Newsletter #1551

With a win under their belt during the South African tournament, the Blues await to discover which team they will face in Saturday’s final. The match will be streamed live on and we have views tonight on Tuesday night’s game.

We have news from Alex on some behind the scenes point scoring, a look at the new boys and other players moving on, as well as ex-Blues’ news.

There is opinion tonight on the way the squad is taking shape, and a look at things to come.

Next Game: Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates, away, 3pm Saturday 25 July (pre-season)


General News

Welcome to Manchester: Whilst the squad spent the week travelling from Abu Dhabi to Durban, one event a little closer to home has had fans really talking. Manchester city centre has a new occupant, a huge billboard with the words ‘Welcome to Manchester’ written across it. However, this is not a sign of city pride but of club pride. The sky blue background plays host to the quote in large, white letters accompanied by a large white picture of Carlos Tevez. Again City’s backroom staff have earned themselves some brownie points with the fans in a marketing exercise that will have point many United fans’ noses right out of joint.

Cook in City Sheikh-Up: The recent goings-on at City have had the world of football split in their opinion of the club’s new regime but Executive Chairman Garry Cook has answered the club’s critics by explaining that the club’s current actions are not a matter of short-term spend/success but a matter of making a legacy that the club can be proud for years to come and that the fans have warranted after decades of loyalty: “This isn’t really about spending. I’d like to just make sure the message is clear that we’re investing in the future of the football club. The investments that we’re making currently will define the football club for the next 10 years. I think when you do that to compete with the top four in the Premier League you have to invest to reach those new levels. It stops when Mark feels that he’s got the right quality of players in the squad. Definitely we’re limited by virtue of a window of opportunity to buy those players. So I think the players that we’ve acquired will add strength to the squad and that’s the ambition. I think Man City has a strong heritage in the world of football, particularly in England. We’ve become the focus of attention, most definitely in the past 12 months. The quality of players that we’re bringing to the club is showing the intent of our owners and our ambition continues to reach new heights. When you start to see that, that attention starts to develop a fan base around the world. I think what this event does for us is enable us to reach out to those fans and reach out to those new communities. Everybody likes to have fans around the world and not just in Manchester, so we hope we will become the darling of world football.”

A Whiff of Fear? Sir Alex Ferguson has dedicated a large section of his summer to criticizing the new set-up at City and claiming that money won’t buy instant success. This week the former Aberdeen manager stated that City are no ‘real challenge’ to United’s title defence and has questioned the worth of £25 million striker Carlos Tevez who refused the offer to remain at Old Trafford only six weeks ago: “We are being challenged for the back pages. Manchester City are getting all the back page stories and they will hold that position for the rest of the season because there is a lot of interest in what they have done and a lot of speculation about whether it is going to work. But I cannot look at Manchester City as our main competitors. Liverpool and Chelsea are our main competitors. There is no doubt about that. It won’t be easy for them to win anything, even with all the players they have bought. They have bought a lot of high profile players but they have 10 strikers. That is a hell of a lot. How do you tell players they are not even going to be travelling to London? How does he pick a team? We are all interested. I am in charge of a football club that has the right philosophy. I have had fantastic moments here. I have 76,000 watching my team in every home game. I shouldn’t really concern myself about another team in the same city, no matter what they do.”

Goals for Miracles: Many fans will assume that the Citizens have traveled to South Africa this summer simply to play football in the sun, yet this isn’t true. Taking time out of their pre-season preparations, Wayne Bridge, Vladimir Weiss and Nigel de Jong all spent time in the St Augustin’s medical centre in order to promote the “Goals for Miracles” campaign. The campaign, which focuses on aiding the sight of those suffering from various medical conditions in South Africa, has been calling out for aid in recent months and the Blues were more than willing to help out. Dutch midfielder Nigel de Jong told of how worthy he felt the cause was: “This is a good project, football can open a lot of doors and I have seen that here today. Speaking to the ladies here who had their sight back within a week or even a day, it tells you what great things can happen in the medical world today. We’re all blessed with our own good health, and if we can give a little bit back by raising money, why not?”

