Newsletter #708

An issue packed with opinion – I shan’t spoil the surprise by telling you what’s it’s about though! Speculation has already begun about who will be leaving in the close season (or before), with Weaver and Tiatto already finding themselves in the sights of the tabloid hacks. Other news sees JR giving a less than wholehearted assurance that he will be at the helm come August, and Frannie Lee once more joining the fray, and it’s not to heap praise on the current incumbents of the boardroom.

It seems that plenty of fun was had on the pitch this week as well – excepting Monday – with an entertaining game at Vale Park for Martin Foyle (two reports included) and the reserves hammering Villa on Tuesday. Roll on the Manchester Senior Cup tomorrow. If anyone is going to the Swamp, a report would be much appreciated.

Next game: Chelsea at home, Saturday 19th May 2001


Part I – Transfer News and Rumour

Royle to Keep Nucleus of Squad Together: Joe Royle says he will keep the existing Manchester City squad together. Despite this season’s relegation, the Blues’ boss believes he already has the basis of a side that can return to the top flight at the first attempt. Royle has added extensively to the team he led to promotion a year ago, and, though he wants to reinforce his squad further this summer, he believes that no major surgery is needed ahead of next season’s First Division campaign. “We are stronger now than when we came up and there will not be any major clear-out,” he said. “When I took over three years ago, it was a different situation and I had to do a lot of stripping out. That will not happen this time. I want to keep this squad intact because I believe it is better than the one that got us up to the Premiership 12 months ago.”

Boss Looking for Three New Players: Joe Royle says he will target three new players to help propel Manchester City back to the Premiership next season. And the Blues’ boss believes that the club’s directors will be supportive of his wish to recruit new faces to help his team challenge for promotion. Royle is determined not to rush into any decisions over players; he wants to take his time over analysing where things have gone wrong this term before reaching his verdict on the remedial action that is necessary. And having been strongly backed in the transfer market throughout his time at the club so far, the City manager expects to be given the green light to bring in the players he wants. “Ideally, I would like one defender, one midfielder and one striker,” he revealed. “There are no financial implications to be taken into consideration because we haven’t bust ourselves this season. I could not have asked for more support from the board. Never at any stage was there a time when we couldn’t spend.”

City Send Toppmöller Home: Dino Toppmöller will not become a Manchester City player. The German has been at Maine Road on an extended trial, but the Blues have elected not to sign him on a permanent basis. Toppmöller arrived in Manchester two months ago, and has been training with City ever since. The 20-year-old, who is registered with Second Division German outfit FC Saarbrücken, has also featured at reserve-team level, but despite showing some promise and scoring twice for the second string, he has failed to convince Joe Royle that he is better than the young midfielders the Blues already have. “Dino is a nice kid who has ability but we feel he is not as good as Terry Dunfield who is two years his junior,” Royle explained to the Manchester Evening News. “We have Shaun Wright-Phillips who can also play in midfield and Dino would not be in front of either of them.”

Tiatto the First Linked with Move Away: Manchester City only lost their Premiership status on Monday. But the tabloids have wasted no time in speculating over the future of the Blues’ most sought-after star. Reports have claimed that Danny Tiatto is a £4 million target for Scottish giants Rangers, and that Aston Villa, Ipswich and West Ham are also keen to acquire his services. But the rumours ignore both Tiatto’s pledge of his future to City and Chris Bird’s comments on Tuesday that the Blues are under no financial pressure to sell players despite relegation back to the Nationwide League.

Weaver Sale Rumour Resurfaces: Earlier in the season, Nicky Weaver was rated one of the Manchester City players most likely to be sold should the club lose its Premiership status. And the rumour that the England under-21 man could leave the club has duly resurfaced now relegation has been confirmed. The Soccernet football news website has claimed that, in the wake of Carlo Nash’s recent excellent form, Weaver could be offloaded to Celtic, Firoentina or Napoli for £6 million, although it seems rather unrealistic to think in terms of such a fee when the player is unable to win a place in the first team ahead of a £100,000 buy from Stockport. Soccernet also claims that Richard Edghill and Laurent Charvet are surplus to requirements, and that Andrei Kanchelskis and Egil Ostenstad will not be signed after their loan spells. Meanwhile, given that he is still transfer-listed, Paulo Wanchope’s future must be regarded as uncertain despite his recent comments that he’d stay if City went down.

Part II – Reserve and Testimonial News

Reserves Back to Winning Ways: Manchester City’s reserves have returned to form as the season approaches its end. The Blues beat Aston Villa 4-1 at Hyde on Tuesday evening. Chris Killen was in fine form, scoring a hat-trick for City and Chris Shuker, who has returned from his loan spell at Macclesfield, was also on the mark. The Blues’ second string now take on Manchester United at Old Trafford on Friday evening in the Manchester Senior Cup final.

