Friday, December 28, 2007

Santa Draws City's Home Run To An End

City 2 - 2 Rovers

Well it had to happen sometime I guess, and City's 100% home record is sadly no more.

It was a shame however, that the eventual result of yesterday's game was settled by a controversial decision by the referee and his linesman - something that is quite a common thing at Eastlands these days.

Was it offside or wasn't it? Was David Dunn "active" or was he not? What's clear is that the offside law is a mess and needs sorting out so that the match officials are not put into the unenviable position of making a split second judgment on something that is a purely subjective matter.

This "active" and "inactive" nonsense is completely unworkable and leaves little scope for consistency for big decisions, something the players, managers and fans are all desperately craving.

As for the game itself, if I'm being totally objective (something that doesn't naturally come easy), I guess you'd have to say that a draw was a fair result on the balance of play. City looked good in short spells with Petrov at last showing what he's capable of, but Rovers dominated the 2nd half with City struggling to win and keep hold of the ball.

Having extolled Bianchi's virtues in my previous article, he was pretty disappointing up front and how he missed that goal line tap-in I will still never know. Somehow, I fear his City career will not be a long one!

I was surprised not to see Geovanni again as he's looked quality in his few cameo appearances to date. City were crying out for a bit on invention in the centre of midfield and you would have thought that resting Hamann and Elano would have given Geo his chance - I really don't understand that at all.

Next up is another tough game against Liverpool - never an easy match.

Even if we draw, that will mean a disappointing three points from the Xmas fixtures; a win of course would make things look a whole lot better !

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Bianchi Proves His Worth

No doubt there will be a flurry of activity in the transfer window in the New Year and endless, rubbish rumours, but I wouldn't be too surprised if Sven doesn't turn out to be that active in the market.

It's been clear that we've been struggling up front this season and have been fortunate that the midfield have been able to score some extremely valuable goals. Despite a lot of work rate, Mpenza doesn't look as good as he was last season, now that he's surrounded by much better players. For me, he's too much like Vassell, but without the blistering pace and bullish strength.

It's been hard to be critical of Sven so far, but his handling of Bianchi has been poor - he even admitted it himself in a recent interview and said lessons had been learned. In the last few games, "Rolandinho" has showed just why Sven forked out £8.8m for him in the summer.

It looks like Bianchi is finally settling down in his new surroundings and is now playing with a confidence that we haven't seen before. It does beg the question about what he could have achieved and where we might be in the table if Sven had picked him every week (when he was fit of course).

The exciting arrival of Castillo will I'm sure spur Rolando on even more and competition for what could be only one striker's position will hot up intensely. it's easy to forget that Bojinov is poised to return and when he does, it will be like having a whole new pool of forwards to choose from.

With more forwards available, it would be nice to see Sven make the most of his attacking options and use a more orthodox 4-4-2 formation, maybe even a 4-3-3 for the right occasion. We've looked much more threatening in recent weeks when Sven's used two strikers.

So, for me it's Mpenza and Samaras that need to be the movers in January. Despite only a handful of appearances, Bianchi has shown that he has got quality and at just 23, City will have him at Eastlands during his prime and that could be worth an awful lot.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Xmas Roast? ...... That's My Boy !!!

It was only a matter of time before one of the young City players with too much time and money on their hands ended up featuring in a tabloid scandal and sadly Micah has managed to "score" a big own goal if the reports doing the rounds at the moment are true.

You can just picture the scene in the manager's office with a furtive and uncomfortable-looking Sven, with years of personal experience in these matters giving Micah some fatherly advice about off the field etiquette and acceptable behaviour from high-profile footballers.

Sven is reported to have "had a word" with him about it, probably with a glint in his eye and with some mild admiration. Micah is lucky that his boss just happens to be the most qualified person on this delicate subject - just ask Nancy, Faria, Ulrike etc..etc..

I just hope the other premiership player alleged to be involved isn't Rio Ferdinand.... now that really would kill his reputation !!

Grow up Micah !

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sven Makes A Good Point

With the unenviable home record City have this season, a point yesterday at Villa Park was a decent enough result.

It could have been better after Bianchi fired City into an early lead, but it could have been a whole lot worse if Villa had converted more of their many chances. On the balance of play, Villa dominated without being able to produce a killer finish.

City held firm and I guess rode their luck a little, but we'll take that - it is the season of goodwill after all! That said, most of the away fans would have headed back up the M6 with a bit of early Christmas cheer savouring a well earned point.

I couldn't quite work out some of the team changes though. Dropping both Garrido and Corluka to the bench seemed a bit strange; clearly they were both fit and both had decent enough performances in the Spurs game on Tuesday night. I wonder whether there was an element of Sven making a point after some sort of internal misdemeanor? All a bit strange if you ask me.

To be fair though, Ball came in and was probably man of the match. His block against Reo-Coker in the final moments denied Agbonlahor an easy tap in and meant City came away with a share of the spoils.

After slating Steve Bennett in my last report (available here), once again the referee (Lee Mason) in my opinion was far to keen to get his card out - 6 bookings was inappropriate for what was good match played in the right spirit. It just makes you wonder when common sense is going to prevail in football matches.... sadly, probably never is the answer to that one!

Merry Christmas to you all and thanks for reading this Blog!

Next game: Blackburn Rovers at CoMS on 27th December - k.o 7.45pm

Prediction: another bruising game - they always are against Rovers, but City to shade it with another trademark 1-0 home win

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Horse Called It Right !

City 0 - 2 Spurs

I don' t know why, but I had a sense of foreboding driving to Eastlands this evening; I think it's just something about playing Spurs in the Cup, a fixture that always seems to be a highly charged affair.

My anxiety about the game was heightened as we approached the Spurs end outside the stadium when a Police horse scraped its hoof twice on the ground just as we walked past.

My lad and I looked at each other and were reminded Soccer AM's " Mystic Ed" and simultaneously came to the same conclusion - this could only mean a two nil away win, and so it came to pass. I only wish I'd gone straight round to Ladbrokes instead of stopping off for my usual pre-match chips and gravy.

So what did we learn tonight ?

1) Spurs and City fans agreeing in loud chorus that Steve Bennett is "not fit to be a referee"; a truly shocking performance from the man in black tonight. By the time Zokora had been sent off in the middle of the 1st half, he'd already lost control of the game. Malbranque should have been red carded as well for what seemed a worse tackle than Zokora's. Dunne and Johnson should have had penalties, but to add insult to injury, Johnson was yellow carded for a dive, when it was clearly a foul - I was right in line with it.

2) We looked blunt up front again. nice to see Nery Castillo come out on the pitch before the kick off - shame he wasn't available to play tonight as we're crying out for a regular goal scorer. I'm really looking forward to seeing him in a blue shirt in January. Bianchi is still a better option than Mpenza and Samaras though !

3) Sven needs to get the players down to Carrington early tomorrow and do some intensive passing practice. I lost count of how many times we gave the ball away with sloppy passes and poor positioning - real schoolboy stuff.

4) We missed Stevie Ireland in midfield, although when Geo came on we looked a different team and he really should start a few games now and get his chance to cement his place. He looks so strong and comfortable on the ball.

5) Berbatov is a real class act; he was outstanding tonight and if Mr Shinawatra has still got some cash left, sign him up quick!

Disappointing that the home record went tonight, but it wasn't our best performance - lots of effort, but little quality on display.

I must try and find that horse again for the next match though !

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Has Sven Gone Too Far ?

It's great to see City flying high so far this season; after the lows of the last few years the fans have at last got something to cheer about.

Although I'm naturally chuffed to see City in the top 4 and obviously hope we stay there, all this heady success is causing me what is perhaps a strange problem ...... apart from bulk standard match reports (which I don't tend to do as everyone else seems to re-cycle the same thing), there isn't that much else to write about City these days.

I don't know what my fellow regular City chroniclers such as Danny @ Bitterandblue and Andy, Gavin and Johnny Baguette @ Vital Football think, but these days it's hard finding something different, challenging or provocative to write about as everythings going so swimmingly, just like a well oiled machine. Even the output from the excellent Purelymancity and KoTK doesn't seem to be as prolific as it was just a few months ago.

