Newsletter #1555

Defeat by Rangers on Wednesday night, so some work still to do ahead of the season proper starting. We have opinion on the games tonight, reaction to Colin Schindler’s recent article and the usual requests.

New from Alex on the latest attention the Club is attracting, more transfer moves with Boj back to Italy and the Lescott bid still bubbling away and reaction to the pre-season thus far.

Finally, for those heading out to Barcelona there’s a useful fans’ guide on the official website here:

Next up the return of Samaras with Celtic.

Next Game: Celtic, home, 3pm Saturday 8 August (pre-season)


General News

Project Blue: That buzzword has been banded about ever since the Arab takeover of the club but this week manager Mark Hughes came to the defence of his new signings by asserting they are not in it for the money but rather they have signed in order to join the City ‘project’. A top half finish last season was seen as progress but after the summer spending, City’s owners will be hoping that European Football is not too far fetched an idea this season. Hughes also thinks that his players are thinking this way too and though he admits that the huge wages being offered are obviously tempting, it is the football that matters and as such his players will give their all for the club: “We would like to think we have something different, something players can understand. Once we get the opportunity to speak to them, they very quickly get as excited as we are about what could happen at this club in the future. It is about sitting down in front of these top players and telling them what we know will happen. These guys are all wealthy individuals. It’s not about money at this level but about ambition, stimulation and giving them something to be really excited about, and we offer that at the moment.”

Most recent signing Kolo Toure agrees with his new manager and understands that the club will come under much more scrutiny this season given their financial situation: “You see people talking because they don’t know what to expect. But it depends on us now, and we don’t have to think about the others any more. When things are going well, and people are really happy, and say ‘Yeah, blah, blah, blah, it’s good’. But when things are not good, they start talking. But we can’t expect anything from the others – we need to focus on what we need to do. We are going to have some hard days and some good days as well. We know what to expect. We are intelligent enough to know what to do. If we work hard and are as professional we can, we can get there.”

Football Administration Officer Brian Marwood believes that changes to the whole structure of MCFC will provide the platform for success: “Everywhere you go at this club, there is change. The Academy, Carrington, the stadium – there is something changing at each one. The feeling I get is there is a real belief here now. We have tended to talk a good game in the past, but now things are actually happening. But it’s pointless talking about things unless they do happen. Talk is cheap, and we need to do many things better to improve and I am not going to kid anyone by saying that we are the finished article, because we are not. We still have a huge amount of work ahead of us. What I can say is that there are a lot of really good people working hard at this club to make it all work for the benefit of the club. Looking at the fans, to have 47,000 here for the last game of the season, against Bolton, when we finished 10th, that is an incredible achievement. The base is here, we just need to make sure we meet the ambitions of everybody concerned.”

Policy in Practice: With many of his Premier League contemporaries criticizing the way City are currently doing business in the transfer market, Hughes has supported the way the club is approaching players. Whilst the signings of Gareth Barry and Emmanuel Adebayor seemed to be clean cut, various top names within the sport feel that the Citizens’ pursuits of other targets, in particular that of Joleon Lescott, have been most unsporting but Sparky doesn’t agree and has gone about explaining how it is the club tries to attract world class talent to the club: “We’ll make no secret of the fact we’re strengthening the team. We have a list of Category A players of the type that will enable us to be successful in the future. There’s no difference in the quality of players we’ve targeted. We’re looking at players who will be at the same level to help us progress. John Terry was on that list and Kolo very much so. We don’t move from one player to a lesser player, we go from one player to next at that level. We’re progressing nicely, the business we’ve already done is exceptional. We’re pleased with the quality we’ve been able to bring to this point.”

Nev-er the Way We’d Do Business: One such critic of City’s transfer policy has been Everton skipper Phil Neville who believes that the way City have gone about signing Toffees’ centre back Joleon Lescott is simply unethical. Neville stated that he can understand the way that City are spending the money that they have at their disposal but he also asserted that if a club says “No” that should be the end of it. The former United defender did take time out to pay tribute to the England capped City target who has remained professional throughout this complex saga: “The club have turned down two offers and the manager is not prepared to sell him. Let’s move on and let’s look forward to the new season. Will City get the message? The way they are going about their business, I don’t think they will. There are ways and means of doing things – and Everton do it the right way. It’s not a nice situation for any player to be in when there is lots of speculation but Joleon has remained tight to the group throughout. His professionalism is second to none and he has been outstanding on this tour. We can only take things on face value.”

