Newsletter #370

Another clean sheet but draws aren’t good enough for us in our perilous position. At least 5 McVittee subscribers made it to the wilds of East Anglia for what sounds like a frustrating afternoon, albeit with a promising start from our latest Georgian. There’s the usual opinion, pleas for help and a full news round up from Steve.

City need you (cue Kitchener poster) – please take the time to cut, paste, complete and return the survey form from Steve Sayer at the club. He’s trying to gather support for developing the services provided by the official club site; what he has to say looks especially interesting for those of us who don’t live on the Manchester doorstep, so get your keyboards rattling!

This one goes out to 1,911 die-hards!

Next game, Bury home, Saturday 14th February 1998


Yet another lovely, sunny day dawned as we set off to Norwich for the latest in an ever lengthening series of “top days out”. The football, as usual, was not to contribute to the success of the day at all, but more about that later.

We arrived in Norwich just after 11 and went for a wander round the city centre before heading to the first pub at 12. Here we bumped into a rather large specimen of a City fan who took a bit of a shine to my mum so kept talking to us – he reckoned we should be trying to get Stuart Pearce as player-coach when he leaves Newcastle – hmm, why exactly would Psycho want to repeat all the mistakes he made at Forest and follow Clark into a dead end job which will end up in relegation? Anyway, enough of the optimism… Met up with some people (hello Mark, where’s your match report then?) in the Complete Angler next to the river, which was very pleasant and full of Blues, then went up to the Coach and Horses, which was also full of Blues. But, eventually the fun had to stop and we went to the game.

City lined up with Wright, Brightwell (capt.), Symons, Tsh-thingy, Edghill, Russell, Kinkladze, Brown, Crooks, Rösler and Bradbury. Subs were van Blerk, Whitley and someone else, who I’m afraid I’ve forgotten but it was another defender – great attacking options on the bench then. We were right on the front row, which is about the only place in the stand where you don’t get an obstructed view from one of the posts holding the roof up, and is also close enough to see the linesman’s ears going pink when he has abuse hurled at him. Which he did, fairly regularly. City started as by far the better team, dominating the first 20 minutes in terms of possession and forcing the ‘keeper to make, er, no saves. Crooks had a couple of good efforts which he hit straight at the ‘keeper with no power, more like a pass back than a shot really.

It looked as if all we had to do was be patient and we’d score. Hmm. Gio was getting hacked nastily every time he touched the ball and wasn’t at his best, although he still looked more likely to create a goal than anyone else on the pitch. He can’t win though, he made a couple of runs early on which only led to him being crowded out in the area because he kept the ball too long, but when he did release the ball, whoever he passed it to (whether Russell, Rösler or Bradbury) invariably fluffed it completely. Still, surely we’d score eventually… After about 25 minutes there was another bad tackle on Gio from the Norwich number 10, Craig Bellamy (who apparently has been booked in the last 7 games, not surprising really). The Norwich fans (and Bellamy) thought Gio retaliated, Bellamy spat at Gio and was immediately sent off. And deservedly so – I didn’t actually see the incident so don’t know whether Gio did elbow him, as was alleged, but even the Norwich fans weren’t surprised he was sent off.

So, Norwich were down to 10 men and only had Darren Eadie who looked as if he could be dangerous; surely we couldn’t fail to capitalise on our domination of the game now? Well, not exactly, in fact City seemed to feel sorry for the fact their player had been sent off and stopped playing. We still dominated the midfield (hey wow) but every time there was a chance of a break or a goal scoring chance it came to nothing. Norwich had a couple of chances too but also didn’t look as if they could score in a brothel (so to speak!). As this was my first match since Portsmouth I hadn’t seen Bradbury play except on TV, but I hope he just needs more match practice. He’s got a first touch like a fridge and is about as mobile. As for Rösler, well… anyone who watched the performance against West Ham in the Cup will recognise the same qualities in his game on Saturday.

Still, we were quite hopeful at half-time of managing to get a result in the second half, so Norwich would have been by far the more worried side during the half time interval. However, this being City, they let Norwich come back at them during the second half in a way that was embarrassing. Eadie looked dangerous on several occasions as he was cutting through the midfield but luckily Norwich are even worse in front of goal than we are. Tch-thingy (can’t spell his name, sorry!) looked solid and, like Shelia, is very good in the air. I felt quite sorry for Brightwell for the abuse he was getting from some of the people around us during the second half, as he just couldn’t do anything right – if he passed it back to Wright he was panicking and should just clear it to Row Z; if he headed it out for a throw in he was panicking and should take his time and play it out, and if he tried to take his time and play the ball out then he was having too high an opinion of himself and should just welly it.

Not surprisingly, when he did welly it he was criticised for that too. The Norwich No. 7 carried on where Bellamy had finished off and continually fouled Kinkladze every time he got past him. The stretcher had already been brought on once, and Kinkladze had recovered, when finally he suffered a crunching tackle that whipped his legs from under him. The stretcher came on again, and this there was to be no recovery. Gio went off, accompanied by some of the most disgusting behaviour from the home fans that I have seen for years. I can understand their booing Gio every time he got the ball – after all, he was instrumental in their player being sent off and he’s a far better player than they could ever hope to have. Stevenage booed Shearer; I can understand that too although I’m sure they won’t be doing it in France in the summer! However, the cheers that rang out and the celebrations that were going on in the home stands when Gio was carried off really sickened me. For all they knew he could have been injured so badly he never played again – would they be proud of their behaviour then? Probably. Van Blerk came on for Gio, no difference in the level of skill or talent there then. Whitley had also come on for Brown, who’d run around as much as ever but had seemingly taken over the Paul Dickov wearing-himself-out-with-nothing-to-show-for-it mantle. By this time, the sun had gone down and the pre-match drinks were starting to wear off.

