Newsletter #1510

News from Alex tonight on the manager and his pressures, player improvements, and reaction to the UEFA and Liverpool games.

We also have opinion on the direction the club is taking, a couple of requests and sad news on two Blues.

Finally, as the Blues are in action tonight in the UEFA game we have a travel warning for those travelling to West Ham on Sunday.

Next Game: West Ham United, away, 12.30pm Sunday 1 March 2009


General News

Time to Make Our Mark: Manager Mark Hughes has responded to criticism directed at the club recently that claimed Manchester City were not developing well enough for a club with billions of pounds at their disposal by calling the club a work in progress. Whilst home games have been a joy to behold at times this season, City’s continued inconsistency when on the road has caused some to claim that nothing has changed but the former Wales and Blackburn manager has warned that the club has their targets and once these targets are met, MCFC will be a force to be reckoned with: “We are trying to achieve a mentality, and maybe change an approach, which people would react to and say, ‘Well, that’s City for you’. That needs to change and we want to ensure that, in future, we are recognised for the good, consistent performances that we are striving for. We have guys that are still integrating into the team, and we saw on Sunday at Anfield that they are starting to understand what needs to be done to win Premier League games. They worked really hard for each other and that pleased me. Where we are at this moment is not recognised, but we accept that. On occasions we disappoint ourselves and other people. But we saw at Liverpool that we have the makings of a good team – we just have to make sure we are strong and take whatever criticism comes our way. We’ll accept what is valid, the rest we will just ignore.”

Pressure Kooker: Ever since the Middle Eastern takeover of the club by super rich Abu Dhabi, inconsistent performances have been put down to an overwhelming amount of pressure that comes with the expectations of such riches. With a world star linked with the Citizens almost everyday and the expectations of fans that have waited 33 years for some silverware, it is understandable that the current squad may feel the weight of a city on their shoulders. Versatile centre back Vincent Kompany however, has been a revelation ever since signing from Hamburg SV last summer and his work ethic has arguably made him the outstanding player of the season to date. The Belgian believes that the current squad are slowly learning to thrive on the pressure rather than wilting away under it: “Ever since the new owners came, pressure has been normal for Manchester City to deal with. There has been pressure on the team, but the more pressure there is on my team, the happier I’ll be that I’m in a good team. I love it. I’ve always looked forward to situations where you are playing for something that really matters. The UEFA Cup is a good competition to be playing in, but it’s not the biggest thing that you can go for. There’s a lot of things for us to improve, so pressure is good.”

Sparking the Fight: Both Michel Platini and Copenhagen Chief Stale Stolbakken have criticised the new regime at City claiming that the Blues’ new found wealth will lead to the destruction of the game as we know it but Sparky has now had his say on the matter: “Yes, their coach has said a lot, hasn’t he? We’ve had the benefit of the money for five or six months and we haven’t destroyed football yet so I don’t think that is going to happen. In years gone by, no-one was talking about City. Now, every time there is a question about football in general, our name gets brought up and people respond to that. Everybody seems to want to knock us. We don’t think we are arrogant but people still seem to take exception. They are not in possession of the full facts and they are just looking at it from the outside.

Fixture Fun for Fulham: The latest fixture change this season sees the home tie against the Cottagers, originally planned for Saturday April the 11th, moved to Sunday April the 12th. Due to Sky television rights, this game has been chosen to be broadcast by the channel and the game will now kick off at 4pm.

Squad News

Robinho Rally: Ahead of last weekend’s fixture against Liverpool, Dutch forward Dirk Kuyt has told of his admiration for City star Robinho. Though the Brazilian forward has recently been criticised for lacking the work ethic required of a player with such obvious quality, Kuyt told the media that there aren’t many players in the league who compare with Robbie’s talent: “He’s a fantastic player and he’s done really well. It’s not easy coming from the Spanish League because it’s more physical here. I thought it would be tough for him, but he’s shown he can do really well here. He’s scored a lot of goals, and I’m sure as City get stronger as a team that he’ll become even better.” Hughes himself commented on Robbie’s return to form in the Copenhagen fixture last week: “I thought Robinho was excellent. Straight from the off he showed his intent and he was a catalyst for a lot of the good things that we did.” Goal machine Craig Bellamy, who reportedly had a bust up with Robinho after the lackluster Portsmouth game shook off suggestions that he and the South American star had ‘issues’ with each other and took time out to praise ‘Robbie’: “I am a massive admirer of Robinho, I adore him as a player – how could you not? He’s exceptional, and I think other teams know that as well. He’s our talisman, when people think of Manchester City they think of Robinho. He’s our biggest and best player by a mile. For us, he is a player we need to play well. When he plays well, we play well so we need him to be at the top of his game. It’s a lot to ask but we need him at his best.”

