Seems we had a rather lacklustre finish to the season to say the least. It’s now time for a period of assessment and hopefully renewal; indeed Frannie has already gone on record as saying that there will be a lot of comings and goings at Maine Road this summer.
We will close the polls for ‘Manager’, ‘Player of the Year’ and ‘Young Player of the Year’ at the end of this week so the next few days will be your last chance to vote. I will sum up the results for inclusion in MCIVTA next week.
STOP PRESS… BH HAS BEEN SACKED
This means MCIVTA has been somewhat overtaken by events. Remember that the ‘News’ section is chronological rather than in order of significance so read on…
MATCH REPORT ‘LIVE’
MANCHESTER CITY vs. QUEENS PARK RANGERS, Sunday 14th May 1995
My apologies for missing you all on Sunday but I had tickets for the Joe Mercer suite which includes a pre-match dinner. All last week I had promised Lynne to take her and Adam (age 5, a United fan) down to the game. On Friday morning I went to Maine Road to buy tickets only to be told that there were no three seats together and so reluctantly I bought 2 tickets for the North Stand near the bottom – not the best place. I then went back to the office to find a message waiting for me from an insurance company: “Do I want to be their guest at Maine Road with slap up lunch etc.” Well what would you do? I had to accept even though it was only for myself.
The next problem was selling the tickets I had already bought. I first offered them to my boss who said he would make a couple of phone calls and let me know. Unfortunately he was called out on an urgent appointment, so off I went, back down to Maine Road to try to flog the tickets. This I found very easy to do as there were lots of people milling around. Next problem, how to explain to Lynne. I got home to tell her the bad news that it was practically sold out, showing as proof, an article in the Evening News. I then told her my good news. I was going. Everything was fine until we went to the shops and, on our return, listened to a message on the answering machine from my boss “Yes Kevin I will buy those tickets off you, although you have probably sold them by now.” As I have said before, I get away with nothing. Lynne went apeshit.
Sunday morning, the phone rings. It is my host for the day, mentioning that another of the guests has gone down ill. Do I know of anyone who would like to go at short notice? Oh talk about building up Brownie points. I bit his hand off. To make things better, he then hinted that he would rather be playing golf than watching City. So that was it, I got a ticket for Adam. Was it worth all the hassle? This was the worst game I had seen all season with City playing with a total lack of commitment. Rangers also had nothing to play for but pride, but were clearly the more dominant team.
I am sorry, it may be sentimental, Burridge playing at his ripe old age but he is crap. One time, Ferdinand was running through the middle sheparded by Curle, and he came racing off his line for no reason at all. Fortunately the chip went over the bar. The first goal could not be blamed on Burridge; he passed the ball to Curle who let it slip under his foot and gave possession away. City’s first goal was scored by Quinn, who controlled the ball in the penalty area with his back to goal and swivelled nicely to put the ball in the back of the net. In the 2nd half Gaudinio fell to the floor and Curle scored with the resulting penalty at the second attempt. All Rangers’ goals were scored as a result of defensive mistakes, Kernaghan having a nightmare. We did not wait for the final whistle but went back to the Joe Mercer suite to watch Blackburn on TV. Can anyone tell me if the City players were cheeky enough to do a lap of honour after the match, and if so, how was the reception? Thinking about it, I feel it was right City finishing the season the way they did. Over the last few weeks we had been led into a false sense of security. City had played out of their skin in 2 games. Next season we have 38 matches. They said on the TV that league tables don’t lie. City finished 6th from the bottom. Assuming one of the promoted teams goes back down, that leaves 3 other places. We have got big problems with that squad. Yesterday, technically, tactically and commitment wise, we were inferior to QPR. The only player I can absolve from criticism was Garry Flitcroft. Anyway, Adam was happy because the Power Rangers had won.
NEWS – HORTON I
I heard on the radio this morning (Tuesday) that there were “unconfirmed reports” that Brian Horton has been sacked.
