Newsletter #571

‘Fraid the contents must speak for themselves tonight, which I’m happy to let them do considering Sunday’s result!

Next game: Sheffield United away, Saturday 22nd January 2000


Goater Hat-Trick Takes City Second Again

Manchester City moved back into second place in Division One with a 4-0 home win over Fulham on Sunday afternoon, with Shaun Goater scoring a hat-trick. The Bermudan put the Blues ahead on 29 minutes, and after the 68th minute sending-off of the away captain Chris Coleman, completed his treble with 77th and 85th minute strikes. Kevin Horlock’s penalty in the 87th minute rounded off the scoring. The result sees City move back into second place after 24 hours outside the top two. The Blues are now one point behind leaders Charlton and three ahead of Ipswich and Barnsley in third and fourth respectively. All three of those sides had put pressure on City by winning on Saturday. Charlton won 1-0 at home to Crewe, Ipswich comfortably beat bottom club Swindon 3-0 while Barnsley continued their good run with a 2-0 victory at Crystal Palace.

Royle Hails Goal Hero

Joe Royle was full of praise for hat-trick hero Shaun Goater after City’s win over Fulham. The City boss feels that the Bermudan’s performances have improved so much that he could perform effectively in the Premiership – if City get there. “Shaun’s game has improved all round,” enthused Royle. “He has won over the crowd and I hope he gets the chance to step up another division with us by the end of the season.” Meanwhile, the Blues’ manager felt his side’s performance against the Londoners was patchy but the result was vital. “We’ve played a lot better,” he reflected. “At times we were excellent but we were sloppy, too. It was a strange performance but a great win. It was important after the other results, when everybody else seemed to win. There are four in there at the moment at the top and unless we have a massive collapse, it will be hard for Fulham to catch us. We wanted to beat them because they could put together a late run.”

Bracewell Blames Ref for Maine Road Defeat

Fulham manager Paul Bracewell wasn’t a happy man after seeing his side go down 4-0 to Manchester City at Maine Road. Bracewell felt that the 68th minute dismissal of his skipper Chris Coleman was crucial and was unhappy with referee Paul Danson’s decision. Fulham were trailing by only a single goal at the time, and Bracewell said, “It happened only ten yards from the linesman and he didn’t give anything. Obviously I don’t agree with the red card and it certainly changed the game. I had just put an extra striker on and we were going for it.” And the Fulham boss was unhappy with a couple of other decisions against his team. “I also feel we should have had a penalty in the first half when Paul Peschisolido was brought down in the box,” he added, “and some of my defenders even reckoned that there was an offside in the build-up to City’s first goal.” Meanwhile, Joe Royle, speaking after viewing the sending-off incident on TV, was in no doubt that Danson was right. “[Coleman] clearly handles the ball,” opined Royle. “If he hadn’t, Shaun would have been through on goal so it has to be a red card.”

Royle to Sell Before Buying Again

City manager Joe Royle has to offload three players before he’ll dip into the transfer kitty again. After the recent signings of Robert Taylor and Tony Grant, the Maine Road playing staff is again top-heavy and the Blues are looking to reduce numbers. Michael Brown has already departed and could soon be joined by Tony Vaughan and Gareth Taylor. Vaughan returned to Maine Road last month at the end of a three-month loan at Cardiff because the Bluebirds couldn’t afford the £450,000 asking price. However, the two clubs are expected to have talks this weekend and it’s possible a compromise could be reached. Taylor, meanwhile, is attracting the attention of Birmingham but the midlands club are reportedly also reluctant to meet City’s demands. One player who’s unlikely to leave is Craig Russell – the striker is back at Maine Road after an unsuccessful trial at Sheffield United. And Gary Mason has also returned to the club. The Scot has completed his loan spell at Hartlepool.

Ex-City Target Linked With Bantams

Barnsley midfielder Craig Hignett, who almost came to Maine Road before joining the South Yorkshire club, is being linked with Premiership strugglers Bradford. The Bantams are said to be prepared to pay £2 million for the player. The rumours may spark speculation that Joe Royle, a self-confessed admirer of the ex-Crewe and Middlesbrough player, could step in with a bid. The Blues have been linked with Hignett on more than one occasion this season. Meanwhile, City are also said to be one of several players showing an interest in 27-year-old Scunthorpe central defender Chris Hope. One source claims that Royle could be ready to offer either Craig Russell or Chris Greenacre in part-exchange.

City Eyeing Crewe Defender?

The latest incoming transfer speculation involving City claims that manager Joe Royle is watching Crewe right back David Wright. Sheffield Wednesday are also said to be interested in the 19-year-old. The Warrington-born defender has just reached the landmark of 50 league games for the Railwaymen, exactly half of them made this season when he’s caught the eye with a string of impressive performances. Royle had a close-up view of the player when the Blues visited Crewe a fortnight ago.

Reserve Showdown for Defensive Pair

City manager Joe Royle will be forced to change a winning team at Sheffield United on Saturday. And tomorrow’s home reserve game against Preston could decide who will replace the suspended Gerard Wiekens at Bramall Lane. The most likely solution is that Lee Crooks will come in at right back with Richard Edghill moving to the centre of defence. However, another option would be to bring in Nick Fenton following the youngster’s return from an impressive loan spell at Notts County. Both Crooks and Fenton will be in action in Tuesday night’s game at Hyde’s Ewen Fields, and both are sure to be keen to impress given the impending first-team opportunity. Paul Dickov, who lost his place to Robert Taylor at the weekend, will also feature.

Morrison Targets Return Against Old Club

City skipper Andy Morrison is set to spend the coming week at Lilleshall as he steps up his comeback bid after a knee injury. A report this morning claims that the City defender is aiming to return when the Blues visit his former club Huddersfield for the mid-February televised clash. It had beeen thought that Morrison could be ready to make his comeback in three weeks’ time at Nottingham Forest but according to Soccernet, the big defender is set for a reserve return against Birmingham on 1st February, only four days before the City Ground clash. By postponing his first-team comeback until the 18th February visit to the McAlpine Stadium, Morrison would give himself the chance to buld up match fitness in the second string. The player is desperate to put his injury problems behind him, saying, “It’s been a real nightmare and I just want to play again.”

Eidos in Investment Rumour

Just weeks after City clinched an investment from broadcaster BSkyB, Sunday paper reports have claimed that interactive games company Eidos could be set to invest in the club. Eidos, of course, are already the Blues’ shirt sponsor, having concluded a £3 million deal to replace Brother last summer. And the company’s managing director Ian Livingstone is a lifelong City fan in addition to being a personal friend of director Dennis Tueart.

Youth Team March on After Six-Goal Rout

City’s youth team have earned a trip to either Derby or Aston Villa in the next round of the FA Youth Cup. The Blues’ youngsters annihilated Bradford 6-0 in their tie at Valley Parade on Friday night. New Zealander Chris Killen was the star of the show with a hat-trick, while captain Rhys Day, England under-18 international Leon Mike and Shaun Wright-Phillips were also on the mark. The Blues must wait until Tuesday to find out their opponents in the last sixteen. However, both Villa and the Rams will surely feel that on this form City will present a tough hurdle.

Yet Another Sky Date

Manchester City are set for yet another live satellite TV screening. BSkyB’s Nationwide League favourites will once again be involved in a game broadcast to the nation when Charlton visit Maine Road in March. The fixture will be moved from the originally scheduled date of 18 March to Sunday, 19 March with a 1 pm kick-off. And the Blues will be hoping that the switch is an omen after beating another London side, Fulham, in a Sky Sunday game this week. The Charlton match will be City’s tenth screening by Sky this season – six league fixtures and cup ties against Southampton and Leeds have already been shown, while the cameras will also be present at next month’s league visit to Huddersfield.

Peter Brophy (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. FULHAM, Sunday 16th January 2000

The bl**dy seagull wasn’t there again! I warned you didn’t I? Yeah I know we won 4-0, but it would have been 10-0 if the seagull had have been in place. I’ll get my coat… Seagull or no seagull, the previous day’s results, dropping us out of the top 2 for the first time in ages, meant that this was a ‘must win’ game. City made one change from the team who played Leeds, with Bob Taylor replacing Dickov. On the bench were Crooks, Tiatto, Wright, Dickov and Pollock.

There has been some debate about our formation; the ‘official’ line seems to be that we played 3-5-2, with Edghill and Kennedy as wing-backs. However, although Edghill clearly got forward more, I can’t say that Kennedy did much ‘backing’! Fulham of course had Kit Symons as one of 3 centre backs, who drew the now customary jeers from the MR crowd. Kit does seem a sensitive boy. In one of the Sunday papers he admitted that the boo boys did unsettle him during his latter days with City and it seemed that today, he allowed the crowd to get to him. Whether this contributed to Paul Bracewell’s crucial decision to sub him in the second half, I don’t know, but I do feel a bit sorry for Kit.

