Newsletter #373

I think the Chinese curse goes something like “may you live in interesting times” … this couple of weeks deputising for Ashley have certainly been interesting. I reckon Ashley had a premonition and thought he’d lie low for a while, ’cause this has certainly been a baptism of fire for me!

I’ve taken the unusual step of fitting in an extra issue this week to distribute news of Frank Clark’s sacking and Joe Royle’s appointment, and associated opinion. I’ll be producing one last issue on Friday with news of tonight’s game, then it’s back to Ashley, so please send all inputs to him from Friday morning onwards. This issue has one more report from the Bury game, a couple of Why Blues, and stacks of opinion. The first half is mostly inputs I had before FC’s sacking, and I’ve mostly put the post-Royle appointment stuff in the second half.

Read on with more interest than usual!


Stop Press – City 1 Ipswich 2 Winner scored in the 90th minute!

Next game, Swindon Town, away, Saturday 21st February 1998


City now seem to have lost their ability to surprise or even disappoint me, as Saturday’s result just left me feeling cold. The omens weren’t good when the team was read out before the match – no Kinkladze and a subs’ bench bereft of any attacking ability (and yes, I include Barry Conlon in that). The full team lined up as Wright, Edghill, Tskhadadze (no I haven’t learned how to spell / pronounce it, I’ve just copied that from the MEN and he’ll be referred to as KT from now on!), Brightwell, Symons, van Blerk, Jim Whitley, Crooks, Russell, Bradbury and Rösler. Subs were Beesley, Conlon and Jeff Whitley. Bury had left big blond dirty git Peter Swan on the bench, but did have big dark dirty git Tony Ellis on the field, if not playing football, as well as former transfer target Chris Lucketti.

The first half wasn’t pretty, wasn’t exciting and certainly wasn’t football. Remarkably enough I thought Symons and Brightwell actually played quite well this time, probably because Symons spent most of his time going up front so wasn’t around to make any howling mistakes. There was another “misunderstanding” between Wright and KT when KT cleared the ball for a corner right in front of Wright with no attacker anywhere near – I know KT probably isn’t too fluent in English yet, but surely a nice loud shout of “Mine!” would have been understood had Wright made it? Maybe I’m underestimating him, maybe he did shout but it translates as “Quick! Get rid of it now, there’s someone right behind you and they’ll score!” Doesn’t sound too likely though, does it?

Rösler and van Blerk linked together fairly well going forward, but Lucketti had no problems clearing every ball that was thrown into the area. Bury are a very big team, can’t pass the ball to save their lives but very good in the air. In response to this, City pumped a succession of high balls into the box throughout the game. The only time this even looked as if it might have any effect was about half way through the second half, when Bradbury, for once, rose above his marker and headed the ball towards goal. Or, to be more accurate, it bounced off his head into Kiely’s arms. Van Blerk had a good run from the edge of the City area, right through midfield until he reached the Bury area. He could have played a square ball at any time during the run, but instead chose, Kinkladze-like, to go it alone. He then, Kinkladze-like, ran into one too many defenders on the edge of the box and gave the ball away.

Bradbury then missed a header from about six yards out after a decent cross by Russell. Big dirty git No.2 Tony Ellis flattened van Blerk (don’t know why he bothered personally, wait long enough and he’ll give you the ball back without needing to tackle him) and was booked after about half an hour. From the ensuing free kick Chris Lucketti nearly put the ball into his own net. The save from Kiely could only fall to Edghill, who obviously thought he was playing rugby and hit it about 10 yards over the bar. That was the end of City’s bright patch, it didn’t last long.

KT looked good in the air again, there was one moment in particular where he launched himself at a ball that he had no right to reach before the Bury attacker to hit the ball back to Tommy Wright. Symons spent a lot of the game going forward, not only for corners and set pieces but just in general play. To be honest, he always looked more like scoring than either Rösler or Bradbury. Maybe that’s what we should try when Shelia’s fit again? Drop Rösler, who could certainly benefit from a few spells of shooting practice, and play Symons up front? Let’s face it, he couldn’t do any worse than what we’ve got at the moment…

The second half started off with more of the same. We were still laughing over some of the Wigan girl jokes that the lads sitting next to me were passing round so didn’t pay too much attention to the first five minutes or so. I don’t think we missed much, Symons apparently had a shot that went into the side netting and Bradbury was about 2 years too slow to reach a Whitley cross but that was all. Beesley came on to replace Brightwell, who I guess must have been injured. Inspired substitution No. 1 from Frank there – he’d obviously been brought on to provide the first goal. Hmm. About 10 minutes into the second half the inevitable happened. A City corner was cleared and the ball went up the other end for a Bury corner. Mark Patterson took the corner, Butler (a City fan in his youth, naturally) headed the ball downwards and off the luckless Beesley into the net.

