Newsletter #1522

News and reaction tonight to the Arsenal game and decisions, a look ahead to the Hamburg match and general club round-up.

Next Game: Fulham, home, 4.10pm Sunday 12 April 2009


General News

Schalke Spirit Needed: The Blues face high flying Hamburg tonight at the AOL Arena and the Blues seek to end an awful run of away form that has seen the Blues only win two on their travels since the start of the season. Whilst the Blues haven’t won away in the Premier League since August, City did come away from Germany 2-0 victors against Schalke 04 earlier in their UEFA campaign and it is this spirit that manager Mark Hughes intends to re-awaken in his side: “We put in a great performance against Schalke and came away with a valuable win. That should give us confidence, because this will be a similar situation. We will be up against good-quality opposition in a fantastic stadium, and there will be good support for the home side, which we will have to deal with. We have a number of injury issues that we hope will resolve themselves, but we are looking forward to it. We want to be in a position after the first leg where we can go on and seal it in the second. We met them in pre-season, but things are very different for both teams now. I have come up against Martin before and had a decent record against him in competitive games, hopefully that will continue.”

Skipper Richard Dunne gave the club his vote of confidence: “We’ve come through 14 games and we’ve got a realistic chance of winning it. But we need to believe that we can. We need to go to big clubs like Hamburg and come away knowing that it’s in our own hands. On our day we can beat anyone, and we have to go in with that attitude. Winning at Schalke was our best performance, and that game will be of benefit to us. If we can play like that we’ll be more of a match for Hamburg. We’ve probably got the toughest draw we could have had, but you want to play the big sides in the big stadiums. The German fans will make it a big night – even at Schalke when we were beating them comfortably, the crowd were still making a lot of noise. They weren’t shouting particularly nice things at their players that night, but the German fans have a real passion about their football, and the German clubs are always stronger towards the end of a tournament.”

Onuoha on Top: Versatile defender Nedum Onuoha has claimed the Thomas Cook Player of the Month award following an excellent run of performances over the last four weeks. With Richard Dunne and Shay Given also contenders, the judges explain why Nedum came out on top: “Naturally there were several candidates for the top prize starting at the back with Shay Given, who has yet to concede at home in the Premier League since arriving from Newcastle and was the hero in the penalty shoot out in Aalborg. Skipper Richard Dunne also caught the eye on more than one occasion in the six games last month as he returned to the kind of form that has seen him pick up the player of the year trophy on four successive occasions. But in the end the panel unanimously plumped for the man who plays alongside Dunne at the heart of the defence. After a lengthy spell on the sidelines, his patience, dedication and hard work have been rewarded with an extended run in the side and he has barely put a foot wrong in a string of impressive performances.” The player himself explained that this award is a tribute to the whole back five, not just himself: “It was always a matter of waiting for my chance and then taking it. With someone like Richard Dunne next to me the work gets shared – a lot of other players did well last month as well. We’re not individuals but a unit at the back, the four of us and the ‘keeper.”

Nedum has also revealed how he believes that the Blues’ revolution will not be based on cash but on the promise of trophies and spoke of how highly he regards fellow Academy graduate Stephen Ireland: “There is so much potential here now and the chance to be able to afford better players. But they will come because they see the club is moving in the right direction. They’ll see the ambition and take a pride in coming here. It’s amazing to think that not so long ago we were escaping relegation but three or four years from now could be one of the top teams in the country, if not Europe. But it wouldn’t be about the money, it would be about the team developing. Players take a pride in the team they play for, otherwise you wouldn’t go. Big clubs will pay big money, because they will be winning things. Some will think I’m unique, others boring, but for me it’s not about the money. Football is a great profession to be in and I’m having a good life. It doesn’t matter to me if someone else is having a better one. Players who are deserving can have as much as they like and it won’t trouble me. I hope Stevie Ireland signs a new contract and they pay him whatever he wants, because for me he has been our best player this season. Whatever he earns, he deserves, and if I only get a hundredth or whatever fraction of what he is paid, it wouldn’t matter to me as long as I had enough to be OK. I’d never compare myself to him, he’s integral to the team.”

