Newsletter #1480

A win’s a win as we nudge past FC Twente tonight 3-2 – no doubt more on that game in Monday’s issue.

Tonight we have Alex’s news round up with reaction to the recent games, more fixture changes, injury updates and January transfer rumours.

We also have opinion on the squad and performances so far and the usual requests.

Next up our old nemesis and their new manager.

Next Game: Tottenham Hotspur, home, 3pm Sunday 9 November 2008


General News

Final Warning: The current crop of players who have been brilliant at CoMS and awful away from home have been told by the manager that they need to shape up or ship out. With a bottomless pot of money to come in January, Hughes is well aware that he can afford to bring in a whole new eleven. Therefore the likes of Dunne, Jo and Richards need to live up to their reputations. Sparky clearly said that he wants quality rather than quantity in the Spring but it is time to perform, otherwise a few big names may be on their way out: “We’re looking to be stronger in all areas and if we can bring quality players to the club that will enable us to be stronger then we will do that.”

Just Our Luck! City gain a multi-billionaire owner and talk of a salary cap heightens. Why is it always us? Now that City can pay who they want, what they want, Chairmen of different clubs have come to the forefront complaining. Where were they during the Abaramovic saga, the Glazer saga, the Hicks/Gillett saga? Whilst the rest of the Premier League is planning a revolution of the wage structure, Hughes believes that it is a long way off and that it may even be illegal within the sport to operate: “I doubt you will get a salary cap, I think European rules would forbid it. A lot of things are discussed at Premier League chairman level. How realistic they are I don’t know but I can’t see two tiers happening anytime soon either.”

Technological Bonus: It feels a little like any excuse for the away form at the moment and Hughes spoke recently of the need for technology to clear the game up of referee misgivings. Never mind the defensive frailties or the fact we can’t put the ball in the back of the net, it must be the refs’ fault because after all if the ref hadn’t have got the ‘Boro penalty wrong then we’d have got three points wouldn’t we? Oh no, that’s right you need to score to get three points. The call for technology was made clear by Hughes: “We’ve had a number of decisions go against us. Obviously, these decisions have a direct bearing on the outcome of a result. The ones that have gone against us have been significant and they do affect the outcome. There is, certainly at the top level, a need for clarification of situations. This is something that needs to be looked at because the stakes are so high.”

Applaud the Wally: Whilst I plan to be one of the 40,000 who will give the most useless manager in England’s history a hard time tonight for the way he made me waste my summer, City manager Mark Hughes has a different point of view entirely. Though he accepts McLaren’s tenure as national boss was hardly successful, Sparky believes that you can’t deny that McLaren has the attributes to manage a side that can compete with the best, having led Middlesbrough to a UEFA Cup final: “Steve has always been one, you feel, who always had his career path mapped out. I think there was always going to be a time when he wanted to ply his trade in a different country. He’s decided to do that and it takes a little bit of courage. He should be applauded for that because he’s made that decision and wants to develop as a coach and as a manager. He is obviously enjoying the experience at the moment because results are going for him.”

Fixture Farce: Further fixture madness as Sky claim another Premier League for their own. Gone are the days of the Saturday 3pm kick off and on 31 January, City’s trip to the Britannia has been placed earlier in the schedule. Rather than the planned 3pm K.o. City will now begin their attempts at winning an away game on the same date but at 12.45pm.

How Stupid: MCFC prodigal son SWP has reportedly let himself down and opened himself up to an FA investigation. As tempers flared at the Riverside, Southgate and SWP exchanged words and then, it is rumoured, that the England international winger used a two fingered gesture towards the ‘Boro manager. Now, I’ve always been a big fan of SWP and there are very few who were more excited than me when I first heard he was coming back home, but if this had been Joey Barton then it would have exploded onto the front pages. As a rôle model, the winger shouldn’t be putting himself into these situations and having been the model of dignity in Spain when he was racially abused, I feel a little let down that SWP couldn’t have been a little more professional when the cameras were watching. The FA has gone looking for camera footage of the incident but nothing has happened in a week, so it may be that the situation has died down with the hype.

Squad News

Petrov Injury: The shard of false hope that was the chance of Petrov’s return in the coming weeks has been shot down by the physio assessment, which states he will require surgery. There was a belief that if the area around the winger’s injury could be strengthened then he may be able to make a shock comeback in a fortnight to finally play alongside SWP. However, now it seems that the Bulgarian will have to sit it out for at least four months though the manager has played down reports that this is the end of his season: “The feeling is that the strengthening work we have been doing is not, unfortunately, going to be the answer. It won’t end his season, but it will be a significant length of time that he will be out, three or four months most probably.”