NEWS – HORTON II
Radio 4 16/5/95: In an interview this morning with Paul Hince, Manchester Evening News sports journalist, Paul Hince said that when he spoke to Brian Horton on Sunday evening, he still had a job and had not been sacked despite what the papers were saying. Paul Hince’s own opinion, however, is that MCFC will have a new manager for next season.
NEWS – HORTON III
According to Radio One news this morning, Horton’s job is ‘in jeopardy’. Meanwhile, according to Kiss 102, he’s already been sacked, and will be gone by the end of the week.
Many United ‘fans’ seem to have crawled back from where they came from. Being the only Blue in a department of at least 10 vocal (but not to the extent of actually going to games) Reds, I have to put up with a lot of stick. Anyway, none of my colleagues seemed to want to comment on the weekend’s events, and when I mentioned it, it appears that most of them are actually ‘really’ supporters of 2nd or 3rd division teams. No doubt if they win the FA Cup they will revert back to their usual arrogant selves.
HORTON – IV
The Guardian headline is “Mystery over Horton’s Fate”, and there was a similar story on R5’s sports news last night. We thought it had been announced on Sunday that he was staying?
The Guardian says tha FL was unavailable for comment on a report that BH had already been dismissed. BH was also unavailable, being “away at a meeting”. The report also says that Mick McCarthy (surely another Peter Reid?), Dave Bassett (and another one) and Bruce Rioch (yes please) are likely candidates to replace BH who has 1 year of a 3 year contract left to run, it also says he can expect compensation; what a surprise!
NEWS – HORTON V
It has been reported in The Sun (that fine, upstanding newspaper!) that Horton has been sacked. He was apparently told to go after the defeat by QPR on Sunday, and did not turn up at the dinner for the players that evening. Rioch, McCarthy and Bassett are being tipped for the job.
NEWS – MANAGERIAL MERRY-GO-ROUND
Alan Smith and Crystal Palace have parted company “by mutual consent”, following a series of bust-ups between Smith and chairman Ron Noades and of course the club’s relegation into the Endsleigh League after one season in the Premiership.
The end of the season has brought renewed speculation about Brian Horton’s future at the club, with even “The Big Breakfast” news including a piece on him. An article in the MUEN last night said that most of the board wanted him out and that only Lee was keeping him in a job now. Radio reports in Manchester this morning suggest that he may already have been told he’s going (a few hours after the QPR game). The club are denying the rumours but watch our for further developments.
NEWS – MORE HORTON!
Bernard Halford has denied the speculation about Brian Horton being sacked; Lee is in a meeting with the club’s bankers and Horton is on his way back from a League Managers’ meeting in St. Albans, so neither are available for comment at present. It is believed that BH wants a meeting with Lee to clarify his position.
NEWS – MORE HORTON!
I see that Radio 5 Live ran as their headline on the sportsdesk that Brian Horton is reported as being sacked by Manchester City. City deny the rumours but Horton has gone to meet Franny Lee to find out the truth, whereas Lee has said he is going to discuss Horton’s future today with the board. The rumours were further emphasised as City are again linked to Dave Bassett at Sheffield United, due to his ability to run a club successfully on a tight budget.
Is the end nearer for BH? We wait with baited breath.
NEWS – MORE HORTON!
The word on the street here in sunny Manchester today is that Brian Horton is almost certainly going to go. The big news could be that Dave Bassett (Sheffield United) is being lined up as his succesor. Apparently Franny Lee has been impressed with his track record! I must admit that this possibilty (to me) is quite frightening, as Mr. Bassett is not exactly famous for his exciting, attacking style of football. Is he the man who will bring back the long awaited glory days to the academy of footballing excellence? Can’t see it myself.
NEWS – MORE HORTON!
