Newsletter #224

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This issue comes in three parts which is a reflection of the recent ‘happenings’ and of the number of opinions! The good/bad news, depending on your persuasion, is that George Graham has turned the job down. Frannie was on the radio earlier today and was extremely disappointed that Graham had not accepted. Many people were quick to level the finger at the club, or to be more precise, their inability to offer Graham a decent package. This seems to be untrue, Lee maintained that the deal would have made Graham one of the best paid managers in the country; furthermore, he stated that there were decent funds for new players. This has been reinforced by Graham himself who said that it wasn’t right for him, but that the deal was a good one. My personal opinion is that Graham never had any intention of coming and was merely using this vacancy as leverage with other clubs, perhaps Leeds United. I expect some upheavals at the club shortly, read Martin Beckett’s opinion about the board problems and ponder!

Next game, Charlton Athletic at home, Tuesday 3rd September 1996

MATCH REPORT ‘LIVE’

STOKE CITY vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 24th August 1996.

“Ball’s last stand”

This was never going to be an easy trip for Alan Ball, since Stoke were one of the clubs relegated under his managership in the past and their fans still passionately dislike him. His popularity with the City fans was also at its lowest since his arrival at Maine Road…

Fortunately it was a much easier trip for us and there was even a large, free car park within 200 yards of the ground courtesy of the nearby Michelin works. Barring a re-match in one of the cup competitions this season, this will probably be our last visit to the Victoria Ground as a new stadium is under construction on the outskirts of the city.

Although City fans packed the large-ish Stoke End stand and the paddock in front (yes, standing!), this was a much smaller turnout than our previous visit in December 1988 when 12,000 Blues made the journey south for a Christmas party. On this occasion, as on that one, the home side ruined the celebrations by winning the game.

City had two changes from the side that performed so poorly at Bolton. Out went full backs Scott Hiley and Michael Frontzeck and in came Nicky Summerbee and Alan Kernaghan. The formation was as follows:

             Immel
   Symons  Kernaghan  Brightwell
             Clough
Summerbee  Lomas  Kinkladze  Brown
      Kavelashvili  Rösler

City started quite positively and certainly went in to challenges like they meant them. Clough and Kernaghan in particular were mad for it, as another famous Blue might say. Nevertheless, Carl Muggleton in the Stoke goal wasn’t really troubled and once again Gio wasn’t able to impose himself on the game. Stoke gradually came more into the game and the first real warning sign came when Ally Pickering’s shot skidded across the area and came back off the far post and away to safety. A few minutes later City were a goal down. Sturridge was given time and space to turn and get a shot in, Immel couldn’t hold it and Forsyth drilled the rebound in close to the post. Barely had City got over this shock when ex-City player Mike Sheron scored a second for Stoke. Running right at City’s defence, he was challenged by Immel and the ball hit Sheron’s legs and bounced into the unguarded net.

The ten minutes to half time were pretty awful. City didn’t know what to do and we looked as bad again as we had been at Bolton. The fans joined their counterparts at the other end slagging off Alan Ball (with the addition of some jibes at the ex-Rag Stoke manager, Lou Macari) and then booed the team off again at half time.

Ball made two changes at half time, replacing Kavelashvili (who hadn’t made an impression) with new boy Paul Dickov and Brown (who looked out of form and is starting to become the target of the boo-boys due to his contractual wranglings) with Martin Phillips. For once City improved in the second half and for a while looked capable of getting something out of the game. Dickov impressed, working hard, chasing lost causes, showed good control and turning ability plus a willingness to have a go. Uwe seemed to enjoy playing with him (as another player in the Paul Walsh mould, maybe this isn’t too surprising) and in the 57th minute, opened his scoring account for the season. He intercepted a terrible back pass, rounded the goalkeeper and slotted the ball home. Nice to see him go round the ‘keeper instead of shooting straight at him.

Within a minute it was almost level. A cross came over to the far post where it was met by Uwe but his header was cleared off the line. Summerbee then hit a fierce shot from 20 yards which clipped the outside of the post but the equaliser just wouldn’t come. By the end it was the Stoke fans whistling for the referee to blow for time, which he duly did. The City fans applauded the team off but chanted for Ball’s resignation. This was a much better performance than at Bolton but still way below what the team is capable of.

A caller to the 6.06 radio phone-in programme on Saturday evening made a good point. A Stoke fan, he had been at the game and was, not surprisingly, having a go at Alan Ball and singing the praises of Lou Macari. He was delighted to have won the game but would love to have most of our players in his team. With our players and their manager, the club would be certs for promotion he said.

Now that the fans have got their way and Ball has resigned, we’ll see who takes over and what difference a new manager can make. One also wonders what Alan Ball’s next job will be?

Final Score: Stoke 2 City 1

Paul Howarth (paul@city-fan.org)

NEWS – BALL RESIGNS

Monday 26th:

Alan Ball resigned as Manchester City manager this evening. He met with chairman Francis Lee and offered his resignation, which was accepted. City issued a statement thanking him for his efforts over his 13 months in charge and wishing him well in the future.

City are expected to make an approach to Bruce Rioch, sacked by Arsenal last week, for the newly-vacated position.

Paul Howarth (paul@city-fan.org)

OFFICIAL NEWS

Alan Ball has indeed quit as the manager. At a press conference today (Tuesday), FHL said that there is to be a board meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) to decide the next step. He said that he had not heard George Graham on the radio (Radio 5) saying that he would be interested in the job should it be offered. Although a speedy replacement is envisaged, it may not be in time for Tuesday’s home fixture against Charlton. In the meantime, Asa Hartford takes on the responsibility.

Rumours of Gio going to Celtic (Ceefax and the Times at least) are said to be just that; rumours.

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

PORT VALE – ALL TICKET

In today’s MUEN it is reported that “The police are insisting that City’s game at Port Vale is all-ticket. Tickets, at £12.00 will be on sale from Saturday (31 August) to regular season ticket holders only. Application form G and the season ticket book must be produced.”

So no chance of me going again. Stay Blue. Graham for manager (I hope).

Tony Hulme (T.Hulme@mmu.ac.uk)

THE RESIGNATION – A BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE WEEK’S EVENTS

There have been some interesting comments in the media today in the aftermath of Alan Ball’s resignation. First of all, the reasons given for the resignation in the first place. AB seemed to be under the impression that the media, and the MUEN in particular, had “whipped up” the fans to protest against him. Rather the opposite methinks. After suffering almost silently the pain of relegation, the realisation that things were getting worse rather than better – the Bolton game made this crystal clear – was the final straw for most fans. The media picked up on this, and I think it’s fair to say that Paul Hince (who, let’s not forget, is a City fan just like us) was only reflecting the views of the majority of Blues. In any case, Brian Horton was subjected to far more of this sort of treatment than Alan Ball ever was.

Did he jump or was he pushed? I’m not sure. There was certainly no hint of him resigning in the TV interview he gave after the Stoke game, which, incidentally, was broadcast here in Manchester less than two hours after his resignation. A meeting took place on Monday evening at Francis Lee’s house where a long conversation took place. At the end of this conversation, Ball is said to have offered his resignation, which was accepted immediately. When asked if he tried to persuade Ball to change his mind, Lee said emphatically: “No. Once Alan’s mind is made up, it’s made up, so there would have been no point trying.” With a number of top-notch managers available at the moment, it’s not surprising that Lee didn’t hesitate IMO.

