Newsletter #1249

James off to Pompey as rumoured, Trabelsi has signed as rumoured. Now all we need is the Swedish ‘keeper Isaksson to sign up and Distin to stop dithering.

Don’s news brings us transfers, internationals, and a look back at the pre-season friendlies.

We also have opinion on the China tournament, our signings, and a few requests.

Next game: Porto (Friendly), home, 3pm Saturday 12 August 2006


General News

International Blues Already! There’s good news for Richard Dunne and Stephen Ireland. They’ve been selected for the Republic of Ireland squad to face Holland on August 16 in a friendly fixture. The game takes place in the week before City visit Chelsea at the start of the Premiership fixtures, so Mr. Pearce must be hoping that the pair return unscathed. SP says he will allow Sun Jihai to play in an upcoming Asian Cup qualifier for China. His country play Singapore on August 16, so Sun is unlikely to play against Chelsea on August 20. “If he’s fit and available he can play and if he’s not fit and available he can’t play,” said Pearce. “It’s straightforward. It’s not ideal, there is no doubt about that, but all through my career representing my country I was very proud to do so and now as a manager I don’t want to be telling players when they can and can’t represent their countries. If they get selected and want to go, far be it from me to stand in their way.”

Billy Walsh: Last week the Evening News announced the death of former City player Billy Walsh, at the age of 85. According to, Walsh played for the Blues 347 times between 1939 and 1950, and was said to be City’s oldest surviving former international player at the time of his death. Walsh had the distinction of being capped by four countries, playing for England schoolboys, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and New Zealand.

Reigning Over Victoria: The Reserves had a good work out on Wednesday night at Northwich Victoria. The Blues won 3-0 thanks to goals from Ishmael Miller on 38 minutes, Daniel Sturridge in the 62nd minute, and substitute Ashley Grimes five minutes later.
Team: Schmeichel, D’Laryea, Williamson, Onuoha (Grimes 59), M Mills, Johnson (Williams 70), Etuhu, Laird, Miller, Sturridge (Moore 81), Logan. Unused subs: Matthewson, Breen.

Transfer News and Gossip

It’s Better to Trabel Hopefully: This week’s first piece of transfer tittle-tattle was a bit vague to say the least. In China for the pre-season tournament, SP said that City were hoping to clinch a deal for a player – not that he was revealing who the player was. “The chief executive hasn’t travelled on the trip because he is busy talking to a player at the moment, as we would like to get one or two more in,” said Pearce. “We feel we have done good business up to this stage but we would like one or two more areas in our squad to be covered.” This correspondent had hoped for a left-sided midfielder, but the smart money seemed to be on Tunisian World Cup full-back Hatem Trabelsi being the mystery player. Eventually SP did confirm that Trabelsi was the player in question. The 29-year-old defender is available on a Bosman from Ajax and City are thought to be near to matching his wage demands. Sunday’s rags revealed a further complication, as Trabelsi was reported to be suffering from a heart condition. The Gaffer did come and state that: “We are in talks with Trabelsi’s agent at the moment. Nothing has been agreed yet but I am hopeful. He clearly is a top quality player and is exactly the type of talent we should be interested in.”

Hello and So Long, Sol: Radio 5 Live’s Sports headlines soon caught my attention on Tuesday morning when their top story was – “Sol Campbell may be on the verge of a surprise move to Manchester City.” That was a bit of a shock, as I’d watched Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp on Sky Sports the night before saying that the England centre half was close to signing a one-year deal following a medical. It seems that this rather unexpected twist was inspired by Campbell’s former boss Arsene Wenger who, during a press conference before his side’s Champions’ League qualifying game this week, said he thought Campbell was on his way to the COMS. Next thing we hear is that the 31-year-old was back on the South Coast apparently to put the finishing touches to a move. Redknapp was more than confident that Campbell was going to become his player in the near future. “That (the Manchester City connection) is news to me. As far as I’m concerned it is done. I shook hands with Sol last night and we had a deal,” Redknapp told the Portsmouth News. “I wouldn’t think Sol would be the type of man to run back from that. I don’t see a problem. I’m delighted to get him.” So the Sol story proved to be much ado about nothing, as the defender signed for Pompey on Wednesday.

