Newsletter #396

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The main news revolves around transfer listings and new contracts: both Brannan and Russell have been transfer-listed, Margetson and Brightwell have been released, and Edghill has signed a new contract. We have another detailed report from the Stoke game, and much on our current plight. City drew 0-0 with Jamaica on Wednesday – apparently Nicky Weaver was excellent between the sticks.

For those interested, BBC2 will be showing ‘Manchester United Ruined My Life’ at 9.00pm on Saturday, using Colin Shindler’s story as the basis, with various contributions from Blue and Red celebs.


MATCH REPORT – ‘LIVE’

STOKE CITY vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Sunday 3rd May 1998

Oh, where do I start? It isn’t easy to write a report of a match that had so much, yet in the end so little, significance. I was one of those lucky enough to have a ticket in the City end, and after all the threats of violence and warnings from Stoke (and other) fans that had been posted on Blue View during last week, I don’t think I would still have gone otherwise. I couldn’t eat a thing on Sunday morning, I was so nervous. I hate to think how the players must have felt.

Have you ever been to Stoke’s new ground? There are various design flaws apparent from the moment you get there. Yes, it’s out of town, nothing wrong with that as it must save on wear and tear of local shop windows. But why oh why do new grounds always get built without proper access? Bolton’s Reebok stadium is another prime example although that isn’t quite as bad, there is at least plenty of street parking within a ten-minute walk. The away fan car parks are all located together, are all obviously only used by away fans, and all have one pedestrian access – over a railway bridge then down the dual carriageway that you drive down to get there. Considering the expected trouble there was virtually no police presence anywhere before the game, and the atmosphere was eerie. Twenty-eight thousand people walking towards a football stadium in almost complete silence, spooky. Things did change once we got into the ground. The City fans who were where they were supposed to be were in fine voice before the game, not helped too much by alcoholic lubrication either as the queues at the bars were so long you’d have had to order your next drink before you’d finished the last. Not that I drank anything – far too nervous…

City started off attacking the end furthest from us. We were right on the front row, in the corner nearest the nutter Stoke fans in their Sentinel end, so couldn’t tell at any point how close the ball was to the net. I’d been too nervous to listen to the team announcements as well so it took me a while to work out who was playing. Gio, Brannan and Jeff Whitley (who we saw getting off the coach looking even more scared at the prospect of playing than I was of watching) were on the bench, giving us a starting line up of Margetson, Edghill, Vaughan, Symons, Wiekens, Horlock, Jim Whitley, Pollock, Goater, Dickov and Bradbury. Even allowing for the fact that our view was crap, City looked to be well on top in the opening minutes. It took nearly 10 minutes before Stoke got the ball into our half, and that didn’t last long – we soon got the ball back and attacked again. Which was when the trouble started. Fighting broke out in the corner of the Sentinel stand behind the other goal and about a dozen City fans were “escorted” out of the ground. Incidentally, there was also a Stoke fan led out past us who was led back in about 5 minutes later and allowed back into the stand. It’s good to see their stewarding policy is as consistent as their ticketing. Play carried on while this was going on but a couple of minutes later it had to stop as several dozen people suddenly ran onto the pitch from the same stand, towards the City end. Now, I don’t know about anyone else in the City stand at that moment, but I was scared. We were right on the front row, with only a 3 foot wall between us and the pitch, not knowing whether these were City fans running for safety or Stoke fans running to start a fight. I know any Stokies diving into the City end like that would have to be suicidal maniacs but I didn’t want to be the one that got hit before they were ripped limb from limb. It didn’t help when one of the lads who jumped over landed on my mum’s feet and almost pushed her over – I know now it was accidental but it didn’t seem it at the time. The players had all gone to the other side of the pitch in front of the McEwan’s stand and were standing watching as the stewards tried to restore some order. Eventually everyone was cleared off the pitch, those who had made it to the City end were safely hidden at the back, and play restarted. The news came through that Port Vale were winning. Stoke managed to get into the match more, but never looked like creating a serious threat – it took almost the whole first half before they got a shot on target, a weak header that was easily collected by Margetson. It took just over half an hour before City managed to score. A long ball (what else?) from Horlock was chased onto by Goater, Southall had come too far out of his goal and Goater lobbed the ball over him and into the net. It seemed to take an age to go in – first we thought it was going wide; then, because of the limited view we had, we thought one of the defenders would get back and clear it, but finally it was in and we were staying up. Ah.

Nothing much else happened before half time, but we did hear from the bloke behind us with the radio that Port Vale had gone two up and Portsmouth were now one up. Oh God no we couldn’t go down this way. Just before half time I dug out my trusty Walkman to catch up on the news – couldn’t hear a thing as the crowd were making too much noise. By the time the referee blew for half time though the news of the other scores had filtered through to most people and we started to quieten down a bit. Some idiot then started a rumour that Bradford had equalised – where do people get off on doing this? It’s thanks to some moron who did that two years ago that we played “run it into the corner for 15 minutes” against Liverpool instead of going all out to get another goal.

Brannan came on for Whitley in the second half and we could see what was going on this time as City were attacking our end. We scored very early on, Southall could only parry a shot from Goater and it fell to Dickov who made no mistake, hitting a sweet volley into the net. I could just about make out what was being said on the radio, and it was all “what a shame that City’s performance isn’t going to count” – very depressing. Southall made a couple of really good saves from Bradbury and Goater, not bad from an old bloke, then Margetson made a good save at the other end. Stoke were pretty clueless to be honest, you’d have thought they had nothing to play for. Their only threats came from either long throws into the penalty area (from Kavanagh) or corners (from Kavanagh), both of which our defence could cope with relatively comfortably. Usually. They did pull one back when Margetson appeared to fumble a catch – apologies to him if this isn’t fair but we really couldn’t see – and Thorne put the ball away. The police decided that this would be a good point to come and stand in front of the away supporters and block our view even more. Nice to see that the stewards in front of the Sentinel stand crouched down so as not to block the home fans’ view but there was no chance of the police doing that for us. I’m convinced the one directly in front of me was shifting from side to side on purpose to make it even more difficult for me to see what was going on. We scored again almost straight from the kick off – strange, it’s normally us that lets other teams do that. Dickov put a high ball into the area which Bradbury at last managed to head on target, fooling Southall completely who didn’t even move. He must have thought it would go wide too. 3-1, there was no way Stoke could take this away from us now.

Then, at last, came the words on the radio that I’d been listening for. “We’re off to Valley Parade where there’s been a crucial goal.” I turned round and looked at the bloke behind who was listening to the same coverage, willing it to be good news. Portsmouth were two up. Despair. We hung our heads and relayed the news to the others around us. It was all going to be for nothing. Port Vale were three up. The news had reached the Stoke fans who started taunting us with chants of “going down” – well it made a nice change from “we are Stoke”. Not very inventive I’m afraid these Stokie types.

Even the police had to laugh at the “Are you watching Macclesfield?” that rang out for ages from our end, now that’s a football chant. As was the “we’ll buy your tickets again” which followed the Stokies’ “see you all next year” – I did think the policeman in front of me, who was still doing that swaying from side to side, was going to wet himself at that one. Royle said he didn’t relay the scores onto the players but neither team bothered defending after that. Goater scored another, leading to amazing celebrations from the players on the pitch (they can’t have known what was going on elsewhere) but somehow resulting in him injuring himself. I couldn’t see what happened (thanks to the police, again) – did he run into the post? Gio came on for him to a tumultuous reception. Thorne pulled another one back for Stoke – again, Mr. Policeman was in my way. Portsmouth were three up, Port Vale were four up and I switched the radio off. All hope had gone. We still cheered when Horlock scored City’s fifth in the last minute but it was all so hollow. We were down. Relegated despite one of the best performances from a City side this year. Relegated despite their best efforts, scoring five away from home. Relegated out of the top two divisions for the first time in the club’s history. Relegated to the first round of the FA Cup, to the Auto Windscreens Cup. Relegated to face teams like Lincoln, Blackpool, Walsall, Notts County, and of course the dreaded Macclesfield. Not being able to get tickets for any away games because too many of the grounds are like Crewe.

