Newsletter #844

Main news this week does not involve any on the field activity, but the news that Keane has been charged by the FA with bringing the game into disrepute for his pre-meditated attack on Alfie.

Plenty of opinion on this and of the likely, not to mention deserved, punishment he should receive.

Also tonight is Don’s news summary, news on reserve action, previews of Arsenal and some requests to exercise the grey matter.

No game this weekend, as internationals are on, so still time to get those Why Blues written!

Next game: Arsenal, away, 8pm Tuesday 10 September 2002 (TV game)


General News

Reserves Fall Again: For the second time in a week, the Reserves found themselves on the end of a 3-0 gubbing. Following defeat in the Manchester Senior Cup by Oldham, City lost on Monday to Sunderland. In the game played in Durham, Matias Vuoso was injured in the first half and had to be replaced by Gary Browne. City found themselves three down by the break, and apart from a late Karim Kerkar effort that was cleared off the line, there was little to shout about. City: Nash, Loran, Dunne, Ritchie, Jordan, Shuker, Whitley, Horlock, Kerkar, Goater, Vuoso (Browne 35).

420 Million Viewers Can’t be Wrong: The presence of three Chinese footballers in Saturday’s clash with Everton meant that the game was shown live back home. The audience for this game has been estimated at between 350 million and 420 million viewers, so it’s no wonder that City are anxious to develop the club’s marketing in the Far East, as evidenced by Chris Bird’s summer trip to China. The country’s press turned up at Maine Road in their dozens, to watch Sun Jihai face Everton’s Li Tie, while fellow countryman Li Weifeng sat on the bench for the Toffees. On Saturday, Super Kev stressed that Sun was in the team on merit, and not for commercial purposes. He said: “I think he’s an outstanding player. Apart from one or two balls he gave away against Everton, his tackling, his use of the ball, his energy, his strength, were very, very good. That is why he is in the team, he is not in the team because he’s Chinese. He is in the team because he is a very good player who just happens to be Chinese. He was outstanding in the close season when he was very fit and he now knows us a bit more. Coming here before the deadline last season helped him settle in and I’m very, very pleased with him.”

Sincil Apologies: City announced the postponement of last week’s friendly at Lincoln City, due to international call ups and injuries. Secretary Bernard Halford said: “It is with great regret that the fixture between Lincoln City and Manchester City has had to be postponed. Manchester City were determined to bring their strongest team for the benefit of Lincoln City and the club’s fund raising activities. But due to players’ international duties and a series of unfortunate injuries, the game is no longer possible.” The game had originally been intended as a fund raising event in the summer for the Imps, who were in administration at the time. No return date has yet been fixed.

International Blues: Richard Dunne has suffered for his lack of first team football this season (only 45 minutes at Leeds), and has been omitted from Mick McCarthy’s squad for the Euro 2004 qualifier in Moscow. City players have fared better at under-21 level. Shaun Wright-Phillips has earned a recall to England’s under-21’s squad for Friday night’s friendly with Yugoslavia at Bolton, while Gary Browne has made it into Northern Ireland’s equivalent squad for the friendly at St.Mirren’s ground with Scotland. England under-21 coach David Platt reckons Wright-Phillips could be a star at international level this season. Platt said: “Shaun was a year younger than a lot of the lads who were in the squad last year, but will still be eligible to play for me next season. If he continues to show the improvement that he has been doing, he is going to be in an awful lot of the squads that I pick. I have been very impressed by what I have seen of him.” The other Blues already in international squads are Eyal Berkovic for Israel, Niclas Jensen for Denmark and Rhys Day for the Welsh under-21’s.

Transfer News and Gossip

Transfer Window Shuts – Quietly: There was very little Blues-related transfer activity as the new transfer deadline came into effect at midnight last Saturday. As KK had replenished his squad earlier in the summer, the action at Maine Road was almost non-existent. Joey Barton went on loan to Scunthorpe United, but his career there began inauspiciously with a clash of heads and a bout of concussion during his trial game. Despite this start, Iron manager Brian Laws says that United will take another look at him. “He seems a very confident man and we’re hoping to take things further, I’ve spoken to Kevin Keegan and he feels that Barton can handle this division,” said Laws. Elsewhere, Sheffield Wednesday have offered a contract to 16-year-old striker Josh Kamasz, who had been on trial with City recently. Kamasz was reported to be discussing the deal with his parents.

