Newsletter #673

A welcome respite from their Premier League trials saw the Blues run out 3-2 winners last Saturday. A good first-half performance – including a Huckerby solo stunner – was almost negated by a sloppy first period to the second half, which saw us concede twice, once to a brilliant shot and once to poor defending. It was reassuring to see that we are still a cut above a decent Division 1 side, despite our confidence crisis. The result has earned us a home tie against Coventry. The Lomas ‘will he, won’t he’ transfer continues, whilst Carlo Nash looks like ‘he will’, and Dennis Wise looks like he has probably heard nothing about any link with City, despite what the papers say!

This issue has two ‘all-female’ match reports (who says it’s a male-dominated game?); Peter’s News; The City Diary; and opinion.

Next game: Leeds United at home, Saturday December 13th 2001


Part I: FA Cup – Result, Reaction and Draw

City Fight Off Birmingham Comeback: Manchester City progressed to the fourth round of this season’s FA Cup on Saturday. But the Blues had to overcome a second-half Birmingham revival to hold on for victory in the Maine Road third round tie. An Andy Morrison header from Danny Tiatto’s 18th-minute corner gave Joe Royle’s men the ideal start. And City looked set for a comfortable victory when they extended the lead twice before the break. First, Darren Huckerby scored a fine solo effort and then a Shaun Goater converted a penalty after goalkeeper Ian Bennett fouled Alfie Haaland. But goals after the interval from Martin Grainger and Dele Adebola set up a tense finish, and the Blues were indebted to Nicky Weaver for a spectacular save from visitors’ substitute Marcelo late on. However, City had stabilised after their shaky opening to the second period, and missed several presentable openings on the break, with Paul Dickov, on for the injured Huckerby, being particularly wasteful.

Royle – Cup Display Typical of City: Joe Royle saw his Manchester City side make hard work of disposing of a limited Birmingham outfit in Saturday’s FA Cup tie. And the Blues’ boss reflected that such a display was typical of many of the club’s performances over the years. When City led 3-0 at the break, it appeared that a rout could be on the cards. But two quick Birmingham goals in the opening fifteen minutes of the second period changed the complexion of the game. And Royle reflected after the match that he should have known his side wouldn’t simply coast to victory. “There must be a gene running through this club because nothing is ever done easily,” he mused. “The players and faces may change over the years, but it’s always the same old story.”

Francis Claims Brum Were Unlucky: Trevor Francis saw his Birmingham side knocked out of the FA Cup by Manchester City on Saturday. But the St Andrew’s boss felt his side had been hard done by after their spirited second-half revival. Francis bewilderingly claimed that the game had been even in the first half despite the evidence of a three-goal advantage in favour of the home side. And while the Birmingham manager pointed to Nicky Weaver’s save from a Marcelo shot from outside the penalty area as evidence that his team almost snatched a draw, he seemed oblivious to the fact that they could easily have conceded on a number of occasions as the game drew to a close. “To find ourselves 3-0 down was unbelievable because City only had three efforts on goal,” commented the deluded one-time Maine Road idol. “There was nothing between the teams in the first half. Still, we had them very worried in the second half and they were visibly tiring. And but for a magnificent save by Weaver from Marcelo near the end, it would have been 3-3.”

Cup Fourth Round – Coventry at Home: Manchester City have been rewarded with a home tie after Saturday’s FA Cup third round win over Birmingham. The Blues will take on fellow Premiership strugglers Coventry in the fourth round. It’s the fourth time the teams have been drawn together in English football’s premier knock-out competition. The Midlanders so far have the edge, having won the ties at Maine Road in January 1982 and at Highfield Road in January 1985. But City emerged victorious in the most recent Cup encounter, winning a home replay 2-1 in February 1996 after a 2-2 away draw. But Joe Royle will be hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself – Coventry avoided relegation that season, while the Blues slid into the First Division on goal difference. This season’s tie will take place on Saturday, 27th January.

Part II: Transfer News and Rumours

Fate of Lomas Deal Still Unclear: Manchester City and Everton have both had bids of £3.5 million accepted for West Ham skipper Steve Lomas. But neither club has yet spoken to the Northern Ireland international amid conflicting reports on the likelihood of a deal going through. It appears that Lomas will first have talks with Hammers’ boss Harry Redknapp – and that whether he then negotiates with interested parties depends on the outcome of those discussions. One source claims that the midfielder is intent on ensuring he receives contractual loyalty bonuses in full from the London club given that he hasn’t demanded a transfer. However, another report quotes Redknapp as saying he may offer the player an improved new contract in a bid to keep him at Upton Park.

