Newsletter #656

A special thanks to my Auntie Val for thoughtfully having her retirement bash last Saturday, and thus sparing me what seems to have been a truly awful spectacle. For those lucky enough not to have attended, we have four (yes four!) match reports and a couple of matchviews. Also included are a couple of belated matchviews from the Villa victory; the latest S.A.F.E. newsletter; opinion; and a Why Blue. Amongst the opinion is an article from Neil Haigh, who as usual has a rather different opinion on matters, this time relating to the transfer system issue/crisis – definitely worth considering matters from his perspective, and not just that fed to us by the Premier League PR machine!

This one reaches 3,457.

Next game: West Ham United away away, Saturday 11th November 2000


City Lose in Dour Clash

Manchester City remain in thirteenth place in the Premiership after the weekend fixtures. But the Blues are now only four points off the bottom three after being beaten 1-0 by Leicester at Maine Road. A 56th-minute strike from Robbie Savage gave the Foxes all three points in a drab encounter which was largely devoid of goalmouth incident. The Blues had the territorial advantage but created little to trouble the visitors’ resolute rearguard, and City were made to pay the penalty when Savage fired home after his initial effort from a free kick had been blocked.

Royle – We Deserved a Point

Manchester City were beaten at home by Leicester on Saturday. But Joe Royle felt his team were unlucky not to have earned a draw from the match against Peter Taylor’s high-flying side. Royle admitted that the match left much to be desired as a spectacle, and conceded that the Blues lacked a cutting edge as they failed to turn possession into clear-cut chances. But he felt that the visitors also offered little threat on goal, and that a scoreless draw would have been the most fitting result on the play. “Peter [Taylor] will be delighted to be taking all three points away with him, but Leicester did not deserve it,” lamented the City manager. “A 0-0 would have been about right.”

Taylor Happy to Bounce Back

Leicester City’s win over Manchester City on Saturday banished memories of the Midlanders’ previous match. And manager Peter Taylor was pleased with the character his players showed to take all three points at Maine Road. Leicester went into the game having just suffered a disastrous 3-0 home defeat against Crystal Palace in the Worthington Cup. But the win over Joe Royle’s team lifts the Foxes back to third place in the Premiership, an outcome which delighted Taylor. “The pressure was on our players today because Wednesday’s performance was so poor and I thought we were more solid, Gerry Taggart was back in the team, and some of the players were fitter,” he commented. “We are delighted with our away record, having conceded only one-goal away from home, although people will say we should score more. For me if we can carry on winning 1-0 away from home regularly everything will be OK.”

Haaland – We Must Emulate Leicester

Leicester City produced a resolute display to beat Manchester City at Maine Road on Saturday. And Alfie Haaland says the Blues should be aiming to emulate Peter Taylor’s men. Haaland admitted that City are short on firepower at present. But he feels that the team is still finding its way at Premiership level, and that variable results are only to be expected. And the Norwegian believes that the task will be made much easier if the Blues can show the same tenacity and work ethic as Saturday’s visitors. “Leicester are a team we would want to emulate over the next couple of years,” reflected the City skipper. “They’ve done unbelievably well in recent times and are now an established Premiership side.”

Bernstein – No Need to Panic

David Bernstein has said that Manchester City still have money available for incoming transfers. And the Blues’ chairman is adamant that, despite some fans voicing concerns over the club’s prospects after successive league defeats, the best policy is to remain calm. Bernstein has remained unflappable when City were in positions much worse than the current situation. And he believes that the fact the Blues have lost to two of the sides in the Premiership’s top three certainly doesn’t represent a reason to change that approach. “Panic is the last word I would use. We were not panicking when we were 12th in the Second Division so we are certainly not doing so now,” he insisted. “We have to get things into perspective. We are in a period where we are facing the three top teams in the Premiership in a four-week period.”

City Facing Striker Crisis

Manchester City are already short of options up front following the departure of George Weah last month. And the Blues could be stretched beyond breaking point for next week’s visit to West Ham. City will be missing the suspended Paul Dickov, who will serve a one-match ban after picking up five bookings this term. Meanwhile, Paulo Wanchope is due to fly out to play for Costa Rica against Guatemala, and could be made to depart on Friday – although Joe Royle is desperate to ensure that the front man’s departure is delayed sufficiently to allow him to face his former club in the Upton Park clash 24 hours later. However, Wanchope will return from international duty just hours before the following week’s Manchester derby, and Royle is concerned at the impact on his leading striker of constant travelling to fulfil World Cup engagements for his country. The Blues will be hoping that groin-injury victim Shaun Goater, who missed the weekend defeat by Leicester, quickly returns to fitness to compensate for the absences of his striking colleagues = though there also seems a very real possibility that the club will look to the transfer market to ease the current difficulties.

Royle Admits Need for New Front Man

Joe Royle is still looking for reinforcements to give his Manchester City squad sufficient strength in depth for the Premiership. And a striker appears to be the current priority for the Blues’ boss. Royle was concerned by City’s lack of a cutting edge against Leicester, when the Blues offered little threat on goal despite having plenty of possession. And with Shaun Goater’s injury problems, Paul Dickov’s impending suspension and Paulo Wanchope’s international commitments set to stretch his resources further, the City manager admits he’s looking to the transfer market to ease his selection problems. “I have a shortlist of targets to give us a bit extra up front,” he said after the weekend defeat by Leicester. “It’s just a question of when they might be available.”

Throwaway Comment Sparks Flo Link

When in charge at Goodison Park, Joe Royle tried to sign Tore Andre Flo for Everton. And now there’s speculation that the City manager wants to bring the Chelsea man to Maine Road. It’s rumoured that Flo could be available for transfer after failing to win a starting place under new Stamford Bridge boss Claudio Ranieri. And talk that the City manager could make a bid for the tall striker has followed Royle’s comments last week that, “We have not identified anyone or opened talks but if Flo all of a sudden says that he wants to come here then that is different.” However, if Chelsea do decide to release the Norwegian, there would be interest from several top clubs at home and abroad, while the fee would be likely to be in the £10 million range – meaning that the prospect of the 27-year-old pulling on a laser blue shirt in the near future must surely be considered highly unlikely. The Blues’ boss seemed to hint as much when he said, “There are certain people identified and no-one has got remotely near guessing the people we are looking at.”

Second Chelsea Star Touted

Talk of a Maine Road move for Tore Andre Flo seems a little far-fetched. But Internet news source Midas Soccer is claiming that the Blues could be set to move for another Stamford Bridge striker. Eidur Godjohnsen was a target for Joe Royle in the summer. But though the player instead opted to move to the London club, it’s alleged he could now be surplus to requirements following the sacking of Gianluca Vialli, the manager who took the Icelandic star from Bolton in June. Midas states that Chelsea would be tempted by a money-back £4 million bid for the 21-year-old, who’s failed to win a regular starting place since his transfer – and that Gudjohnsen is at the top of Royle’s shortlist of striking targets, ahead of Wimbledon’s John Hartson. The Blues are said to have watched the Welsh target man in action for the Dons at Barnsley on Sunday.

Successful Start for Granville

Danny Granville began his loan spell at Norwich on Saturday. And the full-back made an immediate impact at Carrow Road, creating the only goal of the game for Iwan Roberts as the Canaries beat Tranmere. Meanwhile, Terry Cooke played for Sheffield Wednesday in a 4-1 defeat at Crystal Palace, with Andy Morrison an unused substitute for the home side ahead of his expected return to Maine Road at the end of his month’s loan. Three City youngsters were in Second Division action, with Nick Fenton featuring in Notts County’s 4-0 drubbing by Bristol City, Chris Killen being substituted in Wrexham’s 2-1 home defeat against Stoke and Danny Allsopp making a brief substitute appearance for Bristol Rovers in their win at Oxford.

