Newsletter #1154

Derby weekend approaches and tonight Don brings us previews of the game, reaction to internationals, transfer targets and loan spells.

We have a match report on this week’s reserve game, which saw Distin make a welcome return, and Neil has certainly sparked some good debate with his Hero or Zero article.

The transfer policy is also under scrutiny, and we’ve an appreciative response to David Buxton’s excellent Why Still Blue the other week.

As to be expected, numerous requests for viewing and a couple of queries to be answered.

Wherever you are on Saturday, enjoy the game!

Next game: Manchester United, away, 3pm Saturday 10 September 2005


General News

Crying Fowl: Robert Bernard Fowler was an omnipresent figure this newsweek, and has featured in all known forms of written and electronic media. He has an autobiography to publicise, and his views on Sven Goran Eriksson made the most headlines, while his musings in the Observer’s Sports Magazine consisted of such gems as “You don’t want to be seen as a biff: some busy b*ll*cks like Gary Neville, or someone who has sold their soul like Beckham.” On an interview with BBC Radio 5live, Fowler revealed that he’d delayed his transfer from Leeds to City in the hope that his former club Liverpool might make a late bid. To be fair to Robbie, he did stress that he was very happy at City, and felt that he could give many more years of service to the club. And he even features in the City mag this month, saying how touched he was by the fans’ reaction after he missed that crucial penalty against Middlesbrough last May. “When I did come out the support I got from the crowd was unbelievable, to be honest,” he said. “I think it is moments like that one that cement relationships between players and fans, possibly forever. They could have been indifferent or even booed me for that miss but the warmth I felt from them was special. It speaks volumes for the supporters the way they got behind me. It helped a lot in allowing me to deal with the miss because I knew then that they would stay behind me.”

Sticky Situation for Toffees Match: Once again, the fixture list has been mucked about with. The home game with Everton, scheduled for Saturday October 2, has been put back to Sunday October 3, with an unfeasibly early kick-off time of 11.15AM. That should get the atmosphere in the stadium going! The change is due to Everton’s European commitments; they are due to play Romanian team Dinamo Bucharest at Goodison Park on Thursday September 29.

International Blues: Claudio Reyna captained the USA to a 2-0 victory over Mexico to qualify for the 2006 World Cup finals. And this was good news for City, because the midfielder was released from Wednesday’s clash in Guatemala. “From what I can gather before he went away, they were playing him in the first game and they have qualified now,” SP commented. “He’s coming back and he’ll be with us on the training field on Tuesday, which is a big bonus for us. Because we’ve been so open in letting our players go away, it’s payback time in some ways as they have allowed Claudio to come back early and miss the second game because they are in a strong position. It benefits us, we’re happy for him to go away but we know that at times it has been to the detriment of this club. We know full well that the federation over there are looking after him well, and he’s a great professional and he’ll look after himself as best he can. It’s a great spur for him to have a good season with us and go to the World Cup next summer.” Contrast the USA’s attitude to that of Wales, who got in a bit of a tizz about Ben Thatcher pulling out of their squad this week through injury. The FA of Wales sent an email to City reminding them of FIFA regulations stating that a club cannot stop a player being called up for international duty regardless of whether he is injured or not. Happily a compromise was arrived at: “It was felt that it would be wrong to ask Ben to drive to Cardiff with an ankle injury, so now a compromise has been reached that a surgeon will examine him in Manchester,” said Paul Tyrell. Clearly Thatch was none too impressed by the Welsh management, as he had a bit of a fume about it to a reporter. “It is a joke. Why would I turn up for a friendly against Slovenia recently knowing I would not make the team because of injury? The Welsh medical people then sent me home, how many other players would just travel down to touch base with the manager and players? Why would I do that if I was not fully committed to Wales, it’s crazy. I am really annoyed about the whole thing because I even turned up at the Welsh camp for the Northern Ireland game having not kept food down for a week, I was only 50% fit but I got through it.” He added: “So for anybody to question whether I am behind the Wales cause is ridiculous and unfair. I have hardly missed a training session with any of my managers during my career and recent remarks about me are complete nonsense. I am proud to play for Wales and always will be, and I am looking forward to the next game when I am fully fit. I hope to be fit for next month’s game in Northern Ireland.”

Pearce for England! And after a brace of less than distinguished international performances by England, most of Thursday’s press were calling for Sven Goran Erikson to go – “Sack the Swede”, trilled one headline. A number of journals thought that our Beloved Psycho might succeed “The Swede”, although Pearce is having none of it. “You’ve got to be a manager in top-flight football for ten years before you even get whispered in those circles,” Pearce stated. “If you asked me the best two coaches I’ve worked for, and I’ve worked with quite a few, Cloughie and people like that, I’d say Terry Venables and Glenn Hoddle. I probably learnt as much from Glenn as a coach, an out-and-out coach, not necessarily a man-manager. Unfortunately you’ve got to have a bit of everything about you to be a top manager. You’ve got to take a little bit from everybody, for good or for bad. I worked for him and I didn’t overly enjoy it, but I learned a lot from him, in some ways what not to do to your players. But as a natural coach I still think he’s of the right age and of the right knowledge. If you’re talking about the people where we’ve shot ourselves in the foot, I don’t think Venables or Hoddle had long enough as England manager.”

