Newsletter #635

In time-honoured late-arriving-home-from-a-long-day-at-work-after-having-your emotions-shredded-by-the-Blues-the-previous-night fashion the contents will have to speak for themselves. I’ll let you decide which contributions were received before, and which arrived after, the Sunderland game. This issue contains some important appeals.

Some, if not all of you, may have received two copies of the last McVittee. To prevent a recurrence the authorities have decided to remove your editor from his post. By the time you receive this I will have been dragged away by the men in white coats. The smooth hand of Ashley returns to the tiller and normal service resumes. All future articles should therefore be sent to him at

Many thanks to all the salt of the earth contributors, regular and irregular. Keep writing, reading and keeping the faith wherever you are in the world. I love you all. I’d like to thank my mother and father for all their love and support, my English teacher, the producer, director, all the wonderful backroom staff… [Begins to cry and is led away weeping…]

Next match: Coventry City, Saturday 26th August 2000, home


MANCHESTER CITY vs. SUNDERLAND, Wednesday 23rd August 2000


Anyone who can recall many of my reports last season will know I’m a little susceptible to superstitious, ‘lucky’ items of clothing, culminating in watching the Blackburn game in the pub bedecked in lucky underpants, hat and scarf. Well I’ve got a confession to make, I didn’t wear any of the aforementioned mystical clothing for any of the pre-seasons I attended (won one lost 3) or the Charlton game. However, the hat and scarf were back last night and I’m afraid I’m afflicted with this curse until we lose at least 5 on the trot. I don’t mind this sacrifice for the greater good, but as anyone knows who also indulge in this sort of tomfoolery, it makes the pre-match morning/ afternoon that bit more stressful, checking and double checking that you are in possession of all your Talismans (talismen?).

Anyway, as JR promised City lined up as they had started against Charlton. Ritchie and Grant replaced Jobbo and Granville on the bench. The ‘new’ Maine Road was packed to the rafters and the atmosphere as the first ethereal notes of Fatboy Slim trickled from the PA was electric. This is what we had looked forward to since May 7th and now it was here.

City clearly realised they would have to win the battle before they could win the game and this was evidenced by crunching tackles made by Alfie, Wiekens, Horlock and finally Prior, who was the unlucky one to get booked having exhausted David Ellery’s patience. Beforehand though, Kennedy fed Weah on the left who danced into the box, crossing low to the far post. The deflected cross was controlled by Wanchope who then volleyed into the roof of the net. Less than 3 minutes played and Maine Road was a Cauldron of Delirium. After 20 minutes, Weah again played a delicious ball for Wanchope to cross low from the byeline, Haaland muscling through to poke the ball into the net. Magnificent. Later Kennedy crossed to the near post and although Wanchope connected he couldn’t steer his shot on target.

It really was one way stuff and during the first half, Weaver literally did not have a save to make. Quinny, although still looking as good as we remembered him was pretty well controlled by Prior and Howey, with Phillips not getting into any dangerous positions. Half time and City 2-0 up and cruising!

It couldn’t last and of course it didn’t. Sunderland came out looking more determined and spreading the play more. They gave us opportunities to hit them on the break and still they didn’t really create anything. However, after an hour a cross from the right (our left) found Quinn unmarked for the first time and big Niall did what big Niall does, his unstoppable header giving Weaver no chance. Minutes later another cross from the same area was chested and instantly volleyed into the roof of the net by Kevin Phillips. You could criticise the defence, I suppose, but it was classy play from the England wannabe. Weaver hared of his line twice in fairly quick succession to clear the ball, which would have almost certainly resulted in goals had he remained static. It proved Weaver’s alertness, but also confirmed that our central defence could be caught out by a pacey forward. Something to work on still.

So from 2-0 to 2-2 and the feeling was that we’d been mugged. Of more concern was that with a good 25 minutes to go, this might turn into a ‘classic’ City performance for all the wrong reasons. But no, quite clearly the team spirit that I mentioned must not be diluted in my last report, became evident and we simply put our foot down again. An Edghill pass forward was dummied by Weah and Wanchope muscled past 2 defenders to bundle the ball in. Playing on the break, Weah running down the right touchline, without looking up curled a mesmerising pass over to Kennedy. The vision to see such a move was only outdone by the skill to execute it. Not to be outdone, Wanchope, in a right back position, crossed 60 yards to Kennedy on the left wing, whose cross put Weah past a defender. Unfortunately for us, their ‘keeper, Macho – (what a name!) spread himself to save. However, it was a brief respite as seconds later, Wanchope scored his third with a sublime outside-of the-left foot shot into the bottom corner. Wanchope could have had another moments later, but again Mr Macho spread well to save.

