Newsletter #686

Nothing of note to report, other than a little bit of press speculation surrounding who will be prised away from us come the end of the season. This issue has a belated Liverpool report; a report of Tuesday’s reserves clash with Middlesbrough; a hot midfield tip (not Lee Bowyer); S.A.F.E. 16; and opinion.

Please note that articles for inclusion into MCIVTA should be sent to Geoff Donkin (see below) for the next two issues.

Next game: Newcastle United away, Saturday 24th February 2001


Please note that Geoff Donkin will once again be stepping in as guest editor for the next two issues. Please send all contributions for MCIVTA 687 and 688 to Geoff at:



Part I: Transfer News and Rumours

Duo Linked with Summer Exits: Manchester City have a fight on their hands to avoid relegation from the Premiership. And newspapers have this week been speculating on which players may quit Maine Road should the Blues fail to beat the drop. It’s speculated that Nicky Weaver and Danny Tiatto are two of the players most likely to interest any vultures. The England under-21 goalkeeper has, according to many experts, had a disappointing campaign but it’s nevertheless claimed that he may attract big money bids from both home and abroad – with Joe Royle supposedly lining up Everton’s Thomas Myhre as a replacement. Tiatto, meanwhile, has arguably adapted best of all City’s First Division squad to life in the top flight and the Australian is said to be interesting Chelsea. However, it must be emphasised that there’s no confirmation of either story, and the Blues would be sure to fight hard to keep both men at the club whichever level the club’s playing at next term.

Royle Denies Morrison Move Talk: A newspaper report claimed earlier this week that Andy Morrison could soon leave Manchester City. But Joe Royle has denied the story. Morrison was said to have been a target for Sheffield Wednesday before the recent sacking of Paul Jewell. And it was claimed that Royle had made up his mind to allow the former skipper to move on, having decided that the player would no longer feature at senior level for City. The Blues’ boss, however, is refusing to write off the big defender. “Andy is a strong part of the squad,” he insisted. “We don’t make profound decisions to let players like him go readily.”

Taylor Boosts Hopes of Permanent Clarets Switch: Gareth Taylor has joined Burnley on loan for an initial spell of a month. But in his début on Tuesday evening, the striker boosted his hopes of extending the arrangement. Reports have claimed that both Taylor and the Clarets are keen in principle for him to stay for longer at Turf Moor. And the ex-Sheffield United man produced an impressive display in the midweek clash against First Division leaders Fulham. The 28-year-old laid on his side’s opening goal in the 2-1 win for fellow striker Ian Moore, and his overall performance delighted boss Stan Ternent. “Gareth Taylor had a fantastic début,” enthused the Burnley manager. “He led the line very well and gave us a new dimension.”

Part II: Miscellaneous News and Views

Alfie Relishing Survival Battle: Manchester City are under pressure as the battle to avoid relegation intensifies. But Alfie Haaland insists that the Blues aren’t feeling the strain and are prepared for the challenge ahead. Haaland says that the importance of staying in the Premier League should act as an incentive to the City players to produce their best form. But he admits that the consequences of relegation could be severe. “As well as personal and professional pride and the reputation of the team,” he reflected, “there’s a huge amount of money at stake.”

City Agree to Two Summer Friendlies: Manchester City’s pre-season programme ahead of the 2001-02 campaign is already starting to take shape. The Blues have agreed to take part in one testimonial game – and it’s claimed that another is on the cards. City will visit Oldham on August 4th to play a match for Earl Barrett, the defender who was at Maine Road as a youngster before enjoying a long career at Boundary Park. And it’s also being reported that the Blues have finally agreed to take part in a match in honour of Neil Young, a key man in the club’s successes in the late 1960s and early 1970s, although there’s no word yet as to date, venue or opponents. There may also be a summer trip to Rochdale – City were due to visit Spotland this winter to commemorate the opening of a new stand, but the two clubs’ fixture commitments meant that no suitable date could be arranged during the course of the season.

Horlock Back in Full Training: Kevin Horlock has been out of the Manchester City line-up for two months. But the Northern Ireland man hopes to return to action soon to boost the Blues’ survival fight. Horlock broke a bone in his ankle against Charlton in December. But after working in recent weeks only on his upper body strength, he’s now ready to return to full training – and is keen to be back in match action as soon as possible. “The injury is progressing very nicely at the minute,” he reported. “I am sure myself and the physio will know when I am ready for a reserve outing, the sooner the better as far as I am concerned.”

