Newsletter #662

The faithful were treated to an entertaining spectacle of fast, flowing football and clinical finishing on Saturday – unfortunately it was provided by Ipswich Town! Even without the benefit of hindsight, a teamsheet lacking Tiatto, Wanchope and especially Whitley, did not bode well. JR chose this game to try a new ‘offensive’ formation which was okay in theory, but in practice meant that no-one appeared to know who was responsible for what/whom. Charvet in particular appeared to have the job of marking three players down Ipswich’s left, whilst the boys in the middle of the defence appeared not to want to mark anyone at all! The most worrying aspect of this was the fact that it took nearly three-quarters of the game before things were put right (i.e. back to the way we were). The one bright spot was SWP, who treated us to some frighteningly good impersonations of a certain Georgian maestro. Let’s hope this is a lesson learned, and that we can get back on the rails on Wednesday.

This issue has three match reports; news from Geoff Donkin; the return of Cathal; an article on Uwe Rösler’s visit to the Winchester branch of the CSA; opinion; and a Why Blue from Steve Parish.

Next game: Wimbledon at home, Wednesday 29th November 2000 (Worthington Cup)


Jekyll and Hyde Again

After raising their game for the derby, the Blues turned in a disappointing display to lose their 5th home game of the season and the third on the trot. JR described the defending as “a joke” after they lost 3-2 to Ipswich. He admitted taking a risk by fielding an attacking team but he claims he could not be blamed for his team’s poor defending, which was at fault for all three Ipswich goals as Marcus Stewart scored twice and Hermann Hreidarsson once, as George Burley’s side raced into a 3-0 lead. A late rally saw Paulo Wanchope and Steve Howey score to give the scoreline some respectability, but this does not mask the fact that we were second best to Ipswich who hit the woodwork twice in the closing stages as City pressed for an equaliser.

“We must start defending properly. Defensively that was a joke really. In the first half we were strangers and I would take the blame for that because I picked an overly offensive side to try and get amongst the goals because we have looked shot shy. But in doing that I probably left us a little bit vulnerable in one or two areas, but I had nothing to do with the two goals we gave away. Two free headers at this level is just ridiculous. We’ve got to stop giving daft goals away and the third one was just bizarre. They’re all saying it was offside, but whether it was or not, somebody should have got back and made an attempt to stop the lad scoring. Then there was the late rally and I think our three substitutes made us better and give us better balance and at the end we were looking for an equaliser.” With City staying out of the drop zone thanks only to the worse form of those below them, Joe went on to say “We’ve now lost our last five. Four of them have been against the top four, but we need to get out of this quickly.”

The win was Ipswich’s 5th away from home and lifted them to third, a Champions’ League spot, but manager George Burley refused to get carried away. “The league table means nothing at the moment,” he said. “It’s where you finish that counts. We’re very pleased to be doing so well and I thought for 70 minutes we were awesome at times. For 70 minutes today that was as well as we’ve played away from home this season. We played some great stuff, created chances, moved it well, closed down Manchester City very quickly, stopped them getting forward. But all credit to Manchester City, they battled away well, got a deflected goal, the crowd got behind them and we had to battle right to the end. That’s our fifth victory away from home and I could not have asked for any more.”

There was some controversy about Ipswich’s third goal and they did not stop the game even though Ian Bishop lay injured in their half, but Burley felt this had been an honest mistake and Royle claimed he had no complaint. Burley said: “It was a tackle 50/50 and we’ve won the ball and our players just went on playing. They weren’t aware that Bishop was down on the ground because they weren’t going to stop and look back. I think Joe appreciates that.”

It’s stating the obvious to say we need to break this run, but the really worrying thing is the report I read today that suggested the spirit that had largely seen us pull through the difficult times in recent years was missing yesterday. With games against Wimbledon (who’ve won 6 games away from home this season) and Chelsea to come this week, it’s not going to be easy.

Squad Pruning

Joe’s well publicised efforts to find a striker and/or midfielder (depending on who you believe) may well be redoubled this week in view of Saturday’s performance (but no defenders please Joe!), and a number of loan moves for City players may well be on the verge of becoming permanent moves according to the Sunday nationals.

Edgy played 53 minutes of Birmingham’s 2-1 win over Huddersfield yesterday and has reportedly made an impressive start to his loan spell at St. Andrews. Terry Cooke again played the full 90 minutes for Sheffield Wednesday but was unable to prevent them from slipping to a 1-0 defeat against Crewe, but this week looks like being decision time for the Owls – can they afford the £500,000 or so that City are allegedly willing to accept or will their financial problems stop them finding even that cut price fee? Danny Granville and Andy Morrison played the full 90 minutes for both Norwich and Palace respectively whilst Danny Allsopp made an impressive ‘second début’ for Notts County scoring a brace in their 3-2 win at Oxford. Whilst the jury may be out on Morrison and Granville, Danny seems to have all but clinched a move that he’s keen to make to give him first team footy, a fee of £350,000 having already been agreed (a profit on that one at least then). Gareth Taylor, Lee Crooks, Tony Grant, Jim Whitley and Gary Mason are all up for grabs and have been impressive in the reserves so far but of those only Gareth and ‘Tony Tramp’ have been the subject of rumoured moves. A clear out will help us see the wood for the trees even if it’s not altogether a condition of any further moves into the transfer market.

So Who Is Joe After?

There was a time that City managers seemed to do their transfer business wearing their heart on their sleeve, but no longer. The club these days gives little away before the deal’s in the bag e.g. Weah, Howey, but that doesn’t stop the speculation. Eidur Gudjohnsen continues to be the man most persistently linked with the Blues, but with Tore Andre Flo (remember that story?) gone to Rangers, it’s unlikely that Chelsea will leave themselves short of cover, even though Eidur’s only been a bit player in Chelsea’s far from impressive start. City have allegedly made one enquiry about him, but Chelsea seem to want to make a substantial profit on the £4.5 million they paid for him this summer.

One man who would seem to fancy a move to Manchester (as opposed to Salford :-)) is Ipswich’s David Johnson. He issued a “come and get me” plea to Joe, telling the Sunday Pink that he would love a move back to the Manchester area and would jump at the chance of joining the Blues. The 24 year old was a prolific scorer for Ipswich in Division One following his £1 million move from Bury, however Johnson has had limited opportunity to shine this season, finding himself behind Marcus Stewart, Richard Naylor and James Scowcroft in the Portman Road pecking order. Both players were prominent in the 1st Division, but you have to wonder if they’re not good to play regularly for their respective clubs, do we want them? Then again, players who are playing for their 1st teams are even harder to prise away, yet City have distanced themselves from stories about bids for two such players – Les Ferdinand and Chris Armstrong depending on which version of the story you believe. David Bernstein admitted on Friday that City had been interested in Ferdinand over the summer but said no transfer deal was likely at present. But a Sunday tabloid says the Blues attempted instead last week to sign Armstrong – a man who interested Joe Royle in his Everton days. It’s now said that neither man is for sale, with George Graham keen to keep all of his main strikers at White Hart Lane. With Ferdinand scoring a hat-trick against the same Leicester team that City struggled to break down, you have to wonder, don’t you?

England Youth Call-Ups

Three of City’s Youth Academy starlets have been called up to the England U15 squad ahead of the Victory Shield clash with Scotland at Chester on Friday night. Defender Shaun Cartwright is joined in the squad by strikers Lee Croft and Dorryll Proffitt; although Dorryll and Lee are both only 15 they regularly figure in City’s U17 side, whilst Shaun has made the squad at the tender age of 14. Academy Director Jim Cassell is said to be thrilled by the call-ups which brings the total number of Academy players who’ve received international recognition to 22. Nice to see the youth system back in rude health after years of decline.

Geoff Donkin (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. IPSWICH TOWN, Saturday 25th November 2000

Last week, we matched the league leaders for 88 minutes, so I started this match confident that we would get it together and give the Suffolk men a demonstration of real Premiership football. When I feel like this, I put money on a 3-0 scoreline with a sidebet on 3-1. I can recommend this combination of bets since (a) you get good odds – 20-1 on each on Saturday (b) the bet stays alive until they score two or we score four, which usually takes a fair part of the game (c) Joe seems to regard three as enough, so we tend to ease off when we get to 3-0 (I’m going back a bit here, you understand).