City to Take a Cut if Lomas Opts for Everton: Manchester City will be quids in even if Steve Lomas opts to join Everton rather than making a move back to Maine Road. For the Blues inserted a sell-on clause in the deal when the midfielder left for Upton Park in 1997. Lomas remains City’s priority target, with Joe Royle dismissing reports that the Blues may instead switch their sights to Chelsea’s Dennis Wise as “pure speculation”. But if the 26-year-old decides he’d prefer to move to Everton, City will take a reported cut of £700,000 – it’s said that the Maine Road club are entitled to 20% of any fee the Hammers receive for the Northern Ireland man. Latest reports claim that a wrangle between the player and the Londoners over loyalty payments could be a barrier to the Lomas deal, though the Blues are thought to be prepared to meet some of the Hammers’ obligations to the City old boy.

Move for Wise If Lomas Deal Collapses?: Manchester City still want to make Steve Lomas their next signing. But more than one media source is claiming that the Blues may switch their sights to Dennis Wise if the move for the Northern Ireland man falls through. Wise is unhappy at Chelsea after being omitted from the senior side for the New Year clash against Aston Villa. And despite comments from Joe Royle distancing himself from the speculation, reports continue to mention the Blues, together with West Ham, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and Blackburn, in connection with the 34-year-old Wise. Meanwhile, Nottingham Forest have had a £2.5 million bid for rumoured recent City target David Johnson turned down by Ipswich. However, the Suffolk club are reported to be willing to sell the ex-Bury striker if the price is right and it’s said in some quarters that the player is still harbouring hopes of a move to the Blues – despite Joe Royle’s recent signing of striker Darren Huckerby.

Nash to Sign Despite Wolves’ Interest?: New Wolverhampton Wanderers boss Dave Jones says he’d like to sign Stockport goalkeeper Carlo Nash. But even though no deal has yet been done with their First Division neighbours, Manchester City are still expected to land the 27-year-old this week. Nash is out of contract in the summer so Stockport are prepared to sell him now, and Jones has publicly expressed an interest in a permanent deal for the ex-Crystal Palace star, who had a successful loan spell at Molineux earlier in the season. Meanwhile, Edgeley Park boss Andy Kilner claimed no agreement for the goalkeeper’s transfer has yet been reached with the Blues. “No deal has been done,” said Kilner. “I was flabbergasted that someone at City has gone and told the radio and the newspapers that it has all been sorted out.” However, in an interview with local radio station BBC GMR on Saturday, the former male model confirmed he expected his appearance in Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Preston to be his last for County – and that he was looking forward to the challenge of earning a place in the City side ahead of Nicky Weaver.

Crooks to go Back to Northampton: Lee Crooks returned to Manchester City at the weekend after picking up an injury in the second match of his loan spell at Northampton. But the 22-year-old should have recovered in a fortnight – and he’ll then rejoin the Cobblers. Though used primarily at full-back by City in recent times, Crooks made his début for Northampton in midfield on Boxing Day. And the player impressed in the 2-0 win over Bristol City – so boss Kevin Wilson was disappointed when he picked up an ankle knock in the next game against Wycombe. But now Wilson is looking forward to welcoming back the Wakefield-born utility man, who will stay on loan until mid-March. “I think everyone can see since Lee has been here that he is a very good player,” explained the one-time Derby and Chelsea striker. “He is a tough, strong lad, but he can also put his foot on the ball and pass it around. I would like to thank Joe Royle for his assistance.”

Taylor Eyeing Summer Bosman Deal: Gareth Taylor has turned down the chance to join Luton Town on loan. And the Manchester Evening News reports that the player has his eye on a Bosman free transfer at the end of the season. Taylor went on loan last season to Port Vale and QPR but has shown no interest in a similar arrangement this season. The ex-Sheffield United star has been in prolific form in the City reserves this term, with ten goals in only seven starts, and reportedly hopes for a lucrative move when he’s out of contract in the summer.

Part III: Miscellaneous News and Views

Costa Rica Win Means More Travelling for Paulo: Paulo Wanchope was on the mark as Costa Rica beat Guatemala 5-2 in Saturday’s World Cup qualifying play-off in Miami. And that means the 24-year-old will have to fulfil three more international engagements this season. Wanchope will not be required at any time which directly conflicts with any City fixtures, and Costa Rica have so far shown no inclination to insist on their right to force him to miss any match within the five days preceding any of their competitive internationals. However, Joe Royle was concerned earlier in the season at the effect of the constant travelling on his leading marksman, who now faces a further three trips across the Atlantic this term. The Costa Rican’s play Honduras on February 28, between City’s trip to Newcastle and the home game with Southampton; Trinidad and Tobago on March 24, a free weekend in the Premiership; and USA on April 25, four days after the Blues face Manchester United.

Boss in Vow Over Home Form: Manchester City have won only three home league games so far this season. And Joe Royle knows that remedying his team’s poor form at Maine Road could hold the key to Premiership survival. Royle is reasonably satisfied with City’s performances on opposition grounds, with the last month bringing creditable displays at Chelsea, Aston Villa, Sunderland and Coventry. But he knows that most of the points needed for survival will have to be won at home. “We have to find a formula to make home advantage count,” reflected the City manager. “I don’t think it is a mental thing. Perhaps we have been too committed at times in trying to win games and left ourselves open at the back.”