Summerbee Tips City for Super Six: Whilst some Blues will be dreaming of the Premier League and others of Champions’ League football, City legend Mike Summerbee would be content with a top six spot. City’s huge wealth has led to expectations of the club breaking into the top four and yet with competition from Aston Villa and Everton to fend off, Summerbee acknowledges the sensible aspirations of the club’s Arabian owners and also recognizes Hughes as the right man for the job: “I am a great believer in the manager that Mark Hughes is. He has worked wonders since he has been at City. It is a marvellous thing and good for the game and for relations with the UAE. The new ownership has injected new life into Manchester City. Hughes has assembled a great squad. He will blend it into a great side with the young players alongside the matured and star players. You need a squad of players first and he has a squad. You need a squad so that you can plan different formations for home and away games. English football is a very, very unpredictable game. We should be one of the top six teams this season. He [Hughes] knows what he is doing. There is still a few more weeks left for transfers. I am sure he will secure the balance of that he is looking for in the team. Anyway we already have some good defensive players. He is a disciplinarian both on and off the field. There is a bit of Alex Ferguson in him. I think the club is in for some exciting times with this squad under Hughes.”

Current City star Robinho however believes that there is no longer a ‘big four’ and that City’s current squad of top name signings signal a new era in the Premier League where people will speak of a ‘big five’: “There is no longer a top four. We have made it a top five. From this season we have to go in with the mindset we’re one of the very best clubs. I’m delighted we’ve signed Tevez. He is a world-class player and it would be fantastic for me to play alongside him. It was a shame the Samuel Eto’o deal couldn’t happen for whatever reason, because he is another world-class player and the sort this club is looking to sign at the moment. But we have already signed Santa Cruz and now there is the possibility of Adebayor as well. While I’ve always urged the club to sign players like Tevez and Kaka when there has been a chance, I also know you have to build from the back. You can have the best attacking six players in the world, but unless the defence complements it then you will not win anything. I don’t know anything about the John Terry deal apart from what I have read, but he is the sort of world-class leader we need at the back. If the players we have signed and the players we may sign all work well together then on our day we can become unbeatable – and not just in England, but in Europe as well. We will be looking to win all the competitions we are in and that means having a squad of world class players. All the top clubs have players competing for places, and we now have to look at ourselves as a top club. People will need to start taking us very seriously.”

Squad News

Ready for the Roque Road: Though millions of pounds has already been spent this summer, all those connected to the club know not to expect an easy ride this season, none more so than former Blackburn striker Roque Santa Cruz who will face immense competition to make it into the City XI. The Paraguayan was the first striker to sign for the Blues this term and was swiftly followed by Carlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor yet despite this competition, Cruz is confident of making at name for himself at CoMS: “At any club there will be a lot of competition for a place in the team, but that is what makes things exciting. I’m very proud to be here at the beginning of an exciting time, but of course I am confident about my chance of getting into the team. There will always be times when you’re not at your best, but we all understand that. We’re to start to take the team where we want to go. I know there are a lot of great strikers here now, but I know that if I do as well as I can, I have a great chance and the team will benefit as well.”

Johnno’s Vodacom Challenge: The Blues went head to head with South African runners-up Orlando Pirates last weekend and for the first time in ten months, City fans got a glimpse of talented midfielder Michael Johnson. The former England under 21 international, who spent the whole of last season recovering from a pelvic injury, spent forty five minutes on the field for the Blues and though the side came away with nothing, Johnno believes that the match time has done him the world of good: “I feel pretty well, and I’m glad to get it under my belt. It’s more fitness work, which I needed, but I felt good afterwards and I’m just looking to get stronger now. I would have liked a bit longer in my heart of hearts, but 45 minutes was fine and playing was all I wanted to do. I just wanted to play myself into the game, I started slowly but I gradually got into it a lot more. I keep getting stronger every time I train and play and I just want to keep working at it. For the rest of the tour I just want to keep playing as much as I can, keep training and get fitter, that’s what it’s all about at this time of the year.”

