Newsletter #51

As this issue is already quite full and likely to be filled before Friday, I’ve decided to send it out now. Additionally there is quite a lot of news included indicating that something may just happen on the transfer front this week. Flixton Red has kindly done us another report from a United point of view though he wasn’t actually at the game!

Subscription is rising steadily and we’re now at 154, this probably reflects an explosion in internet access more than anything else. Having said that, we did get a burst of new readers after the last derby defeat, maybe it’s a kind of defence mechanism!! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Next game Newcastle United away, FAC 5th round, Sun 19th February 1995


Pontins League Division 2, Tuesday 14th February 1995.

John Burridge, David Kerr, Rae Ingram, Michael Quigley, Michel Vonk, John Foster, Scott Thomas, Andy Hill, Adie Mike, Carl Griffiths, Fitzroy Simpson
Jim Bentley, John Sharpe, Andy Dibble
Chris Woods, David Faulkner, Lee Briscoe, Brian Linighan, Julian Watts, Simon Stewart, Adem Poric, Ryan Jones, Guy Whittingham, Gordon Watson, Darren Holmes
Richard Barker, Mark Guest, Stuart Kearn

I hadn’t seen a reserve game in about 2 years but the possibility that Paul Lake might put in an appearance drew me to Maine Road on a chilly Tuesday evening. No sign of Lakey but it gave me the chance to assess the talent we have in the reserve side and see who was knocking on the door of the first team.

The first chance came on 5 minutes when Quigley intercepted a poor clearance and fired in a shot towards the far post, which Woods pushed out for a corner. Two minutes later, Watson’s flicked header struck the outside of Budgie’s near post. Watson was a constant menace to the City defence; a clever shimmy gave him another opening on 11 minutes but Vonk got a foot in just in time to prevent him shooting.

Chances continued to be created at both ends; Thomas got on the end of a deep cross and squared the ball across the six yard box but there was nobody there to finish it off. At the other end, Jones was through with only Burridge to beat but his shot was weak and easily saved. Another shot from 25 yards was more testing but Budgie looked comfortable all night. Simpson made a good, pacy run down the left flank but his cross was deflected behind Griffiths to safety. Some good work by Watson led to Holmes breaking free into the City area but his shot was just wide of the far post.

The last five minutes was City’s best period in the first half; Griffiths turned well onto Simpson’s pass but his angled shot was well saved by Woods. Another Griffiths effort curled just over the bar immediately before the break. So, 0-0 at half time after a fairly even first half with chances at both ends, though Wednesday had the better ones.

The second half continued as the first had ended, with City slightly on top in a well-balanced contest. Adie Mike wriggled through the Wednesday defence but shot wide of the near post. On 53 minutes, Whittingham flashed a header just past the post from a good left-wing cross. At the other end, Mike did a good turn and shot though it was easily saved by Woods. The ball went back down to the City end where this time it was Watson’s header that was just wide.

The first good chance to fall to Griffiths came on 56 minutes when he volleyed Quigley’s deep cross towards the near post, forcing a good save from Woods. Just after the hour mark there was a mad scramble in the City 6-yard box but nobody could get the vital touch to knock the ball in. The ball was cleared to Watson, who crossed well to Whittingham; he got in a good header which Burridge tipped over the bar. Holmes forced another good save from the City ‘keeper with a long range effort.

Thomas cut in from City’s right wing and unleashed a powerful shot which was very well saved by Woods. Mike turned on the penalty spot on 82 minutes but his quick shot was over the bar. Just as it looked like City were in control, the Owls broke down the left flank and put in a deep cross which was knocked back by Whittingham to the unmarked Watson, who had time to hammer a shot into the top right corner, giving Budgie no chance. City pressed for an equaliser in the remaining five minutes but the closest they came was a 25 yard effort by Quigley which was just wide.

