Newsletter #1438

Don’s news round up brings the latest on the further changes at City with the departure of the Chief Executive, Hughes assembling his coaching team and the transfer rumours gathering pace as the new structure beds in. There is also news on Euro Blues action and the return to football of former Chairman David Bernstein.

We also have opinion on UEFA, managerial commitments and our news editor.

Next Game: tbc


General News

Cook’s Tour of the Future: I had breakfast with City’s new Executive Chairman on Sunday morning. Well, not really, let me clarify. I munched on a bacon roll as Garry Cook gave a long interview to BBC Radio 5’s Sportsweek programme. And Cook’s comments will be littering the News Summary this week. So what goals is he setting for the club? “It is possible to break into the top four,” he said. “I would be very worried if anyone in the football club started to think it was not. We are at a point in time where there are four very strong clubs in English football. But we had a point in time when they thought the four-minute mile could not be broken. What we have to do is develop an investment plan and a strategy to change that.” He clearly wants the fans to get away from their Sven-related protests, and back supporting their club. “There are bridges that need to be built and we have to put some plans together about how you do that,” he continued. “It is not for me to comment about what happened before I or Mark arrived but it made people uncertain and uncertainty makes people think something is wrong. We are moving forward and I want the fans to come with us. After this week, once they see what we have got planned for them, I think they will.”

Bowen Makes His Bow: Mark Hughes is assembling his new coaching team at City, and it bears an uncanny resemblance to his old coaching team at Blackburn. Mark Bowen is his assistant, and his goalkeeping coaches Kevin Hitchcock and Eddie Niedzwiecki are also along for the ride. Bowen commented on the club website: “We’ve got a fantastic opportunity to take this club forward and be the club that all the supporters have craved over the last few years. We’re excited and looking forward to the challenge. First and foremost my excitement comes from playing against Manchester City a number of times in my career and watching from afar when we were at Blackburn – the travelling support and the atmosphere created by the desire that the supporters of this club have got. They must have some desire and passion for the game not to have achieved the trophies they’ve wanted over the years and to still be following the side with the ambition they’ve got.”

Mack Packs Bags: Today’s breaking news: Alistair Mackintosh is leaving his £300,000-a-year job as Chief Executive. The MEN says the 37-year-old’s departure after 12 years at the club was announced by new Executive Chairman Garry Cook at a morning staff meeting. The two men had earlier met to discuss future strategy. A statement is due to be released by the club, but his departure is understood to have been mutual. Liverpool are reportedly interested in Mackintosh should Rick Parry leave Anfield and it is understood that Arsenal have been monitoring his position and that Fulham are also keen for Mackintosh to join them. Executive Chairman Garry Cook said: “I would like to thank Alistair for his decade of service to the club. He took us through a period of great change and progress, particularly the move from Maine Road to our home here at The City of Manchester Stadium. He goes with our very best wishes for the future.”

Europe’s in South Yorks: City’s UEFA Cup meanderings are likely to begin at Barnsley next month. With the COMS unavailable, City had been expected to play their home tie in the First Qualifying Round at Preston’s Deepdale ground, but police objections left City looking for another location. The draw for the first qualifying round will be made on 30 June, with the Blues placed in the Northern section. That means they potentially face opposition from Estonia, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Northern Ireland, Wales or the Republic of Ireland.

Euro 08 Blues’ News: The European Cup of Nations began in Switzerland and Austria last weekend, and there was a smattering of City players in action. Gelson Fernandes has played in both of Switzerland’s games thus far, but it hasn’t been a happy time for the co-hosts, who are already eliminated – they were beaten 1-0 by the Czech Republic in the opening game of the tournament, then Turkey scored a last minute winner against them on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Vedran Corluka played in Croatia’s 1-0 win over Austria at Euro 2008, and was hailed by his national coach Slaven Bilic as ‘the best right back in the world’. He was often to be seen in attacking mode on the night, rampaging down the right wing. Two City players faced each other when Sweden met Greece, with Georgios Samaras trying to score past Andreas Isaksson. The striker, on loan at Celtic recently, was disappointed, because Sweden won 2-0.

