Newsletter #631

Will-he Won’t-he Wanchope has signed (but needs a work permit – watch this space) but the club are quite rightly not prepared to play Villa’s game. This heightens the possibility of Sunderland centre-half Paul Butler joining his favourite club (I think he would be the first Butler to play for City – this obviously matters more to me than you!). Lee Peacock has left Maine Road after managing just one shot on goal in his (thankfully ? – you decide) short City career and Jamie Pollock is set to render one third of my 1998 mousemat obsolete.

An evening stroll at Oldham means everything’s hunky dory again. There are a couple of Boundary Park reports and the usual pot pourri of opinion and humour, but not so much Blue angst these days. Things must be looking up.

Again thank you to all the contributors. Why Blue anyone?

P.S. This time two years ago we were getting all worked up about the visit of Blackpool. Take a moment to think about that.

Next game: Saturday 12th August 2000, Everton away


City Win Easily at Oldham

After successive pre-season defeats, Manchester City returned to winning ways on Tuesday evening. The Blues eased to a 4-0 victory at Oldham, with new boy George Weah catching the eye. The former Milan star opened the scoring on four minutes before creating his side’s second goal for Robert Taylor on the half hour. Mark Kennedy’s effort just before half-time earned City a three-goal interval lead, and substitute Paul Dickov rounded off the scoring after 53 minutes, Weah again supplying the chance. The Liberian then left the fray, replaced by Tony Grant, and although the Blues had opportunities to seal an even more emphatic scoreline the game remained goalless thereafter, with midfielders Horlock and Pollock squandering particularly promising chances.

Wanchope Deal Finally Done

Paulo Wanchope has finally become a City player. The Costa Rican appeared to be stalling over the move on Tuesday, but met with Joe Royle at a secret location on Wednesday before finally committing to the transfer. After his initial round of talks at Maine Road on Monday, the player returned to London, saying he wanted to take the advice of his father on whether to become the Blues’ record buy. And when the ex-Derby man failed to return for talks the next day, it appeared that Wanchope Snr may have told his son to remain at West Ham. City have paid £3.65 million for the 24-year-old but David Bernstein is confident that the player will more than justify the outlay. “Paulo has strength, pace and quality and he should do the business for us,” said the Blues’ chairman. Wanchope is reported to have signed a five-year deal.

Paulo Not Available Until Valley Trip

Paulo Wanchope joined Manchester City this week. But the club’s fans won’t have the chance to see the new boy in action in either of the Blues’ two remaining pre-season friendlies. Wanchope trained with the rest of the City players on Thursday morning but then flew out to join up with the Costa Rican squad for a World Cup qualifier against Guatemala. The match takes place on Tuesday, and the £3.65 million buy from West Ham is unlikely to have returned in time to play for the Blues against Manchester United 24 hours later. However, he will be considered for City’s opening league game. “Paulo will certainly be available for Charlton,” explained City boss Joe Royle. “We’ll have a look at him then and see how fit he is.”

City Say Ugo Deal is Dead

Manchester City’s new transfer record would have been shattered within days this week had Aston Villa accepted a third and final bid from Joe Royle for Ugo Ehiogu. But with the Midlands outfit rejecting the £7.5 million offer, the Blues have publicly abandoned their pursuit of the 27-year-old. Having been told earlier in the week to “put up or shut up” by Villa boss John Gregory, City responded by indicating that they would make the one-time West Bromwich Albion junior the most expensive defender to move between two British clubs. But having been rebuffed, the Blues say they will abandon their pursuit of the player. “It was a huge amount of money we offered,” said chairman David Bernstein, “but we have our strategy and that was the amount we were prepared to go to. The very fact we were prepared to offer that sum underlines our ambition.”

