Newsletter #550

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With the return of the execrable Ball and the hapless Bradbury, it seemed inevitable that Portsmouth would turn us over, especially once Bradbury scored. So it’s a further sign of the parallel universe we’re inhabiting that, not only did we defy fate, but we twice fought back from behind and Taylor scored.

If we can get this far playing poorly, we might be quite good when the defence and attack play well at the same time.

Next game: Queens Park Rangers away, Saturday 6th November 1999

NEWS SUMMARY

Taylor Brace Caps Second-Half Revival

City’s 4-2 Maine Road win over Portsmouth on Wednesday restored the Blues’ lead at the top of Division One to six points. Twenty-four hours previously, Charlton’s win at Crewe had cut the gap between the Londoners and Joe Royle’s men to three points and it looked like the position might stay unchanged as City trailed 1-0 at the break to a 6th minute goal from former Blue Lee Bradbury. And even though Jeff Whitley levelled shortly after the restart, it still appeared that returning ex-City manager Alan Ball might have the last laugh when Dane Thomas Thorgerson fired Pompey back into the lead on 57 minutes. However, an unlikely hero then intervened as City once again produced a second-half rally. The much-criticised Gareth Taylor was the man who turned the match on its head with two goals in the space of three minutes before Jamie Pollock’s last-gasp effort finally killed off the south coast side. Joe Royle was satisfied with his team’s display but was slightly concerned with a defensive performance which was rather less assured than usual – a state of affairs he ascribed to the injury-enforced absence of his captain. “I thought we were all over the show at times,” reflected the City manager. “Richard Jobson and Richard Edghill were terrific throughout defensively, but as a unit we weren’t just there at times. We were smashing balls into our own players and we probably missed the talking influence of Andy Morrison more than anything else. That’s what Andy gives us.”

No Violence on Ball’s Return

Any fears for Alan Ball’s safety were soon eased on Wednesday evening and it was a see-saw match rather than security concerns which grabbed the attention. Not surprisingly the Pompey boss was the target of some chants described as “lewd” by Radio 5 Live reporter Alan Biggs, but pre-match speculation that Ball’s reception might be marked by physical as well as verbal abuse thankfully proved wide of the mark. And the former City manager even joined in the banter, standing up in the directors’ box and removing his trademark cap when the City fans broke into a chorus of, “Are you watching, Alan Ball?” following the fourth goal. “I came here and tried my best but it didn’t work out for me,” said Ball of his year at Maine Road. “Football is like that. I was treated very well when I was here. I still have a lot of friends here. It is good to see the buzz back at the place, it is a great place to come to and play football.” However, he was frustrated that his current team didn’t puncture the current City euphoria after they’d been in a winning position with less than 25 minutes of the match remaining. “I am glad my team gave a good account of themselves,” he admitted, before pinpointing the player responsible for their eventual demise. “You can never afford to think the game is over but, apart from Mark Kennedy, I couldn’t see where City were going to score from. In the end he was our undoing.”

Royle Lists Reluctant Brown

Midfielder Michael Brown has been placed on the transfer list by City manager Joe Royle. Brown has figured only once in the starting line-up this season and was concerned when he didn’t even make the bench at Port Vale last weekend even though team plans had been disrupted by a number of injuries and suspensions. Despite being a regular in the last six months of last season’s promotion campaign, Brown has now fallen behind Kevin Horlock, Jeff Whitley, Ian Bishop and Jamie Pollock in the queue for a midfield place. And with the likes of Jim Whitley and Gary Mason also in the squad, Royle sees the ex-England under-21 man as surplus to requirements. “Michael came to see me on Friday and we both agreed to take the weekend to think about things,” explained the City manager. “We have spoken since and he is disappointed that he hasn’t had a chance this season. He did well in the second half of last season but competition has increased. Jamie came in and did well at Port Vale on Saturday and there is no doubt that we have too many midfield players at the moment.” Meanwhile, the player’s reaction seems to leave little doubt that the impetus for his transfer listing came from Royle. “I didn’t ask to go on the list and I don’t want to leave,” said Brown. “I’m disappointed the way things have turned out after such a good season for me helping get the club out of the Second Division.”

