Newsletter #362

Some good news to report after what seems like an eternity of ever gloomier tidings; even the Bradford game somehow seemed like a hiccup on our steady slide into the abyss. Granted, we shouldn’t get too excited about Saturday’s result, but it was most definitely a game which we needed to win, more so then any other so far this season. It now seems a little hard that the next team we play are probably the only outfit who’d be able to hack it in the Premier and who are likely to be a serious obstacle to our recovery.

The good news is that Bradbury is due back either Saturday or against West Ham, and that Dickov might get an international call up! This issue has two match reports, a review of the City Handbook, requests for WWW assistance, much opinion on City, as well as Bristol City’s manager of the moment; and finally, the answer to the question on the most recent World Cup appearance by a City player.

More Why Blues needed!

This one reaches 1,827.

Next game, Sunderland at home, Saturday 17th January 1998


PORTSMOUTH vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 12th January 1998

I was a bit nervous about this match. I live in Portsmouth and most Pompey fans I know were looking forward to this game in anticipation of 3 points, and I couldn’t really see anything else bearing in mind that Venables now has his hand back on the tiller at Fratton Park (remember that FA Cup quarter final against Spurs a few years ago?). Anyway, no need to worry as City uncharacteristically ran out easy winners, looking by far the better side.

The team was:

       Brightwell Symons  Shelia
Edghill                           Russell
           Brown       Whitley (Jim)
             Dickov   Rösler

We were wearing the yellow and black kit, which I thought looked great. The first 20 minutes or so were fairly scrappy from both sides, with no real chances but lots of snapping at heels, closing down etc. The best thing was that Pompey had obviously learnt no lessons from our other opponents, and had no one man-to-man on Kinkladze. Our most promising early attack was when he dribbled through into the box in the inside left position, and was rounding the ‘keeper only to be upended by a combination of ‘keeper and defenders; despite the appeals, no penalty was given – I thought that he’d lost control of the ball myself, and should have hit it much earlier, but I think he got booked for his protestations.

City became much stronger towards half-time, with Brown and Whitley winning most things in midfield and the defence not really tested. The closest Pompey came to scoring was when one of their attackers was closing in on goal and Shelia slid in to tackle, sending the ball rapidly towards the corner of the net; Wright dived low to his right to concede a corner. City were actually passing the ball, and mindless hoofs from Brightwell aside, were looking fairly good at it too. Edghill, who looks as though he is trying to win a Ronaldo lookalike contest, linked up well with Gio down the right, once crossing for Rösler to head lamely at the ‘keeper. The other good chance was from Dickov, who tried a right footed curler from just inside the left edge of the box which was tipped round for a corner.

Then the first goal. Gio receives the ball on the right touchline about halfway inside the Portsmouth half. He jinks inside, looking as though he is about to hit a curler, but jinks again along the edge of the box and sends through Brown. Just as Brown is about to shoot, he is clattered by the ‘keeper and a couple of defenders on the penalty spot – that was a penalty I’m sure, but the ball span out to Russell who side footed in from an acute angle. No more than City deserved because Pompey had no ideas, but City were solid in defence (especially Shelia, a.k.a. thunder thighs) and creating chances up front.

So the second half began and I settled down for 45 minutes of nervous defending, hacked clearances and terrible errors, sure in the knowledge that City would make it difficult for themselves to win, and revert to type to concede a goal or two. None of it. We actually continued to play football and kept going forward, with Gio seeing lots of the ball and Wright not having a save to make that I can remember. Goal number two was a cracker; Gio received the ball about 20 yards out (but difficult to tell from our position), slightly left of centre, and smashed it in past the right hand of the goalie. Easy, 2-0.

Portsmouth then tried to push forward, but City generally, and Symons and Shelia in particular, dealt with every (albeit poor) threat that Portsmouth had to offer. We even managed to give them the sucker punch by scoring right at the end on the break. Gio picked up a loose ball about 20 yards from our own goal and raced about 60 yards upfield; just when it looked as though he had held the ball too long, he released Whitley to shoot. From Whitley’s shot, the ball looped up off the ‘keeper for Rösler to head in. 3-0, thanks very much, I wish it was like this every week.

Final score: Portsmouth 0 City 3

I think it’s important not to overstate the quality of this victory because Portsmouth are crap and are now bottom of the league. Having said that, the game still had to be won and there were good performances right throughout the team. I was especially impressed with Shelia, Brown and Whitley. Edghill also had a good game, covering loads of ground in his wing-back rôle and never looking likely to be beaten for pace. Brightwell can’t seem to pass or head the ball any more, and I don’t seem to remember him making any tackles, so perhaps he should make way for van Blerk or Vaughan. We still have Horlock, Bradbury and Wiekens to return, as well as Scully to select… wait a moment, I’m starting to sound optimistic, I’m falling into that trap, corner being turned, watershed etc.

Finally, this game showed that there is no way we should sell Gio. He set up two goals and scored the other, and nearly every time he got the ball was a joy to the eye, so quick, so skilful, and easily the best player on the pitch. Keep him, no matter what.

