Newsletter #1253

Our opening home game of the season will be remembered more for the actions of one Ben Thatcher (usually better known for showing the pace of a geriatric snail) who, for reasons best known to himself, decided to take out Mendes last night in a disgraceful challenge. Latest news is that the FA are charging him with serious foul play and he has been suspended from City. There is plenty of opinion on this tonight as you can imagine.

In an otherwise dull and uneventful draw, we created a few chances, kept a clean sheet, gained a point, but Portsmouth were rubbish, and why does the new goalkeeper’s kit look like a walking Stabilo Boss? Colin has kindly provided a match report of the proceedings. There’s a little to sort out then in terms of players, formation and selection.

Unfortunately I’ve had a problem in receiving Don’s news tonight, so it will have to go separately. Technology, ain’t it wonderful?

Roll on Arsenal.

Next game: Arsenal, home, 5.15pm Saturday 26 August 2006


We’ve drawn every one of our opening league fixture at CoMS so far and tonight’s visitors are the team we just managed to draw against in our first Premiership match there. The crowd is sparse, considering it’s the first game of the season. No surprise that the visitors’ end is only one third full but there are big gaps in the rest of the ground as well. The crowd is later announced as just over 37,000, our lowest ever Premiership attendance at CoMS.

Despite all the summer signings, only Paul Dickov makes the starting line-up and David James makes a swift return, getting a good reception. We line up with Weaver, Richards, Dunne, Distin, Thatcher, Sinclair, Barton, Reyna, Samaras, Vassell and Dickov. Not sure if it’s 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 but Samaras is out wide on the left, whatever it is. Weaver makes his first Premiership start at CoMS and also gets a good reception.

There is a bright start to the game and very early on Samaras plays a wonderful long pass up to Sinclair but his cross is too long. Good work from Vassell then allows Barton to get a shot in but it is off target. A few minutes later, Dickov shows his fighting qualities by rescuing a ball that a Pompey player is trying to shepherd out but his cross is cut out by a defender.

An opposition player goes down injured and, in line with the new ruling, the referee waves play on. However, it clearly hasn’t been translated into Greek as Samaras puts the ball out. A couple of City players have a sharp word with him and the crowd are none too pleased either. The game goes off the boil for a while, with the ball mainly in midfield, but on the halfway mark in the first period, Barton makes space for a shot on the edge of the box and James gets down well to stop the ball going through his legs. The next attempt is from the unlikely source of Dunne, who unleashes a screamer from 30 yards but it is wide.

Portsmouth hadn’t threatened at all up to this point but Samaras and Thatcher both managed to mess up clearances and Reyna had to clear the resulting cross. Thatcher fails to deal with that properly as well. City then work the ball downfield quickly but the cross is behind Dickov, who attempts an overhead kick. Dennis Tueart he isn’t though. Then Dickov does do something right – he holds the ball up and releases Samaras but he is just beaten to the ball by a defender. The Greek then has a header from a good Richard Dunne pass but it goes over. The final few minutes of the first half are marked by a number of mistakes. Samaras fails to control a pass in a good position, Dunne plays a loose ball when City are on the attack and then Thatcher fails to control a simple pass as City break from defence and the ball goes out for a throw-in. At half-time, the best you can say is that City have been OK but nothing special.

The start of the second half is all action. A bad Pompey pass sets up Sinclair, who evades the covering defender and wins a corner. The corner is cleared and we win another. Portsmouth clear and Mendes has the ball on the touchline. He plays the ball upfield but Thatcher clatters him late and hard and he goes down in a heap. It is only a yellow and Thatcher can count himself fortunate to still be on the pitch. The stretcher is needed and Mendes goes off. Soon afterwards an ambulance leaves the tunnel, presumably with Mendes in it. That’ll teach him to score a thirty-yard winner against us!

Vassell is then set up by Reyna but he is offside, which is just as well as his shot hit the side netting from a good position. At the other end, Barton tries to play his way out of trouble on the edge of the City area but only succeeds in playing us into trouble and gives a free kick away in a bad position. Fortunately it’s wasted.

Halfway through the second period, Portsmouth have their first real opportunity when they are allowed to move the ball through midfield far too easily to Todorov. He works a good opening for Taylor but Weaver makes an excellent save. City then get the ball down the other end and Vassell has a good opportunity but his shot (if it can be called that) is woefully weak.

