Newsletter #1448

Greetings all! Heidi’s indisposed this week, so has left the keys to the magnificent MCIVTA Towers in my untrustworthy hands. Apologies for the tardy delivery by the way – I was hanging on for some searingly insightful quotes from our new manager, following City’s successful march to the UEFA Cup Final in Istanbul next summer. Instead I got the usual managerial guff, but no matter, it’s our managerial guff after all.

Apart from the News Summary, I can offer you lots of views on a certain tubby Brazilian, a request for information on the 70’s TV show ‘Superstars’, an update on the Ghana City shirts appeal – oh and sympathetic word (not) on Luton’s demise.

Next Game: Hamburg SV, away, 4pm Saturday 26 July (pre-season friendly)


General News

Hail Hail the Gan’s All Here: There have been two more appointments to Mark Hughes’ backroom team, and guess what – they’ve worked for the boss before, at Blackburn. Glyn Hodges is to be named reserve team coach and Mike Rigg will be Chief Scout. Hodges is the better known name of the two, having played for Wimbledon, Sheffield United Watford and Wales. He was briefly manager of Barnsley, and was also Wales under-21 boss when Sparky coached the full team. He later became reserve team manager at Blackburn.

Sky High Fixture List: Sky and Setanta have announced which games they are showing live in the early stages of the season. The Vital Football website has helpfully summarised all the City games being shown up to November.
Sky Sports
Sunday August 24 – Man City vs. West Ham United 16:00
Sunday September 28 – Wigan Athletic vs. Man City 16:00
Sunday November 2 – Bolton Wanderers vs. Man City 16:00
Sunday November 16 – Hull City vs. Man City 16:00
Sunday November 30 – Man City vs. Manchester United 13:30
Setanta Sports
Saturday August 16 – Aston Villa vs. Man City (Setanta Ireland only) 15:00
Saturday September 13 – Man City vs. Chelsea 17:30
Saturday October 4 – Man City vs. Liverpool (Setanta Ireland only) 15:00
Monday October 20 – Newcastle vs. Man City 20:00
Saturday November 8 – Man City vs. Tottenham (Setanta Ireland only) 15:00
So as usual, the fixture list put out by the Premier League only a week or two ago is now all chopped up and changed. The first home game of the season against West Ham for instance is now a Sky Super Sunday treat, and the home derby moves to a Sunday lunchtime as well.

A Wardle Award for Shaun: The Evening News this week fleshed out the reasons for his recent departure after an 11 year association with the club. Apparently Wardle was feeling increasingly frustrated at the way the club was being run. There have been only a handful of board meetings since Thaksin bought the club last summer, and Wardle lost a key ally when Alistair Mackintosh took the long walk. Plus the club’s treatment of Sven Goran Eriksson left him feeling dismayed, especially as the Swede had done “everything that was asked of him”. So did Wardle regret selling the club to the former Thai Prime Minister? “I had no choice,” he said. “We had a fantastic fan base, excellent stadium and a good staff but not enough money to invest in players. I really did have a fear that unless something was done in that area we could be relegated. I have had my time, enjoyed myself and I feel it is time to move on. I want to thank all the many people including current staff who have been ringing to thank me. One of the first on the phone was Shaun Wright-Philips who wished me well.” Wardle added: “I can’t stress enough there has not been a fall-out. I hope the club goes on to great things. Regarding the board meetings there was no need to have formal meetings any more. That is the owner’s prerogative.”

Transfer News and Gossip

Ron Runs to Italy: To no one’s great surprise, Ronaldinho has joined AC Milan in a £19 million deal. The Plump One has plumped for the Italian giants, despite him being offered a larger wage packet by City, and despite Barcelona being offered £6 million more for the 28-year-old lard bucket. City certainly made a dashed serious attempt to sign El Gordo, and there were times in the week where the Blues were seen as favourites to snap up the Brazilian maestro. So at the weekend came news that City had bidden £25 million for Ronnie, even going as far as guaranteeing him the No 10 shirt, which would have fitted in with his R10 range with major sponsors, Nike, who would foot some of the bill for bringing him to the Premier League. He and fellow Brazilian Jo were texting each other over the prospect of him joining, and Barça’s president Joan Laporta was saying that City were leading the way. “Ronaldinho and his agent have two interesting proposals and they are leaning more towards the one from Manchester City,” Laporta told Catalunya Radio. “We hope to be able to resolve the situation this week.” But all that speculation came to naught, as the Rossoneri prevailed in the end. And it emerged that perhaps one factor in Ronaldinho’s refusal to come to City was the nature of the contract being offered. According to the Dail Mail: “The deal offered by City stated that if Ronaldinho was fit to play regularly, scored plenty of goals, sold plenty of shirts and helped the club into the top six then he would be paid in full.” Maybe that was too much of an onerous challenge for him. Mark Hughes offered an “Am I bovvered?” kind of a comment, stating, “We have presented our case as well as we possibly could and the fact that we are in there trying to get one of the top players in the world shows our ambition and where we want to go. I don’t know the finer details of the negotiations but the way the Ronaldinho deal was constructed was a little bit different by all accounts to an ordinary deal so my budget would not have been affected as much as people think,” he told the MEN. We might yet see Ronnie at the CoMS this season of course, as Milan are also in this season’s UEFA Cup. You never know.

