Newsletter #33

I haven’t been able to get any match reports regarding the last two games against Blackburn and Liverpool. If anyone would like to write one I’d be happy to include it in the next MCIVTA/WWW. It was two defeats anyway ๐Ÿ™

This issue consists of James’ meeting with Niall Quinn, my own story of why I’m a Blue, and little else. It seems as if most subscribers don’t have access to the Internet during the holidays.


From: James Nash

I recently joined the Leamington Spa branch of the Independent Supporters’ Club, which was only formed a few months ago and is now something like 50 strong. Our catchement area seems to stretch from Birmingham to Leicester with the majority coming from Coventry or Leamington itself. So far, we’ve just held social meetings (I already covered one quite a few MCIVTAs ago) but there are vague plans to organise transport to games. Quick plug: if anyone from the Midlands fancies joining, e-mail me at and I’ll get you in touch with the president, Paul.

Normally we meet in a pub on the Radford Road but on Tuesday 13th December we were in the St. Patricks Club in Leamington for a special occasion. Our guest of honour, suitably for the venue, was City’s own Eire international and giant of a frontman, Niall Quinn. This meeting had been re-arranged twice due to worries about Niall travelling when he has an injury but it was third time lucky as the man himself turned up and only a few minutes late. He stayed for two and a half hours before being presented with an engraved gift and driving back to Manchester.

The format of the evening was simple with two question and answer sessions separated by a break for some buffet food and the requisite photos and autograph requests. With most soccer players, you might expect a stand-offish attitude, even arrogance at times but Niall Quinn is a totally different kettle of fish. I’m not exaggerating when I say he was intelligent, articulate, honest and witty. He also has some strong views on the game and is prepared to air them in a logical and calm manner.

Niall started by apologising for Paul Lake being unable to come down with him. We had invited Paul along with Niall and he was pleasantly surprised to receive the request – the first of this kind he has had – but Paul is training almost seven days a week with the Brightwells’ father. He is still unsure of whether he will make the comeback or not because his cruciate ligaments have taken so many knocks, he now has to really build up strength in his legs until he has muscles that would grace Arnold Schwarzeneggar. Should it go again, that’s that. Paul has had to learn how to walk again three times and that would break many a lesser person; the belief of his friends and the fans has helped him enormously.

On his own cruciate injury, Niall had found it was very much left up to himself to get fit after the operation, which had been done without notifying the club. Fellow sufferer Alan Shearer and some American experts had recommended a surgeon in Cambridge so Niall went there for an examination one night at 5PM and the surgeon said “Right, we’ll operate at 8AM tomorrow”. Niall wasn’t too popular for a while but now they admit it was probably the best thing he could have done. On the same subject, he went on to bemoan the general standard of phsyio facilities and personnel at all clubs in England, saying the mentality seemed to have got stuck in the ’70s and compared to the American football clubs, we were still in the dark ages. However he did think City were one of the best of a bad bunch. [Niall revealed that he is carrying a small hamstring injury at the moment. I missed the opportunity to ask why everyone at City gets the same injury.]

The discussion moved into a general chat about the current City team, Horton’s tactics and Niall’s thoughts on the matter. We all agreed that there had been a huge improvement in the year or so that Horton has been in charge. Some astute buys coupled with the new regime had made Maine Road a fun place to be once more. Niall espoused the view that we can succeed with our new attacking style at home against weaker opposition but not with quality teams like Arsenal and, to be honest, United. Once they have closed down our wingers, we need a top class midfield player, maybe a ‘bruiser’ (someone suggested David Batty), to get in there, win the ball and make some space. Basically, City need more attacking options than the wingers or the hoof upfield.

A fair few people were criticising Brian Horton’s tactics, especially on the two recent Sky defeats and Niall was very diplomatic in defending BH whilst giving his own tactical view. He gave us a nice insight into the dressing room after the 5-0 disaster, saying that there was a very intense atmosphere amongst the players and it took a couple of days for everything to settle down and people to be able to approach things rationally. It seems Horton is now more enamoured with Niall’s point of view but doesn’t yet want to fiddle with a winning formula, so soon after introducing it.

Therein lies the crux; my opinion is that BH is learning Premiership management bit by bit and he will get it right in time. At the same time City are re-learning how to play good football and that makes for a hugely promising partnership. If, say, by the end of next season he is still making basic tactical errors then we might want to part company. Us fans need to be a bit more patient and realise that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Any talk of replacing BH is plain silly; the last thing anyone wants is a return to the bad old days of instability. Fair and constructive criticism is one thing but constant sniping really annoys the players and the manager.

On individual players, past and present, Niall was quite forthcoming and showed insight into both their personalities and abilities. Without attempting to quote him, the way I read his comments were: Garry Fltcroft needs to lose his stage fright on the big occasions, Steve Lomas needs to physically fill out a bit as he is still a young lad and Nicky Summerbee should never be played in the middle. The defence could be better. Keith Curle is top class but shouldn’t be rushed back from injury. We’re unlikely to see Vonk much except to fill up the squad numbers and Phelan’s rift with BH is simmering but mendable.

I asked Niall whether he felt “narked” at the more than favourable reception Uwe Rösler has been getting recently and he replied that, far from it, the one who is the fans’ favourite often gets it in the back in the dressing room; normally from the players who aren’t so popular! Niall said he prefers Paul Walsh to be playing alongside him with Uwe taking the link rôle to midfield although it does no harm for the two to swap around if the defence gets on top. He missed the speed of David White although he and Adrian Heath often had to tell Whitey to slow down and delay his crosses! Rocastle’s departure had been a great shock and it was literally a snap decision by Rocky once he heard Chelsea were interested. One possible reason suggested was his being played out on the right by Horton against his wishes.

