Newsletter #658

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After steering a steady course with another admirable first half defensive display, a dejected City managed to exit Upton Park after what can only be described as an embarrassing second half capitulation. Moreover, there appears to have been a fairly serious fallout between JR and Wanchope; how serious remains to be seen. And guess who we’re playing next weekend!

This issue has a couple of match reports; a professional evaluation of the team and club (based on the Leicester performance) from ex-Blue – resident in Oz – Mark Brennan; plenty of opinion; requests; and some Blue Humour – at last!

This one goes out to 3,462.

Next game: Manchester United at home, Saturday 18th November 2000

NEWS SUMMARY

Second-Half Horror as Hammers Rout City

Saturday’s visit to Upton Park saw Manchester City slide to a third successive Premiership defeat – and continue a dismal run which has seen the team pick up only one point and concede thirteen goals in four trips to London this term. It was a Jekyll and Hyde performance from the Blues, who led at the break but eventually went down 4-1 to West Ham. Although Paolo di Canio hit the bar early on, City’s one-goal advantage at the interval was more than deserved, and Joe Royle’s side could easily have had further goals – indeed, Mark Kennedy had already had an effort contentiously ruled out for offside before Spencer Prior’s 32nd-minute header put the Blues in front. But the second half was a different story, as Harry Redknapp’s men turned the game round with three goals in a 14-minute spell. The Blues’ woes started with a 53rd-minute strike from former Maine Road star Steve Lomas, before one-time City target Trevor Sinclair and defender Ian Pearce virtually wrapped up the points for the home side. A last-gasp di Canio penalty completed the second-half demolition, the Italian cheekily waiting for Nicky Weaver to dive before chipping the ball into the net.

Royle Blames Individual Failings

Halfway through Saturday’s match at West Ham, Manchester City looked good for three points. So after the Blues’ dismal second half efforts allowed the Hammers to notch an easy win, Joe Royle was not a happy man. Royle blamed poor individual performances from several key men for the turnaround, exempting only Shaun Wright-Phillips and Jeff Whitley from the general criticism of his outfield players. And although the City defence had a torrid time after the break, the Blues’ boss was particularly concerned with failings further up the pitch. “The first half was the best we have played this season,” he reflected. “But in the second, we lacked aggression in one or two areas. It started up front – we kept giving the ball away too easily. I always believe the best defenders are your forwards if they can stop the ball coming back at you. But it was coming back incessantly.”

Redknapp – We Could Have Scored Seven

Harry Redknapp was delighted with his side’s second half comeback to overwhelm Manchester City on Saturday. And the West Ham boss felt the Blues were lucky to concede only four goals, with only Nicky Weaver’s heroics standing between the away team and a more embarrassing scoreline. After Joe Royle’s men had enjoyed the better of the opening period, Redknapp challenged his side to find a way back into the game after the break. And he was delighted with the Hammers’ response as they carved out chance after chance in a one-sided second period. “In the end if we had scored six or seven it would have been no exaggeration,” claimed the ex-Bournemouth manager. “They barely had a shot in the second half – it was one-way traffic.”

City Boss Blasts Wanchope

Joe Royle was upset with Paulo Wanchope’s display in City’s defeat at West Ham on Saturday. And the Blues’ boss admitted that he’d had a difference of opinion with the Costa Rican in the dressing room after the game. Royle was angry at the apparent lack of effort in Wanchope’s performance. And after substituting the ex-Derby man with Danny Allsopp, the City manager openly admitted his disatisfaction with the club’s record signing. “You’ve got to put more into the game than we got from Paulo,” he told local radio station BBC GMR, “and he’s been left in no doubt over that. To say we’ve had words after the game would be an understatement.” The 24-year-old’s loss of form is a source of concern for City ahead of next week’s derby clash against Manchester United, and it’s rumoured that Royle is unhappy enough to omit his top scorer from the side to face the Reds – especially as the player is due to fly in from international duty only hours ahead of the morning kick-off. But with Shaun Goater still the subject of fitness worries, the Blues could be stretched up front unless efforts in the transfer market bear fruit in the next few days.

Edghill Leaves on Loan

Richard Edghill has been given the chance to put his Maine Road nightmare behind him. The former Manchester City team captain has joined Birmingham on loan. Edghill hasn’t featured in the senior squad since his personal nightmare against Coventry in August, when he was substituted at half time after scoring an own goal. And with even transfer-listed Lee Crooks being selected in preference to the Oldham-born full-back when the Blues have suffered defensive injury crises, the writing has been on the wall for the club’s longest-serving player. He’s initially joined Trevor Francis’s side on a month’s loan, and could make his début in Saturday’s game against Burnley. However, Francis has been linked with the player on several occasions in recent weeks and it’s thought that the St Andrew’s boss will be keen to make the move permanent if the temporary stint is a success.

French International Link Denied

Manchester City have denied weekend tabloid claims that the club is about to swoop for a member of France’s successful Euro 2000 squad. The Blues are in desperate need of a new striker, and were said to be eyeing Christophe Dugarry. The ex-Marseille front man is currently with Bordeaux but is said to want a transfer. And it was claimed by some sources that Willie Donachie made a trip to Glasgow last week to run the rule over the World Cup winner in last week’s UEFA Cup tie against Celtic. Dugarry would have cost in the region of £3.5 million, though his wage demands would also have been substantial, and director Chris Bird has rubbished the story that the 28-year-old is Maine Road bound. Meanwhile, the Blues continue to be linked with Chelsea’s Icelandic forward Eidur Gudjohnsen.

