Newsletter #436

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Circumstances mean that I haven’t had any time to do any editing to this issue, I’ve merely cut and pasted articles in. Apolgies for any drop in quality, and especially if anything offensive has made it through; hopefully not!

Apologies for any errors, and for not replying to submissions 8-((.

Next game, Millwall away, Tuesday 29th September 1998

MATCH REPORT I

I’d been looking forward to Northampton: a game against a struggling side only 15 minutes drive from my home. I’d got tickets for the family stand by pretending that my 6-year-old was a Cobblers fan. This backfired on me. On Friday evening when I picked him up from school, he declared “I am supporting Northampton tomorrow. City are my eleventh side now.” I still haven’t worked out who the other nine are.

The atmosphere was electric, or more accurately thundery. A few City shirts had fooled the box office and made it into the Family Stand, but were comfortably outnumbered by the red, purple and blue of United (and a couple of Liverpools). The crowd, 7,557, was Northampton’s biggest this season; at least 50 more ticketless Blues watched from the bank behind the South Stand.

Nicky Weaver was back in goal, looking bigger than ever; the only team surprise was to start Allsopp rather than Dickov. Maybe this was tactical, because when we started it became clear that the neat, patient possession game favoured recently had been replaced by an agricultural long-ball approach. Since this is what Northampton do for a living, it seemed an odd way to take them on: and indeed, the only moment they looked uncomfortable was when Edghill won a throw by blasting the ball off Ali Gibb’s squidgy bits. Although City had more possession, nothing seemed to hang together: Edghill miscued a cross right out of the ground; Bradbury was letting fly with a succession of late challenges and flying elbows; Pollock was anonymous. Around 15 minutes, the balance of play shifted to our end, with Northampton winning a succession of corners and dangerous free kicks. City continued to make a few chances – Horlock and Allsopp putting a particularly good move together, and even Fenton having a blast from forty yards that almost joined Edghill’s ball in the car park – but it wasn’t unexpected when, on the half hour, Weaver punched away under pressure leaving himself stranded as Dean Peer picked it up and blasted home from the back of the D.

It was obvious that the mix needed changing and, on forty minutes, Dickov was brought on for Allsop – who hadn’t been at all bad, but someone had to go. Dickov hit form at once, setting up a good chance for Shaun Goater and bringing a speed, determination and inventiveness that set him apart from everyone on the field. Nonetheless, when Colin Hill slammed a defensive header a yard wide of the post in injury time, it was the closest we’d come to scoring so far. Things weren’t looking good.

Joe’s half-time chat must have been impressive, because for a while City came back out looking like they meant it. Pollock was back to normal, forcing his way from the halfway line to win a corner (which wasn’t given). Dickov was running the attack; ten minutes in, he forced his way into the left of the box. I expected him to dive but, no, he crossed, the rebound came back and he drove it convincingly into the top left. One-all. We weren’t losing, but we weren’t winning either. Our play was still scrappy and both Dickov and Bradbury had plenty to thank the referee for. Within ten minutes of our equalizer, we were under pressure in the box and Carlo Corazzin made it 2-1.

There didn’t look to be any way back from here. Feelings of shame got worse. Dickov was hurt; Northampton put the ball out. Sporting tradition says that Edghill should have thrown it back to them. He didn’t. What was most worrying was not the booing that subsequently followed Edgy everywhere – he’s used to that from us – but the fact that Pollock was clearly signalling him to throw it to them, and he just didn’t understand. Communication anyone?

Three minutes from time, Tiatto was, despairingly, brought on for Fenton – maybe because he’s scored the odd goal and Fenton hasn’t. Then, just as we were packing our bags, the ball came to Goater just outside the box and – following two deflections – his shot found its way into the net. No-one really understood how it got there, but that’s definitely where it was. Two-all!

The last minutes were hectic – everyone played their last substitute (ours was Crooks), Tiatto was booked, neither team knew whether to play for time or press forward – and given both sides’ history of bad luck, the whistle was welcomed by all. Overall, it felt more like a defeat than a point salvaged. Hats off to Goater for another last-gasp goal, but we were dreary, dirty and lucky.

My son still supports the Cobblers.

Ratings

Weaver 7 No great saves but always cool under pressure.
Edghill 4 Always in the play, never to any effect.
Horlock 6 Some good moves.
Fenton 6 Solid.
Wiekens 8 Always reassuring and capable.
Vaughan 6 Unmemorable.
Whitley, Jim 7 Put in some neat crosses; always busy.
Pollock 6 Picked up in the second but generally below form.
Goater 7 Would be 5 without the goal; doesn’t do much when he’s not scoring.
Bradbury 4 Gets nasty when frustrated. Very frustrated today.
Allsopp 6 Looked good at times but didn’t have Dickov’s impact.
Dickov 9 Saved the game. At his determined, devious best.

Dorien James (ros_james@compuserve.com)

MATCH REPORT II

City Played Cobblers – But Still Got A 2-2 Draw!

The new Sixfields Stadium is just like one of my first girlfriends – small but perfectly formed. The match itself served up further reminders as City flirted (with defeat) before finally serving up a suitable climax. The City end behind one goal was fairly full (with just over 600 according to the programme) but apart from that there were just a few City fans dotted around the stands in a virtual full house of just over 7,000. Tickets were supposed to be like gold dust, but I had managed to secure 4 tickets for myself, wife and 2 kids by the cunning plan of moving house to Northamptonshire in 1987 then lying low for 11 years to wait for the big day to come round.

City started fairly brightly, with a reasonable amount of possession, but not too many clear chances were created. Edghill fired one shot so high it cleared the top of the stand (i.e. just over the bar). Whitley and Allsopp were combining well on the right, so it was a bit of a surprise when Allsopp was taken off to make room for Dickov. However, Northampton counter-attacked strongly making good use of the full width of the pitch. From one bread-and-butter cross Weaver came well off his line to punch but dropped the ball in a crowded area – he may have been badly jostled but I had a poor view from the opposite end of the ground. He recovered to palm the ball a further yard away only for Peer to fire into an unguarded net.

Despite Wiekens and Fenton deservedly winning praise for their form this season, City still appear fragile when serious crosses are sent over. City then had a further spell of pressure with The Goat going close from one low cross. Bradbury was playing, well reasonably I suppose you’d have to say. He was holding the ball up fairly well most of the time, but never seems to do anything “special”. He doesn’t seem to ever run at defenders or actually beat anybody.

JR obviously gave them a roasting at half time as they started the 2nd half much more purposefully. Northampton were forced to pull 10 men behind the ball and this seemed to succeed in stifling the City pressure. Then from a frantic spell of pin-ball in the penalty area, Dickov cracked a shot into the top corner. We were getting on on top now, but in situations like this a killer instinct is needed to finish teams off, and we just don’t have it.

From a Northampton free kick down towards our corner flag (after a theatrical dying swan dive), the ball was floated over into a pack of about 100 players in the space of 2 square yards. Somehow it got bundled over the line for the 2nd Northampton goal. Things were looking bad, especially as Northampton had a few further chances after that.

At one point, Northampton deliberately put the ball out for a City throw in when Goater was lying injured, then from the throw in Edghill decided to keep possession instead of doing the customary thing and passing it back to Northampton. I don’t know why he did that.

Just as I was resigned to a 2nd defeat of the season, with about 5 minutes left, there was some mickey-mouse confusion involving a back-pass and a poor goalkeeper’s clearance, and Goater was presented with the easiest of chances to fire low into an empty net. City celebrations were tumultous, but I suspect more from relief than anything else (like for example a famous result against mighty rivals).

