Newsletter #1497

With Saturday’s game at Fratton Park called off due to the frozen pitch, City were left to slip a couple of places in the table and concentrate on yet more transfer targets. According to the news reports this evening we’re still after Mr Bellamy, which I’m sure will reassure many of you.

We have opinion on the manager, abilities, training routines, signings and random thoughts tonight together with Steve’s transfer links round-up.

Next Game: Wigan Athletic, home, 3pm Saturday 17 January 2009


I am bemused by assertions that everyone says Hughes is fantastic and therefore he really, really must be (honest). If the measure of a good manager is to build a team of bruisers that can languish mid-table, then I accept Hughes is well established and consistent. Is that really what Manchester City should aspire towards?

I’m even more bewildered by the surreal assertion that he cannot be blamed for what the players do on the pitch.

Had Geovanni not been given away, you can be utterly certain that he would not be performing on the pitch as he is now.

Had Corluka not been threatened with being permanently out of position, he may be performing on the pitch as he did last season, but for us.

Had Micah been left as the best right back in the country (bar none) he would not be struggling on the pitch because he is horribly out of position. The disparaging remarks against him recently forget that he never asked to be played out of position (let’s not even mention the left back experiment).

Had Vassell not been told to block SWP on the right, the whole team might be more cohesive and effective.

Had instructions to hoof the ball up to the lone striker (whoever it may be) not been made, the players on the pitch might produce the quality football they clearly enjoy.

Had we played the second half team in the first half of the derby, we would not have lost.

Had we not been playing for a draw at Fulham, we could have ripped through them.

Just, please run it past me again. How is this nothing to do with Mr Hughes?

I accept that there are frustrations boiling over, but to paint the man (paid a pretty fortune to take responsibility for it all) as an innocent victim really does beggar belief.

The bottom line is he has demoralised and demotivated with his negative tactics, his inability to use substitutes (or even pick his best side if Vassell is fit to play) and his calm acceptance of poor results. He is the one man most largely responsible for the appalling mess.

His job is to sort it out, not bleat about conspiracies. The football is what matters and look at how many diabolical performances we have been given and repeat with a straight face that it is nothing to do with the manager!

I recognise that sacking him creates the whole mess over again, that is a very valid and real point of concern but actually denying how badly he is doing and saying it is not his fault is nothing less than surreal.

As for the arguments against obscene wages and mercenary attitudes, I couldn’t agree more. I signed up to those arguments in 1992 and have been banging that drum ever since. However, it is how things are now. Whoever we buy will come with that mentality. So selling one lot and expecting the new intake to be different is naïve beyond belief.

Martin Hunt <martin.hunt(at)>


“My teams always do better in the second half of the season, our training program is focused on this”, Hughes announced in October.

Er, isn’t the latest plan to add RSQ, Parker, Bellamy, Bridge and Given to the team? These great players will not have had the benefit of the fantastic aerobic training program that has sidelined (sorry, supported) Johnson, Onuoha, Petrov, SWP, Jo, Benjani, and Robinho. So all that German pre-season fitness training will have been largely wasted.

The truth is that Hughes and his assistants have a one-size-fits-all training programme that is about as scientific as a tarot card. It is based on getting large, fat, physical players fitter, in the old fashioned way. The Brazilians in particular don’t believe in it. And I gather that Robinho has been excluded from some programmes, which has caused more friction in the squad.

After our almost inevitable defeat at Fratton Park on Saturday we await the next vote of confidence. The composition of the Hughes regime is meant to keep him in place for as long as possible because there is no one (with the possible exception of Cassell from the academy) who could take over in the short term. Unfortunately we will have to put up with this pantomime until the end of the season, and hope we don’t get relegated, and also hope he hasn’t been allowed to sell good young players who have come though the academy, and replace them with Parker, Bellamy and Bowyer.

Mike Dean <mikedean(at)>


I am providing a daily transfer summary on my blog; here’s the latest list of links as of 11 January and news up to that date. You can find the daily information at

Players City have been linked with for first time: (29)

Jan 1st – (8) Wayne Bridge (signed Jan 3rd), Roque Santa Cruz, Craig Bellamy, Marcos Senna, Kolo Toure, Joleon Lescott, Shay Given, Scott Parker.
Jan 2nd – (4) Kleber, Samuel Eto’o, Kaka, Lukas Podolski.
Jan 3rd – (0) None.
Jan 4th – (4) Michael Owen, Mikel Arteta, Fabian Delph, Jermaine Defoe (gone to Spurs Jan 6th).
Jan 5th – (3) Bafetimbi Gomis, Adriano, David Trezeguet.
Jan 6th – (5) Yaya Toure, Kevin Nolan, John Terry, David Villa, Lionel Messi.
Jan 7th – (0) None.
Jan 8th – (0) None.
Jan 9th – (2) Mauro Zarate, Taye Taiwo.
Jan 10th -(0) None.
Jan 11th -(3) Andrei Arshavin, Carlo Cudicini, Miguel Veloso.

