Newsletter #633

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Ha! The Forces of Darkness struggle to overcome our reserves. Roll on November 18. The influence of MCIVTA grows. This issue has a fascinating article plucked from last week’s Big Issue – many thanks to the magazine, author Gibby Sobel and reader Peter Abbott for making the connection.

There are more thoughts on how we should honour Neil Young after the goal rush, favourable opinion of Lee Peacock, an appeal from the club for this year’s programme, a lovely software translation of Paulo’s international efforts and the usual variety of contributions.

Nearly there. If your pulse is not becoming threadier by the day, if rivulets of sweat aren’t waiting to form on your brow, if Saturday is just any other day – why are you reading this? The black comedy that was Steve Lomas taking the ball into the Family Stand corner while we teetered on the brink of the abyss four years ago is about to be forgiven, if not forgotten. The shadow boxing is over: let battle commence. If Tony Adams can quote Shakespeare, so can I. Batten down the hatches Blues – here we go.

And you, good yeomen,
Whose limbs were made in England (and Ireland, Costa Rica, Liberia, etc…),
show us here
The mettle of your pasture (and desert.)
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit and, upon this charge
Cry ‘God for City, Willie and Sir Joe!’

Next game: Saturday 19th, Charlton Athletic away (Premiership!)

NEWS SUMMARY

United Win Testimonial Derby

Manchester City ended pre-season with a record of four wins and four defeats in their eight friendlies after being beaten by Manchester United on Wednesday. The Reds won 2-0 at Old Trafford in the Denis Irwin testimonial in a match watched by over 45,000 fans. In a competitive game, the Blues showed promisingly before the break and even Alex Ferguson admitted his side were lucky to lead after the opening period. The second half was a more disjointed affair with both sides making several substitutions, and in the final minute Andy Cole added to Teddy Sheringham’s 36th minute strike. City were also beaten in the half-time old boys’ penalty competition, with Alex Williams, Mark Lillis, Kevin Reeves, Peter Barnes and Darren Beckford losing out 8-6 to Paul McGrath, Mark Hughes, Brian McClair, Jesper Olsen and Gary Pallister.

Royle Happy With Derby Performance

Even though City lost, Joe Royle was more than satisfied by his team’s performance in Wednesday’s match against Manchester United. The Blues’ boss took particular encouragement from the first-half display, which he felt was the best 45 minutes of the Blues’ pre-season campaign. City looked the better side until their hosts took the lead and Royle was delighted with the way his players tackled opponents of such quality. “I was delighted with our performance in the first half,” he told the Manchester Evening News. “I changed things round at the break because a few had knocks and a few needed a rest before Saturday.”

Irwin Unhappy at Weah Tackle

Denis Irwin celebrated ten years at Old Trafford with a testimonial against Manchester City on Wednesday evening. But the Manchester United full-back suffered a disappointment when injury forced him to be substituted in the first half of the game. Irwin was the victim of a late tackle from City’s George Weah early in the match, and although he initially carried on, the Irishman was eventually forced to concede defeat in his battle to last the ninety minutes. The ex-Oldham player was clearly angered by the challenge and refused to accept the Liberian’s apologies immediately after the incident, although he was a little more measured after the game. “To put it nicely it was probably a centre forward’s challenge and I went over on my ankle,” he reflected. The incident set the tone for a match which was considerably harder fought than most testimonials, and although there were no bookings, fierce challenges by Haaland, Beckham and Gary Neville would all have been punished in a league fixture.

Fergie Forsees Survival for City

Alex Ferguson had the chance on Wednesday to see his team’s cross-town rivals at first hand. And the Manchester United boss doesn’t believe the return of derby football to the city will be for one season only. Ferguson thinks that Joe Royle has added wisely to his playing staff this summer. And the Scot considers that his Maine Road counterpart has pulled off a coup by signing a player of “great presence” in George Weah. As a result, Ferguson is tipping the Blues to avoid a season of struggle, saying, “Of all the teams promoted from the First Division, City have made the most significant moves into the transfer market and I think they’ll do quite healthily.”

