Newsletter #699

Barring a miracle and irrespective of the result at the Riverside tonight (0-0 as we go to press), we’ve not got long to wait now until it’s over. Tonight’s issue – a bit of a whopper but you’ll have to supply your own fries – is full of the frustration that games like the one at Everton bring spilling forth from even the most long suffering of Blues. Having inwardly steeled myself for disappointment for almost every remaining game, I now find myself watching with interest the events in the other divisions, hoping Grimsby can stay up and Rotherham get up to give me a couple of local away games for next season in Division 1. I just hope we salvage some pride from the remaining games and avoid giving the Rags the opportunity to nail down the coffin lid.

We’ve got a fair bit of input from the Everton game, a piece on the launch of ‘Atkinson for England’, another detailed counter argument in reply to Ernie Whalley, lots of ‘from the heart’ opinion on the squad, prospects, etc., and a few ‘wanteds’ to round things off.

You’ll be pleased to know we’ve secured the services of a willing volunteer to take over the news editor rôle from Pete. Michael Leafield, 27 years a Blue, living in the Greater Manchester area but a relatively recent subscriber to McVittee will be taking on the job of putting a positive gloss on the news (and in his spare time will be attempting to get butter up a ferret’s posterior with a hot needle!) but not until the end of the season. Pete’s obviously not given up on going out on a high note 🙂

On a personal note, I just want to say for the benefit of Casey and the regulars in the Talk City chat room (and Blue View for that matter) that I’ve not abandoned them. I’ve been pretty busy on the home and work front of late and haven’t managed to be in the room for games. Maybe I ought to get back in there since I think I last joined them for the Newcastle game!

Join me for the septuacentennial edition on Thursday.

Next game: Arsenal at home, Wednesday 11th April 2001


Part I – Everton Away: Result and Reaction

Defeat Pushes City Closer to Brink: Manchester City are staring relegation in the face after a defeat at Everton on Sunday. For the second successive game, the Blues took the lead only to finish on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline. City were given the perfect start when Jeff Whitley headed home after only nine minutes, but seven minutes later, Duncan Ferguson was afforded time and space in the box to convert after the Blues failed to clear Niclas Alexandersson’s cross. The home side then went in front, slightly against the run of play, five minutes before the break. Nicky Weaver brought down Kevin Campbell in the penalty area and though the City goalkeeper saved Michael Ball’s spot kick, the full-back followed up to net from the rebound. After a scrappy second half, David Weir rounded off the scoring six minutes from the end of the game, though again the goal resulted from a Weaver error, the 22-year-old allowing a weak header to slip through his grasp. And there was more disappointment for the Blues when Paul Dickov was sent off together with Everton’s Alessandro Pistone after both players clashed in the closing stages. The result leaves City in 19th place, three points behind third-from-bottom Coventry after Gordon Strachan’s men won at Leicester on Saturday. Middlesbrough, who play Sunderland on Monday evening, are a further point ahead of the Midlanders.

Royle Backing Weaver After Another Error: Nicky Weaver has been criticised in recent weeks following a number of high-profile errors. And after another indifferent afternoon for the Manchester City goalkeeper on Sunday, Joe Royle has again leapt to the defence of the England under-21 man. Weaver made some fine saves against Everton at Goodison Park but also conceded a penalty and was badly at fault for the Toffees’ third goal in the 3-1 defeat. But Royle continues to stand by the former Mansfield junior. “Nicky has done very well, and was a contender for our man-of-the-match today,” claimed the City boss. “I was more concerned about the free header than the bounce that led to the goal. I will stick by him because he is an excellent ‘keeper and he will play for England one day.” There are nevertheless rumours that Carlo Nash will replace Weaver for Wednesday’s home game against Arsenal.

Weaver Still Believes In His Own Ability: A week after his blunder against Aston Villa, Nicky Weaver was again in the spotlight after a couple of unhappy incidents in the game at Everton. But the Manchester City goalkeeper says he still believes in himself. Some fans have called for Weaver to be taken out of the firing line after his recent errors, and Sunday’s events have intensified the spotlight on the young goalkeeper. But the 22-year-old says he nevertheless wants to play a part in the battle to avoid relegation. “I still have faith in my ability,” he insisted. “But when you make mistakes, you have to live with them. The manager has backed me so far and, as long as he continues to pick me, I’ll be happy. This hasn’t dented my confidence and I hope to stay in the team to help us fight relegation.”

Royle – Goodison Defeat Sums Up Our Season: Joe Royle’s hopes of celebrating his 52nd birthday with a win on his return to Everton were dashed on Sunday. And the Manchester City manager felt his side’s demise at Goodison was a result of familiar failings. Royle saw City take the lead and produce a promising first-half display against the Toffees. But the Maine Road men were only ahead for seven minutes and despite the promising performance in the opening period, contrived to go in behind at the break. And that left the Blues’ boss exasperated at his side’s continuing ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. “It was symptomatic of our whole season,” he lamented. “We started well, passed it well and made chances, but we keep shooting ourselves in the foot.”

Smith Relieved to Earn Three Vital Points: Everton moved eight points clear of the relegation zone after beating Manchester City on Sunday. But manager Walter Smith was relieved to claim all three points after a first half in which the visitors were the better side for significant periods. Smith refused to acknowledge after the game that his side are now safe from relegation – even though the Toffees appear to have a sufficient gap between themselves and the bottom three to banish fears of the drop. But the ex-Rangers boss did concede that his side had been lucky to lead at the break. “We played poorly in the first half,” he reflected, “but you have to give City credit. They put us under pressure, and were the better side. In the second half, we improved and forced Weaver into some good saves.”

Part II – Transfer News and Rumours

City Watching Stockport Youngster?: Manchester City are being linked with a summer move for a promising young defender. The Blues are said to be eyeing Robert Clare of Stockport County. Clare, who celebrated his 18th birthday less than two months ago, has made a big impression at Edgeley Park after being handed a senior début against West Bromwich Albion in September. The youngster has featured since then in another 18 first-team matches and has reportedly been tipped for great things by a number of good judges.

Kanchelskis to Stay Until End of Season: Andrei Kanchelskis arrived at Manchester City towards the end of January on an initial three-month loan. But the arrangement has been extended until the end of the season. Kanchelskis signed from Glasgow Rangers with a view to a permanent move to Maine Road, but with the Blues’ Premiership survival prospects now looking remote, the chances of the 32-year-old still being at Maine Road next term seem slim. But City have nonetheless moved to ensure that the one-time Manchester United player will be available for all of the games in this season’s run-in.

Part III – Miscellaneous News and Views

Wright-Phillips Out For the Season: Shaun Wright-Phillips is unlikely to play again for Manchester City this season. The youngster damaged medial ligaments in his knee in last week’s reserve game against Bury. Wright-Phillips was stretchered off during the Manchester Senior Cup victory over the Shakers, and having consulted a specialist, has been told he will be absent for at least four weeks. And as a result, the promising youngster must now focus on being fit in time to try to stake a claim for a senior place next term by impressing in pre-season friendlies.

Shuker Notches First Senior Goal: Chris Shuker made a big impression during the first couple of weeks of his time on loan at Macclesfield Town. And the Manchester City winger is continuing his successful spell with the Cheshire club. Shuker scored his first senior goal on Saturday to cap a fine personal display as the Silkmen beat Kidderminster 1-0. And Macclesfield boss Gil Prescott continues to be delighted with the 18-year-old’s form. “He’s a very good player,” enthused Prescott, “as he has something that other wingers don’t have. He grafts, listens well and can get stuck in when it’s needed. It’s great he got his first goal for us and I’m well pleased.”

Dickov Faces Another Ban: Paul Dickov is likely to be available for only one of Manchester City’s remaining games. The striker is about to serve a two-match ban – and will then serve another suspension after his sending off at Everton on Sunday. Dickov has been booked ten times at senior and reserve level this season, meaning that he must sit out this week’s games against Arsenal and Leicester. And the Scot’s red card at Goodison will mean a three-match ban starting when West Ham visit Maine Road on April 28 and covering the two only games remaining thereafter. So the only match for which the 28-year-old will be available this term is the visit to Old Trafford a week on Saturday.

