Newsletter #567

The Blues took just a point from Gresty Road today after leading for nearly 70 minutes. However, we’re still top by two points – despite all the top teams bar Huddersfield winning today. We have a match report courtesy of Phil, as well as the news and some opinion.

Next game: Leeds United at home, Sunday 9th January 2000


Lead Cut to Two Points

Gresty Road’s best gate for 33 years saw home team Crewe and visitors Manchester City fight out a 1-1 draw today. And with Charlton, Ipswich and Barnsley all winning, the chasing pack took advantage to close on the Blues. A crowd of 10,066 saw the Blues stun their hosts with a sixth minute opener from Lee Crooks, who replaced ‘flu victim Richard Edghill at right back. But Rodney Jack rescued a point for the Railwaymen with a 73rd minute equaliser. City are top with 52 points from 26 games, two points ahead of Charlton, who won 3-0 against Nottingham Forest. Ipswich, 2-1 winners at Port Vale, now have 49 points, while Barnsley’s 2-0 success at West Brom takes them on to 48. A further point back are Huddersfield, second at the start of play, who slipped three places courtesy of their 1-0 defeat at Birmingham.

Royle Confirms Tur Interest

Joe Royle has confirmed their interest in Danish centre-back Diego Tur. The 28-year-old, currently with FC Copenhagen, will fly into Maine Road this week for a four-day trial and will feature in a reserve match during his stay. Royle said, “We’ve had a good recommendation about him, so we will take a close look.” With Andy Morrison expected to be missing until later in the month, City currently have only transfer-listed Tony Vaughan as central defensive cover, though youngster Nick Fenton is due to return from his loan spell at Notts County after playing his final game for the Meadow Lane outfit on Bank Holiday Monday. Joe Royle has rejected a request from County to borrow Fenton until the end of the season. Tur is available on a Bosman free transfer in the summer but it’s claimed that City may want to do a cut price deal before then. Reports are also still linking City with Leeds midfielder Alf-Inge Haaland, though that move looks unlikely following the signing of Tony Grant.

Preston Deny Allsopp Move but Rumours Persist

Preston last week denied making an attempt to sign City striker Danny Allsopp on loan but the Lilywhites continue to be linked with the player. Persistent rumours allege that North End boss David Moyes is an admirer of the young forward and reports on Wednesday claimed that Joe Royle had refused the Lancashire club permission to sign the Australian on a temporary basis. In response, Preston’s deputy chairman Derek Shaw said, “That’s a new one on me. I haven’t heard David mention Allsopp.” Royle agreed a fee of £300,000 with Gillingham for Allsopp last month but the player refused to move south. It’s thought in some quarters that the Blues manager would accept a similar bid now but will not sanction a loan move. And weekend reports suggested that, notwithstanding the reaction from the Deepdale boardroom, Moyes could be ready to make a bid for Allsopp’s services. Meanwhile, Joe Royle is also said to be discouraging clubs interested in taking Gareth Taylor on loan, and is also insisting on a permanent deal for the transfer-listed striker. Meanwhile, Chris Greenacre, who will return from Mansfield this week if his loan isn’t extended, scored again for the Stags on Monday in a 4-3 win over Torquay.

Peacock Looking to Open His Account

After featuring in the two Christmas games as a deputy for flu-stricken Robert Taylor, Lee Peacock was once more replaced by the ex-Gillingham man in the City attack at Crewe on Monday. Before the New Year holiday, the recent signing from Mansfield spoke about his attempts to score his first senior goal since arriving from Field Mill. Peacock was the Stags’ top scorer last season and notched seven goals this term before his switch to Maine Road. But despite his failure to find the net since then, the 23-year-old Scot insists he doesn’t feel under pressure. “It is just getting that first goal and hopefully going on a good run until the end of the season,” he explained. “I know I should be getting into the box where the goals are. But I don’t feel any pressure. I know it [the first goal] will come with hard work.”

