Newsletter #1212

Just in case there are some fans out there who do not think the Boro fixture is one of the most boring ones in the calendar, we were subjected to the most apathetic display from City in quite some time on Sunday.

So, did the performance do what the club wanted and make you one of those wanting to renew their tickets? After watching that gutless and spineless performance yesterday, all that happened was it made me leave a game early for the first time ever. It certainly hasn’t persuaded me to renew my ticket. It really is time to question my sanity and the time and effort I put in to being “a fan” when we’re rewarded like this.

Not that the club, nor the players seem to care. Pearce has given the players a talking to and I’m sure they are all quaking in their boots as they collect their pay cheques this week. If only they would let a fan or two loose in the training room to tell them what they thought!

Next game: Tottenham Hotspur, away, 12.45pm Saturday 8 April 2006


This was a very emotional day for me. When I was 7 years old, my dad took me to my first City game at home to Spurs. It was 1968, we were League Champions and we won 4-0. My eldest, James, is now 7 years old and getting more interested in football. Needless to say, he gets Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal shoved down his throat from the media and kids at school. We live 250 miles from Manchester and so his only diet of City comes from me. It’s his 8th birthday soon, so I promised him a trip to our fantastic stadium to see his first game. I wanted to pick a game that might provide some attacking play, maybe some goals and hopefully a City win. Middlesbrough looked like a good bet. Their league form isn’t great, they’ve got maybe as many injuries/suspensions as we have and they might be pre-occupied with the two cups they’re in.

It took us 5 hours to get to the game. We went round the City store trying to get a home team shirt. They were sold out – waiting for the new kits to come out next season!

On to the game. City’s team seemed quite strong considering all the recent injuries and it was definitely an attacking line-up with Riera, Samaras, Sinclair, Vassell, and Sibierski all starting. From the start, Middlesbrough’s tactic was to pack the midfield and play on the break down the flanks. Whenever we play against teams who do this we always lose out and there never seems to be a plan B. Our passing was awful, Middlesbrough had more possession and looked the more threatening. Plus the stadium was like a library. The club have got to find a way of getting the fans to make more noise and I don’t believe it’s about standing versus seating. I’ve no doubt that it affects the team. I remember my early days at Maine Road when the fans got behind the team; the noise seemed almost scary to a 7 year old.

Apart from a long range shot from Riera, I don’t remember us troubling their ‘keeper at all in the first half. Thatcher was having a torrid time, being skinned again and again on their right wing. At least three times David James had to rush out to the edge of his area to save the day. Then, just before half time, Downing got past Mills and crossed for Cattermole, who beat Richards to put the visitors 1-0 up. At half-time, I asked James what he thought and he said that City were rubbish.

City came out for the second half with a bit more passion, but it soon fizzled out. Middlesbrough were more likely to score and but for David James (my MoM) we would have lost by 3 or 4. We seem to have a bad mix of seniors who are past their best (Mills, Thatcher, Sibierski) and youngsters who are not ready for games at this level (Ireland, Flood, Croft). In some ways it’s this that depresses me the most. Whenever the going gets tough, the youngsters seem to hide away and then when they do get the ball, they can’t wait to get rid of it. I hope Pearce finds a way to motivate them to step up to the plate. I think he relies too much on them having the same kind of spirit that he has. Not everyone is born like Stuart Pearce and he needs to find a way of creating the same kind of fire in the belly that he has.

City tried to press for an equaliser but you sensed it was never going to happen. The whole tempo of the game wasn’t helped by the ref (Riley) blowing his whistle at every minor thing, although at least he was even-handed about it. The game ended to boos around the stadium.

On the way out a chap saw the gloomy look on James’ face and patted him on the head with sympathy. “It’s his first ever game”, I said. “Well I hope it’s not his last”, said the chap. “It might be, if they carry on playing like this”, I replied. So, back to the car for 5 hours home in the pouring rain. A thoroughly depressing day. I’ll carry on going to games, it’s in my blood and I probably can’t stop now. But as for my lad, I can’t justify a 10 hour round trip for 2 hours of soul-destroying fare like this. Don’t ask me when I’ll be taking him next.

