Newsletter #676

A fairly quiet few days since MCIVTA 675, with the only developments of note being the loaning of Tommy Wright to Bolton and interest from Miami Fusion in Ian Bishop. The only other story gracing the airwaves was the hijacking of a 606 poll on Joe Royle’s future, supposedly by those fun-loving and mischievous little urchins from Old Trafford. GMR are today reporting that Huckerby and Whitley are only 50:50 for the trip to Derby, which I sincerely hope is a bit of brinksmanship on the part of JR.

This issue has Peter’s News; a ‘Shirts to Zambia’ update; a query re the rather heavy-handed policing we have seen of late at Maine Road; a review of the latest City Mag; and plenty of opinion – at last!

Next game: Derby County away, Saturday 20th January 2001


My work commitments this week have meant that I was unexpectedly away on Thursday. As a result, this summary contains only stories from Tuesday and Wednesday, though some of these may have been superseded by the time MCIVTA 676 hits your inbox.

Part I: Transfer News and Rumours

Wright in Bolton Loan Switch: Tommy Wright has lost his place on the Manchester City bench following the arrival of Carlo Nash as understudy to Nicky Weaver. And the Northern Ireland goalkeeper has now made a three-month loan move away from Maine Road. Wright has joined for Bolton, who have lost Jussi Jaaskelainen for the rest of the season with a knee injury. Deputy Steve Banks will fill in, but the First Division promotion chasers need temporary cover for the ex-Blackpool player. Trotters’ boss Sam Allardyce is delighted to have landed a man he describes as “just the man I was looking for” – although with new boy Nash cup-tied for next week’s game against Coventry, the move means City will have to rely on rookie Richard McKinney as substitute goalkeeper against Gordon Strachan’s side.

Barnsley and Miami Join Bishop Chase: Ian Bishop is set to leave Manchester City after the Blues agreed to release him on a free transfer. But it’s not yet clear as to which club the midfielder will join. Bishop had talks with Sheffield Wednesday at the end of last week, and the South Yorkshire outfit were thought to be in pole position to clinch his services. But the 35-year-old has not yet agreed to the Hillsborough switch and there have been reports that Burnley, Bury, Gillingham and Tranmere are also keen to sign him. And it emerged on Wednesday that Barnsley had joined the chase for the ex-West Ham star, while Miami Fusion have also been strongly linked with the player – who is expected to decide on his future in the next few days.

Argentinian Now Heads for Everton: Manchester City denied last week that they would be offering a trial to defender Julian Maidana. But he did after all arrive at Maine Road – only to leave again quickly. The Argentinian reportedly featured in last month’s reserve friendly against Blackburn – at the same time as the Blues were rubbishing newspaper reports that the player would train with the club with a view to a £1 million move. However, Maidana failed to impress and it’s now claimed he’s set for a trial with Everton. It remains unclear why City, with countless centre backs on the books, were interested in another player who reportedly fills this rôle.

Part II: Other News and Views

Joe Safe Despite Phone-In Plot: Callers to a national radio phone-in have been suggesting that Manchester City should part company with Joe Royle. But it appears that those urging the Blues to part company with their manager are not fans of the Maine Road club. The 606 phone-in on Radio Five Live has recently take calls from a succession of supposed City fans claiming that Royle’s services should be dispensed with. But after monitoring the calls, the station has concluded that the contributors are in fact mischievous Manchester United fans. “We have to be guided by the radio stations themselves and they have noticed a bit of a pattern,” said City director Chris Bird. “[But] Joe has done a remarkable job here and will be given the time to get things right.”

Royle Contemplates Fifteen-Game Season: Manchester City have fifteen games remaining to save their Premiership lives. And Joe Royle knows exactly what he wants from his team between now and the end of the season. Royle has seen his side win only one of the last thirteen Premiership fixtures. So the Blues’ boss knows that a dramatic improvement in form will be necessary if the club is to avoid an instant relegation. And the man who has been in comparable situations before at both Oldham and Everton feels that another eighteen points from the remaining matches will be enough to clinch safety. “We know exactly what is in front of us and what we need to do,” he vowed. “There is no way we can rely on anyone but ourselves and we are determined to pull through.”

