Newsletter #1194

City overcame mid-match jitters as we beat Wigan by a single goal and the prize of an away tie at Aston Villa in the 5th round. It’s all about getting through and we managed that; not the best of games but some bright spells with Riera looking better each game, and Sinclair has to be most improved player this season. We have an excellent match report tonight thanks to Colin.

Despite the rumours, and denials, Fowler did indeed return to his roots on Friday leaving us to count the cost and reflect on his time here – plenty of opinion on that tonight obviously. Samaras is due to complete his move this week, assuming medical goes to plan. No pressure on the lad with a £9 million price tag!

More rumours tonight include Barton handing in a transfer request as contract negotiations hit a stumbling block. It’s never dull with MCFC.

The troubled Toon visit on Wednesday, as City look to get back to winning league form and two wins on the bounce.

Next game: Newcastle United, home, 7.45pm Wednesday 1 February 2006


We couldn’t have asked for much more really. A home tie against a team that had taken part in a gruelling Carling Cup semi-final second leg a few days before and had already booked their first major cup final appearance. Wigan’s line-up seemed to be saying “Help yourself – we’re not bothered” with half the midweek winning team not starting. Roberts, Kavanagh, Bullard, Henchoz, and Pollitt were all on the bench, to our great delight and astonishment whereas City started with what would be regarded as their first choice team. Of course, Robbie Fowler was not part of this squad, having gone back to Liverpool the day before. No-one could understand this – he was cup-tied anyway so would another couple of days have made a difference?

Inside CoMS, the top tiers on both the East and Colin Bell stands were closed and Wigan had only brought about 3,000 instead of the 6,000 that Scunthorpe managed. Of the stands I could see, the bottom tier of the North Stand was relatively sparsely populated but the rest of the ground seemed to be quite full.

The first twenty minutes were played in the Wigan half of the pitch and a number of opportunities fell to City players, although the so-called final ball was often lacking. Cole and Vassell were caught offside and Cole did a couple of little flicks that would have been better if he actually had his eyes open. On twenty minutes, like the light above a snooker club table after the money has run out, the game suddenly died. There’s really no other way to describe it – both sides were utterly shapeless and neither could string two passes together. Wigan had an excuse but we had our first team out playing their reserves. The atmosphere, which hadn’t been that great to start with, reflected the play. Often (and this is no exaggeration) the only sounds that could be heard were the shouts of the players on the pitch.

Half-time came and we hoped that SP might shake them up during the interval. There was a flutter early in the half when a Wigan defender passed the ball back to Filan, who caught it. The Wigan players protested but it was clearly a deliberate pass. The ball was about a yard in front of the penalty spot and the whole Wigan team was lined up in the goalmouth. However, Dunne blasted the ball, somewhat unsubtly, against their legs instead of trying to get some lift. City then forced Filan into a save but the game then carried on in exactly the same tedious pattern. The crowd was becoming somewhat fractious and I witnessed three incidents where City fans nearly came to blows. This was no doubt a combination of the frustrating game, the seeming lack of activity in the transfer market and some utterly bizarre decisions by the assistant on the East stand side, including an offside flag when there wasn’t a City player within three yards of the Wigan back four. Perhaps he’d forgotten that the teams had changed ends at half-time.

City brought on Wright-Phillips and most of the crowd expected the largely ineffectual Cole to be the one to make way but it was Vassell. Wigan then started to believe that they could get something out of the game and on came Roberts and Bullard, while Musampa replaced Riera. The game started to come to life and Wigan had a goal disallowed for offside. Then, on seventy-five minutes, one of those trademark City defensive lapses. I can only imagine they must practice them on the training ground.

A high ball into the area was headed upwards rather than outwards by Distin (and how often does he do that?). As per the first goal at Bolton the week before, three or four Wigan players managed to play the ball in the City area, totally untroubled by any City players. Roberts’ shot was somehow saved by James, leaving Francis what appeared to be a simple tap-in. He managed to hit the crossbar and the ball was finally cleared. This seemed to spark City into belated life and a few minutes later, with a replay seemingly beckoning, Cole sold the Wigan defence a dummy and the ball fell to BWP. He played a superb ball back to Cole, who was racing into the area outside him and he made no mistake with a clinical finish from about 10 yards. True to form, City still contrived to allow Wigan a last chance to take us back to the JJB but Scharner fortunately shot laughably wide. Howard Webb finally heard our cries of “Blow the bloody whistle for God’s sake” and we were in the fifth round.