The Sun reckons Horton’s gone already because he wasn’t at an end of season dinner according to them. Howaever, this morning on TV and Radio it was said to be speculation and nothing official at the moment. Who the flip is going to replace him? Alan Smith, Steve Coppell, Mick McCarthy, Bruce Rioch? Behave!
NEWS – BH SACKED
He went straight to Lee’s house on returning from St. Albans and was told the news. There will be a press conference at 2:00pm.
Martin Ford (MFORD@fs1.li.umist.ac.uk)
NEWS – RAGS WIN CUP!
Manchester United lifted the FA Youth Cup last night in front of a crowd of 20,000 at Old Trafford. Trailing 2-1 from the first leg, they got a late goal that took the final into extra time and went on to win on penalties.
BRIAN HORTON OUT!
These were the words inprinted on my mind after Sunday’s performance. City lacked an edge, Gaudino and Summerbee seemed disinterested, Quinn and Kernaghan both had awful games and the defence was up to its usual standard of ineptness. I took my mother along, her first visit to Maine Road. She described the atmosphere as non-existent (“I thought it would be louder than that”) and the game as awful (from a City point of view). Quinn, though loyal and City through and through (the only player bar Rösler to do a full lap of honour), was appalling. He couldn’t run and he was often found sitting on the floor looking for free-kicks. This is not the Quinn I remember of old!
Kernaghan, for so long a ‘boo-boy’ target, had had a good season but decided that he was going to make sure QPR got 3 points (all three goals involved mistakes made by Alan). Gaudino seemed happy to walk around all day and until he got a penalty, he contributed little to the game. Summerbee was the same, especially as he didn’t seem to have the pace he had at Swindon. GMR reported before and after the game that BH was more than likely to be City manager next season. The papers today (Daily Mirror, The Sun [yes I know I critised it over the Coton incident], The Telegraph and probably others) all thought Horton was on his way out. It is interesting to note that the board is split over Horton i.e. Lee vs. the rest! I sat in the bar with Kevin Mutch today and we talked about City’s highlights; we came up with three! Blackburn (2-3), Spurs (5-2) and Newcastle (0-2). If FL and BH are true to their word, then this season is as bad if not worse than last season. We need new management. I have been patient but the time has come for a change.
NB A word of warning; it might not be BH who is wrong – it might well be FL!
PS Glad we’re not in the Intertoto cup, at least someone’s got some sense at the club.
An angry Jim (If anyone would like to discuss the points I raised, I am willing to answer anyone’s mailing).
I for one would like to offer my congratulations to Blackburn on winning the Championship. Thank God the best team won, and more thanks that we won’t have to listen to the Rags going on and on and on…
It was close for a while and for a few dreadful moments I thought the red B*****ds had sneaked it, but thankfully the Championship went to a good team, who by all accounts have a great local support. Well done again. Now Franny, let’s spend some money and see if we can do it next season! Well try anyway.
A FEW REFLECTIONS ON SUNDAY
The performance against QPR was one of the most insipid home performances of the season. The team played with an unacceptable degree of skill, guile and perhaps most surprisingly heart. Considering some players are surely playing for their Maine Road futures, this was very disappointing. Gaudino strolled through the match and appears possibly to have slowed down rather then speeded up since his arrival. Burridge was a joke again; what is the point of paying MM as third keeper if he’s kept out by an old bloke who’s cost us 2 goals in 2 games? It pains me to say that Summerbee really doesn’t seem to have the skill/confidence necessary to play at the moment. I don’t agree with the crowd getting on his back but there is a real problem if a winger can’t beat people with either pace (White) or skill (Beagrie), or preferably both. His rapid disappearance down the tunnel at the final whistle might even mean a summer departure IMHO.
Quinn scored a very good goal but too many of his flicks and lay-offs were responsible for an immediate loss of possession. Flitcroft looked class again, as did Curle, and Uwe gets better and better. Walsh is not particularly happy on the left but gave his all as usual. Sadly, just as Alan Kernaghan seemed to be on the road to talent, he gifted them their second goal.
