Newsletter #1575

News tonight from Alex on the international front, transfer rumours and focus on the games ahead as we return to domestic football.

We have opinion on the Barça interest, our defence and sponsors.

Next Game: Wigan Athletic, away, 4pm Sunday 18 October


General News

No Time for Complacency: Seven games, five wins, sixteen points and fifteen goals – it’s all going a little too well isn’t it? City fans aren’t overly used to such success but the boss refuses to accept that this is just a ‘good run’ and spoke this week about how important it was for his players to continue challenging at the top of the table and remain in the top four: “A lot of questions were being asked of us before a ball was even kicked. Would we gel early as a team? Would the egos in the dressing room be able to be managed? There were a number of things that kept being asked in the media and elsewhere, but I think that we have answered each and every one of them. We know that there’s a long way to go and we are conscious of that, but we are pleased with our start. We needed that to happen, we needed people to settle down and see what we were trying to do. I think that it’s now being realised that the people we have brought to the club have made us stronger physically, technically and mentally, which was a key thing for me. It was inevitable that our results would improve, and now we have to make sure that we are consistent for the whole of the season. Given the squad’s quality, I see no reason why we can’t be. We know what we are capable of; we’ve shown glimpses in games where we have been outstanding. But, I don’t think we have played for the full 90 minutes as yet. That’s exciting, because we know there is more to come.”

Hughes chose former Arsenal centre back Kolo Toure to captain his new look side on a permanent basis this season and Kolo is determined to use the club’s excellent start to the season as a platform to success: “We have started really well, we have only lost the one game, and we could have come back with a draw from that. That shows that we have a strong squad, with players that never give up no matter how the game goes. We always play for the full 90 minutes, it’s working well for us right now and we hope we can keep this high intensity going. The Premier League is the best competition because every game is always really tough, especially the away games and especially now that we have become a scalp for some sides. We know that we will have to fight wherever we go, which is what happened at Villa last Monday, but it was a good result. It was important not to lose, we showed good character but we still need to work on a few things!”

Swede Dreams for City Fans: Former manager and fan favourite Sven Goran Eriksson has backed his old club to go all the way when challenging the ‘big four’ and believes that City’s progression is good for football. Ever since the multi-million pound takeover of City by the Abu Dhabi United Company last summer, the Blues have come in for some serious criticism with claims that the sheer amount of money spent is not a stable way to run a football club but the Swede, who is now running his own major project as Director of Football at Notts County, believes breaking the established order of the Premier League will create an even stronger league: “Can City win the League? Of course they can. It would be exceptional if they did, of course. This season, perhaps, winning it would be too good to be true. If you want me to put £100 on Manchester City winning the league straight away, well, no I wouldn’t. But they will win the league sooner or later. I think it’s good for the game that you can now see, quite early on, that we have now five teams who will fight for the Champions’ League places. Now it’s Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and City. It’s the top five, not the top four. That’s good for football. I’m very happy for the fans of Manchester City.”

Blue Eyed Heroes: With the finances available to City manager Mark Hughes and the quality of players currently plying their trade at the club, it could be argued that the Citizens’ critics are currently undergoing a dose of the green eyed monster but City midfielder Gareth Barry isn’t worried what other people think and reckons that it is helping his side’s cause to have so many people against their impending success. The former Aston Villa captain cost City £12 million in June and was the first of the club’s major summer signings, soon to be followed by Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor and Joleon Lescott just to name a few. The England international understands why City’s facelift may be upsetting other clubs but feels that as long as he and his team mates focus on winning nothing more than the next game, the controversy surrounding the club will simply spur them on to succeed: “It’s something we’ve spoken about amongst ourselves at City and the manager has made the same point to us. I think a lot of the stick comes from jealousy. There was a year or so when the same thing happened with Chelsea before it blew over. It’s important we don’t let that criticism affect us and we have tried to use it in a positive way, to bring us closer together in the dressing room and make us even stronger.”

Barry’s boss and captain both agree. Hughes has said that with pressure comes performance and from that City will be successful: “Everybody wants to discuss Manchester City these days so it’s difficult to protect the players to a great extent. We’ve tried to use it to our own ends; at times there has been a lot of negative stuff said about us that we have used positively in terms of motivation. You need to get the balance right, be level and don’t go too overboard about praise. Negative criticism will always be there, so you should not get too upset about it because you know that it’s coming. The group we have here is knowledgeable and experienced, they understand how things work and as a result we are a lot stronger.”