Hessenthaler – Bish Wants to Join Gills

Ian Bishop came on as a substitute in Manchester City’s match with Leicester at the weekend. But if persistent stories from Kent are to be believed, the outing against the Foxes could be the midfielder’s last appearance for the Blues. Gillingham have admitted to making an approach for the ex-West Ham man. And according to manager Andy Hessenthaler, the Merseysider is keen to join the Gills, where he would have the regular senior football which is currently being denied him at Maine Road. Originally, it was thought the clubs would agree a loan deal with a view to a permanent move but one weekend tabloid claimed a straight £250,000 cash transfer is now under discussion.

Brum Still Eyeing Horlock?

Kevin Horlock’s recent absences from the Manchester City starting line-up have reportedly not gone unnoticed by teams who would be keen to sign the Northern Ireland man. And Birmingham City continue to be touted as potential bidders for the ex-Swindon man’s signature. Horlock returned from the cold to start last week’s League Cup tie at Aston Villa – and scored the penalty which sealed the Blues’ 1-0 win. But he was still omitted on Saturday against Leicester, when he was an unused substitute as the Blues slid to a third home defeat of the campaign. Birmingham, who made a bid for the player when he came to Maine Road from Swindon in 1997, have been linked with him repeatedly over the last few weeks and the weekend tabloids once again contained reports of the Midlanders’ interest in taking the 27-year-old to St Andrew’s.

Interest in Unhappy Edghill

Richard Edghill is believed to feel that he needs a move away from Maine Road to kick his career into action. And reports claim that the Manchester City full-back is attracting the attention of a number of First Division sides. Edghill has recently be sidelined with an ankle injury. But the Blues’ longest-seving player would almost certainly have been out of contention for a first-team place in any event, having been banished after his personal disaster against Coventry in August. Edghill is said to have held talks with Joe Royle over his future, leading to speculation that the 25-year-old will soon be on the move. In recent weeks, Birmingham have been most frequently mentioned in connection with the Oldham-born star.

Royle Urges Howey Call-Up

Injuries disrupted Steve Howey’s career after he won four England caps. But Joe Royle believes the ex-Newcastle man is now playing well enough to revive his international carer. The £2 million summer signing has justified Royle’s faith in him with a string of fine displays in recent weeks. And the Blues’ boss is convinced that the Sunderland-born star has the attributes once again to be a valuable member of the national squad. “I think he’s coming back to his best of several years ago before his career was interrupted by a couple of bad injuries” explained the City manager. “He’s very comfortable on the ball and we don’t have too many English defenders who are comfortable on the ball. And at 29, he’s still young enough.”

Cooke Still Hoping for City Future

Terry Cooke is unlikely to make his loan move to Sheffield Wednesday permanent. And the transfer-listed star still believes that he could earn himself a future at Manchester City. Cooke is into the second month of his spell at Hillsborough. But though Paul Jewell is impressed by the winger, the Wednesday boss’s comments on his club’s official website indicate the Owls will be unable to meet Joe Royle’s valuation of the player. And though he admits he’s enjoying his time in South Yorkshire, the one-time Manchester United junior hopes that if he does return to the Blues, he can play a part at senior level. “I would love to stay at Maine Road and still feel I have got a lot to offer,” he said, no doubt mindful that the City squad is lacking in naturally right-sided players.

Republic Leave Out Kennedy Again

Mark Kennedy’s international exile continues. The Manchester City winger has been omitted from the Republic of Ireland squad for the forthcoming friendly against Finland in Dublin on November 15th. Kennedy, of course, faces criminal charges following an incident when he was with the Republic party in September. And after being sent home on that occasion, the ex-Millwall and Liverpool star will not be considered by national coach Mick McCarthy until after his court case later this month. McCarthy has, however, selected City new boy Richard Dunne, who has impressed in recent international appearances and scored against Estonia last month.

City to Play Local Friendlies

Manchester City are set to send a team to play at Hyde United in December. The non-league side are building a new stand extension, and the Blues will provide the opposition when the facility is opened. City, of course, have close links with Hyde, and play reserve-team fixtures at Ewen Fields. So it’s no surprise that the Blues have offered to send a team to play at the opening, and the match will take place on Monday, 18 December. The Blues are also due to take on Rochdale at Spotland to commemorate the opening of a new stand by the Third Division outfit. As yet, the date for the game appears not to have been fixed, but it’s expected to happen in the next few weeks.

Peter Brophy (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. LEICESTER CITY, Saturday 4th November 2000

The Saturday morning routine of wiping the fog from my eyes and coughing the tar from my lungs which usually takes until 2pm was rudely interrupted this week. Sky TV had decided that Leeds and Liverpool should play a morning game to entertain the masses. As there was no consequence to the result it was very easy to watch. What a game! It left me ready for the trip to Maine Road with the joy of the beautiful game in my heart. What the 34 thousand attending got was the best advert for euthanasia this side of Les Battersby singing “Feed the Goat”.

City lined up with some players whose names I know but like Michael Jordan’s comic strip film; all had lost their talent. It’s easy to understand why Leicester don’t let in goals and also why they don’t score them. My last match report was the Coventry game and the likeness in approach was worrying. Peter Taylor must have seen a video of the game. Forget about football; just outwork City and you’ll win. The ground had as much atmosphere as a Russ Abbot song; it was deathly. We lined up as follows:

Weaver, Charvet, Prior, Howey, Ritchie, Haaland, Whitley, Wiekens, Tiatto, Dickov, Wanchope.

For the first half I sat and watched and tried not to fall asleep; it was dire fare. Did anything happen? No, both teams decided to run around and fail to string 3 passes together. The most animated any of the watching masses got was to shout “Man On” in unison only to be ignored each and every time. Oh well at least we’ll get kick for cash at half time. Oops no, too much rain, can’t mess with the pitch. I wish someone had told the players what it was for. So they got some bloke I’ve never heard of from Emmerdale to pick out the draw numbers. Sparkling entertainment.

The second half rolled out and much the same happened, everyone went to sleep. Then shock horror, Leicester started to attack and from a corner a neat header was arrowing its way towards Weaver’s bottom right hand corner. The boy wonder pulled off a magnificent fingertip save to divert it past the post. Ten minutes in Leicester got a free kick on the edge of the penalty area; it was pushed to Savage who smashed it straight into the wall. The rebound landed straight at his feet again and he rifled it low to Weaver’s left and into the net. Everyone woke up; come on, let’s get at them! We did for about three minutes! Where was the invention, where was the desire (bar Dickov)? It just wasn’t happening. Eventually Joe worked out that Wiekens had misplaced too many passes, had looked like he was running in treacle and couldn’t see what was in front of him let alone what the crowd told him about who behind. On comes Bish. At the same time Ritchie was sacrificed for Kennedy so Tiatto moved to left back.

Was Kennedy on the left wing? No, he made it three up front on the right. Odd move and for ten minutes the team didn’t notice he was there. We kept passing to the left, relying upon the running of Dickov to retrieve the poor passes. Time was running out and the lack of Goater on the bench showed the paucity of attacking options that we have at the moment. Then everyone saw Kennedy, or to be more accurate, Charvet noticed Kennedy and we started getting some joy. Trouble was, Leicester know how to defend and when it’s for only 20 minutes they can handle it. No matter what quality the crosses were, Elliot always seemed able to handle it. Trevor Benjamin went off to be replaced by Bjarni Gudjonsson who had a great opportunity to break away and score, only to prove how talentless he is.

The final whistle came and the Leicester fans cheered whilst bar a few boos the City crowed sighed relief. This was a shocking game of football. I won’t berate those who booed as I assume it was because they had paid money to watch a match. The only problem was that it seemed for 88 of the 90 minutes our very own version of Germany vs. Austria from the ’82 World Cup. We were at home and played like the away team. I have to query the selection policy, which left Kennedy on the bench. Fine, shut up shop away from home but at home against a team that you know can only score one goal a game I think we should attack. I only hope that it is due to the intelligence of the new (temporary) England coach that our deficiencies were found out. If not then we should watch out. Here’s what the honest amongst us know about the team and some scores (out of ten) for the game.

