Newsletter #377

There was an altogether different atmosphere at Maine Road this weekend; somehow there appeared to have been a collective realisation that, if we’re to get out of this mess, then we all have to pull together. Consequently, there was much support for the team, including a marathon session of ‘Blue Moon’, from what appeared to be the lower tier of the Kippax nearest the away supporters. Funnily enough, there’s an article exhorting us all to do just this (get behind the team) and suggesting that we as fans must share the blame if players lose confidence; however, this was written before Saturday.

Apologies for the lack of news, unfortunately Steve McNally has had to go away on business; service back to normal on Thursday. The only ‘events’ that spring to mind are Gio allegedly telling the News of the Screws that he wanted to join Liverpool, and Joe Royle telling Andy Buckley of GMR, that we’d very possibly have another new player in the line up for Tuesday!

After last week’s mail problems, Paul and Jeremy have tweeked the server to circumvent the problems; hopefully these should be cured for now.

Lastly, unbeknown to the poster, the ‘Blue humour’ in MCIVTA 376 was actually from the Times (Sunday, I think).

Next game, Huddersfield Town away, Tuesday 3rd March 1998


MANCHESTER CITY vs. WEST BROMICH ALBION, Saturday 28th February 1998

Team: Wright, Whitley (Jeff), Symons, Wiekens, Tskhadadze, Briscoe, Whitley (Jim) (sub. Beesley), Brown, Beardsley, Rösler, Bradbury.
Unused Subs: Russell, Dickov.

Finished my shift on Friday night and came home to read MCIVTA 376. Thoroughly enjoyed reading the Colin Bell interview and the anonymous piece about FHL etc. Was starting to really look forward to the match and so turned on Friday night’s Ceefax to see that Kinkladze (definitely) and Shelia (probably) would play, so I was mightily surprised to hear JR state on Saturdays GMR pre-match programme, that Gio was definitely out with a continuation of the ankle problem that has dogged him over the past few weeks.

Arrived at my seat after purchasing another City bob hat (keep losing them!). Willie Donachie (looking leaner than when he played for us) and Asa Hartford were on the pitch using some new training routines (ball skills mainly) to get the team warmed up. There was a snow storm swirling around Maine Road but it soon subsided.

We lined up looking like 5-3-3 but Briscoe was pushing forward so much with the ‘King of the Air’ filling in behind him, that we looked to be playing more of a 4-4-2. The players definitely looked happier and more organised and although the Baggies had a lot of the early possession, they didn’t trouble us once. Rösler was looking very hungry compared to the FC days with a definite extra spring in his step. The best chance for City came when Beardsley put an exquisite ball through to Bradbury who had timed his run perfectly. Unfortunately he dragged the shot wide to huge groans from the fans. I can’t understand the barracking of Bradbury. Apart from the obvious misfortunes in front of goal he works his socks off and is starting to combine well with Uwe now that he wants to play for us. I’m sure the goals will start to come now that the side is becoming more settled (only 1 change from the Reading match!).

We were starting to fade a bit when Symons picked out Bradbury on the edge of the area. Bradbury laid the ball off beautifully for Uwe to volley home, 1-0 after 41 minutes. Just what we needed as the crowd were starting to get a little restless. Just after our goal Tommy Wright made a good save to turn away Albion’s only shot of the half.

City grew in confidence in the second half although you did get the impression that we were starting to sit on the lead a little especially when JR took Jim Whitley off and sent on Beesley, releasing Wiekens to play a little further forward. Jim wasn’t having one of his better days so the move made sense. Peter Beardsley was battling away for every ball and using it constructively when in possession. Give me Beardo instead of Gio anyday on this form. We put together the best move I have seen at Maine Road this season when Beardsley won the ball well in his own half and fed Briscoe on the wing. Briscoe checked back and passed inside to Wiekens who beat his man and slipped the ball through to Brown who was on one of his surging runs. Browny reached the edge of the box and fed Whitley overlapping on the right who sent over an inch perfect cross to Uwe whose head met the ball perfectly for what seemed like a certain goal. Unfortunately it was straight at the ‘keeper from point blank range and it bounced to safety. In truth City created far more chances than WBA and never looked in any danger of getting anything less than 3 points. We had one scary moment in the last 5 minutes but in a season rife with scary matches it was a mere hiccup.

I don’t want to trumpet another false dawn but the signs were definitely there and when JR echoed the comfortable nature of this win saying that it wasn’t ‘vintage’ City you know what he is aspiring to. Roll on Huddersfield.

P.S. The fans were brilliant (another 28,000 plus). I know the club denied the rumours about Gio signing for Liverpool (£7 million) on Saturday but I have a feeling moves are afoot behind the scenes and that he may have played his last match for us. I for one will be very sorry to see him go.

Wright 7, Whitley (Jeff) 7, Symons 7, Tskhadadze 7, Briscoe 8.5, Wiekens 8, Whitley (Jim) 6, Beesley 7, Beardsley 9, Brown 7, Rösler 8, Bradbury 7.

Please note my new e-mail address if you have been trying to write to me regarding MCIVTA T-shirts.

