Newsletter #1528

News from Alex tonight on the latest transfer rumours with Eto’o, a near miss for Ireland and reaction to the Everton game.

We have opinion on the run-in, a look at Patrick’s favourites and some of the 1969 Cup final memories.

Next Game: Blackburn Rovers, home, 3pm Saturday 2 May 2009


General News

Stevie Misses Out: After a season that has brought him fourteen goals and praise from all corners of the sport, Stevie Ireland has missed out on PFA Young Player of the Year at the final hurdle. The award, which is voted for by fellow players, was handed to Ashley Young, who it must be said has played an integral rôle in Villa’s assault on Arsenal’s fourth spot. Ireland, who has been labeled ‘Superman’ by the City faithful following his famous celebration last season, has led from the front this season and created a partnership with Robinho that, when both play at the top of their game, equals that of Gerrard and Torres or Lampard and Drogba. Though Ireland missed out on the PFA award, he is hotly tipped to take the club’s player of the season award for this campaign and his manager was left a little dumbstruck at the fact Ireland walked away empty handed: “Possibly we are a bit biased, but if the vote had been taken either just before or just after last weekend, then he would have walked it. It is disappointing for Stephen because I think he merits the award, but I was really impressed with his response. Once he got wind that he was not going to get the award his attitude was, ‘I’ll have to win it next year.’ That is exactly what you want from your player – and he has a real drive and a mentality that will enable him to do that, which is a great credit to him.”

Despite not winning the prestigious award, club Skipper Richard Dunne has commended his fellow Irishman and believes that January’s prospective signing Kaka would have struggled to oust the midfielder from his slot in the eleven: “He’s probably priceless. We’ve got the money and could probably afford to buy any player in the world, but you can’t put a price on Stephen for what he’s done this season. He’s been outstanding all season and I don’t think anybody can touch him really in the whole League. For his age, he’s probably the best midfielder in the country at the moment. I just wish he played for Ireland, but he’s playing so well for the club and enjoying himself, just leave him. He’s always had the talent. I don’t think he was on his way in the summer, but he wasn’t playing in the first game of the season – since then he’s been man of the match in every game he’s played! That shows his determination and how much he wants to be part of this club moving forward. And he’s a great example to the kids. People say the young lads won’t get a look in because of the money, but he shows you can be a star here if you work hard and have the ability.”

Sparky’s Spot-Kick Shivers: Revitalised midfielder Elano Blumer has found the form that made him an early season hero last year but it’s not the Brazilian’s form that has his manager talking. When asked about Elano’s penalty technique, manager Mark Hughes admitted that the playmaker’s style is so different from his own that it gives him the shivers to watch as he steps up: “Taking penalties is a confidence thing and when Elano steps up you expect him to score. That’s credit to his ability. But you get somewhat nervous when he’s just jogging lightly up to the ball. I took a few penalties myself and that certainly wasn’t my approach, but he’s obviously got the technique off to a tee. Being able to step up and take key penalties at key moments in high-profile games is a great asset. You can practice the technique – it’s something you have to do – but you can never replicate the emotions and conditions that will prevail when you are taking a penalty in the match itself. You need focus and confidence.”

Squad News

Patience is Key: Elano told the press this week that despite a season of uncertainty and inconsistency, he is keen to be a part of the Blue revolution for many years to come and would be very keen to sign a new deal this summer if the opportunity arose: “I would love to renew my contract at City and remain here for a long time. I love England and I enjoy living in Manchester. I’m very happy here. I’d love to commit myself to City for many years. The fans make me feel very happy and I hope I can do the same for them. This is the end of my second season with City and if it were up to me I would be sat around a table discussing a contract extension right now.”

In response, his manager has told him that with two years remaining on his contract, he is not priority number one, for the time being at least and that he must continue his good form in order to persuade him otherwise: “Elano has two more years left to run on his contract, so it isn’t really a priority at the moment. There are a number of other players with less time on their contract, so they are the ones we will have to look at. Elano is not one of those players that we feel we need to look at and renegotiate terms with. But I have certainly been pleased with him of late and the positive impact that he has had on the team. He has been working really hard for the team and his performance levels have been good. He is having an impact and I am pleased about that. He is enjoying his football and playing in a good team at the moment. His games recently have highlighted the ability we all know he has.”