Captain Kolo revealed that the City boys now take it as a form of flattery when people take the time out to talk about them: “We know that everybody is looking at us, but we have to accept that. It shows our strength. The great thing is that we have some very experienced players here, players who want to achieve things here and win some trophies. That’s why we are here and why we’ll do everything we can to make that happen and we will fight for every point.”

Squad News

Defending Against Injury: City’s expensive back line has come under siege from some of the world’s best players this season and though the likes of van Persie, Rooney and Gabriel Agbonlahor have found it very difficult to cut through Kolo Toure’s defence, one thing has taken it apart recently with no effort – injury. Joleon Lescott had been withdrawn from the England squad earlier in the week and the injury list grew as Pablo Zabaleta and Kolo Toure suffered hamstring and heel trouble respectively. Zabaleta had been set to appear for his national side for the first time since Argentina boss Diego Maradona was installed as the country’s ‘top dog’ but a hamstring injury, suffered during the 1-1 draw at Aston Villa, has sidelined the right back. Hughes explained how disappointing it was for Zab’ to miss out on Argentina’s deciding fixtures: “It’s a disappointment for him. Argentina have two crucial games and he wanted to be part of that, but it wasn’t to be. He’s played very well of late and that was flagged to the powers that be in Argentina. It would have been great for him to get the recognition for his good form, but it is unfortunate that he’s going to miss out. Pablo’s not played that many games, and there is always a danger that this kind of thing might happen to someone who, like Pablo, has not played as much as others.”

Elsewhere, City’s Ivorian skipper Kolo Toure was made to stay at home rather than compete in the Ivory Coast’s international agenda having also suffered a knock during the club’s visit to Villa Park: “Kolo got a really bad bang on the heel pad of his right leg that was very sore immediately after the game. He was checked out and it was felt that it was not advisable for him to join up with his country. He would probably not have been able to train and would have been touch-and-go for the game. He’s been kept back and has had treatment. The hope is that he’ll be OK, but we’ll have to see how it settles down over the next few days.”

Do We Really Know Him? When City splashed out in January to purchase Welsh striker Craig Bellamy from West Ham United, City fans acknowledged that Bellamy was a proven goal scorer but questions were asked about his attitude. This week, following a month of Bellamy’s most impressive performances to date, Mark Hughes has refuted suggestions that Bellamy is not a team player and feels that those who have criticised him know nothing of the former Liverpool forward: “The perception of Craig for too long has been too negative. He’ll admit himself that at times he has let himself down. What has never been in question was his ability, and because of the focus on City he now has a platform to allow people to understand what a good player he is. I’ve worked with him before at international level and at Blackburn and he was outstanding for me. But, because of the lack of focus on his efforts there his performances were not flagged up as they should have been. The knowledge he has now as a more senior player helps him to understand his body on a daily basis. He knows when he should not train and when he needs to back off and as a result we have been able to keep him on the field more in both training and, more importantly, in games. He found that more difficult when younger because he saw himself as an out and out striker but his ability to work in different positions is great for me because I can move him around and he still has an impact. I like him on that left-hand side, because he naturally migrates over there even when up front in a pair. He likes to attack from over there, so the difference with playing there or up front is not too great. He’ll tell you he has to track back more, which is probably true but he can do that for a team as well.”

Fitness Boost: The side recently received a long awaited fitness boost as both Michael Johnson and £17 million signing Roque Santa Cruz both returned to the fold. Now it’s the turn of City’s Brazilian starlet Robinho who could be ready for the Carling Cup tie against Scunthorpe in a fortnight’s time: “Robi is not far away, he’s probably got about 10 more days and then he can be back in the group. He’s working every day, we’re trying to get him back as soon as we can but with a bone injury there is a certain length of time to give it the injury. You cannot come back early when it’s an injury like the one he has had, but he’s on track and he’ll be back soon.”

Talking about the additions of Johnson and Santa Cruz, Hughes said: “They are both back in the fold but they still need games and we are looking to get some more match play into them, if we can, in between being involved at first team level. I’m pleased with what they have shown in training, I thought Roque showed good energy against Villa. He was a bit compromised by the finger in his eye from Craig, which never helps! There’s more to come from him and Johnno as well.”

