Newsletter #830

Tonight sees a bumper news round-up with our new signings opening their hearts to the press and the City faithful, reserve team fixtures, plenty of good thought on line-ups, shirts and the last of the smoking debate – time to get focused on the games to come now!

We also have a few requests for South Lakes Blues, some Blue memories and a splash of humour. Only 30 days to go now…

Next game: Leeds United, away, 17 August 2002


General News

Holidays are over: Stand by for lots of photos in the newspapers of disconsolate footballers trudging round perfect green fields. It’s just a month until the first game at Elland Road, and City’s first team squad reported back for training this week. Interestingly Peter Schmeichel, Sylvain Distin and Alfie Haaland have already been back in training at Carrington, but the rest of the squad started back on Monday.

Hey, Big Spender! Can you believe it? Unless Rio Ferdinand decides to take Sir Alex’s silver, City are Europe’s biggest spenders this summer. The Blues have bucked the continental trend and spent nearly £22 million since May, as most of Europe’s top teams have kept their cheque books tucked away. There are failed TV deals in a number of European countries at the moment, and many of the top clubs are saddled with huge debts from spending frenzies in previous years. Inter Milan are in such trouble for instance, that Ronaldo, Christian Vieri and Alvaro Recoba have agreed to take 10% pay cuts. David Bernstein is not worried about going against the fashion, and justifies City’s spending thus: “We are very conscious of the state of the football transfer market and some people might say that we have been almost over-aggressive in our transfer policy,” admitted the chairman. “We don’t think so. We think we have paid the right sums of money for quality players and getting them in early means that when pre-season started Kevin had them all there and he has the maximum amount of time to work them all together.”

Winning Start: A City Under-21 side kicked off the season in style on Tuesday afternoon. They beat Oldham Athletic 4-0, with goals from Chris Shuker (2), Terry Dunfield and Gary Brown. The game took place at Witton Albion’s ground in Northwich, and was the opening event in the Manchester International Football Festival. City’s next game in the Tournament comes on Saturday 20 July, against Thailand’s U-21’s, kick-off 11.00am.

Killen Triumph: It’s been a great week for New Zealand’s football team, led up front by City boy Chris Killen. The All Whites have won the Oceania Nations Cup and booked a place in next season’s Confederations Cup. Last Friday, Killen scored in the semi finals in a 3-0 defeat of Vanuatu, and played in Sunday’s final against Australia. Killen failed to score, but a 1-0 victory against the Aussies secured the trophy and a place in the Confederations Cup next year, which will take place in France. Killen ended the tournament with five goals.

China Trip: Chris Bird has revealed more about his recent trip to China. The club see the country as an ideal place to develop commercially. “The main objective of the visit was really to complete the research into Asian market that I have been doing for the last three months. China is a development area for Premiership football. I now know that Manchester City is well thought of. We were one of the most watched teams last season on their cable channels. As a result of the trip, we are now talking to people regarding various sponsorship opportunities and it is highly likely we will be doing a merchandising deal with a number of retail outlets. We are also talking to a couple of football clubs about strategic work that we can do with them in terms of helping them build our brand.” Bird believes the potential for the Chinese market is huge. “Over the next ten years China is going to see the women’s World Cup final, the Olympics and the Asian Cup; there is a lot of sporting focus in China and that is why we have got to look at every different way we can to make sure we are right at the front of any opportunities to grow the City business.” The trip also brought home how big a star Jihai Sun is in his homeland. “I knew before I went out that Jihai Sun was well thought of,” commented Bird, “but when you walk down the street and people are drinking soft drinks from tins with his face on it and there are billboards everywhere sporting his image, it really comes home to you just how huge a star he is.”

Reserves Fixtures: The FA Barclaycard Premier Reserve League have produced their fixtures. The Reserves start their season three days before the first team, with a home fixture with Bradford City. All City’s home fixtures will be played at Hyde United’s ground with a 7.00pm kick off. The full list of fixtures is as follows:

August 14       Bradford City (H)
September 2     Sunderland (A)
September 24    Everton (A)
October 8       Bolton Wanderers (H)
October 15      Middlesbrough (A)
October 22      Manchester United (H)
October 28      West Bromwich Albion (A)
November 12     Birmingham City (H)
November 19     Leeds United (A)
November 26     Blackburn Rovers (H)
December 12     Liverpool (A)
December17      Aston Villa (H)
January 7       Sheffield Wednesday (A)
January 14      Newcastle United (H)
January 21      Sunderland (H)
February 4      Bradford City (A)
February 18     Everton (H)
February 24     Bolton Wanderers (A)
March 4         Middlesbrough (H)
March 13        Manchester City (H)
March 19        Birmingham City (A)
March 25        West Bromwich Albion (H)
April 1         Blackburn Rovers (A)
April 16        Liverpool (H)
April 22        Aston Villa (A)
April 29        Sheffield Wednesday (H)
May 5           Newcastle United (A)

Transfer News and Gossip

There Ain’t No Justice: Sadly this may be the last outing for this headline, as it’s reported this week that Nigerian international Justice Christopher is about to join Bulgarian side Levski Sofia. Christopher was a trialist at Maine Road in February, and seemed to have impressed Mr. K. A contract was about to be signed, but all went quiet. Now Christopher’s Belgian club, Royal Antwerp, reckon that the midfielder had signed a pre-contract agreement with Levski Sofia