Thursday, 30 July 2009

Blumer Elano has moved from City to Turkish side Galatasaray in a deal worth £8 million.

There had been much speculation regarding the Brazilian midfielder’s future but it has been confirmed that Elano moved to the Istanbul outfit last night.

Elano was a popular figure at City, scoring 18 goals in 80 appearances. Perhaps his most memorable goal was the free-kick scored in the 2007/08 season against Newcastle at Eastlands. A lot of fans will be sad to see him go and there’s no doubt fellow countryman Robinho will miss Elano both on and off the pitch.

I wish him the very best of luck for the future.

City have made their sixth summer signing by capturing the services of Kolo Toure from Arsenal.

The defender, 28, has agreed a four-year deal with the transfer fee rumoured to be around £16 million. Toure joins former Arsenal team-mate Emmanuel Adebayor in the dressing-room and is looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead.

“The time was right for a new challenge and I am still at an age where I feel I am at my peak and will play my best football.

“For me it was time to move but only for the right club and I feel that Manchester City is that club. The ambition here is clear to see and is big. Everyone knows this club is moving and that is really, really important.”

Toure’s signing was announced on the same day that fellow City defender Nedum Onuoha penned a new five-year contract. The England under-21 star was quick to praise the Eastland’s club’s ambition and plans.

“I am really, really happy. Hopefully it will be the start of another good five years for me and for the club. This is a season that we will be looking right towards the top of the table.

“Who knows how far the club can go. If you look back five years who would have expected the club to be in the position it is in now. We feel anything is possible.”

Monday, 27 July 2009

Saturday 25th July saw the ever-popular Masters tournament return to the Manchester Evening News arena. Six of the North-West teams turned up to do battle- one of those being the reigning champions, Manchester City. I went backstage to see how the ‘old boys’ were feeling and to get their opinions on what is happening at the club they once proudly played for.

The City line-up was as follows: Dale Belford (last-minute stand in for the injured Eike Immel), Paul Simpson, Keith Curle, Alan Kernaghan, Ian Brightwell, Peter Beagrie, Nicky Summerbee, Mike Sheron and Carl Griffiths. Georgi Kinkladze was lined up to play but unfortunately couldn’t get a visa sorted out, which was a disappointment.

The boys seemed really excited to be back in the sky blues shirts and, although it was a light-hearted affair, still had that competitive streak.

Nicky Summerbee: “It’s good actually to be back involved in football. I haven’t played for about three years and I don’t keep myself in the best of shape. But I’m excited about it. The main thing for me is seeing all of the old lads: the players I used to play with at City and against who were at United, Blackburn and Burnley. It’s good, it’s exciting.”

Ian Brightwell: “It is great being back involved. I think this is my fourth or fifth year at the Masters and I really enjoy the occasion. It’s great to see the other teams here and lots of old, familiar faces. Some are older than others! But it is great fun actually kicking the ball about again.

”I’m not involved football-wise with anything at the moment. I did a spell of coaching at Port Vale for a few years, but now I’m focusing on a property company that I’m involved in.”

Paul Simpson: “I’m looking forward to it. It’s great to be back in amongst some old team-mates. I think we’re all looking forward to it; it’s always the same when you come back. We all just want to get started and we are looking forward to getting on. It’s a lot less stressful than management!”

The City boys were up against Oldham Athletic in their first game- and lost comprehensively 3-0. Their title defence was well and truly at stake and it was down to a derby match, against arch rivals United, to restore pride and try to progress further in the competition.

City's Masters played well. Glimpses of Beagrie’s magic and Simpson’s tenacity were on show. Goals from Sheron, Summerbee, Brightwell and Simpson secured a 4-3 victory, but wasn’t enough to see the boys go further in the tournament. Brightwell’s goal, a sweet chip over United goal-keeper Fraser Digby following good link-up work from Summerbee, was the pick of the bunch.


Despite the defeat, the boys seemed to have a lot of fun catching up with some familiar faces and between matches kept busy either talking to opposition players (Summerbee and Brightwell) or practising for the next game pitch-side (Curle and Sheron did that the most) But they also had time to speak to Football Pundette about what they think about the takeover at their former club. Did they think that City have got what it takes to be a top four success?

Nicky Summerbee: “I still get down to City when I can. I went about four or five times last season but will definitely be going there more this season. I am very excited about the whole thing at City at the minute to be honest. I think it could be City’s turn, certainly over the next two or three years. We should start to get a couple of trophies in.”

Ian Brightwell: “City have always been my first team, I supported them as a kid. I was so lucky to play for them in the first team line-up so I always follow their progress. It’s great to see what’s happening there at the moment. A lot of people are having a go saying that money can’t buy you success, but if they buy the right players and the manager gets the right blend, there’s no reason we can’t go on to win the Premier League. I wouldn’t say it would be in the next couple of years, but certainly in the long-term. If the investment keeps coming in, City will definitely be up there in the top four.

Paul Simpson: “There are massive changes going on at City and I am sure the amount of players they have got coming in will take a while to bed in. But they got a very, very good young manager there. He has got the experience even though he is still a young fella and they have made some tremendous signings. It all looks good for them at the moment.”

