Newsletter #452

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More of the same… City dominate the game but fail to make their superiority tell. In contrast to others’ opinions in this issue, I actually thought that the atmosphere was a lot better than of late, almost certainly due to the presence of a massive 3,000 Gillingham supporters (probably more than their average home gate) and the TG2ers above us! Take home messages are that we should forget Branch, he’s too lightweight for this division and was constantly bundled off the ball without the referee seeing fit to intervene. Mason and Bishop are too similar and also too lightweight to play together when the opponents’ midfield is a veritable cornucopia of testosterone and muscle(!). We also need a left back and a right back; I’ve been back 3 years and the only one I’ve seen is Briscoe and he was only on loan!

Howard McCarthy apologised in advance for the lack of news – some weak excuse about alcohol consumption and TG2 and a prolonged recovery period – age related no doubt! The main news is that City are stll pursuing Hignett, Barnsley have not (yet at least) concluded a deal. City’s chief executive (Mike Turner) has resigned, and will not be replaced – the chairman will take a more hands on approach instead.

There’s also plenty of opinion and requests.

Next game, Luton Town away, Saturday 28th November 1998

MATCH REPORT – ‘LIVE’ I

MANCHESTER CITY vs. GILLINGHAM, 21st November 1998

TG was great, why do City always have to try to spoil things just when you’re enjoying yourself? Having not quite recovered from the post-Friday night hangover I had to forgo the usual pre-match pint and settle for a coffee – only because I was cold, honest, not because I couldn’t take any more beer. This at least meant I made it to my seat before the team announcement instead of missing kick off because the Kippax bar was still open. Horlock and Edghill were both suspended so Crooks dropped back to right back and Mason and Bishop both played in midfield, where they were joined by a not-quite-fit-and-looking-a-bit-porky-again Jamie Pollock. Russell kept his place up front after his performance against the mighty Halifax the week before. Full line up was Weaver, Vaughan, Wiekens, Morrison, Crooks, Mason, Pollock, Bishop, Goater, Branch and Russell. On the bench were Dickov, Brown and Tiatto.

City’s best early chance came from Shaun Goater, who had by far his best game for us. A hopeful (surely not?) ball forward was chased by Goater, he then rounded the ‘keeper (yes, that Goater, not a different, speedy one) and shot from an impossibly narrow angle. Ooh, ooh, is it in, oh no it’s hit the post aargh oh well can’t be long before we score a bucketful.

Gillingham had obviously come to defend and did it well, every member of their midfield and defence looked at least 7 feet tall. I often get this feeling watching City – surely, with the exception of Dickov, most of the team must be over 6 foot? Why then do we always look so small? Their forwards, Asaba and some other ex-Brentford player whose name I’ve completely forgotten, looked threatening in patches but Wiekens and Morrison dealt with everything as competently as ever. I’m still waiting for Morrison to drop to the level all our other players who made promising débuts soon fell back to, but there’s no sign of it yet. I only remember him making one mistake in the first half, when he let a high ball bounce instead of clearing it straight away, but he still made it difficult for the Gills’ striker to get a shot on target and there was no danger of a goal coming from it. He also managed to take two of their players out of the game completely when they had to be subbed – fair (if hard) tackles both times, at least when he gets stuck in he does it accurately. Branch ran forwards a lot and won a couple of corners for us early on but looks too lightweight to make it in this division. Although it’s nice having some speed up front for once I wouldn’t be too bothered to see him go back to Everton – all defenders have to do is bump into him gently and he gets knocked off the ball. Our corners were still rubbish in the first half, don’t know what they’d been practicing on set pieces but it obviously wasn’t that.

The ref was letting some really clumsy challenges from both sides go unpunished and Gillingham can count themselves lucky not to have had anyone booked in the first half. We won a free kick about 10 yards outside the area when Goater, who was on a run at goal (yes, the same Goater) was scythed down from behind. Surely at least a booking? Nah. Nothing came of the free kick as it was hit straight at the ‘keeper, which seemed to be a bit of a pattern to all our shots. It wasn’t a particularly eventful first half but as we’d had far more of the possession and the only decent scoring chance it was a bit disappointing to hear the team get booed off at half time. I suppose at least the crowd were making some noise. I’d hoped that with a high turn out of Gillingham fans (they filled their North Stand seats and had quite a few in the tinpot stand in the corner) there might be more atmosphere than normal, but nope. More coffee at half time (I was cold) and we just knew we’d storm the second half. Mason and Bishop had both been anonymous during the first half, not helped by the fact that they aren’t easy to tell apart at a distance but we could have only been playing with one of them and I don’t think we’d have noticed any difference.