I’ve seen City 5 times now this season, and it saddens me to say it, but they are looking and playing very much like an ordinary 2nd Division side. How would you describe the current league position? If you’re an optimist you’d say tucked in well just behind the top few. If you’re a pessimist you’d say the upper bit of mid-table. One thing is for certain, it’s clear we aren’t going to storm to promotion.

And the girlfriend? Just like today’s game, she had some good points, but I was fairly pleased when the final whiste went!

Steve Maclean (stevemaclean@msn.com)

MATCH REPORT III

Having failed to obtain a ticket by phone, I travelled hopefully the short distance up the M1 (from Luton) on Saturday morning. The Cobblers’ ground was easy to find and there was an enormous free car park next door. The sun was shining (the forecast rain failed to materialise all day) and it was warm and humid. However, my spirits were a little dampened by the seeming impossibility of getting a ticket – there were several other City fans standing around with the same intention. The best bet for watching the game looked like being the high bank that overlooks the stadium – from which you can see about three quarters of the pitch.

But … I noticed a pub just across the road filled with blue shirts and made my way there. Within 30 seconds of entering I was in possession of a ticket (in the home fans’ stand), bought from a Northampton based City fan, and there was still time for a pint or two…

If you think this is taking a long time to get to the football… well I have to admit that it turned out to be less than enthralling. The Sixfields stadium is very new but it is minute – 7,550 capacity – so no surprise that it was a sell-out. City were kicking from right to left as I watched, with our supporters in a tiny stand behind the right-hand goal. I don’t know how many they were (about 1,200?) but I believe they were as quiet as I have experienced at an away game in recent years.

This was my first live viewing of the Blues this season and I must admit I was optimistic. After all, this was the Second Division, Northampton had only won one league game, and we had some new young players on view, since last season. City lined up something like this:

                    Weaver
      Edghill Fenton Wiekens Horlock
       Vaughan Pollock Whitley (Jim)
         Bradbury Goater Allsopp

For the first 10-15 minutes we had a lot of possession and played some neat football with the old story of not looking very threatening. Northampton were quite tentative at this stage as you might expect from a team with their recent record. I was watching Allsopp and Bradbury, having heard some positive reports about both recently, but was pretty disappointed. Goater, although looking quite clumsy, seemed about our best hope. He was to have a couple of headers and a shot in the first half, none really threatening.

The Cobblers gradually realised that they could have some impact on the game and gained more and more possession, playing some better football than you might expect (they are noted for the long ball – their manager saying he does not have the players to play any other style). They were starting to give us a lot of trouble in the air and it wasn’t a complete surprise that their goal originated from a cross or corner? What was disappointing was that it was a mistake by Weaver that handed it to them. He failed to gather the high ball, spilling it from his hands, following up with a half punch straight to their number 6 who seemed to be given an enormous amount of time to thump it back past a desperate City ‘keeper trying to get back to his line. This was on thirty minutes and five minutes later an anonymous Allsopp (was he carrying an injury?) was replaced by Dickov. This definitely improved the City attack; we know Dickov’s limitations but, as usual, he put himself about and their defence didn’t like it.

Half-time: 0-1 and the same old City!

Within nine minutes of the restart we were level with the best goal of the game. Dickov passed into the area from the left and it came back to him from a bit of a scramble; taking a stride just into the box, from a fairly acute angle, he lashed the ball into the roof of the net. I thought we might go on from here to win but Northampton’s aerial power game was too much for our defence. Ten minutes later we were down again. I need to see this one on TV to see what happened (it was at the far end from me) but another high ball into the box and Fenton seemed to finish in the net with the ball. I’m not sure where Weaver was.

At least the game was now quite exciting with both teams attacking. But I do have to say again City seemed toothless up front and I couldn’t see an equaliser coming. In defence we were having trouble containing them physically. Fenton was feeling the pressure and was booked. The main thing in our favour was that their forwards were very limited with the ball at their feet. We kept playing some neat football and had a header (from Vaughan I think) cleared off the line but I didn’t really see another goal coming for us. The game was getting a bit rough and shapeless and all the substitutes were used before Goater’s late, late equaliser. The ball was lobbed forward after a free kick, he swung his leg hopefully, making a very poor contact and the ball deflected very luckily into the net. I’m not sure it was deserved. Even then, in the 91st minute, we nearly gave it to them as Vaughan allowed a ball to run (he thought) back to Weaver, who wasn’t there. It was intercepted and the guy should have scored but he seemed to panic, putting it high and wide.

So what do I think of the ‘new’ City? Too much of the ‘old’ City on this performance. Weaver and Fenton found it tough against some big men. Our front players won’t frighten many defences even at this level. I think I’m going to give up once and for all on the ‘promise’ of Bradbury – I can’t remember one threat from him in this game. As for creativity, there was little on view – only Dickov asking questions of their defence. Remember, this was against a club of incredibly modest resources, with a very small squad, and with home gates of normally less than 5,000. Their manager has done really well with what he’s got – a point I admitted to a News of the World reporter outside the ground before the game. He was asking what I thought of Joe Royle… did anyone see anything in northern editions?

Player ratings:

Weaver (5) A big disappointment on the day for me;
Edghill (6) Nothing disastrous but he didn’t support the attack much;
Fenton (6) Showed promise in a tough test;
Wiekens (7) Calming influence;
Horlock (6) I’ve seen him play better – another who couldn’t get forward much;
Vaughan (6) Nearly presented them with the winner;
Pollock (7) Always trying but a bit restrained today by his standards;
Whitley (5) No presence whatsoever;
Bradbury (5) I expected so much more;
Goater (6) One point for his goal – how does he keep up his scoring ratio?
Allsopp (5) Surely he was not fit to start?

Subs:
Dickov (8) City’s man of the match. Took some punishment by the end and had to go off himself.
Tiatto and Crooks were only on for a few minutes.

Sorry if this all seems a bit downbeat but we should have high expectations of the team at this level shouldn’t we?

Peter Kewley pk@barnlib.demon.co.uk)

MATCH REPORT IV

It’s not often that I have the opportunity to write a “live” report, so be prepared for this to run a little long. In fact, I’ve never written a live report before – this being my laptop’s first trip across the pond – so I guess I’m entitled to write as much as I want.

Indeed, I was one of the few true Blues lucky enough to get the proper paperwork required for entry into the Sixfields Military Compound. I wasn’t sat in the City end, but I did notice several other City fans who were shrewd enough to leave their Kappa gear at home and sneak into the main stand in civilian clothes. If only our team were as enterprising as the supporters, maybe we wouldn’t be in a position where we’re actually grateful to nick a point off a sad outfit like the Cobblers.

This was my fifth and final up-close look at City before returning to the States on Monday night. It was also the 10th time I’ve actually seen the Blues in person, but the afternoon was hardly perfect. Nicky Weaver’s miserable effort in goals, Tony Vaughan’s dreadful distribution from the back and a really needless foul conceded by Jim Whitley saw to that.

We lined up with our usual back three – Fenton, Wiekens and Vaughan – but there were surprises everywhere else. Most curious was JR’s decision to switch our consummate wingback, Mr. Edghill, to the left side; Joe must have forgotten that Little Richard can’t even pass or cross the ball with his right foot. Gary Mason, who Joe claims will play for Scotland’s senior side someday, was dropped after looking far out of his depth against Derby in midweek. Dickov was also left on the bench despite a return to the three-striker alignment, with Danny Allsopp in his place. On that score, I agree with JR’s recent statement that Allsopp is still better as a sub. than as a starter for now. Off the bench against the Sheepshaggers on Wednesday, Danny Boy changed the whole tone of the match with his pace and bustle. As part of Saturday’s first team, he looked flat and confused and was yanked before the break in favour of Dickov – something you rarely see. Reminded me of my beloved countryman, Ronnie Rosenthal, who never did anything for Liverpool unless he was a late introduction.

