Newsletter #637

Today’s news sees Andy Morrison farmed out on a month’s loan to one of his former clubs, Blackpool. Although the club has consistently portrayed this as a means of accelerating his comeback, the press seems to think otherwise, with several reports giving a distinct ‘shop window’ slant to the story. The Club will not be pursuing their interest in the Ecuadorian – de la Cruz – despite two match reporters in this issue being quite impressed with his recent performance. The other major news item concerns Mark Kennedy, who was arrested in Dublin early this week – together Phil Babb – and was subsequently sent home by Mick McCarthy.

This issue has Peter’s news; two match reports from Tuesday night’s reserve game; a review of the July issue of City Magazine; all the Maine Road attendences for the last 30 years; news of Alec Thurlow; and lastly, much discussion of Richard Edghill and the abuse meted out to him last Saturday.

Anyone care to do a Why Blue?

Next game: Tuesday 5th September 2000, Leeds away


Financial Outlook ‘The Best for Years’

Manchester City’s accounts for the year to May 2000 show that the club made an operating profit for the first time in several years. And in his Chairman’s Statement, David Bernstein hailed an “outstanding year” for the Blues on and off the pitch. On the back of a second successive promotion, City made a pre-tax loss of £1.9 million, although this figure was only around 50% of the 1999 pre-tax loss. However, when transfers are removed from the equation, the extent of the club’s good housekeeping becomes clear, with the accounts showing an operating profit of £800,000 on a turnover of £17 million – an increase of 38% on the previous year. With bank borrowings virtually eliminated and turnover expected to double following promotion to the Premier League, Bernstein is moved to declare that there is now “a real opportunity to take our Club back to the top of British football” and to promise that “nothing will be spared to achieve this.”

Bernstein – Not the Right Time to Float

With the team back in the Premier League and the club’s financial position improving dramatically, some observers thought that Manchester City might float on the Stock Exchange this summer. But David Bernstein says that such a move would not have been in the Blues’ best interests. The City chairman revealed that the club examined the possibility of raising new equity. However, the club’s advisers counselled that the prevailing sentiment in the City of London towards football clubs would have ensured a poor value price. “The perception of the football industry by institutional investors is poor at the moment,” explained Bernstein.

Ireland Axe Disgraced Kennedy

Mark Kennedy has been kicked out of the Ireland squad. The City winger has been remanded on bail by a Dublin court after an incident in the early hours of Tuesday morning and did not travel with Mick McCarthy’s squad for a weekend World Cup qualifier. Kennedy and fellow squad member Phil Babb had been out drinking in the Irish capital after joining up with the squad ahead of the flight to Holland. The pair were charged with being drunk and disorderly, causing a breach of the peace and causing criminal damage to a car, and after being bailed will reappear in court in November. City are expected to fine the ex-Millwall and Liverpool player for his part in the incident.

City Disappointed By Kennedy

Manchester City have issued a statement expressing the club’s disappointment over Mark Kennedy’s behaviour in Dublin this week. But the club did give the winger qualified backing, promising to be “supportive”. David Bernstein stated that Kennedy will benefit from the club’s unity. But the City chairman made clear that the Irishman’s alleged conduct falls short of the standards the Blues expect from their playing staff. “As a club that prides itself on its unity and loyalty, we will always be supportive of our players and staff,” said Bernstein. “However, if the allegations against Mark Kennedy are substantiated, the club would be very disappointed at his behaviour which would have let down his country, Manchester City and not least the player himself.”

Trialist Unimpressive in Reserve Draw

Manchester City fielded trialist Ulises de la Cruz in the reserve match against Newcastle this week. But the Ecuadorian failed to impress in the 2-2 draw and will not be joining the Blues. De la Cruz was employed as a right-sided wing back as the Blues played with three central defenders against the Geordies. However, the 26-year-old faded after a bright start and saw his chances of a permanent switch fade with Joe Royle voicing doubts over the player’s ability to adapt to the physical. Paul Dickov and Gareth Taylor were on target as the Blues scored first and last in the match. Meanwhile, the City under-19s beat Crystal Palace 6-1 in their opening game of the season on Saturday.

No Hearts Switch for Taylor

The presence of Hearts assistant manager Billy Brown at City’s reserve match this week prompted speculation that the Edinburgh club may be set to swoop for Gareth Taylor. But manager Jim Jeffries says the Scottish outfit will be making no signings in the imminent future. Taylor had an impressive game against the Newcastle second string and capped his display with an equalising goal late in the match. However, Jeffries moved quickly to quell talk of a switch to Tynecastle for the transfer-listed striker, saying that, “We can’t buy until the situation at the club changes, and I can assure you nobody has made any bids for any of our players.” Sunderland, Derby, Barnsley, Burnley, Stockport, Bristol City, Brentford, Port Vale, Bury, Wrexham, Blackpool and Aberdeen were also represented at the match.

