Newsletter #85

Plenty of news/discussion in this issue and you’ll never guess the subject of it all! I personally feel that the situation has been handled OK considering what might have happened though others may disagree. Lee gave Horton the whole season when many were already baying for blood after the Derby disaster so there is no way that it can be said that he didn’t get a fair crack of the whip. People will talk about lack of cash but for me that’s an irrelevance, he wasn’t able to deliver anything like a decent season with a squad which is good on paper. Lee told Horton personally about his dismissal and Horton has already gone on record to state that there are no ill feelings. Of course there was a rumour frenzy over the weekend but whether this was down to a leak (probable) or just plain logical reasoning we don’t know. It’s interesting to read that Paul and Jim say that betting odds on a replacement are not available which either means that Lee has his man and the cogniscenti know who he is or that the likely successful candidate is so obvious that the bookies stand to lose too much money.

Whatever the outcome let’s hope we get a decent managerial team and a shakeup both in the backroom staff and on the field. Lee’s timing has been excellent and a successor will hopefully have time to mould a new squad through purchases/sales and this should lead, in my opinion to a significant increase in sales of season tickets for next season. Having said that, someone like Bassett is hardly going to do that is he?


Well it seems all the speculation is over as I have just read on Ceefax that BH has been given his marching orders. An official statement reads:

“It has been decided it is in the best interests of the club that his services be dispensed with immediately”

It also says that Colin Todd and Bruce Rioch are being linked to the club as well as Steve Coppell.

Riccardo Keefe (


Colin Barlow held a press conference this afternoon in which he said that Lee and Horton had “amicably” agreed that results had been unsatisfactory and that BH would no longer be the City manager. He was distinctly tight-lipped about any further questions, such as whether David Moss would be staying or whether a replacement had been lined up.

Earlier on, Tony Coton had spoken to a GMR reporter (literally minutes after returning from hospital) and said that as a result of the way BH had been treated (over the course of the season, presumably referring to the media as much as the club), he had decided not to go into management when his playing career was over.

The Mole


Tonight’s MUEN lists the following as possible replacements:

Rioch and Todd, David Pleat, Steve Coppell (?!?)

Dave Bradbury (


Some interesting points in the papers this morning.

Rioch is thought to be unlikely to get the job because it might put Lee in the position of having to sack a close friend in the future. There is apparently “no chance” of Kidd leaving Old Trafford and the current favourite for the job (according to Today) is Dave Bassett!

Lee is about to set off on an “exotic 3-week cruise” on which he’ll mull over the candidates. I think he already knows who his man is.

Paul Howarth (


There was a phone-in on GMR last night in which a lot of opinions were aired, many IMHO utter rubbish. There was much sympathy for Brian Horton (fair enough), who remained dignified even after his departure, with several nice comments about the club. Many callers said he’d been given no money (true to some extent) and criticised Lee and his consortium for breaking the promises they made before the takeover. How many times do people have to be told that the consortium have already committed twenty million pounds to the club before it sinks in?!?

George Graham was a popular candidate as BH’s replacement in the early part of the phone-in, though some of the callers thought he was banned by the FA. I’m not sure about this. Rioch and Todd were also popular candidates, as was Franz Beckenbauer, despite the fact that he’s no experience of English football and is thought to have a very good position (not manager) at Bayern Munich.

Some of the more ludicrous suggestions were Trevor Francis (a fine player but evidently not a fine manager), The Beast (Graeme Souness – one caller claimed he had a good record in management at Rangers and for his first year at Liverpool; Rangers have no serious opposition and he did well with Dalglish’s team for the first year at Liverpool!) and Peter Reid (of our last 4 managers, he was the only one I was truly glad to see the back of; he was ruining the club from the top right through to the bottom). Many callers wanted to see Colin Bell as assistant manager; now Colin was my childhood hero but you only have to look at Leeds’ efforts with their famous names as managers in the late seventies and eighties to realise what folly it is to assume that your best players will make good managers. Another caller criticised Brian Horton for playing David Brightwell in this season’s derby at Old Trafford, saying that Terry Phelan, a true City fan (sic) with a lot of pace, would have played much better. What planet is this guy from?

