Newsletter #351

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Well, I don’t think many of us will have been surprised by the result, however, to be 3-0 down at half time was something I hadn’t personally bargained for. It seems the boo-boys got the upper hand again on Saturday; I for one hope that this disappointing attitude isn’t going to be a fixture of away games as well homes; maybe Stockport doesn’t count as an away?

The big news is that Kit Symons has been relieved of the captaincy of the team, but retains the captaincy of the club. FC was on GMR blaming the fans for this; I do have to wonder at the sincerity of such statements as, although the fans have given him a lot of stick, Symons’ dismal form has in my opinion made this move inevitable.

This issue has a couple of match reports and match views, news of the new captain, much opinion and a Why Blue.

This one reaches 1,764

Next game, West Bromwich Albion away, Tuesday 2nd December 1997

MATCH REPORT – ‘LIVE’

STOCKPORT COUNTY vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 29th November 1997

Final score: 3-1

Don’t slit your wrists just yet!

Okay, the first half of this game was the most appalling City performance I have ever seen. There was no pride, commitment or passion shown and they basically looked like they thought they just had to turn up to win. This was so bad I was choking back the tears. Even relegation didn’t do that to me because I believed that we didn’t deserve to get relegated – I thought we’d just have to **ss about for a bit in the First Division before taking up our rightful place in the Premiership. This (first-half) performance showed we have a long way to go before we’re ever anywhere near that again.

Stockport started really strongly, with just one tactic: route one. They did nothing all game but hoof it forward, which puts the City performance in an even worse light. If we can’t defend against route one football what chance is there for us?

Saying that, their first goal was brilliant. 25, 30 yards out, Paul Cook belted it into the top of the net over Margetson. I haven’t seen any replays so I can’t comment re: who to blame but once that ball left his foot there was not much chance of anyone stopping it.

Their second was an absolute joke, in fact, the referee was a joke the whole game. Cook swung in a corner and one of their thugs took Margetson out as the ‘keeper tried to collect the cross and Armstrong headed it in. No one could believe the ref allowed it. For the whole game, the ref was pulling City up for minor offences but allowed County to kick the s**t out of us. He was giving them throw-ins when it was obvious they were City’s, giving goal-kicks when they should have been City corners. He was a disgrace.

So, after ten minutes, a wonder goal and a goal that should have been disallowed, County were two-nil up. Not that they didn’t deserve it. They did. City couldn’t even win possession never mind keep it, and when they did get possession the ball ultimately was offloaded to Margetson, Vaughan, Wiekens or Symons who more often than not booted it upfield to that giant of ours Paul Dickov. You can imagine how effective that was. Kinkladze was everywhere the ball wasn’t. Anyone who says it was the County player who did a good marking job on him is kidding themselves: that guy couldn’t have given two s**ts about that team in the first half. His second half performance (after a massive kick up the arse by Clark, I imagine) showed that, he was much more involved and didn’t seem to bother too much about his marker then.

After 30 minutes, County scored a goal that really summed up City’s first half, and was a trigger for absolute madness from the City fans. Brett Angell collected the ball in the penalty area, 10 or 15 yards out. There was only him, Wiekens (or was it Vaughan?) and Symons in there. Neither of the City men made a move, they just watched with the rest of us as he fired in the third. We were furious. Words just cannot describe the feelings of anger after that goal. Humiliation didn’t come into it for me, it was just pure anger. I had queued up for four hours that morning for tickets to Crewe and this was how I was repaid. It was a disgrace.

The City fans went mad, I have never seen anything like it. “You’re not fit to wear the shirt” and “You’re only here for the money” rang out round the stadium. We were all fighting amongst ourselves over who was to blame: Symons got a lot of stick, well-deserved but he wasn’t the only one. Francis Lee and Frank Clark were obvious targets. There were a few attempts at a “***k off Symons” chant but thankfully it never got off the ground. They were all s**t and they all have to take collective responsility. Singling out Symons would have helped nobody. Saying that, Kinkladze has got to take a good look at himself. Here is a man who has the ability, on his own, to turn a game around. When Kinky plays well the team plays well, because he is an absolute genius. If he decides to hide from the ball as he did in the first half here how can we blame the others, on not being able to find Kinkladze, or anyone else for that matter, for booting the ball upfield? This is not an excuse. Every single one of those players should have the ability to pass the ball to another team-mate. But when there are no team-mates to pass to, when no one is shouting for the ball, do we expect these defenders to move out of defence, make space for themselves, find an opening in play that no one else saw? Of course we do, but is that realistic? No. If you are Symons or Vaughan, you’ve never been a great, skilful passer of the ball, that’s why you play in defence. When you have possession of the ball you want to get rid of it. If none of your midfielders are giving you any options what do you do? Boot it upfield.

I spoke to Tony Vaughan (name-dropper extroadinaire!) a couple of weeks ago. I work for the club in the programme office (and any of us who wanted tickets for Crewe had to queue up just like the rest of you) and he came in because he wanted a copy of any action shots we had of him. We only had two so Joanne (Parker) told him he should get hold of the ball more often to which he replied “It’s my job to get rid of the ball not keep it,” Nuff said!

In the second half there was much more movement, plenty of passing along the ground. Our superior fitness really shone through and County were backs-to-the-wall. In fact, our second half performance was one of the best of the season. Typical City, eh? When Brannan scored a cracker of a goal (he’d got a lot of stick as well, and you could see it in his face: “I’ll show you, you moaning b*****ds”) we really thought we could go on to make possibly the greatest comeback of all time, but it wasn’t to be. The performance was much improved but the scoreline was still disgusting.

This can’t be allowed to go on. They showed in the second half that there is not much wrong that a bit of fight and commitment wouldn’t put right. They must be made to show that kind of pride all game, every game.

