SPENCER PRIOR JANUARY PREVIEW 2010 AWARDS
HEROES AND VILLIANS CARLOS TEVEZ HTTP://WWW.TOPICALCITY.CO.UK
TOPICAL CITY ISSUE 1
CONTENTS PAGE 5
WELCOME - PAGE 4 PAGE 13
JANUARY TRANSFER PREVIEW - PAGE 5 SNOZZABLUE—WWW.MCFCFORUM.COM
UPS AND DOWNS OF 2010 - PAGE 8 RYANCORLESS—WWW.MCFCFORUM.COM
MILNER MIDFIELD MAESTRO? - PAGE 10 TRIPP—WWW.MCFCFORUM.COM
CITY VS THE MEDIA - PAGE 12 BRIAN ROBAN—WWW.TOTALMANCHESTERCITY.COM
BATTLE FOR THE CAPTAINCY - PAGE 13 MERLIN—WWW.MCFCFORUM.COM
FINANCIAL FAIR PLAY- PAGE 16 MATT HILL—WWW.MCFCFORUM.COM
SPENCER PRIOR- PAGE 18 BLUEWOLF—WWW.MCFCFORUM.COM 2
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PAGE 20 - MANCINI—VILLAIN TO HERO
PAGE 22 - LAST CHANCE SALOON? RYANCORLESS—WWW.MCFCFORUM.COM
PAGE 24 - THE JOKER IN THE PACK MARK WILSON—WWW.WITHOUTADREAMINOURHEARTS.WORDPRESS.COM
PAGE 26 - 1988/89 RETROSPECTIVE DANNY PUGSLEY—WWW.BITTERANDBLUE.COM
PAGE 28 - HEROES AND VILLAINS PETE CUMMINGS—WWW.MANCITYBLOG.COM
PAGE 30 - WE LIVE IN SANITISED TIMES SIMON CURTIS—WWW.DOWNTHEKIPPAXSTEPS.BLOGSPOT.COM
PAGE 33 - THE POWER STRUGGLE COULSONTOM—WWW.MCFCFORUM.COM TOPICAL CITY ISSUE 1
elcome to this the first edition of Topical City the new Manchester City orientated online magazine. Despite the hectic Christmas period, we are pleased to arrive on the scene with a packed issue with contributions from all around the City online community.
Originating from MCFCForum.com, Topical City started out in summer 2010 as a magazine showcasing the very best the talented writers at MCFCForum.com. Unfortunately in the autumn, I had to shelve the project due to other commitments. Towards the end of November, I had the idea of expanding the magazine to include the best of ‘City on the web’, which is where we are now.
However, this would not have been possible without all the fantastic people who have helped me along the way. From the talented writers who have contributed articles this month to all the people who have contributed behind the scenes, this wouldn’t have been possible without you.
The name Topical City was proposed by MCFCForum.com member Dakeb, which won the public pole with Noisy Neighbour finishing a close runner up. The name Topical City is derived from the commonly used phrase ‘Typical City’, none more relevant than the recent game against Everton when we had the chance to top the Premier League table at Christmas for the first time in decades. Thanks to the hectic Christmas period, it has been almost impossible to contact all City site/blogs on the web, if you are a keen writer and would like to contribute to our future issues, then please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will end this introduction here as this is already 2 hours late in being published! 4
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BITTER AND BLUE http://www.bitterandblue.com
DOWN THE KIPPAX STEPS http://www.downthekippaxsteps.blogspot.com
MAN CITY BLOG Pete Cummings
BlueWolf CoulsonTom Matt Hill Merlin Ryan Corless Snozzablue Tripp
TOTAL MANCHESTER CITY http://www.totalmanchestercity.com
VIEW FROM A BLUE http://www.viewfromablue.wordpress.com
WITHOUT A DREAM IN OUR HEARTS http://www.withoutadreaminourhearts.blogspot.com
JANUARY TRANSFER PREVIEW
Words: Snozzablue, http://www.mcfcforum.com
here aren't many football teams in the world that have seen the kind of transfer action that City have seen in the past two and a half years. If nothing else, City's exploits in the transfer market have made football interesting and unpredictable again after so many years of boring, monotonous domination by the so called 'big four'.
Well that domination has in part been broken as Manchester City have quickly built a competitive football team that after all.is finally starting to look like a top four contender. City have, up until this point been by far the most active team in the European transfer market, however after the July/August window closed, many at the club were saying that the City would be scaling back their activities in the transfer market. At the time that talk seemed sensible after all they had just added six new faces to the squad for the upcoming season, however a number of things have changed
since then, which would suggest that January could indeed be a busy transfer window.
likely that most of City's efforts will be put into selling or loaning out players who are surplus to requirements, and then picking up another striker, and posIt does promise to be a very interesting sibly one other player. Santa Cruz, January for Manchester City and there Adebayor and Shay Given look almost are countless scenarios that could unfold certain to be moving on, and if this ocduring this window. One thing that will curs Edin Dzeko is a red hot favourite to restrict City's transfer activities somefinally sign up for the club. Also, be on what will be the impending UEFA finanthe lookout for that good old mystery cial fair-play regulations. All transfers in signing that no one saw coming. As most and out will need to be carefully coCity fans know it's best to expect the ordinated to ensure that the club doesn't unexpected when it comes to the transadd anymore stress to an already bulgfer market, and this January will be no ing wage bill that will need to be different. trimmed by next season. It looks highly
SWP was always City's favourite son who took a short holiday at Chelsea before triumphantly returning home to the team where he grew up. When he did come back everything was rosy ... for a little while. Now, however, he finds himself struggling to get a game in a star-studded midfield, which has improved 4-fold since this time last year. Once an automatic choice on the wing, SWP now has to battle Spanish World Cup winner David Silva, African powerhouse Yaya Toure, and the up and coming English stars, James Milner, and Adam Johnson for a spot that
used to be his by default. Despite his enormous promise Wright-Phillips has been unable to unseat any of the aforementioned players and has managed only a hand-full of games, mostly in the Europa League. While he himself hasn't had too much to say about the matter, the same can't be said for his attention seeking father, Ian Wright, who has often raised his sons plight in the media. Liverpool have been the team most linked with SWP, and they may bid for the winger in January, but the real question is will Mancini sell him?
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It was clear even before the start of the current season that Roque Santa Cruz had fallen out of favour at Manchester City. When the front man wasn't on the treatment table, he was warming the bench. On the odd occasion where he was given a chance he failed miserably. Fact is he has never been able to rediscover the form he had at Blackburn, and he now finds himself way out of his depth in a Manchester City team full of class players. Despite the fact that he's played very little in the last year he still seems to be a player in
demand. Fulham manager, and long time admirer Mark Hughes, has expressed his desire to bring Santa Cruz to Craven Cottage. The press have also linked him to Lazio, Inter Milan, Wolfsburg, Werder Bremen and Everton. It seems almost certain that Santa Cruz will be going in January and the most likely destination has to be Fulham. However, if City succeed in bringing Edin Dzeko from Wolfsburg to Manchester then Santa Cruz could find himself going the other way as part of the deal.
Big Ade promised so much this season but he has delivered little, and as a result has found himself on the fringes. Adebayorâ€™s biggest problem is that Roberto Mancini now favours a 4-3-2-1 formation with Tevez as the lone striker, and therefore found his opportunity's limited. He also hasn't helped his own cause by under-performing when he was given a chance, and publicly talking up a transfer move to Juventus. All these things aside, Big Ade now finds himself on the injury list with an uncertain return date due to a
nagging calf problem. To a lot of people his fate appears sealed with Juventus looking a likely destination for the big man, however, there have been questions raised as to whether Juventus can afford his transfer fee , reportedly around ÂŁ15-20 million. Other teams including Inter Milan, AC Milan and Liverpool have been linked, but there hasn't been anything strong enough to indicate that he would move to any of those teams. Juventus is where Ade wants to go, time will tell if he gets his wish now or in the summer.
When Bridge signed on for City. he was thought by many to be one of the better leftbacks in the Premier League, his fall from grace since that point though has been quite spectacular. Poor old Wayne has been dogged by injury, lack of form and of course, a certain three-way love triangle involving former best friend, John Terry. He then had to sit back and watch as Roberto Mancini went after, and secured the signing of, former Lazio left-back Aleksandar Kolarov. This was the beginning of the end for Bridge, as he soon found out that not only Kolarov was
chosen ahead of him, but Zabaleta and Jerome Boateng, as well. Despite all this there have been few teams linked with the defender with only Blackburn, Stoke and Liverpool being mentioned in the press as possible destinations. Out of the three Liverpool would be the front runner and could probably pick themselves up a real bargain if they play their cards right. All in all though, the writing really looks to be on the wall for Wayne Bridge, and as far as leaving City goes it is really only a matter of when rather than if for the former England international.
There aren't too many teams in Europe that can boast having two world-class International goalkeepers. City however, are one team that can, having both England International Joe Hart, and Irish stopper Shay Given in their squad. As great as this sounds there have been inevitable issues from day one of this season. Despite Shay Givens heroics of 09/10, Roberto Mancini simply could not overlook Joe Hart's red hot form which saw him named the Premier League goalkeeper of the 09/10 season for his exploits whilst on loan with Birmingham. This has caused
problems for Shay, who rightfully feels he should be playing first team football, and he has let it be known that he will likely be leaving come January. Mancini has attempted to appease Given by playing him in the latter group games of the Europa League, but it looks unlikely that will be enough to keep him at the club. Arsenal are the favourites to secure Given's services come January, however, if a transfer cannot be agreed, he may well go out on loan to another club until the summer.
