Newsletter #1176

News this week on City’s escape to the Peaks, potential transfer targets and reaction to Blackburn.

City’s reserves again threw away a 2-0 lead, this time to go down 2-4 against the Rags on Wednesday night (haven’t had chance to get the report out yet).

We also have reality checks, and King Colin doing his rounds.

Next game: Liverpool, home, 3pm Saturday 26 November 2005


General News

Ben Thatcher’s Big Blue Helmet: Saturday’s Sun brought us more details of City’s recent team bonding exercise in the Peak District – and perhaps we had a little too much detail, if truth be told. Mr. Pearce told the newspaper: “We do these things to just freshen them up. The players can go to Dubai on their own but I think this was about team-building and bringing us closer together. And when you see Ben Thatcher running about a wood wearing nothing but a blue helmet, it reinforces that. We did a bit of abseiling and a bit of climbing. I think when you start treating them like a bunch of tarts then you can’t be surprised when they start acting in that way. There’s a big thing at the moment saying that footballers are precious, they are this, they are that. Then all of a sudden if you have to worry about going away to climb over a few barrels and building a little bit of character, you start thinking ‘hang on a minute’. If you start treating people preciously, they start acting a little bit precious and then they won’t want to start tackling out on the pitch.” Pearce admits his methods would not have been welcomed by some ex-Blues — but vowed to stick by his approach. The manager said: “It wasn’t really Nicolas Anelka’s cup of tea but I’ve been a great believer that you do it for the majority and not the minority. So if I think it’s right and the majority of the players want to do it, we do it. If the majority come to me and say it’s not for us any more then we won’t do it, it’s as simple as that.” It’ll be interesting to see which squad member would have the bottle to lead that delegation to the manager’s door.

Mini-Derby Defeat: The Reserves finally got to play their match with the Reds on Wednesday evening, having seen Monday night’s fixture with Keano’s former employers called off due to fog. Perhaps the Blues wished that the game hadn’t taken place – having taken a 2-0 lead inside the first half hour, City succumbed to a Giuseppe Rossi hat-trick (isn’t he the lead singer of Status Quo?), helping the visitors to a 4-2 triumph, damn them. City’s goalscorers were Antoine Sibierski and BWP. Coach Steve Wigley mused: “I think we conceded goals at bad times, a minute before half time and a couple of minutes after half time. It should have been done and dusted in the first half; we had numerous chances to win the game, at least to go in four or five up at half time.” Wigley added: “I always knew they’d come out in the second half and play better. We didn’t start well, and at 2-2 we still had chances. I thought we gifted them the game with a couple of silly mistakes.” Team: Schmeichel; Logan, Collins, Onuoha, Richards; Laird, Miller, Sibierski (Johnson 84), Sinclair (Etuhu 46); Fowler, Wright-Phillips. Unused subs: Bermingham, Matthewson, Ward.

Transfer News and Gossip

Not Keane: I saw Roy Keane’s assault on Alfie Haaland on TV over the weekend. I’d not seen it for a few years, and you forget how vicious it was. Keano’s career highlights were being aired because the lovely Reds’ skipper parted company with the Double Glazers’ organisation (by “mutual consent” of course), so a tidal wave of speculation was unleashed over where Keane’s next club might be. SP was asked for his opinion on his former Nottingham Forest team-mate. His comments meant that City’s name was added to the list of interested clubs, although I like to think that media-savvy Pearce was simply being diplomatic. “I think this club would like to be associated with good players and Roy Keane falls into that category,” said SP. “Every club in the world at the moment has their name attached to Roy Keane. I think the fact we are in a city where he lives and works means we might be attached as well. As long as this club continues to get attached to good players I think that is a good thing. We are certainly looking at players who might improve our team – we always are and always will be and Roy is a good player, one who can improve our team. He is a good player and that is borne out by the number of teams who have been associated with a player who has only been released by his club for a couple of days. He is a big, big footballer, he has got leadership qualities in abundance, he’s got ability in abundance and wherever Roy goes to play his football now I’m sure he will be a credit to that side he joins.” Could Keane ever cross the inter-city divide? “Andy Cole has done it, not a problem. As long as they give 110% effort for that club the British public are very forgiving,” he said. Celtic remain favourites to sign the 176-year-old hard man.

