Newsletter #690

Sorry, got to dash, so no introduction tonight I’m afraid.

Next game: Bradford away, Saturday 17th March 2001


German Completes Loan Move

Saarbrücken midfielder Dino Toppmöller has joined City on loan until the end of the season. The 20-year-old could well be offered a permanent contract should he impress, as Joe was quoted as saying “Dino trained with us for a week and we like what he has got about him. He will be with us until the end of the season and if he does as well as we hope then we could be looking at a permanent signing. He is a talented midfield player and a good passer of the ball and at just twenty he has plenty of time to improve.”

Dino should get his first game for the Blues in a reserve team outing in Thursday’s reserve match with Blackburn Rovers at Morecambe’s Christie Park, a game which should also see Mark Kennedy given an opportunity to sharpen up. He played for 45 minutes against Bury a week ago and is aiming to last the full game when he steps out tomorrow evening. The side could also feature Canadian trialist Joey Todaro.

City have another reserve game at home to Sheffield Wednesday in a week; the first team of course are off duty as a result of the FA Cup quarter finals this weekend.

Loaners In Action

Three City players – Gareth Taylor, Jim Whitley and Leon Mike were in loan action for Nationwide clubs last night. Gareth helped Burnley to a goalless draw at Stockport, being substituted in the dying minutes after missing a good chance to clinch all three points for the Clarets. He awaits his first goal for Burnley since joining them on loan last month. Jim Whitley meanwhile helped Northampton to a 2-1 win against Bristol Rovers at the Sixfields Stadium, with the City midfielder being booked seven minutes from time. Leon Mike started for Halifax in their Third Division clash at Hull and missed two excellent chances to equalise as Hull scored early on to win 1-0 at Boothferry Park.

As for former players, Jamie Pollock’s bristling style seems to have finally worn down the patience of Crystal Palace’s management. He was said to have been angered at his Chairman’s comments prior to the defeat against Preston on Saturday. Pollock, who was suspended for the game, was spotted in the players’ area with his father-in-law by Simon Jordan who told him to get back to the dressing room with his team mates. It’s alleged that Pollock reacted angrily to Jordan’s comments and reports suggest that he has been transfer listed and suspended for two weeks. Boss Alan Smith said, “He has not lived up to what we expected.”

Morrison to Join Crooks?

Andy Morrison is now being linked with a potential move to Barnsley after the collapse of the proposed move to Bristol City. Disappointed by the fact that City were prepared to offload him, he was nevertheless unable to agree terms with Bristol City last week, but it’s now reported that Barnsley could be poised to meet the asking fee of £150,000 enabling him to team up with Lee Crooks, who joined the Oakwell club for a nominal fee at the weekend. Said JR “Quite honestly the big fella deserves to be playing games now. He has been a fantastic servant for us. He did a great job dragging us out of the Second Division and played his part last year. We agreed a deal with Bristol that effectively would have given us our money back. He is an influential player and one who can lead. There is a shortage of such people in football.”

Lee Crooks is still waiting to make his début for his new club after completing his move to Oakwell at the weekend, as he’s still struggling with a knock, and was doubtful for Wednesday’s game at Nottingham Forest.

… But Egil Wants to Stay

Egil Ostenstad says that he would love a permanent switch to Maine Road, and he’s out to score the goals which could secure City’s future in the Premiership. If he achieves that aim he hopes that will persuade the boss to present him with a Blue contract.

The twenty-nine-year old, who still harbours ambitions too of a return to the Norwegian international squad, came to City after falling out of favour at Blackburn Rovers on an initial two month loan period. Now he’s ready to stay.

“I have been here for a month and am really enjoying it. The training is excellent and there is a great spirit in the squad. It has given me a great lift after leaving Blackburn when I was having a difficult time. Football has been a lot more fun since coming here.”

He has yet to start in the first team and with a brace of goals in the reserves last week he’s hoping to force his way into the reckoning for the trip to Bradford.

“With the break we now have two weeks of training which gives me time to get some good work done on the training ground. I know I have to do my best on the training ground and then see what happens.”

The long term ambition now is to win that contract at City, having been impressed with the set up at the club.

