Newsletter #659

The last issue before a match which many of us will have been keenly anticipating, whilst others will have been openly dreading it. If you were not able to secure a ticket, are too far away, or just can’t bear to be there in person, then this issue has plenty of info in worldwide venues where the potential pain may not be as tangible as in Manchester. Still, the potential joy is what it’s all about, and that will be all the more tangible in Moss Side!

This issue also has news on tickets for the reserve derby; news that we have in fact already won the derby – twice(!); and opinion. Whatever the outcome, match reports are required!

Keep the faith.

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


Part I – Manchester Derby Build-Up

City Seek to Reverse Recent Trend

Manchester City have won just one competitive match against Manchester United since February 1981. And Alex Ferguson’s side will start strong favourites to continue the Blues’ miserable recent record in the derby fixture when the teams meet at Maine Road on Saturday. City go into the match against the Premiership leaders in poor form, having lost their last three successive league games, scoring just once and conceding ten goals in the process. But Joe Royle’s men will be hoping that this will be the meeting when the fixture regains its traditional reputation for throwing up surprises, and the City boss feels that the passionate atmosphere of a match against the club’s greatest rivals offers his players the ideal opportunity to bounce back after recent disappointments. And the men Royle sends out to do battle in the televised morning kick-off will know they have the opportunity to write themselves into the City history books if they can overcome the odds to notch a famous victory.

McIlroy – City Can Shock Reds

Although he had a spell with City, Sammy McIlroy’s long Old Trafford service ensures he’ll always be remembered as a Manchester United player. But the Northern Ireland boss still wouldn’t be surprised if the Blues were to cause a derby upset on Saturday. McIlroy says that the frantic atmosphere generated by a heated Maine Road crowd will act as a spur to the Blues. And he feels that if City can hold their high-flying neighbours in the early period of the game, a shock could be on the cards. “Of course United will be red-hot favourites and rightly so,” acknowledged the ex-Macclesfield manager, “but in a two-horse race anything can happen and even red-hot favourites have an off day. It wouldn’t surprise me if City got a result because derbies can be so unpredictable.”

Goater Battling to be Fit for Derby

Shaun Goater has missed Manchester City’s last two games through injury. And the Bermudian front man is facing a race against the clock in his bid to lead the Blues’ attack against their fiercest rivals on Saturday. As an ex-United junior Goater will be desperate to make the starting line-up against the Reds. So if he fails to prove his fitness, it’ll be a source of great frustration for the 30-year-old – it appeared he had every chance of being selected ahead of Paulo Wanchope. The Costa Rican has had a gruelling trip to play for his country this week and in any case produced what Joe Royle saw as a sub-standard display in last Saturday’s clash against West Ham. Meanwhile, Royle will have to assess the rival claims of Paul Dickov, available again after suspension, and youngster Shaun Wright-Phillips, who impressed in the Upton Park defeat.

Ritchie Keen to Sample Derby Atmosphere

Paul Ritchie is keen to sample the special atmosphere of a Manchester derby. The Scotland star says that ever since his move to Maine Road, he’s been hearing about the passions a clash between City and United entails. Ritchie spent most of the week away with the Scotland squad for Wednesday’s friendly against Australia. But he’s been thinking ahead to the match awaiting him on his return from international duty – and is hoping he makes the Blues’ starting line-up after being substituted at West Ham last Saturday. “I’ve been told a Manchester derby is even bigger than a Glasgow derby which says something,” said the 25-year-old. “I played for Rangers against Celtic and also in an Edinburgh derby but the City-United game is one of the biggest derbies of them all. It’d be a dream come true for me to play on Saturday.”

United’s Injury Worries Easing

Earlier this week, it appeared that Manchester United might be forced to field a severely depleted team in Saturday’s Maine Road derby. But the Reds’ injury problems are less severe than had been thought a few days ago. United expect to have Ronny Johnsen fit for the game, with the Norwegian shaking off an ankle problem in time to face the Blues. Paul Scholes and Roy Keane are likely recover from the respective thigh and knee injuries which kept them out of their countries’ midweek friendlies, while Wes Brown may also be fit. The young defender was withdrawn from this week’s England squad and was expected to be absent for several weeks after damaging a knee in last week’s win over Middlesbrough. However, the injury is not as serious as first feared and the player is now rated as having a good chance of featuring in Saturday’s game. Andy Cole and Ryan Giggs will be sidelined for the Reds, along with long-term injury victim Jaap Stam.

