Newsletter #381

There is only one piece of news today, in fact there are more, but everything else takes second place to the departure of one FH Lee esq. Personally, I thought the GMR DJ who interviewed Noel Bayley summed it all up more than adequately when he suggested that this change was ‘like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.’ Whatever happens now, our fate lies with a very poor team and looks murkier by the minute. There are several reports on the Vale Park fiasco, opinion – including on ‘anon’ posters – one of whom reveals himself!

Lastly, I am sent articles on Oasis concerts on a fairly regular basis these days. However, I’ve decided that they will only get in MCIVTA if they have some real City interest; there are two reasons for this, one is size and the other is the relevance to a footie newsletter. Hope this step meets with your approval!

Next game, Sheffield United at home, Saturday 21st March 1998


PORT VALE vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 14th March 1998

Dateline: Saturday 14th March
Location: Vale Park, the crunch game!

We went, we saw, we couldn’t believe, we lost, we’re in the sh*t!

Another good day out, ruined by the result and the team! Once more I ventured to watch City on a works day-out, get a ticket, meal, transport and therefore a drink to steel myself for the upcoming game. The day started so well with a few bevvies and whilst enjoying my meal heard the Rags had suffered and upset at the hands of the whippersnappers from Highbury! The day got a better when I met Tony and Helen outside the ground and also heard that Rudolph had been injured (BBB mode on – Bang goes the Rags’ Euro dream for another year – please).

City lined up with numerous changes, some enforced, some why?

  GK  UR


The team was announced and the names of Heaney and Brannan were greeted with derision. Brannan before Brown, we need battlers now. Heaney at least he’s a winger but he’s crap, why not play the recalled Scully who was supposed to have been playing brilliantly for Stoke? Once more there were thousands of Blues in attendance to cheer the team on. However, no support could account for the dirge that City served up.

Vale aren’t packed with internationals but they are another team prepared to fight for the cause of the team, they want to be a team, they act like a team; for them this was a crucially important game, a chance to put one over a big club and help themselves away from the bottom. Vale were by far the better team in the early stages, with Ainsworth giving Edghill a torrid time down the flank. Vale scored at about 15 minutes from a free-kick. City pulled everyone back to defend and still the ball went to the far post to find an unmarked Vale player; his cross was scuffed away by Symons only for Martin Foyle to blast home from about 10 yards out and to be fair a fairly due goal. Vale could have made it two nil except Margaret blocked an Ainsworth shot. JR (or was it FC of old) made a strange substitution by replacing Jim Whitley with Dickov. Why did JR take off our only fighter and battler in midfield? Only he knows and I doubt he’ll tell us why. This left the fans feeling perplexed and angry and we let the management know our feelings.

Heaney had had at least three great chances to put a decent cross into the box but blew them all and therefore only enhanced my feelings about the player.

The second half was slightly better, with City matching Vale for ineptness. However, City slightly rallied with Brown and Russell entering the fray to replace the useless Heaney and Brannan. The pressure managed to force a succession of corners and amazingly scored from one of them. Gio crossed the ball to the near post (about all he flaming well did all match), the ball was flicked on by Herr Rösler and Wiekens forced the ball home (all he did all game). Within 10 minutes of drawing level the boys conceded the winner. The defence pushed up and Vale played a through ball and the attacker drew Margaret before squaring the ball to Ainsworth to sweep home the winner. Now I have to ask why were the bench insisting on getting the defence to push up, surely it was patently obvious that Vale had some quick players who would leave our defenders trailing in their wake if they ever got a chance to use their speed? City couldn’t get anything out of the game and the last notable incident was when Rösler was carried off after a clash near the edge of the box. I know a lot of people have said that it was a two-footed tackle but through the melee of players and from my (beer enhanced) view, it appeared like a hard challenge (did he win the ball?).

Final score: Port Vale 2 City 1

So City lost the vital game and are now back in the bottom three; it’s finally about time the club realised what sort of position they’re in and realised it’s only hard work that will get us out of the crap. Another trip to the Potteries could see us consigned to Division 2!

As for some of the performances:
Royle – why did you bring back Heaney and Brannan?
Management – why did you get the defence to press forward? None of them are quick enough to cover lost ground.
Gio – bye bye, another non-display, take the money and get a worker.
Brannan and Heaneywhy?
Whitley‘s substitution – once more why?
Dickov – cheating b*****d, stay on your feet!
Brown – get in midfield!

It appears as though some of the above answers can be answered:
The reason for Heaney instead of Scully, Scully’s been sold to QPR for £155,000.
Reports suggest that Russell wants away and finally Morley has been sent to Ayr United for first team experience.

Martin Ford (


PORT VALE vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 14th March 1998

“You don’t know what you’re doing”

Having had a very nice pub lunch on the way to Vale Park (at the Bull’s Head on the A50 just north of Kidsgrove if anyone’s interested) and finding a parking spot that was quite a bit further from the ground than I thought it was, I only got in with about 5 minutes to spare and found the stand behind the goal packed with Blues and there were more standing down half of the side to our right. Maybe as many as five or six thousand out of a crowd of 13,122. However, many of these “loyal” fans saw fit to boo a few of our players as the sides were announced. If any of these people could tell me how this helps the team, I’d be delighted to know.

City made several changes in personnel and also reverted to a 4-4-2 formation as many people have been advocating. Margetson was in for the injured Wright, Edghill, Brannan and Kinkladze returned after recovering from injury, Heaney was recalled to try to give us some width and Richard Jobson made his début. The line up was therefore:

Jeff Whitley  Symons  Jobson  Edghill
Jim Whitley  Brannan  Wiekens  Heaney

On the bench were Paul Dickov, Michael Brown and Craig Russell. The weather was overcast and quite nippy; the pitch was bumpy and full of divots.

The new-look City looked very shaky right from the start as Port Vale got behind our defence a few times in the first ten minutes and whipped in some good, low crosses. It was a good job Edghill was back at left back as the very quick Gareth Ainsworth on their right wing would surely have left any other of our so-called left backs standing in his wake. On nine minutes City were caught square at the back and Lee Mills raced through only to see his chip go over the bar as well as over Margetson. The breakthrough came in the 13th minute; Jansson’s free kick wasn’t properly cleared and when the ball came back in again, Foyle, unmarked, was able to hit a low shot into the City goal from about eight yards out.

