Newsletter #812

After Monday’s quiet issue, tonight is packed with Don’s news summary, news on latest signings/potential signings and all goings on City-related, plenty of opinion, requests and reports on Quinn’s testimonial.

Confirmation today that Bradford City have been placed into administration, which will be carefully monitored given the ITV Digital fiasco and over-inflated player contracts. Hopefully they will resolve the situation but I fear this could be the first of many over the next few months.

This weekend (Sat & Sun) sees the City ‘Memorabilia’ Exhibition down at Maine Road with fun fair, exhibition, tours, etc.

Next game: to be announced


General News

Facilities Improved: KK wants City to have winning facilities as well as a winning team. He’s already instigated a facelift of the Maine Road dressing rooms, and now he believes that the training amenities will be second to none. “I think the buying of Carrington will be the making of this club,” said the Boss Man. “This is where we are based, it is where we do all our work and after the ninety minutes on a Saturday it is the most important place. If you don’t get the training right then it can affect the play on a Saturday,” explained the boss. “We are going to have a new physio centre, with a hydro-pool and we will have parking for the fans who will be invited in on certain days to see how the players work on a day to day basis. We will have an all weather pitch for the start of next season while we are spending more money on the other surfaces as well. I think we will have as good a training ground as good as anyone. When I was at Liverpool we had a great training ground. And a lot of it has come for me from Bill Shankly when he used to say, ‘Look after the small things, the big things will look after themselves.’ I changed the dressing rooms at Maine Road for the same reason that I have made changes at Carrington. When I walked in to them they did not do anything for me. I did not think they were really clean and smart. I approached the Chairman and despite that fact that I knew we were moving in two years time I told him that I wanted the players to walk in to the dressing room and believe that we really cared for them. The work had been left for too long with the excuse that we would be moving to the new stadium. We made the changes and it cost £20,000. That is ten grand a year divided by fifty-two, so you are talking about a hundred pounds a week. For that the physio’s room is like a clinic now. The showers are fantastic and there is enough changing area for twenty people as it had been built at a time when there were only eleven players and a twelfth man. It may seem like a small thing, but it is down to the Bill Shankly theory again.”

Boss Backs Youngsters: Lee Croft and Dorryl Proffitt should be involved with England Under-17’s third place play-off fame in Denmark on Friday, and the progress made by the pair has reached the attention of Mr. Keegan. “It pleases me that they are hitting the headlines and it shows that the players who we have got coming through potentially, and that’s all it is at the moment potential, are achieving things at the highest level. If you are an English player who can’t do any more than play for England U17; that is the highest level you can get to. But there is a lot of hard work ahead and a lot of pitfalls. But at this moment in time both of them are showing the right signs and at the highest level,” commented the Boss.

Pearce Plays Again! … but not for too long. Stuart Pearce was part of Kevin Keegan’s all-star England team that took on Southampton in Matt Le Tissier’s testimonial match on Tuesday night. Other ex-England stars to turn out were Alan Shearer, Paul Gascoigne and Chris Waddle.

World Cup Warm-Ups: There have been a number of international friendlies played this week, and some have featured our World Cup-bound boys. Tuesday night saw little Richard Dunne playing for the Republic of Ireland against Sunderland in Niall Quinn’s testimonial game. All being well, Dunnie will feature in Thursday’s game at Lansdowne Road against Nigeria, while on the other side of the world Sun Jihai will play for China in a friendly against Uruguay. Friday sees two City players going head-to-head; Lucien Mettomo meets Niclas Jensen, as Denmark face Cameroon in Copenhagen.