Scotland Defender Thinking Over Move

Manchester City are hoping to make Paul Ritchie their fourth major signing in less than three weeks. Joe Royle has agreed a fee of £500,000 with Rangers for the centre back, and after talks in Manchester the player is now thinking over the move. Ritchie only joined the Scottish champions this summer on a Bosman free transfer from Hearts, but Ibrox boss Dick Advocaat is prepared to do business after the defender failed to feature in any of his new club’s league or European engagements so far. Royle believes the deal would represent good value for the Blues, and sees the Scottish international as capable of adding vital defensive options. “He is a solid defender and can play in the middle of defence or at full back,” the City boss explained. Ritchie, who celebrates his 25th birthday next week, ended last term on loan at Bolton having made clear to Hearts his intention to leave in the summer. The Blues are hopeful he’ll agree to return to the North West.

South American To Arrive on Trial

Manchester City are to give a trial to Ecuador international Ulises de la Cruz. And the Blues have agreed to pay the player’s club a £2.5 million fee if he impresses during his ten days at Maine Road. De la Cruz plays for Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito, Ecuador’s champions for the past two seasons, and was billed in initial reports as a defender. But another source quotes him as saying his strengths lie further forward, and Joe Royle’s comments also indicate this may be the case. “On the evidence of what we have seen on the video he looks like the new Pele,” enthused the City boss, “but we of course want to see the lad in the flesh before we make a final decision.” The 26-year-old, who is a regular in his national team’s set-up, had a spell with Brazilian side Cruzeiros before returning to his homeland.

Taylor Opts for Molineux Switch

Robert Taylor has completed his move away from Manchester City. The ex-Gillingham forward has signed for Wolves, rejecting the chance to join his former Priestfield boss Tony Pulis at Portsmouth. The Blues will receive a reported fee of £1.55 million for Taylor, who saw his prospects of first-team football at Maine Road diminish with the arrivals of George Weah and Paulo Wanchope. But he’s happy with his new challenge at Molineux, where he’ll be hoping to feature in a promoted side for the second successive year. “I cannot wait to get started,” said the 29-year-old. “It was difficult to turn down my old boss Tony Pulis at Portsmouth but once I came to Molineux and saw the ambition here, it was an easy decision to make.”

Youngsters Set for Nationwide Moves?

Manchester City’s intense recent transfer activity has resulted in the end of several fringe players’ careers at the club, with Lee Peacock, Jamie Pollock and Robert Taylor all leaving. And reports claim that the next casualties of the rebuilding programme could be Nick Fenton and Danny Allsopp. Fenton is currently on loan at Bournemouth, whose boss Mel Machin is known to be keen on making the deal permanent – and the 21-year-old defender admits he’d consider the move. Meanwhile, Wrexham, who took Allsopp last season for what was a successful temporary stint until injury intervened, are once again showing an interest in the Australian.

Trio on International Duty

Three City players were in action for their countries this week. But while there was joy for new boy Paulo Wanchope, both Kevin Horlock and Jeff Whitley tasted defeat. Wanchope scored both goals as Costa Rica beat Guatemala 2-1 in a World Cup qualifier – although Joe Royle would probably have preferred the ex-West Ham man to be on the losing side to prevent further call-ups in the next stage of the competition. Horlock and Whitley, meanwhile, were both in the Northern Ireland side which lost by the same score in a Belfast friendly against Yugoslavia. Despite the result, there was consolation for Whitley in particular; the Zambian-born star impressed for Sammy McIlroy’s side, making a goal for David Healy and producing a goal-line clearance.

Royle – Weah Just One of the Lads

George Weah has a formidable reputation befitting a man who has won the ‘World Player of the Year’ title. But the Liberian nevertheless has a down-to-earth approach which has been welcomed in the City dressing room. Whereas many football superstars are known for their prima donna antics, Weah is, according to Joe Royle, a “man of great humility” who allows the club’s young players to benefit from his vast experience. The 33-year-old has already made clear he regards himself as just another player on the Maine Road staff – and he’s quickly made himself popular with his team-mates. “George has integrated here from the start,” said Royle. “You’ll find him now with a cup of tea, piece of toast and his feet on the table bantering with Mark Kennedy.”

