Newsletter #1501

A belated news summary from Sarah tonight who kindly stepped in for Alex, although the news like Robinho went AWOL in cyberspace so apologies for that. Sarah brings us the latest on the madness of the transfer market and reaction to the Wigan game.

We also have continued opinion on signings, management of the team and club and a look at the transfer policy.

Next up, Newcastle visit on Wednesday evening.

Next Game: Newcastle United, home, 7.45pm Wednesday 28 January 2009


Hughes Hails Heroic City: Mark Hughes feels that a heroic rearguard action by City deserved three points against Wigan on Saturday. The Blues played the last 40 minutes with 10 men after Richard Dunne’s sending off for lashing out at Zaki. It was City’s first win over Wigan in the Premier League, and the Manager rates it as one of the best displays of the season in the circumstances. Mark says, “Given the circumstances of the game we were excellent. We felt a little bit aggrieved at half time as I felt we had done enough to get our noses in front, but we got the goal after the break. It was a great strike from Pablo, who I thought had an excellent game in that midfield position. From that point I thought we would go on and win the game quite comfortably, but we lost Dunnie to the sending off and the game changed. We had to show different qualities, but we showed them in abundance. I thought we were excellent.” City’s skipper will now miss four league games for his second sending off of the season, which the boss had no complaints about.

Bridge Looking To Build On His Winning Start: Wayne Bridge aims to improve on his winning start to his City career. The England left-back finally made his bow for the Blues against Wigan on Saturday, after last weekend’s postponement at Fratton Park. Reflecting on his delayed début he said: “I thought I settled into the game quite quickly. Valencia is a good player so I was just trying to stop his crosses, and get forward. I managed to do that, but I was pretty exhausted after the first half because I have not played for a while.” Then “Going down to 10 men meant that I had to sit back rather than go forward, but I thought it was a great team effort to get the three points. There was a good team spirit, everyone fought for each other and we ground the result out.”

You Win Some…

De Jong Deal Done: Nigel De Jong has joined City having now signed a four-and-a-half year contract with the club. The 24 year old former Hamburg player told the club’s website: “I feel very good and for me it is the next step in my own career after three years in Germany and I hope to be successful here at Manchester City. The ideas and the planning behind this club are very hopeful and it’s a new adventure so I’m delighted to be here right now.” Although the deal has taken a couple of days to complete, Hamburg boss Martin Jol was resigned to De Jong’s exit on Monday, in a move believed to be around £17 million. The player, who has 29 international caps, will bring some added steel to the City midfield, offering cover to the more flamboyant members of Hughes’ squad. Although he will not be eligible for the remainder of City’s European campaign, he should be a major figure in the club’s attempt to clamber into a higher Premier League position. De Jong played against City in a pre-season friendly last summer and is a former team-mate of another recent recruit, Vincent Kompany, who he should play alongside in the Blues’ engine room.

Bellamy Becomes A Blue: Manchester City can confirm the signing of Craig Bellamy from West Ham United for an undisclosed fee (around £14 million?). The striker, who has signed a four-and-half year deal, is well acquainted with manager Mark Hughes, having played for him at Blackburn Rovers and winning many of his 54 international caps while the City boss was in charge of the Welsh national side. Craig will be in line for a début against one of his former clubs, Newcastle United, on Wednesday January 28th. Mark Hughes is enthusiastic at the prospect of linking up with Bellamy again, and he said: “I am delighted to be working with Craig once more. He is an outstanding player who provides us with qualities that we are lacking slightly. He has blistering pace, has bags of of enthusiasm, has a superb attitude to training and will be a great addition to the squad.”

