Newsletter #1586

Our draw at Anfield on Saturday means a record we’d probably rather not hold of 6 draws on the bounce although it does see us settled in 6th place in the table, ahead of Liveprool, and with a game in hand.

We have match view and opinions tonight thanks to Phil, Kevin and Ernie.

There’s also plenty of opinion on players, staff and shenanigans behind the scenes and the usual requests.

Next Game: Hull City, home, 3pm Saturday 28 November


Two draws in a row at Anfield in the last two seasons and both times we can feel disappointed to have only taken a point. The disappointment is greater this time because after an even first half, we were clearly the better team after the break. This is the worst Liverpool side since Graeme Souness was their boss in the 90s, and they should have been beaten. The lack of concentration after we scored our second cost us: Nedum Onuoha’s left footed clearance didn’t go far enough up the pitch and SWP failed to track Benayoun’s run, and the Israeli ran behind Zabaleta’s back to equalise.

Other than that, SWP had a really good game, working hard up and down the flank and being a real threat in attack: the crowning moment being his double turn and perfect left foot cross which created Stephen Ireland’s goal. SWP also saved us from another goal with a great leap at the far post to put the giant Kyrgiakos off, when he was about to head in.

De Jong was brilliant in central midfield, especially with his fair, crunching tackle early on that left both Babbel and Gerrard hobbling. He continued to dominate midfield all afternoon: another cracking Mark Hughes signing. I wonder if the people who were on his back last season now realise how good a player de Jong is?

Hughes’ introduction of Tevez changed the game in our favour and his brilliant persistence out on the left and clever pass to SWP started off the best move of the match, which brought our 2nd goal.

Mark Hughes got his tactics spot on at Anfield. Even if Liverpool are out of form, and are not as good as they were, they still have the quality of Gerrard (even when not fully fit) that can hurt us, so going gung-ho would have been madness. We didn’t look that confident going forward in the first half (and neither did Liverpool) with the final ball continually letting us down, but we looked more solid, with Lescott and Bridge in particular having good games after their Burnley nightmares.

Maybe next Saturday is time to give Barry a rest and a chance to recover from his niggling injuries, and start with Tevez. Alternatively Hughes could give the returning Michael Johnson an opportunity.

The talk from some quarters about sacking Hughes is quite ridiculous. Let’s just examine history and see where ridiculous sackings or ‘kicking people upstairs’ have brought us. Replacing Joe Mercer with Malcolm Allison didn’t exactly make us better did it? No trophies were won after our best ever manager was treated so shabbily amidst political infighting. Kicking League Cup winning Tony Book upstairs to bring back Big Mal brought the dismantling of a good team and the arrival of several overpriced and poor players: City didn’t recover from this for years and despite a brief rally under Johnny Bond, it culminated in relegation in ’83. Sacking Peter Reid (who oversaw us finishing 5th, 5th and 9th in the old First Division) turned us from a side that was very hard to beat, into brittle strugglers, and so started the slide towards the 3rd Division. To exacerbate this, sacking Brian Horton, brought Alan Ball (groan) and relegation, followed by more sackings in a revolving door policy and the ultimate ignominy of relegation to the 3rd tier.

I’m not suggesting that trips to Lincoln and Macclesfield are on the horizon if Mark Hughes is pushed, but there are no guarantees of success if City’s owners panicked and made another change. In fact a new manager coming in mid-season would be disruptive as he has to get to know his players. Stamping our little feet and saying ‘I want a new manager’ is not going to guarantee anything. Personally I’d rather get behind the club and that means getting behind Mark Hughes.

Some City fans are calling for Guus Hiddink to be approached, now that he is potentially available after Russia failed to qualify for the World Cup – a rare aberration in a distinguished managerial career both Internationally and at club level. These fans assume that his Russian paymaster, Roman Abramovich, would allow him to join City, when he can quite easily employ him at Chelsea as a director/manager-in-waiting. Clearly Hiddink is a very good manager, with a great track record. He may well end up being City boss one day in the future, but I don’t think that we should have our progress disrupted at this moment by a change of manager. In any case we have a good manager here in Mark Hughes. How good? Let’s find out where he can take this talented group of players, and that means giving him at least until the end of the season. We’re in sixth place, 4 points behind 4th placed Spurs with a game in hand, and we are in the quarter final of the League Cup. It isn’t a bad position is it? Thankfully Sheikh Mansoor, Khaldoon Al Mubarak and Garry Cooke recognise this and they will stick with Hughes for this season at the very least.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


Liverpool 2 Birmingham City 2
Birmingham City 0 Manchester City 0
Liverpool 2 Manchester City 2

Makes Birmingham City look a good side doesn’t it! Manchester City were a real enigma, at times looking world-beaters and then look like a Division 2 side. Defence again let us down, and then we played some neat football.

