Newsletter #246

And the saga continues… Yet another awful performance and for the first time, the crowd turned against Lee and the board.

As for Coppell, the consensus now appears to be that he had, and still has, a complicated personal life, and this was the overwhelming factor in his resignation. Of course, it begs the question of why he took it on in the first place… In fact, Coppell was discussed on a BBC NW programme this evening (Thursday) on a regional programme devoted to the City crisis. No-one seemed to believe (rightly IMHO) that his experience at Maine Road brought about his resignation. The panel consisted of Frizzell, Mr Rose (el presidente), Paul Power, Paul Hince and Debbie Rall. The latter represented (?) the Football Supporters’ Association and is apparently a Blue. Previous to this, we had Elliot Rashman looking very smart and expounding on the financial situation and why Lee and the board have to go. This was interspersed with some fan interviews and jokes from Bernard Manning (quite funny). After this, the panel got down to discussing why we are where we are. Nothing new emerged though Debbie Ralls seemed to claim that most City fans wanted Lee out? The programme was generally OK but in the end had no conclusion or solutions to offer. It finished off somewhat ludicrously with the panel saying who they thought should be manager and giving 4 players they would buy. Maybe not such a bad idea but as the rules specified that money was clearly no object, the whole exercise was utterly pointless.

The volume of traffic on MCIVTA has been quite alarming this last week. For this reason I’m making a change plus I have a plea: this issue is the last to have “thanks to..” at the bottom. This was nice to have, but nowadays it’s just another job to do, so cutting it out will save time. Finally, can everyone who submits an article please give their full name and email address (in brackets) just as it appears at the end of each article. It costs me quite some time to do this but I don’t want to drop it as it helps people contact each other.

Next game, Portsmouth away, Saturday 16th November, 1996


MANCHESTER CITY vs. OXFORD UNITED, Wednesday 13th November 1996

I pulled out all the stops to get to this match, running around for a babysitter and desperately trying to get there on time; in the event I needn’t have bothered as it was a total waste of an evening.

City started off brightly, attacking Oxford who sported a strip which looked uncomfortably like something schoolkids used to be forced to wear for PE, only the plimsolls were missing! Rösler had a good turn and shot which cannoned off the post and Dickov shot into the side netting. We were suckered (yet again!) after 10 minutes or so, when an innocuous cross sailed into the box and our defence was completely static, including Dibble. The ball was slotted home by someone or other – I don’t care – whilst everyone just looked on. The defence must share some of the blame but to me it was an elementary goalkeeping error as the ball landed barely 3 yards out from the goalline.

City were however not deflated and attacked vigorously with a lot of neat passing moves. Our equaliser was down to Kinky though, who ran across the face of the box and delivered a neat pass to the touchline; the ball was passed in for Dickov to slot the ball home. A few minutes later it was 2 after the ball had bounced around the box, Brightwell smashed it into the roof of the net from 15 yards.

For a few minutes I dreamt of scoring 4! Trouble was, I hadn’t counted on another appalling Dibble error; a pretty hopeful punt/cross to the back post saw Dibble rooted to the spot, Jemson nodded the ball back in and it looped over Dibble and into the net. This was schoolboy goalkeeping stuff, he should have either come for the ball or stayed on his line; in the end he was caught in no-man’s land and paid the price.

City had several chances to go ahead, the best ones falling to Dickov and Rösler who both fired over from about 10 yards out.

The second half was embarassing; City couldn’t string 2 passes together and at times the ball didn’t touch the ground for minutes on end. Oxford had a good chance to go ahead when a cross found one of their strikers – I still don’t care who – completely unmarked 5 yards out, but luckily his header hit the post. We were terrible, and the logical thing to do seemed to be to make some substitutions so, what do we get: nothing ’til 10 minutes from time and then Whitley for Dickov! This was booed loudly and then Dickov was given great applause as he ran off! Fortunately, I missed the final humiliation (their winner) as I had to leave due to the babysitter – in many ways I’m glad. The team were so bad that I’d kick 7 of them out and replace them with reserves, they couldn’t possibly do worse.

Final score: 2-3

On the way back I don’t think I’ve ever felt so down about City, make no mistake, Oxford are a very poor side indeed, in fact, their goalie looked almost as bad as Dibble. Right now, my depression has lifted and I just feel plain angry. I have just switched on Teletext and apparently the fans were calling for Lee’s and the board’s heads – there was a mass exodus after their goal was scored.

Where we go from here God only knows. We have a crap team, no money, shareholders who refuse to budge, and an unproven (caretaker?) manager with a poor managerial record: relegation is a distinct possibility.

Onto the team:

Dibble (3) He made one good save but virtually gifted the opposition both their opening goals. What’s more, he then began coming for crosses which were not his, flapping at them and getting us into even more difficulties. Things were so bad that he received enormous cheers for doing such mundane things as picking the ball up from a headed backpass!
Rodger (6) Looked a little out of place at left back but showed skill and commitment.
Summerbee (4) Absolutely hopeless, he can’t run, he can’t get past his man, and he doesn’t care. I lost count of the times he should have run into space but just ambled about instead.
McGoldrick (5) You can’t play a sweeper when he has no confidence in his goalkeeper. He also made several very bad passes, the Maine Road disease seems to have afflicted him as well.
Symons (5) Poor positional play, he looks a shadow of his Premiership days, maybe he’s covering for Wassall?
Wassall (4) In defence he gets the ball and boots it aimlessly up field, in attack he gets the ball and immediately passes it backwards. On no account should we buy this guy. Bring on Big Al!
Brightwell (7) Great goal and 100% commitment. He faded badly towards the end but that’s probably a fitness problem.
Clough (4) No movement, no tackling, but plenty berating others around him. This guy is frankly rubbish, I have absolutely no idea why he’s even at the club.
Kinkladze (7) He made several good runs but by the end he was also putting passes astray. I’m embarrassed that he plays for us. How can anyone with his talent bear it? He must surely go before Xmas?
Dickov (7) I still think that Dickov will do well when we finally work out how to keep the ball on the ground and get him a good partner. He ran all night and was rightly applauded off, though why the hell he was substituted is beyond me.
Rösler (4) Why is this man in the team? He is plain awful, even when he gets the ball in the box he either blasts it over or hits it straight at the goalkeeper. Perhaps it’s written into his contract that he can’t be dropped? I certainly can’t see any other reason!