City did start the second half as if they’d had a rocket shoved up their bums as they attacked in numbers time and again. Goater was still chasing lost causes and Russell was making some good runs down the left – all too often though when he got his cross over Goater was on his own in the box with 4 or 5 defenders, he was playing well but I don’t think he’s capable of fighting off that much competition for the ball. Pollock was replaced by Brown after about 5 minutes and waddled back over to the bench – how can he have put on so much weight again in only 4 weeks? Dickov came on for Branch and carried on where Andy Morrison had left off, taking out another two of their players in record time. They did dive though, more time wasting tactics but as the ref was still refusing to book anyone they got away with it. About half way through the second half Mason was guilty of the worst miss of the game – he ran well onto a through ball from midfield but with only the ‘keeper to beat he shot wide to the right. It was turning into one of those days, but we still had all the play, all the possession and a blind and naïve belief that there could only be one winner. I lost count of how many corners we won early in the second half – these were at least better than what had been tried in the first half as Russell and Bishop worked a series of neat short corners followed by good crosses in from Russell. From one of these Goater had another chance that, had it been against us, would have gone in – this time the defender on the post turned the ball out for another corner. Just after that the ‘keeper came to catch the ball and fell awkwardly, spilling it on the floor. Goater just didn’t quite have time to turn and try to get the ball off him although even if he had he probably would have been penalised for making the ‘keeper fall in the first place.

Vaughan got a ridiculous amount of abuse after mis-hitting a shot from the left. OK, it did go about 60 feet in the air, but I don’t think starting a chant of “Vaughan is a wa**er” is going to help. By all means have a go after the game, but not during – how many times has this been said before? At least it was good to see how many people stood up for him when the boos and chants started – a couple of minutes after that he got a standing ovation (from our part of the crowd anyway) when he controlled the ball really well on the half way line and skipped past two defenders before a third managed to come across and clear it.

That was about it. Their number 10 was booked (at last) for about the 10th bad tackle he did in the second half. I don’t remember Weaver having to make a save after half time, but on reflection we didn’t look as if we knew how to win. We see far too many well organised defences like this come to Maine Road for a draw and we never fail to disappoint them. Our defence was steady and didn’t make a mistake, Brownie when he came on played well and helped out all over the pitch, our forwards ran well and got into some good attacking positions, we must have had 70% of the posession – but we still couldn’t score. At the start of the season we were creating tons of chances and Goater was missing them – he’d score far more now, the way he’s played in the last couple of games, but the chances aren’t there any more. When faced with a defence like that we’re completely clueless – there isn’t anyone who’s capable of that little bit of magic that can split defences and lead to spectacular goals. Or indeed goals at all. It’s getting more and more frustrating every game and Stoke are looking a long, long way ahead…

Final score: 0-0

Good to meet lots more people though at the TG, thanks to Bob and Clive for doing such a good job, and it’s true (sorry David) – Cheadle Blue really is the spitting image of Jamie Pollock!

Sharon Bennett

MATCH REPORT – ‘LIVE’ II

MANCHESTER CITY vs. GILLINGHAM, 21st November 1998

Well I suppose this game was a little special, certainly not because of the prospect of playing a side nicknamed ‘The Gills’ who despite the slightly silly nickname are above us in the league. No it was a little special because some rather special fans who had travelled great distances to be there, boosted the crowd. These included my brother Paul and his good friend Kimihiro who had flown in from Japan for the game (and TG2) on Friday morning, drank much more than my mum and dad would have thought sensible throughout Friday and Saturday and still made it to the match.

And were they rewarded for their long haul? In a word no. This really was another game where we had the best of the play, dominated most of the game but just didn’t have the killer touch in front of goal.

The game started off with faint reminders of how things could be. The Gills seemed to be wearing a kit very like that of AC Milan but the similarities to the dizzy heights of European football ended there.

The other interesting feature was the introduction of the yellow and black ball, and it did look rather nice.

City made a lively start, Pollock making his return and wearing the captain’s armband looked lively and ‘up for it’. Weaver, confident as ever, was called on to collect an easy shot as early as the fourth minute. His goalkeeping skills were never going to be tested anything like the Gills’ ‘keeper who like many of his peers who have stood in front of the net at Maine Road this season was to have a great game and make some very good saves.

Six minutes in and Bishop beat a couple of players only to shoot wide and to the left, already we could see that most of The Gills’ play was down the right hand side, leaving acres of space on the City left. Unfortunately Tony Vaughan was to have a poor game and never capitalised on the space available.

An early break saw Goater fire across goal from a difficult angle on the left (kicking towards the North Stand) only to see the ball clear everything except the far post which it hit, bounced back into play only to be cleared by the Gillingham defence.

Branch was able to show his speed and pace within the first 15 minutes as he accelerated away past the Gillingham midfield. The run came to nothing, but was quickly followed by a superb ball from Pollock to Goater (who I thought had a decent game), who headed on only for the ‘keeper to save.

After 20 minutes we had seen nothing from Gillingham to worry us but did have to listen to a rather bizarre question from the couple of thousand travelling Gillingham supporters who asked in unison ‘where are City in the League?’ I suppose it hadn’t occurred to them to look at page 46 of the match programme!

Wiekens looked assured and confident and I think we should be worried that he is not lured away by a better club than ours. I think he is one of the few players (only?) who could step up a league or two and not look out of place. He really is good and seems to be developing a great understanding with Weaver.

