Newsletter #1126

News tonight that the Macken to Palace transfer has gone ahead, international action for James and possibly for City, and a plethora of other rumours and links for outgoing and incoming players.

We’ve also got the usual opinions, and another good Why Blue from NZ.

Next game: TBA


General News

Saints Getting Wigged Out? City’s new reserve coach Steve Wigley thinks SP is the man to lead City to better things. And he revealed how he had turned down a job as a first team coach elsewhere to come to City. “I never had the good luck to play for City but I am excited to be here now,” he said. “Leaders of men like Stuart don’t come along very often and they tend to make their mark at what ever they do. He is very confident that he is going to be a successful manager at Manchester City and I want to help as much as I can. I was offered the chance to return to management but I felt it wasn’t what I wanted. I think coming here is a great opportunity.” Wigley outlined the role he is taking up at the club. “My job will be to help bring on the young players. That is what I have done and specialised in through my coaching career.” he said. “I will coach the reserves and try and provide a link for the young players coming out of the Academy and prepare them for the first team.” The Saints maybe didn’t rate Wigley as a first team coach, but according to this extract from the People last Sunday, the Hampshire club may be worried that some talented youngsters might follow him to Manchester: “SOUTHAMPTON fear a raid on their talented FA Youth Cup Final squad by Manchester City now former boss Steve Wigley has joined Stuart Pearce. Wigley quit as Academy director where he nurtured Martin Crainie, Leon Best and David McGoldrick.” Southampton reached the FA Youth Cup last season, before losing to Ipswich.

Tim has Flowered at City: On the subject of the coaching staff, one man from KK’s regime who is certain to remain at the court of King Stu is Tim Flowers. Psycho paid tribute this week to the contribution made by Flowers in tightening up City’s defence (we had the fourth lowest ‘goals against’ column apparently). Pearce is also impressed by Tiger Tim’s personality: “Tim is a fantastic man to have around the club,” says Pearce. “He lifts the coaching staff, he’s got a good sense of humour, the players love him and he is good at what he does on the training pitch and he gets on with the other goalkeepers. He is enthusiastic and he is happy to turn around to me and tell me when I am doing something wrong. He demonstrated that at the Liverpool game when he grabbed me by the scruff of the neck to shake hands with their manager after I had forgotten. It’s little things like that you need in your team. He is a good team man. That’s what I want around me. A good staff.”

International Blues: David James got his chance to impress Sven Goran Eriksson at international level, as DJ returned to the England starting line up for the first time since his high-profile blunder in England’s 2-2 draw with Austria back in September. Paul Robinson was injured and unable to participate in the three lions tour of the USA, so James found himself starting both games this week, against the host nation on Saturday and versus Colombia on Tuesday. He played the whole of the first tie, but made way for Norwich’s Robert Green at half-time of the second. Despite winning both games (by 2-1 and 3-2 scorelines), England were not fantastically tight at the back, conceding three goals. And despite his almost flawless season with City, DJ alas had a few shaky moments.

UEFA Delay: City fans have a vested interest in supporting Liverpool’s attempts to defend their Champions’ League trophy next season because, so the thinking goes, if Liverpool get to play in “The Big One”, that frees up a UEFA Cup place, which should fall into City’s laps as the eighth placed club in the Prem. UEFA president Lennart Johansson has made encouraging noises for the Scousers, but a UEFA Committee member has sounded less positive. Dr Joseph Mifsud the president of Malta’s FA, told BBC Radio 5 Live this week: “I believe we should follow the rules. If the rules permit it is ok, if the rules do not permit it, no. I believe that while the English FA can do something in this regard, I believe as the rules stand at present at UEFA we cannot do anything – unless of course the regulations are changed. But I don’t agree regulations can be changed midway through the season. As far as I can see it is too late.” All will be decided by UEFA’s 15-man executive committee at their meeting in Manchester (an omen perhaps!) on June 17.

