Newsletter #225

I’m afraid this intro will have to be short and sweet. We still have no manager and the press are having great fun inventing stories about who we’ve approached and who’s turned us down. There’s also some worrying info that Kinky may want a move!

This one goes out to 917.

Next game, Charlton Athletic at home, Tuesday 3rd September 1996



After having the “pleasure” of watching City’s first three games of the season live, as well as two mediocre Premiership games, during my two weeks in England, I didn’t have the greatest of expectations before this game. I was actually starting to wonder whether football was an entertaining sport as I can’t remember having seen a good game for quite a while. However, I had no second thoughts about going to watch Kinkladze live once again, though I can’t say I like to go to national team games anymore.

Anyway, as soon as I entered the stand I got bad taste in my mouth. Who was the guy I could spot just 10 metres away? Who else but Alex Ferguson, the chief-moaner of British football… My start to the evening could have been better. It didn’t make me happier to discover people like Walter Smith and a number of British/European football agents/scouts taking notes and having a very close look at a certain number 10 on the Georgian team. I know for a fact that Kinkladze has asked his agent for a move, so I think a move is inevitable now.

Not too much to write about. The game wasn’t a classic by any means. Honestly, it was even worse than Stoke vs. City, but slightly better than Bolton vs. City. Georgia played with the impressive Shota Arveladze and Ketsbaia up front, while Mikhail Kavelashvili was left amongst the substitutes. Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean that he’s not a good player, as Arveladze is one of the leading scorers in the Turkish league with Trabzonspor and Ketsbaia is probably one of the best strikers in the Greek championship, where he plays for AEK.

The first half was very boring indeed. Kinkladze made some nice touches and didn’t miss a pass. He even collected applause from a normally very selfish and lazy Norwegian crowd for one of his trademark dribbling series. He looked like the player of the good old days of the Premiership, probably with the aim of impressing the scouts. Georgia did very well in the first half, they didn’t create a lot but showed very good skill and flair all over the pitch. Honestly, I have never seen the Norwegian national side chase shadows the way they did in this game; even against teams like Italy, Holland or Spain they saw more of the ball. The Georgians were highly impressive! Not so strange that they are being called the “Brazilians of Soviet football”. However, the sad fact with Georgia is that they are too slow in their build ups. Instead of using the space and openings on counter attacks, they slow the play down and want to pass the ball around patiently before they get the opening. It’s nice to watch but very inefficent. If the Georgians were more direct in their style of play I think they’d be one of the best teams in European football, as their skills are second to none. As I say, there wasn’t anything to report from the first half at all. Georgia created a dozen half chances, just lacking the final ball through. Norway had the best chance when the Blackburn defender Henning Berg headed just wide from a corner kick.

The second half was even worse. Kavelashvili came on to play the last 45 mins, replacing Arveladze. The Georgians played the ball like a session of “five a side” in the middle of the pitch. Kinkladze was again doing some acts of skill and spread some great passes around the pitch but he never got a shot on target. Gio seemed to be playing a bit more deep then he’s doing for City, which makes him more involved in the play. He was then substituted after 65 mins, probably as a part of the agreement between City and the Georgian FA. City have obviously made it clear that “our” players were not to play more than a certain number of minutes, as a condition for releasing them for this game.

Believe me, nothing happened in the second half until five minutes from the end, when the newly-recruited Rag Ole Gunnar Solkjaer was fouled by the 18 year old débutant Kobashiavili, who had been having a very good game. The referee had no choice but to give a penalty. Solbakken scored from the spot kick. That was it… Fortunately, I got a free ticket for this game, otherwise I would have felt robbed as it was a very boring game. It was nice to see Kinkladze’s pieces of skill but the rest was miserable. Norway were quite fortunate to win the game as Georgia had most of the possession. Based on what I saw today, I think most sides (incluidng England and Italy) will find it very hard to take points from Georgia down in Tbilisi. They could well be the dark horse of the group.

As for Kavelashvili, he didn’t do a lot. It must be very frustrating to play as a striker for the Georgian national team as they are very reluctant to cross the ball, they love to pass the ball around the penalty area, just to wait for the possibility of making a short pass between the opposition’s defenders. If you think the Italians or Spanish like to keep possesion, you won’t believe what the Georgians are up to.

Kavelashvili worked hard and made some good runs, but then again the service didn’t come. Kinkladze was one of the better players on the pitch, together with the impressive Ketsbaia who looked quite similar to Kinkladze as a player.

If we are to lose Kinkladze, which I belive is more than likely, I think we should have another look to the East European player market to find his replacement. There is plenty of talent to be found for a very low price. My own favourite is a player callled Valentin Bjelkevic who plays for Dinamo Kiev in Ukraine. He’s a Belarus national player and he is probably the player who is most similar to Kinkladze in Eastern Europe. As far as I know, he’s also very interested in joining an English club. He’d be a bargain buy!

Tor-Kristian Karlsen (


I was present at yesterday’s (Sunday 1st) friendly in Oslo, the Georgian side including our boys Gio and Kavelashvili. Surprisingly, neither team showed any real commitment or interest in winning the match (or so it seemed) but Georgia stood out as a technically superior team to the Norwegians – although not too interested in playing the ball forwards. Gio was playing as central midfielder and showed some magical touches but his team-mates didn’t always follow him (sounds familiar?). 20 minutes into the second half he was substituted – maybe due to requests from City regarding Tuesday’s match? Not because of injury or bad playing, that’s for sure. He didn’t really shine though – as we know he can – at least one of his team-mates (whose name I can’t remember) impressed even more.

