Newsletter #753

Another ‘4 goal thriller’ on Saturday which saw us gain 1 point from a 2-2 draw against neighbours Stockport County – certainly our first, and hopefully only, draw of the season. We have an excellent match report for those who missed the live action.

Tonight’s issue also has plenty of opinion – Neil seems to have done his usual(!), more news on Mr Black, a few requests and another Why Blue.

Tomorrow sees us in action against The Blades, a fixture there seems to have been some confusion on as it was originally scheduled for Wednesday evening.

Next game: Sheffield United, home, 7.45pm Tuesday 16 October 2001


15th October:
City were beaten 2-1 at champions Nottm Forest in 1977, and they won by the same score at QPR in 1994, Flitcroft and Walsh scoring. In 1969 there was a 2-0 League Cup win over Everton, after beating Southport and Liverpool in the rounds before – a Merseyside treble.

16 October:
Cross and Reeves were the scorers in the 2-2 draw with Sunderland in 1982. Glyn Pardoe (2) and Neil Young gave City a 3-1 win vs. Crystal Palace in 1965. George Smith got a hat-trick when City won 4-1 at home to Aston Villa in 1948.

17 October:
A 4-2 loss to Aston Villa in 1954, with Bill Spurdle scoring twice. Derek Kevan scored twice at home to Huddersfield in 1964, but City lost 3-2. In 1936 the Championship winning team beat Derby 3-2, goals from Toseland, Doherty and Heale. Back in 1891 Birmingham St. George’s were the opponents, City (as Ardwick) winning 4-3.

18 October:
Dave Watson and Colin Bell scored when City drew 2-2 at Spurs in 1975. Burslem Port Vale were beaten 4-1 in 1902, in Division 2. Roy Cheetham, Fionan “Paddy” Fagan and Joe Hayes gave City a 3-2 win over Portsmouth in 1958. 1978 saw a bit of European glory on this night, beating Standard Liege 4-0 in the UEFA Cup, Brian Kidd (2), Asa Hartford and Paul Power scored.

19 October:
City won 1-0 at Birmingham in 1999, through Richard Jobson’s header and Nicky Weaver’s saves, when he was on top form at that time. In 1996 Nigel Clough and Paul Dickov scored to beat Norwich 2-1. A Niall Quinn goal at Tottenham won it 1-0 in 1992. A hundred years ago today City beat Grimsby 3-0 in Division One.

20 October:
Alex Harley scored a hat-trick in 1962 against Sheffield Wednesday, though City were relegated come the end of the season. 3-0 at Newcastle in 1956, goals from Fagan, Bobby Johnstone, and Frank Dyson. Dave Bennett scored twice in the 2-2 against Norwich in 1979. Fifty years ago today Don Revie had his first game for City, 0-0 at Burnley.

21 October:
Francis Lee got his first goal in a City shirt, at Fulham in 1967, where City won 4-2. In 1970 City were in Budapest, playing Honved in the Cup Winners’ Cup, and it was Lee who got the only goal of the game. And a good omen for Sunday? City won 2-0 away at Preston in 1922.

Ken Corfield (


Scoreline betting ain’t what it used to be. Under Uncle Joe, a tenner on 3-0 would get you good odds combined with an outside possibility of paying off. Informed opinion before our local derby was confident that the outcome would be somewhere between 2-0 to the visitors and 11-0 to us. Probably.

We started in 4-4-2, playing towards the North Stand: Weaver; Pearce Howey, Wiekens, Dunne; Granville, Tiatto, Etuhu, Benarbia; Huckerby and the Goat. Stockport also chose 4-4-2; they were also the fifth of visitors (out of seven) to dress in bright yellow (please understand that I don’t care about these sartorial details, I just like to help our expatriate readers to visualise the situation).

