Newsletter #1452

As Don bows out tonight with enormous thanks from us here at McV Towers, City have progressed to the second qualifying round after beating E/B Streymur 2-0 at Oakwell. Other news tonight include the new arrivals of a ‘keeping coach and Ben Haim, and departure of Corradi. There’s also more news on the Thai trials for both the owner and the three players from the national squad who have been over at City recently.

Opinion tonight on SGE’s tenure, the former number eight and the usual requests.

So it’s goodbye from him and hello to Alex Rowen who will be joining us from next week for the news summaries.

Next up Stockport, with a reminder the fixture has been put back to 1pm.

Next Game: Stockport County, away, 1pm Saturday 2 August (friendly)


General News

Rhodes Rides In: The Academy has a new goalkeeping coach. It’s Andy Rhodes, the former Oldham goalie, whose last job was as goalkeeping coach at Ipswich Town. “We never stop trying to improve the players we produce at the Academy and we identified some time ago that there was a hole in the coaching set up when it came to goalkeeping,” commented Academy boss Jim Cassell. “Alex Williams and Dave Felgate have done a great job on a part time basis but with the calls on Alex’s time getting more and more demanding he felt it was the best time to stop his coaching rôle and we have decided to go for the full time option. Andy will have a year long contract to see how we get on with him and visa-versa. He has played in a Littlewoods Cup final and had plenty of experience at all levels both coaching and playing and we are sure that he will be a great addition to the staff here. He arrives having done well at Ipswich where he worked for Joe Royle and he knows this club too having been here before for a short while.”

Fixture Fun: A little bit of fixture meddling to report. The kick off time for City’s friendly at Stockport has been confirmed as 1pm, and not midday as previously stated. And Aston Villa’s success in the InterToto Cup means City’s visit to Villa Park on the opening day of the season has been put back 24 hours. Martin O’Neill’s side will now be playing in the UEFA Cup on the preceding Thursday, so the curtain-raiser will now kick off at 3.00pm on Sunday, August 17.

Blues are Masters of the North West: City enjoyed a winning week – at veteran level at least. The Blues won the North West heat of the Masters Football tournament at the M.E.N. Arena, and march on to the national finals at the NEC in Birmingham on September 7. City’s squad included such luminaries as Eric Nixon, Ian Brightwell, Keith Curle, Ali Benarbia, Mike Sheron and Fitzroy Simpson. Simpson was named player of the tournament, while Sheron was the goalscoring hero with four goals in the three games. City beat the Reds 2-1 and Leeds 4-1 to reach the final, where Sheron scored the only goal of the game versus Oldham. Sheron, now youth team coach at Bury, said: “I’ve always enjoyed putting the ball in the net, so I was thrilled to get four for the tournament. It’s always nice to score against United, too! It’s over 10 years since I left City, but it’s still a club close to my heart.” Ali B mused: “I was lucky I was playing with a good team, because I’m not sure I helped much! I haven’t played football for a long time, and it’s hard to be fit. I plan to come back in September for the finals.” What does the Algerian maestro think of City’s present position? “For Manchester United, it is very easy. They need to be first. For Manchester City, the question is: Do they want to be in the top six or is it enough to stay in the Premier League? If it’s the latter, that’s OK. But you need to decide. Until now, no one has decided. When I see what has happened with the club and the players, the manager and so on, this is always the issue. We will see next season what happens.” He certainly rates Mark Hughes. “He did a very good job at Blackburn,” Benarbia said. “I saw them play many times before he arrived and they were a middling Premier League club. He came in and did very well. He made them a strong team at home and brought in some good players. I hope he will do something good in Manchester. But I’m not sure if he will be given a chance to do what he wants to do. Maybe he has not come at a good time. I hope for City, for the fans, that everything will be clear for the manager.”