As for United players, Niall admits to being big friends with Dennis Irwin but doesn’t have much time for some of the others, especially a certain big-mouthed individual. ๐Ÿ™‚ Irwin, of course, is often in the Eire squad with him and Niall was full of admiration for Jack Charlton and the spirit he engenders. He told of the one time Big Jack decided the squad should start watching videos of games, something normally avoided. Fifteen minutes in, he said to Dennis Irwin “What do you think of this then?”. No reply. Irwin was fast asleep and Charlton sent the lot of them packing… to the bar!

Niall specifically stated that he had no plans to get into managership, at least not while the current FA coaching system is in place. He doesn’t want to have to teach kids things he doesn’t believe. As an example he quoted one session Steve McMahon had been to before he got his badge and left for Swindon. The coaches ran a video of a Holland goal involving 17 passes, stopped it and put a big ‘X’ on the screen saying “Not the way to do it. No more than two passes in your own half.” etc. Unbelievable stuff and quite rightly, Niall wants nothing to do with that, citing Charlie Hughes as the scourge of the modern game, with his status as guru of the long-ball game. On the good side, he reckons this year’s Premiership is shaping up to the best for a while. Unless United win it, of course. ๐Ÿ™‚

Niall and his wife would rather retire, when the time comes, to an Irish farm to look after ex-racing horses. I think that is a real shame (for football) as he looks a good assessor of character and definitely has a football brain; unfortunately I can only agree with his views on the modern game. As for staying at the club, he wants to finish his career at Maine Road and would only go if the manager makes it clear he has to.

Other various stuff:

  • Doesn’t really want a media career despite enjoying the World Cup with Irish TV.
  • Away fans being brilliant. Most players are really missing theKippax but wishing some of the Main Stand would stop theirmutterings.
  • Swales visited the dressing room about once in 20 years whereas Leeis in there every match. Lee and Horton working together well. Newregime a godsend compared to the old one.
  • Game at Newcastle in CCC is of huge importance and he wants Hortonto really hype the players up for it.
  • Liked training with the kids at Arsenal, not for brownie points butbecause it was the only chance he got to try out his tricks!

A few handshakes, poses with the Irish Club staff, another mineral water and he was on his way back up the M6. There was much more of interest which I have forgotten but I didn’t want to act journalistically and take notes so I hope I’ve done justice to what he said. Three cheers for Niall Quinn for taking the trouble to come and see us. It was fantastic to see a player who remains open and honest and hasn’t let all the fame and fortune go to his head (that part of his anatomy’s for scoring goals) – a true rôle model.

James Nash


From: Svenn Hanssen

I got my first City-outfit as a Christmas presant when I was 6 years old. This was in the 70ies, the shirt was white with one diagonal blue and red bar, and City was a quality side. A couple of years later they won the League Cup and finished 2nd in the league. It was no doubt about which side I was on.

Living in the northern parts of Norway means you are let over to whatever the newspapers have to say. Those days (as today) it seemed as if it was either United or Liverpool on the pages. Also most of my friends were supporting the two reds. I didn’t care much however. It was always City on my mind.

I have to admit having a real down-period in the mid 80ies, but that turned when I watched City live on two occations. Although none of the games was anything to write home about, especially the game against Tromsø was awful, meeting the players was great. One special moment occurred after the game in Sweden: All the players were busy writing autographs and Tony Book walked towards the dressing room. It looked as if nobody knew who he was, so me and a friend of mine approached him and I asked if he could sign the back of my T-shirt with a big drawing pen. He looked kind of puzzled, and I think he even was a bit touched by that, as none of the players had written on it. I also remember Niall Quinn taking his time and Colin Hendry giving the fans what they wanted.

I once promised myself that if City finished the season in a higher position than United, I’d join the Scandinavian Branch of the Supporters’ Club. In 1991 they did and I kept my promise. In November 1992 I visited Maine Road for the first time, with some of the other members. It was an experience of a lifetime. We watched the training, met Noel Bayley at the “Nelson Inn” on Friday and sang City songs all night. Standing on the Kippax was truly an amazing experience. Every time City scored we were rushed 15 yards down the stand and up again in one big movement. City scored 4 goals that afternoon, beating Leeds 4-0. I remember Kippax chanting “Niall, Niall give us a wink”, until Niall Quinn turned against the stand and raised both hands. I also remember less prettier things being sung about Strachan and Cantona… It sure was wonderful to be Blue that night. Someone even said that the Leeds supporters sang “We are Sheep” when they left the stadium.

This Christmas I made something special for my nephew, who I know has “inherited” some of my love for City (I also have a father and a sister with a catch for the Blues). I made him choose between a present and 200kr (about 20 pounds), saying that if he really was a City-fan he should choose the present, and if not, the money would make him much happier. Well he chose the present, which contained the City kit I bought in 1992. And after he had opened it, I gave him the money too, just for beeing a true City supporter.

Svenn Hanssen


From: James Nash

> From: Paul Howarth
> James' letter plugging MCIVTA and the WWW has appeared in King of the 
> Kippax (KK42), available from 17th December:

This has actually been cut down from the original, hence the WWW URL getting mis-named as an e-mail address. Otherwise, it’s been edited very well.

James Nash


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.

HREF=””>Svenn Hanssen

Newsletter #33