Part IV – Reserve Team News

Young Side Set to Face Latics: Manchester City’s reserve game at Oldham on Monday evening was reportedly at risk from the weather after heavy weekend rain. But the match will go ahead – and the Blues are expected to field a young side at Boundary Park. Kevin Horlock is set to be the only member of the senior squad in action, with the Northern Ireland man still attempting to battle his way back to full match fitness after a lengthy absence with a broken ankle. Meanwhile, Richard McKinney rather than Carlo Nash will play in goal for the Blues, with some fans speculating that such a move could signal Joe Royle’s intention to hand the ex-Stockport man a first-team début in place of under-fire Nicky Weaver against Arsenal on Wednesday. The game against the Latics is City’s last in the group stage of this season’s Manchester Senior Cup, though the Blues should seal qualification to meet Manchester United in the final of the tournament.

Part V – Arsenal at Home: Team News and Preview

Uncertainty Over Strike Pair for Arsenal Game: Joe Royle fielded a new strike partnership when Manchester City visited Everton on Sunday. But the Blues’ boss will have to deploy a different combination for Wednesday’s home clash with Arsenal. City were without Shaun Goater for the trip to Goodison, meaning that Paulo Wanchope was drafted in to lead the line against the Toffees. But with the Costa Rican still not fully match fit, Goater is set to start against Arsene Wenger’s men if he has recovered from his slight groin strain. Wanchope was partnered by Paul Dickov on Sunday, but with the Scot now suspended, Royle will choose between Egil Ostenstad and Darren Huckerby for the remaining place up front. There are no new injury problems arising from the Everton game, although it’s not yet clear whether the City manager will shuffle his pack in a bid to find a winning formula. In particular, many observers will be keen to see who lines up in the Blues’ goal.

City Look to Avenge October Thrashing: Manchester City were in the top half of the Premiership table when they went to Arsenal at the end of October. But after the Blues were thrashed 5-0 when in relatively good form, few will give Joe Royle’s men much chance of pulling off a shock when the Gunners visit Maine Road on Wednesday. Arsenal are in the middle of a busy fixture programme; Arsene Wenger’s men have fulfilled in the last week European Champions’ League and FA Cup semi-final engagements against Valencia and Spurs respectively, and next week face the Spaniards again in the second leg of the Champions’ League quarter final. And given the contrasting current form of the two sides, City’s best hope appears to be that the Londoners are distracted by the more apparently testing games either side of the match against the Blues.

Peter Brophy


April 8th, 1949 was Joe Royle’s birthday. No happy returns to Everton yesterday. But when he was blowing out six candles on his birthday cake he might have heard of Bobby Johnstone scoring his first goal for City in a 4-0 win over West Brom, and when Joe was nine years old Alan Oakes signed for City. More in tune with current trends, City’s 1-0 win over Burnley in Division One in 1950 was their first in fourteen games since Christmas Eve, and on this day in 1996 there was a dire 3-0 defeat by Wimbledon at Selhurst Park. City were relegated at the end of each season.

April 9th: Brian Kidd scored at Anfield, City lost 2-1 but finished second in the league in 1977. In 1993 Kåre Ingebrigtsen played his first full 90 minutes for City, a 1-1 draw at Bramall Lane secured by an own goal from a Sheffield player.

April 10th: Paul Dickov got a hat-trick as City beat Lincoln 4-0 in 1999. On this day in 1954 Joe Mercer broke his leg playing for Arsenal at Highbury, the injury that ended his playing career. He went on to manage Aston Villa before coming to City; interviewed when he was out of work after leaving Villa and before he took the Maine Road job he said that “I would like to join a club that is above all happy, a club that isn’t frightened… I would not like to join a club that is frightened.” Wonder if he’d take the job on now?

April 11th: A free-kick rolled sideways and Paul Power’s stunning shot in extra time against Ipswich took City to Wembley in 1981. Behind the goal where Power scored the City and Ipswich fans stood in two distinct sections, one half in silence and one erupting in delirious celebrations as the shot went in. In 1998 City led twice at Molyneux but had to settle for a 2-2 draw in an unsuccessful fight against relegation from the Nationwide First Division. Jamie Pollock scored a brilliant solo goal, running through half the Wolves defence and shooting in from a narrow angle, but Martyn Margetson dropped the ball at the feet of a Wolves forward to make it 1-1. Kevin Horlock put City 2-1 up before the referee (Mark Halsey!) gave them a dubious free kick near the end and Paul Simpson made it two apiece (Pollock would score again during that relegation fight, but unfortunately not in the opposition’s goal).

April 12th: Glyn Pardoe, not yet sixteen, played his first game, at home to Birmingham in 1962. Colin Bell scored his first and only hat-trick for City in the 3-1 win over Stoke in 1967. Neil Young’s classy goal was the only one of the game at home to Sunderland in 1969. Francis Lee (twice) and Rodney Marsh gave City a 3-1 win at Old Trafford in 1972. And in 1974 Lee scored his last goal for City in a 1-1 draw at home to Liverpool.

April 13th: a curious opinion poll appeared in 4-4-2 Magazine in 1995. Listing the “100 Best Players of All Time”, the highest-ranked City player was Stan Bowles at number 51. Bert Trautmann was at 84. Some idea of the poll’s value may be seen from the fact that Denis Law was at 67 just above Mickey Droy (!) at 68.

April 14th: Nicky Summerbee and Maurizio Gaudino scored for City in the 2-1 victory over Liverpool in the Premiership in 1995. Nigel Clough was in red. Before the game there was to be a minute’s silence to mark the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, but no one could have told Uwe Rösler – the teams walked out of the tunnel side by side, all very dignified and proper, whereupon Uwe broke into his usual sprint waving to greet the Kippax and then had to beat an embarrassed retreat to line up in silence with the rest.

April 15th: more German doings on this date. Playing at Sunderland in 1950 Bert Trautmann saved a penalty but the referee said that he had moved and ordered the kick to be re-taken. Bert was so upset that he booted the ball into the crowd before saving the second attempt (Bert quite often “lost it” like that; against Wolves around this date in 1961 he let in a weak shot by Wolves’ Ted Farmer who sarcastically clapped him for it, before Bert returned the clap, hard around Farmer’s face). On Wednesday evening April 15, 1964 Maine Road witnessed Trautmann’s testimonial match, a joint City-United Manchester team (something quite unthinkable now, for all kinds of reasons) against an International XI. The story is quite well known of how in the last minutes of the match a few boys came over the old white wall around the pitch to surround Trautmann in his goal, followed by more and more of the crowd so that play became impossible and the ref brought the game to a premature end. April 15th 1970: City beat FC Schalke 04 at Maine Road by 5-1 (5-2 on aggregate) to go through to the European Cup Winners’ Cup Final. And Neil Young scored twice.

Finally, this week in 1945 Frank Swift played in the last wartime international match, England vs. Scotland. After a minute’s silence to mark the death of Franklin Roosevelt the game kicked off and Scotland & Hibernians’ inside-right Tommy Brogan immediately ran into Swift in the goalmouth. The collision knocked him out and he was carried off unconscious in Swift’s arms, probably the shortest ever (40 seconds) international appearance. Swift later saved a Matt Busby penalty.

Thinking of this coming Wednesday, City have once beaten Arsenal in this week of April, 2-0 at Maine Road. That was in 1937.

Happy Easter, Ken Corfield (


This is the first match report I’ve done for quite some time; a lack of time/motivation and @rsing about far too much on Blue View restricting my output! However, this game really just sums up our season, so I can almost kill 2 birds with one stone.

Some truly excellent play, some truly awful play, missed chances, last ditch defending, poor defending, great saves, comedy goal keeping, questionable tactics, cr@p refereeing. Oh and a defeat. This match had it all!

The team/bench was pretty adventurous and you have to give JR credit for going to Goodison with a ‘go for it’ attitude. Weaver remained in goal, with Haaland replacing Charvet at right back, Howey returning for the deeply disappointing Prior, Granville and Dunne retaining their places in the back four. Kanchelskis remained on the right, with Wiekens, Whitley and Tiatto playing in central midfield. Dickov started wide left, supporting believe it or not, the recalled Paulo Wanchope up front. The attack-minded bench included Nash, Charvet, Kennedy, Ostenstad and Huckerby. Goater, we later heard, was missing due to a training injury.

