Newsletter #937

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Well here is Issue 937 and the season is fast approaching, as is Heidi’s return for the next issue.

In tonight’s issue we have opinions on Mr Berkovic, a match report from the Feyenoord game for those that missed it, some views on player performances during pre-season, the debate regarding Trevor Sinclair continues as well as a good piece on Michael Tarnat. There are one or two other opinions on the new stadium, new kit, Eyal’s replacement and the rumoured selling of 30% of the club to an Irish businessman.

We have a great Blue Humour of some typical Keegan quotes from Season 2002/03 and a couple of pub viewing requests.

Finally how can I forget Don’s news round up of everything that has been happening on Planet MCFC!

Cheers everyone, Colin (a.k.a. Spider)

Next game: Oldham Athletic vs. MCFC, 3pm Saturday 2 August (friendly)

NEWS SUMMARY

General News

China: KK has revealed how City turned down the chance of a lucrative pre-season trip to China, preferring instead the short haul delights of Denmark. “We had the chance to go to China as we have Jihai Sun and we could have made a lot of money, but we turned it down. I don’t like to travel too far. Coming to Denmark is right for us. It is a journey of two hours on the plane, it is easy to travel within the country. We know the area now, we know the hotel and the people here and the games which we play are just right at this stage of the season. I think that is more important than the money. Manchester United and Celtic are in America and that is their choice. I am not saying it is wrong, but coming to Denmark is right for us. I am lucky in that the board are not saying to me that I have to go to China because it is worth money to the club. We are not pulled by sponsors. I have read and think it is true that Manchester United are in America because of Nike. They have put a lot of money in and I guess they can make demands of that club. The top three or four teams are getting offered a lot of money to go to either America, Japan or Malaysia. I think Newcastle, Birmingham and Chelsea are there at the moment. We had the chance to do the same sort of thing but chose to come here to Denmark as we were here last year. It was a good preparation for us and the games are right for us at the stage we are at. We just come and play, it doesn’t cost us anything and I believe it is right for us at the moment.” And the boss is hopeful that in the future the priorities of the Premiership season and the need to prepare correctly will always come first. “If my Chairman says, ‘I know you don’t want to go to China but we need that money’, then we have to go and the players would have to accept that. But we are not at that stage as yet and I hope it will not be like that in the future.”

Fowler – The New Colin Bell: City have announced the first team squad numbers for the new season, and the mystery of Robbie Fowler’s lack of a number in pre-season has been solved. KK must have been waiting for Ali B to leave, as the Toxteth Terror is officially City’s new number 8 (fans of the legendary Colin Bell may shudder now). Among the new signings, David Seaman will of course be no.1, Michael Tarnat will wear number 18, Paul Bosvelt will wear number 26 while Trevor Sinclair will wear 28. As promised, City have ‘retired’ the number 23 shirt as a mark of respect to Marc-Vivian Foe.
City’s full squad list: 1 David Seaman, 2 David Sommeil, 4 Gerard Wiekens, 5 Sylvain Distin, 6 Kevin Horlock, 7 Darren Huckerby, 8 Robbie Fowler, 9 Paulo Wanchope, 10 Shaun Goater, 11 Jon Macken, 12, Nick Weaver, 14 Eyal Berkovic, 16 Paul Ritchie, 17 Jihai Sun, 18 Michael Tarnat, 19 Danny Tiatto, 20 Carlo Nash, 22 Richard Dunne, 24 Joey Barton, 25 Lucien Mettomo, 26 Paul Bosvelt, 27 Mikkel Bischoff, 28 Trevor Sinclair, 29 Shaun Wright-Phillips, 30 Christian Negouai, 32 Kevin Ellegaard, 39 Nicolas Anelka, 40 Chris Shuker, 41 Stephen Jordan, 42 Glenn Whelan, 43 Paddy McCarthy, 45 Stephen Elliott.

I Stand A-Loan: Thanks to Dave Warburton for spotting this paragraph in a Daily Telegraph item. Mihir Bose’s article was looking at the lack of transfer funds available for Arsenal, who are having to invest heavily in their proposed new ground at Ashbuton Grove. The article concludes with an MCFC angle – “Manchester City could raise money by this weekend – another £14 million from a loan arranged last year. Secured against ticket sales and hospitality boxes, the total loan was for £44 million, of which £30 million has already been drawn. City have moved into the council-owned City of Manchester Stadium and this money could enable manager Kevin Keegan to do some buying. How envious Arsenal supporters must feel.”

Memorial Game for MVF: A charity match is to be held on November 11 in memory of Marc Vivien Foe. The venue is still to be decided but the match will be between Cameroon and a select XI from Foe’s former clubs – Lens, Lyon and City. “We have all been affected by Foe’s departure,” said Lens President Frederic Thiriez. “We are organising the match to help the family of the great player Foe was, and also to bring alive his project of creating a sports foundation in Cameroon.”

Pre-Season Reserves: Last Saturday, a youthful City reserves side travelled to Bury’s Gigg Lane. The home team won 2-0, with both goals by Bury’s Simon Whaley. Team: Kevin Ellegaard, Willo Flood, Stephen Jordan (capt.), Jonathon D’Laryea, Chinedum Onouha, Mikkel Bischoff, Lee Croft, Jamie Tandy, Stephen Elliott, Glenn Whelan, Chris Shuker. Subs: Kasper Schmeichel, Nathan D’Laryea, Paul Murphy, Danny Warrender, Karl Bermingham, Stephen Ireland. A more experienced reserves side took on Southport on Wednesday evening, and triumphed 4-1, with goals from Jon Macken (2), Kevin Horlock and Chris Shuker. Team: Carlo Nash (Kasper Schmeichel 71), Willo Flood, Stephen Jordan (capt.), Gerard Wiekens, Richard Dunne (Lee Croft 63), Chinedum Onuoha, Joey Barton (Glenn Whelan 63), Christian Negouai, Jon Macken (Stephen Elliott 46), Kevin Horlock (Jamie Tandy 71), Chris Shuker. The Blues play at Rochdale next Monday evening and City have told Dale that they can keep all the proceeds from the fixture. “Kevin assured me he would bring a strong side to Spotland and that it would include some star names,” Dale director Richard Bott said. “You can be sure he won’t let us down. I want to stress that they are again making a truly magnificent gesture of allowing us to keep the gate receipts.”

