Newsletter #1489

A draw at Fulham on Saturday, with a match report tonight thanks to our intrepid reporter Phil. City are, as he rightly points out, leading scorers in the league so far (bar Chelsea) – so must be doing something right.

We also have opinion on the season so far, recent games, viewing and songs and the usual requests.

Next Game: Everton, home, 3pm Saturday 13 December 2008


Craven Cottage in the winter sunshine with its idyllic setting on the banks of the Thames where oarsmen practice for their next regatta is an unlikely setting for a fortress, but a fortress it is for Fulham Football Club, and their impressive home record bears this out. That City should come away with a point from a ground where five teams have come away with nothing this season (only one team has won and another had drawn), deserves credit.

The performance in an attacking sense, was however, a little disappointing, barring the first fifteen minutes when City totally dominated and threatened to blow away a skilful Fulham side. It wasn’t long before City were in front with a well worked move. The impressive Zabaleta exchanged passes with Wright-Phillips and from the return pass the full back arrowed in an accurate cross that Benjani headed clinically downwards into the net.

City creditably tried to add to this lead and were certainly more likely to score in the first 15 minutes. Hamann crossed from the right and after Schwarzer flapped in the Fulham goal, Stephen Ireland shot wide from the inside left position. Shaun Wright-Phillips, playing in a free, attacking midfield rôle also was wide with an attempt after Benjani’s trickery and Zabaleta played him in. Thereafter in the first half, it was all Fulham as City seemingly ran out of ideas, playing far too many long balls and misplacing passes. The ball was continually gifted to Fulham and City survived a strong handball appeal against Dunne. It was almost impossible to see clearly from my view low down in the away end whether it was a legitimate claim or not, and television replays later proved to be inconclusive. It was only to be a temporary reprieve despite the absolutely dire, nay, ‘pants’ crossing of John Pantsil, the Fulham right back. The impressive Bobby Zamora, leading the line expertly for Fulham, held off his marker and turned to play in Jimmy Bullard on the right and from a tight angle he cleverly fired an equaliser across Hart’s right.

City’s lack of movement and imagination on the ball with too many balls being wellied forward (often to no one in particular) meant that possession was continually gifted to Fulham, who dominated the rest of the first half with their probing, passing game. Jimmy Bullard in particular was at his best, always wanting the ball and prompting with his clever passing and movement. He combined superbly with his midfield partner, Danny Murphy, and wide man Simon Davis, and they gave City’s midfield a bit of a chasing in all truth with their clever interplay. Consequently the best chances were falling to Fulham in the first half: Johnson fired over and Clint Dempsey fired wide when he should have scored. At the other end Vassell had a shot saved and a Benjani shot was just wide with another effort, but it looked like Fulham were more likely to score with their more intelligent passing.

Roy Hodgson’s side nearly added to their lead after the break: Zamora shot over and City’s defence didn’t heed this warning, and the Fulham striker was given too much room to turn and shoot just wide of Hart’s left hand post with the City goalkeeper beaten. This seemed to wake City up a bit and although we didn’t create all that much, the team pressed the ball better and made life more difficult for the home side.

City’s best attacking moves were inspired by Pablo Zabaleta down the right hand side, and fittingly it was the Argentine who came closest in the 2nd half. Good combination play between Benjani and Shaun Wright-Phillips freed Zabaleta in the penalty box and his sharp goal-bound shot was saved at full stretch by Schwarzer.

Stephen Ireland, who was doing a containing job out of position on the left, hit an effort wide after a chipped pass by Benjani. Chances were few and far between as City effectively set about disrupting Fulham’s movement. Ben Haim shot over from distance but there was little else in an attacking sense as both sides huffed and puffed. Bullard was at the centre of Fulham’s best moves, directing the play from all areas of the pitch, but improved marking in midfield and defence meant that Fulham too were largely restricted to long range attempts in a second half stalemate. City’s biggest test was a 30 yard Bullard free kick, which was brilliantly saved by Hart high up to his left. The scramble from the ensuing corner was to be the nearest that Fulham came to breaching the City back line as another free kick from long distance was easily gathered by Hart, who had yet another sound game.

