In an effort to force Craig Bellamy to hand in a transfer request, Roberto Mancini has told Bellamy that he must face a series of non-league teams in pre-season friendlies.
"I have already told him to play against Altrincham," said Mancini. "To his credit he did turn up at the ground, if not play to his ability on the pitch. For this reason I am also going to play him against Stalybridge Celtic on Wednesday. I am hoping that if we continue to play him against these minnows he will hand in a transfer request."
Stalybridge Celtic, for their part, don't mind that City are only playing Bellamy to make him quit.
"This is good news for us," said manager Jim Harvey. "Even the hope that there will be players of the calibre of Bellamy, Onuoha or Johnson will get people through the turnstiles."
Bellamy, who has earned about ten grand for every minute he has played for the first team, seems to be quite happy in the Sky Blue of Manchester City. One week's wage for Bellamy could fund the teams he is up against for an entire season.
"It's a job, isn't, boyo?" he said. "They could play me against West Allotment Celtic for all I care."
The disparity between the players Manchester City reserves will field in their pre-season campaign and those teams they are up again is plain to see.
"These boys are all top notch prospects, or old pros," said Harvey. "Their lowest paid player is on the same as our entire squad, and to be honest that's the way it should be. They attract the best the world has to offer by paying top whack."
Harvey admits that it will be a tough game for his charges. "Aye, they'll be up against it all right. I think we might surprise them a little though. After all, football is only twenty percent skill. The other ninety percent is a will to win."
When it was pointed out that this is more than a hundred percent, Harvey gave a knowing smile. "I know," he said. "My players give a hundred and ten percent in every game. If these City boys come with less, then they'll definitely be an upset on the cards."