Newsletter #1081

News today from Don on a feisty rather than festive Christmas party for the City players, transfer rumours ahead of the January window and managerial possibilities. We also have a match report from the Senior Cup game this week, opinion and requests.

McV will be back on 30th December and we wish you all a Happy Christmas and a few points in the bag for City.

Next games: Everton, away, 3pm Sunday 26 December 2004;WBA, home, 3pm Tuesday 28 December 2004


General News

What A Swell Party It Wasn’t: It was looking like being a very quiet week for City news – then the players had their Christmas party. On Monday we had allegations in the Sun of Nicolas Anelka being punched by a City fan, irate at Anelka’s supposed desire to play for a bigger club. Later reports suggested that Anelka was unhurt, and that a friend of Nico had been punched in the face when interceding. A City insider was quoted saying: “It was an isolated incident. No other players were directly involved and they went to Nicolas’s aid. Attacking a player who was just minding his own business at a Christmas party should be condemned.” Tuesday brought fresh allegations. Here’s the Daily Mail’s report. “CITY STAR STUBS CIGAR OUT IN TEAM-MATE’S EYE – Manchester City midfielder Joey Barton is facing a massive fine following an incident at the club’s Christmas party on Sunday. Barton was involved in a fracas with youth team player Jamie Tandy which ended with the combative midfielder stubbing a cigar out in the youngster’s eye after Tandy had tried to set his shirt on fire… ‘We are aware of an incident which took place on Sunday involving two of our playing staff,’ confirmed club spokesman Paul Tyrell. ‘An internal investigation has already been carried out by the club and the matter is being dealt with internally.’ Blues’ officials have been keen to stress 22-year-old Barton was not solely responsible for the incident and Tandy, out for the season after a recent knee operation, was equally responsible.”

Kev’s Kool: KK has reiterated his intention of leaving his post once his contract runs out in the summer of 2006. Following last week’s AGM, there had been some speculation that the club hadn’t given up hope of persuading KK to stay on after his 5 year tenure was over. But the Boss said this week: “I am cool about my decision to leave, if other people aren’t, they need to get their heads round it,” he said. “I will not stay beyond the end of my contract and that will not change, even if we won the FA Cup this season and the Champions’ League next. It is better for the issue to be in the open because it gives the club plenty of time to look for a successor. If, in the meantime, I start to lose my grip on the players, I will lose my job, but that would be the case even if I had a 10-year contract. If they come to me with three, six or eight months left on my contract and say ‘this guy is available’ then they just have to sit down with me,” he said. “My only thoughts are for this club and ensuring when I leave it is in a better state than when I arrived. Do the fans really want me choosing the next manager? I am amazed at the suggestion. If the board ask me, of course I will give an opinion. But I am a manager; I don’t see it as part of my job. That is why you have a board of directors.”

Wanted: Ex-Player to Manage Forest: It was only last week that the media were full of stories stating that Stuart Pearce would be next year’s replacement for KK. But following Joe Kinnear’s resignation at Nottingham Forest, the press produced stories linking Mr.P. with a return to the City Ground, where he enjoyed some of his greatest years as a player. KK made it clear this week that City would not stand in Psycho’s way if he is approached by Forest. “If Forest come along and say to us ‘we want Stuart Pearce’, as sad as it would be for us to lose such a key member of our staff he would be fully entitled to take that job under the spirit of the agreement we have with him,” said Keegan. “I would recommend Stuart to anybody and the deal we have with him is that if another club offers him a job in management he’s free to go. If a job is available at Forest, Stuart’s name has to be linked with it,” he said. “If he’s not their best player from the last 30 years, he would certainly be in a poll of the top three. He’s very well respected in Nottingham.” Former City players Nigel Clough and Gary Megson have also been linked with jobs at Forest this week. So if City do lose the “Heir Apparent”, who would step up onto the throne of King Kev in eighteen months time? Why, Martin O’Neill of course! It must be true, as it was reported in both the Sunday Express and Daily Star on Sunday last week. Quite what would attract O’Neill to the COMS was not made clear.