I was getting bored and cold and was wondering more about how the rugby was going on than watching what was happening on the pitch. Eadie, thankfully, was substituted with about 15 minutes to go. One of the Norwich players also needed treatment at one point, so unsurprisingly the City fans reacted the same way as Norwich did when Gio went down. The mood was starting to get ugly in the stands when City reminded us just how awful they could be. A long through ball saw a Norwich attacker chasing towards it with just Symons (I think?) back with him. The attacker was closer to us so blocking my view of Symons, so when the ball appeared to come off Symons’ foot straight into Wright’s hands we weren’t surprised when an indirect free kick was given in the area. A Norwich fan on the train later was swearing to us that he’d handballed it so should have had a penalty; if that’s the case then we were lucky. The free kick, thankfully, hit Wright’s foot and bounced away to safety. That going in would just have summed the match up.

So, another turgid game of football, another two points dropped that we really should have had. I’ve now been to Norwich four times, and have seen three nil-nil draws and a 1-1. All terrible games of football, all good days out. Strange. I was trying to think of an optimistic note to end the report on, and all I could come up with was “at least we didn’t lose.” That’s not really much to celebrate is it? We’ve now drawn our last three games, three points out of a possible twelve is relegation form no matter how you look at it, and it isn’t as if this is just a bad spell we’re going through here.

Anyway, we had a laugh back in the Coach and Horses later on thanks to my mum and Willie Thorne (honest, it was him, especially with the Frankie Clark lookalike kit on!). No police escort this time but maybe there should have been – my mum ended up with a Norwich hat as a trophy, but then parents really do show you up don’t they? I blame her for making me support City in the first place…

Sharon Bennett


NORWICH CITY vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 7th February 1998

“There’s only one Frank Swift”

It’s a long trip to Norwich but traditionally a rewarding journey for the Blues who have an outstanding record against the Canaries. This season though, Norwich recorded only their second ever win at Maine Road and managed to hold out for a draw today despite playing with ten men for three quarters of the match. A sign of the times unfortunately.

The pub behind the away end had had a major re-vamp since last season and as usual was packed with Blues in good humour. When no response was forthcoming after a chant of “Norwich give us a song”, the Blues improvised with “I’ve got a brand new combine harvester”.

The good news team-wise was that Gio was fit to play and his compatriot Kakhaber Tskhadadze made his début on the left of a defensive threesome, with Kit Symons on the right and Bob Brightwell in the centre. There were no other changes from the side that drew at Tranmere, thus City lined up as follows:

  Symons  Brightwell  Tskhadadze
Edghill   Brown   Crooks   Russell
     Rösler      Bradbury

On the bench were Jim Whitley, Jason van Blerk and Paul Beesley (who I think was there primarily in case Tskhadadze tired towards the end, having had no competitive game for two months).

City started the game brightly and attacked their hosts from the outset. Bradbury and Rösler were closer to each other than last week and seemed to be working more effectively as a partnership. Indeed, it was Bradbury’s hassling of a Norwich defender which led to the first real chance as there was panic in the home defence and the ball fell loose to Rösler who sliced wide from a narrow angle but knew he should have done better.

City appear to have done some work on the training ground regarding corners this week. There was ample chance to see the results as the Blues won a constant stream of them throughout the match. They are now being taken by Lee Crooks, with Gio waiting at the far corner of the penalty area to collect any loose balls that may come his way. Unfortunately, none did, most of them being cleared out centrally rather than diagonally.

Halfway through the first half came the incident which should have been the trigger for City to take the game by the scruff of the neck and win it. As Norwich broke forward after a failed City attack, Craig Bellamy spat at Kinkladze in an off the ball incident. Remarkably, the referee saw it, and having already booked Bellamy, had no option but to send the youngster off. This really seemed to incense the home fans who turned their wrath upon Kinkladze; it was presumably his fault that Bellamy spat at him! When Gio was stretchered off the field towards the end, there were cheers from the home fans, a distasteful reminder of the reaction of Aston Villa’s fans on that fateful night in 1990 when Paul Lake suffered the knee injury that would end his career.

Although City continued to have the better of the game, it never looked like we had a spare man (I counted them, just to make sure). Kit Symons headed just over the bar with Marshall beaten but that was about as close as City came to scoring in the first half. At the other end, Norwich’s only effort of note was a twenty yarder from Peter Grant which went just past the post.

City started the second half strongly but the pressure was only sustained for a few minutes. The fans’ anxiety began to show again and there were many irate words aimed at Bradbury who didn’t seem to be challenging for the ball as whole-heartedly as he should have been. I felt that Rösler was playing better than his partner but when two gilt-edged chances fell the German’s way, he fluffed them both. Craig Russell was the supplier on each occasion, getting behind the home defence and pulling the ball back into the middle only to see the ball sliced agonisingly wide of the post each time.