And You Lose Some…

Kaka Decides Money Isn’t Everything! Whether the move fell through because AC Milan ‘bottled it!’ as City’s executive chairman Garry Cook told Sky Sports News or because ‘Kaka wanted to stay at Milan’ according to the club’s owner and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, may never be fully resolved. It is clear however, that the two clubs were at odds in their expectations, with City the argument inevitable focussed on the money. The Brazilian’s non-appearance has also been linked with Robinho’s disappearance from City’s training camp in Tenerife. City’s current record signing is expected to face a number of questions as well as a fine when he returns from Brazil. Robinho returned home on Monday and, although he has now claimed he needed to attend to an urgent family matter, Blues’ boss Mark Hughes was believed to be unaware of his departure. And, with chief executive Garry Cook confirming a “breach of internal discipline” had occurred, unless further internal investigations reveal Robinho did inform another member of the Blues’ coaching staff he was flying back to South America, a financial penalty seems likely. The 24-year-old insists he will smooth the problems out once he gets back to the UK. “I will return to the club and hope to sort this out as soon as possible,” he said. “I am committed to helping Manchester City become the force the owners assured me they will become.”

It is also reported that Chelsea are keen to sign the player they almost signed in the summer, for £17 million, plus a number of other named players. However, at this stage it looks as though this story is merely that – more fiction than fact. Today, City were linked with a move for Drogba, and whilst this too may be pure speculation, Hughes has refused to rule it out as rubbish, saying “Basically there are stories about every player and every top club in the world at the moment and we’re allegedly linked with everybody. Until we actually make bids for players then I really can’t discuss other players. It’s a situation we’re trying to keep a lid on but there’s so much speculation I shouldn’t have to add to it.”

So with Robinho walking out and Jo and Elano reportedly unhappy with Hughes’ coaching style, what does lie in store for the boss?

Hughes To Be Judged On Results: Executive chairman Garry Cook has insisted results alone will determine how long Mark Hughes remains as manager. Hughes has come under fire this season for a poor run of results that saw the Blues drop into the relegation zone just before Christmas. But City’s Abu Dhabi-based owners remain steadfastly behind Hughes. In keeping with the traditional view of life in the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mansour is adopting a long-term view and has pledged to provide Hughes with all the backing he needs. As the man responsible for the day-to-day running of life at City, Cook will be left to tie up the transfers of the men Hughes wants – and that included Kaka (is he going to be judged on results too then I wonder?).

Johnson Surplus to Requirements: Michael Johnson could be on his way with Villa, Potsmouth, and Newcastle amongst those reportedly interested.

Striker Targeted By Fulham: Felipe Caicedo is said to be wanted to boost Fulham’s poor scoring record. The Ecuadorian international has struggled to make an impression at Eastlands, and Mark Hughes is likely to listen to offers for his signature this month.

Evans Attracts Celtic Interest: Another 20-year old striker who has failed to make many starts this season is Welsh international Ched Evans, and now Celtic coach Neil Lennon has confirmed the club’s interest in the player. “I know we have been enquiring about him. He has been one who has interested us for a while. He came on as a sub in the pre-season game against us and caught the eye. Whether we get him or not, we’ll have to see.”

Football Aid – Charity Begins At City: No, not another case of City gifting 3 points to the clubs struggling at the foot of the table, but a chance to wear the shirt and raise money for a worthwhile cause – Football Aid, which offers fans a chance to play on the hallowed turf at the City of Manchester Stadium. The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity gives City fans the thrill of a complete matchday experience, including pulling on a personalised shirt in the changing rooms, walking down the tunnel to the sound of a cheering crowd and ultimately stepping out onto their Field of Dreams. A host of club legends including Andy Hinchcliffe, Ian Brightwell and Peter Barnes have all supported Football Aid in previous years, either managing or playing alongside football fans on our own pitch. The 2009 Football Aid Auction at is already shaping up to be extremely exciting, with the new Maximum Bid and Buy Now options already proving very popular with bidders. Bidding positions will continue to close at regular intervals throughout the bidding period with the first position closing on the 3rd February and the last available positions closing on the 4 March. Bidding starts at £170 and it really is great fun (well as a spectator… if you are planning to play, better work on that fitness programme now, I have it good authority that the pitch really is very big!).

