Newsletter #192

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Not surprisingly, this issue is packed with opinion, but we also have a Why Blue and plenty of other news, including the fixtures for this summer’s friendlies. There’s also news of the players (at least some of them) who’ll be released by the club. One very worrying delevopment is highlighted by a Times article which suggests that Lee may be voted down over keeping Ball by the major shareholders: Greenall’s and Stephen Boler. Should this come to pass, the consequences would be grim indeed; Lee would almost certainly resign which would be nothing short of disastrous IMHO. Let’s hope it’s speculation.


NEWS – WREXHAM RESULT

A clearly dispirited City side travelled to the Racecourse ground on Tuesday night and were promptly thrashed 6-1 by a Wrexham XI including Spurs’ Chris Armstrong, who scored a hat-trick. City’s lone reply came from Buster Phillips. We can’t even claim it was a severely under-strength side as apart from Gio Kinkladze and Uwe Rösler who didn’t play, it was the first team.

Tonight’s (Wednesday) MUEN speculates that Uwe Rösler, Niall Quinn and Keith Curle are likely to be leaving Maine Road soon, though no specific deals were mentioned. AB clearly plans a major shake-up in the squad in the summer; let’s hope the new faces arrive well before the start of the season this time!

The Mole

NEWS – PLAYER OF THE YEAR

There was a shock result (not!) in the Supporters’ Club Player of the Year awards, held at the MCFC Social Club on Monday evening. Gio Kinkladze took the main award and Michael Brown the Young Player of the Year award.

The Mole

NEWS – MANAGER OF THE YEAR

Not surprisingly, it wasn’t Alan Ball who was selected as Manager of the Year recently. The honour went to Peter Reid in recognition of his achievements at Sunderland. Had Peter Swales lived long enough to see that, the shock could have finished him off!

Howard Kendall took Sheffield United from being in free-fall into Div. 2 to the edge of the promotion play-offs in little more than half a season.

Brian Horton nearly took Huddersfield into the play-offs in their first year in Div. 1. All my relatives from that part of the world think he’s wonderful!

Are these people in any way related to their namesakes who have performed so ingloriously at Maine Road recently?

Also, Steve McMahon achieved notable success at Swindon in his first full season in charge.

Roger Haigh (r.haigh@man1204.wins.icl.co.uk)

NEWS – KINKY ONE OF EUROPE’S TOP MIDFIELDERS

Through the gloom a chink of light appears:

I’ve just been handed by a colleague here at the BBC, who has the misfortune of being a Blue working on a George Best documentary, a copy of an item in World Soccer about the European Team of the Month for February.

All the usual ones you would expect are here – your Maldini’s, Weah’s and Möller’s but who’s that in the midfield? Why it’s Fitzroy Simpson. No, ‘course not. It’s Giorgiou Kinkladze, officially one of Europe’s top four midfielders. And it was voted on by European journalists, not the staff of CITY magazine and Paul Hince.

Wot no Nicky Butt?

You see, that’s just indicative of the way that the media are opposed to Manchester United… Blah Blah Blah… no-one likes us… Blah Blah Blah.

I never thought I’d find myself saying this but

“LI-VER-POOL
LI-VER-POOL”

Stay Blue – Mark Helsby (Mark.Helsby@bbc.co.uk)

NEWS – PLAYERS RELEASED

The following young players have today been released by City:

Dave Gardner, David Nurse, Joe Harkin, Steve Brennan, John Sharpe, Gareth Evans, Ray Kelly and Ian Smith.

In addition, four more unnamed (so far) young players are supposed to be available (or have already gone) on small transfers.

Of the senior staff, GMR reported that Andy Dibble, Alan Kernaghan, Peter Beagrie and Gerry Creaney would be leaving soon but that may just be idle speculation.

Pre-season training will start on 15th July.

Keith Curle represented the players at Peter Swales’ funeral today.

The Mole

RUMOUR – SYMONS

This morning’s Guardian (Thrusday May 9th) reports that Jim Smith is making an offer for Kit Symons, c. £2m, and for Andy Awford to reunite his old centre back partnership from Portsmouth. The Guardian says that Symons does not want to return to Endsleigh League football.

I hope this is just a rumour :-((

Jeremy Poynton (jp@deadhead.geac.co.uk)

OFFICIAL CITY NEWS

CITY vs. LIVERPOOL PROGRAMMES

Arriving at the ground shortly before kick-off on Sunday, I found that the programmes had sold out in the Kippax. So, on Monday I ventured into town to try to get one from the City store in the Arndale Centre as I’ve seen programmes on sale there before. Unfortunately there were none to be had. The guy at the store told me that they weren’t actually “allowed” to sell them and they just got a few left-over copies from certain matches. This begs two questions:

  1. Why aren’t they “allowed” to sell programmes?
  2. Since none of the City stores sell programmes any more, who in the clubshould we contact in order to get editions we’ve missed out on? I findprogrammes to be an invaluable source of reference material, so it’sparticularly galling to miss out on the one for the last home game of theseason, which is generally the most useful in this respect.

Paul Howarth

It seems that the chap in the City store is mistaken about not being allowed to sell programmes, it’s just that the store didn’t have any. There are two reasons for this:

  1. On the day of the match the programmes had sold out all over the ground.
  2. The distribution of match day programmes used to be controlled by EddiePhilips, the guy who ran the old souvenir shop. Unfortunately, the supply ofmatch magazines to the stores is something that has (so far) been overlooked.However, all is not lost. It is evidently the policy of the club to send anumber of programmes to the opposition of the day for sale via theiroutlets. Any not sold there are returned (on request I think). So, if youmissed out on Sunday you must write to the Publications Dept. at the clubwith a cheque for £2.00 and they will send you the programme, subject toavailability of course.

