Newsletter #723

The response to last week’s sparse issue has been impressive to say the least. Although once again there is precious little on the news front, there is plenty to read and discuss in this issue.

Next game: Halifax Town away, Saturday 21st July 2001 (3.00pm)


General Stuff

Fixture changes are coming thick and fast since the TV scheduling was announced last week. Rather than bore you with an intricate spreadsheet of facts, here is a simple breakdown of what’s changed.

Watford (h), still Saturday 11th August, but now kick off is at 6.15pm, live OnDigital. Burnley (a) still on Bank Holiday Monday 27th, but now kicking off at 6.15pm. Birmingham (h) still September 15th, now kicking off at 12.30pm. Nottingham Forest (a) was Saturday October 28th, now Sunday 29th, kick off 6.15pm. Barnsley (a) was Tuesday 30th October, now Wednesday 31st. Finally Bradford City (h) was December 15th, is now Sunday 16th 2.00pm kick off. Live on regional TV.

Costa Rica benefited from the presence of Paulo Wanchope on Sunday. Paulo scored the opening goal against Honduras in the CONCACAF World Cup section. Costa Rica are joint top with the USA and are likely to qualify for the finals, as the top three will go through.

Kevin Keegan this week hinted that he will now be more inclined to start Shaun Goater with Paulo Wanchope as his first choice strike partnership next season. It’s also thought that Darren Huckerby may be given the problem right-sided midfield berth that we have missed since Terry Cooke was patrolling it.

City’s Academy will be in even further European action over the next few weeks. An Academy under-15 squad will play against the likes of Germany’s Stuttgart and Borussia Dortmund. Serbia’s (?) Red Star Belgrade, Feyenoord of Holland, Switzerland’s FC Grasshoppers and also the Swiss and Liechtenstein national teams. An under-14 squad will play in Cologne and compete against Schalke and teams from Bremen and Prague and finally, which will be more of a pointer to the current crop of youngsters coming through, an Academy squad will play in an Under-21 tournament against Wrexham, Aston Villa and some outfit called Juventus. Back in Manchester, City will host games against youth teams from Qatar.

City apparently have a fighting fund of up to £7 million for the next season. This has been boosted by the £2 million sale of Mark Kennedy to Wolves and by £700,000 from the Spencer Prior deal.

Bizarre late news regarding Prior’s signing for Cardiff, in that one of the terms of his deal is that he may have to have a sexual encounter with a sheep! One of the points of the contract was that said that Prior must have physical liaisons with a sheep and eat sheep’s testicles and brains, not after the first date though I imagine. Sam Hamman, the Cardiff chairman, appears to have carried the peculiar charm he exuded at Wimbledon with him to the Welsh capital.

Ins, Outs, Rumours

Reserve ‘keeper has agreed terms with Swindon Town: Richard McKinney, 22, who was recommended to the club by Tommy Wright, has failed to make an impact on the first team and was to be released by Joe Royle. Keegan’s and more importantly Carlo Nash’s arrivals have led to his chances of a first team call up being extremely limited. No fee has been discussed.

City appear to be moving closer to a deal with Simon Colisimo, the Australian international. It’s reported that the defender has been playing as a right back in recent times and as a problem position for City, this is the reason for our interest. The player’s agent had been hoping to tie up a deal this weekend but as of yet nothing further has been announced; any of you Aussie based Blues know anything about Colisomo’s form since his injury then let us know.


Nicky Summerbee is being tracked by First Division Portsmouth, supposedly as an alternative to that other disappointing winger, Lee Sharpe.

Michael Leafield (


Given the lack of football action during the close season, we decided to have a family outing to the long-awaited National Football Museum. Three generations of us went and there was something for everybody.

The museum is divided into “first half” and “second half”, the former being the history of the game over the past 150 years. This is superb, and provides a social history along with some truly incredible facts and wonderful items from private collections. Of course MCFC get a few mentions – from the 1904 club endorsement of Oxo, the infamous Billy Meredith, Maine Road and on to the inflatables craze of the 1980s.

Wandering around with my dad and uncle, it was wonderful to see them (the, erm, older generation) reminiscing and hearing the stories of the legends they saw play. From the one and only true gent (Sir) Tom Finney to (Sir) Stanley Matthews – when you look at the England team now, with our assortment of one-trick wonders, it’s no wonder nationally we have achieved nothing for years. The video footage of some of the games makes me realise how lucky they were to see such players “live”; we can only dream of seeing some of that skill for ourselves. Unless, of course, Mr Keegan is replaying the videos to the boys over the summer.

The second half is a hands-on exhibition which kids of all ages will enjoy. From commentary in a MotD mock-up (a must-do) to video-replay table football (the Blues won), reviews and the progression of the beautiful game over the years. There is also an art gallery, and a special area for PNE as one of the founders of the Football League. A special exhibition area – currently on Wembley – includes the infamous crossbar of the 1966 world cup final. This area will obviously change, and I understand that next year they are exhibiting the 1966 world cup campaign.

We spent over 4 hours there and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. The only criticism was that there was just too much to take in! It really is well worth the visit for any football fan and so very well done. Entrance is £20 for a family of 4, £7 for adults and £5 for concessions, with various rates for schools and groups. There are a couple of good pubs up the road so you can go out at half-time and come back for more – the on site cafe didn’t run to chips, pies, and pints. Get there sooner rather than later, before it becomes too popular and overcrowded!