City Lose in Vale Testimonial: Manchester City visited Port Vale on Wednesday for Martin Foyle’s testimonial. But the Blues were beaten 5-3 by the Potteries outfit – though the result fails to tell the story of the game. Fielding a strong side, including Nicky Weaver, Richard Dunne, Paul Dickov, Egil Ostenstad and Mark Kennedy, City took the lead, and though Birmingham’s John McCarthy, guesting for his former club, equalised for Vale, the Blues went in front again. But as the match wore on, both sides made a host of substitutions, and the scoreline ceased to have any meaning. Pop star Robbie Williams, who made an appearance for the team he supports, scored for Vale from a penalty, as did Foyle, whose six-year-old son was brought on at the end and also found the net. A crowd of 8,833 witnessed the proceedings, delighting the beneficiary. “It must have been really hard for City given that it is only two days since they were relegated,” he reflected. “I can’t thank them enough for the effort they put in.” For the record, Ostenstad with a brace and Kennedy were City’s scorers.

Part III – Miscellaneous News and Views

Royle Shattered by Relegation Blow: Joe Royle says that Manchester City’s relegation from the Premiership has “knocked [him] sideways”. But the Blues’ boss nevertheless expects still to be in the Maine Road hot seat at the start of next season. Speculation over Royle’s future was started by his non-committal response when asked after Monday’s game at Ipswich whether he intended to quit as City manager. Now, however, the 52-year-old has revealed that he expects to lead the Blues next term, although he still stopped short of saying definitively that he’ll remain with the club. “I know everyone is asking the same thing,” he told the Manchester Evening News, “and I would expect to be in charge in August but over the next couple of weeks I think we all have to look at the situation. I am very happy at City and have no ambitions to be anywhere else but it is a bad time to make big decisions or pronouncements because we have all been knocked badly.”

Lee – Shareholders Want Answers: Francis Lee may have stepped down as Manchester City chairman three years ago, but he still holds around 7.25% of the shares in the club. And the ex-England international says that as a shareholder, he’s unhappy with the current state of play at Maine Road. City’s share price has dropped markedly in recent months, with the club’s struggles in the Premiership contributing to the fall in value. And Lee says he’s not the only shareholder to be concerned. “The season has been a disappointment on and off the field,” he told Sky Sports online. “As shareholders we have had to suffer a huge drop in share price and we aren’t happy. We all want to ask the chairman why it has all gone pear-shaped.” The former Maine Road playing favourite also says that the Blues need to spend big on “two goalscorers and a midfielder” if they are to win promotion next season, but he believes Joe Royle’s experience makes him well-equipped for the task of taking City straight back up.

Bernstein – Hard for City to Raise Capital: Manchester City’s prospects of attracting investment into the club have been damaged by relegation. But ironically, now could be a good time to buy shares in the Blues. Following the club’s last share issue 18 months ago, when Sky took a stake, shares issued at 90p rose in value even further. But the subsequent dramatic fall to the current price of 22.5p (in spite of the Blues’ improved financial results) means that it is much harder for David Bernstein to look to raise capital by going down a similar route this time. One factor behind this development is the willingness to sell of the trustees who hold the late Stephen Boler’s bloc of 19% of the club, coupled with the desire of other smaller shareholders to find buyers for their own holdings, leading to an over-supply of City shares in the marketplace. But even so, Bernstein says he sympathises with shareholders’ concerns. “The fall in the share price does bother me,” he admits. “I do not like people to invest at 90p and to now be sitting on a book loss. I do not feel good about that at all. It has also made it very difficult to raise money.” However, following the slump in the club’s share price, some analysts are expressing the view that shares in Manchester City are so cheap as to represent excellent value, with their worth sure to rise if the Blues can recover from the latest on-field setbacks.

Allison Taken into Hospital: Manchester City legend Malcolm Allison is in hospital suffering from alcoholism. Earlier this week, the 73-year-old suffered a broken collarbone after a fall at the nursing home in Altrincham where he now lives. Allison, who had two spells in the hot seat at Maine Road and as coach in tandem with manager Joe Mercer brought the Blues domestic and European success, has now fallen on hard times. But though the flamboyant ex-City and Crystal Palace boss is described as “very ill”, his son says there are grounds for hope. “He’s accepted for the first time he is an alcoholic,” reported Mark Allison. “Previously he’s been to AA and has been in The Priory. But he has never actually accepted what his biggest problem is.” Meanwhile, another City great has been in hospital this week, though with a much less serious ailment. Current director and former player Dennis Tueart has had an operation after going down with appendicitis.

