Newsletter #808

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Tonight sees Don’s news round-up with continuing media speculation over who’s coming, who’s going and we’re not yet into the silly-season proper. Also news on the pre-season friendly games for you to get in your diaries.

We also have a lovely match view from Mike in Oz who made an unexpected return to Maine Road for the last game against Pompey.

Plenty of opinion on TV, our near miss and some great Blue Humour.

Next game: to be announced

NEWS SUMMARY

General News

Friendly Games Announced: Lincoln City’s website report that City have agreed to play a pre-season friendly at Sincil Bank. Lincoln are in dire financial straits at the moment, and are currently in administration. Kevin Keegan had offered to send a reserve team to play there this week, in order to raise much needed funds for the Imps, but this offer was turned down. Instead, the Blues will play Lincoln in July or August. It will be a nostalgic trip for Darren Huckerby, who began his League career at Sincil Bank, and will not bring such pleasant memories for Blue fans – one of the lowest points during the season in the Second Division was a midweek defeat by the Imps. City have also confirmed that their pre-season fixtures will start with two games in Ireland, with the opposition yet to be confirmed but the games will be played over a two-day period starting on Friday 26th July. A match against Bury will take place on Wednesday 31 July at Gigg Lane.

Trophy on Display: It’s been announced that you can touch the True Championship trophy, and have your picture taken doing it, at Maine Road’s “End of an Era” weekend, on May 18 and 19. Further details of all the events on offer can be found on the official club website.

New Chief Scout Appointed: Tottenham’s website has announced that their Chief Scout Graham Carr has left Spurs to take up a similar position at Maine Road. There has, however, been no official confirmation of the appointment from City. If true, Carr will fill the rôle recently vacated by Arthur Cox’s elevation to the post of Assistant Manager.

England Recognition for Youngsters: England have made a winning start to the UEFA under-17 Championship campaign in Denmark. City youngster Lee Croft played in the opening game in Denmark, a 3-2 win over Finland. Croft also starred in the 2-0 victory against Holland on Tuesday, setting up both England goals. Shaun Wright-Phillips meanwhile has been rewarded for his excellent club form with a place in England’s squad for the under-20 tournament in Toulon. The tournament begins on Monday May 6, where England face China, Poland, Portugal and Brazil.

Bond Predicts Uphill Struggle: Former Blues’ manager John Bond believes that City will find it tough going next season. “Hopefully they will do quite well and they’ll hold their own,” said the man with the Silver Bouffant. “All of a sudden there are two or three divisions within the Premier League, and the likes of Tottenham, Everton and Aston Villa will never be big clubs again in terms of really being able to splash out the money that will enable them to be successful. You might, on the odd occasion, get somebody who does really well and have a really good season – an Ipswich or a Sunderland – but overall, the people who win trophies are Arsenal, Liverpool, Man United and maybe Newcastle and Leeds.”

Transfer News and Gossip

Loran on Way: KK has revealed his intention to sign Volendam’s young centre-half Tyrone Loran. It seems that Loran has trained with the Blues, and the Boss Man likes what he sees. “We had him here for three days and quite honestly were very impressed with him. We have had a lot of players here over the year but with Tyrone we are going to pay the get out clause in his contract and take him,” explained the manager. “I think he will be here next season, though the deal is not done and dusted yet. When someone like this comes along, and the deal is not big money, you say let’s give him a chance and let us take a chance and that is what we will do. He will better us as a squad and we haven’t got a young player like him. We have some good young players but not one in that defensive position. We cannot expect our Academy to produce every player for every position in the club.” Arnold Muhren meanwhile has put a bit of a dampener on the deal by suggesting that Loran is not ready for life abroad. “I have seen him play once or twice in Volendam, actually I saw him last week,” said the ex-Red this week. “He is still very young and I think he is a little bit too young to move to a club like Manchester City because he has only been playing regularly in the side for half a year. He is doing quite well, but I still think it is still a little bit early for him to go there. The Premier League is a very hard and tough league.”

Swap The Goat Fow Who? Sheffield United have denied a report saying that City have offered The Goat in exchange for the Blades’ “highly rated” midfielder Michael Tonge. A United spokesperson said: “This is the first I have ever heard of it, it just sounds like a rumour.”