First Team Fitness Found: Sylvain Distin and Robbie Fowler (yes, him again) made successful comebacks from injury this week, as they featured in City’s reserve fixture at home to Birmingham City. Distin managed just over an hour, while media-shy Robbie was withdrawn with 11 minutes to play. After a goalless first forty-five minutes at the mini-COMS, Stephen Ireland opened the scoring on the hour mark for the hosts. Steve Wigley’s side doubled their advantage just seven minutes later when Marc Laird hit the target with a powerful header. Team: Weaver, N. D’Laryea, Jordan, Richards, Distin (Collins 65), Croft, Ireland, Hussein, Laird, Fowler (J. D’Laryea 79), Wright-Phillips (Miller 60). Unused subs: Schmeichel, Bennett.

Transfer News and Gossip

The Two That Got Away: As we all know by now, City were somewhat quiet on the buying front as the transfer window clanged shut last week. Not one player came in as deadline day approached – although it didn’t stop SP putting in a couple of late bids for reinforcements, as their clubs have revealed. City failed with a late move for Schalke’s Danish midfielder Christian Poulsen, the German club have made known. The 25-year-old was regarded as surplus to requirements after last season, but has fought his way back into the reckoning and is currently holding down a regular place. A £2 million offer from Villarreal was turned down last month and City’s offer, believed to be nearer the £3 million mark, came at just the wrong time as the transfer deadline was closing and Schalke would have had little time to find a replacement. And Norwich City have stated that the Blues have made two bids to sign Dean Ashton. Both bids were rebuffed by The Canaries, who displayed their determination to keep Ashton at the club by handing him a contract extension that ties him to Carrow Road until 2009.

Pep Talk for Latics: Meanwhile, Wigan manager Paul Jewell has confirmed that he has targeted former Barcelona and Spain midfielder Josip Guardiola after he had turned down a move to City. The 34-year-old is out of contract after spending a year in Qatar, and can still sign for any club outside the transfer window. Jewell said in the Daily Star: “I have spoken to Pep and I was very impressed that he knew so much about us. His experience would be a help to us.” Two weeks ago Guardiola turned down the opportunity of a move to near City, as the Blues only offered him a six month contract and he was looking for a longer deal.

Is Andy Handy? Hearts defender Andy Webster is being monitored by Stuart Pearce according to reports. The 23-year-old centre-half has been a key figure in Hearts’ impressive start to the season in Scotland and has also established himself as a regular in the national team. Fulham boss Chris Coleman is also keen on the player and is set to make a move in the New Year with a fee of around £1.5 million being reported.

Derby Preview

Focussed and Switched On: In case you hadn’t noticed (clearly Sky TV haven’t), it’s the derby on Saturday. “It’s good we have had a decent start as we plan for Old Trafford,” said SP. “It’d be easy for me to play that down and say there is a long way to go – and there is – but we have had an enjoyable month and we’ll go to United to win the game. If we can’t do that, we’ll aim to avoid defeat, but it will be a very tough match. It won’t be easy, but the players will be focused and switched on – we’ll make sure of that, for that game and every match we play. I’m looking forward to it, they are a fantastic team,” said Pearce of his first derby day as manager. “Over the last decade or so, Sir Alex is a fantastic example to a young manager like me trying to make his way in the game. People have been writing him off, saying he’s lost his spark. Then, all of a sudden, he turns up with a stronger side and regains the championship. We should be rolling up our sleeves and looking forward to going to Old Trafford. We’re above them, it’s pleasing, but we know we’ve got our work cut out. If we’d played another 10 games, we might not be. I had no real perception of where I would be as a manager at this stage. Every manager faces a difficult job and as soon as you experience a defeat everything changes and your whole mind-set changes. Just look at the fella across the road who is a shining light and beyond criticism for what he has achieved. Even he is placed under the microscope when they suffer a defeat. But every day he keeps at it.”

Fergie Impressed: The managerial love-in had even reached that ruddy faced Knight of the Realm, Sir Alex, who was rather complimentary about his Sky Blue adversary. “A lot of the time in our game, players who were great players are taken on by clubs thinking that, because they were great players, they are going to be great managers,” Ferguson told the League Managers’ Association website. “That is not the case. People like Stuart Pearce, who go away to prepare themselves and go on courses, are going to have a better chance of making it. After he was manager of Nottingham Forest for that short spell, he obviously decided to prepare himself. That is a great thing because when the next opportunity comes along, you know more. Everyone remembers Stuart Pearce as a determined, aggressive player, who played with great heart and enthusiasm that gave him a fantastic career in the game,” Ferguson said. “His team are playing in exactly the same way.”

Squad News

He’s Growing Up: SP has been fulsome in his praise of stand-in skipper Richard Dunne, who has had the armband in the absence of Sylvain Distin. “For me, naming a captain before a game is a big thing,” said the manager. “If gives me great pride – there’s only 20 teams in the Premiership and you’re one captain on any one given day, so it is something to give you immense pride. I don’t think there’s any secret in saying that Richard would love to captain this football club. If I was in his or Claudio Reyna’s position, I’d want to captain this club. The real natural leaders are leaders from birth. I played alongside Tony Adams for England Under 21s when he was 19 and you could see he oozed leadership. Richard’s grown into it, he may be a slightly different animal but now he really feels part for this club. He’s been here a number of years, hopefully he will be here for years to come. He enjoys where he works, he’s a good man and I think leadership was a progression for him.”

Hussein’s Hopes: Yasser Hussein has admitted to a dark past. “Three years ago I signed with Manchester United but there was a problem getting a work permit because I was just 18 and hadn’t played much for my country” he confessed. “So United loaned me to Royal Antwerp in Belgium and it was a good experience for me. Obviously coming from the Middle East the football and lifestyle are totally different and playing for Antwerp helped me adjust.” He added: “I want the chance to prove myself in England. I never thought anything but positive things about this move and I left a lot of offers behind in Qatar and from several clubs in Europe too, because I knew this was right and I wanted to be here. I’ve already had a great reception from the City fans so I hope this is the start of a great career with City.”