Defender Guessing Game Continues

With City ostensibly abandoning hope of signing Ugo Ehiogu from Aston Villa, media sources have been speculating on alternative targets. And with Joe Royle admitting to being “involved in talks with another club” over a defender, a plethora of names have been touted as potential Maine Road signings. Earlier in the week, the Manchester Evening News produced a long list of possible City buys, including Inter Milan’s Taribo West, Steve Howey and Nicos Dabizas of Newcastle, Sunderland’s Paul Butler and Darren Williams, Wimbledon pair Dean Blackwell and Kenny Cunningham, and Bolton’s Mark Fish. Since then, Alan Stubbs of Celtic, Southampton’s Dean Richards and Chelsea’s Brazilian Emerson Thome have all been the focus of speculation, while there are even now suggestions that Aston Villa are attempting to come to an agreement with WBA over the Ehiogu sell-on fee with a view to resurrecting a deal with City for the player.

Peacock Completes Robins Switch

Lee Peacock has completed his £600,000 move to Bristol City. The former Mansfield player left Manchester City less than a year after moving to the Blues from Field Mill in a £500,000 transfer. Peacock failed to score for the City first team in ten appearances, and saw his chances of first-team football recede with the summer arrivals of George Weah and Paulo Wanchope. And the Scot was pleased to sign a four-year deal at Ashton Gate, although he felt that he was hard done by at Maine Road. “It was a disappointing year for me and I don’t think I really had a fair crack of the whip,” he told his new team’s Clubcall service. “But I learned a lot and I’m really looking forward to getting started with Bristol City.”

City Accept Palace’s Pollock Offer

Joe Royle continued his efforts to prune his Manchester City squad on Thursday when he accepted a Crystal Palace bid for Jamie Pollock. And the midfielder has already held talks with Palace officials in London. The Blues were prepared to sell the 26-year-old midfielder in the spring, but Pollock rejected a move to Wigan after the Latics had agreed terms with City. And although the Eagles do have the advantage of being a First Division club, Royle says it isn’t a foregone conclusion that the player will make a different decision on this occasion. “There is still a lot to be done in the deal,” the City boss told the official City website at “Jamie has to be convinced about moving himself and his family to London. He is talking to Crystal Palace.”

Cooke Goes Back on List

Terry Cooke began the summer by vowing to force himself back into first-team contention at Manchester City. But having failed in his bid to impress Joe Royle, the winger has once again been told he has no future at Maine Road. Cooke handed in a transfer request in February after falling out of favour with the Blues’ boss. But after an unsuccessful loan spell at Wigan later in the season, the ex-Manchester United junior decided to try to resurrect his City career. Now, however, it appears his efforts were in vain, with Royle telling the official city website at, “I spoke to Terry and told him we would listen to offers for him. If the right offer comes in and it suits him, we won’t stand in his way.” Southampton have denied reports that they are interested in signing Cooke from the Blues.

Robert Taylor Set to Stay

Following the recent arrival of two new strikers at Maine Road, there had been press speculation that Joe Royle might decide Robert Taylor was surplus to requirements. But it now looks unlikely that the ex-Gillingham player will join either of the two clubs suggested as possible destinations for him. Taylor had been linked with a £2 million move to Portsmouth, who are now managed by Tony Pulis – the 29-year-old’s former boss at Priestfield. But the south coast outfit are now reportedly set to solve their striking problems by landing ex-City loan man Lee Mills from Bradford. Taylor had also been said in some quarters to be a target for Gillingham themselves, but chairman Paul Scally rubbished the story, saying, “I haven’t even spoken to [Gills’ manager] Andy Hessenthaler about the possibility of bringing Bob back.”

Bernstein – Cash Still There if Joe Needs It

Manchester City’s three summer signings so far have cost a little in excess of £6 million. And that means that Joe Royle has plenty of money still available for further squad building. David Bernstein says that the City manager is aware of the limit on the funds for new players. The Blues have a maximum figure in mind, although it appears the ceiling would not have been reached even had the club’s £7.5 million bid for Ugo Ehiogu been accepted. But Bernstein says that, save for the possible signing of a new central defender, Royle will make no more purchases until he’s seen how his players fare at Premiership level. “Joe will now concentrate on finding a top class defender, having missed out on Ugo Ehiogu, and then we’ll be set for the start of the season,” the City chairman told Sky Sports. “We’ll then probably take a look at how things are shaping up 3, 6 or 9 games into the season.”

