Newsletter #488

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Well Ashley is now away getting a well earned break, whilst yours truly sits in the hot seat during the always-crucial Easter programme (always crucial for City anyway, usually for relegation issues on recent history though!). Although I’m probably not familiar to most of you out there – I make my presence felt on the list about as much as Gerry Creaney at a slimming club – I have been lurking around for far too long, stretching right back to the very first issue of MCIVTA many (blue) moons ago.

Hopefully the team can continue the fine form of late, which I genuinely believe is down to my mother. Since the gift of a brand new MCFC sweater from her at Christmas I’ve worn it on every match day and look at the run we’ve had! I hold my hands up for the defeat against Oldham, I wore a fleece over it and I’ve learned my lesson. 🙂 Seriously though, the next two games starting with Wigan on Saturday are real 6-pointers and I for one will be a bag of nerves. Hopefully the boys will do us proud!

We’ve got another report from the Reading game, a chance for you to become a media star and enjoy a fizzy drink or two courtesy of The Beeb, as well as news from the last Fans’ Committee meeting. There’s also plenty of opinion and debate to get your teeth into. There’s no ‘Why Blue?’ though this issue, so if you’d like to submit your story then get those fingers tappling away on the keyboard.

Also, apologies for this but this issue is in two parts due to the sheer amount news and opinions to cram in! This is not due to the quality of the MCIVTA technology, but more the lack of quality of my work email account. Sorry for any inconvenience that it may cause.

Next game, Wigan Athletic at home, Saturday 3rd April 1999

MATCH REPORT – ‘LIVE’

Reading vs. Man City at the Madejski Stadium (27/3/99)

The Ground

The day was sunny and quite warm and we managed to find a bar where we could buy £2.75 bottles of lager. Traffic was a nightmare and kick-off was delayed by 30 minutes to give all the fans a chance to get into the ground. Once in there the facilities were loads better than any other 2nd Division ground visited i.e. female toilets with several cubicles, flushing loos and running water (a first this season I think). No alcohol was served for the 15 minutes before the match or during half time. As usual there was a complete scrum for refreshments, which is not uncommon as most grounds seem unable to cope with the numbers of City fans travelling.

The Match

The first 20 minutes were, on balance dominated by Reading although there was only one occasion where they got near goal. They did however look better organised than us and our defence, particularly Wiekens, looked a bit nervy. Reading pressed, we panicked a bit but coped and then came the moment of magic at the Madejski. City were awarded a free kick by the (surprisingly good) ref about 25 yards out. Terry Cooke stepped up and scored a goal much like the Brylcreem Boy’s against Columbia. Well the crowd went wild and Reading seemed to be ready to pack up and go home.

In the second half we expected Reading to come out fighting but the just seemed to lose the urge to play, City attacked several times and Goater squandered a good scoring chance. Minutes later he made up for it with a coolly-taken goal in a one on one with the ‘keeper. The City crowd went wilder and the Reading crowd started leaving. City wasted another good chance when Goater intercepted a cross he couldn’t reach with his hand. Unbeknown to him, Dickov was right behind him and wasn’t best pleased. Following a few more offside flags (there were a lot in this match), Paul Dickov was brought down by Maybury when he was clear through with only the ‘keeper to beat. Dickov went down like a good run and after much discussion with the (not so good) linesman Maybury walked. Cooke took a second free kick and fantastically scored again. The City crowd was now beyond wild and the Reading crowd went home to watch England.

The defence having woken up now got a bit cocky and during a bit of a kickabout session lost the ball to Keith Scott who, with only Weaver to beat, managed to calmly slot home a compensatory goal.

Overall we looked OK defensively as Wiekens on an off day is still better than many defensive players we’ve had and Morrison is a rock. Midfield did well with Bishop contributing a great deal despite being a bit slow at times. He missed a superb chance near the end and he did deserve to score so it was a shame that the ‘keeper made a brilliant save. Up front we were not what you could call threatening. We had a good five or six chances to score from open play and only took 1 of them. Let’s hope the new signing can up our strike rate. Bring on Wigan and Preston!

Sharon Marsland (Sharon.Marsland@icl.com)

OPINION – READING vs. MANCHESTER CITY

A few points about Reading.