Hughes’ Headache: The possible return of Shaun Wright Phillips may pose Mark Hughes huge problems this weekend when choosing his squad for the visit of Blackburn Rovers as it may come down to a straight choice between SWP and the in-form Elano but who should play and in what position is all up to the boss: “It’s a case of seeing if there is any reaction to anything that he has done. Pablo Zabaleta is looking positive, but Blackburn looks like it might be a game too soon for him. Ela’s done very well on that right-hand side – it’s a rôle he knows well from playing many times there for Brazil, so there’s an understanding of the rôle. But there is also a willingness to work hard and track back. He was at left-back at one point; he has been criticized at times but he works hard for the team. When everyone is fit and well, I feel the squad is a lot stronger than it was at the start of the season. We have also got the benefit now of the hard work we have put in all year, and we want to finish on a high.”

Bulgarian Boost: The reserve season wound to a climax this week at the Regional Athletics Arena as the Blues overcame a battling Everton side by three goals to one. Despite going a goal behind on the hour mark, a ten minute turnaround from the Blues, led by Martin Petrov and Valeri Bojinov, secured all three points. Bojinov scored his first only seven minutes after the Toffees went ahead and wrapped up his brace three minutes later. It took Petrov only six more minutes to kill the game off in magnificent style as his comeback continued. Hughes explained before the game why it was necessary to play both Bulgarians in the reserve side: “Boji needs more work and will be involved tonight, and Martin is looking to up his fitness so will play as well. We’ll try to get another hour into him; it’s important that we get their fitness levels right for the weekend and have everyone raring to go.”

Johnno Ready to Go: Having spent most of the season sitting out on the sidelines due to injury, Michael Johnson is keen to force his way back into the squad next season and has pledged to work harder than ever before during his summer break. Of the English midfielder’s plans, Hughes stated: “Stevie is a fantastic example for anyone – he has been a shining light. When you get yourself into a good physical condition like he has, it shows what you can achieve with a consistent run of games. Johnno can’t afford to have the whole five or six weeks off completely. He is going to have to work really hard in the summer to make sure that he is fit, well and raring to go on that first day back. We have to hit the ground running when we come back. We’re not going to ease people in, because with the base of the work we have done this year, we are looking to up the work we do in pre-season. Everybody has to come back in good shape.”

Transfer News and Rumours

Eto’o No Go: Whilst it’s true that the Blues have had no contact with Barcelona with regards to a move for Cameroonian striker Samuel Eto’o, Mark Hughes did admit today that Garry Cook had been forging links with the Catalan giants in order to discuss possible deals that may be beneficial to both clubs come the summer: “There has been speculation about players all year long and it is something predictable and that we have learned to live with. The Samuel Eto’o story is because Garry (Cook) is trying to forge relationships with the kind of clubs who, in the past, would not have passed the time of day with City. Now, because of Sheikh Mansour’s involvement, these clubs want to have a relationship with us and talk about plans that can benefit both of us. It is Champions’ League week and maybe some English journos in Spain got wind of a meeting that had taken place, but I don’t think it was about any specific individuals.”

Sporting Chance: 22-year-old defensive midfielder Miguel Veloso is the latest name on the City wish list according to the player’s agent in Portugal. The Sporting Lisbon star, who is prone to take up a position at centre back, similar to Vincent Kompany, is rated at £15 million and has claimed that England is his first choice destination this summer: “There is an agreement with Sporting that he will leave this summer, but we don’t have an agreement with another club”.

All Hart: Joe Hart seems to be priority number one for all those challenging for promotion to the Premier League this season with Birmingham City and Wolverhampton already having declared an interest in signing Hart on loan. The ‘keeper, who lost his number one jersey when Shay Given was signed from Newcastle in January, is believed to be happy at City but would be content to seek first team football elsewhere if it meant helping him cement his first team place in City’s future plans.

Post-Match Reaction

Everton: Not since August had the Blues won an away Premier League fixture and to grab three points from the FA Cup finalists isn’t a bad way of breaking that duck. Though the pundits made out that City’s win came off the back of Everton fatigue, due to their midweek game against Chelsea, it has to be pointed out that the week before City beat West Brom 4-2 only three days after being knocked out of the UEFA Cup. Goals from Robinho and Stevie Ireland were enough to eclipse a last minute strike from Everton youngster Dan Gosling and now the fight for seventh begins. With Fulham, West Ham, Spurs and Wigan all fighting City for a place in Europe next season, Hughes feels that the Blues are the best equipped for the task: “We’ve had decent performances away from home before but not got the breaks. Today I thought we looked really nice and solid. Going into the game, the lads were very much of a mind that this was an opportunity for us. We’re back in the mix up there and it was important that we got back to winning ways away from home. We’re all frustrated by the lack of points on our travels. But we’ve got games at home, where we are very strong, and we’ve always felt if we can win our home games and get a result on the road, we’ll go close. We’re on track. We’ve still got difficult games to come but they’re certainly winnable, and given the fixtures of the other teams around us, we’ve given ourselves the opportunity to possibly get that seventh spot.”