Willo – Will He Stay? Willo Flood is looking to extend his loan deal with Coventry City until Christmas. The Irish midfielder has been a first-team regular arriving at the Ricoh Arena, initially for one month, and has turned in some impressive displays on the right hand side of midfield. “I’d love to stay until Christmas because what I want to do is play first team football and I think I can do that here,” said the Irish under-21 international. “I had a word with my manager Stuart Pearce when I realised I wouldn’t be figuring at Man City at the moment and asked to get out on loan, and he said I could go out until the New Year. I am really enjoying it here at Coventry and settled in really well with the players and coaches, so hopefully the two clubs can sort something out.”

Don Barrie <news(at)>


City lined up on a muggy late summer’s evening at the MiniCOMS, with Distin making a welcome return from injury. A few other changes to last week’s team – line-ups below as usual.

It is becoming repetitive, maybe the intro should be a standard “City started well with Ireland, Croft and BWP combining in the first attack of the game” as Croft broke down the left hand side to thread the ball through to BWP, who was in front of goal but shot wide.

Unlike Wigan, this game was more end-to-end, with each team having its fair share of play. Fowler looked a little more sluggish than his form of last week, but had an early chance on goal with a header, which was caught by the Brum ‘keeper.

In another City break, Hussein crossed in from the right for BWP to fire just wide. Croft then had one of his trademark runs from the halfway line, cut back to Jordan who volleyed the ball, which took a deflection for a City corner. Unfortunately we made nothing of this – definitely something which needs work on at this level; first team have it sorted but reserves are wasting too many.

Birmingham had about one real threat during the first half as Kugi curled a ball over the City crossbar. Weaver hadn’t really been called into action up to the break.

This was just as well because we then noticed plumes of grey smoke above the Manchester skyline. Pondering whether this meant a new England manager had been elected (and boy do we need that after last night’s débâcle). We were informed that it was merely the Oldham Road tyre yard with one of their regular blazes.

No changes at half-time, but Birmingham came out all guns blazing. Weaver made a good save to tip a shot over the bar as City then regained the momentum. As we piled on a couple of attacks, BWP broke through on goal but didn’t move out of the advancing ‘keeper’s path and was brought down in a block tackle. He remained immobile on the floor as Croft quickly passed to Ireland, who fired home as the Birmingham ‘keeper tried to get back. 1-0 but with BWP still down and the medics being called, the City fans were worried. Fortunately he left the field under his own steam, and let us hope it is not too serious.

BWP was replaced by Miller, who immediately brought more pace and determination with one of his solo runs as he advanced on goal within a minute of arriving on the pitch. Hussein tantalized the Birmingham players down the left wing and put through a cross that was deflected into Laird’s path and made us 2-0.

The linesman must have been stunned, as he ended up taking an impromptu sit down as the referee came to assist him back to his post.

Birmingham were trailing and despite substitutions could not get back into the game.

On the plus side, Distin and Fowler will both be fit for Saturday. BWP seems to me to have suffered a slight dip/lack of confidence and I think a loan spell (injury permitting) would serve him well.

Another 3 points in the bag, and sitting happily on top of the reserve league!

On individual form, I’d say BWP is suffering a bit of a dip in confidence and perhaps needs a loan spell to get away from the whole big brother/ City/mounting expectations. Fowler definitely on the bench for Saturday and I sincerely hope Distin is back in. I know a lot of people are saying Hussein should get a game, but it’s one thing playing against Macclesfield and a bunch of 18 year old reserve players, another thing entirely pitting your skill in the Premiership. Croft, as Debs said last week, definitely deserves a starting place.

MotM: Ireland.

The above is for the fans. The following is for the numerous scouts who turn up regularly (whether for the game or to partake of the generous City hospitality!).

That Ireland’s too lightweight, Croft is too slow, BWP obviously can’t score, Miller’s never going to make it and Richards has got three left feet. Look at our youngsters, try them on loan, but you can’t snaffle them away before we’ve given them a fair chance!

City: Weaver; N D’Laryea, Jordan, Richards, Distin (Collins); Croft, Ireland, Hussein, Laird, Fowler (J D’Laryea), Wright-Phillips (Miller). Unused: Schmeichel, Bennett.

Birmingham: Doyle; Blake, Sadler, Painter, Oji; Hall, Birley, Kilkenny (Howland), Alsop (Wright); Kuqi, Till. Unused: Legdzins, M Howell, N Howell.

Heidi <editor(at)>


While I don’t want us to get into financial trouble and I’m not that troubled with our squad, if all we are aiming for this season is a mid-table finish I don’t understand why we have no money.

Are we in debt or not? We are told that the debt is structured like a mortgage and is easily manageable but we have only spent £2 million in the last 2 years. Does anybody know the truth, is there a problem at the club and if so why?

If we couldn’t afford to move to the COM then why did we? Isn’t it true that the council also gets a cut of our gate money? Well if we are only getting ten thousand more than we did at Maine Road and we are having to give a cut of that away are we any better off?

How can teams like Newcastle who since January have spent near on £40 million and Tottenham who in the last 2 years must have spent something similar to that and yet you don’t hear about them being in financial trouble. Even the likes of Charlton and Portsmouth and West Brom seem to have greater financial clout than us and yet we are told that our revenue is in European football’s top 20.

I realise that Kevin Keegan spent a lot of money and as a club we have spent about £40 million in player transfers in the last 5 years but that’s less than £10 million a year and I haven’t totted the figures up but I’m sure we have recouped nearly all of that in incoming transfers, SWP and Anelka being the bulk of that so from what I can see we have spent next to nothing in the last 5 years but are still as we are told on an ongoing basis are in debt.

