Newsletter #1506

News tonight on footballing politics and rules, player troubles and match reactions and good news on the season ticket price freeze.

We also have opinion on the international action this week, a happy dressing room and the usual requests.

Finally, as another two clubs this week announce shirt sponsorship deals to benefit local charitable causes, I wonder if the new owners have had any thoughts on the proposals put forward for City to do a similar deal for Christies?

Next Game: Portsmouth, away, 3pm Saturday 14 February 2009


General News

Platini Patrol: I was all for a European legend becoming UEFA Chairman in order to bring some knowledge of football to the admin side of the sport rather than leaving such posts open to busybodies who don’t know what shape the ball is. Michel Platini seemed the perfect appointment: he’s been there, he’s done that and he’s got the medals to prove it and yet the man seems to hate the game. Any chance to propose some wacky idea and the Frenchman is on it, any chance of pushing the game into the future with unproven technology and he’s on it, any chance to slate Manchester City FC on he’s on it. Why is it that no-one made this much fuss when Abramovic bought Chelski? Platini has reportedly now slated our new owners, our transfer policy and ridiculously our Academy: “How one guy can cost £100 million is ridiculous from a social, football and financial point of view. It’s why we have to do something to have transparency and fairness in football. It’s not good for the popularity of football. At Manchester City they can work with young players in Manchester and bring them to the academy so they can find their own Kaka and not have to spend £100 million.” Do you think Platini has ever heard of Shaun Wright Philips? Micah Richards? Stephen Ireland? Joey Barton (for his faults)? Nedum Onuoha? Danny Sturridge? The list of established Premier League and international players that have been brought through Jim Cassell’s academy goes on and yet apparently City must work harder to work with young players in Manchester. For a man who probably didn’t even know there were two teams in Manchester until 1 September, he’s rather critical. The question isn’t to be asked of City’s competence, but quite what Platini has achieved in his two year reign. Oh yes, he renamed the UEFA Cup as it became the Europa League. That is very creative for two years’ hard work you must admit.

The Weather’s not the Only Thing That’s Freezing: City’s Chairman Mr Khaldoon Mulbarek has confirmed that City season ticket prices for the 2009/10 will be frozen and most of those season ticket holders who renew this season will be rewarded with a discount. Ever since taking over the club, Abu Dhabi have stressed that their focus is on the wishes of the fans and following many surveys of current season ticket holders, the club hierarchy have agreed that a ticket price freeze is a just way to let the fans know that they are top of the list when it comes to priorities: “Our season card holders are the cornerstone of this club and, since our arriving at the club, we have listened to their feedback and their concerns on a great range of issues. By pushing back the date for season card renewals we hope to make some small difference to the supporters who follow the team every week We have also sought to respond to fans’ concerns on pricing and hope that the price freezes in some areas and discounts in many areas of the ground will be welcomed.”

Thai-Me to Call It Quits: Ex-Owner Thaksin Shinawatra has been stripped of his Honorary President status following his conviction in his home country of Thailand. Shinawatra, whose UK visa was withdrawn last year following a conviction of corruption and yet still owns a ten per cent stake of MCFC, was made Honorary President last September following the sale of the club to Abu Dhabi. Now the club feels it is inappropriate to be seen to have links with a supposed convict. Personally, I feel that this is a poor example of pick and choose by the club. We’ve always known of the charges against Thaksin and we’ve always known that his conviction was imminent due to the ideological clash in Thailand and yet when we want his money he’s a hero, when he sells us to the richest owners in world football we adore him and yet when he may look like a blot on the profile, the club gets rid.

On a personal level I am not impressed and would like to thank Thaksin for all he did. He may not have bought City for footballing reasons and you may draw many criticisms of the man as a person should you choose to follow the politically influenced Thai media but you have to admit that he has been integral to the position that MCFC currently find themselves in. When Wardle was fighting but struggling to keep the club afloat, Shinawatra bought the club and injected £55 million of his personal wealth in order to avoid following the fate of Leeds United. And when his position became untenable he voluntarily sold the club not to any old bloke with the money to pay him off but he searched hard to find the perfect person to create a legacy at City in the future. Since Joe Mercer the Blues haven’t had a fantastic manager and yet over the last decade our Chairmen have only ever had the best interests of the club at heart. Bernstein, Wardle and Sheikh Mansour, whatever glory comes in the coming years will be thanks to these men and yet even more so to Thaksin Shinawatra so I say thank you to the former Thai PM and I wish him luck in the future. I would be interested to see what fellow fans think about the way Thaksin has been effectively wiped from the records and whether those opinions should be brought to the attention of the club.