Anyway, the opening exchanges were fairly even. Kennedy got 3 or 4 crosses in, all picked out of the air by Maik Taylor. At the other end Peschisolido (Pesky will do from now on) did a fair impersonation of Paul Dickov, buzzing around making a nuisance of himself. He also persistently handballed and threw himself to the ground without any intervention from ex-Prem referee Paul Danson. Dangerman Geoff Horsfield was superbly controlled by Wiekens and I think it is fair to say that he didn’t get a meaningful kick all game. The first goal, when it came was beautiful. Following a Fulham attack, the ball was played to Taylor on the left. He floated a superb 50-yard crossfield ball into the path of Edghill who fired a low cross into the box for Goater to steer the ball in with a first time left foot shot. There has been some debate as to whether Goater was offside when Taylor passed to Edghill. It was close, but such a sweeping move deserved a goal! The other main talking point of the first half was when a long Fulham ball sailed over Pesky’s head but was he brought down by Edghill? Probably he was! Although there was no way that a goalscoring opportunity was denied, Edgy’s leap for the ball, clattering into Pesky, was certainly clumsy and could easily have been punished with a spot kick.

The start of the second half was scrappy, and although Fulham had better possession than in the first half, still they couldn’t force a save out of Weaver. Until that is, Mark Kennedy decided that he was indeed playing as a wing back and promptly dribbled the ball around our penalty area before sliding a ball through to Weaver to clear. Weaver’s left foot clearance hit Pesky, who controlled and tried to dribble around Nick, who thankfully put in a good tackle to deny an opportunity [was actually the first half – Ashley]. Weaver’s kicking is usually so good, probably the outfield players take it for granted that he’ll clear anything with either foot. Today Nick’s kicking throughout the game was poor (not quite down to Tommy Wright’s level but certainly Immel-esque at times!). Although Kennedy’s back pass was not especially difficult, it was unnecessary. It was noticeable that later on, when in a similar defensive position, his chosen target was ‘Row X’ in time honoured fashion!

As mentioned above, Symons was replaced by Riedle as Fulham changed to a 4-3-3 formation in an attempt to force an equaliser. Minutes later, Goater chased a long ball, pursued by Chris Coleman. Goater tried to play the ball through Coleman who fell to the ground and handled the ball, stopping Shaun from continuing into the penalty area. For me at the time, and backed up by seeing the incident on TV, this was one of Mr Danson’s better decisions. Coleman handled the ball for so long, he could have been autographing it! Although there was a defender in the vicinity, I believe that a deliberate handball to deny a goalscoring opportunity (which it certainly was) is a red card offence. With Symons already leaving the field of play, Fulham only had one centre back left. Kevin Ball dropped into defence and Fulham kept the three upfront.

It was surely a matter of time before we added to our tally and indeed it was. Robert Taylor ‘won’ a free kick wide on the right (he wasn’t looking for it, neither was the crowd, but the ref saw a tug on the shirt). From Horlock’s cross, the Goatman hooked a right foot shot over his shoulder for number 2. Not quite as spectacular as Tueart’s overhead in ’76, but good nonetheless. Minutes later, from a Grant shot, Maik Taylor parried the ball upwards for Shaun to notch a simple header for his hat trick. Tiatto who had replaced the fading Kennedy, was upended in the box for a cast iron penalty claim and super Kev made it 4!

All in all, although 4 was a bit harsh on Fulham, a thoroughly deserved win put us back into 2nd with the best defensive record and best goal difference in the division. The midfield trio of Horlock, Bishop and Grant worked together very impressively. Edghill typically, following criticism from many, including me, put in a solid performance, capped by the run and cross for our first goal. Wiekens, although not looking as elegant as he does with Morrison next to him, put in a very effective performance to snuff out any threat from Horsfield. As previously mentioned, Kennedy faded badly and is a shadow of the player from earlier in the season. He’s had some misfortune with injuries and the flu, so hopefully it won’t be long before he’s firing on all cylinders. Bob Taylor had only one shot which went woefully wide but he set up the first goal and won the free kick for the second. He’s clearly not yet fully fit, but it must be said that his presence did seem to create more space and opportunities for Goater. I’ve heard Gillingham and Brentford fans say he brought the best out of his strike partner, Asaba, so perhaps he can do the same for Shaun? And of course, ‘our Shaun’ scored the classic hat trick (left foot, right foot, head) and today looked a very dangerous striker. His improvement in every area of his game has been phenomenal and with the vocal backing of the fans, his confidence can only get higher, his play even better. A strange game; we played ‘OK’, great in small spells but until the second goal went in, we still didn’t hit the heights. It was good to see us continuing to press for more goals, rather than sitting back, as goal difference could still be very important to us come May! Not sure what we should do about the seagull now, any suggestions?

Phil Hartley (


Manchester City vs. Fulham, Sunday 16th January 2000 (Ridiculous 1pm kick-off)

I’m not going to attempt a full match report, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of those sent in so I’ll just give a summary of the game (and player performances) as I saw it.

First thing – what a pathetic turn out from Fulham. They like to think of themselves as a club with big potential and a good support when in reality all they’ve got is a chairman with a big wallet. How many did they bring? 250? Pathetic, Ipswich brought 4 times that on a miserable Wednesday night.

Second thing – thank you to the stadium announcer who twice announced Fulham’s Paul Trollope’s name as Paul Troll-Lope-Eee, always good for a laugh.

The game: I thought it was very even until the Coleman sending off. Neither goalkeeper really being troubled much and not an awful lot of shots on target from either team. Goater’s goal looked offside but the linesman was awful and I’m not complaining. Edghill definitely should have given away a penalty but the ref didn’t think so and once again I wasn’t going to ask him to reconsider. The pitch looked pretty poor (but not if compared to that swamp just outside Manchester, you know the one) and didn’t help the game (especially Weaver’s kicking). The second half started in very scrappy fashion, with a lot of high balls and play bogged down in midfield. Fulham brought on Reidle for Symons and shortly afterwards Chris Coleman dragged the ball back with his hands, checked the pressure and condition of it, put it down and proceeded to pretend he’d never touched it. The ref with the usual help from the linesman (i.e. none) sent him off. I just can’t believe he complained. The rest of the game was pretty unstressful (well, as unstressful as City ever get) and in the end we ran out comfortable winners with a result that flattered us slightly.

The Ref – we’ve had worse, and no worse than any others in this division. The usual inconsistency e.g. booking Kennedy for kicking the ball away after being given offside (even though he was about 2 yards onside) and then ignoring awful tackles on Grant and Bishop that warranted at least a yellow. At least he bizarrely ignored Edghill’s blatant penalty and then sent off Coleman, so overall it could have been worse.

The Linesmen (referee’s assistants (sic) – my ar*e) – may as well not be there any more. Never kept up with the game, wouldn’t flag for anything besides offside unless the ref gave it first. Missed the Coleman handball and Edghill’s challenge and both gave numerous incorrect offside decisions. The usual then.

Anyway, here’s how I rated the players’ performances on Sunday.

Weaver – 6 – Not a huge amount to do really. Made a good recovery after nearly gifting Pescisolido a goal. His kicking was awful, what’s happened? He used to be so assured on both feet but on Sunday he sliced several kicks and had a few others that barely got off the ground.
Edghill – 7 – Had a solid game but still makes bizarre decisions (like the challenge on Pescisolido at the end of the first half). Got forward more than usual and made the usual mixed bag of passes. Great ball for the first goal followed 2 minutes later by a sliced kick into a Fulham player. Too inconsistent and doesn’t talk enough to be captain.
Granville – 7 – Thought he had a good game, made some good runs in the first half and defended well, seems to be improving.
Jobson – 6 – Played OK, won most stuff in the air and his positional play is good. Looked a bit shaky in the first half.
Wiekens – 8 – Had the ‘Horse’ in his pocket all game with a mixture of great challenges and sticking that close to him that I thought he was going to climb inside his shirt. Got away with a lot of holding (but so did Horsfield), his best game for a while, he’ll benefit from Morrison’s return.
Horlock – 7 – Saw more of him than usual, made some good challenges and one superb sliding tackle. Took his penalty well and had a good overall game.
Grant – 8 – Had a good game. Didn’t give Lee Clark a kick in the first half. Some good runs and passing and one beautiful turn that left the Fulham midfield looking the wrong way as he ran off in the other direction with the ball.
Bishop – 7 – Another good game for “The Veteran”. Good passing and seems to be working well with Grant. Always makes himself available and give the rest of the team an option. Let’s hope the Indian Summer continues for Bish.
Kennedy – 6 – Doesn’t look up for it at the moment and I can’t work out why. Got in a few crosses that went straight to the ‘keeper (we didn’t have anyone attacking the near post again). A few nice touches but generally looked out of sorts. Hopefully he’s just easing his way back after the injury.
Goater – 9 – Stats say it all. Shots – 3, On Target – 3, Goals – 3. His positional play and first touch have improved beyond all recognition. A superb all round game from “The Goat” who just keeps getting better. Someone behind me in the Kippax asked “Has Goater changed boots with Weaver?” They could be right!
Taylor – 6.5 – Beautiful ball for the first goal and some nice touches and movement. However, Bob never seems able to get off the floor and lost everything in the air. He also looks dreadfully unfit but still chased everything. He will improve and hopefully will start scoring again. Needs to do a Jamie Pollock and lose a stone or so.
Tiatto (Sub for Kennedy) – 7 – The guy’s a loose cannon. Never know what he’s going to do. Nearly gave away a goal with his first touch but then made 3 or 4 pacy runs at the Fulham defence. Got fouled 2 (or 3) times in the time he was on. Won a penalty with a nice run into the box. Generally caused more panic in the Fulham ranks in 10 minutes than Kennedy did in 80. Must be pushing Kennedy close for a starting place.

