|Manchester City 1 Middlesbrough 0
Dunne Heads Home
Tuesday October 31, 2006 :
Daniel Taylor for GYKO at the COMSTAD
For a manager
supposedly in the midst of a personal crisis, Stuart
Pearce's only concern after an
otherwise hugely satisfying evening may have been the
vast expanses of empty seats. With 12,000 empties,
36,720 was Manchester City's lowest crowd for a
Premiership match since moving to the stadium just over
three years ago. Yet, that apart, this was a cathartic
evening for a man who has openly resented his job
security coming under scrutiny.
It is an unwritten rule of 21st century football that
there must be at least three Premiership managers close
to being sacked, and City are usually guaranteed to
provide one. On this occasion, however, Pearce is
entitled to claim that rumours of City's demise have
been exaggerated, not least given the fact they are the
only top-flight side not to concede a goal at home. They
thoroughly deserved this victory, courtesy of Richard
Dunne's first-half header, and it moves them above
Middlesbrough and Wigan Athletic to 13th position. The
truth is that Pearce was never in danger of losing his
job, but he will be grateful for the breathing space
that should now be afforded him.
Perhaps fittingly for a man who goes by the nickname of
Psycho, Pearce had got rid of the fluffy toy his
daughter gave him as a supposedly lucky charm earlier
this season. Having brought the team about as much good
fortune as Alan Ball, Beanie the Horse will not be
missed by City fans, most of whom were more concerned
with the appearance of the distinctly less cuddly Ben
Thatcher, returning to the team more than nine weeks
after the act of GBH that left Pedro Mendes of
Portsmouth unconscious on a hospital drip.
Thatcher was awarded a standing ovation - why? - as he
returned to the scene of the crime, having served an
eight-match suspension, and it might have been little
coincidence that few visiting players seemed willing to
take him on.
It was bewildering, to put it mildly, that Middlesbrough
did not do more to take the match to their opponents
during the early exchanges. A better side would surely
have sought to undermine City's infamously brittle
self-confidence. Instead, Gareth Southgate's team opted
for a policy of containment and their sterile
unadventurous football encouraged Pearce's men to press
forward, take a territorial advantage and lift the
With their previous manager Steve McClaren watching from
the stand, Middlesbrough did not muster a single attack
worthy of the description during the opening 45 minutes.
City, in comparison, created half a dozen presentable
opportunities without playing particularly well. Pearce,
indeed, was entitled to be disappointed that they
accepted only one of their chances, Dunne leaping above
a bunch of static Lee Cattermole to head in Joey
Barton's corner. From a Middlesbrough perspective, it
was a dreadfully soft goal to concede. From City's point
of view, the relief was palpable.
The exaltation would have been even greater had the
referee Howard Webb penalised Robert Huth's handball
when blocking a Claudio Reyna shot shortly after the
restart. Instead the penalty appeal was turned down and
Middlesbrough slowly began to play with a modicum more
Even then, they struggled to find any width or
penetration, Stewart Downing having a frustrating
evening in front of McClaren, though far from the only
one to suffer.
City continued to look the more dangerous side, barring
a few nervous moments towards the end when the
substitute Massimo Maccarone struck the same post on two
It was a victory born of desire, City's attitude
epitomised by Paul Dickov, their limited but forever
willing striker. But it needs a bad side to make them
look comfortable - and Gareth Southgate duly provided
Get Your Kits Out View : A win is a win is a win as they say.
Not a match to remember but is a match with
Middlesbrough as opposition ever a match to remember, I
don't think so. The effort tonight was unmistakable but
let's not kid ourselves that this was anything more than
a hard won contest that could easily have ended up 1-1.
Massimo Maccarone demonstrated what a class act he was
and I think if he had been on the full 90 minutes things
just might have been different. I was dismayed to see
Thatcher back in our shirt tonight, he should have been
sacked. Beasley and Reyna are clearly not up to standard
and am I the only fan who thinks Richards would run riot
in midfield. All in all more a relief than anything
tonight but, let's judge the team on Saturdays match at
the Valley to see if they really have upped the ante or
Man City: Weaver, Richards, Dunne, Distin,
Thatcher, Beasley (Vassell 71), Barton, Reyna (Trabelsi
80), Sinclair, Dickov (Corradi 85), Samaras.