Transfer News and Gossip

One In, One Out: Two transfers duly went through on Thursday, as reported in MCIVTA 935. Feyenoord’s Paul Bosvelt has completed his move to Manchester and signed a two-year deal with the Blues. KK sounded quite pleased to have made the capture. “I am so excited and pleased for everyone. He will be a big asset to this club and I am as thrilled about this signing as any I have made. I met a Feyenoord supporter on Wednesday who stopped me and said that in Paul Bosvelt we were buying the heart beat of his side. The biggest asset which he brings to Manchester City is his experience. He is a Dutch international who at thirty-three is excited about playing in the Premiership and in the new stadium. He is the type of player who you want in your squad. At thirty-three he is excited about the move, about playing in the new stadium and in the Premiership. He is not here for a final pay day. Don’t underestimate the power of the City of Manchester stadium in attracting players now to the club.” And the boss revealed how excited he was when notified of Bosvelt’s availability. “We heard a fortnight ago that he would be available. I could not believe my luck. So we got on with securing the deal quietly. And I am now delighted it is all complete.” Ali Benarbia meanwhile left City for Qatar side Al-Rayyan. The Algerian genius is the second foreign player to join the Middle Eastern outfit, after German veteran Mario Basler signed up last May. Benarbia, who has agreed a two-year deal, told the Al-Watan newspaper: “I am fully aware of the challenges lying ahead with a big club like Al-Rayyan.” Gabriel Batistuta, Frank Leboeuf and Steffen Effenberg have also decided to pitch up in Qatar. Benarbia added: “With those players taking part the domestic competition should be quite entertaining.”

Eyal Get Me Coat: [That’s enough Eyal/I’ll puns – News Ed.] Two weeks ago, KK had the choice of two creative midfielders for his team. Now he may have to face the new season without either. Ali B has gone, and now Eyal Berkovic’s dissatisfaction with the club has been made public again. A club statement said on Monday: “Manchester City has confirmed that midfielder, Eyal Berkovic has requested a transfer having spoken to Kevin Keegan on Monday afternoon. It is understood that the player has said that he wants to leave, as he is no longer happy at the club. The club has confirmed that the player has submitted the transfer request in writing.” It seems fairly clear where Berko’s agent would like the midfielder to play. “Eyal is not happy at the club and his relationship with Kevin Keegan is not good,” said agent Pini Zahavi. “Portsmouth are interested in him as he has an excellent relationship with Harry and would be happy to move if the clubs can agree a fee.” Portsmouth officials did not sound too keen on a deal, however, though this could be a negotiating tactic of course. Pompey manager Harry Redknapp stated that “I had him at West Ham and he is a top-class footballer. I like him but whether we can afford him is another matter. There are lots of players I would like to sign but it is a question of cash.” Redknapp’s chairman, Milan Mandaric made similar noises: “We do need another top-quality midfield player but you have to draw the line somewhere. We do not want to cripple ourselves.” Our team supremo was a little put out, to say the least. “Eyal has done what he thinks is right but I think he has made a big, big mistake,” said KK. “Let’s get on with it and get on with what is right for Manchester City Football Club as a whole and not worry about individuals. I wouldn’t say Eyal handing in a transfer request surprised me, it disappointed me. He wants to go and that’s it. I don’t know what he has got in his mind because it is difficult to know.” Keegan also warned that the player’s transfer request doesn’t mean that the club has lowered its valuation of him. He added: “He shall not go on the cheap, I promise him that. If he thinks he can come in, slap in a transfer request and just walk out on Manchester City Football Club then he doesn’t know Manchester City Football Club. It has got to be done right and if there is a club out there, and I guess there is, then they have got to come and put the money down for a player of his quality. If they don’t come and put the money down he has got to knuckle down and fulfil his contract. Those are the rules of the game.” Sounds like Eyal’s as popular with KK as Boo Radley was with his father.

Artist Wanted: Even before news of Eyal’s travails was revealed to the world, Kevin K was considering the purchase of an inventive midfield player. “We are one down in the creative department now that Ali is gone and that is a concern for me. I won’t go into the season with just one creative player. I may only play with one, but I will go and replace Ali if I can. I can only do it if I can find the right quality and that is what I am looking for. Everyone is looking for them. We have to cover ourselves. If something else happens to Eyal we don’t have any cover for that creative rôle, which you need at home more than away.” The world’s media soon provided a couple of names as potential Keegan targets. Planetfootball.com ran a story on Thursday about City missing out on the signing of Cameroon midfielder Serge Branco who has been released by Eintracht Frankfurt. He apparently heard of interest from Stuttgart and has decided to hold talks with them rather than City due to the chance of Champions’ League football. [Thanks Ed Bodey] On Monday, French club Lens revealed that they had turned down an “unacceptable” bid from City for their midfield playmaker Antoine Sibierski. Lens wanted £4.5 million for the player who scored 12 goals in Ligue 1 last season. Sibierski was excused training on Monday as the discussions began with City, but was back with his team-mates on Tuesday. A Lens statement read: “Considering that the financial conditions offered by Manchester City were unacceptable, club President Gervais Martel has decided to end negotiations regarding Antoine Sibierski who will remain at Lens.”

Don’t Push The Goat! You get the sense that Shaun Goater does not feel much love from City’s powers-that-be at the moment. Goater’s agent Mark Georgevic said this week that the Goat will not be pushed out of the club, and if he does leave, it will be on his own terms. “It has been reported that the transfer fee is £500,000,” said Georgevic. “Clearly, I am not party to the discussions between the clubs in relation to the make-up of that fee, but certainly, in the current transfer market, Manchester City appear to have done exceptionally well in relation to what they have secured from Reading. It is a very full fee, bearing in mind the depression of the transfer market generally and also bearing in mind that Shaun is 33 – he will be 34 in February – and that he has only got one year on his contract. Manchester City certainly have succeeded in achieving a very substantial deal for themselves.” He went on: “Looking at the current market I think that is a very high fee for a player of Shaun’s age. Clearly, Manchester City want to raise as much money as they can from the assets that they have. For all Shaun’s service to the club and for what he has achieved, it’s their prerogative to ask for a fee for his registration. That fee has to be borne in mind by any club that is prepared to acquire Shaun’s services.” Speaking to Bermuda’s Royal Gazette, Georgevic later added, “It may be that he stays at Manchester City for the time being – he has got one year on his contract and the deal has to be right for him. I think the pressure is probably coming from Kevin Keegan,” he said. “Certainly, it was from the Manchester City end that the story came out (about Reading). I think that Kevin Keegan has decided that the time is right for Shaun to move. Now, whether Reading is the right move for him we will find out over the next few days when he considers the offer and any other offers that are on the table.” [Thanks Dave Warburton] Today (Thursday) Reading manager Alan Pardew said that he hopes striker Shaun Goater will make a decision on his future before the end of the week.

Ex-Blues’ News

Going Kinky on the South Coast: Portsmouth seem to be after an ex-City midfield, as Pompey have handed a trial to the Georgian great himself, Gio Kinkladze. “We need at least three more players because we are not a Premiership squad yet,” admitted assistant manager Jim Smith, who signed Kinky from Ajax when manager at Pride Park. Kinkladze rejected the offer to remain with the Division One outfit, even though he was voted their Player of the Year, because he wanted another crack at the Premiership. He is obviously relishing the prospect. “Harry Redknapp and Jim Smith are great men for giving me this chance,” stated Gio. Lower down the leagues, diplomat Terry Cooke finds himself in demand. Currently training with Bury, Cookie is wanted by Sheffield Wednesday. Cooke had a couple of spells at Hillsborough on loan while a he was a City player. Wednesday boss Chris Turner confirmed his interest “He’s a right-sided midfielder and he could do a job for us.”