When Parker, Owen etc. were available for transfer, did any of us think for the slightest minute that we would be in for them? These are the calibre of player that we should be after.

What is going on?

Billy Watkinson <billywatkinson(at)>


I have just returned from a trip and have been slow, for various reasons, to catch up with MCIVTA back numbers. I have now done so, with my usual enjoyment, and was very struck by the Why Still Blue? by David Buxton. I’m surprised that nobody has commented on it as it is a long, loving, very enjoyable look back at many years of supporting City. I thought it was excellent, especially as it covers almost exactly my years of supporting the craziest team in football.

David saw City one season before I did. I didn’t arrive in Manchester after the war until 1946 and my first match was in the by-then-sorted out Second Division, which City only stayed in one year before being promoted. It was March 1947, when, with my dad, I saw City beat Brum 1-0 in front of 60,000. By then the Platt Lane Stand was up – I didn’t think it was new, but if it wasn’t there the season before, as Mr. Buxton says, then it must have been – but all the other details are beautifully evoked in his piece. The mass of cloth caps, drab raincoats, everyone smoking, no women, getting soaked (and not always from rain), the players coming to the match on the red and cream M/CR bus with the fans – I once walked behind our left back Eric Westwood from Lloyd Street South to the player’s entrance, but was too shy to say anything. He was just as drab in his raincoat (on his 10 quid a week) as all the others going. We fans regarded the players as very much our own, especially as most stayed many seasons with the club and many had good northern accents.

The sportsmanship aspect David mentions was also very strong. There was much applause for skill by visiting players from the home fans. And we loved seeing the Tommy Lawtons, Wilf Mannions, Bert Williamses, Reg Langtons, as well as the great Matthews, Finney, etc. There was very little news from the papers or radio, so the team changes would often draw a boo at Maine Road. if Matthews or Finney or Billy Wright weren’t playing for the opposition, but they got the extra 5,000 in before they told us! To watch the great players of that era was a marvel – it was, in some important ways, the pre-commercial golden age of British football, which I think ended in the 1970s with the outbreak of fan violence and the new determination to buy success. Today I feel the whole game, at the top level, is under threat because of the total commercialisation which, as we see with Chelsea, can be surely now the only real way to success. A sport has become a product.

Back in the 40s, 50s and 60s, any number of teams could win the Cup or League. Europe was much less important, though the pioneering work by Wolves, with their great team David refers to, in participating in exciting matches against Europe’s finest was inspiring.

I recall, too, the 1948 Cup Final, when United won. As a by-then avid City supporter, I listened to it on the radio and was glad that United won because they were the second Manchester team and I often would watch them at Maine Road. I can still name their team that day, which will horrify modern City fans, I’m sure. I didn’t lose any friends or have any friends convert to the Red side as a result in Slade Lane as David did in Norfolk Avenue! He was at Wembley for the 1955 loss. I was there in 1956 for our win.

I remember, too, the way the crowd would turn on swearers and ensure that the language was kept clean-ish in front of kids, the lack of singing (only Newcastle, West Ham and Pompey away fans sang and I used to love to hear them), the over-used clichés “Keep it on the island” or “typical full-back’s shot” or “good save, goalie”. This sounds naff today but it was a good-humoured and, apart from the odd drunken squabble – and most fans couldn’t afford to drink much until Saturday night and couldn’t buy booze in the ground – and the fainting folks being passed down the terraces to the St. John’s Ambulance people after the white cloth hankies and whistles had alerted them, there wasn’t much to worry about at a match. The foul stuff sung by so-called fans about the air crash that killed Frank Swift and some other great players, is, to me, from my generation, sick and disgusting, and I’m no fecking prude.

I’d add Andy Black, Albert Emptage and Joe Fagan to David’s list of the early 40s-50s team, and for all-time favourites, I’d have to agree with him that Swift, Trautmann and Bell are tops for me (Peter Doherty was playing for Doncaster Rovers by 1946-7 but still writing a column for the MEN). I think Law was the best pure striker I ever saw in a City shirt and was gutted when we lost him after that incredible season. SWP’s transfer has greatly saddened me, too. What amazing promise and how quickly he was coming along.

Anyway, I’d like to thank David Buxton for his excellently written and evocative piece. It brought back a lot of memories and he sounds like the sort of man I would like to travel with, or stand/sit next to at a City match. We’d probably enjoy the same movies too, I’d guess!

Chris Wiseman – Calgary, Alberta <christopher382(at)>


With regard to Neil Haigh’s piece, my view of his sale is that yes, we needed the money and yes we sold our star. I don’t accept and surely few do that within 2 days of the bid coming in SWP was gone. The clubs had been discussing the sale throughout the summer in my view. The way it was presented was to ensure the club saved face. He’s not for sale then the bid came in, by then asking for a move SWP lost the right to a pay off and so the slightly increased offer was in fact probably £3 million more. That’s my view.

I further think that we remain skint despite the sale, which makes it even worse. That or the board is not convinced by SP and was reluctant to allow him to buy big. I am though encouraged to see we make bids for Ashton and as Wigan were the other bidder are in prime position to get him in Jan if Norwich aren’t in for promotion.

The positive is that for the first time I can remember (and I’m 37) we have a team that is actually playing above the sum of its parts and if this continues and we stay clear of injuries to key players, the future is almost rosy!