There’s No Place Like Dome: Lat week saw the official opening of a new training feature at the Platt Lane. John Wardle opened the new £500,000 dome, which will be utilised by the Academy. Also present were Academy products such as the Wright-Phillips boys, Willo Flood, Jonathan D’Laryea and Nedum Onuoha. “It is fundamental to the future of our club,” Mr. Wardle told the M.E.N. “The coaches and support staff should be very proud of their achievements. We are naturally delighted that our investment in the Academy is paying such great dividends with our young players making a huge impact on the first team. We plan to continue to invest in youth as much as we can.” Academy Chief Jim Cassell added: “The new dome is a fantastic addition to our complex. Platt Lane plays an important rôle in our community, providing superb leisure facilities to local people.”

Hove at Home: City’s opponents have been confirmed in the next round of the FA Youth Cup. Brighton and Hove Albion will visit the Mini-COMS on 19th January, kick-off 7.00pm. Brighton earned their trip North after walloping Woking 6-0, and their coach, Dean Wilkins said: “We’ve had them watched and know what to expect, and it’s a really attractive game. It will be a good experience,” he said.

Transfer News and Gossip

Elk to Barça – Again: I don’t know how many times this year I’ve written this next sentence, but here it is again. Barcelona are said to be closing in on a deal that would see Nicolas Anelka move to the Nou Camp. Barcelona are desperate to sign a new striker during the January transfer window after Henrik Larsson was ruled out for the season with knee injury. Anelka is an attractive propostion: he isn’t cup-tied for European competition, but it is thought that president Joan Laporta is only interested in a loan deal – something that won’t help City. If a deal for the 25-year-old falls through, the Catalans could move for former Valencia ace John Carew, but either way they are intent on bringing in a new striker. “We expressly need a striker to help the team and, at this moment, that is our priority,” sporting director Txiki Beguiristain told Sky Sports. Next day, and the regular official denial from City was issued. A City spokesman told BBC Sport: “There has been no contact between the two clubs, or anybody purporting to represent the two clubs.”

Lars Post for Sommeil? Sky Sports’ website reports that KK has failed in his bid to land Lars Ricken from Borussia Dortmund. The 28-year-old midfielder has fallen out of favour at the Westfalenstadion this term and has already been informed he is surplus to requirements. Once ranked as Germany’s most prodigious young talent, Ricken has failed to live up to expectations since netting a spectacular goal in the 1997 UEFA Champions’ League final against Juventus. Dortmund coach Bart Van Marweijk has already informed the player he has no future at the Bundesliga outfit but Ricken remains determined to see out the remainder of his contract. Our manager had reportedly spoken to Ricken’s agent, Norbert Pflippen, but the former Germany international insists he wants to remain at Dortmund. “Borussia is my life and you don’t give away your life easily. I am ready to fight,” Ricken told Bild. The same website reckons that David Sommeil could be set for a New Year return to France. The 30-year-old has been unable to work his way into the starting line-up at The City of Manchester Stadium since returning from injury in September. After a loan move to Marseille last January, another switch to his homeland appears to be in the pipeline. St Etienne are watching the centre back’s situation very closely. Coach Elie Baup knows Sommeil well from his time at Bordeaux and is plotting an approach to Kevin Keegan. French sources claim Sommeil would welcome a move to Ligue 1.

Ex-Blues’ News

By Royle Appointment: Ipswich Town have extended manager Joe Royle’s stay at Portman Road until 2007. The former Oldham, Everton and City boss took over from George Burley a little over two years ago and guided Ipswich into the play-offs last season – and Town went to the top of the Championship on Tuesday night following their 2-1 victory over previous league leaders Wigan Athletic.

Oh the Cheek of It: Danny Tiatto has sustained a nasty sounding injury. He will be out for up to six weeks with a fractured cheekbone. The Australian midfielder suffered the injury during last Friday’s 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest and will undergo an operation in the next few days, keeping the former City Boy out until February at he earliest.