Shortly after this conversation ended, Bernard Halford made a statement to the media announcing Ball’s resignation and thanking him for his efforts during his 13-month stint at Maine Road.

Francis Lee expanded on the reasons for Ball’s departure on Tuesday. He said that “Alan told me that, although he’s not a quitter, he felt that to leave would be in the club’s best interests. Alan has left with no animosity, and he goes with our best wishes. He has more guts in his big toe than many men have in their entire bodies, and we are sure he will go on and succeed in the future. It’s just that once the fans start to turn against a manager, it really is hard for him to come back. One or two players let Alan Ball down. Their gripe was with Alan’s insistence that Georgi Kinkladze maintained a first team place. A couple said they weren’t getting the service they deserved from him.”

Some noteworthy points there. I’m not so sure that AB will even get another job in management, let alone make a success of it. Mind you, we employed him despite his previous record. The bit about it being hard to recover once the fans get on your back sounds reminiscent of Peter Swales when he sacked Mel Machin “as the fans didn’t like him.” It’s performances and results that impress fans. If they were OK, so would be the relationship with the supporters. The final point is perhaps the most interesting. Who are these players who weren’t satisfied with Gio’s contribution? Elsewhere, this quote mentioned “senior players no longer at the club”, which suggests Curle and Quinn. I’m not too sure about that myself, and would probably add Uwe to that list. It will be interesting to see what Ball’s successor does to resolve this situation.

For the moment, Asa Hartford has been put in charge of team affairs. However, in contrast with Ball’s appointment, a successor may be named within the next day or two. There will be a board meeting on Wednesday evening and it is possible that a decision on the subject will be taken at that meeting. The firm favourite, both with the bookies and the fans (judging from radio phone-ins and the votes cast on the WWW), is George Graham. In a radio interview on Tuesday morning, Graham said “Of course I would be interested, but I have had no contact with anyone at Manchester City. I can assure you that it is a big job, a big club and I would be interested.”

Whilst everybody seems to be agreed that we must all get behind whoever is eventually appointed, it will be interesting to see what happens if the new manager does not see a place in his side for Gio Kinkladze. Graham’s Arsenal side were highly organised, with each player having specific responsibilities and specific areas of the pitch in which to work. A player such as Gio who is more suited to a free rôle might not fit in with the new manager’s plans, and the possibility of a £10 million offer for him could prove too hard to resist. Celtic Clubcall today referred to “encouraging noises from Manchester” in their bid to sign Gio. Supposing the price of getting the manager we want is that we lose the biggest attraction Maine Road has seen in over a decade?

Opinions please!

Paul Howarth (paul@city-fan.org)

NEWS – WEDNESDAY

Francis Lee today urged George Graham to telephone him in order to confirm his interest in the City manager’s job. One possible reason why he may not already have do so is that Graham may have announced his availability on Tuesday in order to see if anyone else was interested in him, such as Leeds maybe. If he isn’t in fact interested in the City job, we’ll be in a similar position to last season where we clearly didn’t get our first choice candidate.

With all the rumours linking Gio Kinkladze to Celtic and even Sunderland, Lee has again denied that the maestro is going anywhere. It remains to be seen whether this denial will still apply if the new manager doesn’t want him or would prefer the money. Another obstacle in the way of Celtic’s ambitions to sign Gio is that they would be unable to get a work permit for him. The rules on work permits are apparently different in Scotland: there is a limit of 10 non-EC players in total; Aberdeen recently used up the last available permit, so the Bhoys would have to wait until a non-EC player left Scotland before they could sign our man.

City are giving another foreign player a trial: Patrik Weiser, a former German U21 international from Cologne is likely to get a run-out in Wednesday evening’s reserve game against Wrexham at Maine Road.

Alan Ball’s much-maligned enemy Paul Hince has been promoted to Chief Sports Writer at the MUEN. Bryan Brett will now cover City. Apparently some City directors expressed their displeasure with Hince to the MUEN but the promotion was already in the pipeline and had nothing to do with recent events.

Finally, the away game at Port Vale on September 10th has now been made all-ticket at the insistence of the police. Tickets priced at £12.00 will be available to regular season ticket holders on production of application form G from Saturday morning.

Paul Howarth (paul@city-fan.org)

NEWS – GRAHAM TURNS CITY DOWN

There is strong speculation this morning that George Graham has turned down the City job as there isn’t enough money available. There was a 90-minute board meeting last night after the reserves’ 1-1 draw with Wrexham, following which Francis Lee refused to comment. It also seems that Bruce Rioch and Kenny Dalglish will not be approached.

New names in the fray are Jack Charlton, Dave Bassett and Barnsley manager Danny Wilson. Barnsley are currently top of Division 1.

City have asked Gio Kinkladze’s Swiss-based agent to delay talks on his future at City until after the managerial position is resolved.

The Mole

NEWS – RESERVES AND GRAHAM

City reserve game against Wrexham was a 1-1 draw. Gerry Creaney scored for City in the first half and could have added at least two more but he passed the ball around as if to let some else score. In the second half Wrexham piled on the pressure with some good runs from their numbers 11 and 7 (not being able to get hold of a list of the players I’m sorry I can’t tell you their names – or most of our players). Their goal came after some good work by their number 7; Martyn Margetson made a good attempt to save it but only managed to get his fingers to it. Jeff Whitley and Martin Phillips also played well, with Creaney hitting the crossbar from a free kick towards the end. Not a great game but for a pound what do you expect?

On another note, at 9:30 Thursday 29/8/96 I’ve just heard that George Graham has turned down the job of City Manager. Teletext are now saying Big Jack is in the running. George Graham would have been my first choise but the lack of money is probably the sticking point with George. My next choice would probably be Bruce Rioch. How about Asa Hartford being Manager (it was just a quick thought)?

Thank God the next match against Charton has been put back until next Tuesday with all this going on (again).

No disrespect to Big Jack but I don’t think he would be the manager to see us prosper and lead us into the next century.

Glen McLellan (glenmc@uk.pipeline.com)

NEWS – CITY FURIOUS

City are said to be furious about the way they have been strung along by George Graham, who declined the chance to manage City today. “I am very disappointed, particularly after he made it very clear that he was interested in the position”, said Francis Lee. “We put together a package to make him a very wealthy manager and also had a fund available for transfers. He has made his decision to go somewhere else and that is his perogative.” The offer City made is believed to be for £1,000,000 over four years. It looks as though Graham was just alerting Premiership clubs of his availability. He said: “I was very pleased to be approached by Manchester City regarding their managerial vacancy, but after careful thought I have decided to decline their very fair offer. I would like to take this opportunity to wish Manchester City and all their supporters every success in the future.”

Paul Howarth (paul@city-fan.org)

NEWS – GRAHAM OUT, CHARLTON IN

Tonight’s London Evening Standard is reporting that George Graham, despite declaring on national radio yesterday that he was interested, will say no to the job at City. Stumbling blocks are said to be that he wants to take Stuart Houston with him and also wants cast iron guarantees about the availability of funds to buy players. The Standard goes on to report that this development leaves Jack Charlton as the leading candidate for the Maine Road job.

