Newsletter #694

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City Reserves lost their unbeaten record somewhat undeservedly to Liverpool Reserves on Tuesday evening, though it shows what a long way we have come in recent years that our kids looked every bit as good as theirs (including Berger, Diome’de etc) and frequently better. Chris Shuker on loan to Macc Town, and Andy Morrison to Sheffield United, but other than those two, transfer deadline day has proved to be a real ‘non event’.

This one reaches 3,393.

Next game: Aston Villa at home, Saturday 31st March 2001

NEWS SUMMARY

Part I – Transfer News and Rumours

Quietest Deadline Day Royle Has Known: Joe Royle flew back from Manchester City’s Spanish training camp to be on hand for any last-minute deals ahead of the Thursday transfer deadline. But the Blues’ boss ended up having a quiet day. Royle had already played down the prospect of any incoming deals this week, claiming that clubs weren’t prepared to release the players in whom he had an interest. And there were no cash bids for any of City’s out-of-favour stars either, meaning that the likes of Andy Morrison, Richard Edghill and Terry Cooke are still on the pay-roll. Having earlier in the week released Tommy Wright, deadline day saw the City manager sanction the extension of Gareth Taylor’s temporary stint at Burnley and agree loan moves for Morrison and youngster Chris Shuker. But he nevertheless reflected that the season’s last day for transfer dealing was not nearly as frenzied now as it used to be. “The transfer market as we knew it is dying,” he told the official club website at http://www.mcfc.co.uk/. “There used to be pages of transfers on deadline day, now there is maybe a single page and most of those are frees or loans.”

City Relent as Blades Borrow Morrison: Joe Royle had insisted that Andy Morrison would not be allowed to leave Manchester City on loan ahead of this week’s transfer deadline. But with no bid to sign the big defender on a permanent basis forthcoming, the Blues’ boss has relented. Morrison has joined Sheffield United on a month’s loan, and Royle feels that the move is in the best interests of all parties. “I have spoken to Andy and he is happy with the move,” explained the City manager on the club’s official website. “I had said that I didn’t want him to go on loan, but at the same time if there are no permanent sales we may as well let him go and get first team football somewhere. At the moment we are well served with centre halves.”

Bolton Take Over Wright’s Contract: Tommy Wright will stay at Bolton until the end of the season. The Manchester City goalkeeper had been on loan with the Trotters but has now joined in a short-term permanent deal. Wright’s Maine Road contract was due to expire in June, and Bolton have now taken over the arrangement after the signing of Bradford goalkeeper Matt Clarke on loan for the rest of the season necessitated the permanent signing of the ex-Nottingham Forest man. The promotion chasers also have Middlesbrough striker Andy Campbell on a temporary basis, and regulations allow clubs to have only two loan players at any one time. The signing of Carlo Nash in January left the former Northern Irish international as third-choice goalkeeper at Maine Road, a rôle now to be filled by Richard McKinney. The 21-year-old has been strongly linked with Bristol Rovers in recent days but the Pirates have instead taken West Ham goalkeeper Alex O’Reilly on a free transfer and McKinney will remain with the Blues at least until he becomes a free agent this summer.

Youngster Shuker Joins Macc On Loan: Joe Royle is a big believer in using the loan system to develop the young players at his disposal. And Chris Shuker has become the latest Manchester City starlet to be given a chance to gain experience in the lower divisions. Shuker has joined Macclesfield Town on loan, and will stay at Moss Rose for the rest of the season for what will be his first taste of senior football. Despite producing impressive form in the City reserve side, including a two-goal display against Manchester United in November, the closest the teenager has so far come to making his senior bow was when he was among the substitutes for the abandoned Worthington Cup clash with Ipswich before Christmas. Now the Liverpool-born youngster will be hoping to use his stint with the Third Division side as a prelude to pushing for his breakthrough at Maine Road next term.

Taylor’s Burnley Stint Extended: Gareth Taylor has spent the last four weeks at Burnely. And Manchester City have now agreed to extend the 28-year-old’s loan for another month. Taylor has scored only once in six games for the Lancashire club, but boss Stan Ternent has been delighted with the striker’s overall impact. The ex-Sheffield United man will be keen to continue his good form – his Maine Road contract expires in the summer, and after being impressed with the set-up at Turf Moor, he’s already indicated that he’d like to secure a long-term contract with the Clarets.