Transfer News and Gossip

Bischoff Signs: Now this was a surprise move. On Wednesday morning City announced that they had signed the 20-year-old defender Mikkel Bischoff for AB Copenhagen for £750,000. The fourth Dane in Kevin Keegan’s squad was signed after City beat off competition from Arsenal and Aston Villa. “Mikkel came very highly recommended to us and once Graham Carr and Arthur Cox had checked with their contacts we had to move swiftly,” stated Dennis Tueart. “Other Premiership clubs were interested in the lad who is essentially a right-sided central defender but who is equally at home with his left foot. He will find it difficult to win an immediate place in the side but we have shown what we think of him by agreeing a four-year deal and now it is up to him. I have to say during negotiations he struck me as someone with ambition and intelligence. He asked all the correct questions and I am sure he will be a great asset to us. Kevin has always said he would like to get a couple of deals sorted out as early as possible because this way it gives the players time to adjust to where they will be playing next season and to finding a home and settling down before coming back to work. Thanks to the global nature of the game these days relocation always has to be a factor in transfers. I remember spending five weeks in a hotel when I first signed for City and it was glamorous for about seven days. This way Peter Schmeichel and Mikkel have plenty of time to sort out arrangements.” Bishoff’s manager at AB Cophenhagen, Ove Chrsitiensen, said “Technically and physically Mikkel has everything he needs to be an English Premiership player. All he lacks is the experience but I am sure that given time he will prove a success at Manchester City. I am disappointed to lose him but I am sure Kevin Keegan is just the person to take Mikkel to the top.”

Vuoso Here Soon: Tuesday morning saw another surprise press announcement. City were on the verge of signing of Independiente striker Matias Vicente Vuoso for £4 million. KK has pounced for the 20 year old after Athletico Madrid were about to sign the Argentinian, who will not require a work permit as he holds an Italian passport. It seems he is a former team mate of Reds’ striker Diego Forlan. How wonderful it would be if Vuoso does make it to Maine Road, and scores a Premiership goal before his buddy Forlan, who has failed to do so in 17 games for the Reds?

Battle for Distin: Last week’s rumours concerning Sylvain Distin have firmed up this week. When Distin’s club Paris St. Germain announced that they wished to sell the defender to help finance other deals, a host of clubs were supposed to be interested. Apart from Newcastle and City, Blackburn Rovers, Olympiakos and French champions Lyon were mentioned as interested parties. Distin wants to play in England, in central defence, so was seen in some quarters as the ideal replacement for Stuart Pearce. Distin has the same agent as Ali B, so City were thought to be in prime position to sign the 24-year-old. Distin’s agent was quoted as saying “He would have been more than happy to stay at Newcastle, but he wants to play as a centre-back rather than a full-back,” he said. “Manchester City are one of the clubs interested and I think they are favourites to sign Distin. He was impressed by them in their FA Cup match at Newcastle – they play good football under Kevin Keegan and have passionate fans.” The M.E.N. reported that the deal with City was all but complete. If this was a ploy by Distin’s people to obtain a better deal from Newcastle, it looked like working, because Tuesday’s press reports said that Newcastle’s representatives were meeting Distin’s agents in a “last ditch attempt” to seal a permanent deal with Distin, who has been in impressive form for the Geordies this season on loan. At the time of posting this summary, City are still reckoned to be the favourites to sign the defender, subject to a medical.

Ritchie Farewell: As the stories of Sylvain Distin surfaced, the papers were pretty sure whom the Frenchman would replace. Once again, the unlucky sacrifice was going to be Paul Ritchie. Despite some solid performances for the Blues at the start of their last Premiership season, Ritchie’s career at Maine Road has been blighted by injury. The Scotsman has made only eleven league starts for City, and the arrival of any more defenders may well push the 26-year-old further down the pecking order.

Unwanted Duo Stay Where They Are: It looks like two of City’s less likely targets are staying with their current clubs. The charming Lee Bowyer is about to sign a new contract with Leeds, according to Chairman Peter Ridsdale. Bowyer’s comment on the situation: “I don’t want to leave but, at the end of the day, I’m just a piece of meat. If the club want to sell me then that’s what they’ll do. If they offer me the sort of deal I want, of course I’ll stay. The chairman has said some players will have to be sold this summer. If I’m one of them, what can I do?” Lovely. Jaap Stam’s agent meanwhile has confirmed that the bald drug user will not be gracing Maine Road with his presence. “There was some interest from Manchester City and other enquiries from Newcastle, but Jaap has always said to me that he doesn’t want to return to England. He still has three years left on his contract with Lazio, so it seems he will play for Lazio in the new season.”