Although Gillingham’s 4-3-3 play continued to be ineffective I just knew we would go in at half time without having established a lead. It’s just so difficult sometimes to see where a goal will come from. We continued to be frustrated by the amount of space on the City left that just went unused.

As half time approached Mason played a good ball into Goater who again headed towards goal only to see the ‘keeper save.

Half time came and went, the weather in Manchester was really cold and there was little on the pitch to keep us warm. Brown replaced Pollock early in the second half with Dickov replacing Branch. I think Dickov looked a little poor in this game. He seemed to be playing everything much too fast instead of taking time to think of his next move. There was a great spell from City when we had three corners on the run, with plenty of action in The Gills’ box but, as ever we just couldn’t kill it off.

We kept the pressure up for some time in the second half, Goater had a few chances that came to nothing but it was Mason who looked to have the very best chance only to send it upwards and high above the Gillingham bar.

It was well into the second half when the travelling away supporters probably summed it up about right when to the tune of Blue Moon they sand ‘no where, City are going no-where’.

So in summary, it was too cold to keep my gloves off for long to make more extensive notes, once again we were the better team but came away with only a point.

It wasn’t all bad though, United were beat 3-2 so at least we had a better weekend than the London team.

My favourite bit of the weekend was the anecdote from my brother Paul who rang me shortly before he boarded his flight back to Japan on Monday morning. He told me that after checking in Kimihiro, was buying something from a shop the other side of passport control and in his change pulled out a city badge. The assistant said to him ‘oh do you support City’ and dear Kimihiro for whom the City vs. Gillingham game had been his first ever game of football simply answered ‘of course’.

Oh well another lost soul to the cause.

Onwards and upwards, our day will come.

Tony Burns (tony.burns@cwcom.net)

MATCH REPORT – ‘LIVE’ III

MANCHESTER CITY vs. GILLINGHAM

21st November 1998
Attendance: 26,529

It was a familiar story at Maine Road on Saturday. A big crowd, an opposition who clearly viewed a draw as a good result, and a City team short of the pace, power or guile necessary to carve out the scoring opportunities that their possession warranted.

The last few minutes of the game, as with so many at home this season, were spent willing the Blues on in hope rather than confidence, while remembering the earlier squandered chances.

City lined up 4-4-2 with Crooks in at right back instead of the suspended Edghill, Pollock, Bishop and Mason making up the midfield. Russell retained his place up front, this time alongside Branch and Goater. The Blues made a positive start, with lots of possession and Goater’s sheer physical presence creating confusion in the Gillingham defence. Several chances came our way, the most notable being when Goater slid the ball towards the goal from an acute angle, with the ‘keeper stranded. A flailing defender’s leg missed the ball and we seemed certain to go 1-0 up, but the ball rebounded gently off the far post and the danger was cleared. Goater also had a couple of other chances, but it was hard to see from the Kippax how good the efforts and resulting saves were. The Blues faded toward half time and seemed short of ideas when the half time whistle went.

In the second half the pace was stepped up and City pressed the game for almost the entire 45 minutes. Russell had a much better second half, putting in good early crosses, high and low, into the box which no one was able to get on the end half. The best opening of the half fell to Gary Mason; he and Goater worked an opening through the Gills’ defence and Mason found himself going through on goal with time to take another touch, but instead he chose to shoot very unconvincingly wide of both the advancing ‘keeper and the post.

Brown replaced Pollock and played well. Dickov replaced Branch, who was entirely anonymous during the match, but any neat work by the substitute was undermined by the fact that he seems unable to shoot anywhere but directly at the ‘keeper. The Blues were strong and committed, Andy Morrison almot killed one of the opposition with a fair tackle, the game was one sided, but the repeated failure of the Blues to kill off sides like this are likely to cost us dear by the end of the season. Joe Royle stated that “their manager said to me coming off the pitch that we are easily the best team they have played this season, and yet they have taken a point away. But quite seriously there have been too many like that this season.” I can only presume that Gillingham haven’t played Stoke, Fulham or Preston yet because we were really not that impressive.

Dan Rigby (dan.rigby@man.ac.uk)

LUTON TOWN – OUR NEXT OPPONENTS

Forgetting our infamous relegation match with the Hatters – David Pleat’s dance etc. (I’d rather remember Denis Law’s 6 goals in that abandoned cup game anyway), I have a soft spot for Luton Town. Well, I’d have to really, being based in Luton these days and with my son a passionate fan (I can’t argue with him – it’s always seemed right to me to support your home town team). Over the years Luton have actually given me a bit of pleasure even if it’s not their result I look for first! (Supporting City is more about soul and guts, with a lot of pain!). In the main, it has been good cup runs, notably when they beat Arsenal in the Littlewoods final. Say what you will about Pleat, he did produce some good footballing teams.