As the game entered its last phase, City made two changes – Jim Whitley on for the hard-working Brown and van Blerk on for the injured Kinkladze. Whitley made his presence felt and added a bit of direction to City’s attacks but it was his sloppy pass that nearly led to a late winner for the home side, giving the ball away near the centre circle and setting off a counter attack which fortunately came to nothing as the resulting shot was sliced wide. Norwich seemed to realise at this point that we were there for the taking and the last five minutes saw them mounting their best spell of pressure of the game. In injury time, City conceded an indirect free kick 15 yards out from goal, dead centre, after Wright had picked up the ball following the faintest of touches by Symons – adjudged a back pass though I thought at the time it was for obstruction. The ball was passed to the side for Danny Mills to fire in a hard, low shot which was cleared off the line by Edghill. Phew. Soon afterwards it was full time and we were left to reflect on another two points dropped, for that was what it was.

On the plus side, it was another clean sheet and our reshuffled defence was rarely troubled. With Brightwell moved to the centre of defence, he had few opportunities to hoof the ball down the right flank to nobody in particular, which was certainly a plus point. Tskhadadze looked composed, technically sound and good in the air but will need a little time to get used to the speed of the English game – and must quickly learn not to pass the ball back to Wright. On one occasion he gave the City ‘keeper a bouncing ball to clear – my heart was in my mouth as Tommy managed to slice the ball with enough force to knock it 20 yards and away from immediate danger. Other than that, Wright was rarely called upon. I thought Edghill had a poor game. When getting forward, his crossing was inaccurate and he was caught in possession a few times at the back when trying to sell dummies to his opponent, usually the Canaries’ star man, Darren Eadie. Lee Crooks made more of an impression than at Tranmere, taking virtually all of the free kicks and corners (many of which didn’t even clear the first defender, much to the annoyance of the fans) and generally looking quite purposeful in midfield. He played some great passes, long and short, but some poor ones too. I’ll reserve judgement on him for the time being.

It’s a long way back from Norwich after a second consecutive scoreless draw; maybe we’re after Tranmere’s record? They won 3-1 today by the way and are now only behind us on goal difference, with a game in hand…

Paul Howarth (


I travelled with my usual optimism although I have to say at the back of my mind was the fact that the home side had defeated both Forest and Sunderland in recent weeks (a little worrying to say the least). We arrived to find a packed City enclosure but lots of gaps amongst the home supporters. Pre-match entertainment was by a dancing group with green and yellow pom-poms (what was that about then!). Somebody next to me complained about paying £16 for this somewhat sub-standard entertainment and the match hadn’t even started.

So to the match, and what about this; right in front of us City seemed up for it, with Norwich hardly getting a touch for the first 20 minutes. The fact that we didn’t really create many outright openings didn’t seem important at the time. We were dominant and I felt that my 2 vs. 1 prediction had been a bit pessimistic. A short backpass saw Bradbury get his toe to the ball but straight into the arms of the goalkeeper. Another ball through saw Symons (I think) get his head to the ball, Bradbury battled in the box and the ball broke loose for Rösler but his shot went over the bar. Then from a corner the ball broke for Crooks who tried a rather spectacular volley but put it past the post. On about 25 minutes Kinkladze was on the ball and being tackled by Bellamy of Norwich; some contact was made between the two and the Norwich player decided to spit in Gio’s direction. He had already been booked for bringing down Brown and there was only one decision for the ref.; we all waved him goodbye and he had plenty of time for a bath. So now my optimism had reached overdrive, we were dominant and they had ten men. This was going to be an away day to remember. However, at this point the pattern of the game seem to change, with Norwich closing ranks and looking more defensive, and although we continued to attack we didn’t really look like scoring.

Half time: 0 vs. 0

More entertainment from the dancers at half time although bizarrely they seemed to be dancing with no music. Anyway, I still felt that three points were there for the taking and Frank would come up with a master plan to unlock this game and send us home happy. The second half started with no changes in our line up and we continued to dominate. There were several chances with two falling to Uwe, who managed to miss the target on both occasions. The first arrived from a ball played down the left and crossed by Crooks (I think) and Rösler found himself on the penalty spot with the ball; he tried to steer it into the far corner but missed the target. He threw himself to the ground and beat his fists into turf; I’m sure he knew he should have at least hit the target. The second came from a rasping drive by Crooks which was parried by the Norwich goalkeeper into the path of Rösler whose shot went wide. Brown was taken off and replaced by Jim Whitley who showed some good touches. Gio was scythed down and replaced by van Blerk, who proceeded to hit a bullet of a shot into the stomach of a Norwich defender; it wasn’t on target but it was travelling at the speed of light.

At the end, after not making all our possession pay, we nearly threw away the whole game with some totally inept defending mixed with some bizarre refereeing. Norwich seemed to sense that they could get something from the game after 85 minutes of defending (they had obviously watched several of the City videos including Birmingham and Charlton to name but two). A sweeping move completely opened up a rather slow City defence to provide a great chance for Grant but he hit the ball over the bar. The next incident was a ball played over the defence for one of their forwards to run on to against Kit Symons. Just as I thought Symons had been done for pace he stuck out a foot and the ball flew into the arms of Tommy Wright. The referee decided that this was a back pass (quite what else Wright could have done with the ball is beyond me, although perhaps he could have taken it down on his chest, sold a dummy to the Norwich striker à la Jones at Tranmere!) and awarded a free kick on the penalty spot. The ball was hit towards the corner of the goal and played off the line by Edghill. Their final chance fell to Roberts who should have done better from 15 yards.

All in all this was definitely three points for the taking. We totally dominated the game before and after the sending off but we just seemed completely unable to break them down. This led to several periods in the play during the second half where we played the ball around their penalty area waiting for something to happen. The running off the ball was atrocious and when we did get the ball into the penalty area a Norwich defender nearly always got to the ball first. And at the death we almost threw it all away.