Ken Foster (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. WEST BROMICH ALBION, Saturday 28th February 1998

I really wasn’t looking forward to the game against West Brom at all on Saturday. West Brom have been on a bit of a slide recently, and with the possible exception of Swindon last weekend we seem to do that sort of team a favour – Bury, Reading, and Huddersfield earlier in the season to name just a few. As we were driving down Platt Lane there seemed to be no-one around, none of the usual hordes rushing eagerly towards the anticipated masterly performance that City would one day produce. Could this be the day that we’d all finally decided we’d had enough? Well, obviously not, when we got to the ground there was a huge queue for tickets – the attendance in the end was 28,460, unbelievable. They must have all got there early and gone to the pub.

Anyway, we welcomed back Willie Donachie after all these years before the game, and he did look pleased to be back. Maybe he didn’t go to Reading, or maybe he’d been in the pub too, who knows. I don’t know whether Scully had made it back from Stoke or not but he didn’t appear to be there, not even on the bench. Also missing was Kinkladze, who teletext had reported to be fit not 24 hours earlier. The rumours immediately started sweeping the ground that he wasn’t there because he’d gone over to Liverpool that morning to sign for them for £7 million. Someone rang GMR after the game to say that this was a load of rubbish – he’d been sitting just behind the directors’ box in the Main Stand and Gio and Shelia were both sitting in there having a right old natter during the game. City therefore lined up with Wright, Whitley jr, Symons, Tsh, Wiekens and Briscoe, Brown, Whitley Sr, Beardsley, Bradbury and Rösler. Subs were Beesley, Dickov and Russell. We sat down, we shivered a bit and we kicked off.

City, as usual, kicked off quite brightly. Rösler was caught offside after about 15 seconds (at least he was running forward) and then was foiled by the ‘keeper who came out from his goal line to collect a lovely through ball from Beardsley milliseconds before Rösler got there. We did look better than West Brom, which I have to admit was a pleasant surprise. The Baggies’ ‘keeper (Miller, ex-Boro I think) soon showed he was going to be a bit of a pain as he came for crosses well, dived and collected the ball well, commanded his defence well and covered his area well. I can’t really understand why Boro let him go, after all they had Andy Dibble in goal for them on Sunday and look how well he did… Still, City looked as if they were in command and it wouldn’t be too long before the breakthrough had to come. How many times have I said that this season? I hate to think. Lee Briscoe had an excellent game at left back. He has said he prefers full back to wing back but he played really well, keen to get forward and he put some good crosses in. He won endless corners and throw-ins in front of us during the first half. It’s ironic really that we’ve got him on loan because he’s been pushed out of the Sheffield Wednesday team by Andy Hinchcliffe, Ah well, c’est la vie and all that. The only time Miller looked even slightly dodgy was from corners as he kept scaring his defence by punching out rather than catching the ball. Ooh, Eike Immel…

West Brom did have a couple of good chances in the first half hour but didn’t ever look like scoring. Tsh was good in the air again and I thought Symons had another good game – I know many people will disagree with me and I accept he can’t pass the ball but he made some superb interceptions so at least give him credit for that. I didn’t know Jeff Whitley could play at right back but he had the best game there that he’s had for a while. The first chance of City’s that should have been a goal came after about 25 minutes. I’m afraid I didn’t see who played the shot but Miller produced a wonderful diving save at the foot of his right hand post to prevent what was a certain goal. Not many ‘keepers would have saved that – remember the Banks save against Pele? I’m not exaggerating, it was on that level. Git. Just after that, Wiekens hit a volley that unfortunately hit one of the City players in the box. Knowing that a draw could leave us bottom if Portsmouth and Bury both won, we were starting to get a little bit nervous. Moonchester decided to have a wander round the ground to cheer us all up a bit, which was appreciated most by the West Brom fans who started a rousing chant of “what the f*** is that”. I wish they’d been put in the tinpot scary stand, would have served them right if they got snowed on, having a go at our Moonie – what do they do for a mascot anyway? Some bloke with a paper bag over his head? On the pitch, Bradbury created a good chance for Rösler when he actually won the ball from someone halfway in the West Brom half. I don’t know who was more surprised, Bradbury when he won the ball or us that he’d tried.

Anyway, while Moonchester’s attempts to make us smile may not have worked, Rösler’s suddenly worked a treat. A pinpoint cross from Symons (yeah okay, it may have been a hoof but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on this one) found Bradbury’s head. Inch perfect lay off to Rösler, wham in the net – goal – 1-0 – go absolutely wild. If the Baggies fans had been singing it would have shut them up.

As soon as we kicked off though I found myself wondering if we could hold out till half time or if the usual lack of concentration would result in getting West Brom an instant equaliser. Well, call me a kipper if we didn’t go straight on the attack again and almost get a second goal. This wasn’t City I was watching, it was a football team.

They were deservedly cheered off at half time. The only possible disappointment for me from the first half were the performances of Jim Whitley and Michael Brown, who weren’t throwing themselves around nearly as much as they can do. Whitley kept getting caught in possession all the time and Brown seemed to be hanging back from making tackles rather than diving in with his customary, er, commitment. Still, Beardsley was having his best game yet and Rösler and Bradbury hadn’t stopped running all half.