1. What a game! What a performance. After a close 1st half in which Reading had dominated possession but had created only a couple of half-chances, we went in 1-0 up. I was expecting a Reading onslaught in the 2nd half, after all this was make or break for them. Lose this and their season would be over. Yet the 2nd half was one of the most one-sided 45 minutes I have ever seen. It really ought to have been at least 6-0 before Reading scored their late consolation, incidentally from their only attack of the 2nd half. The defence was rock-solid, Wiekens returning to his best, but Morrison still threatening to steal ‘Player of the Year’ from him. Tony Vaughan performed creditably at left back against their new signing, McClaren. Pollock had a good 1st half, but is short of mtach fitness, while Bishop, after an appalling 1st half, was outstanding in the 2nd. Cooke and Dickov were the best players on the park. I don’t need to add anything about Cooke, I’m sure most people realise he’s quite good. On this form we really can beat anyone at least in this division, and the current side is the best for many years. Certainly the most united and settled side since Reidy. I fancy us for 4th place behind Preston and Bournmouth, meeting Walsall in the semi’s, and playing Wigan at Wembley. The next 2 matches should be fascinating.

2. Did anyone read the report of the game in the Sunday Times? It was disgracefully biased, suggesting that we were outplayed in the 1st half and were very lucky, Maybury shouldn’t have gone, and it gave us no credit for the outstanding 2nd half display. It seems to me that some broadsheet papers are only comfortable slagging us off and laughing at us. When we do well they can’t handle it.

3. I haven’t seen any comments anywhere about Shaun Goater’s booking. Did anybody else notice it? He missed a chance with a header and followed through past the dead ball line. He then jogged back into play and, when he wasn’t looking, the referee just waved a yellow card at him! I believe he was booked for missing a chance! Shaun is the most unaggressive, clean player I have ever seen, yet he has been booked 4 times this season. Against Derby for ‘scoring’ (handball?!), against Chesterfield for being jumped on and punched by an opponent (no exaggeration), the Reading joke one, and against Macc for a late-ish tackle. I think Shaun’s bookings really do emphasise how almsot laughable some of these referees are.

Mark Braude (106247.1554@compuserve.com)

NEWS SUMMARY

Crucial Weekend

Easter has traditionally been the time when titles have been won and lost, promotion dreams made or broken, and relegation battles decided one way or the other. With six matches to go following this year’s Easter fixtures, it probably won’t resolve anything definitive for City this year. However, the weekend sees two crucial games for City, and by early Monday afternoon, we’ll have a much clearer picture of prospects that we’ll be spared playing at this level again next season. Six points taken from play-off contenders Wigan and automatic promotion chasers Preston would leave hopes of second place intact. Two bad results could raise doubts over the likelihood the Blues will claim even a top-six berth. Anything in-between and a place in the play off lottery becomes by far the most likely outcome. All the other contenders also have two games over the Easter period (spread from Thursday 1 to Tuesday 6 April), so the table could potentially have a very different look to it next week.

Wigan Preview

As with so many visitors to Maine Road this season, Wigan are making the trip for the first time in a league game. However, they’ve graced the hallowed turf twice in cup competitions, first in 1970-71 as a non-league outfit, then in 1982-83 as a lower-division side. Both times City enjoyed top-flight status. In the former game, an FA Cup tie, the great Mercer-Allison side struggled before a Colin Bell goal defeated the brave part-timers. The second occasion was far from a procession, too – after a 1-1 away draw, the Blues made home advantage count with a 2-0 second leg win, both goals on the night coming from Paul Power. The inaugural league game between the clubs, at Springfield Park last October, saw a backs-to-the-wall (or a lucky, depending on your viewpoint) display from City earn a 1-0 win. With Wigan one of the division’s form teams, mounting a determined play-off bid on the back of a run of eight wins in ten games, any victory will no doubt be equally hard fought. However, it would be a major set-back to Wigan’s own ambitions were we to take the points, a fact which, as at Reading last week, would make a win all the sweeter.

