Newsletter #1247

Another week and two players confirmed as leaving in Academy graduates Croft and Flood. A round-up tonight on transfers and bizarre rumours, friendly games and a look ahead to China from Don.

We also have opinion on Channel M, statistics, betting odds and the usual requests.

Next game: Kashima Antlers (Friendly), away, 6.15pm Sunday 6 August 2006


General News

Another Bally Friendly! City have agreed to play Ballymena United on August 29 in a friendly. The game will take place in Northern Ireland, and fulfils a pledge made by City some 7 years ago as part of a deal struck when former Ballymena ‘keeper Richard McKinley joined City in 1999.

A Bit Faulty at Alty: The Reserves got off to a winning, if shaky start this week under the tutelage of Frankie Bunn. The second XI faced Altrincham, but soon found themselves a goal down after Kasper Schmeichel failed to deal with a Warren Peyton free-kick. Wythenshawe lad Colin Little, a lifelong City fan, helped himself to the goal. City improved things in the second half, and were soon in front thanks to a brace of goals from Daniel Sturridge. Kelvin Etuhu soon increased the lead, and ensured a 3-1 victory for the Blues.
Team: Schmeichel (Hart 46), Logan (Obeng 80), Williamson, D’Laryea, Breen, Johnson, Flood (Moore 70), Laird (Williams 80), Etuhu, Sturridge (C Evans 76), Bowman (Grimes 63).

China in Their Hands: On Tuesday City jetted off to China, for a two game tournament – they face Shanghai Shenhua on Friday before taking on Kashima Antlers two days later. Of the first team squad, only Andy Cole and Nedum Onouha remain at home for treatment. “Our reasons for the visit to China are pretty straightforward really,” said SP. “There’s a tie-in with one of our players being Chinese, Sun Jihai, who represents the national side. Also the fact that I thought last year’s trip to Thailand went extremely well and again in these games we will be facing top opposition. Another draw for us to go to Shanghai is the Chinese people’s love of the Premiership. So if we can show people Manchester City in the Far East it can only be good for our Football Club and hopefully people can come over and watch us or follow us on the television.” Pearce thinks it’s also a good opportunity for younger players to impress: “We’ve bolstered our squad with some new players and that’s a bonus but any of the young players who catch my eye during the other pre-season games will come with us.” He concluded that “I think all things considered, in this day and age, to spend the full six weeks at your own training ground is just too long. We needed to break that up and last pre-season went very well with having that week long break to Thailand in there.” One of the players looking forward to the tour is Claudio Reyna. “I’ve never played in China, I have played in Hong Kong before it became part of China again. I’m excited about the trip, it’s a long way to go but the best thing will be the opponents. We can get some good games in, the conditions will be good for our fitness, it will be a physical work-out playing in the heat over there and it will help us for the beginning of the season,” he says.

Transfer News and Gossip

Lo Blow: Last week City were still being linked with Portsmouth striker Lomana LuaLua, mainly because the player was sounding off about being forced out of Fratton Park. What a difference a week makes, as the DR Congo international has now signed a new three-year deal with Pompey. “There has been a lot of speculation about my future but I’ve always wanted to remain with Pompey,” he told the club’s website. “Portsmouth is a unique up and coming club with very passionate fans and I feel very much at home here, so I’m naturally delighted to have secured my future at Fratton Park.” Clearly we all misunderstood last week’s reported comments.

Croft Off: Lee Croft duly joined Norwich City this week after the clubs settled on a £700,000 transfer fee. Croft told Norwich’s official website: “I was really impressed with the facilities and the club in general when I came down last week to meet the manager. I can’t wait to join the rest of the players for training in the build-up to the first Championship match at Leeds next weekend.” The M.E.N. reported Croft’s sadness at leaving the Blues: “It came as a proper shock when I was told that Norwich wanted me and that the club had accepted an offer,” said the winger. “But I don’t want anyone thinking that I was forced out. Stuart Pearce was honest and said that he couldn’t offer me a guaranteed starting slot or predict how many games I would get but assured me that he was happy for me to stay. It is obviously a wrench that I am leaving but I have to view it as the next stage of my career and a huge challenge. I am sorry to leave behind City’s fans; they have always been great to me. I thank the club too, because they gave me my chance.” Norwich boss Nigel Worthington added: “The right side of midfield is an area we’ve been trying to strengthen for two years now, and I’m delighted Lee has now agreed to sign for us. He will be a huge asset to us with his direct style, his pace and his general approach to the game.”

