Newsletter #1299

Typical City again, as we succumbed to Reading by 2 goals. Poor finishing yet again appears to have cost us – can somebody please find a sports psychologist for those who manage to squander so many chances?

We have a match report tonight thanks to Colin, plenty of opinion on the transfer and monetary situation, and just why City’s new motto should perhaps become “plus ça change, plus ça reste la meme chose”. We also have travel news for Pompey and the usual ticket requests.

Finally, tentative fixture dates announced for the Arsenal (away) and Chelsea (home) games as 28th February 7.45pm and 14th March 7.45pm respectively.

Next game: Portsmouth, away, 5.15pm Saturday 10 February 2007


Even by Manchester City standards of managerial longevity, Steve Coppell’s reign was decidedly short. So what had we missed? The equivalent game at the Madjeski Stadium showed he has built an efficient and hard-working team that have a plan and know how to play to it. We certainly don’t tick many of those boxes at the moment.

We started with the same eleven that started against Southampton but the bench was interesting with Daniel Sturridge on and Sun Jihai returning. The game started well for City with Distin just failing to connect with a corner. In contrast with the frustrating and largely unexciting encounter in Reading, this was an open and free flowing game. Distin had to concede a corner against Lita, which was eventually cleared by Ireland, with a kick more akin to a Jonny Wilkinson effort. The defender under it misjudged it and Vassell gave chase but the Reading ‘keeper just got there first.

City had settled well and were playing some good stuff. Dabo had found his passing boots and made one glorious pass on 20 minutes then seconds later, Richard Dunne clearly forgot he was Irish and indulged in some Brazilian trickery to get the ball out of trouble. The first real City effort on goal then followed, when Vassell found some space about 25 yards out and let fly. The shot was well hit but just off target. Then a throw in wasn’t cleared by Reading and Joey Barton got a shot in that was blocked.

Reading came back and we were lucky not to concede after 26 minutes. Dunne seemed to have a long through ball covered, despite pressure from Lita, but Weaver made an inexplicable decision to come out when he had no chance of getting there. He collided with Dunne and Lita, flooring both and leaving the ball free. It was only a lucky bounce that took it away from Lita, who would have had an empty net in front of him, and Dunne did well to clear while he was on the ground. Weaver was clearly badly hurt and required treatment. Even when he got up he was struggling and it seemed clear that, as in the derby, he would have to come off. Yet despite seemingly signalling as such to the bench there was no action and it took quite a few minutes before Isaksson came on.

Less than five minutes later, Reading had the ball in the net. A long, hopeful punt into the area seemed to be going out but the impressive Hunt didn’t give it up, in contrast to the City defenders, and headed it back for Lita to score. The linesman ruled that the ball had gone out, to our great relief, but TV replays suggested he was wrong. This woke City up a bit and another great cross-field pass from Dabo found Trabelsi, who shot straight at the ‘keeper. A couple of minutes later, Ireland also did really well to find Samaras, who beat his man and fired in a powerful shot that Hahnemann could only parry straight to the feet of Barton. With all the goal to aim at, he put it too close to the ‘keeper who still did well to save with his legs.

There were chances for both teams in injury time, with a spot of head tennis leading to the ball falling to Barton, but the Reading defence were too quick, then Distin got on the wrong side of a low cross across the City six yard box but Lita didn’t get a decent touch on it.

The second half started in the same fashion, with Dunne suckered by Hunt and Isaksson having to gather smartly. Then Barton found Trabelsi in space on the right and his low cross found Vassell, who spooned the ball over under pressure.

Dabo, who’d had a far better game this week, had obviously picked up a knock as he had to come off for Hamann. Isaksson then used the ball intelligently, throwing it out quickly to Barton in space on the right. Ireland was in space on the left but Joey elected to carry on into the area, where he tripped. The City ‘keeper then did the same again to Hamann, who set up a good move that was just cut out by a Reading defender before it got through to Vassell.

It was then Reading’s turn to have a go but a low ball across the area didn’t find any red shirts. It was a really free-flowing game now as Samaras received the ball on the left but, as is his wont, gave the ball away too easily. City had a corner after a Trabelsi cross was cleared and Dunne headed just wide. There was then a “heart in mouth” moment at the other end when a deflected Reading cross left Isaksson stranded bit luckily hit the bar.