Funny though, it didn’t hurt nearly as much as that day against Liverpool. I think City over the last couple of years have numbed me. I cried that day we were relegated from the Premier League (and I wasn’t the only one, they must have had to mop the Kippax afterwards), but this… well this is just City. It’s what we expect, it’s what we know.

A final couple of flourishes from the Stoke fans – and a sterling effort from the police, who were more worried about stopping us chasing after the team down the tunnel, as if anyone could be bothered, than stopping any trouble outside the ground. There’s a steep bank directly behind the away end, and when we left the stand there were about 20 Stoke fans lining the path at the top of this bank, throwing stones at the police, at City fans and at the buses that were waiting there to take City fans back to the station. We used the buses as cover and made our way to the front of the ground, through the police “cordon”. From there all the way back to the roundabout where we were being picked up we didn’t see a single policeman, or anyone keeping an eye on the dispersing fans. There were so many opportunities for trouble we were lucky nothing else did kick off. MoK and Le Tank Bleu said they’d seen quite a few cars getting windows smashed and side panels kicked in – we did see a few of them later on, parked up with the drivers talking to the police. As we drove away we saw the traffic on the other side of the A500 had been stopped by a police motorcyclist – looking back, there were about 20 Stokies standing on the bridge throwing things at the cars beneath. I think that’ll be my lasting memory of that day.

Radio 5 called us fans “extraordinary” and they’re right. I hope we’ll storm back next year, winning the division in style and hopefully a cup (Auto Windscreens, how embarrassing) along the way, but even if we don’t we’ll still all be there, putting ourselves through the torture week after week after endless week. Roll on August…

Sharon Bennett

MATCHVIEW – STOKE

As I was unable to get a ticket for the City end, a colleague was kind enough to purchase a couple for me in the McEwan Stand. It is a beautiful if draughty unfinished stadium – I say unfinished because the wind whistled through the gaps between the stands at each corner.

I won’t dwell on the predicted fan trouble that materialised during and after the game.

As I was sitting with the Stoke fans I didn’t dare celebrate when Goater scored the first goal – a lovely chip over the advancing, rotund Neville Southall. However, the City fan sitting next to my husband decided that he was going to celebrate, not just once, but several times. This obviously prompted Stoke supporters to leave their seats and remonstrate with him. A steward was then called to turf him out.

Dickov scored in the third minute of the second half to give us a deserved 2-0 lead. Peter Thorne then scored to give the home fans some hope, but that was quickly dashed a minute later when Lee Bradbury made the score 3-1. Goater got his second and City’s fourth. Peter Thorne then scored his second and Kevin Horlock scored to make it 5-2 near the end. Gio came on later in the game which I suppose was a nice touch as I don’t think that we’ll see him again in a laser blue shirt.

Margetson – Didn’t have a lot to do.
Edghill – Was OK but he can’t centre a ball to save his life.
Dickov – Battled well.
Wiekens – Looked steady at the back.
Symons – A completely different player when not burdened with the captaincy.
Pollock – Looked tired and could do with losing at least a stone.
Horlock – Had a good game.
Vaughan – Getting better with each game.
Whitley – Needs more experience.
Brannan – So anonymous that I never know when he’s on the pitch.
Goater – Was my MOTM; I though he had a very good game and was unlucky not to get his hat-trick.
Bradbury – The jury is still out on him. His first touch is woeful; maybe he’ll flourish in the second Division where perhaps 20 goals or so will give him the self belief that’s missing.

Watching us play on Sunday, I wondered why it took the last game of the season for us to show any fight, passion and pride. What the players, chairman, board members and managers have done to this once great club is criminal.

Mr. Bernstein has made a public apology to the fans. Joe Royle has said that wholesale changes will be made. The danger is that the baby may be thrown out with the bath water. Confidence and self belief is what is missing and I shudder to think how this will be achieved when our only fit goalkeeper played the last six games of the season secure in the knowledge that he is surplus to requirements.

I’ve always maintained that if we were relegated I wouldn’t renew my season ticket – but after the game on Sunday I felt quite optimistic. Like a glutton for punishment I’ll renew.

I’ve written to Mr. Bernstein suggesting that as we’ve shown loyalty to the club by putting up with the dross served up for the last two seasons, then maybe he’ll show loyalty to us by reducing the season ticket prices.

Roll on next season.
1998/1999 season – Champions of the 2nd Division.
1999/2000 – Champions of the 1st Division and FA Cup winners.
2000/2001 – Premiership Champions.
2001/2002 – Champions of Europe?

Mr. Berstein please note how easy it is to ‘draw’ up a strategic plan.

Averil Capes (a.capes@man0511.wins.icl.co.uk)

NEWS – BERNSTEIN STATEMENT

The following is clipped from the City “Yahoo” page:

Chairman David Bernstein today issued a statement less than 24 hours after the club were condemned to the third tier of English football.

The full text of the statement reads:

“May 1998 sees Manchester City’s fortunes at an all time low as for the first time in our history we contemplate football two divisions below the top flight. I have two messages for our supporters:”

“First a clear and unequivocal apology. For the best part of two decades you have had to put up with a total lack of success culminating in two relegations in three years. Failure over such a long period is inexcusable and cannot be explained by bad luck or chance, particularly for a club with our support base and resources. I believe the reasons for our problems revolve around an inability to recognise and adjust to the realities of a changing and increasingly professional world and a resultant short termism and lack of strategy. The club has been constantly reacting to events and has not been helped by frequent changes in personnel which has added to instability.”

“The second message is one of hope and arises from recognising the problems I have explained and resolving to deal with them. I have already instigated a series of initiatives aimed at strengthening and professionalising the club stimulating the necessary changes. These include structural, financial and operational matters and will where necessary involve a fresh approach to issues with the only consideration being to achieve success for the football club. We will be working within an agreed strategic plan and decisions will be made accordingly.”

“We know your patience has been stretched to the limit but my colleagues and I are determined to deliver and ask you, our loyal supporters for your continued support. I will be examining ways of improving communications between the club and our fans and I will continue to keep you informed and hope to be able to give you more positive news in a number of important areas over the coming months.”

Does that make you feel better?

CTID, Martin Styles (mdstyles@indigo.ie)

NEWS – PRE-SEASON FRIENDLY WITH BRISTOL CITY

Part of the Shaun Goater deal entailed a pre-season friendly at Ashton Gate; when it became clear that Bristol City were promoted it was announced that this would not happen if City did not get relegated. Given the events of the weekend, it may well be that this is on again. If and when I hear about it, I will mail Mcivta with details, and hopefully catch a few Blues down in Bristol to sink a pint or two in anticipation of our first trophy in 24 years!

I haven’t had time to read this morning’s Mcivta yet, and I suspect that all that has to be said has been said. I had a schizophrenic weekend, travelling with daughter Allegra to the PNE vs. Bristol City game to keep my mind occupied over the weekend, and to maybe allay some of the grief I knew would be forthcoming the next day by celebrating our local team winning the Division 2 Championship. That wasn’t to be, but a good time was had by both sets of fans at a typically good humoured end of season game. As usual with a visit back oop North, we stayed overnight with my mother in Woodford; prior to setting off back to Bristol, we went for a lunchtime pint up to the Thief’s Neck in Woodford, where we go back some 60 years or more, my mother having had her first pint there in the mid thirties (but certainly not her last); not only is the Robbies there beyond compare, but also the pub (landlord/lady’s family and regulars) is Blue through and through. Great I thought; we can ignore the game, have a pint and head off for home. Into the tap room with beer, and 10 minutes later, enter landady with portable TV which was promptly tuned into Sky. Aaaghhhh … no escape. We left just before the Goat scored, but tuned in in the car to Radio 5. Utterly, utterly unsurprised by PV beating Huddersfield; I had vague hopes that Bradford might help us out, but in reality the QPR game was the nail in the coffin, and I guess most of us knew that. However, to hear that that cretin Gary Walsh had decided that he would be the player who would relegate us – techically, that is – more or less summed up the whole farce that this season has been.