Taxing Times: It’s not been a good week for Dr. Thaksin and his family. Earlier in the week a court in Bangkok accepted charges in a third criminal case against the former Thai Prime Minister. Thaksin and dozens of government workers and ministers are accused of abuse of power in a state lottery that lost around £500 million from 2003. The telecoms billionaire must now await a court hearing in September which will decree whether he and 46 others involved in alleged tax exemption and misspending irregularities must repay the money. Then today Thaksin’s wife and her brother were sentenced to three years in prison for tax evasion, the first convictions in a string of cases filed against the family. Pojamarn Shinawatra, 50, and her brother Bhanapot Damapong were also found guilty of providing false testimony and documentation on a 1997 share transfer, the Bangkok Criminal Court said. She was promptly released on $149,000 bail and walked out of the Bangkok Criminal Court with her family into a waiting car. Thaksin’s spokesman, Pongthep Thepkanjana, said lawyers planned to appeal. “Thaksin is not disheartened,” he said. “They respect the court ruling but it is not the end. We will fight until the end.” The News Summary’s advice to Sparky: spend up as quickly as possible, Mark. [Thanks Peter Carlisle]

Go, Jo! It’s good to see that Jo’s in goalscoring form, albeit not yet in a City team. He found the net for Brazil’s third goal in their warm-up for the Olympics, a 3-0 victory in Singapore. Oh and some bloke called Ronaldinho scored the second. Never heard of ‘im. Jo meanwhile is looking forward to being a hit in the Premier league, but he knows it’ll be difficult. “I know it’s not easy to play in England, but I can score a lot of goals,” he said. Liverpool forward Fernando Torres netted 32 times in his début campaign at Anfield and Jo wants to be just as successful. He said: “I can’t say that I’m better than him, but my job is the same as his – to score lots of goals. I decided to come to Manchester City because it is one of the clubs that showed more interest in me, although I had offers from other clubs,” he explained. “After I spoke to the manager I was very pleased. I was told Manchester City are a club going forward. We can go places, that is our objective.”

The Football Factory: Executive Chairman Garry Cook is still impressed by Mark Hughes and the new methods he’s bringing to the club. “He has not only brought a good number of new people in, but he’s brought great quality with him, which is the ultimate goal. Mark surrounds himself with great people, he embodies all the time just where are trying to go as a football club. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. His feedback to me on what he has seen so far has been very, very positive. It’s easy for a new manager to criticise, because that makes them look better. Mark has not taken that approach, he’s been very pleased with the players in their reaction to the new system. He has most definitely put them through a new work regime, and he feels good about that. He also took it upon himself to change the facilities at Carrington, changing the environment that everyone works in, and I think that is highly commendable,” he said. We soon had an inkling of that new environment. Hughes’s backroom team have not merely been working their players hard – a strict clampdown on discipline at Carrington has made sure there are no longer any distractions for the less focused. Entrance to the training ground is by appointment only and carefully screened. Mobile phones and iPods are out. Hughes said: “There’s no longer an open door to everybody. Agents and every Tom, Dick and Harry were allowed into the building, and that’s not the case now. Certain structures have to be adhered to, or you end up with anarchy. The training ground is very much a working area now. I’m not really one for putting down strict guidelines. But what the players have to understand is that there are certain boundaries which shouldn’t be stepped over. It’s not revolutionary making the training ground our place of work. Maybe that wasn’t the case before. Too many people had access to the building, the inner sanctum. It’s where we try to hone our skills. It’s a football factory. Most people aren’t allowed to go to see their mates when they’re working in a factory, so why should they be allowed to come to our factory? The players can see the benefit. It’s helping us create the atmosphere that we need.”