Finally...a view from a player who has played for both City and United, Andrei Kanchelskis. The Russian spoke broken English but didn’t hold back in his opinions.

“I only played for City for a short time. I played at United for four years and I always had great times there. It was a great team with great fans and my heart still belongs there.

“City now have a lot of money and some good players, the potential is there. But United still remain the best team in England, it will be difficult for City despite the money to compete with the better teams in the Premier League. Maybe in 10 years time or so they might have a chance. We will see.”

Roll on August!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Here's a picture of the City boys meeting up with none other than Nelson Mandela during their pre-season visit to South Africa.

The team gave Nelson a City shirt with '91' on the back, in reference to the former presidents 91st birthday which he celebrated last week. Mark Hughes was honoured to meet Mandela.

"He's an inspirational figure and none of us that were lucky enough to meet him will forget today."

Great picture from the camp!

In other news, City strikers Ched Evans and Felipe Caicedo have departed the City of Manchester Stadium. Evans has moved to Sheffield United in a deal worth £3 million and Caicedo is heading to Sporting Lisbon on a season-long loan.

"City will be edging out Arsenal for fourth spot at the very least"

Paul Lake lived out every football fans dream by playing for the team he loves, but his career was cut tragically short by injury. In the final part of an exclusive interview, Paul talks to Football Pundette about what it was like playing in THAT 5-1 victory and how City will be part of the ‘Top Four’ sooner rather than later.

Although Paul’s career was cut terribly short, his time at City was filled with a plethora of fantastic memories, including the time that the blues beat Huddersfield Town 10-1 and, more importantly, the 5-1 derby victory in 1989.

“With the 10-1 game, quite a few of us were passengers. Neil McNab scored a cracking goal with his left foot and then it was just the David White, Tony Adcock, Paul Stewart show. Paul Stewart was the main provider; we just kept it simple, passed it steady and didn’t really get involved. It could have been a lot more than 10 and that game was enjoyable to be a part of but I didn’t really have that much of a part to play it in.

“The 5-1 was my most memorable game. Alongside making my home debut as captain, although I am the shortest captain in City history which saddens me but it is just circumstance there really. But I honestly believe that the skills and the patience of the likes of Ken Barnes, Tony Book and Glyn Pardoe nurtured and galvanised us that day. We came to Maine Road that day so fired up: I saw Andy Hinchcliffe and David White kicking doors and walls and that wasn’t in their nature, they were just so fired up.”

“We never thought for one second that we would get beat”

“We led by example. It took the Kippax spillage for everybody to calm down, but when we came back and scored the first goal there was only ever going to be one result. We never thought for one second that we would get beat. Every time United got going, we would press them down and get the ball. We would force them back- they never got out of their half. We dominated the game. In the second half we had a little blip, that was when Mark Hughes (ironically) scored his goal and they had a couple of chances. There was a slight wobble.

“When you have players like Gary Fleming, who for me on the day was man of the match: he mopped everything up. He was a bit of an unsung hero in that game. He saw things; he read things and those were his main attributes really. Also, I was substituted for my best friend Jason Beckford and he had 10 minutes to experience the magnitude of the game. I was really pleased for him that he experienced it as well.

“All in all it was a fantastic day. I honestly believe it was the skills of Barnes, Book and Pardoe that got us to that day. It was an amazing occasion and we will always have that in history; I was a part of that and I will happily take that to my grave.”

So now Paul looks forward to seeing what will happen in the future at his beloved blues. The takeover has fascinated him as much as it has the fans and he is very excited at what lies ahead at Eastlands, although he would have liked to play amongst the team of 2009 as well as 1989.

“This isn’t me being arrogant, but I know that I could have played today, I felt so confident and strong. I would like to think with being more mature that I could have told the players what it meant to put on the sky blue shirt. I feel like the meaning of that has been lost during the last 10 years of football. The pride and the history of wearing that shirt has been lost somewhere. Without the financial side of it, never in a million years would Robinho have signed for City. When he’s on fire I love watching him play; I used to love watching the likes of Rodney Marsh and Peter Barnes play. I love a bit of skill and flair.”

“My heart belongs to Maine Road”

“I would have loved to have played at the new stadium as part of the new set-up with these world class players. But at the same time, my heart belongs to Maine Road. It’s all I ever knew, all I ever experienced, all I wanted to experience. I never wanted to play for anybody else. We had such great guys in the side too; great players who knew what it meant to play for City, to wear the sky blue shirt and how much it meant to the fans. That two-way entity seems to have been lost. I just wish there was some way, somebody to galvanise the team to make them realise just how much it means to put on that sky blue shirt. Maybe Mark Hughes can get that back.

“I think now that the way City are looking, and we have brought in some quality players like Carlos Tevez and Santa Cruz, who for me is that archetypal centre forward that we have been missing, it’s looking good. There’s now added incentives for the likes of Robinho, Nigel De Jong, Craig Bellamy, Micah Richards, Stevie Ireland, Vincent Kompany but there’s now going to be an expectation from these players, they are going to have to really perform, which is great. We should always keep raising the bar.

