Newsletter #1244

City’s first win of the pre-season at Rochdale; we have match report and views tonight thanks to Colin. We also have opinion on the transfers, the new shape of the team, and the usual requests.

Next game: Port Vale (friendly), away, 7.45pm Wednesday 26 July 2006


The disappointments of the end of last season were a distant memory as we headed up to Rochdale on a wonderful summer’s day. The Spotland Stadium is a pleasant little place, with a standing terrace behind one goal. However, their ticket office had obviously been trained at Eastlands as, despite having numbered tickets, the stewards were apparently telling people to sit anywhere. This caused some friction as people arrived with tickets to find “their” seats occupied. One chap near me must have been close to bringing on a heart attack as he harangued the people who occupied his seat (after they’d moved). What sort of state is he going to be in towards the end of the season?

There were notable absences among the players warming up on the pitch, including Cole, Vassell, Dabo, Onuoha, Thatcher, Dunne and Sinclair. The starting line up was Weaver, Richards, Distin, (Matt) Mills, Jordan, Barton, Hamann, Ireland, Croft, Sibierski, and Samaras. There was an interesting episode as the players went off after the warm-up as Barton came over to the City fans on the far side to sign autographs, prompting some derision from me and others. However, the fans around him starting cheering and singing his name and he appeared to have told them that he would be doing so on Monday. So what were the last six months all about then Joey?

We lined up with Hamman holding, Barton on the right, Croft on the left and Ireland playing a free rôle. Rochdale started very strongly and went ahead within five minutes. A ball down their left was played in from the bye-line and turned in by Lambert at the near post. This really gave them a boost and they were the better side for the next twenty minutes. Their passing and movement were really good and they were carving us up every time. We barely got a sniff of the ball and it was no surprise when they went further ahead. A superb run from their number 11 (Rundle) opened up the defence and his shot wasn’t dealt with properly by Weaver, who only palmed it into the path of Brown, who had the simplest of finishes. The City fans had been in good voice up to then but went very quiet for the rest of the game.

It took City about 30 minutes to wake up and they started playing a bit. Sibierski managed to get a header in from close range but somehow managed to head it away from goal. Samaras had a wonderful little run into the area but wasted the final ball woefully. Barton had a strong shot deflected for a corner. However, they weren’t fluent and too many passes were going astray or not being made at all and there were too many pretty but ineffective flicks. Half time was looming when Hamann took the ball forward and Ireland fed a great pass to Samaras, who looked to have taken too long but curled a precision low shot round the Rochdale ‘keeper.

For the second half Danny Mills replaced Matthew Mills (who had been poor) and Schmeichel replaced Weaver (who also hadn’t been great). Rochdale had clearly shot their bolt in the first half and it was all City, albeit none too convincingly. On the hour a good move set up Croft in the area. He looked to have over-run the ball but was tripped. A penalty looked a little harsh as he wasn’t in control of the ball and was going away from goal but one was given anyway. Barton converted it with ease and we were all square. Dickov and Miller came on a few minutes later, the former to a rapturous reception. Both were in action within minutes as Miller was tripped in the area and this time it was a clear-cut spot kick. Dickov took it and, although the ‘keeper got a hand to it, it was too powerful for him and we were ahead.

It was pretty comfortable now and another moment of note was the introduction of Danny Sturridge. His first touch nearly brought a goal but he failed to connect properly on the edge of the six-yard box and his second touch, a minute later, was a fierce drive that the ‘keeper just got enough on to turn round the post. Dickov then managed to leave his mark on a Rochdale player with a clumsy, late tackle. The lad had to be carried off and it might well have been a red in the Premiership. By the end, the team was mainly Academy graduates and the game finished with a whimper.

My main thought afterwards was that Rochdale were well coached and had the ability to play neat, passing football. They developed a good rhythm for the first twenty minutes or so and only lack of fitness let them down. We never really showed that ability and that, for me, shows what a waste of space Derek Fazackerly was as a coach. Wigley has to do better but Steve Parkin as assistant manager would do me nicely.

