Newsletter #712

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This issue contains two major pieces of news, one is the not entirely unexpected appointment of Kevin Keegan as manager, the other is the pre-announced, and therefore expected, retirement of Peter Brophy. As this issue marks Peter’s last as News Editor/Compilor/Writer, I’d like to use this editorial to thank him for all his efforts over the last few years, rather than rambling on about our new saviour – I hope nobody minds.

I half-persuaded/cajoled Peter into the job when he was still working in Russia, with plenty of time on his hands as the Russian economy self-destructed around him. Since then, time has become ever scarcer, such that Peter has finally had to call it a day. Peter’s news summaries have really been everything a good summary should be: diligently researched, well-written, reliable and informative. Above all they were not plagiarised, and in actual fact, were so good that they were frequently the target of plagiarism. Still, it was quite amusing to see Peter – as a lawyer – writing to the perpetrators to point out to them the error of their ways!

Peter will of course continue to play a rôle in the running of MCIVTA, and will he assures me, use some of his spare time to write articles for MCIVTA, as he used to before the advent of the News. Lastly, I’d like to welcome Michael Leafield who will be taking over from Peter from next Monday – I bet he’s glad it wasn’t this week!

Next game: to be announced

NEWS SUMMARY

Part I – New Manager: City Appoint Keegan

Keegan Lands City Job: Manchester City held a press conference late on Thursday afternoon to announce the identity of their new manager. And Kevin Keegan was unveiled as the man who will be replacing Joe Royle. Keegan has been out of work since quitting as England coach last October. But after speculation all week following City’s dismissal of former boss Royle on Monday, the news broke on Thursday that the Blues have now persuaded him to take on the challenge of restoring Premier League status at Maine Road. City director Dennis Tueart is a close friend of the one-time Newcastle and Fulham manager and is thought to have persuaded him to accept the position. It’s being reported that the 50-year-old has agreed a five-year contract with an annual salary of £1 million.

Keegan – City Challenge Excites Me: Manchester City announced on Thursday that Kevin Keegan is the club’s new manager. And the 50-year-old attended a press conference at which he spoke in enthusiastic terms about the challenge facing him at Maine Road. Keegan admitted that his reign as England manager had been disappointing. But he views himself as “more suited to club management” and says that City are one of “very few” clubs who could have tempted him out of retirement. The ex-Newcastle manager views the club as a “sleeping giant” that he believes he can awaken and he says he wants to give the Blues’ fans a team capable of playing exciting, attacking football. However, he has not yet discussed with the board the extent of his transfer budget or the changes he wishes to make to the backroom staff.

Bernstein “Delighted” With Keegan Appointment: Kevin Keegan has been appointed as the manager of Manchester City. And David Bernstein believes that the new man has what it takes to bring the glory days back to Maine Road. Keegan is reported to have signed a five-year contract to replace Joe Royle, who was dismissed at the start of this week. And Bernstein is convinced that landing the former England boss is a real feather in the club’s cap. “This is a massive coup for City,” he claimed. “We are bringing in one of the biggest names in football. Flair is his trademark. With his talent and our club there is great promise for an exciting and successful period.”

Weaver Says Players Welcome Keegan: Nicky Weaver is the first Manchester City player to have commented on Kevin Keegan’s arrival. And 22-year-old is looking forward to working with the former national coach. Weaver himself has never played for the former Newcastle boss. But when on England under-21 duty, he has spoken to members of the senior squad at the time Keegan was in charge. And their views of Keegan mean that the young goalkeeper is in no doubt as to the merits of the appointment. “Kevin was in charge of the senior side when I played for the under-21s and while I never worked with him directly, it wasn’t hard to see the effect he had on players,” he told the Manchester Evening News. “He is such a passionate and committed man, everyone wanted to play for him and win for him. He is really well respected by the players and is a supreme motivator.” Meanwhile, defender Paul Ritchie has also spoken enthusiastically on Thursday afternoon about the appointment.

Marsh Cautious Over Keegan Move: Rodney Marsh was fiercely critical of Manchester City’s decision to dismiss Joe Royle this week. And the former Maine Road favourite is not convinced that new man Kevin Keegan will be the answer to the Blues’ problems. Keegan has signed a five-year contract to manage City. But Marsh is concerned that the former national coach has a habit of walking away from difficult situations. “He walked away from the Newcastle job, he walked away from the Fulham job and he walked away from the England job,” the media pundit told the BBC. “We’ll have to wait and see if he’ll walk away from the Manchester City job. I like Kevin Keegan – I think he’s a very honest and straightforward man. He’s very passionate about football and that’s something the Maine Road fans will enjoy. But my attitude to the whole thing is, what’s different than normal? It’s just another new manager for Manchester City and we’ll have to wait and see what happens in two years’ time.”

Eriksson Glad to See Keegan Back: Kevin Keegan has been announced as the new manager of Manchester City. And the 50-year-old has been backed to succeed at Maine Road by the man who took over from him as England coach. Eriksson says that he spoke to Keegan recently and urged the ex-Newcastle boss to return to football. And the Swede is delighted that his predecessor with the national team is now back in the game. “Congratulations to him and Manchester City,” said the former Lazio manager. “I hope he will do a very good job. I am very happy about it and I think Kevin Keegan should be in football, not out of it. I’m sure Kevin Keegan can do it at any level. He is a great coach, player, manager and man.”

