Newsletter #1645

As the England team crash out of the World Cup, we have opinion tonight on the state of the national team and game. As the questions continue, I can’t help but think the FA seem more intent on hosting the World Cup 2018 than on achieving success on the pitch. Time for a review, heads to roll and that includes some of these so called world class players who cannot cut the mustard.

There’s also a tribute to Frank Sidebottom thanks to Alex.

Next Game: Sporting Lisbon, 8pm, Friday 23 July 2010 (friendly NYFC)


Well, the result was all too familiar but the performance was possibly one of the worst I’ve seen from an England squad barring the headless chicken performances when Graham Taylor took them to the US, or the loss to Croatia under Steve McClaren. Mine is no knee-jerk reaction, but there are worrying elements of what happened on Sunday that will directly affect City in the season(s) to come.

The pre-tournament hype was, as ever, telling us that if England’s players performed as they did in the Premier League then they had a good chance of getting to the final. This wasn’t just ‘tabloidism’ and a case of being in denial of the real state of English football; after all, most of England’s so-called ‘stars’ have played well in the Champions’ League, and although there were no English teams in the final this season, Fulham managed to get a very average squad all the way to a European final.

So if these ‘stars’ can perform well in Europe then surely they can perform equally well at international level? Well… no. This thought ignores the fact that in their successful clubs they have an all-star cast of foreign talent around them. Gerrard has played his best football in recent years alongside a Spaniard and an Argentine. Rooney’s goals came last season courtesy of the foreign wingers Nani and Valencia. Or looking at it another way, Chelsea without Drogba would be much weaker than Chelsea without Lampard or Joe Cole. That is why a successful club like Chelsea can afford to just let Cole go, knowing that one of the players we are constantly told is ‘world class’ is surplus to requirements in club football.

Once we go beyond Lampard, Gerrard, A. Cole and Rooney, England really are struggling to provide anyone of international quality. Can you imagine Argentina or Spain trying to get Lennon, Wright-Phillips or Milner to declare themselves as eligible for their teams? The rest of the team are make-weights who are basically squad players for their various Premiership teams (Heskey can’t even get a game at Villa, for God’s sake!). Then, when you think of the players who will no longer be selected because they are too old to play in the next World Cup, you really struggle to think of young replacements for them. Potentially Adam Johnson apart, there are very few young English players who have made the mark that Gerrard, Owen, Lampard did when they first burst upon the scene. Where are our equivalents of Thomas Müller, Sami Khedira and Mezut Özil?

Why is this? We all know the answer to this one and it is money. The Premier League was set up as a rich man’s club, which then became a ‘Big Four’ elite keeping the proceeds of European campaigns to themselves whilst sending more and more money overseas to recruit the best foreign talent. Meanwhile, at times, only City, Boro and West Ham kept any kind of development of young English players going, and so the ‘Big Four’ are now entirely dependent on foreign players (apart from Spurs who have a decent amount of English players in the squad, but only got fourth because Liverpool dropped off the radar).

Why does this affect City? Well, just as we thought everything in the garden was going to be rosy for us with the arrival of our Middle Eastern money, the ruling bodies in England and Europe started to panic that they might not have one of their Big Teams in the Big Cup every year, and so we now have to work within certain limits. Having a set number of home-grown players is a very good idea, as is living within your financial means, but these have been introduced just at the point where we have been starting to flex our financial muscles, so unlike the teams who were allowed to buy success before us (pre-dominantly United and Chelsea) we will have to find another way.

It is not impossible but we’ve got to stop dreaming of huge amounts of money being spent on overseas ‘stars’ who may or may not like playing in England (Robinho, take note!) and start thinking of how we can get the best out of a small pool of home-grown players. We also need to stop thinking we are just going to walk into the top four this season and bear in mind that it is going to take a lot of hard work and commitment from the players and manager to be able to achieve this. I am still a little optimistic but we live in changed times, and we have to realise that the Big Four have been working hard to pull that drawbridge up behind them.

Ironically, the changes may help the national team in the long run, or England will stop qualifying for major tournaments just like the Scots and the Welsh if there aren’t enough good young players coming through, but if ever football’s governing bodies needed to wake up and realise that the fate of the national team and the football clubs playing in that country are inextricably linked, than it is now. In the greedy short-term quest for money above all else, long-term quality has taken a back seat.

Steve Burrows <stevieburrows(at)>


Want to hear an “English joke”? It goes Terry, Gerrard, Lampard, Rooney… you know the rest.

So ends a joyless World Cup campaign. Usually we go out to tears and disappointment but this World Cup campaign has been a shameful embarrassment, culminating in the biggest defeat for England at a World Cup. England finished without a fight. And to think I could have watched Ray Davies play Glasto on the red button…

The quarter finals were the minimum requirement and Capello’s team failed to reach that due to poor performances in the group stages, and a poorer still display against a vibrant German side. Even the disallowed goal (shame on Sepp Blatter for blocking the use of technology) is not an excuse, because the fact is that Germany would have won anyway.