Ince Rumour Resurfaces: You can thank local radio station GMR for this one. In the wake of Effing Steffenberg’s refusal to sully himself in the working class North of England, GMR speculated that City could renew their interest in self-named and self-important “Guv’nor” himself, Paul Ince, to fill the Horlock rôle as defensive midfielder. This in spite of chairman David Bernstein’s denial that Ince had ever been a City target. Ince’s contract at Middlesbrough runs out this summer, and the player is thought to be looking for a club nearer to his family nearer home on the Wirral. What about Tranmere Rovers, Paul?

Whitley Will Go: Boss Man Keegan has made it clear that Jeff Whitley does not feature in his future plans. “Jeff will be available,” confirmed Keegan. “I can’t say he won’t get a shirt here again but it would be in the reserves as I can’t see him playing for the first team again. Jeff knows what his situation is now at the club. He went to Notts County and did a great job for them there, but he has slipped down the pecking order. He has a year left on his contract, but could end up playing in the reserves,” explained the manager. “I know that will be difficult for him as he is a Manchester City fan but I can’t see him making the first team. As a player around the place he is great and I don’t have any argument with him.” Whitley has not been near the first team since breaking his ankle in the second game of the season at Norwich.

Stam & Davids Swap? A couple of weeks ago, Edgar Davids was proclaiming his loyalty to Juventus, with whom he wanted to stay for another two years. That killed City’s interest in the player. Two weeks before, fellow Dutch nandrelone user Jaap Stam had politely told City where to go, as he was happy at Lazio. Well waddya know, this week the Italian press report that there is a potential swap deal involving the two players, with Davids off to Lazio and Stam going to Turin.

In Like Clint: Could City have another native of Georgia in the team next season? This time it’s a player from the US State, as Clint Mathis has been dropping a few hints about a move to Maine Road. The 25-year old has had a prolific year for both club and country, scoring five times for the USA, including two against Germany last month. Some reports say that Juan Carlos Osario, who worked with the striker during his time at the New York Metro Stars, has recommended Mathis to KK. “Of course, I’m willing to keep my doors open and see what can best benefit my future, my family and my career in the long run,” said Mathis. “It’s definitely something I have to look at, but we have to go through the league and see who contacts them, but I’m definitely interested. I don’t know Kevin Keegan personally, but from just seeing games and watching how Kevin played – just being attacking-minded and free to go forward – is definitely a style I would enjoy. I really don’t have a say-so unless people are interested, but it is one of those things that is a good possibility to pursue,” he added.

Barmby Targetted: The Daily Mirror has reported that City and Sunderland are showing an interest in Liverpoool’s midfielder Nicky Barmby. The England international has not featured in first team action recently, and could be available for a £4 million fee. KK is said to be a long time admirer of Barmby, who regularly featured under Keegan during his spell as England manager. The 28-year-old has reportedly rejected a move back to his former club Tottenham, claiming he wants to remain in the North. Barmby has however dismissed talk of his departure, and claims he wants to stay at Anfield. “I’m at Liverpool, I’m enjoying my time at Liverpool and all I’m concentrating on is working hard and getting back in the team,” he said today.

Albertz Rumour: The German press have reported that KK could stage a raid on his former club SV Hamburg for midfielder Jorge Albertz. The former Rangers hero has endured a torrid season in the Bundesliga, and said recently, “I’m still unsure of my future. This season has been a disaster for me.”

Ex-Blues’ News

Permanent Deal for Cooke? Grimsby Town are hoping to offer ex-Blue Terry Cooke a contract, but it’s been reported that any deal is dependent upon The Mariners receiving funds due to them from ITV Digital, who have folded this week owing the Football League £178 million. Cooke played three times for Grimsby, scoring once.

Reactions and Comments

Peter’s Friend: Gary Pallister is the latest ex-Red to give his view about old buddy Peter Schmeichel. “I’ve no doubt big Peter will do a first class job for City. He is coming to the end of a marvellous career but still has formidable presence as a ‘keeper and will command immense respect”, said Pallister. “Stuart Pearce has enjoyed a wonderful season as City’s inspirational old warhorse and I see Peter doing precisely the same next season. Peter is not as agile as he used to be, but he is still a master when it comes to organising a defence. I had a few ear bashings from him in my time – who didn’t! Nevertheless it was always good knowing such a wonderful goalkeeper was behind you – he instilled great confidence to everyone. I wish Peter and City all the best. His style and manner will certainly keep the defence on their toes. There is no finer reader of a game. I fully understand why Kevin Keegan went for him because he brings to City a wealth of experience, the kind that can only benefit those around him. He could be in line for another excellent season.”