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CLOSED SEASON FIXTURES

With the season now at an end, I again enquired about the closed season fixtures. Were the Blues to play in Chorley? No. So here is a list of where and when.

Friday 19 July          Athlone FC  (Eire)
Sunday 21 July          Cork City FC
Saturday 27 July        Tienjin FC  (ROC)
Tuesday 30 July         Dailian FC  (ROC)
Friday 2 August         Sechuan FC  (ROC)
Thursday 8 August       Exeter (at Exeter)
Saturday 10 August      Plymouth (at Plymouth)

So, off to China they go. But just who would be going? When I asked for information about who’s for sale and who’s not, there were no announcements to be made. I’m sure all will become clear before long.

Steve (sbolton@buxtonrd.u-net.com)

PLAYER OF THE MONTH POLL

If you haven’t already, could you please send in votes for the last Player of the Month poll which is covering all the games in April plus the Liverpool game.

A quick recap: City’s score first :-

Man Utd     (Home) 2-3 (Kavelashvili, Rösler)
Wimbledon   (Away) 0-3
Sheff. Weds (Home) 1-0 (Rösler)
A. Villa    (Away) 1-0 (Lomas)
Liverpool   (Home) 2-2 (Rösler, Symons)

Please send in votes for May 12th.

Paul mentioned an end of season survey/poll. Maybe we could each give our thoughts along similar lines. Here is my opinion (different categories welcome):

Best Visiting Team at Maine Road: Chelsea.
Best Visiting Players: Ruud Gullit, Eddie Newton (Chelsea). David Ginola (Newcastle).
Best Away Fans: Southampton.
Memorable Moments on the Pitch: Everything Gio did. Our 1st win of the season vs. Bolton.
Memorable Moments off the Pitch: Man walking down Maine Road after Southampton game kissing his Kinky poster and asking others to do likewise. Man at Elland Road singing first City version of Wonderwall at top of his voice on his own. Alan Ball is a Football Genius chant whilst 6-0 down at Liverpool.
Best Game At Maine Road: Aston Villa, Newcastle.
Worst Visiting Team: Blackburn, Wimbledon, Middlesbrough.
Most Disappointing Visiting Player: Eric Cantona.
Most Promising City Player: Michael Brown.
1st annual Where the hell is he award: Giuseppi Mazzerelli.
Most obscure substitution: Phillips for Quinn vs. Liverpool.
Match that cost us our Premiership place: Wimbledon away.

Ken Foster (kf737@vossnet.co.uk)

OPINION – POST SUNDAY ANALYSIS

So, it has happened. Pat reminded me of the comment that the headmaster in “Clockwise”, played by John Cleese … “It’s not the desperation that I mind, it’s the hope.” This was certainly the case when we pulled it back to 2-2; at half time I had philosophically abandoned all hope; this reinforced by us giving them firstly an own goal, and secondly, a deflection from Rush, who always scores against us – maybe Roy Evans thought he would do us a favour by resting Stan the Man. Fair play to Neil Ruddock tho’ he did his damnedest to help us stay up – we just were not good enough to make the best of his help.

So what are the ins and outs of it. I will suspend judgement on AB until the end of next season; however, I am not convinced by him – witness Niall’s remarks some 6 months into the season that they were only just starting to get what he was on about in training (and if it took Niall 6 months, then I imagine the rest of them are still in a fog about it), – witness the fact that there has all season been a distinct absence of ‘footballing’ communication between defence, midfield and forward line, – witness the fact that we rarely looked like a team – unlike Southampton and Coventry, who, whilst being as crap as us, did sometimes manage to give a vague impression of being a team.

I hope to God we do keep Kinky; the Independent Sports supplement on Monday morning had him on the cover, quite clearly wiping away the tears; I guess we just have to hope that the whole insane Man City bug has got to him too … maybe we could be grossly sentimental, and send a ‘Please stay’ message to him, will all the MCIVTA subscribers’ Email addresses at the end. I am convinced, having had a good serving of Div. 1 football over the past few years that if we keep the cream and the committed, we will go straight back up, and may well benefit à la Forest by having a year out of the limelight.

And who are the cream? Well, Kinky of course, and Michael Brown in midfield, Steve Lomas – not quite cream yet but quite clearly fully committed – I hope folks got to see his deranged post match interview on MotD after the Villa game – it made Brian Horton appear stable. Kit Symons has been a revelation but I can’t say much for the rest of the defence – roll on Foster’s recovery. I hope Buster gets a good run, he needs to see more of the action (if you are good enough, you are old enough, as the saying goes). But …

Eike – like him, great shot stopper but not all round a great goalie.
Curle – overpaid and bored? Surely he will move on, and even if he does stay, I would junk him on return to the Premiership.
Frontzeck – basically s**t?
Edghill – needs time – me, I’m not yet convinced that he is class tho’
Baby Buzza – not really a very good footballer, and not a defender; maybe worth holding on to help us back up, and then give him a fixed wide right midfield rôle.
Clough – well, what do you regulars reckon? I was pleased when we bought him and impressed by early performance but have got a definite feeling of loss of interest from him of late – he seems to disappear from games for long spells – but it’s hard to judge from MotD and radio broadcasts.
Uwe – what to do? Clearly loves the club but has had an awful season. Could wreak havoc in Div. 1.
Niall – always had a soft spot for him too, and he could also wreak havoc in Div. 1; guess he would fade from the team on return to the Prem, but I would love the club to find a long term rôle for him, such a great servant of the club.
Kave – judgement reserved – let’s hope he turns out to be what he is cracked up to be.