Transfer News and Rumours

Give Him the Ball and He Will Score: £25 million and eight syllables worth of player arrived at Eastlands this week as fans were momentarily stumped as to how to incorporate his name into a club chant. Emmanuel Adebayor is the latest signing and the former Arsenal striker is yet another statement of intent by the club that we are on the track to bigger and better things. Having bought one player from United, one player from Arsenal, talks ongoing in the John Terry saga and rumours arising about a possible bid for Liverpool’s Xabi Alonso, City’s financial might is proving that no longer do the ‘big four’ hold all the power in the league. Adebayor has recognised that and has promised fans that his move is not based on purely financial reasons: “I was born to play football and that is what I want to do. I have come here to make history for this club and those supporters. It what the chairman and the manager told me that they want too and I can’t wait to get started. It (the welcome he received upon his arrival at CoMS) made me feel really welcome and special and I can’t wait to play for City’s fans and show them what I can do. People who think that I have joined City for the money are wrong. If I had made a move for that reason then I would have been playing for Barcelona or Milan last season. They gave me bigger offers than Arsenal did for me to stay. I am here because I was impressed by the way the chairman at City spoke to me about the ambition of this club. I want to be part of a club that is aiming to be one of the biggest in the world.”

City boss Mark Hughes expressed his delight with the club signing the four times Togolese Player of the Year: “Emmanuel has been one of the top forwards in the Premier League since he arrived from France and we are delighted he has agreed to come and join us. Along with the other signings we have made in the last two windows he will greatly enhance our ability to compete with the top sides. His arrival is another clear indication that we are determined to augment the players we have here with the best of international talent. He adds vital balance and power to our attack. He has everything a top forward needs. He is versatile, powerful, quick and agile on the ball. I am looking forward to working with him as are the rest of the staff. He will definitely add a new dimension to our play. I have been a great admirer for a long time.”

Defensive Duty: Vincent Kompany’s toe injury and Micah Richards’ illness are two reasons for the club to start signing some defenders and yet the task seems much more difficult than the theory. The situation regarding John Terry is no clearer than it has been over previous weeks with City continuing to express an interest and Chelsea rejecting that interest. The key to this move would seem to be where Terry’s loyalties lie and whether £40 million is enough to tempt Ancelotti into selling. Various media reports thid week suggested that the London club were ready to report City to the FA for tapping up the England skipper but manager Carlo Ancelotti poured scorn on such rumours. If that deal were to fail, then the Blues are also in talks with Everton regarding a move for Joleon Lescott. £18 million is the figure being naded about though again it would seem that the finer details of any possible deal are yet to be ironed out and a transfer request by Lescott may be very helpful to City’s pursuit. It’s possible that Nedum Onuoha may be used as a makeweight in any deal that would bring Lescott to CoMS yet this is likely to rile City fans who would hate to lose a player whose performances over the last two years have turned him into something of a fan favourite. Another defender whose name is being mentioned on the MEN back pages these days is Javier Garrido and whilst the signing of Wayne Bridge looked set to signal the end of the Spaniard’s stay, the club has yet to ask Garrido to find himself alternative employment. This week though, Spanish club Racing Santander did declare an interest in the left back and the club are awaiting an official offer before deciding where Garrido’s future lies.

Bulgarian Express Departing? This seaosn was expected to be the one where former Juventus striker Valeri Bojinov proved that he could cut it in the Premier League but City’s recent spend means that the Bulgarian may be on his way out of the club. With Lazio, Napoli and Sampdoria all reportedly interested, Boji’s agent has asserted that his client would be happy to talk to Lazio if City accepted a bid for the player: “Would he agree to join Lazio? Of course. Valeri still feels Italian and hopes to come back. Lazio are a club no one could reject. It’s a top team and [president Claudio] Lotito has done an excellent job. Bojinov has fully recovered from his injury, as proved by his goal against 1860 Munich, and the Citizens have confirmed they have faith in him. Lazio are an interesting idea, but I’ll be able to say more when there is a concrete offer.”

