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Inside Eastlands - home of City's slickers

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Dan Walker | 14:24 UK time, Tuesday, 15 September 2009

I am a pretty bad packer at the best of times. I always leave it late and never take enough pants. When you also have two little girls - both in nappies - to get ready, deadlines get pushed.

Last Thursday, the plan was to drive to Sheffield, drop the family off with the in-laws and then head to Manchester first thing Friday morning to film for Focus and get ready for Saturday's show. When I got back from work at 6.30pm I already feared for our 8pm departure deadline seeing as my wife, Sarah, was sparked out on the sofa and neither of us had packed... shambles!

I lived in Manchester for about five years but the vagaries of the one-way system got the better of me again on my way to pick up Laura from Piccadilly station at 9am on Friday. Laura was the producer on what turned out to be a busy day...

10-10.45am: Mark Hughes press conference, Manchester City training ground
11-11.30am: Piece to camera next to the mosaic of Emmanuel Adebayor on the floor in the Arndale Centre
12-1pm: Film the opening to the programme at Eastlands
1-2pm: Eat lunch
2-2.30pm: Film Friday Focus for the website and the red button
2.30-4.30pm: Film the tour of Eastlands with Mr Dixon
4.30-7pm: Get to BBC Manchester to send the footage back to London
7-7.40pm: Talk to Gordon Burns about City's midfield
7.40pm-11pm: Enjoy emotional Chinese with former Mancunian colleagues
11pm-1am: Return to hotel to listen to some quality stories from Dixon, Mark Lawrenson and Jonathan Pearce

Gordon Burns is a legend by the way. If you want to know how to interview somebody properly, watch him in action. He is the business when it comes to grilling somebody. He also deserves much respect for still having some of the gear from The Krypton Factor. Apparently the thin Perspex boxes that you had to wedge all the shapes inside are still in the Burns cellar!

Anyway - very unusually - everything on the Friday went to plan. Mark Hughes was 20 minutes late but that is actually pretty much 'on time' for a manager. None of them seem constrained by the timing issues that govern the rest of us. Carlton Palmer once made me wait three-and-a- half hours when he was manager of Stockport County and then told me that he would be England boss in five years!

Once we'd finished with Hughes, everything else went very well and producer Laura was very pleased with our progress. The real fun and games came when Mr Dixon arrived at Eastlands for our little tour.

Lee Dixon and Dan Walker inside the Man City dressing room

It's hard to get former professional footballers excited. They've got lots of stuff, have done lots of fun things and have forgotten most of the best jokes you've ever heard. That's why it was great to see Lee with a little glint in his eye during our walk around the stadium. The first came when he saw a giant picture of Colin Bell. He went all nostalgic on us remembering the time that Bell scored - against Arsenal - while mini Dixon was cheering on from the Kippax. The real treat was the trip into the home dressing room, though. As we entered, City kitman Les Chapman was preparing for match day.

Lee and Colin Bell's picture

Les is a former manager of Stockport and Preston who now has the responsibility of getting everything ready for the modern superstar footballer. And when I say everything, that includes looking after Robinho's hair gel!

Both Lee and I had a good chat with Les as he laid out all the shirts, socks, boots, tape, shin pads and anything else you can think of. Les says it's difficult to get it right because there are so many little requests. Anyway, here are some of the things we learnt:

Shaun-Wright Phillips is the boot king of Eastlands. He has 14 pairs to choose from for every match;
Emmanuel Adebayor is only just behind with nine pairs - three white, three blue and three black. If you noticed, he wore a blue pair for the first half against Arsenal and changed to the ice-whites for the second;
It may come as no surprise that Stephen Ireland has just one pair that he wears for every game;
Ireland, Micah Richards and Nedum Onuoha are the triumvirate responsible for the music in the City dressing room. Les says it doesn't really make any different which one of them connects their MP3 player to the speakers because they all like the same music... no Tammy Wynette allowed here!

The Man City dressing room

The following morning Lawro, Lee and I arrived at the ground nice and early. Mark Bowen - the City assistant manager - cut it a bit fine but the show went well. That was apart from my 'Spurs fact'. In the introduction to the piece on coaching at White Hart Lane, I said Tottenham had made the best start to a season since winning the double over 50 years ago. Now you don't have to be Archimedes to work out that 50 years have not elapsed since 1960-61. The word I needed was "almost" instead of "over". Never mind.

After the show, we were given an insight City's determination to win everything this season. When the Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan found out that the award for 'Best Press Experience' had gone to Arsenal for the last few years, he decided it was time to have a little sheikh-up of the City facilities. The press room wasn't bad before but now you have a spectacular little hideaway where the Yorkshire puddings are four inches high and you can eat your way through a selection of muffins and fine cream cakes.

When it came to the match, I watched it alongside floor manager and Aston Villa fan Tim Boucher. Lawro and Dixon were behind us, and they were regularly pestered for autographs and insight. When City went 4-1 up, many fans seemed to enjoy telling Lawro that he had predicted a 1-1 draw.

Lee sparked up a relationship with the supporters to the side of him. Each time they screamed at the referee for a dodgy decision, he would consult his TV monitor and tell them if their mixture of anger and frustration was justified or not. After the match, the topic of discussion was very much Adebayor. As the City fans left, even they were a little embarrassed by what they had seen.

Emmanuel Adebayor's personal space in the Man City dressing room

As I drove back to Sheffield over the Snake Pass, I thought about what I heard two City fans talking about outside the ground. "We're gonna do United next week," said one giddy middle-aged fan to another. "We're gonna win the league mate," replied the other. Spurs have already had their wings clipped by the champions this season. We shall see whether the other pretenders to the throne fare any better this weekend.


  • Comment number 1.

    I love that - Carlton Palmer England manager!

  • Comment number 2.

    It's 'fare' any better not 'fair' any better... Sorry to be pedantic- but you are a journalist afterall..

