Newsletter #1508

News tonight from Alex on Euro and international spirit, there’s a distinct Ireland theme running through the happenings, reaction to last weekend’s game and news from the new boys together with yet more transfer links.

We also have opinion on Hughes, the Brazilian connection, international and FA rules and a book review.

After tonight’s Euro action (this going out before the game) we next face a trip to Anfield whilst contending with a dismal away record.

Next Game: Liverpool, away, 3pm Sunday 22 February 2009


General News

Search for Schalke Spirit: It’s no secret that an away win has been hard to come by for City this season and an upturn in fortunes is needed in order for the Blues to compete in the two-legged European knock out rounds. Despite the fact that the Blues haven’t won domestically since an early season thrashing of Sunderland, in Europe the Citizens did gain a 2-0 scalp over German side Schalke 04. Stevie Ireland has claimed that he and his team mates can be a threat to sides all across the continent in the UEFA Cup but to do so they will have to take into every away tie the attitude that they had before their group stage fixture: “For me, Schalke was probably the best game I’ve played and that the team has played. Everything went so well, from the way that we approached the game to the way that we played. From start to finish, it was a proper, complete performance. The team was a tight unit – we played some brilliant football and then took our chances when they came. We need to try and play every game like that in the Premier League as well as Europe. If we can do that on a consistent basis, we can achieve a lot.”

Contract Confusion: Ireland is also the centre of the latest contract talks at the club. The in-form midfielder has outshone all of his team mates so far this term and is set to reap the rewards. The academy graduate, currently earning a reported £26,000 a week may be about to double his wage packet to anything between £50,000 and £60,000. On the other hand, the future of England under-19 striker Danny Sturridge remains uncertain. The club and the player’s representatives have supposedly been in talks ever since Christmas due to the fact that his current contract expires in July and he is free to discuss the possibility of a move away from Eastlands with prospective buyers.

Squad News

A Captain’s Example: Skipper Richard Dunne returned to the fold tonight against Copenhagen following his four match suspension from the Premier League. Having kicked out in retaliation against Amr Zaki in the 1-0 victory over Wigan last month, the City captain has been sat on the sidelines watching the Blues carry on without him. Vincent Kompany has filled in competently as centre back and skipper but will happily return the armband to its true owner. Manager Hughes believes the leadership and experience of Dunne have been missing over recent weeks and could be essential in City’s push for European glory: “We needed leaders at Portsmouth and we didn’t have enough. We work really hard all week to give the players information and an understanding of the game plan but on Saturday that had not been taken on board. If you veer away from what you’re trying to do then on occasions you will be exposed. It is frustrating for everybody – we see good signs then away from home disappoint too many people. It’s got to stop. We have to make sure that we pick ourselves up now.”

Joe is Fabulous: Following Shay Given’s arrival at Eastlands, the future of young England goalkeeper Joe Hart at club level had looked in doubt and as such his attempts at succeeding David James as England number one seemed doomed. England manager Fabio Capello has however given Hart hope for the future by claiming that “It is possible, really possible” that Hart will be called up for national selection despite the fact he will most likely spend the coming months on the bench should Given retain the form he showed on his début against Middlesbrough. With David James coming towards the final years of his career and both Joe Hart and Ben Foster looking like second choice goalies at their clubs, the future of English goalkeeping looks uncertain despite the compliment paid Hart only a month into his tenure as England boss: “Only 38 per cent of the players are English. The pool is reduced. I have had to reinstate a 37-year-old goalkeeper [James] but I have spotted one [Hart] in the under-21s who is very interesting.”

The Elano Show: Brazilian midfielder Elano showed the world exactly what he could do last week when Brazil came to blows with World Champions Italy and has claimed that given a consistent run in the first eleven, he can re-create such form in the Premier League. Despite not playing regular football for the Blues this season, Elano remains an integral part of Dunga’s Brazilian squad and he feels that he can be the player who turns City possible relegation battle into a fight for a European place: “All the problems and difficulties I have sometimes are because I don’t play. I don’t want to cause a problem; I just want to help the manager and the team. Here I felt I played well and contributed and helped the Brazil team. Everyone can see I’m working hard and trying to do my best. I love the English fans.”

