Newsletter #343

There were problems with a server upgrade at U-Net on Thursday (and subsequent days clearing the backlog) so MCIVTA 342 failed to appear and furthermore, several articles didn’t make it to my mailbox ’til Saturday; these are in this issue despite the fact that they are less topical then they otherwise would have been!

We have a 2 match reports, matchviews (both old and new!), news of MCIVTA badges, a venue for the Tribal Gathering 5-a-side, a latin motto competition (!), an incisive view of why it’s better to be Blue than Red, bags of opinion and an excellent Why Blue.

This one reaches 1,693.

Next game, Port Vale at home, Tuesday 4th November 1997


OXFORD UNITED vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 1st November 1997

Just after two, I left college and jiggled along the Marston cycle path towards Headington, reaching the Manor Ground fifteen minutes before kickoff, dreaming of a repeat of February. Instead of that, the anxious Blue faithful on the Cuckoo Lane terrace had to endure a dismal hoof-it in which neither side really looked like scoring.

City promised more at the start though, with Dickov shooting just over in the second minute. Fifteen minutes later came the best chance of the match for City. The Oxford ‘keeper, Arjan Van Heusden, fumbled Dickov’s cross, Greenacre should have put it away but he shot straight at the ‘keeper and van Blerk skied the rebound. Kevin Horlock then had a couple of shots just off target, one from a direct free-kick just outside the box. That seemed to be it. For the remaining hour City had two weak headers and a few corners (“When was the last time we’ve scored from a corner? About three years ago…” said the bloke behind me), all of which Van Heusden caught almost languidly, as the match descended into a scrappy midfield ball-thumping. In the 35th minute, Oxford had the ball in the net but it was disallowed; otherwise Wright had little enough to do aside from gather the odd header, commanding his box and watching the Oxford forwards’ rugby conversions. For Oxford, only their commanding centre-half Brian Wilsterman and that dirty diving ******* Joey Beauchamp caught the eye. A powerful shot just over in the 89th minute gave the Blue faithful a typical City scare, and then we were filing through the turnstiles, expletives filling the air. It was one of the dullest and most depressing matches I’ve seen. Even granted that only three of the players from that 4-1 were playing this time round and the officiating left much to be desired, how could it have changed so completely from ‘Brazil’ to ‘paint dry’?


Wright – 7 – He did just about everything right but let’s face it, he wasn’t really tested.
Vaughan – 4 – Was that Bob in disguise? If he backed off any more he’d have hit the advertising hoarding.
Wiekens – 6 – Handful of mistakes but otherwise stabilising at the back.
Jeff Whitley – 6 – Ran here, there, got stuck in.
Symons – 3 – One important tackle in the six-yard box on 65 minutes but otherwise slow and mispositioned, and his passing made the bloke behind me shout “Whose side are you on?”
Edghill – 5.5 – Comfortable enough at right-back, but some improvement on the passing needed.
Brannan – 3 – Was he really on the pitch?
Horlock – 6.5 – Provided what little bite there was in midfield but faded in the second half.
van Blerk – 6 – Linked well with Horlock on the left.
Greenacre – 6 – Not bad, tried, but has to learn to get into useful positions for himself and should have scored.
Dickov – 8 – Here, there, everywhere… looked as if he wanted to win, and was involved in virtually all the chances or promising moves. If only he were taller or FC would start the team playing at zero altitude. Purse and Wilsterman easily dealt with any high balls in his vicinity.
Morley (on for Greenacre) – 6.5 – Decent game but why did FC bring on yet another central defender for a striker? Is the 7-2-1 formation the latest match-winning tactic?

Unused subs: Crooks, Scully.

Roll on Port Vale… CTID! Toh Hsien Min (


OXFORD UNITED vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 1st November 1997

My previous two visits to the Manor Ground had seen City score four goals on each occasion, so there was a small degree of optimism at the back of my mind that our goal drought might come to an end on Saturday. Arriving at the ground at 12:45 or so, my brother and I made our way to the White Horse which was already packed with Blues. Not surprising, when you consider that the place is managed by a couple of exiled Blues, they had virtually non-stop Oasis on the jukebox and to cap it all, a big screen showing videos of City when times were better. We met up with a number of MCIVTA/Blue View contributors and had an enjoyable pre-match session before heading up to the ground for the main event.