Poor old Shay Given must be wondering what to do about a defence that is simply not up to standard. On saying that, Liverpool’s wasn’t that hot either. Are their any decent defenders out there? The cupboard is rather bare compared with multi-million pound strikers. Zab had a shocker, but it was nice to see young Nedum back, and what’s happened to Kompany?

Would love to have team full of Craig Bellamys. Thought Tevez had a point to prove, that he ‘can play when he wants to play’ and Ade’s header was a beauty. I guess it’s true that money can’t buy success, or maybe it’s City that can’t buy success?

Oh for a clean sheet!

Kevin Williamson <scribbs(at)>


The game that was a big test for City failed because City with all their offensive weapons did not get out and attack Liverpool.

The first half was a boring performance from both teams who want to be in the top four. City played a defensive game with the half backs helping the defence more than helping the attack.

A positive was that Lescott’s game improved; maybe the help of previous Everton vs. Liverpool derbies helped the occasion.

The second half came to life after Liverpool scored a goal, and Mark Hughes brought on Tevez who changed the whole outlook of the City attack.

Adebayor scored a well taken goal, heading the ball down with force; other than that he hardly did a thing right throughout the game, and was never able to hold the ball up front on his own until Tevez came on as a sub. Adebayor was the only striker up front, playing without a full commitment to the cause; his running was always just a trot with so little effort.

SWeeP did well to give Ireland a golden chance to score and give City the lead, but the lead only lasted for about thirty seconds as Liverpool came fighting back right away to score the equalizer, and the score remained 2-2.

But for the second half, this game was almost a disaster: Liverpool, playing with a weakened side and one eye on Tuesday’s game in the Champions’ League, ended the game with more pressure on the City goal in a desperate effort to win this game.

One could say a point from Anfield was a good result but that would have been before we had a side full of stars. Not good enough to be a top four side; with all the attacking players in our squad we can only get draws.

Maybe because of the defence having bad games in recent weeks Mark Hughes could not trust them, and so played a game with helping the defence, more than going for attack. The more that I see the City team play, the more I see an unbalanced side.

The best thing that happened in this game was Tevez coming on as a sub, he showed Adebayor how to hold a ball, and inspired the rest of the team, but it was all too late to win the game.

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


You’d have to be have been on a planet on a galaxy millions of light years away not to have been aware of the future surrounding one Thierry Henry and his act of blatant cheating. And rightly so. The media should be full of it. Some cynical players say, ‘I’d do the same thing… I’d punch the ball in if I could get away with it’; Gary Lineker said as much after Maradona’s infamous goal in ’86. All players cheat, say others. We know that players will steal five yards at a thrown in or free kick. Players push, pull shirts, kick, trip make professional fouls and it is up to the referee to spot them. I’ve been a defender (albeit at a very low level indeed) and I’ve tried to stop quicker strikers with fair and not so fair means, and yes, sometimes you get away with it. Often it’s a case of if you don’t do it to them, they’ll most certainly do it to you. You don’t necessarily plan to kick them, push them or pull their shirt, but instinct can kick in.

So why do we get so exercised over Thierry Henry?

Kicking or fouling an opponent or deliberate handball away from the penalty areas is not generally perceived to be cheating. It must be the degree to which Henry so blatantly cheated that makes people so angry: it was Thierry Henry’s two blatantly deliberate handballs that were instrumental in creating the winning goal for France. Up until last week I’d always admired Thierry Henry. He was as good as any footballer in the English League over the last ten years, and he seemed to be pretty sporting (as footballers go) as well as eloquent, but for me and many others now, he is the worst kind of cheat. His handballs went beyond instinct – they were blatant and conscious decisions. For his cheating act alone, I want his team to lose every match at the World Cup Finals. Ideally he should be banned for at least a couple of World Cup matches, but what are the chances of that happening?

Morally the France-Ireland game should be replayed but FIFA suggest that this is not possible as they cannot replay every game where an error has been made by an unsighted referee. Practically they may have a point, but equally now they surely have to either widen their process of having more officials (as used in this season’s Europa League) or using video technology. They argue that this would make the professional game different from the game in the park. So what? Isn’t it better to get the important decisions right when we can? Furthermore, maybe one or two amateur footballers might appreciate the difficulty of the referees’ job, when he hasn’t got the benefit of a man in the stand with his TV replay. Why not allow some good to come out of this sorry episode?