Heidi Pickup (


Followed up a link from NTK (PC-related gossip newsletter) and got this from Cardiff City FC. Can’t believe it’s not tongue-in-cheek but you never know…

28 June 2001: Spencer Prior will sign today

Spencer Prior should officially become a player today following the completion of the transfer from Manchester City. The deal has been finalised and the player should sign today at 10 o’clock. The contract for the player was received at the Football League and the P.F.A. with a number of additions. Some of the major points within the contract is he must have a physical liaison with a sheep; also he will eat sheep’s testicles. These additions have been cleared by the F.A. and will be in the contract that Spencer will sign at 10 am this morning. We would like to take this opportunity to welcome Spencer as a new member of the club’s family.

It appears to be genuinely from the Cardiff City website – check it out yourself:

Mike Clarkson, CTID (


The County Wicklow branch of the Manchester City Official Supporters’ Club will be having their A.G.M. on Tuesday 3rd July in Katie Gallagher’s in Bray; kick off is at 8pm. As usual any Blues who might find themselves in the Wicklow or Greater Dublin area on the night would be very welcome to join us for a few beers after the meeting.

Paul Fegan (


Whilst there is little other solid news on the ground, I thought I’d just bring everyone up to speed on the tribute campaign. The committee have been working hard over the last few months to make the campaign the success it deserves to be and to all those people who have helped us may I offer a heartfelt thanks. We couldn’t have got this far without the support of McV readers and supporters’ club branches everywhere. The fund has received donations from quite a few supporters’ club branches, including a couple of international gifts. I hope people will keep sending those in and help to keep making the fund grow. We are pleased now to announce a couple more forthcoming events. On Sunday 22nd July a game is to be held at Mossley FC, Seel Park, Market St, Mossley. This will be Mossley vs. Manchester City Veterans and kicks off at 12:00 noon(ish). A star-studded line up have promised to turn up and play including ‘King’ Colin Bell who will kick the match off and be available to sign autographs and Neil Young himself who will play until he drops! Also rumoured to be playing are Alex Williams, Willie Donachie, Kevin Reeves, Peter Barnes, Asa Hartford, Paul Power and either one of or both of the Beckford brothers. For the kids amidst all this nostalgia Moonchester will be providing his usual mayhem. There will be food and liquid refreshment available all afternoon. The price for this football extravaganza is £4 for adults and ‘kids for a quid’. There will be a half time raffle with a couple of prizes that any true Blue would love to have. Best of all is that all gate proceeds will go to the Neil Young Tribute Fund.

The ground has a capacity of 2,000 so it would be great if we could fill it and not only make some money but turn Mossley Blue for the day. Reddish CSA are holding a sportsman’s dinner in aid of the tribute fund on 21st September 2001. Details are available from Howard Burr, branch sec., but he has promised that there will be a couple of big name guests on the evening.

Now the event that everyone has been asking about. The main gala dinner! We are currently in negotiation with a couple of venues and are hoping to make the final announcement in the next few days. Tentatively the committee are looking to late November to hold the event. Keep watching this space! Support so far has been magnificent and I know Neil is deeply moved by all the good wishes he has been getting. So please carry on supporting us and make the campaign a real success for a man who was not only a great player but a truly great guy as well.

David Cash, Chair of the Neil Young Tribute Committee (


It is the silly season indeed and it is very strange to make arrangements for Saturday afternoon without worrying about football. I know we go through this every year but it doesn’t get any easier to get used to. Ernie Whalley’s dream was alarming. I’ve had several City dreams before but none as strange as one I had in the mid eighties. I was at a game at Maine Road when I was suddenly transported onto the pitch, which promptly became smaller, more suited to five-a-side than an important game at Maine Road. Neil McNab, I think it was, sent me clear in acres of space on the right and I squared the ball for Paul Stewart, who side-footed confidently into the corner. Me, Paul and Imre Varadi went over to celebrate with the fans, but they had become plastic figures. The three of us kind of shrugged our shoulders at each other and that was it, but I woke up feeling pleased that I’d made some kind of contribution to the cause. The alarming part of this dream was that I was already about 20 years old and my sub-conscious should have known better by that age! Any interpretations? Any other City-related dreams?

Daniel Marcus (


I was at a hockey game last month watching the New Jersey Devils vs. The Pittsburgh Penguins in NJ with a few mates of mine. We had been drinking that morning and during the game so we were well on our way. Had my usual NJ shirt and of course City hat on at the time of the crime that was about to happen.

Anyway, after the 2nd period I tell my mates I am going for another pint, so I walk out into the beer line area. I noticed standing against the wall outside was this bald lad who looked like he just did not belong (he looked really bored). I remember thinking I know that face. So I get my beer and start back to my seat when it hits me that he looks just like Barthez the Rags’ goalie. I am walking past him and I say word for word now “you look just like that t@#t that plays for the Rags”. He looked at me and and took a step back and said something in French (this is when it hit me it was really him). All kind of things started going through my mind, specially being drunk and thinking I could get away with anything. Anyway I start to give him a little stick about the Rags when his girlfriend who speaks good English appears and grabs hold of me and tells me to leave him alone. I told her I was not bothering him and this made her even worse; that’s when security stepped in and dragged me outside. Funny how something can happen out of nothing, I did yell all kind of abuse at him when they were dragging me out. He’s probably thinking I cannot go anywhere without some Blue giving me stick (I hope).