Fans Give City £3 Million Boost

Chairman David Bernstein was delighted this week with the news that two thousand City fans have subscribed for shares in the club. And as a result the Blues will benefit from a £3 million cash boost. The shares are available as part of the package which sees broadcaster BSkyB take a 9.9% holding in the club and become City’s worldwide media agent. Bernstein described the news as “absolutely fantastic” and the cash raised, along with the remainder of the package which could eventually be worth over £20 million, should see the Blues start year 2000 unencumbered by the crippling debts of the past.

Edghill to Ignore the Critics

Richard Edghill was the subject of abuse from some sections of the Maine Road crowd after his howler which almost cost the Blues two points against Grimsby on Tuesday. But the City full-back doesn’t intend to allow the criticism to detract from his performances. “There is not a footballer in the country who goes through a game without making an error,” said the Blues’ longest-serving player. “The only thing you can do is react in the right way. The boos were disappointing but you have to get on with it.” Boss Joe Royle backed Edghill immediately after the game and two-goal hero Kevin Horlock was equally fulsome in his praise for the ex-England under-21 defender. “The boos were unjust,” he insisted. “Richard is a hell of a lad and a hell of a player who loves this club.”

Academy Chief – We’re on the Right Track

City’s Academy Director Jim Cassell has been telling the Manchester Evening News about the club’s progress at youth level. And Cassell believes that the Blues have “put themselves on the map” in terms of finding young talent. In the era of multi-million pound transfer fees, it’s more important than ever that clubs groom players from their youth ranks. While Cassell admits that City “still have work to do”, he’s pleased with progress so far. “More and more youngsters are wanting to join City these days,” enthused the former Oldham Chief Scout. “We are starting to attract the top end of the schoolboy range. I think it is the greatest message we can send to people that we are on the right lines.”

Peter Brophy (


CREWE ALEXANDRA vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Monday 3rd January 2000

City started with the following line-up: Weaver, Crooks, Wiekens, Jobson, Granville, Pollock, Bishop, Grant, Horlock, Goater and R Taylor. So a slightly unfamiliar line-up for the first game of 2000.

Crewe started as if the game was their cup final and immediately had us on the back foot. However, it was City who struck first, with a sweet move involving Bishop, Pollock and Taylor who slotted through a ball for Crooks to race onto and score from an angle – a similar goal to Granville’s against WBA. Soon after Goater was put through and brought out a good save from Jason Kearton. Our midfield looked mobile and fluid, with Grant in particular catching the eye. He broke up play, passed well, ran with the ball and (in the first half) put in a ‘complete’ midfield performance. Horlock too, playing wider on the left looked good and hit a screaming 25-yard first timer, which was just too high. Bob Taylor was clearly not fully fit, but I was amazed at the stick he was taking from several Blues around me. They’ll be singing his name come May, I’m sure of that. Dickov replaced Bob at half time.

Rodney Jack was Crewe’s danger man, playing on the shoulders of Wiekens and Jobson, but was well marshalled by our two centre backs. You always felt that we needed a second goal though, as Crewe played some great stuff at times, although they overplayed on occasion. The second half kicked off with Crewe looking more determined and they threatened to break through on more than one occasion. Nevertheless, we defended solidly and threatened to hit them on the break, although it was clear that we sat back too deeply at times. A long ball was headed by Wiekens in an attempt to control the ball before presumably clearing it. However, unfortunately for Gerard and for us, he miscontrolled his header, Jack rounded him and was left with a one on one with Weaver. Jack drew Weaver out and calmly slotted the ball past him. Immediately Grant was surprisingly replaced by Whitley (Tiatto had already replaced a presumably injured Granville). City pressed and probably created our best chances of the half when Goater volleyed wide from a great but difficult ball from Tiatto and then Whitley appeared to be bundled over in the box for what seemed to be a clear cut penalty. But 1-1 it stayed. A disappointing result given the start we had, but probably a fair result. However, but for Wiekens’ slip, we would surely have added another ‘1-0’ to our collection. That’s two defensive errors in two games now. Something we must eliminate!

Phil Hartley (


Today I read, much to my disbelief, that the Danish defender Diego Tur from FC Copenhagen, is on trial at City. Please JR, don’t by him, he’s a cr*p player. FC Copenhagen is a “high society” club, much like Chelsea (after Danish standards, of course), and Diego Tur is much better off at a golf course, than at a football pitch. I know we have a long tradition of signing useless players, but don’t make a habit of it again.