Dickov’s Place Safe Despite Signings: Paul Dickov was left out of the Manchester City squad for the New Year’s Day game at Coventry. But Joe Royle insists that the Scot still has a future at Maine Road. Dickov saw Paulo Wanchope and Darren Huckerby earn the vote to start at Highfield Road. And with Shaun Goater and Shaun Wright-Phillips on the bench, the ex-Arsenal junior couldn’t even win a place among the substitutes. However, Royle says that the 27-year-old is still a valued member of the Blues’ squad. “His attitude and desire are a shining example to everyone at the club,” acknowledged the City manager. “No one ever puts in more effort.”

Wrigt-Phillips Set for A Rest: Joe Royle is delighted with the impact made by Shaun Wright-Phillips for Manchester City this season. But the Blues’ boss says it’s now time to give the youngster a rest. Royle has been impressed with the way Wright-Phillips has taken his chance after being given a first extended senior run in November and December. But he would have liked to give the player a break sooner – and would have done so but for injuries to Mark Kennedy, Kevin Horlock and Jeff Whitley. “Shaun needs a rest physically and mentally,” said the City manager, “and it was only because we didn’t have anyone else even resembling a midfield player fit to face Coventry City that he was on the bench last Monday.”

Morrison Delighted to be Back: Andy Morrison capped his return to the Manchester City side with a goal and a man-of-the-match display against Birmingham on Saturday. And the last three months have seen a remarkable turn-around in fortunes for the big defender. Earlier in the campaign, Morrison spent time on loan at both Blackpool and Crystal Palace. And the former Huddersfield star looked to have no future at Maine Road after Joe Royle signed several new defenders. Now things are looking up for the former club skipper – though he hasn’t forgotten his lowest ebb earlier in the campaign. “The low point was my fourth game [at Palace] when we had lost 1-0,” he recalled, “and my seven-year old son Arron rang me up to tell me he had dropped me from his school Dream Team and signed Jaap Stam instead!”

Huckerby and Howey Injuries Not Serious: Manchester City saw three players substituted through injury against Birmingham on Saturday. But the good news for Joe Royle is that at least two of the trio should be available for next week’s visit of Leeds. New signing Darren Huckerby limped off before half-time in his first Maine Road start, having taken a kick to his ankle. And the Blues then lost Gerard Wiekens and Steve Howey, both suffering from hamstring problems. Huckerby and Howey are both expected to be fit for the game against the Elland Road side, but Wiekens is also experiencing back pain and at this stage is rated as unlikely to play. Meanwhile, the Blues will play a behind-closed-doors friendly against Blackburn on Tuesday with a view to accelerating Paul Ritchie’s return to fitness.

Weaver Hails Maine Road Crowd: Nicky Weaver has been the subject of media criticism for his recent performances. But the Manchester City goalkeeper has retained the support of his club’s fans and was delighted with the reception he was given at Saturday’s home game against Birmingham. Weaver shrugged off the press comment and made a fine late save from Birmingham’s Marcelo to ensure his side’s passage to the FA Cup fourth round. And afterwards, the 21-year-old couldn’t speak highly enough of the Maine Road faithful. “I can’t praise them enough,” he said. “I got a good welcome which is what I needed and I didn’t hear one comment about me when there could have been. But I expected nothing less because they have been fantastic with me.”

Post Script

eBLUEPRINT: The original City fanzine is now online at with a top City news service, fans’ forum, online poll and new features set to be added over the coming weeks. Anyone wishing to contribute, advertise supporters’ meetings or make general comments should contact Frank Newton by e-mail at

Peter Brophy (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. BIRMINGHAM CITY, FA Cup 3rd Round, Saturday 6th January 2001

A promising afternoon started with the sun shining and the icy chill of last week week long gone. Today was to be no re-run of last Saturday when the freezing cold and inept performance led many to depart before the final whistle. Duly fortified by an excellent Chicken Chan Dani at the Tabak we made our way to Maine Road observing the pre-match ritual of devouring the Vimto lollies en route. I was unconcerned by the theory that the Chicken Chilli ratio had been reduced on this occasion to 3:2 thereby providing an omen for the scoreline. Interesting theory this one and the jury is still out, but suffice to say 5 were consumed when we routed Everton.

City lined up with practically the same team as the New Year’s Day game which showed an improved performance, albeit against Coventry: Weaver, Edghill, Dunne, Morrison, Howey, Granville, Haaland, Wiekens, Tiatto, Huckerby, Goater. We kicked off towards the North Stand. A fairly quiet start with us perhaps having the edge and then on 18 minutes Haaland earned us a corner, taken by Tiatto. I had been concerned about who would be our free kick/corner man given both Kennedy and Horlock are out. No worries here, superbly delivered and met superbly by Morrison’s head: thwack into the back of the net and that was it: Maine Road erupted and who better to open the scoreline? A few minutes later Huckerby went on one of his runs at the opposition defence, having met an accurately delivered pass by the Australian whippet near the halfway line, left them standing and smashed the ball into the back of the net from inside the box. Superb stuff, we now have a striker who will run at the defence and gives us confidence. Unfortunately an ankle injury meant he went limping off to be replaced by Dickov.

