Newsletter #660

Suffice it to say that Saturday was still a great day, despite the result. The atmosphere was simply wonderful, filling me with thoughts of those electric derby days of the mid 70’s. All that was missing was a good old punch-up on the pitch, Macari and Doyle style, though I have to say that things did come very close on a few occasions! The fans had a field day with the Rags. Their away contingent, who I’d been told were a much livelier bunch than their soporific home counterparts, could hardly muster a decent song all game. In contrast, we rattled them off one after the other, culminating in the simply unanswerable “Keano thinks you’re wan*ers, na, na, na na”. Their sullen faces were a delight to behold.

Next game: Ipswich Town at home, Saturday 25th November 2000


Part I – Manchester Derby Analysis and Reaction

Beckham Strike Wins Derby for Reds

Manchester City’s poor derby run continued on Saturday. The Blues lost 1-0 to Manchester United at Maine Road, with a second-minute David Beckham strike dividing the teams. It was the worst possible start for the home side, with the recently appointed England captain scoring from a long-range free kick after Alfie Haaland’s foul on Paul Scholes. The Blues fought back well after such a setback and caused the United defence problems throughout – although the visitors could have extended their lead on more than one occasion, with Dwight Yorke in particularly profligate mood. City are now in 16th place in the Premier League, with fourteen points from the same number of games, and will be looking to put an end to a run of four successive defeats next week against Ipswich.

City to Escape Punishment for Coin Incident

Much of the post-match press attention following Saturday’s Manchester derby focused on a first-half incident in which David Beckham was struck by a coin thrown from the North Stand. But it appears that the Blues will escape punishment. It’s thought that referee Steve Dunn hasn’t mentioned the matter in his match report, meaning that the club will not face FA charges – despite fears to the contrary in the aftermath of the derby clash. After the game, Beckham was diplomatic, referring to the “great atmosphere” at the game and seeking to make light of the incident. “We knew we would get a little bit of stick,” he said. “Fortunately they were all £1 coins so I’ve saved them.” Meanwhile, City will ban any fans identified as having thrown coins at the match.

Royle – We Could Have Had a Point

Joe Royle was pleased with his players’ efforts in Saturday’s Manchester derby. And the Blues’ boss felt his team was a little unlucky to take nothing from the game. Royle conceded that Manchester United are a team of exceptional quality who carved out further chances after taking an early lead. But the City manager pointed to the openings created by his own side, and said he always felt an equaliser was a possibility. “We’ve had our chances,” he observed. “At the end of the day it was a close defeat and now we have got to pick ourselves up for next week.”

Boss Blames Weaver for Beckham Goal

Manchester City’s failure to line up a defensive wall for David Beckham’s free kick was blamed by several pundits for allowing the England star to curl the ball into the City net. But Joe Royle pointed the finger at his own goalkeeper. Royle explained that he feels a wall is unnecessary for a free kick from such distance – and said that Nicky Weaver had been in agreement with the policy. And though the Blues’ boss said he wasn’t blaming the 21-year-old, he expressed his disappointment that Beckham was able to score from so far out. “I think our ‘keeper is arguably the best in the country and I don’t expect him to be beaten from 35 yards out,” said the City manager. Weaver was diplomatic when confronted with his boss’s comments, simply saying that he “begged to differ.”

McLaren – City Should Stay Up

In the absence of Alex Ferguson, Steve McClaren took charge of Manchester United’s team for Saturday’s derby. And the Reds’ coach was pleased with his team’s display – but acknowledged that Joe Royle’s side had given them a hard game. McClaren was delighted by the application his players showed in the face of a battling City performance. And the ex-Derby coach’s only disappointment was that United missed chances on the break to make the game safe. But he had words of comfort for the Blues – and expects the Old Trafford outfit to have league derby engagements to fulfil next season. “Joe can be proud of his lads,” he reflected. “With the players they have and the spirit, they won’t go down.”

Wanchope Dropped, not Rested, for Derby

Paulo Wanchope was an unused substitute as Manchester City lost Saturday’s derby clash against rivals United. And Joe Royle says the Costa Rican’s omission wasn’t due to tiredness after a long trip to play for his country in midweek. Royle had publicly criticised Wanchope’s display in last week’s game at West Ham. And it’s the ex-Derby striker’s recent lacklustre contributions which were to blame for his omission from the starting line-up against the Reds. “Paulo’s performances have been disappointing,” said the Blues’ boss, “so he was left out.”

Part II – Other News

City Deny Wanchope for Celtic Rumour

Paulo Wanchope’s omission from the Manchester City side at the weekend prompted speculation over his Maine Road future. But the Blues have dismissed speculation that the club-record signing could be on the move only three months after his arrival. Celtic were said to be interested in Wanchope after boss Martin O’Neill said he’d like to sign another striker; the ex-Leicester manager was rumoured to have been keen on the Costa Rican in the summer. And clubs in Italy and France were also said to be monitoring the 24-year-old’s situation. But on Monday morning, City moved to deny the weekend reports that Wanchope could follow George Weah through the exit door.

New Names Enter Striker Frame

Manchester City have been linked with a host of prospective striker signings in recent weeks. And newspaper stories in the last few days have alleged interest from the Blues in two Tottenham strikers. Les Ferdinand was the man reckoned to have shot to the top of Joe Royle’s shopping list, with the Blues said to have offered £2 million for the ex-QPR and Newcastle star. However, after both clubs brushed off claims they could be ready to do a deal for the 33-year-old, Sunday reports claimed that the man interesting Royle was in fact Ferdinand’s White Hart Lane team-mate Chris Armstrong. When in charge at Everton, the City boss attempted to sign the ex-Crystal Palace front man, but it appears that the Blues have no prospect of landing the player this time round, with Spurs denying any willingness to sell him.

Gudjohnsen Speculation Still Persisting

Manchester City failed to sign Eidur Gudjohnsen in the summer. But the Chelsea forward has continued to be linked with the Blues after failing to win a regular place at Stamford Bridge. The Sunday Mirror this week claimed that the London club has already rejected one bid from Joe Royle for the 22-year-old striker. But the paper hints that Chelsea Managing Director Colin Hutchison could be tempted if Royle returns with an improved offer for the Icelandic international. However, with Tore Andre Flo said to be on the verge of a move to Scottish champions Rangers, the Blues may find they have to wait to pursue interest in Gudjohnsen until Claudio Ranieri’s squad is reinforced by the arrival of a new striker.

Rumoured Target to Move Elsewhere?

Manchester City were linked with John Hartson earlier this month. But the Wimbledon target man seems not to be Maine Road-bound, with newspapers reporting that the Welshman is on the verge of joining Charlton for £6 million. Rumours that Hartson could be poised for a switch to the Blues surfaced after Willie Donachie was spotted at the Dons’ recent game against Barnsley. However, it was noted at the time that the City coach may just have been running he rule over his club’s next Worthington Cup opponents – the Londoners visit Maine Road on November 29 for a tie the ex-West Ham and Arsenal star may now miss. Charlton are said to have in mind a part-exchange deal for the controversial striker which will see Wimbledon receive £4 million in cash and the £2 million-rated Kevin Lisbie.

Granville and Cooke to Seal Permanent Moves?

Terry Cooke and Danny Granville are currently away from Manchester City on loan. And the pair could soon make their moves permanent – if weekend reports are to be believed. Sheffield Wednesday have already indicated a willingness to take Cooke to Hillsborough after the winger helped inspire a revival in fortunes during his time with the club. And while it was thought that the Blues’ asking price could present a problem for the cash-strapped South Yorkshire outfit, there are now claims that Joe Royle will accept a cut-price £400,000 for the ex-Manchester United star. Meanwhile, Granville has impressed at Norwich, leading to speculation that a £600,000 deal could be on the cards for the ex-Chelsea and Leeds star.

Unsettled Horlock to Ask to Leave?

Kevin Horlock was unable to win even a place on the Manchester City bench last Saturday. And there are now rumours that the Northern Ireland man is unhappy with his current situation and may ask for a move. Horlock has not started a league game for almost two months and is said to be prepared to move to increase his chances of regular first-team football. Birmingham have been linked persistently with the ex-Swindon player in recent weeks. Meanwhile, it was also thought that Lee Crooks could be on the way out of Maine Road after reports he was on the verge of making a loan switch to Bolton. However, the Trotters have denied the story.