Paul Muschamp <paul.muschamp(at)>


FA Premiership
Manchester City 0 Middlesbrough 1
City of Manchester Stadium
Sunday 2nd April 2006, kick-off 15:00
Attendance: 40,256.

Team Changes: Riera, Sinclair, Sibierski and Samaras return to the starting line-up.

Line-up: James, Mills, Dunne, Richards, Thatcher, Sinclair (Croft, 66), Ireland (Musampa, 60), Sibierski (Flood, 71), Riera, Samaras, Vassell.
Unused subs: Sommeil, B. Wright-Phillips.

Goal times: (42) 0-1 Cattermole.

Bookings: None.
Sent off: None.
Referee: M. Riley.

Stats points: Willo Flood becomes the 2,000th MCFC player to make a substitute appearance since Roy Cheetham first did so on Aug 30th 1965 in the Division 2 match at Wolves, which City won 4-2. Stuart Pearce has now lost as many games as City manager as he has won (19), with only 9 draws.

Opinion: Wanted – Half a dozen experienced, passionate British players with something to prove, to replace a similar number of journeymen and/or egotistical timewasters. Must be able to inspire and blend with some promising young talent at the club.

Steve Kay <steve(at)>


Having just arrived home in Great Yarmouth, after travelling up to Eastlands and back for the Boro débâcle, I feel the need to put finger to keyboard again after witnessing another horror show.

Due to working offshore, i have been restricted to seeing City on just three occasions prior to this match, these being away vs. Fulham, away vs. West Brom, and the home FA Cup replay vs. Villa. You don’t have to be particularly astute to realise that I have already seen two very poor displays during the current campaign. Neither of which, however, prepared me for the shambles I witnessed today. This has to go down as one of the most dire performances that I have ever seen by a City team. The complete lack of passion, fight, skill, ability, cohesion and pride was admirably documented by Stuart Pearce in his frank, and brutally honest, after-match interviews.

I would like though to expand upon two points he made in those interviews.

Firstly he mentioned the fact that the ‘players’ should try to look their children/loved ones in the eye after such a diabolical performance – granted, Mrs Shambolic Blue might be a trifle upset that her next sports car will be be delayed again due to another win bonus disappeared, but I’m sure that hubby’s wage packet will provide some small comfort! Surely it would be better to make the players look a fans’ forum in the eye after each game, whereby they themselves can explain their lack of fitness, vision and ability etc. to punters like myself that had the ‘privilege’ of spending nine hours travelling, £90 in petrol/tickets and two hours sitting in the rain.

Secondly, I have to disagree with Psycho in that he said only David James had a good game, I thought Micah Richards was also excellent. Unfortunately two against eleven didn’t give us much of a chance.

I hope never again to see the COMS faithful leaving with so much time left on the clock – so show some pride lads, fight for our beloved blue shirt and make us proud!

Bondie <bondie(at)>


Sorry to all, mid-table mediocrity does appear to be acceptable after listening to Middlesbrough. Even the commentary was insipid.

Talking about cheaters, remember the day when people used to own up to handball and actually say “No, it was me” when the ball went out of play off them?

I must be getting old.

Jim Heaviside <JHeavis502(at)>


Colin Savage worries that Stuart Pearce is a con-man, a master of crafting his own image, out to attract an offer from a bigger club (or England) and that’s why he has a contract that does not require any compensation for him walking away.

The thing with that is that there is nothing in Pearce’s history that suggests that he is like that at all. He was no attention hungry spinmeister as a player, and I’m sure he could have walked away from Forest a good few times and have been looking at a hefty pay rise, but he never did.

If he did swan off to become the next, say, United manager, he would shed the image he has “cultivated” in the time it takes him to collect for a throw in. All that fancy talk about loyalty and a man’s word would seem like a load of c**p in retrospect. So I just can’t see him doing it. Except England. If Pearce does well and England come calling in 4 or 8 years, he’ll leave. But we all know that don’t we?