There was only one surprise in the team, the “resting” of Michael Brown after his exertions against Crewe on Wednesday. His place went to Jason van Blerk, resulting in the following line-up:

    Symons    Wiekens   Vaughan
Edghill  Brannan  Horlock  van Blerk
            Jeff Whitley
        Dickov    Greenacre

On the bench were Lee Crooks, Dave Morley and Tony Scully.

City opened quite brightly and had the first effort on goal in the second minute when Dickov struck a 25-yarder just over the bar. Greenacre could have scored in the 17th minute when Oxford ‘keeper Van Heusden spilled a Dickov cross at his feet, but the ‘keeper recovered well to block Greenacre’s on-target effort and Jason van Blerk blasted the rebound over the bar from the edge of the area. However, these were City’s only real chances of the game and that highlights the problems the Blues are having right now: creating chances and scoring goals. Without the inspiration of Kinkladze, City looked pretty clueless when it came to breaking down the Oxford defence. There was lots of hustle and bustle from Greenacre and Dickov (particularly) but they got little support from midfield and there was no end product.

It is fortunate therefore that the defence is starting to look meaner. With Wiekens in the middle organising things, both Symons and Vaughan looked stronger and more confident. In fact, I would say this was Vaughan’s best game yet for City so far, making a number of solid tackles at important times. However, the game wasn’t without its scares, in particular when Bobby Ford headed home a first-half corner only to see referee Orr disallow it for pushing. Mr. Orr was very fussy, booking six players (four from City) in a game which wasn’t bad-tempered at all.

The second half saw even less in the way of goalmouth action than the first, so in a bid to change the game around, Chris Greenacre was replaced by David Morley. At first this seemed a very negative move, taking off a striker to put on a defender, but it soon became clear that Morley was on as a striker. Indeed, he showed some good touches in midfield, setting up City’s best move of the second half with some neat skills and with Paul Dickov added to the injured list, could find himself playing up front again this week. “We’ve looked at the possibility of trying to convert David into a front player because we think he might have a good chance there and it’s certainly something we shall be exploring in the future,” said Frank Clark after the game. “I thought David did very well, although he was driving me crazy when we were getting throw-ins on the edge of their box. He was coming short for the ball and trying to set things up. I’d have preferred Paul Dickov to be doing that because he is five feet nothing and I wanted David in the box instead heading the ball in the net but that was just his enthusiasm to get into the game,” he added.

Towards the end Oxford mounted quite a lot of pressure on the City goal, with corners and long throws in particular. Morley’s presence helped here too, and Tommy Wright, who had a quiet afternoon really, was on hand when called upon. Not a lot to get excited about, but it’s a point away from home and a clean sheet. The way things have been going, I suppose it’s a start. Frank Clark seems to think so: “Seven days ago if you had said that we would get four points from two matches I would have been absolutely delighted,” he said. “We have put in two workmanlike performances against Crewe and Oxford with two clean sheets. We will make the draw at Oxford a much better result if we can win the next two home games in the space of four days. We didn’t create enough chances at Oxford. I can’t remember us missing any clear cut chances and I would have hoped we’d have created more opportunities.”

Paul Howarth (


The first proper outing of my Kappa shirt, even if I did have to hide it under my jacket. Some positive reflections on seeing City at The Manor. I regularly go to see Oxford play even though I am a life-long City fan. I had no problem knowing who I wanted to win. City started at a breakneck pace which they maintained through the entire match. The team showed commitment and snapped at the heels of Oxford who never managed to settle on the ball. Some of Oxford’s forwards were frustrated as I have never seen them before. They were not allowed to play and did not like it. Oxford’s forwards like making runs, City’s defence just did not let them get going. I have never heard the Oxford fans booing their team off the pitch before. They are realistic about what they may achieve but just did not like their team not being allowed to play, even if they lose. The Oxford Mail gave the team a real pasting tonight. Back to City’s commitment. I could not see who it actually was (McGoldrick?) who made an extraordinary diving header to get the ball off Les Robinson’s foot when he would certainly have scored, but I think it was the most foolhardy interception I have ever seen. The Oxford fans around me could not believe he actually did it. They were impressed by his bravery. City dominated the last quarter of an hour or so, mainly due to their superior fitness. They just would not slow down. Oxford were clearly very weary, something I have not seen before. They were happy to hear the whistle.