  • Comment number 3.

    almost as funny as city winning on Saturday. They won't find United as easy as Arsenal to hit on the break

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    Very good blog, sounds like one hectic weekend for you!

    I can't see Man Utd also clipping Man City's wings but I can't see Man City grabbing a victory either, but I'm sure it'll be one great match.

    And Mr Dixon proving fans whether it was a foul or not etc somehow doesn't surprise me...!

  • Comment number 6.

    Im sorry but 2hr 30mins from eastlands to bbc manchester? Which way did you go?

  • Comment number 7.

    Fantastic blog! Is there anywhere i can see the video of the tour?

  • Comment number 8.

    Hi Dan. What is going on with that shirt you're wearing?


  • Comment number 9.

    You have slayed me there tommy2010. I feel I have let Mr Club my English teacher down. I am currently hanging my head in grammatical shame.

    I will try and get the technical blog genius that is Phil 'Flash' Gordos to fix it.

  • Comment number 10.

    Nice ensightful blog, nice to see something different for a change.

  • Comment number 11.

    brilliant! ever since carlos tevez joined man city, i was amazed by the "inside" photos - the transformations of the inner of city's stadium looks quite grand. that dressing room looks pretty nice, wished there were pictures though.

    not a city fan but wouldnt mind going on a tour there, maybe once they have a couple of trophies i'll give it a visit. hey, its always nice to have your pictures taken with a trophy.

  • Comment number 12.

    As a Man Utd fan, I find the chance of Man City providing a serious title threat quite interesting. Now when look out for the latest scores on Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal, I will include Man City with them. There performance against Arsenal was the first time I actually thought they will provide a threat and it seems the team as bonded very quickly, brushing aside any thoughts that 'no matter how much money you spend, you cant buy a team'. However I do not believe they will come away for Old Trafford with 3 points, there are many reason why I believe this one being with the absence of Tevez, Santa Cruz, Robinho and possibly Adebayor, Bellamy will not prove a threat to the defence of United, especially with the return of Rio. The only real chance that Man City have at gaijing anything is defensively, can Toure and Lescott keep out Rooney and Berbatov and will the attacking characteristics of Bridge and Richards prove there downfall, this waits to be seen.

    As for Adebayor, Despite a very good performance from both him and city against Arsenal it was totally overshadowed by the ridiculus actions by him. Firstly the stamp on Van Persie, and no it isnt an "alleged stamp" as it has been reffered to recently, it was a blatant act of agression showed to a team mate he celebrated with only months ago and as for his celebration, I can understand his desire to show the Arsenal fans what they have lost, but as a 25 year old proffesional footballer, he should know better, especially running the length of the field and I do believe he should recieve a hefty ban as a result of the violence caused solely by him.

    Finally let me conclude with despite this comment being quite off the point of the blog, I would like to congratulate Dan on quite a good job on the blog and look forward to future ones.

  • Comment number 13.

    Are City players so dumb they need a photo of themselves to show them where to sit in the dressing room?

  • Comment number 14.

    Why do they need their own pictures in the lockers? To avoid fighting for the best places like little kids?

    Ireland and one pair of boots - great :) ...I remember Aki Riihilahti (ex Crystal Palace) blogging that he always wears the same shin pads throughout a season without washing them once.

  • Comment number 15.

    #14 - I reckon they have pictures because reading "Emmanuel Adebayor" (for example...) may be a little bit of a struggle for your average footballer.

  • Comment number 16.

    We are not, we're not really here.
    We are not, we're not really here.
    Just like the fans of the invisile man,
    we're not really here.

    Always great to here about city.

  • Comment number 17.

    Two hours øunch and three hours dinners?? who are you? the queen in disquise?

  • Comment number 18.

    What's this???A favourable piece of journalism about City??????What's the world coming to?As for the players foggies in the changing room,I think they're quite cool.Reminds me of Thunderbirds(please,don't mention puppets or muppets.Far too childish and inane).

  • Comment number 19.

    Tommy2010: It most certainly is 'fare'.

  • Comment number 20.

    It's going to be odd going in to a Manchester derby hoping the red side will win.

  • Comment number 21.

    I think City have the best squad in the county, but not the best players. This Adebayor nonsense won't help City one little bit, and at the end of the season when they finish two points behind United, people will be saying whaut if.

  • Comment number 22.

    That was a good article and an interesting one for a change. Finally BBC hire someone decent. Keep up the good work mate!

  • Comment number 23.

    that stadium is amazing, played there last year in the 16's national final, sat in Zabaleta's booth :)

  • Comment number 24.

    As A Man City fan it is refreshing to see an informed, impartial blog about my beloved club. Whatever anyone wants to say about City, good or bad, you have to admit, probably grudgingly for some, that the premiership just became far more interesting with the emergence of a new threat to the established order. I don't know what City will achieve this season, nor do I want to get carried away after a few games. It has to be said though, that City have made a decent start to the season. It will be a shame if Adebayor can't play in the derby, as it will mean that Utd will be fortunate that we will be missing the vast majority of our expensively assembled firepower. Mind you, it didn't hamper us too much against Arsenal! All I will say is let's see where City are at the halfway stage. If they are still there or thereabouts, then I think that they will have as good a chance as the established order of qualifying for the Champions' League or, dare I say, winning the Premiership. To be fair, I think that winning the title is very much a long-shot this season, although I think City will win it within 3 years.

    I couldn't finish this post without making reference to daneryan92, a Utd fan, who stated about Adebayor's celebration against Arsenal "and as for his celebration, I can understand his desire to show the Arsenal fans what they have lost, but as a 25 year old professional footballer, he should know better, especially running the length of the field and I do believe he should recieve a hefty ban as a result of the violence caused solely by him."