Cooke Stars in Reserve Win

News of Terry Cooke’s availability for transfer emerged from Maine Road on Thursday. And ironically, the winger had played a starring rôle in the City reserves’ 1-0 win at Altrincham the previous evening. The Blues’ second string fielded a less experienced line-up than in some of their recent friendlies and were given a tough test by the Unibond League Premier Division side. But Cooke brought his quality to bear with a second-half winner, and even Joe Royle conceded that the Birmingham-born wide man had impressed on the night. “I must say, I thought he was outstanding in the reserves last night,” the City boss told the club’s official website at “It was probably his best game for twelve months.”

Royle Pits Wits Against His Son

Manchester City reserves continue their pre-season campaign on Friday with a trip to Ashton United. And lining up in the home side’s back four will be one Darren Royle – son of City boss Joe. The Blues are expected to field a strong side, featuring the likes of Gareth Taylor and Terry Cooke. And the Unibond League outfit hope to draw a crowd of five times their usual figure by attracting over 1,000 to their Hurst Cross ground to watch the clash with City. The 26-year-old Darren is awaiting the occasion with keen anticipation. “I’m excited about facing City,” he told the Manchester Evening News, “particularly as I’m only just settling back into my favourite position at centre-half after missing a big part of last season with a broken ankle and ending up as an emergency striker.” The match kicks off at 7.45 p.m.

First Home Game to be a Carnival

Maine Road last played host to a Premiership fixture in May 1996. And City officials are planning to ensure there will be a carnival atmosphere at the ground when Sunderland’s visit ends the Blues’ top-flight exile on August 23. The four-season absence from the elite was City’s longest stay outside English football’s top section since the 1890s. And having made a meteoric recovery from the lowest point in the club’s history over the past two years, City want to ensure that the occasion is marked suitably. Fans are being urged to bring flags and banners to the ground to enhance what is already expected to be a rousing atmosphere.

Premier Dress-Rehearsal for City

After taking on four Nationwide League sides with mixed results in their pre-season build-up so far, Manchester City wind up their run of friendlies in the next week by taking on two Premiership rivals. And the first of those games comes on Saturday, with a trip to Everton for Joe Parkinson’s testimonial. The Blues visited Goodison Park last summer to play in a fundraiser for John Ebbrell. And although the Toffees won 1-0 on the night, an encouraging City display pointed to a successful season ahead. Joe Royle will no doubt be looking for similarly positive portents ahead of what promises to be another exciting campaign, with Everton, who finished thirteenth last year, providing a yardstick of the level the Blues will need to attain to avoid being one of the teams scrapping against the drop.

Peter Brophy (


OLDHAM ATHLETIC vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Wednesday 8th August 2000

“When the Pub Player Met the World Player”

An amazing crowd of nearly 11,000 filled Boundary Park to see the Blues receive their promotion medals. Memories of that day in May came flooding back…

City’s line-up was tweaked from the one that lost so badly against Stockport: Tommy Wright in goal, Edghill, Haaland, Jobson, Granville, Wright-Phillips, Wiekens, Horlock, Kennedy, Weah and Bob Taylor. The midfield appeared to be flimsy with only Wiekens being a ‘defensive minded’ player, and I don’t think we’ll see this line-up too often in the Prem.

The bare facts of the first half are as follows: After 4 minutes SBT robbed Sheridan and played through a beautiful through ball for Weah to run onto, slotting past Kelly in the Oldham goal. 25 minutes later Weah was put clear in the box by Haaland I think, attracting the defence towards him like a magnet. One classy backheel later left SBT with an easy goal. Kennedy had a couple of searing shots saved by Kelly but scored shortly thereafter, when Taylor fired in a low cross from the right, SWP stepping over (or missing?) leaving Kennedy free at the far post. During this first half, the defence was rarely troubled although I still have reservations about a Jobson/ Haaland central defensive partnership. What was clear though, was that the defensive unit as a whole was functioning much better than the previous 2 games and indeed the inclusion of Edghill strengthened it further. Yes, his passing was as ‘good’ (sic) as usual but he didn’t miss a tackle or a header. He covered well and his control of the ball was instant.