Injured Ritchie Out for a Month: Paul Ritchie is set to be absent from Manchester City’s survival fight until the end of March. The Scottish international recently returned from a two-month absence with a groin strain but limped out of last week’s reserve game after sustaining a new injury. Ritchie has now seen a specialist, who has diagnosed pelvic inflammation and advised the player to take a complete rest for the next fortnight. The news will come as a big blow to the 25-year-old, as it severely dents his hopes of featuring in Scotland’s World Cup qualifying fixtures against Belgium and San Marino next month. However, at least the ex-Hearts man should be back in action in time for the crucial run-in to City’s season.

Haaland to Lose Ever-Present Record: Alfie Haaland is the only Manchester City player to feature in each of the club’s Premiership fixtures this term. But suspension will soon put a stop to the Norwegian’s proud record. Haaland was booked in the Blues’ FA Cup defeat at Liverpool last Sunday. And that yellow card was the ex-Leeds star’s fifth of the campaign, meaning he must now serve an automatic one-match ban when the Blues visit Bradford on 17th March. The 28-year-old’s absence means that Joe Royle must select a new captain for the match at Valley Parade. Steve Howey is favourite for the job, though Danny Tiatto is rated an outside bet and Andy Morrison could be considered if selected for the match.

No Tiatto Call-Up: Australia will play a friendly match in Colombia next week. But Manchester City’s Danny Tiatto is not in his country’s squad for the game. Coach Frank Farina has opted to use mainly home-based players for the game. And that means that Tiatto is missing from the 18-man party, along with fellow English-based stars like Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka and Stan Lazaridis. The news will please Joe Royle, who would have been reluctant to have one of his key players fly back to Manchester jet-lagged the day before the Blues take on Southampton on 3rd March.

Alfie’s International Career Over: Alfie Haaland had been hoping that by moving to Manchester City, he could resurrect his international career. But the Norwegian now accepts he’s unlikely to represent his country again. Haaland joined the Blues last summer hoping that by playing regular senior football at Maine Road rather than featuring in the reserves at Leeds, he’d catch the eye of national coach Nils Johan Sembs. But after being left out of Sembs’ latest squad, the 28-year-old feels the chance of adding to his 33 caps has gone. “I must say that if I can’t make it to the national side now,” commented the ex-Nottingham Forest man, “I don’t know when I’ll ever make it.”

Easter Arsenal Fixture Could Be Moved: Manchester City are due to face Arsenal on Easter Monday. But the Gunners’ European commitments could result in the fixture being rescheduled. Arsenal are currently battling to qualify for the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions’ League. And if Arsene Wenger’s men win through from their current second-phase qualifying group, they’ll play the second leg of their tie in the last eight on Tuesday, 17 or Wednesday, 18 April. With the Londoners’ league visit to Maine Road due to take place on the Monday of the same week, their continued European involvement would mean that a new date for their clash with the Blues would have to be found.

Part III: Reserve and Youth News

Reserves Earn Scoreless Draw: Manchester City reserves continued their unbeaten run on Tuesday night. The Blues’ second string fought out a 0-0 draw against Middlesbrough at Hyde. The match represented the Blues’ sixth successive game without defeat, but was most notable for an unpleasant injury to Terry Cooke. The transfer-listed winger was stretchered off and needed thirty stitches in a leg wound. Meanwhile, Egil Ostenstad played for seventy minutes, while Laurent Charvet returned to action, featuring for the first half before being substituted with a minor fitness complaint.

City Youngster’s Chance to Impress: Manchester City starlet Lee Croft is currently attracting rave reviews. And the youngster will have another chance to show why when he features for the England under-15 side this week. Croft and City team-mate Dorryl Proffitt were both selected for the opening fixture in a four-team tournament when England drew 1-1 against Spain last Friday. The pair have kept their places for Thursday’s match against Holland at Crawley, and will hope to feature again in England’s final game against Germany at Southend on Saturday. City also have Shaun Cartwright, who at fourteen is a year younger than his two Maine Road colleagues, in the England squad.