As you can probably tell, I’ve just about had it waiting for an improvement, what we need are changes now, and big changes. It is patently obvious that half the team are rubbish, surely it doesn’t take a quantum leap in logic to drop them and give some youngsters a chance?

Stay Blue…

Yours, angrily, Ashley


We approached the game with a sense of trepidation and for the first 10 or fifteen minutes we looked by far the better side and then… the road cone posing as a goalkeeper was beaten by a cross(?) which an elderly, disabled, blind, deaf sheep would have saved without any difficulty.

Oxford looked poor and in rapid succession we were back on terms and in the lead; the biggest noises were Dibble’s continual screams of Away Away Awawy at each attack. I am sure this inspires confidence in the defence!

I commented on this just as Dibble’s complete lack of movement gifted Oxford another… if Dibble were Japanese he would go home, get his sword and do the decent thing; sadly there isn’t a history of Hari Kari amongst the Welsh.

The outfield players’ heads went down, Dibble served no purpose; in the Gents at half time a Punter said “Dibble couldn’t catch aids off a rent boy” – he was right.

The second half was equally disappointing, long balls punted up to the vertically challenged Dickov bore little fruit, the occasional string of passes amounting to nowt, with nobody up front of any quality. Holes appeared in midfield, the crowd grew restless and then they scored again from a goalmouth scramble. The ball went straight over Dibble’s head and straight into the net – even Grobbelaar could have made it look good.

It was a farce; if I ever performed as badly as Dibble in any job I would walk away but no, there is no pride there, no decency. Just keep taking the 3 or 4K per week.

It is obscene; Neal looked just as clueless; the left back Rodger was obviously knackered and yet with 8 or 9 minutes to go he took Dickov off and brought Whitley on … a breath of fresh air and yet how long before his enthusiasm is drained? We then had Brown summoned to the bench and readied for action… then Kavelashvili came on with 2 minutes to go. If it wasn’t so bizarre it would have been funny.

I stood and booed Dibble off the pitch along with the rest of the remaining fans in the Main Stand. I have watched Manchester City since I was 7. I am now 35. I cannot think of a worse display ever!

After the game, fans protested against the Chairman. They should have lynched half the team.

As for Dibble, Stevie Wonder would have played better. I don’t know what to say – where is Immel?

Ian Ferguson (100145.1110@CompuServe.COM)


To all you people who didn’t go to the Oxford match last night, I’ve just got one thing to say: You lucky gits!

After the match, a couple of hundred of us City fans stood outside the main reception of the Main Stand. A few people were shouting “Lee out” which I thought was pretty pointless. More useful chants were “Where’s your money Francis Lee?”, “Sack the Board”, and “We’re s**t and we’re sick of it” (also shouted with great gusto during the match).

As for the match itself, well the result says it all. I even ended up feeling something close to pity for Dibble. Let’s face it, it wasn’t entirely his fault and he got booed every single time someone back-passed to him in the final stages of the second half (and cheered sarcastically whenever he managed to actually pick the ball up and keep hold of it). I know he is completely useless, but the rest of the defence is too. What the hell has happened to Kit Symons? Taking Paul Dickov off was unpopular too. I heard someone shouting to Phil Neal “Ring Steve Coppell and ask him if you can make a substitution!” God, we’re a laughing stock.

The best bit about the match was a lone fan walking on the pitch to protest to (I think) McGoldrick and Clough. You could see him talking to them and he got the biggest cheer of the night. I felt like running on and slapping the players around myself. Unfortunately, he was soon ‘escorted off’ by two coppers to great cheers from the (dwindling) crowd. There were about 24 thousand there last night, but they’ll be lucky to maintain figures over 20 thousand at this rate.

Anyway, I can’t be arsed thinking about it any more. Can anyone see any way out of this desperate situation we’re in?

Yours incoherently, Christine Haynes (


Two very obvious questions were being voiced by all and sundry coming away from Maine Road after the match. Why oh why is Kave not getting a run and will Clough, Dibble and Summerbee ever play for City again? They must be bemused themselves as week after week they’re s***e… and week after week they’re in the team.

There was no movement at all in midfield, no width. no pattern, no nothing, all reinforced by an almighty lack of confidence. One fan was moved to go onto the pitch to ask the question (mainly to Clough), just WTFIGO? Stewards and police were slow to apprehend him cos they wanted answers as well.

As for team selection… Rodger at left back, McGoldrick at right, with a loan player at the heart of the defence? No wonder they were s***e!

Big changes are needed for Saturday. Clough, Dibble and Sumerbee out (for good?), Whitley, Kave and Brown in, along with the return of Lomas and with Phillips at least on the bench as an option, and who knows?

Finally, anyone who believes that Euro ’96 passed off relatively peacefully (okay apart from the Germany match) should’ve been watching Soho stories on BBC2 this week. Amazing scenes of mob violence in the West End of London! I almost felt some sympathy for the boys in blue, except for the Welsh copper who just lurved being on the telly!

Paul Monaghan (


This morning it was reported on GMR Radio that Howard Wilkinson if offered the manager’s job at city would kindly accept it.

B S Aaron (


City have extended Darren Wassall’s loan period by a month, to the maximum 3 months allowed until the league’s rules. Alan Kernaghan is expected to be fit again sometime this month, and with the imminent (?) arrival of Kakhaber Tskhadadze, I doubt that City will sign him.

The Mole


I was there when…

The morning of Friday 8th November seemed to be a pleasant, sunny Autumn morning as I drove into the car park at the Platt Lane training complex. Paul, the groundsman, was busy sweeping up the Autumn leaves, many supporters were eagerly awaiting the arrival of a Stoke City team to play our reserves and Mike Sheron was already here and changed. Those of the first team squad who were not on international duty were training with Neal, Book and Hartford.

