season we have nothing to be fearful about and plenty of reason to be positive and to look forward to the games.”

Shuker Wins the Pools? Chris Shuker’s loan spell at Hartlepool United may be over, but their manager Neale Cooper would like to make Shuker a permanent deal at Victoria Park. The 21-year-old winger’s contract with City expires in the summer and he has been told by KK that he will not be offered a renewal. Cooper said, “We need to sit down and talk with Chris and Man City. It’s something I have to think about and I will do it in the next few days,” Cooper told the Northern Echo. “I’ll do what I think is right for this football club. At the moment I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’ve briefly spoken to him and his agent. If a player wants to come to us then we’ll try our utmost to keep him, but it’s up to him and if he doesn’t come then it’s up to him.”

Shaun’s Little Big Brother: Bradley Wright-Phillips has begun to establish himself in the Reserves in recent times, and elder brother Shaun is not surprised at his brother’s progress. “Ever since we were little kids playing in the street or at the local park we have always dreamt of being in the Premiership together,” said Shaun. “It would be absolutely incredible if we were able to do that and I know it would make mum the proudest woman in the country. She talks about it more than we do!” Asked to summarise his brother’s skills, SWP added: “He has more tricks in his locker and has a decent eye for goal. He has always been a decent player from our days on the school field. I think it has taken a while for other people to see what I have seen but Bradley is coming along fast at the moment and doing well in the reserves. Bradley is most effective in the final third and is decent at holding the ball up and he loves scoring goals. At his age now I would say he is as good as I was back then. In fact he might have a bit more to his game. I am hoping his form continues to improve because then we would be at the stage where we no longer would be talking about the dream of playing together at the highest club level but actually doing it. We don’t give each other grief about our football and the way we might have played in a game. When we are together we are just normal brothers. We try and keep away from football all the time and enjoy our social life. Hopefully City will nurture Bradley and look after him the way they did me. Everyone develops at different speeds and he is starting to come on a bomb now. I am sure when he gets to train with the players I have the privilege to train with then people will see him shine even more because the lads will bring even more out of him and help him in the same way they have with me. He can learn and get better and better.”

Derby Day Blues Preview News

Derby Débutantes: See the power of MCIVTA? To celebrate our issue no. 1,000, the Premiership kindly stages the first home derby match at the COMS on Sunday (well, almost!). Jon Macken is yet to play against the team where he began his career as a junior, and is rather keen to start. “You always want to be a part of it and be on the pitch, and it does get hard when you are watching from the sidelines,” said the striker. “I suppose it did cross my mind at times about going out on loan and getting some playing time elsewhere. But I never seriously considered it, as I always wanted to stay and fight for my place. It’s down to me to get in the team and score the goals, and if I do that it will be hard for anyone to take my shirt. I have never played against United and I am desperate to play next week. I have been in the squad twice for City and was on the bench for the FA Cup game last month but never got on. I’ve just never quite made it against them. So I’m really hoping that I will get picked. I hope I can go on and get a few goals now and help the team out of the problem we are in,” he added. “I suppose Robbie and I are just two centre forwards trying to make a living and hopefully we can get a bit of a partnership going. Sometimes you wonder when the chance will come but never believe it won’t happen. You have to stay patient. It’s unfortunate for Nicolas, but I have just got to take my chance now.” Another potential derby débutant is born-again brunette David James. “I am looking forward to my first Manchester derby, I really am,” he said. “Having been involved in Midlands, London and Merseyside derbies I know what they are all about. From a fans’ perspective these games are everything and the players recognise that. I wasn’t able to play in the last game at Old Trafford but I was fortunate enough to do a bit of television work on the day and had to drive through the fans to get to the stadium. It was obvious there was great anticipation and that it was a special occasion. This is the first derby at our new stadium so it should be extra special. I am sure there will be a few families around with torn loyalties.” [Not in my family, I assure you Dave!]