That was it for the game, really. It was the only real Bury chance and we couldn’t find a reply. Someone ran on from the Kippax and ripped up his season ticket onto the pitch before being escorted off by the stewards, then there was nearly a fight when some arsehole Bury fan in the executive boxes behind started leaning over and taunting the people sitting in front of him. The stewards calmed that one down well (not) then there was nearly another fight when City fans started getting at each other. It was that sort of day. City didn’t look any more likely to score than in the first half, in fact the only one who carried on playing was Jim Whitley. As a due reward for his perseverance in the face of adversity and complete lack of support from his colleagues, he was then substituted with three minutes to go. For Barry Conlon. Inspired substitution No. 2. Frank, you’re a genius. Take off the one person on the pitch who still looks as if he cares, and replace him with someone who wouldn’t get in a primary school team because he’s not good enough. With three minutes to go. I despair.

Bradbury did get booked, can’t remember what for but I remember thinking it was harsh at the time. Maybe it was for daring to call himself a striker when he blatantly isn’t.

There were big demonstrations after the game, not surprisingly. This was awful. Bury are a terrible team, the only decent player they had was the lad who went to Ipswich and it showed. We are also a terrible team, the only decent player we’ve got must surely be on his way at the end of the season if he’s got any self respect left. There were two main differences between us and Bury on Saturday. The first is that the Bury team in total cost £650,000 and looked like it, we cost much much more than that and looked as if we were worth less. The second, and most noticeable, was that Bury wanted to win. They fought, they ran for everything and they really cared about the result of the game. That much was evident at the final whistle, from the celebrations on the pitch you would think they had gained promotion or something. The City fans who hadn’t already walked out in disgust clapped Bury off the pitch as a mark of respect for how they’d played – that was probably one of the most embarrassing bits, that we had to afford them respect for deserving their victory. We didn’t deserve anything out of this game, there are no optimistic notes for me to end on and I can only dread Wednesday. When, by the way, we’re travelling up on the Ipswich Supporters’ Club coach. I’m really not too sure this is a good move…

Sharon Bennett


I’ve written a few times saying that Frank Clark should be given time, that Frannie Lee is getting things right off the pitch etc.

Well I beginning to think I could have been wrong. What has brought this about you ask? Is it the fact we are now going down (I cannot see any way out can you?), or FC’s tactic of if a player plays well, drop him, if he play in position (a) buy him and then play him in position (z)? No, it was the “interview” with Dave Makin.

If anyone buys into a company and spends several million pounds doing it, does it then make sense to “walk away”? Or does it point to (1) not being told the full truth about the company and the way it is run, or (2) that the person doing the buying is not a very good business man, or (3) that once inside the company he then gets to see the “real thing” (see 1).

Now as far as I know Mr. Makin has not built up a company over a number of years to be worth several million pound by being a “duck egg”. Was he told the full sorry I cannot say, but placing someone on the inside seems to me that he had worries how his money was being used and that he need a minder to look after his interests as he no longer trusts the people within the company.

What of a hidden reason, maybe he wanted to take over City all along and now he is on the inside he can now see what (given a good team) a money maker we could be?

Now I am not privy to how devious Mr. Makin may be or not but all I can say is I heard the interview. The man spoke with feeling and I believe (as much as anyone can believe “money men”) that something is wrong at Maine Road, something that comes from the top. As one person said on these very pages, a fish stinks from the head down. If Mr. Makin could oust Mr. Lee and take over without a vacuum then, if any thing has a “good” time this has to be it. If as Mr Makin said, Mr. Lee’s running of the club is creating the mood within the club, then no matter what FC does it will not change the feeling that he is not in charge. Don’t get me wrong, his tactics have to be seen to be believed over this season and I am not saying he does not shoulder some of the blame but if you have someone’s shadow hanging over you, you cannot always do your best.

What do I think should happen? Well Mr Lee said when he took over that if after 4 years he had not made us a force in Europe he would go (and no I do not think have good pies count), so maybe it is time for him to keep his word? Mr. Makin stated that he knew people who were willing to take us over and that there would be no vacuum but if Mr Lee is to go then I feel so should Mr. Boler and Geenalls; both have done nothing as I see it for the club.

Am I right or talking c**p? Answers to MCIVTA in less than 10,000 words.

I’ll be there on Wednesday, should be interesting as should the board meeting on Thursday (anyone going, if so let us know what fun and games there were!).

CTID, Tony “the tattooed donkey” Hulme North Std Row13 Sec N St 10 (


So, a statement has been issued from Maine Road saying:

“We particularly understand the fans’ frustrations especially after Saturday’s defeat by Bury and the manager is fully aware that the team’s performance has to improve dramatically to reflect the high expectations of our supporters.”

Oh yes, our “high expectations” of seeing a team that plays as a team. Our “high expectations” of some semblance of tactics from the manager. And our “high expectations” of seeing us finish higher in the League than our worst ever position, recorded last year. Oh, silly us.

From the sublime to the ridiculous… it could be said that our current strikeforce is “toothless”. So, what do we do? Sign Peter Beardsley on loan, a player who really is dentally challenged.

James Nash (


Let us hope that MCFC are the next Newcastle!

A couple of years ago Newcastle were on the edge of the abyss of falling into Div. 2 and were also having boardroom troubles. Once the new chairman took over they appointed Keegan, injected the cash and then rose up the leagues. Let us all hope that this is what is going to happen to MCFC!

Oh it’s time to wake up now… great dream?

Forever Blue, Gooch – Graham Lord (


City Till I Die… Somebody get me a priest – I need the last rites.