No changes at half time and the second half seemed to pass really quickly. A big fat West Brom fan took his shirt off and ran down to the front of the North Stand then back up to the top again in an attempt to wake the Baggies fans up, but only succeeded in making himself very cold. We should have scored a couple more in the second half (to add to the 3 we should have scored in the first half, why do opposition ‘keepers always play blinders against us?) including one powerful header which was again going in by the foot of the right hand post, only for Miller again to somehow stick out a foot and stop it going in. I was beginning to seriously dislike this man. Something really strange happened early in the second half too. We’d just been commenting on how Jim Whitley hadn’t been playing well at all, when he was substituted for Beesley. Eh? What sort of tactics are they? Aren’t we supposed to take off Beardsley, or Rösler, and bring Brannan on? None of this making the right decision and strengthening the defence for me, thank you very much, I’d rather have the old “bring a striker on with three minutes to go” tactics employed by Clark. Aargh am I saying, Royle you’re a genius, you understand what substitutions are for.

We aren’t used to this. Beesley happily settled into the middle of our (now) six man defence and looked very competent. The last five minutes or so were as nervy as ever but that really was down to the fans panicking rather than the players. Brown remembered what the best bit of his game was and started tackling in the middle of the pitch, and anything that did get past him was easily cleared by the defence or collected by Wright. We hung on, and the chant of Blue Moon at the end could probably have been heard in Liverpool. Where Gio wasn’t signing a contract that morning. Honest.

So, conclusions from the game. Well, we really shouldn’t get too excited by it all. West Brom were pretty clueless all game, we had lots of chances but only managed to put one away, and the two players who put in really excellent performances are only with us on loan. Having said that, it would have been easy for the confidence to be completely lacking after what had happened at Reading, yet Rösler and Bradbury had their best game together yet. I still think Bradbury has some way to go before being anything like the finished article (or a £3.5 million player) but he’s getting into position far better now than he had been. I don’t know why City are incapable of being consistent but if they could put in steady performances like Saturday’s every game then we wouldn’t have the relegation worries we do have. You’ll never have an ideal run in to the end of the season but we’ve still to play Huddersfield, Port Vale and Stoke who are all as crap as we are. I’ll be amazed if we do beat the Udders on Tuesday, but then I’d settle for win one, lose one right the way through now. Another six wins should see us safe. Hmm.

Sharon Bennett


I am a small shareholder in the club and thought everyone might like to know how the club’s six monthly figures that have just been released look:

                                Six Months      Six Months
To 30/11/97 To 30/11/96
£000 £000

Turnover £7,773 £6,059
——- ——-
Operating (loss) / profit (£119) (£100)

Interest payable (£452) (£691)
——- ——-
Loss before transfer fees (£571) (£791)

Net transfer fees
(payable)/received (£5,321) £321
——– ——-
Loss on ordinary
activities (£5,892) (£470)

It’s fairly straightforward – the club has lost another £6 million in the last accounting six months. It is encouraging, however, that turnover has increased by around 28% – mainly due to Mike Turner’s commercial activities I am sure.

Francis Lee says in his covering statement that the modest operating loss (before transfer fees) is due to “the high wage levels paid to our playing staff” and the “the Board recognise that these costs require significant reductions and these savings will be effected as quickly as circumstances allow.”

Not too much to comment on really – it’s pretty plain that we are in a mess!

Joel Adams (


The British Aerospace branch of the Centenary Supporters’ Association have a sportsman’s dinner on April 16th. Guest speaker is Mr. Fred Eyre, also in attendance will be Gary Owen, Tommy Booth and hopefully(!) one or two representatives from Manchester Uni (sorry, I can’t finish typing that).

It may seem strange that we are hoping for visitors from the Swamp; the reason for this is that we intend to donate half of the proceeds to the families of the victims of the Munich air disaster. I’m sure that most Blues feel, as we do, that the events of that tragic night should not be treated with ridicule to our own personal type of colour blindness, and that helping the families of so many players, journalists (including one of our own) etc. who were lost is a deserving cause. Tickets are £20.

The evening will be held at the Lancaster Club, Failsworth. For furthur information on this or any other aspect of the BAe branch you can phone our information line 0961-846415 (Tony) or you can email me at Branch information can also be found on our website at:

Ian Blinkhorn – Blinx (


No doubt people are unaware that in God’s chosen sport (Rugby League of course), the future of the Super League is being put out to the highest bidder. Clubs are having to bid for a franchise regardless of position or heritage. Former Wigan chairman Jack Robinson has got together with “mystery” backers to put a team together to take over the franchise for the Manchester area. The backers are allegedly close to City and their intention is to play at Maine Road and ultimately turn it into a rugby only stadium. Using contacts from within the rugby league world I believe this consortium also have interests in taking over Sale rugby union club to create a Manchester team for both codes based at Maine Road.

Another interesting point to note is that our friends at Lancaster Gate are watching the franchising of rugby league with great interest. Many people in football believe this to be the future for the round ball game. Think we’d win a franchise bid against the other club bearing the Manchester name? Before you dismiss this, a couple of years ago I never imagined my beloved Salford Reds would be forced to bid for their own existence in the top flight after achieving this position through their own merit. A franchised football Premier League would secure future income for the lucky winners. Remember UEFA don’t want the League Cup to merit a European place. The isolation of the Football League has already started. A small Premier League with secure teams will happen.