I’m for Keeps: Shay Given’s move to Eastlands has seen England international ‘keeper Joe Hart fall down the pecking order but the former Shrewsbury goalie has told fans that they haven’t seen the last of him and that he’ll fight Given for the gloves: “Shay has come in and done exceptionally well – I have nothing against him. It is not his fault, and if I had been in his situation I would have done exactly the same. He has been very good to me and I will be the same to him. I would love to be playing, any player will tell you that, but right now I am not, and I have to work hard in training to try and get myself back in the side. There is no point in sulking. I have not lost my job, just my place in the team. At the moment I am not the first choice ‘keeper and I want to change that as fast as I can. My desire to become first choice for my country is as strong as anyone’s. I need to play first-team football to play for England and my aim is to force my way back into the City side.”

Mee, Myself and City: Last season’s FA Youth Cup winning captain, Ben Mee, has signed a two year contract that will keep him at the club until at least 2011. The centre back, who was instrumental to the Academy’s FA Cup campaign last season, made the step up to the reserves this season and it is expected that if he keeps putting in regular, consistent performances, the nineteen year old may be pressuring the current skipper for his place. Mee told the official City website: “I’m hoping to really kick on and improve in the next two years. It has been a really good 12 months for me with the Youth Cup and now this new contract. And to train alongside and against some of the players at Carrington now has been a great experience for me, so it’s been a good year. There’s a definite difference, playing against someone like Robinho you can only improve. It’s a gradual thing, I don’t play against the first team every day, more when you are called over from the reserves, but you can see and tell the difference between the two. I want to be there every day working with and against people like Robinho and Shaun Wright-Phillips to improve my game. I played for the reserves a few times last year, but this year I can see the difference coming up against these kinds of players all the time. I have played against Dean Windass and Alan Smith this season, which taught me more about the physical side of the game – I ended up with a few more bruises than normal!”

Transfer News and Gossip

It’s All French to Me: This summer has already been labelled the battle of the Manchester clubs as City and United go head to head in the transfer market. Neymar, Cassano and Henry have all been linked with moves to either side of Manchester in the last six month but it is the French forward, dubbed the new Zinedine Zidane, who is the main focal point of the arch-rivals. Lyon claimed that City made a ‘huge’ bid in January in order to take their prize asset from under their noses but it is expected that a bid of £30 million will bring the striker to the Premier League. Despite a preferred destination of Spain with both Barcelona and Real Madrid also in the running, United are said to be favourites to sign the international goal scorer but with bottomless pockets, City can create severe competition in the market.

Faroe-Nuff: Young goalkeeper Gunnar Nielson is the latest member of the Blue revolution as the man from the Faroe Islands signed a two and a half year contract this week. Nielson, well known to Hughes from his time at Blackburn where the ‘keeper had a spell in his even earlier days, claimed that joining City was just too big an opportunity to knock back: “This is a really big club, and it’s nice to come here knowing people. I know what they expect from me, and they will know what to expect from me. I am really excited because I know that they believe in me, so I will work hard for them. It seems like a club with massive plans that wants to achieve great things. I have met people at Carrington and there is a real harmony there, everybody seems happy and is focusing on the same goals. It’s a good place to come to. So many players would give their right arm to be in the position I am in right now. Of course it’s an exciting time, and I am not going to let this chance go by.”