My overall impression was that there was only one player on the pitch who made you think “why isn’t he in the first team?”, so it was fitting that he, Gordon Watson, scored the winning goal. City’s reserves had recently beaten the top two teams in the division but they didn’t really look like a cohesive unit this time. There’s clearly a big gap in the standard of football between the reserves and the first team, although the difference in atmosphere between the two may exaggerate the effect. Coming from the passion of a derby with a full house on Saturday to a couple of hundred people who quietly “ooh”, “aah” and politely applaud the visitors’ winning goal seems strangely unreal.

So, how did our boys do? Burridge looked the part, claiming crosses, being in the right position and acting as sweeper when necessary. He can still do a useful job for us (and several other teams too, no doubt!). The full backs, Kerr and Ingram didn’t really catch the eye; they stayed in position well and looked comfortable without particularly impressing. Foster looked assured at centre half, comfortable on the ball too. Vonk played his usual game, distributing quite well from the back but still prone to the odd mistake in dangerous places. Andy Hill played a steady game in midfield (surely out of position?) but left most of the creative work to Mike Quigley, who was the pick of the City side. He reminds me of Neil McNab, comfortable and skilful on the ball, always making himself available and never afraid to get stuck in, despite an apparent weight disadvantage. Scott Thomas, similar in appearance to Garry Flitcroft, looked quite useful on the right flank. He’s got pace, trickery and determination but I don’t recall him getting in a telling cross during the game, so there’s plenty of room for improvement yet. On the left side was Simmo; the same comments apply pretty well to him too (apart from the one about looking like Garry Flitcroft!). Adie Mike showed some good touches and would often beat one defender but be tackled by another. With little service from the wings, it was difficult to tell how good he’d be in the air. Carl Griffiths struggled to get into the game at first, being physically dominated by Stewart but he looked quite sharp at times with some neat touches. If he could build up his strength and be able to hold people off like Paul Walsh, he could yet be Walsh’s replacement eventually.

Final Score: City 0 Wednesday 1

Paul Howarth (



I had the utter misfortune to witness the derby on a large TV screen set in the middle of the pitch at OT. My recommendations are don’t pay good money to watch a game using this medium… it stinks. But at least I got to see the game live (for 6 quid!).

I thought that there were remarkable similarities between this weekend’s derby and the other one (the unmentionable one to City fans). City started well, creating a number of good chances which just wouldn’t fall for a City boot. They got around the back of the Utd back-four with remarkable ease, but really felt the absence of a lethal 6-yd box striker. However, although I felt that we were fairly lucky to still be on a par after half-an-hour, I can’t help thinking that Bruce and Co. dealt with the pressure fairly well. Although the MU back-four can be hideously exposed out in open play (e.g. Barcelona away), I believe they must be one of the best sets of ‘scrappers’ inside the box in the country. They tend to be very quick to the ball, tackle safely and as a result don’t allow opposing sides many half-chances in the box. I felt that City would have to rip them open from deep in order to guarantee scoring.

The most impressive part of City’s play in the first half was their commitment and speed to the ball in midfield. However, Ince’s early booking certainly took the edge off his challenges (anyone prepared to make an offer for that incompetent wally McClair?). Most of the 50:50 challenges went City’s way and when in possession, the ball inevitably found its way to Beagrie, Walsh or Summerbee, but not quickly enough to find a Utd defence completely unprepared.

Horton must have been relatively pleased since Kanchelskis was consistently well looked after by two markers and Curle seemed to be comfortable with Cole in front of him. However, no-one really seemed prepared to pick Giggs up when he went walkabout. I’m not sure Horton did his homework there.

I was stunned that the second half then almost became a replay of the ‘other’ game this season. City’s ‘directed’ commitment seemed to have disappeared, we were given far more room than we actually made. Our passing only really improved probably because of this, i.e. the lack of pressure put on ‘first receivers’ in our half of the field. We won the second half because we won the ball, kept possession and then penetrated enough to do something with it.