I guess the first feeling of unease set in when I saw the starting lineup. We were playing Weaver, Haaland, Howey, Prior, Dunne, Bishop, Charvet, SWP, Goater, Dickov and Kennedy. Now, I don’t really claim to understand formations, but on this occasion I don’t think anyone else did either. I think it was 3-3-2-2, except that that doesn’t sound like a real formation. Maybe it was 3-5-2, which is a real one, but don’t ask me exactly which the 2 were. Most perplexing was Tiatto’s place on the bench. Was he still nursing the bruises? Or was this just an attempt to keep his disciplinary points down?

However, this needn’t have mattered, because Ipswich were (very sportingly) fielding almost exactly the same team that they had deployed in the First Division. So, I knew that my 3-0 bet was safe even as they enthusiastically piled into us. I started to feel nervous when the first evidence of their tactical cunning was shown within the first three minutes. We won a free kick about 30 yards out. The scheming Ipswich men adopted a trick of putting five men in a row between the ball and the goal! Perplexed by the way this “wall” prevented a clear shot at goal, Bishop simply kicked the ball straight at them.

Within five more minutes I was glad of the 3-1 side bet. We’d had most of the possession up to then, but a very nice cross from Jamie Clapham on the left was headed in by Marcus Stewart. The Ipswich fans – who had brought a good and vociferous support considering they’re a small town halfway to Copenhagen – started chanting “one-nil to the tractor boys”. Without wanting to give the plot away, we were to hear a few more variants on this one before the end of the day.

It was about this time that our play slipped from mediocre to dismal. It was one of those games where Kennedy gets a good deal of possession and repeatedly fails to do anything with it. Of course it’s easy from up in Main Stand, but he seemed to show a repeated tendency to linger when a quick one-touch move was available, to shoot when he should pass and to pass when he should shoot. Bishop, if anything, was worse. I can’t remember when he last had a taste of first-half football, but it clearly doesn’t suit him. Against United, he reminded me of a world-class squash player, retrieving the ball with scarcely a step from the middle of the court, to redistribute it brilliantly to some far corner of play. This week, he kept thwacking it into the tin. We had chances – Goater having a reflex toepoke saved by Wright – but it just wasn’t coming together.

My tenner finally reached Ladbroke’s P&L account on the half hour, when Hreidarsson headed in a corner. Like everyone else, I’d been infuriated by Neville’s slur “after we’d silenced the crowd”: Spice Boy’s goal had shut us up for about 20 seconds, no more. This time, we really were silent. “Two-nil to the tractor boys” echoed round a stunned arena. But, hell, we’re not known as the best fans in the country for nothing. Within minutes, the air was filled with the traditional City songs “You’re rubbish!”, “What the hell was that?” and – on the half-time whistle – the elegiac, timeless “booooooh!”

On the restart, Tiatto came on for RMS Dunne; to be honest, I hadn’t really twigged that he was playing, and I don’t think I’d know him again. Straight away, SWP – already the only star in a grey sky – put together a great kinky run to set up Goater, whose usually infallible shin sliced wide. Five minutes later, Ipswich won a free kick thirty yards out; we showed them how these things should be defended, putting together a three-man wall reminiscent of a Turkish holiday hotel. Oh yes lads, when you get promoted, the thing to do is to replace your entire defence, that’s the way to do it.

It got worse. On 12 minutes, Bishop attempts tackle by sliding in slowly with his eyes shut. Ipswich boot reaches ball, ball travels forty yards, Ipswich boot reaches Ian’s thigh. Ian moans, crowd whistles. Ref looks at Ian, thinks “serves the pansy right”, crowd whistles louder. City defence look at referee. Clapham crosses to Stewart, City defence look at linesman, time stops. Weaver falls over, grass grows, Stewart walks round Weaver, Stewart idly kicks ball into net. Time restarts, brain won’t. Awoken by loud chorus of “three-nil to the tractor men!” Check betting slip to see if backed “3-0 Ipswich” by mistake.

At this point, Royle looks at the bench for Bishop to come on and bring some sanity, discipline and imagination to the proceedings. To his horror, Ian’s seat is occupied by back-pass specialist Gerard Wiekens; Bishop is hobbling round the pitch vainly appealing for someone to pass to him. Joe instead has to bring on Wanchope and Whitley for Goater and Dickov.

Now, I might have been cynical up to now, but this substitution really worked. If Joe has really worked out how to switch the Paolo magic on and off, then this result will have been worth the misery. Almost immediately, Paolo shot over, looking involved and committed. On the half hour, he received the ball in the D. Foolishly, he lingered on it, failed to see Kennedy outside him, overelaborated, took on too many men, and scored out of nothing. A quick check of the watch and calculator showed that one every seven minutes would win us the game; we did better against Blackburn and Gillingham. Wanchope passed to SWP, SWP beat five men, passed back to Wanchope. The team were up for it again, we were up for it. Tiatto, on a scorching run towards the corner flag, was brought down. Ipswich complained and the kick was moved ten yards forward. Kennedy chipped in, Howey headed home. For some reason, we didn’t hear “three-two to the tractormen”.

At the other end, the pace was hotting up too as we committed to attack. Going for his hat-trick, Stewart hit the bar; the ricochet hit Nicky’s back; Nicky showed great awareness to turn and smother it as it trickled towards the line. I’m sure Richard Wright scored an own goal recently in the same way; maybe Nicky’s England future – which was looking rather dodgy in the middle of the half – is safe again.

We didn’t deserve a happy ending, and we didn’t get it, despite a frantic few minutes. Joe came as close as he’ll get to blaming himself; he was adamant that the defence was poor, but since he’d personally chosen and bought the lot of them within the last few weeks, this didn’t deflect the responsibility very far. GMR and Five Live both had nutters demanding that Royle go, both rather short of alternative ideas. Voices of reason reminded us (in case we’d forgotten) that sacking the manager after every defeat had got City into the Second Division; most of them also reminded us that we’d been there when Royle took over, a rewriting of history that another Uncle Joe would rather have admired.

My view? Ipswich were the best side I’ve seen at Maine Road this season, the Rags included. No flash, no stars: just eleven well organised, disciplined, committed guys who’ve been through a lot together. We’ve already got squad numbers going up to 40. Let’s not dilute our promotion-winning team any further with increasingly desperate calls for more “quality”. Let’s calm down, back to the training ground, and be ready to teach Ranieri the word “teamwork”.

Oh, and start with Tiatto not Bishop. Please?

Dorien James (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. IPSWICH TOWN, Saturday 25th November 2000

This match (or at least the first 70 minutes or so) presented me with a series of vivid ‘déjà vu’ type experiences. And none of them were pleasant. A team with players horribly out of position. A ‘shape’ that I couldn’t fathom – neither could the players. A Goat shinning decent opportunities wide. A right back constantly exposed and making air shots. Boos cast into the Maine Road ether. A diminutive player head and shoulders above his team mates whom the crowd were pinning all their forlorn hopes…

City started with a line-up which I guess was supposed to be 3-4-1-2, with Weaver in goal, Prior, Howey and Dunne as centre backs, Charvet and Kennedy as wing backs, Haaland and Bishop in central midfield, SWP playing ‘in the hole’ behind Dickov and Goater. I say that this was the supposed line up, but I could be wrong as certainly the players didn’t seem to adopt this shape for any length of time. Kennedy as we know is a winger full stop. If he covers his full back twice in a game it’s a bonus. His game is getting forward and getting crosses in and not running the line. Partly as a result of this, Dunne (a right-footed centre back remember) was effectively playing left back. When I say ‘effectively’, I don’t mean he was any good at it! He was hopeless; unable to get forward, unable to pass any more than 5 feet, uncomfortable when a player ran at him. Like the ‘domino effect’, Kennedy’s and Dunne’s limitations affected the rest of the team and that for most of the first half, Haaland was forced to effectively drop into defence to cover (for a description of ‘effectively’, see above).