Ireland comes on for the flagging Reyna and shortly after Miller replaces Samaras on the left. In one way it makes sense as Samaras has been poor but it might have been more intelligent to take Dickov or Sinclair off and move Samaras into the middle. Miller is in action straight away as he is set up by Barton for a strike that James can only parry away but Sinclair doesn’t react anywhere near quickly enough and Portsmouth clear.

Dickov is then sent clear but is pulled back by the defender. Another yellow is produced that could have been a red so that’s even. Then a superb ball from Ireland finds Sinclair in space but his cross, attempting to find the head of Barton, isn’t accurate enough. He should have played the ball on the floor into the danger area. Vassell then receives the ball just outside the six yard box but takes too long and the defender just gets a foot to the ball to deflect it for a corner. Late on City have a free kick in the Portsmouth half and Barton, in a training ground move, plays it down the wing for Sinclair. However, it is woefully over-hit and what could have been a good move is wasted.

In his programme notes, Stuart Pearce reckons that, outside the top four, the other teams could finish anywhere between fifth and seventeenth. Both the teams tonight are more likely to be at the lower end of the table on this performance and both had better hope that there are three worse teams than them. The rest of the night’s results mean that we are the only Premiership team not to find the net so far. We occasionally played neat, passing football but under pressure reverted to the familiar style of hoofing it up the field. Once up the opposition end, there was little cutting edge. Once again you have to ask questions about selection and formation. If we are going to play three strikers then why not play Samaras and Dickov as target men with Vassell playing slightly deeper. Vassell has pace but no killer instinct, Dickov holds the ball up well but is not a pure striker and I am not sure what Samaras is but he certainly isn’t a left winger. We would have been better playing Sun on the left as he has turned in decent performances for us in the past in that position.


Weaver 7. Did well with one great save but occasionally looked a little slow off the mark to through balls.
Richards 7. Good defensively but seems to lose the use of his legs when he crosses the halfway line. Needs to get forward more in open play to support Sinclair.
Dunne 6. OK but one or two trademarks boo-boos.
Distin 7. Actually looked interested for the first time in a while and his performance was all the better for it.
Thatcher 2. A poor performance overall and a disgraceful challenge on Mendes. His sole intention was to hurt him and this was just about the only thing he succeeded in doing right all night. I’m not one of those who repeatedly call him but more of this and I will be.
Sinclair 5. Couldn’t fault him for effort but crossing wasn’t good enough and ran out of steam well before the end.
Barton 6. Never stopped running but doesn’t look half as effective without a holding player like Hamman behind him.
Reyna 5. He is always involved but too little added value for his endeavour. He is fine when passing sideways or backwards but not so good when trying to pass forward.
Vassell 5. Never stopped running but has no killer instinct or confidence in front of goal.
Dickov 6. A typical, feisty performance from the wee man. A master at holding the ball up but no threat in front of goal. It would help if we had someone who was.
Samaras 3. Oh dear. I’m in danger of becoming boring but he needs to practice those basic skills of trapping and shielding the ball. I could do those things better (and I’m not joking) and being out on the left is no excuse.
Ireland 6. Needs to start at the tip of a midfield diamond as he uses the ball intelligently.
Miller 6. If he is not to be this season’s Lee Croft then he needs to start some games. Has plenty of ability.

Overall “Out Of The Seat” factor 4. A few exciting moments but a largely insipid affair between two teams who are just a bad run away from the bottom three on this evidence.

Colin Savage <colin(at)>


The headlines about the City vs. Portsmouth game was all about Ben Thatcher’s very bad tackle on Mendes. As much as I like to see strong, hard tackles by a defender, after seeing it on TV this was more of a premeditated assault and we don’t need this from a Manchester City player. I will not be surprised if the FA, after seeing this tackle, punish Thatcher for the damage.

Granted, only one of the new signings – Dickov – played last night, but if City do not bring in a couple of players for this season, whatever the cost of the players, it will be dwarfed by the cost that it will cost MCFC at the end of the season. It’s a case of pay the piper now, or pay him much more later on.

The team is not ready; it should have been ready for the final pre-season game versus Porto.

Stuart Pearce is very limited in what he can do whilst the MCFC Board hold him back; they should have been this prudent before KK went out shopping for players like a kid in a candy store. The gamble never paid off, now the club is hurting for cash and investment.

Samaras should be an all-out striker with a shoot on sight attitude; playing him on the left as he did in the Dutch League is not his best position. This rough diamond needs a lot of polishing but I still predict he will be a star, he just needs a couple of goals and his confidence will be back.

