Newsletter #868

Rumour upon rumour have been the order of the week as an article on an Internet site made allegations that KK was about to quit due to a rift with the Board. This was quickly picked up by the MEN then other media and led to denial after denial. Fortunately the folks at GMR were resourceful and scooped the interview and denial with the most wanted man in Manchester after the reserves game on Tuesday night. All this has kept Don very busy with his news update, but as we go to the outbox the picture is clear.

The reserves romped to their 7th successive victory, with a 3-0 win over Blackburn at Ewen Fields (Huckerby, Bernarbia, Kerkar on the scoresheet and a welcome return to a fully fit Distin). We have a report on that game thanks to Gavin, opinion and requests.

Anyone at a loose end on Sunday then get down to Ewen Fields, Hyde where our youth team take on Wrexham in the FA Youth Cup at 2pm.

P.S. Thanks to James for the derby video.

Next game: Bolton Wanderers, home, 3pm Saturday 30 November 2002


General News

KK ‘Resignation’ Denied: On Tuesday an unexpected headline appeared on the club’s official website: “RESIGNATION RUMOURS”. This was a bit of a shock to those of us who hadn’t heard any such rumours. Chief Operating Officer Chris Bird was quoted as saying: “I can unequivocally deny that Kevin Keegan has resigned from Manchester City. Once again the rumour mill has been in full swing, but there is absolutely no substance to this speculation. We met with Kevin last week and like the fans and the board of the club our manager is intent on City moving forward. We are all looking at that as our aim.” It seems that the speculation had been fuelled by a few spiky comments by Grand Master Kev after Saturday’s game with Middlesbrough. When asked what transfer funds were to be made available in January, KK replied “Ask the chairman, I am not saying anything about it. Go and ask Mr Bernstein, he is the chairman. He and the board decide what money is available, I am not going to tell you,” he said. “We are short of a lot of players and had some young kids with us but it’s none of your business. You have to be what you are good at and speculate, which you all seem to do so well. I just hope I get half the figures that you have been making up and then I’ll be alright.” Ouch! Later that day, GMR caught up with KK at the reserves’ fixture with Blackburn. The Boss Man said, “I have a five year contract here and I intend to see that out unless the chairman knocks on my door and tells me differently,” he commented.

The Chairman’s Thoughts: Today (Thursday), the Chairman gave his support to the manager, saying “Some of the rumours which have been around over the last day or so about people being unsettled is absolute nonsense,” stressed David Bernstein. “We have a very settled situation at Manchester City and we are all looking forward to moving forward and to continue going down the successful path of the last few years. We have agreed with Kevin the funds which are available and I think all parties are satisfied. We have committed the maximum amount of money that this club can at this stage for the January transfer window without over-reaching ourselves, which of course we won’t do.” While not revealing the exact amount of money available to the manager, Bernstein commented that “The industry has changed and we will have to face realities. I suspect there will be very few clubs who will have as much available as we are making available to our manager. It will be up to Kevin who he brings in. In a way buying overseas is easier because it offers more flexibility. We have made no secret that we are paying off the Nicolas Anelka deal over a number of years. Moving players out is not easy but that is up to Kevin and looking at the squad I don’t think there will be too many players whom he wants to move out.”

Seven in a Row: With nearest rivals Sunderland and Leeds drawing 1-1 on Monday evening, City’s reserves opened up a four point gap at the top of their League on Tuesday with a 3-0 demolition of Blackburn Rovers at Ewen Fields. Asa Hartford’s side clocked up a record breaking seventh successive win with goals from Darren Huckerby, Ali Benarbia and Karim Kerkar. Sylvain Distin played the first 45 minutes with no apparent ill effects, so is considered a likely candidate for a return to first team action on Saturday. The second XI travel hope to continue this run when they face Liverpool away in their next fixture. City: Nash (GK), Flood, Paisley, Loran, Distin (Day 46), Barton (Capt), Huckerby, Benarbia (Whelan 79), Vuoso (Dunfield 79), Kerkar, Shuker.

Youth Team in Action: On Sunday, City’s under-19 team take on Wrexham in the FA Youth Cup Third Round. The game takes place at Ewen Fields. If the young Blues are victorious they will travel to either Peterborough or Nottingham Forest in the Fourth Round.

Call Me Eric: It doesn’t sound like Nicolas Anelka will be suffering any “club vs. country” dilemmas in the near future. Following Anelka’s withdrawal from France’s squad to face Yugoslavia, and the French Football Federation’s abortive attempt to have our star man banned, the barbed comments have continued to fly this week. France coach Jacques Santini made his feelings clear when asked for his thoughts on M. Anelka: “If I had to make a selection tomorrow or in the next few days Anelka would certainly not have much chance of being in it, simply because a few other players showed their qualities on Wednesday. We will all see how Anelka copes with the aftermath of his decision. I am not expecting anything from him. He put himself in the current situation regarding the French team and it is now up to him.” The Elk meanwhile was being interviewed in a French magazine, and compared himself to some bloke called Eric Cantona. “I am quite similar to Cantona and I feel sometimes we have experienced the same things,” quoth Anelka. “I appreciate ‘Canto’ a lot; I have always been 150 per cent behind him whether what he did was right or wrong.” Cantona found himself an outcast following France’s failure to qualify for USA 1994, and despite winning the odd trinket in Trafford, never featured for his country again. Anelka continued, “I was not respected. There has been a split between me and the national side since Real Madrid. For example Roger Lemerre used to say ‘vous’ to me and not ‘tu’ like he would say to the others, as if I was not like everyone else. I was criticised when I did not score, but I coped with everything without answering back. I was not taken to the (1998) World Cup either. Well, no problem I thought. I am confident and I know I will come back. Same for the 2002 World Cup. Never mind, I kept working hard at Liverpool. I know what I proved there. It’s now the same at Manchester City. Everything goes fine there, I score but I am not called up. It means the problem comes from somewhere else. Maybe my face or my personality disturbs some people. I don’t know. I can, however, tell you I am a very honest and simple person. But in this world someone like me is not much liked. But I will remain that way all my life. I am proud to be what I am.” The FFF are still making noises about some form of punishment for the player. “We will take a decision next week and if the sanction is not implemented we will put the case to FIFA,” said a FFF official. “We have nothing against Anelka himself and we don’t want to nail him down. But this is a matter of principle and a way to protect the France squad.” The FFF fears others players may follow Anelka’s example and refuse a national call-up if they feel they are being treated unjustly.

Transfer News and Gossip

Bowyer Interest Denied: KK has put a dampener on speculation concerning Leeds midfielder Lee Bowyer. City have been mentioned as a possible target for the Londoner, but KK played down such talk. “We were linked with Lee Bowyer at the weekend,” he said. “It’s obvious now, or it seems obvious to everyone, that he’ll wait until the end of the season and become a Bosman and that’s his right under the rules.” Bowyer is apparently attracting interest from further afield – Sunday’s papers reckon Barcelona could be in the market for him.

Jeffers on the Move? Sunday’s soccer journals also report that Arsenal would like to offload Francis Jeffers in January for