Preston Preview

Easter Monday sees a noon kick-off at Deepdale, where the Blues will probably play in front of their second consecutive away gate in excess of 20,000. Again there’ll be a huge City contingent, though many loyal Blues have been unable to pick up tickets despite the fact that the 6,000 we’ve received is treble the normal away allocation at Preston. Others have no doubt been perfecting their best broad Lancastrian accents before calling North End ticket office to book seats in the home areas. I think I’m correct in saying that this will be our first trip to Deepdale since the sixties for a competitive match – of course, we played in last summer’s four-team tournament to celebrate the opening of the new Bill Shankly Kop. Last August, a week before the season began, we managed a 3-2 win over our hosts. A similar result would go down a treat this time – as well as enabling us to haul back ground on a promotion rival, it would be revenge for the 1-0 reverse at Maine Road in October. This will be an unusual game for City this season in that there’s probably more pressure on the opponents than on us. Having been in second place for most of the year, Preston know that Walsall are breathing down their necks, while the gap between them and us will start to look fairly slim should we produce the goods. Let’s hope they can’t take the heat.

New Stadium Doubts Raised in Parliament

The recent rumours surrounding the new Eastlands stadium were raised in the House of Commons on Monday, where the following exchange took place during Oral Questions to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

Mr. Ronnie Fearn (Lib Dem, Southport): Is the Secretary of State aware that, at last week’s meeting of the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport, we were informed that there might be a danger on the site that has been proposed for the Manchester games stadium, because deep mine workings are still in operation underneath that site? A fortnight ago, we visited the site and we were not informed of any difficulties. What will the Secretary of State do about that problem?

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Mr. Chris Smith: I am aware of the issue. A number of former mine workings are near the site of the facilities that are due to be built. All those have been identified, and the stadium and other facilities will be sited in areas that are unaffected.

[Note: Thanks to Thomas McLaughlin for this bit of news]

Cooke – More Speculation

It wouldn’t be a City news summary without a mention of the Terry Cooke loan saga, and there’s been plenty more speculation over the winger’s future in the last few days. Of course, there’s been much talk about how City will raise the cash (though long-standing fan Ken Norman, who received his £3.8 million cheque for a National Lottery win from Joe Royle at Maine Road last week has said he definitely won’t be contributing!). It’s now being claimed that the fee Alex Ferguson is seeking for the winger is in the region of £850,000. The player himself says that if he leaves Old Trafford, Maine Road would be his first choice destination, but that breaking his ties with his first professional club would be a major step for him. He also claimed it would be heartbreaking to return to United and see City win promotion without him, though the irony is that his departure would considerably reduce the likelihood of that happening. Joe Royle, however, seems to be taking a fairly relaxed approach to the issue. At the recent Junior Blues’ sportsman’s dinner, he apparently told one Blue Viewer that everything was “in hand” with regard to the transfer. I, for one, certainly hope so.

Morrison Reprieve

As a man who on more than one occasion been hard done by in dealings with officialdom this season, Andy Morrison could have been forgiven for fearing the worst when crossing the Pennines to face an FA disciplinary tribunal in Sheffield on Tuesday. However, the FA’s wise men must have taken account of the quality of refereeing we’ve had to bear at times. The City captain’s punishment for reaching eleven bookings was a relatively light £400 fine, with the tribunal opting not to extend the big defender’s suspension by an extra game. The verdict means that, after sitting out the home game with Wigan on Saturday, Morrison will be available for Monday’s visit to Deepdale. Joe Royle used the occasion to mount a vigorous defence of his side’s disciplinary record, with City set for a fine in the summer after nine red and more than eighty yellow cards for the boys in laser blue or citrus and navy this term. Affirming once again that City are “not a dirty side”, Joe repeated his claim that some of the referees at this level can’t handle the atmosphere when they take charge of a game involving the Blues. Maybe, though judging from the five games I’ve seen this season, I wonder if rank incompetence isn’t a more likely bet.

Reserve News

Mark Robins’ international clearance came through in time for him to make his first appearance in a Manchester City shirt in the reserves away to Middlesbrough on Wednesday. It wasn’t a glorious début, with Robins failing to score in a 4-2 defeat for the Blues and producing a performance which was distinctly unimpressive in the eyes of the North Yorkshire-based Blue Viewer who posted a match report. Steve Rimmer and Danny Allsopp gave City the lead after they’d fallen behind to an early goal, but three second half strikes from Boro ensured the Blues left empty-handed.

