Newsletter #352

Against everyone’s expectations, City managed to pull off a deserved victory at high-flying WBA. The main news concerns injuries with both Gio and Horlock affected, the latter probably not as seriously as first feared. There are several match reports; news that Key 103 do cover the odd game, the match at the Hawthorns being a prime example; news of the ISC launch and the usual Blue opinion.

I’m actually looking forward to Saturday – silly, I know!

Lastly, there were some server problems at U-Net yesterday, so if you sent an article which hasn’t appeared, it’s probably queued up somewhere.

Next game, Wolverhampton Wanderers at home, Saturday 6th December 1997



As a university student in the West Midlands, I very rarely get to see City play except in the holidays, which is why the re-arranged match was my first game since the Norwich game in September. After Saturday’s result however, not much hope was held out for anything from this game, and my Baggies-supporting friends’ predictions involved a severe footballing lesson being handed out.

On arrival at the ground, and upon entering the Travel West Midlands stand, it became clear that many had decided to make this trip down the M6 on a bitterly cold Tuesday night in December – a credit to our superb away following. The away area was certainly better than some that have been experienced by City fans this season – remember Bury anyone?

Anyway, seemingly most of the 3,500 City fans who packed into the Hawthorns on this freezing night had the same outlook on the game as I did – how many West Brom would score. The pitch looked reasonable, with a thin layer of frost on top, but certainly playable, although conditions under foot did look slightly dodgy.

The opposing fans were very quiet, and songs from them were at a premium – with no demonstration of their infamous “Boing, Boing, Baggies Baggies” routine.

Despite losing new captain Horlock after 30 seconds to a seemingly innocuous challenge, and then seemingly no-one taking over the armband – with Skippy van Blerk coming on – the first half hour gave the travelling support plenty to warm their hands.

West Brom, although in 3rd position in the 1st Division, seemed to be able to do little else except try to punt the ball down the left wing and hope that Kilbane or Hunt would run onto it; whereas evidence of passing and tackling from an obviously up-for-it City side brought gasps from the away end.

The first half was a fairly even affair, with both teams having a few chances, with the most notable being Margetson’s tip round the post. City had 3 or 4 reasonable chances with Dickov seemingly appearing all over the field. Michael Brown was having a superb game and pulling all the strings in midfield to silence some of his critics. Symons was also having a far better time of it than lately, perhaps as a result of not having the captaincy pressure on his shoulders, although it wouldn’t be City unless there were a few worrying moments. Kinkladze was putting on his usual show of ball trickery for the benefit of the West Brom midfield and starting to find the gaps when the half-time whistle went.

After the interval, City seemed to emerge with some confidence, and as someone to my right shouted around this time – “Come on City – we can have these…”. Dickov was still doing his impression of a clockwork mouse, and the entire midfield seemed to want to keep the ball, and also try very hard to retrieve it when dispossessed – a refreshing change perhaps? Even Kinkladze, while dazzling both home and away fans with his inimitable skills, was tackling hard and possession was starting to tell.

A chance for West Brom preceded the goal, the ball going inches over the bar. The goal was, in the usual manner of City, not the greatest ever seen, but it may as well have been. After charging down the ball from Smith’s attempted clearance, Kinkladze crossed from the right and the clockwork mouse – Dickov – stabbed home. A wave of relief descended over the away support and although the goal was certainly deserved, it was as if we’d won the cup…

Chants of “it’s just like watching Brazil” were heard, and City responded with further possession and chances.

Despite a short while off the boil between the 70th and 80th minutes, it was obvious there was only going to be one winner of the game as West Brom continued to try both the long ball and left-wing routes with little success.

Rösler made an appearance after 85 minutes, with Kinkladze going off after falling heavily in the corner near the City fans. As he was helped round the pitch to the dugout past the away support, a chant of “Gio, Gio” struck up, which was acknowledged by the Georgian genius.

Despite the odd late scare, and some seemingly rather frantic defending, as soon as the final whistle went, the cheer from the away fans could well have been heard in Stoke.

Final score: West Brom 0 Manchester City 1

Overall, there was far more passion and fight about the whole performance and for once, everybody was seemingly sure of what they were required to do, with Wiekens a tower of strength at the back. Man of the Match for me was Brown – superb in both attack and defence, and Dickov running his socks off up front to create room for others. It’s like someone said – “If we could play this lot and Swindon every week, we’d be top of the table for the whole season.”