Kernaghan Set to Quit Through Injury: Alan Kernagham is set to retire from football. The former Manchester City player has spent the last three years at St Johnstone but a persistent pelvic injury has now ended his career. Kernaghan was a big money signing for the Blues in September 1993, but, after an unhappy four-year stay at Maine Road, moved to the Scottish Premier league outfit, initially on loan and then on a free transfer. The former Irish international once expressed his pleasure at the City’s plight as they languished in Division Two, claiming that the club had wrecked his career. Meanwhile, the 33-year-old’s one-time defensive colleague Rae Ingram, has been transfer-listed by Macclesfield.

Haaland Makes Up With Old Boss: As Manchester City prepared to take on Leeds last Saturday, morning newspapers reported that Alfie Haaland had made critical comments about David O’Leary’s side. But the Norwegian has contacted his former boss to clarify his remarks. Haaland was much criticised for his analysis on his personal website of his former club’s disappointing season. But the City skipper says he was quoted out of context – and was particularly disappointed at being mocked by pundits on BBC TV’s Match of the Day. However, the 27-year-old says he’s happier now he’s explained the episode to O’Leary over the phone. “I tried to give a balanced view on how I saw the situation at Leeds,” explained the ex-Nottingham Forest player. “It was important to me that they knew how I really felt. I have got great respect for what David has done at Leeds and it was never my intention to have a go at him.”

Part III: Reserve and Youth Team News

Reserve and Youth Games Called Off: Manchester City were supposed to be in action at both reserve and youth level on Tuesday. But both games fell victim to the weather, with a frozen pitch ensuring a postponement in each case. The City reserves were due to take on Everton at Hyde. And Paul Ritchie will be particularly disappointed that the game didn’t take place – the Scot was hoping to continue on the comeback trail against the Merseysiders after a two-month injury absence. Meanwhile, the FA Youth Cup fourth round tie at Luton was also called off

Home Tie Next if Youngsters Get Through: Manchester City’s youngsters will have a home tie if they win through to the next round of the FA Youth Cup. The winner of the Blues’ match against Luton will welcome Coventry or Crewe. City and the Hatters were due to play their fourth round tie on Tuesday, only to see the match postponed due to a frozen pitch. As yet, there’s no news of the rearranged date, but the official club website at reports that, if City win through, the fifth round game is likely to be played on February 10th.

Part IV: Derby Away, Team News and Preview

City in Vital Six-Pointer: Manchester City face a first ever league visit to Pride Park on Saturday. And the Blues know that the game at Derby could be critical to their hopes of surviving in the Premiership this term. City are three points behind their struggling hosts and know that they can’t afford to see the gap extended this weekend. But visits to the East Midlands club haven’t been successful for the Blues down the years – the club’s last win away to Derby came in 1969-70. But City have played only once at the Rams’ new stadium – a little over two years ago, when as a Second Division side they managed a creditable 1-1 scoreline in a League Cup tie, only to lose the second leg. Another draw is the least Joe Royle and his side need on this occasion.

Royle Hoping for Double Fitness Boost: Joe Royle is hoping to welcome two injured players back for the weekend trip to Derby. Gerard Wiekens and Darren Huckerby are both back in training after missing the weekend defeat by Leeds. Both men were substituted in the FA Cup win against Birmingham and had failed to recover fully when David O’Leary’s men visited Maine Road a week later. And Royle will be anxious to have Huckerby in particular available for the trip to Pride Park. The ex-Coventry player’s pace has added another dimension to the City attack in his three games so far, and he could have a crucial rôle in the battle to avoid relegation.

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 (


It has been widely reported in all the national papers that a group of Stretford Rangers fans are attempting to de-stabalise our club by mounting a ‘Joe Royle Out’ campaign. This is especailly prevelant in after match phone ins. There is however a far more sinister plot concerning the rumours currently in circulation about the ‘Ginger Project’. The hype is basically saying it is something that will change mankind etc. Well I can in fact reveal that it is in fact nothing more than the aforementioned Stretford Rangers fans attempting to get alan ball re-instated as manager. Now I know things are bad but they are never that bad! The truth is out there, you just have to know where to look!

Nigel Pickles (


More fantastic news. British Airways have confirmed they will ship all the kit we collect free of charge. This is a huge boost to a phenomenal campaign so far.

Thanks for all your top support. Keep the shirts coming in. I can now move onto planning the promotion for when the kits arrive this side.

Great news from British Airways!

Come on City boys on the pitch now.