For me – bottom line is that we must get a decent defence together and then we have to wait on AB to show us thet he does know what he is up to.

A few good things about being in Div. 1

  1. A chance to win something again, or …
  2. A chance to go to Wemberley for the play-offs
  3. A chance to visit Europe in the Anglo-Italian Cup (or maybe not)
  4. No double drubbings from the Rags next season
  5. 6 less guaranteed points for the Rags next season.
  6. Maybe still a few terraces to stand on
  7. South Western exiles can get to Swindon, Oxford, Reading and WBA within 90 minutes.
  8. Millwall got relegated, so you don’t have to visit the New Den.
  9. The refs are no worse than in the Premiership, and in some cases better.

Yours (genetically Blue), Jeremy Poynton (jp@deadhead.geac.co.uk)

OPINION – NEXT SEASON

I read the news today oh boy

If you want to know the importance of this mailing list… wait until next year. Those of us stuck in areas where the Endsleigh League is never on TV will be very dependent on this list for information, opinions etc.

I have very little to say really. I think this is the fifth relegation in my life (was there one at the end of the 40s? — I was only two!!) and there is always a great deal of sadness associated with what happens as well as a lot of what ifs.. if they had scored one more goal, if they had drawn this or that particular game.

Very dazed, but not surprised. If you ask for my gut reaction I would say that I don’t think Ball has it. He was not asked to win the League this year but to keep City in the Premier League and he has not managed it. And other than a spell before Xmas he never looked like managing it. Either he didn’t realise just how poor a lot of his players are or he did and there was little he could do about it over the course of the season.

I just don’t see him galvanizing this team next year, when it will be difficult to attract new players and difficult to keep some of the old ones (I know what is being said about Rösler but isn’t he our top goalscorer this year?). Having said that, who on earth would come to Maine Road to be a manager?

What would I like to see: well I’d love to see City come bouncing back, scoring lots of goals and playing good football — not coming back via the play-offs. I’d like to see Kinky stay and some younger players brought in (I presume we have Foster and Edghill back) — if Brown is used as a good example of young players. If this happens I can see City drawing high 20,000s for home games, maybe even higher. And if Ball does this I expect to be reminded of my comments so I can apologize to one and all.

Lee will continue putting the financial side right but it is the playing side which now must be of concern. I do think the whole club has been on a knife edge for too long… between becoming one of the big clubs or becoming a Wolves or a WBA or a Southampton. Next time City come back up they have to come back strong enough to challenge in the Premier not to just survive. This will be a huge task in a climate where the rich are getting richer. I don’t know about Oasis sponsoring City — what we need is the Beatles and Elvis combined.

Don’t forget us exiled blues — we’ll need you to keep us up to date. I will be over next February… where the hell is Southend’s ground?

I’m getting too old for this kind of stuff.

John Pearson, Stanford, California, USA (pearsonj@leland.Stanford.EDU)

OPINION – BALL SHOULD STAY

I for one want Alan Ball to stay. He should be given at least another season to show us what he can do. City’s biggest problem over recent years is that no manager has ever had time enough to build his own team, with the result that City have had lots of great players but no really great teams. And how many managers can you think of who have acheived instant success after just one season?

Dan Nunn, Exeter Uni (D.J.Nunn@exeter.ac.uk)

OPINION – GOOD THINGS

Right, it’s happened. The optimistic streak in me always prayed that we could pull off a miracle on Sunday (and to be fair we almost did). But the thing that we dreaded has happened, first division football here we come. But being the eternal optimist I have tried to look on the bright side and here are ten good (well at least consolatory) things I can think of that make our departure from the Premier a little less hard to handle:

  1. We get three extra home games on our season tickets.
  2. We don’t have to sit through a match agaisnt Coventry.
  3. We will get to stand at some of the away matches.
  4. No more sarkey comments from Alan Hanson.
  5. We can watch Saint and Greavsie.
  6. We may have a chance of getting to Wembley (via the play offs).
  7. We may even finally win some silverware.
  8. We have the best stadium in the first division
  9. umm..
  10. Who wants to support a successful team anyway? At least we can not be accused of being glory supporters.

Oh well, I look forward to a year of success that will see us back where we belong this time in ’97

Yours optimistically Blue, Stewart Lucas (MSRBUSL@fs1.ec.man.ac.uk)

OPINION – STATESIDE

Maybe my optimism comes from the ignorance of living in the States and having never seen City play in real life, but even through all that… I wouldn’t want to be anything more than Blue. I must admit that my experiences with following City are but pubescent in comparison to the many subscribers here but one thing remains true among all of us here and that is passion. Having read the many articles by all of you, the truest fans, I can only stand almost alone here in the States. The cameraderie I have seen among everyone is admirable. It’s all there in front of every City supporter’s eyes. Never let that slip from your hard working hands. These are the things I see. A romanticized view point I know, but that’s what sets apart City fans from the rest, right? In regards to next season, well as I said before, my ignorance of footy prevents me from fully understanding where exactly City is now. 1st division is it? Please enlighten personally.

Rene’ Gonzalez, forever Blue (ibon500@cord.iupui.edu)

It is indeed the 1st division which used to be the 2nd division before rampant commercialism and self-interest made the old 1st division the Premier!