Some of Hughes’ critics are now saying they don’t like his style of football. So they don’t like the style of a manager whose team that has scored more goals than anyone in the Premier League bar Chelsea. They say don’t like the style of a manager that regularly fields Robinho, Wright-Phillips and Ireland? Of course they are entitled to their opinion, no matter how misguided. If anything City have been too open and attacking at times this season, so it’s difficult to see how they can say that he needs to be more adventurous, especially when he has 12 senior players out injured! It’s not like City were not trying to score goals after we took the lead, and in any case, why not give Fulham a little credit for playing good football? Not for them the alehouse kick-it-if-it-moves fayre that the ‘rich man’s Wimbledon’ of Old Trafford served up last week. If we’re going to be picky, Hughes might have had more joy on this day had he played Ireland in the middle rather than stationing him out on the left. He may have made more of Wright-Phillips’ pace by playing him on the right wing and Vassell on the left, but it is churlish to be critical of Hughes after attaining a good result against a team who should not be taken lightly, especially at Craven Cottage. The fact is that Hughes organised his team well and they worked hard to get a point on Saturday and deserve credit for doing so, because some days you have to defend and scrap for points. It’s also true that City’s squad is stretched right now, and with a good record in the transfer market, borne out by the signings of Kompany, Robinho, Wright-Phillips and Zabaleta (who was City’s man-of-the-match on this occasion), he should be able to bolster this squad with players that we need to improve the quality and make it more balanced in January. All is needed is patience and a view of the bigger picture.

Hart: One brilliant save in a faultless performance. City do not need a new goalkeeper 8.
Zabaleta: A very good, energetic all round performance from a consistent full back. Zaba was City’s main threat, pushing forward down our right, combining particularly well with SWP and Benji. His best game for City so far 8 (man of the match).
Ben Haim: Improved after a few wayward passes 6.
Dunne: Some important interceptions at crucial moments 7.
Ball: Mostly steady but allowed Bullard far too much space for Fulham’s equaliser 6.
Vassell: Still struggling to impose himself 5.
Hamann: Industrious in the engine room 6.
Kompany: Important battles won in the midfield 7.
Wright-Phillips: Plenty of work done and he was important in build up play 7.
Ireland: Left wing is not his best position but selflessly sacrificed his own game for the team admirably, picking up an ill-deserved booking in the process 6.
Benjani: Took his goal well, and led the line very well, bringing others into the game 7.
Evans: Industrious but needs to show more poise when receiving the ball 5.

Att: 24,012
Refwatch: Rob Styles: missed a lot of things to both sides’ detriment but for once didn’t manage to ruin the game. His performance can be summed up by one comment from a City wag: ‘Styles, you couldn’t find your @rse with both hands’ 3.
Fulham fans: Friendly as ever, and backed their team with gusto occasionally, as well as some strange clapping. Lots of Aussie accents from the large local Antipodean population in West London 6.
City fans: Spells of vocal activity (‘Istanbul, Istanbul we are comin’ and a few ‘Come on City’s to get the boys going…) but not as much noise as usual at an away match 6.

Best opponent: Jimmy Bullard: A gem of a player, who like Benjani, plays the game with a smile on his face. Watching him instils a curious mixture of fear and pleasure: the pleasure is watching a skilful, enthusiastic artist: the fear is of what he might do to City. He is looking for a contract extension and is surely worth an enquiry 8.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


I think comments regarding the derby are making two main points well about the defensive first half and about SWP being targeted but they converge in a very relevant way, rather than being two separate factors.