The first 15 minutes saw City play as well as they have at any point this season. Kanchelskis fizzed a shot just wide of the post in the first minute, Dickov had a passable opportunity minutes later. From an attacking viewpoint we looked anything but a bottom 3 side. Wanchope looked ‘up for it’, held up the ball pretty well and even passed it now and again. Tiatto and Whitley bombed forward to support the attack and Everton looked shocked by our approach. Nevertheless, we were leaving gaps at the back, with Duncan Ferguson (when not on his backside, inevitably winning another unjustified free kick) and Scott Gemmill both having decent opportunities to score. From the former player, Weaver made the first of 3 or 4 high quality saves.

We scored on 9 minutes, when following a foul on Kanchelskis, Tiatto swung in the perfect cross, for Jeff Whitley to rise like a salmon (ages since I’ve said that!) and plant an unstoppable header past Gerrard. 1-0 to us and totally deserved. Still we continued to play well, although a better team than Everton would have surely caught us on the break. On 16 minutes they indeed scored, Ferguson toe-poking a tame shot from 4 yards out following a cross from our right that was simply not dealt with. However, the players and fans (who were in great voice, with plenty of gallows humour returning I’m glad to report) just rolled up their sleeves and got on with it. Dickov should have scored following a mess in the Everton defence, but instead of lifting the ball over the stranded Gerrard, he fired his shot into his body and the chance was gone.

Everton had come into the game more, but as half time approached City were clearly the better side and deserved a lead. However, a long ball from Everton caught everyone by surprise including Kevin Campbell, but as we stopped and looked at the linesman, he ran into the box, going wide, but Weaver brought him down. Yellow card for Weaver and a penalty to Everton. A goalkeeping gaffe? Not sure to be honest. Michael Ball took the spot kick which Weaver beat out for his first penalty stop since Wembley ’99. However, frustratingly, our players clearly didn’t expect Weaver to save and simply stood still on the 18 yard line whilst Ball (and another Everton player) raced for the rebound. Ball got there first and we’re 2-1 down just before half time. Just like last week.

Just like last week Kennedy was introduced in place of Danny Granville and just last week, although pleased to see Kennedy get on, I had concerns that if Tiatto moved to left back we’d lose it in midfield. Kennedy’s first contribution was to send over a tantalising cross which Whitley misdirected. Frankly that was just about it for City from an attacking viewpoint. Something had changed in the 15 minutes since the end of the first half. It could have been that JR had advised them that at one goal down we didn’t need to be gung-ho, just be patient and try and hit Everton on the break. It could be that although Danny T was playing a seemingly ‘very flexible’ left back rôle (he was everywhere!), we did indeed lose the midfield impetus we had in the first half. It could be that Everton simply played better. Sadly, it could also be that the players (or many of them) simply gave up.

The attacking thrust of the first half had gone. Where before most passes went forward and were purposeful, with players running intelligently off the ball, now passes went astray, backwards, side ways, back to the ‘keeper. In fact almost anywhere except near Everton’s penalty area. Everton from an attacking viewpoint weren’t much better, but Steve Watson did spring our ‘offside trap’, going one on one with Weaver who saved well. At some point Huckerby came on for Kanchelskis but didn’t do anything of any note.

On 84 minutes, following another excellent save from Weaver, David Weir headed weakly towards goal from a corner. Heartbreakingly, Weaver expected the ball to bounce up, it didn’t and it trickled through his legs across the goal line. Shades of Taibi’s error against Southampton last season.

Although David Ellery had been over fussy as usual and I swear, giving a free kick to Everton every time anyone looked at Ferguson in the first half, he still had time to make his own gaffe and at the same time assist our swift exit from this division. Dickov, being Dickov, slid in on Pistone when there was no real benefit in doing so. It was a late tackle, but probably looked worse in part due to the conditions. It was certainly worth a booking. However, Pistone, right in front of Ellery, decided to take the law into his own hands and appeared to knee Dickov in the gut. Instant red card for the naughty Italian. However, amazingly Ellery also brandished the same colour card at Dickov, resulting in a further 3 match ban on top of the 2 match suspension he starts on Wednesday. In my opinion, Ellery bottled it and if Pistone hadn’t have reacted, Dickov would have simply been booked. Obviously it didn’t change the result, and we are down, but bearing in mind Dickov’s penchant for scoring goals in the spring, we may have been robbed of cheering the odd goal or two at least.

As I said, this match summed up our season in many ways and ultimately like so many times this season, we just weren’t good enough over 90 minutes. I’m afraid that poor Nicky does need a rest. I’ve not lost faith in him long-term, but he is in a rut where everything he touches turns to sh*t. He pulled off some marvellous saves today, but equally he gave away a penalty and added another soft goal to his collection this season. It might seem harsh, but Nicky has personally cost us at least 8 or 9 points this season, which obviously means he has made a significant contribution to our inevitable relegation. Give Carlo a chance, if nothing else it at least bloods him and allows Nicky to get his game back together outside of the spotlight. Alfie Haaland looked better at right back, and to be honest he probably gets a bit more stick than is entirely justified. He played OK today. Not cr*p, not good, just OK, which still isn’t good enough. What is also patently obvious is that he is no leader. The Dickov incident is a good example. Following Pistone’s retaliation, Howey and Whitley (and others) rushed to their team mate’s defence. When Dickov was shown the red card the same 2 players, particularly Howey, seemed to be putting their points of view over to the referee in a forceful but restrained manner. Haaland’s absence from both these incidents was sadly obvious.

Our midfield in the first half played quite well, and Jeff Whitley in particular seems to have improved again over the last couple of weeks. However, it’s the same old story that we have needed a ‘young Bish’ (in fact I’d probably have settled for the old one over the past 3 months) all season. Even in Division One, we still need that playmaker. Perhaps Toppmöller or one of the kids can fill that rôle? Here’s hoping. Kanchelskis has flattered to deceive. To be fair he does work quite hard and he does give us balance out there on the right, and certainly I’d rather have him out wide than say Whitley. However, other than his goal against Liverpool and the pass for Goater at Newcastle, I can’t recall him being instrumental in anything else that has resulted in a goal. Perhaps we should try Huckerby there now that SWP is out for the season? Paulo did OK seeing it was his first full game for nearly 3 months. He does possess that bit of class that none of our other forwards have and his attitude seemed to be pretty good too. No real chances to score, but did enough to stay in the team, I think.

I would love to know what happened after the end of the first half, because the performance in the second was like that of a different team. Was it JR’s tactics, or was it the players’ hearts? Final word on JR; in my opinion he must stay. He’s made plenty of mistakes this season and there are question marks over his ability to consistently buy quality players, his ability to manage ‘quality’ players and his ability to manage a Premiership team. However, there are no question marks about his ability to manage a 1st Division team, so those Blues who are calling for his head are, in my opinion of course, very short-sighted.


Phil Hartley (


After Saturday’s deluge, Sunday dawned bright and sunny for Uncle Joe’s birthday. The Denton lot made an early start for Merseyside, stopping off at The Vic in Rainhill for a late breakfast. Things started to go downhill from here. The food was dreadful: the locals interpreting toast for soggy fried bread and eggs more suited to play frisbee with. Rainhill is obviously closed on Sundays, or else they’d all gone on a day trip to Villa Park (or were visiting the Scousers who had gone on a day trip to Villa Park). We got back to the car park at 2pm for the coach to take us to the ground to discover… no coach. 15 of us stranded in bl**dy Rainhill with no coats, two with no tickets, no train and no buses. I managed to hijack an Everton minibus who kindly took some of our party and the rest hopped into hastily arranged taxis. Fortunately we had a jolly nice Everton s/t holding driver who took us right to the ground for the price of a drink.

We lined up: Weaver, Haaland, Granville, Dunne, Howey, Tiatto, Whitley, Wiekens, Dickov, Wanchope and Kank. On the bench Kennedy, Huckerby, Ostenstad, Nash and Charvet. The Blue army were in fine voice and one of the stewards in front of us (Number 171) looked increasingly nervous at such a vociferous and fervent crowd – maybe he should keep the coat and become a lollipop man instead? Stuck on row 4, we ended standing up for the whole game – despite pathetic pleas over the tannoy to sit down. Tough luck mate, we’d not paid £25 to get a field of vision of 15 yards in the driving rain, so stand up we did and just about made out the action at the other end of the pitch.