Jon Sedgewick (Sedgwick@IMGWORLD.COM)


As Ernie was asking for some input I thought I’d drag some memories from the scrambled egg I call a brain and share them. They are in no particular order and appear as they popped up.

My first game: Away to Bolton in the League Cup. We lost (3-0 I think). I’d only ever been to Stockport County before and had never seen a crowd like it. I was about 13 or 14 so it must have been about 1972. Abiding memories are the absolute fear I felt because, in the days before proper crowd segregation, the City and Bolton fans were in the same end, separated by a thin blue line of policemen who were playing piggy (no pun intended) in the middle as both sets of fans attacked each other. Oh yeah! Being near bonfire night they were sharing lighted fireworks with each other. The other thing I remember was Burnden Park’s unusual raised pitch. Being near the front I seem to remember almost looking up at the pitch to see loads of legs running around.

A game against Leeds at MR. On the same day a bird with a big bill (no not the missus), I think it was a Stork, had escaped from Belle Vue Zoo. It was perched on the roof of the Platt Lane Stand. City attacked and as the cross came in and was cleared some wag pointed at the big nosed bird and shouted “Blo*dy hell! Look how high Mike Summerbee got for that one.”

Bovril from the urn trolleys trundled round the pitch perimeter at half-time.

Some gangly ginger bloke I’d never heard of, playing for some Polish team I’d never heard of (Widzew Lodz) scoring (was it 2 or 3?) against us in a home draw after we’d qualified for the UEFA Cup by winning the League Cup in 1976. We went out on away goals after drawing in Poland 0-0. Oh yeah! The ginger bloke? … Zbigniew Boniek.

Being at Wembley in ’76. Dennis Tueart’s overhead kick against Newcastle. Staying at my mate Mick’s house on the Friday night before the match. Getting the Fingland’s coach to Wembley early Saturday. Drinking cans of beer all day. Getting home late on Saturday (very drunk). Getting up Sunday morning and asking how my ill grandad (her dad, the man who introduced me to going to football matches, who took me to Stockport’s home games – Friday nights in those days – from the age of 5 or 6 up to me defecting to City) was. “Your grandad died on Friday night” she said. “Why didn’t you come over to Mick’s and tell me?” I screamed at her. “Because it would have served no other purpose than to ruin your big day,” she replied. That was the day I realised how selfless a mother’s love is. Despite the grief at the loss of her dad, she knew if she told me I wouldn’t have gone. And she wanted me to.

Rodney Marsh’s overhead kick at home to QPR to win the game 1-0 (never seen on telly ’cause cameras weren’t at all games in those days). I can still remember it as if it was yesterday and still rate it as one of the best goals I have ever seen. Not for the importance or occasion but for sheer technique.

The same Rodney taking on Frank McLintock down by the Kippax, feigning to nutmeg him and then turning and flicking the ball with his heel to actually execute the said nutmeg. We were down at the front of the Kippax and I can still hear Rodney laughing as he ran away from the hapless Scot who shouted after him “I’ll break your f***ing legs you c***”. Maybe that’s why there is so much friction between them on Skysports!

Final match of the season at Selhurst Park when Palace were due to meet the Rags in the FA Cup Final and the police allowed the City fans on the pitch at half-time with a big Good Luck Palace banner, and a party on the pitch at the end.

Peter Barnes’ one on one with Pat Jennings at the North Stand End. Jennings on the edge of the box, Peter making to side-foot the ball past him. Jennings diving and Peter still having the ball at his feet, then chipping it over the prostrate ‘keeper into the net.

Joe Corrigan’s “Better than Banks vs. Pele” save against Leeds in the FA Cup at Elland Road. Leeds fans later invading the pitch to make an equally abortive attempt to get the game abandoned as the Swamp-dwellers did when Denis Law’s back-heel put them down.

Well that’ll do for now.

If you’re not too bored I’ll do Edition II soon.

CTID, David kilroy (


One of the wittiest things I’ve ever read in this storied publication came from a Blue who doubled as an amateur marketing genius. He suggested a pretty slick campaign for our then-new shirt sponsors Kappa. Went something like this…

Best Team In the World: Barcelona

Best Player In the World: Ronaldo

Best Fans In The World: Manchester City.

I’ll probably messing up the best team and player part, because I can’t recall exactly who was wearing what in Serie A and Spain and who was playing where in 1997. But that last bit?

Couldn’t be more true.

I put out a request in the last issue for directions from Gatwick to Norwich in August. My inbox was promptly filled with about 20 helpful responses.

As my long-lost favourite Uwe Rösler once said over and over in a end-of-season video, as if it was the only English he knew: “I love this football club.”

Marc Stein, Dallas Blue, Irving, Texas (


I don’t know if Simon Hattenstone reads McVittie but if he does can I congratulate him on his review of David Shindler’s latest book – the one on the Summerbee family – in last Saturday’s Grauniad.

Not that I’ve read the book. After my experience with the appalling MURML where I made the mistake of buying not one but two, one as a present (my son-in-law must think I hate him) I think I’ll wait until it appears in a church fête lucky bag before I add the Buzzer saga to my collection of — fete City-related trivia. Simon’s trenchant criticism of Shindler’s prose style certainly applies to the earlier book.