Shauny being kicked off the ball isn’t just something for me that ‘might’ have led to a goal or two… for me it definitely would have got us something. No, I don’t have a crystal ball, I have cold, hard evidence. You can say “If my auntie had a…” etc., but SWP is potentially lethal from anywhere from ten yards outside the box on the right side of the pitch and so the forwards not turning up is irrelevant. The evidence I call on is goals already scored by SWP against United from that position – the 4-1 win at Eastlands and the only goal in the OT derby 1-3 defeat in November 2003.

Maradona won the World Cup single-ahem-handedly for Argentina, and in Premier League terms, not yet international terms SWP is that kind of player, albeit without a dodgy handball goal; he is capable of igniting a team varying in talents and confidence. There’s also a major difference between opposition players surviving 60+ minutes on a booking than less than half that length of time. At home, we should always set up to attack and if we go three or four down like we did against Arsenal when they got applauded a few years ago, and then be forced to shore it up, at least we’d have given it a go. A real missed opportunity.

Marc Starr <marc.starr(at)>


I am 100% in full agreement with the comments made by Ray Barsley in MCIVTA 1488. I have already expressed my views on our manager and his team selection. OK fair dos, let’s give him the chance to build his own team with his own players I hear a lot of people cry and see what happens. OK, this is a fair cop but out of the players he has brought in Kompany is the only decent one and he is in the Mark Hughes mould (i.e. one of the dirtiest players in the league) and we are not far off from being the dirtiest team in the league, so if you ask me Hughes is already building his team and it’s rubbish. Oh actually Zabeleta looks like a decent player, so 2. SWP does not count we already know his quality and Hughes is already playing him out of position. This was more of a club signing to get the fans on-side if you ask me.

An intriguing question? What are Hughes’ aspirations for City?

As a Manchester City supporter I feel the answer lies amongst the aspirations of our new owner, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan.

Our new Chairman will have been given instructions on how to make Manchester City the greatest club in history. This isn’t boastful, as you must understand this is how many Abu Dhabi businessmen think. They do not settle for second best and they do not think anything is impossible (considering the task of making City great, you can see why many think it’s impossible!).

I do not feel City will win the title, or even reach a Champions’ League spot by 2010. It depends on the players we can attract and the position we are in by that time, which doesn’t look good with the let’s pump it up the field tactics used by our current manager. Will they spend millions on new players at over the odds and ludicrous wages? Yes, if that is what it takes, that is the thinking behind the new owners. Every player has a price. If I for example was asked to go and work for another company and they were willing to double my wages a week would I move. You bet your bottom dollar I would and if many are honest out there you also would.

No, it may not be ethical or right but try telling these guys that! Our new owners want City to be the greatest but I believe are realistic in their aims. It’s nice to say we will get Kaka, Messi, Buffon, C. Ronaldo, Torres and Fabregas, but will they want to come? That depends on them, I don’t see it happening but we could all be proven wrong (as I said money will talk). But they have to sell the dream to be the 1st of something to shake the world of football, not just the pound signs. We’ll see who he’s after in January. Our defence is suffering as we need decent cover for Dunne/Richards and a left back has to be a priority, maybe even a decent cover for Hart (just so he knows his place isn’t guaranteed). Another decent forward to play alongside Benjani as was at Pompey when he bagged a hatful.

Hughes should target the top 6, a position we have never achieved since the formation of the Premier League. I’m sorry if it upsets some people but I don’t believe it’s going to happen. I so hope I’m wrong and will be the 1st to admit it. But my gut feeling and watching City play does not feel good. I mean will the top 4 managers come out after the game and say I was happy with a point here today at Fulham (no disrespect)? No, they would be gutted. Recent comment made about a winning mentality in a team: “small-club mentality”. Must start from the top?

Reg Swallow <regswallow(at)>


We are roughly half way into a new season, with a new manager, new owners, pretty much new everything, and yet people are already sniping at Mark Hughes. Slow down, for heaven’s sake. It may well be that he is not the man for the job, long term, but until we are more settled, with a better squad, it is far too early to call for his head. Might I remind you how s***e his loathsome former manager was when he first joined United?