Killen Stars as Reserves Beat Grimsby

City reserves beat Grimsby Town at Hyde’s Ewen Fields on Tuesday courtesy of youngsters Rhys Day, who scored two goals, and Chris Killen, who went one better with a hat-trick. The City side included Jim Whitley, Lee Crooks, Gary Mason, Michael Brown and Terry Cooke but all were overshadwed by New Zealander Killen, who made a spectacular début at reserve level. Slack City defending allowed Grimsby to take the lead after only seven seconds, but the Blues then went on the attack and led 3-1 at the break thanks to two goals from Killen and one from Day. City contuinued to dominate in the second period, and Killen completed his hat-trick before the Mariners reduced the arrears. Day restored City’s three-goal advantage, after which the Blues relaxed to allow Grimsby an injury-time consolation. New signing Lee Peacock didn’t figure in the City line-up.

Wright-Phillips to be Rested After Impressive Start

Killen was given his chance because of the emergence into first-team contention of another Academy boy, Shaun Wright-Phillips, who earned the praise of manager Joe Royle for his contribution in the seniors as a substitute at Port Vale. “He did well on Saturday when he came on for the forty five minutes,” said Royle. “Arguably him and Ian Bishop helped us play in the second half, because we had been dismal in the first half. It is nice to see one of your own come through and it is a big feather in the cap for the Academy.” His performance at Vale Park earned Wright-Phillips a first senior start against Portsmouth and again the youngster’s efforts before his 76th-minute substitution pleased his manager, though the City boss is also aware of the need not to push his emerging star excessively at this stage. “The little fellow is smashing. He got a little bit tired and it was hard for him on a big pitch in a big game like that,” said Royle of Wright-Phillips’ midweek contribution. “If possible we will give him a rest when we can, we won’t do too much with him. He will still be involved on Saturday, but we have to fair to the kid.”

Dadason Keen on City Move

Reported City target Rikhadur Dadasson has said in a Norwegian newspaper interview that he is “very, very excited” at the prospect of a transfer to Maine Road. The Icelandic striker has been strongly linked with Scottish side Hearts, but has misgivings about the move and would prefer to join the Blues. Sheffield United have already had a £500,000 bid for Dadason turned down, with his club Viking Stavanger holding out for £1 million. Another barrier to any possible deal is Stavanger’s UEFA Cup involvement, though this obstacle would be removed if the Norwegians are eliminated by Werder Bremen on Thursday. Meanwhile, another player on Joe Royle’s list of potential recruits, Gillingham’s Robert Taylor, returned from injury as a second-half substitute against Bristol City on Tuesday and scored a spectacular hat-trick. Royle has already admitted interest in the player, but a stumbling block could be the fee, with the Gills said to want in excess of £2 million for the 28-year-old front man. Taylor was quoted on Thursday as saying he’s “very happy” at the Kent club. Finally, if Royle elects to move for Stan Collymore, whose virtues the City manager has recently extolled in the most glowing of terms, he’s likely to face competition from one of the striker’s former clubs. Nottingham Forest manager David Platt is said to be keen on signing Collymore as a replacement for Ian Wright, who recently ended his loan spell at the City Ground and moved to Celtic.

Call-ups Force County Date Change

City’s home match against Stockport County has, as expected, been moved from its original date of Saturday, 13 November and will now take place on Tuesday, 7 December with a 7.45 p.m. kick-off. The Blues have several players on international duty on the original date, and opted to call off the game as soon as news of Mark Kennedy’s selection for the Republic of Ireland squad ensured the club would have enough absentees to be entitled to request a postponement. Director Chris Bird commented, “The game was always going to be in doubt despite the best efforts of the two clubs. We had confirmation of Mark’s call-up late last night [Tuesday] and our manager wants all members of the squad available for selection.”

Third Kit Set for Loftus Road Début?