FC Copenhagen Tickets: Home and away tickets have gone on sale to seasoncard holders with the requisite number of loyalty points. The home leg of the UEFA Cup will be played on Thursday 26 February.

City’s Youngsters Progress In the Cup: After coming through a tough FA Youth Cup tie away at Portsmouth, Academy Manager, Jim Cassell is now looking forward to some home comforts in round five of the competition. The holders will now host Newcastle next month, who themselves came through an away tie during the week, beating QPR 3-1 at Loftus Road. City’s youngsters are looking forward to playing at home (though the date has yet to be confirmed, such fixtures really are great entertainment and well worth attending). Cassell admits “There’s a lot of pressure on the boys this year. A lot is expected now and I think you can see that when we play we can play very well.”

Sarah Longshaw <news(at)>


I fully endorse what Phil Banerjee wrote so succinctly in MCIVTA 1500, especially about Whelan’s rantings. Here is a piece I read on the day of Whelan’s rant:

David Hills
The Observer, Sunday 18 January 2009

Man of the week: Dave Whelan – says Man City are “ruining the heart and soul of football” by inflating prices and artificially skewing the market. “Money has gone through the window because some Arabian fellas or oil-rich sheikh has come in and said, ‘Pay £90 million for that player.’ It is totally barmy and we all know that. The game will suffer in the end.” – 2003: Whelan’s JJB Sports fined £6.7 million by the OFT over claims they exploited fans by using inflated price-fixing of replica shirts to artificially skew the market. “This ruling,” said Whelan, “makes me wonder what’s happened to justice in this land.”

Enough said, about this obnoxious hypocrite.

Jack Millington <jack.Millington(at)>


I find after reading all the mail this week, that I agree with almost every word from Phil Banerjee. I wonder if we have a collective persecution complex, but it does seem as if the media is always against us.

We are always on last if there is any coverage of City at all and now City have done the unthinkable! They have risen above their station and gazumped everyone for headlines with the Kaka story. Let’s not fall into name calling of the chairman or anyone else, including petulant young players, but now everyone in the world has heard of Manchester City. I will no longer have to say I am from Manchester and, no, not United I am a City fan.

We don’t choose who we support, we are already chosen. My friends here will tell you that the first thing I tell everyone when I meet them is where I am from and who I support. That is all you need to know about me. Of course it would be easier to support the Evil Empire but that is not who we are. We should not fall into petty bickering when everything is not going perfectly. In fact as a lifelong City fan on this rollercoaster ride, we should all know better. Who has not wondered how this can all go wrong? Let us just be patient at least until the end of the season, and maybe another one, and let the ride continue! Stick together. A change is going to come!

Jim Heaviside <jheavis502(at)>


I’ve just read Graham Keller’s piece on MCIVTA 1500 and have to say it is by far the most balanced contribution I’ve read. The papers are so full of rubbish speculation about Kaka, Robinho, Drogba, Mourinho you have to wonder whether these journalists actually stay up nights making this rubbish up.

The latest one is Drogba coming to City on £180,000 a week because Mourinho is coming in the summer. I can’t see MH wanting to sign a player only to be moved out the door in six months – absolute garbage.

Personally, I think MH needs at least two full seasons to be able to make an impact. In any business, there is always internal strife when a new man takes over. Those that buy into the new way of doing things will rise to the occasion (Stephen Ireland), those that don’t will either move on or be moved on. It’s not nice and I have fallen foul of this in the past, but on reflection necessary and for the benefit of both individual and organisation.

For too long, there appears to have been a laissez-faire approach to training and the indulgence of players. Now we have a more authoritarian regime who wants to make the club a successful one. What the players must realise is that they are athletes. If they do not want to train in accordance with the club’s own training regime but would rather do their own thing (as has been reported in the press), then they need a rethink on their career choice.

Peter Wilman <pwilman(at)>


Dear fellow City fans.