Stevie (for) Ireland: Republic of Ireland manager Giovani Trappatoni has once again pleaded with City’s academy graduate Stephen Ireland to re-join his compatriots on the international scene. Stevie hasn’t played for Ireland ever since knocking back a call up after ‘Nana-gate’ yet has been in the best form of his City career this season. Trappatoni has warned it won’t be a matter of Ireland making himself available once the Irish qualify for the 2010 World Cup as he must prove his willingness to play for his country in the less high profile qualifying matches: “Obviously if we qualify with this group, he cannot say at the last minute ‘I am available’, he can’t make himself available. Not for him, but out of respect for the others. He has to show his Irishness and his willingness to play for Ireland. We have already discussed about Ireland, we wait. When he decides, maybe, he wishes to come back then we’ll take him into consideration.”

Given a Second Chance: Shay Given’s £8 million move to Eastlands has once again provided the Irishman with the chance to compete in Europe. The goalkeeper has competed in the UEFA Cup before when at St James’ Park and has fond memories of the continental competition. Given has also stated that Europe can provide City with an aim to chase until the end of the season: “There are some huge teams both in terms of ability and history still left in this year’s UEFA Cup and though some people view it as a poor relation to the Champions’ League it still takes some winning, and particularly so this season. It is a great trophy in terms of kudos for any team to win and I am sure all the teams left in it are as desperate to win as we are. There is definitely a different feeling playing in Europe, it is hard to define but there is a special atmosphere surrounding match nights. I have some great memories of European nights at Newcastle and I hope to have some more here this season. It is just nice to be back in Europe again and it is great to be in with a chance of winning a trophy. Who knows which team’s name is on the cup. It could be ours.”

Boj’ Boost: Though the Blues’ Bulgarian contingent has been silenced this season by injury, former Juventus striker Valeri Bojinov seems to be on the cusp of return. Having spent almost all of last season out with knee ligament damage, lightening struck twice as Boj’ injured his Achilles at the start of the season following an impressive pre-season friendly against AC Milan. Bojinov took part in 65 minutes’ worth of reserve action on Tuesday night and it is hoped that in the coming weeks Bojinov will be fit enough to sure up City’s strike options going into the home stretch of the season.

Transfer News and Gossip

Micah Richards: Aston Villa’s impressive rise into the top four has been based on a squad of experienced internationals and quality Englishmen. Current manager Martin O’Neill seems to have created a transfer policy of “English first” in order to both aid the international side and prepare for Premier League initiatives restricting the number of foreign players allowed in a starting eleven. Out of form Micah Richards may be the next player on his list and for a proposed £8 million, the capture of the England right back’s signature would be a snip for Villa but may not be a move favoured by the new City owners given the popularity of Micah amongst the City fans.

John Terry: It was revealed this week that the newly labelled ‘Richest club in the World’ made enquiries in the January transfer window as to the availability of England skipper John Terry. Advances towards the centre-back were swiftly rejected by the former Premier League Champions though due to the recent upheaval of management at Stamford Bridge and the current financial climate, a bid of £20 million may just cause Roman Abramovic to think twice. Terry has, however, expressed his intention to see out the remainder of his career in London: “I have always said that I want to end my career at the club that I love and we all see no reason why that cannot happen. Given recent events I am more determined than ever to make Chelsea successful again.”

Neymar: Though City’s Academy has always been the bedrock of the club, the recent influx of finance has provided the Blues with a chance to widen the scope of players they bring to the club. 17 year old Neymar of Santos has become one of Brazil’s greatest prospects, having been dubbed “the next Robinho”. With Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool having all scouted the young playmaker, his calibre remains undoubted. Yet it could come down to a clash of the Manchester clubs as both City and United involve themselves in a scrap for Neymar’s services.

