Newsletter #1235

Main news this week confirms our signing of Ousmane Dabo from Lazio, something the Italian based Blues will be pleased about I’m sure, and one in the eye for Sam Allardyce, which will please most Manchester based Blues!

The fixtures were released today, and given that we’re unsure whether we can publish them without the Premier League getting all possessive again, you can see them here: First up for City is a visit to Chelsea, whilst our last home game of the season is the derby.

Tonight we have some excellent opinion from Colin, who’s obviously been very busy on referees, and the way forward for City. We also have views on the shirt debate, a Postiga rumour, request and a Why Blue.

Next game: Wrexham, away (Friendly), 7.45pm 19 July 2006


General News

Fixture Fun in London: The World Cup isn’t even over, and already the Premiership fixtures for 2006-2007 have been unveiled. And the computer has thrown up a West London / Manchester mini-tournament on the first weekend, starting Saturday 19 August. Which means Trafford face Fulham at home, while City have the relatively easy job of visiting Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea, Shevchenko, Ballack et al. Moving swiftly on – the first home fixture occurs on Wednesday, 23 August, when Portsmouth visit the COMS. Other highlights from the list: the derby at OT occurs on December 9, Boxing Day sees a trip to Sheffield United, the second Manc derby is very late next term – Sir Redface and the boys come to visit us on May 5, while City celebrate your News Editor’s birthday with a trip to London village on May 13, when Tottenham are the opposition.

Happy Anniversary: You can tell when there’s a bit of a dearth of City news when the press start mentioning anniversaries and sundry other milestones. The club website slipped in a mention of Darius Vasell’s 26th birthday – happy birthday from us by the way Darius. And the scribe at the M.E.N. squeezed an extra 26 words into a short article about Stephen Jordan by suddenly adding: “Meanwhile, it is five years to the day since Stuart Pearce joined the club from West Ham. He was signed on a free by Kevin Keegan.” And you can tell when there’s a dearth of City news when this News Summary starts mentioning them an’ all!

Transfer News and Gossip

Yabba Dabo Did! Ousmane’s in Love: In a surprise move that allows this correspondent to unleash another poor Fred Flintstone pun, City have completed the signing of Ousmane Dabo from Lazio on a three-year contract. This was a touch unexpected because player’s agent Willie McKay had suggested Dabo would look elsewhere having received plenty of other offers, both from the Premiership and overseas. “I’m very happy because I had many offers from other clubs, but I chose Manchester City because it’s a very big club with a big history,” Dabo told the club’s official website. “I played against City in a friendly here two years ago for Lazio, and when I saw how the fans were here, I was in love! I really enjoyed being here then, and I was excited when the club contacted me. I thought the stadium was beautiful as well.” SP said: “He is a vastly experienced holding midfield player and I feel he will be a major asset to the squad. He received offers from other big clubs, as well as ourselves, but the great thing about him is that I didn’t have to sell this football club to him. He has played in Serie A for a number of seasons and when you look at our away form last season you see that it was a position we struggled to fill. Dabo joining us gives us more midfield options.”

Sno Joke: Perhaps Big Sam Allardyce and Psycho discussed this between TV punditry sessions at the World Cup – earlier in the week, City and Bolton Wanderers were being linked with Feyenoord defender Evander Sno. The two clubs were believed to have expressed an interest in the youngster, who had a trial spell at Everton last summer. Sno spent last season on loan at NAC Breda, but despite impressing has been told that he can leave Feyenoord. Anyway the talk came to nought as the 19-year-old signed up for Celtic on Tuesday on a three year deal. Or were Allardyce and Pearce discussing Didi Hamann? City have reportedly made a late move for the Liverpool midfielder in the hope of hijacking his proposed move to Bolton Wanderers. The former German international has been told he can leave Anfield on a free transfer although Liverpool are looking at receiving up to £500,000 in future payments from potential buyers based on appearances and any success that he contributes to.

