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Rochdale 2 City 3
Back to City
Port Vale F.C. was the location of City's third pre-season friendly and the last time I was here would have been in the late 70's as I remember standing on a high open terrace. Well that's all gone - so now it's all seating. It was good to see a coach-load of City apprentices arriving and joining the City supporters in the stand to watch the game. It would have given them an insight to the passion of City supporters and more motivation for them to succeed like others before them. I wasn't going to take any pictures at all but one of my fingers was going into rehab so there are a few below. The PA System was certainly louder than at Rochdale. It could be heard for miles! Music was still blaring out as the second half was due to start. I am sure the ref blew his whistle several times!
July Notes
I was horrified to see the Port Vale mascot raise his leg at one of the goal Posts. I am sure he would not have done it had Moonbeam been present!
Samaras header just over the bar
Good to see Trev Sinclair back in action and he played for the first 70 minutes showing a bit of his old pace and his header at the far post gave Barton the chance to score after just 8 minutes
Paul Dickov was proving a handful and after 30 minutes his lightning reaction to take a quick free kick inside the area after a back pass had been handled by keeper Goodlad lead to Barton scoring his second goal
The City supporters could hardly believe their luck and the Vale players surrounded the referee with protestations. I must admit I did not see the referee give permission for the kick to be taken as Dickov just got the ball from the keeper put it down and passed it to Barton who put it in the net.
Barton's hat-trick came as a result of good work by Dickov mainly - who held the ball up after receiving from Miller and then gave to Sinclair whose final centre was put away by Barton. A well worked goal after 40 minutes.
Jordan (left) who came on for Richards in the second half played well at the centre of defence . New signing Dabo who played for 70 minutes looked comfortable enough and his long crossfield passes were excellent. He was guilty of one mistake but it will a few games to get used to the game over here.
Weaver who had made one good save in the first half was substituted by new player Hart at half time but the new lad did not have a great deal to do.
Port Vale had little to offer in the second half and City changed all their players but Mills - did he draw the short straw!
A black mark again against Paul Dickov as he tackled a member of the opposition late in the game. At least the player did not require a stretcher as in the Rochdale game incident.

One more friendly to go before departure for China and then we have Porto as visitors in August before hostilities really commence. So how will City line up and are there going to be any more transfers? Will Distin stay ? At least the squad looks much stronger and players will have to play well to keep their places. Lee Croft looks as though he is one his way to Norwich where he is likely to be playing more often. He has always been a fully committed player for City but I have always had my doubts about his future ability in the Premiership. A bit like BWP who has now at Southampton. No signs of Vassell and Cole yet and no doubt City are keeping Jihai Sun fit for the China trip. Has Reyna recovered from his World Cup injury? Who is going to be reserve keeper?
No doubt we shall find the answer to these questions in the next few weeks and I don't envy Stuart Pearce's problems in deciding his best 11. At the end of last season it was a question of seeing who was fit. Now we have a strong squad and if they can blend into a team then a top ten place is possible. The only area that may need reinforcing is the left side of midfield where Musampa and Riera featured last season. I suppose Vassell and Miller are options but a specialist would be preferable and creative too ideally. So what are the options.
In goal we have Isaksson ( 100%) Weaver - Hart - Schmeichel
Back 4 we have Dunne - Distin - Mills- Richards - Thatcher - Jordan - Trabels -Onuoha - M Mills - Sun ( or midfield)
Midfield we have Barton - Dabo - Ireland - Reyna - Hamann
Forwards we have Sinclair - Miller - Beasley
Strikers we have Samaras - Dickov - Corradi - Vassell - Sturridge
I've highlighted the final possible 16 for the first team squad selection.