    I would like to ask him, therefore, what his thoughts were when, not that many seasons back, Utd scored against Liverpool and Gary Neville, who did not even score the goal, decided that instead of congratulating the goalscorer as his teammates did, that he would sprint the length of the pitch to the opposite end of the ground and proceed to perform various fist-pumping actions and badge-kissing in front of the incensed Liverpool fans! Talk about wanting to incite a riot! When you also consider the history between those two teams, I think Adebayor's celebration was chicken-feed in comparison. Neville's punishment for this indiscretion? A £5k fine which is akin to fining me 50p! For this reason, I would expect Adebayor's punishment to be similar. It's amazing how fans of another team start to rant on sanctimoniously about the indiscretions of players from rival teams but choose to have selective memory syndrome about worse indiscretions from players playing for their own team! Is that because these people want the other side to be 'weakened' when they play their team? It's good to be feared in this way but God, I hate hypocrites!

  • Comment number 25.

    #2 tommy2010.

    If you are going to be pedantic and pull up journalists perhaps you should check your spelling of "afterall" Try after all...

  • Comment number 26.

    Glad so many of you are enjoying the blog. That shirt continues to get flack but I still to think it's a winner. Then again, I valiantly wore my Capri ski jacket in the early 1990's long after it had gone out of fashion!

    I feel the need to clear up some of the timing issues. Before you all start thinking I have long lunches and even longer dinners... the times are not meant to be exact. Lunch consisted of a chicken and mango sandwich from Her Majesty's Greggs eaten in the car and the lengthy dinner included a 20 minute walk to and from the restaurant, a healthy wait for a Chinese buffet and a little trip to an all-night Spar to get a 6 pack of lemon tarts to supplement the crispy duck pancakes.

    Good point made by The following error occurred: An unknown error has occurred... 'Im sorry but 2hr 30mins from eastlands to bbc manchester? Which way did you go?' I didn't go via Sweden. That epic journey time included the time it took to feed all the material down to London.

    Oh, and in answer to your question yorkshirefox07 I will try and see if I can get the tour video on the Football Focus homepage later this week.

  • Comment number 27.

    i was going to comment on the pictures, but see thats been done a bit already!

    " I remember Aki Riihilahti (ex Crystal Palace) blogging that he always wears the same shin pads throughout a season without washing them once."

    thats nothing, i've had the same pair of pads for a good 4/5 years... not washed them once!

    actually, don't know why i'm proud of that. thats disgusting.

  • Comment number 28.

    15 - SuperPaulyBoy - you're probably right. And the way that ManC are spending money these days probably doesn't encourage you to bother learning the names of your team mates, as every 6 months they could all change...

  • Comment number 29.

    BillyOnaire (no. 24) - as you can judge by my name, I'm a Villa fan. I just wanted to point this out so that less thoughtful posters might refrain from using the very tired "you're just jealous" card at what I'm about to say.

    The fact of the matter is that I have had high regard for City and their fans for many years, indeed sympathy for being forced to live in United's shadow for much of the 90s, and a hell of a lot of admiration for the way City fans supported their team right down to Division Two (now League 1). But I cannot say that I like the way City are achieving their current success, if that is what it will become.

    As a neutral, I almost feel betrayed by City; I know it's not my place to judge, but I just feel that - while City were once that great antidote, the opposite of everything that their neighbours represented in terms of class, in terms of real fans, in terms of being a proper football club instead of some sort of globally franchised money-machine - they now represent all that is worst in football, the idea of money ruling all, that takes the game away from its working class roots and produces a system by which "he who is richest, wins" - and to see it happen to City makes me especially sad, in fact the only things that would make me sadder would be to see it happen to Birmingham (they'd be insufferable!) or Villa, because I'd hate to see my club represent those sorts of values. Indeed, I feel a little sense of embarrassment when I see Villa themselves spening over the odds for players.

    So I know it makes no difference to you what me or any other non-City fan thinks. But, contrary to what you say, it's made me less interested in the Premier League this season because the success, the results and everything seem to literally follow the money around (and by the way, when someone pipes up and says "that's the way it's always been", no club in history has had the financial superiority over all direct rivals that City has). I just wish City had come by success another way - but I suppose that would mean changing the whole of football, and therefore I can only hope that Platini succeeds in his ultimate objective. If there's a level playing field financially, then good luck to you and all your brilliant fans.

    To the author: great blog, very enjoyable indeed.

  • Comment number 30.

    @BillyOnaire...I have an answer for you man..You answered your own question..Gary is a defender..You rightly said that he didn't congratulate the scorer at that time which possibly mean that he was in his own half (it is not possible to run to the scorer without congratulating him and ran back to his position then to the L'pool fans)..So pumping his fists in his own half to the nearby L'pool fans didn't look so mad as in case of Ade..(Definitely Ade has the capability to beat Bolt in that running but not as a good sportsman)..

  • Comment number 31.

    @MontytheVillian #29 - I'm a lifelong City fan now well into my 40s and have to admit you've hit the nail pretty much on the head as to how I feel about my club. I loved the way we were the polar opposite of United and liked the way fans of other clubs appreciated us for being so.

    I'm uncomfortable about us becoming the new Chelsea as I know how I felt about them when Abramovich took over. I've stopped talking about our matches to other footy fans because it always end up being all about the money and not about the football.

    I too would have loved us to be challenging at the top of the table by building a great team on a limited budget, but the longer the same 4 clubs reap in all the Champions League cash the harder it is for the rest of the teams to challenge them.

    I'm old enough to remember City winning their last trophy, many of our fans aren't. A few years ago I remember having a conversation with a mate in the pub and saying I feared never seeing us win another trophy during my lifetime. At least now there is at least a chance we could win something, but you'd be hard pushed to find a City fan who'd be banking on it such is our ability to cock things up!

    So, while I'm not 100% happy about how City are going about things at the moment, I would dearly love to see my club winning trophies and competing with the best in Europe. Being hated by other club's fans will take some getting used to but I think I'm going to have to get used to that.

  • Comment number 32.

