Newsletter #461

A big enough issue to warrant going out today, mainly made up of opinion, though we also have a Why Blue.

I envisage (tentatively) sending the next MCIVTA out on Wednesday 30th – Monday is the match and Tuesday I won’t have the time! This will only happen providing there is enough content to justify it, otherwise it’ll be January 4th.

All the best, Ashley.

Next game, Wrexham away, Saturday 26th December 1998


Oakes signing not complete

I should have known better than gleefully to trumpet a new signing in the last news summary, because Scott Oakes has not yet signed for City. The current state of play is this: Oakes has been transfer listed by Sheffield Wednesday; Royle has spoken to Danny Wilson about the player; Wilson has reportedly stated that he’d allow the player to come to City; and Royle says Oakes is under consideration as a potential new signing. However, a deal hasn’t been concluded yet. Nothing ever seems to be simple with us! Word is that we’re now unlikely to have any new faces for the bank holiday fixtures.

Trialist confusion

Maybe City were waiting to look at Norwegian-born trialist Juro Kuvicek in the reserves before making a decision on whether to pursue interest in Oakes. Kuvicek’s fate, however, is also somewhat shrouded in uncertainty. Tuesday’s Manchester Evening News recorded two contradictory verdicts on the player – the report on the reserve match says he had a useful game and that City will take another look while the main back page story (centred round Joe Royle’s latest rallying call) states that he definitely won’t be signing. I’m more inclined to believe the latter.

Royle’s plea to fans

That latest rallying call came in the form of an appeal to the fans not to lose faith in the team. For the first time I’ve noticed, JR has conceded that our position is disappointing. However, he feels the side isn’t far short of the finished article so improved results should be within our capabilities, and he considers that the backing of the fans could help to achieve this. He is critical of a small group of the fans, whose abuse of the players he considers counter-productive.

Someone whose opinion I respect has recently expressed the view to me that current results are down to a lack of two things: confidence and teamwork. I have less to go on in terms of forming an analysis, but I’d tend to agree. The latter factor is something which Royle and Donachie should be working on – I still take the view that many of the component parts they have to work with are of a high quality for this division (emphasis on the last three words), so it’s up to the management to achieve what they’ve so far failed to do and mould them into a unit where we can be capitalise on these assets. Confidence will only return with good results, but until then, fans abusing the team during matches can only make the problem worse. I won’t harp on about this, as in my view Peter Llewellyn’s excellent piece in MCIVTA 460 said more or less all that needs saying on the topic. The lobby of those who feel their right to criticise overrides any negative impact they may have on the team no doubt disagree, but it’s simply beyond me as to why they can’t get the idea that a genuine fan should want the team to win above all and should therefore refrain from behaviour which damages the prospect.

Tskhadadze ahead of schedule

It was originally thought Kakhaber Tskhadadze would miss the whole of the rest of the season after his injury at Fulham in August, but he seems to have confounded expectations. He’s been working on his fitness back in his native Georgia and could be back in full training early in the New Year, with February now the projected comeback date. Richard Jobson, meanwhile, is also reported to be on the way back after being unavailable for virtually the whole of the last eight months. It’s a shame they both fill the position where we probably have our greatest strength already – by all accounts the Morrison-Wiekens partnership is looking fairly useful.

Reserves and juniors

In front of 234 hardy souls at Hyde on Monday evening, City reserves fought out a goalless draw in the Pontin’s League Cup against West Bromwich Albion. From memory, I think the early stages of this competition feature a round-robin group format rather than a straight knock-out, so where this leaves us in terms of prospects to progress further I’m not sure. Those who stayed away didn’t miss much – the match was described as “poor” in each of the only two reports I’ve uncovered.

