Newsletter #1518

News tonight from Alex on the UEFA games past and present, discount tickets for the home tie, injury updates and some former Blues catch up.

We have opinion on Robinho, plenty of requests and another free weekend!

Next Game: Arsenal, away, 3pm Saturday 4 April 2009


General News

Hamburg Round Two: The two sides who came up against each other on a hot day in July last year will face each other all over again, this time on a much more important basis. The Quarter-Final draw was made in Nyon, Switzerland last Friday and threw up City’s most difficult tie so far, with an even harder one to come if the Blues progress. Hamburg, managed by former Spurs manager Martin Jol, currently lie one point off the top of the German Bundesliga and despite losing Vincent Kompany and Nigel De Jong, still have the talent required in their squad to overcome the challenge of the ‘World’s Richest Club’ if City begin to underestimate them. Though Hamburg were 1-0 victors in the pre-season friendly at the AOL Arena last July, MCFC has undergone major reform since then and there is a hope that the Blues will progress to face either Werder Bremen or Italian side Udinese in the Semi-Finals: “There’s the connection with Hamburg with us having Vincent and Nigel here, and we played them in pre-season, which should help our preparations. We are a very different side from then to now, and we can look forward to this with confidence.” The first leg will take place in Germany on Thursday, April 9th with the return leg at CoMS being played on the 16th only a week later.

Jol has warned his side that City are one of England’s strongest sides and there is a reason why the CoMS outfit are favourites for the Cup: “Manchester City are a team that for me are among the best six in England. They are very strong in every area of the team. I am therefore convinced that we will see two good games. Our goal is the semi-finals.”

Food for Thought: Manchester City FC, alongside the English Premier League, have this week signed up to the “Professional Football Against Hunger” campaign in order to raise awareness about the suffering across the world due to a lack of food. Combined with other major European Football Leagues and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation, funds have been raised over match weekends in order to combat the plight that has been furthered by the current worldwide economic crisis. Premier League Chairman, Sir Dave Richards claimed: “The Premier League has a deservedly strong reputation for the amount of work we do off the pitch, both in England and in many countries around the world. We were therefore keen to lend our support to the ‘Professional Football Against Hunger’ campaign. I hope that we might highlight that football has the power to increase awareness, political will and financial resources to help address this extremely important issue.”

Five Pounds for Five Days and Kids for a Quid: With recent attendances in the UEFA Cup barely filling half of the stadium, the City hierarchy has slashed prices significantly in order to entice a larger crowd for the quarter final. The offer, which began yesterday, will sell tickets priced at a mere £5 for adults in any area of the stadium and will not increase in cost until Monday 3oth March when for ten days the match tickets will be only £10 – still half the price that was charged for Aalborg. After April 8th, ticket sales will resume at a reasonable £20 considering the game is a UEFA Quarter final, so Blues’ fans had better get in quick – though I’ll point out now that the online sales system has been struggling of late due to high demand. Garry Cook explained the cuts: “These prices are our way of saying thank you to all our supporters. It’s been a long time since we were in a position to perhaps win silverware and we want to make this game accessible to all. We know it will be a difficult game against a quality side, but with a full house we can help Mark and the boys take a significant and important step nearer to Istanbul. People have told me how the great European nights at Maine Road – particularly against strong German opposition like Schalke and Borussia – crackled with atmosphere and were incredibly emotional occasions and I want this game to be another of those matches that lingers in the memory of a new generation for a long, long time. After starting in the UEFA Cup in July before the Premier League season even kicked off it would be a remarkable achievement to reach the semi-final but we know how tough this tie is going to be against top notch opposition who went away to Galatasaray and won in style, and we want Eastlands to be rocking.”

Brom Delayed: Due to City’s European commitments this season, many of the Blues’ fixtures have been pushed back from the usual Saturday to the less conventional Sunday. This will be the case when the league’s bottom side West Bromwich Albion visit the CoMS on the re-arranged date of Sunday, April 19th. Kick off will be at 3pm.