Flood Banks on Cardiff: And continuing Psycho’s purge of the younger ranks of the squad – Willo Flood has joined Cardiff City. The Dublin-born midfielder underwent a medical on Tuesday and signed on the dotted line on Wednesday. He is expected to be in the squad for Saturday’s season opener at Barnsley. Flood, in the last year of his contract at City, was reported to be signing a four year deal. The fee was said to be £200,000. The 21-year-old from Dublin made 18 appearances for the Blues since his senior debut against TNS in the UEFA Cup three years ago. Flood scored in the first Premiership game he started, at home to Norwich in November 2004. He also had two loan spells in his time as a City player, with Rochdale in March 2004 and Coventry City at the start of last season. SP said: “It was a good financial offer from Cardiff that was beneficial to the Club. And with Willo being of that age, 21-years-old, he wants to go and play first team football. He’s not been able to do that with us and now due to the arrival of several first team players and with some more Academy players coming up, it would have been difficult for him. So if we can get him out playing football, we feel as a football club, we’ve helped to coach the players and get them to play as high as they possibly can. Willo’s a fantastic kid who gave his all while he was with us and we can only wish him well at Cardiff City.”

Taking a Flyer on Fiore? City and Charlton Athletic are closely monitoring developments concerning Italian playmaker Stefano Fiore. The two Premiership sides have been tracking the player for some time and, knowing that Valencia are keen to sell, it looks as though his future will be decided very soon. Fiore was on loan at Fiorentina last season and Valencia are keen to remove him from their wage bill and are therefore looking to strike a permanent deal for a nominal fee. Thanks to Vanes Mazoli for letting us know that Gazzetta dello Sport has reported the possible move, and that City might hold the advantage in snapping up the schemer. “Corradi was with him at Valencia and apparently his happiness and enthusiasm for his new club is behind this,” writes Vanes.

Choking on his Cornflakes: By gum, there’s been some rum goings on this week concerning City’s former skipper Sylvain Distin. The defender is heading into the final year of his contract and SP is looking for him to extend his commitment to City. But what’s this? First we hear that Portsmouth (yes, them again) had agreed a £4 million deal to sign Distin. And then we heard that Sylvain was in the North East, discussing terms with long time admirers Middlesbrough. As if to counter these rumours we had word that City were pondering a move for Reading’s Senegal international Ibrahima Sonko as a replacement. He was supposedly worth £2 million. City though were having none of these discourses on Distin. A City spokesman said: “Sylvain has not been given permission to speak to anybody. He remains a Manchester City player, and continues his pre-season at Carrington.” A more entertaining rebuttal came from SP as he prepared to jump on a plane with the squad to China. Giving one of those unblinking stares he used to employ against faint hearted opponents on the pitch, he fixed a gimlet eye on the Sky Sports’ reporter and said “How can Sylvain be in Middlesbrough – he’s getting on this plane with the rest of us.” Good point, Psycho, who continued: “He’s a Manchester City player and he will be on our tour, so I was quite surprised to turn on the TV and see over my corn flakes Sylvain was supposed to be talking to Middlesbrough. We have offered him a fantastic contract and we hope he will sign it,” he added. “One thing that might force his hand is the success of Manchester City over the next season, possibly the likes of Joey Barton and Micah Richards wanting to be part of the club and also the new faces like Didi Hamann and Ousmane Dabo. Hopefully we will bring in one or two more allied to those we have already got.”