Christmas fixtures part 1: Wrexham away

Boxing Day sees a first ever league visit to Wrexham. I’ve a good mate who’s a Wrexham fan, and he’s pretty dismayed with their form this season – he had real play-off ambitions in August after their strong showing in the previous three seasons, but they’re now sixteenth with 25 points from 22 games so far and Andy’s looking over his shoulder at the relegation places rather than up towards the play-offs. However, as in our last two games we’ve taken one point from teams with fairly similar records, this probably doesn’t count for much and Wrexham’s poor form is largely due to a disastrous away record – they haven’t yet won on their travels. They’ll certainly be up for this match – Blues making the trip can expect to encounter a partisan home crowd, with animosity fired up by pro-Welsh, anti-English sentiment (I’ll be standing on the home terrace, so I’m practising my North Walian accent already!).

Anyone looking for an omen might note that in 1936-37, we won an FA Cup third round tie 3-1 at Wrexham and this more or less coincided with the start of a barnstorming 22-match unbeaten run which lasted to the end of the season, ensuring that we swept from mid-table to the League Championship. So what chance of a parallel this year? Well, there’s one tiny difference between then and now. Sixty-two years back, in the likes of Swift, Barkas, Brook, Tilson and Doherty, we had some of the most accomplished players in the entire English game. Now we, erm, don’t.

Christmas fixtures part 2: Stoke at home

Forty-eight hours later Stoke come to Maine Road. On May 3, when the two teams played that crunch relegation match and both ended up taking the drop after our 5-2 win was rendered irrelevant by events elsewhere, most people (or at least me and the bookies) would have expected City to make the more convincing bid to bounce straight back. We all know that’s not how it’s turned out, though after racing from the traps with six straight wins, Stoke have now been overhauled by Walsall and Fulham. However, they’re still very much in the race for an automatic promotion slot, which, despite what Joe is still claiming, is more than can be said for us. Grounds for optimism might come in the fact that they’ve lost five of their last nine away matches. I hope our players will be really fired up too, as this game gives them a genuine chance to prove to a full house what they’ve been saying all along about their quality relative to this division.

Geoff’s email address

As noted in the last summary, Geoff Donkin will be looking after the news for the next couple of weeks. Please send any news snippets or rumours to

Finally, I’ll just repeat my festive salutations expressed in the last MCIVTA. Hope you all have a storming one and I’ll be back in ’99.

Peter Brophy (


Wrexham vs. Manchester City
Saturday 26th December

This fixture is now sold out. Supporters are advised not to travel without a ticket.

Manchester City vs. Stoke City
Monday 28th December

Contrary to some press reports, tickets still remain for this fixture in the Platt Lane and Main Stands. Tickets are selling extremely quickly and supporters are advised to purchase tickets as quickly as possible.

Ticket Office, Manchester City


Here presented to you, courtesy of Mark and Lard (Radcliffe and Riley), in the guise of The Shirehorses, from their album “The Album in the World Ever, ever, ever”, is a song close to many a City fans’ heart…

Enjoy. If you get a chance have a listen to the song and don’t forget Mark and Lard are both City fans!


Dick Cave & The Bad Cheese feat. Alan Bawl (no relation)

the ballad of franny lee

Going down, going down, little Franny Lee,
Down to division three,
We’ve only one lad who isn’t half bad,
And that’s little George Kinkladhze.

And at first the crowd roared, but now they’re just bored,
they go la-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la-lee, this is the ballad of Franny Lee.

I can’t go down, I won’t go down,
I’ve spent twelve million quid on City,
of the money I’ve made in the bog paper trade,
Well bloody hell don’t blame me.

And at first the crowd roared, but now they’re just bored,
they go la-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la-lee, bring me the head of Franny Lee.

Call yourself a manager, you little tosspot.
Your voice hasn’t broken, your balls haven’t dropped.
You won the World Cup in your stupid white boots,
Now you turn up for work in flat caps and shell suits.
Now here’s a home truth you pudding basin haired twonk,
Deeply ironic in’t it,
From that profitable caper wholesaling bog paper
You’ve landed us deep in the s**t.

And at first the crowd roared, but now they’re just bored,
they go la-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la-lee, the king of the Kippax is Franny Lee.
La-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la-lee, the king of the s**t house is Franny Lee.