Coton Blasts Lee and Ball

Ex-City star Tony Coton has already featured in the build-up to Saturday’s Manchester derby after admitting he advised England to overlook Nicky Weaver. And now the United goalkeeping coach has repeated his claims that he was forced out of Maine Road against his will. Coton was branded a traitor by many City fans after his £470,000 transfer to Old Trafford in January 1996. But the ex-Birmingham and Watford man says that he made the move reluctantly – and only after it was made abundantly clear to him that his days with the Blues were numbered. “Alan Ball and Francis Lee made it plain that I had no future at Maine Road,” he said. “It hurt me more than people would ever know that I knew I was never going to get back into City’s side. It was a bitter pill to swallow because I didn’t think I had done anything wrong.”

Massive Security Operation for Derby Game

Fears have been voiced that this Saturday’s Manchester derby game could be marred by crowd violence. And as a result, Greater Manchester Police will mount their biggest crowd control operation since Euro ’96 in a bid to contain potential trouble. Some reports have suggested that rival groups have used the Internet to organise pitched battles at selected locations, while there are also rumours that United fans are seeking to infiltrate areas of the stadium reserved for the home support. However, match commander Supt Andy Holt is confident that the security measures, which will be enforced by 400 officers, will prevent major disorder. “We expect a lot of passion to be shown by both sets of supporters,” he told the Manchester Evening News. “But we are also anticipating that elements from both clubs could potentially try and cause trouble before, during and after the match around Maine Road and in the city centre. We have planned a number of measures which are designed to both deter those who may be coming to the match with the sole intention of causing problems and reassure the rest of the public who will be in the city centre.”

Part II – Other News

City Deny Rumoured Murphy Bid

Thursday’s Mirror newspaper alleged that Joe Royle had made a £2 million bid for Danny Murphy. But the Blues have moved quickly to deny that they are on the verge of signing the Liverpool midfielder. It was claimed that Royle hoped to have the former England under-21 star in his line-up against United on Saturday, but the ex-Crewe player seems set to stay at Anfield, where, though not a regular, he is a valuable member of Gerard Houllier’s first-team squad. Meanwhile, other media sources continue to speculate that Paolo di Canio could be Maine Road-bound. The Italian scored a penalty against the Blues on Saturday, and City are said to be willing to pay £3 million for the 32-year-old. However, when the player was linked with Lazio last month, Hammers’ boss Harry Redknapp emphatically denied his star striker would be leaving Upton Park in the near future.

Rozental Leaves After Failed Trial

Sebastian Rozental arrived in Manchester for his trial with City this week. But the Chilean striker’s hopes of earning himself a future at Maine Road have been dashed after Joe Royle elected not to pursue his interest. Rozental’s career at Rangers has been disrupted by injury. But he had recently been on loan to Independiente of Argentina and the Glasgow giants were prepared to release him for another loan stint. However, in a behind-closed-doors practice match on Wednesday, the 24-year-old failed to convince Royle that he could be the answer to the Blues’ striking problems. “Seb is a fine player,” explained the City boss, “but he is not quite what we are looking for at the moment.”

Kennedy Escapes with a Warning

Mark Kennedy appeared in court in Dublin this week to face charges arising from his arrest in September. But a judge ruled that a criminal conviction would be too harsh for a relatively minor misdemeanour. Kennedy and Republic of Ireland colleague Phil Babb were charged with criminal damage, causing a breach of the peace and being drunk and disorderly following an incident when the pair were with the Irish squad ahead of a World Cup qualifier in Holland. To show contrition, Kennedy made a donation of around £3,800 to a children’s charity and will now be hoping to put the matter behind him. The ex-Liverpool and Wimbledon star has been omitted from Ireland’s squad for the last three internationals and will be keen to fight his way into Mick McCarthy’s plans.

Mixed Fortunes for International Contingent

Manchester City had five players on full international duty this week. And the City contingent returned to Maine Road having experienced contrasting fortunes. There was success for Danny Tiatto, who played for just over an hour of Australia’s 2-0 win in Scotland, and Richard Dunne, who featured for the full ninety minutes as Ireland beat Finland 3-0. But it was a less happy week for Paul Dickov, brought on in the second half in the Hampden Park game, and Paul Ritchie, who was on the Scottish bench throughout. And there was also bad news for Paulo Wanchope. His Costa Rican side now faces a World Cup qualifying play-off after a 2-1 defeat against Guatemala.