Squad News

Brilliant Boj’ is Feeling the Buzz: Having finally come through his eighteen months of consecutive injuries, the Bulgarian powerhouse has told of his delight at being back in the City line-up and his gratitude to the fans who have stuck by him through the hardest time of his career: “Being out was frustrating, but I’m a young player and my head is very strong. I said ‘Boji, you want to get back to playing big-time football and you must work hard for that.’ Being injured in the warm-up is just the worst, but that’s football and you have to accept it. Everything changed for me, but every player knows he lives with the possibility. You can only look after yourself when you are fit – try to train better, eat better, sleep better. I played an hour and there were no problems, so for me this is very important. I’m very happy that everything is OK. I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to the boss for giving me the possibility to play in the Premier League. It has been very hard for me because of the injuries. I say a big ‘thank you’ to the physio, the medical staff, my team – everybody here. They have helped me to get over a frustrating time. Now I’m back to normal and I hope I can score a goal for them next time. I say to our fans thank you for supporting me – I want to be able to play well for your club, to play well and score goals for the team. I’m happy when we score, whether it is me or not, but I want to get my share of goals.”

Rejuvenated Richards: Despite early season criticism of Micah and fellow centre back Richard Dunne, it seems that the two have come through their difficult spell of the season and may just be about back at the top of their game again. This week, Hughes commended the young England International’s invigoration as his goal against Sunderland marked a vast improvement from the early months of the 08/09 campaign: “Micah got the headlines because of the goal, but I thought he played with real determination, getting forward and having a positive effect in the opposition half. He was tiring towards the end because of the amount of energy he has expended in two games during the week. Maybe in a few games this season he’s lacked a bit of the confidence you would expect, but he’s still a young man. We forget sometimes that he’s only 20. He’s had quite a number of games for somebody so young, but you will have fluctuations in form and that’s what has happened to Micah this year. For a consistent run of many games, he was outstanding but his form this year, along with others, has fluctuated. I haven’t been in the position to give him the rest he possibly needs on occasion. That’s when form is affected, but he’s come through it – he’s played his way through it and that’s important. Now he seems to be coming good again at the business end of the season.”

The defender himself spoke of his ambitions for the rest of the season and the excitement of the possible success the club could achieve: “The season has been a bit typical of City, a bit up and down but we have momentum now. That’s six wins on the trot at home now. We’ve been getting a little bit of stick this season but as long as our home form continues like this then we’ll be alright. Europe was always our aim and we can really push on for that again for next season. With our team we should never be in a relegation battle, we have to look at the top end. We’ve been up and down this season but we’ll put it right.”

Reserve Returns: Though the Blues’ reserve side suffered a 2-1 home defeat to a Blackburn second string, it wasn’t the result that was the main focus of the match but more the returns of Danny Sturridge and fellow striker Benjani. With neither player having played a full ninety minutes during 2009, the Blues’ senior side may receive a boost as the two looked fit again, if not entirely convincing in front of goal. With Bojinov’s comeback complete and Bellamy recovered from his short term injury, it seems that Hughes will have a full complement of strikers to choose from for the last eight games of the season – as long as everyone stays fit!

Double Your Money: After a run of excellent performances for the first team, centre back Nedum Onuoha looks set to sign a new “double your money” contract after talks with the City hierarchy. The defender, who was linked with a move to Blackburn in January, has really upped his game since given the chance of first team football and may be offered a £40,000 deal in the coming weeks. Fellow defender Ryan McGivern signed a new three year contract with the club this week after a spell of twelve months that has seen him lift the FA Youth Cup and been called up for international duty by Northern Ireland.

International Ilks: With a number of City’s senior squad members called up for international duty this week, Hughes’ biggest fear would have been that some of his key names would come back injured. This fear was clearly justified as rather than wait two weeks for the crocked to come walking back through the doors of CoMS, Micah Richards and Valeri Bojinov have already made their way back to Manchester. Richards suffered a hamstring injury in training for Stuart Pearce’s England Under 21 side whilst Boj’ has also faced hamstring trouble and been assessed by club physios. He will now be sent to Germany for further examination. Vincent Kompany is currently struggling to be fit for Belgium’s tie against Bosnia-Herzegovina whilst Given looks to recover from a shoulder complaint, yet it is SWP’s absence from international training that will be most worrying for English City supporters.

