Newsletter #933

Heidi’s having ISP trouble at the moment so I’ve stepped in temporarily to keep MCIVTA going. Hopefully the problems will be resolved over the weekend but please keep contributions coming in to the usual address. Sorry if I missed anyone’s contribution; it’ll appear in a later edition.

Tonight we have Don’s news round-up, a report of City’s victorious North-West Masters outing and the usual requests and opinions.

One small correction regarding MCIVTA 932; Dillon Allie suggested an online store where U.S.-based City fans might find the new kit cheaper. This should of course have been, not Thanks to Jim Heaviside for pointing this out.

Next game: Mansfield Town vs. MCFC, 3pm Saturday 19 July (friendly)


General News

Sky Blue for Hundreds of Years! Last week, when KK surveyed the COMS for the first time, he sounded like Harry Potter arriving at Hogwarts for the first time – full of awe and optimism. This week, at the launch of the new kit, it sounded like Reebok had been spell bound. “We intend to turn Manchester sky-blue in the months and years to come.” KK was slightly more measured: “It would be fantastic, but it won’t be easy. The top four looks like no-man’s-land, doesn’t it, when you look at the clubs there and the investment they’ve put in, but that’s the challenge for us. It’s been done before by clubs not spending a lot of money but with a good spirit. I’m sure we can make this a more difficult place to win than at Maine Road last season, where we lost eight games and still finished in the top half. We’ve got to go forward again and I think we will.” He clearly enjoys working with John Wardle: “I love the chairman. He’s great. He’s been very supportive of the club as a major investor, and terrific to work with. I think the money that’s had to go into the stadium is money well spent, an investment in Manchester City for what could be hundreds of years. And so far we’ve got two terrific signings who haven’t cost a penny.” If KK is young Master Potter, I cannot confirm the rumour that Lord Voldemort is red-faced, speaks with a strong Glasgow accent, and makes boots fly as if by magic.

Chairman John Loves… If Kevin loves John, it’s clear that John loves Kevin. “I want Kevin here for the rest of his career – and I hope he celebrates his 65th birthday here.” He added: “All this talk about Kevin being a quitter is a load of rubbish. I don’t think that side of him exists. He wants success so much that it’s unbelievable.” Wardle believes Keegan has provided the stability required to challenge the neighbours. “We are far from in the shadow of United,” said the chairman. “What were the results last season? We are a big club and this proves it. We have a top class manager running the place. Who better than Kevin to bring this club the success it deserves?” Wardle was certainly forthright in setting his goals for the new season. “I hope we can improve on ninth. It would be nice to finish in the top six. As far as I am concerned the days of City being a yo-yo club moving between the divisions are over. There is a sign at Maine Road saying End of an Era, but I hope we are now starting a new era in the Premiership at the City of Manchester Stadium. We have a stadium that is second to none. It may not have the largest capacity but it’s the best stadium in the country because it’s purpose built for football. I hope we will soon be attracting England international matches.”

Going Going Gone! It was nice to get a final view of Maine Road over the weekend, as all UK terrestrial and satellite news programmes featured the auctioning off of memorabilia from the Old Place. The proceeds will go into regeneration schemes for the area that has been City’s home for 80 years. More than 1,000 fans marched into Maine Road to see their heritage sold off. They viewed lots that included sinks from the toilets to signs saying “No alcohol beyond this point”. The boardroom table went for £460, the door to the managers’ office brought £70 and the front doors to Maine Road £600. More than £10,000 was raised in the first hour alone, and when the 700-plus lots had been sold, charities were looking at a £100,000 windfall. The main cash was expected to come on Monday when tender bids closed for everything from the scoreboard, main banks of seating and the floodlights. The final total could approach £400,000. The bigger lots have interested the likes of Preston, Norwich and Stockport County, and it is clear City’s history will live on at a number of grounds. Mark Perry, spokesman for Manchester auctioneers Smith Hodgkinson, said: “Over 4,000 seats have already been sold at £12 each to season-ticket holders. People can buy a square foot of the pitch for a tanner, but the money will come from the big bidders. Leicester City’s scoreboard at Filbert Street went for £8,000 so you can judge how much such things from Maine Road will bring in.”

Spot The Difference: My favourite Maine Road auction story appeared in Saturday’s Guardian: “CITY WHITEWASH FOR SPOT OF BOTHER – Potential bidders should be careful what they buy at the auction Manchester City are holding at their old ground Maine Road tomorrow. Three of the hottest items on the sales list are expected to be the centre circle and the two penalty spots, for which Liam Gallagher of Oasis has declared he is willing to break the bank. However, when officials of the new owner of the ground, the city council, arrived last Monday morning to take possession they were shocked to discover three holes in an otherwise perfect pitch – one in the centre circle and one at each penalty spot. It seems someone took a small memento with them when City moved out. But, unfazed by this outrageous act of vandalism, someone was promptly detailed to find a spade and a pot of white paint. Within the hour all three holes had been replaced with turf from elsewhere and duly painted. Everyone was sworn to secrecy and the auction of the spots carries on without anyone knowing… until now.”

Weighty Fowler Claims Dismissed – Part 1: Leeds United have denied reports that Robbie Fowler has issued a £3.5 million writ against his former club for unpaid wages. A report in the Daily Mail alleged that the England forward’s claim could bankrupt the Yorkshire club. The story was swiftly denied by an Elland Road spokesman. “A writ has not been served on Leeds United and there is not a case for any such writ,” he said. “We have spoken to Robbie Fowler’s advisor and he confirmed no writ has been served and they are extremely comfortable in their relationship with Leeds United.”