Transfer News and Gossip

Your DIY “SWP Linked to…” Story: In order to save your poor news editor writing up the same rumour about little Shaunie every week, henceforth I’ll be including the following paragraph every week:
This week, Shaun Wright-Phillips has been linked with a move to:
(a) Chelsea
(b) Arsenal
(c) Liverpool
(d) Barcelona
(e) None of the above
(f) All of the above
(g) Trafford Wanderers (in the name of Colin Bell, no!)
(h) Blinkin’ ink, there hasn’t been a story this week!
This week’s answer is (c).

Toon Swap Swoop? I wrote the above paragraph last Saturday, and felt very smug that I’d covered all possible options for the Shaunie shenanigans. And then… option (i) appeared! On Sunday, the Journal reported that: “Newcastle are confident of clinching a sensational swoop for Manchester City starlet Shaun Wright-Phillips. United believe they can steal in ahead of several Premiership rivals by offering £12 million AND Laurent Robert for Wright-Phillips.” Whether Shaun would be interested in a move down the Premiership is a moot point of course, and the reporter didn’t seem too confident that this swap would take place – the article ends with a suggestion that if Shaun didn’t sign, then Blackburn’s Brett Emerton was a cut-price alternative. Gaffer Psycho was having none of it. “I honestly believe he’s very happy at this football club,” he said. “There have been no offers for Shaun this summer, that’s for sure. The beauty is that he’s not the sort that gets unsettled by speculation in the papers. Shaun’s quite happy at this football club, the club are certainly happy with him. We think he’s a world class performer.”

Forward Thinking: Judging by this week’s transfer rumours, SP is set on upgrading and updating the strike force this summer. For instance, Jon Macken left City today. “I was very disappointed to be told by Stuart Pearce I would not figure highly in his plans for next season,” Macken said. “Palace were unlucky to be relegated last year and I’m looking forward to the chance to take them back up again. I felt as though things were just starting to come together for me at City. The team were playing well and there was a real buzz about the place,” he added. “But I need to be playing regularly and having spoken to a few clubs, I was most impressed by Crystal Palace and in particular the manager and chairman. They both have a reputation for being ambitious men and I was left in no doubt by either of them that a return to the Premiership was the only aim they had for this season.” Various journals suggest that City will make either £500,0000, £750,000 or even a million quid on Jon. We have had a number of new names suggested as replacements. City were said to be watching John Utaka as the club weigh up a bid for the Lens striker. A fee of £2.5 million is likely to be required to tempt Lens into doing business for the 23-year-old Nigerian international. Next City were said to be about to make an approach for Portuguese striker Pedro Pauleta, according to the player’s agent, Jorge Range, who confirmed that City manager Stuart Pearce has shown an interest in the Paris Saint-Germain forward and the French club would be prepared to sell the 32-year-old after a disappointing league season in which they finished ninth. Pauleta said: “I can play at the top level for another few years and the Premiership is an excellent league for strikers.” And the third potential French based musketeer is forward Alexander Frei, according to reports. The 25-year-old Swiss international currently plays for French club Rennes, where he has caught the eye of City’s scouts.

Bas Has a Chance: There were strong suggestions this weekend that Euro 2004 star Angelos Basinas of Panathanaikos had signed an agreement to join City, after the Athens outfit informed the Greek international that he could leave the club on a free transfer. The 29-year-old midfielder had been tipped to join his former boss Velimir Zaec at Portsmouth, but that deal appears to have foundered.

Taylor to Toffees: Last week we reported of City’s interest in Tranmere full-back Ryan Taylor. Norwich City were also said to be interested in the youngster, but Canaries’ boss Nigel Worthington reckons neither City will land Taylor. He said: “Ryan Taylor’s one that we targeted. He was one of those with a lot of potential that we would have liked to have brought here. But he’s gone to Everton – it’s a Premiership club and means that he doesn’t have to move. He can still live in his home city. It’s that type of thing that’s happening.”

Not Enough Silver for Sylvain: Today’s Daily Mirror trumpeted the exclusive that Aston Villa had had a £5 million offer for Sylvain Distin rejected. David O’Leary is said to be after a top-class centre-back but will have to up his bid – the paper reckon City want over £7 million for the skipper.

