Newsletter #710

It’s party time on Saturday, if not for everyone, then definitely for me now that nothing hangs on the outcome of this game – relax and enjoy! As several readers have pointed out, this game might actually be our last in the Premiership at Maine Road, if the unthinkable were to happen and we were not to gain promotion next season!

There is no real news this issue, other than Big Joe with the stunning revelation that we need a quality midfielder! He’s also rather cryptically stated that Ugo Ehiogu could have saved us from relegation. I’m not sure what this is based on though (a sound statistical analysis of his performances – methinks not), perhaps then the fact that he signed for Middlesbrough and they didn’t go down – just! I can’t imagine why he though it would be a good idea to say this, as it most definitely falls into the ‘spilled milk’ category of utterances, and can only serve to undermine the defenders we will be relying on to get us promoted.

This issue has much opinion, as well as a nice article on ‘Funny City moments’ from Phil Lines.

Next game: Chelsea at home, Saturday 19th May 2001


Part I – Transfer News and Rumour

Royle – New Buys Will Send Out a Message: Joe Royle says that Manchester City will add to the squad in the summer. And the Blues’ boss believes that the recruitment policy will send out a message to the other players in the squad. Royle is unhappy with the form of certain players over the last season, though he declines to name them publicly. And he believes that by bringing in new faces, he will make clear to some of the underachievers that they have to do better. “The biggest statement to make when we bring new faces in is to the other players,” the City manager told the club’s official website at “We are not happy, we are not happy with a relegation on our CV and as always we need to improve. We need to improve in every position. I think new players can help to banish that hangover which can come with relegation.”

Ostenstad Goes Back to Blackburn: Egil Ostenstad has ended his loan spell at Manchester City. The striker has returned to Blackburn Rovers after starting only one game during his three months with the Blues. Ostenstad arrived to add cover to the City squad when Paul Dickov and Paulo Wanchope were injured but failed to feature in the side once those players had regained fitness. But though the Norwegian’s opportunities at Maine Road were limited, Joe Royle formed a sufficiently positive impression of him to consider making the deal permanent in the summer should he be looking for a striker. “I was quite impressed by Egil,” revealed the City boss, “and what I saw of him I quite liked. As it stands at the moment we still have four players in front of him so we will not be taking anything further but I did tell him that should one or maybe two go, [signing him] is certainly something we will consider.”

Morrison Set to Leave This Summer: Andy Morrison is back at Manchester City having ended the season on loan at Sheffield United. But the big defender looks certain to be leaving Maine Road on a permanent basis this summer. Morrison’s stint with the Blades was his third loan spell of a campaign in which he also featured for Blackpool and Crystal Palace and played six times for City. But the 30-year-old picked up a knee injury which restricted him to four appearances during his six weeks at Bramhall Lane. Manager Neil Warnock has indicated that the South Yorkshire club could make a move for the former City skipper later in the summer, while Cardiff, newly promoted to the Second Division, are also rumoured to be interested in the player.

Charlton Eyeing Transfer-Listed Charvet?: Joe Royle has said that he expects Manchester City to recoup their outlay on Laurent Charvet. The Frenchman, who was transfer-listed earlier this week at his own request, is rumoured to be interesting Charlton Athletic. Charvet has failed to impress since his move from Newcastle last October. But even so, Royle believes City are likely to receive a fee comparable to the £1 million they paid to bring the full-back to Maine Road. Charlton attempted to land the 28-year-old before he opted to move to the Blues and are the first club to be linked with him on this occasion, though it remains to be seen whether City’s valuation and the player’s rumoured weekly wage of £16,000 represent stumbling blocks to a deal.

Grant for Burnley Rumours Continue: Tony Grant is being touted as one of the players who could leave Manchester City in a summer clear-out. And Burnley continue to be mentioned in connection with the midfielder. The Clarets are already expected to make one signing from the Blues by taking Gareth Taylor on a free transfer: the striker ended the season on loan at Turf Moor and has expressed a desire to move to the Lancashire outfit on a permanent basis, though other clubs, most notably Rotherham, are also said to be keen on the ex-Sheffield United man. Even so, Burnley are hopeful of completing the deal, and reports state that they may also bid for Grant, having enquired about the ex-Everton man before he spent a spell on loan at West Bromwich Albion last December.

Royle – Midfielder the Priority: Most observers have agreed this season that Manchester City’s midfield has been weak. And Joe Royle has admitted that he hopes to strengthen the Blues’ engine room during the summer. Royle laments that City have not found a balance all season between offering an attacking threat and maintaining defensive solidity. And the Blues’ boss ascribes the failure to his midfield’s inability to dictate a game. “We have lacked someone with the orchestration talents of a young Ian Bishop,” he commented. “Players like that are just not readily available and the ones that might be are being chased by masses of clubs. Of course we would like to develop our own talent, but if not we will have to spread our net as far and wide as we possibly can.”

Boss – I Won’t Sell Weaver: Nicky Weaver’s recent omission from the Manchester City starting line-up has prompted speculation over the goalkeeper’s future. But Joe Royle says that the 22-year-old is staying at Maine Road. Weaver lost his place to Carlo Nash after a series of high-profile errors, and it had been claimed that an offer in the range of £5 million could tempt the Blues to cash in on the England under-21 player. Royle, however, denies such talk. “We haven’t received any bids for Nicky,” emphasised the Blues’ boss, “and we won’t be encouraging any.”

Part II – Miscellaneous News and Views

Neil Young Benefit Match Announced: Mossley will face a Manchester City veterans’ team on Sunday, 22 July. And proceeds from the game will go to the Neil Young testimonial fund. Neil himself will kick off the match, while there will be a personal appearance by Colin Bell and a half-time raffle with, if plans come to fruition, a prize particularly enticing for City fans. Mossley’s ground has a capacity of around 2,000, and it’s hoped that there will be a sizeable crowd; admission prices are likely to be in the region of £4 or 5. Meanwhile, the City first team will visit Huddersfield for a pre-season game on Tuesday, 31 July, with the match serving as a testimonial for Terriers defender Jon Dyson. And Tranmere sources are indicating that the Blues have agreed to play a friendly at Prenton Park as part of the build-up to the new campaign.

