Newsletter #490

A nice, short issue before the weekend activities, obviously as people are waiting to see what comes about this weekend. Nonetheless, the latest news and comments are included to get you in the mood for Saturday.

We’ve got a chance to avenge the poor performance against Lincoln earlier this season tomorrow and on paper we shouldn’t need to turn up to get three points. With City though this cliché is often proven to be wrong. A win tomorrow will hopefully keep some pressure on those above us, as well as moving us closer to at least a guaranteed play-off place. Our destiny is not in our own hands, but 18 more points certainly are.

I beg any of the superstitious members of the list out there to make sure they are wearing the lucky undies/shirt/hat for the next few match days to give us the maximum chance to go straight back up at the first attempt. I’m not one to cause panic, but if we don’t – fans of Preston, Gillingham, Walsall and Bournemouth certainly will be! Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Next game, Lincoln City at home, Saturday 10th April 1999


Set For A Dramatic Conclusion

Well, it’s in the hands of Preston and Walsall, but while there’s a chance we have to keep going. If we did manage to claim all 18 points still up for grabs, Walsall would force a decision on goals scored (currently very close between them and ourselves) by claiming thirteen points from their eight matches while Preston, who are a long way ahead of us in terms of their striking tally, would need 14 from their seven to equal our points total. It’s not impossible that both sides will fall short of these targets and while both would undoubtedly be favourites to finish ahead of us, at least six wins could give us a fighting chance of second place. Even five wins and a draw might make things interesting if, as is hardly unprecedented, both sides become jittery with the finishing post in sight. And, of course Bournemouth and Gillingham may reckon they can still force their way into second spot. However, the number of six-pointers at the top of the table is in our favour – given that there are several fixtures where those four sides are in opposition, they can’t all win all their games.

However, as Jamie Pollock noted in one of his regular rallying calls this week, the first priority has to be to entrench ourselves in a top six position as soon as possible, then worry about a top two place if others have started to falter. And, on an optimistic note, City’s play-off hopes are now looking much more solid than a couple of weeks ago, when more than a few fans were starting to look over their shoulders. By beating Reading, we went a long way towards removing them from the picture, and the process was completed by their two subsequent defeats. Realistically, only Wigan and Stoke, the sides currently in seventh and eighth places offer much of a threat, but even though both have games in hand, they have a hard task to overhaul us. Stoke would need to win both their extra matches to get near us, a difficult task for a team which has become alarmingly erratic in recent weeks. Even then, they’d be two points behind. Wigan’s fine recent form means they’d be a point ahead of us if they won their games in hand, but surely the energy-sapping schedule of nine league games and the AWS final in the space of four weeks will render theirs a Herculean task.

However, I feel our ambitions should be set higher than merely staying ahead of Wigan and Stoke. Four of our remaining games are at home and five are against teams in the bottom half of the table. It’s up to us to make it difficult for the teams around us, and if we fail to claim the big prize, then it’s important for us to go into the play-offs as the form team, having finished third or fourth to guarantee being at home in the second leg of the semi-final. These are realistic aims, and given the opportunity presented by the fixture list, we need to seize it. The one thing we can be sure of is that it will be tense, but anyone who remembers the promotion campaigns of 1984-85 and 1988-89 in the real Division Two will reflect that City have always tended to do these things the hard way. No doubt in the next few weeks we ll be put through the emotional wringer again – hopefully, the eventual outcome will be the same.

Preview – Lincoln At Home

Saturday sees just the type of match which has so often been City’s Achilles heel in recent years, with relegation-threatened opponents visiting Maine Road in a game the Blues will be expected to win. It could be a weakened line-up, too, with fitness doubts over Wiekens, Dickov, Pollock and Edghill. Moreover, visitors Lincoln are no strangers to the infliction of humiliation on our team. Their 5-1 aggregate win against us in a League Cup tie just after our Premiership demise, when they were in the bottom tier of the English game, is arguably our worst Cup performance in our history – an accolade for which there’s plenty of competition. They also managed to beat us at Sincil Bank last October, a result which was their only respite in a horrible run of nine defeats in ten league games. We should have plenty of other incentives, but I can’t be the only Blue who’s looking at Saturday as pay-back time. Lincoln have slipped back into the relegation zone after looking as if they might pull clear, and it’s up to City to show the type of ruthless streak which has often been lacking in the past. Come on, City – give them a taste of the misery they ve given us.