Boss Looking Forward to New Strike Pair

Manchester City will start the season with an all-new strike partnership. And Joe Royle can’t wait to see George Weah and Paulo Wanchope in action together. The pair haven’t yet played in the same City line-up, with Wanchope flying out for international duty almost as soon as he’d completed his £3.65 million move to the Blues. But Royle thinks the ex-Derby and West Ham man will prosper alongside his celebrated team-mate. “He does the difficult stuff with ease, but falls down with the not-so-hard things,” said the City boss of the Costa Rican. “But he scored 15 goals last season and when I was talking to Jim Smith at Derby recently, he said he’d have him back like a shot. That’s a good enough recommendation for me.”

The Wait is Over

Manchester City fans have been keenly awaiting the club’s first Premiership fixture ever since the Blues clinched promotion with that heart-stopping win at Blackburn. And in less than 48 hours the wait will be over. After an exile of four years, the Blues return to the top flight with a trip to fellow new boys Charlton on Saturday. And it will be a much-changed line-up which Joe Royle sends out to do battle at The Valley, with up to five summer signings set to make their débuts if Alfie Haaland recovers from a dead leg in time to play. The fact that the Blues are once again taking part in a Premiership fixture underlines the almost unbelievable turnaround in fortunes since Christmas 1998 – when the team was in twelfth place in Division Two, having just lost at York.

Peter Brophy (peterbrophy@mancity.net)

WE STOOD OUR GROUND

I have just returned from our 1st derby in 4yrs, full of admiration for my team’s performance. True to form we showed we are back, Shaun gave speed, Weah showed awareness, Prior and Alfie showed capability. Even young Leon said it all, Sir Joe is the man, trust a long time fan, 2-0 is no reflection on how strong we played. Lesser teams will fold under such pressure. Good luck Denis, let’s see who calls M.C.F.C. in May.

Tony (jbird@cwctv.net)

PRE-SEASON GAMES

Being an exile in Sussex I tend to try and see the local games and a few home games every year (master plan to buy season ticket failed as I’m 2442 in the waiting list).

So this year I went to Gillingham and had a short holiday in Oldham (Oldham and Everton games).

Overall the team performance has been good in all the games. Everton scored 3 against us – 1st Weaver caught off the line, 2nd defence lost the ball in the box and 3rd a really cheeky back heel. Shauneeeeee scored a cracking header to make up for the loss and we did have them worried for the first 20 minutes and when SWP came on in the second half. The Oldham game was a stroll in the park with Tommy W making some great saves. Gillingham was really a non-game with City just doing enough to win.

So what about the new season? The defence needs to gain an understanding of each other and tighten up a bit. Midfield should be OK and the attack should have enough fire power to score a few. IF we play the passing game as we did at Oldham then I can see us winning a few. We are still are very left sided at times, and thus pretty predictable (Tiatto to Kennedy cross into box for Weah). The addition of Shawnee and the dashes into the box by Alfie (as per Everton) seem to give us more width and an extra punch.

Bottom line is I think we will survive, maybe even make the European place if Southampton/Ipswich/Bradford/Coventry live up to expectations and Villa fall apart (players wanting out, low gates and fans heckling team). I also think we may be a good bet for a cup!

Lastly, can any fans wanting to get a Sussex/Surrey Supporters’ Club contact me so we can arrange a get together?

Andy Birkin (oscar@maine.demon.co.uk)

MCIVTA MUTTERINGS… WOT NO PINK!

There I was sitting at home thumbing through the various phone and gas bills, when lo and behold a big A4 white envelope attracts my attention. The contents inside referred to the rise of the Sunday Pink; must have altered its format I thought, but no… In the current climate of the MEN debate I was horrified to see that the Saturday Pink is no more! In comparison to the daily MEN I always felt the Pink dedicated a even amount of space to the Blues and the pretenders to the moniker Manchester. The demise of such a remarkable product is the end of an era as far as I’m concerned, many a happy journey home was spent reading the Pink cover to cover, sharing the full-time results with people on the train, or simply marvelling in a childish state at the ability to get a match report (and pictures) into a paper within a hour of the match finishing. The match reviews were never great journalistic tomes, concentrating on the first-half whilst leaving one paragraph for second-half action, and late results were a guessing game as results and tables appeared incomplete. The two page spread to City and U***** filled of news from the captain/coach/manager’s desk were always interesting for someone starved of information on the beloved Blues. They even saved you the need to buy the Saturday edition of the MEN with the backpage headlines/articles featuring somewhere towards the back. I doubt the MEN ever covered so many local teams all in one issue. I pray please let us have a few silent moments to remember the Pink in its heyday.