All was picture of normality and then the first hint came. One of the lads said that GMR had announced that a special Press Conference was to held at Maine Road at 12.00 noon. The speculation was of a take-over, new money coming into the club or the end of Umbro sponsorship and someone even through in the line “perhaps Coppell is resigning and going to Blackburn”, this comment being treated with disdain. “He’s not that kind of a guy, to do that to us after only a month.” One of the Platt Lane staff cycled in on his mountain bike with a worried look on his face. A mystery informant had said that it was “bad and sad” news. Speculation rose to fever pitch; “Had someone connected with the club died?”, “Were we in the hands of the liquidators?”, or worse still “Had we sold Kinkladze to Liverpool?” Everyone crowded round a few radios in the car park; supporters, players and staff were together.

As the news was received there was a stunned silence. “Coppell has resigned”. “Overwhelming pressure”. “Medical advice”. Neither the players or staff who were with us knew anything about the resignation and looked visibly stunned. It was just as I remembered people’s faces in 1939 when Chamberlain announced the start of World War 2, a mixture of disbelief and sadness. City were once again plunged into turmoil.

Personally I feel very sad. Listening to Coppell on the radio he genuinely sounded like a man nearing a breakdown. Could it be that 33 days at City caused his problems? I doubt it. I honestly thought that for once we had actually got the right man for the job, now Phil Neal takes over.

The king is dead; long live the king… for a while anyway?

Neale Hayward-Shott (


He are the known details of Barry Silkman’s playing career as well as some interesting snippets:

Fee     Club            Terms   Date    Apps.   Sub.    Goals
-       Fulham          Amat
-       Wycombe         Amat
-       Wimbledon       Amat
-       Barnet          Cont
-       Hereford Utd    Cont    08/74   18      19      2
-       Crystal Pal.    Cont    08/76   40      8       7
53,000  Plymouth Arg.   Cont    10/78   14      0       2
-       Luton Town      Loan    02/79   3       0       0
75,000  Man City        Cont    03/79   see below
-       Macc. Tel Aviv  Loan    01/80   0       0       0
5,000   Brentford       Cont    07/80   14      0       1
20,000  QPR             Cont    10/80   22      1       2
-       Grays Athletic  Loan    -
15,000  Leyton Orient   Cont    09/81   133     7       14
-       Southend Utd    Cont    07/85   38      2       1
-       Crewe Alex.     Non-C   09/86   1       1       0
-       Staines Town
-       Wingate and Finchley

City career:

Début: 31/03/79 vs. Ipswich Town away

                Appearances     Sub.    Goals
League          19              -       3
FA Cup          -               -       -
League Cup      2               -       -
Europe          -               -       -
Reserves        13              -       1
LSC             -               -       -
MSC             -               -       -
Other           2               -       -

Silkman was groomed by Malcolm Allison at Plymouth Argyle; MCFC paid for him in instalments as he had a knee injury. He scored on his début, a game which also saw the début of Nicky Reid. He went to Israel on loan but jetted back as soon as he learned that he was eligible to be called up into the Israeli Army!

At City he was a racehorse owner and by the late 1980’s he had become a successful greyhound trainer. He is also a players’ agent and plays in charity games.

Many thanks to John Maddocks for this interesting information


Presumably the Georgian journalists who re-arranged Trevor’s nose didn’t like being referred to as “the Russia”?

Martin Styles (


I think this is my first submission to MCIVTA since embarking on this business trip to Houston, Texas some 5 months ago. What a 5 months it has been for City – unfortunately completely for the wrong reasons. When I left Singapore to come here, Alan Ball had just finished a visit there, and I remember writing to MCIVTA stating that I had a new-found respect for the guy. Well, that lasted all of 3 or 4 games! The rest you all already know and I won’t depress you all by exhuming it all over again.

On Coppell, I had a discussion with an avid Palace fan over here when we looked like we were getting Harry Bassett. I asked him whether he thought Coppell would take over at Palace. He said “No way, he can’t handle the stress – that’s why he quit the job before.” This same guy was gob-smacked when Coppell took the City job – which is now probably the most stressful job in English Football (apart from the netting in the goal Schmeichel is defending). Don’t chairmen check these things out before entrusting the whole ship in a person? Pity though, I liked Coppell and had a good feeling about City under his guidance.

Onto Houston – never met another City fan, lots of Texans wearing red though (surprise! – although it doesn’t go well with cowboy boots). Football coverage is absolutely pathetic and I cannot for the life of me see the game taking off here with the current exposure it is getting. Women’s sarcar (I think that’s what they call it?) gets quite a bit of press though – not surprising as they have a very impressive national team that would give our Blues a run for their money at present. Uwe wouldn’t know what hit him! Anyway, thanks to the Richmond Arms pub for supplying me with Satallite footy, Boddingtons and a fry-up each Saturday and Sunday morning (ever had Boddies at 9am – I have!), MCIVTA and my trusty Sony shortwave radio for keeping me sane in this football wilderness. Also to the Oilers, as with Phil Lines in the last issue of MCIVTA – I was attracted to the sky blue colours and their irresistable ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, aaahhh just like home. My favourite moment here was at the Richmond Arms pub when Newcastle played U*d. My dad (a real-life Rag fan who is actually (get this) from Manchester! – and you thought this life form(?) was extinct ;-)) was over visiting at the time, so we went down, got our Boddies (it was a late kickoff at 10am local time – so it was OK), and sat down with a menagarie of Rag merchandise draped over the majority of southern drawling locals in attendance. Even my dad said they looked daft! The first goal was scored and everyone in the pub not wearing red cheered heartily while the Reds complained vehemently (including dad) that the ball wasn’t completely over the line. The wonders of modern technology in the form of a zoomed-in freeze frame of the ball clearly over the line soon shut them up. The rest is pleasant history, except that to give my dad credit, he applauded Ginola’s goal. Dad and Leo are among the few Rag fans I’ve come across who would have done something like this. I suppose the fact that they’re from Manchester has something to do with it. Also, to dad’s credit he has always maintained that City are his 2nd favourite team and he likes to see them do well. I’m afraid I can’t really say the same for me and U*d – does this make me a bad person?

