Newsletter #1498

Headline-grabbing news for City this week as we are linked with Kaka (not to be confused with the French spelling and pronunciation) for a mind blowing £100 million. Understandably this has provoked plenty of reaction amongst fans, the media and players alike.

Alex’s news round up brings us the latest on the Pompey, Stoke and Copenhagen fixtures together with the transfer summaries, we have opinion on player requirements, games past and present and the usual requests.

Next up, Hughes’ former team mate, but no great mate, Bruce visits with Wigan.

Next Game: Wigan Athletic, home, 3pm Saturday 17 January 2009


General News

Pompey Pitch Puzzler: There’s no post-match reaction this week due to the postponement at Portsmouth and questions have been asked all week about the game that wasn’t. Having a game called off for a frozen pitch due to temperatures of minus seven the night before is understandable if you’re talking about the amateur game. But, in the multi-million pound business that is Premier League football and taking into consideration the amount of money spent by Portsmouth in recent years on transfers, you’d have thought that a few thousand could have gone towards some under-soil heating. It wasn’t until 10.45am on match day that the game was postponed for dangerous conditions and fans that had traveled the night before or early that morning were left disappointed as the cancellation came through on the radio. Quite how a team is allowed to compete in the world’s best league if their games are going to be called off after a cold night is beyond me and Hughes extended his sympathy to the fans: “We are disappointed that the game has not been able to take place today, and we feel particularly for all our loyal fans, the vast majority of whom would have already set off or even arrived in Portsmouth. However, representatives of both clubs, including myself, went out with the referee onto the pitch at 10.00am and it was clear that it was in no fit condition for play, and that it would have been dangerous for both sides to play on.” The FA is now investigating accordingly.

Police State: Never mind retina identification and DNA databases, Stoke City have made the unusual request of asking that all under 17s bring ID with them when visiting the Britannia Stadium at the end of the month. I’ve no definite explanation and can only assume that this is to combat older teenagers attempting to get cheaper tickets by bending the truth with regards to their age but whatever the reason, Stoke City FC have stated that it is essential for entry that all under 17s bring ID with them when visiting the Britannia.

The Usual Suspect: It’s becoming part of my routine now to write up about fixture changes and this week is no different. Due to the UEFA Cup tie with Copenhagen taking place on the Thursday beforehand, Manchester City’s trip to Upton Park has been moved to a 12.30 KO on Sunday March the first. The away tie against Copenhagen has been fixtured for Thursday February 19 for a 7.05 KO. GMT.

Squad News

Reasons or Excuses? I’ve made no secret of my concern as to whether Hughes is the right man to push the club forward but this week the manager claimed that he expects an upturn in fortunes over the second half of the season, blaming the inconsistency of the first half on successive injuries to key members of the squad. It’s fair to say the squad had been weakened over recent months with long term injuries to Valeri Bojinov, Martin Petrov and Nedum Onuoha as well as the notable absence of Michael Johnson and niggles that Mr. Robinho has suffered and yet my worry has been a matter of tactics and motivation, not availability of quality players. If you can beat Hull City 5-1 one week then there’s no way on earth that you should be losing 2-1 the week before to West Brom and this, for me, isn’t a matter of injuries but the manager put his case forward: “You always have injuries during the course of the season because it’s a hard league and there’s a lot of demands on players. To lose the likes of Martin Petrov for such a significant time is a big blow for us because he would have given us a real attacking threat and a variation to what we’ve got. Obviously, Valeri Bojinov was doing well in pre-season and we were very hopeful that he was going to have a real impact this year, but he’s been unavailable. Michael Johnson as well has played very few games and he’s another quality player that’s been unavailable to us. It [the injuries] will have a detriment effect on you unless you have the depth in your squad that would allow their loss to be compensated for. That’s the point I’m trying to emphasise that maybe our strength in depth isn’t as strong as it needs to be so that’s what we’re looking to address.”

Shaun’s Gonna Be All Wright: Fears that the Forest farce had also led to a long term injury of one of the club’s key players have been appeased by manager Mark Hughes after he explained that Shaun Wright Philips won’t be out for as long as first expected. The hamstring injury, which was initially said to leave SWP on the sidelines for 4-6 weeks, has been assessed as much less damaging to the England international who has been one of our top performers since his return form Chelsea in the summer. Having already lost Martin Petrov to a long term injury, Hughes could do with keeping hold of his other wingers: “Shaun is likely to be out for about two to three weeks. It’s a little bit better than we first thought because it was looking like being over a month but the hope is it’ll be two to three weeks.”