Alistair Shaw <shawalistair(at)>


You’re John Wardle. A few years ago, you lent a large part of your personal fortune to MCFC in unsecured loans, in order that the club could buy the players it needed to progress. Your wife (I don’t know what John Wardle’s wife is called, so let’s just call her Gladys) wonders what on earth you were thinking: “John, that’s the money we’ve built up over years and years. We have suffered and sacrificed to build up that money, lost the best years of our youth. What are you thinking handing over that kind of money – our children’s birthright – to buy a few football players?” You make all the obvious responses – it’s not like you’ll be missing the shirts off your back – and you try to reassure her as best you can: “Listen Gladys,” you say, “This man Keegan is mustard. If he’s half as good for us as he was at Newcastle we’ll be Champions’ League in a year or two. We’ll get the money back. Besides, players will come in, players will go out, the money will be spent and given back, spent and given back, time and again. Most of the time it’ll probably be safe in my pocket.” Of course, Keegan went out and spent the money “like a kid in a candy shop” as everybody always puts it. And the money went out once and never came back.

It’s the end of 03-04 and City are in a relegation dogfight. If we go down, our earning power goes right down with us. And all the players will get sold off to reduce the wage bill, at knock down rates ’cause we’re desperate, and we won’t be able to buy the players to get back up because we are servicing the loans we ran up in the Premiership. In that case, you aren’t going to see that money for years. In fact you will probably end up writing it off when you sell your share of the club after the ‘Wardle Out’ campaign. So you’ve told Keegan that you can’t afford to go down, but that just makes more storm clouds appear over his head, something which never seems to improve the team. Every week it’s a draw or a 1-0 loss. Watching Manchester City isn’t any fun any more. Nor are evenings in with the wife.

And that lad SWP. Every time the studs hit his legs you feel it in your Adam’s Apple. It really looks like the team depends on him. What a mess. How did it all end up like this?

It’s the end of 04-05 and Keegan and the club have parted ways. Pearce takes over just afterwards, it’s also right after SWP got injured. But he looks OK (thank God!). You’re hoping for the best league-wise, but at least it doesn’t look like we’ll be relegated this year.

Pearce loses his first game. But then goes on a big undefeated streak, much of it without SWP. Unfortunately as summer comes up, you can’t offer Pearce much of a transfer kitty. You were hoping to have a spend-and-replenish fund for years (that’s what the soft loans were meant to be) but it all got spent and it hardly got replenished. You took back some for Anelka, after you’d paid off PSG, and you could make that available, and you will, but, well, it feels nice just sitting in your pocket. Just for now.

Then the reporters start asking you if SWP is for sale, and you stiffen yourself to reply “Not at any price” but, right at that moment, the shadow of the last few years falls across your soul. You remember waking up trembling as City were in a relegation dogfight, going to the doctor with all kinds of weird problems (“it’s just stress” he said, “try to relax more”) and you can hear the radio 5 commentator, years from now, saying “Wright Phillips has never had that pace that used to strip down defences, not since his knee injury. There was a time when Man City were looking at £20 million for him, you know.” and your mouth suddenly blurts out “If the price is very high.”

You are Shaun Wright Phillips. Apparently, the chairman is willing to sell you if the price is very high. Then he isn’t. Then he is again. Stuart Pearce says that you are going nowhere, except when he says who he’ll buy if he is forced to let you go. Your agent says that you should go to Chelsea, because Sven will not pick you for England unless you play for a big club. The fans agree that Sven doesn’t pick you for England because you don’t play for United or Chelsea. Your adopted dad likes to look back on all his medals. Your agent says you’ll never get a medal playing for Man City. And you won’t get what you’re worth. And if you get injured, he says, that’s it. And you only have one career. And all pace players lose a yard or two in their late twenties, so you had better start winning medals now. And the chairman says you are for sale, if the price is right. And you only get one chance. And, your agent says you’re a target in the Man City team – the man they have to stop. And he’s right. You used to be allowed to play your game, but now defenders are tripling up on you. It makes it harder for you to shine, and makes a career-ending injury more likely ’cause some of those players are nutcases who want to hurt you for being good. If you were at Chelsea, your agent says, they’d have to take their attention off you. And he’s right.

But you love the fans. and you don’t want to let them down. So you say you’ll stay. And the club rejects a bid from Chelsea. So now you have decided. It’s locked in. But was that a mistake?

Is Wardle happy? Is Pearce happy? If you left, Pearce would have some money, and he’d be able to build the team he wants to build. It’s your fault that he can’t. But he says he wants you to stay, but then he would wouldn’t he? Your agent thinks you should go. That would be best for everyone. The fans will get over it. They used to think that they would never have a player like Kinkladze, but things got better after he left. It will be the same. “Don’t worry about Man City” says your agent “They’re a big club. They’ll survive. They’ll be playing football long after your career is over.”

Then another bid comes in. A chance to rethink! You just ask if you can talk. The truth is you’re not sure. Maybe if you met this Mourinho guy, you’d have a better idea.

You’re John Wardle. SWP has said he wants to talk to Chelsea. You feel… relief! You won’t have to worry about this lad picking up an injury. You’ll be able to make some money available for Stuart (but not like you did for Keegan). And you can tell the fans that Shaun asked to go, so there’ll be no Wardle-Out nonsense. So you happily wave the lad on his way, off to a bright future with the world’s #1 glamour club and a glittering England career. It all just seems too right.

You’re SWP. The chairman was so excited when you wanted to talk to Chelsea. You figure that decides it. It must be best for Man City. So there’s no issue. You sign on the line.

I disagree with Neil Haigh because I find that version of events very plausible. I think it went just the way we heard.