Trabelsi was seeing plenty of the ball but the end product was not always of the highest quality. In quick succession, three crosses failed to trouble the defence. Ireland was on song though and on 26 minutes a great ball through the middle found Vassell one-on-one with the Reading ‘keeper, who again did well to save. Then Hamann initiated a good passage of play, which ended with Barton having a long range effort that came to Samaras via a Reading defender. However, he couldn’t control it and the chance was gone. That was his last contribution as, with just over fifteen minutes left, he was replaced by Sturridge.

The youngster was immediately in action and, in a lovely move he beat two defenders to set up Beasley. His cross found Barton just inside the area but he could only shoot wide. Then the action shifted to the right as Trabelsi released Richards, whose strong run into the box was ended by a good tackle. The ball was superbly cleared by Sidwell, who found Lita upfield and the striker put a powerful, pin-point strike past Isaksson inside the far post. Despite having played pretty well mostly, we were 1-0 down and the heart seemed to drain from the City team.

Reading missed a chance to go further ahead when two of their players were unmarked in the area but Hunt extravagantly tried an overhead kick that sailed well over. City could have equalised shortly afterwards, when a Barton shot went for a corner, but no one could get a foot on the end of a ball that seemed to bounce around the Reading area.

Then, as the last minutes ticked away, Hamann took too long on the ball and was robbed by Harper. He found Lita on the left this time and once again he gave Isakssson little chance with his well-hit shot. This signalled a rush for the exits from the home fans but City still managed to miss a chance to salvage some pride from the game when Beasley couldn’t get a foot to what would have been a tap-in. The whistle went to a chorus of boos from those still in. This was unfair in my view as we hadn’t played at all badly most of the time but had yet again shown that good possession counts for little if you can’t put chances away.

Weaver 4. Barmy rush out that ended in him injuring himself plus a couple of poor kicks.
Richards 8. Solid at the back and a threat going forward.
Dunne 7. Strong at the back.
Distin 7. Same as Dunney.
Trabelsi 5. Worked hard but crossing poor more often than not; Sinclair in disguise?
Barton 7. Effective but not up to level of his last few performances and should have scored.
Dabo 7. Thought he did really well up to his injury. Protected the defence as some good distribution.
Ireland 8. Continues to shine. Our best player on the day.
Beasley 6. Not a wing back but did OK. Like to see him take defenders on more.
Vassell 7. Prodigious work rate again and timing runs better. If only he could finish consistently.
Samaras 4. If only he could do anything consistently! Needs help on the training pitch but if he is getting it there’s no sign of it on match days.
Isaksson 6. Nothing really to do but pick the ball out the net. Distribution was clever though.
Hamann 6. Like Dabo, he did well. Until the second goal.
Sturridge 6. Made a bit of a splash and a few more outings like this will do him good.

Overall Out-Of-The-Seat Factor 7. It was, in my opinion, an open and entertaining game, apart from the result of course.

Colin Savage <colin(at)>


Apart from the obvious – the lack of a bread and butter striker – City’s main failing in recent years has been in the transfer market and this was brought into sharp focus by the Spurs/Mido situation. Irrespective of the late change of heart by Pearce’s ex-colleague Jol, what sort of medical was going to be conducted by a doctor at 11.30pm at White Hart Lane?

Consider the “crocks” that we bought in the summer who either broke down or were unfit for weeks after the season started – surely we need a bit more professionalism in this area? Sam Allardyce must enjoy himself every time he thinks of Hamann. If the Stevens enquiry wants to look for malpractice at City it would be advised to consider our medical staff! Also look at the way “squeaky clean” Harry managed to perceive that Cole and James (and Berkovic before them) were ready for a move – all, of course, without “tapping them up” first. I’ve grown to like Wardle although I wasn’t impressed at first, but there is no doubt that Bernstein was shrewder in this area.