Part IV: Newcastle Away – Team News and Preview

Howey Set to Win Fitness Battle: Steve Howey missed Manchester City’s FA Cup visit to Liverpool last weekend. But the central defender is set to return when the Blues visit his former club Newcastle on Saturday. Howey was nursing a broken toe, and Joe Royle instead fielded Andy Morrison and Spencer Prior alongside Richard Dunne. But the former England man’s hairline fracture has healed well, so either Morrison or Prior will make way, while both could step down if Royle opts to play two centre-halves and boost his midfield. There are claims that the Blues’ boss is toying with the idea of including Tony Grant from the start, while Jeff Whitley is available again after suspension – though it’s unlikely both men could be accommodated unless Gerard Wiekens is omitted. Up front, Shaun Goater is expected to get the nod to partner Darren Huckerby, with Egil Ostenstad on the bench.

City Look to Remedy Poor St. James’ Record: Manchester City are in urgent need of Premiership points. But to take anything from Saturday’s trip to Newcastle, the Blues will have to overcome their poor record on Tyneside. City haven’t managed a win at Newcastle in the league since a rather momentous afternoon in May 1968, and the Blues have returned home empty handed after the large majority of visits since then. However, there have been two City successes at St James’s Park in cup competitions during the same period. In December 1994, Uwe Rösler and Paul Walsh scored the goals in a 2-0 League Cup win for Brian Horton’s underdogs against Kevin Keegan’s high-flying side. And almost 18 years previously, the Blues had triumphed 3-1 in an FA Cup tie away to the Geordies. Joe Royle will hope the latter game could be an omen for City – Tony Book’s starting eleven on that day in January 1977 included not only the current Blues’ boss, who was among the scorers, but also Willie Donachie, Asa Hartford, Paul Power and Dennis Tueart, all of whom are now back at Maine Road.

Weather Threat to Newcastle Clash: Manchester City are due to visit Newcastle on Saturday. But severe weather warnings for the north east of England imply that there’s a risk that the game may not take place. Newcastle have already seen one match at St James’ Park called off this month owing to adverse weather conditions, with a heavy snowfall causing the visit of Southampton to be postponed. And snow is also forecast on Tyneside this weekend. Although the Geordies’ under-soil heating will keep the pitch playable, if roads around the ground were closed or freezing conditions around the stadium put spectators in danger on the day of the match, there’d be a risk of another postponement.

Peter Brophy (


MCFC RESERVES vs. BORO RESERVES, Tuesday 20th February 2001

True to form, the drizzle started about 5pm and, combined with an early evening fog, ensured the usual conditions for a reserve game at Hyde. Of course, it never rains when Hyde play at home. After a slight dilemma, the game beat the decorating – logic and sensibility, to paraphrase Ms Austen, left behind in the office at 5.30. I am a City supporter after all, something with which logic is rarely associated. So jogging half-heartedly, got there in time to grab a seat for a change. Fortunately the Ladies of Hyde United were on hand dispensing hot drinks (50p) and food with a cheery smile and kind word for everyone. Maine Road take note: they put your lot of miserable and rude caterers to shame.

Numerous scouts assembled in the Directors’ box, in fact I’ve never seen so many there. Obviously with transfer deadlines approaching, promotion pushes and relegation dog-fights looming they were out earning their keep, and from the amount of scribbling going on, it was the City lot they were watching. Either that or they were all compiling match reports for McV.

City lined up: Nash, Charvet, Holmes, Grant, Day, Edghill, Whitley x 2, Eagle, SWP and Cooke. On the bench were Shuker, Dunfield, Etuhu, Jordan and McKinney. Minus our guaranteed reserve goal scorer Taylor who was last seen headed north on the M66 to Burnley. Therefore 5 potential squad members for Saturday’s league game against Newcastle.

City had a good 90% of the possession in the first half. In fact Boro were woeful. Nash was assured and commanding from the back line, Day winning everything in the air (seems to have shot up, as young boys do all of a sudden), Holmes, Edghill (looking like he’s found the key to Morrison’s pie cupboard) and Charvet ruling the defence. Charvet seemed to dip in and out of the game as he saw fit, at times making superb passes and through balls up into the Boro area then going absent with a typical display of Gallic arrogance (nice apres-rasage we caught a whiff off afterwards though). Cooke was having a blinding game, better than I’ve seen him play in 12 months. He was up and down the right wing like a proverbial blue-@rsed fly, creating chances and taking shots. Up front SWP worried the Boro defence to death, turning circles and running through them but, despite several attempts, just couldn’t connect the ball with the net. Eagle was, well, disappointing. He seemed to lumber around and missed a few golden opportunities. Perhaps his trainer has left the jesses attached, thus impeding free movement? Or is it a case of feeling he is above reserve action? Midfield were the usual midfield, Grant played OK but nothing special. I seem to recall Boro having one decent shot which Nash duly saved.