Beardsley – City the Ideal Club for Kev: Peter Beardsley knows all about Kevin Keegan’s managerial abilities, having played for the new Manchester City boss at Newcastle and Fulham. And the one-time Maine Road loan man believes his former boss will thrive with the Blues. Beardsley says that Keegan’s experience of winning promotion at both St James’s Park and Craven Cottage will stand him in good stead next term. And the former Newcastle, Liverpool and Everton man is convinced that the 50-year-old’s motivational qualities will inspire a similar outcome at Maine Road. “Kevin is a fantastic manager and it is great to see him back,” he enthused. “I will be surprised if City don’t make the play-offs at least next season. What he will do straight away is bring enthusiasm to the job and make it the place to be. The club will be sold out for every home game, he will bring exciting football and there will be a buzz around the place.”

McCarthy and Moyes Links Come to Nothing: Mick McCarthy and David Moyes were rated as two of the leading contenders in the race to succeed Joe Royle at Manchester City. So the two men’s current employers will be relieved that the Blues have appointed Kevin Keegan. Pat Quigley, President of the Irish FA, claimed earlier in the week that he would fight tooth and nail to hold onto the services of Republic of Ireland boss McCarthy. But reports on Thursday morning claimed that Preston chairman Bryan Gray had admitted that if David Moyes wanted to move to Maine Road, he would be powerless to stop his manager’s defection. Moyes himself didn’t deny interest in the City post, but the question is now academic.

Royle Blasts Drink Culture Reports: Newspapers this week have been full of lurid reports of the drinking habits of many Manchester City players. But Joe Royle has reacted angrily to claims that the Maine Road drink culture cost him his job as manager of the Blues. One unnamed player was widely quoted in the press on Tuesday as saying that he couldn’t believe the drinking habits of some of his colleagues, and that City was the best pub team he’d ever played for. But the former boss has hit back, and says that the stories are wildly exaggerated. “Talk of City being a pub team and having a drink culture is a load of nonsense,” he said. “I want to put on record that there were no problems on that score. Yes, there were one or two young lads who were single, had time on their hands and more money than sense, but all this was constantly monitored.”

Donachie Set to Leave Next Week: Despite sacking Joe Royle, Manchester City have asked the former boss’s assistant Willie Donachie to stay at Maine Road. But even so, the Scot is expected to leave the Blues as Kevin Keegan brings in his own backroom staff. Donachie has gone on holiday and is reportedly thinking over David Bernstein’s offer of a continued post at the club. However, various media sources are claiming that the former City full-back is likely to sever his ties with the Blues. The future of reserve team coach Asa Hartford is also uncertain, with some reports claiming that the former Scotland midfielder could also be leaving next week. At Newcastle and Fulham and with England, Keegan has previously worked with the likes of Terry McDermott, Paul Bracewell, Derek Fazackerley and Arthur Cox, while Peter Beardsley served the 50-year-old with great distinction as a player. There is already speculation that at least some of these men will come to City to link up with the former European Footballer of the Year once more.

Bernstein – New Boss Has Cash to Spend: Kevin Keegan has been appointed as manager of Manchester City. And the board will make sure that the former England boss has money to spend as he bids to take the Blues back into the Premiership. David Bernstein believes that the basis of the current squad is strong enough to return the Blues to the top flight. But he confirmed that Keegan will have the leeway to add to the exisiting group of players should he want to. “There will be no pressure for players to be sold for financial reasons,” he said. “The manager will be free to decide who he wants to keep and sell and there will be some cash available for new players.”

Part II – Transfer News and Rumour

Royle Departure to Prompt Transfer Rethink?: Andy Morrison was out of favour at Manchester City under previous manager Joe Royle. But now the Liverpudlian has left Maine Road, the former skipper hopes for a reprieve. Royle accepted a bid for Morrison from Bristol City in March, only for the player to reject the move, but it had seemed certain that the 30-year-old would be leaving the Blues in the close season. Now, however, the ex-Huddersfield defender is uncertain as to his future. And the likes of Richard Edghill, Laurent Charvet and Spencer Prior, who are all currently on the transfer list, will also be keen to see whether Kevin Keegan’s arrival prompts a change in their own personal situations.

Forest Not in the Running for Prior: Spencer Prior has been linked with a move from Manchester City to Nottingham Forest. But the midlands club say they no longer have any interest in the ex-Derby defender. Forest were keen on Prior before the March transfer deadline, but according to boss David Platt will not be making a summer bid for the player. There is a scarcity of cash at the City Ground after the club failed to make the play-offs last season, so a fee of £500,000 plus the 30-year-old’s weekly wage of around £10,000 are beyond the scope of the budget available to Platt. Prior was transfer-listed by the Blues last week, but it remains to be seen whether the departure of Joe Royle will have any impact on his position.

Part III – Miscellaneous News and Views

City on Verge of Kiwi Link-Up: Manchester City are on the verge of signing a development deal with New Zealand Soccer. The Blues were one of four clubs approached by the Kiwis, but have proved the most eager to come to an arrangement. Rangers, Newcastle and Bolton also had talks with NZS’s director of coaching Ken Dugdale on his recent trip to the UK, but City have made the first move and made a formal proposal. It’s thought that as many as three Kiwi youngsters could come to Maine Road before the end of the year to join compatriot Chris Killen; initially they will be put through their paces for three weeks, but could join as apprentices if they impress. Meanwhile, club officials are likely to travel to New Zealand to look at the academy programme there. “If we can formalise the contract quickly we could have our first players over there before the end of the year,” said NZS chief executive Bill MacGowan. “Having Chris Killen at Manchester City is obviously a help. Getting players to England, particularly if they have access to a British passport, is an obvious way of giving our best young players the experience they need.”