Allsopp Joins County on Loan

Danny Allsopp has rejoined Notts County. And Sky Sports is reporting that the Australian’s stint at Meadow Lane could result in a permanent move. Allsopp scored one goal in three games in a month with the Magpies last season. And if he impresses boss Jocky Scott in his second spell with the club, he’ll join in a £230,000 deal. The 22-year-old striker, who arrived at Maine Road from Port Melbourne Sharks in the summer of 1998, made a substitute appearance for the senior City side at West Ham recently, but with Joe Royle looking for a new striker, he appears to have no real long-term future with the Blues. The under-23 international has also had loan spells at Wrexham and Bristol Rovers.

Youth Cup Date Set

Manchester City have set the date for their FA Youth Cup tie against Fulham. The Blues have announced that the match will take place on Monday, 4 December. City had high hopes of achieving real success in last season’s competition. However, the Maine Road youngsters were beaten in controversial circumstances at Derby and will be looking to put the record straight this term. Meanwhile, the City reserves will be looking to move up the northern section of the FA Premier Reserve League when they visit Aston Villa on Wednesday. The Blues have won only once all season at second-team level.

Royle Looking to Step Up Goal Rate

Manchester City have lost four successive games to sink closer to the Premiership’s relegation zone. And with the Blues having notched just one goal in that period, Joe Royle is looking for his team to show more of an attacking threat. Royle was happy enough with the Blues’ display in Saturday’s defeat by Manchester United – but felt that not enough was made of the opportunities which were created. But he nevertheless feels that City are on the right lines, and says the players’ self-belief is strong ahead of what may be the season’s defining period. “We have to start scoring goals again,” he commented. “We’ve got to keep believing in what we are doing and translate that into a win next week against Ipswich.”

Peter Brophy (


Manchester City vs. Manchester United, Saturday 18th November 2000

When Two Tribes Go To War

We couldn’t get tickets for the game so our pre-match rituals consisted of switching on the telly and sitting eating full English breakfast. After all the hype of the previous weeks, the cat-calls in the pub, the jeers and snide comments, here it was the first Manchester derby game for nearly five years.

The PA system was blaring out “Two Tribes”, which given the amount of feeling that has been running through the city for the last few days, was rather over egging the pudding a bit. The TV showed a sea of blue and white and when they did focus on the sad looking Rags in their enclosure, the one thing that stood out more than anything was the lack of red. Yes folks the so called “red and white army” weren’t wearing their colours! Enough of them though. Munching a sausage, here’s the line up for us: Weaver in his usual place with a back line of Charvet, Prior, Howey and Tiatto. In midfield, SWP, Haaland, Wiekens and Whitley. Due to our rather scary lack of strikers at the minute up front were Kennedy and Dickov.

So the whistle goes and they are off. As expected the game started at a million miles an hour with the first attack coming from the Blue end. Straight away though the ball was turned around and passed down the left centre to Scholes who was clattered to the ground from behind by Haaland 30-odd yards from goal. Sausage munching temporarily suspended. Is this the first booking of the game? Nope thank heavens for that it’s just a free kick which we all know Beckham will take. So why is there only a two man wall and why is it about fifteen yards from where the kick is being taken? What about the exposed post? Beckham steps up but Weaver commits too early and bang, the ball’s in the back of the net… 93 seconds gone and we’re one nil down, there’s egg and beans all over the place and I’ve just lost my appetite!

Doom and gloom settles over the Cash household, especially when Tiatto picked up the first yellow card of the match for a 50-50 on Beckham. But wait, what’s this the lads are up for it and pushing forward again. For the next ten minutes or so the United area is under siege with a succession of corners. One on 18 minutes produces the first real controversy of the game. Prior is stood in front of Barthez as Kennedy swings a high(ish) corner in. Suddenly Bartez has the ball in hand and the attack is over but what happened to Prior? The replay answered that straight away. As the ball came in Bartez smartly shoved Prior out of the way with both hands before jumping to take the ball. Penalty ref! No, miraculously the referee saw bog all. Perhaps Barthez’ grey shirt made him invisible but a clear foul and a penalty opportunity went begging.

22 minutes and Weaver had his first real save to make after Yorke shot from a Scholes cross. Nicky made up for his previous faux pas by turning the ball out to keep the score as was. Haaland saved Weaver’s blushes a couple of minutes later by clearing a ball about two yards out after a free kick for a supposed foul on Beckham. The replay showed no contact and Beckham diving for the FK. Our two best chances of the half came on 29 and 37 minutes. SWP shot just wide following a goalmouth scramble and then Haaland whilst one on one with Barthez was pushed out just too wide when the ‘keeper got a hand to the ball. What a difference those two goals would have made. Just as half time came United got a couple of corners in front of the North Stand. Sad to say that some folk let us down a that point as Beckham was pelted with coins and lighters. No doubt there will be something so say from the FA on that incident. It was certainly picked up by the studio pundits who roundly condemned the behaviour… The stewards were seen to take action so hopefully the people responsible were ejected from the ground.

Half time came and went, pots washed, a cup of tea in hand and we are ready for part two. At the restart Wiekens and Kennedy were replaced by Bish and the Goat. The formation also changed to a more attacking 3-4-3 with Tiatto moving up to midfield and Dickov and SWP moving out left and right respectively. With the changes came a more attacking game from City, which almost immediately paid dividends as Barthez pulled off a save diving to his right to deny Dickov a quick opportunist goal. Within a minute Barthez was in action again using his legs to block a full stretch Goat attempt which if only he’d lifted it a foot or so was definitely going in. The free kick lesson of the first half had obviously been learned when from a similar position on 49 minutes the wall did its job and Beckham’s shot went high and wide over the bar following a foul by Haaland.

The match had so far been good natured and in no small part an excellent display of skill from the Blues but now with the need for the elusive equaliser and some niggling kicks and pushes, a bit of needle was starting to creep in to the game. Frustration showed when on 55 minutes Prior was booked for a challenge on Scholes which clearly both at the time and on the replay showed Prior never touched the man. Howey twice in two minutes saved the day by close marking on Yorke to deny him two clear chances on goal. At the other end Haaland had a header cleared off the line by Brown. Tempers flared a minute or so after when Brown and Dickov tussled in the box with each having a handful of shirt. Both players had to be spoken to by the referee but no cautions were handed out which was just as well as Dicky was already on a yellow. The lesson was obviously taken to heart as a near punch-up took place within a minute in front of the dug-out with subs and coaching staff getting in on the action too… now this was a Manchester derby!

Unfortunately the equaliser never came but neither did the scoreline extend for the Rags. 1-0 was how it had been for 88 minutes and 1-0 it remained at the final whistle. The teams that had been squaring up just a few minutes before went off with arms around each other accompanied by lots of back slapping… Sky TV gave Beckham MotM but for me the honour should have gone to SWP who, on his full match début, put himself about so ably that you could have sworn there were three or four of him on the pitch. His pace and work rate are rivalled only by Dicky’s but with greater passing accuracy. We have a real star there and at 19 with chance to develop he could be a match winner in years to come. As for the rest of the team, Charvet and Howey both acquitted themselves well. Bishop seems to be back to his usual accurate form but whether at 35 he is up to running for a full match is debatable… he seemed to be tiring after 45 minutes. Haaland played a captain’s innings, being evident both in defence and attack and holding the midfield together excellently.

Disappointments of the day were Wiekens who was so anonymous that he was barely evident at all for most of the half he played and, heretical as it may be, Weaver who was mostly to blame for the goal. Beckham’s trade mark is the looping free kick from 25 to 30 yards out. To decide to go up against that with a two-man wall and then to fail to defend the gap was a basic mistake that cost us the match. I can only think that Nicky intended to pull off a spectacular save which sadly didn’t come off. As ‘keeper he calls the shots in such dead ball pieces and he failed miserably on this occasion. Dickov and Tiatto both let the Rags get under their skin. Fire in the belly is a necessary quality but the ability to control the temper means you get to stay on the pitch a bit longer. With a more picky referee both could have walked and up until the last fifteen minutes this hadn’t been a particularly physical game.

So that’s four games with no points. Luckily everyone below us had equally poor form of late but Joe and the boys really need to start winning a few if we are to avoid an end of season nail-biting finish. That said this was a brilliantly entertaining game of football with our lads giving a consummate display of skill which on any other day would probably have won us the points. Good game, shame about the result. The breakfast incidentally was delicious!

David Cash (


Manchester City vs. Manchester United, Saturday 18th November 2000

Got up at 7.30 am so I could try and push some breakfast into my very nervous stomach before Soccer AM on Sky, which was to feature a well known City loving rock star and a bass-playing United fan. Had the valium handy (I kid you not). I’d been in hospital the previous day for treatment to my back, and because of spasms they gave me three days worth of diazepam. The doctor said “Don’t take one before the game, you won’t remember a thing”; I replied that I probably wouldn’t want to, to which he said “If it’s looking bad at half-time pop a couple”. Well it wasn’t so I didn’t.