Steve Walker (steve_walker@cix.compulink.co.uk)

NEW MANAGER POLL

A new manager WWW-poll can be found at: http://www.service.uit.no/mancity/votes/manager2.html

When Alan Ball was appointed manager, it came a bit out of the blue for all of us. When we had our polls on the WWW he wasn’t even considered. I admit to being one of the 40% wanting to give Ball a chance – even if it meant relegation. At this very moment I cannot find any other excuse than momentary insanity. The guy’s bulldozer-handling of the players has made the team what it is today; totally rubbish! The only decent thing he’s done in 12 months was handing over his resignation-papers.

Now with both Bruce Rioch and George Graham available – it should be “easy” to pick a person with a more successful background (as manager) to lead the team. Perhaps Johann Cruyff could work wonders?

Looking at Ball’s desperate experimentation with the line-ups in his last days in charge, I can’t resist giving my own view on the squad situation.

  1. Selling Quinn was a very bad decision. Perhaps it helpedgetting Ball quicker out of Maine Road, and so did ussome good after all though.
  2. Whatever happened to Garry Flitcroft? He’s not even on thebench at Blackburn. Get him back ASAP – if he wants to return!
  3. We need a good English goalkeeper. Preferably a “young gun”.I don’t know why we didn’t buy Nigel Martyn last year,but perhaps his wages were too high? A goalkeeper who’s ableto communicate with the defence is crucial.
  4. We also need some decent full backs. I know Terry Phelan wasrubbish, but replacing him with Frontzeck did not improvethings at all!
  5. We have loads of wingers, but none of them can make a decentcross (or they are constantly injured).
  6. The inconsistency of our striking force has to be sorted out.Ball never managed to pair Uwe with Kavelashvili, or Quinnfor that matter. So how well is a German supposed to workwith a Georgian anyway (“Don’t mention the war”)?
  7. We have too many foreigners in the team. Some of them don’teven speak proper English. City was the first team to fieldmore than 3 foreigners in the same match. We also got relegatedthe same season…

So with the current squad, my personal possible line-up would be:

                       Dibble
Summerbee        Symons    Kernaghan      Brightwell
              Lomas              Brown
                      Kinkladze
   Kavelashvili        Rösler              Clough

Svenn Hanssen (svenn@hanssen.priv.no)

FLITTY SIGHTED

Seen at the Bolton match, indeed in with the City fans was one Garry Flitcroft. I’m quite sure he would have been shouting for the Blues had they not been so poor. It’s nice to see him still supporting the club – now that Bally’s gone is there any chance of getting him back? His heart still seems to be at least partly at Maine Road.

Sam Al-Hamdani (sah104@york.ac.uk)

IN THE STOKE END

I have been Blue since ’91 when I went to university in Manchester. I now live in Stoke where I was born and bred (a Port Vale fan for most of my life). As I am only a first year season ticket holder for the Academy I couldn’t get tickets for the away end at the Victoria ground, so me and my mate ended up in the Boothen End (my mate is also a Blue).

We were s**t scared. Ever stood in the Stoke ground? When you don’t support Stoke it is not fun. Anyway you know how City played by reading other match reports – I don’t want to go through it all again.

We did, however, find time to sing along with the Stoke fans. Two tunes stuck out – the first one was:

You’ve got something we haven’t got!
F*** off Alan Ball
F*** off Alan Ball
F*** off Alan Ball
F*** off Alan Ball

The other one was sung to the tune of ‘Three Lions’:

He’s on the dole,
He’s on the dole,
He’s on the,
Bally’s on the dole.

P.S. If anyone is coming to sunny Stoke to see City against Vale on September 10, there are a lot of pubs around the ground, and the Vale fans will talk to you and have a beer, without kicking your head in – they’re a nice bunch.

Dominic Madden (dom@apoloco.co.uk)

SOME BACKGROUND ON GRAHAM

George Graham was born in Bargeddie, Fife, Scotland on the 30th November 1944. As a player he appeared for Aston Villa, Chelsea, Arsenal, Man United, Portsmouth and Crystal Palace. The honours he won whilst playing are as follows:

League Cup runners-up medal             1963  (Aston Villa )
F.A. Cup runners-up medal               1965  (Chelsea)
League Cup winners medal                1965  (Chelsea)
League Cup runners-up medal             1968  (Arsenal)
League Cup runners-up medal             1969  (Arsenal)
Fairs (UEFA) Cup winners medal          1970  (Arsenal)
League Championship medal               1971  (Arsenal)
F.A. Cup winners medal                  1971  (Arsenal)
F.A. Cup runners-up medal               1972  (Arsenal)
Scotland Caps: 12

In 1983 George took the manager’s position at Millwall, where he won promotion from Division 3. In 1986 he moved into the manager’s post at Arsenal, where in eight and a half years he achieved the following:

Littlewoods Cup winner          1987
Littlewoods Cup runners-up      1988
Barclays Manager of the season  1988-89
League Championship             1989
League Championship             1991
F.A. Cup winner                 1993
Coca-Cola Cup winner            1993
European Cup-Winners Cup winner 1994

However, on 21 Feb, 1995 George was sacked for not acting in the best interests of the club. This followed F.A. allegations of him receiving irregular payments (bungs) of £425k in 1991-92 regarding the transfer deals of Pal Lydersen and John Jensen. The FA enquiry found George guilty of accepting these payments from the company Interclub Ltd, owned by the players’ agent Rune Hauge, and banned him from the game for one year. FIFA subsequently endorsed the ban, effectively making it world-wide. It is interesting to note that at the time of the dismissal, the Arsenal supporters’ web site had Alan Ball at 10-1 to replace Graham. Having said that, Paula Yates came in at 100-1

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

MANAGERS

Some idle thoughts on managers and where we are going dreadfully wrong. The history goes something like this:

ManagerComment
MercerAllowing him to be pushed aside was the first really stupid decision (that I know of).
AllisonOn his own, out of control, left to go to Palace (Judas1)
HartGood guy, doing a reasonable job, had a heart attack.
SaundersBoring – defensive, kicked out by player power.
BookSuccessful era, League runners-up, good, solid defence (Corrigan, Doyle, Watson).Insanely suggested the return of his old mentor (2nd really bad move).
Allison (2)Disaster, inept in transfer market, put together (eventually) a young team that had the potential to succeed.
BondInitial success by adding steel to Allison’s youngsters. Then decided to sell them andbuild a team around the injury prone and fragile ego of Trevor Francis (3rd really bad move).
BensonSacked after relegation.
McNeillGot us up, at the second attampt, seemed to bring credibility and integrity to ashambolic organisation. Then blows it by going to Villa, has distinction ofrelegating two clubs in the same season (Judas 2).
FrizzellCaretaker to end of season, then pushed upstairs.
MachinGot us up, produced a group of outstanding youngsters, but having produced them reallydidn’t have the ability to make them gel into a solid 1st Division side. Disastrous start to season sees him gone.
KendallTakes similar approach to Bond, stiffens up side, and saves us. Amid rumours ofalcoholism and other such things, goes back to Everton (Judas 3).
ReidSeemed to be doing a good job, 5th in the League, sacked for some bizarre reason.Maybe now that Swales is no longer with us someone can shed some light on this (4th really bad move)?
HortonUnder a cloud with new regime, sacked, no-one really objected, bad move in hindsight.
BallWorst decision yet…

All in all a catalogue of bad decisions, treachery, wasted money, basically how not to run a football club.

