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 ???

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Distin Exit Leaves Sour Taste

It was one of the worst kept secrets that ex-City skipper Sylvain Distin wanted out of the club to "seek a fresh challenge". None of us will be surprised that he's left, especially as he's come close to leaving several times over the course of the last few transfer windows.

What will come as a surprise though is that despite interest from quite a few clubs, including an 11th hour attempt by Liverpool to sign him, he's opted to join Portsmouth to pursue his dreams of major domestic and European honours.

Now with respect to Pompey, Distin has taken a big gamble in what at his age will probably be his last "big" move. I know that big Harry has done a sterling job to revive Pompey's fortunes, but as a manager he's got very little European pedigree as indeed do Portsmouth. It is a surprise therefore that Distin has chosen to follow David James to the south coast.

I don't blame Distin at all for wanting to move. He's been a great servant for City; a model professional, without whom, Christ knows we're City would have ended up. His partnership with Dunny has consistently been the best central defensive partnership for the last two to three seasons and we'll miss him next season for sure.

In a sense and now at 29, poor old Distin has wasted his best years at a club that's been in turmoil for a while, and with a recent string of managers that were never going to seriously challenge for any sort of honours.

What really leaves a sour taste though, is that a club like Portsmouth is considered a much better option for winning honours than City. Sadly, at the moment you'd probably have to agree, but that is a damning indictment of the years of under-investment and lack of ambition shown by the board; that's the thing that really hurts the fans.

His swift move and cryptic comments also raise some darker questions about City's future and the ongoing saga of the takeover. Like many fans, I'll believe it when I see it happen and I suspect there will be a few stings in the tail before it actually happens, if indeed it ever does.

I just have a bad feeling about the Thai takeover, especially reading today about the restrictive financial regulations for taking such large sums of money out of Thailand. Given that the ex-PM has a bit of a "colourful" past, it is by no means certain that the deal will actually materialise and it could all end up like it did when he attempted to take control of Liverpool.

So, farewell Sylvain and thanks for five years of service. He is a class act and Harry has again pulled off a bit of a coup. Personally, I think he's rushed into the wrong move, but time will tell.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Useless Pearce Fact of The Day

It's a bit ironic that Pearce's first and last matches in charge of City were away at Spurs where we lost 2 -1 on both occasions.

Just to show how fickle football and a lot of fans are, even though we lost 2-1 in his first game, he got rave reviews for a brave effort in a match we should have got something out if we'd taken our chances; something of a theme that would run through his tenure as gaffer.

However, in what proved to be his last game in charge, he was slated for losing by the same scoreline - it's a cruel world.

Listening to the the great Fred Eyre tonight on the radio, he and some of the other callers echoed what a lot of fans feel about Pearce. There's quite rightly a lot of disappointment for him personally that he didn't succeed. He certainly can't be criticised for lack of effort and passion and the touchline technical area will be a quieter place next season, thats for sure.

It's a shame some of the players didn't show half of Pearce's energy and passion as we'd probably have had a much better season. Ultimately, Psycho paid the price for his disastrous signings, negative and muddled tactics and inability to score goals.

Pearce will have learned from his experience at City and no doubt he'll gone on to be a better manager elsewhere and we may just rue the day we let him go; that would just be City's luck.

Does this mean Steve Wigley is in charge for now? :-(

City Terminate Pearce's Contract

Not to be outdone by Wigan again this season, City have just announced they have terminated Psycho's contract.

Can't say this is a total surprise and this swift move means they agony wont be prolonged any longer in what has been one of the most painful seasons for a while. It will also heighten speculation that the Thai takeover is now very close.

I'm sorry it didn't work out for Pearce as deep-down he's a gentleman and genuinely decent guy, but sadly not a great manager. At least he'll be spared the task of firing Barton, although he was probably looking forward to it.

We can now look forward to a summer of speculation and rumour ..... roll on next season !

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Dull Derby Sums Up a Season of Blues

You could probably tell from my previous post that I was not looking forward to the derby, although my anticipated humiliation by the Rags thankfully did not materialise; in fact I'll admit I sat this game out and dispatched the wife and number one son to keep my seats warm whilst I watched the game in a quiet darkened room in the depths of Cheshire.

In terms of the scoreline, it was better than I expected and on paper at least looked to be a close game. The reality however is that City never really looked like threatening the old enemy, despite the support of the Referee. Yesterday's game just seemed to sum up City's season ( and last season for that matter) in a nut shell:

  • Ultra defensive formation and tactics to bore the pants off the crowd:
I can't understand why in out last home game in what was the Derby after all, we didn't put out an attacking formation that might actually threaten the opposition's goal and entertain the home crowd - a lone striker is never going to win you much. This just confirms the lack of tactical awareness of the current management team. We now have the dubious and embarrassing distinction of setting the record for the lowest number of home goals in a season, but hey, I guess at last we won something !
  • More on-field thuggery:
I was hoping that after Thatcher and Barton, we'd got rid of this most unwelcome aspect of our game. Even though many of us may have thought that Ronaldo does deserve a good kicking, Ball's calculated and cowardly stamp on Angelina Ballerina was completely unacceptable and I'd like to see the Club take action before the FA steps in.