Luton’s Kenilworth Road ground is horrible – they have plans for a move to a new stadium modestly named the Kohlerdome by their present chairman and owner, but there are problems with finding a site and obtaining planning permission (there has even been talk of moving to Milton Keynes). The new stadium would be very futuristic with a removable pitch and totally enclosed by a roof (they’d have to take the grass outside for it to grow, wouldn’t they? At least it wouldn’t be back to plastic!), although planned capacity is not great – about 15,000. Meanwhile, the present site is an eyesore with a terrible mix of old and new; the worst feature is the row of executive boxes along the whole of one side (no other seating on that side!). The visitors’ enclosure, the Oak Road Stand, is behind one goal and capacity is just over 2,000. I should think it gives a good view although I have never experienced it. Total ground capacity is 9,975 but average attendances this season are only about 5,500. City, though, are almost certain to be a sell-out.

Last season Luton started as promotion favourites but struggled against relegation all season (remind you of anyone?). This campaign has seen a major turnaround and City will do well to get any kind of result. Already the Hatters have removed three 1st Division and one Premier team from the Worthington’s Cup. This run has saved them from selling players – Luton are a selling club with very few buys to their name. In the League, results are almost as impressive; they hammered Fulham away (I’m still trying of get rid of the mental scars received from watching City’s ‘Sky’ game at Fulham this year).

The change from last season seems to have been brought about by introducing a batch of young players. Watch out for Evers and Douglas but there are several others. There has been some better form from some old pros as well – you might know Phil Gray (ex-Sunderland) and Mitchell Thomas (ex-Spurs). The real danger man though is Steve Davis, an inspirational captain at centre back, who has scored as many goals as Goater, just coming up for set pieces.

In general, Luton are a good passing side with some real pace breaking forward – definitely tough opposition. Soft spot I may have but that’s all it is. It’s still CTID.

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

PETER BARNES IN MALAYSIA

Just to add to Steve Walker’s remarks on Peter Barnes, I have been posted to Malaysia for about a year now. Apparently, Niall Quinn and Tony Cottee have had spells there too. Cottee returned to join Leicester because he was homesick. David Rocastle is still playing in the Malaysian league. They are crazy about football in Malaysia, but the support for the local league and the national team has diminished somewhat due to match fixing allegations.

On the subject of Man U in Malaysia, they do have a very large following in Singapore and Malaysia. They have also played exhibition matches here previously. As far as merchandising is concerned, they are, unfortunately, way above the rest of the clubs, both English and Italian, which are the most popular here. In fact whenever I mention that I went to Manchester to watch football, I am always asked “Oh you went to watch Man U play, did you?” Sad to say, to date I have not seen anyone wearing a City jersey, cap etc. here, or met many City supporters.

Sam Yong (samyong@singnet.com.sg)

STEVE COOGAN

Just a quick observation regarding Steve Coogan. I had always assumed he was a Blue but I saw in the paper once that he was with his “favourite Rag stars” at some celebrity party and he was interviewed and asked about Paul Calf being a Blue and he replied, “Yeh, a loser” so are you sure we’re claiming him as one of us?

Ben Gardner – Lyon, France (bmg69@hotmail.com)

CUPS FOR COCK-UPS

This book is definitely not a Christmas present for a Man. City supporter. That is unless you are a Man. Utd. fan who wants cheap laughs at our loyalty. The author is a self-confessed Man. Utd. supporter who delights in repeating how City is in the doldrums whilst Utd. are “winning cup after cup”.

The problem for us City fans is that the statements in the book are probably true. We are in this unenviable position in our football skills and financially bereft, due to bad managers and weak, out-of-touch directors. As we are reminded, our derby games are not even against Bury or Stockport, rather Macclesfield and Wigan, whilst Utd. have won this and that, play in Europe etc. We don’t read this once, but over and over again.

Whilst being in essence true, do we want to give our friends such a present? Reading the book made me feel miserable. I know City are bad but I don’t need a Man. Utd. author to rub it in for me. Our celebrity supporters are referred to as ageing comedians or second rate soap stars and predicts that Liam will be watching us in the Vauxhall Conference. Maine Road is referred to as the ‘Theatre of Comedies’. And we are reminded that our results get worse; defeats against such giants of the game as Crewe. ‘…giants of the game as Crewe’. That’s his sarcastic quotation.

Doesn’t the Utd. author betray his true motive here of rubbishing City? There is even a full chapter itemising the games leading to our relegation to Div. 2. Bet he loved writing that. Do you want to read it? He blames the 30,000 fan attendances for the Board thinking this is tacit acceptance of the situation, and things will get no better if we continue to turn up. And in another place he says when the attendance does start to drop we will go in the way of Burnley and Preston. A Catch 22 which I think is what Ashley Shaw wants, our demise. Reason? Well, it’s as he states in his book, there are more City shirts to be seen in Manchester than there are of Utd. That must hurt him. Buy the book, read it, give the Utd. author a share of the £8.99 (you can have my copy for £5), but give it for a present as is being suggested, certainly not. If you had given me this book for Christmas, I’d break it over your head.

