Newsletter #163

The big news must be who we’ve drawn in the FA Cup – should we get past Coventry. Other than that we welcome back our Platt Lane Correspondent after an enforced absence. I’ve also done a book review and there’s lots of opinion as well. If anyone wants to do a Why Blue then please do as we haven’t had anything for a couple of weeks. If you’re a new subscriber and thinking of doing one but have no idea, look on the WWW where there must be about 70 or 80 by now. If anyone promised me one last year then now would be a good time to come clean!!!

Next game, Southampton away, Wednesday 31st January


The winners of the Coventry vs. City 4th round tie will face a trip to Old Trafford in the 5th Round. I recall the last time we played United in the F.A. Cup, a 3rd Round tie also at the Swamp in 1987 which we lost 1-0. I still say we were robbed by the mysterious ruling-out of Imre Varadi’s goal but now would be a great time to exact our revenge. Let’s not forget we have to beat Coventry first though.

Paul Howarth (


In response to Matt Dye, although there are many pubs close to the Dell, the one I usually go to is about 10-15 minutes’ walk away and is called the Pensioner’s Arms.

From the ground, you go along Milton Road until you reach its end (I think there’s a car park on the right). Turn right, go about 100 yards (past some shops) and there’s a side street on the left. The Pensioners Arms is down this side street, on the left. I seem to remember they have Marstons and it’s always full of both sets of fans. They do a good pint of Murphys too.

Don’t know what time I’ll be getting there as I’m dependent on the Supporters’ Club coaches but we usually get down to Southampton well over an hour before kick-off.

Paul Howarth (

Recognition problems will undoubtedly arise; can anyone wear an MCIVTA T-shirt or failing that how about a baseball hat with MCIVTA stuck across the front! This is getting to be a headache, anyone got any smart ideas for next time round?



Outgoing ‘Keeper

I was interested to read the account of Colin Gorman’s conversation with an anonymous sports correspondent (MCIVTA 162) regarding the possible reasons for TC’s exit from the Academy to the Swamp. From my own observations, based on regular visits to the training ground, it has been more than apparent that TC has been fairly consistently ignored by AB. On numerous occasions he has been training with the A team and has looked pretty fed up. When he has been with the first team squad he has, more often than not, taken part in 8-a-side games as an outfield player. He has scored several super goals past Immel. In fact he has looked so accomplished as a striker that I’d have given him a game instead of Uwe!

I have thought for a while TC ought to have been brought back as 1st team goalkeeper. As to why we sold him I think that it was entirely economics; he was one of the more highly paid players that AB wanted to get rid of. Final thought on the matter – would Alex Ferguson have bought Eike Immel instead?

‘Keeper Training

I have often watched Alex Stepney taking the goalkeeper training sessions and it makes me wonder what Joe Corrigan is doing at Liverpool. I have every sympathy with TC in that respect. It looked extremely boring with Stepney just shooting lots of balls at the ‘keeper while he practised his diving technique. The only time I have seen Immel given any coaching regarding coming out to command the 18 yard (no apologies for not being metric yet) box was when a certain inebriated gentleman (who has been banned from the training ground in the past for shouting interesting encouraging remarks at Brian Horton, and who was very nearly sat on by Vonk) got hold of him, i.e. Immel, and took him to the goalposts on the all weather pitch and with a series of Swan Lake manouvres tried to show him how to jump for incoming crosses. Eike stood there bemused but the Carling Black Label gent certainly made ‘keeper sessions interesting for once.

Team for Sale

With regard to the 14 players who are being let go at the end of the season, this seems to tie in with a rumour I heard several weeks ago that City are cutting out either the A or B team next season. I believe that one of the ones to go is Sharp.

Neale Hayward-Shott (


I noted a suggestion for the need for a new song for Gio, well how about a 70s revival, remember the song the Everton fans used to sing about Duncan Mackenzie: ‘We all agree… Duncan Mackenzie is magic’ Well it fits around Kinkladze’s name and I think it sums up the way a lot of city fans feel about the way he plays the game.

Paul Lakin (


Michael Sharp mentioned in MCIVTA 162 that he hadn’t heard a good Kinkladze song yet; the only one that springs to mind is a variation on the old Imre Varadi (Imre Banana) song…

Georgi Kinkladze,
Georgi Kinkladze,
Georgi Kinkla-adze,

Can’t place the tune but it has a definite eastern European feel to it. Not exactly lyrics that Noel Gallagher would be proud of but it’s a start.