Horlock – City’s Future in Good Hands: Kevin Horlock has been playing in the Manchester City reserve side for several weeks in his bid to return to full fitness after injury. And the midfielder has been favourably impressed by some of his team-mates in the club’s second string. Horlock has played alongside the likes of Leon Mike, Chris Killen, Terry Dunfield, Rhys Day and Dickson Etuhu, all of whom will be hoping to force their way into Joe Royle’s senior squad next season. And the ex-Swindon man believes that the youngsters are ready for the challenge. “There are a lot of good kids coming through at City now,” he told the Manchester Evening News. “I am sure the senior players will be starting to look over their shoulders. We know these kids are out to take our shirts.”

Young Duo Handed Contract Extensions: Manchester City have handed Leon Mike and Dickson Etuhu one-year contract extensions. The two players are being rewarded for their recent performances at reserve level. Striker Mike, 19, has recently expressed the hope that he will soon make a senior breakthrough, having briefly sampled first-team action in loan spells with Oxford and Halifax earlier this season. Eighteen-year-old Etuhu, meanwhile, has now settled in midfield after an uncertain beginning to the season when his best position seemed unclear. And Joe Royle believes that the pair will be pushing their claims to feature in the Nationwide League next term. “Etuhu has improved dramatically now that he has settled,” the City manager told the Manchester Evening News. “It is nice to give someone time to develop and hopefully that patience will be rewarded. Leon, too, has come with a burst and has put himself in the frame for a place in the squad.”

Dunne and Kennedy Called Up By Ireland: Manchester City’s season will be over after Saturday’s home game against Chelsea. But for at least two of the Blues’ squad, there will be more match action to follow. Richard Dunne and Mark Kennedy have been named in the Republic of Ireland squad for two crucial World Cup qualifiers in the first week of next month. Mick McCarthy’s men host Portugal in Dublin on 2nd June and travel to Estonia four days later. Nicky Weaver, however, will not be joining the City international contingent on this occasion. The goalkeeper would have been a likely candidate for the England under-21 party for the trip to Greece on 5th June but is sidelined with a knee injury.

Boss’s Praise for Devastated Goater: Shaun Goater says that Manchester City’s relegation from the Premiership has been the lowest point of his career. But Joe Royle believes that the Bermudian should be feeling pleased with himself because his performances in the top flight have proved his critics wrong. Goater is still waiting to see if he is officially credited with the deflected effort that beat West Ham last month. And if he does keep that goal, it makes the 31-year-old currently the Blues’ top scorer in all competitions, his tally of twelve being one ahead of Paulo Wanchope. And Royle believes that the ex-Bristol City man’s output this season is proof that the doubters were wrong when they claimed he could never prosper at the top level. “If Shaun had any remaining critics after what he has done for this club then his efforts should have shut them up,” Royle told the Manchester Evening News. “Seven goals in his last nine Premiership outings is a tremendous record. Some of his goals have not been pretty but that does not matter, he has the happy knack of putting the ball into the back of the net and long may it continue.”

Joe – Ugo Might Have Saved Us: Joe Royle believes that last summer’s failure to land Ugo Ehiogu cost Manchester City dear. The Blues’ boss considers that with the £8 million defender in the team, City would probably have avoided relegation. Royle made persistent attempts to land Ehiogu from Aston Villa before the start of the current campaign. But the player eventually joined Middlesbrough, as the Blues admitted defeat in the chase for the England star and signed Steve Howey instead. The City manager, however, can’t help reflecting on what might have been. “If you said to me what regrets I have about this season, and regret is a bit of a strong word, I have wondered what difference Ehiogu might have made had he come,” he confessed. “You could be talking about three goals less meaning six points more and he might have saved us those goals. That is where we have fallen down this season.”

Royle Blasts Instant Success Culture: Laurent Charvet is leaving Manchester City after failing to settle at Maine Road. But Joe Royle feels that the defender is a victim of the instant need for success in modern football. Royle admits that the Frenchman’s form has been disappointing since the Blues paid £1 million to bring him to Maine Road from Newcastle in October. But the Blues’ boss is disappointed that critics have labelled the player a flop only seven months after his arrival at the club. “If Dennis Bergkamp had been judged on a similar time scale he would never have got a second season at Arsenal when he was player-of-the-year,” reflected the City manager. “Unfortunately, football is instant these days and Laurent has come under this pressure and obviously decided he is best away from it and to an extent I can understand that.”

City to Take Part in Masters’ Tournament: Masters football is returning to Manchester this summer. And Manchester City will enter a team in the tournament to be held at the Manchester Evening News Arena in two months’ time. Masters football is played indoors by over-35s who have retired from the game and represent their former clubs. The games are six-a-side and there is no offside rule. There will be a series of regional events, with the winner from each going into the national final. And the Blues will be joined by Manchester United, Everton and Liverpool in the North West heat at the Manchester Evening News Arena on Sunday, 15th July. Tickets are available from the MEN Arena box office, which can be contacted by telephone on 0161 930 8000, or via the 24 hour ticket hotline on 0870 903 0603.

Part III – Chelsea at Home: Team News and Preview

Royle to Blood Youngsters In Chelsea Game?: Joe Royle has the chance to give some of Manchester City’s young players a taste of senior action on Saturday. But loyalty to an old friend may prompt the Blues’ boss not to field an experimental side for the visit of Chelsea. Royle is hopeful that next year, some of the products of the City Academy will follow the lead of their colleague Shaun Wright-Phillips, who made a breakthrough this season to feature nineteen times in the senior side. And with relegation already sealed, the City boss may be tempted to give a couple of the young prospects some valuable first-team experience against Claudio Ranieri’s men. But Peter Reid’s Sunderland are vying with the Londoners for a place in next season’s UEFA Cup, and the Black Cats’ hopes will be dashed unless City win on Saturday. And Royle is therefore likely to select a strong side as he bids to do one of his closest friends in football a major favour. Early team news is that Richard Edghill may play at right-back with Laurent Charvet likely to be kept from the firing line, and Richard McKinney is the leading candidate be the substitute goalkeeper in the absence of Nicky Weaver. Meanwhile, Darren Huckerby is due to have a cartilage operation on Friday so will also be unavailable to take a place on the bench.