Bernard Molyneux <bernardmolyneux(at)>


While I can understand Neil Haigh’s and indeed the majority of City fans’ disappointment over the sale of SWP, I now firmly believe that not only was the transfer fee hugely inflated and only possible because of the ‘fantasy’ world of Chelsea, but, and I may be going out on a limb here, the City team this season is better without him.

Sure, SWP showed more skill on the ball than any City player since Kinkladze, but as also in the case with the brilliant Georgian, City were becoming a one man team that played its football ‘off the cuff’. Time and time again City would play the ball across the middle, constantly looking to release SWP. Often when he wasn’t available there was no plan ‘B’. This made playing City very easy for the opposition as they just needed to stick a couple of players on SWP to null City’s attacking options. Only when City had achieved a commanding lead was SWP given the space he needs. I can only think of Aston Villa away last season when SWP produced a magical moment when it was really needed, and even then the defence was possibly caught off guard as the game was only a couple of minutes old. Let’s not forget that SWP was in the City side that was so abysmal against Arsenal’s third team in the Cup last year, and didn’t produce anything special when it mattered against Middlesbrough in the final match. A special talent – yes, but rather than compare him to George Best and what would have happened there had he been allowed to leave in 1967, maybe we should be looking at how Liverpool did once they’d sold Michael Owen.

By allowing SWP to leave when he did, City were able to get Darius Vassell, which for only £2 million was a brilliant purchase. A young England international forward should really have commanded a fee in excess of £10 million. If Vassell had cost that amount, would we have been happier to have seen City therefore spend a considerable portion of the SWP fee? For once, City have bought sensibly and sold, in my opinion, brilliantly. The club must now be in a much better position financially. Surely with the directors’ loans paid off, City must be a very good prospect for further outside investment.

Having been to all the matches so far this season, it has been very encouraging to note the variation in City’s attacking play, with first time passes to feet involving all the forward players. Sinclair has been a revelation in SWP’s rôle, with both crosses for Cole’s winning goals, the winning goal himself at Sunderland, and a brilliant first time flick inside to Barton that created the opening for the first goal at Birmingham.

While we may no longer be able to witness one of SWP’s brilliant runs as he goes past 3 players, we now have a City side that plays as a team and is winning matches.

As regards SWP’s return with Chelsea in December, I for one will be applauding him loudly for the excitement he has given over the past few seasons, but screaming with delight even more when Thatcher takes him out in the first minute.

Colin Jonas <colinjonas(at)>


I thought Neil wrote a very eloquent article here, and he raises some interesting questions.

Much of this situation is, however, academic to pick over – except for the sake of a good argument, but I believe the price we did sell SWP for (which I think was an extreme one, but which possibly could have been a little higher but not that much higher) will prohibit him from ever playing at City again, and that is indeed a great sadness.

The great news though is Stuart Pearce. I cannot emphasize how much respect I have for the man and also his management. I really hope that the board recognises how fortunate they have been in securing the services and talents of this man with the exceptional zeal, passion, and commitment that he exhibits and transfers to his team, and my hope is he stays on in this position for a very long time to come.

It’s always swings and roundabouts, but I for one am very happy with the outcome of this course of events.

  • SWP to Chelsea – £21 million with Roman’s credit card
  • Stuart Pearce as our manager – ‘priceless’.

Simon – exiled in Altanta, USA <AlienUK(at)>


I was very interested in Neil’s article about SWP’s departure as it echoed my own thoughts about the events surrounding it. To be honest, something smells about the whole thing. The sad thing is that if the slightly implausible tale spun by the club is not correct then someone in all of this is lying. If SWP did have a sudden change of heart then it is another victory for the insidious Kenyon/Zahavi axis operating their sneaky whispering campaigns (and not-so-sneaky “meeting players in restaurants” campaigns). You can hear it now: “You can have an England starting berth if you are with Chelsea…”, “this may be your only chance…”. Sadly, the pliable Eriksson just plays along with this. His comments about SWP and Cole combining for the England goal beggar belief (something along the lines of Mourhino being able to inspire his players to new heights – which proves that Eriksson either did not watch SWP at all last season or he just says what he is told to say).

On the other hand, if SWP did not have a change of heart and was asked (or told) to leave by the club, then not only is it a shame to be deceived by the club but it is sad that SWP would go along with it and not refute the story.

Either way, I’m a bit tired of football clubs treating fans as bovine idiots who will accept whatever stories they concoct – whether that is about their financial genius or the unlimited potential of a new player. I think that most fans – apart from the ones who swapped their Arsenal shirts for Chelsea ones over the summer – accept that “your investment can go up as well as down”. This must be especially true of City fans.

Still, we will never really know or maybe only when we are old and grey(-er). In the meantime, I’d rather they said nothing than spinning stories.

Andy Longshaw <andy(at)>


The thing that has upset me most re the transfer of SWP to Chelsea is SWP himself.

The fact is that he’s gone but what surprises me most about the lad is why he’s never been in the paper etc. and done the customary ‘Thank you’ to the club, the fans etc.

As someone who is involved with he Junior Blues, SWP was a big hero of the kids and was involved in the Pantomime for the last few years. The kids loved him along with adults alike and I’m surprised he’s never actually done a media piece.

Hate to say it but even the only just better looking one of the Neville’s thanked the club and the fans when he left for Everton.

Come on SWP – you’ll always be a City legend to me but I’ve fallen out with you at the moment!

Debs Darbyshire <dd(at)>


In response to Neil Haigh’s opinions about the departure of SWP in July.