Samuel Eto’o: The Cameroonian striker who was declared ‘surplus to requirements’ by Barcelona manger Pep Guardiola at the start of the season may be on his way out of the Nou Camp. Spanish press reported that Eto’o had told the club that this would be in his last season with the Spanish side and instructed his agent to look elsewhere. Though Barcelona are yet to accept an official transfer request from the player, it is thought they would be happy to accept a bid in the region of £20 million, leaving City in pole position though Liverpool and Arsenal are both also said to be interested.

Post Match Reaction

Portsmouth: Hopes had been high prior to the Portsmouth game that our poor run of away form was set to end. Pompey were managerless, had sold off two of their prize assets in the transfer window and had gone nine games without a victory. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be as the Blues once again succumbed to a defeat on the road. Portsmouth made all the early running with David Nugent missing various chances when on goal and when the Blues asserted some authority on the game, Robinho and Bellamy shot wide. Though the majority of post-match criticism surrounded fellow countrymen Elano and Robinho, who had starred for Brazil in midweek, Hughes rightly noted that it would be unfair to lay the blame solely at their feet and that team performance overall must improve before the Blues can look up the table: “Today’s performance was not anywhere near the level we needed to be,” he said. “You have got to roll your sleeves up when you come to places like this to battle, and on occasions we were lacking in that respect. You have got to be strong and stand up to the challenge, but we allowed them to take the initiative. You will concede goals as a result of that, and this is the hardest league in the world. At times we forget that, certainly away from home. Other teams will not allow you to play, not allow your technically gifted players to have an influence on the game. You have to find another way, get a performance from within and take something from every performance. Today was a performance where some players did not perform to their capabilities, and that is a frustration for everybody.”

Alex Rowen <news(at)>


I have been calling for Mark Hughes to be sacked as manager from before we met Portsmouth the first time this season, so few of my views will come as any surprise to those who steadfastly refuse to face reality and look at what is happening to our team. In the face of one-dimensional, inflexible tactics, appalling, match-losing substitutions, the dramatic loss of form and desire of good and great players and a manager who likes to blame players, ex-managers, and anyone else except himself, the one thing that all the Hughes supporters have clung to has been that he inherited a poor group of players and “let’s just see what happens when he gets his own players in”.

Well, here we are. On Saturday against Portsmouth, seven of the starting eleven were Hughes’ players (although, I’ll be fair to Hughes and say six, as no-one in their right mind believes Hughes had anything to do with the signing of Robinho) and the other four (Ireland, Elano, Logan and Onuoha) were not the worst players on the day. Now, I do believe that one thing MH is good at, is recognising a good player, as all of the players he has signed are good or great players who have shown their ability in the past (perhaps instead of sacking him, we could move Hughes to the position of scout?). Note that I say “the past”. If you look at Bridge’s performances since he came, then you could be forgiven, if you were Ball or Garrido, for wondering what exactly you had done wrong. Robinho looks like a player who desperately wants to leave. Zabaleta started the season brilliantly, but apart from a brief spurt when moved into midfield, his form has declined alarmingly. All our defenders now go AWOL at any set piece, or when a through ball is played. I could go on and on… but the point is that he is now having a negative impact on the players he has brought in, so blaming the players he inherited is no longer an argument he can use.

Hughes has lost the only remaining argument in favour of him remaining as manager. Consider also that both Elano and Robinho starred and scored in a Brazil win over Italy only a few days before the Portsmouth game, and that Jo is feeling happy and relieved to be playing for Everton where he scores twice and instantly makes an impact in the position we are weakest in, and it really does seem that we are on the road to nowhere. Only Alan Ball has ever made me feel so fatalistic about our team’s prospects and when you consider that our next few games include Liverpool, West Ham and Chelsea away and Aston Villa at home, then it makes you realise that if we continue as we are, by mid-March we will be out of the UEFA Cup and back deep in the relegation zone. Please, Mark Hughes supporters, tell me how it will be otherwise. Maybe there is one last card up his sleeve, something else that he can do that will change our season – but can you tell me what it is?

