Newsletter #54

We have another match report, this time ‘live’ from the Toon game. There’s also plenty of discussion/opinions etc. about managers, players, defence etc. Let’s hope we can regain our scoring ability and terminate our run of defensive errors against the poor opposition on offer at Maine Road tonight. Having re-read my intro to MCIVTA 53 where I seem to have lost faith with BH, my instinct in the cold light of day tells me that we should stick with him at least ’til the end of the season. We can all see the defensive problem areas but what we cannot see are the reasons why BH hasn’t dipped into the transfer market for a decent left and right back. With all the financial problems it may be that BH can’t buy anyone before selling some players. Both Phelan and Quinn seem to be forever on their way but the clinching deal always seems elusive.

There is now a ‘City Live on TV in the UK‘ section on the WWW home page. This is quite an extensive piece of work and required a good deal of research. Thanks go to Paul Howarth who compiled it.

Reports on the Ipswich game welcomed.

Next game Ipswich Town at home, Wednesday 22nd February 1995


Sunday 19th February 1995, FA Cup 5th Round

With a 1:00pm kick-off, it was an early start for those Blues travelling up the A1 to the Premiership’s northernmost club for the third time this season; at least it wasn’t a London trip which would have meant getting up another 90 minutes earlier. After the events in Dublin on Wednesday there was a heavy police presence but thankfully they weren’t called upon to quell any outbursts of hooliganism. The ground looked full although the attendance was about 1,000 less than capacity. I don’t know where the extra spaces were but the Toon army had their suspicions, chanting “you couldn’t sell all your tickets” at us. There were more City fans there than for the Coca-Cola Cup tie, with about 800 seats in the north-east corner and a few thousand standing in the paddock opposite, half of which was allocated to City. I saw no empty seats and both halves of the paddock seemed equally full, so if we didn’t sell all of our tickets, the same must surely have applied to Newcastle.

The home fans were in good voice, significantly louder than either of our previous visits this season and also the league game last season. They treated us to part of their extensive repertoire of songs, including “Blaydon Races”, “E-I-E-I-E-I-O”, “Walking in a Beardsley Wonderland” and “We Hate Sunderland”. The City fans responded sporadically but were no match for their hosts this time.

Most people had been expecting a Newcastle onslaught against a packed City defence, which had been the pattern of our previous two visits this season. However, this was not to be as City came out and attempted to give as good as they got throughout the game. The only team change was Quinn in for the injured Walsh although Bobby Brightwell and Buzzer seemed to have traded places on the right side. With Summerbee playing more as a right-sided midfielder than as a winger, City had more bodies in midfield which effectively stopped us from being overrun in the centre, as has happened so often this season. During the opening period, both sides had about the same amount of possession but Newcastle were more incisive and a number of balls flashed dangerously across City’s six-yard box without City seriously troubling Srnicek.

On 18 minutes disaster struck as Newcastle scored a highly controversial goal. Referee Gerald Ashby waved play on as the linesman flagged that Paul Kitson was several yards offside in the centre of the pitch as the City defence pushed up. Keith Gillespie, running from an onside position on the right flank, sped down the wing but was beaten to the ball by David Brightwell(!); Gillespie then challenged Brightwell from behind, the ball rolling back towards Dibble at the corner of the 6-yard box. Bearing in mind the incident in the derby, Dibble daren’t pick the ball up in case it was adjudged to be a back-pass by Brightwell; however, he didn’t seem to know what to do with the ball and just stood there whilst Gillespie and Brightwell got to their feet. Gillespie charged towards Dibble, who tried to pass the ball to Brightwell who had moved towards the touch- line. Gillespie stuck out a foot and managed to intercept the pass, the rebound looping high over Dibble towards the goal. Gillespie raced after the ball and nodded it in for his first goal for Newcastle, though it would have gone in anyway. There were two issues of controversy here: firstly, the referee overruling the linesman’s offside decision. I belong to the same school of thought as the great Bill Shankly on this issue. He once said “If a player is not interfering with play or seeking to gain an advantage, then he should be.” If the whole back four was pushing up in order to make Kitson offside, how can he not be interfering with play? The new FIFA directives are however, pretty clear on this issue, so I have to admit that the referee was right on this one. It does, however, mean that the classic offside trap, as used by Arsenal for so many years, is no longer a viable defensive strategy since the defence must now catch the player that the ball is actually played to, rather than just the nearest opposition player in order for offside to be given. The second controversial point was Gillespie’s challenge on Brightwell; I’ve seen many far more innocuous challenges punished by yellow cards this season, yet play was once again waved on. Despite these two refereeing decisions though, the blame for this one has to lie squarely with Andy Dibble who had plenty of time to clear the ball upfield and away from danger.