Lee said on local radio on Sunday that a lot of players would be leaving and coming in over the summer, and I think that is hopeful. Then again, I’ll believe it when I see it. The highlights of the day were having the Kippax back and Uwe’s disappearance into the crowd at the end, only to re-emerge a few minutes later minus his shirt.
On another negative note, I can’t help feeling that we should have concentrated more on our match than events at Anfield and Upton Park. I am of course delighted that United lost the title and that Reds I know will have had to take a day off work today (rather than us after a derby hammering), but I resent our happiness at the end of the season being defined by the failures of another team and I certainly don’t want to be chanting the names of players of other teams. Match of The Day may have been a joyous programme to watch on Sunday, but let’s not ignore the fact that we finished sixth from bottom, below giants of the Premiership such as QPR, Southampton, Coventry and Wimbledon.
I don’t want to sound too negative, after all the season ticket is renewed and I am sure that everything will seem possible come August. I just hope it will still seem possible by December.
Thank goodness West Ham held out against the Rags. How ironic that they had a “blatant” penalty disallowed after the farce of a penalty on Wednesday. I was surprised to read that Paul Danson’s ancestors are from Sale; I thought they must be Malaysian (with due apologies to our Malaysian reader(s)).
Paddy Crerand (is that the Scottish spelling for Cretin?) was reported as “angrily arguing that the Rags were the best team in the League” on GMR. I suppose he couldn’t understand why the referee didn’t allow half an hour injury time. It’s one eyed morons like him which have turned the rest of football against United and they will find it difficult to recover. I deny any charge of bias by stating that I don’t care who beats United!
EUROPEAN CUP WINNERS’ MEDALS
During the years I lived in Oz my parents always sent me a Rothman’s Football Annual as a Christmas present. It saved them having to think about what to buy and helped me keep in touch with football in the UK. I have had to resort to those books to try to work out the answer to this question.
Winning teams, according to the book, are as follows:
Rags 1968 Brian Kidd played
Nottm F 1979 Trevor Francis and Ian Bowyer played
Nottm F 1980 Martin O'Neill and Ian Bowyer played
Liverpool 1981 David Johnson played
Villa 1982 Ken McNaught played
Liverpool 1984 Mick Robinson came on as a sub.
Losing Finalists were:
Liverpool 1985 Paul Walsh played
Unfortunately the records only show subs who played. Even in the early days, subs for European games were two from five and presumably all five got medals.
The list above identifies seven winners, so who is the eighth?
Among suggestions made are:
- Colin Barrett
- He was certainly at Nottm F for both seasons they won the Cup. Possibly a sub.
- Stan Bowles
- Another sub? He had one season at Nottm F and was there when they won their second final. Bowles and Clough sounds an interesting combination!
- Sammy MacIlroy
- Born 2.8.54 and so was too young for the ’68 final.
- John Gidman
- Left Villa 18/10/79, so missed the ’82 Final by a country mile.
- Frank Carrodus
- Last record I can find is for season 78/79 with Villa. No recorded matches after 18/10/78.
- Steve MacMahon
- Joined Villa in May ’83. Missed Villa’s Final and isn’t listed in any Liverpool teams. He is listed as a Villa player at the start of the 85/86 season so wasn’t a Liverpool sub.
Steve Heighway isn’t listed as having been a City first team player in any of the record books or handbooks. I thought he had some connection with City and Bill Chapman’s comments reinforce the thought.
Kaziu Deyna never played in a European final.
Alfons Groenendijk won a UEFA Cup winners’ medal with Ajax. God knows how.
I suppose the next step is to contact the Nottm F list and ask who the subs were in the two finals they won.