Fog Denies Weaver the Chance to Impress

Nicky Weaver was overlooked for the full England squad for this week’s friendly in Italy. And the City goalkeeper was denied the chance to press his claims in the under-21s’ fixture against the same opponents on Tuesday. Weaver was named in Howard Wilkinson’s team to face the Italians at Monza. But the game started in thick fog, and the referee called a halt to proceedings after only eleven minutes. The 21-year-old will have been disappointed not to have the opportunity to demonstrate his credentials for a place in the full squad ahead of David James, Richard Wright or Paul Robinson.

Black Cats Sink City Reserves

Manchester City reserves returned to competitive action this week after bad weather disrupted recent fixtures. But it was a disappointing result for the Blues’ second string as they went down 3-2 at home to Sunderland on Tuesday evening. The City side featured Tony Grant, who has returned from an injury lay-off and will be keen after recent transfer speculation to prove that he has a future at Maine Road. The line-up also included four transfer-listed players in Lee Crooks, Jim Whitley, Gary Mason and Gareth Taylor, who will all have been hoping to impress watching scouts. Taylor netted a penalty, while the other City goal came from Rhys Day in a game where the Blues scored first and last.

Wrangle Over Cooke Fee?

Sheffield Wednesday are said to be keen to sign Terry Cooke after the City player’s successful loan spell at Hillsborough. But the deal could still be scuppered by the Blues’ reported £1 million asking price for the ex-Manchester United junior. Wednesday are experiencing severe financial problems after their relegation from the Premiership. And boss Paul Jewell is reportedly ready to pay just £500,000 for the Birmingham-born star. Even though the player has recently indicated that he hopes to resurrect his City career, Joe Royle’s failure to bring the winger back to Maine Road despite the current lack of right-sided options seems to make this an unlikely prospect. So a compromise between the Blues and the South Yorkshire outfit over the transfer fee could be the best outcome for all parties – if Wednesday can find the cash.

Weaver’s Save of the Month Accolade

Nicky Weaver may have seen Paul Robinson edge ahead of him in the international reckoning this week. But the City goalkeeper gained a measure of revenge over his Leeds rival by coming out on top in TV’s online ‘Save of the Month’ poll for October. Weaver’s stop from Arsenal’s Patrick Vieira won 37% of the votes cast, easily beating off second-placed Robinson, whose save from Manchester United’s Paul Scholes attracted 21%. The City man has seen his erstwhile England under-21 deputy enjoy a meteoric rise since being called into the Elland Road senior side to deputise for the injured Nigel Martyn, but will hope that the latest accolade is a precursor to a reversal of that situation.

Royle Happy with Whitley’s Progress

Jeff Whitley’s display was rated by his manager as one of the few positive points the Blues could take from Saturday’s dismal second half at Upton Park. And Joe Royle reckons that the Northern Ireland star is beginning to show true Premiership quality. Whitley showed early promise after making his first-team début in a struggling City team at the age of 17. But the Zambian-born midfielder fell out of favour and was transfer listed after failing to impress Royle when the ex-Everton manager took over at Maine Road. However, a loan spell at Wrexham revitalised the 21-year-old’s career and the Blues’ boss now thinks the player has a bright future at the highest level. “Jeff’s all-round game has improved tremendously,” enthused Royle, “and I would say he is now an accomplished Premiership midfielder.”

Scally Fined for Play-Off Bet

Paul Scally this week saw the FA uphold his fine for breaking its betting rules. And one of the charges of which the governing body found the Gillingham chairman guilty arose from his club’s famous play off match against Manchester City. Among Scally’s bets in the 1998-9 season were a £5,000 wager on the Gills facing the Blues in the play-off final, with a further £1,000 placed on a 2-1 win for the Kent outfit. The fine of £10,000, plus a £13,000 costs penalty, is the highest ever imposed by the FA in a betting case.

Bolton Eyeing City Strike Pair?