John Wilson (


The day started off quite nicely. I found a ‘not too far away’ parking space, and had already spotted two people who had E mailed me last week offering to meet up. By virtue of excellent descriptions, I met Tony ‘the tattooed donkey’ Hulme and his girlfriend, Helen. What they had omitted to tell me, via E mail, was that they try to consume as many bottles of Stella as they can in an hour! Anyway, I helped them out and we ambled up to Cuckoo Lane and arrived as the teams took to the pitch. I don’t really know who was playing for us, apart from Dickov, Whitley, Wright, Symons, van Burke and Greenacre.

Oxford were playing with twelve men – the referee played a good game for the opposition. He gave Oxford nearly all the free kicks, booked hardly anyone, and consistently stopped us from playing advantage when a foul had been committed by Oxford. The only time the referee was on our side, was when he disallowed an Oxford goal after about half an hour. I don’t think many City fans realised Oxford had scored – probably just as well. The emotions on the stand were mixed. All credit to Tony for trying to get the fans singing. It was very quiet. Even some gits behind me had the cheek to take the p**s out of Tony’s attempts at morale boosting. Why do fans go to a game and moan all the way through? Why can’t they get behind the team and encourage them? I know it’s a lost cause with City, but we have the passion and the supporters to make an impression. Anyway the result was a good one for us. Two games on the trot that we haven’t lost. The bloke outside who was selling the fanzine and calling it ‘the turning the corner’ issue was very optimistic.

Just for the record – Dickov once again, played his legs off, Whitley also and a few sundry taller people. Symons can go and take van Burke with him – nice to see Tommy Wright, Wright, Wright back in goal.

Just for reference – could we have better meeting up points for away games? This is the first time that I’ve actually connected with any other MCIVTA people, although apologies to Nigel Wild who did make a good effort only for me not to be brave enough to venture inside the White Horse.

Port Vale next then. Perhaps we can make it three in a row?

Alison Prior (


What was in store for us tonight at the theatre of comedy?

After the Reading rubbish I decided to have a sulk and not bother with Stoke or QPR, but having heard the rumour that “the kids” would be playing tonight thought I had to make the effort to cheer them on. Could they possibly be worse? The absence of Kinky (was he trying to overtake Schumacher I wonder?) made it even more interesting, although strangely enough our best run of last year came when he was out for 6-7 games.

When I actually saw the team I was quite pleased with one major exception: Brannan. How the hell does he keep his place? To accomodate him Horlock played at left back, putting van Blerk (who always seems to play well when I see him) on the bench. Surely Horlock is a more accomplished central midfield player than Brannan: he is wasted at left back and is much worse in that position than van Blerk (Horlock never takes anyone on down the outside and doesn’t tackle – not to mention giving dodgy goals away à la Bury). Bobby B was absent – hopefully dropped never to return, although I heard a rumour that it was through injury and will probably get his place back.

Regarding Crewe. They were OK (compared with the rest of this s***e division) – at least they tried to play a bit of football and had a couple of very accomplished young lads in midfield. It says an awful lot about the standard of Division 1 when I say things like “Crewe were OK”! We didn’t beat them on ability at all, but for once (and when was the last time this happened?) – we won a scrappy game by outfighting the opposition. Not what we want in the long run, but better than lying down and taking it as usual.

Form guide:

Tommy W (7): Sound as a pound. To be honest I didn’t really notice it was him until 60-odd minutes as he’s had a bit of a MM-lookalike haircut. All the rest of the fans around me in the Kippax kept on shouting Martyn also – so I wasn’t the only one fooled! Feel a bit sorry for MM as he’s not really had any bad games but apparently Tommy “organises the defence” better and is more vocal. Well I’m all for that then. Kit Symons take note!
Edghill (6): Steady. Some good runs and tackles, some awful distribution. Played really well on his return but seems to have gone off a bit since (has had some scathing reports recently on MCIVTA).
Symons (5-6): Steady to dodgy. Was up against a big black lad who looked a bit of a handful. Therefore, you stand off him a bit as there’s no way he’ll turn you. Kit, probably conscious of recent criticism, continually tried to get a foot in and continually gave away petty free kicks. Major problem was the characteristic pair of howlers, I mean major, major (give a goal away) howlers. One of these (an attempted square header across the edge of the 18-yard box) was just so bad, but fortunately Vaughan was onto it and saved the day with a crunching tackle (Bobby B would not have saved that one).
Vaughan (8): Solid. Fell for one outrageous dummy in the first half when the Crewe forward turned him inside-out and should have scored. However, was very solid indeed in the second half. In fact, thinking about it he wasn’t really that solid – but bloody ‘ell compared with what’s gone on before…
Horlock (7): Totally wasted at left back. As soon as he went into midfield looked better.
Brown (7): Aggressive. Worked very hard without the ball. Not too good when in possession of the ball – tended to drift towards defenders instead of getting into space. However, much improved on what’s gone before (i.e. Summerbee, McGoldrick, Brannan).
Whitley (7): Same as Brown. Not as good defensively, but slightly better in attack. My main point about him is his fitness level. He always seems to be totally knackered, which is obviously a credit and shows a high level of commitment. However, he seems to get totally knackered a little too easily. Was awarded MoM at the ground though – and could easily have scored a couple (one screamer hit the post after bringing it down neatly on his chest).
Brannan (5): Never appears to be totally knackered! I must admit he played better than the “total s***e” of my Reading report. Really, he has put in enough bad performances to be out of the team for some considerable time, and it seems most unfair that he is picked ahead of the likes of van Blerk, Wiekens (when he was dropped), Scully, Morley, Beesley, Brown etc.
Wiekens (8): Very good game. A couple of early errors, but recovered well. The goal was his really – with a powerful header which was just saved with Greenacre knocking in the rebound. He is very comfortable on the ball, creates space well and passes intelligently. Fluctuated in playing just in front of and just behind the centre backs, which worked OK.
Dickov (7): Typically aggressive and hard working, although, as with Brown, a little disappointing when we had the ball (superb for effort/tackling when they had it).
Greenacre (6): Similar to Dickov and Brown. Put the effort in, but didn’t really look like scoring (although, he did do, of course!).

Scully (8): Very fast and dangerous for 20 minutes.
van Blerk (7): Solid. Not on for long enough.
Barry “give us a wave” Conlon: I think I’ll give him an 8 for entertainment value, even though he didn’t touch the ball in the nanosecond he was on the pitch. However, got some massive cheering going from the home fans “Barry, Barry”.

The game itself was quite entertaining (unlike Reading), although the overall quality of football was poor. Crewe played it out from the back but didn’t really threaten until a diagonal ball caught us wide open. Vaughan, in an attempt to get across to cover was turned inside and out (where was Kit? ans: upfield having given the ball away) but the Crewe stiker (?) missed a sitter. Then they hit the post with a hard low shot, resulting in a massive (comical) scramble to get it away. Class defending not. City were battling hard and were quite committed, but the Crewe centre backs (one of whom looked quite cool under pressure) had Dickov and Greenacre well in control. We only looked dangerous down the right, with Edghill and Whitley getting in some good positions. We had a few long(ish) range shots and corners where we looked dangerous (City – dangerous from corners?). In fact, it was from a corner where we scored – see above. Horlock was quite neat throughout – but far, far too deep to cause any danger – and also very reluctant to go any further forward. Brannan tended to slow attacks down when linking with Edghill and Whitley. Dickov and Greenacre worked manfully but didn’t have much support and don’t have the physical presence to do it on their own. Badbuy (despite not scoring) is being missed from that point of view.

Overall, a (just about) deserved win based on endeavour rather than ability – but that is exactly what has been absent recently, so was quite welcome. Based on this game, Vaughan and Brown should be given a run in the team and Whitley deputise until Kinky is back. Horlock must play in midfield and not at full back, especially when we have a pretty competent full back who is continually being dropped or substituted after playing OK (VB). The likes of Brightwell, McG, Summerbee, Heaney and Brannan should never see the light of day again. Symons is still on borrowed time as well – surely Morley and Beesley must be knocking on the door?

Only 12 points off 2nd place with a game in hand (don’t worry about those other teams with games in hand as well (e.g. Sheff U) [The Optimist]

One final point is that I am going to be very, very disppointed with the club if they decide to put this “bumble bee” yellow and black shirt up for sale to the fans. I anticipated problems when I saw the new away kit for when we play the likes of QPR, Reading, Stockport (they do still play in blue and white stripes don’t they?) and Huddersfield – as our change strip is not exactly a million miles away from our home kit (i.e. blue and white!). So I predicted that a 3rd strip would appear at some stage and sincerley do not hope that FHL has his commercial head on and tries to rip off the fans (like certain other clubs with 77 kits per decade). Then again, the amount of time it has taken Kappa to produce the long sleeved laser blue shirts, there’s not much chance of that happening is there. Any comments?