Transfer News and Gossip

Big Ben Clocks In: In my last week as News Editor, City kindly laid on a transfer for me, albeit a somewhat underwhelming one. Israeli international defender Tal Ben Haim joined from Chelsea for an undisclosed fee and subject to a work permit (many of the reports mentioned a fee of around £3 million). “I think it’s a very good club and a famous club with a lot of ambition,” he told the club’s website. “I want to win things with this club and I know for many years that hasn’t happened. It’ll be hard and it takes time to build something. I know Mark Hughes matches my ambition. As a player he won nearly everything and of course he wants to do the same as a manager. He has ambition, the passion and the desire to do that and it matches my ambition because I am like that as well. I want to help City to be a better club and to win something. I spoke with my agent and even though we had some better offers I preferred to come here because I think it’s a good club with a lot of ambition,” he continued. “As I’ve said, we want to do better things here than over the last few years. There were a few other clubs, but after I spoke with the staff here and my family, I think it’s the right club to try to build something new. There were some from abroad as well, but I preferred to stay in England.” And could City be increasing their Israeli contingent by 100%? The Daily Mail report that City and West Ham have been scrapping it out to sign Yossi Benayoun from Liverpool. Benayoun on his day is a dynamic winger, and while Hammers’ fans would love to see the Israeli return to Upton Park, it appears that they can’t match their rivals’ latest offer. City have made a £6 million offer for Yossi Benayoun, all but ending West Ham’s hopes of re-signing the Israel midfielder.

Keep Open Your Peepers – We Need a ‘Keeper: Mark Hughes wants to sign another goalkeeper before the start of the season. City already have Joe Hart and Kasper Schmeichel to choose from, but the recent departure of Sweden international Andreas Isaksson to PSV Eindhoven means Hughes wants an experienced third ‘keeper to provide backup. “There is an opportunity there,” Hughes said. “We have lost an experienced goalkeeper, and if we can get the right quality in we are looking to add experience. That’s important, not only for the development of the very good young ‘keepers we have at the club, but also because we should have the cover of an experienced ‘keeper.” Fulham’s Anti Niemi has been mentioned, and until Brad Friedel signed for Aston Villa, there was talk of a late move for the American shot stopper.

Rich Pickings: Italian waste of space Bernardo Corradi has joined Serie A’s Reggina on a free transfer having been released from the final year of his City contract by Mark Hughes. Corradi, who scored a whole three goals during his City career, spent last season on loan at Parma, but now joins the Italian strugglers, who finishes 16th last season. Fellow Italian Rolando Bianchi was on the bench at Oakwell tonight, and was clearly shown on ITV 4’s coverage to be picking his nose at one point – apart from his tap in at West Ham last season, that digital digging may have been his most memorable contribution in a City shirt. Potential suitors Torino have told Bianchi he must pull his finger out (as it were) and cut his wages if he wants a move. “Bianchi is a prisoner of his own wage deal,” stated Torino owner Urbano Cairo. “If he follows Ronaldinho’s example and cuts his wages, then things could change.”

Ex-Blues’ News

Barton Sprung: Joey Barton was released from jail this week. Barton left Strangeways prison after serving 74 days of a six-month sentence for beating up a teenager in Liverpool city centre last December. Kevin Keegan will welcome Barton back to Newcastle when he returns to the club, but he admits that the controversial midfielder has plenty of work to do to regain people’s confidence. “Joey will be back towards the end of the month,” Keegan told Radio Five’s Sportsweek programme. “It’s well-documented that he’s had his problems, but I knew of those problems at the time of taking over. I told him, as long as he did things right and started to rebuild the confidence of those around him, which he has to do, we would stick by him. And the Joey Barton we had for the last two months of the season was a much-changed character.” Keegan continued: “He’s been punished for what he did wrong, and the world is littered with people who have deserved a second chance, got it and taken it with both hands. There are a lot of things he has to put right with people, but I think he can do that. It’s up to Joey now, and he’s got to win a lot of people over.” PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor believes KK could be the ideal character for Barton to be working with. “Hopefully Kevin thinks he can work his oracle with Joey and get his life back on track, both as a human being and as a footballer,” Taylor said. “Kevin is very much a people person. He has shown his emotions quite clearly in public. We’re all human beings and we all have our failings. At the same time you’ve got to be responsible for your own actions. We’ve tried to help Joey with the Sporting Chance clinic and to be there to help him when he’s needed it. But you need to see something in return. It’s not been good, it wasn’t a good year, but the lad does have ability and you keep hoping he can put it behind him and move on. Whether that will happen, I don’t know.”