I must say that Dibble seems to have forgotten exactly what and where the big white upright thing closest to him actually is! I think he must have been disappointed with both of the first two goals. However, I was surprised that Ince was totally unmarked on the edge of the box when he took his chance. Kanchelskis was probably lucky with the second. However, some time later I do feel he should have squared a pass to Scholes in the 6-yd box for a certain goal, instead of shooting for the near post again.

I wonder how fit City are. Utd will see off most other sides in the second half because they are very fit. Only Norwich(!) have really fought a whole 90 minutes with us this season (at OT). If City had been able to maintain their first half pressure, then I’m sure something would have happened for ’em. But I really do wonder how much Horton actually did learn from the OT derby,.. IMO sod-all! However, I still wouldn’t condone the ‘Horton Out’ campaign; anyway, I can’t name a better manager who could guarantee success at Maine Road.

I can’t honestly wish you better luck next time but you’ll play worse and win!

Flixton Red


Believe it or not, the Spurs match has been re-arranged again. It’ll now be played on Wednesday 5th April. The Wimbledon away game will be played on Tuesday 21st March. This gives us 4 away games in a row (3 in London) between 21 March and 8 April. The home game against Liverpool on 15 April will kick off at 3:15pm. As it’s the 6th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, there will be some sort of memorial before the game. Let’s hope it’s well observed, unlike the minute’s silence for Sir Matt Busby.

The Mole


Phil Neal the Coventry City manager has been sacked and “Big Ron” Atkinson is hot favourite to take over there, ending all speculation about him coming to Maine Road. So to summarise; if the speculation about “Big Ron” going to Coventry materialises, the speculation about a possible Maine Road move for him would no longer be speculatable!

Roger Davies (


Ray Ranson, the ex-City right back, has been forced to quit Reading FC due to a persistent achilles tendon problem. As most will know, he was with City for several seasons from the late 70’s to the mid 80’s, and was the right back in the ’81 cup finals. He was yet another of the City youngsters that were England prospects that never materialised, but he was at his peak an excellent right back, probably the best full back we’ve had since Willie Donachie. I understand he briefly came back to the Academy a couple of seasons ago, after spells with Newcastle and Brum City (and possibly others?)

Ian Thompson (


Wednesday 15th Feb.

It has just been announced that Big Ron has taken the vacant managerial position at Coventry. Maybe the speculation about BH will now decrease???

Adam Houghton (


Richard Edghill, due to return to the first team on Sunday, has broken his toe and will be out for another month. He did it whilst doing weight training at home; he dropped a weight on his toe – ouch!

Steve Lomas, whose current contract will expire during the summer, is pressing for a new, improved contract. Unlike Phelan, who still had about 2 years of his current contract to go when he wanted to renegotiate, I think he’ll get it. Well, hopefully.

The Mole


Are there rumblings of discontent among the players?

Well it looks like Steve Lomas isn’t happy at the moment. He seems quite prepared to leave Maine Road in the summer if his contract negoiations don’t meet with his approval. He realises that he’s a junior in the first team squad, but feels he’d done enough before his injury to warrant an increase. However since the injury, City have refused to meet for discussions about a pay increase. He wants an improved contract that reflects how well he’s done. Will he stay or go? Well that depends on whether BH and Franny are prepared to give a home-grown player an improved contract.

Martin Ford (


Four points from 30. Sack him! And while we’re at it, get rid of the physio.

Then get Steve Coppell in (an ex-rags player is better than an ex-rags manager in my book, unless it’s Paul Ince :)). Lee must promise him money and his presence will attract more money from people who won’t touch us while Horton is there. BH is obviously good at spotting players so I would want to keep him in a scouting rôle but I’m sure he wouldn’t stand for that!

You may not believe me but we have a 100% TV record to defend on Sunday. This is only the second FA Cup game we’ve played live on BSkyB, the other being a mid-week replay at Reading a couple of years back where we won 4-0. That game was only shown because another got postponed at the last minute. I shall be in the Oak Inn (Radford Road, Leam Spa) along with a few other City fans for the 1:00pm kick-off and then back home to see Leeds stuff the rags. ๐Ÿ™‚

From what I’ve been told, a lot of the fighting at Maine Road on Saturday was caused by City fans taking offence to rags fans who were brazenly showing support for their “team”, be it by wearing a red shirt or cheering every time a goal went in. There is no way I would want to stop some away supporters going in the home end but if they act as stupidly and offensively as that, they deserve what they get IMO.