Ferguson at least now provides us with moments of huge merriment, and one has to agree with Ramon Calderon that he is going senile. And publicly.

On the matter of our out of town rivals, we might also reflect that the collapse of credit based investing is hitting them hard. An interesting article can be found here:

A short excerpt:

“Yet what you see is sometimes not what you get. The contrasts here were not just on the field but in the respective boardrooms, off it. And a study of the off field circumstances suggests pretty emphatically that United’s long term prospects look as alarming as City’s did in the first half on the field in this game. The borrowing commitment of the Glazer family in securing Manchester United is frightening, calculated at £650 million. That debt, now loaded onto the club, will increase close to £950 million within five years unless it is paid off in that time. With interest rates of 20% on some of that money, it is surely appropriate to argue that no United player will confront so serious an adversary on a football field any time soon.”

Regards to all my old time MCIVTA mates, Heidi, Paul, Ashley, Steve and any others I haven’t seen for too long.

Up the Blues, and keep the faith. We have an extraordinary opportunity in our laps to overtake our obnoxious neighbours, and thence to chortle and snigger at them as and when we feel like it.

Jeremy Poynton <jeremy(at)>


There are certain songs that are taboo at karaoke. In my book any Sinatra, Buble, Billy Fury and Mack The Knife type stuff should fall intro that category but sadly don’t seem to. You’ll Never Walk Alone is one song generally avoided in the Manchester area. Sing Blue Moon and you’re likely to get derided by the Rag morons, although the Marcels (guvnor version), easily warbled in the sixties pre karaoke era is an octave or two too high these days. I once innocently glided back to my seat after a particularly pleasing rendition (I thought) of Floyd’s Comfortably Numb and was promptly bombarded with ashtrays and other such missiles from the paranoid Rags who thought it was something to do with you know what. Which it most certainly wasn’t.

Recently, over a number of weeks/months, this bloke has been doing that nicked Rag anthem Country Roads. Every week ad nauseum. Most singers vary their repertoire. Not him. Every bl**dy week, for weeks, how annoying is that? You have to go to the toilet whilst he does it to avoid confrontation as half the pub join in waving their arms about ridiculously.

Anyway, he wasn’t in last week, thankfully, and it turns out he’s allegedly done a runner to Thailand or some such place, because he’s wanted by the cops for questioning regarding an attempted molestation of a young lady who was out cycling on a remote ‘country road’ (bit of licence here as it was the A580, I think!).

The song now takes on a whole new meaning.


Dave Wallace <dw001e8104(at)>


In answer to Mark Forsyth’s posting on MCIVTA, I live in Spain and have seen all of the Blues’ games live on my computer via the link below. You can get a three month subscription for about a tenner.

Dave Sterrett <blueds(at)>


With regard to people who say they can’t watch City because they don’t have Sky Sports or Setanta, neither do I but I’ve managed to watch every game so far. Internet streaming, people!

The best streams I’ve found (for a mac or PC) are, and If it is on TV anywhere in the world it is online! It used to be rubbish with foreign commentary, bad picture etc. but is really coming of age. Occasionally the stream can go down, but hey, it’s free! You can always find a good stream by checking Bluemoon or other City fan forums on match day. Sky etc. better watch out. In fact, the impact on football in general could be huge. In the meantime, don’t miss out on a minute! The highlights are always on here:

Gibby Zobel <gibbyz(at)>


Alex Rowen comments that we haven’t played Forest since 1977/78 in his news round up in the last McV. I remember taking my (then new) stepson, a Forest fan, to Maine Road in 1999. The match was a 1-0 win with The Goat scoring the only goal. We then won the reverse fixture in February 2000 before going on to promotion with Big Joe.

Needless to say my stepson is now a big follower of the mighty Blues as well as his first love, so mixed emotion for January 3 for him.