It must be serious as I’ve been in a coma for at least the last 5 years. It’s got so bad that yesterday I dreamt that my heroes were beaten by Bury, at home and in the League! I know this can’t be true as Bury couldn’t have been promoted to the Premier League within such a short period of time. Or could it have been that City were relegated to Division 2 or even Division 3 (no chance of that – so Bury must be in the Premier League (congratulations!)!)?

My condition has deteriorated so much over the last year that I have been having these unbelievable hallucinations – being beaten and outclassed by Stockport (did they come up with Bury?!), losing at home to Norwich (we never lose at home to Norwich!), Stoke, Port Vale (O.J. Simpson’s lawyers needed for our defence!) and Huddersfield (you can always rely on a trip to Maine Road to turn your season around).

The above would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious, because this is getting very serious!

One of the main points of last week’s MCIVTA articles was the importance of the Bury game, I even heard an interview with Bungling Bob who stated that it was time for the players to stand up and be counted (we either have a team of pygmies or somebody can’t count!). Losing the game didn’t surprise me – let’s face it when did we last win a game of any importance? We haven’t won a derby since I don’t know when (that now includes Bury and Stockport!). Important cup games have come and gone (C. Palace, Lincoln(!), Blackpool(!), Middlesbrough, West Ham). Games involving teams with ex-managers and players, which are plentiful, have all been lost (Sheff. Utd., Crystal Palace, Sunderland etc.). We couldn’t even beat a side that didn’t want to win and got relegated!

So what’s the problem and where does the blame lie?

I believe mistakes have been made at all levels. F.H. Lee made a mistake by appointing Alan Ball. This was a short term appointment (his contract was only for 2 years) to clear out all the dead wood at City (which was much needed) and included some of the higher earners in the squad. I have heard that some of these players were being paid more than the Rags’ players and was a position which was inherited from Swales. Lee was trying to set up a viable and sustainable wage structure within the club, which again was much needed. The only problem with this is the parameters on which this was based. This clear out wasn’t fully completed, hence Coppell’s speedy resignation. Money has been made available for new players, amounts which are out of reach of many Premier League managers. The long term financial structure of City is now in a much better state. Unfortunately, “long term” and “football clubs” are words that are very rarely seen together. The appointment of FC was applauded by most of us at the time. The clamour for Lee’s resignation was very quiet this time last year and only resurfaced after a run of poor results on the field. Another major mistake F.H. Lee has made is to pay the players after some very poor performances where from the stands it looks as though some are not even trying.

The blame must lie with the manager, coaches and the players. The players always seem to escape blame in these situations; instead they point the finger at the manager and tactics. The fact of the matter is that our current squad are very poor professionals, they have no pride in their own performances let alone their team’s. There is nobody on the pitch who has the ability to motivate their teammates or themselves. We have no players who have the desire or passion to win (when was the last time you saw one of our players complain to the referee about a decision, or the team snatch victory from the jaws of defeat (we have yet to win this season after going a goal behind!)? We have also lost 12 times this season by the odd goal!. It’s about time they started taking responsibility on the pitch as well as off it. It’s very easy to appease the fans by saying sorry after inept performances. My personal feeling is that they are paid too much money and therefore have no motivation to win. I would like to see the players make a voluntary cash contribution, to say someone like the Travel Club or Supporters’ Associations, to subsidise the cost of an away trip after a poor performance. This would then prove to the City fans that they are not parasites who are in it just for the money (I know that this would mean most players this season earning less than they would if they were unemployed!).

The manager and coaches have also made mistakes by playing players out of position and dropping them after good performances (well, better than the others!). There also seems a complete lack of understanding as to what they are supposed to be doing and a lack of intelligence to change things slightly when things are going wrong. I look at our current side and ask what threat do City pose to the opposition? The only answer I can think of is Kinkladze (when he fancies it). Opposing sides this season have either defended high up the pitch (à la Charlton) because they know we don’t have enough pace up front to trouble them with a ball over the top, or they have defended just outside the penalty area (Port Vale, Huddersfield, Norwich etc.) because, other than Kinkladze, we don’t have the guile nor movement off the ball to break them down, neither do we have an aerial threat to trouble defences with crosses. Our set pieces this season have been poor and seem to be getting worse even though, now we have Shelia, we look more threatening. Defensively we defend too deep which means that when our cultured defenders hoof the ball forward our target men of Rösler (who spends so much time on his ar*e that he must have piles!), Dickov (most hoofs are in the air to him, but at least he can win throw ins and free kicks to ease the pressure) and Bradbury (can’t play with Rösler as both want to take up the same positions in the box and Rösler is always there first because Bradbury does all his running for him!), it comes straight back because our midfield are also playing too deep and therefore have trouble supporting the forwards when the hoof comes. I can’t remember the last time we had a true 1 against 1 nor a midfield runner who made a run beyond our forwards.

I know this sounds very negative but is there anything to be positive about apart from the fans? Despite the above I will remain City Till I Die and continue to watch them next season regardless of the division!

P.S. Can anyone tell me if the Rags have ever had a penalty given against them in the league in Stretford since the Premier League was formed? The last penalty I can remember was the win over Sheff. Wed (3-2) which kicked off on the Saturday at 15:00 and finished on the Sunday just before Songs Of Praise (was this in the old Football League?).