Anyway, I return to Singapore on Saturday and must say that I’ve enjoyed my time in the U.S. of A. I will try to get together with Mike passing through from NZ, and Nizam before I continue my travels. Before the end of the year I will spend time in Hongkong, South Korea, Taiwan and New Zealand – so if there are any mcvitees in any of these countries who want to get together for some blue-talk and beer, please drop me a line.

Steve Slack (


I can confirm that Simon Hill the sports presenter on BBC World Service is a Blue as he works across the corridor from me and he’s not alone in that. As you can imagine, all nationalities are here in this building but of the three Man Utd fans I know of in the building, one is from Manchester, one from Bristol and one from Hackney and she supported Arsenal four years ago.

Speaking of Arsenal, rumours down here are that Kinky is top of Arsene Wenger’s shopping list with a £5 million bid waiting for when Gio has had enough of us (well it was in the Sun actually).

All a bit of a shame about Coppell really. I was about to suggest “…and after all, you’re my Steve Coppell…”

Trevor Brooking does not work in this building.

Yours Blue (there are more of us than you think), Jim Simmons (


Cue Victor Meldrew – “I don’t believe it!” I recently popped into my local Tesco here in that well known suburb of Manchester: Cirencester (?) I was completely gobsmacked.

Not by the usual Rag memorabilia (Ryan Giggs toilet roll etc.); this has been around for some time now, not by the Rag cakes. You can get Newcastle, Leeds and Chelsea (other “local” teams obviously) as well, but guess which one was sold out…

But by the bloody “Manchester United – double winners (yeuch!) – Chardonnay”, only £4.99 per bottle. No doubt the contents are as tasteless as the concept. Rag wine! The worst thing was the spelling – on the label they missed the “h” out of whine 😉

Bitter? Me? Naaaahhh.

Andy Longshaw (


The next scheduled Internet Blues match will take place against the Internet Altrincham team, on Sunday 17th November (yes this Sunday); the pitch has been booked for 3:00-4:30, at the Armitage Centre. So everybody who’s interested in playing let me know. It’ll cost you a whole pound (or slightly more if less turn up). Don’t forget the pitch at the Armitage is an astroturf pitch, so no really long footie studs. Also make sure you bring your own kit.

One apology, Paul Burton (Alty team) may not be able to supply a full compliment of players; if that’s the case then we may need some volunteers to play for Altrincham (better than playing for the Rags).

Martin Ford (


To whom is may concern, please note that the next time you feel you have to vent your feelings on the “team” (and I use this term in its broadest sense) the song “We’re s**t and we’re sick of it” has now been changed.

This is due to a complaint I have received from a Miss Helena Murtagh. Her complaint is that we (that is to say the City Fans) are not in fact s**t, but are the best in the world and it is in fact the “team” and board that are in fact s**t.

Her complaint has been upheld and from this day forward the above song/chant has been changed to :- “They’re s**t and we’re sick of it”. Any person or persons singing/chanting to the old song we be locked in a dark room with a tape of the Oxford game and a tape of Mr F. Lee telling them that “things will get better and if we are not in a better state after 3 years than when he took over he would stand down.”

Tony still Blue, but don’t know why Hulme (


Manchester City 2 Andy Dibble 3

City lined up with Dibble in goal, electing to play with his hands tied behind his back to make the game more exciting. Kinkladze, and 9 members of the public picked at random, and given sky blue shirts, made up the rest of the team. Oxford lined up as follows:

                      Dibble   Dibble   Dibble   Dibble
                      Dibble   Dibble   Dibble   Dibble
                               Dibble   Dibble

And you all know the rest…

Whilst watching the game on teletext, and listening to Gillin’ham beating Coventry at the end of Trevor Brookin’s Football Night, I was by chance reading the Guardian’s G2 supplement. In this, two pages were devoted to a profile of one Stephen Boler, who is presently setting up a wild-life sanctuary in, I think, Namibia. The article pointed out that his personal wealth is circa £120 million, making him the 151st most wealthy person in Britain, and that he is shortly set to nearly double this when one of his companies is floated on the Stock Exchange.

Yes … you know what is coming. Why is he not prepared to invest any of this money in City – even if it was to float our loans so we don’t have to pay the huge interest payments which, it seems, are crippling us? I can only think that we have a real problem behind the scenes in the boardroom.

Why is the club not straight with us? It seems that all we ever hear is the same old bulls**t; I gather that Franny got the bird at the end of last night’s game, and I am not surprised. I’m afraid that just leaving the management situation as it is, with Phil Neal in charge, is not good enough.

After Brookin’, Danny Baker’s phone-in was on Radio 5. During this, he asked City and Coventry fans who are enjoying our/their current plight to phone in. Not surprisingly, there were no takers; however, a guy from Bolton did call in, to relate the tale of a mate of his who only enjoys watching Bolton lose – he said that the best time of his life was when Bolton went down from the old Div 2 to Div 4 – under, though I don’t know if this was all of the time, one Phil Neal. Actually, if you didn’t think of our plight it was quite funny – the only game this guy caught during their relegation season was when they beat Chelsea at home – he was gutted apparently :-))

I’ve no grudge against Phil Neal; I think he would have been a perfectly satisfactory factotum for Coppell. But he is never going to straighten us out, and if things do not improve soon then I can see us going down again. I can handle 2 or 3 years in Div 1, if there are signs of stabilisation, but it may be terminal if we drop down below Div 1.

It is quite clear to me that we are in crisis; despite whatever the club may be giving out on the PR front, we need a real manager and a large injection of cash.

Is there anyone on the list who is going to the AGM who is prepared to ask the questions that need to be asked?

Jeremy Poynton (


Does anyone know the identity of the fan who came on at Maine Road last night to berate each member of the team for their performance?