Edghill – No Choice But to Leave: Although Manchester City have made Richard Edghill available for transfer, no club attempted to secure the full-back’s services before this week’s transfer deadline. But even so, the former City skipper has accepted he has no future at Maine Road, and is keen to leave as soon as possible. Edghill was transfer-listed in January, and it had been rumoured that he might this week find a new employer, with Huddersfield, Bolton, Blackburn, Watford and Portsmouth all said to be interested in signing him. Now, though, he’ll have to wait until the summer to secure his move away from the Blues. The 26-year-old admits it will be a huge wrench to sever his ties with the club when he does finally leave, but he reluctantly agrees that moving on is the best thing for his career. “The sooner everything is done and dusted the better,” he said, “although there will be regrets when I go and in many ways I will be extremely sad. This club has been part of me for nearly half my life.”

Part II – Miscellaneous News and Views

City Hit by New Kennedy Injury Scare: Mark Kennedy was hoping to force his way back into the Manchester City side for the Blues’ survival battle. But the Irishman’s participation in the season’s closing games must once again be in doubt after he suffered another injury setback. Kennedy was withdrawn from the midweek reserve game against Liverpool after his recent achilles tendon problem flared up again. The ex-Liverpool and Wimbledon player will be hoping the damage on this occasion is only minor as he bids for a bright end to what has been a disappointing personal campaign; a combination of tactical considerations and fitness worries have meant that the 24-year-old has started only eleven league games this term.

Wright-Phillips Wants to Stay for Life: Shaun Wright-Phillips is only at the beginning of his career. But the talented youngster says he would like to spend the rest of his footballing life with Manchester City. Wright-Phillips made just two starts as City won promotion last season, but the 19-year-old broke into the Blues’ senior line-up for an extended run earlier this term and impressed in all respects except in front of goal. And the highly-rated graduate of the Blues’ Academy says he’s developed such an affection for the club that he wants to stay for good. “I love it at City,” he revealed. “The way I feel about the club I never want to leave. It has been a good season for me overall and I now want to rediscover my best form and be around the first team a little bit more.”

Weaver Poised for Under-21 Start: Nicky Weaver is set to play for the England under-21s against Finland at Barnsley on Friday. The Manchester City goalkeeper is rated likely to get the nod after Leeds’ Paul Robinson withdrew from the squad. With Robinson having fractured a finger, Weaver is vying with Coventry’s Chris Kirkland for selection for the game. And it’s thought that the ex-Mansfield junior’s greater experience will ensure he wins the vote of coach Howard Wilkinson. Meanwhile, Richard Dunne is expected to feature for the Republic of Ireland in their World Cup qualifier in Cyprus, while Rhys Day and Shaun Holmes will hope to be picked for the Welsh and Northern Irish under-21 sides against Armenia and the Czech Republic respectively.

Ferguson Hoping That City Survive: Manchester City are battling for their Premiership future. And an unlikely source has this week wished the Blues well in their relegation scrap. Sir Alex Ferguson might be the manager of City’s closest rivals. But the Manchester United boss is hoping that Joe Royle will inspire the Blues to a great escape. “I think it’s great for Manchester if they do stay up,” he claimed. “It’s healthy for the city to have two successful teams. Joe did a great job of getting them there but playing in the Premiership is another level and unfortunately they’re also now in the dogfight.”

Lee Set for Players’ Association Rôle: It’s now three years since Francis Lee stood down as Manchester City chairman in acrimonious circumstances. But the 55-year-old could soon renew his links with the Blues. Lee is set to take over as chairman of City’s Former Players’ Association, replacing the retiring Roy Clarke. Despite presiding over an unhappy period during his boardroom stint, the ex-England international undoubtedly remains one of the Blues’ greatest-ever players following a Maine Road career in which he scored 143 goals for the club and was instrumental in the successes of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Nash – Maine Road Move Was the Right One: Carlo Nash has yet to feature at senior level despite having been at Manchester City for more than two months. But the ex-Crystal Palace goalkeeper has no regrets over his move to Maine Road. Nash opted to join the Blues from Stockport in January despite rival offers from Wolves and West Brom. But the 27-year-old still feels he made the right choice, and is relishing being part of a set-up far superior to the one he was used to at Edgeley Park. “The big difference between here and at Stockport is the quality of players,” he reflected, “but the facilities are fantastic, too – particularly the gym which we have now at Carrington. You can’t really compare it with Stockport as they don’t have the money to spend on such things.”