Colin is also suspicious about him strong-arming Barton over the new contract while not signing one himself. But there is a major difference. If Barton loses form, we sit him on the bench until he picks up, get a new man in or promote someone we have already, and get on with it. We carry on paying him but we get something for our money since he might regain his form and he’s always going to be cover. You can’t do the same with a manager… though… come to think of it, it sounds like a good system.

<swimmy picture… harp…>

Joe Royle has been picked to play Manchester City manager this weekend after spending most of this season watching from the stands. Kevin Keegan, who had been keeping Royle out of the City hotseat, was dropped after a dip in form and a number of recent selection howlers. Chairman John Wardle said “It’s nothing about Kevin really, he has been doing a great job for us but I just thought he needed a rest and Joe has been knocking on my door for a while, especially given the teams we’ll be playing in the next few weeks. Joe just brings different formations and makes substitutions earlier, which I think we’ve been missing. And he gives us that extra something at the cheap end of the transfer market. It’s up to Kevin now to go away and make me put him back in charge.”

<swimmy picture… harp>

Ahem. So, when we need a new manager in a hurry, we have to let the old one go, on full pay. We get nothing from that. Stands to reason then that a manager with no contract cuts both ways, whereas a player with an expiring contract is only bad for the club.

Two other things. Firstly the “no progress under Pearce” argument that’s been gathering steam. There’s a lot of things you can say to that and Colin mentioned some and gave his answers. But here’s a couple he didn’t mention. Firstly, Pearce has been a great benefit to this club even if we haven’t progressed at all football-wise. Why? Because he has basically kept us as good as we ever were despite being, in financial terms, a selling manager. We have replaced a bunch of high-earners of mid-table skill who were only getting worse with a bunch of low-earners of mid-table skill who are getting better all the time. He has sold Wright Phillips and bought well, at least in my eyes, and made a net profit of several million on transactions. Now I accept that the SWP deal was out of his hands and the youth players coming through were a legacy of a previous era, but it is Pearce who has had to fashion those youngsters into a Premiership team. I’d say implementing that revolution while keeping us more or less as good as we were last year is progress. If you are looking for the intangible that has most fans still optimistic about Pearce, it’s probably that.

Second, Pearce is in his first year as a manager, disregarding the Forest escapade. Now I’ve been around long enough to know that normally, when you start at something, you aren’t the best you’ll be. So we might not have seen the best of Pearce yet. And that plays in with the last paragraph. Young rough-diamond manager with a young rough-diamond squad. Everything at City looks like it’s about to improve a lot.

Thirdly, decent cup run.

Fourthly, good home form. Now the backbone of a successful campaign, according to the man in the chippy, is a good defence and strong home form. You sort that out and then you can think about winning away. I don’t know why that is, but it’s probably something to do with the psychology of it all. Once players start expecting to win at home, once the crowd starts expecting, then visiting teams get out-psyched before they even get off the bus. It’s a good habit to get into because once you’re in it it doesn’t waver so much with dips in form.

Speaking of defence, Colin says our defence isn’t much good. But in fact we have conceded fewer goals than the three teams above us (and all the teams below us) and have a better goal difference than the four teams above us (and all the teams below us) at the time of writing. In fact, we have a GD that’s 14 better than Everton, who are a couple of places ahead of us right now. This is a statistical blip that can happen when you’re better but not much better than the teams around you – if the goals clump awkwardly (3 in one game, 0 in the next) you get fewer points and one or two of the other teams will get lucky with the clumping and finish up higher, even though they score less and concede more.

Part of a successful campaign is getting the team to pace its goals better, and that can be achieved, to some extent, by resting your better strikers when the game’s going well (maybe settling back into a defensive formation) and having someone who can unlock the game when it’s not. You can criticize Pearce if he isn’t doing the former, and it’s his job to find a playmaker to do the latter. But the bottom line is, attack and defence wise we are in good shape, we just need to convert that dominance into points.

Lastly, some words on Wigan and Bolton. W&B fans are happy to see a scrappy winning team. Man City fans, traditionally, have not been so happy with that. There’s a constant pressure on a City manager to produce a team with flair, if for nothing else than to cosy our illusions that the Premiership title is only 5 years away. I think we could quite easily get a roughneck kind of manager in, buy up a few scrappers and play the same in-your-face system every week, winning enough games to get into the UEFA Cup every other year. If we want a steady 6th-8th Bolton Wanderers side like that then we should make our feelings known.

