City miss cutting edge
Louise Taylor for Get Your Kits Out at the City of Manchester Stadium Return to Main Page
Saturday March 27, 2004
The city of Manchester, anxious to reinforce its image as a cool and happening place, will shortly stage a glitzy awards ceremony with a raft of prizes for cutting edge types from inside the M60 ring road.
Manchester City FC and its personnel has been nominated in four categories, among them "Manchester Personality of the Year" (Kevin Keegan) and "Structure of the Year" (the City of Manchester Stadium). Yet with Keegan's side seemingly light years removed from a "Team of the Year" honour, any victories may seem somewhat hollow.
City's apparently talent-studded team sheet appears impressive enough but, as the adage says, "There's many a good looking nowt."
"We just couldn't play through them," lamented Arthur Cox, deputising for Keegan, who was absent with back trouble.
"We played 4-1-4-1 for a reason," conceded the Fulham manager Chris Coleman. "It wasn't pretty and looked negative but I don't care."
Seeing how Sean Davis's 60th-minute shot offered David James his first save and Barry Hayles, Coleman's lone striker - and a man simply not cut out for capitalising on Steed Malbranque's counter- attacking passes in the manner which Louis Saha used to - proved an isolated figure, a goalless draw was evidently the aim.
Had Jeff Winter not turned down two legitimate looking penalty appeals it might well have finished 1-1.
The first arrived in the wake of a double substitution which saw Jon Macken and Paulo Wanchope replace the frequently offside, £20m attacking pairing of Nicolas Anelka and Robbie Fowler.
Alain Goma appeared to have tripped Macken inside the area but the referee was not buying it. Perhaps the echoing howls of home derision preyed on Winter's mind when he rejected a subsequent, apparently even stronger, penalty case after Sylvain Distin felled Luis Boa Morte. Creditably Cox acknowledged City should not be reliant on penalties for points. "Our crosses, through- balls and final passes all lacked quality," he admitted.
City would have to be in serious denial to ignore the possibility of their potentially award-winning stadium hosting First Division football next season.
Man of the match: Antoine Sibierski (Manchester City)