Ex-Blues’ News

Going Up Going Up Going Up: The Bank Holiday weekend saw the Football League play-offs take place in Cardiff. Purely in the interests of research for this summary, your News Editor watched most of the games, and spotted the following former footballers from MCFC. Saturday’s League Two play-off saw Southend beat Lincoln City with a brace of extra time goals. And who was that stalwart leading the Shrimpers’ celebrations? Why Spencer Prior no less. The most exciting game of the weekend featured Sheffield Wednesday beating Hartlepool United 4-2. The Owls were behind twice before prevailing, thanks in part to a goal from former City reserve Glenn Whelan. Lee Peacock led the line for the Owls. On Monday, West Ham secured a place in the Premiership next season with a single goal triumph over Preston North End. PNE’s goalkeeper was Carlo Nash, trying to look very continental with a short sleeved jersey on, and sporting long, golden locks. Carlo was joined in the latter stages by Dickson Etuhu, who joined the fray as a substitute.

Who’ll Buy Van Buyten? We’ve had not one but two stories this week about Daniel van Buyten. Thanks to Matt Thomas for updating me on both items. The first report suggested that DvB might be playing Champions’ League football next season with Werder Bremen. Van Buyten, on tour in the Far East with his current team HSV Hamburg, said: “Bremen is a good club and one should never say never.” In the second van Buyten tale, the Belgian international was mentioned as a potential target for Newcastle United. A fee of £6 million was quoted. A sign perhaps of the Toon’s waning interest in Sylvain Distin, one hopes.

No Go Goat: Shaun Goater has been linked with a move to League Two side Cheltenham Town. The veteran forward faces an uncertain future, having not played for Reading since December due to a clause in his contract that would see an extra payment being made to City. Goater spent the latter part of last season on loan at Coventry City but is unlikely to make a permanent move and has a year left on his Reading contract. Cheltenham manager John Ward denied the story: “There is absolutely no truth in it whatsoever. It’s one of these ridiculous things that start somewhere and ends up in the paper. But Shaun Goater isn’t coming to Cheltenham.” In other Goat-related news, a City Academy team are in Bermuda to face the national team on Friday – rumour has it that the great man may be playing for the host team.

Squad News

Steve Believes: Psycho said it would happen, and lo it has. Stephen Jordan has committed his future to the club by signing a new two-year contract. The 23-year-old broke through last season and made his début against Norwich in November when Ben Thatcher was injured. Pearce: “Stephen did well last season in the latter part of the campaign. His signing gives me a good range of options at left back”. Jordan, who arrived at the club as an eight-year-old, said: “I love the club and the fans and am only too happy to remain here. I am really looking forward to playing for Stuart Pearce and building on our successful end to the season.”

In Sinc for the Summer: The Evening News carried a feature tonight on the forgotten man of the City squad, Trevor Sinclair. Following his operation in October for a ruptured cruciate ligament, Trev is training through the summer in an attempt to force his way into SP’s plans for next season. “I will be in pretty much throughout the summer training so when the lads come back for pre-season I will be up and running,” Sinclair stated. “It’s important to start back on a level playing field with them. I have got some work to do to try to win the support of the manager and get a place in the team. We’ve done a lot better and I’m gutted that I haven’t had a lot to do with it. I can’t wait to get an opportunity. I’ve come through the worst of the injury and though I’m not out of the woods yet and there is still a lot of work to do. I’m walking about again, exercising and swimming. Christmas was the worst. It was snowing and my kids were out enjoying themselves and I couldn’t do a thing because I was on crutches.”

Don Barrie <news(at)>


Imagine this?