Transfer News and Gossip

Jo Ro Joy? During our working Sunday breakfast, Garry Cook updated me (and four million others) on City’s progress in signing a couple of Brazilians. Cook said City were close to finalising terms with Jo, who is expected to cost around £20 million. “I think we will be taking care of that one pretty quickly. It might be within the next seven days, sooner if possible,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live. Cook also confirmed the club had opened talks with Ronaldinho about bringing the Barcelona superstar to Eastlands. “It’s at a tenuous stage and I don’t want to give too much away, but Barcelona gave us clearance to talk to him,” Cook said. “We had some people in Brazil this weekend, who we’ve been talking to, but we have a long, long list of things we need to get done because of the type of player he is – the world’s greatest player. We’re nowhere near completion but the most important thing is that he wants to get back and play football. He wants to show the world he is the greatest player. At the moment, though, we’re just ticking off the boxes. I think the Manchester City fans, who are the most important part of this, would like to see Ronaldinho kicking off next season here.” He added: “He has intimated he is interested, otherwise we wouldn’t be at the stage we are now. Ronaldinho has an interest in coming to City. More importantly the fans would love to see him here. He would fill the stadium.” Cook was an executive at Nike before he joined City and his connections with the American sportswear firm, who sponsor Ronaldinho, could help in negotiations. “I’ve still kept some great relationships there and they’re helping us along the way. I’m still talking to the Nike guys and they’ve been very supportive,” he revealed. Other weekend reports suggested that City would make Ronaldinho the world’s highest-paid footballer if he agrees to join the club – £200,000 a week wages have been mentioned. Ronaldinho’s brother meanwhile has insisted that Chelsea and Milan are also still interested in signing him. “City want him, but there are other clubs still interested,” Robert de Assis said in the Catalan press. “Chelsea wants Ronaldinho and Milan has still not given up on hiring him.” Assis says that he does not expect his brother’s future to be resolved in the near future. “There will be no important news about Ronaldinho in the coming days,” he said. “He wants to be holiday quietly in Porto Alegre [his hometown] and wants to recover well and not rush his recent injury.” And Elano is keen to see his superstar countryman join the Sky Blue hordes. “It would be hugely satisfying for me,” Elano said. “There is interest yes, but only Ronaldinho can decide what is best for him. I can only say that I know Manchester City and they have a great infrastructure and it is a good place to play.”

Andreas Adamant: Andreas Isaksson has said that Mark Hughes’s appointment as manager will not keep him at the club. “I want to leave the club. I said that before, and the arrival of Mark Hughes will make no difference,” said Isaksson. “I will not be fighting for my place or talking to the new manager about changing my mind. Hopefully, I won’t be at the club next season.” I think he’s leaving, then. Media reports in Sweden and England have linked Isaksson with a move to Fulham but he said he had not spoken to any clubs and was focusing strictly on Euro 2008.

Gingering Up the Midfield: Bossman Sparky is planning to hijack Aston Villa’s bid to sign Chelsea midfielder Steve Sidwell and make him his first capture. The Daily Mirror says Hughes has targeted Sidwell as the perfect partner for Stephen Ireland. The former Rovers boss is not alone in his admiration of the £6 million-rated battler, though, and Martin O’Neill plans to make Chelsea an offer if he loses skipper Gareth Barry to Liverpool.

Too Early for Santa? There’s a Blue and Red ding dong about to take place, as City and United fight it out for the signature of Blackburn striker Roque Santa Cruz, who will cost £15 million this summer. The Paraguay international ace has already revealed he is the subject of interest from OT but former Mark Hughes wants to take the 26-year-old to Eastlands with him. Santa Cruz said: “The interest from Manchester United is real but I’m busy now so my representatives will handle anything if there is a concrete offer.”