IN Dzeko is one Europe's most promising strikers and is a wanted by a number of other European sides such as Juventus, AC Milan, and Chelsea. He reciprocated City's advances in August when he released a statement expressing his desire to join the Citizens, however, in the end, City decided to go with Italian striker Mario Balotelli instead . He then expressed his desire to join Juventus, which indicates, more than anything, that he desperately wants out of Wolfsburg who are struggling badly in the Bundesliga this sea-
son, languishing in the bottom-half of the table. A lot of time has now passed since then and with the likely departure of Roque Santa Cruz and Emmanuel Adebayor in January, City are now on the look out for another forward option. The media continue to link Dzeko with a long awaited move to City and now the bookies have joined them, slashing Dzeko's odds of joining the team to even money. Manchester City have long coveted the big Bosnian striker and January may finally be the time when they land him.
Like Edin Dzeko, Fernando Torres has long been linked with a move to Manchester City. Rumours reached fever pitch in August when Liverpool were in between managers and on the verge of financial collapse. After talks with new manager Roy Hodgson and captain Steven Gerrard, he was convinced to stay, however, things have not improved at Liverpool and they now find themselves languishing mid table looking nothing like a Champions League contender. This fact alone has seen rumours of a January move away from
Anfield increase, and there are many in the media who feel that City have already lined up a move for the prolific striker. Any transfer deal will cost City at least £50 million, money that would definitely come in handy for Liverpool. Another option is a cash plus player deal which could include Shaun Wright Phillips, Emmanuel Adebayor and Wayne Bridge going in the other direction. Either way the prospect of Torres becoming a blue is very real and supporters of both clubs will be watching with great interest .
Manchester City have long been an admirer of Dani Alves, and even though they signed Jerome Boateng in the summer they would still jump at the chance to sign the rightback if one was to become available. The good news for City is that chance to sign Alves may present itself in January. Alves has recently been told that he can leave Barcelona after rejecting a 'final' contract offer that they put forward. This means if Alves shows a genuine interest in moving clubs, Barcelona may have no other option than to sell him or risk losing him for nothing on a
Bosman. Alves currently earns £63,000 a week at Barcelona, but an offer from City would see that amount at least trebled, which would no doubt tempt the Brazilian. Many City supporters will wait with baited breath in January with the hope that City make Barca an offer that is simply too good to refuse. If a transfer doesn't happen then the Spanish giants will face a nervous wait as Alves weighs up his options leading into the summer transfer window.
With City looking likely to add another forward option in January it's only natural that Carroll, currently one of the Premier League’s leading scorers, is mentioned as a possible target. Carroll is a very strong, talented young striker who has enormous upside and City could do with a player of his quality, especially as they are struggling with set plays and corners, an area that he excels in. Roberto Mancini was heavily quoted in the media following City's 3-1 away win over Newcastle, as possibly being
ALVES interested in making a move for Carroll, however he was quick to clarify his comments, saying he was merely admiring the big strikers talents Any move for Carroll would cost City a lot and it would all depend on, not only Mike Ashley's willingness to sell, but also whether or not Carroll would want to leave Newcastle, the team that he's played for since the age of sixteen. Despite the media hype; it does however seem more likely that City will focus on Dzeko or Torres ahead of Carroll.
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THE UPS AND DOWNS OF 2010 Words: RyanCorless, http://www.mcfcforum.com
2010 has seen City enjoy yet another year of ups and downs, some moments have given us fabulously wide grins; some moments have made us want to shout, swear, scream and cry. Some players have caused us to have our heads in our hands; some players have made us jump up and down on the spot with excitement. Some goals have made us cheer louder and feel better than we thought possible; some goals have taken us right down to rock-bottom. Here’s the best and worst of 2010! DEFENDER OF THE YEAR: VINCENT KOMPANY It’s hard to look much further than our Belgian stopper when it comes to our best defender of 2010. I used to think Vinnie was a little bit clumsy and maybe didn’t have everything required to be a top class defender for a top class team. But I’m happy to say he’s proven me entirely wrong, Kompany has grown into the role as our rock at the back and has been by far our best defensive player of the last 12 months.
MIDFIELDER OF THE YEAR: NIGEL DE JONG ‘Nige’ has become a fan favourite with the majority of Blues, and it’s not just his performances on the pitch that make him such a hero to the Eastlands faithful. Not only does Nigel put in 110% every time he steps on the pitch, but he has a great rapport with the fans due to his acknowledgment of them. He’s always the first to walk over at an away game and let the fans know what he thinks of them. Although not everyone thinks Nigel is an essential part of the team, his absence from the side has cost us on more than one occasion and has proven to be a key cog in the forever improving City machine. FORWARD OF THE YEAR: CARLOS TEVEZ Carlos’ first 6 months in a City shirt were right up to standard, and his next twelve months weren’t too shabby either. After setting the Premier League alight in December 2009, Carlos continued his good form into the New Year and has been scoring goals for fun ever since. Despite giving all City fans a scare in December 2010, it’s hard to suggest that anyone else could be our forward of the year.
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SHOCK OF THE YEAR: CARLOS TEVEZ’S TRANSFER REQUEST After summer speculation that Carlos wanted a way out of the club, City managed to hang on to the 26 year old Argentine for at least another six months. It wasn’t long though before Carlos seemingly wanted out, just three months after the window slammed shut he handed in his written transfer request. Perhaps an even bigger shock was seeing Tevez withdraw his request not long after!
GOAL OF THE YEAR: DAVID SILVA, BLACKPOOL The two goals that spring to mind, are this one and Adam Johnson’s away at Sunderland. For me this one takes the gold, simply because this goal had a bit of everything! Sometimes when I watch Silva dribble the ball, I wonder if he has glue stuck to the inside of his boot, and this goal sent me into further doubt. The wonderful Spanish playmaker faked past two Blackpool defenders before placing the ball into the far corner to wrap up a valuable three points for City. WORST MOMENT OF THE YEAR: CITY 0-1 SPURS Peter Crouch’s late header was an almost impossible thing to watch, I was stood in the South Stand behind the net that he sank his header into, and it felt like the whole season was a waste of time. Some people will claim that Shrek’s header at the swamp was a worse feeling, and to be honest it feels nice for the worst moment not to be a relegation blow, but Crouch’s dagger to the heart was a painful one nonetheless.
SIGNING OF THE YEAR: DAVID SILVA For me, David is on par with the anything we’ve seen in recent years at this club. The Spanish International struggled in his first few weeks with City, but since then has come on leap and bounds, and has quickly become a fan favourite amongst the City faithful. Only one goal for Silva so far, but he’s at the centre of many of the attacking moves we conduct in games and will prove to be massively important over the course of the next few years when it comes to that creative spark. GAME OF THE YEAR: BURNLEY 1-6 CITY I know the obvious one is the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final against United, but in terms of the quality on show, the result and the general performance, the trip to Turf Moor was in my opinion the game of the year. The weather did it’s best to ruin what was a fabulous performance, but in the end City saw the game through convincingly to take three wellearned points from our North-west rivals.
MOMENT OF THE YEAR: TEVEZ PEN, MAN UNITED It was a moment that couldn’t have been written better, former United man against a club with fans that now boo his name, in front of 6000 of those very fans. Tevez had previously stated that if he scored against United he didn’t know if he would celebrate. Well Carlos didn’t disappoint and smashed the penalty into the top of the net before running past the fans that used to sing his name waving his hands around in what can only be described as a pretty crazy way! His ‘you talk too much’ gestures to Gary Neville put a smile on everybody’s face. TOPICAL CITY ISSUE 1
MILNER MIDFIELD MAESTRO? Words: Tripp, http://www.mcfcforum.com
hen James Milner arrived at Manchester City over the summer, few were more sceptical of his signing than I. The first sticking point was the cost: ÂŁ16million for him, with Academy product and fan favourite, Stephen Ireland, in the first throes of his fall from grace, headed the other way, making it a ÂŁ24million package.
The second objection I had was his role: we were rich in midfield already, with the likes of David Silva and Yaya Toure signed in the same window to join up with the quality of Nigel de Jong and Adam Johnson, who had made themselves first names on Roberto Mancini's team-sheet already. Sure, Milner had quality; but was he good enough to cut it in the new-look City team? He started on the wing in the opener against Liverpool, and made an instant impact, seemingly quieting the doubters; he hustled for the whole ninety minutes, setting up a goal for former Villa comrade, Gareth Barry, and never going slack for a moment. But, for the next three games, he went cold; he showed the same industry, working hard to keep possession and help out in defence, but none of the brilliant passing seen at Liverpool. He rediscovered that against Chelsea, but then again ran cold, for a long series of games; solid, but not what one would call spectacular. Then, against Salzburg at the beginning of December, suddenly he was back. Playing in his favoured central role, in which he had failed to shine against Wolves, he was the definition of a dynamo. His passing was spot on, having a
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helping hand in the goals and was incredibly unlucky not to score himself. But then, just like after Liverpool, he faded again, entirely uninspiring against Juventus and Everton, still in the centre of midfield. Especially in recent weeks, he has been entirely out-shone by the industry and sharpness by Yaya Toure and Gareth Barry, who struggled massively at the beginning of the season and still can seem off the pace often enough.