    Dan, your boastful blogs are almost as galling as your presenting of what was once a brilliant, staple saturday afternoon football programme. It is for others to praise you about your BMW, and the marvelous perks that come with your job. Even for his mercenary walk out, I couldn't imagine Stubbsy being so conceited.

  • Comment number 33.

    I am United fan (just to get that out of the way) - who, for reasons I won't go into here, spent some time on the North Bank in the early 80's (think Charlie Nicholas, Graham Rix, Pat Jennings) and one thing I learned is that Arsenal fans liked to moan a lot, and moreover they had pet hates amongst the players. It seems like nothing much has changed.

    This is in total contrast to OT where for the most part the fans are 100% supportive of the players - something which by and large extends to returning players. As an example. Hughes is a United legend and even though his current paymasters cause stress to United fans, I very much doubt he personally will get a bad reception at the weekend.

    I think Adebayor is a terrific player, but for some reason the Arsenal fans totally turned against him. I followed the blogs on this quite carefully and it seemed to boil down to some naive comments he made about liking Italy, plus looking lazy when he walks.

    (As an aside I imagine it is the same Arsenal fans who boo Ashley Cole at Wembley - a good reason for moving more games to the North West if you ask me.)

    In that context I think it is totally justified, and even poetic, that he should score against them and then run the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of the fans who rejected him. It is part of the theatre of football and I fail to see why he should then be held accountable for their unacceptable behaviour.

    Secondly, and this is perhaps more serious - there is something nasty about the Arsenal team. There are a few (a very few) comments in these stories about the Arsenal players giving it to Adebayor during the game, and it is clear that Van P went in hard against him just before he retaliated.

    We saw this very clearly at OT at the end of last season when the entire team went after Evra - in retaliation for his "Men against Boys" quip following the UCL semi final. One by one they scythed into Evra, trying to provoke a reaction - and the ref utlimately did a brilliant job in managing the situation. But I was left with the feeling that the whole Arsenal team (because it was clearly a team effort) should have been charged with bringing the game into disrepute.

    It seems clear to me that exactly the same kind of "ganging up" has gone on here - you'd have to assume with the explicit knowledge of Arsene Wenger. It was clearly wrong for Adebayor to snap. But I do see it as him losing his cool rather than doing initiating the attack.

    Strong words, but I feel they need to be said.

  • Comment number 34.

    Dan Walker wrote...

    Carlton Palmer once made me wait three-and-a- half hours when he was manager of Stockport County and then told me that he would be England boss in five years!

    I'm sorry but as a County fan if he'd made you wait three-and-a-half minutes you should have gone. He was to Football Management what Nick Leeson was to Investment Banking. Good on you waiting for that long mind. Bet it wasn't worth waiting for either

  • Comment number 35.

    Does Adebayor need so many boots so he can decide how sharp the studs need to be?

  • Comment number 36.

    Response to BillyOnaire from a ManU fan, although from mixed background as my mother was an out and out blue (which I hope enables me to have a slightly more balanced perspective!).

    Actually, I don't have a problem with either Neville's or Adebayor's celebrations - this is all part of our sanitised society wherein you cannot do anything that may offend someone els; the Arsenal fans had abused him all match so why not give it back?

    Before the obvious response, celebrations do not cause riots, idiots cause riots who will feed on any excuse; we must not let governing bodies and hypocritical moralising media take all the passion out of our great game - they have all but done away with tackling as it is, at least leave in some emotion.

    However, the stamping was totally out of order and merits a ban in its own right.

  • Comment number 37.

    very interesting article - the stadium is magnificent and is now even better after a major "spring clean " over the summer , to pick up a point made earlier by a villa fan (and this has been bleated by a great many other supporters ) city have tried the "grow your own " policy for several years - they have had almost 30 players move from the academy to first team (a premier league record i believe ? ), the u 18,s have won their league several times and enjoyed success in the fa youth cup in recent years . what have the first team won in recent years ? exactly nothing ! unfortunately comments like "city now represent everything bad about the modern game " can only be taken as jealousy - after all our arab investors did apparently look at several other clubs before investing in city , but were turned down ? city were once everyones second favourite team when losing to the likes of york , lincoln and barnet - i remember those days very well and it was far from pleasant or romantic , if the price to be paid these days is sniping from small minded bitter fans of other teams it is well worth paying .

  • Comment number 38.

    Point 1: I's CAMPRI ski jacket. Although you might have had one off the market called CAPRI, to go with some Spliffy jeans and NAFF CO 54 sweater.

    Point 2: The blog gets better and better. Goes to show that being an international TV star is more than just half an hour in front of a camera wearing a ludicrous shirt.

    Point 3: I can't believe that you needed to supplement one of the Curry Mile's great meals with a pack of tarts. I had a friend at University who once bought and ate six bramley apple pies from his coat pocket whilst waiting for his starter at a restaurant, but up until now I had considered him a one-off freak of nature.

    Point 4: I for one am staggered at the hypocrisy of the (mainly Salford Dolphins and Arsenal) fans who are pillorying Adebayor for the run'n'dive. Football fans are brilliant at giving it out but can't take it at all - the comments and chants directed at Adebayor were sickening by all accounts, so I have no problem at all with him ramming it back down their throats. The fact that the Arsenal fans couldn't handle it and decided to rampage down the steps like an out-take from one of those godawful hooligan films is irrelevant. If Wednesday fans rioted every time Paddy Kenny gave us the big'un for our constant taunting of him, all of Hillsborough would be on banning orders. Can't do the time? Don't do the crime.

    Point 5: Why is it that Lee Dixon's allegiance to Citeh is always played up when he's on telly. It's almost an unwritten rule in football and the media that whatever club you 'supported as a boy' is only ever mentioned in passing and never gives cause for pundits/players/managers to be hammered for being 'biased'. I think it's great that Dicko's proud to be a blue, but it's jarring in the sanitsed neutrality of the BBC!