I think that the FA have picked the wrong guy for the under 21’s – they should have gone for Wigley. Perhaps my memory is playing tricks but it seems that since he took over the first team coaching our results have not been too good – but as a coach for the youngsters I think the performance of City and Southampton’s Acadamies suggests that he is as good as any.

Back to strikers, Vassell is a good footballer but lacks a clinical finish and we haven’t found a partner to replace Cole (or maybe even Fowler). Corradi and Samaras don’t seem to me to be making the grade although Samaras may yet develop into something useful. There seems little option but turn to Sturridge, give him an extended run and see if he can build a partnership with Vassell. I note that up here in Scotland, Killen, though injured, is still the leading scorer in the Premiership.

Finally on goalkeepers – looking at the match statistics I’ve noticed in a number of recent games that the shots on target against have equalled the number of goals against (yesterday against Reading was an example); perhaps Pearce’s first selection policy – not having a goalkeeper – has some merit! More seriously, I have been pleased to see Weaver’s return and he has been a competent ‘keeper this season, but at this level, a ‘keeper needs to be making saves that win points (as James has done with Portsmouth) and there haven’t been many games where that has happened. We need to convert a few “the ‘keeper had no chance” into “the ‘keeper made an unbelievable save”.

David Lewis <dfl(at)>


It’s time to put Samaras in the reserve team until he shows some desire to play football; he is lazy without the right attitude to be a team player or a goal scorer.

If Stu does not read these comments then someone at the club must, and tell Samaras the first thing he needs to do to get his attitude right is arrange to get his hair out of his eyes so he can see properly what’s going on around him at a fast pace. Stuart Pearce please take him to your barber’s, he is obviously going to a ladies’ hair salon in the Old Trafford area.

The defeat against Reading was in ways unlucky one might say, but to me it was a case of glaring missed chances by a very poor strike force. Reading had a thoroughbred in Lita who scored two well taken goals and City had a cart horse in Samaras. It’s time to come out and tell it like it is about Samaras; I would not mind if he gave 100% effort.

Many of you will know that for the best part I try to remain positive in my postings; today I cannot. The excuse that he is young and a rough diamond I can no longer accept, he needs a good shaking up. Whatever others might think – you may give your opinions in the next Mc V – I will be interested to find out if I am alone here.

It was nice to see young Daniel Sturridge make his début to a standing ovation, I hope that we shall see more of him, and soon.

A few weeks ago we were talking about moving up the table. It’s still possible but now it’s the relegation issue once again. We are now 15th in the league, that’s just 10 points ahead of a bottom three club.

Watford look as if they are doomed, but Charlton and West Ham have improved their teams and are bound to fight to the very end. Sheffield United and Wigan show fight and a desire in their teams’ efforts. City needs every point that they can bag right now for there are some tough games ahead. We need to see City play as if every game is a cup final until the end of the season.

Some readers will remember me saying before the transfer window “pay the piper now or pay him a lot later on”, I sure hope that our present squad can put some results together; the players work hard for one another with the exception of Samaras, but all the hard work is lost when we can’t score goals. A missed opportunity in the transfer market might be avoided if our young Daniel Sturridge pulls through.

I keep my faith in Stuart Pearce, he is our manager / coach and he will get it right, there is a lot at stake.

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


City have 30 points in the current season, after playing 25 matches. At this stage in the previous season they had achieved 34 points and then went on to gain 9 further points by the end of the season. A similar tally for the remainder of this campaign will net a grand total of 39 points. Someone wrote that a team needs 40 points to be safe from relegation!

Last season, by this stage, City had won 7 games at home. This time it is 5 home wins. Away form is identical in both seasons.

The club is in decline and its place in the Premiership is now balanced on a knife edge.

I think it ludicrous that the manager’s focus should be shifting to a second job at this crucial time for the team he is paid good money to manage. If he has so much time available perhaps he should attend language classes to learn how to say “I am going to kick your ass” in Greek, German, Italian and French.

City n’est-ce pas?

Peter Birbeck <peter.birbeck(at)>


If anyone takes any notice of anything that I write, they’ll know that I’m not a big Joey Barton fan. But, where credit is due, I am happy to give it.