Swans Snap Up Murphy: Division Three news; – Swansea City have ‘keeper Brian Murphy on a two-year contract following a trial with the Swans. Murphy said that working with Peter Schmeichel last season had improved his game. “Everybody knows that Peter Schmeichel was one of the very best keepers and it was great to watch him every day and try to pick things up from him,” Murphy said. “I feel that I learned a lot last season so it was an excellent experience for me. But Kevin Keegan told me back in January that if Peter retired he planned to bring in another experienced ‘keeper. With Carlo Nash and Nicky Weaver also at the club, I turned down a one-year contract because I wasn’t happy sitting doing nothing.” Carlisle United meanwhile are close to signing former City boy Paul Simpson. The 36-year-old is without a club after parting company with Rochdale, where he had been player-manager, at the end of last season and began training with his hometown club on Thursday. “Paul is from Carlisle and is very keen to come and play for us,” admitted Carlisle boss Roddy Collins. “He can play on the left and right of midfield, is very experienced and he would be a good addition to our squad.” City’s recent conquerors, Mansfield have snapped up defender Tony Vaughan on a one-year deal, after the ex-City defender left Nottingham Forest. The 27-year-old has put pen to paper at Field Mill after two weeks of talks with Stags’ player-manager Keith Curle.

Never Go Back? This just in – Gio Kinkladze doesn’t really want to play for Pompey – he wants to return to his first love, namely MCFC! He’s told the Evening News that “I wouldn’t want to do or say anything that would embarrass Manchester City or Mr Keegan. But it’s true – I would love nothing more than to play once again for City although I have to stress that I have had no contact with anyone from my old club this summer. I have wonderful memories of my time at Maine Road. I had a fantastic relationship with the City fans. I loved the club and I loved the area. I still live in Cheshire on the outskirts of Lymm and playing for a great manager like Kevin Keegan in City’s fantastic new stadium would be a dream for me.” But Gio, what about the lifeline thrown to you by those “great men”, ‘Arry Redknapp and Jim Smith? “I am training with Portsmouth only to keep up my fitness level in readiness for the new season,” he explained. “I am friendly with Portsmouth’s assistant manager Jim Smith and when he offered me the use of his club’s facilities I readily agreed because it is obviously important to have a good level of fitness in case a club wants to sign me in time for the new season.” Stranger things have happened, I suppose, and KK does need a new midfielder.

Reactions and Comments

Dutch Treat in Denmark: The Boys in Blue fared much better in friendly action this week. Paulo Wanchope’s first goal for eighteen months gave City their first win of the pre-season in Friday’s clash with Feyenoord in Aarhus, Denmark. City won 2-1. The Dutch side had taken the lead on 25 minutes after a mix-up between Sylvain Distin and Carlo Nash, with Danko Lazovec putting the ball into an unguarded net. City were level inside four minutes, with Anelka striking a crisp, low drive from a tight angle. Wanchope scored with a curling shot from 20 yards with 2 minutes of the game remaining. “I was really pleased and thought it was a good work out. It is always important to get result but it is not the most important thing”, said the Boss man later. “I thought Feyenoord and ourselves are at the same stage and that made for a pretty even match, but I felt we deserved to beat them, I don’t think there is any doubt about that. If you had asked me at times I would have said we were not finding our range of passing very well, we did give it away a lot. But I thought in the second half that we passed it better. As players get tired they start to do things a little slower, you find they keep the ball better. There were a lot of plusses in the match with one or two things to work on. But it has been a really good trip and the team spirit has been great. It was a pretty even match but I think we deserved to win,” Keegan said. “There are still one or two things to work on, but it’s been a real good trip, especially for team spirit. There is a lot of competition for places here and that has to be the case. The teams who struggle are the ones who can’t replace someone who gets injured, but we are getting pretty close to where we want to be. We are not totally there, as one or two players have got their fitness to work on, but we are still three weeks away from the new season. The worst thing in the world would be to go and knock over some teams and think everything was fine. We played a quality side in Feyenoord and they made us work and it was a real good test. Nicolas Anelka played very well in the first half and Robbie Fowler worked very hard, while Trevor Sinclair was outstanding. So you have to say it’s looking very good.” City: Nash; Sun, Sommeil (Dunne 46), Distin (Wiekens 63), Tarnat (Jordan 77); Sinclair, Berkovic (Barton 46), Negouai (Horlock 63), Wright-Phillips (Shuker 83); Anelka (Wanchope 46), Fowler (Macken 46).

Paulo Strikes Again: On Tuesday, the Blues were back in England, playing a long-promised fixture against Lincoln City at Sincil Bank. Paulo Wanchope grabbed his second goal in successive matches to give the Blues a 2-2 draw at Lincoln (are you watching Mr. Fowler?). The game also saw the début of latest signing Paul Bosvelt. City’s opening strike came from the in-form Nicolas Anelka. KK thought that “It was a good workout, and to go 2-0 down as early as we did you had to show character and roll your sleeves up which we did,” said Keegan. “We’ve had to work hard and a few of us have had to dig deep, but I was very pleased overall. We’ve fulfilled a promise to play here and it’s not cost Lincoln anything, we’ve paid our expenses and they’ve had a good crowd which is great. Alan Marriott had a great night to be fair, he was outstanding. He made three or four saves that if he hadn’t have made them you wouldn’t have been surprised. I think Lincoln have enough going for them, and I said to Keith (Alexander) afterwards that if they can play like this they can make the play-offs again or even go one better. If you’re going to have pre-season games then these are the ones that count. If you knock over teams then I don’t think you learn much, but tonight I think we learned quite a lot.” City: Seaman (Nash 73), Sun, Sommeil (Dunne 56), Distin, Tarnat, Wright-Phillips, Bosvelt (Barton 56), Tiatto, Sinclair, Fowler (Macken 46), Anelka (Wanchope 56).

Squad News

Captain Distin: Sylvain Distin has been made first team captain. The Frenchman takes over from the departing Ali Benarbia. It was thought that new signing Paul Bosvelt might have been made captain, but KK commented: “Paul has proven leadership qualities I believe he will be a big influence on and off the pitch. But he will not be captain. That honour goes to Sylvain Distin who takes over from Ali Benarbia. The arrival of Paul Bosvelt now means that I have decision makers in key areas on the pitch.” Keegan also mentioned that Bosvelt’s arrival did not mean that Joey Barton will find himself out of the reckoning. “Because of the type of player that Paul Bosvelt there is every chance that I could play Joey in there with him. He can get around the pitch so well and is not just a holding midfielder.”

Alfie Admits Defeat: Alfie Haaland may well have lost his battle to regain fitness. The 30-year-old has admitted defeat in his battle to overcome a serious knee injury. Haaland has revealed he has come to a cash agreement with City over the remaining two years of his contract. He told Norwegian newspaper Aftenbladet: “I will miss a lot of money but we have made a deal that makes sure I won’t miss everything. This is the best thing for both parties. It wouldn’t be much fun sitting in the fitness room for the next two years.” The club, while not formally announcing Alfie’s retirement, have all but admitted that his playing days are over. “Alfie has been undergoing a rehabilitation programme during the summer but was not able to travel with the rest of the squad on the tour to Denmark. We were all hoping that Alfie would overcome his problems and recover, but that now seems unlikely. Further discussions will take place next week and we are seeking expert medical advice from a top specialist in the USA,” commented a club spokesman.