Eyal’s Verdict: The Sunday before last Eyal Berkovic enjoyed his second consecutive promotion to the Premiership. Following his successful loan spell with Blackburn Rovers last season, Eyal was pleased to get on the pitch for the last twenty minutes of the final game with Portsmouth. “It was a great season and we enjoyed the party last Sunday,” he said. “It is always fantastic to win trophies, but from now on we need to forget about what has gone and look to next season because it is going to be very tough. I was not really fit for the Portsmouth game but I will be ready for next season. I am very happy at Manchester City and someone who is happy in their work will always make an impression. What I want to do more than anything is to make sure the future at this club is equally enjoyable. We have nothing to fear next season as long as we continue to improve. We have some wonderful players at the club and I am sure the manager will buy more quality in the summer and we will be a competitive team. It will be a difficult and tough season. There is a big difference between the First Division and the Premiership. The quality is much better; all the players at the club know that. We have to be better technically, mentally and in every other department but we are ready for the challenge. My mind is on it already.”

Squad News

Psycho and KK Discussions: There’s still no word of the job prospects of our captain Stuart Pearce. KK has reported that he’s been to see Pearce at home to discuss the situation. “I will be combining business with pleasure having a real good chat over the job offer I have for him and taking a look at his stud farm. Hopefully, it will be right for him but there are lots of things for him to consider. Stuart has already been offered jobs and will continue to be offered jobs, we know that. If he gets the right offer and he wants to go we will just shake his hand and say thank you. You never know, we could be sat here in five years time and he could be replacing me, it is a possibility. Stuart is a very special guy and deserves everything he has got out of football. In fact, if I am honest, he probably deserves more than he has got out of football.”

Shuker A Macc Man? City’s former Assistant Manager David Moss would like to take City winger Chris Shuker on a season long loan. The Macclesfield Town boss said “Shuker is definitely one I’m interested in. We’re missing a genuine wideman in the side. City have made positive noises so far and I’m very hopeful we’ll be able to sort something out.” Shuker has already been on loan with the Moss Rose club – he spent two months there at the end of the 2000-2001 season.

Horlock Wants More: Kevin Horlock has just finished his most successful season at the club, and the Northern Ireland international is keen to extend his stay. “I have got a year left on my current contract and I will perhaps have a word with the manager, see what happens and then see if I can get something sorted out over the summer,” explained Horlock. “I want to stay at Manchester City and be a part of this team for as long as I can,” he declared. He admits to enjoying the anchor rôle he has assumed. “I had only played in that rôle in bits and pieces before and I really enjoyed it. It obviously helped having great players around me and ideally, I would like to continue in that position next season. You cannot take anything for granted though and all the players here know that. The system may change for the Premiership and the personnel certainly will. All I can do is go away this summer, relax with my wife and family and come back in pre-season as fit as possible and ready to impress. I know I am going to be under pressure next season, I have had that before. It is all part and parcel of football. Players have been bought this season to play in the position in which I play and others will probably come in too. I am used to the challenge and it is something that as a professional you should relish. The only aim I have now is to make sure I have got a shirt for that first game of the new season and then take it from there.” Kevin Keegan has since made it clear that Horlock should be getting his wish. “Kevin will be made an offer to extend his contract by another year. I think he was looking for a two year extension so we shall see what happens,” said KK. “He has had a great season and he deserves to be offered a new contract, there is no doubt about that. He has been sensational for us this year, but we have to be honest and we can’t offer everyone three or four year contracts.”

Don Barrie (djb1305@yahoo.co.uk)

MATCH VIEW: MCFC 3 PORTSMOUTH 1

It is some 18 months since I last attended a home game (City vs. Leicester 0-1 back in October/Nov 2000 to be exact) and what a change has come over this team!

I arrived back in Manchester unexpectedly for a funeral and despite only being there 9 days managed to catch the biggest party at Maine Road for many a moon. No doubt many of you are recovering from the “before and after celebrations” that had been planned since the previous home game.

Courtesy of some help from Ian (Spider) Mellor and the Past Players’ Association, which I qualify for, I sat in the Main Stand alongside Ian, his son Neil (a Liverpool Reserves striker, a good one at that), Dave Gibbons (1968-71), Ged Keegan (1971-77) and Keith Barnes (son of Ken Barnes). Many a match report has been sent in so I will not bore anybody with the obvious except to say that I agree with Ian’s earlier comments to me on the phone that this is the best City have played since the hallowed days of Booky, Buzzer, Belly, Lee One Pen and Big Mal (you know who they are).