Kavelashvili came on as a striker substitute in the second half, had some good runs – including one or two good moves with Gio – but didn’t really make any difference and struggled with the strong central defence of Berg (Blackburn) / Johnsen (U****d) which seldom had any serious problems. Average performance.

Norway went ahead on a penalty 3 minutes from time and from then on just secured the lead. Final score: 1-0.

Overall, a boring match – Norway were bad and way below their usual standard of aggressive, not-so-technical but effective football. I was left with a feeling though that Georgia could easily have won if they’d just come forward at the opportunities they were given – instead, they seemed satisfied with a draw and played backwards. Good players – maybe we could buy them all? Most of them still play back home, except from Gio/Kavelashvili and a couple of others in Germany and Cyprus.

Lars Ivar Naess (


Several more possible candidates for the City job have been ruling themselves out over the weekend. First up was Steve McMahon, who said that he would be signing a two-year extension to his contract at Swindon on Monday. On Sunday, Howard Kendall insisted he would be staying at Sheffield United, remaining loyal to chairman Mike McDonald. McDonald, you may remember, was Peter Swales’ choice as his own successor three years ago. Also on Sunday, reports linking Kenny Dalglish with the post of Director of Football at Liverpool were denied by Roy Evans.

A possible candidate from within Maine Road is caretaker manager Asa Hartford, who could be considered for the post if he can get City back on the winning track. “It’s up to him to prove he can handle a job like this and get the team playing well” said chairman Francis Lee.

Meanwhile, manager of Simply Red and well-known City fan Elliot Rashman denied a report in the Sunday Mirror that he was heading a consortium of Manchester businessmen with £40 million to invest in the club. He did however, say that he would see what interest there was in the Manchester business community for such a move.

The Mole


Radio report this morning suggests that Franny’s off to London (30/8/96) – to persuade George Graham of his grave mistake!

Gary Hallsworth (Gary.Hallsworth@BRITCOUN.ORG)


I read in one of the Sunday papers that Franny was thinking of quitting as chairman because his ‘three years and nothing won so I’ll get out’ is nearly up. This leaves the way for:

  1. The Arabs who want to invest £50 million
  2. A Consortium who want to invest £30 million, and
  3. numerous others who want to see the club back where it should be.

Come on Franny, if you love the club that much then let go and give it a fighting chance.

P.S. Cool that Ball has gone. Cryuff for manager?

Andy Holgate (


Reading the Times this morning (no we do not usually get it, but they are doing an offer of 2 weeks free copies. Also – their sports coverage, esp. football, is mostly better than the Guardian’s, which can be flaky at the best of times), the current rumours are:

  1. Rioch also does not want the job
  2. Jackie Charlton is not and never was in the running.
  3. Bassett and Danny Wilson of Barnsley are being targetted.
  4. Major political infighting behind the scenes in the boardroom, with some factions attempting to oust FHL.

Conclusion. Expect it to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.

Another thought. You have to say that Franny showed extremely bad judgement in choosing Alan Ball. I love the guy, and was so relieved when he ousted Swales, but he really ballsed ( ;->> ) it up when he chose AB.

Blue? You’re not kidding.

Jeremy Poynton (


According to the MUEN the deal being offered by City will make the new manager one of the wealthiest in the country, plus having ‘a pot of cash’ for the transfer market. If this is true

  1. Why did Graham turn us down, and
  2. Why shouldn’t we get Dalglish or even Cruyff as we seem to have the funds to pay them?

Thomas Rance (


Firstly GMR reports that Asa Hartford will take charge of first team matters for the Charlton game.

Howard Kendall is the latest manager to rule out a move to Maine Road. This list now includes George Graham and Steve McMahon. It is hinted that if Asa performs well then the job might be his.

It was also reported that Alan Ball turned down a bid (no fee was mentioned) from Bolton for Nigel Clough. Ball was also supposed to have made a bid for a Stoke player.

The rumours have resurfaced again that the manager of Simply Red (Elliot Rashman) is to head a consortium that is prepared to make a £40 million takeover bid for City. This has been rejected by Rashman but he has said that he is hoping to speak to people who want to inject money into City (this was the same position as the last time this rumour surfaced).

Salford Blue, Tony Farrar (


This was quoted in the Observer this Sunday, in their Sporting “Quotes of the Week”; it’s Freddy Pye, on Franny …

In my opinion Francis Lee is the most pompous, arrogant and conceited individual I’ve ever met. He has treated me badly. I don’t like it and I want the fans to know what is really going on.

Well, that’s good to know, that all is harmonious behind the scenes … anyone (Steve B?) able to tell us what ‘really is going on’ there?

Also reassuring to see that no-one wants to manage us, and that we are now looking at Asa Hartford, the man who broke the mould of modern football management with his breathtaking record at Shrewsbury and Stockport, getting the job if he ‘can get us winning again’.

