Newsletter #228

Next game, Crystal Palace away, Saturday 14th September 1996


Another manager has become available for consideration – Howard Wilkinson. Wilko was sacked by Leeds on Monday after Saturday’s 4-0 defeat at Elland Road against the Rags. Wilkinson took over at Leeds in 1988 when they were in a very similar position to where we are now. He took them to a League Championship, a few trips into Europe and the League Cup final last season. Of course, there’s now also a vacancy at a top Premiership club so we’ll see if our mate George Graham is interested…

A few players took knocks in the defeat by Barnsley on Saturday: Andy Dibble pulled out of training with a hip injury and may not be fit to face Port Vale. John Foster is definitely out with a groin strain and Nicky Summerbee is doubtful with a hamstring strain. Scott Hiley will probably be out for the rest of the season and Alan Kernaghan will be unavailable for a month or two due to the injuries they sustained in the Charlton game. Better news for Ian Brightwell though, who may return after missing two games with an achilles strain. Asa Hartford is still looking for loan replacements but there’s no sign as yet of anybody joining City.

No less than three possible takeover bids have been mentioned over the weekend.

  1. From the Arab consortium, who have now named the man behind the bid andmay thus get to talk to the board now,
  2. From the Wigan Athletic chairman Dave Whelan, whose personal fortune isreckoned to be around £130 million, and, wait for it…
  3. From some current shareholders in Manchester United! It’s possible thatthis may be something to do with the Elliot Rashman story from last week,though the nightmare scenario of them wanting us as a nursery club is alsoa possibility. Surely not?

Francis Lee commented on the takeover rumours today, saying that he had made confidentiality agreements with no less than 6 possible investors in recent months (so that they could be shown the books) but nothing further came of any of them. Indeed, one was said to have broken the agreement and made statementsin the press about City’s financial state.

In a separate interview, Sheffield United chairman Mike McDonald said he’d been approached 3 times in the last year about investing in City. He thought it was rather sad.

The Mole


Lads (Don’t forget the ladies – Steve), I love this club. Redemption at last! I joke not. My international lifestyle now sees me living in Nice. Guess what? It’s a Knockout is still going strong in France! It’s unbelievable to watch. So I got to thinking… Why not get that famous blue, Stuart Hall to take over at the Academy, round up a few of the depressed lads/drunks coming out after our next Charlton style performance, dress them up as a few rubber giants, get the squad into snail/ lemming/ headless chicken/ ostrich/ and humpty dumpty suits (suggestions for most appropriate player welcome), get Uncle Arthur (Franny) on the whistle and trois-deux-un (3-2-1), we’ve got ourselves a European trophy! (more than the swampmonsters have).

It’s huge here! Even Marseille and Monaco don’t get a look in. I really think Stuart could do the business in (IAKO) Euro’97. This is also the only equal playing field I see for Kernaghan. As I type, they are actually using a live bull charging carts and giant snails… I wish we still had AB.

Do you all think I’m nuts or is it just 26 years of being Blue taking over? There’s even a rôle for Patsy Kensit to wear some coloured leather and introduce the joker… Liam (or Eddie and Sid or Blue Bernard)!

This is the only way I see us winning owt in the next three years.

P.S. Where do you suggest meeting points for QPR and Swindon away? I’ll supply the venues for Avignon, and Grenoble in IAKO.

P.P.S. Is It’s a Knockout home and away? We may need to revise plans for the ground development and the leccy scoreboard and probably get some giant slides and water pools sorted. Maybe Brother could sew the costumes? (or even the defence together?).

Regards and thanks to all Blues and Kronenbourg 1664, Fandango (Carlos Fandango and his super wide humour).

Huw Thomas (


Following are some details from a Sunday Times article from (1/9/96) headlined “Saudi Prince Eyes his Maine Chance” by Chris Lightbown. I have no idea of the degree to which it is based on fantasy, but Ceefax and Teletext both had stories today saying that Lee denied reports that he had turned down the chance of a £70m cash injection, because he would not let certain people look at City’s books. Anyway…

The report states that the man involved is Saudi Prince Al Waleed who is looking to invest £70m to make the Blues the leading club in England. He is a billionaire with a reputation for taking over blue-chip businesses that have fallen on hard times. He swooped on Eurodisney (and will therefore have experience of Mickey Mouse outfits) and Canary Wharf when they were threatened by cashflow problems. His biggest coup was buying a large chunk of Citicorp, the USA’s biggest bank, in the late 1980s. Basically he targets big outfits that have hit cashflow problems. His approach is patient, he lets the people who understand the relevant project get on with it and is no asset-stripper.