City had virtually nothing to offer in reply. Heaney was having a nightmare first half, spending more time in his own half trying to help out the defence than getting forward, and some of his attempted clearances just ended up putting us under even more pressure. Brannan, Kinkladze and Wiekens couldn’t get themselves into the game and only Jim Whitley looked to have the craft that could open up the Vale defence. It therefore came as no surprise when Whitley was replaced in a tactical substitution (we must be used to mystifying substitutions by now!), Dickov coming on to help Rösler out up front and Kinkladze moving out to the right wing. The change was met with a chorus of boos from the City fans, all of whom would probably have had a different choice for who to bring off.

The change made little difference although we did keep the ball a little longer in forward positions, albeit without really threatening. There was more excitement in the stands really, with City fans arguing amongst themselves and several being ejected, leading to chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing” aimed at the stewards. The City fans didn’t know what they were doing either though, keeping the ball whenever it fell amongst us. I suppose it could be argued that this time-wasting might prevent us from conceding another goal but it certainly didn’t help us get back into the game. The team was booed off at half time and as two teams of one-legged footballers came on to provide the half time entertainment, some wags chanted “are you City in disguise?” They were pretty good actually!

City’s cause wasn’t helped by a very poor set of officials; the referee was inconsistent (e.g. a [deserved] booking for Brannan in the first half, yet nothing for a similar transgression in almost exactly the same spot by a Vale player in the second half) and the linesmen were indecisive, changing their minds several times after having clear views of incidents. I don’t want to sound like I’m making excuses here – City were poor and deserved to lose – but the officials had a bad game too.

City looked a bit better in the second half. Heaney looked a different player and had a good spell before he too was substituted (for Russell) along with Brannan (for Brown). Now it was Vale making hashes of clearances and coming under pressure. A Kit Symons header was well saved by Musselwhite but City’s third corner in quick succession in the 61st minute brought the equaliser. Kinkladze’s deep centre was headed back towards the far post by Jobson and Wiekens was on hand to stab the ball into the roof of the net from only a couple of feet out. There was a great roar from the City fans behind the goal who at last had something positive to contribute.

At this point we looked the more likely winners of the game. Russell was causing problems down the left flank as City continued to press forward. However, it was the home side that grabbed the winner in the 73rd minute when City’s defence were caught square again by a well-timed run from Bogie, who crossed the ball past Margetson for Ainsworth to knock into the empty goal.

The match got rather bad-tempered after this (it wasn’t exactly good-tempered before!) and I thought the referee lost control. One almighty scramble just outside the Vale penalty area saw several players from both sides hacking away in the general vicinity of the ball, which was eventually cleared leaving Rösler writhing in agony on the floor with what looked a serious leg injury. When the referee eventually brought play to a halt, Rösler’s leg was strapped up and he was stretchered off. With all substitutes used, City were now down to ten men. Tempers erupted again in the last minute when Brown aimed a wild kick at a Port Vale defender over at the far end of the pitch. Both sides then showed tremendous team spirit by piling into a mass ruck in defence of their player.

The final whistle came and we had lost what I considered to be the most important game of the season. Beforehand I thought we’d stay up. Now I think we’re going down. I can’t see the backroom changes of Monday making any difference in time to change things around this season. Unless there is a rapid and major improvement, we’ll be out of the top two divisions for the first time ever.

Joe Royle chose to play 4-4-2 for this game whilst also making several changes to the side. It didn’t work. Our midfield was very ineffective; Wiekens does not look like a midfield player and although Brannan can do a job in centre midfield, he’ll need to be fitter. The game passed Kinkladze by and we can’t afford to let this happen. I was very sorry to see Beardsley go, he was far more consistent, albeit not as likely to suddenly pull something out of the hat when you least expected it. With our best striker (Rösler) and best defender (Shelia) likely to be out for the rest of the season, the future does indeed look bleak. Joe Royle will certainly have to try a new combination up front next weekend; this could be his last chance to save us from the abyss.

Paul Howarth (


PORT VALE vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 14th March 1998

The trip to Burslem started with a surprise meeting. As we passed the BP garage in Mere at 12.30, we noticed some City players and Roy Bailey waiting on the forecourt. Thinking that Leanne’s idol Kinky had been seen, I did a neat u-turn and decided to fill up with diesel. As I pulled onto the pumps (nearly mowing them all down), Noel got out and got Lee Bradbury to sign the latest front cover of Bert Trautmann’s. Also waiting were Dickov, Symons and Heaney (I think). As I finished filling up, the coach pulled up and I saw Uwe looking at me. I put 3 fingers up, indicating “3 goals please”, and he gave the thumbs up. As I went inside to pay, the assistant asked if I was returning from the match(?), totally oblivious that he had had 10 million pounds worth of footballer on his forecourt.

The atmosphere in the pub was positive, with plenty of singing, and inside the ground we had one and a half sides of the ground, with loads of spaces in the Vale sections. I got very bad vibes as I saw the team come out. Why so many changes? Margetson for Wright, Edghill for Briscoe, Jobson for Tskhadadze, Brannan for Brown, Kinkladze for Beardsley, Heaney for Bradbury? The team played as if they didn’t know each other and I was very surprised that we scored at all. Getting away with a draw would have been a real bonus but we didn’t deserve to win.

I was disappointed to see Beardsley go back to Bolton as I thought he was a class act that would help keep us up. Saying Jobson was average would be a compliment. My ratings are as follows:

Margetson (6) Distribution was surprisingly poor.
Jeff Whitley (7) Steady.
Edghill (6) Not a bad return.
Wiekens (5) One of his worst displays, giving away possession far too often.
Symons (7) Usual schoolboy error or two, but another steady display.
Jobson (4) Not good enough for City. 2 year contract!
Jim Whitley (6) brought off after 39 minutes. Why?
Brannan (5) I’d forgotten how bad he is. Thankfully brought off.
Heaney (7) Surprising inclusion, but gave 100%. Effective down the left.
Kinkladze (5) Usual in and out performance, more out than in.
Rösler (8) Committed to the cause until crippled by a 2 footed tackle that went unpunished.
Dickov (6) Usual busy game. Should have been awarded a penalty.
Brown (6) Battled well, but not as good as previous games.
Russell (6) Created a couple of chances, but given less than 20 minutes to shine.