David Johnson (


Gio Kinkladze was involved in a car crash on Tuesday night, but although the car (his new Ferrari 335 GT Testerossa) looks to be a write-off, Kinkladze escaped with a lacerated back and some bruises. He was driving home with his friend Ian Ogden (who also suffered minor injuries) when he lost control of the car on a roundabout on the A538 at Hale. A witness said: “The back end swung round and hit a bridge before demolishing a road sign. Both of them were thrown out of the car onto the roadside.” Kinkladze was taken to Wythenshawe Hospital where he had 30 stitches in cuts to his back. Several City staff went to see him before he discharged himself and moved to a private hospital in Bolton where he spent the night. He has been back at Platt Lane since Wednesday but must is considered very doubtful for the game at Oxford on Saturday. “We’ll see how he is over the next 36 or 48 hours before deciding whether he can play at Oxford on Saturday,” said Frank Clark, who went on to comment about the player’s future at the club: “I still think that with the players we have we can turn things around, especially with Georgi in the side. But obviously, if we don’t improve, he might decide he wants to leave. He hasn’t got an option in his contract to that effect but he knows he is dealing with honourable people and if he decides it’s time to go then, all things being equal, he will be allowed to leave.”

Other news from the treatment room: Ian Brightwell’s hamstring injury looks certain to keep him out of the side: “There is no way he will be fit,” said Frank Clark. Eddie McGoldrick has an outside chance of recovering from a knock to the knee but Clark may elect to stick with the midfield pairing of Michael Brown and Jeff Whitley, who proved so combative against Crewe on Wednesday. Uwe Rösler and Lee Bradbury have both been in training but are by no means certain to be fit for the weekend. “Lee has one of those injuries where he seems very close to returning and then is unable to make that final step,” said Frank Clark.

Martyn Margetson has spoken today (Thursday) of his “complete devastation” at being dropped by manager Frank Clark for the return of Tommy Wright between the sticks against Crewe on Wednesday. “I thought I had done well this season and the manager’s decision leaves me devastated. It is so disappointing as I have been here a long time and really thought that I had established myself.” Clark described it as the hardest decision he has ever had to make as a manager: “We brought Tommy back because of his experience and we felt this was the right time. Tommy was brought to the club as the number one ‘keeper but Martyn has done well and it was hard having to tell him of my decision.”

Rumour has it that Port Vale are interested in signing City’s transfer-listed 24-year-old defender John Foster, as a replacement for their ex-City man Andy Hill who has requested to be put on the transfer list. It is thought that City will want around £100,000 for Foster, who scored the first of City’s two goals in the Maine Road reserve game against Vale on Monday night. The visitors were two goals ahead but Foster and then substitute Tony Scully (on for Neil Heaney after spending 5 days in hospital with a foot infection recently) saved a point for the Blues.

Paul Howarth (


Francis Lee is reported to have been “surprised” by rumours that Virgin tycoon Richard Branson was set to buy out City’s major shareholder Stephen Boler. “We have heard nothing about it and I would be surprised if Richard Branson wanted to go public, if he was interested in buying a club,” said Lee. A report in the MEN added that City were said to be satisfied with their reshaped financial structure and are not looking for big-money backers.

Gio Kinkladze has said that he is happy at City and is optimistic about being able to play against Port Value tomorrow. “I want to play soon and I want people to know that I am still very happy to play for City,” said Kinkladze. He described as “absolute rubbish” comments attributed to his friend and countryman Shota Arveladze which suggested that Kinkladze had lost patience at Maine Road and wanted to leave. The Georgian midfielder made his position clear at a news conference at the Platt Lane training complex on Monday lunchtime: “I’m happy at Manchester City and have no wish to leave. I read in the papers that I was supposed to be unsettled. It had apparently come from my agent in Holland but I spoke to him and he never said he spoke to the papers. I love the City fans and respect everyone at the club.” Meanwhile, Frank Clark has said that Kinkladze will play against Port Vale at Maine Road tomorrow night, providing that he suffers no overnight reaction to the injuries he sustained in last week’s car crash. However, this could just be a bit of kidology to keep Vale guessing, as Kinkladze was included in the squad for Oxford when there was no intention of him playing.

Lee Bradbury, Uwe R