City Give Trial to Rozental

Manchester City will this week give a trial to Sebastian Rozental. The Chilean striker has been on loan from Scottish champions Rangers to Independiente of Argentina, but with the Argentinian season now over he could be available for the rest of the current English campaign. The Blues have concerns over Rozental’s fitness after his three years at Ibrox were disrupted by a serious knee injury and the 24-year-old was due to arrive in England on Monday to begin his Maine Road trial on Tuesday. However, it seems that even if Joe Royle does take a chance on the man he refers to as “world class on his day”, the City boss will nevertheless look to add a further new face to his complement of front men. The Blues have been linked with a host of strikers in recent weeks, though Royle insists the press still haven’t got close to making a correct identification of the men in the frame.

Dunne Nets Irish Accolade

Richard Dunne recently cost Manchester City a £3 million transfer fee. And the judges for the Irish Young Player of the Year award seem to agree that the outlay represents a wise piece of business on Joe Royle’s part. Dunne has had a stop-start introduction to his City career, impressing on his début at Southampton in the right-back rôle but then losing his place to fellow new signing Laurent Charvet. And the ex-Everton star had an unhappy time after coming on as a second-half substitute against West Ham on Saturday, conceding the penalty from which Paolo di Canio netted the home side’s fourth goal. But after picking up his Irish award at a banquet on Sunday, the big defender will be hoping to use his probable appearance for his country in Wednesday’s friendly against Finland to press his claims for inclusion in Royle’s starting line-up against Manchester United at the weekend.

Marseille Struggling Despite Weah Signing

The acrimonious departure of George Weah from Manchester City contributed in large measure to the club’s need for new striking personnel. And neither party appears to be prospering after the split, with the Liberian finding life tough at his new club, Marseille. The French giants are struggling in the league this season. And though the 34-year-old scored on his second appearance and was then made captain, the outfit which dominated football across the Channel for much of the late 1980s and early 1990s is continuing to struggle in the French First Division. Marseille went down 2-0 at Sedan at the weekend to remain third from bottom, four points worse off than the team immediately above them. And coach Carlos Abel Braga says the signing of Weah has made things worse rather than better. “We played fine before his arrival but now we look for him too much and suffer for that,” he lamented.

Cooke on Top in Clash of Loan Men

Terry Cooke and Danny Granville are on loan at Sheffield Wednesday and Norwich respectively, and were in direct opposition on Saturday. And it was Cooke who came out on top as Wednesday beat the Canaries 3-2. Granville had impressed on each of his first two appearances for the East Anglians. But he had less to smile about at Hillsborough, being booked and conceding a disputed penalty from which ex-Blue Andy Hinchcliffe scored the game’s opening goal. Meanwhile, Chris Killen was substituted in Wrexham’s single-goal defeat at Millwall while Richard Jobson’s second appearance for Watford ended, like his first, in defeat. The Hornets lost top spot in Division One after going down 2-0 at Tranmere.

Reserves Win Blackburn Friendly

The recent dismal weather has meant a lack of match action for Manchester City’s reserves. So the Blues arranged a friendly for the second string against Blackburn last Thursday. Jim Whitley and Shaun Wright-Phillips scored the goals for City in a 2-1 win at Platt Lane. And the game was obviously beneficial for Wright-Phillips in particular – he then joined up with the seniors for the trip to West Ham and was arguably the team’s best player in the disappointment at Upton Park. Weather permitting, the Blues are next in action at reserve level on Tuesday when Sunderland visit Hyde, while the City youth side will also be in action soon. The youngsters begin their FA Youth Cup campaign at home to Fulham in a tie which has to be completed before 9 December.

Burnley Join Chase but Bishop Stays

Gillingham have been persistent in their pursuit of Ian Bishop over the last couple of months. But the midfielder is staying at Maine Road – even though Burnley are also keen to sign him. Bishop will have been disappointed not to be sent on from the substitute’s bench as he returned with the Blues to former club West Ham at the weekend. But even so, the stylish midfielder says he’s been assured he’s still regarded by Joe Royle as a key part of the City set-up, so has no desire to leave the club. “Apparently both Gillingham and Burnley have made enquiries for me to go on loan,” explained the Liverpudlian, “but the boss told them I was a big part of his squad and plans.”

Ex-City ‘Keeper Dents Weaver’s Hopes

With stand-in boss Peter Taylor giving youth a chance, Nicky Weaver was disappointed not to be named in the full England squad for this week’s game in Italy. And it’s emerged that one of his predecessors in the Manchester City goal helped to deny the ex-Mansfield junior a call-up. Manchester United coach Steve McClaren is Taylor’s right-hand man for the Italian trip. And McClaren discussed the goalkeeping candidates at length with ex-City star Tony Coton – now the Old Trafford goalkeeping coach. Coton felt that Weaver should stay in the under-21 squad for Tuesday’s game against Italy, and commented, “My honest appraisal of Nicky was that he was improving and he’d done well to get to this stage but this season was a big one for him. He’s progressing.”

Ferguson to Miss Derby

Alex Ferguson will not be taking charge of Manchester United for the derby match at Maine Road next Saturday. The Scot will instead be in South Africa attending his son’s wedding. Ferguson explained that the date was set in February, when he expected a blank Saturday with November 18 down as a provisional date for World Cup qualifiers. And the ex-Aberdeen boss was mortified when he discovered the fixture changes. “We found out that instead of having a free weekend, we are playing Manchester City – it couldn’t have been any worse for me,” he moaned. “The wedding is in Cape Town so there’s nothing I can do.” Meanwhile, Alfie Haaland has warned the United camp that the atmosphere awaiting them on Saturday is far superior to what they’re used to at Old Trafford. “I’ve never played in a better atmosphere than Maine Road,” boasted the City skipper. “We have not sold out to the corporate side and make sure real fans can still get in.”