    Overall, great blog, great job presenting the show, and good to hear you on Five Live last night. Are you going to follow your colleague Chris Hollins onto Strictly Come Dancing next year?

  • Comment number 39.

    sausagearms - 'sanitsed neutrality of the BBC' with Lawro and Hansen, you have got to be kidding!!

  • Comment number 40.

    Awesome blog Dan. It is refreshing to see something different for a change rather than the usual "opinions" of pundits. Keep up the good work. You are now part of my regular rss feeds. Also, it is good to see more than 1 line in a paragraph something which Mr.McNulty cant let go off apart from stating the obvious.

    Is there some kind of a worst shirt competition going on at the Beeb? The guy who presented the world athletic championships (sorry.. dont remember his name) also wore some horrendous shirts.

  • Comment number 41.

    Fantastic blog Dan, I've only just discovered it today on my daily browse of the bbc sport website, and was pleasantly surprised. I found the insider's perspective of your life as a bbc sports journalist really interesting as I aspire to be a sports journalsit myself and I am about to begin studying a degree in sports journalism in the coming weeks. If you could spare any tips or pointers that could aid my progression in the field they would be greatly appreciated.

    Oh and one final query....what did the chicken and mango sandwich taste like?

  • Comment number 42.

    @tomefccam #32:

    Have you been overindulging in the FAIL JUICE? I can't for the life of me see where Dan mentioned a 'BMW', or how this blog (itself INTENDED to be a look behind the scenes into the work life of an up-and-coming/D-List (delete as applicable) BBC presenter) can be described as 'conceited'.

  • Comment number 43.

    theives broke into the eastlands trophy room last night,police say they are looking for a man with a sky blue carpet.

  • Comment number 44.

    Thieves broke into the eastlands trophy room last night,police say they are looking for a man or men with a sky blue carpet.

  • Comment number 45.

    14 pairs of boots for one match???
    Thats just it because SWP takes kids sizes and they only have a certain amount in stock in the club shop? therefore he likes to keep them all with him?

  • Comment number 46.

    Bluechico - very fair of you. I for one hope that anti-supermoney rules are brought in in some way so that you lot don't have to end up hated by people, because nobody wants hate in football (well, some idiots do I suppose, but I like to ignore them).

    Another sad aspect is just how good the City academy is. I know that there has been considerable investment there as well, but it would have been nice to see a team truly built from the academy rather than the chequebook.

  • Comment number 47.


    Fare - verb (used without object) - to experience good or bad fortune, treatment, etc.; get on: He fared well in his profession

  • Comment number 48.

    I think a lot of these so called City fans are afraid to step
    into success - they have got used to an also ran mentality.

    I am a City fan and I remember our last trophy - the League Cup in 1976
    as well as the defeat in the 1981 FA Cup to Spurs.

    I remember Division 3 (now called League 1).

    I remember countless relegations.

    I remember 5-1 day when we beat Utd.

    I welcome the changes at City and wish ourselves all the success.

    I don't want to be a comical, everybodys second favourite team anymore.

    I want success.

  • Comment number 49.

    I am told somewhere in Old Trafford they have a banner
    which clocks up one every year that City don't win something.

    I want that banner shoved up where the sun don't shine!

  • Comment number 50.

    PS: Ocnorb (#37), I don't like being called 'small minded', 'bitter' or 'jealous' when I am nothing of the sort. My God, how I'd hate Villa to have a team that costs more than £200m over just two years! You see, for me success and winning aren't everything; I just want to see that everyone's on a level playing field, or as far as can be. To be honest, I feel more sorry for Everton fans in this. Yes, I am a little peeved by City buying their way to the front of the queue of clubs hoping to break the top four, but I can't complain too much from a Villa stand-point as we did something similar (although obviously on a smaller-scale, less brash, less damaging way).

    I used to cheer when you guys beat United, as you did a few times at the beginning of the decade, and I wasn't pleased when Chelsea went and bought SWP for silly money. But now you guys are doing the same to other clubs (paying generally unfairly gross sums for players) it's just a shame, because it's another great old club swallowed up by globalisation and businessmen who care more about massaging their egos than about football (Florentino Perez, anyone?).

    So there you go. Not bitter, not jealous, not small minded, just sad about the general state of the game. I think, Ocnorb, that if anyone is small minded it's you, as you can't take off your sky-blue glasses to see the potential damage to the game at large that your once-admirable club is causing.

  • Comment number 51.

    Sorry but Mr Club will be most upset with you. "Given an insight City's determination" Did you graduate from the Daily Mail School of Journalism?
    Still a good blog and nice to see Stockport County getting mentioned more and more on the BBC. Now if only you could list the correct scorers...

  • Comment number 52.

    what a nice write-up!but as a gunner fan,it's still hurtful that we lost that match,really!well,u forget a lost if u can win your next,hopefully,gunners should gun down and put to the cross standard liege today!for tommy2010,he has an eagle eye for noting your blunder,nobody is above a mistake!welldone dan!

  • Comment number 53.

    to the "holier than thou " villa fan - so winning is not everything is it ? if villa had not won anything for 33 years , not been to a semi for 28 and during that time had been relegated 5 times you would not be talking such garbage believe me !

  • Comment number 54.

    Your grammar again dear boy!

    "we were given an insight City's determination to win"

  • Comment number 55.

    one thing that never changes is the waiting. working in this same field i experience this almost every time. nothing goes according to schedule- ever...a couple years ago in germany i met some croatian journalists there to do a peice on rakitic. for three days they were waiting! unbelievable. luckily it was champions league week and there were lots of us there...

  • Comment number 56.

    Good article from behind the scenes at Citys rented council home, but I didnt notice any pictures of a trophy cabinet ?
    Serious question - Do City even own a trophy cabinet ?

    There is the challenge for today - someone find a picture of City's trophy Cabinet.