“I would like to stay here, but it all depends what is happening to the club but I would definitely like to stay here, there is no doubt about that. There is enough quality for us to stay up and we are closer now than when I first came in. It is looking better and I think Middlesbrough will not get out of it until late, if they do get out of it. So there is still every chance.”

Dickov on Standby for Scotland

City striker Paul Dickov has been put on full alert for World Cup duty with Scotland later this month after his return from injury. Scottish coach Craig Brown says he is ready to find a place for the Blues’ striker in the double header against Belgium and San Marino at the end of March. Brown has two weeks before he names his squad but the 28-year-old’s recovery from a knee injury has come as a big relief to the national boss. “Paul Dickov is very much in my thoughts,” confirmed Brown. “I would very much like him to be fit and lively because we haven’t got much provision in that area. Kevin Gallacher has been in and out of the Newcastle team as has Billy Dodds at Rangers, young Miller has not really established himself in the first team at Ibrox and young Burchill is on loan at Ipswich. You can see why I’m anxious for a guy like Dickov to be fit and ready. I had charge of the Scotland under-17 side with Paul in it and we got to a World Cup final in which he scored. I know all about his attitude, which is very good, and his capability. I brought him on a couple of times in recent internationals and he did very well. People remember him coming on as a substitute in Croatia and then being substituted himself which I have to say had nothing to do with his performance. I had been sent-off in that game and we were trying to wind down the clock so I sent a message to Archie Knox on the bench to take off the attacking player furthest from the tunnel. Dicky was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was only taken off to waste time.”

Brown also had words of comfort for City’s other Scottish international Paul Ritchie, who is out injured with a groin problem. “Paul is a very solid marker in the centre of defence. He has got great determination and is a tough character with great ability so I expect him to battle his way back.”

… And Andrei for Russia (or Should That be Ukraine?)

Andrei Kanchelskis has pleaded for an international recall to the Russian side, seven years after vowing his international career was over. He had a major fall-out with the Russian football federation in 1994 and missed out on playing in the World Cup Finals that year in the USA. However, seven years on, Kanchelskis has pleaded with the current Russian coach Oleg Romantsev to be considered for an international re-call.

Ready, Steady Cooke

According to, Terry Cooke is set to return to full squad training next week with, he says, a reminder for the boss that he has never been away. Two loan spells at Sheffield Wednesday and exile to the reserves has not shaken his resolve. He had won the plaudits from Joe for his performances in the reserves recently before being sidelined two weeks ago.

“I felt I had been playing really well after coming back from Sheffield Wednesday. Against Leeds last month I played in the centre of midfield and really enjoyed it. I then returned to my usual position. It doesn’t matter to me where I play on the park as long as the gaffer gives me a chance. It is time I got back and got involved in the side again.”

With two weeks to go to transfer deadline day Terry is not thinking of a permanent move away from Maine Road or another loan spell. He is adamant he wants to stay at City.

“I want to stay here and help the lads if they need me. I will be ready if I am called on. It has been a strange season. I thought I might have a chance of getting back into contention when I returned from Sheffield Wednesday as the team was not doing well. It has been difficult at times to remain mentally strong and keep positive. It feels as if it has been a wasted year. When I was at Manchester United I was out for a year with an injury, but at least I had an excuse for not playing then.”

Terry’s last appearance for the Blues was back in November 1999 when he came off the bench in the second half in the defeat by Huddersfield Town. Having played no further part in the promotion season he slapped in a transfer request, which the club accepted.

“I don’t dwell on, “what ifs”. Sheffield Wednesday were interested but couldn’t afford the transfer. But I have never wanted to leave this club. The only reason I put myself on the transfer list last season was because I wanted regular first team football. When I was at United I was brought up to play football. I love playing the game and I want to play as much as I can. I am getting to the age when I need to be playing regularly and in my career at the moment I haven’t really done that. I want to help the lads get out of this relegation scrap and when pre season comes along I will be fit and strong again and ready again.”

Paulo Saved From the Chop?

Paulo’s apparently within two weeks of a comeback and may well get the call to help City avoid relegation from the Premiership, after being dropped and placed on the transfer list after his flash of temper when he was substituted in the Coventry cup tie in January. The prospects of Wanchope getting back in the team looked bleak at that stage and his subsequent injury and operation wrecked his chances of a move before the transfer deadline. However, with City desperate for points, there could be a chance that Royle will bury the hatchet with the club’s record signing in a desperate attempt to get the necessary wins in the last nine games of the season.