Full time: 0 vs. 0

When I reflect on the whole game the sending off was the worst thing that could have happened. At the time we were dominant because Norwich were stretched but when they went down to ten men they became much more compact and defensive. We really had no idea how to break them down. I wouldn’t normally quote the opposing manager but here is Mike Walker summing up the game on Radio Norfolk after the match: “We battled well with ten men, Man City had several chances to finish us off but couldn’t take them and that’s why they’re struggling at the bottom of the League. In fact we could have won it right at the death” (and they could have as well!). I saw the highlights of the game on Anglia television on Sunday. They could only find one highlight of Norwich until the last five minutes. The whole of the programme which is usually biased towards East Anglian teams could only find a catalogue of City chances being wasted. It was summed up on Radio Norfolk with the words “the battling ten men of Norwich hold Man City at bay and could have won the game at the end.” In truth we gave them the point because when we need to open up defences like this we seem to run out of ideas and up front we just don’t have the finishing power to punish the opposition.

Wright (6): Didn’t have much to do, but the little he had to do was not done with confidence. Several times I felt he was slow to come off his line and he just did not dominate his box. His poor kicking which is becoming legendary in these pages was again in evidence with a ball that was so badly sliced, with a couple of minutes to go, that it nearly ended up behind him!
Edghill (7): Look reasonable going forward. Didn’t have much to do at the back although he was caught in possession at the death and was very lucky to get away with it.
Tskhadadze (9): My man of the match. Look very competent and won everything in the air. He also tried to play the ball out of defence with some accuracy.
Bob (7): A pretty good display.
Symons (7): OK, although looked a bit vulnerable near the end.
Brown (7): A battling performance but not the most creative player on the pitch.
Crooks (8): A good performance. I think the rest of the side should take note of his shoot on sight policy. He could have had a couple of goals at least.
Russell (6): A few good touches. I think we need to use him as a striker and not in midfield.
Kinkladze (6/7): Largely ineffectual I’m afraid. Tried to take on four players at a time and always lost the ball to the fourth one. Looked pretty frustrated at not being able to unlock this ten men defence.
Rösler (6/7): Battled and won the ball many times in areas where it didn’t matter. In areas where it did matter, missed two golden opportunities and another which he would probably have scored a couple of seasons ago.
Bradbury (6): Very disappointing and largely ineffectual. Always seemed to be half a yard off the pace of the game.
Jim Whitley: a few good touches but was not on long enough to do any good.
Van Blerk: came on late in the game. Hit a screamer of a shot; OK it would have hit the corner flag but it was entertaining.

When we have Shelia and Wiekens back in defence I think we will have one of the strongest in the League. But we have to find a way of scoring goals because we won’t even stay up with more performances up front like this one.

Paul (Sparrow) Howe (


Just a few lines to let you all know how things went at the Norwich game. After 5+ hours on the coach we arrived at Norwich, with a large number of Frank Swift posters (thanks to Alex a.k.a. Margetson’s Love Interest and Noel Bayley of Bert Trautman’s Helmet fame, for the artwork on the posters); we headed off to the Coach and Horses to meet with a few friends. After getting a little lost we got to the pub at approx 1:30 to be met with a wall of sound; the Blues in the pub were in full voice!

After getting the beer in, Helen and I made our way to the noisiest group as we thought that would be them; we were right! Leaving Helen with them, I made my way around the pub handing out the posters; to my surprise I got a very good response! So much so that approx. half of the 150 posters went in there! The only bad point was one “Blue” who waited for me to be out of the way before laying into one of Tom’s mates with “You shouldn’t be wasting your time with these, get some out with Franny ones done!” Thanks to Tom’s mate for putting him right!

We had a few quick ones and headed off to the ground to hand out a few more posters; as we were doing this a cameraman (sorry person) came over and asked if he could take our photo’s for the local Uni news letter; if anyone from Norwich Uni is reading this please let me know if it is printed and if you can get me one (thanks to Steve “statto” Kay for the contacts). The last of the posters went very quickly and off we went to the game. Surprisingly there was not a minute’s silence (even after Helen and I rang Norwich and informed them about what we were doing!). Luckily, during the game L.T.B., M.o.K. and a number of others (sorry I cannot remember all your names) got a few “There’s only one Frank Swift” chants going.

I will not go into the game as there are many who are better at that than me but I wish to thank all the people above and the many others who took the posters off me and Helen and gave us words of support! We could not have done this without you all. A special word about Noel Bayley, who not only helped us with the artwork on one of the posters, but also printed the picture and a few words in this month’s Bert Trautmans’s Helmet. He also has done a very good piece on MCITVA’s history, spreading the word even further afield, which considering the venom he received from some of the people on MCIVTA surprises me. If he had not wanted to have anything more to do with MCIVTA, I for one would not have blamed him.

So to close, I do not know if we will make one person think before he/she starts up a Munich song, or if we just jogged someone’s memory, but I know we tried, which was more than the “club” did.

Tony “the tattooed donkey” Hulme, North Std Row13 Sec N St 10 (


Well I was five minutes late so I don’t know if anyone embarrassed us with that Munich rubbish. To be honest I think 90 minutes late might have been a blessing. Anyway, here are my points for Frank.

  1. Buy up the entire Georgian back four. They all seem to be pretty goodso far, and they’d all be speaking the same language. Find out theGeorgian for “Don’t pass it back to the ‘keeper!”
  2. Get some strikers. You have to admire Uwe though, it took more skillto miss some of those chances than to score. Which one was Lee Bradburyagain?
  3. Explain to the “wing backs” that being able to cross accurately intothe box is a desirable skill.
  4. Shouldn’t eleven versus ten put the team with eleven at some sort ofadvantage?