Joe Ramsbottom <joe(at)>


I never imagined, in my wildest dreams, that my first contribution to MCIVTA would be to defend the views of the whiner from Stretford but, on the subject of new and very substantial investment in public transport, Fergie is absolutely ‘spot on’.

Incidentally, the line to COMS is currently being constructed and should be ready by 2011. OK it’s 9 years late but the point is that it’s going ahead whatever the result of the referendum.

The referendum is about the future funding of public transport, not just about congestion charging. The charge will be imposed only at peak times and will not apply at weekends. And, in any case will not be introduced until 80% of the £3 billion promised from the Transport Innovation Fund has been spent.

It’s clear (to me anyway) that the way to improve transport in the conurbation is to restrict the use of the private car and improve our buses, trams, trains and, of course, our team.

Keith Grime <keith_grime(at)>


Picture the scene: Some Rupert at Craven Cottage rings City for information for their matchday magazine, hangs up and says to his chum, “I say Jeremy, don’t those Northern chappies talk funny. And they keep dropping their aitches!”

The result: Fulham programme last Saturday, page 25 Manchester City, formed 1887 (as Hardwick FC).

John Caley <john(at)>


The latest news on young Lewis is that he is doing well and was much more like his old self on Friday. He will be in hospital for at least another week though as he is still getting flash headaches and ear bleeds. The doctors are generally pleased with his progress and on Sunday he was still doing well though the blood from his ear is still a problem and so he may need an operation to seal the hole in his brain lining.

Dad John thanks everyone, on Lewis’s behalf, for their good wishes and concerns, much appreciated.

We continue to hope and pray.

Dave and Sue Wallace <dw001e8104(at)>


The Perfect Christmas Gift for all City fans…

It’s that time of year again: the Christmas tree is up, the snow is falling, and the streets are packed with frantic shoppers searching for the ideal Christmas present for their nearest and dearest City fan.

Football Aid to the rescue! Why brave the winter weather when you can give the gift of a lifetime from the comfort and warmth of your own home? The unique gifts available at will leave any man you know ecstatic for weeks! This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity will give Man City fans the thrill of the ultimate match day experience at The City of Manchester Stadium!

Highlights include pulling on a personalised shirt in the official match day changing room, walking down the tunnel to the sound of a cheering crowd and ultimately stepping out onto your Field of Dreams. A host of club legends, including Andy Hinchcliffe, David White, and Ian Brightwell have all supported Football Aid in previous years, either managing or playing alongside football fans on the hallowed turf as they live their dream.

Football Aid was created as a unique way of raising money for charity and voluntary organisations. Through its parent charity, Field of Dreams, the funds raised from the events are distributed to diabetes research, education and management projects plus charities nominated for funding by Manchester City.

Supporters wishing to secure their position can do so by visiting and clicking on “Manchester City” in the events and matches page. Alternatively, fans can contact <info(at)> for further information.

Kathryn Campbell <kathryn.Campbell(at)>


I keep being asked if there are any book signings or anything coming up for my book “Manchester A Football History” so here goes… There are 2 book signing sessions coming up in December. They are both at Borders branches.

On Sunday 14 December 2008 I will be signing copies of “Manchester A Football History” at the Borders store at Manchester Fort Retail Park, close to Cheetham Hill, between 1pm-2pm. Then on Saturday 20 December 2008 I will be signing copies at the Borders store in Stockport (Peel Retail Park) between 2pm-3pm. If you are unable to make it on either day Borders can reserve copies (call 0161 476 3392 Stockport or 0161 833 0208 Manchester).

On a different matter, a word of caution. I know there are a lot of MCIVTA readers interested in publishing, or have previously had published, books. However, particularly at the moment, there are many unscrupulous publishers out there. I have had lots of good and extremely bad experiences with publishers and would like to urge all writers/potential writers to be absolutely certain the publisher they are dealing with his reputable. Organisations like the Society of Authors (I am a member) can help, but ultimately it is vital that the writer finds a publisher they can trust.

