Newsletter #1420

News tonight from Don on transfer rumours from Ronaldinho, Jenas, Valencia and the manager. We also have a look at the Chelsea game and former Blues’ news.

Andy’s view on the recent form and that’s it. Next up Keane’s Black Cats away.

Next Game: Saturday 12 April 2008, 3pm, Sunderland (away)


General News

Benfica Bound? This week we’ve had our first report of another club wanting to take Sven on as manager – surely not an indication that Mr. Eriksson might be wanting to jump ship, I trust? He’s reportedly on Benfica’s shortlist to potentially return for a third spell at the Lisbon club. He had two successful spells at the Stadium of Light between 1982-84 and from 1989-92 during which Benfica claimed three league titles. Eriksson is believed to have been recommended by Benfica playmaker Rui Costa who was a player under him in 1991, although Sir Alex’s underling Carlos Queiroz is another strong candidate. Reports in Lisbon claim Sven would be replaced at City by Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini who is set to leave Italy at the end of the season. Aha! It all makes sense now – Mancini’s lad is playing at the club as a kind of forward scouting party! You heard it here first, folks.

Pontin’s Team Pick Up a Point: City’s youngsters came back from a goal down to claim a point in their Pontin’s League game at the COMS this week. Blackpool took the lead ten minutes before half time, but their lead lasted only 5 minutes. Ian Daly snatched the equaliser just before the break. And despite making some good chances, that was the end of the scoring, despite the introduction of Filippo ‘Spy-for-his dad’ Mancini in the last minute.
Team: Mentel, Carter, Morris, Brown, Robinson, Chantler, Tsiaklis, Ibrahim (Mancini 90), Poole, I.Daly (Redshaw 87), Cunningham (Cieslewicz 65). Unused subs: Johansen, Varga.

Hong Kong Junk on Show: City will play an exhibition match in Hong Kong next month, as part of their end of season tour to Asia. The Premier League team will be joined by Juventus, the former Italian champions, at the event where the Blues will play a South China invitational XI at the Hong Kong Stadium on May 22. Steven Lo Kit-shing, the South China convener, was thrilled to be able to announce the event. He said: “They are both quality sides and they have promised to bring their best players to Hong Kong as their domestic seasons will have ended in early May.”

Transfer News and Gossip

Nearly Nico Again: Before the Chelsea game, Sven revealed that Nicolas Anelka provisionally agreed to join City before Chelsea gazumped the deal in the January transfer window. “It was close,” said the City manager. “Anelka was very high on our list because he’s a great footballer, the complete player in many ways – pace, strength, technique and he scores goals. But then Chelsea came in and it was difficult to compete with them.” Sven then injected a note of honesty. “Unfortunately we have to accept that, for a footballer, if you have the choice between Chelsea and City you will choose Chelsea right now. In a couple of years maybe not, but that’s the way it is right now.”

Milan or Manchester? If you thought the recent reports of City chasing Thierry Henry were ‘incroyable’, then stand by for a second mind-blowing link with a Barcelona player. City have expressed an interest in buying Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho (I kid you not). These reports strengthened once it became known that Roberto de Assis Moreira, his brother and agent, was given the VIP treatment at Eastlands throughout the Chelsea game. There have been less than flattering reports coming out of Spain at the condition (or lack of it) of the Brazilian, and it was thought that AC Milan were prime candidates to take on the mercurial maestro. I’m not sure Sven took the suggested move to Manchester too seriously. When asked for his views on the link, S-GE said: “It was the first time I had heard such a thing, so I really hope it is true. We would be able to find a place in our team for him, I can guarantee that. I will phone the owners. It was a surprise, but if they want to package Ronaldinho for me I would accept him and be very happy. I would be happy to take Kaka at the same time!” Now try and act serious on this rumour, please Sven. Ronaldinho’s agent meanwhile was playing down any thought of such an outlandish move. He’d been at the COMS because “My work is to form relationships within the world of football,” he told Spanish football magazine Don Balon. “It is normal for me to travel to speak with certain people about personal matters when I believe it to be necessary.” He added: “He (Ronaldinho) has a contract until 2010 and I’m not looking for anything.”

Winging In? Wigan winger Luis Antonio Valencia is being linked with a move to the COMS. The Ecuador international has been a big hit since moving to Wigan from Recreativo Huelva, a deal that was made permanent in January. Valencia was in sparkling form again at the weekend as Steve Bruce’s side defeated his former club Birmingham City. And the potato-faced gaffer at the JJB has issued a ‘hands-off’ warning – although it might sound to some that he was trying to up he bid. Bruce told the Evening Post: “I’m sure there will be a lot of interest in Antonio, but I speak for the chairman as well as myself when I say the last thing we want to be doing is selling our better players. Let me tell you, it would take a lot more than £5 million for us to be interested – we paid almost that amount to bring him here.”