Part III – Reserve News

Liverpool End City’s Unbeaten Run: Manchester City reserves this week suffered a first defeat for over four months. Liverpool were the team to end the Blues’ unbeaten sequence, winning 2-1 at Hyde on Tuesday. City found themselves two down as Czech international Patrick Berger scored one goal and created another for Frenchman Bernard Diomede. The Blues pulled one back through Leon Mike in the 65th minute but found a comeback beyond them. City fielded an inexperienced side against the Merseysiders, with Paulo Wanchope and Andy Morrison the most notable names on the team-sheet; Mark Kennedy, Richard Edghill and Kevin Horlock were missing from the line-up.

Peter Brophy (peterbrophy@mancity.net)

MCFC RESERVES vs. LIVERPOOL RESERVES

A freezing cold night on Tuesday saw a depleted MCFC team, unbeaten since November, line up against the rampant Liverpool. Approaching the ground I heard the announcement of their team; Patrick Berger – that took me back to when we played them and they had Fowler and co on the bench! There were a few other first teamers: Diomede, Heggem and Vignal. Oh great, I thought, here comes the end of an unbeaten run. With Kennedy, Horlock and Edghill out for one reason and another the rest of the first team over in La Manga for their spring tanning, sorry training, break, City lined up: McKinney, McCarthy, Mears, Dunfield, Morrison, Jordan, Schuker, Toppmöller, Wanchope, Mike and Cooke. McKinney is the young goalie we are releasing at the end of the season and, when I’ve seen him previously, hasn’t really impressed. Great, I thought, we’re in for a thumping. Mears is one of the lads from the successful youth team. Cooke was back from his injury. With Mike back from his loan spells, Dunfield drafted in and Killen on the bench it was just like watching the youngsters from a couple of years back. The usual posse of scouts were in attendance.

I apologise in advance for those who like their details: I don’t take notes at games and I wasn’t checking my watch constantly for the fear of exposing flesh to frostbite. Anyway, City started brightly, incredibly so given that so many regulars were out. Within the first 15-20 minutes we had two good attempts on goal, but Wanchope had obviously taken some kind of soporific prior to his long haul flight out to Costa Rica for international duty. Indeed all game he failed to realise what was going on or put any power behind any shots – his usual act of trying to be too clever and string together too many movements. The best shot, which had us all on our feet cheering for about 5 seconds, came from a lovely piece of play from Mike to Cooke who had run the length of the pitch and powered the ball across the box from the right where it hit what appeared to be the inside of the left post and somehow ricocheted out instead of into the net. Frustration all round. Lots of end-to-end play although City had the majority of the possession and three good attempts on goal. Liverpool also had a shot which rebounded off the post but it wasn’t as good as our effort. Eventually, true to form, Liverpool somehow broke forward when Berger passed through to Diomede and on 40ish minutes they scored, against the run of the play and thoroughly undeserved.

Into the break, too many people queuing for coffee so we had a brisk walk round the ground and got ready for the second half. We came back out fighting; unfortunately within 10 minutes Patrick (flowing locks) Berger powered home a ball from 20 yards out. Good goal, but he went off after that which was fine by me. Credit to the Blues, they never let their heads drop – are you listening first team – and despite being 2-0 down kept on fighting. We had a few good chances again with sterling work from midfield and then City broke down the left from Jordan to Shuker and through to Mike who duly scored on about 65 minutes – a lovely piece of play and great to see it was the young’uns. Killen came on for Topmöller about 80 minutes, he’s been having yet another good game (definitely think we should hold on to him, only his 3rd game and he’s fitted in very well) but unfortunately our young Kiwi couldn’t help us on to the equaliser. That was to be the final scoreline, which was jolly disappointing. The lads, with the exception of Paulo, played well and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the boys linking up again. Dunfield impressed many, Shuker was made MotM (disagree here, I’d have said Mike for his consistency), and we certainly have a few names coming through who I only hope we can hold on to in years to come. Finally, young Richard McKinney actually had a super game, some assured catches and saves and the two goals he didn’t really stand a chance with, so with Tommy seemingly out of contention now given his semi-permanent loan, why are we getting rid of the number three choice with nobody coming through to replace him?

