Newsletter #511

A bit of a thin issue, this one. Opinion regarding ‘Munich’ songs and some lively banter concerning ‘ex-Rags’. Can’t be bothered thinking about them, myself.

Please note the requests for help concerning recordings of the Wembley final and a special request for photographs from City fans who were at the game.

One of you has a smashing ‘Why Blue’ for me. Please send it in. Now is the time. Yes, you!

CTID, Steve Biddick

Next game: Burnley away, Saturday 17th July 1999


No News Is… A Cue for Supposition and Gossip

As recent news summaries have indicated, there’s currently very little to report from Maine Road which exists outside the imagination of tabloid sportswriters. The new sponsors have been announced, while we already knew about the change in kit manufacturer before last season ended. The date for the launch of the new home strip is currently being quoted as 11 July (though I haven’t seen official confirmation of the fact). There are rumours about the design, the consensus being that it’s a laser blue with white stripes down the sleeves and the badge in the middle. However, it will be another three weeks or so before we know for certain exactly how the Blues will look in the next campaign. The most significant development in the next few days will probably be Thursday’s publication of the fixture lists for the 1999-2000 season.

There’s no word on City’s prospects of sealing a cash injection in time for the new season. However, chairman David Bernstein has gone on record as saying that irrespective of the outcome of any negotiations with investors, cash will be available for team strengthening. The refusal to meet Lee Sharpe’s wage demands shows that prudence will continue to be a watchword, but it seems clear that at least a couple of new faces will have been added to the squad by the time the new campaign kicks off.

Joe Royle’s continued absence on holiday means there’s unlikely to be any transfer activity in the next week or so. Without anything concrete to report, the hacks appear happy to pluck names out of a hat in the knowledge that sooner or later, the right connection will be made. Their job is made easier by the fact that the areas Joe wishes to strengthen are pretty much common knowledge. The failed moves for Roger Nilsen and Lee Sharpe indicate that the left-hand side of the team is a priority, with signings of both a left back and a left winger on the cards. Meanwhile, it was no secret that Royle wanted to add to his complement of strikers last season. Mark Robins was signed on a short-term contract, but his failure to earn an extended deal means that the vacancy is probably still open.

In Our Sights: Possible Signings

The reported favourite for the left back slot is Sheffield Wednesday’s ex-Maine Road loanee Lee Briscoe. Certainly, news of Briscoe’s availability coincided with the club’s admission that interest in Newcastle’s Carl Serrant has been dropped – and it doesn’t appear impossible that the two facts are linked. Another who may come into consideration is reckoned to be Preston’s Dominic Ludden, while it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Benfica’s Steve Harkness mentioned in connection with a move to Maine Road. Ludden is a 25-year-old formerly with Orient and Watford, and is particularly noted for his pace. However, North End are adamant that they’ll be keeping hold of their best players with a view to pushing for promotion next time round. In the light of this, it probably wouldn’t be a good sign if they’re prepared to do business! Ex-Liverpool player Harkness is one of the British contingent being shown the door at Benfica following the demise of coach Graeme Souness.

Further forward down the left, no new names have been mentioned over the last few days. Unlike Wolves and Huddersfield, City haven’t publicly declared an interest in Bolton’s Scott Sellars but Monday’s Manchester Evening News reckons the Blues’ desire to secure the 33-year-old’s signature was genuine. Whatever, the latest is that Sellars is expected to sign for Huddersfield in the next couple of days. West Ham’s Stan Lazaridis, meanwhile, is still reckoned to be the favoured target but with the player currently on his honeymoon, no progress is imminent on this front. It certainly seems credible that the Blues would fancy adding Lazaridis to the squad, though agreeing a fee with the Hammers and personal terms with the player may not be a formality.

David Johnson still seems to be rated as Royle’s top striker target, though there are conflicting reports as to Ipswich’s willingness to sell their top scorer. One source recently claimed that the Suffolk club’s manager George Burley reckons the player has trebled in value since arriving at Portman Road less than two years ago. Ipswich paid Bury £1.1 million for the ex-Manchester United junior, and if Burley has been quoted accurately, his valuation would appear to kill any chance of a deal. Meanwhile, Maine Road has been touted as a possible destination for Dean Saunders, another man ending an unhappy Portuguese sojourn at Benfica. These rumours no doubt owe much to Joe Royle’s known admiration for Saunders, but, at 35 years of age, the Welsh international has his best days behind him – his wouldn’t be a signing which offers long-term promise. Meanwhile, Everton striker Michael Branch, on loan at Maine Road last season and according to some rumours a possible signing this summer, has been bound over for six months in the sum of £100 following what’s described as a “drunken incident” in Liverpool city centre.