Referee (2) Appalling throughout. Lost control of the game very early on, and was inconsistent with decisions. Was a yard away from the Rösler incident and waved play on.

We still need 12 points from 8 games but where will they come from? We’re running out of games fast!

CTID, Steve Kay (


PORT VALE vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 14th March 1998

When my daughter Sharon asked me to do a match report, I thought that here was my chance to put my journalistic talents on show (she gets them from me, of course) and I would be able to have an opportunity to wax lyrical on the wonderful performance of the Blue Boys on the 14th March, and speculate on a bright blue future for my team of the past 30 years. Yes, I am one of those unusual species of Blues fans who actually remembers them winning something. I was at Newcastle when we won the League – I watched Summerbee (the good one) go down the wing at Wembley and slot the ball to Young to win the FA Cup etc. Anyway, I digress, but sufficient to say that I was looking forward to watching my 30th game of the season.

Then I went to Port Vale.

Good point number 1 – we found our way there easily enough, passing the team coach doing 30mph down the M6. Perhaps they didn’t want to get there either. My son suffered with me – he acts as substitute for Sharon when she can’t make the matches (or face them as the case may be) and we parked facing the right way for a quick getaway.

Good point number 2 – there is a brill chippy called “May St. Chippy” – guess where? Hamil Road. Rather slow service but good chips, fish, sausage etc. Don’t have the curry though, it has rather strange looking bits of carrot and beans in it. Looks like I feel at 4.50pm on most Saturdays.

We managed to find the ground – actually it’s so small we were standing right outside it and still had to ask where it was. After again having my bag searched (what do they think a 40-something-year-old, just over 5ft woman carries in her bag?) we entered the Hamil Road Stand.

This is an interesting ground as it is. Small… with a rather strangely shaped pitch nearly as wide as it is long. They still have the novelty of having all down one side of the ground for standing fans. We took over half of that as well. One gets the distinct impression they are not really prepared for 6,500 away fans turning up – but that’s not surprising is it? Blues’ fans were in good voice celebrating the scum’s defeat by Arsenal earlier in the day and giving their opinions on the ground and the number of fans Port Vale have. You know the one, it consists of four words, 2 of which are ‘sh**’ and ‘no’. Then the team was announced. Did he really say Brannan at No.8 and Heaney at No.9? No – nobody would do that, would they? Still, at least Gio was back and with Margetson and Jobson as new faces in the defence(?) it was a different looking team from previous games. Unfortunately it was not a different looking performance. For the first 15-20 minutes they were absolutely dreadful. The forwards never saw the ball and the defence were as badly organised and as clueless as I have seen them all season (yes, that bad). When Foyle scored for Port Vale it came as no surprise. You will notice that I have not mentioned our midfield – it’s hard to talk about something that is non-existent.

That feeling of inevitability was beginning to creep into the proceedings and as usual the fans started to moan, criticise and generally get on the players’ backs. Then we got a surprise. Dickov on as a substitute for Jim Whitley when Brannan was being his usual self? What on earth was going on? And this was before half-time. Let me explain at this point that there are 3 managers that I cannot stand. One is Captain Marvel up at Middlesbrough, for obvious reasons – after all I am a Blue – one is Judas, currently at one side of the City of Liverpool (again) and the other is a certain J. Royle Esq. who has snubbed us on more than one occasion, apart from the one when he had been unemployed for a time. But if he is able to keep us in the lofty heights of the First Division I am willing to reconsider my position. Dickov did well and continues to run around like a headless chicken – if he could actually shoot properly he’d be the answer to all our prayers – but why substitute Whitley?

For me, 6,499 other Blues, the eleven on the pitch and, I hope, Royle himself, half time could not come quickly enough. I should also include in this the referee. He lost control in the first half. He could not possibly be enjoying making so many mistakes in 45 minutes. Throw-ins going the wrong way, corners instead of goal kicks. Was this man colour blind? I did wish that I had brought my Frank Clark lookalike glasses for him but they are now in my box of memories. Half time thankfully arrived and I could enjoy my cup of coffee (that’s what I had in my searched bag), a chocolate biscuit and a reminder of the score from Old Trafford earlier in the day.

Have you watched Peter Reid’s half time team talks in the documentary on TV? I presume that is something like whatever J. Royle Esq. said to the 11 men because they did improve in the second half. The referee didn’t though. He continued to give decisions the wrong way and ignore tackles that certainly did not belong in the Book of Fair Play. It was after one particular series of poor decisions that we were awarded a corner. From Gio’s cross Uwe headed the ball down and Wiekens managed to put us level. At this point Wiekens now became a hero instead of the object of derision he had been previously and the 6,500 did support their team as they should. For 15 minutes we played football. We passed the ball (a real novelty) and looked as if we could get another goal. The referee though did not improve and neither did the tempers of the players as scuffles broke out on the pitch whenever a tackle was made. The referee’s worst decision was to not send off Uwe when he retaliated and head-butted a Vale player. If he had, we would not now be facing the rest of the season without the only real forward we’ve got because of an injury caused by a disgusting tackle. There was no free kick even, and the referee was standing so close to the incident that he must have seen Barnett use two feet instead of just one. Yet he let play go on.

Oh, I forgot to mention that Vale scored another goal (Ainsworth this time) but I, like our defence, must have nodded off as I can only recollect that feeling of déjà vu and not the actual build up to the goal.

My man of the match? Funnily enough it was probably Heaney, says a lot for the others doesn’t it? Actually the best players were in the crowd behind me who had a great game with one of the footballs that ended up in the crowd and was not returned. We were heavily criticised on Radio Stoke after the game for doing that – “disgusting behaviour”, just because we wouldn’t give them their balls back. No sense of humour some people.

