Newsletter #374

And so my swan-song; a brief McVittee to set you up for the weekend! I guess the news from this week is still sinking in, though the Ipswich result will have done nothing for anyone’s confidence, so it seems a bit of a subdued one to me. I wonder how Joe feels at the moment?

This issue has one match report, comment on the managerial merry-go-round, and an opportunity for some to drown their sorrows and hope for the best.

Ashley will be taking over again from the next issue so please adjust your mail programs and send him loads of stuff so he feels at home again! Thanks to everyone who has sent positive feedback on my editorial competence; I’ve enjoyed it but my wife still can’t figure us out 🙂

CTID, Geoff

Next game, Swindon Town, away, Saturday 21st February 1998


City took the field to the original ‘Boys in Blue’, Oasis kicked into touch; Joseph was given a warm reception. The team lined up:

Symons Tskhadadze Shelia
Edghill          Russell
    Whitley Whitley
  Rösler Beardsley

Subs: Beesley (Crooks), Crooks (Edghill), Bradbury (Beardsley)

Oh things started so brightly, tackles being won, passes finding the man, some pride, commitment and passion and to cap it all, an opening goal after 5 minutes. A quick free kick to Russell, who galloped down the wing, put a wonderful ball into the area for Symons to majestically head home (OK maybe I’m being a little melodramatic, but it was certainly a good start). For 10 minutes City played well but then it just seemed to go downhill from there.

The second half was a total anti-climax. City defended far too deep and the midfield was just in front of the defence, which left Ipswich unmolested to build attacks. When City did manage to break away, the lack of attacking players told; it was the norm to see 2, 3 or occasionally 4 players faced by a wall of Ipswich players. The Ipswich midfield was everywhere on the field, supporting both the attack and defence. When are City going to lose this defence minded attitude? More bodies have to be committed forward (look at the goal – a defender getting forward). Ipswich equalised when City succumbed to sustained pressure. Petta was allowed to cross from the right (left-footed), his ball curled into the box, Mathie went to flick the ball (I’m still not convinced he got a touch) and the ball ended up in the back of the net. Still City couldn’t break out and even Kinkladze was subdued in his right-wing back rôle (yes that’s right, that’s where he played the second half!). The only team likely to score the winner was Ipswich and so it happened, once more in injury time. Petta, this time on the left wing, played a one-two, beat Tskhadadze (who slipped), crossed from the bye-line and Dyer beat Symons to the near post to score the winner! So another defeat, only 14 more games to go and by everyone’s reckoning City have to win half of them (and we’ve only won 7 all season). Royle was upbeat about the game, he noted some good points, spotted the deficiencies and accepts it’s going to be a hard run-in.

Two points:

  1. Both Royle and Symons stated that City defended too deeply – wellthe pair of them should have urged the troops out!
  2. Royle was concerned about several players’ fitness levels – hmmwhat happened to City players being the fittest they have ever been,that doesn’t change overnight!

Hey hum, I know I shouldn’t have but I’ve already accepted relegation – that way if we stay up I’ll be delighted and if City do go down it won’t be as much of a shock to accept.

Martin Ford (


It goes something like this: Around the turn of the year, I sent in an article to MCIVTA to pass on the whispers I had heard regarding the apparently imminent replacement of Frank Clark with Joe Royle; indicating that the dirty deed might even happen before we played our FA Cup tie with Bradford.

I pointed out that the arrival of Dennis Tueart was of more significance to City’s immediate future than many suspected, as he had obviously not been brought in to pump money in to the club – at least not directly.

Needless to say, the rumours turned out to be without foundation – or so it seemed. I then contributed an article to “Bert Trautmann’s Helmet”, offering the opinion that City should stick with Clark, as I believed he would get it right – that things would begin to turn for us when Bradbury returned (along with one or two others) from injury, and our new Georgians had settled in.

Again, my ‘words of wisdom’ were doomed to ridicule as City promptly went from bad to worse – and only then decided to oust Clark and bring in Joe Royle! I just can’t win! I have to say that Clark has no room to complain about his dismissal – and to his credit he seems to have accepted it with good grace; despite the appalling manner in which he found out about it.

I am quite pleased with the new manager – I think Royle can do something positive for us – at least in the short to medium term.

However, I cannot help but muse over the circumstances surrounding the arrival of Royle. As we are all aware, after the Bury débâcle, major shareholder David Makin ‘phoned GMR to air his grievances against Chairman Lee.