There have also been one or two links relating to other areas of the team. Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy is still reckoned to be a target – as an Englishman, he obviously has little chance of figuring in Gerard Houllier’s new era at Anfield. However, Derby County’s interest in the player substantially reduces the prospects of his joining City’s bid for the Premiership – it’s reckoned he’d prefer to move to a club which is already there. Meanwhile, Preston centre-back Michael Jackson has again been linked with a move to Maine Road. After the Lancashire club splashed a club-record fee on Birmingham striker Nicky Forster, it was claimed that Jackson could be sacrificed to help fund the deal. However, North End manager David Moyes has again rejected claims he could be looking to cash in on his captain.

Facing the Axe: The Men Who May Make Way

Of course, speculation over new signings immediately raises questions over the fate of players who may make way for them. For instance, Joe Royle has said that the acquisition of a specialist left-back would see Richard Edghill switch to the right, a berth filled by Lee Crooks in the second half of last season. However, the City boss is on record as saying that he rates Crooks highly, and that the player could be given a run in the centre of defence or in midfield. Meanwhile, if an out-and-out winger is signed to play down the left, Kevin Horlock will be competing for a rôle in the centre of midfield, one of eight players fighting for the two starting places.

Given that the manager and chairman have both emphasised repeatedly the importance of keeping the squad to a manageable size, outgoing transfers for at least a couple of the eight look inevitable. The smart money is on Jamie Pollock and Jim Whitley: the manager has publicly expressed his faith in Crooks; Horlock represents City’s most reliable source of midfield goals; Michael Brown established himself as a regular last season; Jeff Whitley came off the transfer list in time to take part in the play-offs; Ian Bishop figured more prominently as the season progressed; and Gary Mason is an obvious favourite of the manager. However, though Pollock and the elder Whitley look set for the Maine Road exit door, there’s been no speculation as to clubs interested in their respective signatures.

Up front, the future looks bleak for Craig Russell and Alan Bailey, both of whom have failed to make a lasting impression on the first-team squad. However, this still leaves Shaun Goater, Gareth Taylor, Danny Allsopp and Paul Dickov competing for two places, while Joe has also been impressed by youth-teamers Shaun Wright-Phillips and Leon Mike. It seems likely that a new arrival up front would signal a further departure in addition to Russell and Bailey – signing a new striker without offloading another would kill off the youngsters’ hopes of forcing their way into contention. This would surely go against the grain, with Joe known as a manager keen to give his juniors every opportunity to break through.

Allsopp appears to be rated by the management as a player of real promise, while Dickov ended the season with a run of seven goals in eight games. Arguably, then, the end of the Manchester City road may be nigh for either Gareth Taylor (who was unable to hold down a starting place after signing from Sheffield United) or top scorer Shaun Goater (who managed ten goals in two months at the beginning of the season but only found the net eleven more times in the campaign’s seven remaining months). Goater is rated the more likely to be moving on because he’s never made his mark in the higher divisions. Moreover, his tally of 21 goals last term is reckoned to make him a saleable asset. The former Bristol City man attracted interest before the turn of the year from Charlton, while his pedigree as a lower-division goalscorer has more recently been at the root of rumours he could be on his way to Brentford or back to Ashton Gate.

A Case of Wait and See

With the season due to kick off on August 7, it looks like July will be a busy month for transfer activity (both incoming and outgoing) at Maine Road. Consequently, though the timing of our fixture commitments will be clear within 72 hours, the precise composition of the line-up likely to fulfil the opening fixtures will be subject to considerable conjecture for some time yet.

Peter Brophy (


Greetings Ashley,

The singing of so-called Munich chants is an insult and affront to all genuine City and Rag supporters. It is a yob activity designed to wind-up Rag yobs. Let me qualify.

One of our greatest legends, Frank Swift, perished in the Munich air disaster. The big man, whose playing career was disrupted by the war years, was a fixture in the England goal. Imagine drawing a modern parallel and the same fate befalling one of our modern legends. It is unimaginable that true Blues would get involved in this mindless activity. I’m convinced that Munich chanting is carried out by morons who are unaware of what that dreadful accident was all about, for the benefit of those morons who are easily goaded. Most of the people at the source of the chants, and those who feel themselves the target were not even born when the accident occurred.