Robinho – Innocent: Though it may not be the adequate legal terminology for the situation, the correct sentiment is there as all charges were dropped against City’s star striker following accusations of sexual assault. It was in January that these allegations came to light and the club has now stated that it is time to put the issue to bed and allow ‘Robbie’ to get back to his world beating form: “The Crown Prosecution Service has reviewed the evidence gathered during the course of the investigation and have concluded that no further action will be taken in this case. Robinho, who had co-operated fully with the Police throughout the enquiry, will face no charges and the matter is now closed.”

Mourinho Move a Mockery: MCFC has released this statement in reaction to the article by Ian McGarry of the Sun newspaper: “Following the publication of an article in today’s Sun newspaper by Ian McGarry, which states that Jose Mourinho has rejected a £12.5 million offer to manage Manchester City Football Club, the Club would like to clarify the following. The article is completely without foundation and the Club is considering legal action to address the matter.”

In Memory: Honorary President Michael Horwich, a former director of the club and lifelong Blue has sadly died at the age of 86. Horwich, who made his name as a lawyer in the sixties, was made an Honorary President in 1992 and some of his close friends have paid tribute. Friend and Honorary President Ian Niven claimed: “He was a true original. A few people will claim the title of Mr Manchester City, and he was in that select band. He was a typical City fan, always the optimist and a bubbly character. I first met him in the company of Malcolm Allison, and that was some combination as you could imagine. He only missed the last couple of games because his arthritic condition worsened. Officially it was supposed to have stopped him attending matches for some time, but he wouldn’t let that prevent him.”

Former City winger and Blue legend Mike Summerbee said: “He was a nice man, a character who was generous and had a great sense of humour. He was a friend to everybody, and he got me out of a couple of scrapes! I used to joke with him that he was the worst driver I’d ever come across. He was a lovely man, and he will be missed by a lot of people.”

Club secretary and friend Bernard Halford also stated: “Michael was a wonderful supporter of Manchester City. He was devoted to the club and would handle legal matters, but out of the goodness of his heart we never saw a bill. He will be sadly missed by us all.”

Squad News

City 4 Life: With a promising squad in place, a journey to the UEFA Cup final going almost too well and an owner with ‘unlimited’ funds to spend on the club, things are a little bit different to SWP’s first stint at the club. SWP, who moved to Chelsea for £21 million, left Eastlands in search of trophies and success but having made his way back up North, SWP is happy to be home and believes that this City side has just as much potential as the Chelsea side bought by Roman Abramovich six years ago and intends to stay for the whole ride: “I can’t see myself going anywhere else. I see myself staying for a long time, but it’s the club that says Yes or No. If the opportunity came to stay for life, I would quite honestly say I would. I am very happy here. It’s unlimited how far the club could go with the people who are around and in charge, including the boss. We could go a long way for a long time. I do think we will be able to challenge for the League, but everyone has to be patient. To win it (the UEFA Cup tie against Hamburg SV) would be a step in the right direction, especially with all the games we have been through. We have made it hard for ourselves but when our backs have been against the wall we still seem to come out on top.”

Swedish Selection: With Joe Hart and Nedum Onuoha almost certainly on their way to Sweden for the Under 21 European Championships in the summer and Micah Richards possibly in tow, the question is whether City’s brightest attacking prospect Danny Sturridge will also get the call from former City boss Stuart Pearce. Onuoha has given his prediction: “I’ve a feeling Danny will go to Sweden if he is fully fit. He brings something different – there’s something about him, he brings a spark. In training he’s as good as Elano, Robinho and Caicedo, who are all technically very good. Danny is up there with them but doesn’t always get the credit. He has the ability, and he knows that this is the best place for him to be, learning his trade. He’s one of the top players for his age in the country if not in Europe or the rest of the world.” 22-year-old Onuoha has also spoke of his hope to be successful in his final Under 21 tournament: “It’s my last year and I’d like to win something. We got bronze in the last Championships… you want something to show. Stuart Pearce made me captain and showed confidence in me when I wasn’t in the City side. It was a good way to get some games! But the Under-21s is more about development; it shows you a different side to the game. And you get to play against some of the best young players in Europe. We are fortunate to be where we are, though sometimes our problems have been our own doing. We have to respect the other seven teams who are left in, but we’re not the type to fear anyone.”