The day left me wondering whether my spotting that the local bus company was named “PMT” (honestly) was an omen and the team had all got a very bad case of it, and, more seriously, whether there would be any mileage in my seeking damages from MCFC for post-traumatic stress syndrome. I did tell you that I’ve seen 30 games this season!

Ann Bennett (c/o Sharon Bennett)


A strange day to add to the catalogue of weirdness that City supporters are getting used to.

The day started well enough, with military precision in the pre-match preparations:

Breakfast in the Thief’s Neck
Blue Lagoons for the drive down (thanks Frank)
Lunch in the excellent Wheatsheaf at Onnelley, surrounded by about a thousand Blues in party spirit.
Very professional Police escort for the convoy all the way to the ground.

Then it all went pear-shaped, starting with the unbelievable ‘steak and kidney pies’ on sale inside the ground. The worst ever! Inside the ‘stadium’ (ha!), which only re-inforces the full horror of the company we keep these days. Pre-historic stands and a recently-ploughed (though biggish) pitch. The nightmare continues – Brannan and Heaney are starting, Brown on the bench – murmurs of ‘No chance today’ start to circulate.

I won’t even bother to attempt a chronological description of the highlights – for us there were none. Whitley was substituted after about half an hour – Joe Royle seems to have picked up the tactical disease that our previous manager suffered from.

Port Vale score two goals that looked embarrassingly easy for them, we scraped one back. Few of our players looked interested. Referee even more uninterested, possibly had forgotten his contact lenses. Rösler goes off towards the end with what looks like a bad injury.

A further note of surrealism arrived at half-time when two teams of amputees on crutches came on to play an exhibition game. I started to wonder how many pints I’d really had before the game. Shouts of “sign ’em up” soon turned to genuine applause – we could see these guys had the courage and commitment our own troops were so lacking in.

Player ratings (out of 10):

Margetson 1 – made one excellent blocking save.
Edghill 0 – all at sea.
Whitley (Jeff) 1 – never stops trying.
Symons 0 – simply cannot marshall a defence, never mind the team.
Jobson 0 – journeyman.
Kinkladze 0 – showed no interest. Must be worth £7 million at least if he cannot escape the mighty Port Vale’s man-marking.
Wiekens 0 – a liability.
Brannan minus 10 – how can this guy fool our management into playing him?
Whitley (Jim) 1 – unfairly substituted.
Heaney 0 – see comments on Brannan.
Rösler 1 – showed some spirit at least.
Dickov 0 – buzzes around a lot, but so do wasps.
Brown 1 – committed as ever.
Russell 0 – anonymous as usual.

Summary – the worst team I can ever recall pulling on the sacred blue shirt.

This all might sound a little unfair – but I think the 6,000 or so City fans who had to witness this would probably agree. It really was that bad, and it takes a lot to put a dampener on our away trips – the drive back was almost silent.

I would like to open a few issues for discussion:

  1. Why do we persist in putting out the smallest team in the League. Isit surprising that we are constantly shoved off the ball by our far morephysical opponents when we are a team of midgets?
  2. Why do City supporters think they need to protest about the manageror chairman of this club? I have never seen a Players Out banner but whodo we think is out on the field, taking the wages and displayingindifference to our plight?

Having said all of this, I totally agree that we must give the team our undying support for the rest of this season – this lot need it more than any other team if we’re going to get out of jail this time.

Tony Kane (


Saturday 14th March

Firstly I must apologise for the lack of news in the last two MCIVTAs. I had some problems with my email setup and couldn’t send anything out. Sorted now though, so fingers crossed everything will be okay from now on!

On to the depressing stuff. We got badly beaten again but that’s for the match reports to dissect. Uwe looks to have picked up a bad injury (could well be a broken leg) and for the second week running a disgraceful tackle looks to have seriously injured one of our better players, without even a free kick on either occasion! First Murtaz, and now Uwe have been wronged, when are these lower-grade referees going to get their acts together eh?

We’re now right back in the mire but Royle remained defiant, “It’s not acceptable and we are concerned but I do believe we have the players to get us out of trouble. It’s tense but it’s been that way for some time. We were sloppy and disjointed to start with and once we scored we felt we could win the game. But a momentary lapse by the back four caught us square and we were chasing the game again. We have got to find a system that will best suit our players and that’s something I will be sitting down with the staff and discussing this week. I thought Neil Heaney did okay though and gave us some width.” Have to agree with him too. After a ropey first half I thought Heaney was our most potent threat when he was playing as an out and out winger in the second half! Unsurprisingly he was subbed soon after he started to perform well (ooh, so cynical about a new manager so soon!). This followed Jim Whitley’s inexplicable substitution in the first half which prompted a chant of “are you Frank Clark in disguise?” from a sizeable proportion of the six and a half thousand strong City support!

Browny got booked again in injury time, and unless I’m very much mistaken that means he’ll pick up another ban doesn’t it? Anyway, that’s it for today, and quite frankly I’m glad because I’ve just about had enough!

Sunday 15th March

Only news of note is that JR is apparently chasing Everton defender Craig Short. And apparently he’s waving a million quid under Judas’s nose. Where that money’s coming from I don’t know but it doesn’t really matter because it’s been knocked back anyway.

Monday 16th March

Oh my God! He’s gone! As I’m writing this the press conference has just ended and I’m sure the fallout from this one will run for at least the next couple of days, but rest assured I’ll collect and collate as many of the quotes over that period as I can. For now though, here’s the initial shots from those involved.

Here’s Franny’s statement: “Earlier today I handed to the board of Manchester City my resignation. I have taken this decision as my family life, personal life and business life has been severely disrupted by events at the club over the past few months to such an extent that it has become impossible and impracticable for me to carry on. As a player I took great pride in playing for Manchester City and I was also very proud to have become chairman. Consequently, over the last four years I have tried very hard to create a situation where everyone would be proud, pleased and privileged to be associated with Manchester City. I feel I have done my very best for the club. Unfortunately, however many improvements are made off the field the performance of the chairman is judged by what happens on the pitch. I leave with my integrity and character intact. To cease to be chairman and to remain as a director would be merely cosmetic. I am therefore also standing down as a director of both the club and its holding company. I wish to place on record my thanks to the very loyal fans, who are the best in the country, and helpful staff who have given me so much support. Finally, I believe the new management structure will be successful given time and I hope the team will respond to them and reward the supporters. I wish Joe and Willie well.”

