Aston Villa 1 Manchester City 3
Thrilla at the Villa
Wednesday November 29th 2006 : Stuart James for GYKO
at Villa Park
City must wish they could play Aston Villa every week. Stuart Pearce
has seen his side's away record ridiculed over the past 12 months
but the City manager could have been forgiven for picking out this
fixture as the evening when everything would change. City's last win
on their travels came here in April, a three-point haul that
stretched their unbeaten record against Villa to nine matches. That
sequence entered double figures last night as City provided Villa
with a reality check.
Only 24 hours earlier Martin O'Neill had told a reporter he should
see a doctor when he suggested Villa might finish in the top four,
and the possibility of Champions League football next season seemed
nothing more than pipedream for much of this contest. City outplayed
Villa for long periods and ought to have secured victory, only their
second away from home this year, long before half-time. As it was, a
wonderful Sylvain Distin goal 15 minutes from time did the job.
It was a chastening experience for Randy Lerner, the Villa owner
watching from the stands draped in a club scarf. He is due to hold
talks with O'Neill today and tomorrow to discuss transfer targets in
January, with the case for bringing in new faces strengthened
considerably courtesy of Pearce's players. One of those, Darius
Vassell, continued his extraordinary record against Villa, scoring
City's first to make it five goals in as many games against his
O'Neill had sought to play down talk of City's hex on Villa, fearful
that his players might start believing they were cursed. However,
his hopes appeared forlorn long before Vassell gave City a deserved
lead in the 18th minute. The visitors had been superb early on as
they moved the ball around with confidence, carving Villa open with
relative ease. Indeed, at times it was as much as Villa could do to
get into the City half, their inability to retain possession clearly
The Villa manager must have sensed that it was only a matter of time
before City earned the reward that their bright opening merited and
that moment arrived through a familiar face. Vassell's departure
last year is still lamented by many Villa fans who believe he was
discarded too quickly, and every time the forward faces his former
team-mates he seems intent on proving that very point. He might even
have had a hat-trick before the first half reached the midway point
such was City's dominance.
City were rampant, their second goal, converted by Joey Barton in
the 33rd minute, confirming their overwhelming superiority. Distin's
slide-rule pass released Georgios Samaras and although the Greek
international was forced to run wide he still had the time, and
freedom, to take a touch before picking out Barton's sprint into the
area. Without breaking his stride, the midfielder stroked the ball
past Stuart Taylor and inside the near post.
The Villa goalkeeper had been exposed in similar fashion when
Vassell put City ahead. Micah Richards linked with Hatem Trabelsi on
the right before the Tunisian swung a curling cross into the Villa
area. His delivery was flicked on astutely by Bernardo Corradi for
Vassell, lurking at the far post, to hammer an eight-yard drive
beyond Taylor. Three minutes earlier Vassell had seen his shot
turned around the post by Taylor and four minutes later his diving
header flew narrowly over.
Villa were abject. Samaras's snapshot from the edge of the area
after six minutes, which was beaten away by Taylor, should have
served as a warning but it was the stroke of half-time before the
home side stirred. Then Stilian Petrov struck a free-kick from 30
yards that hit the crossbar and bounced down on the line. Villa
appealed in vain for a goal but anything less than a two-goal lead
for City at the interval would have been a gross injustice.
Villa improved after the restart, with Juan Pablo Angel driving over
the angle of crossbar and post before Petrov saw his deflected shot
from the edge of the area pawed clear by Nicky Weaver. City's threat
remained and a third goal ought to have followed in the 58th minute.
Samaras fed Corradi, but the Italian's shot was palmed away by
Taylor before the Villa keeper clambered to his feet to deny
Gavin McCann's speculative strike prompted the possibility of a
Villa comeback but Distin, running from inside his own half before
playing a one-two with Samaras and then beating Taylor, made sure
City extended their hoodoo.
Get Your Kits Out View : Just what City needed. Now they must
reflect on their past performances and face the fact that this is
now the bench mark of what we expect of them. Clearly the best side
for most of the game, with a little more care could have scored six.
Can they continue on Saturday against Watford, my main concern is
that we can gain three points and avoid injury for the oncoming
derby game at OT.
Aston Villa Taylor, Mellberg, Cahill, Ridgewell,Bouma (Davis
63), Agbonlahor, Petrov, McCann, Barry, Angel,Baros.
Subs Not Used: Olejnik, Whittingham, Hughes, Gardner.
Goals: McCann 66.
