Newsletter #704

Very little news today I’m afraid; everything seems to have gone quiet after the excitement of the weekend. I didn’t actually get the news of the derby happenings ’til I switched on my mobile (thanks to Heidi’s text messaging sevice!) as our ferry from Sweden docked in Newcastle on Monday morning. Great welcome back to the country: a draw at the Swamp and Keano off as well – excellent.

This issue has Peter’s news; the minutes of the latest Fans’ Committee meeting; and some opinion. Lastly, thanks to Geoff for doing a great job in my absence – once again.

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


Part I – Transfer News and Rumours

City Rubbish Weaver Sale Rumour: A report in the Daily Mail newspaper on Wednesday claimed that Manchester City will sell Nicky Weaver in the summer if the club is relegated this season. But the Blues have said the story is “pure speculation”. The Mail claims that the Blues would need to cash in on the England under-21 man to offset the losses occasioned by a drop to the Nationwide league. The paper also named Liverpool, Celtic and Italian pair Fiorentina and Torino as possible interested parties, but the Blues quickly distanced themselves from the story, with the official City website labelling the claims “spurious”. However, even if Joe Royle were willing to do business, it would be surprising in the light of the 22-year-old’s high-profile errors this term if top clubs were queuing up to pay the quoted £6 million asking price. This figure is less than £2 million shy of the sum Manchester United paid last year for a World Cup-winning goalkeeper, and the City man is the Premiership custodian with the lowest proportion of direct shots saved this season according to Opta statistics.

Taylor Back at Maine Road: Gareth Taylor was reported earlier in the week to have extended his loan spell with Burnley. But the striker is back at Maine Road after the Clarets refused to pay a fee to enable them to keep the ex-Sheffield United star. City reportedly asked for £35,000 to allow the tall front man to stay at Turf Moor until the end of the season, a sum which Burnley boss Stan Ternent called “exorbitant”. But the Blues have stuck to their guns and recalled the 28-year-old. The Clarets have already expressed a wish to sign the player on a permanent basis when he becomes a free agent in the summer, yet show no sign of wanting to clinch the deal at this stage even though it is unlikely that the Blues would object. Presumably their thinking is that City would thus have to pay Taylor’s wages for the seven weeks between the end of the current campaign and the expiry of the former Welsh international’s Maine Road contract, even though his long-term future seems to be with the Lancashire club. And in these circumstances, David Bernstein’s stand over the issue seems perfectly understandable.
[GMR are now reporting that an agreement has been reached – Ashley]

Wanchope Wanted by American MLS?: Paulo Wanchope remains on the Manchester City transfer list. And though the striker has said he wants to stay at Maine Road, an attempt could be made to lure him across the Atlantic if he does end up leaving the Blues. Wanchope was apparently attracting the attention of the American MLS before he came to England to join Derby in 1997. And deputy commissioner Ivan Gazidis has revealed he’s still keeping tabs on the Costa Rican. It’s unclear whether the MLS, where players are registered to the league and then placed with individual clubs, would be willing to pay the kind of fee the Blues would want for the 25-year-old. But Dennis Roach, the ex-Derby and West Ham player’s agent, says he’s been contacted by an MLS representative keen to clinch a big-name signing – and he isn’t ruling out interest in the move from his client. “I had a call from someone in America who was trying to sign up a big name centre-forward, and that would tie in,” revealed Roach. “It wouldn’t surprise me, to be honest, if Paulo wanted to go that way [to America]. I wouldn’t be at all surprised.”

No Exodus if City Go Down: Several Manchester City players have already pledged their futures to the club irrespective of the outcome of this season’s relegation battle. And Joe Royle has said he doesn’t foresee a different attitude from any of the men who have not yet spoken publicly on the matter. Royle says that none of the Maine Road first-teamers has a contractual clause allowing him to leave should City drop into Division One. And recent comments attributed to the likes of Nicky Weaver, Jeff Whitley, Alfie Haaland, Danny Tiatto and Paulo Wanchope seem to have proved the Blues’ boss’s point that there is no reason to expect a mass exodus. There was a further boost for Royle this week, with key defender Steve Howey also avowing his intention to stay with City come what may. “Even if the worst happens, I’ve got no reason to leave,” said the centre back. “It’s a great club, I’m happy here and I’ve settled well in the area.”