Dickov Looks to End on a High: Paul Dickov has scored in the last match of each of Manchester City’s two previous campaigns. And the Scot is looking to end the club’s brief stay in the Premiership on a high note on Saturday. City take on Chelsea at Maine Road, and Dickov believes it’s important for the club to finish the season positively. And he feels that a win against the star-studded Londoners would be an ideal way to raise spirits after the disappointment of relegation. “People might say it is a nothing game for us, but we want to go out there and send the fans off with a win,” the 28-year-old told the official club website at “We will be playing against a quality team with world class players. It is our last chance, for a year, to pit ourselves against the best.”

Peter Brophy (


Don’t know if it has been mentioned, but unless City win promotion back to the top flight at the first attempt (a feat not achieved in living memory), Saturday’s game against Chelsea will be the last ever Premiership game at Maine Road!

Now there’s a sobering thought. Bring your flags, rattles and blow up yo-yos.

Steve Kay, Man City Fans View, Sport First (


Well, the last match is truly academic and had a Chelsea victory meant pipping Arsenal to the CL spot then I would be more than willing to accept 12 home defeats. I am still smarting over the fact that they well and truly demolished us 0-4 after 20 minutes and then not 4 days later they gave away two (count them) 2 own goals to hand 3 points to fellow strugglers Boro at Highbury. So I would like to have given some karma back to the Ar*e in the form of missing out on a CL place to accompany their losers’ FA Cup medal.

Be that as it may we still only have ourselves to blame.

After the post mortems on why we went down, some of the top reasons in no particular order will no doubt need fixing.

  1. Conceding > 60 goals.
  2. Losing at home 11 times.
  3. Capital Punishment – 1 point from all the London games (Spurs ?).
  4. “Midget with a Rottweiler Syndrome” – We just can’t hold on to the lead (9 times).
  5. We had zero class players able to compete in the EPL.
  6. The wins against Sunderland, Leeds, West Ham, Leicester were not enough.
  7. Weaver (immature with some howlers, I’m still in two minds about cashing in).
  8. Royle (can’t manage at EPL level).
  9. Edghill (fired by the boo boys, was a disgraceful way to treat someone).
  10. Weah (moaning Minnie who would not sit on the team bus).
  11. Wanchope (unable to be managed).
  12. Huckerby (1 goal in open play).

None of the individual items above are what amount to the ‘smoking gun’ in the relegation enquiry but all have contributed to a recipe for disaster. You could argue that some of refereeing decisions were awful and may account for 6 points; add in the -3 points against Arsenal and the +3 for Boro against Arsenal and it would be different but the first 4 items above speak for themselves and point towards Division 1 football.

That said, I think we all need cheering up!

A contributor to McVittee was inviting readers to send in their funniest moments/memories of City as they are writing a book (another one on City). I don’t know who to send it to so I am sending it to McVittee this way so everyone can enjoy (cry).

I don’t know why the person considers dogs running on the pitch to be so humorous that they deserve the Golden Rose at Montreux. I for one think dogs at football matches are about as funny as Eddie Large. It’s funny what people find comical. When Little & Large were on TV, I watched 2 episodes with a very straight face just like I would be in a court appearance but when Eddie tries to be serious about a serious subject I p*** myself laughing at him. He is beyond the cringe and should be barred from MR on the grounds of good taste.

Even though many of the incidences listed were not funny at the time the many sands of time (and lager) have passed and they do now appear to tickle the funny bone.

Our much-patented gallows humour has served us well. I even remember in one of the fanzines they ran a competition to readers to select City’s worst ever line up. In the first fanzine of the new season the author stated that sadly there were so many entries it completely ruined his summer holiday sifting through so many interlopers such as Brannan, Creaney, Sugrue, Biggins, Daley… oh the list is endless.

In no particular order and off the top of my head (you will have to check some for detailed accuracy):