OPINION – KERNAGHAN
I must admit when Kernaghan came from Middlesbrough for 1.7 million I wasn’t exactly filled with confidence. Although he’d good write ups about his performances at Ayresome Park, I thought the price tag was far too much for a first division player; it certainly seemed like an act of a desperate manager. My initial fears were certainly confirmed by Kernaghan’s apparent lack of ability; he didn’t seem to be tactically aware, he was prone to school boy errors (hence my nickname for him – SB) and he was generally playing awfully. I’ll have to admit that I became one of his fiercest critics and OK I’ll also admit to being one of the so-called ‘boo-boys’ (I know booing and criticism will do more harm than good).
As the season went on he just didn’t seem to improve and in fact became worse, which meant more and more criticism was heaped on him. My attitude didn’t change, he was top of my hit-list (terrible I know) but I suppose I needed someone to blame for the precarious predicament City had found themselves in! However, it only took one game for me to re-think my attitude towards him. Coming into the final game of the season against Wednesday, knowing City were safe from the drop, I mellowed and this coincided with one of SB’s 😉 better displays. Not once during that game did he put a foot wrong; he was a revelation, he didn’t get a single bad word from me and I decided from that point on I was prepared to offer him a chance.
I didn’t go to the Feyenoord game but I was annoyed that the papers reported that every time Kernaghan touched the ball he was roundly booed. I was prepared to give Kernaghan a chance, so why couldn’t others? It did sadden me to see him hounded out and go to Bolton but when he came back after his loan spell he was a changed player. Gone were the reckless tackles, he was more determined to win the ball and tactically he was a vastly improved player. He’s come on in leaps and bounds as a player and his confidence has returned. It’s good to see him doing so well, I wonder if it’s his way of giving those ‘boo- boys’ a two fingered salute? He’s won me over and I rate him highly now, not bad considering that last season I didn’t think much of him. So come on Al, keep up the good work.
Maybe it was the pressure of moving to a ‘big club’, the transfer fee and generally settling into a new team that caused him so many difficulties, but I’m glad he’s managed to overcome everything.
Also, I doubt if he will win the Player of the Year award but he’d definitely win City’s most improved player!
OPINION – HORTON
Sunday’s performance convinces me that Horton should go. The selection of Gaudino and Walsh as wingers was less than inspired. Where was Summerbee supposed to play?
All three goals were diabolical. Summerbee and Curle looked as if they had taken it on themselves to make Burridge look stupid. Summerbee’s back pass was terrible and Burridge did well to redeem that one, pushing the ball out to Curle. If Curle had been awake (bothered?) the ball could easily have been cleared. Kernaghan was asleep for the second and I can’t remember the cock-up for the third.
The team played with little cohesion and no pride or effort and that’s down to the players and the manager. We have players who are good enough to play in a successful team but they sometimes only seem to give about 80% effort. The performances before Christmas and at Blackburn show what can be done.
The reserves still languish in the second division of the Pontins League. Pontin’s sponsorship brings to mind the comment made that they should sponsor …….. (insert the name of any unsuccessful team) as, like the team, their season end in September. It clearly isn’t good enough that City can’t put out a team which can make the top four. Last year they were pipped for promotion by Rotherham’s reserves. This year they haven’t got close despite some good wins towards the end of the season.
The youth team look promising with another year before most are too old for the Youth Cup.
My thoughts are to get rid of Horton and Moss. Questions must be asked about Tony Book, who by my reckoning is now 58. Neil McNab seems to be doing OK with the Youth team, and he probably deserves to stay, but a general clear out of management and coaches seems warranted.
I was in the upper deck of the Kippax and there were some things which were quite obvious, which go unseen sitting behind the goal. First was the lack of pace in the team. QPR were first to everything. Perhaps the comments that have been made about training regimes and the approach of the players to training (and the consumption of alcohol) are not too far wide of the mark. Second was the void in front of the back four. Flitcroft consistently neither tackled the player in possession, provided real support for the tackler nor marked an opponent. Gaudino can’t tackle to save his life and Summerbee, who spent some time away from the wing, wasn’t any use and cannot be considered as a serious contender for a midfield place.