CTTCCH (City till the cows come home), Harry Cooper (harry.cooper@virgin.net)

A CUNNING PLAN

I have a cunning plan, We need 3,650,000 people to invest £100 each and we buy the Swamp.

Then we close it down.

John Crump (John.Crump@digital.com)

CHRIS BIRD TO VISIT THE CAMBRIDGE AND DISTRICT SUPPORTERS’ CLUB

Chris Bird, Manchester City’s PR spokesman will be visiting the Cambridge and District Supporters’ Club on Sunday 29th November. He will be coming to answer the questions from members and non-members so if you are in the area of Cambridge, then please come along.

The location of the meeting is the Castle Inn in Cambridge, date is Sunday 29th November, time is 7:30pm.

If you would like any further information, then please contact Sharon Bennett on: 01223 513090

or please get in contact with me on the email address below.

Rob Knapper – Lone Star Blue (robertk@uk.psi.com or robk@psilink.co.uk)

SOUTH FLORIDA BLUES’ XMAS BASH

What is it about Florida that seems to attract lots of City fans? Is it the fantastic weather, the great beaches, or is it just that we need to get as far away from Maine Road as possible in these dark times? Either way there are more and more Blues turning up in Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

So maybe it’s time we all got together and set up a South Florida Supporters’ Club? Steve Kinsey, who now lives in Plantation, and coaches the Florida Thundercats in Fort Lauderdale; has volunteered to be President, so we already have a famous ex-player to see us on our way. What we now need are 20 regular City fans who live in S. Florida.

The first unofficial ‘Bash’ will be held, on Friday December 11th, 8:00 p.m., at the Tudor Inn, 5782 Powerline Road, Ft. Lauderdale (just south of Cypress Creek). Tel: 954 491 3697. Anyone interested in coming along should contact Paul Duncan, mrduncan@bellsouth.net, or myself pcalderbank@compuserve.com, or just turn up on the night. Come along and join the family!

Phil Calderbank a.k.a. Florida Phil CTID (pcalderbank@compuserve.com)

MANAGERSPEAK

I was disappointed, to say the least, to hear Joe Royle to say after the Halifax game that he thought we’d played better against Wycombe and lost. Having been at that game I can honestly say that we were truly diabolical. What is it with Royle? He often says this kind of thing after City victories. He’s obviously trying to tell us the team is playing well, but his talk is just so unconvincing and patronising.

Still, his Sky interview is not intended for Blues fans, it’s for the media and the watching public, who’ll listen, then forget about it until they get to the pub or wherever and say things like: ‘yeah, but apparently City have been playing really well without getting the results.’

Personally, I’d rather have Denise Royle as the manager. At least she would tell it like it is.

City til I understand managers’ pronouncements, Daniel Marcus (dancity@hotmail.com)

TG2 – A WORD

I would like to mention the TG2 event at Platt Lane on Friday evening.

A group at the back of the room found it necessary to cause problems for Chris Bird (whose job at City as PR man is not easy anyway) when he was hosting the question and answer session with ex-players. They felt that this occasion was the forum to complain about the name of the new stadium, shouting obscenities and claiming that MCFC do not listen to the fans. They then ruined the comedian’s act by moaning about his style of humour and almost caused a mini riot.

We paid £20 for tickets to this event. We took friends with us, one of them being a girl we are trying to introduce to City. She said she would never go to a game now, as the behaviour of the so-called fans was so bad on Friday, she couldn’t possibly imagine what they would be like on the terraces.

I don’t know who these people were, but they really need to seriously think about growing up. They ruined what was a well-organised and enjoyable evening.

Please could the organisers of TG2 try to ensure that they don’t attend future events?

Thanks, Ros Lawton (Ros.Lawton@cmc.co.uk)

STEVE COOGAN IS A RAG

As Jeremy Poynton rightly said, Coogan is a Rag. I read an interview with Coogan in the M.U.E.N. last year. When he was questioned about Paul Calf’s allegiance to the Blues he said: “Paul Calf is such a loser he had to be a City fan.”

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

OPINION – SCOTT HILEY

I just wondered if other City fans are equally mystified by the left-back situation. We actually haven’t had a left-back since Phelan was sold, and not a decent one since Pointon. Even our series of inept managers have eventually identified the problem but then have gone and spent their cash on a player who they thought was a left-back, and only once he was playing did they realise he was not.

Clark signed Vaughan for over a mill, only to found he was a centre back Royle signed Tiatto for £300,000, only to find he was a winger who could not defend. Since he came, Big Joe has sold three left-backs: van Blerk, now a regular in the Premiership-aiming West Brom side; Ingram, ok, he’s crap, but at least he was a left-back; Hiley.

Now Scott Hiley was considered good enough to make our first team when we were Premier League. And he was good. Unspectacular, but solid, and reasonable going foward. Now for some reason, the guy hardly played a game for us after relegation. OK, he was injured for some of the time, but he was largely forgotten about. Now he is running out every week for Southampton, and looking like a Premier League defender. This guy could play right and left, so he could cover for Edghill on the right too. We let him go for free!