The Blues make their second of this season’s four away trips to the capital on Saturday when they take on Queen’s Park Rangers at Loftus Road, a fixture invariably attended by an excellent City following. The West London venue has been the scene of five City victories in the 1990s but the last visit ended in a disappointing 2-0 defeat in front of the Sky cameras. It was a game memorable mainly for the team’s unexpected appearance in a yellow and black kit which was used on several further occasions in the 1997-98 season but never went on public sale. And as City’s current home and away kits both clash with Rangers’ blue and white hoops, it’s thought that the team will also wear a new kit on Saturday. It’s long been speculated that this season’s third strip will become next season’s away kit and that it will revert to a design based on the red and black worn in the late sixties and early seventies. Hopefully the return of what many fans regard as the classic City away kit will inspire the Blues in what looks likely to be a tough fixture. After avoiding relegation last term only on the closing day of the season, many QPR fans expected another struggle for their team this time round. In fact, manager Gerry Francis has inspired Rangers to eighth place, and with 24 points from 15 games they’re only a point off the play-off places. They’re also unbeaten at home, while City have an impressive fourteen points from eight games on their travels, so an exciting game should be in prospect.

Leeson Banking on Promotion

Having returned to Britain after his release from a Singapore jail, notorious ‘rogue trader’ Nick Leeson is back watching Manchester City. And he’s a conspicuous figure among fellow fans. Leeson told the Manchester Evening News last week that he’d been approached by autograph hunters with an interesting request. “I was in a bar in Manchester after watching City and these people wanted me to sign their programmes,” he recalled. And the message he was asked to provide along with his signature? ‘You can bank on City for promotion!’

Peter Brophy (brophy_peter@hotmail.com)

MATCH REPORT ‘LIVE’

PORT VALE vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 30th October 1999

A day of mixed fortunes, all working out in the end, thankfully. Got to Burslem in good time, aided by the excellent directions for a different route than usual, given in the last programme. Easy parking just beyond the ground and outside the excellent ‘Park’ Pub. A good mixture of fans, big screen TV, and I missed the first (and second) of several heavy downpours. As I approached my seat in the ground, I got that feeling that I’ve really only had twice before: “oh, oh, it looks like a dodgy seat”.. My seat at Vale Park was one of the worst in our end. I was sat at that ‘sweet spot’ (sic) where the crossbar of the goal at our end obscures a sizeable chunk of the other goal and the pitch. I’m usually pretty lucky with seats. I once had a very similar vantage point at Oldham a few years ago, but the worst ever seat I’ve had a ticket for was at the Crystal Palace Coca Cola Cup game a few years ago (we lost 4-0) where my full priced seat was absolutely smack bang behind a post, which if you did not move would have resulted in seeing less than 10% of the pitch. Luckily there were plenty of spare seats on that occasion. Perhaps other subscribers have stories about ‘dodgy seats’?

The other ‘problem’ was that sat next to me was a very friendly, nice old gentleman, with whom I had a decent conversation before kick off and at half time about tactics etc. However, during the game he insisted on giving me a running commentary and opinion on virtually every kick! I don’t mind the odd comment / mini discussion on salient points during the game, but for goodness sake…!

Anyway, when the teams ran out, again I felt down. Surely JR wasn’t going to play the unsuccessful and boring 4-5-1 formation that he experimented with at Burnley away? Yes he was. And where was Bishop?

The first half was a truly wretched, wretched performance. Scapegoats were easy but the real problem was the formation. One of the pleasing aspects about our play this season so far has been the almost seamless change from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2 to 4-3-3 at various points during a match. Not exactly Cruyff’s (the real one) ‘Total Football’ of the 70’s, but certainly showing the versatility of the team. However, this abomination of a system is just plain crap. The packed central midfield area including Crooks, Whitley and the returning Pollock just got in each other’s way. It seemed that no-one knew who was the ‘holding’ player, who should support the attack, who should tackle or who should be providing the passes. The result was that no one did anything of any worth. Kennedy was all over the place, either in a ‘free’ rôle, or more likely just trying to get a touch of the ball. Similarly poor Terry Cooke had about 3 touches, 2 of them being fired at him on the touchline, being unable to control them and resulting in a Vale throw. Gareth Taylor did exceptionally well in getting one shot in (going wide as usual). Despite what you may have heard, although being a little more purposeful, Port Vale weren’t much better. They probably couldn’t believe what they were seeing! Rougier had a shot impressively turned away by Weaver and that man Martin Foyle yet again scored against us, Edghill going AWOL and Morrison not reacting quickly enough.