Something to look forward to then.

CASASTID (City and Salford and Stupid til I die) – Chris Hill (


This article was taken from the Football 365 website.

What a shocking revelation!

New Premiership Fans’ Survey Shows Reds’ Fiddle

A year ago, there was one striking anomaly in the Carling Premiership Fans’ Survey, which has been corrected by the publication today of the 1996-97 season report. Last year, the Manchester Evening News trumpeted that, officially, Manchester United’s support was one of the most local in the League. In this year’s survey, United are shown to have more fans born further than 20 miles from the ground than any other club, and share with Leeds and Liverpool the distinction of having 52% of their fans travelling from more than 100 miles away to watch them.

How can this have changed so much in a year? The answer is, it hasn’t. In the survey on the 1995-96 season, though, Manchester United were one of two clubs who refused to allow the survey to be conducted on the terms requested. The Sir Norman Chester Centre For Football Research at Leicester University were able to use a representative sample for 18 out of the 20 clubs, but both Liverpool and Manchester United insisted on sending out the surveys to a selection of season ticket holders themselves. The researchers were still happy with the Liverpool sample, as it matched the norms in terms of the age and sex of the sample, and indeed suggested that Liverpool had the greatest number of supporters who didn’t live near the club. Manchester United’s sample, however, was much older, much more male – and much more local.

Last year’s report made clear that the United figures were untrustworthy but the press paid no heed and went for the headline figure. This year, the samples were all conducted on an even basis and the result is that, officially, Manchester United have more bandwagon-jumpers than any other club does. United fans also spent more money following their team than anyone else, a whopping £1,248 per annum on average. As this includes the cost of their long-distance travel, as well as their tickets and food, that isn’t really a surprise.

John McEnroe (


Heard this morning on the radio that a survey of Premier League teams revealed that only 52% of MU season ticket holders live within 100 miles of the ground! Not everything in red and white makes sense!

Snippet of info’ from my West Ham colleague (with contacts); Berkovic has been whinging about increased contract terms or else he’s off abroad. Redknapp has made discreet enquiries about Gio as a replacement. Watch this space.

Looked at the league table this morning, (Sat. 28/02) Stockport in play-off position, City joint bottom. Please tell me it’s a bad dream and I’ll wake up soon.

If (when) we go down and should Stockport go up, I wonder if FHL will offer to swap grounds with them?

CTID, Dave Ball, Hyde, Cheshire (


After having read the 7-point plan to oust Francis Lee by the “Free the Manchester 30,000” bandwagon, I feel compelled to comment. I am looking to start a campaign called: “Free the real Manchester 30,000 from the publicity-seeking Manchester 6 who call themselves the Manchester 30,000, and who probably used to be members of the Forward with Frannie campaign”.

I personally like Francis Lee and believe he has the best interests of the club at heart. I think he would be at least as devastated as us if we go down, and let’s face it, he has more at stake than you and I. I certainly do not think he is as “power crazy” as Swales was during his reign. I think he should be critisised for his handling of the Clark and Horton sackings, though I feel the media latched onto the Clark thing at the Bury match the night before and blew it up so much that Lee was unable to break the news to Clark the next morning. You could say that Lee was naïve and it was handled badly, but Clark had to go! After bringing Whitley off against Bury, and with 25,000 chanting “Clark out”, I was surprised to see him last till Wednesday. At least Clark could count. In his post-mortem match interviews, all he ever said was “I don’t know what went wrong out there, but there’s 22, 21,20,19,18,17,16,15* (*delete as applicable) games left, and the players need to stand up and be counted.” I think “15 games left” was his last interview, and as for the players standing up to be counted, well Frank could have used all his fingers and all his toes, and Richard Money’s, and Alan Hill’s, and he may have had just enough to count the near-60 pros on his books.

There was absolutely no doubt in my mind that we would be relegated if Clark stayed. Going to matches home and away as I do, was like watching a member of your family dying from a terminal disease, with more bad days than good ones. Every win was followed by failure. City have turned that many corners in the last 15 months, that I swear we are in a bloody big maze! Everybody but Clark could see the problems, no regular team, no width, 5 at the back at home, good performances resulting in being dropped to the reserves, low morale, lack of respect by the players for Clark, and so lack of effort as a result.

Some of you may remember my DOSLA stats summary in early January prior to the Portsmouth game when I stated, and I quote:

“We are in a rut. The team have this mental barrier of winning 2 games on the run. Frank Clark is tactically naïve. Ged Brannan has never been sub. or subbed. We should get rid of Clark, Hill and Money today. Get Joe Royle and Willie Donachie in tomorrow. Sell/trade Kinky in a month if things don’t improve, for no less than £8 million, and get a proven goalscorer like Fjørtoft tomorrow.”

Six weeks later, all but the last bit has happened. Winning at Portsmouth was probably what bought Clark time, but had he gone when I said, would we be in the s**t now? I doubt it. We have also proved we can live without Kinky. Though I love him like a brother, one good performance in three is no good in our predicament. Can we not sell him with a “buy-back” clause, that would allow us to buy him back for what we sell him for, when (?) we return to the Premiership? A type of loan deal?