Robert Hamnett (


Although I don’t want to get into a war of words here, I feel the need to reply to Chris Egerton’s mail in MCIVTA 372. Firstly, I don’t for one minute believe City are a Premiership club in waiting, but I do refuse to believe they are a 2nd Division club. I feel very worried that there are fans, like Chris, who don’t appear too worried that we may be playing Blackpool and Wigan next season:

The long-term is bright. The financial position is getting better. It’s a strong possibility that we may be in the Second Division for the first time ever next year, but the playing side are also making steady improvements.

Come on Chris, if City are relegated it will spell disaster! There are already rumours that Kappa will terminate the shirt deal with us, and then there will be the drop in revenue from merchandise and sales of season tickets. A club of City’s size can’t sustain 2nd Division football. We would run at a huge loss and the end of the club could be a real possibility. This isn’t scare tactics, this is reality. We are already losing huge numbers of local school kids to the various (and one in particular) clubs around the Greater Manchester region, and to drop another division would really make it difficult to get young people interested in the club. Maybe you think we’d be straight back to Division 1 from Division 2, but didn’t everyone think we’d only spend a season out of the Premiership? Yes, I agree we are no longer a huge Premiership side, but surely the City fans have a right to believe that after spending 10 million quid we shouldn’t be heading for another dose of relegation?

In other words, we play like a side that is near the bottom of the table – nervous, with very little confidence. There’s very little the management team can do to allay that, when you are a struggling First Division side – and face facts, we are. Both of those games you mention were also against much better sides than ours.

Our defensive style of play is not a recent development; we’ve been playing like it all season (with the obvious exceptions of the Forest, Boro and Swindon games). We were playing like a side threatened with relegation back in October when we let a poor Stoke side beat us at home.

Easy to say, but if we don’t have the money, then what do we do? Put Boris Yeltsin in charge and get him to pay the players’ wages? We have no money to pay for the big flashy foreign signings, or indeed the English signings. The club has had to reduce the number of players on the first-team squad – 50 is way too many so you sell what you can. Sadly, not many clubs fell for it and didn’t want anybody.

Come on we are talking about Steve Lomas, Niall Quinn and Tony Coton here, not Ronaldo and Alan Shearer. These guys were on around £5,000 a week, which is nothing in today’s game. If we’d kept these players, we would have had a better chance of competing in this league. Lee wants players who will settle for a couple of grand a week and that is the reason we have gone for Georgians. I’m not asking for huge signings, but we had the backbone of a Premiership side, so why didn’t we keep it and add to it?

Like Chris said in his post, this is not a personal attack, but I feel that some fans are accepting our relegation too lightly. Make no mistake, relegation will be a disaster for City!

Charles Pollitt (


Signing Peter Beardsley on loan has to be a good thing, a still skilful player with bags of experience who surely can still create things against the clubs we need to beat over the next month or so? Two worries – can we loan him until the end of the season and can we pair him with Kinkladze as soon as possible? I hope his signature isn’t timed to coincide with Gio’s injury and that it means adding to our attacking option(s) rather than replacing him.

I read in the Independent today (Wednesday) that FC may be sacked in the next 24 hours, win lose or draw against Ipswich tonight, with Joe Royle ready to come in. The main reason is not for footballing reasons – FHL needs a way out to avoid getting sacked himself, FC apparently having refused to resign in order to save Lee’s bacon. Whatever Clark’s failings or successes, that would be a disgraceful way for a decent, honest and yes, talented man to leave the club. Far better surely to leave any managerial changes until the boardroom is sorted out – that’s the real problem at the club.

Get on your prayer mats for tonight – if ever we need divine intervention it’s now.

Chris Egerton (


Voice of Florida here again, after I said I’d give up writing! I just want all you guys to know my admiration for the job you do. I get so frustrated and spitting mad 4,500 miles away, so how you keep objective and stay calm and devote time to this donkey-walloping club is beyond me. I’m more than 40 years as a fan, and hope(!) for 40 more – and we’ll come back, although the Bury result should finally convince everybody that this isn’t some undeserved freak and/or a momentous run of bad luck. We are crap First Division side and I cannot see us stringing the wins together we need to stay up (although I hope against hope). Franny is a tragic case – he should have a proud history page in our book but I fear he will be pilloried after this disaster. Last I heard we have about 50 professionals, the vast majority of whom have been assembled under him, along with (it seems) about 100 managers and coaches who have been his responsibility. Kinkladze apart, has there been one really good, Premiership level appointment? No silver bullet here guys, but we will come back. We’re bigger than all the Frannys and FC and his bunch of players who couldn’t hit a cows arse with a banjo. Silverware in 5-7 years, no problem.

Barry Gibbons (


There have been lots of questions for match tickets in the last few McVittees, mainly from exiled Blues living overseas like myself.

The easiest way to get match tickets is to call Maine Road, Dial-a-seat on +44 161 227 9229 and order a ticket for whatever game you plan to see and pay thru your credit card. They will post the tickets to whatever address you wish, hotel, tent, even overseas home address should work. They will also inform you if it’s all ticket or if you can pay at the gate.