CTID, David Sweeting (


PORTSMOUTH vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 12th January 1998

“Ten Frank Clarks, there’s only ten Frank Clarks…”

Portsmouth (just a bunch of sailors) 0 – MCFC 3

Well, it was a lovely, sunny day by the seaside as the City travelling faithful turned out in their droves to see a much needed and much deserved win against an extremely poor Portsmouth side. There were a couple of changes to the side as Symons returned from injury and Brannan, at long last, was dropped to the bench. The team was Wright, Edghill, Shelia, Symons, Brightwell, Brown, Jim Whitley, Russell, Dickov, Kinkladze and Rösler, with Jeff Whitley, Brannan and van Blerk warming the bench. Brightwell kept the captain’s armband.

Fratton Park is an “interesting” ground; the capacity is only about 16,000 and the four stands are completely separate and bear no resemblance to each other at all. The away end is open to the elements so it was lucky the weather had improved since the week before! Pompey, in their wisdom, had decided to allow away fans to pay in cash at the turnstiles on the day and not to bother with anything as mundane as seat numbers (what do you want to sit together for anyway?) but at least it wasn’t as bad as the fiasco at Norwich last season. We were only sitting a few seats away from the Frank Clarks, who kept us amused when the football got a bit dull. Luckily. The first half was not a great advert for First Division football. Portsmouth are the worst side I’ve seen yet this season – they played even worse than we did against Huddersfield. They probably weren’t helped by Brown taking out their No. 9, Hillier, with a horrendous, crunching tackle after about 5 minutes but I doubt the result would have been any different. There were only a couple of incidents of note in the first half – Tommy Wright Wright Wright made a couple of decent saves at the other end, Kinkladze was booked for diving in the area (the Telegraph thought it was a penalty but I couldn’t see it, the bloke in front’s head was in the way) and Russell had a good shot from the left of the goal well saved by their ‘keeper, but there wasn’t really too much to get excited about. If anything, Pompey had more of the ball but looked incapable of doing anything with it. Then, suddenly, just before half time, we took the lead. I’m afraid I didn’t see this either – the ball came down the middle of the pitch and there appeared to be a foul just inside the area (on Brown I think). The referee put his hands behind his back to indicate no penalty and I was still glaring at him and inwardly cursing him when the ball was suddenly in the net. Wahey, I don’t care if I don’t see them as long as they go in! Apparently the ball broke out to the left hand side where Russell was in a similar spot as for his earlier chance; this time there was no mistake as he buried it in the net.

Half time came and went; I was going to brave one of the pies from the diddy little kiosk at the bottom of the stairs but, when I heard one of the stewards say the last time he’d eaten one he’d ended up in hospital, I thought I’d give it a miss. The second half performance was a lot better, by City anyway. Shelia was playing at left back and was a rock; not only can he head the ball well but he’s got such long legs that he seems to be able to hook them round attackers and get the ball away too. The real Frank, despite all the exhortations from the other Franks, would not give us a wave – but we did get one from Tommy Wright so that’s okay. The second goal came quite soon after the break and was another piece of Kinkladze magic. The ball had been knocked away from the Pompey penalty area and fell to Kinkladze about 25 yards out, level with the left goal post. He hit a shot that curved out very slightly then back in, past the despairingly leaping ‘keeper and into the net. It was that good, it made it onto Sky’s goals of the day compilation on Sunday. Wow.

City continued to be on top and there really didn’t seem to be anything Pompey could do about it. There was one possibly scary moment about halfway through the half when the ball broke to their No. 7, Paul Hall, who really should have scored. He hung on to it too long though (lack of confidence? Seen that before…) giving Edghill time to get a tackle in and the ball just rolled to Tommy Wright Wright Wright. Other than that, every shot they had was either well high (how high do you want the goals?) or well wide (how wide do you want the goals?) and didn’t frighten us at all. There was one real comedy moment when the ball was kicked out for a City throw in about 25 yards down the touchline (to choruses of how wide do you want the pitch). The Pompey fan who picked it up threw it back in a tantrum towards the goal and was rewarded with a resounding “just because you’re losing” – served him right. Kinkladze went on one of his little runs through the entire Pompey defence too, only to hit the ball over the bar. There were a few strains of Jingle Bells starting up but they were quickly hushed down – after what happened at Birmingham no-one wanted to take any chances! In the last minute though, there was what looked like a bit of a scramble in the Pompey area and the ball fell to Rösler who didn’t need a second chance. 3-0, a City victory on the south coast, and we could sing Jingle Bells to our hearts’ content…

So, all in all a good day out. We seemed to gain a police escort on the way to the pub later; I wasn’t sure if they were following us because they thought we were going to cause trouble or if they just couldn’t believe that so many handsome Frank Clark lookalikes were wandering around the town and wanted to tag along in case we were exciting. On the other hand, they could just have been going home for their tea and happened to walk that way home. Portsmouth are in serious trouble and all the boardroom kerfuffles can’t be helping much. I have to admit I can sympathise, we know just what it’s like to have so much going on behind the scenes that the football becomes a secondary issue and suffers as a result. I’m glad I’ve now been to Fratton Park as, unless things change radically, I don’t think I’ll be going there next year.

