December 2006
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West Ham 0 Man City 1               Yank spanks the 'ammers
Saturday 30th December 2006 : Debra Fairfax for GYKO at Upton Park

Manchester City eased their own relegation fears with a 1-0 win at West Ham which kept the home side firmly
Picturestuck in the Barclays Premiership's bottom three.

Substitute DaMarcus Beasley fired in the only goal of the game with seven minutes remaining with a run and finish far superior to anything which happened before or after.

The result allowed City to record back-to-back wins for the first time in more than 14 months while condemning Alan Curbishley's side to their second successive defeat at a ground where Manchester United and Arsenal had earlier been beaten.

Both sides began without key players, with suspended City midfielder Joey Barton replaced by Stephen Jordan and the side rejigged to include England defender Micah Richards in the middle.

Bans robbed West Ham of skipper Nigel Reo-Coker and Paul Konchesky, who were replaced by Lee Bowyer and Christian Dailly, and there was no place even on the bench for top scorer Bobby Zamora as he had failed to find the net since early September.

Barton and Zamora's absences meant there was no-one on the pitch with more than two goals to his name and it showed as the first half passed with barely a flicker of excitement.

Hayden Mullins and then Bowyer attempted to beat City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver with efforts from outside the box but both were comfortably saved and the game passed the half-hour mark with little more of note.

A moment of quality was desperately needed and Teddy Sheringham, the oldest man on the pitch and Zamora's replacement, looked the best bet to provide it.

City's Micah Richards beats Christian Dailly to a high ballCity centre-back Richard Dunne had to be alert to stop the veteran setting up Marlon Harewood for a shot and then, in the 39th minute, Sheringham came close to getting on the scoresheet himself.

Sylvain Distin's carelessness had put City in danger as his attempted clearance was headed to Harewood by Sheringham, who quickly collected a pass from his colleague before seeing his drive deflected inches wide for a corner.

Sheringham had another go before the break, firing wide of Weaver's near post after Yossi Benayoun had played a corner into his path.

The half ended with Darius Vassell being booked for a foul on Mullins to join Jonathan Spector in the book after the American had complained too much about a 25th-minute free-kick award.

The second began with Sheringham firing a free-kick well over but when he was granted a second attempt a few minutes later he was only just off-target.

Carlos Tevez's name had been chanted by the West Ham faithful as he warmed up on the touchline and there was a huge cheer when he replaced Matthew Etherington in the 56th minute.

Tevez immediately went on a run that was checked on the edge of the City box before embarking on another from his own half.

City were able to break out of their own half only occasionally but one foray forward saw Richards fire wide after Vassell had set him up.

Stuart Pearce sent on Beasley for Stephen Ireland in the 65th minute before Dailly fired across goal and wide from 25 yards.

Sheringham was replaced in the 68th minute by Carlton Cole and two minutes later City swapped Bernardo Corradi for Giorgios Samaras.

The Greek saw a shot blocked but Vassell was quick to seize on the rebound and forced Robert Green into a rare save with an effort from the edge of the box.

Tevez almost broke the deadlock as the minutes ticked away with a burst of speed that opened up a full sight of goal, but although his 20-yard shot had the beating of Weaver it also cleared the crossbar.

Then, with just seven minutes remaining, Beasley scored a goal that was much better than the game itself. First he pushed the ball between two defenders and outpaced them both to reach the box and blast past Green into the net.

Harewood fired a late chance wide and four minutes of added time saw the Hammers pile men forward, including goalkeeper Green.

But City held on to condemn the Hammers to the prospect of a very unhappy new year.

Get Your Kits Out View : Not the best of games again but a valuable win and our first double of the season. The rumour mill is developing with the Transfer window about to blow open - Barton and Richards look likely to go as all the classic denials are in place. A new era is on the horizon for our club and the sale of our best players will confirm our stature as a famous club rather than a top club I fear. Pleased about today's result though, 10th place and 14 points from safety but still worry about which direction the club is heading in.

West Ham: Green, Dailly, Ferdinand, Gabbidon (Mears 86), Spector, Benayoun, Bowyer, Mullins, Etherington (Tevez 56), Sheringham (Cole 68), Harewood.
Subs Not Used: Carroll, Noble.

Booked: Spector.