Just before half-time Haaland went on a run through from a Goater pass and was brought down by their ‘keeper. Now we’ve discovered what Haaland’s previous job was: a diver for the Norwegian navy. A penalty was awarded which led to some nervousness – who to take it? After a game of “paper, scissors, stone” the Goat stepped up. I can’t recall him taking one before, but he dispatched the ball perfectly and we were 3-0 up. Easy stuff. Then the comedy trio behind me started with “right, let’s get Bishop on and go for the draw”. 3 minutes later and sure enough: Wiekens off and on comes Bishop.

Into the second half and the team had obviously been given their bedtime cocoa instead of lucozade. Birmingham were all over us like a bad rash. Four attempts on goal, with Howey clearing one which Weaver had obviously not seen and all in all some pretty scrappy defending. On 57 minutes they got the goal they deserved from a poor clearance by Dickov. Howey then went off to be replaced by Prior. Two minutes later and they’d got another when Lazeridis was free to get his cross in to Adebola’s head. A soft goal and things were getting desperate.

At this point I got out the swear box. I’d originally done this for the Charlton game and managed to make £428. Unfortunately it’s an invisible one and most people are “on the slate”. By the end of the season I should have enough for a new car. Within 5 minutes I was at £72.

With bated breath and gnarled fingernails we hung on, Granville making a good run down the left, tried to cross to Dickov who couldn’t quite get to it, could have been 4-2. Birmingham then managed to give us another scare when Marcelo drove a long shot at goal causing Weaver to make a superb save and keep us from an embarrassing rematch. At home to Coventry in the next round, we should make it through to the last 16 and thereby give us the three results possible against them this season.

So once more City contrived to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I am not sure what the problems were with Wiekens and Howey, both had played well – the substitutions cannot have been a tactical move so can only presume some strain or other. The second half performance only served to prove how inept our midfield is. Haaland is absent too often, both physically and mentally. He ambles and the crowd were getting increasingly frustrated when he failed to run, move, make an effort for any of the throw-ins. I understand now my Leeds’ colleagues comments when we signed him. However, he could become our diving specialist and lead to some decisions in our favour. Fortunately with Morrison back, it makes no difference who wears the armband: we all know who does the job. Bishop brought very little to the game and I’m fed up with him waving his arms about calling for the ball and doing nothing with it. I am not convinced that Lomas is the answer, indeed I have heard from a very good source that he does not want to come back to City at all. It’s obviously in the hands of the managers concerned, but anybody coming in at this stage is going to be viewed as the solution to all our problems and it’s a damn hard mantle to take. I’m not for the dogs of war school, but more pride and passion from some of the players when pulling on the blue jersey would not go amiss.

Come on, a good performance this Saturday to do the double over Leeds. With three family members attending that game and their savouring the delights of the HH stand, we’ll have to decide just who merits the chicken chilli before the game.

Oh, and you lot behind me: keep the substitution suggestions out of it in future or you’re banned!

Heidi Pickup (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. BIRMINGHAM CITY, FA Cup 3rd Round, Saturday 6th January 2001

We don’t believe in making life easy for ourselves do we? A not-particularly-bumper crowd of just 19,380 turned out to watch this – Birmingham didn’t exactly sell all (or even half) of their tickets either. It must be really annoying for those people who sit in the North Stand to have to move from their normal seats for Cup games, only to see their seat firmly empty when the visiting team fails yet again to sell all their allocation. It didn’t half look strange with the wobbly “temporary” stands empty too.

Anyway, Edghill, Granville and Morrison all kept their places after their good performances at Coventry. City lined up with Weaver, Edghill, Morrison, Howey, Prior, Granville, Haaland, Wiekens, Tiatto, Huckerby and Goater. Edghill got a really good reception which was nice to see – maybe the ones who’d been barracking him so unfairly were the ones who didn’t bother turning up on Saturday? Referee was Matt Messias, who is always awful and who thoroughly lived up to the slagging off I gave him before the game started. There was no atmosphere in the ground at all, I can’t remember the last time it was so quiet. The game didn’t help – it was really scrappy in the first 15 minutes but even despite that the difference in quality between the two teams was remarkable. When City were in possession the players were looking for someone to pass the ball to – even if the pass was punting it 50 yards up field for Huckerby to run on to, it was still a pass and it was still intended for someone to run on to. Birmingham seemed content to just kick the ball up in the air and see where it landed. Considering there are only (technically anyway) half a dozen places between us and them in the league I was surprised at how big the gulf seemed to be.