Championship Bound? According to Sunday’s People newspaper, Sunderland are considering a loan move for Ben Thatcher. The former Welsh international left-back may not be a first-choice for City next season after the emergence of Stephen Jordan and new Black Cats supremo Niall “Two Hats” Quinn is hopeful that a loan deal for the 31-year-old can be agreed. And in other news – someone rates Antoine Sibierski, and that man may be Birmingham City boss Steve Bruce. The recently relegated Brummies are apparently bidding for Fulham’s Brian McBride, but are meeting with little encouragement from the Cottagers. So if (as seems likely) that bid fails, then Sibs is next on the shopping list. Boss Bruce has made a final offer of £1.2 million for USA international McBride as he continues his search for a new striker, so Sibierski is thought to be a cheap alternative.

Late Snippets: What is it with Portsmouth at the moment? Today we had yet another report of Harry Redknapp declaring an interest in one of SP’s boys (note to FA – is that legal?), and this time it’s David James. Redknapp has declared that Pompey are ready to offer City £2 million for James. “We need another ‘keeper and David is a very good player. He has been England’s number one and is proven in The Premiership,” said Redknapp. City are reported to be in talks to complete the signing of Tunisian full back, Hatem Trabelsi. Trabelsi is available on a free transfer after being released by Ajax in the summer and is reported to be close to agreeing personal terms with the Blues. Arsenal were also said to be monitoring Trabelsi’s situation but it seems that City may well be in pole position to sign the player who had a good World Cup for Tunisia. There are rumours are going around today that Liverpool’s Aussie international, Harry Kewell, is set to sign for City on a free transfer. City seem light on the left side of midfield, so reinforcement in that area would be appreciated – however, Kewell has a poor injury record and might have to accept a drop in wages for the honour of pulling on the Sky Blue shirt.

Reactions and Comments

Claudio Reyns on Their Parade: Last Saturday Claudio Reyna netted to hand City a narrow 1-0 friendly win over Bradford at Valley Parade. SP fielded a strong side featuring summer signings Dietmar Hamann and Bernado Corradi – making his début – with Paul Dickov coming from the bench at half-time. Reyna, who recently announced his retirement from international football after the USA’s disappointment at the World Cup, scored the only goal after seven minutes. Winger Trevor Sinclair picked out the former USA captain on the edge of the six-yard box and the midfielder calmly placed the ball home. Young City goalkeeper Joe Hart produced some fine saves in the first half as Bradford pressed forward while at the other end, former Lazio striker Corradi also impressed. The Pearce verdict on the latest friendly? “We were a little bit low tempo but we have got 90 minutes out of a few players and looked comfortable at the back,” he said “There were no injuries for us and I’m pleased with that. Bernardo has had his first 45 minutes and we have options up there. Vass has a slight injury and Coley is still on his way back, so what we need is options with the boys up front so I am pleased with how it’s gone. Because we have a few new faces we are learning to play with each other, so with three tight into midfield and two slightly further up, it was going to be slightly difficult for the one up front on his own. I also thought Dunne and Distin were outstanding for me today.” Goalscorer Reyna was pleased enough with his run-out. “It was nice to get the 45 minutes under my belt, the most important thing is the fitness and as I only started last Monday it was good to play,” he said. “The first couple of days back in training were tiring and I was a bit sore, but it has not been too bad. It’s normal to feel like that for the first few days but we will go to China and get a few more games in. It’s important to work now for the fitness because it’s a long season.” City used a 4-5-1 formation at Valley Parade, with Corradi playing up front, a system, which Claudio revealed, may be seen in competitive games this season. “It was something new, and that’s what pre-season is all about, to try out new systems and players in different positions. We might try this system, especially away from home this season, so it’s the best time to try it when there’s less pressure and there is time to work on things like this.”

Squad News

Nice Ice Baby: Skipper Richard Dunne reckons that City’s players are fitter than normal for this time of year. “The coaches have been impressed with our level of fitness, they seem to think it’s a lot higher than at the same stage last year,” said Dunnie. “That has made it easier because they can push us on a little bit harder, and give us more football work earlier on than before. The more football we get in, the better because we can get on the ball and start making more tactical decisions. If you just spend the first two weeks of pre-season running, it cuts short the footballing time.” So has the recent hot weather had a detrimental effect on the preparation of the players? “It’s not affected things, we have just carried on as normal. Yes, it’s been roasting but it could be like this on the first day of the season so we just have to keep going. As hot as it is, we do our running and training and then get into the ice baths, which are nice at this time of year.”