‘Keepering Tabs: With Andreas Isaksson pushing off to PSV, City are a goalie down, and it seems that Mark Hughes will be looking for a replacement to bolster the squad. City are ready to make their move for Blackburn’s Brad Friedel after being alerted to a £2.5 million proposal from Aston Villa. Yet Rovers chairman John Williams has insisted that the club will do their utmost to keep Friedel at Ewood Park. “There is some interest but Paul Ince’s wish is to start the season with Brad Friedel,” Williams told the Lancashire Evening Telegraph. And City are being linked with Fenerbahce’s Turkey international goalkeeper Volkan Demirel. According to Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, the Blues are said to be considering an £7.9 million offer for the 26-year-old. Demeril had an interesting Euro 2008, as he was sent off in his country’s game with the Czech Republic, incurred a two game ban, then never returned to the starting line up for the rest of the tournament.

It’s the Sama of Love: Georgios Samaras has had his wish fulfilled, and has joined Celtic on a permanent basis. City had to drop their asking price first. Originally the Blues wanted £3 million for the forward, but had to settle for either £2 million or even £1 million, depending on which report you read. Still, Big George was happy enough. “It was my first choice to stay here,” he said on signing. “I didn’t want to stay at Manchester City and the door was closed to other clubs. I never spoke officially or unofficially to any other clubs, my priority was Celtic and I was focused on them. I had a beautiful four months last season. I enjoyed the football and the attitude and mentality of the club is exactly how I think about football – always attacking. And of course, the gaffer, my team-mates and supporters are also positives. Celtic is one of the biggest clubs in Europe, winning trophies and playing in the Champions’ League and that’s also why I’m here.” The 23-year-old made 16 appearances in the Celtic jersey last season, scoring just five goals in the process. He made one substitute appearance for Greece in the European Championships this summer.

Travelling Light: Boss Sparky has confirmed that there will be more new faces arriving at MCFC soon – but won’t say who. “I would imagine there will be a number of changes,” he told the club website, “I can’t say what they will be at this moment in time but, on initial viewings, the make-up of the squad and the cover we have in certain areas seems a little bit light. So, if there are good quality players out there that can improve what we already have in certain areas then we will be in the market for them.” Presumably he thinks that the defence needs strengthening, because this week he’s been linked with a pair of Premiership defenders. According to reports, the City manager is closing in on a £5 million deal for Chelsea’s Israel international centre-back Tal Ben Haim and is said to have been trailing the 26-year-old for a month. And he is expected to launch a £1.6 million bid for West Ham’s Australian captain Lucas Neill. Neill of course played under Hughes at Blackburn before joining West Ham in January last year.

Eidur Down on Brum Deal: Eidur Gudjohnsen’s agent has played down reports linking the Barcelona star with a move to Aston Villa, but his comments have increased speculation of a move to City or West Ham instead. The player’s father and agent, Arnor Gudjohnsen, said: “I have seen some speculation about Eidur and Aston Villa, but I don’t think he was very keen on that,” Gudjohnsen the elder told “I think if he was to return to England he would prefer to go to London or Manchester rather than Birmingham. There are a few clubs interested, but there is nothing serious at the moment. I think he will leave Barcelona and he is keeping his options open at present.” Meanwhile, City are reportedly interested in former Uruguayan International Alvaro Recoba from Serie A champions Inter Milan. 32-year-old Recoba has been at the San Siro since joining from Uruguayan club Nacional in 1997, and has made 176 appearances for the Nerazzurri, but the attacking-midfielder spent last season on loan at Serie A rivals Torino, and is deemed surplus to requirements by new Inter boss Jose Mourinho. If it’s a striker Hughesy’s after, how about chippy Welsh firebrand Craig Bellamy? Bellamy, who became West Ham’s record signing when he joined from Liverpool for £7.5 million, scored 17 goals in 32 games in his time at Blackburn under Hughes. Bellamy also played for the manager with Wales. Last year, Bellamy scored three goals in nine appearances for West Ham in a season blighted by injury.