Spurs Summer Sale: There are reports that Spurs will be looking to off load six of their playing squad this summer, and City have been linked with two of those potential leavers. Darren Bent is thought to be on his way out, despite finding his goalscoring form again in recent weeks. He’s now scored eight goals this season, prompting Bent to comment, “I’d be happy with double figures, considering I have missed a lot of games through injury.” City have also been linked with Bent’s colleague Jermaine Jenas. Spurs paid £9 million when they signed the 25-year-old from Newcastle, and reports suggest City are willing to pay the Londoners a fee of £12 million to take him to the COMS. And the People on Sunday claimed that Jenas has placed his North London property on the market and has told his Estate Agent that he is not looking to stay in the capital. Reports that he’s looking at a bijou residence in Woodhouse Park have yet to be confirmed.

Cor, Look at Who Wants Corluka: AC Milan are hoping to sign Vedran Corluka in the summer, if Italian reports are to be believed. Milan have been impressed with Corluka’s début season in the Premiership with City and Gazzetta dello Sport are reporting that the Italians will try to tempt boss S-GE into making a quick profit on the player. The Croatian defender has made 36 appearances for City so far this season. Another rumour about an outgoing player – Andreas Isaksson is a target for Trabzonspor. The Turkish club are seeking a new ‘keeper for next season and along with Isaksson, Bolton’s Jussi Jaaskelainen is also on their shortlist. There may be an even quicker departure for Isaksson – Chelsea are suffering from a goalkeeping crisis, what with Peter Cech having his face booted by a team-mate in training this week, and Carlo Cudiccini pulling a hamstring in midweek. The London club may ask the Premier league for permission to make an emergency loan signing, and Isaksson has been mentioned as a possible target.

Serie A Targets: The Daily Mirror claims that City are being encouraged to revive their interest in Roma’s Brazilian winger Amantino Mancini. Mancini is refusing to sign a new contract with the Italian club and Roma know that they must sell him in the summer or run the risk of losing the 27-year-old for nothing in 12 months. Roma are looking to bank £15 million for Mancini. But Sven will offer Roma half of their asking price because of the player’s age, apparently. And how about Inter Milan’s Dejan Stankovic? He has been struggling for form this season at Inter Milan and has played in only half of Inter’s Serie A games this season (15/30). The Serbian midfielder has been used largely on the left hand side, often in tandem with Figo on the right. However, with the recent injury to Figo, the Inter manager Roberto Mancini has decided to start with Luis Jimenez in the hole behind the two strikers and use three more defensive midfielders, thus dropping Stankovic as well.

Ex-Blues’ News

Cooke Sniffs Some Glory: The soccer season began in the USA the other week, and the eyes of the football world was keen to see how LA Galaxy would fare, boasting as they do star player Goldenballs, and with Ruud Gullit as coach. Well the answer is – not very well actually. The Galaxy subsided to a 4-0 thrashing against Colorado Rapids, and the Rapids’ star man was a man well known from his days with City. Step forward Terry Cooke, winger of this parish for two seasons of the Joe Royle era, who scored a goal and made two assists. Cooke, 31, made his MLS début in 2005 following two years with Sheffield Wednesday [thanks Neil Adshead].

Blackmail Charge: Blimey, although we often report misdemeanours by City players and ex-players, I don’t believe we’ve ever covered allegations of blackmail before. Ashley Timms, once the goalkeeper for City’s under-19 team, has been charged with blackmailing an unnamed Premiership player. The BBC reported that Timms, who is thought to be without a club, is accused of demanding £15,000 from the player (who cannot be named). He appeared at Manchester Magistrates’ Court on Saturday charged with making an unwarranted demand for money with menaces between March and April 2008. Timms was granted bail and the case was sent to Manchester Crown Court for a preliminary hearing on 18 April.

After-Match Reactions and Comments

You Know What – You Got Too Much Respect: City remain becalmed in ninth place in the Premiership following Chelsea’s 2-0 win at the COMS last Saturday. Avram Grant’s side were gifted the lead when Richard Dunne diverted Nicolas Anelka’s cross into his own net. City responded by creating a succession of good chances and Carlo Cudicini did well to keep out Martin Petrov’s shot. But Salomon Kalou rounded Joe Hart and slotted home to give Chelsea breathing space, and only two superb Hart saves stopped Anelka adding to their tally. Despite this, it was still an improved showing on last week’s limp display at Birmingham, which Sven acknowledged. “You never like to lose games, of course, but it is easier to accept a defeat like this than it was a week ago,” he said. “We started poorly, and we showed Chelsea too much respect in the first few minutes and allowed them get the chance they took to score. After that we played well, we fought with them and created more chances than they did in the first half. We should have scored, so it was a step forward from last week even though we lost. If we keep that spirit for the next five games, who knows? We could take a lot of points from these last few games. We came out well in the second half, but after keeping the ball well, we lost it and they scored on the counter attack. After that, it was tough, we tried but Chelsea had exactly the game that they wanted so they could sit back and counter attack when they wanted. If we had been as flat as we were a week ago, I really would have been worried about the future but I hope we show the same spirit next Saturday.”