Weaver (8) Good ‘keeper who should mature into a great one.
Charvet (6) Has pace and good engine, short passing good.
Prior (5) Gets caught the wrong side too often and suffers from wayward passing.
Howey (7) Cultured defender with plenty of skill.
Ritchie (6) Centre half playing at left back, can be skinned in this rôle.
Haaland (5) Hard running, never say die spirit.
Whitley (6) Same as Haaland, just can’t shoot.
Wiekens (4) Can pass the ball except he doesn’t have the pace for this league.
Tiatto (6) Strong engine and good pace, leaves the team exposed when goes wandering.
Dickov (8) Committed with a capital C, will never score the most but will always give everything.
Wanchope (4) When he has a good game he’s electrifying, when bad he goes AWOL.

Bishop (5) The only real passer in the squad; just a complete girl’s blouse when it comes to tackling.
Kennedy (8) Doesn’t believe he has the talent even though he does, lets defenders bully him.

This lot may sound like doom and gloom but it’s not. Joe Royle said that he’d try out the players that had seen us go from 2nd to Prem. Guess what, he found them lacking. Look at the team again.

Weaver – the future England No.1, grown up in the last 2 seasons.
Charvet – new.
Prior – new (except last seven games of last season).
Howey – new.
Ritchie – new.
Haaland – new.
Whitley – fittest kid in the squad, allowed to mature.
Wiekens – former centre half, used to cover a lack in midfield.
Tiatto – exemplifies the requirements set by Joe (hard-working).
Dickov – forced his way back in by strength of character and scored that goal.
Wanchope – new.

So what do we need to ensure that next time we meet teams like Leicester we put up a better show? Well one is already at the club; Richard Dunne is definitely in to replace Prior. Lacking is a decent passing midfielder who has some pace, and another striker. I know we have got Goater but it still only makes three. Without one of the kids like Shuker or Mike making the step up another option is required and not Camara – we’ve got him in Wanchope.

Everyone should know one thing; we will not see a game at Maine Road as poor again this season. Thank God there are so many teams much worse than us, it will give Joe time to add the missing pieces without having to worry too much about relegation.

Dave Blyth (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. LEICESTER CITY, Saturday 4th November 2000

I suppose when you’re going to watch a match between two teams who have built their reputations on hard-working, gritty teamwork with no quarter given, both of which currently have very mean defences (at least when they have 11 men on the pitch), it’s unlikely that the post-match report is going to mention anything about a pulsating, end-to-end six-goal thriller. Even master wordsmith Stuart Hall’s reports on Radio 5 were unusually brief, despite attempts to liven them up with a liberal sprinkling of references to “Leicester Fosse”, with the studio presenter eventually feeling obliged to explain that it was what Leicester City used to be called… before 1919.

Hall also used the word “mindnumbing” to describe the first half. I didn’t think it was quite that bad (how would he have described the first 75 minutes of the Gillingham game at Maine Road earlier this season?) but it was far from being entertaining either. It was clear from the outset that Leicester were out to make up for their surprise 3-0 cup defeat against Palace – a determined bunch, running their socks off, closing down spaces, and certainly not averse to “getting stuck in”, with City the victims of a few hefty challenges early on. The game became a war of attrition in midfield, with both defences also looking solid. Charvet was posing a few problems for them down the right though, with a couple of excellent crosses, including a deep one beyond the far post which Tiatto controlled and knocked back across the goal but no City player being able to get there first. There was a brief scare for City as the ball was airborne in the six-yard box with Weaver unable to gather and taking a knock from which fortunately he quickly recovered. A clever free kick on the edge of the City box almost led to Savage cutting the ball back across the face of City’s goal, but a superb sliding tackle from Dickov saved the day. Two long range efforts from Whitley and Ritchie both sliced wide of Flowers’ right-hand post, and the tame shot by Dickov at Flowers was the only goalbound effort I can remember in a dull first half.

Second half, it was Leicester who were looking a bit more threatening now, though still not really stretching the City defence. Even so, it was City who carved out the chance of the match so far, a lovely through ball by Dickov put in Wanchope, at last running in space onto it but his scuffed shot rolled towards the goalie (a fairly small guy by the name of Royce who had replaced Flowers at half time) who gathered with ease.

55 minutes on the clock, Mr. Halsey (of Play-Off Final fame) awarded a free kick on the edge of the box against Ritchie. The ball was rolled sideways to Savage, whose first shot was blocked by Wanchope, but unfortunately straight back to Savage who shot into the corner past Weaver’s right hand. Their one real chance so far.

A few minutes later, JR decided it was time to ring the changes, the ineffective Wiekens being replaced by Bish and Kennedy coming on for Ritchie, giving us hope in a game which had been crying out for some width. For the last half hour, City must have had about 75% of possession, but not without reason have Leicester only conceded seven goals in the league this season. Bish suddenly seem to provide us with more time and space in midfield, as he always seems to, and Kennedy, playing on the right, was providing the much needed width. The corner count for City must have reached double figures, but every single one of them was comfortably dealt with by the Leicester defence (I thought Elliott in particular was outstanding). Too often the final, decisive ball went astray, or a Leicester boot got in the way. Leicester should have made it 2 right at the death when it was a two on one (Howey, I think) with the two Leicester players bearing down on Weaver with everyone else still in the Leicester half, yet they somehow contrived to let Howey nick the ball away from them. 2-0 would have been very harsh.

In a way, Leicester did to us what we did to Villa on Wednesday night – a goalless draw at full time would probably have been a fair reflection of both games. There doesn’t seem to be a lot wrong with the defence, but it was worrying that once we went a goal down against such a well-organised and disciplined unit, we never really looked as though we’d get the equaliser. City were crying out for someone who could provide a bit of invention, something a bit different, dare I say it, a George Weah with a better attitude? As well as a real top-quality creative midfielder, a younger Ian Bishop!

Very disappointing result, but I think credit’s got to be given to Leicester. They came to do a job, it wasn’t pretty to watch, but would we have been complaining if we’d done the same to them at their place? Robbie Savage wasn’t the most popular man at Maine Road on Saturday afternoon, but I think many of us would willingly have him in our midfield (though he’s got to get his hair cut first). City need to start making sure that they at least don’t lose games like this one though – they didn’t really deserve to, and considering Leicester are having a very good season so far and are now 3rd in the table, there was little to choose between the two teams. However, football’s all about scoring goals as they say, and Wanchope was a disappointment, although he was well marshalled by the Leicester defenders; every time he received a pass he seemed to have his back to goal with a defender or two breathing down his neck. Hopefully he should be well up for it next Saturday though (if he’s playing?). I’m not going to bother with player ratings, as nobody ever sees the game identically but I thought Dickov again was one of our best performers, the defence as a whole pretty solid, and it was Charvet who was awarded the “Maine Man” thingy. It’s fair enough to build a team on a solid defence, but we need to make things a bit more exciting on the attacking front – you can’t win a game 0-0, and you might just lose it 1-0.

Gary Dickson (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. LEICESTER CITY, Saturday 4th November 2000

I really must stop going to Maine Road. Second time I’ve been this season and this game was not unlike the ‘Boro game I saw, only the result was worse. Perched high in the Kippax with the (in)famous seagull dangling in the breeze (can’t remember if the theory was that it was a good luck charm or a curse?), I had a good view of events down on the pitch albeit with Subbuteo scale players so don’t expect too much in the way of kick by kick reporting, more an overview of events and thoughts for the games ahead.

It was clear in the first half that Leicester were going to be hard to break down, and it was one of those days when too many of our players were lacking the inspiration to conjure up a breakthrough. Laurent Charvet made a couple of forays down the right and put in the sort of cross we used to will Edgy to supply but nobody was able to capitalise. We were restricted to a couple of long range efforts of which only Jeff Whitley’s had anything approximating to venom. Dicky ducked and dived and Wanchope repeatedly did his best to impersonate a new-born giraffe, with his legs seemingly being controlled by a brain other than his own. Tim Flowers had little to do aside from nurse a recurrence of his back injury which saw him substituted at half time. Half time, 0-0 and a cup of tea and a Yorkie beckoned (the balti pies seemed to have sold out very quickly or was I just slow off the mark?).