Charvet Rejects Move: One deal which didn’t go through was the loan move of Laurent Charvet to French Second Division club Lorient. It seems that Charvet opted to earn his Premiership-level salary in City’s reserves, rather than revive his footballing fortunes in France. In the summer KK was busy telling the world that Charvet still had a chance to prove himself and find a spot in the first team squad. Now Keegan is thought to have told the Frenchman that there is no way back for him, and the manager is none too impressed with Charvet’s refusal to move on. Another Frenchman apparently off KK’s Christmas card list is Christian Negouai. It’s reported that Negouai ignored club advice over a rehabilitation programme for his knee injury, and sought his own treatment. Now the Frenchman requires further surgery, and he is unlikely to play this season.

Ex-Blues’ News

Saint Andrei: Former City and United winger Andrei Kanchelskis has finally found himself a club. In one of the last deals to go through on deadline day, the Ukrainian-born player signed for his former Reds team-mate Gordon Strachan at Southampton. “He brings experience to the squad”, said Strachan. “He has a great attitude and a good appetite for the game.” Kanchelskis has been training with the St.Mary’s club.

Very Kinky: It looks as if history is repeating itself for Gio Kinkladze. Just like his days at Maine Road, Gio finds himself at a club in the First Division, with a manager who does not seem to appreciate his exotic skills. Derby County boss John Gregory had left Gio out of first team contention this season, having made it clear that the Georgian international was a drain on club resources. Yet last Saturday, Kinkladze gave fans at Pride Park a glimpse of what they’d been missing. Derby beat Stoke City 2-0 with a brace of late goals by Malcolm Christie. Both strikes were set up by Kinkladze, who had come on as a late substitute.

Reactions and Comments

Could Do Better: This week’s news began with a disappointed KK trying to stir up his players following their no-show against Aston Villa. “The players have given me the option to change things against Everton,” fumed the Boss Man. “There will be one or two on the bench who will think they can do better, and on that performance they would be right. I know that a lot of my players are better than they showed. I have no worries about that. I hope I haven’t a Jekyll and Hyde team here – one that plays at home and one that plays away. I am sure I haven’t, but if you were a City fan you might have been thinking that. I was very disappointed for them.” This lead to speculation that KK was about to drop last week’s “England Hopeful”, Darren Huckerby, and use the Goat from the start. Goater, who was a late substitute at Villa Park, said “We didn’t get our passing game together and if we didn’t realise it before we certainly do now that we have to work hard in every game to get our rewards,” he said. “At this level you can have at the most two players not on top of their game but last night we had more than that and we got punished. We all put our hands up in the dressing room. We felt we all could have done better.” The midfield had been starngely off colour against Villa, as Eyal Berkovic conceded. “It was a bad day at the office, sometimes you have these days in football,” he said. “The manager was unhappy and rightly so. We did not play anywhere near the way we know we can do or the way we played against Newcastle. I don’t know why but I do know we will put the smile back on his face against Everton.”

