Newsletter #1496

News tonight from Alex on New Year blues, fixtures, match reaction and the latest on injury updates and transfer rumours.

We also have opinion on money and the game, calls for calm, linked players and the usual requests, together with a dash of humour.

Next up Pompey, assuming they have got the de-icer ready.

Next Game: Portsmouth, away, 3pm Saturday 10 January 2009


General News

New Year’s Resolution: A Happy New Year to you all and let’s just hope that this time next year we’re looking at the table thinking “Do you remember last Christmas when we were in the relegation zone – gone are those days” but this is City and no doubt 2009 will be as turbulent as any other year. Over a Christmas that represented the whole season in two weeks, the Blues walked out 5-1 victors against Hull City, came back from two goals down to gain at point at Ewood Park with only two minutes remaining and then shattered Blues’ dreams as the boys allowed a struggling Nottingham Forest to walk out 3-0 winners at Eastlands. Before the FA Cup exit, the manager spoke of his aims for 2009: “The season has been frustrating because at times in certain games we have shown how good a side we can be and in other games we have really disappointed. What we need is a consistent level of performance and if we can get that then we can go into the second half of the season with confidence. We must go into matches expecting to win them, not hoping to win them. It has been a busy six months what with the change of ownership off the field and the UEFA Cup ties added to the mix. The number of games has been a drain on us in that sense but we are through to the knock-out stages in Europe and that, along with the FA Cup, gives us something to look forward to.”

Copenhagen Clash: The UEFA Cup draw for the last 32 of the competition has been made and the benefit of finishing top of the group stages is clear for all to see. The Blues will host and travel to Copenhagen FC for their second round tie. The journey to Denmark shall take place on February the 19 and the reverse fixture only a week later on February 26th. City fans should expect to see a familiar face as former Blues’ left back Niclas Jensen returns to Manchester as part of the Copenhagen squad. The winner of the tie will go on to face Aalborg or Deportivo La Coruna in last 16. Sparky stated: “There are all tough games at this stage of the competition but they will be going into the game on the back of their mid-winter break so maybe we can take advantage of that fact. It’s one of the tougher draws we could have had from the teams available to us, but we did what we needed to do to avoid teams like AC Milan and Valencia and that was top the group, so we’re pleased with that. It might be a couple of months off yet but I’m certainly looking forward to getting involved in some knock out European football.”

Fixture Frenzy (there’s not much you can do with a fixture headline): As a result of City’s continuing European adventure, the club’s Premier League fixture against Liverpool at Anfield, originally scheduled for Saturday February 21st will now take place the next day on Sunday February 22nd at 3.00pm.

Squad News

Wrighty’s Rough Treatment: Shauny Wright spoke to the MEN before Christmas about his return to the club and how the bruises on his legs are becoming badges of honour. The England winger has been kicked off the park all season by jealous opposition and little has been done by officials to combat the treatment he has been receiving. The prodigal son was more philosophical about the whole situation: “I do get kicked a lot – but I take that as a compliment and just get on with it. My philosophy is that if I can run I can play. When you play like I do then you get used to being kicked, I don’t think it’s any worse now than at any other times in my career. I just accept what comes my way; I’m always confident that I can get the better of anyone over a period of time. You get it in one match and then the next it starts all over again. It gets to the point where you almost get immune to it. I do spend a lot of time between games getting treatment but touch wood there has been nothing serious so far.”

Caicedo’s Chance: Ecuadorian Striker Felipe Caicedo has snapped up his chance in the first team ever since being re-introduced to City’s first eleven. The youngster, who joined from Basle last January, seemed to be on his way out in the summer when Hertha Berlin made enquiries regarding his availability and yet having scored four goals in five games now for the Blues, Caicedo has spoke about just how much he wanted to finally make his mark on the squad: “I am really happy, it has been a hard year for me but I knew could make it into the first team here. I have had to be patient, but I was determined to make the most of my chance when it came. My team mates have been very supportive of me, and I could not have got my goals without their help. The Manager and the coaches have also shown faith in me, so I wanted to show everyone what I could do when picked. Training has been hard work but it’s enjoyable, and I hoped that if I kept doing well in training then I would get a chance. There are some good strikers here, but if I can get some more goals I hope to keep my place in the team.”