Sharon Bennett


Frank Clark, delighted and no doubt relieved with City’s 3-0 win at Fratton Park, said of the team’s performance: “It was a very good win, we looked comfortable defensively and were in total control after the second goal went in. These are the sorts of games we haven’t been winning, but I was delighted with the attitude of the players. It has given us something to build on. Georgi Kinkladze was superb.” On his decision to play Jim Whitley and Michael Brown at the expense of Ged Brannan (dropped for the first time since his arrival at Maine Road last season), he added: “Jim and Michael Brown deserved to start the game at Portsmouth. They did well enough against Bradford to stay in the team. I pick the team on merit. It doesn’t matter whether a player cost a lot of money or not, whether he is 35 or 17. What matters is what’s best for the team. If we win, I have it right. If we don’t, then I have got it wrong.”

Meanwhile, Terry Fenwick was very disgruntled with his side’s efforts, making his players do extra training on Sunday: “I am going to have them all in tomorrow. We were sloppy in the first goal and there was not enough commitment or desire from too many players. We will have to improve drastically if we are to beat Aston Villa in the FA Cup on Wednesday.” He wasn’t exactly pleased with Michael Brown’s challenge on David Hillier (who was set to man-mark Kinkladze) either, which took the former Arsenal man out of the game early on with a dead leg: “Brown was very lucky to stay on the field after his tackle on David Hillier but he was the example for us with his will to win,” said Fenwick. Brown was not even booked for the challenge – a free kick had already been awarded for a foul by Paul Hall on Brown, but apparently Hillier has vowed to exact his own revenge next time the players meet. Incidentally, Terry Venables has sold his entire shareholding in Portsmouth today.

City’s first back-to-back wins of the season could not have come at a better time for Frank Clark, with the first board meeting since the appointment of Dennis Tueart taking place this coming Thursday. “I almost wish last week’s game with Bradford had been a league game because it would have given us back to back league victories which is what we need to get us away from the bottom of the league. It would just take a bit of anxiety and tension away from the players so we can play with a bit more freedom. But Portsmouth was a big game and we’ve won it well and it will send us into the match with Sunderland with a lot of confidence,” said Clark. City are in 18th place after Crewe’s win over Swindon on Sunday, and next face Sunderland who are unbeaten in 16 games.

One player aiming to make a return next weekend is Lee Bradbury, though the West Ham game seems a more reasonable target given that he’s not had any serious training for 3 months. The £3 million striker, who was back in training this morning, said: “The fans haven’t really seen me at my best. I still have to prove to the City supporters that I’m a goal-scorer.” Gerard Wiekens is also likely to miss the Sunderland game, still struggling with a hamstring injury. However, Kit Symons should be available despite breaking his nose and needing stitches in a knee injury sustained on Saturday. Ian Brightwell will probably retain the captaincy in Wiekens’ absence.

City’s leading scorer Paul Dickov might yet make a late entry into the Scotland squad for the World Cup finals in France this summer. He has been watched a few times by Scottish representatives and could figure in the Scotland “B” squad for their forthcoming game against Denmark in March. Dickov reckons he’d have been in the squad earlier if the Scottish management hadn’t thought he’d been a foreign import with his not very Scottish-sounding name!

The Gio Kinkladze transfer rumours haven’t abated, with both of the big Merseyside teams being linked with him this weekend. A rumour alleging that Kinkladze went to the home of the Liverpool boss Roy Evans last Thursday did the rounds just before Saturday’s game, but on that night the Georgian was actually having dinner with City chairman Francis Lee. Further links with Everton also keep coming up, but it seems that Howard Kendall may have finally got the message and is now reported to be chasing Cameroon World Cup star Marc-Vivien Foe instead.

Paul Howarth (


Life here in sunny Sussex has been fairly average. I didn’t go to Pompey on Saturday (boooooo!); after 4 months on the sick I’ve just started back at work and am totally knackered.

I’ve just got round to updating the Supporters’ Club Web Site (hoorrrrraaay). So it is worth a look. Don’t forget we still need net contacts for all branches!

City ’til I die – Andy Birkin (


Front Cover

TITLE       Manchester City F.C.
            Official Handbook 1997-98 
EDITOR      Julian Baskomb
PUBLISHER   Polar Print Group Ltd,
            2, Uxbridge Road,
            LE4 7ST
PRICE       £4.95 NO ISBN

The tenth edition of the annual Official Handbook follows the same A5 format as the previous nine, including the obligatory upbeat foreword from the chairman that has lost its lustre by the time of publication. There are the familiar statistical and pictorial reviews of the previous season and the brief profiles of the current playing and management staff, together with all the usual features including the general statistical section (so if you’re interested, we’ve never lost in the League to Bournemouth, Cambridge, Chesterfield, Darlington, Rotherham, Scunthorpe and Southend. Until recently, this also used to be true of Stockport…).