It's a real shame that it was Ball who had a Thatcher moment, as he has been a revelation since he joined in the January transfer window and has shored up that dodgy left flank. What is it about the number 3 shirt that seems to bring out the worst in a player?

  • Players massively short of passion and confidence:
Last week it was Barton, this week it was Vassell, but you just knew that the penalty was never going to go in. All season, the players' attitude body language have spoken volumes. If the fans can see it, why can't the management?

  • A manager deluding himself that all's well and we were just a bit unlucky:
Some of the comments from Pearce that City are pretty much in good shape and a top-six team apart from the lack of a few goals will have irritated an already beleaguered set of fans. Yes the strikers are poor, but the problems are much deeper than Pearce's very blinkered view of the situation.Much of the problem stems from the inability of the midfield to control the centre of the park, hang on to the ball for more than three seconds before giving it away carelessly and most importantly actually creating a decent chance for the strikers.

All of the above and more have resulted in yet another predictable season of mediocrity, tedium and disappointment. To be honest, writing about City is becoming quite a depressing chore with very little to be positive about.

Big changes need to happen quickly so that the best fans in the land have something to cheer and feel proud about. It looks like some stronger clubs will be coming up to the Premiership next season, so City won't have the luxury of weaker teams propping up the table. Next season, it could well be us unless we get some professional management throughout the club.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Derby Tomorrow, But Does Anyone Care?

The Manchester derby is one of the premiere events in the football calendar, or at least it should be. It has served up many memorable encounters over the years with some memorable highs and lows for both clubs.

I should be looking forward to tomorrow's game with great anticipation, but instead I find myself having very little enthusiasm for what should be the high-point of our season.

The 2006-7 season has without doubt been one of the most miserable and un-enjoyable seasons for quite a while. The initial promise as a visionary manager shown by Pearce has long since evaporated and we have had to endure tedious home football watching a set of players who looked totally demotivated and clueless whose overall standard of play is worse than my lads U-11s team.

Unless we manage a goal tomorrow, we're likely to set an unenviable Premiership record of the lowest home goal total. It's been so long since we've scored, I've almost forgotten how to celebrate.

Other low points have included the Thatcher and Barton episodes where we have too many times this season featured on the back pages of the national press for all the wrong reasons.

Added to that the ongoing take-over soap opera and the almost complete disdain and contempt the current board seem to show to the fans, our Club is becoming the laughing stock of the Premiership, but it really isn't funny and it cannot go on.

I've renewed my season tickets for next season, but Christ knows why? I'm at the point now where unless there is a complete change at the club from top to bottom, I'm really going to struggle about getting excited about next year.

Obviously, I hope we beat United tomorrow and finish the season with a bit of a flourish, but am I alone in feeling as flat as this about the club I support?

To coin a phrase, "Am I really bovvered?", well at the moment probably not.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Barton: A Bridge To Far .... or Not ?

To be honest, it comes as no real surprise that Joey Barton has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons yet again. The timing of this event could not be worse, coming just a few days before the Manchester derby.

Joey is being crucified in the media, with calls for him to be given the boot. However, and I don't often agree with Barton's agent, Willie McKay, I think that we all need to understand the facts of the situation before one can point the finger of blame.

At the moment, there is a lot of speculation about who did what and in what order. Quite simply, none of us, except the players and those at the training ground really know. Hopefully, we'll get some clarity on that over the next day or two.

If Barton is found to be the instigator, then City should throw the book and a few other assorted heavy objects at him and he should be moved out of the club as quickly as possible... hopefully to 'Boro as that would be a harsh, but suitable punishment in itself.

However, if it is found that Barton was the innocent party (difficult for many to believe I know), then a lot of us will need to eat a big slice of humble pie.

Barton has recently voiced what many of the fans have felt all season, namely the poor quality signings made by Pearce. However, if you're going to do that, you need to put in a huge performance yourself in your next game, and quite frankly Joey was shocking against Villa. He didn't get punished for expressing his views publically, but I'm sure City will take this into consideration when they decide his fate.

It's true to say though that trouble does seem to follow Joey around, much in the same way as it did with Bellamy, Hartson, Roy Keene etc..etc. Actually, thinking about it, perhaps a move to the Black Cats might be best all round.