So … where now? In fact, being a Division 2 afficionado (well, you try living in Bristol!), I feel confident that we will go straight back up (I never have done during our recent regular drops into Division 1). I think Bradbury & Goater will get a hatful of goals between them, and providing we hang on to some of the better performers … e.g. Horlock, and get a goalie who is not a half-wit, I think we will be OK. However, we shall see. Meanwhile, to help you all get used to Division 2, here’s the URL of the Division 2 Message Board; visit it and get in some pre-season training! Check out… http://www.btinternet.com/~uk/division2/

Finally, congratulations to Arsenal for winning the Championship in such magnificent style.

Jeremy Poynton (jeremy@poyntons.u-net.com)

RUMOUR – REID DISCONTENT

The following rumour has come my way. I merely relay it as ‘doing the rounds’ and make no claim as to its veracity.

Ashley


There has been much speculation about the cause of City’s demise recently, and anyone who watched the “Blues – The Mourning After” on BBC2 on Monday night will have seen John Maddock admit there was backroom unrest, during the reign of Peter Reid.

According to to a friend of mine yesterday, who is close to an ex-City player, I heard the possible reasons for this unrest. It doesn’t make very nice reading. It is alleged that…

A certain member of the backroom staff was running a book on horses, and apparently nearly all the players were involved. They had a couple of big wins, were talking significant amounts of cash, but when it came to payout time, the backroom man had used the money to pay off his personal debts. Peter Reid backed him up and this caused unrest in the dressing room. As a result Reid had to go. The dressing room inherited a feeling of mistrust, something which led onto the pitch, and City’s plight begins.

Now I don’t want to blame Peter Reid and this backroom guy for City’s demise, but from all I’ve heared recently, this seems like the most accurate account, with the benefit of hindsight, as to why City are in the situation they are in today. The question you have to ask yourselves is how did Swales allow this to happen? And where does the blame lie?

Gareth Foster (Gareth_Foster@triangle-group.com)

NEWS – PLAYER OF THE YEAR FRACAS

All the major tabloids are today covering a story of a large brawl at last night’s M.C.F.C “awards” ceremoney (surely a pi** take if ever there was one). Apparently the event was held at the home of Salford Reds Rugby League Club and the incident was alleged to have started when bouncers from the notorious Rag hangout began verbally abusing City players (surely that’s City fans’ job!). Anyway Paul Dickov was apparently called a dickhead and this led to a large brawl involving up to 300 people. Needless to say the cops were called and it’s another dose of embarrassment we didn’t need. Who thought of booking that venue in the first place?

This was such a big story that the Daily Star or Sport, I can’t remember which, put on its front page (well beneath the blonde with the big tits anyway).

CTID, Roger Sharp – The Blue Kiwi (R.Sharp@gjw.co.uk)

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Results of Player of the Year held at the Willows Salford last night were:

Young Player of Year: Jim Whitley

Player of Year:

1st – Michael Brown
2nd – Paul Dickov
3rd – Gio

Can’t really comment on the “fracas” as I didn’t see any of it, just a lot of very heated players and supporters!

Carol Darvill

THE GREATEST SUPPORTERS IN THE WORLD

The Official Supporters’ Club Player Of The Year awards took place last night, with Michael Brown being voted as the player of the year, Paul Dickov was second and Georgi was third. Jim Whitley was voted The Young Player Of The Year. Most of the players were present except for Bradbury, Goater, and Symons, the night was very well supported, but a bit subdued, not surprising really.

PS: The police were called out to an incident, but this was not due to the supporters; one or two players had a few too many and there was a “clash of personalities” with a doorman, it was nothing really (well compared to Stoke). Seven thousand season tickets sold to-date, 300 new applications! Tickets are still available for the end of season party, at the Oasis complex, all City fans welcome, May 9th 1998…

Chris Woolley (c.n.woolley@btinternet.com)

AN UPDATE ON THE CITY SQUAD

No doubt we will see a few changes in the not too distant!

>Tommy Wright
>Martyn Margetson          Transfer Listed
>Nick Weaver


>Kit Symons
>Gerard Wiekens
>Tony Vaughan
>Rae Ingram                (on loan to Macclesfield Town)
>Paul Beesley              (on loan to West Bromwich Albion)
>Scott Hiley
>Richard Edghill
>Ian Brightwell            Transfer Listed
>John Foster               (on loan to Carlisle United   possibly sold)
>David Morley              (on loan to Ayr United)
>Murtaz Shelia
>Kakhaber Tskhadadze       Transfer Listed
>Richard Jobson


Anthony Callaghan          Transfer Listed
Benn Gallagher             Transfer Listed
Stephen Rimmer             Transfer Listed


>Georgiou Kinkladze        Transfer Listed
>Eddie McGoldrick          (on loan to Stockport County)
>Kevin Horlock
>Ged Brannan               Transfer Listed
>Lee Crooks
>Jeff Whitley
>Jim Whitley
>Michael Brown
>Nigel Clough              Transfer Listed
>Martin Phillips           (on loan to Exeter City)
>Neil Heaney               (on loan to Charlton Athletic)
>Jamie Pollock
>Ian Bishop
>Scott Thomas              (on loan to Brighton & Hove Albion)
>Brian McGlinchey


Neil Brisco                Transfer Listed
Neil Morley
Chris Pridham


>Paul Dickov
>Lee Bradbury
>Chris Greenacre           (on loan to Blackpool)
>Gerry Creaney
>Barry Conlon              (on loan to Plymouth Argyle)
>Craig Russell             Transfer Listed
>Shaun Goater
>Ray Kelly                 (on loan to Wrexham)
>Mikhail Kavalashvili      (on loan to Grasshoppers Zürich)
>Aled Rowlands             (on loan to Sligo Rovers)


David Wills

Maybe some of the following have been promoted to professional status during the course of the season… ?

Second year trainees:
Richard Acton (goalkeeper)
Michael Brown (goalkeeper)
Ben Burrows (midfield)
George Doherty (striker)
Anthony Fenton (defender)
Nick Fenton (defender)
Gary Mason (midfield)
Alan Reilly (striker)

First year trainees:
Adam Allcock (midfield)
Alan Bailey ( striker)
Lee Daly (goalkeeper)
Greg Duff (defender)
Darren Garfield (striker)
Shaun Holmes (defender)
Michael Julien (striker)
Jason Kneen (striker)
David Laycock (midfield)
Joe McNab (left wing back)
Neil McNab (midfield)
Ged O’Keefe (right wing back)

Stuart Reynolds (SREYNOLD@FR.oracle.com)

HOW WAS IT FOR YOU?

The day after the night before, following the game that afternoon, began with bright sunshine and a pleasant surprise that the drunken funk of the previous evening hadn’t greeted me with a vengeance the morning after.

Sitting reading the match report and, various differing views on the crowd trouble, the feeling of despondency returns upon reading a piece in the Daily Mail that it is us, the City Fans, who are the laughing stock of the football world for continuing to follow such a s**t team in such large numbers. Loyalty or Stupidity?

After a few hours spent moping around the house, I become eternally grateful to the wife who for once is seemingly sympathetic to my footballing woes, and tells me to ‘bugger off up the pub’ and get out of her way.

In an act of defiance, I don my City shirt and walk up the road to the boozer half hoping that some t**t will say something so I can vent my spleen on them, but no one will look me in the eyes. Steeling myself for the reaction from the guys I walk proudly through the door and… total silence, it is like walking into the saloon in those old westerns, everthing stops and goes quiet for a moment, until the landlord (who is a Plymouth Fan) pipes up ‘Ah! a real football fan; make way for him at the bar, and give him a drink on the house.’

I then have to endure two hours of total drivel from a condescending bunch of idiots who keep gushing on to me about how City were too big to go down and how we were too good for this to happen to us including one ar**wipe who asked me who I was going to support next now.

It was driving me mad, everyone was being too nice, too friendly I was getting fed up with people creeping around me. That was until this morning.

Tuesday morning, back at work, and I get a phone call at 8.00 from the MD. He is in his car on the way up to our Manchester office. He is also a Pompey fan. Listening to him singing ‘What division are you in? What division are you in?’ down the phone to me cheered me up no end. Here was something I could answer back, and we spent the next 10 minutes slinging s**t at each other over the phone, and after finishing by telling him that we will still get to the Premiership before they do I felt better. I can face life again.