A Blow to his Toe: Didi Hamann has fallen foul of that much feared football injury, no, not cruciate ligament damage or fractured skulls but that’s right, you’ve got it, a toe strain! In no other sport is the toe injury such an issue but in football even the manliest men of the game can be brought down in one fell swoop and the German midfielder will find himself on the sidelines for a considerable amount of time as he tries to recuperate: “Didi kicked a ball in training yesterday with the end of a toe, and unfortunately it looks like he may have ruptured a tendon. He will go over to Zurich today to see a surgeon that he has seen with a similar injury before. The feeling is that it is the same thing that has happened before. The best case scenario is that it will be nine weeks, but it could be 12. Obviously it is a blow for Didi; we are a bit light in midfield areas so we could have done without this. Until the surgeon looks at him we can’t say whether we may have better news on it.”

Transfer News and Gossip

Kaka Kraziness: I don’t even know where to start with this one. Just before Abu Dhabi United Itn. took over the club, every big-name who had ever played the sport was linked with a move to Eastlands and yet the Blues never truly expected any of the world’s elite to join. Then Robinho walked through the door. Four months on and here we are again expecting the likes of Bellamy, Parker and Santa Cruz and all of a sudden it turns out MCFC representatives are in Milan discussing the possible transfer of Kaka to Manchester. Rumour had it that City had offered £91 million (a figure that has expanded to £175 million in twenty four hours) but that the Brazilian international had no plans to make the move away from Italy claiming: “I want to grow old at Milan. I have already turned down some important offers. My objective for the future is to become captain of this team. There is a hierarchy here and Paolo Maldini and Massimo Ambrosini are first – but after them.” However, this morning a twist in the tail occurred as Kaka’s personal assistant Diogo Kotscho stated to the Italian press that the transfer was not impossible: “If Manchester City come to an agreement with Milan we will talk to them – but it is not just about money. They have to show us that this is a project that we will be interested in.” With talks of a meeting between Kaka and Sheikh Mansour next Monday, the move is by no means off and could even be completed within the next week should Ac Milan find the Blues’ offer too good to refuse.

No Late Present from Santa: Mark Hughes was dealt a blow last summer when despite his best efforts he failed to prise striker Roque Santa Cruz from his former club Blackburn Rovers. Now, with bottomless pockets Hughes has been able to try again. Yet the approach was knocked back by newly installed manager and once City target Sam Allardyce and the former Bolton boss has claimed it will take a bid that “blows Blackburn out of the water” to allow City any chance to discuss personal terms with the Paraguayan. Though the Blues’ manager has always stood by the fact that he won’t be robbed blind in the transfer window, he is desperate to bring his former colleague to Manchester: “We have made a substantially improved bid but it was rejected. We still want to bring Roque Santa Cruz to the club if we can, but obviously he is Blackburn’s player and at the moment they do not want to deal at the level we have made a bid at. That’s their prerogative. We bid £12 million in the summer, and this was significantly higher.”

Window Round-Up: Despite rumours suggesting that the Blues had re-bid for West Ham pair Craig Bellamy and Scott Parker, the Hammers remain adamant that they will keep hold of their key players despite their own little financial crisis. Whilst one centre back, Tal Ben Haim, seems ready to ship out after only 4 months at the club, with former Boss Sam Allardyce prepared to take him to Blackburn, Nedum Onuoha has rejected suggestions that he too will follow Ben Haim to Lancashire claiming he by no means intends to miss out on a project that can create a side as big as Real Madrid. Both these players alongside Daniel Sturridge have been reported to be involved in a swap deal for Santa Cruz. Michael Owen may have shaken hands on a deal to bring the ever injury hit striker but not until July whilst the newly named richest club in the world are also preparing to spoil the Arsenal party with a bid for Andrei Arshavin whilst also not giving up hope of stealing Kolo Toure away from the Gunners. Meanwhile, the Geordies themselves have their eyes on Brazilian flop Jo who may be available on loan until the end of the season. Pompey are looking at a double bid for Michael Johnson and old boy Benjani yet the expected £6 million bid is not likely to be accepted by the Blues. Finally, a signing that, if it goes through, I would like to lay claim on first hand. Fours years back, I watched an Argentinean striker named Mauro Zarate play in a youth international tournament and run the show. Having experienced Premier League football with Birmingham City last year on loan, Zarate gained a £6 million transfer to Lazio. Now it seems that City’s scouts are after the youngster and if the Blues can successfully sign Zarate, they may in fact acquire one of the world’s most promising talents.

