Newsletter #542

A very quite week, plenty of speculation (empty probably) on strikers, but nothing of substance really. This issue has Peter’s usual News Sumamry, a belated match report for the Port Vale game from Walter, opinion and a Why Blue. There’s also news of some success from our New York counterparts!

Lastly, could anyone who has been in touch with Alison Prior at Oxford University Press recently (last few weeks) mail either myself or Paul Howarth (see end of newsletter for the address). We need to sort out a mail routing problem but we can’t get in touch with anyone at OUP. Hopefully, someone on the MCIVTA list will be able to help. We know that somebody has been passing on MCIVTA to her…

Next game: Tranmere Rovers away, Saturday, 16th October 1999


Suffo Deal Put on Ice

City’s interest in Nantes’ Cameroon international Patrick Suffo has been placed on hold after the player returned to France to play in a friendly for his country against Saint Etienne. The 21-year-old was in Manchester at the start of the week for talks with Joe Royle, but the City boss saw his hopes of fielding the player in the reserves against Huddersfield thwarted. “Patrick trained with us for a day and should have played in the reserves but I couldn’t get permission to play him,” said Royle. Suffo has 25 caps for his country and is rated around the £1 million mark, though it’s rumoured that his club want to send him on a long-term loan rather than sell him. However, he has played only 13 games for Nantes, whom he joined at age sixteen, and didn’t figure for Barcelona’s senior side during a year’s loan at the Nou Camp. Although Royle was non-committal on the possibility of reviving his interest in the player, some reports claim that the City boss will travel to France to watch Suffo at the weekend and that the African could return to Maine Road at the beginning of next week.

Goater Blow Sparks Striker Speculation

Shaun Goater could be out for a month with his injured hamstring, and the loss of the Blues’ seven-goal leading scorer has sparked frenzied speculation that Joe Royle could be set to dip into the transfer market. Apart from investigating the possibility of bringing Patrick Suffo to Maine Road, the City boss is also rumoured to have been considering a list of domestically-based targets, with Birmingham’s Dele Adebola, Bolton’s Eidur Gudjonsen, Bristol Rovers’ Jason Roberts and Wycombe’s Jermaine McSporran the latest to figure in the tabloid guessing game. However, again Joe Royle has sought to play down talk of an imminent acquisition. “Shaun’s situation does not look great but we will have to monitor it over the next few days,” said Royle. “Gareth Taylor will be fit in two weeks’ time and we have Danny Allsopp and Paul Dickov. We also have the option to recall Craig Russell from Darlington,” explained Royle. “It is a popular myth that I am desperate to buy a striker. It is just not the case. Look at Fulham, they have Stan Collymore on loan, have just signed Karl-Heinz Riedle and they also have Barry Hayles – who cost £2 million – and Geoff Horsfield, who is supposed to be a big money target for Leicester City, yet they have scored fewer goals than us this season.”

Pollock Pompey Rumour Denied

Joe Royle has denied reports that out-of-favour midfielder Jamie Pollock is close to agreeing a £800,000 move to Portsmouth. Newspaper reports on Thursday morning claimed the deal was virtually done only for the City manager to dampen the speculation. Around sixteen clubs had scouts at Tuesday’s reserve game, including Portsmouth, and it’s reckoned the south coast outfit’s representative was there to watch Pollock. However, Royle insists that Pompey have taken their interest no further. “It’s the first I’ve heard of it. There have been no talks between Portsmouth and ourselves and they have not been talking to Jamie,” said Royle before going on to praise his former skipper’s attitude after the midfielder shed over a stone in weight recently. “I don’t think Jamie has been so light since he came out of nappies. Seriously though, he has got himself really fit and I can’t praise his attitude enough. He has been working exceptionally hard and is fighting fit to take his chance when it comes around.”

Meanwhile, Pollock also seems to see light at the end of his Maine Road tunnel after making the bench for last Saturday’s game against Port Vale. “It was great to be involved in the first team again,” he enthused. “It was a great boost to be in the squad although being out of the picture has helped me to re-focus on what I have to do get back in City’s first team. I have been working on my own, pounding the streets and watching my diet and it has resulted in the loss of about a stone. Getting sharper is something I had to do. The game is getting faster and faster in midfield and I knew I had to do something about my pace. The gaffer has been on at me about it for some time and the penny has dropped. I wanted to make sure I am super fit when I am called upon. It is a long season and an opportunity will come eventually, I aim to be ready when it does.”

No Rush to Seal Granville Move

Joe has also refuted talk that he would move quickly to finalise a permanent deal for loan man Danny Granville. Echoing his comments last year during the Terry Cooke saga, the City boss made clear that he feels there’s no need to rush to secure the full-back’s signature. “He has another month with us and, as with the Cooke loan, we have no need to push the situation,” he asserted. “He is here for the three months and the situation will look after itself. We are pleased with him and I know he loves it here. He enjoys the training, he loves playing football and he really enjoys being here. When the time is right we will speak to Leeds to see what can be done, if anything can be done.”

Fenton Leaves on Loan

Young City defender Nick Fenton has become the latest player to leave the club on loan. The 19-year-old has joined Second Division Notts County for a month to gain senior experience after being unable to force his way into the first-team reckoning since the turn of the year. Fenton has played once this season, featuring as a substitute in the League Cup game at Southampton on a night when Morrison and Wiekens were injured and Tony Vaughan was away on loan. Meanwhile, Thursday’s Manchester Evening News claims that Chris Greenacre could be on his way to Chesterfield for a month with a view to a permanent deal.

Reserves In Stalemate

Watched by rather than featuring Patrick Suffo, City reserves drew 0-0 with Huddersfield’s second string at Hyde on Tuesday. The Blues, who included Michael Brown, Jamie Pollock and Danny Allsopp in their side, had plenty of the play but were unable to break down a stubborn Terriers rearguard. Injured trio Gerard Wiekens, Gareth Taylor and Richard Edghill were all short of the required fitness to make a comeback but should each be available for the first team’s trip to Tranmere a week on Saturday.

Exit Looms As Russell Extends Darlo Stay

Striker Craig Russell has agreed to prolong his loan spell at Darlington for another month in a move which appears to confirm that his Maine Road career is all but over. Despite being frozen out of the first-team picture for virtually the whole of Joe Royle’s managerial reign, the ex-Sunderland man has frequently spoken of his desire to fight for a first-team place. Now, however, Royle has allowed the player to extend his stay at Feethams despite frequently criticising his team for a failure to take chances and even though his top-scorer is facing an absence through injury. Russell can see the writing on the wall and could be ready to make a permanent switch to the north east should Darlington manager David Hodgson give him the opportunity.

Other News in Brief

The Annual General Meeting of City shareholders takes place at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall on Friday, with the occasion expected to be a little more relaxed than of late thanks to improved on-field performances and financial results … The legendary Bert Trautmann will be at Sportspages bookshop in Manchester from 11.30a.m. to 12.30p.m. on Friday and then at Books Etc. Manchester at 2p.m. to sign copies of Manchester City Cup Kings 1956, available at £20 (it’s a limited edition with only 1,000 copies printed) … Work is about to start on laying the foundations of the Blues’ new home, the City of Manchester Stadium at Eastlands, with the first stone expected to be laid by a senior government figure – possibly even Tony Blair himself.

Peter Brophy (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. PORT VALE , Saturday 2nd October

Big Ian Bish Bosh