Heidi Pickup (heidi@mancity.net)

ESSEX AND SUFFOLK CSA – AN EVENING WITH NICK LEESON

The next meeting of the Essex & Suffolk branch of the CSA will take place on Friday 23rd March from 8.30pm at The Seabrights Barn, Galleywood, Chelmsford, Essex. With special guest Nick Leeson, the evening will be an informal question and answer session. There will also be a raffle for a signed City ball plus other prizes. Any monies raised will be donated to the charity of Nick Leeson’s choice.

For further information and directions contact me at the address below:

Thanks and regards, Cliff Shelley (cshelley@clifford-thames.com)

EAST YORKSHIRE CENTENARY SUPPORTERS’ ASSOCIATION MEETING

The next meeting of the CSA Branch is on Monday 26th March at 8pm in the Beaver pub, North Bar Within near St Mary’s Church and Saturday Market Place in Beverley town centre. We’ve had a recent flurry of enquiries from potential new members (some of whom have already signed up without attending a meeting!) so we should have a bigger turnout than usual. Anyone else that’s interested in meeting up with fellow Blues from the East Yorkshire area (we currently have members travelling in from places as far apart as Stamford Bridge, Driffield, Hornsea, Hull and Hessle as well as those from Beverley itself) should either get in touch with me beforehand or simply turn up on the night.

Geoff Donkin, Secretary – East Yorkshire CSA, 01482 864372 (geoff@donkin.freeserve.co.uk)

STADIUM NAME

Don’t want to worry anyone but… with City moving to the Eastlands Stadium in 2 and a bit years, many people wondered what the stadium would be called. At first it seemed to be called City of Manchester Stadium (or CoMStad), then the name of SportCity seemed to come into vogue. Many people simply call it Eastlands, or the Eastlands stadium. Some people have suggested naming it after a previous City great – The Joe Mercer Stadium, the Steve Lomas Stadium, even The Matt Busby Stadium, something like that, but I can be sure it would just cause more arguments Many new stadiums have sold “naming rights” – The Reebok Stadium, JJB Stadium, Britannia Stadium. But my suggestion is to emulate Witton Albion, who have renamed their ground “the Bargain Booze Stadium”; now that’s the sort of name I would want for our new home!

CTID, Jim Curtis (jimcurtis@cwcom.net)

ENGLAND ACTION

Any Blues going to Anfield for the England-Finland game, be sure to get your free copy of the fanzine from the FSA/One-2-One Embassy we’re running on the day.

For any there on Friday, there is a friendly game being held at Albert Dock between England-Finland fans and media which could be a good laugh as it’s on some kind of inflatable pitch (though not, I am told, Fred’s weather map which would make things more interesting).

Finally, any Blues coming to the U21 game in Barnsley on Friday night, be sure to wear your colours and support our ‘keeper.

Heidi Pickup (heidi@mancity.net)

SAFE

22nd March. This is only a short one. Tomorrow, Friday 23rd March, at 7pm, BBC1’s Weekend Watchdog are again featuring the campaign for standing areas. A new nationally based website is being developed on this subject, with information on how you can get involved and a list of MP’s who have signed an early day motion, so you can contact your MP and ask him / her why they haven’t signed up!

More websites for you to look at:

http://www.safestanding.com/

A copy of our report from our trip to Germany is available at http://www.imusa.org.uk/libraryd/germany.htm.

Finally, a copy of the Football Licensing Authority’s report on their trip to Germany is available at: http://www.flaweb.org.uk/KombiSeatingReport.htm.

Phill Gatenby (safestanding@hotmail.com)

PREDICTION

I had a go at working out what we need to do over the next 8 games and it looks, well not particularly easy:

Aston Villa     Home            27 + 3        = 30          Must Win
Everton         Away            30 + 1[3]     = 31[33]      Draw or Win
FA Cup Semi-Final               Just in for my hopeful dream (that didn't come true)
Arsenal         Home            31[33] + 3    = 34[36]      Must Win
Leicester City  Away            34[36] + 1[3] = 35[39]      Draw or Win
Man Utd         Away            35[39] + 1[3] = 36[42]      Draw or Win
West Ham Utd    Home            36[42] + 3    = 39[45]      Must Win
Ipswich Town    Away            39[45] + 1[3] = 40[48]      Draw or Win
FA Cup Final                    Just in for my hopeful dream (that didn't come true)
Chelsea         Home            40[48] + 3    = 43[51]      Must Win

If we win, as we should do, our home games then we could stay up!