Anyway, I’m sorry for the cynicism but I can’t get to many games and when I do and then they get someone sent off in the 23rd minute, I shouldn’t find myself thinking “we might get away with a point” which to be honest I felt lucky to have that after the final few minutes. We should have massacred them but I find it hard to know who to blame. Nobody seemed particularly lazy, we had a lot of possession, we came forward, put them under pressure. Our forwards seem scared of shooting. No one can put in a decent cross. Gio is only happy to dribble the ball in.

I took my girlfriend, it was her second ever football match. She said “why don’t they shoot at the goal more, it’s very frustrating.” Now Frank, you’ve been to a lot more matches than my girlfriend, why can’t you see it?

Jim Sim (


Friday 6th February

The bloke that just won’t go away (no not Franny Lee. Or Frank Clark. Or Ged Brannan, Nigel Clough, Uwe Rösler etc.); Mike McDonald is again being linked in the press with a possible takeover bid. He’s apparently been canvassing money men in the City to form a powerful consortium to wrestle control away from Maine Road chairman Francis ‘Soft, strong & very, very long’ Lee. On the agenda in the bitter power struggle will be mass demonstrations outside the ground apparently – the same tactic used to help get Lee into the hot-seat nearly four years ago during the badly advised ‘Forward with Franny’ campaign.

The first demo could be called before City’s next home game against Bury on Valentine’s Day. The mysterious organisation behind the alleged protests are the ‘Free the Manchester 30000’ group, who aren’t really doing all that good a job in arranging said demonstration. I may just be being daft here but if you want the fans to help you protest, is it not a good idea to let them in on it? If their plan is to go about it by having a hard core then stirring up trouble outside the ground before or after the game then they’re going to win us no friends I’m afraid, and given the nature of some of the similar protests in the past it could cause serious problems.

McDonald was almost voted off the board at Sheffield United’s AGM last month (must be doing a great job there then), and is now apparently ready to go on the attack at Maine Road once more. The lifelong City fan, who claims he has been approached by shareholders, believes he can muster the financial clout to oust Franny. But Lee still has the full backing of major shareholder Stephen Boler, who is standing solidly behind his man.

McDonald said: “I’m a Manchester man and a City fan and it has been sad to see what has gone on.” To which I’d say “Aren’t you the chairman of a rival football club mate? If so, keep your nose out until it actually concerns you!” Dunno about anybody else but to me this situation seems to be taking a quite sinister, organised twist, and that begs the question of who’s actually involved with this smear campaign FC keeps banging on about, and what exactly are their motives?

Rumours abound of renewed Everton interest in Gio. Thanks to the sale of Speed and Hinchcliffe, Judas should just about have raised enough money to make a serious offer to the Blues for his services. There’s absolutely nothing to say there’s anything in it, but then there doesn’t seem to have been anything in the links to the 165 clubs he’s already been supposed to be joining this season, so why let the truth get in the way now?

The six Argentinian trialists who are busy trying to sell their bodies to the Blues are going to have to wait until next week to show off their skills, after this weekend’s baptism was called off. The South American sextet were due to turn out for City in an A team game against Burnley on Saturday morning but they’ve been withdrawn and will now appear in private practice matches behind closed doors against Preston and Stoke – both of which were scheduled for Monday.

Saturday 7th February

The McDonald takeover saga has taken another twist. The boy himself has stated in the press (sorry everyone, I’ve lost the actual quote!) that he has no intention of taking over MCFC but is acting as financial advisor to a group of businessmen who are! This bizarre behaviour must surely be jeopardising his position at Sheffield United even further as they’re sure to be unhappy that he’s involved at all with a rival club. I’m afraid I have to admit that I’m completely at a loss as to what might be going on behind the scenes/between his ears! Probably nothing in both cases I should imagine… answers on a postcard to the usual address!

Frank Clark has been singing the praises of Kakhaber Tskhadadze ahead of today’s probable début for City away to Norwich. He believes he has finally uncovered the man with the strength of character to help Manchester City hold their nerve as the relegation battle approaches the critical stage. The 28-year-old central defender from Alania Vladikavkaz has more than 60 caps for his country (he captained Russia before the break up of the Union, and now captains Georgia) and is nicknamed King of the Air because of his uncanny knack of winning every header he goes up for. Clark said, “He will be a terrific asset to this club. He has the strength of character we need. We’ve been looking for someone strong to set an example. I think we’ve found him.” Ooh, sounds exciting! Can’t wait to see him now! Anyone who can come up with a song for him, please send it in to MCIVTA because I’ve been scratching my head all week and haven’t come up with one…

Bit later on now (well, much actually) and surprise surprise, 0-0. Don’t wish to step on the toes of the match reports but we’re looking like two thirds of a useful side now to me, just need to sort the strikers out and we should be okay! Anyway, FC was obviously disappointed that after a good start we took our foot off when they were reduced to 10 men, “I thought we started very well and created plenty of chances but as soon as their player was sent off we stopped playing for some reason. I had a word about that at half-time and we upped the tempo for a while but at the end of the day we didn’t show enough quality in and around the penalty area to carve them open.” Too right Frank mate, too right. I’ve had enough, I’m off to bed!