Johnno’s Pain: As one of the brightest prospects to have come through City’s Academy in recent years, Michael Johnson was expected to have a bright future ahead of him, drawing comparisons with City legend Colin Bell and attracting interest from Liverpool and Everton. Unfortunately, injury has ravished the season that should have given Johnno the opportunity to play for his national side, had his form been as excellent as the season beforehand, and Hughes has admitted that even when the 21-year-old comes back from his pelvic and groin injury, pain will play a considerable part in the first few months of the midfielder’s resurgence: “He’s had an imbalance in the hips and groin, and in these cases your body tries to compensate for a weakness and that causes problems elsewhere. It’s a vicious circle, and it took us a long time to understand what was causing the problem. He has got to the point now where he is comfortable with the pain that he will work with. It is a case of getting into the rhythm of training on a regular basis leading into games – that’s what he needs from now to the end of the year. He’s had that frustrating kind of injury that young players sometimes find difficult to cope with – they just want to play games. When you are not allowed to do that because of injury it can be very frustrating, but we are hopeful now that Michael will be involved before the end of the season.”

Boj’s Dream: After a torrid season of injury, the Bulgarian powerhouse Valeri Bojinov has recently spoke of his dream to win the UEFA Cup, despite not being eligible to play in the competition himself and also of the moment that he realised that he’d picked up his second serious injury in as many competitive games for the club: “The boss told me I was starting at Aston Villa, and I began my warming-up exercises in front of the City fans when I heard a loud popping noise. I couldn’t understand what it was and looked behind me to see if someone had thrown something over to me, but there was nobody there. Then I felt it and realised that the noise had come from my own leg. I sat down on the grass. I knew something had happened. I thought, ‘there goes my Achilles’.” Of the UEFA Cup Boj’ argued: “I think if Rangers can get to the final, we certainly can. No disrespect, but they are no more than an average side. We have to believe we can do it, try our best, and see where that takes us.”

‘Robbie’ Resurgence Imminent: The £32.5 million record signing from Real Madrid didn’t take anything more than thirteen minutes to settle into Premier League football when he faced potential suitors Chelsea in his first ever English league game and he has gone on to score ten more goals since but of late, Robinho’s form has had more people calling for him to be dropped than to be handed a free rôle in the first eleven. Club skipper Richard Dunne believes that with all criminal charges dropped, this will all change soon and the Blues’ fans will once again see their star playing with a smile on his face: “It was an awful thing to be accused of and it would affect any man in that situation. He’s got a young family and they are his main concern so hopefully that has lifted a bit of weight off his shoulders and he can start playing with a smile on his face again and showing what he can do. All the criticism doesn’t help him. It’s easy for people outside the club because nobody seems to want him to do well. So it’s important for us here and the fans to be 100 per cent behind him. Every stadium we go to, people are expecting him to do amazing things. It’s not going to happen all the time. He’s probably feeling the pressure of having to keep proving himself. Once he relaxes he will be fine. The players see how good he is every day in training. We all firmly believe in him and that he will return to his earlier form. That will be a real boost for us.”

Transfer News and Gossip

Barça Await Blue Call: Barcelona are apparently hopeful that City will make multi-million pound moves for both Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto’o this summer in order to boost their own transfer kitty. With Henry considered past his best having not quite settled ever since his move to the Nou Camp from Arsenal and Barcelona fearing losing Eto’o for free when his contract expires the season later, the Spanish League leaders hopes to take advantage of City’s enormous wealth by calling on them to make moves for the world class duo. It is unclear as to whether there is any substance to the rumours in terms of City’s interest.

Fabio Cannavaro: Italian Captain and Real Madrid centre-back Fabio Cannavaro is that latest world class name to be linked with the Blues since the multi-million pound takeover. The 35-year-old may seem to be far past his best if you take account of age but he continues to be an integral part of the Real squad and has claimed that it wouldn’t be all too shocking if he were to leave the Bernabeu this season.