Haaland’s absence from midfield left Bishop, supported where possible by SWP, to chase, harry and tackle Ipswich’s impressive Holland, Magilton and Wright as well as trying to create our own attacking moves. He didn’t. Switching to the right hand side, Charvet (who is heading for ‘Edghill-like’ cult status, if you see what I mean) looked at odds with his wing-back position. He pushed up manfully but was slow getting back, which was particularly evidenced by the manner of Ipswich’s first goal, it being created by the impressive Jamie Clapham for Stewart to score with a diving header. To be fair to Charvet, he was exposed in 2 or 3 one-on-one situations on several occasions and at one point cast a despairing look in the direction of his defensive team mates who had retreated to the 6-yard box. Prior and Howey were ‘OK’, but were woefully missing for Ipswich’s 2nd and 3rd goals. SWP as suggested, was the only bright spark until the second half substitutions. But as impressive as he was, you couldn’t help but compare and contrast his quality play with yesteryear’s many Kinkladze mazy runs or defence splitting passes that were not anticipated by his team mates.

Dickov ran about a lot as usual but seems to have already had his early season scoring spree. Perhaps we should put him into storage until March now. The Goat looked sharper but still isn’t quite ‘there’ yet. One decent shot that was well saved and a heartbreaking ‘shin’ following an amazing SWP run right at the beginning of the second half were his main contributions. Ipswich’s first goal was scored after 9 minutes, Goater’s shot came after about 25 minutes. 5 minutes later Hreidersson scored with a free header following a succession of Ipswich corners. We were truly, truly awful in the first half. The worst since the bad old Frank Clark days in my opinion.

At the start of the second half, Tiatto resumed his left back berth in place of Dunne, with the team finally seeming to have some shape. From the kick-off, SWP embarked on that incredible run to the edge of the Ipswich box, firing in a cross for Goater, who unfortunately couldn’t control and the chance was gone. Haaland was very much ‘back’ in midfield and Tiatto got forward more in the first 2 minutes than Dunne had done in the whole first half. For the first time we put Ipswich under some sustained pressure but the final ball just wouldn’t come. Almost inevitably I suppose, following a failed attack during which Bishop was left pole-axed deep inside the Ipswich half, the Tractormen scored their 3rd, with our defence standing stock still looking for either an offside or for Ipswich to kick the ball out. Neither came and we were 3-0 down after 53 minutes.

And then it happened, the final 2 pieces of the jigsaw were dispatched into play, Whitley and Wanchope replacing Goater and Dickov. The team now: Weaver, Charvet, Prior, Howey, Tiatto, Whitley, Haaland, Bishop, Kennedy and Wanchope with SWP alternating between a second striker and right winger rôle, had shape and purpose. Not necessarily my or anyone else’s first choice line up, but certainly 10 times better than with what we started. From here on we made a game of it, scored twice, could have scored a couple more. Yes Ipswich hit the woodwork twice but the final 20 minutes proved that we weren’t a million miles behind Ipswich in skill or application when we played a ‘proper’ formation. Wanchope had his best game for several weeks, holding the ball up, twisting and turning and scoring a cracking goal. Howey scored our second from a Kennedy free kick with 10 minutes or so to go. An equaliser frankly would have been tough on Ipswich, who over the whole game were by far the superior side. It might stick in the throat, but Ipswich are the team we need to try to emulate. They play great football, defend properly, create chances and have a pretty settled side/formation. And they’re 3rd in the League!

Despite the first half performance, despite a fifth defeat, despite the worrying tactics employed by JR, I feel (hope!?) that this match may prove to be a turning point. JR has admitted that he cocked up the team selection – if he hadn’t I’d be more worried. I therefore don’t think that we’ll see a line-up like that again. The emergence of Shaun Wright-Phillips also gives comfort and is surely the answer to our long-term, right-side problem, which for me is his best position. Wanchope showed enough in 20 minutes to suggest that he might be back to fitness and form and I would like to see him have a few games with Goater in tandem. Finally (although I accept I’m getting into the realms of the bizarre), I can’t help but see some comparisons with our Division 2 campaign. Although we didn’t have a losing run like this, we were going nowhere then, following a particularly morale sapping defeat at York, we ‘clicked’ and never looked back. I’m hoping that this game is the same sort of watershed and that we can say for us, the League season starts next Sunday against erm… Chelsea.

Keep the faith, Phil Hartley (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. IPSWICH TOWN, Saturday 25th November 2000

Before I start a report I need to correct a commonly held incorrect belief about our cousins from East Anglia. As a race they don’t farm sheep, OK? It just isn’t fair to them to call them a bunch of sheep farmers (or some such similar epithet). It also wouldn’t be fair to insinuate that any members of the Ipswich travelling support – or players – were even distantly related to our ovine friends (that’s sheep to you). I mean, there’s only so much land in East Anglia and they’d have to displace a fair few thousand pigs and chickens before they could find somewhere for woolly little lambs to run around. Yep, pigs and chickens. That’s what East Anglia thrives on.

Odd then that it wasn’t the Ipswich team that were performing as if they’d been wallowing in pig droppings but our very own City. Don’t let the (almost respectable) scoreline mislead you into thinking this was a close game or that City deserved anything from it, we didn’t. We played Forest over Christmas a couple of years ago and lost that one 3-2 as well after a truly miserable performance, three goals from Forest in the first half and they let us score two late on. This was similar. Ipswich dominated the first half and made us look like a First Division side. It’s a long time since I’ve been so embarrassed – I’ve been telling my Ipswich supporting friends down here for a while that they’re going straight back down but on the basis of this performance it won’t be them that’s playing Millwall next year. Oh God, Millwall are going to be in the First Division next year, please don’t let us go down…

City started with a completely incomprehensible team selection. We did well against United last week, right? We played well, looked like a team, if we’d had anyone dangerous up front could have got something from the game, right? So how come so much was changed for this game? None of the papers we looked at on the way up or in the pub beforehand managed to get the team right and I’m not surprised. The starting eleven consisted of Weaver, Charvet, Prior, Howey, Dunne, Haaland, Bishop, Wright-Philips, Kennedy, Dickov and Goater. Now I thought Dunne was unlucky to get dropped after a good performance against Southampton, but to bring him back in to play at left back made no sense at all. Or was he? Could anyone tell? Where was Charvet supposed to be playing? Who was he supposed to be playing for? How long was it going to take before they worked it out for themselves? Was it going to be before Ipswich took advantage? Er, no. To give them credit (ooh that hurts) it was a well-worked goal. After 8 minutes. Why do we have to give away early goals like that? I always picture people watching the game on teletext at home and thinking “oh no not again” when we go behind so early. Anyway, Jamie Clapham made a good run down the left and put a cross over for Marcus Stewart to head straight past Weaver. Well worked, that is, because Ipswich had spotted that our defence had decided not to bother defending the right flank. Charvet had gone zooming off somewhere and when Clapham made his run had just started pootling slowly back to his own half. I assume he was supposed to be playing wing back on Saturday – someone should have pointed out to him the “back” part of that word. It’s all very well running forward quickly – and he can do that – but the idea is that you run back quickly too, not that you abdicate all responsibility to the rest of your defence. Ooops sorry lads, I put a cr*p cross over ‘cos I was attacking and couldn’t be bothered getting back to mop up the mess.

Still, it’ll be OK, Bishop’s playing and his passing is always really good. Ah. Problem. Bishop this season hasn’t quite managed to regain his form of, well, 10 years ago. I don’t know what the passes completed ratio was for him on Saturday but I bet he was struggling to get into double figures. What has happened to him? He was by no means the only offender as pass after pass went either straight to the Ipswich midfield or straight into touch, but I would expect more of him. And what on earth is going on with our throw ins? Yes Spencer Prior can throw the ball a long way, but what’s the point in throwing it into the penalty area when it’s always met by the head of a defender standing waiting at the near post? We all know what’s going to happen at throw ins, do they think the opposition don’t work it out quickly too? Having said that – and I was very ready to apologise to everyone involved had it been necessary – our best opportunity to score in the first half came after a throw in. After a bit of a scramble Goater fired a shot in from the left side of the goal that Wright just managed to get a hand to and push away. Good save. Git.

It was a rare bright spark though in a pretty dreadful first half, and no-one was too surprised when Ipswich went further ahead. We’d been failing to mark effectively at set pieces all half, so it was inevitable when the goal came from a corner. The disturbing thing was that it was a free header though, what’s happened to our defence?

We looked pretty woeful and were being outplayed in almost every area – the only one on the pitch (once again) who looked as if they knew what they were supposed to be doing was Wright-Phillips. He can’t do it all on his own. City were booed off at half time, what a difference from the week before.