The Bigger Picture: Only days after the club sold Brazilian maestro Elano, City manager Mark Hughes has moved quickly to dismiss reports that the move was based on last season’s reported dispute between player and manager. The inconsistent midfielder had supposedly criticized his manager last season after his failure to establish himself in the first eleven but Hughes clarified that the transfer was based solely on Elano’s desire to play first team football and the opportunity to blood further youngsters into the senior squad: “The thing with Ela is that I couldn’t guarantee he would play every game and I think that he is the type of player who wants to play week in and week out and if he doesn’t do so then he gets frustrated with his situation. It is a big year for him with the World Cup at the end of it and he wants to be involved with Brazil so I think he came to the conclusion that the move was a good one when it was presented. From our point of view we have other players who can operate in that position with Stephen Ireland and Shaun Wright-Phillips on the right and we have a young talent in Vladi Weiss, too, and the move frees up his development path. Those were all the considerations we took on board when we allowed Elano to go.”

Squad News

Oh to be Loved: £16 million signing Kolo Toure has explained this week why he turned his back on Champions’ League football in order to join the ‘City project’ and that reason is love. Following seven years at Arsenal, the Ivorian claimed that he had become comfortable at the Emirates and needed something extra to help his career progress; this proved to be the desire that City showed to sign him. “City showed they really wanted me. I always say when you love a woman and she gives back the love, you are really happy. That’s what Manchester City have done… given me the love. I am really delighted and I aim to give back the love as well. I was at Arsenal for seven years and sometimes you need a new challenge in your life. I was the last one of the ‘Invincible’ team and I was expecting to leave. For me it was important to go at the right time when I am capable of doing a good job for another club. I did not want to leave England, and neither did my family, because I love the football. I am 28 and think I am in my prime.” The 28-year-old understands that his move to City will mean an unfamiliar lack of European football but should the club fulfill their potential, Toure expects to be back in the continental spotlight sooner rather than later: “We must try to make the top six or four – that would be fantastic. That is why I am here – and City have some fantastic players. We are going to work for it. The club is getting bigger and going the right way. It is going to be really difficult. We will need commitment and spirit. I will give my maximum for the club so that City are one of the best teams in England.”

Nothing’s a Given: Despite a pre-season where the Blues have won only one game, City goalkeeper Shay Given has maintained that it is a matter of performance over results and until the final whistle goes for City’s first competitive game, the newly formed squad should not be judged: “I was at Blackburn as a player and I don’t think they won a game pre-season the year that they went on to win the Premier League. Pre-season is all about getting players games. In the back of everyone’s mind it is all about Blackburn in a couple of weeks and hopefully we will have everyone fit and firing then. We had a number of chances on Saturday and it is just about sharpening ourselves up. We had a good few chances but their ‘keeper made a couple of good saves and we missed a few but we are coming together nicely. The big thing at Barnsley was getting the fitness levels up and the sharpness in front of goal will come. We will be better for that game. There is some exciting quality on the pitch in front of me and I am sure it will be an exciting season. We have some fantastic players in City shirts.”

Superman’s Susceptible Too: Following a spending spree of more than £80 million this summer, City options are extensive in all areas and even the club’s player of the season considers his place to be under threat next term should he fail to impress. Stevie Ireland’s performances last season led to a nomination for the League’s Young Player of the Year award and once again proved that City’s reliance on academy talent continues to produce results but the Republic of Ireland international deems complacency as a threat to his place in City’s eleven: “You can tell from our training sessions how intense the competition is. There is quality all over the place and everyone has one aim and that is to be in the team that Mark Hughes names at Ewood Park on August 15. Just being in this squad is an amazing feeling. Everyone knows that they will have to play well week in week out just to keep hold of the shirt. What the new signings have done already is give the manger so many more options particularly in attack and like I have said before that is definitely a good thing because at times last season other sides had worked out how to stop us. There is an amazing spirit about the place at the moment and a lot of anticipation and excitement. The squad is gelling really well. Kolo Toure came in this week and fitted straight in as if he had been here for years. All the people who have come in this summer are great people and they have all helped improve the group. We all know what we want to achieve this season and we all know we will have to work really hard and together to make sure that happens. We want to really go for it.”

