Newsletter #1049

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Reserve and youth action this week, as the reserves lost to Blackburn down at miniCoMS and the U18s beat Chelsea U18s 1-0; news on this tonight, international call-ups for SweeP and Thatcher, and the latest on transfers thanks to Don’s round-up.

We also have views on the Charlton game, Paulo and Paula.

Next game: Everton, home, 3pm Saturday 11 September 2004


General News

Return to the Toon? Newcastle United sacked their manager Sir Bobby Robson on Monday, and on Tuesday the Daily Mirror was sure who the next boss of the Toon would be. Step forward Kevin Keegan, no less. KK is still fondly remembered on Tyneside for dragging the club from the lower depths of the old Second Division to the heights of the top league, while playing exciting football. The newspaper thought that Keegan could groom Alan Shearer to succeed him in the manager’s seat. Nice theory, but the Mirror didn’t take into account Special K’s habit of not going back to scenes of his former glories. City chairman John Wardle quickly quelled such idle speculation. “There has been no contact between ourselves and Newcastle and I don’t expect any,” he said.

Reserves Lose, Youths Cruise: City’s Reserves finally got to christen the turf of their new home ground this week, as the Mini-COMS hosted Blackburn Rovers’ second XI. The game saw a début for Ronald Waterreus in goal, and a new rôle for Sun Jihai in a holding midfield rôle. City could not secure a win on their first outing at their new home – a pair of second half goals saw Blackburn triumph 2-0. There was better news for Paul Power’s under-18’s this week, who beat Chelsea 1-0.
Reserves team: Waterreus, N D’Laryea, Jordan, Sun Jihai, Onuoha, Bischoff, Croft, Negouai, B Wright-Phillips, Ireland, Collins. Subs: Matthewson, Warrender, J D’Laryea, Laird, Bermingham.

International Blues: Shaun the international goalscoring débutant was included in Sven Goran Eriksson’s England squad to face Austria and Poland, but not without a couple of injury scares along the way. Following the Charlton game, KK was concerned about SWP’s fitness: “He is going to report to the squad but he has a problem with his back,” said Keegan. “There is a very big chance he’ll come back to us and he is probably doubtful at this stage, that’s what he’s just told me anyway.” Sweep seemed to recover enough to train with England in midweek, only to injure an ankle. Today’s prognosis is optimistic – the news wires suggest that Eriksson will have a full squad to choose from for Saturday’s contest in Vienna. It was thought that Ben Thatcher would have to withdraw from the Wales squad, which departed on Thursday for the World Cup qualifier in Azerbaijan, as he had been struck down with a stomach illness. Late today the club website reported that Thatcher had joined up with the squad, having trained with City today and having felt no ill effects. And let’s just be clear – this week’s headlines screaming “Thatcher Arrested” had nothing to do with City’s left back, OK?

Transfer News and Gossip

Adios, Paulo: As reported last week, Paulo Wanchope duly completed his transfer to Spanish club Malaga. KK gave more detail on why he had allowed the Costa Rican international to leave. “Paulo came to see me at the end of last season and said that he wasn’t relishing the thought of a permanent place on the subs’ bench, with the occasional 15 minutes of football,” explained the boss. “I sympathised with his position and when I discussed the matter with the board, they agreed that he could pursue his wish to play in Spain.” Keegan warned that the tardy nature of Wanchope’s transfer meant that City had been left with little or no time to bring in reinforcements. “Unfortunately, his transfer to Malaga has taken a lot longer than we would have wished. I had hoped that I would have had four or five weeks to find a replacement but instead, I have been left with only a few days to find and sign a player who would suit this club. I would say at this stage that it is unlikely any new signings will be made before the transfer window closes next week but I can promise the fans that we will be doing our best to strengthen the squad in what little time is available. The trouble is we have not got three or four million pounds to spend on one player, like some other clubs have. We are in the market for players who are available on Bosman free transfers and obviously that narrows our choice.”