Fee High Foe Come: Not such good news for Kevin Horlock perhaps, but a more acceptable transfer target got a mention in the Sunday papers. City are supposed to be interested in Lyon’s defensive midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe. The Cameroon international has just won a French Championship medal, following a brief career in England with West ham United and an abortive move to Old Trafford, and is supposed to be anxious to try his luck in England again. A fee of £4 million has been mentioned. Lyon however have played down talk of a transfer. “Foe is on holiday in Cameroon and is preparing for the World Cup,” said a club spokesman. Lyon’s coach has just been made Technical Director, so a move would seem unlikely until a new coach is appointed.

No, Not Again… The chilling name of Paul Ince has been linked yet again with City and Everton. Ince is now out of contract with Middlesbrough, and is trying to find if he still has a future on Teeside. Ince said, “The ball is in the club’s court. I can’t say I will definitely be here next season. Chief Executive Keith Lamb has been away in Spain and I have not been able to get it sorted out. I have told them what I want and they need to come back to me.” United’s Ronnie Johnsen meanwhile has left Old Trafford after having his contract cancelled – guess where the newspapers think he’ll end up? If you said “Maine Road”, give yourself five points. The 32-year-old is now available on a free transfer, and as KK has said he’d like to strengthen the defence, Johnsen is supposed to fit the bill.

Chase for Youngster: City, Borussia Dortmund and Glasgow Rangers are the clubs mentioned as potential destinations for young defender Manuel Friedrich of German Second Division Mainz. Mainz are willing to accept a cut-price offer of £2 million for the highly-rated youngster. Rangers are considered favourites to sign the player, whose agent is former Rangers and England star Trevor Steven.

Ex-Blues’ News

Jobson For Rochdale: Richard Jobson has been offered the chance to move into coaching by his current club Rochdale. Jobbo arrived at Spotland on a free transfer from Tranmere Rovers in March, and ‘Dale would like to keep Jobson for another year. Also at Spotland is Paul “Simmo” Simpson (how do they think up these nicknames?). Known to City fans as a left winger, Simmo played over a hundred games for the Blues in the 80’s. He joined ‘Dale earlier this year from Blackpool, and scored in their losing Division Three play-off semi-final. Meanwhile, former Blue David “Brother of Ian” Brightwell has been released by Darlington.

It’s An Outrage! You have to wonder what the members of the League Managers’ Association were drinking at their awards bash this week. Despite finishing a massive ten points behind the Mighty Laser Blues, West Brom boss Gary Megson won their award for Division One Manager of the Year. The Ginger Whinger at least has the decency to be a former MCFC player.

Kennedy Out: There’ll be no Saki for Mark Kennedy this summer. The former City winger, who has missed most of this year’s fixtures for Wolves through injury, attempted a comeback in Niall Quinn’s testimonial game on Tuesday night. Sadly for Kennedy and the bars of Tokyo, he suffered a recurrence of his groin injury and has had to withdraw from Ireland’s squad.

Terry Tells It Like It Is: The old pit bull himself, Terry Phelan, has been praising City this week. Phelan, who plies his trade with US A-League side Charleston, is chuffed to bits at the championship victory of the Blues. “It’s fabulous news, as Arsenal went up to Old Trafford and won the championship which was absolutely fabulous,” crowed Terry. “With Manchester City going up to the Premiership, United haven’t won anything. City have won the First Division championship, which is wonderful as I am a Manchester City fan. So it’s absolutely great for Manchester. One half hasn’t won anything and one half has won something for a change.” Well said, Mr. P!