Man City Weaver, Richards (Onuoha 90), Distin, Dunne,Thatcher,
Trabelsi (Dickov 85), Reyna, Barton, Vassell,Corradi, Samaras (Hamann
Subs Not Used: Hart, Miller.
Goals: Vassell 18, Barton 32, Distin 75.
Ref: M Dean (Wirral).
Manchester City 0 City fail to close down Pool
ISaturday November 26th 2006 :Guy Hodgson at Anfield
for Get Your Kits Out
No wonder Manchester City supporters sing about Blue Moons. Their
team win on their travels about as often as an appearance by the
astronomical phenomenon and yesterday they duly lived down to
expectations. Expect the Sky Blue faithful to pen a ditty about hell
freezing over in the near future.
They did not touch the depths at Anfield yesterday - Sylvain Distin
and Richard Dunne were outstanding, just to pick out the best of
several good defenders - and there was a cohesion about them that
has not always been present this season. But the outcome was the
same and they have accrued only four Premiership points away from
home in the whole of 2006. The New Year cannot come soon enough.
Even the identity of the scorer had a touch of misfortune for the
visitors, because Steven Gerrard has been trying shots from all
angles since April and, in the League at least, they have been
hitting the post, defenders or going wide. True to City's quixotic
nature, he broke his duck in the Premiership, profiting from an
error by the player who regards the Liverpool captain as a role
model: Joey Barton.
Contrary to a performance that ought to have impressed the watching
England coach, Steve McClaren, Barton sold Distin short with a pass
in the 67th minute. Dirk Kuyt slid in from the blind side to pinch
possession and Gerrard thundered in with an unstoppable purpose.
From the edge of the area, there was only one place the ball was
going to go.
"It was a costly mistake," Stuart Pearce, the City manager lamented.
"You can't afford to give the ball to a quality player like Gerrard
25 yards out. Do that and all your planning goes down the pan."
Gerrard's goal came on top of another against PSV Eindhoven in
midweek which will add further fuel to the debate about whether he
ought to occupy a permanent place in central midfield. "It was
important for him to get goals, because it gives him confidence,"
the Liverpool manager, Rafael Benitez, said. "He knows I think he
can become one of the best players in the world."
Pearce had called for a hard-nosed attitude from his players before
the game and he employed a five-man midfield that included England's
new full-back Micah Richards. For more than an hour it proved
Peter Crouch looped over after six minutes, Gerrard shot wide and
Luis Garcia found the side-netting when he should have made more of
Nedum Onuoha's disorientation in the 33rd minute, but these were
poor pickings given the amount of possession Liverpool enjoyed.
City's line-up ensured they needed to attack on the break and the
tactic almost paid off twice. Barton curled a delightful pass down
the right to Richards in the first half and he turned his pass
inside, only for Bernardo Corradi to pull his shot tamely wide. The
Italian almost profited, too, in the 60th minute when Ben Thatcher's
long pass caused such confusion in the home defence that Darius
Vassell and Richards won headers but Corradi was just awry with a
shot from the edge of the area.
That proved to be the prelude to Gerrard's goal and, after that, the
result was close to a foregone conclusion. City went into attack
mode, pressed forward and gave the impression they could have played
until Christmas and still not scored. It is becoming a familiar
Get Your Kits Out View : Not a great game on the eye but slowly
City are putting in much better performances. I liked the way SP
gave Richards a more advanced mid field role which I would like to
see more often. Onuoha looked competent at right back and the
general all round performance deserved a point in my opinion.
Liverpool: Reina, Finnan,
Carragher, Hyypia, Agger, Luis Garcia (Pennant 59), Gerrard, Zenden,
Riise, Crouch (Fowler 65), Kuyt (Bellamy 89).
Subs Not Used: Dudek, Paletta.
Booked: Luis Garcia, Carragher.
Goals: Gerrard 67.
Man City: Weaver, Onuoha (Samaras 74), Dunne, Distin,
Thatcher, Reyna, Trabelsi (Ireland 85), Richards, Barton, Vassell,
Subs Not Used: Hart, Dickov, Hamann.
Ref: R Styles (Hampshire).
Manchester City 3 Fulham 1
Corradi finally comes to life
Saturday November 18,
2006 : Duncan Mackay for GYKO at The COMSTAD
A chance of a equalling a 32-year-old club record of going seven
matches at home without conceding a
goal slipped away from Manchester City, but any disappointment felt
by manager Stuart Pearce was more than compensated for by the fact
that his strikers, nearly as wasteful as his defenders had been
frugal, finally rediscovered the art of scoring.