Cooke Deadline Approaching

As has been well documented, the next week will make clear the future of Terry Cooke. When the player joined City on loan, I thought we’d have him for the remainder of the season owing to the new rule allowing a Premiership club to loan out a player under 24 for up to a season to a non-Premiership club, and, at least to my knowledge, United haven’t done so. However, it’s become fairly clear in recent weeks that this isn’t the case – maybe the rule applies only for a loan over a whole season agreed at the beginning of the campaign? At least in just over a week, we’ll be spared the complete and tiresome indifference in the media to anything concerning Manchester City other than whether Cooke will remain at Maine Road. Joe Royle has promised to make serious efforts in the next week to clinch the player’s signing, but the final decision will be the player’s. His comments don’t appear to indicate a desire to play anywhere other than Old Trafford or Maine Road, so it depends on whether he’d rather play in the reserves at United and hope to break through or as Wigan’s Pat McGibbon, his former colleague in the Old Trafford juniors, urges, play first-team football at Maine Road. The rumour is that if City were in the First Division, there’d be no contest but the player wouldn’t fancy playing another whole season at Second Division level, which despite our current optimism is still a definite possibility.

Wiekens Confirmation

I’ve had some corroboration of Fat Bloke’s piece entitled “Some Good News?” in MCIVTA 489, with news that Gerard Wiekens, his girlfriend and parents were recently shown round a property at Eden Park in Cheadle. It certainly looks as if the player is intending to put down roots in the Manchester area, though he could have chosen a better locale – a certain Mark Hughes has two houses he rents to United players in the vicinity. The fact that our Dutch star appears settled is information to which I share Fat Bloke’s reaction. Wiekens has been immaculate on the four or five occasions I’ve seen him play this term, and from the reports of other fans, it’s a trait he’s shown in most of the games he’s played.

Share Price Rises

After feverish speculation a couple of months ago, all’s been fairly quiet on the cash injection front, apart from a brief flurry when Rangers chairman David Murray admitted that he’d held aborted talks with the club before Christmas. However, David Bernstein had already noted that to get the right deal for the club, we may have to abandon hopes of securing fresh funds before the transfer deadline. No pre-deadline agreement materialised, but the whispers are that talks are still ongoing, and this week the share price rose 5p to 95p – generally a sign of optimism. I wouldn’t expect definite developments until the summer, however. Given that it’s too late to influence our promotion prospects, I d expect new investors to wait until this season’s fate is decided – a factor which could significantly influence whether, and on what terms, they’re prepared to invest.

The Sherwood – A Correction

When musing as to the Sherwood’s location, I asked to be corrected if I was wrong. And I was corrected (by several people – thanks, I haven’t had time to answer your messages), because I was wrong. The Sherwood in question is on Claremont Road, and the location has a history as a centre for post-match incidents, mainly owing to a large number of convenient escape routes for protagonists. The reason I originally voiced concern was that I wondered if the reports of innocent Wigan fans being ambushed by City thugs were overplayed and that any Wigan fans involved might also have been looking for trouble. A couple of people have told me that there were definitely City fans keen to kick off on Saturday, and I’ve also been told that, throughout the game, the behaviour of the Wigan fans wasn’t antagonistic. I understand, though, that the Wigan fans in the fracas were not part of the police convoy – a group of 50 or 60 had broken away and were ostensibly more than willing participants.

However, as I’ve already said, there have been a lot of reports of incidents involving City fans this season, and while I’m sure that in some of the cases (such as trouble involving Millwall and Stoke fans), opposing supporters take a hefty share of the blame, I’m not sure this is true in all cases. For instance, I can remember thoughtful and well-written postings on Blue View from Fulham and Gillingham fans who both spoke of genuine menace on their visits to City. I’m not judging because from this distance, all evidence I have is anecdotal. However, I do wonder if those closer to home think these fairly frequent reports are media overkill or whether, as one or two people whose opinions I respect have said to me, it’s something which should give us cause for concern.

After-School Club

Tony Coatsworth already mentioned the MEN article about the Blue Zone after-school club City are operating for local schoolchildren, another example of the club’s excellent community programme. I had a copy of the article sent to me, and when I read about it I wondered how much more numerate I might have become had there been a similar initiative to use the league tables to boost maths skills 20 or 25 years ago. I think I’d have responded to the incentives on offer for successful pupils, too, with free match tickets and visits from favourite players among the rewards. On the other hand, the prospect of free match tickets last season might have been the most effective possible barrier to the educational progress of even the most promising pupil!

Peter Brophy (


Manchester City must win our remaining games and of course improve on the home record to do that (City can do it).

Other fixtures to keep an eye on:

              April 10th
        Colchester vs. WALSALL
      Macclesfield vs. PRESTON
              April 13th
       Bournemouth vs. WALSALL
             Wigan vs. PRESTON
              April 17th
           WALSALL vs. Macclesfield
           PRESTON vs. Blackpool
              April 20th
           PRESTON vs. WALSALL

If City win their games and Macclesfield for one could help City, anything could happen in these important games, City could still make it for automatic promotion but needs help in the above games.

It appears on paper that the biggest game City have is at Gillingham, but let’s not underestimate the games at home, it’s Wembley to these other clubs who seem to raise their game at Maine Road.