Academy Blues

Dallas Watch: City’s Under 18s are already making a name for themselves overseas in the prestigious Dallas Cup competition. Jim Cassell’s side, who were invited to the USA following their FA Youth Cup final victory last year, hammered a bright and prosperous AC Milan side 4-0 in their opening game of the competition. Robbie Mak’s brace, combined with goals by Alex Nimely and James Poole gave the Blues the best possible start to the tournament. The young Blues then came back from two goals down against Mexican side Tigres to win 3-2 as goals from Nimely, Cunningham and Trippier completed an amazing turn around to give the Blues six points from two games. The Blues went on to progress into tomorrow’s semi-final with a 4-0 victory against Toronto. Mak and Nimely grabbed a brace each and goalkeeper Joe Clegg put in a man-of-the-match performance to ensure the Blues moved into the final four.

Contracts Extended: More locally, whilst Paul Marshall’s loan move to Port Vale has been extended to May the second following an original month’s loan to the League Two side, Clayton McDonald has signed a one year extension up until 2010 having been on loan at Chesterfield over recent weeks.

Ex-Blues’ News

Sven Sacked: For the second time in twelve months Sven Goran Eriksson has been sacked yet this time it may be more duly deserved. With only one win in six, and no win away, SGE was always going to struggle to keep his job with his side flailing in the CONCAF qualifying group for the World Cup 2010. Despite the Mexican FA continuing to proclaim Sven to be “the right man for the job”, the Swedish manager was finally sacked last week and is now seeking to return to club football, with the Premier League his main aim. Tord Grip, Sven’s right hand man, has revealed today that Sven did knock back the Portsmouth job a couple of months back in order to continue with his Mexican project. The real question will be how many City fans will be calling for his re-instatement as club manager should Hughes fail to qualify for the UEFA Cup next season and not make it to Istanbul.

Post-Match Reaction

Arsenal: The returns of Gunners’ skipper Cesc Fabregas and target man Emmanuelle Adebayor were always going to make the trip to the Emirates that much trickier and Wenger’s side were quite comfortable in beating the Blues on their own turf. Despite City’s 3-0 thrashing of Arsenal at CoMS earlier in the season, Arsenal’s standing has changed significantly and the fact that City’s victory was the Gunners’ last loss in the Premier League says it all. 2-0 was fitting and the Blues have something to aim for as they go on their journey over the next few years because at times the Blues play Arsenal-like football but it’s that ability to grind out a result that we’re lacking and following the example set by Wenger’s team may be a sensible route to follow. City boss Hughes explained why his team couldn’t pick up any points in North London: “Those players coming back just added to the quality Arsenal already had, and they both made an impact as well. It was disappointing – losing a goal so early and so poorly from our point of view was always going to make it difficult for us. We lost key personnel very early and had to re-jig things. We just lacked a bit of physical presence to dictate to the opposition. They are a big, athletic side who are able to get around the pitch. As the game wore on, we found it more and more difficult in that respect. I just sensed that we lacked a little bit of presence on the field to enable us to ask a good Arsenal side enough questions from 1-0 down.”

Alex Rowen <news(at)>


I was beginning to think it was only me! Thanks to Glyn Albuquerque, Ray Bardsley, Simon Clarke and Bert Trautmann (yes, our very own goalkeeping legend from years gone by) for confirming the fact that City fans are very much split on Agent Clueless, and that it is okay to express an opinion that isn’t just bland approval without being accused of undermining City. Bert was on Radio Manchester, for those of you who missed it, shortly before the Sunderland game, and apart from some very damning comments about the team’s performance at Chelsea the week before, he was also quite expansive on the current state of our squad and the tactics we are using. He was too much of a gentleman to slate Hughes directly, but he did say that having done relatively well at Blackburn, that he might be better suited at a club of that type.

I currently work on a project looking at lessons learned in NHS IT implementations, and it seems that even in an institution as broken as the NHS it is possible for those involved to learn from mistakes made. One of the many problems with Hughes this season is that he doesn’t appear able to learn from any of the mistakes he has made. Even acknowledging them as mistakes would be a start, but he seems in complete denial of the consequences of the decisions he makes, and prefers instead to apportion blame to all and sundry.