Bischoff to Break Through: Apologies to correspondent John Bellairs (see MCIVTA 936), for giving him the erroneous impression that Mikkel Bischoff had left the club – Mikkel is (as far as I know!) still a Blue, and in fact his manager has been praising the young Danish defender. “Mikkel is very close to the first team,” said Keegan. “He has had a few injuries but has recovered from them, and I think it is guaranteed that he will play for Denmark in the future. His only minus is a lack of experience and the way to rectify that is by playing in a lot of matches. He will play in a lot of the pre-season friendlies because this will be a big season for him. I have had a chat with him and told him that I will look at him in the midfield holding position and I’ll look at him at right-back. They are the positions where there may be an opportunity for him, as well at centre-back if we play three there.”

Robbie’s Almost Fit – Honest! With two weeks to go till UEFA cup football reaches the City of Manchester Stadium, KK is convinced that Robbie Fowler is well on the way to full fitness. “Robbie needs a goal now. I think he is getting closer to full fitness, there is no doubt about that,” remarked Keegan. “I told him that against Lincoln he would only get half a game as he has played more than the others. We will keep working. The important thing is that all the players are fit and ready to go when the season starts and I think they will be.”

Don Barrie (news@mcivta.city-fan.org)

MATCH REPORT: FEYENOORD

I was going to write a match report about the Feyenoord game, but after a few days of excessive drinking I can’t really remember what happened. Sadly though I wasn’t out celebrating City’s fine 2-1 victory, instead I was attending a wedding in the South. However, seeing as how there was no match report in MCIVTA 936 I thought I might try to pen some info together for those who didn’t see the game.

Nash played the full 90 minutes and was hardly troubled until Feyenoord scored. The goal itself was definitely one to ‘get out of the system’. Distin was trying to shepherd the ball either a) out of play or b) into Carlo’s arms. Carlo at the right edge of the box (his right not mine) lay on the floor to grab the ball, but somehow the ball evaded both Distin and Nash, giving the Feyenoord player the time to push the ball across the goal for the striker to hit it into the far corner for 1-0.

City responded quickly and within 5 minutes we were level. Fowler took a quick throw-in on the right (the fastest he’d ever moved in a City shirt – unless he wears it whilst driving around Manchester in his car!) and Anelka ran at the Feyenoord players; entering the box at speed he flashed a right footed drive across the ‘keeper and into the far corner for 1-1.

The entertainment at half-time was provided by the legend that is Paul Walsh, who complained bitterly the Fowler looked unfit, overweight and generally out of condition. The second half saw quite a few changes with Blobby Fowler and the Elk being replaced by Super Jonny Macken and Onechop. There were plenty of other changes as well, with Super Kevin coming on for a bit of a run around and although the second half City side looked lively it was late on before City scored again. With the clock nearing 90 minutes the ball was dragged back from the right by SWeeP (I think) and Onechop standing on the edge of the box, placed the ball firmly into the left-hand side of the goal for a 2-1 lead.

Positives from the evening came from:
Tarnat – Looked solid without doing anything too flash.
Anelka – Was outstanding and looks very very sharp, he’d look World Class tying up his shoelaces.
Bosvelt – I know he didn’t play, but the commentary duo (one of them might have been Brian Marwood) wittered on for a full 90 minutes about how marvellous Bosvelt was, and how great he was, and how City had got a bargain, and how he’d give 110% etc. If he can live up to the hype then he’ll be great.

The less said about Fowler the better… Macken & Onechop looked eager, Dunnylad put in some good challenges and Distin suited the captain’s rôle.

Barry Riley (MCIVTA 936) was having problems with the new website, which I believe is due to it being unavailable for anyone not using Internet Explorer 6.0. I had the same problem at work, until someone blew my motherboard and presented me with a new machine with version 6.0 on it. Not had a problem since, but that’s not much help!

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

OPINION: NEW KIT

As the person responsible for washing the kit in our household, I have to say, that although the shirts might be more comfortable than last season’s, being lightweight they do snag more easily. My children have virtually lived in theirs and I am disappointed that it (especially the socks) now looks older/scruffier than last season’s away kit (which I loved, along with the laser blue). I am also not so keen on the shorts, which really need ironing if they are to look their best – so for quality of kit, I would have to award the points to LCS (and I too preferred the laser blue). Also – the goalie kit – well I thought the green of the season before last was pretty horrible, but this season’s colour combination?! On the positive side, I have found everyone at the new superstore really helpful (problems with the somewhat strange sizing of the kit) and I like the extended range (though Andy will probably confiscate the cards soon).

Pre-season friendly vs. Lincoln It was wet. We happened upon our favourite badge seller (and much to the annoyance of my Blackburn supporting brother-in-law, I bought my niece a badge). It could almost have been Manchester! The first half was somewhat reminiscent of the curate’s egg (with the good bits mainly reserved for Lincoln City) although it improved towards half time. Anelka’s goal was fantastic, Distin looked really commanding in defence, Tarnat too played well (and is really fast), Fowler still looked un(match)fit (I have yet to be convinced he will ever make the grade) and Seaman, well, you can’t blame him for the penalty and Sun should never have allowed the cross past, but…

Second half was much better – Wanchope and Macken looked hungry (and like players really trying for their place in the side), SWP (as always) ran his socks off; Barton was lively and Nash (well, I’m biased but we have lost neither of the friendlies when he has been in goal). It wasn’t a whitewash – City managing a draw after having gone 2-0 down in the first 20 minutes, the referee was selectively blind, but there were some very encouraging signs from a side that haven’t yet all got used to each other. The aforementioned brother-in-law spent most of the time making snide comments about our belief in the team, expressing that he had never seen blind faith in action before; however, as he briefly supported City before (when Blackburn were relegated at some point in the past) – he obviously hasn’t made the grade as a true blue, so will not understand that we accept our responsibility for our part in our team’s performance – though the Lincoln City fans did have a fairly interesting orchestral accompaniment for us to compete with!

Looking forward to the new stadium and the new season. Come On You Blues!

Sarah Longshaw (sarah@longshaw.demon.co.uk)

OPINION: PLAYER PROGRESS PRE-SEASON 1

I enjoyed Tuesday’s game at Lincoln and we can take quite a few positive things going into the new season.

SWP was a live wire throughout the game. My brother calls him City’s Duracell bunny and he certainly put loads of effort into this game, despite it only being a friendly. If he plays like this for much of the season, he’ll be in line for our player of the year.

Trevor Sinclair probably gets my next best set of votes. He was fast, creative and threatening, with some nice touches and some good link-up play with the rest of the midfield, especially in the first half. In the second half he played more on the right of midfield and was less of a threat. Once he’s got a better understanding with our forwards, we’re in for some exciting footy.

Tarnat looked good – assured, confident and always looking for creative options. He linked up well with Sinclair in the first half down the left, but was always able to get back and defend when needed.