City weren’t going to take this setback lying down and proceeded to win a series of corners through Summerbee and Beagrie, who was looking more like his old self than in recent matches although still prone to beating his man two or three times more than strictly necessary before getting a cross in. Newcastle were well aware of the threat from Beagrie, always backing up Hottiger with another defender whenever he received the ball. Anyway, one of the corners, taken by Beagrie himself, led to City’s equaliser in the 29th minute. Srnicek came for the ball and took it, despite being under pressure from Quinn. However, when he landed he fumbled the ball and it dropped next to Uwe Rösler. Rösler turned sharply and hammered the ball into the roof of the net whilst we waited for the referee to give a foul for a City player being within two yards of the goalkeeper at a corner. Somewhat surprisingly, the goal stood and Uwe celebrated in style, removing his shirt and twirling it above his head whilst running to the City fans in the paddock. As a fan of Italian football courtesy of Channel 4, I’ve seen similar celebrations from Paulo Di Canio (Napoli vs. Milan last season) and Daniel Fonseca (Roma vs. Lazio this season), both of whom were booked for their troubles, whereas Uwe surprisingly wasn’t. As we chanted “Uwe, Uwe Rösler”, the Toon Army retorted “Who is Uwe Rösler?”; they should know since he’s appeared on the score-sheet against them in three different games so far this season!

The balance of play then switched to Newcastle, who scored what turned out to be the decisive second goal five minutes later. Where the first goal was controversial, this was pure fluke. Beresford played a neat one-two with Beardsley (these are extremely difficult to defend against – why don’t we do more of them?) on the edge of the City area and then, without looking up, hit a cross towards the far post where Kitson was lurking. However, Kitson wasn’t needed as the ball dropped just inside the far post to give Beresford his first ever goal for Newcastle. Although I felt like it at the time, I think it’s unfair to blame Dibble for this one; I doubt that any goalkeeper would have kept it out and I don’t think Dibble’s positioning was wrong. Both sides continued to press forward, Beardsley going close with a far post effort but there were no changes to the scoreline in the rest of the first half.

Newcastle began the second half on top, with Gillespie forcing two magnificent saves from Dibble, one of which appeared to have beaten him all ends up but was deflected by his fingertips onto the far post; the ball bounced back across the face of the goal, landing just in front of the near post before spinning out of play. City had what looked from the other end of the ground to be a good penalty appeal turned down after Buzzer was felled by Beresford from behind; referee Ashby showed commendable consistency by waving play on, just as he had done in the first half for Gillespie’s challenge on Brightwell.

We still looked quite capable of getting back into the game until another gross defensive error sealed the game for the Magpies. Beardsley chipped a cross past Dibble and Curle to the far post, where there was only David Brightwell, facing the goal post. It was like watching in slow motion – we could see exactly what was going to happen. As every schoolboy knows, with the ball in front of your own goal and your back to the rest of the field, you clear the ball as quickly as possible, anywhere will do. Whilst Brightwell dithered, Gillespie charged in behind him and flicked the ball in at the near post. I could hardly believe my eyes. We have a clear problem with the left-back position; since Phelan is out of favour and DB isn’t competent, why not give Rae Ingram a try? Surely he can’t be any worse? When Foster came on as sub. for Brightwell shortly after, he looked better even though he’s naturally right-sided. One more thing: will all those people who slated Nicky Summerbee for his o.g. at Southampton (“he should have controlled it first…”) forgive Dave Brightwell for taking his time over this clearance? I think not.