Players linked with exits so far: (13)

Jan 1st – (1) Tal Ben-Haim.
Jan 2nd – (1) Elano.
Jan 3rd – (1) Stephen Ireland.
Jan 4th – (4) Kasper Schmeichel, Dietmar Hamann, Michael Ball, Michael Johnson.
Jan 5th – (3) Nedum Onuoha, Joe Hart, Jo.
Jan 6th – (1) Richard Dunne.
Jan 7th – (0) None.
Jan 8th – (1) Benjani.
Jan 9th – (0) None.
Jan 10th -(0) None.
Jan 11th -(1) Ched Evans.

Speculation and Reports (Sunday January 11th)

Kolo – “Toure”? The People report that City are fuming that Kolo Toure seems to be staying at Arsenal. Arsenal asked for time to find a replacement but cannot do so, and William Gallas’ fitness is causing concern.

Bellamy staying? – Gianfranco Zola reckons his relationship with striker Craig Bellamy will be enough to stave off City’s millions. Mark Hughes is expected to launch a fresh bid next week after his first approach was firmly rejected. Zola is less than impressed with Hughes’ public pursuit of his star striker but says his relationship with Bellamy is so strong that City stand little chance of capturing their man. “I have a very, very good relationship with Craig,” said the Italian. “I like talking to him because he is very determined to improve and is very keen to listen. He is the perfect professional and I am very pleased to have him training with me. Obviously yes, I would love to have him here but I know that there are many big teams looking at him. But I don’t think it is nice when other managers talk about my players. I personally don’t think it’s right. If I was looking for other players I would not speak about them until the deal was done.”

Andrei Arshavin IN – Arsenal are set to increase their bid for Andrei Arshavin to £12 million after Zenit St. Petersburg rejected their initial offer of £10 million + bonuses (Daily Mail), but they could be set to lose out to City, who have reportedly agreed an £18 million fee with Zenit for Arshavin (The Mirror).

Onuoha happy to stay – Nedum Onuoha believes City could be as big as Real Madrid in the next five years and has no intention of leaving the club. Onuoha has found himself out of the side this season and has been linked with a January move away from Eastlands. Newcastle, Blackburn, Wigan and Fulham are all understood to be interested while Paris St Germain have also entered the race for his signature. However, Onuoha sees a bright future for City and hopes to be involved, having come through the ranks as a youngster. He is confident he will be given a chance and is then determined to seize the opportunity. “I’m just biding my time and when it comes I’ll be ready to take it and stake my claim,” Onuoha said in the Sunday Mirror. “In the next five years, Manchester City could be as big as Real Madrid. That is not something I plan to walk away from without giving it my best shot. I’m a local boy and being a success at this club would mean more to me than anywhere else.”

Carlo Cudicini IN – A spokesman for Newcastle has confirmed that they had received a formal bid from City for Given, but dismissed the offer out of hand, with Newcastle claiming the offer was “laughable” for the ‘keeper, which they consider to be the best in the Premier League. The spokesman said: “We received a bid for Shay in writing from Manchester City and we dismissed it out of hand. It was for between three and four million pounds which is laughable when you consider we are talking about the best goalkeeper in the Premier League.” It is understood that Newcastle, have placed an £11 million price-tag on 32-year-old Given, with the Toon spokesman also revealing that talks over the Irishman leaving St James’ Park would not even be considered unless a bid of at least £8 million was forthcoming. Rumours say Newcastle would accept a swap deal involving Michael Johnson and Nedum Onuoha, a deal that would enrage City fans as the goalkeeping situation is a low priority. Hughes has always insisted that he will not be forced into paying over the odds, and Hughes is now set to turn his attention to Chelsea Number 2 Cudicini. The 35-year-old has been at Stamford Bridge since joining from Castel di Sangro in 2000, but has had to play second fiddle to Petr Cech since Cech’s arrival from Rennes in 2004 and could see a move to City as a last chance to play regular first team football. Cudicini is out of contract at Chelsea next summer, with manager Luiz Felipe Scolari possibly ready to cash in the ‘keeper this month rather than have the Italian leave the West London club on a free transfer in the summer.

