Newsletter #101

We’ve plenty of opinion on our new manager, some negative, some positive and some of a resigned nature i.e. not my choice but let’s get behind him. I’ve also had my ‘say’ but not in the editorial! I’m once again going to England on Friday so I’m sending this edition out today in the hope that we’ll have enough response to merit another edition to go out Thursday. If you want one then let’s hear what you’ve got to say about AB, his supporters, detractors and the world in general. One thing that would help would be an article on Ball’s career, anyone care to do one summarising his playing and managerial days and his achievements?

This one reaches 308

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Whilst viewing teletext at the latest news update on the Ball appointment, it flicked onto the club call lines, as it does, and next to Man City’s clubcall and stated that Fans intend to protest? Protest at what? Does anyone know? Could it be Ball out already? Impatience is a virtue!

Tony Shaw (


At 7.25am on GMR this morning (Tuesday) it was said that Ball will sign for City in 9 days time. He has returned to Spain to finish his holiday. I suppose this in theory means that we could have waited for George Graham anyway.

I hope that this means that one of Franny’s and Ball’s (Gordon the Gopher) talking points was – who they want to sign. Arsenal now look favourite to sign Monour now.

It never rains but it pours!

Tony Farrar (


Well I’ve sat on the fence since Horton got sacked and I’ve seen all the hopefuls come and go, and then it’s announced… Alan Ball. I’m afraid I’m with Alan Lingard on this one. When BH was sacked Lee said that he wanted someone with a track record and European experience. Then we end up with Ball whose only track record is to have kept Southampton in the Premier. Brian Horton got sacked for that so what hope has Ball got? Added to the fact that we have to pay £500K for him, I’m beginning to wonder what’s happening. Personally I would prefer to have BH back! I could go on and on but I won’t ‘cos you’ll all think I’m a ranting idiot (which wouldn’t be far wrong at the moment). My prediction? I’ll give him two seasons before we’re back to square one.

Hoping to be proved wrong!

Adam Houghton (


As a Blue resident in Southampton, I am an occasional visitor to the Dell and can’t fail to be aware of local opinion of the Saints. The loss of Alan Ball is seen as a major blow especially as people are asking if City are any more likely to be in the hunt for honours. Ball turned things round at So’ton post-Branfoot and the team were holding their own in the Premiership playing attractive, passing football. The most was got out of Le Tissier and there were noticeable improvements in the skills of other players (Magilton, Kenna and even Dowie before he went to Palace). The team often seemed to be more than a sum of its parts which is something that very rarely can be said of recent City teams. Ball also made some astute purchases in Neil Heaney, Ronnie Ekelund and Neil Shipperley.

As you can tell I’m optimistic for Alan Ball at City. I think he’s far preferable to most of the other contenders. The qualities that he showed at the Dell are good coaching skills, getting total support and commitment from the players and a good rapport with the local fans. At City he should get greater spending power and more inspiration from the terraces. Now if only Ball could bring Le Tissier with him that would really show the Rags.

Kiron Chatterjee (


Pity your stay (Ashley) in England was spoiled by the board’s decision to appoint another less than successful manager. OK, OK, so he’s not actually signed on the dotted line yet and has only agreed verbally, but I’m sure he’ll fly into Manchester pretty soon to complete the formalities! The only real plus side is the fact that we’ve actually got a manager (at last) and maybe City can start building and organising themselves for the forthcoming season, at least we’ll have some sort of figurehead.

Personally, the board’s decision to appoint Ball seems very strange to me. After what they have been saying about getting an experienced manager, with European experience (however they did give it leeway by saying as either manager or player) they appoint Ball, who let’s be fair about it has done very little with the clubs he’s been associated with. Of his clubs Blackpool, Exeter, Stoke, Pompey and Southampton, not one of them has won anything under his management. In fact he’s been sacked/left three of them (Blackpool, Exeter and Stoke) and the other two always seemed to be around mid-table or if not lower (I’ll stand to be corrected if anyone has any ‘good’ info.)

The other worrying feature is once again Lee’s ‘long friendship’ with Ball; are we in fact being run by a chairman who wants to give jobs to the ‘boys’? I suppose that with the both of them interested in horses they should be able to spot a donkey and not buy him.

It just seems so frustrating, after being linked to the likes of Graham, Kidd, Rioch and Atko, we end up with Ball. I know we shouldn’t make any judgemental decisions until he’s had a fair crack at the job, but this appointment leaves me cold. Is this appointment in fact any better than Horton’s?