Anyway, if you want my psychoanalysis (Babababa-Doom Tish!) of Pearce it’s of a man who will behave himself and try to win as many things as he can with one club until he gets asked to manage England by the FA. And so he won’t make Cloughie’s mistake of being too outspoken for the job. He wants to win the World cup with England and anyone who doesn’t see that is a fool. But I don’t think he will jump around from club to club in the meantime. Just doesn’t follow from what we know of him as a player.

Bernard Molyneux <bernardmolyneux(at)>


Bye to Roy.

I only learned of Roy Clark’s death from the last issue and feel it is important to pay tribute to an incredible servant and ambassador for the club. Roy was an absolute gentleman as well as being phenomenally kind, considerate and thoughtful. I don’t remember him playing (but oddly, I do remember seeing Bert breaking his neck and playing on, and I was only 2 at the time).

I first met Roy on my first day as a resident of the magic City. I had started at the Polytechnic in October 1972 and in my lunch hour, I walked to Mecca to marvel at the place. I met Roy outside the Social club and we got chatting. My grant had not come through (students were treated better by the Government in those days). Roy told me that his daughter was at College and he understood the difficulties. Then he announced that I was to be his guest whenever I wished to visit the Social Club for as long as I needed until my grant came through.

I was an awestruck kid with dreams of playing for City and absolutely elated to be at the holiest of holies and then this City legend made such a fantastic welcome and practical support to an absolute stranger. I shall never forget that kindness (and I did take full advantage of it for my first two weeks).

From time to time, I had other chats with Roy and he never showed any impatience. He was genuinely interested in talking to people and helping them if he possibly could. He was a fantastic host at the Social Club and played a massive part in helping City take the lead in making the club family-friendly, socially friendly and community-caring. He led the way in the Club’s efforts to reach out to the community and his contribution was immense over many years.

I last saw him about 8 years ago (I no longer live in the magic City and disability makes travel difficult). A chap called Les Edwards organized an annual 5-a side “World Cup” competition for 10 year old lads around the Boothstown area, every summer. My eldest had played in this two years earlier and I was thoroughly impressed with the incredible organization and it was a superb day. When it was my youngest son’s turn to play, there was Royston Clark waiting to present the “World Cup” and medals to every player. My lad’s team won and after the presentation, I went over to have a word with Roy’s wife (to my shame, I have forgotten her name as that was the only time I ever spoke to her). She was just as delightful and after a while she called Roy over. I educated my sons as to the great man’s glorious past and they were star-struck, but Roy put them completely at ease and was so generous with his time. I honestly believe we must have talked for nearly an hour. We were certainly the last to leave.

I have never forgotten Roy’s kindness, warmth and friendliness. He was genuinely a really, really great bloke and I shall miss him.

Martin Hunt <martin.hunt(at)>


Just saw this in the Independent and thought I’d send it in for those that missed it:

“Based on results, not all clubs will mind moving kick-offs. Manchester City have only mustered seven of their 40 points in 15 Saturday 3pm kick-offs. That rate of points scoring transferred to all their games would produce only 14 points in total.”

Paul Ruffley <paulruffley(at)>


This years gentleman’s morning, which takes place at the world famous Embassy Club before the Fulham game, is nearly all sold out. There are only 8 tickets left, priced £7.50 each. Bernard is the star of the show and there will be the usual fun and games. if you want a ticket, give Don a ring 798-9994, but please hurry to avoid disappointment.

Don Price <cathdon.price(at)>


If football teams were women

Fulham – Charlotte Church: Proof that money can’t buy you class. But could look more attractive if the Welsh bloke was given the elbow.

Birmingham – Pamela Anderson: Used to look good in the cups but now a declining force. Plus millions of people watched them get a good seeing to.

Wigan – Davina McCall: Poor attendances confirm they’ve been promoted above their ability.

Portsmouth – Girls Aloud: Only one real class act among the hastily assembled line-up. You shouldn’t like them but admit it, you’ve sneaked the occasional admiring glance.