  1. The Hutchison own goal, in ’81 FA Cup Final.
  2. Alan Ball “Play the ball to the corner lads we only need a draw to avoid relegation”.
  3. The ironic reversal of fortunes of both Manchester clubs after the “5-1”.
  4. Man City break UK transfer record by signing Steve Daley for £1.5 million.
  5. “City sign Stockport ace”, headline in the MUEN circa 78.
  6. The Forward (and then downwards) with Franny campaign.
  7. Steve “I’m here for the long haul” (33 days) Coppell.
  8. Five managers in the space of (was it) 6 weeks and virtually every pub quizin the NW covered this subject in the sports section, even the joke abouthaving a “manager who lasts a month” competition.
  9. I did hear a story (this may be apocryphal) that the editor of the Cityfanzine “Electric Blue” being threatened with court action by the owners ofa pornographic magazine of the same name for misuse of a copyright namethat potentially besmirches the good name of their publication. I can’t seea class action law suit by a bunch of pervs but nevertheless the name waschanged.
  10. The David Pleat jig on the pitch was perhaps one of the cruelest and Iwas reminded of this that Brian Horton played that day.
  11. Peter Swales (RIP) and his Shredded Wheat Combover 1973 to 1994.
  12. 2-0 up in the derby to have it come back to 2-2.
  13. City conceded a penalty and the pitch was so mudded up the penalty spothad disappeared. The striker (forget name) placed the ball where he thoughtit should be. Joe Corrigan picked up the ball and said it wasn’t there andbegan pacing out where the penalty spot should be. Big Joe got booked andthen the player scored.
  14. Selling Curle, Flitcroft, Quinn & Lomas to pay for the new Kippax stand.
  15. 30,000 people appearing at Maine Road on a Friday evening to see Swalesbooted out of office, thinking that the new man was going to be our saviour.
  16. Francis Lee after leaving football made his fortune in toilet paperbefore returning to Maine Road where he did exactly the same thing i.e.metaphorically wiping up the mess of others.
  17. Swales had an altercation with FH Lee in 1973 and he promptly transferlisted and sold him, then Lee said. “You will regret this decision, as Iwill come back to haunt you one day” [Cups for Cock-Ups]. Lee went on to winthe league with Derby and scoring the winner against us at MR on his firstreturn. I remember Barry Davies (I think) on MOTD saying “just look atFrancis Lee’s face” as Derby took the 2 points (as it was then) back to theBaseball Ground (as it was then) and promptly won the league and gave FHLee his only league championship medal. That’s when I knew being a City fanwas going to be painful. Little did we know that was only Part 1 of hiscomeback plan to get back at Swales and City.
  18. John Bond being caught ‘in possession’. One of the events leading up tohis dismissal was to be caught in a very compromising position with one ofthe pools (lottery) ladies in the away team showers. Allegedly. Definitelyoffside John.
  19. Unforgettable incident at Nottingham Forest when Crosby (?), receivingtreatment behind Dibble’s goal, ran back on to the pitch after several lifesaving dabs of the magic sponge, he crept up behind Dibble who had the ballon the palm of his hand ready to kick out. Sneaked up on him, nudged it outof his hand and scored. You can hear David Coleman “errrr what happenednext Emlyn?” for years to come.
  20. It was a glorious day, the sun was shining and City with theirdeep-rooted ties with the community opened their family stand. The bitbetween the Main Stand and the North Stand. Trevor Francis recorded a soundbyte on Piccadilly Radio (as it was then) hailing this as a great day forthe club, 2 adults with 2 children then 1 of the kids gets in free (Iforget the exact concession). No swearing posters. Plenty of Stewards,application forms to join Junior Blues, sweets, no booze in this stand etc.Joy upon joy. Late in the second half Big Trev was fouled on one of hisruns by a terrible challenge, right in front of the family stand. Highpitched boos echoed from the pre-pubescent youngsters (me and our kidincluded) who saw their hero Trev clatter to the ground. Trev gets up,remonstrates with the assailant, a few handbags exchanged and Trev headbutts him on the hooter in classic style. The bloodied assailant gets uplooking like an extra from Reservoir Dogs. Trev is turning on the showersbefore the red card is put back into the pocket and he can’t even manage awave to the adoring lads & lasses in the uncovered section of the familystand after giving an “R” rated performance.
  21. Kevin Bond was still fairly new to the club and had not won over largesections of the crowd and was getting the ‘daddy’s boy’ chant from bothsets of fans at MR. His dedication was like that of Paul Dickov and NeilMcNab put together, the crowd favourite however Nicky Reid (did he everscore?) couldn’t put a foot wrong but had nowhere near the same level ofcommitment as young Kev. A little off form one day, the crowd were gettingrestless and I think we were 1-0 down. Young Kev picks up the ball 30/35yards out, nudges it to his left, side steps a potential defender, the ballhits a raised divot and takes the sweetest of bounces to raise it some 4/5inches off the ground, young Kev leans over the ball text book style andsweeps his left foot in a Tiger Woods golf swing through the nicely teed upobject and the ball arcs majestically through the air and at the end of theprojectiled path the ball is nestling in the back of the net after thedespairing efforts of the goalkeeper who slumped in a crumpled heap by theright hand post. The goal was a sheer dream; any other player, any otherteam and we would be seeing it ‘ad nauseum’ on footy shows for years tocome. Kevin Bond turned towards the Kippax, arms out in crucifix stylefashion as if to say; “What do you think of that, now will you accept me?”It was one of the most beautiful goals I have ever seen at MR, especiallywhen viewed from the North Stand. Fair play Kevin Bond. I think your dadwas sha**ing the Littlewoods lady at the time (allegedly).
  22. Being at Wolves getting hammered 3-0 at half time, awful night. Duringthe 2nd half (I think we were 4-0 down by then) the crowd pipes up “JohnBond, John Bond give us a wave, John Bond, give us a wave”. The blondpretender waits for a moment, we give him another chorus and he looks tothe away end and gives us a halfhearted wave. In unison like some massneurosis had over taken all of us, the entire City contingent in the awayend were on the same wavelength and in some Pavlovian reaction we allleaned forward 2 fingers rampant in V formation and screamed at the top ofour lungs a two word offensive phrase connected with sex & travel.
  23. The incident with Swales selling the franchise of the souvenir shop for£750,000 thinking he had pulled a masterstroke in business deals.[That’s about 20x the figure I heard! – Ashley]
  24. The pitch invasion after the defeat in the FA Cup tie at MR againstSpurs (?) was perhaps the saddest display by our fans.
  25. Away at the Dell – The Saints Fans’ “you will never see our new ground”;the lads retorted “you’ll never fill your ground”
  26. Quinn scores and we take the lead. Our goalie, Eric Nixon (?) bringsdown a Derby (?) player in the box. Penalty. This would have equalized thegame. Quinny saves. “Ireland’s Ireland’s Number One”.

Those are some of the best as I witnessed them and I know there will be others, but…

Far and away the funniest and classical moment in Man City’s history we take you back to a warm and sunny Old Trafford in the spring of April 1974. The pictures are brought to you by Granada TV and the commentary provided by the dulcet tones of a certain middle aged mustachioed gentleman; the incident was catastrophic on its outcome but this time not for the Blue half of Manchester.

Roll VT:

Colin Bell running through the middle of the OT pitch towards the Stretford End with the ball.