Also, according to the Daily Mail, “City slumped to their worst defeat of the season.” Were they not around for the Lincoln débâcle? Neal was quoted as saying “obviously we would have preferred for this not to happen (losing 2-3), but we are strong and we’ve got to stay strong.” Is the man on something (or just a master of understatement!)? The Mail also said that Neal was a man trapped in the headlights of an onrushing Second Division. I’m forced to agree. I think onrushing oblivion is a more apt phrase. If City win at Portsmouth on Saturday… sorry, I’ve allowed myself a brief rest on fantasy island. Has anyone got anything positive to report? Please!

Question: ‘Why Blue’
Answer: “Why bother’

I’m not bitter, Alison Prior (


It’s been quite a while since I have had my say. After Alan Ball was sacked, I got peace in my soul and sat down and waited for the results to come. But surprisingly, the results haven’t come and it’s hard to point out any reason why. The supporters are turning against Francis Lee, giving him the blame for the miserable state the club is in now, not sure if that’s right. I’d like to write some lines in Lee’s defence as I think he is being treated unfairly.

Now what has happend since he took over? OK, I admit it has just been downhill. We were relegated and lost all the derbies, not very nice from a supporters’ point of view. But I don’t think it was Francis Lee’s fault directly that we went down. We went down because we were guided by a hopeless loser of a manager who didn’t have a clue what he was doing. Then again, it was a mistake by Francis Lee to not sack him before, as he should have seen the writing on the wall at a very early stage. Personally, I called for Ball’s head after 0-4 and 0-6 at Anfield, in one week. But the others on the list seemed to be stoically laughing of my suggestion by the fact that Ball needed more time. He got more time and got us relegated. It’s fair to say that we were unlucky, but were very also bloody lucky in a few games so I think we got what we deserved at the end of the day. No use dwelling any more on that really. When Alan Ball left I think Francis Lee took too long a time to find a new manager. Steve Coppell was there all the time and he was the right man for the job. Too bad he had to resign, as I really liked Coppell, seemed to be very clever and a nice bloke too. I just think Coppell should have been offered a job as a technical manager, as he was at Crystal Palace. He’s a capacity that we will miss.

Now I just feel sorry for Francis Lee, he found the right man and then he let him down… what can he do now? Give Phil Neal a go? I wouldn’t consider Neal as the perfect manager, but why not give him a try. He did all right with Bolton, disaster at Coventry, but seemed to do well with Cardiff. Having said that, there are not so many other managers available now anyway. Moving in for Wilkinson would be a mistake. Yes, give Phil Neal some time and we’ll see what he can do, it can’t get much worse now. I haven’t watched any training sessions with City this season, but I’ll try to make it to one or two in December or January, so I’m not sure what kind of methods and way of coaching Phil Neal is representing, so I can’t really comment on that. But he seems to have clear ideas (Ball had too…).

Back to the main point, Francis Lee. Yes, I think it’s really unfair to give him the blame. He has always tried his best for the club and given the debts of the club, I think he’s doing very well to be able to spend anything at all on new players. Francis Lee got into football at the worst time he could imagine, just at the time when the rich clubs have started to spend fees to the limit of insanity. Where does that leave a club which has got loads of debt and impatient supporters? Given the financial situation, I think Lee has done very well. He has shown creativity in the transfer market by signing cheep (very cheep that is!) foreigners who are doing quite well (matter of opinion). However, his creativity has perhaps gone too far now as he’s trying to sign Schwarzer, who is not a goalkeeper we can seriously be attempting to buy. I don’t care about what the Australians on the list might say, but I for one have watched him and got reports of the few games he has played in Germany and he has made mistakes in each and every game. I think we should give Immel another chance. I should just hope that the English supporters would stop all this rubbish about “not coming out for crosses”; it seems to me that Englishmen are obsessed with this fact and it annoys me. People do cross in European football too, but the goalkeepers have a better judgement of which crosses to go for, rather then go for all and not reaching more than half.

Anyway, I wouldn’t sign Tskhadadze either, but it’s all right for Kinkladze and Kavelashvili to get another mate nearby. I heard that he didn’t actually want to come to England as he had settled in Germany with house, children and a good salary. But Eintracht Frankfurt forced him to leave as they needed money quickly; I’m afraid he will have problems to adapt to play in England as he is such a typical sweeper and he must play the ball out of defence at all costs, something English supporters hate. Many nervewracking moments to come, I warned you!

Francis Lee is doing alright. What more can we expect? We just need another couple of signings and some quietness, then we’ll be all right. It’s not his fault that Andy Dibble is making mistakes, or the players being lazy…

Well, it was nice to get this off the chest. Hope to see one or two of you around at games at around Christmas time and even in the new year.

Tor-Kristian Karlsen (


Oxford 3 City 2

We’re *****d.

Totally and utterly. We’re going down with all hands on deck. I still can`t believe we played so totally c**p against a side who were in the second division last year. Our current team is for sh***. The high point of the game was that nutter running round the pitch trying to grab the ball and insulting the referee and the players. Depressing. The natives are now getting very, very restless. Some people are saying a lot worse than getting rid of Fatty Lee and Co. I sense major rebellion in the air of the nature that saw Wiggy Swales out on his arse. Kinky’s gone before Saturday at Pompey no mistake. If Phil Bell End Neil doesn’t walk on water and win the next 7 games on the trot I fear major anarchy at the next home match.

P.S. Have changed my mind – don`t want to wipe my bum with my season ticket and post it to Fatty Lee any more, I just want to wipe it on his head.

Up the Blues (sometime in the next 10 years anyway), Andy Mitchell (


Wednesday 13 November 1996

Make a note of this date; this was the day not the music died but… when the patience of the City fans died.

R.I.P. M.C.F.C.

See you all in Divison 2.

Tony Hulme (


13th November 1996
Manchester City 2 Andy Dibble 3

Helen Murtagh (


We do not have a manager and City fans out there seem to be worried about whether a certain football ground is actually in Manchester or not. I was brought up in Flixton, my family were all born there. Flixton is in Trafford as well. As far as I am concerned anything north of the Mersey and south of the Irwell is in Manchester. I do not like it being suggested that I am not a Mancunian. Next thing someone will be suggesting that Old Trafford Cricket ground is not in Lancashire.