For so long, City fans have had such a rollercaster existence swaying from one crisis to another, but now it's so different, and I have to say quite disconcerting that we have very little to moan about these days, such is the impact that Sven and the new regime have made - I can't remember the last dig I had at the Club it's so long ago.

Is it just me or does anyone else feel the same anxiety that all this is too good to be true and can't last or is that just a typcial City thing?

If things don't start getting worse very soon, I may have to knock this blog on the head and get a life :-)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Don't Blame Corluka - He Was Right !

Comments made to the press by City's Croatian defender, Vedran Corluka after his team humiliated England at Wembley this week have raised a few eyebrows and there's been speculation about the reception he'll get at Saturday's game against Reading.

However, when you think about it, you realise that he was absolutely right. Corluka is reported to have said: "England got just what they deserved because they were unbelievably arrogant !". They were unbelievably shite as well, but I guess he couldn't say that, be we all know they were.

Vedran, you are spot on mate. England have overall, been an embarrassing shambles during the Euro2008 qualification phase and the team got what they deserved .... absolutely nothing!

The fans, however didn't deserve such a gutless, defeatist performance and have every right to be incensed by the players, the (ex) manager and those useless buffoons in FA Hq who haven't even got the decency to step aside and give people who really understand the game and care about it, the chance to put their sorry house in order. No guesses who will emerge blameless from their "investigation" !

In the end, Croatia have probably done us a big favour by signaling the death knell of the current FA regime; this is probably one failure too far, even for them! However, when you then hear that the FA are heading up the investigation into themselves, you just have to wonder whether they've learnt anything at all from a catalogue of failures with previous appointments and a history of failure in major tournaments.

Craig Johnston on Sky Sports News this morning, an Aussie for Christ's sake, showed more passion and emotion about the state of the English game than the mandarins in the FA. Why doesn't the FA use the experience and passion of people like this? The answer is that the truth hurts and they just seem quite content to paper over the cracks and deflect any criticism and responsibility away from themselves and onto others.

Good on Corluka for telling it how it is - he deserves praise rather than stick !

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Two Extremes Of Sven's Problem

There's no doubt that the Sven effect has transformed City into a confident and professional outfit this season.

The football is unrecognisable from the dire spectacle City fans had the misfortune to watch in the last 3 or 4 seasons and thank goodness for that. City are riding high in 3rd place and playing some stuff, although I have to say the awful performance against Sunderland on Monday night took me right back to the darkest Pearce and KK days - I suspect that was just a blip on an otherwise wonderful season so far.

As I've said, the performances are a vast improvement, but they can and must still get better and more consistent if we're serious about challenging for Europe.

Sven's forays into the transfer market have been very successful on the whole, but there are two areas that still need to be sorted out, namely the 'keepers jersey and the forward line. The top and the bottom of the team, if you like, have been problematic since Sven took over and even now, they look far from being resolved. The bit in the middle, i.e the back four and the midfield are solid enough, but don't be surprised to see some additional strengthening in January.

Now that Kaspar is away on loan, it's a straight fight between Hart and Isaksson with Hart just edging it at the moment for the green jersey. Joe has done very well for a young lad, but he does obviously lack experience which has shown a few times this season. He will develop into a top, probably future England 'keeper, but it's a big ask for him to play at this level every week at his age.

As for Isaksson, despite him being here for 18 months, we still haven't seen enough of him to make up our minds. It's obviously an uneasy relationship between him and the club as neither Pearce or Eriksson have shown total faith in him - why, I really don't know.

Up front, we are clearly lacking a 20 goal per season striker. Bianchi may be that person, but like Isaksson, we just don't know. Mpenza has toiled hard on his own up front, but he's clearly not cut out to be a lone striker, something that showed against Sunderland, when he didn't win a ball all night. Enough's already been said about Samaras and the best think for him and City would be an early exit elsewhere to rebuild his career. Of the three, I'd probably only keep Bianchi and persevere with him.

Where does that leave us then? Well, with money to spend we need a top international 'keeper and two proven strikers at this level. With the transfer window looming Sven will be linked with every player under the sun and if true to form will buy none of them and pull off a surprise or two when he does eventually dip into the market.

Let's hope he and the backroom team have been hitting YouTube a lot over the last few weeks and have spotted some more talent ;-)

Good luck to the team and the travelling support today - Fratton Park is an awful place to go to at the best of times; I think I'd settle for a draw if I could.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Ireland Strike Illuminates An Otherwise Dull Evening

Just got back in time from the game tonight to post a quick report, but I don't think I'll be stopping up to watch any highlights on TV which could probably be shown in full during a commercial break.

After the hammering we got from Chelsea, it was important that City responded with a big performance and a win. We got the latter, but the it certainly wasn't the classic that many City fans are coming to expect these days.

A lot of players were clearly struggling tonight with only Dunne, Corluka, Garrido and Hamann having anywhere near a decent game. Even match winner Stephen Ireland drifted in and out of the game, but it was a great, almost Elano like finish that illuminated a dull spectacle on a cold November night. For me, Corluka was man of the match and he looks to be getting better and better with each game.

Petrov and even Elano looked out of sorts, but we can forgive them an off night now and again. Johnson looked jaded and we forget that he's still just a young lad being asked to do a man's job, which for the most part he's done admirably, but it was no surprise that Sven replaced him a the break, as he was clearly struggling with some kind of problem.

I was expecting to see Geovanni, but Vassell came on instead and did a pretty good job despite his lack of match fitness and battled well to set up the goal for Ireland.

Nice also to see Bianchi come on for over half an hour and despite giving the ball away sloppily with his first touch, he looked more of a threat than Mpenza in that lone striker role.

Sun Jihai probably gave Sven all the necessary ammunition to go back to Thaksin to strengthen the squad in the January window. Despite his effort and enthusiasm, Sun looks increasingly lacking in Premiership quality alongside his new team mates.

Couple of things that puzzled me this evening:

  • Why so many back passes to Hart from the halfway line?
  • Why did Sven switch Petrov onto the right in the 2nd half when he is such a left sided player. It just didn't work or make sense.
Apart from Ireland's classy winner the highlight of the evening was the "warm" reception given to Roy Keane when he strayed into the technical area. It wasn't just because of his obvious United connections, but many in the crowd this evening would have vividly remembered the way he pretty much ended Alf-Inge Haaland's career with a typically cynical and brutal challenge in April 2001.

On a more positive note, Sunderland brought some decent away support with them and showed enough to suggest that they may just survive the drop this season.

No such worries for City this season as talk continues about European qualification.... any why not? We're just 2 points away from the top of the table and hopefully over the shock of the 6 - 0 result at the Bridge. Pompey away on Sunday will be a sterner test than the Mackems were tonight, but this is just the sort of game City have to get something from to be serious contenders for honours.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


I can't believe that the "Sven Out" campaign has started - what are some people like ?

It can't be real City fans on the phone-ins this evening- they must have been Reds taking the p*ss. Thankfully there were only a few.

Can't deny it though, we were well and truly hammered today at the Bridge. I wasn't there to witness it in the flesh, but listening to the Radio commentary and the post match reaction on GMR, it sounds like Chelsea were simply irresistible this afternoon and City just had one of those days; Chelsea would probably have demolished whoever had been put in front of them.

It was on the cards that Chelsea were sooner or later going to thump someone under the new Avram Grant regime and it with City's normal luck, it was bound to be us on the end of it.... and it was !

When ever this sort of humiliation happens to your team (nobody enjoys losing 6 - 0), you have no option but to look for some positives, which this evening is made even harder by the fact that United beat 'Boro and are now (hopefully only until tomorrow) on top of the table.

In a way, it's good this happened now, i.e before the January transfer window and this temporary blip in City's magnificent season so far has for me confirmed the following:

1) Samaras has probably had his last chance - pity for him though that he didn't have an easier game to try to resurrect his City career, but I guess that's just tough, but he's blown all his previous chances too.

2) We do need a world class striker. Having spent £9m on Bianchi, Sven ought to do him the courtesy of playing him now and again. He may well be this missing top striker people are talking about, but nobody really knows. Can't understand how Samaras got the nod today whilst Bianchi sat on the bench.

