Newsletter #644

A good result on Saturday sees City in fairly confident mood for tomorrow’s visit to the Priestfield Stadium, which is to be televised ‘live’ on BSkyB. This issue has three match reports from White Hart Lane, two for the Gillingham game, and a couple of matchviews from the reserves’ mid-week débâcle against Leeds United, including more bad news for Reg. Thanks to all those who responded to my plea for more reports – more welcome for Thursday’s issue!

This one goes out to 3,446 addresses.

Next game: Tuesday 26th September 2000, Gillingham away (WCup 2nd leg)


City Grind Out Spurs Draw

Manchester City are in twelfth place in the Premiership after picking up another point from Saturday’s visit to Spurs. The Blues were under pressure for long periods of the match but earned a 0-0 draw thanks to a dogged defensive display. Despite losing Steve Howey with a hamstring injury early on, the City rearguard coped well with the home side’s powerful attacking trio of Rebrov, Ferdinand and Iverson. And when Goerge Graham’s men did break through, they found Nicky Weaver in fine form. The Blues offered little in the first hour, with only a Wanchope header testing Spurs’ goalkeeper Neil Sullivan, but posed more of a threat after George Weah replaced Dickov on the hour. The Liberian created his team’s best chance when he played Paulo Wanchope clear on goal, but though the ex-West Ham man lifted his attempt over the advancing Sullivan, the ball agonisingly dropped inches wide of the far post.

First Clean Sheet Delights Royle

Manchester City had conceded thirteen goals in their first six games back in the Premiership before Saturday’s trip to White Hart Lane. So Joe Royle was delighted with the sound defensive display which enabled his team to take a point from the clash with Spurs. The Blues even kept George Graham’s men at bay during a five-minute second-half spell when substitute Lee Crooks left the field to receive treatment – leaving the team down to ten men, with all three substitutes already having been used. And Royle was delighted with the resolve shown by his players. “I’m not going to exactly crack open the champagne, but yes, I am very happy to have kept that first clean sheet,” reflected the City boss. “It will give all the players a lot of encouragement and confidence for the rest of the season. We now know we can stop the goals going in.”

Graham Praises Resilient City

Manchester City again showed their top-flight credentials on Saturday, earning a point away to a Spurs side which finished in the top half of the table last term. And after the match, Tottenham manager George Graham tipped the Blues to prosper this season. Graham was disappointed that his side didn’t win the game after having the bulk of the possession and chances. But the Spurs boss was quick to recognise that City had made life difficult for his team. “I knew this would be a tough game because City are very well organised and know what they are doing,” he commented. “They are also big and strong with a great team spirit. I feel they will cope okay in the Premiership this season. I’m sure Joe is a lot more happy about this result than I am.” The one-time Arsenal manager was also impressed with the fine display of City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver, whom he hailed as a “great prospect for the future”.

Howey Missing for Three Weeks

Steve Howey’s injury was the only disappointment for Manchester City at White Hart Lane on Saturday. The former England defender limped out of the action on twenty minutes having torn a hamstring, and will now be sidelined for three weeks. The news means that the ex-Newcastle star will be absent for the Worthington Cup engagement at Gillingham on Tuesday and will also miss out on facing his old club at Maine Road next Saturday. However, with the Blues having a two-week break from action after the clash with the Geordies, the player has a good chance of returning for the following game, against Bradford on October 14. Meanwhile, Paulo Wanchope jarred a knee at White Hart Lane, and though the injury is not serious, may miss the trip to Priestfield.

County and Wolves Set Up Jobson Chase

Stockport County have already failed in an attempt to sign Richard Jobson on loan. But the First Division outfit are renewing their efforts to take the defender to Edgeley Park, while Wolves are showing an interest. Jobson recently turned down the chance to spend a month with County, and gave an identical response to similar offers from Oldham and Nottingham Forest. However, the Manchester Evening News claims that Stockport are now thinking in terms of a permanent deal. With the veteran’s current engagement at Maine Road expiring this season, there has been talk that he could be tempted to leave the Blues if offered a two-year contract elsewhere and it’s reported that County want to take advantage of this fact. Wolves, meanwhile, only want the ex-Oldham star on loan while injured defenders Sedgley and Pollet regain fitness. It’s said that Jobson will make a decision later this week, though the recent injury to Steve Howey must raise questions over whether any move is likely before the Blues face Newcastle on Saturday.

Disappointing Weekend for Loan Men

Manchester City currently have six players on loan with other clubs. And the four of those men who were in weekend action each suffered disappointment. Leon Mike made his league début when he lined up for Oxford at Millwall, but had little chance to shine as the Second Division’s basement club crashed to a 5-0 defeat. And Jim Whitley’s temporary employer also suffered a heavy reverse, with the Northern Ireland man being substituted in the 4-0 thrashing by Wolves at Molineux. The arrival of Terry Cooke, meanwhile, failed to arrest Sheffield Wednesday’s slide as Preston won 3-1 at Hillsborough and Andy Morrison has yet to feature on the winning side for Blackpool after the Tangerines were beaten 3-1 by Chesterfield. Nick Fenton was an unused substitute for Notts County against Brentford, while Chris Killen failed even to make the bench for Wrexham’s match against Walsall.