City scored their first after 18 minutes. A cracking corner from Tiatto on the right (in front of the North Stand for those who want to know) was met by Andy Morrison’s head and smacked into the net. From the moment Big Andy rose, hippopotamus-like, in the penalty area we just knew it was going to be a goal. The bloke is awesome in the air and was all game – after a while the Brum centre forwards stopped bothering jumping as they knew Morrison would win the header before they even got close. Suddenly City started looking good. I don’t mean they were better than Birmingham, as they’d been that before scoring, but actually good. You remember what it was like – outplaying the opposition, winning the ball in midfield (I know you don’t believe me but it’s true!), running at the opposition defence – well Huckerby was anyway… It feels so strange having someone up front who runs at defenders and beats them. I know Dickov never stops running, but all it takes is for a defender to stand up in front of him and they’ll dispossess him – normally accompanied by lots of moaning from Dickov which referees unsurprisingly completely ignore. Huckerby, on the other hand, runs past defenders. Often. For one run Edghill passed the ball to him on the edge of the City penalty area. Huckerby then ran the entire length of the field before realising the rest of the team can’t run that fast – he had to pause to let someone else catch up with him so the momentum of the move was lost. Still, his goal when it came was great to watch. He picked the ball up on the half way line and just ran. He passed the entire Birmingham midfield, both the centre halves, then decided he could do it all again so did a lap of the pitch (OK I might be exaggerating a little here) before slotting the ball into the left hand corner of the net. Good goal. Unfortunately he went off not long after with a twisted ankle – hope it’s not serious as we look far better when he’s playing.

Goater then had the ball in the net with a sweet glancing header but had been called offside just previously. There were some shocking offside decisions in the game by the way by both linesmen. They weren’t biased, just bad.

City had a third just a couple of minutes before the break. Haaland was brought down in the area by the ‘keeper. There couldn’t be much complaint about the penalty (unlike some of the others we’ve seen at Maine Road recently) but who on earth was going to take it? Huckerby had just gone off, no Horlock on, wouldn’t fancy any of the centre halves to take it, can’t imagine Dickov wanting it, Goater can’t kick straight… Oh no Goater’s picked the ball up… Oh no he’s put it down on the spot… Aargh I can’t watch this… Luckily for all of us (especially considering what happened later) Goater ignored the crowd completely and wellied it really hard into the net. The ‘keeper got a hand to it but it was hit so hard there wasn’t much chance of him keeping it out. Amazing really, I don’t think anyone in the ground except Goater himself really believed he was going to score it. Good for him. The Goat was fed and he did score.

Half time then, the game was over. Easy this isn’t it, shall I leave now? The temptation to get an early start on the 4 hour drive home was great, I was very glad I didn’t succumb to it though, for City fell fast asleep for the first 20 minutes of the second half. We were rubbish. Birmingham came out more aggressively than they’d played at any point during the first half, and in response City fell to pieces. Wiekens didn’t start the second half and was replaced by Bishop, who, while he did play some nice balls (albeit sideways and backwards only) at the back of the midfield, is still a complete wuss when it comes to tackling. He lets his team mates down – on several occasions Tiatto had tackled a Brum midfielder and the ball was bobbling loose. On a 50-50 ball you’d at least want to see him trying, but he’s far too content to let the opposition pick up the ball then hope for them to misplace their next pass. Unfortunately Birmingham had decided to try to avoid doing that, so Bishop was left as too much of a spectator, time and time again. We had a couple of scares early on in the second half but City (as per flipping usual) seemed incapable of responding to them. Adebola put a cross over from the right that Johnson should have scored from as it completely evaded all of our defence; somehow he failed to make contact and it went out for a throw in. What you’d like to see your team doing when under pressure like this is calming the game down – slow it to the tempo you want, control the ball, make Birmingham have to fight for it, but above all keep possession. So don’t kick it out needlessly, don’t send long balls up front as there’s no one to run on to it any more, and certainly don’t expect our midfield to fight for possession if there’s an opposition player standing in front of them. It’s so frustrating to watch, they seem to forget everything they’ve ever been taught about how to play football as soon as they’re under the slightest bit of pressure. So it wasn’t too much of a surprise when Birmingham scored. The ball came away from Weaver’s goal to Grainger on the right hand edge of the area, who lobbed it into the net over Weaver’s head. Weaver said it got a deflection and it was a strange lack of reaction from him when the ball was hit, I’ll need to see it again though as I didn’t notice any deflection.

Less than 5 minutes later Birmingham scored their second – and boy was it coming. You’d think the first goal would have woken City up, but oh no let’s continue to play like park footballers ’cause it’s more exciting that way. Aaargh. This time the ball seemed to bounce around the area for ages waiting for someone to clear it before Adebola headed in from Lazaridis’s cross. And this time Weaver really should have been positioned better and saved it. A few minutes after that it was nearly three – Marcelo’s rasping shot was heading for the top left corner but somehow (phew) Weaver managed to get his hand to it to push it behind for a corner. A truly awesome save, hopefully that will do his confidence some good and he can get back to being as good as he used to be.