Taking the Micah? The centre back, once described as the most promising young talent in the country and valued at a huge £18 million, has failed to impress this season and between him and skipper Richard Dunne, the once consistent and competent City defence has completely capitulated into one of the worst in the league. Following months of press coverage questioning Richards’ performances and partnership with the skipper, the twenty year old has bit back: “If course I am not the finished article I have lots to learn and I would be a fool to think anything else. What I don’t do is let anything that is thrown at me get in the way of training or learning and I know that it is important that I am a thorough professional. Football is the most important thing in my life. I have already played 100 first team games, which I feel is a good achievement for someone of my age and I am proud of my profession. I aim to make the most of my opportunities. I believe in my ability and I think City fans and England fans know what I am capable of. It is just a matter of me finding the kind of form I was in last season.”

For the Fitness Fanatics: Just a brief word on the injured players in the squad as questions are arising when the heck they’ll be back playing for the first team.
Valeri Bojinov: Expected to be out for six to eight weeks. Currently taking part in light training but yet to join up fully again with the whole squad. Wouldn’t be surprised if Hughes chose to focus Boj’ solely on fitness rather than first team duty for the rest of the season as Sven did last year.
Martin Petrov: Expected to be out for another two months. Knee surgery successful, but long way to go before ready for the day to day training of Premier League life.
Michael Johnson: The words “who knows?” come to mind. Johnson has reportedly stumped club doctors and physios with what his exact ailment is and the matter of when he will return is one that the experts cannot answer, never mind us mere mortals.

Transfer News and Gossip

Window Wonders: It’s going to be a long month for some of us trying to keep up will all the latest transfers in, transfers out and crazy rumours that the world’s best would even consider signing up to play on the blue side of Manchester. Rumours that City were focusing on Jermaine Defoe fell apart two days ago as he was reunited with former manager Harry Redknapp at former club Spurs. The more likely transfers of Roque Santa Cruz and Scott Parker are yet to even be negotiated and the more ambitious targets of Kolo Toure and Marco Senna will no doubt have been disappointed by the Blues’ lack of fight in the FA Cup at the weekend. With a striker, a midfielder and a whole new defence needed, let’s hope Hughes can keep my typing skills busy throughout January. Hughes spoke to reporters about his aims for the month: “What we are trying to do is make sure that when we do make those offers they are at a level that clubs will actually discuss. They are players that we want to attract so there is no point going in at a level that you know is going to be dismissed out of hand. It is about getting the balance and the pitch of the offer right and if you do that then more often than not a deal can be concluded more quickly. Long, drawn out deals tend to test everyone’s patience so it is better to look at the market, look at what you think the club that has the player would want and go in at that level. If valuations are way out of kilter then it becomes more drawn out. I have highlighted players that I think will help and then that is taken over by Garry Cook and Paul Aldridge and they conclude the deals. Managers always want a turnover of players because new faces give everyone a lift.”


Bridge Over Troubled Water: The first official signing of the January transfer window is that of England left back Wayne Bridge. Bridge, who has spent five seasons playing second fiddle to anyone else who could possibly play his position, has finally taken the opportunity to gain seem first team football and his £12 million move to CoMS will strengthen City’s faltering defence significantly. Mark Hughes has long been an admirer of the twenty eight year old’s talents, having played with him at Southampton and the Welshman fully believes that Bridge can stake a claim for his England spot once he plays week in week out: “Wayne’s a player I know. I played alongside him at Southampton and I saw him come through the ranks. He was an outstanding young player and he’s progressed year on year in his career. He’s a successful player. He’s an England international and has just played for one of the top four sides in the country. He’s of the right quality and he’s the type of player we need to attract. We need good players that understand this league and we’ll look to carry on in that way and add more if we can.” The man himself claimed: “I’m just excited to be here and when I spoke to the Manager yesterday he told me of the exciting times ahead at the Club. It’s an exciting time to be at the Club with what’s happening here and I’m looking forward to putting the shirt on regularly and getting out there to show everyone what I can do. I’m just looking forward to getting out and playing some regular football. I haven’t played that much, so I’m aiming to play on a regular basis, get my fitness up to scratch and hopefully help the team climb the table and achieve big things.”

Post-Match Reaction

West Brom: As I’ve mentioned, this Christmas period has summed up the whole season quite accurately. Times of brilliance that would lead you to question why City are struggling in the way we are and then there was this. Falling 1-0 down to the Brom was bad enough but when the Mr. Caicedo stepped up to equalize, you could only hope that the Blues would at least take a point. But no, having lost 1-0 at home to Everton in the dying seconds of the game, that wasn’t enough embarrassment for the players to pile on the loyal fans so they conceded a last minute goal against Albion too just to make sure that we gained no points at all in the run up to the festive period. The under pressure manager told of his disappointment: “We are desperately disappointed because that is two Premier League games running where we have thrown results away. We were in a situation again where we did not recognise the danger as it was occurring, and the opponents have been able to win the game. We switched off at a crucial time and paid the penalty for it. It’s hard to take for the guys, they are working extremely hard but at the moment things seem to be going against us. There is a frustration because of where we are and how it is going for us. I thought the players gave everything today, and I think that towards the end the efforts of a few of the lads who played on Thursday as well as today had an impact.”