City started well and for the first half were definitely the better side. Kank fired a shot in within the first minute, Wanchope looked eager for a change, combining well with Whitley and Tiatto and Dunne was obviously ‘up for it’. Kank won a free kick on about 10 minutes out on the right which Tiatto played into the box for little Whitley to leap up from nowhere and bang it in the net. His first goal this season and he dashed over to the faithful to celebrate before being mobbed by his team-mates. There was plenty of action down at the other end witnessed on the big screens and 5 minutes later Ferguson managed to equalise. He proved a bit of a pain actually and we just couldn’t contain him; Weaver made a couple of good saves off Ferguson and a deflection from Watson(?). Dickov and Whitley had another couple of attempts but to no avail. Then the defence started to play musical statues for Uncle Joe’s birthday and watched Campbell run in to the box on to a lob from Ball which left him and Weaver, who suddenly decided to launch at him and concede a penalty. He managed to block the penalty (fairly weak shot, my 89 year old arthritic gran would have done better) but the musical statues – Whitley excepted – stood around and waited for Ball to collect the ball and slot it into the net from 5 yards or so. Quite rightly Weaver had a go at the statues who had now woken up. We were treated to the site of Captain Calamity giving the Everton fans a few choice words and a signal – lucky he didn’t get caught by Elleray. Half time was marked by a poor young Evertonian lad who’d been in hospital all his life taking his first few steps onto the pitch to a deserved round of applause.

Ferguson was subbed thank goodness and Kennedy came on for Granville who’d been doing very little. Second half was awful. Maybe they’d all been on the sherry trifle but it was an embarrassment. Tiatto had a long range shot on goal and that was about it for our chances. Weaver made two superb saves from Gemmill and I think Watson, which redeemed him somewhat. Huckerby came on for Kank but did nothing really. Unfortunately Everton then scored the most unbelievably soft goal right in front of us when Weir took a free header and the ball bobbled on the mud and right under Weaver’s flailing body. In the last few minutes Dickov and Pistone who’d been daggers drawn all game had a spat which resulted in them both being sent off. Steward Number 171 was looking really jumpy by this time and, like us, was glad it was time to go home. MotM unquestionably Whitley. The only people proud to pull that shirt on come match day are the fans and possibly a couple of players (Tiatto, Whitley). The team are a shambles and don’t deserve the sort of crazy support they have – but as usual, the away contingent never gave up or booed.

Thankfully I shall miss Arsenal and Leicester, and thanks to Sky moving the Ipswich fixture, have just three more games to endure. Roll on Preston, Grimsby and Millwall. Oh and the prawn sandwich interlude on the 21st of course.

Heidi Pickup (


Joe Royle – Surely the time has come!

I don’t get the chance to get to as many games as I’d like, but that doesn’t stop the feeling of desolation that I’ve been feeling every Saturday afternoon for months.

I managed to make it to Everton on Sunday to watch what I knew was a second rate team (and that was Everton) against our side of Sunday league boot boys.

There’s certainly not a lack of effort from the majority of the team, it’s just a shame that it’s not matched by talent.

The first half was one of optimism, well for 15 minutes anyway, all of a sudden we’d become a dangerous team, Granville, Dickov and Tiatto linking up well, Wanchope working hard and linking play up well and the defence cool and composed.

I know David Elleray had a stinker, and Weaver had a Taibi, but in the second half we looked like we should be playing on Hough End playing fields; we didn’t create a chance and were overrun by an average Everton team.

This occurred due to Everton’s change of tactics; Walter Smith changes from a back 3 to a back 4, and we failed to deal with it.

Why can I see things like this in the stand and Joe Royle can’t? I’m no football expert, I’m no tactical genius, but I can see we are truly dire.

What’s the point in starting with Danny Granville and then taking him off at half time, just because we’re losing, bringing Kennedy on and losing our flow down the flanks?

This reeks of bad management and must destroy the lad’s confidence; he must know that whenever a sub is being made it’ll be him to come off.

I honestly believe Royle should go as he hasn’t got the aptitude for this level of football, not that it’s going to happen.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Joe’s done magnificently and I thank him for getting us out of the hell hole that was Division 2 and then giving us a great year last season, but now he’s out of his depth and should be replaced.

Not that it’s going to help us now, we’re down, and we’ve been down for weeks.

Rant over – Keep the Blue faith.

John Bradley (


Sunday morning, it’s Palm Sunday. I should be at church atoning for my sins this past week (betting on the ponies: “Blue Moon Sailing” at 20/1, “Gary Owen Road” at 3/1, and “Shotobourbon”: OK, I picked that last one because I like the stuff!). Lost my money and to make matters worse, my favourite “KIPPAX” badge fell out of my cap somewhere.

Evil omens of things to come, so this Sunday finds me attending “The Church of the Blues” via the Internet. 2-1 at half-time. Could it get any worse? Faith falters by 3-1. I’m reduced to doodling crude cartoons: Nicky Weaver facing Anne Robinson – “You are the weakest link, goodbye!” City players wrapped up like a stick of dynamite, “This team will self-destruct in 90 minutes!” (Dickov did just that). In regard to my last submission about showing up and staying put, even Century Radio threatened to pull the City game off the air if Liverpool or Wycombe scored, since it seemed a much more exciting match.

I want to say something positive here and I really can’t think of anything. Wait, here it is, I do think Tiatto still deserves “Player of the Year”. He’s been absolutely brilliant despite the collection of cards. But then again, there is no one else on the squad who could come in 2nd or 3rd, it’s a one-horse race. Dickov: I understand the frustration level but at such a critical time to lose it and get sent off! Wasn’t it just last week that City were down to 10 men? But it didn’t matter by then, did it?

I’m not going to go on pointing out the obvious. If City go down, they go down. I won’t burn my scarf or rip my kit to shreds, but it is frustrating when I know what they can do having seen it first hand. Though as time progresses, memories age and become past history. While we should never forget past glories, what of the present and things to come?

Jennifer Miller (


Well, now that relegation is a certainty, I’ll accept the unenviable task of rebutting Ernie Whalley’s character assassination of Joe Royle (MCIVTA 696). Nothing personal Ernie, you are a lot milder in your language than all those whingers on BlueView, but “on his way back to Oldham, or maybe Rochdale” ohhh, meow. Lest you forget Ernie, Joe took the likes of Oldham to a league position higher than City have seen in a quarter of a century, to say nothing of Cup semi-finals.

I may be wrong, and City could be heading south for a long time, but 40 years of being a City fan have taught me that sacking the manager on the back of a relegation, or asking the board to gamble for success doesn’t work. Long term planning around financial and management stability while not guaranteeing success enhances the chances of success.

Let’s look at where we have come from with our avuncular uncle at the helm. For starters, there were none too many takers for the job when Franny appointed him. He was not begging for the work, and agreed to take the job knowing about the financial restraints and the average length of tenure of his predecessors. He brought Willie with him, but by and large avoided the sweep out of old faces that previous regimes used to destroy our youth development and scouting networks.

Firstly, let’s sort out the relegation to Division 2 issue. Ernie veers just wide of blaming Joe for relegation, but his statement that Joe “alienated and sold” Gio peddles the same line of misinformation. In fact Joe’s points per game record was better than Gio’s.

Gio was the main cog in the side that got us relegated twice, and since then he has done absolutely nothing (in result terms) for his sides. This season for example, he has played 18 games for Derby (w3,d6,l9) gaining points at the rate of 0.83 per game. City, as bad as we are, have gained points at the rate of 0.84 per game. If only Jim Smith had chosen Gio more, maybe we would still be in with a chance of survival.

So Gio was not “alienated and sold”, rather Joe took the view that he was an asset to be realised while his value was still high, and accepted that he was not going to play at Adams Park and Moss Rose when Ajax were offering him the chance of European football on £25k plus per week.

In the next two years, on a negative transfer budget, Joe got us back into the Premiership. The jibe about “should have been out of that Division by Easter given our pedigree, support and resources” is the sort of “massive” clap-trap that has this season made BlueView pretty much a no-go area for many fans like me. It’s pure arrogant rubbish.