If we are to succeed we need to understand what success is; my definition is a side which consistently is in the top third of the league, challenging for Europe, coupled with good cup runs: a reasonable expectation of this is 5 years. After a number of years, with consistent management this may translate into a Championship winning club that consistently ranks with the top 5; this realistically will take at least a further five years.

How do we get there…

  1. Appoint a Senior Manager who has the track record and charisma tomanage the club over a 10 year period.
  2. This manager needs the complete support of the board.
  3. A mangement team should be built that has a clearly identified successor in the wings.
  4. You cannot buy long term success: we need a good youth policy, plusan effective non-league scouting policy.
  5. The skills needed to dig us out of D1 are not the same as thoserequired for the Premiership; we need some solid boys to protect ourskilled players.
  6. Finally, forget United, we deserve to be where we are, they haveworked hard for their success, taken a long term view, and are reapingthe benefits.

Here is the final league table from last year. Sunderland won the League with 7 defeats; it may not be as easy this time round, however all is not lost…

                      P  W  D  L  F   A   W  D  L  F   A   GS PD PTS
1 SUNDERLAND         46 13  8  2  32  10  9  9  5  27  23  59  0  83
2 DERBY COUNTY       46 14  8  1  48  22  7  8  8  23  29  71  0  79
3 Crystal Palace     46  9  9  5  34  22 11  6  6  33  26  67  0  75
4 Stoke City         46 13  6  4  32  15  7  7  9  28  34  60  0  73
5 LEICESTER CITY     46  9  7  7  32  29 10  7  6  34  31  66  0  71

Here’s hoping…

Fraser Davidson (fraser.a.davidson@unilever.com)

THE CARIBBEAN PERSPECTIVE

With the growing threat of “Hurricane Edouard” over the weekend, the ladies of the beach volleyball league found themselves rained out. Was I surprised or what, when they turned up at my front door offering me three wishes to realise my fantasies. Wish number one was easy, if the unconfirmed reports of AB’s departure are true then the ladies did a fine job. Wish number two, we’ll have to wait until next May for that one. To cap things off though, they made a fine job of painting my kitchen! Shrewd as ever (I was born in Oldham), I’ve never been one to waste an opportunity.

One thing has been puzzling me throughout most of the closed season. Who or what the hell is “Oasis”? Seems to me, to be the only thing to get 40,000 plus into Maine Road for as long as I can remember. Is it like the Pope? Can he (or it), manage a football team? If not, how about playing up front with Herr Rösler! I must apologise for any signs of ignorance, this is the West Indies after all, things are kind of slow down here, unless it involves ganja or Bob Marley, who apparently was quite a nippy little winger in his day. This of course was before he died. Fielding a team of players post-mortem is nothing new, remember Bolton!

Since a trip to Maine Road is a 9,000 mile round trip for little old me. I can’t grace your pages with thrilling minute by minute match reports. The best I can do is fill your hearts and minds with my fond memories of my last trip to “The Academy Of Football”. Circa late season 1982, Manchester City 0 West Ham United 1 (some things never change!). On the way out of the stadium a nice gentleman with a London accent and something nasty about his mother tatooed on his head, introduced my face to his favourite house brick. Oh what fond memories I have. Not my last City game though, that came a few years later. A vacation to Wolverhampton! Jst my luck, City are playing Shrewsbury Town, not a million miles away down the A5. Armed with a 5 foot banana (must have been 1988), I arrive at Gay Meadow, with obvious caution (you can’t be too careful in Shropshire), I’m herded into a cattle shed, appropriately! Then to endure 90 minutes of typical torture. The final score? you guessed, 1-0. At least we won! A last minute, off two posts, a defender, then a cow pat kind of thing. The joy! The ecstacy! the bloody long walk back to Wolverhampton in the rain with a 5 foot banana. Believe me a 5 foot banana makes it very difficult to hitch hike.

The Cayman Islands Football Association are looking for a new management team for the upcoming Shell Caribbean Cup. I will of course be censoring all news reports of the availability of Mr Ball. I’d hate for the Cayman boys to embarrass themselves!

P.S.- Am I the only City supporter who doesn’t live in Cardiff!

P.P.S. – Hurricane Edouard is heading towards Bermuda and away from Cayman. He will probably turn away when he figures out just how expensive it is in Bermuda. You don’t have to worry about me, I’ll manage (whoops, manage is not a good word this week).

Dave Lees, Cayman Islands (davelees@CandW.ky)

POST STOKE BLUES

After going down to see the match against Stoke I was glad to hear of the resignation of Alan Ball from the club. Although we weren’t as bad as against Bolton it was clear that even though quite a few of the players were playing reasonably well, there was no semblance of a team performance.

The team tried to pass their way past Stoke and were hussled out of their stride. After the match Mike Sheron was interviewed. His view of things was that City had to hustle and bustle just as much as the opposition and then let their class make the difference.

It was noticeable that when Niall Quinn was interviewed after his first match for Sunderland this was one of the things that he mentioned – he felt a ‘spark’ that was not present at City, and which had not been there for some time.

I just hope whoever takes over from AB takes notice of these comments.

P.S. Andy Hinchcliffe just got called up to Glenn Hoddle’s first England squad; he could be the second of our youth cup winning side to make it to international level.

Sam Al-Hamdani (sah104@york.ac.uk)

EARLY SEASON

Having been away from work since before the start of the season I’ve been catching up on all the views etc. and only to City could so much happen in such a short space of time.

The Bolton game was as bad as everyone has said… the worst “performance” by a City team in my 22 years of watching them.

Ball going so soon is a consolation, but with Graham turning down the post it looks like we’re in for the usual, very public farce of finding a replacement. Please Kenny, please.

Good luck to Niall Quinn… he was treated like s**t by a ****head.

As a resident of Rusholme I took the opportunity, pre-season to see what the boys were up to. The very open training sessions are all well and good, but surely a balance has to be struck? As training finished each day the players happily signed autographs etc., but of course they mostly wanted Gio. The look of exasperation on his face as small boy, after small boy, after small boy was sent forward by Dad, with posters, shirts, balls, etc. to sign, followed by young girls posing for photo after photo, one with dad thrown in for good measure. He showed great patitence and courtesy, but he’s 21 years old, in a foreign country and he’s still surrounded by fans 15 minutes after the rest of the team have buggered off. Where was a club official to help him out? Someone just to say okay enough’s enough? No wonder he’s looking weary and dejected. You look after your best assets. He needs some cotton wool treatment if it’s not already too late. The pressures of fame and fortune can take their toll (note one Liam Gallagher). Further to that there was no team spirit evident at all in training. I for one am not at all suprised by the shambles that is already our season.

Paul Monaghan (pm5@bolton.ac.uk)

OPINION – THE DISMISSAL I

Well done Franny for getting rid of Ball. The question in my mind though is why on earth didn’t he go at the end of last season? Did Franny want just a couple more defeats to make sure?

Now last time City offloaded a manager, the problem was there was that we couldn’t get a replacement and had to settle for AB (someone worse than the guy he replaced) after nobody else would take the job. I sincerely hope that FL has learnt his lesson from that fiasco and that, this time, he has someone else in mind to take over. My money is on Bruce Rioch. The problem is can we afford him? What might be on our side is the fact that I can’t think of any Premiership managers who are in imminent danger of the sack (Leeds won last night to make Howard Wilkinson’s job more secure). So will Rioch get a better offer in the near future? Hopefully he will come and save City!