Alex Rowen <news(at)>


Interesting reading all the speculation about who and who might not be coming, at great expense, to entertain us for the rest of the season.

Here’s a name that will cost nothing, give 100% and seems to be totally committed to the cause. I cannot for the life of me understand why we don’t see him every week.

His name is Daniel Sturridge.

Chris Ryder <christopherryd(at)>


I read with utter dismay the report that City were pursuing the signature of Kaka for some ludicrous amount of money. As far as I am concerned, if there is even a hint of truth about the sums of money we were prepared to pay for Kaka to join us, then our Club is really behaving like an idiot.

Not even Messi is worth £100 million, so why we get associated with figures like this I just cannot fathom. What will this do for all our other targets? A few more millions added to the prospective target. One moment we are haggling with West Ham and Blackburn for players, when a couple more million quid would have them on board … senseless. If I were West Ham or Blackburn, I would hold out as long as I could, because they now know what amounts we are prepared to throw away.

If Mark Hughes and his team have a list of possible targets, then I hope they pursue these and not “glamour” names that only make newspaper headlines for the wrong reasons.

We need a big, strong centre half, someone like Brede Hangeland from Fulham – prise him away with a £10 million bid, then get a dogged, quality midfielder (Yaya Toure), but he won’t come till the summer, and maybe Tom Huddlestone. This would allow Micah Richards to play at his favoured right back position.

As for a forward, I would go for Peter Crouch for another £10 million; he is a far better option than Santa Cruz. We need some height and some muscle as we are out muscled too often.

Hughes needs to buy enough quality in this transfer window, to ensure our Premiership survival, then we can look at buying the bigger “stars” in the summer.

Who we are going to play in midfield on Saturday really worries me, as Ireland and SWP are out, Fernandes is a headless chicken, Elano a liability, Garrido plays well in patches. I have a feeling we will go for a back four of Bridge, Dunne, Richards and Zabaleta. With Garrido (Robinho), Kompany, Elano, Fernandes, and Caicedo and Sturridge up front. I for one, would throw Jo into the frame. When is he going to adapt to the English game? Give him as much pitch time as possible, after all Hughes has persisted with Vassell who offers us absolutely nothing at all. If we lose to Wigan, I can see Hughes getting the boot.

Come on City!

Glyn Albuquerque <glynalbuquerque(at)>


As much as we City supporters and fans were all wishing that the delegation sent to Milan in a brave effort to sign the great Kaka would happen, I have to admire Kaka for staying loyal to his club, and not making money his decision maker.

Manchester City have got to take baby steps to become a major team in the Premier League and the world.

MCFC have got to bring in some players that will help City climb back up the league table; a priority in my view is a good attacking midfield player, one who is more forceful a player than Kaka.

Kaka is a beautiful player, but would his skills suit the Premier League? A very expensive gamble to try to bring in Kaka who is without doubt one of the best in the world.

So now we must have patience for there are still two weeks in the transfer window. I still feel that we need at least four more players for the club to succeed; it has not got to be mega stars, just very good players that fit into what I call a jigsaw, and they have to fit into that team.

Sparky has got to get a team that can play together and for one another, he must have the best morale in the dressing room, and a 100% commitment to MCFC by every player who puts on the City shirt, or be off.

So history was almost made in the January transfer window, and who knows, the window is still open?

I can understand MCFC having a price value on each player that they look at, but they must also understand that clubs are not prepared to let stars go at this time of a season, a premium price will be demanded for the best, and as proved by Kaka not even the money will buy some players.

I write this on Wednesday. Together we City supporters and fans await the next move for a new signing; it should come soon.

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <britcityblue(at)>


Wrong Signals

If Manchester City have 100 million quid to spend on Kaka, then surely they have £20 million to spend on Arshevin, £18 million to spend on Santa Cruz, £10 million to spend on Given and £18 million to spend on Bellamy.

The actual real value of these players is irrelevant as long as City are prepared to blow 18 million pounds on Jo. Anyone being asked to sell one of their top players is going to look at the Jo situation and conclude that “these daft beggars will pay anything to get the right player” and will react accordingly. Sorry but the word is out and City will have to pay inflated prices to strengthen the team.