The start was, as usual, bright although not entirely one-sided. Both Tiatto and Huckerby were threatening with their speed, but breaks at the other end from Kuqi and Hurst showed that the upcoming 11 goals weren’t going to go unopposed (pronounced coochie, apparently). By far their most entertaining player was itinerant goalkeeper Arpexhad. I’ve not seen a footballer called Peggy before. We were just arguing whether it was short for “pexhad” or “Margaret” when he decided to chase a ball out towards the corner flag. Tip for the kids: don’t try this when Huckerby and the Goat are both bearing down on you. Huckerby dispossessed him and, with the ball right on the byline, curled it round the near post to hit the net a foot inside the far post. It was a goal of sublime technical skill, a strong candidate for goal of the season. The referee was breaking up the celebration and heading back to the centre circle when he noticed the linesman indicating a goal kick, despite unanimous agreement between the North Stand, Goater, Huckerby, and the match video that the ball had stayed in play until the moment that it entered the goal. For courteously pointing this out, Huckerby got booked. Remember when Darren’s goal against Spurs was ruled out because Sol Campbell pushed over his own ‘keeper? Or Tiatto against Boro? If there were a prize for Wrongly Disallowed Goal of the Month, we’d need a new trophy cabinet.

It would have been nice to believe that we were now just going to win by 10 rather than 11, but it wasn’t really going that way. The biggest difference between the sides was, surprisingly, the offside trap. Stockport’s back four moved as if they were linked to some kind of architect’s set-square, while at our end, Pearce and Howey took it in turns to hang around two yards behind the rest of the defence. This was exacerbated by the linesmen: Mr Red Flag regarded offside as an unnecessary drag on the flow of the game, whereas the squint-eyed git who’d ruled out Huckerby’s goal seemed to consider it offside if an attacker received the ball in their opponent’s half. I don’t mind that they’re inconsistent, but can anyone explain why linesmen change ends at half-time, so that we get shafted both ways? Surely it would be fairer to keep them where they are, so that the incompetence evens out?

As it happened, the referee, Mr D Pugh, was playing a captain’s innings when it came to incompetence. He was giving free-kicks to any player who went down, unless there had been physical contact, in which case he waved play on. At one point, Etuhu tackled Sneekes, who flung his arms in the air, kicked both legs so high that his buttocks will be bruised in the morning, and lay on the ground like a rock until Etuhu was booked, at which point he got up and sprinted off like Michael Owen. Only Benarbia had the smarts to reciprocate, and won some useful free-kicks with his own dives – at one point by leaning on a Stockport defender then falling over as he moved away, which I though was neat.

Our first scoreless half-time, but confident that things would change soon. They did. Stockport put in a long cross, headed on towards the far post. Weaver came out, went back, came out, went back, changed his mind, dithered for a bit, then realised that there wasn’t really much choice about picking the ball out of the net. We were now starting to worry. Particularly alarming was the way that Dunne was starting to play like an out-and-out winger, except that he didn’t have the speed, ball control or crossing ability. I was just asking Norman why anyone would play Dunne on the right wing with Terry Cooke is still going scatty in the reserves, when Dunne put in a cross which Benarbia volleyed into a non-existent gap between Peggy and the post. One-all.

Hope sprang again, although Dunne quickly reverted to type. Huckerby’s runs down the left were creating a lot of danger. Both Tiatto and Etuhu looked good running straight at the defence. Tiatto shot just over, Huckerby shot just wide. Berkovic and Mettomo came on for Granville and Wiekens. Almost immediately Dunne put in another cross to Berkovic, who, eight yards out, was so amazed that he just fell over it. Then Stockport attacked: Hurst ran across the back of Tiatto and flew to the ground. Penalty and yellow card was probably fair. Coochie stepped up. Weaver’s Wembley miracle was based around standing his ground, watching the ball and trying to save it; now he’s matured to a more conventional technique of diving out the way. 2-1.

KK brought on SWP for Dunne. Within a couple of minutes, he had knocked a Tiatto cross back to Goater, who hammered it into the roof of the net from six yards. 2-2. Now we were going to seal it. Rather than Joe’s nonexistent midfield, we had five fast, skilful players in the middle: Benarbia, SWP, Eyal, Tiatto and Etuhu. It should have been a masterclass in fluid motion. In fact, it was often hard to see anyone moving at all. However, we still had eight minutes plus stoppage time. We should still have won.