Allsopp, mind you, wasn’t the only Blue who looked lethargic. They all seemed disinterested in the first half, settling for aimless hoofing upfield instead of the neat passing that troubled Derby in the Cup. Sadly, that still would have been enough to win comfortably if not for Weaver. Although he certainly must have been rusty after sitting out nearly 10 days with a groin strain, the young ‘keeper looked Mason-like on crosses and corners – absolutely frightened by them.

Northampton’s goal came on the half-hour, when Weaver punched an eminently catchable cross straight to Dean Peer on the edge of the City penalty area. Royle would later claim that Weaver was fouled, but Joe must be seeing things. Naturally, Peer punished City by dispatching a sweetly struck half-volley into the unguarded net to make it 1-nil. Even worse, Weaver spent the rest of the match glued to his line… and that obvious fear would eventually be exploited in the second half.

Dickov came on for Allsopp about six minutes after Town’s opener and turned the game ’round. As president (and solitary member) of the Nigel Clough Fan Club, I’m probably the biggest Dickov-basher around, but even I had to admit that he was pure class here. It was Dickov who finally drew City level seven minutes into the second half, getting deep down the left and squaring the ball for Horlock near the six-yard box. Horlock was dispossessed before he could shoot, but Dickov intercepted the clearance and blistered a 12-yard drive that tore off the ‘keeper’s hand on the way in. Besides making it 1-1, the goal also dispelled the myth that the little Scot can only score from a yard out. It must have been his longest goal in City colors since the lob he produced in 1996 to seal a 2-1 win at Port Vale (I think) shortly after joining the club.

Sad as I am, even after watching City win just two of the nine previous times I was in the stadium to watch them, I actually thought Dickov’s goal would lead to all three points. Wrong! About 10 minutes after the equalizer, Whitley bundled over one of Northampton’s faceless, nameless jokers when the player wasn’t even close to threatening the City goal. The foul was way out by the corner flag, but Weaver’s refusal to come out for the ensuing free kick resulted in a goal-line scramble. Northampton’s Chris Corrazin was first to the ball and toed it home, killing City’s momentum and setting up a repeat of my farewell game last September, when the Blues lost 2-1 at home to Norwich the day before I flew back to the States.

The prospect of a second equalizer seemed unfathomable with Northampton packing the back and City restricting their approach play to hopeful long balls. A corner with 12 minutes to go allowed Vaughan a shot at redemption for a miserable afternoon, but his looping header was cleared off the line. Then, just when it looked like City were going home pointless, Goater scored on an out-and-out fluke. Bradbury beautifully took down a long serve from Edghill and flicked it in Goater’s direction. The big Bermudan, basically a waste in all five games I’ve seen, unleashed a speculative shot from the top of the box that took two – count ’em, two – deflections before settling in the bottom corner.

And that was it. Not enough for a victory, which would have been nice on the same day Stoke was losing at home, but enough to keep me from going home a loser. Given that Northampton had just toppled West Ham in the Worthington Cup – essentially the same West Ham team that knocked us out of the FA Cup just a few months prior – I suppose our fate could have been worse.

Since I’ve seen City’s past five outings, I actually feel somewhat qualified (for once) to rate the players in our squad. Here are some impressions, if you care, from the Bournemouth game to the present:

Weaver – I think we’re all getting a little ahead of ourselves talking about how great this kid is. He made some wonderful saves in the first leg of the Derby tie, but he also misplayed a handful in that game – which we legitimately should have lost about 5-1. I like the idea of playing him ahead of Wright because the experience is obviously going to speed his development, but that means we have to be prepared to accept major cock-ups (as seen Saturday).

Wright – Played solidly in his two-match stint as deputy. Some of his distribution was a bit suspect, as always, but his punting seems to have improved somewhat.

Edghill – Absolute crap. Even worse, Edghill actually thinks he’s good. Should be a star in this division, but he still won’t (can’t?) take people on. I’d love to see someone else here. Too bad Horlock and Tiatto are both left-footed, because they’re legitimate wingbacks.

Fenton – Faded at the end against Northampton, but he’s solid. The experience he’s getting now is going to be so valuable later. I’m really excited about him. Finally, a proper centre-half. And he’s still so young. Having just signed a new contract, Nick should be an anchor for City’s defence for a long time.

Wiekens – He’s the best player in the side, going on current form. Royle has even started a Gerard-for-Holland campaign, saying Wiekens deserves a look with his national team as a sweeper. I can’t say I’d go that far, but he sure looks good at the heart of our defence. Was he this good last year?

Vaughan – His first-half performance at Northampton was the worst I’ve ever seen by a City defender – and I realize that’s saying something. He literally gave away almost every single ball he played. Let’s just say that when Shelia gets fully fit, it won’t be a real mystery who gets dropped.

Horlock – Kevin can definitely play better than he has lately, but I like having him out there. I’m guessing that the drop to Division II has somewhat unsettled him mentally. He has to realize that he’s one of the leaders who can get us out of this mess. It also wouldn’t hurt if he worked on that right foot.

Tiatto – Hey Edgy, look over here. This is how a wing-back is supposed to play. Trouble is, Joe really can’t play Horlock and Tiatto in the same team unless he moves Horlock into a more central rôle. And we all know how that usually turns out. Best thing about this guy, like his Aussie compatriot Allsopp, is that he’ll go at anyone. He’s got the kind of b*****ks this team has been sorely lacking.

Jim Whitley – Just doesn’t do it for me. Like Edghill, he strikes me as tentative. More talented that Edghill, but unwilling to go forward and make something happen.

Pollock – Has really taken charge of the team and is playing some excellent football. While my man Clough remains in mothballs, Jamie has stepped into the creative void with passing and vision I didn’t think he had. But his temperament is still a nightmare. Losing his cool at Derby, in the first match after returning from a suspension, was unforgivable – especially from the captain. If he ever grows up, he’s one of the guys on the current roster who would also be effective in a higher division. But he’s got to wake up… and fast.

Mason – Looked cool on the ball and dangerous the first couple of times I saw him. Looked completely overmatched in the second leg vs. Derby. As with Weaver, he should be good as long as we’re patient. Hopefully, his Derby nightmare and subsequent axeing from the squad won’t cause long-term harm to his confidence.

Goater – He’ll always be a threat in this division… and that’s probably all he’ll ever be. All the reports about Shaun needing 5-6 chances to score once are true. Some days, like the Chesterfield game, five or six chances aren’t enough. And his penalty miss against the Spireites added to my legacy as the Blues’ official spot-kick jinx. In the past nine City games I’ve either attended or watched live on satellite in the States, the Blues have missed four out of five penalties (Rösler vs. Birmingham, Sept. 1996; Kinkladze vs. Bury, Sept.1997; and Rösler vs. West Ham, March 1997).

Bradbury – He’s finally settling in a little bit. You can see Lee obviously has loads of potential, but I don’t know if he’ll ever be comfortable playing with £3.5 million worth of pressure on his shoulders. I just hope the fans keep supporting him like they have in recent games, because it seems to be helping his confidence.

Dickov – Again, I don’t like him and never have. Not too fond of strikers who are five inches shorter than me. That said, there is no way Paul Dickov is a Division Two player. Ditto for Wiekens, Horlock, Pollock, etc. If he stays healthy, Dickov should either score 20 goals or create enough havoc for Goater and Bradbury to each rack up 20-plus. But all of our front players, even little Dickov, have to step up immediately. We’re clearly not getting sufficient production from the forwards at the moment; hence the latest spell of Mark Hughes rumours.

Allsopp – As stated, he’s been a holy terror when he comes on as a substitute. Although he scored on his full début against Bournemouth on my first night in town, I still prefer him in the wild-card rôle that nearly got City through to a third-round Cup tie against Arsenal.