3) We need a top 'keeper. Hart has got enormous potential, but he's still a young kid and we need a bit more experience between the sticks. Maybe Isaksson can establish himself with a decent run, but Sven hasn't shown much confidence in him so far.

4) Ireland needs a long rest to get his life back together.

Now that we've had this rather predictable setback, it will be a good test for Sven and the players. Our next games are against Bolton and Sunderland. The outcome of these two matches will show just how far City have come in the Shinawatra / Eriksson era.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Game I want the Blues To Lose

No, of course I'm not talking about City, but as there's no Premiership football this weekend and the English national team is such a bore I, like millions of football fans will be glued to the Rugby World Cup tonight hoping for an inspirational England win over the old enemy, "Les Bleus".

"Le Crunch", as it's been hyped up in the French press is last barrier between England and an unprecedented appearance in back-to-back world cup finals. Who knows what might happen if we reach the final?

I don't know what it is about beating the French at any sport, but it's almost as satisfying as beating the Rags and the Scousers.

Look out for former England World Cup winner and massive City fan, Will Greenwood, who is normally wheeled out as a TV pundit on these occasions. We could have done with him in the team this evening, but I'm sure all the guys will give 110% against the garlic... sorry I mean Gallic foe.

Come on England !

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Please Not Lehmann !

A load of speculation today that Sven will be in for aging Arsenal 'keeper Jens Lehmann (now 37) to bring in a bit more experience and increase competition for the No1 jersey.

I really hope this is just a case of wild speculation, as I for one would not like to see him at Eastlands.

I think Sven needs to be very careful with his next wave of signings as so far he's been very fortunate to have assembled a group of players that (a) seem to gel very well together and (b) have a good relationship with the crowd. This has been a significant contributory factor to City's best ever start for over 30 years.

I don't think Lehmann fits either of the above criteria and over the past few season's he has by far been the 'keeper who has irritated and angered the City fans the most with his "gamesmanship" and unsavoury antics, particularly at corners and set pieces around his area - you all know what I mean.

I would think it unlikely that many City fans would welcome his arrival and warm to the man. I can't see that it would do wonders for team spirit in the changing room either.

The 'keepers position at the moment does need to be resolved, but I hope not like this. Both Schmeichel and Hart have done ok so far, but they are still young kids and far from the finished article, but both have enormous potential.

I also increasingly get the feeling that Isaksson seems to be developing into a square peg in a round hole at City, as since his arrival under Pearce, he's had a string of unfortunate injuries and when he has been fit, I've never really felt that the management have shown total confidence in him. We'll just have to wait and see on that one, but what the guy needs for sure is a decent run of games and to stay healthy.

Personally, I'd stick with what we've got for now and have another look at things at the end of the season.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Former Blue Gets The Axe

Millwall have just parted company with former City defender Willie Donachie, where he had been in charge for just over a year.

Willie spent eleven seasons at Maine Road between 1970 and 1980 making a total of 436 appearances for City. He was also a regular for Scotland and will hate me for mentioning that infamous own goal from a suicidal back pass in the 1978 Home International against Wales in the final few minutes of the game that leveled the scores; unfortunately something for which Willie will always be remembered.

Willie had quite an impressive record as an assistant manager with stints at Oldham, Everton, Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich and Millwall, but it could be a case that he turns out to be one of those great assistants that never quite makes it as the boss - a bit like Brian Kidd and Steve Wigley.

With the recent and sudden departure of Hans Backe there is a gap in City's current backroom staff and maybe there's a role for Willie to play?

We wish him all the best.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Good Time To Give City Young Guns a Chance

With City continuing to fly high and playing some really entertaining stuff, now would be a good time to give one or two young lads from the academy and reserves some first team experience.

The papers are full of rumours about who Sven is going to buy in the January transfer window, but he does have other options from within the club and now is a good time to have a proper look at them.

For the past few seasons out of necessity, City's youngsters have had a baptism of fire and been chucked in at the deep end when both Keegan and Pearce had no other option but to raid the Academy to bolster a paper-thin first team squad. The likes of BWP, Jordan, Flood, Croft, Miller, Ireland, Onuoha, Richards and most recently Schmeichel, Hart and Michael Johnson spring instantly to mind. Some of these lads have taken to the first team like ducks to water, whilst others have not quite been up to the task and have since moved on.

With Sven having instilled a new found confidence within the Club, what better time to gently introduce some more fresh talent and increase the competition for places. Whilst our defence and midfield look generally very solid, up front, we still don't look that convincing, and I'm still not entirely sure about Samaras, although to be fair to the lad, he's not had much of an opportunity so far.

In the absence of the much vaunted Daniel Sturridge who is thankfully on his way back from injury, some of you may have noticed that Ched Evans is getting rave reviews in the reserves and looks to be a fine young prospect; perhaps now would be a good time to give him a first team run out? Similarly, Kelvin Etuhu, who has been around a bit longer is maturing into a decent striker and has already had a brief taste of the first team and did ok in a poor side and maybe deserves another crack at it.

Sven recently backed off buying a new, experienced 'keeper once he saw how Schmeichel and Hart performed. Perhaps the same thing might happen if our young strikers are given a chance. Lest we forget, it was the academy who saved City from relegation in the three of seasons and despite City's new found wealth, we still need to bring our top youngsters through. Obviously if we get a chance to sign a Torres, Drogba or Villa we'd be mad not to, but just in case we can't, we need a plan B.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Champions League Update

No, sadly not a report about City blazing a trail in Europe - that'll be next for next season...yer right :-)

I don't often write much about other teams, but I was lucky to be at Parkhead tonight in the torrential rain for the Celtic v AC Milan game, and I've got to say what an unbelievable atmosphere - the stadium was rocking and I can understand why their fans call it "Paradise".

Apart from the referee, who was just shockingly awful and did his best to help Milan whenever he could, the only downer was the queues to get into the stadium and we missed the first 15 minutes whilst getting drenched in rain of Mancunian proportions.

Anyway, that aside, what a great night and what absolutely top supporters Celtic have got.... they did their Bhoys proud tonight.

I only hope that idiot at the end doesn't end up spoiling what was a famous European victory.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ireland Coming Through His Difficult Times

This article may be a bit belated given the well documented events of Stephen Ireland's sudden and somewhat bizarre exit from Eire's national team squad a couple of weeks ago, but lest we all forget, he deserves some praise and respect for playing through what is obviously a difficult time.

Those people who have experienced such a personal trauma will understand the affect it has on the individuals concerned and close family.

That Stephen has been able to carry on playing and been able to maintain anything approaching his best form is not only a testament to him personally but also to the Club and management team for supporting him and showing trust in his ability and professionalism. He had a decent game yesterday against Newcastle and was unlucky not to have scored had it not been for a trademark point-blank save from Shay Given.

Stephen has taken a fair bit of flak in some of the papers and fan sites over this episode, but if those individuals concerned had been through what Stephen and his partner have been through they probably wouldn't have been quite so critical.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Time To Take City Seriously

City have often been the butt of many jibes about being a club that cannot be taken seriously. Some of the criticism has been deserved, but last week's battling performance against Fulham and today's 3 - 1 win over a decent, but Owen-less Newcastle has sent out a message that we are a much tougher proposition than in previous seasons.

Even the reddest of the many anti-City hacks must now (grudgingly) accept that Sven's influence has transformed City's fortunes and the club is unrecognizable from the lumbering, mis-firing team of the last few seasons.

For the second week running, City went a goal behind, but instead of crumbling like they would have previously, the teams' newly found confidence and self-belief meant they were soon on level terms with a quality finish by Petrov from a tight angle.

Although Newcastle had their moments in the first half, City were the dominant side after the break and with Mpenza wrong-footing Given with a clever header from Petrov's cross almost immediately from the restart, there was only ever going to be one outcome to this match.

