Newsletter #1547

News tonight from Alex on the pre-season training camp over in Germany, expectations for the season ahead and reaction from our latest signings as John Terry joins this week’s “in the frame” list.

We have opinion on team building, the song debate and information on a forthcoming City book.

Next Game: Orlando Pirates, away, 3pm Saturday 18 July (pre-season)


General News

Here We Go Again: As players across the land put down their golf clubs and re-join their clubs at the training ground, Hughes and Co. are off to Germany. Not all of City’s players have travelled to Europe in preparation for next season as those who have figured in international fixtures in the close season have been offered a ‘free pass’ until the team return ahead of their trip to South Africa. Robinho and Elano take a break having committed themselves to the triumphant Brazilian squad at this year’s Confederations Cup and they are joined by Richards and Onuoha who narrowly missed out on success when playing for the England Under 21s at this summer’s European Championship. Whilst Gareth Barry’s holiday has been extended for a further week due to his international participation last month, £18 million signing Roque Santa Cruz has joined up with his new team mates and participated in training sessions run by the coaches that mentored him at Blackburn. The club’s camp will conclude on July 11th with a pre-season friendly against 1860 Munich, a club that have been linked with the signature of free agent Dietmar Hamann.

Lessons of the Past: Chelsea may have found domestic success by spending more than half a billion pounds in six years, but their inconsistent expenditure has seen their success slump in the last couple of years and the London side continue to ‘fail’ in Europe. This, the Manchester City hierarchy has said, is a lesson that the club has learnt from. Though comparisons are inevitably going to be made between the two super rich clubs, City intend to achieve sustained success rather than a limited amount in a short space of time: “On Wednesday of last week it was six years to the day that Roman Abramovich took over Chelsea. You keep looking at these marker stones from the past and try to learn from what has been done, both good and the bad. I think our fans are appreciative of Sheikh Mansour because we have something real here. There is consistency in the management team, we have a new executive leadership team, we are opening a new retail store, building new offices, we have a new website, the kit launches next week, and we are buying new players. When you talk about those things, it can be infectious, and that is what we are trying to do, make it infectious.”

Cup Challenge: Fans have been warned not to expect too much too soon from multi-million pound spending Manchester City but boss Mark Hughes has said that city rivals Manchester United are beginning to fear the Blues and the City squad is intent on bringing renewed glory to the club: “United are taking our situation more seriously in terms of what we can do – and it’s not just them realising that. Bizarrely, what is happening here can help United through us being capable of taking points off other top-four clubs – but we want to take points off United, too. When Sir Alex Ferguson talks about Liverpool being United’s main rivals, it’s because of the great success the two clubs have had. The rivalry is there because of what they have both achieved. Our rivalry with United is more of a local nature but I want to get back to the days when we were challenging for the same trophies. I want to win any trophy because that would be a sign of progress. For instance, to win the Carling Cup would be great for us. I can remember what winning that meant to United three years ago. They beat Wigan in the final and it was the first thing they had won for a couple of years. It’s about putting silverware on the sideboard. And I know our fans want to see us have a cup run. I would love to take Manchester City to a final – that is one of my aims.”

Harry’s Hunger Stifled: Spurs may have spent upwards of £50 million last season in an attempt to compete with the top four, but Harry Redknapp believes they are nowhere near financially adept enough to compete with City in the transfer window. Redknapp had planned to make moves for both Gareth Barry and Roque Santa Cruz this summer but, having also missed out on renewed target Craig Bellamy last winter, Redknapp is refusing to go head to head for any player that Manchester City are interested in: “They are working on another level with the wages they can offer. We liked Barry and Santa Cruz but, when it came to it, we just weren’t at the races. I have spoken to the chairman, Daniel Levy; we’ve decided if we can’t get players who will improve the team, then we’re not going to bother. We’ve already got a decent squad, many of whom are going to get better. We can push to finish in the top six if we improve our away results.”