I’m sure that I wasn’t the only one, but I said to my new friend at half time that JR had to change the shape and should bring on Bish and Wright-Phillips for Crooks and probably Cooke. Even so, I was still surprised that JR did exactly that before the start of the second half. I’ve got to give Joe much respect for that decision. Many managers would have stuck with it for the first 15 minutes or so, by which time it may have been too late to change the result. Joe effectively admitted his mistake and put it right at the first opportunity. Good man!

The change was immediately apparent from the kick off. The players looked more comfortable, knowing where they should be and what they should do. Bishop was pulling the strings in midfield, ably assisted by Pollock. Kennedy and Granville were beginning to exert their authority on the left and Gareth Taylor looked far happier having the wee man upfront with him. This is the third occasion that I’ve seen Wright-Phillips, each time for a little longer and each time looking a lot better. He was terrific. Electric pace, good touch and skill and certainly not afraid to throw his weight around, what little there is! It was comical seeing him ‘backing into’ Vale’s 6’6″ central defender (name escapes me). Wiekens replaced the injured Morrison early in the second half. It looked like he’d never been away. Although Jobbo has done superbly, it would be great to see the Morrison / Wiekens partnership working again. It’s such a long time since they played together.

Although Vale could have taken a 2-0 lead, with Pollock clearing off the line, it was virtually one way traffic. The first goal, when it came was indeed an own goal from Granville’s teasing centre, but Shauney deserved a lot of credit for getting in amongst the flying boots and making the goal happen. As was always likely to be the case, once we equalised, Vale didn’t want to know. Kennedy had a powerful shot well saved, but from the resultant corner, Granville planted a downward header into the back of the net. Vale had a free kick saved by Weaver near the end, but there was never any danger of not gaining another 3 points.

As well as the footballing performance, it was clear that the players were really enjoying themselves in the second half, none more so than Mark Kennedy. Every corner he took, he was giggling away like a 3 year old having their toes tickled! At the final whistle, he revelled in getting us to cheer every time he implored us to do so (and we did just like sheep. Good fun though!). Our team spirit was again evident, with the players hugging and backslapping each other as they made their way off the field.

So six points clear and I still haven’t spoken to a Blue (including myself – not that I talk to myself, but you know what I mean!) who has publicly proclaimed that we’ll go up this season. I’m still not prepared to think such thoughts yet, but its getting harder!

Phil Hartley (philh@firstcap.freeserve.co.uk)

MATCH REPORT ‘LIVE’ II

MANCHESTER CITY vs. PORTSMOUTH, Wednesday 3rd November

I’d had a bad feeling about this game all day. The run would end at some point, but against Portsmouth, against Alan Ball?

Lucky underpants, lucky shirt and any other talisman I could find were with me on the way to Maine Road. I therefore took my seat hopeful that I had enough protection against the Powers of Darkness (am I getting a little carried away here?).

Anyway, City reverted to a more familiar line up than the abomination that started on Saturday. Bishop regained his usual midfield berth as did Horlock. Wiekens as expected came in for the injured Morrison and the wee man, Shaun Wright-Phillips made his first start, alongside Gareth Taylor.

Alan Ball’s men included Fitzroy Simpson and of course, Lee Bradbury. At kick-off there was a little rendition of that well known tune “Alan Ball, he’s a W*****!”, followed a little later by the classic “F*** off Bally from Maine Road”. Until the latter stages of the game, that was about it. No Roman Candles going off in the dug out or the Main Stand, no Uzi 9mm’s, nothing untoward really. The media have a lot to answer for, trying to whip up over the top aggression where none exists. Alan Ball was an aberration in this club’s history, a particularly painful one admittedly. I’m sure he was forced into certain decisions by Franny Lee, but by jove, he was a poor manager! Anyway, his time has passed, so we should and did, concentrate on the here and now.

City started brighter than in the last few games but my worst fears were confirmed when from our corner, Bishop lost the ball. Portsmouth (as they did all night) were quick on the break and when Lee Bradbury was put clear, I thought that even he isn’t going to mess this up. He didn’t, arguably Weaver did, sprinting off his line, missing the ball leaving Bradbury with a tap in. To be fair to Nick he couldn’t really stay on his line and indeed he performed a similar sprint later although this time he cleared.

