Newsletter #703

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Where there’s life there’s hope and this issue has an upbeat assessment of our chances of playing Premiership footy next season. Realistically I guess the best we all hoped for was that the derby wouldn’t see the Rags given the chance to relegate us as we did them, and as it turned out we could so easily have won it had our luck and finishing been better on the day. Not many teams will go there, concede two penalties and still not lose; not many players would walk off the pitch after a tackle of the sort dished out by one Roy Keane. We had a fairly raucous and intoxicated gathering of Blues in Beverley – I have vague recollections of the walk home 🙂 so how was it for you? I thought we played with passion and determination, something we’ll need to maintain if we’re to maintain the mathematical chance of staying up but it’s too much beyond our immediate control to do anything other than hope for a miraculous turn of events.

Not as many inputs as I’d anticipated for this issue; are you all still taking it in? One eyewitness report from Heidi as well as some TV views (I was incapable frankly!), regular inputs from Pete Brophy and Ken Corfield, and opinion on all sorts of things.

Ash is back in the Editor’s Chair for the next issue so inputs to him at mcivta@tollbar.u-net.com please for Thursday and until further notice. As an aside, exactly 100 issues ago, Ash wrote in MCIVTA 603:

“It seems barely a few weeks ago that City were celebrating deliverance from the backwoods of Division 2, and here we are again nearly 50 weeks on, celebrating yet another unbelievable conclusion to a season. Sunday produced a performance which has increasingly become this particular team’s trademark, a woeful first 45 minutes followed by an inspired second forty-five. What matters is that we are now promoted, so we can all sit back and savour the moment, the day, the week, and maybe even the month!”

How we’d like him to be able to write a similarly upbeat ending to this season.

Next game: West Ham at home, Saturday 28th April 2001

NEWS SUMMARY

Part I – Weekend Results and Reaction

Howey Earns City Old Trafford Draw: Manchester City on Saturday earned their first point in a derby match against rivals United for eight years. The Blues came from behind, with a Steve Howey goal clinching a creditable draw against the Premiership champions. City impressed early on, with Gerard Wiekens seeing a deflected shot come back off the crossbar and Paulo Wanchope taking the ball too wide after rounding Barthez, allowing Jaap Stam to come back and clear off the line. But the Reds enjoyed the territorial advantage after the break, and after Paul Scholes had fired a penalty wide on the hour, Teddy Sheringham scored from a second spot kick eleven minutes later. Carlo Nash almost kept out the ex-Spurs man’s effort and made several other good saves in the second period, but the Blues didn’t give up and were rewarded six minutes from time when Howey turned in a Paul Dickov corner to equalise. Almost immediately after the leveller, the Reds lost Roy Keane, sent off after a horrendous knee-high lunge at Alfie Haaland, an incident that dominated most reports of the game.

Royle Delighted With City Display: Manchester City emerged from Saturday’s trip to Old Trafford with a draw that confounded the expectations of bookmakers and pundits. And Joe Royle was delighted by the form his side showed to take their first point from their greatest rivals since March 1993. City had chances to go ahead in the first half of the match. But it was the Blues’ spirit once the Reds had taken the lead after the break that delighted the Maine Road manager. “We could have gone into the break in the lead,” Royle told the official club website at http://www.mcfc.co.uk/. “We got about them well. We were terrific throughout the team and I thought Jeff Whitley was outstanding. When we got away with the first penalty and then the second one came along, I thought it was going to be difficult. But we kept going, the equaliser came, and it was great that it was scored at our fans’ end.”

Fergie Slams Sloppy United: Alex Ferguson saw his Manchester United side fail to beat Manchester City on Saturday, a second disappointment of the week for the Reds. And the Old Trafford boss was disappointed by his side’s derby display against the Blues. Ferguson had seen United eliminated by Bayern Munich in the European Champions’ League quarter finals on Wednesday. And the Reds then failed to produce a backlash to make City pay for their midweek disappointment. But their manager didn’t feel the Premiership champions deserved any better from the derby clash. “We have no excuses – it was a sloppy performance,” he said, “and we didn’t pass the ball well. If you play like that, you can’t expect to win games. City’s goal was bad defending on our part, but they probably deserved it.”

Haaland Angered by Keane Tackle: Roy Keane’s sending off for a horrific foul on Alfie Haaland was the main talking point after Manchester City’s trip to Old Trafford on Saturday. And the City skipper was in no mood to forgive and forget once the game was over. The history of bad blood between the players dates back four years, when the Irishman sustained a serious knee injury as he attempted to foul Haaland, who was then playing for Leeds. And on Saturday, as the Norwegian lay prone after the foul, Keane clearly shouted abuse at him – though neither Joe Royle nor his captain would reveal what was said. “Let’s just say it wasn’t very nice,” revealed the 28-year-old. “I’m only glad my leg was off the ground, otherwise he would have done me a lot of damage. I must upgrade my insurance the next time we play Manchester United. There are always hard fouls in a game like this, but that was well over the top and it was a clear sending off.”

‘Boro Win Pushes City Closer to the Drop: Manchester City took a creditable point from the derby clash with neighbours United on Saturday. But the Blues still ended the day two points further away from the safe haven of seventeenth place in the Premiership. City are still in nineteenth place in the top flight, but gained a point on Coventry, who lost at Ipswich. Gordon Strachan’s men are now two points ahead of the Blues, but Middlesbrough, Derby and Everton are a further four points ahead. ‘Boro enjoyed their second successive 3-0 away win as they added to the current woes of out-of-form Leicester, while defeats for the Rams and Walter Smith’s side mean that neither side is yet assured of survival. City will almost certainly need to win all three remaining fixtures, and then hope for major assistance from elsewhere, if they are to survive, while a defeat at home to West Ham next Saturday would seal relegation.

Howey – Old Trafford Atmosphere Was Poor: Steve Howey scored the goal that gave Manchester City a creditable draw in Saturday’s Old Trafford derby. And after the game, the ex-England defender reflected that the Blues’ support had once again been in fine voice. Howey said that the 3,000 City fans inside the stadium had been more audible from the pitch than the 64,000 United followers present on the day. And the one-time Newcastle player believes that, despite its much greater capacity, the Reds’ home ground has an atmosphere much worse than that at Maine Road. “As players all we could hear were our fans,” he claimed. “Once again they were fantastic. Manchester United had quite a few fans here but they didn’t really make a great deal of noise. In terms of the noise from their fans I think I have to agree with Roy Keane.”

Fears of Derby Trouble Fail to Materialise: Before the match, there had been fears that crowd trouble could mar Saturday’s Manchester derby. But once the game was over, police praised fans for their behaviour. Prior to match day, seven supporters were detained with a view to preventing disorder. And City fans were kept inside the stadium following the final whistle to allow the home supporters to disperse, while there was a significant police presence both along routes to Old Trafford and in Manchester city centre to defuse potential flashpoints. So successful were the measures that a Greater Manchester Police spokesman was moved to comment that there’d been more trouble on the pitch than off it.

Part II – Transfer News and Rumour

Taylor Staying With Burnley: Gareth Taylor will leave Manchester City for good at the end of the season. And until then, the ex-Sheffield United man will continue his loan spell at Burnley. Taylor is out of contract in the summer. And after eighteen months out of the first-team picture at Maine Road, the striker seems to have no chance of being handed a new deal when his current engagement expires. The 28-year-old hopes at that point to be offered the chance to stay at Turf Moor on a permanent basis; he’s scored three goals so far during the first two months of his loan spell, and he has at least three more games to convince Clarets’ boss Stan Ternent of his worth. Burnley are currently six points off a Division One play-off spot and have a game in hand on sixth-placed Birmingham.