    Then maybe have a look for The Lost City of Atlantis and Sheargar.

    bring on Derby day.................

  • Comment number 57.

    "Holier than thou"? "Garbage" Why don't you actually criticise my points instead of me?

    Ocnorb, we've won a couple of league cups in nearly thirty years. A couple of years after we won the European Cup, we went down. We nearly went out of business in the 60s and nearly went down to the Fourth Division, and if you had been to Villa 0 Halifax 1 in a game almost entirely consisting of backpasses, you wouldn't be accusing me of not knowing about the sometimes tough travails of football.

    I'm not some spoilt Arsenal or Man Utd fan. I know what it's like to be starved of success. But if it were a choice between Villa winning the quadruple by buying it for £200m, £300m, whatever, or a healthy game where competition isn't mostly solved in the boardroom, you'd better believe I'd choose the latter every time.

  • Comment number 58.

    Cant wait for Sunday.

    The annual City Giddyometer is off the scale this season - due not ot any hard work, talent or natural deserved progress, but to a handout from a bunch of Arabs to a bankrupt joke football club.

    The deluded berties are beside themselves with the start Ethiad United have made and comments such as "at least a european spot" are already being heard all over town. They are even managing to nearly fill their rented home for a change.
    Wonderful, the berties never let us down, its not even optimism - its delusion - just wait for the ever present City failure factor to kick in.

    The Pride of Manchester - ha ha ha ha

  • Comment number 59.

    I'm a Villa fan as well and I have to say I agree mostly with what Monty is saying. I suppose it's hard for anyone to comment unless it's happened to your club. I know that when Lerner came to Villa I thought we'd start splashing the cash but it never really happened. I AM jealous that Man City are going above us so quickly, especially after how bad they looked last season at times, but then i'm happy that we have a team full of young England players who will hopefully achieve their potential.

    I was mortified when we lost Barry to City but I still hope they finish higher than Man Utd and Chelsea and it has made the Premiership more interesting, but I feel that most neutrals will probably get behind Spurs rather than City, due to the way that they do their business (and coz who doesn't like Harry??).

    About the Adebayor celebration, I guess if I was getting the abuse he was, I would probably have done the same. But I would expect to get it in the neck afterwards!

  • Comment number 60.

    Getting pretty sick of BBC's obsession with articles based on Man City since they got taken over by the Arabs. Why do clubs like Chelsea and City get glorified for having a lot of money to spend on players? Is it the BBC's way of saying thanks for all the stories the money generates such as rumoured transfers etc?

  • Comment number 61.

    Totally agree with those posters who have defended Adebayor's celebration, my vote for stupidest rule in football would go to the one which says a player MUST be booked for removing his shirt - WTF?

    I remember a few years back when Beckham was at United, half of Elland Rd was singing about Posh's sexual preferences so he gave them the finger when he was subbed. Cue multiple police complaints by all the poor, sensitive Leeds fans...

  • Comment number 62.

    PulpGrape. No one is glorifying Man C or Chelski - the fact of the matter is that their financial situation makes them worth writing about, and discussing, because theyve bought amazing players and have a good chance of doing well. would you rather there was a blog about some league 2 mid table team that are in the same poisition they were in 98 years ago?

  • Comment number 63.

    "almost as funny as city winning on Saturday. They won't find United as easy as Arsenal to hit on the break"

    The Arsenal who probably should have by about 2 clear goals at Old Trafford?

    Unless Rooney is planning on "winning" another penalty, I don't think we have much to worry about.

    Arsenal and United are about the same standard these days.

  • Comment number 64.

    PulpGrape, the fact is that Man City are the big story at the moment. We all have our views on them, but they're worth talking about.

    To my Villa friend, I must disagree with a lot of what you say. I'm not jealous of City, when Lerner came we did start spending far more money than before, and I don't like Harry Redknapp! But more seriously, you do illustrate that Villa fans are pretty needy of success themselves (once you, as a club, get any sort of taste for it, you crave it for all time; I imagine Preston fans yearn for the glory years well before their births as I do with Villa's early success), so when I say I'd rather Villa not be successful if it means more competition, I hope people will realise what it means for me to say that.

  • Comment number 65.

    sad to see what was a good blog has been spoilt by bitter rags fans - you are not really bothered at all by city are you ? i also cannot wait for sunday - believe me for the first time in decades city fans and players travel to the swamplands of stretford with no fear at all . as for my villa chum who seems to live in a 1950,s utopia where the local plumber can play for england - i sincerely hope that what ever you are on is not using up all of your pay packet ! how the hell else is anyone supposed to hope to compete with the top end of any major league in europe without spending hundreds of millions ? you claim i have ignored your comments - well the feeling is mutual ! did you not read what i said about citys past youth policy or did you choose to ignore it as it does not quite fit in with your general whinge . you totally contradicted yourself when you said you have ONLY won a couple of league cups in 20 years - city fans can only dream about that level of achievement . if you are upset with the way top flight football is going , may i suggest you give your no doubt hard earned cash to your local non league club ( i myself have frequented altrincham and maine road fc on several occasions ) who will be glad of the support .

  • Comment number 66.

    Of course I dream of Utopia, and it's impossible, but that's no reason not to try and achieve it. I've been advocating these changes for years, and City are just the latest grand old club to turn into the plaything of an ego-maniac.

    And I don't necessarily want to watch non-league football, I want to see the best football in the world, at the highest level, but brought about fairly.

    And yes, Villa have been more successful than City, but the leap accepting that fact to claiming, as you seem to be, that I have no idea what it's like not to have a successful club is quite a large one, and one I'm not entirely sure how you've made.

    Fair enough though mate, you're criticising the points I made, rather than me (for the most part!).

  • Comment number 67.

    Hey now Ocnorb, I'm a United fan and I came out in favour of Adebayor!

    I'm looking forward to a really exciting derby on Saturday, I'm old enough to remember when Citeh WERE the best team in Manchester and I welcome your new-found competitiveness.