I must say that Bradbury looked pretty good tonight. He looked quicker and stronger and had decent control. Maybe he is one of these players who can only do it for one club (Nigel Clough, anyone?).

Anyway, City still looked sharper than in previous games but were making uncharacteristic mistakes, particularly in defence. Portsmouth were playing on the break and nearly caught us out on several occasions. Wright-Phillips was buzzing about, showing skill, determination and maturity beyond his years. One particular Gio-like dribble took him into the box, the ball squirting to Bishop who hit a piledriver which was well saved by the Pompey keeper. Kennedy was getting a reasonable quota of crosses in, but as is often the case they were wasted. Taylor was playing quite well and continued to improve as the game progressed. He won headers, held the ball up well and generally was a good link between the (in the first half) stuttering midfield and the front.

The second half couldn’t have started much better. Within 2 minutes, Kennedy cut inside and shot. Such was the power, the ‘keeper could only parry the ball and somehow, from somewhere, Jeff Whitley stole in to tuck the ball over the ‘keeper from a tightish angle. Cooke had replaced the clearly injured Wiekens (again – looked like a recurrence of this ankle injury that has been plaguing him for most of the season. Surely we shouldn’t be selling Vaughan at the moment?) and he was put into acres of space by Wright-Phillips, who was subsequently clattered. Infuriatingly, the ref didn’t play the advantage and pulled back play for a useless free kick. From our free kick, Pompey caught us on the break and had a reasonable chance. Crazy situation!

The game now was beginning to go from end to end, with Kennedy getting more of the ball, but our midfield and defence were still looking our of sorts. Portsmouth scored a second when both Edghill and Jobson had the opportunity to clear, didn’t, and Thorgersen planted a shot wide of Weaver. It was like an ‘old fashioned’ City concession of a goal, not quite in the Kit Symons masterclass category but certainly something we thought we’d left behind.

The out of touch Bishop was replaced soon after by Jamie Pollock and I must say, he performed admirably. Very disciplined, supportive, decent passing and winning some good tackles. None of the clenched fist nonsense, just a good all round performance.

Kennedy was beginning to run riot and I feel was helped in an indirect way by Cooke’s presence. Although Terry wasn’t sparkling he did OK and certainly gave us more balance. Finally, someone got on the end of a Kennedy cross and it was Gareth Taylor who rose like a salmon (sorry, I couldn’t resist this well loved phrase. Has anyone ever seen a salmon score a far post header?) and planted the ball firmly in the back of the net. Four minutes later, this time from a dead ball kick, the same combination scored our third. Slightly worryingly at the time, JR took off Shaun Wright-Phillips and brought on Tiatto to stiffen the defence. This tactic always worries me, I am very much of the ‘best form of defence is to attack’ school of thought. Still, it certainly worked on this occasion. Incidentally, with Tiatto’s inclusion, we had 4 left footers on the pitch at the same time. Remember when we didn’t have any?

Portsmouth, to their credit, still wouldn’t lie down and continued to cause us problems on the break. However, the worm turned when from their corner in the 90th minute, the ball was cleared to Kennedy who found Pollock running intelligently into the empty half of the field. He took the ball on, rode a challenge and smashed the ball into the net, through the ‘keeper’s legs. It was just reward for Jamie and you have got to respect the fact that for the second half of last season and all of this so far, he’s kept his head down and worked hard even though he has not been involved in the team.

So another win, not particularly any sweeter for it being over Alan Ball. Although our attacking play was good, for once the defence was questionable. Again not a great performance, although certainly an entertaining game. However, what this game demonstrated yet again was our team spirit and determination to win. At the moment, we just seem to have the ability to shrug our shoulders at any deficiencies we may have, whether (as in recent games) it has been our ability to score, or (as in this case) it has been our ability to defend. We just get on with it and win the game! Dependent on whether you’re a ‘glass is half empty’ or ‘half full’ person, surely we cannot keep winning when not playing to the best of our ability and someone in going to tonk us! Alternatively, when we do start playing to our potential, we’re going to batter everyone into submission! Personally I’m a ‘well it’s emptyish but quite full at the same time’ person!