The short passing and control of the game was a joy to watch, with Benarbia pulling the strings, Horlock steadying things in the middle, Huckerby mesmerising both the young Portsmouth player asked to mark him and occasionally himself, Dunne, Howey and Psycho mopping up what Pompey could muster. We did not quite kill them off until late in the game courtesy of young Macken and we cannot let Premier League teams come back into the game like we did with Portsmouth! But heck, this was after all a game for the players to enjoy with the title sealed weeks earlier so apologies for my being hard on them.

I hope that we have not seen the last of the Goat, who I admire for the honest way he goes about his job and he is always going to get a sniff at goal wherever he plays; remember he scored around 9-10 goals in the Premiership last time out with limited appearances. SWP has come on leaps and bounds and looks destined for a long career, hopefully with City, and has matured as a player. Benarbia and Berkovic are quality players but I am not sure whether they can both start regularly in the Premiership. Horlock will do what he is best at and that is being the steady player in midfield. Jensen looks very dependable and may even improve in the higher division. Tiatto to me still needs to improve his final pass, there is no doubting his aggression at the ball and man but it needs to be channelled for him to become a better player. Huckerby must be a nightmare to mark because he is not sure which way he is going to run at you so what chance have defenders got?! He will be a handful at the next level but unsure just how he will go as regards scoring?

Dunne and Howey looked untroubled but will have to work hard against the likes of Van Dufflecoat and Teary for pace. Hopefully KK has the pieman on a strict diet between now and pre-season otherwise he will be harder to get around than he was on Sunday (felt sorry for the young strikers Pompey had trying to beat him for strength). Nash was quiet on Sunday but looks confident, both him and Nicky will benefit from Schmeichel’s arrival. Macken will improve all the time with games but may find it hard depending on who comes in. Pearce will be sadly missed because it is very hard to replace his type of aura around the field; I can only marvel at the intensity at his age and his genuine desire at all times to win the ball. The game is sadder for his retirement.

All in all a great day to have been back in town and highlights for me were:

  1. The magnificent Blues’ supporters.
  2. Having Joe Mercer’s widow on the ground pre-match.
  3. The “blow up doll” in the North Stand in the second half (lock up your daughters stuff).
  4. Singing at the end of “Rocking all over the world”.
  5. Lap of honour for all players who contributed to a great season.

Only downside would have to be that penalty which I am still convinced that Beasant had no intention of stopping (see the replay) he did not move either way! Still, I suppose Psycho finished how we remember him, never less than 150% even when a little less power would have given him goal 100 for his career.

A great day and pleased to have been there to see. Looking forward to Foxtel here in Australia next season to see how we fare.

Regards to all Blues’ fans.

Mike Brennan, ex-Blue, Allison-Mercer era (Michael.Brennan@leighmardon.com.au)

OPINION: ITV

It is easier not to worry about the worsening ITV Digital situation now that we are up but I feel we should and can do something. I’m not a Bury fan but they are still a “Manchester” team as far as I am concerned and this situation is not OK. It was suggested before, and I think it is a very good idea, that people boycott ITV programmes and in particular Coronation Street since it would have the most impact on ITV and Granada. Now just watching it is not enough, the stations and the media need to be made aware that people are turning off and advertisers need to be informed that their products and services will not be supported until ITV pays up. Now I suppose you need to watch to find out who is currently buying the advertising slots around Coronation Street but if enough people put pressure on the advertisers I think you will see a miraculous turnaround.

Martin Prendergast (martinjprendergast@hotmail.com)

OPINION: UNCLE JOE

While having lunch yesterday in the New North Pole Pub, North Pole Road, North Kensington, I noted JR was having lunch at the next table. I approached him to ask him to sign an autograph for my son who was born 15th April this year. Joe was very gracious seeing he had been bothered by an overgrown kid while he was trying to have a peaceful lunch and signed the menu for George with a short note to him when he grows up. In an attempt to engage him in some small-talk I asked him if he had made it to Maine Road this season? “NO!” He replied, giving the impression that this did not carry too many regrets for him. “Not since the (regime) took over!” he added.

I have always been a big fan of Joe, both as a player and a manager; does anyone know the full story regarding why he is now so pis**d off or the real story behind the way he was sacked?