For the benefit of those of us who were around at the time of the accident, regardless of which camp you are in, let me quote an extract from a current replica shirt folder in my possession. It puts Munich, for me, in another perspective:-

“TORINO 40’s… On 4 May,1949 one of Italy’s greatest ever club sides was wiped out in an horrific plane crash over Turin, leaving no survivors. Torino had completed 5 successive championships up to 1949 and provided no fewer than 10 players for Italy’s game against Hungary in 1947.”

Met vriendelijke groeten, Kippax Exile – Dave Lyons (


At the lowest point in the club’s history the board decide to appoint a man named Joe as their new manager. Having spent two years away from the top flight and with that lot across the road dominating, the low profile chairman decided enough was enough and the club needed to be kick-started again. Joe, a former Everton player, approaching the more mature part of his life, inherits a team going nowhere fast, but with the help of a younger and highly rated coach, and a focus on fitness he begins to lay the foundations for success. He develops a team spirit, has a dignified, sometimes fatherly, manner and is clearly respected by all within the club. He brings in some uncut gems which give the fans something to cheer about for a change. After a short time success arrives and the club get promoted. Then… well it all depends on how you’re reading this. Either it’s 1966, the manger is Joe Mercer and we go on to win the League two years later followed by the FA Cup, the ECW Cup and the League Cup and dominate the Red half of Manchester, regularly beating their supposedly “world beating” side… or it’s 1999, the manager is Joe Royle and we go on to get another promotion, win the League, dominate United and conquer Europe (why not?)!

I’d just like to add to this that I have been reading Manchester, the Greatest City recently and I’ve just read chapter 13 (1965-1968) and it’s quite eerie the parallels that are apparent. Here’s a few snatched quotes:

“As it was, the campaign was settled with City in their lowest ever end-of-season position to that date”;

“Even though City were in the Second Division they were a huge club” (Mike Summerbee shortly after signing);

“When they arrived in Manchester they quickly became aware of how dire the situation was. The club had lacked direction for some time and across the city United were dominant. The Blues’ supporters had grown tired of playing second fiddle to the Reds and Malcolm Allison quickly became aware of how miserable life had become: ‘United quickly became an object of hatred to me when I moved to the city. I loathed the bumptious, patronising tones of their players, their hangers-on, and many of their supporters. It became a challenge to me when I drove past city parks and saw ninety per cent of them wearing red shirts’. Allison’s feelings intensified when his son, Mark, was picked on by an older United supporter who wanted to teach him a lesson for having a father who worked for ‘that useless team City’“;

“The two men arrived at City when the club was in its worst ever state”;

“Nevertheless the two men were beginning to give the Manchester folk what they needed most of all – pride. For years it had been embarrassing supporting the Blues, especially with United doing so well, and City’s followers had suffered considerable ribbing. Now, as Mercer and Allison stamped their influence on the club, City supporters walked taller and wore their scarves with pride. Crowds had increased and for the occasional game actually bettered title challenging United”;

“at United’s Championship banquet, he (Allison) had been forced to take part in a bet with Pat Crerand, the man recalled by City fans for his part in the relegation battle of 1963. According to Allison, Crerand stated that City were a dying club and the Blues would never again attract an attendance of over 30,000 at Maine Road”

I could go on but I picked these out as I was surprised (I wasn’t born until 1969) by the story they tell. I always thought our past was full of glory, that the recent years have been by far and away the worst, and that United are so far in front we will never catch them. It gives me hope to see that fans in the late sixties also felt this way, and yet we did turn the corner, we did match them and even overhauled them, and most importantly we won things! I know money plays a bigger part these days but as Liverpool have proved (and Blackburn/Wolves/Birmingham etc.) it can’t buy you success unless you have the right man in the manger’s job. Let’s all hope ours has many years left in him and theirs retires soon! Roll on the new season, City are going up again!

Elaine Clegg


Are we willing to eat humble pie or do we follow our own path?

Re: Peter Abbot’s piece in MCIVTA 510 on signing ex-Rags:

I agree totally mate, we don’t want a load of bloody Un***d rejects, the rest of the fans would go apes**t. We don’t want a load of outcasts and f***-ups, we want good quality players that can take us forward. Real s*** as you call him would on for about another year before he gets injured again…



Sorry Peter, but that argument doesn’t hold.

Our top scorer last season was an ex-Rag, as is their new goalie.

Giggs and Butt are ex-Blues, so was their most successful manager ever!

City and United have always had a healthy disregard for each other – and long may that continue, but before we’re back competing with the t**ts, I’m afraid we’re going to have to grin and bear it. And that means exactly “the best player for the job”!