Subs Not Used: Hart, Hamann.
Booked: Dickov, Barton.
Goals: Dunne 23.
Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Parnaby (Bates 22),
Woodgate, Huth, Pogatetz, Euell, Cattermole (Morrison
66), Boateng, Rochemback (Maccarone 74), Downing, Yakubu.
Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Arca.
Booked: Pogatetz, Huth, Rochemback, Boateng.
Ref: H Webb (S Yorkshire).
Wigan 4-0 Man City
Shambles at the JJB
Saturday 21st October
2006 :Andrew McKenzie for GYKO at the JJB Stadium
Wigan took advantage of a dreadful Manchester City performance to
secure a first win in seven games.
They went ahead after just 67 seconds when Emile Heskey connected
perfectly to fire home an Emmerson Boyce cross.
Less than three minutes later Richard Dunne inexplicably headed into
his own net from Josip Skoko's free-kick.
Henri Camara took advantage of hesitancy by City's defence to score
and Antonio Valencia added a fine fourth with a right-foot drive.
The win gives Wigan some breathing space at the foot of the table
but the way the visitors collapsed will raise some questions for
Manchester City boss Stuart Pearce. His side have now taken just
five points from the 15 Premiership games on their travels since
they were beaten 4-3 at the JJB Stadium on Boxing Day last year.
City never looked like improving that record once Heskey had put
Wigan in front.
The big striker produced one of the only moments of quality in the
game when he swung out his right leg to dispatch Boyce's centre past
City keeper Nicky Weaver.
It was the 28-year-old's 96th goal on his 350th Premiership
And worse was to follow for City with just four minutes on the
Skoko swung a free-kick into the box and, with no Wigan players
attacking the ball, Weaver came out to gather the cross but
Dunne inexplicably glanced a header into the empty net.
It took 22 minutes for City to even manage an effort on target, and
even that was an ugly effort well wide by the stumbling Bernardo
City's frustrations were illustrated by bookings for Joey Barton and
Dietmar Hamann for a couple of late lunges.
Paul Jewell's side were not at their best but they rarely needed to
be as City's defence repeatedly came to their aid.
Paul Scharner seemed to have the freedom of the City box and could
have had a hat-trick of headers.
Darius Vassell came off the bench to provide a brief moment of hope
when he was played in by teenager Michael Johnson on his City debut,
but the striker shot wide.
Two further goals in just over two minutes ensured just a second win
of the season for Wigan.
They beautifully carved out their third but were given another
helping hand by the City defence.
Leighton Baines started the move and then made an ambitious run into
the box where he was picked out by Kevin Kilbane.
Baines' square ball should have been cleared by Stephen Jordan but
Camara pounced on his half-hearted clearance to deflect past Weaver.
City's defence was nowhere to be seen moments later as Heskey picked
out Valencia to stride into the box and drive into the bottom corner
for his first goal in English football and complete City's misery.
It was the biggest victory for Wigan in their brief Premiership
history and the heaviest defeat of Pearce's 19-month reign.
Get Your Kits Out View : After last Saturdays miserable
performance you might have expected City to come out all fired up
against a weakened Wigan side but no, it was no better. I now feel
there are too many players in this team who are just not interested
in anything other than picking up their undeserved pay cheques. If
these were performance related then they would be drawing family
benefit supplements to make up their income. Only Joey Barton for me
looked remotely interested although Weaver was not to blame for any
of the goals. Next week Middlesbrough at home could see another
record low Premiership attendance at the COMSTAD. We are without
doubt in big trouble with no solution on the horizon. I personally
would unload Corradi, Sinclair, Hamann, Dabo, Isaksson,
Distin (unless he signs his new contract), Thatcher, Rayna and
Beasley and invest in a couple of decent players who don't spend
half their careers in the treatment room. I'm well pissed off with
them at the moment.
Wigan: Kirkland, Boyce, Hall, De Zeeuw, Baines, Valencia,
Skoko, Scharner, Kilbane, Heskey, Camara. Subs: Pollitt, McCulloch,
Landzaat, Teale, Webster.