Thanks Tom. I’m ready for next season now, and anything that City can do to me. Can’t wait.

Also, a rumour from Reading:

“When Reading kick off next season in their new stadium, they have asked the Football League to give them their first home fixture against a big club for the official opening”

Anyone like to guess who?

‘Are you watching Macclesfield…?’

Andy Stevenson – Winchester (andyst@mcmail.com)

LIFE IN DIVISION 2 BY A BLACKPOOL FAN

Well wasn’t that City down to a tee? What other team could win 5-2 away and still go down? Nobody seems too surprised, it’s been coming for a long time. How will they fare in Division 2? personally I think they will struggle. If this is the best team they can put out off 50-odd players, it certainly doesn’t worry me at all. Let’s face it, which half decent players will want to sign and play in Division 2? City are no longer a big club. In case you didn’t know Wolves, Sheff Utd, Sheff Wed, Sunderland, Blackpool etc. have all been in the bottom two divisions in recent times and struggled to get back up immediately. It has no doubt already been said but playing City will be everybody’s cup final next year (except Blackpool vs. PNE!). Going back to the Coca Cola Cup this season – yikes I feel guilty that Blackpool started the rot, City just didn’t want to know, the mighty Pool did – hey presto, match over. As an outsider I said at the start of the season that City’s team was very poor quality, how many of the many players who went out on loan have been signed? Chris Greenacre came to us on loan, I would expect you to pay us to take him. Who is to blame? It has to be a succession of the board and managers. To me signing a player has to improve what you have already got, did no alarm bells start ringing? I am sure Joe Royle is the right man but he needs time. How long did it take him to get Oldham going?

Anyway enough of the post mortem, here’s what to expect in the murky heights of Division 2!

  1. If you want to sing “Stand up if you hate Man U”, that won’t be a problemas many Divvy 2 clubs don’t have many seats. We sing “Stand up – cos we’ve got no seats”
  2. Open air bogs, but the queues aren’t as long!
  3. People walking round the ground selling the local Evening Paper
  4. Lots of local derby matches
  5. Being on Sky once a year
  6. Really dodgy PA systems
  7. Elton Welsby’s snide comments, or just forgetting your team totally in the highlights
  8. Free entry in the AutoWindscreen, hub cap, spark plug Freight Rover trophy. All the matches are a load of b******s,but the final is at Wembley.
  9. Round 1 of the FA Cup and having the pi** taken out of you as you haveonce won the cup and are playing some nondescript non-league sunday pub team.
  10. Open air Spion Kops
  11. Being able to visit new grounds… ooh that hurts!
  12. The hard man of each team (Gary Brabin – B’ Pool- remember his crunching tackle on Kinkladze?)
  13. Really nice steak pies
  14. More trips to seaside clubs – make a weekend of it!
  15. Being able to turn up at five to three and seeing the start.

Peter Duerden (peter.duerden@btinternet.com)

BLUES’ DEMISE

I’ve compiled some startling statistics about this woeful season, which I thought you might appreciate. Most of them are original. Did you know that…

  • City won more away games than 14 other teams in the division!
  • They scored more goals than 11 other clubs!
  • The number of away wins (6) is double that of Sheffield United (3) who have reached the play-offs!
  • QPR, who finished one place and one point above City, won only two away games all season!
  • City had consistency this year with – a home record of 6 wins, 6 draws, 11 losses,an away record of 6 wins, 6 draws, 11 losses – goals scored at home 28 – goals scored away 28!
  • A record 38 players were used this season, who cost the club over £21 million!
  • 90 points won’t be enough for automatic promotion judging by Sunderland’sposition (goals scored 86, points gained 90, position in league 3)!
  • 16 points separate the 4 play-off teams in the First Division;only one can be promoted. Could Sheffield United, who finished sixth inthe table on 74 points, conceivably gain promotion over Sunderland 16points above them?
  • Only two points separate the four play-off teams in the second division. Itwill be a tougher division to get out of! 90+ points will be needed to do it!
  • The only team to be undefeated at home in the entire Premiership andNationwide this season, will be playing City next year – Macclesfield. Forwhom will it be a Cup Final? More later perhaps…

P Jepson (P.Jepson@virgin.net)

SUFFERING THE AFTERMATH AMONGST SALFORD RAGLETS

Since I last wrote, things have been pretty much as bad as usual at school. We employed a printing clerk, but she was a Rag and couldn’t bear to work in the print room as it is a City shrine. She lasted one day. Rags were a bit subdued in general since the Gunners got good, and the Bolton fans have been a bit quiet as their destiny is as yet unknown. I have had a few Bolton fans giving me the predictable “Jamie Pollock is rubbish, Miss. We never liked him…” Yeah, yeah, of course…

5th May – the day I’d been dreading for months. I was going to have to go into school and suffer all the taunting from those nasty little Raglets. I decided to make an official statement, so I got to school early and wrote on the board “DIVISION 2? SO WHAT!! WE WENT DOWN FIGHTING!! CITY TILL I DIE!!” Whenever a potential troublemaker came through the door, I pointed to the board. By and large, it did the trick, although a small choir tried to entertain me with a chorus of “Joe, Joe, what yer gonna do, you’ve gone right down to Division Two…” Times are hard.

On the whole, people have been quite sympathetic, which has sometimes left me feeling quite nauseous. “Are you going to renew your season ticket, Miss?” “The deed is already done”, I replied. “You are really loyal, Miss.” “Yes, me and all the other thousands. We’re the best. City fans, be proud of each other!”

Two kids were talking at breaktime yesterday. One said “What do you think of this new player we’ve bought – Stam?” The other replied, “You don’t still support United, do you? I’ve supported Arsenal for nearly a month now!” I rest my case. And this is all because Rags only came second. How many would still wear the Devil’s badge if MUFC ever went down like we have?

Still proud to be Blue! Let’s hope for a better season.

P.S. Nicky Weaver – what a star!

Jules (jprice6936@aol.com)

SUSSEX BLUES?

Firstly thanks for the hard work put in by everyone in putting together MCIVTA. Thanks for the match reports, joke, opinion etc. that everyone has contributed this year.

Due to a slight case of the wobblies I’ve not got to many games this year and have managed to avoid seeing City win (unless you count Blackpool at home). My health has now peaked at knackered and I have to avoid stress and 18-year-old blondes with long silk legs and …

So onto next year and the Joys of Division 2 (3 in old money).

On the plus side I always wanted to visit all 92 League grounds, not to see City play there in the league though. Being stranded here in Crawley it would be nice to get a few Blues together to go to ‘local’ matches and maybe the odd visit to Maine Road. I have a car and my 13-year-old son and would be happy to have some company whilst he eats all the pies available. If we get enough we may even be able to get a char trip to games (then we can all drink).

Anyone interested can contact me via Email or ICQ (I’m Sussex Blue) and my email is also on the OSC Web Site under the prat who puts all this on the Web section.

Andy Birkin (A_J_Birkin@Email.msn.com)

OPINION – HOW SAD

All I can say is that the news would have been a lot harder to take had it not been for MCIVTA: in many ways this family of fellow sufferers, writing openly about their shared misery twice a week, has made the news a little easier to take.

A number of Monday’s writers hit at the core of this whole mess. Relegation was not unexpected: survival would have been nice but not necessarily positive. There is something terribly wrong at our club and we all have opinions. I have felt for many years that, for some reason, the club is incapable of appointing a manager of any substance or vision. I realise that many may disagree here and that it is a problem affecting many clubs, even in the Premier League. We can all remember how close Ferguson was to going… when OBE stood for Out Before Easter. But we always seem to end up with managers that just aren’t in great demand anywhere else and who do not seem to achieve much after they leave City (or in many cases before they come to City) – I think the verdict is still out on Reid. One of the disappointing aspects of Lee’s reign was the false promise he brought about changing this aspect of the club. One of the pleasures in watching what has happened at Arsenal is the sheer authority of Wenger. I think we are stuck with Royle – which doesn’t inspire me and doesn’t seem to inspire the two or three hundred players we have on contract.