But here, we got to Mr D Pugh’s final incompetence. Stockport, quite naturally, had been wasting time at every opportunity. There is an accepted tariff which allows 30 seconds stoppage time for each substitution and goal. The second half had four goals and six substitutions, making five minutes. Then, there had been two (possibly three) injuries requiring lengthy physio attendance. Add to that two occasions when Stockport had taken so long over throw-ins that Pugh had ostentatiously shown us that he was stopping his watch. And an incident where some rude boy in the Kippax must have questioned squinty-eyed git’s parentage, requiring Pugh to run over to said git, offer him a tissue, run back to the City bench to see if they had any more, then return to play – and Pugh don’t shift like Huckerby, believe me. That lot should have added up to about 12 minutes. We got four, of which two were occupied by a Stockport free kick while their allegedly injured player rolled about, and two were taken with a City free kick, while the Stockport wall refused to move back unless Pugh physically carried them. Infuriating. Grrr. Still, at least I saved a tenner on that scoreline bet.

Dorien James (


So the topsy turvy world of KK continues from the super second half show at Sheffield to the 4-0 defeat by Wimbledon, a team who definately “found us wanting” – defend well and break well; that’s how you stop City, a tactic the hapless Birmingham team last Wednesday didn’t or couldn’t adopt. That was probably the best attacking display seen for a long time. Before the game, having a pint with Andy Noise, I berated Huckerby and thought he would be one of the players to follow Tony Grant to pastures new. I got it wrong again(!) as his runs into the area left the brummies confused and bemused. In retrospect perhaps City should have made this early round Worthington Cup game “cheaper” so that more than 14,000 may have been encouraged to turn out on a damp Wednesday when football was liberally scattered over the TV channels.

So to Stockport, a dogged team who started brightly and retreated into a shell. Sitting as close as I could to the TV on Saturday night, it was definitely a goal from Huckerby. The abysmal referee and his assistant probably thought the ball was going out and had already made their decision – pathetic. Was Weaver (again) responsible for their goal? At the time he seemed “rooted” but perhaps I got that wrong too.

Thankfully Ali turned a “sweet” ball and the score was returned to evens. Surely now we would “pile on the pressure” against a team who, if we were ahead, would probably collapse.

But typical City, a rare Stockport attack found Tiatto having to save the day. He apparently didn’t and the falling County player got the obvious penalty. If on a one to one situation why was Tiatto only “yellow carded”? Maybe the dreadful Mr Pugh was again confused about his decision and opted out of his responsibilities. Thankfully the energetic SWP provided the pass for the Goat to maintain his impressive scoring form.

Lastly a “whinge” from an old sod who still believes that football should be entertaining. Yes, we do have to beat teams like Stockport at home to get automatic promotion but the County tactics in the last minutes may be part of what some people call the modern game – but when the Stockport “bagman” was stood on the touchline waiting for the next pre-determined feigned injury – I’m sure I saw him near the touchline once before the next inevitable, boring “hurt” leg. Thankfully next May (and defend as well as Stockport did) these tactics will see County disappear into the obscurity the tactics deserve. Thank God for teams like Crewe who come to play football! And Mr Pugh (or is it Spew): one ball to hand is OK but 2… I’ll say no more.

Definitely Man of the Match Dickson – what a star in the making.

Richard Cooper (Richard


Bad decision:

Following Huckerby’s perfectly good goal being disallowed on Saturday, surely it can’t be long now before TV technology is used to decide such incidents? The sooner the better! Cricket has been using the TV umpire for a good while, and very successfully too. Critics say it would slow the game down too much. Not so. How long would it take to have given a verdict on what should have been City’s first goal? The ref looks up, does that box thing with his index fingers and probably gets: “the ball was not over the line – goal stands” through his ear piece within 30-45 seconds, one minute max. You get feigned injuries lasting longer. The introduction of the ‘no backpass’ rule means that the game is already quite free-flowing in any case. The time can be added on to injury time as they already do with substitutions. Perhaps 1 minute for each time it is necessary to be used? How many times would it be needed during a match? I reckon once if at all. But decisions that go wrong like that can ultimately cost millions of quid. I’m sure we would have gone on and won comfortably as City normally have done this season when scoring the first goal. To think we’re going into another World Cup next summer and we’ll still be stuck with flag-waving blokes making crucial decisions while 20 yards behind play. Mind I’m glad the technology wasn’t around in 1966.