And cue Gerald Sinstadt:

“Here’s Bell, Tueart is away on the left, Lee (as he runs into the box pulling 3 defenders with him)… pulls it across to Law and Dennis has done it”

As Dennis back heels the ball into the Stretford End goal and watch closely in the background behind Stepney’s goal the lank-haired stinky Rag herberts clad in denim adorned with dinner plate sized player badges give the V signs to the scene of their crestfallen heroes.

If anyone wants the clip of the classic moment I will happily forward.

Caution: Some of the facts need checking as they are vague but that’s how I recollect the comedy of errors at Manchester City.

Phil Lines (


In response to Steve Cowan’s suggestions for striker buys. There is one that has been constantly banging them in at Second Division level for a few seasons now and I reckon would do the same at First Division level too. Although possibly not a Premiership player (although The Goat’s done OK moving up the divisions so you never know he might do the biz). He might score the goals to take us up again. How about Jamie Cureton?

Lance Thomson (


Whilst watching Ipswich vs. City with my cousin Alex last Monday, a voice message came through on his mobile telephone. On receipt of the message Alex looked a lot bemused and passed me the telephone to review said message.

Message went: “Hello Alex this is Georgi Kinkladze, just wanting to wish you and the Blues the very best of luck in tonight’s game”.

Thinking this was a wind-up we chuckled and thought little more of it.

Some time later the phone rang and we were subjected to the noise of what can only be described as a bar room brawl. Apparently Derby County were visiting Jersey and were watching the game from a local hostelry. Alex’s friend happened to be in the same bar and telephoned us in order that we could speak in person to Georgi, proving this was no wind up.

As Alex launched the phone across the lounge at me I found myself on the other end of the line to the great man himself. We chatted and voiced our opinions as to how the game was going and in concluding the conversation Kinky said that he was sure that we would definitely score… as if by magic at that precise moment Goater found the back of the net. Both handsets went westward and a lot of screaming and shouting could be heard from either end. We said our goodbyes and of course only a few moments later the wind was taken out of our sails.

Having heard reports back from Jersey, Kinky was visibly upset come the final whistle and from my conversation with him it’s obvious he still cares about City’s fortunes. How refreshing!

Just thought I’d share that with you!

Steve Austin (


For any fellow sufferers in the area, South Florida Blues will be holding one of their regular post-relegation inquests in the Tudor Inn, Powerline Rd, Fort Lauderdale Saturday night. From there we will cross the street to watch Ian Bishop & the Miami Fusion show Carlos Valderrama and the Tampa Bay Futility how the game should be played. Lockhart Stadium, 7:30pm kick off.

BTW, reading Ken’s diary last edition of MCIVTA (good old Ken, a fellow Swinton Blue, see you in NYC next week), I was reminded of the derby game at MR in ’62/’63 and agree entirely, it was never a penalty. As I remember it, Law collided with Dowd, kicked him and the ref gave a pen. As a further trivia note, Albert Quixall now lives down our street in Swinton.

Paul Duncan (


I was wondering who at Maine Road makes the decision that the players we sign are of good enough quality. I am not just bitter about the poor season we have just had but the overall situation of the last 10 years or so. I don’t recall a player that has played for City in the past 10 years to be of “Premiership” quality. What do we expect when we drop to the lower division(s) when the staff at the club are basically at that grade? In reference to recent comments made, wether JR could not get his man he was looking at and the fact that Michael Owen and Joe Cole were not lying awake at night waiting for the call from big Joe. Did George Burley have the same problem? Maybe it doesn’t take millions of GBP to put together a middle of the table Premiership squad, maybe it just takes a little bit of knowledge on how the game is played and how a player plays. Just by being a decent player in the past does not mean you can make a good coach.

I think the problem lies deeper than getting a big name signing in the door, and I think there is a problem. Remember we were all saying the same in 1996 – “we’ll bounce straight back”. Well, look what happened there. As for decent players to look at, Clint Mathis NY/NJ Metrostars. I remember a conversation I had with Brian Horton and John Maddock way back when and talking exactly about the above. He asked for an opinion of a player who was a worthy buy. At the time Paul Merson was having his trouble at Arsenal and they laughed at me. Well, the point takes me back to the 1st line of the opinion. Thanks guys.

Darren – NJ Blue (


I’m sorry, but I really must respond to the ridiculous views of Gary Johnston from the last edition (MCIVTA 709). I cannot believe just how fickle some City fans can be. Yes, yes Nicky Weaver has had a pretty atrocious season (even by Andy Dibble’s standards!) but to claim that one of the most naturally gifted young players we have ever had at Manchester City has “had his day at Maine Road” when he is still only 22 is just plain ignorance.

I do not doubt for a minute that Carlo Nash has had some far superior performances since winning the goalie’s jersey this season, but let’s not forget that he has still played less than 10 games for the club compared to Nicky’s two amazing seasons for us before this season.

Have you forgotten just how good Nicky was in those two promotion campaigns? I, for one, recall countless times when I simply could not work out how he kept the ball out of the net week after week. For clubs such as Napoli and Fiorentina to still be interested in a player in such poor form is testament to just how naturally talented the kid must be. Funny how these same clubs weren’t sniffing around for Carlo at the absolute bargain price of £100K. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking Carlo for a minute here – I am over the moon that Manchester City have two brilliant goalkeepers, both of whom are on the good side of 30 years of age. It’s just that Nicky Weaver has come a long, long way in a very short time. He is young and inexperienced. He is down on his luck and down in confidence.

After a long relaxing summer the backroom staff should sit him down and go through the whole three years of his time at City and remind him of what he has achieved and what he is capable of. And after that I’m am convinced that we’ll see a return of the jaw dropping, head spinning heroics that helped guide this club back up the divisions.