With Christmas lights beginning to spring up all over the country,
it was remarkable that City had reached this stage in the season
without having seen their defence breached here, a statistic that
had helped launch Micah Richards into the England side at the age of
only 18. After his impressive start in Amsterdam earlier in the
week, the teenager was given a warm welcome, although it would be
fair to say that there remains concern in the blue half of
Manchester that it will just be a springboard for him to move
elsewhere, just as it was in the case of Shaun Wright-Phillips.
However, the great platform Richards and his team-mates had helped
to create had been undermined by the fact they had scored a mere
seven goals themselves in a dozen fixtures, including only four at
home. So it was typically perverse of City that on the afternoon a
defender was expected to be centre-stage, it should be the attackers
who shone, failing narrowly to double their total of goals scored at
Just as unlikely was that the man who should inspire them to this
victory would be Bernardo Corradi, who before yesterday had failed
to score since joining the club from Valencia in the summer and
whose only memorable moment previously had been to be sent off on
his debut against Chelsea. That unwanted run finally came to an end
after 12 minutes here when he cleverly volleyed a Georgios Samaras
cross home. There then followed a celebration that will surely
feature on a Christmas video next year when he took the corner flag
out of the ground and bestowed a 'knighthood' on Joey Barton.
'He was desperate to score, but he hasn't had the rub of the green,'
said Barton. 'He showed what a class finisher he is, you don't play
for top clubs without being a good player. We've been knocking on
the door in previous games and this has been coming.'
The Italian appeared a different proposition after his goal and had
already gone close on a couple more occasions before he added his
second in the 32nd minute, getting on the end of some good work from
Barton to firmly fire the ball past Antti Niemi from 12 yards.
Corradi was being aided and abetted by Samaras (pictured right),
showing the kind of form that saw the Greece striker linked with
Arsenal before he joined City. But it was Barton, a player whose
workrate is never less than high, who rounded off an amazing first
half for City when they broke clear from a rare Fulham attack, the
midfielder having the simple task of tapping home from Hatem
'The forwards have taken a bit of stick for not scoring, but they
have replied the way I wanted them to and I'm pleased for Bernardo
especially,' said Pearce. 'He has great qualities; he is very
professional in his outlook and great to have around the training
So buoyant were the home crowd that even Collins John ending their
proud record of not having conceded a goal with a chip over Nicky
Weaver in the 62nd minute - a run of more than 10 hours - failed to
dampen the atmosphere. All that could really have topped it off
would have been a goal for Richards from one of his rampaging runs
down the right and he so nearly obliged with a shot in the 78th
minute that many thought had flashed in before they realised it had
in fact hit the side-netting.
Get Your Kits Out View : At last some crumbs of comfort in
another early mid day kick off. Corradi came to life and performed
like a striker should and to a man the teams work rate was
faultless. Barton seems to have settled back into his old stride and
Trabelsi is looking to be a half decent signing. So hopefully things
are on the up but as I said after the West Ham win, lets judge them
from our next game or indeed our next two games at Anfield and Villa
Park. On the down side, if we lose these two I would think today's
lowest Premier League attendance at the COMSTAD could drop even
lower for the visit of relegation candidates Watford - now that
should concern our board.
Man City Weaver, Richards, Dunne, Distin, Thatcher,Trabelsi
(Onuoha 89), Reyna, Barton, Vassell, Corradi,Samaras (Dickov 67).
Subs Not Used: Hart, Ireland, Miller.
Goals: Corradi 12, 32, Barton 45.
Fulham Niemi, Rosenior, Knight, Pearce, Queudrue,Volz (Radzinski
74), Bocanegra (John 46), Diop, Boa Morte,Claus Jensen, McBride (Helguson
Subs Not Used: Lastuvka, Routledge.
Goals: John 62.
Ref: A Wiley (Staffordshire).
Manchester City 0 Newcastle
0 Two more points wasted
Saturday 11th November 2006 :Simon Stone for GYKO at
Graham Poll found himself back in the headlines again after
disallowing a Georgios Samaras goal that
would have given Manchester City a deserved win.
The World Cup official, already in the spotlight following the
high-profile dismissals of John Terry and James McFadden in the past
seven days, cut City's celebrations short when he spotted Bernardo
Corradi pulling Stephen Carr inside the Magpies box midway through
the second half.
It appeared a debatable call and proved to be crucial given Samaras
turned the ball home after Richard Dunne had nodded Joey Barton's
corner goal wards and left City cursing more bad luck.