Transfer Speculation

Barça’s Brazilian Bid: European Champions Barcelona are preparing to bolster their squad in January with the African Cup of Nations set to take away a couple of the Spanish side’s most influential players and City winger Robinho is supposedly top of their list. It’s not the first time that ‘Robbie’ has been linked with Pep Guardiola’s squad but for the first time Barcelona’s Sporting Director Txiki Beguiristain has admitted that there is interest on his club’s part: “He is a very interesting footballer and he can play in the Champions’ League. There are possibilities for strengthening at Christmas. We will be very alert to see if an interesting option comes up. In January it is the African Nations Cup. We are going to see if some of our defenders can play in midfield. It is an option. Depending on that we could look for a forward.”

With Craig Bellamy in the form of his career and Martin Petrov biting at the heels on any one playing in the position that he made his own under former boss Sven Goran Eriksson, Robinho may find himself attracted to a move back to La Liga. Other press reports claim that City chief Mark Hughes has a ‘plan B’, should Robinho leave, in the form of a £65 million for Bayern Munich’s Frank Ribery who is currently unsettled in the Bundesliga.

Mark Hughes’ number two, Mark Bowen, has ruled out a move away for Robinho but has stressed that ‘Robbie’ will be given no special treatment at CoMS and will have to battle for his place like everybody else: “Robi is one of those players who will always be surrounded by rumour and speculation. It doesn’t concern him – he comes in and always does his work with a smile on his face. He’s a great guy and very much a part of the manager’s plans. He’s a naturally-fit guy who doesn’t carry a lot of weight, so once he’s back training with the group it doesn’t take him much time to be right. Once he comes back he’ll be ready to put in the side. But Robi is no different from any other player in the squad in that he will be fighting for a place when he regains his fitness. Anybody who watches top-level football knows that is always the case now, and we are no different. Things can change so quickly though – a week is a long time in this game. An injury or two and you’re back in the side, and then it’s up to you to make sure that you stay there. People might be asking how Robi is going to get back in given Craig’s form, but things do change.”

International Blues

International Round-Up: With England’s qualification assured, Fabio Capello chose to rest Gareth Barry who had picked up a back strain and as a result sat it out on the bench as an unused substitute alongside City left back Wayne Bridge. The ‘Three Lions’ were City-free as Shaun Wright Philips was completely absent and the national squad went on to lose 1-0 in the Ukraine. Four days later, all three City boys returned to the England line up and SWP scored an excellent goal as Capello’s men signed off with a 3-0 win over Belarus at Wembley. Meanwhile, Carlos Tevez’s injury kept him out of Argentina’s first eleven as they won two out of two to ensure that they didn’t miss out on their first World Cup finals since 1970. Tevez was a late substitute however in the 1-0 win over Uruguay last night but had little time to make any impact as his side won, days after squeezing past Peru in a 2-1 victory.

Shay Given earned himself yet another clean sheet in his 100th cap for the Republic of Ireland and skippered his side to a goalless draw in the process against Monetengro. Given’s ton of caps will have done little to console the shot stopper at the weekend after the heartbreak of conceding in the final minute to allow Italy a 90th minute equalizer when the group’s top two sides went head to head in a 2-2 draw. The Irish will now fight it out for a spot in South Africa with a two legged play off. The promise of a play off spot came thanks to Cyprus thrashing Martin Petrov’s Bulgaria 4-1 in Larnaca only for the Bulgarians to up the ante when the pressure was off with a 6-2 win over Georgia – two goals scored by City’s unsettled winger Petrov. Vladimir Weiss was booked twice in two games as his Slovakia side progressed to the finals with a 1-0 over Poland. The result came as great relief having lost to second place Slovenia at the weekend.

Adebayor was subbed on the hour during Togo 3-0 loss against Cameroon whilst Craig Bellamy scored in his nation’s 2-1 loss against Finland but then sat out on the away win over Liechtenstein. And despite missing out on South Africa 2010, Ryan McGivern sent out a message to all those watching as he performed to a man of the match standard in Northern Ireland’s 0-0 draw with the Czech Republic whilst filling in for the injured Johnny Evans.