Midfield looked good too. Kevin Horlock ran the midfield as I’ve never seen before. He made a decent impression of a playmaker and linked well with Wiekens, the defence never being exposed. Wright-Phillips was nominally the right sided player, but actually had a fairly free rôle. He got stuck in and made several terrific runs and passes throughout the game. He grows in stature every time I see him. Kennedy was a ‘mercurial’ as ever. He seems more willing and able to win the ball himself and as I’ve said before really seems to be enjoying himself. His crosses have more variety than last year and he’s keen to have a shot himself too.

But for me the success of the first half last night was the partnership between SBT (the man branded a pub player by Radio 5’s Alan Green) and George Weah. OK it was only a friendly, OK it was against a mid-table 2nd Division team, but considering it was only the second time they’d played together (if you count the last 25 minutes of the Stockport game) they looked a formidable partnership. Taylor knows that Weah is going to be looking to make forward runs and is able to thread passes through to him. Likewise, when George has got the ball, he attracts defenders, creating space for Taylor and others to run into. The first two goals last night were classic ‘striking partnership goals’ and were a joy to behold. Not since Uwe and Walshy were at their best have we seen two strikers feeding off each other. Notwithstanding Goater making a miraculous recovery or Wanchope finally signing, this has the look of a good partnership for the first few games at least and I would like to see them play together more.

Partly because of this it was disappointing to see that Dickov replaced Taylor at the start of the second half. In fact there were wholesale changes with Crooks, Pollock and Whitley also coming on to replace Granville, Wiekens and Haaland. City changed to a 3-at-the-back formation, with Edgy on the left, Crooks on the right, Jobbo in the middle and with Whitley and Kennedy acting loosely as wing-backs. Almost immediately Weah threaded through a ball which Dickov chased, rounding the ‘keeper to finish from a tight angle. Although Horlock and Pollock should really have scored later in the game, that was the end of the night’s scoring, as it was George’s game, who was replaced by Tony Grant, SWP joining Dickov up front.

Tommy Wright had far more to do in the second half and indeed made two or three very good stops. Also his kicking and general distribution was good too and although I’ve had my doubts, if he sustains this form he will make a more than adequate deputy for Weaver. This defensive unit/ formation would have been punctured many times by a decent Prem attack, but again I think it is unlikely that we’d see this line-up in a ‘proper’ match. Of the substitutes, probably Jamie Pollock was the pick, playing a disciplined rôle, but still getting forward once or twice too. Tony Grant as usual made one or two superb passes, but still didn’t impose himself on the game.

So, like the Stockport game, this was only a friendly and no concrete conclusions can be reached. However, Weah looked sharper than on Saturday and as I’ve said, formed an impressive looking partnership with Taylor. SWP is pushing himself more and more towards a regular squad place, and although I’d be surprised if started in the first few away games, I think he may well get the nod at Maine Road. I’m sure that we have not yet seen the ‘ideal’ defence and dependent on whether we get a new central defender, I still feel Haaland will be better in midfield, although clearly this would put a question mark over Wiekens. Horlock was great tonight, but personally, I think the midfield will be better with Bishop in it.

Not long to go now. Roll on August 19th!

Phil Hartley (


OLDHAM ATHLETIC vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Wednesday 8th August 2000

A much better City performance here after the poor showing against Stockport. Bumper crowd turned up for a mid-week game. The official attendance was 10,000+ but 6,000 of these must have been City fans, as the overspill of late arriving supporters were allowed to occupy some of the home area.

City lined up with Wright in goal, a back 4 of Edghill, Haaland, Jobson and Granville; midfield of Wright-Philips, Wiekens, Horlock and Kennedy with Weah and “Super Bob” Taylor up front. Maybe the opposition was not as fired-up as the Stockport team, and perhaps lacked the quality, but whatever the reason, City dominated most of the first half, looking much more confident in defence and passing the ball around well. Weah came into the game more and showed some of the class touches that he is capable of, and seemed to have a better understanding with those around him, being involved in all of the goals. Kennedy too got more of a look in and made some good crosses and telling runs into the box.

Haaland still looked a bit dodgy in some of his tackling, but more than compensated with a couple of excellent through balls down the right which were picked up by Weah and Taylor and resulted in two of the goals. Weah opened the scoring with a cheeky push past the ‘keeper which just crept over the line. This was followed by a good goal from Taylor, linking up well with a cross from Weah. Kennedy then made it 3 after a dummy by Wright Phillips left him unmarked on the far post.