Welcome Return: The reserve win against Liverpool this week saw the much awaited return of some experience. Benjani, Michael Ball and Darius Vassell all came through the game without further problems and the Zimbabwean striker even managed to get his name on the score sheet for that added boost of confidence. City have looked shaky at the front and back of late and so to have these experienced names back can only be a bonus to Hughes who claimed: “It’s good news that Darius, Benjani and Michael all came through OK. By all accounts they all did very well, they’re unscathed and we don’t expect any adverse reactions. It’s important that they got some game-time under their belts, but they impressed and Benji scored into the bargain. They will come into the equation, we’ve got young strikers here and at times we have lacked a little bit of experience up front so it will be good to welcome them back.”

Brazilian Brothers: Watching international superstar Robinho walk through the doors of CoMS was exciting for everyone involved with the club but none more so than versatile midfielder Elano. The Brazilians, who played together as youngsters at Santos and are currently co. members of the national squad, have both complimented each other’s style of play but now Elano has gone further by making it clear that you will only see the best from either of them when they play together: “I was very happy when I heard he was coming, because I look at him as one of my brothers. I always tell him that he was missing me, that’s why he came after me here! I know what I can do with or without him, but he has often told me that he needs me around to improve his game as well.” A genuine comment from Robinho? Or a clever ploy from last season’s top scorer who hasn’t quite been a firm fixture in the squad this season?

Transfer News and Gossip

Angelos Tsiaklis: The young Cypriot has become one of a host of last year’s FA Youth Cup winning squad to go in search of first team football by way of a short term loan. Wrexham is his destination for one month and the creative midfielder will be wishing to become a regular in Dean Saunders’ squad in the hope of gaining a longer contract.

Nedum Onouha: The English right back may be on his way out of the club having failed to make an impression on Hughes and Co. Onouha, who was a regular come the end of last season under Sven, has suffered form injuries during the summer but now he is back to full fitness he believes he should be given his chance in the first eleven (and who can argue given the amount of goals conceded?). Blackburn Rovers is one possible destination with England capped left back Stephen Warnock probably moving in the opposite direction to CoMS.

Post-Match Reaction

Middlesbrough: Away form won’t be going on Hughes’ CV anytime soon as the Blues struggled to overcome opposition who were hammered by Chelsea the other week. Granted, Chelsea have had four years of building, but the gulf in class is huge and City’s hierarchy are going to have to pump a lot of money into the club to push for a top four spot. The manager spoke of his defensive dilemma: “That’s something that’s been a problem for us, so we’re trying to get the right balance of the guys back there that will enable us to have a defensive platform to be able to bring in the attack minded players they have in front of them.” He also commented on the performance of man of the match and Boro ‘keeper Ross Turnbull: “We tested him in good areas and situations but we needed to convert at least one of those chances. I think that if we’d have scored first we would have won the game quite comfortably. They got the rub of the green with the penalty decision and it became more difficult for us after that.” I suppose we should be glad that the goal tally didn’t quite reach eight.

Bolton: And yet another dismal performance away from home. Not only are the Blues making me question whether or not they can push the top four in coming years, but going of this sort of form they’ll be lucky to make top ten. This away form is simply not acceptable and if Sven was sacked for the awful displays that City put on during their travels next season then it could be argued that Sparky has a lot to do to keep his job come next summer. The man himself stated: “In fairness Bolton worked hard and credit to them, but we need to be better than that, you’ve got to be more dynamic. We allowed too many crosses into our box and in the end they’ve got the ball where they wanted and capitalised on those situations and scored two goals. We need to recognise where we’re weak and address those frailties. You have to be stronger in possession but we failed in that respect. We need to be stronger mentally and physically.”

Alex Rowen <news(at)>


After enduring City’s shambolic performance against Bolton and their equally inept display against Middlesbrough, it’s pretty obvious that City’s samba boys don’t have the guile to break down a stacked defence. All is well and good when the opposition wants to play football (e.g. Portsmouth) but teams like Bolton and Middlesbrough are where they are in the league because, home or away, they can only play negative, defensive football. Which means they block up the middle for dear life, hope to hang on for 70 minutes until they totally discourage the opposition, then they try to poach a winner.

The frustrating thing is that City know what they are going to face, yet don’t seem to have the tactics to break teams down. Against Middlesbrough they were a bit unlucky not to score first, but against Bolton they never looked like breaking through. For this, Hughes has to take the blame because he doesn’t seem to have tactical options. If he is going to persist with Robinho, Elano and SWP game in, game out, they need options coming from the middle. They need someone with a football brain who spray the ball around and spread out these defences. Punting the ball downfield and hope that SWP or Robinho can break through isn’t going to work on a blanket defence. And what’s with our back four? At least last year we could count on Richards, Dunne, Corluka and Ball to shore up the back. This year’s back four is totally disorganized. What’s with playing Richards at left back? I know Ball missed that penalty against Brighton but is he banished to purgatory for that one mistake?