Let’s really cheer them on in the last important games of the season. Come on you Blues!

New Stadium Name

I feel sure that Mr Bernstein and the rest of the board have already thought of what I am about to say. Most fans have come up with a name for Eastlands, the most popular being Joe Mercer Stadium, however maybe with City needing funds so badly how about letting a sponsor use a name for some well needed cash? e.g. Bolton have the Reebok stadium. Now that it seems as if we will have a kit from “Le Coq Sportif” I can not see any City fan wanting to say I am going to “Le Coq Sportif Stadium” next Saturday.

There could still be a sponsor out there with a decent name with cash to help the cause (not to say anything bad about the new kit name, Cock Of The North). One of the Stands should be named after the great Joe Mercer and we should not forget a man who has dedicated most of his life to City, Roy Clarke. As a player in the 50’s and as a successful manager of the social club (yes we had a good club when he was in charge), we all miss the social club that was voted on more than one occasion as the best in Britain. Here’s to Roy Clarke.

CTID, Ernie Barrow (and a City fan partly because of Roy Clarke playing for City)


As any City fan would be, I am accustomed to being very fatalistic about anything to do with City, whether we’re playing against Luton Town or Lyme Regis I expect us to lose. The positive side to this is that when we do win I am twice as pleased as I might have been by assuming that we were going to walk it. I am the same with England, even when we went 2-1 up against Argentina I never thought we would actually win. Watching England is almost as painful as watching City. I have only just started hating Tottenham less for the Cup Final defeat of 1981, although for that same reason I still want Newcastle to stuff them big time in the semi-final.

My grudge list at a domestic level is quite short:

  1. Man Utd – for 1,000’s of reasons
  2. Tottenham – for the 1981 Cup Final
  3. Arsenal – who seemed to be our main bogey team of the 70’s
  4. Fulham – for trying to stop us getting automatic promotion
  5. Walsall – for trying to stop us getting automatic promotion
  6. Preston – for trying to stop us getting automatic promotion
  7. Bournemouth – for trying to stop us getting automatic promotion
  8. Gillingham – for trying to stop us getting automatic promotion
  9. Wigan – for trying to stop us making the play-offs
  10. Stoke – for trying to stop us making the play-offs

Apart from the above as long as they don’t get in our way I don’t care what they do.

However, going back to being fatalistic, things have changed since Bernstein and JR started plugging holes and I have to say that reading some of the comments from other Blues in MCIVTA and unofficial mcfc websites I find a lack of optimism. City now have the best manager they have had since Peter Reid, a very good chairman (I have faith) and an improving squad. True some of the players need smelling salts, others are f***wits or pure s***e but I do believe that we have turned the corner. The donkeys in the squad will be cat food once JR has got some money to play with.

Looking at the fixtures of the teams who have games in hand over us (i.e. all our close rivals) makes interesting reading and it is pretty clear that second place is now looking out of reach but I have no doubts that City will finish in the play-offs because of the clashes between some of our close rivals and I see us maintaining our form for the next six games.

I know the rest of the country is astounded that City still has any fans after what the club has put us through and that we have no shortage of reasons for giving people a hard time but it could possibly relieve some pressure on the players, especially at this late stage of the season if we give them a bit more space. With four out of the last six games at home they will feel under greater pressure than if those games were away.

Peter Abbott (


Folks: I have been given a hardback copy of “Blue Heaven – Manchester City’s Greatest Games”. It’s a good book but I’ve already got it – so now I have a copy to give away.

Yes you read that correctly – give away, because I don’t want to sell it. I’ll give it to the person who sends me the most convincing reason why they should have it. Potential winning ideas might be:

  • For a son or daughter’s forthcoming birthday?
  • Some extremely novel and interesting (but honest) reason?
  • Or maybe a swap offered for a City-related souvenir of some sort?

If the winning email is convincing enough I’ll even pay the postage to send it to you. But here are some alternative options for collection of your prize – please state preference when writing!

  • Post.
  • Collect it personally – I live in Towcester, England.
  • I’m probably going to the York game on May 8th, so could meet up there.

Steve Maclean (

(Thanks for this Steve! – MV)


London Blues will be getting together in Terry Neill’s Bar in Holborn for the Bristol Rovers game on Saturday 1st May. I rung up to find out if it was going to be on, and apparently they had the last one on against Colchester, so it will be shown (subject to confirmation by the big man himself). If you’d like to come along please e-mail me and I’ll give you the info on how to get there, etc. We had a really good turnout there last time we went (about 50 Blues packed in like sardines – very noisy!).

Alex Bracey (


For those of you who aren’t aware there is a good football site with form guides etc. on:

Please, please, please let us get promotion.

Tim J (


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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]Mark Varley,

Newsletter #490