Shuker to Stay Despite Cambridge Interest: Manchester City’s Chris Shuker is currently on loan to Macclesfield. But the 18-year-old has his sights set on breaking into the Blues’ senior side next season. Shuker has impressed during the time he’s so far spent with the Silkmen, and the winger’s form has reportedly been noticed by other clubs, including Cambridge United. But Joe Royle has already said that he hopes the Liverpool-born youngster will come back from Moss Rose ready to stake a claim for a first-team place at Maine Road – an aspiration the player shares. “The [Macclesfield] manager Gil Prescott and the lads have been great with me,” said Shuker. “But that doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to going back to City. I’ve had a lot of help there from the boss and Willie Donachie and I hope that’s where my future lies. It’s my ambition to break into the first-team next season.”

Part III – Miscellaneous News and Views

Royle Still Hoping for Houdini Act: Joe Royle believes that Manchester City’s Premiership fate has not yet been decided. The Blues are seven points from safety with three games left – but their manager knows first-hand that teams in such a position can still survive. Royle was manager of Oldham in 1992-93, and saw the Latics pull off an improbable escape act. And he believes that if City’s players continue to have faith in the possibility, they, too, can shock their critics. The Blues now need to win their last three games of the season and hope for assistance from elsewhere – exactly the same scenario as for Oldham eight years ago. “We went to Aston Villa when nobody gave us a prayer and beat them and then came back and beat Liverpool, which we’d never done before, and then beat Southampton to stay up as Arsenal beat Crystal Palace,” recalled the Blues’ boss. “It’s a matter of holding your nerve and believing. I’m not saying that we’ll necessarily do it, but we’re going to give it a go.”

Boss Backs City to Bounce Back: Joe Royle does not believe that Manchester City will inevitably be playing in the Nationwide League next season. But if the worst comes to the worst, the Blues’ boss believes his side will bounce back to the Premiership at the first attempt. Royle is disappointed with his side’s form over the season, acknowledging that the players have coped less well with the transition to top-flight football than expected. But he believes that the club has a significantly better group of players now than it possessed a year ago, when promotion was won. “We have improved the squad and have a stronger side now,” he said. “Strong enough to go back up? I would think so.”

Dickov Out of Scotland Squad: Paul Dickov had been named in the Scotland squad for this week’s friendly international against Poland. But the Manchester City striker has been withdrawn from Craig Brown’s party for the game. Dickov flew to Glasgow on Sunday but was suffering from calf and Achilles injuries sustained in last Saturday’s Manchester derby. So now the 28-year-old has been sent back to Maine Road, where he will now focus on regaining fitness ahead of City’s must-win fixture at home to West Ham. The 28-year-old would be particularly disappointed to miss such a key game after last week earning a reprieve when his three-match ban for a sending off at Everton was overturned on appeal by the club.

Part IV – Academy News

Successful Start to Academt Play-Offs: Manchester City’s under-17s have qualified for the Academy play-offs. And there was a boost for the Blues on Saturday, with a win in their opening group game. City took on Bolton and were bidding to overcome the disappointment of missing out on the FA Academy League title. And the Maine Road youngsters notched a comfortable win, goals from Adie Orr, Phil Gilder and Steve Elliott giving the Blues a commanding lead that meant a late Bolton effort was merely a consolation. The under-19s are still playing out their league season, and they beat Sunderland 2-0 at the weekend, with Chris Killen and Joe Barton on target.

Peter Brophy (pjbrophy@btinternet.com)

CITY DIARY

This week in City’s history.

22nd April: Roy Paul’s last game for City in 1957, and G.O. Salt’s one and only appearance in 1911. And two interesting encounters with Derby County. “From time to time a brilliantly talented ball player applies his skills properly and beats a team on his own; Rodney Marsh did that to Derby on Saturday.” That was how City’s 2-0 win in 1972 was reported, as Marsh scored a goal out of nothing and then made the run which led to the penalty from which Francis Lee scored the second. “But they are a temperamental side” the report went on, “and Malcolm Allison may always find the problem of keeping them at a high level over a season very difficult.” Back in 1950 City drew 2-2 with Derby, and the loss of a point drove another nail into their relegation coffin that year. Trautmann gifted Derby both their goals, first standing on his line for a centre he should have collected and then with City 2-1 up dropping the ball at the feet of Derby’s Johnny Morris. The report in the Derby Evening Telegraph said that at the end of the match “Berg (that’s what reporters unfamiliar with the German were still calling him) looked the most disconsolate footballer I have seen for some time.” A sign of the times was that the reporter accepted as perfectly natural how one of City’s goals was scored, City’s George Smith following up a shot caught by Derby’s goalkeeper Brown and charging him and the ball over the line, even blaming the ‘keeper for not getting rid of the ball before Smith knocked him into the net. The match was also remarkable for the attempt by one City fan to get at Morris as he left the field at half-time after some rough play between the Derby inside-forward and his markers; the gentleman was “escorted away by the police.”

St. George’s Day/Shakespeare’s birthday: David White scored four in City’s 5-1 win at Aston Villa in 1991. In 1904 City won the FA Cup for the first time, Billy Meredith’s goal beating Bolton Wanderers at the Crystal Palace; it wasn’t the Cup collected now as the trophy won in 1904 was later stolen.

24 April: In 1937 City won the League Championship for the first time, winning the last match of the season 4-1 against Sheffield Wednesday. In 1963 Joe Hayes scored his last goal for City in a 1-3 home defeat by Sheffield Utd. 1969 and Tony Book was named Footballer of the Year, sharing the honour along with Dave Mackay of Spurs. More recently, Shaun Goater scored at home to Wycombe in 199, but the 2-1 defeat ended City’s chances of automatic promotion from the Nationwide Division Two.

25 April: From the sublime to the ridiculous on this date. Derek Kevan scored his 36th goal of the season in the 3-3 draw at Swansea Town in Division Two in 1964. This was when Swansea had made it to the semi-finals of the Cup, losing to Howard Kendall’s Preston side, after they’d beaten Liverpool in an earlier round with Welsh hymns echoing all around Anfield. On the other hand it’s also the anniversary in 1998 of a 2-2 draw at home to QPR. Kinkladze’s free-kick after being felled by Vinnie Jones put City ahead as they fought to escape relegation, but when Martyn Margetson conceded a free kick for picking up a back-pass and then surrendered the ball to the QPR attack Mike Sheron equalized and Jamie Pollock headed into his own net. It’s also the birthday of Alan Kernaghan, a probably sublime event in his parents’ eyes at least.

26 April 1969: City took on Leicester at Wembley. Tony Coleman should have put City ahead but put his shot wide after being set up by marvellous attacking play, but then Mike Summerbee went around Leicester’s centre-half with inches between him and the dead-ball line and pulled it back for Neil Young to lean back and hit a left-footed shot past Shilton into the top of the net. Twenty-two years earlier it was City 2 Glasgow Rangers 1, in a friendly.

27 April: Denis Law scored his last goal in English football as City beat United 1-0 at Old Trafford, and United were relegated. It cost 40 pence to stand in the Scoreboard End and 6p for a programme, though I don’t know how much the lads who invaded the pitch paid for the flared trousers that almost tripped them up as they swarmed around Law after his back-heel. Law didn’t celebrate the goal, just as Mike Doyle didn’t when he scored against City for Everton in similar circumstances. In 1957 Cliff Sear made his first appearance at full-back in the last match of the season at home to Birmingham, taking over the number 3 shirt which Roy Paul had worn for the last time a week previously. In 1950 City played a match against St Helens Town as part of the deal which took Bert Trautmann to Maine Road from the amateur side. City won 2-0.