Johnson, and Joe Hart have been caught out drinking and partying at all hours this season, Milner is teetotal, focused on his work as a footballer and a fine example to the young players of the Academy as well as the less disciplined members of the first team. He can be everything this club needs; a rock to build the team around, a provider for Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli and the supposedly soon-to-arrive, Edin Dzeko, and a tutor to the wealth of talent coming out of Platt Lane. Added to which, if, However, a point in Milner's favour is and when, Michael Johnson returns how entirely awful Ireland has been from injury, his own brilliance as a boxsince moving to Villa. In this sense, the to-box midfielder, linked up with the deal made by Mancini was a good one; defensive energies of Nigel de Jong or while Milner hasn't exactly set the Yaya Toure, would have the potential to Premier League alight, I have seen very make one of the most frightening and few players go out on the pitch with less effective midfield trios in the Premier commitment or energy than Stephen League. Ireland in a Villa shirt. Gerard Houllier is already desperate to be rid of him after So, for the sake of the team and all of us only four months. suffering fans, James, please sort it out. With him firing on all cylinders on a regSo what is Milner's issue, then? This I ular basis, City will have another cannot speak to, but as we have seen in component of a title-winning team. spurts and flashes this season, he has all the quality needed to replace Ireland's creative energies in the centre of midfield. Not only does he have the talent, but he has what Ireland only rarely ever had; the temperament. Whilst Barry,
TOPICAL CITY ISSUE 1 JAMES MILNER MIDFIELD MAESTRO?
CITY VS THE MEDIA
Words: Brian Roban, http://www.totalmanchestercity.com
ith all the media attention City receive these days, one has to wonder if there is a small hint of an anti-City conspiracy at work. I know that must sound as absolute paranoia, but when I read the papers or listen to online sports rants, it sure does feel like it.
Everyday without fail there is a negative story aimed at the club. I will admit that a lot of these stories are written by so called journalists who support other teams and find City an easy outlet for their anger and frustration. One of the most recent stories that comes to mind is the Mail on Sunday who ran a story that spread like wild fire. The story in mind was "Tevez begs for United return", within 24 hours, however, the same one and only Carlos Tevez committed his future to City. While this may be a distraction to players it certainly is putting a lot of City fans from even picking up a paper of late. I firmly believe until City pick up some silverware and break into the top four the media onslaught will continue; is this the price of a rich sugar daddy owner? The short answer is, yes. However, while I moan on about the media, and do the same ol' routine of getting annoyed with silly little reporters spreading lies and rumours about the club we love, I have to say I have been proud to watch and see the transformation of a so called small club into title contenders, to watch on as managers from other clubs talk about City with worry in their voices before a game. Best is watching the interviews after when they have been 12
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praising the calibre of players City now have at their disposal. It is a shame that City, as a club, don't get more attention in the media for all the good they do for the community - how City fund overseas aid relief projects in third world countries. No, that would be constructive and be of benefit to the general population to advertise the fact that you also can help. No, not a hope, instead the British media would prefer to set sports icons up and expose them for the good of the public, using the old chestnut of "The public have a right to know". Young kids learning to read are subjected to these articles belittling the team, whilst waiting all week to go and see their heroes brought down before their eyes in a piece of recycled toilet paper posing as a newspaper. It's a sad fact of reality that we as City fans are fast finding out. While we will endure, as all times before, it will take time to get used to, as Iâ€™m sure finding consistent winning form will also take time. If I could wish for one thing, it would be to see City lift the title this season, if not, at least see City in second place, which would be a dream come true and stop the anti-City band wagon in its tracks.
BATTLE FOR THE CAPTAINCY
Words: Merlin, http://www.mcfcforum.com
t is understood by most football fans that the manager is responsible for the success of the team, and Mancini certainly has a hot seat at Manchester City. As the manager, Mancini dictates tactics, transfer policy, team selection, training, fitness and man-management. Particularly in the Premiership, with such power comes great responsibility and when things go right he is credited with the glory, and when things go wrong it is his head on the block. The problem for Mancini is no matter how clever he is, or how detailed his preparation is for each match, the control of the team is handed over to his captain once a match begins, because the manager cannot enter the field of play. It is the captain’s responsibility to ensure that the manager’s wishes are followed on the field. Despite Tevez’s recent transfer request, and subsequent withdrawal of said request, Tevez remains as Mancini’s team captain. A fair question for City fans to ask is whether this is a good decision. This article asks what makes a good captain, and more importantly, does Tevez fit the mould, or should Kompany or De Jong take over?
tial component of City’s first team, and he easily meets this criterion. However, Mancini does seem to be experimenting more with the exclusion of Tevez. Could this be an indication of what might happen in the summer? Kompany has grown in stature over the last two seasons, and is also an automatic pick for Mancini. Similarly, De Jong will always be on the team sheet, because he suits Mancini’s style of play. Since the World Cup, De Jong has come back a better player, and the standing ovation after his captain’s performance versus Villa is testament to his popularity. Tevez 4/5 - Kompany 5/5 – De Jong 5/5
This is a very difficult trait to define, because it means something different to I would suggest that the first criterion to many people. Some people lead by exbe selected as captain is to earn your ample, some lead by respect and some right to be first on the team sheet. It lead by charisma. But leadership on a would serve little purpose to have the football field needs all three. It is the team captain regularly on the subs captain’s responsibility to motivate the bench. This criterion includes the skill team, and direct the team’s actions on and ability to compete in the Premierthe field. If the captain’s head drops, ship. We all know that Tevez is an essen- then so does the team’s. It is my opinion
RIGHT TO START
that Tevez is not the best leader at the club, and his selection appears to be more diplomatic than essential. Recent events in the media demonstrated a selfishness that is not becoming of good leaders. Kompany is more discrete than Tevez; for a while he was not in the first team, and yet he quietly waited for his opportunity without any song or dance in the media, and when the chance came he took it. His leadership qualities are clear to see when he’s playing, and he doesn’t create controversy off the field. De Jong has applied his uncompromising trade to City’s midfield for a few years now, and despite (unfortunately) breaking a few legs, continues to impress. His “never say die” approach to the game is an ideal motivator for a team. It is no coincidence that when De Jong plays well, City dominate possession of the ball. Tevez 3/5 - Kompany 4/5 – De Jong 5/5
PRESENCE Presence is partly charisma, but it is also a measure of how the opposing team views the captain. A strong leader can TOPICAL CITY ISSUE 1
counter the opposing team, and identify opportunities to defend or attack without communication with the manager. I feel the position a captain plays can strengthen the captain’s ability to do this. The best person on the field to observe the flow of the game is the goalkeeper, because the whole game is in front of him. The next best position is central defence. I question the value of a striker as team captain because he can only look back at the play, and that is hard to perceive. It’s like playing chess from the side of the board instead of from behind your pieces. From a presence and positional perspective I think Kompany will make a better captain. There is also a strong argument for a midfield player to lead the team, having an all round perspective of the game from the centre of the field. De Jong represents a strong choice as captain because his team mates respect him, the opposition fear him, and the fans adore him. Tevez 3/5 - Kompany 5/5 – De Jong 5/5
INTELLIGENCE A good football captain must understand the manager’s tactics and strategy, and communicate and implement them on the field. This demands the ability to understand instructions, translate them, and communicate them in a fast flowing game. This demands intelligence: a quick, agile and analytical brain. The fact that Tevez does not appear to be in control of his own destiny, instead being guided by his agent, suggests to me that he isn’t the most intelligent player in the world. Kompany, on the other hand, has demonstrated a calculated ascension in City’s ranks, and plays intelligently on the field. De Jong rarely puts a foot wrong, and he always gives his all for the team. There are question marks over his ability to pick out a killer pass, although this part of his game has improved this season. Tevez 3/5 - Kompany 4/5 – De Jong 4/5
RAPPORT The club captain must have a good rapport with the fans. This is usually achieved by speaking intelligently in public, playing well every week, and being loyal and ethical to the football club. Richard Dunne is an example of a popular captain, proven by the fact he was voted player of the year four times. Tevez was idolized by City fans for his incredible work ethic and goal scoring feats, but his recent transfer request has rightly made fans question his motives. This act alone puts a massive question mark over his loyalty to City. Kompany is 14
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also popular with the fans, but not as high profile as Tevez. It is the nature of the game that goal scorers receive more adulation than goal stoppers, so this is no surprise. De Jong has stayed loyal to City, and despite the controversy of the World Cup incident, the club has stayed loyal to him. At the Villa game on Boxing Day Tevez was rested and De Jong was captain. The team won 4-0, and De Jong received a standing ovation from the fans. I think that says it all. Tevez 4/5 - Kompany 3/5 – De Jong 5/5
This criterion is more related to influence on the field, more than influence within the club. If it was the latter Tevez would win hands down … there is no doubt that he and his agent have influence. On the field the captain should have the ability to influence the game. This is partly through direction, tactics and communication, but individual skill should not be underestimated. A player that can raise a team’s moral through unexpected brilliance can greatly influence the outcome of a game. Similarly a strong, unwavering work ethic can turn the tide of a game. There is little doubt that Mancini has chosen Tevez as club captain due to his ability to influence a game. This is probably Tevez’s strongest suit when it comes to captaincy. Kompany is a good communicator and a good footballer. Despite being a hard tackling central defender, he can also influence a game with sublime skill. However, he rarely scores goals, and his ability to influence games is significantly less than Tevez’s. De Jong, also, is highly influential, because he ensures that City maintain possession in a game, and as we all know, possession is nine tenths of footballing success. I don’t think De Jong has ever scored for City, and he rarely creates goal scoring chances. Tevez 5/5 - Kompany 3/5 – De Jong 3/5
The Verdict. The total score is: Tevez: 22/30 Kompany :24/30 De Jong :27/30 Based on this analysis there are at least two other candidates at City who would make excellent captains should Tevez either leave or surrender the captaincy. Should that be the case, my choice would be De Jong due to his loyalty, rapport with the fans and tenacity on the field. TEVEZ
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FINANCIAL FAIR PLAY
Words: Matt Hill, http://www.mcfcforum.com
n May 27th of this year, UEFA’s Executive Committee unanimously passed the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations (FFP). These new restrictions will assess the finances of all clubs competing in UEFA competitions ensuring they comply with the break-even requirement that comes into force for the financial statements at the end of 2012.