Who Needs Sol When We’ve Got Sylv? If the Sol Campbell business related to City making a belated attempt to find a replacement for Sylvain Distin, then no one at the club was saying so. In fact, the new skipper and his manager were publicly encouraging Distin to desist and to remain with the Blues. “I certainly don’t want Sylvain to go, he is one of the cornerstones of our side,” said Dunnie the Skipper. “He is a leader on the pitch and has everything to be the top defender that he is. I think he is at a very good club at the moment and I am hoping that he will stay. I think he wants to stay and I think the club want to keep him; but they will not want to let him leave for free next summer, so they are in a difficult position. The lads would like Sylvain here; we all appreciate what he brings to the side.” SP meanwhile gave an insider’s view on why these rumours were surfacing. “It’s all talk and speculation at the moment,” the manager said. “It happens when the players are in the last year of their contract and heading for a Bosman. I have said all along that I want Sylvain to stay here and be part of the squad. I would like him to extend his deal. He has been made a fantastic offer. I would be delighted if he came to my room while we are here and told me he wanted to sign. One thing that I think pushes him in the right direction is that five new faces have come in. And Joey Barton and Micah Richards have both signed up and said they want to be part of what is going on here.”

Tony the Toffee? Previously on “Willie McKay-Special Agent” – we left our hero generously declining an agent’s fee for negotiating a deal so that Joey Barton stayed exactly where he was. This week the search for an agent’s fee goes on, in an episode entitled “There’s More than One Way to Skin a Club.” Now read on: Everton are reportedly lining up a move for Antoine Sibierski. The Frenchman is available for transfer (Oh really? When did the club announce that?) after the arrival of several new faces at the club. And now Everton are leading the pack of clubs interested in the 50p-headed 32-year-old. Sibierski’s agent (you’ve guessed it) Willie McKay has revealed Moyes is keen to push through a deal for the Frenchman. “I have spoken to David Moyes and he is great admirer of Antoine,” McKay told “He is hoping something can be done to bring Antoine to Goodison Park.” That agent’s fee’s as good as secured!

The Book of Isaak: It’s becoming increasingly likely that City will be kicking off the season with a new custodian between the sticks. Reports persisted all week linking those Pompey Boys (again) with David James, and you do wonder if a £2 million bid for a 36-year-old ‘keeper with only a year left on his contract might be a bit too tempting for City. Psycho revealed today that “David James has expressed a wish to leave. It all depends on whether Portsmouth reach our valuation but in some ways I have to be prepared for the fact he will leave. I spoke with him when we were away in China. It is not an issue about Manchester City, there are other reasons why he wants to be in the south.” James insists he has no problem with City, but rather, is eager on a move to the South where his fiancé lives. City have been linked with not one, but two potential replacements for James. First came reports that City were set to rival those pesky Traffordonians for West Brom goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak. The Reds have already had three bids for the stopper rejected but are expected to make a fresh offer in the coming days, so City will have to move swiftly if they are to have any chance of landing the 24-year-old. The second, and more likely replacement is Rennes goalie Andreas Isaksson. The Swedish international’s agent Roger Ljung told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet he hoped to complete a transfer to the COMS shortly. He said: “I am on my way to a meeting to negotiate. It is true that I am in Manchester now, I am sitting with plenty of people now and am just on my way to a meeting. We hope it will be official during the afternoon. We would not be here if we didn’t think it would be sealed.”

Steve Feels the Heat: After Psycho’s summer purge of younger squad members, which has seen BWP, Lee Croft and Willo Flood leave the club, comes word that Stephen Ireland might be the next Blue to seek pastures new. According to Sky Sports’ website, Celtic, Sunderland and Nottingham Forest are looking into the possibility of landing Ireland. The player’s agent Lee Payne insisted the teenager was more than happy at City, but first team football was his main aim. “Stephen is a very talented lad and has progressed so well over the last season,” Payne told “Obviously he wants first team football, but he genuinely wants that to be at Manchester City.”

Ex-Blues’ News

Cutting Costs With Curle: The M.E.N. brought news of the former City captain Keith Curle. Last heard of as manager of Mansfield Town then Chester City, Curle is currently scouting for Sheffield United. “My five years at City were the highlight of my career,” said Curley Wurley. “The most enjoyable part was the first two years under Peter Reid. I think the club made a major mistake in sacking him, and a downward spiral started from there. But I enjoyed working with Brian Horton and with Alan Ball, and I was sorry to leave. The worst thing about it was that many people were left with the impression that I moved to Wolves for financial reasons, and nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that City accepted an offer for me, and they had to reduce the wage bill.”