Bolton Wanderers are reportedly looking to sign a new striker. And manager Sam Allardyce’s presence at City’s reserve game this week has led to the First Division club being linked with two Maine Road reserves. The Trotters have lost Isaiah Rankin, who has returned to Bradford after a loan spell. So news that Allardyce was watching the Blues’ second string has prompted talk that Bolton could make a move for either Danny Allsopp or Gareth Taylor. The transfer-listed Taylor seems destined never to play for the Blues’ senior side again, while Allsopp came on as a substitute for City’s first team at West Ham last Saturday but will be back down the pecking order if a new front man signs. The Australian is also said to be a loan target for Bury, having had temporary stints last season at Notts County and Wrexham before spending a month with Bristol Rovers this term.

Peter Brophy (


The kick-off is at 11:30am, and the game will be broadcast on Sky, with coverage starting at 11am (GMT).

Before the game, on Soccer AM, Noel Gallagher (City fan, ex-Oasis star) and Mani (Utd fan, ex-Stone Roses and Primal Scream) will be hosting Soccer AM. The programme starts at 8am (GMT), and will be mainly be featuring derby-related features.

The pubs around the ground will be shut before the game, there will be no alcohol allowed in the ground, and no bars will be open inside Maine Road on the day.

Several pubs in Manchester City Centre are not opening until 7pm on Saturday, although this is not an official announcement.

Also, we have so far been unable to find a company that produces inflatable prawns; if you know of one, please spread the word!

Let’s hope that the 5-1 is a record we can beat on Saturday!

Enjoy the game… wherever you watch it from!

The Lads (


God’s own club are scheduled to play Manchester United in the FA Premier Reserve league on Tuesday 5 December at Hyde. The match is all ticket and these are available to season ticket holders on presentation of voucher 3 at either the MCFC ticket store or Hyde United.

Tickets on open sale are £3 adult and £1 concessions from the usual outlets.

Heidi Pickup (


The County Wicklow Branch of the City Supporters’ Club has gone online. Our spanking new website is located at We would like to invite City fans from all over the world to swing by and sign our guestbook. The site has a links section, which is pretty good (if we don’t say so ourselves) and there is a fixtures page as well as some cool photos.

Francis Long (


I’ve just created a message board for supporters in New York. It’s nothing fancy but will hopefully have info about where to see games. Especially the Manchester derby. It’s at; strange address but best I could do. If this gets used I may create a New York Supporters Unofficial Website. Let me know.

Steve Clowes (


South Australian based Blues, in Adelaide, will be gathering at the Brompton Park Hotel, Coglin Street to watch the tragedy/miracle unfold on the big screen. All Blues and Blue sympathisers welcome.

Robert Lawrence (


Milton Keynes Branch will be meeting for this televised game at their usual venue – Halley’s Comet Pub, Bradville, Milton Keynes. Kick off is 11:30. All members and not-yet-members welcome!

Milton Keynes branch still have the proud record that City have never lost a game that we have met at this venue to watch – look forward to seeing you all on Saturday. Get in touch with me if you would like more information or directions etc.

Steve Maclean, Secretary – Milton Keynes Branch, MCFC Supporters’ Club (


Following a close recount of the ballots, and although some apparently wanted to go to Pat Buchanan’s house to watch it, Miami-Dade County Blues have elected Churchill’s Pub, 5501 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami as the venue for watching Saturday’s game, live at 6:30am. While a minority by number, we will at least undoubtedly be a majority as native English speakers.

P Duncan (


About twenty Singapore Blues will be gathering at Muddy Murphy’s (opposite Orchard Towers on Orchard Rd) for the big day. Kick off: 1930 hrs Saturday 18th November, Singapore time. Any Blues in the area are always welcome.

I’m now also Phil Neal (caretaker) of the list of Singapore Blues for the ISC, so anyone who wants to be added may contact me.

Toh Hsien Min (


UK Supporters’ Club’s Cup (UK Cup), Sunday 12th November, ‘Old Scotch-Waverly’ soccer ground Burwood, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Well we did it! for the first time in the 9 years City have entered a team in this competition, we were drawn to play against Manchester United. The round robin group section saw us drawn against Hibernian, Sunderland and Man United, the winner of the group to go straight into the semi-final. We had a very good turn out of players this year including one, Frank Tiatto who is Danny’s big brother.