“I’m sure Mark Hughes will keep raising the bar and he knows what is expected from him. I like the fact that he is not very mouthy and that he doesn’t jump about and get too animated. He’s calm and controlled. I think over the years it will be a case that people will stand up and notice Hughes and hopefully it will be the case that City will have to try and keep hold of him, rather that City giving him a chance.

“I was speaking to the President of the Hazel Grove branch the other day and he said to me ‘Lakey, I need to see City win something. I don’t really care how we do it. I need us to win a trophy in my lifetime so I can go to my grave a happy man.’ Whether that success is with products of the academy would be an absolute bonus, but it’s going to be tough for these guys to even get a sniff, but they deserve a chance.

“We have got the flair and the ability”

“I think we have a good blend now. I think it will take this season for the real superstars of the world to take notice of City. But now the pressure is on, and it’s a good pressure. For City to be anything like that we have got to be going for the top five this season at the very minimum. The players like Micah and Nedum Onuoha have really got to come to the forefront and step it right up, hold their own week in week out. We have got very good players, but we haven’t got world class players because they haven’t been able to maintain that consistency.

“That’s why we have to go to places like Stoke City, Hull City, Birmingham and Wolves and put them to the sword, that’s where you need your steel to just get the points. We have got a nice balance now of steel and flair, whereas before we didn’t. In all respect to Robinho he is still a young guy and imagine the equivalent of Micah Richards marking you week in week out, somebody bigger and stronger with more muscle than Robinho. Then it takes the quality that you have around you to make it work. So not only does Robinho need to grow up more and be more consistent, but the players around him need to help him out more. But now Barry will help Robinho out immensely and Santa Cruz will be a target man for Robinho to play off with.

“When that consistency comes, I think we will be edging out the likes of Arsenal for that fourth spot, at the very least. I really think we will. I think Aston Villa and Everton won’t be able to compete. That’s the reason that Mark wants Joleon Lescott; we have got the flair, got the ability, but we need to build on that steel to be adamant of consistency. I think when that is accomplished we will be a top four season within a couple of seasons.”

Paul is going to be featuring on a new 95.1FM BBC Radio Manchester show with Ian Cheeseman. 'Blue Tuesday' is a City-based, interactive show starting on Tuesday 18th August at 6-7pm on 95.1 FM. Look out for more details of the show exclusively on

Sunday, 19 July 2009

City have bolstered their strike-force by completing the signing of Emmanuel Adebayor from Arsenal.

Adebayor, 25, passed a medical yesterday and signed on a five-year deal for an undisclosed fee rumoured to be around £25 million.

The Togo striker joins summer signings Carlos Tevez and Roque Santa Cruz upfront and is expected to meet up with the City squad for their pre-season tour in South Africa.

Speaking about the welcome he received at the City of Manchester Stadium, Adebayor earlier told the club's official website: "It made me feel really welcome and special and I can't wait to play for City's fans and show them what I can do.
"I was born to play football and that is what I want to do. I have come here to make history for this club and those supporters.”

Thursday, 16 July 2009

"I couldn't go to the ground to watch the games it hurt me that much"

Paul Lake lived out every football fans dream by playing for the team he loves, but his career was cut tragically short by injury. In the second part of an exclusive interview, Paul talks to Football Pundette about his injury hell and how he was robbed of living out his City ambitions.
Paul's career was flourishing. He had been tipped by the City manager Howard Kendall to be the next England captain and literally had the world at his feet. Then came the Aston Villa game...
“The way I was playing up until the night of the Aston Villa game and the night the England manager was watching me, I had been told by Howard Kendall that I was being tipped to be the next England captain. Since then, Alex Ferguson has come up to me and told me that he tried to sign me, along with Kenny Dalglish, Greame Souness, George Graham and David Pleat. When you have got Arsenal, Liverpool, Rangers, United and Spurs trying to sign you then you have got something going. I was confident, I felt really excited about the season. The game against Villa, I’d been on a little mazy run and nut-megged Paul McGrath and I felt fantastic. It was such a shock to the system when it happened.

“I was told initially that I had a twisted knee. Now I am a physiotherapist and knowing what I know now, you can only imagine just how ridiculous that diagnosis was. I don’t blame the medical staff at City because they didn’t know any better; they wanted the best for me. But in hindsight, a little bit more thought and a second opinion would have really been a big help. That goes for the orthopaedic side as well, the person who they chosen to do my operation could have been changed. Ironically, when mine failed twice, the strong advice to go and see the guy who fixed both Richard Edghill and Niall Quinn’s cruciate injuries fell on deaf ears shall we say.

“When I first did my knee, I was told that I had a twisted knee- back in six weeks. I call recall doing work up and down the Kippax, running up and down and everything was in a straight line. I could do all the straight line stuff in the world and it was never going to help- to test the knee should have been to twist and turn it too. So my first day back on the training pitches I collapsed in a heap and it was a comedy of this going on and on until one day I collapsed, my face was in the mud and something was drastically wrong. That is when I saw a consultant and was told that I had ruptured my cruciate ligament. The scary thing was that, at that time, I was probably doing more damage every time I trained for that six week period leading up to my first operation.”