Jeff Named in Northern Ireland Squad: Jeff Whitley has been called up for the latest Northern Ireland squad. The Manchester City midfielder is in the party for World Cup qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. Sammy McIlroy’s team host the Bulgarians on 2nd June before taking on the Czechs in Teplice four days later, but there is no place for Kevin Horlock. The ex-Swindon midfielder’s lack of recent match action after injury has counted against him in McIlroy’s reckoning. Meanwhile, young City defender Shaun Holmes is in the Northern Ireland under-21 squad for their home game against the Bulgarians and the trip to Prague to face the Czech Republic.

City to Play Scunthorpe in Friendly: Manchester City’s new boss Kevin Keegan started his playing career at Scunthorpe in the late 1960s. And the Blues’ pre-season build-up will give the 50-year-old an early opportunity to return to his roots. City have arranged a friendly away to the Lincolnshire club on Tuesday, 24 July, three days after a game at Halifax Town. The Blues have also lined up matches at Huddersfield and Oldham. However, it appears that the state of the Spotland pitch means that the proposed game at Rochdale to mark the opening of a new stand will not be staged in the close season. The fixture was originally due to take place last November, but there must now be some doubt as to whether it will ever be played.

City Fan “Kicked Zola”: Manchester City are to be asked for their observations by the FA following the scenes at the end of Saturday’s game against Chelsea. And the Blues’ cause won’t be helped by the latest allegations to come out of Stamford Bridge. City fans invading the pitch at the end of the last game before relegation ripped up the Maine Road turf, and some of them appeared keen to attack the away support. And now Chelsea sources have alleged that one of their players was assaulted as he attempted to head for the dressing rooms. “We were all satisfied at the result as we had won the game,” said defender Marcel Desailly, “but we had to get there quickly because the pitch was suddenly invaded. I didn’t like that too much and Zola was kicked by one of the Manchester City supporters.”

Fathers, Sons and Football: Colin Shindler’s “Fathers, Sons and Football” is due to be published soon. The book tells the story of three generations of the Summerbee family who have played professional football, including City legend Mike and his son Nicky, who also featured for the Blues. The book is about the family, not just the football, so the football narrative is strictly defined by what was happening off the field. Moreover, it is written with a fair amount of social history detailing how football and footballers have changed over the decades. The first third is about George, Mike’s dad and a professional before the war, so it doesn’t get to City until halfway through the book. However, the interest to City fans is obvious. The official publication date is 14th June, though I understand that the book will be in the shops from the start of the month. For overseas fans, it can be ordered online at http://www.amazon.co.uk/; they promise to deliver orders “to virtually any address in the world”. The author, together with Mike Summerbee, will be talking about the book at Waterstones Bookshop in St.Ann’s Square, Manchester (not Deansgate) on Tuesday, 5th June from 7.30 p.m. Tickets priced £1 are now available from the shop. For further information please contact James Hurp on 0161 832 0424, fax 0161 831 7786.

Footnote: This is my last news summary for MCIVTA after two-and-a-half years in the rôle. Michael Leafield is taking over as of the next issue. I have enjoyed my stint during what has been a quite extraordinary period, even by this club’s standards, and should like to thank all those who have offered help, support and encouragement during my tenure.

Peter Brophy (pjbrophy@btinternet.com)

CITY DIARY

This week in City’s history, 21-27 May and a bit beyond.

Less and less to say, of course, the season has usually been over by mid-May, especially when the Cup Final used to be the last game of the year, so here’s the last instalment for now.

21 May: On tour to the USA in 1980, City were beaten 3-2 by the New York Cosmos.

22 May is Danny Tiatto’s birthday (1973). On this date in 1937 City played the last match of an end of season tour in Hitler’s Germany, losing 3-2 to a combined German XI. From somewhere in the memory banks I had vaguely recalled a story I had read or been told of Frank Swift refusing to give the Nazi salute at the start of a match in Germany. Thought it was before an England vs. Germany game of the late 1930’s, but Gary James says Swift didn’t play in that particular international, so if the incident happened at all it was when Swift was on this 1937 trip with City. I understand Gary is hoping to get his hands on film of one of that tour’s matches as part of the research for his new book on Swift, possibly showing the teams taking the field, which might confirm the story – unless I only dreamed it (in similar vein, recommend “Dynamo: Defending the Honour of Kiev” for the story of the Ukrainian team’s respone to being asked to give the Nazi greeting before their famous game in 1942).

23 May: In 1910 City played the last match of their first ever overseas tour (to Germany, Denmark, and Sweden), beating Gothenburg 6-0. In 1960 Joe Mercer was in charge of Aston Villa on a tour of Sweden; Joe put himself in the side and scored a hat-trick at age 46.

24 May: Les McDowell scored in the 2-0 win against West Ham in a Division Two match in 1947. In 1957 City won 9-0 on tour against Lloret de Mar. Going farther afield by 1991 they won 3-1 in Hong Kong. On this day in 1995 it was announced that City had won a £20,000 award from the Football Trust as the Premiership team that had done most to encourage “football in the community”. Alex Williams received the cheque on the club’s behalf. And in 1999 supporters were queuing all day around Maine Road to get tickets for the Wembley play-off final against Gillingham.

25 May: a thriller on tour to the USA in 1958, City 5 Hearts 6.

26 May: City lost 1-0 away to Sheffield Wednesday in 1947.

27 May: a 4-4 draw in Marseille in 1934.

28 May: Les McDowell resigned as manager in 1963 and George Poyser took over.

29 May: Ian Bishop’s birthday, 1965.

Sunday, 30 May, 1999: soaking wet day for the play-off final. City’s “back from the dead” recovery to win promotion from the Nationwide Division 2. Tickets in the Gillingham end courtesy of a deal done outside The Greyhound pub in Wembley with an Arsenal fan who lived in Kent. Left after Gillingham went 2-0 up (realizing that Horlock and Dickov would score in the last few minutes, you see, and wanting to watch extra time in close-up on TV in a pub without having Gillingham fans all around…). There is really no argument over the five minutes referee Mark Halsey added on, but it does seem that Gillingham had a good claim for a penalty in the second period of extra time. The ball is knocked back from the by-line and hits Jeff Whitley on the arm as he slides across the box trying to cut it out. On the day this referee judged that it wasn’t a penalty, but on another day a different ref might as easily have said that Whitley controlled the ball and prevented it getting into the middle. But it ended 2-2 and then came the penalties and Weaver’s mad dash around the stadium. Wonder if the bloke with the Welsh red dragon tattoo all over his chest who was dancing and dodging traffic in the middle of the road outside Eddie’s pub in Wembley after the game ever made it home?