Peter Brophy (peterbrophy@mancity.net)

MATCH REPORT – ‘LIVE’ I

WEST HAM UNITED vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 11th November 2000

Our day began at Basingstoke, on the 11.15 fast train (I didn’t think they existed anymore) to London Waterloo. There were 3 of us: my brother and sister-in-law, Sharon and John, and me. We had journeyed to Basingstoke the day before to celebrate the birthday of my father-in-law who conveniently arranged his birthday to coincide with this fixture.

We met John’s brother, Keith, at Waterloo, who is in fact a Spurs fan who was going to watch the game with his West Ham work colleagues. We headed for the Jubilee line, in all its spanking new, award winning glory. From Waterloo a crowd began to develop at the one end of the platform. A voice piped up that the next train would be very congested and he invited us to walk down the platform to prevent the train being delayed. The train turned up only to be packed at the end we had all moved to, a gag the announcer probably never tires of. Julia Somerville was on the train with her daughter, presumably going to Millwall. It was on this train that Keith made a grisly discovery; his natty new jacket had attached to the zips a little tag with “Spurs” on and he was going to be sat in the middle of the West Ham fans!

We got to a traditional East End boozer near the ground at around 12.30, a very decent pub full of Phil & Grant lookalikes. We supped pints and discussed Paulo, Bish, Weaver’s England snub etc. until kick off approached. As it turned out the kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes due to half a building site being blown into the away end.

We had pretty good seats behind the goal (the goal as it happens all five were scored). The City side was Paulo and Wright-Phillips up front, Haaland, Whitley, Wiekens and Kennedy in the middle with Ritchie, Prior, Howey and Charvet at the back. Weaver was in goal. We started brightly enough, however not as bright as City’s socks, although the roar I heard whilst taking a pee was Di Canio’s effort hitting the crossbar and Charvet blocking Lampard’s follow up. We all managed to convince ourselves that Weaver got fingers to it.

West Ham for all their talent looked sluggish and Wright Phillips looked to have the measure of the ageing Stuart Pearce. Even Whitley looked like he might fancy his chances as the West Ham defence parted in front of him. Howey and Prior looked to have Di Canio in their pockets. The City fans were in good voice and when Kennedy looped over an exquisite corner right onto the head of an unmarked Prior we all thought today could set City back onto the winning track. Prior looked visibly shocked when the ball hit the back of the net. Even after we went 1 up we still kept playing as a unit and West Ham really didn’t look like scoring. The half time whistle went and we were all filled with East End cheer after some good moves from City.

At half time we were confronted with the usual bar with no beer only this time the West Ham management saw fit to employ a 4’10”’ 70-year old, with XXX size dentures, to announce this over and over on a megaphone. However, the megaphone was so cr*p the only people that could vaguely hear her was us, who were stood directly next to her, and a couple of blokes directly in front of her who were looking at her dumbfounded. We all saw the funny side, bless her.

The second half kicked off and it wasn’t too difficult to imagine what Harry Redknapp had to say at half time, as the Bubble blowing Hammers seemed to have woken up. How ironic then that the first goal came from a City old boy. Lampard seemed to miss a Kanoute cross, which totally wrong footed everyone in the City defence and allowed Lomas to side foot a shot, which Weaver nearly saved, but alas the ball fired into the roof of the net. The rot set in and we couldn’t keep possession, which meant the likes of Sinclair, Kanoute and Di Canio were running riot as Prior and Howey seemed to get swamped. Sinclair got West Ham’s second and Ian Pearce headed the 3rd. Di Canio’s penalty was insult to injury. I am sorry to say that I left once Wanchope was taken off and Allsopp was brought on when we were 4-1 down with minutes to play. Wanchope wasn’t bad, it’s just that we needed someone to hold the ball up to give our overworked midfield and defenders a break.

We collapsed well and truly. Undone by wingers firing in crosses for their fellow players to score. We just couldn’t match them in second half, we lost our cohesion and that now means we have conceded 10 goals in the last 3 games and we have only scored once. Before the Arsenal game we managed to claw our goal difference back to 0. If Kanoute could shoot and Di Canio hadn’t been off target our goal difference wouldn’t be so “healthy” as -9 this fair morning. The only possible explanation must be the kit, there is nothing good about City wearing insipid grey shirts and wildly fluorescent socks.

Angus Jordan (angus_jordan@yahoo.com)

MATCH REPORT – ‘LIVE’ II

WEST HAM UNITED vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 11th November 2000

Our pre-match drink was in the Black Lion at Plaistow, 10 minutes from the ground. We met some West Ham fans there through my brother, who lives in London. Nice pub, good atmosphere, enlivened by a notice that went up on one of the pub walls offering ‘Prawn sandwiches for Man U fans – only £52,000’. I think it must have been brought in by a City fan as apparently the landlord is a Red. Anyway we had a great time in there, it was nearly the best part of the day as it transpired. We left at about 2:40 to get to the ground just in time for a delayed kick-off.

Apparently some scaffolding had fallen off the building works going on with the building of a new stand. The team was Weaver, Charvet, Howey, Prior, Ritchie, Haaland, Whitley, Wiekens, Kennedy, Wright-Phillips and Wanchope. A true game of 2 halves followed. We sang the now-familiar “It’s just like being in church” and “Shall we sing a song for you?” to the not-so-happy Hammers in the first half and they sang the same songs back, with gusto, after the break.