Dave Clinton (


This first meeting of the new year for the Essex & Suffolk branch of the Centenary Supporters’ Association will take place on Friday January 19th, at our alternative venue of Seabright’s Barn Galleywood, Essex from 8:30 pm (due to refurbishment of the Duke of Welly).

All are welcome to attend. We have a copy of City’s new video “Maine Road to Glory” to raffle on the night. Be advised also that we are running a coach to the Derby County game on the Saturday. There are still some seats available on the coach. Interested? Drop me a line.

Paul Gallagher, Chairman/Secretary, Essex & Suffolk Branch CSA (


We’re meeting on Thursday, January 25th, kick off 8pm at the Great Brickhill Cricket Club. All members and not-yet-members welcome of course!

We will be holding the prize quiz which was left over from the November 30th meeting last year. Also still hoping to be able to get Lee Crooks as special guest (not booked yet though, still trying).

Any queries, directions needed etc., give me a shout.

Steve Maclean (


Milton Keynes Branch of the OSC are gathering in massive numbers to support the Youth Team when they play at Luton on Monday; this is the rearranged match after the cancellation of Jan 16th (frozen pitch).

We’re meeting up in the “Bedfordshire Yeoman” at 6-30 (7pm kick off).

We’d like to completely fill the ground, but we’re a bit short (I’m only 5′ 5”)… So if you’re anywhere near the area, come along and join us! Give me a call if you want more details (01327 350411).

Steve Maclean (


I am writing this to see if anyone else also has comments to make about the policing at Maine Road after the débâcle that was the Leeds game. It seems to be that each week, the police are stepping up their presence at the ground in order to make it harder and harder for normal, law-abiding City fans to go about their enjoyment of the game. First, there has been the decision to allow away fans out of the ground at the same time as the home fans. The police seem happy to have two different sets of supporters go past each other at a narrow point (between the North Stand and Kippax) whilst further exacerbating the situation by parking the coaches and their police vans there as well.

Then, there was the strange decision to position police, in flak jackets and helmets, in the food court and bar areas in the Kippax, for the Birmingham game. I don’t know if they were also in other food areas but what was the point of this? Are City fans actually going to start fighting amongst themselves at half-time? Then, there is the gantry at the edge of the Kippax from where police are videoing the fans as they go past. What is this all about? What are they looking for? What type of equipment is being used and for what purpose? If it is to stop hooligans or or to record violence, let’s hope they use state of the art equipment that can pick out facial features perfectly in the early evening gloom because I would hate to be wrongly accused of anything.

Finally, there was the abject performance at the Leeds game. Not only were the away fans locked in but the police responded by erecting a three layer barrier between North Stand and Kippax comprised of police horses and police in riot gear. They were not allowing anyone through this barrier, including the dozen or so kids I saw who were supposed to be meeting family members around that spot. They gave no reasons for this, other than the fact they were doing their job. They then directed people through the coaches only to find that there were more police here with further barricades blocking off the small alleys. Basically, the only way out of the Kippax was to go to Yew Tree Road and then onto Claremont Road. Even the smaller alleys around the ground contained lines of police, in full riot gear.

I want to know what other City fans think of this situation as I find it totally abhorrent. I am in now way condoning violence but there were nearly 35,000 there on Saturday and it is only a very small minority that actually cause any trouble (although I have yet to see it at Maine Road). Why is it that the vast majority of us get treated like animals, told to move on, to shut up, get laughed at, get videoed for no good reason and get threatened with arrest for asking questions about our democratic rights?

The only answer I could get out of the police was that the officer in charge of policing for Maine Road is Superintendent Holt of Greenheys police station, Moss Side. I encourage and implore other City fans to write to this man and demand an explanation for the policing levels, attitude and strategy.

Forever Blue, Martin Rajah (


To The Tune Of Eminem’s “Stan”…

Dear Mr Royle. You don’t really know me man.
My name’s Dan, and I’m Man City’s biggest fan.
I’m writing just to thank you for my Premiership ticket.
It really is a bargain man, at that price who can lick it?
When they first went on sale, I queued up all night in the cold.
The lady said I didn’t need to. How many have you sold?
Whatever, I don’t care, this’ll be a season to remember.
We’re a class above the rest, we’ll be Champions by December.
We’re gonna thrash United twice and probably the scousers too.
I’ve gotta hand it to you Joe, the credit goes to you.