David Yates, Maldon, UK (dg-yates@dircon.co.uk)

OPINION – THE DISMISSAL II

Woke up this morning to hear on the World Service that the man with the squeaky voice has resigned. Found out that it is true from McVittee, well it is the best news I have had for a long time. Distance is said to lend perspective, well from Hong Kong what we (City not Hong Kong) should do next looks clear as mud; however, I thought I would add my pennyworth on what appear to be the possibilities.

Kenny Daglish
I would be incredibly pleased if I heard he was going to be the next Citymanager as he is a shrewd guy and likes success. He will not come unless hethinks he can achieve it. Great managerial pedigree and the players shouldrespect him rather than hate him. Also dislikes Ferguson; as far as Iremember this goes back to the time when Fergie managed Scotland and wouldnot pick Hansen, Daglish then refused to play in the Mexico World Cup.Although I am not a fervent Rag basher this has to be a plus point in a Citymanager and as far as I can see the only reason for Daglish to come here. Healso has a distressing habit of disappearing just before the team slide.
George Graham
Did as great job with Arsenal and obviously a successful manager. His firstchampionship side I do not remember as being as boring as legend has it butI only saw a few matches; after this side the teams definitely got duller.However, the reason I do not want him as manager is mainly because he appearsto have no moral dimension at all. Ripping off the club (and therefore thefans) may be a mistake. This guy still seems to have no conception that itmay also be wrong. He appears to think that the club should have supportedhim and a bung is a reasonable managerial perk. To steal from the fans maybe forgiveable but to be unrepentant?
Bruce Rioch
Knows the first division well and seemed to do a reasonable job withArsenal. The players except Wright seemed upset at his departure, which mustbe a plus if City get him as morale seems to be the basic problem at the moment.As big a name as we are likely to get and hopefully still hungry for success.I cannot see Kenny coming to Maine Road so I hope that we get Rioch, theclub rallies round him and at last we get a manager that lasts more than aseason or two.

Hopeful Blue, Bob Campbell (rchcampb@hkucc.hku.hk)

OPINION – THE DISMISSAL III

Why oh why?

Having just come into work this morning after a restful bank holiday (which was only blackened by my visit to Stoke on Saturday) I have just downloaded the latest issue of MCIVTA which has a “last minute” report of Alan Ball’s resignation. I had no idea – it wasn’t on TV when I watched the news this morning and I did not listen to the radio on the way to work.

It has got to be said that this is probably the best piece of news I have had in a while. After I watched the match on Saturday I had a feeling that far from winning the league we might well be relegated. Stoke were bad but, make no mistake, we were worse. I simply can’t understand how a team full of full and under 21 internationals can be so bad.

The only two shining lights were our two Irishmen – Kernaghan and Lomas. They both tried their hardest as usual and, despite having limited ability, both always looked reasonable players. Things did liven up when Dickov came on – I think that he is just the type of player (Walsh-Like?) who might get Uwe ticking again. It was interesting that when Uwe scored he immediately ran over to the main stand, pointed up at the crowd and made a rude gesture with quite an angry face. I can only assume that he was doing this to Alan Ball who was sat in the Directors’ box with Frannie.

Having just had an emergency meeting with the other Blues in the office we are firmly of the opinion that Bruce Rioch will be the most likely replacement. He played with Frannie at Derby and apparently still has a home in Manchester. I am quite happy about this – he took Middlesbrough up from the old third division and took Bolton up to the Premier League – can he do it again with us? The only reservation I have is that his reason for leaving Bolton was that he wanted to live in London – I hope that if he does come he stays.

Still a sad Blue, Joel Adams (100534.715@CompuServe.COM)

VIEW FROM THE SOUTH

Well, it’s finally happened.. We’ve got rid of possibly our least successful manager ever. Of course it’s easy to blame the manager when things go wrong, but in this case, too many simple errors have been made and it’s the only way forward for the club.

Despite not managing to get up to see City too often (I remember a comment Lineker made once about the best way to watch Wimbledon being on Ceefax…), on the occasions when I have made it to Maine Road, the laughable performances have been almost too painful to watch. Take Ipswich – a reasonable (ish) first half followed by the most dreadful 45 minutes I can remember. People don’t go to City for a football match anymore – they go for pain and self-torture. Why do we have a goalkeeper frightened of coming off his line to pick the bloody ball out of the air? Why do we still employ Frontzeck? What does he know? Who exactly is providing the accurate through balls for Quinn, oh sorry we flogged Quinn didn’t we?

By the time this is read, we might just have a new manager, but who? Dalglish is my choice – a good dragger of teams out of the mire, and God are we in it now. Graham – a possibility, but as has been said before, a somewhat dull playing style. Perhaps this is what we need, if only to get back up. If Derby at Charlton last season, a match I saw, is anything to go by, dull is the order of the day. The First Division isn’t about football, it’s about getting the s*** kicked out of you.

Anyway, the point of all this is – for God’s sake let’s stick by whoever it turns out to be. We’ll soon see from the next performance what the players think about the departure. I hope that it’ll be better than the last two.

P.S. I’m doing a world tour – Any City Fans in Oz, NZ, Singapore, HK or the Pacific Islands, please Email…

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

OPINION – THE DISMISSAL IV

As the man with the Ferrero Rocher chocolate in his mouth said: ‘echelentey’!

George Graham has the track record, and I wouldn’t mind too much if we were boring but went up! Bruce Rioch probably goes for more attractive football but may have the same abrasive management style as Ball. Dalglish would, obviously, be fantastic, but I’m not sure he’d come to City.

And maybe
George/Bruce/Ken will be the one to save me
Cos after all
We’ve got rid of Ball

Here’s hoping for a brighter, bluer future, Matt Varley (MSRTSMV@fs1.ec.man.ac.uk)

OPINION – ALAN BALL IS FOOTBALL HISTORY

Much to my delight, after checking teletext every 20 minutes or so yesterday in the belief that we would see a resignation announcement, we woke up to find that AB had kept his word not to ’embarrass’ the chairman. One plus mark to him after all the minuses which have seemed to multiply over the past few days, culminating in 606 with City fans calling in with various opinions and rumours as to his imminent departure. Now – what a shame it didn’t predate Niall’s departure … he was quoted in Sunday’s papers as being delighted to be at Sunderland, and that had he not been transferred, he expected that he would have been “sitting on the bench at Stoke”.

Still, no doubt it will take another significant chunk of time to heal the damage done, especially to team morale; also let’s hope that the increasing number of Kinky to Celtic rumours are scotched. Who’s it to be then? Rioch? George G? Kenny D? I fancy the latter, tho’ there is the obvious downside that he would not stay for long. George would do I guess – I have some reservations, but at least we would have a functioning defence (remember those?). However, I think in the long run I would plump for Bruce Rioch – if he is prepared to work up North again – I believe one of the reasons he plumped for Arsenal is that he and his family live – happily – in Essex and the time spent away at Bolton was a strain.

We shall see; I had been worried about the two week break facing the team, believing that the longer the gap between games the worse things would get – however, with AB resting between jobs (maybe the Swamp could use him?), it’s probably a good thing.