St. John Cox (COXST@bupa.com)

OPINION: JUST DESSERTS

Could not resist the opportunity after spending the whole year listening to those egotistical, arrogant Rags so now it’s my turn. First of all thanks to all at MCIVTA, the subscribers, Mr B, KK and of course all the team for a great year. Not only winning the 1st Division Championship, but doing it in style.

Let’s hope, and I think he will, that KK spends wisely in the closed season. Do we really need “bonehead” from Leeds? If the speculation is correct then perhaps we need the makers of Monopoly to sponsor us, that way we get “Get Out of Jail Free” cards in case we need them.

Come on 2002-2003.

Graham Jones (gjp69@bigpond.com)

OPINION: NEAR MISS I

Just a couple of opinions especially regarding the obscene wages ‘Effenberg’ wanted to join City. I believe in this day and age when more and more clubs are going to the wall, City are right to refuse to pay crazy wages to someone way past his prime. A couple of players are needed to strengthen the team for next season, but not at the expense of some money grabbing import keen to make a few bob in his last years. We need skilful players prepared to work and earn their wage.

As for the ‘ditty’ for Sun Jihai, an excellent terraces piece, meant in good humour and not the least offensive!

David Barrow (David@wheelie55.freeserve.co.uk)

OPINION: NEAR MISS II

“When you fly in the plane descends through a mixture of chimney smoke and smog. Manchester is a typical working-class town with 10 per cent unemployed” – in response (supporting) Stephen Burt’s comments in MCIVTA 807, isn’t Manchester a smoke free City? :op

James Walsh (James.Walsh@durham.gov.uk)

OPINION: NEAR MISS III

I agree with your correspondents about Effenberg. I also think it would be wrong to get Ince. We clearly have a wonderful spirit at Maine Road amongst the players (look how the senior professionals spoke up for both Weaver and Dunne when KK wanted to drop them) and it would be a shame to lose that. We have lost our captain now that Pearce has retired and KK needs to be careful who he picks for that rôle.

Some readers may recall how Joe Royle brought in Haaland and immediately made him captain – and this was for a team which had just been promoted. That might have been divisive. In KK’s case it was clear that we needed a leader on the pitch and our confidence was low (Haaland was injured anyway, although I never rated him as a captain). To bring in someone like either Ince or Effenberg who give the impression of being somewhat arrogant would probably be an error. I’d have liked to have seen Steve Howey as the captain but fear that he will not be good enough in the Premier league. We need someone with speed at the back.

Ian Burgess (i.burgess@virgin.net)

OPINION: IZZY COMING, IZZYECK

Last posting, Larry Higgs’ medication (or the effect of Metro News) led him to obsess about errant, bookable ‘Izzey Muzzett’s’ likely signing for City and dumb, greedy ‘Effen Steffenberg’s’ involvement in the same conspiracy! How dare he confuse his own neurosis with the rational decisions of his authority figure MCFC? Delusional thinking? You bet! And I know because I’ve been there. I once fantasised we signed a lumbering, self-aggrandising Weorge Geah. I have now recovered and have accepted the fact that he never existed. Selective memory or repression?

Come on you… forgot now.

Dr Sigmund Freud-Kippax, a.k.a. Chris Horrocks (chris@twin.ftech.co.uk)

REQUEST: PERTH (DOWN UNDER) BLUES

Just a quick reminder to all blues in Perth. The Championship Party is on this Saturday 4th May at 7.00pm at Boathouse Brewery, 1/9 Mercer Lane, Joondalup. Contact Colin or Lorraine on 08 9405 6896 or Mob 0409 562 158 for all details.

Let’s do it in style, see ya there.

CTID, Steve Potter (steve.potter@godfreyhirst.com)

REQUEST: SPARE QUINN TICKETS

I have 4 tickets for Niall Quinn’s testimonial and unfortunately due to work commitments am not able to go. They are near the front of the Metro FM South Stand (behind one of the goals) and cost £21 each.

Please email me if you want them, you can have 4 for the price of 3 or I could split them into 2 lots of 2.

Regards, Jane McCulloch (jane.mcculloch@oracle.com)

BLUE HUMOUR: KEEGAN’S KOCK-UPS

Now that the season’s over (and my computer’s dying) I thought I’d share a collection of Klassic Keegan Kwotes that I’ve collected over the course of the entire season. I’ve done it out of affection for the guy really

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