Everyone keeps going on about how we “turned the corner” after every single win this season but I never believed we had. But I think we turned a corner at half-time at Edgeley Park on Saturday.

Mad? Definitely. I can’t wait for West Brom on Tuesday…

Nina Haigh (n.s.haigh@stud.man.ac.uk)

MATCH VIEW

A personal view.

Little did I know whilst queuing up for Crewe tickets with a few hundred other hardy (or should that be foolhardy) Blues outside Maine Road in the early hours of Saturday morning what was to come that afternoon.

I’ve supported City for 30 years and the first half “performance” has to be the worst 45 minutes I have ever witnessed during that time. The players looked as though they’d never seen each other before, let alone knew how to play football. Stockport were up for it and deserved their three goal lead at half time and ultimately the three points. Nobody could be blamed for the first goal – a cracker, but the defence, collectively, once again gifted Stockport the next two. Woeful, abject, abysmal, pathetic, humiliating are just a few words which readily spring to mind and which are printable!

I was dismayed that City fans turned on the team, Symons especially getting the vitriolic comments whether he alone deserved them or not. Paul Dickov, as usual, worked his socks off and was, in my opinion, the only player to earn his money although Michael Brown, when he came on, also worked hard. Gio was kept very quiet, yet again and as for the rest of them, well… Eddie spent most of the time waving his arms around and standing still. Although I may tend to agree on occasions with the chants of “You’re not fit to wear the shirt” or “You’re only here for the money”, it doesn’t help the situation apart getting ever increasing frustrations which we all feel off our chests. Somehow, we’ve got to stick with the lads (although I’m glad I’m not going to West Brom tomorrow!) and keep behind them even though we all know the club is really, deeply ensconced in the brown stuff with little or no chance of promotion and the increasing reality of relegation looming larger week by week.

What hurt me most was the fact that, as mentioned at the start of this moan, I had queued up for Crewe tickets with some who had camped out overnight or who had been there since 3am and I felt well and truly kicked in the teeth by the players during that first half. Don’t they realise that we spend our hard earned leisure time and cash on them and therefore would appreciate consistent effort on the park, not get four points and our hopes up and then play badly again? Don’t they realise we wear our shirts with more pride than they do? Don’t they realise the amount of “stick” we are subjected to, not only by sympathetic Reds but now jubilant County fans? Do they even care? Sometimes I wonder and that really sticks in the throat. The time will soon come when even Blues like myself will start to cut down on matches because they are fed up with what’s happening and are reluctant to waste their money. City have the most loyal fans in the country but this loyalty is being stretched to the utmost limits and won’t last much longer.

CTID, Carol Darvill (address withheld)

MATCH VIEW – STOCKPORT 3 CITY 1

A day out at Edgeley Park.

Standing on the open terrace at Stockport County on a cold, grey afternoon in November, I witnessed the worst 45 minutes of football produced by the miserable 11 that we call a team!

The truth is we don’t have a team.

Whilst Margetson is Blue through and through he simply isn’t good enough – he doesn’t command his area and doesn’t talk or shout at his defence.

The defence is totally disorganised and we would be better off with the captain of the Titanic than Symons who, nice guy that he may be, has no leadership qualities and not a lot of footballing skill either.

The midfield is anonymous – we have no one to win the ball (although Brown adds a certain tenacity) and no one who can pass. We have no movement and no imagination and hardly ever create space to receive a pass.

What about Kinkladze being marked out of the game by Dinning?

The strikers are not good enough. Dickov tries for 90 minutes but at the end of the day he is ineffective against the defenders he is up against and we have no one who can regularly put the ball away.

The only time the defence looks half good is when Beesley is playing so why not give him the captaincy? How about sticking to one system for more than one game (3 central defenders?).

This has got to be the worst City side for as long as I can remember (30 years).

Still, we can make the play-offs if we put a string of results together (might be a good idea to start with a string of passes).

Nige from Stockport (kraken@globalnet.co.uk)

NEWS SUMMARY – THURSDAY, BELATED

The early part of the week saw lots of takeover rumours in the press, mainly founded on speculation over the apparent need for Stephen Boler to raise money in support of his company, the Limelight Group, which has lost a large proportion of its share value on the stock exchange. However, like all other such rumours over the last few years, there seems to be little substance to them. Francis Lee described the talk as “utter rubbish” and Stephen Boler said he had “no intention” of selling his shares in City. Mike McDonald, chairman of Sheffield United and the man touted to be the new chairman at City, seemed to leave his options open: “I have been approached in the last few days by people who believe they have enough shares to carry the situation, but at the moment I’m committed to Sheffield United and want to see the job through,” he said.

Some of the reports about these supposed takeover bids included background information about City, and were full of factual errors, which makes you wonder what’s going on. If City seem to have a siege mentality these days, it’s not really surprising. One of the other rumours in the same articles was that if/when City move to the Millennium Stadium, the Maine Road site, which is apparently worth £60 million(!), could be sold, the stadium demolished and either a supermarket or a Metrolink depot built there. The Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive said that they were not aware of any such plan though.

Martin “Buster” Phillips has today (Thursday) been transfer-listed by the club. He was signed around two years ago on an appearance-based fee from Exeter City and has not figured in Frank Clark’s plans. In fact his last start for the first team was the first game of last season. It is reputed to cost City £20,000 each time he plays for the first team. Frank Clark said: “It has not really worked out for Martin during his time here and now he has fallen behind in the queue for places. I think it’s in the best interests of the club and Martin if we look to get a move for him. To be honest, we are looking for either a loan deal or a permanent transfer.” Phillips joins Nigel Clough, Gerry Creaney, Alan Kernaghan, Neil Heaney and John Foster on the transfer list, all of whom are available for small fees despite costing City a combined total in excess of £5 million.