Each handbook profiles a couple of erstwhile heroes and this year it’s Willie Donachie and Joe Royle. The indefatigable John Maddocks has written a feature on brothers and other relations at the club, and also done some digging to provide a record of City playing in testimonial matches (record attendance: 47,901 for Bert Trautmann, while the recent 21,262 for Paul Lake is the 5th highest at Maine Road).

Virtually every contact address or telephone number associated with the club is contained here, but the Citynet website address is a curious omission. There are no surprises within the pages, so if you’ve bought any of the previous nine handbooks you know what to expect. But with 132 pages, many in colour and with only a few advertisements, a fiver represents fair value for money.

Presumably the handbooks make money for the club or they would not keep producing them, but perhaps the format is now stale and could benefit from a revamp. Over to you, Polar.

David Butler (


About 12 months ago I met up with the MCIVTA boys in the Old Abbey before the Middlesbrough cup-tie. I think we also met up in Manchester a couple of months later. During these get-togethers I gave them my ideas on how I thought we could move forward with the Internet and International Supporters’ Club etc. I think most of us were in agreement about the direction and progress was made.

Well, since then I think we have all become pals, FHL gave me a number of interviews, we have become closer to the club and Steve Sayer has put forward proposals for the ISC. We have had a very successful Tribal Gathering, mainly thanks to Clive. Also thanks to Don Price and Manchester City. We now have Chris and Andy helping out with the OSC stuff, Mike has contributed greatly with his goals and really everything has moved in the right direction. Except on the pitch but let’s forget about that for a minute! We might have turned the corner!

I would be happy to take it all a step further now. The purpose of this email is to get your ideas on how we can do that.

Obviously I would like to see the club launch an International Supporters’ Club. I think the club would benefit greatly from such a club if it was “done properly”. I know the club want to do it that way. One thought regarding this is the fact that if the club don’t sell as many season tickets next year they may feel their International Supporters may supplement any lost income. If we win the FA Cup maybe we will sell more season tickets.

We are always looking for new ideas on and I would be grateful if you can let me know of any. There are new City fans on the Internet all the time; perhaps they would like to contribute in some way. I know Huw had some great ideas last year that seemed to get lost along the way.

Anyway, I think that’s it for now.

I expect a number of us have had difficulty keeping our motivation over recent weeks but perhaps this mini-revival can spark some innovation.

Bob Young (


“The Heart of Football” – Fans United 2
Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Doncaster Rovers
February 14th 1998
Priestfield Stadium, Gillingham

Valentine’s Day 1998 is close to the first anniversary of Brighton’s celebrated ‘Fans United Day’ last year when thousands of football fans descended on our late, lamented Goldstone Ground to show solidarity with us in our fight to save our club.

Our opponents, Doncaster Rovers, are in an even worse predicament, if that is possible, bottom of the League, with all kinds of accusations aimed at their board. Fans and board have been in open conflict and we at Brighton have been doing all we can to help.

On February 14th we appeal once again to football fans everywhere to come and make Valentine’s Day a celebration of our love for our game.

The Heart of Football will:

  • draw attention once again to depredations suffered by both our clubs andto the threats to many others in the lower leagues as predatorybusinessmen eye up grounds situated on ‘prime sites’.
  • point out to the Premiership obsessed media that, despite their blanketcoverage of a few teams at the expense of many, most people still watchtheir football outside the Premiership.
  • and, of course, give us the chance once again to show football fans inour true colours; united in defence of our game!
  • protest against ridiculous ticket prices which price football out of thereach of many people.


From Division One Statistics and Leagues for Anoraks (DOSLA). Update No 22. Up to and including 11th January 1998. Compiled by Steve “Statto” Kay (e-mail:

Last week’s refereeing question:

When would you award an indirect free kick for handball?

Answer: If the ‘keeper handles the ball direct from a throw in or a pass from a team mate.

Sorry, no more refereeing questions for the time being.

Steve “Statto” Kay (


Friday’s MCIVTA saw Martin Ford pondering on some of the lower division managers as possible replacements for Baron Hardup, including Bristol City’s John Ward. As a long-time exile from the frozen North, and a pretty long-time resident of Brissle, and watcher of Bristol City, I think I can advise.

I started watching Bristol City some 10 years ago or so; then it was occasionally, now as a season ticket holder. In that time, whilst BCFC haven’t had as many managers as our beloved Blues, they have gone through a fair number – Terry Cooper, Joe (Joe Joe) Jordan, Jimmy (G)Lumsden (who? I hear you say), Dennis Smith, Russell Osman, Joe Jordan again, and at the end of last season, and the end of JJ’s second tenure, John Ward. Probably some other as well!