Ashley

OPINION – MAN CITY & DIVISION 1

Well the first thing a Newcastle fan said to me on Monday morning was “Grimsby is a nice place to visit!” Maybe he was trying to come to terms with bottling a 12 point lead to the Rags!!!! I must admit I was surprised by the lack of anger and frustration vented by City fans as a result of us going down. I must admit myself that I was convinced by the Lee and Ball act when AB arrived in the summer, and I was even willing to think that we might have stayed up this season. No, I don’t feel betrayed just concerned for the future.

How can we even contemplate keeping hold of half the players at the club? Kinkladze is bound to go despite what Franny says, as for Rösler it’s all a case of if AB stays then bye bye Uwe. Would Symons want to play once again in the Endsleigh League? What about ex-England internationals Curle and Clough? Surely someone in the Premier Division has the money to tempt them away? It looks like we’ll be looking to the youth team again for our new title challenging team. Brown has already proved to be a more than adequate replacement for Flitcroft, whilst Lomas will go from strength to strength, as will Foster, Edghill and Phillips. We need to buy a decent striker, unless Division 1 football is more suitable for Creaney. Defence wise we might as well give Kernaghan a chance (well no-one’s going to pay half of what we bought him for!).

The worst scenario is us not going up next season as it will become increasingly harder to keep players at the club. Look what happened when we failed in the past, players like Paul Stewart and Paul Simpson (a player now who will fulfil his potential in the Premier League)… I’m glad no-one seems to be questioning the manager as it means questioning the chairman’s ability to select the right man for the job (harks back to the Swales’ era… no matter how much we must respect the dead, Swales wasn’t really much of a good judge of character was he?). Remember if Lee gets the slightest criticism he’ll take his ball and go home! Now I don’t want that to happen but just the slightest push and we might well lose the best chance of going anywhere (let alone being capable of beating the best).

We should not delude ourselves of the challenge ahead; if anything Ball is being very optomistic with his 3 year plan (or is it 4?). We are many miles away from reaching the peaks scaled by Man U, Newcastle, Liverpool etc… it was 1989 the last time we beat the Rags; Liverpool had already beaten us 6-0 in the league before they faced us with nothing to play for, and the Newcastle game (3-3) simply points to the reason why they threw a 12 point lead away!

Get behind the team and support whoever wears the blue shirt, let’s have less of this singling out of players for criticism (Summerbee etc.) as it does the player’s confidence no good and isn’t really the best way to support your team (remember the pleas put out on boards by Horton? That’s how low fans’ support for a club can go).

Let’s not fulfil Noel Gallagher’s ambition to buy the club (in case you didn’t know he said he’d buy the club if they were relegated to Division 3) and let’s see that silverware back on the sideboard, even if it is only the Division 1 championship!

Jim Walsh (pldjrw@cent1.lancs.ac.uk)

OPINION – WORSE RELEGATION YEAR?

Well… this is the third time in 14 years that we have been relegated and although I find it difficult to judge, as I only see the Sky’s eye view, it is probably the most deserving bunch for the drop of those three seasons.

I think the blame has to lie with Ball. The start of the season was disastrous but this was turned round, on the basis (so it seems to me), of solid defence and hard work. He then mid-way through the season chucks this approach away and starts playing cavalier football, and we wind up back in the mire again.

It strikes me that if he had persisted with the approach of November, with solid defence, rather than chopping and changing, we probably would still be in the Premier League; with a full closed season he could have worked on developing a more attacking approach on the solid foundation of a decent defence.

Sack him Franny…

Fraser Davidson (fraser.a.davidson@ardus.sprint.com)

OPINION – LIFE GOES ON…

Well, what can I say? The inevitable has happened: after managing to stave it off for the last few years, we’ve finally been relegated. It was a weird feeling on Sunday – everyone waiting after the game in silent anticipation for the other results to be confirmed, hoping against hope that the rumours that Soton were losing were true (just who starts these things? Why?). It was a bit surreal when our fate was confirmed – like it wasn’t really happening. There were grown men crying all around me. I managed to control myself – I think it was the pre-match drinking session that did it, my nerves had been considerably calmed by large quantities of strong lager.

So what’s in store next? I, for one, do not think sacking Alan Ball is the answer; give him more time. He should certainly look at the way he handles and motivates the players and have a clear-out at the club: Dibble (please! just get rid of him!), Kernaghan (sorry, Penny), Frontzeck, Curle, Beagrie … herr Rösler will no doubt be on his merry way too. Rumours have, predictably, already started about all the teams who want Kinkladze. I also heard that Kit Symons had a clause written into his contract allowing him to leave if we went down! What a bloody cheek! He only came from Portsmouth!! Is this true? Does anybody know? Is it just the Reds winding me up? I just hope we can hang on to most of the players. I have my doubts about Clough too – will he stay in Div. 1? Then again, the way he played on Sunday he should be thankful anyone will let him play. Methinks he was trying too hard. He should have had a few beers too!

The problem now is trying to keep sane and non-violent when confronted with the army of morons parading round in their hateful Sharp tops. I hope to God they don’t do the double again, things are bad enough as it is at the moment without having to put up with yet more crappy Red souvenirs. They were even selling United gingerbread men and cakes in Greggs the other day. For God’s sake!!!!

Anyway, I’m sure most City fans will be back next season to watch our team really try to pull things back. And who knows? Grimsby might not be such a bad place after all!