I’d babble on for several more paragraphs if people let me, so it’s probably time to stop. Thanks for giving me the forum to think out loud, and thanks to all those locals who do these reports on a regular basis so us foreigners can stay on top of what’s happening.

Marc Stein, Dallas, Texas – and Chorlton-cum-Hardy every September (Stein43@aol.com)

MATCH REPORT V

Another game, another away tie against a team we’d only have ever played in a cup match not so long ago, another late equaliser from Goater, another away point, another less than convincing performance from the Blues at the most tinpot stadium I’ve ever been to. I don’t mean any offence to Northampton, I’m sure they’re very proud of their new ground, but did they really have to build the stands so far apart? There’s no danger of any missiles being thrown at away fans from the home end here (or vice versa), Steve Backley would struggle to throw anything at the neighbouring stand never mind your average not-particularly-athletic footie fan. The ground was full (no surprise there) but it was difficult to bait a home support that we could barely see due to the gap between the stands (did I mention that already?) so there wasn’t a great deal of atmosphere. City had Weaver back in goal and Jim Whitley in for Mason, Allsopp replaced Dickov who started on the bench. The full line up was therefore Weaver, Edghill, Vaughan, Fenton, Wiekens, Horlock, Pollock, Jim Whitley, Allsopp, Bradbury and Goater. Subs were Dickov, Tiatto and Crooks.

I can’t say City started brightly as I usually do because they didn’t. To be fair, Northampton didn’t either. They must feed them some funny things in Northampton ‘cos I reckon their team was on average about 18 inches taller than us. City, with their usual tactical brilliance in situations like this where they’re out-heighted (?!) and out-jumped by the opposition at every opportunity, limited any early attacks (and there weren’t many) to launching high balls into the Northampton area which, unsurprisingly, were picked up easily by the Northants defence. We’d had a bet beforehand about what Vaughan would do the first time he touched the ball – I’d gone for the wild kick into the stand up the left touchline but he managed to keep the ball on the pitch, a high ball from left to right (Nigel’s guess, well done mate) which went straight to one of theirs. The second time Vaughan touched the ball he kicked it wildly into the stand up the left touchline.

The first half hour was really scrappy. City’s defence were coping adequately with anything thrown at them – and that wasn’t much – and at least we weren’t seeing the normal dozens of chances squandered at the other end. That’s mainly because there weren’t any chances being created, but I suppose looking on the bright side at least our ratio of chances to goals was better on Saturday. Ahem. Wiekens was having another classy game. Edghill wasn’t playing as well as he had against Chesterfield the week before, when he and Bradbury were the best players on the pitch, but he wasn’t as bad as normal either. As we’d just about shaded the early part of the game it wasn’t really any surprise when Northampton took the lead. A free kick was given against Goater on the edge of their area – we reckon it was because he won a header, the ref was so shocked he decided Goater must have fouled the defender and gave the free kick. Northampton belted it forwards and into the area, Weaver elected to punch instead of try to catch, the rest of the defence stood and watched thinking “why didn’t he catch that?” and some Northampton bloke kicked the ball in the net. Oh dear. Goater apparently missed a chance immediately after that (I missed it because I’d gone to sample the delights of the pies, not bad either I have to admit) and as I got back to my seat, complete with pie, Dickov was brought on for Allsopp who’d been fairly anonymous during the first half. They announce the number of minutes of time to be added on over the tannoy, nice touch that, probably because if they’d held a board up in front of one of the stands no-one sitting in the rest of the ground would have been able to see it. The thirty or so people standing at the top of the bank behind the far goal were getting a good view of the game.

Half time: 1-0

It had been obvious to everyone watching that we were never going to score by kicking high balls into the area. Royle must have noticed this too and had a word, because the first 10 minutes of the second half were far better from City – especially Dickov and Bradbury. The first equaliser came when Bradbury set up Dickov who ran the ball into the penalty area and shot. The ‘keeper parried it away but Dickov followed up and made no mistake with the second attempt. At that point it was well deserved, Northampton are big but they aren’t renowned for playing intricate, passing football (hoof!) and couldn’t cope with City when we did. Sadly, as soon as we’d equalised we went back to the “punt it high up front and hope”. Dreadful. Still, we should have extended the lead as Goater and Pollock, who was fairly anonymous for most of the game, both should have done better with shots. Northampton regained the lead after another free kick – I couldn’t really see what happened as we didn’t have a good view of the other goal, didn’t even see the ball go in the net but I supposed it must have when the Northampton fans started shouting and singing. They announced the crowd at that point – 7,800, as a couple of blokes behind started singing “we’ve got more in the Junior Blues”. Northampton then really piled on the pressure. They had several corners, all of which we defended extremely badly, and a couple more dangerous free kicks which luckily we didn’t concede more goals from. The City fans were baying for Joe to bring Tiatto on – he could have taken off any of Edghill, Vaughan, Whitley, Horlock or Pollock and we really wouldn’t have noticed. Maybe not Horlock as then no-one would have taken our corners, but it wasn’t the best game our midfield’s played this season. Goater had a shot cleared off the line by a defender after the shot had beaten the ‘keeper. With four minutes left of normal time, Fenton (who’d had a knock earlier) was taken off and Tiatto brought on. “Huh” went the crowd, “what’s he expect him to do now?” Probably just what he did – go chasing up the left hand side, spray the ball over to Bradbury who laid it off for Goater who wellied home the equaliser. Via a defender’s boot, but who cares? Dickov was then replaced by Crooks, and City pushed forward again trying to get the winner but it wasn’t to be.

So, an away point – surely a good result? Well… yes… but this was the first game I’ve seen this season where we really didn’t deserve anything from the game. I didn’t think it was as bad a performance as against Notts County a couple of weeks ago but there weren’t too many plus points to take away. With the exception of the first 10 and last 5 minutes of the second half we didn’t really look as if we were trying. Joe can’t have watched the highlights of their game against West Ham or he would have seen how effectively they deal with high balls and how well they stifle midfield play. If we’d been able to play proper football against them for more than the 15 minutes in the second half when we scored the goals, we’d have murdered them. As it is, we seem unable to lift ourselves above teams who play this sort of negative football, with doesn’t bode well for the rest of the season. I still believe we’re a better team than any I’ve seen this in this division this season – and yes, that does include Fulham; apart from the 20 minutes after Peepo went off we were a match for them – but we’re not proving it to anyone else because we aren’t out-passing, out-maneuvering, out-thinking and out-playing the opposition. It’s all building up for a game when everything comes off and we win by about 15 goals (while of course still letting one in from a corner) – I can’t wait.

Sharon Bennett

MATCH REPORT – UNDER 19s

Being ticketless for the Nothampton game, I was resigned to a frustrating day trying to follow the lads on the Internet yet again. All was not lost however, when I had a call from a workmate early Saturday morning to tell me that Southampton under 19s were playing City under 19s at the Scummers’ training ground that morning. What the hell I thought, it would be good to see some of the youngsters with something to prove.

Not being sure of the time of kick-off we got there 5 minutes late in torrential rain to see the City nippers under the cosh early on against a Southampton side who were relying on their very quick attackers to chase through and score.

City’s defence were very well organised in the face of the early Saints attacking, and Lee Daly in goal for City was a revelation. This lad was superb. He pulled off some superb saves, including a world class point blank double save to keep City in the game, and then proved it wasn’t a fluke with another good save to push a screeching ball around the post.

The only goal of the game came late on in the first half, somewhat against the run of play when a Darren Garfield overhead kick from the edge of the box was flicked on by Jason Kneen(?) and was scooped over the goalkeeper by Leon Mike.