“Sue Manchester City? I just couldn't do it”

“I wasn’t to know. I was a footballer that had put my faith in other people’s hands. It should be that if you don’t know, you find somebody that does and you check it and re-check it. That is something that I find hard to swallow. Then I had to go out for an operation and build it up, I was told it would take about six months but within three months because I had worked so hard I was told that I could go back out onto the pitches to do some ball control. The first day of ball work, it re-ruptured because it was too soon. Again, it was being falsely advised on what to do.

“Maybe City fans thought that I wasn’t strong enough and that it wasn’t to be, but when they actually know what happened and what went still hurts to this day. Now I’ve got to have a total knee replacement: that will be my 18th operation on it. Not only that but I’ve got to now have my left knee straightened as for years it has been compensating for my right knee, so my left has got to be broken and then reset.

“I remember talking to a solicitor at the time who said ‘let me take over your case and sue Manchester City. Whatever you imagine you will get at your testimonial, you will get 10 times that because of what’s happened’. When you are in your darkest moments and you are lying in a hospital bed for the second and third time and the only people that seem to care are the fans, you do think about it. But it was me being such a big City fan that thought how could I sue the club that I had been a part of and love? I just couldn’t do it. I look at my mortgage now and think back to that. But there’s more to life than money. A lot more.”

“Nobody had the gumption and bollocks”

“But I can honestly say, from 1990 to 2000, apart from the birth of my son, those 10 years were the worst period of my life. I was taking anti-depressants, I couldn’t go to the ground to watch the games it hurt that much. I tried and tried and I wish in hindsight that somebody would have come to me in 1992/93 and just said it’s not going to work out, just stop. I retired in 1996 and had put myself, my knee and my emotional state through hell really.

“I had nothing in my corner, nobody who actually said ‘let’s look at what is available for you’. Knowing the potential that I had to offer the club, why didn’t they look at the best at cruciate ligaments? That’s my regrets; that nobody had the gumption, the nouce and the bollocks to recognise that it was my life they were talking about and to actually take the time out to investigate the best options for me. It was a combination of the surgery and the recovery, and I rushed my recovery back by about three months on somebody’s recommendation. That’s what hurts me the most, that I trusted people.

“My goal was to be the most capped player for City. That was my dream. It hurts to know that I had the potential to achieve it. I’d like to have thought that would have been a realistic goal for me. It’s a combination of not having the correct advice and knowing what might have been. On a positive note, to have City fans hold me in such a high regard considering how little games I played for the club, that comforts me a lot. It helps in those dark times of reflection over everything that has happened.”
In the final part of my interview, Paul talks about City’s famous 5-1 derby day victory at Maine Road and the future for both himself and City.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

At the moment I’m working on a new radio show for BBC Radio Manchester. City commentator Ian Cheeseman and City legend Paul Lake are going to be hosting an innovative and flagship show based entirely on anything and everything to do with the blues and we want YOU!

The show will be on every Tuesday at 6-7pm starting on August 18th on 95.1FM and we will be focusing on interactivity with YOU, the fans. So each week we will be looking through message boards, fan forums and networking sites to pick out interesting and topical issues concerning City. We will have studio guests, from supporters’ club branches to get involved, and lively humorous debates for YOU to have YOUR say. We will also have exclusive interviews and highlights from the matches as well as other features.

This is your City. This is your football club. Get involved. If you have something you would like to say or you would like to be a studio guest, email me at

The ongoing transfer saga of Carlos Tevez has finally reached a conclusion as the Argentinian striker sealed a switch to City in a deal worth £25 million.

Tevez, 25, has reportedly signed a five-year deal to move across from Stretford to Eastlands and will join up with City for their pre-season tour in South Africa. Manager Mark Hughes is delighted the saga had been resolved and tipped Tevez for the top.

"I cannot wait to welcome him to City. He is not only outstanding technically but he is a reliable goalscorer and someone who will contribute fully to the team ethic. He gives us another exciting attacking dimension."

Tevez will face his former team-mates in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford on September 19th.

Monday, 13 July 2009

"The most exciting thing that has happened to me in my lifetime was playing for Manchester City"

Paul Lake lived out every football fans dream by playing for the team he loves, but his career was cut tragically short by injury. In the first part of an exclusive interview, Lake talks to Football Pundette about how he almost died for the City cause and what playing for his team really meant to him.

As a City fan and journalist, I had always been interested in interviewing Paul Lake. His career was emerging just as my love for the blues was flourishing. But that career was brought to a shocking and painfully short end just as it should have been blossoming, when Paul suffered a cruciate knee injury during the 1990/91 season. He was 22.

Paul had been tipped for the very top by fans, pundits and managers alike. In this three-part, in-depth interview I wanted to get to the heart and soul of the former City player and offer an insight into Paul’s career and opinions, starting from the very beginning.

“I played football from the age of six with my elder brothers. They were good footballers; I played with them and got kicked around, I got bullied a lot with their friends who were a lot older than me. I was playing above my own age and holding my own. As I got to the age of 10 I had the City scouts watching me as well as Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur scouts.

“I’d been taken to see City from a young age by our milkman. My brother, Michael, and I would alternate weeks when we would go and watch the game as he used to have a spare season ticket. So Albert would take either Michael or myself. We would go and see City at Maine Road and the smells, the sounds, Helen’s bell. We would bring a cushion with us and park in the same place just off Kippax Street. You just get hooked and it becomes a big part of your life. The first time I saw City I was completely and utterly hooked. From that point on that was all I wanted to do- play for City.

