Newsletter #684

City teams experienced mixed fortunes in midweek, with the Youth team losing undeservedly to Coventry, whilst the Reserves were able to get some measure of revenge for the early-season 0-5 thrashing by Leeds. We have two match reports from each game! On the news front, City are being linked with a move for Wimbledon’s Norwegian midfielder (defensive!), Anderson, whilst two more clubs appear to be expressing an interest in Gareth Taylor. Additionally, we have a review of City Mag; news of a planned City book; and stacks of opinion.

If you’re going to Anfield on Sunday, or even just watching it on TV, please consider doing us a match report, as they’ll still be plenty on the list who will not be able to see the game.

Next game: Liverpool away, Sunday 18th February 2001 (FA Cup)


Part I: Transfer News and Rumours

Dons’ Midfielder the Latest Link: Manchester City are still on the lookout for a new midfielder. And the latest name in the frame is Trond Andersen of Wimbledon after Joe Royle was spotted in the crowd at the Dons’ midweek cup replay against Middlesbrough. Andersen signed for the South London club from Molde for £2.5 million in the summer of 1999 and has been a success at Selhurst Park, so the rumoured £750,000 fee for which he could come to Maine Road seems rather on the low side – especially as the Norwegian, who can also play in the centre of defence, was in his country’s squad for the Euro 2000 finals, though he didn’t appear in a game. Despite selling several players since their relegation last year, the Dons are still keen to reduce their wage bill by offloading further members of their squad, and the versatile 26-year-old could be a useful addition for the Blues – though he wouldn’t offer the creative midfield option many fans would like to see.

City Unlikely to Pursue Berg Move: Manchester City last week elected not to sign midfielder Thomas Strunz, who had been at Maine Road on trial. And the Blues are also reported to be unlikely to follow up their interest in Strunz’s fellow trialist Runar Berg. Norwegian Berg spent four days training with City but was disappointed to see his chance to impress Joe Royle in match action disappear when the reserve fixture at Blackburn was postponed last week. Royle had initially indicated that the Blues might allow the player to return to play for the second string in a forthcoming game but it’s now reported that the City manager’s hunt for a midfielder will focus elsewhere. The 31-year-old was available for a fee of around £500,000 from Italian Serie B side Venezia.

Cardiff and Burnley Fight for Taylor: Gareth Taylor is expected to leave Manchester City in the summer. And the ex-Sheffield United man could also make a temporary move away from Maine Road for the rest of the current season. Taylor has spent the last fourteen months on the transfer list, and will be out of contract in June. So the Blues are likely to be happy to send the 27-year-old out on loan for the remainder of the campaign. The player recently saw a prospective move to Sheffield Wednesday break down because the Owls refused to agree to a clause in the deal requiring them to pay a bonus payment in the event that they avoided relegation. However, now Burnley and Cardiff are both keen to land the out-of-favour front man on a three-month loan.

Part II: Miscellaneous News and Views

Royle Hails Success of Dunne: Manchester City may have had a disappointing season. But Joe Royle believes that one of the bright spots for the Blues is the development of certain individual players – and feels that one of the most notable is defender Richard Dunne. Royle paid £3 million to bring Dunne to Maine Road from Everton in October. And though the Irishman had to wait for a chance to play in his favoured central defensive rôle, he’s shown outstanding form of late alongside Steve Howey. But that’s no surprise to the City manager, who remembers the player from his own days at Goodison Park. “He has youth on his side,” noted the Blues’ boss, “and if he looks after himself properly will be a cornerstone of this club for many years to come. There is no doubt he is in a rich vein of form at the moment and that he has been one of the successes of the season.”

Kennedy Back in Training Next Week: Mark Kennedy has missed the last two months of Manchester City’s season. But the winger hopes to be back in contention for a first-team place soon as the Blues bid for Premiership survival. Kennedy has recovered from the knee injury he sustained at Sunderland before Christmas and started his comeback in the City reserves two weeks ago. But he was then sidelined with a minor achilles problem, much to his frustration. “It’s been really hard being out of the side at such a crucial time in the season,” he admitted, “but it’s something I’ve had to learn to live with.”