City never recovered from this 3rd goal, though the fans tried their best to rouse them with a few repetitions of “Blue Moon”. The Geordies sang “one song, you’ve only got one song” which isn’t really fair though our repertoire is quite limited these days. The “one song” accusation will be far more pertinent at Newcastle’s next port of call in the FA Cup, Goodison Park. Has anybody ever heard the Everton fans sing anything other than “Everton Everton Everton…”?

The ball spent most of the rest of the game in midfield areas, with neither side looking like scoring. Whenever we managed to get a cross in, Srnicek came to collect it, determined to make up for his earlier error. Quinn was ineffective, though he didn’t really get much service in the way of the sort of crosses we were getting in earlier in the season. He was substituted late on, Adie Mike replacing him. This didn’t make any real difference, although there was one final chance for Flitcroft, who finished in much the same way as he did with a similar chance at Palace, virtually passing the ball back to the ‘keeper. It capped a poor game for Flitcroft, who had struggled to find a blue shirt with a pass all day. His midfield partner, Gaudino, did better but didn’t try anything particularly creative, usually just giving a short pass to the nearest City player. We need to get more players into the box (like United :-() if we are going to cure our goalscoring problems. As it stands, any loose balls in the opponents’ penalty areas usually end up being cleared (today was a rare exception). At the back, the full-backs struggled but to be fair, they were up against very good wingers in Gillespie and Fox. The central defenders, Curle and Kernaghan, played well but Dave Brightwell and Andy Dibble will both want to forget this game in a hurry.

We were kept back for five minutes after the game whilst the stadium cleared; during this time I heard no chants for Horton’s head. Either nobody cares or BH still has the support of most City fans, myself included.

Final Score: Newcastle 3 City 1
A fair result despite the controversy.

Paul Howarth


The major change is the inclusion of Terry Phelan at left-back to replace the injured David Brightwell. Also possibilities for a recall are Walsh and TC. However, this depends on the fitness of the players. BH is apparently worried that Walsh could aggravate his injury tonight and so miss the Leeds game, which could mean three players out (Rösler and Beagrie will be suspended). Other than these, the squad is much the same as usual:

Coton (or Dibble), Ian B, Curle, Kernaghan, Phelan, (from) Summerbee, Gaudino, Flitcroft, Walsh, Beagrie, Rösler, Quinn, Hill, Mike, Vonk, Burridge

Martin Ford


City just seem to lurch from one crisis to another. David B picked up a groin strain in the FA Cup defeat at Newcastle and he’ll most probably be ruled out of the Ipswich gane. Also very doubtful are TC and Walsh; their injuries aren’t recovering as fast as expected.

As mentioned in an earlier message, City will be without the services of Beagrie and Rösler for the Leeds and Norwich games due to suspensions. That’s not all: Flipper looks like he’s banned for two games and Foster will also start a two match ban as well (I’m not sure which games they’ll miss). How can City be expected to work as a unit when they suffer like this?

Now onto BH; it looks like he’s been given the official backing of the board. I would suspect that he’s going to get a few games at the most and if City’s position doesn’t improve drastically he’ll be fired. So who would replace him? One name mentioned in the Today newspaper is Joe Kinnear, Wimbledon’s manager!! Not as daft as it sounds; Wimbledon have undergone a change. They have become a more cultured side and don’t rely on the Route One football that has become their trademark. Kinnear’s only on a six month contract which is up for renewal soon and so would cost somewhere between 60/70 K (would that suit Lee’s bank balance?) to buy out. Also, he’s been having run-ins with Sam Hamman and feels restricted at having to sell his best players to keep the club going (he’ll feel right at home at the Academy then!!). So what does everybody think of that?

Whatever, I still feel sorry for Horton; his neck has been on the line ever since Lee became chairman. He’s always tried to keep the team going and ignore the background problems at Maine Road. He’s tried not to transmit the pressure on him to the team. Unfortunately for him, he’s made some real tactical howlers in big games that City have lost. I just feel he should be given until the end of the season before any decisions are made. Changing manager this late into the season isn’t going to do anybody any good. We need stability, especially when facing the prospect of a relegation battle.

