Writer: Andy Leggott
Date:Sunday January 7 2007
The transfer window can't swing shut quick enough for many Blues yet this could be the most important few weeks our club has faced for some time.
A season that has been flirting on and off with disaster has transformed into one of guarded optimism inside a fortnight. If we can hold on to our star men and bring in the striking quality and midfield creativity we all know we require, then we can realistically look towards an exciting second half of the season.
We need momentum to go along with bringing in the right players and three wins on the bounce before the FA Cup encounter in Sheffield has given us just that. Only a few years ago Ali Benarbia arrived at Maine Road one January. The rest is history and a similar signing with that vision would get Eastlands buzzing and the Blues who are rightly concerned at developments within our great club back on song.
There is, as there will be again in the summer, the opportunity to offload characters such as Hamman, Corradi, Dickov, Reyna, D. Mills and Sinclair who are all past their sell by/perform by/be fit by date. However, we cannot rule out unwelcome outside interference in the squad especially from footballing Frankenstein's monsters such as Chelski or even the rags. Much as I would be very disappointed to see City accept a massive financial bid for the terrific talent of Micah Richards, I've been increasingly concerned at some Blues voicing their approval for a swap deal involving Richards and the Chelski benchwarmer, the Macclesfield Town nemesis Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Micah Richards is a far better all round player than SWP with the potential to be an all time great. The options he gives SP are more than SWP ever could. Kenyon and the Chelski regime know it. If MCFC are to stand a chance of winning any trophy ever again we have to hold on to brilliant Academy stars like Richards.
That said, SWP's disastrous move to Chelski will hopefully put off Richard's agent from going after a big pay day, for now....
It's alleged that SWP's family were searching for houses in the south east for him month's before he announced he wanted to speak to Chelski. If that were the case, what price loyalty? Others say he was forced out of Eastlands by a desperate boardroom. The jury remains out. Whatever the issues surrounding SWP's departure from MCFC, in purely footballing terms, losing Richards for someone who some Chelski followers allege has lost all confidence and cannot even trap a ball would be a serious backward step.
It would be stunning for modern day sanitised and greed ridden English football to see a player like Richards choose to stay with City over the likes of multi billion dollar fuelled regimes like Abramovich and Glazer's that have made a mockery of the word 'competition.'
So here's a January message for John Wardle and the City board. We have already missed out on players with the calibre of Daniel Van Buyten. We have gone from Anelka via penalty specialist Fowler to Dickov, from SWP to Sinclair and have failed abysmally to replace Benarbia, Berkovic and Foe. You sell anymore MCFC Academy stars such as Richards and Joey Barton and the Blue seats at home games will increase. Just as our squad is starting to show signs of coming together under SP, after the berserker of reckless spending under Mad Kev after David Bernstein was ousted, You'll also be sending a message to an ambitious manager who remains on a learning curve in the job that you have no intention of making Manchester City a force in football again. So make a statement.
Writer: Johnny Baguette
Date:Sunday January 7 2007
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