In His Father’s Footsteps: Having joined the club as part of the deal which saw his father sign for City, Kasper Schmeichel may be set to join another of his father’s former clubs. Martin O’Neill expressed an interest in the young Danish international this week and it is reported that the 22-year-old would be very interested to talk to the Midlands side. With Given, Taylor and Hart currently on the books at City, Schmeichel finds himself a fair way down the pecking order and may leave in search of a side where he could be nurtured into a goalkeeper capable of successing current Villa number one Brad Friedel. Reports had suggested that Kasper was close to signing for Scottish side Hibernian though with Premier League interest now revealed, he may be persuaded to remain in England.

Post-Match Reaction

Pirates Sink Blues as Stevie Shows Kaizers Who’s Chief: A week of mixed fortunes for the Blues as the South African sides posed very different challenges. The Orlando Pirates showed skill, flair and desire and came away with a 2-0 victory against a heavily weakened City side. Three days later, the Kaizer Chiefs were beaten by a single Stevie Ireland goal having battled hard to gain something from a game from which they were maybe due a draw. The Blues now look to play in the final of Vodacom Challenge but will await the Pirates vs. Chiefs fixture before discovering whether or not they will progress. Hughes spoke of the Kaizer game in a late night press conference: “It was a pleasing result, it’s always nice to win and I thought it was a good test because the Chiefs were a month into their preparations for their new season. Some of our guys have only had four days rather than four weeks, and that was a concern before the game. I thought we acquitted ourselves very well; there were a lot of plusses. Gareth Barry looked really assured, as I expected him to be. He recognised danger and nipped things in the bud quickly, and we had two young guys at the back that enjoyed the experience and looked very accomplished. Ryan (McGivern) and Ben (Mee) have been around the senior squad for a year, but not within the senior group to travel away. That’s part of their learning experience, they are comfortable in this environment and that’s pleased me. Tuesday was an opportunity and it looked like they really enjoyed it.”

Ex-Blues’ News

Sven-Sational: It was only last week that I wrote about Sven’s search for a new job and how managing the national squad was top of his lists of priorities and yet only one week later it seems that this has all changed. Sven Goran Eriksson shocked the world of football yesterday when he signed up as the director of football for League Two side Notts County. Rumours arose on Tuesday morning that the former England and City manager was being lined up to become manager of the recently taken over side but it wasn’t until Wednesday that his position as director of football was confirmed. Sven has claimed that to be involved in such a different project was the reason behind his move to the world’s oldest football club and even quipped that “I always said I wanted to return to the Premier League, I’m just choosing to do it in a different way”: “I am particularly attracted to this rôle and the unique opportunity to help build a club over the longer term. I will be responsible for all aspects of the football side of the club and in line with the aspirations of the new owners, wish to build the club at the heart of the community. I started my football management career at a small lower division Swedish club and we managed to get them into the top flight. I can think of no better challenge than to attempt to do that again but this time with the world’s oldest football club, where we can add to a proud tradition and hopefully bring some richly deserved success. We hope to leave a long lasting football legacy for Notts County FC and its fans.”

Weaving His Magic: Former City ‘keeper Nicky Weaver has been offered a trial by Championship club Preston North End following his release by relegated Charlton Athletic. The hero of City’s 1999 Play-Off final has spent the close season looking for a new club and Preston manager Alan Irvine has said that if Weaver can prove himself on trial, then he has the potential to be a great goalie for North End: “We’ve had the opportunity to bring Nicky Weaver in to do a bit of training and to play a game so we’ve decided to take that. Everybody knows he’s a proven goalkeeper at this level and Premier League level. He’s got a very good CV and we’ll wait and see what happens over the next week.”