Post-Match Reaction

FC Copenhagen: Snow like you wouldn’t believe covered the stands in the Danish capital last Thursday night in a freezing cold Copenhagen yet the Blues put on a display that could lead to a much warmer destination – Istanbul. Despite a run of poor domestic form this season, which consists of only one Premier League victory away from home this term, the Blues had previously taken all three points against a quality Schalke side earlier in the competition. And it seems as if Europe provides the squad with a platform to perform on their travels that England is yet to do. Despite taking the lead twice in the game, goals coming from the lucky Nedum Onuoha and ever consistent Stephen Ireland, City were held to a 2-2 draw as the Danish side equalized in the final minute of the game. Hughes gave his opinion on the result that sees his side take the away goal advantage into the second leg at CoMS: “We’re obviously disappointed to lose a goal at that late stage because I thought we would see the game out quite comfortably at that point. But we have to look on the positive side; we have turned in a good away performance, got two away goals and overall put in a good, professional European performance. It was not the win that we were looking for, but before the game we would have been delighted with what we ended up with. We are in the box seat, and the advantage is ours. It’s up to us to make the most of it.” Goal scorer Ireland gave his assessment of a hard-earned result: “It was a good performance. I thought the defence were very good, they defended very well. From corners, they caused us some problems but I think we can learn from the performance and take it into next week. We were ahead twice and I think we should really have held on to the lead but looking back on it 2-2 is not too bad for us.”

Liverpool: Disappointing as it may be that City’s impressive performance against Liverpool may have effectively handed United the title, following up the Copenhagen game with a second unbeaten away game will have done nothing to harm City’s confidence this season. Again the Blues led through a Craig Bellamy strike, his third since joining the Blues, but even with De Jong, Zabaleta and Kompany in excellent form, Given did finally concede to level the scores. The goalie did make various top quality saves and with Richard Dunne back in form and Robinho also putting in a shift, things look positive for the back end of the season. Manager Hughes told of his pride: “We caused them problems in attack, and for long periods we were very much in control of the game. To say that at Anfield is something we have to be pleased about. We have set a standard now and it is up to us to not let it drop from what we produced today. There have been times this season when we have been impressive at home, and then been at fault away in the next match. What we have to do from now until the end of the season is a consistent level of performance. On the back of the display in Copenhagen, we are starting to get that. I thought we looked strong at the end of the game after the exertions of Thursday night. Liverpool have had a couple of weeks off, and no-one could say we were tiring towards the end. It’s a good sign for the second half of the season.”

Alex Rowen <news(at)>


Thanks to Tim for sending us news of travel disruption in London this weekend, with disruption on the tube service and access to Upton Park affected.

You can find out more on the Transport for London website here



An indication that MH and his City squad have turned the corner was presented yesterday in the Barcelona Sport newspaper. Bought by a daily 600,000 and read by everyone as it is in every bar/cafe etc.

They studiously analyse all the European leagues every day and on a Tuesday in their Planeta Futball column decide on the best performances by individual players in all Euro games and thus arrive at a Euro Team of the Weekend.

Richard Dunne was graced as the best defender and Craig Bellamy as the best forward last weekend, throughout Europe. I’m only shocked that Vincent Kompany didn’t make the best midfielder.

Let’s all hope that City carry on with the level of performance seen in the first two games, catch Everton and win the UEFA Cup.

Patrick Knowles, Barcelona <pjamk(at)>


I respect everybody’s opinion, it is what football is all about. I must disappoint Steve Burrows though when he says… “it gives Hughes’ successor something to build on!”

The following is a link to the (was Manchester) Guardian and an article about Brian Marwood coming in to assist Mark Hughes as ‘Football Administrator’:

The disappointing part for Steve is this:
“Hughes has been encouraged by some of his recent conversations with the club’s chairman, Khaldoon Al Mubarak. The two men speak at least twice a week and recently had a meeting in London at which Mubarak assured Hughes he was not overly concerned about the team’s erratic form and had confidence in him to do the job for a long time.”

Seems like we might, just might, get some mightily overdue continuity at our wonderful club.

On another subject, Nedum Onouha was interviewed on 5Live Sport tonight (Monday 23/02/2009) and was a great ambassador for the Club. This educated and erudite young man is a wonderful example for any young person. One thing he did say in the interview (here I paraphrase from memory), was that he thought that “Manchester City was a great place to be at the moment, and that in training they (the players) all had a great laugh at some of the wild things said and printed about them and the club”.

Straight from the horse’s mouth. So much for player unrest.

CTID, Jack Millington <jack(at)>


I read with much interest by one of the contributors of the last McV who bemoans that Mark Hughes didn’t signed a central defender in the last transfer window.

First of all let me say this if you follow football with a passion you would know right away that the winter transfer window is a difficult one to get top players; clubs want to hang on to their top players at least until the end of the season.