Transfer News and Gossip

Barcelona Buy-Out: Barcelona may still have to face the likes of Bayern Munich, Chelsea or Liverpool and possibly Manchester United before winning Europe’s top trophy but it seems that a number of their players have ascribed the Final in Rome as their final game for the club. The News of the World reported this week that City were in talks with Super-Agent Pini Zahavi about a move for former Arsenal hero Thierry Henry in the summer and the likes of Yaya Toure and Samuel Eto’o have also reportedly caught the eye of City executive Chairman Garry Cook. No matter who it is that would sign for the Citizens, let’s hope Barça can go on and lift the Champions’ League trophy in order to aid the Blues in their attempts at luring another world star to CoMS.

Gunnar Nielsen: Recent signing Gunnar Nielsen has taken the option of a loan to Blue Square Premier club Wrexham in his push to challenge the established order of goalkeeping at the club. With Given, Hart, Schmeichel and Tobias Johansen all ahead of the Faroe under 21 international in terms of priority, Nielsen has followed the Joe Hart school of goalkeeping by attempting to make a name for himself at the lower levels in order to demand a first team place.

Ex-Blues’ News

Royle’s Assent: After three years in the managerial wilderness, former City boss Joe Royle has returned to the hot seat. Oldham Athletic is his destination and he’s no stranger to Boundary Park having spent possibly the most successful twelve years of his career there between 1982 and 1994. Taking over from John Sheridan, Royle will now look to help the Latics ascend up the table and be in the League One Play-Offs during May. Alongside Royle, City’s former Chairman John Wardle looks set to invest in the Oldham squad in order to combine with his former manager all over again.

Garry Flitcroft: Former City midfielder Garry Flitcroft has taken up a management post at Leigh Genesis in the last week, his first coaching job since retiring from the playing side of the game. Leigh, who are currently struggling in the Unibond Premier League, hope to be boosted by a former Premier League star in their search for progress. Flitcroft has appointed another former Blue in Mike Quigley as his assistant.

Post-Match Reaction

Aalborg: We should have learned by now that it simply wasn’t going to be that easy. Two-nil up on aggregate, with five minutes of the second leg remaining and extra time was imminent as a goal from Luton Shelton and last minute penalty from Jakobson drew the Danish side level. Despite taking the momentum into the extra time period, Aalborg couldn’t take advantage and City couldn’t grab the deciding goal either. When it came to penalties, new boy Shay Given stepped up and pushed the Blues into the final eight of the UEFA Cup with two good saves as all four City penalty takers hit the back of the net. The manager took time to praise the Ireland goalkeeper and also reflect upon the match itself: “Knowing Shay was between the sticks gave us confidence. The lads had belief that he would play a hand and save a penalty at some point. You scratch your head and wonder how the situation has developed. We don’t do things easy. We were in control for the first hour and were looking for the goal that would have put the tie to bed. Once they got a foothold they played very well in the second half and at times we were under a lot of pressure. It should never have got to the situation it did, but we’re very happy to come through. We’ll take the win, and we’re through to the quarter finals for the first time in a long time. We’re in the hat for a major European tournament and there will be some bigger tests, but let’s enjoy the moment.”

Sunderland: Being the only side in the Premier League to have lost to City at home this season is not a title that the North East side will be very proud of but for the second time in as many season, the Blues completed a deserved double over Sunderland in the weekend’s most controversial match. With George McCartney sent off after fifteen minutes for supposedly denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity, and Robinho missing a penalty, it seemed that lady luck wasn’t shining upon either side and yet Micah Richards changed all that in the second half. Rising high to head Elano’s free kick into the back of the net, Richards scored his first goal in two and a half years as CoMS breathed a huge sigh of relief. The three points places the Blues back into the top ten, only three points adrift from seventh place, which will almost certainly provide European football for the team who occupies it come the end of the season. In his post-match conference, the boss spent the majority of his time supporting the luckless Robinho and promising that there is more to come from the Brazilian: “He was confident enough to take the ball and try and score – he wants to make a positive impact, he’s always of that frame of mind. He’s disappointed that he wasn’t able to put the penalty away, but he kept on trying and had good opportunities in the second half as well. The desire to make amends for the miss was there for everyone to see. In the end it wasn’t crucial, so we’re happy enough. I think he played cat and mouse with the ‘keeper. On occasions, if the ‘keeper – who’s a big guy – chooses the correct side, there’s a chance he may be able to stop it. There was a bit of kidology going on, the ‘keeper guessed right and he saved it. That happens.”