28 April: Fred Tilson’s two goals in the closing stages at Wembley brought City back from a 1-0 deficit against Portsmouth in the 1934 Cup Final, Frank Swift getting so excited that he fainted in the goalmouth when the final whistle went. Neil Young scored twice when City beat Blackburn 3-1 in the last match of the 1961-62 season, and City put six past Southampton in 1928 to finish first in Division Two. 28 April,1923 saw the last game played at Hyde Road, a 0-0 draw with Newcastle. And in 1909 City needed a point to stay in the First Division and were hanging on to it until a deflected shot gave Bristol City the only goal of the game in the 88th minute: United failed to beat Bradford the next day and so City went down. In 1996 Maine Road was host to an Oasis concert, but most people will remember this date for last year’s events, the 1-0 Friday night win over Birmingham that would have sent City into the Premiership if Charlton had got a point off Ipswich the next day. Whitley might have become City’s fastest-ever scorer on 40 seconds but then Birmingham’s winger (Lazaridis?) tormented City for a while before Robert Taylor scored, and Super Bob should have made it safe at 2-0 with a few minutes left when clean through and he tried to blast it past that Norwegian/Finnish whatever goalkeeper that Birmingham had on loan. Sitting in the Upper Kippax, I remember a bloke behind screaming all the way through “Sing, you b******s, sing!”, the fan waving a steward’s white plastic chair in the air at the end, and then the large Manchester policeman coming over to a supporter who shall be nameless as he was digging a lump out of the pitch and asking “Now why don’t you take a bigger piece than that?”

29 April: Tony Coleman scored at Everton in 1967 (1-1) and again versus Everton (2-0) in the 1968 championship season. In 1933 City were beaten in the Cup Final by an Everton team that included Dixie Dean and City’s leading scorer Tommy Johnson; in the crowd as a spectator was Frank Swift who’d ridden down from Fleetwood on his motor bike, leaving at 2 a.m. and taking the A6 (before motorways!) all the way to Wembley. In 1986 on this day City beat United 2-0 (3-1 on aggregate) to win the FA Youth Cup with a team that included Hinchcliffe, Brightwell, Redmond. White, Moulden, and Lake. 1970 saw one of City’s finest hours, 2-1 in the rain in Vienna to win the European Cup Winners’ Cup against Gornik of Poland. Neil Young got the first and raced away again to be pulled down for a penalty and a Lee shot that took the goalkeeper with it. In 1961 City and Blackpool drew the last match of the season 3-3. The First Division that year included more Lancashire teams than it ever has since (Blackpool, Preston, Burnley, Blackburn, Bolton, City, United, and Everton – though not Liverpool) and City’s team that season (Barlow, Wagstaffe, Shawcross, Cheetham) sounded like a cast from an early episode of Coronation Street. How times change.

Ken Corfield (keltia@prodigy.net)

ON THE SPOT MATCH REPORT

If the Nevilles play for England so can I…

A beautiful day with perfect blue skies over Manchester, saw our return derby of the season. Taking public transport meant a bus ride through Hulme – a no-go area for many a year but what a transformation with the flats now replaced by ambitious apartments aimed at professionals. Hulme merged into Old Trafford and the difference was immediate – run down shops, boarded up housing and pubs. This all gives way to a sterile land further down and, turning onto Matt Busby way, I thought I was on my way to an England game. So many diverse accents: south-east, south-west, the midlands, the only difference being they were clad in their uniform red Vodafone shirts, and yes folks, not a Manc accent to be had (apart from the ticket touts).

Arriving nice and early I decided, purely in the interests of research, to enter the ‘Mega Store’. Forgive me my fellow Blues. Inside this huge glass-fronted monstrosity was a bedding department, a leisure wear department, childrenswear & accessories and a coffee shop, I honestly thought I’d wandered into Debenhams. I beat a hasty retreat as laughter had got the better of me and passed through the trough of disinfectant thoughtfully placed outside for us Blues. Into the ground where some brass band was murdering many a good tune and the PA system was croaking away (was our ex-announcer on duty?); anyway, all game the PA system was pants. This after some butch female steward relieved me of my plastic bottle of water before going in. I disliked the place and its incumbents more and more. One or two City fans had procured Bayern flags & scarves. Then the plane flew over “MCFC: real club, real supporters”. Wind ’em up and watch ’em go… Taking my seat in line with the corner flag, I have to say the uninterrupted view of the ground and stadium was excellent.

Onto the game. City lined up in an interesting 4-5-1 formation (well it worked at Leeds), giving advance warning of Joe’s decision to play deep: Nash, Dunne, Wieks, Howey, Granville, Charvet (yes, in midfield), Haaland, Whitley, Grant, Dickov (right midfield) and Wanchope up front. Subs: Weaver, Kennedy, Prior, Goater, Kank. We started brightly and were up and at ’em: within 5 minutes Wieks’ shot was deflected off Brown and ricocheted off the cross bar (à la Blackburn). Closely followed by Wanchope in a 1-on-1 with Le Chauvre, rounded him, left too acute an angle to shoot from or had trouble coordinating his legs quickly enough and Stam got to it. B*gger. On the whole though Wanchope had a good game, just a damn shame that the backheel was last week or else he would be St Paulo of Maine Road! At this point the Rags woke up and realised we were making a laughing stock out of their lacklustre side. At some point in the first half the Ponse Beckham had a free kick which went wide down at the scoreboard end – the day-trippers obviously didn’t understand as they were all up cheering. Ponse was involved in a few shoves and petulant instances in the first half which Mr Elleray chose to ignore. He was doing his usual Saint Nitouche act and running away as soon as he’d incited any retribution. Granville though managed to contain him – although I noticed he stood off, rather than tackled, Luke (Phantom) Chadwick for fear of catching some contagious skin disorder. Whitley was working wonders in midfield, in for tackles and invariably dispossessing the opposition. Nash was having a superb game – commanding, assured, his mature control and reading of the game reassuring a lot of us that the youthful and exuberant Weaver was being rested. Nash made a stunning save off their Scandinavian super-sub who can’t quite perform for a whole game. This ensured we went into the break at 0-0.

The travelling contingent were on fine form with favourite chants including: “if the Nevilles play for England so can I”; “Luke Chadwick is the Elephant Man” (I think he looks more like the Phantom of the Opera when he removes his mask); “Sit down or they’ll close your ground” (to the standing hundreds in the scoreboard end) and the ubiquitous “Keano thinks you’re w@nkers” (and the whole world thinks he is now too). Half time on-pitch entertainment was dire, relieved by the stickers somebody had kindly produced proclaiming “MCFC the ONLY football team to come from Manchester” which found their way onto numerous red plastic seats.

Second half and Kank was on for Grant who hadn’t been having too good a game. Taggart had obviously removed his Wrigleys long enough to give them a blasting and they came out fighting. Howey, Dunne and Granville continued their excellent defending to keep us level. On 60 minutes Dickov showed his impetuosity in a challenge on Brown that resulted in a penalty. Oh no. Up steps Ginger. Nash flexes. Ginger shoots – looks like it’s going wide, Nash has it covered anyway. Yes! Cue wild celebrations from the travelling faithful – as though we had scored. That’s it, we can do them now. Then Prior comes on for Wieks (old Spencer had been having a right old laugh at the away contingents’ songs during his warm up). 71 minutes and Dunne collides with the Scandinavian in the box, Dunne falls, Ole dives, Elleray blows his whistle. Another flaming penalty. Well, I suppose they have to score somehow. Up steps Old Ted and somehow squeezes the ball past Nash’s outstretched frame – though he did get his hand to the ball. B*gger. At this point the scoreboard enders decide to revive the Russian submarine song. Tasteful as ever, although they will be proclaiming that the Munich song was used which I thankfully didn’t hear once.