Sepp Blatter has been very conspicuous by his silence. In fact FIFA have done nothing to punish Henry, who waited when he knew that the game wouldn’t be replayed to say that a replay would be the fairest thing. I wonder whether his sponsors told him to say that. It’s funny how the Football Establishment closes ranks when one of the so-called ‘bigger’ teams cheats. I’d wager that had the same thing happened the other way round and France were the victims, there would have been a date set for a replay in Paris by now.

I don’t hear Michel Platini stamping his little pieds either in the light of his countrymen’s dubious passage to South Africa. ‘Quelle surprise!’ one might say. Shame on him. Shame on the French FA for not pushing for a replay too. How’s that for an ‘encore’? Platini and the French FA should take a leaf out of one of their countrymen’s book. A few years ago Arsene Wenger (yes, him) was happy to replay a game when his team scored a dubious goal in the FA Cup against Sheffield United (the ball was not given back to the Blades after an injury and Kanu ‘scored’). In fact he actively encouraged it, and that’s one of the reasons, for all his myopia (‘did not see eet’) and selective vision, people have more than a little respect for Wenger. It’s a pity that we can’t say the same about Blatter, Platini and Co.

Shay Given, Dunney and Co. have plenty of sympathy from true football people – the Anfield Kop gave Shay a wonderful reception last Saturday – but I’m sure they would swap that sympathy for plane ticket to South Africa. Hopefully Shay can find some consolation and joy in winning a trophy with City.

I’ve not seen City win a trophy in all the time I’ve been following City (since 1980), and I wouldn’t want us to win anything by cheating à la Henry. How hollow a victory would that be? Let’s leave the cheating to the Rags. We’ve waited so long now for success, and I’m happier to wait for longer if it means winning fairly.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


Normally you hear Man U and Liverpool fans to be delighted when their players don’t turn out for the national team.

All the Irish, Scottish and Scandinavian Reds felt happy when Scholes retired from the international scene or when Gerrard doesn’t feature for England.

Don’t know about you but I wish I had a solid reason why Steven Ireland has decided to forgo an international career; I am not Irish but would like to have seen them at the World Cup.

Does anyone have the definitive answer as to why he has decided? Was there bullying over his hair, his pink wheels, grannygate? One rumour on the chat rooms that senior squad members dunked him with 5 Litres of Armitage’s Best (in the loo) over his hair and he flipped and said f*** it I’m off. Another rumour was that his girlfriend sadly mis-carried and he wanted to go home (leave the Irish squad) and was desperate for a reason to go home. His girlfriend and family pleaded with him to not reveal the reason as it was painful to them and very, very private so he came up with a bogus reason and without thinking he said Dead Granny.

A lie with good intentions but was picked up by the press and hung it out to dry and it looks as though relations have never been repaired.

If it was the treatment he got in the dressing room or by the press or the management team then I don’t blame him until it’s all sorted out. Shame though. Listening to the Irish lads on TV (Sky) over the week-end; St Ledger, Kilbane and Co. said they would be delighted to play with him for Ireland.

Hopefully there will be a change of the guard (garda) and he may return.

One bit of advice the Irish FA said to Roy Keane (who is not a fan of the FAI) “Mr Keane needs to learn from the past, not live in it”

I hope Steven does the same.

Phil Lines <phil.lines(at)>


Now we all know that you cannot believe everything that you read in the press, but a story in the “News of the World” this week got my attention.

I, like many, have always been an admirer of legendary Jim Cassell who set up the MCFC Academy in 1997. David Bernstein, who was the MCFC Chairman at the time, put £500,000 into the MCFC Academy. It has since, through the guidance of Jim Cassell, generated more than £40 million for the Club, from players that have passed through the Academy. There have been 26 graduates to the City first team.

The News of the World reports that whilst Jim Cassell was in Abu Dhabi, his office in the Platt Land complex was cleared out and all his personal files, papers etc. from ten years of work were found outside in the corridor when Jim Cassell returned from Abu Dhabi.

It was reported that Mark Hughes and Jim Cassell had an argument last year, and since Mark Hughes has been trying to get Jim Cassell out of the club! Mark Hughes replacing Jim Cassell with an old friend from Manchester United, Andy Welsh, who moved into Jim Cassell’s office whilst he was away.

It is only fair to say that Jim Cassell has a new position with MCFC now, but I think that we all would like to be present when an office with private material is sorted out. MCFC say Mr Cassell will have a new office in the CoMS.