I also suggested that we needed 9 more wins for safety, with home wins against Stockport, Bury, Oxford, QPR and one other, and at least four away wins, most likely at Portsmouth, Port Vale, Huddersfield and Reading. After the West Brom game, 10 games down the road we have 3 wins and 3 draws (let’s call that 4 wins) and 4 defeats. With 11 games to go we still need 5 wins (or 15 points). Reading was a bad defeat as they had lost 4 on the bounce. Had we won there, we would now have 3 straight wins and 39 points. I believe the next three games against Huddersfield, Oxford and Port Vale will decide our fate, as they are all 6-pointers. Tuesday’s game at Huddersfield is especially significant as a win would break the hoodoo but defeat would set the alarm bells ringing again. Who would be a Blue at the moment? Me, I would, and I always will be!

One last point. Point 7 on the “Free the Manchester 30,000” plan calls, and I quote “on the fans to get behind the team in the desperate fight against relegation, but at the same time take every opportunity to campaign against Lee both inside and outside the ground.” This is utter b******s. If you want Lee out, wait till the season is finished. As Joe Royle asked via Vince Miller before the West Brom game, forget the protests and give all your energy to supporting the team. I would say around 75% of the crowd applauded Joe’s wishes, which is about 21,000 fans. That must mean we have 51,000 City fans, 21,000 want Frannie in, 30,000 want Frannie out (allegedly). With crowds like that we would have no problem filling the new stadium. We do get behind the team at away games (90% of the time anyway), and look at the difference. We currently have the 10th best away record and the 24th best (i.e. the worst) home record! Please, please, please don’t criticise the team for silly mistakes, we all make them (funny, but I seem to remember asking the same on MCIVTA last September). That way we can hold our heads high and say we did our bit to help. If we don’t get behind them, in the summer we may not have a team to get behind.

P.S. God help us all if Noel and Liam get within a “sniff” of a seat on the board. City would be the first club to have drug testing in the board room.

Q. Which player played for 3 managers in 24 hours?
A. Peter Beardsley (Colin Todd, Frank Clark, Joe Royle).

Steve Kay ( or


I sit here, still unrecovered from the trauma of the previous night’s visit to Reading, as news of Bury’s victory at Birmingham filters through on my radio. Our club is now second bottom of the First Division – reduced to the status, Manchester’s fourth club. My mind is preoccupied by two questions… firstly, how did we ever get into this mess and secondly (and much more importantly) how the hell are we going to get out of it? These are questions that clearly trouble many of us. Our conclusions, accurate or otherwise, provide this newsletter with much of its content and provokes much of the conversation in the bars and the football grounds we visit around the country. The final consensus we reach, allowing for variations in emphasis and theme, generally goes something along the following lines:

  • The board in general and Peter Swales/Francis Lee in particular are eithertotally incompetent or self seeking and do not have City at heart.
  • Our manager __________ (the blank here enables you to select any one orcombination of the previous nineteen or so that best illustrates your point)is unable to motivate the players, has no tactical awareness and ispatently not up to the job.
  • Our players lack passion and have no pride in wearing the City shirt.

Oh dear… not a very promising analysis now is it? However, despite all of this we can rise above it because after all City have “the greatest fans in the world”.

Ok… time to put this one to the test I think. Perhaps a time for a wee look in the mirror. What are the qualities required to be “the greatest fans in the world”?

Right… first of all “the greatest fans in the world” would need to be loyal. Oh boy are we loyal to the point of stupidity… no argument there. Next!

Secondly “the greatest fans in the world” would need to be passionate. Hell, we are all ‘City til we die’… don’t try to tell us anything about passion! Hey, we’re doing well here!

Thirdly “the greatest fans in the world” would turn their home ground into a fortress, a cauldron. And boy, have we just done that at Maine Road. Unfortunately, however, the victims are our own team.

I have read every article published in this newsletter over the months. I have listened to every opinion expressed to me in pubs, terraces and stands. The recurring theme is disillusionment (not surprisingly), defeatism (less acceptable) and very sadly the targeting of certain individuals to a point where the bandwagon effect is now so great that all objectivity in relation to these people is in danger of being lost. I will take the example of the season’s three favourite whipping boys – Brannan, Brightwell and Symons – to illustrate the final point.

Ged Brannan – perhaps City should not have bought him, perhaps he should not have been in the side as regularly as he was. I would not necessarily argue with either opinion if offered to me. However, neither of the above are Ged Brannan’s fault so why do we slaughter the player? These were management decisions. Whatever our opinion of Brannan’s playing ability, for the ninety minutes he was out on that pitch wearing that blue shirt we should be building that player up so high that he thinks he is Pele! If you think he is crap, fair enough, just remember he is our crap. If you think a player is not giving 100%, by all means, blame that player. If you think he should not be in the side, blame the manager.

