Newsletter #523

A fairly short issue tonight, but with good news to report, namely the impressive performance against Stockport County (two match reports). Tomorrow night sees ostensibly, a much sterner test, especially for our defence; Hopefully Wiekens and Morrison won’t see too many strikers in the coming season, of the quality fielded by Liverpool. There’s also some opinion, various requests for pub venues – from London to Tokyo – to watch Sunday’s opener, a letter from Chris Killen’s mum (!), and a Why Blue.

This one reaches 2,664.

Next game: Liverpool at home, Tuesday 3rd August 999 (Friendly)


STOCKPORT COUNTY vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 31st August 1999

What a scorcher of day; now I’ve said before that I like football in the sunshine, but this was ridiculous, I just thank God that Pollock wasn’t playing because his tongue would have been stuck out more than usual. The team that started was Wright, Crooks, Granville, Wiekens, Morrison, Cooke, Kennedy, Whitley, Horlock, Goater and Dickov (not far off the strongest line up). City started off in a very bright fashion, in the first half I can only recall one Stockport attempt which flew over by quite a bit. City on the other hand had a hatful of chances. City were playing 4-4-2 and I was impressed how well they kept their shape. Stockport were all over the place.

I was again impressed with Granville, he looks like a good quality Premiership left back, I do really hope that he is here to stay. Kennedy was good in fits and starts, he’d look good then disappeared from the game for 20 minutes. When he does shine he looks a very good player, he takes players on and beats them with ease, but I would like to see him track back a bit more, go looking for the ball. I did like the look of the defence, Morrison and Wiekins looked solid and not much was going to get past them. City should have wrapped this game up in the first half, with chances from Dickov, Goater, Cooke and Kennedy.

Goater got the first goal, he rounded the ‘keeper and tucked it in with his left foot; it was a well taken chance but I am not convinced of his overall quality. He doesn’t put himself about at all, rarely wins headers. This I feel is the weakest part of the team, up front. The second half got underway and City were still on top but as the match drew on Stockport started looking better. They brought on Angell, and he duly scored, after a fine save from Wright. City brought on Brown for Cooke and Allsopp for Goater; for me Brown was hopeless, when he’s good he’s really good, when he’s bad he’s truly bad, and he didn’t do much. On the other substitution, Allsopp was everything Goater wasn’t, he was hungry for the ball, showing a real determination to win it and do well, he had one chance with a one on one with the goalkeeper and brought out a fine save, and in the last minute scored a goal which was well taken, this was another one on one, cries of “2-1 in your cup final” could be heard when the referee blew for full time.

Some bloke walked past us during the match doing his best impression of a peacock. Showing off the fact that he had the new home kit on, where he got it God only knows. Either he’s got some contacts or his mam is a dab hand with a sewing machine, knocking them out in the spare bedroom.

Walter Smith (


STOCKPORT COUNTY vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 31st August 1999

Arguably this was the most important game of our pre-season programme as we were playing a Division 1 team. If we play like this during every Division 1 game (and, as usual, learn to take more of our chances) then we may well have something nice to look forward to at the end of the season! Realistically, we’re are not going to play like this in every game and we are sure to come up against sterner tests than our near neighbours, but you never know…

City lined up as: Wright, Crooks, Wiekens, Morrison, Granville, Cooke, Jeff Whitley, Horlock, Kennedy, Dickov, Goater. I would guess that with the obvious exception of Weaver for Wright and possibly Edghill for Crooks, this, injuries permitting, is the line up we’ll see against Wolves on August 8th. From start to finish City looked fitter, hungrier, more committed, more skilful, had more ideas and were simply, and without any exaggeration, streets ahead of County. Kennedy again took the eye with a complete modern winger performance. His multitude of crosses had variety, accuracy and power. Terry Cooke was quieter in this game than against Everton, but that was due mainly to the play drifting to the left rather than any weaknesses in Cooke’s game.

Again Jeff Whitley was ‘the man’ in a powerful midfield performance (just what did they feed him during his time at Wrexham?!). The defence was rock solid and up front Dickov and Goater caused plenty of problems. However, (and you knew this was coming, didn’t you!) 2 goals, the winner coming from the impressive Danny Allsopp with the last kick of the game, was not a fair reflection of the amount of play and chances we had. The main issue on this occasion was not so much strikers fluffing chances, but midfielders not ‘gambling’ and getting into the box when it was obvious a cross was about to be released. As mentioned above, Kennedy’s crossing was superb, but so often the ball fizzed across the 6-yard box with only Dickov and Goater and occasionally Cooke anywhere near. I know that we can’t all rush into the box in a gung-ho fashion, but Whitley and particularly Horlock must get there more often.

Goater’s goal follwed a sweet move releasing the much-maligned striker in a one on one with the ‘keeper. He made no mistake. Allsopp’s was similar. So after singing the praises of wingers, both our goals came down the middle! In some ways this is a good thing. The problem with playing with 2 wingers is that it can leave the centre of midfield exposed, or if the opposing full backs do a good marking job, they can cut off the supply of crosses. This is where I feel Bishop will fit in. Sadly I don’t think that he will make the starting lineup with Whitley in this form, but he may well make a great super-sub. He can change a game (no more so in evidence than at Wembley) and he can change the focus of attack from the wings to down the middle. So all in all a good performance, playing attractive, attacking, passing football which is very pleasing to the eye. Still got to resolve the scoring issue though!

Phil Hartley (


Another Late Show

City notched a morale-boosting win in their penultimate pre-season friendly away to Stockport on Saturday thanks to another injury-time goal. This time it was Danny Allsopp who ensured the Blues came away with the spoils after County’s Brett Angell had equalised with six minutes remaining. City had dominated throughout (even Stockport manager Andy Kilner admitted his team was “overrun”) and the Blues took the lead on 34 minutes thanks to last season’s top scorer Shaun Goater. However, a combination of bad luck, bad finishing, the inspired form of home goalkeeper Carlo Nash, the woodwork and a disallowed goal saw to it that that the lead was never extended. All in all, it was an encouraging performance as City outplayed a team from the same division, though the failure to turn dominance into goals raised a familiar concern. Mark Kennedy followed his stellar performance at Everton on Wednesday with another fine display, especially in the first half, while an excellent contribution from Jeff Whitley leaves him favourite to partner Kevin Horlock in midfield once the League programme begins. Not surprisingly, Joe Royle was fairly satisfied with Saturday’s events. “We were well ahead in the first half,” reflected the City boss. “In the second, one or two of the lads just switched off, but at times I still thought we looked very good. If we’d taken our chances we could have avoided the scramble at the end.”

Royle Set for New Deal

Chairman David Bernstein has revealed that he’s hoping Joe Royle will sign an extended contract. Royle has two years remaining on the deal he signed twelve months ago, but the board is convinced that he