Back to Soccer AM. For the record it was probably the funniest ever. Noel Gallagher was brilliant and his mate Manni (the bass-playing United fan from Primal Scream) contributed by feeding Noel his lines (Argy-Bargy, do they still say that?). Razor Ruddock also nearly got the show taken off air when asked about black-boxes… And moving on… as Tim Lovejoy gamely tried to do… After this I was more relaxed than I ever thought I would be. Enjoyed the “short” 30 minute intro and then… here it was… Derby 125. Just keep it tight at the beginning I thought. 90 seconds later my new found relaxation had crumbled and the valium was looking like a really viable option.

Much has been made about the “have a wall” / “don’t have a wall” decision. I have always been an advocate of the don’t have a wall option from that distance. Most ‘keepers let free-kicks in from that distance because they don’t see the ball until it’s dipping at them from about 12 yards. A distance not many ‘keepers save penalties from. But if you do choose this option don’t then have two two-man walls five yards behind each other. Having opted to give Beckham a clear shot at goal, Howey then stood in Weaver’s line of vision (inadvertently I’m sure) and creates a nightmare scenario that the shaven one took full advantage of (by the way, much has been made about how well he kept control of himself after the penalty/push in the back incident against Italy – I don’t know how many other people noticed it but if Charlie Dimmock (Ray Parlour) hadn’t intervened he’d have been back in the dressing room).

Anyway… so we contrived to give ourselves the worst possible start imaginable. How would we react, heads down? No, none of it, we went straight back at them and a minute or so later Kennedy pulled a decent chance wide after a bit of loose stuff in the United penalty area. The game was being played at a frenetic pace and after 12 minutes Tiatto got booked for a stupidly pointless tackle on Beckham when the ball was already out of play. On the quarter hour Shaun Wright-Phillips blasted a volley inches over the bar after a poorly cleared corner. Should he have taken it with his left instead of waiting for it to come to his right, by which time Irwin had put in an off-putting challenge? Probably, but then he was probably shaking in his boots. What a day to make your home début start with your adopted dad/star striker sitting in the Main Stand.

The game continued end to end with City controlling much more play than I ever dreamed we would. Particularly in midfield where once again Jeff Whitley was outstanding. SWP had another volley go close with City really pressing. After 35 minutes United broke from a City attack and the move ended with Weaver making a save at the near post with his feet from an angled Yorke shot from about 8 yards.

A minute later City’s best chance of the game saw Haaland put clean through the centre after a through ball from SWP. Unfortunately Alfie’s second touch put the ball too far forward and Barthez dived to his left to finger-tip the ball wide enough to give Alfie an angle too acute for him to turn the ball into an open goal.

The ugliest part of the game then followed when Beckham was pelted with coins etc. from the corner of the North Stand whilst taking a corner. Make no mistake I despise this person with a passion but I was disgusted and ashamed that millions of viewers worldwide would be witnessing “the best fans in England” behaving in such a way. There may well be further repercussions when the referee puts his report in.

United were having a good spell and Butt looked clean through but Weaver raced out of his box to make a crucial tackle. The ball broke to a United player who shot the ball into the vacant net only for Howey to appear from nowhere to make a wonder save and hook the ball clear. A minute or so later another United break saw Keane whip the ball across for Yorke to seemingly miss a sitter. The replay proved that it was in fact the minutest of saving touches from Prior that took the ball away from Yorke. The half ended with Beckham once again being pelted with coins whilst preparing to take a corner from the same place as previously.

The second half started with Bishop and The Goat on for Kennedy and Wiekens. Later statistics showed that Kennedy only found a team-mate with one out of eleven crosses but how much of this was down to the rather diminutive targets he had? Within a minute of the re-start Dickov brought a sharp save down to his right from Barthez with a shot from 25 yards. A minute after that Barthez tackled Goater on the edge of the box to prevent what would have almost certainly been a goal. City were buzzing. Two minutes later Haaland was penalised again in a dangerous position but this time Beckham’s free-kick (with a wall) clipped the netting. The game got more open and tackles started flying in from both sides. Dickov got booked for a kick at Beckham which had Joe furious. On 70 minutes Howey had a clear header from about 8 yards but fired over. Soon after Charvet conspired to do the same thing from an almost identical chance.

On 72 minutes the ball bobbed around in front of the United goal. The ball seemed to hit Haaland on the head, rather than him head it, but went goalbound, only for Brown to hook the ball clear from just in front of the line. The last ten minutes got a bit heated and the game threatened to boil over.

A slight fracas occured in front of, and involved, the benches when Tiatto tried to give Gary Neville a third brother by slicing his current one in two, still he deserves it after the penalty in Euro 2000. In the 88th minute City seemed to have reasonable claims for a penalty when Brown appeared to pull Dickov back by holding his shirt. A bit of a melée followed with both Dickov and Brown lucky to escape punishment. The subsequent replay was less than conclusive when there seemed to be a bit of tugging on both sides.

The game ended with United victorious and probably having had the best clear cut chances. But also with myself and, I would hope, many City fans proud of the performance from our team. This was after all against a team rated as one of the best in the world. We matched them and could easily have come away with something. No player ratings but I thought Whitley, Howey and Bishop deserved a mention. And SWP won’t be out of his depth at this level. Having been at MR for the Leicester game a couple of weeks ago it is hard to imagine this was the same team. If we can put half as much commitment into the games we should be winnning there won’t be a problem… but can we?

David Kilroy (


Manchester City vs. Manchester United, Saturday 18th November 2000

I sat down at my friend’s house in Perth to watch the derby match from Maine Road, not knowing what to expect bearing in mind recent form. Having been at Maine Road for the last home game against Leicester I knew that United were in for a “tough” reception from our fans and this turned to out be true!

History will recall that the game was won with a tremendous free kick from Mr. Beckham but in the future can we try not to assist him in any way as he certainly does not need any help on free kicks given his ability from dead ball situations! Nicky Weaver has probably had some sleepless nights since ruing his decision to only ask for two players in his defensive wall.

After the goal I thought that we more than matched the opposition and were certainly looking more like scoring than we had done against Leicester where we huffed and puffed. Wright-Phillips had a half chance from inside the box which went just over and Haaland I believe should have done a little better although Barthez did force him wide with a flick of the ball.

The half time changes seem to give the side more freedom to attack but obviously as we saw later left one or two holes at the back which went unpunished. Bishop was doing the prompting and bringing the likes of Dickov, Charvet, Goater and Wright-Phillips into the game to really ask questions of the United defence. We all know that at times when under pressure this part of their team is not the strongest but it was disappointing at the end to get nothing from the game.

Quite frankly at this level we should have done better with the opportunities presented to both Howey and Charvet from virtually free headers less than twelve metres out! We went unpunished at the other end from several breakaways by a combination of good luck, good defending particularly by Howey and Weaver, and poor finishing by the likes of Yorke and Scholes.

Overall we can take some heart from the performance and if we can play with this sort of commitment and endeavour coupled with better finishing then we will improve our league position soon. Remember United have been regularly knocking in three goals plus in games away from home and they did not have things their own way on Saturday. I know Bishop’s defending is not the best but the balance of the midfield looked better when he was on, Howey defended very well again and looks composed on the ball, Haaland made some great runs from midfield, never shirked a challenge, but needs to improve his composure around goal. I thought Wright-Phillips for one so young and inexperienced showed some great touches, was never frightened to take on defenders and will cause other sides problems should he get more games. Kennedy before he went off showed that he was at least enthusiastic and was willing to have a go at the backline; hopefully this is a good sign.

Once again as I mentioned after the Leicester game the balance of the side is most important and I am sure this is something that both Joe and Willie chew over every week to find what is the bset line up for a particular match. Goater I believe needs more games and looked a little underdone on the weekend although he will always be in the box somewhere near the drop of the ball. Now that this game is out of the way let’s look to pick up some points in the next few games before we get into any sort of a desperate situation.

Ex-Blue Mike Brennan (


This is going to be a pub-match report; not only will I cover the derby but also the quality of pubs in Darlington. After dragging myself from pre-Christmas shopping (more hassle but less earache than post-Christmas shopping!), I searched Darlington for a pub with few Rags and a nice TV. Having decided the Firkin pub was my best bet I tried to enter the premises but found the door locked – the poster in the window showing coverage starting at 11am, it was now 11.27am – panic! Nearest pub was called Muse and had a small telly, a bloke on a stool and the barman with many tattoos.