It then transpires that Dennis Tueart was heavily involved in the appointment of Royle – first travelling to see him and discuss the matter, before putting Royle in touch with Lee. Considering the recent, very public spat between Francis Lee and David Makin; and the fact that Tueart’s arrival at Maine Road was at the insistence of Dawn Makin (wife of David – we know who wears the trousers in their house, eh?) – I am left wondering whether the appointment of Royle was in any way influenced by Francis Lee? Or whether Mr. and Mrs. Makin – who are firmly of the opinion that big investors are waiting in the wings – know something we don’t – yet.

Oh so Blue – The Kippax St Kid (

Oh great. Just to make sure we’re still paying off at least 2 if not 3 managers, and to try to achieve a squad size of 70 (money permitting) we appoint yet another new manager. I can’t say I’m surprised it’s happened and FC has looked like a haunted man in recent weeks. The team were playing s***e and he appeared to have absolutely no idea what to do about it so maybe it’s for the best that he’s gone? I thought for a brief moment we might ask Beardsley to become player-manager but no, surprise surprise it’s Joe Royle. Maybe he can give the squad the kick up the arse they require, and certainly initially judging from Granada TV the team looked more up for it than in recent weeks. However, once Ipswich scored, and they always looked like they were going to, we played s***e and the winner p****s me off no end but you couldn’t really have expected anything else with City.

If this appointment is to save FL’s fat arse then I doubt he’ll be able to stay much longer once we go down – still the most likely scenario.

The problem with sacking FC was, IMO, the way it was done. So that’s Horton, Ball, Neal, Book, Bell, McNab who were all victims of crass or mistimed sackings. Why are we so crap at this sort of thing? It’s not exactly hard to act with a bit of tact and sensitivity is it but we’re as likely to do it as play decent football. I still think we’re going down though as we badly need to win against Huddersfield, Oxford, Reading, Port Vale and Stoke as a minimum and I’d be amazed at the moment if we beat more than one of them. We shall see, or at least some of you will because I doubt if I’ll bother to go again. Watching death throes has never been one of my priorities.

Thomas Bodey (

As you will all be aware, the almost inevitable managerial merry-go-round resurfaces at the Academy of Calamities and claims another victim. Frankie boy, Alan Hill, Richard Money and the fitness ‘expert’ Peter Edwards have all been fired. In their places come Joe Royle and as his side-kick Willie Donachie (if the Blades give their permission), so the expected upheaval is here.

I know it’s what a majority of fans want, the removal of Clark, but I can only see the upheaval causing more uncertainty in the team. The change of personnel, the change of tactics and if any new players come in that change in players – just like under FC reign! Mind you that all depends on the players and whether they can understand the basic principles of football (or are they all as thick as pig excrement). Personally (I know a lot of people’s thoughts will differ), I would have left the change to the end of the season, if only for a bit of stability during this crucial run-in. Whatever happens, Joe’s not going to get the blame when we get relegated. He’s quoted as saying that City need to win half the remaining games to stand a chance of avoiding relegation, I can’t see where we’re going to get the points from.

Martin Ford (


Which other team could rely on thousands of supporters to turn up week in, week out? Considering City faced Bury (a defeat which consigned them to an automatic relegation place) there was still an attendance of over 28K. The next Wednesday City are in their worst position in 118 years, second from bottom of the league and yet still 27K turn up. Just how many were there to welcome the new manager is open to debate. So it looks like no matter how crap the team are, then they can still expect to play in front of massive crowds!

After the Ipswich defeat I watched Under the Moon on C4. Along with Danny (Spurs fan) the presenter, there was Chris Perry (Dons), Tom Watt (Arse) and Phil Daniels, I think (Chelsea). They had the usual phone-in, discussing various subject i.e. CC Cup games, Roy Evans, etc. One caller from Scotland wanted to discuss the situation at Maine Road; he claimed to be a shareholder, he said the appointment of Royle was a good move but the fact that FHL was still there wasn’t good. Everyone on the panel actually felt for us the fans what with all the changes and continued lack of success, in fact they reckoned we were the best.

Tom Watt made a very good point, he claimed that no other club would expect to get attendances of our size and therefore (a very valid point) we were in some way to blame for the lack of change at the top. He pointed out that by turning up in our thousands we gave the club the support (if falsely) that meant no change was forthcoming. He thought that if City were down to 6/7/8K to watch them then the board would have to sit up and take notice rather than continue in their secure manner. I agreed with every word he said, it’s so obvious, the only way to necessitate change to remove the support. The obvious example of how fan power changed things is to take a look at St James’. John Hall wanted to come and take over Newcastle but the previous chairman wouldn’t budge, that was until gates fell below 10K for a sustained period. Soon enough he gave in and Hall was welcomed in with open arms and the club hasn’t looked back.