First up was Hibernian; we cruised to a 3-0 victory. This was mainly down to Chris Malina who scored a hat trick but was disappointed to find he couldn’t keep the match ball! Next we were scheduled to play Sunderland but their team failed to materialise. It was decided that Man United would field a second team as they had a wealth of players. Their second team went under the title of Newton Heath. We actually played against Newton Heath about 3 years ago when United had fielded 2 teams once before. On that occasion we won 1-0 after a last minute penalty was saved by our ‘keeper David Chidlow (the guy who was later to compile the ‘city ’til I die’ book). So we played Newton Heath and won 3-1 with another 2 goals from Chris Malina and a superb strike from James Lancaster. So after beating United’s second string the omens were good for the main reason that so many players and supporters of the City team had turned up… the derby.

Well it was very hard fought as you can imagine but grit and determination won the day as City triumphed 2-1 with another goal from James Lancaster and a penalty from Colin Cooper. So City had beaten United twice and were through to the semi-final against Liverpool. Well I don’t know if the derby sapped the energy of the City players but they were slightly slower in the semi and eventually bowed out 0-2. The only talking point being that one of Liverpool’s goals was scored by ‘Jimoen’ who is a comedian with his own TV show in Australia.

There was disappointment after the game from the City camp but not that much, as any day where you beat United twice can’t be all bad can it? For those still interested, the cup was won by Nottingham Forest who beat Liverpool 1-0.

All the City fans who turned up played a vital part in the victories, whether they were scoring goals, saving goals from being scored, singing and shouting encouragement or just handing out the beer and cigarettes. Here is a list of all those guys in no particular order: Colin Cooper (1 goal, pen), Frank Tiatto (sent off 3 times), Tim Parnacott, Adrian Bates, Jack Hulse, Sebastian Harvey, Liam Gunning, James Lancaster (2 goals), Gerry McCorry, Chris Malina (5 goals), Paul Dallavalle, Bret Wells, Paul Sharp, John Durham (dad) and his 2 sons Nick and Miles, Danny Ward and Stewart Huxtable (both ex Cockney Blues). Danny’s young fella also made his début in a blue shirt. Last and most definitely least, the beer, cig’s and hangers on brigade, Bob Whelan, Paul Keelagher, Tim Berry and Pete McLoughlin. Apologies to anyone left out.

See you all next year at 5 minutes to kick-off for pre-season training and tactics – Paul Keelagher.

P.S. there seems to be split in the camp as to where to watch the derby game. Most are going to the Keepers Arms in North Melbourne. But there will also be quite a few going to Crown Casino. So take your pick. Wear your colours and say it once and say it loud “I am Blue and I am proud”.

Paul Keelagher (


The derby game will apparently be shown in the Trophies Bar at the Star City Casino, Darling Harbour, Sydney.

Foxtel start the show at 10pm with the game on at 10.30pm.

Car parking is available under the casino, costing $10 for 6 hours.

You can get there either by walking down Market Street in the city, across Pyrmont Bridge and turn right and follow the sound of money being lost or get the tram from either Central Station or China Town.

See you there, Bill Chapman (


Just a short note to let everyone know about a new City video available from 27th November – “The Maine Road to Glory”. I haven’t seen it publicised and came across it on the web by accident. I wonder why the club have kept this quiet?

The synopsis reads: “This is the official history of Man City, including interviews with Mike Summerbee, Dennis Tueart, Niall Quinn, Paul Dickov and Noel Gallagher… and action from Manchester derbys, past FA Cups, European Cups and Play Offs.”

The video is available for pre-ordering on Blackstar (£13.49 including free worldwide postage – the RRP is £14.99):

David Warburton (


This is an idea that I hope the people in charge of ticketing pricing at Maine Road will read and consider.

City are committed to keeping football for the real fans. This is what the club says and I have seen the Chairman say it to my face. It is backed up in fact. We do not sell out all our home tickets as season tickets, allowing those fans unable to attend every home game to attend as often as their finances afford. Our ticket prices are relatively cheap compared to most in the Premier League. We also keep our away ticket prices cheap.

Some of the ticket prices we are forced to pay as away fans are, in my opinion and especially this season, unjustifiable. My idea is an attempt to highlight this problem to the clubs that are guilty of this sharp practice.

For next season, and assuming we are still in ver Premiership, I would like to see City adopt an experiment in pricing for away fans at Maine Road. Where the club feels that our away fans have been overcharged this season, we retaliate and over-charge these clubs when they come to Maine Road the next season.