City contained Newcastle without too much difficulty for the remainder of the match which was rounded off with a sensational free kick by Elano from 25 yards which flew past Given into the top of the net before he could move such was it's power and accuracy. Sky TV measured it at 76mph.... not quite as fast though as Didi Hamann as recently clocked by the Cheshire police ;-)

This was probably City's best performance of the season so far and was especially memorable for the performances of Martin Petrov and Elano who were both just outstanding. Petrov for his trickery, strength and pace down the wing and Elano for his silky skills and reading of the game. Sven took some stick for spending "big" money on these guys, but they look now to be very shrewd investments with many clubs sizing them up with envious eyes - expect some big-money bids in January, but luckily for us, we don't need the money.

Just a couple of thoughts to finish with:

1. Seeing Joey Barton sitting uncomfortably behind the Newcastle bench, probably thinking " what the hell have I done ?" .... ditto for Distin

2. Wondering what life would be like if Big Sam had been appointed City manager instead of Sven and being very grateful that the right choice was made

Sunday, August 19, 2007

City v United Match Photos

A few memories of a magical afternoon

Whilst storm clouds gather in the red skies, the Blue Moon is rising !

Click photos for larger versions

Images Copyright No reproduction without permission

United Set To Sign Thai Striker

His name .... Win Wun Sune :-)

(as heard on GMR after the game)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

City's Card Has Been Marked

Six points from a possible six, four points ahead of United, Ronaldo and Rooney out of the Manchester derby and a home goal to remember - I don't think many of us expected such a fantastic start to the season.

After the stunning performance at Upton Park, it was always going to be difficult to match that in the next game and the first home Premiership game of the season wasn't a classic performance by any means, but there were again glimpses of wonderfully flowing one-touch football against a well organised Derby team who on last night's evidence may not be the push-overs everyone is predicting.

It was great to see one of the local youngsters grab the headlines and Michael Johnson's goal was just stunning. If Elano or Geovanni had scored that, I'm sure a lot of the headlines would have been about superior Brazilian skills so let's not short change the lad, his goal was pure quality and proof there is local talent; you just need to look for it and develop it properly.

Despite the great start though, I do have a slight concern about the number of yellow cards we've received in just two games. Bookings to Garrido, Ireland, Elano, Geovanni against West Ham and Petrov, Hamann, Johnson last night, bring the total to seven.

Both the games City have played have been good sporting games played in good spirit, but yet seven cards have been dished out to City for the most innocuous of challenges, whilst only one card has been shown to City's opponents in those games. None of the two games have been dirty, physical matches, yet seven cards have been shown - something is not right somewhere!

It seems to me that so far City have been very harshly treated by the officials, especially last night when the Derby players got away with a lot of cautionable offences, whilst the referee (who by the way bore an uncanny resemblance to CJ from the classic Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin series), couldn't get his card out quick enough for the slightest transgression by the City players.

There were also some highly dubious free kicks awarded to Derby right on the edge of the City penalty area and at times it was if the referee was doing his best to help Derby score, hence the ironic cheers when City managed to get a rare decision in our favour

There was one incident last night when a Derby defender nearly ripped the shirt right off one of our players and it went un-punished. His shirt was literally up around his neck right in front of the ref, but for some reason he didn't see that as worthy of a yellow card. If it had been a City player he would have been booked without hesitation.

I'm just wondering if this is now a pattern that City will have to put up with throughout the season. Is it because Sven's the boss, is it due to the Shinawatra takeover and all the high profile coverage? I really don't know, but what's for sure is that our players have been singled out for harsh treatment whilst our opponents have been treated more leniently.

I'm sorry to say that in his first Premiership game, last night's referee was poor and extremely inconsistent. This will cost us later in the season when the suspensions begin to kick in.

Anyway, on a more positive note, it's the Rags on Sunday and whatever the result, we'll still be above them in the table. Surely the prospect of opening up the gap to seven points is more than enough motivation (even for the new foreign signings) to turn on the style and beat the old enemy - can't wait !

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Word For The Mirror

Two words in fact ......

Up Your's !!!

West Ham 0 - 2 MCFC .... just in case it has escaped your attention

Just What Is The Point Of This ??

I don't know why the Mirror seem to have such a downer on City, but this latest "article" has descended to new depths of journalistic lows. Click Here

Over the summer, the Mirror in particular has published a series of poison-pen articles about our club, and I don't really understand why City are being singled out for this sort of treatment.

How come the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea, Portsmouth, Spurs and many other Premiership clubs haven't received similar treatment from the Mirror.

After all this rubbish, I would never buy the Mirror and hope other City fans will steer clear too.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Hammers To Test Sven's Mettle

I can't believe it's already the start of the new season tomorrow - where did the Summer go to?

City start their campaign with an awkward looking away trip to West Ham where a pack of vulture-like press will hovering, just waiting to get their claws into Sven in the event of the slightest slip-up.

Make no mistake, the hatchet-happy hacks that write for the national press just can't wait for their first chance to stick the knife into Sven and the new look City, but hopefully they won't be given that opportunity tomorrow.

Like City, the Hammers have spent big over the summer with a lot of personnel changes, but with Curbishly at the helm, they will surely be a much tougher prospect than last season.

London always seems to be a bit of a graveyard for City, so to start the season with an away trip to the Capital is a little cruel. I suspect that over the course of the season the Upton Park will turn out to be a bit of a home fortress with very few away teams coming away with all three points.

City are a bit exposed at the back with unfortunate injuries to Isaksson and Hart, so young Kasper Schmeichel is on standby to play in goal, although it is thought that Hart may recover in time.

I'd happily settle for a draw tomorrow - preferably not a 0-0; a goal or two would be nice for the City away fans who will be braving the long trip down to the East End.

If the worst does happen and City come away with nothing then I hope we don't see the start of the "Sven Out" campaign by some disgruntled City fans. We need to be realistic here, it's going to take time for Sven to forge a team out of the individual players he's brought to the club over the summer; that's not going to happen overnight, but please can it happen before the 19th when we play Rags in the home Derby!

City (from): Hart, Schmeichel, Onuoha, Sun, Richards, Dunne, Corluka, Garrido, Ball, Hamann, Geovanni, Fernandes, Elano, Ireland, Johnson, Petrov, Bianchi, Vassell, Samaras, Bojinov, Corradi.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Thomas Cook Tournament Images

Just thought I'd post a few snaps of yesterday's event.

Not the best of games to watch, but friendlies never are. However, I thought there were some good signs that City will be more of a force this season; in particular, Petrov looks a real class act.


Saturday, August 04, 2007

City v Valencia: Caption This Photo ?


I took this photo at today's Thomas Cook Trophy game.

It didn't quite come out as I'd anticipated !

Looks like Sven's influence is showing already :-)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sven's "Buy British" Strategy Going Well

News this evening that City have made their 3rd summer signing.

Once again, not a name that City had been previously linked with, but instead have swooped for 27-year old Brazilian forward, Geovanni on a free transfer and he joins on just a 1 year deal.

The former Benfica and Barcelona striker is perhaps best known for scoring one of the goals that knocked United out of the Champions League a couple of season's ago - excellent credentials for a City signing.

Having already signed Italian
Rolando Bianchi and Swiss Gelson Fernandes, Sven's plan for buying British players seems to progressing nicely.

Expect fellow Brits, Ibrahimovic, Martin Petrov, Lucho Gonzalez, Roque Santa Cruz, John Arne Riise, Ludovic Guily, Thiago Motta and Yakubu to follow to follow suite and sign for City shortly ;-)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Another Chance for Corradi ?

After the end of last season, Bernado Corradi was probably near the top of most peoples' lists of players for a quick City exit, although some of you may remember that back in March I did this article about the big Italian striker when he was copping a lot of flak.

Sometimes, bringing a new manager in can re-vitalise a flagging player's career and I wonder if this may be the case for Corradi?

Having seen the action from this afternoon's 1 - 3 win over Doncaster, Corradi scored an absolute stunner. If only he'd done that a few times during the course of last season, the talk would have probably been about a contract extension rather than a quick exit.

I noticed that Sven singled Bernado out for praise in the post match interview which suggests to me that it's not a forgone conclusion that he will leave. Having said that, I'm sure if City get an offer that recoups the bulk of the £2m we paid for him, then he would probably go.

I'm probably going to suffer the wrath of many Blues when I say that Corradi should be given a chance with Sven at the helm. For sure, he's never going to be an Anelka, Henri or Torres, but with the right formation and some decent service from the wings, there's always room in any squad for a big, fearless "traditional" centre forward, which is exactly what Corradi is.