Secondly, I would like to point out that Mark Hughes did try to get a central defender, Kolo Toure from Arsenal, but they would not let him leave the club.

Here is a list of players that have joined City since Mark Hughes’ arrival: Robinho, Zabaleta, SWeeP, Kompany, Bridge, De Jong, Tal Ben Haim, Bellamy and a Brazilian central defender Berti who has not played yet (just been on the bench, but has played once for Brazil).

The players who have left since Mark Hughes took over: Samaras, Isaksson, Geovanni, Mpenza, Dickov, M Mills, Sun Jihai, Corluka, Tal Ben Haim, Jo (on loan).

To me this is not a bad record for a manager who has only been in charge since August 2008. Jo was brought into MCFC before Mark Hughes took over and was not one of his signings, Tal Ben Haim was signed by Mark, but he was quick to unload him as a bad signing.

You don’t wave a magic wand and everything changes, just look how long it took Sir Alex Ferguson to get a winning team together; the club stood by him, and we look with envy at his record.

So I say again, stand behind our Manager. He is the brightest up and coming manager in the UK. Patience. I have waited more than thirty years just like many other City supporters and fans for success; I am sure that I can wait a little longer with the Manager that we have in Mark Hughes.

Sir Alex Ferguson joined the Rags in 1986 and is still a successful manager to the present day. From 1986 to the present this is a list of managers that City have had during the reign of just one manager at United: Billy McNeill, Jimmy Frizzell, Mel Machin, Howard Kendall, Peter Reid, Brian Horton, Alan Ball, Asa Hartford, Steve Coppell, Phil Neal, Frank Clark, Joe Royle, Kevin Keegan, Stuart Pearce, Sven Goran Eriksson, and our present manager Mark Hughes.

Now no-one is about to say that all the managers deserved to be a City manager, but there are some who deserved to at least remained at the club longer.

Get behind Mark Hughes and stop all the wanting him out before his first season with the club, this is why City have been in the shadows of United for so long. We need stability, and I firmly back Mark Hughes to help our beloved club get that stability, something that we shall never have with some idiots calling for his head already.

In Sparky I trust the future of Manchester City.

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <britcityblue(at)>


In response to David Lewis I would just like to add that unless you have some form of legal qualification then you could find it difficult to understand the exact meaning of the wording of the FA.

As a referee who has both reported incidents and been reported for various misunderstandings, I know only to well that you need to be legally aware when it comes to contesting anything that the FA do.

For example, a report from a referee must be submitted in writing within two days of the match. The FA can take up to 100 days to present those charges to the offending persons. I only know this because I received a report made against me nearly 2 months after the incident; when I questioned this I was told of the 100 day rule. My concern was that the original report had not been submitted in the required timescale but you really have no proof of this.

The FA is not all it’s cracked upto be, allegedly.

Sam Duxbury <sammy459(at)>


Good to see the review of Steve Mingle’s book ‘Allison Wonderland’ by Heidi in MCIVTA 1508 and the endorsement by Ray Bardsley in MCIVTA 1509.

Could I just mention that there is an interview with Steve, who is a top bloke, in the latest issue of King Of the Kippax, number 167, on sale now. This covers the background to the book, reflections, and observations on that period of time. The ‘zine also bites back at the disgusting media coverage further to the Kaka situation and our current riches.

Thanks, Sue Wallace <dw001e8104(at)>


Me and Alessio Rizzo, an old City fan from Rome, shall come to watch the Villa game on Wednesday 4 March. We’ll be in Manchester airport late in the morning, then we’ll make our way to Manchester. We’ll come back to Italy on Thursday 5th early afternoon.

It should be a great pleasure meet you in the afternoon or directly into the COMS before the game. Our places are in the North Stand 140: Seat Rows 1128 and 1129.

Hope to see you next week and, obviously, come on City forever!

Renato Tubere <r.tubere(at)>


It is with much sadness that I report passing of Peter Gatrell, the secretary of the Disabled Supporters’ Branch (DSB). Peter passed away in hospital last Friday a short illness.

Peter was a modest man who led the DSB with distinction and great enthusiasm. I had the privilege of attending several DSB meetings. All meetings had great variety to them with something for everybody. He will be very sadly missed at the DSB and a very difficult act to follow. At the moment all our thoughts are with his lovely wife Sue, his two children Linda and David, as well as his much adored grandchildren, Jessica aged 4 and Jamie aged 2.