Alex Rowen <news(at)>


Along with nearly 30,000 others I tuned in to the video stream of the game. How long now, with the global branding targets, before we have CityTV?

I’m not going to write a match report as I’m sure most of the readers of this august tome were among the 30,000.

Right now let me tell you (with a nod to the SA summariser) I thought we did well in the first half with what was still a mixture of youth and experience and with Gareth Barry making his début. Barry looked the class act he is throughout the game, up to his substitution.

Stevie Ireland was, well, Stevie Ireland. He is certainly as good a box to box, tackling, goal scoring midfielder as Gerrard and Lampard. In fact I’d put him ahead of Lampard now.

I was still a little concerned with the distribution of de Jong and Zabaleta who both have a habit of making misplaced passes in dangerous positions, usually with the defence streaming out behind them.

Right now let me tell you, in the two games I’ve seen, Stuart Taylor does not overfill my confidence cup. Maybe he’ll improve as he settles in?

City made changes in the second half with Zabaleta and de Jong the only two likely starters against Blackburn to finish the game. Our passing in the second half was dire and we invited KC to keep piling forward. They should have had an equaliser and we were lucky to escape. The players, particularly Etuhu, looked very leaden-legged towards the end. I think it was this tiredness that led to Etuhu missing a glorious chance after rounding the goalkeeper.

Stars of the night for me were Mee and McGivern at the back. I thought they were outstanding and proved once again that our wonderful Academy is still a rich seam for future talent.

Along with everyone else I can’t wait to see the make-up of our Premier League challenging team for this coming season.

Dave Kilroy <dave.kilroy(at)>


Anyone who wants to watch the Final in Pretoria just go to the new, revamped website and you can watch it for free. I watched the match against the Chiefs (along with 21,000 others).

Quality is HD and it’s the clearest streaming I’ve ever seen. Kick Off at 2 pm UK time.

Kev Pollitt <kevpollitt(at)>


We now have Santa Cruz, Tevez and Adebayor plus 6 other strikers… A tad too top heavy? These 3 strikers are all top class, so I have no problem with them joining City, it gives Hughes plenty of options, especially if we have any injuries. What he is going to do with the likes of Bellamy, Caicedo, Benjani, Evans and the like is going to be interesting. I guess the only one he will retain is Bellamy as he signed him up. What’s going to happen to Elano?

Adebayor will be a good signing, he is quality and you only have to look what he did to us at Arsenal last season: he scored both goals in a 2-0 win! I don’t care if all the players that join City come for the money, what do all of us do when we go for a job (generally, we do so for the dosh!)? As long as they do the business on the pitch, why should I care? Football is now an entertainment industry, and I want City to have the best players possible, to win and entertain me too. Just look at the NFL and the NBA; most often than not the teams with the best players end up winning, hence the large sums involved in transfer fees and salaries. Our owners can afford it, so let’s just jump aboard and ride the gravy train whilst it lasts!

In my opinion, what we desperately need though, is a quality back 4. I am still not impressed with Bridge (maybe he will prove me wrong this season?). I thought Onuoha was getting better all the time once he slotted into centre half, so it will be a shame if he is off-loaded in any potential deals for new defenders. Dunne has been a loyal servant but his best days are behind him (last season was a nightmare). Richards has cameos where he looks great but generally he is caught out of position, leaving one of the centre halves to mop op or get drawn out of position. So if I was Hughes, I would look to get at least 3 new defenders as cover; no good having a strong front line if we look poor at the back. Considering we put in a bid for Glen Johnson, it obviously means we were looking for a quality right back – perhaps Maicon?

Regarding chasing John Terry, I can see why MH is after him; he could be the inspirational Captain and leader at the back, who just might have a big influence on the whole team (squad). He could be the glue that holds the team together – that’s probably why we are offering so much dosh.