Taylor Turns Down Loan Move

Gareth Taylor has rejected the chance to leave Maine Road on loan. The ex-Sheffield United man reportedly wants a permanent move away from Manchester City. Taylor was transfer listed after losing his first-team place last season and is available for a fee of around £200,000. But after turning down a move to Dutch side Fortuna Sittard, the player has seen little materialise in the way of permanent offers. Nevertheless, the Oswestry-born star has opted to remain with the Blues rather than putting himself in the shop window with by spending a month with Second Division Rotherham United.

Goater Returns but Reserves Crash

Shaun Goater played for City’s reserves last week to sample his first match action since being injured in the club’s opening pre-season friendly. But the presence of last season’s leading first-team marksman couldn’t prevent a heavy defeat for the Blues against Leeds. City slid to a 5-0 home defeat against the Yorkshiremen in front of 829 spectators at Hyde, with a Darren Huckerby hat-trick helping the visitors to a four-goal lead at the break. Richard Edghill’s woes continued, as he conceded a penalty before departing injured at the break, but Goater at least provided some consolation for the Blues as he played for the whole ninety minutes. “You can do as much as you like in training but it is only in games when you really find out how fit you are,” explained the Bermudian. “The main thing is that I can now look forward to coming into training every day and working with the boys instead of watching them from the sidelines.”

City Stars Earn Call-Ups

Manchester City can expect to see players called up regularly for international duty this season. And several more members of the cosmopolitan Maine Road squad will be in action for their countries in the first week of October. Alfie Haaland is set for a recall to the Norwegian squad for a World Cup qualifier against Wales, while Paul Ritchie and, for the first time, Paul Dickov, are expected to be in the Scotland party for the games in Croatia and San Marino. Youngster Rhys Day has been selected for the Welsh under-21 squad for the forthcoming matches against Norway and Poland. Meanwhile, Danny Tiatto has been named in the Australian party for October’s LG Cup tournament in Dubai. Several other Maine Road men (among them Weah, Wanchope, Horlock, Whitley and Weaver) will no doubt also be jetting out for representative action, but one City player not expected to be required by his country is Mark Kennedy, who was arrested when he last joined up with the Republic of Ireland squad.

Weah – City Making Good Progress

George Weah recognises that Manchester City are not in a position to challenge the Premiership top guns. But the Liberian striker believes that Joe Royle is in the process of building a successful team at Maine Road. Weah admits that the City team is currently in transition, but says that Royle is laying strong foundations at the club. And while the 33-year-old doesn’t envisage instant success for the Blues, he expects them eventually to be challenging for honours. “It may not be this year, or next year and I may have already gone when it happens but I feel sure Manchester City can get themselves among the very best clubs in England,” he claimed. “I am enjoying it here because I can sense the determination in everyone, the players, the coaches and the staff to make the club better and better. We are improving week by week.”

City Look for Gills Repeat

Manchester City drew the first leg of the second round Worthington Cup tie against Gillingham last week. But the omens for the Blues are good as they visit Priestfield for Tuesday’s second leg. Satellite broadcaster BSkyB, possibly scenting an upset, has selected the game for live television coverage. But in the teams’ only previous knock-out meeting, in 1907-08 when the Gills were known as New Brompton, City notched a 2-1 victory in an FA Cup second round replay in Kent after a 1-1 draw at Maine Road. And in April 1999, the Blues won 2-0 at Priestfield in the Second Division, the Gills having drawn at Maine Road earlier in the campaign. City, of course, also managed a 3-0 win at Gillingham in a pre-season friendly less than two months ago so, although disappointed that his team failed to win the home leg of this tie, Joe Royle will no doubt still be confident that the Blues can win through on Tuesday to keep Wembley hopes alive.

Peter Brophy (


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 24th September 2000

The last time we were here was in January 1996, when we lost 1-0. White Hart Lane is a bit different today. The stands have all been improved and the view from the upper tier provided an extensive vista of advertising hoardings, and a giant monitor which played a sort of Spurs advert before the game: a montage of past glories, recent successes and Ricky Villa’s extraordinary goal against us in the FA Cup replay of 1981.

They were without Campbell and Anderton, we had Kennedy and Weah on the bench, Goater remained out still recovering from injury. City had a defensive look, and Dickov started instead of Weah. We began:

Haaland   Prior   Howey    Ritchie
Whitley  Horlock  Wiekens  Tiatto

Spurs started better, as expected, and Weaver had to make a few good saves early on. Dickov looked busy and hit a good shot directly at their ‘keeper, Sullivan. Spurs’ new star Rebrov was playing quite deep and luckily struggled to make any impact. Howey picked up an unpleasant knock (from Thatcher?) and was eventually substituted. Haaland moved to centre half and Crooks came on at right back. Thatcher appeared intent on kicking Dickov, who fell over a lot, as usual, but did not resort to his previous theatrical complaints.

