Newsletter #1285

A look back at last weekend and reaction to the game and refereeing instances tonight, with both news and opinions on those. We also have the latest transfer rumours/targets and number eight’s latest musings – which most will actually agree with for once.

Next up our old foes Spurs.

Next game: Tottenham Hotspur, home, 3pm Sunday 17 December 2006


General News

Curse Those Reds Reserves: In a depressing foretelling of the main event at the weekend, the Reserves derby ended in a two goal victory for those pesky Reds. Kieran Richardson opened the scoring for the hosts with a free-kick before the interval, with Alan “I love Leeds Me” Smith chipping home from thirty yards after a wayward Joe Hart clearance landed at the bottle blonde’s feet. So not the best return to Ewen Fields for the Blues. Team: Hart, Logan (Obeng 76), Williamson, D’Laryea, Mills, Marshall, Etuhu, Laird, Evans, Grimes (Moore 65), Williams. Unused substitutes: Matthewson, Mee, Ball.

You Pays Yer Money (Or Not…) John Wardle’s announcement last week that the club was in talks with a potential investor has caused quite a flurry in the media this week. Club officials have been giving their views on the proposed move, while there has been plenty of speculation over the identity of the mystery backer. Chief Executive Alistair Mackintosh told the M.E.N. that “We want someone who can take the club forward, who can bring funds to invest in the team, and also understand the history and tradition of Manchester City and be custodian of the club.” He said that negotiations were “ten minutes into a ninety minute game,” and that it was “way too early” to be discussing when a takeover would take place, and who might remain in post at the club. SP meanwhile welcomed news last week of new investment. He told Sky Sports: “I have spoken to the Chairman and Chief Executive. They keep me fully informed about what might be going on. Everyone welcomes new investment as long as it is for the betterment of the club and its supporters. But the main concern for me is to make sure that the team is right. We don’t need to be sidetracked by anything that might be going on.” So as they used to say at the start of Hong Kong Phooey, “Who is this Superhero?” The Purely Man City website produced a handy summary of the rumoured potential candidates. There’s alleged interest from an organisation named Hermes Sports Partners, whose representatives, it is claimed, met City officials in Dubai last month. Or, former Formula 1 team boss Eddie Jordan is heading an Irish/U.S. consortium. Or, as the Sunday Mirror claims, former Phones4U tycoon John Caudwell is the man. Your news editor can claim a little local knowledge on Mr. Caudwell, who is based in the North Staffordshire area. He’s certainly rich (he’s just sold Phones4U for nearly £1.5 billion apparently), but in these parts you could say he’s more respected than liked. He certainly doesn’t sound like the type of person to throw money into a financial black hole of a football club, without expecting to see some return for his investment. And he’s a different kind of animal to John Wardle, who by his own pronouncements is happy to give his cash without any expectation of seeing a profitable return. And my tabloid newshound tells me that now the mystery buyer is hanging fire on pursuing a bid for the club – he (she? they?) is /are waiting to see if City secure their Premiership status.

Barton’s Book Review: Time for a pre-Christmas book review from the Melvyn Bragg of Manchester City, Joey Barton. He’s hit out at England players who have written books following the World Cup Finals this summer. “I’d never write a book unless I’d done something,” Barton said in an interview with The Times. “I’ve achieved nothing in this game. Nothing. Maybe in time, if I achieve everything I want and I win trophies, I’ll write a book. But what have I done in my career? ‘And there was this one season we finished eighth at Manchester City…’ You know what I mean? England did nothing in that World Cup, so why were they bringing books out? ‘We got beat in the quarter- finals. I played like s***. Here’s my book.’ Who wants to read that? I don’t. If I’m buying a book, I’ll buy a book about someone who’s won something, not a book someone’s written for the sake of it because their agent’s telling them they can cash in on the English public on the back of the World Cup. I know football is a well-oiled PR machine these days, but that’s just bulls***. I know these players and I bet some of them didn’t even want to do books. I watched the World Cup and that wasn’t a team for me.” Ouch! Next week, Dr. Barton gives us his thoughts on the Xmas selection of ‘hilarious’ DVD’s showing sporting gaffes…

Transfer News and Gossip

Gunners Track Trab: Hatem Trabelsi must be playing well – because Arsenal are now being linked with a move for the Tunisian international. Having recovered from injury, found a berth in right midfield and scored (in this correspondent’s unbiased opinion) the best goal in Saturday’s derby, Hatem is exciting interest from the Emirates Stadium – the Gooners, lest we forget, at one time had first refusal on Trabs when he was an Ajax man, but their interest cooled when he sustained a serious injury.