Shearer Targets City Comeback Date: Manchester City’s next league engagement is a trip to Newcastle on Saturday, 24th February. And the Blues are likely to be facing one of the country’s deadliest strikers at St James’s Park. Shearer has been out of action for six weeks with a knee injury, but has travelled with the Magpies squad to a training camp in La Manga this week. It’s reported that the ex-England captain has suffered no adverse reaction after his return to training and boss Bobby Robson expects the player to be available when City visit Tyneside. “We’ll gear his training with a view to having him match fit for the Manchester City game,” confirmed the Newcastle boss.

City Fans’ Fury at Bradford Ticket Price: Manchester City fans travelling to the crucial relegation scrap at Bradford next month will have to pay £27 for the privilege. And supporters who follow the Blues away from home are unhappy at being charged so much. Under Bradford’s ticket-pricing policy, City, along with Manchester United, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sunderland, are classified in the top category of games. But even though the Yorkshire club therefore claim there’s no discrimination for this particular fixture, there’s still considerable anger at the cost. And the fury is intensified by the cost of concessionary tickets for the March 17 fixture – juniors and OAPs will be charged £20 for admission.

News of International Call-Ups: Two Manchester City players will be in international action at the end of February. Jeff Whitley and Richard Dunne have been called up by Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland respectively. Whitley will be joined by Tommy Wright, currently on loan at Bolton, in Sammy McIlroy’s squad for the Belfast friendly against Norway on February 28, though injury has prevented McIlroy from calling on another City man in Kevin Horlock. Meanwhile, Dunne is in the Republic party for a match against Denmark in Dublin on the same evening. Mark Kennedy was unavailable for selection, so the winger still doesn’t know whether Irish boss Mick McCarthy has yet forgiven him for his indiscretions which led to a court appearance for the winger after a well-publicised incident while he was on international duty in September. Meanwhile, Danny Tiatto is unlikely to be required to fly to Colombia to represent Australia in the last week of February as national coach Frank Farina has indicated he will probably rely on home-based players for the game but Nicky Weaver is set to be named in the England under-21 party for the friendly against Spain at Birmingham City on February 27.

Further International Success for Killen: Chris Killen is currently the skipper of the New Zealand under-20 side. And the Manchester City youngster is leading by example. Killen scored a penalty in the 44th minute in New Zealand’s 3-1 victory over Tahiti in an under-20 World Cup Oceania qualifier. And the 19-year-old also played in a 2-1 victory over New Caledonia, though he didn’t score in the latter game. The young striker this season had a spell on loan at Wrexham, where he scored three times in eleven Second Division starts and one substitute appearance, and his priority now will be to convince Joe Royle to give him a chance in the senior side at Maine Road.

Part III: Reserve and Youth Team News

Youngsters Out of Youth Cup: Manchester City have been knocked out of the FA Youth Cup. The Blues were beaten 2-1 by Coventry in Tuesday’s fifth round tie at Maine Road. Facing opponents who have reached the final in each of the last two years, City were given an excellent start when England under-15 international Lee Croft opened the scoring on five minutes. But the visitors levelled matters twelve minutes later through Jason Ashby. The injury-depleted Blues looked to have an opportunity to snatch the tie when Coventry were reduced to ten men on the hour mark, but it was the Midlanders who notched the winner two minutes from time through Mark Magennis.

Ostenstad on Mark as Reserves Win: Manchester City notched a 2-0 win in Wednesday’s reserve game against Leeds at York. And Egil Ostenstad scored the opener, his first goal for the club. Ostenstad played for the full ninety minutes to boost his match fitness and capped his display with a 25th-minute strike to put the Blues ahead. A second-half Gareth Taylor penalty sealed the win for an experienced City side. The Blues are now unbeaten in their last five games at reserve level, and have lost only one of their last eight matches following a patchy start to the campaign.