Winging His Way Up the Order: 19-year-old Vladmir Weiss is hotly tipped to be the next big thing to have graduated from the City Academy but where he currently stands with regards to the senior squad remains unclear. The Slovakian winger has played in the Blues’ tours of Germany and South Africa so far this pre-season and he hopes to be a hit when playing in the blue of the Citizens this season though he has failed to rule out a loan move: “There have been so many attacking players coming in recently that maybe I would think I would not get a chance. But I don’t think like that – if you have the talent you can make it anywhere but you have to keep trying. I was really happy to get my déebut last season, and now the manager has given me a couple more chances in South Africa and in Germany before that, so I’m pleased with how things are for me now. I’ll have to wait and see if I am sent out on loan, but I would really like to stay and have more chances here because I am so happy with how it is for me here now. It’s great that he (Hughes) believes in me, so I have to give it my best all the time now. You have to work very hard to impress the manager, as well as my team-mates and the fans too. Last year was my first year out of the Academy in men’s football, and I found it a little hard to begin with because it is such a big step from one to the other. I knew after the pre-season games last year that I needed to get stronger and fitter, so I did my best and it was great to get my chance against Bolton at the end of the season. You have to go through that first step and it’s always going to be hard, so now I’ve got my début I’m looking to get some more games under my belt.”

Time to Heel: A pre-season of discontent has surrounded Carlos Tevez all summer with his long transfer saga quickly followed up by an injury to the Argentinean’s heel, which has kept him out of the Blues’ recent schedule. Now Mark Hughes is hoping that Arentina coach Diego Maradona will be sensible when it comes to selecting his international squad next week and choose to leave Tevez out on this occasion so that he is given sufficient time to recover from his injury: “We don’t think Carlos should play for his international team and we’d prefer him to stay back next week. The Argentine doctor came over and he’ll be speaking to Maradona today. He’ll probably want to check and see how Carlos is now. Ideally, I’d prefer that he wasn’t selected. He’s not trained all pre-season. He had an injury from his last international then banged the same area when he slipped in the shower in South Africa. He’ll be fine for the start of the season, but he’s still not able to put his full weight on it.”

Transfer News and Rumours

Moving Forward: Bulgarian forward Valeri Bojinov has transferred back to the Italian Serie A in an attempt to prove his worth to the Manchester club. Boj’ has spent the majority of the last two seasons sat in the physiotherapists’ office having suffered two major injuries during his two seasons at CoMS. The former Juventus striker has now moved on loan to recently promoted Parma due to this summer’s influx of strikers at City and ‘The Bulgarian Rooney’ hopes that the move will place him back in contention for a starting XI place when he returns to the Premier League: “Parma were the only team that wanted me and they did everything to have me here. I know we will have a good time together. We have to work hard and show our worth. We have to understand we need to honour the shirt for the club and the fans. We have to work towards our objective, and that is to do well in Serie A. Parma are an important team and I am looking ahead. Following my past injuries, I am hoping to do well. I understand Parma will give me great satisfaction this season and I hope to be fully ready for the start of the season. This is the right atmosphere for me. I’m not promising anything, only a lot of enjoyment for us and for the fans. We have to work and sweat for this shirt. I know with certainty what I can give if I am good physically. I am happy to have returned here and to have the opportunity to play in the Parma shirt. I am happy to be playing again in Serie A.”

Lescott Leaving? Rumours of a move for Newcastle’s Sebastien Bassong, Blackburn’s Cristian Samba or even a sensational return for former favourite Sylvain Distin have arisen this week but still the Lescott saga rumbles on. Newspapers reported that the England international was preparing a written transfer request to send to Toffees’ Chairman Bill Kenwright in order to push through a £22 million move to City though nothing definite has materialized. Speculation was, however, fuelled when Everton declared their interest in Arsenal centre back Phillipe Senderos and the issue remains unresolved for another week.

Abra-Ka-Rasmus: Under 21 European Championship sensation Rasmus Elm has been linked with a move to the Premier League this season with Everton and City leading the way. Elm was labelled a magician of sport in this season’s international competition and Though the Blues missed out on Leeds youngster Fabian Delph this week as he signed for Aston Villa, City believe that Sweish striker Elm will be one to watch in the future. The 21-year-old has stated that he is very proud to have been linked with clubs of such high calibre though it may be the Merseyside club who provide the greatest attraction for the FF Kalmar forward as things stand: “City have spoken to my agent. It’s both fun and flattering that a big club like them show interest in me. I don’t feel that it is negative that many clubs come to watch me. It’s just a boost, as it shows that I am on the right track. I want to join a club where the coach gives me big confidence. I got a good impression of David Moyes. I don’t close the door to any league, but the Premier League is more tempting than the Eredivisie. The overall picture is important, but the biggest club is not necessarily the right one for me.”