First-half, let’s forget the first 90 seconds… no actually it had a major bearing on the match. Someone fouled someone else and Beckham scored. Weaver was wrong-footed and Joe blamed the goal on him – this was despite the wall featuring 2 players and then a second wall featuring 2 players – maybe they had been watching Zulu and thought it was better to have two rows instead of one – I hate to mention it but I did comment that Weaver had trouble with his wall against Leicester; this time it cost us a goal! Once the ball hit the back of the net my head went into my hands – but no, what a sterling comeback, City took the game to Man U and Wright-Phillips flashed a glorious right foot volley over the bar (Ian Wright who was at the match pulled his hat from his head in anguish for not the last time). Haaland fluffed a one-on-one with Barthez and Howey cleared a certain goal bound effort. Loads of energy but little cutting edge, we seemed to lack a focal point – Wanchope?

Wright-Phillips was a constant threat – this lad is a star in the making and Howey demonstrated how to defend against a supposedly world class strikeforce. Barthez flapped at everything, seemingly desperate to increase the pressure on his defence by sending clearences either side of the corner flags – if that’s a world class ‘keeper then Noel Gallagher is an ex-Oasis star (see last issue of MCIVTA)!

After deciding that the beer glasses were too tactile on the outside, and without wanting to see if there was a similar effect on the inside, we pushed on to the Tap & Spile where they were serving food at £5 for two meals off the board between 12 and 12.30 – it was actually 12.25pm. Before you ask I didn’t know they were showing the match, and actually they had it on the big screen (the picture was worse but you could see the clock). Second-half was a little more fraught; glad they had Yorke up front and even Scholes proved that he could be as s***e as the rest of them by firing into the side netting when it seemed easier to score.

City made a few changes with Bishop and the Goat coming on for Kennedy and Wiekens, and towards the end Giggs came on for Sheringham (I hadn’t even noticed he was on the pitch), Tiatto made a marvellous dummy that meant missing the ball but taking out Philip Neville – this then nearly caused a big brawl with Beckham & Philip’s big brother leading the charge – England captain my ar*e! Tiatto got away with the challenge which was just as well as he had already been booked, then Dickov and Brown had a little push and shove game after Brown had tried to wrestle Dickov to the ground in the penalty area, again fortunately for Dickov the ref took no action as he had already been booked. I don’t want to moan about the ref as I thought he had an alright match, but it did take until towards the end of the second-half before Butt became the first yellow carded Rag.

So in summary let’s look at the stats as provided by The Guardian:

Possession: City 49% – Rags 51%
Shots on target: City 5 – Rags 5
Shots off target: City 5 – Rags 5
Corners: City 10 – Rags 13
Fouls conceded: City 12 – Rags 11
Offside: City 3 – Rags 5
Pretty even match or what; if only we’d have defended that free-kick better…

My man of the match – Steve Howey. Anyone know who was chosen at the match or by Sky?

CTID, James Walsh (


BLUEPRINT, the first City fanzine, has relaunched on the net. The site is now up and running and can be accessed at The news section is already operative and is updated on a daily basis; we like to think this will be the best fan-generated independent news service on the web. As of now, MCIVTA news summaries will be collated from the eBLUEPRINT news page. Some of the other features are not yet ready but please keep visiting in the coming weeks as we add more to the site. We have plenty of exciting new features to come, including a regular column by Paul Lake. We also welcome contributions – the more innovative and original the better, as befits a publication responsible in its heyday for starting the banana craze, the plane round Old Trafford on derby day, the biggest flag in British football and the fancy dress at Stoke. Please send submissions by e-mail to Bill Borrows at or Frank Newton at

Bill Borrows (


Wanted to go and watch the derby match with the convivial Wicklow lads but alas I had to be in town to supervise a turkey shoot. No, nothing to do with Pat Garret & Billy the Kid; more that my editor decided to present our readers with a stage by stage article on “how to cook the perfect turkey” and I had to be there to tell the photographer that the glass hole in his camera goes at the front and correct the spelling mistakes in the chef’s notes.

Anyhow as Ann, my wife, lit out for a 4-day trip to Milan about 6am I got up early and got a DART (local train) into Dublin. Went into the Epicurean food Hall in Liffey Street (highly recommended for Blue Gourmets), got a nice double-shot cappuccino at the Italian deli, collect some bread, paté and cheese and friendly fishmonger who owes me one throws masses of scallops, prawns and a large crab in a bag for the price of a couple of pints. Then over to the Turkish place for a Richard Dunne sized kebab. I saunter down the quays eating same, and finally hove up at The Plough in Marlborough Street, a supposed Blue haunt. It wasn’t even bloody open! Second time this has happened – lads, I suggest we adopt the Maid of Erin 100 yards up the road, a much nicer pub, would just about accommodate 50 p****d Blues, standing room only of course and very cosy – a bit like the old Kippax, only the pies are better.

Twenty past eleven so I shot across the bridge to the sports bar in Fleet Street where the rudest barmen in Dublin (in red shirts – ugh) serve mouth-numbing Guinness at a gob-smacking IR£2.80. Crowded with Scum because it’s only a spit and a stride away from the new Red Ripoff store, so wouldn’t take much finding even by the average single-figure IQ Rag. Wedged myself into a corner with a couple of nice Blues over for the weekend and two Rag-haters from Reading who supported Derby and Leeds respectively. Massive groans as The Shopoholic plants the ball in our net. Is Nicky the Worst Organiser Ever of A Wall or what? Could we not get TC back to show him how, he was always great with lego? Rest is pretty predictable, or maybe not because our defence looked organised and capable. Someone moaned that Charvet is slow but he advanced good style, passed the ball to a man, shepherded the attacker into a blind alley and put in one or two telling crosses. Who wants Edgie back? Not me. Howway the Lad was only mighty all morning. Tiatto had a great first half despite some leg-biting that could have got him sent off. Midfield worked hard and made up for lack of craft by running, tackling and, best of all, supporting each other and running into space, making little triangles to shift the ball upfield, doing sensible things fast. Alfie was utterly top man with Jeff The Revelation not far behind him. As usual against the Rags we played against 13 men, gobby red-eyed ref and linesman with white stick. Dicky ran and niggled away – he might (just possibly) have got the pen he deserved if he hadn’t done his mini Jonah Lomu thing on Wes Brown.

Baldy Frog shoved Howway about 5 yards; that should have been another, far worse than Frontzeck’s naff attempt to give Cantona a lovebite. Wright-Phillips showed some nice touches and Goat moved superbly off the ball – he really does do some nice things outside the box, vastly under-rated as a footballer. Kennedy was… Kennedy – win a few, lose a few, drift in, drift out – although sending crosses into two vertically-challenged strikers must be a tad demoralizing. The finishing was absolutely woeful – look on the bright side, if Joe wasn’t quite convinced we need a couple of quick and deadly strikers, he surely must be now. Add a creative midfielder who can break a few tackles and play the killer pass and we’d have, not a “stay up” side but a bl*ody good one.

We took on The TV Darlings and outplayed them for huge stretches of the game. We hardly looked bothered by their much vaunted midfied and free-scoring attack. I’m proud of the lads, every bl*ody one of them; might make an exception in Kennedy’s case. Great to be back in the Prem, losing one-nil to a bit of flash is no disgrace. The large Rag contingent knew it. One guy tried to get the singing going and the rest ignored it. Not that Rags are noted for singing – prawns don’t sing, as far as I know. To continue the day, I then rolled up at the restaurant, did my David Bailey bit and got presented with… da, da (roll of drums)… a twelve-pound cooked turkey (christened Jason, after van Blerk). So I’m back home, with enough food to feed the whole of the Gene Kelly and no-one to share it with. I ring round, try to get a few fellow musos in for a jam but everyone’s out of town (except for three guys who I wouldn’t invite because of their footballing affiliations). So hey, ho, break open that bottle of Penfolds 389. Fetch the nutcrackers, shell the crab. Stick a shiv into Jason’s ribs. Got a bottle of port somewhere… where did I put the blue and white balloons? Christmas comes early to Sandymount… “Hark now hear The Kippax sing, United run away. And I will eat for ever more, because it’s derby day…”

P.S. the brief who got MK off with a leg-smacking is a pal of mine. Pity the judge didn’t give him community service. God bless all Blues everywhere.

CTTEBHTDAB (City Till This Effing Bird Hits The Dustbin – and beyond), Ernie Whalley (


Chorlton Blues will be holding their first meeting on Tuesday 28th November at South West Manchester Cricket Club, Ellesmere Road, Chorlton. Events kick off at 7.30pm. All are welcome to attend. For further details contact Larry on 0161 226 0445 or e-mail link below.