Haaland to Undergo Knee Op: Alfie Haaland has sustained a knee injury that requires surgery. And the Manchester City skipper will go under the knife this week after the Blues’ hopes of Premiership survival were dashed by Ipswich on Monday. Haaland missed the visit to Portman Road, but had anything still been riding on the final game of the season against Chelsea next week, he may have played through the pain barrier. Now, however, it’s been decided that there is no point in delaying the operation, and the Blues expect their skipper to have made a full recovery by the time pre-season training starts. “In the circumstances we feel [having surgery now] is the sensible thing for him to do,” commented Joe Royle. “Alfie has been struggling for a while with the knee problem and this way he will be raring to go as soon as we come back to work.”

‘CITY’ Magazine: The May edition of ‘CITY’ magazine is published next Monday (14th May), a week late, to allow for coverage of the club’s unsuccessful relegation battle. Meanwhile, I am informed that Mike Barnett is stepping down as editor after publication of the June issue. Mike has been extremely helpful to and supportive of me personally since I have been generating these news summaries, and he has been a friend of MCIVTA for even longer. We would like to express both our thanks and our best wishes for his future endeavours.

Peter Brophy (

Mike has been a subscriber to MCIVTA for some considerable time now, and in all truth, is just a genuine match-attending Blue who happened to have a job writing about his team. I’d certainly like to take this opportunity to thank him for the friendship he’s shown us over the years; he was always willing to spend 10 minutes on the phone, write a contribution, or generally help out with advice etc. I wish Mike all the best in his future career.



Port Vale All Stars vs. Manchester City

I could start this report off with a rant about testimonial matches, and what an anachronism they are in the day of the multi-million pound superstar. I heard yesterday that Celtic are to go to That Place as opposition in a testimonial match for the injury prone (at least for friendly internationals) Ryan Giggs. As if he deserves it! But I have always been an admirer of Martin Foyle who played an honest game at Southampton, Oxford and lately Port Vale. He said recently that when he was at Oxford and the manager (a certain B Horton) told him that Port Vale wanted to sign him he declined, thinking that Port Vale was between Port Talbot and Ebbw Vale and that he didn’t want to go to Wales! It may be an apocryphal tale but I somehow think that it could even be true!

Anyway, to move on. We arrived at the imaginatively named Vale Park at 7.00pm to be greeted by the biggest queues seen since a new bag of potatoes arrived at the Moscow Sainsbury’s. Now I know that Foyle is well liked but even I was taken aback. How could such a crowd forsake Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich on TV to watch a mere testimonial, especially as Vale’s normal home crowd is 4-5,000. Could all these be here to witness the visit of a Premiership death-row team? Was there a discount on “Delicious Port Vale Pies” (the mind boggles)? The truth was revealed by the high pitched screeches being heard all round the stadium. “Robbie! Robbie! Robbie!” It wasn’t ex-vale star turned TV analyst (with the emphasis on anal) Robbie Earle or cheeky scally Toxteth lad Robbie Fowler, or even the gormless lad with dog on Eastenders. No this was for the one who has to be called “that bloke from Take That”, Robbie Williams. I dare say that he has a hectic showbiz schedule and all that so fair do’s to him for coming along and swelling the Testimonial Committee coffers, but it did turn the match into a Robbie Williams Night; poor old Martin Foyle was very much second billing and Manchester City were as ever the fall guys and warm up act.

Sadly port Vale had only decided to open their half-built main stand, paddock and behind one goal, which caused the long queues but after a few gripes and groans we all got in. And so to the match. City lined up: Weaver, Charvet, Granville, Dunne, Prior, Wiekens, Whitley, Dunfield, Huckelbuck, Dickov, Kennedy. According to the PA announcement, City subs were Edghill and Gnash. Port Vale had a team of various Port Vale old boys including a somewhat euphemistically “solid” Darren Beckford. Actually he was more hefty than solid and a lot less athletic than in his prime, but good to see him all the same. That bloke from Take That was up front alongside him.

City kicked off on a difficult pitch in total control and went close a few times, in particular through Dickov. However, we kept getting caught offside as our forwards had trouble adjusting to the slowness of the defenders. In one outrageous piece of skill Charvet flicked the ball up and then backheeled it over The bloke from Take That! A partisan pre-pubescent crowd booed Charvet (no change there then). Kennedy was enjoying the freedom of the park and put Whitley through one on one. Fortunately it was at the end where people were seated so it didn’t take too long to recover the ball from Whitley’s shot!