My impression of the main players is as follows:

Weaver – He was not impressive. Too slow for the first goal and didn’t deal properly with the shot that led to the second.
Schmeichel – Nothing much to do in the second half.
Richards – Did well enough, as we’ve come to expect.
Mills, D. – He looked good actually and got forward well.
Distin – A very variable performance. Is his heart really in it?
Mills, M – It’s early days but he wasn’t at all convincing. He looked well out of his depth and that’s against Rochdale!
Jordan – Did well.
Croft – Didn’t use the ball well enough – he either held on too long or played the wrong pass far too often. He needs to prove himself this season.
Barton – Did everything you’d expect. His heart did look in it.
Ireland – He looked much better without the need to chase the ball. The presence of Hamann and Dabo could be very good for him.
Hamann – A class act. Broke up play, made himself available and used the ball sensibly.
Sibierski – Also did everything you’d expect. That is, very little.
Samaras – Definitely has potential. Some stuff was sublime but too much showboating.
Dickov – He gave 100% commitment as ever but needless tackle spoiled it.
Miller – He’s big and strong and has the ability to frighten defences.
Laird – Settled into the holding rôle and looked OK.
Sturridge – Looked very confident and comfortable.

Colin Savage <colin(at)>


Where is all the money coming from? Strikers? I know that we have not paid a great deal in transfers for our new players but I am sure they are on a good wage! Last season we had no money and then we paid £6 million for Samaras.

Now we have paid £400,000 for Didi, £1 million for the Italian and are looking at Lua Lua and Gera! Also why do we need so many strikers? Cole, Vassell, Samaras, Dickov, Italian, Youngsters, why do we need Lua Lua? He is not a 20 goal a season player nor a team player – not needed in my opinion. What we need is a supplier for the goals: go for Gera, even again try for Sweep. The team looks better balanced now but we need another creator, Gera on the left would be great, back to the days of wingers!

Graham Lord <gooch(at)>


Stuart Pearce is working hard building what will become his team for next season.

As much as I would like to see Joey Barton sign his contract, I tend to agree with Graham Mills in the MCIVTA 1243 when he said they should be given a time limit to sign for MCFC or leave.

Joey Barton’s agent Willie McKay wants a get out clause in JB’s contract, so that if another club comes along with an offer of £4.5 million Joey Barton can leave City if he wants to, and MCFC cannot stop him.

This clause is not fair to Stuart Pearce who is building a team for the future; how can he know how long it will be before JB will be off and leave Stuart in jeopardy?

This clause is just telling City by JB “I am here just to improve myself, then thank you very much I am off”. I hope that the MCFC board stand firm, for we want players dedicated to the cause of our proud club City. Joey Barton is just using MCFC, and has shown no loyalty by the gesture of this clause put in by has agent Willie McKay. I hope that this will come to an end one way or another this week, so that Stuart Pearce can move on with the serious preparation for next season.

If JB leaves, then MCFC must increase their offer for Sidwell from Reading; many City fans would like to see this player at the club as he is young and has some class about him.

Still no news of Sylvan Distin accepting the generous offer made by MCFC of £35,000 a week. Here again we see no loyalties even when such a deal has been put on the table by MCFC.

On Saturday City beat Rochdale 3-2 in another good work out, giving several players a part in the game. The pre-season results that will truly mean something I feel are the games in Shanghai and in Hong Kong. Then the only game played at home before the season starts versus Porto, for at this stage Stuart Pearce should be telling us all “this is your team for next season”.

So I guess we will all as City fans be looking for some movement this week in the signing of the players department.

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


I am the secretary of the “Mid-Sussex Blues”, a branch of the Official Supporters’ Club based in Lindfield, West Sussex. We are a rapidly-growing branch formed a couple of years ago, and already boasting roughly 25 members, from as far afield as Eastbourne and Turin! This autumn, as well as travelling to home and away games, we will be organising social functions at which Peter Barnes, Ken Barnes and John Stapleton have agreed to attend. When a City game is on TV, you will find us at The Witch Inn, Sunte Avenue, Lindfield. Anyone living in the vicinity or passing through is welcome to give me a call on 07984 759487.

Alternately, pop in to our next meeting in The Witch at 8pm on Thursday September 14th.

Many Thanks, John Joyce <John.Joyce(at)>


Trust friends to suddenly announce that they are getting married this Saturday-just when we have gone and bought tickets to watch City-GGFT, God’s Greatest Football Team.

So an opportunity for somebody: if you want these (face value), email me ASAP.

Steve Bennett <stevieb.3g(at)>


On my next visit to Manchester, hopefully at the start of the season, I would like to get a “City” Tattoo done. Can any reader recommend a good Tatto Artist who does City tattoos in the city centre or along the way to CoMS?

Thanks in anticipation, Ian Bell <Kylsandra(at)>

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Newsletter #1244