Let’s say that if, last season, East Beef United charged City fans twice what City charged East Beef’s fans this season, we return the favour the following year. We also print the reason why we have done this on the ticket. Where, say, Hilary Football Club only gave City one hundred OAP/Junior tickets, we do the same to Hilary FC.

To negate accusations of profiteering, the extra money generated from this practice could be given direct to charity or fed back into some non-profit, football-related authority.

The hard part is deciding when a club is over-pricing. Off the top of my head, a good system would be where a club charges 25% above the average home ticket price; the 25% figure is possibly fair when you consider the extra cost of policing away fans. Also, any restrictions they put on reduced ticket prices are returned in kind.

I can see arguments against this, the major one being that it would hurt the real fans and not the football club, but I feel it would make a statement about keeping ticket prices low where there is a sense of fair play.

I think it’s a starter of an idea. As long as City were open about this policy, the moral argument would be strong in our favour. I admit that morals are not football’s strong point in this day and age but if we want to be proactive in keeping football for the real fans, we have to start somewhere.

I even think the Swamp dwellers across the road might be interested in such a policy seeing as they are relatively fair-minded in this respect. They must be looking for something to do on these lines, given recent PR(awn) disasters.

Unless we stuff them 5-0 at the weekend, that is!

Any thoughts, folks?

James Nash (


Working in Salford and driving through Manchester every day it is hard to divorce yourself from this weekend’s game, though at my advancing years I try to be adult and “laid-back” about it all.

Unlike last season’s game against Birmingham when I think every City fan probably felt sick all day just waiting for kick-off. That was a long day trying to focus on debits and credits when your mind was flooded, one moment with potential ecstasy and the next with possible anguish.

So this weekend is no big deal is it? We need some points more than we need to “put one over” the Reds. Rather lose this game and get 9 points from the next three games – I tell myself.

Driving through Fallowfield on Wednesday thinking of the day’s chores. There’s the Toast Rack – Oh sh*t 11.30 kick-off (what sort of time is that to start a football match?). No pre-match 3 pints in the “Whitty” that day to cushion us against the Slings and Arrows of… better park near the Toast Rack and walk through Platt Fields. Oh look, there’s the Kippax mistily outlined behind Holy Trinity church.

Traffic stops, think about work not derby days past. Thirteen years old, scarf, bob-hat, rattle sitting on the perimeter in front of the old Kippax, FA Cup 1956. Evening game sometime in the 60’s, both teams needing points to avoid relegation. After work, in the Town Hall Tavern, then bus from Stevenson Square to Lloyd Street.

Hoot, hoot! Oh sh*t, some w****r in a BMW cutting me up driving down a bus lane. That’s woken me up. “PRAT” – bet you’re a f*****g Prawn Sandwich.

Going to the bank at 2.00pm, Key 103 on the radio. There’s a surprise, the sh*t’s injury problems are clearing up – weren’t they always going to! Just sit in the car park for City news. Oh no! – no news – what about our strikers, are they fit, who’ll play? That’s what I want to hear, not blo*dy Gabrielle, at least she’s not rising again.

Right forget it, talk about Month-End, Christmas – you want which day off John, sorry I was miles away, of course you can. That’s better, football has retreated and more important matters are back in focus.

17.45 and going home, stop start, stop start, down Trafford Road near White City and there it is: The Red Mausoleum towering above my windscreen – Can I see the bl**dy place laughing at me? Just wait – “And Dickov’s just scored a 94th minute winner and Maine Road goes delirious” – and you weren’t even there to complain Fergie!

Richard Cooper via Andy Noise (


I was surprised to see little comment in the previous MCIVTA, on Peter Taylor ignoring Weaver for the England squad. Whilst Paul Robinson is undoubtedly another good up and coming English goalie, Nicky has been doing for two seasons what Robinson has done for two weeks. Wonder what he did to upset Taylor?

Jeremy Poynton (


So nice to see that we City fans have retained our consistency. Every time a bad run starts we start sniping at each other. Come on, let’s get behind the team and what they are trying to do. The slide is worrying, but it’s as good a start as most would secretly admit to. The important thing is we don’t get dragged into a bottom three, loads of points to make up situation. Now, more than ever is when we should get behind them to try to prevent it happening, rather than say “Told you so” after we have helped destroy confidence.