Squad News

Dusting Off the Cape: The arrivals of Roque Santa Cruz and Gareth Barry will have awoken members of the City squad who possibly thought that their place in the first eleven was a given, but Supporters’ Player of the Year Stephen Ireland has promised fans that at no point throughout the summer has he become complacent. ‘Superman’, whose rejuvenation last season even outshone British record signing Robinho, has spent his close season in the gym ensuring that his fitness remains at its peak so that he is ready to fight off any competition for his place next term. Such competition will include not only multi-million pound signings but also current team mate Michael Johnson who was compared to City legend Colin Bell the last time the injured academy graduate played consistently for the club: “What has happened this summer is really exciting and the squad is going to be a lot stronger that is for sure. Gareth Barry is a very shrewd and clever signing by the manager. He is a top class all around midfielder who will give us more balance. Gareth knows his way around the Premier League and you know exactly what you will get from him. The great thing about Gareth and Roque, who is another crucial addition, is that they are players who are in their prime. They are experienced but not on the way down and we have got them at just the right time. Roque will help us vary our attacks more. He puts himself about and is a proper target man who also scores goals. He has always struck me as someone who is easy to play off because he holds the ball well and reads the game cleverly. Players are going to have to be flexible and that is great. There will be a big fight to get into that first team of the season and that is my immediate aim. Then it will be to play so well that the manager can never think of leaving me out.”

Fans Put City in Cruz Control: After a chase that lasted six months, the Blues finally completed the signing of Paraguayan striker Roque Santa Cruz last month. Mark Hughes had been desperate to sign the twenty seven year old ever since his own move from Blackburn Rovers and has even claimed that had he signed the target man in January, the Blues would now be preparing for the Europa League. Now the player himself has explained the reasons for his move – the fans: “I know how passionate and excited the fans are. I heard it on the radio when the fans were ringing up talking about the possibility of me coming here. It was very helpful to listen to things about football and it was interesting to hear what the fans said about the fact I might join City.”

Santa Cruz has tasted success before, as a member of Bayern Munich’s most successful squad, but he believes that winning with City would be much more of an achievement: “To win one here would be like 10 times there. At Bayern there was an obligation to win titles and we did it five times. I have no doubt it would be sweeter to win one here.”

Wright In Touch With the Fans: Having come through the ranks since his move from Nottingham Forest as a youngster, Shaun Wright Phillips has always been a fans’ favourite and the England winger has told this week of how much he is looking forward to changing that image of ‘typical City’ into a real force within European football: “The fact that on the day I came back to City we stayed in the UEFA Cup through a last-minute own goal against Midtjylland and then won a dramatic penalty shoot-out made me smile. I’ve been here that long that I’m used to that being the way with City – it was always like that when I was coming through the ranks. We always liked to do the things the hard way, but hopefully the boss is slowly but surely getting that out of us now and this is a club geared for sustained success.”

Transfer News and Rumours

Sam Still the Man: Despite confusion arising about whether or not the Blues are close to securing a deal for Samuel Eto’o or chasing shadows, Mark Hughes has said that signing Eto’o would be a massive result for the Citizens and though many have criticized him for focusing ‘solely’ on his strike force, the manager has explained the need for quality up front especially given the loss of Danny Sturridge to Chelsea this summer: “He is a world star and a European Cup winner, the type that scores you 23 goals a season. With those types of player you know exactly what you will get – quality, a winner’s mentality and someone who will get people out of their seats. My feeling is that it is the right time for him to help us in our ambitions. There is an old adage in football that you stand or fall by your strikers. There are times in games when things aren’t going particularly well when you need somebody with the ability to win games on their own. All the top clubs have them. If we can add players who can do it to the ones we already have, it gives us a better chance.”

What a Hint! Interest from Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barcelona seems to have faltered as the Blues continue in their pursuit for former United striker Carlos Tevez and Tevez himself has now declared that if he moved across the city to CoMS, United fans would not criticise him for doing so: “If I play for Manchester City, I don’t think the United fans will feel I am a traitor. They have to remember that at least as far as I know I have been thrown out of the club and I have to study the best offers available. It has come about because I could not stand my sporting situation at Manchester United any longer. My first year was good in all senses. I played in the games and felt respected by the coach but, in my second year, some strange things happened that I still do not understand. After the game at Old Trafford, where Liverpool beat us, Ferguson ignored me, almost as if I was to blame for the defeat when really Liverpool dominated us all over the pitch. After that, the fans called for me to be in the team but he never took the advice on board because he always knows best. I gave everything for Manchester United and people know that. For that reason, I don’t deserve the way things have ended up.”