Ex-Blues’ News

Back to KK? Exackerly: It’s time for a brief ‘Where Are They Now’ round up of former non-playing City types. First I should report something I failed to do a few weeks ago – Fulham have announced the appointment of Alistair Mackintosh as Chief Executive Officer. The 38-year-old you’ll remember left a similar rôle with City last month. And in an unsurprising move, Derek Fazackerley could be set for a return to Newcastle United. Fazackerley was at Kevin Keegan’s side during his first spell as manager at St James’s Park and his tenure at the City of Manchester Stadium. The 56-year-old was also part of the England set-up under Keegan. Fazackerley told the Evening News: “I don’t have anything lined up but I will be looking to get back into the game as soon as possible. The beauty and difficulty of working in football is that you never know what is around the corner. The announcement of my leaving possibly came a little bit late in terms of teams recruiting coaches but I feel I have plenty to offer someone. I worked with three different managers at City and I feel as though I helped some of the young talent that came from the Academy to progress. The likes of Shaun Wright-Phillips, Micah Richards, Michael Johnson and Nedum Onuoha were all a pleasure to work with and I feel I can be happy with the fact I helped improve them. There is always willingness, and sometimes a necessity, to bring young players through at City and that’s one of the reasons it is such a fine club, why I enjoyed my time there immensely and why I will always have a soft spot for it.” Sven Goran Eriksson has signalled his intention to return to Premier League management in the future. After leaving the COMS in the summer, the Mexican FA jumped at the chance to hand Eriksson a route back into football and his brief is to lead Mexico to the 2010 World Cup. It would appear life in the top flight in England captured the Swede’s imagination, as he fancies another crack in the future. “I would absolutely want to manage in England again because it is a great country, a football country,” Eriksson told BBC Radio 5’s Sportsweek programme. “The Premier League is the best in the world today. I will be working out of Europe for the next two years, but I would like to come back.”

Costly No-Show: Sylvain Distin made a costly mistake in not showing up at Joey Barton’s trial for thumping seven bells out of Ousmane Dabo. Even though Barton pleaded guilty, and no witnesses were called, Distin had been summonsed by the Prosecution to appear as a witness – but he failed to do so, and the trial judge imposed a £2,000 fine on the ex-City captain. Judge Mushtaq Khokhar said he had “no doubt” Distin knew he had to attend the hearing. Distin told the judge he did not understand what a summons was because he had never been arrested or appeared before a court. Judge Khokhar said there could have been no misunderstanding when he received the notice from a police officer at his Dorset home. He said: “In my mind there is no doubt Sylvain Distin did know that he had to attend. He chose not to cancel this holiday knowing full well he had a duty to attend. When somebody fails to attend that is treated very seriously indeed.” Richard Jory, defending Distin, said: “He did not realise the full implications of his non-attendance. He is apologetic. There is no issue to the fact that he did not attend.”

Huck He Knows the Way to San Jose: It’s time for a brief ‘Where Are They Now’ round up of former playing City types. As he’s been released by City, Paul Dickov once again must count as an ex-Blue. According to reports, he’s weighing up three offers. As we know, Blackpool (where he spent a chunk of last season) and MLS side Toronto (where he paid a visit to check out the facilities recently) are both interested – and this week, one of his other former clubs is said to be interested. The Daily Star claims that new Leicester City boss Nigel Pearson has given Dickov the chance to return to the Walker’s Stadium. The thirty five year old joined the Foxes back in February 2002, but couldn’t prevent them being relegated from the Premiership. He scored a career-high of 20 goals in the 2002-03 season as Leicester made an immediate return to the top flight, finishing runners-up in Division One behind Portsmouth (God bless you, Wikipedia). One player definitely going across the pond is City’s former headless chicken and winger Darren Huckerby. Huckerby has joined Major League Soccer outfit San Jose Earthquakes. The 32-year-old signed an 18-month contract with an option for a further two years after Championship side Norwich didn’t renew his contract in June. Huckerby’s agent Phil Smith said: “He knew a lot of people at Toronto FC with Carl Robinson, who used to be at Norwich, and Englishman Jon Carver also out there as coach. And the facilities were unbelievable, but he liked the idea of California. It is a new experience with a bunch of people he does not know. It is the right sort of challenge at this moment in his career.” San Jose are without a win in their last five matches and are at the foot of the Western standings. Ben Thatcher has gone on trial – no, not that sort of trial, a footballing one. Ipswich are taking a look at City’s ex-assassin of a left back, after failing to agree terms with Charlton at the end of the season. Boss Jim Magilton told the club site: “Ben is a proven player at the top level and we are well aware of his quality. We are taking the opportunity to look at each other over the next few days and then both Ben and ourselves will make a decision as to whether we want to move things forward.”