Be Serious! Now I’m as big a fan of SWP as any one else, his pace, his skill, his attacking edge have all brought something to City’s season that has been lacking for the last five. But his actions against Stoke City at the weekend were wrong. It’s as simple as that. We know he’s not that sort of player and that’s why we’ll let him off that once but it doesn’t help young refs like myself when you’re telling kids not to kick out at opponents and then the Premier League boys do it. The action I can forgive, but why is it that Hughes is now slating the FA as harsh for handing out a three game ban when SWP is clearly guilty of violent conduct: “They (the FA) will support the referee’s report, so unfortunately we will miss Shaun for the same length of time that Stoke will be without Rory Delap. That does not seem correct in my view, but that’s where we are. There will always be grey areas open to debate, but I just think Shaun’s case should have been judged on its own merits. Shaun has been really hard done by because of the severity of the punishment. It’s a blow because he has been playing really well, he has such a positive impact and his work-rate is such that he always causes a threat to teams. But there is nothing we can do now; we just have to get on with it.”

If SWP had simply apologized for his actions and got on with it, all would be forgotten and yet the boss is acting as if it is right to kick out as he did. We saw it with Beckham in ’98 and if it were either of those so called stars at Stretford Reds then we’d be calling them all the names under the sun. It’s time Hughes took the situation into perspective and rather than blaming officials or the FA, start focusing on finding that elusive away win.

Sparky’s Choice: Due to UEFA Cup regulations that state that a club may only introduce three new players to their European competition squads and only one of them may have already been registered with another squad, Nigel De Jong will miss out on the Blues’ UEFA campaign. De Jong was a part of the Hamburg squad that played a part in the group stages earlier in the tournament and of course Wayne Bridge was apart of Chelsea’s Champions’ League squad. Hughes chose to introduce the England left back to the fold and has in turn had to leave the Dutch midfielder out. Shay Given and Craig Bellamy are both added having not competed in Europe yet this season and the manager has explained his decisions: “There are only so many you are allowed to bring in, so we have had a look at it and Nigel won’t be involved. It will be Craig, Wayne and Shay that we were allowed to add. We looked at Nigel, but with the cover we have in his area with Vincent and also Pablo that’s what we have gone with. We’re hopeful of carrying on in the UEFA Cup, and it would be great to progress further into the latter stages.”

Squad News

Danny’s Deal: With the January transfer window done and dusted, focus on the football side of the season is paramount. Or at least it should be. With Danny Sturridge in the final six months of his contract and a new one yet to be agreed, the young English striker is permitted to look around for a new club without the permission of the club. Aston Villa and Chelsea have both expressed an interest and if the Blues don’t find a compromise soon then the most promising graduate from the Academy since SWP may soon fly the nest. Hughes though seems confident of retaining his services: “We want Daniel to stay, that’s a given. The situation is that he has six months left, his advisors are in an understanding where they are in a position of strength, and we want to do a deal that shows our intent with regard to Daniel. We’re not quite there yet, but we are hopeful. I think there are meetings planned for this week, we hope something can come from that and Daniel can put it all to bed. He’s made three league starts so is still learning his trade, but what he has done when he’s come on is make an impression. That’s what you have to do as a young player, but we see him day-in, day-out and we know his qualities. We want to keep him, but there has to be an understanding from his advisors that there is a level for everybody, I am sure there is a compromise to be made and we’ll get there very soon.”

The Price of Fame: It seems as though the high profile nature of being the world’s richest club has opened the club’s players up to a new realm of vulnerability. After Robinho was questioned by police with regards to a ‘serious sexual assault’, Micah Richards has now been arrested for assault. Reports suggested that the Academy graduate had been involved in a brawl at a club in Manchester and yet no further evidence has been brought forward to support such a claim. As soon as such allegations were brought to the club’s attention, Richards voluntarily met with police to be questioned and the club made a statement that declared both the player and club were cooperating fully with police in order to clear the situation up.

Jo-Chance of Squad Harmony: Brazilian flop Jo has taken a swipe at City following his impressive début for Everton following his loan move to David Moyes’ side. The striker who cost City £19 million in the summer and yet only scored one Premier League goal throughout the opening four months of the season won a penalty for Everton and scored the other two goals in their 3-0 victory at the weekend. And the man who never made his mark at CoMS has put his turn in form down to squad harmony: “It makes a difference going into a settled team full of mates rather than an all-star one of strangers. City are trying to build a team, it is a new project, so it is a lot different than here. The players are still getting to know each other, so it is something that is still building up. But here everything was right from the start, the players made me feel really welcome. I felt at home from the first moment I walked in. The manager has put a lot of trust in me so when I went into the game I felt confident, even though I’d not played in a while.”