Half time we were relieved that it was nil nil. They had had most of the possession and looked most likely to score. Weaver was keeping us in it.

Second half Kennedy came on for Tiatto, on the left. Play started much as the first half. Then Sullivan had to make a save from a ‘Richard Edghill Coventry’ type back pass from Carr, but just headed it over. As time went on Spurs got more frustrated and we gained confidence. Weah came on for Dickov and City started to look the team most likely to score. We came close on several occasions and Wanchope looked certain to score but lifted his shot wide.

It ended nil nil, and we were clearly much happier about the result than Spurs. I think we would actually have won this game if we hadn’t run out of substitutes as a result of Howey’s injury. If Bishop had come on when Spurs started to lose it in the second half who knows?

Bill Hardman (


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 24th September 2000

This was a breathtaking exhibition of incisive, attacking football. The best match of the season. OK I lie, but from a City viewpoint this was an impressive and important display, culminating in our first clean sheet of the season. It was no surprise that City reverted to the tried and trusted 4-5-1 away formation, with Weah and Kennedy dropping to the bench, Dickov (wide right) and Tiatto (wide left) coming in. Wiekens was fit enough to regain his midfield berth from Bishop, who was also on the bench. Spurs attacked us from the kick-off, Ferdinand forcing a great save from Weaver and Haaland heading off the line within the first couple of minutes. The first half settled into a kind of rhythm, with Spurs dominating possession but being frustrated by our dogged and determined defending. The stats tell that Spurs had something like 15 shots during the game but most were from 20 yards out and many were way off target. Nevertheless, Weaver had to save smartly at various points throughout the game, probably most crucially from Rebrov towards the end of the contest. This was in fact the first game that Weaver has really had a chance to show off and I’m sure that his performance will give him and his team mates a boost of confidence.

Howey, who had started very impressively, went off after 18 minutes with a damaged hamstring, Haaland moving into the centre with Lee Crooks coming on at right back. Crooks did very well although Spurs had little width to really test him. City were really non-existent as an attacking force during the first half, our best chances coming from a Stephen Carr overhit backpass, which Sullivan scrambled clear for a corner, and a Wanchope header. Very early in the second half, Kennedy regained his left wing berth from Tiatto and on the hour Weah replaced Dickov. Almost immediately, Crooks was carried off on a stretcher and it looked like we might have to see out the game with 10 men (as all our subs had been used). Thankfully Crooks trotted back onto the pitch 10 or 15 minutes later, to put the final touches on our defensive display. Ironically, whilst we were down to 10 men, we probably had our best 2 chances. Weah and Wanchope exchanged passes, with Paulo drawing Sullivan before his chip went agonisingly inches wide. Shortly after, Weah shimmied past 3 defenders but his shot was tame and Sullivan easily saved. At the final whistle, Spurs fans booed their team (the only noise they had made all day – City fans were in great voice as usual), and although the Spurs of today lacks the creativity and flair of the team of yesteryear, we deserved credit for the way we played. Without doubt JR will continue with this formation (personnel permitting) in our away games until and if it fails. The ability to bring on Weah to supplement our attacking options when the opposition have been ‘softened up’ is a powerful option and hopefully George will be happy with this so long as he starts in our home games. I’ve said before that Wanchope is ideal for the ‘one up front’ system, but it will be interesting to see what we do when Paulo is missing (which, being one booking away from a suspension surely won’t be long!). Obviously the point was very welcome, but the fact that we stopped Spurs from scoring was the main high point of the game. Hopefully we can continue in the same miserly manner from now on, but with the addition of a little more attacking flair.

Phil Hartley (


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 24th September 2000

Good point, well made. City’s intentions were clear as soon as the team was flashed up on the screen, with the playmakers (Kennedy, Bishop, Weah) all on the bench and the chasers, scrappers and harriers (Tiatto, Whitley, Dickov) all starting. All those carrying injuries had been declared fit and were in the team.

As expected, City set about doing what so many teams do to us at Maine Road, closing down the opposition, denying them space and stopping them playing. Weaver saved well when Ferdinand found space for a shot on the left side of our area and in the ensuing scramble Howey was hurt. He limped off a few minutes later to be replaced by Crooks at right back, Haaland moving to central defence. Tottenham had the bulk of possession for the first half but were mostly restricted to long (and very wayward) shots, though Haaland and Crooks both had to make vital headed interceptions when a goal looked likely. Not much was happening at the other end: Wiekens tried a volley in a similar position to his goal at Leeds but without the same happy result, Carr for some reason lobbed a back pass into his goalmouth which Sullivan, unable to handle the ball, had to head behind for a corner; and just before half time Wanchope met a free kick with a firm downward header which Sullivan clawed away with some difficulty. The Tottenham fans seemed a bit disgruntled with the first half, but it suited us just fine.