Lee Daly continued to have an impressive game with a couple of good saves including another superb one at the foot of the post.

The City youngsters then seemed to take control of the game in the second half and the defence looked strong and able to cope with anything that an increasingly desperate Southampton side tried to throw at them, and in the end came out comfortable winners.

Impressions from the game was that City have got some impressive youngsters; this was one of the new FA Premier Academy Under 19 League fixtures, and our youngsters did themselves proud. The coaching team seem to be doing a good job; unfortunately I was unable to find out the names of some of the nippers, but as a unit the defence was solid, the strikeforce knew which direction they were supposed to go in, and for me the goalie is one for the future. I only hope we can hang on to him.

For the record the Under 17s drew 1-1 with Southampton Under 17s at the same fixture, but I didn’t see the game.

Andy Stevenson – Winchester (andyctid@bigfoot.com)

MATCHVIEW – DERBY GAME

Just a few thoughts on the Derby game. I have read the match reports in Friday’s edition of MCIVTA and I am actually surprised that most fans were happy with the performance. After the good result at Derby I was looking forward to watching the Blues really go for it at home. However, my confidence took a nosedive when I heard the team. Wright – I would rather see Michael Brown (goalkeeper version) in goal, Edghill – quite simply one of the worst players that we have – lazy, cannot pass, cannot cross, the list gets longer; Horlock – the biggest waste of an attacking midfield of all time; Fenton – gets better every game – doesn’t panic; Wiekens – had probably his best match; Vaughan – looking a bit dodgy again; Mason – have you ever seen him make a tackle?; No bottle Pollock – drives the team; Goater – should be called Donkey; Whitley – unbelievable that he played in place of Dickov; Bradbury – showed Goater how to play up front.

My initial thoughts were how are we going to win midfield with only Pollock capable of making a challenge? Why not play Jeff Whitley in Edghill’s place? At least he can cross. As I expected, once I heard the team we were over-run in midfield. Mason should have been subbed after 15 minutes because of the way he pulls out of challenges (even 70-30 in his favour). Whitley did OK marking Baiano but surely at home you should let them worry about your players?

My team would have been:

                        Brown                                                                   
       Wiekens         Fenton       Vaughan
Jeff  W          Pollock         Brown        Horlock  
             Dickov                 Bradbury

We had nothing to lose so why not go for it? Royle is unhappy with the strikers; I bet they are fed up with the defensive nature of the team.

Goater reminds me of Rösler – a few goals but little effort and commitment; does he wear lead boots? He never gets off the ground for a header.

At least the defence looks right, Wiekens looks like a £10 million Dutch defender – more than Stam anyway.

I just hope that Bradbury keeps the backing of the crowd; if he keeps playing like he has in the last 2 games the goals will come.

CTIDHWMDAS (City Till I Die Happily Wearing My Dodgy Away Shirt), Glyn Owen (gtowen@globalnet.co.uk)

MATCHVIEW – DERBY PERSPECTIVE

From the Derby Mailing List:

MANCHESTER CITY 0-1 DERBY COUNTY (1-2 on aggregate)

It may not be the most popular competition in the country, but for teams like Derby County, the Worthington League Cup offers a day out at Wembley and a chance to win some silverware that may normally be out of their grasp. Jim Smith himself said that the Rams were taking this competition seriously, but they needed to at least score in this game to progress even past the Second Round. In the end, the deadlock was broken by a glorious strike from the unpredictable Paulo Wanchope midway through the first half. This paved the way through for a confident Rams, although the second half was a much closer affair than the first period. Spencer Prior and Jacob Laursen were magnificent at the back, and both Italians had their old sparkle back in the midfield to give Smith a selection headache for the top of the table clash at Villa Park on Saturday. By 9:45 tonight, the Rams were still unbeaten this season, in the third round of the League Cup and in second spot in the League. Does it get much better?

Derby made changes from the side that beat Leicester City at the weekend, as Jim Smith made both forced and unforced team adjustments. Mart Poom returned in Russell Hoult’s place in goal. Igor Stimac, so influential at the back this season, was ruled with a hamstring injury sustained in the same game, and Rory Delap moved into the back three in his place. Spencer Prior captained the side for the first time since his move to Pride Park, and Robbie Kozluk took Delap’s place at right wing back. Lars Bohinen and Lee Carsley were rested in midfield, as Stefano Eranio partnered Darryl Powell in that area. The three man strike force was employed, as Francesco Baiano returned up front. City were without injured Nicky Weaver, but were able to play Jamie Pollock, whose sending off in the first leg leaves him suspended from Saturday onwards.

Derby started the game very well, and indeed controlled the whole half, looking a much better side from the first leg, and working the ball very well. It took the Rams 12 minutes to register their first effort on goal as Wanchope turned Eranio’s cross way over the bar with a near post header. This was the first of many Wanchope efforts in a wonderful half, and one which culminated in a sensational goal scored after 28 minutes. Delap played a 35 yard ball to the lanky striker, who controlled the ball out on the wing. Twisting, turning and tumbling his way past three City defenders, he pushed the ball into space, and raced to beat Kevin Horlock to the ball. Reaching it first, the Costa Rican hit a cross-cum shot that sailed high past the stranded Wright and in off his far right post. A goal second only to his début effort at Old Trafford, and one which put Derby into a much deserved lead.

City had litle to offer in return, their best chance coming from the hand of striker Shaun Goater, who beat the onrushing Poom to a through ball before knocking it past him with his hand. The referee was not impressed, and a yellow card was his reward for his troubles. For Derby, however, the Italians were working their old magic, their wonderful understanding and lightning interchanges harking back to last season’s efforts, and giving Smith thoughts about team selection at the weekend. Indeed, Baiano could have doubled the lead in the 40th minute, as he capitalised on a stranded ‘keeper to attempt a lob. Only a flying tip over from Wright prevented another stunning Derby goal, and the home side had been let off again. City were not really in the game, but they could have equalised on the stroke of halftime as Poom misjudged a Horlock cross and had to turn it onto the post with a flying save.

The home side started the second half in a much better vein, passing the ball with more accuracy and looking much more fresh all over the park. Derby never really looked in danger though, and they had their share of chances to clinch the game and the tie. Sturridge was presented with a tricky opportunity on 51, as he was played clear of the defence, but faced with the onrushing Tommy Wright. The pacy striker managed to nudge the ball past the goalkeeper, was played out wide and kept at bay by the returning defence. From the resultant corner, Delap thundered a goalworthy header just wide of the near post. Two minutes later, Kozluk got in on the act, drilling a cross shot from the right and producing a good save from Wright.

The Rams were just starting to rock as they did at Pride Park, and they were letting City back into the game. Lee Bradbury could have put his side right back in contention on 58, as he firmly hit the base of Poom’s post after a lovely City build up move. Horlock also came close soon after as he worried Poom with a piledriver from 25 yards. Goater and Bradbury again also had half chances, but the Rams played out the final quarter in comfort and were well worth their victory and their place in the next round.

Simon Justice; Submitted by Steve Maclean (stevemaclean@email.msn.com)

NEWS – TICKET MAILING LIST

I wanted to let everyone else know, by way of the list – that the club now offer a free mailing list. Specifically, the list will be used to publicise important ticket / match information. e.g.: games being called off, postponed (Preston *cough*) etc. – there is also some debate at the moment about whether or not the standard match ticket info will be distributed thru the list. Details of how to subscribe can be found on the ticket info pages on the website – <http://www.mcfc.co.uk/>

Jenny Cunningham, MCFC Ticket Office

NEWS SUMMARY

Boss out for a month

Joe Royle has been hit by a major injury blow, not to one of his players, but to the City boss himself! Royle is due to go into hospital a little later this week to undergo a hip replacement operation, which will keep the 49 year old City boss away from his desk at Maine Road for around a month. In his absence, Royle’s assistant Willie Donachie will take charge of training and selecting the first team, while Jim Cassell will be in control of transfer matters. Royle has said that he has every confidence in his backroom staff to run things smoothly during his stay in hospital. The operation is a legacy from his playing days, with Royle estimating that he’ll be in hospital for three weeks, but remaining in very close contact with affairs at the club.

