Newsletter #6

We already have two match reports which means this can go out Tuesday rather than Wednesday, giving a more even spacing between mailings. There are now 28 bonafide subscribers which although the same as last week includes several newcomers. The figure remains the same as I have purged some ghosts after contacting the respective Postmasters and finding out the accounts were still active but the users had moved on. Just out of interest I looked at Notts Forest’s mailing list and this currently stands at 129 so I think there are still plenty more Blues out there who will hopefully come across the list as news travels.

A message for new subscribers: Although initially and primarily a news/reports bulletin, things are also developing along an exchange of opinions/ideas route so if you have an opinion or questions, however mundane then don’t hesitate to send them in. There are no correspondents as such only other Blues!



Why are City such an infuriating team to watch? When they put their minds to the task of playing footie, they seem to be able to compete with the best of them, but otherwise we have to suffer tedium, until Horton gives them a right kick up the a*se at half time (Everton and now Norwich). Once again against Norwich we had a first half that was stiffled of any real entertainment. Norwich weren’t the usual open attacking team that normally creates an open game, they had come to try and get some sort of result (besides a loss) and the first half was obviously a victim to this ploy. However City didn’t really help they were struggling themselves.

The three man attack (or was it a variation on the ‘diamond’ formation) made a nice change to see, but the down side was City’s lack of midfield fight. It was left to Flipper to do all the battling, with Beagrie and Buzzer on the wings to supply a stream of crosses. The hasty return of Curle for Vonk backfired after only 25 (ish) minutes when Curle limped off with a reccurence of his hamstring injury; why do City insist on rushing players back?

Against a better team I can’t see City getting a win with this sort of team. They struggled in the first half, but thankfully everything changed in the second half (another Horton size 9).

The second half opened in a better style and Beagrie came more and more into the game and gave the Norwich defence a torrid time. It was from his initial pass to Phelan that gave City the opening goal. Phelan crossed to the far post where Quinn was lurking to beat the impressive Gunn with a downward header. His first goal after a 10 month lay-off in his second full comeback game, hopefully there’ll be plenty more to come. Even with this goal, Norwich didn’t fully come out of their shell and after a further 10 minutes the game was sealed. Once again Beagrie supplied the cross for Quinn at the back post, this time he knocked his header down, straight into the path of Uwe for him to score the second. Chances came and went, but the game should have really been settled when Rösler was felled in the box by Milligan. Beagrie stepped up and saw his kick saved by Gunn. Rösler limped off to be replaced by Lomas, but the game by that stage was safe.

City kept their unbeaten home record going and lifted themselves into 7th place, only 2 points behind the rags (Red Arrogant GitS). Let’s just hope that City can get the away form right and earn a few more points.

City’s first half performance was pretty poor, but thankfully they lifted the game in the second half and came out on top. But why does it take a whole half before City get their act together? Mind you it wouldn’t be City if they didn’t make life difficult 🙂

Horton’s plan for an attack minded style worked, but for the visit to Leeds I wonder if McMahon will win his place back and the team revert back to a 4-4-2 formation?

City: Coton, Edghill, Brightwell, Curle (Hill), Phelan, Flitcroft, Summerbee, Beagrie, Walsh, Quinn, Rösler (Lomas) Sub Dibble

Score 2-0

Martin Ford



MANCHESTER CITY 2 NORWICH CITY 0 (Manchester Evening News)

What Spurs can do with their now famous ‘fabulous five’, Manchester City can do even better. For, unlike the Londoners, the Blues appreciate that playing with a five man attack … as they did with devastating effect on Saturday… you need a cast iron defence to back it up.

City’s bold manager Brian Horton shocked Norwich and 21,000 fans at Maine Road by fielding a side containing Nick Summerbee, Peter Beagrie, Paul Walsh, Uwe Rösler and Niall Quinn. It was an outrageous attacking gamble that deserved to pay off. And pay off it did with the super Blues turning on an exhilarating display that had their long suffering fans drooling. But while the forwards hogged the lime light,it was the unsung heroes at the back who made it all possible. And no one did more to batten down the hatches and provide the platform for his side’s all-out attacks than rock steady defender Andy Hill. Hill, still smarting after being dropped after Tuesday night’s Coca-Cola Cup disaster, clearly felt he had a point to prove after being called off the sub’s bench half way through the first half to replace injured Keith Curle. Ian Brightwell, switched by Horton to the centre of defence, also proved his amazing versatilitity yet again with a superb, no frills display while Richard Edghill and Terry Phelan didn’t put a foot wrong from start to finish.