The Prince asked his advisors to find a suitable premier team last season, and relegation made City (with rumoured debts of £20m) the perfect choice i.e. they were under-capitalised with a far bigger growth potential than any other top-flight club.

His advisors contacted MCFC, the idea being that Lee stayed on as Chairman and as a minor financial partner. However, Lee stated that he wanted £20m for a 60% stake in the club, giving FL a £14m profit on his investment. This was unacceptable to Al-Waleed who, it is reported, has now switched tactics, aiming for a full takeover bid, with it thought that he could get the club for £16m.

The Prince is said to be advised by English-born Sean Coughlin, a man who works as an adviser to Middle Eastern businessmen seeking investments in Europe. Former player, Jim Melrose, is also said to be advising the Prince’s team. With the ground virtually rebuilt(!), it is thought the money would be targeted on new players and a new manager. Lightbown also claims that Al Waleed’s past record would imply that Kinky would be retained (presumably this is because Eurodisney refused substantial bids for both Goofy and Pluto from Alton Towers).

The article seems very favourable to Al Waleed, and scepticism might be the best policy!

On a more certain factual basis… from Ceefax:

  • Tony Woodcock, now a top coach in Germany, has formally applied for the City job.
  • Bassett has denied he has been approached by the Blues, despite rumours that he is on their short-list.
  • Wilkinson is said also to be on their list.
  • We’ve signed Derby’s defender Darren Wassall on loan.

Dan Rigby (


GMR reports this morning (Tuesday) that Prince Al-Waleed has given up on City and is to turn his attention alsewhere.

The Mole


Why not give Howard Wilkinson the chance to put things right at City?

OK, Leeds sacked him but it was less than a year ago that the FA were ready to offer him the England job!

Face it, we can’t get any worse (can we?) so why not let Wilko have a go. It’s not as though he’s got the same flair for taking teams down as Alan Ball is it!

When he took over at Leeds they were about second or third from bottom in the old second division… even we aren’t at that stage… yet!

After winning promotion as second division champions, Wilko led Leeds to the first division title and Charity Shield, gave the fans two seasons in Europe and a Wembley appearance in last year’s Coca-Cola Cup final. This form hardly compares with Alan Ball’s resume does it?

I say give Wilko a shot at managing us – for three reasons:-

  1. He’s a proven successful manager.
  2. He hates the Rags.
  3. He managed to win the first division title with Lee Chapman upfront… any man who can achieve that will be able to work wonders atMaine Road.

Jon Walsh (


Sports news on Virgin radio this morning (Tuesday 10/9) said that El-Tel could be interested in the Man City manager position. It was also said that he was looking at Leeds and QPR, having no contractual obligations with Portsmouth where he is Director of Football. Probably just idle speculation IMO. It seems that any manager who is currently out of work is being linked with the club.

D.P.Burke (


Maybe for the first time this season City didn’t deserve to lose on Saturday. There’s a long way to go before City are a good side but there were some encouraging signs. Like they had some idea of what defending is. Foster looked good; we could do with a few more like him – he put in some good tackles and even indulged in a bit of shirt pulling. Basically, he did what certain other players (bald German ones, for instance) don’t seem to want to do, namely going within six feet of an opposing player and trying to take the ball off him.

When are we going to get a replacement for Frontzeck? Bald people can’t play football. It’s the law. There are very few exceptions to this rule, only Steve Stone and that Agnew bloke at Sunderland. As for Whitley, he looked superb. I just hope that back pass doesn’t destroy his confidence – he looked to have plenty of it. Is Summerbee any good or not? I can’t make up my mind. I think he’s just not trying. He needs a good kick up the arse to get him going.