Bug in City camp

City are hoping a mystery virus clears up in time for tomorrow’s re-arranged League game against Millwall at the New Den. Jim Whitley, Richard Edghill and Tony Vaughan have all been struck by the bug which laid low midfielder Michael Brown a week ago. Even Joe Royle has been under the weather and physio Roy Bailey was handing out the medicine today to ensure the virus does not spread. Jamie Pollock will play his last game at Millwall before he serves a four-match suspension. Gary Mason missed the Northampton game with the after-effects of an ankle injury, and he could be forced to miss out again. Paul Dickov misses the game at the New Den with a knee injury picked up at Northampton. Richard Edghill played at left wing back at the weekend but will probably switch back to the right tomorrow, if he’s well enough. He was detailed to man mark the home side’s highly-rated wing back Alistair Gibb on Saturday. Nicky Weaver returned to action – none too convincingly – at the weekend, while Danny Allsopp may revert to the bench tomorrow night in Paul Dickov’s absence so that City can call on the Australian should either Shaun Goater or Lee Bradbury pick up an injury during the game. Millwall are unbeaten at home this season, winning three out of four games.

Wiekens for Holland?

Gerard Wiekens is earning such rave reviews from his manager that he is now being recommended for full international honours with Holland. Joe Royle spoke highly of his classy centre back after the 2-2 draw with Northampton Town on Saturday. “Gerard is in imperious form this season and I think it’s time the Dutch national boss Frank Rijkaard took a look at him. Gerard has found his true position in the heart of defence and he could play that rôle for his country as well,” said Royle. Wiekens, who has represented his country at under 21 level, has been City’s outstanding performer this season and earned a great deal of praise for his ability to handle Derby’s highly-rated striker Paulo Wanchope in the Worthington Cup tie last week. Earlier this month, Royle also predicted that it wasn’t too late for Jamie Pollock to make the full England squad.

Striker injury blow

Paul Dickov will be out of action for between two and three weeks after suffering a knee injury in Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Northampton at the Sixfields Stadium. The 25 year old Dickov scored his fifth goal of the season at the weekend after replacing Danny Allsopp in the first half, the Scottish striker has begun City’s last two games on the bench, having started the previous eleven. The question is, will Dickov’s impending absence from first team action prompt Joe Royle into bringing in a new striker on loan?

Kinky return?

Reports are suggesting former City favourite Gio Kinkladze could be set for a return to English football just three months after leaving Maine Road. The Georgian ace is said to be unhappy with life at Ajax after he was played as a left winger in the early part of the Dutch season and recently dropped for a league game. Kinky’s love of fast cars also appears to be a factor in his desire to return to his adopted home country. Since being fined and banned from driving following an alleged race with former team-mate Nicky Summerbee the diminutive Georgian has acquired a Jaguar XK8, yet despite his driving ban not applying in Holland it seems Ajax have insisted he drive a less glamorous sponsored car. City do have first option on Kinkladze as part of the £5 million deal that saw him leave Maine Road, but with the policy of down-sizing still ongoing at the club it would seem a return to Manchester – at this stage – is simply not an option. Even the possibility of a loan deal would appear doubtful considering the wages the player would command as well as the “war of words” between him and Joe Royle during the close season. It is understood the player’s agents will be contacting clubs over the next week in a bid to return Kinky to the Premiership stage, with long-time admirers Everton said to be ready to resume their interest.

Swap deal back on?

Following rumours in recent weeks of a proposed swap deal involving City midfielder Michael Brown and Sheffield United’s Graeme Stuart, it seems a new player exchange deal could be in the offing. It is understood United boss Steve Bruce is interested in one of City’s ‘forgotten men’, striker Craig Russell. Russell, who arrived at Maine Road in a swap-deal which saw Nicky Summerbee go to Sunderland, has not had the best of times at Maine Road, and also had an unsuccessful loan spell at Tranmere. However, the frontman has been impressing recently in the reserves, which has alerted Bruce’s interest. Joe Royle is a known admirer of former Chelsea man Stuart who he took to Everton during his time in charge at Goodison, and with Joe admitting there are no funds available for strengthening a swap deal could be the on the cards.

Striker goes home

Another of City’s ‘forgotten men’, striker Gerry Creaney, has returned to his native Scotland and is currently training with St. Mirren. Following an unsuccessful loan spell at West Bromwich Albion, the former Celtic and Portsmouth man – released from his Maine Road contract at the end of last season – is available on a free transfer.

Never go back!

City are being linked with a shock move for their former striker Mike Sheron, currently having an awful time at QPR. Joe Royle is rumoured to be contemplating a loan move for Sheron, who played for Norwich and Stoke after leaving City when Brian Horton was City boss. Royle has complained about the finishing of his strikers so far this season, and with funds in short supply, a loan move could be a way round both problems, if any link between City and their former striker exists in the first place. Sheron scored 28 goals in 119 appearances in all competitions for City between 1991 and 1994 before Horton sold him to Norwich, where he managed only two goals in 28 league appearances. He went to Stoke, and in two seasons, he scored 34 goals in 69 league appearances, including netting in a club record eight consecutive matches. Last summer, Sheron joined QPR for £2.5 million, but despite scoring eleven goals – including a very important one at Maine Road – he’s out of favour at the moment after an awful start to the campaign by Ray Harford’s side. He would reportedly jump at the chance of a return to City, albeit on loan, with the Blues in no position to meet whatever fee QPR want for the striker.

Roger Lee (HertsBlue@notify.co.uk)

DIRECTIONS TO MILLWALL

If you must insist on travelling by car to London then this is the way to go…

From the North;

Leave the M1 at Junction1, follow the A5 Edgeware Road to Marble Arch. Take the A202 to and over Vauxhall Bridge, follow signs to the Elephant & Castle. Follow signs for A2 into the Old Kent Road, then turn left into Ilderton Road at traffic lights. The New Den is on Zampa Road which is the eighth turning on the right.

Alternatively from the North or South;

Join the M25 and leave at J2, join the A2 and follow signs to New Cross. Turn right into Ilderton Road at traffic lights. The New Den is on Zampa Road which is the eighth turning on the right.

However, we all know how bad London traffic is in the evening rush hour so it would be far preferable to find a suitable tube station to park at and complete the journey courtesy of London Transport/British Rail. If you prefer to do this then find your way on the tube to London Bridge and take the first train to New Cross Gate.

P.S. these directions are all off Internet sites so I cannot be held responsible for their accuracy. If, however, anyone has any local knowledge of short cuts, quiet routes or best places for parking then let me know at the above address and I shall incorporate them into the directions.

Jag (j_gill@bigfoot.com)

THE ACCOUNTS

MCFC Report & Accounts 1998

I have recently received a copy of the 1998 accounts for the club’s holding company (Manchester City plc). I know that a few comments were made in the news summary in MCIVTA 435, but thought I might give a fuller picture of the details.