Reported in the Sun sports pullout today, teaboy at Oldham saying that whilst everyone there thought Graham Sharp’s time was up, they didn’t want him to go yet in case … yes, you got it … the board appointed Alan Ball.

Jeremy Poynton (


More on the new manager speculation: neither Dave Bassett nor Howard Kendall have been contacted about the vacancy, nor will they be according to City chairman Francis Lee. Asa Hartford has also ruled himself out after Francis Lee stated yesterday that the current caretaker boss would be considered if things went well. “I have always been happier working with players and coaching. I am prepared to take my chances with the new boss, whoever it is. I have a contract as assistant manager here and I want to continue with it when things settle down again.”

Barnsley’s chairman said today that he had not been approached by City about Danny Wilson and he hoped that City would do things the proper way if they were interested in him. Wilson, who of course has a contract with the Tykes, said that it’s all just speculation though he did not deny having an interest in the job – he just laughed it off.

Team news for the Charlton game: Paul Dickov is set to make his full début and Ian Brightwell is doubtful with a strain of some sort.

The Mole


Born 6 Sept 1949

Rioch is a former Scottish international whose management style is based on keeping the players’ families happy (or so he says). The logic is that if the families are happy, the players themselves will be happy and therefore give 100% commitment. Having said that, he is reported to be a little abrasive, even abusive with his playing staff; he resigned his first managerial post at Torquay in 1984 after deliberately kicking a player during training.

As a player, Rioch was a determined midfield fighter for the ball and used it well when he won it. An excellent midfield player, he captained Scotland into the 1978 World Cup with players like Hartford, Gemmel, Jordan and Dalglish. At club level he played for Luton, Aston Villa, Derby and Everton.

Rioch’s Managerial record:

Torquay                 1982-1984
Middlesbrough           1986 - 1990
1986-87  Runners-up div 3, promoted to div 2
1987-88  Playing in div 2, promoted to div 1
1988-89  Playing in div 1, relegated to div 2
1989-90  Playing in div 2
Millwall                1990-1992
1990-91  Playing in div 2
1991-92  Playing in div 2, promoted to div 1
Bolton Wanderers        1992-1985
1992-93  Division 2 Champions, promoted to div 1
1993-94  Playing in div 1
1994-95  Promoted to Premiership (through play-off with Reading)
         Runners up in League Cup.
Arsenal                 1995-1996

After Rioch’s well publicised sacking from Arsenal on 12 August 96, Peter Hill Wood, the Highbury Chairman blamed poor communication for Rioch’s dismissal. He hardly talked to us said Hill Wood. This was unlikely to be the only reason behind the dismissal; the board were allegedly unhappy with Rioch’s reluctance to sign new players, this despite signing Dennis Bergkamp and David Platt for a total of £12.25 million during the close season. As Arsenal had decided to handle all transfer deals at board level since George Graham’s departure, it seems that neither the Board nor Rioch were comfortable with the arrangement that was in place.

Stephen Bolton (


It’s Friday and I’ve just returned from a week in Manchester. The plan was to go to Stoke, Bolton then the home game against Charlton. Due to changing dates I managed the Stoke game.

Stoke vs. City

To be honest we were not that bad; the first half we collapsed a few times in defence and they scored. The second half should have seen us win but once again we lacked the killer punch. Dickov played well and looks promising, Bad news player was Clough; he doesn’t seem to have the heart or the pace, Summerbee once again drifted in and out of the match and Gio was marked out for most of the game.

Maine Road

Decided to visit Platt Lane on Tuesday – no training, lots of press and waste of time. All sorts of rumours are flying around as to who will be manager – but maybe Book/Hartford could do the job. Personally I’m glad it wasn’t Graham. Rioch would probably sod off if we got promoted, Dalglish looks on soccer as a hobby so I don’t really know who to go for.

Thursday, back to Platt lane and guess what – no training. They were all going to a gym. Still managed to set the kids loose with autograph books and they got most of the team. Edghill was there but not changed so I guess he wasn’t training. Gio’s car is nice (P100 GEO is the reg).

Rumour control has it that Gio will go very soon to bring in the cash to buy new players – I think we can go up but we need a manager who can fire the team up and motivate them.

Keep the Faith, Andy Birkin (


At last. To be honest I never really gave him a chance, and I am delighted to see the back of him. The problem at Maine Road is not just the manager. Frannie Lee, as great a Blue as he may be, is not the quality Chairman we hoped he would be. Yes, I was one of the many who demanded Swales to go from the Kippax, but what we got in his place is a nostalgic ego.

What kind of manager can work with Lee and produce results? If his best mate cannot, who can? Certainly not Graham (although I would have loved to see him as the new boss), and Jack Charlton can surely only spell disaster, a real clash of the egos. If Rioch couldn’t work with Dein at Arsenal, I do not think that there is much hope for him at City.

Although it would never happen, it would be great to see Peter Reid return. He now has a good deal of experience, fought a promotion, is loyal to tried and tested players, and is even beginning to build quality football.

So, let’s all wait and see. And whilst we wait we are probably going to have to wave goodbye to Kinky. He will join a long list of recent quality we have been forced to let go of in the past five years, like Michael Hughes, Andy Hinchcliffe, Colin Hendry and Garry Flitcroft.

It looks like it is going to be another long season.