Next the Gooners come to CoMS; it looks like a tough one.

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


After watching our first 2 matches of the league season, I am sure everyone including SP and his back room staff are deep in thought about how we can get the best from our distinctly average bunch of players. Against Chelsea we were so poor that it might have made sense for Pearce to play a 4-5-1 formation to counteract Chelsea’s stronger midfield, and basically keep things tight in midfield and defence. I think Pearce saw Liverpool attack Chelsea and put them on the back foot in the Community Shield, but we do not possess Liverpool’s quality within our team.

Dabo was so off the pace he needed to have been replaced earlier. As for Samaras, is he really the player who is worth £6 million? Not from what I have seen. He lacks pace and never seems to be a genuine threat up front; even Crouch with his lack of pace can unsettle a defence.

Corradi at least puts himself about and shows some desire, and will get better. Thatcher is just plain poor, seems to be possessed with some desire to show how aggressive he can be. After the Portsmouth game he will probably, and more to the point deserves to, be banned for a long time for his thuggish tackle, it was a real horror forearm smash that seemed pre-meditated.

I am looking forward to seeing Trabelsi in the team, and would like to see him on the right of midfield instead of right back. I can see him bombing down the right wing and being a genuine threat to the opposition’s left back. I feel we have enough cover at right back with Richards, Mills, and Sun Jihai. Dominate the midfield and you dominate the game.

Barton is fine in midfield but should stop taking free kicks and corners; he never seems to get any right!

Sinclair is a player who is always making an effort but lacks that cutting edge in front of goal.

I know Reyna gets grief from a lot of fans, but I still think he is a good footballer who can make things happen even though he makes the occasional mistake, and will be a useful sub in midfield.

We genuinely need a quick and tricky left midfielder, and Samaras is not the answer. Someone like Boa Morte or Lua Lua or even Sulley Muntari the Ghana international, or maybe even Gera from WBA.

Look at the Rags, they have two excellent wide men in Giggs and Ronaldo, they make things happen and also score their fair share of goals. Ideally we need to mirror this system but we lack the quality personnel.

I can’t wait for Hamman to play because I am sure he will give us that extra something that we are missing in midfield. With our current squad of average Premiership players we are going to struggle and I cannot see when we will get our first win. When was the last time we had a win over Arsenal? Are we likely to get one this weekend? I don’t think so.

Up front there can only be Vassell and Corradi (when he is back from suspension), and we should make changes, like for like i.e. Samaras for Corradi and Dickov or Cole for Vassell.

Glyn Albuquerque <GlynAlbuquerque(at)>


Well at least the kebab was good!

When I used to go to Maine Road I’d grab a bag of chips before the game from one of the excellent chippies nearby, notably the Blue Moon Chippy famously captured in the painting of that name by local artist Liam Spencer (see it at:

Now we all know that the quality of the product can vary on such occasions but, football aside, the chips were always first class and so the afternoon was never a complete waste of time. It made you wonder whether the club management made sure that the local chippies were up to scratch to make up for the poor product often seen on the pitch, in the same way that Joe Royle used to throw on Shaun Wright Philips at the end of a crap game to ensure that we all left the ground with a smile on our faces. On one occasion in the 1998/99 season, we needed somewhere to meet up with a friend who was also going along to the game and he suggested a kebab house on the Curry Mile.

Here, three and a half quid gets you a dinner plate sized naan buried in a fresh salad, dressed in a number of extremely tasty sauces and yoghurts to complement the tender pieces of the chicken, chargrilled for your delectation. The result is a feast that must also have been approved by the MCFC board for the reasons explained above.

Our new ground makes a trip to Curry Mile a lengthy diversion for us but, it’s so much a part of the matchday ritual that we set off an hour earlier from our exile in Nottingham to make sure that we get our curried fix. We invariably meet up with Cappo and a group of City lads from the Lake District, who also see the kebabs as good compensation for what might follow at the ground. Win or lose, you often come away thinking what this team needs is a good left sided midfielder or some such but the kebab, that’s perfect just as it is.

Rick Eagles <rick(at)>


G.B.H. definition: Grievous Bodily Harm

Guy Mowbray commentating on MOTD got it spot on: “There’s no place in football for that kind of thing”

I, for one, would be happy if he never played for City again.