Reactions and Comments

Martin and Did Banish Faroes: City made a winning start to the Hughes era as they defeated EB/Streymur 2-0 in the first leg of the UEFA Cup qualifying tie. Martin Petrov opened the scoring after just nine minutes as Michael Johnson stepped over a Darius Vassell cross and the Bulgarian powerfully fired home. Dietmar Hamann then netted a stunning second on 28 minutes as he sent a volley into the top corner with the outside of his foot. Record signing Jo was handed a début and looked lively in the first half, a fact not lost on Mark Hughes. “We created good chances and I was pleased with Jo’s performance,” he said later. “He showed great awareness of players around him, and once he gets to know the players and the way we want to play he will be a big asset to us.” Hughes added: “Petrov was excellent, certainly in the first half. The opposition found it difficult to cope with the quality he has. He got us off on the right foot with that opening goal and pushed us towards a good performance all round. We hope he will be providing a lot of goals this season. He has the ability to go past people, and break through the lines. When you have someone like that with the technical ability to affect the game positively like that, it gives you a lot more options.” Ched Evans made a second half appearance, and Hughes made it clear that his young striker should be staying this season at City. “Ched has been excellent in pre-season and I am glad we have secured him on a long-term contract now,” Hughes added. “He has a big future and that has been demonstrated by the amount of phone calls I have had from Championship managers wanting to get him out on loan. But I think I am going to frustrate a lot of teams at that level because he will not be going anywhere in this transfer window.”
Team: Hart, Onuoha, Richards, Dunne, Ball, Ireland, Hamann (Fernandes 74), Johnson, Petrov, Vassell, Jo (Evans 74). Unused subs: Schmeichel, Corluka, Elano, Benjani, Castillo.

Squad News

Mighty Mike: The word on Michael Johnson is encouraging. He looks set to remain at Eastlands after his representatives held “positive” talks with the club. For a few months there’s been dark talk of Johnson leaving the club, but after meeting new Chief Operating Officer Paul Aldridge, it seems that the 20-year-old is set to stay at City and pen an improved deal. “We have met with the club and made it clear Michael doesn’t want to go anywhere else and they declared that they do not want to sell him so the signs are positive all around,” a spokesman told the MEN.

Evans Above: Striker Ched Evans has signed a three-year contract extension with City through to 2011. The 19-year-old impressed on loan at Championship side Norwich City last season, with 10 goals in 20 starts. “With the new manager here now, I think I’ll get a chance to impress,” said Evans. “I went to Germany and now I’m away with the squad in the Faroe Isles, so that gives me the confidence that he’ll give youth a chance. Another three years takes me up until I’m 22 so it’s good to not have to worry about things for a while.” Evans added: “It’s important to be playing first team football and hopefully I can do that here.”

Don Barrie <News(at)>


Part 1

Before the week is over the saga of Ronaldinho will have come to an end; after weeks of speculation by the media and press a decision by Ronaldinho will be made, as to come to Manchester City where a lucrative offer has been made to tempt him to be a City player, or to go to Milan.

I think that a greater majority of City fans will be happy to see him at City, as long as he has a 100% commitment to the club, and is 100% fit. There is no question that he is a great player and will without doubt be a big boost to MCFC.

If MCFC fail to get his signature then at least the saga of Ronaldinho will be put to bed. I think that we have all heard enough of it but if it has a fruitful ending, we can all say that it was worth it, and that the back room staff led by the new Executive Chairman Garry Cook have been very patient in their efforts.