Personally, I think we should go after Fulham’s Brede Hangeland, a tall commanding centre half (6ft 5ins tall). A friend of mine went to see the Rags at Fulham last season, and was very impressed with Hangeland and Pantsil, and he considered them to be the best 2 players on the park! We then would have the height needed at the back and would also have 2 tall strikers up front. Too often last season, our team got bullied by teams like Blackburn and Stoke; hopefully now, we will have the physicality to match these teams like for like.

Sadly as the season gets nearer, Hughes will have to let go of quite a few players, some who have been good servants to the Club and others who have just not been able to cut it… but they all played in the City shirt, so they must be thanked.

I just hope we put out a stronger side in our last 2 matches in South Africa, and hopefully win them both. I hate seeing City lose any match, especially with our current high profile around the world.

Come on you Blues!

Glyn Albuquerque <glynalbuquerque(at)>


I stand by my remarks in the last edition of McV as regards to pre-season games, but by the same token I see Keith Sharpe’s reason for being upset that City did not field a stronger team in the first game in South Africa versus Orlando Pirates; not only were the Pirates’ fans upset by it, but the travelling City fans too.

The next game should see a stronger City team, and the Kaizer Chiefs have pleaded for City to field a stronger side so that their team can be tested against it.

I agree that it did nothing to help the MCFC global image but the truth is that the global image will come from how well we do next season in the Premier League; the pre-season games are to get ready for the Premier League… and maybe a last chance for some players to stay with the club or be off? But whilst in the host nation, MCFC must leave a very good impression, and so far it has not happened.

MCFC now have nine known strikers: Adebayor, Tevez, Robhino, Rocky, Bellamy, Bojinov, Caicedo, Benjani, Evans, plus Jo who is out on loan to Everton. Before the season starts it is quite possible that two or three of these players will leave the club, remember that MCFC said that they would sign the players before they would release any. Come February Adebayor will be off to the African Nations Cup, so we have plenty of cover for that.

Last season towards the last games we became short of strikers, with so many injured; as long as all the players have the mentality of it’s a squad of players and together they can win, City should be ready for anything up front; Sparky’s main thing is to keep them all happy.

The midfield has been strengthened with the addition of Gareth Barry, and with Nigel de Jong, SWeeP, Ireland, Kompany, Etuhu, Weiss, and the return of Michael Johnson, the midfield looks strong. I have left out Elano not knowing his position with the club, so much talk about him being unsettled, and not wanting to be on the bench, not a squad player? There will always be special situations to use different players for certain games, it’s all part of the technical side of today’s game.

If Elano leaves I guess it would not hurt to bring in one more very good midfield player or Elano backs down and says he is prepared to play when needed?

It is our defence that needs strengthening especially in the central defence, and it appears that the club is making strong efforts to fulfil that need.

Our goalkeeping looks OK, and MCFC could not keep Joe Hart on the bench, and did the right thing in lending him out so that he will improve.

We must not forget that there are some Academy players who might come through.

So are we ready for the new season yet? No we are not but we are definitely on the right tracks. We now wait with eagerness to see if central defenders come in. Of course I write this before the Chiefs vs. City game.

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


So Bacon-face is gnashing his teeth huh! Trouble is old Bacon-face as one of our readers called him, has more Premier Leagues and Cups than the rest of the Premier League combined, so I guess he can gnash his teeth, drink his wine, get rid of players he doesn’t like or want, and generally p**s City fans off!

If the rôles were reversed, and Sir Alex was manager of our great club and brought Premier League and Cup success year after year, then he would be hailed as the 3rd Messiah, behind the good Lord and Kevin Keegan!

Regardless of what we all think of him, football is based on results. He’s got ’em, we haven’t, end of story. Time to move on and hope that Mark Hughes may have inherited some of Freguson’s winning mentality.

Let’s hope it starts this season.

Kevin Williamson <scribbs(at)>

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Newsletter #1551