Wanchope – I’m not a massive fan of his, but last night I was surprised at how easily he got into the game, having come on as a second half sub. Lots of gangly legs going all over the place, but he’s still effective.

Distin – his usual solid display in defence, but in the second half he was encouraged to get forward and he went on a few mazy runs down the left flank. If he can do more of this (and be sure that Tarnat has dropped back to cover for him) and learn to make the crucial final pass, we’ll have another star on our hands.

Macken – the lad’s been blighted with injury and has heavy competition for places, but last night he looked good. After this performance, I have high hopes for him as a partner for Anelka. If I compare him with Fowler, he’s hungrier, faster, more creative and more aware of what’s going on around him.

Bring on Barcelona!

CTID, Paul Muschamp (paul.muschamp@bt.com)

OPINION: PLAYER PROGRESS PRE-SEASON 2

I keep reading that fans are unhappy with the purchase of the older guys over the summer.

I think City fans need to look at the situation we are in; we will be one of the biggest spenders this summer but unfortunately the money is being spent on the new stadium rather than the team. However, that was always going to be the case this year.

When I see the players we have sold and how we have replaced most of them I’m quite happy with the situation.

David Seaman – although Carlo is a model pro etc. how many people can honestly say they feel confident with him in goal? I was watching the Feyenoord game on Friday night and yet another mistake (remember Newcastle…) by Carlo leads to us conceding another soft goal. For the short term DS is the best option while Ellegaard is groomed.

Nicolas Jensen – I rate him a Division 1 player, he had a good first season with us but was getting caught out quite often in the Premiership. Seemed to dive in a lot, seems like this ‘wand’ of a left foot wasn’t always functioning quite as well as Harry Potter’s… once the contract situation had arose then I think we did OK drawing the £700,000 for him.

Bosvelt – heard on the commentary on Friday night that the Feyenoord fans are furious that he has been sold. To pick up this kind of player for £300,000 is great business, at last we have the disruptive player I think we have needed for quite a long time.

Ali B – good luck to him, must have been quite a difficult time for him.

Eyal – not happy with him, in quite a few games last year he was awesome and he ran the show. In a lot of games he limped off with his traditional hamstring trouble and we still struggle to get 30 games a season out of him. For him to then decide he needs the extra 2 years on his contract is simply extortion, I’m glad KK stood his ground. You could say he has been driven to the transfer request but this just mirrors his time at the other clubs he has played at, I think he has an issue stopping somewhere for longer than 2 years. The problem this causes us is that we now have little money and time to find a suitable replacement.

Trevor Sinclair – I’m quite happy with this signing, we got him for a decent price, he can cover lots of positions and he will play in nearly all games. I was happy to see him heading into the center on Friday night after Anelka had gone wide left to collect the ball like normal. Made a change to see Anelka crossing it and having someone arriving at the near post.

Some quick stats for you:

Berkovic – played 26, goals 1, assists 10
Sinclair – played 36, goals 2, assists 8

Not much difference and one was playing in a bottom 3 team.

Final word is on Robbie Fowler – the condition he is in is a disgrace. I was stunned when I saw him walk out on to the pitch on Friday, I thought Gerry Creaney was back. I dont know where the press got their 3lb overweight story from, it looks more like 30lbs.

Glyn (glyntowen@ntlworld.com)

OPINION: PLAYER PROGRESS PRE-SEASON 3

God bless us and save us, we’re all going to die, Part 712.

Is it just the proximity of the new season that gets the adrenaline doing minus loops in some people’s bodies? What a lot of negative whimpering.

Anyone who saw the Feyenoord game would have seen that Tarnat is an excellent left back (always was a left back at Bayern, played a bit further forward occasionally for Germany). He still shifts a bit, passes with accuracy and has a crunching tackle. A good addition! Jensen had that wonderful silky touch to his passes and volleyed home versus Leeds but tackle and defend? We’ll soon see the difference.

Sinclair also looked right up for it. He was a constant menace in the tackle and ran and ran down both flanks. He doesn’t have to be played as a winger, he’ll do fine in the midfield as well.

Anelka is already right on song and a midfield with Barton and Bosvelt in the middle will match anyone for bite and energy, passing and running. Remember it was Bosvelt who booted Irwin up in the air not so long ago. The man can tackle like McMahon.

Berkovic (who can tackle like John Redwood) looked disinterested (attitude problem as big as a hill) and Robbie Faller couldn’t even manage a shirt number never mind an accurate pass. Something stuffy about Faller.

Wanchope’s finish was deadly (as was Anelka’s rapier first) and he should start alongside Anelka in my opinion. If he’s not fit yet, Macken looked sharp too.

A midfield of Sinclair, Bosvelt, Barton and Wright Phillips with Tiatto to come in will do the stuff for us. Even Negouai was doing his bit.

Defence picks itself apart from Sun, who is erratic. Big Pony in nets and we’re ready for the off. Dune Buggy, Berko, Tiatto and Macken on the bench.

Bang the drums, shout yourself hoarse and stop whimpering. My adrenaline’s going around in all directions and I’m feeling giddy already! Bring it on.

Simon Curtis (np27ao@mail.telepac.pt)

OPINION: OLDER PLAYERS

How can Pat Moore (MCIVTA 936) slag off veteran players such as Bosvelt, Tarnat or even Seaman?

I am pretty sure he’s never seen the first two players enough to judge about them. Likewise, I cannot judge Trevor Sinclair. Bosvelt and Tarnat are only veterans concerning their age but have enough value for money at a mediocre Premiership club.

Feyenoord’s supporters can’t believe Bosvelt was sold and talks are under way between the club and its supporters’ club. I can’t believe Niclas Jensen’s moved to BVB. Years ago he was not even good enough to play for PSV. But again, I haven’t seen him play that often.

I think many of you City supporters would fit in perfectly at that other Manc club, or London branch, with all your moaning etc 😉

De groet’n, Henk Timmer (htimmer@conceptsfa.nl)

OPINION: MONEY MAN?

As reported in the Irish Independent this week:

Manchester City, the UK football club, offered Ryanair boss Desmond O’Leary a controlling stake, which he turned down, the Irish Independent reported. Though a fan of the club, O’Leary turned down the opportunity to take a 30% stake. It is not made clear who made the offer, the report points out. The UK financial community has been awash with rumours of football club takeover moves since Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich announced he was acquiring Chelsea. Manchester City has in the past been linked with Oasis band members Liam and Noel Gallagher, it also says.

Not sure if any fans across the Irish Sea saw this or if anyone has heard this – or maybe it’s just usual silly season stories. However, no smoke without fire on these things, and the last thing we need is more boardroom changes.

Mind you – it’s always good to hear of fans in high places… maybe a new sponsor?

Ian Barton (ibarton@deloitte.co.uk)

OPINION: EYAL BERKOVIC 1

The Fat Issue at Man City (or what happened yesterday at training).

I believe this to be an accurate account of what happened yesterday.