So our Abu Dhabi friends either open up the vaults and grab the players Sparky has identified or they hold on to what they have and try to bring in top names in the summer. But City can’t pretend to be “the world’s wealthiest club” if they don’t buy anybody. I have the feeling that our Arabian friends are quickly going to lose interest in City when they realize that all the money on the planet will not buy the really big players (like Kaka) who just don’t see City as an attractive club.

Keith Sharp – Frustrated in Toronto <keith(at)>


There’s a very thought provoking piece about City’s current predicament and attempts at securing a so called galactico, by James Lawton in the Independent today, access at:

CTID, Peter Birbeck <peter.birbeck(at)>


Bravo Mr Hunt!

I would like to wholeheartedly, 100% agree with, support and commend the comments of Martin Hunt in the last issue regarding ‘Opinion: What is a Manager’. I simply could not agree more with his observations and summary of the very real mess we are now in due to Mr Hughes and Mr Hughes alone.

The regular readers and contributors to this forum will at least know that I have not recently jumped on the bandwagon to slag off Hughes due to a few shaky results. I was against his appointment from day 1 and I have seen nothing since to change my mind whatsoever. And the real truth is that I desperately wanted him to prove me wrong.

My concerns really began after the 3-0 win over Arsenal at the CoMs. I voiced my concerns regarding the ‘long ball’ tactics, players being played out of position, the total and basic lack of tactical awareness and the ‘hard man’, disciplinarian management style he has adopted and brought to the club. It is fair to say I was roundly condemned by a number of other regular contributors to this forum for such comments.

However, the performances, results and the total shambles of a team and football club we now are (yet again!) have since proved me more right than wrong. However, as we all know, we now have no choice: We have to keep Hughes until the end of the season. Allow him to bring in a few mediocre, overpaid substitutes and hopefully avoid relegation. Then simply jettison him and allow an experienced, successful man to take over at the helm. Mr Hughes, his tactics and management style, along with his ‘head in the sand’ mentality are simply not suited to a club such as ours. Let’s admit the mistake, make the necessary changes and simply move on.

Ray Bardsley <rbardsley(at)>


It is good that the MCFC are interested in helping the supporters who went all the way to Portsmouth to find out after they got there that the game had been postponed.

Portsmouth had minus 7°C the night before, but left it to referee Halsey to make the call, after the City fans had left Manchester. All Premier League clubs are responsible for having their pitches ready for every game.

The re-arranged game should have help for supporters from the club, and it’s easy for the club to know who the supporters are who travelled for they still have their game tickets. It will be good relations between the club, and loyal supporters.

When it’s a case of fog blowing in to call off a game, that is more unpredictable, but Portsmouth knew that their pitch was frozen, no excuse, City should have been warned.

Ernie Barrow <britcityblue(at)>


I noticed in MCIVTA Peter Carlisle’s mention of Ian Storey Moore playing for Forest against City and, although I don’t have a definitive answer for you about his broken leg, I do think you may be right about the game on 7/02/1970.

That season ISM made 30 League appearances for Forest and seemed to score regularly in the Forest games played prior to the Maine Road match but after City he did not score again that season. I don’t have line-ups but that suggests to me he missed several games.

In October 1968 he scored for Forest against City and must have appeared in the weeks that followed as he scored on 9th November he couldn’t have played with a broken leg.

In April 1971 he played the day after the City game because he scored for Forest against West Ham.

Anyway, hope this helps.

Gary James <info(at)>


I take this opportunity to enclose details of a match day car park that we have just opened, which is just two minutes walk from the ground. The car park is the former Ciba Geigy car park situated on Ashton New Road and accessed via the HSBC Bank and includes the following:

  • Fully secured
  • Tarmac surfaced car park with allocated spaces
  • 200 metres from the ground
  • Easy access prior to the game
  • Gate will not close if you are late
  • Car park fully attended prior, during and after the game
  • Normal cost £5, half price up to the end of January 2009
  • Run by True Blues!

I will be grateful if you can pass this website ( to the readers of your newsletter.

If people contact me I can send them a voucher via email for the half price parking to end of January.

Please email me or give me a call if you have any queries on 07968 487030.

Many thanks, Ron Prentice <Parking(at)>


Recently some news has slipped out about my latest City book and, although it’s a little too early to order and confirm publication details, it is an appropriate time to give some basic information and seek help from fellow City fans.