Hit With a Hot Iron: Over the weekend City apparently tried to revive the deal to sign Marseille striker Mido. The Egyptian international has been linked with several clubs including Newcastle United and Southampton this summer but has now signed a new contract with his current employers. “Mido will not be happening now. We could have had him about a month ago, but he has now patched up his differences with Marseille and wants to stay there,” announced Keegan. “It’s a dead deal as far as we’re concerned. I’ve still got irons in the fire and I’m hoping something good will stand up and hit us.” Meanwhile Lyon ruled themselves out of the running to sign Nicolas Anelka after City demanded a £10.1 million transfer fee for the French striker. Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas said: “This is a little bit too expensive compared to the market.” Lyon have now signed free agent Sylvain Wiltord, released this summer by Arsenal. Mr Keegan also confirmed that Monaco had not come up with an offer involving a fee, so Nico was staying a Blue. “Monaco came and tried to convince us. Nicolas’ advisors thought it would be a good idea to move there and play Champions’ League football. They said Monaco have not got any money but we should give him to them to do that. I am still trying to work out why that was good for us,” remarked our manager. Stung by this withering rebuke, Monaco, upped and got Barcelona’s Javier Saviola on a season’s loan.

Little Boxes, Little Boxes… And so, Midnight on Tuesday came and went, the transfer window was firmly bolted until the New Year, and… nothing happened with City transfers, either inward or outward. “It doesn’t disappoint or surprise me at the lack of activity. I knew it was going to be like this,” mused the manager. “The chairman has been asking me if there has been anything happening and I have told him there hasn’t. We have been looking for world-class players on free transfers, who do not want big wages and for whom we didn’t want to pay a loan fee. We haven’t got many ticks in the right boxes, in fact we don’t have any boxes! I’m quite happy with the players that I have here. In some ways it means we’ll just have to work better to get more out of ourselves. The fact that we are a small and compact squad may mean, if we get the luck with injuries, that it will work to our advantage. We’ve not had to make any major introductions to the squad where players have to get used to Manchester and the Premiership. With Danny Mills and Ben Thatcher they knew exactly what they were coming to. We didn’t have to make them understand what football in England is like. So if you look at it like that we have not had anyone new in and we are now getting on with it. There are definite advantages in that. Of course any manager would love to spend £25 million on a player but it isn’t going to happen.”

The Addicks ‘Ave ‘Ad It: It must be contract negotiation time chez Barton, because the story resurfaced of Charlton Athletic trying to sign Joey in a £2 million swoop. Manager Alan Curbishley was said to be desperate for a combative midfielder after losing skipper Matt Holland through injury. Following Saturday’s game with the Addicks, KK confirmed that Barton would be going nowhere. “We said Shaun Wright-Phillips was the first one we wanted to get tied to a long term deal and Joey is the next one.”

A Late Flurry: Perhaps it’s not quite true to say that nothing happened City-wise on transfer deadline day. It emerged today that KK narrowly failed in a deadline-day swoop for Liverpool defender Stephane Henchoz. The Swiss star had looked set to quit Anfield after Keegan’s late bid for the player on Tuesday. City had been led to believe that the former Blackburn defender would be allowed to leave on a free transfer after dropping out of the reckoning under new Kop boss Rafa Benitez. But City pulled the plug on a move for Henchoz when Liverpool slapped a £1 million price tag on the player. Next came news that KK had handed former Liverpool winger Bernard Diomede the chance to resurrect his career at City. Diomede is a free agent after being released by French outfit Ajaccio at the end of last season. The 30-year-old made just one first-team appearance during an injury-hit three years at Anfield after being snapped up in a £3 million deal by former boss Gerard Houllier. But City boss Keegan has invited the former Auxerre man for a trial at the club’s Carrington training ground during the international break.

Ex-Blues’ News

The Other KK: One of Ali’s Army resurfaced this week, in the Scottish Leagues. Algerian midfielder (and friend of Ali Benarbia) Karim Kerkar has moved to Dundee United after only three games with Clyde. He has signed a six month deal with the Tannadice club. Kerkar spent a few months with City back in 2002.