Keegan sent one of the trainers (not himself of course) to tell Eyal Berkovic not to train yesterday as he was overweight. Now admittedly he was “a bit” overweight but as he put it to KK certainly not in the same league as Fowler, who was still training. Also as he put it surely the best way to lose weight is to train, not sit around watching.

From that it boiled over into Berkovic’s request for a transfer. On Sky yesterday he was quoted over the Benabia retirement that to be 1 down in the “playmaker” department was not a good situation, to be 2 down smacks of crass stupidity. What has happened to this famous “KK man management”? I do not believe that Berkovic wants to leave and I think to lose him at this time when he’s already looking for one replacement beggars belief.

Admittedly we are only going to get 25/30 games from him but we will become a much weaker side so come on Keegan, use some of your famous skills and let’s not have a major crisis on our hands.

Neil Marcus (Neil.Marcus@jo-el.com)

OPINION: EYAL BERKOVIC 2

There is no doubt that the man has great talent on the pitch.

I’ve seen him at his best and at his very worst. But the one thing that is consistent about Eyal is the turmoil he seems to create at every club he plays at. He is good, but is he that good?

I am of the belief that a player must know his limits. If Kevin was 100% sure he would get through most of this season with Eyal staying fit, then it would be perhaps worth the risk, but unfortunately the odds of that happening are about as good as the City winning the double!

I’d like to see him being paid per game… the only downside to letting Eyal go is that almost surely means less T.V. coverage of City for us here in Israel. So let’s hope he stays, has a great season and leads us to the double!

Antony Fink, in Israel (finkcity@bezeqint.net)

OPINION: EYAL BERKOVIC 3

Eyal Berkovic has been a great creative player for City; it’s sad to see him want to leave. Having said that I feel the club is right to accept his transfer request. Ali Benarbia had left last week, which left City with one skilful midfield playmaker, so was Berkovic trying to take advantage of his position with his timing of wanting a longer contract? After all he still has 2 years on his contract left.

Last season between Berkovic and Benarbia we had one very good player;how many games did Berkovic play? And when he did, play for how long? Same for Benarbia how many games and for how long? Injuries etc. (not always their fault I know).

In training this week all the City players were enjoying it and with laughter thrown in, but Berkovic stood aside away from the rest of the team.

We want a City with team spirit and with the will of wanting to play for Manchester City! Yes Berkovic has been a very good player, but if you want to go, bye bye!

“Eyal be seeing you”

Come on you Blues (that want to play for our great club)!

Ernie Barrow (Britcityblue@aol.com)

OPINION: EYAL BERKOVIC 4

Can I just say how disappointed I am that Eyal Berkovic has handed in a transfer request. Disappointed with the player who seemingly is “spitting the dummy” because his demands for an extension to a contract that still has what, 2 years to run?

I like Eyal as a player and considered him to be one of our best performers last season until his injury drastically cut short his season. But he has had 2 seasons with us and seems to be very injury prone because he has had significant lay offs in both seasons. At 31 this apparent susceptibility to injury is not going to get any better and I wonder if this is a significant factor in the club’s decision to so far not extend his contract, other than the fact that 2 years of his contract remain and assuming this to be correct, discussions about extending a contract at that stage are surely premature to say the least?

I was warned by a Celtic fan (his former club) a couple of years ago that he could be a whinging **** if things don’t go his way and this seems to have rung true, which is a shame because I feel he still has a lot to offer the club if he stays fit. Fitness is as important as form in some respects and he still has a lot to prove for me if we are to consider extending his contract.

It is a fact that the club has to cut its wage bill and I can see that the board are looking after the club’s long term interests by not hastily extending players’ contracts willy nilly. There are many players who were given long contracts that are a drain on the club’s resources due to the impotence of the transfer market at the moment and surely they have a duty to protect the financial stability of the club? We only have to look at Sunderland who are in dire straits after relegation and are struggling to offload players such as Kevin Phillips and Tomas Sorensen. Although I doubt we will flirt with relegation, we aren’t rolling in it and until the proverbial Russian billionaire comes to our aid we can’t act as if we are.

So sorry Berks, stop acting like one and repay the loyalty that the fans have shown you. If you are not honourable enough to do that then goodbye, thanks for the memories, but we’re better off without you!

Graham Keller (gkmcfc@ntlworld.com)

OPINION: BERKOVIC REPLACEMENT?

Ali gone, Eyal going. We need a creative midfielder with proven ability, someone the crowd will love, someone who has been seen performing miracles at Maine Road. Someone aged around 30, someone available cheap or ideally free.

Is it only me sees Kinky as the blindingly obvious choice? Got to be worth a go surely?

Come on you Blues, Paul (paulruffley@hotmail.com)

OPINION: TARNAT

I may add a few words about Michael Tarnat – and I’ll be honestly trying not to be too biased because he is a Red (Bayern Munich) while I am TrueBlue (1860 Munich)…

He is one of the players who always are called “midfielders” but this is a rather vague description of his rôle at Bayern Munich. He never played very spectecular, his defensive qualities are remarkable, he tackles good, but he is not a very creative player. So, if a midfielder at all, he is definitely a defensive midfielder (similar to the the part Dieter Eilts played in the German ’96 Euro winner team, if anyone remembers him). In Germany these players are called “the hoover in front of the defence”, I don’t know if there is a similar term in English.

Bayern Munich bought him as a defensive midfielder and he was a key player for quite some time and had some appearances in the German national team. But with the quite impressive number of world-class players Bayern bought recently, he lost his place in the starting squad there. Jens Jeremies was too strong, so (Bayern coach) Ottmar Hitzfeld used him as a left-back, but then Bixente Lizarazu arrived and so he lost his place in the team.

Michael Tarnat is a good player with a lot of international experience, but his main weakness is that he is pretty slow (don’t guess he is improving on that one while getting older…).

There is one thing to mention, anyway: He has, without exaggeration, the most powerful shot I have ever seen from a player who is not Roberto Carlos. I have watched him score from 40 to 50 yards distance a few times. His shots are not very tricky or close to Becks’, they are just a straight line and you need the tv replay to see what happened.

By the way: His nickname in Germany is “Tanne” which means “fir” and is a reminiscence as well to his figure as to a famous German player (Klaus Fichtel) who was called “Tanne” (a “Fichte” and a “Tanne” are two different trees with the same botanic name in English, as far as I can see).

Tarnat may not attract our attention very much this season, but… if we need just one more goal to secure an UEFA Cup ticket and it’s the last match of the season (and added time)… and a free kick from 50 yards: He will do it. He has done it before.

Chris (chk_2@yahoo.com)

OPINION: RESPONSE-TO-RESPONSE TO NEW SIGNING, NEW ERA? (McV 935 & 936)

In response to Dave Hoffman:

I love:
New kit.
New stadium.
Premiership football.
The anticipation of a new season.
Shaun Wright-Philips (especially the way in which his legs don’t seem the (w)right length for his body), and that body swerve thing that he does.
Joey Barton.
Nicolas Anelka.
Sun Jihai’s good days.
Danny Tiatto’s passion for the game.
Having expensive, fat strikers to take the p**s out of ourselves over (Robbie F is the new Bob T).
Keegan’s endless enthusiasm and optimism.
Having obscure former German international full-back signings to talk up for ages, and to wonder about the quality of (Michael T is the the new Michael F).
Highs after lows.
People having different opinions to debate in pubs… and on MCIVTA.
The mirth that can only be caused by someone saying something really, really daft… such as “anyone with a different opinion must be a rag”.
Passionate responses to opinions over all things City.