Against Arsenal, we had another case of déjà vu. Days before one of the most important games in recent club history (that offers the only route to any form of success this season, and will hugely influence the transfer decisions of other potential targets moving clubs at the end of the season), Hughes decides to pick Bridge (up against an extremely fast and skilful winger in Walcott, despite only being partially fit and with the possibility of being out for much longer if injured again), Kompany (still not fit enough because of his toe injury) and Bellamy (despite not being fully fit, and easily prone to picking up a more long term injury). All three players, if fit, would be pretty much first choices for the game on Thursday, so why not rest them for then, hoping they may be back to full fitness rather than risk injury against Arsenal, which could rule them out for more than just Thursday’s game. And so it happened… off go Bridge and Kompany in the first half, disrupting whatever plans Hughes had on Saturday, and ruling them out for how many games? Okay, Bellamy survived the whole game, which is lucky as Bojinov is not available on Thursday, but given that Hughes was moaning after the game that “we just lacked a bit of physical presence” then it was a little unfair to expect Bellamy to produce anything much on his own up front without a physical presence alongside him (oh yeah, I forgot… he’s currently banging them in at Goodison, proving he’s not as bad as we all thought when he was here; I’m not a big fan of Moyes, but if he can get someone like Jo to perform reasonably okay, then it shows it can be done!). If Sturridge and Benjani were fit enough to be on the bench, then maybe they could have had a start, or half a match each to help ease them back, which is what we are told long-term injuries always need, rather than hamstring injuries which can go at any time. Bojinov apparently picked up a hamstring with Bulgaria, so why put him on the bench if he’s in severe danger of tweaking it if he came on?

As well as picking the injured, Hughes also decided to pick the knackered! Risking injury to tired players who had just flown back, he picked Robinho from the start and brought on Elano for Kompany. It is a credit to both players that they did okay, but they could both so easily have been ruled out of Thursday’s game if they picked up an injury. In fact, Robinho had his best away match of the season, tracking back like he did in his first few games for us back at the start of the season. I know we don’t yet have a ‘top four’ squad to choose from because of injuries and key positions not being filled during the transfer window, but we could have given Weiss, Logan, McGivern or Mak a chance on Saturday, just to freshen things up a bit, and give one or two senior players a rest. I know we are not safe in the league yet either, but at Arsenal we could have shown a bit more imagination.

Then, there were the trademark Hughes substitutions. Off goes Bridge, but instead of putting a fit, like for like replacement on, he brings on Fernandes (I find it painful and embarrassing to see how far backwards his performances have gone since Sven left; when he first arrived, he showed plenty of promise) and moves Zabaleta from a position he can do well in to left back, where not only is he wrong-footed, but also unable to cope with Walcott. Maybe Garrido would have fared no better, but at least that’s his position, and we wouldn’t have lost Zabaleta from where we really needed him in our midfield. Then we have Fernandes doing his undisciplined headless chicken routine in midfield instead (although I would dearly loved to have seen him score when he had that chance).

So, what lessons are we learning? It appears that the answer is none at all, and we can expect plenty more of the same until the end of the season.

P.S. – Phil Lines, I like a lot of what you have to say. I too, at least when Hughes first arrived, dreamed of him being able to do the reverse of what Matt Busby did for them, and like Joe Royle said, regarding the fall of empires, “what goes around, comes around”! I would also love the scenario of us “winning at OT in May and getting a 7th place in the process and handing the title to Liverpool”, but can you really see that happening?

Steve Burrows <stevieburrows(at)>


Well, looks like the assault charges against Robinho have been dropped. I wonder how much of this has been playing on his mind and how he will perform now that he’s clear?

I don’t want to see City start chopping and changing managers again but I have to admit that I’m becoming uneasy that we have so many strikers yet we create so few chances.

I’m baffled as to why we are so poor away from home, so much so that you can almost predict the score now.

I think that Hughesie’s days are numbered though I would like to see him succeed but the away form shows no sign of improving and in some home matches we have been fortunate.

Let’s see what happens.

John Nisbet <nisbet1957(at)>


So it must be true. I hope it’s false. I hope the club can prove it’s false. I hope the Sheikh takes them to court.