Rolfes Stairway to Heaven: Stuart Pearce is monitoring, we are lead to believe, powerful left-winger Simon Rolfes of Bayer Leverkusen. This doesn’t sound like fantastic news for Damarcus Beasley, who has struggled to make an impact since his arrival at the COMS. Twenty four year old Rolfes is a regular in the Leverkusen side at present but the Bundesliga club will listen to offers for the 6ft 2in star.

Ciao Corradi? Bernardo Corradi is once again being linked with a January move back to Serie A in Italy. The striker has had trouble settling down in Manchester according to reports and there has been growing speculation that he could be on the move with a return to Italy the favourite destination. The player himself has already stated that he would love to return to play for struggling Chievo Verona at some point. Corradi’s future has again been under the spotlight this week after his sending off in the derby last weekend (of which more later). Despite the dressing down he handed out to his Italian striker, SP insists he has no problem with Corradi, however.

Alas Jones Will Shift: A few months ago, City were supposedly interested in Crewe’s midfielder Billy Jones. The Shrewsbury-born starlet is out of contract at the end of the season and has snubbed all attempts to keep him at Gresty Road. Crewe boss Dario Gradi is fuming over Jones’ stance. “I always thought that one day, one of our kids could well turn around and say he isn’t signing, but I never expected it to be Billy. I’ve told him that,” said Gradi. “Now it is my job to sell him and get as much money as I can for him.” So it sounds like the boy will be available in the January sales.

Ex-Blues’ News

Nothing Changes: Ever woken up in the middle of the night and wondered “Whatever happened to Steve McManaman?” No? Neither have I actually, but for those who have – rejoice! Macca is back, and is set to sign for Hong Kong League First Division side Hong Kong Rangers, according to reports. McManaman, 34, has been without a club since leaving City in the summer of 2005 and was thought to have retired. The BBC’s football website reports that the elusive Scouser has been working as a TV commentator for ESPN Star in Asia during 2006, and has also been involved in the making of Goal! 2, the sequel to football film Goal! which tracks the progress of a fictional footballer who moves from Newcastle United to Real (thanks Matt Thomas). I can’t wait for that epic to appear… but wait, what’s this? Late news reaches us that McManaman’s comeback has been scuppered by injury! He really hasn’t changed has he? McManaman appeared at a press conference in Hong Kong on Tuesday and was expected to feature in the Senior Challenge Shield showdown with South China on Thursday. “With the injuries I have got, I don’t think I can play. I would have loved to have played in this game. Unfortunately, it can’t happen,” he told the South China Morning Post. He is hoping to make a return to action in some capacity. “Yes, I think so, but not in a professional capacity,” he added. “I played a couple of months ago for the old Liverpool team (against Celtic). That’s something I really enjoyed. Certainly, I will play more games but not in a professional capacity like these young boys. Whether I can play is another thing because you need to do some serious training. It’s nice to be a fan rather than a player.”

Reactions and Comments

Cheap Giveaways: Ho and indeed hum. Despite competing well and creating a number of chances, City still contrived to lose last Saturday’s derby 3-1, after gifting the Reds three somewhat soft goals. Wayne Rooney turned in Cristiano Ronaldo’s cross after five minutes and Louis Saha bundled home a second from a Gabriel Heinze cross on half-time. City lost injured ‘keeper Nicky Weaver, but Hatem Trabelsi pulled one back with a rising drive after 73 minutes. Ronaldo’s late strike sealed the win, before City’s Bernardo Corradi was sent off for diving. “We came and had more chances on goal than probably any team will this season, but we shot ourselves in the foot by giving cheap goals away,” said SP on the club’s website. “We gave them a goal after six minutes, then on the verge of half time I was thinking that on the run of play we would go in one-nil down so I am disappointed that the second goal went in at that point. You have to bear in mind that during the local derby at 2-0, they are booing Saha and Giggs. That probably says something about the run of play, but I told them at half time that if we got a goal at any time in the second half there would be nervous times at Old Trafford. We got ourselves back in the game but then we did not really put pressure on them, because I really thought we could have got something from the game, I really do. At 2-1 I wanted us to really roll our sleeves up and have a tonk at them, but we lost Richards who is a threat at set-pieces and we were not able to generate the momentum we needed after the goal.”

