September 2006
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Manchester City  2  West Ham United  0
Samaras double provides Pearce with breathing space
Satuday September 24, 2006 :Ian Whittell for GYKO at the COMSTAD

So fickle are the Premiership's football gods that all it took for Alan Pardew to supplant Stuart Pearce as the division's most under-pressure manager was a hamstring tear for Anton Ferdinand and a two-goal half from Greece international forward Georgios Samaras. Sadly, for the neutral, the 90 minutes of football were nowhere near as dramatic as that synopsis suggests but, considering Pearce was supposedly at the start of a three-match spell that will determine whether he continues as City manager, the outcome could prove hugely important further down the line.

Certainly, West Ham look shambolic. Carlos Tevez was left on the bench, Javier Mascherano was a complete non-factor and Ferdinand, who did offer some stability in the first quarter, will be out for Thursday's Uefa Cup trip to Palermo, and possibly longer. 'To lose Anton, when I thought we had quietened the crowd and got a foothold in the game, disrupted us,' said Pardew. 'That probably swung the game.
'It's easy to use our two new guys as an excuse, but we need to take a good look at ourselves and we need a couple of good results to steady the ship in terms of the feel good factor.

'The two new lads had not done any training this season until they arrived here and they are finding the pace of this division very demanding.'

The same problem has faced Samaras, 21, since his £6 million arrival from Heerenveen in January - although the poise and instinct he displayed in scoring his goals suggests the signing may not be as bad as Pearce's critics had made out in the wake of Wednesday's Carling Cup exit at Chesterfield - a match they lost 2-1.

In the 50th minute, full debutant Ishmael Miller launched a powerful left-wing run that ended with his shot blocked by Christian Dailly and a fortunate bounce of the ball to the edge of the area where Samaras controlled on his chest and volleyed in spectacularly first time.

More implausibly yet, given the awful first period, better was to come in the 63rd minute when a neat through ball from Bernardo Corradi caught the West Ham backline flat, allowing the Greece striker time to float the ball over the advancing Roy Carroll and secure the win.

'It's probably unfair that the price tag is hanging over him,' said Pearce of Samaras. 'I view him as one of our Academy players because he came to us at the age of 20 from Holland where the game is more open and less in-your-face than the Premiership. He's learning the game.'

The goals and a late Joey Barton free-kick aside, there was little to cheer the frustrated City folk. In a dire first half, Samaras came closest to a goal, placing a running shot just wide and forcing Carroll to turn his cross behind just before the interval.

Still, entertaining or not, it was hard to begrudge the straight-talking Pearce a moment of relaxation. 'I went to the training ground this morning, joined in the practice on a fantastic training pitch with the sun shining and I was thinking, what a fantastic club this is to represent,' he said.

'It's a great club, I'm one of 20 managers in the Premiership playing in front of 40,000 people. If, every now and then, a bit of pressure comes your way and you allow it to affect yourself, what chance have you got?'

Man City: Weaver, Richards, Dunne, Distin, Jordan, Sinclair, Barton, Hamann, Miller (Reyna 81), Samaras (Ireland 89), Corradi (Dickov 70).
Subs Not Used: Hart, Beasley.

Goals: Samaras 50, 63.

West Ham: Carroll, Dailly, Ferdinand (Mullins 22), Gabbidon, Konchesky, Benayoun, Mascherano, Reo-Coker, Etherington, Zamora (Cole 66), Harewood (Tevez 65).
Subs Not Used: Green, Bowyer.

Att: 41,073

Ref: C Foy (Merseyside).


Chesterfield 2 Manchester City 1           Lowest yet City
Wed. 20th Sept 2006 : Simon Stone for GYKO at Saltergate

League One Chesterfield piled the pressure on Manchester City boss Stuart Pearce by coming from behind to dump the Premiership strugglers out of the Carling Cup.

After a horror run, which has now seen City lose 13 of their last 16 games, Pearce had hoped for a much needed break at Saltergate.

Instead, even more misery was lurking in the Derbyshire hills as first Caleb Folan levelled Georgios Samaras' first-half opener, then Derek Niven volleyed home a magnificent winner.

Try as they might, the strongest side Pearce had available to him failed to find an equaliser, allowing Chesterfield to add their name to a long list of lower-league foes who have embarrassed the Blues in cup combat, including Oldham and Doncaster in the last two seasons alone.