It’s all gone wrong, I’m wondering why. It looks like we might fall.
It’s not only that we can’t win though. We can’t get points at all.
No explanation from the club so, I’ve took their picture off my wall.
It keeps reminding me things are really bad and it makes me mad.

Dear Mister “We’re too poor to even phone or write our fans”, This’ll be the last but one package I ever send your ass.
You promised us Europe, it looks like we’re gonna spurn it.
You made out it was easy, no one said we had to earn it.
Massive Club my ass, you know I really ought to sue.
But instead I’ll send my ticket, I’ll be returning it to you.
See I just can’t stand the thought of seeing us in Division Two
It’s the Premiership or nothing Joe, things will be better without you.

Dear Dan, I’m sorry we haven’t had the chance to write to you much quicker,
We’ve had to lose some players, it’s made our outfit ‘slicker’.
I think the players are trying Dan, I don’t think that’s an issue,
They’re doing the best they can, not losing matches just to ‘dis you’.
With our young crop of talent, I’m sure we’ll soon be at the top,
All these nasty calls and letters have simply got to stop.
For instance, at the moment there’s a story going round,
About a fan who rang and said he’d parcel-bomb the ground.
From what I can remember I think his name was Dan too.
In fact, now I come to think about it. It was you. (BOOM!) Damn!

Harry Neary (


Cover picture

SUPERKEV – Article on Kevin Horlock by Mike Barnett

If someone had asked me who I thought the ever present for this season was, I would have had to resort to “cheating” and looking in the match magazine! Apparently it’s Lurch… sorry, Alfie! SuperKev was a mainstay last season, always reliable with his trusty left peg at free kicks and penalties and most of the fans’ choice to be the automatic name pencilled in first on every team sheet. At the time of writing Kev has been sidelined with a broken bone in his foot – no, not as a result of some aggressive walking but a severe clattering which went unpunished! I for one miss the man – IMHO he always gives 100% and I feel our midfield is missing his presence greatly. Kev seems to have realised that there is little room for error in the Premiership, one false move and you could find yourself out of the team. He also realises that a player may not be at a team for too long but I think we’d be mad to ever get rid of him.

HE’S GOT THE KEY OF THE DOOR – Article on Jeff Whitley by Chris Bailey

Hands up those of you who call Jeff, Jim or vice versa – yes, my hand is firmly in the air! Jeff’s progress in the first team after spells out on loan have been well documented and he really has done well since he came back and knuckled down. As the article says he now has an added maturity which is helping his all round game. Like Dicky he will chase everything and has been known to score the odd goal – normally a screamer which you think is going to end up somewhere in Row Z! I for one am delighted he’s grabbed his chance with both hands and hope he will remain an integral part of our first team (wherever we end up!) for many years to come – at least time is on his side.


I wouldn’t normally mention this but I was highly relieved to find out I wasn’t imagining things at the Villa away game – someone else has kindly confirmed that Jeff Whitley’s surname was spelt incorrectly on his shirt! Phew – thought I had to make another visit to get my lenses updated! OK own up, who did it?!

DON’T CALL HIM DAVOR! – Mike Barnett interviews Chris Shuker

Can’t say I’ve seen him much; due to work commitments I can’t make any reserve games. Having been rejected by his local clubs for being too small, he is now doing an NVQ in motor vehicle maintenance while scoring goals for fun for the reserves. He is one to look for in the future, you never know he may even get to sit on the bench with SWP this season (depending on how the first team does later on). He can get experience of working with the first team at training.


This was Mike’s match report on City’s match vs. Fulham and the replay (which we won) – Luton away to come!

KEEPING IT IN RESERVE – Asa and the Reserves by Mike Barnett

Mike continues his hectic schedule by interviewing our (London) Branch President, Asa Hartford, on his rôle with the reserves. Asa is relishing his job both with the reserves and the first team and also the prospect of youngsters like Chris Suker and Rhys Day meeting players with Premiership experience. He also clarified that just because they won the Pontin’s League last year didn’t give them automatic promotion to the FA Premier Reserve League – that was down to the first team’s promotion! Let’s hope the first team do the business and stay there! Asa also clarified that Joe picks the team due to injuries, etc. Asa admits motivation for those due to be transferred is down to their pride more than anything and that Joe and Willie very rarely miss a reserve game either home or away plus the fact the reserves now train with the first team at Carrington so they can be kept under close scrutiny. Asa also has the task of sorting out who has progressed and who hasn’t. As for first team match days Asa is happy to stay in the background even though he has been a manager himself – he leaves the talking to Joe and Willie. Just keep up the good work Asa – you’re doing a grand job!