Man City: Weaver, Onuoha, Dunne, Distin, Jordan, Trabelsi, Ireland (Beasley 65), Dabo, Richards, Vassell (Miller 88), Corradi (Samaras 70).
Subs Not Used: Isaksson, Thatcher.

Booked: Vassell, Jordan.

Goals: Beasley 83.

Att: 34,574

Ref: S Bennett (Kent).


Sheffield United 0 Manchester City 1
Monday 26th December 2006 : Ian Parkes for GYKO at Bramhall Lane

Stephen Ireland finally scored his first goal for Manchester City as Stuart Pearce's side ended a run of threePicture successive defeats. Making his 39th appearance for the club, midfielder Ireland drove home a 78th-minute winner to hand Sheffield United a second loss in four days over the Christmas period.

The rare away win, only City's second in 10 matches on the road, means there is now daylight between themselves and the relegation zone, while United drop to 17th.

If ever there was a case for the introduction of instant replay, though, this was one of those games as referee Mark Clattenburg will not look back on his performance with too much pride. The opening 10 minutes at Bramall Lane were certainly nothing to write home about before a bizarre period of football followed.

It started in the 11th minute, with United goalkeeper Paddy Kenny crouching down to scoop up a 30-yard drive from Ousmane Dabo. On the second bounce, the ball reared up and hit Kenny in the face, forcing him to give chase with City striker Bernardo Corradi for the rebound. Kenny just managed to kick the ball away via an outstretched leg, taking the Italian with him as United survived.

Then five minutes later came the first of three handball appeals, all of which should have been given.

The first of those arose after Nicky Weaver had turned aside a 20-yard drive from Stephen Quinn, resulting in a corner from Keith Gillespie. The out swinging delivery eventually fell to Claude Davis who teed himself up for a drive that was blocked with both hands by Micah Richards. Despite strong protests from Davis, Quinn and Michael Tonge, Clattenburg claimed the ball had come off Richards' hip.

After Weaver superbly saved a dipping 20-yard half-volley from Phil Jagielka in the 19th minute, City had the first of their penalty appeals waved aside six minutes later. Skipping over the challenge of Davis, Joey Barton made his way to the deadball line and turned in a cross to the near post. Darius Vassell nicked the ball goalwards, only for United captain Chris Morgan's left hand to intervene, but still there was no spot kick.

Worse followed in the 28th minute, with Rob Kozluk fortunate not to be issued with a red card for the most deliberate case of handball. A Barton corner to the far post was headed back by Richards across the goal-line where right-back Kozluk punched the ball away with his left hand in front of Vassell. A number of City players voiced their protests, yet Clattenburg remained unmoved, and Kozluk stayed on the pitch.

Aside from one Kenny save, diving to his left to push away a 20-yard curled effort from Stephen Ireland, the remainder of the half petered out in front of a season-high crowd of 32,591.

Fortunately for Clattenburg, there were no further penalty appeals to deal with in a second half that was initially dominated by the Blades.

Despite intense pressure at one stage, Weaver was never troubled other than by a 20-yard drive from Chris Armstrong, who had replaced the injured Derek Geary in the 26th minute.

While Quinn also hooked a close-range effort over the crossbar, it should have been City who broke the deadlock just before the hour.

A mistake from Davis in attempting to deal with a long throw from Sylvain Distin left Georgios Samaras with only Kenny to beat from the edge of the six-yard box. But the half-time substitute for Corradi sliced his shot so far wide it resulted in a throw to United.

The City goal then survived another onslaught in the 73rd minute, with Hulse and Jagielka headers cleared, the latter from a redeeming Samaras in front of goal.

It proved crucial as City netted the winner 12 minutes from time, with Ireland personally off the mark with his first goal for the club.

A long ball from Hatem Trabelsi from inside his own half was chested down by Samaras on the edge of the area for Ireland to drive a left-foot shot into the bottom right-hand corner beyond Kenny. A fine goal for the Ireland International.

Another rally followed from United in the dying stages, but City defended superbly, led by captain Richard Dunne, while Weaver made another fine stop to deny 76th-minute substitute Christian Nade.

Get Your Kits Out View : Thank goodness December is over, what a terrible month. A very much appreciated win today but it mustn't hide our failings against one of the worst sides in the Premiership. This game could have quite easily gone the other way but for some heroics from Weaver and Dunne. Time for SP to clear the deadwood and either bring through a couple of the youngsters or make a couple of decent signings, not players for the future or injury prone foreigners - but for keeping us in the Premiership, we don't want to play the Blades next season.