Hull City: And then the Boxing day gift. All eyes were on Geo, and no doubt more than one or two Blues had a bet on the Brazilian playmaker to knock a hat-trick past his former club. This result may have actually saved the manager’s job and the return of our own little Brazilian didn’t hurt our chances but it was the man from Wales who was beaming with pride: “We’re obviously delighted. There was a lot of focus on the game because of the performance last week, but today was the perfect response. We looked strong and determined straight from the off, and once we scored I felt there was only going to be one winner. When we get our tails up I feel we are a handful for anyone, to be 4-0 up at half-time does not happen very often in the Premier League, so you have to enjoy it when it happens! A lot of it is to do with confidence, scoring first got our tails up and we had great support from the fans today. That was a big thing for us, we need everybody pulling in the right direction, and we certainly got that, with the players responding in kind. It was a great performance by everybody.”

Blackburn: The return of Mark Hughes to Ewood Park was always going to be one of those games that the fans could really get their teeth into but with seven minutes left, I, and undoubtedly not just me, believed the game to be done and dusted. Performing poorly and two goals down, it seemed set to be a long journey home from t’other side of Lancashire. All of a sudden Mr. Sturridge stepped up to stake his claim for the lone striker rôle (which still doesn’t work by the way) as he scored a lovely goal and picked out the perfect pass with 90 seconds remaining to find that man Robinho. The rest as they say is history. Not quite Gillingham ’99 by any means but finally a little bit of fight from the boys. Again the manager praised his players: “The guys showed great character and courage and I was really pleased for them. We had to keep going and I thought we were better in the second half. We made changes and that helped our momentum but they looked to protect their lead. Then we got done with the sucker punch for the second goal, which was really hard to take, but we kept going. We found it difficult to get a foothold in the game but towards the end of the game we got it down and asked some questions of the opposition and thankfully we found the answers.”

Nottingham Forest: And back to reality. I’m not going to waste any more effort writing about this game because even typing this much is more than they did last Saturday. The manager told of his immense disappointment and yet I still question whether he has the right motivational skills or tactics in order to make us a force in Premier League football: “I won’t defend it because it was indefensible. At the end of the day we’re playing a team that’s struggling in a lower league than ourselves and we should make a better fist of it than we did. They showed more desire; physically they pushed themselves, ran around and forced errors. They took their chances when they presented themselves. It was a great strike for the first goal but in fairness they fully deserved the victory. The manner of our performance was nowhere near the level of where it needs to be. I think people have to be honest and accept that today we didn’t perform. We’re not good enough to be able to carry players when we play games, irrespective of the opposition, if we’ve got three, four or five players not at the level we know they’re capable of then it compromises the team. That was evident today we had too many players nowhere near that level and as a consequence we lost the game.”

Alex Rowen <news(at)>


OK come on everyone let’s just calm it a bit shall we? We have to judge Sparky when he has had a full quota of time/money/change and in building his own team. Sack him now and we’ll have another 18 months of turmoil.

Almost everyone in the game says he is one of the best upcoming so they can’t all be wrong can they? I think it’s now quite clear that behind the scenes needs sorting and I think that’s what he’s doing. It is bound to impact the players, especially the ones who will go in the clear-out. So as we’ve had donkey’s years of grimness without hope, let’s just grit our teeth for a little longer and see what the guy can do.

If it’s not happening by the summer/autumn then fair enough. But I still feel that lovely, novel glow of hope might need to be a bit patient, but it will be worth it when it comes.

Gary Pritchard <garypritchard(at)>


Following City’s pathetic effort against Forest, there are obviously two routes to go. Either fire Hughes or fire the majority of the millionaire slackers who couldn’t be bothered putting in an effort against Forest on Saturday.

Based on what is at stake, we have to keep the faith with Sparky and allow him to wave his chequebook, gut the current side and field a team of players that really want to wear the sky blue shirt.

Personally, I cannot believe that so many players, knowing they are playing for their position, could just toss it away! Obviously, a large segment of the team have just given up on Hughes. To get rid of him and reward them with another manager would just condone their attitude. Remember, some of these geezers gave up on SGE last season, as if that 8-1 thrashing to Middlesbrough needs to be brought up.

Some players still care about City, some couldn’t care less and some of the younger players must be going through a confidence meltdown. Now is the time to end this rot. Give Hughes a chance to bring in his own players, get rid of the malcontents and merge quality players with our young stars.

