Newsletter #578

Craig Russell leaves us on loan for the umpteenth time; however, despite the absence of more permenent departures, City are still being heavily linked with an imminent move for Alf Inge-Haaland of Leeds United. We have two belated match reports, as well as an article from a local Nottingham newspaper which could so easily have been written about us two seasons ago.

Andy Noise has kindly provided us with the details of which goalscoring feats ‘The Goat’ can potentially break this season. We also have a ‘blues’ song from Ernie Whalley, the main subject being the Rags.

Lastly, Paul Gallagher has written in with an article which he hopes will lead to follow-ups. Although there are definitely ‘Why Blue’ aspects to it, this article tries to convey something of what it feels like to be Blue, rather than the reason for being Blue, or the memories. If anyone else wants to put their feelings down in words then please go ahead.

Next game: Norwich City at home, Saturday 12th February 2000


Leeds Source Claims City Haaland Deal Close

A source at Leeds United is indicating that Manchester City have enquired about taking utility man Alf-Inge Haaland to Maine Road on loan. Leeds are said to have rejected the approach but would be prepared to do a permanent deal. It’s been common knowledge for some time that the Blues have been monitoring the ex-Forest player’s performances in the reserves at Elland Road. However, it seems that the City management have been reticent to commit to a deal for the Norwegian without having first made more progress in removing unwanted players from the Maine Road pay-roll. But now, with the Blues short of defensive reinforcements, it’s thought the position could change. The Leeds source claims that talks between the clubs are ongoing and could soon reach a conclusion.

Weaver – I Am Staying

The excellent form of Nicky Weaver has been attracting covetous glances from a host of top clubs. But the City goalkeeper has emphatically denied that he could be tempted to leave Maine Road. Speaking to City’s official website at, Weaver admitted that he has ambitions to play at the highest level. However, he’s confident that City can provide him with the platform to show his credentials. “If we don’t get into the Premiership next season, then we will get there the following season,” he confidently predicted.

Royle Slams Dickov Link

Joe Royle has played down reports that Paul Dickov could be the subject of a bid from Huddersfield. The Blues last week turned down a £500,000 offer from Wigan Athletic for the striker. Terriers’ boss Steve Bruce is armed with cash to spend after the sale of Marcus Stewart, and reports earlier in the week had claimed that the ex-Manchester United defender could be prepared to pay £1 million for Dickov. However, Royle has denied the story. “The link with Huddersfield means absolutely nothing to me,” he told the official City website at “I must stress we are not encouraging contacts with any club nor have Huddersfield or any other club been in contact with us.”

Injury-Hit Forest Hope Vaughan Is The Answer

Nottingham Forest’s loan signing of Tony Vaughan has been pushed through because of a defensive injury crisis at the City Ground. But the Blues’ defender could still have a long-term future at the Midlands club. With Jon Olav Hjelde already sidelined, the injuries sustained against City on Saturday by Riccardo Scimeca and Chris Doig have left Forest desperately short of cover at the back. Against this backdrop, Vaughan is almost certain to make his début in the relegation battle with Walsall on Saturday. However, it’s understood that even if the injury problems ease there’s a good chance of Vaughan’s move becoming permanent – as long as he impresses during his loan.

Russell Joins Old Boss

Craig Russell has left Maine Road for a loan spell for the fourth time. The ex-Sunderland striker will join up with his former manager at Roker Park, Denis Smith, who was reappointed by Oxford United last week. Smith had promised to move for a “top-quality First Division striker” to help in Oxford’s Division Two relegation fight. And the result is another loan move for a man who’s had loan spells at Tranmere, Port Vale and Darlington after failing to impress Joe Royle. However, it seems unlikely that Oxford will offer a permanent solution to the player’s Maine Road misery. The Manor Ground club’s financial position appears to rule out the prospect of the move being extended beyond a loan. The player had been linked with a transfer to Carlisle earlier in the week.