One final comment. After the game (and a few pints) I went home and watched the game on video. Does anyone else think Alan Brazil is a complete tw*t? He hasn’t got a good word for City. The way he went on when Coleman handballed and he was slagging off the referee was unbelievable. Of course he didn’t then admit he was wrong or apologise when he saw the replay! He was the same about Edghill when we played Southampton and Hughes flattened him. It’s about time he was replaced by… Clive Allen! He’s always got a good word for us!

Gary King – “Feed The Goat” (


Sunday, 16th January 2000, 1pm (2pm CET). My Office.

Yes that’s right, I’m in my office! Not exactly the surroundings of choice for an early afternoon of watching City on telly, given that my job has so far only twice offered an opportunity to make the trip to Maine Road this season, each thankfully yielding two home matches which I gleefully attended. If my job’s one and only goal in life was to make it difficult for me to get to Manchester for games, then it would of course in a league of other jobs striving for the same goal against other hard working MCIVTA readers in other national and international outposts – be credited with having a defence as tight as City’s is in the football league.

I’m determined though, that in spite of the couple of tight deadlines I have to meet, the bosses aren’t going to deprive me of a chance to see City without having to do more than find a comfortable seat in the vicinity of a suitably-equipped TV and – in the winter wonderland scenario – a bar. This latter scenario was not going to be easy to achieve today. Not easy at all. I knew that my work today would keep me occupied up until the moment the match kicked off and would resume the second the final whistle went, to continue for many hours to follow. No time, therefore, to move venue to the next nearest place with Sky, which would be the Oscar Wilde Pub, scene of my last drunken view of the boys in blue for MCIVTA at the 4-1 hammering at Wolves. Now having publicised the appalling history I have of watching City at the ‘Oscar’ – I think if I was to go there today and have the cheek to still submit a match report which comprised nothing but carping apology on my part for having attended a third highly embarrassing 4-1 defeat in a row at the ‘Oscar’ (others were vs. Spurs in the FA Cup a few years back and the previously mentioned Wolves game), I could have no complaints when my reward for my foolhardy choice of venue turned out to be a thorough lynching on my next sighting in Manchester. Besides, the Oscar Wilde is over a half an hour away and there was nowhere to park. So, with the drive and the pfaffing around looking for somewhere to park on top of the 90 minutes for the game and maybe some of the build up, that’s like 3 or 4 hours altogether where I should have been at work for some of it! I’d have to get to see the game at work, there was no other answer! I gave myself the opportunity to squeeze the maximum amount of work out and still get to see the whole match with the added bonus of – progress at the desk permitting – seeing some of the build-up stuff just to get me in the mood if the job was getting done at the required pace.

Yes, I hear your questions erupting now. “But how did you get Sky at work?”, from Tokyo, “How did you solve this situation?”, from Leeds, “Can you tell me how to get to Old… what’s it called again dear? Old Traffwell? No! Old Trafford? Yes, that’s it Old Trafford. Can you tell me where Old Trafford is?” from the strange man in red hanging out of Basingstoke stickered fleet car. “Give us the answer!” I hear you cry. Shrewd forward planning is the answer my dear, impatient reader, shrewd forward planning.

I work the Berlin office of a big financial and real estate consultant in a large, relatively showy office right smack between the Brandenburg Gate and the spanking new and gigantic state of the art office and leisure quarter of Berlin at Potsdamer Platz, an area which for the past five years – almost the whole period of my residency here – has been nothing more than a building site. A building site that is, which, if it were to be lifted from Berlin and dropped on Manchester, would flatten the Stretford Arndale, the Swamp too, but unfortunately also some parts of Chorlton. All at once! Bit to the left, bit more, bit more, right drop her down there mate, rough as you like! Sorry about the greenhouse mum. It’s not that I bear the population of Chorlton (where my folks live for chrissakes) or the staff of the Arndale any ill will, they’re just places most of you are familiar with for scale purposes. We’ve been in this office for a year now, having officially taken over last new year’s day. During the whole of last year I’d dutifully showed up every morning as promised on my contract, walked into the lift in the lobby, an area where there are just lifts and people waiting for lifts. No sign of any sweet wee thing welcoming you into the office with a chirpy smile or a wicked glimpse or nothing! I’d press the number 6 in the lift and stride to my 6th floor office, where I’d be supping the first coffee before the lift doors closed. I’d usually stay encamped in this rectangular, grey-on-chrome-on-white room ’til late.

One evening though, a weird thing occurred to me as I sat at my desk, less than completely focussed on the sundry professional obligations which lay in disarray over the surface of my desk. I was reading through some of the postings on Blue View (hello all) and one particular regular, I won’t say which one or exactly what he posted, was giving us all an insight into something funny which happened in his office reception. Nothing side-splittingly hilarious now, just witty I suppose. More importantly, it brought me to realise that we had been in our office for some 10 months now and I’d still never actually seen our main reception desk, which is situated on the first floor! I remembered having heard a rumour that it was a “sight to behold” and had made a mental note to go have a look-see some time. As with most of my mental notes however, it wasn’t anywhere to be seen when I went looking for it so I always had that feeling that I wanted to do something, just I couldn’t remember what the feck it was! And so, that which I wanted to do but couldn’t think what it was, remained undone and the reception area of the office remained an undiscovered gem waiting to me to ask for a special invitation to come and find it! They should invent the MentalPostItNote ™ so you can stick them to your mental fridge full of mental beer and get mental. Sorry, I went mental on you there.

Ah, now you see, I’ve only gone and blown my cover now, haven’t I? Here’s me painting a picture of how organised and ordered I am in my private life and praising the “powers” of forward planning from a-high for their guarantee that every situation can be made a bit more pleasurable, that every ordeal can be like a fun day out at Alton Towers. I’ll come clean, as there’s no point in telling fibs. It’s all down to pure jamminess. Finding the solution to the work + football situation right there in my own new, 10 month old office reception? A complete fluke I’m afraid.

Having read the Blue View posting, I wrote myself a proper PostIt ™ note to do something about organising an exploratory expedition to the reception area. I stuck said note on the screen of the afore-indicated computer monitor and ghosted into the night to spent the next few hours having a laugh with mates in a cosy bar after a tough day where the grind wheel had seemed to have the upper hand in almost all of our bouts. But you’ll say “how can it have been a fluke then? You wrote a note to remind yourself!?” This is true, but in this case, as I’m sure many other users of the product will confirm, the more probable turn of events would include the PostIt note reminder falling off the screen during the night, only to get discarded, undiscovered, with the other waste paper on the desk the next morning. The fact that a PostIt note actually stayed stuck to the surface you stuck it to can only be seen as a complete fluke as it’s never happened to me before!

The following day, mind and soul rejuvenated by the memory of a great night’s craic (yes that’s the correct spelling), however, unfortunately with a hangover of sufficient proportions to make me – for a full forty minutes of my journey to work – overlook the fact that where there was no snow yesterday when I fell out of the taxi at 3am, yet there was indeed four inches of the stuff today. Needless to say, such days are usually spent drifting in and out of attacks of the “delirious trembles” and work was bound to slide a bit. Just for today eh? Home time today would be 5 on the button. Never again on a school night! Anyway, on this particular day, where all thoughts of doing something productive were doomed from the moment my eyes cracked open, I decided to read my PostIt notes and decided to heed the one ordering me to “go see reception area”. I went for a wander. Starting with reception.

Which, on the day, was as far as I got. I needed to see no more, or so I originally thought. The reception area was indeed very showy. On one side there is an extremely expensive looking reception desk with two lovely ladies wearing microphone type headsets on the switchboard. There are loads of nice pieces of artwork and then there is then a waiting area of comfy-looking leather armchairs and on one wall, the key element in the room for our purposes, a bank of TV sets all showing various business-related programmes with the sound turned off. Things like CNN, Reuters TV, Sky News, various other stock market type shows, Sky News, hmmm Sky News… “Wait a second! Do we have Sky TV here?” I ask the nearest receptionist. She smiles that chirpy smile that’s missing among the delayed lift passengers and says “Yes.”

“Beautiful.” I sigh rather more loudly than intended before a brief but awkward pause. She spends the next five minutes whispering sweet instructional nothings to me about how the whole system works, what channel Sky sports is on, how to isolate one channel and play the sound from that one only. I thank her, bid her good morrow and slope off to the lift to hide behind my computer for the rest of the afternoon. That was all nearly three months ago. Today the day has arrived where the ultimate in last resorts will be implemented.