Steve Burrows – the Tblisi Tearaway <stevieburrows(at)>


A coach can only do so much on the training paddock. He doesn’t teach giving the ball away to the opposition, doesn’t coach not finding one of our own players with a pass, he doesn’t coach having a shot at goal and hitting the corner flag. When the players get on the park it’s up to them to perform.

Now I question Mark Hughes’ tactics at times, but I fear sacking him and starting again is a backward step (I think a lot of histrionics about Hughes is more because of his United connections than his coaching ability).

No player is above the game; if Robinho and Elano want to throw the toys out of the cot over Hughes, then they have to take the consequences. A change of manager to me is not the answer, most of the managers available have been sacked from time to time so it is basically a merry-go-round, but a change of player is. Drop the under-achieving players, play Robinho, Elano, Bridge, Richards in the reserves and see how they like that. Robinho playing in the reserves, now that’s a mouth-watering thought. The papers would love it!

If Robinho leaves, life goes on. Colin Bell, Francis Lee, Asa Hartford, Mike Doyle, Alan Oakes, Mike Summerbee, Neil Young all retired, Ali B, Kevin Horlock, Shaun Goater, Nicky Weaver left, life goes on. The club will still be alive after Robinho and Elano leave.

We’ve missed Petrov, and I still think Boz has the makings of a decent striker, so life’s not that bad. To me, players that moan and move on if they can’t have their own way aren’t worth worrying about. Worry about players that want to play for City and not just for the money, and that brings me to the main problem, money!

Is being the ‘so-called-rich-club’ really worth it? I leave that for you to answer. And yes, I’ll probably still get up 3am and watch that same old rubbish again! Oh, it’s a curse.

Kevin Williamson <scribbs(at)>


Here’s another one crawling out of the woodwork:

Platini has decided that enough is enough! When Manchester City are outbidding his favourite teams, something has to change! It’s time for salary caps! But how to do this without hampering the traditional big players hmm. <drums fingers, strokes chin…>

Wait! How about “[limiting] salary and transfer fees combined *to an as yetundecided percentage of [the club’s] direct and indirect sporting revenue*”Brilliant! That closes the loop:

  1. Only the clubs with “history” have the kind of global fan base that gives them a huge revenue.
  2. If Mr Platini gets his way then only a percentage of revenue earned this way can be spent on transfers, salaries etc.
  3. Only the clubs that can spend this kind of money can get the silverware.
  4. Hence, only the clubs with “history” can get the silverware.
  5. And of course, only the clubs that win the silverware can generate “history”.

That would lock the situation in so that those clubs (e.g. the Italian ones that were sponsored by wealthy businessmen in the 80s and 90s and became phenomenally successful as a result, acquiring the history that gets you the fan base that brings in the dough that brings in the cups) would be the only clubs who would ever win much ever again.

Of course it’s a moral question for Platini. As he puts it: “During this year’s festive season, one club which had suddenly become very rich made various astronomical bids in the transfer market.” Platini added “There was a tremendous outcry in the football family, people called it outrageous and scandalous.”

This comes from a man who went to ply his trade in Italy when the Italian league were the biggest payers of the day. That doesn’t mean that he is not earnest. He may have seen (after picking up what was an outrageous salary in the eighties) that that way madness lies. But he has some nerve cracking open the “moral” talk. It was outrageous when Italian clubs, bankrolled by wealthy businessmen who seemed uninterested in turning a profit could tempt Platini from his native land with the promise of untold riches. It’s too late for Platini to cry foul and not be a hypocrite.

Platini goes on: “Is it morally acceptable to offer such sums of money for a single player?”