Reactions and Comments

No Shanghai Surprise: City’s first game on their two match tour of China began with a win over local side Shanghai Shenhua, 1-0. Georgios Samaras latched on to a perfectly-placed pass by new signing Bernardo Corradi 10 minutes before the half-time break. While Corradi impressed in the opening 45 minutes, City were forced to defend for much of the second period and had to play the final 13 minutes with 10 men after Ben Thatcher was sent off for a second bookable offence. “It was a very competitive game against a very tough side, but we knew today’s game would be a tough match for us,” mused SP. “I’m very pleased with my team and with my players. We had to defend stoutly at times, especially when we went down to 10 players, and we are pleased to have won the match. In a backs-to-the-wall situation like I have faced many times in my international career, when I have got on an aeroplane and travelled, I’ve got nothing but admiration for the team,” he added. “There will be times – and possibly in two weeks’ time when we are away at Stamford Bridge – when you are going to have your backs to the wall and you’re going to have to find a similar spirit to what we found here.” SP was left puzzled by the intervention of the unidentified local official, who prevented Antoine Sibierski from taking to the field for wearing a wristband. “Antoine Sibierski has a cloth around his wrist that he has worn for years and years,” said Pearce. “After taping his ring up and taping his bangle up, the fourth official and another gentleman – and we’re not quite sure who he is – decided he couldn’t enter the field of play. After we questioned this on several occasions, he still was adamant that the player was not going to come onto the field of play. So we’ve either got to have it surgically removed by Sunday or have to send him home. He won’t be able to play the game.” And in an Arsene Wenger like moment, he claimed not to have seen the offence that lead to Ben Thatcher’s dismissal: “I didn’t see the sending off as I was on my way to the dugout from the stand to clear up the bangle situation, so I haven’t actually seen the Ben Thatcher sending off,” said Pearce. “But judging by the run of the game it was no surprise to me that a Manchester City player was sent off.”
City: Weaver, D Mills, Dunne (c), Jordan, Thatcher, Sinclair, Barton, Hamann (Reyna), Vassell (Dickov), Samaras, Corradi. Subs: James, Hart, Sibierski, Miller.

Blues Fail to Ease In: Sunday’s game saw City suffer their first pre-season defeat, going down 3-4 to Japanese team Kashima Antlers. City, who are carrying so many injuries that SP was forced to sit on the subs’ bench, trailed after just 11 minutes and were never ahead. Paul Dickov went close to equalising before Antoine Sibierski levelled, heading in Trevor Sinclair’s cross. On the hour City were 3-1 down and goals from Georgios Samaras and Joey Barton were merely a consolation. “It was a tough old encounter to be honest,” said Pearce. “From a tactical point of view we started with too slow a tempo and I don’t think we are a good side when we do that. It just showed at the end of the game when we upped the tempo we’re a better side. I think we have got to understand what makes us a decent side.” Despite conceding four goals, Pearce praised young goalie Joe Hart: “I think for the youngster in goal it was great and he’ll come on leaps and bounds because of evenings like tonight. But I don’t think he had a great deal of cover in front of him, to be fair.” Reyna went off with an injury to his right ankle and new signing Dietmar Hamann failed to shake off a foot injury from Friday’s win over Shanghai Shenhua. Neither Richard Dunne nor Sun Jihai were available for selection due to minor injuries and Ben Thatcher was suspended.
City: Hart, Richards, Jordan, Distin, D.Mills, Sinclair, Sibierski, Reyna, Dabo, Dickov, Samaras. Unused subs: Weaver, Pearce, Miller, Barton, Corradi, Vassell.

Squad News

The Smell of Football: Whatever happened to Andy Cole? The 34-year-old hasn’t played for City since injuring his knee in February, and SP is hoping that the striker may be ready to face Porto at the COMS. “Coley is on the training ground while we are away working with physio Jim Webb and the plan for him is a gradual build-up so that he is ready to join in with us when we get back in a week’s time,” revealed the manager. “We miss him in many ways because he is a big and important influence. I’d like to think he would be involved against Porto but we don’t want to rush him.” Another City forward has admitted that he could have joined City last summer, but turned the Blues down. Let Bernardo Corradi explain. “I had the chance to join City last year, but decided that I should go to Parma on loan because I still hoped to force my way into Italy’s squad for the World Cup,” Corradi told The Sunday Mirror. “My decision was not intended as an insult to City or Mr Pearce. It was just that I felt my best chance to play in the World Cup was to stay in Italy. It never happened, but I had a very good season and I am honoured that City still wanted me. The fans should know that it has been my dream since I was a schoolboy to play in England. The Premiership is the most exciting league in the world, the fans love their teams, and I am full of excitement about this opportunity. As soon as I arrived in Manchester I could smell the football atmosphere. I cannot wait to play a match at home, with the supporters so close to the pitch.”