Second half came and saw Charvet replaced by Etuhu, Grant by Dunfield. The first 10 minutes of the second half, City let themselves be overrun by Boro – remember those good old half time rollockings of last season which saw the team come out fighting – well who is doing the ‘half time’ now, the National Blood Service? After Tranmere’s turnaround last night, maybe we should get Mr Aldridge in. Mind you I have my own theory on him which is best left unprinted. Soon after, Eagle was replaced to rapturous applause by Shuker. Half his size and twice as fast. With Shuker and SWP up front together, the pace hotted up with them tearing around like two Jack Russells, the game swung easily back to City. Point being that, despite three first teamers having been replaced by Academy boys, we were just as good. Nash had to make a couple of saves but they never really worried us. Murphy’s Law saw Cooke brought down about 10 minutes from time and stretchered off. We were down to 10 men, and still threatening to score. Despite a few more chances, it wasn’t to be.

In summary then, a fairly lacklustre and I have to say disappointing game given the first team contenders involved. Egil: jury is still out. Nash: time to play him on Saturday. Charvet: team or Eurostar ticket depending on how he channels his arrogance. Pitch at Ewen Fields (which is one of the best non-league in the country) looked far better than MR has of late, despite seeing more action. I am concerned that we still cannot convert goal-scoring opportunities. Perhaps during the summer break some of the lads should be sent to the Houllier/Wenger School of Finishing, or whatever the footballing equivalent of a Swiss Finishing School would be.

Fingers crossed Shearer is declared unfit for Saturday.

Heidi Pickup (


I watched the FA Cup 5th Round live on ITV with all the pundits expecting Liverpool to inflict a heavy defeat on the Blues.

The teams lined up:


   Dunne      Morrison     Prior
Haaland  Wiekens   Tiatto  Granville
 Kanchelskis   Goater     Huckerby


Babbel  Henchoz  Hyypia  Carragher
Biscan  Hamann   Smicer  Ziege
    Heskey         Litmanen

Referee: G. Poll

City kicked off defending the left side of my TV screen and gave an early indication of the mode of play for the day i.e. hoof long balls for the 3 forwards to chase. A simple and sometimes effective tactic (for Division 2 football), but not one to worry a well disciplined Liverpool defence.

The first goal on (6 minutes) came from a quick Liverpool counter attack with the ball being put through to Smicer who cut in cleverly from the right. Smicer seemed certain to score when he decided to try to walk the ball in. Weaver dived at the feet of Smicer and pushed the ball away, Smicer fell to the ground and so did Mr. Poll who then promptly awarded a penalty to the home side. The TV replay clearly showed that Smicer had dived, and for the 3rd game in a row City were unjustly punished by the man in black. Litmanen took the penalty and put the spot kick to Weaver’s left, Weaver having dived the wrong way.

City responded by continually losing possession in midfield and allowing wave upon wave of Liverpool attacks. A second goal was inevitable. Wiekens lost possession on the halfway line, the ball found its way to Litmanen who put a superb ball in front of Heskey. Heskey, without managing to fall over, took the ball into the penalty box and drilled a low shot past Weaver from 12 yards. With the score at 0-2 after 12 minutes the drubbing the pundits were predicting looked highly probable.

However, City seemed to rally after the second goal with Huckerby starting to make some runs at the Liverpool rearguard. Haaland managed a weak headed effort at Westerveld to register City’s first attempt on target after 28 minutes.

City continued to press and Tiatto saw a 30-yarder deflected out of play. Tiatto took the resulting corner and found Kanchelskis in acres of space just on the right hand corner of the penalty box. Kanchelskis sensed he had plenty of time and hit a low shot through a crowded penalty area and in off Westerveld’s right hand post. This was the first goal Liverpool had conceded at Anfield since New Year’s Day.

The half ended with a Liverpool free kick right on the edge of the visitors’ penalty area after a centre forward’s tackle by Goater. Ziege took the kick, which was easily blocked by the wall and Mr. Poll immediately blew the half time whistle.

At the restart Liverpool put Barmby on for an injured Litmanen.

Liverpool started the 2nd half the stronger but were in generous mood with Heskey showing his Euro 2000 form with a howling miss from 8 yards. Later Ziege put a great ball in to Barmby who failed to convert what looked like an easy chance.