City formation:

We seem to have a ‘square pegs/round holes’ syndrome going on. Can someone ask KK if we can go back to 4-4-2 please? We shouldn’t be playing Richard Dunne as a wing back – the lad is a central defender. Really 3-5-2 only works if you’re going to use one of three as a sweeper. All we end up doing do is getting in each other’s way, defenders are kind of zone marking and no-one is picking up properly (example Stockport’s 1st goal). Better to have someone like Etuhu in the holding midfield rôle and a back four. The side I would have liked to see put out from the start against Stockport was:

        Huckerby   Goater
     Tiatto          Benarbia
Pearce(c)  Howey  Dunne   Colisimo

You could still have the likes of Granville/Mettomo/SWP (or even Terry Cooke anyone?) and Horlock warming the bench, which gives options to shore up the defence, or provide more attacking options if need be.

Anyway at least it’s more entertaining than last season!

Jon Reese (


I would like to say I do not disagree with a lot of the things Neil Haigh said about Joe Royle, but I still say he did a lot of good for Manchester City; we all felt bitter about the results we had in Joe Royle’s last season.

When Joe Royle first took over he had to get rid of a lot of players that had been brought to City by previous managers. Joe Royle (with David Bernstein) had to restructure Manchester City. Joe Royle did a great job for two seasons, the last bad season is the only one Neil Haigh wants to remember. Well I too would like to forget that last season, it was what brought Joe Royle down, and so Neil you are right about a lot of things, but sorry not totally, my memory serves me better than that.

But I will say this when the last game was played, the Premier League told us all Manchester City you are relegated.

As I said before Joe Royle is hurting himself with his actions against City. Who will employ him after this? However, as fans we do not know how his contract was made out. Joe, you were remembered by a lot of City fans by the good you did and this wipes a lot of that out; this is where I agree with Neil.

Ernie Barrow (


I have just read an article in the latest edition of MCIVTA regarding Joe Royle. I could not believe what I was reading. Neil Haigh’s vitriolic attack on JR says more about himself than it does about Joe. Slanted is inadequate, downright warped is nearer the mark.

Nowhere in the article is any mention made of back-to-back promotions, which by any stretch of the imagination was a fantastic achievement. Last season in the Premiership was a disaster, we know mistakes were made, the George Weah affair was one of the worst, but for all that JR did not deserve to be treated in the way he was. City handled his dismissal appallingly and put out a string of stories designed to blacken the name of JR. I would suggest that is behind his attempt now to sue the Club. I do not agree with Joe’s action but I understand why he feels so angry towards the (Directors of the) Club.

For me Joe will always be remembered for the two promotions and basically leaving the Club a lot stronger than he found it. Perhaps he cannot cut it in the Premiership, handling better players has given him problems. I can think of a few instances where Taggart’s man management skills have not always worked. I wish Joe well in the future, I also hope the court case is withdrawn for the sake of all parties, and as for Neil Haigh, he is entitled to his opinion but what a sad man.

Looking forward to next season in the Premiership!

Phil Taylor (


I had to respond to Neil Haigh’s article on JR, and his delight that his own JR world view has been vindicated. I suspect the less choleric amongst us will just be sad that matters have come to this, and also take time to reflect that had it not been for JR, we would have been in a position to be relegated from the Prem last season anyway. And the Nationwide is more fun anyway.

Jeremy Poynton (


Oh dear, Neil Haigh never misses a chance to dish it out on Joe Royle, mangling facts and making up fantasies along the way. Here are a few comments upon his last posting, which carried many an Archer-esque interpretation of history.

He starts off on pretty flakey ground by giving Joe the sobriquet ‘Stalin’. Now of all the tea cup throwing, table upending, hire and fire merchant football managers I have ever heard off, Joe wouldn’t even make the top 100 hard men. If Joe is Stalin, where does that leave current softies like Taggart or Graham, or old hands like Clough, Cullis, Nicholson, or even Busby? Is he any more brutally authoritarian than Kendall (chucking out Bish just for being Bish), Big Mal (hired and fired on a whim), Reid and Sam (regular locker room punch ups)? For every red scouse reporter with a beef against Joe, there is a Stuart Hall who sings his praises as a decent chap. Tyrant? You must be having a laugh.