Transfer News and Gossip

A Question of Hart: Following the arrival of Newcastle goalie Shay Given, doubt have been raised as to the future of former Shrewsbury goalkeeper Joe Hart. The man who was called up to the England squad to face Spain had been a regular fixture all season for City and yet with a new era comes new talent and the signing of the more experienced Given may lead to the exit of Hart. Harry Redknapp has reportedly made his interest known and despite Spurs only just signing Chelsea number two, Carlo Cudicini, the opportunity to sign such a promising young English talent may be too good for Spurs to pass up. Former City goalie David James gave his opinion on the situation: “It’s not his fault, but Shay Given’s transfer to Manchester City is bad news for the future of English goalkeeping. It is great, for me personally, to see an older ‘keeper making a high-profile move to as ambitious a club as Manchester City. However, it begs the question: what will happen to Joe Hart? I’ve already backed Joe to be a key part of England’s drive for success at the 2010 World Cup and beyond, but if he isn’t getting games in the top flight his future could hang in the balance.”

Given, however, has spoken of how he hopes to help both Hart and also Kasper Schmeichel to become better goalkeepers: “I would like to think I can help the other guys to improve. I was at Blackburn behind Tim Flowers, and I learned an awful lot off him, and I hope that the guys here do as well from me. They will be better goalkeepers in the future and for this club. They are both 21, which is still young, and they could have 20 years left in the game. They both have big futures ahead of them.”

Academy Watch: The Quarter finals of the FA Youth Cup beckon for the Blues’ under 18 squad after their triumph against Newcastle in the fifth round. A 4-2 victory was enough to send the Blues flying into the last eight and to set up a tie with Norwich City, who overcame a tricky tie against Everton. The Quarter Final will take place at CoMS on the third of March at 2pm and Academy Manager has summed up how impressive his side were: “I think we got a bit complacent towards the end, but it was a good learning experience for the lads. On the two occasions we made mistakes, we got punished but overall we would have been very happy to take 4-2 at the start of the game. I thought our play in the first hour was outstanding, I thought we were a class apart and it was only a couple of silly mistakes that allowed them back in. Robbie Mak scoring in the last minute gave it a more realistic score line.”

Post-Match Reaction

Middlesbrough: A fourth consecutive home win helped the Blues maintain their push for a European place and mount a survival bid at the same time. Given the fact that we’ve only won one away game all season and that came in the first month of the season at the Stadium of Light, it’s necessary that CoMS becomes a fortress for the Blues and Bellamy’s goal extended a good run of form. Given’s début was more than satisfactory after three of the best saves of the season and hopefully the club’s form at Eastlands will now provide a foundation on which City can attempt to claim a top six place. Hughes expressed his delight with the Republic of Ireland ‘keeper: “Everybody has seen his quality over a long period of time; we all know he is an outstanding goalkeeper. On a few occasions he showed his experience and was able to get us out of a situation, which we were very grateful for.” And it wasn’t just Given who earned the manager’s praise: “Craig is as sharp as a tack at the moment, he is at the top of his form and free of injuries, so he is a different Craig Bellamy to the one I had at Blackburn. He goes for 90 minutes, asks questions of the back four all the time and creates space for other people. I thought he was outstanding.” Overall Hughes summed up what he thought of the victory against Boro: “We controlled the game for long periods, but they had a number of chances where we needed the quality and expertise of Shay to stop them scoring. Overall I felt we deserved the victory, they made it difficult because they put so many people behind the ball and we had to be patient and try to work some positions.”

International Round-Up

The main headline from the international fixtures will be Manchester City’s 2-0 victory over the World Champions. Granted it may be a little bit of a stretch to claim that Brazil and the Blues are the same team but it was City’s samba boys that were the difference between Brazil and Italy on a chilly night at the Emirates. Robinho’s man of the match performance included an assist for his compatriot Elano and a mazy run to beat three of the world’s best defensive players and finish coolly under pressure.

In Under 21s action Micah Richards came up against City team-mate Felipe Caicedo and though the England Under 21s led 2-0 at one point, an Ecuador XI made up of players with a total of 500 senior caps between them came back to win 3-2, Caicedo rounding up the second half rout for the South Americans.