So 4-2 it was, 7-4 it could have been – what a fantastic game of footy to welcome back Prem football back to Maine Road. This was a terrific team performance, almost as good as Saturday’s was bad. Weaver had no chance with the goals, but saved two other likely goals with his quick thinking in leaving his line. His distribution was good also. Edghill had a great game, solid defending, pretty good passing (including a hand in the third goal) and determined play. Likewise Tiatto who got better as the game went on, although it should be remembered that the crosses for both Sunderland’s goals came form his area. Prior and Howey looked much, much better. Earlier in the game there were one or two instances where they went for the same ball, but overall they handled the threat of Quinn and Phillips admirably. Henry and Haisselbjank might be different propositions though! The midfield unit was superb. We’ve obviously misread JR’s intentions regarding Alfie, as he is clearly not the holding player we expected. Haaland played a Colin Bell-esque rôle, tackling, box-to box and getting ahead of the strikers to score a début goal. Most impressive! Wiekens and Horlock covered every blade of grass in time honoured fashion. Kennedy, although still not as expansive as his pre-season form, was still very, very dangerous. Weah and Wanchope looked like a World Class partnership. Weah’s vision and ability to create opportunities for his team mates was breathtaking at times. As the game neared its conclusion the audacious flicks and dummies were displayed, but his workrate was good too. Wanchope was a revelation though. Other than his 3 goals (and 2 other possibles), he was all over the place. It’s been said many times but he really does look like he’s made of rubber and he somehow uses his agility and strength to beat defenders without you realising how he’s done it! Not only that but he defended well too! A stunning Maine Road début, unlikely to be bettered.

The 3 points was obviously the most important outcome of tonight’s game but we also showed that we can play a bit too. We also proved that despite the changes in personnel, the spirit and determination is still there too. A special word for us, the fans: we were magnificent if you don’t mind me saying. A brilliant, noisy, supportive atmosphere almost from first whistle to last. It’ll test our stamina, but let’s try to keep it up!

Phil Hartley (


Wanchope the Hero as City Win

Manchester City put their opening day disaster behind them with a win over Sunderland on Wednesday. And it was a particularly memorable night for Paulo Wanchope, who notched a hat-trick in the 4-2 victory. The Costa Rican was on the mark after only four minutes, and turned provider twenty minutes later when he laid on a second goal for Alfie Haaland. Sunderland hit back after the break, and when strikes from Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips in quick succession brought the Wearsiders level it appeared that the Blues’ early dominance might count for nothing. But Wanchope restored the City lead on 78 minutes and made the game safe ten minutes later to cap a memorable evening. City are one of a clutch of clubs on three points, so although Joe Royle’s men are in 15th place in the early table, they’re actually level on points with fifth-placed Leeds – and only a point behind leading quartet Middlesbrough, Tottenham, Manchester United and Leicester.

Royle Relieved at Opening Victory

Joe Royle vowed this week that his Manchester City side could produce displays far better than the one they managed at Charlton last Saturday. And the Blues’ boss was relieved to see his players prove his point in the midweek win over Sunderland. Royle named an unchanged side for the visit of the Wearsiders, inviting the men on duty at The Valley to show their true capabilities. And the fact that the same starting eleven notched an impressive win delighted the City manager. “We lost a couple of games to Premier League clubs in pre-season and then again at Charlton on Saturday, so I was pleased no-one made the connection,” he admitted. “It was very important to get our first victory and we have done that now.”

Reid – City Deserved the Points

Peter Reid saw his Sunderland side go down 4-2 at Maine Road on Wednesday. And after the match, the one-time Manchester City boss admitted that his former club had deserved their victory. Reid was returning to his old stamping ground for the second time as boss of the Wearsiders. But whereas the first occasion had seen his side head back to the north east with a victory, this time round was a different story. The ex-England player, however, had no complaints at the outcome. “At 2-2 I thought we would nick it but in all honesty, Man City deserved to win,” he admitted. “To come away from home and score twice should be enough but we were poor defensively.”