Alex Rowen <news(at)>


Obviously Robinho has a lot of raw talent, but he’s young and going through a rough spell at the moment. So I suggest we do what clubs commonly do in such a situation – loan him out to a lower division club. I think a month or two at Hartlepool or Wycombe would do wonders for the lad. In the meantime we could play Elano behind the lone striker. This seems to be the rôle he likes best and in which he has started to show a bit of form lately.

Mike Maddox <mwm2240(at)>


Great news to hear Mark Hughes say Robinho will not be leaving City in the summer. I think it is fair to say that we all know that Robinho can be brilliant for we have seen it earlier in the season.

I have made comments before that Robinho has been well marked in some games, but whilst this is happening Micah and SWeeP are having more space on the opposite wing.

The trouble is that many supporters and fans see Robinho at times play in a half hearted fashion, and give up too easily; maybe this is because he gets frustrated by the other players double marking him but a player of Robinho’s caliber should not be affected by it, and just carry on in doing his best, and we have been seeing flashes of it.

Robhinho needs to get that all-elusive goal soon, and I feel that everything will change for the best in his form.

I am very pleased that Robinho will be staying, and in the summer another quality star player come in to boost the squad, and of course there will be some players to leave, the ones that can’t contribute to the higher standard that Sparky desires.

The future looks very good, but right now there is a job on hand to win the UEFA Cup, and get seventh position, which is attainable.

Come on you Blues! Come on Robinho! In Sparky I trust.

Ernie Barrow <britcityblue(at)>


I would like to apologise if any of my views on ‘life under Mark Hughes’ have upset anyone, and if anyone feels I’ve been rude to them then please also accept my apologies. I’m only expressing my views as a long-standing City fan who is desperate to see some success before all of his hair turns grey!

Ernie – if referring to you as a “happy clapper” was offensive then sorry. I don’t have any problem with being called a “frother” or whatever the opposite term was that seemed to have come from the MEN website!

Graham you’re being disingenuous. The comment I made in MCIVTA 1513 that “In my opinion, the only Red in disguise running down City is Mark Hughes!” was written in response to Ernie’s comment in MCIVTA 1512: “Is Steve a Red in disguise running down Mark Hughes?” As I then went on to say in MCIVTA 1515, “I’ve never stated Mark Hughes is deliberately running down City”. I was merely responding to Ernie by turning round the question he had asked! To think someone could actually come to City with the express purpose of destroying our club from the inside would require you to have levels of paranoia more usually associated with the KGB although, come to think of it, Alan Ball did a pretty good job when it was his turn!

I’m actually starting to feel a little sorry for MH, as I’m not sure everything seems right behind the scenes. Of course we’ll never know, but the impression that is being given at the moment is that Hughes is having to play Robinho to (maybe) prove that he can manage ‘superstars’ and thereby keep his job. If that is the case then I don’t think anyone could see that as fair, because regardless of MH’s abilities as a manager he has to be allowed to select who he wants and play them when he thinks fit. It is obvious to everyone, no matter how biased, that Robinho is way off-form at the moment, so continuing to select him from the start in away matches just doesn’t make sense (where he may be more effective as an impact player).

Am so pleased to see Richards regain his form, and maybe right-back is where he is going to be more successful under our current tactical set-up. At least with him and Zabaleta, we’ve got a decent choice in that position after so many years of Sun Jihai / Danny Mills!

Also, brilliant to see the Boj back; I just can’t wait for the day I can watch him playing without both sets of fingers crossed, worrying that he’s going to get crocked again. With such genuine potential it would be horrible if he suffered any more setbacks.

Stephen Burrows <stevieburrows(at)>


Mr Burrows “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”? Voltaire.