Mission Accomplished: KK’s smile was certainly back on Saturday evening, following the 3-1 defeat of Everton. Mr. Keegan had certainly got his enthusiasm back for his strike pair, especially hat-trick hero Nicolas Anelka. “The greatest thing was his work rate and he has tremendous energy and there was a lot of sweat on his shirt at the end,” commented Kevin. “At one point he was chasing back 60 or 70 yards and you have to applaud his team play. This guy has a big heart and he will get goals for us, no question of that.” Warming to his theme, Keegan added that “I know a lot of things have been said about this guy but I just judge people as I find them. He is been a dream to coach, as I say, we have to tell him to go in off the training pitch and the last person I had to do that with was David Beckham when I was England manager. When people ask me what Nicolas Anelka is like I say to them whatever you think dedication is then multiply it by two because that is Nicolas Anelka. There is no doubt about it that if you put that time in on the training pitch you will get it back. Not every week, but over the course of a season you will come out on top.” There was no stopping the Leader now. “Nicolas Anelka is one of the greatest strikers in the world, not just the Premiership,” said Keegan. “He’s still only 23. In my opinion he can get even better because he’s at the right club. Sometimes that happens with players, they need to find the right club. The club that believes in them, the club that suits their style. He’s just bought a house he’s moving into next week and Manchester can be the place where he spends the most crucial years of his development as a player. We really respect Nicolas. We understand how difficult football is at the level he’s at, particularly when you’re young like he is and with all the expectation. Remember, he’s moved for £23 million and been at Arsenal and Real Madrid. But this just might be the best place for him. And I’m delighted he’s here playing for us. I’ve not seen anything to change my view that he will be a great signing for us. He’s going to make goals, score goals and his work-rate is phenomenal. I wouldn’t swap Anelka for anyone else. You could offer me all the top strikers, all the big names, but I wouldn’t take any of them. The way he’s applied himself, the way he’s trained and the way he’s played since he’s been here has been fantastic. In fact, I wouldn’t bet against him becoming top scorer in the Premiership this season. In this team, with the adventure there is behind him, he has every chance of doing that.” “I was disappointed with the result but not the performance,” said Everton manager David Moyes. “We had about five opportunities to score and you have to take your chances at this level.”

Shaun Sees Red: The one cloud in the laser blue sky last Saturday was caused by the red card doled out to Shaun Wright Phillips. All parties agreed that Everton’s Gary Naysmith was not heading towards goal when Shaunie tackled him, so our wing back should not have been red carded. Keegan gave his views: “I don’t think it was ever a sending-off offence and I have asked the referee to look at it. I have been in and talked to him about it. What he has said, was that it was not his decision. We have to appeal to the FA and he has to look at it. I don’t think any other referee would have sent him off. A booking and a penalty was a sensible outcome. Hopefully it will be turned over on appeal.” Everton boss David Moyes agreed, commenting that “It was a penalty, but not a sending off. I would support anyone who is wronged. I will look at the incident again but I said to Kevin Keegan at the time he should not have been sent off.” Shaun was a little bemused by it all. “I knew I had not been sent-off for swearing at the referee because all I said was ‘you cannot send me off for that'”, stated Wright-Phillips. “Swearing is something I consciously never do on the pitch. I try and keep focussed on the game and keep such emotions tucked away. Now I am just hoping that the FA decide it was only worthy of a yellow card. The last thing I need at this stage of the season is a suspension. Once you are not in this side it is extremely hard to get back into it,” he concluded.

Happy Peter: Following the Everton game, Peter Schmeichel spoke of his satisfaction at his own form, and the progress City’s defensive unit has made this season. “I am quite happy with the way I am playing and also the way the team is playing,” he said. “It is a pleasure to be a goalkeeper behind that defence. Whatever I have had to do comes from angles and if you are good at closing angles, it makes it fairly easy. There have been many question marks put against this defence and the way we play at this football club. We have tried our best to answer the critics. In the game against Newcastle, we showed we could play and against Everton going down to ten men, we showed that we can defend as well. The commitment was just fantastic – I think that will do us a lot of good. I don’t think people will now be saying that we cannot defend and it will take the spotlight off a little and allow us all to settle in.” Centre half Steve Howey is often on the end of the Dane’s “constructive criticism”, but the Geordie knows that the Schmeichel tongue lashings make City’s defence more secure. “He is a pain in backside and it is what you need,” acknowledged Howie. “I am sure he must get grief at home because he is always taking it out on the boys and unfortunately I am the one that gets it in the back of the neck most of the time! Mentally you have to always be switched on all the time and that is a benefit. Peter has been in great form since he came into the side.”

Squad News

Seeking U.S. Help: City’s medical staff have linked up with a team of doctors in the USA, in an attempt to cure the rash of knee injuries currently afflicting the Blues squad. City have already sent Nicky Weaver, Paulo Wanchope and Alfie Haaland for treatment at the clinic of Dr. John Bergfeld. Bergfeld, as team doctor of the Cleveland Browns American football team, has noticed the similarity between the injuries being suffered by the players in both sports. There is now work going on between the teams in Ohio and Manchester, attempting to devise a programme which might minimise these injuries in the future.