Post-Match Reaction

Returning the Favour: City’s multi-million pound squad came up against Championship side Barnsley last weekend and found that despite 30+ attempts on goal, City’s world class strike force couldn’t find the back of the net until the dying moments when Martin Petrov’s tap-in saved the club some very embarrassing headlines with a 1-1 draw. The game was played as a favour to Barnsley who loaned out their Oakwell stadium last year for City’s UEFA Cup home tie against EB/Streymur when CoMS was undergoing its close season events but far from being a pre-season walkover, Simon Davey’s side provided a stern test and with only a fortnight to go before the new campaign begins, Hughes told of how grateful he was for this: “We played some good stuff and in the second half I thought our interplay was excellent. The final ball was lacking on occasions but we created enough chances to have won quite comfortably. The finishing will come as we get nearer the start of the season. It is just a matter of the timing being off here and there. Overall I was pleased with the test and both teams benefitted from the run out. It will have brought us on a lot. On another day we would have won quite comfortably. I am happy with what I am seeing. It was good for Kolo (Toure) to get his début behind him. He gives us comfort on the ball and his ability with it at his feet was there for everyone to see. Once he starts to understand those in front of him and the qualities they have and the best way to bring out those qualities the bigger the impact he will have. I was pleased with his début and he came off early because of a bit of cramp. He has integrated well into the dressing room. He is a great guy and we are delighted to have him at the club.”

Old Firm Part One: The club’s pre-season preparations hit another snag as the Blues were beaten 3-2 in the first of two fixtures against Old Firm opposition. Ahead of Celtic’s visit to CoMS on Saturday, Hughes took the Citizens to Ibrox where his side lost in the final minute of the game. Nacho Novo had put Rangers in front before Ireland and Petrov turned the game back in City’s favour. Three minutes after City led though, Kenny Miller lobbed Shay Given and ex-Everton centre back Weir left it late to grab the win for the ‘Gers. The City boss gave his assessment of the game: “We enjoyed the game and I think it was quite evenly matched. There were chances for both sides and we were able to give the majority of the squad a runout and some game time, which is important with the new season looming large. In the first half I thought we looked quite comfortable and restricted them to a couple of chances. We created some good movements in the final third and looked a threat. All in all, it was a good exercise.”

Ex-Blues’ News

North of the Border: Staying with Scotland, former City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver has signed for Scottish Premier League side Dundee United. The 30-year-old, who was released by recently relgated Charlton Athletic this summer, had been handed a trial with Preston North End but it would seem that the promise of first team football was too much to turn down. Weaver has signed until January and Dundee manager Craig Levein believes that this deal suits both club and player perfectly: “I’m delighted to get Nicky Weaver in until the next transfer window in January. Nicky is a proven goalkeeper at both Premiership and Championship level, with an impressive pedigree, and this move is beneficial both to him and to Dundee United. The short term nature of the deal gives me the experienced cover I need until Dusan Pernis joins us in January and allows him to put himself in the shop window for a move back to England, where I’m sure he could still play at Premier League level.”

Alex Rowen <news(at)>


I have to take issue with Colin Schindler’s recent piece in the Daily Mail entitled ‘The heart has been ripped from the club I have loved for 50 years’ (ref.

As a Manchester City fan for the best part of three decades, I have to say that I was very disappointed to read his piece in which he refers to the club being ‘turned into a whore’ by Shinawatra, and that City’s current owners had ‘cloaked her in the finest of silk dresses and doused her in the most seductive of Arabian fragrances’. His article bemoans the jumpers for goalposts, good old days. Yes, it’s a shame that teams can’t go charging out of the old 2nd Division and win the title a couple of years later, like we did in ’68, but times have moved on, whether we like the current way that football is run or not. City’s Arabian owners are allowing us the opportunity to compete in a game that for too long has been dominated by the finances of a cosy, closed cartel, known as ‘the top four’. Of course Colin is entitled to his opinion, but his statement that City is ‘rotten to the core’ is absolutely wrong, and insulting to all who are associated with Manchester City: fans, owners, management, players.

Colin’s simplistic observation that ‘At least this Abu Dhabi lot have got money, but that’s all they’ve got’ is rather disingenuous, not to mention inaccurate. Sheikh Mansour and the Abu Dhabi United Group have been very impressive thus far in their stewardship of the club and I am not just talking about the money that they have put in. Thirty thousand plus season ticket holders and expected 47,000 sell-outs for the ground suggest that Colin is wrong and that City’s heartbeat is strong, healthy and true. Our Arabian owners have been fair to the current management on and off the pitch: they have given them a chance when so many new owners want to make their own appointments, and crucially, they have backed them financially. They have reduced the price of season tickets, they have continued to engage the fans, ask our opinions (has Colin Schindler heard of ‘Points of Blue’?), and most importantly, have acted on several of our suggestions too. There is always room for improvement in the way a football club is run but the impression is that they will do what they can to make following City a better experience. That doesn’t sound like the sort of club whose heart has been ripped out. I really don’t care what colour or creed the people are who run our club or where they are from. Just as long as they are decent, treat all the fans well (whatever our background, colour or creed) and strive to build a better team, then they will do for me and the many thousands of Blues. City’s owners tick all those boxes. We should be grateful that they chose Manchester City.