Reactions and Comments

Ich Bin Ein Hamburger: Mrs. Barrie thought I was mad to spend Saturday afternoon, on the hottest day of the year, watching City’s pre-season friendly against SV Hamburg on the telly. And do you know what, readers? After 90 minutes watching the turgid proceedings from North Germany, I was forced to agree with her. City were always second best to Hamburg as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat against the talented Bundesliga side. Midfielder Jonathan Pitroipa scored the only goal of the game after he took control of a loose ball in the box and slotted it past City goalkeeper Joe Hart. Pitroipa proved to be a constant threat to the City defence and the Burkino Faso international could have doubled the German side’s lead but he failed to take advantage of a mistake by City captain Richard Dunne. The Blues came out stronger in the second half but failed to take their chances. Martin Petrov came closest for the visitors but his left-foot shot from the edge of the penalty area sneaked past the post. Kasper Schmeichel put in an impressive performance after coming on to replace Hart at half-time, with the Dane pulling off good saves to deny Nigel de Jong and Anis Ben-Hatira. Mark Hughes was able to put a positive spin on the day’s work, telling Channel Five after the game: “It was a good work out for us against good quality opposition. I was pleased with where we are fitness wise. They’re very receptive to what we’re trying to tell them and it will get better I’m sure.” Hughes continued: “It was an excellent game for our preparations at this time of the season. Hamburg are an excellent side, a little bit ahead of us in their preparation and maybe that showed in the first half. We allowed Hamburg a little bit too much time on the ball, the conditions were difficult and it was very, very hot out on the pitch. It was a difficult day in that respect, but I thought we were better in the second half, we affected the game, made Hamburg a little bit more predictable and forced more errors in their play. We needed to do that, and it was something we had not done in the first half. I thought it was a good game, it was very effective for us, and it will help us in the weeks to come. Hamburg gave me an opportunity to have a look at some of the younger striker options that we have,” Hughes explained. “It’s important that they have the opportunity to play in these games in good stadiums, against good crowds and good opposition. That can only help their development, so it’s important that I understand what options I have. It’s still a number of weeks to the start of the Premier League, there’s a lot of work to do but I was pleased they were able to get on the field and have an impact. I think for these young players that is really important.”

We Won’t See More of Streymour: On Thursday evening City reached the second qualifying round of the Uefa Cup with a comfortable 2-0 win over EB Streymur of the Faroe Islands. Having won the away leg 2-0, second half goals from Martin Petrov and Darius Vassell in the home leg this evening saw the Hughes crew win 4-0 on aggregate. City dominated the match right from the get-go and if it wasn’t for a heroic performance from Strymur goalkeeper Rene Torgard, City could have scored many more goals. The Blues were unlucky not to take the lead in the first-half as they hit the woodwork twice. Defender Vedran Corluka saw his header come crashing off the bar while Petrov’s volley came back off the post. City eventually made their pressure count as Torgard failed to clear a Vassell corner and Petrov volleyed into an empty net. The second-half was a replica of the first as City continued to dominate, but without record signing Jo, they were wasteful up-front. They did mange to grab a second as Vassell rounded Torgard to score late on.

Squad News

Mee Myself and I: Youth team skipper Ben Mee is not ruling out a spell on loan during this new season, if it helps his development. “You don’t know what to expect at the start of the season, anything could happen. I could go on loan or I could end up in the first team. But ideally I’d like to progress myself and keep getting better and better, wherever that may be, whether it’s in the reserves or out on loan. I’d be happy to go out on loan, gain some more experience and just keep progressing really,” he added. “It’s all vital experience, be it in the lower leagues or wherever, we’re going to have some tough games and come up against some tough players which is all good. I’ve spoken to a few of the lads about it recently, Ched went out last season, he loved it and did really well. He’s back now and everyone’s buzzing about him. Shaleum Logan did very well out on loan last season too and got himself a bigger profile, and people in the game have heard of him so it’s a great benefit.”