One thing I admire about the Liverpudlian collective is the unofficial boycott of the Sun newspaper on Merseyside. They can’t give it away free 20 years on after Hillsborough.

It’s commendable. We should do likewise, quietly and unassumingly just like the way The Sheikh runs his business…

One day someone will successfully sue the Sun. Normally people bottle it as the newspaper wades in with a legal army that looks like a white wig convention.

Phil Lines <philipjlines(at)>


The annual CSA 5-a-side competition will be held at the Platt Lane Complex on Saturday 13th June 2009, commencing at 10:00am. This year the competition is being held as a fund raising event in aid of the ‘Carl Ramsbottom Appeal’. Any group of City supporters are invited to take part.

Certificates will be awarded to the successful teams and a name from MCFC will be invited to present the certificates. Entrance to the competition is £25 per team. Cheques should be made payable to MCCSA and forwarded to me:

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

Confirmation of your team’s entrance is when I receive your cheque. We are also looking for 8 qualified referees to control the games, free of charge so all monies raised go to the appeal.

All interested teams and referees can contact me by telephone on 0161 281 7517 or email below.

If anybody out there has any suggestions as to how we can enhance the day or raise more money for the appeal, please contact me.

Alex Channon <alexchannon81(at)>


The cabaret night for the Carl Ramsbottom Appeal was a stunning success. Over 300 packed in to the British Legion in Blackley. Guests included Mark Lillis, Paul Power, Tommy Booth, Paul Hince, Fred Eyre, James H Reeve, Michael Johnson and Chief Exec Garry Cook and last but not least Vicky from the PR Department. It was a great night of entertainment and the £5 envelope draw and the auctions went down a treat with one guest bidding £600 to be a guest of Ricky Hatton for a game at Eastlands. Many thanks to all who attended and we raised £4,300. A lot of Carl’s relatives attended and were very grateful for the support they have been given.

Don Price <donprice(at)>


League table to 08 April 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  30 13  1  1 34 11  8  4  3 18  9 21  5  4  52  20  32 68
 2 Liverpool       31  9  6  0 27  8 10  4  2 28 13 19 10  2  55  21  34 67
 3 Chelsea         31  8  5  2 24  8 11  2  3 27  9 19  7  5  51  17  34 64
 4 Arsenal         31  9  5  2 24 11  7  5  3 26 16 16 10  5  50  27  23 58
 5 Aston Villa     31  5  7  3 21 17 10  0  6 24 22 15  7  9  45  39   6 52
 6 Everton         31  7  5  4 27 17  7  4  4 17 14 14  9  8  44  31  13 51
 7 West Ham United 31  8  2  6 21 17  4  6  5 16 18 12  8 11  37  35   2 44
 8 Wigan Athletic  31  7  4  4 14 12  4  4  8 16 20 11  8 12  30  32  -2 41
 9 Fulham          31  9  3  4 24 13  1  7  7  6 14 10 10 11  30  27   3 40
10 Manchester City 31 10  0  5 31 12  1  5 10 15 27 11  5 15  46  39   7 38
11 Tottenham H.    31  6  5  4 16  9  4  3  9 21 27 10  8 13  37  36   1 38
12 Bolton Wndrs    31  7  2  7 19 19  4  2  9 17 26 11  4 16  36  45  -9 37
13 Stoke City      31  8  4  3 18 13  1  4 11 13 34  9  8 14  31  47 -16 35
14 Blackburn R.    31  4  6  6 18 23  4  4  7 17 27  8 10 13  35  50 -15 34
15 Hull City       31  3  5  8 16 30  5  5  5 19 22  8 10 13  35  52 -17 34
16 Portsmouth      30  6  2  7 20 23  2  7  6 12 23  8  9 13  32  46 -14 33
17 Sunderland      31  5  3  7 17 18  3  5  8 12 23  8  8 15  29  41 -12 32
18 Newcastle Utd   31  4  6  6 21 27  2  5  8 15 24  6 11 14  36  51 -15 29
19 Middlesbrough   31  4  7  4 13 16  2  2 12  9 30  6  9 16  22  46 -24 27
20 West Brom A.    31  5  3  8 20 30  1  3 11  6 27  6  6 19  26  57 -31 24

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1522