On 53 minutes Smicer ran into the box and this time really was pulled down by Weaver and the second penalty of the game was awarded. Weaver guessed correctly and dived to his left, but Smicer hammered in an unstoppable penalty to make the score 1-3.

On 60 minutes Joe brought off Morrison for Grant and reverted to a 4-4-2. Morrison splashed some taunting Liverpool fans with his bottle of water and was promptly scolded by a nearby police officer.

City appeared to adjust well the change and should have made the score 2-3. After good work from Tiatto, Haaland played a glorious through ball to Huckerby who lashed a shot over the crossbar from 8 yards with Westerveld well beaten.

Liverpool countered with a 20-yard scorcher from Smicer, which Weaver somehow managed to deflect over the bar. This was to be Smicer’s final contribution and was taken off for Owen. Liverpool made a 2nd substitution on 85 minutes after being awarded a free kick on the right, this time replacing Heskey with Fowler. Ziege whipped in the free kick which Babbel diverted to make the score 1-4.

With the game drawing to a close, City, refusing to lie down, were rewarded on 90 minutes. Huckerby bypassed the Liverpool defence to put a ball in to Goater, who side-footed home. Mr. Poll added on a couple of minutes, which passed without incident. Final score 2-4.

Although City were unlucky with the first penalty, they were fortunate not to have been ripped to shreds during Liverpool’s purple patch during the first 30 minutes. Even so to come back from 0-2 at Anfield and give Liverpool a game was no mean feat. Many teams would have crumbled or received a serious pasting.

Jeff Roycroft (


Brilliant young midfield playmaker – going free!

My boss at work is an avid Leeds Utd fan, he follows the reserves, youth teams, the lot. He has been going on for literally ages about this young lad coming through called Alan Cawley. He is a 19/20-year-old, central midfield playmaker. He is strong, got two great feet (although mainly right-footed). He can play 70/80-yard passes on the proverbial sixpence, got great vision, can tackle and is apparently a very confident player. Anyway, my boss is absolutely gutted because this lad has actually been released(!) by Leeds for some disciplinary offence (not related to the Woodgate/Bowyer case). My boss is fuming with Messrs Risdale and O’Leary because he is convinced having seen him play many times they are letting a real prospect slip through their fingers for nothing, a player that he reckons will end up signing for AC Milan or the like for 20 million quid! In fact he considers him good enough already to be playing in the Elland Road first team right now!

He is currently having trials with Sheffield Wednesday and there is a rumour that Watford may be interested in him too. He sounds like a great prospect, but maybe he comes with some attitude baggage in tow? In any case it must be worth taking a look at him as this is the type of player we are crying out for… whether we’re playing Premier or Division 1 football next season.

Question 1 – Has anyone out there heard of this player, or seen him in action?

Question 2 – Is there any way of passing on hot tips of this sort to the people that matter within Maine Road?

P.S. I believe we can and will get out of this mess – it is not too late but we must win a couple of games on the spin pretty soon! We can’t keep geting bent refs every week, but we must show a little more belief and desire. Derby and Boro ain’t that good, so let’s keep the pressure on them as realistically we need one of those clubs to crack just a little, and replace us in 18th spot. Remember Bradford were in a much worse position last season and baled themselves out with some very unlikely wins against Sunderland and Liverpool. We can do it… C’mon you Blues!

CTID, Jon Reese (


The trip to Germany was an extremely valuable exercise. I have completed a report on the trip and forwarded it to Kate Hoey. The Football Licensing Authority (FLA) are travelling tomorrow to undertake a similar exercise. Until they have returned and produced their report, we shall not issue ours. I shall forward the report to you on release.

The media appear to be keeping the issue of standing areas on their agenda, which of course is good news. I appeared ‘live’ on BBC GMR the day after our return from Germany. The Sunday Mirror and Observer (18th Feb) both featured the issue, with the Observer following up with a further article this coming Sunday (25th Feb). Today’s Daily Mail also has a good size feature supporting Kate Hoey’s efforts to have the issue debated. Talk Sport had an e-mail poll on Tuesday 20th Feb on standing areas. When I voted, the poll was 90% in favour of standing, though I also accept that e-mail voting is often abused (i.e. one individual can vote as many times as they like). When Saturday Comes latest issue published two letters in favour of standing (including one by myself), following on from their editorial in the previous issue. The pleasing aspect of this renewed media interest is that it is all positive. The initial reaction after the Weekend Watchdog programme was to knock Kate Hoey and supporters of standing up – down, all based on the emotional argument involved with this issue.