A Change is Gonna Come: Experienced full back Michael Tarnat is optimistic ahead of the Sunday showdown. “We hope we can win and I think we have a good chance this time. Our performances at the moment are good and that is one of the reasons why I believe we can win. A couple of days before the game I will be thinking about it and will often play the game in my head. I will think about the opposing players and how to play. I am aware how important this first derby at the new stadium is for our supporters. We have a good chance to win. The derbies in Germany when I played there were much the same. Bayern Munich were the favourites and Munich 1860 were the underdogs. I suppose you could say United are the big team in this situation and we are the underdogs. But we have nothing to lose and if we play to our best then we have a good chance to win. Before we played at Old Trafford I thought the derby would be the same in every way to the ones in Germany. But when I went on the pitch to warm up and I heard the fans and felt the atmosphere it was just amazing. It was a big stadium in which I played in Munich but there is a running track and so the fans were not so close and the atmosphere not as good. We did not give our best performance in that game we did not remain compact in defence and our attack was not working that well. But against Bolton and Chelsea we played well in all areas of the park and that is the reason we have a good chance to win the derby. I have a friend who is a United supporter and he is more nervous than I am at the moment.” Assistant manager Arthur Cox senses a good feeling about the squad: “At the moment with it being such a vital game in terms of a local derby and the first time that we will have played United in our new stadium, everyone wants to be involved. Everyone is up, everyone is ready and everyone wants to be involved in this game. That is the feeling that comes across on the training ground, and it is only midweek.” Let’s just hope that there’s a reverse swing in the trend of this season’s derby results.

Don Barrie <news(at)>


City’s final round robin game against Bury at Hyde in the revised format of the Senior Cup (due to the inclusion of Bolton in the competition) meant that the usual outcome of a victory over our Gigg Lane neighbours took us on into our fourth consecutive final, with our opponents this time being Manchester United, probably sometime in May. The final scoreline of three-one to City was really quite predictable and goals from Chris Shuker, Nedum Onuoha and Bradley Wright-Phillips sealed Bury’s fate on the night, though they did level the scores at one-one in the first half thanks to Bury’s loanee from Preston, Chris Porter.

City started brightly and nearly went in front in the first minute, when a Lee Croft cross fell to Shuker and he played a one two with Stephen Elliott allowing Chris to volley on goal, but Bury’s vociferous goalkeeper, Lewis Solly, produced a fine save to deny him. Several minutes later saw Paulo Wanchope, returning from yet another long injury lay off, spurn a good opportunity to put City ahead when Paul Collins played a neat one two with Shuker and Paul delivered a perfect cross to Paulo’s feet for him to volley in, but he mistimed his effort and sliced the shot well wide, out for a throw in.

Bury then had two efforts within a space of a minute when Porter sent in a powerful twenty yard shot from the right that was deflected onto the post and out for a corner; the resulting corner led to a good shot from the edge of the area by George Clegg, which was well held by Kevin Ellegaard in goal. That was all in vain as a minute later City went ahead thanks to a ball played up to Paulo; he turned and shot but it cannoned off the heel of a defender and into the path of Shuker, who struck his shot sweetly into the top right corner of the goal from twenty five yards giving Solly no chance of saving it.

Most on-looking City fans would then expect the floodgates to open in their favour, but within two minutes, Bury were level. A free kick on the left by Lee Connell found Porter unmarked to head in at the far post. Just after the halfway point of the first half, the scoreline gained some respectability for City fans again, when Nedum headed in a powerful near post header from a Lee Croft corner.

As the half drew to a close, Collins was at the heart of City’s two efforts before the break. The first effort came when Paul did some lovely dribbling into the box by side-stepping two defenders and playing a good cross to Elliott; his shot produced another fine save from Solly. The second effort came when Paul had worked his way forward and held the ball up well then flicked it on to allow Shuker to run in behind the Bury defence, but his effort was neither a cross for the on-rushing City players nor was it a shot as the ball went behind, just, for a goal kick.

Bury brought on a couple of substitutes within the first few minutes of the second half, who seemed to do quite a good job at nullifying most of City’s attacks compared with the first half. City’s expected substitution of Paulo occurred on sixty two minutes, and Bradley came on as a direct replacement. His different style and slightly improved workrate gave City more impetus up front. On sixty nine minutes when Shuker ran down the left and put in a good cross for Elliott, his shot was unfortunately deflected wide. The resulting corner led to City’s third goal when Croft’s cross was only half cleared out to Shuker who played a good curling chip for Bradley to run onto and beat the offside trap and hit his low shot in off the right hand post and into the net.