Lastly, I’m absolutely staggered the new tome isn’t called “Manchester United Ruined Our Nicky”.

Ernie Whalley (


Can’t say I am that enthused by what has gone on. Keegan was appointed while I was on holiday and, as do a lot of people, I worry about his staying power when the going gets tough. Secondly, signing Stuart Pearce at 39 years old makes us seem a very inferior outfit, and besides we did have a true captain and a leader in Andy Morrison. I also would be disappointed if Pearce took Granville’s position as I for one think since Granville came back he has played well. Danny Tiatto is a player we must not let go. Also as a fan of Mark Kennedy I am sorry to see him go. As I have said before, watching the videos of the season’s matches, he had a lot of input into goals and to be truthful he did not get much chance to show whether he could do it in the Premiership, first Royle not playing him and then getting injured. I think he did have a confidence problem on whether he was good enough for the Premiership, having failed at other clubs. I also think that he has been made the scapegoat for the drunken antics and as everybody knows there are others in the squad who enjoy the same type of liquid refreshment! So, what does Keegan need to do? Enforce discipline, professionalism, bring some of the young players through, play attacking football and of course it would be a bonus if we could get promotion. OK Kev – over to you.

Elaine Taylor (


What’s worse than watching City get relegated? Answer – watching a video re-run of City getting relegated. Saddo that I am, I’ve just finished watching my own video of 6 hours of City ‘highlights’. Were we really that bad? It’s taken me over a month to get through the tape because it’s just so depressing. Match after match of frantic defending, limited ball control, lack of flair, Joe Royle moaning about the refs, bad luck, Nicky Weaver and Trevor Brooking saying “it’s City’s home form that’s letting them down”. Highlight of the tape has to be Derby County away, but only because I spotted myself in the crowd.

Anyway, with all the ballyhoo of Keegan’s appointment, I don’t think anyone’s written an assessment of how the individual players performed over the season. So, for what it’s worth and having just watched it all again, here’s my review of the players’ performances or if you prefer, non-performances.

Weaver (5) Didn’t get off to a great start with 2 mistakes in the opening game at Charlton. Very few high points. Took a lot of praise after the Arsenal game, yet still conceded 5. In all, counted 8 goals conceded that were directly attributed to Weaver. Most costly was probably the equaliser at Coventry. A win there at that crucial time of the season could have made all the difference. Worse mistake was the Villa equaliser when he attempted to dribble past Dublin only to fall over. Still a great ‘keeper when confronted by an onrushing forward. Would back him to win every time in a one-on-one situation. Finally dropped after conceding a soft goal from a corner at Everton. Unfortunate, as he’d had his best game for ages and had just made a great save that resulted in the fateful corner. Would still like to see him reinstated as number 1 choice next season though.

Nash (6) Took a lot of praise after taking over late from Weaver and made some great saves vs. West Ham in particular. However, nearly conceded a howler when deep into injury time; he spilled a soft shot from Di Canio straight into the path of Todorov who missed a sitter. If that had been Weaver in goal, no doubt West Ham who have scored and Weaver blamed for relegating City. Also felt he should have stopped the winner from Hasselbaink in the final game.

Edghill (4) Dropped after the howler of an og vs. Coventry. Didn’t like the way Royle blamed the fans for dropping him. Straight after the goal, the Kippax gave him a rousing cheer of encouragement. Royle replaced him at half-time, stripped him of his captaincy, played him in only a couple of games all season and blamed his form on City’s fans. Sure he makes mistakes, but has on many occasions added an exciting attacking option to City’s forward plays. Would like to see him given another chance next season.

Charvet (2) Awful. Probably Joe Royle’s worst buy. Lacked pace, positional sense and attacking flair. Couldn’t defend and showed nothing in attack. Only half-decent game was probably the away match at Old Trafford, but only because he’d been given a clearly defined and limited defensive rôle. Hope he’s not around come next season.

Granville (6) Improved as the season went on. With Tiatto moving further up field and Ritchie out injured made the left back spot his own. Not at fault individually for any goal, but then didn’t make any either.

Ritchie (5) Only played in a few games and showed nothing special.

Howey (8) I wasn’t happy that Royle signed him a couple of days before the Charlton match and played him, even though he’d not even had the chance to train with his new team mates. The defence was in complete disarray and set us up for a bad season. Howey though recovered from the nightmare start and was by far City’s best defender throughout the season. Great positional play, won nearly everything in the air and good distribution. Did make a few clumsy/late challenges but with so much dross around him, he must have felt he was defending wave after wave of attacks on his own.

Dunne (6) Not the great defensive signing we needed when bought midway through the season from Everton reserves. Embarrassingly overweight for a professional footballer, he was just about better than Prior but totally outclassed by the fast, skilful attackers of the Premiership. Involved in the most bizarre goal of the season when his attempted clearance hit a Charlton forward and looped over Weaver from 30 yards out. Should be better suited to Division 1 next season.

Prior (4) Failed to make the step back up to Premiership football. Constantly beaten by faster or taller opposing strikers. Plain to see why he’d been dropped from Derby’s team the previous season. Not obviously at fault for the vital Ipswich equaliser but his arrival unsettled the defence, which had previously restricted Ipswich to zero chances. Definitely at fault for the second goal, where he allowed the winger acres of space to cross for the winner. Can’t forgive him for that and glad he’s gone.