Robert Springthorpe (


That there Premiership was a right rum do, and ‘ad me right confused, what with depression all over the house every Saturday, us all expectin’ to be beaten again, and ‘aving our expectations well and truly met! The devil’s finger from relegation hell beckoned us this-a-way, lads, and by Jove, were we quick abaht answerin’! Eeh, bah gum, folks, ah feel right bothered about recent results, and ‘ow we can mek’ things better, like, and get out of old Second division, by ‘eck! What’s to be done, by solid, honest and good-livin’ City-supportin’ folk like us? They ain’t no way out but one, mek’ no mistake about it, by God. We City folk ‘ave to get t’shoulder to t’wheel and push, Ah say push, like bu**ery to get our boys right up there where we belong, with the Middlesboro’s, Derbys and Evertons of this world, by the lord Harry.

As mah old Mum used to say, God rest her, a pound o’ black puddin’ in the hand is worth two pounds o’ tripe in the allotment shed (or something like that).

Enough of the flat-cap slapstick, we have a serious problem here, folks, so what are we going to do about it? Maybe we could start by thinking that we are now back where we belong – in the First Division, that is. Six years is a good indicator of a team’s real ability. In the last five years we’ve spent 3 in the First Division, one in the Premiership, one in the Second Division, and we are about to spend another year in the First Division. So how can we even think we belong in the Premiership? We have as much right to be in the Premiership as Rick Astley has to be on Top Of The Pops! Let’s face it, right now, we’re both Blasts From The Past.

On balance, over the past few years, we have been an average First Division side. Our position is not what it could be, but it is what it is. The only way back is to modernise. The new stadium is a good start. A new manager would be even better. Decent man that he is, I cannot imagine that Uncle Joe will inject the hard edge, technical know-how and vigour needed to revive City (think about it, you never heard of Uncle Alex, Uncle Gerard, or Uncle Arsene). Given our supporter base and financial resources, it should not be impossible to come up with the cash for good players. But in the present set-up, how many promising players will sign for City? We have an old-fashioned team and an old-fashioned manager whose career has been littered with relegation battles and, to be fair, the odd promotion (I’m tempted to add “and an old-fashioned millionaire” for a chairman, but that would give my age away!). How many good players would chose City over the competition? Even in the Premiership, we could attract only one good player – Richard Dunne (Uncle Joe can’t really claim all the credit for this – it was Mick McCarthy who gave Dunne his chance to shine, in an Irish shirt – which he duly did).

The only basis for a long-term return to the Premiership is through a good team. We must now focus on the First Division, and become a really good First Division team. When I say team, I mean a team, not a collection of individual players who meet to train and play together. This means attracting players who have the belief and the will to push City ahead. But those players must also believe that the club is willing to change for success, where first-team places are won (and lost) on merit, not by grandfather rights, where technical ability is a basic requirement (i.e. the ability to pass and receive the ball under pressure), and where the manager is still hungry for success, rather than worn out with relegation battles. This team will take time to build, and even more time to solidify. Then we will be ready to go back to the Premiership, and this time we will stay there. But there is the problem – time, probably three years, which is almost as much time as Joe has had already. But sadly, Joe’s team today is not much better than the one he inherited, and not remotely fit for the Premiership. Joe should do a Ferguson, and announce that he will be giving up the reins at the end of the coming season, or earlier if a suitable candidate can be found. Sorry, Joe, you were great in your day, and thanks for everything, but it’s time to go.

CTID, Tony O’Leary (


Just thought I’d air my views on what seems to be a increasing debate. There seems to be a growing number of City fans who now feel that we should let Weaver go. However, just a year ago no-one really had a bad word to say against him. He joined us after having played one league game, and then proceeded to play nearly 150 for us without missing many. He is still a mere 22. He has to learn, but he came into this season on the back of two blinders, and there was a lot of media attention as a result of his previous impressive seasons. He was under a lot of pressure and expectation, and he started the season ok. It’s only really been since Christmas that his form has dipped, and that is really for the first time in the 3 seasons he has now been a member of the first team. I feel that having him and Carlo Nash at the club gives us two very good ‘keepers and healthy competition. But to say that because of a few blunders we should get rid of Weaver is IMHO ludicrous. I have no doubt that he will come back a better player next season. As it’s been said, the jump to the Premier League is like jumping two divisions in one go. He wasn’t the only player who didn’t!

Ed Bodey (


One of Mike Barnett’s comments in MCIVTA 709 struck a chord; he’s absolutely right in contrasting the consistently thoughtful contributions to McVittee, where differences of opinion don’t get in the way of the fact that everyone’s pulling in the same direction, with the ludicrous sniping that goes on between Dave Wallace and Noel Bayley and their respective coteries.

I still read the fanzines from time to time – any obsession needs feeding – but there’s no question that all the childish posturing spoils the fanzines (which are otherwise pretty good), and they should realise that the vast majority of their readers don’t give a monkey’s toss whether they like each other or not. I appreciate that they put the effort into putting their ‘zines together, and as such are entitled to write what they like, and I’ve no idea where the bad blood stems from; but if they’re not collectively big enough to sit down over a pint and sort out their differences, or at least call a truce, then I’d suggest they just keep their feud to themselves.

Regarding the Joe in/out debate, I’m firmly in the “in” camp. For a start, he’s a thoroughly decent bloke, and if he doesn’t have much time for temperamental superstars, so be it. Most of us have got a bit tired of the after-match excuses for poor results this season, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s been doing it to protect the fragile confidence of his players rather than to seek to excuse poor tactics. Fergie’s been doing exactly the same thing for years (though he doesn’t have to do it so often) and it’s done him and his team no harm. If JR’s being straight in saying that he only wants another 3 players, and assuming that we can get shot of the obvious candidates to raise a bit of cash, then he has to be given the chance to come up with something resembling his finished article. He brought in a lot of players last summer/autumn very quickly, which was always going to be disruptive, particularly as none of them were the £8m-plus-fit-into-any-team types; if he’s able to stick with Howey-Dunne (3 at the back? no thanks – as soon as Spencer P took his tracksuit off at Portman Road the defensive organisation was bug*ered), and Danny G and Alfie/Edgy (who I’d like to see given another chance, with a proper right-sided midfielder to pass to), then that’s the basis of a good defence, with the likes of Ritchie, Day and maybe Jordan as back-up. There’s plenty of midfielders who we’re extremely familar with, and who can all cut the mustard, at least at Division 1 level, but if this elusive creative playmaker doesn’t turn up over the summer, then maybe SWP and Terry Dunfield will provide the longer-term answer at no extra cost, alongside DT and Jeff/SuperKev. Up front, anyone’s guess, but I’d be happy enough turning up in August to watch approximately that collection, especially as most of them seem pretty committed to the cause, and the dressing room atmosphere seems good, all things considered.