His opinion on intolerance during the reign of the last Queen of France (Marie Antoinette) in the late 1770’s aptly describes the situation. It’s all been said before and I’m sure it will be said again…

History repeats itself, historians repeat each other. Empires grow, build, rule, conquer and then become corrupt, decline and disappear over time and replaced but another who follow the same inevitable cycle. Roman, Norman, Greek, British, Ottoman, Hitlers and the Man United empire will I’m sure follow the same path…

P.S. That’s a comment on Empires as an entity not a description of the philosophy just before some numpty accuses me of saying Hitler’s empire was like Man Utd or British.

Or maybe, just maybe, we have the situation where Mark Hughes will be the modern day Matt Busby in a classic reversal. Matt Busby played for City in the 1930’s – not the best but certainly a very influential player. Managed United to their glorious (possibly not greatest ever) period in history 20 odd years later. Importantly, Mr Busby did not have a good start to his reign please take note.

Mark Hughes played for United (mainly) in the 1980’s, not the best but certainly a very influential player. Managed City 20 odd years later and let the games commence!

Can you imagine winning at OT in May and getting a 7th place in the process and handing the title to Liverpool? Even I would sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” purely for the wind up. The ultimate in irony as the Sorceror’s (‘bacon face’) Apprentice (young master Hughes) coming back home to spoil the Premier League party.

I think it would take a situation of this size proportion to win Mr Burrows over. After all it would be great preparation to go to Instanbul with a win under our belts.

Nurse nurse, more medication please…

Phil Lines <philipjlines(at)>


I would like to come to the defence of Steve Burrows. I am truly appalled at the abuse he has been given by certain contributors of this forum. Steve is entitled to his opinion as I, you and everyone else is. Just because you may not agree with it is no excuse to say the things that have been said. Steve’s comment about ‘Happy Clappers’ was correct in the context it was written in. To begin to dissect and publish previous comments from postings by Steve is beyond a joke and people should grow up!

MCIVTA is a great forum for all of us highly frustrated Blues. Let’s keep it that way. Every opinion is as valid as another. Every person is allowed his or her say hopefully?

Ray Bardsley <rbardsley(at)>


A great response by the fans to purchase cut-price tickets for the visit of Hamburg, and the Club and its staff should be congratulated for making this offer available to so many.

No doubt to the ire of Michel Platini but that would be of no concern to us.

An excellent gesture by Manchester City FC, which should be rewarded by a suitable performance to place us in the semi-final.

Graham Mills <gkm_5(at)>


I apologize in advance, as I know this has been mentioned several times on MCIVTA, but after spending an hour or so reading through old editions, I couldn’t find the required information about online viewing of live City games. So, if anyone out there could give me advice on a reliable service (it doesn’t have to be free), I’d be much obliged. Maybe the info could then be added to the end of the MCIVTA email?

[Some information already in the FAQ Mike, scroll down! Ed]

Mike Maddox <mwm2240(at)>


Do you know if there is a City bar in Lloret de Mar? I will be there when we play Hamburg at home and am trying to find somewhere to watch it.

Phil Jones <pjonesadi(at)>


I will be on a business trip to the US west coast next month and would be keen to meet up with fellow Blues for the following games:
04 April, Arsenal I’ll be in either Seattle or San Francisco.
09 April, Hamburg, San Francisco.
12 April, Fulham, San Francisco.

Many thanks, Neal Beatty <nealbeatty(at)>


Bid to play alongside City legends!

A host of Manchester City legends will return to The City of Manchester Stadium on Monday 4th May to take part in the annual Football Aid charity football match.

Tommy Booth, Andy May, Jim Melrose, and Mike Doyle and will all step back onto the hallowed turf in the match organised by Football Aid next month, where they will be playing alongside and managing fans of the Sky Blues who will have the unique opportunity to live their dream. Other legends will be announced in due course.

Football Aid is a charitable organisation that gives supporters the opportunity to take part in the ultimate football experience. From seeing their shirt hanging up in the changing rooms, to running down the tunnel and playing 90 minutes alongside their footballing heroes, fans are able to live out their dream, whilst also raising valuable funds for charity.