Law Optimistic The scorer of the greatest back heel goal in City’s history thinks that we’ll do OK next season. Denis Law was asked what he thought of City’s prospects. He replied, “City will do all right. They will do better than they have in the past. I don’t think they’ll falter,” Denis says. “When you look at the teams this year around the bottom of the Premiership, City, in my view, are better than the majority of those who’ve been down there. With the fan-base they’ve got behind them I think they’ll have a good season. I believe they can make the top six. I certainly don’t expect them to struggle. They’ve won a lot of games this season and that is a habit. It has boosted their confidence. They are scoring goals. All the top teams wherever have people in the side who can score goals and if you haven’t got that you’ll be languishing near the bottom or the middle. City have shown they can score plenty of goals. I love seeing goalscoring sides like United and City. Kevin Keegan has brought that attacking style back to Maine Road. But he’ll know you have to be a bit more tight in the Premiership. You cannot afford to be flamboyant and attacking all the time. You’ll pay the penalty if you don’t realise that but I don’t feel City will struggle. With a bit of luck they’ll be in that top six.”

Reactions and Comments

KK Says No To Long Loan Deals: KK has rebutted last week’s report that Chris Shuker was on his way to Macclesfield on a year long loan. Keegan in fact claims that none of the players who have just received one year deals will be leaving on loan. The Boss commented “We have had two or three clubs which I respect, including Macclesfield, which have written to us to ask if we have any young players who we would want to put on long term loan. What you have to remember with our young players is that we have only given them another year, so if I was to loan them for a year I am basically freeing them and asking someone else to pay their wages. If I loan a player for a year that is basically him gone. I wouldn’t sign them if I was going to do that, but we might put them on loan for three months or less if I think the club is right for the player and I have told most of them that. In pre-season some of them will feature for us so I have to balance any decision with that.”

Bright Future: Danny Tiatto’s back home in sunny Melbourne at the moment, and has been giving his opinions on the future to the local newspaper. He is obviously pleased that City are back in the Premiership, “It was always my aim to get back up there,” said Danny, “so it’s worked out well for me that we did get promoted. I’ve ended up signing a new contract just before I left so I’ll be at Manchester City for another two years.” Tiatto thinks that Boss Man Kev “will buy another two or three more players. I think you’ve got to have a big squad in the Premier League if you want to survive. He’s already bought Peter Schmeichel for next season, someone with experience who is still a very good goalkeeper. I think he will get outfield players and strengthen the squad as well. We’re looking forward to next season. Hopefully we won’t go up and come down like last time. We’ve got the team that will keep us in the Premier League.”

Gerard Confident: Gerard Wiekens is the latest player to be convinced that the Blues will perform well next season. “I am sure that Kevin Keegan will sign big names in the summer, and I’m really looking forward to playing next to some new signings,” said the 29-year-old Dutchman. “But, the team we have got now is much better than the team we had two years ago and I’m sure that this side, even without the new signings, would do well in the Premier League.”

Lucky Seven For Paulo: Paulo Wanchope thinks that City should be capable of performing creditably next season. “I believe a place in the top seven would be good for the first year back in the top flight. I think we have a quality squad and I know the manager wants to bring in more players, which will be good for the squad. I think it would be great to finish in the top seven and we should have that in mind, perhaps even finishing higher. For the first year teams like Spurs and West Ham for instance should be the benchmark for us. In the long term we have to think of being near to Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool.” Paulo is pleased to be out of the First Divsision. “I was very happy that we won promotion as the First Division is a hard division. Also it is not very nice to play in that division, but it made me realise how good it is to play in the Premiership. Now I am really looking forward to playing in the Premiership and that first game. The team will not struggle like we did last time, it is a different team. We have learned a lot and all of us know that this time we have to do well in the Premiership. Even though I wasn’t playing, I was at the home games against Barnsley and Portsmouth and they were extra special. The supporters showed how much success meant to them and that makes us even more determined not to let them or ourselves down next season. We all just want to work as hard as we can to help the club improve and to get it into a better position. I am really looking forward to the first game of next season already. Kevin Keegan has made a big difference, the staff are great and they all work very hard for all the players. The combination of the manager, Arthur Cox and the fitness coach, Juan Osario is great for the players and for the club.” Wanchope reckons that his injured knee is healing well, and is sure he will be ready for the World Cup.

Lay off our Kev! Stuart Pearce has been quick to defend Kevin Keegan, who is still thought of as a tactically na