Come Sunday morning, having worked all day Saturday too, I knew if I gave another good push I could allow myself to watch the build up and maybe even some of the following Premier match. So push I did and earned myself a bit of extra time to watch some good footy in the reception area of my office. The office is completely deserted on a Sunday, save for the security guard who walks round once every 60 minutes before disappearing without a sound. I reach the reception area hoping I’ve remembered everything about how to work the TV’s but luckily it was a piece of cake and I soon had all systems go. Soon after the build up got underway, I got restless and went to the kitchen to get a coffee. Honest. Now each floor has a kitchen on it but ours on the 6th is tiny and always runs out of milk etc. with no little luxuries to be nicked like biccies. On reception level, however, we had a completely different scenario. I’d hit the motherlode. A truly shimmering oasis in the corporate desert. The kitchen was huge and well stocked. There was crate upon crate of Beck’s beer in a glass fronted fridge for staff to introduce as a “loosener” in late night meetings, should the negotiations run aground at any point. Well I’d heard of the fabled beer stash before but I’d never seen it. Into the bargain, I had overlooked the introduction of this form of negotiation aid at several good opportunities at late night meetings in the past, having believed the beer-stash to be another one of those popular myths we are confronted with in daily life. In short, it took me the customary 2 seconds to come to the conclusion that I deserved a bit of a “loosener” myself right now. The rest you can picture yourself I’m sure. I ended up watching the game and getting well and truly merry during a game which gave reason to celebrate. A superb result from a cool display actually led to me taking the rest of the day off to put my feet up at home. The work will get finished one of these evenings.

I settled with the first cold bottle of Beck’s after missing twenty odd minutes of the build-up due to my extended kitchen explorations. Nothing much to report really, except that Charlton were regarded by all three studio pundits as automatic candidates with City, Ipswich and Barnsley getting one vote each as second automatic favourite. The rest of the build-up passed me by somewhat as a few less-offensive work related issues sprang to mind and were quickly noted on a pad. The teams came out and Man City and Fulham lined up as follows:

Weaver, Edghill, Jobson, Wiekens, Granville, Grant, Bishop, Horlock, Kennedy, Bob Taylor and Goater, with Tiatto, Pollock, Crooks, Dickov and Wright on the bench. Fulham started with Taylor, Finnan, Brevett, Ball, Melville, Coleman, old boy Symons, Clark, Horsfield, Peschisolido and Collins. Riedle was included on the Fulham bench. As I came back from the kitchen with a second beer and some munchies, I caught the end of a minute’s silence but didn’t catch the reason why it was being observed. It appeared, in any case, to have been perfectly respected by the Maine Road crowd and the game was set underway.

Now about ten minutes into the match I abandoned the idea of writing notes for a match report as every time I wrote down something about the play, I’d inevitably write down two notes related to work. It became too distracting so I put the pad down and decided I’d write a summary of the events player by player based on memory.

The game in general:

We didn’t come flying out of the blocks like I expected really but then again neither did they. The first few minutes were edgy exchanges without any real product. After this it became a bit more open and it was apparent we had the better quality of ball control on our side. The game as I said was started at a very uncertain rhythm, this then evened out to a more constant beat which we kept up for the majority of the 90 minuntes of the game, making it the most measured and evenly distributed display I’ve seen from City on TV in a long, long time. City were playing some decent football here. Not panicked, over-elaborate flash, but very controlled and patient with heavy emphasis on the ball-to-feet method of progressing up the pitch. Calm, crisp, passing from almost everyone. Even Edgy. Here’s how I saw the individual contributions overall:

Nicky Weaver: Didn’t have a lot to do other than save Kennedy’s *rse following the headless chicken dribble and mind-boggling backpass episode in the first half (see Kennedy). In the event, he miscleared the back pass himself, down to the unnecessary pressure I expect but went out smartly to clean up the problem himself by dispossessing Peschisolido unceremoniously but fairly. He seemed to be very troubled by the sunlight in the first half and even with a cap on appeared pensive when coming to meet backpasses, no matter how routine they looked. The second half came and in the shade of the Platt Lane Stand he looked a lot more assured, however still had little to do. Whenever Fulham came huffing and puffing he stayed upright, eyes on the ball and invariably gathered the equally invariably tame, bobbling effort offered by the Fulham front men. Comfortable day for Nicky.

Richard Edghill: Looking much more involved in the game today than at other recent displays. He even had a chance to do his favourite trick of being the first man back to the ground after a headed duel and already poised to meet the ball coming down again. Plant it upfield? Nah, not Edgy. He takes it softly onto the lace of his boot and has the ball at his command. A quick, neat flick back to allow a better passing player (Grant I think it was on this occasion) to take on the more demanding next pass. I think we may have seen the start of Edgy’s second wind this season on this display. He hasn’t been quite right since he was stretchered off at the Dell. So, a very intelligent display from Edgy today, showing a lot of his better qualities and even a killer cross for the first goal. Lucky not to have given away a penalty in the second half though for a clumsy tackle on Peschisolido. Boy done good though for me.

Gerard Wiekens: Looked to be more on the ball today. Solid and aware. Much more confident-looking with the ball on his head today. When things got hairy in our box, he appeared to be calm and more aware of where the ball was than he has been in the past two or three games. More like vintage Wiekens.

Richard Jobson: See Wiekens for the general comments and substitute relevant information. Jobbo had a similarly good match. It was Jobbo’s effort which was blocked when the ball fell directly onto Goatman’s noggin for the hat-trick.

Danny Granville: Much-improved performance. Here he showed real signs that there is a family resemblance between his quality and the quality of many of his ex-team mates. He was back in fine fettle with regard to his partnership with Kennedy and even had us all on our feet when he shot off on a mazy, blurred run the length of the pitch, only for the ball to be flicked away from him just inside the box. Very good overall display from Danny. He probably was at the root of a lot more than I give him credit for here, for which I apologise, but by the time we were two up, the looseners had loosened and the identities of players who took the telling free kicks and corners now were beginning to escape me with alarming ease.

Tony Grant: This fella is looking like quality. JR seems to have got very good value for money. He’ll be invaluable when Bish hangs up his boots! Grant was everywhere on the pitch and despite the fact that Goater finished this game with a hat-trick, I feel Nationwide are to be praised for their decision to make him the man of the match for the Sky telecast as it was a performance with deserved some form of recognition. He effectively took Clark out of their midfield and choked their main channel in doing so. In summary, an exciting performance showing positive signs for the future.

Ian Bishop: Let’s not dwell on the possible replacements for Bish, he’s still here and is close to his best form by ably bossing his plot in midfield. A flick here, a hold up there, a spin just about everywhere. Not quite the very best I’ve seen from him this season but still a quality performance from Bish.

Kevin Horlock: Another one who didn’t disappoint was again Super Kev. Again, it may not have been his best ever performance but he showed up where he was needed and didn’t stop moving all day. The penalty was put away very coolly as we’ve come to expect. Not sure about the new hair cut. It makes him look like a chimney sweep in Victorian London. Very capable overall performance.

Mark Kennedy: Mark puzzled me a bit during this one. He started off the game getting a bit more room than he’s been afforded recently and – seen over the whole game – got some good crossing done. At one point he even found himself out on the right once with the chance to come back in an have a pop with the left, which he took but the ball cannoned off the ‘keeper’s chest before being scrambled out. He then seemed to lose his composure a little bit and his countenance changed to something very “dark”, as if he was about to kill someone soon. He got the ball on one occasion and went a bit loopy on his own in deepest midfield, doing a headless chicken dash into Weaver’s territory, only to redirect suddenly and hare off towards the corner flag, invite the forward to take him on and then hit a backpass along the touchline to Weaver who was only about ten feet away (see Weaver). He later had another little tantrum episode when he earned himself a yellow card for booting the ball away in frustration at a bad offside decision. He didn’t play particularly badly in this period, he just looked like he’d had a few too many cups of coffee before the game. Seen overall he also had a much improved game, due probably to his having a wee tad more space than usual. Later changed for Tiatto.

Robert Taylor: So-so performance for me with his passing going a bit hot and cold in the first half. Luckily, it was his perfect diagonal pass which set Edgy in for the telling cross on the first goal. He still doesn’t look the finished article though and I don’t think JR would leave him on for another full 90 minutes where the score is tighter. He was probably left on to give him the extra conditioning he still requires, although Dicky could have probably benefited from a few minutes action. Some good passing from SBT as mentioned but he didn’t perform on a par with the rest of the team today for me. He’ll need a bit of time to get a regular run of games under his (ample) belt.

Shaun Goater: What can I say? He was excellent and the reverse of what I said above also applies. Take Grant out of the equation and Goater was head and shoulders man of the match. His touch was always superb and he was only very seldom muscled off the ball or dispossessed. He did another of his full width of the pitch chases and successfully blocked the ball to safety at the end of his efforts to a roar of approval from the 30,057 crowd. The first goal was a show of Goater’s class as a killer finisher with a left footed sliding poke. The second and third goals were pure striker’s goals. The first an over-shoulder flick of a loose ball from a corner, the third again a half cleared save from Jobbo’s header virtually lands on Goater’s head when nothing but a highly unlikely reverse in the laws of gravity would have prevented the ball going towards the net rather than towards the sun. 3 Attempts. 3 On Target. 3 Goals. Nuff said.