G.B.H. – Go Ben Home (anywhere but here…)

Mike Sokol <msokol(at)>


What a disgrace. He should be punished by the club, never mind the FA. Having watched it time and again, how could the manager do anything other than condemn this assault? If that occurred in the street he would be jailed, and quite deservedly so. If my memory serves me, this is not the first time Ben has been involved in such an incident. So let’s hope the club take action; there is no place for these tactics on the football field.

It also shows the poor referee as weak but then aren’t they all? Only a yellow card; I hope he is punished as much as Poll for his genuine mistake.

John Gray <gray.june(at)>


I am not sure if this will ever be read by true Manchester City fans. I am referring to the so-called football tackle by Ben Thatcher on Pedro Mendes of Portsmouth last night.

I saw the tackle on Sky TV and must admit I was shocked by the callous disregard that Ben showed towards another footballer. It was one of the worst tackles I have ever seen and must rate as close to a legal assault as it is possible to get.

Manchester City have an excellent record for producing good quality and flair football; this will not help that record one bit.

I feel that it is time the managers/directors got hold of players that produce these types of tackle and throw them out of the club. The authorities must then back the managers by banning these players for lengthy spells, and by that I mean for years, not a few games. This is not the first time that Ben has been involved in this type of tackle. It really has got to stop before someone is seriously maimed or even killed. Let us all remember that football is first and foremost a sport, let’s keep the beautiful game just that. Tackles like that should have no place in any sport.

As a football supporter first and foremost I am horrified by what is becoming a more common practice in the game; let’s get rid of it. Manchester City can take a lead here, but I won’t hold my breath.

GT Blake <gt006f9405(at)>


I attended City vs. Portsmouth on Wednesday night and witnessed GBH on the football pitch by a so-called Manchester City footballer, one Benjamin Thatcher. Not only did Thatcher assault Pedro Mendes by means of a forearm smash that the WWF Wrestlers would of been proud of, he earlier did the same sort of tackle/assault on Kanu near the centre circle, which went unnoticed by the officials and a lot of the crowd and for good measure kicked Benjani in the head attempting to clear the ball; both players required attention from the medics.

How the referee did not red card Thatcher for the ‘yobbish’ attack on Mendes we’ll never know, because he had full view of the incident – sorry, attack – and was slow to react.

We as City fans, and I’m sure 99% will agree, don’t and will not tolerate that kind of behaviour coming from any City player wearing ‘our shirt’ and I personally think the Club should fine him £100,000, place him on the transfer list, and he should be told by Stuart Pearce (if he’s got any bottle) and backed by the board (if they’ve got any bottle) that he will never play for Manchester City Football Club ever again.

We don’t need players like that bringing disgrace on our club. Thatcher has a history of bad tackles ‘after the ball has gone’; ask Nicky Summerbee. Thatcher must be trying to emulate the terror tactics of ‘Pea Brain’ Roy Keane in his heyday; Keane’s tackle on Haaland at Old Trafford in the derby just shades it for nastiness and premeditation.

The FA should ban him for at least 10 games minimum and fine him £50,000. The police should also charge him with assault and jail him. Manchester City don’t need Ben Thatcher, they should set an example, bring some sanity back into football, and terminate his contract immediately; let’s do something right for once.

Dennis Reilly <dennisreilly68(at)>


For anyone who hasn’t seen it, and is still in doubt, the incident is about 4 minutes in on this link:

Chris Cobb <cobsun(at)>


The best ones are those made at an early stage, and predictions are very easy as you are either right or wrong so here’s mine and the reason.

Look at the table now and look at it at the end of the season; we will be very close to our current position.


  • Where are the goals going to come from?
  • Who is going to prevent teams from scoring against us?
  • Who is going to win games in the midfield?
  • Joe Royle said that Maine Road was the easiest ground to visit for an awayteam because if you could hold City in the early part of the game then theirfans turned against the team and this made the job much easier for theopposition.
  • Harry Redknapp has come to the CoMS to get at least a point and his men did ajob. We go away and very seldom get anything. Other teams will do the sameand go away with all 3 points. I doubt if we will pick up 3 points away fromhome all season.
  • What really pi**es me off is that the players have not got it in them, theyare only in it for the money.
  • I hope Thatcher is charged with assault.

Sam Duxbury <member(at)>


Run for cover. I despise Joey Barton. He is absolute garbage. His passing is so damn poor, his free kicks dreadful, and his vision blind. His wages are irritating me.