Sheff Utd Kenny, Kozluk, Morgan, Davis (Bromby 68),Geary (Armstrong 26), Gillespie, Jagielka, Tonge,Stephen Quinn, Webber (Nade 76), Hulse.

Subs Not Used: Alan Quinn, Kazim-Richards.

Booked: Bromby, Morgan.

Man City Weaver, Richards, Dunne, Onuoha (Jordan 85), Distin, Trabelsi, Barton, Dabo, Ireland, Vassell (Miller 90),Corradi (Samaras 46).

Subs Not Used: Isaksson, Beasley.

Booked: Barton.

Goals: Ireland 78.

Att: 32,591

Ref: M Clattenburg (Co Durham).


Manchester City 0 Bolton  2         The Elk strikes back
Saturday December 24, 2006 : Duncan Mackay for GYKO at The City of Manchester Stadium

Nicolas Anelka who scored 46 goals during a two-and-half-year spell with City returned to haunt former club with two goals in Bolton's impressive win at Eastlands.
The Frenchman (pictured below right) latched on to Nicky Hunt's superb flicked pass to lash in the first at the near post. Picture

Stuart Pearce's commitment to honesty is to be encouraged, but perhaps in retrospect he will regret giving sub-editors the material to conjure up headlines in the morning papers yesterday that suggested he believed Nicolas Anelka had wasted his talent during a nomadic career, which has so far taken in four Premiership clubs, including Manchester City.
As soon as the papers hit the streets, it was probably written in the stars that City's record Ł13.5m signing would ram Pearce's words back down his throat - which he did with his fifth and sixth goals since signing for Bolton, where Sam Allardyce once again appears to have discovered the magic key to unlock the potential of a foreigner with a dodgy reputation.

Of course, the likelihood is that it will turn sour for Anelka under Allardyce as it has done with everyone else he has played for. But, for the moment, the Frenchman can do no wrong with the Bolton fans. Indeed, with this powerful performance he probably just reinforced what Pearce was saying; that here is a striker who should still be with one of Europe's major powerhouses.
It took him only seven minutes to remind the Eastlands fans of his undoubted skills by converting a fluid four-man Bolton move into the net following a final pass from Stephen Hunt.

His second effort was sandwiched between a moment of controversy when City's Paul Dickov was convinced he had scored almost immediately from the kick-off when his header appeared to be over the line before Bolton keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen scrambled it away.

Emboldened by their let-off, Bolton resumed their almost total control of the match and it was little surprise that they doubled their lead in the 25th minute when the burly Danish midfielder Henrik Pedersen, picked out on the eve of this match by Allardyce as one of the Premiership's most underrated players, ran at the home defence and set up Anelka to caress the ball home.

For City this was another one of those frustrating days when their fans fear that Pearce - who is hugely liked here -is not the right man for a difficult job, and that if they are not careful the new year could herald an unpleasant few months fighting relegation.

For the players, none feels the fans' pain more than Joey Barton, who can always be relied on to throw himself wholeheartedly into the cause whatever the occasion. Unfortunately, he demonstrated what a fine line it is between wholehearted and reckless when, in the 87th minute, he was sent off for a late two-footed challenge on Senegalese midfielder Abdoulaye Faye, which fortunately did no damage. Except perhaps to Barton's chances of an England call-up.

It was little wonder that at the end that it was 'Psycho' Pearce who wore a mask of anger after the match while 'Le Sulk' Anelka had a huge smile on his face.

Get Your Kits Out View : Not just another bad day at the office, more a serious warning to the players and management that unless there is a change in both playing style and attitude it's goodbyr to the Premiership and shed loads of dosh at the end of another crap season. Forty thousand fans have been let down yet again. No excuses we were not good enough against a well organised Bolton and of course they had a decent striker who wasn't good enough for us apparently.

Man City: Weaver, Onuoha, Dunne, Distin, Thatcher (Dabo 56), Trabelsi, Barton, Ireland, Miller, Vassell, Dickov (Samaras 55).Subs Not Used: Isaksson, Jordan, Beasley.

Sent Off: Barton (87).

Booked: Dickov.