A surprising appointment to some, as previously he had been manager of the loathed Bristol Rovers (known locally as the Gas). The depth of hatred between the two clubs surprised me when I got to know football in Bristol, and it clearly astonished those two MCIVTA’ites (whose names I can’t recall), who attended last season’s Ashton Gate derby match and witnessed the riot at the end of the game. All good clean fun, in the Bristol fashion.

Anyway … I ramble. John Ward is the best manager I have seen at Ashton Gate by a long streak; an amiable and intelligent man, he has resurrected the careers of two likely failures – one a youngster, and the other a crazy winger who was quite clearly – despite having bought him – too unpredictable (the man’s a winger, God damn it!) for JJ’s taste. He has also brought on a couple of other very promising youngsters, and welded together a team that is perfectly tooled to get the hell out of the 2nd division. And hell it is. Also, he has bought very intelligently, on a very limited budget.

The team is a mixture of a few old heads (the above mentioned MCIVTA’ites, I recall, noticed Shaun Taylor, a grizzled old centre back of the old school), and rapidly progressing youngsters.

The football played is a neat mixture of flair and pragmatism; in the 2nd division you need the proverbial big man up front, and City play a mixture of direct football and the passing game. Those of you who take note of all the league tables and results will note that City have recently had a 15-match unbeaten record, are the highest scorers in Division 2 and have a very good defensive record. I can safely – and sadly – say that I have seen better football at Ashton Gate of late than my few City games, and that BCFC would in all likelihood gove City a good tanning were they to meet.

Off the field Ward displays immense nous – he never criticises the players publicly, has fostered immense team spirit, and has got very good relationship with the City fans and the local media. All in all, he’ll go far (and has come far … he worked with the dreaded GT at Aston Villa, Watford as well I think in GT’s first spell there, and also had a spell with – I think – the England Under 21s during GT’s England managership).

How long Bristol City will keep him I don’t know; he had his contract extended earlier this season – not that that means a lot; but the club also has a young, go-ahead, and commercially very aware chairman – witness the fact that the All Blacks played at Ashton Gate during their tour, rather than at Bristol Rugby Club (much to their chagrin).

So there you go … how Ward would get on at a ‘big’ (or bloated?) club, who knows, but if I was him, I’d stay at Ashton Gate … the future of Bristol City is currently looking a whole lot rosier than Manchester City’s.

Jeremy Poynton (


Re David Johnson’s question in MCIVTA 361, I can answer in relation to the two Irish players mentioned.

Niall Quinn signed for City just before the 1990 Finals in Italy, and scored as a substitute against Holland to send Ireland through to the last 16. I think he started in that last 16 game against Romania, and possibly against Italy in the quarter final. He is almost certainly the last City player to score in the finals.

Unfortunately, Terry Phelan has to take the honour as the most recent to play, as he did play in the 1994 Finals in USA. He is remembered in all of Ireland for an appalling mistake in the last-16 match against Holland, which allowed Denis Bergkamp to take the lead for the Dutch. As Jack Charlton said later: “I could have bluddy killed him!” Maybe he should have – the insurance payment would surely have been more than the transfer fee we got from Chelsea.

Eamonn Lonergan (


In reply to David Johnson’s question in MCIVTA 361, off the top of my head I can think of the following City players to have played in the World Cup finals since 1974:

Asa Hartford and Willie Donachie for Scotland in 1978.

Trevor Francis for England in 1982 (Joe Corrigan was in the squad as the third ‘keeper but didn’t play). Francis scored in England’s win over Czechoslovakia in the group stages. Shortly after he returned from the finals, we sold him to Sampdoria.

Hartford for Scotland in 1982.

Niall Quinn for the Republic of Ireland in 1990 (3 months after his move to City). He scored in the 1-1 draw against Holland in the group stages which qualified Ireland for the 2nd round.

Terry Phelan for the Republic in 1994 – his disastrous headed backpass into Bergkamp’s path gifted Holland their first goal in Ireland’s 2-0 defeat in the 2nd round. I’m not sure whether Kernaghan also made the Ireland squad, but if he did, I’m fairly sure he didn’t play.

Peter Brophy (


One can’t help noticing the debate that is currently hotting up about FC’s future in the Maine Road hot seat. I have doubts about his managerial style and performance but I’m afraid we just can’t get rid of him (unless Joe Royle is already lined up, that is). Of his performance:

Good Point 1. – The team is now fit enough to compete for an entire 90-minute game (but not for 103-minute games though). For the first time in years, goals are being scored by City after the 80th minute!

Good Point 2. – Most players now have basic football skills. Most of the team can now pass the ball 20 feet to an unmarked City player without losing possession.

Bad Point 1. – He is rarely their at training (if ever). Even Joe Mercer came to watch the training sessions (although it is said he just used to look out for the players who were enjoying themselves – the one criteria for automatic team selection in Joe’s book).

Bad Point 2. – The team has absolutely no width at all. Not only that, but the players that remain can’t cross for toffee. We have somehow managed to sell or transfer list any player who can play out wide. One of Rösler’s major strengths is his ability to get away from a defender and run onto a cross and score – a strength that is simply not being used.