Short lived were their celebrations as on 83 minutes we are awarded a corner, to be taken by… Dickov. Scramble in the box and Howey knocks the ball in the net past Le Chauvre and wild celebrations ensue. Looking across at the scoreboard and seeing “U****d 1 City 1”, as I must have done on about 40 occasions until we were allowed home was fabulous. Goater then came on for Kank who, despite a couple of good runs almost ruined his reputation when fluffing a clearance which nearly went in – you play for us now Andrei. Then comes the infamous incident you will all have seen and read about when the mad Prawn decides to go for GBH on Haaland with a vicious high kick above his right knee. Fortunately for Haaland, his right leg had already left the ground or we would have heard the snap. Eyes bulging, Prawn then leans over and spits after having uttered some obscenities and is instantly dismissed. What else do you expect from a cowardly woman-beater? If the guy was not surrounded and protected by the suits of a multi-million PLC he would already be familiar with Strangeways. How conveniently people forget that the reason for his venom against Haaland stems back to the incident in 1997 when he was out with cruciate damage for a tackle he was committing on Haaland. In the mad, booze-soaked world of a salmonella-infested Prawn, it has become the other way round.

End of the game, whistle blows, delirious Blues. Escape from Old Trafford with a point, keeping our Premiership hopes alive for at least another week and smearing egg all over the faces of the PLC. My Rag season-ticket holding mates conceded afterwards that we had been unlucky not to get all three points as we certainly should have been 2-0 up in the first half. Oh well, you win some and you draw some. Although having gone in as underdogs we had nothing to lose and boy did Saturday afternoon feel good. Man of the match was unquestionably Nash, an inspirational display against the old enemy.

Apologies for the precise lack of detail on the game, but I assume most of you will have seen it at some point over the weekend. It truly was, as Wallace once said “a grand day out”.

The old bill decide to keep us in after the game and the bouncers effectively blocked our exits (as they had done since just after half time, thus ensuing nobody could even pay a call of nature). Plenty of intimidation and provocation in our block which resulted in a crush before we were let out. All completely unnecessary for such a good atmosphere and when the fans were behaving impeccably. I know several people are going to complain about the stewarding and policing – if you experienced it too, see below for details of where to complain.

Policing / Stewarding at Old Trafford

and anywhere else for that matter.

If you experienced or witnessed (and I know that many people did and are going to complain):

  • any unwarranted treatment either physical or verbal from the Old Trafford stewards on Saturday,
  • were subjected to the unauthorised removal of personal possessions by these stewards, or
  • intimidation or provocation from either stewards or police.

then here are details of the relevant authorities to contact:

Arthur Roberts, Ground Safety Officer, Manchester United FC, Old Trafford, Manchester, M16 0RA (re stewards) – unfortunately he has no email address.

Football Licensing Authority, 27 Harcourt House, 19 Cavendish Square, London, W1M 9AD (re stewards) or email fla@flaweb.org.uk

Mr Wilmott, Chief Constable, GMP, Chester House, Chester Road, Manchester, M16 0RE (re police) – no email address for obvious reasons.

Football fans are increasingly treated as unwanted low-life by some people wearing bright yellow jackets, protective clothing, and doc martens these days and need to know they have rights and that this sort of behaviour cannot be tolerated.

If you want to copy any correspondence to myself, I will ensure that this is passed on through the National Federation of Football Supporters’ Clubs and Football Supporters’ Association and raised with the appropriate authorities who are tackling this problem.

Heidi Pickup (heidi_pickup@hotmail.com)

TV MATCH REPORT

Howey the lads!

How I wanted the Goat to score today so that I could use the by-line ‘Red Rag to a Goat’… Oh well, just have to save that for another season. Anyway, here we are in sunny Droylsden sat watching the match courtesy of one of our shareholders (I don’t feel too bad about not being there now but with only 2,000 tickets for away fans that was never a real possibility anyway). I learned the lesson from last derby day and didn’t have a cooked breakfast on my lap as the game kicked off, just a beer from one of our other sponsors. Sky have done their usual match preamble… The Manchester United Show! Here in Droylsden we’ve been treated to the much talked about banner towing airplane but, unlike the promised “You’re The Pride of Singapore” we had “MCFC Real Club Real Supporters”; for the same money you could have got “MCFC Real Fans so Stuff You Rags” but maybe that would have been offensive and if there was one thing that seemed to be order of the day is was not upsetting the opposition.

So ignoring all the Sky hype let’s cut directly to the game. Our glorious Laser Blues line up with Carlo Nash in goal, then from left to right, Haaland, Dunne, Howey and Granville. Next line up are Grant, Wiekens and Whitley with Charvet and Dickov in left and right wing forward positions. The sole front man Wanchope is smiling and looking very much at ease. Just for completeness the pack of ‘eejets’ (at least that’s what Roy thinks they are) that face them are Bartez (I’m really not Uncle Fester), The Nevilles, wide right and centre left, Jaap Stam and left back Wes (I could have played for Man City) Brown. Midfield they have David (I’m not a complete twit really) Beckham, Roy (There’s only me knows how to play football round here) Keane, Paul (Ginger Whinger) Scholes and Luke (at least I’m not uglier than Phil Neville… oh yeah you reckon!) Chadwick. Surprise surprise we have a complete change of front line with Sherringham and Solskjaer instead of the usual Yorke and Cole. Keeping order for today’s kick about is David Elleray.

So United kick-off to the strains of Andy Gray commenting that only two teams have taken any points away from Old Trafford this season, so we know where his money lies. As if to illustrate the point with only 34 seconds on the clock Dunne tries to clear the ball but cannons it straight into the charging Scholes, no harm done though as the Ginger Whinger fails to capitalise. The first three minutes are all Manure, literally, as some silly nervous errors from both sides culminate in the first free kick of the match. That is awarded for a nasty little tackle on Wiekens and amounts to nothing, though the next one, a minute later, produces the first clear chance of the game. Brown hammers down Dickov from behind to give a free out wide. The ball is punted in only for the same Brown to head poorly straight to the feet of Wiekens, who swivels beautifully, and blasts the ball goalward. A deflection (again from Brown) and the ball ricochets off the crossbar. Bartez goes ballistic because he had the original shot covered and the first chance goes begging. Keane now decides to show us all what a sportsman he is. After tripping Jeff Whitley he then decides to shove Jeff in the chest when he offers his hand to show no hard feelings. A captain’s example? A pity really because in the rest of the game the only player showing any aggression whatsoever was Keane; more of that later. Eight minutes and Wanchope spurns the chance of the game. One on one with Bartez, Paulo loses the confidence to try to slide the ball past Fester and decides to take it out wider for a clear shot behind the ‘keeper. Unfortunately Paulo’s feet don’t read the script as he over hits the ball and has to chase before shooting, thereby giving Stam a chance to dive feet first into the shot and push the ball out for a corner.

