Newsletter #1410

News tonight from Sarah with reaction to the Wigan game, squad news and praise for the Academy.

We also have opinion on recent games, news on the Chelsea fixture and the usual requests.

Next up the Madjeski.

Next Game: Saturday 8 March 2008, 3pm, Reading (away)


General News

Sven Struggles…
A) To hide his disappointment
City have yet to beat Latics in the Premier League and never looked like coming close last Saturday with a performance lacking imagination and invention. Their recent home form has been dreadful, they have now gone six league matches without victory at Eastlands. But Eriksson tried to be positive about taking a point against Wigan. “I can’t go into the dressing room and tell the players they didn’t try, they didn’t work, the spirit was not good and things like that because I think it was, until the end of the match,” said the Swede. “I am disappointed with the result but as long as we fight and try, as a manager, you shouldn’t accuse the players of not trying.” City created little in the way of clear-cut chances with Benjani wasting probably their two best opportunities. In the first half a lack of control allowed Wigan’s ‘keeper to block his one-on-one and after the break he fired Darius Vassell’s left-wing cross wide from close range. But the former Portsmouth striker fed on scraps for most of the evening as City struggled to create chances with Elano failing to have an effect up to the 48th minute when he retired injured.
B) To Come Up with a solution One of the reasons the Blues have struggled since the turn of the year is, Eriksson feels, that opposing teams have started to work out how to stifle some of his players, like Elano. “We haven’t been winning for a while now,” he said. “No-one coming to our home ground plays open football any more. They did it in the beginning because they didn’t know us. Elano will not have space or time in that position any more and he had it in the beginning. We have to think about other things.”

Fernandes Frustrated: Meanwhile, Fernandes has spoken of his frustration at the Wigan result: “It’s very difficult to play against if you can’t find a solution. If you score first it becomes a lot easier, but they defended well and they know we like to play, we like to keep the ball so they just waited and defended deep. We just have to keep working against teams like this to find an answer,” Fernandes explained. “The longer you go on without scoring, the more frustrating it gets. Wigan were dangerous on the counter-attack but we were frustrated. We tried hard, I think we played quite well but we are disappointed because we only came away with one point.”

Elano Back: City will be relieved that Elano is now fit after taking a knock against Reading. However, the Blues will be without Bojinov, who is unlikely to be back until after the match against Bolton, and Richards who could miss the rest of the season following a knee op. Also missing this weekend will be Petrov after his red card vs. Everton.

Money No Problem! On a more positive note, the City chief believes that the amount of money he has to spend strengthening the side in the summer will not depend on league position at the end of this season (just as well!). The Blues’ boss stressed that he is not under any added pressure from owner Thaksin Shinawatra to deliver European football in his first season in charge. Eriksson brought in eight new players in the first few weeks after succeeding Stuart Pearce, spending around £38 million. He added three more new faces in January, taking the outlay towards the £50 m mark. The canny Swede is well aware that more cash will have to be splashed out in the summer as he completes his revamp and attempts to close the gap on the `big four’. And there is also the challenge of keeping pace with Tottenham, Everton, Aston Villa and West Ham, who all have similar ambitions to City. However, he is confident that Thaksin (currently back home in Thailand to face fraud charges in an attempt to clear his name and unfreeze £800 million worth of personal assets), will back the planned improvements to the squad. “I don’t think that our league position this season will affect what I have to spend in future,” Eriksson said. “Dr Thaksin’s plans for City to be an even bigger club do not depend on the UEFA Cup next season. It is a three-year project at least. He has never said by what date he wants to have the best team in the world! What is important in the next 10 games is that we follow through what we started earlier in the season and continue to fight right to the end.” If they do miss out on automatic entry to Europe next season, City have to try to make sure they are the Premier League’s Intertoto representatives. But City may yet have to finish sixth to do that, because there is a strong possibility that only one of England’s three automatic UEFA Cup places will be awarded on league position – and that would go to the team who came fifth.

Fabio Keep the Faith: In spite of the new England Manager’s doubts, City’s Joe Hart has insisted there are several goalkeepers of sufficient quality to play for England. Paul Robinson and Scott Carson’s costly errors as England failed to qualify for Euro 2008, saw 37-year-old (ex-City ‘keeper) David James recalled for Capello’s first game in charge. Now critics have questioned whether there is the same pool of talent as in other top European countries, and there has been speculation about whether Spanish-born shot-stopper Manuel Almunia should be brought in when he qualifies for England at the end of the year. However, City youngster Hart, himself tipped for a call-up to the senior squad to face France, believes the criticism is unfair. “I keep reading and hearing we do not have that many top ‘keepers in this country, but I could reel off five or six names,” Hart said “There’s David James, Paul Robinson, Scott Carson, Chris Kirkland and Robert Green, plus Ben Foster to come back and some fine ‘keepers in the Championship who do not get the credit they deserve. I feel English goalkeeping is in decent shape.”