The main aim of these proposals is fairness; indeed Michel Platini (UEFA President) has said that "The philosophy [of these new regulations] is that you cannot spend more money than you generate." With that in mind, by the end of 2012, in order for a team to be able to compete in the Champions League or the Europa League, they must present a dossier to UEFA with proof of the following: break-even requirement; no overdues payable during the season (towards other clubs/employees and/or social/tax authorities) and finally a provision of future financial information (to ensure clubs can meet future obligations).
Dzeko, the man it is believed City will hasten to add to their armoury, bigname or rather big-money signings will not take place in January as the Blues aim to cut their losses on expensive flops such as Roque Santa Cruz, Wayne Bridge and Emmanuel Adebayor. Whilst the club aim to lower their wage expenditure by offloading certain players, After several hectic spending sprees in order to ensure that they do not since the Sheikh’s takeover in August ‘spend more money than they generate’ 2008, City have amassed a grand total of the Blues will have to find other ways of approximately £325 million on transfers avoiding losses in order to keep Platini’s alone, an astonishing amount considerarmy at bay. ing the club’s lack of high-level European action. With many players reportedly on One way the club can do this is to inlarge contracts, in particular the likes of crease its popularity by trying to sell Yaya Toure and club captain Carlos For a club like Manchester City, spoilt by themselves commercially. Manchester Tevez the highest earners, City will have the colossal riches of the very wealthy City “the brand” has to be sold worldto curb the money they splash out on Sheikh Mansour, the only problem that wide, with the Blues’ hierarchy securing their lavishly-paid stars in order to meet they will face with these impending rules major sponsorship deals with Etihad UEFA’s strict criteria. With a squad that is complying with the break-even reAirways and Etisalat, as well as their is sitting pretty in the top four of the quirement. It has been acknowledged by long running partnership with shirt sponPremier League at the end of 2010, City club officials to be a “huge challenge” sor Umbro. Indeed, the long term beneChairman Khaldoon Al-Mubarak is because of the size of City’s task to refits of their commercial success mean aware that only ‘finessing’ is required in duce their losses of £121.3m in 2009-10, that City will rely less on Sheikh Mansour order for the Blues to be the top dog in and expected losses of £130m-plus in pumping money into the club, therefore England. Consequently, apart from Edin 2010-11. These losses are problematic meeting UEFA’s demands. This is a 16
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for the Blues as they are primarily caused by the excessive transfer fees. UEFA FFP rules state that initial losses averaging £19.6m per year will be allowed, but from 2012-13, they will be capped at £13m per year (averaged over a three-year period), and from 2013-14, be capped at £8.7m per year.
strategy which has been approached by most major clubs in Europe - Manchester United, Liverpool and Real Madrid are just three names which spring to mind. Those three are clubs which are engulfed in history and idolised by many from all parts of the globe. It is a simple fact that not many (if at all, any) African or South American children grow up wanting to play for Manchester City, it is hoped however that major success on the pitch will impact the club off it. Despite the heavy losses shown in the club’s most recent financial report, City officials are confident that the club will meet UEFA’s financial restrictions by the end of 2012. They argue that although a significant amount of money has been spent on players and wages, an equal amount has been spent on the regeneration of stadium and its surrounding areas, as well as City’s global academy. It is believed that the introduction of City Square, as well as the proposed plans for the remainder of the land around Eastlands will increase revenue and make Manchester City a major attraction, both on and off the field. This season it is imperative that City finish in the Champions League places because of the financial implications it has. Television dictates football nowadays, shown by every single Champions League game being televised – the majority by Sky – resulting in massive television revenue and global publicity. To increase awareness about Manchester City, the Champions League is a competition they must start competing in before these restrictions come into place. When the Abu Dhabi United Group took over Manchester City in 2008 they stated that they had a clear ten year plan. They wanted to wake a sleeping giant and bring trophies to a success-starved club and bring joy to its loyal fans. They knew it would not happen overnight, but they will be hoping that in ten years’ time, young children growing up in places like Africa and South America will want to play for Manchester City.
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SPENCER PRIOR INTERVIEW Words: BlueWolf, http://www.mcfcforumcom
pencer Prior. Twenty years in the English leagues, and spent 2000-2001 with Manchester City. With the upcoming FA Cup tie between two of Prior’s former clubs, MCFCforum caught up with Spencer and asked him a few things about his time at the club, and at Leicester City, amongst other things.
MCFCforum.com: What do you think of Sven as a manager? Was he hard done by, at City? How's he doing at Leicester? Spencer Prior: I think he’s doing a great job at Leicester, and with a bit of time he will get them back into the Prem. He has the budget to take them forward, however, with all these foreign owners and investors they demand instant success. I think that’s where he was hard done by at City … It takes time to build a squad that is balanced and will survive for years rather than be one season wonders. MCFCforum.com: Do you prefer the "old" struggling City, or the "new" mega rich City? Do you think City could have ever challenged at the top of the league and threatened the Sky4 order without Sheikh Mansour? Spencer Prior: Personally I’d like to say I love seeing the success that is happening at City now. Unpredictable City are still around as you would have backed them to beat Everton, so there is still a bit of “old City” around. The most disappointing aspect for me regarding the club, is that its lost its family appeal, and is more geared towards the corporates that will be the only people that can afford to go to the games. I also don’t like seeing people jumping on the bandwagon and supporting City because they are suddenly the “Bling” Club of this era. Its a society issue and something that narks me. MCFCforum.com: What do you think the outcome will be in the FA Cup tie between Manchester City and Leicester City? Spencer Prior: Who knows. I think if Leicester play a full strength side that click on the day, they may cause an upset. I hope City do treat the FA Cup with respect, as, realistically, it’s their best opportunity of winning silverware this season, and the owners/supporters would love to see a trophy other than a play-off final trophy!!
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MCFCforum.com: In a one year stint, you managed to bag four goals for City, more than for any other club during your career. How did you manage that as a defender? What is lacking in our current defence that is keeping them from popping up with an odd goal? Spencer Prior: Unbelievable that I scored that many goals in 9 games!! Right place, right time. The most important thing was that we got promotion, something I am very proud of. And the memories will live with me forever. The current defenders are doing a great job defending, and that’s their priority. However it would be great for someone to take the weight off Tevez’s shoulders and notch a couple. MCFCforum.com: You came in late in City's promotion surge and we didn't lose a game when you played, you must have been thinking "bring on the Prem", the dream became reality, what happened? Not just you, but the team? Spencer Prior: We worked so hard to get up. I believe on the back of successive promotions, and with the additions that were made to the squad, the balance wasn’t quite right to build on the momentum of the promotion. MCFCforum.com: How were the nerves before the play off at the Millennium Stadium, home town team, in their own backyard? Fortunately a win ensued, but you must have been sickened with Chris Day's save! Spencer Prior: The save didn’t bother me at all, I just wanted the promotion. I was bought into Cardiff to do a job by Sam Hamman, and we failed in the 1st year. That really hurt us as a group, and we carried that disappointment all year. So it was a wonderful experience winning with so many Cardiff fans in their own back yard. I’d love to see them get into the Prem, as it would complete the journey that I was able and fortunate enough to have been part of.