Rush on Season Tickets

As of this weekend, City expect to have sold a staggering 7,500 season tickets. Sales figures are currently running at double the level of a year ago, and it’s expected that over half the ground will be given over to season-ticket holders next season, the first time in City’s history this has ever happened. From memory, last season’s eventual figure was in the 13,000 to 14,000 range, so it appears the club is expecting eventual sales of at least 3,000 more this time round. While this won’t be enough to threaten the best-ever tally of 22,000 in 1977-78, it’s still a remarkable figure. Remember that at the time of the record, City were one of the top sides in the country.

Peter Brophy (brophy_peter@hotmail.com)

ROW Z – A CALL FOR SOME HELP!

Danny Kelly, big cheese at Football 365 and general all round man of media is currently also presenting a half hour football show on the digital channel BBC Choice called ‘Row Z.’ They are going to be at Anfield on Saturday night (3rd April) for a live show and he was looking for four or five Blues to make up part of the live audience.

Any interested parties would need to be there from about 9:30 in the evening and the show goes on air at 11:45 through to 00:15. There’s no fee involved, but there is the opportunity to have a drink or 3 on the BBC. Any interested fans should should get in touch with Howard Johnson at Football 365. His email address is howardj@365.co.uk.

Howard is a Man City fan too, so please get in touch with him if you can make it and he will get things organised.

Thanks – Mark

TICKET NEWS

Gillingham vs. Manchester City, Saturday 17th April

Approximately 1,300 standing tickets for this fixture will go on sale to Regular Season Ticket Holders from 9.00am on Saturday 3rd April. Supporters will require voucher ‘JJ’ from their season ticket books. Full details are available from our website.

Season Ticket Deadline

The deadline for obtaining discount prices is Wednesday 31st March. Supporters are advised to apply for their season tickets as soon as possible to take advantage of these discounts. Applications for the loan scheme can be ontained from the Ticket Office.

Play-off/Home Cup-tie direct debit scheme

Supporters are reminded that they have until April 10th to hand in their application forms if they are to be included for this season’s play-offs.

Ticket Office, Manchester City

MINUTES OF THE MCFC FANS’ COMMITTEE

Minutes of meeting on Monday 8 March 1999

Attending for MCFC: Chris Bird, Bernard Halford and Jack Richards.

Attending for Fans’ Committee: Dave Wallace, Graham Brine, Ian Barton, Mark Bittner, Jackie Heap and Les Saul.

1. Ticket Office Sign

1.1 To purchase a `rolling sign’ – to display match ticket sales information – would cost around £3,500. The Club are considering whether to spend this amount at the present time.
1.2 The old social club building has now been developed inside and will house the Club offices. Bigger, better signs advertising the Superstore will be mounted on the exlerior walls of this building, along with some signs around the ground, when the Club feel the cost is justifiable.

2. New Home Shirt

2.1 At a recent meeting with Kappa, it was decided by mutual agreement that the current three year kit contract should expire 12 months early. It was fell that the Club and Kappa were going in opposite directions. A new kit manufacturer will be found to make next season’s kit. The Club hope to announce more information soon.
2.2 The Club do not feel that letting fans choose between several shirt designs would be a good idea.

3. New Stadium

Talks are going well and more news will be available by end of March/mid April.

4. Season Tickets

4.1 A new loyalty scheme is being developed by the Marketing Department. Hopefully cost will not limit the range of the scheme. Any ideas, contact Steve Sayer c/o MCFC.
4.2 With the increasing numbers of adults sitting in the family stand and abusing the system, admission to this area will closely monitored next season.
4.3 The Club have stated that the Fans’ Commitlee did influence the decision to keep season ticket prices the same as last season. Hey, they do listen!

5. Chairman’s Meeting

As yet there is no date set for the next Fans’ Forum or for the next meeting of the extended Fans’ Committee. The Chairman is very busy seeking new finance for the Club but a date in April has been suggested.

6. Kids for a Quid

The majority of fans feel this is an excellent idea to encourage new and young support. However, if you wish to bring children on a regular basis the purchase of a season ticket would be a good value for money.

7. Supporters’ Groups

The Official Player of the Year event will take place on 10 May 1999. Tickets are available from your local ‘Official’ branches. Branch details are published in the matchday programme. This event is unique and only available to ‘official’ branches, not Centenary branches. This will only change if the two organisations agree to `share’ the event.