CTID (which could be sooner than expected the way they’re playing, my 7 a side office team could do better), Ron Smith (


Appeal for two tickets!

Now I know you must think that I am crazy but I will be coming over from Hong Kong to Manchester and would like to take my dad (it’s his birthday) to the West Brom game on the 28th February. Last time I came over I could not buy a ticket as I was not a member and it only took an awful lot of shouting at someone in the development office for them to sell me one.

Thus my question is… is there a kind soul who can get me 2 tickets for the West Brom game for a true Blue from far away?

And to all other MCIVTAers, assuming I get the tickets can we meet for a pint before the game?

Please e-mail me with details on, or phone my mum and dad on 0706 226 542 with details… e-mail is probably best, as I will be in Europe until the Friday before the game.

I would be eternally grateful… but on our current form I can’t for the life of me think why!

Philip Gregory a.k.a. HKBlue (

Yup, I think you’re crazy … but then aren’t we all?



It pains me to say this but City are pants. My season ticket is up to the highest bidder – Kippax. The last game I attended was Sunderland. I’ve been a Blue since I was a kid living in the North-West and I’ve never seen them so inept as this season. Clearly FC is not just to blame they’re all a bunch of gits, a fresh start is needed before we do an Accrington Stanley, Wolves, Halifax, Burnley etc. E-mail me if you want the ticket – offers will be considered of anything over two Mars bars!

Scott – thoroughly sick of the laser blues (


Message to all potential subscribers to the Manchester City’s International Supporters’ Club.

In order that the launch of the ISC is as successful as possible, the Club would like to gather as much information as possible on your views and opinions on this Scheme. The more respondents that we get, the more accurate will be the results. All respondents will automatically be entered into a free prize draw.

The first prize winner will receive a copy of Gary James, The Greatest City, the second prize winner will receive a year’s free membership to the ISC, the third prize winner will win a subscription to City Magazine, while five runners up will receive a copy of the Official Pictorial History book.

Please delete or fill in the necessary details alongside each question and return to

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Thank you for taking the time to fill out this survey. Your details have been entered into the prize draw. The winners will be notified and announced on both Citynet ( and the Supporters’ page (

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Steve Sayer, MCFC


The following are the sum total of inputs I’ve had on this today – there will no doubt be more in near future issues!


I am writing this piece on Wednesday morning, within a couple of hours of discovering that City have sacked Frank Clark. Having posted the pieces I have in MCIVTA recently, I won’t be a hypocrite and say I think it’s a mistake. However, I take no pleasure in the fact that FC has gone. Even though I’m dismayed by our league position and have taken issue with many of FC’s decisions this season, he’s always struck me as a decent, honest bloke. When he was appointed, I really thought it was the first time since the appointment of Kendall that we’d managed to secure a manager with some kind of pedigree at the top level. I thought he’d be there for a long time, which was what we needed after the fiasco of last season. It’s a real shame it didn’t work out.

I also think that the change has been made in a particularly inept way. If the Bury result was the last straw for the directors, they should have told Frank to go at the weekend and done all they could to get the new bloke in with a couple of training sessions to prepare for the next game. What they shouldn’t have done was allow Frank to stay on for the next half week so that the news of his departure could be announced hours before a vital match and so he could make a high profile signing (albeit on loan) in the interim. The fact that the sacking has come now rather than within the 24 hours of the Bury game raises the suspicion that it’s a response by certain individuals to the current boardroom strife rather than a reaction to the team’s position. Then there’s the issue of Tuesday’s statement, which effectively was an ultimatum to FC to get things right. There’s no point in telling someone they’ve to buck up their ideas the day before they’re fired – to do so simply makes the club look ridiculous.

Our image was hardly helped by the fact that no-one told Frank about that ultimatum. There’s a total lack of common courtesy in issuing a public statement commenting on an employee’s performance without having the decency to inform him. As I’ve said already, our league position is such that FC’s position is bound, quite justifiably, to come under scrutiny. I also feel it’s proper for a club with the volume of support ours enjoys to let the fans know that the board is concerned too. However, at the same time, if my employer was about to criticise me in public, I’d like to be the first to know.

Even this shabby episode is overshadowed by the manner of the announcement of the sacking. How would any of us feel about hearing on the radio that we’d lost our job? Treating people with a little dignity and humanity costs nothing – it’s sad to see that those in power at Maine Road appear totally incapable of doing so. To make this fact so obvious so publicly can hardly enhance public perception of our club.

The point is that I’m sick of seeing City as a laughing stock. Part of the reason for people’s view of us, obviously, lies in our team’s unremittingly dismal results and performances. However, it’s exacerbated when we handle important decisions so badly. We seem to have a habit of doing this with our managerial appointments. I used to think Peter Swales was a master in this regard, but not any more after the last four years.