Morrison (4) Played very few games. Made a terrible mistake in the home thrashing by Leeds when he carelessly gave the ball away to Wilcox for Leeds to score an easy goal. Struggled with injury most of the season and didn’t play again after being substituted in the Liverpool cup-tie. At least Royle gave him the chance to play in the Premiership. Just a pity that he didn’t take it.

Haaland (6) Big disappointment. Was heaped with praise when Royle made him his first signing of the season, and I was really looking to seeing him in action. Started pre-season at centre half and looked very shaky. Moved to midfield when Howey arrived and started quite well. Had a big influence in the victory over Sunderland, creating the first goal, but disappointed against Coventry. Moved to right back when Edghill was dropped and this looked to be his best position. Moved back into midfield with Charvet’s appearance mid-season where his performances can best be described as poor. Was often ‘missing’ for long periods of the game and certainly did not display any attributes of a ‘leader’ when the captaincy was bestowed upon him. At the beginning of the season he said his best position was midfield. Now I read that he reckons it’s centre half. Maybe he’s realised his own limitations. I hope he plays in defence next season where he should do well in Division 1.

Whitley (8) Put in some great performances and one of a few who made the step up to the higher level. Showed great battling qualities and tremendous fitness, covering more of the pitch in one game than Haaland did all season. Only weakness is his ability to play a quality through pass that splits open the defence. If he could show greater composure on the ball then he could become one of the top midfield players in the country. Alas, at the moment he’s still in with the pack.

Wiekens (6) Didn’t really do badly, but played in the position for most of the season that has been identified at City’s biggest weakness – centre midfield. Scored a great goal vs. Leeds but failed to show any flair in attack. Can’t play a pass more than 20 yards and does not have the ability to play the incisive ball needed to open up the tight defence. Did okay defensively but City really did need much more from such an important position.

Grant (2) Rivals Charvet for Royle’s worst buy, but runner-up due to him being a lot cheaper. Way off the pace in most of the games he played, he should have been sold when West Brom/Barnsley wanted him. Hope he’s gone by next season.

Horlock (6) Looked off the pace to begin with, but after being dropped, he returned with some much improved performances and for a while, looked to be City’s most effective midfield player. Shame injury finished his season so early.

Tiatto (9) Remarkable transformation for a player who didn’t even make the squad for the Gillingham play-off in ’99. Easily City’s best player and most effective when playing in an attacking left midfield rôle. Scored a great goal vs. Middlesbrough, which was cruelly disallowed, and Wright-Phillips apart, was City’s most exciting player going forward. Still has a tendency to be reckless with his challenges in defence, but showed a determination to win every challenge that put the likes of Haaland, Grant and Charvet to shame. The TV highlights identified a lack of goal assists but he still takes my vote for Player of the Year.

Dickov (7) Good early season form saw him force his way into the Scotland team and keep George Weah out of the team. Does a useful job chasing down the opposing defenders. Defending from the front is obviously a tactic that Royle/Donachie preferred and one that Weah didn’t want to know. With a bit of improvement in the finishing part of his game, he could still have a big rôle to play next season.

Wanchope (6) Failed to match the high expectations raised after his early season hat-trick vs. Sunderland. Did anyone else notice that 2 of the late goals in that game came after Steve Bould had come on as sub to mark him? Bould’s response was to immediately retire from the game as he realised he would never reach his previous fitness levels. So perhaps we were misled by that initial excitement. Played some great games early on and can contribute to the team much more than simply scoring goals. Often though his contribution would be to beat a couple of players before losing the ball or even losing the ball straight away through clumsy control. Fell out with Royle, but then who hasn’t? I’m sure his game will improve greatly under Keegan and I’m sure he’ll do well for us next season.

Goater (7) Has improved considerably since I once gave him 0 out of 10 in the dark days of Division 2. Shame he missed the early part of the season through injury. Coming back and missing a ‘sitter’ against Arsenal didn’t help either. Gradually though his performances improved and showed he can score goals at the highest level. Hope he sticks around next season, although I don’t expect him to be first choice.

Huckerby (5) Big disappointment. Scored a great goal vs. Birmingham in the cup, but that was about it. Brought with him the form that saw him in Leeds reserves, rather than the exciting performances of his Coventry days. Wouldn’t be surprised if he’s one of Keegan’s early season casualties, but if he can bring back his old form he could develop a lethal partnership with Wanchope.

Kennedy (4) The standard of the defending was far higher than Division 1, and I don’t recall Kennedy having the better of a full back all season (well maybe West Ham at home). Not helped by Royle’s decision to narrow the pitch at Maine Road (that proved a good move didn’t it!). Kennedy displayed the form that explained why both Liverpool and Wimbledon failed to play him. A real shame he failed to make the grade, as at times in Division 1, he was a very exciting player to watch. However, based on his performances last season, I’m not disappointed that he’s gone.

Wright-Phillips (7) At times he was City’s best player. Has immense skill and reminds me of Michael Owen with his ability to run with the ball at pace at defenders. Pity, he can’t finish like him though. I hope Keegan rates him, because he’s City’s most exciting player since Kinkladze.