Having experienced a similar fate, to similar standard opposition at Belle Vue at the same stage of last season's competition, this sinking feeling is not a new one for Pearce.

However, 12 months ago, the former England skipper was still basking in an extended honeymoon period. Now, the knives are being sharpened by some sections of the Blues support, whose patience is being stretched to breaking point and who know their team could fall into the drop zone if they lose at home to West Ham on Sunday.

A shock hardly looked on the cards in the opening minutes as City looked to capitalise on their early superiority.

Joey Barton should have provided Samaras with a more straightforward route to goal rather than force the striker wide from a routine lay-off.

But Samaras was still able to cut inside and looked like scoring until Reuben Hazell slid in to block.

Corradi almost capitalised on a Hazell mistake shortly afterwards but it proved to be City's last chance for a while as Chesterfield, with Folan to the fore, got on top.

Pacey and direct, Pearce had picked the former Leeds trainee out as a man to watch before the game and after causing Richard Dunne no end of problems, should have put Chesterfield in front on the half hour.

Breaking forward after Barton had lost possession deep inside the home half, Folan carried on his run after feeding Niven and received the midfielder's square return pass barely 10 yards out.

He took aim impressively enough but the finish was awful, side-footed and high over the bar.

City made their enthusiastic opponents pay on their next attack, Corradi rising highest to reach Micah Richards' right-wing cross.

The Italian was unfortunate not to score himself but at least Samaras was on hand to bundle home the rebound as Corradi's header came bouncing off the post.

It was Samaras' first goal of the season and the first by any City striker, enough, it seemed to ease the Blues passage into the next round.

However, they reckoned without Chesterfield's stout resolve, which, aided by their own calamitous defending, saw the Spireites level within five minutes of the re-start.

Nicky Weaver, booked for inexplicably handling outside his area just before the interval, made an ill-advised attempt to punch clear when former Manchester United man Phil Picken curled a free-kick into the City box.

Weaver never got near it, and none of his defenders did either as Folan nodded into the bottom corner.

If that was bad for City, worse was to follow as Claudio Reyna's clearing header from Allott's cross fell perfectly for Niven, who rasped a superb right-footed volley into the top corner to send Chesterfield through and leave Pearce frantically hoping the Blues board continue to stand by him.

Get Your Kits Out View : A thoroughly shameful performance. Probably ranking amongst the worst I have ever had the displeasure of watching in all of my fifty plus years supporting the team. The players should take a long look at themselves and re evaluate their true worth because as far as I'm concerned they are being paid under false pretences. I am a fan - I can't change my club because they're in my blood but tonight I feel like I've been betrayed.

Chesterfield Roche, Picken, Hazell, Downes, Bailey, Hall,Niven, Allott, Hurst, Folan, Shaw (Allison 78).

Subs Not Used: Jordan, Jackson, Larkin, O'Hare.

Booked: Picken.

Goals: Folan 51, Niven 67.

Man City Weaver, Richards, Dunne, Distin, Jordan (Dickov 84),Reyna (Miller 71), Barton, Hamann (Ireland 78), Sinclair,Samaras, Corradi.

Subs Not Used: Hart, Beasley.

Booked: Weaver, Dunne.

Goals: Samaras 40.

Att: 7,960

Ref: K Wright (Cambridgeshire).


Blackburn 4 Manchester City 2
Sun 17th September 2006 :Ian Parkes at Ewood Park for Get Your Kits Out

Blackburn hauled themselves off the foot of the Premiership with their first victory of the season following a six-goal thriller at Ewood Park.

City have now lost two games in a week, three this season and 12 of their last 15 overall, and the signs are appearing ominous for manager Stuart Pearce.

In truth, City should have been out of sight by half-time, only to waste a catalogue of chances before finally being undone by second-half goals from Benni McCarthy and substitute Paul Gallagher.

It is fair to say Rovers were fortunate to head into the dressing room at the interval on the back of a 2-2 scoreline. For all the world it appeared as if the Rovers backline were still in Salzburg following Thursday's UEFA Cup clash.

To describe their wretched display as 'a hangover' does not do it justice, although City were just as guilty in failing to take the opportunities handed to them on a plate.

In the opening 15 minutes in particular, there were four, with the first arriving after just 40 seconds when Brett Emerton failed to cut out a through ball.