Any More for the City Adventure? At the time of writing, the situation with Quinton Fortune hasn’t really moved on – there’s been a few reports saying that the South African ex-Red will sign in the next few days, after SP offered a two-year deal. Elsewhere, Marseille have confirmed that City have made a loan enquiry to Marseille for exciting prospect Samir Nasri. Marseille chairman Pape Diouf has confirmed the approach from the Blues but has suggested that Nasri will get his opportunities to shine at Stade Velodrome next season. “Yes, there has been an approach from Manchester City,” said Diouf. “But we want to keep a quality young player that has been educated here, and who still has to express all his potential.”

Reading: The agent for ‘keeper David James has dismissed reports linking the England star with a move to Reading. The Royals were reported to have lined up a swoop for James earlier in the week. James’ representative Colin Gordon told Sky: “That is total nonsense. David is under contract at Manchester City and he is very happy at the club.”

City Delve in Colon: City are considering a loan deal for Peruvian defender Juan Vargas. The full back currently stars for Argentinian based Colon. Talk in the Peruvian press is currently of an initial loan deal with an option to make his stay permanent. Vargas is playing down talk of a potential move to The Premiership, insisting he is unaware of City’s interest, but the defender has admitted he could well leave Argentina. “Yes sure, because one works to leave at any time and if rumours exist then perhaps there is interest,” Vargas told El Bocon. “At the moment I must only return to Colon. My Agent Carlos Delgado is in Germany seeing the World Cup and we have not spoken. Yes I found out about interest from an English club, but as I repeat to you there is nothing.”

Fancy a Toffee, Joe? Everton are being linked with a bid for that man Joey Barton. The 23-year-old only has 12 months left on his contract at Eastlands and has shown no signs of penning a new deal. The Evening News declared that Everton are one of the clubs considering a move for Barton, who could honour the remainder of his City deal before quitting on a free transfer next summer. The Liverpool Echo poured cold water that purported move though. Newcastle had also been mooted as potential bidders, but they recently denied any interest in the talented but temperamental midfielder – normally mild mannered Newcastle manager Glenn Roeder stated that “We don’t want a disruptive barm pot like that at the club” (I’d like to point out to Mr. Barton and especially to his legal team that the statement just quoted was a complete porkie pie and was inserted for humorous effect; thank you).

Ex-Blues’ News

We Could Have Had Him for How Much? I’m grateful as ever to Matt Thomas, who spotted this snippet this week about the ‘one that got away’ from us a few seasons ago, DVB. “BAYERN SNAP UP VAN BUYTEN – The Bundesliga champions are reported to have agreed a fee of around around €10 million (£7 million) for the AOL Arena man. The 28-year-old was a rock at the back as Hamburg finished third in the league last season, and has consequently commanded a record fee for the club. The previous highest HSV transfer fee was €8.5 million (£6 million) from Lazio for now Hamburg coach Thomas Doll in 1991. Van Buyten made 36 starts in the club’s Bundesliga and Uefa Cup campaigns last term, chipping in with four goals, but looks to have been replaced already at the AOL Arena. Rothosen are reported to have agreed a deal for 20-year-old Anderlecht defender Vincent Kompany.” (from Sky Sports)

World Cup Report

Taxi for Paulo: Paulo Wanchope has decided to retire from international football following his side’s early exit from the World Cup in Germany. The 29-year-old former City striker netted an impressive 45 goals in 72 games for Los Ticos, but has opted to bow out at a relatively young age. He said after the 2-1 loss to Poland: “It was a very emotional day for me. I am still young, but I am leaving the squad because of the travelling. It is enough for me. When you have to take a plane and travel 10 to 12 hours it is difficult.” He made what the tabloids call a “Come and get me” plea to Psycho, when discussing his future plans. “Hopefully, I can come back to Europe and get a club, but we will just have to see. Who knows, maybe Manchester City will show an interest in me. I will be ready because I will be able to rest for domestic games. That will be better for me.”

