Newsletter #682

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, Richard Edghill has been placed on the transfer list, despite turning in fairly decent performances on his return to the first team. Gareth Taylor on the hand, looks like he is set to remain with us ’til the bitter end’, as the deal taking him to Hillsborough has fallen through at the last moment. Our Norwegian trialist has returned to Italy without playing a game (he hopes to return) and Strunz has impressed, but looks well short of match fitness. And for those of us who may not have noticed, Saturday is a big, big game!

Lastly, the Blue Moon ring-tone URL we gave out in MCIVTA 681 does not seem right and comes up with a message saying: “Access Denied. Retrieval of that file is forbidden.” It was: Mobile Phone Ring Tones – Does anyone know if this is a temporary situation, or if permanent, whether there is an alternative site?

Next game: Tottenham Hotspur at home, Saturday 10th February 2001


Part I: Transfer News and Rumours

Edghill Placed on Transfer List: Manchester City’s longest serving player is set to leave the club. The Blues have this week placed Richard Edghill on the transfer list. Edghill was sent on loan to Birmingham earlier in the season after losing his place in the senior City side. But it appeared that the Blues’ former skipper might be able to resurrect his Maine Road career after being recalled for three games last month. However, following the 4-0 home defeat against Leeds, Joe Royle again omitted the former England under-21 man, and the City boss has now decided it would be best for the full-back to make a fresh start elsewhere. “Laurent [Charvet] is looking a lot happier around the place and I’m sure there is much more to come from him,” explained Royle. “Added to that both Richard Dunne and Alfie [Haaland] have played well in that position this season so it’s going to be very hard for Edgy to get back into the first team.”

Reserve Postponement Hits Trialist’s Hopes: Runar Berg has returned to Italy after training with Manchester City this week. The Norwegian midfielder’s hopes of impressing Joe Royle in match action were thwarted when Wednesday evening’s reserve fixture was postponed – but the 31-year-old may yet return to allow the Blues another look at him. The City second string had been due to play Blackburn at Morecambe’s Christie Park ground, but the pitch was unplayable after heavy rain. Royle was unwilling to make a decision on whether to sign Berg from Italian Serie B outfit Venezia based purely on the player’s efforts in training, but says that the ex-Rosenborg man could be invited back and given a chance to play in a subsequent reserve match. “Runar has gone back because of commitments,” the City manager told the club’s official website. “He couldn’t play in the reserve game which was unfortunate, but we are going to try and see him again.”

Strunz Impresses, But Doubts Remain: Manchester City’s second midfield trialist is still at Maine Road. And Joe Royle has been impressed by the ability shown by Thomas Strunz in training this week, though the Blues’ boss says the player’s fitness is also an issue. Strunz would not in any case have featured in this week’s game for the City reserves, as he had not received the necessary international clearance to enable him to play. But the German has given a good account of himself in his trial so far and appears still to have a chance of persuading the Blues to bring him to the club on a free transfer from Bayern Munich. “I like what I have seen so far,” commented Royle. “You don’t play forty times for Germany without ability. What we have to asses more than anything is his fitness level.”

City Cup Needs End Wright Deal Talk: There were rumours last week that Tommy Wright’s loan move from Manchester City to Bolton could be made permanent. But it appears that any such deal could happen only after the Blues are knocked out of the FA Cup. City allowed the former Northern Ireland goalkeeper to begin his stint at the Reebok Stadium after signing Carlo Nash from Stockport. But the cup-tied Nash is ruled out of the Blues’ FA Cup campaign, meaning that Joe Royle would be forced to field an untried youngster in the competition if Nicky Weaver were unavailable and Wright were to feature for Bolton in their tie against Blackburn. So City have refused the Trotters permission to play the veteran in that game – leaving the First Division club without an experienced goalkeeper for the match, as Steve Banks will be suspended. And if Royle is unwilling even to allow the ex-Newcastle man to become cup-tied, it’s hard to see the City manager releasing the player altogether.

City Hope to Sell Wanchope Before Deadline: Manchester City’s hopes of quickly offloading Paulo Wanchope were hit when the striker had to have a knee operation. But the Blues are hoping that the transfer-listed front man will return to fitness within the next six weeks so he can move on ahead of the transfer deadline. Wanchope had a routine cartilage operation on Monday evening and the surgery was without complications. The Costa Rican could even be fit in as little as a month’s time, boosting Joe Royle’s hopes of engineering a swift Maine Road exit for the Blues’ record signing. However, selling the 25-year-old may yet prove to be easier said than done. While there has been interest from Spanish and French clubs in the ex-West Ham man, transfer windows in those countries have now closed. So a domestic move appears the only option, but City have yet to field an enquiry from an English club keen on a permanent deal for the player, although a number of clubs would be prepared to take him on loan, an arrangement in which Royle has no interest.