Skipper and former Toffee Richard Dunne spoke of how proud he was of his team and claimed it was just the first step in their quest for Europe: “Everyone can be proud of the way we have played. That was a real team performance – when we have possession, nobody can deal with our skill on the ball, and once we put the work in to go with it, we’re a really good side. We need more performances like this to show the manager we are worthy of playing in his team. He has his plans and he will sign players in the summer, there’s nothing you can do about that. Players are putting in a performance to try and get us a highest Premier finish and hopefully with it Europe. We were disappointed to be knocked out by Hamburg but at the same time determined to get another chance. We realised that if we didn’t win at Everton then it probably wasn’t going to happen for us. Nobody has set a points target. We got three at Goodison but all the games coming up are hard. Blackburn next week are in a relegation battle and then Tottenham are like ourselves, going for that seventh place. But we were determined not to just let this season peter out in a few pointless matches. We really want that European place, and Everton was a great boost given that our away record has been really poor.”

Alex Rowen <news(at)>


The meeting with Laporta did discuss City buying Eto’o and a price of 45 million euros was agreed should it go ahead.

Barça have a rather big hole in their accounts as a TV deal involving the local TV channel here (TV3) and the owner of the TV rights for Spain and Barça has gone belly-up.

The bottom line is that the bottom line needs quick compensation. The banks here cannot help – no one has any money left after CC unemployment has doubled in the last year to 20%, local government is bankrupt. Barça have had to cancel an expensive rebuild of Camp Nou etc. If you think the recession is bad in the UK it’s even worse here.

They have to sell him this summer. That’s a fact and City are prepared to pay the above. No one else will offer anything near that amount (Liverpool have offered a much smaller amount). In an imaginary scenario, should he stay, he leaves the next summer for nothing as his contract finishes then.

Eto’o will be our centre forward from next season. He will score 20 plus/season and will be a sensation.

Patrick Knowles <pjamk(at)>


I’m afraid I must disappoint Matt Easley in his request for City fans who attended the ’69 final. I wasn’t there. In fact, I almost didn’t see the game on TV. My wife’s cousin had thoughtlessly decided to get married on Cup Final day what’s more, in a year that City reached the final. With a bad grace, I decided to attend the wedding but someone up there must have been smiling on me. A few days before the final, my elder daughter went down with German measles. I nobly offered to stay home and look after her.

Incidentally, I would have sworn that Neil Young’s winner came from outside the area but I’ve seen it since on several videos, and it was quite a bit closer than that. Not a bad finish, all the same! I also seem to remember being put out when ‘Sniffer’ Clarke was made man of the match. Not many more memories of the game, but I did like the strip we wore. Maybe one day we’ll go back to it?

David Buxton <dbb26(at)>


Got a ticket through the offices of a business acquaintance of my father’s in Macclesfield who was a United supporter! Standing, with our fans, and a crack of dawn bus from Macc down to Wembley. This was my first visit to Wembley, and the sight of the ground when full, with so many standing still in those days, was a wonderful thing.

I hardly remember the game, except that it was very close. But I do remember clearly the goal, as I was positioned not far behind the goal we scored in, and as soon as I saw Nelly’s left leg prepare to deal with Buzzer’s cross, I knew we were to be one up. As we were.

I do recall the after match celebrations, with Tony Book aloft carrying the cup, and I do recall that we wore our wonderful Milan style away kit, an away kit we have never got close to matching in the following forty years.

And then, the long haul back to Macc, singing and ale on the coach.

Happy day. Happy days. Let’s do it again eh?!

Jeremy Poynton <j.poynton(at)>


It was nice to get the polite responses from Glyn and Jim to my feelings about Corluka and his transfer to Spurs. However, I would respectfully suggest that they read David Conn’s thoughts in Guardian about “Why RB is now the most important position in modern football” as they might reconsider their appraisals about Corluka.

I go everyday to Manchester online and some of the vitriolic exchanges eventually makes me come away in disgust. So a good respectful exchange of opinion is both healthy and fruitful as at the end we are all City mad anyway.