Claudio Crocked: Claudio Reyna’s World Cup is over, as the USA failed to qualify from their Group. A fighting draw in the second game with Italy had given the States a chance to finish in the top two. However, the game with Ghana didn’t go according to plan. Captain Claudio was dispossessed in front of his own goal, costing the first goal for Ghana. Reyna then hobbled off injured, and could only watch as his side lost 2-1. This leaves David James as City’s only representative at Germany 2006, and his appearances have been few and far between – I did however spot him giving an earnest monologue to 12-year-old Theo Walcott from the safety of the subs’ bench the other night during the Sweden game. Well, he looks 12 to me!

Squad News

Vass Wins Battle of the Bulge: The club website reports that Darius Vassell has had the operation that has sorted out the troublesome hernia problem, which dogged him for the latter months of last season. The club doctors report Vasell is making extremely good progress, and will be fit enough to start pre-season training next month. It’s a similar prognosis for Stephen Jordan who, according to the club website, has recovered from his ankle injury and will be able to join Darius at the pre season training fun and games. The 24-year-old full back picked up the injury in City’s FA Cup quarter-final clash against Aston Villa and was forced to sit out the rest of the campaign.

Onuo Start for Ned: We continue this tale of returning crocks with news of Nedum Onuoha. He says that he’s has recovered from his ligament injury and is ready to return to the City defence. The boy was injured during training in January, “I completely ruptured my medial ligament and basically tore it to shreds,” says Nedum. “My ligament has fully recovered now and basically over the summer I’ve got to make sure it stays at a stable level and come pre-season I can push on then and look ahead to the season. I was training for the final two and a half weeks of the season, but any games then would have been too early for me to play. To be honest I can’t praise the medical staff highly enough because they knew the extent of the injury and knew the chances were that I wouldn’t play any part in the rest of the season.”

Andy Caps Recovery: Andy Cole makes it a quartet of players who are raring to go for the new season. He last played in February, and it has clearly been a frustrating time for the 34-year-old. “I had expected to come back after six to eight weeks, I wasn’t expecting to be out so long. I was getting cheesed off. It was a nothing injury and I have been fortunate with injuries. It was a routine jump, I felt a bit of pain in my knee and that was it. Hopefully I can go through next season uninjured and reach my goals so the team can finish in a higher League position than last season. The medical team are going to monitor me through the pre-season and my aim is to get fit before the start of the season and I’ll go from there. I cannot speak highly enough of the medical staff. I don’t think they get all the credit they deserve because they have been working their socks off. I’d like to believe that if I’d been in the team and playing well we could have got to the semi-final of the FA Cup – and maybe even to the final. But I was sitting on the bench and watching and there was nothing I could do to help.”

Don Barrie <news(at)>


Unlike Don Price, I’ve renewed my season ticket. However, like Don, I am concerned about certain aspects of the way City is run and the way things are in football generally. I’ve followed the “Sack the board!” and “Do our board have any ambition?” arguments but, having thought about it carefully, I think our board are managing the finances in the only way they can.

Despite the fact that we have one of the biggest turnovers in the Premiership, we aren’t generating sufficient cash to fund our transfer activity in the manner we’d all like. In fact more cash goes out than comes in. There are only two ways to correct this – either generate more cash or spend less. Generating more cash involves cup success or European qualification and we aimed for this but failed to achieve it. Therefore the only realistic alternative (apart from further loans) is to spend less.

Our main expenditure, involving 60% of our turnover, is on wages. The general equation in football is that higher wage spending should translate into greater success on the pitch. This is quite logical – bigger squads of better players mean a bigger salary bill. Of course we managed to buck this trend, paying out £37 million last year when many clubs were paying out much less yet finishing higher (e.g. Bolton and West Ham both paid out around £23 million). We could argue all day about the reasons for this – did we pay average players too much or did we fail to make the most of the talent we had? The answer is probably a combination of both but the net result is that we failed to translate pounds into points.

The question faced by the board would then be “Do we continue to follow a strategy and chase success using money we don’t have, or do we go through a period of belt-tightening?” The answer has clearly been the latter, as some of the underperforming high-earners have been pruned from the wage bill or told they are free to go. Let’s face it – if we’re going to finish in the bottom third of the table we don’t need to shell out £37 million in wages to do so when £25 million or less will do nicely. However, in doing this, the board have exchanged one gamble for another and are keeping their fingers crossed that there are three worse teams than us for the next season or two. If that pays off then getting our wage bill down significantly while staying in the Premiership should mean that we can build up a very nice transfer kitty in a couple of years as well as repaying the short term debt.