First of all, following the Francis Lee takeover, we had one and a third seasons of Brian Horton being two games from the sack. Horton had been a totally unexpected appointment who probably wouldn’t even have been considered for the job but for the involvement of John Maddock – his track record wasn’t poor but nor did it seem particularly inspiring. If he wouldn’t have been the new board’s choice, that’s understandable – he wouldn’t have been mine either. However, if the chairman can’t or won’t back the manager properly, he should get in someone he can genuinely support. As a result of the failure to do so, the press spent the whole of the 1994/5 season speculating that Brian Horton’s job was in jeopardy, while the strongest backing Lee could offer was that the board hadn’t discussed the managerial situation (contrast this with the “if he goes I go” statement about Ball in October 1995 when we had one point from nine games). No manager can be expected to perform at his best under the kind of pressure Horton was placed under.

Horton’s eventual dismissal was an absolute fiasco. First the club denied it, before being forced to admit to the sacking within 3 hours. The press conference we called was referred to as a “farce” in The Guardian. The search for a replacement was equally laughable – the man we fired got a new job three weeks before we found a new manager. And what a manager! I know that in the end, some of the likely candidates proved out of reach, but surely we could have got someone with a better pedigree than having managed four different clubs to relegation. Lee and Barlow’s pompous abuse of those who dared question the appointment sounds pretty hollow in retrospect, though this is no consolation to the fans.

Next came the failure to sack Ball in the summer instead of allowing him to stay for the first three games of the new season, sell two of our best players in the interim then make a major signing three days before his departure. This was followed by a humiliating six-week trawl for a new incumbent marked by two very public rejections from people offered the job and accusations by two clubs of illegal approaches for their managers.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, our next appointee didn’t even last five weeks in the job. However, embarrassingly, the manager who walked out on us for health reasons after 33 days emerged miraculously recovered at Palace three months later. Of course, I heard all the outlandish rumours about his personal life, though I’m convinced that if there’d been a sensational newspaper tale there, the tabloids wouldn’t have missed out on it. The official version of events seems to be doubtful, too, given Coppell’s rapid return to management and I note than we didn’t follow up on our threats to sue Palace’s chairman over his claims that the illness story was a smokescreen. In other words, something has never been explained which should be.

Finally, we had Phil Neal’s two month interregnum. In this period, we managed to waste £500,000 on a player who was quickly transfer listed by the next manager. Phil Neal was not a man I’d have wished to see in the hot seat at Maine Road, but to his credit, he handled himself with dignity despite being treated extremely shoddily by the club. I remember reading of answers at the 1996 AGM which made it perfectly clear that Neal would not be the new manager, but the club never seemed to think he deserved to know where he stood.

No doubt it will seem to many MCIVTA subscribers that I’m always moaning. Today’s move is, after all, what I advocated six weeks ago, so maybe people might expect me to be happy. However, it’s not the replacement of Clark and the appointment of Royle I’m criticising. I think results were so bad after hefty transfer expenditure that FC’s departure was inevitable – no-one would have been calling for his sacking if we’d been in the bottom half of the table but not in imminent danger of going down. He seemed to have lost the plot somewhat – unable or unwilling to change tactics and team selections which clearly weren’t working. Royle seems to me the best who’s realistically available. I always admired the job he did at Oldham and hoped in those days he’d end up at Maine Road eventually.

What I’m saying is that the timing is strange and the manner of the sacking leaves a sour taste. I don’t like to see the club I love end up a laughing stock, but that’s exactly what we currently are, and the way we’ve gone about making this managerial change simply can’t enhance our image in any way at all. If this was the first time recently we’d handled this type of situation badly, I’d be much less critical. However, the above litany is simply shocking. If Frank Clark deserves to be called to account for his performance, the people responsible for those events must accept that they also deserve fierce criticism for their records. Today’s ineptitude shows that they haven’t learned. At a time when it appears there may be another power struggle brewing, this is not something which should be forgotten.

Peter Brophy (

Got in to work this morning to find on Soccernet that Joe Royle has been installed as new manager. Whether this has been done more of a face saving exercise for FHL than any other reason is a moot point.

However, I have been reluctant all season to see FC replaced simply because we were not challenging for promotion. With us challenging for relegation things take on a different perspective. Recent City performances have been dire by all accounts, with the exception of the West Ham game, although this was to be expected as all underdogs raise their game for cup matches.

Whatever the reason for the replacement, Royle has got a task on his hands starting tonight. Under Royle I expect the team to be more determined and grim, not simply ready to roll over at a tough challenge. That is what is needed to get us out of Division 1 – a quality lost on City since relegation. This may of course lead to the selling of Gio.

I hope that this managerial change will not lead to FHL remaining on the board. Improvements in off the field activities count for nothing if the club is languishing in Division 1 or is relegated. What I had believed was a mistake by FHL in not clearing out the deadwood once he had joined the board may turn out to be our saving grace as it will be easier to buy out his approximately 10% of the shares. I would also like to see the removal of Greenalls from the board – I cannot imagine that their contributions to our club amount to much.

Maybe this time around there is something for us all to get excited about.

Jonathan Tod (

Well I am writing this the day after I sent in my last peace. As I am writing this F.C. has been sacked by us. Has the right man gone, or is it Frannie trying to buy himself time?

I feel that now F.C. has gone Frannie should follow, just look at the appointments he has made! My feeling is that he will not go and in 12 months (or less) we will be back here again. The more I think about it the more convinced I am that he and his friends must go.