Miles Webber (


Too much emphasis is being placed upon the selection of a new manager. Too many fingers pointing blame at the Chairman, who is absolutely no relation (thought I’d get that one cleared up early). Too many opinions on which players should stay, which players should leave and which players should be sought. Everyone appears to be missing the big issue. Which seems even more true the longer the catastrophe we’re witnessing goes on.

“Brother, can you spare a dime!” A popular little ditty from the great depression of the 1930’s, (get it). I’ve been away a while, correct me if I’m wrong, but since City started wearing the word “Brother” across their chests, things seen to have gone horribly wrong. A company made famous by the production of Knitting Machines would seem very appropriate at the present time, but hardly the image we really want. Is everyone really missing this, or have we all secretly hoped that “Heineken” would sign some closed season deal? “Oasis” did voice some desire to have their names emblazened across the sky blue: not a good idea at all. The dictionary says:- “Oasis – A fertile area in the desert.” That would obviously translate as a long time in soccer’s wilderness.

This isn’t the only case of “Advertising Revenue Shirt Emblems”, known affectionately as Arse! Stretford United seem to do pretty good business with “Sharp”. Chelsea had a horrible time with “Commodore 64” and Oldham Athletic hit an all time high with “Lees” (sorry, couldn’t resist that one!). I think some serious time should be spent contemplating this issue, I feel success will always pass us by whilst were just a bunch of knitting machines and second rate typewriters. Any ideas?

My choice for manager has to be Jack Duckworth. There’s been no messing about while he’s been at “The Rover’s Return”. The chairman? I still have very fond memories of the 60’s and 70’s, so I’m happy the way things are. The team? NASA has found some kind of life form on one of the moons of Jupiter, this may be the only place we haven’t tried to find new foreign talent. yet!

A last thought, “Les Miserables”!

Dave Lees, Grand Cayman (


I feel confused, lost, like we don’t know where we are going… first I felt relieved that Ball had left the club and the thought that out there are several unemployed managers who would love to come and work at the Academy… George Graham, Bruce Rioch, Jack Charlton, Johann Cruyff Kenny Dalglish, Dave Bassett…

I was rubbing my hands at the thought of Graham marshalling the defence and City going undefeated for the rest of the season… but that lasted only 2 days… oh well who’s next?

Bruce Rioch? Maybe someone can tell me why he was sacked by Arsenal (we never found out down under). I’m not sure about him, it feels like he would always be seen as the second choice and he wouldn’t get a fair run from the fans.

Whereas Cruyff: I don’t think he would want to come to England unless he was in the Premier League. However, he would be the kind of manager who would be able to keep Gio at Maine Road. I really don’t think he would stay more than a couple of years though, and then we would be back where we started.

I think you would have to put Bassett and Charlton in the same group, both like the direct approach. If we still had big Niall I think either of these guys could get us up in the first year, but we don’t have Niall and Gio wouldn’t be played to his full potential.

Kenny, well we know what he is like under pressure. I’m not sure he would last 5 minutes at Maine Road if the going got tough.

So where does that leave us?

I think that any manager that comes to Maine Road has to keep Kinkladze if only to keep the fans off his back for long enough to get us moving in the right direction. We have some good players but they need to be motivated by someone who has their respect. They have to realise now that if they dont start winning games they are the ones who will be chastised by the fans. Ball isn’t there now to take the heat.

So here I am, confused, lost, I don’t know where to turn, it’s Friday and I won’t know who we have as manager until I get to work on Monday. Whoever it is we all have to give him a chance to get things right and support the team.

Fingers crossed!

One last thought: Steve McMahon as player manager?

Matthew Spence (


I have just read the latest edition of MCITVA and would like to join in with everybody else in celebrating seeing AB leave.

Like many, I wasn’t best impressed at his appointment, but was prepared to give him a chance, so held my tongue since the one thing we need at Maine Road is stability. However, like many out there, I was at last season’s slaughter by Liverpool and this season’s nightmare at Bolton (and many others besides) and have been questioning Mr Lee’s sanity, or at least his judgement.

As for my view on the next manager to be, George Graham would be number one, however this is not to be. As for ‘Big Jack’, does nobody remember what happened to him at the likes of Newcastle? That’s before he enjoyed relative success with Ireland (although never actually winning anything).

Somebody like Rioch is, I feel, best suited to this job. He got Bolton up, even though his team were one of the dirtiest in division one at the time; ‘Kick the opposition and run’ seemed to be his approach (not the pretty football Bolton would have you believe), one which works, not only in the Nationwide but also the Premier, so you can’t really knock it if it works.

As for some other comments, such as by Svenn Hanssen, they seem nothing more than xenophobic, not as you’d expect from someone with his name. And the formation was as bad as any bloody ‘Christmas Tree’ s***e that AB came up with, lacking width, and probably any real penetration.

My own team would probably resemble Scum, who though I despise, they are still one of the strongest squads around.

I think it was in the MuEN, last Wednesday, that Hince (?), suggested such an approach, with Gio playing a Cantona like rôle, and a five man midfield. This would give Gio a free-roaming rôle and plenty of bodies in midfield to cover for the gaps this would probably leave. After all, his strength isn’t in chasing back and making tackles; that rôle was Flip-Flop’s, and now should be Lomas’.