CTID, Niels (


C  rooks
R  ifled
E  xpected
W  inner -
E  ventual
D  isappointing
R  esult
E  nding
W  ith
E  qualiser.

Steve Maclean (


This is an article I’ve been intending to submit for a while, but I was waiting for the right time to do it. Then Simon Fink’s article in a recent McVittee echoed what has been going through my mind for most of the season. In fact he put his fingers firmly on several points (maximum of 8 obviously).

I’m sure this will be perceived as pretty negative by many readers… but what the hell, let’s open up a debate eh? So taking a deep breath, and remembering you all probably hate me already for the Acronyms and Birth Date Scores – so it can’t get any worse! – what I would like you all to do is put your hand firmly on your heart (not literally, or it could get a bit messy) and ask yourself the question:

“Of the current squad, how many could you honestly, truly, deeply say are of Premier League quality?”

And before you count them up properly, decide how many you think there should be to enable City to survive if we get promoted (I’d suggest at least 8). Here’s my thoughts on it:

Weaver: Yes, a definite. Just his tendency to get a bit cocky worries me. He’ll probably get badly caught out a couple of times. But he’ll get better with age.
Edghill: No on balance. I know he did play in the Premier League before, and personally I thought he was fairly good. But I think his best days are behind him – he’d need to raise his game quite a bit for the Premier League and I don’t think he has it in him.
Wiekens: Yes. Not perfect but should be good enough.
Morrison: Yes but only if the team is doing well. Great commanding strength but in the Premier League you need real skill.
Jobson: No, I think he’d be badly found out by Premier League forwards.
Granville: No. Decent player but I have to be honest with myself and he’s not Premier League quality.
Tiatto: No. Sorry but I’ve never liked him, and he’s certainly not Premier League quality.
Bishop: Yes but only if the team is doing well, and even then I think it may have to be his last season. Has the skill and experience to control and dictate a game, but would find it a lot less easy to do in the Premier League.
Whitley: If he can maintain the improvement in form this season and consistency, then maybe… but he’ll never be a star.
Horlock: Yes on balance. As above, not going to be a big star but good enough for a Premier League mid-table team.
Kennedy: Yes.
Cooke: Who knows? Don’t know yet what he can do in Division One! Seriously though, I think he may be a bit lightweight for the Premier League.
Pollock: No. A battler but his famous temper would probably get the better of him too often for him to be effective.
Grant: Yes. Has to be if he’s been a fair to middling squad player at Everton.
Dickov: No. Yes. No. I keep changing my mind. I think most Premier League defences would keep him firmly in their pockets without too much trouble. So no.
Goater: Oh dear poor old Shaun. I know he’ll probably end up getting 20+ goals this season but to be honest it only proves to me how low the average standard of Division One defences is. If we get promoted and he stays in the team I’d back him to score no more than 2 next season. So it’s a no.
Taylor: (Robert, assume Gareth is transferred). We’ve just not seen enough evidence to date either way. So based on the fact that he’s reached 29 and not been snapped up by a Premier League club it would have to be no.
Peacock: Doubt it.

There are probably quite a few players that I’ve left out, if so then I’m sorry. I’ve certainly ignored some of the younger players on the squad fringes (Crooks etc.). So the picture may look better if 1 or 2 of them suddenly blossom into good solid Premier League players (e.g. Wright-Phillips comes to mind in this category). But unless and until they do, the final total based on the above is:

Yes:    5
No:     8
Maybe:  5

So if we do get promoted then it could be a nail-biting season. On balance though, and to finish on a positive note, despite all the evidence to the contrary I think we would probably just manage to avoid relegation, the main reason being the contribution of certain other key people at the club, viz:

Royle: Yes, definitely Premier League quality. Survival in the Premier League will owe a great deal to his powers of organisation and motivation.
Bernstein: Yes, has what it takes to take City a lot further.

Disagree? Let us know what you think…

Steve Maclean (


In answer to the question about the season ticket holder furthest from Maine Road: Unless there’s someone in the Cook Islands or New Zealand with a ticket to the Academy, I reckon my address in Neutral Bay, overlooking Sydney Harbour, qualifies me as the furthest away and probably least financially astute season ticket holder.