George Bush once spoken of “the vision thing”. I think that is what City have lacked at the core, a vision of where they were heading and how to get there. The ground re-building was a shambles, the training ground situation is ludicrous, the whole issue of transfers is a joke: surely there is some way now to reduce the number of professionals on the books? My own feeling is that once they (the board etc.) decided that Maine Road was ok seating 32,000 that that reflected their complete lack of ambition and hope. Or rather their complete lack of understanding of the fans’ ambitions and hopes. I think City’s board, for many years, has been one with little concern for anything other than mediocrity. I wonder if they fully realized what was happening in the world of football? I tend to think that Lee had a good stab at putting some stuff right but it is very hard to figure out what really was going on.

I just don’t know if it is going to turn around: when City were doing well at the end of last season, or in the Premier, then a club with massive potential could attrack money: who will get involved now?

Many years ago, in the 30s, United had to win their last game or be relegated to Division 3. They won… I always hoped this was one low point United could have for themselves: had they gone down I think we would have heard little more from them again. This is the danger facing City: in some ways spending two seasons in the first division and re-grouping is one thing: the pressure is now really on to come back first time as well as build a squad not just for promotion but also for a determined effort to get back to the Premier in a few years. Why do I feel that next year will not be easy and why do I feel the club appears to plan week by week.

This is getting nowhere. I’ll finish with thanking everyone again who has made MCIVTA a welcome email twice a week… long may it continue, yeah, verily even into the wilderness that is the old third division. I echo many other comments that say that this club of ours does not deserve the fans it gets, most especially those of you who turn up week in, week out.

City until I can afford the money for shock therapy treatment.

Best wishes, John Pearson (pearsonj@leland.stanford.edu)

OPINION – PROMOTION

City will definitely be up again next season; they are sure to be the bookies’ favourites by a long way. Well I had money on them to go straight back up to the Premiership, and they were favourites then too.

I remember when the squeaky one was appointed Pompey manager thinking that it was one less team to worry about come the end of the season. Now I know it was just another cruel joke, to have him celebrating his handiwork (more noticable with City than Portsmouth methinks) as City slumped into – god, I’m just fed up with thinking about it.

I wore my City shirt on Sunday night, suffered the jokes and didn’t care. I’m used to it now, like everyone else must be. I’m fed up, but not surprised.

There aren’t any big clubs in the Second Division. There’s no money and if any other clubs want our players they’ll have them.

Has anyone else noticed that if you squint at the eagle on the crest it looks like a dead duck?

CTID, Adam Jones (Adam.Jones@durham.ac.uk)

OPINION – HARTFORD

As City look at Division 2 we’ve at least got a manager and assistant who have attained promotion in the past but we’ve still got an assistant manager who was appointed with the red headed nincompoop – it’s about time Asa went! What has he brought to the club during his time?

Let’s give Joe and Willie a chance to offload the dross that they inherited. Pollock will be a good player in Div. 2 where we will need a few kickers (Brown is another one), both should stay. We need a half decent keeper – let’s face it Margaret has done more than most to cost us our place in Div. 1 and Wright is just what he was when he was bought from Forest – a third choice ‘keeper.

I don’t worry too much about losing the Creaneys and Cloughs whose fitness left much in doubt. I don’t think the Georgians would have the stomach for the Chesterfields and Wrexhams of this world, so let’s get rid of them. The stopgaps signed by JR (Jobson, etc.) should also depart along with the other failures – Kit, Brannan, Russell, Edghill, Wiekens.

Who does that leave? Goater, Badbuy and yes, even Dickov, will score regularly in Division 2 and show the necessary bottle. The Whitleys shouldn’t be too bad in this division. With a good ‘keeper, a direct winger (preferably left side – all the best teams have one) and a young hungry centre back instead of a shagged out old pro, we’ll soon be on our way back up.

It’s not too long ago that Aston Villa were in the situation that City are in now and if I remember right they quickly bounced straight back through both divisions into the then First Division on a tide of fervent support. I remember their away support scaring the hell out of some of the smaller teams in the league. If Stoke is an example a few good victories and a bit of confidence will soon get us up and running again.

I’ll be working in Germany until 2001 – that should be the year that City play again in the Premier – see you all at Maine Road (or the new place) then.

P.S. The team I watch in Germany (Cologne) have just been relegated – they’ve got an assistant manager called Colin Bell and a reserve striker called Rosele – talk about lightening!

P.P.S. With City dropping off Sky Text next year it’s a good job we’ve got the best ‘zine on the net!

Cffyaspoi (City for forty years and still proud of it), Steve Muchall (stevemuch@email.msn.com)

OPINION – RELEGATION

It was all too much, I couldn’t read it…

I suppose I used to quite enjoy watching the boys in Division 2 but that was back in the days when there was no Premiership (champions?) league. Oh well, I expect that next time I am back in the UK I will be going along to some grotty old ground in the back end of nowhere to watch them again and regardless of what everyone says I think it will take us two seasons to achieve the lofty heights of division one.

Helen Pickup (Helen.Pickup@alliedsignal.com)

OPINION – DON’T DESPAIR

Is John Lukic really over 40? And does he still play in the Premiership – I don’t care if he does, that division is of no interest to me – roll on 10,000 fans at Macc next year!

Look if Swindon can come straight back up then City can so don’t despair, 3 years to Premiership playing (probably just about long enough for the money machine to have moved on to another country i.e. Italy – Britain – France?).

Justin Hanson (J.Hanson@ccw.gov.uk)

OPINION – RELEGATION

Let’s face it. City deserved to go down, and I will not be sorry to see most of the players go. They got us relegated in the first place, and luckily the parasites will now end up in the Watford reserves or something. The sooner they leave the better. They lack commitment, and only hung around for their too-big paychecks anyhow.

As for the so-called City-rot… Well, I’d wish the gun control in Manchester were as relaxed as that of Arkansas, US. Give some kid a machine gun and lock him inside the Maine Road offices for 10 minutes. That is probably the best thing that could happen to the club. Not that I am encouraging anybody to break the law, though.

So instead I’ll see you all in the Conference a few years from now.

Henning Poulson (henning.poulsen@mailcity.com)

OPINION – DEVASTATED

Well I am man enough to admit that I shed a few tears on Sunday. I can’t say I was totally surprised that we went down but I can say that it hurt like hell when we did. Of all the ways to go down I have to say that that was the most painful. If we had played crap and got well beaten I think I could have handled it better as, let’s face it, that’s been the case all season. But to go down after playing decently? Still, as we all know City is City, and they inflicted maximum frustration and pain in a way in which only Manchester City can.

You see after travelling from thousands of miles away to watch City I always thought that, miraculously, my arrival would coincide with the new ‘golden days’. I can’t say I remember Lee, Bell, and Summerbee in their heyday as I was too young. The videos of their triumphs are superb but they are too long ago for me. I even said to my mum before leaving New Zealand that I would never come back until I had seen the Blues win some silverware. Well mum, I might not be seeing you for a few years, unless we win the Auto-Windscreens Tinpot trophy that is.

I honestly haven’t felt this bad since my grandad died. People think I’m crazy for saying that as “after all it’s only a game” but for me this relegation really does feel like a bereavement. I haven’t slept well since Sunday; I dread the sympathetic commiserations of work colleagues; and I feel just damn well bloody depressed.

Mixed in with all of this is the desire to get next season going. To start putting the misery of the last few years right. Yet this is coupled with a numbing fear, that even if we destroy Gillingham away from home, pulverise Wycombe at Maine Road, and put several dozen past Colchester that this will not ease the pain because we should murder those teams. How do you get excited for next season knowing that, in my book, we should comprehensively destroy every side we play? Match of the Day, too painful to watch in the first division will become something of sheer terror in the second.

Finally (as I won’t depress anyone with this funeral march anymore) a note of caution. People said we would go straight back up to the Premier from the first division and we didn’t; people said that we were too big a side to stay down for long, and we were relegated. The minnows we play next year will see a trip to Maine Road as a massive game for them and raise their standard accordingly. The only way we will get back to the first is if we put in the hard graft to do so. Reputation, as we’ve already seen, simply isn’t enough.

Never in over 111 years have City sunk this low, and rarely in my 29 years have I felt so distraught. The only thing that keeps me going is that I know there’s City fans out there feeling as I do. City fans like I am determined to be there throughout this crisis. As with the last few years, the fans will be City’s greatest asset in the season to come.