Reactions and Comments

Will the Real City Please Stand Up? City returned to the top half of the Premiership table last Saturday night after securing a 1-0 victory at Bolton. Joey Barton ended his 16-month Premiership goal drought with the game’s only goal, although the midfielder was keen to highlight the team’s efforts in securing the triumph. “It was nice to get a goal but it was a great team performance and a fully deserved win,” said the former England U21 star. “We defended like Trojans all over the park. It was a big win for us after losing two games back to back. The win was earned by hard work and that is what we expected when we came here. Bolton are not going to hand three points over to anyone. We have now won three of our last five games and we now have to build on that over the Christmas period. If we had lost at the Reebok, we would have gone into Christmas looking over our shoulders at the bottom teams,” he added. “We have to build on this now and put a few little runs together. That is what gets you up the table, and the way the teams are squashed together in the middle, you can jump up very quickly. Our job is to make sure that the right Manchester City side turns up every week for the game. We have tended to struggle against the sides around us and below us, but we hope we are starting to put that right now. We have beaten Portsmouth, Villa and Bolton so we hope that is a sign of things to come.”

Stop the Season Now! KK declared that he was happy with City’s league position. “We’re in the top half of the table. Let’s stop the season now!” he quipped. “It is a good position considering the players we have not got,” he said. “We have 11 or 12 playing week-in, week-out and they are doing really well. I thought they were all committed and showed the resilience you need at Bolton. A lot of teams will come here and get beaten. They ask an awful lot of questions of you. By playing three up front they demand that your back four defend and you have to battle. We have a bit of luck; the goalkeeper made one very good save while Gary Speed hit one three or four inches wide. We created one or two chances ourselves. It was not a classic game but a good win. Any away win gives you satisfaction,” he continued. “What I was pleased with was we did all the things we have to do to win away. You need everyone to stand up and be counted and we did that. From one to 11, every player had to contribute. After being beaten at home last week we wanted to bounce back. We needed to assert ourselves on them. I was delighted with everybody. There wasn’t a lot of football played here today, but it’s a terrific result for us. With the injuries we’ve had, I’m very, very pleased. We just have to keep going and get the best out of each other. It’s one game at a time. We’ve got to go to Everton next week. If you go there with fear they are going to have you. It was nice move for the goal,” Keegan said. “It would have been interesting if Joey had not have been there because Jussi Jaaskelainen would have had to go. But I will take the goal. It was also a very nice move when Robbie Fowler had a snap shot in the first half.”

Trotting Down the League: KK’s opposite number was somewhat deflated by his team’s performance. “I feel bitterly disappointed that we’ve lost,” said Sam Allardyce. “The rub of the green isn’t going our way at the moment and we’re falling to a run of depression with four defeats on the trot, which isn’t like us. I think we were extremely unlucky,” he added. “While we didn’t deserve to win the game, we didn’t deserve to lose. The first slight mistake we made, it cost us a goal. Apart from the Fowler shot that was their only chance. For us it’s a bitterly disappointing result. The confidence is beginning to wane a bit. That will happen once you start to lose matches that you shouldn’t lose. We’ve now found it difficult to score at home. It doesn’t matter what we do, it doesn’t seem to go in our favour. We just need to work hard, stay committed and keep believing. I’d have been very happy if we would have come away with a goalless draw today. The back four, who played together for the first time, played very well.” Allardyce replaced captain Jay-Jay Okocha in the second half and felt the Nigerian was not playing well enough to stay on the pitch. “It wasn’t Jay-Jay. He wasn’t creating for us. I think when we changed the system we became better,” he added. “I don’t think he’s firing on all cylinders. His performance wasn’t up to scratch.”

Gas or Air:This was Paul Bosvelt’s first game against the Trotters, having missed bothmatches last season. And the Dutch star found it an interestingexperience, to say the least. “I was wondering for a while that they hadput gas in the ball and not air,” he joked. “Bolton play a certain way, away that I am not used to, having come from Holland, but they do what theydo well and it is up to the opposition to handle it. We did that. I amsure it was an ugly, horrible game to watch but we got the three points andwe showed a tremendous amount of spirit. If you don’t do that then you willbe crushed with your back to the wall by teams like Bolton. I don’t thinkwe started that well but we did manage to create some chances. Possibly,if I was being critical, we could have played more football with morecontrol when we had the ball because if you allow Bolton to play at theirtempo then they make it very hard for you. We scored at exactly the righttime because it forced them to change a little bit and gamble even moregoing forward and that left gaps for us to exploit.”