The family welcome all those who knew Peter and City fans in general to his funeral. The arrangements are:
Service at Radcliffe Crematorium, off Ainsworth Road Radcliffe, Friday 27th February 12-45pm.
Wake at Radcliffe Cricket Club, Unsworth Road, Radcliffe 2-00pm approx.
If you can’t make the service come to the wake or vice versa.

All City fans attending are welcome and invited to wear City shirts, scarves etc. Peter would have loved it. Family flowers only by request. Donations can be made to Parkinsons.

If possible, please give this wonderful man the send off he deserves.

Alex Channon <alexchannon81(at)>

KEVIN WHELAN 1953-2009

My friend and fellow City fan Kevin passed away, after a brave fight with cancer, in London on Friday February 20th.

A true City supporter throughout his life, watching his first game some 50 years ago and despite moving to London in the 1970’s, Kevin continued his passion and love for the club. Despite the attempts of the rail companies, it was a rare season when Kevin didn’t get to the majority of games.

A season ticket holder, this campaign had begun with him joining the party who attempted to make the 24 hour trawler crossing to the Faroe Islands (eventually being bailed out and completing the journey by air!) and ended with Kevin watching the away game in Santander.

Kevin contributed occasionally and always insightfully to various bulletin boards, using many aliases WTFIGO, BushBlue and Father Jack amongst them. He was a long term member of the London Branch, having been involved in running the branch in the late 70’s/early 80’s with his friends Andy Shaw and Jon Dean.

Kevin also had a penchant for obtaining tickets to “sell out” games and was always looking to pass any spares to fans that weren’t as well connected, always at face value and trusting those who didn’t have the money to pay him later… some even did.

Kevin is survived by Louise and will be with us all in Istanbul.

Please contact me direct for details of Keving’s funeral service.

Harri Kallas <harri(at)>


23 February 2009

Hull City             1 - 2  Tottenham Hotspur     24,742

League table to 25 February 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  26 12  1  0 30  5  7  4  2 16  6 19  5  2  46  11  35 62
 2 Liverpool       26  7  6  0 20  8  8  4  1 23 10 15 10  1  43  18  25 55
 3 Chelsea         26  6  5  2 21  7  9  2  2 24  8 15  7  4  45  15  30 52
 4 Aston Villa     26  5  6  2 18 13 10  0  3 22 12 15  6  5  40  25  15 51
 5 Arsenal         26  7  4  2 18 11  5  5  3 20 14 12  9  5  38  25  13 45
 6 Everton         26  4  5  4 18 16  7  3  3 16 12 11  8  7  34  28   6 41
 7 Wigan Athletic  26  6  4  3 13 11  3  4  6 13 13  9  8  9  26  24   2 35
 8 Fulham          25  8  3  1 21  9  0  6  7  3 13  8  9  8  24  22   2 33
 9 West Ham United 26  6  1  6 18 17  3  5  5 14 17  9  6 11  32  34  -2 33
10 Manchester City 26  8  0  5 28 12  1  5  7 15 23  9  5 12  43  35   8 32
11 Sunderland      26  5  2  6 15 15  3  5  5 12 18  8  7 11  27  33  -6 31
12 Bolton Wndrs    26  5  2  6 13 15  4  1  8 16 23  9  3 14  29  38  -9 30
13 Hull City       26  3  3  7 14 27  4  5  4 18 21  7  8 11  32  48 -16 29
14 Tottenham H.    26  4  5  4 11  9  3  2  8 17 23  7  7 12  28  32  -4 28
15 Newcastle Utd   26  4  6  3 19 20  2  4  7 14 22  6 10 10  33  42  -9 28
16 Portsmouth      26  5  2  6 18 21  2  5  6 11 22  7  7 12  29  43 -14 28
17 Stoke City      26  6  4  3 15 13  0  3 10  8 29  6  7 13  23  42 -19 25
18 Blackburn R.    25  3  4  6 15 21  2  4  6 13 21  5  8 12  28  42 -14 23
19 Middlesbrough   26  3  6  4 10 15  2  2  9  8 21  5  8 13  18  36 -18 23
20 West Brom A.    26  5  2  6 18 24  1  2 10  6 25  6  4 16  24  49 -25 22

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1510