Egil Could Make Permanent Switch: Egil Ostenstad is currently on loan at Manchester City. But if the Norwegian striker impresses in his two months at Maine Road, a permanent deal could be on the cards. Ostenstad has joined the Blues from Blackburn after seeing new arrivals Mark Hughes and Marcus Bent force him down the pecking order at Ewood Park. And the striker says he can recapture the form he showed at Southampton, when he managed a strike rate of one goal in every three Premiership appearances. Joe Royle has already said the 29-year-old has been signed with a view to a permanent move and Rovers boss Graeme Souness has hinted he’d be prepared to do business if the Blues are impressed by the player.

Jim Whitley Looking for New Contract: Jim Whitley has been out of the first-team picture at Manchester City this season. But the midfielder is still hoping to be offered a new contract when his existing deal expires this summer. Whitley has spent time on loan at both Norwich and Swindon this term. And the 25-year-old recognises there’s a prospect he’ll be released permanently when he’s out of contract in four months’ time. But the Northern Ireland international is hoping not to be in that position. “If it doesn’t work out and I don’t win a new contract then I’ll have to look elsewhere,” he said, “but I don’t want to.”

City Linked with American International: Manchester City are being linked with Tony Sanneh. The American international plays for Hertha Berlin but will be a free agent in the summer. Though settled at Hertha, midfielder Sanneh isn’t a regular first-team choice and, fearing this state of affairs could damage his prospects with the US national squad, the player could be ready to move on. The 29-year-old has been linked in the German press with a move to England, with City, Coventry and Middlesbrough mentioned as clubs interested in his services.

Prior Rumoured to be In Demand: Spencer Prior is the latest Manchester City player to feature in speculation over a possible move away from the club. The defender is said to be a target of Midlands rivals West Brom and Wolves. Prior has featured only sporadically in Joe Royle’s starting line-up since losing his place to Richard Dunne at the beginning of December. And the First Division pair may be hoping that the defender has become surplus to requirements at Maine Road less than a year after signing for the Blues from Derby. However, Prior recently started successive games against Derby and Coventry and has been a regular on the bench when not selected to start, indicating that Royle probably regards the former Leicester player as his preferred option if either Richard Dunne or Steve Howey is absent for any reason.

Taylor’s Owls Switch Breaks Down: Last week, Manchester City appeared set to offload transfer-listed striker Gareth Taylor. But the front man’s proposed move to Sheffield Wednesday now appears to be dead. Taylor will be a free agent in the summer, and Wednesday were set to take over the last few months of the ex-Sheffield United man’s contract. But while City were prepared to waive a transfer fee, the Blues demanded a bonus payment of £100,000 if the 27-year-old helped the Owls to avoid relegation to the Second Division. The struggling South Yorkshire outfit were unwilling to do a deal on that basis, and are now reported to have switched their sights to Rangers’ Rod Wallace.

Part II: Miscellaneous News and Views

Everton Edge Another Point Clear: Manchester City are now five points behind Everton in the Premiership table. The Merseysiders played and drew their game in hand on their relegation rivals on Wednesday. Walter Smith’s men led Leeds twice at Goodison Park but were pegged back each time, and the match ended 2-2. Bradford are still bottom of the Premier League with 16 points, five behind Coventry and seven adrift of City. Middlesbrough, Derby and Everton are now respectively three, four and five points ahead of Joe Royle’s men. All six teams have now played the same number of fixtures except for the apparently doomed Bradford, who have a game in hand on the five clubs immediately above them.

Kennedy in Minor Injury Setback: Manchester City had hoped to have Mark Kennedy back in contention for Saturday’s visit of Spurs. But the Irishman has picked up a minor achilles injury and will not be available for the game. Kennedy had been absent with a knee injury since December’s visit to Sunderland but made a return to action in last week’s reserve win over Oldham. But now the Irishman’s latest setback means he’ll have to wait a little longer before featuring in the senior side again. However, the latest injury isn’t serious and the ex-Wimbledon man could even be fit to play in next Tuesday’s reserve game against Leeds.

Wright-Phillips Told to Take a Rest: Shaun Wright-Phillips has emerged this season as a valued member of the Manchester City squad. But now Joe Royle feels that the youngster needs to take a break. Wright-Phillips made his bow last season, but was used only sporadically by Royle. However, this term the youngster has sampled senior action on nineteen occasions and has impressed some good judges with his skill. But the City boss is wary of expecting too much too soon and this week gave the 19-year-old a four-day break. The player will be back in training at the end of this week but is unlikely to feature in the squad against Spurs on Saturday.

Goater in New Fitness Drive: Shaun Goater missed almost of all Manchester City’s pre-season training after having a cartilage operation. And the Bermudian international is still working hard to make up for lost time. Joe Royle believes that Goater’s form has suffered this season as a result of missing the summer warm-up programme, with the player struggling to find the same level of fitness as his team-mates. Now the 30-year-old is aiming to ensure he reaches peak condition by joining three of his Maine Road colleagues in following a specially designed all-round fitness programme. “We are going through the whole spectrum, looking at fitness and diet,” the striker told the official City website at “I have just started the programme this week so I don’t think you will see any benefit for a week or two.”