Gerry Creaney is still a target for Burnley, but it doesn’t look like they’ll get their man. Chris Waddle said: “It is no go at the moment. I am very keen to get him here but the funds are not available. I have spoken to the board and they have not given the thumbs-up. I really believe Gerry was a big factor in our improved form in recent weeks as he linked up midfield and attack very well.” City seem to be keen to make some sort of deal with the Clarets for Creaney, who is thought to be on £3,000 a week. First team coach Richard Money watched Burnley on Tuesday night as they bowed out of the F.A. Cup, losing 3-0 to Rotherham. He was reported to have been watching wing-backs Paul Weller and Chris Brass, both highly-rated 22-year-olds.

City’s reserves drew 2-2 at Huddersfield on Wednesday night, with both goals scored by players making their débuts. One was Francios Calderado, a 31-year-old French striker from Toulon who is currently on trial with City, and the other was Georgian defender Murtaz Shelia. It’s not expected that Shelia will play on Saturday as he is still some way short of full fitness. Uwe Rösler didn’t play, though he is now back in light training. Frank Clark said: “If Uwe gets fit he has a great chance of getting back into the first team.”

Finally, Frank Clark has been encouraging Gio Kinkladze to score more goals from his new, more forward rôle. He said: “We would certainly like Gio to score more from open play. He has only managed two goals this season, from a free-kick and a penalty. I believe Kinkladze can score more goals and it is something we are working on. Our new attacking system pushes him further forward with the two other front players alongside him. We need to be scoring more goals as a team and we did create chances against Bradford.”

Paul Howarth (paul@city-fan.org)

NEWS SUMMARY – MONDAY

Monday’s big news is that Kit Symons has been relieved of the team captaincy in favour of Kevin Horlock, following Saturday’s disastrous derby defeat at Stockport. Frank Clark said: “It’s something I’ve been considering for a while. I am very disappointed that Kit is getting so much stick. He is a very honest player and he is an excellent servant to Manchester City. He never gives less than 100% and I am disappointed when any individual players cops for stick. I am sure Kit will deal with it and I will not drop him from the team. But for his sake, I have decided to take the team captaincy away from him. I think that was highlighting his problems and had something to do with the abuse. Kit will remain as the club captain because he does a lot of charity work and ironically a lot with the supporters’ clubs. All that is irrelevant to on-field performances and that is why I had to take the team captaincy away from him.”

City’s new skipper, Kevin Horlock, 25, said: “I’m delighted for myself but saddened for Kit. Being captain has magnified the problems for Kit and I think the stick he’s been getting is unjust. I was captain of Swindon, and it’s a great honour to take over as skipper at Maine Road. It’s not my style to shout and bawl and it won’t change the way I play.”

There were more rumours to deny following Saturday’s game (surprise, surprise), this time concerning the futures of coach Richard Money and assistant manager Alan Hill. Chairman Francis Lee said: “Nobody on the board has even discussed the post of the assistant manager and coach, and for anyone to suggest otherwise is a pack of lies.” He went on to specifically praise Alan Hill’s contribution: “Alan Hill is the best acquisition this club has made in a long time. He has played a vital part in restructuring the club at several levels, the benefit of which will be seen for a long time,” he said.

There could well be some team changes for the game at West Bromwich on Tuesday night, with Tommy Wright, Murtaz Shelia and Uwe Rösler all included in the squad. Wright is on stand-by in case Martyn Margetson, who damaged a thigh at Stockport and missed training on Monday, is unable to play. Frank Clark said: “We’ll leave it until the last minute but Tommy has trained for three days and could come in if necessary. I would have preferred Tommy to have played a game, but hopefully Martyn can play.” Wright has been back in full training after learning that he did not need a cartilage operation. “The surgeon has taken a good look at his knee and decided that rest is the best cure. There is no need to rush him back as we have Martin Margetson but it will be nice when he’s fully fit again,” said Frank Clark, speaking before the Stockport game.

Uwe Rösler has had a full week of training but has not yet played any sort of competitive match, so I doubt that he’ll be starting at the Hawthorns but he may be on the bench. Shelia played and scored in the reserves game last week, after which Frank Clark said: “Murtaz did OK. It was his first game for a long time. He had a run around and enjoyed it, but it is sometimes difficult to know the level of a player’s fitness from a reserve team game. He’s still finding his feet at the club.” City’s other scorer in that game, trialist Francois Calderaro, has another week left in which to impress the City boss. “He’s on a free transfer. He did alright against Huddersfield. Scored a goal but didn’t do much else. I prefer to see players playing in their own environment. But at least he has been allowed to play in a reserve team game. We’ve got him for another week so we will take a further look before making our final decision,” said Clark. Calderado, 31, has previously played for Metz and Paris St Germain, and he was once second top goal-scorer in the French League behind Jean Pierre Papin.

It seems that Gerry Creaney’s on-off move to Burnley has finally bitten the dust. The Clarets simply cannot match or come close enough to the Premiership-level contract that the Scot is on at Maine Road. Chris Waddle said that the Burnley board have blocked the move because they cannot afford Creaney’s wages.

Finally, someone who IS on the move is CITY Magazine editor Steve Anglesey. The December edition is his last before heading off to join the Internet-based football newspaper Football 365 (http://www.football365.co.uk/). As you might guess from the name, it’s going to be a daily service, and it will be available over the Web or by email. More info at the site. The new editor of CITY Magazine will be Mike Barnett.

Paul Howarth (paul@city-fan.org)

DOSLA REFEREEING QUESTION

Division One Statistics and Leagues for Anoraks (DOSLA). Compiled by Steve “Statto” Kay. Update No 17. Up to and including 30th November 1997.

Last week’s question:

The attacking team has an indirect free kick on the corner of the opponents’ six yard box. The goalkeeper and seven teammates stand on the goal line inbetween the posts, and the other three players stand on the deadball line outside the goals, next to the near post, ready to run at the ball. What do you do?