‘Pedigree’ was a drawback as every other team was up for us like a cup final; ‘Resources’? We were £20 million in debt and had running costs many times that of our competitors; and as for support well I give in there, but the few extra million generated there were more than sucked up by running Maine Road, Platt Lane, the Academy etc. The next ‘big’ club to find themselves in the 2nd may never find their way up again.

Back to this time last season, and many people were debating whether it would be best to stay in the 1st for another season because of the thinness of the squad. Those of us who wanted to go up regardless knew that this season would be a fight for survival. That meant, to me anyway, that relegation was a real possibility, and relegation is rarely achieved with a team playing free-flowing attacking football, denied their right to survival by the odd unlucky result. It means players lacking confidence, managers unsure as to which of his players will cope with the pressures and deliver the goods, and yes, teams with not enough class players to survive.

In recent years, you would have seen teams like Ipswich (I bet that 9-0 defeat at the Swamp wasn’t a close run thing), Charlton, Leicester and Sunderland amongst others playing in the same way as we have recently. Did they all sack their managers? No, but I bet there were a goodly number of whinging scrotes at each club demanding heads on plates at the time.

Back to the potted history. Bernstein made available £16 million for Joe to spend. Given that football is now a hard nosed business, that the money has to come from somewhere, and we have no Jack Walker to act as fairy godfather we have to accept the judgement of the man at the helm that this was all it was prudent to spend. Sounded a lot at the time I seem to remember until the likes of Rebrov moved in to Spurs at around £11 million, and Rio got valued at £18 million.

This league is a seller’s market where the players are the sellers. The good ones go for really big money to clubs where there are good chances of European competition, not to clubs who may struggle. So even if Joe had the luxury of buying two, maybe three big names with his £16 million, the chances are the players would never have come to put his management skills to the test. Even then, the likes of Alan Smith were almost lured our way, pity Viduka had to play in the Olympics.

But Joe didn’t have the luxury of buying just a couple of players. He had to make that £16 million stretch to cover the whole squad. A squad that would have called upon the likes of Allsopp, Fenton, Mason, Jim W, Taylor and Jobson to fill in for injuries to first choice players was never going to survive. They were players who had a job to do at the lower level. So, not one or two new players, but seven or eight were needed, and the transfer pot stayed the same.

Even that assumed that the first choice players were good enough. Dickov, Goater, Prior, Morrison, Bishop, Edghill were not, and this is not me being smart arsed, as I thought the likes of the Goat, Bish and Andy would be good enough. Half a season out for the likes of Goat, Andy, Kennedy, Ritchie and Horlock just shows how big the average Premiership squad needs to be. To be realistic in order to survive, a squad needs to consist of at least 12 players of genuine game in/game out Premiership standard, with maybe half a dozen that can do it for the odd half hour (class but ageing bones), or for the odd game at a time as part of a learning process.

How many did Joe have at his disposal this time last year? By my reckoning, and with the benefit of hindsight, Weaver (despite everything), Tiatto, Jeff W and Kennedy are the only four who would have got into many Premiersip squads for potential regular selections. Horlock, Bish and Goat may have made benchwarmers, and SWP deserved the odd blooding. So that is a Premiership squad of 8, and I’m aware some people wouldn’t rate some of the above as highly as me.

So, the cut price route for which Joe seems to be fielding all the flack from Ernie and his like was forced upon him. And which players does Ernie have problems with? “Deffo not: Grant, Granville, Goater, Dickov.” Well Joe is off the hook for Dickov, and promotion from neither the 2nd nor the 1st would have been possible without £400,000 Goat, so Joe stands condemned for paying a total of £1.5 million over a year ago on two players who could possibly be sold these days for maybe half that amount. Who would you buy with your £750,000 Ernie?

Sorry for being flippant, and I’m not trying to pretend Joe has not made mistakes, but the job he had to do was huge, and the chances of him succeeding first time around were slim. Fans are allowed to criticize, but it reads slightly better with just a bit of realism (gauging how hard the task confronting Joe was), balance (two promotions luck, one relegation incompetence), and maybe a little insight, like suggesting who would have joined us to do the job better.

So what do I reckon were Joe’s mistakes? Well like nearly all managers of relegated sides, erratic team selection and eccentric substitutions seem to be standard. I think it goes with the territory, desperate shakes of the dice, which seem to have fewer dots on them than is desirable (note that when the manager of Liverpool or Chelsea is able to spend many tens of millions of pounds on players and seems unable to keep his expensive squad within sight of the top of the league, this management failing is referred to as squad rotation – it still sucks for the fans).

Then there is George Weah. Bringing in George was a calculated gamble that backfired badly. I was ecstatic when I read we had signed George and Paulo, and without getting George, Wanchope would not have come. But this was not the World Player of the Year vintage Weah, and there was no way he was ever going to get the full 90 minutes in too many games over the long, hard winter. All the rubbish about bad management skills misses the point that the great man was and is looking for easy and well paid last chances in the game, and he found a wet, windy winter sitting on a Moss Side bench less attractive than the joint warming Mediterranean sun. How many hours was he out of work?

Given that Taggart ‘sacked’ Rudolf for undermining his authority in the dressing room (and Schmeichel backed down and said sorry), I think we can take it as read that telling well paid players to f*!$ off in the dressing room is not out of the ordinary. Ditto for macho man Paulo. Man management skills are much easier when you can offer prima donna players the chance of Champions’ League games and big wages.

George’s enthusiasm for City seemed to wane shortly after the inspired results against Sunderland and Leeds dried up and he had to sit on the bench while Paulo played lone man up front. His leaving, complete with dummy spitting vindictiveness, probably did for us in the end. Wanchope obviously went off playing for us at that point, and Joe never had the resources to replace the two of them.

The mistakes that I still hold Joe responsible for are not signing a creative midfielder (but he never had funds to do that until this season, and who would I choose, and would he come – hmmm), and the peremptory ditching of Big Andy (but he is on big money, and Joe maybe wanted him out so as to make funds available for a deadline day signing. No sale, no signing).

Some years back, after that 9-0 (according to that BBC series on the Men Who Changed Football, or whatever), Sheepshanks asked Burley how long it would take to get promoted again. Burley replied 5 years, and Sheepshanks bought it, although I doubt he told the supporters at the time. That was in 1995, and it did indeed take 5 years.

So look at the teams we would have liked to emulate this season, the very same Sunderland, Leicester, Ipswich and Charlton that have gone down, held their nerves, planned for the future and come back stronger. I do wish critics of managers would first of all ask why well-qualified people (not just Joe, there is Willie and the other coaches and scouting staff, as well as Tueart, Bird and Bernstien) seem to make simple mistakes that we all can recognise. The chances are there are reasons we are not able to even guess at.

We must now keep the stability at the club, and accept that aligned with financial control we will over time rise to our natural position. That position, given football’s finance related profile is that of one of the biggest potential money earners in the league.

The immediate task is now to keep the players we all want (again in that seller’s market), and get rid of those who have not and will not produce the goods for us. The squad now is much stronger than at this time last season. Nash, Dunne, Howey, Ritchie, Charvet, and Huckerby look better than Wright(T), Prior, Andy (sorry big man), Reg, Dickv and Granville. And don’t imagine there will be lots of money to spend this summer.

How much confidence shattered by such a traumatic relegation can be restored in a defence that has leaked goals this term will be one of the benchmarks by which we will judge Joe next year. And yes, like one and all, I desperately want a good, skillful ball playing midfield man or two, and I don’t mean Tony Grant.

OK, open season on a Joe supporter, but strangely I’m not so much a Royle fan as a proponent of the idea of stability within the club. I do not find the many charges of incompetence against Joe as anywhere near proven, and I do give him great credit for what he has achieved, and wish to keep with him.

Fire away.

Martin J Beckett (


I don’t usually like to get involved in debates about whether the manager is doing a great job or if he’s the biggest bozo since Graham Taylor’s head appeared as a turnip on the back page of the sexy, soaraway Sun. However, following the comments in the last issue and some in this month’s King of the Kippax I’ve decided to come off the fence.