A Win is a Win: Having won the battle of the charismatic managers, crypt keeper Avram Grant was complimentary about his opponent. “We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game against Manchester City, especially against a manager like Sven, who is very clever,” said Grant. “But we won the game and we played well, especially in the second half, so we’re happy. I think we started the game very well. We scored the goal and we had some very good attacks with only the last pass missing. After 15-20 minutes, Manchester City responded well and got back into the game, but second half we were the better team and deserved more goals.” City had plenty of chances to draw level before half-time, but Chelsea were always a threat on the break. “We know how to play football but sometimes we’re not concentrating in defence,” said Grant. “When you speak about attacking football, sometimes that is the price for it. I’m happy that it’s not happened to us many times this season, and in this game also. We played very well in the second half, could easily have scored more goals, and a win is a win.”

Squad News

Ned’s Knacked: The extent of Nedum Onouha’s injury was revealed by Sven at Carrington on Monday. He’ll be out for the rest of the season, and boy – does his injury sound painful. “The shoulder was dislocated and then went back in,” said Eriksson. “It was very painful and there is a wrist problem as well, he is in hospital and we don’t know how he is just yet. It’s a shame because he stood up to Chelsea and had played excellently before then. He is out for the rest of the season, but hopefully he will be okay when we start pre-season,” the Boss continued. “The doctor has told me he will be out for three months. He had surgery today, but I’m told that at this stage it looks good, although he is going to be out for a long time now.”

Don Barrie <news(at)>


I’ve come up with a new word for how when we underachieve. It’s crapitulate. Sort of obvious really.

We play bad and give in too easy. I’m not knocking the boys much, as we’ve had a half decent season. If you look at the results prior to the Munich day massacre (can I say that?) we were going good. After that it was crapitulation city.

I remember reading where someone said “I’d rather lose 1 game 6-0 than 6 games 1-0” maybe doing the double on the Rags brought back the Maine Road gypsy’s curse? Now I’m just rambling.

Now all I have to do is invent a word that combines playing great with winning. Anybody?

Staying Blue.

Andy Johnson <fastandyj(at)>


8 April 2008

West Ham United       0 - 1  Portsmouth            33,629

League table to 09 April 2008 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  33 15  1  1 41  5  9  4  3 29 12 24  5  4  70  17  53  77
 2 Chelsea         33 11  5  0 32 10 11  3  3 26 13 22  8  3  58  23  35  74
 3 Arsenal         33 12  5  0 34 11  8  6  2 29 16 20 11  2  63  27  36  71
 4 Liverpool       33 10  6  1 39 12  7  6  3 18 13 17 12  4  57  25  32  63
 5 Everton         33 10  3  3 29 13  8  3  6 20 14 18  6  9  49  27  22  60
 6 Portsmouth      33  7  7  2 24 12  9  1  7 23 21 16  8  9  47  33  14  56
 7 Aston Villa     33  9  3  5 29 19  5  7  4 27 25 14 10  9  56  44  12  52
 8 Blackburn R.    33  7  6  4 22 17  6  6  4 21 22 13 12  8  43  39   4  51
 9 Manchester City 33 10  4  3 23 16  3  6  7 14 23 13 10 10  37  39  -2  49
10 West Ham United 33  6  5  5 18 19  6  3  8 17 21 12  8 13  35  40  -5  44
11 Tottenham H.    33  8  3  5 44 30  2  7  8 18 26 10 10 13  62  56   6  40
12 Newcastle Utd   33  7  5  5 23 24  3  3 10 17 34 10  8 15  40  58 -18  38
13 Sunderland      33  8  3  5 19 16  2  3 12 13 34 10  6 17  32  50 -18  36
14 Middlesbrough   33  5  5  6 17 21  3  6  8 13 26  8 11 14  30  47 -17  35
15 Wigan Athletic  33  8  3  5 20 14  1  4 12 10 33  9  7 17  30  47 -17  34
16 Reading         33  8  2  7 19 22  1  3 12 18 39  9  5 19  37  61 -24  32
17 Birmingham City 33  5  6  5 23 19  2  3 12 15 32  7  9 17  38  51 -13  30
18 Bolton Wndrs    33  5  5  7 20 18  1  3 12 10 34  6  8 19  30  52 -22  26
19 Fulham          33  4  5  8 20 29  0  7  9 10 27  4 12 17  30  56 -26  24
20 Derby County    33  1  5 10 10 27  0  3 14  6 41  1  8 24  16  68 -52  11

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1420