Lest We Forget: Stephen Elliott’s name was all over the Sunday newspapers as he scored his second goal of the season for Sunderland. Coming on as a substitute in the game against Wigan, Elliott smashed an equalising goal for the Black Cats after 82 minutes. His goal ensured Sunderland a point against the league leaders in the Championship.

Reactions and Comments

Four Goodness Sake, That’s Better! City finally claimed their first win of the Premiership season on Saturday, as Charlton were beaten 4-0. The victory came thanks to some excellent goals and to some generous defending by the visitors. KK admitted in his programme notes that their form had been “poor” after two defeats in the previous three games. “We have already got a battle on our hands. This is a big game for us,” he said. So a happier Big Boss Man said after the victory that it was the win was “Thoroughly deserved, a good performance, nice and solid and it got the crowd behind us early on, which is important. We created some good chances, missed some but kept a clean sheet, which is also very important. Defenders and goalkeepers like to keep a clean sheet and we did that very well today. They are no mugs and they are a team that will beat teams in this division. There’s no doubt that we’re a side that once we get our tails up we can play some wonderful football as we showed in the second half at times. At 1-0 because of our experiences in this stadium we have shown we don’t know how to go on to win 2-0, 3-0, but today we have shown we do know how. When we do that, that is when we look a very good side, we’ve certainly got the players to go and win games. We can defend a lead, and in the Premier League one goal is never enough. Today we have beaten a very good Charlton team 4-0, and I’m very pleased with the performance of everybody, everyone contributed today.” Two goal Nicolas Anelka was singled out for his manager’s praise. “Even when Nicolas is 60% of what he can be, he is a threat,” said Keegan. “The days when he is 100% he is almost unplayable and today he was near that. Every time he got the ball he never gave it away. Every time he got on it, you felt something was going to happen. Of course a couple of times he did. He’s got two very good goals and they were not easy chances. His first goal was important because he got our heads in front, which every team needs at home. We have got to give these fans a season to remember. We are capable of doing that.” Trevor Sinclair made his first start of the season, and his performance brought approval from some press reports. Sinclair said later: “I’m just glad to be back in the fold, it’s been an uphill battle this pre-season, picking up my knee injury. But I’ve worked hard and the medical team worked hard with me and it all came to fruition.” Joey Barton seems to be back in favour as well. KK singled out midfielder Joey Barton for special praise for his performance. “He was mature on Saturday, he got on with it and played for the team and the cause,” Keegan told the club’s official website. “When he does that his wholeheartedness means he has the same effect on the team as Shaun Wright-Phillips. Joey has that youth but he also has that courage and that drive that you need in a team. The fans see someone who cares about the club running out there and that is very important to them.”

Southern Soft Touch: Charlton boss Alan Curbishley was trying to come to terms with his side’s second four goal thrashing in the North West this season. “I am as shocked as I was after the Bolton game,” said Curbishley. “We were a soft touch. Goals change games and I would like to see Anelka’s first again. He has been allowed to turn on the edge of the box and line his shot up. The same characteristics as there were in the Bolton game were there again. You can’t keep coming in at 2-0 down at half time and hope to win away. The last two away performances have left me with a lot of thinking to do and how we are going to turn things around. We came here full of confidence after two home wins so I kept the same side,” he said. “But the spark wasn’t there and we never really got going. They scored first and we had a great chance to make it 1-1. But as the game wore on we were second best. We’ve come away and conceded another four goals. We came out in the second half 2-0 down and tried to stop it going to three, but then it went to three and it was game over. We’re really disappointed obviously, I don’t take anything away from Man. City, but this is the sort of place I expect to come and get something. We haven’t done it on this occasion and it’s back to the drawing board.”

Squad News

Another Youngster to Leave? Rather worryingly, another young City hopeful is making noises about his future. Quoted on, Paddy McCarthy thinks that he may have to leave City if he fails to make the breakthrough this season. He said: “I’ve a year left on my contract with Man City and I know that if I don’t establish myself here soon I’ll have to look elsewhere. I played a couple of times for the first team in pre-season but since the season started I’ve just been in the reserves and that’s no good for me at this stage of my career.”