The Scum’s first free comes from a rash Haaland challenge, pulling Sheringham down 30 yards from goal. Step up the Dim One to leather his usual right foot curler straight into the wall. Ginger Whinger is on the rebound and shoots straight into the arms of Nash. It seems that the Rags have forgotten how to score as, on 14 minutes, Sheringham, with all the time in the world, and space like a small desert, manages to volley the ball into row Z. It’s end to end stuff this with each team losing possession more often than winning it. Eighteen minutes, 1chop has a clear free kick turned down after being bungled to the floor by a posse of red shirts. Haaland shows his versatility and suddenly pops up playing left wing instead of his starting spot at right back or has he just forgotten what he’s supposed to be today? Another chance at goal for the Blue boys. P Neville (He looks more like Herman Munster each week) slices Charvet’s legs from underneath him and gives away a free kick. The kick is played short and then a one-two between Whitley and Dickov. Dicky swings hard at the ball and somehow just manages to scrape the ball wide of the post. Bartez is nowhere and a real chance just went ‘Bye-bye’. On the half hour Grant brings down one of the Neville spawn for a free kick. Beckham has learned from his previous error and puts the ball well away from the wall and Nash by shooting wide. All of City’s clearances are now ‘Route 1’ as the nerves are building. This nearly costs us dearly when Haaland knocks the ball long for Bartez to punt it straight back to the edge of our penalty area. Beckham is through on-side with just Nash to shoot past but manages to slice the ball instead of volleying it cleanly into the net… phew! Sky TV tell us United have 84% of the possession in the last five minutes and it’s showing as we are pushed further and further back. City are holding on for dear life. Just before half time two strange incidents. The first sees Chadwick run headlong into Howey and drop like Steve has knifed him. Straight away and Solskjaer decides to avenge the hapless Chadwick by jumping straight into Howey’s knee with raised studs. Apparently the referee didn’t see this as he was watching the ugly one roll around the floor but the incident surely deserved a yellow card. Next in a rare display of unselfishness Dicky intervened on Beckham’s behalf after D.B. deliberately pulled Dicky’s legs from under him. Again at least yellow card avoided. Paulo must have decided that Dicky had been too generous as he used up some of the goodwill that City had earned with Elleray. In a display of petulance that was at odds with the rest of his days display, 1chop ‘stuck the ed’ on Phil Neville for an off the ball incident. Luckily no action resulted. The half finishes with an appeal for handball off a clearance by Dunne. Fortunately the whistle that follows is for the end of 45 minutes, not a free kick.

So it’s into the break and the score is a fair 0-0 with neither side capitalising on the chances given. Hunger has finally taken its toll in our house and if you thought the fifteen minutes that you get at Maine Road wasn’t long enough to stock up with Bovril and crisps try making lunch in that time. A quick thought though about the play in the first forty five. City are playing well, at least defensively, and look fairly solid across the back with midfield players filling the gaps when defenders commit to taking on forwards. That said the Rags don’t look comfortable at all. Close ups of players show scowling faces and frustration. When our lads take the ball from them there are any number of cynical little trips and fouls taking place but Mr Elleray has chosen to ignore them and let the game flow rather than punish every infringement. It’s not brilliant football but it’s good to watch.

Anyway, the second half kicks off and I’m on cheese board and biscuits. The only change from the first half is that Grant is off, although not sure why as he had a reasonable first forty five, and on is Kanchelskis, accompanied by a reception of booing from the sad part of the crowd. City set out their stall for the second half with an immediate half hearted attack at goal. The teams have obviously ignored any half time talk as they are still making lots of unforced errors and some of the passing is lamentably inaccurate. Kanchelskis has only been on five minutes when he’s limping slightly and showing masses of calf muscle where Chadwick’s studs have raked a six inch gash down his leg and ruined a perfectly good pair of socks. City are piling on the pressure with wave after wave of attacks although the lack of proper finish means that goals are still notably absent. Fifty-seven minutes and Haaland has forgotten where he’s supposed to be again when he somehow manages to get amongst the defenders only to provide the block to Kanky’s screamer of a volley. To be fair Bartez had seen the move and was covering anyway but Kanchelskis looks none too pleased. Oh no! Dicky has given a penalty away! In what can only be described as recklessness, Dicky has managed to overrun Brown, making a rare foray into the City area. The poor wee Scot sits disconsolate on the floor as the United players argue which of them is taking the kick even though Scholes has grabbed the ball and placed it on the spot. Nash stands tall in the goal, his eyes never leaving Scholes. Scholes takes a short run up and pow!, shoots wide of Nash’s right post. God is a City fan today after all. Straight away Taggart subs Giggs for Chadwick who has been totally ineffective in this half up to now. Nash again has a busy few minutes just after the hour when he saves a low shot from Solskjaer. Next Dickov plays a ridiculously short back pass from the edge of the area that turns out to be a perfect through ball for Solskjaer, who runs on to it and is clear on goal. From being a tall good looking guy Nash now suddenly looks like Bram Stoker’s Dracula as he spreads himself large in an attempt to force the charging forward to go wide. This gives Howey just enough time to dash in and push the ball away from the feet of Solli. Howey repeats the trick again three minutes later when on the opposite side of goal he slides in to push out a low, swinging cross that is just begging to be punted into the net.

Everyone gets a breather as a double substitution sees Brown off for Manure and the now limping Wiekens off for us. In their places come Silvestre, a dodgy choice in anyone’s book, and for us Prior, an even dodgier choice on current performances. The breather didn’t seem to work, at least for Dunne who, showing obvious signs of fatigue, made a completely mistimed challenge on the omnipresent Solskjaer a yard inside the penalty box. The melée seen 10 minutes earlier convenes again with Uncle Fester running up to try to claim the chance of the resulting penalty. Sheringham is having none of this. Snatching the ball from the rabble he steps up imperiously and places the ball on the spot. Surveying Nash through slitted eyes and looking every inch like a Roman emperor he hammers the ball low and left. Nash dives full stretch and lays a hand on the ball but the power in the shot is just too much and the ball lifts off his hand, hits the inside of the post and slams into the back of the net. One nil and the up to now almost silent crowd have suddenly found voice to give a weak rendition of ‘Same Old City Always Losing’. The City of old would have folded in the middle and disappeared like the office assistant on Word 2000 but not our beloved Blues on this Saturday. The lads are up and at them again straight away and are looking like they might just pull one back. The Scum swap Scholes for Butt with little noticeable effect on play. Seventy-nine minutes and Stam is judged to have handled the ball, fending it off his shoulder 4 yards from the penalty box. Kanchelskis steps up with Whitley and Dicky also in attendance. The Rag crowd hiss as Kanky hammers the ball straight into the wall but nothing comes from the rebound. Things are looking desperate now but wait, City have a corner. Dicky swings in a perfect ball. Prior does his most useful piece of work all day and blocks Bartez’ line of sight and as the ball looks to be sailing right through the packed box in runs Howey to volley the ball onto the head of a surprised Beckham and into the net for the equaliser. Howey goes on a runabout to celebrate and the visiting Blues go berserk. Straight away Joe makes his final swap of the day, bringing off the obviously limping Kanchelskis and putting on the Goat. A moment or so later it looks briefly like City might be down to ten men and that Joe should have waited another few seconds. Haaland and Keane are running onto the same 50:50 ball when Keane jumps with raised studs straight into Haaland’s left knee, sending him spinning through the air to lie curled up in a heap on the floor. Scum players are straight into the referee’s face but Elleray is having none of it. A brief conference with the linesman and Keane is shown the only card of the match and this one is bright red. On the replay Keane clearly makes no attempt to play the ball and every City fan in the place hopes Haaland isn’t another name on the list of Blues who have suffered career ending injuries at the hands of Scum in derby games. In the dying moments of the game Goat has a chance to get the winning goal from a lovely cross off Charvet. Unfortunately Bartez sees the danger just a moment or two before Goat can get his head to the ball and effectively the game ends for City. Nash makes one last extra time save from Giggs and earns himself the Sky Man of the Match award.