I think it was a bit unfair on Corradi that it seemed to be very fashionable and easy thing to rubbish him mercilessly last season. A few negative reports seemed to start a bandwagon, but despite his shortcomings on the pitch, he gave 100% and looked up for it in the wave of a lot of stick, much of it undeserved.

Maybe Sven will have the midas touch on both Corradi & Samaras. We've yet to see anywhere near the best of them. Last season they were hamstrung by poor tactics and played out of position by Psycho. The arrival of Bianchi along with Mpenza should really heat up the competition for the strikers roles. It'll be interesting to see who will rise to the challenge.

Before passing judgement, have you seen his girlfriend? Forget Nancy, a quick google on Elena Santarelli will explain all, including the games where he did seem to run out of steam, and who can blame him ;-)

There..... I've ignited the blue touchpaper..... now waiting for the fireworks.

City Line Up For Doncaster

The City team for the friendly at Doncaster has just been announced:












Subs: Johnson, Dickov, D Mills, Hamann, Hart, M Mills, Corradi

Sven seems to have been true to his word about putting out a strong line-up rather than sending a load of Academy players.

The side does seem to have a very familiar look about it though, with new signings Bianchi and Fernandes joining up with the squad for the pre-season Sweden tour.

After the last season, how many of us thought we'd see the likes of Dickov, Dabo, Hamann, Mills & Corradi in a City shirt again?

Let's hope we do better than last time we played Docncaster.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Why Take The Risk With Ljundberg?

Reports today that Sven is on the brink of signing Freddie Ljundberg for £6m is not good news in my opinion.

Ljundberg in his prime was a fantastic player, but now at 30 is not good value for that sort of money plus the high wages he'll almost certainly command.

Add to that the fact that for the past two seasons, he's been dogged by injuries and it doesn't look a particularly smart buy. If it happens, as it now seems it will, it is likely to end up in the same way as Reyna, Cole, Hamann, Fowler, McManaman etc with them spending more time with the physio than on the pitch.

We need to sign younger, fit and hungry players and avoid 30-somethings whose careers are declining, something City have made a speciality of over the years and it's never worked.

Sven should listen to Micah and sign Defoe instead - that would be a much better investment !

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Not Impressed By Transfer Targets

Now that the euphoria of Sven's appointment has subsided a bit, the attention is switching to the new signings.

I know that a much of the transfer speculation is generated by groundless media gossip and hype from desperate player agents, but I have to say that I'm a bit worried about a lot of the players we've been linked with so far.

Firstly, and I hope Sven and his team are reading this, please don't sign any United rejects - stories about the imminent signings of Richardson, Alan Smith, Veron, Beckham and Christ help us, even Phil Neville certainly sent my alarm bells ringing.

Sven's first priority has got to be on survival and make sure we don't end up in a relegation scrap again. Therefore, he has got to be very smart with his signings and minimise risks where possible.

What we need first and foremost is a core of quality players with a proven track record in the Premiership. What we don't want is to gamble everything on a load of big money continental unknowns that may or may not work out. City's recent history is littered with failed foreign signings and we can't afford to make that mistake again.

I've read with some concern the likes of Christian Wilhelmsson, Roque Santa Cruz, Steven Pienaar, Rolando Bianchi & Johan Elmander - one of these unknowns maybe, but not all of them! Hopefully, most of these names are just "spoilers" whilst City turn their real attentions elsewhere. I read with amusement that Bernard Mendy has been linked yet again - that's the 4th consecutive year I've seen that one !

Close to home, names including Dudek, Harewood, Ljundberg & Paul Konchesky seem to be cropping up a lot, but these are not the sort of signings many Blues will be expecting - we can do a lot better. Besides, we don't really need another 'keeper, we're already well covered with Hart, Schmeichel and Mentel.

Yakubu though seems a much better bet, although the reported £12m is taking things to the point of being ripped off, and that is something that Sven will have to weigh up carefully; £50m wont go far at that rate.

Hopefully, it's going to be a busy few weeks for City and if you guys have any decent suggestions, stick them on this post - you never know, Sven must just be "googling" for inspiration.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Isn't It Just Typical ........ ?

...... that on one of the most momentous days in City's recent history, the Rags have managed to steal our limelight with the signing of Tevez on a dodgy two-year loan, which for some reason seems to be the top sports story on Sky Sports News.

Just a coincidence - I think not

I'm saving my article on the new manager's appointment for another day, except to say welcome aboard Sven - there's a lot of expectation, but there's a lot of support for you too - don't let us down now !

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Weaver Exit Signals New Era

I've got mixed feelings about Nicky Weaver leaving City.

Although he's not yet 30, he seems to have been at the club for an age and somewhat of a permanent fixture during a decade of constant change.

To be fair though, Weaver was lucky to play as many games as he did last season and had it not been for an unfortunate injury to Isaksson, he would have had another frustrating season on the bench. Although during the season he showed what a good shot stopper he is, his command of the area, particularly with crosses still left a lot of cause for concern.

With Weaver, young Kaspar and emerging talent Joe Hart all now fighting for that No 2 spot, something had to give and unfortunately for Nicky, it was him.

Whether Sven wanted to quickly cut all linkages with the City of old as a bold statement of intent is unknown, but nevertheless Weaver's exit heralds a new era for City and is just the start of wholesale changes to the club and playing staff, something that is long overdue.

I'd like to wish Nicky all the best and thank him for all the memories, especially the infamous penalty shoot-out at Wembley.

I think we also need to pay tribute to his resilience and fighting spirit having come back from a series of injuries and setbacks which would have seen many other players throw in the towel and give up on their football careers.

Good luck at the Valley Nicky - you deserved a testimonial at the least.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Isn't It Amusing ? ........

............ that the City Website has just published a load of photos from today's 1st pre-season training session without a single reference to Sven being there for the 1st time (even if it is on an unofficial basis) ?

Shots of Sven and John Wardle watching the players being put through their paces have been splashed all over the Internet and shown on Sky Sports News, but strangely not a single reference on the City site.

It's not as if this is all hush-hush and that admission that Sven was at Carrington is somehow a big, dark secret - the whole bloody world knows about it, although if you were an alien visiting earth and only looked at the City website (highly unlikely that it would happen I know), you'd think it was just business as usual.....bizarre !

For those who haven't seen any of the photos check out the excellent Purelymancity website. There a link there and a very interesting article about Sven's approach to football psychology; it'll be interesting to see how that works on the City squad.

Anyways, let's hope that the takeover saga ends tomorrow with an announcement of Frank having secured the 75% of shares..... I can't take it much longer !!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

City To Take Hit On Striker ?

Mounting speculation that City are considering cutting their losses on mis-firing striker Georgious Samaras and are prepared to let him go in the summer sales for around £2m.

Big Sam has certainly not enjoyed the best of times at Eastlands since he arrived from Heerenveen about 18 months ago with just 8 goals in 50 premiership appearances.

I've been critical of Samaras in the past, but I think it would be a mistake to let him go for relative peanuts; even if we get Shinawatra's money, City cannot really afford to take such a big hit on a player that we paid £6m for and who still at just 22, has much unfulfilled potential

In Samaras' defence, Psycho played him way out of position for the most part; most people could see he was not a left winger, except for the previous manager it seems. Playing him in unfamiliar roles dented his confidence badly and he went quickly into a downward spiral.

I would say that with the new manager coming in, it would be worth keeping Samaras for a while longer, as he can hardly play much worse than he did last season and perhaps Sven will be able to rejuvenate his career.

If Samaras doesn't rise to the new challenge, then by all means show him the door in the January window. Alternatively, perhaps loaning him out to a club that's going to give him regular football could be an option.

In any event, until City appoint the new manager and signings have been made, the situation is pretty academic; he won't go unless replacements have been signed up.

Still No News .... Again !!

I cannot remember a more frustrating period than the last couple of months and for City fans it has been a real torturous time not knowing what's happening with the Club with constant rumour and speculation, but little action.