You are a member of your country’s selection of 24 best players at 12 years of age. With the group you are elected to play an exhibition game in the Belgian football Valhalla, the Heysel. The game is intended as an opener for the main event, the final tie of the European Cup 1985. On a warm, summer evening you cross the tartan track with all your mates in an orderly fashion side by side. Half the boys are resplendent in brand spanking replica kits of the senior squad, de Rode Duivels, all in red. Your side are kitted out in the recognized away outfit, all white. Although the full impact hasn’t sunk in, it’s the summit of your tender football career, you’re turning out for a game of football mimicking your national heroes. You turn out regularly for your own home town teams and do your best before 50 to 60 spectators, most of whom are accompanying parents. You’re treading the hallowed turf unable to really savour the moment because the terraces and stands are already occupied by some 40,000 souls from separate corners of Europe. You are stiff with nerves because you’ve never experienced anything like it; many experienced pro’s would melt under the pressure, they’ve, all of them, not a notion how you feel before such a mass of people. It takes a good few minutes before any of the boys can get into their strides, and start playing to their potential.

Very quickly, the differing camps identify with the teams on the field. The Liverpool supporters urge the ‘all-red’ team on and are encouraged, the omens are favourable, by a first-half scoreline of 3-0 to the reds. The Juventus backing are not too happy. Their favourites play in a predominantly white kit, and their choice are trailing hopelessly while the red half of the stadium are enjoying it immensely! Approximately a quarter of an hour before the final whistle, a cross comes in and the shy, young lad in white, volleys the pass from 16 yards between the ‘keeper and upright. It all happened in a flash, and it was instinctive. All the hours of training were paying off. If he’d had more time to think about it, he may have been filled with doubt and feared botching it. He didn’t, it was a perfect goal. The Juventus half of the stadium went berserk.

Immediately, tumult occurred between the Liverpool section and the adjacent (neutral?) Vak-Z. Some of the boys, on the field watched momentarily as gaps developed on the terraces but, as football enthusiasts, they were familiar with TV pictures of terrace skirmishing and thought little of it! They got on with their sporting obligations and continued what they’d come for, the peak of their careers to date! They hadn’t resumed for long when they realised that spectators, or strangers, began to appear on the field, walking among the players, and then more people appeared, all spilling from the terraces at the Liverpool dedicated end of the stadium. The trainers and coaches accompanying these lads gathered them and led them from the field back across the tartan running track and into the catacombs. “There was a bit of a fight going on and we’ll be back in the arena in no time” they were told. While there was doubt, they thought it wise to lock the dressing room doors until the situation was clear. So there they sat, two dozen kids of twelve years old, filling with trepidation at the obvious increasing chaos outside the confines of their room.

Are you still with me? Can you place yourself in these lads’ football boots? Read on because it gets really bizarre!

Nobody’s logging the time of events, but after a short while the door is opened and people start bringing, gingerly, wounded spectators into the changing rooms. At a certain point, it seems that an alternative location had been found for the wounded and they started bringing, obviously dead, bodies into the dressing rooms and laying them down in the showers. The urgency was great for they stopped laying the bodies and started unceremoniously dumping them. Trainers and coaches realized the gravity and gave the lads brief instructions for evacuation. The boys were to hold the hand or grab the shoulder of the boy in front and hold his ‘free’ hand before his eyes in an attempt to shield them from the evil outside their lost sanctuary. They’d reckoned without the kitbags that they were carrying!

A couple of the boys had realized that the rest of the evening wasn’t going to amount to much and had showered early and were in their street clothes; most of them still had their kits on and upon entering the corridors full of wounded, dying and dead, ended up struggling and scrabbling over the ‘unfortunates’ with their studded football boots. There was hardly space to cautiously place a foot. They eventually found themselves back on the running track where the scene had become one of total bedlam. A few were claimed quickly by concerned parents and whisked away to their cars. The remainder stayed with their parents to watch out the final. With the car radios on they could catch up on the extent of the disaster continually being related over the airways. At twelve years old you can only guess how much it really hit home?

A university study, years after the disaster, mentioned the above game as one of the myriad possibilities why the riots kicked off in the Heysel prior to the Euro Final. It really happened. I prefer, in the interest of decency, to believe that the Belgian Government of the time did not even mention the exhibition game of twelve year old kids in its official report.