Sunday 8th February

Nice one! City are set to report Sheffield United chairman Mike McDonald to the FA and Football League authorities concerning a ‘disrepute’ charge. McDonald has been speaking out in the press and has said: “I am a Manchester man and a City fan and it has been sad to see what has been going on at Maine Road.” That didn’t please Franny Lee too much who responded: “It is quite incredible that the chairman of another Football League club can make the kind of comments that he’s been making about Manchester City. I am always ready to listen to people who are genuinely interested in helping City. I have spoken to so many people about so called consortium interest but they have led to nothing.”

Tskhadadze became the staggeringly high 32nd player to pull on a first team shirt this season at Norwich yesterday, and pleased the boss no end, “Tskhadadze played on the left hand side of the three-man central defence and did okay but he prefers to play in the middle of the defence.” This obviously leaves a problem when Shelia returns from his ban and Wiekens from injury. We now have Shelia, Tskhadadze, Symons, Wiekens, Brightwell and Edghill (not counting Vaughan and Morley) all vying for a place in hopefully a four, but more likely a five man defence, and it increasingly looks as though Wiekens will have to be pushed up the pitch to make room…

Monday 9th February

Surprisingly (well, I was surprised anyway) Gio flew out to meet up with his international team mates in Malta, despite having little or no chance of playing according to FC, “We hope it’s just bruising but his ankle is black and blue and it doesn’t look too good. It’s too early to say how long he’ll be out. The least I can do is let Georgi go after they gave us permission for him to play against Norwich but there’s no way he’ll be fit enough to play for them.” This makes him a serious doubt for the Bury game, and with Shelia suspended this leaves us with the nightmare scenario of possibly having to play with only one Georgian in the side! How will we cope?

Paul Dickov’s scans on his injured ankle have given City a much needed boost, showing no breaks, just severe bruising. No word yet as to when he’ll be fit again but he’s another unlikely to make the Bury match, with Ipswich being a more realistic target.

Right, now we’ve got the defence sorted out and the midfield showing signs of promise what we need is a good goal scoring drought just to get things back on an even keel! And thankfully, it looks like we’ve got one coming along quite nicely. Uwe was inconsolable after squandering a hat trick of decent opportunities, and said, “It’s my fault. I should have buried those chances.” FC nobly stepped in to deflect the criticism with some words of wisdom, “Of course he’s annoyed and at the moment it’s just not going for him. It’s important we start winning our home games because the season is moving towards the end and we are involved in a fight for survival.” And you know what, I’ve just had a look at the table, and he’s right! Why has no one mentioned this before?

Craig Bellamy, the phantom gobber of old Norwich town, has been condemned by his own manager for his quite disgraceful behaviour on Saturday. Mike Walker said, “Bellamy has got to learn and we will hit him where it hurts in his pocket.” Sounds a bit harsh to me, but if he wants to run his team under threat of physical violence then it’s up to him I suppose… Oh, hang on, I’ve missed a bit of the quote off! “He will be fined,” Ah! Now it makes more sense. “As a former player, I would rather have someone kick me than spit at me. I think it’s a despicable habit and I can’t condone it at all.” Well said that man! Rumours were quickly quashed that God fearing Glenn Hoddle, in an attempt to mediate in the situation, had suggested that Norwich use the ‘eye for an eye’ punishment suggested in the bible and that Bellamy should visit Maine Road and allow the City players a ‘free spit’ at him with no fear of retaliation…

Last bits now, the Argies’ trial matches have still not taken place, and will happen ‘shortly’, and the reserves are in action tonight in a Pontins League game against Wolves at Telford United’s Bucks Head ground. Should be fun.

Steve McNally (


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On Tuesday, 10th February, the second meeting of the Students’ Branch of the Official Supporters’ Club will take place at the Platt Lane Complex. Michael Brown will be the guest, along with a couple of the youth/reserve teamers – whoever he can persuade to come along with him! Other branches who’ve had Browny as a guest have told me he’s a good laugh and is not scared to “tell it how it is” where City’s concerned, so it should be a good night. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a student – the more the merrier, so please come along if you can. 8.30pm start, 50p entrance.

Nina Haigh (


Get your kits on… 5-a-side starts here!

Confirmation. I have booked the Armitage Centre on Sunday 15th Feb 2:00-3:00,. the indoor hall (A), in the name of Ford (the Armitage Centre is the Manchester Uni’s sports centre, it’s on Mosseley Road, Fallowfield).

So bring along your trainers, shirts and short for a kick-around.

If you’re interested can you let me know so I can have a rough idea of the numbers wanting to play.

See ya Sunday.

Martin Ford (


Don’t know the name but go to the pub opposite the exit of the train station (about 15 minutes from ground): do not try to get a drink closer to the ground! The pubs closer were all restricted to home fans last season and it was p***ing with rain; we ended up getting a cab back to the station at 2.20 pm just to get a drink! It’s a good pub for after match as well; last season we had wall to wall singsong with plenty of Swindon fans joining in (they won of course!)!

Gareth Ryan (


Im a Norwegian Blue who is coming over to watch the Swindon and Reading matches, so if you know about any places to meet, I would be glad if you could send me an e-mail, or write it in the next MCIVTA.

Bjørn Hunt
Kongsgrd Alle 7, Rom 308 B
4631 Kristiansand

Tlf :90796152 (Hybel)
     38269593 (Hjemme i Mandal)

Has any ticket/non ticket info been released for the Swindon game on the 21st. Feb. the Reading game on the 24th Feb. both away and the home game against W.B.A. on the 28th? If anybody can help please let me know. Being an exiled true Blue, the chance to see 3 games in 8 days hasn’t happened since the late sixties.