Craig Bellamy and Ched Evans teamed up for the first time as the new attacking line-up for Wales yet neither made an impression and were both substituted early in the second half. The Republic of Ireland had greater luck and luck was the key word as they overcame a competent Georgia side 2-1. Both Given and Dunne were in international action for the first time since becoming team-mates at club level and though luck did shine on the Irish their excellent defensive display was enough to grab the Republic three more points in their group where they now lie equal top with Italy.

Elsewhere, SWP, Nigel De Jong and Gelson Fernandes played for their respective nations but Vincent Kompany had to pull out of Belgium’s game against Slovenia having sustained a broken toe earlier in the week in training.

Alex Rowen <news(at)>


Having watched City slide by Middlesbrough on Saturday, a few observations were obvious.

  1. Thank heavens for Shay Given! Not to knock Joe Hart as he can’t be blamedfor most of the goals he has conceded but Shay’s ability to make the big saveat a key time in the game made all the difference on Saturday.
  2. Someone please remind Micah Richards that he is playing full back! I don’tknow how many times he went on a walkabout on Saturday and got caught out ofposition. Same thing, to a lesser extent with Bridge. The reason City gotcaught out on those two-men Middlesbrough breaks was because Richards wasconstantly out of position.
  3. When was the last time City scored from a dead ball? City’s midfielders andforwards are a bunch of muppets when it comes to connecting with crosses andcorners and we are totally clueless of free kicks. And finally…
  4. It must beobvious to Hughes and to all City fans that the current team is one-dimensionalin attack. We play all this pretty samba football in midfield but we try towalk the ball into the net through brick wall defences. There is currently noone with size or physical clout to give City an added dimension. Robinho, SWP,Elano and to a degree, Bellamy all play the same style. We need an offensivebalance. Look what happened when Caceido came on in the last six minutes or so.Totally changed our attacking options. Now with SWP out for three games, nowwould be the time to bring Sturridge in or play Caceido more. And finally, it willbe very interesting to see how Jo continues to play at Everton. Watching him onSaturday, he showed all the attributes that Hughes has been looking for. OnlyCity would shell out 18 million quid for the ideal striker, not play him, thenloan him out to a team we are trying to catch for a UEFA spot.

Keith Sharp <keith(at)>


I can’t understand the recent decision by the FA not to ban Chelsea’s Bosingwa for 3 games for kicking Liverpool’s Benayoun in the back out of frustration, yet Sweep is banned for his reaction against Stoke.

People are constantly calling for the refs to be more consistent, but then with the aid of hindsight and video evidence, even the FA can’t make consistent decisions.

I’m not defending Sweep and I understand that any violent conduct will result in a red card. But if this is the case, surely running up to a player who is shielding the ball in the corner and kicking him studs first in the back in front of the linesman must also constitute a ban?

If I were City I would want an explanation from the FA as we are now without one of our best players for the best part on a month.

It also doesn’t help dispel the theory that the top 4 get preferential treatment in such matters.

Mark Ryder <mjryder1(at)>


So Robinho has a bad game (Boro 07/02/09) and the chorus for his imminent departure predictably begins (Glyn Albuquerque, MCIVTA 1505). Oh dear. I don’t know where Glyn watches his football, but for me Robinho is one of the most audacious, witty, cheerful and effective footballers I have seen anywhere, let alone at City. His infectious attitude is precisely the reason why Steven Ireland, SWP etc. are playing so well, and why Bellamy has looked so good since he arrived. Defenders are frightened to death of Robinho, and so even when he’s out of sorts he can put an inch-perfect ball through to Ireland to deliver a goalmouth cross that should have been buried by Bellamy. How different would have been the assessment of the Brazilian’s performance had the ball gone in?

Having lived on a diet of failure for so long, and having watched an inordinate amount of dross, we need to celebrate what we are witnessing now, not ridicule it, and allow our great players the odd poor performance without calling for their heads. That’s so ‘old’ City. These are exciting times, and we should be careful what we wish for.

Paul Mooney <paul.g.mooney(at)>


I saw Brazil/Italy “live” on Spanish TV last night. A great game and the best player on the pitch was Elano.

He scored a really well worked goal with passes between Ronaldinho / Elano / Robinho and a great assist from Robino to allow Elano to dart between the two central defenders and score so deftly against Buffon.

And Robino later scored one of his specials where he mesmerised 3 defenders before hitting a cross shot beyond Buffon. A great and proud moment for any City fan.

The Spanish commentator was surprised at the work rate of Elano as he worked the WRM area to death, both attacking and tracking back on the Italian LB Grasso who was a constant threat going forward. There is no problem now with having SWP out for 3 games as Elano will, with the right encouragement, fill in superbly.