Ned on the Mend: Another player hopeful of appearing in the Porto game is youngster Nedum Onuoha. The 19-year-old defender has had a dreadful close season – having recovered from the knee ligament damage at the start of the year, Nedum damaged calf muscles on the first day of training. But, after missing City’s entire pre-season campaign so far, including the recent two-match tour of China, Onuoha is now recovered and desperate to start playing again. “It was a real sickener,” Onuoha told the club website. “It was quite a rare muscle tear, the sort you might get if you jumped out of a plane and land heavily on your feet. I am hoping to play for 45 minutes on Wednesday against Northwich Victoria and then there’s another game next week,” said Onuoha. “I am training fully again, so I’ll just have to wait and see if the manager requires me for the Porto game.” Nedum in fact played for 60 minutes at Northwich, and must wait to see how his injured limbs coped with the run out.

I’m off on my hols next week – armed only with a copy of a biography of City’s legendary captain from the 1920’s, Max Woosnam, the family and I are vacating to a lonely Scottish Isle for a week. The Longshaws are in charge of the news desk in my absence, so please send any news items to the usual address for their attention.

Don Barrie <news(at)>


I won’t bother with match reports as such but here are my general thoughts from the trip:

It was very, very hot.

The first match was poor. I can’t remember anything about it but for the goal and the sending-off. My best guess is that about 250 City fans were there. Most were sat in the main stand (in the £32 seats) About 30 (me included) were sat in £7 seats behind the goal. A few others were dotted around the ground. I reckon about 5,000 were in the ground for the first game. The stadium holds 35,000. Even at the ground you could negotiate over the price of a beer. Some sellers had them hidden in ice cream freezers so presumably they didn’t have the necessary permission to sell alcohol.

The pitch was in poor nick. The ref was poor too. Wigley was on the bench and SP up in the stand. SW had a right barney with the 4th or 5th official and evidently City made some sort of protest at the end of the game with the result that the said official didn’t ref our last game, as he was supposed to.

At the end of the game, SP came on to the pitch to talk to the players. Then they had a warm down. In the meantime, the stadium lights were being turned off. As the team left the pitch a couple of them waved over to us from the halfway line. Joey chucked his shirt into the main stand and then they were off.

On the following day there was an autograph session at the ground. Four players arrived to do their bit – James, Vassell, Reyna and Sun. The players were shown inside and a couple of dozen Blues wondered whether to join the long queue or stay in the shade. We chose not to queue but got in at the end. James was quite cheerful. Now we know why. Vassell looked thoroughly miserable and the other two just bored.

A club representative handed out car mini kits and sun visors, many of which were snapped up by the happy chinese policemen on duty. Most people who queued up received a programme or something else that they could get signed.

We went to the Hilton Hotel that night, where we had bought our tickets for the games. There was a special offer on for City fans – buy one £32 ticket and get 2 free!

The second match was more entertaining. Joey scored a cracker. Samaras scored a comedy goal – their ‘keeper suddenly had a hole in his hands. Joe Hart let 2 in he should have saved. Dabo and Reyna each set up one of the other teams’ goals with bad passes. Maybe the pitch was partly to blame. Refereeing and pitch still poor.

The crowd was smaller and there were a few less Blues behind the goal with us. The beer was cheaper. About 30p for a large plastic cupful.

Sibierski scored with a header.

At the end of the game the next 2 teams came on to do their warm up. I mention this because it may possibly explain why the players didn’t come over to thank us for travelling 6,000-odd miles. Dickov and (I think) Sinclair chucked their shirts into the main stand. The rest took their shirts off and gave them to one of the staff, who threw them into the stand for them. I ask you!

A few players came out to watch a bit of the Madrid game that was on after ours. They were at the other side of the tunnel from the few City fans in the main stand who had stayed on. I had joined them by then. Sib and Joey came over to sign, the rest ignored the fans and all the team had left the stadium before the end of the second match.

Don’t pick Dabo for your Fantasy League teams. He really is a holding midfielder.

I had a great time in China, visiting 2 other cities before Shanghai, as many others seemed to have done. It’s just the bit that involved City that disappointed.

John Marsland <marslands(at)>


After the signings so far during this pre season, I am asking myself “have we improved from last season?” My answer to that question is a yes, but only if we don’t have the bad luck of the injuries sustained just before Christmas last season. At least we go into the new season with more strikers, young and experienced. The midfield has been strengthened and that’s where most games nowadays are either won or lost.

My concern is still about the non-signing of an extended contract of Sylvain Distin; sure he is a great left footed defender, and yes I would like him to stay. But my feelings are that he will wait for a team he feels are good enough for him to go to, and are already in Europe.

Or the alternative, City before the January transfer window are doing well, and because no other club worthy in the eyes of Distin comes in for him decides to stay, so he will become a Bosman at the end of the season, free to decide whatever he wants to and at what terms he wants, and just leaves us for nowt. But after not signing a £40,000 a week contract he looks true to his word: it’s not about money.