We’ll get there mate, and all the sweeter when we do d*** ’em (again).



Does anybody have a radio copy of “The Game” that I could have a copy of? It was covered by GMR but when I contacted them I was told that they don’t reproduce any of their material as it would be too expensive!

Many thanks, CTID, Lee Moreton (


Anyone know if the City tape has been made available in a format that US video players can read? PAL will not do over here. If City has done this then I’ll buy it from City but if not then if anyone has a US capable tape please let me know.

Wallace Poulter (


Just to let people know, well those who can get to Manchester anyway, that the video is available at the City Store (Birthdays) on Market Street for the bargain price of £12.99 – thus saving £1.00 on City price and the usual p&p.



An answer for Daniel Marcus. I remember that Colin Bell chant from the days when the visiting team would always warm up in front of the noisier Platt Lane end of the Kippax and were routinely asked who the f***ing hell they were as their ‘welcome’ to Maine Road. Ahhhh, the nostalgia. Usually, the chant would end with people muttering that it could do with a proper ending. Good point, Dan.

What are the odds on the revival of “Karma-Karma-Karma-ka-Man-City, we’re going up…”? Unless Jim Tolmie haircuts return with it. There was even KC and The Sunshine Band… “Nanana etc. City’s going up, going up, Ciiitty’s going uuu-up.” This, however, was so lame that the person who came up with it was exiled to Old Trafford as punishment. He is believed to have been responsible for an effort about David May to the tune of Jesus Christ Superstar. Some rehabilitation…

Some news, for those who give a t**s: Palmeiras won the Libertadores Cup. This makes Palmeiras the team who’ll be facing The Thing in Tokyo. I’ll admit that it would have been a more amusing proposition had Deportivo Cali made it through instead, given Cali’s preference for gratuitous violence and cheating in the two legs of the Libertadores final.

Palmeiras, in the end, failed to win their own treble. Botafogo put them out of the Brazilian Cup last Friday. Two days later, they had to play Corinthians in the first leg of the final of the Sao Paulo state championship, only three days prior to the Libertadores final second leg. Key players were rested and Corinthians, Palmeiras’ greatest rival, won 3-0. The “verdao” are quite unpopular in Brazil, and are nicknamed ‘The Pigs’ for a reason I still haven’t found out. When Parmalat sponsored them, the club changed the shade of their green shirts when the company ‘asked’ them to. They only qualified for the Libertadores Cup as Brazilian Cup winners. I am more of a Corinthians fan here. Corinthians entered the competition as Brazilian Champions and were knocked out in the group stages by Palmeiras, so the idea of it having to be either The Pig or The Thing becoming World Club Champion is not something I relish.

It might appear inappropriate to concentrate on this when we’ve gone up, but I’ve so far enjoyed Alan Green’s edited reactions to the four goals via World Service and sod all else, not even a photograph of the celebrations. If the people in Manchester who’ve been replaying it every day still can’t get their heads round it, then I don’t believe that any of this took place at all and it’s all a side-effect of pinga, the potent Brazilian sugar cane moonshine. However, I have had weeks of hearing Brazilian commentators talking of the honour of playing against ‘manches-nite’ as they pronounce it here.



I sympathise with your predicament and feel for you and your poor delusional child. But you’re scaring me! Living 200 miles plus away from the Academy I am surrounded by plastic Rags so your insight into the possible future is frightening! I am now concerned that someone from the ‘dark side’ could influence my son. He’s 2 and a bit and is keen on wearing his City top as much as possible. He answers the question, “Who do you support?” with “CITY” and a big grin. I’ve done as much as I can to keep him Blue, Junior Blue member, kit, favourite colour is blue, etc. Can anyone calm this stressed dad and tell me that it will be okay?

CTIKMSFBAR (City till I kill my son for becoming a Rag), Kelvin Stephens (


I am looking for a photo (or photos!) of my niece, a 10 year old brunette girl who had the new City crest painted on her face, wings on her cheeks (bells on her toes?!), stars on her head, banner on her chin…

There were 5 photos taken of her that we know of, one being on Wembley Way whilst she was on my shoulders; unfortunately, we haven’t got a single photo of her, and at present she is quite upset (as are we!).

If anyone could help us in tracking down any of the photos taken, I will pay for the copy, and delivery of it.

Thanking someone in advance(?!), we were in block 214, row 27.

Cheers, see-ya in Div 1! Jason Kilvert (


Contributions: Steve Biddick –
News & Rumours: Peter –
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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]Steve Biddick,

Newsletter #511