Somebody within the Dutch TV media had researched the game with a view to the anniversary of Heysel and uncovered the wretched story. They’d traced as many as possible of these lads and found four Flemish speaking boys to relate the series of events through their eyes. One of the four was the scorer of the White team’s goal, and he had obvious difficulty, twenty years after the event, relating his version. One sentence revealed his discomfort when he asked the interviewer: “Surely it’s too bizarre for words, that a twelve year old boy should score a goal that would lead to nearly 40 people dying and more than 400 ending up in hospital?” You suspect that the question is more directed at himself and you fear he will never find the answer.

You hear so much, nowadays, of trauma counselling. This programme presented the lads with their very first opportunity to talk about that evil evening when football first lost its innocence. Despite all the mayhem, bloodshed and hysteria, the boys look back with a feeling of pride at having turned out in their country’s colours in their Wembley in front of a full house. Only 4 of the original selection of 24 had found a lasting involvement in football.

On a lighter note, I endeavour to submit, in the future, lighter pieces than my recent Heysel contributions; I will not broach the subject again until the 25th or 30th anniversary approaches. There is, after all, again a feeling of optimism at the Blue Camp and I am encouraged to see Stuart getting our Academy boys involved in first team affairs.

Saw Rod the Mod last night in Rotterdam-Ahoy and despite his Celtic (which I can accept) and insipid Rag affiliations, he nearly brought tears to my eyes with his rendition of ‘Blue Moon’!

Greetings Blues from this side o’puddle.

Dave Lyons <DJ.Lyons(at)>


Just a quick comment. Firstly, Mr Mills; he has turned it on for us in some game but not in others. What annoys me more is that even at the very last away game, all the players acknowledged the fans at the end of the game. Not Mr Mills, straight down the tunnel, didn’t lift his head once.

Secondly, having got the new away kit on launch day it looks really good but it has tacky stick on print all over it. Can’t see it lasting after a few washes and the material is that that plucks really easy.

Finally, can all the boo fans stay at home next season. It’s not the City way and it doesn’t help the players on the pitch. Instead of booing, try singing through the good and the bad; after all, it is City and we never have two games alike. Look at our last game, you had to laugh at our substitution and then miss the penalty on top of that. Where else but City would you get an end to season like that?

Mike O’Brien <mike.obrien(at)>


I would also like to thank Asa Hartford for everything he has done for Man City. I will miss his presence around the club. It’s like another part of Maine Road has been laid to rest!

Another little ditty we used to sing about Asa was as follows:

‘With a hole in my heart give me Asa,
With a hole in my heart I pray,
With a hole in my heart give me Asa,
Give me Asa Hartford any day!’

Thanks Asa

Debs Darbyshire <dd(at)>


Readers may like to while away the long hours to the start of the next season by looking up old matches on

Preview video is available without charge and entry of ‘Manchester City’ in the search box will give links to many old matches, including the 1955 and 56 Cup runs. There is also the match I remember as the most outstanding match I have ever seen (sadly a defeat), the 4-5 1957 Cup replay against Newcastle.

Bryan Clarke <b.clarke(at)>


In response to Joe O’Doherty’s article regarding the clips of the play-off final and others, I would like to say that I have the CD with the Dickov goal. It makes me cry as much now listening to it as I did when he scored. That moment must rate as the best of all times. I can still see the look on my brother’s face when it hit the net and I picked up 17 stone of solid flesh. I can also feel the headache the following day. There must be some more memories out there waiting to be told?

Sam Duxbury <samduxbury(at)>


For Joe O’Doherty who enquired last week about where to find footage of City vs. Gillingham this was the best site I could find

It brought back some great memories of me and my mate Neil sitting huddled around a PC in Auckland trying to listen to the game over the Net with a really crappy connection that kept dropping out at what seemed like all the crucial moments. It was 2am and I remember sending the taxi driver away when we did our Houdini act in the last 5 minutes. Gary Owen was the funniest commentator of all time, as he just sounded like a demented fan who had completely forgotten that he was broadcasting to thousands of people!