Some of the more interesting suggestions were David Pleat (another nice guy, notwithstanding some of his nocturnal activities, but with a fair degree of tactical flair too and a definite eye for good, young players) and a partnership of Brian Kidd (would he want to leave United after being named by Ferguson as his heir apparent?) and Andy Ritchie (A Blue, according to Jimmy Wagg, who interviewed him recently).

P.S. I think our own David Whitwell was one of the (more sensible) callers.

P.P.S. The bookies are not taking bets on BH’s successor. They believe (as I do) that Lee already knows who he wants.

Paul Howarth (


Apparently a phone in on GMR this morning as to who should be the next incumbent produced this frightening result:

  1. George Graham
  2. Franz Beckenbauer (dream on)
  3. Bruce Rioch

On ethical grounds Graham should be discounted, though realistically he might win something. As for the Kaiser – no chance. Personally I’d go for Rioch and should Souness get the job I’ll be following his team (Bolton) anyway.

Paul Monaghan (


Horton was interviewed by Brian Clarke from Piccadilly Radio and below is a summary of the chat.

“This is certainly a sad day for my family and friends. It is the 2nd time I have been sacked in 12 years, so I don’t think it is bad going.”

“Did you think you had survived?”

“Maybe, the last two games may have finished me. I have had excellent assistance from Francis Lee but at the end of the day, it is about results and I haven’t won enough games.”

“With all the talk in the papers etc. did you know today was the day of the sack?”

“Not at all. I hadn’t read the papers and received a phone call from another premier manager about the speculation”.

“How much of a shock was it to you?”

“It was a blow to my pride. Players have phoned me already. I certainly wanted to stay and I have no regrets whatsoever. The crowd have been fabulous to me and so have the players. In fact I have been astounded by the fans. I honestly thought we could have done something this year. Look at the youth team. I will know in a few years time that some of those kids will make it and that gives me pride.”

“Where do you go from here?”


Brian Horton conducted the interview in the same way as he conducted his reign at Maine Road, with dignity.

Kevin Duckworth (


This was the situation yesterday in the manager poll before the announcement that BH had been sacked.

No Manager              1st  2nd  3rd  Pts
1  Brian Horton          17    5    3   64
2  Bruce Rioch           14    9    1   61
3  Joe Royle              4    4    2   22
4  George Graham          1    7    3   20
5  Mick McCarthy          2    2    5   15
6  Brian Kidd             0    4    5   13
7  Martin O'Neill         1    3    2   11
   Francis Lee            2    2    1   11
9  Joe Kinnear            2    0    3    9
10 Franz Beckenbauer      2    0    0    6
11 Mike Walker            1    0    1    4
12 Steve Coppell          0    1    1    3
   Bobby Robson           1    0    0    3
   Alan Hansen            1    0    0    3
   Arthur Cox             0    1    1    3
16 Kevin Keegan           0    1    0    2
   Alex Ferguson          0    1    0    2
   Trevor Francis         0    1    0    2
   Bryan Robson           0    0    2    2
20 Howard Kendall         0    0    1    1
   Mike Walsh             0    0    1    1
   Douglas Moore          0    0    1    1
   Harry Redknapp         0    0    1    1
   Colin Bell             0    0    1    1
   Johann Cruyff          0    0    1    1
   Mark McGhee            0    0    1    1
   Mike Summerbee         0    0    1    1
   Bobby Gould            0    0    1    1

A total of 48 people voted. Overall, on a points basis BH came out as highest scorer but only 17 people wanted BH as their first choice manager (35%). Logically this means that the remainder (65%), wanted him replaced (they got their wish!). The next candidate, by a ‘country mile’ is Bruce Rioch whom 14 people wanted as first choice (29%). However, and significantly, a lot of votes were cast for him as second or third choice. Furthermore, if we ignore the Horton votes on the assumption that Horton has been excluded from the race then Rioch was voted as first choice by 14/31 (45%). I know doing this is slightly dodgy statistically but it does give us a rough idea.

So there you have it, two thirds wanted Horton replaced and they voted overwhelmingly for Rioch. We still want to keep the poll open for a while longer so, if you haven’t voted or you voted for Horton and wish to re-cast your votes then mail Svenn ( with your 1st, 2nd & 3rd choice managers.