The game started scrappily. They had a couple of attacks, one of which included a gorgeous chip by Di Canio over Weaver and onto the bar and a right old scramble afterwards, but otherwise we didn’t have too much pressure. It was not always easy to see what was going on at the other end (we were in row 3) but the presence of 2 large screens, both of which we could see for a change, made things much easier. After about 15 or 20 minutes, we started to look the better team. Phillips looked our best player going forward. He was able to twist away from tackles and then accelerate away from the likes of Winterburn and Psycho. I was surprised at how involved he was and how confident he looked. We scored after about 25 minutes when he again broke free down the right and hit a cross-shot which Kennedy knocked in at the far post. The goal was disallowed for offside. It must have been close but none of our lot protested. Just after the half-hour, Phillips broke free again. This time he shot low to the near post and Hislop parried it past the post for a corner. Kennedy swung it in and Prior, unchallenged in the centre of the goalmouth, headed into what appeared an empty net. This time, goal given and cue wild celebrations. That was it, really, until half-time.

West Ham rarely threatened. Whitley, Haaland and, to a lesser extent, Wiekens were usually breaking up their attacks. When we broke (usually through Phillips) we looked quite dangerous but didn’t manage to create another scoring chance. 1-0 at the break. We looked well in control by then. Went for a half-time cuppa to discover that there was no hot food or hot drinks left. I think there is great room for improvement in Maine Road catering but the facilities I have seen at the likes of Liverpool, Spurs, Arsenal and West Ham are frankly disgraceful given the costs of admission. Also noticed that Prior had been 40-1 to get the first goal.

They murdered us in the second half. It wasn’t that they threw caution to the wind (of which more later) but they seemed to be sharper to the ball and faster going at our defence. I have to say that our marking seemed to be non-existent. Time and time again Di Canio and Kanoute found space to receive the ball unchallenged and then run at our back four. Whitley and Haaland were robbed regularly by Lomas and Lampard. Wiekens didn’t get a kick. Eight minutes in, Kanoute was free on the right and he pulled the ball back for Lomas to score from about 12 yards. Weaver got in the way of the shot, which was straight at him, but the ball just deflected up into the roof of the net. Sinclair scored the next after we had been opened up down the left this time. A low cross from Carrick reached the far post and Sinclair squeezed it back across Weaver. Kanoute made the next after having far too long to think about it, then beat Ritchie and cross for Ian Pearce to head in. His celebrations in front of the 2,200 Blues behind the goal were not called for or appreciated, although we were all a bit shell-shocked by then.

We were now playing into a fairly strong wind and steady rain. Frankly, we didn’t seem to fancy it any more. Weaver suddenly couldn’t kick past the halfway line and we just couldn’t keep West Ham away from our goal. Ritchie was hauled off (presumably because he was getting a right run-around) and Dunne went to left back. He then promptly lost the ball trying to dribble past an attacker. It thought that we lacked heart. Most of the players seemed to me to be too willing to give up. Wanchope went off to loud jeers from the home fans to be replaced by Allsopp, who ran around a bit without getting a kick. Bishop should be glad he never made it on, though he was warmly applauded when he went for a jog down the touchline. Kanoute went though twice with only Weaver to beat but each time his shot was saved. Then, in the last minute, he cut in from the right and hit a shot from the left which I thought Weaver did very well to deflect over the bar. The ref however gave a pen, apparently for a foul by Prior on Kanoute as he was about to shoot. No one from West Ham appealed. Prior was booked for arguing. Di Canio ran up, Weaver dived to his right and the ball was just gently chipped straight into the middle of the net. Beautiful to watch if it made it 4-1 to your team, I’m sure.

John Marsland (jmarsland@iclway.co.uk)

TICKET NEWS

Chelsea vs. Man City, December 3rd

London/southern based City supporters may like to know that tickets for this game are now on open sale at £27 each. Call ticket line: 0161 828 1200.

Ian Howard, Manchester (ian.howard@mcfc.co.uk)

RESERVES ACTION

The reserve team play Sunderland in the Premier League tomorrow night (Tuesday 14 November) at Ewen Fields, Hyde. Kick-off 7pm, assuming no major climatic changes between now and then. The Oldham games (Manchester Senior Cup) have been put back to December 14 (away) and March (home).

Heidi Pickup (heidi@mancity.net)

TRIP HOME

I thought I would take this opportunity to contact you on a number of issues, not the least being my recent trip home to visit my old teammates and family back in Manchester and Salford!

May I start off by congratulating you all on the superb information provided in your emails; for someone like myself who is so far away it is comforting to receive your regular emails to bring us closer to what is happening.

Whilst back home I was able to catch up with a number of my ex-colleagues from the seventies, namely Ian Mellor, Willie Donachie, Ronnie Healey, David Gibbons, George McBeth, Dennis Leman, Stuart Curtin, Paul Power, Asa Hartford & Phil Henson. They all look well and a number of them, particularly Willie of course, are actively involved in football at the top level which is great to see. I also attended the Tribute night for Roy Clarke held at the Prestwich & Whitefield Branch of the Supporters’ Club which was also an opportunity to speak with the likes of Roy hiself and his lovely wife Kathleen, Bert Trautmann (doesn’t he look well for his age!), Fred Eyre, Roy Little, Roy Cheetham, Phil Burrows, John Williamson, Paddy Fagan, Ken Barnes etc. I was impressed with the obvious loyal support of City fans which has no doubt taken a buffeting over the years due to the relegation débâcles but hopefully now we are on the right track.

There was a great turnout on a wet Tuesday night at Heaton Park Social Club for Roy’s tribute night and I know that he was absolutely delighted to be remembered in such a way! The Chairman Mr. Bernstein handled the questions put to him very well and generally the feeling was that the club is on the way up. This brings me to the game that I attended on Saturday, 4th November, City vs. Leicester. I was a guest of Ian Mellor and the PFA people who have a box in the Kippax. I was also fortunate to be introduced to the crowd before the game (courtesy of Yvonne Donachie), which was a truly great feeling although to be frank most of the people there were probably wondering who was this guy from Perth who used to play many moons ago, but still there was generous applause which I will cherish!