Kanchelskis (6) Didn’t set the team alight as Royle had hoped, and has obviously lost a lot of his pace. Had he been watched before Royle signed him? Nevertheless, he often looked the most dangerous forward only to fall victim to Royle’s increasingly baffling substitutions. Glad he left as this could have hindered Wright-Phillips’ progress.

Ostenstad (4) Another strange signing by Royle. Obviously not match fit, it was always unlikely that he would make the transition from Blackburn reserve to City’s saviour. Missed a ‘sitter’ in his first game and fell out of favour once Dickov and Wanchope had recovered from injuries.

Weah (7) I was very disappointed when he left. Ok, so he wasn’t the George Weah of old, but if he could have been encouraged to accept a ‘Super-sub’ rôle it may have made all the difference to the season. May not have chased after the ball like Dickov but showed the class touches that opens the top defences. Watching the TV highlights again shows how Weah was involved in many of City’s early season goals. Great goal vs. Liverpool, excellent performance at Gillingham and a brilliant twist and layoff to Wanchope in the Spurs away match are moments that stand out. He accepted the occasional match rôle at Chelsea the previous season. Pity he could not do the same at City.

Royle (3) Wasn’t able to adapt to the different style of football in the Premiership. Battling it out in the trenches mentality doesn’t win Premiership matches and doesn’t make for entertaining football. Bought too many rejects from other Premiership teams and it only follows that you are going to struggle. Where were the up and coming eager players from the lower leagues that Royle had promised? He couldn’t get the best out of flair players – Weah, Wanchope, Cooke and before that Kinkladze. I’m glad his weaknesses have been identified by the City board as has the appalling scouting system that resulted in Royle’s reject buys.

So after chasing the return of Premiership football for the previous four seasons did I enjoy City’s return to the top flight? No, not one bit. But I still dream that Keegan will take us back at the first attempt.

Colin Jonas (


I don’t write often but this is something that has been bugging me for years. We’ve finished the last 20 seasons (and I thought this was a Swales thing) wherever. We all go away and think “Ah but just watch us next year”. Then the players p%^& off and a week before the start of the season we sign three or four players. We think great, now we’re off. Yeah. It takes any player at least 3 or 4 weeks to get used to the team, the set-up, the fans, the life etc. So we’ve played 6 or 8 games before these signings have bedded in.

We do it every year.

Why? Because if you sign someone at the beginning of a season he’ll finish at the end. Ergo you don’t pay him for his summer holidays in his last year if you don’t want to. Ergo again, if you sign him (or her in the case of Ian Bishop) just before the season starts you pay as he plays. My point is that if you sign him early he goes on tour and gets to know the players he will eventually play with (Ian Bishop again!). Finally, speaking about pre-season friendlies. Keegan (who I do not like) quite rightly said we should be going abroad not playing Halifax. I agree (and that will be the last time I agree with someone who thinks tactics are mints in a plastic box). However, he probably was thinking of Spain / Australia (i.e. hot). I would suggest Scandinavia. They will give their all and kick ass which is what you’ll get from the lesser teams in the 1st.

CTKKBAMT (City ‘Til Kevin Keegan Becomes A Master Tactician), Ian Wood (


I hope that next season the North Stand Blues do not revert to their ugliest incarnation and start chanting racist songs. I can imagine the scene when we play Burnley, and the inevitable ‘town full of etc.’ rings out.

Last season against Bradford this happened and it made me feel ashamed and put the game into perspective… to ally myself with the morons who were singing or shouting this and other comments is impossible.

Admittedly the majority of North Standers do not join in, but nor do they or the stewards do anything to stop it. A friend of mine in the Kippax had the temerity to object to a similar song and was turned on by the perpetrators and threatened… guess who had to keep their mouth shut for the rest of the game, and watch their back on the way out?

So it would be progressive if MCITVA subscribers made a point of either confronting these chanters directly by explaining why they should stop, or, if this seems to be an act that may result in bodily injury, to point out the guilty to the stewards who should take action as such songs are illegal in the confines of a football ground.

Bananas, monkey chants and booing of black players may have mostly disappeared, but there are new targets and as usual they are the weakest members of society. Visit for an interesting anti-racism at football site.

Maybe we MCIVTA fans could start some initiative to educate City fans by our own actions outside and inside the ground?

Nick Mills (


Is it only me that’s a little surprised by the news that Kennedy is on his way to Wolves? I’m sure this will come back to haunt us given our recent diabolical record against them.

On the back of this outgoing, we have the rumour that we’re in for Jason Wilcox as a replacement. I hope that this doesn’t prove to be true, as on the face of it we’re trading a 24-year old (who may have flourished under Keegan) for a 30-year old who’s been playing in the reserves at Leeds.

If we need the cash then fine, take the money, but please invest it in someone who provides something different or is an improvement on what we have already in that position. I don’t see either of these criteria being fulfilled.

Regardless of my thoughts on this matter, I thought Keegan was quoted as saying everyone starts with a clean slate? Kev, I think MK may have something to say about that…

Keep up the good work.