However, this had led me to think that Glyn, Jim and all of you could respond to my resulting thoughts. We are all different and our tastes are a result of that. I for instance love Jazz and Classical music but have only little tolerance for Rock and mediocre Pop (although good pop I do enjoy).

Likewise, the type of football I love can be ascertained from this: the four best players I ever saw at Maine Road, watching from 1954 to the last game there, were Johnny Haynes, Colin Bell, George Best and Oswaldo Ardiles (saw Johann Cruyff at Wembley for Holland, best ever for me that I personally saw and have seen at Camp Nou a list so long of same level of players to above since mid-90’s).

The way all these players could excite and entertain was thrilling to me but the thing that really had me going was their ability to pass long, short or medium and open up the opposition. The Barça midfielders today are past masters at it as were the other Barça players I’ve seen and all started with Cruyff and his protégé Guardiola. Must be in the local bread or something.

The best goal I ever saw at Maine Road was by Cyril Regis for West Brom in about 74/5. Got ball in own half then run through all of City’s midfield and defence and sent a blinder past Joe Corrigan from 20 yards. City were top drawer at that time. All the main stand stood up and applauded him.

Finally, my best ever City team (4-4-2), of only players I actually saw, is: Trautmann, Book, Doyle, Watson, Pardoe, Summerbee, Bell, Hartford, Tueart, Lee and Wyn Davies up front together because of that one very effective season they played together under big Mal.

So how about your 4 best players ever seen at Maine Road/Eastlands, best goal and best City team of all time?

Patrick Knowles <pjamk(at)>


The fab 4 fight it out for the magnificent 7th spot. So how is it going to pan out? We need to ponder the imponderables. If only we took a point from the Fulham game at least!

But they played us at a time when we were tired and I suppose although we played well we caught Everton in a similar vein. Will Everton play out their season in hope for the FA Cup? They will miss Arteta and now Jagielka so fringe players e.g. Gosling will be anxious to play well.

Liverpool and Chelsea will win now as will Man Utd. They are due 1 slip up in the league before the Champions’ League final; will it be us, will lightning strike twice? I shall be pleasantly surprised if it does.

Fulham have a tough run in which will restrict them, and also Woy Hodgson is not bothered by Europe. Spurs will be the team we need to beat or at the least get a draw at the Lane.

West Ham will be in the shake up; they are very good and can see them getting at least 6 from 12 points. You never know if Boro get a good run they may need to fight for a draw on survival Sunday. City will need to win both home games and grab a point or better at Spurs or OT in this case preferably Spurs as they are in “our league” at the minute.

We need to avoid defeat at Spurs; the last time we won was the thrilling but meaningless 3-4 in the cup (I think).

A very peculiar feeling on Saturday tea time of obvious outward disgust but inner relief as Spurs lost. Clearly in the pub we couldn’t cheer the 5 goals but as I went to the urinal after each goal so as not to have to witness the homo erotic celebrations. I quietly and surreptitiously punched the air with glee as Spurs were defeated.

Anyway, the runners and riders:

Fulham          Prediction (pts)        9th
Chelsea (a)     0
Villa (h)       1
Newcastle (a)   0
Everton (h)     1
Final Tally     49

Spurs           Prediction (pts)        10th
WBA (h)         3
Everton (a)     0
City (h)        1
Liverpool (a)   0
Final Tally     47

West Ham        Prediction (pts)        8th
Stoke (a)       1
Liverpool (h)   1
Everton (a)     1
Boro (h)        3
Final Tally     51

City            Predictions (pts)       7th on Goal Difference!
Blackburn (h)   3
Man Utd (a)     0
Spurs (a)       1
Bolton (h)      3
Final Tally     51

Teams                   P       GD      PTS
1       Man Utd         33      38      77
2       Liverpool       34      40      74
3       Chelsea         34      36      71
4       Arsenal         34      28      65
5       Aston Villa     34      6       55
6       Everton         34      12      53
7       Fulham          34      6       47
8       West Ham        34      0       45
9       Man City        34      8       44
10      Tottenham       34      0       44

Nurse nurse!

Phil Lines <phil.lines(at)>


Regarding Ged’s gripe about loyalty points, I have to agree the loyalty points system is a bit of a joke, and has been since day one. For many years now I’ve had to buy away tickets from the lucky few who have enough loyalty points to buy the tickets, but can’t go for some reason. Thing is, I’m just perpetuating the problem, because they get the loyalty points for the games I’m paying for and attending!

