Manchester City 1 Roll on
Sunday May 13th 2007 : Simon Burnton for GYKO at
White Hart Lane
The fifth place that Tottenham secured yesterday was greeted with
delight among the very same supporters who considered an identical
final placing something of a disappointment a year ago, but in truth
the league position is the only similarity between their last two
Martin Jol's achievement this year has been in sustaining the
standard of his team's performances while increasing the number of
them. There were 40 games last season and 59 this, enough for Jol to
acclaim "our best season of the last 20 years".
Much of the credit must go to Dimitar Berbatov. The Bulgarian scored
Tottenham's first goal of the season and yesterday he scored their
last as well. But if the future looks bright at White Hart Lane, the
Manchester City manager cannot be sure if he has a future at all.
His side probably deserved a point here, but a finish of 14th might
not be enough to secure Pearce's position if a rumoured Thai
takeover takes place this summer. "Whether I'm going to be here next
season or not is out of my hands. I hope it's me but if it isn't me
I'll move on and manage elsewhere," said Pearce.
If this proves his final game he might still be cursing Berbatov as
he clears his desk. In addition to scoring the winner the
26-year-old had a hand, or rather a backheel, in his team's first.
His touch to Didier Zokora surprised the City defence and when
Jermaine Jenas lifted the ball into the box Robbie Keane scampered
clear to volley in. Then in the 32nd minute a lucky break saw him
with time and space on the edge of the area and his finish beat
Andreas Isaksson at his near post.
City were destabilised by the early departure of Sylvain Distin, but
improved after a poor start. Only two excellent saves from Paul
Robinson, to deny Darius Vassell in the first half and Emile Mpenza
in the second, prevented them from adding to the Belgian's
40th-minute header. Isaksson made a couple of decent saves himself,
including one from Jermain Defoe's 86th-minute penalty, awarded
after Richard Dunne was harshly judged to have brought down Zokora.
Get Your Kits Out View : I suppose a decent effort but I'm
just glad it's all over this season - enough said I think.....
Tottenham Robinson, Chimbonda, Dawson, King, Gardner,Lennon (Malbranque
75), Jenas, Zokora, Tainio,Keane (Defoe 81), Berbatov.
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Huddlestone, Assou-Ekotto.
Goals: Keane 10, Berbatov 32.
Man City Isaksson, Onuoha, Dunne, Distin (Hamann 28), Jordan,
Vassell, Jihai, Johnson, Ireland, Beasley (Samaras 81), Mpenza.
Subs Not Used: Weaver, Dickov, Laird.
Goals: Mpenza 40.
Ref: S Bennett (Kent).
Manchester City 0
Manchester UniŁed 1 Point Lost.
Saturday 4th April 2007 : Get
Your Kits Out at the COMSTAD
In the frenetic opening moments, Ball took the
opportunity to aim a stamp into Ronaldo's midriff while the
double player of the year was grounded. The thought occurred that it
was just as well Joey Barton was not in the vicinity. Ferguson
railed on the touchline. The City fans wailed back. The temperature
soared. What must Jose Mourinho have thought watching on television?
A symbol of game on?
Hardly. It was more of a clue as to what would
decide this crucial instalment of the Premiership quest.
Ball was on a mission to stop Ronaldo more by foul means than fair.
Unfortunately for City, they had no other means of squaring up to
This particular duel aside, it was too cagey a
spectacle to set the pulses racing. United were comfortable, if
tired. City were toothless. Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand struck
the bar from set pieces in the opening 25 minutes. United's
breakthrough arrived shortly after and it was no surprise to see the
joint catalysts were Ronaldo and his gritty shadow. When Smith's
crossfield pass found Ronaldo, the overture to his dribble consisted
of two stepovers - evidently a red rag to Ball's bull. The City
left-back dived in and naively kicked at Ronaldo's foot. Rob Styles
pointed for a penalty without hesitation and the boy himself
relished the chance to put United in front.
Ronaldo, hardly one to keep things simple if
there is some showmanship to be had, used the old Robbie Fowler
routine. He stepped forward, stopped, then whacked his spot-kick low
into the corner. It was his seventeenth Premiership goal of a
campaign Ferguson described as 'a fantastic season for the boy'.
There was little evidence that City could
respond to peg United back, considering the closest they came to
troubling Van der Sar until their 80th-minute penalty was a volley
from Emile Mpenza aimed nicely at the goalkeeper's chest. Stuart
Pearce tried to inject a fraction more energy when he replaced the
creaking Dietmar Hamann with Sun Jihai at the interval. But the
second half served up more of the same as United stroked the ball
around without exerting too much of what was left of their mental
and physical power after arriving home deflated from Milan at 5am on
Ten minutes from time, United's title
advantage hung in the balance as Ball jinked into the area and was
felled by Wes Brown. Styles awarded the second penalty of the match.
Thousands of Chelsea fans willed Darius Vassell to do the honours,
but the former England striker shot straight down the middle of the
goal, enabling Van der Sar to pull off a theatrical save with his
legs. And the Dutchman knew it, roaring to the heavens before the
ball had even been cleared.
And so the chance for City to end their uneasy
run without a goal at home was dashed. They have not
scored at the City of Manchester Stadium since New Year's Day. On
this evidence they may not until 2008. 'Putting the ball in the back
of the net is our Achilles' heel,' lamented Pearce afterwards. 'It
is what we have to address going into next season.'
Unsurprisingly, the stadium was half empty by
the time the City players re-emerged for a sheepish lap of honour.
Their fans may feel like hibernating over the next few days. Apart
from the handful who left the ground in the free City scarves that
had been handed out singing 'We're all going to Wembley'.
Get Your Kits Out View : Best City could do under the
circumstances although a draw would not have been undeserved. I'm
not unhappy about Michael Ball's attack on the Ladyboy, a bit
Thatcheresque but that guy needs a good kicking. One more game to go
and then good riddance to this miserable season and hopefully a good
clear out before the next campaign begins. Corradi, Dabo, Sinclair,
Hamann, Beasley, Dickov just for starters.
Man City: Isaksson, Onuoha, Dunne,
Distin, Ball, Hamann (Jihai 46), Vassell, Johnson, Ireland (Dickov
69), Beasley (Sinclair 61), Mpenza.
Subs Not Used: Weaver, Samaras.
Booked: Johnson, Dickov.
Man Utd: Van der Sar, Brown, Ferdinand,
Vidic, Heinze, Ronaldo, Carrick, Scholes, Giggs, Smith (Fletcher
73), Rooney (O'Shea 87).
Subs Not Used: Kuszczak, Solskjaer, Richardson.
Booked: Van der Sar, Giggs.
Goals: Ronaldo 34 pen.
Att: 47,244 Ref: R Styles (Hampshire).