Martin Ford (


Some 3 days after the débâcle that was the York City game, I still can’t bring myself to provide a ‘proper’ match report.

I’m speaking as a fan who last saw us ‘live’ at home to Blackpool, and have therefore relied upon the excellent info in subsequent MCIVTA’s to report on this season’s ‘progress’. Quite simply, Saturday’s performance was appalling. I can’t see any scraps of comfort to be taken from this game whatsoever. City dominated the match, yet it never looked like this would turn into a runaway victory.

I’m not even sure I know where to begin.

Tactics? Not sure what they really were; Russell spent as much time on the left wing as he did at centre forward. Marking was non-existent – witness York’s first goal. No-one picked up on any of Taylor’s knock-downs, of which there were many.

Fitness? Pollock was knackered going into the second half; and as for Horlock it was absolutely obvious he wasn’t fit. If anything, he was in a worst state than Pollock!

Ability? This is the real issue. OK, I accept we no longer possess world-beaters, but there should be no excuse for simple things like passing the ball to each other, running off the ball and one person at a time chasing the opposing player in possession.

Intelligence? Bobby Mimms’ goal kicks had to be seen to be believed. Every single one reached the half way line at best. And every single one skewed out to the left – every player was stood between their left touchline, and the middle of the centre circle. It took no more than 2-3 attempts to realise this was all he could do (Bobby Mimms was declared man of the match, by the way!), yet it was like watching kids’ football. Was there really not someone on the pitch who could have understood this and tried to take advantage of it?

For those who weren’t there, City’s travelling support was once again out in force. York scored on their first attack – Vaughan was outpaced by their number 9, his cross eluded one defender (Fenton?) and was met by the unmarked number 7. Their winner was scored by a player making his début – an 18-year-old defender, playing up front, shooting with his ‘wrong’ foot. This about sums the shambles that currently represents Manchester City.

At the end of the game, hardly any players bothered to acknowledge the crowd. My only memory is of Brown doing so. For those who have written in recent issues about the team being booed-off, that didn’t happen. It’s been replaced by v-signs and expletives, and on Saturday’s performance it’s thoroughly justified.

This should have been a runaway league for us. Brian Little turned around a crap Stoke City team with astute free transfers. But Royle’s transfer dealings are laughable. Was there really no-one better than Taylor? On this man’s shoulders rest our promotion hopes? God help us. Craig Russell is a striker. Not a left back, not a left wing-back or a left winger. Why not use him for the job he knows/does best? Edghill never has been able to cross a ball properly. And Vaughan is not good enough (paraphrased from the recent issue of Bert Trautmann’s helmet).

I imagine that most if not all of City’s supporters who have at sometime watched them in recent months do not possess an FA coaching certificate, nor have they managed a professional football club. Yet it is unbelievably obvious to all, that we need a left back, at least one winger, and a striker who knows how to score goals. And some time spent practising corners, set pieces and the like.

Yet nothing really changes. They keep on serving up this dross. The players are still paid for inept, worthless, gutless performances, and we, the fans put up with this shower of sh**e. I don’t think it’s really asking too much for automatic promotion out of this appalling league, and preferably to do it in some style. However, this is clearly beyond the current team we have at the moment. Take a look at the league table; we are now nearer the bottom than to the top of this division. We’re here on merit, and to be perfectly frank, look set to stay quite some time.

I’m sorry if this sounds so pessimistic. But I care deeply about my team and it’s upsetting when the people who can physically do something about its plight – Chairman, Manager, players, mismanage it so badly.

The supporters of Manchester City deserve better.

CTID, Neil Towse (


In Colin Jonas’ excellent review of the York match he stated that “… I can’t understand how anyone can still support Francis Lee after what he’s done to this club.” I think this is a comment well worth picking up on, as I still regard Francis as a true hero.