Bad Point 3. – We don’t have a midfield hard-man who can win the ball. All good teams have one, but we don’t. We had the prospect of one in Steve Lomas, but FC sold him. City’s decline in form started after his departure.

Bad Point 4. – His transfer deals have been dreadful. Lee Bradbury did look promising but just as he started to score he got injured!

Bad Point 5. – The team plays in a different formation every week. God only knows how they are expected to gain confidence to start getting a winning run together.

The above record would get most managers sacked. However, City are a laughing stock and have no choice but to stay with FC for at least the next 3 years at least – even if we get relegated!

We have to get rid of our image as the joke of British football and (I’m afraid) keeping FC is the only way out. Remember, no manager will come to us if they know that they won’t be given time to build a team. If you don’t believe me, look at the problems we had last time!

Richard Mottershead (


Dear All…

Just a quick line on the musings of the last edition. Are things really that bad at the moment? I mean, yes, we’re clearly in the s**t (when aren’t we?) right now, but there was very little optimism after the Bradford victory (hardly convincing, admittedly), which should at least offer some confidence to the squad. How long are we going to talk about going down to Division 2? Sod it. We’re clearly better than that, and although that’s not going to keep us up, some positive support will help. I’m tired of all the pessimism which surrounds the faithful. We need a break, and, seemingly foolishly, I thought that a big game and the chance of cup glory against the Hammers might lift a few spirits.

Whilst we’re talking about that game, I’d like to mention the oft spouted theories of our unluckiness, ghosts rumbling around the stands at Maine Road, and our reluctance to perform in any way on television. Forget it. It’s talking about these things that just offers them more credence. We’re kicking a football round for Christ’s sake, why do we have to put ourselves on edge more than we already are? Why do we have sections in home programmes talking about them? The opposition must be p***ing themselves at watching us destroy our confidence yet further. Let’s get some confidence into our stadium for the next few games, and most importantly, try to enjoy it. If I see another “City in crisis” headline in a tabloid, I’m going to ring up and complain. There are some things in the world which are crises. Football isn’t one of them. Let’s get things into perspective.

Maybe I’m just being too hopeful!

Stop moaning and get behind the team. Let’s pull together.

Lee Ashmore (


Maybe it’s me and my forgiving nature (otherwise how the hell would I have stayed a City fan for 16 years?) but I really really don’t want to see Clark being shown the door and hope that the results from the last few days (Bradford and Portsmouth) give the guy a lifeline and something to build on. We need to see out at least a full season with the fella in the hotseat and even though it’s bumping along on the bottom right now, to buckle and give in to pressure would almost certainly ensure the drop.

We’ve been playing s***e but fundamentally we’re not a s***e team per se, although maybe some of the players just can’t play together. I dunno – a few weeks ago I was all for getting rid of Gio and bringing in some lesser-talented but more-appropriate for Division 1 players … but I was p****d off and looking for any way out – we still have to look long term and when we do get back in the Premier we’ll need him and a team that can not only play around and with him, but without him too.

I remember that sunny day nearly 2 years ago when we thought we’d almost done the deed against Liverpool having gone 2-0 down – almost made it too. I’ve also been playing my “Champoinship Manager 2” game and at the start of the 2000/2001 season, I’ve just thrashed River Plate 4-0 in the World Club Championship (yeah, already have the Euro-Cup and Championship) so Franny, if you’re really stuck, I’d be glad to lend a hand. Then again, in the same game, I also just won the World Cup with Wales for Christ’s sake… dream on.

P.S. I managed to persuade my wife to come with me to the Hammers game too, so things are looking up!

Andy, Taunton (


Three points. It’s all that counts. Well done lads. A run of about 4-5 wins on the trot will push us up into relative mid-table safety.

The main factor in achieving that is having cool heads, both on and off the field. We do not a have a Second Division manager, we have a good enough squad to stay up with but probably not much more than that. I was seriously worried before the Portsmouth game that a defeat might herald general panic, but thank goodness that situation didn’t materialise – at least for this weekend.

We’re not out of the woods yet as any glance at the table will tell you. The chances are Sunderland will beat us on Saturday, Summerbee will score a hat-trick and they’ll show Maine Road why they’re the form team in the division right now. Two wins on the trot (admittedly including a lucky one in the Cup) and some perspective may have returned. For now.

I referred to cool heads earlier on. The biggest problem with this club is that an incredible amount of fans have totally unrealistic expectations of where this club should be – apparently, we can still make the play-offs, and then challenge for a place in Europe the season after – and all if we appoint a new manager and give him another £10 million to spend. On current form we’ll only avoid the drop by five points or less – if indeed we do stay up. Until an awful lot of City fans, including some who contribute to this mailing list, realise things will not change via instant dismissals, that messiahs come once every two thousand years at best and that consistent short-term turmoil breeds feverish long-term insecurity, we’ll continue to struggle like we deserve to. And even if we did dump Clark, ’cause that’s what I’m referring to, who the hell in their right mind would want to come to a club that’s sacked more managers than any other in the last two years? Why has every top name manager refused our overtures and why would a top foreign coach come to a mediocre second-rate outfit anyway?