Stay blue, one and all. Christine (Christine.Haynes@man.ac.uk)

OPINION – WALLACE ARTICLE

At work today (Tuesday) I was handed that lamentable organ of Rag propaganda the ‘Daily Mirror’. As I’m always rattling on about the ‘Mirror’ turning into the British version of ‘Gazzetta della Sportiva’ I thought it was merely an attempt to wind me up by showing me an eighteen page wrap-a-round on Cantona’s new bathroom. However, it was pointed out to me that there was actually an article on Man City and no, not about a fracas in a bar or drug taking or hotel wrecking, or even a 5 line retraction of any of the aforementioned. It was an article on City going down and told us eaxctly what all us City fans think of Ball and Lee, or at least what Dave Wallace of KotK thinks of them!

After reading it, I came to two conclusions, either the Mirror made it up or Dave Wallace is not of sound mind. I hope it’s the former. If not, then just what is he doing talking to Mirror journalists whose track record as far as the Blues go is utterly abysmal? All they want to do is make us look as bad as possible. The last thing we want to see immediately after relegation is a high profile attack on the chairman and manager in a national daily newspaper by someone who purports to represent all City fans.

Any opinions on this one or am I a little too touchy?

Ashley

OPINION – ALAN BALL’S A FOOTBALL GENIUS?

Well, the unthinkable has happened and we can look forward to visiting lots of exciting new venues next season.

Alan Ball points to the bad start to the season as the (only) reason City went down. After a record setting run of defeats City had 2 points from 33, but only a few weeks later, with wins against Bolton, Wimbledon, Villa and Leeds, City were out of the bottom three and looking as if they would soon move to mid-table security. Ball has said nothing about the second half of the season when the team has allowed itself to be overtaken.

Looking at last Sunday’s match: I would have expected more physical commitment in the early stages of the game. Lomas’s tackle at the start of the second half for which he was deservedly booked was forty five minutes late. Liverpool weren’t really interested at any time of the match, with one eye firmly on Wembley. I suspect they would have been even less interested in a clogging match from the first whistle.

The Daily Telegraph reports: “Quite how they could have displayed such a lack of passion, commitment even, for two thirds of the most important match that they have played this season is unfathomable. To do it against a side that was so clearly not interested in winning was even more appalling.” David Maddock then goes on to question Ball’s tactical abilities, in particular the substitution of Quinn by Phillips when Clough was having such a poor game.

The referee’s refusal of a first half penalty was totally incorrect as TV showed. There can be no excuse for the linesman who was stood in line with play just in front of where we sat. It’s time that linesmen helped the referee to make the correct decision, rather that backing the referee who has made a wrong decision. We see it all too often that the linesman will wait for the referee to award a throw-in before committing himself to pointing the flag; penalties are a bit more important than that and if linesmen are to become “Referees’ Assistants” as FIFA wish they will have to show a bit more moral fibre than they do now.

City had their chances on Saturday and a win would have saved us. At the end of the day we went down because we were either:

  • one point short
  • scored eight goals too few
  • conceded eight goals too many

Refereeing decisions cost points early on against Arsenal (the free kick against Quinn which lead to Arsenal’s injury time goal) and against Boro (the offside goal). There are probably others including last Sunday.

There were cock ups which presented points to opponents. A reminder of this was the BBC goal of the month competition on Saturday night when Summerbee and Clough conspired to set up Giggs for the Rags’ winner. The most disturbing aspect of that was that neither player seemed to care – neither made any discernable effort to retrieve the situation.

Goals against were swelled by appalling lapses of pride at Liverpool, Middlesbro’, West Ham and Wimbledon. Southampton and Coventry both scrapped it out with the Dons for one and three points respectively in the last couple of matches.

Baffling offensive tactics cost opportunity to score goals in many games. The Blackburn match was a typical example; City played one of the few teams with an away record as bad as their own. Playing with one striker does not seem the obvious game plan in such circumstances. Once Shearer scored in that match City created enough chances to win comfortably – but only managed to convert one to gain a draw. Similar effort in the first fifteen minutes rather than the last fifteen might have put the game beyond Blackburn.

The unwillingness to take the game to the opposition has been notable this year. The first half against the Rags at Maine Road was woeful. What about the West Ham game? With a sixteen year old dwarf goalkeeper making his Premiership début what are the tactics to adopt? Hands up anyone who thinks of playing two wingers and playing plenty of far post crosses to Niall Quinn. It wasn’t the plan our ginger haired mastermind adopted. Although City won a few extra goals might have turned out to be useful. Another match which could have altered things was the Coventry match at Maine Road. One up and trying to sit on it eventually proved to be the wrong plan when Dublin equalised. That one result could be seen as decisive at the end of the season.

AB’s credentials don’t look too good either when we consider his transfer dealings. I don’t think Ball can be given any credit for signing Kinkladze, Symons has been a wonderful signing, Immel was an adequate stand in for TC but not a replacement, Frontzeck has been a disaster, while Phillips and Hiley both look useful acquisitions. The jury’s still out on Nigel Clough (appalling on Sunday). However, Ball’s crowning glory on the transfer market was the purchase of Gerry Creaney for Paul Walsh plus a lot of money. What an absolute triumph!

The sale of Flitcroft was peculiar in its timing, but as Flipper was one booking off suspension for the rest of the season (which he managed in a most spectacular manner on his début for Blackburn) he probably would not have played many games anyway. Ball obviously thought he had the personnel to take over the midfield rôle.