The game itself never got to any great heights (there are plenty of match reports elsewhere in previous issues). Suffice to say that Leicester won by virtue of taking the one serious chance that they had, despite City dominating possession in midfield, holding their forwards most of the time but failing to really trouble the Leicester defence where it mattered (in the front third) or out wide.

There were some interesting comments after the game by Peter Taylor about the performance. I asked him why Steve Guppy had not played and he said that he did not think it was the sort of game for him to make a return due to the fact that City always “put a foot in” and you have to work hard for anything that you get. He therefore chose a side that he knew would “dig in”!

Trying to evalute the performance on purely one visit is hard but maybe I can offer some constructive comments based on a very long career both in the UK and Australia.

First of all the crowd support is truly amazing and they are crying out for more success, they are hungry for instant goals and breathtaking runs etc. but may have to learn to be patient now that City are in the Premier League where teams have to work really hard for any sort of joy! Defensively we look OK at home but away from home would appear to be of some concern; the ‘keeper looks a sound shot-stopper but needs to be more commanding on crosses to give his defence better all round confidence.

The back line is strong physically but we need to find the right balance between strength, pace and tracking of the opposition as this will be ultimately be the key to our position come May, 2001. We are strong in midfield but without someone like Bishop we are short on creative ability, certainly a player who can take hold of the middle and bring other players into the game is a must for future success. Not too many midfield players went past a Leicester player around the front third. Out wide is an area that can do better, most defences are strong down the middle but once you stretch them and get around the back that can cause all sorts of problems. Danny Tiatto works very hard but needs to get in more crosses from better positions to create chances for the strikers, Mark Kennedy seems to be capable of anything but has difficulty maintaining consistency (does he believe in himself?).

Up front is an area that we need more backup as Dickov and Wanchope on this showing will find it hard to break down better defences than Leicester’s. They both work very hard (particulary Dickov) but do not always seem to know which is the best run to make to receive the ball from the back pushing out or from midfield players. I would like to see them work harder at losing their markers as the ball is being played in from wide spots (one to take a defender away and the other to get in front of the first defender for a strike at goal!). With respect though the service from out wide has to get the ball into that zone more frequently to give whoever plays up there that chance.

In summary and at the risk of boring you too much, there is optimism around the club that suggests that this will be a season for consolidation. The aim will be to stay up and build for next year; on evidence of the recent game I believe City are stronger than the other four or five sides that are around the bottom reaches of the league. We need to be able to win more games at home than has happened and tighten up away from home (à la Southampton!).

The management team of Joe Royle and Willie Donachie are working as hard as is possible to improve each week but it is obvious that the Premier League is an unforgiving place for making mistakes and teams that do are punished in a way that did not happen in my days. With the support of a great crowd there is every chance that the season will show some rewards at the end. I hope that the derby game goes our way and we can get a result and above all that supporters behave responsibly for the overall good of what is still the best game in the world!

In closing I hope that I have not bored any of you with my comments, they are made I hope from the heart and with some constructive points that hopefully will show improvement as the season moves on.

Keep in touch.

Mike Brennan – 1968-1973 (Michael.Brennan@leighmardon.com.au)

IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE?

… who considers themselves to be a Football Genius (David Platt apart) who can explain to me what the blo*dy hell happened at Upton Park!

The human race being creatures of habit, we have made Newport Pagnall our toilet and coffee stop for what appears, too frequent M1 journeys recently. Not only was it raining but the food area is so disgusting we saw the cups from the Tottenham and Arsenal trips still on the table and nobody in the past weeks had found a use for our “dimps”. Still raining but full of hope we settled in the “Central” pub about 12.30. Really good, big old-fashioned London pub with loads of banter. Two members of the local Constabulary did a tour and the senior barperson commented that “this lot are good natured” and the younger copper said they weren’t expecting any bother. How could she know – she was probably in a gymslip when we were last in the top flight. Back to City as I’m getting excited.

The 1st half was the best 45 minutes this season.

Confident, attacking, confortable, great. SWP was causing all sorts of problems for the Hammers (what a talent, he will hopefully mature into a super player) and Mark Kennedy thankfully looking as if he might prove my past comments a “load of rubbish”!

So as I paddled to the toilets at half time I thought “there is no way we can lose this game!” But dear old City… we know we suffer from a period of post half-time sleepiness and we knew West Ham would come out and chase the game but it was a blo*dy claret and blue tide. Defenders were going for the same ball, nervousness spread throughout, the ball was given away with regularity. Paulo I thought had a pretty good 1st half but like everyone else sunk into the 2nd half abyss. I would have thought during our striker crisis, Gareth Taylor might have been preferred to Danny Allsopp. But then, whatever striker was used during the latter stages of total carnage, would have made no impression.

I seriously don’t think we will be “sucked” into a relegation dogfight – we are as good as 2/3 of the Prem, I just don’t want to spend a long winter proving my point. So come on City, sort it out – how about a bit of consistency along the lines of the West Ham 1st half? Consistency and Man City… it’s probably as rare as a dry day in Cheshire!

Arrived at our local pub after the inevitable M1 crawl (yawn, yawn, yawn) at 22.45 hours and who should we see? Yes, perched on a barstool, and every pub’s got one, your patronising, archetypal Red.

First sentence: Not, “had a long day? What was it like? How did you play?” but… “You might have a chance next Saturday, we’ve probably got 9 first team regulars out”.