Benjani Ban – Beeb Apology: Manchester City have poured scorn on the suggestion that Benjani could be banned from playing for the Club. The BBC’s late-night Inside Sport programme made the claim that the option of banning Zimbabwean athletes from competing in Britain is being discussed as part of a new strategy to put pressure on Robert Mugabe’s regime. Club spokesman Paul Tyrrell said: “This is the worst type of scare story which shows a lack of editorial integrity from the programme makers and although we are pleased that the BBC have distanced themselves from the claim regarding Benjani, it is important to make the position crystal clear regarding his ability to live and work in the UK. The player last month received a three and half year work permit from the Home Office to play for Manchester City. We have been assured work permits are non-negotiable. The programme makers and the BBC should apologise to the player immediately.”

Under-18s: City’s Under 18 side slipped to their first defeat since the beginning of November last Saturday. Goals from Alex Nimely-Tchuimeni and Robbie Mak were not enough as West Brom belied their lowly place in the Youth Academy Group C table to run out as 4-2 winners. The Academy coaching staff are now deep into preparations for the first leg of the FA Youth Cup semi final away to Sunderland at the Stadium of Light this Thursday (good luck lads!).

Transfer News and Gossip

  • Former Academy and City player Lee Croft (now at Norwich) isreportedly wanted by Sunderland and Reading.
  • 19 year old Kelvin Etuhu, who has featured in the first team this season, iskeen to stay with the club.
  • Former City winger Albert Riera is linked with a return to the Premier League withTottenham.
Acclaim For Academy

FFC (Football Fan Cast) columnist David Mooney is clear where the FA should put their efforts if they want to improve the turnover of English players and feels that many Premier League clubs should look at Manchester City’s academy, as a blueprint for creating home-grown success. Mooney comments: “Just off the top of my head, I can think of 14 (former and current) City players who have all been playing regular first team football around the country, unless they are currently breaking into the side. So, in no particular order, Bradley and Shaun Wright-Phillips, Steven Ireland, Nedum Onuoha, Micah Richards, Michael Johnson, Ched Evans, Danny Sturridge, Ishmael Miller, Willo Flood, Lee Croft, Dixon and Kelvin Etuhu, and Shaleum Logan. And I’m pretty sure there’s more that I have forgotten about.” Comparing Sven to other managers he adds “Sven hasn’t been scared of dropping youngsters into the Man City team. Kelvin Etuhu, while only having made a handful of starts this season, has been most impressive. That Sven isn’t English and yet he is willing to give these youngsters a chance is a point for debate. How come he’s happy to do it? His link to the England team, perhaps? Or maybe it’s the youth aspect he’s trying to develop for the benefit of Manchester City? The work of Jim Cassell with the youngsters at the City of Manchester Stadium has to be admired. While, as a City fan, I wouldn’t want to lose him, surely there could be a position for him (maybe one day a week?) working with other academies in an attempt to improve the standards of the youth players? Better youngsters coming through the ranks equals better English youngsters, which, in turn, equals better English players and, in the end, a better national team.”

Biding Their Thai’m: According to Club owner Thaksin Shinawatra, the three Thai footballers signed by Manchester City cannot get British work visas because of the low ranking of the Thai national team. He said that full back Suree Sukha, centre back Kiatpravut Saiwaew and striker Thirasilp Dangda would have to spend a few years playing in Europe because of British restrictions on work visas. “They have to play on loan to Manchester City alliance teams before playing in England,” Thaksin explained.

Sarah Longshaw <news(at)>


I had a double invite last Thursday. Firstly to the fans’ get-together with the Q&A session with Wardle, Sven, Benjani and Gelson.

Sven was the most lucid, Benjani was monosyllabic and Gelson diffident. Wardle took the plaudits, fair enough in my book.

Sven said he went to Fergie’s office after the derby but the Taggart had bolted to South Africa already. No startling revelations: my chick wanted to ask about Nancy and Ulrikaka but bit her tongue. Benjani said he didn’t oversleep – all put out by the press, Best players per Sven he had managed were Gullit, Mancini, Samaras (sorry a daydream there) and Dunga.

Over to the other invite. I trooped around the other side of the ground and gatecrashed Maurice Lindsay’s table at the dessert course at the friends of Freddie Pye (I bet he knows a few rogues being a scrap metal dealer in Moss Side!) Dinner. Guests included Sir Alex, Mike (Escape to Victory) Summerbee, Wilf (Heslop I read a book once, green it was) McGunness and Fred Eyre as compére. Sir Alex now was on Q&As; it was a tale of Taggart in Govan, grim in the Gorbals and the burning desire to be a manager since he was 23! Best players for price paid were Roy Keane, Dennis Irwin, Peter Bluenose and Ryan Giggs – apparently Taggart values length of service as his main criteria (he would have appreciated Nicky Weaver!). My only disappointment was Sven didn’t stick his head round the door.

I left after Taggart’s Q&A and asked for his scrawl on the way out. “Who do you want it to?” said Alex as he signed, “Sven” I said with a grin. Alex didn’t obliged on the dedication but laughed (or was he choking on his chewing gum?).

A surreal evening indeed.