Key financial facts:

  1. Loss for the year of £6.3m
  2. Turnover up 20% to £15.3m
  3. Provision for “downsizing” the squad following relegation £2.3m
  4. Interest charges on monies owed £1.1m
  5. Net transfer fees payable £1.9m (£7.8m paid and £5.9m receive)
  6. £3.3m outstanding Directors loans from John Wardle
  7. Mike Turner earns £90,000 p.a. (plus c. £9k benefits in kind), but refusedhis bonus entitlement due to the club’s poor performance
  8. No other Directors take any personal salaries or payments of any kind
  9. Total staff reduced from 160 to 141
  10. Total wages and salaries (players and all other staff) increased from £7.2m (1997) to £8.7m (1998)
  11. The company have £22m of previous losses available to be carriedforward to off-set against future Corporation Tax
  12. The company had a bank overdraft of £3.2m as at 31 May, 1998
  13. Total borrowings outstanding as at 31 May, 1998 were £13m
  14. A liability for future “loyalty” bonuses for players of £1.4m has not been included in the accounts
  15. Liability for further transfer fees of £0.7m which become due whencertain players pass appearance “milestone” have not been included in theaccounts

I think that it is clear from these basic facts that the company are pretty much totally skint. There is a proposal to be voted on at the AGM (16 October) allowing them to issue further shares to raise some cash. I will be attending the AGM and will post a brief report on the meeting, which is sure to be entertaining.

On the playing side, I saw the Derby game on Wednesday night and was reasonably encouraged by what I saw. City did not actually play very well, but still bettered Derby’s game, and were desperately unlucky not to win – two goals were dis-allowed (the first was given by the Ref, but dis-allowed by the linesman), we hit the post, had a few other good chances and defended well (Wiekens was outstanding).

Joel Adams (joel@ppfs.co.uk)

SCREENSAVER ADVICE

A good way of changing screensavers for your choice under Windows95 is to download the Lana Cox or Bart Simson wallpapers off Sikpupi’s site, go to your display properties, under screensaver change to 3D Flying Images, Properties, change texture, select the bitmap and then wayhey a City screensaver and wallpaper all in one.

Sikpupi’s site <http://www.sikpupi.demon.co.uk/>

Geordie Blue (Barry_Thompson@Hammerite.com)

SCREENSAVER – HELP

Couple of quick comments. I can’t reach the guy with the SpottyWarts (or something like that) screensaver so would appreciate it being sent. Also want to echo Paul’s comments about overall team speed. It is a general rule in any sport that speed kills. Michael Owen is an average goal scorer (in terms of poaching skill), but combined with awesome speed makes him nigh on unstoppable. While there is always a place for sublime skill, a team full of average players with blinding speed will dominate everyone they play, especially at the 2nd Division level. Which begs the question why was Tiatto on the bench against Derby when his speed would have been most useful?

Wallace Poulter (poulter@agames.com)

MURDOCH CARTOON STRIP

There was a great cartoon strip in Private Eye, on Friday 18th September, about Murdoch’s takeover of Man Ure. Unfortunately it’s not on the Eye’s Web site and Ashley tells me it’s too big to deliver in the newsletter. However, if you want a GIF or JPEG copy of it, send me an E-mail and I’ll send it you by reply.

Richard Mottershead (FamilyMottershead@compuserve.com)

OPINION – NORWEGIAN INTEREST

I read with some intrepidation the article that City once again may be taken over by some well-financed company (how many times have we seen this one?). Great I thought, another outside agency who wants to get in on the act and try to bring our beloved club down with the promises of lots of money then nothing emerging!

Then to my horrors of horrors, I read on and saw that they reportedly want to merge us with the wombles… my first thought was this is another paper taking the p**s out of us again but as it was a Norwegian one, why would they (or are we just an International laughing stock now?)? This must not happen – no way – we are City through all the s**t and p**s we endure… we are not some tennis playing, litter picking, southern scum!

By all means Kjell Inge Røkke give us the dosh, but merge, uh huh I don’t think so!

CTIDOBAW (City till I die or become a womble), Herbie (herbiemib@cytanet.com.cy)

OPINION – MERGER I

I read in the News Summary (MCIVTA 435) a story that a Norweigan Blue wants to buy City and transpose them with Wimbledon. If this story is not fiction, then I refer you to an article I had published in your esteemed organ several months ago in which I suggested this very move. The only problem is: Pythons will remember that the ‘Norweigan Blue’ was the ex-parrot of The Parrot Shop Sketch fame… you know, “this parrot wouldn’t vooom if you put 4 million volts thru it, it’s a stiff, ceased to be, run down the curtain and gone to join the Choir Invisibule, lives no more it lies in peace, etc.”

On the other hand, would a dead bird, if made Chairman, make less mistakes than many of its predecessors?

Ctidatadmtaeg (City ’til I die and they are driving me to an early grave), Simon Fink (simon.fink@virgin.net)

OPINION – MERGER II

I guess everyone now knows about the rumoured Wimbledon/City merger. Although it is likely that these rumours are without foundation, I think we should consider the implications of such a merger. If the rumours are shown to have some foundation, I think we, as fans, should oppose such a move. What Manchester City needs more than anything is stability; we now have that with Bernstein as Chairman and Royle as Manager. If we did merge, it would mean major changes to the managerial staff and players. I believe Joe and Willie are doing a fine job; they have cut the playing staff, brought on young players, and made a couple of good purchases. The team is no longer the pushover it was under Ball and, more recently, Clark. Although an instant return to the Premier League may seem attractive, we need to consider other changes which may be made following a prospective takeover. Would the club name be changed? Will they change the club colours and/or badge? Would we still be able to move to the new stadium? These may appear trivial points, but the name and our colours are part of the fabric of the club – it’s our history. Personally, I would prefer the club to remain stable both on and off the field. We need to give Joe and Willie 4-5 years to build the club up, and return us to the Premier League. We don’t need a quick fix, and we don’t need Joe Kinnear. I’m also excited about the young players at the club. Would these players be retained under a new management team? It would be a shame to lose players like Weaver and Fenton; two players who I believe will go on to play for England. I realise that I may be worrying for nothing, but we have to consider this rumour as a potential threat to the future of the club as we know it.

Finally, I was pleased to see Mike Sheron has been linked wih a possible loan move to City from QPR. We should never have sold him in the first place! I know he hasn’t been scoring for QPR, but I think this may be because he is unhappy in London. A happy Sheron will score a lot of goals.

Charles Pollitt (cpollitt@fs1.scg.man.ac.uk)

OPINION – PAY-PER-VIEW

Did I see that someone was happy to start paying good money to see games on Satellite? I don’t think it’s as easy as putting up a dish. No way!

How much will it cost per match? £10-£15 probably. And for what?

Pure drivel for Man CIty games. I’m a City supporter thru and thru but there no way I will pay that kind of money to sit at home with a can in my hand and watch City lose to Grimbsy!

Getting it free now on Sky Sports is even hard work to watch.

Anyway – no one should encourage Pay Per View. This is the beginning of the end and the rip-offs will get worst every year everyone gets rich from yours and my pocket. Just because Man U fans sold their souls to Sky… We all know that they’re all rich kids whose daddies can afford to pay these charges as well as the 10 kits a year they need.

So – forget it Mate and keep your money for the kids’ education!

FUHAMU (Fed Up Hearing About … that lot – you know who I mean), Basil Sheerin (basil@iol.ie)

OPINION – PAY-PER-VIEW

I’m glad someone looks forward to pay per view. I am more than aware of the near impossibility of getting tickets for some of these grounds. However, you may have missed the fact that you’re already paying twenty odd quid a month at the moment for your dish and sport channels. Plus the extra fiver or so for the game that would probably have been on Sky anyway if nobody had thought up the concept of pay per view. Also don’t forget, every penny you give to Sky might be going to the company that owns Man United!

On the plus side if everybody stays at home watching Sky, I could end up getting paid to go to matches to provide an atmosphere for all the couch potatoes.

Yes I am biased.

Jim Sim (jim.simmons@bbc.co.uk)

OPINION – UNDEFEATED AT HOME IS GOOD ENOUGH?