On to Chapter 921 in the never-ending saga of the fate of MCFC …

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

OPINION – THE DISMISSAL V

Here is an article from a Reuters page that a bloke called Threlsea writes – (Chelsea fan) – It may amuse/enrage but there is some truth in it as well.

“In the light of today’s front pages I’m tempted to start with ‘and after all, you’ve lost Alan Ball (as well as 2-1 at Stoke)’ but that would be a cruel put down for Manchester’s second team. – Heh – and that pains me to say it, but the gulf is huge these days. Ball was an awful choice by a chairman who makes even Swales (R.I.P.) look competent. As records in football management go, Ball has no modern day equal. He is, without serious competition, the worst manager of the 90’s. A career washing kit for a South London Sunday pub side surely beckons. And even then, you can bet he’ll forget to separate the whites from the colours. The man is jinxed. He couldn’t coach a team made up of National Express employees! What would City fans give for the hazy charisma-driven times of Brian Horton?”

Not pleasant reading – his assessment of Ball is spot on – the man is, always has been and always will be an appalling manager. It is painful to read about the “gulf” but unfortunately that is undeniable as well. Sad times – luckily it can surely get no worse.

Where do we go from here? Graham? Rioch? Dalglish?

My favourite would be Rioch – Kenny can’t manage without serious cash and unfortunately we can’t give him that. Graham has a superb record but I reckon Rioch could be just as good – he was treated very harshly at Arsenal having been left an ageing team after Graham; he still got the Arse into Europe and believes football should be played going forward.

Then again if Sullivan takes the club over perhaps he’ll put Linda Lusardi in as manager.

New manager means a honeymoon period to rebuild – I fear this may mean cheerio to promotion this year. Maybe someoone should speak to Frannie and tell him how important it is to get back into the Premiership and get him to get Kenny and throw serious cash at it now!

Nick Reed (Nicholas.Reed@ubs.com)

OPINION – THE DISMISSAL VI

“He’s gone? What… you are kidding? Please… tell me I am not dreaming; the small ginger one has finally gone?”

AB’s reign must have witnessed one of the most dramatic destructions of a football club in the recent history of the game (it doesn’t seem that long ago that City were 6th in the Premiership!). I hope, for him and his family’s sake, that AB saved a lot from his £200K p.a. salary because I can’t see him finding lucrative employment again in a hurry! Meanwhile I pray that City and their new manager, whoever that may be, can rebuild from the ashes. Personally I favour Rioch, although I gather he may prefer to stay in the South of England.

A final joke to remind us of our dearly-beloved, now ex-, leader:-

Franny Lee found a magic lamp and rubbed it. Out popped a Genie. The Genie said I will grant you one wish. Mr Lee said: “Excuse me but shouldn’t I get three?” Genie said: “That was before you became chairman of a football club..” Mr Lee: “Alright, give me the Premiership title in two years time.” Genie takes out a copy of the Football League position tables, looks at them and says: “You are one and half divisions away, with an abysmal record, even I don’t have that type of power. Make another wish, something I can grant you.” Lee thinks a bit and then announces: “The players, the coaching staff, the fans, the press… everyone hates my manager, Alan Ball. Can you fix it so everyone likes him?” Genie: “Can I look at those League Position tables again?”

Here’s to the start of a prosperous and rewarding new era for the Blues…

Paul Emery (sales@kibega.co.uk)

OPINION – THE DISMISSAL VII

So it looks like it has happened. Now the speculation begins – who will follow? I only have one suggested qualification… that the new manager must not have been a member of the 1966 England World Cup Winning Team! Well perhaps another… he shouldn’t be an old mucker of Franny! Of course they could bring Big Mal back for a third time and really complete Mr. Ball’s work!

Had this happened a few weeks back we probably would still have Quinn and perhaps even talking to him about a long term commitment to the club, as player and then on the coaching side.

Onwards… John Pearson (pearsonj@leland.stanford.edu)

OPINION – THE DISMISSAL VIII

Hello ‘The Blues’

Well he’s gone at last. I made a contribution to your well-maintained list last year about what kind of manager I thought you needed. Watching Brian Horton suffer like a frightened dog for 2 seasons (“Rumour, what rumour Brian, I’ve heard nothing”, looks around in total fear but not at the camera), I thought that some ‘fire in their bellies’ was what they needed. And Ball was just the man. After witnessing the bewitching skills of this new Kinky bloke at QPR last season with my Blue mate Paul Monaghan, the rest of the team probably needed counselling. I doubt if Alan Ball would ever have dreamed of signing him himself, and wouldn’t know what to do with him anyway, he certainly didn’t bother telling his team what to do if he did know. Good riddance, and never listen to interfering Rags.

The talk around this office is of George Graham. Arsenal weren’t always boring, and in view of Fatty Lee’s insistence in buying dazzling talent from eastern Europe, who knows. I would bet Graham could get you back up in a season.

Anyway, my real reason for ‘contributing’ was to concur with anyone who saw last night’s Chelsea-Middlesbrough match; any such person will have surely noticed the assured début by the 17-year-old, Morris. I am not one of you as you will gather, and I am typically smug, particularly at the achievements of the likes of Phill Neville and Dave Beckham. But they have had some pretty good upbringing, and have had plenty of experience with the older players. I had never even heard of Morris, he was something else. I fancy Chelsea to seriously ruffle a few feathers this season, and not least ours (you hope). At this rate we are gonna have a world cup winning team that we can field at under 21 level (he is English isn’t he, say he’s English).

Yours, Glory Hunter: Mark Lester (mcl@cursci.co.uk)

OPINION – THE DISMISSAL IX

I haven`t written to MCIVTA for a long time so in light of the recent happenings at Maine Road, I decided to give it a try.

  1. Well, we got what we wanted! Ball has gone – but now we are leftwondering who our next manager will be. There has been lots ofhype concerning George Graham, Kenny Dalglish, Steve McMahon and Bruce Rioch,with George Graham looking the most likely of the contenders. I for onehope Graham gets given the job, as I`m sure he would be a greatmanager for us.
  2. Francis Lee said today to the MuEN “Alan Ball was let down by oneor two players this season, and more last season.” He continues “Iknow one or two senior players, no longer with the club, who did notwant Georgi Kinklaze in the team – they felt he did not work.”There also was some `friction in the changing room” involving GeorgiKinkladze and the players concerned.
  3. Celtic have made City`s Georgian maestro Georgi Kinkladze a £10mtarget. If this is true, this is surely an offer too good to refuse!

P.S. good luck to Alan Ball`s next victim.

Barry Foster (city@dhays.demon.co.uk)

OPINION – GRAHAM

It has to be George Graham. He wants the job, we need someone who can manage, someone with authority, someone without a squeaky voice. Graham may have a reputation for producing boring sides, but he also produces winning teams and we want City to be winners. Rioch is yet another friend of Franny’s; we’ve been down that route and it doesn’t work. Franny needs to take a step back and be a chairman, work on getting some money for the club and leave the team to the manager. Dalglish won’t come to a club with no money, neither will any other decent manager. Graham needs City to get back into football, City need Graham to get back to the Premiership.

Martin Payne (martin.payne@dct.coe.fr)

OPINION – THE DISMISSAL X

Well, what can you say really – about bloody time – shame it wasn’t 3 games into last season really but at least we have the opportunity now of bringing in a top quality manager i.e. George Graham with a proven record of success rather than dismal failure and building for the future with someone who you can justifiably stick with as he’s proved himself to be a winner.