Royle – Fenton Stays As Cover

Four clubs have asked about taking City defender Nick Fenton on loan. But Joe Royle had said he needs the 20-year-old to stay at Maine Road for the time being – even before the player picked up a rib injury in Tuesday’s reserve mini-derby. As was rumoured last week, Bournemouth were one of the clubs keen to borrow Fenton for the rest of the campaign. But with Tony Vaughan having gone to Nottingham Forest on loan, Danny Tiatto required for international duty with Australia and Andy Morrison and Lee Crooks still on the injured list, the City boss decided that another defender couldn’t be spared.

Royle Repeats Cooke Assurance

Joe Royle has once again reassured City fans that winger Terry Cooke is not persona non grata at Maine Road. Cooke hasn’t taken the field for the Blues since the last weekend in November, an absence which had led supporters to fear that the 23-year-old may have played his last game for the club. The former Manchester United man became a crowd favourite last season after firing seven goals to help City to promotion. However, for much of this term the Blues have played with a single winger and Mark Kennedy’s spectacular early-season form eased him into pole position for the one wide berth. And even when Kennedy was injured, Royle elected to play the improved Danny Tiatto rather than shuffling his pack to bring in Cooke. Rumours have abounded of a serious fall-out between manager and player. However, the City boss told the Manchester Evening News that, “It is nonsense to suggest Terry has been frozen out. There have been no rifts.”

City Linked With American Ex-Red

The ‘Football Transfers’ website at is linking the Blues with a £250,000 move for ex-Manchester United junior Jovan Kirovski. The 23-year-old striker, who has 38 caps and six goals for the US national side, is currently with Borussia Dortmund. Kirovksi was forced to leave Old Trafford in 1996 after failing to receive a work permit and saw a proposed move to Sunderland break down for the same reason in 1997. He was top scorer for United’s reserve team in 1995-96 but has seen little action at Dortmund and spent the 1998-99 season on loan to Fortuna Köln. The source of the player’s link with City is unclear, but it appears in the section of the ‘Transfers’ website which contains a “probably untrue” disclaimer.

Royle In Talks Over Goater Call-Up

Joe Royle is having talks with the Bermudian FA in a bid to ensure that Shaun Goater’s absences from action are kept to a minimum in the rest of the season. His country’s World Cup qualifying programme could keep the City top-scorer out of vital promotion fixtures. Bermuda face British Virgin Islands in the opening phase of the qualification programme in a tie over two legs scheduled for 5 and 19 March. If successful, they then face another two-legged affair. However, the City boss is in talks with Bermudian Technical Director Clyde Best to see if a compromise can be reached. “So far Clyde has taken on board everything I have said. He and his Directors are sympathetic,” Royle told City’s official website at It’s thought that Best may allow Goater to miss the second leg of the BVI clash if the Bermudians are well-placed after the first game – a move which would allow the Blues to field their top-scorer in the potential promotion showdown against Charlton on 19 March.

City Well Beaten In Reserve Derby

Manchester City reserves went down to a 3-1 defeat against Manchester United at Hyde on Tuesday evening in the Manchester Senior Cup. The Blues were three goals down at the interval before Craig Russell reduced the arrears. The result makes no difference to City’s chances of progression in the competition – the Blues had effectively been eliminated before the derby encounter.

Brightwe;; Set for US Move

Former City star Ian Brightwell, a member of the all-conquering City youth team in the eighties, is set to turn his back on English football and move to the United States. Brightwell left the Blues to join Coventry on a free transfer in the summer of 1998. However, after failing to notch a single league appearance at Highfield Road, he’s now in line for a move to the American MSL. Three clubs from across the Atlantic are said to be keen to sign the versatile 31-year-old.