Wing wizard Peter Beagrie began the telling move for the first goal with a perfect pass down the touch line to the over-lapping Terry Phelan. City’s rocket propelled left back picked out Niall Quinn with a gorgeous cross on the run and the result was academic as the Blues’ big striker signalled his comeback with a classic ‘down and up’ header.

Nine minutes later the game was over as a contest when Horton’s side majestically moved further ahead. The tenacious Gary Flitcroft, Horton’s man of the match, jemmied open the Canaries defence with a forty yard pass to Beagrie out on the left. Almost instantly, Beagrie’s cross was arrowing towards Quinn at the far post. He took the weight of the centre brilliantly to nod down to the feet of Rösler, whose first time shot was nestling in the bottom corner in a blink of the eye. So much for the critics who said Horton would never be able to find a place in his attack for both Quinn and Rösler.

But there was much, much more to City’s performance than those two super strikes from this unlikely, but highly effective, Irish-German partnership. Little Walsh, for instance, may not like operating in a deeper position behind the two big target men but you would never have guessed it with the crafty Cockney providing the perfect link between the attack and defence with a Rolls Royce performance brimming with imagination and skill. City, in fact, could have and should have rubbed in their superiority with a third goal when Norwich ‘keeper Gunn brilliantly parried away Beagrie’s penalty kick after the willing Rösler had been upended by Mike Milligan.

Horton’s Verdict:

“Playing that formation was a gamble but it was one I was prepared to take.I’ve told the players time and time again that there is nothing they can’t achieve when they put their minds to it. We scored two great goals and we looked terrific going forward but my personal man of the match was Gary Flitcroft who was magnificent. I made up my mind to play with five forwards after our defeat at Barnet. I suppose being so adventurous could have back fired on me but the players responded magnificently after the rollicking they received for their display last Tuesday.”

Coton; Edghill, Brightwell, Curle( Hill), Phelan; Flitcroft, Beagrie, Summerbee; Walsh, Quinn, Rösler (Lomas)
Subs: Dibble
Booked: Rösler

Report taken practically without permission from the Manchester Evening News by Paul Hince.

Rob Clarke


Press in Manchester full of complaints about “City Snipers”.

Apparently they are surprised that losing to a second-rate side three divisions below you in the league should spark protest.

At the end of the Barnet game, Tony Coton, City’s captain on the night booted the ball at a section of the supporters and made “obscene gestures”. I presume that the press has blown the incident out of proportion but he could face FA and/or internal discipline.

There were also reports that “City’s-boo boys” could drive Francis Lee out. The return of Lee has certainly fired the club up, however I feel that it is time money was put into the club for a couple of quality players. City have a good team at the moment, but the squad is thin, lacking quality replacements when key-players are out of the side. A run of injuries and a few bad results could put yet another early end to our season. Reinforcing the squad now with things going well, could avert this, keeping the momentum going. Is it not time that we saw a little of Lee’s much talked about money on the pitch?

John Connell


Ticket News

For all those interested in the ‘derby’, Tickets for the OT clash go on sale on Saturday to regular season ticket holders (5th year holder and longer) only, priced stlg15 (stlg). I’ll be there queuing up with the others, to try and get a ticket. Why do I bother, after 10(ish) visits to OT, I’ve yet to see a win, mind you it’s 20 years since the last victory, Denis Law’s famous back-heel. Don’t forget the game’s live and scheduled for Sky TV on Thursday 10th November.

Injury News

With Rösler and Curle limping off against Norwich on Saturday with injuries, City fielded a near full-strength side against a local semi-pro team in Manchester (Droylsden F.C.) as a fund raiser. However the injury jinx struck again, this time with Walsh limping off with an ankle injury. The main point was the fact of who was involved in accidental clash that left Walsh nursing his ankle. It was none other than local commercial radio (Piccadilly Gold) DJ, Mike Sweeney, who as anybody from Manchester will know is an avid Reds fan! All sides though are saying the incident was an accident.

So after such a good display against Norwich, City might have to field a team without three of the match starters. Curle looks like he’s aggravated his Hamstring injury and City are awaiting further test, but expect him to be out for at least a couple of weeks. Rösler is battling to overcome his ankle injury (possible ligament damage) as is Walsh. So City could be left with a one man attack for the Leeds game, whilst packing the midfield!

We’ll just have to wait until later in the week to see what sort of formation Horton will field.