31 May, 1999: Gillingham’s chairman demanded a replay on the grounds that Mark Halsey had been seen drinking with City fans in a Wembley hotel after the match. 31 May, 1947: City lost 3-1 at West Brom. They finished champions of Division Two that year, the season going very late because many games had been postponed during the terrible winter. But this still isn’t the latest City have ever played a League match, that being the 5-1 win at home to Newport County two weeks later on June 14th, 1947, when Roy Clarke made his début and George Smith scored all five goals.


Anyway, this is the last City Diary for a while. I’m not going to go into how many runs Jack Dyson scored for Lancashire or how many deckchair tickets Mike Summerbee sold for Torquay Council (in the summer before he signed from Swindon), so that’s it till the season starts again in August.

Just two last thoughts:

It’s nice of City to put a message in the middle of the Chelsea match programme saying how grateful they are to the fans for their support, but look at how they signed their names. Most are just lazy squiggles, Alfie Haaland and Willie Donachie seem to be writing in Arabic, SWP wrote his name then crossed it out again, and Charvet drew a coat-hanger. Only Howey’s looks like what it’s meant to be. You’d think they’d be bothered to do it properly. Does this say something?

And although City are relegated and have played dismally for the most part, it is good to see that at least the supporters have done well, coming second in the 2000-2001 pie table. 110,707 pies were sold at Maine Road this season, meaning that 18% of those attending had one (though I wonder how this breaks down by Kippax/Main Stand/North Stand, etc.?) Only Everton sold more than City. Over at the Theatre of Prawns a mere 11,000 bought a pie all season, or only 1% of their total crowd – now doesn’t that say something?

Ken Corfield (kcorfield@berkeley-carroll.org)

A FESTIVAL OF FOOTBALLING TALENT

Does anyone fancy pulling on a pair of boots and representing MCIVTA (and MCFC) in a footballing festival, held at Leeds Uni’s Bodington Hall, on the weekend of July 14/15? Yup this is “proper football”, 22 guys chasing a bag of wind around a field. This is the fifth year of this competition; this year’s entries see teams from England, Scotland, Greece and France. So if you fancy coming along a taking part then please let me know.

Martin Ford (mford@fs1.li.umist.ac.uk)

EAST YORKSHIRE CENTENARY SUPPORTERS’ ASSOCIATION

The next meeting of the branch is on Monday 28th May at 8pm in the Beaver pub, North Bar Within, Beverley. Main agenda item is some feedback from the Fans’ Forum… unless there’s even more earth shattering news in the meantime! Meeting open to new and old faces alike. Get in touch if you want more information.

Geoff Donkin (geoff@donkin.freeserve.co.uk)

PRE-SEASON TOUR?

Does anybody know or have heard rumours as to the whereabouts of City’s pre-season tour?

Gareth Owen (GOwen@centura.co.uk)

CHRIS KILLEN

New Zealand, and Chris Killen, lost 3-0 away to Singapore in a friendly and now return to New Zealand to prepare for the World Cup Qualifying Group Two matches, the winners of which will play Australia home and away for the right to play South America’s fifth placed team and the winner of that will go to the 2002 World Cup.

All matches in this group will be played in Auckland, New Zealand:

June  4 - Vanuatu vs. Tahiti
June  4 - Solomon Island vs. Cook Islands
June  6 - Tahiti vs. New Zealand
June  6 - Cook Islands vs. Vanuatu
June  8 - Vanuatu vs. Solomon Islands
June  8 - New Zealand vs. Cook Islands
June 11 - Solomon Islands vs. New Zealand
June 11 - Cook Islands vs. Tahiti
June 13 - New Zealand vs. Vanuatu
June 13 - Tahiti vs. Solomon Islands

Ralph Sheppard (rsheppar@pop3.massey.ac.nz)

OPINION – JOE ROYLE

At time of writing it appears that Joe went because of some loyalty to 3 people who David Bernstein (and presumably Denis Tueart, Chris Bird et al) wanted out. John Hurst, Alex Stepney, and Roy Bailey. So what of the records of these three? John Hurst as Chief Scout was, presumably, responsible for not only identifying good youngsters but also potential transfer targets as well as our next opponents each week. Seeing as some of the players transferred in were not of the desirable quality and that we could not handle our opponents sufficiently enough to win games, I’d say that his exit could possibly be fair enough.

Alex Stepney as goalkeeping coach’s job was, presumably to coach the goalkeepers, keep Nicky’s feet on the ground and advise Joe as to the strengths/weaknesses of the goalkeepers on the staff. Nicky has had a bad time this season and perhaps should have been rested earlier. Nicky made the Aston Villa mistake last season against Stockport and it obviously hasn’t been ironed out of him. The decision to stick with him might have been a fundamental error. Nicky may well have had the attitude of if he made a mistake he’d still be chosen for the next game. Carlo Nash has done well although this was too little too late as he should have had his chance earlier. So I’d say that Alex Stepney’s exit could also be fair enough.