Don Barrie <news(at)>


The Racing Post guide to the new season came out on Wednesday and City fans might be interested to learn of a few bets they recommend where the Blues are concerned.

Gabriele Marcotti – one of the most clued-up football journalists in Europe, in my opinion – has tipped City to win the Premiership ‘without the big four’ (i.e. finish fifth) at 25/1 with Ladbrokes. As Italy’s most famous football writer, he obviously knows a thing or two about Ousmane Dabo and Bernardo Corradi and this is what he had to say:

“The most interesting market on the Premiership is the one without the big four and Manchester City may turn out to be the best of the rest at 25/1. I believe Georgios Samaras is due for a big year. There is plenty of scope for the young Greek international to develop and he could strike up a lethal partnership with Bernardo Corradi, if the Italian settles.”

“Corradi, a former Azzurri international, is a big striker who is outstanding in the air. My only reservation is that he was always one of the most fouled players in Serie A and he must learn that free-kicks don’t come as easy in England.”

Meanwhile, Mark Langdon, one of the paper’s resident tipsters, thinks we will be one of the dirtier teams in the Premiership this season and reckons punters could do worse than an each-way bet on City to be the worst disciplined team in the top flight at 14/1 with Skybet. He says:

“Stuart Pearce was known as a bit of a nutter in his playing days and Psycho’s Manchester City team should reflect his hard man image this season. Skybet make City 14/1 to be the worst-disciplined team in terms of picking up cards (one point per yellow, two per red) and that is a decent each-way shout.”

“Only Blackburn, who are favourites, managed to collect more bookings than City’s 70 last year and there is plenty of potential for more ill-discipline. Racing Post columnist Didi Hamann has arrived at Eastlands and while not a dirty player, he rarely lets an opposition player glide past him.”

“Hamann has been joined in the City engine-room by fellow holding midfielder Ousmane Dabo, who has signed from Lazio. Dabo was regarded in Italy as a tough-tackling anchorman and he will be flying into challenges.”

“Pearce has also gone for Paul Dickov, which tells you exactly how City are going to play this term, while the likes of feisty Joey Barton are always going to be in trouble with the arbiters. Psycho’s mob could be going card-crazy and 14/1 is too big.”

Personally, I couldn’t argue with either piece of advice. The 25/1 on City finishing fifth is obviously one for the optimists but the price is just about long enough to be considered value. However, the 14/1 about City collecting the most disciplinary points looks a steal to me because I make us about 7/1 in the betting behind Sheffield United and possibly Blackburn, but slightly ahead of the likes of Everton, Watford and Bolton.

Another big-priced bet that City fans might want nibble on is the 33/1 that Skybet offer about Joey Barton finishing the campaign as City’s top Premiership goalscorer. Joey finished third behind Andy Cole and Darius Vassell last season on six goals but it’s interesting that five of those goals came on the rare occasions when Claudio Reyna was on the pitch.

With Hamann and Dabo around to shoulder most of the defensive responsibility now, Barton is likely to start remodelling himself in the marauding rôle of a Steven Gerrard if he’s going to secure that big contract we know he’s after – and that means he needs to get in amongst the goals. Andy Cole is obviously the hot favourite to win this market but if he suffers another campaign ravaged by injury then I think Barton will be there or thereabouts if he can push himself into double-figures because the other five strikers are likely to share their chances around. And it’s also worth remembering that Barton is likely to take the penalties this season – not that we usually get many of them!

If anyone’s in two minds about going to Chelsea, my advice would be to watch it in the pub and invest the ridiculous £45 ticket price on the following:

£10 each-way on City to win the Premiership ‘without the big four’ at 25/1 with Ladbrokes (pays £332.50 if we finish fifth, or £72.50 if we finish sixth or seventh).