It seems to me that the current problem lies in the midfield. They aren’t working together, they aren’t giving Dickov and Uwe the service they need, and when the ball does go forward a few more players should be going forward. It’s no good having a couple of players in the Barnsley penalty area when most of Barnsley have got back to defend. It’s all very well Kinky getting the ball and dancing around a bit, but when he’s got three or four Barnsley players on him and can’t get it forward, that’s the time to pass the ball because he’s taken those three or four out of the game. But even when there’s someone to pass to, he doesn’t do it. Kinky’s heart isn’t in it any more. He wants (and deserves) to play in a better league and all he’s interested in doing for City is doing a bit of fancy footwork for ten minutes of each game to please the crowd and stop them turning against him. It’s time he was sold, while we can still get some serious cash for him. If he carries on playing for City, the midfield won’t get sorted out and he may just get injured, and then he won’t be worth a penny.

Sorry, had to get that off my chest. Kinky fans can start sending me hate mail now if you want. One final thought – who gets to wear the Moonchester suit? Is it a punishment for someone who hasn’t played well? Maybe a few matches in the blue alien suit might do Summerbee some good.

Got a bad case of the Blues… Julian Griffiths (


With the miracle of modern science (Sky TV) I’ve managed to keep in touch with the problems associated with Maine Road whilst I’ve been on holiday in Lanzarote; mind you nothing ever seems to run smoothly at the Academy.

First it was the news Stoke had won 2-1 (not altogether surprised).

Saw the Rags draw 2-2 with Rovers.

Then came the best news I could have hoped for, AB had done the decent thing and resigned! What a night of celebration lay ahead.

So who would take over the reins at Maine Road? That seemed to be one of the major talking points. Would it be George Graham, Bruce Rioch, ‘Harry’ Bassett? The likely favourite seemed to be Graham, who even went as far as to publicly offer his services in the papers. Then as soon as he discusses his appointment with the club, he suddenly changes his mind and backs off. So what’s the problem (has it ever been truly admitted to?)? It appears as though George would have been given a decent salary but the sticking point was the funds available to strengthen the team. So off Graham trots into the sunset. Yes, I’d have liked to see him at Maine Road but you’ve gotta admire the guy for walking away from the club; at least he had the decency to not accept a fat paycheck and take the fans for a ride (either that or he saw what a s**t state the club is really in).

Things just seem to get worse from here, what with various names being banded around but all of them rejecting the job. Then came the news that Asa had even decided he didn’t want the job.

So City lurched from potential manager to potential manager and the Charlton game was soon upon us. Managerless, playing the bottom team and the results showed a 2-1 win, so I thought things must be getting better. I saw the goals and thought the penalty a ‘little dubious’ but that free-kick was something else – how many times have ones from similar postitions boomed into the stands? We sat there unbelieving, then the japes started that he’d mishit it, he was aiming for the top corner, of the stand! Then the reports flooded in telling me how crap City really were, but never mind a win’s a win.

So home I flew, away from the my hols and all those Rags that were wandering around. Then I got the first hand reports of how bad City were against Charlton, maybe I should have stayed on hols!

So my first game back, against Barnsley. Gawd we were bad, but from what people have said it was a vast improvement over the Charlton game. City just didn’t seem to have a clue, the most frustrating thing was the lack of support to the strikers! The only time the midfield got forward. Lomas shot wide and Cloughie scored. Our best player was Jeff Whitley (and Foster); maybe if some of the more experienced players showed the same sort of commitment and enthusiasm as these young players them we’d get out of the mire we’re currently in! To be perfectly honest, I didn’t think we deserved even a goal let alone a point that we might have sneaked except for Whitley’s error.

Where was our illustrious leader FHL when we most need him? Off in Spain for a business (golf) trip. Or was he trying to convince John Toshack to leave Deportivo La Coruña and come and manage City as one of the Sunday tabloids mentioned! Anybody else notice that there was hardly anyone in the directors’ box on Saturday, hhmmmm?

I see the oil sheikh has been named, so maybe there could be movement on that front. Also seen where he’s spent his money in the past, Euro Disney and Canary Wharf, so he’s used to throwing money around at dead losses, just what we need! 🙂

Martin Ford (


Born in Edgbaston, 27 June 1968. Wassall is a 5′-11″ tall centre-back and a specialist in man to man marking. He’s also a competent right back when required. Coming through Nottingham Forest’s books as an apprentice, he made his d