Wanchope Hails City Crowd

Paulo Wanchope is starting his fourth full season in English football at his third club. But the 24-year-old says he’s never sampled an atmosphere like the one at Maine Road for his home début for Manchester City. Wanchope, of course, was responsible for igniting the crowd with a superb hat-trick as Sunderland were put to the sword. And after notching his first treble since moving to these shores from his native country, the Costa Rican said that the City faithful had played their part in his feat. “This was like a dream for me,” he said. “That atmosphere, with those fans, just lifts you onto another level.” The crowd of 34,410 was the biggest Maine Road gate since the ground was made all-seater in 1994.

Haaland – Charlton Game Behind Us Now

Manchester City suffered a disastrous start to the season at Charlton on Saturday. But Alfie Haaland says that the midweek win over Sunderland has wiped away the memories of the Blues’ horror show at The Valley. Haaland marked his first City appearance at Maine Road with a goal as the team roared into a two-goal lead in the first half. And the Norwegian was delighted with the spirit the players showed to win the game after the visitors had got back on level terms after the break. It was in marked contrast to the display in London four days earlier, when the abject performance had prompted the 27-year-old to offer cash to travelling supporters he encountered on his journey home from the game. “I won’t have to pay any petrol money to the fans today!” he joked on Wednesday evening.

Ritchie Looking for Scotland Boost

Paul Ritchie was a non-playing substitute for Manchester City on Wednesday after joining the Blues at the start of the week. But the 25-year-old hopes to earn a starting berth soon as he bids to resurrect his international career. Ritchie left Rangers after only a few weeks at Ibrox rather than play second fiddle to Lorenzo Amoruso and Bert Konterman. And though his recent lack of match action may mean the ex-Hearts player is overlooked for Scotland’s forthcoming friendly against Latvia, he believes he can only benefit from the Premiership challenge on offer at Maine Road. “You are playing against world class players week in, week out in the Premiership and there are no easy games,” he explained. “I’m here to play against the best players and hopefully improve as a footballer.”

Jim Whitley in Norwich Loan Switch

Jim Whitley has seen his first-team prospects recede at Maine Road, with brother Jeff just one of many ahead of him in the queue for a first-team place. And now the 25-year-old has joined Norwich City on loan. The Northern Ireland midfielder is well known to Canaries’ boss Brian Hamilton, who was formerly in charge of the Northern Irish set-up. And with the Blues keen to allow the transfer-listed player the shop window afforded by a temporary stint away from Maine Road, Hamilton has stepped in to offer what Joe Royle calls “a good opportunity… at a decent level.” The Zambian-born star could make his Norwich début against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday as he bids to impress his temporary employers sufficiently for the move to become permanent.

Morrison Returns as Reserves Lose

Manchester City reserves went down 1-0 at Everton in their opening FA Premier Reserve League game of the season on Monday. But there was a bright spot for the Blues despite the defeat as Andy Morrison continued his comeback from a serious knee injury. Morrison played for the full ninety minutes without ill effects having previously featured in pre-season friendly action at reserve level. However, the City club skipper was unable to prevent his side from sliding to defeat, with a Phil Jeavons penalty separating the sides following a foul by Danny Granville on Danny Cadamateri.

City Braced for International Exodus

Nicky Weaver has been called up for the England under-21 side’s friendly with Georgia in Middlesbrough next Thursday. And the City goalkeeper will be just one of several Maine Road squad members in international action between the visit of Coventry on Saturday and the trip to Leeds ten days later. George Weah is due to play for Liberia against Mauritius on Sunday, while the following Saturday will see Kevin Horlock in World Cup qualifying action for Northern Ireland against Malta and Mark Kennedy playing in the same tournament for the Republic of Ireland against Holland. Jeff Whitley joins City reserves Shaun Holmes and Richard McKinney in the Northern Ireland under-21 party for a game against Malta in Belfast 24 hours before the full international between the countries.

Weah to Mediate in Hosrage Crisis

George Weah returns to Liberia to play for his country against Mauritius following Manchester City’s weekend game against Coventry. But while in his native land, the striker will also undertake a diplomatic effort to free a Channel 4 TV crew charged with spying in the African state. The four-man crew, comprising two Britons, a South African and a Sierra Leonean, were detained while making a documentary and, after charges were brought, have been refused bail. But Weah is hoping to meet President Charles Taylor to ask him to show mercy to the four men – who face the death penalty if convicted of the charges. “I will do my best when I meet the President,” said the 33-year-old. “I don’t know all the technicalities of the case and exactly why they are in prison but I will be asking him to show humanity.”