A new manager inevitably drags half a team from his previous club, and team spirit and organisation are back close to square one. The one caveat is that Willie has to teach the players to hold on to the ball and pass it to each other over the summer – doesn’t matter how good your defence is if the midfield loses the ball within 20 seconds every time it’s cleared.

Like one or two previous contributors, I’d like nothing better than to see Niall Quinn coming in as Joe’s no. 2 for a while and learning the management ropes – I’m sure he’d make an excellent manager in the David O’Leary mould, but I suspect he’s got too much sense to do it, and as he’s as popular, if not more so, on Wearside than he was here, he’d be pretty difficult to prise away from Sunderland.

Thanks in advance to Ashley and the team for nursing us all through the wilderness that is the close-season, and I look forward to Frank Lampard and Robbie Fowler lining up for the new season in laser blue shirts and lovely hooped socks. Pass the pills please, nurse…

Dave Watkins (


John Hurst makes some fine points in MCIVTA 709. Not least the search, if there is one, for a new boss. One suspects that Joe will not want to renew his contract after the present one expires and I can’t really see Willie Donachie wanting to, or being asked to, take over at the helm. He seems a bit Brian Kidd to me, although I’ve still to see him making an ar*e of himself kissing the turf when we score a late winner. Which leaves a tricky dilemma. Where are all the decent managers?

You would think that we would be looking at a younger manager which rules out the old guard of Graham, Redknapp & Bassett. However the younger ones look too young. Only David Moyes has proven anything, but take that a step further with Moyes or Gary Megson. Imagine in 2 years time, that Bernstein can get Luis Enrique in the twilight of his career to Maine Road (or Eastlands): “Luis, come and meet our manager Mr Megson, his Dad was called Don and played for Sheffield Wednesday”. It’s not going to happen is it?

Megson is doing a great job but like everybody we all have levels we can succeed at. For Bernstein it’s a vicious circle. I don’t see him being keen to try his luck with say Gullitt or Vialli, as both of them will probably only succeed with money to spend. However it’s only with money to spend and a vision that you can challenge the big boys.

From a personal point of view I would like to see JR move upstairs and a new man in now. And, this may be contentious, but I think there are only 2 possible contenders. Jan Molby and Steve McMahon. Both have quality, a will to win, desire, a quality playing career and are learning their trade through the lower leagues. Mr Bernstein I hope you are already planning for the future.

By the way I was racking my brains trying to think of a successful ex-Rag manager? I can think of plenty of poor ones: Wilkins, Coppell, Robson, Bruce, Kidd, Macari, Pearson & Charlton. Any ideas?

Mark Robison (


There is a lot of wound licking and recrimination going on right now throughout the Blue world. Some of the stuff on here and on Blueview has been pretty scathing. However, the one thing that keeps coming over again and again is the simplistic nature of what went wrong. Everyone has their own opinion of why we were relegated but to blame one player or the manager or referees belies the underlying reason why we are back in the First Division.

This season we have been the victim of a cruel combination of circumstances. Some of them are of the team’s own making, some not. Certainly a couple of the key players that were brought in this season haven’t fitted into the set-up that is Man City. Paulo Wanchope has struggled and George Weah just lost the plot entirely in my opinion. Forget his outburst about how little respect he was shown; respect has to be earned and in my books, George didn’t behave like the super-star he claimed to be. Charvet has been a disaster. His languid, laid back attitude hasn’t even been good enough for the reserves let alone the first team. Injuries have accounted for a goodly amount of the poor reliability of the team. The team that brought us up from the First Division was a settled, cohesive unit that needed a little tweaking here and there to make it Premiership standard (note I don’t say good Premiership standard we would always have been merely adequate). Throughout the season we have struggled to put out a consistent team as Goater, Kennedy, Horlock, SWP, Dickov, Ritchie, Wanchope et al have all succumbed to various problems. Add to that the losses to disciplinary bans and all season we have struggled.

I have to agree some of Joe Royle’s tactical decisions have left me dumbfounded, but again this is just one more contributory factor in a disappointing season. I don’t agree that for example bringing in Gianluca Vialli would have been the answer. Gianluca had one resource at Chelsea that neither Joe nor his successor is ever going to have at Maine Road and that was mega-millions to play with. It’s not a difficult job to be a manager when you have 70 million quid to spend!

Joe has complained long and hard about some of the appalling refereeing decisions. I agree with him some have been as inexplicable as some of his own tactical decisions. One contributor even suggested a conspiracy amongst referees to ensure City were kept out of the top flight. As paranoid as that sounds given some of the decisions you can’t help but wonder although my own feeling is that it is more a comment on the lamentable state of our refereeing system than a deliberate conspiracy.

Poor performances on the pitch have been the main cause of our demise though. Haaland has not only not played a captain’s season he hasn’t played a Premiership player’s season. There is the quaint little story about him handing out tenners to disgruntled fans at the start of the season… it’s notable he stopped doing that as if every time he’d played badly this campaign he’d have been broke by now.

I mentioned Charvet earlier but add to the poor performances in defence the name of Prior, too slow and too easily played out of position. Wiekens has only redeemed himself partially in the last three or four weeks. His performances have been banal at best and for quite a few games it was possible to forget he was even on the pitch.