Roy Bailey was not a chartered physio which is why Rob Harris had to come in. From what I can gather he took some stick regarding Paul Lake’s injury and who knows whatever other errors have been made on this score owing to a lack of qualifications. So perhaps, long serving though he was, football is more scientific these days and his lack of certificates meant he could not operate in the Premier League. Why didn’t he become chartered? So maybe his exit could well have been fair enough too?

So Joe showed some misplaced loyalty to these three and whilst trying to save their jobs he lost his own in the process. The old chestnut of Joe being a good Football League manager but not quite cutting the mustard at Premier League level is well documented, but maybe the chairman had this at the back of his mind when making the decision. After all Joe would hardly be sacked after taking us up again. So there was obviously a vicious circle there. They say there is no loyalty in football but Joe tried to show some and saw the door instead. Was he loyal or misguided? There’s always more to these things that are first reported so I wouldn’t like to say either way.

Let the merry-go-round commence!

Lance Thomson (lnt@btinternet.com)

OPINION – FOLLOW MY LEADER

City have often ended up looking daft while trying to keep up with the neighbours. Surely it’s a bit daft to go one better this time, just because of rumours of managerial troubles at Mould Trafford?

Chris Dabinett (cdabinett@netscape.net)

OPINION – DEPARTURE

Well – what a shocker… not that it happened but when it happened. I thought Joe would have been with us for the summer and into the new season but then if things didn’t go too well that would the time for change.

I think Joe was an honest man who tried his best for City but even the most rose-tinted look at the season just gone would show that we never got better – either in results, or in tactics or in bringing in new players. I just don’t get the idea that City are a better team now than a year ago: it is a distinction without a difference. The continual games lost at home and the number of games lost after going ahead point to a team that is not just poor but is also not improving. I agree with those who have said that perhaps Joe went after a lot of players who said no… we’ll never know. But the overall quality of those coming in was not promising.

This is not to berate Joe: he did well for us and whether his sacking is the right thing, who knows? As always it is important that City find a good manager but I would add it is maybe more important than in the past – given that we are off to a new stadium soon and there seems to be one or two young players on the horizon. The club is also pretty sound financially for the first time in years.

But then I am bug*ered as to who to get. It needs to be someone in tune with the demands of today’s football whether in tactics, diet, training or contracts and also someone who knows they have a challenge on their hands. I haven’t a clue. Graham is going to be an obvious candidate but I can’t see him being a good fit at all.

So – what a day – but I think we have to look ahead this time: unless things had started very well in September, today’s announcement was only bringing forward the inevitable. And I just didn’t have a lot of faith that City would start strong in the new season. So thanks Joe, you won’t be forgotten.

So, the challenges for a new manager:

  • get the home performances sorted out
  • keep the strong connection between the club and the fans (the fans seem to me to be the strong selling point to any new manager)
  • give all players a chance
  • be firm with who should stay and who should go
  • some understanding of what it takes to succeed in the Premiership

But I keep coming up with a blank… it would be too much to hope that the board already have someone in mind.

Another strange episode in the life of this most curious of clubs.

Best wishes to all – and just when we thought our summer views would center only on transfers.

John Pearson (john.pearson@stanford.edu)

OPINION – RE JOE AND NICKY WEAVER

Sentimentality is understandable in the face of such a surprise(?) sacking but, really, Joe Royle should have been sent packing mid-season. He reminded me of Winston Churchill – brilliant at inspiring his people to battle against adversity and prevail at the end of the penultimate battle but not especially good at handling the ultimate goal i.e. actually running the country once it had been saved or (in the case of Joe, just in case of confusion) of maintaining a consistent presence in the Big League. Everything Bernstein says, or is reported to have said, is quite true, it’s not that one is necessarily worse than the other, it’s that the two functions demand different talents and obviously Joe (and Winston) didn’t possess both. That much was clear around Christmas. And please, if anyone mentions good, and especially great, in the same sentence as Nicky Weaver, I… well I won’t do that but I will stare at the computer screen in absolute amazement. Look at the stats, look at the absolute dreadful mistakes at the most critical moments. He’s a good First Division, or Second Division goalie but stop believing the propaganda. He and Joe should have headed into the sunset, hand in hand, at the same time. I concede one point: who the hell would be daft enough to take the job? We wait in anticipation.

Chris Cobb, Ottawa, Canada (cobsun@magma.ca)

OPINION – WOW!

Wow! Just as I was about to write in and say “Close season, I love you” (especialy after the last season in the Premiership)… No, honestly, I really do love the close season. McVittie loses its gloomy edge – 5 match reports 0-3 vs. Everborough, aren’t we cr*p, why did he buy/play Charverby…? And we move into the realms of speculation, fantasy even, first the “if onlys” then the “what happens next” and there’s a tinge of optimism, first for months and we’re allowed to buy players (though we don’t yet) and everybody’s into theorising and suddenly I don’t care that we’re travelling to the Stadium of Sh*te, a.k.a. The Den, rather than that of Light. Local derbies too. Bring on Crewe and County, we’ll stuff ya! And then Bernstein shoots JR and we’re back in the real world.

As you’ll have gathered from my previous posts to McV, I won’t be wearing sackcloth and ashes. In fact I’m a little bit relieved, though perturbed, not at the way it was done but the timing. Even the daftest fan knows that if you’re going to sack a manager the time to do it is with 8 games to go. In comes the new guy, doesn’t matter if he’s cr*p long term but he gees up the team and results improve. I’m a bit surprised Bernie and Denis didn’t suss that one. What’s more, if there was a drink culture, how come DB has only just found out? The deficiencies in the scouting system have been apparent for long enough – bad buys, no players coming through etc. And over the years, Roy Bailey’s talents for physiotherapy have frequently being called into question – there’s only so far you can get as “the man who saved Paul Lake’s life.” What’s more, it’s pretty apparent just looking at the way Nicky lines up a wall (or not) and marshalls a defence (deffo not) that old Steptoe is the William Hague of goalkeeping coaches.

