Newsletter #1457

The season got off to a less than auspicious start as we succumbed to a 4-2 defeat by Villa, with poor Bojinov rupturing his achilles tendon in the warm up.

We have opinions on the game tonight, the lack of cover and areas of concern.

Meanwhile, a Manchester based team are showing the world how it’s done out in Beijing – well done to the cyclists!

Next Game: West Ham, home, 4pm Sunday 24 August 2008


So we’re under way. Not a great start at Villa Park but there is no disgrace losing to a good Villa team who are best equipped to finish 5th as long as they hold onto Barry. Although it’s very early days, it is clear that Mark Hughes has his work cut out this season.

Obviously we are having dreadful luck with strikers and our heartfelt sympathy goes to Valeri Bojinov who snapped his Achilles tendon in the warm up. With Jo still at the Olympics, and Darius Vassell and Benjani also out for the foreseeable future, we badly need to sign another striker now, as it is too much to ask our two talented youngsters, Danny Sturridge and Ched Evans, to carry the burden, especially if Hughes is not going to use Bianchi, who hankers for a move back to Italy. Djibril Cisse has been talked about as a possible loan signing and this would be good idea. He is quick, has an eye for goal and has experience of English football. Hopefully, though, he would be luckier with injuries and not suffer the sort of bad luck with injuries that he suffered at Liverpool (i.e. two badly broken legs).

Given the way our defence was easily pulled in all directions at Villa Park, the defending has to improve, particularly the defending at set-pieces, where Villa had a field day. There were too many unchallenged headers in our box. The return of Richard Dunne from suspension should see an improvement in that department, but the others have to be a lot tighter on their men. Mikael Silvestre who is likely to arrive for £750,000 should represent an improvement at left back but one would hope that he stays fit, having been dogged with a series of injuries in recent years.

The other area for concern is central midfield. Fernandes and Johnson both have good qualities but both are relatively inexperienced and are not, as yet, dominating games. As a pair they are rather lightweight and are overrun too frequently by more physical opponents. The promising Fernandes runs around making tackles and he generally passes the ball simply and fairly accurately but he still needs to work on his distribution, which cost us at Villa Park. Maybe the experienced Hamann would be a better bet in the holding rôle right now, as he is a very intelligent user of the ball and rarely wastes a pass. Inexperienced he may be, but the talented Michael Johnson needs to work much harder than he does, both in attack and defence. Too many times, the defence is left exposed by his failure to track his man and we cannot afford that. There is talk about him having an attitude problem and wanting to move despite being offered a pay rise. Whatever, he clearly has ability but he needs to be involved more in the game than he is. Whilst his Villa Park performance was better, his work rate at the moment does not compare favourably to a player of similar ability like Garry Flitcroft who, at the same age, contributed much more all round. Amongst several of his very good performances for City, I can recall a rainy midweek game in the mid-90s when Flitty came back from a cartilage operation early (i.e. within 6 weeks) and he threw himself bravely into tackles and helped us pass our way to a narrow 1-0 victory over Everton, and there is no reason why our latest find in midfield can’t match that kind of performance. Maybe Johnson needs a kick up the backside. I can’t think of anyone better than Mark Hughes to administer that, especially as he once got sent off for outrageously kicking a Sheffield United defender up the backside! Some Blues are suggesting that we should sell Johnson now, but I disagree. Whilst I don’t think he warrants another pay rise just now, I’d like Hughes to have some more time to work with him, because if he can’t get the best out of him, who can? If he can’t sort him, then sell him, but not before he’s had at least until January, if not the whole season.

We still need to sign a physical presence in central midfield, not to mention creativity. Steven Appiah if free of his injuries and his fellow Ghanaian IK Start’s Anthony Annan of Ghana are worth looking at. James Harper at Reading offers power in the engine room and did well in the Premiership. Surely Jimmy Bullard, who was an excellent driving force for Fulham last season, wouldn’t cost that much (i.e. less than £5 million)? We also need to sign a right winger of quality. SWP is unlikely to leave Chelsea and Tottenham fans talk about Lennon being all pace and no end product so we may need to look abroad.

Whilst the ownership of the club is an obvious source of concern, with regards on the pitch matters, this is no time to panic. We have a very good manager in Mark Hughes, and he needs to be given resources and time to do the job. Look at what he achieved at Blackburn. I just hope that Garry Cook allows him significant resources to strengthen the squad and that all the fans get behind Hughes – he is quality and deserves our backing.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


At the moment we are in the hands of God; as much as I hate what’s happening with our Chairman (it all looked rosy for us last season) and if he is true to his word, then he will be with this club for the long haul. Not much any of us can do, but go along with the ride.