CENTREFOLD – Calendar 2001

The only problem with football calendars is IMHO either that they are printed early which means that maybe May & September’s “faces” are now plying their trade elsewhere or you start having a bet with your mates over which likely “face” will have gone by the time their fizzog appears on your wall! Any takers for this year yet?

GOING FOR GOALS – report on Darren Huckerby

I must admit I was pleased that Dazza is now with us. ‘Im indoors isn’t impressed – mind you I can’t remember the last time any of our purchases did make him leap out of his chair with excitement! OK, possibly Steve Howey of the latest lot then! Mind you having to come on when we were 2-0 down in the Charlton débâcle, I wouldn’t have blamed DH for wondering why the hell he decided to move to us, but he got a penalty, made Paulo’s goal vs. Coventry and scored a corker against Birmingham (apologies if I am running too far ahead here) before getting injured so he is winning fans over. Only time will tell but I think we’ve got a good one here.


The A34 Blues from Winchester on their trip to the league game vs. Villa in December. A good time was had by all by the sounds of it! Andrew mentions that the Villa fans don’t know they’re born by making more noise for getting Doug Ellis out than they did for their team (unlike us noisy gits!). This reminded me that I was listening to 606 on the way back and a Villa fan was bemoaning the fact that Ginola and Merson had poor games! What! Was he watching the same game as me? Merse was superb, taking great stick from our lot and grinning all the way through and nearly scoring with that 25 yarder (ish!) and Ginola was OK too – especially when he took his shirt off after the soddin’ equaliser – phwoar! So Andy, you’re right mate!

Carol Darvill (


Do you want to be on TV?
Are you tougher than the rest?
If so we need you!

This exciting new endurance gameshow will be broadcast live on prime time national television.

Watched by thousands via 24-hour web-cams, contestants simply have to be themselves and use their mental and physical superiority to beat other contestants.

Interested? All you ve got to do is stand with one hand touching the car and not fall asleep. The contest is as long as you make it and the last person standing wins the top of the range utility vehicle (approx value £50,000).

How long do you think you could stay awake for? Do you have a secret weapon that puts you head and shoulders above the rest? If so use it, as this show needs you!

For more info call our team on 020 7636 1756.

We would really like to have some football supporters involved in the show. The show is going out on prime time tv during Spring 2001 and will be fairly high profile. We think the prize (a £50,000 sports utility vehicle) is well worth competing for.

If you have any queries email me and I will do my best to help.

Harriet Dixon, Researcher/Co-ordinator – Touching The Truck, c/o Dermot Desmond (


There was a certain inevitability about Saturday’s result but it brings with it some relief. At last we can stop pretending and admit that we don’t have a God given right to be in this division, just because “we’re a massive, massive club” – we’re Manchester City and doing things the hard way as ever.

Now we know what our objective is, let’s go for it with fire in our bellies. What we’ve got ahead of us is a bl*ody good scrap, battling for survival in a division we have to earn the right to be in. I believe we’ve got the players to keep us in the Premiership, and we’ve certainly got the supporters. That’s as long as we now banish the long silences, moans, groans and boos from the terraces, and shout our way to 17th position. The first step in reaching any target is to believe that you can!

Surely the coming 15 matches have got to be more fun than pushing a trolley round Asda with the wife? Let’s enjoy them!

Superbia in Proelia & CTID, Graeme Nicholson (


I’m going to take issue with Simon Fink over Trevor Francis. When Trev arrived we wondered if he was worth the million. I don’t think I’m alone in being surprised (this in the days before saturation TV coverage) at how talented he was. Extraordinary would be my word: I remember his crosses from the goalline when marked and facing the wrong way (when lesser players would be said to be “going nowhere”); I remember him watching a deflected ball dropping to him and him watching the spin and anticipating the way it would bounce; I remember some cracking goals. True, I remember his folly in nutting an Everton player, and his frustration during the 4-1 defeat at Wolves – a match that put me off travelling away for 18 years. In the days when you paid on the gate, you could reckon on an extra three or four thousand turning up when he played and it is testimony to his pulling power that he was used on adverts on Piccadilly Radio to advertise 1982/83 season tickets, only for Swales to sell him once the money was banked (a cheat that was the beginning of the end for Swales – it didn’t even make commercial sense as the extra gate money when Trev played would have easily paid the interest on the million pounds).