After about half an hour Charvet left to be replaced by Edghill and almost immediately City scored with a screaming shot by Kennedy. I stood to acclaim the goal and was immediately barraged by the local scallies with a shout of “going down going down” etc. Predictable. Equally predictable was that Vale would equalise. The defence dwelled a bit too long and were dispossessed by John McCarthy, who ran through to beat Weaver. This was the cue for the local scallies to run over and start giving me grief! The cheeky monkeys! Poor Nicky had barely touched the ball up to that point, the only attacking efforts had ended with That Bloke from Take That theatrically falling over at the sight of Spencer Prior. Of course the crowd soon had Prior identified as the villain and booed him mercilessly (so no change there either).

So at half time 1-1. Fairly standard testimonial fare and a fairly entertaining match without anybody getting too excited (apart from the 9-year old girls). The teams didn’t bother with half time, just a quick chat out on the touchline, change ends and away we go. Within a minute or two of the restart City were back in front. I cannot tell you what happened but I think it was Dunfield who scored. I was too busy telling the little urchins to Bog Off. Anyway 2-1 up and me smirking at my new found friends(!). By this time the game was beginning to degenerate into a bit of a farce. More and more substitutes came on, including various players who had gone off and come back on. Leon Mike came on for City and was pretty hopeless to be honest, Ostenstad came on and blundered around in his usual way. That bloke from Take That was still falling over every time that Prior went near him and soon enough the ref awarded a spot kick to be taken by said pop-star. Cue waterlogged pitch from multiple wetting of knickers as he stepped up to take the pen. Weaver generously dived out of the way of the shot but it sailed gently over the bar. The PA announced the penalty was to be re-taken and the referee, wary off being lynched by the Stoke on Trent infant school Mafia relented. This time he shot, he scored, and the crowd screeched. My new found pals made my life even more miserable! Now the bloke from Take That had done his job, he was substituted but instead of leaving the pitch to the dugout or tunnel he did his own lap of honour, provoking more knicker wetting and pandemonium.

Meanwhile Ostenstad took advantage of the distraction to run through and score. Hoorah! What a cunning plan! 3-2 and 15 minutes to play! Unfortunately Vale had their own secret weapon and sent on Lee Foyle, 9-year old son of Martin Foyle, and Tony Naylor’s son (sorry, didn’t catch his name). Of course within minutes it was 3-3 with the equaliser by Foyle minor and moments later Vale were awarded another penalty. This time Foyle major converted to put them ahead for the first time in the match and in the last minute Naylor senior came off the bench to score a fifth. On the final whistle the crowd poured onto the pitch but I think most of our players got away safely from the screechers. It is disingenuous to give marks out of 10 for such a game, but I think it showed our club in a good light that they came and provided Premiership opposition in a testimonial for a player who genuinely deserves his night in the spotlight. I hear we shall also play in a testimonial for Earl Barrett at Oldham in August. I would rather we had ten such games than the sham for Dennis Irwin last year, or Ryan Giggs this year (and that is not just an anti-Reds thing, I was equally appalled at testimonials for Dalglish and Rush at Liverpool a few years back).

Jim Curtis (


Port Vale 5 City 3 (Martin Foyle testimonial)

Robbie Williams guested for Vale along with umpteen of their former players and Brian Horton. City played it straight in the first half, and Kennedy hit the post twice before unleashing a corker from 20 yards. Vale equalised with a “genuine” goal (at least I don’t think Dunne intended to get robbed on the edge of his own area), Haaland restored City’s lead with a header, Leon Mike missed a sitter, then Prior “fouled” Robbie Williams, who tried a Di Canio chip from the spot against Weaver but chipped over. As Weaver had already dived to his right, the ref said to retake it and he smashed this one in the corner – I’m not sure Weaver could have saved it!

Williams went off and everyone was watching him go round the pitch (half the crowd of 8,000 were girls come to see him!) and City went and scored while no-one was watching (I was but couldn’t see who scored). By this time the linesman was ignoring 20-yard offsides and the ref gave another penalty for a dodgy handball and Foyle scored (Weaver could have saved it easily). 3-3.

Then two eight-year-olds came on as subs (including Foyle’s son who waltzed round the City defence and beat Weaver) then someone else got another and the ref called time 10 minutes early ’cause the game had been delayed 30 minutes to get the crowds in!

Funny how even in a joke match like this, you don’t like it when the Blues lose! Actually, Robbie Williams (inside forward) showed more movement up front than some of City’s players have done all season. He fell over a few times but did the best pass of the match! And some of City’s defence and shots were so bad that it was like watching the real thing…

£7 toward the testimonial fund, and it was more fun than we got for £27 at Bradford. At least three Blues there! “Here ’cause it’s City, you’re only here ’cause it’s City…”

Steve Parish (


Unless you’ve been party to the top secret fans’ committee meetings to help choose the new home strip, you’ll probably have no idea what’s in store for us when the new strip is launched sometime towards the end of June/early July 2001.