“I couldn’t wait for my turn”

“We got a little taster of playing at Maine Road when we were playing for the reserves on the first team pitch. I played when I was just 16 for the reserves. I was nervous, apprehensive but very, very excited as well. Once I had a taste of it and we got used to it we trained with the first team guys and played with the youth team. I did particularly well with the youth team; we won the Youth Cup final. Stevie Redmond had already played for the first team and then slowly but surely Whitey (David White), Reddo (Steve Redmond) and Brightwell (Ian Brightwell) were all getting a taste of it. I couldn’t wait for my turn.

“When I made my home debut, against Luton Town, I wanted to do so well that the nerves got the better of me. I didn’t particularly enjoy the occasion because I didn’t want to let anybody down. I scored but didn’t play particularly well and we drew 1-1. After that I sat down and calmed myself down.

“It’s hard to describe. As you came down the astro turf going down the tunnel and it opens up and the first thing that hits you is the Kippax stand, there’s not a feeling like it. People talk about the adrenaline being that high and that exciting, it’s like the guys that used to be in the Wars on D-day, it is that kind of feeling of euphoria and excitement. That was my D-day really. Every time I pulled on that sky blue shirt it meant that much to me. From being eight years of age and a huge City fan that is all I wanted to do. So as you can appreciate, playing for the youth team, playing for the reserves and the first team, and coming out and hearing the roar from the Kippax, there’s not a feeling that can match it.

“We all talk about having families, wives, wedding days, children born and that’s a different entity altogether. The most exciting thing that has ever happened to me in my lifetime was pulling on that sky blue shirt, walking down the tunnel at Maine Road and playing for Manchester City. Soon later, that 5-1 game encapsulated all of those feelings in one and it has taken years later to watch the DVDs of the games for me to realise what I was part of and how much it meant.

“It would be very difficult for me to pick out which player was the best that I played alongside because every player brought little bits extra to the table. Steve Redmond was so assured, so supremely confident and didn’t seem to put a foot wrong. Andy Hinchcliffe had a left foot that could rewire the back of a television he was that good. Whitey’s pace, his constant threat and positivity; we almost had a telepathic relationship as I would be able to find David, knew where we wanted it and knew where he would be. Brightwell was everywhere: he would play in any position, give his all and never let anyone down. He was the most athletic and competitive guy I had ever played with.

“Then you have got Ian Scott; he was talented, left foot, right foot, he could pass a ball anywhere. He had that controlling effect in the middle of the field. Paul Moulden, he was the best player I had seen in the 18-yard box: his low sense of gravity, his movement, his aggression, his strength and his sharpness over five yards was the reason why he was so good. My best friend Jason Beckford never fulfilled his potential. He had great skill and on his day could actually win a game by himself.

“If you think of all of those players combined, I can honestly say I would pick individual parts out of every player that would make the perfect footballer, but I couldn’t pick out one that was the best. They were all of an even keel.”

In 1988, when City played Leicester City at Maine Road, Paul almost died on the pitch when he swallowed his tongue. It was the quick-thinking actions of the club’s doctor that saved his life that day and Paul relived the memory of that day when he was sent a copy of the game to watch.

“I went into a convulsive state”

“Well I was sent the video of the game to watch, macabre as it may sound. My idea of what happened that day was pretty much how I saw the game unfold. Basically what happened was Roy Bailey (City’s former physiotherapist) had treated Trevor Morley in the corner of the pitch near the North Stand. City had a corner in front of the Platt Lane end: it was a bizarre corner, similar to the ones that United used to work where Ryan Giggs would pass it to the edge of the box for Paul Scholes to volley in.

“So this corner was pinged out to the edge of the box, I think it was just a badly taken corner. I went to head the ball and Gordon Ramsey head-butted my temple. It was the way that I landed. I didn’t move, that’s when one or two players were a little bit concerned and started shouting for Bailey’s help. It was the fans that were shouting Roy to come for me. That’s when I went into a convulsive state and started to twitch uncontrollably. At that point Redmond began to scream and Neil McNab turned away because he couldn’t watch. Eventually the club doctor managed to come down from sitting next to Peter Swales in the Main Stand. Him and Roy got me onto my side and pulled out my tongue.

“One of the weirdest things was afterwards. I was in the first aid room under the stairs at Maine Road and I woke up to three females crying. Me first words were “who has died?” The immediate reply was “nearly you”. It was one of the girls from upstairs, my then-girlfriend and my mum, they were all in tears. Ironically, as soon as I fell to the ground, my mum began shouting and screaming saying that I had swallowed my tongue. The incident set a precedent and, as a consequence, it was made legal that doctors had to be pitch-side at all games. Out of that horrible incident came something positive.

“Another irony was that Trevor Morley scored a complete hat-trick that day: with his left foot, right foot and header. But all of the press coverage was towards me and how I was recovering, with not even a mention to Trevor’s first hat-trick. So he sent me a card in hospital thanking me for ruining his day!”

In the second part of my interview, Paul talks about what it was like to be involved in City’s famous 5-1 derby day victory at Maine Road and opens up about the turmoil behind his injury nightmare.