Simon Moorehead <simonmoorehead(at)>


Sorry, Brian Jenkins, my earlier piece re the defeat versus Everton apparently riled you so much. I guess in your case, the truth really does hurt.

By the way, did you watch the game against Wigan? Not too much more to say, really, is there? Simply awful. I rest my case.

As many others have readily stated, yet another toothless and abject performance from City and, as I have mentioned before, even now we still really don’t have much of a clue in the final third of the pitch. Certainly, we fail to be a threat to most teams, who have now got used to our style of play and are getting the better of us.

Time to take off the rose-coloured glasses, Brian Jenkins, and face the facts: Although improved over last season we are, in reality, just an average side, no better and no worse, however much this may hurt your feelings. At times we play pretty football but, at this level, playing “pretty” simply will not get any club where it wants to be. Certainly not into Europe and, once there, any side needs to be a lot more ruthless than City are capable of being, right now.

You really do need to look at the side in an objective manner, and don’t be so biased, Mr Jenkins. Don’t blame the messenger!

Graham Mills <gkm_5(at)>


I welcome Sven’s attitude of not giving up on the European dream with ten games to go and 30 points available.

Even with some players out of the squad with either suspensions or injury, the squad has the quality to do the job.

City have got to play with a more attacking approach now that we have the strikers to score the goals that might be needed in goal difference for the final position in the league.

Together we must make the final push a success, the prize to be in Europe, bearing in mind that if we make it, the squad can be further strengthened during the summer transfer window.

Come on you Blues, it’s not impossible.

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


A Chelsea fan friend has sent me this from Chelsea’s website:

Chelsea were due to play Man City at Eastlands at 3pm on Saturday 5th April 2008.

“This game has been moved to Sunday 6th April 2008, kick-off 4.00 pm. This match will be postponed should we (CFC) be involved in an FA Cup Semi-Final. However, should we (CFC) not be involved in an FA Cup Semi Final, but in the Champions’ League Quarter Finals on Tuesday 8th April, this match will revert to Saturday 5th April”

Phill Gatenby <Safestanding(at)>


Thanks to Don Price for the explanation on the ‘We’re not really here’ song.

I agree with Don, it’s the most nauseous song ever. I’d almost rather hear United fans singing their drivel than that.

John Nisbet <nisbet1957(at)>


Just thought I would drop a note to say I just got an email to say I won the Endsleigh Man City insurance monthly draw; it was a signed 2007/08 Micah Richards shirt – happy days!

Sean Dent <seancreole(at)>


I have one spare ticket for the Reading game, face value £32. Please email me if you want it.

Thanks, Keith Pryce <keith.pryce(at)>


5 March 2008

Liverpool             4 - 0  West Ham United       42,954

League table to 05 March 2008 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD  Pts
 1 Arsenal         28 12  3  0 32  9  7  5  1 25 12 19  8  1  57  21  36  65
 2 Manchester Utd  28 12  1  1 32  5  8  3  3 26 10 20  4  4  58  15  43  64
 3 Chelsea         27  8  5  0 23  8  9  2  3 19  9 17  7  3  42  17  25  58
 4 Liverpool       28  7  6  1 33 11  7  5  2 17  9 14 11  3  50  20  30  53
 5 Everton         28  9  2  3 27 12  7  3  4 19 12 16  5  7  46  24  22  53
 6 Aston Villa     28  8  2  4 24 17  5  7  2 27 19 13  9  6  51  36  15  48
 7 Blackburn R.    28  6  4  4 17 14  6  5  3 20 20 12  9  7  37  34   3  45
 8 Manchester City 28  9  4  2 21 13  3  5  5 13 18 12  9  7  34  31   3  45
 9 Portsmouth      28  4  7  2 16 10  8  1  6 22 19 12  8  8  38  29   9  44
10 West Ham United 28  5  5  4 16 17  6  2  6 15 14 11  7 10  31  31   0  40
11 Tottenham H.    27  6  2  4 33 22  2  6  7 16 23  8  8 11  49  45   4  32
12 Middlesbrough   28  4  4  6 14 19  3  4  7 11 23  7  8 13  25  42 -17  29
13 Newcastle Utd   28  5  5  5 18 24  2  2  9 12 29  7  7 14  30  53 -23  28
14 Wigan Athletic  28  6  2  5 17 14  1  4 10  9 28  7  6 15  26  42 -16  27
15 Sunderland      28  7  3  3 17 13  0  3 12  9 33  7  6 15  26  46 -20  27
16 Birmingham City 28  4  5  5 19 17  2  3  9 12 24  6  8 14  31  41 -10  26
17 Bolton Wndrs    28  5  4  6 18 15  1  3  9 10 27  6  7 15  28  42 -14  25
18 Reading         28  6  1  7 15 21  1  3 10 17 34  7  4 17  32  55 -23  25
19 Fulham          28  3  5  7 18 26  0  5  8  7 22  3 10 15  25  48 -23  19
20 Derby County    28  1  4  9  8 24  0  3 11  5 33  1  7 20  13  57 -44  10

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1410