I haven’t renewed my season ticket yet and probably won’t, mainly because I want to be able to sit with friends who don’t have season tickets, but also because of the abject crap that has been served up since the end of November. Horton’s departure might help change my mind.
Finally a comment on the new stand: Super view but it will be a terribly cold place in the depths of winter! I was sat half way back in the upper tier and that was higher than the Main Stand roof!
OPINION – SUMMER SHAKEUP I
I agreed wholeheartedly with Kev Duckworth when he said that the way City finished the season was only right. God forbid that we look fondly back at those 2 games over Easter in remembering 1994-95; what we must do is remember the 25 inept displays that made up the core of our season and then attempt to put them right. Frannie has now had a year to assess what Maine Road requires in terms of commercial restructuring and has already tackled many of the more glaring financial anomalies left by the Swales administration. What we need now is a fairly stringent restructuring of the football side of the club and a cash injection to bring in quality players.
All the following are my own opinions as to who should leave/be replaced. I’ve kept them short as I could have railed on for pages on some of them!
- Brian Horton. Many out there believe that we should stick with BH if forno other reason than to break the manager hire/fire merry-go-round of thelast 15 years. I’m afraid that I don’t subscribe to that philosophy. BH hashis good points but a tactician, trainer and man-manager he ain’t. If wewish to build a successful side then we must have a sound foundation. It’sfolly to stick with BH for the sake of continuity otherwise the continuitywill merely take the form of an annual relegation battle… or worse!Horton’s appointment was the result of boardroom manouvering, and I’ve seenprecious little to suggest that he is the man we need to bring back successto Maine Road. So, I’m afraid BH must be replaced. We could always reward hisloyalty and transfer prowess by a giving him Jimmy Frizzell’s job 8-).Maybe BH’s acquisitions are merely a reflection of a good Maine Road scoutingsystem?
- Phelan. Has had an awful season and has at times looked defensively likea player from the Beazer Homes league and he is a defender! Taken togetherwith a serious attitude problem means his position is untenable at theAcademy.
- Hill. Too old and never good enough anyway.
- Vonk. Reasonable man-marker but generally slow and with poor distribution.Curle, Kernaghan, Brightwell and Foster are all a lot better. He also, likePhelan, has an attitude problem.
- Gaudino. Controversial this one. Although the man is talented I feel heis the wrong player for Maine Road. He’s looked lost more often than not thisseason and just appears to drift out of the majority of games. Surely it’sno coincidence that Flitcroft shines when he doesn’t have ‘Dino’ to coverfor? He’d be a great player if he played in a great side but he doesn’t. Ifeel that we should save the fee we would need to spend to buy himpermanently and use it for a midfield player more suited to our needs. Weneed someone with fire in his belly as well as skill. This situation isexactly what Michael Brehl in Frankfurt warned us to beware of when wesigned Dino back in December.
- Summerbee. At the moment I would keep him but he really has to show asignificant improvement in consistency next season. He has looked very goodin about 4 or 5 games this season but what about the other 40 odd?
- Simpson. Against Blackburn he looked every inch the midfield ball winnerwe so desperatley need but since, he’s again disappeared into the anonymityfrom which he came. The problem is that we’d have to pay a lot of money fora decent midfielder and we wouldn’t get much for Simpson. This isn’t reallya good reason for keeping him though.
SUMMER SHAKEUP II
This was an answer to my above article which started off as a personal discussion [Ashley]
I agree with much of what you say:
Attitude problems are down to the players’ perception of the management. Vonk and Phelan clearly hold BH in low esteem.
I think you’re unkind about Hill. He was a steady full back and played a few really useful games in the middle of the defence, whilst carrying a severe injury. He’s never really recovered from that injury. If he’s fit at the end of the season and manages a full pre-season training then he’ll still be a useful guy to have around.
Simpson has never been consistant and probably never will be. I think his contract is up at the end of the season but I can’t imagine a transfer fee over