City defender Micah Richards is making a good recovery from swine flu after being diagnosed by it this weekend.

Richards is currently on holiday in Ayia Napa in Cyprus and is said to have contracted the virus after initially thinking it could be alcohol poisoning or a chest infection.

But Richards' publicist Max Clifford has spoken out insisting the England under-21 player is firmly on the road to recovery.

"He is fine. He is virtually back to his old self now and can't wait to get back home."

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Ah Rafa Benitez. The Spaniard is clearly feeling a tad threatened by the competition he will be facing from the blue half of Manchester this season so he's spoken out protesting against the open chequebook that City have been using this summer.

First this week we had Harry Redknapp bemoaning the fact that Mark Hughes had snapped up both Roque Santa Cruz and Gareth Barry before Spurs even had a chance to compete (he admitted they can't compete financially of course), and now Rafa. Speaking out against City's expenditure is so in trend right now it should feature in Twitter's top 10 topics. It's becoming tedious and boring.

If you read between the lines of some of Benitez's quotes, it's clear that he is showing as little respect to both Hughes and City as possible.

"Manchester City and big clubs in Europe are spending big money, so the market has changed and we have to work harder." Manchester City and big we're spending on a scale of the biggest club in the world, Real Madrid, but we're not regarded as one. Nice one Rafa.

"We did go back again for Barry, but as I said. it is all about money, money, money. It is as simple as that." Football is a business, what do you expect?

"City have signed a lot of good players, but that is no guarantee they will win anything. But it will be interesting to see what happens next season. Whatever happens, experience is more important and we feel that we have that to be in the top positions." Interesting to see, so he is certainly curious as to what City's spending could lead to, is that the Spaniard's indirect way of actually regarding Hughes' team as a threat?

The spending will continue. Both the Samuel Eto'o and Carlos Tevez situations remain unresolved, the results of which could bring yet more tirades of moaning and jealousy from rival managers who only wish they had a golden pot of cash to play with. You had your takeover Benitez, it isn't anybody's fault that they don't speak to each other and grant you an infinite money wand to wave around.

Don't get me wrong, when Daniel Sturridge was at City there was no denying his growing potential. He was rightly earmarked as a hot prospect for the future and was widely described as a 'rough diamond' tipped for big things.

There is also no denying that he became too big for his football boots. His arrogance and cockney persona frustrated fans that were looking forward to seeing Sturridge fulfil his potential at Eastlands. Eventually, with contract talks dragged out due to Sturridge's outrageous and unrealistic wage demands, no compromise was met and the player left for Stamford Bridge.

Even with the amount of money behind City at the moment, the club would have been foolish to bow down to the demands of a precocious Sturridge. Yes he had potential, but it was largely unfulfilled. You only have to look at Stephen Ireland to realise what rewards hard work and determination- he has a bumper wage every week and 46,000 fans referring to him as 'Superman' due to a summer of incredible graft and physical dedication.

So now Sturridge has been unveiled in London with new boss Carlo Ancelotti and he couldn't wait to unleash verbal swipes at his former club to the baying media crowd.

"Manchester City are a completely different club to Chelsea. I have signed for Chelsea and City are in the past. Myself and Mark Hughes didn't have any talks about me leaving City.

"I want to win as many trophies as I can. I am not saying Man City have not got ambitions for the Champions League or for any competition but the main thing for me was to come to Chelsea to better me as a player."

The final insult of all was a direct response by Sturridge to the incessant rumours and speculation linking Chelsea favourite John Terry with a move to City.

"I will become a man here. The likes of John Terry will push me on to become a better player."

Let’s hope you do become a man there Daniel. You could do with growing up fast.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009 article

I remember when my love affair with Manchester City began. The Hillsborough tragedy had rocked the world of football and the blue half of Manchester had romped to a 5-1 derby day victory. Alex Ferguson was on the verge of being given the boot and a promising young talent called Paul Lake was being tipped to be the next England captain.

I inherited the blue gene through my older brother Simon. He heavily influenced my decision and I watched my first game in the spring of 1994. The football that City played at the time was exciting, if inconsistent, and featured the likes of Tony Coton, Uwe Rosler and Paul Walsh. After watching my first 90 minutes of action I was instantly hooked.

I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. Weeks after being allowed to go to my first game, my team was on the wrong end of a 5-0 derby thumping and the bad times began to roll. When City were relegated from the Premier League in 1995, the managerial revolving door began to spin. Going into school became a battleground: a hellish nightmare littered with insults and derogatory remarks about my team. I was faced with ‘fans’ of the likes of Liverpool and United who came down on me hard yet had never been to football games.

The journey at Maine Road continued to spiral out of control at a frenetic pace. Through Asa Hartford, Steve Coppell, Phil Neal and Frank Clark, every season started with renewed optimism and finished with unequivocal disappointment. Yet my loyalty flourished. I remember heading to Maine Road most Saturdays just hoping to see some passion, some fight, perhaps a glimmer of magic from twinkled-toed Georgi Kinkladze. Just something that would offer hope and brighten up an otherwise mundane 90 minutes.