Early in the second half Vega rattled the bar with a firm header, Prior meeting Vega’s head with an equally firm header just after the ball had gone; both needed lengthy treatment. Kennedy replaced Tiatto, who presumably must have been feeling his previous injury as Kennedy had clearly been told to play much deeper than usual, marking Carr rather than the other way round (not a rôle you’d put Mark into unless you had to). Weaver brought off a couple of excellent saves from Rebrov and Horlock had a free kick deflected just wide. Poor Wanchope was getting increasingly frustrated as decision after decision went against him, despite all the tugs and pushes he was suffering. When he finally won a free kick he sank to his knees and put his hands together in exaggerated gratitude which might well have earned his fifth yellow card (luckily it didn’t).

With about twenty-five minutes to go Weah replaced Dickov to a tumultuous reception from the South Stand; instantly we began to look like an attacking force for the first time in the match. Dickov and Wanchope had chased around a fair amount but hadn’t combined at all; the two Ws began to play one-twos, running into space and seeking each other out. Then Crooks was badly (and obviously) fouled but the referee allowed play to go on until Wanchope gave the ball away, tackled back and was penalised. Crooks was taken straight down to the treatment room on a stretcher, and having used three subs we were down to ten men. Things looked wobbly for a couple of minutes, but then Weah and Wanchope put together the best move of the match, the final shot sliding agonisingly past the post. Weah had two more shots saved by Sullivan, Horlock fired just over the bar and Ritchie, for some reason suddenly in space in the area, panicked and shot across an empty goalmouth with Weah and Wanchope both available for a cut-back. Crooks staggered back into the fray to restore our numbers, and we finished strongly with a couple of corners in injury time.

Newspaper reports suggested the Spurs players were booed off, but if they were it was the only time their fans made any noise throughout the game. In the occasional pauses in the City songs there was not a sound to be heard – the “Just like being in church” song was never more appropriate. The result was well received by the travelling support, and thanks to those players, especially Nicky, who came the full length of the pitch to receive the applause – but why can’t they all do it?

A draw was the least we deserved, and individual ratings wouldn’t reflect what was a real team effort. If we show this commitment every week (with Weah, Bishop and Kennedy playing a greater part in home matches) we’ll be fine. Man of the match has to be Weaver, who was totally assured in everything he did. I thought his best save was probably the least spectacular – the ball was deflected back from the byline to an unmarked Tottenham player (Sherwood?) ten yards out. Weaver was off his line in a flash, standing tall and blocking the shot with his legs on the six-yard line. It had looked a certain goal.

Nil-nil looks boring, and some papers suggested that it was. In fact the second half in particular had plenty of goalmouth action and no little excitement – it could easily have gone either way. And isn’t it good to be the underdog again and feel pleased instead of frustrated with an away point?

Piers Pennington (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. GILLINGHAM (Worthington Cup), Wednesday 20th September 2000

As we set off for the journey to the Mecca, the skies were slate grey and it was absolutley pelting down. A comment was made that this would probably help Gillingham rather than us and alas this proved to be correct. What is debatable is how much the Gillingham performance was helped by the weather and how much it was helped by an unbelievably passionless and insipid performance by the Laser Blues.

My mate was taking his 4-year-old son for his first game. The young lad’s granddad is a season ticket holder at The Swamp so it was important for a claim to be staked first for him to enter the Blue Brotherhood rather than become a nameless victim of the Red Propaganda machine!

Walking up to the ground and it was pleasing to see a big smile on the young man’s face as he saw the stadium for the first time in his life. Little did he know what was to follow.

City started off as if it was a pre-season friendly. They really didn’t look interested at all. Initial impressions of Gillingham were that they were a hard working and efficient side yet quite limited and reliant on the pace of Asaba up front.

The first half was dreadful with the players doing their best to send an already docile crowd fully to sleep. Though not overly defensive, when they didn’t have the ball Gillingham got plenty of men behind the ball and it became clear that it was up to City to find a way through. Sadly, and perhaps worryingly, this proved to be beyond them in the first 86 minutes.

The one man capable of unlocking the defence, Ian Bishop, was having one of his off days which we may see more and more of as age catches up. For me, this is the main area of the team that I think we need to improve on – we should buy a quality creative midfielder as soon as possible as on this showing, Bishop is likely to be more effective coming on as a substitute when the other team is tiring as opposed to starting the match.

Kennedy was also a major disappointment. You can understand it to some extent when he struggles against Premiership full backs but against Gillingham he contributed very little in terms of meaningful contributions in the first half and showed even less in the second half when he completely disappeared.

Up front, Wanchope and Weah looked dangerous when they got the ball but for me, Weah in particular did not do enough to get involved in the game. He had a couple of good runs and should have scored one after a mesmerising dribble, but still didn’t quite show enough hunger in my book.

Half time came and we all hoped that the team would be in for a right Royle rollicking and would come out a different side in the second half.

Alas not. The game meandered on as it did before until the inevitable happened and Gillingham smashed one home after Weaver had fumbled (or am I being harsh and should say saved?), and Paul Smith made no mistake sending the loyal band of Gillingham fans into ecstacy.