In my eyes as a City fan, it’s also about no loyalty. I want to see players that want to play for City and do their best for the club; we don’t get into Europe with doubt in the eyes of any key players. We need confident players, and confident players sign for the best club in the world – City – or be off. Wouldn’t it be nice if all players had the “I want to play for City” feeling as our old (young) friend Dickov?

But “Times are a changin”, just like Bob Dylan’s song says, he must have been way ahead of his time if he was thinking about football.

Come on you Blues.

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


For those unfortunates, like me, who do not live in the reception area for Channel M, or refuse to subscribe to Sky, you may be able to watch ‘Inside MCFC’ on your PC. You can watch past programmes on, but when I tried I received the audio commentary but not the picture. As an alternative, go to and click through programmes from the United Kingdom, and Channel M is there. You can watch the live broadcast on that site, but you will have to go back to the Channel M site to find times of programmes.

As far as the content goes, I would just say that any programme about Manchester City is better than no programme at all.

Arthur Hill <R4L(at)>


Someone please explain to me the logic of even thinking of selling David James to Portsmouth?

Two weeks before the start of the Premier League season and Harry Rednapp wants to nick our only experienced goalie for 2 million quid? Surely City can’t be serious? They need to give James at least a two-year contract to give Joe Hart time to develop as a replacement. And why would James want to go to Portsmouth in the first place?

Unless Psycho has another goalie ready in waiting he should tell Harry to stuff it. After all, even 2 million quid can’t stop the ball from going in the net.

Come on you Blues, let’s stuff Chelsea.

Keith Sharp <keith(at)>


On 11th August, Manchester City F.C. will be the article featured on the main page of Wikipedia, the online collaborative encyclopedia. City are one of only 3 football teams with an article regarded as being of a high enough quality to be on the main page (the others are Arsenal and IFK Gothenburg).

Wikipedia English language front page:
Article on City:

Simon Clarke <simonpclarke(at)>


Can I alert readers to a new survey reported in Wednesday’s The Guardian worth looking at just for the picture of COMS by that biased Red responsible for that wonky and erroneous survey some years back (on season ticket holders in Manchester), Adam Brown, senior research fellow at the Manchester Institute of Popular Culture at Manchester Metropolitan University, and Tim Crabbe, principal lecturer in sport at Sheffield Hallam University, who spent more than three years researching modern football’s approach to its various “communities”, particularly residents local to clubs’ stadiums, supporters, and the “hard-to-reach” groups that clubs are increasingly encouraged to engage with.

Their report applauds good work carried out by clubs’ Football in the Community programmes, which were established nationally in 1986, and other more recent football-based social inclusion initiatives, usually in partnership with government or other agencies, which, they say, are “unparalleled in sport more generally”.

The conclusions are based partly on extended research into three senior professional clubs, Manchester City, Leeds United and Sheffield United. The authors found examples of good practice at all three, but were struck by the dramatic cutbacks to Leeds’ proud, in-house community programme when the club became the Premier League’s most infamous financial basket case.,,1839691,00.html

Peter Carlisle <Carlisle(at)>


I have just returned from City’s China expedition and none of my mates managed to tape either of the games for me whilst I was away. If you have a copy of either of City’s games vs. Shanghai or Kashima or both and are willing to lend me the tape or DVD for copying I would be very grateful. I guarantee a quick return of the tape/DVD and will send you a copy of the rare tournament programme, which has recently been sold on Ebay for £30.

If you can help please e-mail me at the address below.

Steve Worthington <steve.Worthington(at)>


I’ve recently moved to Vancouver. Does anyone know of any bars that will be showing any of the City games? Also, are there any supporters’ clubs in the city?

Martin Alldred <martinblue75(at)>


I know this is an early request (and I’ll probably post later this year); I’m off to Las Vegas in December – can you guess where I’m coming from? I booked my holiday in January before the 2006/07 fixtures came out; now they’re out, I realise that I’m going to be out of the country between 3rd-10th December, and as you will already know the 9th is the derby at the Swamp vs. them. So my request is: would any Vegas/Nevada/USA based Bblues know of any pubs/bars/hotels in Vegas that would show this match so I could cheer on City to a glorious win! Many thanks in advance.

I know of the Crown and Anchor on Tropicana.

Martin Ford <>


I am currently in the USA but will be in the UK during November and would be grateful for two spare tickets for the visits of Newcastle and Fulham, and also the trip to Anfield. I can be reached by email below.


Simon <AlienUK(at)>

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Newsletter #1249