This is not a slagging off for most of the fans, who have proved they’re amongst the most loyal in the country, but undoubtedly there’s an element at the club that seems to revel in City’s poor fortunes. Unless we have some clear heads in the stands getting behind the players, then City’ll continue to be the laughing stock we have been for at least 3 seasons.

Chris Egerton (


Great result on Saturday, which prompted me to think “That’s more like it!” However, knowing our beloved team as we do, let’s not be too hasty. This corner which we are hypothetically turning is in fact a long, sweeping turn, not a 90 degree bend like some of the ones we’ve been around in the past. If Manchester City were a racing car team, we’d have had pit-stops on every lap, spun off on most corners (except the long, sweeping ones), been through more tyres than Goodyear have ever made, had more drivers than Greater Manchester Transport, had more bad decisions by officials than John McEnroe, had more accidents than Eddie the Eagle and scored fewer points than Norway in the Eurovision Song Contest. However, as we are not, there is still hope that we can reach respectability. When I see Birmingham winning 0-7, there has to be hope for City. Surely? I like Frank. I want to see City do well under him. I enjoyed chatting with him at the Tribal Gathering and I liked what he had to say. Likewise, Kit Symons. Although I would have had more respect for Kit if he had given Rob Lever his apple core as Rob had asked!

Clive Tysoe – a.k.a. Gio’s Bootlicker (


Now to business: all the flack and crap being directed at Francis Lee is completely out of order, for the first time since the days of Joe Smith (mid-70’s), the club has money coming in, makes money, and looks like the big-time club it once was again. But before everyone starts screaming, look at where we are, I did say a club can only prosper if the team is operating to its full potential; that alas is the problem, but is that the fault of the chairman?

I am not totally going to blame F.C. either; he has been given a lot of money by the club and signed a mixed bag of players, Brannan being the worst and the man that really does not fit in, although he has looked quite good a couple of times in the centre of defence. Take the following line up:-

        Edghill     Wiekens (capt.)   Symons    Shelia
              Russell       Brown        Whitley (Jim)
                    Bradbury     Rösler

Wiekens must be captain, stands out above all others and with the following players in the background:- Margetson, Horlock (who should be somewhere in the team), Dickov, van Blerk, Vaughan, Morley, Brightwell, Whitley (Jeff), Greenacre, Scully, Hiley, Rowlands, Thomas, Conlon, Crooks, Foster (what did he do wrong!) and Kavelashvili? In all 28 players who should be more than competent to not only lift this team off the bottom of this league but at least hold its own in the Premier Division. But it does not, why? Who is at fault? The manager? His motivation and tactics are certainly questionable but I really think it is the players: they are all under-achieving in a big way. Why?

The players mentioned above are definitely good enough but it seems only when they want to be. Is life at Maine Road too cushy? I don’t know but it always seems harder to sell than to buy, nobody ever wants to die for the privilege of wearing a Manchester City shirt, no one that is but 30,000 very patient, loyal fans that go through hell every week for over 20 years now. Enough! give us what we deserve, success would be brilliant but just give us a team we can be proud of and all we ask is you give your best week in, week out. Let’s all pull together and get back where we know we belong. We keep Kinkladze. All this rubbish about selling him, you do not lose class acts. Revamp Uwe’s contract, he is the nearest thing to a player that will die for the club we have got; he is one of the reasons why we all sing “City till I die”!

After this marathon letter, I just want to cover two other things: it really is time to stop worrying about the other lot over the road, we are years behind them, let’s just concentrate on ourselves and I am sure everyone will benefit from it, and then who knows? People should not forget that from 1880 to 1950 there was only one top team in Manchester and it wasn’t them, and from about 1968 to about 1980 there was generally only one team that won “derby” matches and that wasn’t them either (we also achieved a little too in this period, including relegating them!). At this point I also want to say thank you to Ferguson for the way he performed and his contribution to Paul Lake’s testimonial, it really does hurt me to be courteous in this way, but I think it should be said. So take heart, but that was then and this is now.

It sort of leads me into my Why Blue; my background to City was through my father and grandfather who between the 30’s & 50’s went City one week and Utd. the next, but always City were their team; and my other grandfather who just could not stand anything to do with Utd. I first went to City on Dec. 10 1964 vs. Portsmouth – won 2-0 (Kevan & Murray) and ever since, from promotion: Mercer, Allison, the title, the cups, Vienna at 15 years of age, Wembley, derby victories, top players, top teams, 1974 when I got my 1st season ticket, now on to my 34th, and all the bad times: relegation, Allison’s 2nd coming, the beatings and the upsets, “the decline”, but I am still as proud today as I was then to be a Blue! In all that period my lasting memory will always be in 1968 at Old Trafford, when against all the odds and being a very early goal down we beat them 3-1 and I was thirteen in the Utd. Road Paddock surrounded by Reds who thought the world had just ended. When you think City can’t do it, they always seem to and will do so again. That’s Why Blue!