Just thinking out loud here, having a bit of fun. I am probably wrong, but wanted to explore the motives that may have been behind City’s huge offer to Milan and Kaka.

  1. A sincere desire to acquire a player of his calibre.
  2. To signal ambition to current players, especially Robinho, and players thatwill be acquisition targets over time.
  3. To the extent possible, begin to “freeze” the transfer market for verytalented players not at the big four by establishing an entirely newprice/demand model, and increase the future acquisition costs of the big four.

    If you were going to sell a highly prized player to one of the big four now, doyou hold off and wait until City come calling?

    Or, more likely, do you use the offer made by City as leverage in negotiationsto get more $ from the big four as the market has been forever changed?

    Note the ironic squealing from Wenger and the big four camp as to how dare weoffer that type of price. Unheard of!
  4. To reduce the amount of $ City have to pay out for transfer targets in theinterim.

    To the degree that clubs are raising their transfer prices higher based on anassessment of City having a bottomless pit of money, City can indicate thatthey can not reasonable pay the asking price given the amount of money thatmight be tied up with Kaka or the next big red herring they chase. Will notentirely eliminate paying inflated prices, but might bring the premium downsomewhat.
  5. Good old misdirection.

    Again, I probably am off mark, but I did find it interesting that Cityindicated that the deal broke down in part due to the personal terms demandedby Kaka’s agent/father. If you can afford to splash the much $ with AC Milan,wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that the player would like the same abovemarket premium in his salary? Hmm.

Hunter Sheridan – Tampa, Florida <fhsheridan(at)>


I really don’t like Garry Cook.

He has no background knowledge in the brokering of transfers. He’s naïve, his comments are those of a big-shot who thinks that talking the talk, is tantamount to walking the walk… he’s wrong.

His post-Kaka comments are simply embarrassing. His simpering demeanour is cheesy salesman personified, should be in the car industry. Employed by Thaksin, his objectives are already out of date. I would rather see someone like Chris Bird back at City – someone who loves the club, has a bit of the rogue element but at least his experience is productive, knowledgeable, not counter-productive and ineffective. Alistair Mac even, regardless of what your thoughts on him were, he knew the club inside and out! He facilitated most of those transfer deals and whilst we were skint.

It’s true to say that Garry Cook is an MD granted, and given that, MD’s can usually turn their hands to any industry as per the rôle of a company secretary in football; this is simply not the case.

I personally would like to see him gone. He’s an ego who’s having his chance in the limelight and my god, is he milking it. It’s painful. He’s is everything that Manchester City is not… the fact that he has his own flaming column in the programme tells you more about this fellow than not. Big ego, nothing to show for it.

Someone show him the door please. It’s a damaging element.

Joel Perry <j.perry(at)>


In MCIVTA 1500 Jack Millington asks if my comments in MCIVTA 1499 regarding Craig Bellamy refer to the same Craig Bellamy who is giving £650,000 to Sierra Leone to set up grass roots football. This is most laudable and I applaud him for it. Whilst the figure sounds a lot, let’s put it into perspective. What is it? Six to ten weeks’ wages?

I was indeed referring to this Craig Bellamy, the same one who was cautioned for common assault in Newcastle city centre, found guilty of threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour outside a Cardiff nightclub and was involved in a violent incident during a team training session in Portugal when he allegedly attacked John Arne Riise with a golf club.

We’ve already thankfully got rid of one player with a similar history whose name began with B. Looks like we’ve found a replacement!

David Kilroy <dave.kilroy(at)>


A lot of us have our doubts about Bellamy. But if you’re looking for the reason to being someone so querulous to our club, you can hear it from Harry Redknapp who, loathe him or hate him, is arguably the best English manager currently working. He is quoted in the Guardian:

“[Palacios] will come in here and get after it and play aggressively. He will work and close and run, and I feel that we need a bit of that around the place. That is why I wanted to bring in Bellamy because of what he could give us in the dressing-room and on the pitch for those that are not doing it.”