8. Transfer Policy

At this present time the Club are looking to loan players with a view to buy rather than to buy them outright. This situation is constantly being reviewed and could change now that the Club are receiving advanced Season Ticket money.

9. Possible Play-Off Place

9.1 If we gain a play off place, fans will need to watch out for information regarding the match ticket sales. Depending on who we would play, away match ticket stubs could be required to ensure your ticket for the away fixture. To claim your home ticket, be prepared to queue or join the Direct Debit scheme.
9.2 For the away fixture versus Bristol Rovers, approx. 1,000 tickets will go on sale. To ensure that the most loyal fans get the tickets, a number of away ticket stubs will be required with the voucher from the regular season ticket book. The number of ticket stubs has not yet been decided but it could range between 12 and 25 stubs.
9.3 The Club expect to receive 1,320 standing tickets for the fixture at Gillingham.
9.4 The cost of play off final tickets will range from £16 to £34.

10. Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Fans’ Committee will be: Monday 12 April 1999, 7.30pm, Oasis Suite, Platt Lane Complex. Any Correspondence to: Stephen Knott, Fans’ Committee Co-ordinator c/o MCFC Maine Road M14 7WN

Many thanks indeed for Les Saul (m02q4800@cwcom.net) for these minutes

MERSEYSIDE MANCHESTER CITY SUPPORTERS’ CLUB

As a Mancunian happily exiled in Merseyside, I have great pleasure in providing details of the recently formed Man City (Centenary) Supporters’ Club branch for the Merseyside area. We now have 28 members and meet once a month in a pub in Birkenhead (currently “The Letters”). The branch is growing slowly and starting to organise transport to home and away games as needed.

As an aside, it is pretty good being a Blue in a city like Liverpool as we have something in common with both Everton and Liverpool! The scousers are in general quite positive towards us Sky Blue ‘mancs’ in their midst, and in fact the reputation of City fans up and down the country is, I perceive, pretty good – so let’s all keep on our best behaviour please.

So any fans in the Merseyside area who would like to join us and generally support the cause are welcome to phone our secretary Wendy Martindale on 0151 678 6799 or Liz Ring on 0151 475 6322. If anyone fancies help setting up a website then please also feel free to chip-in with advice etc.

Our next meeting is on the 28th April, in the function room of “The Letters” pub in Hamilton Square, Birkenhead (excellent ale, by the way) from 8 pm, and guests from the club will be present – all City supporters are very welcome to attend. So be there in the ‘square’ as it were!

PS: Fond regards to MCFC London Branch – I have very happy memories of my time down there (they kept me sane) – top footy team too!

Neil Haigh (nhaigh@relayer.u-net.com)

WOOKIE’S MAN CITY LINKS UPDATED & TG2 PHOTO / VIDEO HEAVEN

I’ve done an overhaul on the Wookie site this week which was long overdue. This past month or so has sadly seen the demise of a few City sites including the famous Mike’s Man City Video Service & both CSA sites.

However, don’t despair because this month has also seen the arrival of 8 great new sites to compensate. Not only this but WonderBlue has taken over the mantle of chief video provider for the Blue Internet public. Well done that man.

On top of this the eagerly awaited Tribal Gathering 2 Photo & Video Heaven pages are now live on my site. 74 photos & 6 videos so far with more to come. So if you fancy a laugh, want to find out what some of us look like or just want to re-live some of the highlights of the general mayhem that was TG2 last November take a look.

The all important link then:

http://www.wookie.u-net.com/city.htm

If you own or are aware of a Man City Web Site that I don’t have on my page please get in touch at the e-mail address below. I’d especially like to hear from the CSA guys if you have just moved it somewhere else & the Chips & Gravy guys. I was sent the link but appear to have lost it in the pile somewhere.

The Wookie (wookie@wookie.u-net.com)

TG2.5 – MINI-GATHERING FOR THE WIGAN MATCH

A number of people who post on the Blue View message board are getting together for a ‘put a face to the name’ / general drinking and having a laugh session both before and after the Wigan match on Saturday.

Festivities will start in the Parkside pub on Lloyd St from 12 noon (if you don’t know where it is, stand with your back to main entrance at Maine Road, walk down any of the small side streets or alleys opposite to the main entrance and turn left – The Parkside is the big pub on the right a few hundred yards down, impossible to miss!). We will be at the back left of the pub and MLI will have some sort of poster saying Blue View on it to guide you in!