Phil Hartley (philh@firstcap.freeserve.co.uk)

SOME SYMPATHY FOR ALAN BALL

Just thought I’d say a few words about Alan Ball before we beat Portsmouth (as we should!) on Wednesday night. I saw City play in pre-season against Athlone Town in Ireland a few years ago. Not that I was ever a big Alan Ball fan, I was surprised to see how much time he spent talking to the crowd and signing autographs before the game, at half-time, and after the match for the hundreds of fans who wanted them. As I queued to have him sign my match programme all I could hear from the many travelling City fans was “I hope that’s your resignation Alan” and other choice comments. No matter how much you like or dislike Alan Ball I thought that this was dreadful. He did resign within weeks of the start of the season and I’m sure he was relieved to go. It is easy to knock people when they’re down. Even though I’m delighted to see us doing so well under Joe Royle, there is still a part of me that cringes when I think of what was said to Alan Ball that night in Athlone. I’m sure my views will meet with a bit of a laugh but I have to say I wasn’t proud to be a City fan that evening.

Derek (mcgarry@eircom.net)

THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY

Glad to see that Gio has got the opportunity to escape his nightmare at Ajax, and in the Premiership too (for now at least!). It’ll be good to see him on TV again, and you never know, maybe in the Cup at Maine Road as well. But don’t you think it’s like seeing the ex-girlfriend (or boyfriend, of course), whom you always loved, turning up one day on the arm of one of your mates? You’re pleased to see her, delighted she’s happy, but can’t shake the thoughts of what might have been? Maybe it’s just me!

I feel very sorry for Michael Brown. He seems to have been given a bum deal by virtually every manager he’s played for. Could it be that there really is some sort of attitude problem? Having said that, we can’t keep stockpiling players. JR obviously wants to bring in new players and this need will increase, if we get closer to the promised land, and Brownie, rightly or wrongly is currently well down the pecking order. On the basis that he does go elsewhere, I wish him luck, but hope that he doesn’t come back to haunt us!

Don’t you thank it’s weird that we don’t seem to have a song for Mark Kennedy yet? Without doubt, with the probable exception of Weaver, he has been our most important player this season so far. He gets the ‘we are not worthy’ bows at corners, he is already a cult hero, but no songs? Any ideas?

I see Robert Taylor scored a hat trick from the bench the other night. Could do the business for us. I wonder if Brown’s entry on to the transfer list without an attached fee is some kind of bait?

Phil Hartley (philh@firstcap.freeserve.co.uk)

ANOTHER VOTE FOR ROBERT

What are we waiting for? Mr Bernstein please pass the cheque book to Mr Royle…

Robert Taylor starts last night’s game for Gillingham on the bench then comes on to score his second hat-trick in successive home games. Not to mention the other 6 he has scored this season. I’m convinced he is worth the gamble.

Looking at the website this morning (pre Portsmouth game) I see that Gareth Taylor could well be linking up with little Wrighty as the Alan Ball welcoming committee front line, in Goater and Dickov’s absence. I hope I am proved very wrong, but on paper this is hardly going to scare Division 1 defences.

I cannot comment on Lee Peacock’s abilities (8 goals in Division 3) but I believe that a big £1m+ rated striker should be signed as soon as possible (even if only on loan while Wrighty and Peacock find their feet) and I reckon swapping a Taylor for a Taylor would have us heading for “The Swamp” next season.

Stephen Phillips, Folkestone (sxphilli@ctrl.co.uk)

WEAVER FOR ENGLAND – NOT YET

Weaver’s shot stopping is superb. His reactions are quick and he comes out to narrow the angle well. However, his ability to handle high crosses is suspect. He relies on the heading ability of Morrison and Co. to clear the ball, which they can’t always do. Port Vale had a series of corners last Saturday because the defenders could only knock the ball out of play again. Watch out for a team with wingers who will exploit this weakness. I am sure he will improve in this part of his game. Corrigan’s handling was also poor when he started out.

Jeff Cohen (jcohen@innotts.co.uk)

KEEP BROWN

Putting Brown on the transfer list is short sighted.