This scenario presumably also influenced the appointment of Stuart Pearce as manager. The cynic in me reckons that John Wardle’s thinking must have been something like “He’ll do, until we’ve got a nice pot of money that we can use to tempt someone better.” His record in the last few games of the 2004/5 season ensured that this was an easy decision to make and I’m sure that the board, regardless of the hopes of a top six finish, would have been secretly delighted last season with mid-table mediocrity and the cup run we had. Our late slump gave them a problem they (and we) could have done without at this stage. If it carries on at the start of next season then they may have to make a difficult decision far earlier than they were hoping.

However, I believe that things may be coming to a head, as far as football finances are concerned. We have sold nearly 10,000 season tickets less than two years ago and even our friends from Salford may be suffering somewhat. I was speaking to a fanatical Red the other day and he has not renewed his season ticket, after many, many years. His reason was simple – he is fed up of seeing his money disappear into the already full pockets of the likes of Rio Ferdinand or Wayne Rooney, so that they can buy another fancy car, have a bit of a flutter on the gee-gees, re-design their mansion or finance a few more shopping trips. One survey reckoned that 18% of United’s season ticket holders would not renew this summer and this experience appears to have been repeated at CoMS. We are all getting fed up of paying more and more of our own hard-earned money to fund the increasingly extravagant lifestyles of players that, not that many years ago, were pretty well just your average bloke next door. Can anyone imagine Tony Book, Mike Doyle, Neil Young or Alan Oakes riding with their minders in a dark-windowed limousine, going to their beautician to have their chests waxed and their eyebrows trimmed?

To add insult to injury, many of these players who own racehorses (e.g. Barton) or palatial homes in the south of France (e.g. Sibierski) are simply very ordinary players. But at least they are first team players. Near my house there is a small development of up-market flats. In the car park there is a Bentley, not owned by a wealthy businessman as you might expect, but by a Manchester United reserve team player, who has literally only played a handful of games for the first team. No one minds our heroes earning a decent living for their efforts but when it comes to a reserve team player driving a Bentley then you have to wonder what’s going on. I often wonder when I overtake Kenny Clements teaching a learner driver, or pass the golf club where Tony Towers is steward, what those two decent guys, who in their day were better-than-average players, must think.

Colin Savage <colin(at)>


According to the football press here in Lisbon, Helder Postiga will be a Blue within days. City have matched all Porto’s requirements, price of €5 million (£3.4 million), plus everything else they’ve asked for, probably just “for God’s sake take this non-scoring lightweight off our hands”.

Ah well, at least they might start showing City instead of b****y Chelsea every week on cable down here. Apparently Postiga scored one or two on loan at St Etienne last season, so we’ll see.

Simon Curtis <np27ao(at)>


Well said Sam Duxbury. It is just a shirt. I happen to like it, others don’t, but compared to some of the dodgy ones we’ve had over the years (remember the red/black chessboard?) it’s great.

I also happen to prefer the current badge to the old round one and think that COMS is an infinitely better stadium than Maine Road – but so what? It’s the team that matters, so let’s focus on that and hope that we manage to get two or three decent midfielders during the summer, including at least one who can hold the ball up and make penetrating through-passes.

And how are we going to afford decent players? By making money from shirt sales, museum admission charges, corporate boxes, catering franchises and all the other things recent correspondents have moaned about.

And not forgetting, of course, ticket prices. This may sound like a turkey voting for Christmas, but down here in Berkshire my friends simply can’t believe that I’ve paid only £350 to renew my season ticket. A similar ticket at Chelsea would cost over £800 and, following their promotion to the Premiership, Reading announced that their season tickets would be going up to around £550. City’s admission prices are among the cheapest in the Premiership and whilst the club have always tried to maintain parity with our friends in Stretford, that is not realistic when their attendances are around 30,000 more than ours. If we want to be a top 6 team, our so-called money-grabbing board are going to have to really start doing just that, and we are going to have to be realistic and fork out to pay for the sort of team we want to see.