At the time I was totally surprised by his U-turn because his language in the early part of the close season was clear in that he was happy at City and that he did not want to leave. My personal worries concerned the fact that I felt City would struggle to turn down a bid in excess of £20 million and if that happened the decision would be made for SWP, irrespective of his desire to stay at City.

Despite this I was comforted initially by the fact that the club were implying that they did not want to sell SWP. However, I too was disappointed when he changed his mind following Chelsea’s initial bid, because I didn’t feel his reasons for leaving (i.e. to establish himself in the England team in time for Germany 2006) held any weight as I truly believe he was well on his way to achieving this thanks to his performances in a City shirt.

Again I was comforted that the club turned down the initial bid but why did they accept Chelsea’s marginally increased bid so quickly when SWP had a change of heart? He was still under contract at City and if the club truly didn’t want to sell him under any circumstances, why were they so quick to accept the revised bid? He’s a true professional and I believe he would have accepted the club’s decision if we had turned Chelsea down.

The truth is I believe that the clubs position was untenable. Yes, SWP is a fantastic talent and I firmly believe that at City he was underrated by fans and players of other clubs because if he continues to improve as he has year in, year out since establishing himself in the City side then he has the potential to become an all-time great – we all know he is that good. However, it is clear the club were not in a position to turn down silly money and our lack of activity the transfer market was giving cause for concern. £21 million is pure profit and allows the clearance of some debt and the club to compete with most teams outside of the top three in the transfer market and bring players in both up to and beyond the next transfer window.

Judging by the sort of money laid out this summer, I think we got more than a fair price for SWP and given the team’s performances so far this season, we are showing that there is life after him. While I too was gutted to see him leave and seeing him play for Chelsea is somewhat surreal, the club made the right decision because the sale of one player has significantly improved the club’s financial plight. We can only look back at when Kinkladze was at City and we so desperately kept hold of him when it would have made perfect sense to have sold him much sooner than when we did. In the end I believe that the club could only have kept hold of SWP had its financial situation been the total opposite of what it is. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case and we all have opinions as to who might be to blame for that one!

Graham Keller <gkmcfc(at)>


News reaches us from Stephen W, one of a few United fans who have read McV for a number of years (but we won’t hold that against them, there are some decent ones out there!).

Stephen thought that, as sections of City supporters and other clubs are grumbling at prices and perhaps thinking it’s just them, you might like to take a look at the prices the Reds are having to fork out now for early round Chumps’ League tickets vs. Benfica: £26 to £41, reducing in bands of £s according to which level, corner, side and colour seats you have.

It will be interesting to see how many tickets are sold for the game, and is the first indication of Glazer’s bumping up prices and following Chelsea.

Heidi <editor(at)>


I’ve been stirring for some time now about Simon Cooper’s FFC City article posted in MCIVTA 1148 by Christie McDonald.

The fact is I don’t get the FFC City thing. I’ve racked it over and over in my brain and I just don’t get it.

Fine, there is a growing discontent amongst football fans – about time if you asked me! Fans deserted the game in droves in the 80’s (albeit for different reasons) and if it happens again then maybe it’s the kick up the a**e that the game in this country needs. Yes, I am disillusioned. Where’s the atmosphere? Where’s the competition? Why are players to massively overpaid? Why are admission prices up and down the country so high? Bring back standing. These arguments could go on forever.

Simple fact: until there is a complete overhaul at the highest level of the football authorities to get control of clubs’ spending, the game will continue to suffer. It’s not about creating an alternative, it’s about making them understand.

How can anyone bemoan the way things are going at the club? Despite the crippling overspend that was the early Keegan era, I actually think that at the moment the club is being run reasonably well by people that are fans of City. I feel the club is doing its best in difficult circumstances to keep up – we cannot stand still like we did under Swales for so many years and have to remain competitive.

Just don’t attempt to create a so-called affiliatory club in the fans’ name and claim it’s for fans of the future because it means nothing and it’s tantamount to what comes out of a bull’s backside after it’s scoffed a big meal! FFC City/Maine Road (whatever!) is not a club that my son can go to because it’s all I or he will be able to afford. Kids aren’t and will never be inspired by watching semi-pro football, end of. My son for one, and I for one am City. Always have been, always will be, there is not and can never be an alternative for me. I was there in the 2nd Division when the Premier League seemed a long way off and I’ll continue to go while the purse allows me! If there comes a time when I can’t afford then so be it, I guess I’ll have to reluctantly tend the garden or go shopping with the wife! Both potentially painful experiences for entirely different reasons!

[You’re not alone in not understanding the rationale Graham, I haven’t come across one fan who does! – Ed]

Graham Keller <gkmcfc(at)>


I seem to remember someone touching on this in the MCIVTA awhile back, but it’s now online for your viewing pleasure:

For the uninitiated, “Get Fuzzy” is a popular American comic strip… the author, Darby Conley, is an American but also a big fan of rugby and soccer. In the past he’s devoted storylines to rugby video games, the All Blacks, and even based a Sunday strip around Hartlepool FC (!) a month or so ago. The online archives only go back a month and this won’t be online much longer, so see it now before it’s too late.

CTID, Pete Stein <pstein(at)>


Ex-pat Blue looking for just 1 ticket in the City end for this Saturday’s big one. It’s some request, I know, but it’s my only weekend in England this year and for the forseeable future. Any leads will be much appreciated!

Kiran Gowda <kirangowda(at)>


Does anyone know if any satellite channels are covering the derby live?

[The Irish channel RTE – Ed]

Richard Stoodley <Richard(at)>


KL Blues will gather for the forthcoming derby. Any Blues in KL or passing by are invited to join us. Call on 016 3668798 or email.