He’s been a prat in the past and, at a time when his form didn’t warrant it, appeared to hold the club to ransom for a much improved contract although, I suspect now, that Joey may have been a bystander in that incident, and his agent could well have been the perpetrator.

Well now he’s been given his first call up for England and I, for one, am delighted.

He’s still a way to go to convince me but he’s definitely going in the right direction. Most certainly, he’s done as well as most in the England squad to get a chance. Good luck to him and let’s hope he plays, has a good game, and gets called up again. Then his value will really go up.

Joey joins Micah Richards in the latest England squad (what a surprise, not) as Micah continues his incredible progress. All I want to see now is Micah selected ahead of the ugly sister from Old Trafford. That will make my day.

But amongst all this joy at international call ups, and there are more at Irish senior and England junior levels, there is one bit of sadness.

Nicky Weaver, apart from the Southampton goal last week, has been incredible and saved the team on numerous occasions when the defence has let him down.

It would have been great to see him between the posts completing a trio of City players. He’s certainly done better this season than Robinson who seems to have had a nightmare few months with errors galore but, as we all know, the errors only get noticed if you play for City (ask David James).

Well done lads and well done, again, the Academy.

[Agreed John. I thought he did quite well on Question of Sport too! – Ed]

John Nisbet <nisbet1957(at)>


Well… I’m writing this just before 1am on February 1st after waiting up to see what amazing deals we pulled out in the last few minutes of transfer deadline day.

While browsing on, I came across this link:

I really don’t know what to say about our scouting and recruitment. At least Abdoun looks promising. Oh well – roll on June 1st!

Ian <ID313(at)>


Pearce for England. Hopefully he will then leave City. The 2/3 days away will make us a better team. Someone explain to me how we are better off under the incompetence of Pearce? They are mostly his players, Why did we not sign anyone? Because nobody wants to come – all they want to do is leave.

[Think you need to check the facts there Sam, it’s 2-3 days away between now and June, not every week – Ed]

Sam Duxbury <Member(at)>


  • David Nugent will score a wonder goal.
  • MCFC will bid a massive amount of money for him in the summer. He will becomeour record signing.
  • David Nugent will then pick up a pre-season injury. Forcing him to spend longperiods out of the first team.
  • We will eventually sell him for a massive loss, three seasons down the line.
  • He will eventually move around the lower divisions on free transfers.

Colin Darvill <colin.darvill(at)>


Manchester City fc have been forced into an embarrassing U-turn over ticket prices and a singing section. Supporters’ groups have been campaigning for years for a singing section, only to be ignored by the powers to be at City. Many fans and organisations have also raised the issue of ticket prices only to be told there is no need to change as City already is one of the cheapest grounds to watch football. Only a couple of weeks ago I received a letter from the club telling me what a wonderful job they were doing and there was no need to meet with supporters’ groups to discuss the issue!

I think what City have done is far too little, far too late and I don’t think it will make any difference to the attendances. City fans are frustrated with the board, the manager and the players and until the club start to understand what is turning City fans off and then addressing the issues, thousands more will vote with their feet and stay away. Fans are no longer going to put up with the dross on the field and are not prepared to be taken for mugs by the board any longer. Until the powers that be get out of their ivory towers and start talking to the fans, the fans will continue to stay away. City are still not prepared to scrap the £20 Citycard fee although it only makes the club a pittance compared to the millions they get from Sky. It seems they still want to screw the fans for as much as they can, and they are still not prepared to let the players visit supporters branches, although that was a great club tradition going back many years.

My appeal to the board is simply this: please listen to the fans and act on some of their suggestions.

Kind Regards, Don Price <cathdon.price(at)>


If anyone has any spare tickets for the Preston away game, please get in touch. A few mates and I have all missed out (through lack of organisation more than anything) and we’re obviously pretty desperate to be at the game.

In return, I will happily point you in the direction of a nice, quiet pub in the student area of town that is planning to open its doors at 9.30am so we can have a leisurely pint before the game. It’s only 15-20 minutes walk from the ground and there’s also a cab rank next door if you couldn’t be bothered walking.

However, if we don’t get any tickets beforehand there’s no point in us all travelling so the pub will remain shut.