After that the game died as a contest. It was nervy but thinking back on it we didn’t look like we were going to concede another. Goater should have had a second late on when his shot from a narrow angle on the right flashed across the goal and past the post (I remember him scoring from a far narrower angle than that last year so there’s no excuse for him missing this one). Five minutes later Dickov did exactly the same; you’d think they’d learn wouldn’t you? Finally the ref blew and we all sighed a huge sigh of relief.

Morrison won the man of the match award, not surprisingly as you couldn’t give it to any of the midfield or forwards once Huckerby had had to leave the pitch. Edghill had a good solid game and I was really pleased to see him back, some of his passing was really good although he needs to improve his fitness if he’s going to stay in the game. Granville was a bit shaky at times but got more into the game later on, as did Tiatto – Bishop should get some tackling tips from Tiatto, you know when he goes in for a 50-50 challenge he’ll come out of it with the ball. It was a relief to go through as I really thought we’d lose this one, but I’d have swapped it for three points in the league any day.

Sharon Hargreaves


Weaver (7): One superb save. I don’t think he could do anything about B’ham’s first goal as it was simply a brilliant shot curved in from outside the box – totally unexpected.
Edghill (7): Solid performance, no errors. Then again, he didn’t look like he’d been told to be a wing back.
Granville (7): Gets caught upfield, but unlike Charvet and Edghill, he really can make a difference and create goal-scoring opportunites when going forward.
Dunne (6): OK but nothing startling.
Morrison (8): Watson-esque header and a solid performance at the back. The back three are still finding their feet and should improve.
Howey (8): Classy centre back.
Tiatto (6): Strangely quiet today, not as busy as usual and didn’t really create anything going forward.
Wiekens: Broke up B’ham’s attacks quite well but they are a Division 1 outfit. I don’t think you can stand 3 yards off a Premiership midfielder and allow them to pass where they want and when they want.
Haaland (5): What does Haaland do? He doesn’t tackle much, he doesn’t get forward much, he can’t pass? Answers on an email to…
Goater (5): Off the pace but did get a couple of half chances.
Huckerby (9): Scared the B’ham defenders to death. His pace is astonishing; pity that he had to go off.


Dickov (3): Totally ineffective. Didn’t run much and that’s 95% of his game.
Bishop (4): Toooooo slow, by miles! He constantly asks for the ball and then runs sideways across the park and back again – why?
Prior (4): Replaced Howey and looked half the player. He was beaten several times by B’ham forwards (mainly Adebola) but luckliy had Morrison to sweep up for him.

My pet theory is that all our ills stem from our totally lacklustre midfield: they have neither the guile or skill to create anything going forward, nor are they capable of effectively breaking up other teams’ offensive intentions, thus putting the defence under undue pressure. I was astonished to hear Barnesy (Peter) on GMR talking about the lack of creativity, stating that we had enough hard tacklers and ball winners. For me this simply isn’t true. Our only two ball winners/tacklers are Whitley and Tiatto. Is it really surprising that our recent run of poor results coincides with Jeff Whitley’s absence? For me he’s our ‘key’ midfielder, he harries, wins the ball, passes and runs into space. Too many of the others stand-off the opposition and wait for them to make a mistake – Haaland, Bishop, Wiekens and Horlock are all guilty of this. Solve the midfield problem and we’ll make a big step forward.



This week in City’s past:

Jan. 9th: Tony Book got the winner in City’s 1-0 win at home to Crystal Palace in 1971.
Jan. 10th: FA Cup third round, 1953-City beat Swindon Town 7-0; Johnny Hart scored 4.
Jan. 11th: In a 1941 war-time fixture vs. Rochdale, someone called Currier hit five goals for the second time in a week (he only ever turned out for City during the war – anyone know who he played for before?).
Jan. 12th: Rodney Marsh and Denis Law were the scorers in City’s 1974 2-0 win over Leicester.
Jan. 13th: FA Cup 1926 City beat the Corinthians 4-0. 1999: Terry Cooke arrives on loan.
Jan. 14th: Gary Megson got the winner on his début at Oldham, 1-0 in 1989.
Jan. 15th: In 1930, City’s Matt Busby scored twice in the 4-1 Cup win over Spurs. Also on this date, City beat Workington 2-1 away in the Cup, the only time they ever played each other. This week also saw a 3-1 defeat by Birmingham in the third round of the Cup in 1929. Just as that didn’t prove to be an omen for City’s encounter with the Brummies last Saturday, it’s to be hoped that the 1964 0-1 defeat by Leeds will be no guide to City’s game with the Yorkshire b******s next weekend.

Ken Corfield (


Our next branch meeting. It will be held on Tuesday 9th January at Morley Cricket Club. Our guest will be Chris Bird. Start time 8pm. Further info from Simon Clegg on 07968 526658.

Simon Clegg (


The next meeting of the Reddish Branch of the Centenary Supporters’ Association will be on Wednesday 10th January at The Ash Hotel, Manchester Road, Stockport starting at 8.00pm and as usual all Blues will be made more than welcome. T 0161 292 2525.