James – 7 Did the little he had to do well, with one superb save
Sun – 6 His usual curate’s egg of a game, sometimes brilliant, sometimes wayward
Distin – 6 Despite the error that nearly gave Wigan a goal, he did pretty well
Dunne – 6 Solid, with the occasional heart stopping moment
Jordan – 5 He gives me the willies most of the time frankly
Sinclair – 8 Pick of the bunch and always a handful for Wigan
Barton – 6 Not his best game by a long chalk but never stopped trying
Ireland – 5 Thought he had a relatively poor game, never imposed himself
Riera – 6 He is improving by the game and seems to be finding his feet
Cole – 6 Would have been lower but for the goal, taken like the pro he is
Vassell – 5 Tries hard but just not having the impact we know he can have
Wright Phillips – 6 He is also visibly improving with every game
Musampa – 6 Given a freer rôle and looked sharp and effective
Sibierski – 5 Only had a few minutes and didn’t do much in those

Colin Savage <colin(at)>


I don’t understand why many fans keep complaining about the poor transfer market, pointing out Pearce should have cash to spend after selling Anelka and SWP. I seem to remember City had some £50 million debt last year (I don’t know how much it is now), so before signing any new players I would think about sorting out that figure. Let’s not forget that it’s not just about signing a player, but paying him wages as well.

I suppose we all got a bit excited after the tremendous run City had at the end of last season and the good start this season, but what we have now is the same position in the Premiership we had under Keegan, with the difference the likes of Anelka and SWP are gone.

I am convinced you go nowhere in football without money, but the same can be said for competence. I could name Chelsea under Ranieri, or Inter Milan whose chairman could have cancelled the entire national debt of a third world country instead of splashing out money on so-called football stars who have made that team the laughing stock of Italy instead of turning them into an invincible machine.

Then we could name Bolton under Allardyce, not much money but people who know what they’re doing.

I think our manager knows what he’s doing, and when he has a decent budget to spend, I’m sure he’ll bring in the right players. And let me tell you what… you all know what could happen should City finish top 6, or top 4 don’t you? We could find ourselves posting our thoughts on who we’d like to see as the new manager…

The word “typical” was out again after losing at Bolton, but at least we seem to have forgotten what a relegation battle is, and that was also typical – not bad for a football club that has been selling more than buying.

Then I’d like to make a comment on the Munich chants debate. I don’t know if in English there’s a similar expression, but in Italy we say that “the idiots’ mother is always pregnant”, no matter what their team is, or if they’re football fans at all. You must know some people here love chanting about the Superga air disaster that killed the players of Torino, or the Heysel massacre in Brussels.

Vanes Marzaroli <vanes.marzaroli(at)>


Open letter to the board

Please can you tell the loyal supporters when this club is going to stop wasting both our and the sponsors’ money?

I take Robbie Fowler for example: we pay £6 million for him, pay him £35-40,000 per week and then after 2 years say sorry mate you would rather be some place other than here, away you go?

In my book if I had spent millions of pounds on an asset and then given it away, I’d be in court right now facing fraud charges.

OK, his contract was up soon, so make him buy it out or charge his new club a nominal fee, but show some return for God’s sake. Over the last 40 years of following this football club we have wasted so much money on this sort of practice.

Say we pay Robbie £40,000 per week, well he should be paying around £500,000 at least, this being our last instalment and still half a season to go.

I think I’ve made my point.

Thanks for memories Robbie.

Mark Healey <mcfcnz(at)>


We’ve been evicted from the Robbie Fowler House. A month ago I’d have been delighted but tonight I am gobsmacked.

I’ve never been fond of Robbie – ’cause frankly he’s a lazy git who needed to get himself ultra-fit and adopt the diet and drinking habits of Terry Henry to get back to what he should be – the most natural goalscorer in the Premiership. However, as I pointed out after the Scunthorpe and Man Ure games, the way he scored those goals, I believe his predatory goalscoring habits were back to what they were and he would make a superb substitute coming on for the last half hour when defences have begun to tire. Sadly, we will not see the benefit of this for the rest of the season – it will be Liverpool who see the benefit. And I can guarantee that he will probably score ten goals for them if his sharpness has returned to the levels I suspect. As such the fact that he has gone for free is an appalling decision by the club. Yes it saves us £680,000 in wages but if he scores ten goals then it will look like we’re complete and utter fools. Fools to be a rest and relaxation home for Liverpool FC. I really hope there is a goalscoring clause in the deal – but I doubt it.