Don’t be fooled! If you read closely, it’s clear that Mr Platini thinks it is morally acceptable, but only if you make mega-bucks selling kit replicas in Asia. Remember, Platini’s plan isn’t to outlaw these foul, disgusting, outrageous and sinful transfer fees: It is simply to make sure that only certain clubs are allowed to pay them.

He does, of course make another point: If he doesn’t take such measures, clubs could “financially implode”. There’s a credit crunch and overly leveraged clubs everywhere are at risk of going under. Hence Platini has to do something. His solution, then, is to stop people like Sheikh Mansour investing real wealth (as opposed to paper credit) into the game i.e. the plan is to stop our leader from saving clubs like Valencia from extinction by buying a prized asset like Villa at an inflated rate payable immediately. The plan is also to stop our leader from giving other clubs the means to save themselves and others in turn. Platini’s idea of stopping the investment of real wealth into the game, then, makes sense, except that it is the stupidest idea ever.

Maybe he is worried about rich benefactors signing clubs up to fees they cannot pay and then taking a walk. Fair enough. But then the solution is to make benefactors into guarantors, not to stop them from investing real wealth. Maybe he is worried that some apparently rich benefactors actually hold nothing but a handful of rotten credit. Fair enough again. But then he has chosen his examples unwisely. He needs to target his comments at the Italian clubs whose chickens have lately come home and at our dear cross town rivals who are hundreds of millions in debt after the Glazers passed United the bill they ran up buying the club! Sheikh Mansour comes to the game with real money in his hand. The money he offered Milan was money he owned, not money he owed.

Clearly, then, Platini is afflicted with the kind of economic ignorance that’s bound to foil his own misdirected schemes. Think about it. Rich benefactors can set up dummy companies that sponsor the club shirt for a fee of 100 million a year. And others that buy millions of kit options for 200 quid apiece, to be manufactured and delivered when and only when the dummy company can sell them at a profit (probably never, but they only bought options). And the megabucks owner can ask his zillionaire friends to make deals with the club that are, by anyone’s yardstick, ridiculously favourable to the club (he promises to return the favour, and his friends trust him implicitly). There are a billion and one ways for wealthy benefactors to craftily enhance the club’s “indirect sporting revenue”. And if Sheikh Mansour is above these technically fair but slightly devious schemes, you can be sure Silvio Berlusconi isn’t. So Platini’s rules would at best introduce a practice of laundering gift money into “direct or indirect sporting revenue”, taking the advantage away from the wealthy clubs and giving it to those clubs that are wealthy and financially devious to boot.

Bernard Molyneux <molyneux(at)>


Well, after reading this and the City blogs, everyone feels like I do, particularly as the second goal went in at Portsmouth.

My son Matthew rang me at that precise point and I said “It’s alright for you, I have to watch this”. (Gol.Tv is a new set up in Spain and City are their favourite).

We all had great expectations after Boro, Brazil/Italy, possibly catching Everton and some press stuff. And all we got was another Stoke-like performance.

There can be no doubt whatsoever that MH and his staff are out of their depth. I referred in earlier response to him reaching his Level Of Incompetence and called him the “W” of football management. Like Gordon Brown he’s had a bounce courtesy of the transfer window but we are back to square one.

Still, it’s only 3 more months at the worst as The Sheik Of Araby will definitely sack him after the season ends.

Scolari perhaps. But Real Madrid/Florentino Perez will contest Kaka to the death. But having Scolari will help with that possibility and obviously getting the best out of Robinho, Elano and Jo. Also John Terry, if I’ve read correctly the press stuff, got on well with big Phil and changing circumstances at Chelsea could see JT at City for next season.

Let’s just accept that we will finish in bottom half but stay up, hopefully enjoy a good run in UEFA Cup and plan for the next campaign but with a better management team in place and some more Galactico additions. No more Wayne Bridges please.

I feel better already after getting that off my chest.