Normally it’s traditional to look to individual performances but this time it’s different. The team, and that is what they were on the day, played well, with players backing each other up and working as a unit. Why they couldn’t have played that way all season is a question only the players can answer. Certainly if they had, some of the more lacklustre performances this season could have resulted in points earned rather than lost opportunities. If there are two players that did stand out this time for me they were Nash for his excellent ‘keeping and Howey, who marshalled the defence to produce one of the displays of the year. Even players that have been roundly criticised in the past produced the goods. Wiekens and Haaland, Charvet and Grant. It certainly wasn’t a classic game in pure football terms as everyone made mistakes but for once City seemed to have that little bit extra, that final 5 percent, that made a huge difference. Oh and as for Mr Keane… the latest news is he faces a four match ban. I just hope he thinks it was worth it as I think his manager just might be a little less than impressed. Then again who really cares!

Dave Cash (Vanda_David@vcash.fsnet.co.uk)

TV MATCH REPORT 2

Well, what can I say? A point probably isn’t enough at the end of the day, but you have to hand it to Joe, that game was a tactical masterstroke – yeah Uni*ed didn’t play well, but City kept them at bay and put some pride back into a disappointing season. I actually watched the match from the comfort of The Nags in Lancaster where Boddies was only a pound a pint and the place was full of Rags. First half City started very brightly with Wanchope alone up front, but having the pace to worry Stam and Brown but it was a shot by Wiekens that nearly brought the first goal. Brown headed weakly from his own area and the ball fell to Wiekens, who was stood on the edge of the box. His goal-bound shot was deflected by Brown’s boot onto the crossbar with Barthez well beaten. City suddenly started playing with more belief and Wanchope suddenly broke clear of the static Uni*ed rearguard, feigned to bury the ball under Barthez’s body and into the back of the net and waltzed off to the left of Barthez, so giving Stam time to made a clearance off the line – in simple terms he should have scored. Realistically that was it for major chances for City, with Uni*ed only having a Beckham free kick that hit the City wall and another that he just flashed wide – glad he didn’t have a third kick as each one seemed to be getting closer and closer. The only other worrying caption was something Sky flashed up to say that in the last 5 minutes (not sure how far into the first-half this was) Uni*ed had 84% of the possession, but they didn’t really create too much as City were sitting deep, with the midfield protecting the defence very well.

The second-half (after waking-up from a Shearer induced slumber – it’s times like this I’m glad I don’t have Sky!) started almost the same as the first finished, with almost complete Uni*ed dominance. City had changed things about by bringing Kanchelskis on for Grant but that meant Charvet had to drop to right-back (IMHO he looked alright on the right side of midfield as he added a defensive nature to the position). Anyway Uni*ed’s pressure paid off as Nash saved well after Charvet had been caught out at right back, and then Dickov tracked Brown (I think) into the left side of the penalty area and with a striker’s challenge sent him sprawling. The ref had no hesitation and awarded the spot kick, Scholes stepped up to take it and pushed it wide of Nash’s right-hand post – hahahaha! At this point Fergie took off Chadwick (teeth boy) and Brown and brought Silvestre and Giggs on; City responded by bringing Prior on for Wiekens. Within 3 minutes Dunne conceded City’s second penalty. Sheringham took the spot kick and although Nash got a fingertip to his left, the ball rolled into the back of the net. 1-0 down and with little quality possession City looked finished, but with possibly their first corner of the game City equalised. Dickov took the kick from the left and his inswinging cross was flicked on by Beckham at the near post; after sailing over the rest of the defence and Barthez it dropped to Howey, who knocked it in from a couple of feet out. 1-1 and I leap from my seat in delight, only to be greeted with loads of glum Uni*ed fans looking straight at me. After regaining my composure and with only 5 minutes left, a credible draw seemed on the cards. City immediately brought the Goat on for Kanchelskis, who even if we stay up (it is still mathematically possible) should return to Rangers as he was totally ineffective.

Nothing else of note happened… except for a minor skirmish involving Keane and Alfie, which surprisingly saw Keane being sent off. The sending off could have been for foul and abusive language (directed at the motionless Haaland) or it might have been the fact that Keane tried to break Haaland’s leg in a tackle that even in the Rag-filled pub was winced at. As Alan Green said last night on 606, I don’t care if the ban is increased from 3 to 13 matches, it was possibly the worst challenge seen for some time. Left the pub rather quickly at full-time as I needed to be in Morecambe for their match against Forest Green (Tony Daley not starring on the left for Forest Green).

Anyway, onto the obligatory scoring.

Nash 9 – An excellent performance, hopefully Weaver will be spurred on by this competition.
Haaland 7 – A solid performance and recovered from the Keane challenge with his leg intact.
Dunne 8 – Solid centre-half performance, although at fault for the second penalty.
Howey 9 – When it comes to voting for player of the year I almost feel like voting for Steve instead of Danny T. He has been superb all season and scored his 5th of the season to grab a well earned point. For a player suffering injury after injury at Newcastle he seems to have found a new lease of life – he must stay if we go down.
Granville 7 – Had to contend with Dickov playing out of position ahead of him but did a solid job.
Charvet 5/7 – Was crap at right back and constantly caught out (no surprise there), but on the right side of midfield he created quite a bit without pushing up too far.
Whitley 7 – Nice Jeff played well in the middle of the park, even after being given a kicking by Keane – in case you missed it Keane kicked Jeff and he offered to shake hands with Keane after winning a free kick but Keane merely pushed him aside and ran off.
Wiekens 7 – Played well in front the back 4 before being substituted, one of his better games.
Grant 6 – Forgot he was playing, so I’ve given him 6 and he probably did alright.
Dickov 8 – Worked hard even though he was out of position. His free kicks and corners were well taken, never stops.
Wanchope 7 – You have blame him for not putting that chance away but had little support from a deep lying midfield, though he was a constant threat.

Subs:
Kanchelskis 5 – Utter crap, did nowt but get booed!
Prior 5 – Far too slow and didn’t make an impact, not too sure why he came on.
Goater 5 – Too late to make an impact but at least he touched the ball.
Weaver – Unused.
Kennedy – Unused.

David Elleray (Referee) 10 – needs a mention has he totally controlled the game and only handed one card out. It was the best display I have ever seen from a referee with total common-sense used.

James Walsh (James.Walsh@durham.gov.uk)

TV MATCH REPORT 3… DOWN UNDER

Due to the wonders of modern skyence we’ve been able to watch the Blues live at Leicester and Stretford in the last two weeks from 12,000 miles away but the pleasure of four points has been diluted by the possible/probable drop in status coming our way.

At 11p.m. on Saturday night we gathered in Wellington NZ to watch a rare live derby. Joe obviously set out to contain and looking at them on paper the tactics were sensible; the fact that we could/should have been two up after ten minutes made them look inspired. Sadly over the ninety minutes we were pushed back and given a chasing with ‘big hearts and gritty challenges’ providing most of our best moments.

In the midst of this rearguard action there emerged one Blue who matched the Rags for technical ability, confidence, coolness and absolute class! Carlo Nash played a blinder, his general housekeeping round the box was good, he was calm and assured with routine (but difficult) saves and he produced one world class reflex save. I was impressed with the way he covered his posts when shots were going just wide, and particularly impressed when he went down at Giggs’ feet but seemed to pull his hands back at the last moment to avoid bringing him down. A certain Frog billiard ball must be glad that Carlo is not French!

The difficulty we had getting out of our half as the game wore on cried out for a creative midfielder to hold the ball up before playing an incisive pass through or someone to run at people with the ball and keep possession that way. We only seemed to have the ball for nanoseconds in the later stages as tired legs kicked it back to another Red shirt to start another attack!

But we got the draw and we cheered long and hard when we scored and we were only the third team to take a point from Stretford this season.

Thoughts for next year:

  • Keane’s IQ is much less than his collar size.
  • We need a certain number of battlers but could Willie explain to Joe thatthe odd football genius who does not run his balls off for ninety minutesevery week is not a sign of weakness and may not hurt the spirit of thesquad.
  • A midfield with Tiatto and Horlock would be a good start.