Sporting Lisbon midfielder Miguel Veloso is a target for City. Veloso, 22, who is a regular in Portugal’s squad, is the latest name on Hughes’s expanding hit-list after reaching deadlock in their attempts to sign Scott Parker. City will bid in excess of £15 million.

Chedwyn Evans OUT – Celtic hope to sign City striker Ched Evans on loan with a view to a permanent summer move. According to the News of the World, Celtic contacted the Man City last week to inquire about the Welsh international striker. It’s understood City told Celtic they won’t sell now but will consider loaning him out for five months. Evans is a highly rated prospect, scoring 10 goals in 20 starts on loan at Norwich last season. He’s played 17 times for City this season mostly as substitute and scored just once. He already has six international caps.

Agent’s £900,000 Bridge building fee – Reported in The Sunday Mirror. Chelsea paid agent Pini Zahavi around £900,000 commission following Wayne Bridge’s transfer to Manchester City. Zahavi’s name appeared on the ADF1 form submitted by Chelsea to the Premier League and FA when Bridge’s £13.5 million transfer was completed. The Blues are publicly committed to cost-cutting measures. Manager Luiz Felipe Scolari has revealed his frustration at the lack of transfer funds. They recently sacked scouts, halved the players’ ticket allocation and considered charging them for food at the training ground. A Chelsea spokesman said: “It can be confirmed that the agent Pini Zahavi acted for Chelsea on the transfer of Wayne Bridge. All football and any other relevant regulations were followed to the letter. We were very satisfied with the transfer fee received for this transfer. Chelsea does not work exclusively with any one agent. The Sunday Mirror’s revelation about Zahavi’s involvement in a straightforward domestic transfer will provoke astonishment in many quarters because of the current economic climate and chief executive Peter Kenyon’s claim that the club must cut costs.”


Steve Kay <steve(at)>


This January transfer window could prove to be the most important in the history of Manchester City FC.

I anticipate two or three players coming to City this week, for if it does not happen it could put back Mark Hughes’ plans to progress with his team of players, and that could not be good for Sparky.

The January transfer window has always been notorious for last minute deals, but if clubs are to sell their best players to City, not only will they want a premium price, but want the money early so as to use maybe some of it before the window closes.

City are the club able to set off some transfers in the market, having the money to do it. With a financial slump in the world that has affected so many clubs, the only way clubs can buy other players is with the money they get from City. So if there is no business done soon, some clubs will just refuse to do it altogether.

Summer transfer window always the best time for the best deals, in between seasons with not as much pressure on clubs, but City need help now, and fortunately should have the money to persuade a club to do business.

I feel sorry for the supporters that went all the way to Portsmouth for the game, only to find out it had been postponed due to an icy pitch. I know how they feel, for it happened to me many years ago, when I travelled from Anglesey to Maine Road only to find out a game had been called off due to fog.

The Portsmouth game now being a re-arranged fixture will help the City cause, for some injured City players should be fit, and maybe new signings will be able to play for a strengthened side.

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <britcityblue(at)>


Once again I’ve sussed it, albeit with help (bear with me here). There is a book by Declan Hill, called “the fix: soccer and organised crime”. Detail: “Declan has written a well-researched book of investigative journalistic brilliance. A book that deals with the unseen and often shadowy world of soccer’s match-fixing. A world the authorities try to ignore; the effects of its existence swept under the carpet in the name of preserving the game’s image… But the professional game leaves me cold. I hope you will understand why after reading the book. I think you may never look at sport in the same way again.”

How else can we explain City’s erratic (ahem) performances. We go on a terrible run then suddenly stuff teams by huge goal differences with unlikely goal-scorers. Imagine what odds you’d get on those games after a 3,4,5 match slump. Ok, so we’re owned by some very rich sheikhs who have tons of oil at their disposal. So why do we need the money? Seeing as you can’t even give the stuff (oil) away now, and it’s cheaper than vimto, they have to find another route to keep them in their accustomed lifestyle. Bentleys and golf courses in the desert and such.

So a quick and easy way to keep the sheckels flowing in (not dollars as they are worth nothing these days also) is to get on the match-fixing gig. Simple. Genius. I was also going to suggest a new sponsor or logo on the shirt that said simply “OIL”, but that was before… etc.

Anybody else need anything sussing out?

Andy Johnson <fastandj(at)>


Further to my recent request for readers’ help in jogging my memory on childhood games I attended, may I thank the help I received from Ray Bardsley, John Leigh and Sam Duxbury.