This finally roused City into action and from then on it was a different game. We looked like scoring every time we went forward and eventually, after having an effort saved which he really should have scored, Weah grabbed the equaliser. There was still time for Weah to have a header clawed back (which apparently was over the line) by the Gills’ ‘keeper Bartram and for Wanchope to have a clear penalty denied (can’t remember whether this was before or after the goal) but ultimately City probably only deserved a draw.

On the night, very few players emerged with any credit. Weaver hasn’t started the season that well in my opinion and his handling has looked a bit suspect at times – then again he is still learning his trade and so this should be expected to some extent. Crooks isn’t up to it – end of story. Ritchie looks good and has got a mean shoulder barge. Haaland looks solid, committed and effective. Bishop, on this showing, looks old (though it was only his second game this season so again maybe I am being a bit harsh).

So, four home games in and only one win. We have to start winning at home – end of story.

It is going to be a very tough game down at the Priestfield Stadium but I have got a feeling that we will pull through.

The young lad seemed to enjoy himself in the end, especially when the crowd started getting involved near the end. One felt like apologising to him for the dross that he had just watched – but then you thought to yourself: ‘Why should he be any different. We have all had to endure worse than that’. Hopefully another Blue has entered the fold which is about the best thing that you can take from a night which, overall, is best forgotten.

Paul Cooper (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. GILLINGHAM (Worthington Cup), Wednesday 20th September 2000

Just over 17,000 turned up on Wednesday night to watch what should have been a fairly easy home game. Everyone was full of anticipation for lots of lovely goals and plenty of skill from Messrs Weah and Wanchope as they ran rings around the opposition. As they always say though, it’s foolish to build your hopes up because as the next 90 minutes of football proved, hope is a fickle thing.

The best part of the first half had got to be “Right here Right now” coming over the PA system. The rest was downhill from there. Both teams ran out the whistle went and frankly little happened. You normally expect a game to start off at a trot and build from there after five minutes or so, but on this occasion we waited and waited… Five minutes became ten, became twenty and still nothing to write home about. Worse still, sitting as we were in the North Stand (North Stand, North Stand, give us a song!) It seemed for large parts of the half that we should have brought binoculars as most of the action was down the other end of the pitch. That said, Weaver was troubled only the once in the first half, but then again the Gills’ ‘keeper had a pretty lean time of it too with only a couple of moments of real danger. Kennedy made a few good runs up the left but seemed to be at ‘sixes and sevens’ when he got to the 15-yard line; did he play inside or just cross the ball as he has done for the last two seasons? The rôle of part time striker doesn’t appear to sit too well with him and both Weah and Wanchope seemed to be quite happy to allow him to make the runs in and then calmly leave him to be dispossessed at the end. Another plus point has to be Whitley. Again he ran with energy and of the whole team only his crossing and passing was made with any great accuracy. Haaland was another bright light in a fairly dull pack. He was here there and everywhere and saved an almost certain goal in the second half with a run from the centre to clear the defence.

For a time I really felt we were watching a local schoolboy outfit as a tight little pack of players ran hither and thither across the park with huge spaces up both flanks. At one point at least one third of the entire length of the pitch had not a single player on it of either side; surely that alone is comment enough on how badly the plot had been lost? Half time. So in went the teams for a good talking to, and off went the crowd for a well earned Bovril. Little clusters stood around and many heads were shaken in disbelief with mutterings of ‘Second Division’ liberally sprinkled about. Notably the ‘Kick for Cash’ got a bigger cheer as the first kid slotted home, than anything that had happened in the first 45 minutes.

So to the second half, and at least for those of us in the North Stand there was plenty to see as Gillingham laid siege to the City penalty area. The goal when it came was inevitable. The yellow shirts had spent just too long like a pack of marauding hyenas to be denied forever. Contrary to other reports I have seen in the press, the goal was not a brilliant chest down and then a wonderful conversion by Smith. The goal I saw was a horrible scramble and a shocking clearance by Weaver straight into the path of Paul Smith who with a “thank-you very much” slammed the ball home.

The equaliser – when it came – was almost a complete mystery to the fans at our end of the ground as we couldn’t see a damned thing and took our cue to cheer from the few die hards in the Platt Lane. On TV, after, it looked a scrappy piece of play but as they say “they all count”. The two major items of controversy, the second Weah goal, not given and the Wanchope holding, penalty denied, unfortunately couldn’t be seen at all clearly from where we sat so I can’t comment other than to say on TV the goal looked suspect but the penalty was a definite. The last ten minutes were reasonable, with much to oohh and aahh about and a City team playing with a bit more conviction and energy. It’s a real shame they couldn’t have done the same for a full 90 minutes or we might have won by a good, clear margin. Overall though the performance has to be one of the poorest that I’ve seen City play in a long time, yes even worse than Charlton! I only hope teacher Joe had the cane out and whopped a few bottoms very hard because the schoolboy side that played Wednesday deserved it. The passing was lamentable even from the usually rock solid ‘Bish’ (substituted). Prior looked like he had taken over Reg’s rôle with a vengeance in that he couldn’t pass and couldn’t defend. Weaver, not one of his better days at the office, although the standing jump to clear the hoardings when the ball went out of play got a good natured cheer. Wanchope, seems to be developing an inability to pass and is taking on too many solo runs when a smartly delivered cross would bring dividends. There isn’t much else to add really except to say that next week’s return leg has got to be better than this. The report on Wednesday night should have read “could do better” but frankly it’s more likely to read “couldn’t do much worse”. Over to you Joe!