Half time: City 0 Ipswich 2. I didn’t win the half time draw. Again.

Dunne was replaced by Tiatto at the start of the second half but it didn’t exactly signify a turn round in fortunes. Goater should have scored with the first attack of the half after good work from (yet again) Wright-Phillips but he doesn’t look to have found his scoring boots yet this season. I did think that if we scored one we’d score two – I didn’t however bargain on Ipswich scoring another, which is exactly what they did. Bishop was down injured just outside the Ipswich penalty area, with the Ipswich defenders screaming at their own midfield to put the ball out. The ref had stopped the game in similar circumstances in the first half to allow an Ipswich player to receive treatment so everyone assumed he’d do the same this time. He didn’t. City stopped, Ipswich carried on and Marcus Stewart scored his second and Ipswich’s third. There were a lot of complaints and moaning about how this goal should not have stood, but the main reason Ipswich were able to score was that City didn’t play to the whistle. How elementary is that? Why on earth did we stop when it was obvious the Ipswich attackers weren’t about to put the ball out? By the time the ref realised Bishop had been injured the goal had been scored and Bishop was back – albeit gingerly – on his feet, and we can’t blame anyone but ourselves.

20 minutes to go, no way we can salvage anything out of this game. Wanchope and Whitley replaced Dickov and Goater. Wanchope in particular was greeted by the happy chappies around me with a lot of groans and comments of “oh no not that lazy git” so it must have been nice for him when he scored. In fact, it must have been nice for him for the novelty value of not being called offside, which he managed to be with disturbing regularity. He was almost unmarked on the edge of the Ipswich box, with Kennedy to his left and Wright-Phillips to his right. I was mentally screaming to him to pass it to one of those two rather than mess it up himself, when he did something strange with his legs that meant they extended to 30 feet long and put the ball in the net. Nice one. I was glad I hadn’t been screaming at him out loud. Ipswich then hit the post with Weaver stranded – oops – but with 10 minutes to go we scored another. Tiatto (who was having a blinder) ran down the left and was fouled by Wilnis. The free kick was given, he was booked, then the free kick was moved 10 yards closer to goal after Ipswich whinged. Kennedy took the free kick and Howey headed it in the net. Could it be? Surely not. OK. no. Ipswich went down the other end and hit the bar this time, then Weaver dived at Johnson’s feet when he seemed certain to score. We did keep pressuring to try and get the equaliser, but it wouldn’t have been deserved. Premiership defences don’t give in the way the likes of Walsall do.

So then, another defeat – five on the trot – and the only reason we aren’t in an even worse position than we are is that the teams below us are getting results that are just as bad. Luckily – I don’t think we should be relying on that for the rest of the season. We need another 30 points or we’ll be relegated, and it’s difficult to see where they’re coming from. Royle stressed after the game that of the 5 defeats 4 of them had been against the top 4 teams in the league. Fine, but in that case how come we were so comprehensively outplayed at West Ham, who weren’t many points ahead of us at the time? And let us not forget we’ve already lost to Coventry and only just managed to draw against Middlesbrough, and both of those games were at home. I’m worried now. I don’t think we are one of the three worst teams in the league but I didn’t think we were the last time we were relegated. Unless we start picking up some points soon we really will be playing Millwall next season. It’s also going to be some time before I recover from the humiliation of losing against Ipswich… sob.

Sharon Hargreaves


A few Blues will be getting together on Sunday Dec 3rd in Savannah, Georgia to watch the “live” game vs. Chelsea, kick-off at 11.00am EST. A fellow Blue runs a pub up there also so what could be better! We also have last season’s video “Blue Moon” to squeeze in and watch if you haven’t already seen it. If you’re interested email me directly and I’ll give you more details.

Paul Whittaker – Florida Blue (


Manchester City Supporters’ Club of S.A. are holding their usual monthly meeting, Wednesday, 29th November, at The Union Hotel, Waymouth Street, Adelaide, South Australia. Meeting to start 8.30pm, then a City Quiz will follow directed by Trevor Cooke (ex City Junior), fantastic memorabilia prize. Talk by Jono Parkin fresh back from the Maine Road derby. New video footage, supper to be provided by Shirl (landlady).

Paul Thorpe (


After reading MCIVTA 660, I popped into Central Library to read the offending article and composed the following letter to The Observer. Maybe I do dislike United fans, but it was the best way I could get my point over 😉

Dear Sir:

In last Saturday’s Manchester derby, I heard the United fans’ velvet lament “If I die in the Kippax Street, there’ll be ten Blue b*****ds at my feet!” For thirty years I have puffed my chest out with pride as United fans wax lyrical about dog muck, substituting “Sh” for the “C” each time they refer to City. On Sunday I read Mr Wilson’s biased match report which ended calling City fans morons for referencing the Munich air crash. So I am a baddy and the United fans are goodies?

City and United fans cruelly goad each other, from 5 to 55 years old, yet friends and family live together in harmony supporting the two clubs. This superficial hatred is reflected in harsh chants and jokes from both sets of supporters and is as greatly Mancunian as is our fine, homely drizzle.

Violence does occur, but it is part and parcel of life. I do not dislike United fans despite the fact derbys have been held up by United fans invading the pitch, and despite having had beer, pies, coins etc. hurled at me when standing in the Scoreboard End at Old Trafford derbys. Why? because these idiots are everywhere you go in life and it has nothing to do with City or United.

I do not dislike Mr Wilson as I don’t know him, yet writing this sort of tripe displays the qualities of a superficial ignoramus, perhaps even a moron.

Yours faithfully,

Edwin Cooke (


Just a short note to let both of our fans know that the new issue (the Moral Victory Special as opposed to the rather more hoped for Derby Victory Special, but you can’t have everything!) was out on Saturday featuring, as it does, Worthy at Wembley’s Final Whistle, Howie de Blue at the Tribal Gathering, my highlights from the AGM, Phil Noble on the memorabilia exhibition, Peter Brophy on smashing the transfer system, everyone else on George Weah and Andy Noise behind enemy lines in the away end. There is no other alternative. Only £1.00 from the usual outlets or me! For more details check out Blue View…

Noel Bayley (


… for I have sinned. It has been 12 weeks since my last contribution.

So now, sloping soberly out of hiding and out of the confessional, I find myself with a hefty penance of ten “Our Fathers” and a somewhat harsh but, let’s hear-em, thirty five thousand “Hail Neil Youngs”. But enlightenment is nigh. Praise the Lord.

When Joe Ramsbottom questioned my whereabouts in MCIVTA 660 I hadn’t thought about how long it is since I last sent something for inclusion in these virtuous pages; time seems to have flown by. But look back I did, and it turns out that the last time I wrote to McVittee it was a piece asking if anyone knew of a bar in Fuertaventura with Sky. I couldn’t find a piece after that where I said “thanks” following our return, although I know I had intended to write a quickie. Slipped my mind completely. Apologies to all who sent me details without my returning thanks.

Ciara and I watched the ‘boro game in Caleta de Fustes in a bar that served a half decent pint of Caffrey’s and had beer mats containing extracts from a book of strangest tales about the pre-hunt sexual practices of elk hunters of Scandinavian yore. Just as well, given that the game couldn’t have been much poorer than it was. It was, however, the first time I’d seen George Weah, a sort of mini-hero of mine from a number of years previous, and now he was playing for Manchester City. On holiday with Ciara, decent Caffrey’s, Weah, and a witty beer mat. I couldn’t have been happier. George showed the odd sign of magic, the first I’d seen him produce in a shirt the same as the one I wear myself. I have to admit to being a bit awe-struck by his presence at our club at first.

I had another half decent pint of Caffrey’s and wondered whether, if I drank enough of the stuff I could make a match as poor as the ‘boro game go all squiggly… squiggly… squiggly…

Cut squiggly.

Weah not really here

6 weeks earlier. London.

George couldn’t really smoke in The Smoke like he wanted to, so he packed his smalls into a spotted hanky on the end of a stick to begin his trek north to the City of Manchester. He put his glorious golden boots into their gorgeous golden bag, went to the little boys’ room. Pinkle. Parp politely. Ready to go.