Boss Looks for Further Improvement

Joe Royle is hoping his Manchester City side build on their midweek win when Coventry visit Maine Road on Saturday. And the Blues’ boss believes his team can improve in one particularly vital area when Gordon Strachan’s side visits Maine Road. After a woeful defensive display at Charlton last week, Royle was much happier with his back line against Sunderland. But the City manager nevertheless felt that the Wearsiders’ two goals at Maine Road owed to defensive lapses – and is looking for a clean sheet against the Midlanders. “Apart from the two crosses we let in, I thought our two centre halves defended very well,” he told the official City website at “But we desperately need that clean sheet and it is a big target for Saturday.”

Peter Brophy (


I can’t believe what I’m hearing.

Does Paulo Wanchope think that just because he scores a hat trick on his home début we will instantly take him to our hearts? Does he really think he can replace Wayne Biggins and Lee Bradbury?

Further, if George Weah thinks setting up two goals, laying on a third and generally running the show means he can replace Adrian Heath – he’d better think again!

Also there’s Alfie Haaland (referred to as Alf Holland on GMTV!). O.K. he covered every blade of grass, sorted out Kevin Phillips and scored a goal on his home début but that doesn’t mean they are heroes, oh no us City fans are made of sterner stuff. We expect, nay demand, they sweat blood, score three goals apiece and then lay down their lives for us. Then and only then will they be considered for the honour of receiving the ‘Jim Tolmie Most Improved Player Award.’

And what’s this with George Weah’s yellow boots; when I was thirteen I had a pair of yellow Mike Summerbee boots and everybody laughed at me, so I don’t see why it should be any different for him.

On a more serious note, I have waited four years for Premiership football to return to Maine Road, and boy oh boy did it return. The Mackems had the stupidity to open their mouths when they got it back to 2-2. They all started singing ‘City’s going down.’ Oh how I laughed when it was 4-2 and the whole of the North Stand erupted to a chorus of ‘Sunderland’s going down.’ What’s that about he who laughs last…. Or as Posh Spice’s mate says: “If this ain’t love… why does it feel so good?”

And I must mention, as I was the one who started the whole Manchester Evening News debate, what excellent coverage they gave us today (Thursday). City were on pages 1, 2, 3,and four of the sports section (I actually thought they were also on the back page when I saw the heading ‘Anglian in £262m bid for Morrison’ but then I realised he was injured so they must have run out of news and made it up!). So well done lads, you are one step closer to being accepted, notice how I dropped the U from your title? As my teacher always said to the lad sat next to me: ‘Keep up the good work’

Onwards and Upwards.

Nigel Pickles (


… but I take back everything I said after last Saturday, we’re going to win the league now! If you’d told me before the game that Quinn and Phillips were going to score, I’d have expected a 0-2 result. At least it’ll save Alfie having to dig into his pockets again.

So, if we beat Sunderland, and Sunderland beat Arsenal, then we must be able to beat Arsenal. No? Why are you all laughing?!

Steve Maclean (


My, my how one bad performance brings out the Doom Merchants (MCIVTA 634). I wonder how they feel today – 3 points and 4 goals later. Have they not yet realised that what makes the difference between success and failure is the manager, and we have one of the best, but even the best managers have a bad result from time to time.

City have turned the corner and while we will have our football fiascos as always, this year they will be fewer than usual. My prediction is that we will finish comfortably in the top 10, but with less than half the team that won promotion. Why? Just look at the opposition and their lack of quality – Coventry, Aston Villa, Ipswich, West Ham, Derby, Southampton, Bradford, Leicester, Charlton, Middlesbrough, Everton. Just look at the current team – the old men, Jobson and Bishop will be gone. Edghill and Wiekens are under threat. The Goat may get very little feed this year and Andy Morrison may struggle for his place. On the other hand, the strength of the squad has improved immensely and the old stalwarts will be very valuable as injuries and cards of various colours take their toll. Mind you, I would not let my optimism reach the level of lunacy which has, clearly further infected the bold Kevin Keegan, who predicted that City will qualify for Europe! Never mind, Kev, they are still working on a cure.