Pompey Chimes Still Ringing: It sounds like talks are going well between Richard Dunne and the club. The Irish defender’s representative met the new Blues manager on Friday and talks are said to have ‘gone well’. Hughes has made clear that keeping Dunnie is important to him. “There are a number of issues surrounding the current playing squad that need to be resolved and it is one of my priorities,” he declared. “Players who want to stay here will stay here. I am confident about that.” It sounds like Portsmouth are still keen though. Boss Harry Redknapp remains hopeful of bringing him to Fratton Park. “Richard Dunne is a player I like,” he told The News. “I would love to bring him here, and (Portsmouth chief executive) Peter Storrie has been doing the work on it. It does seem to be dragging on a bit at the moment, but hopefully he can meet with him again and see what we can do. Maybe Mark Hughes going there as manager is part of the problem. But I think there’s a bit of a problem with the deal or something, though. We should know where we are going with it in the next couple of days. If we were to get him it would be great. He’s a powerful player and he would make us very strong at the back. We’ll have to see what happens.” (Thanks George Alexander). But if Dunnie does head South for a reunion with Sylvain Distin, there are a couple of likely replacements being considered. Back at Blackburn, Christopher Samba is in the new manager’s sights. Giant French-born Congo centre half Samba was one of Hughes’s most successful buys after he arrived in a knockdown £400,000 deal from Hertha Berlin in the January window last year. Or Hughesy likes the look of Middlesbrough’s German international Robert Huth, despite the injury problems of the player. The Boro star has started just 17 Premier League games since he joined from Chelsea in 2006 and Hughes hopes to land him for £4 million, although Gareth Southgate intends to keep him at the Riverside Stadium. “There’s no pressure now to rush him back, he’ll be fit for the start of pre-season and hopefully we can bring him through at the right speed and he can play a bigger part next year,” said Southgate. “For Robert, it’s important he gets a full pre-season. Obviously we’ve seen this season what an influential player he can be for us so I hope for him and for us he can stay injury free.”

Pod Bursts Out: Lukas Podolski scored both goals for Germany against Poland in their opening Euro 2008 game this week, and apparently City are pushing through a deal for the Bayern Munich striker. The Sunday Mirror says City have made fresh contact with Bayern Munich about the future of Podolski after failing to land him on loan in January. Podolski’s been quoted as saying he may well seek a move away from Bayern once the tournament is over. “I will tackle this subject after the European Championships,” Podolski told Bild. “I will have enough time on holiday to think about my situation and I will make a decision on my future then. I have made it clear to him (new Bayern coach Jurgen Klinsmann) that I am unhappy with my situation in Munich,” he added. “He knows what he has in me. He has even said that he understands my problems. We shall sit down together after the Euro and see what happens.”

Ex-Blues’ News

Cut Your Wages or Leave: Joey Barton, currently incarcerated at Her Majesty’s Pleasure following a Yuletide assault in Liverpool, is faced with two stark options this week. Reports have suggested Barton could be asked to accept half his £60,000-a-week wages, and the other avenue open to him is to leave the Newcastle and look for alternative employment, although just how many managers will be prepared to take a gamble on him, albeit a cut-price one, remains to be seen. Neither the Magpies nor Barton’s agent Willie McKay were commenting on the situation. And lest we forget, he faces another trial this month on a charge of assaulting former team-mate Ousmane Dabo while still playing for City.

Wem-Ber-Lee, Wem-Ber-Lee: We trailed this a few weeks back, but the formal announcement was made today. Former City Chairman David Bernstein is the new chairman of Wembley Stadium. FA chairman Lord Triesman said: “David has vast experience in the business of stadia and throughout his time at Wembley has made an invaluable contribution to the successful delivery and opening of the stadium. On behalf of Wembley and the FA, I’d like to congratulate David and wish him well in his new rôle. The revised board structure reflects the changing needs of the stadium and provides the business with relevant and invaluable experience that will help the stadium fully realise its potential.” Bernstein, a non-executive director since 2003, added: “I am absolutely delighted to be appointed as chairman. As someone who has always been involved in football and live events, Wembley has always been close to my heart and it has been a real honour to be involved in helping the dream of the new national stadium come to fruition.” (thanks George Alexander).