Surely we can’t get relegated, but in the next few months we would get to see what a Hughes team really looks like. If there is no drastic improvement, then Hughes has signed himself out of a job. Then I guess the likes of Mourinho or Jol would come in and redesign the team again. But at least they would have that option.

Hopefully our Arab friends are in for the long haul and will have the patience to get it right eventually.

One final thought. A lot of City fans seem to have it in for Stuart Pearce. Considering the near bankrupt state the team was in when Kev pulled the plug, I think Psycho did a marvellous job with what he had. No money, a bunch of loan signings, he came within a Fowler penalty miss of legitimately qualifying us for Europe and pulled off a minor miracle to keep us in the Premier League whilst we got the backroom sorted out.

Without his efforts there would have been no Thaksin and no Abu Dhabi money. Give credit where it is due.

Blue Moon Rising, Keith Sharp – Toronto, Canada <keith(at)>


Money, the root of all evil! That is the answer to City’s problems. Players paid exorbitant amounts, their hunger has gone.

When I first played 1st team football as a raw 14 year old, I was paid 10 shillings (1969!) and I thought that was great, paid to play the game I love. The truth is I would have played for nothing. Today’s players don’t have that hunger (well maybe Terry and Lampard the very top of the list); players have become greedy, putting their own needs before a club.

Let’s face it, if no-one paid these exorbitant wages, the players wouldn’t have a game, wouldn’t have the money, be like the rest of us and have to work for a living!

At the end of the day, players who get £50,000-80,000 a week to sit on the bench – well there’s a few of them about aren’t there – don’t deserve to be in the side, let alone the club.

Whether or not you’re a fan of Hughes, he can’t be blamed for what players do on the pitch. As I say to my kids, ‘you are responsible for your own actions’ and that applies to the players as well. Sack Hughes, is that the answer? Don’t think so – who would we get? Someone that is paid an exorbitant salary, should be given time and the circus goes on and on.

Sadly, with human greed football has gone from being a sport. Should we bring in a salary cap? The FA need to do something, but then they’re probably just a greedy as the players.

Kevin Williamson <scribbs(at)>


There has been plenty of speculation in the media that Kolo Toure is on his way out of Arsenal to join the Blues.

There is no doubt that he has been excellent for Arsenal in the last few seasons but I think City need to be very careful and ask the question “why do Arsenal want to sell him?” After all, Wenger is no mug.

Toure was seriously ill last summer, having contracted malaria after visiting the Ivory Coast. Since the news initially broke, there has been no further information released about his treatment.

Not surprisingly, Toure missed the start of the season and since then his form has fallen away and he has lost his place in the team. A Gooner season-ticket holder mate at work tells me that when Toure has played he has been poor and is noticeably heavier than last season and is to put it nicely, not up to it. Even Silvestre and Djourou have been preferred to him in the last few months.

It is unfortunate that Toure caught such a debilitating illness but I’d hate to see us spend good money on someone who may never be 100% fit again.

Hopefully Hughes is wise to this. If not, he only needs to have a look at what happened to Celestine Babayaro after he contracted the same illness.

Haydn Morris <hm1962(at)>


Of the names of prospective players for City via this transfer window, I feel Shay Given would be a very good fit and also provide excellent competition for Joe Hart; Joe would learn a lot from the older player, too.

I recall several months ago Mark H was interested in bringing Blackburn’s Santa Cruz to the club. I also recall the player, prior to our takeover, stated he was not interested in joining City. Now that we have money, suddenly, the guy wants to join us. Obviously yet another money-grabber who wants a bigger slice of the pie for himself. I hope he is not pursued.

Instead, there is an unsettled striker (with a better goals record than Santa Cruz) and currently on loan, who is apparently becoming increasingly disillusioned with his manager and club. Mark H at this point could do worse than to move swiftly and make Tevez a City player.

Also, let us not forget about Bojinov, who should be close to the end of his recuperation by now?

At the other end of the scale it would be very good to finally see the back of Elano, Jo and Vassell, so as to begin the exodus. At the earliest!

See what happens, next game. I feel we’ll be better than our last display.

Graham Mills <gkm_5(at)>


I just read that the Times thinks that we can entice Scott Parker if we offer Johnson in return. Why would West Ham take a player who has been injured for a year? I also don’t like to see our good young players go. I still haven’t gotten over Allison getting rid of Owen and Barnes all those years ago.

And who is this unnamed fringe squad player who went to Cook?

John Pearson <pearsonj(at)>


Witnesses at the scene of the Ronaldo crash say he was only lightly tapped by a car from behind, when all of the sudden the car flipped over and rolled ten times. It then span around on the spot for two minutes, then all the wheels fell off and it caught fire.