Happy Haapala: City have extended Finnish midfielder Tuomas Haapala’s trial period by another week. The 26-year-old was expected to join Serie B outfit Vicenza on a week’s trial after being offered a contract by the Italian club. But SP has been impressed by Haapala over the last seven days and wants a further look. “Vicenza have offered me a contract but when City wanted to keep me I didn’t need to think twice,” Haapala said. Pearce confirmed the extension to Haapala’s stay. “He’s stayed with us, we had a chat with him on Friday to see if it would be possible for him to stay on. He was pencilled in to go to a club in Italy, but we asked him to stay on for another week. We thought that a week has not been enough for him to do himself justice, and it’s certainly not been enough for us to assess him.”

No Growl at Wolves: There’s been another report linking Robbie Fowler with a loan move to a Championship side. Last week Southampton were the alleged recipients of the man the Kop once called “God”, this week it’s Wolverhampton Wanderers who had the ‘honour’. Manager Glenn Hoddle was having none of it: he was forced to rely on a football cliché to deny the tale. “It just shows how much journalists get it wrong: they hit row Z when they shoot,” averred Eileen Drury’s favourite client.

Bits and Bobs: The rumours surrounding Ajax pair Tomas Galasek and Steven Pienaar refuse to go away. The M.E.N. reports this week that SP may well be moving for the duo in January, as both are out of contract at the end of the season, so could be available for small fees. Here’s a new name for consideration – both Arsenal and City are thought to be vying for the signature of Nuremberg’s giant striker Stefan Kiessling. Kiessling has been in impressive form in the Bundesliga this season but it’ll cost any team wishing to sign the 21-year-old – a fee of £4 million has been mentioned. Steed Malbranque meanwhile admits that he may leave Fulham soon – but only for a bigger club. “I am living with two big ambitions,” Malbranque told The Sunday Times. “To play for France and maybe one day with a bigger club in England.”

Ex-Blues’ News

Keegan Korner: More attentive readers (come on, someone must be out there!) will have noticed that last week’s News Summary contained no Kevin Keegan story. The News Editor was concerned, but is pleased to announce that Mr. K’s people have done us proud again this week – KK has been mentioned as a possible contender for the Republic of Ireland’s vacant manager’s post. Late last Thursday, bookmakers were refusing to take any more bets on our former Boss Man, following a large number of wagers being placed on Keegan succeeding Brian Kerr. There was even some talk on the football chatrooms this week that Keegan might be a successor to Alex McLeish as Glasgow Rangers boss. The Sir Alex clone is looking increasingly likely to lose his job in December, and in amongst the names of potential replacements is none other than Special K. Meanwhile, Richard Dunne has backed Terry Venables’ bid to become the next manager of Ireland. “I have spoken to a couple of the lads who worked with Terry Venables at Leeds,” Dunne said last week. “They really enjoyed his training and tactical ideas. He seemed to treat everyone with respect and they felt he was a good man to work for. Ireland doesn’t need a big-name appointment but we do need someone who can excite people and get the public behind the team. Terry Venables is capable of doing that and if he was appointment I am sure it would go down well with the rest of the squad.”

Paulo Picks Pompey: Last week Paulo Wanchope announced that he was very close to a deal with an English Premiership club – well the press think that the club might be Portsmouth. Pompey boss Alain Perrin admits he is keen to add him to his squad at Fratton Park. “Wanchope was a target in June but we have to continue to get information about him,” the Frenchman told Sky Sports. “Maybe – why not? We have not decided because we have many options. We are looking for strikers everywhere in the world. It’s not the time to take players. I don’t know if I can take this player now. In January, we have time to work and to find the best option for us.”