Sometimes, you wonder what is going on, when players like Hiley, van Blerk, Scully, Beesley, Lomas, McGlinchey and Brannan immediatly going on to better things at higher division clubs. With ‘Hacker’ Brown all set for Barnsley, and Russell probably going too, don’t be surprised to see more ex-Blues suddenly becoming good players overnight.

Finally, an appeal to all City players to get off Shaunie Goater’s back. The guy is working his socks off at the moment, with no luck.

Mark Braude (mark.braude@somerville.oxford.ac.uk)

OPINION – CITY AND PROMOTION

Not being able to win at home is going to be City’s downfall if they do not change results quickly.

With Luton, Chesterfield, Bournemouth, all with games in hand, we no longer can just look who is ahead of us, but who can also pass us. I’ve said it weeks ago and I say it again, we must win at home, the red flag went up long ago for the need for someone to score goals.

We still have time to make amends, but we are starting to get low on time, there are too many teams at the top with a chance. We whipped Stoke City the last game last season, what have they done different from City since then? They sure look like they got their act together. We can still do it City but now it’s become very urgent.

CTID, Ernie Barrow (EB2205@aol.com)

OPINION – GILLINGHAM AND BEYOND…

Wending my way home on Saturday to the strains of GMR, I was convinced all the callers had been to a different game. Granted it wasn’t good enough and the play-off’s are our only likely chance of promotion. But on the pitch there were some decent performances and it wasn’t, by any stretch, a bad game (well relative to what we are used to these days).

How many individuals could you slag off after Saturday? The usual Goater baiters were out and about, but he was constantly trying to set stuff up and looked the only person likely to score. The chances he missed, well, no one else would have even got into the positions in the first place. OK, Bishop and Branch were anonymous but Dickov was a good replacement for the latter. Pollock wasn’t fit, but Brown looked more like his old self. Mason had a dire first half and missed the best chance of the game (laid on by Goater) but had an excellent second. Russell and Crooks worked hard despite being out of position. You couldn’t ask for more from Wiekens, Morrison and Weaver. That just leaves Tony Vaughan. The only person to attract boos on the day. He’ll never be a left back. I’m not convinced he’ll ever be a centre back either. I find his signing one of the most puzzling that we’ve made in recent years (and that’s saying something). We must be the only club to be done at a tribunal. Normally, tribunal and bang, you get a bargain. Not us.

So out of the thirteen used, only Bishop, Branch and Vaughan disappointed. But again we didn’t win, did we? Why? Well, we do have problems, and these are fairly fundamental. The worst thing is that they are nothing new. If you look at our first team squad at the moment, it consists of about twenty five players. Of these two are goalies, seven are centre halves, eight are central midfielders and six are central forwards. That leaves just two who are natural wide players, Edghill a full back and Tiatto a midfielder. Being as neither of these played on Saturday, we, once again, had no width. Ironic isn’t it? We’ve got the biggest pitch in the country, widened to the limits to allow Beagrie and Summerbee extra space to run people ragged, and we play everything through the middle. The reserves are no different. No full backs and no wingers. All central players and a few forced to improvise as wing backs.

A simple five point plan, Joe.

  1. Drop Vaughan and buy a real left back. It’s two years since we’ve hadone, apart from an on-loan Briscoe. The problem has been identifiedcountless times, but never solved.
  2. Get a right back as cover for Edghill. Edghill can cover for the left back.
  3. You can’t play with Bishop and Mason. Drop one and buy a winger. Someonewho’ll get to the by-line and cross it.
  4. Forget trying Branch and Russell as pseudo-widemen. Drop one (releaseBranch, I’m not impressed) and buy another winger. Someone else who’ll getto the by-line and cross it.
  5. Buy a big centre forward to knock in the crosses. Play alongside Goater,Russell or Dickov.

I don’t agree that we should be looking at shelling out millions for players at the moment. We’re talking about players to get us out of this division. Nothing more. See if Andy Morrison has got any brothers. He’s the sort of player we need. Experienced, been there, seen it, done it-type players not untried twenty-year olds.

Talking of crossing. Our crossing, or the lack of it, is astonishing. Consider the lack of threat we pose at corners, the most basic form of cross. Prior to this season, if Horlock took one, I feared the worst. This season he’s our first choice, and now when he’s not playing, there’s proof that there actually does exist a level below Horlock. Morrison is a real danger in the air, but no one has the ability to find him. On Saturday we were messing about with these two-man jobs, short corners as I believe they’re known. Didn’t take Gillingham long to cotton on to that one did it? Yet we still persevered. I genuinely believe that no one knew what else to do.

Andy Noise (anoise@globalnet.co.uk)

OPINION – MCFC

I thought I’d put my two penn’orth in for once, having attended a match at Maine Road for the first time in just over 3 years. That day was Arsenal (0-1 if you’ve forgotten), today Gillingham. What a come down. Also my first time in the Kippax (upper) – very impressed – not many stands with heating, even in the Premiership. The match was frustrating, against a negative but well-organised side. If Goater’s early grubber had gone in, maybe a different story – sounds familiar from what I’ve been reading on these pages.