Squad News

More Ron: Henk told us last week that it was likely to happen, and lo, it did. Goalkeeper Ronald Waterreus has signed a six month extension to his current deal with the Blues. The Dutch stopper, who has been understudy to David James, will be with the Blues for the rest of the season. The thirty-four-year old, who has made two appearances for the Blues in their Carling Cup games against Barnsley and Arsenal, agreed the deal this week. “He wants to stay for six months and that is perfect for us. In that time, we will have Geert De Vlieger back fit from his Achilles problem and we will certainly have Nicky Weaver back. He played his first game the other day and he will hopefully have a lot of games under his belt by then. At the moment, we need the assurance of having somebody of Ronald’s quality.”

Macca Gets the Needle: Steve McManaman will not be gracing the City team with his presence until the New Year, judging by KK’s latest medical bulletin on the player. Macca has had an injection in his attempts to shake off the Achilles injury that has restricted him to just four starts for the Blues this term. “Steve has had an injection in his Achilles, but the good news with him is that when he is pain free he doesn’t take long to get fit,” the manager told the club website. “He has been doing a lot of the work still though not a lot of weight bearing exercises. We will see how the injection works. We are trying to do everything we can to get him back playing again. This is another thing we are trying and I know it has been very painful for him. This is a typical Achilles injury that comes and goes. Our big task with him is not just to get him pain free but to get him so that he can train and afterwards he will remain pain free. The aim is for him to be able to train so that he can play Premiership football and we have not achieved that yet. It has been a nightmare for him as he so wants to play. He has come back and actually be on the bench for us when he shouldn’t have done,” concluded Keegan. “There is nothing wrong with his attitude as anyone who has had an Achilles injury will testify you just can’t get away with it like you can with some other injuries.”

Don Barrie <news(at)>


Bolton Won 4-3 on Penalties

City’s last reserve game of 2004 ended in disappointment as they were defeated by Bolton on penalties after failing to win the game in ninety minutes. Bolton took an early lead against the run of play from Dale Whitehead. City had to wait for the second half to gain their equalizer thanks to the referee spotting a push in the box from a Willo Flood free kick. Bradley Wright-Phillips stepped up to convert the penalty. However, City failed to take advantage of the numerous chances they created and ultimately paid the high price for this by failing to convert their final two penalties of the five allowed.

City started the game as they meant business. The inclusion of Micah Richards in midfield due to the injuries of reserve regulars, Stephen Ireland and Jonathan D’Laryea, gave the midfield some much needed bite, which was sadly lacking after Jonathan had to go off at Blackburn last week with a bad hamstring injury. Also Christian Negouai dropped back into midfield, but in all honesty, as this season has proved, he is far more suited to playing up front, as a foil for Bradley. Karl Bermingham came in to be Negouai’s replacement up front.

Bradley was the first to get a chance when Willo Flood made a surging run from the halfway line to the edge of the area, where he slipped a neat pass to Bradley, but he failed to find the target. The next chance fell to Marc Laird when a loose ball was only half cleared to him after Bradley and Bermingham had both probed the Bolton defence. But even though Marc’s shot was on target, it was too tame to trouble Andy Oakes in goal.

A minute later City won their first corner. Richards flicked on Willo Flood’s penetrative cross and Paddy McCarthy shot on goal, but Bolton’s Rhys Powell was able to clear off the line.

Then the unthinkable happened. Reda Kribib, who was ten yards inside City’s half on the left, sent in a deep, speculative cross, which Paul Collins failed to reach and Whitehead was able to nip in around the defence and finish a low drive into the far corner of the net past Nicky Weaver in his second comeback game.

This obviously stunned City and their play became slightly disjointed but so solid was City’s defence with the return of Nedum Onuoha to partner Paddy McCarthy that Bolton never threatened.

So it was not until the fortieth minute that City carved out another opening for themselves when the referee allowed the play to continue when Bradley and Danny Livesey tussled, Danny fell to the floor and Laird sent a pass into the area for Bradley to run onto but Oakes spread himself well to deny the chance. With a minute to go before the break, City again could have taken the lead. A deep corner was collect by Nedum who held possession before releasing Laird, who ran into the box and dinked his cross up, but Richards could not quite get above the ball and it just went over the bar.