Through Division Two with Joe Royle, the incredible Wembley play-off final of 1999, the unorthodox hero that was Shaun Goater, the ecstasy of returning to the Premier League and the agony of getting relegated yet again, each and every City fan has remained defiant and determined. Kevin Keegan’s cavalier and exciting goal-scoring escapades brought winning ways back to Maine Road before the blues departed for the City of Manchester stadium.

The term roller-coaster ride has never been more appropriate and fitting. Stuart Pearce’s efforts post-Keegan were honourable, if not ultimately successful.The arrival of Sven Goran Eriksson and the promises of Thaksin Shinawatra signalled towards a bright new era, but the Swede’s time in the Eastlands hot-seat was tragically short-lived, for reasons much-debated. Sven was gone and Thaksin’s ethics and morals were being questioned on a daily basis. Then came the takeover...

For a long time, Manchester City have been treated as the circus act of football, with the national press taking great pleasure of lapping up every new ringmaster or poking fun at City’s inability to maintain consistency in both results and managers. The takeover at City has unnerved and sent shock waves through the world of football. A plethora of questions have been reoccurring throughout the media tirade. How dare ‘little’ City attempt to buy the likes of Kaka and John Terry? Who do they think they are? Just because they have an endless pot of gold and are willing to offer astronomical wages, who are they to think they can buy their route to success, despite their lack of European football this season?

The fact is, football is a business, whether we like it or not. It seems quite acceptable that the likes of Chelsea and Real Madrid can offer huge transfer deals and inflated wages, but when City partake in the practise they are seen to be ‘ruining football’. It is ambition: even being in the market to sign such big name players is showing how ambitious the club has become and where Sheikh Mansour, Garry Cook and Mark Hughes want the club to be within football.

Are fans of football really naive enough to think that any club can realistically break into the Top Four in the Premier League without financial aid? It’s about time that the order was shaken up and the predictability of the European spots was challenged and encouraged. I think the reason to the backlash against City can be posed by a simple question: why City? Well, why not? I’m sure if it would have been Fulham or Forest their fans would be delighted and excited at what the future could hold.

As a fan, there have been utterly dismal times. There have been times where I have been forced into questioning both my sanity and my loyalty but throughout I have kept a vigil, hoping against hope that my loyalty throughout the lows will eventually be rewarded. But there have been highs, littered with the good humour and spirit of the blue army. Being a City fan is rooted in loyalty: it’s about backing your team through the good and bad. It’s not thinking twice about renewing your season ticket despite relegation; turning up come rain or shine. Loyalty is something inspired when things aren’t as good as they should be, yet celebrated when your team’s the most in-form side in the Premier League.

City will inevitably encounter glory fans, success invites them in droves. But the real City fans who have been there through the turmoil and the triumph and come out smiling as ever will be aware of what a journey it has been- and it’s only just beginning. Who knows what the future may hold, but it surely won’t be long before the tide will begin to turn, and people will have to take us seriously as a prominent force. People should embrace change with optimism and hope and salute the ambition and tenacity of a club determined to make its mark on football.

City striker Jo has rejoined Everton on a season-long loan.

The 22 year old Brazilian enjoyed a relatively successful spell at the Toffees during the second half of last season, scoring five goals in 12 league appearances. He was forced to watch David Moyes' F.A. Cup run from the sidelines, having been cup-tied from featuring for City earlier in the competition.

Jo has passed a medical and has now met up with the club's pre-season training camp in Scotland. Everton manager Moyes has admitted that he would struggle to finance a tranfer move for the striker after his initial £18 million move to City from CSKA Moscow.
Meanwhile, Daniel Sturridge has opted to join Chelsea with the fee set to be decided by a tribunal. City refused to meet Sturridge's audacious wage demands, with the youngster yet to have proven his possible potential.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

"Francis Lee always wanted his own man, but I came out smelling of roses"

He led City to 6th in the Premier League and the quarter finals of the League Cup but was dismissed at the end of season 1994/95, now he's the assistant manager of Hull City. Brian Horton talks to Football Pundette about his high regard for the blue side of Manchester.

Before Brian Horton's appointment at Manchester City by then-chairman Peter Swales in 1993, the passionate Staffordshire-born manager had managed at both Hull City and Oxford United, saving the latter from relegation. Yet when he arrived at Maine Road he was referred to as 'Brian Who'? Within games he had City playing a charismatic, infectious style of football and signed the likes of Uwe Rosler and Paul Walsh. But when former blue Francis Lee took over as chairman, Horton's days were numbered. Football Pundette grabbed a chat with the man who is tipping his former club for the top...

FP: What made you want to become a footballer?

BH: I was just into football in a big way. I played for my school team as well as playing for my county and district teams. That’s all I ever did. My dad was a good player and it was the only thing I ever wanted to do.

FP: Was football management always an area you wanted to move into?

BH: Well you never think about it. When you’re playing, say between the ages of 27 to 31, you don’t really think about it to be honest. At that kind of stage in your career you are just enjoying playing football and there’s nothing like being a player. Managing is the second best thing basically. But it wasn’t until I got to about 32 when I actually thought about what I was going to do after football. I wanted to stay in football in some capacity. So I played until I was 34 and then went into player-management.