Reactions and Comments

Psycho’s the Only Spark: City and Blackburn played out a goalless draw at the CoMS on Saturday – the fourth consecutive Premiership stalemate between the two teams. Goalkeepers David James and Brad Friedel both enjoyed quiet afternoons as the defences came out on top, with strikers Andy Cole and Paul Dickov failing to shine against their respective former clubs. It was generally agreed that the most entertaining incidents occurred as SP was spoken to by referee Martin Atkinson after twice running onto the field of play in an attempt to get the visitors moving. First he ran menacingly towards Steven Reid as the Rovers’ winger carried the ball away from a City free kick, before chasing onto the pitch to place the ball for a Blackburn set piece after Robbie Savage allowed it to run past him and out of play. BBC’s Match of the Day 2 on Sunday night featured a slowed down close up of Mr.P. looking enraged as he advanced on Reid, and a scary sight it was too. Blackburn manager Sparky Marky Hughes wasn’t too impressed by Psycho’s intrusions: “I don’t know what Stuart was up to but I told him afterwards he might get a game next week! I don’t know what the rules are – I got sent off at Chelsea for kicking a bag and he just gets a talking to for running on the pitch.” Pearce couldn’t resist a gag at Hughes’ expense as he explained his actions. “I think kicking bags is disgusting – I just tried to speed the game up,” he said in his defence. “You only get in trouble for trying to slow the game and I just wanted to get the ball back in play. The referee said he understood that by my body language I had made my message clear. We were trying to set a tempo as the home team and Blackburn were using every opportunity to stifle us and slow it down. I’m not blaming Blackburn because they did their job well and got the point they wanted.” Warming to his theme, Pearce continued: “We are the home team and we obviously want to set a tempo to the game and I was asking the guys to do that all week. Mark’s side stifled the game a touch. Every opportunity they had to slow the game down they did but I won’t knock them for that. They are effective in doing so. They have come here and got what they deserved, probably what they were hoping for – a point.” Hughes virtually admitted as much. “Given the preparations I thought we did well, but the defences dominated the game” he said. “We had to rejig the side and I thought we bossed the first half before City came back into it.”

Middle Sun: You can tell how gripping a game it was – the club website, obviously anxious for some copy on the game, featured Sun Jihai’s musings on his game as a central midfielder. Well folks, I’m not proud, so I’m quoting Sun as well. Asked if he enjoyed the position, Jihai said “Yes, especially in the second half. In the first half I was still needing to learn more about it with it being a new rôle for me, but I think I did better in the second half. In the first half we didn’t give enough pressure, and after the gaffer told us to give them more pressure I felt the team did better. To be honest I want to play the game in whatever position I am asked to play in. If the gaffer tells me, ‘you’ll play here’, I will do it. If he tells me I’m on the bench, I’ll be ready for the game.”

Squad News

Miller Time Soon? Steve Wigley has revealed that striker Ishmael Miller could be set to go out on loan to a Coca-Cola Football League club in the New Year. “A lot of people have rung about Ishmael but what I have said to them is that come Christmas he will be ready for them,” Wigley said. “At that time I think he will be ready to go into the Football League and do well and I’m talking about some decent clubs, some good clubs in all divisions who I’ve been pleased when they have rung up.” Elsewhere, Danny Warrender is enjoying first-team football after extending his loan at Blackpool. “It’s a big chance for everyone to get a look at me and hopefully if we can pick up a few more wins, more people will see me,” he said this week. “It’s been an experience. I didn’t have the best of games at Doncaster, playing against McIndoe who is a great player was a huge experience. The lads looked after me though and to be still in the next starting 11 in the next game was fantastic.”