You see it’s this Nicky Weaver thing and the way Joe is handling it that I just can’t figure. Everyone seems to be jumping on Nicky’s cart at the minute and justifiably giving him a right going over for some of his more ridiculous gaffes. The monumental screw-up against Villa was just one of the latest howlers. Yesterday’s mistake against Everton when we’re a mere 2-1 down and still in with a shout put me more in mind of Massimo Taibi than our own Nick Weaver. Several contributors to McV have pointed to a string of other major balls-ups both this season and last, but I still maintain that on his day Nicky is probably one of the best ‘keepers in the country.

So what’s gone wrong? Well the persistent rumours about Nick’s relaxation pursuits continue to surface every couple of weeks and I’m firmly of the opinion that Nick has started to believe his own glowing publicity, which is a shame as he really was the dog’s doo-dahs in the First Division. All that apart though, I feel the JR must carry the can too. Anyone remember the farce that was Edgy’s removal as right back of choice and captain? How for week after week those in the know were saying drop the lad and give him a break. Then JR showed that sometimes less than admirable streak of stubbornness when he kept playing the lad week in, week out, letting him get mentally lower and lower. Do I detect a parallel here? Is Nicky not also suffering from a crisis of confidence when his only comment when faced with his howler yesterday was to say “They are my mistakes I must live with them”. Big of you Nick to shoulder the entire blame but totally unnecessary. Why? Because if your manager had one ounce of compassion he’d play Carlo instead and give young Nick a break. Not a break to swan off to Portugal on a four day booze cruise with his mates but a chance to get back into some serious training and put his mind into some sort of shape.

Stubbornness is a desirable quality when it’s coupled with a bit of foresight. Then it becomes tenacity and people stand up and applaud. When it’s the kind of stubbornness that threw thousands of soldiers to their deaths because the first world war generals didn’t know what they were doing but were too stupid and arrogant to defer to field officers with more sense then it becomes recklessness.

I hope I am reading the man wrong but the Dogs of War approach is fine when it’s working but if Joe is just too stubborn to believe that a change of policy isn’t a sign of weakness but can be seen as an astute move to create a winning situation then Nicky is set to go through the same crushing mill that Edgy went through and that resulted in the lad leaving the field in front of 34,000 people in tears. That was an embarrassing and ugly sight and once a season is once too many. However, if JR doesn’t give Nick a break soon I suspect we could have a reprise and see our goalkeeper equally emotional. Nicky is only 22 and to put the weight of the entire relegation battle on his shoulders is just too much for one young lad to bear. Carlo Nash has played well in the reserves and with us staring down the barrel of relegation, surely it makes sense to swap ‘keepers and give the doubt-ridden Weaver a day off and let Carlo ‘top of the world Ma’ Nash have a go.

Dave Cash (


There has been a whole lot of opinion lately in MCIVTA to the effect that Joe Royle is useless/not bad/ great. Or ditto the above for Willie Donachie or any of the players, or board of directors. Now I don’t want to stop anyone expressing their opinion, or leaving the ground early, or even booing the team (although someone in Block GG Lower tried that against Villa and got a right rollicking from others in there) but has it not occurred to anyone that we are where we are because we are frankly spent up, skint and generally on our uppers? Now I know that we are, as our neighbours call us, a massive club. and that we have 22,000 season ticket holders, and Sky TV invested a couple of million in the club, but just look at the evidence.

  1. We have had 4 years out of the Premiership. In that time clubs likeCoventry and Derby and Everton have been in there accumulating big moneywhile we scrambled around playing Crewe and York City etc. Mr Bernsteinestimated that we lost out on £40 million being out of the Premiership and I don’tsee this as an underestimate.
  2. Season tickets and match tickets at City, though pricey, are a sightcheaper than what you pay at any other Premiership Club, and are half whatyou pay at some clubs like Chelsea. I was aghast at Charlton first game ofthe season to be charged £25, but that is clearly the normal price.
  3. We are set to move to a new stadium which City will have to financethe fitting out of.
  4. Our record buy cost £3.5 million. That may seem a lot to you andI but in terms of Premiership quality it doesn’t get you to first base. We maydream of turning up the next Colin Bell at Bury, or Kevin Phillips atWatford. But such finds are lucky and in general the more you spend, thebetter the player you get (as Steve Daley said to me only the other day).Frankly, if you pay peanuts (£1-2 million) you get Charvet, Dunne, Haaland,Howey, Huckerby – none of these were regular 1st teamers at their previousclub.
  5. No one has invested big money in City since the Sky deal. Even the Skydeal didn’t bring in the megabucks needed to survive.
  6. We have signed no new players since Huckerby arrived at Christmas. Wehave taken players like Kanchelskis and Ostenstad and Toppmöller, but theyare all on loan. I have never been a fan of taking players on loan, playerson loan lack the commitment and determination of players on your own staff,and more often than not the borrowing club is picking up the wage tab for aplayer who is not performing. The old City would have been splashing out onreal quality if the team were in this situation. Now we have sat there andwatched the iceberg float towards us, while wondering how to set up thewooden deckchairs: 4-4-2 or 3-5-2.

After just 4 years out of the Premiership, I have been amazed and shocked at how much it has changed. Money now is all. The days when Peter Swales could run a club on gate money alone are long gone. The Coventry Chairman said on 5 live recently that with gate receipts of £5.5 million, their wage costs were £16 million. The commercial/corporate side of the club is now more important than the turnstile fodder like you and me, and while I wholeheartedly agree with those recent correspondents who have complained about the price rises in season tickets, I am afraid you/we are swimming against a very strong tide.

And the sad fact is that the rich are getting richer at the expense of everyone else. City as an example are light years ahead of what we were 8 or 9 years ago under Swales, but everyone else has moved on as well. It will take us a hell of a long time to bridge the gap, maybe 5 to 10 years, but bridge the gap we will. Until that time, let’s just cling to the wreckage and try not to drown before help arrives.

And does anyone know any good jokes while we wait?

James Curtis (


I’ve started writing this on Sunday before kick-off, and obviously after yesterday’s Coventry result. Am I the only one to include Coventry in the survival equation? We might catch Middlesbrough, only to be pipped on goal difference by Coventry! Remember 96!?

Now about the Arsenal game – brought forward; this is the kind of thing that could go against us! If we get injuries from the Everton game, there will be less time for recovery! Plus I think both Coventry and Middlesbrough have an advantage because it will give them a game in hand, and knowledge of what they need to do in those games based on our result against the Gunners. Fixture dates do get changed in the season, mostly due to TV requirements but that’s ok, as the clubs involved have contracts with the TV, and receive remuneration for the screening of their matches. But I think that just because a club is having success – like Arsenal – the other club involved in the fixture should not be disadvantaged by rearrangement of the fixture. If there is no disadvantage, and both clubs are in agreement, then ok, but in this instance, I believe it would have been in City’s interest to have kicked-off at the same time as both Coventry and Middlesbrough on Easter Monday. What I don’t know is whether city had much say in the matter. If they did, and agreed, then I’m surprised at their decision!

Oh dear! Just listened to the match over the ‘net, don’t think the above matters too much now! Everton was another game we really needed to win, and as with several games this season, the best team came away with nothing!

It sounded to me that the first half was back to the commitment we were use to last term, even Wanchope got involved, but as ever, due to our lightweight midfield, the pressure was on the defence again, and the inevitable déjà vu occurred!

Maybe our only hope is if the team “think it’s all over” then they might relax and take some of those rare chances, like the one Dicky should have put away today!

Ah well, for those of us who enjoy our football, just think, extra eight games next season.

Andy Collins (


Well once again Weaver bombs!

How much longer do we have to take these mistakes? You can count on four hands now, never mind two, the number of mistakes Nick has made in the last couple of seasons. I’m afraid he does not learn from his mistakes, take for example Stockport at home and Villa at home. He is not Zico, please Nick just boot it out of play… please! It is time to give Carlo Nash the No. 1 spot for the rest of the season.

Joe, you have had your time, go upstairs.

A message to David Bernstein – David Moyes is the man for the job, go and get him now.

With regards to the planning for next season, the following should be heading for the exit door.

Paulo Wanchope – Great skill – no heart.
Gerard Wiekens – Just not good enough, a “crab”.
Laurent Charvet – What a waste of money.
Richard Edghill – I’m sorry but he is totally inadequate, no skill to think of!
Spencer Prior – How can he be moaning recently, his performances of late have been rank!
Alfie Haaland – The invisible man methinks! Plenty of “gob” on him though.
Paul Dickov – This guy just wants to fight everybody – no good when he spends a third of the season suspended!
Tony Grant – What potential!