Ostenstad in Running for Permanent Move: Egil Ostenstad has had few chances to show his mettle during his loan spell at Manchester City. But even so, the Norwegian may have done enough during his time with the Blues to earn himself a permanent transfer. Ostenstad came to City in February but has only had one start since his arrival. However, Joe Royle has been impressed by the 29-year-old and says that there is a possibility that the ex-Southampton player could stay beyond the end of his temporary stint. “Egil has done well enough to suggest that if we are looking for a striker then we he would certainly be under consideration,” Royle told the official City website at “He had fitness problems when he arrived here but he has done well. I have been pleased with his contribution and he has got fitter as he got games under his belt.”

Part II – Miscellaneous News and Views

Haaland Not Looking for Revenge on Keane: Alfie Haaland was the victim of what he calls the “worst tackle I’ve ever received” in last Saturday’s Manchester derby. But the Manchester City skipper says he’s not interested in seeking revenge for Roy Keane’s horror tackle. Keane was dismissed five minutes from time in the Old Trafford clash after a challenge which drew the universal condemnation of pundits and reporters. But Haaland says he doesn’t intend to pursue the long-running feud between the pair, which began four years ago when the Irishman sustained a serious knee injury in another clash between the two players. “Roy Keane doesn’t look me in the eye when we shake hands and there has always been something between us,” the Norwegian told Sky Sports. “I can distance myself from it – it doesn’t bother me at all. But he cannot do the same. We’ll both remember what’s happened but there will be no revenge from my point of view.”

Part III – Reserve Team News

Second String Face Old Trafford Derby: Manchester City’s senior side visited Old Trafford last Saturday. And on Thursday evening, the City reserves also face an away game against Manchester United. The Blues take on their neighbours in the FA Premier Reserve League, though the sides are also due to meet soon in the final of the Manchester Senior Cup. City include Nicky Weaver in goal for tonight’s game, his first appearance at reserve level since the spring of 1998. Kevin Horlock, Terry Cooke and Darren Huckerby will be the other players with senior experience in the Blues’ line-up.

Part IV – West Ham at Home: Team News and Preview

Defeat Will Send City Down: Manchester City are seven points adrift of a position of safety in the Premiership with only three games of the season remaining. So the Blues know that a defeat in Saturday’s home game against West Ham will seal an instant return to the Nationwide League. City have lost eleven home games, equalling the 1997-98 tally which previously stood alone as the club’s highest-ever number of Maine Road league defeats in a season. And if the record is beaten on Saturday, the Blues’ fate will be decided. Even a draw may not be enough for Joe Royle’s men; should Everton, Middlesbrough and Derby all take a point from their games against Bradford, Manchester United and Arsenal respectively, then only a win will keep City’s season alive. But the Hammers also have a reason to go all out for a victory on Saturday – Harry Redknapp’s men are still not mathematically safe themselves after a disappointing run of results in the last two months.

Royle Wants Repeat Performance: Manchester City have produced improved form in their last two games. And after winning at Leicester and becoming only the third side this season to avoid defeat away to Manchester United, the Blues must now sustain the same level of performance when West Ham visit Maine Road. Joe Royle knows that his side’s home form is the reason for the Blues’ current relegation plight. But the City manager believes that his side cannot throw caution to the wind in their attempt to clinch three vital points – though he insists that increased confidence on the back of two good results will help the cause. “We have to go for it in an orderly manner,” he told the official City website at “We can’t be too gung ho, but we have to win the game. The spirit is high and it has been buoyed by our performance at Old Trafford.”

Royle Waiting on International Contingent: Manchester City have a couple of injury worries ahead of the do-or-die weekend visit of West Ham. And Joe Royle will also be anxiously awaiting the return from international duty of a number of his key players. Richard Dunne and Mark Kennedy (with the Republic of Ireland), Alfie Haaland (with Norway) and Paulo Wanchope (with Costa Rica) have all been in representative action this week. And it will be Friday morning before Royle will know for certain whether the four men will be available for the match against the Hammers. The City manager will be hoping for good news given that Paul Dickov and Gerard Wiekens are already both doubtful for the game, although a bonus for the Blues is that Danny Tiatto returns after his two-match suspension. Meanwhile, Carlo Nash will continue in goal after his fine derby display last Saturday.