The second half saw Leicester open the brighter but even then they had little to offer, before they won a free kick on the right of the penalty area after 10 minutes or so which was played left to Savage who placed the ball beyond Weaver at the second attempt and we were once again chasing the game. Kennedy and Bish replacing Wiekens and Ritchie livened things up a bit, but we were sadly lacking in the finishing department. Best chance fell to Dicky when he wriggled free of his marker just off centre of the box and shot narrowly wide though the substitute ‘keeper Royce was adjudged to have got a hand to it. As the game wore on, you got the feeling that this was not going to be our day. Leicester were not surprisingly happy to defend their lead, and aside from the odd breakaway they never really threatened again. It was a measure of the day that one of the biggest cheers was reserved for Steve Howey when he intercepted one such breakaway and calmly stopped any further progress towards Nicky’s goal.

And so the ratings:

Weaver – Not a lot to do and probably unsighted for the goal. Flapped at a couple of crosses, but made a good reflex save from Elliott’s header.
Charvet – Didn’t seem as quick as we’d been led to believe he is. Good crosses in the first half.
Ritchie – Got booked. The only time I recall seeing him get involved on the day.
Howey – Great defending. Composed, comfortable on the ball. Good distribution.
Prior – Played OK, with the occasional lapse in concentration. Doesn’t inspire as much confidence as Howey and I reckon he’ll give way to Dunne in the course of the season.
Tiatto – Seemed to get knocked off the ball a lot (still carrying an injury from mid-week?) but not as effective as he seems to have been of late.
Whitley – The usual ‘ratting’ job. Had a couple of long-range attempts and supported the front line well from midfield.
Wiekens – A poor game by past standards. Didn’t contribute a great deal and no surprise when he was substituted.
Haaland – Another disappointment. Didn’t really impose himself on the game.
Wanchope – All arms and legs but occasionally kept hold of the ball in an unorthodox fashion. Seemed out of sorts in the way he was at Southampton.
Dickov – Huffed and puffed but couldn’t blow his way through their defence.

Bish – Seemed to run round in small circles and unable to come up with the telling ball.
Kennedy – Another fairly anonymous game.

A lot has been made since the game of Joe’s rather cautious approach to this and other recent home games. We’re certainly defending well and playing the ball out rather than simply hoofing it (Howey’s influence in the main I reckon) but the defenders and ‘keeper are for the most part only going to stop us conceding goals. Some of our recent performances seem to have been an object lesson in synergy, as individually you’d be pushed to say we have lots of players that would be welcomed into the squads of our main rivals in the lower reaches of the Premiership, yet collectively they have done as well as I guess we’d hoped they would at this stage. However, with two defeats on the trot, we’re in danger of relying on others below us doing as bad or worse than us and that’s not the way to ensure safety as quickly as possible.

Assuming Joe doesn’t think SWP or other younger squad players are ready to take a regular part in the first team, I hope any further transfer dealings will be aimed at improving our creativity in midfield and the options up front. The heart wants Dicky to make a go of life in the Premiership, but the head says he’s not going to provide sufficient goals, Scotland international or not. Similarly Paulo has been a disappointment in recent games even allowing for the fact he may be carrying an injury; I hope the Hammers’ fans were wrong but I guess they won’t be cursing Harry Redknapp for letting him go right now. And of course Shaun Goater has still to have an extended run in the team to show what he can or can’t do.

If we play as we did today in two weeks time, the derby will be an embarrassment. More importantly for the other games to come, we need more consistency and goals, less of a preoccupation with stopping the opposition and more emphasis on taking the game to them if we are to prosper in the dark winter months. Here’s hoping Joe’s got a plan.

Geoff Donkin – Beverley Blue (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. LEICESTER CITY, Saturday 4th November 2000

City 0 – Leizzzzzzzester 1

It’s very easy to write a really quick match report for the game against Leicester. Ready?

First half was rubbish. Ten minutes into the second half the ref (hello Mr Halsey) gave Leicester a free kick that shouldn’t have been and whinging git Savage scored. Leicester are good at defending. We aren’t any good at scoring.

That really does sum it up. I’ll now try to give those who weren’t lucky enough to be there (and how I wish I was one of them) a little more detail on what happened during one of the dullest games I’ve seen, but you’ll have to excuse me if I doze off. Goater didn’t make the line up as he hadn’t recovered from Wednesday night in time, so Wanchope was back to partner Dickov up front. The full line up was Weaver, Tiatto, Prior, Howey, Ritchie, Charvet, Whitley, Haaland, Wiekens, Wanchope and Dickov. Leicester were zzzzzzzzzzz (oops nearly went there) remarkable only for the complete lack of any ability or skill in any of their players. I mean, Robbie Savage is a poor excuse for a Premiership player and as for Trevor Benjamin… this man played for Cambridge last year so I had the “pleasure” of seeing him on a few occasions. His sole contribution to Leicester football club since he signed for a ridiculous amount over the summer (I can’t remember how much it was but it was more than a fiver so Leicester were done) was being the other participant in the dressing room fight that signified the end of Stan Collymore’s less than glorious spell at the club. Actually, maybe they did get value for money on him after all. By the way, the only decent game I saw him have for Cambridge was against Bolton in the cup last year when he made such a fool of one of the Bolton centre halves that the centre half in question was subbed at half time. As I’m sure you are dying to know who that was (unless you’re thinking I’m just rambling on and should shut up and get on with the match report) I’ll tell you – none other than our own Paul Ritchie. Oops.

OK, back to the football zzzzzzzzzz. Leicester are boring and City didn’t play very well, that’s about it really. The passing was shocking – from both sides – all game with numerous so-called passes being either under or over hit or just going straight out of play. I can only assume that the pitch was in a lot worse state than it looked from where we were – considering the amount of rain that had fallen onto it in the days before the game it did look in excellent condition. City did create a few chances, only for people to line up to miss them – Dickov was the worst culprit by far as he shot tamely at Flowers when he should have scored after only about 10 minutes, but he was ably backed up by Wanchope and by Whitley. Whitley’s shot at least just skimmed past the post, he’s getting closer – and at least not all his shots end up in the back row of the North Stand these days. Haaland had a header just wide after some good work from Charvet, but that was about it. Leicester’s chances came from fooling the ref into thinking a foul had been committed – oh look, I’m on the edge of the area, better fall over and get a free kick so Matt Elliott can try and head the ball in the net ’cause he’s a big bloke with a big head. Inspired game play. Flowers was obviously hurt and was struggling to dive for any of the shots we had; we tried to be too nice to him by making sure none of them were on target.

City took their time coming out for the second half; we were hoping that was going to be because of an inspirational dressing room speech from Joe and Willie but it didn’t appear to be the case. Flowers had been replaced by Simon Royce who isn’t anywhere near as good a ‘keeper, but City didn’t seem to twig this and continued to generously shoot wide. We aren’t supposed to help other teams out you know. Weaver finally had a shot to save when tipping a header from Elliott (surprise!) around the post – Leicester’s only other shot on target apart from the goal by the way. Anyway the ref made it all pretty academic ten minutes into the second half. Ritchie was penalised when Trevor Benjamin fell over his own size 14s (looking back it was always going to happen) and a some extremely inept defending let Savage in to score. Now OK the free kick shouldn’t have been given, but once it was the City players had a duty to defend against it. To let Savage have not one, but two cracks on goal was unforgivable.