With Buzzer and Buster out wide, even though they waste crosses, some will fall well, simply by the laws of probability, and we might stop the opposition from attaching by taking the game to them, as City have never had a good defence, not even in the heady days of the seventies. The only time we look halfway decent is attacking and taking the game to opposition.

Anyhow that’s the last of my ramblings other than to hope we make an appointment soon, and that he to is given time to prove himself.

Mark Jones (


Ball’s sacking

About time! This man has almost destroyed our club. He has relegated us, sold some of our best talent, Coton and Flitcroft, and was prepared to sell Lomas. He has bought donkeys like Frontzeck, Clough and Creaney. There is zero morale, no team pattern – it’s a complete mess. He should never be let near a football club again – except Man U!.

George Graham

It is clear now that G.G. used Man. City as a publicity stunt to place himself in the shop window for any Premier League chairman thinking about changing his manager. G.G. has taken the p**s out of Man. City and everyone associated with it – so that includes you. Cheers George I hope you rot in hell.

The Future

As we all know this is a crucial time for Man. City. If Franny gets it wrong again we will disappear into nationwide s***e forever. If he appoints another small-time loser like Bassett, what interest or optimism will be generated – None. We need a big name but can we trust the likes of Dalglish [if he’d come]. If things went wrong for his beloved Liverpool how long would it be before he takes off à la Kendall. We need someone who is going to be around long enough to build us a dynasty, a youth policy, a first team! Will the board have the foresight to look beyond the managers’ merry-go-round and whoever is out of a job at the moment? Why not look in Europe [Cruyff – yes please] or Scotland. Someone who is going to generate interest and enthusiasm for the club. Let’s face it, we’re not going to make a £15 million signing to do it.

OK cheers for listening.
MCFC forever.

Steve Cafferty (


First of all many thanks for your efforts which I always appreciate – it’s an excellent forum but what else would you expect from the Blues? Anyway, there was an unintentional ‘Why Blue’ included in last night’s MEN so I’ve scanned the text in for you as I quite enjoyed reading it.

The MEN Metro (a free rag) has just dropped through the door suggesting that we should reinvite Judas Kendall to save us – failing that we might do worse with an approach to Dave Bassett. At least the new Kippax Stand is just high enough to view some of the play he’d introduce. I’m quite relieved that we didn’t get get George Graham – his first move would have been to sell Kinky (imagine the backhander that could have commanded) and then bring in Donkey Adams to bolster the defence and Ian ‘kiss my arse’ Wright to skip about up front.

It could only happen to City couldn’t it!

The fan who was born to bank on the Blues: Howard Davies

Manchester Evening News, 29th August 1996

In December 1949, a couple of months before I was born, my father wrote, with typical foresight, to his closest friend, asking if he would agree to act as godfather to the imminent Infant. By return, the friend replied that he would be delighted to serve, but on one condition: that the child, if a boy, was to be brought up as a Manchester City supporter.

This was an important proviso, since my parents’ was a “mixed” marriage in Mancunian terms: he Blue, she Red. My godfather, a West Brom fan from 40 years before Skinner and Baddiel made that unfashionable, had a decent man’s horror of Old Trafford. This documented exchange makes me one of the relatively few Manchester City supporters who can claim a record of allegiance longer than their lifespan. And for a brief shining moment in the late 1960’s, as Bell, Lee and Summerbee destroyed defences from Newcastle to Southampton, and George Heslop stood rocklike at the back, this was a proud boast.

Since 1976, when we last won a trophy (and even then only the League Cup) it has felt rather different – more like a virulent hereditary disease transmitted in the womb, condemning its victim to a life of suffering and remorse. So the events of the past week – two embarrassing defeats at the feet of Bolton and Stoke, and the loss of yet another failed manager – are just the latest twist of the knife.

Not a crisis, not a cathartic moment promising better times around the corner, rather another limp along the road to Accrington Stanley. For being a Manchester City supporter is not quite like other sporting affiliations. It is not an easy row to hoe. So why bother? Why not change horses? However tempting it might seem, I couldn’t do it. I think it’s because there is a perverse satisfaction to be had from Maine Road which keeps me, and others like me, loyal through thick and thin. My sons and I have convinced ourselves that there is something uniquely virtuous about supporting a club which offers so little return. Whoever pins up the teamsheet for our next titanic struggle will have my uncritical support. Because I know that my godfather, alive and wall In Sidmouth, is still watching me, and the condition of his service still stands.

Howard Davies is deputy governor of the Bank of England.

Martin Wakeling (


£10 million from Celtic is a very sizeable offer: a few thoughts.

We’ve seen other clubs and ourselves fail to build a team around one player. Witness the Reds with George Best in the McGuinness/O’farrell days, us with Trevor Francis, Southampton and Letizz etc ad nauseum.

If Kinkladze is to shine he needs a competent bunch around him, who can do two things. Firstly get the ball off the opposition, and get it to him, and then have enough football in them to be able to read and understand what he is going to do next, and get themselves into the positions and space to exploit his talent. There seems to be precious little of either abilities at the moment.

Couple this with the fact that it is relatively easy for an opposition full of cloggers to mark one man out of a game, then really the strategy of gambling the success of the club on one (albeit talented) individual has to be flawed.