Those of you who saw the Weekend Watchdog programmes will remember Charlton Athletic’s Chief Executive, Peter Varney, stating his clubs’ desire to have a standing area implemented into the new stand they are about to build. Despite receiving criticism from the footballing authorities for his comments, Varney has again called for standing areas to be allowed, as has the chief of Swansea City Council who are building a stadium for both the City’s football and rugby teams. It appears that, privately, the campaign is gaining support in high places, but the majority are reluctant to come out in public. Hopefully as the media comes out in our favour and more high profile names declare their support, this will be followed by further offers of support making it impossible for the footballing authorities and the Government to ignore the call for a debate.

Once again, I finish by asking you (if you haven’t already done so) to write to your club chairman, fanzine, supporters’ association, MP, Kate Hoey and The Premier League. If you belong to a supporters’ organisation or run a fanzine or website, organise a vote and let the above know the result of the vote. We have reached far further than I ever expected. This is all due to the fact that we have been able to demonstrate that there is huge support for this campaign. Every letter counts and will make a difference.


Phill Gatenby (


New BBC football show SportOn5 Online seeks passionate supporters to share programme notes and tactics.

If you can’t get to a Saturday game and fancy joining us in our London studio to watch and add ‘expert-like!’ comment on your team’s game then get in touch. If you’re going to a game then we’ll call you on your mobile at half time and full time for a view from the stands.

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This article appeared in the London Evening Standard on Tuesday 20th February 2001.

The uninformed might think that the reason Manchester City have lost 15 games this season is because they are cr*p. Wrong. It’s a conspiracy by referees. Just ask Joe Royle. (Martin Chilton)

  • 18 February: After losing 4-2 in the FA Cup at Liverpool, Royleblames Graham Poll for his “ridiculous” spot-kick decision against NickyWeaver. “It wasn’t a penalty, it was fiction.”
  • 10 February: Referee Steve Dunn is the reason City lost to Tottenhambecause he disallowed Darren Huckerby’s goal. “It’s the second perfectlygood goal we’ve had ruled out recently, but sometimes you just don’t get thebreaks.”
  • 3 February: Royle blames Alan Wiley after the 1-1 draw atMiddlesbrough for disallowing a goal by Danny Tiatto. “The TV replay shouldembarrass the ref for the rest of his career. Whether it will or not, Idon’t know.” It’s a cruel world Joe and we expect not.
  • 23 December: Royle points the finger at David Elleray after the 1-0defeat at Sunderland. “They scored from a free-kick and the referee neverblew to have the kick taken.”
  • 19 December: No luck in the Worthington Cup either for Royle, whocastigates Graham Poll after 2-1 defeat by Ipswich. Royle said: “We have nothad one ounce of luck. I didn’t realise decapitation was no longer anoffence. Kevin Horlock has a gash over his ear and how it wasn’t a penaltyI’ll never know. I’m not sure either why Paulo Wanchope’s goal wasdisallowed.”
  • 28 October: Thrashed 5-0 at Arsenal, but still Royle blames refereeRob Styles, claiming Thierry Henry should have been sent off and not Tiatto.Royle said: “I was very disappointed with the officials. The referee’sdecision has changed the game.”
  • 9 September: After the 3-2 Premiership defeat at Liverpool, Joemoans about Graham Barber: “Every 50-50 decision went against us.”


It goes to show that Big Joe all too often looks elsewhere when we get beat. He is beginning to sound like Taggart in the early days before they were all-conquering. Ferguson can now afford to be smug and haughty due to the fact that Man Utd rarely need the official’s assistance any more. Joe on the other hand is moaning about the officials in every game. Am I the only person who thinks that Joe should take a leaf out of Peter Reid’s book and make a pact not to criticise the officials? He should start concentrating on our own shortcomings rather than that of the officials. It is one thing to criticise and another to offer positive ways forward. Joe could start by keeping stuhhm until he has spoken to the players and looked at the replay. If he still thinks that there is a problem with the decisions then take it to Lancaster Gate and ask for an independent review over the incident(s) he has question with. Too often he has moaned about a decision but how often has it been followed up? How often has a major decision been investigated or looked into by our governing bodies? Match reports aside there must be something more Joe could do?