I was saddened to learn of the death of Billy Walsh who played at wing half for City from 1936 to 1950. He played in the first City game I watched in 1943 against Blackpool and I last saw him play against Middlesbrough in February 1950 . His place was takem by some chap called Roy Paul! His name is forever in my memory as part of Walsh - Eastwood - McDowell - the City midfield in those early days when I started my love affair with the sky blue of Manchester City.
Best of luck goes to Lee Croft now on his way to Norwich City - a friendly club like City. I was stationed there in the RAF for 2 years so know it well. Above are a couple of reminders of Lee. Above left at Carrington watched by Kevin Keegan and above right in his last game for City at Rochdale a week or so ago. Nobody could ever fault his 100% effort at all times. It also looks as though Willo Flood is on his way too -to Cardiff City.

Willo Flood has now been transferred to Cardiff and the third of our youngsters has departed to pastures new. Willo pictured in one of his last games for City at Rochdale (far right) will no doubt do well for his new side. He would have had very limited chances in the Premiership with City

Marc Laird (right) will I understand get an extension to his contract this week. That's good news

August Notes
Latest City signing is Hatem Trabelsi- an attacking fullback from Ajax. He played in the recent World Cup for Tunisia and has almost 60 caps for his country. He is 29 years old. and has played for several years for Ajax and comes on a free transfer. He will require a work permit but that should not be a problem. He played about 100 times for Ajax since 2001 and scored twice.
Further news is that David James has moved to Portsmouth and his replacement for the first team is Andreas Isaksson who was with Renne in France. He played well for Sweden in the last World Cup.
City 0 Porto 1
City 0 Portsmouth 0
City 1 Arsenal 0

Deadline time has come and gone and now we know the results of the last minute chaos of August 31st. The possible signing of Olivier Thomert fell through but City did sign on loan DaMarcus Beasley, a fast left sided 24 year old USA international from PSV in Holland.. He has played over 60 games for the USA and scored 12 goals. He played 56 games for PSV scoring 10 goals His nickname is " jitter" short for jitterbug so I hope he will soon be dancing past defences in the Premiership. He played his first game for PSV against GlazerUnited at Old Trafford and he's played at the San Siro in Milan and the Nou Camp in Barcelona so playing at COMS will not be a problem. Only 5ft 7inches -old money but can defend I understand. For more info there is an old article here
It'sgood-bye to Sibierski who has moved to Newcastle United. Antoine had moved down the pecking order and would have found it hard to get a game. He was not the quickest around so the move is not unexpected. It's also farewell to Andrew Cole who has joined David James at Portsmouth. Cole's linking with Vassell last season was quite good but the ex United player was always injury prone and we had not seen anything from him this season so far. This move will be good news to young Sturridge who will move up the strikers pecking order. So there are going to be quite a few new faces for City supporters to pick out this season. By the time the next game comes up away to Reading and injuries have been sorted Stuart Pearce will have some difficult decisions to make in team selection.


Recently I have just finished working on a video for the song "All Roads Lead to Eastlands" by The Dandelion Clocks using images from City's past. The complete CD extra Manchester City Blue will be out shortly. Details on the group web site at www.thedandelionclocks.co.uk/welcome.htm
City 2 West Ham 0