FP: When you were appointed Manchester City manager by Peter Swales, how difficult was it at first, both in the dressing room and with the supporters, dealing with the ‘Brian Who’ response to your appointment?

BH: It wasn’t a problem. I’d had 10 years in football management; nearly five years at Hull City. I had four years at Oxford United and kept them up. I’d done my apprenticeship. I’ve always been a confident person. Going there, I knew the style of football the City fans would want, it’s the style of football I’ve always played as a manager, what I’ve had a reputation for. I won them over by winning games. The ‘Brian Who’ thing didn’t bother me at all, that was just a stupid, pathetic journalist trying to be clever. I won them over by only losing one game of football in my first 10. They loved my football and the players that I was bringing in. It was never a problem for me.

FP: Did the off-the-pitch boardroom tug-of-war with Swales and Francis Lee have any effect on you as a manager?

BH: It didn’t have an effect on me, it had an effect on other people. It had an effect on the media, as they were all speculating and even more so on the players because they didn’t know which direction the club was going in. But as a manager you just have to get on with it, which I did. The fans loved my football. You can’t let things like that effect you as a football manager.

FP: When Lee was appointed as chairman at City, did you feel under any added pressure to achieve success?

BH: Well, he wanted his own man. That was almost obvious from the start so in that sense it was always an uphill battle for me. But I came out smelling of roses because the fans didn’t really want me to go and we were only a couple of players off being a very good team. But that’s football- you have to live with that.

FP: You made many good signings at City, including the likes of Uwe Rosler and Paul Walsh. Who do you regard to be your best signing and why?

BH: There was a few good signings. Walshy (Paul Walsh), Beags (Peter Beagrie), Nicky Summerbee, Uwe (Rosler) and I liked some of the players that were there. They were fantastic and they showed me respect when I came. I did come from a smaller club, but the likes of Tony Coton, he was first class. I gave new contracts to Garry Flitcroft and Keith Curle. Niall Quinn was first class, it was just a shame he picked up his injury. There were some good players and good people there, so it was a good dressing room.

FP: During season 1994/95, you took City to 6th in the Premier League, the quarter finals of the Coca Cola Cup and ensured the club’s survival in the top flight. How harsh a decision do you think your dismissal was?

BH: Well, at the time everybody thought that we were going to Wembley. We had beaten Newcastle away but we suffered a poor defeat against Crystal Palace in the quarter finals and Steve Lomas broke his leg in that game. Then we got a few injuries and finished the season off deflated after being up there. But as I say, I knew deep down that Lee wanted his own man in there so it was inevitable.

FP: It’s rumoured that you found out about your sacking at City from reading the newspaper headlines that day. How powerful do you think the media are nowadays within football?

BH: It’s massive. Since the introduction of Sky, the sport is played out every single minute every single day. In the national press, players are treated like film stars and it’s moved on a million miles. The profile of managers, player s and’s unbelievable, it really is. It’s for the good of the game though, good luck to the players. It’s helped everybody to be fair. In terms of media, it’s moved on a million miles.

FP: You commentated on City’s Division Two play-off final game at Wembley in 1999 and uttered the words: ‘That’s it, that’s game over!’ when Gillingham’s second goal went in. How did you feel when Nicky Weaver saved Guy Butters’ penalty, securing City’s promotion?

BH: (Laughs) Well I think I also used the words ‘I can’t see any way back’. City fans and players won’t let me forget that moment to be perfectly truthful! (laughs). Every City fan always reminds me of that! So I remind them that they were walking out of the stadium at that time as well so they didn’t think there was a way back. I’m delighted they did it. The way the game panned out was unbelievable, but you couldn’t see any way back for City as they hadn’t virtually ran out of time. I was pleased in the end, but I get reminded of that comment all the time!

FP: Are City a club that you still have high regard for? Do you think the recent takeover is just another circus act or are the club’s ambitions realistic?

BH: No. I think it is very ambitious, but one that is a fantastic takeover because the club and the fans are just waiting there to win something aren’t they. It will happen sooner rather than later. They are some of the best fans and best people that I have ever come across. I still live in Manchester now and I love to go to City. I’m always well received by the people there. Bernard Halford and all his staff always look after me fantastically there. I think that speaks volumes about the time I spent there. People still talk about some of the games from that era; the Tottenham game, the Blackburn game...some of the games were fantastic . I love going back there and I still do lots of things when I can for the supporters.

FP: You have been assistant manager at Hull City for two seasons now. What are yours and Phil Brown’s ambitions for the 2009/10 season?

BH: Well we have done fantastically well. When Phil first got the job and I went with him, getting into the Premier League was part of a three-year plan but we got there in one and that was amazing. We were playing in front of packed houses, we had a great start to the Premier League campaign and just to stay in there is fantastic. Phil and I have a great relationship, along with Steve Parkin, the other coach in the equation and the chairman. We are just planning for our third season now and it’s been a wonderful ride so far. Very exciting times. I’ve just turned 60; I’ve had 45 years in football and I still enjoy it as much as my first day. That’s the main thing about football, you should just enjoy it. Sometimes it’s not enjoyable when you are under pressure and are enduring sackings, but that’s just part and parcel of the game. When you are having good times it’s a wonderful sport to be involved in.