Eastlands Update

News that David Beckham could make it to Eastlands before any City player won’t go down well in many quarters. Organisers of the Commonwealth Games want the England captain to carry the baton into the stadium at the opening of the Commonwealth Games next summer. Soccer is not included in the Games but organisers claim a high profile personality will help sell the event on an international scale. Someone will be asking Alex Ferguson to stand for Mayor of Manchester next!

Meanwhile, it has been announced that two new sponsorship deals have been agreed for the Games, one with a computer related company. Income from TV and sponsorship has now reached £30 million with another £32 million needed to meet the total cost of £211 million. The capital costs, including building the stadium, have already been covered.

Meanwhile, Manchester City Council have now given official approval for the £90 million glass and steel building next to the main stadium. City will be creating a superstore selling football merchandise, a sports cafe bar and a heritage museum with the concept shortly to be displayed to supporters.

Arsenal Game in Doubt

City’s Easter Monday Premiership clash with Arsenal at Maine Road is still in the balance after the Gunners’ win in Europe last night. Thierry Henry’s late header was enough to give Arsenal all the points against Spartak Moscow at Highbury last night to take the Gunners into second place in their Champions’ League group. If Lyon fail to win in Moscow next Wednesday, then the Gunners are through to the quarter-final stages of the competition regardless of how they get on away to Bayern Munich the same night. All of which means that City’s Premiership clash against Arsene Wenger’s side on Monday, April 16 would have to be re-arranged as Arsenal would play the second leg of their quarter-final the same week, meaning that there will be no definite decision on whether the Maine Road game is off or not until next Wednesday evening, depending upon whether or not the Gunners progress.

Bishop on the Move

Speaking on the official club website as he prepares for a new life in Florida, “It’s a great opportunity,” said Ian as he shared his memories of his two stints as a City playmaker. “I am relishing the challenge ahead of me. I could have stayed in England with a First Division club and the money would have been better, but that is not the point. I have played in that Division before and I don’t feel like going back.”

After seventeen League and Cup appearances this season including a goal against Wimbledon in the Worthington Cup fourth round, in his two spells with the club he topped the hundred mark in appearances with one of his eight goals providing him with a memory which will never fade.

“The 5-1 win over United in ’89 ranks as my greatest memory of my two spells here. I scored with a header but to be honest it didn’t matter how I scored. I will never forget that.”

But shortly after that memorable Maine Road day the midfielder was on his way South to West Ham and after a nine-year spell with the Hammers returned to City as they fought to escape from Division 2.

“People say you should never go back. I am proof that is not true. I returned to Maine Road to help City back to the Premiership and I feel proud that, as I look back to the last two years, I have helped the club to do that. There is a unique spirit at City and despite my years at West Ham there was not the same affinity in the dressing room.”

“I have enjoyed passing on advice to the younger players in the last two years and it will give me a lot of satisfaction to see the players developing into Premier League footballers.”

Bish should be in the States by the time you read this with his wife and family joining him at Easter. He is still undecided if he will stay on in Miami when the season comes to a close in September and has not ruled out going to another club in England. Whatever the decision, he will be dropping into to Maine Road whenever he can. First though there is the football with Miami Fusion to occupy his mind.

“I have no idea what the football will be like. The boss at Miami Fusion has told me it will suit me down to the ground as the pace is a little slower there. He has told me he expects a lot from me and I responded by saying I will deliver for him.”

Long term, Ian is already thinking of a career coaching young players in the States and will apply for his green card. Much will depend on how his family settle across the pond. Ian’s brother took up a job in the States ten years ago and has not been back since, so perhaps there is something in the family!

“I have a funny feeling I am going to enjoy myself. I think it will provide my kids a great opportunity. But much will depend on how the family settle. My football has never just been about me. Once you have a family you have other people to consider and I would like to think I am doing the best for them.”

Rösler’s Return?

Uwe Rösler scored sixty four goals in a hundred and seventy seven games for City before he left Maine Road three years ago – did he jump or was he was pushed? – but Der Bomber says that is all behind him now and he wants to return to the club again.