Martin Ford


Youth Team Victory

The Youth team progressed to the next round of the FA Youth Cup with a 3-2 victory at Coventry. The team has got behind with the fixtures so I don’t know if there is another game to play before the semi final where the rags provide the opposition. Youth team coach Neil McNab reckons he has 2 youth team players who could play in the first team now and six more who will make the grade.

Roger Haigh

The latest issue of FourFourTwo has McNab down as a Darlington player! How long has he been youth team coach? [Ashley]


Rösler – did his Grandad bomb OT?

Ask the man himself at the Rochdale ISA branch meeting on 13th March. Venue is the Castle Hotel. Email me for directions.

Roger Haigh


George Graham has officially been sacked (21st Feb). How long before his enterprising style of management is linked to City? Sigh….

Adam Joinson


Apparently George Graham has been given the chop by Arsenal; he has had his contract terminated as of this morning. No more details known as yet (but please God, don’t let him come to Maine Road 🙂

Jeremy Poynton or

Also from John Shearer & Roger Davies


Like most, I’ve heard the name of Mick McCarthy being tossed around as a possible successor to BH (if, of course, he goes), but today I read of Joe Kinnear being another candidate for the job. It’s hard to see him leaving The Dons, but I think he’d be one of the best men for the job. Either way, City can’t go wrong; they’re both former Irish Internationals!

Shane Kelly


> Total      Feb 18, 1995                                  G-Diff
> ---------------------------------------------------------------
> Leeds           26    10   9   7    34  -  28    39       +6
> Sheffield_W     29    10   9  10    38  -  37    39       +1
> Aston_Villa     29     9  10  10    41  -  38    37       +3
> Wimbledon       27    10   6  11    32  -  47    36       -15
> Norwich         27     9   8  10    27  -  31    35       -4
> Arsenal         28     8  10  10    31  -  32    34       -1
> Coventry        29     8  10  11    29  -  45    34       -16
> Chelsea         27     8   9  10    35  -  38    33       -3
> Manchester_C    27     8   8  11    35  -  44    32       -9***
> Southampton     27     6  13   8    39  -  44    31       -5
> Queen's_PR      26     8   7  11    39  -  45    31       -6
> Everton         27     7  10  10    29  -  36    31       -7
> ---------------------------------------------------
> Crystal_Palace  28     7   9  12    21  -  28    30       -7
> West_Ham        28     8   5  15    26  -  37    29       -11
> Ipswich         27     5   5  17    29  -  55    20       -26
> Leicester       27     4   7  16    25  -  46    19       -21

If you haven’t already noticed, City’s fight against relegation will be a really nasty one this time. We are currently only 2 points away from the relegation zone. Notwithstanding Ipswich and Leicester, who are almost relegation certainties, our goal-difference is only better than that of Wimbledon, Coventry – who are ahead of us in terms of points – and West Ham, 3 points adrift. Coupled with our unenviable ‘home-stretch’ with matches against Newcastle, Forest etc., we need to get some results now to have a real chance in the relegation battle.

For a start, the forthcoming matches against Ipswich and Wimbledon are important ‘six-pointers’ which we can’t afford to lose. In my opinion, if BH can’t provide us with much needed wins in these matches, he will have to leave. However, the bigger problem is finding a proper replacement. How about George Graham? Never mind his transfer scandals. He is at least an established manager who, I think, can attract first class players as well as investors into the team. I have all along been a supporter of BH because I think we need some continuity which has been lacking in this department for some years now. He too has introduced a more interesting team with the current crop of players. However, what’s more important is his lack of tactical knowledge. Sad as I am, I think he will have to start delivering the goods now or leave.

Hopefully TC will return soon (and repay his sins in the Southampton match).
Curle has been solid in the last two matches. Hopefully hewill keep that up. So too has Kernaghan, but Ian B has to improve.
OK but have to start playing as a team.
Other than Rösler, they can’t find their scoring boots yet.How are Grifiths and Mike performing in the reserves team?

However, all is not yet lost. Remember there are still 15 games to go. C’mon City.