Incidentally, the story from Craig about the five quick goals at Charlton reminds me of a match in Dublin many years ago involving Bohemians, then a fully amateur team and Shamrock Rovers, the best semi-pro outfit in the League of Ireland at the time. Bohemians, who were known as the Gypsies were being beaten 6-0 with five minutes to go when they scored a fluky goal. The response from a veteran Bohemians supporter behind me on the terraces was “C’mon the Gypsies, you have them on the run!” Oh, happy days!

Anthony O’Leary (


Great result last night and superb atmosphere inside Maine Road as well. That huge City shirt that was floating down the Kippax looked brilliant from where I was in the J block (Main Stand). A few seasons ago (i.e. when we were last in the Premiership) a comeback like Sunderland’s would have spelt defeat for City. But not now – not anymore! Fantastic finish by Wanchope for his hat-trick goal – took it early with a deft flick… pure class! Though I must add that Phillips’ goal was excellent technique too. All we need now is a right sided midfielder/winger to support Edgy and the front two, plus a more creative midfielder to supply him and Kennedy. Imagine if we’re (ever) chasing a game this season and Royle plays all three of Wanchope/Weah/Goat up front in say a 3-4-3 formation? Stinks of goals in there doesn’t it?! They’re so unpredictable in their talents that they’d bamboozle any defence!

By the way, does anyone know who Joe Royle was referring to in his after-match interview when he had a pop at a certain “Scottish person up here on the radio who said Wanchope was a waste of money”? Some possible candidates obviously: Taggart-Sourface? Docherty? Brazil? (but he’s not doing his TalkSport radio show this week), possibly Hansen? Rr maybe Souness? Just wondering who it was – can’t have been Green!

As I only just got to the Parkside around 7.15pm for a quick pint with my mate before the game, I was walking right in front of the Main Entrance when big cheers go up a few yards away. Then I noticed all the City players trooping into the ground! Blimey I thought – this is about six minutes before kick-off! Although it was great to see them walk right past me I just wondered (from a security point) if this is a good idea. Surely they’re not still too shy of doing the warm-ups on the pitch before the match?! Must seem strange behaviour in any case to some of the new lads in the squad.

That’s it anyway, but just to say (you never know if any of the players are reading MCIVTA!) keep it going lads against Coventry this Saturday! Do ’em!

CTID, Jon Reese (


City Are Back! It says it all doesn’t it? The music debate has been settled with the boy Slim winning, and Paulo scores his first hat-trick in English football (at least I think that’s what he said post match). Defensively we were again poor, but fortunately in Wanchope and Weah we have players creating enough chances to keep us up… we scored 4 without the Goat, just think how many we could have scored with him! Let’s not get carried away; it could still be a tough season but at least we have 3 points to build on and a 100% home record. I’m sure many more will be able to give accurate match reports, so I’ll just leave it to a run through the team.

Weaver – Could do nothing about the two goals and was quick off his line on a few occasions, very quiet for him in the first-half.
Tiatto – Covered every inch of the left hand side of the pitch, links well with Kennedy and adds pace to our sometimes sluggish defence.
Prior – Had to face Quinn which wasn’t easy, but made some good defensive headers and looked comfortable bringing the ball forward.
Howey – Better performance, again had the trouble of marking Quinn. But surely Prior or Howey would make better captains than Edghill?
Edghill – Too quiet to be captain but made some good forward runs and some very good crosses. Unlike on Saturday he couldn’t be blamed for either goal. He was let down by nobody sticking to a right-midfield rôle, though his better placed passes did find Wanchope in space down the right.
Kennedy – Got into the match early on and again was City’s main source of attacking options. Had the beating of Sunderland’s right-back on many occasions, what would we do without him?
Wiekens – Did well to drop back to pick up the pieces of Quinn’s knock-downs. His support for the defence was very good but is he too similar to Haaland? Had one shot which nearly cleared the Platt Lane stand.
Horlock – Enjoyed the inside left rôle and often gave Kennedy an option inside. I think once Goater is fit it’ll either be Kev or Gerard who makes way, shame really.
Haaland – Played well and scored the 2nd goal. It was a delight to see him with two clenched fists in salute to the City fans at the end of the match. You feel with the £20 incident the other night that he really wants to be here. Didn’t enjoy the right-midfield rôle.
Weah – Some lovely touches and flicks. A very intelligent player, I’m sure he will score many a goal (though I did say the same about Badbuy); hit the side netting which half the ground thought had gone in.
Wanchope – What can I say? Man of the Match. The boy is a genius. The jury might still be out – clown vs. genius, but as this has been going on for 3 seasons+. I think we must rest with the latter. Defenders seemed s*** scared every time he gets the ball, deserved his hat-trick and could have had a few more. Let’s see if he can repeat this performance against the Rags!