Answer:

You insist that the players outside the goal either stand on the line inside the goal, or stand anywhere else on the pitch, a minimum of 10 yards away.

This week’s question (supplied by Martin Ford):

An attacking player crosses the ball and then runs over the dead ball line. The ball is cleared but instead of immediately running back onto the pitch, the player stands behind the deadball line to avoid being caught offside if the ball is played forward again. The clearance is pumped harmlessly back into the box. However, the player still behind the line (still not entered play) stops the ball from crossing the dead ball line and crosses back into the box for a teammate, who runs in from an onside position, heads the ball into the goal.

What would be the outcome? Would the goal stand? What would you do to the off-field player?

If you have a query, or would like to set a question, send me an e-mail.

Steve Kay (Stevemcfc@aol.com)

BRING BACK THE BOYS IN BLUE!

It’s been a fairly quiet couple of weeks at school with the Rag irritation factor being unusually low. One development was that when we were watching the 5-1 on footie weekend a few weeks ago, my mate Pete noticed Danny Wallace and said that he was sure that one of the kids I taught was related to this guy. So the next day I said to this lad, who’s about 15, “Are you related to Danny Wallace, the ex-United player?” The kid looked very uncomfortable and replied “Er, yeah, he’s my dad.” I was speechless for a minute. “So you’re also related to the Stoke player who scored against us?” “Er, yeah, he’s my uncle.” By now the poor lad was looking very sheepish. Apparently, he hates talking about his footballing family (four of them are or were professionals). He really is a nice lad – I think it’s very unusual that he has this attitude, when, let’s face it, most kids in Salford would love to bore everyone senseless if their old man had played for the Rags.

Anyway, after the Bradford game the print room was alive with Blues still celebrating the goal. We have a Japanese teacher at school and it turns out that he went to the match – he came in saying “Is very good! We win! But, very interesting, the fans make fun of each other! What this sign means?” He then waved two fingers at us “NO, Satochi, you don’t want to go round doing that!” He is a smashing bloke, and going to City has been a real education for him!

Finally, I noticed much to my delight that they played “The Boys in Blue” before the Bradford game. This brings back many many happy memories for me. I really believe that this song is an inspiration to the team and fans alike – “The Boys in Blue never give in!”, and I agree with the other MCVITite who suggested it should be played before every match. Noel wrote a few weeks ago about his feelings for certain types of music; well, Noel, you are right in saying that melody, harmony and rhythm are important elements of music, but the actual definition of music is merely “organised sound”, so it seems to be acceptable to omit one or two of these elements and still flog some piece of garbage as “music.”

I’ve had a really classical training, but to me there is no sweeter sound than the Kippax on a good day. The Boys in Blue has it all – melody, rhythm, harmony and passion – if anyone knows where I can get a tape, please let me know! That bloody Rag song gets released soon and I must fight back!

Jules Price (jprice6936@aol.com)

KEY 103 ON THE INTERNET

I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this but Key 103 radio, Manchester’s commercial radio station is avaliable on the Internet at www.key103fm.com/sounds/Key103live.ram

Stuart Barstow, Audenshaw, Manchester (stuart@trouser.demon.co.uk)

Before anyone gets too carried away, they don’t do much sport!

Ashley

CELEBRATE HOGMANAY THE EDINBURGH WAY

What is Yvonne talking about? There are plenty of laydees on here-or has the infamous cries of ‘Girl Power’ now reached the distant lands of MCVITA?

After the apparent success of Tribal Gathering, since there are many Blues living in Scotland or are willing to travel, I felt that a Hogmanay version of the said TG in Edinburgh would be a top idea. The council has imposed a ticket-only scheme in the city-centre, but the notorious Grassmarket is still open to all. I mentioned this idea about a week ago on Blueview, but as the Internet links here are shocking, I don’t know who said they could come (so to speak). If this idea or any others, tickle anyone’s fancy, could you contact me as soon as possible.

It should be pretty classy-though accomodation may pose a problem.

Clara Suess – Crystal (CRYSTAL@stgeosch.demon.co.uk)

OFFICIAL SUPPORTERS’ CLUB WWW SITE

If you don’t know already the Official Supporters’ Club Web site is at http://www.mancity.net/osc/

Recently I have added some pages:-

  • For people wanting to make contact with local Blues
  • Minutes of the Supporters’ Club Meetings

I would also like to publish any newsletters that the branches may have; these are of interest to out-of-town Blues who may be visiting. I am also trying to establish an ‘Internet’ contact at every branch so if you are a member of a branch please mail me and let me know.

Andy Birkin – ICQ Sussex Blue (maine@compuserve.com)

A CITY FAN IN STOCKPORT

Many moons ago, when Dennis Tueart and Co. were weaving their magic, I used to go and watch Stockport County as well. So Saturdays were for the big time, the real thing, City! Friday night was a bit of a laugh with my mates down at Edgeley. I never felt any disloyalty to City over this, the gulf between the clubs being so great. Now I’ve not been to Edgeley for about 12 years, but I have still admired their rise and the credit that they have brought to my home town, but I’m City ’til I die and make no mistake about that.

I’m not going to knock County. They deserve their success. But… you know how United fans crawled out from under their stones a while back? And then there were the legions of Oldham fans who, once in the top-flight, suddenly told tales of being breast-fed on the Chaddy End? Yeah, you guessed it. Suddenly everybody here is a bloody County fan. I went into the local computer shop and he had a County scarf hung up behind the counter. I go into the chemist and they are all gaily chatting about how well they lads done. County this, County that, yeah, yeah. Every other car now sports a County sticker, and the replikits are selling by the bucketful.

It is true that the lads done great, but I’ve been to more County matches than these oiks, and I’ve stood watching 0-0 draws with Torquay on freezing cold nights when the best entertainment was watching the aeroplanes fly over.