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Hunt, Meite, Ben Haim, Pedersen (Gardner 87), Nolan, Campo, Faye, Speed, Anelka, Diouf (Vaz Te 72).Subs Not Used: Walker, Teimourian, Tal.

Booked: Diouf, Faye, Hunt.

Goals: Anelka 8, 25.

Att: 40,157.

Ref: M Riley (W Yorkshire).


Manchester City 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2      Blue Sunday
Sunday 17th December 2006 : Stephen Taylor for GYKO at the COMSTAD

 If Sven-Göran Eriksson had been in Stuart Pearce’s shoes yesterday, the former England head coach mightJoey Barton celebrates his goal have described Manchester City’s showing as “first half bad, second half good”. This was a Jekyll and Hyde performance, and as despondent home supporters filed out of the City of Manchester Stadium to the tune of Chris Rea’s Driving Home For Christmas, a little consistency over the festive period would probably be their foremost wish.
City had only conceded one goal during an eight-game unbeaten sequence at home going into this match, but, for the first 45 minutes at least, appeared determined to let Tottenham Hotspur run up a cricket score. Haphazard defending, even poorer passing and a master class in anonymity from Georgios Samaras, the striker, allowed Tottenham the freedom to do as they pleased.

How City trailed only 2-0 at the interval, when they exited to a chorus of boos, was a mystery, but having failed to put the game to bed, Tottenham were forced to endure a nervy final 25 minutes when Joey Barton pulled a goal back, sidefooting home Paul Dickov’s cross on the volley. It might have ended all square had Barton not been denied a penalty five minutes from time when he was clumsily upended by Steed Malbranque.

Handing teams a lead, as Pearce admitted, is “unacceptable” in the Barclays Premiership, however, and the City manager had sympathy for the fan who was carted away by police after attempting to clamber over a fence behind the technical area shortly after Tottenham scored their second goal, presumably to castigate Pearce and his players.

“People pay good money and they can vent their feeling,” Pearce said. “I was frustrated and if I was a supporter I would have vented my frustration. That performance was unacceptable as a collective in the first half, but credit to the players, they rolled their sleeves up in the second half when it would have been easy to go under.”

Tottenham were two goals to the good inside 24 minutes, although the visiting team would have been out of sight had Sylvain Distin not cleared Dimitar Berbatov’s shot off the line. Tottenham, ultimately, had Tom Huddlestone to thank for a sixth victory in seven matches in all competitions and their first away win of the season.

The 19-year-old midfield player planted a perfect free kick on to the head of Calum Davenport to nod Tottenham in front and thrashed home a half-volley from Hossam Ghaly’s pass that was worthy of winning any game.

Get Your Kits Out View : Just not good enough - that's all that I can think after another horror show at the COMSTAD.  20 points from 18 games - three points off the relegation zone - level on points with Sheffield United - Talk on Friday in the Man U Evening News was a place in Europe, they must be mad!!

  • Man City: Weaver, Richards (Ireland 30), Dunne, Distin, Jordan, Trabelsi, Barton, Reyna (Dabo 69), Vassell, Dickov, Samaras (Onuoha 46).
    Subs Not Used: Isaksson, Miller.

    Booked: Dunne. Goals: Barton 64.

    Tottenham: Robinson, Chimbonda, Davenport, King, Lee, Ghaly, Huddlestone, Malbranque, Tainio, Berbatov, Defoe (Mido 83).
    Subs Not Used: Cerny, Stalteri, O'Hara, Gardner.

    Goals: Davenport 16, Huddlestone 24.

    Att: 39,825

    Ref: R Styles (Hampshire).

  • Man UniŁed 3 Manchester City 1     A walk on the dark side

    Saturday 9th December 2006 : Simon Stone for Get Your Kits Out at Stretford Arena

    Manchester City's 32-year wait for an Old Trafford win goes on but UniŁed moved another step closer in their quest to end a three-year title drought with another derby-day triumph.

    Cristiano Ronaldo's late goal ensured UniŁed marched nine points clear of Chelsea at the Premiership summit.

    For 12 nervy minutes after Hatem Trabelsi's magnificent effort had breathed fresh life into a contest which saw City battle hard without ever looking likely to win, UniŁed were a bundle of nerves.

    But Ronaldo calmed them by turning home Rooney's cross six minutes from the end before Bernardo Corradi was sent off at the death.

    Having already established a six-point lead over a Chelsea side who face Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, there was much more than just local pride at stake for Ferguson's men.