Val, eyes blazing: “Since when has Fortune been a regular first team, world class United player?”

Thankfully we were rescued by Stokie Pat: “Can I come and join you, I’ve had a s*it day as well!”

P.S. Has anybody else noticed, like we have, while imbibing a leisurely lunchtime pint, that the Reds really are not looking forward to next Saturday: Just in case, just in case!

Richard Cooper, Congleton, via Andy Noise (Andrew.Noise@CEL-International.com)

OPINION – A GAME OF TWO HALVES

It was obvious that once Harry Redknapp had issued all his players with sunglasses at half-time to counteract the blinding light emanating from City’s incredibly yellow socks, they had outwitted us. I saw these socks for sale in the superstore last week. I thought it was some kind of Christmas novelty item. Never expected for one minute that we’d be playing in them. Haven’t we had enough mickey taking over the last few years without shooting ourselves in the fluourescent foot?

David Kilroy (davidkilroy@cwcom.net)

OPINION – MARK STRONG ON LITTLE DICKY

This little piece really annoyed me. To refresh your memory, Mark thinks Little Dicky deserves criticism. “I will always remember THAT goal and it will be one of the best moments of my life, but it is history and it does not mean he can play sh*te, get paid and I will let it go because he scored THAT goal. He should get the same criticism that everyone else gets when they play sh*te.”

Tiger prawn or what? We have got our fair share of them. Real supporters don’t come to be entertained. They come because they love the club, and will do everything they can to help the team, that means getting behind the players when they make mistakes, especially honest players like Dicky. I sit in R Block in the North Stand where most of the vocal support comes from, but even there I am surrounded by people who spend the entire game abusing the players (and much of it is racist – Gorilla, Banana Quaffer, Irish/Black b@stard etc., but that’s another issue). I understand fans’ frustration but to turn it on the players feeds a vicious cycle. City supporters revel in our loyalty and reputation but there are plenty of so-called supporters who would be better off never going to Maine Road.

If Dicky has his faults, I’m sure he works on them with Willie in training. When he’s out on the pitch, wearing the Blue shirt, he, and the other players, deserve our total support, and nothing less is good enough. You are not at Maine Road to be entertained. You are there out of a sense of duty and commitment to the club we love. All we demand is 100% effort, and we get that from every player. Those that don’t give it are very rare, e.g. Weah, and quickly found out. Those last couple of months in Division 1 at Maine Road were special, the atmosphere was memorable, like the old days on the Kippax. This season it looks like we are going the way of Man Ure, Liverpool, Leeds etc. Once great passionate support replaced by consumers demanding their entertainment. Don’t give Man City up without a fight! What’s the point of having a Premiership quality team if we don’t have a support to be proud of? United have a great team, but their supporters aren’t part of their success. Could this happen at Man City?

Mazin Nasralla (Mazin@mnasralla.freeserve.co.uk)

OPINION – ITALIAN FRUSTRATION

Another defeat, the third in a row. I don’t really know what to think, but I’m really feeling so frustrated. This time last season we were playing First Division football and the Premiership was just a sweet dream. Now we are part of it but unfortunately I can’t say I’m happy at all. Something is going wrong, and probably somebody is to blame, because I cannot think it’s just bad luck if a Premiership side has already lost 3 home games and has probably given away more goals than any other team. I could try blaming Royle for his decisions, but how can I, after what he’s done for the club? I just don’t know. At the beginning of this season’s campaign the defence seemed to be the biggest problem. Joe was urged to bring in new players, he did that, and we still concede 4-5 goals when we play away from Maine Road. Maybe just one at home, enough to lose though. It’s so hard for us to finish with a clean sheet. Weaver didn’t get called up for next Wedenesday’s Turin friendly, and I’m really disappointed because I’m actually going to attend the game. I think he deserves a call up, but how can we blame Taylor for not calling a ‘keeper who’s conceded roughly 30 goals? Probably no one has done worse than him and I’m afraid these figures, although I disagree, because a goalkeeper has to be valued for his very own skills, unfortunately count.

Now Joe is being urged to sign a new striker. Let’s forget about Weah. We’ve got Dickov, who keeps improving all the time, Wanchope, who’s already shown what he can do, and poor Shaun who’s always injured, but he’ll be back soon I hope. I don’t think a new face is needed up front. Today I was happy to see Wright-Philips play, a young bloke from the youth squad. What I’m trying to say is that we thought we had problems in defence, so Joe changed everything and we still concede loads of goals. Now the problem is up front it is said. Maybe somebody is needed as a substitute, because I’m sure that Dickov, Goater and Wanchope are abosolutely match for the Premiership job. The midfield my friends, I’m sure the midfield is responsible for these bad results. Barely no one has blamed the midfield so far. I don’t know. Living in Italy I’ve never watched City, apart from a couple of games on telly. I think City’s midfield isn’t good enough to guarantee our defenders enough protection. Consequently, they have to work harder than they should do, they go under pressure all the time and they end up letting the opposition shoot at poor Nicky too many times. And I also think the midfield is responsible for not supplying our strikers adequately as well. I had problems with Real Audio today, so I don’t know how it exactly went. I just know we conceded 4 goals in 45 minutes. I remember Joe said he wanted to give last season’s side their chance to prove themselves in the Premiership. Well? No defenders are left, now a new striker to be lined up is wanted. Horlock, who was such a key player last season, is always on the bench. Why? Why? Is this Haaland really better than him? I’m sure, and I’m certain you will all agree with me, that our strength last season was a steady, united group, with a passionate commitment for our beloved blue shirt. I can’t say I’ve got this certainty now.

