Comment: Tale of woe complete for Negouai

Last updated : 07 July 2005 By Ben Collins
The Frenchman will be returning to Belgium after City boss Stuart Pearce accepted a nominal fee from Standard Liege.

The 27-year-old midfielder was signed by Kevin Keegan from another Belgian side Charleroi in November 2001 for £1.5m and had an immediate impact, scoring on his home debut against Rotherham.

However, the truth is that his ‘headed’ goal was in fact a clear handball which somehow went unspotted and it was the first in a series of bizarre episodes during his City career.

In the next game, a league cup defeat at Blackburn, Negouai was sent off within 26 minutes after being shown two yellow cards by Uriah Rennie, although I thought Negouai was harshly done by.

Nevertheless, Negouai lost his place in the starting line-up and failed to make another league start for City.

He made a handful of substitute appearances in the rest of the 2001-02 campaign before suffering an injury as he was warming up for the 2002-03 season.

Rather than waiting to consult City’s medical staff though he chose to receive treatment from an independent specialist which actually made the injury worse so what should have been a routine problem kept him out for the entire season.

He returned to first-team action in August 2003 as Keegan fielded a reserves line-up to face TNS at the Millennium Stadium and Negouai even managed to score in the UEFA Cup clash. But that was as good as it got for Negouai, although he did have a good run in the reserves last season.

At 6ft 4in he was seen as a potential target man and he adapted to the new role well as along with Bradley Wright-Phillips, he scored regularly to help the reserves to a second-placed league finish.

That saw him called up for first-team action in October against Arsenal in the league cup, where he came on as a second-half sub, but he pulled a hamstring and had to be replaced just minutes after coming on.

"He is a big lad and he ran down the touchline, fell over and pulled a muscle,” said Keegan at the time. “Christian comes over and tells me he has pulled a hamstring, so I ended up subbing my sub."

And after returning to full fitness in December he had another noteworthy appearance from the bench, incurring a straight red card within three minutes (although again I thought he was a little unlucky).

He was then sent out on loan to Coventry but it was the same old story with the big man playing just a game and a half in a month.

Anyway, best of luck Christian and thanks for the memories. If nothing else, it was very entertaining!