John Caley <john(at)>


This is my first post on MCIVTA. I often read your articles with great interest. However, I would like to write in reaction to various comments on the running of the club these days, e.g., the new kit, transfers, seasoncards sales, personnel, etc.

Starting with the new kit, I genuinely think it is not that bad. OK, it lacks inspiration but, what do you want? If you look at the shirts designed for ‘bigger’ clubs, can you see more originality? If we had Nike, we would have the same shirt template as Arsenal, Barca, United, Celtic, Hertha Berlin, PSG et al except for the colours and this year’s templates are not groundbreaking either. The same can be said about Adidas. Chelsea’s new kit will look the same as Marseille’s away kit and has the same template as Bayern’s and Liverpool’s, as far as I can remember. At least with Premiership clubs you don’t have sponsors all over the shirt. If you take Lyon’s shirt (French champions for the last 5 years), their home shirt looks like the England shirt and they have 4 sponsors all over it. That’s for the richest club in France.

Regarding seasoncard sales, we should take a look at Lyon once again. Today (20/06/06) they announced that the 25,000 season-tickets barrier has been broken. They might even struggle to make it to 30,000. That’s for a club five times champions over the past five years, that played in successive Champions’ League quarter-finals and playing in a 42,000 capacity stadium. We have a 4-star stadium. Aren’t you all proud of it?

Stuart Pearce has quality players at his disposal. Where are the ones who were praising Stephen Ireland? We still have Nedum Onuoha and Andy Cole on the comeback trail. Micah Richards is still at the club and so is Distin, James, Dunne, Vassell and judging by Reyna’s performance at the World Cup, he’s not a total donkey. Ok, signing Dickov is not a sign of ambition by your standards, but he’s a Pearce-type of player. He’s committed and he will influence younger players. As far as I’m concerned, apart from Chelsea, I haven’t seen one club in particular signing player after player. We all know for a fact that players won’t move to another club before the World Cup, except Bosmans. Getting on the manager’s back is bad for the club. He led City to an FA Cup quarter-final in his first full season. To me, that’s nearly a trophy.

And finally, why questioning Mackintosh, Tyrrell, Howard (and others) loyalty towards City? Because they are not actual City fans? And? We owe the move to Maine Road to the same man (Ernest Mangnall) who took United to Old Trafford. Judging by the Maine Road nostalgia going on these days and by the history of the club itself, it wasn’t such a bad move.

One of our greatest heroes, Billy Meredith, played for United, won trophies for them. Judging by Gary James’ books, Meredith really cared about City. He even got married at St Marks. But he was a professional footballer. When you are trained to do a job, you work for any company that offers you a good job. When Dave Knowles asks “who agreed this contract (Reebok) in the first place?” he first cites two people supposed to be the culprits. But there is a mistake: Paul Tyrrell was named City’s Head of Communications in December 2003, a year after the deal was effectively signed. These kinds of remarks could prove counterproductive if they are not well documented.

And, please, save the old “what’s this frog talking about?” going-on.

CTID, Jean-Francois Maille <jfmaille(at)>


Seeing our old friend and “England’s top referee” in charge of the World Cup game his talents undoubtedly deserve (Togo vs. South Korea) reminded me of some correspondence I had with Keith Hackett at the end of last season. Work commitments leave me away from home quite a lot at the moment so I couldn’t do my usual match report for the Arsenal game. I actually enjoyed the game as we played with some commitment but Mr P’s performance in that match left something to be desired, even by his standards. Arsenal had to win in order to stand a chance of making fourth spot. They did, of course, and were much the better team on the night (although Poll did pull play back for free kicks to us when we had clear advantages on three occasions).