Germany richly deserve credit, as intolerable as it is to some (not to me, I must add). They are a fine young team and they played very well in outclassing a poor England side. As well as the Deutsch played, I have to say that I have never seen an England team defend so badly. Both Terry and the dreadful Upson were beaten by a straight long ball. Neither read the game and are both too slow for international football. The team’s positioning when we had set pieces in the opposition’s half was so vulnerable to the counter and so it proved with their third and fourth goals. Four times were we outnumbered at the back when the Germans counter attacked. It was four times too many. Even the normally reliable Gareth Barry was terrible and the way the Özil outran him was embarrassing. It could have been worse and the Germans would have had at least six goals had it not been for David James, the only player who came out of the game with any credit.

Fabio Capello must go. There are no two ways about it. His decision making in the World Cup has been appalling throughout and it cost England getting to the quarter finals. He has continually picked players on reputation rather on what they can do. He even tried a desperate attempt to get Scholes to come out of retirement (rumour has it he didn’t have Bobby Charlton’s mobile number). Wayne Rooney did nothing in four games and Capello should have dropped him after the Algeria game, but left him on to run around ineffectually, which was a gross dereliction of duty.

Capello didn’t know who his number one goalkeeper was until it was too late. We paid the price in the Robert Green débâcle and two points were dropped against the States. His tactics were a far too rigid 4-4-2 with little freedom of expression. Out limited players looked unhappy with this and unhappy with the ridiculous boot camp style restrictions that Capello inflicted on them in their training base. Players spent too many hours in their rooms or couped up with nothing to take their minds off the football. Boredom and nerves kicked in. There was balance between focus and relaxation and Capello got it badly wrong.

Capello relaxed the players too late (if that’s what you call “relaxed”) and the damage was done. England ended up in the tougher half of the draw because we failed to show inspiration and nous against the USA and Algeria. There was too much fear in their play and the players were restricted in the bullying Capello’s stifling tactics. Steven Gerrard is not a left winger yet Capello continually stuck him out wide rather than behind the striker. That said, with Gerrard, you get the feeling that he plays too selfishly, whether it be for Liverpool or England, continually playing long passes that do not find their target or shooting when better options are available. I hope that City do not sign this talent that is on the wane.

Capello selected the highly dodgy Matthew Upson (ask any West Ham fan) over Carragher and Michael Dawson. The latter had an excellent season for Tottenham and only got to South Africa after the erratic Ferdinand got injured, yet he has not had one minute of action. The best English centre half, Phil Jagielka, was left at home.

When we needed a goal Capello brought on Heskey (one goal every 500 minutes in an England shirt) yet he totally ignored Peter Crouch, who has the best goalscoring record of any of the current batch. That says it all really.

The players, though, must take more responsibility. There can be no excuse for their lack of passion and collective lack of drive. Playing for England should be an honour and too many failed to show this. Furthermore, too many of these England players are not good enough.

Surely it is the end of the International careers for several of this overrated so-called “Golden Generation”. Gerrard, Lampard, Ashley Cole and Terry, should have played their last games for England. Throw them in the bin. Either that or send them on a tour of the towns of England, starting with Berwick-Upon-Tweed, moving on to North Shields, Newcastle etc., and giving them an hour in the stocks in each place until they get to Land’s End. Then we can decide whether we want to throw them into the sea.

At least we have the relief at last from the delusion that has gripped this country for a decade. This “Golden Generation” have proven not to be good enough over a long period of time and it is time for younger players to be given a chance to build towards the next World Cup in Brazil. That means taking the long term view and preparing to take the hit of possibly not qualifying for Euro 2012.

I don’t buy the theory that we don’t produce good players in this country. As well as the aforementioned Dawson and Jagielka we have James Milner, Adam Johnson (another Capello overlooked, instead tearing a strip out of him for not diving), Jack Rodwell and Joe Hart offer hope. Tom Huddlestone passes the ball well and has a good shot on him and if he can enjoy an injury-free season, who knows what Michael Johnson might achieve. Our Under-17 team won the European Championships and passes the ball as well as any team to the point that you wouldn’t guess they were English! Whoever is to come through, please, let’s not over-hype them. It’s not fair on those players or the fans.

I have heard some ridiculous ideas about stopping “immigrant footballers” from coming here. Right wing nonsense and the sort of nonsense that sees our Con-Dem government stopping the people we need here; for instance, we will have a shortage of doctors doing the sort of jobs that British doctors won’t or can’t do. It’s all right wing drivel and misses the point. Our young players actually benefit from playing with good players, be they foreign or otherwise.

The vastly overrated Rooney (World Class my eye) must be dropped by whoever is in charge in August and only brought back when he shows anything like the form required. He has still not scored a World Cup goal in his career and plays the game in a snarling, joyless way. He is not fit to lace Carlos Tevez’s boots (great goal by the way), let alone Lionel Messi’s. There have been preposterous excuses made about Rooney’s lack of fitness, but that doesn’t wash as Capello said he was only going to play fit players. There is simply no excuse for the lack of effort that Rooney showed in South Africa and he should pay back every kid who was daft enough to have the name Rooney printed on the back of his shirt (well they are only kids), before joining the others in the stocks.