Also strange was the departure of Terry Phelan, who seemed to lose 50% of his value over the weekend prior to his departure. This is particularly ironic as his value rose from £1.5 to £2.5 million during the weekend before we signed him!

I read that Alan Ball views players as being in two distinct groups – there are those he has signed/developed and those he hasn’t. He has obviously had difficulties this season with Rösler and Quinn. As both are intelligent and articulate it speaks volumes for Ball’s lack of man-management skills that both have been so obvious in their feeling about their manager. The fact that TC did a Judas and joined the Rags also is eloquent testimony.

What of the future? It looks as if Rösler and Gio will be on their way despite assurances from the Chairman. Here, we have to accept the realities of the club’s financial position and also take into account any escape clauses in contracts. I think the writing’s on the wall for Niall Quinn (unfortunately), Gerry Creaney and Alan Kernaghan. Keith Curle’s departure will trim the wage bill significantly.

I would like to see City sign a ‘keeper capable of taking over from Immel next season, preferably one who doesn’t play as if his feet are nailed to the goal line. The ability to speak English would be considered advantageous. A replacement for Curle is a necessity – an old style big bonehead centre half who can win the ball in the air is required. The biggest need is someone to play just in front of the back four, a young Steve McMahon would be ideal. There must be players around the lower divisions who will develop into potential Premiership material.

I’d like to see this team start next season:

                         Immel
Foster      Symons            ??????      Hiley
      Lomas             ??????         Brown
           Kavalashvili         Kinkladze
                      Rösler

Subs: from Clough, Brightwell, Summerbee, Edghill, Phillips etc.

Apologists for Alan Ball will point to events at the Swamp in the early stages of Taggart’s reign. The taciturn one was a match away from the sack before that lucky win at Nottm Forest in the Cup. We all know what happened from then on.

The difference between that situation and the one at Maine Road is that Taggart was a proven winner at Aberdeen, whereas Ball has now taken five clubs to relegation. Strangely enough none of those clubs have allowed him the opportunity to repeat the performance. We should not be the first.

The Times today (Tuesday) reports that Ball’s personal links with Francis Lee may not be enough to keep his job. Stephen Boler and Greenall’s own 44% of the shares at plc level while Lee has 13%. Questions are being asked at that level and Lee might be backing a loser here. A boardroom split is the nightmare scenario. I cannot see Francis Lee hanging around if he is overruled about the manager, especially after all the supportive noises. Neither can I see Ball doing the honourable thing and resigning.

I have seen City teams relegated in 1963, 1983 and 1987. The Club is in better shape overall than in any of those years. City have never spent more than 3 seasons together in the old Division 2, and I don’t see any reason why it should be any different this time.

Roger Haigh (r.haigh@man1204.wins.icl.co.uk)

OPINION – WHO’LL LEAVE

My opinion on who goes. Kinkladze definitely. Put yourself in his boots. Now choose between the Endsleigh league and the likes of Inter Milan. Didn’t take long to decide did it? Also Curle, Beagrie, Kernaghan, Dibble, Frontzeck and Creaney. I hope Quinn stays. Symons to be captain. Rösler will go. Plus I believe both Ball and Lee. Only an opinion. Keep the faith.

I’ve heard that it’s 3 down, one up next year as the Premier is reducing to 16 clubs. Does anyone know if this is true?

John Shearer (SHEAREJH@hpohp2.wgw.bt.co.uk)

OPINION – TIME WASTING

My opinion on the time wasting incident when City and Liverpool were 2 apiece: Ball heard that Southampton were losing so instructed the players to play for time. Ball has since admitted he got it wrong. The press reckon that relegation costs a club £4 million. Why not have had a person at each of the 3 other grounds equipped with a mobile phone? Total cost: £300? Sounds a serious fundamental error to me. If I’d made such an error at work I’d consider myself very lucky to be given time to clear my desk.

John Shearer (SHEAREJH@hpohp2.wgw.bt.co.uk)

OPINION – ALAN BALL

So, City are finally relegated. Should Ball go? Here’s my two penneth.

Despite what FL says, I think Ball should and will go. Ball obviously lacks in two crucial areas. First, his record in the transfer market is mixed, to say the least. Good buys have been Symons (an unqualified success) and Phillips (one for the future). Bad buys have been Frontzeck and Creaney – neither of whom is was good enough for football in the Premiership. Good sells? The Flitcroft deal with hindsight seems a little hasty, Coton going to the Swamp for a snip was a real kick in the teeth, and selling Walsh for Creaney was just awful. The jury is still out on other purchases (Clough, Kavelashvelli), but neither was able to tighten up the defence or score the goals we needed to stay up. Were these the kind of players we needed in a relegation battle?

Second, AB’s relationship with the players seems poor. The Rösler incident, Quinn’s unrest, and comments about the team not really knowing what it was doing until December all point to something wrong. What were City’s tactics, apart from pass it around a bit and hope that Gio does something special?

The above is borne out in Ball’s track record as a manager – relegation with Blackpool, Stoke, Portsmouth, Exeter, and now City – what other evidence do we need? AB has never won anything, most likely never will (if he does stay, I hope I have to eat these words) and is not the man to transform what are now the biggest Endsleigh league club into Premiership title contenders. Stability is one thing, but stability at what cost?

Who else to get in? George Graham needs the work, and Andy King has been impressive on a small budget. Chris Waddle might be worth a go as the current trend towards player-managers can pay dividends (Robson, Hoddle erm… Wilkins?). Asa Hartford may be a popular choice – and Scottish managers do tend to do well (Taggart, Shanks, Dalglish, Graham).