Rachel Rose <rrose(at)>


In response to Mike, re the new shirt, I also am unconvinced that it will last 2 years if my 9 year old son is anything to go by! For some reason he has really taken to the new design (perhaps the fabric is impregnated with some addictive chemical?) and since receiving his shirt (through the post, last Thursday) I have been struggling to keep up with the demands to keep it washed so that he can wear it – every day (at least it’s a dark colour so shows the dirt less well and at least it dries quickly)! I did buy Adam last year’s away kit, but had to return it to the store as he refused to wear it, as it was ‘too girly’ so maybe James Barber’s idea would work, getting the fans to design the kit.

On the subject of kit though, I am not a fan of the Reebok materials – their first shirt was dire and I ended up returning 2 out of 3 that I bought and as for the socks – yuk! the material is awful and they shrink with each wash! I much preferred the Le Coq Sportif stuff – both in terms of quality and design.

One final thought – poor David James; after a season of playing behind one of best defences in the Premiership, he had a nightmare tour of the US! Sol Campbell doesn’t need to be looking over his shoulder after Tuesday night either!

Poor Preston too – I had hoped they’d beat West Ham – not only because of a rather soft spot for Carlo Nash (and it was interesting to see that PNE are such a big club that they could afford to leave Dickson Etuhu on the bench!) but also because I quite fancied the away trip to Deepdale (and the 6 points next season). Perhaps West Ham would like Trevor Sinclair back (please?)?

Looking forward to August already!

Sarah Longshaw <Sarah(at)>


Thanks to Italian Blue Dario for pointing out my error of judgement it was wrong of me to tar all of Lazio with the same brush as the club’s extreme element. I stand by my point about the eagle on aesthetic grounds though!

Murray Withers <murraywithers(at)>


I have been a subscriber to MCIVTA for about 8 years now, since I landed in New Zealand. I have been meaning to do a Why Blue for all that time, but never got a round to it. How sad is that?!

Basically my dad determined my fate by deciding to support City as a young kid during the war, when both City and United were playing at Maine Road and he lived just a couple of streets away. I asked him why he chose City and he said it was because they were the better team at the time.

My loyalty was cemented at about the age of 8 when I scored the Panini Football sticker of Peter Barnes and developed an instant crush! I didn’t start going to games ironically until I left home at 18 and went to live in Birmingham. I think I needed to maintain my Mancunian connections in a land of Brummy accents, crap beer and psychopathic football fans (I lived in Birmingham City territory). I came back to Manchester 5 years later and lived in Newlyn St, about 2 minutes’ walk from Maine Road, and became a regular at home games. It was at this time that I spotted Peter Swales and some of his cronies outside my office window looking dodgy and no doubt plotting how to squander more of the club’s funds – it was a very frustrating time: the highs of 5-1 against United vs. the lows of the revolving management door and the inability to string more than a couple of wins together at any one time.

Last time I was back in the UK during the football season in 2000, I took my Kiwi husband (a Chelsea fan who has been pretty unbearable this year – the effect of telling him we were the only team to beat them all season wore thin after a while!) to Maine Road, where we played with our then customary lack of enthusiasm against very average sides, in this case Leicester City. Mark spotted the yawning gap in our defence that allowed Savage to score from a free kick, that being the only goal of the game, sigh. Mark asked how such a crap team (his words, not mine of course) could attract so much support, and I didn’t really have an answer, except to say that I couldn’t think of following any other team and that we must be a bunch of eternal optimists…

…which brings me to my motivation for finally getting around to completing the Why Blue. For the first time since I have been reading MCIVTA I am getting a feeling of genuine excitement and anticipation for next season from those of you who get to see the team on a regular basis. This is what we have been waiting for, for the last 30 years! Who would have thought that we would go from singing “You lost the World Cup, Stuart Pearce” to singing his praises as our most promising manager in recent years?

All the best to the team for next season, by which time I’ll be a mum of twins and will need to start the indoctrination process for the new generation.

Rachel Rose <rrose(at)>

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Newsletter #1126