    That said, I still think you'll win manage to win the Jongleurs shield somehow this season, you've no serious competition now the barcodes are out of the way...

  • Comment number 68.

    Monty I'm sorry but you have a weird sense of how football has been in the past rather like most reds. It's not City and Chelsea who have all of a sudden just started spending lots of money.
    Rooney, Veron, Rio, Cole, etc were hardly products of Utds academy were they?
    We are merely playing catch up with the spending the top sides have been doing to get their success over the years. Obviously it will be all at once but it's not like we're gonna be buying a whole new squad every season. We assessed what we had and were lucky enough to have the funds to add what we needed.
    for the next seasons we may add 1 or 2 and lose 1 or 2.
    No team has ever made the top without investment. And those teams then kept on top while the rest fell away.
    Everyone seems to be having a pop at buying success when we're just making ourselves equal to those already there.
    Dave Whelan made me laugh when he complained we were ruining football. Despite the fact he took a penniless Wigan and bankrolled their way to the top Division.
    And yes football has always been like that. You think Liverpool sustained years of success by being the poorest team in the league.

  • Comment number 69.

    pjmcc1uk, I have two or three points to that. Firstly, I have never said at any point that I excuse United or any other team from doing what I'm criticising, indeed I've even implicated Villa in this to some extent, and if you read my first post on this blog you'll see that I severely criticised Man Utd's practices in the nineties, so I'm not having for a second that I am guilty of double standards.

    Secondly, yes some clubs have always been richer than some others, but nowhere near to the extent that City are financially above their rivals (even Abramovitch wasn't so far ahead), and certainly no club other than Real Madrid (a very questionable club indeed, to my mind) have been able to spend so much with so little return (how on earth can you excuse buying Lescott for £24m and selling Dunne for £6m? Is that sensible business practice?).

    Finally, just because something has always gone on that doesn't make it right, and the fact that it seems to be worse now than it ever has been means we have to act now. Don't get me wrong, I have the utmost regard for City fans (I've already mentioned the gates in Division Two in another post, but also the calm reaction to Van Persie's goal celebration, when contrasted with the Arsenal fans' reaction, was very admirable), but I have no regard for the way that they're trying to achieve success.

  • Comment number 70.

    @ 29 MontytheVillain

    You seem to be suggesting that United aren't a "real football club". Our success (both on the pitch and financially) in the premier league ultimately stems from a team of home grown players a fantastic manager and a well run club. Does this not fit in with your nostalgic view of how a football club should gain success?

    I have my ticket for the derby on sunday and cannot wait to see city's wings clipped! Nice blog...That Carlton Palmer quote is class!

  • Comment number 71.

    im glad to hear all the united fans are now talking about Manchester CITY :D this has now got to be the turning point in manchester

  • Comment number 72.

    I don't begrudge any City fan some success and i'm certainly not bitter (which it's clear Monty isn't either), i'm just saying that it is worrying when teams suddenly get investments this big and get suddenly flung into the top 4, a la Chelsea. We hope that it is not too detrimental to their youth system (pity about Sturridge going, decent player) and if the owners get bored, they don't leave the club in a mess, with huge wages to pay.
    I don't pretend to know lots about the subject, it's just an outsiders view and I don't think City fans should get so defensive about it. You're going to probably have a decent season and it will be nice to see things shaken up, even if that's a short-sighted view for this season alone.
    My view about me being jealous is just my own view (mainly as i'd love one or two hollywood signings now and then) and not that of Villa fans on the whole. I'm more than happy with my lot and I wish City well for the season. Hope you win on the weekend.
    Sorry if my posts are rushed, i'm at work! Ha Ha.

  • Comment number 73.

    Eric_3_king, I think it's pretty clear that Man Utd's financial dominance is largely thank to their rise to fame and success coinciding with the advent of the Premier League. The original success, however, as you say, is very difficult to argue with, but their financial superiority has been worrying for a while now.

  • Comment number 74.


    I see your point and I agree with it in many ways, however...

    You sound very much like the typical Brit, tolerating underachievement in the misguided belief that we make up for it somehow by being honest to the traditions and spirit of the game. As a brit, I want to see a bit of national success now and again. As a City fan I want to see a bit of footballing success now and again - I don't really care how we go about getting both!

    I can't stop Sheikh Monsoor pooring millions into my club in the same way I would have no influence if our club were staring at Administration. I know that I am pleased that it is the former and not the latter.

    As far as a level playing field, compare what Villa has spent this season to Bolton.

  • Comment number 75.

  • Comment number 76.

    Getting back to Adebayor's celebration, surely we can find common ground that he shouldn't be punished for it? Similarly, Rooney attracting all that opprobrium for saying he hated L*******l last season, I want that sort of passion in the game.

    On the subject of Citeh's mega-rich benefactors, I can't help being nostalgic for the golden years of Peter Swales... ;)

  • Comment number 77.

    I would say that City sold Dunne because he wasn't up to it any more. Last season he was barely average. Time will tell how sound an investment Lescott is.
    Sturridge demanded 60K a week from City and they wisely decided he wasn't going to get that after just 9 appearances. Their academy is far from being neglected - they've just appointed Brian Kidd as development chief. Richards, Ireland, Onuoha, Weiss are fairly recent graduates.
    Back to the original Blog story: How does one get a Press Pass? That buffet looks excellent. Lee Dixon looks a little like a younger Colin Bell. And the pictures of the players in the dressing room lockers - Is Eastlands the new Tracey Island? If so, do they know that The Hood (Steven Ireland) has infiltrated their hideaway?
    Umm.. Coat, please..

  • Comment number 78.

    Bell00lled, thanks for taking the time to consider my point of view, we don't always get that on these boards!