As usual (like the lack of a creative midfielder), it’s left to the fans to scream and shout and point things out – presumably the PLC board are too busy counting the takings to notice? Bl*ody wake up! No, personally I’m glad JR has gone, with dignity intact, and I’d like to thank him for his achievements and wish him well for the future. I’m glad he hasn’t been offered some half-assed job “upstairs” – Director of the Trophy Cabinet, Roving Ambassador to the Vauxhall Conference. But I’m looking to the future and hopefully the board will ensure a transition to a team of athletes not boozers and bruisers, a youth policy that will save us a few bob in transfer fees and a tactical plan that will prove effective and attractive under a thoroughly modern manager.

Who he? Cor, that’s a difficult one. David Moyes (jury’s still out), George Graham (boring, boring City – been there), Tricky Trev (please God, no – awful man), David Pratt (did I spell that right?), Harry Turner or Graham Basset (kick it over the Gene Kelly and chase it into Rusholme), Arry the ex-Ammer (hmmm… possibly, but he seems pretty disgusted at DB’s treatment of Joe, would he come?). Isn’t it brilliant, we can theorize till eternity or at any rate until they appoint someone. A few more names to ponder over: Dario Gradi (let’s see what he can do at a ‘big club’. Are we a big club?). Megson (interesting homecoming)? Ah yes… Fergie, now that would really put the polecat among the red red robins and set the b*stards bobbing. Keegan (hmm, let me see, who was the last ex-Soton manager we appointed?). Steve McMahon (been there). Big Mick (naw… seen Ireland play recently?). Niall Quinn – like a lot of people I’m a big fan of Quinny and I think he’d make a great manager – trouble is he’d make a pretty good politician too; I can see him as a future Minister of Sport back in the ould sod and, from a conversation I had with him at Dublin airport I don’t think he’d be suckered back to Maine Road. Oh, Rodney, Rodney? About time the old entertainer put his efforts where his mouth has been all these years – I’m gobsmacked to read he’s critical of the treatment of Royle, Rod’s been strolling round all season saying “aren’t we cr*p?” No lads, I think we have to turn to The Continong.. nab some progressive thinker. I believe Wim Jansen (most dignified exit from Celtic) is still football obsessed, watching junior teams every week and taking notes just for the hell of it. And he might just find us another Henrik Larsen. Otherwise I think I’d plump for Keegan – decent guy and it will make a nice change to hear a new set of excuses when we lose 4-6 every week instead of hearing Joe moan about bad decisions when we go down by the odd goal!

Finally a song to carry us into Division One.

Tune: The Leaving of Liverpool

Adieu you Riverside and White Hart Lane St.James’s Park farewell
For we’re down in Division One again
For another year in hell
So fare thee well, you Premier League
When we return United we will beat
Tis not the tonking by Liverpool that grieves me
But the stuffy one-nil home defeat

We support a chronic football team
Man City is her name
The midfield’s non existent
The defence is a crying shame So fare thee well, my own true love
When we return United will be sh*te
Tis not the leaving of Liverpool that grieves me
It’s more Millwall on a Tuesday night

It’s not the gold of Sky TV
Nor the glory of the EUFA cup
The only thing that worries me
Is the fear we mightn’t get back up
But once again, my own true love
We never will be parted, you and I
We’ll be queuing up next August
For a programme and a balti pie

So fare thee well, my own true love
When we go up United will go down (we bl*ody wish)
Tis not the leaving of Liverpool that grieves me
But a goaless draw at Grimsby Town

CTID, Ernie Whalley (bluevalentine@dna.ie)

OPINION – JOE

Whether we like it or not, football is a business. If you were an employer who discovered your staff were neglecting their duties, drinking during hours and generally showing a lack of respect for themselves, the business and the shareholders, you would do something about it. Bernstein has done it. He has acted in the face of unacceptable levels of incompetence from players and background staff. It would seem that he wanted Joe to ‘wake up’ and be united in the purge on the obvious ‘deadwood’ that is scattered around Maine Road. Joe disagreed with it for whatever reason, and Bernstein acted to protect the club as a whole.

I firmly believe that this was not a shock for Joe and that ever since his handling of Weah and Wanchope the seeds of discontent were sown. Many of us sensed disharmony within the team all season, not just the last few weeks! Add Edghill, Charvet, Haaland, Prior, Weaver to the list. Some of these are maybe not the greatest players but all are capable of doing a job if motivated. Instead they have been undermined and lost the plot. They are then played when off form long enough that the fans get at them and so eliminate the chance of ever having self confidence again.

Joe may be a nice bloke but his tactical prowess was questionable and his man-management was lousy. His string of excuses this season are far more embarrassing than City sacking another manager.

Some might say he has shown great dignity and left for standing by his friends. Again, I say, this is a business not a group of friends with a hobby. Friend or not, if you’re c*ap at your job, you’re out.

The City players will probably be thinking ‘shame he’s gone, it was quite cushy’. I hope the next manager makes them think ‘this is someone I respect and want to win with’.

Stuart Wells (wellss@flight-ref.com)

OPINION – DISGUSTED

Disgusted, Royle had his problems, we all know that, when will this once illustrious club learn that by leaving football to managers and finance to backboard urchins we may eventually become some kind of club again? Turn the clock back again (5 years seems to ring a bell). Two successive promotions, a better run in both cups seems to count for nothing, patience is a virtue, take a look at Burley, he had that team up and down but now they would appear stable and doing very well. Goodbye to the club’s most successful manager in a decade. Some say we came up too quick. Well I think you need to educate at the highest standard; if you don’t quite make it you go away and assess why not, one failing in three years, miracles do not happen overnight.