£10 each-way on City to be the worst disciplined team at 14/1 with Skybet (returns £195 if we are the worst, or £45 if we come second or third in the table).

£5 on Joey Barton to be ‘Top Man City Scorer’ at 33/1 with Skybet (returns £170).

Mike Holden <mike(at)>


With the pre-season at the midway point, Mr Pearce appears to have followed to the letter the specifications for new additions. At the end of last season the team struggled really badly and looked completely without idea and leadership, SP stated that he would rectify this with captains/ leaders in the main areas of the field. It is with this in mind that he has signed:

  • Richard Dunne (new contract, elevation to team captain)
  • Dietmar Hamann
  • Ousmanne Dabo
  • Paul Dickov
  • Bernado Corradi

These additions will complement a very, very good youth set up where the young players such as Richards, Onohua, Samaras, Sturridge, Johnson, Etuhu, Ireland and the additional talent of Hart, will all learn valuable lessons from vastly experienced team mates.

We have also released two players who always looked unable to make the grade. Although they may return one day as better players, their performances in the Premiership to date, failed to show enough promise and form to be considered to be long-term first team players. The additional finance accumulated from both deals also completely justifies the release of Croft and BWP.

The latest contract negotiations with Barton also show strength from SP to hold firm and not buckle but remain astute enough to realise that Joey could have left for nothing next year while now we would be guaranteed at least the minimum his escape clause allows.

There still appears to be a requirement for a left footed midfielder and the addition of some real pace would enable us to stretch teams a little when the need arises.

All in all a good pre-season of additions, but as always we want a little bit more. Overall though congratulations SP and good luck Blues for next season.

John Elliott <JElliott(at)>


In MCIVTA 1246 Joel Perry wanted comments on the new Channel M Programme dedicated to City called ‘Inside MCFC’. I loved the idea of a programme dedicated to City, and was really excited and settled down to watch what I hoped was a quality 30 minute programme all about City with some highlights of our pre-season friendlies. My word, was I disappointed. Yes, it was all about City, yes we got extended footage (i.e. not just the goals) of our pre-season friendlies against Wrexham, Rochdale and Port Vale, yes we got interviews with Pearce and Captain Dunne, but I have to say production was pretty shoddy. In particular I felt the commentator on the pre-season matches was woeful; I don’t know how many times he said that Samaras was a Greek International, or the delight he got mentioning Dabo’s name. He was so far behind at one point that I thought we’d nearly scored twice. Dreadful, needs a hell of an improvement if we’re not to become a laughing stock.

As for the comments lamenting the move of Croft away from CoMS. He’s had plenty of chances to impress and all the reserve reports where he played a full 90 minutes were hardly raving, it seems he saved his better matches for England youth level. Plus you have to remember he’s 21 and was in the same under 17 England team as Wayne Rooney, that’s how far Croft hasn’t come on in his time at City, and you can’t blame the coaching staff as we’ve managed to produce gems such as SWP before and Richards since. My guess is that Croft has found his level, but like BWP I’d love it if they both proved me wrong.

James Walsh <james.walsh(at)>


Many thanks for the link to channel M in the last edition of McV; watched the City show with the coverage of Wrexham, Rochdale and Vale. I trust this show will continue through the season? You’ll need broadband but the feed worked very well. We get some City Premiership games shown in the USA on Fox Soccer Channel, but nothing else of note.

CTID, Tim Morgan <tjm(at)>


Fixture list wallpaper. It’s an amateur effort, feel free to download from the following site if it’s any use:

Thanks to Ernie’s encouragement and acting as guinea pig!

Dave Clinton <daveclinton(at)>


This is the full link to Bernardo Corradi’s Contrada of the Bruco flag. A very nice flag it is too. Also it’s a caterpillar not a maggot, must have been lost in translation.

I think this is important, as I don’t think Bernie would appreciate us chanting stuff like “Bernie loves his maggots, Bernie loves his maggots, la lah lah lahhh, la lah lah lahhh!”