Morrison in Blackpool Loan Move

Andy Morrison played his second successive reserve match for the Blues this week. But the City skipper will now continue his comeback from injury away from Maine Road after joining Blackpool on loan. Morrison played in only twelve league games in City’s Division One promotion season, the last of them at Port Vale in October, before being sidelined with a troublesome knee injury. The big defender is hoping to earn a chance to prove himself at Premiership level with the Blues but hopes to use his stint with Steve McMahon’s side to boost his match-fitness. The 29-year-old has already had one spell at Bloomfield Road, playing for the Seasiders before a £500,000 move to Huddersfield in 1995.

City Linked With Preston Midfielder

Joe Royle and Willie Donachie took at trip to Deepdale on Bank Holiday Monday. And as a result, speculation has emerged that the Blues are targeting a Preston star. According to the Daily Mail, Sean Gregan is the man in question, with the 26-year-old said to offer power and aggression in midfield. However, with a fee of £3 million being mentioned for the ex-Darlington player, it would seem that any deal is unlikely, and in any case the City management pair could have been running the rule over a man representing visitors Wimbledon.

Cooke in Bolton Link

Terry Cooke could soon be given a chance to resurrect his flagging career. The City winger is reported to be a target for Bolton, who ran the rule over the 24-year-old in Tuesday’s reserve game against Newcastle. After his initial success at Maine Road, Cooke has seen his first-team prospects vanish. And with Joe Royle having transfer listed the one-time Manchester United junior, there appears to be no way back. The Trotters are looking for a right-sided player having lost Michael Johansen on a Bosman free transfer in the summer, and are reportedly ready to make a move for the ex-England under-21 player.

Greenalls Nominee Leaves Board

Andrew Thomas has stepped down as a director of Manchester City. He will become one of the club’s eleven Honorary Vice-Presidents. Thomas represented Greenalls on the board, but the Warrington-based brewery has seen its influence wane following recent share issues in which John Wardle, David Makin and broadcaster BSkyB have all subscribed for shares. The club now has seven directors: David Bernstein, Chris Bird, Bryan Bodek, Ashley Lewis, Alistair Mackintosh, Dennis Tueart and John Wardle.

International Calls A Disruption for Royle

Joe Royle will have to get used to international calls disrupting his preparation for games this season. And a look at the City players on international duty this week shows why. Of most concern to Royle will be the fact that Paulo Wanchope represents Costa Rica on Sunday evening in a World Cup qualifier against Barbados. And the 24-year-old is likely to arrive back in Manchester on Tuesday morning – the same day as the Blues travel to Leeds for a demanding Premiership game. George Weah, Nicky Weaver, Jeff Whitley and Kevin Horlock are also in action for their countries this week, although Mark Kennedy’s early return from Republic of Ireland duty has reduced the Blues’ international contingent.

Under-21s Omit Weaver

Nicky Weaver was the first-choice goalkeeper for the England under-21 side in the recent European Championships. But the City man will be on the bench for the match against Georgia on Thursday. Howard Wilkinson’s side are in action at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium, and Paul Robinson will be between the posts. But Weaver need not take the Leeds reserve’s selection as a snub. Wilkinson is already aware of the ex-Mansfield player’s abilities and simply wants to profit from the opportunity to see how Robinson copes at international level.

Relief for Royle Over Tiatto Call-Up

Reports earlier in the week claimed that Manchester City could lose Danny Tiatto to the Australian Olympic squad. The full-back was touted as a potential replacement for broken foot victim Paul Okon but has not been called up by the host nation. Teams in the Olympic competition in Sydney will be comprised largely of players aged 23 or under – but Okon had been selected as one of the three over-age players are permitted. Had he been selected, Tiatto would have been absent from the Blues’ Premiership campaign for four weeks and Joe Royle will be relieved that the 27-year-old has been overlooked.

Royle Working on Defensive Understanding

Several Manchester City players are away on international duty this week. But Joe Royle still has all his defenders available for training – and the City manager will be looking to profit from the opportunity to familiarise new boys Steve Howey and Paul Ritchie with their team-mates. The Blues have conceded eight goals in the season’s first three games. And Royle is hoping for a swift return to the defensive solidity of the last few seasons. “We have got to stop giving goals away,” he said. “Steve Howey is a great footballing centre half but we have to work on a little bit of balance and common sense defending between him and Spencer Prior at times but we’ll get there.”

Peter Brophy (


Following my appeal last week for volunteers to sit on the campaign committee I have had a couple of replies. I still need another two or three people to help take up the baton. Please if anyone would like to give it a go mail me at the address below. Thanks for all the support so far.