We will probably raise £6 million if we are lucky. Let’s give some of these promising kids we all keep hearing about a chance. We obviously need a creative influence in midfield, what at the moment I don’t know.

I think we should go for a very experienced right back for one season, this guy would also be captain, and he is a Blue to boot… Lee Dixon.

And finally Joe if you are listening give Terry Cooke a chance.

Paul Jones (


I was pouring forth some bile re the current squad to a fellow Blue and felt that I might share it with you all.

This is based on us going down, with a few thoughts in there in case a miracle happens and we play like a team who hasn’t lost its bottle.

Firstly though my team for Wednesday would be:

Goal – Nash
RB – Jeff Whitley
LB – Granville
CH – Dunne
CH – Howey
LM – Kennedy
RM – Wright Phillips (If fit, if not then Huckerby)
CM – Tony Tramp
CM – Tiatto
Att – Dickov Att – Goater

Subs, who cares! Are there any worth picking on current form?

Weaver – Keep, he is good, but short on confidence.
Charvet – Free transfer (is he Jason van Blerk in disguise!), bag of crap.
Edghill – Sell for £750,000.
Haaland – Sell him to any of the promoted teams for anything we can get, £1 million perhaps?
Prior – Sell for £300,000 – big heart, he’s not good enough.
Morrison – When we go down, we must keep him! Captain and future Coach/Manager etc.
Kanchelskis – Bye, lost his passion.
Huckerby – Teach him to shoot for goodness sake! At least he will terrorise the First Division.
Ostenstad – Do me a favour, we’ve got better reserves coming through.
Ritchie – Keep him, good player, injury prone season. His absence from the team has been noticed.
Wanchope – (I’ve omitted the various swear words I had placed here). £2 million if we’re lucky from some Spanish team probably, Atletico Nomark or Racing Has-been.
Kevin Horlock – Keep for the First Division, get rid when we get back up. Not good enough at Premier level.
Mark Kennedy – No bottle, same as Horlock, £1 million after we are re-promoted.
Tony Tramp – Fantastic potential. Hang on, he’s mid-twenties! Go away, £100,000.
Carlo Nash – Keep him, play him!
Jeff Whitley – Keep him, shown that he can do it, all he needs is a midfield mentor, à la Steve McMahon!
Danny Granville – Keep, shown that he can play, good squad player.
Richard Dunne – Centre forwards don’t stand a chance against him next season.
Steve Howey – Keep, classy player.
Shaun Wright-Phillips – Awesome potential, he’s so good, he can pick out the post or crossbar from 20 yards at will. Keep, in fact sign up on a long term contract ASAP.
Danny Tiatto – Make club captain if Morrison goes – player of the season – are you watching Alfie?
Paul Dickov – Supersub rôle maybe; for what he has done, I’m prepared to give him a contract for life, even if he never plays again!
Shaun Goater – Proved me wrong, his goals to game ratio has been good this season. Not quality but not completely out of his depth. Keep for the promotion campaign.

Add to this for next season, Chris Shuker, Leon Mike, Terry Dunfield and Rhys Day. If possible buy Tim Sherwood as a midfield general for Division 1 and an experienced right back, any right back, as our current crop are not a crop they’re a crap!

Sorry if this is a bit on the down side but I’m trying to look forward.

Michael Leafield (


Atkinson for England: Gary James & Mark Brown, Empire Press, Waterstones Deansgate, Manchester Thursday 5th April 2001.

Book launches aren’t usually my forté. They conjure up images of prawn sandwiches and warm Chardonnay peopled by folk who are actively inventing new buzz phrases for the simplest of life’s labours. It may come as a surprise then to find that I was totally delighted to receive an e-mail off Gary James inviting me down to the Deansgate branch of Waterstones for the launch of his new collaborative venture with Mark Brown.

Manchester being Manchester, a city totally unphased by great events, it conspired in its own collaborative work with the weather to produce streets drenched in driving rain and battered by high winds. This was not an evening to send out the neighbour’s dog let alone attend a soirée, but despite adversity a bijou attic full of folk did just that. In a small room (posh people call them ante-chambers) just off the main selling area of the store’s third floor, the world got its first chance to see the birth of ‘Atkinson for England’. Apart from the lads, Gary and Mark, the guest of honour was Graham Kelly, ex-chair of the Football Association and who latterly described himself to me as “no longer in football really… I’m writing a bit and I’m a director at Luton Town”. Also present of the great and the good was Bob Greaves, who many will remember from his days with Granada TV. Bob is distinctly older and greyer these days but when he spoke to ask a question the voice was still powerfully northern, dripping with syrupy resonance.

A bit about the authors. Gary is well known to many on McV (he subscribes to this ‘zine) as the author of several factual works about Man City and frequent contributions to City Magazine and matchday programmes. His credentials as a ‘True Blue’ are well documented. Mark on the other hand is from the ‘other side of town’ and supports… well you get the picture anyway. He has had several short stories published and lives in Oldham with his wife and family. Apart from all that the lads are mates, that much is evident when you see them bouncing quips and one liners off each other. There is a chemistry between them which hopefully comes out in the book.

So back to the launch. It got underway in an informal fashion with the authors choosing to sit at a table, Baddiel and Skinner style, rather than use the lectern provided. A brief synopsis of how the book came to be formed the first part of the presentation. This was done à la Baddiel and Skinner as a pseudo-conversation with the audience playing the rôle of third person. Following the introduction we received the storyline of the book, both lads itching to tell all, but very conscious of spoiling the plot. You can tell they are both extremely proud of this work. It’s taken them two years to compile and both admitted at times it had become a bit of a labour of love. The story is in the tradition of British farce. It concerns the accidental appointment of a plumber, Reg Atkinson, to the top England football post and the subsequent travails that befall him. Both authors were keen to point out this was not a book about football, it’s a novel that has football as the vehicle that carries the narrative, just as Dick Francis’ novels are carried by horse racing. Despite that there are liberal references to characters, both real and imaginary, that people the glorious game. The real R Atkinson gets more than a mention and Gary somehow even manages to slip a little bit of Man City in there although Mark was keen to point out that the part of the book that does is about a run-down, dilapidated hotel with sad and lonely guests. Well he is a Red after all! Gary continued to describe the book as in the best tradition of English comedy and cited Norman Wisdom and the ‘Carry On’ films as inspiration, although the style goes back centuries to the works of Chaucer and Sheridan et al. For both Gary and Mark it’s their first venture into a full length novel and they are understandably keen it should succeed. The presentation lasted just over the half hour and then was thrown open to the floor for questions. The biggest laugh of the evening went to Gary when he asked Graham Kelly if he could let him know once he’d read the book just how close to reality the process of choosing an England manager was. Graham muttered in reply “A bit closer than you think”. So all these years we haven’t been wrong!

The obligatory signing followed. I got my copy monikered and even managed to get Graham Kelly to sign it too. At a very reasonable price of £5.99 in paperback this is 340 pages of riveting read. The publishers describe it as “Hilarious… the funniest read of the year”. Well they would wouldn’t they? However, if the natural comedy talent that Gary and Mark so obviously possess makes even a token appearance in the book I’m sure it will be one that sits up there with the other great ‘It’s not about football just features it’ comic novels. Judge for yourself and go buy a copy.

Dave Cash (

Atkinson for England has now been launched and is available from Sportspages and all good bookshops in England. If you have any difficulty finding it, please order it from your local bookshop. The details are: “Atkinson For England” by Gary James & Mark Brown; published by Empire Publications; price: £5.99; ISBN 1-901-746-178;

Thanks to all those who attended the launch. We enjoyed it and from what we were told so did ex-FA Chief Graham Kelly, who said the book was ‘amazingly close to the truth’.

Gary James (


A quick note about a new message board I have started for City supporters. At this point I wish to say that it in no way is it meant to be competition for Blue View,, MCIVTA, or any other boards out there, all of which have their own following.

I hope the board will be used to discuss football mainly, though anything goes, as long as it’s not racist or abusive. The board will be moderated, and it is members only, but that’s to keep away the idiots, posting the usual drivel we’re all sick of seeing. There are links to other sites on the board itself, and these will be updated from time to time. There is also the opportunity to write stuff for other sections of the board alongside the message board.