John Howes <john.howes(at)>


I see that the Chief Executive has backed Hughes and that the club is moving forward with January purchases.

It occurs to me that you can buy all the best ingredients you want but it still needs a decent Cook…

Wallace Poulter <wallace.poulter(at)>


I am writing to you concerning the visit of Manchester City Football Club and its supporters to the city of Copenhagen, Denmark on 19 February 2009.

We are a very large English style pub situated in the centre of the city (the town hall square), we also have a restaurant and a discotheque on site.

Over the last ten years we have organised exclusive events for the supporters of the English national team, Arsenal, Manchester United, Celtic and Liverpool plus many other groups of supporters from countries such as Sweden, Norway and Germany.

Our aim is to provide a base for the travelling fans in the comfortable surroundings of an English pub. We have 3 large projection screens and many large TV screens that can be used for the viewing of football matches. We can organise food and live entertainment on request and all of our staff are fluent English speakers.

Copenhagen’s transport facilities are right outside our doors and buses, trains and taxi’s can take you to the Parken football stadium in around ten minutes.

If you think we can do something for you or would just like a chat about your visit to Copenhagen please do not hesitate to contact me.

Our webpage is

Med venlig hilsen / Kind regards, Scott D. Taylor <scott(at)>


At last I am very pleased to report that MCFC are helping us out with the Carl Ramsbottom Appeal. Carl is still in a rehabilitation unit following an accident at the train station after the game at Schalke. Carl was in a coma for 3 weeks such was the seriousness of his injuries. Manchester City fans have rallied round and have sent cards and messages of support and donated money for the appeal. Two websites (Bluemoon and Bluewatch) are playing each other in a charity football match on Sat 21 Feb at Platt Lane 10am. Bluemmon has also donated £500. ManCity.Net are organising a charity 5 a side game. There will be a bucket collection at the ground at either the Wigan or Boro games – just trying to work out the details and we will need volunteers. If anyone would like to send a cheque, please send it to Andrew Ramsbottom, 100 Miller Street, Heywood; if you would like more infomation please contact Ian on 07852 826 150.

Don Price <donprice(at)>


30 December 2008

Hull City 0 – 1 Aston Villa 24,727

League table to 07 January 2009 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD Pts
 1 Liverpool       20  6  4  0 16  6  7  2  1 19  7 13  6  1  35  13  22 45
 2 Chelsea         20  4  4  2 17  6  8  2  0 23  3 12  6  2  40   9  31 42
 3 Manchester Utd  18  7  1  0 20  4  4  4  2  9  6 11  5  2  29  10  19 38
 4 Aston Villa     20  4  5  1 16 11  7  0  3 17 11 11  5  4  33  22  11 38
 5 Arsenal         20  6  2  2 17 11  4  3  3 16 12 10  5  5  33  23  10 35
 6 Everton         20  2  4  4 12 15  7  1  2 15 10  9  5  6  27  25   2 32
 7 Wigan Athletic  19  5  2  3 11 10  3  2  4 13 11  8  4  7  24  21   3 28
 8 Hull City       20  3  2  5 10 20  4  4  2 18 17  7  6  7  28  37  -9 27
 9 Fulham          19  6  3  1 16  8  0  5  4  2  6  6  8  5  18  14   4 26
10 West Ham United 20  4  1  5 13 15  3  3  4 11 13  7  4  9  24  28  -4 25
11 Bolton Wndrs    20  3  2  5  8 11  4  0  6 14 17  7  2 11  22  28  -6 23
12 Portsmouth      20  4  2  4 14 17  2  3  5  7 16  6  5  9  21  33 -12 23
13 Manchester City 20  5  0  5 24 11  1  4  5 14 19  6  4 10  38  30   8 22
14 Newcastle Utd   20  4  3  3 16 17  1  4  5 10 15  5  7  8  26  32  -6 22
15 Sunderland      20  3  2  5 11 13  3  2  5 10 16  6  4 10  21  29  -8 22
16 Tottenham H.    20  3  3  4  7  7  2  2  6 13 18  5  5 10  20  25  -5 20
17 Middlesbrough   20  3  3  4  9 14  2  2  6  8 15  5  5 10  17  29 -12 20
18 Stoke City      20  5  2  3 12 11  0  3  7  6 22  5  5 10  18  33 -15 20
19 Blackburn R.    20  2  3  5 10 17  2  3  5 12 19  4  6 10  22  36 -14 18
20 West Brom A.    20  4  2  4 13 16  1  1  8  3 19  5  3 12  16  35 -19 18

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1496