Who are the best players (where “best” = “most skilful” – not everyone’s definition I know) ever to play for City? In my lifetime (excluding ‘keepers): Bell, Marsh, Kinkladze, Francis. I could take Simon’s opinion better if we’d currently got anyone fit to fasten any of their laces.

Incidentally, it’s not an excuse but has anyone pointed out that Keane’s two goals on Saturday were when Dickov was injured and a virtual passenger (the third) and had actually gone off so were we down to 10 men for the fourth Leeds goal?

Steve Parish (


I have to agree with everything Dave Cash said in MCIVTA 675 but the current plight is only compounded by our current league position. What player worth his salt would come to a team 2nd from bottom in the league, only won 5 games this season and so out of form that we don’t look like picking up another point? Certainly not anyone but cast offs or 2nd rate players which we already have in abundance.

Joe realised he needed to shore up the defence and in doing so we have conceded more goals this season than I can remember, I don’t actually think the defence is that bad, the problem stems from the huge gap in midfield and so the defence is constantly bombarded. We have no one in there with any brains to sit in front of the back four/five or anyone with enough ability to create a chance, I can’t remember any City player being put through one on one by a killer ball since Haaland against the Rags, and that was 3 months ago.

Haaland is now a shadow of the enthusiastic player with a good engine and attitude that signed for the club pre-season. Gerard Wiekens is 5 yards too slow and gets caught in possession, Joe keeps raving about Jeff Whitley who just runs around like a headless chicken and when he does win the ball (not very often at this level) he wastes it. Kennedy is missing at the minute but if he doesn’t beat the right back in the first few minutes then he is useless all game; Kelly at Leeds in the cup last year and the lad at Wolves who had him in his pocket all game spring to mind but he does drag players wide and put in quality balls when given the chance – we need him back soon. Bishop is looking past it and Tony Grant looks ok when coming on as a sub, he looked useful last year until he started a game then it was the same old thing. Nicky Weaver was the golden boy and everybody had great hopes for him, I do believe he will be a great ‘keeper but he has flopped at this level and I do believe Joe has bought Nash to replace him if we do go down. I think they will cash in on Weaver and already have a great replacement for £100k. Up front we look ok but are woefully short, Goater for all his effort is sadly lacking at this level and Dickov is still the same as people have been writing about for a couple of years now. Wanchope is a good forward and Huckerby is class; the two of them could be our saving grace this year but they need to keep fit, stay in this country and have a decent supply line.

Joe does need to buy a decent midfielder and I also believe at a time like this he needs someone with him with fresh ideas, he does seem so tactically naïve. Captain cripple realised he couldn’t cut it and brought in Venables, we need to do the same and have a pattern to our play; could anyone tell me recently what our pattern of play has been? It changes so much, how can the players keep up with it?

Sorry to be so pessimistic about the situation but it is of grave concern to me and I had to voice my opinion. I crave success for the club and unless something is done very soon, we are once again going to be the butt of all jokes football.

I believe Joe has made some very good buys; Howey has been a rock and Dunne is looking better game by game. I also believe, contrary to popular belief, that Charvet is a better player than we have seen so far. SWP has come through and looks a great prospect but we shouldn’t heap too much pressure on him. All his buys have been shrewd but he lacks the knowledge to put it all together. I would welcome comments and other opinions.

CTID, Mark A. Wood (


It has said many times before that there are 3 leagues within the Premier League. Those who are challenging for the European places, those fighting against the ‘R’ word and the others who, in mid-table, will do neither. We are clearly in the middle category after managing to amass 20 points from the 23 league games played so far.

So, with 15 games to go, where are we likely to pick up enough points to stay above the dotted line in May? Of the teams currently occupying the ‘danger zone’ we only have one to play at home which is Southampton in March. The other teams we still have to play are all away from Maine Road (Derby, Middlesbrough, Bradford & Everton).

Anyone have an updated table of this mini-league that appeared a few issues ago?

We have now conceded more goals than any other team in the Premiership. By my estimation, we require another 6 wins minimum from our remaining 15 games to retain our status which is more than we have managed so far in 23 games! A couple of draws too to be on the safe side. Not looking too good is it?