He hoisted his heraldic hold-all aloft and boomed toward heaven, “I am George and I shall dwell where the righteous dwell. I will stand by those of the City of Manchester who have not succumbed to plastic treats of the dark side, to be amongst those who suckle not at the prawn flavoured nipple of lucre. I, George Weah, am going to Manchester City. I will score nice goals and humbly pass my skills to a young rising star in tent-like togs of Blue. Big enough for two. Take me to the Academy, my Trusty Thoroughbred!”, taking the reigns of a shiny stallion with a sparkling saddle, the Superstar sprang.

This Diamond Geezer swooshed almost silently atop his mount… straddling the high sheen saddle. “Easy there vicar!”, George called out to the daydreaming clergyman nearing a carelessly discarded banana skin. Gentleman George. Jostling with John Wayne for the top spot of the Top Blokes Top Twenty. “God bless you my son”, said the relieved Reverend, “… may your journey be swift and your berth around Luton be wide. Go in peace”.

George smiled. With his beautifully burnished bag bearing the boots o’bullion safely strapped to his simply super saddle he tipped his stunning Stetson to the oh so sweet’n’slinky Sloaney’s as he set off on his journey to the Righteous and the Blue. Going off be where the lights would be shining on him.

Like a Rhinestone Cowboy ridin’ out on a horse in a star spangled rodeo. He’d got cards and letters from people he don’t even know…

Squiggly… squiggly… squiggly….

Mid-October, back at the ranch.

… and offers comin’ over the phone.

I bought it big style. It was only months earlier I had watched his wizardry against ‘boro, albeit a single example which whistled over bar following a turn more lovely and more temperate than the summer’s day drinking Caffrey’s. As I said I was a bit awe-struck at the time. However, as the weeks and the fixtures went by, the starring rôles, and later even the appearances, were few and far between. What’s up with George? I wasn’t sure what to think. Age telling? Carrying a knock? Trouble at t’mill?

All the statements generously sprinkled with generous amounts of “one of the lads”, and “have to work for my place like the rest”, had long been something we applauded. What a wonderful attitude, we thought. There are of course many, who even at this stage of George’s career at City, were still trying to work him out, suspicious of this softly spoken, apparently selfless all round blo*dy nice chap. However, it has been commented in the past that we have earned the right to be suspicious about the goings on in our club.

Were you suspicious or shrewd? Who’s to know? George Weah, in spite of his nice words to the contrary, showed more through his body language on the bench in the Bradford match that there was a world of difference between the comfort afforded by that plastic seat and the diamond encrusted saddle in the fairytale I’d seen starting with such promise only months earlier. It was all a bit of a mess now and looked as though it could endanger the stability at the club. Smoke and fire appeared both to be present and correct.

It was pretty unheard of that not a Manager, but a player was now treading the path most travelled, a path trampled flat by the Managers, Directors, Hired Heavies and the occasional Chairman of yesterday. Oh my God, we’re Everton; Out you go. Too ill; close the door behind you Mr. Coppell. Too squeaky, medal, medal, medal; get out of my sight.

Joe Royle emerged from the George Weah affair with the majority of the fan support on his side. However, one thing always leads to another with us and it wasn’t long before accusations of inconsistency began to be levelled at Joe Royle for his apparent pampering of Richard Edghill, who had been out of the side for some time by this stage, whilst simultaneously sacking George Weah. Hardly fair comparison, given that Richard Edghill hadn’t been accused of having a detrimental influence on team spirit though.

If Joe made a mistake in handling the Richard Edghill issue, it is that he possibly left Edgy exposed to the booing for too many games, when he obviously was struggling to perform. His fate was well and truly sealed when thousands hounded Edgy out of sight in the Coventry game. Joe, still fiercely protective of Edgy, reacted scathingly toward the fans. He would later state that when Edgy returns, he’ll do so at an away tie. Again to shield him from those who claim to be his own.

Rightly or wrongly, the likely looking departure of Edgy will ultimately go down as a direct response to fans who could boo loud enough to give the impression they speak for us all, when they don’t. The exact reasons why individuals booed at Richard Edghill does not matter as the average City fan is going to find it hard to understand which aspect of booing helps the player or the team no matter how you explain it. I don’t know how much truth there is in talk of some of the booing being racially driven, but if this was your reason for joining in, then know only that you are a disgrace.

More recently Joe Royle came under scrutiny for publicly criticising Paulo Wanchope. I’d be interested to hear how many of those who complained were amongst the same Blues who only weeks earlier lambasted our then captain in the shabbiest and most public way possible. Should Joe deal with the Paulo as he did in the Edgy case and wait to allow those few thousand boo-ers to become vocal before something changes? I don’t think Joe will be trying that method again.

If he hadn’t shared with the press the fact that he was unhappy with Wanchope’s effort and application, how exactly would Joe Royle get a message across to the fans that the “problem” is being dealt with, or that the input of the “boo-boys” is not required? We can’t expect the club to write to us all personally. He does his job, he lets us what he’s doing, and we moan.

Emile Heskey’s diving was seen as unprofessional by Joe Royle, leading him to call for “naming and shaming”. So what’s the difference here? It would appear Joe Royle is only practising what he preaches and seeing as we are paying the wages and he is expected to manage, I can see little to complain about in the action Joe Royle has taken. Only time will tell if the required improvement will now be shown by Wanchope. Sitting out the derby and seeing the guts that were spilled there should have given Paulo enough food for thought. Hopefully his goal against Ipswich will give him more. Again I think Joe Royle has handled the Wanchope matter in the best way he could given the alternative of letting the fans have a go at solving it for him.

Is it not so, that the traditional method of assessing whether a person is doing their job properly or not, can be scientifically expressed as the distance between the thumb and the backside of the subject under study? Whilst Joe Royle may have made mistakes along the way, there would appear to be a distance of at least a cubit between digit and posterior, when you take into consideration that the team we are playing these days hasn’t been in place for long. How often do we hear of managers being allowed some time?

It amazes me that some of us can so quickly forget the parties we’ve all been at under Joe Royle, every one of them miles better than anything alan ball went to. I just hope that George Weah’s leaving City wasn’t anything to do with me!

George’s Left Boot

City Dressing Room, Maine Road, Saturday 30th September.

The Tribal Gathering 2000 was simply “the dogs”. The Blues we met and the craic we had were excellent. Jonathan (Walking Back To Bury Blue) told you of my slumber in the Brickhouse that night at the After Party After Party Party, whereas in truth I had fallen foul of an acute ice cream headache in the early hours having failed to eat a Rowntrees Fruit Pastille ice pop without chewing it. I’d had a virtually inaudible voice since the TG party, what with all the singing and all, and had scoffed the ice lolly to try to soothe my throat. This is the excuse I’m sticking with. What a brilliant laugh the whole weekend was though. Many thanks to those who successfully organised something which, those more mortal of Blues amongst us, couldn’t have been even dreamt up. Here’s looking forward to TG2001.

The dressing room was packed solid. Nobby Clarke’s stories from the RAF crack glider squadron, offered the perfect background babble, when you’re standing in the City dressing room, staring covetously through misty hung-over beer goggles at the mountain of Jaffa Cakes set out for players to munch through before the game against Newcastle.

With so many Blues huddled together it was hard not to stand on player’s towels and flip-flops. Ciara trod on Mark Kennedy’s boots, sending one rolling off a low stack of tracksuit parts. I squeezed downwards to pick it up and put it back thinking it can’t have been bigger than a size six. Would the ladies be disappointed I wondered? When everyone cleared out for the next part of the tour, we made a bee-line for the corner of the dressing room, Ciara sitting next to Paul Dickov’s shirt hanging from its peg, me with the camera poised ready to shoot. He shoots, he scores.

I was already drooling at the sight of a pair of boots nearby, the name “Weah” on the tip of a floppy extended tongue, which I drew back into my mouth as I sat on the benches.

Picking up the left boot I held it up for a photo, noticing the tongue wasn’t showing properly. I fiddled and twisted and tugged at it and then all of a sudden it was hanging much further out of the boot than I had intended. Oh dear… I think I’ve busted it! I turned the now extremely exposed tongue over so that the surname of George could be seen in frame. Click. Blink. Done.

I tried and tried, but for some reason I couldn’t get the tongue to hang the same way it had before I messed about with it. Feeling hopeful that George would soon have it sorted I put the boot back on the floor and left the dressing room and the Jaffa Cakes behind me, feeling somewhat guilty.