And why today FFS? He’s cup tied for Liverpool so he could/should have been on the bench for us tomorrow to say goodbye by kicking Wigan out of the FA cup. The timing is absolutely appalling and just adds to the worries that are building up in my head about SP’s management skills.

Which leads me on to another point about our wonderful club. As others have pointed out, why should we believe anything the club say ever again? They lie before breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner (yes I’m a bit posh). They denied it last week. Pearce denied it yesterday. Yet it happens today. I’m f*****g disgusted. Wardle, Makin and Pearce have to answer a lot of questions soon in terms of bringing new players to this club or there is only one way this club is going and it’s not into the top half of the league. Questions that I think we supporters should be asking when season ticket renewals will be upon us in a couple of months.

Yours, Disgusted Of Hagley <richardjohnm(at)>


So it was true all along. In a game allegedly riddled with corruption, this one is known as “the Bradbury scam”. After locking Robbie Fowler in a basement in Toxteth, Liverpool sold a clueless, talentless lookalike to a succession of clubs with more money than sense. Once they’d milked every penny from sell-on fees, they would buy him back, liberate the real player, and retire the lookalike to Barbados with a lifetime supply of pies and stimulants. See MCIVTA 966, November 2003. You read it here first.

So here’s what I’ll remember about Fowler:

  1. Wiggling his arse at Graeme le Saux. Before his time with us, but itconvinced me that he was a complete d**khead. And that he has a fat arse.
  2. Coming on for Leeds for his chance to show us how good he was. Twenty minutesof nondescript nonentity. Only an idiot living in the past would buy that.
  3. The best chairman in the league pointing out that only an idiot living inthe past would buy that. Issuing a “him or me” ultimatum.
  4. Losing the best chairman in the league.
  5. Rescuing Leeds from bankruptcy.
  6. Two goals in his first 13 games. Team total goals in 13 games before hearrived: 25. Total in the 13 after he arrived: 11.
  7. Fowler giving up on a ball that was running out. Slouching back to the D.Behind him it hits the corner flag and stays in play.
  8. Old Trafford. The Goat taking 8 seconds to do what Fowler had failed to doin 85 minutes.
  9. Three more goals in the first 20 games of the next season.
  10. Of which one was a pointless consolation in a Carling game that wasalready lost.
  11. Trying to fix his fitness problems by smoking cigarettes in the smallhours.
  12. Missing a sitter to level the Carling game against Arsenal Youth Reserves.Scoring a pointless consolation when the game was lost.
  13. Opening the scoring in the 4-1.
  14. A good performance against Palace.
  15. A last-minute winner in the “letsby avenue” game. So badly sliced that itricocheted off his standing foot.
  16. Bzllsing up the penalty that would have put us into Europe.
  17. His autobiography. City aren’t good enough for me. Why can’t I go back toLiverpool? Why couldn’t I have won the European Cup?

Well, he’s got his wish. And so have I. Final account:

Buying Robbie Fowler: £7 million.
Paying his wages: £5 million
Missing the UEFA cup: £3 million
Offloading the useless **** without actually paying him to go: Priceless.

Dorien James <dorien.james(at)>


When I heard that Heerenveen wanted 9 million quid, I thought that there is no way this deal could be done. I just read the press release from the Heerenveen website – using babelfish to translate from Dutch to English, it appears that the fee could be £9 million: £6 million base fee + £1 million if City qualify for the CL during the contract, £500,000 per season that City qualify for the UEFA Cup.

[That’s a lot of money, let’s hope expectations aren’t piled too high and that the lad proves a better buy than the man above – Ed]

Jesse McClure <jfm3tx(at)>


In response to Andy Webb’s stats on teams who have reached finals of the League Cup and FA Cup, I’d be interested to know how many different teams have made the semi-finals of those competitions.

Pardon the delusions of grandeur, but I still find it absolutely astonishing that a club of City’s stature have failed to reach the last four of either knockout competition in 25 years. Despite all our ups and downs, let’s not forget we’ve been a top flight club in 16 of those seasons.

Just off the top of my head, I can think of clubs like Chesterfield, Wycombe and Plymouth who have made the last four. Then you look at a club like Sheffield United who must have figured in at least four semi-finals in the last decade or so.

Surely it must be our time for a decent cup run soon?