Another week has passed without a resolution to the ownership of the club and the new manager and as each day now passes,the patience of the beleaguered City fans will be stretched to the limit.

The announcement last week that Shinawatra had at last made a formal bid seemed to settle a few nerves and silenced a few doubters that the buyout would ever happen. Since then however, we have once again entered a period of inertia as Frank imperceptibly inches his way towards acquiring the magical 75% of club shares that will see him able to de-list from the stock market and allow Eriksson to take over as coach.

What seems a simple and routine share acquisition has not been helped by many small shareholders not receiving their offer letters and therefore not being able to sell up, even though they desperately want to. The activity on the PLUS market has been agonisingly slow with Frank stuck around the 70% mark and little signs of trading activity that suggests he'll hit the 75% sometime soon.

Just to add up the ante a little, there are reports this morning that Sven is hedging his bets by talking to little known Spanish outfit Recreativo Huelva about the managers job, should the takeover at City go tits-up.

Given all the uncertainty about Shinawatra and his sources of funds, I guess you can't really blame SGE for having a Plan B, but the news is not really what City fans need to hear at the moment and adds to the already saturated levels of anxiety and frustration.

I'm expecting a few more late twists in the tale before this whole thing is resolved one way or another, but all we can ask is that it sorts itself out quickly now. The latest from Frank's camp is it'll still be another 48hrs, but we've had a lot of 48hr windows over the last few months; time just seems to be elastic at the moment.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Torres Snub Highlights Problem For Sven

So we've tried to hijack the Fernando Torres transfer to Liverpool with an audacious £27m bid for the the Athletical Madrid hot-shot? Perhaps I'll wake up and find this has all been a dream.

Seeing £27m bid and City in the same sentence somehow looks uncomfortable and just not right given the lower reaches of the transfer market we're used to operating in.

I'm not sure how serious this alleged "bid" actually was though. It looks more like a PR stunt aimed at raising City's profile in the European transfer market in order to make a bold announcement that we're up amongst the big boys now.

On a more serious note now, the fact that Torres dismissed City's advances instantly without even bothering to talk to us is a timely reminder of the problems Sven may yet face trying to attract "galacticos" to Eastlands.

Sure it sounds like he'll have some financial muscle behind him. However, if and when he takes over the hot-seat, having money is one thing, the Club having enough credibility to convince top european players to come to City is probably something that's not going to happen overnight with players and agents too adopting a watching brief to see who signs first, before they are prepared to commit.

Reports this morning that Yakubu is now a target is probably much more realistic. A fee in the region of £9m is being talked about which seems better value than £27m gamble for someone with no Premiership experience and who could well flop as spectacularly as Morientes did. No point blowing over half the transfer war chest on one player.

Nothing much is going to happen until Shinawatra has acquired the magical 75% of club shares, which could take up to another week. Until then, expect us to be linked to every man and his dog.

Heady days for City fans at the moment, long may it continue !

Friday, June 29, 2007

Confusion Over Selling City Shares

I just thought I'd do a quick follow-up on my post earlier this morning as there seems to be a bit of confusion about the process for selling shares, given some of the comments that were left.

I've just spoken to City's communications team to try to get to the bottom of it. They confirmed that offer letters were sent to shareholders earlier this week, however it sounds like some people have not received them.

Now, this could be due to a number of reasons including:

* The usual slowness of the Royal Mail

* The impact of the postal strike

* Shareholders who have purchased shares and then moved house without notifying their change of address

I've suggested to the City communications team that they ought to put out some easy to read information and contact details so that shareholders that for whatever reason have not yet been contacted are able to sell their shares quickly.

The club did put out this takeover update last week, but I almost lost the will to live after the about the first page; a great document if you're a lawyer, but not so good for an average fan.

So, keep checking the MCFC website or contact the club for advice

Sven's Shrinking Transfer Window

After a few weeks of relative inactivity, the transfer window seems to be getting into gear at last with news this morning that Darren Bent has signed for Spurs for what to me seems like an over-priced £16.5m.

Back home at Eastlands, we're still caught up in this frustratingly slow take-over that has put a halt to any signings until it has been concluded. Please, if any shareholders are reading this article, sell your shares today !

What I can't quite get my head round is why Frank's current 70% holding is not enough for Sven to sign on the dotted line and why everything is on hold until another 5% of shares are acquired? I'm sure somebody will explain it strikes me as just a bit of a technicality rather than a showstopper.

Anyways, what this means is that City run the risk of missing out on a crop of decent, available players which must be a worry for Sven if he sees most of his targets snapped up by other clubs who are able to open the cheque book and move quickly.

The additional Sky money will certainly distort the transfer market even more this year, but nevertheless there are still potential bargains to be had if deals can be sorted quickly.

For example, Villa's highly rated young midfielder Steven Davis is available for around £4m, Phil Jagielka is apparently on the verge of joining Everton for around the same fee, Reo-Coker is hovering around the £7-8m mark and David Nugent has still not been snapped up by anyone yet. Kevin Nolan also looks like he could be leaving Bolton and a short move down the road to Eastlands could surely be on the cards.

Bent's arrival at White Hart Lane is likely to signal the departure of Jermaine Defoe who would be a great acquisition for City for the right price.

Another Spurs striker continues to be linked to us, but now that City apparently have a large transfer kitty to give to Sven, hopefully we will not be buying Mido and all the baggage that comes with him - we've had enough of that with Barton.

Whilst on the subject of strikers we don't want to see at City, please not Marlon Harewood - he's just not good enough and his arrival would seriously shorten any honeymoon period Sven is likely to enjoy as City boss. Similarly, no Michael Owen - too expensive, too prone to injury and too high risk; you'd be lucky to get 10-15 games out of him per season - let the Rags have him !

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

SWP Return To City Unlikely

There's been a load of speculation about SWP coming back to City pretty much ever since he left for Chelsea. Loan deals never materialised, but now with Frank and Sven almost at the helm City would be able to meet the £10-12m transfer tag that would see Chelsea offload him.

Much as I'd like to see him return, he's never given the impression that this would be an acceptable option for him and has been determined to cling on at Chelsea, almost to prove to himself that leaving City wasn't a big mistake. We know it was, he knows it, but for obvious reasons he cannot admit it publicly.

Listening to his Dad on Talksport last night, he pretty much ruled out a return to Eastlands which is a big shame. Shaun was a big favourite up here and illuminated many a dull winters afternoon with scintillating pace and exquisite skills. Most City fans, like me would love to see him back.

His Dad is a big influence on Shaun, and if he says he's not coming back, that's probably the end of it. I guess at the end of the day, money talks, but if his other options turn out to the likes of West Ham and Villa, he and his Dad might just need to have a re-think. Even so, reading between the lines, at the moment, I wouldn't put the probability of SWP coming home at more than 25%.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Blues Should Heed Mrs Beeton's Advice

With all the heady talk of billionaire takeovers, Sven Goran Eriksson as manager, the return of the prodigal SWP, it is at times difficult to remember that it's Manchester City we're talking about, such has been the club's low expectations over the last few years.

Over the last few weeks the media has been in a frenzy and awash with speculation of who City will appoint as manager and the galacticos that would be signed, seemingly attracted by the much vaunted new investment and big club ambitions.

Personally, I'm still not sure about Frank Shinawatra, but I'll be more than happy to eat humble pie if I'm wrong. However, I was at the club shop over the weekend, and there does seem to be more of a buzz about the place which is always great to see.

Now City fans are well accustomed to disappointment and heartbreak - it's in the blood, but I think before we all get carried away on a wave of media hysteria, it would be as well to remember the legendary advice from Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management for cooking Hare Soup written in Victorian times, but still highly relevant today; " First catch your hare ! "

It seems to me that there will be quite a few more stings in the tail before the takeover resolves itself one way or another. Frank's advisers themselves are saying that it could take another three weeks to complete the buy out, and that's without any more revelations from the Thai government about freezing more funds, arrest and extradition.

Similarly, without the new manager in place, it's difficult to see players like Benayoun, SWP, Nolan etc,,etc signing on the dotted line. Apart from the overall uncertainty, there's still the issue of where the transfer funds will come from until Frank has taken the club over. We could, as usual, be waiting near to the transfer deadline before being able to sign players - always a bit risky.