Sunderland – Kerry Katona: Once the people’s favourite but now an embarrassment. Fun while it lasted – now disappear from where you came, please.

Spurs – Keira Knightley: Undeniably easy on the eye with an attractive English spine. And proof that two little ones up front needn’t be a drawback.

Everton – Dannii Minogue: The poor relation to the more glamorous sibling. Can anyone remember when it was they were supposed to be any good?

Arsenal – Jordan: Were more likeable when they weren’t packed out with expensive foreign implants.

Newcastle – Jodie Marsh: Impressive front two but embarrassing at the back. Had surgery but need a lot more work to compete at a higher level.

Aston Villa – Dido: Bland, boring and still trading off the one big hit they had years ago.

Liverpool – Sophie Ellis-Bextor: Individually all the components look great but stick them together and it just doesn’t work.

Chelsea – Rachel Stevens: You’d rather just watch them than listen to all that painful whining.

West Ham – Vicky Pollard: Nothing more needs saying as a teams’ fans speak for themselves – Chavs in Chavs’ clothing.

Bolton – Clare Balding: You wouldn’t. Not even if they were the last team on earth.

Dave Kilroy <dave.kilroy(at)>


2 April 2006

Manchester City       0 - 1  Middlesbrough         40,256
West Ham United       0 - 0  Charlton Athletic     34,753

1 April 2006

Birmingham City       0 - 0  Chelsea               26,364
Arsenal               5 - 0  Aston Villa           38,183
Bolton Wanderers      1 - 2  Manchester United     27,718
Everton               2 - 2  Sunderland            38,093
Fulham                1 - 3  Portsmouth            22,322
Newcastle United      3 - 1  Tottenham Hotspur     52,301
West Bromwich Albion  0 - 2  Liverpool             27,576

League table to 02 April 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         32 15  1  0 37  8 10  3  3 23 11 25  4  3  60  19  41  79
 2 Manchester Utd  32 11  3  1 31  8 11  3  3 33 22 22  6  4  64  30  34  72
 3 Liverpool       33 13  3  1 28  7  7  4  5 19 15 20  7  6  47  22  25  67
 4 Tottenham H.    32 10  5  1 27 13  5  5  6 19 19 15 10  7  46  32  14  55
 5 Arsenal         31 12  2  2 40  9  4  3  8 13 14 16  5 10  53  23  30  53
 6 Blackburn R.    31 11  2  2 27 15  5  2  9 15 21 16  4 11  42  36   6  52
 7 Bolton Wndrs    30  9  4  2 23  9  4  5  6 20 25 13  9  8  43  34   9  48
 8 West Ham United 32  7  3  6 26 22  6  4  6 20 24 13  7 12  46  46   0  46
 9 Wigan Athletic  31  6  2  8 19 21  8  2  5 17 17 14  4 13  36  38  -2  46
10 Everton         32  8  2  6 20 19  5  3  8 11 24 13  5 14  31  43 -12  44
11 Charlton Ath.   32  7  3  6 20 18  5  4  7 17 24 12  7 13  37  42  -5  43
12 Newcastle Utd   32  8  5  3 21 14  4  1 11 13 25 12  6 14  34  39  -5  42
13 Manchester City 32  9  2  6 24 15  3  2 10 15 23 12  4 16  39  38   1  40
14 Middlesbrough   31  6  5  5 25 27  5  2  8 19 25 11  7 13  44  52  -8  40
15 Fulham          33 10  2  4 27 20  0  4 13 14 34 10  6 17  41  54 -13  36
16 Aston Villa     32  4  5  6 15 17  4  6  7 19 29  8 11 13  34  46 -12  35
17 West Brom A.    32  6  1 10 21 23  1  5  9  7 26  7  6 19  28  49 -21  27
18 Portsmouth      31  3  5  6 10 17  4  1 12 17 35  7  6 18  27  52 -25  27
19 Birmingham City 31  4  4  8 16 19  2  3 10  7 25  6  7 18  23  44 -21  25
20 Sunderland      32  0  4 12  9 29  2  1 13 12 28  2  5 25  21  57 -36  11

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1212