Interesting to see in the latest issue stories about City players’ drinking habits. My girlfriend was in a pub in Hale (near Altrincham) and she saw loads of the City boys getting absolutely hammered (particularly Niall Quinn); they were shouting out and obviously drunk. I suppose they get the money to drink like that the lucky bastards.

John Robinson (


Why aren’t the bookies taking any bets on who the new Man City manager will be? I did hear it was because that City had already lined up a replacement but the papers still speculate on who it might be. The Daily Mirror today has written off Rioch, McCarthy and Kinnear and instead they and the Daily Star seemed convinced it will be either Bassett or Kidd!! Bassett because of his personality and the obvious shoe-string budget balancing act, but Kidd!! He’s a rag for one, touted as Fergie’s replacement; he may have played for City and been a crowd favourite but so was Law and he has completely turned his back on that period of his life. The sacking itself though has been roundly criticised as being badly handled. Paul Walsh for one was upset by the way that they handled it but no one has come out against the sacking. Wonder why 🙂

Jim Walsh (


I’ve just heard the great news that Horton has finally been sacked. Seeing our terrible performances against Forest and QPR convinced me that Horton had to go. The club and the fans deserve better and I think it’s about time we got it! Lets hope Bolton fail to reach the Premiership and Lee has the sense to offer Rioch the job. I’m convinced he’s just what we need to return us to the glory days!

Finally, congratulations to Blackburn for winning the Premiership. Let’s hope Everton can stuff the rags on Saturday!

Charles Pollitt (


I won’t be shedding any tears over the sacking of Brian Horton even though I do feel slightly sorry for the guy. Nobody can argue with the signings he has brought in: Uwe, Walshy and Dino but I feel some of his tactics/organisation left something to be desired. His attitude over the last few weeks of the season puzzled me as he kept stating that a draw here and there would see us o.k. Surely he should have been telling his players that three points in every game would be crucial!

Let’s hope the next manager is given a fair crack of the whip and that we don’t end up with a long-ball merchant (please no Dave Bassett).

Rob Kerr (


Well, it has finally happened, Brian Horton has got the boot. During a particularly turbulent part in City’s history, he has handled himself with dignity and, apart from the Wimbledon game, has been open in public. I believe he is a good man who deserves success but is inexperienced and tactically naïve. He made a number of mistakes at Maine Road but let us first look at his good points.

  • As mentioned above, he came in as Maddock’s puppet but soon wonover the City fans and showed a degree of civility in an otherwisedirty (but justified) campaign.
  • He was shrewd in the transfer market making 3 excellent signingsand 2 others, Kernaghan and Summerbee who I think will both prove to bebargains.
  • I have been to 12 or 13 home games this season and can say theworst by far was QPR. It should be noted that that type of entertainment wascommonplace in the Reid era. He made City an entertaining, attacking side.

So what went wrong?

  • Although it was entertaining, he is tactically brainless. Forexample, how can you play 4-2-4 against the Rags with the midfield ofFlitcroft and Lomas against Ince, Cantona and McClair? The defence wasoften blamed for the goals conceded but a lot of this was due to theopposition’s midfield being able to run at our defence. If you are going tohave 2 wingers, they must be the Keegan, Coppell or (on a smallerscale) Mark Ward, otherwise your 2 middies must be strong ball-winners andpassers.
  • A big mistake he made was selling Steve McMahon. He was past hisbest and not as quick as he used to be. However, he still seemed to havemore time on the ball than anyone else, still strong in the tackle and hadthe experience. City missed him desperately.
  • You often heard about Horton having bust-ups with players. Theseincluded McMahon, Coton, Phelan, Vonk and Lomas. Could he really handle theplayers?

Personally I am sorry he failed but agree he should go. There has been some speculation in the papers about who will take his place. Among others there are: Rioch, David Pleat, Steve Coppell, Dave Bassett, Mick McCarthy and even Colin Bell. God forbid it will be Bassett, Bell has no experience. If he was management material he would at least be reserve or youth manager. Rioch will depend on Bolton winning the play-offs but my favourite would be Steve Coppell.

Kevin Duckworth (


I received the news regarding BH’s dismisal with mixed feelings. Though I have been one of his strongest critics in previous MCIVTAs, I still think he has done well given the amount of resources (money I mean) made available to him throughout his reign at Maine Road. How many managers could have done better than him for the past year I wonder? Amoung other things, he has done a favour to the club with his transfer market activities.