Furthermore, questions were raised by UK MPs yesterday about the worrying trend of foreign billionaires buying into the Premier League as a bit of a fashion accessory. Add to that the FA still needing to confirm Frank as a "fit and proper" person to run the club and you can see that despite all the new found optimism, some of the foundations are still looking a bit shaky.

Some of the concerns would be reduced if, as widely predicted, Sven takes the job in the next few days. I suspect that secretly he is desperately hoping another big club comes in for him just like Juventus did for Ranieri, so he can be spared making a difficult decision - we will see.

One things for sure though, this is all classic City roller-coaster stuff and the reason why we just love being Blues.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Ricky Hatton - Blue Legend

Ricky Hatton put on a sensational performance to destroy Mexican Jose Luis Castillo with a 4th round knock out in Las Vegas in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The "Manchester Mexican" looked in awsome shape at the weigh-in and exceeded most of our expectations by stopping Castillo so early in the fight.

Things at last seem to be looking up in the Blue side of Manchester; firstly with the City takeover and now with Ricky's superb performance, City fans are beginning to get back the swagger in their step and the twinkle in their eye.

There's already speculation about the opponent and location of his next fight, with a clash against Mayweather or de La Hoya if they can be tempted back into the ring with a huge wedge of dollars.

Talksport's rambling Mike Parry reckons the next venue for Ricky should be Old Trafford and not Eastlands. Now having Wayne Rooney carrying Ricky's belts is one thing, but Old Trafford is a whole different kettle of fish. Presumably Parry wouldn't mind if a similar Evertonian hero, if there is such a thing, were to stage an event at Anfield..... I think not !

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sad Loss Of A Legendary City Son

Very sad news yesterday afternoon of the death of legendary comedian and big City fan, Bernard Manning. He was 76.

Manning was in every sense a larger than life character and a love-hate figure; there was no middle ground.

I never did see him at the infamous Embassy Club, but I was lucky enough to see him perform at my local pub (now sadly a Majestic Wine store) in the late '90s, where despite poor health, he still managed to pull off one hell of a show in a venue that was completely packed out.

He took time out after that show to have a chat with myself and a blind friend of mine who had travelled up from Cornwall to see him. This was a side that Bernard's politically correct critics chose to ignore and his support of charities and help for local people was not widely reported.

Like so many controversial celebrities, in real life he was the opposite of his public persona and I found him to be a very charming and caring person.

Sadly at a time when all the news about City seems to be negative, we have more difficult news to take in.

Farewell and rest in peace Bernard, sadly your like will never be seen again - you were a legend

Monday, June 18, 2007

What The **** Is Going On ?

After yet another week of press rumour accompanied by a deafening silence from City, fans are still non the wiser about the fate of their club. In the words of the great Marvin Gaye, "What's Going On?"

After the news of assets being frozen, I must have imagined that the Board had allegedly set a deadline of Friday last week for "Frank's" mob to prove they still had enough suitcases of readies to buy the club. This evening, the M.E.N are reporting that a further £123m of assets have been frozen in addition to the £830m from last week. How deep are this guy's pockets?

How much more time are the Board going to waste before it dawns on them that the whole thing is as dead as a doornail....... unless they know something we don't? ..... and if they do, please tell us?

Where is the money then? If he has sufficient funding, why is it taking so long to materialise?

How come the Board were so quick to dismiss Ray Ranson's approach and yet they are open-endedly clinging on to Shinawatra?

Is there really an American consortium ... are there two as has been speculated ?? .... does anyone really know?

We're only into June and yet this is already turning out to be an Annus Horiblis of mega proportions, even by City standards with the nightmare prospect of Kenny Jackett at the helm at the start of the season.

I wonder what Alan Sugar would say to the current Board given a chance?

The words "fired" and "you're" spring instantly to mind !

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Time For City To Pull Plug On Thaksin

The saga of the Shinawatra takeover took yet another twist yesterday with the news that the Thai government have frozen his £830m assets that still remain in Thailand. Shinawatra almost certainly does have access to other assets that he managed to get out of the country before the coup that overthrew him last year, but it seems highly unlikely he will use these funds to buy City.

It seem to me that dealing with Shinawatra is neither desirable or advisable. There are too many concerns about the man and his finances that make dealing with him too high risk. The warning signs were there last year when his high profile attempt to take control of Liverpool proved to be an embarrassing fiasco for both parties and City must learn lessons from this.

Wardle's offer at the weekend to sink a further £30m into the club if the Thai deal fell through was a clear indication that the Club has concerns about Shinawatra's intentions and finances and that behind the scenes, all was not well.

Wardle, and the rest of the board should now go a step further and pull the plug on Shinawatra immediately and pursue other options that may or may not include Ranson and/or the mystery American interest.

All the time that the doomed Shinawatra deal drags on, the club are losing crucial time to plan and prepare for next season. We've already lost players and a manager and cannot wait any longer to sort out the playing staff for next year. Before long, there won't be any decent players or coaches left to fill the current vacant positions and we'll end up yet again with the leftovers and ageing players who look at City as some kind of pension fund for the swan-song of their careers.

The club has looked amateurish and unprofessional throughout the takeover negotiations and it's now time for the Board to be decisive and kill off what is an already fatally wounded attempt to buy the club and move on.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Barton Demands His 30 Pieces Of Silver

As if Joey Barton hasn't already alienated himself enough from City fans, it appears that he, or should I say his agent, is holding out for a £300,000 "loyalty" payment as part of the overall deal that will see Barton move to Newcastle.

In a gesture akin to kicking more sand in the face of the club that stood by Barton throughout his many public misdemeanors, this final outrage has all the cynical hallmarks of agent Willy McKay.

In view of the circumstances leading up to Barton's exit from Eastlands, let's not forget, a brutal attack on fellow teammate Ousmane Dabo who ironically is also managed by McKay, Barton if he had any humility should have just slid quietly out the back door and up the A1 to the North East.

The word "loyalty" sit extremely badly with Barton and McKay. In fact, loyalty has been a one-way street during Joey's time at City; he has been on the receiving end of it!

I'm glad that the club seem to be standing firm and resisting the player's outrageous demands and hope they don't give in. Joey has reportedly signed a 5 year deal worth in excess of £60k per week with Newcastle. Why then does he and his agent want to make an issue over an amount that roughly equates to 1 month's salary under his new contract? Who said crime doesn't pay ??

I feel a bit sorry for the Geordies; they don't really know what they're getting with Barton, whereas City fans understand all too well - we're far better off without him.

The club need to learn lessons from this whole episode, and particularly dealing with the likes of Mr McKay - enough said !

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Hit Man And Him !

City fan, Ricky Hatton has come in for a fair amount of stick over his friendship with Wayne Rooney, who we're told will accompany the Hit Man into the ring when he fights Mexican Jose Luis Castillo in Vegas on June 23rd.

I say "Hit Man", but Ricky has said he's changing his name to "The Manchester Mexican" as a tribute to his many friends from that part of the world and it's nothing to do with winding up his opponent - yer right !

It's also predicted that Ricky will be sporting a sombrero and poncho as he enters the ring with Shrek alongside him. Thankfully Blue Moon will be playing in the background and I hope that his ethnic attire will be suitably blue.

As for all the criticsm Ricky has had about the Rooney thing, well it is an unfortunate choice of mate, but everyone is entitled to choose their own friends, even if they are from rival camps. We may not like it, but it's Ricky's business and nobody elses. Personally I'd have liked to see Dunny or Weaver propping him up on his other side just to balance things up a little and maybe there's still time ?

Now before I get a load of stick, how many ordinary blues have Rag mates or even scousers? We all do and the banter and stick from local rivals is what makes football the best game in the world. There shouldn't be a double standard just because he's in the public eye.

So, I say best of luck to Ricky Hatton, the Manchester Mexican and hope all City fans will be supporting him. In these dark times at Eastlands, he's one of City's few rays of sunshine and a great ambassador for the club as well as being one of the country's unsung national heroes - let's not crucify him over something as trivial as who he hangs out with from time to time.

All the best Mate !

Monday, June 04, 2007

Good News For Sibierski ?