Colin’s statement is unrepresentative of City fans and at best, represents a rather eccentric view of our club. His description of Manchester City is not one that I and countless others recognise. Maybe Colin is a little out of touch, and he is too worried about Manchester United ruining his life! Maybe he should research his own club a little bit more thoroughly before engaging his keyboard. If he did, then maybe he’d get a clearer and more accurate perspective of our beloved Manchester City.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


I write this before the “Old Firm” games versus Rangers and Celtic. Whereas I have no worry about pre-season results, perhaps these games have some significance in wanting to beat the Scots.

Of course it still is most important to building up the players for the Premier League games; what we all would like to see in the remaining pre-season games is the strikers score goals! We have yet to see Tevez and Rocky play but reports say that they will be fit for the Premier league games.

Will MCFC sign Lescott from Everton? One way or another it should all come to an end this week end; I can’t say enough for the effort made by MCFC to get this player, who has the quality that City need in the defence.

Even if Lescott asks for a transfer, it is likely that manager Moyes will say no; it will probably depend on Everton’s ability to sign another player to play in Lescott’s position. Reports from Arsenal say Senderos has signed for Everton; will this help?

Moyes has worked hard on developing a good Everton side without big money signings, and I can’t blame him for wanting to hang on to his players but he should also think about the money MCFC will give Everton to help their club.

Sparky’s team is not complete until a defender signs.

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


I don’t put too much store in pre-season friendlies so I won’t worry too much about the defeats to Rangers, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates. After all didn’t we go unbeaten in all our pre-season friendlies in 1997 and then go and get relegated to the 3rd Division for the first time in our history in the following season?

Our defence still needs surgery, though, and it would be good to see Toure paired up with Onuoha. Anyway, friendlies are a phoney war and the real stuff starts at Ewood Park in a week’s time.

Bellamy got booed by a large section of Rangers fans, presumably for having played for Celtic or being a pantomime baddie, or both. Boo Bellers? Why would anyone do that! Unfortunately, and more seriously, Shay Given also came in for some hostile treatment from the less enlightened members of the ensemble at Ibrox. Shay’s ‘crime’? Being a Roman Catholic and being a brilliant goalkeeper for the Republic of Ireland. Clearly Rangers still have a lot of work to do to eradicate bigotry from their support.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


I know I’m not the only one with concerns regarding listening to live commentary of City games this coming season. It was great that MCFC streamed the games live from South Africa but when it came to the friendly this week against Rangers, there was nothing available. Radio Manchester did have match commentary, but it didn’t seem to be available via the usual means of listening live with the BBC iPlayer.

I have unofficially heard that games will still be available as for previous seasons, with the website carrying the Magic 1152 and/or Key103 match-day commentaries but this hasn’t been confirmed for me, and City’s website doesn’t appear to have any details regarding this. I understand that the match-day subscription service has been done away with, but I do hope this doesn’t mean I’ll lose the radio commentary.

Does anybody have more info than I do regarding this?

Andy Collins <Andy(at)>


I have travelled to America quite a few times recently (and again in 3 weeks’ time!) and if I can’t watch the game in a pub, then I always watch City games via the Internet on either or

Both commentaries are in English and the picture quality is usually very good.

Phill Gatenby <Safestanding(at)>


For those wishing to donate to the Sierra Leone appeal that won’t be at the Arsenal game, we now have two methods of donating to the cause:

You can send a cheque p/o etc. to:
CSA Sierra Leone Appeal
C/O Phil Holme
5 Hartfield Ave
Co Armagh
N Ireland
BT62 4DF
Made payable to MCFC CSA (Endorsed on the back Sierra Leone)

or you can pay direct into the CSA Bank Account payable to MCFC CSA (Sierra Leone).

Please e-mail me for bank details.

Thanks in advance, Phil Holme <phil.holme(at)>


Can you help?

I need one ticket for the Blackburn Game at Ewood Park on Aug 15th.

Martin Josephson <m.jos(at)>

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Newsletter #1555