Mike Ash (


Business travel will take me to Reading, England in late January (Jan 22 through Jan 27). As this is my first trip ever to England, I am quite excited about the possibility (slim?) of attending the City/West Ham Cup tie on Jan 25.

I will attempt to order a ticket via credit card (non-membership starts 1/12). I would, however, much prefer to attend the match in the company of a fellow MCIVTA subscriber. I am anticipating that demand will be high for the match, but if anyone has an unused ticket, please inform and I will be forever indebted.

Also, in the (unlikely?) event I obtain a ticket from the club, please inform if you are interested in meeting up prior to the match and showing me the ropes on the pre-match and post-match rituals. Also, any expertise on the feasibility/practicality of taking a train up from Reading to see the match would be invaluable. At this moment, we have not booked a rental (company picks us up at the airport, yada yada yada).

Thanks in advance for any assistance…

Hunter Sheridan – Atlanta, GA (


Full-time score for Sunday, January 11 1998

Crewe Alexandra          2 - 0 Swindon Town
Little (46)
Street (84)

Full-time scores for Saturday, January 10 1998

Charlton Athletic        3 - 0 Middlesbrough
Newton (20, 59)
Bright (36)
Huddersfield Town        5 - 1 Oxford United
Gray (og 21)                   Gray (74)
Phillips (30)
Stewart (41, 55)
Allison (59)
Ipswich Town             0 - 0 Queens Park Rangers
Nottingham Forest        2 - 1 Port Vale
Van Hooijdonk (27, 83)         Mills (16)
Portsmouth               0 - 3 Manchester City
                               Russell (44)
                               Kinkladze (51)
                               Rösler (89)
Reading                  1 - 1 Bury
Lucketti (og 29)               Gray Jr (87)
Stockport County         1 - 2 Bradford City
Armstrong (84)                 Jacobs (32)
                               Blake (43)
Stoke City               0 - 7 Birmingham City
                               Hughes (4, 9)
                               Forster (26)
                               Furlong (50, 69, 87)
                               McCarthy (56)
Sunderland               4 - 2 Sheffield United
Quinn (21)                     Saunders (17)
Rae (66)                       Taylor (82)
Phillips (81, 90)
Wolverhampton Wanderers  5 - 0 Norwich City
Keane (22)
Goodman (24)
Freedman (43, 45, 77)

Full-time score for Friday, January 9 1998

Tranmere Rovers         0 - 0 West Bromwich Albion

Up to and including Sunday, January 11 1997

                               HOME            AWAY
                        P  W  D  L  F  A   W  D  L  F  A   Pts   GS
Nottm Forest         26 11  2  1 32 13   5  4  3 13 11    54   45
Middlesbrough        26  8  2  2 23  8   7  4  3 20 15    51   43
Charlton             26 10  2  1 29 13   4  3  6 20 21    47   49
Sunderland           25  7  4  2 23 10   6  3  3 19 14    46   42
Sheff Utd            26  9  3  0 25 10   3  7  4 17 19    46   42
Wolverhampton        26  9  4  0 27 11   4  2  7 10 15    45   37
West Brom            26  8  2  3 14  9   4  4  5 13 15    42   27
Birmingham           26  5  4  3 12  7   5  5  4 20 12    39   32
Stockport            26  8  4  1 28 13   3  1  9 16 24    38   44
Swindon              26  8  3  2 23 12   3  2  8  9 26    38   32
Bradford             26  6  5  2 14 12   3  5  5 11 14    37   25
Norwich              26  5  4  4 13 17   4  2  7 13 22    33   26
QPR                  26  6  5  2 16 11   2  3  8 14 29    32   30
Ipswich              25  4  4  4 13 12   3  6  4 16 14    31   29
Reading              26  5  4  5 19 20   2  5  5  6 18    30   25
Stoke                26  4  3  5 15 21   3  5  6 12 19    29   27
Crewe                26  4  2  8 15 23   4  2  6 15 17    28   30
MANCHESTER CITY      26  4  3  6 18 14   3  3  7 13 17    27   31
Oxford Utd           26  5  4  3 16 12   2  2 10 15 28    27   31
Huddersfield         26  4  3  6 16 17   3  3  7 14 23    27   30
Port Vale            26  4  4  5 14 13   3  1  9 13 24    26   27
Tranmere             25  5  4  4 18 14   1  3  8 10 20    25   28
Bury                 26  3  7  3 12 13   1  6  6 12 21    25   24
Portsmouth           25  5  2  7 20 25   1  3  7  9 17    23   29

Russell Town (
With thanks to Soccernet


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Technical Problems: Paul –

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.

[Valid3.2]Ashley Birch,

Newsletter #362