If he does sign up, will the £500k compensation come directly out of the transfer budget, suggested to be only around about £3M anyway? Where and how can he strengthen a team with that trifling amount?

Enough of my rantings, let’s just say I’m disappointed by the decision and leave it at that. Hopefully Ball will win us doubters over and produce a long awaited for trophy.

Martin Ford (


Well the wait’s finally over and what do we have? Not quite the who? of last time but more of a muted Why?

The longer it took for City to appoint a new manager it was obvious that Lee could not find anyone willing to come to Maine Road. Therefore the only options were for the new man to be either unemployed and desperate to get back in to management or a close friend of Lee’s. The latter has obviously been chosen and whilst it may not be a bad thing that Lee has chosen someone whom he admires and perceives as a good manager/motivator. I feel his record in management is far from convincing whilst there can be no arguments against his football philosophies.

I do not want to start passing judgement on him before he’s even stepped through the doors but why is it that we cannot ever get someone walking into Maine Road that inspires a bit of confidence? His record in lower division clubs is hardly something to be proud of (whilst he did get Portsmouth into Division 1) and he’s managed to keep a team in the Premiership (sound familiar?).

But – whatever anyone thinks, he’s our new manager – we should get behind him and hope that he can do something with existing players and possibly new ones (Le Tiss – no chance!!) to give us something to be proud of. Who knows he could find his true home at City and chants of “Alan Ball’s Blue & White army” may be heard instead of “Franny Lee’s …” please.

Five reasons to support him and ignore his not over impressive record:

  1. At least we’ve heard of him.
  2. He’s played at the top level.
  3. He’s the chairman’s choice (no excuses now FL and give him some cash).
  4. Who’s to say Brian Kidd would have been any good anyway.
  5. It’s not George Graham.

Dave Zech (


I find the news that we are to appoint Alan Ball as manager absolutely shocking. I would have thought that we would have learnt by now that appointing managers who have achieved nothing in the top flight is a recipe for disaster. The only time as a City supporter (since 1979) I have felt we were on the way to forming a successful side was when Kendall was at the helm, a manager who had won things in the top flight. I would greatly appreciate a breakdown of Ball’s managerial career to date. I remember laughing when Southampton appointed him last season, that’s them down I said to myself. And can you really put your faith in a man who sounds like he’s wearing underpants a few sizes too small?

Johnathan Robinson (


1. People who are having a go at Ball are talking balls!

Even before he hired, fired or made a bid for anyone, it seems that some people are ready to have a go at Alan Ball. “he’s done nothing!” is the cry. But it’s worth considering the following facts:

  1. Every top manager has to start somewhere.
  2. Given who else is avaliable, could a better choice have been made? Riochwanted to move down south to spend more time with his family, Kidd didn’t wantto leave OT, Royle and Atkinson turned us down. Is anyone suggesting thatFrancis or Walker could do a better job?
  3. The reaction of Southampton fans appears to be one of anger… if the soundof champaigne corks being opened by Southampton fans could be heard inManchester then it would be time to start worrying.
  4. This represents our best chance of getting Le Tissier, as he has prosperedunder Ball and may be tempted to “follow” him.

I’m not saying that Ball was my first choice but given who was around I’d say the board have done well.

2. A story about Ball.

When he was manager of Exeter, Ball’s home phone number was in the programme. Anyone who had an opinion on the team was free to phone him up. Also they never shit themselves in local derbies since Ball always stressed the importance of these games and psyched them up accordingly… unlike the current manager of Huddersfield did for us.

Dave C. Bradbury (


Apart from all the inevitable speculation concerning Le Tissier, I hear the Basile Boli wants to leave Rangers… now there’s someone who could give our team a bit of steel 😎

Dave C. Bradbury (


The first effect of hearing that AB was to be our new supremo was that it made me realise how much I wanted George Graham to be manager; this is something I say with little joy, but it is a fact.

Ball’s managerial record is not exactly fantastic, but then there are few such managers who would consider MCFC at the moment. However I think he’s done a pretty good job at Soton, they play decent football, he kept hold of Le Tissier and made him a better player, and he also bought/got on HP Ekelund(?) who looked a class player.

He should also be better at commanding the respect of players given that he has at least succeeded as a player, whereas Horton had a mediocre record as player and manager.