Recently I have been let down once again by a publisher At Heart (based in Altrincham and run by Henry Hochland). At Heart has now gone into liquidation without paying me a penny of the money owed to me. I know other Blues have tried to publish books via Hochland and I would urge anyone in that position to seek advice. The book I wrote/compiled and Henry published was “Manchester City 125 Years of Football”. That book sold out within a year and last year, without permission, he produced a paperback version. I have seen absolutely no royalties or payments from either version, even though I know that the initial version proved profitable and the second is still selling well. Please do not buy this book!

So, final word, please be careful out there.

Gary James <info(at)>


Is there any chance of you highlighting this campaign some fans have got going in your excellent e-magazine for the next few issues until after Xmas?

Morning Glory <morningglory1(at)>


7 December 2008

West Bromwich Albion  1 - 1  Portsmouth            24,964
Everton               2 - 3  Aston Villa           31,922

6 December 2008

Fulham                1 - 1  Manchester City       24,012
Arsenal               1 - 0  Wigan Athletic        59,317
Blackburn Rovers      1 - 3  Liverpool             26,920
Bolton Wanderers      0 - 2  Chelsea               22,023
Hull City             2 - 1  Middlesbrough         24,912
Newcastle United      2 - 2  Stoke City            47,422
Manchester United     1 - 0  Sunderland            75,400

League table to 07 December 2008 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD Pts
 1 Liverpool       16  5  3  0 11  4  6  1  1 13  5 11  4  1  24   9  15 37
 2 Chelsea         16  3  3  2 14  5  8  0  0 21  1 11  3  2  35   6  29 36
 3 Manchester Utd  15  6  1  0 19  4  3  3  2  8  6  9  4  2  27  10  17 31
 4 Arsenal         16  5  1  2 15 10  4  1  3 13  9  9  2  5  28  19   9 29
 5 Aston Villa     16  3  4  1 10  7  5  0  3 15 11  8  4  4  25  18   7 28
 6 Hull City       16  3  2  3  9 15  4  3  1 15 10  7  5  4  24  25  -1 26
 7 Portsmouth      16  4  2  2 13 10  2  3  3  6 13  6  5  5  19  23  -4 23
 8 Everton         16  1  3  4  9 15  5  1  2 13 10  6  4  6  22  25  -3 22
 9 Fulham          15  5  2  1 11  6  0  3  4  2  6  5  5  5  13  12   1 20
10 Bolton Wndrs    16  2  2  4  6  9  4  0  4 12 10  6  2  8  18  19  -1 20
11 Wigan Athletic  16  3  2  3  6  9  2  2  4 12 11  5  4  7  18  20  -2 19
12 Middlesbrough   16  3  2  3  8 12  2  2  4  8 11  5  4  7  16  23  -7 19
13 Stoke City      16  5  1  2 12 10  0  3  5  5 17  5  4  7  17  27 -10 19
14 Manchester City 16  4  0  4 19  9  1  3  4 11 15  5  3  8  30  24   6 18
15 West Ham United 15  3  1  3 11 11  2  2  4  6 11  5  3  7  17  22  -5 18
16 Newcastle Utd   16  3  3  2 13 11  0  4  4  6 13  3  7  6  19  24  -5 16
17 Tottenham H.    15  3  1  4  7  7  1  2  4 10 14  4  3  8  17  21  -4 15
18 Sunderland      16  2  1  5  7 13  2  2  4  6 12  4  3  9  13  25 -12 15
19 Blackburn R.    16  1  2  5  5 15  2  2  4 12 16  3  4  9  17  31 -14 13
20 West Brom A.    16  2  2  4  9 15  1  1  6  3 13  3  3 10  12  28 -16 12

With thanks to Football 365

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

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Newsletter #1489