Larry Higgs (


Not a match report, just a few things I wanted to get off my chest.

My husband always accuses me of being sensitive to anything negative that is written or said about City by non-City folk. I have no problem with criticism or comment but I like it to be at least fair and even-handed.

If my language offends anyone, I must apologise, but I’ve only just realised why Gary Neville always has his mouth open – it’s because his head is so far up his bottom he can’t breath through his nose. I’m not in the habit of listening to anything our neighbours have to say but the interview came on so suddenly that I didn’t have time to switch to another radio station. In his interview with GMR, Gary Neville said that City ‘Huffed and Puffed’ and, had TWGC lost to City it would have been a travesty to football, or some b******s like that. I see the tradition of magnanimity and graciousness in victory lives on.

Mark Lawrenson said on MOTD that Danny Tiatto’s challenge was the worst that he’d seen this season; obviously Alan Smith’s (Leeds United) two footed challenge on Rufus of Charlton and Heskey’s high challenge on Chelsea’s Melchiot were simply mistimed.

The papers the following morning were about Beckham’s beatification and Tiatto’s challenge. Some of the flowery words used to describe Tiatto’s challenge made me question my ability to watch a live match and interpret what I see. I guess wearing their rose coloured glasses they didn’t see the number of times that Beckham fell over under ‘challenges’ from our players without contact being made. His challenge on Tiatto where he actually jumped at Tiatto and used his elbow to good effect was worthy of a booking. I’m sure had they noticed that particular misdemeanour by Beckham they would have said that it was accidental. I guess that now he’s been made captain of England, like Alan Shearer, he is beyond reproach.

Much has been made about how well he played down the coin throwing incident. Throwing coins, especially £1 coins at millionaire footballers shows what numb nuts we have at Maine Road, but Beckham didn’t exactly play it down on the pitch did he? When I saw him go down on all fours I thought that maybe a sniper had shot him, he stayed down for a minute or two clutching his head – he was either badly hurt or he wanted to draw attention to the incident, maybe I’m being harsh, I’m sure the coins could have caused some sort of brain damage; I’m of course assuming there’s a brain.

Warming to my Bechkam theme – am I being totally biased to anything red or is Beckham totally overrated? He’s very good at dead ball situations, he’s a good crosser of the ball, he’s a hard worker but is he actually world class?

The week leading up to the game I was nervous as hell, I didn’t think that we’d get a 5-0 drubbing but I thought we might be embarrassed. We didn’t get any points but I know that I can go into work on Monday and continue to ignore the sad Red on my floor in the knowledge that we played well and were unlucky not to come away with a point. We had a few good chances that maybe on another day would have been converted. I was again impressed with Shaun Wright-Phillips, he’s got good vision, quick feet and a good temperament. Howey and Prior continue to work well as a team. I thought our midfield kept their midfield quiet. It was nice to see Goater back; with a few more games under his belt, providing he stays injury free I think he’ll do well in the Premiership. As Wanchope has got such a good record against manu I was surprised that he didn’t come on in the second half.

Last week after the second half débâcle at West Ham I must admit that the word relegation kept cropping up in my mind but if we can play the rest of our matches like we did against manu then maybe we’ll be safe from the big R. One thing before I sign off – with all the work class players that manu have, why do they feel the need to cheat?

Averil Capes (Averil.Capes@ICL.COM)


Dear Mr. Wilson,

It is with reference to your summary of events at the weekends’ Manchester derby, published in The Observer on Sunday, that I feel compelled to respond accordingly. I must inform you that my character does not usually force me into controversial written battles with those who’s trade is indeed writing (where did you cut your teeth?) but this occasion vexed me in such a manner I feel it is not only satisfying to correct you, but also very necessary. Your understanding of a Manchester derby is no doubt a valid interpretation, albeit again, no doubt a southern one. Are you a ‘life-long’ Manchester United supporter perchance (currently residing in Hounslow, Sevenoaks, Worthing, Singapore)?

Of the 11 years you speak of not beating ‘them’, lest us not forget Manchester City have, due to a strange miscarriage of nature, been out of the top flight for 4 years. I will quickly reduce 11, you understand, to 6 – it’s a simple case of accuracy. Please define the word ‘supremacy’. Are we talking in respect of the ’11 years’ of not having beaten Manchester United or rounding down to the 90 minutes of the game played?

You speak of the hypocrisy with which Haaland had spoken of in the morning press re Keane’s comments – hardly necessary, this is merely Captain vs. Captain – you had the job of writing a match report. As you are obviously a staunch MUFC fan, you do, and I sympathize, seem to find it incredibly hard to accept that even the champions find it difficult sometimes to ‘turn it on’. This is only ‘sometimes’ though because after all they are ‘Manchester United’ aren’t they? Your obvious ignorance towards talent other than that in a red shirt becomes apparent in the “Weaver stood to make an important save. Credit to the ‘keeper on that occasion.” I can count three or four ‘fine’ to ‘excellent’ saves. You probably didn’t see them. I can’t blame you, because you refer to Keane as ‘outstanding’. Were you actually at the game, or was I not? Keane had a very mediocre game for a player of his class. I watched the video on my return from Maine Road. I’m telling you this in order to outline the fact – it does.

I particularly like your comments with regard McClaren’s ‘grinding out a result’ comments. You must really rate your footballing knowledge. I beg to differ. Your synopsis of the football match oozed nothing but rudimentary journalistic convenience. At this juncture I do feel inclined to ask once more – were you there?

The referee did handle the game fairly well – you though could have probably done a better job of it, you may have spotted the diving Beckham and Yorke, then again you failed to report on that in the piece too. Would I be correct in saying – ‘you didn’t see it’? Comments like ‘unlikeable Haaland’ beg reason and I personally would have diluted the references to the touchline fighting as squabbling or shenanigans – but then again I’m not a contributor.

A final note I wish to comment on is something which all, rival football fans will be more than aware of. It is chanting. Having attended around six Manchester ‘derbies’ at Maine Road and the Theatre of Dreams (Where everyone goes to, to have a sleep), Saturday’s was one of the more subdued ones. The United fans were quite simply embarrassing. Do they really feel they don’t need to get behind their team? Supporters like the dismal 3,000 that attended Maine Road need goading, it is called atmosphere. Half hearted chants about not winning anything for 24 years were about as venomous as the enquiries as to the whether the referee was in fact ‘Fergie in disguise’! Football needs chanting like this and I wouldn’t doubt if in 50 years Everton fans may make references to Hillsborough whilst locking horns with their neighbours. That is, I suppose the ‘ultimate’ example but football after all is a religion. People go to church. People go to stadiums. People worship gods (footballers). The religious sing hymns, we chant. What is the biggest cause of war? Religion. Do you understand?

It was a reporter that called City fans the best in the world. It was a footballer who named United fans the worst in the world. Who do you feel holds the most validity? This has been hard for me to write because I have wanted to swear like Bernard Manning with Tourette’s syndrome. I really hope he writes in to you.

Mr. Wilson, I suggest you go and support a local football club, learn what it’s all about then when you feel you’ve learned hard, get on a ‘learn to write for money’ course. They’re in the back of the Sunday tabloids you know.

Yours truly,
Joel Perry.
Seat 46,
Row 7,
BB Lower,

Joel Perry (


Well, despite living in probably the most populous country on the planet, India, I got no responses to my desperate call for fellow Blues on MCIVTA to watch the match with. OK so converting Indians to the Mighty Blues is another story (anyone fancy helping me put together an unofficial ‘Blues in India’ website?). Watching the match wasn’t as easy as it might have been. Having played it cool all week I logged onto the MEN website Friday night and the adrenalin started pumping after reading the various ‘war of words’ – Alfie taking the moral high ground completey from under Roy Keane’s feet.

OK so having recently arrived in India we have no TV. And Delhi being the weird place it is (almost no drinking bars except in fancy hotels) and the test match with Zimbabwe starting in Delhi which everyone was tuning into (Indians aren’t that into footy yet – still very much cricket) things weren’t looking hopeful. So a scour through the local papers came up with a sale on for TVs – two hours later the Visa card was swiping away, and half an hour before kick-off, after several frantic phone calls, it arrived on a pedal rickshaw – no I’m not making this up. Next problem – getting cable fixed. Relatively easy in India – £5 per month for the lot. Fifteen minutes before kick-off, and a Visa bill in the post, and we (very understanding wife) all set up on the sofa with cold beers in hand.