On the bright side, I have enjoyed the angst of the other lot’s fans over the last few weeks. Living in Oxford I am surrounded by Rag “supporters” – long may they suffer.

Hope the Blues beat our local team tomorrow. I do go up to the Manor every now and again, but there is only one team for me. Off to Portsmouth on Saturday, no roof again. I looked through the local Yellow Pages to see if I could find out whether there were any roofers down here; there are plenty of thatchers but apparently the fire risk would be too late. Don’t forget your oilskins.

John Wilson (


My name is Nizam and I support Manchester City…

I feel suicidal. How I need some psychiatric help now. We posted a £3 million deficit last year and we lost our new manager… No money. No manager, not unless you consider Phil Neal one.

I can’t help feeling that this whole thing is a conspiracy on the part of Coppell and other Rags. He takes the job, appoints Neal as his Assistant and leaves in 33 days, leaving us with PN whose track record is similar to that of AB.

Played for England, started management career at Bolton. Left Burnden Park on a sour note in 1992 and came under fire for his partnership with Graham Taylor in the latter’s ill-fated reign at England where the pair failed in their two assignments: 1992 European Championship and the World Cup qualifiers. Neal returned to management at Coventry but failed again and was sacked 2 years later before joining Cardiff.

What a joke. The search for a manager lasted longer than the resignation. Oh what a joke, this whole episode.

Unfortunately Coppell failed to prove me wrong… what a sad day.

Would rather be dead than Red, Nizam Idris (


Just as somebody subscribed to MCIVTA saying “things can’t get any worse” they did! To make things even worse I got the news from a Rag (from Lancaster by the way). But what do we expect, we support City and things have been going from bad to worse for the past 20 years.

IMHO you can’t get so stressed, in just over a month, that your doctor tells you to pack it in (unless he’s a Rag), especially when the fans are going to start Franny bashing (glad I spelt that right), due to the fact that he is the captain of a sinking ship. I’ll agree that some of the things he has done have possibly not been the best decisions with hindsight (such as his campaign to remove a large number of high profile players last year), but at the end of the day he’s as big a City fan as the rest of us so maybe it’s time to put something back into the club. As for all these interested buyers (as described by your local reliable press), where are they? Do they really exist?

Finally I’d like to talk about a rarely mentioned factor in our present predicament… the players. They have now played consistently crap for over a year, with little interest in the views of the fans (please exclude the Rags in grey shirts). You make your own luck! It’s nice to see a team like Wimbledon doing so well in the Premier, who have no great stars but buckets full of determination and pride. Let’s get on with the rest of the season and build on what little pride we have left! My money’s on Franny being the next person to have a nervous breakdown.

Adam Houghton (


The odd thing about Coppell’s resignation was that when a colleague gave me the news I wasn’t surprised – it’s yet another of our disaster/cock-ups. The appointment took so long so perhaps he was reluctant to come in the first place and I suspect there is a lot more we don’t know about. The worst thing about it all is Neal’s appointment. Quite apart from his storming “yes boss” performance on the Taylor video he really is a grim manager. Friends and relations who support Bolton have plenty to say on this. When he arrived there he promised them promotion. Trouble was it took relegation to the old Division 4 to get it although he did get them the Sherpa Second Hand Van Trophy on the way. His playing “style” seems to amount to a massed defence with aimless punts “into space” for forward(s) to run onto. Of course, this usually results in a goal-kick. Rather like the Wolves game in fact.

There is plenty of decent managerial talent around (no, not fat and round) e.g. Waddle, Wilkinson, Wilkins. Do we really have to put up with a bone-head like Neal (Cardiff were near the bottom of Division 3 last season)?

As The Mole says, sparks will fly at the December A.G.M. especially if the next run of home games don’t produce results. I suspect I won’t end up first in the queue to ask some pointed questions!

Rob Simmons (


Before I start may I apologise for the downbeat tone of this letter, but I can honestly say that I have never felt at a lower ebb with regards to the team which is once again the laughing stock of football.

As another crap set of results is given off the pitch, despite FHL’s assurances that this is the one area we are getting right, it just about sums up how far we have fallen.

I won’t go on about the resignation. Enough people have said what I feel about that. However, I really do think that Coppell was our last hope to get anything going again. I agree with the person who suggested Neil McNab should be involved in some capacity, though preferably as assistant to someone with a bit of experience.

As for the playing team, I really could not imagine that things could get any worse, but oh yes they have. The team is absolute stinking garbage – simple as that. I struggle to find any redeeming features short of the now mightily p**sed off Georgian.

Having seen us play the majority of games this season, I cannot remember us playing well once, barring perhaps the second half at QPR.

We really must have the worst strikeforce in the top two divisions. Rösler’s fall from garce is unrivalled. He lacks pace, falls over all the time and simply does not look like scoring. He seems to prance round expecting tap ins all the time, but unwilling to do anything else.

Dickov is simply not a goalscorer. Yes he runs about, and with someone like Steve Bull he may be alright, but not Rösler. Please please give Kave a chance. He can’t do any worse than the pop gun attack we have out at the moment.

In midfield, Clough is a disgrace. Simple as that. He cannot tackle, cannot pass and just stands in the middle of the park preferably standing behind an opposition player so he cannot be passed to. His favourite trick than appears to be to berate the player in possession for not seeing him stood behind him. As with all our players, bar Kinky, he is also pitifully slow.

Apply the above paragraph for that lazy t**t Summerbee. Please pay these two off and get them out of the door, as I swear to God their attitude and general play makes my blood boil.

I am sorry if the above is negative, but I fear many City fans will agree with me. We are sliding into the abyss. Roll on the mighty Oxford.



I was floored when I heard that city are now losing £8,000 a day. I am no accountant but surely a club the size of City cannot afford to lose £3 million a year when they already have debts of £26 million? No wonder there have been no serious purchases of players for the last two seasons with new players only being bought when current squad players of a better standard are sold i.e. Immel for Coton, Quinn for Kavelashvili etc. Franny has been on the radio saying that it doesn’t matter that we owe £26 million as that does not take into account the value of the playing staff. Well sorry Franny it does matter because we only have 3 or 4 players worth any serious money in:

  • Kinky £8 million
  • Lomas £3 million?
  • Rösler £2 million?
  • Symons £3 million?