“I would love to work for the club one day,” he declared while enjoying a weekend back with friends in Manchester. “I love this club and maybe one day I could help them to uncover talent in Germany. I haven’t spoken about the idea before, but one day I would like to help the club. Put it this way, City gave me a wonderful time and hopefully one day I can repay them.”

The striker, who joined Southampton from TB Berlin last summer has been hampered with injuries, was given a warm reception from the City fans when he came off the bench in the first half last Saturday.

“I knew the fans appreciated my time with the club so it was great to come home and get a such a warm welcome. I always say that it was one of the best times in my career playing for City. The fans know how I feel, I have shown them over the years and hopefully, as I say, one day I can work for the club.”

That’s for the future, but at the moment Uwe Rösler says that City’s plight in the drop zone is always on his mind.

“It would hurt me to see this club relegated. It is great to see them back in the Premiership and they have achieved a lot over the years. When City came to the Dell in October they played really well and I never expected them be where they are. City have got good players and I really hope they stay up.”

Uwe recalled one of the best days when he joined the City fans for the play-off final at Wembley against Gillingham.

“That was one of the nicest days I experienced since I came to City. To see fifty thousand people so happy at the end of the game was just unbelievable. Everything started from there, the club has done so well and I am hoping now that they will stay in the Premiership.”

Geoff Donkin (


I’ve had some stick in some quarters for not being a ‘proper Blue’ and not going to enough games, but given that I’ve just attended my fourth successive one-nil league defeat, perhaps I ought not to go again this season? Our branch chairman’s pre-match concerns turned out to be horribly on target – a let down after the relative euphoria after the Newcastle game.

Not the best of views from row 2 of GG in the lower Kippax, at least not of events at the North Stand end towards which we were playing in the first half. I think it’s no exaggeration to say Nicky Weaver never had a goal kick to take, never mind a save to make in the first half, but it just wouldn’t go in at the other end. The re-runs I saw on MotD made the chances we had look better than they appeared from our low perspective (could be my eyesight of course). Southampton though were coming into it more as the half wore on, so in a sense it was no surprise that they started the second half more purposefully so we still didn’t see enough of the game going on in front of us.

The longer we went without breaking the deadlock, the more you felt the fates were going to conspire against us, and so it was. Dan Petrescu was involved at both ends of the pitch, scoring with a well taken volley from a throw in that should arguably not have happened had we not been messing about down in front of the old Gene Kelly and then later escaping giving away a penalty that even his manager reckoned should have been given. He claimed later on TV that he didn’t really recall what happened other than that he was trying to control it and keep his hands out of the way, but I’ve seen them given for less. Arguably the linesman should have spotted it as he had a better view than the referee. An unorthodox long range one-two from a corner between Danny T and Shaun (OK, the latter miskicked when trying to shoot) and a scrum on the penalty spot when the ball just wouldn’t break free to a Blue shirt were all that were left to lighten the proceedings. The game stuttered to a close and we’d let yet another opportunity to make up ground slip through our fingers.

Player assessments:

Weaver – Very little to do yet still had to pick the ball out of the net more often than his opposite number. No chance with the shot that beat him.
Haaland – Disappointing. In fact, from what I’ve seen of him this season he’s one of the transfer market let downs. Never seen to rally the troops à la Morrison; not sure of his best position; might not get back in the team after suspension if Charvet takes his chance.
Granville – Didn’t see much of him at our side of the pitch.
Howey/Dunne – Good central defensive performance… again.
Tiatto – Less involved than of late. Great rasping drive just before half time that deserved a goal.
Wiekens/Grant – So so. Gerard had an unintentional goal-bound effort well saved late. Grant didn’t impose himself on the game for me.
Kanchelskis – Must have been so frustrating for him to be in the blocks waiting for the ball to run on to and then have it go left so much of the time.
Huckerby – Surprised he was taken off – I wasn’t alone!
Goater – Never won a header against Richards and Lundekvam all afternoon, but was up and down the pitch. Great bloke, but I think he has reached his limits.

Must get most of the points from the next three games as I don’t fancy our run in. Still, City being City, who knows…

BTW Nice but expensive chicken balti pie.