Unfortunately for those of us sitting suffering in the stands that was the game over. The festival of flowing football that we’d been treated to during the first 55 minutes was no more. Zzzzzzzzzz. Royle tried to make things change by bringing on Kennedy and Bishop for Wiekens and Ritchie but the problem was never in midfield (or defence come to that matter), it was up front. Dickov and Wanchope were just not up to the job on Saturday and bringing in someone to supply crosses to them wasn’t going to help. Still, what else could he do? With Goater injured the only other thing he could have done would have been to have Wright-Phillips on the bench, and the pairing of him and Dickov is hardly going to frighten many 6 foot defenders is it? Leicester spent the rest of the game camped in their own penalty area but they never really looked like conceding. Or rather, we never really looked like scoring. Kennedy did make us look more dangerous – he put over a cross for Wanchope to head goalwards at one point that Royce just managed to tip over the bar – but he couldn’t do it all on his own. We dominated the final 20 minutes in terms of possession but that’s no earthly good if no-one’s going to take advantage of it. Most frustrating was what was happening from corners, of which we had quite a few in the second half. Every single one was an inswinging high ball to the centre of the penalty area, and every single one was met by one of the 10 Leicester players in the box and cleared. When everyone in the stadium can see that those tactics just aren’t going to work, how come no-one on the pitch twigs it as well? The only excitement came when some moron in one of the boxes at the back of the Kippax lower stand (block GG for those who were there and wondered what was going on) decided to stand up for Robbie Savage, who’d been receiving a fair amount of – justified – chanting from the crowd. Now considering that it is very possible for someone on the back row of the lower Kippax to stand on a chair and get over into the boxes (the wall isn’t that high) leaning over and shouting “there’s only one Robbie Savage” (amongst other things which I won’t repeat here) at the City fans below him doesn’t seem to be too bright to me. There have been problems with away fans in those boxes on occasions in the past and the club doesn’t seem to be able to do much about it, so heaven knows what’ll happen at the derby game in a couple of weeks.

Leicester went to third in the table after this win, which is a damning indictment of the way the English game is going at the moment. The contrast between the way they play and the way that someone like Arsenal play is incredible. They really were dire – they stifled any chance of any passing football from City and ensured the game was one of the worst games of football I’ve seen at Maine Road for a long time, and that’s going some. The kindest thing anyone could say about them was that they worked hard – and they are extremely effective at what they do. I pity the Leicester fans though, I couldn’t imagine having to watch that every week – credit to them for keeping going as it really is awful football… but then they won didn’t they?

Looking on the bright side, if Peter Taylor does end up moulding future England teams to play in the same way then it spells good news for our national team doesn’t it? Not.

Sharon Hargreaves


Joe is/has become obsessed with the defensive nick-a-goal line-up. Our formation at the start was hardly a go-get-’em team. In fact both teams were so intent on defending they seemed to forget there was a game to be won.

Leicester are a very well organised catch ’em on the break side.

We bossed the game up until the last third. They scored. We didn’t. Just about sums it up. I have always hated Savage but had to admire how he took the rebound on the opposite foot to his original strike so quickly, when our players always wanted too long when they had similar chances.

Heard loads of comments on the radio home about how we need a quality striker. Couldn’t disagree more… what we need is a quality service to the strikers.

Joe’s priority should be quality midfielders. Shearer, Cole, Yorke, Sheringham and Flo would have had trouble scoring with the service we gave Dickov and Wanchope. Whitley was excellent again… Wiekens and Haaland were awful. Charvet. Class. Right back position sorted.

I fear against the Rags if Joe starts out with the same team. When Bishop and Kennedy came on we looked a much better team. If Joe thinks Bishop can’t give a full game, wouldn’t it be better to have him in at the beginning when it’s 0-0, take a chance on going in front, and then take him off if he’s knackered, rather than bring him on when we’re chasing the game?

Last thoughts. First time at Maine Road for longer than I care to remember. Suddenly remembered how good it is to be there, despite the result. My daughter getting so excited because Les Battersby and Roy from Coronation Street were sat right behind her (to be fair it was the kind of game where if I was a 16-year-old girl I could have got more excited by that).

More importantly. Putting some faces to ICQ/Blueview names in The Parkside. Rocket did the introductions. Hoppy and his family, mad ferret (can’t believe how long it took me to get the link) Ariana (woof woof Weaver) et al. Had a great day apart from the result.

And finally. Many thanks to David (SDB) Holden for providing the entrance to the game, being a blo*dy great host and offering the chance of further games.

My kindle has been re-fired.

This Internet thing is bl*ody marvellous. You can go all the way to the Dominican Replublic and meet someone who was raised three miles from you, without knowing it, have a beer with them and them meet them again, a year later, not more than three miles from where you grew up together, and have a beer together.

CTSGMABRFL (City Till Somebody Gives Me A Better Reason For Living), David Kilroy (


Oh what fun it is…

Somebody once said there is only one thing worse than a night in Birmingham – a day in Birmingham. Well Birmingham at night isn’t that bad. The relatively short trip down the M6 from South Cheshire does make you wonder at 5.30-6.30 if you should take sleeping bags and Kendal Mint Cake, but apart from a bit of a crawl at Hilton Park, the omens were good.

The usual large, vociferous City following with the Goat songs, Church songs and shall we sing a song for you and thankfully the Super Kevin Horlock song spared us extra time.

Once again the Demon Trio of Tiatto, Whitley and Dickov sparkled.

Tiatto – Running at players, getting knocked about, dusting himself down and having a go again. No wonder Mr Henry wanted him “out of his face”!

Whitley – I’ve said it before, what a revelation this year. His passing went a bit awry towards the end but what the heck.

Dickov – So much confidence. It seems like ages ago he kept falling over expecting free kicks.

With Howey, Prior, Wiekens, Ritchie and Haaland all giving their best you thought it would take something special for Villa to score. Merson nearly provided it but yet again the agile Weaver was on hand to stop anything else. One superb save and two others that were good even if Nicky did “overcook” the spectacular bit. The Goat worked hard but still needs a game or two to get back to form – I will back him to get 15-18 goals this season.

Kevin Horlock was probably our most ineffective player, corners, free kicks easily cut out by “Jesse” James. But cometh the moment… The guy is so cool, even in the 89th minute. Perhaps he suffers from lack of first team games, as before the season I thought he would easily adapt to the Prem.

Substituted were Tiatto (bruised all over), Prior (not fully fit after last weekend’s “mugging”),and Goat (tired and/or hurt) and on came Bishop, Kennedy and SWP. If Kennedy isn’t happy with being sub he should take a look at Tiatto and “put himself about” more. We haven’t seen the best of him this season and you cannot see him replacing anyone at kick-off unless it’s through injury and even Horlock might be preferred.

Special mention to the referee. He let the game flow and had “words in ears” instead of brandishing yellow cards. Maybe at least a booking for the “hand of God” in the dying seconds, but I think the assistant referee “called” the offence.

Wimbledon at home next, but is it to early to go to Waterstones to buy the A-Z and pub guide to Bucharest? Maybe, but who knows. So let’s hound the Foxes, nail the Hammers and it’s Hello Fergie “Welcome to Hell”.

Richard Cooper via Andy Noise (


I wasn’t intending to go to this match originally but as I was due to go to our head office on the Thursday morning with a rugby supporting colleague, it was easier to stop over in Birmingham and then travel on. The only drawback was that I was suffering from the stomach bug which has been doing the rounds and had made the fatal mistake of eating something lunchtime which rebounded on me just before I was due to depart! So, full of Arret tablets, I set out! The journey wasn’t too bad even though the weather looked pretty grim – I was just glad I wasn’t driving! We parked at that big school next to Aston Hall and trolled through the pitch black park – muggers’ paradise – until we reached the fork near the church. Trust me to take the wrong one which led us round the back of the Holte End, the refurbished stand, the away end until we got to the Doug Ellis Stand. Oh well we still had 20 minutes to go so were still in plenty of time.

As for the match itself, it wasn’t anything to write home about. Both teams had chances with both Wright and Merson rattling the woodwork and it seemed to be petering out to extra time and penalties. As I felt like death warmed up I was dreading this, my colleague had freezing feet so wasn’t impressed either! But Calamity James decided to take a dislike to Alfie in the penalty area right in front of David Elleray. Penalty! Goodee! Fortunately SuperKev dispatched the spot kick with his usual aplomb. But then Villa thought they had an equaliser which was luckily ruled out by the linesman. We survived and now meet the Wombles at the end of the month. At least we showed we could bounce back from a 5-0 stuffing even though we didn’t play particularly well, but then again perhaps I’m being too picky!