So the next so-called County fan who annoys me this week may well get a rather stern, but polite (OK, barely polite) history lesson.

…ooops. Time for a Diazepam.

Mike – of Mike’s City Service (Mikey@clara.net)

VIRGIN TRAINS – A 3-HOUR NIGHTMARE

I caught the 18:30 Manchester-London train last night from Piccadilly. It started out badly and got worse:

Firstly, the train was seriously overcrowded and 90% of the people on it were United fans making their way home to London and Milton Keynes after the game against Blackburn. Sitting next to me was a bloke from Cape Town and his son, who had travelled up (whilst on holiday) to see ‘their’ team. Things progressed from bad to worse.

After leaving Manchester the train pulls into – yes, you all know – Stockport. Memories of the day before came flooding back.

Thinking that some of these loyal fans would empty out at Macclesfield proved very wrong. In fact, one of them was selling ‘Red News’ or something, and offered me a copy. By this stage, girlfriend was acting as extreme pacifier.

What really annoyed me about the whole situation was that people who had reserved seats were standing up because these football fans refused to move. The conductor was powerless, because even moving down one carriage took an age as he had to clamber over several sprawled out bodies. One bloke eventually came into our carriage, having walked the length of the train, who was carrying a baby. Nobody offered him a seat.

Anyway, upon arrival in London, the train spilled out its mainly Red contents to wend their way home to Croydon etc. Sickening.

Sorry for the rant but my point is this – why can’t United with all their cash and ‘influence’ stop this kind of thing from happening? The general public suffered due to their fans and this is wrong. Haven’t City struck a deal with Virgin trains? Surely United, with all their travelling fans, could charter a train (or ten) to take their fans back down South after every home game?

Tim McFarlane – Mivvy (mcfarlanet@secdata.co.uk)

OPINION – FRANCIS LEE

A lot has been written about the performance of Francis Lee as chairman of Manchester City, both within our newsletter and in the general media. Maybe I am missing something but I really must stand to the defence of our chairman for many reasons.

Firstly he came into the position in good faith, due to the dire position we were in at that time and to replace Swales who really needed to go due to his poor performance in recent years. Secondly he has put faith in all the managers under his chairmanship, namely, Ball, Coppell, and Clark. Francis Lee cannot interfere with training and playing tactics nor can he go onto the field himself and sort things out, he has no option but to rely 100% on the managers he has appointed. He cannot therefore be held responsible for the weak position we are in at the moment.

Off the field he has attempted to transform Man City from a loss making situaton to a profit making one, transforming off the field matters, such as upgrading facilities in the ground and the souvenir shop. Furthermore he brought in Stephen Boler and his money, which City needed at the time, the 11 million quid although perhaps not spent wisely has definitely benefited us. Lee has made many other appointments to the staff of Man City with a view to improving the whole structure of the club as a whole. He is a good businessman and his acumen is benefiting us without really knowing everything that he is involved with.

I can go on and on but being in South Africa I don’t have the full information about what Lee has done, but I do believe that he has the best interests of Manchester City at heart and we would be a lot worse off without him.

Claude Nuttall – Cape Town (wgscap@iafrica.com)

OPINION – DEMISE

All teams go through a bad patch, but how long does a bad patch last? Has Birmingham City been going through a bad patch for the last decade, or did our illustrious neighbours’ bad patch get them relegated in 1976? In all these cases there is only one person to take the blame or the credit – the manager! (after all that is what he is paid for). So once again I ask:- do we all fear that there will be no life after Frank, so we are willing to accept the present mediocrity and subsequent demise without question?

Roger H. Spruce (lot2do@jet.es)

OPINION – MORE RANTINGS AND RAVINGS

Since leaving Britain in the summer I’ve tried to keep quite about what’s happening back home probably due to the fact that I don’t see City play every week like I used to. But I think the results speak for themselves so I’m going to vent my frustration on MCIVTA. What I have to say is not a knee-jerk reaction to today’s result but the culmination of four months frustrating results. Yes, City can depress you even from three thousand miles away! We really are looking at the grim possibility that we might be in the Second Division next year. Don’t start fooling yourselves into thinking that the team is too good to go down, or that we’ll buy some marvellous players to get us out of this trouble. The team we have is full of over-rated, over-paid wasters and that includes all the coaching staff, management and so called world-class players. From what I can see they don’t give a damn about the club, as long as it gives them their pay cheque every week.

I’m not going to witter on about what needs to be done (mainly because I haven’t got a clue what’s going to get us out of this mess!) but maybe Lee should start treating City like a football club and not a business, and also Clark needs to go! I’ve heard all the arguments for stability etc. but if we have much more of him the club won’t resurface for a decade. He’s spent millions and has turned out a squad which is worse than last year. We can’t carry on with these dire performances just because we want the stability of a long-term manager. It’s that bad I’m beginning to look on the days of Ball with fond memories!

I’ll support City forever no matter what but I’d rather see guys wearing the blue shirt with pride, no matter what division, than the current bunch of no-hopers. Maybe the only way to get the message through is to stop going to the matches, and possibly once it starts to hit Lee in the pocket he’ll do something about it!?!

Adam Houghton (Adam.Houghton@yale.edu)

OPINION – OUR SORRY PLIGHT

As anyone knows there are many ways to get out of trouble, money being the easiest way but not always the best way. But in these days of haves and have nots, where success pushes you away further from your competition, like the European Champions’ League and its prize money, the only way to get competitive in a short space of time is with huge, unquestionable investment. Ask Jack Walker and John Hall.

I don’t think you can question Franny’s heart or commitment. His only fault is picking dodgy managers. He has made a huge amount of money available in the last year only for FC to waste it on bad players. This is where the fault lies and where it must be acknowledged.