It was sad to hear about the death of George Heslop. He played for City in the 60's making almost 200 appearances for the blues. He was a centre half who won many medals for City but was one of the unsung heroes. He did his job well without being flamboyant in any way and was a key member of the Mercer-Allison side.
After a poor start to September with defeats at Reading, Blackburn and Chesterfield it was looking grim for Stuart Pearce according to some City supporters as City tumbled to the relegation zone. However life with City is a rollercoaster ride and the win against West Ham and point against Everton took us to mid table and there were smiles back on the faces of the true blues. Ah you of little faith!
Just as the 'Thatcher affair' was becoming less news worthy along comes Joey Barton to take the headlines with the 'mooning' episode at Everton. I noticed that in my web page stats details there was a big increase in visitors looking for Barton pics - no doubt thinking I had been at Goodison. No I saw it on 'match of the day' and considering the abuse he was getting from Everton fans I thought it was a humorous riposte to a section of the home crowd. I would be surprised if the FA take any major disciplinary action over the episode.
What is a lot more worrying are the gross refereeing and linesmen errors that have been occurring of late. Several come to mind that have happened recently. The Liverpool keeper was penalized for handling the ball outside the penalty area when he clearly released the ball to kick it well inside the area. At the time the linesman was not in line with the keeper but had strayed several yards upfield. Why I wonder? It cost Liverpool a goal.
Referee Foy gave a spot kick for Spurs after Zokora dived in the area. Portsmouth lost to this goal. I understand the referee has apologized for missing the cheating. The FA cannot suspend Zokora as FIFA do not allow video evidence to affect any suspensions if missed by the referee. The Spurs manager did not help by saying that Zokora 'lost his balance'. If divers were automatically suspended for 6 games on video evidence then I am sure the practice would stop very quickly!
It would also help if referees were to get into position to judge incidents by sometimes leaving their 'predefined diagonal' . Many referees just stand still when they reach a play zone and will often have their view blocked. They go through a pre-match routine to 'warm-up' and show the crowd how fit they are! But then when the game starts they miss incidents or misinterpret them by being out of position. The 4th official could do more too by watching video replays and pass on info to the referee. The use of video must soon play a part in the Premiership as there is too much money at stake now.

There was also a recent blatant offside decision that ended with the scorer looking around to see if he was OK to score so offside was he. It was almost like a game in a local park where the referee has 'linesmen' from the opposing sides so he has to make an offside judgment himself and not rely on his helpers.

September notes
City 0 Sheffield U 0
After David James's bloomers over the years the gaffe by Robinson will be replayed for years. He blamed the divot for missing the ball so why didn't he check the turf at the edge of the goal box when he got back after half time. Not very professional and what about the back pass. When possible defenders should pass the ball back WIDE of the goal to avoid the catastrophe that happened against Croatia. Not very professional!
October Notes
City 1 Middlsbrough 0
City 0 Newcastle U 0
City 3 Fulham 1
November Notes

I was saddened by the news of the death of Ferenc Puskas -the galloping major as he was called. I was fortunate to see him score four goals in the European Cup Final in 1960 in Real Madrid's 7-3 win against Eintracht Frankfort and for Real Madrid against Man United in 1960 (3-2 for Real). I have just been viewing some 8mm footage I shot at the time of both games and it brought back memories of football played without diving, confrontations or histrionics !
Puskas was one of the greatest players I have ever seen and is up there with Pele, Finney, Matthews, Eusebio etc.
You would not think he was much of a player to look at him but he certainly opened a few eyes when he came with the Hungarian side in 1953 when the visitors tore England apart 6-3 at Wembley.

City 0 Watford 0
City 1 Spurs 2
City 0 Bolton 2
City 2 Everton 1

January Notes

Since the poor home result against Bolton in November City have managed to string some results together by hard work and a little bit of luck rather than brilliant creative football so with a possible F. A. Cup run to look forward too and the January Sales now in full swing City supporters will be feeling a little more positive than a few weeks ago. The away system of 3-5-2 is not wonderful to watch but is getting results which is vital for us to keep Premiership status. The supposed influx of money from the mystery source may help in the summer - if it comes off of course. There will also be more TV cash too but at the moment we have to improve the squad with limited resources. Not much news in the way of signings yet. Young Djamel Abdoun has come on loan from French club Ajaccio . He is a skilful midfielder who has played a few times in the French League. Also hopefully about to come on loan is Spaniard Kepa Blanco Gonzalez a 6ft 2in 23 year old striker from Seville ( top of the Spanish League) . I understand West Ham are also in for this player so we wait with baited breath - Looks llike this possible transfer is over as the player prefers the lights of London and higher wages
Also new to City was Francesco Coco an Italian International defender from Internazionale. He was on a weeks trial to check his fitness following a serious injury. He has played for Milan, Barcelona, Torino Inter and more recently Livorno on loan. He played 17 times for Italy. He is 30 years old and is left footed. Hhis trial only lasted a couple of days !
Thatcher has departed for Charlton Athletic and I doubt whether there will be any other major departures in the January window.