Should we take the money? The trouble will be the price on every player we go after will double, though £10 million will go a long way to reducing the Maine Road debt crisis.

All of this needs to be balanced against the impact on gate receipts, If City are playing attractive football, and winning, then they have the potential to sustain gates seen at the Ipswich game. If they are playing poorly then gates and revenue will go down. How much direct influence does Kinkladze have on this?

All in all a difficult decision for the incoming manager. Personally I would take the money; long term he probably doesn’t see his future at Maine Road, and Division 1 is not the place for players who can’t get their heads down and graft.

Fraser Davidson (


So the little man has finally gone, and not before time too. Personally, I’d like to see Kenny come and sort them out – but we don’t have the cash – though Bassett looks as though he’s the new target. The current team would have trouble holding a draw with the local pub Sunday league. Whether their performance recently may have been more to do with their way of easing out Ball we can only guess. However, the big problem is obviously cash. Now, when I heard that Liam had pulled out of the US tour, it did make me wonder whether he was hot-footing it up to Maine Road to give in his CV and offer a large cheque. Given the boys’ vociferous support for the Blues and the money they make (OK house hunting would take priority) you’d think they could just sponsor the club a little and get us back in with a chance.

The fans certainly deserve better than they’re paying for now.

Heidi Pickup (


After George Graham’s little publicity stunt to get his name on the back pages, I think what everyone now knows is that the City job is probably the most difficult job in football.

Whoever is appointed will deserve every penny he gets and I think all City fans must back the new guy all the way. We’ve got to get back to the Premiership this season and we can all play our part. We’ve got to stop getting on individual players’ backs whilst they’re on the field, even if they are crap, and support the team for the full 90 minutes. God knows what must be going through the players’ minds now.

What we can’t forget is that we’ve got two home games coming up which need to be won, new manager or no new manager. If Asa is still in charge let’s support him to the hilt and perhaps for once our support may reap some reward.

For once, we need to accept that the manager needs more than a year or two to get things right. I’m not going to compare Ferguson to Ball, because Ferguson was already a succesful manager when he went to the pit. Ball wasn’t, he was the worst manager in English football and should never have been appointed.

Whether Lee is the right man for the chairman’s job is another question, but once again let’s not ask the question any more because it will only detract us from our real goal, the Premiership.

We’ve got to do it this season, we’ve got to focus on nothing else and we’ve all got to give it 100%. That is unless Lee appoints a complete plank, à la Ball, and if that’s the case forget everything I’ve said above because then the answer must be to get rid of everyone from the Board down and start again from scratch. I can’t cope with another twenty years of this s**t.

Peter Jodlowski (


I was absolutely staggered to read that City had approached Howard Kendall to be their next manager. Just what put the idea into Lee’s head? I never thought the club would stoop that low.

These are pretty desperate times, but the present situation calls for common sense, not rash phone calls to that turncoat. How did Lee expect the fans to take such an appointment? Street parties? Jubilation on the terraces on Tuesday night? I think not. I bet Kendall himself could hardly believe it.

What an absolute fiasco – and City emerge yet again as the nation’s laughing stock. They have absolutely no credibility and give the impression of being in total disarray.

Resorting to asking Kendall to take the job also suggests that Dalglish, Rioch, Bassett, Charlton and all the other so-called big name candidates are out of the frame. So where does that leave us?

City don’t need a money-grabber like George Graham, a has-been like Charlton or someone as untrustworthy as Kendall, but someone on the up, with loyalty, ambition and motivational skills, and who is prepared to die for the club. It’s a pity Niall Quinn is only 30 and is no longer at Maine Road because otherwise I reckon he fits the bill and I believe one day he will do as good a job as Peter Reid has done at City and Sunderland.

Meanwhile, I wish we had a dozen or so Quinns to fill the boardroom seats. The present bunch would do well to match his honesty and commitment to the cause to give the best fans in the business a club with real credibility and a team to be proud of.

Keith Hursthouse (


Phil’s Philosophy

As I sit here 4,500 miles away, sadly lamenting the tragic news from the Academy, only the caustic comments from the entertaining McVittee club keeps me smiling.

It is certainly not the local Cayman Islands cable company that makes me smile coz they show tragically sad episodes from the old TV show Are you being served?

In fact I was so upset with my life last night as I listened to another badly delivered, ill-timed double entendre about Missus Slocombe’s Pussy that it compelled me to contribute to McVitee.

Coupled with the Electronic Telegraph rumour of the return of Howard Kendall, it is time for my erstwhile Blue buddy and myself to search for the home page of Dr. Kavorkian.

Please turn the TV off and save me from this sad old script, same sad old characters that were replaced by even sadder old actors as the years went by.

Just like City really, but unlike the employees of Grace Brothers who disappeared from our screens in 1981. City are still around 15 years later dragging the same tired old script around and the same old stories and the same faces being shoved upstairs to senior management.

I will hand you over to…

Duncan’s Discussion

If I had just woken from a ten year sleep I would hardly notice how long I’d been asleep. If I were to read the back pages of the tabloids then and now:

Manchester City Chairman calls emergency board meeting to draw up short list for new manager.