Second half saw a few changes, Pollock replacing Haaland and Whitley for Wiekens. Dickov came on for Taylor and then Weah received a standing ovation as he was replaced by Grant. City reverted to a wing-back system with what must be the shortest strike force in the Premier league – Dickov and Wright-Phillips. They grabbed a fourth goal after Weah put Dickov through to give him a one on one with the ‘keeper. Oldham came a bit more into the game but still failed to carve out any real chances although Wright was called upon to pull of a couple of good saves towards the end.

Considering this was a friendly, some of the refereeing was picky to say the least and interrupted the flow of the match. The revelation of the evening was the performance by young Shaun Wright-Phillips, who although not getting on the score sheet himself, brought panic into the Oldham defence with his pace and control, forcing some questionable challenges which would surely have been more severely punished had this been a league fixture.

All in all, some good prospects here and a much more confident and encouraging performance by City.

Final result: Oldham Athletic 0 – City 4


To the guy who was looking for info on Alfe Inge Haaland – try this site, though it is still Leeds orientated:

Citycard enquiry – it costs £10 per year. You get 3-4 days advance booking before open sale, after season ticket holders. Plus there are discounts in the City Superstore etc. Application forms are usually available from Maine Road ticket office but you have to post them off to an address in Stoke.

John Ramsbottom (


I was just going to write in to suggest that the topic of music at the matches has been embraced by so many, because we are so nervous about starting the new season without substantial new talent being added to the squad. Simply a theory. We do not want to question Joe, Willie and David’s inactivity on the transfer market, so even though we are/were terrified about our prospects, the music debate has diverted us away from this unpleasant issue.

I also had my own lists of tracks (see below), and then I hear we’ve signed Weah and Wanchope, hallelujah, so now I’m sure the music debate is dead and buried and we can get on with more footballing speculation.

However, seeing as I gave this a bit of thought I figured I squeeze in my musical musings.

I like the Hawaii 5 O suggestion.

Surely the most appropriate Guns & Roses track is “Paradise City”?

Fat Boy Slim’s “Right Here Right Now” is a great track, but I feel it is overused and clichéd these days at sporting events. City need something unique. My favourite for the lads to run out to is “She Sells Sanctuary” by the Cult, a cracking, energy filled number from the mid to late eighties, which should appeal to the rockers and the indie lovers alike. Beats Queen anyday! Also there is the City link via guitarist Billy Duffy who is a big Blue (despite residing in LA).

Also, just another thought, how about playing “La Bamba” when the Goat is duly fed and scores. Might work.

I’m going to be back in Manchester in October / November, so will catch my first City match since August ’96 when I moved to Sydney. City were terrible that night against Ipswich, but won 1-0 (Lomas), so I figured if they can win after playing so badly, they are bound to go straight back up, how wrong I was.

I shall be attending the home games against Bradford and Leicester, courtesy of “Mad Macca’s” season ticket (which resides with him in Sydney!), cheers mate, I’ll give you a ring soon. I’m hoping to get a ticket for the Arsenal match too, and revisit “the smoke”. The latest signings have made it much more likely that I may get to see us score a few and even win a couple of games.

Here’s hoping.

Keep up the good work everyone. MCIVTA is a godsend to exiled Mancunians like myself, all over the world.

Dave Chambers (


There will be a minute’s silence on City’s first game of the season at Charlton as they struggle to terms with the tragic death of one of their youngsters, Pierre Bolangi, whose body was found in a lake known as Horse Pond at the Army’s School of Physical Training in Aldershot. The 17-year-old is thought to have drowned in 2m of water. Peter Varney has expressed the feelings of everyone at the club, saying: “We are all absolutely devastated by this terrible tragedy and our deepest sympathies go to Pierre’s family.”


8.8.00, 1:07 AM GMT, Channel 5, English TV.

Former Liverpool ace Alan Kennedy has just predicted that our beloved Blues will not be in any danger of a relegation battle.


  1. Sir Joe
  2. George Weah
  3. Paulo Wanchope (now confirmed £3.65M)

I don’t believe that City