“Division Two calling you Man City…”
“Division Two calling you Man City…”

Blue inside again – Tony “the tattooed donkey” Hulme North Std Row13 Sec N St 10 (

How many managers are we still paying off? Joe Royle (if the reports are true) is probably the best choice in managers we have had for years but I wonder how long it will be before the first chant of “Royle Out!” will be heard from the stands?

City Till I Die, But F*** Knows Why! Jordan Heys (

Christ, can’t we do anything right?

Scenario One.

A big time team with a big struggle on their hands. Relegation threatens. Lets get a new manager with a dodgy track record. He’ll give the troops a kick up the Rs and we’ll avoid relegation. All hail the messiah – There’s only one Frank Clark, one Frank Clark…

Scenario Two.

A big time team with a big struggle on their hands. Relegation threatens. Lets get a new manager with a dodgy track record. He’ll give the troops a kick up the Rs and we’ll avoid relegation. All hail the messiah – There’s only one Joe Royle, one Joe Royle…

Déjà vu. Been there, done that, read the book, seen the film got the T-shirt – shame it was Valley of the Dolls.

Meanwhile, boardroom antics mean there might be a new chairman and if so what happens to Royle on Friday? £500,000 compensation for Clark et al, what price Royle with his new three year contract?


I hope he turns things around, I hope we avoid relegation. I hope we’re in the Premiership this time the year after next. We’ll give the manager our full support. He needs our backing. This is a long term thing. We must stand together. One Frank Clark, there’s…

I hope he turns things around, I hope we avoid relegation. I hope … We’re not kissing our future goodbye. One Joe Royle, there’s …

We’ll all know by Friday.

Martin Purdy (


It was spring 1969, I was eight and we were home in Dublin, on annual leave from India. I knew nothing about football but quickly realised I needed a favourite team and player for street cred. In desperation, I decided that the player featured on the back of the following week’s Tiger and Jag (the boys’ comic for those too young to remember) would fulfil both these prerequisites. The player was one Francis Lee and I thought I had heard of Manchester City. I hadn’t, it was the other shower as I soon discovered!

So this timid, slow, tall and very skinny left back became Francis Lee. I was too young to see the incongruity.

I am quite sure that my initial choice could and probably would have been reversed if City, much to my surprise, had not been playing in the FA Cup Final the following Saturday. My recollection of the time span may be faulty; if anyone collects T & Js from this era, can they confirm this? In a flush of enthusiasm, I decided I had better watch my team. I have no recollection of any sense of euphoria and suspect that it meant as much to me as when your raindrop wins the race down the window.

It was the best of times and the worst of times to be a City fan. I had just started in a boarding school, run by nuns, and very remote from the outside world. There was no MotD, Big Match or newspapers and radios were very thin on the ground. Miraculously, I found a nun with an interest in football and it was from her that I learned of City’s Cup Winners’ Cup and League Cup triumphs. Although at this stage I had rapidly evolved into an avid City fan, the joy was in limited measure as the victories seemed remote.

My relationship with football, and hence City, changed dramatically in 1972 when I acquired a radio. It was a Confirmation gift from my parents their original suggestion, a bible, was politely but firmly declined (I also formally confirmed my allegiance by choosing Francis as my saints name). From then on, every Saturday was spent with a radio perched on my left shoulder as I tuned to Radio 2 for all the latest scores. I was now a participating City fan as the joy and sorrow could be experienced live. More importantly, the mere act of me listening must in some small way influence City’s results, presumably for the better.

My relationship with City has, primarily, been a private affair. Football is not a passion in India. Worse still, Dublin must have the highest Utd:City fan ratio in the world; United are perceived as Catholic and have had a string of Irish greats. City, before the arrival of Niall, had only had Jimmy Conway and Tony Grealish; both past their prime. Apart from my brother, eight years younger and indoctrinated by me at an early age, I did not know another City fan until I was eighteen. I found another when I was twenty-nine. There is something almost Livingstone/Stanleyesque on such occasions. So, it has mainly been me, my brother and the radio.

The more alert readers, if they have persevered this far, will have noticed that there has been no mention of Maine Road. Apart from TV, I have never seen City play a competitive match! I have seen them three times in Ireland: vs. Drogheda when Mick McCarthy trapped everything on his chest; vs. Shamrock Rovers when Niall was majestic; and vs. Glasgow Celtic when one Gerry Creaney terrorised the City defence. I have every intention of making it to Maine Road, but don’t ask me when. After almost thirty years of waiting, the occasion has to fulfil a number of basic requirements:

  • It has got to be a big match
  • City have got to be in superb form, and
  • Victory must be assured.

The alternative plan is that one of my kids begs me to take them to Maine Road and I do it for his sake. Then, if it is something less than perfection, it can be chalked up as yet another sacrifice made. Plan B is even remoter than Plan A as the older boy is only five, has no interest in football and has sufficient social skills to eventually choose the Reds to ensure peer acceptance.

So for the time being it remains me, my brother, the radio, MCIVTA (which is tremendous) and pulling on the blue jersey for the Tuesday evening 5 a side when this even slower, taller, skinnier left back becomes Georgi Kinkladze!