The Case for the Defence: We bring you a trio of stories concerning City’s defensive stalwarts. First, SP is confident of tying skipper Sylvain Distin down to an extended deal. “Sylvain is quite aware of how much we think about him,” said Pearce. “We want him to stay and we will be having a meeting with him very shortly. For about six months after he was given the captaincy, Sylvain was struggling within himself to find out what the rôle actually meant. But since he settled into the job he just got stronger and stronger. He is an absolute credit to have as a captain.” Pearce has also counselled ace helmet wearer Ben Thatcher to be patient as he seeks to regain a first team place. Thatch suffered a hamstring injury before October’s Everton match, since when Stephen Jordan has ably deputised at left-back. “Ben’s got to be a little bit patient; with his nature he does get frustrated, but he’s a winner and that’s why I like him around the club, and I want him around the club. Stephen has come in and he’s done well, so it’s difficult for me to turn round and say, ‘you’ve got to go out because there is a senior player who’s now fit.’ I’ve got to make that call, and I’ve got to make it when it’s right and ready to do so. It’s down to the players if they are not in the side to keep grafting away to get in it. As we’ve seen after 14 league and cup games, near enough everyone’s had a chance to get into the first team. The chances are that if you are not in the line-up, it only takes one injury – just look at Saturday’s midfield line-up.” Meanwhile, Richard Dunne has targeted qualification for Europe as a minimum for City this season. Dunne says: “Anything but Europe this year would be a failure for us. We were unfortunate to miss out on the UEFA Cup last year but maybe it was a year too early. Over the full season I don’t think we really deserved to qualify but we have set our mind on doing so this season, and that is our aim. So far, everything has gone quite well, we have performed well in games and the overall standard has gone up.”

Don Barrie <news(at)>


I’m sorry but I can’t stand by and read a match report like Graham’s (MCIVTA 1175) without piping up in defence of Stuart Pearce and his players. To me, Graham comes across as one of life’s great pessimists, the sort of bloke who is never happier than when he’s having a good old bleat about City.

No consistency? Who can recall the last City side to go on a 19-game run without conceding two goals in a game? That run came to an end at Fulham a fortnight ago and we immediately came back with a clean sheet against a Blackburn side who didn’t create a single noteworthy goalscoring opportunity on the back of a 4-1 victory over Charlton.

I appreciate they didn’t come to attack us but how many times have we seen teams score with their only opportunity at Eastlands? This is the Premiership in 2005. Managers spend all week on Pro-Zone analysing every little detail about their next opposition and players get paid fortunes to carry out tactical instructions to the letter. Unfortunately, the pressure for results in this day and age means we get teams like Blackburn going away from home and spoiling games with incessant time-wasting and niggly fouls to disrupt the play against teams who they fear.

For me, City’s players did half of their job perfectly by refusing to be sucked into the trap of allowing Blackburn to capitalise on one solitary lapse in concentration. Okay, so those players came up a little short in the other half of their job in terms of getting quality into the box and making the most of what few opportunities did come our way.

However, as we’re talking about a team who accounted for nearly 40 per cent of October’s ‘Goal of the Month’ entries for the entire Premiership, I suppose we can regard Saturday as an off day in that respect.

I know Graham wrote his report on Saturday night and I dare say it was in the MCIVTA inbox within around two or three hours after the final whistle. He was obviously frustrated but he shouldn’t be directing that frustration at his own team who, to my mind, gave it their all but just lacked the required inspiration to score an opening goal that would have opened the game up.

If he seriously thinks we’ve suddenly slipped back into the dark old days after one off-colour performance then all I can say is: get a grip!

Mike Holden <MikeHoldenMCFC(at)>


It was clear our best man on the field last week was none other than SP himself!

I, and I am sure many at the ground, felt the same frustration at City’s inability to break down a poor Blackburn side. The first thirty minutes passed by without a serious attacking incident. What we needed was a bit of width and someone competing in the middle. Sun was ineffective in midfield and Lee Croft seemed to be marked by two players every time he had the ball. I think Sinclair should have been brought on earlier to change the balance. Nice to see Bradley come on before the end: too little too late!

I only hope that the players raise their game for the Liverpool match. I am convinced all these international breaks do not help continuity. I am also sceptical about the effect of adventure courses in the Peak District… all the players seemed to have lost their spark.

Ian Richardson <kinkladze(at)>


A piece from this weeks Voetbal International states that Stuart Pearce was at the Ajax – Sparta Praag game Tuesday having a look at Steven Pienaar, who has decided to leave Ajax.

Not soon enough for a couple of season ticket holders I know but that is beside the point.

He’s a good young player who will be playing in the African Cup for five weeks in January and February for South Africa. City have not made an official approach but the magazine says the player is high on Pearce’s shopping list.