Here’s hoping that the unlikely happens and that we are still watching us in the Premier next season!

John Jennings (john@idpe.co.nz)

PROUD TO BE BLUE

So derby day has come and gone! I’m sure we all thought we would get a post-Munich backlash – “Hoped we would come away without an Arsenal type drubbing”.

Four of us arrived in Manchester at 10.50, somewhat apprehensive. With two tickets between four of us somebody had to miss out on the trip to the Plastic Palace. So two cans on Little Peter Street car park and our better halves Val and Nikki went on a brief shopping excursion and settled into the “Crown” on Fountain Street. Thanks Nikki for giving up your ticket for a sad old Many – Top Girl.

My days out are remembered for the little things that happen. We approached G-Mex Tram station and there they were… Once a Year UM Fans going up the steps. One part of about my age took photos of his party going up the steps to the station. Hang on you thick s*d – your photo would have had more credence had you taken it with the Town Hall as a backdrop… My thoughts on his intellectual credibility were confirmed when, on the platform he hadn’t a clue which station to get off at!

Then on to Warwick Road, as I still call it, showing my age; some MU t***er on a mobile phone – “I’ll be home early, it’ll be over by half time”. Yeah, right…

Thankfully the minute’s silence was respected by both sets of fans, so we settled down or in our case ‘settled up’. Any thoughts of “a stroll in the park” for MU were dispelled with Wiekens’ deflected shot on the crossbar and Paulo (why Paulo didn’t you just slide it under Fabien’s body) love him or hate him, that’s Paulo. No match comments, I guess you’ve seen it on MOTD or Sky, so I can’t add to it except for Man of the Match on either team – Jeff Whitley. Without wanting to join in the ‘look where we were 2 years ago’ debate – super show Jeff with a mention for Carlo Nash and Richard Dunne.

I guess I’ll have to comment on the Keane incident… his lunge at Alfie (can’t call it a tackle as the word tackle intimates there is a modicum of intent to get the ball). It was disgusting. The football public may agree with his comments on prawn sandwiches, berating his colleagues post Bayern, but for f***s sake he let himself down, his club down and their fans down, and I hope that the ones who gave him an ovation as he walked off read the papers and say “Oops, I got that wrong.”

So despite what they (MU fans) say about just another game, when we equalised the disappointment oozed out of the ground and dispersed itself on Salford, Croydon and all parts East. It was the final straw in a sh*t week.

And so a quick walk over Salford Quays to my workplace (thanks Val for driving) and onto the “Waggon” at Eaton where we met up with our ‘Vodaphone’ chums. Sorry chaps, I remember derby days with good humoured banter, not “we were cr*p and you were worse” full stop. As JR rightly said and I nearly quote “Don’t devalue our performance by downgrading your own”.

One sour note; having had a couple of lunchtime pints today and reading the Sunday People – to that Saddo, macca or McCarthy or whatever he’s called – City fans weren’t left in the ground wishing they would be there as we disappeared into the twilight zone. More than the 64,000 others, City fans gave a 2001 derby game some atmosphere, and personally I would rather have a “good day out” in Walsall than watch the complacent and bored going through the motions.

One final comment – living in Congleton, near the Potteries – I bet the Port Vale fans enjoyed their day out in Cardiff more than the MUFC fans have enjoyed their 35 games or so this year… that is what football is supposed to be about.

Richard Cooper, Proud to be Blue (c/o Andrew.Noise@CEL-International.com)

OPINION – DERBY TEAM SELECTION

Having watched the derby on the box on Saturday, I must admit I was pleased not to lose, and had we taken our early chances, who knows what might have happened? The reason I write this, is that I just could not believe the team JR selected; here we are scrapping for our Premiership life, and he picks Charvet to play in midfield (the same Charvet who has been so crap to date… unbelievable). We needed a minimum of 3 points, and I would have started with Kanchelskis – pace frightens any defence.

More importantly, I and my friends who were watching (some of them being Rags), all agreed that City’s marking was woeful; time and again it was glaringly obvious where the ball was going and no City player was anywhere near. They just resorted to hanging back in groups and hope the ball fell to them. There was no passion, no closing down or harrying that a team in our position would have been expected to do, we were content to hang back and hoof the ball aimlessly back to the United midfield, time and again. Our passing or lack of it was very obvious and our midfield was crap. As for our “new” defence, well, apart from Howey and Granville, the others would struggle in the lower divisions, talk about lack of confidence, what about lack of talent!

I watched Ipswich on match of the day, not one superstar or big money player, and what attractive, intelligent football they play (basically pass to the guy in the blue shirt). Does JR have problems getting the guys to do this in training? What a relief not seeing Weaver in goal. As much as I hate berating City, it becomes hard accepting the tripe we have on offer, JR should be telling his troops to go out there to win every match, with attacking football; as it is we are not guaranteed to survive even if we do this, but what good is it playing defensive crap, with our crap defence? Look at what Dickov was doing at the back – giving away penalties and poor back passes?

He needs to utilise people like Huckerby, Kanchelskis, Kennedy, Wright-Phillips if possible, these are guys who can win us matches – well why did he buy them in the first place?

Glyn Albuquerque (Glyn.Albuquerque@uk.nestle.com)

OPINION – CAPTAIN’S RÔLE

Following several debatable decisions including Dickov’s sending off at Everton, I’ve noticed a conspicuous absence of Captain Haaland from any discussions with the referee. One notable character who seems willing to debate any whistle against us is Steve Howey. Steve is leading by example at the back (and at the front sometimes), and will probably just miss out on player of the season to Danny Tiatto. He communicates well and would make a great captain, especially as he doesn’t seem to wind up the opposition by slagging them off on a website just before a high profile match. I just hope he stays if the inevitable happens.

Whilst getting this off my chest just a word about Paulo. Recently I think he’s led the line well. He took the ball down well and beat Jaap Stump as many times as anybody will yesterday, and caused trouble at Goodison before tiring. Am I the only Blue who wants him to stay if he’s willing to muck in like he has been doing?

We should have won yesterday, as we should have when we were at home, but how many times have we said that this season?

Go Down With Pride, Jonny The Blue (jonny_the_blue@hotmail.com)

OPINION – GROUNDS FOR OPTIMISM

Call me the optimist but then what City fan isn’t? However, after looking at the last 3 fixtures for all the bottom teams we still have a chance. Assuming Coventry lose at least one and City win all three, we need one of Everton, Derby, Boro or West Ham to not win again. Problem is can win City win 3 in a row?

So looking at all the bottom team scenarios…

West Ham

Assuming City beat them on Saturday, that will leave West Ham needing only 1 point to avoid the drop because they have a much better goal difference. They play Southampton at home in the following game, which they should be able to win… but who knows? If they do happen to lose against City and Soton, their last game is away to Boro. Let’s hope City have won 2 out of 3 by the time the last day of the season arrives and Boro and West Ham have both lost 2 out of 3. A win for City would guarantee survival because even if Boro and West Ham tie, Boro would be point behind us.

Boro

Boro play Man Utd at home this weekend (come on Rags, stuff ’em) and then have to go to Bradford. A perfect situation for City would see them ripped apart by the Rags and have to play Bradford who still have a chance to stay up. The only way Bradford would still be in the picture by this stage is if they can beat Everton on Saturday and then Liverpool next Tuesday (stranger things have happened). Boro then play West Ham in the last game of the season.