I only came away twelve months ago and originally intended to head back for sunny Manc this year but it looks like it’s going to be a fair few years yet… but I can’t bring myself to give up the S/T and come March I won’t be able to resist renewing again; who said City fans were logical?

I won’t forget my last two games in a hurry either; a few days after visiting the Academy for the last time I saw my life flash before my eyes at the Den as we waited two hours before the Metropolitan Police (or peacekeepers as they are known in South London) cleared the cavemen away from the upturned bottle banks, loose paving slabs and miraculously collapsing garden walls… but they didn’t cause any trouble right?!

My last view of the Blues is one no one will forget: 89 minutes and 42 seconds gone and the words “all this way for nothing” were ringing around my head – Dickov’s goal and the emotions created can never fully be described or realised. Whether you were at Wembley or not that is a common bond that will bind together every City fan for the rest of our lives. Deep stuff eh!

Well, fingers crossed for the second half of the season. Dave Chambers and I made a wish in front of the Budda’s statue in Sydney’s Chinta Ria, and I gave the Budda’s tummy a rub (they tell me it does work). I reckon we both wished for the same thing… it’s not hard to guess it with 22 games to go!

Here’s to a great 2000 for everyone in the fortunate position of seeing the boys in the flesh (keep out of my seat) and particularly to all Oz based Blues.

Macca (


We will be watching the match at the British Open in Manhattan (59th St between First and Second Ave) at 9:00 am on Sunday. I am told they do a great breakfast/brunch. After that we will probably move on to the Manchester Pub (48th and Second) to celebrate. So far it looks like there should be around 20 of us from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. If anyone else out there can make it then please come along.

Martin Price (


Now you see, it does get important: the Grimsby programme says our first match of the century was beating the Rags (Newton Heath) in a friendly on New Year’s Day, 1900. In a sports quiz would I be wrong to maintain it was vs. Bury on Jan 5th 1901? What if it was the million pound question on “Who wants to be a millionaire?”

The question was around in January 1900, but the Astronomer Royal explained that “The 20th century begins on January 1, 1901. It has been generally agreed to call the first year of the Christian era AD 1 not AD 0, and subsequently the 2nd century began with AD 101, a hundred years after the beginning of the first year, and so on for succeeding centuries”. Till now.

Of course, all time is relative – ask Paul Dickov!

Steve Parish (


Steve asked in early December:

What is the probability of a valid BDS occuring where the game is actually played on the date you are born?

Responding with all the timeliness of a Jamie Pollock tackle…

If it’s possible for a match to generate the same scoreline as the date it’s played (let’s call this a Same Day Score, SDS) then it’s about 1.2 in a million that this will actually happen for that match. About 18% of dates are capable of being SDSs; City have played around 7000 games in their history, so about 1260 matches could have generated SDSs. This means there’s a chance of about 1 in 700 that one of City’s games actually was a SDS. And there’s about the same chance that an SDS will occur sometime in the new century (barring radical changes in the rules of the game, the purchase of a halfway decent striker, or similar implausible events).

So, there probably has never been a valid SDS, and there probably never will be but it’s far from impossible. 1 in 700 is about five times more likely than our Wembley comeback, for instance.

If it ever has happened, or ever did happen, I think there’d be around 10 people born on that day who grew into Blues – so they would have a BDS on their day of birth.

Of course, the start and end of the century are bad times for SDSs. But here’s looking forward to 1 Feb 2003. A new stadium, an incredible flurry of early goals followed by 87 minutes of Swindon-style lassitude… you never know…

Dorien James (


I think Elaine Taylor answered her own question when she asked if the abuse hurled at Richard Edghill has a racial element by pointing out that abuse has also been hurled at a number of white players (Corrigan, Bowyer, Summerbee etc.). Goater was given abuse because he was crap at the time, he used to miss lots of opportunities and the general feeling, certainly in MCIVTA, was that we would have a better chance of promotion with a striker that could convert a higher percentage of chances. I’m glad to see the guy come good because I always thought he was an honest player.