Break for the all important 6-pointer against Wigan.

Meet up again in the Parkside post match, before moving on to the Gardeners Arms, a curry (optional) and on into town and later a club for the really enthusiastic amongst you.

It’s going to be a good laugh with a great crowd of your fellow Net Blues to feel free to tag along at any point. You’ll be made most welcome.

See you all on Saturday then…

The Wookie (wookie@wookie.u-net.com)

OPINION – SKY SPORTS

I’m not really one who worries about the Reds (been too long a City supporter), but if anyone wanted proof about what would happen if Sky were allowed to buy United, then they should analyse Sky Sports’ news coverage.

Without exception, there is always a piece on them in the nightly Sports Bulletin. Even if there is no team, transfer, injury etc. news, they can always find a spot for the propaganda. Tonight for instance, we hear that three Argentinean youngsters are spending time at United. And the reason for this? MUtv. Sky carry this channel for United and are spewing out crap after crap material. So as well as having to digest the adverts for MUtv every evening, we also have to take the daily dose of gunge on a supposedly national channel.

So to all those paranoid United fans who scream ‘jealousy’, when Liverpool were at the top, the ‘hatred’ factor was nothing like as intense as it is now for United. Remember that, and why!

Graham Jones (citizen.search@virgin.net)

OPINION – MAN UTD: A CASE AGAINST

The following piece is taken from the Chumbawamba web site – one of their band is a Burnley fan.


Apparently we’re all supposed to stick up for Man Utd when they play European opposition.

Watching Man City thrash Burnley at Turf Moor a few weeks ago (6-0, in case you missed my embarrassment) wasn’t the best couple of hours I’ve spent watching football. The outstanding memory is of an angry, disconsolate, frustrated crowd of Burnley supporters being ridiculed by a singing, jubilant crowd of Man City supporters. Until, that is, the Man City end of the ground struck up an anti-Man U song. For a few brief seconds everyone in the ground agreed on something. We were six-nil down, but at least we agreed on that one thing…

I don’t want Man Utd to win the European Champions’ League. I don’t care about all this “ambassadors for football” guff. I want to see the richest football club in the world – by a mile – get whupped. I want to see Murdoch and all the other investors in Man Utd see their shares plummetting. I want to see the millionaires lose, want to see the kid in Brighton with his Man U shirt on realise that just because his team has the most money, the most advertising, the most merchandise, the most hype, the biggest wage bill, just because of that doesn’t mean they get to win everything.

Manchester United stands for the absolute death of the game. Manchester United is the ultimate corruption of football. The most supported club in the world – the richest club in the world – therefore has to win. It’s a travesty of how football works; the excitement is in the unpredictability, simply not knowing how a team will do. We’ve all seen how Blackburn Rovers have spent almost £20 million in the past six months trying desperately to avoid relegation. Don’t we all want to see that kind of investment crumble in the face of dogged and plucky opposition from the poverty-stricken Southamptons and Charltons of the Premier League?

We’re holding out against a tidal wave of change, change which spells B.I.G.B.U.S.I.N.E.S.S., change which means the death of more and more smaller clubs. Manchester United winning in Europe hurries on that change, because it gives the backers and the financiers and the media moguls the proof they’ve been waiting for- that money in football buys success.

That’s why I’m hoping Man Utd don’t win in Europe. Because I support the idea that football is unpredictable, that given a muddy pitch and a windy Tuesday in January, even Burnley FC could grind out a win against Premiership opposition.

Because football isn’t just a beautiful game, a spectacle put on by great players like a piece of theatre, a ballet – it’s competition. And in competition, once you eliminate the underdog, you’re left with no competition at all.