Red Face at O.T.: Sir Fergie could afford to be semi-gracious in victory: “You have to earn the right to win these matches,” insisted the United boss. “Just because you’re at home and are top of the league doesn’t mean you’re just going to turn up and win. You have to earn the right and we did that. It was a typical derby game; there were moments when we should have punished them – we certainly had some fantastic opportunities to do that – and at other times in the game we had to really fight and scrap and Edwin van der Sar made two great saves. We should have put the game to bed in the second half but unfortunately we didn’t take our chances and we could have suffered because of it.”

B.S. Doesn’t Baffle Brains: And so to Barnardo Corradi’s second yellow card of the game, given for the least convincing dive by a forward this season. All the press and TV praised SP for not following the usual line of either (a) defending his player, whatever the evidence, or (b) claiming not to have seen the incident. There was a relatively sanitised version of the following Psycho quote in the Sunday papers, but I rather liked the raw version I heard on Sunday night’s Match of the Day 2. Clearly irked by his forward’s actions, a rattled Pearce said: “I have no complaints about the sending-off. Bernardo went down too easily and I am not like other managers, who would stand here and give you a b*lls**t story about it. I don’t like what he did and I’ll speak to him about it this week. He won’t do it again.”

Subs Rise: The second half saw a couple of noteworthy performances by City subs. Goalie Andreas Isaksson got to make his City début, and pulled off a number of excellent saves, including a particularly fine effort against Wayne Rooney. The Swede came on following an injury to Nicky Weaver, and Isaksson admitted that “It was a bit unexpected. I believe I have never come on during a match before, without knowing it in advance. It’s obvious that it is not ideal to come on at half-time in such a situation but it went quite well today.” The ‘keeper was particularly pleased with his save to deny Wayne Rooney. “I was a bit nervous, after all, it was my début for Manchester City and it was a big match against United,” he added in Expressen. “It was nice to be back, I have been out for a long time. It has been tough. The save on Rooney’s volley was one of the best in my career.” And Stephen Ireland, who took the place of the injured Claudio Reyna at half-time, also performed notably. He put in a number of telling passes, was prepared to get stuck in and was involved in the build up for City’s goal. “Stevie came in and did well on Saturday and now I want to see more of that week-in week-out,” declared SP. “Young players have got to win a manager’s confidence.” SP later revealed that Micah Richards and Nicky Weaver did not pick up serious injuries – he confirmed that both were only suffering dead legs.

Squad News

Ous Out of Favour: Midfielder Ousmane Dabo has admitted he is finding life tough in the Premiership following his summer move from Lazio. “For the time being, I have not had too many chances,” Dabo told “Since I won my place in the heart of the side, I was first suspended for three matches, then I injured my knee. So, I’ve not played since October. It’s been a difficult period to get through. I need to start from scratch to win back my place in the starting line-up. At the moment, the coach is finding the team works well. He doesn’t want to change things round too much. He’s asked me to be patient. So I’m going to have to push myself, but I’m keeping my confidence. When I come back, I’ll be even stronger. I’m determined to get through this.”

Reprieve for Steve: Ben Thatcher is suspended from Sunday’s game with Spurs, so step forward Steven Jordan, who hasn’t made the first team since a couple of disastrous results in October. “I’m always ready for the call,” says Jordan, “I’ve been training hard for the last six or seven weeks since I’ve been out of the team. I’ve been trying hard to get back in the team and hopefully I’ll take the chance with both hands. It’s disappointing not to be in the team, but that’s the way the game is. It’s a squad game these days, and since Ben’s been back in the team he’s played really well so I have no qualms about that. Playing in front of your home fans is what really matters, but I want to show that I can do myself justice and play well. I’ve played in a couple of reserve games, I’m match fit and I’m ready to go. I do go and watch the games but it is frustrating, I try to kick and head every ball. You watch and want the team to do well, it’s a team game and you wish your team mates the best.”

Don Barrie <news(at)>


After the perfomance on Saturday against United, I’d have to say we did very well. Although we were punished for the goals, the overall performance from City was good even with suspect officiating. Some of the ‘blame’ if you can call it that was down to an off day for the partnership of Dunne and Distin, and with all the recent speculation of Distin’s contract, should City be looking at a possible replacement for Distin?