Where do the problems lie? Looking at the stats it would appear the defence is the problem, but as most Blues would agree the City midfield is long overdue a new face. To win these games we need a midfield that can create chances for our unemployed forwards. On Saturday I can remember only one time when a decent through ball gave a forward a chance to score (Tiatto to Wanchope). Even the goals last week against 1st Division opposition were from a corner, a penalty & an individual piece of opportunism from Huckerby. No sign of a dangerous cross, or defence splitting pass that I remember.

I know creative players are particularly scarse these days and attracting them to a club on the brink of relegation cannot be easy, but surely we need to gamble on spending some decent money before it’s too late? The cost of relegation this season of all seasons will be more than ever with the new TV money starting next season. Give them a get out clause if necessary, but get someone in that can provide the chances before it’s too late.

Suggestions? Not easy I know, but Eyal Berkovic is surplus to requirements at Celtic by the look of things. Emmanual Petit is not getting a game at Barcelona? How about a loan deal ’til the end of the season?

I know throwing money at a problem is not always the answer, but doing nothing is not the answer either.

Let’s hope this weekend’s visit to Pride Park doesn’t remind us of the value of a talented creative midfield player, if you know what I mean.

Steve Holt, CTID (


Well I’ve been very quiet so far this season but it’s time to shout loud, very very loud … extremely f@’ing loud!

Come on City, you are better than this. Show us that we are a club to be feared, get angry! Don’t let these nothing outfits like Derby, Coventry, Leicester, Charlton, Ipswich, Southampton and Bradford take the pi*s. We are City, super City from Maine Road (for now at least). I will be at Derby on Saturday for the first time since 1989; well the old baseball ground as it was then, better not remind you of the scoreline, suffice to say I doubt it will be reversed. However, my super City, I expect a victory! so players and supporters (over 4,000 expected at Pride Park!), let’s rally! Shout your whatever’s off! Show them our undying support! Whatever happens this season ‘we’ll support you evermore’. We love you City we do! No surrender… ever.

By the way, nice jag Mr. Bernstein, hope you eventually found the correct car park at Coventry! Your comment about hoping our strikers do a better job at finding the net was quite amusing; perhaps a large investment rather than words, you have to speculate to accumulate! and stop wasting the cash on cast-offs. ’nuff said.

See you at the battle of pride at Pride Park!

Mark Redgrave (


I’m so sick of listening to Joe Royle’s after match comments that I’m going to have to find a way of avoiding them if I want my car radio to remain intact. Last week he argued that we were unlucky to lose 4-0 against Leeds and that clear progress could be seen if our performance was compared with our performance when losing to them 5-2 in the Cup last year. The fact is that last year we lost 5-2 at home to a team that was at the top of its form, playing exhiliarating, flowing football in a competition which was not a priority for us anyway. This season we lost 4-0 at home to a team which hadn’t won away in the league for 4 months in a match where at the very least avoiding defeat was vital for us. And in between we’ve spent in the region of £11 million. The fact is that as anyone who was there knows we were absolute rubbish – for the third home match on the trot – it’s just that on the day Leeds were not much better. If that’s progress then I must be missing something. Last 3 home league games – 1 goal scored and 9 conceded – and against 3 very ordinary looking teams. Okay we know what Leeds are capable of, but they didn’t play to anything like that standard against us.

Royle argued that we missed Huckerby’s pace – maybe so but since he’s not even played 2 full games for us yet we can hardly consider him an integral part of our game plan. And if we were so in need of pace why wait until there’s only 10 minutes to go before bringing on Wright-Phillips? I know that we’re missing a couple of players out injured – Wiekens and Kennedy – but the reality is that they’ve never been regular first choices this season anyway.

One or two more things which are puzzling me – suddenly we’re unprepared to sell Grant and are potentially looking to him to be our creative midfield lynchpin after months and months of repeatedly overlooking him – and from what I can gather Joe seems to base the fact that he can no longer leave on one second half performance in which, whilst he did ok he was by no means outstanding. Suddenly Edghill is back in favour following a £1.5 million outlay on a replacement (should never have been dropped in my view but that’s another story and not the point here) and Morrison, who must be at least 2 stone overweight, returns as our saviour – and okay he may have been initially inspiring at Coventry with masses of adrenaline pumping through him on his return to the big-time, but there’s no way he’s going to do it week in and week out – his mistake for the first goal was utterly comical, as were his attempts to get back to cut out the resulting cross which led to the goal.