And to all those people who say not George Graham – dull football etc. – do you really think the football played under Alan Ball was good? It was crap. The style under Peter Reid wasn’t exactly ‘the beautiful game’ but most were happy with him and the relative success it brought.

Francis Lee has a duty to bring in a top name now – they are available – he now knows that he just can’t bring in some loser who he’s a bit pally with, otherwise he’ll be the next to go.

Dave Zech (dzech@meto.gov.uk)

OPINION – SAME FEELING, DIFFERENT TIME, DIFFERENT PLACE!

Early in 1983, working at Matthew’s and Yate’s in Swinton, Piccadilly Radio announced that John Bond was no more…

27 August 1996, Devonport Naval Base, Auckland NZ, 11:58 Local time, the Missus rings. Ball has gone (courtesy of MCIVTA). I punch the air – yes!

Can we get it right this time?

Pendlebury Blue, Mike Mulvaney (mulvanem@fp.co.nz)

OPINION – WHATEVER NEXT

Did he jump or was he pushed? We’ll never really know the truth, but the end result is that Ball has gone and the merry-go-round of management selection grinds into action again.

I think Bruce Rioch would be a more appropriate choice than George Graham. The old Arsenal tactics might have been relatively successful but were down at the Sam Ellis level of imagination and entertainment. It’s no coincidence that City’s crowds diminished after Kendall’s departure, I think the average attendance was of the order of 27,000 during the Reid/Ellis reign.

Rioch was able to motivate some fairly ordinary players at Bolton and has more experience working at City’s financial level. He doesn’t seem to have done too bad a job at Arsenal.

It’s interesting to hear the stories about Gio and his team-mates not getting on too well. Curle and Flitcroft come to mind as potential moaners. I hope it’s not just part of a plan to deflect blame from the board and the new manager when Kinkladze leaves Maine Road.

Roger Haigh (r.haigh@man0501.wins.icl.co.uk)

OPINION – HIP HIP HOOOORAY!

Well he beat my prediction that he would be out by bonfire night by a long way… and what a relief that he has gone. I read of the good news in the Cathay Pacific lounge in Denpasar airport – no access to news or a phone for 10 days, so despair at our apalling start to the season and joy that he resigned.

Now for the good news… whoever is in charge (more later) just watch the players play from now on. It was clear that Ball had no respect from the team, there was no spirit – evidenced by bickering and results and he had to get out before he was pushed. Lee had to accept his resignation and I’m sure he was pleased… especially with the current pool of available managerial talent.

As for Ball whining about the press… not acceptable. The only way to keep them off your back is to win games and if you say you are going to bounce back… then you don’t do it by losing 2 of 3 games.

Frankly, I am much more optimistic now he’s gone… watch us play out of our socks from now on… buy some strategically good players… i.e. defence and striker and whoever is in charge can’t help but win… seriously! The team that takes to the pitch for the next game will have pride in playing for our glorious team and pity the opposition whoever they are!

As for new manager… firstly who is in charge now? Asa I suppose? Will he stay whoever comes in?

My choices are:

  1. Cruyff – if still available and he would be close to his son at the Swamp!
  2. Rioch – as he was first choice anyway.
  3. Book – yes good old Tony… why not? A true Blue if ever there was one!
  4. McMahon – but a bit of an unknown quantity.
  5. Graham – last because of boring, boring Arsenal – I do not like the wayteams under his control play. Lot of experience though.

Oh and finally… remember the article about Big Mal in Hong Kong – well he is available… but surely not… you never know!

Anyway… a big collective sigh of relief… wipe the slate clean and watch the Blues go!

Come on you Blues!

Phil Gregory (pg2356kb@netvigator.com)

OPINION – ANOTHER SLAP IN THE FACE FOR MCFC

Well at the time of writing Mr Graham has turned down the job of manager of the Blues. For all the people outside the U.K., Mr Graham was interviewed on the BBC radio station Five Live on MW. He said that he was sorry to hear that Ball had gone, but when asked if he was interested in the job he said he would be very interested. Well as I said in my last letter if there was not enough money to sign and keep players he would not come and at first glance I was right, but reading between the lines (something you get good at being a Blue) the feeling I now get is the money was not as much as he would have liked, but not that far off. I now feel that he was just letting everyone know he is still around, so back to square one.

Tony Hulme (ZA9OA08@TORI.MMU.AC.UK)

ANY GERMAN – BASED BLUES?

I am have been sent to Düsseldorf, Germany for a few months on business, so if there are any Blues out here then give me a shout.

As for Ball, I think it is the best for City, he wasn’t a manager – he couldn’t manage players. Mind you another vacancy at City is making the job at bit of a joke.

Anyone who takes the job has to be either:

  1. Bloody good at their job (Mercer); or
  2. Game on for the challenge of their life (Horton/Ball); or
  3. Plain stupid (Ball – and plenty of others).

It’s a similar job to that of England manager with fewer perks etc.

I don’t like saying this but it is true. I don’t know who would be best for us but the prospect of George Graham appeals. What about the idea of a duo-manager – of the Alison/Mercer rather than Alison/Book style?

One thing is for sure – I wouldn’t take the job!

Martin Reynolds (100633.416@CompuServe.COM)

OPINION – THE MANAGER, THE BOARD AND THE FUTURE

I know nothing about what is really happening at Maine Road (like the rest of you), but on Wednesday night, hearing that GG was 2/5 to take control, I worked out that if he turned it down, we were deep in the s**t. My analysis is as follows:

FL did not take a majority stake in the club, but left Swales, Boler and Greenalls all with stakes in excess of 20%. This was the only way FL could take control, and we the fans applauded. The other major shareholders, knowing how much pressure the fans were putting on FL, and knowing that the future for football shares was fairly bright, were in no rush to sell and could not be forced to sell: if FL had met their asking price, he would have run out of money to put into players, ground etc. So he ended up with only part of Wiggie’s and Boler’s stakes.

We will never know the extent of the club’s debts, but we do know there is an almighty overdraft, there are loans by FL, and there are loans by others, but how much, what rate of interest, what repayment terms etc., are unknowns.

If FL did put up millions, it is probable that he has had to take a back seat in terms of preference behind PJS, banks etc., leaving him very exposed (especially when the auditors reckon the whole shooting match, ground and all is only worth £3 million).

We do know that he had to find huge sums to build a decent stand (not a mickey mouser like the Platt Lane), in order that there could be any reasonable sized crowds, and therefore cash flow. We also know that he made sums available to Horton (Rösler, Walsh, Beagrie, Summerbee), Ball (too many to mention), and so we can guess where the money from Flipper etc., went. I imagine that each buying deal, however small, was achieved by FL strong-arming friends and colleagues to stand as surety. And I assume the interest terms we pay are extortionate.

Now, after FL’s work and money have gone into it, the outlook for the other shareholders is pretty bright. Sky money looks pretty good for them, they are probably ahead of FL in the creditors list (if they have learnt anything), and the share price has doubled and more. Boler is not a fan, and can only be doing it for the money, The Widow Swales cannot be expected to be very generous towards the club, and Greenalls are a big plc, with shareholders to satisfy. If they can make a trouble-free turn on their share they will.