The second half was even more one-sided than the first and Nicky Weaver was left redundant for most of the half. City were opening up Bolton at will, but much like City’s first team game at home last season against Spurs, they failed to get on the scoresheet with their opening chances.

City’s first real opening of the second half fell to Willo Flood when Paul Collins found him free on the right with a good, well-weighted pass. Willo jinked his way past defenders as he usually does and let off a cracking shot towards the near post top corner, but again Oakes saved well.

City then got their chance to draw level when a Willo free kick from the right was sent to the far post, where three City players were arriving, none of whom made contact with the ball, but the referee blew his whistle for a penalty for a push on one of the players; more likely to be Bradley than anyone else. After missing his last penalty for the reserves, Bradley stepped up to convert his fifteenth goal of the season in all competitions.

City carried on pressing for the winner with chance after chance not being taken by the dominant home side. Indeed, when substitute Karl Luisi broke free on the right into City’s area, Bolton could have nicked a winner in normal time had Weaver not stood firm at his near post.

City’s final chance of the game came from a twenty-five yard free kick that Willo did well to curl towards the bottom corner with pace, but again Oakes got down to save well.

So penalties ensued, Willo was the first to take responsibility, and he duly smashed his effort into the top corner, then Bolton’s heart problem player, Kali Fadiga, stepped up to convert theirs. Then Paul Collins took our second, he struck it well and Oakes originally saved it but it rebounded off his arm and rolled slowly over the line. Ivan Campo then converted Bolton’s second. Nedum stepped up to take City’s third with his mother Antonia turning away at the anguish of her son perhaps missing the chance. She need not have worried, as Nedum duly smashed the ball past Oakes. Bolton’s captain, Charlie Platt then converted Bolton’s third. Then our Captain Paddy McCarthy took his mantle, but was denied by a fine save low down by Oakes. Karl Luisi took Bolton’s fourth, with Weaver getting a hand to this effort but failed to push it onto the right side of the post. Bradley then walked forward to take our sudden death penalty. Again Oakes rose to the challenge and denied City a worthy victory.

This result now means we have to beat Manchester United in early February to guarantee our progression to the final after our two earlier wins against Oldham and Bury in the group stage round robin matches.

Weaver: Little to do, but did it competently. 7
Matthews: Every time he is played sporadically he puts in a good performance. 8
Collins: Played well, but has to be marked down for the goal. 7
Negouai: Midfield no longer suits our Mr Zeus. 6
McCarthy (Capt.): Will be disappointed with the penalty miss, but played well. 8
Onuoha: Stood like a rock at the back and made Campo look a fool. MoM. 9
Flood: Ran his little Irish legs off, creating and probing and forcing the pace. 8
Richards: Worked hard to maintain possession and was a constant threat at set pieces. 8
Bermingham: Seems to be more effective when he comes on as a sub, but a fair try. 7
Wright-Phillips: Seems to have lost his spark at this level the past month. 6
Subs Not Used: Schmeichel, Warrender, N D’Laryea, Bennett, Miller.

Bolton: Oakes, Powell, Hill (Fojut 78), Livesey, Platt (Capt.), Campo, Whitehead, Fadiga, Buval, Vaz Te (Luisi 57), Kribib (Gibb 62).
Not Used: Howarth, Knowles.

Att: 297.

Merry Christmas to all you City Fans around the World – hope to see you in a prosperous 2005

Gavin Cooper <blueboy(at)>


Big Joe is on his way back to the Premier League with the Ipswich Tractor Boys; he is doing a very good job on a shoestring budget. I was saddened when Joe Royle left for although he took us back down in that last season I still gave him my support. But when it was announced that it was Kevin Keegan that was to be City’s new manager my attitude completely changed. But I will welcome Joe Royle and Willie Donachie and their new team back to the Premier League if it happens.

But I feel that KK has advanced the City team so much that it would be a difficult game, but who knows on the day, we know that Big Joe will relish the day he has his team to play City. The strange thing about it is that some of the players that will represent City will have come through the Academy and the success has been mainly because of the man in charge Jim Cassell, who Joe Royle brought to City from Oldham.