As for the Kinky issue, is it right that a player who is fantastic should be playing outside one of the world’s top leagues? I’ll love it if he stays, but won’t hold it against him if the lire lures him away.

‘Now is the summer of our discontent…’

David Sweeting (DAVIDS@hum.port.ac.uk)

BIRKIN RECOVERS!

Right – I’ve calmed down a bit now and have started planning my trips for next season. Does anyone have a contact address for the London Branch of the Supporters Club?

Try Julian Cooke: (JCOOKE@bpmf.ac.uk) [Ashley]

I’ve already told my mother that we will be visiting her a lot more (it’s really handy for Oldham, Barnsley and Huddersfield). Having looked at the rest of the teams there is no competition so I may even see a few wins.

My wife found my old scarves on Monday (in the back of a cupboard) so they will bring us luck! (1 saw us win the Championship, Cup, League Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup) Mind you that was in the days before they were named after drinks and insurance companies.

My depression has now lifted, and I’m thinking positive – I still keep waking up in the night with a cold sweat! See you all at Sarfend – the winkles are on me.

Clubs for the drop next year – Derby County, Southampton & Wimbledon (I hate the Wombles!!!!!!!!)

Andy Birkin, Still Blue (101646.3021@CompuServe.COM)

THOSE NICE BOYS IN THE REPLIKITS

I have just realised the major peril of being on the Internet. Whilst I am relatively safe in Australia from bumping into any gloating rags (well any that speak English), I am still open to the more technologically-minded morons who have access to the net. Did anyone else receive the note from – ngj1@leicester.ac.uk – stating “ho ho ho! city are down”. Anyway, I have drafted a reply to this obviously articulate person, congratulating him on his use of the written word, with a few well meant suggestions with regard to using sentences, capital letters and putting his/her name on correspondence.

Do you think it will work?

Peter Singleton (petesing@VNET.IBM.COM)

I got one too but from another cerebrally-challanged individual. I’ve had ’em in the past and to be honest it’s not really worth replying, unless it makes you feel better that is! I did reply once and it did make me feel considerably better 8-))

Ashley

SUNDAY NIGHT

I was gutted on Sunday night and away on a Hockey tour, phoned up the City Clubcall and ended up with a huge bill (donations kindly received!) Anyway there will be loads of info on it and a grim photo of me, in tomorrow’s Sun (8th May). Apparently the Biggest Tit on Page 3 since Sam Fox’s! Anyway to console me my mates came up with this cracking song to the tune of Cheer up Peter Reid (God!). You can change the words to suit your name (if it fits) but this was mine:

Cheer up Jimmy T,
Oh what can it be to a,
Ci-ty Supporter to be in
Ender-sleigh
etc.

Another one was to the tune of Wemb-er-ley

End-er-sleigh end-er-sleigh,
We’re the Famous Man City and we’ve gone to End-er-sleigh (rpt until hoarse!)

I hope Gio stays, looks like Uwe’s gone but should Ball Go with him?

Stay Blue, but cheer up, James Talbot – it’s good to talk! (100304.2421@compuserve.com)

MAINE ROAD KICKABOUT

I would like to ask if there are any MCIVTA readers out there that after Sunday’s disappointment, stayed behind after the game and had a kick about on the hallowed turf? I wonder whether it would be possible to repeat this at the end of next season after we win the Endsleigh League?

I would like to say a big thank you to the man who cheered us all up by going up to Mick McCarthy (Ex City, Celtic and current Eire boss) and asked him if he had any spare tickets for the Cup Final.

Mark Hampson (msh3css@bolton.ac.uk)

BOARDROOM TROUBLE?

A precis of an article from the Times Tuesday 7 May:

The article is headed – “Friend in high place may not save Ball.”

Lee’s stake in the club is only about 13 per cent. The two leading shareholders are Stephen Boler and Greenalls, the brewing company, at 28 per cent and 16 per cent respectively. Two weeks ago the MEN reported that members of the board demanded that Ball’s future be discussed at a special meeting. The question was put on ice then, but it is sure to return within the next week or, with an emergency meeting on the agenda, when Lee returns from a brief holiday. If Lee’s proposal to back his manager is opposed, then he could easily be outvoted. The fall-out would be significant. There is a feeling among certain directors that harsh financial reality must take precedence over friendship and goodwill, even if it means that Lee himself departs. The article goes on to mention the sight of Jerome Anderson, the agent to Kinkladze and Rösler, deep in heated conversation with Lee and Bernard Halford, the club secretary, within an hour of the final whistle on Sunday.

John Shearer (SHEAREJH@hpohp2.wgw.bt.co.uk)

BLUE SINGAPOREAN

I have been a supporter of Man City from this faraway land. I really thought they could pull it through and stay in the Premier League and fight it out in 1997. Goodness me, it really sad to see them going down again.

Lim Lok Chiang, Singapore (lclim@singnet.com.sg)

RED SINGAPOREAN

With everyone feeling more Blue than normal, I thought that I would submit this recent experience in order to try to cheer you all up a bit.

I was involved in a ‘phone conversation with a Singaporean Malay girl the other day. When she found out that I’m from Manchester, she went nuts exclaiming that she was a big United fan and wasn’t it great that they were going to win the league? I think I confused her when I told her I was a City fan and wasn’t really very fond of the Rags (I thought an understatement was appropriate). After having to endure her drooling over Eric C*ntana (does anyone else think he looks like the Newsflash reader from the Muppets?) for a couple of minutes I finally asked her if she’s ever seen them play, as they toured Malaysia last year and she has spent some time in England. She said “yes – I’ve seen them twice.” Surprised, I asked her where, to which she replied “On T.V.” I confused her again by saying “Typical” and laughing.