If we are to have Premiership aspirations then he is a player that we need to keep. Bishop will not go on for ever and having cover in depth is vital, especially in front of the back four. This is a big mistake!

Graham Lord (gooch@logos.cy.net)

AND ANOTHER THING…

Just need to get a couple of things off my chest. Firstly, hands up how many Blues thought we’d be 6 points clear at this stage? Of those same people how many of you have found yourselves moaning because every minute of the game is not filled with fantastically entertaining, error free football?

Of course there will be times in a match, sometimes even the whole match, when we don’t play well; that’s because we have a team made mainly of players learning the game (i.e. young) who will make mistakes (e.g. Weaver’s dash out of his box last night). But what do you people want – are we not allowed to play badly for the rest of the season, have we got to win every game by a landslide between now and then (and then you’ll moan because you’re bored)? Is this the only way you’ll be happy, or will that still not satisfy you?

To hear fans boo the team off at half time (Portsmouth match) was disgraceful, how many of those boo-ers did their bit by singing and getting behind the team or do you believe that we don’t have to do anything but turn up and wait? If it makes us a force in English football isn’t it worth the effort? The team needed a lift after they conceded the first but the ground went deadly silent for most of the rest of that half (except where I was sitting!). I sat next to a guy who spent all the match slagging the team off, saying we were disgraceful, crap and useless and that we should beat Portsmouth because they were crap. His shouting became louder when we conceded the second goal. What I want to know is, do these kind of people really think every other team in this Division is crap and we are much better, can they never look at the opposition and say perhaps their style (last night – harry and harass – obviously up for it for their manager, the size of the game and the crowd) or their tactics are making our beautiful passing game difficult.

If you look at the table most fans would consider that Barnsley are likely to be in contention for the play-offs at least. Well for those of you moaning at the poor build-up play or execution in evidence at Maine Road sometimes, you ought to get along to another 1st Division club up there and take a look at them. I have seen every Barnsley home game so far (and Huddersfield away) and even on our bad days we play better football. I have spent most of the BFC matches bored or frustrated at their inability to play as a team. My BFC mate is dreading coming to MR. Isn’t that what we want, teams seeing MR as a threat, seeing City as the team to beat, because we are producing the points? What made Liverpool invincible? A lot of it was the opposition’s state of mind, they didn’t think they could beat them and many of their matches were not 90 minutes of pulsating footy, United have taken their place as the team other teams fear and this gives them the edge – isn’t that what we want? Isn’t getting into the Premiership at all costs what really matters?

This brings me onto my second point – why do some fans insist we shouldn’t go up this year, that the team isn’t ready and that we need some more big money signings? Just where, if we stay in the 1st is the money for these signings going to come from? How many of the teams up there needed two, three if not more yo-yo years to establish themselves? I’m sorry, but if you ask me being handed an extra £7m, playing against higher class opposition, attracting huge media attention (and consequently sponsoring) and promotion for our reserve team, even if it is for just a season (and remember Premiership money continues for two years after relegation) is worth the chance that we might come back down. Look what it’s done for Leicester, Sunderland and Middlesbrough. I can see first hand what it did for Barnsley, it gave them a whole load more options.

Pushing for promotion and settling for nothing less this year will help JR attract players to the 1st and encourage those already here to stay (how long do you think Kennedy and Weaver will stay if they don’t see that ambition throughout the club?) – what are we scared of, getting promoted and not being good enough to trounce United? Whenever we go up and no matter how much money is spent bringing in players it is going to take a good few years before we are established again, it’s a totally different type of football up there and it takes time to readjust. Christ, look at Newcsatle and Chelsea – spent millions but what’s it got them (okay I concede Chelsea fluked a couple of cups!), the important thing is to get up there as soon as possible and then worry about how to stay up – get behind JR and support his ambition this year – we can do it and if we fail it won’t (hopefully) be through lack of trying.