Roger Haigh wrote in MCIVTA 52:

> As far as I know, Bob as applied to Ian Brightwell is a reference
> to his father Robbie rather than to the bald headed rag.
> David Brightwell should be greatful no-one has picked up on the
> Anne Packer (Mrs B) connection! How many wingers would be worried
> by a full back called Annie?

And how many wingers are worried by David Brightwell ? Unfortunately I think he will soon lose his bottle anywhere on the field if he has to stay at left back much longer. And Dibs? Well, I think TC in a wheelchair would have done better last Sunday.

Jeremy Poynton or


Re James’ comments about the apparent Horton/Lomas rift in MCIVTA 53: I heard that the club had agreed a new contract with Steve but at the last minute, his agent demanded that his wages be doubled! I also heard that if it wasn’t for Horton, Lomas wouldn’t even be at the club any more. The first call BH received from another manager upon taking the City job was from John Beck, the then Preston manager, who asked if the deal to take Lomas plus some cash to Preston in exchange for one of their players was still on. It wasn’t. Seems like there are two sides to every story. Re the quip about him playing for England if he moved on – this would surely be tricky for a current Northern Ireland international?

Philip suggested that losing in the FA Cup was worse than losing the derby. I beg to differ! At least we went out to a good side this season (e.g. not Cardiff, Shrewsbury, Halifax etc. etc.); you want to try living and working amongst a sea of rags before making such comments! An overseas coach was also suggested; I recall Aston Villa trying this a few seasons back with Josef Venglos and that was hardly a resounding success. Not a large statistical sample admittedly but I’m in favour of sticking with BH for the rest of this season at least.

Oh yes, does anybody know where I could get one of those Uwe Rösler duvet covers that James mentioned? (sorry Steve!)

Paul Howarth


Apart from the obvious teams such as Newport County, Aldershot, Maidstone, etc. would anyone equate the name of ‘Dukla Prague’ with failure and oblivion? Possibly not, but read on.

Just when you think things could not get worse – defeat at the hands of the Rags (again), out of the Cup and suffering from refs’ decisions worse than those of George Courtney (anyone remember him?), utter blackness and despair – and that no-one could possibly suffer the way we Blues have, then think on…

I listened to an interesting(!) report on that once mighty of mighty Czech football teams, Dukla Prague, who are now rapidly heading towards the Czech 4th division and oblivion. Before the early nineties and in the days of the hard-fist of communist control in eastern Europe, Dukla Prague ruled the roost in Czech football. In those days, being an army team, they could count on huge state subsidies and 30,000 capacity crowds. I certainly remember them as a kid, and they figured prominently in our subbuteo European Cup (didn’t they defeat the Rags in European competition some time?).

However, after being king kiddies for so long, they were one of the few eastern European teams that suffered when liberty and democracy hit the Warsaw pact countries big time. When the old Czechoslovakia split into the 2 Slovak and Czech Republics, Dukla became members of the new Czech National League, and this was the start of their journey on the slippery slope of financial and football ruin. No longer could they count on the over-generous handouts from the government and their support quickly dwindled as new teams sprang up almost overnight. They were immediately relegated in their first season to the Czech 2nd division and were again automatically relegated the following season since they couldn’t afford to pay wages and therefore play games, etc. In Czech football, there is a vast difference between the 2nd and 3rd divisions (almost like comparing our Endsleigh 1st Division with the Konica League of Wales), and so it looks as if the sun is going to set on probably the most successful team in Czech history. They now play to attendances counted in the hundreds, not the thousands, mainly consisting of old army officers and pensioners and it is only a matter of time before the inevitable happens.

So, when you’re suffering in the black pit of depression on a Sunday or Thursday morning, and it seems as though a scoffing Rag populace looks on with disdain and laughter, remember… there’s always someone worse off than you (unless you’re a Dukla Prague supporter!)

Ian Thompson


Didn’t Brian Horton say that if it wasn’t for him, Lomas wouldn’t be at Maine Road? Apparently Peter Reid had arranged to sell Lomas to Preston just before he got the bullet.

I believe he did [Ashley]

Roger Haigh


Thanks to Martin, Adam, Paul, Jeremy, Ian, John, Roger (x2), Shane & Nizam.
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.

Ashley Birch

Newsletter #54