I hope it’s all good this year – some things look ace, some of them don’t. It was ever thus.

P.S. I particularly enjoyed the sarcasm over the email address – you’re right! I chose Jon_G_Marshall@yahoo.co.uk to emphasise my middle name (which, thanks dear parents, is Germain), rather than because anything more sensible had already gone…

Hup the Blues! CTID, Jon Marshall (jon_g_marshall@yahoo.co.uk)

OPINION: TREVOR SINCLAIR 1

A punter writes in:

It was a pre-season friendly at Leyton Orient’s ground in the summer of 98… As a local photographer eagerly lined up a snapshot of Steve Lomas, I noticed an evil gnome-like figure emerge from the shadows of Brisbane Road’s West Stand.

It turned out to be our all-new claret and blue hero, Trevor Sinclair, and as I watched he took careful aim and let loose with a peach of a shot, straight at the cameraman’s head. The ball clattered into the poor fella’s face, smashing his camera and sending his lenses and flash accessories flying all over the field. How my heart glowed with pride as I saw Trev cracking up as he watched the elderly snapper forlornly collect his senses and bits of equipment.

I must admit, it was a good shot; pity he couldn’t replicate it last season when he played with all the enthusiasm of Colin Farrell when contemplating buying a pair of stay-up underpants.

Bill Borrows (EasyTiger1@aol.com)

OPINION: TREVOR SINCLAIR 2 (& REQUEST)

Just for the record I think that Sinclair is a great fit for the team. He has skill, pace and works his socks off at both ends of the pitch. ‘Nuff said.

I am an exiled true Blue coming home in September for a short visit. I would like to go and see the lads train in Carrington. So can anyone out there in McVittee land tell me…

  1. Where is the training ground?
  2. When and at what time do they train?
  3. How do you get in?

Thanks ‘yalls.

CTID, Bob Simnor (bobs@connected.bc.ca)

OPINION: TREVOR SINCLAIR 3

It seems I stand corrected on my claim that Sinclair turned us down – was this one of the things Swales got right? Or did it just mean more of Rick Holden?

Not sure I agree that 30 years old is young in football terms, particularly for a player who relies to a fair degree on his pace, and think £2.5 million in the current transfer market is rather excessive (Matt Holland for £750,000, anyone?).

I’m still not convinced but he’ll get my full support when he puts a blue shirt on and hopefully he’ll win me over in the same way that Schmeichel did (and like Starrzinho I had my doubts about him this time last year).

Martin Preston a.k.a. Prestinho (Martin.Preston@allenovery.com)

OPINION: TREVOR SINCLAIR 4

The information in the papers and in this website as to why City did not sign Sinclair is wholly incorrect and any criticism of Peter Swales is out of order.

I was present at a meeting with Peter Swales and Peter Reid when Peter Swales stated that Trevor Sinclair was available and that he was a local lad who wanted to come to City.

Peter Reid responded saying that he was not interested and Sam Ellis his assistant formerly of Blackpool did not rate him.

LAWMAN9133@aol.com

OPINION: STADIUM NAME AND SPONSOR

Although it may bring the attention of Dan Ackroyd’s lawyers, how about calling our new place the “House of Blues”?

Also – a little bird tells me of an “announcement” – probably by the end of this week – about a shirt sponsor for next season… any guesses?

What was the sign that was covered up at the South Stand end of the stadium on Sunday? Was it a very prominent logo?

Hugh (ID313@aol.com)

OPINION: CoMS – MORE SEATS?

I have just seen the pictures from Colin Jonas’ website.

The stadium really looks great, but don’t you think the third tier could have easily been stretched past the four corner flags? I can imagne 4,000 extra seats overall, and a much more impressive impact. And I can also see concrete structures that seem made to sustain more seats, giving the impression that the two third tiers are kind of incomplete.

Vanes Marzaroli (vanesmarzaroli@hotmail.com)

INFORMATION: WEBSITE PROBLEMS 1

Just thought Barry Riley (MCIVTA 936) would like to know that I for one have been having loads of trouble accessing the official website the past few weeks, it’s that bad I give up sometimes.

Can anyone shed any light?

Dave McCandless (dave.mccandless@ntlworld.com)

INFORMATION: WEBSITE PROBLEMS 2

In response to Barry Riley’s posting regarding difficulties in accessing mcfc.co.uk, I had a similar problem when using Internet Explorer 5. In fact my machine would try to load the page, and then lock up.

Upgrading to Internet Explorer 6 fixes this problem. (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/downloads/critical/ie6sp1/default.asp)

Hope this helps.

Mark Evans (Mark.Evans@tessella.com)

INFORMATION: WEBSITE PROBLEMS 3

Hi Barry, it’s not only you… I haven’t been able to get into the website for about two weeks now. Am slightly anxious about it, just in case my source for TNS tickets doesn’t come through and I’ve to try to arrange something through open sale while on the road.

Something for the this sterling publication’s editors: would it not be useful to include the ticket hotlines etc. in the MCIVTA FAQ?

CTID! Hsien Min Toh (hsien@keble.net)

INFORMATION: WEBSITE PROBLEMS 4

In response to Barry Riley’s comment in 936: “Has anyone had any difficulty in accessing the official website recently? For the last month or so, I have had problems getting into the City website.”

Yes, I and a number of others have had problems judging by some comments on Blueview. It all dated from a spell a month or so ago when the url http://www.mcfc.co.uk/ redirected a visitor to the on-line shop to buy the new shirt. No probs buying a shirt or getting into the on-line shop but clicking on the link from there to the official site’s home page caused my system to hang and often required me to stop my browser, clear cache and restart. It still does even though the redirect to the shop has been removed. Only occasionally can I get into the site and then usually late in the evening in BC, i.e. very early morning in the UK. I have no problems with any other of the many sites I visit.

All very strange. I’d think it was a problem with my system but for the fact that it’s the only problem I have.

Martin Smith (martin_smith@shaw.ca)

THANKS: AUTOGRAPHED SHIRT

Just a quick e-mail to say a big thankyou to everyone who replied to request for help in identifying City player’s signatures on some shirts I bought.

The response was amazing, with about 60 e-mail’s received all up from most of the continents too! I’m sorry if I did not get back to you personally, or take you up on your offer of help, but the response was so great I just picked the first 5 in.

Thank you to everyone who took the trouble to get in touch.

P.S. Stop whinging everyone! I thought I had got the Reds’ mailing list by mistake! Leave the moaning to the Trafford lot. We are City, Super City. Superb stadium (looks very similar to the Sydney Football Stadium) and a bright future. Beats going to Macclesfield to watch Division 2 footy lest we forget?!