This perfromance restored some of my lost faith in the team, and let’s have more of the same against the Wolves on Saturday, you’ve made an exlied Blue very happy indeed…

“Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way;
Oh what fun it is to see City win away”

Keep the faith, if we play like this it’s got to get better…

James Barton (



Oh, yes. What a night, what a game, what a team! OK, so the performance was nothing much to shout about (and it was really cold!) but those lads worked their arses off, they were winning everything and never let West Brom into the game. If they’re the third best team in the First Division then I’m a dirty Red! Just like Nottm Forest and Swindon they seemed less interested in having a game a football than City have done on many occasions this season. It seems we’re not the only fans to have to suffer watching players who couldn’t give a toss. But ours did last night. They really stood up and showed the world that one defeat against Stockport does not mean this club is dead.

This was a very strange game, the atmosphere on our coach was very wierd. There was lots of tension created by the Symons/Horlock affair, with those who know Kit personally backing him till they were blue in the face, as I did in these pages this week. I think we all have to step back and be a bit more objective. Kit Symons is a fantastic bloke and it’s hard to slate him when you know how hard he takes it but you have to be realistic. His confidence is rock-bottom (and that was obvious in this game, although he didn’t perform that badly – he didn’t take any chances) and his performances weren’t too hot beforehand. I still think that taking the captaincy off him was a bad move (Horlock’s not a leader either) but if it takes some pressure off him then it may be a good thing. Only time will tell. I don’t think anybody was expecting the captaincy thing to spark a massive improvement, I think most people were just worried that it may have made things worse. I certainly got the feeling on Monday night that the club were admitting to a crisis situation. If you have to resort to changing your captain how bad must things be? In the end, it all turned out OK, and that’s what made this win so good.

Horlock went off injured very early on and nobody took the armband. If Horlock’s out for a bit then who will have it now?

Back to the game. From the off you could see City meant business, but once again we found it very difficult to turn possession into goals, but West Brom only had one shot of note. A fantastic effort, it may have been and it was going right in the top right hand corner until Margetson pulled off (another) great save to keep us in it.

Kinkladze was heavily marked in this game but he still saw a lot of the ball. He was finding it difficult to make progress past the four thugs who were on top of him every time he got the ball and was regularly dispossessed, when maybe he should have passed earlier. He should have been pushed upfield a lot earlier. As the goal shows, we need him to start creating things in the last third of the pitch, getting up the wings as often as he can. There’s little or no width in this team and his crosses are just beautiful.

I think he should be moved out of central midfield because we really need someone in there who’s going to be of some use in stopping the opposition moving forward. Brown had a really good game, and so did Brannan (shock, horror – it’s true!) doing that in midfield but you always got the impression that Kinkladze’s creative skills were being wasted by him playing so deep.

So when he did get forward, what does he go and do? Take the p*** and cross for Dickov to score! 1-0! Absolutely brilliant! The West Brom fans had been singing: “You’re s*** and you know you are” to us so we now replied: “We’re s***, and we’re beating you!” Classic City! There were 35 minutes to go but we were professional, calm, collected, we did the job. We kept going forward but we were really crying out for a big man up front to make a bit of an impact. Stand up, Uwe Rösler.

Now, I was as annoyed as anyone when he appeared to be holding the club to ransom over his contract but at the end of the day he’s still a City player so let’s use him. That way, he’d no doubt benefit the team by scoring a few goals and we might even be able to convince Judas over at Goodison to part with a few million for him! Stick him in the reserves and he’s no use to anybody. We won’t sell him, and he won’t be of any benefit to the team, which he can and should be. He didn’t do much last night though, except lap up the adoration from the City fans.

It was a relief when the final whistle went because even though West Brom had hardly threatened, you just never know with City, do you? It could have been a nightmare having a game so soon after “The Troubles” of the last few days but as it happens I think it’s the best thing that could have happened. We’ve gone away to West Brom, (supposedly) one of the best teams in the League, deservedly beaten them 1- 0 and shown the world there is no crisis at Manchester City. Until Saturday…

Nina Haigh (



“Boing boing City City”

City bounced back with a welcome win at West Brom after Saturday’s shambolic showing at Stockport. And yet again, the Blues’ fans were there in numbers to see it. Around 4,000 made the trip to the Hawthorns on a cold December evening and contributed greatly to the atmosphere. I met up with several Internet Blues at the Vine before the game, where I must say we were all made most welcome by the hordes of Baggies fans there. Indeed, the place was more packed than it had been for last season’s fixture which was on a hot, sunny Saturday afternoon! Inside the ground, and quite by coincidence, I found myself sat next to MCIVTA regulars Noel Bayley and Steve Kay – small world!

Frank Clark made only one change in the starting line up from Saturday’s game, Michael Brown coming in in place of Eddie McGoldrick. However, on the bench Jason van Blerk was joined by Murtaz Shelia and Uwe R