Tueart – Youth Policy on the Up: Manchester City admit that the club’s youth policy left much to be desired throughout most of the 1990s. But director Dennis Tueart says the Blues are determined to return to a position where they can challenge once again for the best young players. The disappointing nature of the City set-up during the last decade was highlighted again this week as several news sources detailed how the Blues had allowed England international Wes Brown to slip through their fingers and join Manchester United. But Tueart says the whole operation is now much better run. “We have a very professional evaluation process – it is extremely rigorous,” he revealed. “Discovering talent can save an absolute fortune if the individual makes it into the first team. As near as dammit, we have of late been getting it right. We are winning more than we are losing with lads coming in.”

Part IV: Cup Fifth Round – Team News and Preview

Howey the Main Injury Doubt for ‘Pool Clash: Manchester City will be without several players in Sunday’s FA Cup tie at Liverpool. And there was another blow for the Blues this week with the news that Steve Howey is doubtful for the game. Howey sustained a broken toe in training and though the ex-Newcastle player could feature if he has a pain-killing injection, he’s unlikely to be risked. Spencer Prior, Paul Ritchie and Andy Morrison might all hope to deputise if the 27-year-old does miss out, while Tony Grant is likely to feature in place of the suspended Jeff Whitley. Egil Ostenstad is cup-tied after playing in Blackburn’s third round tie against Chester but fellow loan player Andrei Kanchelskis is eligible to play.

Royle Happy with Underdog Tag: Most pundits are writing off Manchester City’s chances of causing an FA Cup upset at Liverpool on Sunday. But according to Joe Royle, the Blues are relishing the fact that the weight of expectation is on the home side. City have a good record against Liverpool in the competition, having prevailed on two of the three occasions when the teams have been paired together. But though few outside Maine Road expect a repeat performance this weekend, Royle feels that his players will benefit from being away from the pressure of a relegation battle – and feels City might just spring a surprise. “It will be nice to have no League worries,” he told the Blues’ official website at “The luck we have had this year has been in the Cup, so that might just be a good omen.”

Thompson Expecting a Hard Game: Manchester City travel to Liverpool in the FA Cup on Sunday. But though the teams are at opposite ends of the Premiership table, Anfield assistant boss Phil Thompson isn’t expecting an easy game for his side. Liverpool are third in the Premier League while City are third from bottom. But the Blues were desperately unlucky to be beaten 3-2 at Anfield in the league this season while the two teams recently fought out a competitive 1-1 draw at Maine Road. And that makes Thompson expect another demanding test in Sunday’s FA Cup clash. “Manchester City is going to be a battle,” he acknowledged. “We played them quite recently and that was a really, really tough game. We know for 90 minutes they are going to compete and they will have our utmost respect.”

Peter Brophy (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. COVENTRY CITY, Tuesday 13th February 2001

Well, time to punish/inflict/treat the joys (?) of Manchester City upon Frankie, my eight-year-old son. His previous three trips have all been senior outings; couple of defeats and an awful 3-1 win over Norwich. Not had a chance to go this season, so I thought the FA Youth Cup 5th round would be an ideal opportunity to keep his faith (to be fair no chance of wavering for this one; even though we have an estranged relationship, his mother is a Blue and like his father he’s a deep thinker and has already spurned the advances of the red evil, his Uncle being a follower of Satan tried to coax him many years back but failed miserably).

Quick summary of the game. Reasonable approach play, flashes of skill, erratic defending, deserved a win, lost 2-1, sound familiar?!

Got to the ground with about 15 minutes to kick off, £3 for the annually challenged, a further quid for the innocent victims of youth.

Quite a good turnout, I’d guess at 2,000. City kicked off toward the Platt Lane end; only one name I’d heard of in the Blues line up, a certain Lee Croft. Highly rated apparently. Not a lot happening in the early skirmishes then the boy Croft picks up the ball in midfield, goes on a mini run and bang, 30 yards out 1-0, absolute cracker of a goal. This is it I think, my son’s going to see a City side rout an opposition team. Sorry for this my boy, gird of my loins, prot