“Let’s be honest, when I mentioned Bellamy to the chairman, he thought, ‘Surely not’,” said Redknapp. “But Mark Hughes has had him at Blackburn and Wales and he’s not a fool. Bellamy gets the needle with everybody because he wants to win all the time. He gets the hump when people don’t train as hard as he does. That’s what you need if you’re going to be successful. You need a few Jamie Carraghers and Steven Gerrards at your club, people who want to win all the time.”

That’s definitely the kind of personality we’ve been missing.

Bernard Molyneux <molyneux(at)>


The Mark Hughes team is taking shape, and for all you doom and gloom lovers I say “Give Sparky a chance with his team, and it will not be the team he inherited.”

I have been a City supporter and fan since the early 1960’s, and during this time we are a club who has gone through so many managers, some I grant you deserved to go, but some for the wrong reasons.

But it has never let our club be stabilized, with some fans having a witch hunt to get rid of a manager for the least thing they can think of.

This time lay off, and give Mark Hughes a chance to show us what he can do; he too needs the same confidence that he tries to instil into the players.

Cheer on the manager/coach, and every players that puts on a City shirt, it can only help our team to win more games.

Everyone can give an opinion, just as I have, and I am not claiming that all my opinions are correct, but to support a team we must all get behind it.

Come on you Blues! In Sparky I trust.

Ernie Barrow <britcityblue(at)>


And the reward for being knocked out of the FA Cup 3-0 at home to struggling Championship side Nottingham Forest is… a week in Tenerife.

No wonder Robinho wanted to leave the asylum.

William Hill <william.hill(at)>


League table to 25 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 Manchester Utd  21  9  1  0 24  4  5  4  2 10  6 14  5  2  34  10  24 47
 2 Liverpool       22  6  5  0 17  7  7  3  1 19  7 13  8  1  36  14  22 47
 3 Chelsea         22  5  4  2 19  7  8  2  1 23  6 13  6  3  42  13  29 45
 4 Aston Villa     22  5  5  1 18 12  8  0  3 19 12 13  5  4  37  24  13 44
 5 Arsenal         22  7  2  2 18 11  5  3  3 19 13 12  5  5  37  24  13 41
 6 Everton         22  3  4  4 14 15  7  2  2 16 11 10  6  6  30  26   4 36
 7 Wigan Athletic  22  6  2  3 12 10  3  2  6 13 13  9  4  9  25  23   2 31
 8 West Ham United 22  5  1  5 16 16  3  4  4 13 15  8  5  9  29  31  -2 29
 9 Hull City       22  3  2  6 11 23  4  4  3 18 19  7  6  9  29  42 -13 27
10 Fulham          20  6  3  1 16  8  0  5  5  3  9  6  8  6  19  17   2 26
11 Manchester City 21  6  0  5 25 11  1  4  5 14 19  7  4 10  39  30   9 25
12 Portsmouth      21  4  2  4 14 17  2  4  5  8 17  6  6  9  22  34 -12 24
13 Bolton Wndrs    22  3  2  6  8 12  4  0  7 14 18  7  2 13  22  30  -8 23
14 Newcastle Utd   22  4  4  3 18 19  1  4  6 10 18  5  8  9  28  37  -9 23
15 Sunderland      22  3  2  6 12 15  3  3  5 11 17  6  5 11  23  32  -9 23
16 Tottenham H.    22  3  4  4  8  8  2  2  7 13 19  5  6 11  21  27  -6 21
17 Blackburn R.    21  3  3  5 13 17  2  3  5 12 19  5  6 10  25  36 -11 21
18 Middlesbrough   22  3  4  4 10 15  2  2  7  8 18  5  6 11  18  33 -15 21
19 Stoke City      22  5  3  3 12 11  0  3  8  7 24  5  6 11  19  35 -16 21
20 West Brom A.    22  5  2  4 16 16  1  1  9  4 21  6  3 13  20  37 -17 21

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1501