Howard Burr, Secretary (


Surely it is time to stop making excuses – where were we two years ago doesn’t hold much ice any more – we are not a small club like Stockport County – we have been consistently getting 30,000 plus crowds and have been receiving big money from Sky.

Our stadium, although not ideal capacity wise, would be the envy of ninety-eight percent of the Nationwide League, so what is going wrong? Ipswich and Charlton seem to be doing all right so moving up a grade hasn’t been such a big transition – and let’s be realistic, we should have buried Ipswich in the League Cup; after twenty minutes it should have been four-nil.

I have been one of Joe’s biggest critics – but now is the time for everyone to get behind the team; it would be nice to have a good cup run – but let’s concentrate on the league and make our own luck. We seem to have lady luck against us, but over a season things even themselves out – so let’s get behind Joe and his team, let’s shut up the boo boys and if you are at a match and they are on somebody’s back, just encourage the players by shouting louder and singing better – it’s all uphill from here but get behind the team and we shall prevail.

No I haven’t lost the plot because I remember Villa in the late seventies; they were a club of similiar stature and just like us were playing third grade opponents but they made no excuses – just got on with it and ended up European champions – so remember where we are now not where we were two seasons ago and give it your all till the end of the season – who knows what will happen?

John Mcfarlane (


Let’s face it, it is time to prepare ourselves for Nationwide Division One football next season. Despite Mr. Royle’s purchases of great players such as Charvet, Haaland, Wanchope etc., we have to start facing reality. We’re halfway through the season and the only team behind us in the table is Bradford – the final half of the season isn’t exactly looking promising.

I am not usually a pessimist; in fact, had I been asked in the pre-season, I would have forecasted a tremendous season for the Blues, but now that doesn’t seem likely. The headline “Wake up and smell the Nationwide” was given to me by a friend (Adrian from Blackpool, who is a Rag). He sent it to me as an SMS following City’s 1-4 demise against Charlton. Even though I hate to listen to the Rags’ constant scorning of MCFC, I am finding it hard not to believe City playing against W.B.A., Wolves etc. next season.

By the way, who says it isn’t for the best if we get relegated? Charlton did get relegated two years ago and they were apparently able to make the most of their year in the D1 last season.

Bottom line, if City do get relegated, let’s hope that big Joe will be able to keep the side together and get promoted once again into a much more successful Premiership spell.

The only thing I know for sure is that no matter in which division City are playing in a year’s time, I’ll still be there! Let’s just hope for another Premier League season!

P.S. If Mr. Royle is looking for a decent player, how does Brian Steen Nielsen sound? He has just rejected AB’s latest contract offer, and I do believe he was linked with City not too far ago.

CTID! Kasper Nymand, Copenhagen, Denmark (


So Xmas has come and gone and a potential 7-point Christmas ended with just 2 points and 2nd from the bottom. Was it me who said, after the Everton Super Show, and the credible result at Villa that Christmas could lift us out of the relegation zone?

The Derby game is now totally unmemorable, and that’s not Chrissy booze, just a very dire 90 minutes, and that was followed by the Charlton, ‘let’s play Santa day’, against a pretty average team.

So with a few lingering New Year’s Eve headaches we ventured to Coventry knowing JR would ‘ring the changes’. It’s got to be 20 or 30 years since we sampled the delights of Highfield Road. How can a ground surrounded by so much housing have so few pubs? Having decided not to pay £2 to get in the Sky Blue Tavern I accosted various CCFC fans for a pub. Thanks to the Coventry fan who said follow me we ended up in (I think) the Birney Oak. The prospect of watching City without any ‘liquid bread’ was thankfully relieved.

We took our seats (or standing in our case) in the higher echelons of the Away Stand, saw the ‘Invisible Man’ (nice one!) and viewed our heroes warming up. “That’s Edgy warming up, Joe’s brought him along to get him back into it”; 5 minutes later Reg trots out and what a reception he got. How good it was to see him rob Craig Bellamy (don’t take the p**s out of me twice) and to see Big Andy’s authority in the middle. Two points lost I think but a gutsy performance.

I heard Nicky Weaver on GMR this morning (Sunday). He knows he’s had a lean spell; at the end of the day he’s a young guy who’s come a hell of a way in a short time – it’s a pity we can’t bottle the atmosphere at away games and play it over the tannoy at Maine Road to shut out the whingers and moaners. This year we have had 12 or 13 players who have played or been on the bench who featured in the 2nd Division. Our signings have mainly bolstered the defence though to me the jury is still out on Charvet and Alfinge. Those people who say we only buy players that other Premiership teams don’t want should ‘get real’. Apart from the fact regular members of Premiership teams are unavailable to buy, a Henry, Scholes etc. would cost an arm and a leg. Better I think to survive this season and build on that. We’ve come a long way in a short time – maybe too quickly.