Capello’s future will be decided in the next few days, but don’t bank on the FA and in particular the Chairman of ridiculously titled “Club England”, Dave Richards (I am not going to call him Sir) for getting this right and making the only sensible decision, i.e. to sack the clueless Capello. Dave Richards is the man who has been involved in several businesses that went into receivership and is also the man who oversaw the ruination of Sheffield Wednesday (*) in the late 90s and their relegation out of the top flight and yet he jumped ship to the FA Premier League and got promoted and a knighthood for services to sport. Hmmm. Just prior to the World Cup, he also removed the clause from Capello’s contract that would have allowed the FA to terminate it without compensation. And we wonder why the England team and indeed our country is in such a mess. The first decision has to be to sack Capello and bring in someone who can do better (e.g. Roy Hodgson or Martin Jol). Let’s have someone who can communicate properly (no, he doesn’t have to be English, but unlike Capello, just so long as he can speak the language properly) and understand what the players are saying to him. Capello’s language skills don’t compare favourably to his compatriot Carlo Ancelotti or Roberto Mancini, and he has had more time in his job. Like our inept Football Association, Capello is simply not fit for purpose.

It’s time for honesty, realism and competence, but will we get it?

Right, we can enjoy the rest of the World Cup now…

* I never thought I’d mention a Third Division football team three times during this World Cup but I’m getting ear-ache from my Wednesday-supporting friends about the mess he left them in, and why should I suffer alone?

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


So England had a disallowed goal against Germany and the inevitable Hurst goal of ’66 comes up. A Dutch newspaper showed a youtube clip from a front on angle of Hurst’s goal and it is not at all clear if it was over the line. I clearly remember going to the Rialto Cinema in Prestwich to watch the official film of the 1966 World Cup. First time I saw football in colour I think and the view from behind the goal clearly showed a goal. Never seen this angle or the film since. For all the years the discussion crops up I always remember it was over the line. Can anyone confirm this?

Now let’s get down to business and get the new season under way.

Bob Price <bob.price(at)>


Just watched an awful England outplayed by a German side with skill, with pace, with youth, and a great deal of confidence. Blame Capello all you like about tactics, team selection etc., but the players just aren’t as good as they think they are. Gerrard looked totally p****d off, and there was an air of the inevitable: a good old-fashioned hiding. Makes City’s record good though, at least we won something in the seventies!

All this points to my theory that there aren’t just that many decent players in English football. With all the foreign players that are plying their trade in the Premier League, it has weakened the base of English players. And if they plan to have a decent side in four years’ time, something must be done starting from now!

Germany were like a breath of fresh air, should be a beauty with Argentina. Two sides that know how to play football.

Now for all the foreign signings at City, and the English players out! Sounds about right, it’s not football as we know it. And those of you that want every foreign signing we can get, think of what it is doing to English football; you can’t have your cake and eat it too!

Kevin Williamson <scribbs(at)>


I’m sure many City fans will join me in mourning the untimely passing of Frank Sidebottom or Chris Sievey to use his correct name. Frank was a one off who will be sadly missed by many. If memory serves me right he was the original Moonchester and developed that character in his own inimitable style.

He was brilliant at 2 supporter events I organised on behalf of the Swinton supporters’ branch. His sense of humour was unique. At one event he organised a quiz; my favourite question was “who is the tallest: Niall Quinn or SWP?” The rest of the questions were in the same vein.

His rendition of ‘Frank’, sang to the tune of Queen’s ‘Flash’ as a tribute to then City boss Frank Clark was simply brilliantly funny. A short while ago I saw Frank interview David Soul on Channel M. He asked David Soul to tell us about about his book he had just written. David gave an insight into his book. Frank Sidebottom’s next penetrating question was “and what colour pen did you use to write the book?”

I think Frank’s latest non-smash hit for the World Cup “Three Shirts on My Line” beautifully sums up his sense of humour.

One City fan, Ricky Moores, contacted me asking I pass on his sympathy to Frank’s (Chris’s) family. Ricky remembered almost wetting himself whilst laughing at Frank’s performance at The Folly in Swinton. I doubt many grown men almost wet themselves at other comedians doing the rounds today. Ricky has a little Frank’s head as a souvenir of that brilliant performance.

I did meet the man underneath that distinctive head. Chris Sievey was a very down to earth person, modest and someone who would have liked a bit more success but was more than happy with his lot and did not seek the fame and fortune of others. He took life as it came and lived day by day in an optimistic way. No surprise to me he passed away skint and no surprise his many friends in showbiz have rallied round to give him the send off he deserves.

Frank Sidebottom was a unique character and will be sadly missed by many, you know he will, he really will.

Alex Channon <alexchannon81(at)>

MCIVTA FAQ [v0910.01]

[1] MCIVTA Addresses

Articles (Heidi Pickup)          :
News/rumour (Alex Rowen)         :
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 by 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. You can also follow on to get the latest updates.

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

The official club web site can be found at and the official club Twitter page at The club also has a facebook page 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 #1645