Crying Fowl: Robbie Fowler has admitted his game has gone into decline and he is low on confidence. “I would not say I am finished as a player but I am obviously not the player I was,” he told GMR. “It is up to me to try to get to that place again. I know it is going to be difficult but I will keep trying. That’s all I can do. As a forward you are judged on goals. When you are not scoring your confidence does tend to dip. Personally if I am not scoring, my confidence does go. That’s just part and parcel of being me. Every player is different and I cannot change the way I am. When I score goals my confidence is high, when I am not it is quite low. I missed a very good chance against Birmingham. I mistimed it. If that had gone in we were looking at a different game but my confidence dipped.” Fowler also claimed he has no problems with strike partner Nicola Anelka after reports they do not get on. “We don’t go out and socialise a lot but Nicolas is a great player. I am not a bad player and good players can play with anyone regardless of who is up front. We have made strides forward – we do talk to each other a lot on the pitch – and we can get better. I am sure we can get a few more goals this season. It does look quite promising.”

Macken Backing Himself: Jon Macken, on the other hand, sounds like he’s gagging to be given a chance in the first team. Since signing for City in 2002, Macken has endured long spells of injury, but this season he is fit and ready to challenge for a first team place. “We are all fighting for places but we are all in the same boat, as we have to do our best when the manager gives us the chance,” said Macken. “I’m feeling very good at the moment. I had a good pre-season and that has been really important because I haven’t had one for two years due to injury and I am just raring to play football and repay everyone for the faith they have shown in me. I think it’s right to say that we under-achieved a bit last season. However, when you look back at it, there were some performances that were really top drawer. But there were too many that were a disappointing. We have got to have the belief that we can make a game of it with most sides in the division. Home form was disappointing last year but this time we should look to be winning every time we play there.”

Don Barrie <news(at)>


After the shockers at Birmingham and Liverpool, I was delighted with our performance against Charlton. Sinclair having his best game since the Barcelona opener last year, and Joey Barton providing much-needed zip in midfield. These efforts paled into the background against a sublime performance from Nico, to demonstrate why many, I among them, feel he is up there with Terry Henry. A top cameo from SWP was deftly commentated on by the old boy next to me at the match. He told me all about Stanley Mathews being better at inside left rather than right wing where he made his name. Suggesting that over time SWP would do well to drift inside from time to time. During the remaining 60 minutes we both watched in raptures as SWP left his wing and his marker to come inside. Then, to cap it off he aimed a peach of a shot from 25 yards right at Dean Kiely’s goal as if he wasn’t in the net. Good times indeed.

The standards set by the rest of the team from Jamo and the defence in front of him, to the work rate of the Robster should be the minimum performance levels we need to aim for throughout the course of the season. Charlton had their chances and on another day, things might have gone awry. However, we rode it out, and always looked like we had another gear or two available. One swallow does not make a summer, so, more of the same please Blues.

Whatever you do, stay Blue!

Dave Clinton <daveclinton(at)>


Just a quick note to say that I enjoyed my first visit to the CoMS on Saturday after a long time away and abroad. With the exception of the first 15 minutes I thought that City played an exceptionally good game against pretty poor opponents. Reyna apart, all the team worked hard and played their part is a really convincing ensemble performance. What disappointed me however, was the crowd. Once upon a recent time the Maine Road crowd worked as hard for a City victory as the players did. Clearly no longer. I thoroughly related to the fairly down-beat atmosphere going into this game; the previous two flaccid displays didn’t really engender much confidence. My surprise, however was stimulated by the fairly tepid reactions to the goals. There was a decent roar for each but then the atmosphere dissipated in a matter of a couple of minutes to nothing more than a murmur.

I have heard many people talking about the lack of atmosphere at the new place and how the architecture doesn’t really lend itself to creating that wonderful cauldron vibe that we occasionally generated in Moss Side. I might accept that as the excuse for Saturday’s poor spectator display were it not for the fact that with five-or-more minutes to go with our side 4-0 up, 20-25% of the crowd decided to head for the exit. The well-deserved ovation that should have hugged the players off the field simply failed to materialise. I was shocked.