Dave Cash (


I’m not really a match report person, but for what it’s worth: It seemed a bit like a day off from the reality of league games and a chance to relax a little. Crooks, Wright-Phillips and Bishop made their first starts of the a season and the 3-5-2 formation was dusted down as well. I thought we spent most of the night trying to walk it in. We looked a class above them, but only functioning at 50%.

Defence coped happily, especially Prior who looked excellent. Thought Granville added something when he came on. Midfield. Crooks looked completely lost, but what do you expect at right wing back? Wright-Phillips was OK, but again should have been out wide, not tucked inside Crooks. Bishop was awful. No one seemed to boo him when his passes went astray, though. Kennedy didn’t exactly tear them apart either. Jeff battled well, as you would expect. Up front George had several good runs but his finishing was, er, wayward and Paulo really tried hard all night. I’d be tempted to play Weah behind a front two. Paulo holds it up brilliantly but seems to lack support a lot of the time.

What concerned a little was our lack of depth. Suddenly Allsopp and Jobson (that said, cool as usual) were on the bench. But they could have both been out on loan, if things had gone to plan, so we almost had Gareth Taylor and Gary Mason on the bench, by my reckoning. Didn’t take much to expose our second (third?) string players.

I wouldn’t read too much into this performance, though. Crowd was 17,000, kids being let in for £1 and all tickets £3 off. Bearing in mind the last time we played Gillingham they had 34,000, this time there were about 100.

Andy Noise (


Don’t ask me why I went to this game; I guess something to do with the Goat’s return. Anyway, I thought I’d write a report, to inform others of the progress of the reserve players.

In the 1st half, we were completely outplayed, midfield (especially Mason and Crooks) completely overrun, defence absymal, and Richard McKinney in goals an embarrassment (he seems unable to kick). Leeds were 4-0 up by the break, with Huckerby a class above everyone else. He tormented poor Stephen Jordan, our young left back, in particular. Day and Jobbo did little to stop the flow at the back.

And that moves me unto Richard Edghill. Now I have a lot of sympathy for what the guy has been through. I still think he is a good footballer who has basically lost all confidence. He was typical Edghill. First 20 minutes he was great, did everything right. Then a terrible tackle on Huckerby to give away a penalty, and the lad was destroyed. Couldn’t place a pass or time a tackle, and he came off at half-time looking very down. In fact, it looked as if he was in tears. He was substituted at half-time.

Second half, City actually dominated without looking too great. The Goat, mostly anonymous, had a good chance but scuffed it. Still, great to see him back; no reaction on the knee. Shuker looks a great talent on the wing, very fast, and tricky; not as strong as Wright-Philips though. Subs Etuhu, Danny Granville and Allsopp also had their moments, with Leeds ‘keeper Paul Robinson making some breath-taking saves. A late Leeds goal wrapped up a dismal night. Overall, our supposedly great young players, with the exception of Shuker, looked very average; that is, McKinney, Jordan, and Day. Great to see the Goat get 90 minutes, and finally don’t think anyone will ever buy Gary Mason. He really did play for our 1st team once, didn’t he?

Mark Braude (


Steve Parish took issue with my couch-potato report on the Middlesbrough match over the award of a free kick to City when Ricard was booked for dissent (I said it should have been a dropped ball). Steve’s view was that the decision was correct, but I’m still not convinced. The laws of the game are quite specific about what a free kick can be given for, and showing dissent is not one of the reasons (though it is of course a bookable offence). Normally if a player shows dissent while the ball is still in play the referee will wait for the next stoppage to caution him.

As I understand it, the change in the rules for the Premiership this year mean that a free kick can be moved forward if a player shows dissent, but it has not been added to the list of offences for which a free kick can be given. But I may be wrong.

Piers Pennington (


The County Wicklow branch next meeting is on Tuesday 26th of September at 8pm in Katie Gallaghers Bray. This will probably be one of the shortest meetings on record, due to the fact that the mighty Blues are live on Sky. Details of our trip to Maine Road on next Saturday for game vs. Newcastle (can’t wait – I want to play centre half against Shearer) will be discussed, plus we will be planning for the all important derby match in November.

Paul Fegan (


Good to see him up to his old tricks again. A City supporter eh? Interesting that when he is in the Bristol area, he is a Bristol Rovers supporter. Might not have a wife in every port, but it sounds as though he has a club in every town. What a clown.