A big cheer goes around the ground when Dickov comes on as sub – I can only cringe with embarassment – another who we were quite happy to sell a few months ago, and who anyone can see is simply not good enough at this level, folk hero or not. We started the season with 4 strikers; one left and was not replaced until a couple of weeks ago. We knew when we signed Wanchope that he’d be away on numerous occasions playing internationals, and also that though he’s done okay he’s renowned for his inconsistency – still we didn’t replace Weah, even though we knew that Goater, whilst deserving of a chance is totally unproven at this level – none of it fits together. Forest shell out for David Johnstone from Ipswich, a player we’d been linked with but reportedly unprepared to pay the asking price – but hold on – Forest are supposed to be skint, and we’re supposed to be reasonably flush again.

Royle cannot seem to stop tinkering with the formation to the extent that no-one looks as though they’re sure what they should be doing – 4 at the back 1 week, 3 centre halves and wing backs the next… and on it goes. The result is confusion and aimless long balls to a pair of strikers who seem completely unable to win even a tiny percentage of aerial challenges.

We desperately need a good passer of the ball in the centre of the field so we go out and bid £4 million for Steve Lomas. Eh?

Sorry for bringing it up yet again, but in Terry Cooke we have a creative player who can pass the ball and make things happen – so many other players who’ve been out on loan but haven’t been snapped up seem to have been given second chances – in the position we’re in is Cooke really not worth even a place on the bench in the same way as Grant was? If not why not?

So many questions regarding what is turning into a disastrous season – and by disastrous I mean that we’re going to be as good as sunk by the end of February unless an amazing turnaround occurs. Another one before I forget was what on earth was Royle doing talking about a top half finish and maybe even the top 6 or 7 before the season began? Absolute nonsense and he should know better when consolidation was always going to be the name of the game. And that’s not just with the benefit of hindsight as even at the time I wondered what the hell he was on about.

Feel a little better now after that rant – but have no idea where we go from here. On current form we won’t be taking points off anyone. I’m not saying that Joe Royle is not the man for the job – we’ve had far too much experience of sacking managers and seeing where it takes us to begin to think of doing the same again yet. All that I do know is that I’m starting once again to get that terrible yet all too familiar feeling of chest tightening frustration caused by an inability to recognise any kind of pattern, any thread of logic or any sign of lucid analysis, in the team selections, the way that we play, or in our transfer policy. And though Mr Royle knows rather more about the game than I do, I don’t appreciate his lack of honesty regarding how well – or badly – we’re playing. Even following the Charlton débâcle he found the time to bemoan how unfortunate we’d been at the way a couple of their goals came about. Hope I’m proved terribly terribly wrong and that this is one tunnel that we’ll come out of before it’s too late, having retained our Premiership status and just in time for a famous Cup Final victory in Cardiff on a gloriously sunny spring afternoon. However, I suspect the only way we’ll be playing there will be 1st Division play-offs 2002, assuming that’s where they’ll be held.

Footnote to Dave Cash – if you were Lee Bowyer or Nicky Butt just what in the world would possess you to want to sign for City? to save yourself all those inconvenient overseas trips to play in the Champions’ League perhaps? Or maybe the lure would be to savour the pleasures of playing alongside the likes of Grant and Wiekens rather than fodder such as Beckham, Giggs, Kewell and Robbie Keane? Of course – I can see what you mean now.

Simon Hope (


Having read everybody’s thoughts on the current situation, I think we all need to calm down, get behind the team and back Big Joe to the max! The so-called phone-in to “Five Live” and the Richard Littlejohn show has been Rags calling in pretending to be Blues (they do not have a clue what supporting a football team is all about). They have been calling for Joe’s head and the common theme is they say that City are a massive club. Ignore this cr*p, do not jump onto any Rag bandwagons! Big Joe has taken us up twice in 2 years which is a better effort than any manager since Peter Reid. O.K., we are in the sh*t but some of the cr*p being written by so called fans is complete b*******! A win on Saturday may take us out of the relegation zone. I think that we will do that with Huckerby and Wiekens back into the side.

We will stay up. Keep the faith.

Michael Jenkins – Belfast (


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Newsletter #676