Manchester City: Champions - Back to the Premiership DVD

Fremantle Media FHED 1522
117 minutes (including 16 minutes of extras)

After City's relegation in the 2000-01 season, no-one could quite forecast the last twelve months at Maine Road, as Kevin Keegan embarked on a revolution that started promisingly and ended with the first silverware for the club in 26 years - and just as happily, seeing a certain team in red not winning anything either. Through the months the fans saw some of the most breathtaking football in a long time, and this is duly reflected in the longer than normal running time of the main feature.

But first, the good news for overseas Man City fans. A quick look at the packaging and the DVD itself reveals that the DVD has actually been region coded as region 0. Now, why is this good? Well, for the none technical among you, region 0 means that it's region free and can be played on any DVD player in any region. Therefore those fans outside of Europe, provided their TV is up to the job, should in theory be able to play the DVD without too many problems. It's good to see a nice positive like this even before the DVD's been played.

Insert the DVD, and within a few seconds after the usual bogstandard copyright warning things comes the main menu. A simple to navigate and clear display with pictures of some of the City heroes in the background bodes well. From here you can play the main programme (the whole thing), start from certain chapters, view the extras or see the season breakdown and overviews.

The main programme is 101 minutes long and thankfully manages to do what not every season review has done in the past: show every single goal. All 108 League for, 52 against. All 10 in the Worthington Cup, 4 against. All 6 in the FA Cup and 2 against. Yes, they're all here. Although in the past hindered by TV rights, the makers have done a good job in getting all the footage together and seaming it nicely.

One thing the seasoned recorder of games they've been to (or ITV Digital watcher) will notice straight away in that some of the games which were live transmissions, the original commentary has been replaced by that of the narrator (and big City fan!) Alistair Mann. This is a minor blemish in effect, really they should either have replaced them all with Alistair's commentary or left the others alone as they were. Thankfully for the major games, they've kept the original (such as Clive Tyldesley and Big Ron against Watford, Motty and Mick McCarthy against Ipswich etc). This applies to the video as well though.

There's also a smattering of interviews with famous (and sort-of famous) faces as the season develops. These include Ricky Hatton, Mike Pickering of M-People, Mark and Lard, Susan Bookbinder of Radio 5, Kevin Kennedy (Curly from Corrie), Will Greenwood (rugby union player) and while they didn't get Noel and Liam Gallagher, the others do show their passion and enthusiasm well. Again, although on the video as well, the interviews are generally well chosen and timed to not disrupt the action too much.

As for the action, you really had to be there to appreciate how good it was, but there's lots of quality moments you can look back upon. The quality on the DVD is usually about as good as the original TV broadcast - and of course unlike video the quality shouldn't wane any the more you watch it. The Dolby Digital sound is 4 channel encoded rather than 5.1, a minor niggle as it still sounds crystal clear for most of the time - again, any slight quality loss is down to the broadcast. The chapter select feature is a nice touch and a compromise of sorts: while it would have been nice to jump to any of the games straight away (something to note for future City DVDs), it's better than nothing to have a straight jump to each month of the season - or the extended features on Pearce and Wright-Phillips that are interspersed during it. So for example you can watch January's six wins on the trot, or go to April to see us clinch the title.

So that's the main features dealt with - so what of the extras? First, the Kevin Keegan interview. A nice eleven minutes or so of the man talking about the season. However, some of the interview takes place during the main feature, making the interview seem a little less 'exclusive'. The stadium tour with David Bernstein is also way too short. It would have been nice to tour the ground a bit more and see the changing rooms, offices and the internals of the stadium as well as see the outside. Lastly in this section, the "Feed The Goat" feature. In a music-video style feature, you see the Goat being fed an apple (!) then sit back and relax as some fast paced music provides the backdrop to all of his 32 goals - in order. A nice little feature and it would have been nice to have something similar to recognise Huckerby's 26 goals as well.

From the main menu, you can also access some stats in the Season Breakdown, a small slideshow of League results by month, followed by the League table by month. Here you can see how the team progressed nicely on their way to the title. The scorers in each game would have been nice, though. The Season Overview gives you the other stats, such as we had equal most away wins, most away goals, and all the scorers, etc etc in a similar slideshow fashion. Perfect for the stats fand amongst us and a nice touch.

So, overall, is it worth paying the extra for the DVD or just buying the video? Well, I'd say it's worth getting the DVD, although just about. The extras, although not great, are worth a quick look and the Feed The Goat feature is well done. The slideshow type stats are a good bonus and means you have them to hand for future reference and those pub quizzes ;) Most of the niggles I have are minor ones and shouldn't spoil your enjoyment - and bear in mind it is region 0 - which is a bonus!

A pretty good first effort, not perfect, but promising. Now, what about releasing the 5-1 on DVD? I'm sure that would sell a few copies...

Warren's rating: 73%