Frank and his staff have to buy players, motivate players and gel players into a team with tactics. FC and the coaching staff have failed horrendously on all counts and must walk as soon as replacements can be drugged to take over.

But here’s the rub. Regarding investment, City do not have any way to convince Boler to stump up and go for it. So he’s looking for the out door. This is where our opportunity to succeed finally rears its head.

Without question we need a big Blue backer to invest and build an asset/ product off the most valuable commodity in sport. A huge and loyal fan base.

All the big clubs would be nothing without success and we must buy it and re-envigour a whole new generation to support the Blues, before it’s too late. And yes, we must attract the bandwagoners who pay money for kits and help us to buy more success.

So how can we do this? If no big Blue backer is available, then the next best thing is a big backer.

Currently Bill Gates is rooting himself in London, with his two new mates, Mr Blair and Mr Branson. How can we convince the man who earns 1.4 million dollars an hour to buy out the City board and buy an under achieving and run down asset, with huge potential?

Gates is here to build popularity, win publicity and build economic and research links. What better way than to build publicity by turning the laughing stock of football into European champions, living in the best footy stadium in Europe, in four years? I know it sounds ridiculous but this could be a win win situation for everyone.

Oasis, Bill and Branson could really rip into sport in a way unheard of before and turn a 15 million pound liability company into £200 million asset in 4 to 6 years.

I have no answers but am prepared to work unofficially to make an attempt to turn this into reality. Can you imaging Bill keeping Franny as Chairman, giving El Tel the brief to turn us into Juventus and create a vehicle to market his new ventures across Europe? Now I’m sure all you Netcentric guys will be dreading the thought, but to see City succeed and win respectability again would be something I’d fight for.

I’m sure there’s a much stronger value proposition here to Gates or Branson. This came to me in the gym today and I’d like to put some more thought into it with a think tank of MCIVTA folks. I know a lot of you have strong ideas and backgrounds to help achieve something like this. If you’re prepared to pursue more constructive ideas than shouting outside Maine Road and would like to help us turn the club around, maybe we could get together on one of the chat pages supported by Blue View etc. Maybe we could drum up some ideas and present them to FHL as considerations. Maybe we could court prospective buyers ourselves, hell that’s how Fanny got in the first place!

If we can’t get the club to start the International Supporters’ Club until they can get success, maybe we should start looking at perpetuating a hostile take-over to initiate success.

I know I share many of your concerns about the state of City. I’m sure we can do something to help turn this around and build something to excite our kids. After the success of the Gio please stay letter, maybe we could give FHL some free strategy advice and help him through this? All constructive comments welcome. No, I’m not on drugs just City till I die.

Carlos Fandango and his super blue wheels – Huw Thomas (amthomas@pacbell.net)

OPINION – BICKERING

Should we really waste time bickering amongst ourselves, so s**t if Noel says what he wants, everyone is entitled to their own opinion as is everyone to reply, but can we keep that to private e-mails between each other because I dont want to read the boring rubbish on MCIVTA; can we keep this page to City please.

Lots of Blues like to have a few before a game, lots don’t, lots like to sing anti-Man United songs, lots don’t, but at the end of the day we all want the same thing so let’s sort it out.

Come on City, let’s stuff Stockport

Chris Barlow (Mancity7@aol.com)

OPINION – GET OFF KIT’S BACK

No one can argue that Kit Symons has gone through a bit(!) of a bad patch recently (well, for the past two seasons). I’m not trying to say that he hasn’t. And I’m not trying to say that he is a great leader of the team. He is not. He doesn’t talk enough and he’s crap at organising his defence. In a perfect world, we’d have someone a lot stronger to lead the team. But we do not, and City are far from perfect.

What do you think would actually happen if the armband was taken off Kit Symons? Would the team miraculously become world-beaters? No. Would a leader suddenly come out of nowhere to take the team to the Championship? No. Kit Symons being captain of that team is the least of our worries. The players on that pitch will shout, and the will encourage, and they will organise, if they’ve got it in them, whether they’re the captain or not. I love the way Eddie McGoldrick puts his boot up the arse of the other players. He is effective. Would he be any more effective if he had the armband on? No. Players like that couldn’t give two s**ts whether they’ve got the armband on or not. They’ll do the job anyway. Taking the captaincy off Kit Symons now would shatter what’s left of his confidence, without really gaining anything.

Kit Symons, although not a great leader, is a fantastic ambassador for the club. He shows the other players how it should be done in terms of going to supporters’ meetings, speaking to fans and working his arse off in training, and after. All of those first-team players are off home at 1pm after training. Not Kit. He’ll go to the opening of an envelope if it’s for City. Anyone who’s met him will tell you that he loves that club and he’d die for it. In this team of little passion and commitment that’s just the sort of captain we need as far as I’m concerned. He cares so much about City he doesn’t sleep at night!

We were supposed to have Paul Dickov and Eddie McGoldrick at our Supporters’ Club branch meeting (Levenshulme) on Thursday. Neither turned up. I wouldn’t want either of these players to be captain of the team when they give the fans such little respect.

Would giving the armband to a somebody else help the team, or would it convince the other players that feeling what Kit feels for Manchester City would be a complete waste of time? Kit Symons should be applauded for his example to the other players, not punished. He should be the last person who is jeered for making a mistake.

Nina Haigh (n.s.haigh@stud.man.ac.uk)

OPINION – RIGHT TO REPLY

I don’t want to go on about this abusive e-mail thing as one edition full of it is enough really, problem though it could be. My only concern is that if everyone writes all their personal opinion in reference to everyone else via MCIVTA then it’ll become a lot less interesting to read and at worst will just become a slow motion slanging match between individuals and the quality of MCIVTA will decrease. Having said that I’m now going to voice my opinion on one other subscriber, hypocrite that I am. Maybe the **** words show the person’s emotional involement in the game? When I use them that’s certainly what I try to put across, it’s got nothing to do with the presence or absence of any intellectual capabilities on my part. Also some of the spelling mistakes are surely typos not anything else.