No subs used by big Joe, so Dickov, Ritchie and W-P just ran along the touchline a few times for good measure, though it would have been cruel to take anyone off. The players on the pitch deserved to show us that they could do it.

David Ellery – Crap as usual. Can he not be deselected to join Urine Rennie in the Nationwide? Joe even had to get off the bench to applaud a decision by Dave to give us a free-kick for a foul on Edghill, his celebratory wave to the crowd was a nice touch.

Does anyone know if the M60 was shut last night? Our bus seemed to take a detour through Gorton and Failsworth after a failed attempt to drive through Stockport! 3 hours it took us, but I think I was the only one on the bus who didn’t mind. Happy to be a Blue on a bus full of Mackems!

‘City Are Back’ – James Walsh (


I am sadly not surprised by the comments by some contributors in MCIVTA 634 and recently on Blue View. One game into the season and people are ranting on about buying even more players and those we have are useless. Yes the result and performance on Saturday was woeful and I can fully understand the emotions felt but we shouldn’t be panicking already. Comments like those made will only cause stress and worry to all those attending on Wednesday and Saturday which, as we has seen in the past, is easily passed on to the players on the pitch. We have had a dramatic and mind-boggling 18-24 months, which was achieved by the players and staff with the support of the fans. Getting behind the team regardless of how good or bad they are playing has become more the norm in that time but it doesn’t take long for the ‘boo boys’ to have an excuse to get vocal again. Let’s not give them the chance, give the chance to JR and the players. If we have a start like the last time we were in the Premiership (thanks Alan Ball!?&*#) then we have reason to complain. What annoyed me most about the comments is the singling out of Richard Edghill. Are people forgetting that for the most of last season and the start of this he is the right side of the team! The fact Robertson and the Charlton left back had the freedom of doing what they wanted on Saturday is not the fault of one player, it’s a team thing. They looked as if they were laughing with the absurdity of it! I would have thought that JR would have said to one of the midfield, “Oh, by the way will you occasionally wander over to the right?” The team played badly and they know it; hopefully they’ll put it right over the next few matches and despite my own anxiety I’m willing to reserve my opinion on our chances until then.

Kelvin Stephens – Blue in Blue (


Listening to the game against Sunderland from Israel really made my day. I was glad to see that Royle has made a great success with the new players that he purchased; as a proof only new players scored the 4 goals. But one think really concerned me: it’s not just City, it’s almost everywhere, even here in Israel. In today’s professional football, young players have less and less chances. There’s nothing better than seeing players like Leon Mike for example who was raised in the club, playing and proving why it is so important to put effort and money in the youth clubs. But today when you have to pay a lot for purchases and wages you don’t always have reserved money to invest in talented young players and that’s a pity.

One coach can say I don’t buy any new players but build a team for next years with young home players. But no coach will have the courage to say that because by saying it you take the risk of a very unsuccessful season.

Eliasaph Deuel (


It had obviously not sunk into my mind that we were now in the Premiership as last week I made a request for Fulham instead of Charlton tickets. The way the team played on Saturday they obviously forgot they were in the Premiership too. We were dire.

In the last two years Big Joe rebuilt the team’s belief and we were real battlers who would never give up – what happened? We were gutless, spineless and very disorganised. Charlton are not a good side, we took 4 points off them last season and only ended up 1 point behind them.

On Saturday there looked several players who are not good enough and though Joe has to be careful about wholesale changes we need more quality players. I know people get upset when we attack Edghill but he was a liability last year never mind in the Premiership. The back four was totally disjointed – Morrison would never have let the defence run around like the headless chickens they were. Edghill is the captain, it is his job to organise and motivate – he failed abjectly. Howey looked clueless and Wiekens (who I think is a talented player) is too slow at this level.

We were overrun in midfield and Weah and Wanchope received no service of any quality. MOTD was not a totally fair representation of what happened but if we play like this for the rest of the season we are going to make Watford’s achievements last season look magnificent.

After that moan there were a few good points:

  • Weaver – he looks like he can handle crosses now, his only weakness before.
  • Tiatto – good as ever.
  • Haaland – looked committed in midfield.
  • Shaun W-P – fast and skilful, he looks like he is going to be a very good player; hopefully he will fill out a bit.