Fortunately the bug had virtually blown itself out (if you pardon the expression) but I still took some tablets just to be on the safe side – it’s a bit of a hike from the front row of the Kippax to the ladies’ loo, and Linford Christie I ain’t! The weather was slightly better than Wednesday night although getting drowned before the game wasn’t a good idea! Laurent Charvet made his home début and I was gobsmacked at how big Tags now was, not that he was a skinny little runt when he was with us but my God I wouldn’t like to meet him on a dark night. As for his mate Matt Elliott – another bruiser!

What stuck out like a sore thumb was our lack of firepower. The defending wasn’t too bad, but could have been better, midfield was OK but Wanchope seemed to have an off day and Dicky (McDicky?) was his usual thorn in the side chasing everything but getting nowhere. He was the only one who had a decent shot! It was a shame the Goat wasn’t available and I would have thought that either Shaun Wright-Phillips or even, dare I say it, Gareth Taylor could have been on the bench to give us other options.

Leicester scored as a result of a dubious free kick. I think Mark Halsey was trying to prove to the world that he really didn’t “help” us win in the play-off finals, as was alleged at the time, by giving us sod all! Anyway, as a result of some pinball action, that ex-Rag and pretty boy Savage scored what turned out to be the winner. Unfair result I thought as I felt the game was heading for a 0-0 draw. The Leicester strikers of Benjamin and Akinbiyi weren’t exactly threatening but Gudjohnsson livened things up when he came on. Charvet had a reasonable début but for him to get man of the match? Sorry but Jeff Whitley was my choice!

Am I Missing Something?

I know I’m getting old and the eyesight is going, but the first I knew about the fact that Bish could be off to Gillingham either on loan or as a permanent move was in the Sunday Mirror and Sport First on Sunday yesterday. I would swear black was white that this has not ever been reported in the MUEN – if I’m wrong then I apologise. If I am right then why hasn’t it? What is going on? I thought Chris Bailey had his finger on the pulse! And why get rid of Bish?! Sigh.

Carol Darvill (


Standing Areas For Eastlands
Spokesperson Phill Gatenby
Tel 07887 884 653 e-mail

Issue 6: November 2000

It has been a very busy month – and a very productive month.

I finally received a reply from the Minister for Sport, Kate Hoey MP. She stated she has received a good number of letters on this subject, which is good. If you haven’t already written to her, now would be an ideal time to keep the pressure on. Her reply was carefully worded and went at length to inform me of some of the unsafe practices that German clubs use in standing areas but didn’t comment on the good practices that are being used! She went on to add that she is having a meeting with Trafford Borough Council regarding the standing issue at Old Trafford. Trafford have already gone on record as saying that they would take a positive interest in safe standing areas if the Government will permit it. I have, therefore, written to her again asking for a meeting with SAFE either before or after the meeting with Trafford or at any time she is in the North West.

Jon Leigh, a Man United fan currently living in Germany, took some pictures of Bayern Munich’s stadium. These can be seen for yourself at Clearly, looking at these pictures, the safe standing area appears to be much safer than the bucket seats that are the ‘official’ seats. One fall at the back could send a domino effect running right to the bottom seats. The seats in the standing area simply fold up when not in use. Jon has also sent details of sites for other German clubs too. These will appear on the safe standing website that will hopefully be up and running pretty soon – and thanks to Dave Scally for his input on that front.

The FSA have kindly agreed to donate the cost of a PO Box, which will be of great use as many fans obviously do not have access to the internet. The web site and PO Box addresses will be forwarded as soon as we have them.

One disappointment has been the mailshot to all chairmen of the Premier League and Nationwide clubs. Three weeks after they were sent, only three replies have been received (Man City, QPR and West Ham – the latter two not wishing to support the campaign). Also letters to Tony Blair and Charles Kennedy were replied to, stating the letters had been forwarded to the person in each party that covers this issue, whilst William Hague ‘carefully considered’ my comments and thanked me for writing to him! No problem William!

On Thursday 2nd November, 4 of us attended a meeting at Manchester City FC. This was with the club’s Facilities Manager, overseeing all things regarding the new stadium, and the club’s Safety Officer. The meeting went very well. We were helped greatly by the pictures from Bayern Munich when showing how effective safe standing areas can be, highlighting the bucket seats’ apparent lack of safety too! One issue that was interesting was the subject of increased capacity due to standing areas. Apparently, exit routes and gangways are built according to the capacity of the stand, so by increasing the capacity, this also has to see an increase in the size of exit areas too. Both club officials stated that they agreed that safe standing areas are a workable (and preferable than having fans stand up in seated areas) and would take this to the board of directors, asking them, in principle, to support the campaign. One final note is that the club’s Safety Officer gave details of the national group of Ground Safety Officers, with his counterpart at Everton being the co-ordinator. A letter has been sent to him asking if we can make a presentation at a future meeting.

On Thursday 9th November, I will be attending a meeting with the Chair of the FSA at Manchester City Council with the Deputy Leader of the Council.

Letters are being sent out to radio stations throughout Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire (both news and sports sections) with the aim of inviting ourselves onto shows to raise the awareness of the campaign. Press releases to local newspapers will also be sent out too. If you want to contact radio stations in your area, please do. We would be more than willing to talk on any show, in the studio or over the phone.

Please keep the pressure up by writing to your club chairman, fanzine, MP or just pass on these details to friends.

Thanks, Phill Gatenby (


Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed Steve Howey’s performance at Villa on Wednesday night. He was magnificent. Unfussed, cultured centre half play in the tradition of the great centre halves that have graced Maine Road down the years, Dave Watson, Colin Hendry et al.

Villa got to about two crosses all night and were restricted to long range shots dealt with by Weaver at his most natural and best. All other efforts were cleared by a defensive performance that brought credit to all concerned. Howey though was at the centre of it and adapted seamlessly to whoever partnered him, Tiatto, Ritchie, Prior and later Wiekens. The forward players often get the glory and there are particular reasons why I was thrilled that Super Kev should get the winner but the abiding memory of the game was Howey’s man of the match show.

Rick Eagles (


The next meeting of the Reddish Branch of the Centenary Supporters’ Association will be Wednesday 8th November at The Ash Hotel, Manchester Road, Stockport starting at 8.00pm. This months guest is Barry Pollen, City’s Facilities Controller, who is overseeing developments at Eastlands. This is a must for all City fans as Barry will have all the up to date info on Eastlands and as usual all Blues are welcome.

Howard Burr, Secretary 0161 292 2525 (


Our next branch meeting is on 7th November at Morley Cricket Club. Our guest will be Alfie Haaland. Start time 8pm. Any further info needed, contact Simon Clegg on 01484 658258 or Ian Barton on 01904 488347.

Simon Clegg (


The Morecambe Bay branch of the MCFC CSA has its next meeting on 15th November 2000 at 7.30mph at Lansil Sports Club, Caton Road, Lancaster. Just off Junction 34 M6. We are expecting a guest from MCFC but as yet we do not know who… all Blues welcome. In fact make that all non-Rags welcome! Directions: take M6 and exit J34 towards Lancaster. Take road towards Lancaster for about 1/2 mile and then just after the 30mph speed limit signs and opposite a large new building on the right with blue windows (!) the club is on the left. Turn left into the club up a slight hill into the car park.

Lance Thomson (


The Melbourne branch of the City supporters will either go to The Keepers Arms or to the casino sports bar. We will be getting together the week before that to play in the UK cup at Waverley Soccer Club, so we can discuss where we will meet then. Anyone wanting details please get in touch.

Jack (


Anyone in the vicinity of Melbourne Australia on the 1th of November who has 2 legs and has ever kicked a football is invited to join the Manchester City Supporters’ Club team and help them regain the UK supporters’ clubs’ cup (UK Cup). The event starts earlier than usual this year, around 9 in the morning. If you fancy playing or just getting drunk with a few like-minded souls (we usually all do both simultaneously), contact me Paul Keelagher on (03) 9645 1484 or by email at the address below for details.