Individuals – Goater wasn’t half as bad as I’d been led to expect, or as the crowd around me seemed to think – he won most balls he went for, and looked more dangerous than anyone (except maybe Asaba). Wiekens was calm and in control on the deck, but looked panic stricken with the very few crosses and corners we had to deal with. Morrison – very subtle. Vaughan I felt sorry for. Apart from them, plenty of enthusisasm but not a lot of class. I’ve seen a fair bit of Second Division football lately, as my son’s a Preston fan (don’t ask) and I don’t think we’ll run away with it from what I’ve seen, i.e. today and 2 TV matches – Fulham (hammered) and Halifax (no opposition). Still it was great to be back, and the day wasn’t wasted as I was given 2 free packets of Cup a Soup for no apparent reason.

Peter Gibson (pgibson@csi.com)

OPINION – DIG HIM UP 😉

You know when it’s going badly when the crowd around you start singing for Peter Swales’ reintroduction. Man City were terrible, but Gillingham were truly in their Cup Final. They brought 3,000 compared to their normal away crowd of 300. We must fight for our right to play football in this division, we can go on about we shouldn’t be here, but talk is cheap. Branch has started to show little or no interest in the club, show him the door.

Morrison is big and fat, but will do for this division, he had our best effort of the game. We need to do better and show the commitment we need. Because commitment will help you ride out the dodgy patches in a season.

Can any one explain what ‘City you’ve got about as much imagination as a caravan site’ actually means? Superb saying.

Still looking for Luton tickets, will be there on the day anyway!

Walter Smith (Citysmith@yahoo.com)

OPINION – GOATER

Shaun Goater has come in for a lot of totally unjustified stick this season, but on Saturday he had a stormer. When he misplaced a pass in the last minute, the City critics were ready to blame him, but then it occurred to them that this was the first mistake he had made all game.

There were two beautiful through balls to set up Russell and Mason in the 2nd half, both missed. When Goater hit the post, he did amazingly well to beat the goalie to the ball, and he somehow managed to get a shot in from a very narrow angle despite being off balance. Summing up our luck that day, it came back off the post.

Goater won loads in the air (unusual for him), and worked his socks off. Gilligham were terrified of him when the ball was at his feet, and his hold-up play was excellent. Now, I admit that when he was scoring loads at the start of the season, his all-round play was poor, but since he stopped scoring, he seems to be playing better than ever. His effort, along with most City players (bar Vaughan and Branch) cannot be faulted.

A combination of luck and not being good enough is letting us down. I really think that with normal luck we could be 10 points better off this year. Brian Little criticized Stoke’s performance on Saturday but they won 2-0. When we play badly we lose, and even when he do OK (Wrexham, Chesterfield, even Gillingham), we don’t win. Luck explains this to an extent, though the team is not good enough.

Buy a winger Royle! Please don’t sign Branch, he is non-committed, and his game is one-dimensional i.e. running at defenders.

Mark Braude (mark.braude@somerville.oxford.ac.uk)

SYDNEY BLUES

The Sydney Blues will be holding a meeting/gathering/alcoholic seance on Saturday 28th November.

Starting time is around 7.30pm, at the Graphic Arts Club, Regent Street, Broadway, a few minutes walk west from Central Station.

All welcome.

Bill Chapman (billc@prepress.edu.au)

REQUEST – TRAVEL TO MAINE ROAD

I am going to be in London shortly after the new year and being in England I want to make the pilgrimage to see City play for the first time since 1981 against the Icelandic National team. I will either be there for the Blackpool game or preferred Fulham at home. What would be the cheapest way for me to get to Manchester (Blackpool) from London? Does anybody have any great ideas for cheap ways to travel?

Thanks from the Icy rock.

CTITITI (City ’till Iceland turns into a tropical island), Fridjon R.F. (frf@rhi.hi.is)

REQUEST – GUARDIAN NEWSLETTER

Can anyone who receives the Guardian email football news letter, I think it is called Fiver, please send me the subscription address.

WOOWTW (We’re On Our Way To Wembley), John Taylor (taylor@cpimsx.ptcpi.com)

REQUEST – THE MAINE ROAD 27

Please tell me who the 27 players that Joe Royle has sold are, as I can’t remember them all (stat from Sky coverage of the epic Halifax cup tie).

Paul Barber – Sale (GEA95PB@sheffield.ac.uk)

REQUEST – ZÜRICH BLUES?

Given the auspicious origins of this august organ, I have a question which would appear pertinent to the current set of circumstances in which I find myself.

I would appear to have been banished to Zürich for the forseeable future by my benevolent employers UBS.

Whilst working out how to get my hands on some Nazi gold to aid our escape from Division three (sic) via the transfer market, are there any other Blues still in Switzerland, with whom I could exchange psychoses after most issues of McVitie?