I make that £16 million of talent (if we can get that) that anyone would be likely to buy. So we would still owe £10 million and be in the second division. I am getting seriously worried. Promotion looks increasing unlikely and with Phil Neal as manager and no money for players we’re really in the s*** this time. It we don`t go up this season there will be even more debt and we can say goodbye to the few good players we have.

I am really now at the depths of despair. It’s Oxford tommorow and I really do not want to go. It could be the first match in three years I miss at home. I will not mention the Coppell affair as I am depressed enough at the moment and I have moaned enough.

Feelin Blue, Andy Mitchell (A.G.MITCHELL@ITI.SALFORD.AC.UK)


Well, after reading MCIVTA 245 I wasn’t sure what to think. It’s bloody hard to be optimistic isn’t it? I opened the paper this morning and reading City £26m in debt rather stunned me. Quite bluntly how the ***k did that happen? An analysis of the accounts would be highly informative I think. This suggests that all the takeover rumours were just that. Surely with that much debt if an Arab bloke comes along and says he’ll invest £70m or whatever you would jump at the offer? Any money must do at that point. I think Spurs were in a similar situation a few years ago and didn’t they get out of it via Venables and Sugar? What chance have we got of such a combination coming along even if it’s all gone a bit flat there now? There can’t be any money to spend on players surely?

On a slightly different note who is on the board at the moment? I haven’t really got a clue but isn’t it Swales’s buddies (names I’ve read but can’t remember) and a brewery and FHL. Is there anyone else? Is there anyone else with money? If not then surely we’re in deep s**t. Our present squad aren’t good enough to get us back up in my opinion and how can we improve them?

I can console myself by thinking at least we’re not like Brighton and probably several other clubs down there but we’re the club who get the p**s taken because we once were a big club – not for some time now will we be again. Anyway here’s hoping for anything good to happen and I’ll be at Huddersfield next for the start of the recovery, 10-0 this time!

Only one bottle of rum needed? Surely one case.

Thomas Bodey (


In MCIVTA 245, Andy (I think) complained about the Guardian’s stress article swipe at the Blues. All too expected, I’m afraid, but you just have to laugh it off – sense of humour is all we’ve got left after the last week’s events. The Guardian’s “star columnists” did of course defend Cantona’s kung fu exploits and Asprilla’s GBH on Curle (both excused on grounds of genius), so maybe their football outlook is a little flawed.

Martyn Hansen (


Well, it had to happen, the first post match demonstration for the head of Chairman Lee and the board. Although good humoured, the general tone was one of disbelief that we had just lost to Oxford Utd. Its fair to say that during the three seasons that Mr Lee has been in charge we have declined to what must be our lowest since the dark days before Mercer.

When Lee arrived at Maine Road he indicated that it would take 3 years to get the club on a sound footing, but when facing the facts that we’re £26 million in debt and 25 players (half of which were internationals) down on the deal he hasn’t been altogether successful. It’s very easy to make a scapegoat out of Swales before he went because after all he was a complete ***ker, but now we’re faced with 10 ****wits running, sorry walking in the case of Clough, around for 90 mins for £4,000 a match. I can’t honestly see light at the end of the tunnel unless everything changes. We’ve got the old pals network and people like Jimmy ‘Pie Manager’ Frizzell running this club, not just Lee and Neal. All these people have to go, they have certainly not produced the goods over the last three seasons and if we’re all judged by results, what have these people achieved?

I apologise for my swearing, but tonight the Lee dream most certainly ended.

Tony Shaw (


If the goings on at City this last season and a half were made into a film it would get slammed by the critics as being totally implausible.

Just as when you have been bereaved, people avoid talking about it (even though that is often just what you want to do), people who know I’m a City fan go silent when they’re talking footy and I walk into the room. They avoid what they think for me must be a painful subject. I just want to talk about it – it’s a sort of catharsis.

The truth is, I’ll support City even when they are relegated to Division 2… might even be cheaper to watch them play then.

On another note, is all this substituting on Kavelashvili with a couple of minutes to go lark something to do with him having to put in a certain number of appearances to keep his work permit?

Jamie Goode (


I just want to say first off that I don’t have any time for these people who claim to want Franny out. I mean, who’s going to come in and saddle themselves with £26m of debts anyway? To be honest at the moment I can’t even see anybody willing to invest as all they are going to do is wipe out some of the debts in order for them to build back up again.

And as for having a go at Franny, what can he do? He’s built the Kippax (cost – £19m), had to clear the debts that Swales left hidden around the club (Terry Phelan being part of the building of the Umbro for example) and has repeatedly said that if he knew what he was getting into he never would have started but he did it for the love of the club.

How was he to know what was going to happen to Coppell? And OK, we all know that Neal isn’t the future but he’s there, I can’t see anybody else wanting to come just yet so instead of putting pressure on the club let’s ease off, the tabloids are doing plenty of that anyway. They want to see Franny fail and us to hound him out so that they can stick the boot in again about fickle City fans / bitter Blues / the danger of fan power etc. They keep going on about Kinky going because they can’t bear to think that a great player like him isn’t at one of the top flight clubs, and they won’t rest until he does leave.

I don’t want to know what the ***k is going on in the boardroom but why the ***k have the gods got it in for us?

There is only one player who after last night I cannot believe could ever be allowed to pull on that shirt again. Dibble. Apparently he’s in court today (Thursday) on his indecent assault charge so you have to assume that that’s where his head was because it certainly wasn’t on the game. I have all the hand/eye co-ordination of a jellyfish but I could have kept that first one out. Andy, we pay to watch, you get paid to play, don’t get the two mixed up now will you. If we’d had better reserves I’d like to think that someone on such a serious charge would be in the team at the moment, and hopefully if he gets sent down then we’ll kick him out. I’m just fed up of his ineptitude, as is McGoldrick by the looks of it.