Shahrin Osman <mancity_mal(at)>


I wish to remind all Italian Blues’ fans who appreciate like me the MCIVTA newsletters a very important notice from Sky TV.

Next Saturday at 4.00 pm they fortunately shall show on direct our away game against the Rags.

I suggest a very good lunch before this so important appointment, then a big glass of beer during the game and, naturally, fingers crossed for SP and his fantastic boys.

Come on Blues forever! I’ll be with you at the COMS for the next Hammers game, OK?

Renato Tubére <tubere(at)>


Would anyone be able to put me in touch with other London Blues/London supporters’ clubs contacts to see if they can help?

Paul Boland <pboland(at)>

Are there any pubs in which London-based City fans congregate to watch matches on television? I’m going to be starting university in London in a couple of weeks and I’d like a good environment in which to watch the matches (those which are on telly).

Harry Stopes


Does anyone know a pub in the Edinburgh area (preferably central) that is showing the derby game?

If so can you e-mail me please.

M Paterson <mpaterson(at)>


The Greyhound in Dunnington just outside York will be showing the derby on Saturday. Would be good to be surrounded by Blues.

Ian Barton <ian(at)>


The Irish station RTE is showing the game Saturday against the Rags and can be seen in Amsterdam at the Blarney Stone.

Bob Price <bob.price(at)>


I was sent this question today: “The youth Academy was formed in 1998 and has according to the club had 16 of their products realise 1st team débuts in that time – can you let me know who they are?”

My reply to the enquiry was: “I don’t have anything concrete, but flicking through some spreadsheets, I have come up with 20 possible names, so that’s four too many, but which 4 are not Academy products I don’t really know.” Can anybody correct the list to make it correct?

  • Shaun Wright-Phillips
  • Bradley Wright-Phillips
  • Nedum Onuoha
  • Lee Croft
  • Willo Flood
  • Stephen Jordan
  • Jonathan D’Laryea
  • Stephen Elliott
  • Joey Barton
  • Chris Shuker
  • Dickson Etuhu
  • Terry Dunfield
  • Glenn Whelan
  • Tyrone Mears
  • Nick Fenton
  • Chris Killen
  • Leon Mike
  • Alan Bailey
  • Stephen Rimmer
  • Gary Mason

Unused subs:

  • Stephen Hodgson
  • Richard McKinney
  • Rhys Day
  • Brian Murphy
  • Patrick McCarthy

Steve Kay <steve(at)>


League table to 06 September 2005 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD Pts
 1 Chelsea          4  2  0  0  5  0  2  0  0  3  0  4  0  0   8   0   8  12
 2 Manchester City  4  1  1  0  2  1  2  0  0  4  2  3  1  0   6   3   3  10
 3 Charlton Ath.    3  1  0  0  1  0  2  0  0  6  1  3  0  0   7   1   6   9
 4 Manchester Utd   3  1  0  0  1  0  2  0  0  4  0  3  0  0   5   0   5   9
 5 Bolton Wndrs     4  1  0  1  2  1  1  1  0  4  3  2  1  1   6   4   2   7
 6 Tottenham H.     4  1  0  1  2  2  1  1  0  2  0  2  1  1   4   2   2   7
 7 Arsenal          3  2  0  0  6  1  0  0  1  0  1  2  0  1   6   2   4   6
 8 Aston Villa      4  1  1  0  3  2  0  1  1  1  2  1  2  1   4   4   0   5
 9 West Ham United  3  1  0  1  4  3  0  1  0  0  0  1  1  1   4   3   1   4
10 Liverpool        2  1  0  0  1  0  0  1  0  0  0  1  1  0   1   0   1   4
11 Blackburn R.     4  1  1  0  2  1  0  0  2  1  4  1  1  2   3   5  -2   4
12 Middlesbrough    4  0  1  1  0  3  1  0  1  3  2  1  1  2   3   5  -2   4
13 Birmingham City  4  0  0  2  1  5  1  1  0  3  2  1  1  2   4   7  -3   4
14 Fulham           4  1  1  0  1  0  0  0  2  2  6  1  1  2   3   6  -3   4
15 West Brom A.     4  1  0  1  4  4  0  1  1  0  4  1  1  2   4   8  -4   4
16 Wigan Athletic   3  1  0  1  1  1  0  0  1  0  1  1  0  2   1   2  -1   3
17 Everton          3  0  0  1  0  2  1  0  1  1  1  1  0  2   1   3  -2   3
18 Portsmouth       4  0  1  1  1  3  0  0  2  2  4  0  1  3   3   7  -4   1
19 Newcastle Utd    4  0  1  1  0  2  0  0  2  0  4  0  1  3   0   6  -6   1
20 Sunderland       4  0  0  2  2  5  0  0  2  0  2  0  0  4   2   7  -5   0

With thanks to Football 365

MCIVTA FAQ [v0506.02]

[1] MCIVTA Addresses

Articles (Heidi Pickup)          :
News/rumour (Don Barrie)         :
Subscriptions (Madeleine Hawkins):
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[2] What are MCIVTA’s publishing deadlines?

Deadlines for issues are nominally 6pm, Monday and Thursday evenings bu email. Unfortunately we cannot accept email attachments.

[3] 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.

[4] What is the club’s official web site?

The official club web site can be found at

[5] 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”.

[6] Where can I find out about the fans’ committee?

The Fans’ Committee operates as an interface between supporters and the club. The Fans’ Committee has been relaunched as “Points of Blue”. It has appeared on the club website as a minor entry under “Fans Zone”.

[7] 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

[8] 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

[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

[13] Where can I find a list of City-related websites?

Try Wookie’s Lair:

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 #1154