George didn’t enjoy a single good touch with his left foot that afternoon and was subbed. He apparently disappeared to Milan straight after the game. His last home game as it turned out. So you see it’s all my fault that Weah’s not really here. Hate mail to the usual address.

(Some words used from “Rhinestone Cowboy” by Glen Campbell)

CTID, Cathal Whelehan (


Does anyone know whether the Fans’ Committee still exists and what the e-mail address is? I, along with many other fans have been experiencing long hold-ups in the car parks after the game, due I think, to the Police deciding to intervene in a situation where there has never been a problem. They stop you leaving the car parks and getting onto the main road that leads from the ground into Manchester in order to escort the away coaches, but I think they do this far too early. The Club keep the away fans in for a time and the Police are keeping home fans in car parks and nobody is going anywhere! The car parks could be nearly empty by the time the away coaches leave the ground, it’s ludicrous. I spent nearly 50 minutes stuck in the car park last week when we played United. This was after leaving the ground a little before the end in order to get away safely and I am then put in the vulnerable position of sitting in my car going nowhere. Apparently the police were escorting the fans to the station. Excuse me, I thought we played Manchester United. The Police cause so much of a gridlock that an ambulance was having great difficulty getting through. After supporting City for 30 years the Police never fail to amaze me how they can create problems where there aren’t any. Moan over.

Elaine Taylor (


A version of this article has already appeared in CITY magazine.

Monday 2nd October with the MCCSA (A34) – Winchester Branch at the Willow Tree Pub in Winchester.

Having now settled in the south, returning to England to play for Southampton. Uwe had no hesitation in accepting our invitation to come along for an evening with our branch of the Centenary Supporters’ Association. He turned up looking well, although he was carrying an injury, which will require surgery and would keep him out of the game for a few weeks. It will cause him to miss the match with City at the Dell which deeply disappoints him.

He looked happy and spent the whole evening with us. He said he was very much enjoying being back in this country. He had asked his agent to look for a Premiership club in this country when his German club had gone bankrupt and Southampton were the first to come in for him. He has a young family and they are now settled in the south.

We then had a question session, to which he freely answered most of the questions put to him by our branch secretary Steve Holt.

Steve – What do you think will happen to football if the transfer system is abolished?
Uwe – I think it will destroy football as we know it and will make it much harder for the lesser players to make a living out of the game.

Steve – How long do you expect to play professional football and do you hope to stay in the game when you hang up your boots?
Uwe – I have a two-year contract at Southampton and would like to play for another year after that; that would take me to 35 and I would like to stay in the game when I stop playing. But not really as a manager, a manager’s job is too unstable and I would like something a bit more secure for my future. My wife is Norwegian and we have a young family and have no real home, the longest I have been is one place is my 4 years in Manchester and my children are from Manchester. I would not rule out settling up there after I retire.

Steve – How closely have you kept in touch with City’s progress since you left the club?
Uwe – I have always looked for the City result as soon as I could; when I was back in Germany I would follow the English papers, and I was at Wembley for the play-off final.

Question from the floor – What did you think of that day at Wembley?
Uwe – I was there as a guest of Gary Lee, and it was an amazing day for everyone involved with the club, and it was good to see everyone smiling.

Steve – How do you rate our chances this season?
Uwe – I think City’s chances are pretty good. Joe and Willie are doing a good job with City. I liked and got on well with them both despite what happened at the end of my days at City. Both City and Southampton will not be relegated.

Steve – Do you still keep in touch with any of the players or staff at Maine Road?
Uwe – Gerard Wiekens is the only one left at the club that I keep in touch with, all of my old mates have now left. When I first came over to City, I could speak no English at all and Steve McMahon was a great help to me. Paul Walsh was a great player to play alongside and became a good mate and he helped me again when I came back this year.

Steve – What was the best game you played in for City?
Uwe – Newcastle 2-0 in the cup, I scored a goal and my good mate Maurizio Gaudino also played.

Steve – Were you surprised to find yourself such a cult hero to the City fans?
Uwe – Even in the bad times it was always good with the fans. City was my longest stay at any club and I would have liked to have ended my career at City. I had verbally agreed a new contract with Frank Clark but he then left and Joe Royle came in and I did not hear from him. I spoke to Kaiserslauten and agreed a contract with them, and Joe had still not spoken to me until afterwards.

Steve – Who was the best player in your time at Maine Road?
Uwe – Paul Walsh was the best player to play alongside, and Wiekens was a good prospect. Kinky was something special, the best player I have ever played with skill-wise, but he needed others around him to be on the same wavelength. I always thought that he should have played for someone like Real Madrid and thought that he would have gone to higher things after his move to Ajax.

Steve – Who was the best manager you played under at City?
Uwe – Brian Horton (no hesitation); the players liked him, Frank Clark was not bad and I liked Steve Copple during his brief stay.

Steve – And who was the worst?
Uwe – No Comment (smiles) – rather not talk about things of that nature.

Steve – Who is the best manager you have ever played under?
Uwe – Glen Hoddle, his tactical knowledge is unbelievable. If he had been my manager at 25 I would have become such a better player. I find it hard to play as a lone striker and Hoddle knows that but I am learning things off him that I wish I had known in the past.

Steve – Do you have any heroes outside of football?
Uwe – Boris Becker.

The question format was left and Uwe spoke for a while about his life in East Germany before the re-unification and the problems he had with the change of lifestyles. He spoke from the heart about it but did say that his privileged upbringing in a state training school helped his career. He was asked if he had ever thought about defecting and he said they did wonder but there were always too many repercussions for the families to carry it out.

He said he has always regretted not having a proper chance to say goodbye to the City fans. He had always got on so well with them.

He was asked what he was really thinking that day that he threw his boots into the crowd at Anfield, to which he smiled and said he was just giving the fans his old boots as a present. He had not scored in 4 games in the boots he had been wearing and he had a new pair that he was ready to wear from then on. He just wanted to give his old boots away to the fans. He was amazed the next day when it was all over the press and was called up to explain his actions. He spent ages that day having to explain it to everyone and regrets it was such a big misunderstanding. He also regretted his sprint to the bench after coming off the bench and scoring in the Maine Road ‘derby’. It felt afterwards that it was unprofessional, but his emotions got the better of him. He was asked if he wanted a ticket in with the City fans for the Southampton match and with a grin politely declined and said that he should stay loyal with his current club, and would probably be lynched by the Saints fans anyway.

He raised a few laughs along the way, especially when he told us he had asked Niall Quinn to try and get him a game for Ireland. This topic was raised after the question of where his taste for Guinness had originated!

The evening then drew to a close with Uwe drawing his own ticket out for the raffle prize of a new away shirt, and doing a re-draw before signing autographs and having his picture taken with the branch members.

In summary: a thoroughly nice man who appeared happy to talk to City fans for the first time in ages. I don’t know what he expected exactly as he was unaware City had a supporters’ club in the area but he knew it couldn’t be any more rowdy than his visits to Prestwich & Whitefield! He still remembers you lot.

Andy Stevenson, Chairman, Winchester (A34) Branch, MCCSA (


An invitation to Football Forums online.

Football Forums ( is an up and coming new football website, which could do with a few more City fans on the forums! The site not only includes busy forums, but also has several other interactive features such as Polls, news written by the fans for the fans, free email, chat and much, much more. Let’s hope some of you City fans come and join in the fun and really show who is the best team in Manchester.

Dan Murnaghan (


I was thinking, after Saturday’s result:

I  f
P  erformances
S  tay
W  oeful
C  ould
H  elp!

In other words, I might have to bring the acronyms back!

Steve Maclean (


I am a City fanatic, and whilst it’s always nice to put an optimistic spin on reports, I think I can also be objective over a match I watch. Having had City as part of my life for as long as I can remember, it does somewhat stick in my gut to say this, but having seen the game with Man. United, I find it very difficult to agree with many of the hyped-up reports of our performance. I thought City were really disappointing. We looked like a nervous away team, lots of passion, yes, but not much of a contest. United looked calm, and very co-ordinated, just way too cool on-the-ball. We didn’t get at them anywhere near enough.

I had read something in MCIVTA recently about the high fitness level of City’s players, but United looked way fitter.

Plus points:

  • Shaun Wright-Phillips, great stuff!
  • Alfie Haaland & Paul Dickov gave everything!
  • Bish added another dimension when he came on.Suddenly we were holding the ball up well, and Bish always looks creative.His experience really shone through. Pity he didn’t get much time to have agreater impact.