So the match? Well I thought the boys did themselves proud. Wright-Phillips is a star for the future, we dominated possession and deserved a goal. A draw would have been fair. Bish looked good when he came on, defence looked sound overall although Charvet looked really tired in the last 15 minutes. Tiatto and Dickov the usual guts. Whoever were throwing objects at Beckham are complete wank*rs. I don’t know what Kennedy needs to do to up his workrate – he’d be a far better player with a rocket up his arse. A couple of young Bishes are required to fit into an increasingly stable team. Anyhow I’m on a mission to convert India to the Blue side of Manchester – before the Reds get there (only seen one Red shirt to date)… any suggestions welcome.

Matt Jowett (


I have just got back from Milan, where I watched the derby. Thank you Manchester City. Thank you for giving me such a magic day. Thank you City fans at Maine Road, the atmosphere you created was so incredible that it got out of that TV set and penetrated into my veins, up to my heart. I can still feel it as I write. I’m proud of being a City fan, prouder than I was yesterday. They might be keeping winning, but what a show when we play, we never give up!

The difference between us and them? They’re United till they win trophies… we’re City till we die! Manchester City I love you!

P.S. I can’t wait to come to Manchester (hopefully in February), I want to hug you all my friends! We’re simply second to none.

Vanes Marzaroli (


There will undoubtedly be numerous match reports and opinion after the game, so I think I’ll add my twopennorth.

  1. The atmosphere was great, I woke up Saturday morning almost feelinglike I did as a child when Christmas Day was finally here. The noise andresounding booing of the U****d team announcements reminded me of theWembley penalties. Who needs 60,000 capacity when 32,000 loyal fans cancreate that kind of atmosphere?
  2. Mr Dunne. What a complete and utter @rse. This is the first time Ihave been moved to stand up and shout at a referee. Actually calling him areferee is incorrect. He probably judges table-tennis competitions.Clueless, biased, incompetent. He was obviously afraid of doing anythingto wind up King Prawn and his colleagues. The blatant penalty (shove byFartez on Prior early in first half), possible penalty (sulky Wes onDickov), the two footed challenge on Haaland by I recall not who, and thenumerous diving incidents were all ignored. His handling of the touchlineincident between Tiatto, Herman Munster and others in second half wascorrect. Had he given Tiatto a 2nd yellow then I think City would today befacing charges for a pitch invasion, such was the frustration.
  3. MoTD, BBC. Yet more bias. They ignored any of the above challengesand chose to concentrate on the Tiatto incident. Yet another organisationin the pay of TWGC(tm). Interesting to see that since Taggart was awayhis stand-in deigned to have an interview with the Beeb though, somethingTaggart refuses to do since the Beeb criticised him.
  4. The goal. Have to say I agree with Mr Royle. On the replay, whichMoTD kindly showed a few times to emphasise, Weaver moves to his left thusallowing their leading goal scorer to block his view. Auntie Beeb’s postmatch interview techniques left something to be desired on this incidentthough.
  5. We played well, much better than the visiting contingent, thought wewould. I thought Howey was outstanding, Charvet had a super game – damnshame we are not quick enough with our reaction speed to convert the chancehe gave us. Once we’d missed two or three it was clear we would neverscore. SWP was clearly Man of the Match. Having watched him in thereserves over the past couple of seasons it is fantastic to see that earlypromise coming to fruition. I predicted the half time substitutions tothe disdain of all around me. Shame I didn’t take a wager on them. Feltthat Kennedy actually had his first good game of the season though, so alittle confused on his withdrawal. Wiekens is becoming more and moreanonymous. SWP needs to be back in midfield.
  6. We desperately need a striker and a younger Bishop. Add it to yourChristmas list Joe, but can we have Christmas on 25 November? Also Joe,can you get the boys to practice their diving techniques? It works foreveryone else.
  7. Chant of the game (when we were leaving) was the City fans to the GeneKelly “Keane thinks you’re w@nkers.No answer to that. Imagine our Alfie saying such things about us.

Who would have thought, a few months ago, that with a forward line of Dickov, SWP and The Goat we would hold the Rags to a 0-1 scoreline and actually have created several chances ourselves. Oh yes, City are back.

Heidi Pickup (


This is my first contribution to MCIVTA, but I just have to vent my spleen at the appalling press coverage of the derby, especially by the so-called quality press. In particular, there was a nasty, biased article by Paul Wilson in ‘The Observer’ newspaper, and you just have to read what it says to believe it. Paul Wilson wrote:

“The Maine Road faithful backed their team magnificently too, even in adversity”, Ok, so far so good, but wait for this, “though there was no need to emphasise the point by deriding the quieter United supporters. In addition to making a lot of noise, City fans were responsible for pelting Beckham with coins and several moronic references to Munich. Best fans in the world? Don’t think so.”

I’ve heard everything now! We’re being criticised for deriding the opposition and making too much noise! This man is obviously a regular at the Swamp, where, according to Taggart, you can hear a crisp packet being opened. What is happening to our football when you get attacked for making too much noise? I must also apologise – not! – to Paul Wilson for the fact that our songs haven’t been written by Lennon and McCartney, but they are no worse than any other football songs at other grounds I’ve been to. As far as Beckham being pelted with coins is concerned, the police Superintendent in charge of the match said that the vast majority of fans behaved themselves.

After fuming over this article, I turn to page 20 of the sports section of The Observer and I read a fawning tribute to the players of Man U, particularly the hapless Neville brothers. Gary Neville is described as “an almost priceless commodity in England and United squads”, and Phil is “selfless” in his approach. Scholes has “fulfilled his potential and more” and the tributes just flow on and on. Who wrote this objective article, you ask? You guessed it, Paul Wilson.

The last thing I want any of you to do is to write, as I did, a letter of complaint to The Observer newspaper. But just in case you don’t want a bias Rag of a journalist to get away with it, the editor’s name and address is: Roger Alton, The Observer, 119 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3ER.

I feel so much better now!

CTID, Ian Hawthorne (


Not going to do a whole match report as they’ll probably be loads – just ratings for the players and ref:

Weaver – 7 – No chance with the goal and generally played well, made a couple of good saves – when is Royle going to stop criticising his players – no ‘keeper would have stopped that.
Charvet – 7 – Gave us something we’ve lacked for the past year, a right hand side, linked with Haaland and SWP well and was a constant thorn in the side to Irwin – best performance in a City shirt.
Howey – 8 – Gets better every game I see him play, he’s a rock at the back and is cool under pressure, made serveral crucial tackles to prevent certain shots on goal.
Prior – 7 – seems to lack something, played well but will surely make way for Dunne eventually, he’s good in the air but I’m not sure if he’s good enough this year.
Tiatto – 7 – Gave Becscum the treatment he deserved, lucky to stay on but he gave an all out passionate display which shows that even though he doesn’t come from Manc, he can feel the passion of the fans.
Kennedy – 6 – Good start but seemed to fall apart later and stopped putting in good crosses, subbed at h/t.
Wiekens – 6 – Is he injured because the game seemed to run past him throughout. Subbed at h/t.
Haaland – 8 – Reaction at f/t showed how much he cared about this game, looked truely disappointed, battles for the club and has made himself a hero with his hatred of ‘nitid, likes his song too!
Wright-Phillips – 9 – Man of the match, did more than Beckscum, gave us control and vision and he’s not afraid to run at people, doesn’t bottle out of challenges either, had a few on Keane and Brown who are almost twice his height, must start next week.
Jeff Whitley – 7 – Gave a full bodied 100% committed performance, lacks vision but makes up with no nonsense tackling, gave SWP someone to play off many times.
Dickov – 7 – Should have had a penalty before starting a fight with Brown after Brown pulled him over in the box, ran and ran and caused no end of troubles; one word of advice, don’t shoot from twenty five yards, you won’t score!
Goater – 7 – Held the ball up well and gave us something else up front, came back and defended when needed.
Bishop – 8 – If it wasn’t for SWP, Bish would be my MotM. Came on and gave us a player who could split midfield in two with his passing; he must start against Ipswich.
Ref – 0.5 – Who’s the ****** in the black? Absolutely appalling, gave nothing to City unless it wasn’t in a danger area, fell for Scholes’ diving, should have ended up with about 15 names in his book but instead we got 3/4 bookings they got 1 – are all refs Man Utd fans or what?
Atmosphere – 8 – Some good chants, especially We’re Blue and we’re proud of it; was glad to sing that as it is totally true; 24 years and we’re still here showed them and everyone that we will stick with our team throughout, 26,000 in the third – 32,000 in the second and 34,000 in the Prem, will we fill Eastlands, course we will.