MCFCforum.com: How did it feel playing in THAT match at Blackburn and how long was it before you realised, with the luck Blackburn had, it was going to be one on those days, where there was no chance we were going to lose? Spencer Prior: We got absolutely battered by them that day!! I think if the season had of gone one more game we wouldn’t have been able to keep going. Mentally and physically we were shot, but something happened that day that always makes me laugh. It was only when we scored that we realised the stadium was full of City fans who had bought their tickets off the Blackburn supporters. That spurred us on to keep going, and the rest is history. MCFCforum.com: I've heard good things about you being a pundit in Australia, so does this mean this is the avenue you will be taking, or would you like one day to move back to the UK to either coach or manage? If so, which club would you love to go to? Spencer Prior: I’m travelling down the coaching pathway, and have completed my A License badge. If part of my journey brings me back to the UK then I’ll try and approach it with the same philosophies I had as a player, at whatever Club I went to. I enjoy doing the TV work, although I do find it difficult to knock players when one day I might have to work with them as their coach/manager. That’s where it becomes difficult. MCFCforum.com: Just how much has Australian football benefited from the jump from Oceanic to Asian football? Spencer Prior: Greatly. The competition is much tougher and will raise the standards of football significantly. Not just on the pitch, but also off it, with Clubs having to have a far grater level of professionalism to be successful. By joining the AFC, the FFA has jumped into a much bigger pond with more money coming into the game. MCFCforum.com: Apart from endless sunshine, the beer, the beaches, the ocean, the terrific lifestyle and the almost perfect attitude to sport, what does Australia have going for it? Spencer Prior: Ha ha ha we love it here, and its a fantastic place to bring up our 3 kids. They have adapted to the Aussie lifestyle, and I even caught one of them whistling Advance Australia Fair. She is now an ex-daughter by the way!!! MCFCforum would like to thank Spencer for taking the time to talk to us, and wish him and his family all the best for the future.
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MANCINI VILLAIN TO HERO Words: Steven, http://viewfromablue.wordpress.com
9th December 2009. The day when Sheikh Mansour signalled his intention to turn Manchester City into a major worldwide force. Forget the big money transfers and ambitious predictions. But make sure you remember the ruthlessness that the Sheikh, along with Khaldoon-Al-Mubarak and Garry Cook, showed on that date in sacking Mark Hughes and appointing Roberto Mancini as manager.
Hughes was the people’s champion; the manager whom the players liked – the man whose sides played easy-on-theeye attacking football. Naturally, his replacement would be on the back foot from the start, and City certainly didn’t help Mancini in the manner of his appointment. It was during the match at home to Sunderland on the 19th when news filtered through that Hughes was going to be sacked after the game and that Mancini, a former Inter Milan coach, had been lined up to take over. It was a moment that the senior men at City have since regretted; not the actual change, but the manner in which it was conducted. Mancini had been approached a couple of weeks earlier, behind Hughes’ back and had agreed to replace Sparky. That in itself angered the players, the fans and numerous others, and it was left to Mancini to struggle through his early City days. Well, he was expected to struggle, but whilst Hughes had suffered his fate after a plethora of draws, Mancini immediately rectified that problem and started by winning his first four games in all competitions. Suddenly, all the negativity that surrounded the end of Hughes’
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tenure was being swept away in a sea of Italian style. The new manager was intent on improving our defence, which, under the erstwhile incumbent, was noticeably permeable. Under Hughes, goals were conceded with regularity but Mancini set about to find a solution to this problem. Clean sheets were immediately kept against Stoke, Wolves and Middlesbrough and ever since then, the defence has been City’s strength under Roberto.
ey in the summer on players who added extra quality; the current crop and, for the most part, Mancini, has done a sterling job of unifying the egos in the dressing room and gelling them into a promising outfit. As has been stated before, it will take time, but fans are starting to appreciate the good work being undertaken by Mancini and the rest of the managerial team.
Just like the owners back in December, the Italian has displayed his ruthlessness His insistence on building from the back in disposing of a number of troublesome has been interpreted by many as exand disruptive players, namely Stephen treme negativity, but that blinkered Ireland and Craig Bellamy, and whilst he outlook fails to appreciate the upturn in has had his disagreements with captain results since he took over. Yes, we came Carlos Tevez, the manager has stood ever so close to attaining Champions firm in his beliefs and we are starting to League football last season, but the see the benefits. board would have viewed this campaign as the crucial one. Last year, Mancini Within touching distance of the top of inherited a squad of players from the league and favourites for the Europa Hughes, many of whom were content League, Mancini has turned from villain with the Europa League, content with to hero in the space of just twelve sitting on the bench and picking up their months. His status as a City great would vast pay checks. be confirmed if he were the man to lead us to a trophy for the first time in 34 But Mancini has been busy instilling into years and the way he is going, that sucthe squad a winning mentality which cess may not be too far away. will serve them well for the present and future. He spent a huge amount of mon-
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LAST CHANCE SALOON?
Words: RyanCorless, http://www.mcfcforum.com
t’s been two and a half years since City were handed the seemingly unreal takeover that sent everyone associated with the Blues into dreamland, and slowly but steadily the club has been making steps towards a better future. Regardless of the forward steps we’ve taken though, I’m beginning to think that the pressure is now so high for City to succeed, that if we don’t hit the dazzling heights of Champions League football this season, we could well be witnessing another false dawn at this great club. Obviously spending hundreds of millions of pounds in the last couple of seasons is only going to heap the expectation onto us, but I can’t help but think we’re in a bit of a hole now, and it’s going to be hard to climb out. Last season we saw a gutwrenching showdown with Spurs, which ended in typical City fashion: heartbreak. But by getting so close to the promised land of Champions League football, did we make it impossible not to reach the top four this time round?
Hopefully Bobby won’t be quite so complacent when it comes to the knockout stages of the Europa League and the beauty of the F.A. Cup. I can safely say though that I think Mancini has learnt his lesson, and that I don’t expect to see the likes of Javan Vidal, Ben Mee, and Abdi Ibrahim trusted with the task of overcoming established sides in order to advance through to the latter rounds of our only remaining cup competitions.
If we do indeed succeed, and secure, a Champions League spot for the first time, then it’s difficult to see any bad times ahead whatsoever for City. The club will have a new draw, top players from across the globe will know that we’ve arrived on the big stage, and maybe the media will lay off our backs for a couple of days, too – I’m not overly confident about that last one though!
If we don’t quite make it like last term You can never guarantee a good cup run then I think it’s going to be another diffiI think it’s fairly obvious that if Roberto though, and we can’t be too over-reliant cult couple of years that follow. Chances Mancini doesn’t finish amongst Arsenal, on squeezing success out of our cup are Roberto Mancini will be on his way, Chelsea and United this time round, he competitions, we have to focus on our some fans will start to lose faith, the may well see himself leaving through the keeping consistency with our league over-critical Blues will multiply, and the same door that Hughes did a year ago. form as well. So far so good as far as the media will laugh at us along with rival His ‘get out of jail free card’ may well be league front in concerned, sitting comfans and claim that it’s just another delivering a trophy to the fans that have fortably in the top four, as well as being speed-bump in what’s been a very waited so long for silverware. However, in and around the main title contenders, bumpy ride over the years. the Italian blew a golden opportunity is a position that I think most Blues earlier on this campaign by sending out would have taken before that opening I understand that the last two and a half a weakened side at the Hawthorns. The day clash at White Hart Lane. But the years have been important, but as imBlues lost the match 2-1 and were alimportance of keeping up our impressive portant as the next five months, defiready out of what was viewed as a win- league performance this season is essen- nitely not. When Sheikh Mansour decidnable domestic competition. tial to our long-term future. ed to give City fans something to smile 22
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about in August 2008, the pressure on City to perform wasn’t exactly massive. Sven had just delivered a mid-table finish in his first and only season with the Blues, it’s not as if we’d finished in the top 6, it’s not as if Mark Hughes had a massive job to follow on from. In comparison, Roberto Mancini has spent a lot of cash since he’s been here, he took City to an impressive fifth place finish last season, albeit should’ve been fourth, but it was still our highest Premier League finish to date. The former Inter manager has heaped pressure upon himself, and it was al-
ways going to be the way, but if he fails what next? New manager, more money spent, more negative media coverage, more City jokes, more expectancy on the next man, and more disappointment for the City faithful. The next five months are incredibly important in terms of this club’s development, let us all pray and hope that Roberto can see us through, because I don’t see anything but a top four finish being good enough in the long run, and I don’t just mean for Mr Mancini ...
TOPICAL CITY ISSUE 1 ROBERTO MANCINI UNDER PRESSURE?
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YAYA TOURE JOKER IN PACK?