Peter Brophy (


Minutes of Meeting: Monday 9 April, 2001, MCFC and Fans’ Committee

Attending for MCFC: Chris Bird, Peter Fletcher, Bernard Halford and Duncan Martin.
Attending for Fans: Les Saul, Dave Beddard, Graham Brine, Dave Wallace and Stephen Knott.

1. Supporters’ Club Visits / Public Relations

The Club are looking to change the way it meets with fans. At present the huge number of requests for player visits causes difficulty and sometimes disappointment when the requests cannot be met. By holding ‘road show’ style events around the region throughout the season it is expected to meet with more fans on a regular basis, thus reducing the demand for individual Branch visits. The Club will book the venue and provide guests, food etc. It is expected to start during the 2001/2002 season and supporters from both recognised organisations will be invited to attend. The format will be presented to the Fans’ Committee, OSC and CSA for final approval.

2. S.A.F.E.

Chris Bird, Director, met with Phil Gatenby, Spokesperson for Standing Areas For Eastlands to discuss the Club’s position on this topic. Basically the Club are not in a position to request safe standing areas at the new stadium. The design is already in place and it would be a decision for the Council, who are in control of the building of the stadium. The Club would not wish to enter the debate on standing areas until there had been a change in Government / Local Council policy on the subject.

3. Season Ticket Prices

3.1 The Club have defended the change in qualifying age that has resulted in a price increase on some female season tickets, which were previously at OAP rate. The qualifying age has been raised from 60 to 65, in line with male OAP rules. This has not been done lightly, and was decided after legal advice to remove any possibility of legal proceedings on the grounds of discrimination.

3.2 The Club are to compare our concessionary season ticket prices with other clubs that offer varying ranges of prices for different categories of fans (junior, young adult, under 21’s, adult and OAP’s). If the Club alter our existing price ranges it would be likely to come into effect for the first season at the new stadium.

4. North Stand

There have been complaints made by fans regarding people abusing players and other fans (sometimes racially), and about people standing up. The Club and the Police are monitoring certain areas in the North Stand and Kippax Lower Tier and will deal with anyone found to be behaving inappropriately. The Club report that, as yet, we have not had any away ticket allocations reduced because of fans standing, but this problem is always under review by the licensing authorities and the clubs concerned.

5. Summer Activity

The 2001/2002 starts 11 August for the Nationwide League and 18 August for the Premier League. The Club have not yet arranged any pre-season tours but are hoping to arrange a home game against a ‘high profile’ foreign side before the season starts. They will be playing at Oldham for the Earl Barrett testimonial, but cannot confirm the date as yet.

The Club are supporting a benefit dinner for Neil Young, to be staged September / October 2001.

Plans are also in place for another Memorabilia Day to held at Maine Road in March 2002.

6. Fans’ Reward

Some clubs have, in the past, rewarded their fans by providing free transport to an away game. The Club have stated that they would be willing to do something similar next season if a suitable opportunity arose. They have requested we forward any ideas. What do you think?

Stephen Knott (


Essex & Suffolk Branch AGM.

The AGM of the Essex & Suffolk branch of the Centenary Supporters’ Association will take place on Friday, 25th May 2001 at The Seabright’s Barn, Galleywood, Essex from 08:30 pm. We will announce the branch’s choice for Player of the Year, Branch Clubman of the Year and the committee for next season. We have also arranged a “very special” and I mean very special main prize in our raffle but it’s a surprise. All are welcome to attend; contact Paul Gallagher (01708 787227) for further details. We would like to pass on our congratulations also at this time to Ashley and all at MCIVTA for passing the 700 edition milestone. Keep up the great work and roll on 800.

Chairman/Secretary Essex & Suffolk Branch CSA, Paul Gallagher (


The next meeting of the Reddish Branch of the Centenary Supporters’ Association will be on Wednesday 9th May at The Ash Hotel, Manchester Road, Stockport and it will be a meeting with a difference to say the very least!

The Reddish Branch proudly presents an evening of Madcap Entertainment and Mayhem with Frank Sidebottom, aided and abetted by Moonchester.

Doors open at 7.00pm with Frank and Moonie live on stage at 8.00pm. Everyone’s welcome, admission is just £1 for Adults and Juniors (U16’s) are free. There’s no need for a babysitter, just bring the kids along, free crisps and soft drinks for the kids and there’s also a free raffle.