Ernie Barrow says that to be undefeated at home will not be enough for the promotion. Why not? Look at Macclesfield Town last season. They were the only team in Europe (I think) to be undefeated at home in the League, they had a poor away record and finished second, several points clear of third. That said, they only drew 4 at home. Also, how long is it going to be before they have a good day to counteract the bad ones that Royle keeps saying that we have. Surely when this happens we could be in for another Huddersfield?

Tommy Rance (Ttrance@AOL.COM)

OPINION – WOMBLES

I would rather be a City Womble than a Juventus farm team. If what happens is as reported by Sean Cable & Harald Larsen, it might be good for City, but would it ever get the F.A. approval? How would other City fans react to such a deal? As a long time City fan, I do think the present team will get us back to Division 1, after that it’s hard to predict. City do not have the cash to go the distance in today’s competitive game, Kjell Inge Rokke in Norway certainly looks a good candidate whatever happens. Good Luck!

Ernie Barrow CTID – and maybe a City Womble too (EB2205@aol.com)

OPINION – ENCOURAGED

Well, by all accounts we’re not playing well. We’re not scoring that regularly though we are creating chances. Admittedly things don’t look brilliant for an early return even to Division 1.

Realism may not be your average commodity amongst fans but it’s something we need to grow, of all clubs. Given all the upheaval and turmoil over the last 15-20 years of which there is yet more to come this season, I would be amazed if we were waltzing through every game.

Even though JR and Bernstein are at last getting rid of the brushwood (and if anyone didn’t think we are still in the mire, look at last week’s financial report), that in itself can’t be instilling confidence to the players. You wouldn’t at your office or factory if redundancies were in the offing. Perhaps we still need to shed at least 5-6 players just to balance the books in the long term and let’s forget any idea of big money signings for the next couple of seasons.

There is room to be positive though, the first of which shows how deep our mire has been. The most important thing this season appears to be achieved after only seven games. We might not be at the top of the table, but unlike every season since Reid left, we’re not in the bottom half and we’re not in freefall. The second is that we amazingly are even in play-off contention this early in the season. The third is we are playing poorly yet bar Fulham, no-one has outplayed us and I think, no-one has beaten us in the league.

I predicted to a good mate of mine, who happens to be a Fulham fan who agreed, that the best we can expect is a play-off. What is excellent news is that we’re in contention for that from the word go. If we’re still in that position or better around Christmas time, I would hope things should be gelling nicely for the big push for automatic promotion.

Chris Egerton (chris_egerton@newton.co.uk)

OPINION – NO EASY WAY OUT…

So a Norwegian buyout might mean that “Man City” will go straight back to the Premier. Somehow it just doesn’t sit right. I want my team to have earned their place at the top, no matter how painful watching them try to get there is!

Trying to get there by drawing away to Northampton however, is not really what I had in mind. We are fast losing ground, and from a couple of seasons ago, we know what damage a bad start can do. We do need a striker who is going to score a good proportion of his chances.

Come on Joe – good so far, but now it’s time to start winning!

Burnham Blue, Peter Johnson (pierrejj@aol.com)

RESULTS

Second Division Table

Up to and including Saturday, September 26 1998

                                HOME            AWAY
                          P  W  D  L  F  A   W  D  L  F  A   Pts   GS
 Stoke City              10  4  0  1  8  3   4  0  1  9  5    24   17
 Preston North End       10  3  1  1 13  5   3  2  0  9  6    21   22
 --------------------------------------------------------------------
 Blackpool               10  4  1  0  9  3   2  1  2  6  9    20   15
 Bournemouth             10  4  1  0  9  1   2  1  2  5  5    20   14
 Walsall                  9  2  1  1  8  6   4  0  1  6  4    19   14
 Fulham                   9  2  2  0  7  3   3  1  1  5  3    18   12
 --------------------------------------------------------------------
 Luton Town              10  3  1  1  6  2   2  1  2  5  6    17   11
 Manchester City          9  3  2  0  9  3   1  2  1  4  6    16   13
 York City                9  2  2  1  7  4   2  1  1  7  8    15   14
 Colchester United       10  2  1  2  4  4   2  2  1  8  7    15   12
 Notts County            10  2  1  2  6  5   2  1  2  7  6    14   13
 Chesterfield            10  4  0  1  5  2   0  2  3  1  6    14    6
 Bristol Rovers          10  3  2  0 12  5   0  2  3  2  6    13   14
 Millwall                 9  3  1  0  6  2   1  0  4  3  9    13    9
 Wrexham                 10  3  1  2  9  7   0  2  2  2  7    12   11
 Gillingham              10  2  1  2  8  5   0  4  1  5  6    11   13
 Wigan Athletic          10  2  1  2  7  5   1  1  3  4  6    11   11
 Burnley                 10  2  2  1  6  5   0  1  4  3  8     9    9
 Northampton Town        10  0  4  1  5  7   1  1  3  5  7     8   10
 Oldham Athletic         10  1  1  3  5  7   1  1  3  4  9     8    9
 --------------------------------------------------------------------
 Macclesfield Town       10  1  1  3  2  4   1  1  3  3  7     8    5
 Reading                  8  1  2  0  5  2   0  0  5  2 14     5    7
 Lincoln City            10  1  0  4  7 11   0  2  3  0  7     5    7
 Wycombe Wanderers        9  0  1  4  2  7   0  1  3  3  8     2    5

Second Division Results

Saturday, September 26 1998

Bournemouth             2-0     Oldham Athletic
Robinson (6)
Stein (49)
Burnley                 1-1     Wigan Athletic
Reid (67)                       McGibbon (90)
Chesterfield            2-1     Wrexham
Howard (8, 17)                  Skinner (90)
Colchester United       2-1     Wycombe Wanderers
Forbes (65)                     Stallard (60)
Gregory, D (pen 90)
Lincoln City            1-2     Fulham
Whitney (74)                    Beardsley (47, 64)
Luton Town              0-1     Walsall
                                Rammell (87)
Macclesfield Town       2-1     Reading
Holt (25)                       Williams (pen 60)
Askey (77)
Northampton Town        2-2     Manchester City
Peer (30)                       Dickov (54)
Corazzin (64)                   Goater (88)
Notts County            3-1     Millwall
Murray (5)                      Neill (2)
Hendon (pen 9)
Jones, G (74)
Preston North End       1-1     Gillingham
Harris (74)                     Asaba (71)
Stoke City              1-3     Blackpool
Crowe (pen 69)                  Carlisle (6)
                                Aldridge (35, 84)
York City               1-0     Bristol Rovers
Tolson (51)

Second Division Top Scorers

Up to and including Saturday, September 26 1998

                                     FA   Lge
                                Lge  Cup  Cup  Euro   Other  Total
Hayles (Bristol Rovers)          7    0    1     0      0      8
Goater (Man City)                6    0    2     0      0      8
Barlow (Wigan)                   6    0    1     0      0      7
Rammell (Walsall)                6    0    1     0      0      7
Stein (Bournemouth)              3    0    4     0      0      7
Crowe (Stoke)                    6    0    0     0      0      6
Payton (Burnley)                 5    0    1     0      0      6
Cresswell (York)                 5    0    0     0      0      5
Nogan (Preston)                  5    0    0     0      0      5
Davis (Luton)                    4    0    1     0      0      5
Kavanagh (Stoke)                 4    0    1     0      0      5
Aldridge (Blackpool)             3    0    2     0      0      5
Dickov (Man City)                3    0    2     0      0      5
Corazzin (Northampton)           4    0    0     0      0      4

Dorien James (ros_james@compuserve.com) & Patrick Alexander (Patrick@jazzcomputers.demon.co.uk)
With thanks to Soccernet

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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 #436

1998/09/28

Editor:


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