Maybe too many people really did think we would take the Premiership by storm… What, like we did the Second and First divisions? No, it’s all part of the rebuilding. This season is no different, only there’s no promotion at the end of it.

Having been holier than thou I would still agree with most comments this issue, and as I said after the Leicester game, we need some seriously good midfielders (please exclude Jeff Whitley from that because he continues to be a revelation this season – we need a ball player). But in the meantime please get behind the ones we have got.

Please excuse me whilst I put the soap-box back in the cupboard… that’s all… better now.

David Kilroy (


Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, I have been forced once again to make a contribution because of the complete rubbish uttered by Vanes Marzaroli. I don’t know who to blame either, things go wrong, players get sent off, players get injured, players get left on the bench who may have changed the game. Apart from leaving players on the bench, the manager cannot be blamed so no way am I blaming the manager but someone has to take the rap, so what does Vanes do? Blame George the traitor, this greedy man long past his sell by date, who had not the interest of City at heart and walked out cause he was left on the bench. But if George was greedy, would it not be easier to sit on his a*se and collect his £23k a week? George was also not proud to wear the City jersey, I never saw a player who took so much pride and pleasure when we defeated the Gills. George was also accused of not being match fit and one reason for him being likened to a judge; there was nothing wrong with his stamina in the war of attrition against the Gills. Someone also pointed out that we had trouble signing players and strangely doesn’t think Alfie is up for it. I’m baffled – the only reason I bring this up is the fact that I believe that Weah’s signing convinced other players to sign and things started to look up after a quiet summer break and that Wanchope’s dip in consistency and lack of commitment coincided with Weah’s walkout. As I say, who is to blame no one knows but Vanes read this and tell me in your heart that you still think George was treacherous.

John McFarlane (


A link to a striker that demonstrates either the impressive memory of Joe and the coaching staff or the player’s agent’s desire to end Seb’s Ibrox nightmare.

As an exile in Glasgow I’ve seen the lad play on one or two occasions although not often enough due to his ever recurring knee problems. He’s an excellent ball player and on his day will twist and turn past everything, though he does tend to forget that there are nine other outfield players wearing the same shirt.

Not the greatest in the air I’m afraid and certainly not the quickest around, but his skills do go some way to compensate for this. He does have the uncanny ability to find the telling pass when he’s playing well; unfortunately that’s just not been often enough in recent years.

IF he is fit and IF we can get him for circa £2 million then he may be a bit of a bargain. He is relatively young and is a talented player but he would represent a gamble on Joe’s part and could turn out to be a luxury we can’t afford in our first season back. Also his international commitments may be a stumbling block to any possible deal.

I’d pick him up on loan for a couple of months and see how he fits in with the team before I’d part with any cash but I’m sure Joe’s already thought of this option.

Incidentally, read on Teletext that Derby are having a clear out of surplus to requirement players including Dean Sturridge and Lars Bohenin. Not a long-term solution but Sturridge would do as cover for a couple of months whilst the Goat recovers fully and I don’t remember Bohenin being that bad a central midfielder for club or country either. Don’t know his age but I assume the emergence of Seth Johnson has kept him out recently and if he’s fit he could represent a good bit of business at the right price.

I’ll be in the “Grove Bar” just off Sauciehall Street towards the West End of Glasgow for the derby if anyone wants to join me. Guinness at £1.61 and Miller on special at £1.35. No football shirts allowed I’m afraid, just look for the man in the scarf.

CTID, Peter Blyth (


So… I mused as I read the Mirror in the IKEA coffee bar this morning whilst the wife went off in search of a plastic shower curtain, Robbie Keane is finding it hard to get in the squad with Inter… hope JR’s reading this. I liked Keane from the first time I saw him (last season, for Wolves, scored) but his rise was meteoric and he rocketed straight past City at the time. Perhaps it’s time he came back, and what better Premiership club to come to? So what if he’s too expensive? Alan Hansen, no less, in the Radio Times, no less, says we’ve got to speculate to accumulate, and who cares if his contract with Inter isn’t up until June 2005, George Weah can tell you about contracts! He’s certainly worth enquiring about – Have a go, Joe, have a go!