City 2 Sheff W 1
City 0 Blackburn 3
Big City supporter boxer Ricky Hatton recently beat Juan Hatton in Vegas to regain his IBF light-welterwight title There were many City supporters there to watch and thanks to Ashley here are a few pictures to show the atmosphere.
Pity some of the City players did not show some of the determination of Ricky Hatton in recent games.
It's not surprising that Stuart Pearce may take over as manager of the England under 21 team . Just hope that juggling time between two jobs does not affect City too much.
The January transfer window is almost up and latest name in City's sights is Brazilian Afonso Alves who has been scoring a lot for Heerenveen recently. Apparently he is a good freekick specialist . We could do with one of those!
City 3 Southampton 1
City 0 Reading 2
City 0 Wigan 1
February/March notes

The lack of goals is hitting City hard and the combination of Corradi and Samaras rarely looks dangerous let alone scoring. Despite many rumors the only signing in the January transfer window was Emile Mpenza who has arrived from Qatar on a six month deal.He has played for Belgium since 1997 His made his debut in the second half against Wigan and despite his lack of match fitness looks to be a useful signing. His goal scoring ability will be essential if City are to avoid the big drop . Just two games in hand ( against Chelsea and Arsenal) and 6 points ahead of Charlton as we head into the cup weekend.
Once again against Blackburn, City failed to score and with hardly a chance in the game City went out of the cup. Blackburn who were down to ten men for the latter part of the game were not all that good but despite the return of Vassell and the inclusion of Sun and Hamann it was not a good display. With Chelsea to visit COMS on Wednesday I feel the managers job is in real danger.
It is said that a successful general needs three main attributes
a. The ability to take risks when necessary
b. The ability to confuse opponents
c. The ability to have a plan B

Mmmm.....does our manager fit the bill?
Only time will tell and it is quickly running out.

City 0 Chelsea 1
City 0 Charlton 0
April notes
The recent events in Europe concerning dangers to visiting supporters alas did not include supporters of Manchester City . However a couple of pictures kindly sent to me by Ashley reminded me of some of the dangers City suporters have had to endure on recent trips to Newcastle and Fulham. Apart from the shock of City actually scoring goals and winning: at Newcastle they had to climb to vast heights without climbing gear or oxygen while at Fulham warning notices were posted for those likely to doze off.
Away wins at Newcastle,Middlesbrough and Fulham coupled with the point at home to Charlton have pretty well put City in the clear and relegation fears are banished for another season. So now we can look forward to next season and perhaps with a strong imput from new backers from the States. Certainly we need at least two new strikers capable of scoring in the Premiership. Corradi and Samaras have been disappointing to say the least. I hope Sturridge will be given a go before the end of the season to see how he shapes up. We have seen how players like Onuoha, Richards, Ireland and Johnson have slotted in without any major problems. The signngs of Ball and Mpenza have worked out well and I hope they will be staying next season.
City 0 Liverpool 0
City 0 Aston Villa 2
May Notes
It is likely we have seen the back of Joey Barton after his clash with Dabo at Carrington. He was immediately suspended by the club and will not be playing for City this season. The patience of the club has been tested several times over the past few years - the Tandy and Bangkok incidents come to mind to name but two. It is such a shame that this promising player has fallen from grace.
His form for City has been a bit up and down recently and I think he believes he is a better footballer than he really is but on the field he has played with passion and if only he could control this passion in all situations.
Will this be my very last pic of Joey Barton in a City shirt - after 80 mins against Villa.
For those who have forgotten what a home goal looks like below is the second Samaras goal against Everton
The take-over talks go on with the ex- Thai Premier being the favorite at the moment and ex City right back Ray Ranson in second place though the American bidders may be sneaking up on the rails so we wait with baited breath to see how much spending money the manager will have in the summer hols.
City 0 Manchester United 1