Rochdale Friendly Shelved Until Summer: Manchester City have been trying for several months to arrange a date for a proposed midweek friendly at Rochdale. But it’s now been decided that the game will be shelved until pre-season. The Blues had been due to go to Spotland for a game to mark the official opening of the Third Division club’s Willbutts Lane Stand. However, City’s Worthington Cup commitments meant a suitable date couldn’t be found before Christmas while Dale now face a hectic programme of rearranged fixtures after being badly hit by recent postponements.

Haaland Accepts Defensive Rôle: Alfie Haaland believes his best position is in midfield. But the Manchester City skipper is happy to play as a full-back as the Blues attempt to avoid relegation from the Premiership. Haaland featured at right-back at Middlesbrough last Saturday after playing in his preferred midfield rôle for most of the season. And the ex-Leeds man says that the needs of the team are paramount. “I’ll happily play anywhere as long as it’s for the good of the club,” he confirmed. “We need points to stay up and if it means I have to play in defence then that is fine with me.” Ironically, many fans are probably happier to see the Norwegian in defence at present; he impressed in a brief stint as a full-back when Richard Edghill was dropped early in the campaign but has produced some lacklustre midfield displays of late.

Royle Admits He Expected Better: Joe Royle always knew his promoted Manchester City side would face a tough first season back in the Premiership. But the former Oldham and Everton boss admits he expected a better showing than the Blues have currently managed. Royle says he expected his side to experience some problems in adjusting to life at the top level. But he always believed that City would be able to keep out of the relegation scrap so is disappointed that the club is now facing a battle for Premiership survival. “When you’ve come as far as we have so quickly, then there are always going to be setbacks along the way somewhere,” he reflected. “But I must admit I didn’t think it would be this big a setback.”

Part III: Spurs at Home, Preview and Team News

Spurs Clash A Must-Win Game: Joe Royle estimates that Manchester City still need five wins to ensure that Maine Road again plays host to Premiership football next season. And if the Blues fail to notch one of those victories against Spurs on Saturday, they’ll have only eleven matches left to amass the requisite number of points. On the face of it, City would appear to have a good chance of taking all three points from the fixture, since George Graham’s men have drawn four and lost nine of their thirteen away league fixtures this season, scoring just eight goals on their travels. But the Londoners provided a warning that they’re capable of much better by emerging with a 4-2 win in Wednesday’s FA Cup fourth round tie away to Charlton so cannot be underestimated. However, anything less than a maximum point haul will leave the Blues looking to have a formidable task to beat the drop. A requirement to win almost half of all remaining fixtures would look an improbably tall order for a side which had won once in the league in four months.

Royle Waits on Injured Trio: Joe Royle already knows that Manchester City will be without long-term injury victims Mark Kennedy, Laurent Charvet, Paul Dickov, Paulo Wanchope and Kevin Horlock when the Blues face Spurs on Saturday. But the City manager is hopeful that three other players will overcome minor knocks to face the Londoners. Andrei Kanchelskis, Richard Dunne and Jeff Whitley all missed training in the early part of the week to raise concerns that they may be doubtful for the weekend game. Kanchelskis had a sore back, while Dunne picked up a minor groin strain and Whitley sustained a toe injury in last weekend’s game at Middlesbrough. However, all three men are expected to be fit to play against George Graham’s side in which case Royle is set to stick with the side which performed creditably at the Riverside even though Andy Morrison is fit again.

New Boy Starts on the Bench: Manchester City this week landed a new striker when Egil Ostenstad arrived on loan from Blackburn. But the Norwegian won’t be in the starting line-up when Spurs visit Maine Road on Saturday. Joe Royle says that Ostenstad has impressed so far in training and the Blues boss is confident that the 29-year-old can score the goals that will help City to survival. But given the player’s recent lack of match action at Blackburn, Royle believes it’s more logical for him to start on the bench. “Egil’s a proven goalscorer and he’s looked sharp in training but he’s been short of match practice in the last few weeks,” explained the City manager, “so I’ll pick him as one of the substitutes.”

Peter Brophy (


Was watching the Fulham game last Sunday, when a young midfield player really caught the eye. He was strong in the tackle, distributed the ball well, was happy to run with it, and took all the free kicks. He’s early twenties, got Premiership experience and drew plaudits from all the pundits. What’s more, he was voted Man of the Match. We couldn’t prize him away from Fulham though, could we? No need. He was Sheffield United’s playmaker, Michael Brown. One for the future, methinks.

Andy Noise (


The 5th(?) round tie between the Academy boys and Coventry is scheduled to take place next Tuesday, 13 February at Maine Road, k.o. 7pm. So if you can, get down there and show them your support.

Heidi Pickup (


I have comprised a table of all the fixtures for the bottom 6 teams and put it up on the web at the following address.

Interesting to see that all bottom teams have to play West Ham, Ipswich and Bradford… so these teams will play a big part in who goes and who stays.

CTID, Paul Faulkner a.k.a. ColoradoBlue (


The Manchester City supporters’ credit card, which provides funds for the club’s Youth Academy, is celebrating a successful first year of trading with one of the club’s prot