Dave Cash (



This is not so much a match report as a quick once over some of the players who were on show last night (Tuesday 29th Sept.).

Andy Morrison: This was Andy’s second competitive game after his long injury and I am pleased to report that he was excellent. He lasted the full 90 minutes and appeared, from the touchline anyway, not to suffer any injury problems. He was commanding in the air and on the ground, both physically and vocally and I’m sure the rest of the defence welcomed his presence. After such a long time out it will take a while to be ‘match fit’, especially in the demanding arena of the Premiership and this probably explains Joe Royle’s comments about a possible loan deal. Perhaps the best way to get Andy sharpened up is send him to a First Division club for a month; once he does achieve full fitness, I do not see any problems with him slotting in where he left off.

Richard Jobson: Just a quick mention, people have commented on his age and is he too old for the Premier; well last night he looked very good and OK he might not be up to playing every Saturday but he will slot in the back three/four when injuries dictate without a problem.

? De La Cruz: Sorry mate, I missed your first name but this chap is the trialist from Ecuador. Apparently he can play anywhere on the right and last night Joe played three at the back with De La Cruz acting as right wing back. Initially he seemed to have problems defending but looked very good when going forward. Terry Cooke in the first half appeared to have a roving brief, switching wings at will, and this possibly caused D.L.Cruz extra work that perhaps he wasn’t ready for. A couple of times he made excellent runs forward and either put a very good cross in or had a good attempt at goal. Unfortunately he then seemed to struggle to get back and defend. That said, in the second half Cooke stayed on the right, perhaps under orders, and D.L. Cruz played a lot better. He certainly seemed worth a second look and I would stick my neck out and say Joe will stump up the alleged £1 million it will take to obtain his services.

Terry Cooke: Without wishing to re-start the whole T.C. debate, he had an excellent game and worked very hard.

Chris Shuker and Terry Dunfield: Both are youngsters and have come up from the Academy; they both came on as second half substitutes. Dunfield plays in the midfield and Shuker, wide left. They are quick, skilful and if they represent the Academy, someone is doing a very good job. Give them a few months, perhaps a season, and they will be knocking on the door wanting a first team game.

One interesting thing from last night: although it was a reserve game with three points at stake, to allow De La Cruz to play (no work permit as yet?), City let everybody in for free and called it a non-competitive match! Oh and by the way, the final score was 2-2 and it was a cracking match. If you get chance, come along and give City your support. Last night there were 1,015 who went away having been throughly entertained.

Nigel Pickles (



Went to see the second string at Ewan Fields, home of Hyde Utd AFC. Kick off 7pm. att. 1,100 (4 Newcastle fans). Joe Royle, Willie Donachie, Mr Bernstein, Chris Bird, Denis Tueart etc. were also in attendance.

On arrival I was given a ‘we want Ulises de la Cruz’ leaflet, hastily printed by an unknown source. Apart from the presentation on the pitch of last season’s successful outcome for our second team, were we here to have a butchers at Mr. de la Cruz – I was anyway.

Team: T Wright, U de la Cruz, D Granville, R Jobson, A Morrison, P Ritchie, G Mason, T Grant (the tramp), G Taylor, P Dickov, T Cooke, T Dunfield, S Hodgson, C Shuker, C Killen, L Mike.

Newcastle: S Harper, L Charvet, A Griffin, D Hamilton, D Beharall, G Caldwell, B Kerr, J McClen, J Coppinger, D McMahan, C Serrant, Shola Ameobi, S Grindlay, M Boyd, R McGuffie, G Brady.

Ref: G Turner.

Result: 2-2

Dickov after 1 minute and Taylor to equalise in the last 3 minutes. Man of the match for me was Paul Dickov who never gave up and covered every blade of grass, with Andy Morrison a close second. He won virtually everything and never stopped marshalling his troops. Ulises de la Cruz looked a tad unfit, however he did play the whole game and was still running at the end. He defends well and gets into space to look dangerous in attack, and nearly scored a couple. Maybe his pace would improve with training. Buy him Joe! It was great to see Andy Morrison in action and I hope Joe plays him soon. Incidentally, Willie reckons a few more weeks for the Goat to come back, things are looking up.

Have you seen the game dedicated to him on Sky T.V.’s Soccer AM? Fame for the Goat! Next game: Man City vs. Leeds Utd. 21/9/2000, 7pm.

Mark Redgrave (


Will the real Manchester City please stand up? 3 games in, 3 very different performances. From the sublime (Sunderland) to the ridiculous (Charlton). So where does this defeat against Coventry fit? Somewhere in the middle, perhaps? Was this the real MCFC?