Any assistance would be much appreciated. My mobile number is 07791 480 743.

Mike Holden <mike(at)>


Just to let you know I received this information from a Portsmouth colleague to pass on to any fans who are planning to travel down to Fratton Park by train next Saturday.

“At the moment there are no trains into Portsmouth, buses are replacing trains, which of course cannot take the same numbers of people. I have no idea how long this is going on for, the engineering works were all supposed to be finished by this weekend but are nowhere near it. Please advise any Man City supporters coming down next weekend to check what is happening and allow plenty of extra time if there are buses replacing trains… and don’t forget the waterproofs!”

Phill Gatenby <safestanding(at)>


4 February 2007

Tottenham Hotspur     0 - 4  Manchester United     36,146

3 February 2007

Aston Villa           1 - 0  West Ham United       41,202
Blackburn Rovers      2 - 1  Sheffield United      20,917
Charlton Athletic     0 - 1  Chelsea               27,111
Fulham                2 - 1  Newcastle United      24,340
Liverpool             0 - 0  Everton               44,234
Manchester City       0 - 2  Reading               38,676
Middlesbrough         1 - 1  Arsenal               31,122
Watford               0 - 1  Bolton Wanderers      18,722
Wigan Athletic        1 - 0  Portsmouth            15,093

31 January 2007

Bolton Wanderers      1 - 1  Charlton Athletic     22,357
Chelsea               3 - 0  Blackburn Rovers      38,000
Manchester United     4 - 0  Watford               76,032
Newcastle United      3 - 1  Aston Villa           49,201

30 January 2007

Portsmouth            0 - 0  Middlesbrough         19,820
Reading               3 - 2  Wigan Athletic        21,954
Sheffield United      2 - 0  Fulham                27,540
West Ham United       1 - 2  Liverpool             34,966

League table to 04 February 2007 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  26 11  1  1 33  8  9  2  2 28 10 20  3  3  61  18  43  63
 2 Chelsea         26  9  4  0 27  8  8  2  3 18 11 17  6  3  45  19  26  57
 3 Liverpool       26 10  3  0 25  3  5  2  6 14 14 15  5  6  39  17  22  50
 4 Arsenal         25  7  5  0 30  9  6  2  5 16 12 13  7  5  46  21  25  46
 5 Bolton Wndrs    26  7  3  3 18 11  6  2  5 12 16 13  5  8  30  27   3  44
 6 Reading         26  8  1  4 24 16  4  3  6 15 18 12  4 10  39  34   5  40
 7 Portsmouth      26  7  4  2 20  9  3  4  6 14 16 10  8  8  34  25   9  38
 8 Everton         25  6  4  2 19  9  3  5  5 12 14  9  9  7  31  23   8  36
 9 Blackburn R.    26  6  2  5 16 16  4  2  7 14 21 10  4 12  30  37  -7  34
10 Newcastle Utd   26  6  4  3 21 16  3  2  8 11 19  9  6 11  32  35  -3  33
11 Tottenham H.    25  8  1  4 21 16  1  5  6  8 20  9  6 10  29  36  -7  33
12 Middlesbrough   26  7  3  3 19 13  1  5  7 11 17  8  8 10  30  30   0  32
13 Aston Villa     26  6  4  3 15 11  1  7  5 13 20  7 11  8  28  31  -3  32
14 Fulham          26  6  4  3 12 10  1  7  5 16 29  7 11  8  28  39 -11  32
15 Manchester City 25  5  4  4 10 11  3  2  7  9 19  8  6 11  19  30 -11  30
16 Sheff. United   26  4  5  4 15 15  3  1  9  7 20  7  6 13  22  35 -13  27
17 Wigan Athletic  25  4  2  7 13 20  3  2  7 13 21  7  4 14  26  41 -15  25
18 West Ham United 26  5  2  6 14 16  0  3 10  4 25  5  5 16  18  41 -23  20
19 Charlton Ath.   26  4  3  6 11 17  1  2 10  9 28  5  5 16  20  45 -25  20
20 Watford         25  2  5  5 10 14  0  4  9  4 23  2  9 14  14  37 -23  15

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1299