Well, the following is a reply from Maine Road that I got on the topic:

“…Thanks for the e-mail, yes you are quite right it [the new kit] is a secret! However, we have looked at achieving a style that is not fussy, and could be classed as more traditional. The laser blue stays and there is something new for you to look forward to, but as I said that’s a secret!”

Umm, sounds interesting! I just hope the “something new to look forward to” doesn’t relate to anything luminous! Actually, I heard a rumour that we’ll see a bit of black in the new home kit… but that was just a rumour.

James Barber (


I’d like to thank all the MCIVTA readers who have purchased my latest book “Atkinson For England”, and have helped to spread the message (Dave Cash wrote a review of the launch for an earlier MCIVTA). The book has been named Book of the Week in the Telegraph, and I understand it will be featured in The Times in the next week or so. A few complimentary reviews have appeared on (feel free to add more), while Waterstones and Books Etc. branches across the UK have been placing orders which appear to be from City fans who have heard about it on MCIVTA. Thanks for your support. Sportspages in Manchester and London are stocking the book as well. Despite all this, there are a few bookshops (part of a very famous national chain) which have been less than helpful when potential customers have tried to order copies. If anyone has any such problems then either pester them until they give in, or simply contact Sportspages, Waterstones, or Book Etc. who are more receptive to customers’ needs. Details of the book are available on

Now that this has been published, I’ve moved straight on to researching my next book. I hope this will be published next year, although it’s fair to say I have a considerable amount of research to do first. My next book will be a biography of former City and England ‘keeper Frank Swift. I’ve been keen to write about him for several years now, and intend to spend the next few months gathering material etc. If anyone has any stories of meeting Swift, or seeing him play, then please let me know. As he stopped playing for City in the 1940’s it is crucial I hear from people with good stories to tell. In addition, if you have any rare photos or other information concerning his life then please let me know via email. The book will take a good twelve months or so to write, as I am keen this has to be a perfect story, written in a style similar to my biography of Joe Mercer, OBE.

Thanks, Gary James (


From Ken Corfield’s piece on the 7th May: “All other options having failed, he approached Ewood’s ticket office and begged to be let in, and as he was being predictably turned away the door in the back of the ticket office opened and an official handed the girl on the window an envelope, saying ‘these are for Mr. X., he will be along soon to collect them.’ At which point Mr. City fan who’d come a great distance said to his associate, ‘you go up to that window, they haven’t seen you, and just ask the young lady does she have two tickets for Mr X? and see what she says.’ Which is why two Blackburn supporters were probably quite upset last May 7th, even before the result.”

For all we know they could have been two very upset Blues. My mate from the Dublin branch, Paddy Murray, organised two tickets from one of the coaching staff at Ewood Park. When he arrived to pick them up he was told they had already been handed out to somebody else! The story has a happy ending tho’ as Blackburn dug out two tickets for him and Dave Cassidy and they ended up sitting alongside Colin Hendry.

Bartley Ramsay (


I  nspired
P  oaching by
S  haun
W  asted
I  n
C  atastrophic
H  ari-kiri

Steve Maclean (


  1. 4 more games for the extra £30 on season tickets.
  2. Bigger allocations at away games.
  3. Singing at away games by the oposition fans.
  4. The Goat getting 30 goals rather than 29.
  5. SWP terrorising left backs.
  6. Bradford’s chairman insisting that they are as big, if not bigger than us.
  7. Tickets for away games that are less than £30.
  8. Playing our best friends – Gillingham.
  9. Sunny day out to Portsmouth (and Millwall!)?
  10. A new ground – Rotherham.
  11. Local derbies vs. Crewe, Stockport and possibly vs. Bolton and Stoke.
  12. Having by far the best fans in the league (where have I heard that before?).
  13. Mozza playing at MR again (although probably for Sheff Utd).
  14. We can visit the mighty Sheffield Wednesday again.
  15. We can visit Selhust Park twice!

Jeremy Barber (


Am I Blue? Am I Blue?
Ain’t these tears in these eyes tellin’ you?
Am I Blue? You’d be too,
If each plan for your team done fell through,
What a time they are my only one,
But now I’m the sad and lonely one,
Lawdy what a day! Sad to say,
Now we’re down but not through I’m still Blue!

Feelings after Monday’s game, just had to share them…

CTID, Colin Bateman (


Want to know why City got relegated. Two words: Laurent Charvet.