Graeme Nicholson (


Is any one else worried? First Weah leaves, now Joe has a bust up with Wanchope, we could be fielding the shortest City strikeforce since Inchy was at the club against the Rags! I must apologise for not putting in a match report for the Leicester match but the bad weather and the partaking in Doves home concert at the Ritz, Manchester (was that really Gerard Wiekens behind me?) means that I had been delayed in my return. What struck me at Leicester was the feeling that was coming out in this week’s MCIVTA, namely that the team are no longer a team. We’ve lost the ability we had last season to work for each other and I do think it is down to all the new faces at the club – was it no surprise that a homegrown talent should steal the show against West Ham? Let’s look at Joe’s buys: Wanchope – frustrating but what did we expect? Howey – the only real quality in our defence. Haaland – not only does he look like Wiekens, but he plays like him and they both don’t work in the same team. Dunne – who knows, a lot of money; couldn’t Joe have nipped down Debenhams and bought a nice electric blanket and it would have done a similar job. Charvet – how slow, we wuz conned, mind he does have the same problem as Edghill in that he has the whole of the right side of the pitch to cover. Ritchie – now I’ve never rated him, he always seems to get caught out of position as I don’t feel left-back is his best position.

To add further comment to the Leicester match: 1) We lacked any supply so wonder Wanchope looks cheesed off. 2) Did anyone else notice Weaver’s problems with setting up the defensive wall for a free-kick? It was only due to pushing and shoving on the far post and the intervention of the ref that allowed Weaver to finally get his wall sorted. The look on Weaver’s face was something along the lines of ‘sod this I can’t be ar*ed if nobody pays any attention to me.’

I now see that Cooke is back on form so get him called back – sod his disagreement with Joe we are beginning to run out of options – it could save us a fortune in transfer fees.

BTW – note for Joe Royle I see that Uncle Festa is on the market so let’s add another centre-half as we seem a bit short on cover in that area.

CTID – I’m getting very very worried, James Walsh (


I come from sweden and went to the game at Upton Park with some West Ham fans. I must say that the stamina of the City fans was super, even when things “turned around a bit”. We sat in the corner next to City and I must say that we were louder even when in the second half… good work! Play Wright-Philips every game- if everyone would have played with his intensity, it would have been 8-0 to us. Is there anyone that thinks like me that Burchill and Clinton Morrison would be of interest for City?! Two players I really like – both on the transfer list as of today. All the best from Fredrik in Sweden.

Fredrik Teurnell-Charlez (


If there are any City fans watching the game on Saturday down a local can you contact me so that i can join you?

Mark Bidmead (


I am in Southampton this weekend. Any Blues watching the game in a suitable pub that will not be rammed full of Rags – please give us a shout – I’ll get the first round.

Matthew Knowles (


Dear anyone,

I am desperate to get hold of 2 tickets to any home game before the end of the season for my boyfriend Woody who has been a City supporter since the age of 4 (he is now 34). Because we live in London, tickets to any match here are impossible to get (Chelsea, Arsenal, West Ham etc.). So expensive!

I would really like to surprise him by getting hold of just 2 tickets to any home or London game as a Christmas/birthday present. Can anyone out there help?

Thanks, Heidi Stickland – Girlfriend of miserable City supporter (


Topi, if you read this can you please mail me at As you know I have recently changed jobs but have lost your e-mail address in the process!

Dan Bowen (


I’d like to make a request for a City programme that someone may no longer want. It’s for City vs. Crystal Palace 64-65 season. The reason I want this particular programme is because it was the first ever visit to Maine Road with my late dad. I used to have the programme but gave my entire collection to my young nephew several years ago. I am willing to pay for the programme and postage, but no stupid prices!

Waiting in anticipation.

P.S. On the needs for a quality midfielder… how about the out of favour Celtic midfielder, Eyal Berkovic? He seems to be a quality player with vision and pace that we are sadly lacking at the moment. Maybe we could get him on loan until the current transfer situation is sorted out?

Roy Grindrod (


In my recent Why Blue, I made a mistake in my E-mail address. Some of the people I was looking for may have tried to send me an E-mail without success.

I was looking for Alan Carhart, Ken and Alan Doodson or Steve Brewer. Also Phil Durbin.

Steven Davies (


Can anyone out there let me know the title of Ian Bishop’s children’s book and also where I can buy it. Thanks.

Elaine Taylor (


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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 #659