Danny Tiatto: This was the only sub used and he played a decent part on the left for the last 15 minutes. He was instrumental with his piercing run onto Bish’s pass which forced Finnan into giving away a penalty, which Horlock converted (see Horlock).

Fulham: Didn’t look like there was going to be much fun for them today as nothing ran for them really. They huffed and puffed but never really got close to blowing the door down. The early injury to Brevitt and the sending off for handball of Coleman in the second half were both decisive points in the game from their point of view. Brevitt appeared to pull up injured a split second before going in for a tackle which could have dispossessed Edghill and prevented the cross which yielded the first goal. Indeed, he went off with a hamstring strain soon after. When Coleman was justly shown a straight red for grabbing the ball from Goater’s feet just before (or was it after?) the second goal, the Fulham defence looked stretched. I think 4 against them was a bit flattering but we still looked better than them in most departments. Oh and where were your fans then?

Quick word on the crowd:

Firstly I wished I was in the crowd as the atmosphere came across very well on TV. As I predicted on Blue View the other day, the “North Stand Singers” vs. the rest of Maine Road singing contest would begin a lot earlier than we were used to. Indeed, in this fixture it started as early as the 55th minute with the obligatory opener “Kippax, give us a song, Kippax, Kippax, give us a song.” I can’t remember if the demand was fulfilled as this was now an hour and a half after I had sat down to watch the game and the corporate looseners had done an admirable job in ensuring that when noting down the start time of the singing contest at 55 minutes, I was unable to concentrate on any other task other than that of writing the words “Singing contest begins on 55”. The overall singing was brilliant though, although I still haven’t heard a chant dedicated to Mark Kennedy yet, despite the fact that I know various suggested lyrics and tunes have been circulated by various supporters’ clubs etc. Something we need to get sorted relatively sharpish I feel. Apologies if a song was indeed débuted on the day as I didn’t hear it.

In the end I didn’t feel much like staying at work and I returned to my desk with a warmed up for a session grin on my face and decided I could get that remaining work sorted tomorrow night. Contrary to your expectations, I did not go out to get bladdered (I have a feeling many of you might think I just spend all my spare time drinking) but to have a rest and write this report and maybe look in to Blue View for an hour. Just a pleasant afternoon set aside to celebrate City. I did have a few beers too though. It’s expected.

CTIDNINBNCACNNRLL (City ’til I die, no ifs, no buts, no conditions and certainly no negotiation requiring liquid looseners!),Cathal Whelehan (


I write the match reports for a MCFC webpage on one of the main Manchester websites, Within this site there is loads of stuff about Manchester, shopping, where to eat out, weather, travel etc., but the main point of interest for all Blues will be the ‘Strictly City’ page. This page has recently been updated and is a good source to download City goals from, look at league tables, and read City match reports. I urge all MCIVTA subscribers to try it out, and if they like it to add the page to their favourites. From the frontpage (, select ‘Sports’, then ‘The Beautiful Game’, then ‘Strictly City’. A word of warning though. Those of you with a wobbly mouse might find yourself in the ‘United We Stand’ page so watch it, I take no responsibilty for anyone vomiting at yet more Rag propaganda.

Richard Ellor (


On entering the new millennium, it seems as though the days where a school day trip would mean either trawling around a rain-sodden Heaton Park looking at various species of tree or going to Chester Zoo only to spend your money on pencils and rubbers in the shop are well and truly gone.

An alarming shift in the common destination for such trips means that a lot of primary school kids now find themselves “treated” to a tour of that place in the borough of Trafford. I’ve never had that much faith in the levels of common sense of our rank and file that educate our youngsters, but their failure to realise that, out of a class of thirty, there may be just one or two of them of a Blue persuasion doesn’t force me to change my opinion.

Anyway, I happen to know of such a youngster that had the “pleasure” of going to The Swamp for a school day out. As part of their “special” day, the class were given the opportunity to have their photograph taken with the European Cup. My youngster in question and his friend – also of Blue blood – naturally refused the privilege and watched in the wings. To compensate for what must have been not one of Manchester’s warmest 24 hours, M.U. had turned up the central heating to volcanic levels. So, our two Blue heroes peel off the jumpers that they were wearing to reveal their MCFC shirts.

Enter stage right an MUFC jobsworth. Pointing to their shirts, he said “put those jumpers back on NOW – we don’t want to see THAT rubbish here.” Protests of “but it’s hot” were met with further verbal attack along the lines of “you’re not having THOSE shirts showing in here”. Did they put their jumpers back on? Did they hell! City 1 U****d 0…

But like I say, they have the cheek to call us “bitter”.

Next time your son or daughter tells you they’re going out for a day out with the school, take that extra little bit of time to listen to where they’re going. And if they’re going to you-know-where, do as our two heroes’ parents did and dress your child accordingly!

Karl T Florczak (


Australia vs. Korea, score 0-3, Saturday 15th January 2000, KO 8.15pm. Ollieroos played the same static, negative game as adopted in the previous two games, were severely punished by a quick, skilful, well organised Korean side who were 3-0 up before the half time break. Danny looked slow, predictable, lacking vision, as did most of the other Australian players, went off injured with 5 minutes to go. Australia have a lot of work to do before the Sydney Olympics, Korea will do well. Wonderful atmosphere in the New Hindmarsh Stadium, warm 26C, plenty of room to move in the 15,000 seated capacity purpose made soccer ground.

Dave Thorpe (True Blue), Man City Supporters’ Club, Adelaide, South Australia (


Once upon a time, there was a Football Club which built its home in the great Northern city of Manchester. It was run by people who cared about the game and who were insistent that its team played in a cavalier, entertaining fashion. It flourished and became reasonably successful. The team won trophies occasionally and became famous throughout the Kingdom for their attractive brand of football. The players would wear their sky blue shirts with pride, knowing that they represented the dreams of their huge and loyal support. Tens of thousands of people would go to the matches each week to be entertained and the Club built up a fan base that was the envy of almost every other Club in the land. It became a successful, happy and prosperous place.

However, due to complacency on the part of those who ran it, it came to pass that the club fell into the hands of people who had their own self interest at heart. They lacked the vision to continue to develop the Club. Money that was generated by its massive supporter base was squandered. Poorly qualified people were appointed to run the team. Inevitably, the Club fell into decline and as a punishment for its complacency, a 20-year spell was placed on the Club, its team and supporters. During this time, the team became a shadow of its former self and imposters, impersonating real footballers, would pull on the sacred shirts without any sense of pride or responsibility to the supporters. Other clubs, which had no right to even consider themselves as equals, caught up and overtook them. The Club became synonymous with incompetence and failure. Its team was relegated to the third tier of English football.

PHowever, through the ‘Dark Age’ as it became known, there was one glimmer of hope that remained. The team’s huge band of supporters remained loyal. They continued to watch their team all over the land, near and far, regardless of the poor quality of football its team was playing. Other people throughout the land expressed their admiration and respect for the team’s supporters.

Eventually, this loyalty was rewarded. A man came to the helm of the Club who understood the importance of business acumen, stability, and the need for the team to be led by somebody with a proven track record in football management. He was known as ‘The Bernstein’. After careful deliberation by ‘The Bernstein’, a man was given the difficult job of restoring the team to greatness. This became known as ‘The Royal Appointment’. However, due to the enormity of the task, it was some time before any signs appeared that ‘The Dark Age’ had finally passed. Nevertheless, one cold winter’s afternoon, playing in a match against one of its ugliest local rivals, The Stokies, The Royal Appointment began to pay dividends. The team and its loyal supporters came together as one, and they swept The Stokies to one side and marched towards victory. There followed a 6-month spell of success, culminating in a visit to the hallowed and sacred Twin Towers, where a further victory ensured that the team won promotion to a higher division.

During the summer months it was time for the Club and its supporters to take stock of developments. As the euphoria of the trip to The Twin Towers faded, it was acknowledged that further hard work was now required to keep up the successful momentum that had been triggered by the loyalty of the fans, the astuteness of The Bernstein and the sheer hard work and determination of The Royal Appointment and his players. Everyone connected with the club accepted that, as the team would be playing at a higher level, it would be considered as further success if they finished half way up the new division the next season. However, such was the new sense of well being at the club, the team prospered again and, by Christmas, found itself at the top of the new division. It had beaten all its closest rivals and a second successful promotion looked likely. Surely, with ‘The Royal Appointment’ still working its magic in a stable and businesslike environment, the club was now finally on the brink of returning to ‘The Promised Land’, where all the best teams played. This fairy tale should surely now have a happy ending, as long as the supporters never forgot how bad things had become, and how long it would take to get back to where everybody in the land felt they deserved to be?

However, a sinister and brooding evil had started to take root in the minds of some of the supporters. That band of people, who had been acknowledged as the club’s saviour in its time of greatest need, slowly began to become its greatest weakness. A small number of those supporters quickly forgot just how low the club had fallen during ‘The Dark Age’, and in their ignorance began to question the ability of ‘The Royal Appointment’. Some, despite having no experience of the professional game, even began to question his tactics and team selection. As with most things in life, it takes a lot of good men (and women) to do nothing to let a few hot-heads prosper, and this small but vocal minority was allowed to fester and spread its unrest amongst the silent majority.