Paul Howarth (


I know you get many replies but after this afternoon’s draw – unbelieveable The Rags away! I feel it is time, if someone can obtain the info, to assess the incredible regularity of us getting the hardest draws in Cup competitions.

Matt Groarke (


Not very happy about the idea of a cup tie against the Rags, especially at their Stretford ground. It will provide interesting viewing, and hopefully we can win it, but I blame that Beardsley bloke personally. Perhaps he thought that this was funny!

James Barton (


I think that the postponement of Saturday’s FA Cup match at Coventry works in City’s favour. According to BBC World Service, the winner of the City/Coventry confrontation faces U***ed. What more incentive does a team need? If the City XI have any heart, they will go out and dismantle CCFC.

Wishing for three derbies in one season,

Jesse McClure (


In MCIVTA 162, Alan H asked if anybody could explain why Peter Reid was not our manager and what was wrong with 5th place. Here goes:

The team that finished 5th two seasons running in the early 90’s was basically Howard Kendall’s team. Reid changed very little after taking over from Kendall at first, so it took quite a while for his influence to affect the way the team played. However, slowly but surely the team’s style changed to one which depended largely on balls being pumped up to Niall Quinn for him to lay off to other players, usually David White. Now anybody who has seen Sunderland play this season will find this difficult to believe, as the men from Roker Park play a much more attractive style under Reid. This might suggest that the blame for the long-ball style employed at City should go to the then assistant manager Sam Ellis, who was widely criticised at the time. However, it was Reid that appointed Ellis and as he said back then, “I’m the manager and the buck stops here.” It’s also my opinion that the first division was much weaker then and City’s high finishing places were as much a reflection of the poor standard of English football as they were of City’s ability.

City’s form dipped alarmingly in the second half of the 92/93 season but because of a good start to the season we only slipped down to 9th place. This run of form continued at the start of the 93/94 season where we only picked up one point from the first four games and Reid was sacked. I’d point out that this one point was achieved in the first game of the season at home to Leeds where we were totally outplayed yet came close to winning the game, a result that would have been a complete travesty of justice.

Not only did Reid preside over the fall of the first team (despite “strengthening” the defence with £5 million worth of Wimbledon defenders; good players they may well have been but we still conceded as many goals as ever), the reserve and youth teams suffered too. The reserves dropped into the second division and have still not recovered (don’t look likely to this season either) and for the first time in many years, United started to get all the best local youngsters; the effects of this are clear to see by looking at United’s first team now.

It’s clear that some people still hold Peter “Italia 90 was rubbish – there was no tackling in it” Reid dear to their hearts, but of all our managers in the last decade or so, he was the only one I was really pleased to see the back of.

Paul Howarth (


This is my first submission to mcivta and I would like to start by profusely thanking you all for your hard work in putting this together. I only hope you appreciate what it means for people like me to finally be able to discuss City issues with City fans (not too many in Singapore).

I’d like to thank Colin Gorman for his investigation work into the Coton affair. If this is true, it is my opinion that we’re being a bit unfair to Tony and a lot more of the blame should be put on AB. It sounded like TC was given no choice but to leave after being given no other option by AB & City. It looks as though City were keen to get him off their payroll and made this obvious to TC – can you imagine how this would have made him feel? Let’s face it, most of us would have thanked him for the great years he’s put in and wished him well if he’d gone anywhere other than the Swamp.

I agree with most that he’s made a bad career decision by going with the Rags, but they were probably the only ones who would match his salary, plus he wouldn’t have to relocate. After calming down after the initial shock, I looked at the problem from his standpoint and understood why he did what he did. I only hope he doesn’t come back to haunt us with a Red Dickhead on his chest.

Steve Slack (


This article in the last issue was mis-ascribed to Alan H. when it in fact should have been his brother, Akiva G.



TITLE          Football with a Smile: The Authorised Biograpy of Joe Mercer OBE.
AUTHOR         Gary James
PUBLISHER      ACL Colour Print & Polar Publishing (UK) Ltd.
ADDRESS        2 Uxbridge Road,
               Leicester LE4 7ST,
               (01533) 610800
ISBN NUMBER    0 9514862 9 2
PRICE          £15.95

This book is another from Gary James, one half of the authors of Pride of Manchester so I knew it was going to be a good book before I even opened it. The book contains 304 pages and innumerable black & white photos; the only colour plates are on the dustcover. It’s divided up into 26 chapters which cover every phase of Joe Mercer’s colourful life, from his birth in Ellesmere Port through his playing days with Everton and Arsenal and his managerial career with Sheffield Utd, Aston Villa, City, Coventry and England.