Let’s hope MH does just that and to be fair to MH, the greater fitness/work rate shown by Elano is a product of his training regime.

It could transpire that SGE is in charge of Pompey on Sat next. Anyway, let’s get 3 more points and closer to Everton’s tally.

Patrick Knowles <pjamk(at)>


After watching Spain pass England into submission, it is encouraging to know you can be a great team with a load of midgets.

I know City are a thousand blue moons away from being as good as Spain but as we’re playing without a target man, here’s hoping. It would be good to see City (and England) retain the ball better. Until we learn to stop pumping aimless balls up front we won’t progress as quickly as we like.

Darren Wareing <Darren.Wareing(at)>


Ernie Barrow is a man I respect for his many contributions to MCIVTA down the years and I would just like to comment on some things he said in MCIVTA 1505.

The Jo situation and the concern about having “a happy dressing room with a great team spirit”, are in my opinion entwined. It is no co-incidence that MH has shipped both Ben Haim and Jo out on loan for the rest of the season. As I understand the situation.

Jo and TBH are the very reason the dressing room wasn’t a happy place. In a word they were poison. The problem with Robinho may be more to do with his recent arrest playing on his mind; he is probably getting lots of earache from ‘her indoors, who must be obeyed’ lol.

Anyway for what it’s worth, and it is only my humble opinion, I think that now most of the team are MH signings we will see a far happier ship and a big but gradual improvement in the second half of the season.

CTID, Jack Millington <jack(at)>


Although it’s great news that the club is freezing/lowering season tickets during these tumultuous times, we should really get a refund from the current season ticket price as the VAT reduction occurred as of the 1st December. To my understanding a season ticket is divided across 19 games so from Everton onwards we’re owed some pennies!

So Sheikh baby. Cough up, I’m skint. Great goal by Robinho last night too.

City 2 – Italy 0

Joel Perry <j.perry(at)>


Has anybody got a spare ticket for sale for the Portsmouth game? I have one, but need one more if possible.

If you have a spare, please contact me on 07841 286596.

Paul Burgess <burgepc(at)>


Does anybody out there have the above and would be willing to share with me, and advise how to upload?

Many thanks.

Denis Greer <denisgreer(at)>


League table to 11 February 2009 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  24 10  1  0 25  4  7  4  2 16  6 17  5  2  41  10  31 56
 2 Liverpool       25  7  5  0 19  7  8  4  1 23 10 15  9  1  42  17  25 54
 3 Aston Villa     25  5  6  1 18 12 10  0  3 22 12 15  6  4  40  24  16 51
 4 Chelsea         25  6  5  2 21  7  8  2  2 23  8 14  7  4  44  15  29 49
 5 Arsenal         25  7  3  2 18 11  5  5  3 20 14 12  8  5  38  25  13 44
 6 Everton         25  4  5  4 18 16  7  2  3 16 12 11  7  7  34  28   6 40
 7 Wigan Athletic  25  6  4  3 13 11  3  3  6 13 13  9  7  9  26  24   2 34
 8 West Ham United 25  6  1  6 18 17  3  5  4 13 15  9  6 10  31  32  -1 33
 9 Manchester City 24  8  0  5 28 12  1  4  6 14 20  9  4 11  42  32  10 31
10 Fulham          23  7  3  1 19  9  0  6  6  3 10  7  9  7  22  19   3 30
11 Sunderland      25  5  2  6 15 15  3  4  5 12 18  8  6 11  27  33  -6 30
12 Hull City       25  3  3  6 13 25  4  5  4 18 21  7  8 10  31  46 -15 29
13 Newcastle Utd   25  4  5  3 19 20  2  4  7 14 22  6  9 10  33  42  -9 27
14 Bolton Wndrs    25  4  2  6 11 14  4  1  8 16 23  8  3 14  27  37 -10 27
15 Tottenham H.    25  4  5  4 11  9  2  2  8 15 22  6  7 12  26  31  -5 25
16 Portsmouth      24  4  2  6 16 21  2  4  6  9 20  6  6 12  25  41 -16 24
17 Stoke City      25  6  3  3 13 11  0  3 10  8 29  6  6 13  21  40 -19 24
18 Blackburn R.    24  3  4  6 15 21  2  4  5 12 19  5  8 11  27  40 -13 23
19 Middlesbrough   25  3  5  4 10 15  2  2  9  8 21  5  7 13  18  36 -18 22
20 West Brom A.    25  5  2  6 18 24  1  2  9  6 23  6  4 15  24  47 -23 22

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1506