Jeremy Barber (


A big thank you to our friends in the North Stand who showed their eagerness to contribute directly to the David Beckham Popularity Fund by hurling their contributions straight at him. Such a brilliant idea, shame the media misinterpreted this sporting gesture as mindless hooliganism. Another example of pro Rags bias in the press. As for me, I must be going soft in my old age. Why else was there a churning in my stomach when I read phases like “vicious”, “moronic” and “Best suppoerters in the World? I don’t think so” in the Sunday morning papers?

Graeme Nicholson (


A great match, I’m proud of the Blues’ team. It was somewhat spoiled by a referee who’s obviously a groupie, our lack of a decent goal scorer, the result, and worst of all, the shame we feel thanks to the no-brain coin throwers (good shot though! but how would you feel if you blind somebody?). How do you feel when coins are thrown at you – as it happened to me at Bournemouth. Roll on the away leg now that there’s some healthy animosity between Danny and some of their lot. Incidentally the spice boy is, these days, too mentally tough to be phased by verbal abuse or coins. You could see that he was doubly determined to channel his anger into ensuring a Utd. victory the more stick he got.

Peter Birbeck (


As ever my dander is up… but as ever in contrary way! Sorry it’s a bit long, but as ever, I’ve a lot to say.

Instead I want to talk about the atmosphere in Maine Road during this knuckle-clenching game; something amazing was going on, and it really got to me. Something even more amazing, I’ve now changed my mind about a few things, and I want to put things right; right here and right now.

So what on Earth happened yesterday? Well as you know I’ve been fairly critical of Joe in recent weeks, spitting the dummy over the George Weah and Terry Cooke incidents. I’ve not changed my opinion here, I still desperately want these guys to be available to play for City. I love them and what they brough to the games I witnessed! But as stated before, I seem to fall for the players who end up getting shut completely out of the team! Accordingly, I am saying absolutely nothing about Shaun Wright-Phillips!

No, what I’m unhappy about is that I’ve lost my cool, and maybe my head; but thanks to the City fans at the Derby, I’ve got a new perspective to approach things from: A lesson truly learned, maybe I’ll be asking some questions, but later.

So to the game itself. My stomach was in knots well before the kick off and my throat was dry with worry. We needed to make a bold start, but instead, in typical City fashion, we selected reverse gear directly from the starting grid. We also did the same thing in the last Derby at Maine Road. Unbelievable.

So, two minutes gone, and one goal down. And totally silenced in the nightmare of it all. Worse still, we had to put up with the gleeful taunts of the Rags, chanting ironically: “Hello, hello City are back”.

There was some noise around me, but not much lengthy singing going on. Chants fell to silence almost as soon as they had begun. I vividly remember one guy standing up, turning to the fans and saying with anger: “Come on you b*****ds sing – this is a Derby!” I caught his eye, but I still remained silent, my voice choked somewhere in my throat; I couldn’t get anything out: drowning in a sea of Blue despair. Okay, it’s only a game, but you know how it is.

But I say this to that guy, if you’re reading this – I got your message and the inspiration, one hundred percent. You pulled me round and snapped me out of it. Even better was to come, as soon I, and everyone else around, was to find their voices, loud and proud.

We limped on to half-time, a crippled battleship seeking the safety of the harbour. Relieved in our own way, to be only one goal behind. During the half-time team City talk, I’m sure that all Joe had to do, was to say two little words to the players: “Self-Belief” (rr is that one word?).

In the second half, this self belief was suddenly there; the Blues stung into every ball like angry, irritated bees. United, meanwhile were strangely quiet; holding themselves back maybe, I just couldn’t tell, or maybe, just unsettled by the increasing intensity and fervour building up around the ground? The gutsiness of the City players,soon spread to the fans; we in turn came back with a word of our own: “defiance”.

As if roused from a slumber, we remembered what we for there for: We are City; You cannot beat us; We cannot be put under; We cannot be subdued; And above all, we refuse to go quietly. Please remember these words, should we need them in the weeks to come.

Chant after chant rolled down from the stands and echoed around the ground, I bet this was totally lost by the TV coverage. Some great new ones came out; one a minute, until I couldn’t keep up; by the time I’d just got the hang of one, another had kicked in:

“One nil to the referee, One nil to the referee”. Loud and angry.

“Same old MANU; always cheating”, to the tune of the Pompey chimes.

“Keano thinks you’re W*nk*rs, Keano thinks you’re W*nk*rs!” What response is there to that?

And then, the ultimate and most apt put down: “Worst support we’ve ever seen!” The Rags then knew the truth of their very own words. “Hello, hello, City are back!”

And we were singing out to those people who, as Keano had pointed out, were unable to find their voices whilst winning a critical game in the Champions’ League. And this, from battle hardened, gutted Blues, facing Derby defeat yet again, but singing our hearts out anyway.

All of a sudden the game was over. But there was still time for another accolade: a standing ovation for the Blue boys who’d not let us down in any way. Absolutely astonishing. If you were there, I hope you recognise what I’m saying – if you weren’t, then trust me, we rolled with it.

So where do we go from here? Well I for one, now understand and accept what’s been going on these last few years. And why, I’ve been at odds with so many City fans. Since Joe has arrived, and whilst I’ve not agreed with everything that’s been happening on the pitch, somehow, something critical has changed off it: we have.

We are now absolutely resolute in our defiance and cannot be shaken, or indeed stirred. We don’t need to lapse into negativity and get on people’s backs – I didn’t hear a cross word from anyone after this, our fourth defeat in a row. And yet weren’t we all absolutely gutted as we trudged home?

So please take this message from me, Mr Totally-Confusing, in the weeks to come:

It’s going to get tough. We face an uphill struggle. We have to back Joe to pull us out of it, regardless of our stated differences of opinion. If this means I ought to shut up for a while, then I will do: and you’re going to back me on that aren’t you? So let’s do it then.

We are in this together; we better stick together. Agreed?

Neil Haigh (


This was a weird one – an 11.30 a.m. kick-off just isn’t right. Met some mates early doors in town, nerves a-jangling, for a civilised coffee/pastry in Caffe Nero. Spotted groups of shady looking “scallies” getting in taxis in Albert Square. Not a football colour in sight – Salford Reds, probably.

Weird atsmosphere on the bus going down to Rusholme. We got on and there was a big group at the back – you could tell everyone was eyeing each other up: Blue or Red? Only when the “If you hate Man United…” chants started did we realise they were Blues.

Was anyone else this nervous?

Had a walk past the Gardeners en-route to find a strangely subdued bunch outside, doors locked, but a few had somehow managed to get some tinnies (too early for me, yuck). Got to the ground absurdly early. God, what a horrible sight to see Trafford Rovers warming up on our pitch. Tony Coton, warming up Donald Pleasence, got quite a lot of stick – from near me in the Kippax, anyway.

The ground was full. The visiting supporters had the North Stand and the Gene Kelly. I only spotted one person with a red scarf on, and I didn’t see any shirts – were they all too scared to show their colours, or had they done it so they could cause trouble and blame it on us afterwards?

Then the teams come out to a huge roar from the crowd. Trafford’s team announcement was booed off the pitch, the atmosphere was building up… the huge blue shirt was passed along the Kippax just before kick-off… then the Rags attempted to get a banner out. Unfortunately, the morons hadn’t quite worked out how to unfurl it properly so you couldn’t read what it said. Not quite the effect they had hoped for, I expect. I think it was something along the hilarious lines that we haven’t won anything for 24 years, and it had a moving part so the numbers could be changed for each passing year. Ho ho ho. I wonder how long it took them to think of that (dare I say I actually thought it was quite amusing? No? Ok, sorry)? Shame it didn’t open properly, they just ended up looking a bit pathetic.

Do we really need a reminder about what happened next? Didn’t think so. There was total disbelief after spice boy tucked that free kick away. The whole team (hey, they’re all local lads! every single one of ’em) ran over to the North Stand, and no one got booked for incitement, of course… so 90 seconds gone and we’re 1-0 down. Great start, eh?

The game went on, the tension continued (both off and on the pitch). Our problem (or one of them) was we never looked like scoring. We are crying out for creativity in midfield, and a striker who puts chances away. The positive thing was we did open them up on a few occasions, but we couldn’t blo*dy score.

Watching the “blink and you’ll miss ’em” highlights on MotD, I was gutted that Haaland didn’t shoot with his first touch instead of trying to go round Barthez (good local name, that). At the time I couldn’t really see what happened. I also got the chance to see Danny Tiatto’s tackle in the last few minutes. At the time I couldn’t tell what happened – it just looked like it was kicking off and I thought that Joe Royle had run on the pitch. Seeing it from close range, Tiatto was blo*dy lucky to stay on. But then again, the referee was a bit… strange. During the game, it seemed like every single decision went Trafford’s way. The Kippax linesman was hopelessly off the pace of the game: several offsides, handballs and shirt pulling argy bargy went unflagged, to the apoplexy of the Kippax faithful. He kept looking to the referee before flagging; at times I think I could have done a better job.