Rob Pickering (


Maybe it is just sour grapes on my part, because if I am honest, City have been heading for relegation since they failed to win at home against the likes of Derby, Leicester, Southampton etc. If you can put your hand on your heart, you have to agree that this team was not good enough, or certainly did not play well enough, to survive in the Premiership. But I cannot help feeling a bit of a niggle that we have been hard done to in certain areas, and cannot dispel from my mind a sort of conspiracy theory. Clearly no-one is going to admit to anything like this, but I cannot help wondering how, after giving City a drubbing mid-week, Arsenal managed to lose at home, to Middlesbrough. And worse, how United, with their wonderful home record, managed to get beaten by Derby, of all teams! Is there something slightly dodgy at work – do the likes of Venables and Steve McClaren have influence? Is there some sort of “old boys’ network” going on? Be interested to hear what anyone else thinks…

John Ramsbottom (


Steve Parish notes (in MCIVTA 707) that Derby “stayed up with Kinkladze in the team”. Well, partially true.

Kinky started in only 14 games this season and was subbed in 7 of those. He appeared 11 times as a sub himself. His goal tally was a princely one. He played at total of 1,471 minutes on the pitch: equivalent to a shade over 16 games. Hardly ever present.

Jim Smith obviously knew of the Kinky curse and made sure that he was injured or unfit to lessen the curse’s effect just enough to allow us to survive another season.

Heartfelt sympathies on your relegation. Thought we were going to be with you.

Martin John – the Derby fan with the Luddite City-supporting friend (


According to the papers and MCIVTA: “Joe Royle has blamed a poor defensive record for Manchester City’s relegation from the Premiership”. It just isn’t that simple. You can have the best defence in the division (which we definitely haven’t), or field a team composed entirely of defenders (which several times this season we very nearly did), but if you have no midfield then you will get overrun week in and week out, leaving the defence exposed. Every good team has to have at least one quality midfielder with a combination of strength, vision and leadership. We haven’t got anyone remotely like that, let alone anybody approaching the ability of a McAllister for example. That is the sort of player we should be looking for – not yet another central defender or Second Division striker.

John Caley – Crowthorne, Berks (


Joe Royle’s a managerial dinosaur. Yes, he got us up from the 2nd and for that I’m sure we’re all grateful. But he’s a relic, a leftover from the times of screaming at players and throwing teacups. Of long balls and commitment. Of huff and puff football.

What was his response to our six game losing streak? Making the players dress smartly in blazers and ties! Blo*dy hell! Even Ron Saunders was a little more forward-thinking than that. You only have to look at the other promoted sides to see where the future lies. Both Charlton and Ipswich have progressive young managers, managers who know the game inside out and who command the respect of their players not by shouting and screaming at them but by their depth of knowledge of the game. Look at Ipswich a few nights ago. How many of their players could you say were that much better than ours on paper? Maybe Bramble, perhaps Armstrong. The rest are largely journeymen. Take Magilton for example. He’s spent the whole of his career doing bu*ger all at places like Oxford and Southampton. John McGreal and Mark Venus ditto. But because Burley’s a forward-thinking, technical manager who knows how best to get players to perform he’s getting these guys playing to the limit of their potential. Royle? He’d make a donkey out of Luis Figo. It’s time Royle was kicked upstairs and we moved for someone like David Moyes before the Rags do. Until we do, we’re never going to be anything but a yo-yo team.

P Conn (


Another season, another relegation. Rather than depressing, I have found it exhausting. All the energy, a little physical, mostly mental, that we put in to supporting our team has come to nought. How many nights did we suffer this last nine months, watching games on Ceefax? How many times did I wait, whilst at work on a Saturday, for text messages from my kids. How many ‘message received’s turned out to be news of opponents’ goals? How much pacing up and down the living room waiting for a goal followed by another two or three from luckier or better, but still hopeless, opponents? How many mornings dreading the scathing newspaper report of the game we just lost? How many times did we play well but lose against the better teams or play badly and lose against bad teams? How many rhetorical questions before you stop reading?

My analysis of the reasons we are going down are:

  1. Big defenders. Big is good in basketball, irrelevant in tiddlywinksand somewhere inbetween in football. We’ve gone for ‘big’ too heavily.
  2. Slow defenders. Slow is bad in basketball, irrelevant in tiddlywinksand very bad in football. Our defenders are slow-moving. You know, likesteam-roller pace.
  3. Uncreative midfielders. Our midfield have worked hard but some idea ofwhat to do with a ball once it has been chased and captured would have beennice.
  4. Scoreless midfielders. How many goals in total from Grant, Wiekens,Whitley, Kennedy, SWP and Haaland?
  5. Bad luck/refereeing. Excuses, excuses but we were unlucky that KH wasinjured for so long because at least he can score the odd goal. We did getbad breaks in games against hapless opponents too, although bad luck is howa mug excuses his losses.
  6. Bad transfer. The Weah transfer, in and out, was a disaster. If we’dnever have got him we would have been better off but once we did have him weshould have tried harder to keep him. Joe could have dealt more cleverly withthe old man. His leaving was very bad for team/supporter/club morale. Idon’t think we recovered from it.
  7. Good transfer. Did we buy anyone any good, the whole year? Anyonebetter than that which we had had the year before? Anyone more effectivethan Jobson was? Anyone as creative as Bishop? Don’t think so although wedid buy bigger players we didn’t buy better ones (see point 1 above).