I do think the word Luck has been over used this season, and this will probably be the only thing that we remember about JR. Remember the victory parades of last season, the crowning of Sir Joe, he was the man who brought us back and I think would have done it next season too after that who knows, maybe at that time we could have assed it all better. Bernie talks of no knee jerk decisions and stability, well what the blo*dy hell has he just done?

I really cannot see any good managers willing to take this rôle on in the near future; we have after this decision, been made more a laughing stock than we were. Future managers, the ones who probably would do any good, well, would they want to come here to City, what is in it for their future? It’s hardly a long term career base is it? Will they be able to handle a big club with the fanatical support it has? Alas, we will not make the decison, that will be made by others who know better. We shall just have to put up with it and its results that follow… I dread that.

Can our hearts and health last much longer? We need stability. On the face of it, who really is there out there who can do a lot better than JR has done over the last 3 years? It was originally a 5-year plan, now Mr Bernstein, just which 5 years were you going to start it from?

CTID but wearing thin… again, G Williams – Stalybridge (williams.g@pg.com)

OPINION – RIGHT DECISION

I am sure the decision was right. You judge a person by their results, not whether or not he is a nice guy. Joe undoubtedly was… you would not put Ferguson and Wenger in the same popularity stakes.

Joe’s buys were very poor; he built up a team made up of 1st Division standard players and we ended up with a 1st Division team. His training such as it was was, again years behind the times. Football has moved on but Joe has not.

We now need dedicated professionals who train according to the new continental type standards, have athletic fitness and stature rather than resmebling a pub darts team. There has been no discipline and the players were regularly seen drinking in town, the last occasion being less than 48 hours after relegation when they were drinking champagne in the Ritz in front of still shell-shocked supporters. Joe has left no recognised training and fitness structure and no scouting structure either. Well done, the board for recognising this and being brave and taking action now rather than leaving Joe to take us back with another 1st Division team.

LAWMAN9133@aol.com

THANKS JOE AND FAREWELL

Well, we’ve had 4 days to digest the news and now swallow the pill that we have Mr Keegan at the helm. Interesting times ahead for us all (once again) though whether this has been a brave decision only time will tell. I won’t be holding my breath, but we’re going to have an interesting summer.

Like most people, I was stunned when I heard on Monday morning that Joe had been given the old heave-ho. I feel the whole affair has been handled poorly by the club and the tales being bandied about by club, players too spineless to be named, etc. are a disgrace. Joe has handled his demise with dignity; I would have hoped MCFC could have done the same. There again, strange things seem to be happening ‘upstairs’ at the moment. Plus ça change…

Thanks to Joe for the past 3 years, for being prepared to return and take on the task of MCFC, putting the brakes on our slide and hitting the accelerator again. Who will ever forget the image of Kennedy running to Joe at Ewood Park last May? Wembley 99? Sunderland & Leeds this season? Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

OK, this Premiership season has been a disappointment and there have been mistakes, but we’ve been let down by a number of the players and their attitudes too.

Joe is genuinely one of the nicest blokes you can meet in football and on the occasions I’ve met him has never been short of a word or time. Good luck Joe, whatever you do, and thanks.

Heidi Pickup (heidi_pickup@hotmail.com)

OPINION – AM I ALONE?

Am I the only one who wasn’t surprised by Joe Royle leaving? On the way to the Chelsea game I actually mentioned that I sensed something in Joe Royle’s voice in his last few interviews and that I wouldn’t be surprised if he went as I felt something wasn’t quite right at City. I admire Bernstein for having the courage to do what he did. I don’t think he intended to sack him but after Joe refusing to get rid of the three background staff there was no way back.

It’s perfectly understandable to question the scouting and the way that Weaver has been allowed to lose his potential and as far as the physio was concerned I think it’s something to do with having a certain qualification (but don’t quote me). The big thing that has disappointed me this season is the lack of commitment. Put this along with buying players who were no better than what we had, Joe’s inability to take criticism, inexplicably leaving players out (e.g. Kennedy at the beginning of the season and also Cooke) then you are going nowhere.

The other day I listened to Gerard Houllier being interviewed on TV saying that when he was a teacher in Liverpool he used to go to Anfield and it seemed to be the norm that players drank but these days things are much more professional and diet and lifestyle has to be disciplined and if they are not then there is only one place you will end up and that is behind everyone else. Drinking and smoking are OK for the fans in the stands but I am paying good money for my season ticket and I expect a professional approach by the players, otherwise we will never stay in the Premiership. This was not a knee-jerk reaction, financially the board have done great things at City and its only common sense that if you can see where the problems are then you are not going to just ignore them and let all the good work go to waste. There is probably a lot more to come out yet but these days City are much more discreet, preferring to deal with things behind the scenes.

Stick with Bernstein and good luck to Joe for the future.

Elaine Taylor (elaine.taylor@tesco.net)

OPINION – WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

I have a lot of respect for David Bernstein for what he has done behind the scenes for MCFC until Monday. To sack JR without a replacement lined up is suicide. While he has done relatively well in attracting investors to the club in recent years, this is perhaps his first test in dealing with the team management side of things and he failed miserably – particularly having only a week ago proclaimed JR’s achievements and assuring the manager ‘a job for life’ at City.