Shaun Wright-Phillips had a fantastic game, the poor sod ran his blo*dy socks off. If only he wouldn’t have shot over the bar; I felt that he was given the ball too much in awkward situations and expected to work miracles. But what an impressive game, let’s see him start again on Saturday, please, Joe.

Some chants simply have to be mentioned:

Us to them:

  1. You’re the pride of Singapore.
  2. Worst support we’ve ever seen.
  3. Keano thinks you’re w****rs (classic – the bemused faces as it sank in).
  4. If the Nevilles play for England so can I (brilliant).

and there were the usual, of course, but I think the last 2 deserve a special mention.

The Cockneys, when they did rise above a murmer, sang “City’s going down like a Russian submarine”… is it now ok to sing stuff like that, after all the stick we’ve taken over the runway song (no, let’s not start this debate again)?

Special mention, too, to the police for their masterstroke of genius: letting the away fans out at the same time as us. Fantastic. No trouble at all, then. Apart from dodging out of the way of a stampede of police horses, being forced the long way round, down alleys and into gangs of suspicious looking people. Why the hell didn’t they force the cockneys to stay in until we’d gone. Oh yes, and what’s all this “F*** off back to Stockport” business to us on the way out? Is that their biggest insult? Is it an insult? Am I missing something?

All in all, I wasn’t too suicidal after the game. I was obviously disappointed that we’d lost, but I hadn’t expected to pick up any points. We have to start a winning streak. I have started looking at the bottom teams and we cannot start relying on them to lose for us to be safe. Come on, Joe, sort it out for Saturday.

Forever Blue, Christine (


Just a quick reply to John Mcfarlane (who seems to love George Weah’s input to the club); for a player to be good for the club, he needs to be good in more than just the one game, and all you could cite in your opinion was his performance against Gillingham. Wow, one game. We need a striker who is consistent (to play alongside the inconsistent Wanchope), and let’s be honest, one Premiership goal was not really worth £20-30k a week was it? As for who we could get in, I like the idea suggested in the last edition of Robbie Keane, but I don’t like the thought of the price!

Ed Bodey (


I’ve got a pair of VIP tickets for the game on November 25th to give away. The winner and friend get full hospitality at the ground including 3 course meal, tour, hopefully a chance to meet some of the players, as well as top seats for the game.

I think it’s a great prize and want to let as many fans as poss know about it.

Ian Short (


I am missing his usually excellent items! Come on Cathal, put hand to keyboard again.

CTID, Joe Ramsbottom (


I was born in Ancoats on 27 March 1934. When the FA Cup came home that year, I was carried by my mum to the end of our street to see the Cup go by. I have lived away from Manchester for almost 50 years now but still count myself as a True Blue.

Alan Mayall (


As a kid I had always enjoyed playing football but up until the age of 8 years I had only ever had one football-claim-to-fame kit. I was the only wearer of a Wolverhampton Wanderers orange football shirt with black shorts and black and orange socks in Hertfordshire. Why Wolves you ask? My mum liked Derek Dougan!

In the winter/spring of 1969 aged 8 years old I recall listening to the radio as reporters talked about the coming Cup final and how Manchester City were expected to win it. I had shown no interest in City up to this point but sitting down to watch the FA Cup final I was interested enough to see what all the talk had been about. Maybe it was the sight of the chubby blond haired Franny Lee or the delicate yet deadly skills of Summerbee and Young. Perhaps the industrious work rate of Bell or the solid rock like tackling of Doyle? Who knows but by the end of the match I was a convert and City were my team.

It was never going to be an easy badge to wear, especially as City have never been the hip and trendy team to support. City fans tend to stick with the team through thick and thin and boy there have been some thin times of late! For someone of my age I can just recall the glory years but for the current youngsters on the stands it has been a time of trophy drought with those 1970’s years drifting into ancient history days of European successes, League Cup wins and world class players, we were the team everyone else had to match up to. We had it all but in true City style we let it slip away. From football powerhouse to Second Division outhouse!

Despite the disappointments there was always the camaraderie of meeting other City fans around the country. The level of hope and expectation never diminishes from one year to the next and the support has never waivered despite sometimes plumbing the depths of despair. I can remember being mid Atlantic on the fateful day City played Luton requiring only a draw for First Division survival. I had asked the hostess if there was any way I could be told the result and she agreed to ask the Captain. The announcement he made later in the flight was one that left me shattered. City had lost and we were relegated! My holiday was ruined. How could I face my Rag supporting friends on my return? But I did, I took the mickey taking and the ribbing and laughed it off but inside I was shattered. Since then it’s been a similar story as the club yo-yo’d up and down between Divisions, producing silly embarrassing defeats and some glorious victories. This season we are back where we belong and already providing more cringing defeats and gut busting victories. Why can’t we be consistent? That wouldn’t be City would it!

The move back into the Premiership for City coincided with a job move for me from the UK to Houston Texas, a barren soccer wasteland where American Football and Baseball is king. I still religiously wear my City shirts with pride, looking at myself as a messenger or missionary from a far off sea of Blue and White, sent to guide the sadly misled American public that there is more to soccer in England than the Rags and their Red shirts! It’s a dirty job but someone’s got to do it!

I’ll be thinking of you all each Saturday at the House of Pain, hoping upon hope that we are dishing it out rather than receiving it!

Good luck for the rest of the season boys. Good luck to MCIVTA readers and all City supporters worldwide. Remember to keep the faith!

David Oram (


Recent results from 06 November 2000 to 19 November 2000 inclusive.

19 November 2000

Tottenham Hotspur     2 - 1  Liverpool

18 November 2000

Charlton Athletic     2 - 0  Chelsea
Derby County          2 - 0  Bradford City
Everton               2 - 0  Arsenal
Leeds United          0 - 1  West Ham United
Manchester City       0 - 1  Manchester United
Middlesbrough         0 - 3  Leicester City
Newcastle United      1 - 2  Sunderland
Southampton           2 - 0  Aston Villa

League table to 19 November 2000 inclusive.

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  GD Pts
 1 Manchester Utd  14  6  1  0 24  4  4  2  1 12  6 10  3  1 36 10  26  33
 2 Arsenal         14  6  1  0 16  4  2  3  2  7  8  8  4  2 23 12  11  28
 3 Leicester City  14  3  3  1  7  7  4  2  1  7  1  7  5  2 14  8   6  26
 4 Liverpool       14  6  1  0 16  6  1  2  4 12 15  7  3  4 28 21   7  24
 5 Aston Villa     13  4  2  0 11  3  2  2  3  5  8  6  4  3 16 11   5  22
 6 Ipswich Town    13  3  3  1  9  6  3  0  3 10  8  6  3  4 19 14   5  21
 7 Charlton Ath.   14  5  2  0 13  3  1  1  5  8 17  6  3  5 21 20   1  21
 8 Newcastle Utd   14  3  1  3  8  7  3  1  3  7  7  6  2  6 15 14   1  20
 9 Tottenham H.    14  6  1  0 14  6  0  1  6  5 15  6  2  6 19 21  -2  20
10 Sunderland      14  4  3  0  8  4  1  2  4  6 12  5  5  4 14 16  -2  20
11 Leeds United    13  4  0  3 15 12  1  4  1  5  7  5  4  4 20 19   1  19
12 West Ham United 14  2  3  2 10  8  2  3  2  8  7  4  6  4 18 15   3  18
13 Everton         14  2  2  3  9 10  3  1  3  8 10  5  3  6 17 20  -3  18
14 Chelsea         14  4  2  1 19  8  0  3  4  6 12  4  5  5 25 20   5  17
15 Southampton     14  3  1  3 12 12  1  4  2  7 12  4  5  5 19 24  -5  17
16 Manchester City 14  2  1  4  8  8  2  1  4  7 17  4  2  8 15 25 -10  14
17 Coventry City   13  1  1  4  4 11  2  1  4  9 17  3  2  8 13 28 -15  11
18 Middlesbrough   14  0  2  5  5 13  2  2  3 12 11  2  4  8 17 24  -7  10
19 Derby County    14  1  5  1 10 12  0  2  5  8 16  1  7  6 18 28 -10  10
20 Bradford City   14  1  3  3  4  6  0  1  6  1 16  1  4  9  5 22 -17   7

With thanks to Football 365


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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 #660