Sunderland this evening. So Quinny is bound to get at least one or two. Let’s hope we look a little more competent or 95-96 here we go again.

Alex Heylin (


Sportfirst, Britain’s only national Sunday sports publication, is looking for a contributor to provide match reports for all City home and away games this season. They need someone to contribute for this Saturday, so if you’re interested get cracking.

Contact Lucy on 0207 490 7575.

They pay £30 per report, which is then called in on a free phone number. They are looking for about 150 words.

Via Katie Willis, PR & Marketing Executive, Manchester City Football Club – 0161 232 3009



Many, many thanks to everyone who replied to my impassioned plea last time! Armed with all the information you supplied, I have now dealt with the obnoxious Villa fan in the office…

Being back in the Premiership, it reminds me of all the aggro I used to get at school! Actually, I told him he was an arrogant git and had he considered becoming a Rag at all?!

CTID, Nigel Timperley – Sheffield Blue (


My local cable monopoly gets a Fox feed of Premiership matches live at 7.00am every Saturday morning (Vancouver, Pacific Standard Time) followed by a second match, on a tape-delayed basis, at 9.30. A bonus is that, when they announce the results at the conclusion of the first, they don’t divulge the result of the second. A second bonus is that, while one has to squirm while the anchormen hysterically introduce the fixtures – North American commentators, both north and south of the “49”, are graduates of the Murray Walker School of speech modulation and self control – the actual match commentary is sensibly handed over to Brits who know their craft and who actually understand what’s going on down on the pitch. Hence it was that I arose early on Saturday salivating at the prospect of a new season and the chance to see City “in the flesh” at Charlton in the second, t.d., match. Martin Tyler did his usual competent job of the fairly uninspiring clash between Reg Vardy and Sega at the Stadium of Light and I skipped the intervening inquest into Canada’s hopeless attempt to qualify for the next World Cup. The screaming cadences of Max Breros in the FOX “Sports Control” which, I believe, is located in that hotbed of football fervour – Los Angeles – gave way to the restrained tones of Guy Havard at The Valley. Having earlier seen Seaman lose the plot, I was keen to see how realistic were Weaver’s chances of replacing the ageing pony-tailed ‘keeper in the England line-up.

Enough has been written about this débâcle but I should have guessed that my day was not going to unfold according to plan when Gary Dobson, in the Toronto studio, in alluding to the “fierce rivalry” between the Forces of Light and Trafford Rangers, referred to City as the “Baby Blues”. I threw a slipper at the Logie Baird Mark One but could not dissuade the grinning jackass from inviting viewers’ e-mail votes as to which of the newly-promoted three were likely to go straight back down. “Hah”, I snarled, “just goes to show how much you guys know. City to go down? What with Weah, Weaver, Wanchope? With Captain Royle and First Mate Donachie at the helm? Why can’t you people stick to what you know – Hah-key, Football (sic), Lacrosse and X-Games Skateboarding?” Some two hours later, I lit a thoughtful cigarette and wondered and wondered and wondered…

My unease was compounded by one cameraman’s obsession with zooming in on the unattractive features of the oaf Gallagher though he did redeem himself at intervals, during the match, by focusing on a rather pretty blonde lady seated directly in front of Alan Curbishley. My other on-going gripe is with the kit. I can just about accept the laser blue but not the wide white flash on the sleeves. As for the crest – this is a pretentious melange reminiscent of some long-forgotten Balkan vassal state in the old Austria-Hungary Empire. Many moons ago, I came across a criticism of this mess in, I think, Blue View or Postcards from the Edge penned by Cathal (?). On second thoughts, it might not have been him – the piece was brief and succinct – but the author likened the crest to some invention of Mussolini and assumed that the three stars were meant to represent the three divisions we have graced within the span of four years. Is it not possible to revert to the circular badge with the ship and stripes motif or the red rose? In fact, while keeping the laser blue, why not readopt the format of the late 60’s and early 70’s strip?

As for the match itself, it was no contest from the “off”. Weaver’s incredible save from Jensen after a mere 24 seconds was but an aperitif for the main course which largely featured a disorganised defence – especially down our right flank – and an apparent inability to keep the ball on the ground. The last time I saw City play was the January mauling in the FAC at the hands of Leeds and City’s incompetence, in almost every department was depressingly reminiscent of that fiasco. To quote Yogi Berra: “it was d