I remember we were all worried last summer because at one stage Haaland was the only signing of Joe, but maybe now we’ve had too many. Am I someone who will never be happy or can I expect some sympathy for any of you my friends? I’ve got so many questions in my mind, and I’m not able to provide any answer. Seven days and it’s going to be United. They’ve been showing a lack of form lately, but will this be enough to do them? We need 11 players really, really, really attached to our colours. This would be a good recipe I reckon. Please could anyone let me know what he/she thinks about what I’ve just been writing, and if there’s any reason I can look to the future with a smile. Ipswich are 6th in the table. My information is very poor, but I don’t think they’ve changed many players since last season. In my country Atalanta, a small club, are topping serie A thanks to a home-made side, since most of the players are coming from the youth squad. What I’m trying to say is that it’s important to have money available, but other aspects have to be considered. I hope Wright Philips played well today, because it’s crucial to look to this direction, rather than considering signing people who couldn’t care less about City (see Weah, who I really believed in, who really let me down).

Vanes Marzaroli (longobard@hotmail.com)

OPINION – STRIKERS

Considering every trainer in Europe is looking for a striker who can score 20 plus a season I do not envy Joe in his search for one. But how many have we had in the last couple of seasons? Robert Taylor. Gareth Taylor, Peacock, Weah. All bought with the best intentions so it is no easy task. Always liked Chris Greenacre, a talent we let go. Pleased for him that he is top scorer in his division. So where do we find one? Rangers have one for sale who not too long ago was banging them in for fun. Negri I think he is called but what happened to him I don’t know. Here in Holland the top scorer Ali Elkhattabi from Sparta Rotterdam is available for 4 million pounds and looks good. David Connolly the Irish international from Feyernoord is available and has been loaned out to Exelsior and is top scorer in the Dutch second division. He earns a lot but would be cheaper than Weah due to Bosman. Not an easy one this is it? Who knows perhaps when Goater is fit and ready he does the business, he has not let us down yet has he?

Bob Price (m.wisselingh@worldonline.nl)

OPINION – A REPLY TO MARK STRONG

Thanks to Mark Strong for his comments in MCIVTA 657.

I am sorry that he feels that my opinion that Dickov was the most impressive City player against Leicester was misguided. I remember giving scores and Dickov came top but in the general review of the game, no one produced as was required. I must take issue with the out-of-context cut and pasting. Mark, you should work for a video distribution company. Perfect. Take a few sentences and cut out the bit that agrees with your argument! Is that your job in real life? Easy work.

Yep, Dickov will always be remembered for that goal. I was there and remember the goal by Kevin Horlock but at the time (89th minute) it was a consolation goal, nothing more. The point I made about Paul forcing his way back into the squad was about the differences that Joe Royle had made to the first team in comparison to that which was in the 2nd Division and left the 1st. Respect is due.

Mark, just say that you think that Paul is cr*p. You don’t have to chop up someone else’s article to back up your idea. You are entitled to your opinion. As for putting Dickov on a pedestal! Not likely. Trouble is, he was scoring goals and working hard. He’s even got the whinging out of his system. So would I prefer a committed Kinkladze or a committed Dickov? There is no competition. That was the past. City fans want to see skilful, exciting players but we don’t have them. So what do you do? Ask that the ones on the pitch to give it their all. In lieu of a truly frightening striker who slams in 25 goals a season and an unfit Goater. I will take a guy who runs his legs off for the team. Please note my comments from my last input “Lacking is a decent passing midfielder who has some pace, and another striker.”

I look forward to a City team with a better midfield and a striker who will net regularly even if his name is not Dickov.

Luck to all Blues, Dave Blyth (david.blyth@etl.ericsson.se)

OPINION – MR PARISH

How delighted I am to see that the Rev. Steve Parish is now spreading his own idiosyncratic brand of nitpicking wider than MCIVTA’s electronic pages as his theologising on the letters page of Saturday’s Guardian Weekend testifies. While it would no doubt take an event akin to the conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus, I live in the hope that the good reverend may one day make a positive contribution to MCIVTA or, indeed, The Guardian. Here’s hoping!

Noel Bayley (noelbayley@iname.com)

REQUEST – PRE- AND POST-DERBY ACTIVITY

I’m a life long Copenhagen City fan and I’m going to Manchester to watch the derby game and would to have some Blue tips about: Pubs, where to go before and after the match etc.

Please e-mail me at the address below.

CTID, Niels B. Hansen (niels.b.hansen@scandlines.dk)

REQUEST – OREGONIAN DERBY GAME

OK, I asked this before I transplanted myself and got lumped in with the local tree-huggers by a fellow Blue in Seattle. Aah, must be the excess caffeine. Makes one a bit jittery.

Still, I shall ask again. I’m in Oregon (in the Eugene/Springfield area), and I’m wondering whether there’s anybody there who will be watching the derby game, so I can join you, cheer on City and mutter darkly about Ralph Nader. It’s gotta be better than seeing a bloke in a Eugene sports bar wearing a T-shirt featuring The Swamp’s favourite Norwegian pre-schooler, as I did last summer. That was extremely dismaying, and the wife had to drag me out the bar whilst I was still merely mumbling under my breath…

It’d give me a break from the Ducks, if nothing else.

If there is anybody, what are we doing about that inconvenient 8-hour time lag? Isn’t it a 3.30 am kick off, or something?

Yours yawnfully, Alan Bates (alan@house9design,com)

REQUEST – IPSWICH GAME IN NEW YORK

Our social secretary, Andy Johnson is going to New York over the weekend of the Ipswich game on 25th November and he asks if there will be any Blues in a bar getting together to listen to the world service or whatever. Any replies please to Andy at miniquip@hotmail.com or to me at the address below and I will forward them on or pass on the details.