Man City: Weaver, Mills, Richards, Dunne, Jordan, Sinclair,
Johnson, Hamann, Barton, Samaras, Corradi. Subs: Hart, Vassell,
Dickov, Onuoha, Laird.
Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire)
Manchester City 0
Sheffield United 0 Sad excuse for a game
Saturday October 15, 2006 : Stu James & GYKO at the
City of Manchester Stadium
This match will live long in the memory for Joe Hart, the
19-year-old Manchester City goalkeeper who made
his full debut, although for anyone else forced to endure such poor
fare it will be quickly forgotten and, hopefully, never relived.
Until the closing stages there was little evidence of the passion
and commitment associated with the two managers, whose cuddly toys
and lucky mascots accompanying them on the touchline must have
wished they could have been spared the punishment.
City did manage to protect their unbeaten home record and have still
yet to concede here this season although such statistics bring small
comfort when faced with a side expected to be fighting relegation.
The urgency that placed the United defence under pressure in the
final 15 minutes arrived too late, allowing the visitors to depart
with their first away point of the season and move out of the
relegation zone. It might have been more, but Rob Hulse saw his
overhead kick rattle the crossbar and Alan Quinn volleyed narrowly
City were not without their own chances, most of them falling to
Georgios Samaras who endured another frustrating afternoon. His
hapless strike partner Bernardo Corradi fared no better and, much to
the relief of the home fans, was withdrawn. In his place arrived
Paul Dickov, although it was a midfielder and a defender who came
closest to stealing a winner for City. Ishmael Miller headed wide
from inside the six-yard box and Micah Richards was equally wasteful
from a similar position with two minutes remaining.
Stuart Pearce was frustrated. 'I expected us to be better than
that,' he said. 'But if I'm being honest, I thought Sheffield United
deserved a point.' The City manager bemoaned his side's lack of
creativity although it is doubtful
anyone would have taken advantage had the service into the final
third improved. There was a lack of energy about City that enabled
United, encouraged by their victory over Middlesbrough two weeks
ago, to control the early exchanges. Even so, it was not until two
minutes before the interval that the visitors threatened.
Hulse created a yard of space where there appeared to be none,
hooking acrobatically against the woodwork. It was the first time
Hart had reason to be concerned as United, constrained by a five-man
midfield that made it difficult to move forward with purpose, failed
to turn possession into clear-cut chances.
Indeed, Hart's only save before half-time was a tame shot from Quinn
that he could have caught with his eyes closed. More space appeared
behind the City defence late on, but United's breakaways lacked a
cutting edge. 'I'm disappointed we haven't managed to get the three
points,' said Neil Warnock.
He could be thankful to Samaras and Corradi that they at least
departed with one. Corradi headed wide from a Joey Barton free-kick
when unmarked in the first half and Samaras had one of those days
when shots tended to go everywhere apart from on target.
Michael Tonge might have pilfered a late goal for United, but
Richards timed his challenge to perfection, before referee Mike Dean
brought an end to the misery inflicted on everyone, including
'Scottie' the teddy bear and 'Beanie' the horse.
Get Your Kits Out View : I could quite easily have gone to
sleep today and if luck had been on my side I may have dreamt of
those far off Maine Road days when things were much simpler. We had
a go at the opposition in those times and, if we played well enough,
we had a good chance of winning. We usually had at least one player
who was worth the admission money and many more who were proud to
wear the light blue shirt. Sadly that is only a dream now, no
special players other than our promising youngsters who we will
probably sell on and no prospect at all of an entertaining team to
watch in the near future. Let's face it we are in debt, in ept and
in need of some fresh ideas. Unbeaten at home - I'd rather lose and
see a decent performance any day.
Man City: Hart, Richards, Dunne,
Distin, Jordan (Miller 45), Trabelsi, Barton, Hamann (Reyna 58),
Sinclair, Samaras, Corradi (Dickov 70).
Subs Not Used: Schmeichel, Johnson.
Sheff Utd: Kenny, Bromby, Davis, Jagielka, Armstrong,
Gillespie, Tonge, Leigertwood, Alan Quinn, Hulse, Kazim-Richards
Subs Not Used: Morgan, Kabba, Kozluk, Nade.
Ref: M Dean (Wirral).