To then accuse fans like Ernie B of somehow being complicit in some sort of reign of terror at the club lowers Neil’s article to the level of base comedy. Many, many fans were wholeheartedly behind the players, manager and chairman as the team rose from the 2nd to the Prem. What was Neil doing on the grassy knoll at Blackburn, booing and calling for Stalin’s head? Probably.

Then we have a real Archer moment. Joe spent £17 million of ‘our’ money. It would have been nice if Neil had got the gross figure right – £16 million, and even better if he had done the decent thing and used the net figure of £13 million (source: Report and Accounts 2001). And then there is the proprietorial ‘our’. Well as a shareholder I am in no doubt that all Joe did was spend the extra TV money he earned for us by getting us promoted to the Prem. Turnover was £32.4 million, up from £17.5 million. Had we not got promoted in the first place, there would have been no money to spend, so how could it be ‘our’ money? And £13 million was relative peanuts, which is all that Joe ever had to spend. Fulham have just spent £30 million since promotion and are currently doing worse than we were.

Moving on to the ‘stealth black’ pot. Was this a discarded Monty Python script he was reading from? I quote “Brown, Cooke, Taylor, Russell, Fenton, Kinkladze, Weah et al were all ‘constructively dismissed'”. Overlooking the fact that Cooke is still with us, what does Neil expect? That all players, good bad and indifferent (as per his list) are kept until they are Bosman frees?

Gio was off to Ajax to play Champions’ League football with his best mate Shota Arvaladze before Joe even arrived. Directors made a special short-term loan for Joe to buy Goat, Bish, Jobbo and Pollock. How else was the short term loan to be repaid except by selling Gio at the season end? It was only special pleading from his mentor Franny that stopped him going the year before. And George Weah – a ‘loyal Employee’? Get real Neil, his only loyalty seemed to be to the paymasters of the tabloid back pages.

Is Neil really suggesting that Joe should have stormed the Prem with a team loaded with Brown, Cooke, Taylor, Russell and Fenton? I think we have the measure of the man now. I suppose now he will be calling for Kev’s head because Cookie doesn’t even get to warm the bench (to say nothing of ‘constructively dismissing’ the ‘loyal’ Kennedy).

Football players have contracts and agents, and on the money City pay, enough to spend on good legal advice. When a player is offered a move to another club, he can sit tight and pick up his wages until he gets a Bosman (as Taylor did, and Cooke appears to be doing), or he can invoke the break of contract clause in his contract on leaving. Many transfers (e.g. Paulo’s) get delayed by players waiting for agreed compensation from the selling club. So, don’t go blaming Joe for doing what every other football manager does, buying and selling players, and having to honour contracts drawn up by previous managers. No player, not Taylor, not Clough, not Russell, none of them were contractually hard done by.

Then Neil suggest that Bernstein should study City’s record under Royle. Well this is the one thing that Neil has constantly been refusing to do. When Joe readily accepted a job no one else of any repute wanted, City were deep in debt and were 14 games away from Division 2. He had a squad with Gio and little else, unless you are going to drool over the silky skills of Jim Whitley, Symons (who took a Bosman because we could make him a good enough offer to stay), Russell, Brannan, Bradbury, Vaughan etc. Oh, and he had no money for transfers and accepted that he had to recoup more than he could spend – all the way up to the Premiership.

On leaving, even after getting us relegated, he left us with a squad that the directors (conservatively) value at £40 million, and he left Kev with a pot of £5 million to spend, and a TV parachute payment to pay big wages. Relegation spelt failure Neil, and Joe paid the immediate price for it. But get it into some sort of perspective, and offer credit for the achievements of the preceding seasons. His balance of achievement was heavily positive in a manner that few managers we have had in the last 20 years have achieved.

Asking Joe to sack three of his lieutenants was a pretty reasonable attempt to force him to say I resign, and as such, Bernie paid Joe what he thought he was entitled to as if he had been sacked. On the surface, the dispute is about whether Joe was technically a Premiership manager at the time he was sacked, and if it gets to court, we shall find out the true interpretation.