The clear difference in this game was that United are a well-oiled machine that have played together for a long time, whereas City definitely have some quality players but we are still a new team learning to gel together. Plenty of guts and passion, no argument with that! I hope that will be enough to keep us up!

Forever Blue, Adrian Leather, Quesnel, British Columbia (


I am sure that Phil Gatenby is genuine in his wish to introduce standing areas at Eastlands, and that his only wish is to improve the atmosphere at football stadiums (stadia?) and I applaud his energy in campaigning for it. However, I think he is very misguided in his campaign.


Let’s get one thing straight at the start. Seating is safer than standing. Even the worst seated areas (Fratton Park/Swindon Town) are safer than standing. If any group of supporters should know this it is Manchester City supporters who have spent the last few seasons travelling to some of the worst stadiums in the English professional game. I remember being at Moss Rose and Springfield Park and not being in any way safe. In spite of limits on capacities at these grounds there was severe overcrowding and crushing on these terraces (presumably because of forgeries). If you are seated you have a space and that is your space, no-one can take your space. Who can say that they would prefer being jostled and pushed around by “fat-bloke-just-out-of-the-pub”? Not me.

I am sure that SAFE are not in favour of re-creating the delights of Springfield Park and I do not want to see seating as at Fratton Park, but the point remains that having to stand and be jostled is de-humanising. And it is this de-humanising which leads to supporters being treated as turnstile fodder with less and less facilities and less concern for their safety, before you know it we have Manor Ground, Oxford. It is also true that when we had jam-packed terracing there were broken limbs sustained on the Kop at Anfield at every match; this was considered a price worth paying at a time when many people did not have inside toilets, but I don’t think it is what we want now. With each person having their own seat it is also easier to pick out troublemakers like the d*ckhead(s) who threw the coins at Beckham and deal with them than allowing them the anonymity of being in a crowd.

Phil will probably say “What about the Germans?” I must admit that I have not been to a stadium in Germany since Euro 88, but as soon as I have saved the bus fare I shall go to Munich and see these terraces for myself. I stand to be corrected but until I have seen for myself I cannot accept that the terraces can be as safe as seating. And what about Fulham? If they are promoted they will not have to go all seated in the Premier League. Well, no and yes. They have three years from promotion to the First Division to convert to all seater; as they were promoted in 1999, they have until 2002 to convert i.e. for one year in the Premiership they will be able to use terraces. The same would apply to Preston NE who have until 2003 to convert. That is not to say that their terraces are safe. It only means that being practical you must give clubs a reasonable timescale to convert their stadium. That is the same timescale given to other clubs promoted to Division One.


Funny, we all remember the old standing areas differently. The Kippax/Kop/Shed/Boothen End etc. in full voice, roaring like a jumbo jet at take off, lifting the team to new heights, scoring at will, winning cups, conquering Europe etc. The truth was something different. There were plenty of glum days on the old Kippax and the atmosphere sometimes in the new Kippax (Wigan in the play offs, Birmingham last season) has been really rocking. Come on, Val Doonican has no problem singing while he is sitting down so I reckon we should be able to manage it! Not that I shall be campaigning for rocking chairs at Eastlands. The real key about atmosphere is the price which people are charged for watching football, and the fact that the ground is almost entirely sold out to season ticket holders. This militates against the casual, the young and the poor and means that the ground is increasingly filled with cynical middle-aged consumer types who take a view of why should I shout and sing when the team are not performing. Once we move to the new stadium, with a 50% increase in capacity maybe we can do more to encourage traditional support. I suggest having say 28,000 season tickets, 5,000 away fans, and 15,000 tickets (one complete stand) on sale game to game on a first come, first served basis and sensibly priced. People could then go along with their pals and sit together in the ground and sing to their hearts’ content. If the team were doing well, they would need to get in early just as we used to do on the old Kippax and keep ourselves entertained. Maybe that is naïve, but it is no less naïve than thinking an increase in capacity bought about by re-introducing standing areas will equate to lower admission prices.

There now, I have written against standing areas and not mentioned Hillsborough once. Let me say again, that I am all in favour of rebuilding an atmosphere but before we go chasing up this blind alley, let’s give it some thought – standing areas are not the answer.

Jim Curtis (


You may remember my match report from the Wolves vs. City game last year and that I am subjected to watching the Wolves by my father- and brother- in law. I have seen Keane play several times and he looked exactly the sort of player City do not want! He is (or was) a prima donna who sulks when he doesn’t get the ball and won’t pass the ball to team mates he thinks are unworthy. My father-in law was especially pleased when he went.

Pete Carey (


Manchester City told us at their recent memorabilia event how much the board of directors value the club’s history and treasure its heritage. Is this really true?

Last week, a true City hero, Jack Dyson, passed away at the age of 66. He played only 60-odd games for the club, but one of those games was the final of the 1956 F.A. Cup. Dyson scored one of three City goals that day. Inexplicably, the club’s management chose not to hold a minute’s silence in his memory prior to the kick-off on Saturday.

I accept that it not possible to hold a minute’s silence every time a former player dies, but surely someone who scores a goal for the club in an F.A. Cup-winning side deserves more recognition than just an article in the match programme?

Do any other supporters out there share my opinion?

(Name and e-mail address withheld)


Oh dear! Things are starting to look bad. And let’s not pretend otherwise because that would, I feel, be more damaging. How can a team that finished above Ipswich last season be 3 nil down at home after 53 minutes? How can a team that almost equalled our un-stoppable neighbours last week, be so pathetically lightweight this week (apart from the last quarter of an hour)?

Having said this, I don’t want to be tagged as one of the Boo Boys. I’m 100% behind Joe and wherever there are positives, we should focus on these and build from them. I keep hearing of two fundamental things that bring footballing success: hard work and team work. The good news for City is that we’ve demonstrated these in abundance in the past and I’m sure will find them again. We’re probably not going to be able to compete with some of the top-tier Premiership teams due to the gulf in basic footballing quality, but we sure can compete with everyone else.

My only disclaimer is that I do believe we’re not sharp enough in front of goal. And our sharpest striker is basically too inconsistent. We urgently need a consistent goal scorer, and I would argue that a payout now, even despite all the transfer speculation, is necessary. After all, Rangers and Leeds have just spent incredible amounts of money to boost their attacking and even defensive efforts – despite the same transfer conditions.

So, in a nutshell: let’s rediscover what we’re good at (hard work and team work), and get someone consistently sharp up front.

Survival is everything! Come on Joe, get us back on the winning track.

CTID, James Barber (


It’s quite obvious that City are no match for the Big 5 teams on ability alone, and why do we persist with a team that is defence orientated, but still concedes loads of goals? JR dfinitely seems to concentrate so much on defence that we invite pressure on to ourselves. We do not possess the midfield and forwards that would worry the opposition. You can only go so far with huff and puff, what our mid-field needs is at least one good creative player who is comfortable on the ball, not just the hoof and hope type we seem to have.

Look at the midfielder for Spartak Moscow – Titov, what an influence he had on the game, and this was against an Arsenal team with plenty of 1st team regulars – the forwards had loads of service, and proved it with the amount of goals they scored.

Wanchope – for all his faults is “unpredictable”, that alone is worth bringing him on, even as a substitute – he is very good in the air and will cause problems at set pieces, more than can be said about Goater, who seems to jump for the ball as if has lead in his boots!

SWP – I like the look of SWP, he is tricky and quick, will give defences problems, and can only get better.

Kennedy – should play from the start as he has the ability to create scoring chances for our “goal shy” attack and must be seen as a danger by the opposition; needs to play regularly.

Tiatto – gives 100% like Dickov, but is a lunatic at times; he must channel his aggression in the right way, has definitely got pace and stamina, but no control, his passing is poor to say the least and he picks up too many yellow cards with his rash challenges. Now that he is a regular International player, he has got to get far more control.

My starting XI would be as follows:

Goal        :                 Weaver
Back Three  :          Charvet, Prior, Howey,
Midfield  5 :   Whitley, Horlock, Haaland, Tiatto, Kennedy
Front Two   :               Wanchope, SWP
Subs from   :     Bishop, Dickov, Dunne, Goater, Wiekens, Wright, etc.