We’re all very quick to condemn poor team performances but the City “faithful” probably ought to reflect on the part they could play in inspiring the team to better performances.

Andrew Lowrey <Andrew(at)>


I can understand the plight of some City supporters when Wanchope left. But you must look at the facts: his contract would have been up at the end of the season. Wanchope himself had said his desire was to go and play for Malaga, who several times before had tried to get Wanchope. Why would City give Wanchope an extension to his contract? He has proven he is injury prone without question. No-one blames the player for that, it’s just tough luck. Sure, Wanchope had his moments with City, but had it been consistent, that would have been fantastic. For City to take the £500,000 for him I think was a wise decision; a gamble, but wise. For at the end of the season there would be nothing – he would have walked away.

To compare Wanchope with other strikers is unfair, for the gamble was could he have stayed and remained fit? I really thought for everything City did for Wanchope for his injuries after playing for his beloved Costa Rica, he was ready to try to repay City; at least at the end of last season when he helped City escape the drop he did repay, but I thought he would have been ready to continue.

I wish Wanchope all the luck in the World and hope that he does not have any more injuries at Malaga; it was really his choice to leave, he was never shown the door.

Thanks for helping City at the end of last season!

Ernie Barrow <britcityblue(at)>.


After Paula Radcliffe so publicly slagged MCFC off for having the COMS after the Commonwealth Games, and totally missing the point with her big mouth, I’ve never liked her, and I’m afraid I couldn’t join the nation in crying for her. It was poor preparation and lack of acclimatisation that led to her dismal failure. So I had no sympathy whatsoever!

What did surprise me though was that the nation’s crying for this big mouth overshadowed Kelly Holmes’ historic double gold! Totally preposterous in my opinion.

Lance Thomson <lance(at)>


League table to 31 August 2004 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD Pts
 1 Arsenal          4  2  0  0  8  3  2  0  0  8  2  4  0  0  16   5  11  12
 2 Chelsea          4  2  0  0  3  0  2  0  0  3  0  4  0  0   6   0   6  12
 3 Bolton Wndrs     4  2  0  0  5  1  1  0  1  2  3  3  0  1   7   4   3   9
 4 Tottenham H.     4  1  1  0  2  1  1  1  0  2  1  2  2  0   4   2   2   8
 5 Middlesbrough    4  1  1  0  4  3  1  0  1  5  5  2  1  1   9   8   1   7
 6 Aston Villa      4  2  0  0  6  2  0  1  1  1  4  2  1  1   7   6   1   7
 7 Everton          4  1  0  1  3  5  1  1  0  3  1  2  1  1   6   6   0   7
 8 Charlton Ath.    4  2  0  0  5  1  0  0  2  1  8  2  0  2   6   9  -3   6
 9 Manchester Utd   4  1  1  0  2  1  0  1  1  1  2  1  2  1   3   3   0   5
10 Manchester City  4  1  1  0  5  1  0  0  2  1  3  1  1  2   6   4   2   4
11 Portsmouth       3  1  1  0  5  4  0  0  1  1  2  1  1  1   6   6   0   4
12 Liverpool        3  1  0  0  2  1  0  1  1  1  2  1  1  1   3   3   0   4
13 Fulham           4  1  0  1  2  2  0  1  1  4  5  1  1  2   6   7  -1   4
14 Birmingham City  4  1  0  1  1  1  0  1  1  1  2  1  1  2   2   3  -1   4
15 West Brom A.     4  0  2  0  2  2  0  1  1  2  3  0  3  1   4   5  -1   3
16 Southampton      4  1  0  1  4  4  0  0  2  0  4  1  0  3   4   8  -4   3
17 Newcastle Utd    4  0  1  1  2  3  0  1  1  4  6  0  2  2   6   9  -3   2
18 Norwich City     4  0  1  1  2  5  0  1  1  3  4  0  2  2   5   9  -4   2
19 Blackburn R.     4  0  2  0  2  2  0  0  2  2  6  0  2  2   4   8  -4   2
20 Crystal Palace   4  0  0  2  1  5  0  1  1  2  3  0  1  3   3   8  -5   1

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1049



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