    Two points really - firstly, I thought that I would sound the opposite of British, that is to say, French! This is about wealth redistribution, essentially; something that Platini's going for (for example with the expansion of the Champions' League). The British mentality is more of an Anglo-Saxon economic model, something I believe to have some fairly significant flaws (don't get me wrong, I'm no communist, but the crunch has taught all supporters of the free market a valuable lesson). If we as a country, or Villa or City as a team, are to get success, I'd like to think that it would be down largely to skill. I have no problem with some clubs being richer than others, there just comes a point where the wealth becomes so concentrated that it is not good for the wider interests of the game. I believe that this point came some time ago, and that City are just the tip of the iceberg.

    Secondly, yes, Villa have considerably outspent Bolton, but the record transfer fees are roughly the same, so maybe not the best example, so how about a better example, say, Wigan? You most definitely have a point, and though I'm a Villa fan I too feel a tad uneasy when I see us paying over the odds for players (though I have a feeling that Milner and Downing, like Young, will turn out to be value for money and then some, but that's by the by). However, I feel that we are still working to a budget comparable to others in the market, whereas City seem to have no limits, which I view as dangerous for sporting, and therefore, in the longer term, business competition.

    Lounge_lizard, past it or not (and I don't think he is) is Dunne really worth £18m less than Lescott? That's the kind of financial imbalance I find worrying.

    And the academy is far from being neglected, that's not at all my gripe with City as they, unlike with Chelsea or Liverpool, produce good players and give them a chance. My gripe is all of the above about unfair transfer markets.

  • Comment number 79.

    Re. 61 - K1200RS

    [Good blog, but the repartee (or lack of) that it has provoked is truly brilliant.]

    In reference to your comment:

    'I remember a few years back when Beckham was at United, half of Elland Rd was singing about Posh's sexual preferences so he gave them the finger when he was subbed. Cue multiple police complaints by all the poor, sensitive Leeds fans...

    I have to admit, I was at that game and the Leeds fans were, perhaps a little predictably, giving Beckham a fair bit of stick. That said, this was inside OLD TRAFFORD, where the game (as history will uphold) took place. I'm just curious to know how 'half of Elland Rd' were in attendance, as I seem to remember (yes it was a while ago - insert cheap shot HERE)away fans only getting about 28 tickets for their annual visit?


  • Comment number 80.

    Well, I believe what we have here is a proper football debate. This little blog has grown arms and legs and is off to the shops! Some great comments and good to read some healthy banter between MontytheVillain and ocnorb. Monty I admire your purist approach and dream of utopia but I just think we can never go back to the old days even though there is a part of all of us that would love to. On some of the other comments...

    Not washed your shiners for 4-5 years! You must have the fruitiest kit bag in all of Christendom

    the chicken and mango sandwich was average pal. To much mango and green stuff for my liking. I may well try and answer some of your concerns in a later blog.

    Apologies for the 'CAMPRI' issue. It's all coming back to me now. And as for the 'up-and-coming/D-List presenter' comment... great stuff... it certainly made my wife giggle. Life is very nice down the lower end of the food-chain.

    3 days of waiting! I can’t beat that. Carlton Palmer was super speed in comparison to that.

    I think the trophy cabinet and 'museum' area is in the process of being refurbished.

    I'll be honest the 'boastful' comment cut me deep, the 'rubbish presenter' jibe was like a stomach punch but the BMW slur has left me in floods of tears. I am the proud owner of a P reg Citroen Saxo. The left wing-mirror is held on with gaffer tape and the engine sounds like you're constantly shaking a saucepan full of nails.

    Has there ever been a better send off to a blog post? Ka-pow!

  • Comment number 81.

    I great insight on how the other side of manchester lives! i noticed a samll thing missing in the article! did you visit citys trophy room errmmmmmm......... thought not do they have one?

    thoughts please!

  • Comment number 82.

    I would never suggest that you DESERVE to be D-List, Dan - I fully believe that you will eventually rise to the heights of a much-loved national treasure, perhaps one day presenting You've Been Framed or Goldenballs.

    However, it's a long road - and even your boastful, conceited, BMW-driving self has to admit that you're only just starting out!

  • Comment number 83.

    Great news sausagearms...

    I am quite happy with the Z list thanks very much... even lower case is fine by me.

    One day maybe I can sample the rarefied air enjoyed by the likes of Nicky from Big Brother and contestants on Bargain Hunt.

    I had a quiet word with the Saxo this morning to tell him that the rumours weren't true. He responded flicking out of gear everytime I stopped at traffic lights.

  • Comment number 84.

    Dan, I argue for no return to the way things used to be, I agree that that is totally impossible, and arguably undesirable. Football's always had a bit of a wealth imbalance, and now, when it has reached breaking point, is the time to act, even with long-term measures. I do like two things Platini has done: firstly, the possibility of banning clubs in too much debt from European competitions; and secondly, expanding the champions who can actually take part in the Champions' League, because there are plenty of leagues out there, like the French, Ukranian or Belgian leagues, which have lots of potential but no access to the money, and as a result have to sell their best players to the richer leagues, widening the quality gap further.

    Those kinds of measures are the type that I'm calling for, not the banning of money from football. I accept that greater wealth in the game leads to a more entertaining spectacle, but I also believe that there is a balance to be struck, as going too far down the road of 'money rules' will actually detract from the spectacle in the long term.

  • Comment number 85.

    I just love the "City are buying the league" comments mostly from reds, let’s just take a look at some of MU transfers from the past......

    Rio Ferdinand: Leeds to Manchester United - £29.1m (2002)

    Juan Sebastian Veron: Lazio to Manchester United - £28.1m (2001)

    Wayne Rooney: Everton to Manchester United - £23m initially (2004)

    Could anyone please tell me the average transfer fee from these years?
    And then tell me who has bought success....

  • Comment number 86.

    I'm lovin the behind the scenes stuff - can I just ask why does Alan Hansen get a whole sofa to himself and Mark and Gary have to share????


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