Everton

Have a home game this weekend against Bradford (who are on a roll… not sure when they last lost). Bradford are in the same situation as City, they must win every game they have left for any chance of survival. A win against Everton would be huge for us. The following game for Everton is a trip to Chelsea, which is a hard place to win at. So assuming Bradford can get the win this weekend and Chelsea get the points the following weekend, that would leave Everton with a must-win situation on the last day of the season.

Derby

I think Derby are our best shot! They are having a tough time at the moment and their next 2 games are home against Arsenal and then away to the Rags. Assuming Arsenal don’t play like they did against Boro, I can’t see Derby getting any points at the Swamp. That leaves the last game at home against Ipswich.

Coventry

One loss and they are out of the picture; they play at Liverpool on Saturday, so let’s hope ‘Pool continue their winning ways. They follow that with easier games against Villa and Bradford (who should be down by then). Coventry must not win against Liverpool, otherwise we will not catch them. But a draw against Liverpool or better still a loss and it will be close. They have a one goal better goal difference than City, so let’s assume they tie at Anfield and City win by a single goal on Saturday. That will leave City above them on goals scored (we have scored 4 more, assuming they don’t tie 4-4).

City

West Ham at home – a must win, Ipswich away – a must win, Chelsea at home – a must win. Looks like Joe was wrong about only needing 38 points to survive. We need 40 for a slim chance. 38 would do it only if Derby lose their next 3 and Coventry lose 1 and tie one.

I think the season comes down the this weekend, a win for City and Bradford and a loss for all the other teams and it’s going to be very, very close. There will be a lot of nervous players out there and who knows?

So there you have it… we are still alive. However, I think the biggest problem is going to be winning 3 in a row, starting with the West Ham game. My prediction: we draw 1-1 on Saturday and are relegated. But we can always dream!

Paul Faulkner a.k.a. Colorado Blue (Paul.Faulkner@Wcom.com)

OPINION – ELLIS PARK vs. HILLSBOROUGH

Phill Gatenby (MCIVTA 701) says he may be leaving himself open to criticism by using the Ellis Park disaster to make a point. Too right! In SA, the deaths were caused by people returning to the ground – at Hillsborough it was overcrowding. And to claim that the Hillsborough families’ condolences are an admission that seating is no safer than standing is crass and insensitive at best. There’s more to life than standing at football matches, Phill.

Martyn Hansen (martyn@ctafc.freeserve.co.uk)

OPINION – STREAKERS’ BAN

With response to Gordon Hindle’s plea in MCIVTA 702, I agree the streakers were the best thing that happened that night from a City point of view. The problem came when the so called fan (in the loosest sense of the word) starting kicking out at opposition players.

Whilst his actions started as a bit of fun, he was then bang out of order and should be banned for life from Maine Road; we don’t want pratts like that anywhere near the ground. It would have been funnier if he had kicked out and caught Patrick Viera and we could have watched what would have happened then. I have no doubts that a ban would have no meaning as he probably wouldn’t be able to walk and would more than likely be singing 2 octaves higher for the rest of his sad life.

Come on Gordon, have a word with yourself, a bit of fun is fine but when players are put at risk and the club’s reputation is demeaned, it is only right that the club take the action they did.

Mark A. Wood (Mark.Wood@Marks-and-Spencer.com)

FIRST LEG PROBLEMS AGAIN FOR KEANE

Oh this one’s so easy…

U  ndisciplined
N  eanderthal
I  rish
T  hug
E  arned
D  ismissal.

Steve Maclean (Stm1@stm1.freeserve.co.uk)

HARRY GODWIN MEMORIES

I was a Junior Blue, and I remember him coming to the Salford Branch’s Christmas Party at the old SOGAT Club. Dennis Tueart was there, and Asa Hartford… I think Carl Halford (Bernard’s son) was there as he was President of the Salford Branch, and there may have been others too.

I must have had Harry’s autograph about a dozen times – he was always at JB events – but I went up to him and asked him to sign (again) in my autograph book. He used to put a ruler on the page and sign along the ruler, just so that his signature was neat and straight. He did the usual routine with the ruler, and as I smiled and said ‘thank you’ he put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a little enamel pin badge with the old club crest on it and gave it to me. I was probably about 12, and it is the only Christmas present from any of my childhood years which I still have. It’s on the lapel of my denim jacket, and it would really upset me should I ever lose it.

Harry – always a twinkle in his eye and a word for the kids for whom he was Manchester City.

Andy Jackson (a.z.jackson@dundee.ac.uk)

RESULTS

Recent results to 22 April 2001 inclusive.

22 April 2001

Liverpool             3 - 1  Tottenham Hotspur     43,547

21 April 2001

Arsenal               4 - 1  Everton               38,029
Aston Villa           0 - 0  Southampton           29,336
Bradford City         2 - 0  Derby County          18,564
Chelsea               0 - 1  Charlton Athletic     34,983
Ipswich Town          2 - 0  Coventry City         24,612
Leicester City        0 - 3  Middlesbrough         18,162
Manchester United     1 - 1  Manchester City       67,535
Sunderland            1 - 1  Newcastle United      48,277
West Ham United       0 - 2  Leeds United          26,041

League table to 22 April 2001 inclusive.

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  GD Pts
 1 Manchester Utd  34 15  2  1 49 11  8  6  2 26 14 23  8  3 75 25  50  77
 2 Arsenal         34 14  3  1 43 12  4  6  6 14 21 18  9  7 57 33  24  63
 3 Ipswich Town    35 10  5  3 29 14  9  0  8 24 24 19  5 11 53 38  15  62
 4 Leeds United    34  8  3  5 25 19  9  5  4 27 20 17  8  9 52 39  13  59
 5 Liverpool       33 12  3  2 35 12  4  5  7 23 25 16  8  9 58 37  21  56
 6 Chelsea         34 12  3  3 42 19  3  6  7 20 20 15  9 10 62 39  23  54
 7 Aston Villa     35  7  8  3 24 18  5  6  6 19 20 12 14  9 43 38   5  50
 8 Sunderland      35  8  7  3 21 14  5  4  8 19 23 13 11 11 40 37   3  50
 9 Charlton Ath.   35 10  5  2 29 14  3  5 10 17 35 13 10 12 46 49  -3  49
10 Southampton     33  9  2  5 22 18  3  7  7 12 22 12  9 12 34 40  -6  45
11 Tottenham H.    35 10  5  2 28 15  2  4 12 14 34 12  9 14 42 49  -7  45
12 Leicester City  35  9  4  5 24 21  4  2 11 10 24 13  6 16 34 45 -11  45
13 Newcastle Utd   33  8  2  5 21 16  4  5  9 18 30 12  7 14 39 46  -7  43
14 West Ham United 35  5  6  7 21 20  4  6  7 20 27  9 12 14 41 47  -6  39
15 Middlesbrough   35  3  7  7 16 20  5  7  6 25 20  8 14 13 41 40   1  38
16 Everton         35  5  7  5 25 24  5  1 12 15 30 10  8 17 40 54 -14  38
17 Derby County    35  8  6  3 21 21  1  5 12 13 35  9 11 15 34 56 -22  38
18 Coventry City   35  4  6  7 14 21  4  3 11 20 37  8  9 18 34 58 -24  33
19 Manchester City 35  3  3 11 18 29  4  7  7 20 32  7 10 18 38 61 -23  31
20 Bradford City   33  4  6  7 19 26  1  3 12  8 33  5  9 19 27 59 -32  24

With thanks to Football 365

WWW MANCHESTER CITY SUPPORTERS’ HOME PAGE:
http://www.uit.no/mancity/


MCIVTA ADDRESSES:
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Technical Problems: Paul – paul@city-fan.org


DISCLAIMER
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]Geoff Donkin, mcivta@donkin.freeserve.co.uk

Newsletter #703

2001/04/23

Editor:


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