Andy Wright (andy.wright@psd.maff.gsi.gov.uk)

OPINION – BRADFORD GAME

Bradford Game Viewed on US TV

The game was on over here, tape delayed, Saturday morning (Pacific Coast time). I can’t do a match report as it wasn’t really a match was it – two desperate teams with little guile or control struggling for points. If City continue to play like this there is no chance of survival – but I can’t see where the improvement is going to come from, let alone the points. Everton look to be the team we have to catch… oh it’s all so depressing.

However, my family and I leave for the UK tomorrow and, all being well, should be at the Villa game. It’s a blo*dy rotten thing to do to a three-year-old I know, but if I have suffered all my life then I think it only fair to pass the despair on to another generation. And he will be able to say he saw City in the Premiership and at Maine Road.

Best wishes, John Pearson (john.pearson@stanford.edu)

OPINION – JOE ROYLE

OK, I have watched this site for the last 8 years from my base in Taiwan. I have never contributed to the site although I went to the play-offs. Cost me a fortune. My first game was about 1961. I saw Bert sent off (against Wolves I think). I have a view. I think Joe is not right for this club. Why? Because he – from this distance – seems so immature. If the players are so sh*t scared, how can we have the confidence to go forward?

Tony Goodwin (tonygo@ficnet.net)

OPINION – CONSPIRACY THEORY

I am a supporter of Joe Royle for his efforts thus far, so I don’t write this to bag him, only for you to ponder…

Would it be plausible, to assume that when we make the cut this season that Joe may get the board’s “push” of confidence? On the other hand if we did happen to drop down to the First Division, I would say he would be guaranteed of keeping the top job. Could it be at all possible that Joe is looking out for his own interests at this time of the season?

As I said, something to think about…

True Blue, Bronson Justus (bjustus@elders.com.au)

OPINION – ANDY MORRISON

Is there only me that is disappointed in Andy Morrison no longer being considered for the team? I heard his interview on GMR regarding his loan move to Sheffield United and he seemed really upset and disillusioned. I also heard one a few weeks ago and he sounded really hurt saying it had been made perfectly clear to him where he stood. Andy is a rare breed – a leader on the pitch – a real captain who can organise and will not let anybody hide or give less than 100 per cent. He’s never let us down and he has not been given a fair chance at proving himself in the Premiership. If he does go I wish him all the best and would like to say thanks Andy for everything. Secondly, certain subscribers talk about the benefits of going down to the 1st Division. Does it not occur to some fans that there is no guarantee that we will return to the Premiership at the first attempt, or whether we will return at all?

Last but not least, Joe Royle said at Bradford that some of his players seemed to be playing for the 1-0 win; surely it was Royle himself that thought this way as it was him who decided to take off Huckerby and replace him with Whitley and then shortly after that Bradford scored 2 goals to take the lead? Joe Royle never fails to amaze me. I really feel that we could not have done worse in the Premiership had we kept our original team from the 1st Division; they may have had limited ability but you could never question their fighting spirit, heart and passion. I have my doubts about the present players. Joe Royle has proved that he is hopeless with money as he has had more bad buys than good and he has really upset the team spirit. I know they are always going on about the togetherness and the team spirit but the way they play sometimes I think the spirit they talk about is the alcoholic variety! Right, I have said my bit, which I am entitled to do, as it takes me a month working as a part time classroom assistant to pay for my new season ticket and yet the team can perform like they did at Bradford and they get a week away in the sun. Nice work if you can get it.

Moan over.

Elaine Taylor (elaine.taylor@tesco.net)

OPINION – THAT TIME AGAIN

After all the tribalistic ranting of the past two promotion campaigns, it is now time for me to carry out my other great City-Spring-Hobby: Introspective Relegation Watch. Hoorah. The draw at Bradford has finally brought it on. I cannot wait any longer. I am now in full relegation watch mode. Where are the points coming from, where are our rivals going to slip, who is failing to engage forward gear etc. In ’96 when alan ball ordered us to decamp to the corner flag, the situation was similarly tense by this time: 27 points from 30 games. Exactly the same as now. We then beat Southampton (the Goal of the Century game) to boost to 30 points and 15th place. No dearly departed Bradford that year, just slow smell of death, Bolton and QPR, with Coventry (who they?) and Southampton our rivals for the drop. A trip to West Ham ended in tears (2-4) before a hopeless 1-1 at Bolton. This had a similar lead balloon effect to last Saturday’s result from the Lack of a Pulse Stadium at Valley Parade. With Southampton getting duffed up 3-0 at QPR and Coventry losing at Spurs, we stayed 16th with 5 to go. Then, glory glory, we lost to the Swamp Dwellers and got turned over at Wimbledon (0-3), leaving us 17th on 31 points from 35 games. With a rotting smell coming from Maine Road, we suddenly managed the magic back-to-back wins (oh, pleeeeeeease!) – Sheff Wed 1-0 and Villa (a) 1-0, giving us a last day chance, which of course we failed to take, going down with 38 points. 11 points from the last 8 games and we still went down…