The hosts, who are still unbeaten and yet to concede a goal at home,
should have wrapped up the points anyway but Barton and Corradi
wasted good chances.
However, they might also be thankful a late Newcastle rally did not
see the Magpies fly off with the points as Kieron Dyer and Antoine
Sibierski both went close before James Milner was left waiting in
vain for a pass in the final second when completely unmarked in the
middle of the City area.
The result does little to ease the pressure on Newcastle boss Glenn
Roeder, whose side have now gone eight games without a win and look
set for a long winter battle to pull themselves clear of trouble.
As neither side could claim to have set the world alight in any
sense this season, a spectacular contest was not expected.
Nevertheless, the sheer awfulness of the opening period still came
as a shock.
It did not take much but undoubtedly, City were the better side.
In Barton they had virtually the only player on the pitch capable of
lifting himself above mediocre.
Once again overlooked for an England call, Barton set about getting
the better of Scott Parker, who has been handed a place in Steve
McClaren's massive squad, and largely succeeded.
The only disappointment for the City man was he did not get his name
on the scoresheet.
Barton did force one good save out of Harper when he nicked the ball
past Parker then let fly with a volley that was heading in until the
Magpies keeper turned it away.
However, it was the chance that came his way even earlier in the
contest Barton probably had more cause to regret.
Hatem Trabelsi cushioned an excellent header into his path after
City keeper Nicky Weaver had launched a huge punt forward, Barton
controlled with his chest, drove into the box but then stroked a
shot beyond the far post when far better could have been expected.
Roeder had opted to give Shola Ameobi one more opportunity before he
heads for hip surgery but the forward barely broke out of a walk and
on the one occasion he did find himself one-on-one with Sylvain
Distin he meekly surrendered possession to the former Newcastle
Newcastle's only opportunity of note fell to young defender Peter
Ramage, who hooked a volley over after new England squad man Micah
Richards' clearing header had bounced into his path.
The second period continued in the same manner as the first, with
Harper again the hero when Barton split the Newcastle offside trap
and found Paul Dickov inside the Magpies box, only for the Scotland
international to see his side-footed effort turned away.
Dickov is yet to find the net in his second spell with the Blues but
must have thought his drought was over as he sent a side-footed shot
towards the far corner, only for Harper to make a fine low stop.
Like Dickov, Corradi is goalless this season and he even better
chance to score with his first touch after replacing Reyna on the
Inexplicably left completely unmarked deep inside the Newcastle box,
Corradi met Barton's free-kick with a firm diving header which
disappointingly failed to test Harper.
It was the start of a lively period for the Italian, who nodded just
wide before Harper got in the way of his close-range flick when
Vassell had crossed.
Corradi's next involvement dragged Poll into the spotlight again.
Given the furore he has created in the past week, no-one could
accuse Poll of a lack of bravery as he ruled out Samaras' header.
It proved to be a major decision for as much as City controlled the
contest never really looked like scoring again, while not even the
arrival of Dyer could get the Magpies airborne.
Get Your Kits Out View : At the end of the day this was
definitely two points lost rather than one won. Newcastle played
with an injured striker and didn't have a shot on target during the
first half. In the second they could have won it 2-0 in the last
five minutes. A better performance by the blues but hardly one to
get excited about. Stuart you must kick some ass if we are going to
be playing Premier football next season because for me this looks
like a long struggle. On a bright note, an astonishing crowd in the
circumstances, is it loyalty or are we suckers for punishment?
Man City: Weaver, Richards, Distin,
Dunne, Thatcher, Trabelsi, Barton, Reyna (Corradi 60), Sinclair,
Dickov (Samaras 60), Vassell.
Subs Not Used: Hart, Ireland, Onuoha.
Newcastle: Harper, Carr (Solano 76), Taylor, Moore, Ramage,
Milner, Emre, Parker, Duff (N'Zogbia 56), Sibierski, Ameobi (Dyer
Subs Not Used: Srnicek, Butt.
Booked: Parker, Taylor, Emre.
Ref: G Poll (Hertfordshire).
Charlton 1 Manchester City 0
Down in the Valley
Saturday November 4th 2006 :Bill
Pierce for GYKO down at The Valley
Darren Bent scored again as Charlton clung on for only their second
Premiership win of the season after
Manchester City failed to end
their away-day misery.
Bent escaped his markers to head home a perfect cross by
man-of-the-match Jerome Thomas just before the half-hour for his
seventh goal of the campaign and could have added more goals.