Red Card Rescinded: Sense has prevailed regarding the red card given to Shaun Wright-Phillips by referee Barry Knight last Saturday. The FA have announced that Knight has changed his view after seeing the incident on television, so the decision has been reversed. An FA statement read: “Shaun Wright-Phillips will not serve a suspension for his sending off against Everton on Saturday. The foul was a cautionable offence rather than a sending off offence.”

Juan is the Man: Darren Huckerby has been paying tribute to the man who has revolutionised the training methods at the club, namely Juan Carlos Osorio. “I have been at a few clubs and Juan’s approach is completely and utterly different to anything to I have ever seen,” declared Huckerby. “At the top level you have got to be athletes, the days are gone when you could potter around for the 90 minutes. You have got to be fit and strong and I think our fitness levels over the last season and a bit speak for themselves. We have come on leaps and bounds in that department and that is down to him and the players doing well to take on board his stuff. At first there was a bit of apprehension about what he was asking us to do, that’s natural when there is a departure from what is regarded as normal, but once the lads got used to it we have not looked back. I think we are very lucky to have him here. He is exceptional in some of the stuff he comes out with. He really is at the top of his game. We still do running but it is more game related. I don’t want to give too much away but I consider him to be one of the top fitness coaches that I have seen, worked with or heard about. He is great. He doesn’t preach about diet and the like and if any of the players wanted to leave Carrington and go straight to McDonald’s they could if they wished but I think nowadays players know you have to be 100 per cent professional, you have to do things to the letter or there is no point doing them. I think Juan’s guided us but he can only go so far. Everyone has to take individual responsibility and if you are not fit you will be found out straight away at Premiership level.” Peter Schmeichel agrees with Huckerby, saying that “Juan Carlos’s fitness training is different from anything else I have encountered and for me that is tremendously exciting,” he said during the build up to the league campaign. “When you go through as many pre-seasons as I have been, you need some inspiration and that has definitely come this year.”

Keano News

Fruit of the Loon: Alfie’s Nemesis was in top form last weekend. Just when you’d expect Keano to try to keep a low profile, Sir Alex’s skipper was having none of it. On Saturday he was red carded at Sunderland after attempting to fracture the skull of his former Ireland team-mate Jason McAteer with his elbow, while on Sunday the newspapers were full of in depth interviews with Keane. In the Observer, Keano began with a fair impression of an amiable, self-deprecating man, but the mask soon began to slip. Asked if he was would ever do the same thing again as he’d done to Haaland, Keane replied “Probably. Yeah.” Did he regret his clash with Haaland? “No. Even in the dressing room afterwards I had no remorse. My attitude was, f*** him. What goes around comes around. He got his just rewards. He f***ed me over and my attitude is an eye for an eye.” Republic of Ireland boss McCarthy could “rot in hell”, and, warming to his theme that Niall Quinn and Steve Staunton, two Irish team-mates who sided with McCarthy, could “rot in hell as well”. The article goes on to recount how Keane later telephoned the journalist to clarify a few points. He stressed that he had “never in my career set out to deliberately injure any player” and had made “a genuine effort to play the ball” in the incident. His ghostwriter Eamon Dunphy had used “a degree of artistic licence”, he said. We have no way of knowing who crafted this eloquent “clarification”, but one has to wonder whether Mr. Keane’s advisors thought some damage limitation was required.

Convenient Operation? It looks like Sir Alex has now find a way to keep his skipper out of the limelight. On Monday, Ferguson said, “Roy is going in for an operation on his hip. It’s something that’s been troubling him for quite some time and we’ve decided that now is the time for it to be done. We hope we’ll have him back by December for the main part of the season.”