Back in the days when Wendy Richards was marginally bangable and now today when she looks like an overweight walrus with a water retention problem the backpage MUEN headlines remain the same.

How long can we get away with continually pressing the self destruct button, twenty trophyless years, three relegations, how much more pain can we put ourselves through?

Just look at the line-up of discarded players, e.g.

1.  Coton                Subs:
2.  Beresford            Phelan
3.  Hinchcliffe          White
4.  Hendry               Barrett
5.  Curle                Walsh
6.  Warhurst             D Brightwell (ha ha only joking)
7.  Flitcroft
8.  Sheron
9.  Quinn
10. Bishop
11. Hughes

Depressing eh?

Can you imagine what this lot would do to our newly assembled rag bag of a team? At the time of writing there is no news here in the West Indies of a firm appointment of the new manager.

Please, please not Dave “Harry” Bassett. Why does he always get a mention? What’s Billy McNeill up to these days (just a thought).

We must have done more re-building than Beirut construction workers. One day we may get it right.

I just wish that when I was a little lad of 10 years old jumping on my dad’s back at Wembley on that glorious February afternoon in 1976 that I’d frozen myself for 20 years.

Sorry to act like the Brothers Grimm here but City would not be City without all the trauma and I would not swap them for anything. The worst thing about living away from home is not to be able to get to the Academy; after 20 years as a season ticket holder it is a huge void in your life. Thank God for McVittee and the Internet.

P.S. What about my dad as the new manager? He has no managerial background but he did watch the 1966 world cup on TV.

P.P.S. How about the worst line up?

1.  Siddall                        Subs:
2.  Fleming                        Shinton
3.  David Brightwell               Daley
4.  Vonk                           Baker
5.  Aage Hareide                   Hopkins
6.  Paul Sugrue
7.  Terry Park
8.  Bill Williams
9.  Duncan Davidson
10. David Cross
11. Bodak

What really is so sad about the above line-up is that they just rolled off the tongue with consumate ease, I could carry on for hours if time permitted. Could our lads beat that lot?

Cheers, stay Blue – Duncan

Well thanks Dunc – hand me the gun!

I remember on his departure from the Academy Howard Kendell stating to the press, “Everton is the wife and I am going back to her and City were just an affair” So now we are slags eh for having him back?

I have just seen Young Mr Grace appear with some 19 year old nymph under his arm: what would he say to the City board members? ” You’ve all not done very well!”

Always Blue – Phil and Dunc – The Miss Brahms Fan Club


I must admit that I am at my lowest ebb yet with regards to the fortunes of my beloved Blues. Any hopes which I harboured as to us winning the Championship have long since disappeared.

OK, I knew that we were a bad side in the Premiership (whatever anyone says I cannot think of a worse side than us last year who did not come down with us), but I actually thought we might show ourselves to be a class act in the Nationwide. But no. The team has been shown to consist (with a small number of exceptions) of spineless prima-donnas who couldn’t give a monkeys about the club. Uwe Rösler has declined into an arrogant ‘what am I doing here’ mode. Let’s hope that Ball’s departure will rejuvenate him because frankly he has been garbage lately and seems more interested in diving than scoring.

There is a chronic lack of pace in the side that must be addressed if we are to have any hope of going up. When was the last time you can recall a City player streaking through a static defence to smash home? Not in recent memory I will wager. Dickov looks nippy, but who out of Rösler and the often anonymous Kavelashvili are we going to use to play alongside him?

The worst thing, however, is the general lack of fighting spirit within the side. Of the current side I would say only Lomas, Brown and Symons would ‘die for the cause’. Of course that little s**t sold our most loyal and dedicated player when he sold Niall Quinn. I for one will be giving him a hearty cheer when he returns to Maine Road (assuming Sunderland get relegated!). We have lost a great ambassador for the club, and a player who is ideally suited to scrapping it out with the likes of Taggart and Fairclough.

I think we must now begin to get used to the fact that we are degenerating into a small, debt ridden second rate club. Admittedly the support suggests we are up there with the big boys, but in terms of spending power we are fast falling to the levels of QPR and Bolton, sad as it may be. The fiasco of Alan Ball’s departure confirms that if trophys were given out for cock-ups we would be head and shoulders above the rest. Francis Lee should also shoulder much of the blame for installing a man with such an appalling track record in the first place. Would he appoint somebody of such a low calibre in his toilet paper company?

You would be forgiven for thinking that the club may have learned from its recent mistakes i.e. do not appoint a manager into one of the most difficult jobs in football unless he has a proven track record. But it appears not. Asa Hartford now appears set to take up the reins, Could somebody please refresh my memory with details of his management career and honours. No? I thought not.

It now appears to be a damage limitation exercise regarding the new manager. Rioch is about the best left after Graham’s cynical exercise, but will he want to come back up North when one of his reasons for going to Arsenal was to be nearer to his family?

I fear that this is the club’s last chance. If we don’t get it right this time we will become like Birmingham City pre David Sullivan.

I also get the feeling that Kinklazde is looking increasingly dejected with the quality of the players around him.