City, always.

Roger Sharp – The Blue Kiwi (R.Sharp@gjw.co.uk)

OPINION – JUVENTUS

We should look at the deal on the table at the moment regarding Juventus and the vice-president.

Juventus would teach us how to run a club and invest in youth policies. We couldn’t take lessons from a better club and we have got the chance to join up with the best.

Royle has made some bad mistakes and we can’t ignore them. Goater is rubbish, we still have no left back, etc. I think that we can’t allow ourselves to be stuck with Royle and waste annother year.

I agree we need consistancy but only with the right people in control, I believe we need one last change of management and board room staff and then stick with them for the next 5 years at least.

Think about it City fans.

A Die Hard Blue, Simon Donn (Get10going@aol.com)

OPINION – RELEGATION BLUES

“You look like you’re at death’s door. Surely, it’s not a football match that’s made you this depressed. And you weren’t even playing!” – This was said to me by one of my football-ignorant work colleagues this week.

It made me ponder the deep feeling of depression that I’m experiencing at the moment. True, in the cold light of day, a group of blokes that spend all day kicking a football around, 265 miles from where I live, have just been relegated. So why does it affect me so personally?

Throughout my life, I’ve been known to my family, friends and work colleagues as a Man City supporter first, and whatever else a distant second. From being taken to my first City match away at West Ham in 1970, through being one of the original Junior Blues and JB of the month in 1976, through saving and spending all my money from my paper round when still at school, travelling up to City from Sussex every 3 weeks, through 3 relegations (now 4) and a Cup Final defeat, through purchasing season tickets for my long-suffering wife and I and travelling 530 miles to each match, I’ve developed an unbreakable emotional association with the club.

Supporting Man City has become a way of life. You can’t trivialise relegation. It is the worst possible thing that could have happened to City. Unlike most of the City team, I can not take the simple escape route of transferring to another team. Much of the media has focused on the heartache of the City players. How, they cried buckets in the dressing room after the Stoke game etc. But I bet half of them have already been onto their agents to get them out of this nightmare, of their making. Unfortunately, us City fans are stuck in Division 2. We can’t get out. We can’t transfer our loyalty to other clubs, and forget this season ever happened. I cannot forgive the likes of Paul Simpson, who after scoring the goal in the last 5 minutes at Wolves said: ‘I’ve got deep affections for the club, and I’m sorry if they go down’. Well, if I had Simpson’s ‘deep affection’, I certainly wouldn’t have placed a free kick into the unprotected part of Margetson’s goal five minutes from time, and then danced around the pitch celebrating that I had just cost City 2 important points that eventually led to us going down. The point I am making here, is that no player has as much affection or loyalty to the club as its supporters. The players give their support to whoever is paying their salary at that moment in time. The fans will give their support to City forever – even in Division 2.

What is it that makes the pain of relegation so frustrating? It’s because it’s out of your hands and mine. Unfortunately, I’ve never had the ability to play for Man City, nor the money to buy Man City. But I do care – more than most about Man City.

What can we do about this direct ability to halt the slide of our great club? Well, for a start we must challenge the incompetent decisions that have been made over the last few years. City’s management has taken us fans for granted for far to long. As Neil Haigh stated in the last MCVITA, we must begin to question their actions. Too many important decisions have been made by too few folk, who had been riding on a high reputation at that time, and thought they knew best. History has proved time and time again that they’ve been wrong. We should take an inactive rôle in the running of Manchester City Football Club no longer.

We must question those decisions that are taken by ‘the management’, yet are so wrong.

For instance:

  • Why was Frank Clark sacked on the morning of an important league match?
  • Why was Joe Royle brought in as manager? He should never even have beenconsidered after turning City down many years ago. And who on joiningEverton said they were the only possible team he could leave Oldham for.Obviously, another with Paul Simpson’s ‘deep affection’. From his days atEverton, it was obvious that he would introduce the long ball tactic intoCity’s play. Did anyone consult the fans on whether we wanted to turn upand see Sam Ellis football Mark II?
  • The sacking of Colin Bell was a disgrace. How can City let an outsiderlike Frank Clark come into Man City, have him sack the club’s most famousplayer – and then get rid of Frank Clark himself less than 12 months later?In doing so, ruining the reputation of the greatest English player Man Cityhas ever had.
  • Why did Joe Royle get away with blighting the reputation of GioKinkladze? Leaving out Gio from the relegation battles is the main reasonCity was relegated. Royle should never have been allowed to adopt thistactic. What was he doing encouraging Gio to have talks with Ajax in themost important weeks of City’s history? And after the transfer deadlinedate at that. Due to Royle’s incompetent treatment of Kinkladze, hisreputation is in tatters, I would expect City to only pick up about £4 millionfor Gio when he moves in the summer, instead of the £10 million he’s worth.
  • How did City get away with a policy of selling their best players – i.e.Flitcroft, Quinn, Curle and Lomas. What a difference these players wouldhave made this season. They’ve all gone on to do better elsewhere. How did’the management’ get away with it?
  • How can the club pay £1 million for Kavelashvili, and then not play him?How come nobody realised until too late that he was going to lose his workpermit, and consequently become wasted money?
  • How can the club pay £1 million for Nigel Clough, who was already provingto be a failure at Liverpool? If he’s that poor, that he can’t feature in 1first team match all season, and if nobody else wants him why hasn’t hebeen sacked?
  • How come City only got £1.3 million for Lomas, who less than 12 monthslater is attracting bids of over £3 million.

I could go on, but I’m just getting angry!

Far too many poor decisions have been made in recent years. In future we’ve got to question them. This is our club and we must not let the passers by ruin it.

If Joe Royle sells Gio for 4 million, with no sell on clause or first option to buy back clause we must question him on it.
If Royle spends the money on Thomas Brolin to replace him we must question him on it.
If Royle makes Ian Bishop club captain (heaven forbid) we must question him on it.
If Royle sells Horlock, Brown and the Whitleys we must say no. Joe Royle, as much as I admire your ability to lead the City forward line in the late 70’s, together with you’re proficiency to manage Oldham on limited resources. If you were to come round my house asking for a cup of tea, I’d say Joe Royle no – us fans have been around and we’ll stay around forever!

Does anyone know where I can get some good relegation counselling?

Colin Jonas (colinjonas@compuserve.com)

OPINION – THE TRAGEDY OF RELEGATION

Here’s my thoughts following the tragic relegation of the club I love and the hope which is now within me (I know but 20 years of City support has these strange effects on you).

First thanks to the chariman and manager for their comments and apologies to the fans. It makes a refreshing change for the board and management to recognise the fans and admit that the way the club has been run for the past 20 years is a shambles!

Onto the future, wholesale clearouts are planned (and finally much needed)! Great, let’s just keep some stability following the clearout to allow it to work this time. There is a vast amount of dross in the squad (Clough, Creaney etc. hang your heads in shame) this should go but for Christ’s sake keep the True Blue youngsters for once and make sure Brown, the Whitleys, Morley, Edghill et al stay; we need fight and these are the people who will give all to the cause. We don’t want to go back to the disaster days this season of being put out of the cup by ex-City men (Lomas and Sheron for example – why sell them?).

For City to bounce back they should not spend a fortune but keep the starting line up that played at Stoke, if JR doesn’t like wingers keep Dickov providing the grit and skill to Goater and Bradbury’s … speed (sorry can’t think of the other assets!). Offload the dross, take the Kinky money, give the youngsters a chance and save it all until we’re back next season.

On a final note, what is going on with Margetson? Why do we want to sell him to buy an Everton reserve goalkeeper? Okay he make some bad errors at the end of the season – for the rest of the season he played some blinders (more than Wright who should be pensioned off) and loves the club. He’s waited patiently for his chance for years and as soon as he gets it he’s told he can bugger off at the end of the season – what does Royle think that is going to do to his confidence in the vital games?

Anyway enough planning till I see the back of Clough and Creaney (let’s face it no defenders have for years!).

CTID, Matt Bass (Matt.Bass@Luggage-Express.Demon.Co.UK)

OPINION – SO *WHERE* DO WE GO FROM HERE!?