And new chairman David Bernstein: “It is a great privilege to be offered the chairmanship of Manchester City. I have been a passionate supporter for over 40 years and am acutely aware of the depth of feeling resulting from our lack of success on the pitch over many years. I would like to pay tribute to Francis Lee, with whom I worked closely over the last three years. He has put tremendous effort into his work with the club and has always acted with the greatest integrity. In many ways the club is in better shape than when he took over. I have asked John Wardle, chairman of JD Sports, to join the board and I am delighted that he has agreed. He has been a great friend of the club and will bring a number of important qualities to the board. In order that we can all concentrate on our strengths, I have asked Dennis Tueart to assume all responsibility for all football matters – he will liaise with and be the main link between the manager and the board.”

“We have to address three major, inter-connected, issues. The first, obviously, is football. Our heritage, aspirations and support demand that this club achieves success on the field. However, to progress we must focus on present realities and not former glories. We are very fortunate to have secured Joe Royle and Willie Donachie. They will be given every support in achieving the difficult task they have undertaken.”

“Second is finance: over many years the club has suffered from being under-capitalised and over-borrowed. It will be a priority to bring in sufficient funds to provide stability, and options going forward. And thirdly is stability itself. The last two decades have witnessed constant and damaging speculation about boardroom and changes of control issues. We intend to professionalise and stabilise the club at all levels, diffusing the constant hype that plagues us.”

“Finally, but most importantly, a plea to our supporters. The level and intensity of your support has been unbelievable. At this difficult time, I ask that you stay fully behind the club and give the team your total backing. We will do everything possible to deliver for you and bring success back to Manchester City Football Club.”

Can’t help but feel that we’ll all look back on this troubled period as the most important in our lifetimes for one reason or another (hopefully a positive one!). But anyway, onto other, less important matters. Thankfully Uwe’s injury is not as bad as it first looked. There’s no break, just severe bruising but JR is still pledging to complain in the strongest possible terms in his report to the FA after the big German needed oxygen in the dressing room because he was in so much pain!

Looks as though we’ll be plunging into the transfer market again before Saturday’s crucial match at home to Sheffield United, with JR hoping to sign a midfielder and an attacker – one on loan and one in a permanent deal. No names disclosed as yet though.

Finally, Tony Scully has left the club despite many City fans predicting big things for him. More a casualty of the desire to cut the wage bill than any lack of ability if you ask me, the surprising thing about the move is that he’s gone to QPR who are currently in almost as big a mess as we are! Should we really be helping out our major rivals by selling them cut price quality players? Stockport are bitterly disappointed on missing out, and to my mind selling him to them would have been a much better option! The fee, for anyone who’s interested, was £155,000.

Oh yeah, Michael Brown will now be suspended for the Bradford City away game following that booking on Saturday.

Steve McNally (


I was passed a rumour yesterday which goes something like this:

An attendant in a large Manchester car dealership last week reported that Giorgiou was expected anytime to pick up his new top-of-the-range convertible Jag.

The significance? The Jag is a left-hand drive model. Read into that what you like.




For those who have shown an interest in the forthcoming summer Euronet’98 competition to be held in Reading, here is a list of the teams who are commited and those showing an interest:


  1. AC Celtic
  2. Forest
  3. Leeds
  4. Reading
  5. Derby
  6. AEK
  7. Wolves
  8. Man City
  9. Huddersfield
  10. Southampton
  11. Stockport County
  12. Spurs
  13. Boing FC
  14. Rangers
  15. Gillingham
  16. Watford
  17. Arsenal
  18. ASB
  19. Leicester
  20. Bradford
  21. Colchester
  22. Boro
  23. Birmingham
  24. Motherwell
  25. Motley Crewe
  26. Athletico Portsmouth
  27. West Ham (The Irons)

Bubbling under:

Diadora League Representative Squad
Sheffield Wednesday
Notts County
Man Utd
Notts County

Overseas Interest:

Sao Paulo – now looking at costs so sounds good
PAOK – also looking at costs

Martin Ford (


Want Man City icons to brighten up your desktop? Install them on the computers of technically illiterate Rags who don’t know how to change them back or just show your pride for the club on your PC. The newly updated City icon collection is at

David Yates (


I was there again yesterday having made my usual 200-mile round trip from London and the support was amazing but sometimes I wish there were only 500 of us there instead of 5,000. Make no mistake we are instrumental in driving this club down to the Second Division. I’m sorry but booing and barracking the current crop of players is just not going to work positively in our favour. We all know that Brannan and Heaney (although I thought the latter did get stuck in) are not worthy of the blue shirt but please can someone explain to me what’s the point of deriding their every move and booing Brannan off the pitch! I hate to say it but we are digging our own grave.

There was almost a sense of hysteria in our support when the team sheets were read out. The vibes we were transmitting out onto the pitch meant that from the first blow of the whistle there was an air of tenseness and fear.

I know we are crap and the players are a disgrace but I’m sorry but that’s all we have at our disposal with 8 games to go. Unless we get behind them I really believe that if we continue to “support” them like yesterday we will be relegated. I am dreading Saturday and Sheffield United. I can just picture the names of Brannan and Heaney being read out and the crowd becoming hysterical. Let’s get behind them to the end of the season and then get rid of the crap. I for one cannot contemplate relegation and the disaster it would mean for us and the club.

Andrew Dixon (ADIXON1137@AOL.COM)


I would like to make some comments on the subject of fat cats and fans boardroom representation.

Firstly some thoughts on the formation of the City Trust. I know others are actively working on this and hope they will treat this as a contribution of ideas to their efforts.