THE JOKER IN THE PACK
Words: Mark Wilson, http://withoutadreaminourhearts.blogspot.com
irst came Gareth Barry, then came Nigel de Jong, followed by Patrick Vieira. At the start of the 2010 campaign, it was clear for all to see that we had a midfield packed with defensive steel. Now all we needed was a bit of guile and creativity from the middle of the park, and our engine room would be complete. And so what do we do? We go and sign yet another defensive midfielder, this time in the guise of a 27 year old Ivorian that went by the name of Yaya Toure. There was no doubt about it – we had signed a top class talent. With experience at Olympiacos, Monaco and Barcelona, and 50 -odd caps for Ivory Coast, here was a player with excellent pedigree and at 27 years – clearly moving into the peak of his powers if he wasn’t there already. This all added to a hefty price tag and wages that we ended up shelling out – at £24m and on wages reported to be somewhere of the region of £200,000 per week, Yaya certainly didn’t come cheap. It was a big signing. I remember thinking that it was perhaps a too bigger a signing, a bit of overkill, given the position that Yaya would undoubtedly be asked to fill. For me, we already had quality in the defensive midfield department. Gareth Barry knew the Premier League like the back of his hand and Nigel De Jong had bedded in nicely and was fast becoming one of the best defensive midfielders in the league. Patrick Vieira and, at a pinch, Pablo Zabaleta could both act as good cover in this department throughout what would surely big a long campaign. Surely we would have been better ploughing our vast financial resources into a different kind of player that could give us something different from central midfield positions.
club football. Due to taking up advanced positions, the Ivorian has already scored three goals for City this season – one more and he will equal the tally he reached in three seasons with Barcelona. One of those goals came in spectacular fashion at Upton Park against West Ham. A nice one-two with Barry saw Yaya lash in a shot from the edge of the area. The next goal – although ultimately credited as an own goal to Robert Greene – was all down to the power of Yaya, who latched onto a pass from de Jong and surged past the West Ham centre back to lash in from an unbelievably narrow angle. The Ivorian’s strength, pace, and exceptional close ball control skills make Yaya a perfect fit for the role that Mancini has created for him. And Yaya’s merits don’t end there. At 6ft 3 in, he gives us an aerial threat from set pieces and, at a pinch, a target man to aim at from goal kicks.
But whilst Yaya must be given credit for taking to his new role, the real praise must go to Mancini and his backroom team for seeing the wider picture. The accommodation of the Ivorian We would find out that Roberto Mancini had other ideas for into a midfield diamond is a microcosm of how Mancini wants Yaya Toure. Viewing the player very differently from other the whole team to play. This is no longer the City of the Eriksmanagers, the Italian took the view that as far as our midfield son and Hughes eras – teams that could play but that also was concerned, we could both have our cake and eat it. Far could too easily be muscled out of proceedings. The Mancini from being deployed in a defensive midfield capacity, Yaya era will be different. The Italian envisions a side that marries Toure was asked to attack from the middle of the park and sup- physicality to pace and welds footballing skill to tactical nous. port our forwards whenever possible. Appearances can be deceptive. On the surface we might well be labelled ‘boring City’, but to me this is fast becoming a fallaThe Ivorian has revelled in his new role at the sharp end of the cy as we begin to see the formidable threats that Mancini is engine room. With two defensive midfielders deployed behind building into this side. Who then is the real joker in the pack? A him – often in the guise of Barry and De Jong – Yaya has been certain ‘defensive minded’ Ivorian? Or a certain ‘defensive given licence to power forward in a way that is rarely seen in minded’ Italian? the Premier League these days – indeed, in any top flight of
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ack in 1988, long before the millions that arrived to transform the fortunes of the club as we stand today, City stood in the second tier of English football, trying to end the decade on a brighter note than most of the 1980’s had witnessed, following the successes of the previous decade. Words: Danny Pugsley, http://www.bitterandblue.com
ack in 1988, long before the millions that arrived to transform the fortunes of the club as we stand today, City stood in the second tier of English football, trying to end the decade on a brighter note than most of the 1980’s had witnessed, following the successes of the previous decade.
City headed into the 1988/89 season under the stewardship of Mel Machin, an amiable character who arrived at the club from Norwich following the relegation in 1987. Machin replaced Jimmy Frizzell, who had tried to steady the ship after Billy McNeil bolted for Aston Villa – of course becoming the first manager to take two clubs down in one season.
The previous season – the first after dropping out of the top flight – had been one of transformation. Out had gone some of the older names and in their places came a number of younger players – the ‘Boy Blues’ who had won the FA Youth Cup a couple of seasons before. Machin had blooded the likes of Andy Hinchcliffe, Steve Redmond, Ian Brightwell and Paul Lake. Alongside them were the veteran presence of John Gidman, Kenny Clements, Neil McNab and Imre Varadi. Although in with a shout of promotion over the first half of the season, the side fell away over the second half to end in mid table, some thirteen points off the promotion places. The side, however, did show some spirit in the Cup competitions: falling to Mer-
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seyside clubs Everton in round 5 of the outh three days after hitting six past League Cup and Liverpool in the quarter- them in the League Cup that saw many finals of the FA Cup. fans stay down in Devon on an extended break) and two goals as the up and down The Blues kicked off the new season with start to the season continued with Paul an away trip to Hull and came away emp- Moulden, Trevor Morley and Wayne Bigty-handed with a disappointing 1-0 degins all struggling in front of goal. The feat. Worse was to come two days later run even saw an infamous defeat at West as neighbours Oldham arrived at Maine Brom in midweek in which Brian Gayle Road and defeated the Blues 4-1, with a laid the blame for the Baggies’ winning solitary goal from Paul Lake the only goal on losing the flight of the ball in the consolation. Hawthorns’ floodlights. Typical City indeed. City steadied matters in their next pair of games with two consecutive draws at home to Walsall and away at Leeds, but four games in the Blues were still winless and in twentieth position in the league. The visit of Brighton would kick start the season though as goals from Brightwell and Moulden earned a 2-1 victory. This win would be the first of five in a row that hauled the side back up to eighth in the league and saw the Blues notch twelve goals in the process.
Crowds remained constant however, with an average attendance in the early 20,000’s being maintained despite the patchy performances.
After six games where the side had struggled, the side turned the tide. Biggins and Moulden were on the scoresheet as Watford were defeated 3-1 at home to kick start a run that saw the side hit top spot the week before Christmas with a 40 home win over Bradford. All in all the side experienced just one defeat in sixThis bright start was not to last though as teen games through to the start of March both the goals and wins dried up. The with eleven wins being posted. This run next six goals saw just one win (at Plym-
left the side in second position with a five point cushion over Blackburn in third place at the two- thirds mark of the season to really ignite hopes of the season ending in promotion.
Palace at Maine Road kept the Eagles at bay to earn what would be a vital point, largely thanks to the efforts of Nigel Gleghorn of course, that meant the side could clinch promotion behind Champions Chelsea with a week to go at home to Bournemouth, Over 30,000 headed to March would prove to be a goal laden Maine Road to witness the party and the month at both ends with a pair of 4-2 Blues got off to a flier. Paul Moulden hit wins over Leicester and two and Trevor Morley also got on the Sunderland, a 3-2 defeat away at runascoresheet as City romped to a threeway leaders Chelsea (who would take the goal lead at half time to cue scenes of title by a seventeen celebration. point margin) and an amazing 3-3 draw at Walsall, a game that saw Nigel GlegWith promotion in their grasp however, horn take the gloves from Andy Dibble City collapsed. Three unanswered goals following an injury to the Welshman with after the break meant City had blown a the side 2-0 down – proving the strength golden opportunity in a manner perhaps of character in such a young side. Amazonly City of that time could have maningly, Dibble would again be forced off aged and it saw a crucial two points injured at home to Crystal Palace at the dropped. Heading into the final game at tail end of the season. Gleghorn would Bradford City’s lead was down to three once again take the gloves, but not bepoints, allowing Crystal Palace a chance fore having the Blues’ goal in a 1-1 draw. to overhaul them on the final day. April could have been the month that City put one foot back in Division One, but City being City, nothing was achieved with ease or without putting their fans through the mill. Whilst back to back wins over Shrewsbury and Swindon were achieved, defeats to Brighton, Blackburn and Barnsley saw a huge eleven point lead at the start of the month whittled down to a far more slender five point margin. As the month of May arrived, City had three games in which to seal promotion. A hard fought draw against rivals Crystal
ther Crystal Palace goal would knock City into the playoffs, Trevor Morley slid home from David White’s ball to earn the draw and spark joyous scenes. City were back in the top flight, promoted with eighty-points, ultimately just one more than Crystal Palace whose late charge was not quite enough to overhaul the Blues. It had been an up and down season at times, but the consistent run from December onwards had the laid the foundations for a promotion that had not been widely expected at the outset. It was testament to Mel Machin that he achieved it despite bringing in so many young players over this and the previous season and it provided the likes of Redmond, Brightwell, Hinchcliffe, Lake and White the platform to launch long careers both at City and beyond.
City had mixed fortunes at the start of the following season, beating United 5-1 of course but in the main struggled to Thousands descended upon Valley Paadjust back in the top division. However, rade to see if City could shake off the it was still a major surprise when Mel nerves and indifferent form and return to Machin was sacked in early December by the top flight, knowing that just a solitary Peter Swales, primarily for ‘not connectpoint would be good enough. A Mark ing with the fans’. In his place came HowEllis goal midway through the first-half ard Kendall, who broke up much of the though saw the Blues trail at the break side Machin had put together and, with and worse as to come as news filtered Peter Reid succeeding him when he boltthrough that Crystal Palace had raced ed back to Everton, City went on to enjoy into a heavy lead – eating away the slight a period of stability not seen for some goal difference advantage that city enyears – achieved, many would say, on the joyed. City battled away in vain during back of that promotion campaign of the second-half and with just four 1988/89. minutes remaining, and knowing a fur-
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HEROES VS VILLAINS Words: Pete Cummings, http://www.mancityblog.com
here are heroes and villains at every football club and City are no different. The blues have had their fair share of both over the years so for our first edition of Heroes v Villains, we look at goalkeepers of a bygone era and pitch the legendary Bert Trautmann against the not so legendary Eric Nixon.