Lance Thomson, MCFC CSA, Morecambe Bay Branch (lnt@btinternet.com)

REQUEST – NOKIA PHONES

Vanda and I just upgraded our phones to Nokia 3210 and would like to know if anyone knows if there is an X-press on cover for it in MCFC colours or logo. Please if anyone does could they mail me to the address below.

Dave and Vanda (Vanda_David@tesco.net)

REQUEST – DERBY GAME IN ADELAIDE

I am working in Adelaide and want to know if any other Blues living out here can tell me if they know anywhere that is showing the game on Saturday night.

Tony Hughes (tony_hughes10@hotmail.com)

OFFER – CITY PROGRAMME

I’ve got a City programme for Wed 16th Oct 1974, vs. Arsenal in good condition, love to give it to a good home, could I ask MCIVTA subscribers if anybody would like it foc. Please mail me.

Frank Harrop – Ballykea Blue (harropfj@eircom.ne)

BLUE HUMOUR

David Beckham is visiting a school. In one class, he asks the students if anyone can give him an example of a ‘tragedy’.

One little boy stands up and offers “that if my best friend who lives next door was playing in the street and a car came along and killed him that would be a tragedy.”

“No”, Beckham says “that would be an ACCIDENT.”

A girl raises her hand. “If a school bus carrying fifty children drove off a cliff, killing everyone involved… that would be a tragedy.”

“I’m afraid not,” explains Beckham. “That is what we would call a GREAT LOSS.”

The room is silent, none of the children volunteer. “What?” asks Beckham. “Isn’t there any one here who can give me an example of a tragedy?”

Finally a boy in the back raises his hand. In a timid voice, he says “If an aeroplane carrying David Beckham was blown up by a bomb, that would be a tragedy.”

“Wonderful,” Beckham beams. “Marvellous, and can you tell me WHY that would be a tragedy?”

“Well,” says the boy “because it wouldn’t be an accident and it certainly wouldn’t be a great loss.”


How many Man Utd supporters does it take to change a lightbulb? 3,000,000 – 1 to change the lightbulb, the rest to buy replica lightbulbs.

Keep the faith on Saturday.

CTID, Andy Howell (Andy.Howell@creditlyonnais.co.uk)

RESULTS

Recent results to 12 November 2000 inclusive.

12 November 2000

Chelsea               1 - 1  Leeds United
Liverpool             4 - 1  Coventry City

11 November 2000

Arsenal               0 - 0  Derby County
Aston Villa           2 - 0  Tottenham Hotspur
Bradford City         0 - 1  Everton
Ipswich Town          2 - 0  Charlton Athletic
Leicester City        1 - 1  Newcastle United
Manchester United     2 - 1  Middlesbrough
Sunderland            2 - 2  Southampton
West Ham United       4 - 1  Manchester City

League table to 12 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  13  6  1  0 24  4  3  2  1 11  6  9  3  1 35 10  25  30
 2 Arsenal         13  6  1  0 16  4  2  3  1  7  6  8  4  1 23 10  13  28
 3 Liverpool       13  6  1  0 16  6  1  2  3 11 13  7  3  3 27 19   8  24
 4 Leicester City  13  3  3  1  7  7  3  2  1  4  1  6  5  2 11  8   3  23
 5 Aston Villa     12  4  2  0 11  3  2  2  2  5  6  6  4  2 16  9   7  22
 6 Ipswich Town    13  3  3  1  9  6  3  0  3 10  8  6  3  4 19 14   5  21
 7 Newcastle Utd   13  3  1  2  7  5  3  1  3  7  7  6  2  5 14 12   2  20
 8 Leeds United    12  4  0  2 15 11  1  4  1  5  7  5  4  3 20 18   2  19
 9 Charlton Ath.   13  4  2  0 11  3  1  1  5  8 17  5  3  5 19 20  -1  18
10 Chelsea         13  4  2  1 19  8  0  3  3  6 10  4  5  4 25 18   7  17
11 Tottenham H.    13  5  1  0 12  5  0  1  6  5 15  5  2  6 17 20  -3  17
12 Sunderland      13  4  3  0  8  4  0  2  4  4 11  4  5  4 12 15  -3  17
13 West Ham United 13  2  3  2 10  8  1  3  2  7  7  3  6  4 17 15   2  15
14 Everton         13  1  2  3  7 10  3  1  3  8 10  4  3  6 15 20  -5  15
15 Southampton     13  2  1  3 10 12  1  4  2  7 12  3  5  5 17 24  -7  14
16 Manchester City 13  2  1  3  8  7  2  1  4  7 17  4  2  7 15 24  -9  14
17 Coventry City   13  1  1  4  4 11  2  1  4  9 17  3  2  8 13 28 -15  11
18 Middlesbrough   13  0  2  4  5 10  2  2  3 12 11  2  4  7 17 21  -4  10
19 Derby County    13  0  5  1  8 12  0  2  5  8 16  0  7  6 16 28 -12   7
20 Bradford City   13  1  3  3  4  6  0  1  5  1 14  1  4  8  5 20 -15   7

With thanks to Football 365

WWW MANCHESTER CITY SUPPORTERS’ HOME PAGE:
http://www.uit.no/mancity/


MCIVTA ADDRESSES:
Contributions: Ashley – mcivta@tollbar.u-net.com
News & Rumours: Peter – brophy_peter@hotmail.com
Subscriptions: Steve – sbolton@buxtonrd.u-net.com
Technical Problems: Paul – paul@city-fan.org


DISCLAIMER
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, mcivta@tollbar.u-net.com

Newsletter #658

2000/11/13

Editor:


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