One thing puzzled me after that game. Why, when it was the only Premiership game that night, was it necessary to send a referee all the way from Hertfordshire? After all, Mark Halsey is only in Bolton and Chris Foy is in St Helens. I know that referees are not allowed to referee clubs in the area they live (so Foy can’t do Everton or Liverpool for example). Poll lives in Tring and this is in Hertfordshire, just to the north west of Greater London. Therefore he can referee London teams in the same way Foy or Halsey can referee us.

However, on closer examination I discovered that Arsenal’s training ground is in London Colney, which is in Hertfordshire, just a few miles from Tring, and that David Dein (Arsenal Chairman and FA Board Member) and Arsene Wenger live in Hertfordshire. I thought this was a bit off and wrote to Keith Hackett querying it. To his credit he replied very promptly and went to great lengths to re-assure me that the process for allocating and assessing referees was scrupulous and fair. However, he didn’t answer the question of why Poll was appointed to that particular match when there were others who were much closer geographically.

Since then of course we have had:

  • The drama of the final day of the Premiership when the FA ruled thatSpurs would have to play their vital match against West Ham, despiteillness to key players. If they had won then they and not Arsenalwould have qualified for the Champions’ League;
  • The Italian scandal involving Juventus allegedly manipulating refereeappointments;
  • Sam Allardyce’s outburst about the influence Dein may or may not havebrought to bear on the appointment of the new England manager;
  • Theo Walcott (of Arsenal) being included in the World Cup squad whenEriksson has not even seen him play;
  • The allegations about Arsenal’s financial connection with a Belgianclub;
  • The removal of Dein as one of the Premier League representatives onthe FA Board.

I’m sure Keith Hackett is right and we have nothing to worry about but you do wonder don’t you?

Colin Savage <colin(at)>


I see Stuart on ITV most evenings talking World Cup, but do we believe he is scouting out there or just commenting on what he’s seen? Fixtures out (22nd), not too long to start getting the boys together for pre-season; the squad seems light, anyone else concerned?

Anyone travelling up from London next season, please get in touch.



Following Peter’s request last issue, here’s a link to a site to monitor English Premiership current “reported” injuries:

Simon Wardle – New Zealand <simon.wardle(at)>
Also sent in by David Bowl <david_bowl(at)>


I purchased two little blue leather Man City shirt luggage tags (with ‘Brother’) on them years ago from the little shop at the corner of Maine Road. One of them got ripped off one of my bags on a trip last year. I haven’t been able to locate any more.

If anyone might know of either a seller of such (like where the old unofficial seller moved, a telephone number would be great) or where I might find similar, I’d be very grateful. All other sources have been exhausted. I miss seeing my luggage coming through the belt with City shirts hanging off them!

Simon <AlienUK(at)>


Coming from Ipswich, Australia, I have supported Manchester City since 1982 when, on a school trip from Oz, I ran into the Manchester City youth team or Under 14 squad. Top bunch of guys, said they were the English U16 team. Asked what club they came from and they all bragged they were from Manchester City, so I blame them for me supporting City.

I have complained and had my hopes lifted then shattered, followed by old newspaper reports before days of the Internet us getting relegated and dropping to the 2nd Division. But one thing that kept me going and very proud was the mighty followers of City who, even down in the 2nd Division, kept true blue and supported the team. I read reports that we even sang as we got relegated. I was so proud.

I have been proud to be a Manchester City follower because of our supporters who don’t jump ship, keep turning up after 30 years of disappointment, and keep getting behind the team and club. But now, reading these whining, complaining types issue after issue, I wonder what the hell has happened?

Wake up, the rollercoaster ride of expectation and shattering disappointment is part of being a City supporter. I wouldn’t switch to another rich super club, I cannot believe these other supporters who are not renewing season tickets. We will end up like Leeds, Nottingham Forest, Coventry and other clubs that get good crowds in the Premiership and then when they get relegated spend 15 years trying to get back because their weak supporters took off. We bag the players for not being loyal and putting in 100%, but now our fans are starting to rot and show no heart.

I’m just happy we didn’t get relegated. Be happy! Stay true blue.

Dave Wenck – Australia <davewenck(at)>

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Newsletter #1235