I had every intention of making this a ‘Why Blue?’ but in the aftermath of our relegation I felt the need to impart my opinion to anyone bored enough to read it. For the record, I did not go to the match on Sunday, I did not watch it on Sky, nor did I listen to the match on Radio 5 Live. To do so, would have been like going to see “The Titanic”. I just knew what was going to happen in the end.

Much has been spoken and written as to why City are in the current predicament and not being one to dwell too much on the past, it is probably best that we forget the past and look to the future.

Joe Royle has come in for a lot of, to my mind unjust, criticism over team selections and his handling of Gio Kinkladze. But let’s face it, Kinkladze was never the type of player to get us out of this mess single-handedly. We will probably never know what went on behind the scenes with the original transfer deal but it is quite clear that Gio was FHL’s boy right from the start. Once FHL had departed, he took Kinky’s motivation with him. Gone was his protector. Now before you all get on your high horse, I am not questioning Kinkladze’s ability or skill. He is/was the most talented player I have ever seen play in the blue of Manchester City. As to whether JR did the ‘right’ thing in excluding Kinky from the first team, I believe he did. JR was faced with a single problem – to keep City in the First Division. To do that he needed to assemble a squad within the current squad that would be good enough and motivated enough. If Kinky, as had been rumoured, guaranteed a first team place purely on the say so of FHL, then you can well understand the favouritism causing a little animosity amongst the rest of the squad. Compound that with the accumulation of three years and umpteen managers worth of signings and you have a recipe for disaster.

So what to do, include Gio in every game and have a dressing room of players muttering insinuations before, during and after the matches or remove the source of annoyance and try to build a modicum of team spirit. Looks like JR chose the latter and in retrospect whether the decision was right or wrong, it certainly proved that the players at Man City are just not good enough. Let’s not point fingers at previous chairmen or managers (although I really believe that Francis Lee’s big mistake was not to clear out the backroom at Maine Road. Too many people loyal to Peter Swales were left in key positions. Take the débâcle over Kinkladze’s work permit for instance; Bernard Halford was quoted in the MUEN that he didn’t know he had to apply for one. That in itself beggars belief and he should have been sacked there and then. It eventually took six weeks before the application was approved by the DoE). But at the end of the day, it is results that count. And the only people who can ensure that we get those results are the 11 men out on the green bit every Saturday. Sadly, those who claim to represent Manchester City by donning a blue shirt have under-performed and underachieved.

Now it is time for Joe Royle to clear out the debris. Already today (06/05) Ian Brightwell and Martyn Margetson have been released, but Kit Symons is having talks regarding a contract renewal (why?) and Brannan and Russell have been transfer-listed. I suppose if Willie Donachie can’t teach Symons to be a half-decent defender, then no-one can. It will be interesting indeed to see which clubs fall over themselves to sign the so-called big stars who are now available on the cheap. I can see Ian Brightwell ending up at Macclesfield. At least the drop in wages will be offset by the savings recouped travelling in from Congleton.

What about next season? First things first. Let’s get rid of the dross and then have a good look at JR’s potential targets. Rumour and speculation will abound this summer, but until players actually put pen to paper before getting excited/critical/whatever. Please, let’s not sign any fading stars or jaded heroes (particularly one former Rag who has been linked via the tabloids. Hughes may give City some firepower up front but the last thing we need is to be goaded by the woodworm supporters from OT that the only way for City to pull themselves out of the mire was to employ former United players. So no Mark Hughes or Brian McClair and I don’t give a sod about what they could add in terms of experience, especially at this sort of level, blah blah.). Sign a few old war-horses, by all means (that’s war-horse, not Warhurst). Both David Platt and Lee Dixon must be surplus to requirement at Highbury by now and perhaps Mr. Wenger could be persuaded to part with Steve Bould as well. Add a few young pacy players and a decent ‘keeper (oh how we have missed one of those in recent seasons) and Division Two may soon be a distant memory.

Not all will be doom and gloom next season. It wasn’t all that long ago that Aston Villa, Blackburn, Wolves and Sunderland suffered the ignominy of a spell in Division 2. With the exception of Wolves (the very epitome of mediocrity), all have enjoyed reasonable spells of success in recent times. City’s demise has been on the cards for a few seasons now, and next season will be the ideal opportunity to turn the club around and get us back where we belong.

As for the ‘Why Blue?’, well that’s more of a ‘Don’t Know Why Blue’. My formative years were spent at Moss Lane supporting Altrincham with my father, grandfather and godfather. That was in the early 60’s when supporters used to change ends at half-time as well. Most of the time was spent playing footie on the grass embankment with my cousin, Paul, using those plastic cups that the Bovril came in for a ball. The highlight was running onto the pitch after one of the matches to pat the players on the back and have Jackie Swindells rub his hand in my face. I don’t remember much from those years other than a trip to Molineux for a cup tie and another trip to either OT or Maine Road for another cup game (don’t remember the opposition).

It wasn’t until my family emigrated to South Africa that I became aware of the existence of Manchester City. My uncle sent the Manchester City Book of Football No 2 to me for Christmas (must have been 1971). I was enthralled by the tale of City’s success in the League, FA Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup under Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison, that and the red and black away strip. I was totally unaware that both my father and grandfather were also Blues, but chose rather to watch the local team. It was only last year that my father told me how he queued all night outside Maine Road for a Cup Final ticket in 1955. It was hard to follow City from so far away. My dad and I used to listen to Saturday Special on BBC World Service every Saturday afternoon to get the latest scores and second half commentary. All through school, a short stint at university and 2 years National Service, my loyalty remained. And for some reason, after all the highs (not many) and lows (very many) I am City ’til I die. It wasn’t so much that I chose City, more like they chose me.

P.S. What I am most pi**ed off about is that it is a real setback for CM2 addicts like myself.

Peter Wilman (peter.wilman@burnsos.com)

OPINION – IMPENDING FREEFALL

Well, we knew it was going to happen. We’ve known for 8 and a half months out of the last nine that we were going down. Permutations permitting… If we have a good performance on Sunday against Stoke… Yeah, we’ve been saying that for every minute of the past eight days. Truth is, when the Manchester Giants played in the basketball semis on Saturday and despite playing a blinder lost to Birmingham, it was always going to be a bad weekend for Manchester. This isn’t all bad. On current form Arsenal should win and then at least we’ll have something to shout back at the Reds… Once again, Black Sunday.

Did anyone else feel a sense of ‘déjà vu’ at when everyone was willing Huddersfield or Bradford to score? See it’s exactly the same as it was two years ago. Hoping Southampton or Coventry would concede. They didn’t. Relegated on goal difference. Huddersfield, Bradford. Relegated by one point. I know this point of the season is about if’s and but’s, but if Margetson hadn’t given the ball to allow the cross to let ‘old boy’ Sheron score, it’s QPR vs. Macc in a high tempo, skilful matchup. It doesn’t get much better, turned the radio on, Robbie Williams want to ‘let him entertain us’. He’s a Port Vale fan. Fantastic. Turn the TV on. Switch to Sky Movies 1. Muppets Take Manhattan. Start thinking that Kermit the Frog would look good in the new Matchwinner produced City shirt. This is what we’ve become. Sick and delusioned.

The sad thing is, this is not our darkest day. That happened much earlier, when we got relegated from the Prem. Truth is we’ve been in recoil since then. Irony says that, after missing a bagful (all season) of chances Lee ‘I never missed in the Army’ Bradbury and Paul Dickov (my personal player of the season, simply because of his work rate), will hit form when it really doesn’t matter in the least. Sure enough Irony rears its ugly head and all the front 3 play a blinder. Yeah, this isn’t a low. We’ve started to play. That’s the most important thing. We will still turn up in numbers of 28,000 plus. We will still cheer for the ‘heroes’ that pull on the blue shirt. A turn around is what’s needed but we all know that. Incidentally, last year there was a message posted from a Brighton fan who wanted us to mail his board to get the chairman out. He said that we should sympathise with his plight, because Brighton were in the same position as City a few years ago. Yeah I laughed. I said loser. That’s the problem. We are hurt the most by the fact that we are better than that. Two years ago we were too big to go down. Twenty minutes ago, we were too big to go down. What makes us think that in 12 months were not going to be in the same position again? The rot has got to stop here. The buck stops at Maine Road in August. We must fight back. Sure we are the most fanatical fans in the country. Not for long. We won’t be less loyal. We just won’t be replaced. How many City fans have children that twenty years ago would have been Blue, but out of embarrassment are Red? 70%? 80%? Let that at least make us change. P.S. £10,000 to fly Kinky back. Thats a grand a minute isn’t it? Let me get this right, he plays 90 minutes in a Tunisian desert, and we expect him to make a genuine difference 16 hours later? Personally I would have been knackered from the flight, never mind the football. We have expected too much of him. I hope he does well for himself at Ajax. Maybe he’ll send us a postcard from the top flight.

