Manchester City - Good To Be Back 2002-03 Season Review DVD

Fremantle Media FHED 1654
93 mins main feature, 21mins extras

So, the final season at Maine Road has come and gone, with many ups and downs along the way. Would this be accurately reflected in the season review, and would we see an improvement on the last DVD release, "Blue Goals - And Then Some!"?

Thankfully, since that release, Fremantle Media have corrected their distribution quirks, as Play for example now carries all the City DVDs out there, including this one, meaning it was just £14-99 rather than paying £19-99 in HMV for example. This at least means City fans throughout Europe have somewhere to order their DVD easily and cheaply. The other initial good news is that like other City DVDs, it's region 0, meaning as long as your TV and DVD player can handle a PAL signal, you'll be able to watch it.

Firing up the trusty Pioneer DV-646A, the menu soon came up with a nice rocking little tune and the options from the menu for you to select, so you can play the whole thing, go to the extras or go to the season breakdown. In effect, this option is a little like the chapter select of previous City DVDs, as it lets you go straight to the month you want. As there's up to three chapters per month, this is actually quite a useful option this time around. Only, there's one small problem: the August one goes to the second game of the season and conveniently misses out the first game at Elland Road. While this is probably a good thing, it's sloppy in terms of quality control.

On to the main feature then: the opening sequence to introduce the season review is very slick and merits a lot of praise. It has footage from the season, but done with a tinge og blue haze everywhere, and also rapidly moves from clip to clip with some nice effects. Although looking like a student's edit with Adobe Premiere, it really works well and gives you the immediate push into watching the whole thing. Similarly, in the first few minutes the likes of Keegan, Goater, Jensen, Horlock and Schmiechel look back and are really enthusiastic about the direction the club is going in. As a general overview to start things off, it's actually pretty promising.

Now, the games themselves are presented very well, and the quality is of a pretty high standard - most of it coming direct from the original Sky or ITV broadcasts, particularly if the game is live. Martin Tyler and Andy Gray in the 3-1, class! (as those of you who have the Remember Remember 9th November DVD will testify) However, considering that ITV broadcast in widescreen these days, you'd think that at least some or all of the footage (as ITV have showed all of City's goals on their "The Premiership" show) could have been done widescreen, giving the fans a choice even of a 4:3 or 16:9 version? That would have been nice.

One other quirk about the games: in the most part if ITV/Sky didn't cover a game as one of their main or live ones, Alistair Mann does a decent job providing the commentary for those games. However, there's certain occasions such as Blackburn at home where there was commentary already provided (and it was even on the Blue Goals DVD!), and it makes me wonder just why they weren't used. They can't even use the excuse it was on pay per view, as other games were and they still have the original commentary intact. Shame, as Alan Parry went mental when Goater scored, yelling "Unbelievable!" as it went in. Also, the celebrity interviews are distinctly lacking this time around, instead concentating more on the players. This can be seen as a good and bad thing: good, it gets you closer to the players (and I have to say the interviews are very good), but also bad cos I'm sure some of us would have loved to seen the likes of Ricky Hatton going "Schmeichel against Liverpool - world class. And beating them for the first time in 21 years, marvellous."

As I've said though, the quality is of a very high standard and that alone makes the DVD worthwhile, as that standard is pretty much preserved throughout. Also they've realised that the big games with City doing well are the ones to feature at length, so both derby games, the away win at Liverpool and so on do have a fair amount of extended coverage, along with some of the post-match interviews (shame they couldn't have had the infamous Houllier interview with Jon Champion asking "so do you regret letting Anelka go?" and Houllier going off on one) What's also a nice touch is that at the end of the DVD, after the Southampton game, you get a look at the City of Manchester Stadium with chairman John Wardle going around the place and being really enthusiastic about it. And it is taking shape - one thing's for sure is that we can't wait to go. Indeed, the last game coverage just about right - not too much of the game, but more of the fans on the day and the memories that they have. I'm sure there'll be a lot more history and fans' memories on the End of an Era DVD this August.

So that's the main feature: but what of the extras? Well, not that much there really, but nonetheless worth a mention:

Extended Derby Highlights: Does exactly what it says on the tin. Nice to see extended coverage of the 1-1 away draw as well so you can see Berkovic running the show somewhat. Of course those of you who already have the Remember Remember 9th November DVD might feel a little indifferent about the extended coverage, as you'll already have it. A double edged sword perhaps, but probably worth having here too.

Magical Goater Moments: A look back at a few classic Goater moments including his first and last goals for City, as well as some in between which were important, such as the goals against Wigan in 1999 and Blackburn in 2000, the Burnley hat trick 2001 (complete with Goat celebrating with Moonie! etc) and the nice chant of Feed The Goat from the fans at the end just cements the whole thing nicely. However, there's a glaring error here. The "best build up" goal was against Gillingham in 2002, not 2001 as the scrolling message says here. That's sloppy and those sort of things should at least be checked before release.

Season Statistics: Does exactly what it says on the tin, again. Gives all the stats-fans the info they need at a glance, and the stats speed through quickly enough to glance at them.

Player Profiles: Rather than be separate from the main programme, you pick a player and it goes to a part of the main programme with the players' interview in it! You can pick from Schmiechel, Berkovic, Barton and Goater, but it's a bit of a con if it just uses part of the main programme as it's interview source!

Overall, it's just about worth selecting the DVD over the video, if not for the Goater moments, for the extended derby highlights that will have no doubt been the high point for many a City fan last season. If the production team for next season can iron out some of the commentary quirks and offer the fan a choice of widescreen 16:9 and fullscreen 4:3, that would also be very useful. However, it is promising and clearly with its slick presentation, good interviews and great picture quality with regards to the match coverage, it's a good effort in capturing the final season at Maine Road for Manchester City.

Warren's rating: 75%