Squad News

No Taking the Michael: Mark Hughes’ is a known disciplinarian, and his reputation will be tested early on by reports suggesting that a stricter regime is required – two of his more influential players are under scrutiny amid the first concerns within the club about the lifestyle of Michael Johnson and Elano. Hughes’s early inquiries have led him to believe there is room for improvement with both players. Johnson, Hughes has learned, has become a familiar face on Manchester’s nightlife scene and, after an impressive breakthrough season under S-GE, it is suggested that everything has started to go to his head. Hughes is also unlikely to be impressed that Johnson apparently believes he should be earning £1 million-plus a year. City reckon a player of 20 should be able to get by on £20,000 a week. And in the case of Elano, there are concerns about his alleged fondness for late nights out. Some of these reports mention that the attitude amongst the players under the previous manager was generally too lax. A source close to the club said: “Everyone liked Sven but some players ignored the rules and got away with it. The players would be told what to wear for games or at the training ground but some of the players wouldn’t follow it. Nothing was done, though – Sven was a bit soft and there was a bit of unhappiness about it behind the scenes.”

Bern Baby Boom: Believe it or not, Bernardo Corradi is still a City player – and he’s on his way back to the COMS. His agent, Matteo Roggi, has confirmed Corradi is returning to City after failing to keep Parma in Serie A last season. “Corradi is going back to Manchester City now that his loan is over,” said Roggi. “But we are looking around to find an arrangement that ensures him the opportunity to play, possibly in Italy, where Siena and Bologna, are interested.” The first day of training will be quite crowded, as Rolando Bianchi is returning after his loan spell at Lazio finished. “Now, I will return to Manchester where I have great desire to prove myself,” Bianchi said. “The fact that Lazio chose not to sign me was the club’s choice to make,” Bianchi said this week. “In January I chose Lazio for lots of reasons, but the main one was the chance to make the deal permanent in June.” One striker who isn’t likely to be around is Paul Dickov. The Daily Star Sunday says the veteran striker will not be offered new terms by Mark Hughes.

Don Barrie <news(at)>


Barnsley!? Barnsley?

I think there’ll be mixed feelings about this. Anyone caught up in the aggro in the concourses at an away game there about ten years ago might not be very happy about Oakwell being picked for the UEFA Cup game. Very nasty.

But I remember a really good away day there too. We got herded from the station straight into a local discotheque, and I don’t mean a club, I mean a discotheque. You could imagine The Hitman & Her being filmed there a decade previous and were made to stay there for about an hour and a half.

The local constabulary must have thought we were gutted not to be given freedom to roam the streets but I quite enjoyed being given a room full of City fans chanting – and also our teeth glowing green like Hallo’ween under the ultra-violet lights that were installed throughout the place. A typically surreal City away day.

Marc Starr <marc.starr(at)>


New song for the UEFA qualifying rounds courtesy of MEN; come on Barnsley!

Blue Suede Shoes / Elvis Presley

Well, it’s frank for the money.
Cook’s in the know.
Hughes to get us ready
Now go Blues go.

But don’t you annoy, our bluesuedeshughes.
We can do anything, cos we’ve got bluesuedeshughes.

We’re gonna knock ya down,
Get in ya face,
Beat any team, with skill and pace.
Do anything that we want to do,
Cos in our dugout is bluesuedeshughes.

But don’t you annoy our bluesuedeshughes.
We can do anything, cos we’ve got bluesuedeshughes.