First and foremost, if you want to criticise him you must be specific about what he did exactly to cause you to lose your support. The best way to do this I think is to split up his contribution into two parts: his off-field activity and his on-field activity. In the former, he set up the academy, sorted out the ground, radically re-organised the merchandising etc. – but none of this is really important compared to what happened on the pitch. Secondly, we have his contribution to the football activities, and in this case I really would like some details as to what exactly he did wrong, rather than the vague and unspecified mutterings I’ve heard to date, usually from a ‘fans’ spokesman’. Did he buy any players, did he sell any players? Can anyone prove that he ever actually interfered in the running of the team? Did he give the managers enough money or not? What exactly did Franny do wrong, aside from the two most obvious examples that is:

  1. appointing Ball
  2. appointing a fan as ‘our’ spokesman.

The former I can forgive easily, as for the latter, I regret it as much as Franny probably does, certainly after the ‘ousting’ of Kinky. So I welcome some feedback on the Francis Lee debate!

Neil Haigh – Franny Fan, unashamed (


The headline in the sports papers on May 8th 1999…


As you might remember, I posted some opinions on City (Simon’s facts about City) before the season started, stating that I did not renew my season ticket for the first time in 15 years because I was sick of watching this club go to its death.

Well, the season is half gone and it appears that all my pre-season facts were correct so I make the following points, which may or may not get published, and to be quite honest I don’t care.

I have attended six City matches this season. Unlike many fans, I have never given them the “boo” treatment, I save that for email as follows:-

  1. City are finished as a major club.
  2. City are still on their way down.
  3. Bernstein is no good for the job.
  4. Royle has no ambition.
  5. The players are just not up to the job.

The club is in crisis. City have no money, no investment, no quality management, no quality players. These are the four qualities needed at a football club of this (diminishing) size.

As predicted pre-season, they are staying down, they will be lucky not to drop down to Division 3.

The most worrying aspect is that the Club is still in a negative spiral.

The only way forward is as follows:-

Fact:- City need investors and quick. To the right investors, this club is priceless. If you wanted to buy a football club, this one is a very attractive investment if it is sold at the right price (which is down to the current owners).

Fact:- Bernstein must go – he is not the man for this job. He has no money, no power to pull in money, and is only at the club 2 days a week, due to the fact he lives in London. This club needs a chairman working 24/7.

Fact:- Royle must go – I’m afraid this man has no ambition (this has been confirmed by his own admission with comments like “I will settle for a draw at Doncaster” etc.)

Looking at recent attandance figures, people have now had enough. Taking away the visiting fans, City’s last home attendances were 2,800, 22,500 and 7,000 making an average of 10,766, This I think also includes season ticket holders who might not have actually turned up so it could be much less than this.

Well that’s the mid-term facts, so let’s see if the headline is true come May 1999. Although it upsets me that City are down and out, it does not surprise me.

If anyone has any ideas how to rectify the situation, I would be pleased to read them.

Simon (


In the last MCIVTA, there were a number of postings regarding the fans’ contributions to the performance of the team, and in particular, an exhortation to get behind City rather than drag the club backwards. I think we have to be clear on one thing, the City fans on the terraces are in no way to blame for the mess this club are in. To be clear on another, mindless, blinkered support will also not help much either. There are countless arguments as to why this is true, take Saturday’s game against York for example; after only 90 seconds the much criticized Vaughan was outpaced, then outmanouvered and subsequently, we went a goal down. And this was before anyone had a chance to ‘undermine’ his performance. We only got angry when, much later on, Royle took Russell off, destroyed the balance of the side and we watched City chuck the match away in a manner that is just so characteristic of our ineptitude. How any City fan could have left this match other than blazing with rage would be beyond my imagination. We played our part, but the players and the management team, failed yet again to do theirs. Turning this issue around, are we saying that United have been successful because their support is more positive than ours? Because their Chairman is better than any of ours? No, I don’t think so, they just happened to have got lucky, and appointed the right man (with hindsight) as their manager; he in turn, you may remember, got very lucky in the FA Cup (ironically against Royle’s brilliant Oldham side) and the rest, sadly, is history.