City have made some controversial signings over the years but signing an exGerman Paratrooper four years after the end of World War Two must rank amongst the most controversial of all time.
big German gradually won over the public with a series of brave displays, combined with the fact that he only missed five of the clubs 250 games since his signing.
Trautmann proved himself to be a valuable member of the team and when he Born in 1923, just five years after the end was named the Football Writers Player of the First World War, Bert Trautmann of the Year in 1956, it showed just how joined the German army and served with much he had won the public over. But it the Luftwaffe during the Second World was also in 1956 that his City status beWar until he was captured in 1941 by came legendary. British forces. It was FA Cup Final day and City played Birmingham at Wembley. With 15 minutes remaining and City 3-1 up, Birmingham launched an attack that caused the keeper to race from his line and dive bravely at the feet of Peter Murphy. Although he had been injured, Trautmann played on and made some excellent saves to preserve City’s lead and ultimately win the FA Cup. Upon Trautmann quickly made a name for taking his winners medal, it was noted himself and interest in him was taken by that his neck looked a little crooked but several clubs, most notably, City. Howit was only two days later that x-rays ever, anti-German feelings were still revealed Trautmann had suffered a brohigh amongst the public and the blues ken neck. would be taking a risk and face a huge public backlash if they signed him. Trautmann made 565 appearances for Trautmann sat out the remainder of the war in a Prisoner of War camp near Ashton in Makerfield and was offered the chance to be repatriated to Germany following the war’s end. Trautmann refused the offer, preferring to stay in the North West and began playing in goal for St Helens.
City but sadly never made an appearBut the blues pressed on with his signing ance for his country. At the time, Gerin 1941, which sparked protests involvman rules stated only those playing in ing over 20,000 people. However, the the German league would be eligible for 28
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selection to the national side. This meant Trautmann missed out on the 1954 World Cup, which was won by West Germany. Trautmann ended his career with a testimonial in 1964. If 20,000 people protested against his signing, more than double stood and applauded the man as 47,000 appreciative supporters gave him a deserving send off. Following his retirement, Trautmann moved into management with lower league sides in England and Germany and in 2004, his services to football were recognised as he was awarded an OBE for promoting Anglo-German relations through football, a deserving award for a deserving man.
By comparison, Eric Nixon was something of a strange choice between the City sticks but he did have some hard acts to follow. With Trautmann many years before him, Nixon also had to follow in the footsteps of Joe Corrigan and Alex Williams and never quite lived up to expectations. Manchester born, Nixon started his career with Curzon Ashton before City paid them £1,000 for his services in 1983.
Nixon finally made his debut for City in a home match against West Ham United, taking over from Alex Williams. Nixon conceded two goals as the blues drew 2-2 but remained between the sticks for all but six games of the season. But Nixon lost his place to Perry Suckling the following season and the keeper had four loan moves throughout the season to Wolves, Bradford, Southampton and Carlisle before returning to Maine Road for the final games of the season. Nixon kept three clean sheets in five games but unfortunately this couldn’t save City from relegation. Mel Machin’s arrival at Maine Road saw Nixon installed as number one choice, but a blunder in a League Cup first leg tie at home to Wolves saw him replaced for three games by on loan Bobby Mimms. Nixon was reinstated for the second leg of the tie and kept a clean sheet as the blues progressed thanks to a 2-0 win. Nixon kept his place in the side as City embarked on a 13 match unbeaten run, which ended with a 3-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace in December, a defeat in which Nixon was instrumental. The keeper had been booked earlier in the game and, with City leading 1-0, collected a backpass with no danger. However, Palace striker Mark Bright, whose dubious tactics had infuriated the City fans all afternoon, raced towards the City keeper at full speed. Nixon’s reaction should have been to step aside and make Bright looked stupid but, like all blues fans, he’d had enough of Bright and lashed out, catching the striker full in the face. City fans cheered his actions but the ref took a different view and showed the keeper a red card. In the days where substitutes were limited to two and keepers were never on the bench, the keeping responsibility fell to Steve Redmond, whose first task was to pick the resulting penalty out of the net. Nixon served a two-match suspension and was replaced by Suckling for two consecutive defeats. Nixon returned but was replaced by another on loan keeper in Mike Stowell for the trip to Blackburn and made just two further appearances, the first in an FA Cup 5th round tie against Plymouth, which the blues won 3-1 before his final appearance ironically, came on the final day of the season, a 2-0 loss at Palace. Overall, Nixon made just 84 appearances for City before his loan move to Tranmere was made permanent, spending nine years at Prenton Park. 29 TOPICAL CITY ISSUE TRAUTMANN AFTER INJURING HIS1 NECK
WE LIVE IN SANITISED TIMES Words: Simon Curtis, http://www.downthekippaxsteps.blogspot.com
MIDDLESBROUGH 2 CITY 0 – Ayresome Park, Saturday 25th February 1984
n its last few crumbly years, Ayresome Park represented what was typical of football in the eighties before the Premier League announced its arrival in a welter of scaffolding poles and cement dust. It was tired, cramped, cold, wet, out-dated, open to the elements, rust-laden, falling apart at the seams and switched between an atmosphere of tepid decay, prevalent all around in those days, and one of straightforward hostility, if and when the occasion warranted it. I well remember an early example of how the place could be in the seventies, when Jack Charlton’s Boro were entertaining a Coventry side that contained future City stars, Tommy Hutchison and David Cross. Boro were fresh out of the second division and on their way to a top ten finish for the first time in their history with a team boasting the likes of Craggs, Boam, Hickton, Foggon, the Davids, Mills and Armstrong, and a young, aggressive midfielder called Graham Souness (in those carefree days mispronounced “Sow-ness” by Messrs Motson, Davies and Moore). This particular game was featured on TV on the traditional Sunday afternoon highlights show and as a riotous 4-4 draw was played out, my eager eyes picked out a small bunch of Coventry supporters stuck in the middle of the terrace behind the goal to the right. Every time the away side scored, the usual glum silence would fall over the ground like a wet carpet, apart from a bobbing group of West-Midlanders caught in the midst of the home support. This was typical of early 70s football, where violence inside the ground was commonplace. Away fans had not yet been properly catered for with the barbed wire cages, 8 foot high perimeter fencing and segregation that awaited us in the 80s. Television viewers were not only left with the sight of these Coventry fans jumping around in amongst a sea of red and white scarf-wearing Middlesbrough supporters, like a bunch of unaware gazelles doing the hokey-cokey in the lion enclosure, but also with the throaty chant of “You’re Gonna get your Fucking Heads Kicked in”, as it rose immediately and menacingly from the smoke-clad home terraces. This would be a charmingly monotonous anthem all round the country for nearly two decades and, following City home and away, it always produced a frisson of fear to remind you that you still had to pick your way daintily to the trains afterwards, a feat I 30
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magnificently failed to do at Wolves, Huddersfield and Port vale with varyingly hilarious consequences. Maine Road would regularly echo to YGTGYFHKI in the early 80s when City found themselves dumped in the second division after a 17 year stint in the top flight and sparse away followings would be hemmed in between the vociferous end of the Kippax and the enthusiastic mob of casuals gathered in the Platt Lane Stand. How intimidating that must have been, with only flight through the labyrinthine alleys of Moss Side to look forward to after the game. I often found myself looking at the meagre away following of the smaller visiting clubs (Shrewsbury, Oxford, Cambridge all graced Maine Road between 84 and 88), and imagined them finding themselves heavily outnumbered in the face of hostile hosts in the cold back streets of Rusholme as soon as the game had finished. It was one thing to see the lanes and alleys and know exactly which one you needed to get to the chippy, the social club, the bus stop etc, but another thing altogether to be faced by a litter-strewn rabbit warren with the voices of the inquisitive closing in on you from all angles, and not have a clue which way to go. Ayersome Park offered much the same sort of experience. Getting there in the 1983–1984 season to see a second division game in the utterly bleak month of February, the place was barren, surrounded by bleak terraced houses with a backdrop skyline of bent cranes and cracked smoke stacks. A handful of half-derelict pubs were serving locals only and a wind whistled down the grey streets that would have knocked a fully grown polar bear off its feet. I had travelled across the Pennines in a train packed with Young Governors, a large group of Lacoste and Ellesse clad teenagers, who liked to
spend their Saturday afternoon’s looking for the rival home crew for well-dressed stand-offs. Reaching Darlington, my entire carriage emptied, charging off down the platform to look for locals to compare tracksuit tops with, leaving the rest of us with the dilemma, do we go with the young guns and get in a fight or stay on and get ambushed at Middlesbrough Central by the home welcoming party. Safety in numbers and a certain ruck, or no protection and a probable ambush. Ah, the joys of it all. I stayed on, aware of my fragile hangover and the need for a kebab before attempting the 100 metres in 11.4, but needn’t have worried. On alighting, we were soon aware of the famous pincer movement, as another big bunch of Manchester mannequins emerged from further down the train bellowing “we are the City boys”. Any thoughts of a subtle, trouble-free melting into enemy territory came to an abrupt halt. Joining the baying group, we were siphoned into a tunnel of huge scowling policemen. Whilst still on the train another edifying moment of 80s culturama had occurred, when it was discovered that the back end of this Intercity was carrying Cardiff’s City’s infamous crew on their way up to an away day tea party in Newcastle. These boys were seriously into their gear. A massive Welsh guy would pile through our carriage in a sheer white Tacchini tracksuit, white trainers with a motley bunch of immaculatelydressed valley-scallies as accessories. These were truly weird times. Everyone at the football seemed to be unemployed, dispossessed, or part of a sacked miners’ support team, yet these boys wore kit that was not merely expensive, it was sumptuous. It was the same wherever you went. These lads were dressed to, if not kill, then seriously maim. City’s hard