The book will be called “City: Heart & Soul” and will be looking at what makes City the Club it is. For years we’ve talked about City as being unique and special. Neutrals have looked at the club and recognised the size of support and the loyalty of fans, but has anyone really, truly considered why those fans have followed the side through thick and thin? Why City evolved in the way it did?

For me City will always be a special club and one that I could talk about for hours, days, weeks but media coverage in recent years has got me to question whether perceptions of City are actually true or not.

I have interviewed many, many people over the course of the last twenty years about the Club and over the last year or so I have been looking back at those interviews, listening to long forgotten tapes, studying my notes and generally trying to get to grips with the heart and soul of the Club.

This book will hopefully help all fans understand why they love the Blues as deeply as they do; will aid the media to get a better feel for the Club; and will help others come to terms with what we’re really about.

My writing and research has reached a stage where I need a bit more info from fellow fans. I would like supporters to provide information to me, care of an email address set up by the publishers, on their views of what makes City City. Some of these comments may be used in the book but, and I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea and definitely don’t want to give anyone false hope; inevitably I won’t be able to use all material. If you send anything to me I promise I will read it but I cannot promise I’ll do anything else with it (please accept apologies in advance!). It will however all help my understanding and will help make the book a better publication.

Anyway, here goes. The questions I am most interested in are:

  • What do you believe makes City the club it is?
  • What do you see is the heart & soul of the club?
  • Which personalities (players, managers, chairmen, supporters etc.) represent thebest of the club or typify Manchester City?
  • How important is the club to your daily life?
  • What moment (game or otherwise) provided you with most enjoyment?
  • What is the saddest or most negative moment you have experienced as a fan?
  • If you were in charge of City for a year what changes would you make and howwould you shape the club?
  • If you could design or select the club’s emblem, colours and so on what wouldyou select?

I would be grateful if responses could be emailed to: <city(at)>. Please include your name and address as I won’t be able to use anything that is anonymous or written under a pseudonym.

Due to the pressures of researching and writing I won’t be able to reply to each email, but rest assured I will value everything sent. Please don’t be offended.

As always, thanks for your support.

Gary James <city(at)>


14 January 2009

Manchester United     1 - 0  Wigan Athletic        73,917

League table to 14 January 2009 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD Pts
 1 Liverpool       21  6  4  0 16  6  7  3  1 19  7 13  7  1  35  13  22 46
 2 Manchester Utd  20  9  1  0 24  4  4  4  2  9  6 13  5  2  33  10  23 44
 3 Chelsea         21  4  4  2 17  6  8  2  1 23  6 12  6  3  40  12  28 42
 4 Aston Villa     21  5  5  1 18 12  7  0  3 17 11 12  5  4  35  23  12 41
 5 Arsenal         21  7  2  2 18 11  4  3  3 16 12 11  5  5  34  23  11 38
 6 Everton         21  3  4  4 14 15  7  1  2 15 10 10  5  6  29  25   4 35
 7 Wigan Athletic  21  6  2  3 12 10  3  2  5 13 12  9  4  8  25  22   3 31
 8 Hull City       21  3  2  5 10 20  4  4  3 18 19  7  6  8  28  39 -11 27
 9 Fulham          19  6  3  1 16  8  0  5  4  2  6  6  8  5  18  14   4 26
10 West Ham United 21  4  1  5 13 15  3  4  4 13 15  7  5  9  26  30  -4 26
11 Newcastle Utd   21  4  4  3 18 19  1  4  5 10 15  5  8  8  28  34  -6 23
12 Bolton Wndrs    21  3  2  5  8 11  4  0  7 14 18  7  2 12  22  29  -7 23
13 Sunderland      21  3  2  5 11 13  3  3  5 11 17  6  5 10  22  30  -8 23
14 Portsmouth      20  4  2  4 14 17  2  3  5  7 16  6  5  9  21  33 -12 23
15 Manchester City 20  5  0  5 24 11  1  4  5 14 19  6  4 10  38  30   8 22
16 Middlesbrough   21  3  4  4 10 15  2  2  6  8 15  5  6 10  18  30 -12 21
17 Stoke City      21  5  3  3 12 11  0  3  7  6 22  5  6 10  18  33 -15 21
18 Tottenham H.    21  3  3  4  7  7  2  2  7 13 19  5  5 11  20  26  -6 20
19 Blackburn R.    20  2  3  5 10 17  2  3  5 12 19  4  6 10  22  36 -14 18
20 West Brom A.    21  4  2  4 13 16  1  1  9  4 21  5  3 13  17  37 -20 18

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1498