CTID, Ron Smith (


There will be a juice bar crawl in doha to celebrate the stunning draw with Tranmere last week; the action was shown on QBS (Qatar Broadcasting Service) this week. The country is nominally dry so you have to get your drink orders in early:

Large QR5 orange, banana, mango
Small QR3 as above
Club sandwich QR 5
Shrimp sandwich QR 4
There are no kebabs as all the goats met their maker at the Eid celebrations last week.

P.S. there some really crap teams here, get FC to send a scout.

Paul (
General Sec, Treasurer, Member of City supporters’ Doha Branch, Qatar


An Apology, A Plea & A Blatant Plug

This seems to be the best place to apologise to anyone and everyone who’s tried to reach me via e-mail of late; I’ve had software problems these last couple of weeks and I’ve not been able to respond… sorry. Anyway, I’m back on now so I’ll try and respond ASAFP!

A plea to the Blue who lives in Perth, Oz to get back in touch as his e-mail address has disappeared into cyberlimbo.

Finally, a blatant plug. Yes, the long awaited new issue of “Bert Trautmann’s Helmet” will be out at Norwich on Saturday; available either in The Compleat Angler (opposite station – provided we don’t get stuck behind a combined harvester on the way) and/or outside the ground. This issue (No. 16: The Comedy Of Errors Special) includes an article kindly provided by Ashley: “MCIVTA – A History.”

Adios amigi, Noel (


Advertised in Manchester University’s newsletter “This Week/Next Week” is a book called “Attitude Blue – Crowd Psychology at Manchester City FC” written by Dr Chris Murrey available from Blackwells (Uni. Precinct), Price £3.50. I’ll comment further when I can get hold of a copy.

Yvonne Cain (


Living abroad you get asked all sorts of questions about your team. The most common one of course being ‘Why don’t you support United?’ Now I’ve finally got myself a genuine article laser blue shirt, I just know I’m going to be asked about those stars. Does anyone have any idea why our shirt has three stars on it?!

The Brazilian national team’s shirt has four which, not surprisingly, represent their four World Cup wins. But what have City won three times? Two championships, four F.A. Cups – no obvious threes spring to mind (that’s one advantage of supporting a club that’s been crap for ages; at least you don’t lose count of those all-important stats!).

Another possibility would be the example of Brazilian club side Gremio. They have four stars, each a different colour to represent triumph in the four most prestigious things a Brazilian team can win – League, Cup, Libertadores (a sort of Champions League for S. America) and World Club Cup. We’ve won the League, the Cup and a European Cup. Am I barking up the wrong tree here? Is there a simpler explanation for this? Did they just think it looked nice and ‘continental’?

Daniel, Blue exiled in Brazil (


For all those who think FC is a crap manager I’m afraid I have some news for you; FC is an excellent manager (IMHO).

Having spoken to someone who works very closely with the club on the way back from Norwich on Saturday I am now enlightened.

It was great to put all the questions that have been sitting there unanswered for months (years?) and receive plausible and consistent answers.

The problem this club has is no money to spend on quality players now, and believe me we have been in for some quality – the guy from Montpellier (amongst many others), who didn’t come because Juve came in for him, even though they didn’t follow through – so we bought Bradbury, who is one for the future, so be patient, as is Scully and numerous other youngsters, such as Conlon – so get off their backs. You’ll be pleased to know we virtually had Pearce, but Newcastle came in with a wage offer we could not match (it was a biggie), and he was just the sort of leader this club needed on the pitch, and still need.

Yes, we only have Dickov and Rösler as finished article strikers, but as there were no quality strikers available in the summer as finished articles that we could afford or wished to come to City, we had to make an investment purchase in Bradbury – also, a lot of players we have been in for (such as Baggio) won’t come to a First Division club and with a history of repeatedly changing managers – would you?

For those of you who think FC is a crap manager, and cite Forest – this is the guy who took a relegated team straight back up on a fantastic run, with a quality team (these were Clough’s boys remember), to 3rd in the Prem, quarter-final in Europe the next season. When replacement players were needed the Forest board refused to stump up the cash, and would only give him small beer (the odd million here and there), so was forced to gamble on the likes of Silenzi, instead of purchasing real quality for 3 or 4 mil (at the time).

FC did the business last season and kept us up (remember?), by getting players to play in their best positions (as per Gio moving further forward) and bringing in a few temporary buys to fill gaps (Beesley), but now it’s time to replace them (now we have a defence of Wiekens, Tacky and Shelia – excellent quality, who Prem clubs have already been in for, but have been told to F.O.). You may ask why he doesn’t play 4411 (and so have I), but FC thinks the best formation is 352 and as a manager with a great deal of experience and respect from other players and managers in the game, I’ll take his word for it.

FC does not only turn up to training on Fridays, as has been incorrectly touted around, and FHL has no say in team matters at all. Both of these rumours are b******s.

The person who really screwed this club with Mr Alan Ball, and some of the things I was told were shocking. That man was a disgrace and did more to ruin team spirit and individual players than anything I could imagine. The players have just about recovered, but their confidence must have been shattered by the time that guy went.

FC is building for the future, but on a very limited budget, hence us looking at those Argentinians (all six are dual nationality with either Spain or Italy), and the Georgian we’ve brought in for a relative song. When more funds are made available, then FC will bring in more quality, but bearing in mind this club is skint and deeply in debt (getting better though), fans must be patient – it took 20 years to put us in this position, it will take 5 or 6 to get us back on an even keel – painful to hear, but facts are facts.