Foe – A City Pays Tribute: Manchester got its opportunity to say goodbye to Marc Vivien Foe this week, as the club arranged a memorial service at Manchester Cathedral. Speaking before the service on Wednesday, Club Chaplain the Reverend Tony Porter said. “Marc was a much loved figure with players, club officials and fans alike. This memorial service will give us all an opportunity to reflect upon this very sad loss and to pay our own personal tribute to a man who contributed so much to our final season at Maine Road.” Kevin Keegan mentioned how he and the players had dealt with the death on their return to training. “We spoke about Marc a little bit when we came back to training last week and I have told the players to get together and think what they would like to do in his honour,” said Keegan. “We have a fair idea as a club what we want to do but I want the players to do something because they were close to him. He has a wife and three very young children, so it is important that we don’t let them down. We will do something big-style. He had also launched his children’s soccer school in Cameroon, so hopefully we will get some money together to keep it going.” The service was attended by almost 1,000 mourners, and Chairman John Wardle said to the congregation that Foe was “always described as a gentle giant, and that seems perfect”. Wardle added: “We all carry our memories of Marc and we all remember what a colourful person and a colourful character he was. Many times he would come off the training ground and we would look at him and his colourful gear – but he never gave me that Armani cap,” he said, to laughter from his audience. Wardle continued: “He was a man who loved his wife and children very much. He also came to me and asked if it was possible to send a large consignment of sports equipment for the children he worked with in Cameroon. That is the type of man he was. We will miss that smile and we will always remember him not just as a player but also as a friend. It was a great privilege to have known him.”

Transfer News and Gossip

Midfielders Wanted: KK has made clear the type of player he’d now like to buy. “The major, major concern for me is to replace Marc Vivien Foe now,” he said. “We’ve got a left-back after losing a left-back, we’ve got a forward line most clubs would dream of and I’ve got six top-quality strikers. But I said when Marc left it would be difficult to replace him and it is proving to be so. To replace someone who got nine goals from midfield is very, very difficult, but I would hope to get another midfielder in and perhaps another signing.” Once again Steve McManaman has been mentioned, as Real Madrid are anxious to unload Macca. The Daily Mirror claims that due to the costs of upgrading the new stadium, however, KK will not have sufficient funds to tempt the Scouser to join his mate Robbie Fowler. Chelsea’s injection of mega-Roubles this week has ensured plenty of speculation on who will be moved out of Stamford Bridge to make room for their new signings. The Mirror reckons that Emmanuel Petit could be on his way to the Citydel, in a £2 million deal. Former Arsenal team-mates David Seaman and Nicolas Anelka both think their former Arsenal team-mate would be an asset to City’s squad. Once again, the big snag will be Petit’s wages, which are well above the level City would like to pay. A third candidate for KK’s attentions was said to be West Ham’s Trevor Sinclair. Sinclair, a Manc who is a self-confessed City fan, almost joined the Blues 10 years ago when Peter Reid tried to sign him from Blackpool. The London press state that a bid of £2.5 million would capture the England international. A fourth candidate for the job of midfield anchor is Feyenoord’s Paul Bosvelt. The 33-year-old is said to be disillusioned with the Rotterdam club’s selling of Brett Emerton and Pierre van Hooijdonk, and has quit as captain. Interestingly, City play Feyenoord in a friendly in a few weeks.

What Not To Buy: KK brushed aside any suggestions that the slow movement within the transfer market is causing him some anxious moments. “I’m not anxious at all because I think the game has changed so much,” said the Blues’ boss. “If you look back to my days at Newcastle, you would be panicking at this stage if you hadn’t got all your players in. But there is going to be a lot of movement in these next two or three weeks before the transfer window closes. It needs one or two deals to set it off. Once that happens, you will find that we will be involved. We do not need much. We do not need five or six players, like we did last year. When I first came here I thought we needed something like seven or eight before we could go on but if you look at our strike force now, it is unbelievable. Then you look at us defensively and we have some good players like David Sommeil, Sylvain Distin and Michael Tarnat. While players like Sun Jihai, Richard Dunne and Mikkel Bischoff will compete for places.” There’s clearly no need for any re-enforcement up front either. “I have got Darren Huckerby, Jon Macken, Paulo Wanchope, Robbie Fowler and Nicolas Anelka all back in training,” said the boss. “I don’t think anyone in the Premiership has got five strikers of that quality. I have got Shaun Goater here still as my sixth and Shaun Wright-Phillips as my seventh striker if I need them. We are pretty good in that department so I don’t think I will be buying another striker!” Chairman Wardle has also been preaching the doctrine of prudence. “I don’t think there’s another club in England could come out with a stadium like this one,” he told the Daily Mirror. “It’s tremendous for us, but what you’ve also got to say about it is there’s £20m gone. ‘Sorry Mr Keegan, we’ve just taken a big chunk out of your transfer kitty.’ So you can understand why he hasn’t got the transfer kitty he really deserves. But we have got the stadium. So we will have to generate it and go another season or two before we can start saying there’s big money around. But Kevin is a great manager, he’s very commercial. He understands the situation. He knows exactly where we are and will react accordingly.” Asked if he knew KK’s player targets, Wardle replied: “I am waiting to find out who they are as well! It will be interesting,” remarked the Chairman. “Kevin is the manager and he goes for the players he thinks are right to bring here. It is down to him now. He does all the work. Kevin knows football and footballers, club and managers inside out. He has a great reputation, not only in the UK but in Europe as well. Kevin goes direct. He keeps me informed and when he is ready to sign a player he comes for approval. It is all down to him.”

Trabelsi Update: Thanks to Henk Timmer, who has contacted me with the Dutch reporting on the moves for Ajax’s Algerian Hatem Trabelsi. He says that City have not been mentioned as a possible destination for the player, only a couple of English teams playing in Red. It may be that Ajax are preparing to sell the wing-back. “Trabelsi has only one year left of his contract and Ajax are about to sign Escud