For further details please contact Howard Burr on 0161 292 2525 or e-mail me at the address below.

Howard Burr (


Having enjoyed the showing on the big screen free – I would gladly have paid – I waited in vain for the film to go on general release. Either I was out of the country at the time or it never did.

Then one night I stayed in a hotel near Heathrow and it was one of the films on offer on the pay per view. Alas I was due at a function and on return in no fit state to watch.

Still there was hope. It must be available on video or DVD.

I drew a blank at all the high street outlets.

Finally, last week I came up trumps. Anyone wanting the video (no DVD yet) should log onto or snail mail to:

19-21 Alfred Street
Northern Ireland

I’ve ordered my copy. It’s steep at £74.99 but I’m looking forward to watching it again (and again etc.)

Malcolm Plaiter (


Mission Impossible? Excellent analysis of the final games from Martin Hanson in the last MCIVTA. For all sorts of reasons I haven’t been able to produce match reports as per the last couple of seasons, but have written a short blue prayer that my famly are mandated to read every morning and night as the season draws to a close. You may want to use it to console yourselves in what may very well turn out to be dark days. But as they say, where there’s hope there’s life… so read on:

My comment and prayer

What Martin’s analysis means of course, quite apart from other results is that City must do something they have not done at all this season – go five games unbeaten (building on the away reverse at Leicester and the draw at Rag palace) – you will see therefore the reason that this email is headed Mission Impossible? … but in the grandest of City traditions we must dream the impossible dream, fight the impossible fight and hope beyond hope that the light, that is surely at the end of our tunnel, is not dimmed a moment earlier than we deserve.

So I say to you, that now as never before, it is, quite simply, a time for hearts of oak brave fellows. A time to stand up and be counted. A time to be fearless in the face of adversity, and a time to pray to your own god that the seeds of better times are soon to be sown on the fallow, yet hallowed ground that we know and love as Maine Road.

And if all of this comes to pass, and that we live to see a better time, and that the furrows that we plough so steadfastly and with such resolute determination spring forth the fruits of our dreams, that we will take by force our rightful place at the high altar of footballing greatness, and that the disciples that have stood firm upright and unbending will smite all around them with the sheer radiance of a reward that now, as never before in the field of footballing history, has been owed by so many to so few.

So bring to us sunshine where there have been dark clouds, bring to us flowers, bring to us light where there has been darkness. But most of all bring to us a fair wind by day and a blue moon by night and guide us with great purpose to the nine points that our history and destiny have laid before us.

And if, as we hope our dream is delivered then let’s share a pint in the Ducie directly after the Chelsea game. God speed.

Tony Burns (


For those of you who read the Sunday People last week, please find a copy of the e-mail sent to the author of one of the worst pieces of football journalism I’ve ever witnessed. It was entitled “City, you are the weakest link.” If you read the concerned column and was as incensed as myself please feel free to pass your comments onto the author, whose address is below.

From: Cockayne, P.
Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2001 8:50 AM
To: ‘
Subject: Sunday People 22 April 2001

May I congratulate you on your journalistic talent. Never before have I read a column with such passion as yours. Your comments on Manchester City written for The Sunday People dated 22nd April certainly have aroused my need to comment. Never before have I read such “Garbage” that has been written under the banner of sports journalism. Being a supporter of the club concerned, travelling frequently from my base in Holland to watch my beloved team, I find the article concerned unnecessary and offensive. Whilst these may be your opinions I would be grateful if you kept such biased thoughts to yourself. Obviously such writings sell papers to the masses of MUFC plc day trippers on their packaged week-end trips to the Premier League’s chosen team. But for the sake of all honest fans who pick up the sports papers hoping to read meaningful and informative writings, may I suggest you make a career move and maybe write for football fanzines instead. Writing such controversial drivel might in your opinion be clever, but remember one is only as good as one’s last piece of work. And in this situation your last writings leave a lot to be desired…

Regards Phil Cockayne

No longer a purchaser of The Sunday People.

Phil Cokayne (


I watched Paulo Wanchope playing for Costa Rica versus the USA. Behind one goal were 2 proud Manchester City flags, which should have inspired Paulo Wanchope. Wanchope ran all over the field helping the defence, and trying up front; I was pulling for Paulo to have a good individual game and I can honestly say he was one of Costa Rica’s best players.