So far I have publicised the message board by email to Blues I know, and some of them have done the same. I would appreciate it if the address is not posted publicly, as for the moment we have been largely free from bombing from other supporters, and that is the way I hope it will stay. I take a risk posting the address here, but hope you will all understand the desire for it not be public. I have no hidden agenda with the board apart from wanting Blues to be able to chat together hassle free. There is no revenue to me from ads or sponsorship, in fact it’s likely to cost me money in the long run, as I intend to move towards an ad-free board, or at least a minimum ad board. It costs you nothing apart from the time joining; once a member you don’t need to log-off the board as a cookie is kept on your PC with your password etc. The cost of the minimum ad or ad-free board varies depending on how popular the board is. Currently we do get the odd “pop up” ad, but I will lose this in a few weeks if it is popular enough.

The board is at the following address:

Please note if you wish to join the board, it’s as well to join as a global member not a local member. Also make sure when you join to read the form carefully as there are options to receive junk mail which you can switch off.

It’s there if you want to join.

Oh and, come on Joe sort it out! Let’s beat the A*se!

ChinnorBLU – Paul Stevenson (


I just want to say I love the lads more than ever! Just imagine the stress they must be under – still fighting for us. Miracles do happen, even today! All the best to you all and never give up.

teurnell-charlez (


I know it’s a long shot but if anyone out there has a ticket for the Swamp that they can’t use please pass it my way. All expenses covered of course.

07947172068 (if voicemail on I will ring back)

Mike Brown (


The next meeting of the Reddish Branch of the Centenary Supporters’ Association will be on Tuesday 10th April, at The Ash Hotel, Manchester Road, Stockport starting at 8.00pm when our confirmed guests are Peter Barnes and Neil Young. It is also hoped that Peter will be accompanied by his father Ken Barnes.

Admission is just £1 for CSA members (juniors U16 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.

Howard Burr, Secretary (


Would any members of Chorlton Blues who are travelling with the Reddish Branch to Leicester please note that the coach is leaving at 9.00 am and not 9.30 am. Contact either Larry on 226 0445 or Gary on 494 6838 for further details.


Larry Higgs (


Suspect we don’t have that many Man City fans in Glamorganshire, and even less subscribers, but should there be any, they might like to check out the Glamorgan CC site on Rivals – – where there is a link to Matthew Maynard’s autobiography (

Jeremy Poynton (


The derby is being screened live on Premiere TV in Germany and a few of us are planning a little get together in Heilbronn on the 21st of April (big thanks to Petra who has kindly donated her living room!). After the game we’ll be getting a bite to eat and be either celebrating or drowning our sorrows in and around the beautiful city of Heilbronn.

If you are in Germany at this time and fancy watching the game in the company of some fellow Blues then drop me a line and I can give you the details.

CTID, Ian Watson (


Does anyone have a – now obsolete – City badge that is a tiny target (navy & sky blue in colour)? If so I will buy it for £5.00. Call 07968 830 559.

Joel Perry (


Lincoln City vs. Manchester City

Does anyone have a programme from the City vs. Lincoln City League Cup away match at Sincil bank? It was the first match my daughter attended at 6 months old. She’s now five and a active City fan. I want to show her where her misery started.

For the record if you don’t remember, we lost 4-1 after taking the lead in the first minute. It was terrible. I will pay a fair price for one in reasonable condition.

Chas Tonner (


32 down, 6 to go

    E  xciting
ad  V  enture
    E  nding  in
    R  elegation?
    T  ighten
    O  ur
    N  oose...

Steve Maclean (

I’m sure Steve’s going to torture us every step of the way…

P.S. If that wasn’t bad enough, check out – with ‘thanks’ to John Cantrill.



I’ll never forget my first game… my dad took me at the age of eight to see City play Blackpool at Maine Road. You have to understand that, in those days, Blackpool were a top-drawer side with Matthews, Mortensen and Perry amongst others. We sat in the Main Stand on that day. At half-time the score was City 1 Blackpool 1, respectable enough you might say. At full time it was City 1 Blackpool 6! I have never in all my years of footie-watching seen such an amazing display of ball control as was shown in that second half by Stanley Matthews.

I guess it’s true that more modern heroes practice their skills at a faster pace than he had to, but all the same those old lacies were damned heavy and his skill must have been immense.

I’ve been a City fan ever since. I’m fortunate enough to have seen some of the classic games of the last 40 or so years.

  • Old Trafford ’68 (the turning point… and my 21st, believe it or not)
  • Newcastle ’68
  • Wembley ’69
  • Right up to Wembley ’99

I’m a Kippax season ticket holder and although I now live 200 miles away, it doesn’t matter, I still have to make that trip.
My motto: Being there is what matters, winning is just a bonus.

Blue Bill (


Recent results to 8 April 2001 inclusive.

8 April 2001

Everton               3 - 1  Manchester City       36,561

7 April 2001

Aston Villa           2 - 2  West Ham United       31,432
Derby County          0 - 4  Chelsea               29,320
Leeds United          2 - 0  Southampton           39,267
Leicester City        1 - 3  Coventry City         19,545

4 April 2001

Aston Villa           2 - 1  Leicester City        29,043

2 April 2001

Southampton           0 - 3  Ipswich Town          15,244

1 April 2001

Charlton Athletic     2 - 0  Leicester City        20,043

31 March 2001

Arsenal               2 - 0  Tottenham Hotspur     38,121
Bradford City         2 - 2  Newcastle United      20,160
Chelsea               2 - 1  Middlesbrough         34,933
Coventry City         2 - 0  Derby County          19,654
Liverpool             2 - 0  Manchester United     44,806
Manchester City       1 - 3  Aston Villa           34,247
Sunderland            0 - 2  Leeds United          48,285
West Ham United       0 - 2  Everton               26,044

League table to 8 April 2001 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  31 13  1  1 42  7  8  6  2 26 14 21  7  3 68 21  47  70
 2 Arsenal         31 13  3  0 39  8  3  6  6 10 21 16  9  6 49 29  20  57
 3 Leeds United    32  8  3  5 25 19  7  5  4 23 19 15  8  9 48 38  10  53
 4 Ipswich Town    31  8  4  3 25 13  8  0  8 22 23 16  4 11 47 36  11  52
 5 Liverpool       29 11  3  1 31  9  3  4  7 19 22 14  7  8 50 31  19  49
 6 Chelsea         31 11  3  2 41 18  2  6  7 17 20 13  9  9 58 38  20  48
 7 Sunderland      31  8  6  2 18 10  5  3  7 19 22 13  9  9 37 32   5  48
 8 Aston Villa     32  6  7  3 22 17  5  5  6 16 17 11 12  9 38 34   4  45
 9 Charlton Ath.   31 10  4  2 26 11  2  5  8 15 31 12  9 10 41 42  -1  45
10 Leicester City  32  9  4  3 23 16  4  2 10 10 22 13  6 13 33 38  -5  45
11 Southampton     31  9  2  5 22 18  3  6  6 12 21 12  8 11 34 39  -5  44
12 Tottenham H.    31  9  5  1 26 11  1  4 11 10 29 10  9 12 36 40  -4  39
13 Newcastle Utd   30  7  2  5 19 15  4  4  8 17 28 11  6 13 36 43  -7  39
14 Everton         32  5  7  4 23 21  5  1 10 13 24 10  8 14 36 45  -9  38
15 West Ham United 32  4  6  6 18 17  4  6  6 19 25  8 12 12 37 42  -5  36
16 Derby County    32  7  6  3 19 21  1  5 10 12 30  8 11 13 31 51 -20  35
17 Middlesbrough   31  3  6  6 15 18  3  7  6 19 20  6 13 12 34 38  -4  31
18 Coventry City   32  3  6  7 13 21  4  3  9 18 31  7  9 16 31 52 -21  30
19 Manchester City 32  3  3 10 18 25  3  6  7 17 30  6  9 17 35 55 -20  27
20 Bradford City   30  2  6  7 15 26  1  3 11  7 31  3  9 18 22 57 -35  18

With thanks to Football 365


Contributions: Geoff –
News & Rumours: Peter –
Subscriptions: Geoff –
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]Geoff Donkin,

Newsletter #699