Paul Banzai-Burns aka Dolphin in a Tutu (PaulBB@msn.com)

OPINION – ODDS AND SODS

I’ve just spent the last week catching up on recent issues of MCIVTA at work and thought that I would give my tuppence worth on various points so, in the words of Led Zeppelin, let me Ramble On

  1. Mark Robins – Mark Robins was on Sky Soccer AM on Saturday from his hotel room in Reading with Michael Brownand others creating a lot of racket in the background. Apparently he had been on the previous week saying that hewanted to come back and play in England so it seems that Joe, along with a lot of other managers, watches the show.Robins made a point of saying that the papers had all got it wrong with respect to the loan deal and that he hadsigned on a free transfer. It appears that he has been given 3 months by JR to prove himself. I, for one, feel thatthis is a much better situation than the Lee Sharpe loan deal. I reckon that Sharpe would have strutted around forthe remaining games on the same money that he’s on at Leeds and, if the unthinkable happens and we don’t getpromoted, he would have just gone back and taken his money in their reserves. At least with Robins we have gotsomeone with something to prove and as he wants to get back to England and the North West in particular, he shouldbust a gut for us over the rest of the season.
  2. PPV – I have read the various comments regarding this subject and, whilst I appreciate being able to see Citywhen I would not normally have been able to because of the poor allocation, tell me why I should have to pay £7.95for the privilege when Gillingham and Bournemouth fans can see next week’s clash without having to fork outanything other than the subs they have already paid.
  3. Paul Dickov – Interesting debate in recent issues. My thoughts on the subject, for what they are worth, arethat he sweats blood for the shirt (which wouldn’t go amiss with some others clad in laser blue) but if you watchhis contribution throughout a game, there is very rarely any end result. Just watch the number of times he givesaway a free kick in and around the opposition’s penalty area (absolutely criminal), takes on one too many defenderswhen there was an obvious pass about twenty minutes earlier and how many times he actually has a shot which is likelyto trouble the scorer.
  4. Shaun Goater – We all know that he isn’t Pele or Johann Cruyff but we also know that he is on target for scoringmore goals in a season than any other Blue in more years than I care to remember. As I’ve said before, if he couldbeat two or three defenders with his stunning pace and then calmly chip the goalie, he wouldn’t be playing for a 2ndDivision team. Let’s face it, if he’d scored 18 goals this season for someone like York or Burnley we’d all beclamouring to sign up the most prolific goalscorer at this level over the last 5 years – check the records!
  5. Century 105 – Anyone who hasn’t caught Jan Molby’s phone in every weekday at 6pm, it is an absolute must – it’sworth it just to hear Jan winding up the Rags and hear them take the bait every time. There are a few toomany whinging Scousers and Rags on it at the moment so let’s increase our contributions. There are one or two regularCity contributors, namely Tony and Smithy, who always come on and have a laugh and always get overly-serious Wiganand Preston fans up in arms. Also, full marks to the young kid who phoned up on Wednesday and said that United shouldlet us have Cooke for free because we let them use Maine Road after OT was bombed! Another facet of the show is theinside stories you hear like when sometimes-host Lou Macari said that Steve Coppell phoned him on transfer deadlineday and literally begged him to take some his players to Sheff. Utd on loan to save on their wages bill. Apparently,one unnamed player is on £12,000 per week (I wonder if that was Bradbury?). Listen in and you won’t be disappointed.
  6. Remaining fixtures – another must is the website mentioned a couple of issues ago which details the remaining fixturesfor the top ten or so clubs – http://www.bluemanc.demon.co.uk/football/remfixt.htm.For those of you without the inclination or the resources the following points stand out:
    1. Assuming that Fulham are already promoted, let’s back Kit Symons & Co to win all their remaining games.They still have to play Wigan, Gillingham, Walsall and Preston (on the final Saturday) and could therefore do us a few favours.
    2. In the final week Wigan have to play on the Saturday, Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. I think that such agruelling schedule will leave them both physically and mentally exhausted and, even if they get into the play-offs,they may have expended too much effort in reaching them to do themselves justice.
    3. Key dates – after this weekend obviously:

      13th April    Bournemouth vs. Walsall
                    Fulham vs. Gillingham
                    Wigan vs. Preston
      The following night sees us at home to Luton and
      gives us the opportunity to take advantage.
      20th April    Preston vs. Walsall (Preston's game in hand)
      8th May       Fulham vs. Preston
                    Stoke vs. Walsall
                    Wigan vs. Chesterfield