Ian Brightwell – During the pre-game warm up at Reading, this player was having a kickaround in the penalty area in front of our fans. In the silence, one of our ‘fans’ screams out “You’re s**t Brightwell” from the back of the terraces. The sound carried clearly in the night and I watched Bob’s face visibly change expression and the hurt was clearly evident. This is a player that has been with our club since his schooldays; a player who has been shunted round every position on the field without complaint by a succession of managers; a player who, to my knowledge, has never featured in either the backpages of a newspaper article critical of the club or on the front pages bringing disrepute on it. This is the player who selflessly postponed his testimonal entitlement to enable his friend and colleague Paul Lake to pursue his. This is a player who not too long ago we exalted as a hero when he smacked in a thunderbolt against the Rags. This is a player who has consistently been one of the most willing to make time to meet and chat with fans of this club. This is a person who genuinely is what we all profess to be – CTID. All of this may not be enough for some… but to me it earns the guy my unqualified respect and support every time he walks out of that tunnel with a City shirt on his back.

Kit Symons – good enough to be an established international, good enough to feature prominently in our Player of the Season poll in his first season. Not good enough in the views of many to merit a first team player in a struggling First Division side. This one is perhaps the most patent example of fan cruxification. This player lost form as a result of being asked to take over the rôle of defensive organiser (a rôle he is clearly unsuited to) in the wake of Curle’s transfer… fans get on his back… player loses confidence as well as form. This is a good player – he proved that for a number of seasons at Portsmouth: he also proved it in a City shirt. His heart is at this club – everything he says, all of the Supporters’ Club activity he involves himself in shows his total commitment to the cause. Tolerance and support – not critisism and abuse is called for. Turning Shakespeare around – let’s come to praise not to bury in this instance.

We have little over a quarter of the season remaining – our position is bleak. We have little real influence (much as we would like to think otherwise) about how the board and management pursue their respective tasks between now and the end of the season. Each fan out there, however, who sits in a stand or stands on a terrace between now and the end of the season has a real choice to make.

We can continue to wallow in defeatism, intolerance and self pity. We can continue to believe that the club’s demise is everybody’s fault but ours. We can continue with the banal chants of “s**t ground no fans” (and the ‘that bloody told them’ attitude) as we await the next defensive calamity to befall us. We can continue with this obnoxious snobbery that somehow we are above all of this, that it’s all a terrible mistake that we somehow find ourselves on the terraces at Elm Park or Gigg Lane rather than in the stands of Anfield or Highbury. We can continue to reduce our players to shimmering wrecks as they await the crescendo of critisism that greets their next misdirected pass or loss of possession:

or we can

Get out there and support our team. Treat every player wearing a lazer blue shirt as if he is a superstar. Build them up so high that they want to run ’til they drop. Generate a passion from the terraces that makes every opposition team know that they are facing a great club (because we still are a great club… if not necessarily a great side).

I want to see “the greatest fans in the world” stand up and be counted now. I want to hear the sound of Blue Moon shake those stands at Maine Road. I want to see us turn every away game into a home fixture. I want to see us generate a mood of optimism so powerful that critical fans feel uncomfortable around us. I want us to believe.

We are in a mess… but we are all in this together. Only by staying together can we climb out of this. So, stop telling everybody we are “the greatest fans in the world”… just go out there and bloody prove it.

Billy King (


The article by anon who appears to have a good inside knowledge of Maine Road conspiracies makes me to believe that his diagnosis is correct. I did not support Francis Lee when the crowds were out in force with their campaign because to me he had no credentials. Or more specifically he did have some: looking to take over a club which was in deep s**t, he was an expert in the bog roll business. Like many self-made men he is hard working, tough minded, certain of his views and so on. So is Ken Bates, Doug Ellis etc. To me football appears to attract a sort of Victorian mill owner type of character for chairman who in extreme cases takes the club (Brighton, Doncaster) to the verge of oblivion rather than give in to others’ views. If Francis Lee is that kind of chairman then how do we ensure that his exit leads to the glorious entrance of someone who will choose managers well, continue the good bits of FHL’s money management, take Dave Wallace back on to represent the fans but most of all chair a club towards the success that we know and believe should be ours?

This sort of situation leads to the kind of outburst by Makin who clearly lets his emotions run away with him far too much. Fans like someone with passion, forgetting that it is not a quality you need when a cool head is required. The biggest danger is that we start to do with chairmen what we have done with managers: appoint instant heroes/villains all of whom are actually incapable of doing the main task.

I reject the idea that the fans were right to choose FHL but this is not the time to get rid of him either. Forget the chairman. Only Royle and the players can save us from Division 2 which is a tougher division than we think. Tackling the chairman issue at a time of footballing crisis like now would be pure indulgence. We need to cheer the players as they confidently sky the ball over the bar from 5 yards, as they endearingly pass the ball to the opposition, the referee or the corner flag. Confidence is what we can contribute. Any political intrigue started by fans, however correctly diagnosed, cannot lead to anything but uncertainty amongst those who are the only ones who can save us from Division 2.

Timing is everything. You can boo and hiss players/manager/chairman in August with impunity. You have a whole season to put things right. Do it now and you could make a major contribution to the thing you least want to happen.

Peter Llewellyn (


Courage of convictions doesn’t really come into play, when you read an article which defines so clearly the problems which beset our club, and written by somebody who obviously cares so much. The club will never recover until the quagmire at board level is sorted out once and for all, and never allowed to reoccur again. I totally agree with the anonymous article in MCIVTA 376.