I feel the club know of the problem but the system is still in place because of a lack of any decent or fair alternative. The old system, if you could call it a system, was awful except for those of us who knew people working in the ticket office, but less about that…

I can’t think of many reasons why supporters like Ged shouldn’t have their many years of attendance rewarded, but one might be that if some people had an unassailable number of loyalty points it might make the system even more open to abuse. All I can suggest is go to all the games you can possibly make it to and try to build up your points, but unfortunately I think you’re on a hiding to nothing.

Pete <pete(at)>


I got this e-mail from a Rag friend (we do all have one or two). The second part makes for interesting reading. So you buy a season ticket, you have to buy tickets for cup matches, but not in your regular seat. That’s nice. I thought it worth passing on given the question last issue as well about loyalty points; interesting and worrying to see how some clubs deal with ticket applications!

“News today the renewal came through for my season ticket and it has only gone up by £19 so £931 for league games… I can live with that I thought until I read down further; because I have a plum ticket right behind the dug out they are saying anyone in that area won’t be allocated their seat for home cup matches and can be placed anywhere else within the ground. Bearing in mind that the b@st@rds make you buy the tickets whether you want them or not you would think they could at least let you have your own seat… I have 6 weeks to decide to renew or not.”

Andrew Johnson <fastaandyj(at)>


Have you all tried Google labs News Timeline?

Enter “Manchester City” in the search field, select “Day” in the “Show” box, put e.g. “April 18, 2009” in the date field (or even “April 18, 2001” if you like).


You can even add new sources, and I guess it will continue to grow considerably in the future!

Svenn Hanssen <svenn(at)>


Going to Chelsea/Barça match May 6th. So will stay few more days if someone can get me two seats together at “The Swamp”.

For me and Matt to be together to see the new City stuff the Reds would be beyond belief and I’d be glad to return a favour for a visit to a Barça game for someone.

So if you can help please email or contact me on 00.34.686.819.655.

Patrick Knowles <pjamk(at)>


27 April 2009

Newcastle United      0 - 0  Portsmouth            47,481

League table to 29 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  33 15  1  1 41 13  9  4  3 20 10 24  5  4  61  23  38 77
 2 Liverpool       34 10  7  0 35 12 11  4  2 31 14 21 11  2  66  26  40 74
 3 Chelsea         34  9  6  2 28 11 12  2  3 28  9 21  8  5  56  20  36 71
 4 Arsenal         34 10  5  2 26 11  8  6  3 34 21 18 11  5  60  32  28 65
 5 Aston Villa     34  5  9  3 25 21 10  1  6 25 23 15 10  9  50  44   6 55
 6 Everton         34  7  5  5 28 19  7  6  4 20 17 14 11  9  48  36  12 53
 7 Fulham          34 10  3  4 25 13  2  8  7  9 15 12 11 11  34  28   6 47
 8 West Ham United 34  8  2  7 21 18  4  7  6 17 20 12  9 13  38  38   0 45
 9 Manchester City 34 11  0  6 36 17  2  5 10 17 28 13  5 16  53  45   8 44
10 Tottenham H.    34  8  5  4 18  9  4  3 10 23 32 12  8 14  41  41   0 44
11 Wigan Athletic  33  7  4  5 15 16  4  4  9 16 22 11  8 14  31  38  -7 41
12 Stoke City      34  9  5  3 20 14  1  4 12 13 35 10  9 15  33  49 -16 39
13 Bolton Wndrs    34  7  3  7 20 20  4  2 11 20 31 11  5 18  40  51 -11 38
14 Portsmouth      34  7  3  7 23 25  2  8  7 12 25  9 11 14  35  50 -15 38
15 Blackburn R.    34  5  6  6 20 23  4  4  9 17 32  9 10 15  37  55 -18 37
16 Sunderland      34  6  3  8 19 20  3  5  9 12 26  9  8 17  31  46 -15 35
17 Hull City       34  3  5  9 17 33  5  5  7 20 26  8 10 16  37  59 -22 34
18 Newcastle Utd   34  4  7  6 21 27  2  6  9 16 26  6 13 15  37  53 -16 31
19 Middlesbrough   34  5  8  4 16 17  2  2 13  9 32  7 10 17  25  49 -24 31
20 West Brom A.    34  6  3  8 23 30  1  4 12 10 33  7  7 20  33  63 -30 28

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1528