And if Tash (I can’t be bothered with his full name) is any good and is coming then roll on that day because Symons is having a mare having to cover for Wassall as well. At first I thought that he looked half decent but his distribution is awful and I lost track last night of the number of times he checked back and passed square (badly) rather than playing a simple ball forward.

And if I get started on Clough, well, I’d be here all day.

The only other point that I wanted to make is that yes, the BBC does indeed own shares in MUFC, but not in the way one might expect. The BBC Pension scheme invests in the biggest earning companies and at the moment, whilst it saddens me to say so, they are making hay while the sun shines. Why don’t we all buy shares in the scum, flog them off in a couple of months and put the profit into the club? If we timed it properly we could flood the market, cause widespread panic and destroy their value at the same time. That’s probably illegal though.

So, just as if we worked on MotD we would always have City on it stands to reason that a load of southerners would always want the Rags on, but it is nothing to do with owning part of them.

Anyway, my soapbox is getting a little rickety so I’d better quit whilst we’re behind. Stay blue, Stay true, and let’s show the country a united front in the face of adversity.

Mark Helsby (


Can anyone out there help, I am interested in stories about the lost atmosphere at grounds that have been modernised since the Taylor report. The information is for my son who is doing G.C.S.E.’s and is a true blue, but I would like to hear from anyone or any club, of stories, or photo’s of grounds before and after, any relevant information. Could you please help by sending me an e-mail direct, rather than through mcivta, so I can collate the page. As for Coppell, sorry copout, what do you execpt from a former redrag?

Stephen Marks (


Can anyone give me a lift to the Portsmouth match from the Stockport/South Manchester area? I’m willing to share petrol costs (obviously) and may have a spare ticket.

Duncan Golding (


Why do I support Manchester City Football Club? Good question! I have tried to think of any sane reasons and listed them below;

Geographical: I was born in Durham in 1956 but only spent six weeks there before I went with my family to live in Cyprus. No I’m not Greek or Turkish but a Royal Air Force brat. By birth surely I should support Newcastle or Sunderland. Could the year of my birth be influential I muse.

Family Influence: My mother and father were from the north east so any footballing influence usually revolved around “Wor Jackie” early on and “Sooper Mac”, and I don’t mean a hamburger, in later life. My brother supported any team that was winning, never went to any games, so any influence he had on me would surely have made me by now a typical rag fan.

Exposure to Football: Having spent all my early life travelling the world (Cyprus, Kenya, Libya, hardly footballing giants) I hardly knew what football was. The first match I saw on telly was in fact the 1966 World Cup Final, not a really an influence or reason to support City. However, the second match I saw on telly was you guessed it, the 1969 FA Cup final; no!!! to all you smartarses out there who think I was only allowed to watch telly twice in three years – I was living in Libya during those three years. This must be the reason perhaps? No not really as shortly after this I was sentenced to boarding school where the round ball game was considered uncouth and ever so ever so working class. I did however rebel and one night in 1970 listened to a match on the radio… oooh!! you all say “you revolutionary you”, which just happened to be City versus Gornik Zabrze. Drawing me in even further methinks. The rest of the “Wonder Years” melted into each other and nothing really stands out as an influence but I whenever I was asked who I supported I always said City. This usually got me incredulous looks, thumpings and questions like “Why, they’re crap” from Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea supporters. You guessed it I was living in London.

Working Years: I was free, I had a job, yes you could get a job really easy then and if you didn’t like it, jack it it and get another one. I started to go to football matches, mainly in London (maybe I’m a closet Rag), but always tried to see City whenever they were playing there. The first match I remember seeing City was against Spurs, City lost 1-0, but I still was hooked. I went to Chelsea and saw City stuff them 3-0 in the FA Cup, Colin Bell scored a screamer. I was beyond redemption… or was I? If anything was to challenge my loyalty to City it would have been when I went to see City play Luton and the score was 1-1; Luton were relegated as a result. I can’t remember much about the actual match but I remember the ancillary things very very well. I was in the City crowd enjoying the match when the bretheren started singing “We hate the cockneys”, all good fun which I joined in. However one very large guy next to me was then very voracious in explaining in great detail what physical violence he wanted to do to a southern bastard. Now I cannot help the way I speak, I was brought up in the south of England dammit! This same chap then asked me a question related to the time. Scenario 1: If I opened my gob and spoke I feared that I would get a damn good kicking so I played mute and showed him my watch… phew got away with that one. However, on leaving the ground my mate and I were chased by some Luton supporters because I was wearing a City scarf and they were slightly put out by the fact that Luton had been relegated… but hark there was a large group of City fans down the road. Scenario 2: If we ran to the City supporters we would be safe… wrong! I spoke like a southern s***e and was wearing a City scarf. Obvious conclusion… I’d nicked it off a City fan. Solution: beat the crap out of me and get the scarf back. I spent the rest of the afternoon running from both City and Luton fans. Even this has not stopped me following City through thick and thin, mostly thin in recent times. I was back in England four years ago and went to Maine Road and saw City beat Coventry 1-0 with a mate of mine who I met when I lived in Brisbane and yes he’s a City fan. He’s from Manchester and speaks like a City supporter should and even he calls me a soft southern jessie.

Epilog: I still don’t know why I support City, I just can’t help it. As you can see from above I have no real reason to support them and lots of reasons why I shouldn’t. How would you like going to see City and have all the City fans think that you talk like a poof! All I know is I can’t shake the habit (don’t want to). Recently with the way things have been going for City I would liken it to a horror movie… you know, it’s bloody scary but you can’t help watching because you want to see how it all comes out. I hope I haven’t bored you all s***less, that’s if Ashley prints this bloody epic of course but if I have I don’t care.

Ted Cummings (


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

Thanks to Ted, Rob, Stephen, John, Martin, Nizam, Adam, Paul (x2), Andy(x2), BS, Thomas, Martyn, Neale, Jim, Tony, Steve, The Mole, Duncan, Tony,Jamie, Ian, Christine, Jeremy, Helen & Mark.

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 #246