Just a suggestion mind.

Thomas Bodey (mnqz5twb@stud.man.ac.uk)

OPINION – WHAT I LIKE ABOUT MCIVTA

The match reports and match views are great – especially when they give conflicting views; Why Blues and other reminiscences are also generally fascinating and the gossippy and humorous bits about what City.. are / are not/ are rumoured to be / should be.. about to do also make good reading (especially when they’ve been overtaken by events). It is good that MCIVTA is developing a social (and sporting) side outside cyber space and so, whilst I find it difficult to associate with these, they seem appropriate.

That leaves the sometimes extended accounts of peoples’ day to day (drinking?) activities, news of Oasis and other personal / individual items and quarrels with only the vaguest connection to City / football. These I skip over, but so long as they are not excessive and I’m not left searching to find good bits then MCIVTA remains the most eagerly awaited item on my e-mail.

MCIVTA is the best club newsletter because City fans have a unique character – let’s not descend to the level of the rest; and let’s be self disciplined and not put Ashley in the invidious position of having to enforce standards.

Dave Lewis (d.lewis@au.sac.ac.uk)

OPINION – ALL THE WAY DOWN

Huh, just what’s going on, will blunders never cease?

OK I know County aren’t a bunch of mugs (no I ain’t seen them play this season yet!) but surely City should have put up more of a fight? I didn’t go to the match, but have heard from different sources that City were appalling as ever (if not worse). When are these overpaid, overrated, underachievers (players, management and board alike) going to realise that we’re in deep doo doo? They have got us into this mess; it’s about time these so called stars pulled their collective fingers out and got on with the job at hand. If they are feeling the pressure of picking up unjustified massive pay cheques then why don’t they all ship out! Look at County for inspiration, they don’t have an international in their team, their biggest transfer is £250k and yet they play for each other, they are committed to win, they have pride in pulling on the County shirt, something that is severely lacking in the ‘stars’ at Maine Road!

FC, stop ignoring the facts, look at the position we’re in and get your so called respected management brain clicking over. Here’s some questions that really need answering:

  1. Why do you insist on continually changing the team formationaround, one week 4-3-3, next 4-4-2, next 4-5-1, next 3-4-5, the listis endless. We need a settled formation.
  2. Why are players chopped and changed without due cause? Once more asettled team is needed. Surely the team will eventually click and geltogether.
  3. Why oh why are there no genuine wide players in the team? Why doyou insist on playing midfielders as wing backs and strikers on thewing? Listen fool, the strikers need the service in the box, bring ona winger (Scully, Phillips, etc.)!
  4. Why are so many players played out of position? A professionalsquad of 40-50 players at yet you still insist on make do players?
  5. And finally why do you find it so hard to motivate the players, isit because you have (alledgedly) nothing to do with them ’til Fridayafternoon?

Captain Calamity is no more. Kit has been relieved of the captain’s armband, finally removed by our illustrious manager, Mr Potato head. The new captain is going to be Kevin Horlock, starting Tuesday the Baggies away! However Kit will remain Club captain. Hopefully it’ll mean a little less stress on the pitch; at least he can concentrate on the game (mind you, has anyone really noticed Kit harranging any players this season?).

Quote from ‘The Girls of FHM’

Speak to Michael Schumacher, the Tory party or the supporters of Manchester City and they would probably tell you that 1997 was a dismal year, full of woe and best forgotten.

How very true!

Disappointed, Martin Ford (mford@fs1.li.umist.ac.uk)

OPINION – DEAR OLD CITY!

The hacks in the popular press are prone to regularly wheeling out the old cliché lines of “Dear old City…” and “The great unpredictables…”. Much as I hate to dispel their illusions, the simple fact is that City are not unpredictable. Sadly, you can predict precisely how they will perform. Put simply, they will build you up (slightly) and then dump you back on your arse again. Hence, I was not suprised (although dismayed and despondent) when County went 2-up in 10 minutes.

So, anyone who happens to know any sports reporters, please put them straight on this matter. Especially the person who wrote the Sky preview of the Huddersfield match (in the Mail?) on the TV pages saying that “even City cannot lose this one”. Wake up, smell the coffee, read the results and (if you’re a City fan) weep.

P.S. I find it even more depressing that the letters page of the Pink Final now has more letters from sympathetic/pitying United fans than City-hating ones. I suppose that this is the result of now officially being Greater Manchester’s 4th team (United – Bolton – Stockport – City). I’m not counting Bury since we drew with them. Thanks Francis! Great job…

Even more depressed-ly City, Andy Longshaw (andy.longshaw@msx.qatraining.com)

WHY BLUE?

My dad has supported City all his life, and while he maintains that he never actually forced me into supporting City, I didn’t have any choice.

The first match I went to was against Oldham away in 1984, when I was only four-years old, but I had to wait another two years before he took me to Maine Road. From the first moment I saw the floodlights on the way to the ground I was hooked. For a couple of years my dad had been brainwashing me, making out that City were the greatest club in the world and now I was actually here at the home of football.

My clearest memories were of sitting on the bars in the Kippax with my brother, while my dad was just behind. I was fascinated with the Kippax. There were about 16,000 fans in the stand all singing and chanting, and wanting City to win. The wind used to sweep through the stand and all you could smell was cigarette smoke. Today when I smell this it reminds me of the Kippax straight away.

My first favourite player was Paul Simpson. I used to love players who could take people on, and this is exactly what he did. Just as I started to watch City more and more they were relegated in 1987. The next two seasons were great. We played attacking football, and scored loads of goals. I particularly liked the young players Redmond, White, Hinchcliffe, Brightwell, Lake and Moulden.