Disrepute Rap: On Wednesday, the FA announced that Mr. Keane had been charged with two counts of bringing the game into disrepute. “Both charges relate to an incident with Manchester City’s Alf Inge Haaland during the Manchester United vs. Manchester City 2000-2001 FA Premier League fixture”, read an FA statement. “The first charge is as a result of the challenge itself on Haaland, which is alleged to have been improperly motivated, with an apparent element of revenge. The second charge relates to Roy Keane allegedly publishing for financial profit or reward, an account of his autobiography, in which he speaks of a desire to exact revenge on Haaland, therefore bringing the game into disrepute.” Keane has 14 days to respond to both charges.

And finally, at the Court of King Kev…

The Daily Telegraph printed the following insight into KK’s life as a Scunthorpe player. “Two former England managers meet at Aston Villa tonight when Kevin Keegan’s Manchester City take on the side managed by Graham Taylor. Keegan began his career at Scunthorpe where he became friends with Taylor’s father Tom, who was football reporter on the local paper. “Graham’s dad Tom was a reporter on the Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph and on away trips, for a joke, I would pretend to be his ventriloquist’s dummy,” Keegan said. “I was very small and he was a big guy. We were the entertainment on the bus – which shows you how desperate the lads were for a laugh!” (Thanks to Heidi’s Dad for this nugget).

Don Barrie (


ESPN Asia said that Arsenal have now scored in 40+ consecutive games – approaching the record of 44 held by City in the 36-37 season. Did I hear it correctly – can anyone confirm this? So we need 2 from Anelka at his old club and a clean sheet.

ESPN also said that one-third of China was watching the Everton match because of Sun Jihai and Li Tie – wow! – that’s 333 million people – do you think that they would be interested in a package deal on Coronation Street?

Neil Roberts (


Concerning the new transfer window system imposed by FIFA. Obviously the FA wouldn’t want to upset FIFA, but in a fashion similar to the Bosman Ruling, surely a club could take the matter to the European Court?

In these days of free trade in Europe etc. how can a ruling body stop an employee of one company (football Club) stop another from seeking employment with a rival company as often as he chooses? Is this not illegal?

Maybe I am wrong but it’s just a thought.

Paul Farrell (


Just a quick note on the conflicting attitudes of some of our players during the Everton game. I think most of us could see that Berkovic and Benarbia were not cutting it and that one of them had to come off. Berkovic in particular doesn’t seem able to tackle a hot dinner at the moment never mind an opponent. I reckon in the 2 home games so far he’s ‘bottled’ at least 6 challenges and looks off the pace. Consequently the midfield isn’t performing and he feels that he’s first change (true). However, rather than supporting the team Berkovic walked off down the tunnel. This could be construed to be a player unhappy with the manager’s decision or a player unhappy with his own game. Either way he has to change. I think Tiatto has to start. His energy is second to none, he tackles and he will cause the opposition as many problems, if not more, than Eyal.

Berkovic’s attitude is really what we were told to expect from Anelka. However, it couldn’t be further from the truth. He’s been outstanding. He has taken his goals well, tackled back, made last ditch clearances and looked a team player. The players all seem to like him and he is clearly enjoying himself.

Just a footnote on the Coward Keane saga. There is only one solution. KK just needs to offer Andy Morrison a short term deal for the OT game, stick him on the bench and give the last 10 minutes. Job done.

Mark Robison (


City’s game vs. Everton on Saturday wasn’t on Fox Sports TV here in the USA so we had to listen to the Capitol Gold broadcast via the MCFC website. Now this is usually very good, but could someone explain why they had to have that ex-Evertonian Graham (?) Sharpe doing commentary alongside Gary Owen?

Having a balanced team in the commentary box is all very well if it’s BBC Five Live or something, but this isn’t supposed to be balanced or objective, is it? It’s a Manchester City website and listeners presumably expect to get only one-eyed biased pro-City opinions. Not only that, but Sharpe got more than his share of air time and he was a whole lot louder than Gary Owen; it’s bad enough to be sitting there listening to Everton attack at 2-1 with ten men, it makes it worse to hear this Scouse-Scots git screaming “Yes!” or “No!” and telling listeners what Everton must do to score. Hope this “balanced” approach is not going to be regular practice, or we will have to listen without the sound or something.