City’s final effort of the game came when Bradley ran from inside City’s half and took on five Bury players but unfortunately he was pushed wide and one defender managed to block his shot behind for a corner.

Paulo’s sixty minutes showed us that he is a few reserve games away from being included in Kevin’s sixteen man first team squad but in any event it was good to see him play some football and perhaps he’ll give us other options as the season draws to a close. City’s reserves now travel to Newcastle next week at Whitley Park where the pitch is extremely rutted and won’t do City’s free flowing football any favours.

Ellegaard: Some good saves, but his kicking was poor. 6
Flood: Industrious in centre midfield without his occasional rash challenges. 7
Collins: An outstanding display of defending and attacking flank play. MoM. 9
Onuoha: Another good goal from Nedum and solid at the back. 8
McCarthy: Made his presence felt at the back. 8
Jordan (capt): Let Porter get the free header, otherwise good. 7
Croft: Another good display from Croft, but still needs to learn to release the ball. 7
Tiatto: Not very effective in the centre of midfield. 6
Elliott (83): Got into good areas and was unlucky not to score. 7
Wanchope (62): Didn’t hide but his first touch and ball handling not quite there. 6
Shuker: Good wing display from his 1st game back from loan at Hartlepool. 8
Wright-Phillips (62): A good cameo rôle and a good goal. 7
Tandy (83): Not enough time to judge.
Not Used: Timms, Lee-Matthews, Smith.

Bury: Solly, Barrow (Rickers 46), Buchanan, O’Shaughnessy, Bernard, Cartledge, Connell, Clegg (Kamzin-Richards 68), Porter, O’Neill(Douglas-Pringle 50), Singh.
Not Used: Maden, Roscoe.

Att: 369

Gavin Cooper <blueboy(at)>


City’s slide down the rankings has begun – most of the points they collected last season are coincidentally against upcoming teams, so it will be a struggle from here on in. We collected 21 points last season in the 11 games against our remaining opponents, so, just to end on the same points (51), we must now do better than 2 points a game… Alternatively, a little better than 1 point a game will avoid relegation.

Looking more generally at the table, the big winners this season are Birmingham, now 16 points better than last year. Wolves (Sunderland), Charlton and Chelsea have also done well, and of course Chelsea had fewer extra points to find and more money to spend. The stats still say that Fulham are underperforming, and still indicate that City are nowhere near relegation. So that’s alright then. I may look back at an early season version next month to see just how predictive these things are.

This month we play the following teams (last season’s points in brackets): Man Utd home (3!), Leeds away (0), Fulham home (3).

Pos     Team                    Pts     ChPts   Last
1       Arsenal                 84       6       2
2       Manchester United       81      -2       1
3       Chelsea                 74       7       4
4       Birmingham              64      16      13
5       Newcastle United        63      -6       3
6       Liverpool               59      -5       5
7       Charlton Athletic       58       9      12
8       Southampton             50      -2       8
9       Aston Villa             50       5      16
10      Bolton Wanderers        50       6      17
11      Manchester City         48      -3       9
12      Middlesboro             48      -1      11
13      Blackburn Rovers        47      -13      6
14      Everton                 47      -12      7
15      Fulham                  45      -3      14
16      Tottenham Hotspur       40      -10     10
17      Portsmouth              35      -7      18
18      Leeds United            35      -12     15
19      Wolves                  31      12      20
20      Leicester City          28       2      19

How it works: Points (Pts) are calculated from last season’s totals by replacing 2002/3 results with the same results for 2003/4. Promoted sides take the results of the respective relegated sides: Portsmouth (champions) take West Ham’s (18th), Leicester (2nd) take West Brom’s (19th), and Wolves, Sunderland’s (20th). The ChPts (change points) column shows how the points total compares with last season. The Last column indicates last season’s finishing spot.

You may think that this looks remarkably like the stats introduced by Steve Kay, Editor of mcfcstats, in MCIVTA 996. So do I 😉

Rob <rob.martil(at)>


One year ago former City favourite Uwe R