In 1990, my dad got moved with his job, and we moved from Manchester to Barnsley. Instead of missing out on going to matches, we actually started to go to more because my dad gave up playing football on Saturdays. I got my first season ticket in 1991, and I have now held it for seven years. In that time I always wanted to move back to Manchester, and this year I did when I came to Salford University. Peter Reid’s team was the best I have seen, and Kinkladze the best player.

Hopefully the good times are just around the corner.

Andrew Jackson (A.P.Jackson@lhfs.salford.ac.uk)

BLUE HUMOUR – METROLINK

Frank Clark says he is going to turn things round at Maine Road. He has got a job as a tram driver with Metrolink.

R Simpson (m002at00@mcmail.com)

ANSWER – CHAMPIONSHIP MANAGER 2 – STRATEGIES

At the minute I’m in the play-off positions in the league with City and I think that it’s due to the fact that I play a very negative Division 1, long ball style (like Wimbledon!). I’m still in my first year in charge but the form I’m showing should show success and we should get promoted. I know it’s only a game, but if anyone wants to recommend me to the City board if F.C. gets the bullet, well look at it this way, I’m looking for a part time job!

This is my strategy.

  • Play sweeper – defensive formation against normal Division 1 teams and playlong ball. This tends to work for normal teams such as Huddersfield(you know, the teams we can’t beat in the League).
  • Play counter attack but stick to long ball for bigger teams likeForest or Middlesbro’. Also works for cup ties against Premiershipteams (these are the teams that we do beat in reality!).
  • Try to buy an Ajax and Holland U-21 defender Fabien Ho-A-Hing on afree, he should be available at the start of the season.
  • When you select your team for the sweeper system, select thefollowing players if possible:
    • Central sweeper defender – Kernaghan
    • Left winger/defender – Kit Symons (if only life emulated art, he’s pretty good in this, you can even play him as capt.)
    • Central midfield – Gio
    • Right midfield – Clough
    • Left midfield – Neil Heaney (if he hits good form, which he should, accept £1.2 million or above from a big club if they come in for him.If not it’ll go to tribunal and you’ll lose money, because he will go!)
  • Don’t play Eddie McGoldrick because in this he’s s**te.

I think that covers it. If it doesn’t work don’t blame me, you just don’t have ‘the touch’! E-mail me with any other solutions or cheats.

From a Blue deep, deep, deep, in Red country, D P Ward (D.P.Ward@EEE.SALFORD.AC.UK)

RESULTS

Full-time scores and scorers for Saturday, November 29 1997

BIRMINGHAM CITY         2-1    PORTSMOUTH                17,738
Furlong (36, 73)               Hall (35)
BRADFORD CITY           2-1    NORWICH CITY              16,637
Steiner (13, 48)               Bellamy (75)
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN       2-0    BURY                      11,929
Dalton (7, 83)
IPSWICH TOWN            0-1    NOTTINGHAM FOREST         17,580
                               Campbell (65)
MIDDLESBROUGH           1-0    WEST BROMWICH ALBION      30,163
Beck (34)
OXFORD UNITED           2-0    PORT VALE                  5,762
Beauchamp (32)
Jemson (57)
SHEFFIELD UNITED        1-0    CREWE ALEXANDRA           16,973
Fjortoft (47)
STOCKPORT COUNTY        3-1    MANCHESTER CITY           11,351
Cook (6)                       Brannan (49)
Armstrong (8)
Angell (30)
STOKE CITY              1-2    READING                    8,500
Thorne (81)                    Morley (pen 32, 59)
SUNDERLAND              3-0    TRANMERE ROVERS           26,674
Clark (12, 14)
Phillips (42)
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 3-2    QUEENS PARK RANGERS       23,645
Osborn (44)                    Sheron (61)
Goodman (66, 77)               Peacock (85)

Full-time score and scorers for Friday, November 28 1997

CHARLTON ATHLETIC       3-0    SWINDON TOWN              13,769
Jones (9)
Mendonca (pen 42, 57)
Full-time score for Wednesday, November 26 1997
MIDDLESBROUGH           0-0    NOTTINGHAM FOREST         30,143

Up to and including Saturday, November 29 1997

Team                  Played   Won Drawn Lost  For  Against   Points
Nottingham Forest       20     12    5    3     32    16        41
Middlesbrough           19     11    5    3     33    16        38
West Bromwich Albion    19     11    4    4     22    14        37
Sheffield United        18      9    8    1     26    14        35
Swindon Town            20     10    4    6     26    27        34
Charlton Athletic       19      9    5    5     38    26        32
Stockport County        20      9    5    6     33    26        32
Sunderland              19      8    6    5     29    21        30
Wolverhampton Wanderers 19      8    5    6     24    22        29
Bradford City           20      7    8    5     19    19        29
Port Vale               20      7    5    8     25    25        26
Queens Park Rangers     19      7    5    7     25    31        26
Stoke City              19      7    5    7     22    23        26
Birmingham City         20      6    7    7     20    17        25
Norwich City            19      6    4    9     17    29        22
Tranmere Rovers         19      6    3   10     26    28        21
Bury                    20      4    9    7     21    29        21
Reading                 20      5    6    9     19    31        21
Oxford United           20      5    5   10     23    28        20
Ipswich Town            18      4    7    7     20    22        19
MANCHESTER CITY         19      4    6    9     22    24        18
Crewe Alexandra         20      5    3   12     22    31        18
Huddersfield Town       20      4    5   11     16    32        17
Portsmouth              18      3    5   10     21    30        14

Russell Town (russ@the-edge.u-net.com)
With thanks to Soccernet

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


MCIVTA ADDRESSES:
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Technical Problems: Paul – paul@city-fan.org


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.


[Valid3.2]Ashley Birch, mcivta@tollbar.u-net.com

Newsletter #351

1997/12/01

Editor:


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