It’s dismaying to be going down especially because so many poor teams are staying up. I didn’t notice any difference in quality between the better teams in the 1st Division and most of the Premier League. I’m not surprised that Ipswich have done well this season. They will finish top of the virtually separate mediocre league within a league (Liverpool, Arsenal, Leeds, MU plc and Chelsea excused). We could have done that. A couple of better players and we’d have been there.

For the same reason, I don’t think we’re at all certain to ‘bounce straight back’ next season. We’ll be competing against a lot of teams with equally good (bad?) players. We have been here before and we have not always done the required bouncing (even, I may remind you, in the old days when we were ‘far too good to go down’ – nobody could possibly suggest we were far too good to go down this time).

Oh well. Energy banks restored, I’ll see you all in August.

Simon Fink (


Well others are posting their opinions on the team for the 1st division… here is my opinion.

From the players we have – the team that ought to start the first game in Division 1:

Haaland    Dunne         Howey(C)  Granville
SWP        Whitley       Horlock   Tiatto
           The Goat      Huckerby

Subs: Weaver, Kennedy or Cooke, Ritchie, Ostenstad or Dickov, Wiekens.

This of course, depends on these players all still being at Maine Road come the start of the season. Based on comments by David Bernstein, I am assuming that we’re not going to bring in many new players, if any at all… and I think that makes sense – unless a real not-to-be-missed opportunity comes up, such as Lee Dixon being made available.

Some remarks:

Weaver has to prove he deserves to regain his position as first choice ‘keeper; perhaps over the summer he will put in the effort required. It’s entirely up to him now but unless he is totally lazy and disinterested, then we would be mad to let him go – unless perhaps we get a £5 million+ offer.

Haaland perhaps has been disappointing, but his least bad position is right back, and the alternatives are Charvet and Edgy. I can’t see either of those two still being at Maine Road come August. I’m afraid that Prior has done what he came to do – perhaps he is good as a backup, but otherwise I think he has to go.

Give Stevie Howey the captain’s armband, anyway. In any case, I think the Granville/Tiatto combination has to be the first choice combination, the second choice being Tiatto/Kennedy.

I’d love to see Terry Cooke being given a chance to show what he can do, but somehow don’t see it happening at this moment. If he does get his opportunity and proves himself, then I’d possibly see him start and SWP come on later to add some speed.

Up front, I am working on the assumption that Wanchope will go. If he stays then he could start with Huckerby on the bench but I think the above is more likely. Huckerby hasn’t really shown what he can do, but I think next season he could be dynamite if he gets a decent run in the first team. Likewise the Goat – he wasn’t top scorer in Division 1 last season for nothing!

Horlock is in because he is the best midfield passer of the ball we have right now. We have now got a season to find a real class midfielder for when we’re back in the Premiership for 2002/2003, but I recognise that this is a long-term job. No quick fix solutions will work now. Grant hasn’t proved himself over two seasons, so we should listen to any offers. I forgot about Kanchelskis, perhaps I don’t need to say anything else!

I haven’t mentioned Chris Shuker… others have mentioned that this is the time to give him a try. I don’t really think that he should be pitched into the team full-on. The use of Shaun Wright-Phillips this season has been sensible – I don’t see the benefit in putting a young player into a struggling side – it won’t help his development. Likewise I think we need to see how the next season starts before knowing whether we can afford to blood youngsters. Perhaps we could use the League Cup games to do this.

Hope that helps discussions!

Euan Bayliss (


Until the Ipswich game I’d been one of those people who thought we should retain JR’s services. But bringing on Prior was the last straw (my mate and I could not believe that Goater, Huckerby and Kennedy were on the bench when we needed to win). The poor reading of the game has been endemic all season (remember taking off Kanchelskis against Spurs so the whole pattern had to change?). The lack of a quality midfielder has been obvious to Maine Road regulars as well as significant parts of the press for the whole season – but Royle has insisted on selecting the same journeymen week in, week out. Just how badly does Haaland have to play to get dropped? In The Times a couple of Saturdays ago it was mentioned that this guy is no captain. I am still puzzled as to why Cooke has never been given a chance; I suspect that whatever he does he’ll never be selected. It’s that kind of bad management that gives cause for concern (having favourites). Plus, can anyone recall any of Royle’s teams which had a good midfielder – and wasn’t just full of ‘dogs of war’? I now think it’s a great shame we didn’t go for Vialli – at least we’d have had players who can pass to each other and know how to run off the ball and into gaps.