Andrew – Sydney (afrodsham@deloitte.com.au)

BLUE HUMOUR: KEEGANISMS

Collected over the course of the season…

Hall: “Do you think Wright-Phillips [sent off for tripping Everton’s Gary Naysmith] did it deliberately?” Keegan: “No way, there’s no way. I tell you what, that lad is an absolute gem, no-one here has a bad word to say about him. If I could adopt just one lad from here, I tell you, it would be him.”

And slightly later…

Hall: “There’s a rumour around the ground that the red card was actually for foul and abusive language…” Keegan: “No way – I tell you, anyone who knows him, knows that wouldn’t be the case. He doesn’t even swear. He’s got a big heart, Shaun, it’s as big as, err, as big as him, which isn’t very big, but it’s bigger.”

“I felt the linesman was so biased,” said City boss Keegan after Benarbia was sent off against Arsenal. “The players know if they say something they will get sent off and he’d been booked, so I can’t argue with it, although I don’t know what he said.”

Also after the third away defeat in a row at Arse: “We haven’t been experimenting but we have been trying things out, as you do, and some things have worked and others haven’t.”

On Sylvain Distin: “When cars are designed they feed the information into a computer and it throws out this aerodynamic design with the hatchback and all the trimmings. If you put the details for a centre half into a computer, especially a left-sided one, and you said he needs to be 6ft 3in, he needs to be quick, he needs to be strong, and he needs to be able to use the ball, then it would be him.” Hmm, no maybe I’d like a 5 ft 3in compact, doesn’t have to be quick or strong, and using the ball is optional…


Spot the difference: “He trains like he plays.” Keegan on Distin, in September.
“Sun trains the way he plays” Keegan on Sun Jihai, in September.

“Dunnie is certainly a lot fitter now and I feel that he is a lot more hungry” – Keegan on Richard Dunne. Altogether now, who ate all the…

“The Under-17’s are doing very well. You get bunches of players like you do bananas, though that is a bad comparison.” Not inflatable bananas?

“Everyone forgets his achievements up until now… he went to Arsenal for about half a million, left for £23 million and they built a training ground on him.” On Nicolas Anelka, the weekend before the derby. Quite a lot to be putting on one man’s shoulders.

“I think the league table is a pretty good barometer of how you are doing.” In November, when City were 16th in the table.

“There are two ways to have the biggest building in town. You can either build your own or knock someone else’s down” In December, context unknown.

Directly after the Blues beat Bolton, Keegan declared that, “Apart from the top four, the Premiership is dog-eat-dog, and we’ve just eaten one of the dogs.” Later, looking ahead to his side’s next game, he said, “We had to keep Bolton down, as the Premiership is a dog-eat-dog world. We ate one of the dogs but we will have to make sure now that Sunderland don’t eat us”

3-0 win at the Stadium Of Light safely in hand, he tells Sunderland’s Official Website SAFC.co.uk: “Howard Wilkinson will turn it around, I believe that. It won’t be easy because dogs are eating dogs all over the place in the Premiership this season.” And then “No team in this division has found any consistency and dogs are eating dogs all over the place” Shouldn’t we have had the Keegle as England manager in South Korea?

Spot the difference 2:
Kevin Keegan, November 4, MCFC.com: “I have always said that I think we can play with two playmakers but not all the time.”
Kevin Keegan, November 29, Radio Five Live: “We can’t rely on Eyal Berkovic to provide all our invention but I will not be playing with two playmakers again.”
Kevin Keegan, December 16, Daily Mirror: “I’ve done it before and I wouldn’t be scared to play with two playmakers in my side again.”

From Patrick Barclay’s match report in the Sunday Telegraph. “Typically, Keegan is trying to steer their thoughts towards a top-six place. ‘Where are we now?’ he chirped afterwards. ‘Eleventh? Tenth?’ Ninth, he was told. ‘There you are – turn it upside down and we’re sixth!'”

“I asked Nicolas if he wanted to be left out of the Liverpool game but he said no. He just laughed at me and said, “Non, non, non!” I think that means no,” concluded the manager – after subbing Anelka in the Everton game.

“China is a major country” – Kevin Keegan in The Sun.

“Liverpool are a massive club” KK in the Mirror.

“I never talk about Uriah Rennie”, says the boss man. “… Except to say I don’t like him as a referee – never have, never will, end of story. He is a law until himself. Ask his agent if you can have an interview with Mr Rennie.”

After the first Robbie Fowl-up: “I don’t know the conversation between my chairman and Peter Ridsdale that changed the deal. I’m not annoyed about that. My chairman was trying to do his job properly and he got on with it. I’m not upset. I’m just upset it hasn’t happened.” So is he upset or not?

Before the Fulham game, he tells Official Manchester City website that the Fowler deal originally went t**s-up because “Robbie is a deep thinker”.

And then before the second derby match: “Nicolas is a deep thinker about the game and Robbie was the name that excited him.”

And then his Programme notes for the win over Fulham read in part: “Obviously it was very disappointing to miss out on Robbie Fowler. The saga is history now”.

“I am a new manager with new ideas.” After the derby draw, on expectations going forward etc. Shades of David O’Dreary?

Kevin Keegan tells the Official Manchester City Website in February: “Djamel Belmadi’s training has been excellent this week and I have really been impressed with him. I just have to wait for the right time to give him his head.”

“Arsenal are playing on a different planet to us at the moment. But they come down to our planet on Saturday.” But which planet is Kevin Keegan from? Taken from the Manchester Evening News.

“We have had a two week rest and they had a midweek game so I thought we’d have a go and see if we could get them on the back foot. It didn’t quite work.” And Thierry Henry’s not a bad player.

Before Brum: “Robbie is sorting his feet out better and he is at match pace now rather than at reserve team pace which was what he was at when he got here. There is a massive difference.”

“You can’t sit here, not travel with us, not be part of the squad, only if you are playing.” On Howey’s refusal to travel. Huh?

“We have been a bit Jekyll and Hyde this season. I don’t know who is the good guy, Jekyll or Hyde, but for about five weeks we have been the worse guy of the two.” After ending the horrible run with the 2-0 win at White Hart Lane.

“It is entirely his decision and from that point of view it is the best decision for him” Kevin Keegan on Ali B’s retirement.

CTID! Hsien Min Toh (hsien@keble.net)

REQUEST: PUBS IN TEXAS

I’m going to be in Austin, Texas the weekend City are away at Fulham. Anyone know of a bar or a TV channel which might be showing the game? It’s a long shot, but you never know!

Roderic Jones (rodericjones@hotmail.com)

REQUEST: PUBS IN NORTHAMPTON

Living in the red hell of Northampton I’m looking for a good pub to watch matches in this season. Any ideas out there?

A website of City pubs outside Manchester would rock mightily!

Northampton Blue – Brian Fleming (br.fleming@ntlworld.com)

REQUEST: MARC-VIVIEN FOE MEMORIAL APPEAL

As a result of calls on various websites, emails and talking to MCFC and other authorities involved, together with the amazing response from fans worldwide (as diverse as China, Japan, Australasia, USA, throughout Europe) and from rival clubs, it was decided to launch an appeal fund, which would help to fulfil Fo

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