So bearing this in mind, why doesn’t the ‘Free the Manchester 30,000’ think about the same drastic measures. FHL looks pig-headed enough to take verbal abuse at matches and demonstration afterwards, so why not hit him where it hurts the most, take away the gate money, beer money, programme money and souvenir shop money. Drastic measures I know but if everyone wants him out then why not?

Martin Ford (


Watching the Middlesbrough game on telly last night I couldn’t help comparing City’s recent history with theirs, and also Sunderland’s. The point is, both clubs got relegated, held on to their managers and are now challenging for promotion. I just hope that if things don’t immediately turn round under Royle, we don’t end up in exactly the same situation again this time next year…

Dan Nunn (


I came across this on the Sporting Life net page. I feel if says a lot about the way the rest of the footballing world see us. Read it all as not all of it is bad, they do have a nice word or two to say about us fans! So read on and enjoy!

Manchester City

By Frank Malley, PA Chief Sports Writer

It’s a toss-up which are the six most common words in the world of English soccer. “Michael Owen for the World Cup” and “Alan Shearer has scored yet again” come pretty close. But for sheer monotonous longevity “Manchester City have sacked their manager” wins by some considerable distance.

Frank Clark today became the 17th manager to pass through the revolving door at Maine Road since Malcolm Allison promised to build a team which would rule the world back in 1972. Since then, but for a lone League Cup win in 1976, the Maine Road trophy cabinet has been collecting nothing but cobwebs.

Now as they sit next to bottom of the First Division – the lowest point in their history – the city of Manchester has become the sharpest barometer for success and failure in English football.

In the red corner a shining example of how a football club should be run, in the blue corner a ramshackle excuse for a business which trundles its way aimlessly down the Football League road like those rag-and-bone carts of old on Manchester’s cobbled streets.

At Manchester United we have a club which backed manager Alex Ferguson through four fallow years, gave him time – 11 long years to date – to nurture a burgeoning youth policy and is deservedly reaping the rewards, a million times over, for its faith.

At Manchester City we have a club which has barely given any of its managers time to fill their desk, let alone empty it, in their relentless and too often misguided pursuit of short term glory in the shadow of Old Trafford. No-one says it’s easy. Imagine running a corner shop over the road from Harrods and you have some idea of the task faced by City over the last decade of United’s imperious rule.

And what of Francis Lee, City’s former prolific scorer who became a supporter and then dreamed he could return to recreate the heady glories of Bell, Summerbee and Lee with maybe a touch of Rodney Marsh theatre in the shape of the sublime Georgi Kinkladze.

No-one doubts Lee’s fervour, no-one questions the sentiments behind his “Forward with Franny” campaign which ousted reviled former chairman Peter Swales four years ago.

But changing managers like you might change boxer shorts, five now in less than four years, isn’t going forward. It’s careering towards the incompetent. After Brian Horton, Alan Ball, Steve Coppell, Phil Neal and Frank Clark today we have Joe Royle. I wonder if Lee had that many managers in such a short time when he was making millions in his paper business.

And yet Royle, in the short term, is probably just the answer. His record in 13 successful years with Oldham was exemplary. His no-nonsense “Dogs of War” approach to survival rescued Everton from the clutches of relegation just two years ago. He will no doubt save City from similar humiliation, but what then? Can the man who walked out of Everton when chairman Peter Johnson vetoed transfer dealings put up with Lee’s hands-on meddling? The signs are not good. Even Lee’s great pal Alan Ball, armed with a verbal agreement that he would not be sacked, fell to a broken promise.

But let’s not dwell on past mistakes, let’s instead spare a thought for the Maine Road faithful who, in what has increasingly become one of the great wonders of the soccer world, turn up week after week in numbers approaching 30,000 to watch their team lose to the likes of Bury. In a world of Bosman, bungs and 50,000-a-week pay demands that is what you call loyalty.

When two decades ago City still battled on a level playing field with United former Old Trafford boss Tommy Docherty used to trade sharp banter with those City faithful.

“There are three types of Oxo cubes,” he used to say. “Light brown for chicken stock, dark brown for beef stock and light blue for laughing stock.”

What has happened to City since is nothing less than a crying shame.

Yet one thing is certain – Royle’s recipe for recovery had better be of the fast-food variety.

PA Sporting Life

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


Was the Howard Davies writing in the last MCIVTA our celebrity supporter from the Bank of England?

Talking of stars, any news on Nick Leeson – when freed will he be able to provide a cash injection?

Good luck to Frank Clark – nice guy, wrong job.
Good luck to Peter Beardsley – good signing, possibly too late.
Good luck to Joe Royle – he’ll need it.