No, I think the actual answer to our problem is contained within one of the postings in the last MCIVTA, which said: “…We are lucky to have Joe Royle and Willie Donachie…” I don’t care what business you are in, but if you have an employee who thinks you are lucky to have employed them, then you have the cue for massive, ‘couldn’t care less’ underachievement, coupled with an “I can do no wrong – it must be everyone else’s fault” attitude. Read between the lines of Willie and Joe’s statements towards the City fans, and indeed their own comments on the team’s performances in recent weeks, and you might recognise this. Sometimes, I can almost sense a level of resentment towards us, totally disconnected with the fact that this is our club, and our opinions do actually matter. This is probably why they couldn’t give a monkey’s about whether or not we loved Gio, voted for Brown as our best player, hated the wing back system, want to see Shelia given a chance, Russell up front etc. and furthermore, it probably explains why Vaughan gets picked every match. I have also seen this before in other managers we have appointed – Peter Reid for one (remember Colin Hendry / Michael Hughes), Mel Machin (remember the Moulden saga) for another. If these managers had had a track record which justified their attitude, then fair enough (e.g. Kendall) but the fact is with Kendall’s exception they have all won nothing, yet they behaved like they knew it all. When Joe and Willie finally go, I’m sure that we will hear all about how the fans kept getting on their back, how the team weren’t allowed to play (especially at Maine Road) and we’ll hear nothing at all about the ridiculously low level of opposition they were up against, and their mystifying team selections.

So I really do differ from these other postings. We have been loyal and remarkably patient with all of our managers and only got mad when we finally realised that yet again, this was not making any difference to the inept displays on the pitch. I now believe that success will only come, when we have a management team who are genuinely happy and at ease with their appointment at the club, who love us and want to work for us, or who have at least proved themselves at the very highest level. Our position in this league is simply not good enough for Joe and Willie to adopt their ‘holier than thou’ attitude – it’s about time they stopped making so many elementary mistakes and actually learned to apologise a bit for what they have (failed to) achieve. I repeat we City fans have done our best to get behind them to date, and it’s making no difference.

Loyal Blue… but getting more and more frustrated at seeing City slideever downwards, Neil Haigh (


Peter Llewellyn thinks no-one ever responded positively to anonymous, public criticism, that it only makes matters worse. A brief glance back at recent players at Maine Road will quickly dispel that idea. Lee Bradbury, pilloried by the fans on his arrival at City was putting in decent performances this season and was warmly applauded by the fans, before his sale. Richard Edghill is starting to display some of the form that won him praise when we were in higher divisions. Michael Brown, after a stinker against Preston is playing like we know he can. If further examples are needed we should look at Joe Corrigan, widely regarded as a joke, hounded by fans and media, turned it all around and went on to play for England. So we can dispel that nonsense that only encouragement spurs players on.

City fans aren’t unforgiving, when players apply themselves and don’t hide during the game they will get encouragement, because we want them to do well. How else could we explain the support that players like Gerry Creaney or Barry Conlon received. But when players hide and shirk physical confrontations, they are quite deservedly criticised. Players with character rise to the challenge, weak and timid players seek to apportion blame elsewhere, never looking to their own shortcomings.

Peter Llewellyn tells us that Second or even Third division football is here to stay because of me and my ilk. If he’s prepared to put up with that standard of football, stay at home and watch them on Ceefax, when you accept second best that’s what you get. Me and my ilk only want the best and will accept no substitute, if you only accept the best that’s what you get and that’s what we want from City. We all welcomed the ousting of Swales, a change was needed but this is not what we wanted it to change to. So are we to accept what has come to be as Peter Llewellyn implores us, or continue in striving for the change that we expected and were led to believe would happen when Lee took over?