So we have just under half a season to turn it around. Earlier I mentioned bottling the away atmosphere. We need more of that. Those who come to Maine Road and spend 90 minutes saying “total c**p”, “load of s**t”, “Royle’s lost it” etc. should stay away. There’s loads of people out there who due to location or lack of money etc. would love to be at Maine Road. Enough said.

And so to Birmingham (FAC3). Unusual Day – SWP getting a well deserved rest. Edghill and Granville keeping their places after solid performances at Coventry. Disappointing attendance. But on the day most crowds were down (Sunderland around 30,000) and the fact that this was our 3rd home game within 3 weeks perhaps it was expected. It’s not often on a Saturday afternoon at 2.00pm you see the bar staff in the ‘Whitty’ waiting to serve people.

Huckerby looked pretty good, finds space, runs at players and though a bit greedy, causes problems. The first half was an unusual experience – being relaxed at Maine Road! Andy Andy Andy Andy Morrison started the first half slaughter with a thundering header from Tiatto’s corner. The lively Huckerby ran into the box: “surely he’s going to pass to the Goat?” No; he carries on and scores a super goal. The Goat, I think feeling cheated by Huckerby, by not scoring the second goal took it upon himself to take the penalty (it was a foul but you made it look good Alfie!). With his boost of confidence the Goat ‘got’ a super headed 4th goal – only to be given offside.

Birmingham started the second half by pretty quickly kicking the ball into touch. It should be 4 or 5 I thought – but we don’t want to give you that! So it changed; I think our enforced substitutions unsettled the rhythm and Bish’s passing (to be polite) was erratic. A looping shot over Weaver meant that Birmingham suddenly had a lifeline and when Andy’s high attempted clearance dropped kindly for them we had a Cup-tie to watch. A good effort from Marcelo (or is it Marcello?) brought a super save from Weaver and realistically that was the end of the Brummie revival. During the last 10-15 minutes we came back into it, and two convertible (or so it seemed from the North Stand) chances from similar positions were wasted by Dickov and Goater.

Top Performances:

Even semi-fit and quiet by his standards – Tiatto
A Captain in all but name – Andy Morrison
Always threatened the defence – Huckerby
Granville & Edgy – I like that combination

I don’t want to join the Edghill debate but he always was a good defender, still is a good defender, and always will be a good defender. So with 4 months to resurrect our Premiership season and still in the FA Cup, I think the nerve-ends will be tingling.

Richard Cooper via Andy Noise (


I was wondering if you could help me? Do you know how to get the Blue Moon ring tune on to your Nokia phone? Do you know if I could get it for free! Thanks.

Louise Derbyshire (


League table to 07 January 2001 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  22  9  1  1 31  6  6  4  1 20 10 15  5  2 51 16  35  50
 2 Arsenal         22  9  2  0 30  7  2  4  5  8 15 11  6  5 38 22  16  39
 3 Sunderland      22  8  3  0 16  5  3  3  5 13 17 11  6  5 29 22   7  39
 4 Ipswich Town    22  5  4  2 17 10  6  0  5 16 16 11  4  7 33 26   7  37
 5 Liverpool       21  9  1  1 25  8  2  2  6 14 18 11  3  7 39 26  13  36
 6 Leicester City  21  6  3  2 16 12  4  2  4  8 11 10  5  6 24 23   1  35
 7 Charlton Ath.   22  7  3  1 18  7  2  1  8 13 29  9  4  9 31 36  -5  31
 8 Newcastle Utd   22  6  2  3 15 11  3  2  6 10 19  9  4  9 25 30  -5  31
 9 Chelsea         21  8  2  1 29 10  0  4  6  9 17  8  6  7 38 27  11  30
10 West Ham United 21  4  4  2 17  9  3  4  4 14 15  7  8  6 31 24   7  29
11 Aston Villa     20  4  4  1 14  7  3  4  4  9 12  7  8  5 23 19   4  29
12 Tottenham H.    22  8  3  0 22  9  0  2  9  8 25  8  5  9 30 34  -4  29
13 Southampton     22  6  1  4 18 15  1  5  5 10 19  7  6  9 28 34  -6  27
14 Leeds United    20  6  1  4 20 15  1  4  4  7 13  7  5  8 27 28  -1  26
15 Derby County    22  4  5  2 14 15  1  3  7 10 21  5  8  9 24 36 -12  23
16 Everton         21  3  3  4 13 14  3  1  7  8 19  6  4 11 21 33 -12  22
17 Coventry City   22  2  4  5  8 15  3  2  6 13 22  5  6 11 21 37 -16  21
18 Middlesbrough   22  2  4  5 10 16  2  4  5 13 14  4  8 10 23 30  -7  20
19 Manchester City 22  3  2  6 16 15  2  3  6 11 23  5  5 12 27 38 -11  20
20 Bradford City   21  2  4  4 10 14  1  2  8  6 24  3  6 12 16 38 -22  15

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 #673