However, there are a number of things that he has failed badly on during his reign. He was unable to bring the best out of the players throughout the season. He failed to motivate the players to give their best after a couple of good showings – in other words, the players lack consistency. Also, it was widely known that he is a nice man. However, in soccer being nice is not good enough. In fact, this has led to him being taken for granted, leading to players viewing him in low esteem (e.g. Phelan, Vonk). IMHO he failed at man-management.

I agree with others who called for more stability on the management front, but what kind of stability and consistentcy do we really need? Is it one of consistent player-management dissatisfaction and annual relegation battles? Surely not. Let’s hope that whoever is the new man at Maine Road can change this (by the way, he will be the 11th manager in 20 years at Maine Road!!)

That brings us to the most important question now. Who will this man be? Having disturbed the ‘stability’ that we so badly need, let us hope there is a worthwhile replacement for BH.


  • Bruce Rioch as Manager
  • Keep BH as Talent Scout (do we still have to compensate him this way?)
  • David Moss must go too

Players: Try David Batty in the middle of the park. He’s a good ball winner. Keep Dino. Batty-Dino-Flipper and a winger or two to support the attack sounds irresistable. How about young Branagan of Bolton as a replacement for the injured Coton?

To finance these, sell Phelan, Vonk, Quinn (sadly), Walsh (another sad one), Dibble, Martyn Margetson and maybe Summerbee. Can anyone suggest a better winger whom we can afford in place of Buzzer?

Funny season this. City usually keep us on the edge through the playing season, but now we will be kept there ’til way after the last ball was kicked. We still have to hope for good news on the managerial front as well as the promised “many comings and goings” on the players front. We can only hope.

Nizam Idris (


This one’s from one of our MU subscribers [Ashley]

So he’s gone. Nice enough bloke but just another Swales stooge. I think the most encouraging thing, apart from avoiding the dreaded drop, is the length of time BH was in the job. He must be one of your longest serving managers since the glory days. So thumbs up for Franny.

My personal opinion now is that you need someone with a bit of cred., Coppell or Rioch, especialy Rioch if Bolton don’t go up and the Gooners don’t nick him. Big Fat Ron would be my personal choice but I don’t think he’s gonna walk out on Coventry after what Doug Ellis did to him (Hands up if you think Doug Ellis is the biggest arse in football).

I would also like to complement you on the lack of pathetic attempts at trying to turn United’s close run championship failure into some kind of surrogate trophy. Indeed one of you pointed out that we had 20,000 at OT the day after agonisingly losing the championship.

After recovering from the agony of those final 20 minutes, I can assure you that most of us are indestructable after losing to Leeds.

Genuine best wishes for next season. As I’ve said before, the martyrdom is just as annoying as the constant drivel about the Rags’ part time supporters.

Mark Lester (


I sent Roger’s summary to Ian Copping on the Forest list and here are some of the replies:

I looked up one of my books, and Barrett didn’t play in either final; he may have been on the bench for the second one but for the first he was injured and I saw a photo of him there but in his suit. He was injured early in the season after scorer a corker against the scouse murderers to make the first leg score 2-0 in the first round. So, I don’t think it was Barrett. As for Stan Bowles, he didn’t play in either final, I’m confident of that, but he did play in the super-cup victory over Barcelona and it was his first medal. He wouldn’t fly for the 2nd final, so Cloughie left him out and he wasn’t with the club for the first final. I will put the question to the Forest list as well, but I’m pretty sure neither of them has a European Cup final medal. Bowles definately not, Barrett, maybe as a non-playing sub. in the second. I was at both finals and I don’t remember him coming on in Madrid.

Colin Barrett only received a replica medal for the EC. There was an interview with him in an early “Brian” in which he says how pissed off he was that BC awarded himself and Peter Taylor the spare medals instead of giving them to the players who had played in the earlier rounds. It was Barrett’s thunderbolt against the scousers in the first round that effectively put us through against the holders and favourites so I can understand why he was a bit miffed.

Ian Copping


Thanks to The Mole, Charles, Rob, Kevin, Dave, Mark, Riccardo, Nizam, Paul (x2), John & Jim.

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 #85