Yes changes will be made in January but looking at the current squad, you sense they just need a bit of reorganization. One thing is for sure, our Abu Dhabi friends are not going to cough up the cash and continue to watch inept performances against Bolton and Middlesbrough. Sparky’s leash is about to be shortened.

Blue but getting Bluer, Keith Sharp – Toronto, Canada <keith(at)>


I was struck by two things that Martin Tyler said during his commentary on the Bolton match.

Firstly, that in 18 matches this season, City had used 16 different combinations of back four. Is it any wonder that there are problems with lack of communication in our defence and a lack of organisation against set pieces?

Those who have criticised Dunne, Hart, Richards and Co. in recent weeks should consider that fact and how difficult it makes their jobs. I know injuries and suspensions haven’t helped, but Hughes really needs to decide on his best combination and stick with it. And what’s happening with our new Brazilian left-back, Berti? He’s been on the bench a couple of times, but is he any good?

Secondly, as Ricardo Gardner came on as sub, Tyler commented that he hadn’t scored a goal for 6 years. How many watching City fans groaned “Oh God” at that point, knowing exactly what would happen later?!

John Caley <john(at)>


Not only is Micah played “out of position” but also Elano. The only position Elano is effective in is where Sven played him originally and where he was his most successful. Remember how many goals he got/made and accolades he received. If MH wants him in the team because he feels it’s the route to get the best out of Robinho, then he has to set-up the team differently. Incidentally, Modric’s situation at Spurs has been the same: HR has pushed him into the hole to do a Elano/Berkovic job, with good results.

MH is fast becoming, in my book , a “tactical moron”. The examples/list is now so long we don’t have the time to reiterate them.

Finally, I became very angry at about 7:30pm last Saturday (watched Spurs/Liverpool live on Spanish TV) after discovering how good a left back Corluka is. He’s just as good there as at right back.

And such a charismatic/great player. One in a million. Such class and composure. And we let him go, while still needing desperately a left back.

I’m not sure what hurts the most. Losing Charley or the pathetic performances of MH and his coaching staff.

Thank God I’ve still got Barça to keep me happy and how well they are playing right now.

Patrick Knowles <pjamk(at)>


I agree with nearly all of Walter Smith’s comments (MCIVTA 1479). Just the one I feel you got wrong and that is the Mark Hughes issue.

I’m really not sure he knows what to do, especially away from home. I was expecting a real hard to beat team under him, a bunch of players that will fight tooth and nail, challenge for every loose ball and have a never say die attitude. The reason for this was because they would be to scared to go back to the changing room and face the wrath that is supposedly Mark “the spark” Hughes.

Though I know we fell away towards the end of last season, at least Sven knew how to get a result. First, play free flowing open football at home, with the crowd as our 12th man would always help. Second, away from home counter-attack football. It’s what the so called top four do and all that play in the Champions’ League. Currently I look at our players and they don’t know what they are supposed to be doing and when. I’m not saying get rid, I agree he needs time as all managers do.

All I’m saying is I don’t think he can take us forward (well all the money will help).

Richard Swallow <regswallow(at)>


I have digested the Bolton match reports from Brazil and also watched the game on TV.

I have said it before and will say it again: Hughes simply does not have the tactical experience or skill to set up a team plan against opposition that can mix it! Against the likes of Arsenal etc., fine. Wigan, Bolton, Brighton etc., no chance!

Sooner or later most of you will realise he is not the long term future of MCFC. We need a experienced manager who has won things. Not managed a mediocre mid-table club such as Blackburn.

However, the good news is that here in Brazil City shirts outnumber Rag shirts by around ten to one! Robinho is God!

Ray Bardsley <ray.bardsley(at)>


Get off his back, City fans are rather fickle. They have voted Dunney player of the year for the last 4 seasons. No one becomes a bad player overnight.

He is, however, having a poor run of form but is still the best defender City have on their books. He has to make up for his long term partner being moved across to right/left back depending where Sparky needs him to play.

We need a proper left back and another centre half for cover. I am at a loss with Ben Haim, I am nervous whenever he receives the ball., I am not surprised Chelski let him go, laughing all the way to the bank.

The defence will improve once a settled back four is in place week in, week out. Zabaleta looks ok at right back (Nedum a decent sub), need to get Dunne and Richards back in the middle and the left back is a problem. Garrido is good going forward, Ball is a more solid defender. I don’t think either one is good enough if the team is to move forward in the direction City fans would like it to go, need to get some quality in in January.

There are many players linked to City. I will leave that decision to Mr Hughes, he picked Kompany up from nowhere for a song and looks to be worth the money paid for him.

Rant over.

Steve Alcock <Salcock(at)>


In response to Mark Leahy’s query in MCIVTA 1479 regarding Dunne’s own goal tally.