So who will buy out these parasites? FL can’t, as if he were to buy another few percent, under company law he would have to make a bid for all the outstanding shares at the same price (probably around 10 million). So we are prone to other parasites like Sullivan, who could bid for up to 30%, or also bid for the whole lot (FL included), if he has got the money.

Now if you were FL, would you be the only person chucking money to fund new players, while waiting for that to happen? And if Sullivan offered you a get out would you take it? And if you did, would you immediately demand repayment of loans outstanding for the purchase of Frontzeck, Creaney and the rest? Painful as it might be, sometimes it seems easier to be just a rabid fan.

Now how did that phone conversation go …

GG:
OK Franny, how much for transfers?
FL:
Bugger All.
GG:
Then I’ll just have to sell Gio then.
FL:
Sorry the bank will want at least half of that. George, George, are you there…

There are three routes to salvation.

  1. Hang on for as long as it takes for FL to whittle down the debtmountain (two, three years, maybe all in Div II), allowing the shareprice to fall in the meantime and getting rid of the parasites in theprocess.
  2. Those who have the money must buy out the parasites, and make sumsavailable in the belief that capital injected into the club will bemoney well spent in the not too distant future. This means a few millionapiece from Noel, Wakeman, Rashman, and any other rich Blue you canthink of. Don’t imagine this can be achieved easily. You may say thatif you had it you would do it, but I bet Noel said that a few years ago,before investment advisors, managers and the like got to grips with him.
  3. There really is a consortium out there ready and waiting, they stepin quick with big bucks, GG calls FL back and says got you worried thereFranny, course I’ll take the job. But don’t hold your breath.

Please Franny, come a bit cleaner with us, own up to the fans, and don’t employ yet another third rate manager who will buy and sell, buy and sell, always losing out on each desperate deal. We have all had enough.

P.S. How about a very public and noisy boycott of Greenalls until we know what their position is. If they want out of City with a fat profit, let’s let them know that it is not a risk free route.

Martin J Beckett (martinjb@cdrompub.demon.co.uk)

OPINION – PREDICTIONS

When I heard Dalglish had left Blackburn, I put 2 and 2 together and decided this was the scenario.

He’s (Kenny Dalglish that is) done a deal with the Arabs: Ball goes, Kenny comes in with loads of Riyals or Dirhams or Dinars to take us to glory.

The only drawback is having to play in flowing dish-dash (Arab robes), but Kenny says they couldn’t play any worse than under Ball, and the merchandising would be phenomenal – more room to advertise than on a formula 1 racing car.

Well Ball has gone (bribed by our Middle Eastern friends?). The Arabs are waiting in the wings (with Kenny?). The Graham smokescreen has now evaporated, and Lee leaves a board meeting tight-lipped – probably trying to hang on to power. Rioch was a playing mate of Franny’s, and you know how your mates can make you look a right t**t, so I don’t see him in the picture.

So we will see if I’m going to get the other 2 parts of my prediction right (Kenny Dalglish and Arabs).

I was at Maine Road (at my sister’s) on Wednesday night and the reporters outside told us that Cruyff senior was inside … Interesting if true, but good for rumours anyway.

I went to Forest vs. Middlesbrough last Saturday (free ticket) and saw Ravanelli put in a performance so bad that even City would struggle to reach. Juninho was brilliant and Pearce is without equal in motivation and ability – a true captain – in an otherwise ordinary team.

I’m taking a Newcastle fan to Maine Road on Tuesday for the Charlton game, and I hope the lads don’t embarrass me too much, although Newcastle’s start to the season is as bad as ours, and cost them a lot more to achieve.

I knew if I kept going long enough I’d find something to be happy about!

B.T.W. thanks to S. Al Hamdani for a thoughtfully written piece.

Malcolm Plaiter (Malcolm@plaiter.demon.co.uk)

OPINION – FUN WHILE IT LASTED

It was fun while it lasted, the thought of a pedigree manager at the helm. Of course with City being involved there was never any chance of it succeeding, was there?

Was G.G. just advertising to all the Premier clubs that he was available?

Who do we turn to now? Is there anyone? There may be life on mars, but is there a manager on earth who would like a challenge? Please God not Jack Charlton, Harry Bassett or anyone like that. After a lot of thought the only name I can think of who could do the job is “El Tel”. Sorry I am getting too depressed to write any more, just going to slash my wrists.

Bob Buckton (bob.buckton@zen.co.uk)

RESULTS AND TABLE

Full time scores for Wednesday, August 28 1996

BARNSLEY                3-0    READING
STOKE CITY              0-0    BRADFORD CITY
SWINDON TOWN            1-0    OLDHAM ATHLETIC
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 1-1    QUEENS PARK RANGERS

Full-time scores for Tuesday, August 27 1996

CRYSTAL PALACE          0-0    WEST BROMWICH ALBION
IPSWICH TOWN            1-1    GRIMSBY TOWN
OXFORD UNITED           0-1    NORWICH CITY
PORTSMOUTH              1-0    SOUTHEND UNITED
TRANMERE ROVERS         2-0    PORT VALE

Full-time score for Sunday, August 25 1996

BARNSLEY                3-1    HUDDERSFIELD TOWN

Nationwide Leaugue Division 1 up to and including Wednesday, August 28

Team                  Played   Won  Drawn Lost     For Against   Points
Barnsley                 3      3     0     0       8     2         9
Stoke City               3      3     0     0       5     2         9
Tranmere Rovers          3      2     1     0       6     3         7
Bolton Wanderers         3      2     1     0       5     2         7
Wolverhampton Wanderers  3      2     1     0       5     2         7
Queens Park Rangers      3      2     1     0       5     3         7
Norwich City             3      2     0     1       4     3         6
Ipswich Town             3      1     1     1       6     4         4
Birmingham City          2      1     1     0       5     4         4
Crystal Palace           3      1     1     1       3     2         4
Swindon Town             3      1     1     1       2     3         4
Oxford United            3      1     0     2       6     3         3
Bradford City            3      1     0     2       3     3         3
Huddersfield Town        2      1     0     1       3     3         3
Portsmouth               3      1     0     2       3     5         3
Reading                  3      1     0     2       3     8         3
Manchester City          3      1     0     2       2     3         3
West Bromwich Albion     3      0     2     1       2     3         2
Port Vale                3      0     2     1       2     4         2
Sheffield United         2      0     1     1       4     5         1
Grimsby Town             3      0     1     2       4     7         1
Charlton Athletic        2      0     1     1       1     3         1
Southend United          3      0     1     2       1     7         1
Oldham Athletic          3      0     0     3       2     6         0

Russell Town (russ@the-edge.u-net.com)

BLUE HUMOUR

Sent by a Blackpool supporter:

Ball goes home to his wife after a day spent turning BFC into a donkey sanctuary. Ball’s wife is felling randy and says ‘Alan, I’d like you to do to me what you have done to Blackpool Football Club – only can you do it a bit slower’

Ashley

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


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


Thanks to Paul, David, Dominic, Bob, Joel, Matt, Stuart, Jeremy, Svenn,Nick, Paul (x2), John, Mark, Steve (x2), Stuart, Sam, Barry, Dave (x2),Martin (x3), Fraser, Tony (x2), Mike, The Mole, Roger, Glen, Phil, Russell & Malcolm.


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 #224

1996/08/29

Editor:


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