With their help, I am now able to pinpoint the WHU home game as follows: City 1 vs. 5 WHU, season 1969/70, Saturday 21.03.70. Jimmy Greaves scored two on his début (remembering that was how I traced this game, Greavsie of course scored on every début for club and country he ever made). The goal I remember was the halfway line volley past Corrigan. Big Joe drop kicked it from the right side of his box in front of the Scoreboard End (pre-North stand), it went right to left, and Ronnie Boyce volleyed it back from in front of the Kippax, right back into City’s goal. I reckon Boyce was inside WHU’s half when he hit it, however Joe Corrigan once said “I was fortunate my best save (that one from Allan Clarke) was on Match of the Day, but I once let one in from 45 yards against West Ham, scored by Ronnie Boyce, and it would have been shown non-stop these days.” Apparently Big Joe covers the incident in some depth in his newly-published biography. Scorers: City: Franny Lee / WHU: Ronnie Boyce, Geoff Hurst (2) and Jimmy Greaves (2).

Whether or not Ian Storey-Moore played against us for Forest and broke his leg / was injured and carried off some time around the time of the WHU as I seem to believe, is proving harder to pinpoint as most stuff on the Internet on IS-M concerns his Rag days and not his Forest days. However, Ray seems to recall IS-M getting carried off with a broken leg after an injury in the penalty area at the Platt Lane End (that ties in with my memory of him being carried off from the Platt Lane end), while John informed me that “we’d played Forest a few weeks earlier, on 7th February 1970, drawing 1-1 (Doyle). Don’t know if that was the game when IS-M was injured, but he’d got his one and only England cap just three weeks before on 14th January, and I seem to think it was. Other possibilities for this game were a 3-3 draw on 26th October 1968, and a 1-3 defeat (Doyle again) on 9th April 1971. Take your pick … obviously IS-M joined the Rags in 1972.”

Thanks to all for helping me recall my early City memories!

Peter Carlisle – Bangkok <carlisle(at)>


11 January 2009

Wigan Athletic        1 - 0  Tottenham Hotspur     17,500
Manchester United     3 - 0  Chelsea               75,455

10 January 2009

Aston Villa           2 - 1  West Bromwich Albion  41,757
Arsenal               1 - 0  Bolton Wanderers      60,068
Everton               2 - 0  Hull City             37,527
Middlesbrough         1 - 1  Sunderland            29,310
Newcastle United      2 - 2  West Ham United       47,571
Stoke City            0 - 0  Liverpool             27,500

League table to 11 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       21  6  4  0 16  6  7  3  1 19  7 13  7  1  35  13  22 46
 2 Chelsea         21  4  4  2 17  6  8  2  1 23  6 12  6  3  40  12  28 42
 3 Manchester Utd  19  8  1  0 23  4  4  4  2  9  6 12  5  2  32  10  22 41
 4 Aston Villa     21  5  5  1 18 12  7  0  3 17 11 12  5  4  35  23  12 41
 5 Arsenal         21  7  2  2 18 11  4  3  3 16 12 11  5  5  34  23  11 38
 6 Everton         21  3  4  4 14 15  7  1  2 15 10 10  5  6  29  25   4 35
 7 Wigan Athletic  20  6  2  3 12 10  3  2  4 13 11  9  4  7  25  21   4 31
 8 Hull City       21  3  2  5 10 20  4  4  3 18 19  7  6  8  28  39 -11 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 21  4  1  5 13 15  3  4  4 13 15  7  5  9  26  30  -4 26
11 Newcastle Utd   21  4  4  3 18 19  1  4  5 10 15  5  8  8  28  34  -6 23
12 Bolton Wndrs    21  3  2  5  8 11  4  0  7 14 18  7  2 12  22  29  -7 23
13 Sunderland      21  3  2  5 11 13  3  3  5 11 17  6  5 10  22  30  -8 23
14 Portsmouth      20  4  2  4 14 17  2  3  5  7 16  6  5  9  21  33 -12 23
15 Manchester City 20  5  0  5 24 11  1  4  5 14 19  6  4 10  38  30   8 22
16 Middlesbrough   21  3  4  4 10 15  2  2  6  8 15  5  6 10  18  30 -12 21
17 Stoke City      21  5  3  3 12 11  0  3  7  6 22  5  6 10  18  33 -15 21
18 Tottenham H.    21  3  3  4  7  7  2  2  7 13 19  5  5 11  20  26  -6 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.    21  4  2  4 13 16  1  1  9  4 21  5  3 13  17  37 -20 18

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1497