However, ‘The Royal Appointment’ refused to let ‘The Hecklers’, as they became known, deter him from the task he had set himself, and he continued to do what he felt was right for the club. After all, his methods were clearly working.

‘The Hecklers’, showing an ignorance that befits those who actually know nothing, decided to target individual players for abuse, and as such, the performance levels slumped. Even though the silent majority still had every confidence in ‘The Royal Appointment’, the abuse of ‘The Hecklers’ slowly began to affect not just individuals, but the team as a unit. After all, the team’s success had been built on a collective strength and as such, if one was attacked verbally, the whole team felt slighted. Eventually, and perhaps inevitably, the team’s results suffered and they failed to reach ‘The Promised Land’. The magic had come and gone in 18 months.

Sadly but understandably, ‘The Royal Appointment’ felt that he could never satisfy the demands of the supporters and he went away. He arrived at a smaller club and weaved his magic to a smaller but less demanding audience and, inevitably, achieved success. ‘The Bernstein’ realised that, despite giving his all he had, in the eyes of the supporters at least, failed. He too went away a broken man.

As quickly as it had gone away, ‘The Dark Age’ returned. As with the Burnley and Preston people who lived further North, The Magic never reappeared and ‘The Hecklers’ and the silent majority lived sadly ever after.

The End, literally.

Having read the latest MCIVTA (570) I felt I had to write this. Never before have I criticised the fans but for God’s sake, stop whingeing. One defeat against arguably the best team in the country and you all think the wheels have fallen off. Read the Grim Fairy Story. You have been warned!

Phil Jones (


In reply to Steve Parish,

Yes I do remember singing Ay ay ay ay, but before 1969, and it was “Harry (Dowd) is better than Yashin” and “Colin (Bell) is better than Eu-se-bi-o”. Curiously, like Steve, I also have the strongest memory of singing it against Leicester (although any two-syllable name would do). Round about then we beat them six-nil. Was that in 1967?

In reply to Jon Davenport,

I have always presumed that Kippax Street was named after Kippax in Y***shire, not far from Elland. In fact, I suspect that the Corporation wanted to call it Elland Street, but Leeds got in first. What a narrow escape! Other near-misses: Brighouse and Raistrick Street, Bradford and Bingley Street, Slaithwaite Street, Ripponden Street, Heptonstall Street, Cleckheaton Street, Heckmondwike Street, Liversedge Street, and Bruddersford Street.

If I am wrong and there ever was an Admiral Kippax, a General Kippax, a Duke of Kippax or more probably a Councillor or Alderman Kippax, wouldn’t that make a great name for a pub? Mind you, it would be very hard to keep a straight face drinking in the Captain Kippax!

Christopher Sawyer (


I just can’t help it, I love the darned things.

I’m trying to find if there has ever been a game where City have achieved a birth date score which was identical to the date of the match. And then if so, can we find a City fan who was actually born on that date?

For example, on 3rd April 1953, City beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-1. So “if” the City goals were scored in minutes 3, 4 & 53, then all we’ve got to do is find a City fan born on that date.

I’ve got as far as finding out all the games where City have scored 3 goals, where the date of the match makes a potential list of goal times. So now all I need to do is find out the actual minutes that the City goals were scored in those games… and that’s where I’m stuck.

Does anyone know of any reference source where all the goal times are recorded, i.e. it would have to go back to the 1st one in my list, which was 8th December 1894 (3-3 vs. Bury – this assumes a 3rd goal deep into injury time, and I don’t even know if injury time existed in the last century-but-one).

Please somebody put me out of my misery!

Steve Maclean (


I’ve been chewing over in my mind over the last few weeks what to do about these blo*dy acronyms…

On one hand, the novelty wore off a long time ago, but on the other hand I did take up the original challenge to keep going till the end of the season.

On one hand, I know lots of people are probably equally fed up of them as me, but on the other hand tough! – you don’t have to read them, skip past them.

On one hand I thought that now might be a good time to stop, as we are now playing repeat games against the same opponents for the 2nd time in the season. But on the other hand if I stop now then it might be bad luck and City might slip down the table!

On one hand, they sometimes drive me mad trying to come up with something suitable, but on the other hand there are times when the perfect acronym is just obvious and it gives me a smile.

Anyway, I then ran out of hands, so I’ve decided to carry on till the end of the season (groans all round). So, moving swiftly on to the Fulham victory, there was only one candidate to create the acronym about, obviously it had to be Glorious Goater. I’d have to go back to what I said in a previous article, I still don’t think he’d be any good against Premier League defences, but hey, what the hell, don’t ya just love him!

So thanks Shaun for what you did against Fulham:

F  avoured
U  s (with)
L  ovely
H  at-trick
A  gainst
M  ediocrity.

Steve Maclean (


I have noticed one of the prime arguments Royle has given as to Edghill’s inclusion is his Premiership experience. Well, Craig Russell and Mike Brown have both played there before, and look what happened to them (in fact, think of Jason Lee). He cannot keep using this as an excuse. He is a quality manager though and I will give him the benefit of the doubt.

Save the Kippax seagull! (


A lot of interesting views in the last MCIVTA.

There’s a lot I could take people up on, but generally I’m amazed at how much people’s expectations have raised. Just over a year ago, I went to Adams Park and saw my favourite football team lose 1-0. We were not very good. 14 months later we are top, or near top, of Division 1. We may still not have the greatest players in the club’s history, but we are guaranteed that they will give 100% week in, week out.

After witnessing the Ball and Clark dark days, with boys like Brannan and Clough jogging about with their hands in their sleeves, I am not complaining right now. Joe Royle has down an outstanding job in instilling spirit and heart into the club, not to mention David Bernstein’s rôle. The outstanding coaching staff we have at Maine Road is exemplified by the improvement in Shaun Goater’s play over the last year, which has been nothing short of remarkable. I really believe he has gone from being a 2nd Division player to a Premier League player. Nicky Weaver is another example of improvement. Joe Royle continues to attract quality players to the club from limited resources such as Morrison, Kennedy, and Grant.

I admit that the situations with Brown and Cooke (and Vaughan, who kept Morrison out of the team at one point last season) are mystifying. But generally Joe talks sense, his decisions make sense, and I find myself agreeing with most of what he says. Edghill is not a great player. He has weaknesses, and is a confidence-dependent player. But he defends well and deserves our full backing and support, especially when he is going through a ‘tricky’ patch, like now. Compare him to the likes of Brannan; Edgy is a Blue, the only player in the squad bar Vaughan to come from Greater Manchester, he gives it his all, he is committed to the club.

So all in all, let’s just appreciate the position the club is in now considering how it was not so long ago. I’m not saying let’s settle for Division 1, I’m saying we have no justification whatsoever to moan about the current state of affairs at the club.

Rant over.

Mark Braude (


Whilst the discussion on our right back continues, whatever happened to Ian Brightwell? Well he was consistent; consistently average and I am sure at some stage he kissed his shirt.

Mike Collard (


The Fulham game yesterday was the third match I’ve seen Robert Taylor in a City shirt, and I must say that so far I’m not too impressed. I reckon Paul Dickov must be gutted at losing his place to a guy who’s obviously a bit overweight still, and not back to full fitness. Surely Joe Royle can see this too? Although I realise and expect JR to defend him publicly, surely he can’t be satisfied? On GMR he said “… Robert gives us that extra dimension up front.” Bit of an unfortunate phrase there Joe! He then goes on to say that Dickov and Peacock “…are unlucky not to be involved”. You can’t really argue when the team has just stuffed a good side 4-0 but I can’t help feeling it would be better for Taylor and City to get the new lad fully match-sharp before unleashing him again in the first team. Apart from his beautifully angled pass to Edge which led to the first goal, his overall contribution was woeful – one shot from outside the box nearly went for a throw-in! At the moment he is just chugging along most of the time, whereas Dickov would be making lively darting runs, and playing ‘one-two’s’.

I’d never get on any of the City players backs at the match but I know there are others at Maine Road with no such inhibitions if his form doesn’t improve soon.

Am I being unfair?

CTID, Jon Reese (


I’ve followed the debate with interest and would just like to add a few points which may appear negative, but are intended to be realistic.

Yes, Leeds currently have a superb team. Watching the cup match was reminiscent of seeing the great Liverpool sides of the 70s and 80s come to Maine Road and take us apart as if they had one or two extra players on the field (John Aldridge is now doing it for real!). And yes, Leeds could probably have beaten any team in the country on that form. But that is no reason for complacency.

I could not believe Joe Royle’s after-match comments about having played Derby, Wimbledon and Southampton over the last 18 months and seen nothing to fear. The same comment has been made by several MCIVTA correspondents. Important point here guys: we couldn’t/didn’t beat any of those teams, not even in any of the two-legged matches. We competed well, but hard work, enthusiasm, confidence and team spirit can only get you so far before the twin weaknesses of tactical naïvety and a lack of quality players become exposed.