I notice from a copy of Saturday’s programme that the membership card requirement has been dropped for forthcoming home games. Could it be anything to do with falling gates? Surely not! ๐Ÿ˜‰

James Nash (


GMR reported today (Tuesday 14th) that Torino and Roma have shown an interest in signing Maurizio Gaudino and would be willing to pay over the odds to get him. With his Italian background, this would probably be an attractive proposition for him. Let’s hope it’s just speculation.

The Mole


Rumours in Sheffield are that if Niall Quinn is sold to Sheffield Wednesday, then Graham Hyde will be part of the payment. I’m afraid I don’t know a lot about him except that he’s fairly young and plays in midfield, but Wednesday fans seem to think he’s a reasonable prospect for the future (where have I heard that before????).

Adam Houghton (


I am a subscriber to the SWFC line and the buzz is that Hyde is being offered to City for Quinn. I think that this move would benefit City in the long run, since they already have two strikers of greater quality, and one can never have too many good midfielders.

Jesse McClure (


For me the decision to follow City lies so far back in time that I can’t exactly remember why (I think I’m getting old – 32 by now) but I do have a vague memory of the famous City side from the late 60’s / early 70’s with Lee/Bell/Summerbee. Here in Norway, English league football has been shown on TV regularly every Saturday since the early 60’s, which is why so many Norwegians have closer relationships with English football clubs than with national ones. Sadly, I can’t remember the trophy seasons of the 60’s so I don’t think I really became a City-fan until 1972-73 – at the age of about 10. I think the main reason was that my own football team and my classmates consisted of Liverpool/Leeds/ManU fans and nothing else so I guess I wanted to be special. Also I remember buying a City shirt from England which I proudly paraded at school (being laughed at – especially by Rags fans of course). I remember Colin Bell as my first hero. Later on Manchester City was the first English club to get a Norwegian Supporters Club Branch (1976 I think) and of course I joined as fast as I heard of it.

My finest City memory is watching the 1976 League Cup victory on TV – I’ll never forget that Tueart goal. Not surprisingly – another highlight was the FA cup finals in 1981. It still hurts thinking about it. From then on we all know what a nightmare it has been being a City fan but I think if you’re involved in this kind of a love affair you’ll never stop loving.

I’m a bit ashamed to confess that I’ve been a rather passive member of the Norwegian Supporters Club and even though they arrange trips to Manchester at least 3-4 times per season I’ve never joined in. I’ve seen City live only 4 times – 3 times in Norway during summer and once in London (playing Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in the 2nd division, I think it was 1985 – a 2-2 draw). In other words I’ve never been to Maine Road – am I the only one on MCIVTA? I have decided for myself that next time City play at Wembley I’ll be there as well as in Manchester to watch some games at the Academy. I’m sure I’ll meet some of you guys then.

Finally I’d like to thank all of you on MCIVTA for giving me the opportunity to be among the best informed City fans in Norway. The match reports in newspapers here is embarrasingly sparse (apart from matches with clubs with Norwegian players involved – I kind of miss Ingebrigtsen in this respect, not on the pitch though) if given at all. Special thanks to Ashley for reasons not necessary to mention, and those of you providing the match reports.

Come on you Blues!!

Lars Ivar Naess (


The term rags certainly predates electronic mail. I cannot find anything to support it but I’m sure the term was originally coined because of United’s dire financial position, possibly just before the war. I think Eric Thornton’s book “From Meredith to Mercer and the FA Cup” refers to it.

Roger Haigh (


Thanks to Lars Ivar, The Mole, James, Roger, Ian, Paul, Roger, Adam, Martin, Jesse & Flixton Red.

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 #51