Finally the last straw for me has been Weaver. Oh what in heaven has happened to him! From being a candidate for England’s number one ‘keeper he has demonstrated a self-destructive streak that has been breathtaking. Poor clearances, poor ‘keeping and careless tackles have thrown away point after point for us. Perhaps with all the stories about his partying and drinking habits going around there is a real cause to believe that in Nicky we have another player whose success has gone straight to his head. Some serious work needs to be done with him and fast or else we should offload him to whoever will give us the price of a replacement. As for our better players… well even the best of the season Tiatto managed to get himself banned for key games so maybe the latest hero we have should shoulder some blame too? Maybe the finger pointing should stop and everyone accept some of the collective responsibility.

The close season needs to see some rebuilding and a lot of soul searching. The squad needs to be reviewed and passengers off-loaded as quickly as possible. I don’t know if we can bounce straight back but would like to think we could. The squad, for all the above criticisms, is still stronger than at the same time last season. A few weeks’ serious training and bonding during the summer and some early buys should sort out a lot of the issues. Bringing through one or two of the better younger players might help as well. Terry Dunfield and Chris Shuker should be given a chance now as well as Chris Killen. Roll on next season. If the lessons are learned then there is every reason to hope for a good run next time out.

Dave Cash (


I’m all in favour of giving Joe Royle at least another season as long as I do not hear of any more reports that we are interested in another defender! I think this season has demonstrated above all that defensive ‘sponge tactics’ do not work. Eventually the sponge becomes saturated and starts to leak. Joe himself has commented on the number of times we have gone ahead and lost. Throwing another, even if better, defender in is not going to sort out our goal conceding problems. Instead of this we need to be able to take the game to the opposition especially when we have scored. It’s easy to say, but let’s concentrate on finding good midfield and attacking players for a change.

Mike Roberts (


My name is Andrew Wignall and I live in Oldham.

Wembley, May 1999. My head was in my hands, all I could do was stare at my feet and try to block out the roars from the other end of the ground. Bob Taylor had just scored Gillingham’s second and for the first time since 3pm I sat (or rather slumped) into my seat.

My girlfriend Janine had been crying since Carl Asaba had made it 1-0 and I felt truly sorry that I had introduced her into the true horror of being a Manchester City fan. I’ve had to put up with this kind of misery since 1976 so I should able to put up a mental wall to protect me from situations like this, unfortunately, I can’t. It was as if it was my first great disappointment. Just as it surely was going to be for Janine, a horrible ending to her first season as a true Blue. We were both raw nerves amongst 40,000 others, forming a blue sea of agony as we all soaked up the pain.

Twenty three years of this, for me: let-downs, false dawns and the world’s largest roundabout (made up of the million corners we’ve supposedly turned). Of course there have been a few fleeting moments of elation… the promotions in 85 and 89, the 5-1, the 10-1, the semi-final in 81, the… erm, well… like I said ‘a few’. Never anything to build on, never any real true achievement, nothing that really mattered.

When I was 8 years old I said to my dad “I can’t wait to see City win something.” I didn’t realise that I’d still be waiting at the age of 31. I stared hard at the floor and it seemed to me that footballing happiness was further away than Mars when my eye caught sight of a one-pence piece. ‘Find a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck.’ Yeah! Sure! 2-0 down in the 89th minute.

I picked it up anyway, though, slipped it into my back pocket and stood up to watch the rest of the game.

I still have the penny.

We’ll be back!

Andrew Wignall, Oldham, 15th May 2001 (


Recent results from 03 May 2001 to 16 May 2001 inclusive.

15 May 2001

Newcastle United      0 - 0  Arsenal               50,729

League table to 16 May 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  37 15  2  2 49 12  9  6  3 29 16 24  8  5 78 28  50  80
 2 Arsenal         37 15  3  1 45 13  5  7  6 16 22 20 10  7 61 35  26  70
 3 Liverpool       37 13  4  2 40 14  6  5  7 27 25 19  9  9 67 39  28  66
 4 Leeds United    37 10  3  5 33 20  9  5  5 28 22 19  8 10 61 42  19  65
 5 Ipswich Town    37 11  5  3 31 15  9  0  9 25 26 20  5 12 56 41  15  65
 6 Chelsea         37 13  3  3 44 20  3  7  8 22 24 16 10 11 66 44  22  58
 7 Sunderland      37  9  7  3 24 16  6  4  8 20 23 15 11 11 44 39   5  56
 8 Aston Villa     37  8  8  3 27 20  5  7  6 19 20 13 15  9 46 40   6  54
 9 Charlton Ath.   37 11  5  2 31 15  3  5 11 19 38 14 10 13 50 53  -3  52
10 Southampton     37 10  2  6 24 20  3  8  8 13 26 13 10 14 37 46  -9  49
11 Newcastle Utd   37  9  4  5 23 17  4  5 10 18 33 13  9 15 41 50  -9  48
12 Leicester City  37 10  4  5 28 23  4  2 12 10 25 14  6 17 38 48 -10  48
13 Tottenham H.    37 10  6  2 28 15  2  4 13 16 38 12 10 15 44 53  -9  46
14 West Ham United 37  6  6  7 24 20  4  6  8 20 28 10 12 15 44 48  -4  42
15 Everton         37  6  7  5 27 25  5  1 13 16 32 11  8 18 43 57 -14  41
16 Derby County    37  8  6  4 22 23  2  5 12 14 35 10 11 16 36 58 -22  41
17 Middlesbrough   37  3  7  8 16 22  5  8  6 26 21  8 15 14 42 43  -1  39
18 Manchester City 37  4  3 11 19 29  4  7  8 21 34  8 10 19 40 63 -23  34
19 Coventry City   37  4  6  8 14 23  4  3 12 22 40  8  9 20 36 63 -27  33
20 Bradford City   37  4  7  8 20 29  1  3 14 10 41  5 10 22 30 70 -40  25

With thanks to Football 365


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 #710