There is no way we can “do a Sunderland” with the present squad. We are more likely to do a Bolton, who you will recall ran away with the First Division title a couple of years ago, almost achieving the 100 points/100 goals double, and then came straight back down again after only one season.

On the plus side, there is no doubt that the Manager and Board are well aware of our shortcomings. The present team should hopefully be good enough to get us out of this division (I see Charlton as the main threat, but look out for a storming run from Blackburn), but we need a good clear out and fresh talent next summer, and the sooner we start finding it the better. Thankfully, we should have the necessary funds in place.

CTIDBOWTDTMBP (because of what they do to my blood pressure), John Caley (


Fascinating correspondence, this, with player by player analysis. For my money, Kennedy and Weaver have the makings of very good players, and Shaun Goater, rather like Ian Rush, is perfecting the art of being in the right place at the right time. Are we good enough? Yes, but only if we actually get back. This is by no means certain, but if we do, we have nothing to fear. The current crop of Premiership teams is the worst I can remember. There are only two players in the entire Premiership who could get their place in any team in the world, both Rags. One has a very strange sense of dress (sorry, senseless) and the other – the better of the two – is the best leader on the pitch since Bobby Moore. Apart from the young Leeds team there are two – count ’em – stars of the future in the Premiership, Michael Owen and Robbie Keane. The bottom half of the Permiership is pure dross and none of these teams would have survived the old First Division. The Premiership is characterized by workmanlike, competent teams with one or two above average players – rather like City, in fact. In my view, the Rags and Leeds will dominate the Premiership for the next few years. Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool will continue their futile attempts to knock the Rags and Leeds out of the top spot, and the rest – hopefully including City – will make up the numbers. We probably won’t win anything but what we will get, with luck, will be a return to the wonderful Northern games with the Rags, Liverpool and Leeds – not to mention the various Fashion Victim teams from London. That will do for me – for the time being.

P.S. Can anyone tell me the origin of the name “Rags” as applied to the Trafford Trolls? “Red Army Gobshites” comes to mind, but I’m sure there are others.

CTID (City – The Indestructible Diehards), Tony O’Leary (


Is it me or has anyone else noticed these disturbing traits:

When either a City player clears a ball into a central position or an opposition player, it’s always the opposition player who seems to pick up or win the ball and straight away we’re defending again. We don’t seem able to close the midfield down and compete for these balls.

More and more I’m seeing passes to marked players causing us problems and once again putting us under unnecessary pressure. We don’t seem to be very mobile off the ball and are being closed down easily.

When we do start to play the ball around, the players without the ball become very static. Similar to point two in as much as the player who has just made the pass stands still, as do the players around him, instead of making runs to open up space or run into space to receive the pass.

For me it was one of the reasons that Leeds outclassed us. They exploited the weaknesses and showed us up in these areas. Looking at the top class sides with very mobile midfields, they compete more and once the ball is won they have a lot of options and break very quickly, putting the pressure on the opposition.

Comments please!

Tony Ward (


I was interested to read Neil Haigh’s comments in MCIVTA 570. He proclaims to be a true supporter and then states that he did not go to the match because he knew we were going to lose!

I think 99% of City fans knew that – if we had all taken the same attitude there would have been a crowd of 5,000 in there with 4,500 of them being Leeds!

Supporting a club isn’t about going to watch them when you think they have got a chance of winning – it is about going no matter who we are playing and backing your team to the hilt.

CTID, Paul Cooper (


I’ve been reading fans’ views on Shaun for a little while now, and couldn’t believe the general consensus viewpoint that he wasn’t up to standard. The lad has been different class this season (18 goals), what more does he have to do? It would be nice to have a Michael Owen type striker up front, but we haven’t!

Goater has improved his overall game this season, silencing the critics, who believed that he wouldn’t survive at the First Division level. Yes alright he misses chances, but so do all the best strikers. At this moment in time, he is the best we have got, so get behind him, and watch his confidence grow. You look at all the defenders he has come up against (exception Monkou); he has given them all problems and when Andy Morrison places on record that he’s the most awkward striker he has played/trained against – enough said!

Goater for England!

Khalid Ahmed (


After a week’s delay I’ve finally finished this piece. So here goes. I’ve been reading with interest the comments on how good this squad is and how it would go on in the Premier League. The most sensible piece I’ve read so far came from Ernie Barrow after the Leeds game, Quote:

“The only way one can use this game as a yardstick is how far are we from being a Premier League Championship side (not a Premier League side)”

Most people were wondering how we would cope in this Division after struggling early on last season, but most of those critics have been answered through our current league position. The side is not vastly different from last year, but the factors that I feel have contributed to our success are: the team spirit, the competition for places and the experience of playing against better opposition. This will also be the case next year.

The acquisitions made by Joe since promotion have, on the whole, improved the squad and made it better able to cope with life at a higher level. The one thing I feel is a total waste of time is the rating of players at this stage on how they might cope with life at the top level (but opinions are what football is all about).

If a similar exercise were to be done at this stage last season (apologies if it was, I started subscribing just after Wembley last year), it would have been an interesting read. I expect the comments about who would have done well/average/bad, would be the same as this year. The fact of the matter is that these players are more than coping with the task in hand, we are in a position we could only dream about last year and as more experience is gained they will get better and improve.

The areas we looked sadly deficient in against Leeds and Southampton for that matter was the inability to close down the midfield and our lack of pace in all areas. According to the Sunday Times our fitness coach, whom I believe also trains Leeds, reckons we are about a year behind them in his programme. So if we’ve got that to look forward to next year it should address some of those problems.

I am not saying that the squad will cope, no problem, with what the Premiership has to offer.

I’m not saying that we don’t need any new players to survive in the Premiership.

What I am saying is, players will improve given that they will be playing week in, week out, against the same standard of opposition. This coupled with some sensible acquisitions and more tactical awareness of how to play against Premiership opposition week in week out i.e. cut out the midfield supply quickly.

Let’s worry about the Premiership next year and have confidence in Joe and the boys in the meantime.

Tony Ward (


Had a chance to catch up on my video City watching so would like to add my two pennorth to the squad debate:

Weaver. A wonderful ‘keeper, brave, skilful and should get better and better. Yes.
Edghill. Ignore the shirt kissing. With very few exceptions a place in the first XI and £££ in the bank are the motivation of footballers, much like the rest of us. Loyalty to the employer is an outmoded concept. Most of us have been p’d on from a great height by employers and footballers are no exception. Edghill has to be contrasted with Tony Book. In all the years of watching him I only ever saw him get skinned by one player, Best – and Georgie skinned many much better players than our Tone. Bookie survived in a hot league by reading the game – sensible positioning to save his old legs, holding off in the tackle until he could make it on his terms, and doing the simple things well. Like passing to a man running into space and not hoofing the ball aimlessly. Edghill has none of these qualities and, as people have said, he’s been around a good bit. No.
Wiekens. There’s a lot I like about this guy. He looks comfortable on the ball and he’s a technical tackler, not a rush-of-blood-to-the-head man. But he is woefully one-paced. No.
Jobson. I really admire him. He’s an old pro who’s kept himself in shape and most of the time he does sensible things. But he can’t go on that much longer. No.
Morrison. There’s a Bookesque element about him. Knows his limitations and uses commonsense to minimize the problems. Inspiring, too. I think he’ll survive. Yes.
Granville. I think he will get better. He’s certainly quick enough and he doesn’t often get caught out. Yes.
Cooke. On last year’s form definitely. But this year? What the hell is going on? No ’cause I don’t think the powers that be will let him.
Kennedy. Having seen him play for Ireland quite a bit, I think he’s a one-trick pony. Very slow. Great Division 1 player but not Premier quality. Oldies will remember Crossan/Brand and others from ’66. No.
Horlock. Yes, nimble and competitive and will still get the odd goal in the top flight. Yes.
Taylor, Bob. No spring chicken, what is he 29? I would have thought if he was any good he’d be further on by now. No.
Goater. Today’s Mike Robinson. Looks like he’s putting himself about but it’s all a bit cosmetic, a huffer and puffer. Alas No, but I do like his style.
Pollock. He’s been up there before, remember. No class. No.
Bishop. I’d love to think so, he’d give us 3 good games in four and we don’t have anyone with Bish’s vision and passing skills. But No, he’s too old.
Peacock. Not in a million years unless someone sticks a fire cracker up his jacksy. No.
Whitley. Does anyone seriously thing he’s PL material? No.
Crooks. I like what I’ve seen but not seen enough to judge. Dunno.
Dickov. No. He didn’t get enough in Division 2, let alone the PL. Even though he’s a trier and he gets the odd really great/valuable goals.
Royle. Sooner or later he will get us up; he may even keep us up, but that’s about all. Tactically he’s not at the races. He’s a good motivator, maybe a bit partisan in his dealings with certain players – he left Gio out until it was too blo*dy late remember and he obviously has a problem with Cookie – maybe he should go public on this. But my main problem with Royle is the same problem I’ve had with most of our managers over the years – they can’t spot affordable talent for toffee. Count the decent players we’ve missed as well as the bobbins we’ve bought and see if you agree.