Mike Holden <Miguel(at)>


From the heights of the top 6 you can see City slowly edging out of mid-table security and into the land of the unknown; how frustrating is this team? Where is our defence? Why can’t the midfield function enough to keep the ball away from our dodgy defence?

I agree with Graham Hine, what’s happened to Dunne and Distin? Brilliant one week, sh*te the next two. Dunne in particular has been disappointing and would not be considered good enough, he gets turned too easily, and is often beaten when the opposing player has a one on one with him.

Distin too has shown why he cannot be picked for France (even though I cannot fathom how Boumsong gets a look in, he must be licking someone’s ar*e!); from being a towering figure in our defence he seems to be error prone, and too often out jumped by the opposition’s forwards – take Mido getting the better of him vs. Spurs, and Jason Roberts giving our defence nightmares with his physical approach.

IMHO Pearce desperately needs 3 decent players in the following positions:

  • Left back: Thatcher plays more like his namesake Maggie, and Jordan is notnearly the finished article.
  • Central midfield: Maybe Michael Brown from Spurs (tenacious and former Cityplayer) would make a good double act with Barton.
  • Centre forward: we need a “big lump” up front. Cole and Vassell don’t alwaysterrorise the opposition with guile and pace. I will never forget howdominant the Spurs defence was when they beat us at home, with Dawson winningnearly everything thrown into the box. Look what Mido, Roberts, Beattie,Ashton, Drogba do for their clubs – we need a big, tall target man who willcause the opposition problems in the air, and in turn Vassell or Cole couldprofit.

I feel Pearce should start with Musampa and then bring Riera on as a replacement, I also think that occasionally, Musampa could be useful in the middle (left) of midfield alongside Barton, and Ireland seems to have lost that spark he had early in the season.

Finally, I am sick and tired of the age old saying “That’s typical City, you never know which team is going to turn out from match to match”. Jekyll and Hyde, that’s what we are, and we need to lose that tag soon. Yet we still follow them with eternal faith!

Glyn Albuquerque <glynalbuquerque(at)>


League table to 29 January 2006 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD Pts
 1 Chelsea         23 11  1  0 29  7  9  1  1 20  5 20  2  1  49  12  37  62
 2 Manchester Utd  23  7  3  1 21  6  7  3  2 21 14 14  6  3  42  20  22  48
 3 Liverpool       21  9  1  1 17  4  4  4  2 12  8 13  5  3  29  12  17  44
 4 Tottenham H.    23  7  4  1 17  7  4  4  3 14 12 11  8  4  31  19  12  41
 5 Arsenal         22  9  1  1 27  4  2  3  6  7 12 11  4  7  34  16  18  37
 6 Wigan Athletic  23  6  1  5 16 15  6  0  5 12 14 12  1 10  28  29  -1  37
 7 Bolton Wndrs    21  6  3  1 13  4  4  3  4 14 16 10  6  5  27  20   7  36
 8 Blackburn R.    22  6  2  2 15 10  4  2  6 12 15 10  4  8  27  25   2  34
 9 West Ham United 23  5  1  5 17 16  4  4  4 14 16  9  5  9  31  32  -1  32
10 Manchester City 23  6  2  4 16 10  3  2  6 14 17  9  4 10  30  27   3  31
11 Charlton Ath.   21  4  1  6 13 16  5  1  4 14 15  9  2 10  27  31  -4  29
12 Everton         23  4  1  6  9 15  5  1  6  7 16  9  2 12  16  31 -15  29
13 Fulham          23  7  2  2 18 12  0  3  9  9 20  7  5 11  27  32  -5  26
14 Newcastle Utd   22  4  4  2 10  9  3  1  8 10 16  7  5 10  20  25  -5  26
15 Aston Villa     23  3  3  5 12 14  3  5  4 14 18  6  8  9  26  32  -6  26
16 West Brom A.    23  5  1  6 17 15  1  3  7  4 17  6  4 13  21  32 -11  22
17 Middlesbrough   22  3  5  4 17 20  2  2  6 10 20  5  7 10  27  40 -13  22
18 Birmingham City 22  3  2  6 14 14  2  2  7  6 17  5  4 13  20  31 -11  19
19 Portsmouth      23  2  4  5  6 12  2  1  9 10 27  4  5 14  16  39 -23  17
20 Sunderland      22  0  3  9  8 23  2  0  8  9 17  2  3 17  17  40 -23   9

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1194