Shay Still Keane on Ireland: Shay Given celebrated his 100th international cap last night as he captained his side to a goalless draw against Montenegro and the City stopper hopes to achieve many more milestones for both club and country. Given’s love for his country has been allegedly criticized by former Ireland skipper Roy Keane this week when the Guardian reported the Ipswich manager had suggested that players were only prepared to play so often for their countries in friendly matches because they wanted to ‘succeed’ in reaching international milestones: “Players have agendas – maybe they want 50 or 100 caps and a pat on the back for it. Shay is one of those.”

Shay laughed off Keane’s comments and asserted that to play for your country is an honour and reaching cap 100 is a mere by-product of enjoying playing for his nation: “When you’re called to play for your country, it’s the proudest moment you can have. Once you pull an Irish jersey on, it’s an extremely proud moment, be that in a friendly or two massive World Cup qualifiers. That should never change. When I supported the Irish team as a kid, I used to go to the hotel and get the players’ autographs. That was special enough for me. If someone had said you’ll play for your country one day … I’m from Lifford, Donegal, you’d think no chance. I’d never have imagined making 100 caps.”

Welsh Dragon Out of Puff: Though the Welsh will not be participating in the 2010 World Cup next summer, current Wales boss John Toshack has big plans for his nations’ future and is desperate for captain Craig Bellamy to be a big part of that. However, 30-year-old Bellamy has questioned whether he has enough in the tank to compete for both club and country. If City qualified for Europe this season then next term Bellamy will be competing in the league, two domestic cups and a European competition as well as the international stage and ‘Bellers’ remains unsure as to whether he could continue playing for Wales: “If we get to the Champions’ League – which is what we are aiming for – and I’m still a big part of that, I’ll have to be realistic. Am I able to play 50 or 60 matches a season? Probably not. Then I’d have to look at it.”

Mark Bowen worked with Bellamy on the international stage when he was assistant to Mark Hughes at Wales; now as assistant manager to Bellamy’s club, Bowen has told Bellamy that he will back him no matter what choice he makes: “I’ll take my Welsh hat off here and admit I’d hope he was with us all the time, but any decision would have to come from Bellers. There’s no pressure from within the club to cut back on his international commitments. He has to make that call by himself. Craig knows his body well and the demands that he can make of it. He looks after himself and he is well aware that club football is his bread and butter, and that the rigours of a long season can have an effect. The thing about him is that he is like a soldier for Wales – he’s passionately patriotic, and he would never want to let his country down, so it would be a massive decision for him if he felt he couldn’t do both his club and his country justice. He’s very conscientious and a top professional. He would be agonising over it.”

Alex Rowen <news(at)>


So Barcelona want Robinho?

So why don’t we cut through all the gossip and hype and sell him as soon as possible? At a comparable price to what City paid for him.

There is no way Robbie is more effective than Bellamy on the left hand side, and he is going to want to play regularly to keep his place in the Brazil World Cup team and that’s not going to happen with this team.

I would rather keep Petrov happy. Give him a few starts, bring him off the bench and switch Bellamy over to the right when SWP is having an off game (something that should have happened against Villa) and bring Weiss along as a right wing sub.

We could definitely use the money to buy someone that would actually contribute to the team and you know that Robbie is going to be sulking on the sideline until he does get transferred. So let’s make it easy for him.

One other thing. Whatever happened to Daniel Sturridge? Smart move going to Chelsea. He might get a game in 2011!

Let’s stuff Wigan.

Keith Sharp <keith(at)>


My final remarks on the City full backs (for now).

Wayne Bridge is the selected player at left back for England; that should say enough about the player.

Pablo Zabaleta is the player selected for right back for one of the best footballing nations in the World: Argentina; that says a lot about Zab.

Nedum Onuoha is a young and intelligent player with England prospects.

Micah Richards captained the England under 21 team; with more coaching about positional sense, he can only get better. He is a strong lad with pace.

Kolo Toure, a very good captain and central defender, and very proud about playing for his country the Ivory Coast.

Joleon Lescott, a player selected for England as a central defender, who will get better for City with more games under his belt.

Shay Given is a great goalkeeper, no doubt about that, but he does not come off his line too often; maybe Lescott has to adjust a little after playing in front of Howard the Everton ‘keeper?

So far I don’t think that we have too much to complain about; some yes, but overall not much.