  1. It must be a properly constituted trust fund i.e. a legal entity recognisedin law as being separate from its trustees and members. A trust can be formedfor any purpose with rules to suit its founders written into its constitution.
  2. It should be formed for the specific purpose of buying a significant numberof MCFC shares. It has to be significant (probably >£500,000) or it will haveinsufficient clout and the excercise will be futile.
  3. The money should be raised by selling units in the trust at, say, £20 each.The trust thus raises money to buy the shares by selling units to fans. Theshares are then voted en bloc by the trust.
  4. The rules of the trust state that it must act in accordance with a simplemajority vote of the unit holders. This is critical. The fan with one unit hasexactly the same voting clout as the guy with 1,000 units. The trust cannottherefore be hijacked by a wealthy individual.
  5. The trustees are the people who are responsible for administering,initially the sale of units, and then the purchase of shares. They must bepeople of impeccable business reputation and the trust rules must requireseveral signatures before any funds can be moved. Most major law firmswould be able to provide a reputable frame work for the administration.

I know what you’re thinking – I am not a lawyer, do not work for a law firm and have no interest, financial or otherwise in any firm which could operate such a facility. Nor do I have the background, standing or wish to be a trustee. I would, however, happily buy £100 worth of units as they would give more say than £100 of shares ever could.

Secondly on the subject of fat cats. It seems that a lot of the debate is self contradictory. Lee et al are fat cats – “only interested in making money without the best interests of the club at heart” etc.

“Fair Game in the 90’s” by D Conn, reviewed in KK67, speaks of Edwards, Hall and Walker as “ruthless money men trying to milk the club of as much cash as possible.”

The way to make the maximum amount of money out of a football club is self evidently to get it to the top half of the Premiership and keep it there, whilst winning as many other competitions as possible.

The interests of the ruthless money men and the fans are therefore entirely compatible. Our problem isn’t that FHL is a fat cat, it is that he is an incompetent fat cat. The level of the incompetence has been set out more than adequately by “anonymous insider” and needs no further comment.

Whether FHL loves the club or not is irrelevant. He is a very poor football club chairman. What we need is a ruthless money man with with the will and the talent to make a lot of money out of City. If what Edwards has done to the Rags constitutes a betrayal of the fans then we need a traitor and fast. We do not need “Blue through and through” Mike McDonald, Noel Gallagher or whoever with their hearts in the right place but dreadful or non-existent track records of running a football club.

Any potential new chairman would do well to take note of a significant block vote like a fans’ trust. The trust’s job would be to check his credentials, not as a Blue but as a successful businessman.

David Wrathall (


I have been an avid reader of MCIVTA for 2 years plus, but have somehow managed to avoid making a contribution myself (usually by kidding myself that I am lucky to make the time to read it, yet alone contribute). However, after the Port Vale result, I was unable to do any thing but repeatedly swear the same word! It is time to reach out to fellow Blues.

I get to see about one live game in every three or four, the last was West Brom, and the next is Sheffield United, which will be the 3rd I’ve seen under Joe Royle. On a positive note, when we have been in the lead, we have looked much safer, and I have not spent the last 10 minutes worrying about the opposition scoring. I am pleased to see Joe and Willie back at the club and think they are already showing that they will actually clear out the dead wood, rather than just add to it. Joe has also shown that he is prepared to use his subs rather than leave them on the bench, and has therefore been able to make tactical changes.

The only question so far is why bring in more defenders? Every new manager since Horton has started by signing players who are not strikers. It has often been recorded on MCIVTA that we lose because we cannot score enough goals. Whether we simply cannot score, or cannot provide is not in question. We miss far too many of the chances that are created. It seems fairly obvious that for all the effort or work rate of our current strikers the rewards are very small. If the goals scored totals of Rösler, Dickov and Bradbury were combined, we still would not make the top 3 list of leading scorers for the Division. Signing a goal-scorer should be a major priority.

The Curse:

The curse has recently been a recurring feature when our lack of success istalked about. I have yet another slant to add to this debate. Way back in Malcolm Allison’s 2nd spell in charge, he enlisted the help of a hypnotist called ‘Romark’; they soon fell out and Romark put a curse on the club. He promised to lift it, if Malcolm apologised. Obviously he didn’t and the curse still stands. I would be interested to hear if anyone else remembers any details? Was there a time limit? I’m hoping he said we wouldn’t win a trophy until after the year 2,000 as it’s not too long to wait!



May I respectively point out that there is an American saying which says “It’s difficult to soar with eagles when you work with turkeys!” Substitute play for work and you probably have a summing up of the Man City side at the moment.

A True Blue, Alan (


As somebody who was present at the Port Vale débâcle I cannot help wondering if the team’s performance was somehow contrived to ensure the early departure of Franny!

If that was not the case and the team were really trying then the selection / tactics / commitment lead me to one conclusion: We’re going down!

Ian Ferguson (


Like Tony Hulme, I am getting a bit worried about the X-files factor, I understand Anon does not want to get fingered and I respect his position, but as many people point out it is very unsatisfying to hear the same old innuendo, but with the ‘honest it’s true’ tag line. Makin said the same in public but all it means to me is that he is on one side of an argument and we must assume there is an equal and opposite argument. Anon’s position is made a bit dodgy for me because of his apparent ignorance of company law, or his reluctance to air his knowledge fully (i.e. give us both sides of the argument).

For my part, I supported Lee, and still do; supported Clark, was not convinced that his sacking was wise at the time; and now feel happy that JR and Willie are in charge. Nothing personal Anon, but all the accusations are arguable, so you will get argument. Accusations of failure against FHL should be tempered with what anyone else would (could) have done in his place. In truth I think that our problems run much deeper than a manager, or even a chairman.

The troubles at Maine Road go back a generation and more, and whoever became chairman at the time that big Sky money came into the game would have needed either a very big cheque book, lots of luck, or probably both in order to succeed. When FHL came along (with a baying pack of fans urging him on), the only alternatives were PJS staying on or a motley crew of entrepreneurs like MacDonald. They all were/are vain, arrogant self serving ‘businessmen’. They didn’t get rich by showing weakness, over tolerance or a streak of unprofitable sentimentality. Neither did John Hall, the Butchers of Salford, Ken Bates and almost every other successful club owner in the land (world).