    City made their intentions known from the start as Joey Barton clattered into Ronaldo in the opening seconds.

    It was the type of treatment Ferguson has long lamented and, given Barton escaped with a warning, it was a little surprising Ben Thatcher was booked for merely blocking off the Portugal winger a little later on.

    By that time though, Ronaldo had already played a major role in giving UniŁed the flying start they craved.

    A major criticism of the youngster is his failure to spot an early pass. No such allegation could be made against him on this occasion though as he seized possession by the right touchline and instantly spotted Rooney unmarked inside the City box.

    The cross was accurate but Sylvain Distin should really have cut it out.

    Instead, the ball rolled underneath the Frenchman's outstretched leg, straight to Rooney, who gleefully drilled home his eighth goal of the campaign.

    He might have had a second not long afterwards too as he strode on to Saha's through ball.

    This time, Distin was fully alive to the danger and used all his pace to get back and deny the England man a shooting chance.

    It was the kind of last-ditch defending City had to do on more than one occasion, yet, despite the speed of UniŁed's attacking play, the visitors enjoyed just as much possession with Joey Barton, turning out despite a recent family bereavement, impressing.

    Twice they might have equalised thanks to the prodigious talent of Micah Richards.

    Unfortunately for the Blues, on the first occasion, when the 18-year-old won two separate headers inside the UniŁed box, Richards was wide of the target. On the second, Richards might have found the net had Georgios Samaras not stopped the ball with his back to goal barely two yards out before turning and scooping his own shot over.

    It proved to be a costly miss as UniŁed extended their lead before half-time when Blues skipper Richard Dunne was robbed of possession close to his own box.

    Instantly, Gabriel Heinze swept the cross into the City box, allowing Saha to bundle home with the aid of a ricochet off Nicky Weaver and the underside of the bar.

    Given City's dismal scoring record this term, it should have been game over. It certainly appeared so for most of the second half as UniŁed dominated.

    The hosts had another keeper as Andreas Isaksson, dogged by injury since his summer arrival from Rennes, was handed his debut as Weaver succumbed to a blow he picked up trying to keep out Saha's goal.

    Isaksson got plenty of chance to show City boss Stuart Pearce what he has been missing, three times denying Rooney alone, the latter effort a superb point-blank stop after Ryan Giggs - on his historic 688th appearance - had picked him out with a far-post cross.

    The value of Isaksson's efforts became apparent when Trabelsi, shown inside by an unsuspecting UniŁed defence, let rip with a thunderous 20-yard shot Van der Sar had little chance of keeping out.

    All of a sudden, even though Richards was forced out of the battle with a serious-looking injury, there was an obvious state of nervousness among the UniŁed team, not helped by the fact that six minutes before City had scored, Ferguson had replaced Saha with John O'Shea, leaving Rooney and Ronaldo as their only attacking outlet.

    UniŁed lived on the edge until redemption arrived when Rooney turned onto Gary Neville's pass, then driving over a cross that unluckily flicked off the excellent Dunne, straight into the path of Ronaldo, who finished off from close range.

    Get Your Kits Out View : Not too pleased with the result but City put in a decent enough performance although I felt Corradi's dive at the end was a blot on his recent form, schoolboy error. Time to regroup and set up for the battles that lie ahead. Fingers crossed that Micah Richard's injury isn't as bad as it looked. Scholes is one UniŁed player I have always admired but he appears to do more and more reckless tackles which I don't believe are malicious but they can't all be blamed on his dodgy eyesight.

    Man UniŁed: Van der Sar, Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic, Heinze, Ronaldo, Carrick, Scholes, Giggs, Rooney, Saha (O'Shea 66).

    Subs Not Used: Kuszczak, Solskjaer, Fletcher, Silvestre.

    Booked: Rooney.

    Goals: Rooney 6, Saha 45, Ronaldo 84.

    Man City: Weaver (Isaksson 46), Richards (Beasley 76), Dunne, Distin, Thatcher, Trabelsi, Reyna (Ireland 46), Barton, Vassell, Corradi, Samaras.

    Subs Not Used: Dickov, Onuoha.

    Sent Off: Corradi (90).

    Booked: Thatcher, Reyna, Corradi.

    Goals: Trabelsi 72.

    Att: 75,858

    Ref: G Poll (Hertfordshire).


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