Malc Hough <malcolm.hough(at)>


I think that the Times table on the all time Premiership/First Division, as drawn to our attention by Peter Carlisle, is inaccurate. I refer readers to the table published in the Independent on 5 October 2005, which I reproduced in full for MCIVTA 1163. To briefly summarise, the position last October was:

  1. Liverpool
  2. Arsenal
  3. Everton
  4. Stretford R.S.
  5. Aston Villa
  6. Newcastle
  7. Spurs
  8. City
  9. Chelski

I think that when the final points gained last season are added in, City drop one place (changing places with Chelski) to ninth. Readers can work things out for themselves by referring to MCIVTA 1163.

Barry Anderton <PBAnderton(at)>


Thanks for the replies about the Times table I sent in last edition. This is a subject of great interest to me, so much so that I had been thinking of researching it myself. I’ll definitely have a look at the table in the Independent to see the basis they used. The one in the Times had flaws but was interesting; one flaw was maybe they should have used a criteria of a certain minimum number of season to assess by as I noticed Wigan were sitting pretty after just one season, so if they’d won the Premiership in their first season they could in theory have been sat on the top of the all-time table!

Peter Carlisle <Carlisle(at)>


I know this is a City newsletter / website, but I plead with you include this in full.

I’ve had a ongoing debate here in Thailand with some Reds, that I firmly believe that ManUre are on the slippery slope following many decent years, kind of reminiscent of the decline ManUre went in to just before relegation in 1974 (brings a warm glow just thinking about it now). Don’t get me wrong, they won’t get relegated it’s a different game and era now, and it’s highly unlikely that any of the big money teams will ever have to suffer relegation again but these are increasingly becoming difficult years for ManUre and as I’ve repeatedly been saying, finding a successor to Old Red Nose will definitely mirror the tremendous task they had in replacing Busby!

From reading today’s Guardian online, it would seem I’m not alone; read this excellent article – it made my day, bet it will make yours too!,,1827876,00.html

Peter Carlisle <Carlisle(at)>


Many thanks to all who joined last year; I have set up another MCIVTA fantasy football league for the 2006/7 at the FA Premiership Website:

This is a free fantasy football competition to enter and it would be great if as many MCIVTA readers can enter as possible.

As there are still a couple of weeks till the new season, it gives everyone plenty of time to enter. Once you have selected your team if you click on the section for leagues and enter the following details:

Code to Join League: 349069-58892
League Name: MCIVTA 2006

Thanks and hope as many as possible can join; pass it onto as many friends as you want to.

P.S. Unfortunately I cannot get back into last year’s league to post the results but hopefully those who played kept track on-line.

P.P.S. More City fans play the game than any other team, let’s keep this up so we at least win something this year.

Scott Thomson <st1967(at)>


For any City fans travelling to Shanghai, there are a group of us meeting in a basement bar by the name of ‘5onthebund’ before the game on the 4th August – literally on the BUND by the river. Three of us are China based and four have travelled from the UK.

Garry Hallsworth <ghallsworth(at)>


Please can anyone suggest a good City boozer to watch the Chelsea game in Central London? I live in London but don’t have the necessary funds to splash out £50 to go to the Bridge to witness the first upset of the season.

Many thanks, Julian Douglas <julian.Douglas(at)>


I see City will be gracing these shores and as I currently am too, I wondered if there were some Belfast based Blues heading up to the game and whether any lifts and suchlike may be possible?

homas Bodey <tbodey01(at)>


Saw this on one of the City forums after rumours of Birmingham coming in for Sibierski:

The Lord’s Player

Our Tony,
Who scores one in eleven,
50p-head be thy name,
The chances come,
Goals wont be done,
At COMS as it is in Training,
Give Bruce this day your shiny head,
And forgive us your misplaced-passes,
As we forgive those who got past against us,
And lead you not into China,
But deliver you from City,
For thine is the corner flag,
The goal kick,
And the mis-kick,
Forever and ever.

Joel Perry <j.perry(at)>

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Newsletter #1247