Newsletter #591

A vital three points on Saturday, secured in the dying seconds of the game by that man Goater! Results elsewhere proved just how crucial that goal was, and hopefully it will signal a change in the team’s performances and fortunes over the remaining 8 games.

We have two match reports, Peter’s news summary, the Fans’ Committee minutes, and the usual quota of opinion.

This one reaches 3,127.

Next game: Swindon Town away, Saturday 1st April 2000


Last-Gasp Goater the City Hero

Manchester City notched their first win in eight games on Saturday afternoon. West Bromwich Albion were beaten 2-1 at Maine Road – but the Blues left it late, with Shaun Goater’s winner coming in injury time. City hit the woodwork twice in the first half but it was Albion who snatched the breakthrough thanks to a Lee Hughes effort on the hour. A Mark Kennedy free-kick levelled matters with thirteen minutes remaining but despite frantic late pressure, it looked as though Joe Royle’s men were to be denied a late winner. However, Bermudian front man Goater scrambled in his twentieth league strike of the season to give the Blues what may in the final analysis prove to be a vital three points.

As You Were As Rivals Win

Shaun Goater’s late strike gave City all three points against West Brom – and prevented the Blues from losing valuable ground in the promotion race. For Charlton, Ipswich, Birmingham and Huddersfield all won on Saturday, while Barnsley play on Monday. City move up to third, two points behind Ipswich with a game in hand. George Burley’s side snatched a late winner of their own to beat Fulham 1-0. Barnsley are a point adrift of the Blues from the same number of games, but will push Joe Royle’s men back into fourth place if they win at home to Grimsby in 48 hours. Meanwhile, Birmingham and Huddersfield also kept an interest in the promotion race. Trevor Francis’ side came from behind to win at Sheffield United while the Terriers had an easy 3-0 victory against Crewe. Both clubs are three points behind City having also played an extra game.

Royle Praises New Boy

Spencer Prior made his Manchester City début on Saturday against West Bromwich Albion. And Joe Royle was delighted by his new signing’s display against the Baggies. The new arrival from Derby replaced Gerard Wiekens in the Blues’ back four. But with the Dutchman suffering from illness all week, team selection had been a formality, with Richard Jobson partnering Prior. And the City boss felt the new boy had an excellent début. Royle was also pleased with substitute Tony Grant, whom he called “the best passer of a ball over ten yards in the league.” The manager credited the ex-Everton man with turning the game when he came on.

Prior Makes a Quick Impact

Manchester City are counting on new signing Spencer Prior to inspire his team-mates. And even ahead of the defender’s début against West Bromwich Albion, he’d already made an impact on his new colleagues. The Blues have desperately lacked leadership in recent weeks in the absence of skipper Andy Morrison. And manager Joe Royle feels that Prior is the man to remedy this failing, and showed as much in his two days’ training as a City player ahead of the vital weekend clash. “Spencer is a good talker, he’s a great enthusiast,” commented the City boss. “We’ve found out already that he is a chirpy chappy.” It’s a task the 28-year-old is happy to undertake, and he said, “I will do my bit, it will certainly be easier than at Derby where they were all foreigners.”

Megson Wary of City Example

Manchester City’s injury-time winner sent West Bromwich Albion into the Division One relegation zone on Saturday. And Hawthorns boss Gary Megson knows from City’s example that it would be dangerous to think his team is too good to go down. His opposite number Joe Royle felt that the Baggies’ display showed they have the mettle to win their battle to avoid the drop. But the recently-arrived Megson, who reinforced his squad with five new players ahead of the transfer deadline, reflected, “I did not see City as a relegation side when they went down, or Stoke when they got relegated. It happens to big clubs and we have got to battle and scrap and make sure it doesn’t happen to us.” With the Baggies due to face Ipswich and Barnsley in their next two games, the Blues will be hoping they start to do so sooner rather than later.

Brazil – Race is Wide Open

Pundit Alan Brazil isn’t a popular man with Manchester City fans, who perceive bias against the club in his commentaries. But the former Ipswich striker thinks the Blues have as good a chance as anyone of clinching second place in Division One. Brazil has said he expects the Blues to reach the Premiership – either this season or next. But he sees this term’s promotion race as too close to call. “I honestly felt had City beaten Charlton, I would have fancied them to go on and claim second place”, he said. “But it’s still in the melting pot and it will probably stay that way.” Brazil not surprisingly hailed Nicky Weaver and Shaun Goater as the men whose contributions are central to the Blues’ promotion hopes.

Bernstein Looking to Build Premier Base

Despite recent poor results, Manchester City are still in with a fighting chance of promotion to the Premier League. And chairman David Bernstein knows his job is to make sure that if the Blues go up, they’re capable of staying in the top flight. Bernstein is evidently aware of the difficulties facing the club if promotion is won, with the gap between the top flight and the rest seeming to be increasing. But he knows that the longer the Blues stay out of the big league, the harder it will be to catch up. “Every year we are away from the Premiership we are losing a massive amount of income and falling further behind the Premiership clubs,” he told Soccernet. “But it is very important that we are not a one-season club. We have got to go up in good shape.”

Scots Eye City Loan Deals

The transfer deadline in England may have passed, but north of the border, deals can be completed until Friday of this week. And two Scottish clubs are keen to take Manchester City players on loan. Striker Craig Russell rejected a move last week to St. Johnstone but the Perth-based outfit still haven’t given up hope of persuading the ex-Sunderland forward to join them until the end of the season. And fellow SPL side Hibs are said to be eyeing a similar deal for the Blues’ young reserve defender Shaun Holmes. With both players on the transfer list at Maine Road, the chance for them to put themselves in the shop window would seem to suit all parties.

City Smiling Their Way to the Top

Manchester City are facing the tension of a closely fought promotion run-in. But midfielder Jamie Pollock feels that laughter could be the ingredient to boost the club