City started with the 16 on duty as against Sunderland the previous Wednesday. Coventry, who hadn’t won a Maine Road league match for 14 years, came into the game on the back of their midweek win at Southampton, their first away win in 16 months. Although most amateur pundits (me included) together with JR, were glad that Coventry had broken their away duck before playing us, this was still going to be a tester. We’d beaten Sunderland in such an impressive fashion, was there a danger that we’d underestimate dear old little Coventry? I think the fans did. The atmosphere was poor compared to Wednesday, and despite some promptings from some sections of the North Stand, Platt Lane and the Kippax, most people seemed content to sit back and wait to be entertained. This was very disappointing. I wouldn’t suggest that the result may have been different if there had been more noise in the afternoon air, but who knows? Must do better!

City started quite brightly, certainly holding most of the possession. Wanchope again looked sharp and had a goal disallowed but to be fair the linesman flagged ages before he dispatched the ball into the net. Craig Bellamy looked quick, constantly playing on the shoulder of our last defender, looking for a quick break. From one such break, Bellamy hared down the left touchine, without a defender in sight; Edghill covered, won the ball well and then scuffed an unnecessary backpass to Weaver. Bellamy couldn’t believe his luck and raced onto goal, a combination of Weaver and Haaland clearing the danger off the line. Less than 2 minutes later, a hopeful punt into the general area that Bellamy was occupying within our penalty area was ‘cleared’ by Edghill. Unfortunately his clearance was intended to land in the open arms of Weaver on his goal line, but Nicky had come off his line to collect the ball himself and the ball nestled in the back of our net, giving Coventry an undeserved 1-0 lead. Edghill clearly wanted the ground to swallow him up but I wouldn’t necessarily blame Edghill. Weaver claims he shouted for Edgy to leave the ball. Presumably Richard either ignored him or didn’t hear him. Certainly it was unnecessary for Nicky to come for that particular ball and certainly the goal was down to poor communication.

Apparently Edghill was immediately in receipt of a torrent of abuse from the stands. All I can say is that from the centre of the lower Kippax, it was noticeable that his first touch following the O.G., he received terrific support. Unfortunately the goal unsettled Edghill in particular but the rest of our players too. Also, as expected Coventry’s morale and enthusiasm increased. Weaver saved smartly from Roussel and time and time again our defence looked stretched. Nevertheless we still created the best chances, Weah’s screamer somehow parried to safety by the impressive Marcus Hedman. From the resultant corner, Howey thundered a header onto the crossbar. From another of our free kicks, the ball was cleared (by luck rather than judgement in my opinion) to Bellamy, again on the left wing. Like the earlier incident, Edghill was the only defender in our own half and he sprinted over to the left hand side. He seemed to have done the right thing by shepherding Bellamy out wide, but at the last moment the Coventry striker cut inside and drilled a shot in between Weaver’s legs from a tight angle. 2-0, a ridiculous scoreline on the balance of play and poor Richard Edghill involved in both goals. Nevertheless I was still supremely suprised, when Edghill didn’t return for the second half, Tony Grant occupying the right midfield slot, with Alfie Haaland moving to right back.

Almost immediately Haaland underhit a backpass, which thankfully Weaver cleared. Perhaps it’s our right back position which is cursed, not Edgy? Kennedy was replaced soon after and it must be said that Mark has been very disappointing in the 3 games so far. I just hope he’s ‘getting his bearings’ and that the critics who said he couldn’t perform at Premiership level are wrong. Dickov filled the left slot and immediately made an impression, as usual. However, although we again dominated possession, moves broke down frequently. I noticed that Dickov, Horlock, Tiatto and Wiekens all tried to play the ‘correct’ ball at certain times, but each time although the idea was spot on, the execution failed. Again a little niggling reminder that these players were playing in Division 2 16 months ago. However, we had chances but the ball would just not fall for us. When it did, it ping ponged around the box before landing at the feet of Wanchope who spooned the ball over from close range. Weah meanwhile was fading more and more from the game, perhaps because he didn’t have his golden/ yellow boots from the previous game? We eventually scored when from Wanchope and Dickov saved shots, the ball was eventually dispatched by Horlock.

Although the volume level was cranked up a bit, an equaliser was unlikely, it wasn’t our day. So what do we make of this? Well obviously Edghill will take the brunt of the criticism and although I’m sure that we would not have lost this game if it had not been for the O.G., it is unfair to lay all of the blame at Edghill’s door. The O.G was a ‘mistake’, not necessarily all his own fault and then for the second goal, he did his best when out of position. That said, Edgy himself would admit that he had a nightmare 45 minutes. Indeed, is there that much blame to dish out anyway? We created chances, we defended OK most of the time, we dominated possession. However, we still looked ‘loose’ as a unit today – both offensively and defensively and it is this aspect of our play that JR needs to address. We’re still not functioning as well as we could as a team. It could be that we need more familiarity, it probably means that we need to tinker with the personnel in certain positions. It’s a clich