I hate Dickov. Division 2 player, Division 2 mentality, Division 2 skill. You can run all day long – but you are still so s**t. 9 Goals in Division 2 – make that a Division 3 player.

Thatcher. he’s rubbish – agreed. I’d rather have a broken police cone in his position than him. However, whilst everyone decides what punishment should be administered to the lad, all I’m saying is, if Mr Thatcher is due punishment, he shall get it. It’s been done now, it’s currently being evaluated, and no doubt by tomorrow or Saturday we’ll have heard. But everyone crying, moaning, and standing on their pedestals pontificating about the punishment you think should be bestowed upon him is pointless. Did you really stick up for Keane on Alfie? Did you?

If I hear the word ‘police’ in the same sentence as Thatcher’s proposed sentence again, I’ll get angry. What worries me more is the fact that Pearce will play him, knowing how good he himself was as a player!

Disappointed to hear that Silver Dustbin is grinding out his contract here. How true and moralistic of you Sylvain! I always say it – but there ain’t no sentiment in football. Get rid in my book. The rat.

The Manager. Love him. He knows more than you think he does. The interview on GMR after the Portsmouth game was the most articulate, on the ball and clever I have heard from a City boss ever. The interviewer asked every question we were all asking in the car on the way home. Pearce didn’t shirk one question. And, well, went right up there in my respect for him. Top drawer.

Atmosphere. There is a better astmosphere in our house when I’ve got to clean the bathroom.

I await a good Thatchering from our brethren.

Joel Perry <j.perry(at)>


Whilst it might seem desperately old fashioned, may I comment on Samaras’ appearance?

In the opinion of both my sons, who are of a similar age to him (which is relevant) and myself, he needs a proper haircut, to tuck his shirt in and wear black boots. He looks totally unprofessional and plays like a teenager having a run out with his mates.

And if the rest of the team were to tuck their shirts in and look as professional as Chelsea did, then maybe things would improve!

Brian Leigh <B.Leigh(at)>


In response to the comment from Alan Townhill about United support increasing by 6,000 when they dropped to the 2nd level in ’74, was this the start of the glory hunters joining then, as I presume that as United won the title in Division 2, the extra 6,000 only wanted to follow success and weren’t prepared to give them support in the 1st Division when they really needed it? Just a thought…

[I always thought the gloryhunters arrived post ’92 – Ed]

Joe Ramsbottom <joe.ramsbottom(at)>


The monthly meeting of the Milton Keynes branch of the Official Supporters’ Club will take place next Wednesday 30 August 2006 at The Chequers pub in Fenny Stratford, Milton Keynes. The meeting will start at 8pm.

All new and current members are welcome. If you would like further details, please contact Madeleine at the address below.

Madeleine Hawkins <madeleine.hawkins(at)>


Could any Sydney-based Blues point me in the right direction of a decent bar that will be showing this Saturday’s game, with it being a 2:30 kick-off and none of the bars in my area are showing it?

If anyone fancies grabbing a few beers whilst watching us destroy Arsenal (maybe) drop me a line at the address below.

Ross Cameron <Ross.Cameron-FSG(at)>


G’day from Down Under. I was just wondering if anyone out there In Blue Heaven was coming out to Australia for the Ashes series?

If so I have tickets for day 1, Boxing Day 26th December and for the First One Dayer in Melbourne. If anyone is interested email me and we can talk about it.

Unfortunately we are off to a bad start but I believe we can knock Portsmouth off. I missed the opening round due to intoxication and a 1am kick-off here.

Less said the better.

CTID, Alan H <mancity33(at)>


Season ticket for rent or on match-by-match basis.

£335 for remaining 18 games or choose the match you want to see.

Key 103 stand 2nd level N block.

One match in and I’ve already seen enough.

Steve O’Brien <steveobrien72(at)>


23 August 2006

Aston Villa           2 - 1  Reading               37,329
Manchester City       0 - 0  Portsmouth            37,214
Middlesbrough         2 - 1  Chelsea               29,198
Blackburn Rovers      1 - 1  Everton               22,015
Charlton Athletic     0 - 3  Manchester United     25,422
Fulham                1 - 1  Bolton Wanderers      18,559

22 August 2006

Watford               1 - 1  West Ham United       18,344
Tottenham Hotspur     2 - 0  Sheffield United      35,287

League table to 23 August 2006 inclusive

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

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1253