Glyn Albuquerque (


Reading Mike Leaf’s table is a bit depressing. I agree that generally you get more points off the clubs just below you than they get off you, and this follows with the clubs above.

Anyhow, just to be a bit more of an anorak than Mike, I divided the points scored by the number of games and then multiplied the total by 16 (total number of games) to get to the following. Admittedly we have results to get, but it reads much better!

                  P     Pts    G/Dff    Av Pts (16)
1) Ipswich        4     12      +7              48
2) Everton        6     11      +2              30
3) Derby          5     7       +2              25
4) Man City       5     7       -1              25
5) Charlton       8     12      +2              24
6) Coventry       6     7       -1              19
7) Mboro          7     8       +1              18
8) Bradford       5     0       -8              14
9) Soton          7     6       -4               0

Edwin Cooke (


  1. Why is it that we can’t seem to put at least 2 (3 would be nice!) decent 30 minutes into a whole game?
  2. Why is it Big Joe relegates to the bench 2 of the 3 most consistent performers all season (Whitley & Tiatto – Howey being the other)?
  3. Why is it he seems to want to hold grudges against Wanchope and not play him when The Goat looks 4 games short of match fitness?
  4. Why is it that Big Joe couldn’t see on Saturday that tactically we weren’t at the races after seven minutes let alone seventy minutes?
  5. Why is it our captain looks like he’s still in 2nd gear?
  6. Why is it when we need a natural striker, we haven’t tried to pick up David Johnson, Darren Huckerby or even had a punt at Lee Hughes?
  7. Why is it against all odds, we’ll probably get something at Chelsea?

Why is it… because that’s what comes with living and breathing City of course!

Mark Robinson (


I may have used this as a forum to criticise The Real Cowards of (Trafford) County in the last edition but does anyone agree with me on the following points?

For all the City players’ and fans’ suffering at the hands of a press (and, I think, a cabal of referees) which loves to love a certain club, a few players did play into the Rags’ hands. Whoever, among the Manyoo team, said after the game that they fully expected the tempers of Haaland, Dickov and Tiatto to be on hair trigger alert, was dead right.

What did they get? Exactly what they expected. City, you’ve got to be cleverer than that!

I remember a documentary about Liverpool FC and one of their players recalled a game against Wimbledon where the scousers stepped out of the dressing room for a league game at Anfield in perfectly normal pre-match mode and they were met by a Wimbledon team whose pumped-up exit from the away dressing room gave three points to Liverpool before it had even, er, kicked off.

Even if the Rags’ attitudes do originate, as we all know, in the publicly-stated belief that everyone is against them, and it results in a kind of positive discrimination, we know in our hearts that some of our players played into their hands. City won’t truly have the upper hand until our players resist this urge.

I know it’s not helped by their exaggerated responses to being touched in the slightest and the refs falling for it and it sometimes makes me wonder whether there just isn’t any way you can come out on top, whatever you try to do. Well, there is: you from outplay them in the first place, close up at the back and then watch them lose their tempers. Of course, as the FA Cup tie in February 1996 demonstrated, when this happens, refs like Alan Wilkie tend to come along.

By the time this is published, we’ll have played Ipswich and the real concern is to make sure that we’re not looking at the chances of being on the sharp end of a “Dennis Law” by the time we leave town on 21 April 2001.

By the way, if anyone wonders what a real cauldron-like atmosphere is, I refer you to Mr L. Figo, Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid, Spain. Or call him on one of his 115,000 mobile phones.

Marc Starr (


Fairly straightforward. Sibling rivalry plus best friend was a Blue.

My parents were not the sporting type, and with no TV it was hard to get a taste for the game, apart from playing in the street and risking the wrath of neighbours with tidy front gardens, and occasionally in the park. Phil Radcliffe across the road was my best friend. His dad Les was a Blue, and so was Phil, whereas my brother (who knew nowt about football) “supported” United. Yes, it was like that even in the early 50s.

Mind you, he did have his photo in the Evening News when they snapped him in Ladybarn Park with Don Revie when I was about 6 (1956). I can’t remember what the story was – Revie training again after injury perhaps?

I was into trains, he was into planes (and still works for BA). I was 8 when United’s plane crashed at Munich – I can remember being pleased (a) that it was a plane that crashed not a train and (b) that it was his team. I was only eight.

But at least I was taking a bit of an interest in the game beyond playing three pops in using the grids in the road as goals. I don’t remember if I pestered or was just invited, but Phil’s dad took me with them to Maine Road.

March 14th, 1959. City vs. Newcastle. Placed on the sloping concrete of one of the old Kippax tunnels. Remember nothing now but the score – 5-1. Second big memory was 65,000 for Burnley (winning the League?) in 1960, though I do remember at one match shouting “Let’s have another goal, City, or at least hang on to the one you’ve got” when it had been disallowed for offside – so I learnt the rules then.

But it was different times. You used to debate which team you’d support if you lived in Bimingham/Liverpool/London (much less idea of football commuting), but Phil and his dad (like many others) used to go alternate weeks to Old Trafford and I went to a few matches. I can’t remember whether we “supported” United – it seems unlikely – or just went as neutrals, and the only thing I do remember is Paddy Crerand’s début and one very good through ball he played. I soon gave that up, but it was a couple of years before I started going regularly to Maine Road – the season of Alex Harley – and the next season I added away matches to the fun. Well, Scunthorpe away was fun…

Steve Parish (


Recent results from 13 November 2000 to 26 November 2000 inclusive.

26 November 2000

Leeds United          1 - 0  Arsenal               38,084
Newcastle United      2 - 1  Liverpool             51,949

25 November 2000

Charlton Athletic     0 - 1  Sunderland            20,043
Coventry City         1 - 1  Aston Villa           21,464
Derby County          0 - 3  Manchester United     32,910
Everton               2 - 1  Chelsea               33,515
Manchester City       2 - 3  Ipswich Town          33,741
Middlesbrough         2 - 2  Bradford City         28,526
Southampton           2 - 3  West Ham United       15,232
Tottenham Hotspur     3 - 0  Leicester City        35,636

League table to 26 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  15  6  1  0 24  4  5  2  1 15  6 11  3  1 39 10  29  36
 2 Arsenal         15  6  1  0 16  4  2  3  3  7  9  8  4  3 23 13  10  28
 3 Ipswich Town    15  3  3  1  9  6  5  0  3 14 10  8  3  4 23 16   7  27
 4 Leicester City  15  3  3  1  7  7  4  2  2  7  4  7  5  3 14 11   3  26
 5 Liverpool       15  6  1  0 16  6  1  2  5 13 17  7  3  5 29 23   6  24
 6 Aston Villa     14  4  2  0 11  3  2  3  3  6  9  6  5  3 17 12   5  23
 7 Newcastle Utd   15  4  1  3 10  8  3  1  3  7  7  7  2  6 17 15   2  23
 8 Tottenham H.    15  7  1  0 17  6  0  1  6  5 15  7  2  6 22 21   1  23
 9 Sunderland      15  4  3  0  8  4  2  2  4  7 12  6  5  4 15 16  -1  23
10 Leeds United    14  5  0  3 16 12  1  4  1  5  7  6  4  4 21 19   2  22
11 West Ham United 15  2  3  2 10  8  3  3  2 11  9  5  6  4 21 17   4  21
12 Charlton Ath.   15  5  2  1 13  4  1  1  5  8 17  6  3  6 21 21   0  21
13 Everton         15  3  2  3 11 11  3  1  3  8 10  6  3  6 19 21  -2  21
14 Chelsea         15  4  2  1 19  8  0  3  5  7 14  4  5  6 26 22   4  17
15 Southampton     15  3  1  4 14 15  1  4  2  7 12  4  5  6 21 27  -6  17
16 Manchester City 15  2  1  5 10 11  2  1  4  7 17  4  2  9 17 28 -11  14
17 Coventry City   15  1  2  5  5 13  2  1  4  9 17  3  3  9 14 30 -16  12
18 Middlesbrough   15  0  3  5  7 15  2  2  3 12 11  2  5  8 19 26  -7  11
19 Derby County    15  1  5  2 10 15  0  2  5  8 16  1  7  7 18 31 -13  10
20 Bradford City   15  1  3  3  4  6  0  2  6  3 18  1  5  9  7 24 -17   8

With thanks to Football 365


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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 #662