Contrary to what the MEN said about “no lack of applicants for the best paying job outside the Premier League”, I feel now that only an insane man or a lifelong fan would consider the thankless job of managing City. Sadly, Moyes, Redknapp et al do not fall under this category. We may have degenerated back into the bad old days of Peter Swales chairmanship as far as staff administration is concerned. Fittingly, the MCIVTA degenerated by a hundred issues (Ashley wrongly numbered it 611 instead of 711 in the email’s subject field) on the announcement of the sacking 🙂

While it is my longstanding view that JR lacked finesse to successfully manage a world beating team, DB should at least have employed some public relations damage limitation exercise and good business sense in dealing with the sacking. Rather than a sacking “with immediate effect”, a parting with mutual consent should have been engineered. This too can wait till a replacement has been identified, say after Preston failed to beat Bolton this weekend and contacts have been made with prospective targets. Unless a credible replacement is named soon, I cringe at the thought of how far back this will set the club by as far as reputation with managers is concern. I won’t even dare contemplate what effect this will have on continuity in youth development and confidence of players such as Weaver (the departure of his mentor Stepney is another jolt in his already faltering confidence). DB may have lost the plot, I’m afraid.

Nizam Idris (nidris@ideaglobal.com)

OPINION – PROGRESS

Whether you were for or against Joe – the reality is that he has gone and it’s time for us all to move forward. It is not however, without a huge amount of sadness on my part that he has been asked to leave the club. Joe has been a remarkable servant presiding over a remarkable period with highs and lows that 99% of football fans will never come close to experiencing.

All in all Joe did a good job.

He took over when the club was seriously close to losing it big style. He has to take be given a large slice of the credit for the eventual turnaround at MCFC (Stoke on Boxing Day onwards) and the instant promotion last year from Division 1.

It is the biggest cliché to say it but City’s poor year this year was because we ‘Came Up Too Fast’ from the low base of Division 2. I for one agree with this and if we could wind back the clock to Monday morning I would have begged Bernstein to stay with Big Joe, who on face value deserves to be given more time (à la Peter Reid, Curbishley, Burley etc.).

Bernstein was certainly of this view until recently – when he came up with the ‘Season Review’ smokescreen over the last couple of weeks. Something clearly changed and without being privy to all the facts you have to give Bernstein the benefit of the doubt. He does not have a bad track record for knee-jerk sackings in his business or in football. He has the respect of the fans for the way he has turned the club around financially. His other actions have been sound and he has always shown a desire for progress. Whether it was a drinking culture, poor scouting info on Weah, Wanchope and Charvet or just he felt it was time for a change – I for one think we have to support the decision of the board now it’s been made.

Bernstein implied by using the word ‘progressive’ that he wants a young manager who will not just have a remit to get back to the Premiership. This should be music to the ears of all City fans. Let’s aim high and be bold in who we appointment. Please let’s not get some has-been like Graham, Keegan, Redknapp etc.

What we need is a young manager who still has smething to prove, the confidence to have a real go (because he will need that at this club) and the pedigree/experience to get the players’ respect.

Surely what we don’t want is some has-been who has nothing left to prove and who will view City as a merely a means to earn a decent wage for 2 years and get some exposure for themselves on TV through our once great past.

The manager has to be young, ambitious, and view City as an opportunity to prove his potential and build his CV. Promising candidates that we realistically could tempt are:

  1. David Moyes (come on Bolton).
  2. Alex Mcleish (didn’t think of him straight off but what a job he’s done at Hibs).
  3. Gary Megson (City background and done well at West Brom and Stoke).

Other shouts for Steve McMahon, Jan Molby (good job at Kidder), Mickey Adams, Brian Talbot (good job at Rusden), Stuart Pearce etc. are in the second tier of choices for me.

The top 3 could do a good job at Maine Road. I would also be delighted to see Niall Quinn come in as a No.2 – although it seems unlikely. If not Willie Donachie seems to have the confidence of the board as a coach and has a good reputation for being ‘progressive’ in terms of his training methods – so he should fit in with Bernstein’s overall vision.

In conclusion, I would like to give Joe a big thank you. We are without doubt in an unrecognisable position from when he took over and he gets and deserves my total respect for achieving that. He always had the interests of the club and the fans right at the core of what he was doing. But now that the change has been made it is time to get behind Bernstein and give him the benefit of the doubt that he knows what he is doing and where he is going.

Come on Bolton put us out of our misery, win on Monday and let Moyes come hither.

Matthew Knowles (mk@hims.co.uk)

OPINION – THE SACKING

When I first heard the news of the sacking of Royle I though it unfair and a mistake. Having now heard all the stories of boozing staff and players I am 100% in favour. I took it as axiomatic that Premier League footballers look after themselves, especially cr*p ones facing relegation and am stunned by the revelations. I feel cheated.

Shame on the players and staff concerned, shame on you all.

Steve Miller (s.p.miller@lancaster.ac.uk)

OPINION – KEEGAN

So Kevin Keegan is the new man in The hottest seat in football management… having failed as England manager, he obviously has the name and the experience to do the job, but my only question is does he have the bottle? My one strong memory of Keegan is the time he completely lost it when he went head-to-head with Taggart. I hope he has learned from that galling experience. He’s going to need to draw on all his skills to re-charge our heroes and I hope that he can keep the core of decent players we have e.g. Tiatto, Howey, etc. Joe Royle is a great guy but he made too many tactical blunders and squabbled with too many temperamental stars. I wish JR all the best and I hope Kev can beat the squad into shape so they hit the ground running at the start of next season! Finally, as the season is now over, I’d like to pass on my personal thanks to the MCIVTA lads especially Ashley, Paul, Peter and Steve for keeping me in the know. You do a great job, guys!

CTID, Clive Tysoe a.k.a. Gio’s Bootlicker (ctysoe@cbsbahamas.com)

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


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

Newsletter #712

2001/05/24

Editor:


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