nuts were amongst the most feared in the country in the 80s, split between the wily savagery of the Guvnors and the energetic savagery of the Young Guvnors, and it often gave the pre-match build up an extra spice to be in their vicinity. 83-84 saw Chelsea, Sheffield Wednesday, Newcastle, City, plus the likes of Leeds, Cardiff; Portsmouth and Huddersfield in the second division together, each with micro groups of young, old and casual followings. The Big Four were taking seriously large numbers to most away games and there was always a high potential for fighting inside and outside the ground. I was at Maine Road for the visits of Newcastle and Sheffield Wednesday during this season and on both occasions we had more than 40,000 in the ground and a crackling atmosphere before and after. Another vivid memory of the season was being at Hillsborough when Newcastle came to town with a 12,000 strong away following. What mayhem there was that day in Sheffield city centre, mostly caused, I seem to remember, by the home fans, who at one point were attacking an old black and white striped Volkswagen camper van and trying to push the thing onto its side. The fact that it was packed with some 15 or so rotund Geordies kept it solidly on its axles. Such was the pre-match merriment in those pre-cabernet sauvignon days of yore. Middlesbrough, one-thirty pm. I had arranged to meet up with Neil, a mate from college, sadly to depart to the big football ground in the sky a couple of years later, who was a season ticket Boro fan and had said that we would be able to share a few pints before the game, and he duly escorted me away from the bubbling mass of spotty faces waiting for a punch-up at the station. We found ourselves a watering hole near the
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ground where the modus operandi in a place like Middlesbrough was to avoid talking. Nobody can do a Teesside accent like the Teessiders can. Although colours were never worn to away games in the eighties (replica shirt wearing pointyhatted carrier bag Happies were still a long way off), I occasionally risked the blue & white bar scarf tucked in under my jacket at places like Notts County where the away support would outnumber the home 2:1 and always wore the 80’s uniform of a small round metal pin badge of the City crest in the middle of my Lacoste or Pringle jumper (you see we were all at it). On this occasion the almost invisibly small pin badge made me feel hugely conspicuous in what was a real home fans’ den The equivalent at Maine Road would have been wandering whistling into the Parkside with a Stoke City badge on your lapel and an inflatable pink panther, singing Delilah as you pushed your way to the bar. Trying to look casual with a small “c”. The ground itself was a heap in those days. The tin barrel roof over the main stand looked precarious and the corners were open. The home end was away to our left – a great, steep terrace that looked alarmingly narrow and incredibly close to the pitch and the far end touchline - and we had been allocated the far corner terrace, much like Windy Corner at Maine Road before it, which was laughingly redeveloped into a Meccano set. There seemed no room to take a corner at the far end, so close was the terracing to the pitch. I wonder whether this was a ploy to intimidate visiting players and have the opposite effect on the Boro players. Often in later years you would see the likes of Bernie Slaven clambering up those big old fences at that end to celebrate with the surge of the great unwashed of Teesside coming down the terrace to meet him. It was freezing cold on this occasion, an icy wind making more conspicuous use of the City scarf necessary by this time. I noticed, as the match kicked off, that, bit by bit, the Young Governors were beginning to turn up, evident by their lateness and the bravado with which they greeted each other with tales of where they had been and who they had engaged. A giant blond guy with a huge, thick white fisherman’s jumper still springs to mind, as he clapped his arms around him and careered around the terrace reuniting himself with the clan. We could only have had about 2,000 there, on the back of the previous weekend’s home defeat to Keegan’s Newcastle and owing to the bad weather and the debilitating cost of away travel even then. Times were hard and a trip to Boro expensive and dangerous for the half-committed. In those days, you could wander around until you had found an agreeable spot, good spec, reasonable view, bit of cover or at least some shelter from the biting wind, perhaps near to the most vocal support, although the whole away section did its bit in those days.
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How any of us managed to be even half-committed at times during this season I will never properly know. We were suddenly down with the dead-men and were already looking unlikely to pip Chelsea, Wednesday and Newcastle to one of the three promotion spots on offer. The football was generally poor and the team was filled with Billy McNeill’s short-term, stopgap, cheap, Scottish recruits. The likes of Dalziel, Tomie, Parlane, McNab, Sullivan and McNaught certainly caught the eye and made it water. How far we had fallen from the recent days of Tueart and Reeves, Hartford and Watson, Barnes and Owen. Following City was very much like British life at the time: hard, rough, uncomfortable, bleak and unrelenting. As the miners’ strike cast a shadow across the North and Midlands, City were in a season where points would be dropped to the likes of Carlisle, Grimsby and Shrewsbury. We were all losing a little hope. Times were hard indeed. The match exemplified all of this to a tee. A scrappy windswept affair ruined by the elements’ treatment of our lightweight players, Kinsey, Tolmie, Lomax, May. The ball went where it wanted, the crowd groaned its resignation and we gradually became aware that this was not to be one of those heart-warming days that make it all worthwhile by teatime. This would be a day when nothing happened at all, nothing went in at either end, no crumb of comfort could be gained from a touch of skill or a daring goal attempt. Nothing at all. Just over 9,000 watched the game in a ground that had held nearly 40,000 two season’s earlier. Boro just survived relegation at the end of the season. There would be only 7,000 for the corresponding fixture the following season (a 2-1 Boro win) and Boro would be in the 4th division and in administration within three years. When the gates opened on a freezing, pitch black Middlesbrough skyline at the end, you just knew you’d be going again the following week. Shrewsbury at Maine Road? We’d be there! With the same doubts and grumbles, but we’d be there. The result dropped City to 5th; the lowest we’d been all season and the final three months to May saw us stutter to a final 4th place finish, well behind the top three. A 5-1 defeat at Fulham was still to come and crowd trouble at Oldham and in the home fixture with Chelsea, where the travelling fans gloated that they were going up at our expense, fillings pockets of the North Stand as well as a large portion of the away terracing next to the Platt Lane with their noisy support, helped confirm the worry that City were a long way short of what was needed to return to the Big Time. Within 12 months McNeill would manage just that, however, and dismal trips to Ayersome Park would be off the menu at last.
THE POWER STRUGGLE
SPENCER PRIOR INTERVIEW Words: BlueWolf, http://www.mcfcforumcom
pencer Prior. Twenty years in the English leagues, and spent 2000-2001 with Manchester City. With the upcoming FA Cup tie between two of Prior’s former clubs, MCFCforum caught up with Spencer and asked him a few things about his time at the club, and at Leicester City, amongst other things. Words: CoulsonTom, http://www.mcfcforum.com
he announcement of Carlos Tevez’s transfer request shocked many City fans due to the timing, during a week that the club could have become the league leaders at Christmas. The fact that Tevez wanted to leave, was not a surprise given the players recent admission of homesickness. Though, there was a touch of irony that the club website posted an interview with Tevez in which he stated his desire to remain at City for the rest of his contract. It would be a shock to no one if Tevez were to leave the club in the summer but any move would be on the clubs terms. When the club put a strong statement on the official website stating that Tevez will remain at City, they provided a signal of the power of the club. In the modern game, players have the power as they demand such high transfer fees that many clubs cannot afford to miss out on, such as Edin Dzeko. When you are a player at the richest club in the world who pay higher wages than any other club, the situation is entirely different. If they so wish, City could keep a player at the club until the end of his contract and never play him, such is the size of Sheik Mansour’s personal fortune. The most likely outcome however, is a summer move for Tevez to Real Madrid in Spain. Despite suggestions otherwise, Madrid is closer to Buenos Aires than Manchester, as a direct flight is available from Madrid but not from Manchester where at times three connections can have to be made. This would still have been a victory for the club, Tevez helps the team challenge for the title and the Europa league, and he is not sold to a domestic rival.
Tevez is rewarded for Champions League qualification with the move he so desperately wanted. Comparisons were made with Wayne Rooney’s contract saga but the big difference is that United are a club in decline and they were desperate to keep hold of Rooney which forced them to commit to an extra £28,600,000 worth of wages for the player. City could force Tevez to remain at the club without having to fork out any extra cash. Whilst Tevez’s situation was in limbo, there was much debate about whether Tevez should remain as captain. Doubts about Roberto Mancini’s decision to keep Tevez as captain eroded after the game winning performance against Newcastle on Boxing Day. The “badge-biting” celebration will return, probably on February 12th. Credit has to go to Mancini for his handling of the situation and he has shown in his year in charge, how the decision to sack Mark Hughes was an excellent decision which has moved the club forward. Mancini’s strict control of the players and insistence on hard work on the training ground has paid off. His training regime was laughably accused of causing the players injuries in a scandalous piece of opportunism by a former club employee and Hughes chum. City has many jealous enemies, but the club is far more powerful than any of them. TOPICAL CITY ISSUE 1