Paul Keelagher (


As a City fan originally from New Zealand, my allegiance to the Kiwi Rugby League World Cup team has been ruined through their sponsorship by Vodafone.

Murray Withers (


Well, as we know the derby is not too far away and I do think we can do them, so thought you might like to hear what I was talking to a Red about who was sat on other side of the bar from me in Melbourne:

Me: So where are you watching the game on the 18th?
Red: So what’s happening on the 18th?
Me: Oh, never-mind.

After about five minutes:

Red: Oh you mean the derby?
Me: Suppose you could say that.
Red: Another six points this year.

After about two pints, and a few questions such as “Ever been to Manchester?”:

Red: Oh how good Roy Keane is, like the guy John Barnes who we sold to you.
Me: John Barnes never played for City.
Red: No, not the black John Barnes.

So after about another pint:

Red: The blonde John Barnes.
Me: (shaking my head thinking is this guy on drugs) Do you mean Peter?
Red: Oh that’s right, yes, Peter Barnes.
Me: Oh did you sell him to us did you? Oh did he come from United?

I drank my beer so fast and went home thinking did I hear that one.

Tim Berry (


Super, Super Kev, Super, Super Kev, Super Kevin Horlock we all sang after David James gifted us the penalty that sealed victory at Villa Park on Wednesday night. But that wasn’t the last we saw of young Mr James. Needing petrol, we pulled into a service station on the M5 at about 10.30pm and who should be walking towards us with his son but David James. After we had all pointed at him he tried to tip the peak of his cap down in the hope we had not already realised, but it was too late. So Paul (I’ve spilt half my bottle of Vodka) Barlow jumps out of our car to mimic Mr James’ efforts at taking the cross that led to the penalty. Very funny if you’d been there.

Alan Frost (


Ian Spragg, please don’t talk such nonsense. If you actually attend these games you will know Joe is spot on with his comments. At least he has the guts to actually say something which is his right. I agree with everything Joe has complained about, especially the Liverpool game (attended) where we definitely deserved a draw at least! Peskey Keskey.

Also, could Peter Timperley please do something about his email address! Oh yes, Villa was excellent, apart from the M6!

Mark Redgrave (


I am and always be a big fan of Joe Royle but a critic I will be also when I do not agree; we are down 0-1 and for every corner kick we win after being down 0-1, we only send 5 players up for the corner kicks. Now my way of reckoning would be send up 7 or 8 players to try to get the draw, and the odds being Leicester break away and get another goal. It’s one more goal against us goal average, againt us playing 7 or 8 up front to get the extra point.

OK so I am upset because we lost, just feel we could have done a little better, but all is forgiven, we all make mistakes, and I bet Joe had his reasons for what happened, who the hell am I (just a life-long fan).

Here’s to the next game, let’s do better! Come on you Blues!

CTID, Ernie Barrow (


Does anyone agree about Wanchope, maybe good on the ball but his football awareness is so slow. He cannot read the game, doesn’t think where the ball might be played, no anticipation whatsoever.

We can play some good one touch football sometimes but when a pass comes to him it no longer becomes one touch because he never looks where to play the ball before he gets it.

Come on Paulo make me eat my words, you’ve got the individual talent but you must work harder on your team game.

Ian Hawthorne (


In response to Ashley’s comments on City’s ability to “bounce back”, ever since I’ve been a City fanatic, they have consistently been inconsistent! This is the wonder of Manchester City… we just don’t know what will happen next! Just look at the recent evidence. We get thrashed on Saturday at Arsenal, then go to Villa Park where nobody has won yet this season and we come away victors. City have the ability to take us from the depths of despair to the height of ecstasy and it doesn’t seem to change from year to year. I can look back over the past 35 years and point to so many occasions when we were expected to lose yet came away winners, and we don’t need to be reminded of dismal defeats against lowly opposition. Who would have thought when we were 0-2 down at Wembley vs. Gillingham with only a few minutes to play that we would go on to win, then get promoted back to the Premiership so quickly. OK, we hoped and dreamed that we would… and our dreams came true! Thank goodness, after seasons of nightmares!

So what about Leicester on Saturday? By the time you read this the game will have been played. We should beat them but they have a pretty good defensive record. Even so I fancy us to sneak it 2-1, but what do I know? Over the years, I’ve tried reading tea-bags, wearing lucky undies, avoiding cracks in the pavement, dreaming up the craziest set of omens imaginable in the hope that City will win. If I was American, I’d be in therapy or more likely, a basket-case by now! And Wimbledon in the next round of the Worthy Cup? Don’t ask me, we should beat them but looking back, we should have beaten Halifax, Shrewsbury, etc. Wouldn’t it be typical City if we drew at Maine Road and then thrash them at their place… or go down to London and lose miserably without a fight? It reminds me of Old Jimmy Greaves who used to say “It’s a funny ol’ game”. He won’t be laughing much now Spurs are down the Tube! Anyway in closing my blather, the bottom line is: City are consistent in just one thing… they are always wonderfully unpredictable!

CTID, Clive Tysoe a.k.a. GB (


I thought I’d go public with my thoughts on the debate regarding the possible abolition of the current transfer system as posted in the recent MCIVTA.

Contrary as ever, I personally hope that the EU get rid of the transfer system as soon as possible, and instead establish conventional business contracts of employment, with none of the double standards and hypocrisy of the current system. My view is coloured of course by the way MCFC have behaved in the transfer market over the years.

What a waste of Money: City are a buying, not a selling club, and so we will not likely be affected by the change, in fact we would probably save an awful lot of money. Plus we rarely have players who want to leave the club. For example, when you can get the likes of a world class footballer like George Weah ready to bust a gut for you away at Gillingham, then anything is possible. City have always been an attractive club to play for, and I don’t actually care for any player stupid enough to turn down the chance of joining us, if you know what I mean. I would simply outlaw all ‘in advance’ transfer fees, and allow only contracts of employment paid on a weekly/monthly/appearance type basis. Since the top clubs are now looking abroad for their players, most of the lower league clubs are now learning to balance their books properly in this way, so I don’t believe in the so called ‘trickle down’ effect.

No strings attached part 1: The Nicholas Anelka issue at Arsenal a few years ago, highlighted how pathetic it can be to have a footballer “under contract”; once Anelka did his usual sulky runner, Arsenal were lucky to get a penny for him, rather than the tens of millions they eventually got for this disgraceful excuse for a professional footballer. If you can’t sign a player up for more than say 12 months, then you always know where you stand at the end of the season. By arranging for transfer windows to occur only two times a year, you can also stop players from jumping from club to club, as often as they like.

No strings attached part 2: I also hope short notice contracts would stop clubs like City (and United) storing up players in their reserves willy nilly, with nothing else for these players to do but wait around for several years for their lucrative contracts to run out. To protect clubs like City, contracts longer than 12 months should not be permitted in football – again you always know where you stand in this situation. If a player is ‘loyal’, let him prove it properly. Clubs should also be limited in the size of squad that they can build up over any given season (e.g. 40 players for the Prem.).

No strings attached part 3: In return, I also hope short notice contracts would stop future occurrences of the truly appalling treatment metered out by City (i.e. Royle) to the likes of Terry Cooke, Michael Brown and Gareth Taylor; players who have shown nothing other than a genuine desire to turn out in the Blue shirt. Take the former two players, why did Royle lock them into long contracts, when he clearly had no intention of playing them again? As I’ve said before, morally, we owe Terry Cooke a free; valuing him now at £1 million plus is an insult to all parties concerned, and yes, I mean the City fans here too.

Hopefully, quality footballers like Cooke, Weah, Kinkladze and the like would smarten up their act and install clauses allowing them to ‘walk’ as soon as they are “no longer good enough” to start maybe three games in eight? Why sign up otherwise? It would certainly stop me from getting totally hacked off at seeing great players like these, unable to ‘break into the side’ without even getting a kick. I’m happier for them to be let go as soon as the manager no longer needs them. So should the manager. Good on George Weah for asserting his rights here, when it mattered: I wish him well.