Enthusiastic Manchester City fanatics have been logging on at with their bid to secure a position in this magnificent event at Eastlands. And with positions still available, there is no better chance for you to become the latest addition to the Manchester City team sheet!

Football Aid was founded in 2000 by businessman and Football Aid Chairman Craig Paterson, and has so far donated over £1.3 million to charitable organisations around the country. Over twenty-five clubs have already signed up to support Football Aid’s ninth season, which has over the years allowed almost 10,000 fans to play on the pitch at their favourite club’s ground.

All funds raised from events are distributed through Football Aid’s parent charity, Field of Dreams towards diabetes research, education and management projects and also to charities nominated for funding by the clubs involved in these events. For further information, please visit or alternatively contact the sales team at <info(at)>.

Conor <conor(at)>


Hamburg vs. Man City – return to the Reeperbahn
2nd Flight now on sale

Come and support the Blues in Hamburg with our 1 night stopover, direct flights from Manchester with 4* Hotel – £275.00 per person (based on twin shared accomodation).

Depart Manchester on the morning of the game at approx. 0800 hrs to arrive in to Hamburg approx. 1030 hrs local time. Transfers included to your 4* Hotel, centrally located on the Reeperbahn inc. breakfast. Enjoy the day and soak up the atmosphere prior to game. Transfers back to the airport from your hotel for your return flight back to Manchester at approx. 1430hrs.

£275 per person (based on twin shared accomodation

Single Supplement £50

We can also offer you a flight only (no accomodation or transfers) for £215.00 pp. To make a booking please call 90-Minutes on 0161 775 7500.

Michael <90-minutes(at)>


League table to 25 March 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  29 12  1  1 31  9  8  4  3 18  9 20  5  4  49  18  31 65
 2 Liverpool       30  9  6  0 27  8  9  4  2 27 13 18 10  2  54  21  33 64
 3 Chelsea         30  8  5  2 24  8 10  2  3 25  9 18  7  5  49  17  32 61
 4 Arsenal         30  8  5  2 22 11  7  5  3 26 16 15 10  5  48  27  21 55
 5 Aston Villa     30  5  7  3 21 17 10  0  5 22 19 15  7  8  43  36   7 52
 6 Everton         30  6  5  4 23 17  7  4  4 17 14 13  9  8  40  31   9 48
 7 Wigan Athletic  30  7  4  4 14 12  4  4  7 16 16 11  8 11  30  28   2 41
 8 West Ham United 30  7  2  6 19 17  4  6  5 16 18 11  8 11  35  35   0 41
 9 Fulham          30  9  3  3 24 12  1  7  7  6 14 10 10 10  30  26   4 40
10 Manchester City 30 10  0  5 31 12  1  5  9 15 25 11  5 14  46  37   9 38
11 Tottenham H.    30  6  5  4 16  9  4  3  8 20 25 10  8 12  36  34   2 38
12 Bolton Wndrs    30  6  2  7 15 18  4  2  9 17 26 10  4 16  32  44 -12 34
13 Hull City       30  3  4  8 16 30  5  5  5 19 22  8  9 13  35  52 -17 33
14 Sunderland      30  5  3  7 17 18  3  5  7 12 21  8  8 14  29  39 -10 32
15 Portsmouth      29  6  2  7 20 23  2  6  6 12 23  8  8 13  32  46 -14 32
16 Stoke City      30  8  4  3 18 13  0  4 11 11 34  8  8 14  29  47 -18 32
17 Blackburn R.    30  3  6  6 16 22  4  4  7 17 27  7 10 13  33  49 -16 31
18 Newcastle Utd   30  4  6  5 21 25  2  5  8 15 24  6 11 13  36  49 -13 29
19 Middlesbrough   30  4  7  4 13 16  2  2 11  8 26  6  9 15  21  42 -21 27
20 West Brom A.    30  5  3  7 20 28  1  3 11  6 27  6  6 18  26  55 -29 24

With thanks to Football 365

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Manchester City FC recognises three supporters’ clubs: The “Official Supporters Club” (; the “Centenary Supporters’ Association” ( and “The International Supporters’ Club”.

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Statistics for the current season are available from the club site, but for a more in-depth analysis try

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Newsletter #1518