Tim ( not abroad really but sounds good)

If it is you Howard, can you have a word with Eddie G. and see if he’s got some cash to spare?



I’m ashamed to think it might be my fault, that City find themselves where they are. As a south coast follower I remember saying to a fellow Blue that I wish I could see more games. This was in the days when an annual trip to the Dell was the only fixture in reach (anyone remember Steffen Karl?). Alas, Portsmouth then became the next fixture to watch out for. Now closer, with Bournemouth a real possibility next season (City only 6 miles away, whatever next?!). I can only think that some almighty power heard my half-hearted plea and is acting accordingly. So I state to my well meaning sprite: ‘I don’t want City at Dean Court. I relinquish the chance to watch City locally. Now stop messing about and let them play decent football for the remainder of the season.’

Stuart Wells (


I am very sad Blue stuck in London and will be going to the Reading game next week… Will there be any McVitees meeting up beforehand?

Hope you can help…

Peter Harrison (PHarrison@HRMS.CO.UK)


Manchester City Supporters come along to meet players old & new at the Lantern Pike, near Hayfield, Cheshire. Free glass of beer, raffle, meet some of your all time favourite players from days gone by, this event will run from the 22nd till the 28th Feb. 1998.

For more details please contact George on 01663 747590 (ex City player and Landlord).

Christopher Woolley (


Full-time scores for Wednesday, February 18 1998

Manchester City          1 - 2 Ipswich Town
Symons (5)                     Mathie (83)
                               Dyer (90)
Norwich City             0 - 2 Tranmere Rovers
                               O'Brien (66)
                               Kelly (75)
Wolverhampton Wanderers  2 - 1 Bradford City
Robinson (43)                  Blake (58)
Bull (89)

Full-time scores for Tuesday, February 17 1998

Bury                     0 - 0 Stoke City
Charlton Athletic        1 - 1 Queens Park Rangers
Robinson (42)                  Peacock (pen 22)
Crewe Alexandra          0 - 2 Birmingham City
                               Adebola (42)
                               Hughes (45)
Nottingham Forest        3 - 0 Huddersfield Town
Van Hooijdonk (36, 80)
Bonalair (67)
Oxford United            2 - 1 West Bromwich Albion
Gilchrist (15)                 Taylor (63)
Francis (81)
Port Vale                0 - 1 Swindon Town
                               Collins (4)
Portsmouth               1 - 0 Stockport County
Claridge (15)
Sunderland               4 - 1 Reading
Quinn (21)                     Bowen (53)
Rae (22)
Phillips (46, 61)

Up to and including Wednesday, February 18 1998

                             HOME            AWAY
                      P  W  D  L  F  A   W  D  L  F  A   Pts   GS
Nottm Forest         31 12  2  2 36 16   7  4  4 15 12    63   51
Middlesbrough        31 10  3  2 28  9   8  5  3 23 17    62   51
Sunderland           30  9  4  2 31 13   8  3  4 22 16    58   53
Sheff Utd            30 11  4  0 28 11   3  8  4 18 20    54   46
Charlton             31 10  4  1 30 14   5  4  7 24 25    53   54
Wolverhampton        31 10  4  2 29 14   5  2  8 13 17    51   42
West Brom            32  8  3  5 17 14   6  4  6 17 17    49   34
Stockport            32 10  4  1 31 13   4  1 12 18 30    47   49
Birmingham           31  6  6  3 17  9   6  5  5 22 14    47   39
Swindon              33  9  3  4 24 16   4  4  9 11 30    46   35
Ipswich              31  6  4  4 20 14   5  8  4 23 19    45   43
Bradford             33  8  6  2 20 14   3  5  9 14 21    44   34
Norwich              32  7  5  5 16 20   4  3  8 15 25    41   31
Crewe                32  6  2  9 19 26   6  2  7 21 22    40   40
QPR                  32  7  6  3 19 14   2  5  9 16 33    38   35
Oxford Utd           31  7  4  4 20 15   3  2 11 18 30    36   38
Tranmere             31  6  5  4 21 14   3  4  9 15 24    36   36
Reading              31  6  4  6 22 23   3  5  7 10 26    36   32
Stoke                32  5  4  6 19 25   3  6  8 12 21    34   31
Huddersfield         32  5  4  6 17 17   3  5  9 16 32    33   33
Port Vale            32  5  5  7 20 20   3  2 10 17 30    31   37
Bury                 32  3  9  5 15 19   2  7  6 13 21    31   28
MANCHESTER CITY      32  4  4  9 21 20   3  5  7 13 17    30   34
Portsmouth           31  6  3  8 22 27   1  3 10 11 23    27   33

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 #374