Players that I think will be departing over the next month or so are as follows -
4. Jordan: 5 Dabo : 8 Barton: 14 Dickov : 18 Mills : 27 Trabelsi : 28 Sinclair : 30 Corradi : 43 Miller
other possibles depending on signings are 24 Beasley 15 Distin : 20 Samaras

It was sad to hear about the sudden death of Alan Ball .who was City manager for a short time in 1995-6 .Although his ability as a player was never in question he failed as a manager at City . He will however always be remembered for his efforts for England in 1966 and the winning of the World Cup.
I first saw him play for Blackpool in a 1-0 win over Manchester United in 1963. I later saw him play several games for Everton against City, the last one being the semi-final at Villa Park in 1969. In the Everton team that were beaten by a Tommy Booth goal that day were three players who became City managers! - Kendall, Royle and Ball.
Hello - Is that the job centre?
The departure of Stuart Pearce from City was not a surprise. The poor home form with only ten goals scored - a record for the Premiership and old First Division was only part of the story. Some of his signings with the limited amount of cash available were questionable to say the least . The entertainment value for home supporters has done little for sales of season cards
His overall record of 34 wins 43 losses and 19 draws is nothing to shout about.
Now comes the interesting bit. Who will take over? Several names have been mentioned - Koeman - Ranieri and Houllier to name but three!
I suspect the eventual winners of the take-over will want some input into that decision and with a new manager needing time to sign new players and generally sort out the squad ready for next season decisions are going to have to be made quite quickly

June 21st - the longest day in the year and probably a momentous one in the history of Manchester City as it's now looking like the take-over by ex Thailand Premier Thaksin Shinawatra will now be going ahead. I understand an offer of over 81 million has been accepted by the board and recommended to shareholders though I have yet to hear anything myself as a tiny shareholder!
I expect a decision on the managers job very shortly as he has to be in position by the time the players return from their hols and new players have to be bought to bring the squad up to strength. At the moment ex England manager Sven Erikkson seems to be in pole position though I think many City supporters would be more in favor of Mark Hughes or Juande Ramos now that Ranieri has chosen Juventus. Still there is plenty of water still to go under the bridge as our prospective buyer has to face a 'fit and proper person' test by the Premier League before things can be finalized. He has lots of problems back in Bangkok where the Thai military government, jealous of his support by the people of Thailand are freezing many of his assets. We will wait with baited breath! More soon.
From interviews I have heard on Five Live it would appear that ' Frank Shinawatra' has the best interests of the club at heart so role on next season and no doubt supporters will be thinking up new words for
'I did it my way' !


June 26th
It now looks pretty certain that under the Chairmanship of Dr Thaksin Shinawatra City's new manager will be Sven Eriksson and the Swede has chosen Roland Andersson as his number 2. 56 year old Andersson played for Malmo and Djurgarden in Sweden and won 19 caps for Sweden and has coached in several countries including Sweden, Saudia Arabia. Switzerland and the UAE. He is at present with the Swedish national team and was a scout with the England team during Sven's reign as England manager . He is one of the top scouts in Europe. However in the football world nothing is certain as Capello is likely to leave Real Madrid that job too may become vacant. Incidentally there are strong rumors that Real Madrid will feature in a pre-season friendly at COMS.

July 7th
Well the agony is now over. We at last have a new manager - Sven Eriksson but his number two is now likely to be fellow Swede Hans Backe and not Roland Andersson. So now the fun really starts when Sven goes shopping for strikers, midfielders, defenders and a keeper! Sven has a tough task to take City up into the top 6 and it will take plenty of patience from supporters who will be keen to see immediate results.
So on 7-7-07 I will close this 2006-7 page and hope it be a momentous occasion in the history of our club and the start of a new era.