Whether he leaves or not, I still think that we could do with someone else in that defensive rôle alongside Dunne and I think the perfect replacement/addition would be someone who’s just left (the building) a pantomime club, who have had more boardroom wranglings that City have had. Who am I talking about? Stephen ‘Elvis’ Pressley formerly of Hearts, for several reasons: he is a top class player, he is available now and he does have the grit and determination that would please Stuart Pearce and our own style of play. I’ve been witness to his style for a while and he would fit in perfecly with our setup.

I think he would be perfect to fit in with club’s structure and he’s got a good price… free. He’s also good for that link-up play with defence and midfield and also all the way up the other end of the park. Now that with getting SWP back would be a good turn of events for the club.

Gareth Croke <garethcroke(at)>


Sheffield United vs. Aston Villa

As if to make the point I made in my report on Rags vs. City, I watched the Sheffield United vs. Aston Villa game on Monday and thoroughly enjoyed it – a spirited game. However, right at the end Angel clearly elbowed Morgan in the head. No action was taken by the referee, Mark Halsey (who I regard as one of the better referees), but the FA will take no action as Halsey says he saw the incident and decided to take no action.

The FA say they are bound by FIFA rules not to take action where the referee has mentioned the incident in his report. This rule was the one avoided by the FA in the Thatcher incident – I’m sure they only ignored it because it was clear that City weren’t going to challenge them on the legality of their actions. Well done City – maybe.

Honesty cuts two ways – is it any more honest for Pearce only to speak up when he feels the referee has got it right against us and ignore the blatant injustices against us (like Drogba’s goal and Ferdinand kicking Richards in the face)? I think not. In honesty he should have said that he agreed with the referee in the Corradi case but that it was a pity Poll missed the kick in the face by Ferdinand. To only speak when he feels referees are right is no better than Wenger only speaking when he feels referees are wrong.

[Agree David, whilst laudable that Pearce backs the referees the majority of the time, at times he should certainly put MCFC and the team first in the face of such ridiculous decisions – Ed]

David Lewis <dfl(at)>


Just read the article by David Lewis and I couldn’t agree more. Firstly, the irony of one of our players being sent off for diving against United! Has any referee watched a tape of Ronaldo!

Secondly, no action will be taken by the FA against Juan Pablo Angel because it would go against their rules. Are these the same rules they threw out of the window to punish Thatcher even though the club had already handled the issue? Can you imagine Ferguson suspending Ronaldo for even a game for persistent diving?

There are definitely two standards in the Premiership and I bet that the newly-promoted clubs might tell you that there are three.

Andrew Cook <acook(at)>


Perhaps we should be singing: Oh Graham Poll, is on the Rags’ payroll… is on the Rags’ payroll, etc.

Cleaner, nicer and after Furryhands kicked Micah in the box under his chin and no penalty was given (and the so called Sky experts chose to miss this!) worth starting over the 3 card trickster!

It is time for technology to stop the cheating; there is too much money at stake for clubs not to do this.

Rant over. Let’s trust SP to do the job; considering he has his hands tied financially he is doing an excellent job.

C’mon you Blues!

Stephen Bennett <stevieb.3g(at)>


Now that the dust has settled after the game versus the Rags, I have been looking back and thinking “what if Corradi had got a penalty and we had scored”, how would I have felt, knowing that it was a dive? I have to be honest I probably would have jumped out of my seat.

But it does not mean that I, along with the majority of football fans, approve of diving in the box; we would all like to see the end of it.

I think just because players like Drogba and Ronaldo have appeared to have gotten away with it at times, it has encouraged other players to try without first going to the Academy Awards School to know how to do it.

Bernado Corradi was without doubt in my mind thinking only of getting a goal for City, he has been punished, and we must now let him get on with his job for City as a player who always gives 100% in effort.

One of my favourite players for City was Francis Lee, and he certainly knew how to get a penalty, and score with a kick like a mule. I heard him say he just picked a spot at the back of the net and then kicked it as hard as he could; before a ‘keeper could move it was a goal. Yes I cheered my head off when he scored.

Being it is getting close to Christmas, I shall tell you a true story about Franny Lee (trust that he won’t mind). In the old Social Club at Maine Road, Roy Clarke got some players to take part in a Christmas Pantomime for a charity. As Franny Lee was coming on to the stage he tripped and nearly everyone in the audience shouted together as in one voice “Penalty” (no rehearsals needed).