Elaine Clegg (elaine@city4eva.demon.co.uk)

CITY vs. SUNDERLAND

Trawling through some statistics on football 365 http://stats.football365.co.uk/curr/ENG/teams/Man_City.html, I was delighted to note that we’ve got more points than Sunderland had after 15 games last season (they had 31 to our 32) and look what has happened to them since…

The Sunderland fan at work was somewhat less pleased when I pointed this out I might add, although his £20 says that we won’t beat their 105 point record. I’m almost tempted to take the bet…

Nick Evans (nick@darkest-peru.demon.co.uk)

POMPEY ACRONYM

P oor
O pening,
R esult =
T hey
S cored.
M ess-ups
O vercome
U sing
T aylor's
H eaders.

Steve Maclean (Stevemaclean@stm1.freeserve.co.uk)

REDDISH BRANCH CSA

Change of guests for November meeting.

Richard Edghill and Richard Jobson replacing Andy Morrison.

All other details remain unchanged.

Howard Burr (reddishblues@mccsa.freeserve.co.uk)

QPR SPARE TICKET

I have a spare ticket for QPR on Saturday since my fellow exiled Blue would prefer to watch the rugby and prepare for a bonfire party! Other mates are either watching the rugby or working so anyone who wants it can have it for face value (£15) or less depending on demand. Please help – the alternative is too horrible to contemplate – seeing my first City game for 18 months alone or dragging my wife along who is a Rag supporter!

Please forward emails to peter_cvjetan@ml.com (note the surname is spelt cVjetan).

Pete Cvjetan (cvjetpet@MLE.CO.UK)

DUTCH BLUES

Calling on all Blues living in Holland. Your attendance is required for City’s next live T.V. game versus Wolves on Friday 3rd of December at 20.30. The venue being The Boozer on the Voorstraat, Dordrecht. That includes The Blarneystone Blues. The landlord is a Red so the more of us “Blue noses” the better.

R.S.V.P.

Also would any Blues in Holland be interested on the forming of a Dutch City branch of the International Supporters Club? For example maybe a minibus can be arranged for future games in London if tickets can be made available. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

Ian Hawthorne (kippax@worldonline.nl, 078 6932044)

OLD SHIRTS UPDATE

I’ve had a really good response to this and am currently looking for a way to get them collected and distributed. As suggested by a few I am contacting the club to see what they can do. I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks to all who replied.

David Kilroy (davidkilroy@cwcom.net)

NOKIA SONGS

Does anybody know where I can get City songs for my phone (Nokia 6110)?

Thanks, Derek Adams (derek.a@virgin.net)

BLUE HUMOUR

I have nothing much against Man U fans, I even have some friends who support Man U. I’m sure a cure will be found one day.

Did you hear about the English politician who was found dead in a Man Utd jersey? The police had to dress him up in women’s underwear in order to save his family from the embarrassment.

Four surgeons are taking a coffee break. The first one says, “Accountants are the best to operate on because when you open them up everything inside them is numbered.”

The second surgeon says, “Nah, librarians are the best; everything inside them is in alphabetical order.”

Third surgeon says, “Try electricians. Everything inside them is colour-coded.”

The fourth one says, “I prefer Man Utd fans. They’re heartless, spineless, gutless and their heads and arses are interchangeable.”

Andy Lea (Andy.Lea@us.adis.com)

SONG SUNG BLUE

On a recent MCIVTA a fellow blue asked if anyone would like to put forward any ideas for new songs, and in keeping with City’s brilliant start to the season and hoping they finish the league in the same position they now occupy. Members of the Buxton and district branch would like to contribute a song.

To the tune of Any Dream Will Do from Joe Royle and his amazing championship winning dream team.

On Saturday (on Saturday) we follow CITY (whoaho)
Super MAN CITY (whoaho) home and away (home and away).
Now Joe has put (now Joe has put) the wheels in motion (whoaho)
We’ll win promotion (whoaho) and you’ll hear us say (and you’ll hear us say)
CITY, CITY, CITY, CITY.

Gary Sullivan (gary@ferodo60.freeserve.co.uk)

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


MCIVTA ADDRESSES:
Contributions: Martin – martinf@mancity.net
News & Rumours: Peter – brophy_peter@hotmail.com
Subscriptions: Steve – sbolton@buxtonrd.u-net.com
Technical Problems: Paul – paul@city-fan.org


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


[Valid3.2]Martin Freeman, martinf@mancity.net

Newsletter #550

1999/11/04

Editor:


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