To go one step further Joe could start a campaign for professional referees. After all, with so much money sloshing around football (I know, I work for Sky) can we not afford to have professional referees? He could lobby for Rugby League/Union style decisions with the ref having access to instant slow-mo replays and innumerable camera angles, cameras on the goal lines, laser on the touch lines, big screen to show the world just who has fouled whom and when? It really is time for Joe to stop whining about the unfairness and lottery style decisions in the Premier League and to do something positive to change it. We must be the only top-flight league in the world with amateur referees.

Paul Odusanya (Paul.Odusanya@BSkyB.Com)


I read many of the recent MCIVTAs with dismay. Firstly, there been a number of negative comments about the distance supporters and the need not be the pride of Singapore. I left Manchester at the age of 22, 22 years ago, for a year. I’d grown up as a regular in the Platt Lane as a boy and a season ticket holder as a young man. I’m of the Bell, Lee and Summerbee and later Tueart, Barnes, Marsh… and Joe Royle era. The year thing didn’t pan out and I’ve now lived in Canada for half my life.

I get back once or twice a year and catch a couple of games. We get good Premiership coverage in Canada; two games on Saturday, one live, one tape recorded. We often get a third game on Monday and occasionally a fourth game on Wednesday. The Sunday games are shown on US TV which some of the bars pick up. All in all, we can see a lot of football. We’ve had about 8 City games live or nearly live so far this season.

The live game on Saturday begins at 7am. Last Sunday there was a “double header” of Arsenal/Chelsea and Liverpool/City on US TV, the City game beginning at 10:30 am. This is too early for a bar to be open, and it’s probably not completely legal to charge to watch satellite TV. In Vancouver, The Ex British Services Mens’ Club, located on a major road in an ugly, run down area, quietly opens its back fire exit to its bar where there is a large screen TV (which on Sunday had Liverpool in shocking pink and City in lime green), and several small screen TVs. On Sunday, the room was filled with about 70 fans, mainly ex-mancs and scouses, although some of the Londoners remained for the second game. Nobody who’d been in place like that, and there are many of them scattered around the world, would question for a minute the loyalty or knowledge of these fans. The room was noisy but well behaved throughout. The City fans were passionate. The Liverpool fans were quieter. I think they respect us and feel sorry for us.

I couldn’t write a game report if my life depended on it. The big picture though is clear. We are at least a league away from the likes of Liverpool. Even at the best of times we always had a tough time against them. As others noted this week, the difference now could be summarized simply by looking at the forwards we had on the field and who they had on the bench. I don’t have an emotional attachment to Shaun Goater, because we didn’t see City on TV for the last three years. I wasn’t impressed with him when I did see him at home, and now it’s clear that he’s totally out of his depth. On the few occasions I saw him I thought he missed a lot more than he scored. The goal was his first decent kick of the game, if you don’t count the whack he gave to a Liverpool forward outside our penalty area. Which brings me to the point of writing. I’m not satisfied that Joe Royle has a done a good job for us this year. The lowest that I ever saw City sink was the 2nd Round Cup replay against Darlington a couple of years ago, and Royle has to be given credit for getting us away from that, but the plan this year has been wrong.

It began with the theory that we would begin the season with the players who got us promoted. Then we bought two strikers, one of whom lasted weeks and the other months. Weah was worth a try, but Wanchope had been a failure at West Ham. Why would we want a striker that West Ham didn’t? We then bought a series of squad players who weren’t making the first eleven at various mid-table teams. Why did we want players that Newcastle, Leeds, Everton, Derby and Blackburn didn’t? We haven’t been buying future stars from the lower leagues (I remember who we bought from Bury, Plymouth, Swindon and Bolton in the days of yore) or established stars from anywhere. There seems now to be a view that it’s better to be a squad player at a very large club than a first team regular at a lesser Premiership club, so we don’t have access to the Solskjaers of the world any more.

The season began with defensive disasters like Charlton away and Coventry at home and the focus had to be on shoring up the defence. But this was done at the expense of midfield and the forward line, which has been respectively unimaginative and toothless all year. We’ve been badly thrashed a few times but lost more games and failed to win the critical games by a single goal because of the lack of imagination in midfield and the toothlessness of the forward line. This, I think is because of a series of poor buys, or perhaps an abscence of inspired buys. Goater is not the only player not capable of playing at this level. Wiekens is too slow. Collectively the back four have no ability to contain a penetrative attack like Liverpool’s, or even Charlton’s. It seems common ground that too much has been expected of Nicky Weaver too soon. Why haven’t we given him some time off when there was experienced and reliable cover available? I’ve thought he’s looked nervous in the last couple of games I’ve seen, which leads to the calamity of giving away two penalties in one game (I know that the first one wasn’t properly given), and his quality shows through with the series of saves he made at Middlesbrough and with the second half save (from Smicer?) he made last week.