Uwe has been made a very generous offer (and he won’t get one anywhere near as good elsewhere), and IMHO is being very foolish not accepting it – he is not a multi-faceted striker, hence that limits him to a certain type of play. He is a player and if he does not like the current style and refuses to change, then let him go. Managers are just that.

Another thing to remember is the developments in the youth side of things, the first since before Reid. Paul Power and his very youthful squad, who have been impressive. And the extensive scouting organisation (international) that has been set up. All this would in all likelihood be lost if the FC team left – a tragedy.

FC is trying to get rid of the deadwood, and this will take time, hopefully by selling, but if not then as contracts run out. Brannan was a good player at Tranmere, and could be here, but when he played on the right he had the Kippax giving him crap all the time, hence his confidence was destroyed. He has played well for us a couple of times (Forest 3-1), so give the guy a break and back him and the others instead of barracking them. At least he tries, which is more than can be said for Scummerbee (and he went because of it).

FC has a quality management team around him, and it would be criminal to lose him and them, so we must do our very best to keep him and them if we want to get back to the top.

I guess the keyword here is patience. We have the management team, we have some of the players we need to get back (Wiekens, Shelia, Tacky, Horlock, Edghill, Brown, Russell, and some for the future; Scully, Bradbury, Conlon, Greenacre, Morley, the Whitleys, but by no means all – that will happen over time), we have success off the pitch with Kappa and commercial development. Please give these guys the chance to do the business, but for the long term (see Forest get promoted, then come straight back down again).

Claudio Avrili (


After looking at DOSLA, it has come to my attention that we are the only team not to have successive wins in the League this season. Even Portsmouth and the like have had back to back victories! I think the last time we had a season without consecutive wins was when we were relegated in ’87, although I’m not totally sure.

Just think what it would feel like to get 6 points from 2 games… aaaahhh bliss!

Keep the faith.

Benjamin Harry Bloom (


Full-time scores for Saturday, February 7 1998

Birmingham City         1 - 1 Middlesbrough
McCarthy (3)                  Festa (38)
Bradford City           1 - 0 Charlton Athletic
Blake (19)
Bury                    2 - 2 Port Vale
Battersby (30)                Mills (10)
Ellis (60)                    Bogie (17)
Huddersfield Town       1 - 0 Stockport County
Allison (53)
Norwich City            0 - 0 Manchester City
Portsmouth              0 - 1 Nottingham Forest
Queens Park Rangers     3 - 2 Crewe Alexandra
Kennedy (43, 59)              Anthrobus (62)
Ready (78)                    Johnson (72)
Reading                 1 - 3 Tranmere Rovers
Williams (75)                 Irons (10)
                              Kelly (65)
                              Branch (72)
Sheffield United        1 - 0 Oxford United
Ford (43)
Stoke City              1 - 1 Ipswich Town
Holsgrove (15)                Holland (78)
Swindon Town            0 - 2 West Bromwich Albion
                              Carbon (40)
                              Evans (81)
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 - 1 Sunderland
                              Ball (88)

Full-time score for Wednesday, February 4 1998

Middlesbrough           3 - 0 Tranmere Rovers
Hignett (31)
Merson (38, 65)

Up to and including Saturday, February 7 1998

                               HOME            AWAY
                        P  W  D  L  F  A   W  D  L  F  A   Pts   GS
  Nottm Forest         30 11  2  2 33 16   7  4  4 15 12    60   48
  Middlesbrough        30  9  3  2 27  9   8  5  3 23 17    59   50
  Sunderland           29  8  4  2 27 12   8  3  4 22 16    55   49
  Sheff Utd            30 11  4  0 28 11   3  8  4 18 20    54   46
  Charlton             30 10  3  1 29 13   5  4  7 24 25    52   53
  Wolverhampton        30  9  4  2 27 13   5  2  8 13 17    48   40
  West Brom            30  8  2  5 16 13   6  4  5 16 15    48   32
  Stockport            30  9  4  1 30 13   4  1 11 18 29    44   48
  Birmingham           30  6  6  3 17  9   5  5  5 20 14    44   37
  Bradford             31  8  6  2 20 14   3  5  7 13 18    44   33
  Swindon              31  9  3  4 24 16   3  4  8 10 27    43   34
  Norwich              30  7  5  4 16 18   4  2  8 13 23    40   29
  Ipswich              29  5  4  4 15 13   4  8  4 21 18    39   36
  Crewe                30  5  2  8 16 23   6  2  7 21 22    37   37
  QPR                  30  7  6  3 19 14   2  3  9 14 31    36   33
  Reading              30  6  4  6 22 23   3  5  6  9 22    36   31
  Oxford Utd           30  6  4  4 18 14   3  2 11 18 30    33   36
  Huddersfield         30  5  4  6 17 17   3  5  7 15 24    33   32
  Stoke                30  5  4  6 19 25   3  5  7 12 20    33   31
  Port Vale            30  5  4  6 18 17   3  2 10 17 30    30   35
  Man City             30  4  4  7 20 17   3  5  7 13 17    30   33
  Tranmere             29  5  5  4 18 14   2  4  9 13 24    30   31
  Bury                 30  3  8  5 15 19   1  7  6 12 21    27   27
  Portsmouth           29  5  3  8 21 27   1  3  9 10 20    24   31

Russell Town (
With thanks to Soccernet


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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]Geoff Donkin,

Newsletter #370