I don’t think it will get to court, and that with a little bad grace the club will pay up a compromise figure. My reasoning is that we could do without airing the slip of the tongue made by Kev at his first press conference when he revealed he had been tapped up before Joe was sacked. Remember, Bernie said publicly at the time we had no one in the frame.

Subsequent rumours abounded that Tueart, Lee and the JDSport duo approached Kev either in February of even back to the year 2000 after our 6 match losing run. If there is anything in these rumours, then the club is indeed bound to pay Joe as if he was a Premiership manager. And then the highly embarrassing question of how much Bernie knew, and when will have to be asked. Were the effective owners working behind the chairman’s back? If not why did the chairman lie to the press about having no replacement lined up on the day of the sacking?

Remember, we have some ‘form’ here from when Frankie got paranoid about City old boys and got rid of Book and Bell. How upsetting that was to see a City legend get the courts to side with him over unfair dismissal? Did you write a rant about a money grabbing Colin at the time Neil, or is it one rule for Colin and another for Joe?

I respect any employee’s right to challenge his employer’s use of contract in the courts, and I don’t think we should demonise anyone for seeking legal redress for wrongdoing.

For the record, I supported Joe, was sad to see him sacked, but accept the owners had the rights to replace him, as long as they honoured his 12 month old contract in word and deed. I much prefer Kev’s style of play and would not swap back now at all, but the risk in sacking the incumbent was that any new manager may be less adept at getting the existing squad promoted immediately.

I still think that we will get promoted this season, but if we don’t some will point out that sacking the old manager was not such a smart move if we wanted to get back up first time. If we do not go back up, I will not be blaming Kev. Like all managers, he needs time to get things sorted out to the way he wants them (similarly, no real grouse from me when Joe failed to keep us in the 1st with a meagre 14 games to do it in). But I will be highly critical of the board if that failure leads us to have to sell off our best players as the TV parachute payments cease, and players elect not to play another season outside the Premiership.

I wonder who Neil will blame. Oh, of course Stalin taking us to court will have had a destabilising effect on the team.

Martin J Beckett (


I got chatting to a bloke the other day who was on a flight back to England from Paris a week or so ago. And who was sitting in the next row in front of him? None other than our very own Algerian maestro Ali B!

The bloke didn’t get to speak to him much but Ali did tell him he was really happy at City and was thrilled to bits with all the adulation he’s been getting from the fans.

Daniel Marcus (


I was shocked and saddened to hear of Espen’s tragic death. He was a really nice guy and a more committed and gentler Blue you will not find. He was a constant source of information when I was exiled in California and we last met up at the Spurs away game last year… both genuinely thinking we’d have no problems staying up of course, looking forward to saving up and making more games next season.

It would be nice if the TG this year could remember him and his enthusiasm in some significant manner. Our sympathies go out to his and his girlfriend’s families. I’m sure he’ll be missed by many.

Hhuw – carlos fandango and his super blue wheels (


Amazingly, I have to admit that the official City site does mention Alan Black. Maybe his given name was Alan and he preferred to be known as Andy? Maybe he thought that Andy is short for Alan? I watched this player many times and can’t recall ever hearing him referred to as Alan.

A year or two ago I invested £2 in a charity shop on Barry Hugman’s “Canon League Football Players’ Records 1946-84”. In this massive tome only one Black is listed who played for City and that is Andy. Only one Alan Black played for a league club during those years. After a brief spell at Sunderland he moved to Norwich, where he made 171 appearances as a full back, scoring one goal. There is no mention of what instrument he played, but as he was so long in East Anglia I assume it was an alpenhorn.

This reference book is pretty reliable – how many of you knew that one Joe Royle moved from Everton to Manchester U. in 1974? Or that Dennis Tueart went from Sunderland to Manchester U. in the same year, before moving to New York Cosmos, then returning to Manchester C.?

Unless I’ve overlooked it, there is no reference to an Alan Black in Gary James’s “Manchester: the Greatest City”, but he does mention Andy. Now that is a reference book I do have faith in.

David Buxton (


Is this the same Andy Black that had a pub in Gatley, the end of Shadow Moss Lane, where many of us had our first pints? Near the Skyways Caf