In response to Brian Morrison’s short piece, I might have forgotten how much Steve Daley cost so apologies in advance, but between Daley and Bradbury, weren’t Curle and then Phelan record buys? I know this disrupts the argument, but in the case of Daley and Bradbury neither were well proven players with any decent track record which would lend itself to a club putting in record bid. In the case of Onechop he is proven and in today’s transfer market he is at the cheaper end of the market.

Does anyone know of a pub that is worth drinking in before the Sunderland match? I am travelling down from Darlington on the Sunderland supporters’ bus, so somewhere that would accommodate a friendly bunch of mackems (and myself – being a Cestrian Blue) would be greatly appreciated.

Here’s hoping I have to walk back to Darlington a week on Wednesday!

CTID, James Walsh (James.Walsh@durham.gov.uk)

PLEASURE TO MEET PEACOCK

I would have to admit that Lee Peacock was not very likely to get into the squad with the likes of Weah, Wanchope, The Goat and even SWP there but was sad to see him leave the club. Unlike Simon Haines’ report on Peacock in MCIVTA 632, I met Lee on a few occasions and he has to be the friendliest player of the whole squad.

The first time I met him was inside Maine Road when David Bernstein was presenting the Co. Wicklow Branch with a City pennant. Peacock came over to us after Bernstein left and started talking to us like he was a mate of ours. It was just after City had came back from their break in Lanzarote and he was telling us how great a time the squad had whilst over there. When we told him we were from Ireland he started telling us stories of what the squad were getting up to whilst in Dublin for their Christmas do. He stood in a few pictures before we had to go as kick off was approaching and then he did something every City fan dreams about. He invited us back to the players’ bar after the game. He told us that after the game we just had to ask the guards at the main entrance for him and he would get us in. Unfortunately we were getting a flight almost immediately after the game and could not take up his invitation.

On numerous occasions after this I met him in the car park and he again chatted with us and said he could remember us and would freely get in photos etc… with us.

Hopefully we do not draw Bristol in the Cup as City’s luck will surely give way for a Peacock hat-trick.

Tony MacManus (tonymacmanus@eircom.net)

GQ

There is a big article about Man City in this month’s GQ magazine. It is about our recent down and up history.

Also, the Chairman was on Talk Radio on Friday afternoon with Gills’ fan Brian Moore; he came across really well and Mooro said it was the biggest response the show had had.

Mark Bailey (uproar13@hotmail.com)

ANYONE WATCHING THE CHARLTON GAME IN NEW YORK?

Newly moved to New York and was wondering are there any Blues in the area that might be meeting in a bar somewhere to watch our return to the big time? Failing that, does anyone know any bars in the area that might show the game?

Martin (mharrop5151@hotmail.com)

CLUB APPEAL

The club is doing a new feature for the 2000/01 programmes, which will be based on good luck messages from around the world for Joe and the players for the coming season. Any messages can be sent to mcfc@mcfc.co.uk

Katie Willis, PR & Marketing Executive, Manchester City Football Club

WANCHOPE SCORES BOTH GOALS… AND WRITES DOWN HIS EQUIPMENT!

Here’s the match report from La Nacion (Costa Rica’s national paper)… translated through Babel Fish, Alta Vista’s translation engine.

Costa Rica 2 – Guatemala 1 in eliminatory to World-wide 2002 Agency EFE Tuesday 15 of August, 2000 15:14:00 (Local time) San jOse. The selection of futbol of Costa Rica today prevailed 2-1 before the one over Guatemala, in valid party for the eliminatory ones towards the world-wide one of the 2002 and it was placed at the top of the group and the Confederation of Futbol. In a party disputed in the stage “Alexander Morera” of Alajuela, 20 kilometers to the west of San jOse, in which Costa Rica demonstrated a slight superiority, excelled the figure of the international Costa Rican Paulo Wanchope, who wrote down goals of his equipment both. In minute 33, after a center of Hern

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