Having now got the backs up of countless City fans who are happy to see players treated this way by City, well I’m sorry, but I loved these players, pure and simple, and I know they loved this club. So tell me I’m wrong.

Young at Heart: Getting radical for a change, here is how I think we could protect the under 21 system in the absence of a transfer system. All clubs must be forced to have at least 30 youth players on their books at all times, all funded centrally by the FA to the age of 21, using the Sky TV money (might as well use it for good causes rather than let clubs like Chelsea pour it into the back pockets of the foreign legion). This might also help ensure that the UK would soon have a massive resource of young, mostly British footballers, feeding into the football league system, and maybe our national side: can’t be a bad thing can it?

These under 21 players would be signed not to the club though, but to the English FA who would after all be their employer. The FA would ‘own’ the registration of each player at their designated club, and so the U-21 players could not then be poached by the greedy, selfish bigger clubs. The FA would have the final say on any player’s movement across clubs. Obviously, I can’t see how you could prevent a young player from walking out on the FA to move to say Italy, but I think the number of instances here would be very few.

It’s our money after all: All of the above measures are designed to stop clubs wasting what is after all, money generated by us, football supporters. Do you think the football league clubs can be trusted to spend our money wisely? Didn’t think so – take MCFC as your example (with the exception of Royle who has stood his ground extremely well in the transfer market)! You never know, they might even be able to use the money saved to build us a decent national stadium (120,000 seater minimum), and maybe even reduce entrance fees for games (West Ham away anyone?). We also might then generate enough decent home grown players to actually win the World Cup, now wouldn’t that be nice?

So abolish the transfer system, I say! Could things be any worse than they are?

Neil Haigh (


Does anyone know if there is anywhere in New York that will be showing the derby game? There’ll be a group of us ready to tune in at 6am local time. I’m particularly desperate since I had to sacrifice a ticket to go to the States over that weekend!

Richard Leon (


Ashley has been crying out for more of these articles. So here goes.

I think what prompted me to write this “Why Blue?’ was the recent articles about the Harry Dowd “goal”. Yes I was at the match and remember Harry scrambling the ball over the line, I believe at the old scoreboard end. Good old Harry. He of the infamous “Crew Cut” hairstyle of the times. Well, I was born in Walkden (now Greater Manchester) almost exactly 4 years before the Cup Final win of ’56. My father was certainly at the final and probably my grandfather as well, as both were season ticket holders for many years. I had to wait another 13 years for my chance to go to Wembley.

I do not think I was bullied into becoming a Blue. Just taken along to matches from about age 5. Memories of the matches at this time are a bit of a blur and it was not until the early sixties that I can recollect some of the matches. Especially the drubbing of Spurs on Boxing Day in ’61 or ’62. Players of this era who spring to mind include Derek Kevan (what a shot he had), John Crossan (a real wizard), Alex (kick and run) Harley, Colin Barlow and David Wagstaffe.

On to the Mercer/Allison reign and the run up to the Championship. The final match of the season at Newcastle will always rate as the greatest match I have ever been to. What an atmosphere. I know Blackburn was a similar situation last year but I do not think anything can rate for excitement as knowing that if we lost and the team from Stretford had won, that the championship result would have been reversed. Whatever happened to George Heslop and Ken Mulhearn from our championship team? Thay are very rarely mentioned but were heroes in their own right. The following year had me selling programmes at Wembley for the Players’ Fund. Worth the effort to get a ticket to see the goal by our “forgotten” hero NY. Does anyone remember NY missing a lot of games around this time? Apparently City used to warm up for matches in the gym and the dust from the gym used to affect NY’s tonsils. Many a time I was expecting to see him play at Maine Road only for him to pull out at the last minute.

Since the early seventies I have travelled a lot and it must be 20 years since I was last at Maine Road. Do I miss it? Of course, who would not? Just walking into Maine Road on match days is so special. Geoff Collins from Guernsey related to this “feeling” in a recent article. It was nice of you guys to start a supporters’ club in Guernsey after I had left. Whilst in this part of the world a quick hello to Bob Young from Jersey, who although I met him in the early eighties I did not realise he was as passionate about MCFC as myself. This is why MCFC becomes like one big family. Acquaintances everywhere.

Next stop Bermuda. No, the goat was not on board as yet but the Saturday mornings in the “Robin Hood” will not be forgotten. The place erupted when “Kinky” scored a special against West Ham. So where am I now? The soccer outpost of Sri Lanka. Good cricket team but soccer is a minority sport. Limited TV coverage. I have to rely on this excellent newsletter twice a week and various Internet sites to keep in touch. There have been so many memories over the years. How could one not continue to be Blue? I am still looking for some of the guys with whom I used to go to the matches in the late sixties and early seventies. Mike Collard I have found and met this summer after 25 years. Does anyone know the whereabouts of Alan Carhart, Roy Dickinson, Alan & Ken Doodson and Steve Brewer? Please email me if you know where they are. Finally I just hope and pray, for some of our youger supporters, that the present management and team can recreate some of the excitement that I have been priveledged to have watched over the years. Looking back I do not think we know how lucky we were to have witnessed such great times in the Mercer/ Allison reign. Stay Blue Always. I will.

Steven Davies (


Recent results to 05 November 2000 inclusive.

5 November 2000

Everton               0 - 1  Aston Villa

4 November 2000

Charlton Athletic     2 - 0  Bradford City
Coventry City         1 - 2  Manchester United
Leeds United          4 - 3  Liverpool
Manchester City       0 - 1  Leicester City
Middlesbrough         0 - 1  Arsenal
Newcastle United      2 - 1  Ipswich Town
Southampton           3 - 2  Chelsea
Tottenham Hotspur     2 - 1  Sunderland

League table to 05 November 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  12  5  1  0 22  3  3  2  1 11  6  8  3  1 33  9  24  27
 2 Arsenal         12  6  0  0 16  4  2  3  1  7  6  8  3  1 23 10  13  27
 3 Leicester City  12  3  2  1  6  6  3  2  1  4  1  6  4  2 10  7   3  22
 4 Liverpool       12  5  1  0 12  5  1  2  3 11 13  6  3  3 23 18   5  21
 5 Aston Villa     11  3  2  0  9  3  2  2  2  5  6  5  4  2 14  9   5  19
 6 Newcastle Utd   12  3  1  2  7  5  3  0  3  6  6  6  1  5 13 11   2  19
 7 Ipswich Town    12  2  3  1  7  6  3  0  3 10  8  5  3  4 17 14   3  18
 8 Leeds United    11  4  0  2 15 11  1  3  1  4  6  5  3  3 19 17   2  18
 9 Charlton Ath.   12  4  2  0 11  3  1  1  4  8 15  5  3  4 19 18   1  18
10 Tottenham H.    12  5  1  0 12  5  0  1  5  5 13  5  2  5 17 18  -1  17
11 Chelsea         12  4  1  1 18  7  0  3  3  6 10  4  4  4 24 17   7  16
12 Sunderland      12  4  2  0  6  2  0  2  4  4 11  4  4  4 10 13  -3  16
13 Manchester City 12  2  1  3  8  7  2  1  3  6 13  4  2  6 14 20  -6  14
14 Southampton     12  2  1  3 10 12  1  3  2  5 10  3  4  5 15 22  -7  13
15 Everton         12  1  2  3  7 10  2  1  3  7 10  3  3  6 14 20  -6  12
16 West Ham United 11  1  3  2  6  7  1  2  2  7  7  2  5  4 13 14  -1  11
17 Coventry City   12  1  1  4  4 11  2  1  3  8 13  3  2  7 12 24 -12  11
18 Middlesbrough   12  0  2  4  5 10  2  2  2 11  9  2  4  6 16 19  -3  10
19 Bradford City   12  1  3  2  4  5  0  1  5  1 14  1  4  7  5 19 -14   7
20 Derby County    11  0  4  1  8 12  0  1  5  8 16  0  5  6 16 28 -12   5

With thanks to Football 365


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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 #656