So, I’m afraid that we deserve to be where we are, because so many parts of our team don’t meet the standard of this league. Having said all that, being a City fan makes us eternal optimists. I think that the last two acquisitions, Huckerby and Kanchelskis are good ones. Both have come off the bench of underachieving clubs, but Leeds had a surplus of legitimate attacking stars and Rangers have numerous problems. They may yet save us, although we are getting close to needing a miracle, given that we must win five of eleven and several of those are impossible, like the Ar*e at home and the S**te away.

I’ve already turned my mind to next season. This squad is stronger than last year’s, and with a couple of midfielders (SWP may be one), Kennedy fit and Cooke playing, we will be strong contenders for promotion. Hopefully we’ll spend the year rebuilding the squad a little more productively. It’s important to remember always that things can get worse. The lad two offices down from me is a Sheffield Wednesday fan. They don’t have the resources to recover.

David Butcher (


I would like to voice my opinions on why we are struggling. If we look at the other two teams who came up with us last summer, then we can see that they have had reasonably good seasons, and are both comfortably away from any relegation dogfight. Last autumn, all the predictions were that City would be the most successful out of the promoted sides; however, it is the reverse. This is due mainly to the lack of consistency in player selection throughout the season. Both Charlton and Ipswich have retained the same squads that have served them for the last few seasons, the players are used to playing with each other. When you look at how City have played this year, the lack of understanding between the players on the opitch is pretty clear. We have chopped and changed the formation and the starting eleven, as much in desperation as in tactical. This has led to the players not having a clue who is playing next week. There is squad rotation, and there is City.

In my view, going down could prove to be the key. It may sound strange to say that, but it could work. Charlton were relegated, and have come back stronger, it worked also for Sunderland. The key is keeping the main players. If we go down and players like Huckerby, Howey, Weaver, Dunne, Haaland etc. don’t stay then we will be left with a skeletal squad, and be going nowhere. If we retain the key players, lose those who are there for sentimental purposes then we can challenge for the title and go up stronger, more settled than before. We were all caught in the euphoria of getting back up last season, when many felt it was ‘too much too fast’. The key areas that are commonly known about will still need to be addressed. If we go down, it may be hard to attract some players to the club, but if we can show the ambition then we can still buy quality. Now the off the field activities have been sorted, the club needs to concentrate on building a squad now and for the future, capable of not being a yo-yo club, but being a regular fixture in the Premier League.

I would welcome views on this.

Ed Bodey (


Does Simon Hope suffer from dementia? I am truly baffled by his Horton post as the stats certainly don’t support his argument. For him to be City’s ultimate manager of the nineties with figures W21 D32 L31, compare with Kendall’s W12 D15 L5 (which laid the foundations for Reid’s two top 6 finishes with figures W48 D27 L36). Now I also remember a great League Cup win at St. James’ Park was pretty exciting and credit is given to Brian but I also remember him laying the seeds to our downfall with his Roylesque dropping of Niall Quinn. I don’t claim that Horton dislikes the Irish on the same scale as Royle appears to dislike Liberians, Costa Ricans and Georgians. I heard some wag say in disgust he must go to Bermuda for his holidays but I think Reid deserves to be put on the pedestal Simon reserved for Horton.

John Mcfarlane (


Simon Hope’s article re the above made interesting reading but let’s not forget…

  1. Horton signed Nicky (Workhorse) Summerbee
  2. He also signed the calamitious Alan Kernaghan
  3. He also played David Brightwell (remember him?) as left back at Old Trafford up against Andrei Kanchelskis
  4. And finally who can forget that dream forward partnership of Michel Vonk and Carl Shutt?

CTID! Ian Haigh (


Sorry to bore you with more ring tone queries but I can’t find Blue Moon on I have an Ericsson T10s phone. Can anyone help?

Terry Baines (


I have one spare ticket for the Newcastle game this weekend. Anyone interested please contact me by email.

David Bowl (


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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.

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Newsletter #686