Back to our season on the pitch, and I watched the game on Thursday versus FC Midtjylland. True to form, City were a shadow of themselves and the opposition were miles better than us in all departments. They were quicker in closing down play, kept the ball better, defended well and showed more invention. I must admit we improved just before the break and also in the 2nd half, and with a little bit of luck, could have got a minimum draw or even a hard-fought win.

Hart – did nothing wrong, no chance with the goal. 7
Corluka – poor in defence and quite often gave the ball away, improved in the 2nd half. 6
Ben Haim – not a bad display but often gave away the ball cheaply and chose the wrong option. 6
Dunne – poor display, makes too many mistakes (at fault for the goal), and awful passing, a shadow of himself. 3
Richards – his pace gets him out of trouble, needs to be more assured on the ball, and play at right back. 7
Fernandes – lots of huff and puff, but not much else. 5
Johnson – had his good moments, but does not do enough to be considered “great”. 6
Elano – started off porly but gradually got better and he also works hard. 7
Petrov – brilliant when on the ball in advanced areas, looks a threat, needed a finish. 6
Caicedo – rubbish, what did Sven see in him? no pace, no skill, can’t hold theball up, can’t score. 2
Sturridge – excellent display, unlucky not to score, always looked promising, needs a good partner to work off. 7
Etuhu – gave us a bit of pace down the right flank, can get better. 6
Bojinov – too little time to impress, didn’t do much. 4

IMHO, I am not impressed with Corluka, not a good defender, no pace and for a guy his size not great in the air, and if we are offered £8 million plus, from Spurs, we should take it and try and buy Aaron Lennon; he will do wonders for us on the right wing.

Dunne is also looking like a liability. Towards the end of last season and sadly now, he makes too many costly mistakes. However, we don’t have many options at centre half so he will always be included.

Personally I would play Richards at right back, Dunne and Ben Haim at centre half, and Ball at left back. We have Onuoha as cover for right back or centre half.

Ben Haim is not a left back and should not be played there when we have so much cover for that position.

In midfield I would have Petrov on the left, Johnson and Elano the middle, Etuhu on the right (Fernandes and Ireland as cover).

Up front I would play Bojinov and Sturridge, with Ched Evans on the bench.

Now is the time to show our colours: “We are City”

Come on you Blues!

Glyn Albuquerque <glynalbuquerque(at)>


So our run of good fortune against Villa came to an end.

I have to say that City played well enough and it’s encouraging but some poor defending and a horrendous pass from Mr Huff’n’puff undid all the good passing play that City demonstrated.

Ched Evans did OK but it’s early days for him.

Sturridge demonstrated when he came on that not only is he ready for the top flight, he looks as though he’s played there for years.

Dunne was responsible for the defeat on Thursday with a juvenile pass when the defence was all out of position.

Against Villa, Fernandes made the fatal pass that opened the floodgates but, once again, the lack of marking in the middle on crosses was the problem.

Just a little hint to our defenders: ‘Goal Side’ and you have half a chance. It’s just basic stuff. Don’t ball watch and try to be the hero by getting into space where the ball ‘might’ go.

This game, once again, demonstrated how weak our midfield is. It’s lightweight, doesn’t dominate a game by hard tackling (the hard tackling came from Richards and Ben Haim), and generally allows the opposition to dictate how the game goes. Heaven help us against Chelsea who have one of the strongest midfields.

Didn’t miss Dunne and his calamity mistakes and gormless defending. Ben Haim looks quality. Wish we had a couple more of him as I’d put one in midfield.

Now for the new orange kit. Sh**e! Who on earth dreamt that up? It takes the top spot for the worst kit in City’s history, beating the purple one hands down.

Get rid!

John Nisbet <nisbet1957(at)>


A disappointing result in the first leg of the UEFA Cup, when skipper Richard Dunne started this season’s campaign in much the same way he ended last season, in a sloppy manner. We all know that Dunne can play much better when he concentrates on his game, and where he is putting the ball when going forward.

Sparky warned all the players that the game versus Midjylland was going to be tough, but the City players never lived up to the challenge.

As Sparky has said, “It’s only half time”; this is true, and the team know what they have got to do to stay in the competition. The team has got to play with more energy, spirit, and with a positive attitude.

It has been a rough couple of weeks for everyone connected with MCFC; a real tonic for everyone would be a new signing. Another striker? More than a striker though, an attacking midfield player who has vision playing on the right.

Daniel Sturridge had another good game, and almost scored when he hit the crossbar; his form has been noticed by Chelsea who are keen to get their hands on one of our most promising stars. This is a player that we must hang on to at all costs if our future is to be anything worthwhile.