Celebrity City fan Nick Leeson has specially arranged to return from holiday in time to see the Blues take on Norwich. And the man who brought down Barings Bank in 1995 will follow a visit to Maine Road on Saturday with an even more auspicious public appearance. Wednesday’s Manchester Evening News reports that Leeson will fly into Manchester from Bali on Friday hoping to see the Blues continue their promotion bid 24 hours later. And he’ll stay on to be a guest at Don Price’s legendary Prestwich & Whitefield Branch of the Centenary Supporters’ Association on Tuesday. The ‘Rogue Trader’ had originally been scheduled to guest at the Junior Blues’ pantomime a couple of weeks ago but it was felt he’d receive greater recognition from an adult audience.

Granville to Replace Chile-Bound Tiatto

City will be without Danny Tiatto on Saturday as the Australian heads for Chile to join up with his national squad. But full-back Danny Granville will return to the side at home to Norwich. The former Chelsea and Leeds player missed the game at Sheffield United in January after aggravating a calf injury during the warm-up. Tiatto deputised on that occasion and continued at left back in last Saturday’s win at Nottingham Forest, with Granville’s lack of match fitness ensuring he stayed on the bench. However, the London-born defender is now back to full fitness and will return to the starting eleven as the Blues aim to avenge September’s unlucky defeat at Carrow Road.

International Contingent Set for Call-Ups

Danny Tiatto and Shaun Goater aren’t the only City players set to be in international action in the next few weeks. Many European nations are set for friendly action during the last week of February, and as many as six Maine Road stars could be called up. Nicky Weaver seems practically certain to be in the England under-21 squad for the match against Argentina at Fulham on Tuesday, 22 February. Mark Kennedy has already been named in the Republic of Ireland party for the home friendly against the Czech Republic 24 hours later, while Jim and Jeff Whitley, Kevin Horlock and Tommy Wright will all be in contention for Northern Ireland call-ups for the visit to Luxembourg.

Tiatto Handed One-Match Ban

Tiatto will in fact be missing from the City squad for two of the Blues’ next three games. The Australian will be on international duty when the Blues take on Norwich on Saturday, and will also be suspended for the match against Walsall later in the month. The ex-Stoke player will have returned to England from the Aussies’ tournament in Chile in time to play against Huddersfield in the televised clash on Friday, 18 February. However, eight days later he’ll once again be sidelined, a legacy of a fifth booking of the season at Nottingham Forest last weekend.

Canaries Hope to Improve Maine Road Record

This Saturday sees City welcome visitors who have traditionally found their trips to Maine Road a fruitless experience. Norwich have only ever won eight of 53 league and cup meetings with the Blues, and just two of the victories have come in Manchester. However, the Canaries’ recent record against City is somewhat improved – they’ve won two and drawn one of the last three meetings, and took all the points on their last visit to Maine Road two years ago. Bruce Rioch’s team, however, have only won two of fourteen away games this term, while City have eleven home wins from the same number of home fixtures so Joe Royle will be disappointed if his players fail to capitalise on the chance to underline their promotion credentials. And surely the East Anglians won’t find match officials as accommodating to them as those who took charge of the season’s first encounter between the teams.

Peter Brophy (


A first ‘awayday’ for the fledgling Beverley Branch of the CSA – thanks for making it happen Anthony and Clive! – and what a day out we had. The Nottingham Feds were evidently expecting some trouble judging by the number of motorcycle cops we saw on the way in from the M1, or maybe it was just a precaution because they’re not used to dealing with a big crowd these days? We parked up near the Aviary pub which was heaving with Blues – and at least one Forest fan who was trying to give as good as he got in the singing stakes I’m told – filled up with chips, failed to get a beer at any of the pubs, so headed to the Bridgford stand with the massed Blue ranks. There were lots of alcohol-fuelled Blues making a lot of noise in the streets around the ground – not sure about the basis for the ‘town full of Munichs’ chant – but the atmosphere was generally good-natured. Did I spot ‘Bert Trautmann’ outside the ground? Wasn’t sure so didn’t say but bought BTH anyway from someone else. Inside the stand, the inevitable crush for the bar – the staff looked pleased to be separated from us by perspex screens – but we managed to get a beer. “He’s here, he’s there, he’s every f*****g where, Tommy Booth, Tommy Booth” went the chant and so he was. A bit greyer than the last time I’d seen him but he smiled and acknowledged the salute.