Manchester City 1
City's late late raid
Sunday October 1, 2006 : Stuart James at Goodison
Park for GYKO
STUART PEARCE ought to have been celebrating a much-needed and rare
away point but instead the Manchester City manager departed Everton
cursing the irresponsibility of Joey Barton. The Liverpool-born
midfielder reacted to taunts about his imprisoned brother by
dropping his shorts in the direction of Everton fans at the final
whistle. It was an immature and ill advised gesture that prompted a
police officer to speak to Pearce at the end of the game. The police
are expected to receive complaints about Barton's actions.
Pearce later claimed that he had not witnessed the incident, which
followed Micah Richards' spectacular equaliser in the fourth minute
of injury-time, though he vowed to investigate the video footage. 'I
didn't come across it personally,' said the City manager. 'I have
spoken to a member of the police force. They will deal with anything
that occurs from the game. I think the timing of the goal probably
had a lot to do with it. We will deal with anything that comes out
from it once we have had a look at it.'
He has had more than enough disciplinary problems to contend with
this term, having presided over the fall-out that followed Ben
Thatcher's forearm smash into the head of Pedro Mendes during the
first week of the season. However, he will awake this morning with
his mind immediately focused on another act of ill discipline that
will inevitably overshadow the improbable point that City garnered
here to check Everton's momentum. In many ways the home side
contributed to their own downfall.
The fourth official had signalled that three minutes of added time
would be played as the game approached 90 minutes but the delay when
Andy Johnson was substituted in injury time - the striker took a
while to leave the field as he milked the deserved applause -
prompted the referee Andre Marriner to add on another 60 seconds. It
was during that period when Richards struck, hooking home a superb
volley after Bernardo Corradi flicked on Sylvain Distin's hopeful
punt up field.
The match ought to have been well beyond City's reach by then with
Johnson, Tim Cahill, Joleon Lescott and Leon Osman all squandering
presentable openings to extend the lead Everton pilfered on the
stroke of half time. Johnson timed his run to the near post
perfectly to meet Phil Neville's fine cross from the right, spearing
a volley that took a slight deflection off Distin past Nicky Weaver
for his sixth goal in seven matches for Everton. It was the only
memorable moment of a soporific opening 45 minutes that had not been
helped by City's negative tactics.
With Georgios Samaras foraging alone up front, City carried little
attacking threat and it was not until Pearce introduced Corradi and
DaMarcus Beasley that they began to push forward with any purpose.
Then Samaras was liberated and he ought to have brought parity
midway through the second half when Tim Howard failed to cleanly
gather Barton's cross. The loose ball dropped to the feet of the
Greece striker but he was unable to show the same level of precision
as he did against West Ham the week before, steering wide a 12-yard
shot wide with the goal gaping invitingly.
Everton were similarly wasteful, Lescott seeing his close-range
header tipped over by Weaver and Cahill nodding wide from a similar
position from the corner that followed as the home side sought to
capitalise on City's need to chase the game. It was Johnson, though,
who came closest to a second, prodding the ball goal bound from
inside the six-yard box only for Richard Dunne, on the goal line, to
turn it behind using his chest. It was a piece of defending as
unorthodox as Richards' goal had been unexpected, though Barton,
sadly, was intent on having the last word.
Get Your Kits Out View : Very much a backs to the wall
performance today with SP's new blank sheet policy. That's OK at 0-0
but no good if you are one down. Weaver continues to impress but for
me I would move Mica Richards to midfield, he would be in his
element there and wouldn't go missing at the back. The rot seems to
have been brought under control but don't hold your breath, this
could easily have been 3-0.
Everton Howard, Neville, Yobo, Lescott,
Nuno Valente, Osman,Carsley, Cahill, Arteta (Davies 89), Johnson
(Weir 90),Beattie (Anichebe 81).
Subs Not Used: Wright, Van der Meyde.
Booked: Cahill, Nuno Valente.
Goals: Johnson 44.
Man City Weaver, Richards, Dunne, Distin, Jordan,
Sinclair,Barton, Hamann (Reyna 77), Ireland (Corradi 57),Miller
(Beasley 66), Samaras.
Subs Not Used: Hart, Dickov.
Booked: Barton, Sinclair.
Goals: Richards 90.
Ref: A Marriner (W Midlands). Best ref of the season so far......