Yours very depressed, Paul Cooper (


Well he’s gone. Gone from Maine Road, gone from Manchester and at the last report gone from England (gone to Spain I think). So here we go again, this will be 8 managers in 10 years, now here is a little quiz for all of you out there: how many managers have the following successful teams had in the same time? The Rags, Liverpool, Leeds, Aston Villia, Arsenal, Everton … have you noticed the point yet? Well this I feel is the last chance to get it right. If we don’t get it right this time we will be lucky to end up like the Coventrys, the Wolves the Birminghams of the football world. Yes I did say lucky, because it will not matter how big our gate is on a Saturday, or how many season tickets we sell, or how good our chicken’n’chips are in the restaurants or executive boxes, because no-one will want to play for us, no-one will want to manage us and we will be on the downward slope that will in two or three years take us down to the second division!

So I come to Franny. I, like a lot of fans, sank an extra pint or two when Franny took over. I knew our finance was s**t, but thought with him on the job, with his contacts we would be ok, he would bring in the money we needed. But I am now beginning to worry. Worry enough to go into print and worried enough to take the flak that will come my way. You have to ask yourself how much of a commercial decision it was to appoint Ball in the first place. We must have all heard the one that Ball was not the first choice, but I feel we have to ask who were the others and why did they not want the job then, and why should anyone want the job now? First there was George Graham. We do not need to be in Mensa to guess why he did not get the job and I feel at the time he would have said no anyway, because he would have thought that a bigger club such as say Blackburn who had moved Kenny Dalglish upstairs would come back for him when his ban finished. They still might. Then there was Bruce Rioch, a friend of Franny I am lead to believe, so a person who you would think Franny would have had a little sway with? He had to choose between us and Arsenal; now I know he had a soft spot for the Gunners, but I also get the feeling from what has come out in the press since his “sacking” that he could see getting a lot more money from them than from us.

There it is again: money. Then there was Brian Kidd; well he did play for us, but could anyone see him leaving the Rags with their money and with the chance to take over a team that he and Ferguson had built? So whose head could Franny turn, with the bright lights of Moss side… an old friend… someone who was at a club with possibly less money than us.

Well we all know the answer, but I feel that Franny has now got to be very very honest with both himself and us. Are we in a position to get any of the above and keep them? If Graham comes he is going to want to spend money sooner or later and that will include players’ wages. You cannot expect to get class but pay them next to nothing! We need to know was it Ball or Lee who wanted to cut the wage bill, who really sold Coton, Phelan, Walsh, Flitcroft, Curle and Quinn and signed the likes of Frontzeck and Immel? If we are broke then we cannot and will not get Graham, if we are we need to know and I feel that question will be answered if Rioch becomes manager. He has worked with next to nothing at Bolton and would do a job for us, but would he stay if another club with money comes up next season?

If we are still in a bad way after Franny being in charge for 3 years then we have to stop spending money on the ground and start to spend it where it counts: on the pitch. We also need to know where is all the money that he said he was going to bring into the club. Is it possible that we have all fallen for the same thing as we had before, but presented better? I for one hope not, I hope I am made to eat every one of the words in this letter, but I cannot get rid of the feeling that we may have lost our way once too often and like Wimbledon we now have a reputation that we will never lose, that of the club who always gets it wrong, but don’t you love their supporters?

Tony Hulme (


Full-time score for Sunday, September 1 1996


Full-time scores for Saturday, August 31 1996

PORT VALE               2-0    OXFORD UNITED
READING                 2-2    STOKE CITY

Full-time scores for Wednesday, August 28 1996

BARNSLEY                3-0    READING
STOKE CITY              1-0    BRADFORD CITY

Team                  Played   Won  Drawn Lost     For Against   Points
Stoke City               4      3     1     0       7     4        10
Bolton Wanderers         4      3     1     0       2     1        10
Barnsley                 3      3     0     0       8     2         9
Norwich City             4      3     0     1       5     3         9
Tranmere Rovers          4      2     1     1       6     4         7
Wolverhampton Wanderers  4      2     1     1       5     3         7
Queens Park Rangers      4      2     1     1       6     5         7
Swindon Town             4      2     1     1       5     4         7
Bradford City            4      2     0     2       4     3         6
Portsmouth               4      2     0     2       4     5         6
Ipswich Town             4      1     2     1       9     7         5
Crystal Palace           4      1     2     1       4     3         5
Port Vale                4      1     2     1       4     4         5
Birmingham City          2      1     1     0       5     4         4
Reading                  4      1     1     2       5    10         4
Huddersfield Town        3      1     1     1       4     4         4
Oxford United            4      1     0     3       6     5         3
Manchester City          3      1     0     2       2     3         3
West Bromwich Albion     3      0     2     1       2     3         2
Oldham Athletic          4      0     1     3       5     9         1
Sheffield United         2      0     1     1       4     5         1
Grimsby Town             4      0     1     3       4     8         1
Southend United          4      0     1     3       2    10         1
Charlton Athletic        2      0     1     1       1     3         1

With thanks to Soccernet:Russell Town (


Contributions: Ashley –
Subscriptions: Adam –
Club Questions: Stephen –

Thanks to Miles, Dave, Matthew, Gary, Mark, Steve(x2), Jeremy, Martin,Andy, Fraser, Heidi, Thomas, Andy, Peter, Russell, Keith, Tor-Kristian, TheMole, Tony, Jeremy, Phil and Duncan, Paul, Lars & Tony.

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 #225