Having said that “the next game is critical” for too long already, I have decided to surprise no-one by maintaining that the next game is critical. We have a great record against Villa, they are misfiring badly at the moment and we need to squash them to set up what could be quite a game at Gloomyson Park. Discounting Derby who have found home form and are off and running, Middlesbrough have a tough run-in but sadly have Alen Boksic to make up for the rest of the team. Everton are in trouble. Big trouble. A win v. Villa would really put the sh*t up them for our next match. They have to play all our home fixtures away (i.e. Villa, West Ham, Arsenal, Chelsea) and have a Merseyside derby at home, as well as us, Bradford and Sunderland. Not easy. It looks like Boro or Everton if we are to escape, but first we have to turn our own form around. It starts v. Villa. Tin helmets on, lights off and don’t hold your breath when the Colombian is put through one-on-one with Mr Weaver…

Simon Curtis (np27ao@mail.telepac.pt)

OPINION – AND NOW THE END IS NEAR…

This was the game to win, everyone knew it and it seemed pretty realistic that 3 points were there, if not for the taking, then considering our decent away form, definitely probable. Oh dear! What a disjointed, mediocre performance with the exception of the ever-dependable Tiatto plus Dunne and later Ostenstad. Maybe one could excuse the defence and give marks 6/7 from 10, but overall this was watching two 1st Division teams in waiting.

What worries most is the manner we allowed Bradford to take control of the game after we scored first (again!) with Carbone man of the match by a mile and with McCall overpowering the fading Grant. The first 20 minutes of the second half were as bad as anything I’ve seen this season.

However, with the introduction of Ostenstad we came back in the last 25 minutes and when Kennedy also arrived we looked as if we might sneak an undeserved win, with the Goat appearing to miss an opportunity with about 5 minutes left.

Recently we have bemoaned decisions going ‘against us’ – on Saturday the pendulum swung our way with Granville appearing to ‘shirt pull’, and I’m sure the ball was out of Weaver’s hands prior to the rugby style tackle. I haven’t seen the replay but at that moment I thought – oh s..t, a penalty and a sending off!

So I guess we need 12 or 13 points from 8 games with 4 of those being against sides with European aspirations. As was pointed out to me by a ‘Red’ at work today, just to make me feel worse – if United don’t beat Liverpool it might be the Derby game that gives them the Championship and delivers City to Division 1.

What JR has to do is to try and get the team looking for the ball and playing with confidence, preferably in the opposition’s half of the pitch. A win seems a long way off when you get the feeling players don’t want the ball and get rid of it as fast as possible.

So come on City – even though Bradford won’t dare charge £27 next year – we don’t want to go there again!

Richard Cooper via Andy Noise (Andrew.Noise@CEL-International.com)

OPINION – FERGUSON

The derby looms… according to Football 365 Ferguson would “Love to see City avoid relegation”. So does anyone reckon he’ll be true to his word and let us have a measly 3 points? I mean they don’t need ’em do they?

Lance Thomson (lnt@btinternet.com)

OPINION – SEASON TICKETS

I get MCIVTA through a friend who copies it to a few of us at work. However, I have to say that I am not alone in agreeing completely with Heidi’s piece in the last issue and Andrew Dixon’s.

Come on Mr Cash, get your facts right before you start having a go at people who obviously go to most of the games and care about other fans too being penalised. I have had a season ticket for a while and can’t get to every game, like a lot probably, but that is a risk I take. Saying that you have to pay so much more for individual tickets isn’t really true, you probably pay up to £50 more, you get to spread the cost out throughout the 10 month season and you get to pick and choose which games you go to. It seems to be the green eyed monster is at work.