  7. The Daily Mirror Eastlands story – I have long stopped believing anything this paper says about our club.I think that the reporting on the Mansfield match shows that there seems to be some sort of hidden agenda re Cityreporting (or is that just me being paranoid?) and that they are eager to stick the knife in regardless of the facts.The number of times that they get their facts wrong in the most basic of stories makes me wonder how much researchactually goes into something like the Eastlands story. The latest example came on Wednesday when they reported onMorrison’s FA hearing saying that “He will miss the crucial promotion clash at high flying Preston on Saturday.”
  8. Oh what fun it is to see City win away – have we really just won 3 on the trot away from home, scoring 10 andconceding only 1 or have I dreamed it all? We’ve actually got a very decent away record now – it’s just a pity that“Fortress Maine Road” is anything but.
  9. I’m still trying to persuade my son Amrik to do an article about his visit to the Players’ Lounge on his birthdaybut he’s more keen to do a Why Blue? even though it’s only content would be “… ’cause my dad made me…”.Has anyone else, like me, felt pangs of guilt for putting their offspring through the trials and tribulations that havemade us all grey haired over the years? He has often in times of despair told me that it is all my fault that he is aCity fan but, all credit to him, there are times over the last few years when I have questioned our continuing attendanceand he hasn’t even entertained the idea of not going. Last season I said to him that if we went down I was not renewingour season tickets and he said to me “Dad, you’re either a City fan or you’re not a City fan” – how can you answer that?I’m sure that, like me, all you parents have had the ribbing about child cruelty and being reported to the NSPCCbut my view is that being a City fan is character building. Let’s face it – can you imagine all these smug little Red bratswho are used to nothing but success going out into the big wide world when they grow up and not being able to cope withtheir first encounters with adversity – at least our offspring will have the mental character to cope.

Anyway, I really am rambling on now so I’ll give somebody else a go.

CTIGCRMAWAGTS (City till I get caught reading MCIVTA at work and get the sack), Jag (j_gill@bigfoot.com)

OPINION – PAY PER VIEW / RAISING THE PROFILE

We’re in the Second Division and we’ve had a lot of Sky coverage. I don’t like Sky particularly but let’s get what coverage we can for now and be thankful for it. Recent contributors are right in saying we get bugger all coverage elsewhere and Sky probably use us, but at least we’re still on live. The Second Division is not the place to be complaining about being on T.V. live. My local, the Gardeners Arms in Offerton, Stockport, had more in that night than England’s two Semi-Final encounters with Germany, it was like being stood up in a packed Kippax, you could hardly see the telly. Roll on Bristol Rovers! Let’s get real and take whatever exposure we can get.

Andy Hopwood (ahopwood@openup.co.uk)

OPINION – SAME OLD ARGUMENTS CROPPING UP AGAIN

Steve Maclean what are you on? OK we need to lose maybe 2-3 more players off the books (especially Taylor) but to try to suggest the squad is too bloated is ridiculous. The club has trimmed the 20+ players off the books since JR took over, how many more do you want to lose? Do you want us to have just a bare 11 and no more. I think the squad is about the right size, it’s the quality we need now. If we did lose any of our ‘fringe’ players then they would have to be replaced by someone else, otherwise we would struggle with injuries, suspensions etc. Do you honestly think JR will get rid of Dickov in favour of keeping Taylor? Dickov would be in my team rather than Taylor anyday!

Andy Noise has brought up the same old argument of ‘If he’s a Rag then don’t support him if he plays for England.’ We’ve heard it all before. If you’re not English then fair enough but when my country plays I’ll support whoever puts that shirt on, even if he is a Rag. Following your argument then we shouldn’t give our support to Kevin Keegan ’cause he is the manager of Fulham.

Personally I don’t think Scholes’ handball was deliberate, but I would be biased to my own country.

Can we have some fresh arguments on here, like is the Chicken Balti pie better than the Meat and Potato? Will Le Coq Sporitf be a good move for the club?

P.S. Martin, the toe is on the mend.

Andy Holgate (andy.holgate@tipeur.ge.com)

OPINION – A QUESTION & COMMENT

I know this has been done before, but can somebody please just clarify for me the exact date of the Division 2 playoff final? Please tell me it isn’t on the 22nd of May as I have a wedding to go to in Scotland, and it would be a tragedy to have to miss such an occasion as the Wembley day out will be (I am already blindly assuming we will be there)!

Also, two other points – firstly should Paul Dickov move to another club (as I suspect he may in the summer if he isn

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