Joe Royle still has his mark with us at City. But I would take Kevin Keegan’s team to win on the day. Still, I think a lot of City fans would join in with me by saying “Good Luck Joe!”

Ernie Barrow <britcityblue(at)>


In November the family and I went back to my roots – Manchester. Been a City fan since 1965 and then coming to New Zealand in 1982, it was nice to obtain tickets for the Blackburn game (thanking Paul + Karl for getting the tickets) – pity about the result.

First of course, what a great ground we have now. Still, those were days (as they say) when I use to be a season ticket holder in H block of the main stand and the good old pint and pie!

Only in Manchester 2 weeks but we enjoyed the game and the following weekend on Sunday (after watching the good win over Portsmouth on Saturday on Sky) we went to the City ground for the ‘tour’.

This was good (7.50 pounds) and even got to sit in the same seat the Queen sat in during the Commonwealth Games. If anyone gets to Manchester and misses a game, the City tour is the next best thing.

The ground has so much going for it, let’s hope the team can follow in the coming years!

My family said that City did not lose while I was away from my new home in New Zealand; soon as I get back – we lose 2 games, but that’s City and I guess always will be.

John Lim – True Blue from Hamilton, NZ <limj(at)>


Hi Blues everywhere! Due to no buses running on New Year’s Day, we are two Blues desperate for a lift to the game. If there is anybody out there who travels near Rochdale Road/Victoria Avenue East in Blackley and have room for two we would be extremely grateful. We are, of course, willing to contribute to petrol or a beer or two!

Have a Great Blue Christmas! Please call 0161-247-1845 or 0161-247-1818 up to lunchtime Christmas Eve or after that on 0161-702-1017.

Helen Murtagh and Tony Hulme <H.Murtagh(at)>


                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD Pts
 1 Chelsea         18  7  2  0 19  3  6  2  1 18  5 13  4  1  37   8  29  43
 2 Arsenal         18  5  4  0 25 11  6  1  2 20 11 11  5  2  45  22  23  38
 3 Everton         18  6  1  2 11  9  5  3  1 10  5 11  4  3  21  14   7  37
 4 Manchester Utd  18  6  3  0 17  5  3  4  2 11  8  9  7  2  28  13  15  34
 5 Middlesbrough   18  5  3  1 16  9  4  2  3 16 13  9  5  4  32  22  10  32
 6 Liverpool       18  7  1  1 19  7  1  3  5  9 13  8  4  6  28  20   8  28
 7 Tottenham H.    18  3  2  4 16 13  4  2  3  5  5  7  4  7  21  18   3  25
 8 Aston Villa     18  5  3  1 15  6  1  4  4  7 16  6  7  5  22  22   0  25
 9 Charlton Ath.   17  4  2  2 12  8  3  1  5  7 19  7  3  7  19  27  -8  24
10 Manchester City 18  3  3  3 10  6  3  2  4 12 12  6  5  7  22  18   4  23
11 Bolton Wndrs    18  4  2  3 12  9  2  3  4 14 17  6  5  7  26  26   0  23
12 Portsmouth      18  5  1  3 15 12  1  4  4  8 13  6  5  7  23  25  -2  23
13 Newcastle Utd   18  3  3  3 16 16  2  3  4 13 19  5  6  7  29  35  -6  21
14 Birmingham City 18  2  4  3  9  7  2  4  3  9 12  4  8  6  18  19  -1  20
15 Fulham          17  3  1  5  9 16  2  2  4 10 12  5  3  9  19  28  -9  18
16 Blackburn R.    18  1  6  2 10 14  1  3  5  6 16  2  9  7  16  30 -14  15
17 Norwich City    18  2  4  3 12 15  0  5  4  5 17  2  9  7  17  32 -15  15
18 Crystal Palace  18  2  2  5  8 11  1  3  5 11 18  3  5 10  19  29 -10  14
19 Southampton     18  2  5  2 13 13  0  2  7  5 18  2  7  9  18  31 -13  13
20 West Brom A.    18  1  4  4  7 14  0  3  6  8 22  1  7 10  15  36 -21  10

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1081