Only four Yes‘s – aaagh. Checkbook out Mr. B. Anyhow, personally I’m fairly pessimistic about our chances of getting up. Even though it’s a cr*p division this year I think Charlton, Ipswich, Fulham and maybe a couple more will stay the pace better. Early days yet, though and fair play to Joe and the lads for getting us up there. But we’re going to need a hell of a lot of good new players, go up or stay down. Maybe we should buy Championship Manager 99/2000 for Joe, there are some great players in there – wow that Martin Lauchlan, David Collins, Arjan Van Heusden (even better than Nicky). And I sold Gary Mason for two million! Alas, being an exile I never get to see the reserves or the kids. Anyone give us a sensible update?

Ernie Whalley (


In MCIVTA 570 Neil Haigh wondered what was going on and offered his opinion on a number of items and comments. Two of his statements in particular really grated on me and leads me to question his commitment to the cause and reason for supporting City.

“And indeed I’m getting reluctant to go to games having seen the performances at Crewe and Chester, which in truth, were a total embarrassment to the club.”

I wasn’t at either game but from what I’ve heard and read City were indeed very poor in both games. Surely though we’ve all seen a lot worse performances in recent years than those at Crewe (away draw and stayed top of the league) and Chester (4 goals in a tricky cup tie)? If indeed seeing an away league draw and cup win are too much of an embarrasment then don’t go to any more away games and give others a chance to get their hands on some tickets.

“… as a season ticket holder, I didn’t go, because amazingly, I genuinely cared about seeing City knocked out of the FA Cup.”

What is this guy on? Is he suggesting that we only go to watch those games that we are confident that we are going to win? Confidence has hardly been a buzz-word around Maine Road over the last few seasons has it? If we all had that attitude then the Mansfield Auto Windscreens Cup attendance last season would have been repeated on a few more occasions. If we do get promoted this season then I wonder how many games Neil will go to next season?

Just for the record I’m a Kippax season ticket holder currently exiled in Poland and it is a pleasure to get to see any game – win, draw or lose (not a bad record this season actually – Wolves, Grimsby and Swindon at home and Charlton away so far). I cannot believe that any true City fan would purposely avoid a match because they didn’t want to see us get knocked out of the FA Cup.

Anyway, get behind the lads and see you at Forest in February.

Iain Sellers (


Just finished reading MCIVTA 570, which I read with particular interest following postings on Blue View referring to its content and I am surprised and a little concerned to read 1: So many ‘negative’ comments (I must admit my Edghill opinion contributes to this) and 2: So many detailed comments saying ‘this will happen’, ‘we’ll do this’ etc. when we’re in the Premiership. Whoa! reality check people! We could so easily have still been enjoying the delights of Division 2 this year. But instead we are on 52 points, currently 2nd in the 1st. Secondly, although our performance so far is exceeding mine and I suspect everyone’s expectations, we are not ‘guaranteed’ to go up, although I must admit that I hope and think we will.

There’s no problem speculating about so and so’s ability to make the grade in the Prem’, but so many comments seem to assume that we’re already there. Let’s have these discussions in May, June and July! What worries me (and I’m not excluding myself from this either) is that our expectations may be so sky high that Maine Road again turns into a place the players fear due to the ‘weight of expectation’, and that early sniping starts again in earnest, should a game not quite go to plan. Already after 5 games, interrupted by injury and illness, Robert Taylor has been taking some major stick. Five games! It’s in our interests to give the bloke a decent crack of the whip, for goodness sake! It’s all about opinions and everyone has every right to say what they feel, when they want to say it. All I’m saying is keep it in perspective and don’t lose sight of the big picture.

Rant over!

Phil Hartley (


Mancs’ Army

Who do you think you are kidding, David Beckham,
If you think we’re fond of you,
We are the Mancs who are on our way back up,
We are the Mancs who were in the FA Cup,
So who do you think you are kidding, David Beckham,
If you think we like Man U!

Little Becksy goes to town on the A21,
But he comes home each evening wearing wifey’s satin thong,
He sounds like such a w*nker with his squeaky little voice,
His missus is so stupid it makes City fans rejoice!

Who do you think you are kidding, David Beckham,
If you think we’re fond of you,
Lashed out in France, the ref held his red card up,
That bloody kick only cost us the World Cup,
So who do you think you are kidding, David Beckham,
If you think we like Man U!

Noel and Liam go on tour singing Wonderwall
But they come home to Maine Road and watch City beat them all,
We’re the real Manchester fans, been here through all the s**t,
Not like this Cockney Red prick who just really thinks he’s it.

Who do you think you are kidding, David Beckham,
If you think we’re fond of you,
Sent off again, Fergie said you did nowt wrong,
But you’re just a twat in your w*nky git sarong,
So who do you think you are kidding, David Beckham,
If you think we like Man U!

Yes, I know some of the rhymes are a bit tenuous, but you try writing lyrics through the bloody ‘flu! Still, see you at the SoL in the Premier next season, ne?

Phil Halliwell, Sunderland ‘Til I Die


There were four eminent surgeons discussing the merits of various types of surgery.

Surgeon one said that he prefers operating on a mathematician because all the internal organs are positioned numerically.

Surgeon two said that he prefers operating on a librarian because all of the internal organs are positioned alphabetically.

Surgeon three said that he prefers operating on an electrician because all of the internal organs are colour coded.

Surgeon four said that he prefers operating on a Manchester United supporter, because they are spineless, gutless, heartless and the head and a*se are interchangeable.

Roger Sharp (


I vaguely remember an article in MCIVTA reference the music to Blue Moon having been worked out for use on a mobile phone. If someone could possibly let me have a copy I would greatly appreciate it.

Simon Chorlton (


Recent results to 17 January 2000 inclusive.

16 January 2000

Manchester City       4 - 0  Fulham

15 January 2000

Birmingham City       2 - 0  Norwich City
Blackburn Rovers      2 - 0  Huddersfield Town
Charlton Athletic     1 - 0  Crewe Alexandra
Crystal Palace        0 - 2  Barnsley
Grimsby Town          4 - 3  Nottingham Forest
Ipswich Town          3 - 0  Swindon Town
Portsmouth            2 - 3  Wolverhampton Wndrs
Queens Park Rangers   0 - 1  Bolton Wanderers
Tranmere Rovers       0 - 0  Stockport County
Walsall               2 - 1  Sheffield United
West Bromwich Albion  0 - 0  Port Vale

League table to 16 January 2000 inclusive.

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  GD Pts
 1 Charlton Ath.   27 10  2  2 25 11  7  3  3 24 17 17  5  5 49 28  21  56
 2 Manchester City 27 11  0  3 31 10  6  4  3 13 11 17  4  6 44 21  23  55
 3 Ipswich Town    27 11  1  2 29 12  4  6  3 17 15 15  7  5 46 27  19  52
 4 Barnsley        27 10  1  2 31 13  6  3  5 23 25 16  4  7 54 38  16  52
 5 Huddersfield T. 27 10  2  1 33 12  4  3  7 11 17 14  5  8 44 29  15  47
 6 Stockport C.    27  7  5  1 23 16  4  3  7  9 19 11  8  8 32 35  -3  41
 7 Blackburn R.    26  7  5  2 21 11  3  5  4 13 14 10 10  6 34 25   9  40
 8 QPR             27  6  7  1 20 13  4  2  7 15 18 10  9  8 35 31   4  39
 9 Wolves          27  6  4  3 20 13  4  5  5 14 17 10  9  8 34 30   4  39
10 Fulham          27  6  5  2 12  7  3  7  4 13 17  9 12  6 25 24   1  39
11 Birmingham City 26  8  3  2 24 11  2  5  6 12 17 10  8  8 36 28   8  38
12 Norwich City    27  8  2  3 17 12  2  6  6 10 15 10  8  9 27 27   0  38
13 Tranmere Rovers 27  7  4  3 23 15  3  2  8 14 22 10  6 11 37 37   0  36
14 Bolton Wndrs    26  6  4  3 22 16  3  4  6 12 14  9  8  9 34 30   4  35
15 Crystal Palace  27  6  5  3 23 14  2  3  8 13 29  8  8 11 36 43  -7  32
16 Sheff. United   27  6  3  4 19 14  2  4  8 15 29  8  7 12 34 43  -9  31
17 Grimsby Town    27  7  4  3 20 20  1  2 10 11 28  8  6 13 31 48 -17  30
18 Nottm Forest    27  6  5  2 18 10  1  2 11 11 26  7  7 13 29 36  -7  28
19 West Brom A.    27  2  8  4 12 15  3  5  5 12 17  5 13  9 24 32  -8  28
20 Crewe Alex.     27  5  5  3 12 10  2  2 10 13 24  7  7 13 25 34  -9  28
21 Walsall         27  4  4  6 14 17  2  3  8 14 26  6  7 14 28 43 -15  25
22 Port Vale       26  4  2  6 12 14  1  7  6 16 22  5  9 12 28 36  -8  24
23 Portsmouth      27  4  5  5 19 16  1  3  9 11 28  5  8 14 30 44 -14  23
24 Swindon Town    27  2  6  5 12 20  1  3 10  6 25  3  9 15 18 45 -27  18

With thanks to Football 365


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 #571