Patrick Knowles <pjamk(at)>


Congratulations to Bernard Paton (MCIVTA 1507) for bothering to write to the FA. Other questions which might be asked in response:

Did the referee volunteer that he’d have dismissed the player, or did the FA ask him? Do they not ask the referee in the case of other televised incidents of violent conduct (especially involving Manchester United players)? If not, does this really mean that whether the FA takes action depends on an individual referee watching Match of the Day and then telling the FA that he’d made a mistake?

Steve Parish <bloovee(at)>


The FA will not have acted outside their own rules when dealing with SWP. If someone checks you might find that there are the set of rules available to all and a concise set (a bit like the small print) in a contract.

As for the incident involving Jose Bosingwa, if you watch it carefully you have to take into account the actual spirit in which something is done; he carefully raised his leg, placed his boot into the back of his opponent and pushed – it was not done with any aggression. The trouble is when a player takes the ball to the corner flag and holds the ball there then he technically makes the ball unplayable, therefore in my opinion it should be an indirect free kick to the opposing team.

Sometimes two players square up with real venom and cards are issued, other times it’s called handbags at 6 paces and nothing happens.

What I would like to know is why the FA acted on the SWP incident but have failed to in the past with players from the Rags.

Sam Duxbury <sammy459(at)>


Following on from David Lewis’ piece in MCIVTA 1507 regarding the FA’s ruling on the ban for SWP, I have emailed the FA to explain themselves on 2 counts: firstly how they deem SWP’s part in the incident to be comparable with Rory Delap’s contribution, and secondly how do the FA justify bending their own rule book?

I will update on any reply…

Keep the faith and see you in Shambles Square before the Sunderland match!

Andrew Keller <akcity(at)>


Title: Allison Wonderland
Author: Steve Mingle
Publisher: The History Press
ISBN: 978-0-7524-478-1
Price: £7.99

This book charts the arrival (round one) of Malcolm Allison at MCFC and his legendary partnership with Joe Mercer, which led to one of the most successful spells in the club’s history.

Gentlemanly Joe marked a stark contrast to the outspoken and ebullient Allison. The behind the scenes discussions and reactions revealed to some of the top level meetings and games during that period make for a brilliant insight into the way these two changed City’s history and arguably the face of football in the late 1960s.

Allison’s arrival led to new all-round training techniques for the squad, dietary advice and an approach unheard of for numerous clubs back then. He masterminded the arrival of Bell, Lee, Summerbee, Book et al and together with Mercer turned around a team which was in the doldrums and heading one way, downwards, into the success City fans still talk about today.

From the almost-signing of Banks, to Allison’s near departures for Coventry and Juve, via memorable games such as the derbies, cup finals and ballet on ice, this book charts the work, camaraderie and team spirit that led to promotion, League Championship, FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup through to the ultimate and inevitable (for City) board room struggles and eventual dissolution of the Mercer and Allison partnership.

It’s hard to imagine this all happened in just 6 years, and what achievements. He proved the detractors right, and with a healthy dislike of all things United that are set out from his arrival turned into a much loved and revered figure at MCFC. “We’ll terrify Europe” Allison famously claimed, and in his way he was right.

They don’t make them like this any more, they don’t make teams or characters like the ones back then either. Read and enjoy, if you’re either reliving the memories having witnessed the era first hand or want to learn more about the glory years. The book does contain some strong language, but given the cast involved that’s not too surprising!

Heidi <editor(at)>


18 February 2009

Manchester United     3 - 0  Fulham                75,437

League table to 18 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  25 11  1  0 28  4  7  4  2 16  6 18  5  2  44  10  34 59
 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 25  8  0  5 28 12  1  4  7 14 22  9  4 12  42  34   8 31
10 Fulham          24  7  3  1 19  9  0  6  7  3 13  7  9  8  22  22   0 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 Portsmouth      25  5  2  6 18 21  2  4  6  9 20  7  6 12  27  41 -14 27
16 Tottenham H.    25  4  5  4 11  9  2  2  8 15 22  6  7 12  26  31  -5 25
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 #1508