In our council house, Here we are,
With a pint of singha n’ a pie from the bar!
Do anything that we want to do,
Cos in our dugout is bluesuedeshughes.

But don’t you, annoy our bluesuedeshughes.
We can do anything, cos. we’ve got bluesuedeshughes.

Gareth Rogers <>


Of note for the owner and fans of the best team in the land and all the world.

When our illustrious new 5 year plan manager elects not to buy a house but live in a hotel, then the alarm bells should ring. Sven’s plan: Stick it out for a year then get a big payoff and leg it. Built-up shoes do not buy themselves. A basic point I know. It reminds me of that god-awful footie soap “dream team” that we are still subject to in the USA (thank you BBC America) where everyone seemed to live in a hotel.

I also remember an article in the times a few years back after Sven had left the England post. The gist of the article is that the Shrewd Swede (I like that) makes tons of money from his unique managerial style (i.e. do it for a bit then leg it with a generous package) and owns properties all over Europe from these manouverings.

My old fellah reminded me of this. It’s funny how we are all wise after the event. The Geovanni incident sort of sums it up.

P.S. Where does Mr Hughes live by the way?

Andy Johnson <fastandyj(at)>


Thought that this may be of interest to fellow Blues.

Rich Ellor <richellor(at)>


I’d just like to thank Don for all his dedicated hard work over the last 7 years. I will miss your news round up each week. Good luck to whoever takes over and I’m sure we will all appreciate the consistent news each week in the future.

CTID, Mark Redgrave <Leaguecup1976(at)>


I feel saddened that Don Barrie is leaving McV, it’s almost like losing a very good player or manager.

There is no doubt in my mind that Don could do a better job than some on the Manchester Evening News.

Thanks for all your hard work over the years, and I wish you luck in the future.

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


Owing to changes in my working routine, I am giving up being News Editor of the mighty MCIVTA. This is sad for me, because I still enjoy trying to write something entertaining about City every week (mind you, there’s always plenty of material for entertainment!), but my travelling to and from work has increased significantly in recent times, and it means that I’m bowing to the inevitable. Thanks for reading my ramblings since I began in November ’01, and a big thank you to all those contributors who sent me bits and pieces over that time. And where would I have been without the able stand-ins over that time, especially Sarah. I won’t be going for a few weeks though I hope to end my tenure and hand over the reins at the end of July. Which brings me to the real purpose of this posting…

Do you spend a lot of time reading up all that City news and gossip? Want to have a legit reason for doing it? Then how would you like to be the new News Editor? If you fancy giving this City News reporting lark a go, then drop me an email. If you’re a budding newshound, why not send in a sample of your writing? If you want some guidance on what the job entails, I’m happy to answer any questions you might have, and I’m currently writing some notes on how I put the news together. It’s not a definitive set of rules of course, it just shows how I approach the weekly writing.

If you are interested, can you let me know by June 30, emails to the address below.

Don Barrie <news(at)>


In an effort to raise further funds for Manchester City Babies in Ghana I’m prepared to make the almost ultimate sacrifice.

For sentimental reasons (best known to myself) I purchased the Platt Lane penalty spot at the auction of anything and everything following the closure of my beloved Maine Road. I paid a total of about £50 at the time. I am now prepared to sell it off for any reasonable, but the best offer I get for it. Whatever money I get for the penalty spot will be donated to the Ghana branch of the CSA to support their 3 junior football teams who play under the name of Manchester City Babies.

The penalty spot is currently the centrepiece of my front garden. It will be missed but my satisfaction will be in knowing I’ve raised a few more bob for a good cause. I live in the M27 area of Manchester and would be prepared to deliver it a reasonable distance.

If you live further afield and would like the penalty spot, no probs. I’m in no rush to dig it up and can hang onto it until a mutually convenient time.

I suggest bidding starts at £10 but if somebody can put a nought or whatever to that I’ll be happy.

Alex Channon <alexchannon81(at)>

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Newsletter #1438