But sorry Paulo, I was pulling for the United States (nothing personal). The game ended USA 1 Costa Rica 0. The United States are now Played 3 Won 3 in their World Cup group. Two young strikers played well for the USA, Mathis and Wolff (and are what I would call direct type strikers, in other words go for goal right away, no pussyfooting around, worth watching in the future?).

Ernie Barrow (


I’ve heard lots of comments about the financial impact of relegation to the Nationwide and would like to make one quick point: it’s the same for every team in the Nationwide!

So while the £20 million or so that we won’t get next season (through missing TV rights etc.) would always be very welcome, we should not get too hung up about it.

Of course, that’s assuming that the terms and conditions of the players’ salaries and bonuses have been negotiated with the contingency of playing at a lower level.

James Barber, Grenoble, France (


The voices in MCIVTA backing the sack the manager campaign are growing and it is all so predictable and depressing. When we were promoted to the Premier league it was acknowledged by almost everyone (including City fans) that we were ill prepared and almost relegation certainties. At the start of this ‘bonus’ season therefore the feeling was that survival was success but no one could blame Royle if we failed. Of course that was then and now all too quickly this is forgotten and the knives are out again.

I would ask some of these critics to consider the following question. Just what is a relegation season supposed to be like? Is it likely to involve stunning victories away at Highbury and Anfield or double derby successes? No, more likely your forwards can’t score enough goals, your midfield is over-run and your defence cut open by the pace and precision of generally superior opposition. That is what relegation is all about and I believe this has to be accepted as part of the overall building process.

If the critics at City calling for the head of Joe Royle had been Ipswich Town supporters they would never have given George Burley more than two seasons falling at the play-off stage (certainly not the four that he actually required). Their line probably would have been “Burley can give us a team that plays pretty football at this level but just doesn’t have the big match temperament to make it to the Premiership” – or something very similar.

Far from seeing Royle as the perfect boss, I would acknowledge his mistakes. He was loyal to too many players who were not good enough and team spirit alone is insufficient. It should be acknowledged though that even major surgery on this side and multi-million pound players would not have guaranteed survival. I would also agree more recently the tactics/ selections and substitutions of our manager have been a bit puzzling. Hopefully now he will have learnt more about the Premiership in 2001 and his squad of players and be able to make the right choices.

In summary, I can say that having watched other successful sides grow in recent years one pattern does emerge. The method usually is let the manager build the side slowly and add one or two high quality players a season. Only in this way will you get the quality and skill required as well as a strong unit that has resilience.

Also if we did sack Royle you can bet the new man will automatically and needlessly sell a couple of the fans’ favourite players (to show who the new boss is) and also go looking for yet more centre-halves. Does anyone really want to start all that again?

Bob Burnup, via Ian Haigh (


I’m getting a bit p****d off with the way contributors to this newsletter and Blueview amongst other forums continue to refer to Keane as as ‘thick Irish thug’ or ‘ignorant Irish wifebeater’ etc. As an Irish Blue I feel the racial undertones are less than subtle and find them offensive. I don’t see people referring to the Nevilles as ‘ugly English cretins’ or Beckham as an ‘overrated English thicko’. It seems to me that people need to compound their dislike of Keane by coupling his alleged distasteful traits with his nationality for added effect. I know a lot of people would consider me to being a little over sensitive but I don’t think I am. It’s a casual form of racism in my eyes.

CTID Green Blue (name withheld by request)


It was 1943. I was ten years old, living in Whalley Range. An uncle gave me a shilling (5p). It was ninepence (4p) to get in for a boy. The game was against the Unwashed. Like any kid I was going to support the winners. For 85 minutes we murdered ’em and led one-nil. They scored twice in the last five minutes. I felt so sorry for City I started supporting ’em. I’ve supported ’em ever since (and felt sorry for ’em ever since). Colin Shindler thinks the unclean ruined his life? Get yer knees brown Colin!

Bob Ellis (


I have a concessionary ticket (senior citizen or junior) available for Saturday’s game vs. West Ham in the Gene Kelly stand. No money required.

Andrew Dixon (


Contributions: Ashley –
News & Rumours: Peter –
Subscriptions: Geoff –
Technical Problems: Paul –

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,

Newsletter #704