What a contrast to the Singaporean Malay City fans I’ve met here (namely Nizam)!

Steve Slack (sslack@netgate.compaq.com)

REQUEST – MATCH VIDEOS

With City being relegated the only chance of us exiles being able to see them in action via traditional means will be via an extended run in the FA Cup.

I’ve read in a few MCIVTA articles that City will probably get on Sky more now that they are the major attraction in Div. 1. If this is the case I would like to link up with somebody over there who would be willing to video the games for me and send them over. Naturally I would be willing to cover the expenses.

You’ve no idea (actually you probably do!) how much this would be appreciated.

Also, for the above reasons, MCIVTA will enter its most important season yet come August. We get absolutely zero coverage of any Endsleigh League action in Singapore, and I expect this is true everywhere outside of the UK. Keep up the excellent work guys, and to you contributors of match reports – you are now basically our eyes and ears until we’re back where we belong.

Bluer than ever, Steve Slack (sslack@netgate.compaq.com)

REQUEST – CAR SHARE?

I am a London-based supporter who would like to get to many more games, but often stuck for transport. I’m therefore looking for fellow southern-based Blues for car-sharing for home or away matches next season. If anyone wants to share the driving / cost etc., please contact me at:

Stuart Menges (Stuart@bouncy.demon.co.uk)

QUESTION – THAT MARK BURGESS?

Was the contributor to MCIVTA 191 called Mark Burgess the same Mark Burgess from Middleton who fronted the best Manchester band of the 80’s The Chameleons, and went on to form The Sun And The Moon, and thence a collaboration with Yves Altana? I think we should be told…

Andy Jackson (bc10@cityscape.co.uk)

QUESTION – MAIL ORDER

Is there a mail order system running yet for the shop?

Also a colleague (Rag) at work was telling me that they were looking into Kinkladze. I’m taking it as a wind up but World War 3 comes to mind if they of all people get him. Hopefully he’ll stay but no doubt the offers will be coming thick and fast now that the season is over.

Robin Gaskell (Robin.Gaskell@gtplc.com)

The last I heard about mail order is that they are setting a system up; maybe Stephen could ask when it will come on-line?

Ashley

BLUE HUMOUR

Franny is out shopping in town one Saturday afternoon when he takes a funny turn outside the Midland hotel (must be the pressure). Luckily for him there happens to be a conference on in the hotel and some of the delegates gather round. “Who is it?” asks some dopey cockney Rag, “It’s Franny Lee” someone replies “and he’s fainted, let’s get him inside.” They carefully carry him inside and after giving him some water he slowly comes round. “Where am I?” asks Franny. “It’s alright” says the guy who found him “you’re in the conference.”

“***king hell!” says Franny, “what happened to the second and third divisions?”

Keep the faith. We will survive! Stefan Franczuk (franczuk@np.ph.gla.ac.uk)

WHY BLUE?

I remember when I became a Blue. It’s one of the few early memories I have. I was at primary school in the summer of 1969 – A big kid came up to me and asked me who I supported – he had a football, so I guessed he was talking about football … it was a hot day, and we were in the field at the back of our school in Stockport. A couple of other big kids came over.

I was 6 at the time, and I guess I remember someone saying that City had won the Cup. I knew that just about everyone at school supported United – but at that age, I didn’t understand that Catholics supported United and Protestants supported City. All I knew was that City had won, and I liked people that won – like Captain Scarlet and the Man from Uncle.

The big kid wanted an answer. I said City. I figured I was being smart – everyone likes a winner I thought, with a 6 year old brain. Oh no missus.

He was happy enough, I suppose. At least he didn’t hit me. I think I’m happy enough as well. My Catholic sense of suffering and guilt has stopped me switching to anyone else but it has meant that, apart from 1976, I’ve been waiting for vindication for a decision made by a 6 year old. I don’t mind.

Supporting City has taught me a few things – ‘hope against adversity’ is one. Being able to laugh and do the Conga round the terraces at Nottingham Forest when you’re getting a right good spanking is another. Tell me that United supporters would do the same. Supporting City is sort of hard, but there is a cameraderie in defeat that Arsenal, Liverpool and even someone as crap as Everton don’t have. Watching Peter Swales (God rest him) make awful decision after bad misjudgement after cock-up shows you that we’re all capable of taking something good and fubar’ing it.

The one thing that I’m really pissed off about this season is that City got relegated, and Sky get the Endsleigh TV rights. I can’t even cancel my subscription to that bastard Murdoch.

Mark Henshall (mark@guardian.co.uk)

WWW MANCHESTER CITY SUPPORTERS’ HOME PAGE:
http://www.uit.no/mancity/


MCIVTA ADDRESSES:
Contributions: mcivta@tollbar.u-net.com
Subscriptions: Adam.Houghton@sheffield.ac.uk
Club Questions: sbolton@buxtonrd.u-net.com


Thanks to John, Peter, Lim, Jeremy, Dan, Stewart, Andy (x2), Rene’, James, Jim, The Mole, Steve, Stefan, Fraser, Christine, Roger,Stuart, Ken, Mark (x3), John & David.


DISCLAIMER
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, mcivta@tollbar.u-net.com

Newsletter #192

1996/05/09

Editor:


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