Michael Maynard (Michael.Maynard@WDR.Com)

RESULTS

Second Division Results

Saturday, November 21 1998

Blackpool                0-0 Preston North End      10,868
Bournemouth              5-0 Burnley                 5,907
Warren (55)
Robinson (pen 60, 69)
Stein (73, 89)
Fulham                   2-1 Chesterfield           10,005
Peschisolido (16, pen 55)    Howard (62)
Lincoln City             2-2 Luton Town              4,893
Smith (40)                   Gray (43)
McGowan (og 61)              Doherty (76)
Macclesfield Town        1-1 Walsall                 3,183
Tomlinson (76)               Otter (45)
Manchester City          0-0 Gillingham             26,529
Millwall                 1-1 Bristol Rovers          5,755
Harris (11)                  Roberts (66)
Northampton Town         0-1 Reading                 5,970
                             Brebner (61)
Notts County             1-3 Colchester United       4,598
Murray (51)                  Greene (9, 23)
                             Gregory, D (48)
Oldham Athletic          3-2 Wrexham                 4,446
Whitehall (26)               Roberts (32)
McNiven, S (81)              Carey (70)
Tipton (87)
Stoke City               2-0 York City              11,795
Forsyth (30)
Oldfield (36)
Wigan Athletic           0-0 Wycombe Wanderers       3,349



Second Division Table

Up to and including Saturday, November 21 1998 (7:41pm)

                               HOME            AWAY
                         P  W  D  L  F  A   W  D  L  F  A   Pts   GS
Stoke City              19  7  1  1 15  5   6  0  4 14 10    40   29
Fulham                  17  6  2  1 17  8   6  1  1 11  5    39   28
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Walsall                 19  6  2  2 16 10   5  1  3 13 14    36   29
Preston North End       18  5  2  2 21  9   4  4  1 11  8    33   32
Gillingham              19  6  2  2 18  8   1  7  1 10 10    30   28
Luton Town              17  5  1  1  9  2   3  3  4 14 16    28   23
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Manchester City         19  4  4  2 13  8   3  3  3 10 10    28   23
Chesterfield            17  8  0  1 16  4   0  4  4  2  8    28   18
Bournemouth             17  5  3  0 18  5   2  3  4 11 14    27   29
Millwall                19  4  5  1 12  7   3  1  5  7 14    27   19
Blackpool               18  4  2  3 14 11   3  3  3 10 12    26   24
Reading                 18  3  5  1 12  8   4  0  5  9 16    26   21
Wigan Athletic          18  4  2  3 13  6   3  1  5  9 12    24   22
Colchester United       18  3  2  3  6  9   3  3  4 13 14    23   19
Bristol Rovers          19  5  3  2 17 11   0  4  5  5 12    22   22
Notts County            18  3  2  4 11 12   2  4  3 10 12    21   21
Wrexham                 19  5  3  3 14 12   0  3  5  5 15    21   19
York City               18  2  4  2 11 10   3  1  6 11 22    20   22
Burnley                 19  4  3  2 10  9   1  2  7 11 21    20   21
Macclesfield Town       19  2  3  4  7  9   2  4  4 10 15    19   17
Northampton Town        19  1  6  2 10 11   2  2  6  7 11    17   17
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Oldham Athletic         19  3  2  5 11 15   1  2  6  6 15    16   17
Wycombe Wanderers       19  3  2  5 12 11   0  4  5  4 14    15   16
Lincoln City            18  2  1  6 13 18   1  2  6  5 16    12   18



Second Division Top Scorers

Up to and including Saturday, November 21 1998

                                     FA   Lge
                                Lge  Cup  Cup  Euro   Other  Total
Stein (Bournemouth)             10    1    5     0      0     16
Payton (Burnley)                10    2    1     0      0     13
Asaba (Gillingham)              10    0    1     0      0     11
Cresswell (York)                 9    2    0     0      0     11
Goater (Man City)                8    1    2     0      0     11
Hayles (Bristol Rovers)          9    0    1     0      0     10
Horsfield (Fulham)               9    0    1     0      0     10
Rammell (Walsall)                9    0    1     0      0     10
Barlow (Wigan)                   8    1    1     0      0     10
Gray (Luton)                     5    2    3     0      0     10
Williams (Reading)               9    0    0     0      0      9
Aldridge (Blackpool)             6    1    2     0      0      9
Brebner (Reading)                7    0    1     0      0      8
Shaw (Millwall)                  7    0    1     0      0      8
Davis (Luton)                    5    1    2     0      0      8
Corazzin (Northampton)           7    0    0     0      0      7
Nogan (Preston)                  7    0    0     0      0      7

Pat Alexander (patalex@messages.co.uk) & Dorien James (ros_james@compuserve.com)
With thanks to Soccernet

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


MCIVTA ADDRESSES:
Contributions: Ashley – mcivta@tollbar.u-net.com
News & Rumours: Howard – howardmc@iol.ie
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Technical Problems: Paul – paul@city-fan.org


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 #452

1998/11/23

Editor:


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