Another player at the club that has yet to come on form is Elano. Here is a star who has proved himself in the early part of last season, we know he can do it, just needs to concentrate on his best position, and for Sparky to help him find it.

If all the players played with the passion of Petrov, I don’t think that we would have many problems. Players can have an off game, but when the players collectively have an off game we have a bad result.

City are capable of beating Midjylland in the second half – I predict a City win.

As for Villa, the first half produced no goals and it was hard to put either side ahead, for they both looked good.

Carew for Villa always looked dangerous with his height, and despite the height difference Ben Haim put on a brave showing. The defence in the first half held up well with Micah the captain of the team, with Dunne missing through suspension.

The second half was a different game with six goals, an exciting game played by both sides. Ched Evans was put into the team to start in the last minute when Bojinov got a serious injury in the warm up, and preliminary reports say he could well be out for six months or more.

The cry out for a striker becomes even more glaring now with Benji out for months, Jo still at the Olympics and when he gets back will probably take time to adjust to the Premier League and his new team, and Vassell out with an injury.

Bianchi looks homesick for Italy, I just don’t know about Caicideo, a young player who looks out of place in the Premier League? I do wish him well.

It is a tough place to be in the Premier League to learn one’s trade, and young Sturridge and Evans are giving it their best, and have never truly had a bad game. Friedel (Blackburn’s old ‘keeper) was in great form, and made some fine saves to stop City.

Etuhu clearly needs more experience, he made some good efforts, just not good enough, at least not yet, but I do think that he has a good future.

Against Villa, City’s best attacks came from the left flank; what we really need is another Petrov on the right, and another quality striker up front.

We have two weeks until the transfer window closes, but have we the resources to get quality players? Just adding any old players will not do if we are to improve this season.

The hero for Villa was Agbonlahor who scored a hat-trick inside seven minutes, this for all City’s efforts was the killer punch.

Stuart Pearce was at the game, and no doubt will have liked the form of young Agbonlhor when picking his under 21 England side for their next game against Slovenia.

The score 4-2 looks a bit flattering for Villa, but I will not say that they did not deserve the win.

Although City lost this game, I liked City’s courage and spirit, I was impressed with their endeavor, but some sloppy passing gave the game away.

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>

MCIVTA FAQ [v0708.01]

[1] MCIVTA Addresses

Articles (Heidi Pickup)          :
News/rumour (Don Barrie)         :
Subscriptions (Madeleine Hawkins):
Technical problems (Paul)        :
FAQ (David Warburton)            :

[2] What are MCIVTA’s publishing deadlines?

Deadlines for issues are nominally 6pm, Monday and Thursday evenings bu email. Unfortunately we cannot accept email attachments.

[3] MCIVTA Back Issues and Manchester City Supporters’ home page is the unofficial Manchester City Supporters’ home page. Created in 1994, it is the longest running of the Manchester City related web sites. Back issues of MCIVTA are also hosted on the site.

[4] What is the club’s official web site?

The official club web site can be found at

[5] What supporters’ clubs are there?

Manchester City FC recognises three supporters’ clubs: The “Official Supporters Club” (; the “Centenary Supporters’ Association” ( and “The International Supporters’ Club”.

[6] Where can I find out about Points of Blue (formerly the Fans’ Committee)?

The committee operates as an interface between supporters and the club. Points of Blue appears on the club website as a minor entry under “Fans Zone”.

[7] What match day broadcasts are available on the web?

The Radio Manchester (née GMR) pre and post match phone-in is available on the web at

Live match commentaries and archives of games, reports and interviews can be found at

[8] Where can I find out if City are live on satellite TV? provides a listing of Premiership games being shown on UK domestic and foreign satellite channels. Useful sites for North American viewers are,, and

[9] Do we have a Usenet newsgroup?

Yes we do: is our home on usenet. If you are not familiar with usenet, a basic explanation is available here:,289893,sid9_gci213262,00.html

[10] Do any squad members have their own web pages?

There are a number available and direct links can be found at

[11] Where can I find match statistics?

Statistics for the current season are available from the club site, but for a more in-depth analysis try

The views expressed in MCIVTA are entirely those of the subscribersand there is no intention to represent these opinions as being thoseof Manchester City Football Club, nor of any of the companies anduniversities by whom the subscribers are employed. It is not inany way whatsoever connected to the club or any other relatedorganisation and is simply a group of supporters using this mediumas a means of disseminating news and exchanging opinions.

[Valid3.2]Heidi Pickup,

Newsletter #1457