I continue to hope that things at Maine Road will start to gel, that we will get better and I will continue to watch them, at home and away, because I am supporter. But when I pay my money, I’m a customer as well. Ask David Bernstein whether he’d rather have me stay at home on a Saturday afternoon and have the ground quarter full or a paying customer, criticising where I feel it’s deserved? I would have thought Old Trafford would be the place for those who unthinkingly accept the club line and will brook no criticism, but even there the customers boo them when the standards fall, as seen against Middlesbrough. The difference is that over there the players rose to the challenge and nearly turned it round and got a result.

So Peter Llewellyn, when you get your ‘Klingon Turbo-Phaser with telescopic sights and a built in bulls**t detector … and zap all the Maine Road boo boys to other side of the Andromeda Galaxy’, be very careful, you’ll find your its first target.

Beam him up Scotty, clear him off to bore someone else in his own strange little world.

Ben Potts (


To all my fellow Blues who tune in to MCIVTA religiously each week to ponder our beloved City’s current plight… I wish you a Merry Christmas full of ales, vino’s, roast allsorts and 2 comprehensive wins over Wrexham and Stoke!

Surely 1999 will be better… gulp!

Keep the faith, Chris Loveridge – Hawkeye of the “Bay” (


For you long suffering buggers out there, and yes there are a lot, I know I’ve just come from a Christmas party, and am as sober as a judge, honest your honour, but f**k it, we support City, and will do until we die. We’re certified as insane, but regardless of what everybody says/writes, complain if you’re going to, support if you’re going to, but always keep the faith, and, bol!!cks to the rest of you, have a good year, laugh loudly at the scum and always remember that we’ll always share that 5:1.

I hope the new year is better.

C.T.I.S.U.A.F (City till I sober up, around February), Mark Jones (


I’ll have left sunny Cape Town and shall be in Birkenhead from 22 Dec to around 10 Jan. If anyone can give me a lift to any games, I’d be grateful if you could contact me by telephone on (0151) 652-3215. If you can help I would greatly appreciate it. Many thanks.

Phil Maund (


Barrow AFC are deep s**t (again), the chairman, Stephen Vaughan, has left the club and things aren’t too good in the financial stakes. We have a white knight coming towards us who has agreed to buy the club from Vaughan, but no-one knows anything about him.

He is a Liverpool-based property developer called James Olivier. I don’t know what the company is called, but his son Philip is believed to be an actor in Channel Four’s soap Brookside. Philip Olivier has played the character Timothy ‘Tinhead’ O’Leary since 1996.

Do you know anything about him, or have mates in Liverpool who might be able to help? All info will be treat with the utmost confidence.

Ralph Sheppard – Kiwiland (


Why, why, why!… All I can really remember as a youngster is Mick Channon’s windmill arm celebration, the great strip colour and that I didn’t know anyone else who supported them.

I was an Englishman living in Scotland and so clearly had to support an English team; Channon I think had a lot to do with it. During the moderately successful times you don’t tend to ask why you support the team you do, but during dire times, such as those we are currently sinking in, I find myself wondering ‘why?’ so much I get distracted at work!

Bottom line is that there is no real answer – I didn’t have a game that I was taken to and I didn’t have a relative who also supported them – my dad is a Rotherham fan – there was no way I was going to support a team from the lower divisions!

One lasting early memory was when I managed to pursuade my dad that it would be a good idea to watch the 1981 FA Cup Final – in Scotland we could only see the Scottish Final and my dad drove us to a hill in Fife in his old beat up Volvo and we plugged our little black and white portable telly into the car battery and watched the final standing up on a hill in Fife with the telly on the car roof (good times, crap replay)!

So there we have it – Qu. ‘Why Blue?’ – Ans. ‘Don’t know really’! I have no regrets though – I am glad I didn’t choose Man Utd – it would have been too easy and no-one takes you seriously when the team is successful.

I hope if nothing else this ‘why blue’ acts as a catalyst to kick start our season and the rest of our lives!

Nick Reed (


Contributions: Ashley –
News & Rumours: Peter –
Subscriptions & Club Questions: Steve –
Technical Problems: Paul –

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

[Valid3.2]Ashley Birch,

Newsletter #461