Bob Price <bob.price(at)>


Not sure whether the lads who said ‘Sign Roy Keane’ were saying it in jest, but signing him would be it for me. I still remember looking on with absolute horror when he tackled Alfie and then proceeded to stand over him and yell abuse. I know it was payback for a similar incident when Alfie was at Leeds, but from what I recall Keane was playing it up to get a Leeds player sent off. Not even sure if it was Alfie who made the tackle (maybe someone else can shed light on this?). That sort of vicious, vindictive violence (you know, I never intended to use all those V’s) has been indicative of his entire career and while I would wish no-one ill will, if he got hit by a truck tomorrow I wouldn’t shed a tear. If he ever got it in his head to wear a City shirt, he could have mine because I would have nothing to do with him or City from that point on.

A couple of shaky results, losses of a few key players we really couldn’t afford and the pessimistic crew come into full voice. Fact is, we are 13 games in, 4 points away from 2nd place, and we have managed to blood another two Academy players, one of which is impressing beyond all expectations. We could lose at the weekend and I would still look at this season as being a good one. Hey, got a wild idea, let’s just get behind our team win or lose until, let’s say, January. It’ll be a change from our usual moaning and complaining.

Nic Ranson <bluemanx(at)>


The next meeting of the Swinton branch is on Tuesday 29th November KO 8-00pm. Venue: Swinton Conservative Club, Swinton Shopping Precinct.

Confirmed guests are City legend Colin Bell and Ian Cheeseman. There will be the usual Q&A session with the King. Colin’s recently released book ‘Reluctant Hero’ will be available for those wishing to buy themselves or a loved one an early Christmas present with Colin Bell on hand to sign the book and pose for a photo.

All Blues welcome, just turn up on the night and enjoy the company of fellow Blues and a real City legend.

Alex Channon <channons(at)>


League table to 23 November 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         13  7  0  0 21  4  4  1  1 10  3 11  1  1  31   7  24  34
 2 Wigan Athletic  12  4  1  2  8  6  4  0  1  7  2  8  1  3  15   8   7  25
 3 Manchester Utd  12  2  2  1  5  4  5  1  1 14  8  7  3  2  19  12   7  24
 4 Arsenal         12  6  0  0 13  2  1  2  3  6  8  7  2  3  19  10   9  23
 5 Bolton Wndrs    12  4  1  1  6  1  3  1  2  8 10  7  2  3  14  11   3  23
 6 Tottenham H.    13  3  3  1  7  4  2  3  1  7  5  5  6  2  14   9   5  21
 7 Manchester City 13  4  2  1  9  4  2  1  3  6  7  6  3  4  15  11   4  21
 8 West Ham United 12  4  1  1 11  4  1  3  2  5  7  5  4  3  16  11   5  19
 9 Liverpool       11  4  1  1  8  4  1  3  1  4  4  5  4  2  12   8   4  19
10 Charlton Ath.   12  1  1  4  5 10  5  0  1 12  7  6  1  5  17  17   0  19
11 Middlesbrough   13  3  2  2 10 10  2  1  3  8  8  5  3  5  18  18   0  18
12 Blackburn R.    13  4  1  1 10  5  1  2  4  5 10  5  3  5  15  15   0  18
13 Newcastle Utd   13  3  2  1  6  5  2  1  4  6  8  5  3  5  12  13  -1  18
14 Fulham          13  3  1  2  8  6  0  2  5  6 13  3  3  7  14  19  -5  12
15 Aston Villa     13  1  2  3  6 10  2  1  4  7 12  3  3  7  13  22  -9  12
16 West Brom A.    13  3  0  4 12 12  0  2  4  1 10  3  2  8  13  22  -9  11
17 Portsmouth      13  0  3  3  3  8  2  1  4  8 10  2  4  7  11  18  -7  10
18 Everton         12  1  1  3  2  5  2  0  5  2 11  3  1  8   4  16 -12  10
19 Birmingham City 12  0  1  5  3 10  1  2  3  4  7  1  3  8   7  17 -10   6
20 Sunderland      13  0  2  5  7 17  1  0  5  5 10  1  2 10  12  27 -15   5

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1176