I find this a disgusting way to treat a man such as Jim Cassell who has done so much for the club and helped so many young players.

If there was a vote today who should stay at MCFC and who should go, I would vote for Jim Cassell to stay, Mark Hughes to go, this is how much the treatment of Jim Cassell has annoyed me.

It now looks more than ever that Mark Hughes has surrounded himself with old friends and not always by their abilities. There was a manager in the Premier League that eventually failed, that being Graham Souness; I never liked his style of management.

At times I am seeing a similar style in Mark Hughes. Strange as it is they both managed Blackburn, just a coincidence of course.

Sure, I have said “In Sparky I trust” but that was because I felt he deserved a fair crack of the whip, when people were against him without giving him any chance whatsoever, and I still feel he deserves his fair chance, but he is slipping down some, but not all the way, at least not yet.

Maybe Mark Hughes thinks “I don’t need Academy players whilst I have money to spend”; not for long – Abu Dhabi group will want to see a return for the money spent, so far some money spent wisely by Mark Hughes, but not all as we all know.

Wake up Mark Hughes, your popularity is slipping (if for any reason any of the above story is not true, I reserve the right to say I read some of it in the “News of the World”).

After all the media and MCFC making statements about Robinho and his future, now that he can speak English, I would like him to be interviewed on MCFC official site, just like many other City players have been.

I want to hear Robinho say it himself that he wants to stay at City, that is if he wants to? Of course I would love him to come out and say he wants to commit his future to City.

Then it is up to Mark Hughes to use this player to his best ability, and keep him motivated. Let’s put all these media games to rest, we the supporters and fans of City want to know the real truth.

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


I received a recent email from The Cult’s Billy Duffy who is an avid MCIVTA reader. He has noted my previous memos on this site, he continues to follow City and reports The Cult are still active and are currently touring the States.

This made me wonder about other celebrity City supporters. Obviously there are the Gallagher brothers, Ricky Hatton, Happy Mondays and The Doves but is anyone aware of other celebrity Blues? I think that Curly Watts character from the Street was a City fan. Anyone want to throw in other names, especially now that supporting City is quite fashionable? Might have a few big names coming out of the closet.

Too bad we couldn’t nick three points at Anfield but the team is coming together. I thought Tevez was the man of the match. Sparky has to keep Tevez and Ireland together.

Keith Sharp <keith(at)>


Listening to the match in my car, someone commented on City’s lack of ambition starting with one up front and wondered why we hadn’t stuck another forward on when they’d lost a centre half. By the time I’d got home we were one down but had started to dominate the game.

Andy Gray wondered why we didn’t start like that; the answer is simple: Mark Hughes is a defensive bore who sets the team up not to get beat. I could take this previously because we didn’t have the resources but there’s no excuse now. When we eventually got the lead we managed to hold out for a whole 70 seconds before gifting them an equalizer.

There’s no way Lescott is 16 million quid better than Dunne, no way and why he hasn’t sorted out Bridge at left back is beyond me. I want City set up to go out and win games, I want a manager who can see a problem and who can rectify it and neither of these apply to Hughes at present.

Arthur Magee <arthurmagee(at)>


Just wondering if anyone knows anything about the demise of Seat Exchange? The official City statement is “Due to circumstances beyond our Club’s control, the Club would like to inform supporters that the Seat Exchange service has been regrettably terminated.” This “due to circumstances beyond our control” is similar to statements from businesses “To serve you better…”, which is usually followed by something like, “we are closing this branch of…”

One of the disadvantages of City’s new found wealth and success is the difficulty of us “exiles” getting tickets for the occasional match, especially the bigger fixtures. Seat exchange worked well in the past in that regard.

Anyway, and something of a hopeless request especially this far in advance but old, long time (almost 60 years) City supporter looking for a ticket for the derby in April. Situation truly desperate – alternative is for me to watch Macc vs. Chesterfield.

Seriously, if anyone has a ticket and knows they won’t be able to make it to the game I would gladly take it off their hands or if anyone knows of any other service similar to Seat Exchange I would love to hear about it.

Phil Booth – Edmonton, Canada <psbooth(at)>


This is an appeal by the Stirling Albion Supporters’ Trust to genuine football fans. All football fans are proud of their individual teams but there are times when hard times come along and fans are forced to stand up and be counted.