Micah’s Flexible: Mark Hughes likes to have players in his squad who can play in a number of positions, and he thinks he may already have one of those players in Micah Richards. “I’ve always had players in my squad that have the ability to play in a number of positions because I know that it helps me come match time,” Hughes said. “Instead of dragging players off and replacing them with others, I can move people around. It means I can have that flexibility without making personnel changes. That helps. I like flexibility in players if they can put that into their game.” And Micah is the perfect template for a player with versatility. “Micah is an outstanding athlete as well as a very good footballer. His physical attributes lend themselves to other positions. He may not have a perfect understanding of each and every rôle, just he hasn’t got the experience yet. But physically he’s capable of playing in a number of rôles. Micah and I see him as a centre-half this season but there will be occasions when circumstances dictate that he plays in other positions.”

Hart Not Stopping: With City supposedly in the market for another goalkeeper, Joe Hart is looking forward to the challenge. “Everything is a challenge, most Premier League clubs and especially the big ones like ourselves need strength in depth,” says Joe. “A third goalkeeper goes without saying, I think we definitely need one. This time last year I was injured, and so was Andreas. That’s how it works, and the good thing about this club is that I’m sure they will bring in a decent goalkeeper. Whoever is playing, and fingers-crossed that it’s me, will be able to do a good job and keep the team rolling. Obviously we are in a position where we can bring in better players, but you have to believe in yourself, and that’s what I do. Whoever they might bring in, I would back myself. I want to keep enjoying my football, but the only way I can do that is if I am playing. That’s what I want to do, I want to establish myself at Manchester City and keep going.”

Thai Trio Terminated: (Well, their contracts at least). Peter Carlisle has also alerted us to the fact that City are likely to terminate their contracts with three Thai players. Thailand internationals Suree Sukha, Kiatprawut Saiwaew and Teerasil Dangda signed eight months ago but have not yet played for the club. The signings were regarded by many as politically motivated as they were signed just a few weeks before the general election. Suree and Teerasil were loaned to Swiss club Grasshopper Zurich and Kiatprawut to Belgium’s Club Brugge, but none of them were given a chance to play. It was reported that Club Brugge did not want defender Kiatprawut because he was injury prone, while the Swiss side were not willing to help pay defender Suree and striker Teerasil’s wages.

Well that’s all from me folks! I must thank Heidi and Paul for all their help and support over the years I’ve been writing these ramblings, and thanks also to you MCIVTA contributors who’ve sent me stories. It’s been great fun, and I’m sure I’ll miss the weekly attempts to hit those Thursday deadlines. I’m leaving the News in good hands, Alex will I’m sure be bringing you all the news that’s fit to print (and hopefully some that isn’t!).

Don Barrie <news(at)>


Most of us old enough to remember will regard relegation at the hands of Luton in 1983 as one of the worst memories in a lifetime of supporting City. If John Nisbet finds it reason enough to welcome Luton’s desperate plight now, that is his right, but I feel more in sympathy with the rather more balanced view expressed by Phil Bannarjee.

David Pleat could not hide his joy at the final whistle and can we really blame him? His team had achieved a most unlikely result to survive in the top division – his emotions and those of Luton’s supporters were probably similar to how we felt when Dickov scored at Wembley in 1999. City’s relegation wasn’t the fault of Luton Town or their supporters, as Phil points out, they were doing what they had to do.

In later years there were plenty of reasons for disliking Luton, most notably their repulsive Thatcherite Chairman, David Evans and his two innovations, the plastic pitch and the identity cards. However, what does Mark Jones think gives him the right to refer to Luton’s ‘Thatcher loving fans’? I live not far from Luton and know and have known many of their fans. In my experience most of them were utterly embarrassed at Mr Evans’ antics, resented the unpopularity of the club that resulted from them and were delighted when Luton Town was rid of him.