Gary Maxwell (


Well Ashley asked for something inflammatory, so here goes… Firstly the news about Wanchope being unavailable for a few games must come as a relief to many fans, and the news that Tiatto will be similarly missing should come as a relief to some of his team mates… (I have to ask of Wanchope, is the mere fact of being “gangling” now enough to make a professional footballer?). Ernie’s piece was super, at least the parts that I understood. However, I’m sure the bits I didn’t understand were down to my lack of intellect, not to mention the lack of a barrel or two of Guinness inside me.

I would take issue with Ray Wentland where he eulogises City fans as follows: “Blues fans are special. It’s because they care. Like lovers, they care so much they are prepared to take any abuse from the one that they love. That is the essence of support. True loyalty.” To me this sounds like the description of an abused spouse who constantly goes back for more abuse from their partner because they have no where else to run to. I wouldn’t class too many of the City fans I know in that category.

For the season ahead I wish City a quick return to the Premier division but am anxiously waiting some charismatic signing that will give a reasonable basis to this desire. Stuart Pearce? Well the jury’s out. One more injury at his age could be the end. I hope City take the sensible route and top up the insurance though I’m sure that the two-faced chairman will have second thoughts at the prospect of paying the premium, especially if he is forced to pay up the “family friend” that he was forced to sack. I hope that Kevin uses his head and brings in players he wants, and not those wanted by Tueart and other has beens. He should remember that he will be the one whose head will roll if success doesn’t come, and those worthless to*sers on the board will always remain to haunt the grandiose schemes of Ernie’s worse nightmare!

Take care and every best wish.

Leo Fewtrell, The Wythenshawe Exile (


A lot of sand on the carpet. Sorry about that. I seem to be bringing it in in my shorts. Kennedy is a joke. Everywhere he has been, including City, he’s failed to live up to his potential. We should be grateful for the one fantastic season we got out of him because he seems to be one of those many footballers who can’t avoid the distractions, can’t cut the mustard and won’t get to where their talent might have taken them with a bit more bottle/application. We’ve had enough of the bug*ers down the years to be able to recognise them by now. That Nivea aftersun cream has just gone off the end of my chin into my tuna sandwich. Look what you’re bl*ody doing will you.

Edghill, Haaland, Wanchope. Weren’t we saying get rid midway through last season when one was patently out of his depth and the other two didn’t seem bothered? We’ll just carry on paying the Premiership wages then shall we? S*it, I’ve just caught my shorts on a rock. They’re brand new they are. How about that Dennis Irwin fella in at right back? That’d be a good move. Is Mr Dixon ready to come back yet? Then we can have the oldest full backs in Christendom. Isn’t it around now that we usually start bidding for blo*dy Hinchcliffe as well? I know. I know. It’s dirty and I shouldn’t do it. I know! If I’d realised you were going to make such a fuss, I wouldn’t have told you. I’m not walking all the way up there for a quick one when the sea’s that close. At least Everton are trying to get to Gallagher before us this time. What an embarrassment.

Stephen Hughes. What’s the story there? £3.5 million signing from Arsenal. Walter Shocker over at Gloomyson lets his contract run out and now they can’t shift him for free. I would have thought he might be worth a try but what’s that funny smell? If that pot-bellied little kid kicks his blo*dy beach ball onto my towel one more time I’ll blo*dy submerge him. Danny Granville. Any takers? 442 after the last World Cup had one of those stupid fill-a-space-with-crap articles about our imaginary performance at the 2002 World Cup. Now it’s close, the article is already ridiculous. Granville and Huckerby both in the squad. Huckerby? Fast isn’t he? Bit like one of those things that, as soon as you put on the carpet, it blo*dy gallops off into the nearest wall. Fast though… Look, Ernie, I just can’t do it, mate. It’s too blo*dy hot. We’re too blo*dy comfortable. There’s no Frannie Lee British Home Stores jackets on the horizon, no blo*dy alan blo*dy ball, no Big Joe hump it forward and chase, everyone’s renewed their season tickets, nobody’s rocking the boat, we’re all really sensible, pre-season world tour takes us to Halifax – West Yorkshire, even the kit looks ok. We’ll just have to wait for October when we’re 14th in the table. That’ll get us going. No who’s got my verruca gel?

Simon Curtis (


I am an avid subscriber of MCIVTA and having nearly wet myself laughing at this Man U site the other day (check out his fashion dreams!). I wondered if you wanted to put the link in a future issue.

Sefton Owens (


This is from last season’s promotion win but it makes great reading and puts a smile on your face, close season. Probably sums a whole generation of ‘Why Blue’:

A young boy, no older than eight, ran towards the centre circle, his mother in pursuit. He was wearing the full Manchester City kit – it had probably been a job to persuade him to leave his shinpads at home. The match at Ewood Park had ended 30 minutes earlier. The loud, reckless grown-ups had long gone, to sing and shout on the streets, to bruise each other with hugs and kisses. The boy skipped, danced and fell to the ground in glee. Today he will be back at school and his City shirt will no longer be merely a legacy from his parents, an emblem of family loyalty. It is now as relevant, as vital, as an Arsenal shirt, or one from Chelsea; or even, lordy lordy, Manchester United.

On an afternoon forged for one of their infamous calamities, City finally got it right, horribly right. They had beaten Blackburn Rovers 4-1 to secure the runners-up position in the Nationwide League Second Division and are finally back in the FA Carling Premiership.

Tickets had been highly coveted and Blackburn had been visited throughout the week by Mancunians plying the generosity of locals. In the event, all parts of the ground had patches of sky blue.