Ken Corfield (


‘Punishments for sporting incidents are best handled by the ruling body of the sport or event concerned.’ These are the words of Fran Weaver regarding Keane’s assault on Alfie. I agree in part to the point being made, however I would personally make one change to the above sentence ‘Punishments for sporting incidents should be best handled by the ruling body…’.

Everyone who saw the incident knew he was trying to smash Alfie’s leg, but what did the FA do? They gave him a standard three match ban, remarkably similar to the ban that Tiatto got for pushing a Norwich player at Maine Road last season. The Norwich player was able to continue, albeit with Start Pearce making his feelings known. A standard three match ban for Keane was wrong, and yet another example of the FA’s incompetence. If the FA had acted correctly at the time then the issue could have been dead and buried two seasons ago.

What we have to remember is Paulo Di Canio made physical contact against a referee, which was definitely completely wrong, but at the end of the day it was a non-dangerous push, which the referee milked for England. He got a severe ban for months, Roy Keane went for a referee after disagreeing with his penalty decision and had the ref not ran away something similar or even worse could have happened. Again the FA failed to act.

What Roy Keane did to Alfie was wrong, and he has no remorse, only pride in what he did. The way the FA acted was wrong, and they have not even begun to consider looking at themselves and their own conduct. Finally, and possibly the biggest culprit of all is the way Manchester United football club reacted. They are a disgrace and I am forever in my cousin’s debt because he made sure I didn’t turn to the dark side when I was a child in a school full of red devils (there’s never been a more apt nickname for a football team).

Martin Alldred (


Fran concludes by stating that a single bad-tempered foul should not be allowed to permanently sour relations between the city’s two great clubs. To my recollection this is the fourth such occasion on which a bad foul by a United player has either ended or come close to ending the career of a City player.

Glyn Pardoe nearly lost a leg by amputation following a reckless challenge by George Best (for which the latter subsequently apologised); the great Colin Bell’s career was ended by a disgraceful challenge from Martin Buchan; and a City youngster never played again after being scythed down in a youth team game against United.

Fran believes that the PFA could consider sanctions against members who deliberately harm the careers of their fellow professionals. When will that ever happen if Gordon Taylor (check the PFA website) expresses concern for Roy Keane’s career following his admission and says that these things are best laid to rest? Since when Taylor has stated that Leicester City were wrong in sacking Dennis Wise after he attacked a team mate and were only trying to offload him to cut their payroll.

Fran claims there were few cries for legal redress at the time of Keane’s tackle on Haaland. That was presumably because the Greater Manchester Police, acting on complaints they had received, presented the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions who decided there was insufficient evidence to make a prosecution. The fact that Keane has now admitted culpability and shows no remorse means that the matter quite rightly is being re-examined both civilly and criminally.

As far as I’m concerned there is only one great club in Manchester. Whilst Keane, the captain, and his arch apologist Ferguson, the manager, are at Old Trafford there is no way that the word great could be applied to United.

Yours sincerely, John Clancy (


In response to Fran Weaver (MCIVTA 843) I would normally agree that disputes should be settled within the disciplinary procedures of the profession. However, in this event the FA, the PFA, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Trafford club have all failed to act. In fact some of those mentioned have acted as apologists for the thug. This was not a normal bad tackle, it was a premeditated assault and therefore deserves to be treated differently. It was not a rush of blood such as Cantona at West Ham (which was dealt with), it was a clearly thought out act of vengeance.

As for damaging relations between the clubs, or the fans, this could have been avoided if they had taken action themselves but they chose not to. Up to now City’s restrained reaction to the attack on the team captain has been exemplary. Let’s suppose for a moment the boot had been on the other foot (so to speak) and the thug had been crippled by a City player.

I am looking forward to City taking them on both on and off the pitch. The off pitch dispute should provide a great side-show to a great season. I am also looking forward to giving the thug a big Maine Road welcome on November 9th, as I’m sure most City fans are. Get well soon Roy!

Pete Husband (


Under normal circumstances I would agree with Fran Weaver (MCIVTA 843) that the courts should not be involved in a football matter