Jeremy Poynton (


Arrived at White Hart Lane about 1.00’ish. First priority to find a pub. Outside a “home fans only” pub – the Railway Inn I think, we were advised by some user-friendly Spurs fans to go to the local Irish Centre – this turned out to be really good, especially the prices.

I don’t do detailed match reports but I think we played, albeit a rearguard game, really well. I agree with Joe’s teletext comments – didn’t concede a goal for the first time and came away with a deserved point. The best thing about away games is the “total” support – as usually at home games there is a creeping “getting on the back of players and team” attitude. Let’s keep this season in perspective. If we thought this time last year that we could go to White Hart Lane with Crooks, Whitley, Horlock, Tiatto and Dickov and come away with a point, I think we would have settled for that! Special mention for Jeff Whitley – he ran and chased all the game and I thought the introduction of “King George” was going to give us a late 3 points.

Went to a Turkish Cafe for post-match grub – Kebabs, salad and a drink for £5 each – not bad eh! Got back to South Stoke at 9.15 – 4 pints, half a bottle of wine at our chums – and so to bed.

Richard Cooper, via Andy Noise (


My tribe and I went to Ewen Fields on Thursday evening to watch the reserves play Leeds. Back into the side were Reg and the Goat for his first run out since injury. The result was a stunning 5-0 to Leeds with Huckerby getting a hat-trick inside 25 minutes of the off. The sad thing is that City played with conviction and no small degree of skill, at least up front. Granville was my man of the match for the Blues. He never stopped running. The Goat appeared tired by about the hour but bravely soldiered on.

This isn’t a match report though but really is to raise a point about Reg. He started brightly and made a couple of good forward passes; so much so I was tempted to yell “welcome back Reg”; that was until about 15 minutes gone when he produced a shocking tackle from behind that would have got him sent off in a first team match. The resultant penalty gave Huckerby goal number two and from then on Reg seemed to fall apart. The point is from where I was stood no one got on his case, booed, cat-called or anything else, but Reg’s head went down. At half time he didn’t return and his place was taken by Etuhu. After the final whistle we went around to the players’ entrance to get my lads’ shirts signed. Thanks to the Goat! You made two young lads’ night! Notably though Reg was absent. He must have already left for the evening. It is just possible that he had other things to do, places to go, that sort of thing, but I can’t help feeling that it looked a little ominous him not sticking around for the final whistle. Anyone else have any info on this because if he really has lost it then maybe his time with the club really is at an end.

Dave Cash (


A clean sheet! At last! A bloody clean sheet!

Praise the Lord!

Steve Maclean (


The next meeting of the Milton Keynes Supporters’ Club will now take place on Tuesday, September 26th starting at 7pm. The date has been brought forward from Thursday to coincide with Sky-1 televising City’s 2nd leg game against Gillingham on the 26th.

The meeting venue will therefore be the ‘Halley’s Comet’ in Bradwell Road, Bradville, Milton Keynes. If you would like directions etc, please contact me.

Things are now starting to move much more quickly with regard to official affiliation to MCFC, so there is plenty of news to report and topics / plans to discuss. So because of this and also the Gillingham game screening, we’re hoping for a really good attendance – so please come along!

Steve Maclean – Secretary (


Don’t know if you guys are watching the Olympics, but spotted David Souza of unfashionable Honduras. Striker with Cagliari in Serie A and boy is he big, fast and full of goals. If you see his second in a 2-1 win over the hapless Aussies you’ll agree… worth a look (looks similar to Heskey in stature and power).

Chris Loveridge – Hawk (


I expect to be moving over to Saudi Arabia from Africa in the coming month; at present I see plenty of live UK football on Super Sport. Is there any live UK football available over there in the land of the camel and no booze? I think I can survive without booze but football!

Nick Hassall (


Derby Day

I nearly fell off my chair when I read in MCIVTA 642 that the home derby had been switched to Sunday morning. Please, please, please confirm this isn’t true. My first trip back to my sunny Gortonian roots in more than five years has been timed so that I am in Manchester for the derby (I’m on a flight back to the Antipodes on the morning of Sunday 19 November, assuming the plane’s got enough fuel). My chances of actually obtaining a ticket for the derby are minute but just to be in my old local and watch the game with the mix of ticketless Blues and clueless Reds will be excellent. Please tell me the game is on Saturday!

Overseas tickets

Can anybody provide any advice on obtaining one or two tickets for City’s matches between Southampton away and the derby? I’ve tried the City Supporters’ Club in Australia, who suggested I write to Frank Horrocks (he must be getting on!), but I’ve had no reply. Rellies and MCIVTA acquaintances have drawn blanks and, unfortunately, my ticket stubs are from the 1980’s! I seem to remember the ticket office coming good for a far-away Blue earlier in the year. Does anyone have their email address so that I can start pleading?

Vancouver Blues

Finally, there’s a reasonable chance I may be moving from beautiful Queensland to bloody chilly British Columbia in January and am wondering if there are any Vancouver based Blues out there?