Niall Burns (


I am absolutely staggered by some of the reviews for the Swindon game. Some say Wiekens was brilliant, some say awful (and I side with the latter). But, I was amazed that some people thought we were better in the second half without Kinkladze. As theories go, the ‘more effective unit without Gio’ theory just will not die, despite all the evidence to the contrary. How many games have we won without Kinkladze? I rest my case on the evidence to date, and in the vast majority of games when he has played, he has been our only creative outlet despite the attentions of two to three players all given specific instructions to ignore the fodder and get ‘Gio’.

But anyway let’s be clear, the second half performance against Swindon was absolutely appalling. Okay we scored two goals, but these were totally against the run of play for the entire half, and indeed, our only efforts on goal that half. I honestly expected City to ‘fold’ when Swindon got their deserved equaliser, and we would have, if Bradbury and Rösler hadn’t had ‘one off’ games where they looked ‘almost effective’. Despite the Blue-Rose-tinted glasses of the optimistic – these two are just not good enough, and miss too many sitters for my liking – a couple of goals every season is just not acceptable. As for Wiekens, this guy flatters to deceive – exposed as a very poor midfield player, people now think he ‘must be a centre half/sweeper’ which, given City’s usual 7-1-2 approach to football must be the easiest job in football. The guy has no creative intent whatsoever and is nowhere near the standard of the two Georgians. Sadly, Murtaz and Kaz will probably never get a chance to show what they can do in a flat back four, as Symons seems to have found out where Royle has “hidden the bodies” and seems destined to play every game for ever more – despite the clangers.

I know that slagging our players off doesn’t necessarily help matters but neither does blind prejudice or optimism help either. Some City fans just will not give Gio credit for his genius and are looking for the ‘unit squad’ type results that fortunately for me, have never arrived – and yes, Best and Marsh and John Barnes (and probably Pele) had their quiet games too. And they weren’t surrounded by some of the most artless clods I have ever seen. Ditto Rösler and Bradbury, they were bad before their injuries, and have not improved by sitting in bed for 6 months. They might start scoring when we play with wingers (welcome back Scully) but one-on-one against the ‘keeper and it is highly unlikely to be a goal.

We are where we are in the League because Frank Clark was a bad manager who continued to pick underperforming (i.e. bad) players. I rate Royle, but if he just continues to pick Clark’s woeful side then we will not get out of this mess. Look at the Reading line-up: Symons, Brightwell, Rösler, Wiekens, Bradbury; p**s-poor at the start of the season and deservedly sidelined, but now, they are back in the frame and still p**s-poor. So guess what, we get slaughtered.

Dedicated Blue – with the Blinkers off – Neil Haigh (


I am definitely more of a reader than a contributor but have decided that I must make attempts now and again. With the managerial seat being taken over once again by a new man, it seems rather déjà vu to last season when FC eventually arrived, the view to rebuild the club to its former glory and to get itself out of the present relegation zone. The players seem to have played well for the new man to the end of the season, then go on holiday feeling they had worked hard at the end, coming to the new season still in holiday mode and forgetting to play till the new year arrives.

All I can wish for is that Big Joe can start to gel a team that can play again. If it wasn’t for the crap across the road any other club would have gone to the wall, it is the sheer persistence of the City fans refusing to cross to the other side that has kept this club afloat in the thirty years since the beginning of our golden years. Personally on the opinion of managers, one of the most dogged and decent managers we had was Brian Horton, a man on a hiding to nothing, brought in by Swales again to help fight the rot on a shoestring budget. Doing an excellent job around all the board room fighting and publicly being told by the opposition i.e. FHL, that his days were numbered. The only problem being that after the take-over City did their usual renaissance and every week John Morton asking if this was his last day in charge. Eventually losing his post in the usual City débâcle and not once slamming or degrading the club, players or fans. He has even defended the club that treated him, in my opinion shoddily. That is now in the past and hopefully we will see the Blues rise from the ashes as our symbol seems to represent and there isn’t a director standing nearby with another fire extinguisher, as we seem to be at present in a smoke free zone, without a permit to light the fire.

A long way from home Blue – Steve Swindells (


Just a few words:

Came all the way from Norway, spent a lot of money just to watch 90 minutes of crap football. Ian Brightwell was playing… Lee Bradbury was crap. Briscoe looks OK but I thought we had bought Mr. Vaughan… How much? £1.5 million? City fans singing: “We want Swales back… dig him up, dig him up, dig him up.” Looks like Lee has to take all his toilet-papers and walk out of Maine Road soon. Get the Arabs in!

Hello to “the Blue Kiwi”, “the Blue Danube” and the rest of you Blue Viewers that I got the chance to meet at “The Rose and Thistle”. But what happened to the drunken Swede?

Bjorn Haakon Hunt (


Well it’s the same old story; we solve one problem (FC > JR) and we’re faced with another: ‘how will we cope if Gio leaves City?’ Just as to answer our fears, on the back page of the ‘News’ of the World were told that G.K. is really quite interested in a move to Liverpool, ‘a club that he has admired since boyhood.’ Cue panicing, tutting, well-bad mood etc.