It is so easy for us armchair critics to write our thoughts after a game, and for the best part we have fun in doing it (well speaking for myself, yes I do).

One last thing: the photo of Robinho in the official MCFC website is not very flattering – he looks very worried. I feel sure that his outlook has more smiles, I just wish all this talk about Barça would go away, and Robinho get stuck into being a true City player. When he is on form he is a gem; in truth I do hope he stays but if it’s his desire to leave that’s different.

Looking forward to our next game on Sunday in Wigan, seems like weeks since we last played.

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


Talking to a neighbour last night – just back from Australia. The last leg of the journey was on Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi to Manchester.

As the plane lands, the video machine bursts into life welcoming the assembled guests to Manchester, home of the “biggest football club in the world”. Pictures of the stadium, music, etc. Makes you feel good doesn’t it? Except, yes, you’ve guessed it, it was them, not us! Someone should maybe say something to their marketing people?

While I’m at it, David Beckham, man of the match? Maybe I should give up football as I am obviously on a different planet to the “experts”. He shouldn’t have been allowed to play with that beard anyway.

Chris Ryder <chrisryder62(at)>


The latest issue of City fanzine King Of The Kippax (number 173) is now out and available at Urbis, Aleef (corner of Cross Street/Market Street) and at the away game at Wigan and future games. It’s A4, 48 pages, is £2.50 and attempts to put the record straight after the most vitriolic and anti-City media month in the history of our great club, probably since the alleged bribe scandals of the early 1900’s.

It includes front cover reference to Fergie’s senility, reflections on Adebayor, the derby, Wayne Rooney’s latest conquest; Bert Trautmann, Colin Bell, Rangers, and season 1988/89 features plus all the usual stuff and much, much more.

It can also be obtained by post from 25, Holdenbrook Close, Leigh, Lancs, WN7 2HL. Cheque of £3.30 to King Of The Kippax.

Sue Wallace <dw001e8104(at)>


League table to 13 October 2009 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD Pts
 1 Chelsea          8  4  0  0 10  1  3  0  1  8  5  7  0  1  18   6  12  21
 2 Manchester Utd   8  3  1  0  9  6  3  0  1 10  2  6  1  1  19   8  11  19
 3 Tottenham H.     8  3  0  1 10  5  2  1  1  9  7  5  1  2  19  12   7  16
 4 Manchester City  7  3  0  0  8  3  2  1  1  7  5  5  1  1  15   8   7  16
 5 Arsenal          7  3  0  0 14  3  2  0  2 10  7  5  0  2  24  10  14  15
 6 Liverpool        8  3  0  1 15  4  2  0  2  7  8  5  0  3  22  12  10  15
 7 Aston Villa      7  2  1  1  5  3  2  0  1  5  3  4  1  2  10   6   4  13
 8 Sunderland       8  3  0  1 12  7  1  1  2  4  6  4  1  3  16  13   3  13
 9 Burnley          8  4  0  0  7  2  0  0  4  0 14  4  0  4   7  16  -9  12
10 Everton          7  2  1  1  7  8  1  0  2  2  3  3  1  3   9  11  -2  10
11 Stoke City       8  2  0  2  4  4  0  3  1  2  6  2  3  3   6  10  -4   9
12 Wigan Athletic   8  2  0  2  4  7  1  0  3  4  8  3  0  5   8  15  -7   9
13 Bolton Wndrs     7  0  2  2  5  7  2  0  1  5  4  2  2  3  10  11  -1   8
14 Birmingham City  8  1  1  2  2  3  1  0  3  3  5  2  1  5   5   8  -3   7
15 Fulham           7  1  0  2  2  4  1  1  2  4  6  2  1  4   6  10  -4   7
16 Blackburn R.     7  2  1  1  5  4  0  0  3  3 11  2  1  4   8  15  -7   7
17 Wolves           8  1  1  2  3  5  1  0  3  4  9  2  1  5   7  14  -7   7
18 Hull City        8  2  0  2  4  7  0  1  3  4 13  2  1  5   8  20 -12   7
19 West Ham United  7  0  1  2  5  7  1  1  2  3  4  1  2  4   8  11  -3   5
20 Portsmouth       8  0  0  4  2  6  1  0  3  2  7  1  0  7   4  13  -9   3

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1575