This book is really a thorough history of Joe Mercer and not a history of his City days. Many people fail to realise just what a phenomenally successful man he was, both on the field and as a manager. He was such a good player that it’s easy to justify the fact that the first 173 pages elapse before he arrives on the doorstep of Maine Road. He started his career with Everton but was robbed (probably) of his prime playing days by the war. Afterwards, he got a very bad injury which affected his performances and led to a ‘falling out’ with the Everton manager/secretary Theo Kelly. Mercer was rather oddly accused of not trying, and things came to such a pass that he asked for a transfer, was dropped by the club and retreated into his grocery business. He was sold to Arsenal who immediately recognised that his problems were due to the injury. This all took place in 1946 with Mercer aged 31 and, rather like Tony Book 20 years later, his most successful period as a player was to come in his twilight years (from a footballing viewpoint).

Mercer won the FA Cup and was voted Footballer of the Year in 1950. He played on, winning the league title aged 39 in 1953, but broke his leg shortly afterwards, an injury which finally finished him as a player. It’s probably safe to say that Arsenal fans would consider him one of their greatest ever players.

His managerial career started with a struggling Sheffield United in 1955 and despite his best efforts they were relegated. He surprised everyone at this time by turning down an approach from Arsenal, almost certainly out of loyalty, and after having read this book, I can easily see that this was a natural decision for him. Shortly afterwards, boardroom manouvering led to increasing interference in the team and Joe eventually left to manage Aston Villa. Here was another struggling team and Joe was relegated once again! His real talent as a manager however, was allowed to shine through and they were eventually promoted and won the first ever League Cup. Joe was by this time suffering under his own exacting workload and his health was seriously affected. He was hospitalised and then rather cruelly dispensed with by Villa.

Despite clear doctor’s orders to stay away from the pressures of football, Joe applied for the vacant Manchester City post. On taking up employment, he immediately signed up Allison as coach as he knew he couldn’t cope with coaching any longer. The rest of the story is history, with many anecdotes about the team and club during their most successful period. The most interesting part is the break-up of manager and coach. This is a sad episode, but after all is read, you have to say that it was inevitable. It was a partnership which worked brilliantly but it could never have lasted longer than it did. Mercer eventually left for Coventry after being edged out in a manner which many will find shameful.

After this spell, he had his ‘Indian summer’ as caretaker of England, a period which will be fondly remembered by many of us for the exciting players that he brought into the team. What might have happened if Joe had stayed longer is anybody’s guess; just one look at the team has me sighing: McDonald, Weller, Bell, McKenzie, Worthington. The latter two were possibly two of the most talented English players of the postwar period and their short England careers were effectively ended when Joe stepped down.

Joe died in rather sad circumstances, suffering from Alzheimer’s. He will however, be remembered as a great footballer, a great manager and amazingly as a great person. This book is very good and I can recommend it without reservation.



Noticing a few postings/queries about Oasis over the last few issues, for thos of you with web feet, their home page is at

If you check it out, you can also get on their mailing list – usually this will get you advance info re tours/gigs/ticket availability.

Jeremy Poynton (

Is there anyone on the list who might be able to get a message to Oasis? If there is, could they please mail me.



A request posted to the wwwfooty list… Anybody who’s interested should reply directly to Ian.

Dear Sir,

I am a researcher with a television company, Sharper Image.

We have been asked to produce a documentary on football fans across the Continent in the light of the European Championships.

To this end, I am attempting to contact footballing fans and academics alike, to see if I can gather information and input about the game in a cultural context. We aim to look at football supporters from all sixteen nations, examine their reputations, sing their songs, and relive their past triumphs. We would like to study the impact of politics, money, and police, and look to the future of football support. If you feel able to contribute to the film, and/or have other contacts who might do so from around Europe, please do not hesitate to get in touch.


Ian Sharpe,
Sharper Image
2 Arlington House, Rosslyn Road, St.Margarets, Twickenham, TW1 2AR
Tel: 0181 287 7949


Due to the appalling weather there were only a handful of games; the only game of note was the Rags who beat Reading 3-0 away.



Thanks to Paul (x2), Jeremy, Matt, Steve, Neale, James, Jesse.

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 #163