Then at dinner time today (Monday 2-3-98) I pick up the MEN and read that Kinky has no clue that he is moving to ‘Pool and the almost traditional club statement is issued; ‘there has been no offers of any sort…’ The truth is this: Gio is leaving. There is no chance that we will see him in a blue shirt next season (…possibly Everton!). The only way we can expect to see him next season is:

  1. If we make the play-offs (if so expect Devil to do ice skating number at half time)
  2. On Sky Sports 1

We need the money, £7 million. That could buy Bury. They beat us. Point taken.

CTHS – City Till He Skates! DP Ward (


I am a southerner, and I’m proud to be one. The nearest I have ever lived to Manchester is Watford, and I now live in Winchester, yet I am Blue through and through.

My father was born a cockney, but during the war as a three-year old he was evacuated to Manchester and stayed with a family who he came to regard as his real family. So much so that even after the war finished and because of bomb damage it was a further ten years before he returned to London. He spent all his school days in Moss side and was brought up to support City.

During my early years he used to take me to watch them play when they were down this way. My first match was as an 8-year old at Wembley in 1969 and I was totally hooked. The following season he took me to Maine Road for the first time and back to Wembley again. From then on there was no stopping me. My keenness became the excuse he needed to take me all over the country to watch them play. When I was a little bit older and allowed to go on my own, I would spend all my pocket money travelling to watch them play, I spent many hours sat on trains going all over the country to see them. I cried at Wembley in 1974 (the memory of seeing a dejected Rodney Marsh walking off the pitch after that defeat, and before collecting his loser’s medal is one that will stick with me all my life). I cried again in 1976, but for a totally different reason. I didn’t miss a weekend game for four seasons and it was heaven. The whole place was alive, Colin was King. the atmosphere was buzzing and it was in my blood.

Then as with all good things it had to come to an end. On leaving school I joined the Royal Navy and spent the following 9 years only managing to see them on the rare occasions when I was back in this country and circumstances allowed. By the time I left the Navy I was married with two children, and living and working in Hampshire, spending some of my time working abroad. I can barely manage half the games a season now and I have to be content with that.

I am still as fanatical as I ever was, I still will not have a red car and last year I won a colour telly in a raffle and then refused to take it because it was made by Sharp (my wife thinks I’m nuts, but then she doesn’t like football).

City till I die! Andy Stevenson, Winchester (


Full-time scores for Sunday, March 1 1998

Nottingham Forest	4 - 0	Middlesbrough
Port Vale		0 - 0	Stoke City

Full-time scores for Saturday, February 28 1998

Bury			1 - 0	Swindon Town
Charlton Athletic	1 - 0	Huddersfield Town
Crewe Alexandra		1 - 0	Reading
Manchester City		1 - 0	West Bromwich Albion
Norwich City		0 - 0	Queens Park Rangers
Oxford United		3 - 0	Stockport County
Portsmouth		1 - 0	Tranmere Rovers
Sheffield United	2 - 1	Bradford City
Sunderland		2 - 2	Ipswich Town
Wolverhampton		1 - 3	Birmingham City

League table – up to and including Sunday, March 1 1998

                               HOME            AWAY
                        P  W  D  L  F  A   W  D  L  F  A   Pts   GS
  Nottm Forest         34 13  2  2 40 16   7  6  4 16 13    68   56
  Middlesbrough        34 12  3  2 32 10   8  5  4 23 21    68   55
  Sunderland           33  9  5  2 33 15   9  3  5 26 21    62   59
  Charlton             34 11  4  1 31 14   6  4  8 26 29    59   57
  Sheff Utd            33 12  4  0 30 12   3  9  5 20 24    58   50
  Birmingham           34  7  6  4 20 12   7  5  5 25 15    53   45
  Ipswich              34  8  4  4 30 16   5  9  4 25 21    52   55
  Stockport            35 11  5  1 36 15   4  1 13 18 33    51   54
  Wolverhampton        33 10  4  3 30 17   5  2  9 13 18    51   43
  West Brom            35  8  4  6 18 18   6  4  7 17 18    50   35
  Bradford             36  9  7  2 22 15   3  5 10 15 23    48   37
  Crewe                35  7  2  9 20 26   7  2  8 24 23    46   44
  Swindon              35  9  3  5 25 19   4  4 10 11 31    46   36
  Norwich              35  7  6  5 16 20   4  4  9 17 32    43   33
  Oxford Utd           34  8  4  4 23 15   3  3 12 20 35    40   43
  QPR                  35  7  7  4 21 17   2  6  9 16 33    40   37
  Reading              34  7  4  7 25 24   3  5  8 10 27    39   35
  Bury                 35  4  9  5 16 19   3  8  6 17 23    38   33
  Tranmere             34  6  6  5 21 17   3  4 10 15 25    37   36
  Man City             35  5  4  9 22 20   4  5  8 16 21    36   38
  Portsmouth           34  7  3  8 23 27   3  3 10 15 23    36   38
  Huddersfield         35  6  4  7 20 20   3  5 10 16 33    36   36
  Stoke                35  5  5  7 21 28   3  7  8 12 21    36   33
  Port Vale            35  5  6  7 20 20   4  2 11 19 32    35   39

With thanks to Soccernet


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Subscriptions & Club Questions: Steve –
Technical Problems: Paul –

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,

Newsletter #377