PJS was one of the first paid executives in the game, and made a lot of money from City at a time when investment in the club’s infrastructure was of paramount importance. He allegedly interfered with player purchases (over bidding for Daley, Reeves, etc.), he regularly sacked managers in order to stay popular and encouraged friendly stakes in the boardroom from the likes of Boler and Greenalls in order to keep his own position without having to cough up the required capital himself.

In Feb’94, there were three substantial minority shareholders in the club. Each one in all probability looking for an exit, but only at top dollar. After all, City was a club with great potential, and it is here that Anon misleads his public, or does not understand the situation.

He refers to FHL having 29.9% of City as enough to ensure that Lee’s position could not come under threat and to cement him as the dominant influence and says that ‘It was not enough to allow him to adopt a new broom approach and sweep out all elements likely to be hostile to him.’ This conveniently ignores the constraints imposed by company law.

If FHL had wanted to take 30% or more he would have to have made an offer to buy out all shareholders at the same price. Even using Anon’s figure of £2 million, that would have meant over £4 million more going to the likes of Greenalls and Boler rather than the club. It is by no means certain that all shareholders would have accepted the offer, but he could not have progressed his bid without accounting the possibility.

Having bought his 30%, he then made his other £6 million available as loan stock in the same as any (every) other director’s loan at any other club (Matthew Harding and John Hall included). I am not an accountant, but my understanding is that the Inland Revenue would assume a commercial rate of interest for such loans, leaving a big tax bill.

Undoubtedly, he has made mistakes, but many of us disagree on what they are (all right we all agree about the Ginger one), but I think it was a mistake to keep Horton, not sack him as most people do. Appointing a fan on the board was a facile mistake, a mere gesture bound to lead to disappointment. What possible input could you, I or Dave Wallace make to the real running of the club, do breweries have boozers on the board, does Pizza Express have a glutton on the board?

I also feel that there was no alternative to re-building the Kippax (Bob Young published his interview where the argument was aired). In brief, it was a 30,000 stadium or a 20,000 stadium. Given the revenue potential of the stand, and its sell-on value, no contest, even for a tenure of less than ten years. Yet this decision, brought about because of the under investment by PJS, lead to the need to sell players, and appoint a second rate Ginger haired manager.

And when he eventually ousted some opposition from the board, FHL raised enough money to make his manager one of the wealthiest in the league this season. If FC blew it, you cannot then blame Lee, he backed his then popular manager with enough money to do the job, and did not interfere.

What would MacDonald have done (he invested a mighty £3 million in the Blades), he appeared to have an agreement with PJS – enough said – more of the same; more cut price stands, duff commercial deals, and what price the Moss Side Hilton on the club car park?

Anon seems to be amazed that FHL is discourteous to his opponents, or uses agricultural language about reticent potential bidders. And how could he be so discourteous as to sack a manager in the way he did with FC? When I sack someone (or get sacked), I do not have TV, radio and newspapers following every move. It was hardly unexpected, and which way round is best? Talk to FC first then suss out Joe, or do you get the new man in place first and sort out the ex a bit later on?

Who knows what the pressures were on to appoint JR when he did, I don’t even know how the papers got the story. FC was paid very well, and he did not produce the goods, he got his compensation, and that is the end of it. City certainly did not look foolish because of his sacking, they look foolish because they are headed into Division 2.

It is depressing, but we are in the s**t because of decades of neglect, and yet the financial potential of the club ensures that a steady flow of likely lads will appear with great schemes to get us out of it, but only if they can make lots for themselves along the way. Ideally, we need a single person with about £100 million in order to change things quickly. It isn’t going to happen, and if we force Lee out, he will want top dollar for his holding just like the rest (now if we go down to the Second, top dollars will be greatly devalued, but I’ll leave that for another time).

His replacement will be equally as obnoxious to someone at the club, and there will be sniping and backbiting for as long as there is no dominant ‘owner’ or until we become successful by which time terms like ‘bunch of bloody Bedouins’ will be used as examples of the great man’s wit and humour by the sycophants.

Incidentally, If John Hall had been a company and Jack Walker a consortium, Newcastle and Blackburn would be playing each other in the Second Division this year.

Finally, Anon would have done us all a big favour if he could have identified, or even hinted at who is the ‘cancer’ at the club. Having made the point that it is not Lee, he uses the term a few times later in his article always in connection with Lee. If Lee is not the cancer, why can’t we set our minds to sorting out who is, because cancer is a terminal illness, and right now City look to be in terminal decline. Two and two frequently makes four.

Martin J Beckett (


So 4 hours or so ago Franny announced his resignation, some of you will be chuffed, some not! Me personally, I don’t think it’ll make a t*** of difference! Watched the game at Vale Park on Saturday, I had the unpleasurable job of accompanying Andy Porter’s sister through the ninety minutes of s****! (he’s their captain for those of you who don’t know and was on City’s books until he was 16!). For those thousands of Blues who watched that crap you must now accept that with or without Franny the team is bobbins! I can’t see that his departure will suddenly result in us winning 8 games and staying up, that won’t happen, we’re down! Maybe in 2/3 years time we’ll all sit back and think the day things turned round at City was the day Lee left, maybe so, but that won’t happen immediately that’s for certain.

I can’t stand this anymore, why are we being put through this constant b******s! The time has come to sever my links with the club and become a United fan. I’ll have guaranteed success, trips all over Europe and a very cosmopolitan fan base, f*** that! Who wants to win?! Must go now, haven’t read teletext for 20 minutes, somebody else must have resigned at Maine Road by now!

Here’s to suicide and all that sail in her!

CAID (City And I’m Dead) Mark Dutton (


I haven’t seen the GOTM competition so this is a bit of an assumption. However, Hurricane No. 1 do the music for the initial “what’s going to be on in the show later” bit. If it is a different song that’s played for the Goal of The Month competition then this will be Teenage Fanclub. They’re both good bands anyway, at least they are if you like them.

Sam Al-Hamdani (


Tony the Tattooed donkey, thank you for your reply to my piece on the Guvnors I promise I’ll have the guts to leave my name on this time.