Terry-ble Times for Chelsea: In an attempt to put Manchester City on the map, City’s next marquee signing may be England captain John Terry with proposed wages of £300,000 per week. With the World Cup coming up next summer, owner Sheikh Mansour believes that England’s chances are as good as anyone else’s thanks to the management of Fabio Capello and therefore if England have any hope of winning the trophy, Mansour wants it to be a City player who lifts the trophy. Terry has been subject to two rejected bids by Manchester City already this year but the City hierarchy believes that one more bid, of approximately £40 million, may be enough to prize away the Chelsea skipper. Though the man himself is yet to comment on his future at Stamford Bridge, newly installed Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti declared earlier this week that Terry will captain Chelsea for the rest of his career and warned the Blues off a third bid: “I think that Terry is a symbol of the team. Naturally he will be the captain next time; he says he wants to be at Chelsea next season and we want to keep him forever. There is no price – he will be captain of Chelsea forever. There is no problem. For him, for us, the story continues for Chelsea. For captain I would like to have Terry. He is very close to [Paolo] Maldini in professionalism and I would like to keep him as captain.”

No Jo-ke: Many fans will expect the Blues to challenge the elite top four clubs in the Premier League this year and yet the more realistic fans amongst us will simply hope to finish highest in the ‘mini-league’ that includes Villa, Everton and Spurs. Despite this rivalry, it looks likely that the Citizens will once again loan out Brazilian striker Jo to David Moyes’ side. Jo, who was a £19 million signing from CSKA Moscow last summer failed to settle at the club and is currently training for the pre-season alongside his Everton colleagues of last season rather than his Manchester City ones. The Toffees have yet to confirm the season long loan but the official MCFC website did confirm this week that Jo will remain at Goodison Park for the next twelve months in what Moyes considers to be a free transfer. This loan signing may also signal the end of City’s chase for highly rated centre back Joleon Lescott who was rumoured to leave Everton in an exchange deal for Jo.

Quinn, Dick, and Harry: City skipper Richard Dunne is the focus of Niall Quinn’s attentions this summer as Sunderland seek to improve their on the pitch defensive options. Recently appointed Steve Bruce is a long term fan of the Irishman and Quinn is plotting to make Dunne Bruce’s first signing. Harry Redknapp is out to ruin the party however, with a £7 million bid waiting in the wings should City sign a world class centre half to replace their four times player of the year. Quinn acknowledged Dunne’s quality and the competition he will face: “Dunne is an excellent footballer but he is Man City’s and we are led to believe that he is a Man City player until they say any different – and that he is not actually for sale until that point. We will have to stand in line. We are not the only admirers of Richard Dunne. But if there is a chink of light through that door at Man City, we will get through it if we can.”

On the Fringe of Things: The media continues to link City with more world renowned footballers such as Lucio, Puyol and Marchena but what then happens to the likes of Benjani, Caicedo and Ched Evans? The answer seems to be that they will move on. Portsmouth, Fulham and Blackburn Rovers continue to fight it out for the £4 million signature of striker Benjani Murawari with the South Coast a favoured destination for the Zimbabwean: “I have good memories and I have a special relationship with the Portsmouth supporters. I left on a good note and I have nothing but good feelings about them that is for sure. I would love to play for them again, but at the moment I am contracted to Manchester City. I have a job to do here until I am told anything else. In football, you never know what is around the corner.” Felipe Caicedo is also plotting his own exit from the club. The Ecuadorian, who was one of Sven Goran Eriksson’s signings, had a mixed season last year and is unlikely to be promised a place in the first eleven next season. With Sporting Lisbon throwing their hat in the ring for the 20 year old, the striker is likely to leave and yet the Blues will only loan out Caicedo as they believe that he is a bright prospect for the future. Welsh forward, Ched Evans is a target for Sheffield United who have already bid £1.5 million for the internationally capped player though an appropriate fee is yet to be agreed. With the futures of Gelson Fernandes, Kasper Schmeichel and Javier Garrido yet to be settled, there is much more business to be done at CoMS and not only the entrance of superstars.