Neil Adshead (

The Derby is definitely Saturday Neil



I will be moving to Calgary in November (after the derby). Are there any Blues already out there who can fill me in on where to watch the live games etc.?

M Whelan (


You make think 14 years is an awfully short time in to which to write a Why Blue, but I beg to differ. In the time I have supported City they have managed 3 relegations, three promotions and an huge amount of playing staff and managers!

The Blue blood was set by two generations of Mancunian born and bred City supporters, my dad and granddad, who had witnessed most of City’s big occasions. My dad even told of the day he had to get his mum to write him a note after his little escapade in Vienna!

I received my first City kit when I was approx. two years old. To this day it remains in my room, along with three other full home strips! Although City were in my veins, I did not really become a true supporter until the 95’96 relegation season, when my Auntie came over for Christmas. She brought with her some match programmes and City magazines kindly donated by my uncle (who still sends me a stack of programs at the end of the season, which is the most eagerly anticipated mail of the year!). From then onwards I have remained true to the cause, and in April this year I was able to see the last four home games of the season, and after the Birmingham game I bolted onto the pitch knowing that City would make in the end.

This season I will hopefuly be able to rejoice in the Blues’ safety and watch them on satellite (without my mother knowing – she is unaware of the impending installation!) and maybe who knows, a shock could be in store for the boys from Trafford (And Kent!).

So I hope I haven’t bored you, but I hope you all know that just because I can’t be there at 3pm every Saturday, I’m still a die hard Blue. One day I too will be there at The City of Manchester Stadium alongside of you, so until then give an extra yell or two at Miane Road on November the 18th.

CTID, Nick Durham (


Recent results to 24 September 2000 inclusive

24 September 2000

Leicester City        1 - 1  Everton

23 September 2000

Bradford City         0 - 1  Southampton
Coventry City         0 - 3  West Ham United
Derby County          1 - 1  Leeds United
Ipswich Town          1 - 1  Arsenal
Liverpool             1 - 1  Sunderland
Manchester United     3 - 3  Chelsea
Middlesbrough         1 - 1  Aston Villa
Newcastle United      0 - 1  Charlton Athletic
Tottenham Hotspur     0 - 0  Manchester City

League table to 24 September 2000 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  GD Pts
 1 Manchester Utd   7  3  1  0 14  3  1  2  0  6  4  4  3  0 20  7  13  15
 2 Leicester City   7  2  2  0  4  2  2  1  0  3  0  4  3  0  7  2   5  15
 3 Arsenal          7  3  0  0  9  4  0  3  1  4  5  3  3  1 13  9   4  12
 4 Liverpool        7  3  1  0  8  4  0  2  1  4  6  3  3  1 12 10   2  12
 5 Charlton Ath.    7  2  1  0  6  1  1  1  2  6 10  3  2  2 12 11   1  11
 6 Tottenham H.     7  3  1  0  7  3  0  1  2  1  4  3  2  2  8  7   1  11
 7 Newcastle Utd    7  2  1  1  5  3  1  0  2  2  4  3  1  3  7  7   0  10
 8 Southampton      7  1  1  1  6  5  1  2  1  4  4  2  3  2 10  9   1   9
 9 Aston Villa      6  1  1  0  3  1  1  2  1  4  5  2  3  1  7  6   1   9
10 Leeds United     6  1  0  2  4  4  1  2  0  3  2  2  2  2  7  6   1   8
11 Everton          7  1  1  1  6  5  1  1  2  5  7  2  2  3 11 12  -1   8
12 Ipswich Town     7  1  2  1  4  4  1  0  2  4  6  2  2  3  8 10  -2   8
13 Manchester City  7  1  1  1  6  5  1  1  2  4  8  2  2  3 10 13  -3   8
14 Sunderland       7  2  1  0  4  2  0  1  3  3  9  2  2  3  7 11  -4   8
15 Middlesbrough    7  0  2  2  4  6  1  2  0  7  5  1  4  2 11 11   0   7
16 Chelsea          7  1  1  1  6  6  0  3  1  4  6  1  4  2 10 12  -2   7
17 Coventry City    7  0  1  3  1  8  2  0  1  5  4  2  1  4  6 12  -6   7
18 West Ham United  7  0  2  1  3  4  1  1  2  6  6  1  3  3  9 10  -1   6
19 Derby County     7  0  4  0  8  8  0  1  2  5  7  0  5  2 13 15  -2   5
20 Bradford City    7  1  2  1  3  2  0  0  3  0  9  1  2  4  3 11  -8   5

With thanks to Football 365


Contributions: Ashley –
News & Rumours: Peter –
Subscriptions: Steve –
Technical Problems: Paul –

The views expressed in MCIVTA are entirely those of the subscribersand there is no intention to represent these opinions as being thoseof Manchester City Football Club, nor of any of the companies anduniversities by whom the subscribers are employed. It is not inany way whatsoever connected to the club or any other relatedorganisation and is simply a group of supporters using this mediumas a means of disseminating news and exchanging opinions.

[Valid3.2]Ashley Birch,

Newsletter #644