The above comments don’t mean that I agree with people who boo players or the team, it can only undermine confidence. I notice that the team involved him quickly after the incident, showing their belief in him and that he didn’t hide at all which I respect. I remember Ian Bowyer being booed, quite sickening it was because he was only a kid who I think had taken Neil Young’s place in the side at the time. I was an even younger kid and I couldn’t understand how we could boo our own player and I felt desperate for the guy. I remember Corrigan coming good but still being sarcastically cheered when he picked up a back pass. Summerbee was given stick a couple of bank holidays ago when we lost to Port Vale; for me he was the only player we had on the pitch but some people in the crowd were still giving him a hard time.

Sickening though it is, City fans can be right bast*rds if they don’t take to someone, but you don’t have to be black, those guys are equal opportunity barrackers.

Mike Doherty (


A fellow Blue friend and I were talking candidly recently, the conversation turned to the ever likable Paul Dickov and we came up with the following things for Blues to think about when they condemn Dickov as “hard working but underachieving”. Dickov’s goal deep into injury time against Gillingham in May is probably the most important goal ever scored by a City player! Answer these questions – if he had not scored that goal would we now have the heavy hand of Sky backing City? Would we have Nicky Weaver? Would we have Kennedy? Would we have any of our recent signings? And obviously we would not be sitting pretty at the top of Division One with a points total only 2 less than Sunderland had at the same stage during their record breaking 105 point tally last season!? City have a young and strong squad assembled under Joe Royle, we have lots of players still to achieve full potential and I’m sure they will, just as (dare I say it) Leeds have. And all of this could stem from that one goal scored by a player who never ever gives us less that 100% in every game he plays. I take my hat off and bow to Paul Dickov.

Pete Share (


Just got this view of Tony Grant from a mate of mine, Darryl, who’s an Evertonian, so I thought I’d share it:

“An excellent passer of the ball, has vision to match the best. However, is rather injury-prone, and performs inconsistently. In my opinion, would do well in a confident passing side, which could well be City, who knows? Not your man when the chips are down though… “

Happy Y2K everyone! Toh Hsien Min (


This is written immediately following the Grimsby game. In MCIVTA 537, I proposed that, based on comparisons between the promotion season of 65/66 and the championship of 67/68, it might be feasible for City to lose fully 25% of their fixtures and still emerge on top, provided that seemingly inevitable draws were converted into wins. What I posited was that a draw is a negative result for an aspiring team whereas it represents a point gained for a struggler.

I read recently in MCIVTA of concerns that, prior to the Grimsby game – which cemented our position at the head of Div.1. – we had already lost six league games. Admittedly, there is a difference in class between Div.2 and Div.1, but after the same number of fixtures played (25), last season, we had also lost 6 but, at that point, we languished in 8th. place on 37 points. The difference this term so far is that we are 14 points to the good and heading the division by virtue of having drawn only 3 games as opposed to 10 at this stage last season. We should overlook the ‘squeaky’ one-goal winning margins – some virtually last minute efforts (Grimsby) – against Forest, Palace and Port Vale, at home, for example, and rejoice that these sets of three points have saved us from the obscurity of mid table as a result of drawn games.

It is certain that we will drop more points at home but I do not anticipate further defeats at M.R. Rather, I fear draws against Fulham, Bolton and Charlton while, away, we may lose at Blackburn and Barnsley. I forsee draws at Forest, Portsmouth, Huddersfield and Crewe with wins at Sheff. Utd., Palace, Stockport, Swindon and Grimsby. All this would aggregate 94 points (28 wins, 10 draws, 8 losses) and should surely guarantee us automatic promotion.

With all best wishes for a successful and prosperous New Year to the editors, subscribers and readers of MCIVTA. Keep up the good work.

Dafydd Goronwy-Roberts (


To Ashley and the good people at MCIVTA who stood in for him at times, and to all the great Manchester City fans out there in different parts of the world. May we all as City fans see our club as a Premier League team in 2000. With the return of the Rags to Maine Road, may we be good enough to beat them!

A happy new year!

Ernie Barrow (


Contributions: Ashley –
News & Rumours: Peter –
Subscriptions: Steve –
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 #567