I am reliably informed that he has scored 6 own goals, which is horrendous. We owe a lot to Dunne for his service over the years but we are playing in the now not the past and he simply isn’t up to it now. Maybe ‘Arry will try and sign him for Spurs and maybe this time we won’t try to stop him.

Whilst Dunne’s goals ‘against’ is shocking, his goals ‘for’ is even worse. He really should watch a DVD of John Terry when it comes to the goal scoring side of his game, so long as he stays away from penalty taking!

Keep the faith.

Andrew Keller <akcity(at)>


Paul Robinson says in MCIVTA 1479 in reply to Bernard Molyneux “It’s hardly nearing relegation is it?”

Paul, as I write this, we are 2 points off relegation mate!

John Nisbet <nisbet1957(at)>


I’ve a collection of City programmes that are free to anyone who will collect them from my home (Whitworth) or work (Newton Heath).

The programmes are from the late 80’s to the mid 90’s. Most are in good condition but some of the earlier ones have had the player photos from the centre removed.

Roger Haigh <roger.haigh(at)>


We have lived on Lanzarote now for eight and a half years and own our own bar here, the website address is We already have a following of about 26 supporters who join us for all City’s games in the bar, we never miss a game.

If any other Blues based in Lanzarote or visiting on holiday would like to get in touch they are assured of a great welcome.

We plan to hold a Man City night once a month to try to raise awareness that City fans can come and join us for the games and not miss out when away from home, be it on holiday or living here in Lanzarote.

All the best.

Arthur and Cath Moore, Arthur’s Bar – Sunny Lanzarote <arthursbar(at)>


Despite being in the depths of depression after the Bolton game, we managed to finish the latest issue of King Of The Kippax, number 164, and are pleased to say that it should hit the streets tonight at the F.C. Twente game. It’s another bumper issue with 52 A4 pages at £2.50. It contains the usual match reviews and previews including much on Schalke and indeed an interview with Ian Cheeseman who, as we all know has Schalke as his second team. There’s also an informal chat by Sean Riley with Garry Cook, and amongst many other things a tribute to ex-City player in the 60’s Jimmy Murray who died recently. So it will be on sale at the next batch of games, also in Urbis and Needbest or from 25,Holdenbrook Close, Leigh, Lancs for £3.20, cheques to King Of The Kippax.

And a final thought, did someone once say “there’s as much chance of the USA electing a black President than City winning a trophy”? Someone must have, so keep the faith eh!

Dave and Sue Wallace <dw001e8104(at)>


3 November 2008

Newcastle United      2 - 0  Aston Villa           44,567

League table to 05 November 2008 inclusive

                              HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD  Pts
 1 Chelsea         11  3  2  1 13  3  5  0  0 14  1  8  2  1  27   4  23  26
 2 Liverpool       11  4  1  0  8  4  4  1  1  8  4  8  2  1  16   8   8  26
 3 Manchester Utd  10  4  1  0 13  4  2  2  1  6  4  6  3  1  19   8  11  21
 4 Arsenal         11  3  1  1 12  7  3  1  2 11  5  6  2  3  23  12  11  20
 5 Aston Villa     11  3  2  0  9  5  3  0  3 10  9  6  2  3  19  14   5  20
 6 Hull City       11  2  1  2  5 11  4  1  1 12  7  6  2  3  17  18  -1  20
 7 Everton         11  1  2  3  6 11  3  1  1  9  8  4  3  4  15  19  -4  15
 8 Middlesbrough   11  3  1  2  7  9  1  1  3  4  7  4  2  5  11  16  -5  14
 9 Portsmouth      11  3  1  2  8  6  1  1  3  3 11  4  2  5  11  17  -6  14
10 Manchester City 11  3  0  2 15  6  1  1  4  8 12  4  1  6  23  18   5  13
11 West Ham United 11  3  0  2 10  8  1  1  4  5 11  4  1  6  15  19  -4  13
12 Stoke City      11  4  0  2 10  9  0  1  4  3 10  4  1  6  13  19  -6  13
13 Blackburn R.    11  1  2  2  3  8  2  2  2 10 12  3  4  4  13  20  -7  13
14 Newcastle Utd   11  3  1  2  9  7  0  2  3  5 11  3  3  5  14  18  -4  12
15 Sunderland      11  2  1  2  5  6  1  2  3  4 10  3  3  5   9  16  -7  12
16 Fulham          10  3  1  1  6  3  0  1  4  2  6  3  2  5   8   9  -1  11
17 Wigan Athletic  11  1  1  3  3  8  2  1  3 10  8  3  2  6  13  16  -3  11
18 Bolton Wndrs    11  2  2  2  6  5  1  0  4  4  8  3  2  6  10  13  -3  11
19 West Brom A.    11  2  1  3  8 11  1  1  3  2  7  3  2  6  10  18  -8  11
20 Tottenham H.    11  2  1  3  6  6  0  2  3  7 11  2  3  6  13  17  -4   9

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1480