Stirling Albion Football Club are struggling with debts at the moment, which could threaten to put the club out of business. The Supporters’ Trust has decided to try to raise money to buy the club from the present Chairman who is in his 80’s. Details can be found on the website

We are appealing to any fans who would like to pay their £40 (£35 returnable if we fail) to become members and part owners of the club. Please make Stirling Albion your second club and help us buy the club for the fans.

If you have any questions, please e-mail me back. Thank you in advance.

James Smith – The Buystirlingalbion Campaign Team <jsmith(at)>


Front Row Events are supporting Manchester City’s very own Shaun Wright-Phillips’ charity ‘Education for the Children Foundation’.

Join world renowned chef Marco Pierre White as he serves up a sizzling evening’s entertainment as he is joined in the kitchen by three 1st team players including Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Enjoy a delicious menu selected for you by Marco as he puts the players through their paces in the kitchen to help prepare what will be a fantastic dining experience. The best voted chef will be announced after service during a live Q&A session with Marco and the boys. Your evening will entail:

  • 21st January 2010 Citizen Suite, City of Manchester Stadium
  • Dress Code: Lounge Suit
  • Arrive 18.00 for 18.30; Carriage Approx 23.00
  • Hosted by Sky Sports’ Jeff Stelling
  • Champagne reception on arrival
  • Three course meal cooked by the footballers under the watchful eye of Marco – judge for yourself which course was best
  • Half a bottle of wine per person
  • <Interactive Q&A with Marco and his special guests – with the results of thecooking challenge announced

  • Private tables of 4, 6, 8 and 10 available. Price £225 per person + VAT

With the high profile personalities attending this event, we are already receiving exceptionally high levels of interest, so the sooner you are able to secure your attendance the better.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

James Field <james.field(at)>


22 November 2009

Bolton Wanderers      0 - 2  Blackburn Rovers      21,777Tottenham Hotspur     9 - 1  Wigan Athletic        35,650Stoke City            1 - 0  Portsmouth            27,069

21 November 2009

Liverpool             2 - 2  Manchester City       44,164Birmingham City       1 - 0  Fulham                23,659Burnley               1 - 1  Aston Villa           21,178Chelsea               4 - 0  Wolverhampton Wndrs   41,786Hull City             3 - 3  West Ham United       24,909Sunderland            1 - 0  Arsenal               44,918Manchester United     3 - 0  Everton               75,169

League table to 22 November 2009 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD Pts 1 Chelsea         13  7  0  0 20  1  4  0  2 13  7 11  0  2  33   8  25  33 2 Manchester Utd  13  6  1  0 16  7  3  0  3 10  5  9  1  3  26  12  14  28 3 Arsenal         12  5  0  0 20  4  3  1  3 16 11  8  1  3  36  15  21  25 4 Tottenham H.    13  5  0  2 21  7  3  1  2 11 11  8  1  4  32  18  14  25 5 Aston Villa     13  4  1  1 12  5  2  3  2  9  8  6  4  3  21  13   8  22 6 Manchester City 12  3  2  0 13  8  2  4  1 10  8  5  6  1  23  16   7  21 7 Liverpool       13  4  2  1 21  8  2  0  4  8 12  6  2  5  29  20   9  20 8 Sunderland      13  5  1  1 16  9  1  1  4  5 10  6  2  5  21  19   2  20 9 Stoke City      13  4  1  2  9  7  1  3  2  4  8  5  4  4  13  15  -2  1910 Burnley         13  5  1  1 11  6  0  1  5  5 20  5  2  6  16  26 -10  1711 Blackburn R.    12  4  1  1 11  7  1  0  5  5 18  5  1  6  16  25  -9  1612 Fulham          12  3  0  2  7  5  1  3  3  7 10  4  3  5  14  15  -1  1513 Birmingham City 13  3  2  2  5  4  1  1  4  6 10  4  3  6  11  14  -3  1514 Everton         12  2  3  1  9 10  2  0  4  6 10  4  3  5  15  20  -5  1515 Wigan Athletic  13  2  2  2  6  9  2  0  5  8 22  4  2  7  14  31 -17  1416 Hull City       13  3  2  2  9 11  0  1  5  4 17  3  3  7  13  28 -15  1217 West Ham United 13  1  2  3 10 12  1  3  3  9 11  2  5  6  19  23  -4  1118 Bolton Wndrs    12  1  2  4  8 15  2  0  3  7 11  3  2  7  15  26 -11  1119 Wolves          13  1  2  3  5 10  1  2  4  7 16  2  4  7  12  26 -14  1020 Portsmouth      13  1  0  5  7  8  1  1  5  3 11  2  1 10  10  19  -9   7
With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1586