One problem is that Soton under Ball hardly had a reputation for an organised defence, which is the area of the team we most need sorting out (closely followed by midfield, attack and goalkeepers). He’ll have a hard job sorting out our back four, and I don’t know if he’s the man for the job.

We have to accept that a team which just avoided relegation for the last 2 seasons, and which doesn’t seem to have wads of cash, is not going to be picking the best managers. I would have preferred Graham, but I’d rather have Ball than Horton.

Dan Rigby (


I must confess to being a little taken aback by the reception which has greeted Ball’s arrival. I can understand people’s frustration at what they see as the failure to secure a big name manager but I do have to wonder whether they’ve really considered the situation. Most us have been brought up City fans and can remember either a successful team or at least a club which was capable of making record signings. Alas, after almost 20 years without a pot and an utterly astounding level of mismanagement (financially) those days are over, at least for the moment. Anyone who thinks this club is in a position to compete with the other top names has a serious reality-perception problem. We have to face the fact that the stars of the managerial firmament are not going to be attracted to a club which has slipped to the back of the footballing public’s mind and certainly not one where they will be seriously handicapped in their ability to buy quality players. Frannie is a self made man and proven businessman. The only way to get this club back to the top is to rebuild it from within and that’s what he’s doing. As I mentioned in the last issue, a small profit is to be announced which is excellent considering the burden of debt with which he was left and the previous losses. When we can make a big profit, then we can attract established managers, ’til then we have to gamble that Ball can prove himself with a big club; we have to give him that chance.

I am at least greatly encouraged by Kiron’s letter (above) as he has seen Ball’s effect at Southampton and is therefore, in a much better position to assess this appointment. If he can get this team to consistently perform to the level we know they all can then he’ll already be way ahead of BH who only managed it three times last season. I welcome Ball who is far from the nobody some would suggest. As for Graham, well, he is a big name but would he have fitted in at the Academy? His style of play is somewhat removed from the Maine Road tradition and for me, by far the most crucial is that he would have been arriving at City by default, a far from reassuring situation.

So, let’s get behing AB, pull together and let him manage the team for his full three years.



Well, I suppose it happened when I was about 8 years old. It was during the 1980’s that I developed a fear of football matches, because of the big crowds and the problem at that time of crowd violence. Anyway, one day me dad asked me if I wanted to go and see Man City (he being a long term follower since the 1960’s) against Luton Town, a match that would decide City’s future in the top flight. I agreed with much reluctance and off we went.

The match itself is memorable for the fact that I remember the bloke sitting behind me (in the Main Stand) was dropping fag ash onto the back of my seat and the fact that City spent most of the match trying to score. However they failed, Raddy Antic scored and I left depressed, unfortunately missing Davis Pleat’s dancing and the violence which followed. This obviously didn’t endear City to me and so I drifted and began to follow Liverpool’s glorious eighties run, but with one eye always on City’s progress in Division 2. However once Dalglish (boyhood hero) had lifted the double in 1986 I began to wane and my interest turned back to Manchester City.

I think it was the 10-1 beating of Huddersfield which aroused my interest as I quickly set the video to record the highlights (something I still have on Betamax tape). Then followed a long series of scouring the papers for information and results on the Blues (a timeless task even today!). I began to question why Stewart and Simpson were sold, and why Machin was sacked just as the team was beginning its upturn in form. However it wasn’t until City beat Coventry 2-1 (I think or it could have been 2-0) that I again started regular attendances at Maine Road. I’ve been through pain and anguish, seen City throw away matches, had matches abandoned that they were winning and seen them humiliated by the Rags. However, the worst experience came with my first visit to the Kippax Stand for the infamous Cup game against Spurs. The reactions on and off the pitch have been well documented, City’s appalling play coupled with the mindless actions of many City fans (sic?). My father said he wouldn’t go again and so I was forced to go to Maine Road on my own, until I eventually pursuaded him to go and see City vs. Norwich in the season just gone, but it would never be the same again.

I’m now indebted to City for providing me with many trophy free years, I cannot be called a glory hunter or a sheep for following the crowd, but I’d like to think that I was there at the start when it all began to happen (i.e. Swales’ last game in charge and the rise of Franny Lee’s new era)

Jim Walsh (


Thanks to Jim, Adam, Kiron, Martin, David (x2), Johnathan, Tony (x2) & Dan.

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.

Ashley Birch,

Newsletter #101