Part 2

An update as Ronaldinho goes to AC Milan, saying that he was angered by the MCFC plan, which had clauses on his fitness and performances.

We have not lost a player, and we shall not miss him, for we never had him. I think that MCFC were very correct in what they wanted for such a large amount of money, I applaud them for sticking to their guns.

Seeing Ronaldinho on TV being escorted in Milan he looked more like a rap singer than a star football player.

Now let the new manager/coach “Sparky” select his players to build his Manchester City team.

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


So Ronaldinho isn’t coming to City. So who’s really surprised? And who actually believes the media stories which, as far as I can see, claim City offered far more in both transfer fee and wages for the player (never mind all the Nike related payment of wages blah blah) than AC Milan? For me there are only three possible reasons for this:

  1. The papers grabbed figures largely out of the air or with information from‘sources close to’.
  2. The figures came from Barcelona or his agent to try to raise the price as theyrealised the difference between how much he was potentially worth last year andthis.
  3. The worst case scenario. City are still prepared to massively overvalueplayers. Ben Haim £5 million anyone? A player who cost Chelsea nowt and waspretty poor in most of the games he played for them. Thaksin is sticking his oarin where it’s not wanted, i.e. on the playing side. Cook is a businessman first anddoes not understand football (not saying this is true, just possible). Goodquote about ‘the dark days when we were in Division Two’ by the way. Goodresearch because I wasn’t aware he was a City fan then but at least he’s checked.

Hopefully the reasons are based on 1 & 2 and that, whilst it may have been a bit of a vanity project on our chairman’s (or his advisors) part when the initial offer went in, since Hughes was appointed it has, in effect, never been an option, just dying an extremely lingering death. There would have been a few moments of genius, but I watched moments of genius as we slid down into Division 2 and, pragmatically, I’d rather use the money to buy multiple quality players to fill the gaps in the squad and hope some of the youth step up as well. Anyway, the season starts today, commiserations to the trawler hirers, can’t trust this July weather.

Thomas Bodey <tbodey01(at)>


If anyone watched the series Superstars in 1973-1985 and can think of any contestants with an MCFC link, could you please contact me ASAP. I have Colin Bell, Mick Channon, Stan Bowles and Kevin Keegan but if any Superstar boffins can think of any more I’d appreciate them.

Alex <ajpr2007(at)>


How bitter am I? I was there. In the North Stand, as Antic scored from a corner. I sat there in disbelief. That *&$! Pleat skipped across our pitch, and City were condemned to Division 2 for the first time since 1963.

I always felt that one day, there would be ‘payback’, and today there was. Luton will begin their 2008/2009 campaign in the bottom division, 30 points adrift of the rest and, hopefully, condemn them to non league oblivion and possibly, extinction from football altogether.

Oh yes, I do hold a grudge. Next up, Tottenham (1981), Middlesbrough (just don’t like them), United (for just existing).

John Nisbet <nisbet1957(at)>


Further to Sid’s request in the last issue about the people barred from Carrington – how about Joey Barton!

Phill Gatenby <Safestanding(at)>


So how are those intrepid City fans ‘faring’:
Thankfully it looks like ending on a happy note. No mention of how they’ll get back but I guess they don’t care.

Dave Kilroy <dave.kilroy(at)>


City shirts etc. All such items can be shipped out at the same time as the kits. Please send all items of kit etc. to my home address, which is given below. Peter and I thank the generosity all who have already contributed to the Ghana Appeal, especially MCIVTA readers. We appeal further to all good Blues out there to help us reach our target of £2,000.00. All cheques should be made payable to MCCSA and forwarded to me:

Alex Channon
‘Penalty Spot’
81 Milner Street
Manchester M27 4AS

Please mark the cheque or envelope ‘Ghana Appeal’. Items of kit etc. can be sent to the same address. I thank you all in anticipation of your support.

Kind regards to all.

Alex Channon <alexchannon81(at)>


After reading about the Trautmann and the other book All Round Genius about the greatest sportsman ever (last issue), I ordered them off Sniffing around a bit further I found a title for another sporting gem, Fatty Batter by Michael Simkins. Looks like a great read – “How Cricket Saved & Ruined my Life”. Gets 5 stars all round. That’s next on my list. It’s summer, time to get on the beach or back garden for a couple of cold cans and a paperback. Neil Young has an autobiography out an’ all. Anyone read that one?

Andy Johnson <Fastandyj(at)>

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Newsletter #1448