Bernado Corradi you are forgiven by me at least, come back and score!

Come on you Blues beat Spurs!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


I thought I was over it but the festive season has brought it all back into my life. For some people it’s drugs, for others it’s alcohol, even smokers probably smoke more at this time of year due to office parties or stress.

My “habit” had been forgotten about until one day this week my wife took me Christmas shopping in Aberdeen City Centre. My patience was wearing thin as I tip-toed through the mass of shoppers then my wife said “Just one look in here”. As we entered the shopping mall, there was my addiction staring me in the face.

The Calendar stall. I just could not help myself and headed straight to thestall and looked through the football calendars. Sure enough the usualAberdeen, Celtic and Rangers ones were on show, along with ones from Man Ure,Liverpool and Chelsea. Then I found some four City calendars. I bought one,then replaced the display by putting the City ones at the front of the otherPremier League teams. Happy with my “fix” I then continued with my shoppingafter some dirty looks from my wife but a sense of inner pride. Any otherCalendar “Junkies” amongst the readers?

[Not calendars Ian, but I did rearrange a display of clocks on a Lincolnshire market last weekend. The stall owner was a Chelsea fan so he was quite happy with the Rag ones being moved to the back – Ed]

Ian Bell – Aberdeen


I don’t think this has been linked to yet – a big interview with Joey Barton from The Times from last week and a pretty good read.,,3164-2494826.html

Paul Ruffley <paulruffley(at)>


I’m planning to go to the Bolton match whilst I’m in Manchester for Christmas. However, I do not have a Citycard or accesscard. Am I able to simply turn up on the day and buy a ticket (assuming it’s not a sell-out)?

John Walker <john.walker(at)>


13 December 2006

Chelsea               1 - 0  Newcastle United      41,945
Wigan Athletic        0 - 1  Arsenal               15,311

11 December 2006

Sheffield United      2 - 2  Aston Villa           30,957

League table to 13 December 2006 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD Pts
 1 Manchester Utd  17  7  1  1 20  4  7  1  0 18  5 14  2  1  38   9  29  44
 2 Chelsea         17  7  2  0 16  4  5  1  2 11  5 12  3  2  27   9  18  39
 3 Arsenal         17  4  4  0 16  4  4  1  4 11  9  8  5  4  27  13  14  29
 4 Portsmouth      17  6  2  1 16  6  2  2  4  7  8  8  4  5  23  14   9  28
 5 Liverpool       17  7  2  0 18  3  1  2  5  5 12  8  4  5  23  15   8  28
 6 Bolton Wndrs    17  5  1  3 12  7  3  2  3  7  8  8  3  6  19  15   4  27
 7 Reading         17  5  1  2 11  9  3  1  5  8 12  8  2  7  19  21  -2  26
 8 Aston Villa     17  4  3  1 12  7  1  7  1  9 10  5 10  2  21  17   4  25
 9 Tottenham H.    17  7  1  1 17  7  0  3  5  3 14  7  4  6  20  21  -1  25
10 Everton         17  5  2  1 13  5  1  4  4  7 12  6  6  5  20  17   3  24
11 Wigan Athletic  17  3  2  3 10 11  3  2  4 10 11  6  4  7  20  22  -2  22
12 Manchester City 17  4  4  0  7  1  1  1  7  7 19  5  5  7  14  20  -6  20
13 Fulham          17  4  1  3  7  7  1  4  4  9 20  5  5  7  16  27 -11  20
14 Newcastle Utd   17  3  2  3  9  9  2  2  5  6 10  5  4  8  15  19  -4  19
15 Middlesbrough   17  4  2  3  8 10  0  3  5  6 12  4  5  8  14  22  -8  17
16 Sheff. United   17  2  4  3 11 13  2  1  5  2  9  4  5  8  13  22  -9  17
17 Blackburn R.    16  3  2  4 11 12  1  2  4  3  9  4  4  8  14  21  -7  16
18 West Ham United 17  4  1  3  8  8  0  1  8  2 16  4  2 11  10  24 -14  14
19 Charlton Ath.   17  3  2  3  6  7  0  1  8  7 21  3  3 11  13  28 -15  12
20 Watford         16  1  5  2  7  7  0  3  5  3 13  1  8  7  10  20 -10  11

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1285