Martin Ford


> If people care to take a look at the FAQ (when it appears) it becomes clear
> just how many players City have let go during the summer and early part of
> this season:
> Alphonse Groenendijk (Midfield) To Sparta Rotterdam    (Nominal Fee)
> Karre Ingebrigsten   (Midfield) To Lillestroem(Nor)    (Fee Unknown)
> David Rocastle       (Midfield) To Chelsea             (1.3 million)
> Mike Sheron          (Forward)  To Norwich City        (1.0 million)
> Fitzroy Simpson      (Midfield) To Bristol City        (0.5 million)
> Also, Alan Kernaghan's fate is still in the balance.
> Without doubt the squad was overly large and needed thinning out but surely
> as part of a balanced policy of replacement with promising and quality
> players? Personally I'm not shedding any tears over the above players
> except perhaps Sheron who certainly had talent even if it wasn't converted
> to goals during his extended runs in the team last season.

The problem with Sheron, he needed a kick up the backside to keep him on his toes. He used to get progressively worse and end up being dropped, when he forced his way back into the first team, he was a revelation. It’s just a pity that he couldn’t produce the goods, he certainly had the talent. Of the other players, only Groenendijk had the talent, he could pass the ball to players feet, which the team is currently missing.

> So far then,
> it's 5 gone maybe 6 and only Summerbee brought in who can be described as
> fitting the above bill. The potential problems associated with a small
> squad are all too clear and result in panic buying to fill sudden gaps. Is
> this selling merely wage-bill driven or is it really an essential
> pre-requisite to new players being brought in. Perhaps I am too
> pessimisitic but I tend to suspect that the former lies nearer the truth.

I believe that Lee has been quoted as saying that he needed to trim the wage-bill as it is the highest ever recorded at the club. So obviously it’s a matter of trimming the ‘dead’ wood before, splashing out again in the transfer markets. At last though we’ve got a chairman who’s got real experience in the business world and understands the realities of cashflow problems.

> Lee promised millions to rebuild but so far we've raked in double what
> we've given out! I can certainly appreciate the argument that quality
> players aren't falling off trees but there are some out there and City
> should be in a position to afford them. The potential at Maine Rd is huge,
> witness St James's Park which is now sold out every week and as far as I
> know may even be entirely season ticket. My last season as a season ticket
> holder at Man City in 78/79 produced average gates of around the mid
> 40'000s easily enough to sell the ground out at the present capacity.
> Naturally gates aren't as high as they were nationwide but 32'500 is within
> easy reach, So, if success could be generated the rewards would be immense
> and worth the investment.

I suspect Lee and the consortium are short of the promised cash, look at how long the takeover bid took. If they wanted Swales and Boler out and control of the club, the easiest thing to do would have been to stump up the money he (PJS) was asking for and see the back of him. But as it turned out the Consortium only bought 30% (?) of the shares and left Swales at the club. I’ve also seen a report (some time last year) that 3 of Barlow’s companies are actually losing money! However dubious I am of Lee, it’s better than the bad old days of Swales. As for the potential of the club, we need the success to bring back the big crowds. After years of failure you can understand the unwillingness of the supporters to come flocking back, who (lets be fair about it) wants to watch a second rate team. When Lee and Co proposed there new ground development of a 45k capacity ground I was under the impression that they were living in the past, it’s obvious that City have lost a generation of fans and will find it hard to fill the ground to capacity if they continue to fail. I honestly feel that the soon to be intended limit of 32.5k is just about right! Newcastle are a fine example, they were struggling and then had a change in the boardroom and then appointed Keegan and everything looking rosey again. So yes investment would give a substantial return but it’s got to be an investment in the right direction (no point having a superb stadium with a crap team!)

> Would anybody care to name quality players who would be available (i.e not
> Andy Cole) who would fit in and form a successful team.

Looking for good experienced player to come to Maine Road, well here’s a few that spring to mind. For defensive cover how about Shaun Teale? Another player, will be embarrassing as he started out at Maine Road before being shown the door, Paul Warhurst, can play anywhere and is struggling to get into the Rovers first team! Another, Ian Bishop, but here I think I’m just being sentimental, he should never have left in the first place!

Martin Ford


I was looking through some old letters from last year and re-read something which for me was particularly poignant, namely that City’s one time wonderboy centre half Tommy Caton had died from I believe a heart attack. This is probably old-hat to many of you but I guess there are a few who didn’t hear. It’s bloody unnerving I can tell you, to be told that the curly haired lanky 18 year old you used to watch is dead and of natural causes! He was one of those guys who was incredibly mature (as a footballer) for his age but never managed to take the next step and become something special. He shared the fate of many other talented players, disappearing into the black hole that is Arsenal FC, never to emerge.


Thanks go to Martin, Rob & John.

Ashley Birch,

Newsletter #6