Such is their famous enthusiasm that a pre-match warming-up exercise earned a resounding cheer, while Andy Morrison, their injured defender, received a standing ovation to mark a walk from his car to the guest ticket office. City fans make the most of small pleasures.

There were fretful glances when two City old boys, Ashley Ward and Garry Flitcroft, lined up in the Blackburn team. City are habitually stung by those who were once their own. Not yesterday, though, for City and hoodoo are no more. Joe Royle is the high priest of good fortune. The manager has purged the hex, driven out the demons; the cup for cock-ups is no longer in the trophy cabinet.

The new, happy, smiley regime is best epitomised by Nicky Weaver, City’s young goalkeeper. Tall, gangly and easy-going, he is the talisman that City have long needed. Blackburn struggled to get past him and when they did his hocus-pocus saw the ball strike the woodwork; sometimes the underside, sometimes the top edge. Weaver just shrugged. Then smiled. At the end he did cartwheels, until the throng embraced him, almost crushing the air from his lungs. Loving him to death.

The Jack Walker era has installed a quick-hit Americana into a swath of East Lancashire, with its giant video screens and structural neatness, but this was archetypal British fare. It was raw and ruthless, meat and gravy on a Sunday afternoon, with a good kick in the shins for afters. Off the pitch, the supporters were at the fences, yelling, gesturing, fever-pitch and then an octave higher.

Of course, there had to be high drama. Blackburn took the lead and news filtered through that Ipswich Town were in front against Walsall. They still sang Blue Moon in the gloom. Shaun Goater suddenly levelled, and then City added three in quick succession: bang, bang, bang. Mad for it, mental, rockin’. And Noel Gallagher has already written the theme tune.

Goater is a folk hero at Maine Road. They carry the legend “Goataldo” on their shirts and sing that the other players should “feed the goat”. He is a clumsy player, a clumsy player who scores goals via his shins, his backside, his thigh, or anything else that comes into close proximity to the ball. His dream is that every game he plays in is so frantic and breathless because he thrives in chaos. In tense, nervous- headache games, the goat is a god.

The pilgrimage was such that hundreds of City fans positioned themselves in woodland surrounding the stadium. To be within touching distance, to hear the commotion, sense the pleasure, was enough. For ever they will say that they were there. Well, sort of. At the end, the gates were opened and the hillsiders were welcomed on to the pitch for a rendition of that famous old song. Thereafter, it was beer bellies, tattoos, inflatable dolls, mayhem, madness, and Royle on the balcony mobbed by his players.

Afterwards, when they were back in the pubs or singing in their cars, a middle-aged man walked his dog through the woods where the City fans had been congregated. He threw a stick, the dog gave chase; it all seemed reassuringly normal after the earlier fury. In August, this will be the perspective that City will take on their return to the top division.

Meanwhile, in a Manchester junior school, an eight-year-old boy will kiss his City badge, slot home a two-yard tap-in and shout (under his breath): “And Goater scores… what a goal!”

Joel Perry (


Can anyone verify the following achievements for me:

City are the last all English side to have won the championship of the top division in English football.

City were the first team to win a treble which included a European Cup.

Peter Buriak (Dentonblue@Hotmail.Com)


I have been a City fan for about 60 years; I think one of the reasons was mam was a City fan, dad was United. When City played United and we won dad would get his dinner that night but if they beat us he wouldn’t get any, so we all suffered. I was one of the original volunteer bingo ticket sellers in 1968. I still follow the Blues even though I have been in Australia for the last 31 years and follow all your articles. Would like to hear from any of my old mates; my name is Ray Gibbons from the old scoreboard end behind Helen the bell.

Ray Gibbons (


OK, here’s an effort to spice up the pre-season…a load of rubbish/fiction/fantasy it may be, but it’s about time for a good spice-up…

30/6: Shock as Kevin Keegan, returning from holidays with a new wife and as the newly appointed manager of the Spanish under 21s (“I reckon I can do it on a part-time basis”), swoops for Manchester United’s midfield maestro Roy Keane… Watch this space.

5/7: It’s confirmed… “Keane for City” read the back-pages, but won’t play unless he’s joined there by Rivaldo, Zidane, Kaffour and Thuram. Bernstein digs deep, gets 4 of the 5, but must settle for Schevchenko instead of Zidane. An angry Keane sets fire to Maine Road in a fit of passionate Cork-style glory.

15/7: Weeks before the start of the new season, City are to fly, brick-for-brick, the Olympistadion of Munich to replace the smouldering wreckage of Maine Road. A police report takes any blame for the incident away from Roy Keane… “The trophy cabinet caught fire only too easily as there was no silverware to absorb the heat”.

20/7: Financial irregularities at Southampton F.C. discover that they paid for the St. Mary stadium by illegally selling Matt le Tissier to Miami Fire for £17 million and Davies back to Blackburn for £10 million, bringing his career transfer tally to close on £200 million… and he is the worst striker in the Premiership.

21/7: Southampton are relegated to Division 3. Manchester City, as the team who finished 3rd last, are promoted to the Premiership. The sudden illness of Richard Edghill means that Thuram will take his place in the starting line-up, much to KK’s disapointment…

Joe O’Doherty (


Contributions: Ashley –
News & Rumours: Michael –
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 #723