Willie O’Gorman c/o, Dublin


I have been going to Maine Road for near on 35 years now and feel sorry for the youngsters of today who are having to put up with watching the Blues attempt to play so called football.

My story goes something like this:

I was born in Crumpsall, Manchester some 40 years ago to a true Blue family, and was brought up in Moston which if you don’t know is just on the outskirts of Newton Heath (yes unfortunately Rag country or it was then, in fact my house in Faversham St used to be a stone’s throw from Newton Heath loco, S****’s former ground). My father, gran, grandad; uncles and aunts on my fathers side were all Blues through and through, but can’t say the same for my cousins or youngest brother Alan who supports Oldham. My mother’s family weren’t football fans but liked the horses (they should go to Maine Road now and watch some of the donkeys play).

My first visits to the academy are faded now but I started going in season 61/62 when I was 4/5 years old, I used to sit on the sloped wall in the Kippax, on my dad’s shoulders or in fact anywhere where a mere 3′ kid could see. I was often put on the crush rails in the old Platt Lane stand to gain a decent vantage point. I can still taste the Oxo which I used to drink at half time after taking cod liver oil and malt to keep me healthy or so my mother had said.

I used to wind my dad up something cronic by telling him I was going Red. As you can probably understand this tugged at his heart strings, I didn’t ever mean it but got noticed like this in a poor working class area. My cousin on the other hand who is 3 months younger than me was a Rg and most of the time wasn’t allowed in our house (slight exaggeration but you know what I mean). I didn’t particularly like him for being a Rag but it made me determined to stay Blue if he was an example of Rag. Rags were almost brought up not to go to the matches in those days, much the same now unless you live in London or anywhere but Manchester BG> but my cousin did make the occasional visit to that place in Salford. Anyway enough about the s***e.

Let’s talk Blue.

I vaguely remember the Tottenham on ice match because they used an orange ball and the touchlines were formed by shovels moving the snow/ice away from the pitch. I went to most of the matches when dad could afford it because by now there was also my younger brother Paul to consider; needless to say also Blue. I watched City avidly during the Mercer/Allison period and always remember big Mal in his fedora hats. I was at the games when he got banned from the touchline and remember him in the stands. I have seen City’s glory years and so much want them to return PG. City were the football force in Manchester and it was great going to school giving so called S***e fans s**t when we pasted them (what has happened since is history as they say). Somewhere around this time we lost something as a footballing force and I’m not sure what, but we are still suffering from it, even now despite being the only football team to come from Manchester.

I lived in Moston until I was 15 and moved to Chadderton (my brother Alan was only 6 at this time so went to school in Chaddy hence his allegiance to Oldham) when our old house was pulled down as part of the slum clearance in the early 70’s. This move was implanted in my mind because somehow all my cherished City programmes (most of them autographed) got lost. Very upsetting for me because of the achievements City had made at this time. The only consolation I have is my autograph book which has most of the players’ names in it from this era and my City pennant – FA Cup Final 1969. I still travelled to school at Moston Brook with my brother Paul. We used to go to Brian Kidd’s chippy for school dinners, which he had bought for his mum and often talked to Kiddo in there. I also travelled to the academy but was becoming independent of dad by now. My mate was a Rag and a year older than me, I used to go to Salford with him and he used to come to Maine Road with me, this continued for a couple of seasons until the late 70’s.

I lived in Chaddy for a few more years before leaving home and shacking up with the girlfriend (now wife) and lived in Lower Broughton next to the Cliff on Lower Broughton Road. I couldn’t get to many matches at this time since I had a young family of my own and couldn’t afford it but I moved to Macclesfield with my job in 85 where I live now with my wife and teenage kids.

Once I got settled I started going back to the Academy (house of horrors more apt now) with my own kids. They had no option but to be Blue, I think it makes them better balanced persons especially all the crap they get from S***e; Macc and now Stockport fans to name a few. We are also not that far removed from Vale fans who are also ribbing them at the moment. The kids give as good as they get after a fine upbringing even if I say so myself.

Between my dad, young nephews and my own children we hold 6 regular season tickets in the family stand and have been going ever since. I am saving for next season but don’t see how MCFC or FHL can justify a hike in the prices for playing lower grade football. I’m praying that we scrape it. I suppose one positive point is that one relegation slot has already gone to that ginger haired t**t Alan Ball so there are only 2 left.

For my nephews, children’s and MCFC’s sake somebody do something now which will make our club great again. I try to reassure them that we will be great again and if you say it quickly you can begin to believe it, be but on present performances I’m not sure. Living in Macclesfield is rather ironic at the moment because the thought of playing Macc next year is a real possibility.

I jested to the kids on that fateful day when the 2-2 draw against the scousers ensured relegation that it will be 2000 before we are playing in the Premiership again, but that statement is coming back to haunt me. What have we achieved since then ‘Rock All’.

What can we do apart from putting up with it and keeping on supporting the sleeping giant MCFC? I am a member of the Macclesfield Supporters’ Club as are my children, I would rather be dead than Red.

Is there any light at the end of this very dark tunnel we are in?

Desperate Blue ( :


Q: How many Manchester City managers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: You’re sacked.

Andy Jackson (


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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]Geoff Donkin,

Newsletter #373