Still, renewed my season ticket – somehow it doesn’t feel as good going into Division 1 from the Premiership as it did from Division 2!

Ian Burgess (


I ended up watching the game at home, alone. Perhaps as well, because the atmosphere in the pub would not have been good. Thought City defended well in the first half but when they needed to most, after Goater’s goal, they were found sadly lacking.

Personally, I’d cash in on Weaver and Wanchope, and offload Grant, Wiekens, Haaland, Charvet and maybe one or two others to reduce the wage bill. The money from Weaver and Wanchope (assuming they still have a decent value after this season!) should be used prudently (in Joe’s dictionary?!) to purchase a couple of ball-playing midfielders and a goal scorer or two. Ostenstad would be OK for the First Division but I’m not convinced he is the long-term answer.

Wright-Phillips will probably be a regular next year and with Mike, Shuker, Dunfield, Killen and Day pressing for places, I do not feel as bad as perhaps I might after relegation.

Build a team around Nash, Dunne, Howey, Kennedy and Tiatto and I think we’ll be there or thereabouts at the end of next season. I sincerely hope none of these five is pinched by a Premier team.

Martin (


Fellow Blues, here’s an observation which fits eminently into the read and forget category – but what the heck. With one match remaining, we’ve only been doubled by 3 teams this season. Two of them are those that came up from Division 1 with us. How could we let this happen? Simply maintaining our relative form – and relative is the key word here – against these 2 teams from 1999/2000 gives us 5 more points and, in all likelihood, survival in the Premiership. Obviously they improved – particularly Ipswich – why couldn’t we? Any anoraks out there care to count up “doubles against” for the other 19 teams? Along with our away record, this may be one of the few bright spots in the season. I usually get over for a game every year. What’s the betting that the date will correspond with Rotherham at home! Here’s to a swift return to where we belong.

Best to all, Martin Smith – Victoria BC (


Recent results to 09 May 2001 inclusive.

8 May 2001

Liverpool             2 - 2  Chelsea               43,588

7 May 2001

Ipswich Town          2 - 1  Manchester City       25,004

League table to 09 May 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  36 15  2  2 49 12  9  6  2 28 14 24  8  4 77 26  51  80
 2 Arsenal         36 15  3  1 45 13  5  6  6 16 22 20  9  7 61 35  26  69
 3 Liverpool       37 13  4  2 40 14  6  5  7 27 25 19  9  9 67 39  28  66
 4 Ipswich Town    37 11  5  3 31 15  9  0  9 25 26 20  5 12 56 41  15  65
 5 Leeds United    36  9  3  5 27 19  9  5  5 28 22 18  8 10 55 41  14  62
 6 Chelsea         37 13  3  3 44 20  3  7  8 22 24 16 10 11 66 44  22  58
 7 Sunderland      37  9  7  3 24 16  6  4  8 20 23 15 11 11 44 39   5  56
 8 Aston Villa     37  8  8  3 27 20  5  7  6 19 20 13 15  9 46 40   6  54
 9 Charlton Ath.   37 11  5  2 31 15  3  5 11 19 38 14 10 13 50 53  -3  52
10 Leicester City  37 10  4  5 28 23  4  2 12 10 25 14  6 17 38 48 -10  48
11 Newcastle Utd   36  9  3  5 23 17  4  5 10 18 33 13  8 15 41 50  -9  47
12 Tottenham H.    37 10  6  2 28 15  2  4 13 16 38 12 10 15 44 53  -9  46
13 Southampton     36  9  2  6 22 19  3  8  8 13 26 12 10 14 35 45 -10  46
14 West Ham United 37  6  6  7 24 20  4  6  8 20 28 10 12 15 44 48  -4  42
15 Everton         37  6  7  5 27 25  5  1 13 16 32 11  8 18 43 57 -14  41
16 Derby County    37  8  6  4 22 23  2  5 12 14 35 10 11 16 36 58 -22  41
17 Middlesbrough   37  3  7  8 16 22  5  8  6 26 21  8 15 14 42 43  -1  39
18 Manchester City 37  4  3 11 19 29  4  7  8 21 34  8 10 19 40 63 -23  34
19 Coventry City   37  4  6  8 14 23  4  3 12 22 40  8  9 20 36 63 -27  33
20 Bradford City   36  4  7  8 20 29  1  3 13  9 35  5 10 21 29 64 -35  25

With thanks to Football 365


Contributions: Ashley –
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]Ashley Birch,

Newsletter #708