City Forever, David Ward (D.P.WARD@EEE.SALFORD.AC.UK)

NEW GROUND

Reasons For Moving

  1. We will have a bigger ground

Reasons For Staying Put

  1. It’s an excuse to inflate season ticket prices (again)
  2. Whatever the board say, a 70,000 stadium will look empty when 30-40 thousand are inside
  3. Car parking will be impossible/expensive (just ask Stoke/Middlesbrough/Bolton/Derby)
  4. It will only be full for Cup Semi’s, England Games and when United “Borrow” it when they redevelop Old Trafford
  5. Having to move will be the final straw for many Blues
  6. It will have a running track (are you telling me that they will pay for aCommonwealth stadium and it will be used once and once only for athletics – nochance, the running track will stay)

Why not spend the money extending the Kippax to meet a second tier on the Platt Lane and mirror that across to the North Stand? You may think that the Platt Lane is awful, but imagine it with another tier!

Chris Palmer – Bury (DDATAS@aol.com)

OPINION – ANOTHER DAY ANOTHER DIVISION

Just thought I’d add my Blue thoughts to the page. Spent Sunday afternoon and night in the Highbury and Islington area which in retrospect probably wasn’t a good idea. All those Arsenal fans driving round singing and sounding their horns, but hey it was a constant reminder that the Rags failed in their conquest to take over the world! I’m gutted and sickened to think we’ll be playing Wycombe and Macc Scum next year, after all I follow Altrincham FC too and it was bad enough when they got promoted out of the Conference never mind for City to be playing them. I never thought my two footballing worlds would ever meet each other! As for some of the dumps we will have to go to… Bournemouth! Large shed, Chesterfield not so large shed. I was at Saltergate on the 29th April for the Unibond League Cup Final and was totally amazed at the lack of facilities and general “run downess” of the place. We must rise above it straight away. I no longer want to travel on the Underground and have people laugh and point at me through the window of trains at my City top.

City and I still know why! Blues!

John Gill (jgill@madge.com)

OPINION – IT’S FINALLY HAPPENED

I always held the hope that we would pull out of the situation. For a few minutes on Sunday I thought we had done a Houdini and escaped the drop. Alas no. It hurt a lot but it could have hurt more, it was more that I had expected it to happen and it did.

The news played up as it always does. City fans were to blame for the violence, not Stoke’s ticket policy or the 5,000 fans who blocked the only bridge out of the stadium. The BBC had a programme on, Blues: The Mourning After. It brought up no new comments or ideas as to what’s gone wrong. I still wore my shirt with pride on Sunday night in the pub and even stood at the bar singing City ’til I die with a few other people.

One consolation in that Arsenal won the league. I was puzzled to find that the tabloids had not done their special front page posters to celebrate Arsenal’s triumph as they did with Un**ed. But theres no media bias to “The World’s Biggest Football Club(TM)”.

I found Wycombe on the map, now I’m wondering the way to Southend and trying to find decent accomodation down there.

CTIFMWTW (City till I find my way to Wycombe), Andy Holgate (andy.holgate@tipeur.ge.com)

THANKS I

Ashley, Paul, Svenn and all MCIVTAers,

Thanks for another year of superb coverage of the fortunes of our beloved City. MCIVTA is the best thing on the net, and you mean everything to us overseas Blues. Thanks.

CTID, Benjamin Bloom – Tel-Aviv (spastic@netvision.net.il)

THANKS II

This is unlikely to be of much comfort to anybody but it is true and it needs saying.

If our club had been run with the same consistency, passion and attention to detail as this newsletter, we would not be in this mess.

Well done to MCIVTA and all those who have worked on it and for it.

Thanks.

Jonathan Seitler (jseitler@wilberforce.co.uk)

WHY BLUE?

My first memories date from the Cup Finals of 1955 and 1956. By the second final, just before my 7th birthday, I was definitely a Blue, and had found my first hero, Bert Trautmann.

I grew up in Stretford in a United-supporting family. Bert Trautmann was my reason for breaking ranks. I persuaded my father to take me to some City games, and vaguely remember being lifted up in a crowded Kippax to see Frank Swift receive a presentation and pick up balls with one hand. Like most kids, I went where I was taken, and saw as much of United as I did City. I remember the sadness of Munich and being taken to the first match played by the reconstructed team at Old Trafford. I still go cold when I think of it. So despite my love of City, I find it hard to ‘hate’ United.

My infrequent trips to Maine Road were disrupted when we moved to Chorley when I was 10. My early teens saw visits to Blackburn, Bolton, Preston and occasionally Maine Road until at the age of 15 we moved again to Sussex. So goodbye to watching City; until inspired teaching returned me to Manchester to study at the University.

Now came the golden years. 1967-70 said it all. A fabulous team winning everything in sight, student life, and happy hours in the crush on the Kippax. During one memorable Derby game, I pulled my girlfriend towards me to celebrate a goal, only to find a complete stranger attached to my sweaty hand.

I left University to work in Essex, and City watching was restricted to the occasional London match with Tony, a friend from University, whose enthusiasm for the Blues exceeded my own, despite his North London roots. Where are you now Tony? Are you still suffering?

My marriage in 1976, happy in all other respects, marked the start of the football wilderness years. A year in Oxford and the last twenty in Shropshire relegated my support to a casual interest in the results and the occasional TV game. Live football became a distant memory; one of those things you did when you were young and single. The arrival of two daughters seemed to confirm this view.

But all was not lost. My daughters grew up with a keen interest in football, which when linked to a similar interest in boys, drew them inexorably towards their fate. One day, they casually announced they could think of no good reason to support Wolves, Shrewsbury or Telford, and had decided to support my team, City. Would, I take them to a match? So, more than 20 years after my last live City game, we arrived at Maine Road to watch City take on Villa. The girls were photographed in front of the ground in their new City kit, and my boyhood hero, with immaculate timing, turned out to open the new Kippax.

My neighbour for the day, a grizzled veteran, filled me in with all the details of Bert’s life. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I still knew it all. And to round off a truly memorable day, a small player with a strange foreign name shooting straight at me into the net. I suddenly understood what it must be like to be a born again Christian.

We were soon watching most home games and away matches in the Midlands. My daughter’s friends quickly latched on to the chance to watch live football, and at last count I had introduced 8 poor young souls to the dubious pleasures of supporting City.

And so to this season. I finally got my first season ticket at 48, along with one for my daughters.

Since my rebirth, I’ve rediscovered the joys of terrace humour, half-time pies, the pre-match march through Moss Side, and the subtle allure of a weekend in Grimsby with two fellow sufferers from my local in Coalbrookdale. I’ve also found an enjoyable way of fuelling my compulsion through the Internet. And I’ve shared the drama that always goes with supporting City with my teenage daughters, at an age when I fully expected them to communicate with me through the occasional grunt.

So we’ve suffered a bit, but continue to live in hope and anticipation of better times.

CTID, Andrew Mason (A.R.Mason@btinternet.com)

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


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DISCLAIMER
The views expressed in MCIVTA are entirely those of the subscribersand there is no intention to represent these opinions as being thoseof Manchester City Football Club, nor of any of the companies anduniversities by whom the subscribers are employed. It is not inany way whatsoever connected to the club or any other relatedorganisation and is simply a group of supporters using this mediumas a means of disseminating news and exchanging opinions.


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

Newsletter #396

1998/05/07

Editor:


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