Seats were good (but as has been said before expensive at £19) and the Blue contingent were in fine voice. This was my first time in the away end for an away game (pre-season friendlies aside) – was the atmosphere typical or something better than usual? The report I read reckoned we were 5,000 strong in a crowd of almost 26,000 and we certainly made enough noise to suggest the figure was accurate. Blue Moon came through loud and clear on the TV highlights. Of course when Chris Bart-Williams scored after about 9 minutes the Forest fans woke up and we were a little stunned. Not much chance for Nicky as the shot was nicely flighted over his diving fingertips and must have looked pretty good if you were a Forest fan. Not quite what was in our script.

City looked a bit disjointed to me and Bob Taylor’s equaliser was very much out of the blue on 31 minutes, though we had hit the bar earlier. He turned the defender and thumped his shot high into the net, beating Beasant on the near post, an altogether better goal than his first but he’ll just be pleased to get on the scoresheet again. Within 4 minutes we were in front, as Shaun dealt with a high bounce better than the Forest defence and deftly chipped the advancing ‘keeper. Cue wild abandon on the City terraces whilst the Forest fans stood stunned. We finished the half the stronger team not surprisingly and we looked forward to a second half with the action at our end.

Once again City didn’t read the script. Forest could have been predicted to come out on fire after a roasting from David Platt (thought that’s perhaps a bit like the Geoffrey Howe / ‘savaged by a dead sheep’ scenario) but we played too much of the second half in our half, letting them press forwards instead of taking the game to them. SBT did hit the bar with a looping header and the tension was building in the crowd, knowing that a soft goal could leave us well behind Charlton and in danger of dropping to third or fourth. However, Forest gave away a silly free kick against a time wasting Jamie Pollock, which Kennedy flighted in, ‘feeding the Goat’ who duly beat Beasant to the cross with a thumping header. 3-1 and bye bye Forest fans en masse. Good to see the team evidently enjoying themselves in the huddle after the game after coming to our end to acknowledge the support the travelling horde had given.

Overall it still didn’t seem a convincing performance. We were a bit shaky at the back, with Tiatto in particular getting pulled out of position (he was booked and I suspect subbed to avoid the risk of him being booked again) so I was surprised at how positive all the newspaper reports have been about our performance. Jobson and Wiekens (the latter booked) got better as the game went on and Edgy had an OK game (not much for his detractors to complain about!). Horlock and Bishop were a little overrun at times and Whitley wasn’t in it much for me. Kennedy played better than of late, one particularly notable run late in the game when he cut in after skinning the defender and Beasant saved his shot. Up front, Shaun and Bob seem to be developing something of an understanding. Aside from his goal, Bob had some good touches which the others around him couldn’t capitalise on, and Shaun was all over the pitch again as well as getting his two goals. I was particularly pleased to see the crowd get behind Bob, chanting his name and giving him a standing send off when he was subbed. With few less pounds and a better level of fitness he’ll come good for us, if some of the people referring to him as a ‘useless fat b*****d’ will get off his back and give him a chance.

I realise we’re not always going to dominate games start to finish, especially away from home, but it would be nice to see a commanding performance from the lads again. That said, I’ll settle for results like this week in, week out rather than the sort of performance we put on at Sheffield.

CTID, Geoff Donkin (Geoff@Donkin.Freeserve.Co.UK)


“I must be insane.”

That thought struck me when Chris Bart-Williams scored the opening goal at City Ground on Saturday. Suddenly there was no excuse for my lack of intelligence. I had that weekend travelled 2.400 kilometers, just for the joy of watching my favourite football team. Well, the joy lasted exactly seven minutes. That’s when Chris Bart-Williams found the space and gave Nottingham Forest the lead. From my point of view it seemed somewhat a lucky shot but nevertheless it gave the people around me something to cheer about. I was not. I just blamed my own stupidity.

No sensible human being travels all the way from Lule