Perhaps our club are trying to weed out the ordinary working fan by increasing prices and replace them with the corporate jollies which bring bigger revenues for our move to the new stadium. Sad, but a fact of life in football today. And as for those ticket touts, then no, people should not line their pockets, but it has been going on for years right in front of Maine Road and other grounds and the police take not a blind bit of notice. Similarly the purchasing of counterfeit shirts and merchandise or shoddy copies is illegal, but people don’t bat an eyelid at that.

J Bennett (bennettj10@hotmail.com)

OPINION – SHAMELESS HYPOCRISY

Is it just me, or am I the only person who is getting fed up with Joe Royle’s totally shameless hypocrisy?

In the Daily Mail at the weekend, Royle stated regarding the Wanchope affair that he “wasn’t the sort of manager who believed in ostracising players…” Now please, please give me a break on this one. Where do I begin to name the players struck off by this manager?

He then harps on about defence, defence, defence as if we can somehow win matches by simply stopping the opposition from scoring. As if we would not be where we are, but for the defence somehow letting ‘him’ down. For goodness sakes, how much has JR spent on defenders this year, and yet he still hasn’t got it right has he? For example, why is Charvet ‘in’, and Edghill ‘out’? I know who I’d rather see playing for City as a full back.

He then said:

“We got nervous after we’d gone in front, maybe some of the players were guilty of thinking they could hold on for a 1-0 win.”

Now I agree that there was one person at the game who was definitely thinking like that. And that idiot and hypocrite did his usual trick of taking off an attacker (Huckerby) as soon as conveniently possible, switching to defence with the entirely predictable result that we conceded a goal. How can he blame anyone (read everyone) but himself in this regard?

The only positive thing to take from the whole shambles of this season is, that the cautious, ‘defend first’, ‘play as a unit’, ‘distrust flair’ mentality that pervades Royle’s thinking has been shown to be the total charade that some of us have known it to have been for a long time.

Finally though, we get the closing insult from the Bradford débâcle. In the Daily Mail today, Royle said of City’s supporters under a headline: ROYLE SCORNS THE FANS WHO HAVE GIVEN UP.

“Maybe one or two of our fans have lost heart, but we haven’t.”

Most of my thoughts on this verge on the unprintable. Firstly, who exactly are “we” if it’s not the blo*dy fans (my blood is boiling at this point, so forgive me).

Secondly, how dare he be so insidiously divisive and introduce some kind of ‘us and them’ mentality between the club and its supporters. For goodness sake, what more can we do?

Thirdly, when I think of those loyal Blues who go home and away every week, who don’t give JR, the Chairman and the team even a second’s grief when they have more reason than most to do so, who have witnessed so many false declarations of intent and so many broken promises, well my head could simply explode with pent-up emotion. But let me get this right – the Bradford débâcle was somehow related to the attitudes and faults of the players, and if not them, the supporters.

Do I speak for a good number here when I say that we the fans never, and I mean never, could lose our ‘heart’ in this club. I swell with pride whenever I get to be amongst the throng: little away pub, jam-packed terrace with a dodgy view, expensive and pointless away trip for a monster thrashing… it’s a buzz for me anyway and it always will be. Lose heart when surrounded by Blues? Get off my case.

Whilst I’ve held myself pretty much back this season, I just cannot tolerate any criticism levelled at the supporters for the (perpetually bad) state of this club. Hence this explosive outburst. Damn it, we may never be ‘too good to go down’ but I know that this squad is good enough to stay up, no problem. And I know absolutely that this support really is the best you can get.

However, if I’m asked whether I’ve lost heart in anything or anyone? Then my answer is easy:

“Royle. From Day One mate.”

Yes, I am actually now grateful that Gio has gone, so that at least JR cannot heap all the blame on him, as intimated previously. Thank heavens for small mercies.

We can still stay up – it is not impossible, a few wins and we are on our away. But sadly it’s not in our hands, instead its in Joe’s. I urge you all to go to each game, defy JR, and roar your heads off for this club.

I’m Keeping the Faith in City, Neil Haigh (nhaigh@relayer.u-net.com)

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The views expressed in MCIVTA are entirely those of the subscribersand there is no intention to represent these opinions as being thoseof Manchester City Football Club, nor of any of the companies anduniversities by whom the subscribers are employed. It is not inany way whatsoever connected to the club or any other relatedorganisation and is simply a group of supporters using this mediumas a means of disseminating news and exchanging opinions.


[Valid3.2]Ashley Birch, mcivta@tollbar.u-net.com

Newsletter #694

2001/03/22

Editor:


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