McGivern on the Move: Northern Irish defender Ryan McGivern is preparing for a move away from the club if only on a temporary basis. The 19-year-old, who was a part of the FA Youth Cup winning squad of 2008, has plans to become a regular fixture in the City senior squad but understands that in order to do so, he must first gain some first team experience. Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson is looking to strengthen his defensive options having been promoted to the Championship last season and has claimed that McGivern, who has been capped six times by his country, has been recommended to him by a trusted contact. Leicester may face competition from Morcambe who are also keen to loan out the defender following a successful spell there last season.

Academy Blues

Going Global: Upon arrival at the club, Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarek promised to combine world class signings with Academy talent in the search for success. Now the club is putting that plan into action by revealing their intentions to create an international academy in Abu Dhabi. The Abu Dhabi academy, which is set to be opened during the World Club Championships next winter, will be the first step of an extensive plan to take the club worldwide with the Blues already eyeing up a spot in the US, as explained by Executive Chairman Garry Cook: “We want to drive the international awareness of its values through grass roots investment of time, expertise and money. It will add value to the local football culture through player and coach development and support the development of local talent into local or regional professional careers in football. The Academies will create a focal point for our local fans and in the longer term generate a network of young football fans who will be advocates in their communities for City. There has been tremendous change in the club in the ten months that Sheikh Mansour has owned the club but one of the areas we haven’t looked at is the Academy and that is what we are now doing. In our opinion we have the best Academy in the country and the best guy leading it in Jim. What we want to do is take that quality overseas in a real and meaningful way. It makes sense to try and replicate the great work Jim and his staff have done overseas and Abu Dhabi is a natural starting point. The owner’s commitment to the Academy is well documented. We are trying to change the culture of the club to one of opportunity and in Jim we have one of the greatest developers of youth talent in the world and we want to utilise that. Jim is a leader and he wants a challenge.”

Ex-Blues’ News

Into the Sunset: Former City right back Sun Jihai has left the English leagues following a seven year stint in the country. The versatile defender, who signed for the Blues in 2002, has returned to his native China following an inconsistent spell at Sheffield United where he claimed that he never truly settled in Yorkshire. Blades’ manager Kevin Blackwell expressed his good wishes to the player and claimed that family reasons were the motives behind his move: “The situation made him slightly uncomfortable so I didn’t want to keep him like that. He is a great professional and a good lad who taught the young lads quite a lot and we wish him all the best.”

Alex Rowen <news(at)>


I must take issue with Glyn Albuquerque’s entirely level-headed, intelligent and manifestly sensible post in MCIVTA 1546 to the effect that spilling a wheelbarrow full of dough on John Terry makes no sense.

It does if (a) you are told that you need to make the top 6 this year and (b) money is no object. In that case, spending sensibly on young players who will come good two or three seasons from now takes a back seat to immediate success, and the latter comes when you buy a seasoned professional at the top of his game, to heck with the resale value.

So while I agree that Glyn’s way is probably the best, it probably isn’t the best for Mark Hughes, given the way his incentives have been lined up (having said that, there is something to be said for bringing in an old winner to pass his wisdom and inspiration onto the youngsters; Nedum and Micah could do a lot worse than learn their trade playing alongside a peak John Terry).

Bernard Molyneux <molyneux(at)>


I first heard ‘Blue Moon’ at the first game of the season 1989/90 at Anfield (first game back in Division 1 as it was then).

This just predates those of writers saying it was under Howard Kendall, the Forest game when Dibble was caught out and Quinny scoring at Anfield.

Phill Gatenby <Safestanding(at)>


Just wanted to let people know that I’ve written a book that I hope will be available from August. It’s called ‘Best Job In The World: From The Terraces To The Press Box’. A look at my life and career through the window of the 2008/09 season. The book covers my 40 years as a City fan, hopefully offering an insight in my transition from fan to dream job. I was inspired to write it after blogging during last season’s European games, concentrating on the trips, the people and all the memories certain trips brought back to me from being a steward on the football specials to my job now. I’ve tried to make it humorous but also interesting for anyone who wants to fulfil their ambitions.

People have asked me so many questions about my career that I thought I might try to answer some of them, while also showing what a season in my life is like. I attended 116 matches last season, every City game, including Youth Cup and many other local games too.

The book will be published by Optimum Publishing and we’re looking at a cover price of approx £11.99.

Ian Cheeseman – BBC Radio Manchester

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Newsletter #1547