In 1983 I worked with a fanatical Luton fan. We had a small bet on the game and on the Monday morning I paid up with very bad grace. His reaction was dignified, he knew how bad I felt and refused to rub it in. I’d like to think I would have done the same had the situation been reversed but I’m not sure I could have managed it. I only found out by accident some years later that he’d never felt able to spend the winnings from the bet and that the banknote was gathering dust in a drawer in his home.

He would be extremely upset and angry to find himself described as a ‘Thatcher lover’. He deserves better, as do many of his fellow supporters. Mark should think more carefully before dishing out blanket insults.

Geoff Watts <geoffwwatts(at)>


Last season under SGE was a comparative failure according one of our contributors and that encouraged me enormously. If failure equals staying in the top half of the English Premiership all season, beating the Rags home and away while winning the youth cup and finding yet more talent coming through the ranks, I look forward an immediate attenuation of such abject misery under Sparky. This coming season should be orgasmic.

Scolari has be quoted as hoping that Chelsea might win all four trophies. Can I suggest that our prospects now mean we should be tad more ambitious: perhaps our lads could win a few gold medals in Beijing pre-season for starters. Bearing in mind our chairman’s record for patience and understanding, Sparky could usefully get some practice in for the High Jump for instance.

For those who think this contribution not entirely serious, can I suggest that the occasional wildly optimistic post should be encouraged in order to prevent MCIVTA becoming slightly gloomier in tone than one might find in a trade magazine for funeral directors.

Peter Llewellyn <simethis(at)>


I have to agree with Andy Morris in some of his views on SGE, I always was a big critic of his team selections when after bringing extra strikers into the club he continued to play just one striker up front, and bringing on for the last 10/20 minutes one of the new strikers, which to me was doing nothing for the team.

SGE I think had a certain amount of luck in bringing players to the club that at first gelled together, but the same players faded after Christmas, other clubs got to know the City tactics that at first was new to everyone, agreed that Richards a major player in the defence was injured, but for all SGE’s experience he was never able to get the team back on track for whatever the reasons after the Christmas period.

Having said the negative about SGE, I still felt that he deserved another season. I, like many others, felt he had not been given the chance to finish the job. All the players appeared to like SGE, and maybe something internal at the club had changed their attitude after Christmas.

SGE is now history, and we must move forward and give Mark “Sparky” Hughes the time he needs to build his Manchester City, he has a task at hand for not all of SGE players have been gems and I feel some more players have to leave before Mark Hughes starts to see his City team.

All managers, it does not matter who they are, will not always pick out players that will be gems. Of course some managers are better than others, I wish Sparky all the best in the World. He is in no rush to buy players but to really study who will be best for his City team before being bringing them in.

In Sparky we trust, come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


Barton told the Daily Sport Reporter:

“The first day’s the toughest, no doubt about it. They march you in, hand you your uniform and force you to pose for the photographer while loads of fat, tattooed, skinheads shout abuse at you. That’s when you know it’s for real. A whole life blown away in the blink of an eye. Nothing left but all the time in the world to think about it. That’s when it hits home. That’s when you realise you’ve signed for Newcastle.”

Joel Perry <j.perry(at)>


Does anyone know anywhere to watch the game on Thursday in Honduras?

Struan Malcolm <struan_Malcolm(at)>


Three season tickets available for most matches; due to work commitments I won’t be able to attend many.

All sat together East Stand Level 3 Block 304/5 Half Way Line. Each ticket £27 per match. Doesn’t matter who we are playing, it’s still £27.

Anyone interested please contact Steve O’Brien by email at the address below.

Steve O’Brien <steveobrien72(at)>


Are MCFC going to produce a fixture list wallpaper for season 2008/09?

I asked Dave Clinton who produced a very good one two years ago, but unfortunately due to his work and other commitments will not be able to make one for this season.

If MCFC do not come out with one, is there anybody else out there who can make a good one for other City fans to use?

I realize that trouble with a fixture list, is that fixtures keep changing to accommodate TV games, so allowances have to be made for the changes.

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>

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Newsletter #1452