Not the fact that French Tony has just signed for Wigan on a free and will be playing alongside Titus Bramble, but the fact he is now spared the nightmare prospect of teaming up with Joey Barton once again.

It was Joey who famously said that City's French player legion were over-rated and not worthy of a blue shirt.... now hang on a minute, that reminds me of another soon to be ex-City player; now if only I could remember ???

MCFC Manager Solution

No surprise then that the Tinker Man opted for Juve instead of Eastlands; and who could blame him ?

The last few weeks have taken the biscuit as far as City farces we've seen over the years are concerned. All the media talk about the players Ranieri was on the verge of signing.... what a load of tosh !

As every day passes it now looks likely that the Thai takeover is slipping away and the club will be back at square one...... or should that read Ground Zero ? ..... hey, that's not a bad name for the City of Manchester Stadium ;-)

"Big names" still continue to be linked with us, but let's have a reality check here people, nobody with any ambition or pedigree is going to come whilst the takeover fiasco continues to play out on a very public stage in the form of a rather bad Shakespearian tragedy.

So, I have a quick solution that will avoid wasting all that precious time in the summer before the inevitable conclusion...
Just appoint Neil Warnock now !

It's gonna happen anyway, so let's do it sooner than later and get it over with. We can then sign up Brian Deane to solve our scoring problem and with a bit of luck coax Tony Currie and Len Badger out of retirement (yes I'm old enough to remember)

Just a minute, is that Souness I can see looming in the background....... pass me my brown trousers, I think I've just had an accident !

Friday, June 01, 2007

Is This Man Really Right For City?

This is a slightly unusual article in that I've extracted comments someone left on a previous post as it makes interesting reading.

I haven't changed any of the wording and therefore the views expressed are his/hers and not necessarily mine, although some of the issues raised are very well put.

I must admit there is an air of "any port in a storm" with the current Thai takeover, and I do feel slightly uncomfortable with some of the alleged baggage that surrounds Shinawatra, but on the other hand how much different is it from the big Russian money in the game?

That said, I guess the reality is that if this is a genuine offer to acquire the club and inject the funding and supporting infrastructure we need, any skeletons in cupboards will probably not be too rigorously investigated by the Club; the media will have a different view though, but that's what they are there for.

The comments do paint a very bleak picture, probably overly so, but anyway, I'll leave you all to make up your own minds……….

Regarding Thaksin Shinawatra’s Takeover of Manchester City Football Club

1. The Board of Manchester City Football Club
2. London Stock Exchange
3. Manchester City Supporters

How well do you know Thaksin?

- The man was deposed from Thailand’s Premiership under accusations of massive corruptions among other things.
- The man has been under extensive investigation by the Assets Examination Committee which is founded to especially deal with corruption in the previous government.
- Some of the cases under the Assets Examination Committee have already been prosecuted in the court of law.
- The government had already stated that the corruption cases against him are rock-solid and by year’s end there will be decisions.
- Manchester City is a world-renowned football club.
- Manchester City has a long and illustrious history as well as popular followings in the UK and around the world.
- Manchester City is currently listed in the London Stock Exchange.

- If Thaksin is successful in his attempt to takeover Manchester City, there will certainly be investigation by the Thai government concerning where his source of capitals come from. This will increase the chance of convicting him in court.
- If Thaksin is found guilty, it is more than likely that the Thai authority would proceed to file for his assets confiscation.
- Imagine what an uproar the filing for assets confiscation would cause:
o prolong legal battles that lead to court orders of years of impoundment of assets
o repercussion on the previously unblemished image of the club
o negative reactions from the club’s shareholders
o sustained disruptions that would put the club in most uncalled-for predicament and distract it away from putting effort on the football pitch.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Ranieri On his Way

It looks like the parties involved in the City takeover must have been reading my article from earlier this evening when I asked to clarity over all the recent speculation :-)

Well, Parma have just announced that Ranieri is leaving the Club, but could or would not confirm his destination.

Give you three guesses ?

It would be amusing if Shinawatra pulled out of the deal now?

Has A Deal Been Done?

Typical of City, confusion seems to be reigning over the much speculated takeover from Thailand.

From all the reports today allegedly quoting Ranieri, you would get the impression that he is our next manager and that the deal is now a formality and just needs rubber stamping.

Yesterday's withdrawal of the Ranson interest further heightened speculation that the City takeover was now a one horse race and would seem to put the Shinawatra bid in a very strong position and now the only game in town.

However, balance that against other, more worrying reports that Shinawatra's interest is now cooling with the bid now being in danger as a result of the due diligence process, and you begin to wonder just what the hell is going on.

It does seem very odd that Ranieri appears now to be waxing lyrical in a way that more than suggests he knows something about the takeover that we don't, or it is a bad case of counting one's chickens?

My knowledge of corporate takeovers is rudimentary to say the least, but I don't recall seeing or hearing official confirmation from the Stock Market that a formal offer has indeed be made.

Have I missed it or can anyone out there confirm this one way or another?

It's all very worrying !

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Keeper Choice Beggars Belief

As it's a bit quiet on the City front at the moment, I just thought I'd come to the defence of a City old boy, David James and like many, I just cannot understand why he has not made the England squad for the up-coming games against Estonia and Brazil.

At a time where McLaren has given into media pressure to recall a largely ineffective and vastly over-rated Beckham to the squad, the England boss has again ignored Jammo, who for me was this season's outstanding 'keeper.

On recent form, James stands head and shoulders above the three 'keepers who were selected, namely Messrs Robinson, Carson and Green and why he hasn't made the squad or let alone the starting spot is yet another example of gross misjudgement by McLaren.

James will always divide opinion, but surely even his most vocal critics will recognise his outstanding performances this season and last season for that matter when he played for us.

I know he has made some errors, but name me a 'keeper who hasn't? Furthermore, his most memorable gaffs took place many years ago, and for the past 3 or 4 seasons, he has been rock solid. Some of the saves I've seen him make for City have been breath-taking and world class.

It's difficult to know just exactly what more Jammo needs to do to get back into the squad, but given a choice between Beckham and James, I know which old boy I'd go for.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A Case Of Not If But Sven?

Speculation is heightening about the next City manager.

First it was Ranieri and Co Adriaanse; next it was Eriksson distancing himself; yesterday it was Sevilla's Juande Ramos and most conspicuously Gerard Houllier following his suspiciously timed departure from Lyon, although he says he just needs a rest from football - Eastlands would be perfect for him then ;-)

In what seems to be a U-turn of New Labour proportions, it now appears that Sven would fancy taking over at City after all if the newspaper headlines are to be believed.

At the moment though, links with any big-name manager are just fanciful speculation until such time as any take-over of the club has been resolved one way or another. No manager of the calibre of those mentioned above are not going to come to the club under the existing regime and they'll only stake their respective reputations if they have a sizeable budget to spend.

Personally, of all those mentioned, I think Sven is the best fit. Granted, he underachieved as England boss, although his record was still pretty good compared with other England managers. However, his credentials as a club manager are exceptional.

1979: Swedish cup, IFK Gothenburg
1981: Swedish championship, IFK Gothenburg
1982: Swedish cup, IFK Gothenburg
1982: UEFA Cup,IFK Gothenburg
1983: Portuguese championship, Benfica
1983: Portuguese cup, Benfica
1984: Portuguese championship, Benfica
1986: Italian cup, AS Roma
1991: Portuguese championship, Benfica
1994: Italian cup, Sampdoria
1998: Italian cup, Lazio
1999: European Cup Winners Cup, Lazio
2000: Italian championship, Lazio
2000: Italian cup, Lazio

I'd like to see the new owners move quickly for Sven and give him a chance to start building a side in time for the start of next season. Having Eriksson at the helm would attract quality players who previously would never have considered coming to City.

Furthermore, being a cool and cautious Swede, I don't think Sven would waste big money on risky signings in the same way as Pearce and Keegan did.

As I said, everything depends on the takeover, which according to reports should be concluded in the next 2 -3 weeks. However, having been here so many times before, I'll believe it when it actually happens. I wonder what the odds are on Wardle still being Chairman and Warnock as manager for the start of the season ???