Geoff Donkin (


I feel I have to write a ‘match’ report after Saturday if only to get it off my chest.

I have been toying with the idea of taking my 4 1/2 year old son to his first game for a while and as his older brother’s first game was at the same age, I thought I would go for it. But I should have cast my mind back those two years to remember which game it had been – Wycombe Wanders 1-2 at home – and maybe I’d have thought twice.

When you get up on a Saturday morning, the sun is shining, the car you’ve borrowed for the weekend is sitting there waiting for the 320 mile round trip to begin and you’ve made up enough food to last an army for a week – what could possibly go wrong with the perfect day out for a father and his two sons?

Got to Fallowfield chippy in plenty of time for the obligatory Holland’s meat and potatoe pie and chips, then a raid on the club shop for some shorts and socks for the boys to show off to their mates at football training on Sunday morning after having demolished Southampton in our best home performance for years. How wrong I was!

The game – well they set out their stall from the start by playing 4-5-1, which we never really came to terms with. I can quite honestly say that our midfield never won a second ball, a knockdown or a loose ball. Their midfield were a tight, compact unit whereas ours, for all the endeavour, were always chasing shadows. I watched Match Of the Day and thought that maybe we weren’t that bad after all, because we had 6 to 10 half chances that brought good saves out of Jones or misses from us and they had the goal from Pet Rescue and a diving header from Uwe into the side netting. But we really were that bad. The tactics of the last 25 minutes saw us launch long balls towards the Goat which merely added to the number of headers he had lost all afternoon – not his fault as Richards and Co were simply better in the air.

Our tactics, and I use the word reluctantly, were naïve in the extreme. The game was gradually getting away from us even at 0-0 and we needed to win this one. Not once did we see Kanchelskis and Huckerby swap wings or revert to three at the back to give the midfield a hand. OK so we should have had a penalty but we can’t rely on that to save us can we?

Hoddle quite clearly out-thought Joe on Saturday by restricting our width and I just hope that our survival does not depend on tactical awareness as the season closes. Last week I rose my level of optimism, this week it was back down again and preparing for the worst. I just hope they can surprise me again on this never ending roller-coaster ride.

One thing that did make me laugh though (and there weren’t many on Saturday) was with just 10 minutes to go my 4 year old shouts out as loud as can be: “When are we going dad?” and the bloke in front turns round to him and explains that he’s got another 50 years of this to come. He’s one of us now.

Keep the faith and pass it on to your kids – you know it makes sense.

Alan Frost (


The next meeting of the Reddish branch of the Centenary Supporters’ Association will be on Wednesday 14th March at The Ash Hotel, Manchester Road, Stockport starting at 8.00pm when our guests will be Chris Bird and Shaun Goater, who will be collecting his branch Player of the Year award for last season. Admission is just £1 for CSA Members (juniors free) and £2 for non-members and for that you get a free raffle and a hot pot supper. As usual all Blues are welcome. Further details from Secretary Howard Burr on 0161 292 2525 or e-mail at the address below.

Howard Burr (


I’ve just seen the details on MCIVTA concerning John Charles Ditchfield and feel a little disappointed to say the least with the mention I have received by Keith Price. I spent considerable time researching Ditchfield’s career and details and offered lots of other help. If this is regarded as little response then I’m sorry. I accept that I have not sent a copy of the photo to Mr. Price but, as I said in my original email, the photo is not a good one anyway. That hasn’t stopped me looking for a better version though! As I have always taken time and trouble to help anybody with a query, I am a little upset with the message from Mr. Price.

Incidentally I know Mr. Price said “We would dearly like to obtain a copy of this photo as we have no other, however as our interest in the club is only for this reason we feel to purchase it would be extravagant” but I’d like to point out that the time and effort I spent in looking for further details on JC Ditchfield was worth considerably more than the £24.95 my book cost! I will not now be going out of my way to help find out more details.

Gary James (


Just a few notes on Dino Toppmöller: he is the son of prominent German manager Klaus Toppmöller, who used to be a German international in the 1970’s. But unlike his father, Dino is not a typical goalscorer. He plays in midfield, as you know, and made his biggest impressions until now for 1.FC Saarbrücken in the second half of 2000. Saarbrücken was promoted to Germany