But in the closing minutes City pressed furiously for an equaliser
and keeper Scott Carson made a full-stretch save from substitute
Bernardo Corradi's header and then pushed the ball out after another
sub, Hatem Trabelsi, struck a post with his shot from outside the
Right at the death Trevor Sinclair hooked a shot inches wide of the
far post, moving in on Trabelsi's cross.
Nobody would have predicted such an action-packed finale after a
After impressive Andy Reid's determined burst in the opening minute
which ended with the Irishman shooting wide under fierce pressure
from Richard Dunne, the game took a long time to warm up.
Charlton's fans have been named in a survey as the quietest in the
Premiership but they did not have much to cheer for the first
half-hour although skipper Luke Young had to clear a goalbound
header from Sinclair and keeper Carson turned away a surprise shot
from adventurous City full-back Micah Richards
But in the 26th minute Thomas set up a chance for Bent with a smart
through-ball and the striker hit a crisp shot from a narrowing angle
which Nicky Weaver did well to block.
Thomas, who broke a metatarsal at the end of last season and
returned to the side after a hip injury, was soon in action again -
at the the other end.
He hacked Micah Richards header from a corner off the line but
Charlton could only half clear the danger and Sinclair forced Carson
to beat away his fierce shot from 20 yards.
And as the match suddenly burst into life, the prolific Bent put
Charlton in front with a glorious header, escaping his markers in
the area to meet Thomas's left-wing cross eight yards out on the
half-hour for his seventh goal of the season.
The effect on Charlton's confidence was dramatic and it took two
defenders to stop Dennis Rommedahl racing clean through the middle
after deftly controlling a pass from Reid.
City kept working hard, though, and a fortunate deflection almost
left Paul Dickov with a golden chance 10 yards out, until Talal El
Karkouri stepped in with a vital tackle.
Charlton complained when referee Chris Foy awarded a 42nd-minute
corner after Richards and Georgios Samaras both rose for a header
and the ball appeared to land in the side-netting without Carson
effecting a touch.
But they stoutly defended the flag kick with skipper Young again
hooking the ball clear after it pinged around the six-yard box.
Home fans who had sporadically jeered City's Ben Thatcher in his
first away game after an eight-game ban for elbowing Portsmouth's
Pedro Mendes, fans booed Joey Barton after what looked like an
arm-led challenge on Thomas, who needed a treatment, but referee
Chris Foy took no action.
Carson athletically kept out a Samaras volley at the expense of a
corner in first-half stoppage time.
But despite taking off the ineffective DaMarcus Beasley and sending
on Darius Vassell before a double change at the front saw Dickov and
Samaras replaced by Trabelsi and Corradi, City struggled to revive
their fortunes in the second half.
They would have been two down just after the hour but for Richards'
vital deflection that took a Souleymane Diawara shot over the
And Diawara's solid central defensive Karkouri was only just wide
with a blast at a short free-kick from Bent who had been bodychecked
on the edge of the area by Claudio Reyna.
Bent lashed another chance wide from Thomas' cross on 75 minutes and
City were heading for their 19th defeat in 23 matches
Manager Stuart Pearce had kept an unchanged side for the first time
in 29 games following last Monday's 1-0 home win over Middlesbrough.
But his belated changes just failed to pay off as Charlton clung to
a hard-earned victory.
Get Your Kits
Out View : Last week after a win against Boro' I said let's
judge the team on Saturdays match at the Valley to see if they
really have upped the ante or ..... Well this just
confirms we are no better than all the other teams at the bottom of
the Premier League. I choose to look at this side not through my
blue tinted eyes but as a long standing fan who can see another
visit to the Championship on the horizon. That would be followed by
a mass unloading of our so called stars i.e. £6 million pound
striker, French centre back with unsigned contract, American
pretenders, Scouse wannabe, useless ex Liverpool cast off any more
besides. Is this really what we have to look forward to???
Charlton Carson, Young, El Karkouri, Diawara,
Hreidarsson,Rommedahl (Hughes 46), Faye, Holland, Reid (Hasselbaink
87),Thomas, Darren Bent.
Subs Not Used: Andersen, Kishishev, Marcus Bent.
Booked: El Karkouri.
Goals: Darren Bent 28.
Man City Weaver, Richards, Dunne, Distin, Thatcher,
Sinclair,Barton, Reyna, Beasley (Vassell 50), Dickov (Corradi
63),Samaras (Trabelsi 63).
Subs Not Used: Hart, Johnson.
Booked: Thatcher, Vassell.
Ref: C Foy (Merseyside).