I take what you say on board and I agree with some of what you have to say and disagree with other bits. Well here goes.

Now I never did “live or run” with that “type of person” so obviously I can only come at it from my personal angle and I agree there are aspects of the book I maybe don’t understand, that’s why I stated at the end of my original email that I would like to know more about it. It is an alien concept to me so I am more than willing to apologise if I missed the point.

I will also agree that MF is telling us about his life and opinions and that as an author that is all he can do. Fair point. I agree wholeheartedly with you.

I will say the following in my defence though.

I actively sought this book out after reading an article in the paper. I wasn’t expecting another “Fever Pitch” by any means. I approached this book with as open a mind as someone who dislikes violence of any kind can. I re-read sections of the book a number of times before I sent in my original article to MCIVTA. It must have been a good book because it provoked such a response in me. MF can only state his point of view and likewise I for my part could only state my point of view relating it to the experiences I’ve had in my life.

Now on the aspects of support you raised I’m afraid I’ll have to disagree with you a little on this one. I don’t like it any more than anyone else when I see City lose especially when they play so badly but I’m not rich, I work a lot of Saturdays, I can’t get to many games. I saw the worst City side in my entire life lose away at Port Vale on Saturday and I wouldn’t have been anywhere else. I love football and I love City. I’m sorry if you misunderstood my commitment.

Furthermore, of course I put City above every other team but I could not say that I hate anyone else because of it. I’m sorry if this gets under your skin but I guess it’s just the way I am. I have never met another football fan who on a personal level has been worthy of true hatred and I don’t see why supporting eleven blokes in different coloured shirts should invoke that level of emotion, but I’m willing to stand alone on that one.

I will agree with you that MF never says he was right or wrong, I agree I may not have the experience to comment fully, and I try to have an open mind but surely there comes a point where someone somewhere has to say that violence for the sake of it, using the name of football as a cover, is wrong and should be stopped. I just felt that MF’s book glamorised it somewhat and could encourage it further. Although it’s not MF’s place to show remorse I for one would have felt a bit better if he had.

Finally, I took my girlfriend to her third Man City game against Port Vale on Saturday. She said she won’t go again because she was too scared. I think it was when the City fans in front of us started fighting with each other. I was ready to leave. I guess my underlying opinion which is solely my own is that hate breeds hate, violence breeds violence. I don’t have time in my life for the pain and upset it causes me and if I ever feel that a violent nature or the ability to be good in a fight is a prerequisite for supporting my team then I’ll leave the terraces where I love to be and send my cheque off to Mr. Murdoch.

And now if you’d all like to join me in a chorus of “Ebony and Ivory”

Jim Sim (


Full-time score for Sunday, March 15 1998

Charlton Athletic        1 - 1 Sunderland
Bright (55)                    Phillips (37)

Full-time scores for Saturday, March 14 1998

Bradford City            0 - 0 Birmingham City
Huddersfield Town        3 - 0 Tranmere Rovers
Allison (10)
Stewart (67)
Hill (og 77)
Norwich City             1 - 1 West Bromwich Albion
Bellamy (5)                    Hughes (50)
Nottingham Forest        3 - 0 Bury
Armstrong (og 63)
Van Hooijdonk (69)
Rogers (82)
Oxford United            5 - 1 Stoke City
Murphy (45, 61)                Crowe (69)
Francis (65, 68)
Beauchamp (87)
Port Vale                2 - 1 Manchester City
Foyle (13)                     Wiekens (61)
Ainsworth (73)
Portsmouth               0 - 0 Middlesbrough
Queens Park Rangers      1 - 2 Swindon Town
Quashie (8)                    Walters (pen 16)
                               Onuora (45)
Sheffield United         4 - 0 Reading
Stuart (44)
Marcello (46)
Taylor (54)
Quinn (90)
Stockport County         0 - 1 Ipswich Town
                               Johnson (55)
Wolverhampton Wanderers  1 - 0 Crewe Alexandra
Keane (35)

Up to and including Sunday, March 15 1998

                             HOME            AWAY
                      P  W  D  L  F  A   W  D  L  F  A   Pts   GS
Nottm Forest         37 14  2  3 43 19   8  6  4 20 14    74   63
Middlesbrough        37 13  3  2 38 10   8  6  5 23 26    72   61
Sunderland           37 10  6  2 38 17  10  4  5 30 22    70   68
Charlton             37 12  5  1 37 15   6  4  9 27 32    63   64
Ipswich              37  9  4  4 33 17   7  9  4 27 21    61   60
Sheff Utd            35 13  4  1 34 13   3  9  5 20 24    61   54
Birmingham           38  8  6  4 21 12   7  8  5 29 19    59   50
Wolverhampton        35 11  5  3 32 18   5  2  9 13 18    55   45
Stockport            38 12  5  2 41 17   4  1 14 19 37    54   60
West Brom            38  8  5  6 19 19   6  5  8 18 24    52   37
Bradford             38  9  8  2 22 15   3  6 10 16 24    50   38
Swindon              38  9  3  6 25 20   5  4 11 13 38    49   38
Oxford Utd           37  9  5  4 28 16   4  3 12 22 35    47   50
Crewe                38  7  2 10 21 30   7  3  9 24 24    47   45
Norwich              38  7  8  5 20 24   4  4 10 17 33    45   37
QPR                  38  8  7  5 27 19   2  6 10 16 34    43   43
Huddersfield         38  7  4  8 24 23   4  5 10 18 34    42   42
Bury                 38  5  9  5 17 19   3  9  7 18 27    42   35
Port Vale            38  6  6  8 22 22   5  2 11 22 32    41   44
Portsmouth           37  7  5  8 24 28   4  3 10 16 23    41   40
Tranmere             36  6  6  5 21 17   4  4 11 16 28    40   37
Man City             38  5  4 10 22 22   5  5  9 20 24    39   42
Reading              37  7  4  8 25 27   3  5 10 11 36    39   36
Stoke                38  5  5  8 22 30   3  8  9 14 27    37   36

Russell Town (
With thanks to Soccernet


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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 #381