That allowed Trevor Sinclair to deliver a low 20-yard curler that was bound for the bottom left-hand corner, only for Brad Friedel to superbly tip the ball away with his left hand.

There followed a second clear opportunity for the visitors in the seventh minute, with Paul Dickov given yards of space on the edge of the area after being played in by Hatem Trabelsi, starting for the first time following his summer move from Ajax.

But former Rovers old-boy Dickov, who also joined City in the closed season after his Blackburn contract expired, fired a right-foot drive on the turn beyond the left-hand upright.

Tunisia international Trabelsi was then a yard wide of the right -hand post with a low, curled left-foot shot from 18 yards before helping to set up Joey Barton in the 15th minute.

But from a wide-open position on the penalty spot, the midfielder sidefooted over to his own dismay.

Crucially, City's profligacy cost them dear because two minutes later and totally against the run of play Blackburn took the lead.

After City skipper Richard Dunne had clattered into David Bentley, Morten Gamst Pedersen's 25-yard free-kick was deflected past Nicky Weaver off the head of Sinclair.

Rovers captain Lucas Neill then headed off the line a free-kick from Barton, before

City lost the influential Trabelsi to a groin injury, with another debutant in DaMarcus Beasley his replacement.

Yet that did not stop the chances from flowing, with Barton again proving wasteful eight minutes from the break with only Friedel to beat.

Finally, and two minutes later, Barton gained his just reward. Set up by Bernardo Corradi and Dickov, and faced with a one-on-one situation again with Friedel, Barton beat the Rovers number one to his left with a low curled shot.

Rovers' reply was instant, and this time there was no doubt about Pedersen's free-kick following a Beasley foul on Bentley, with the left-foot inswinger taking one bounce past a deceived Weaver.

However, it took just 70 seconds for City to level, with a Corradi cross along the six-yard area turned home by Andre Ooijer who was too busy appealing for offside.

The flood of goals at the end of the first period was replaced by a swathe of cards at the start of the second period, with referee Martin Atkinson suddenly becoming the busiest man on the pitch.

Dietmar Hamann marked his debut with a caution for a scything foul on Pedersen, and he was followed into the book by Micah Richards, McCarthy and half-time substitute Shabani Nonda.

It was a piece of quick thinking from Nonda, the on-loan striker from Roma, that gave Blackburn the lead for the third time, in the 66th minute.

His smartly-taken throw found Pedersen, and with the City defence this time in no-man's land, a square ball picked out McCarthy.

The South Africa international then proceeded to sidefoot home from five yards for his third goal in six matches following his £2.5million summer move from Porto.

After Richards missed a sitter of a header from four yards in the 83rd minute with what was City's best chance of the second half, McCarthy then made way for Gallagher soon after.

It was Gallagher who then wrapped up the points 90 seconds from time with a sidefoot finish from 12 yards after being teed up by Emerton for his first Rovers goal since November 27, 2004.

Get Your Kits Out View : Through the despair there were a few plus points. Chances were created if not taken, and Barton and Richards certainly looked more than half decent. Still at the end of the day it will take a thumping good win to get the wagon rolling again and if I'm honest I can't see it coming yet.


Blackburn Friedel, Emerton, Ooijer, Khizanishvili, Neill,Bentley, Savage, Tugay (Mokoena 45), Pedersen,McCarthy (Gallagher 85), Jeffers (Nonda 45).

Subs Not Used: Brown, Peter.

Booked: Savage, McCarthy.

Goals: Sinclair 18 og, Pedersen 44, McCarthy 66, Gallagher 89.

Man City Weaver, Richards, Dunne, Distin, Jordan,Trabelsi (Beasley 35), Barton, Hamann (Ireland 78), Sinclair,Corradi, Dickov (Samaras 62).

Subs Not Used: Hart, Reyna.

Booked: Hamann, Richards, Corradi.

Goals: Barton 39, Ooijer 45 og.

Att: 18,403

Ref: M Atkinson (W Yorkshire).


Reading 1 Manchester City 0    Lapses in defence are costly
Mon 11th September 2006 : Russell Kempson at the Madejski Stadium for GYKO

LIFE will always be a rollercoaster for Manchester City. Two weeks after beating Arsenal 1-0, they lost to Reading, the Barclays Premiership new boys, by the same scoreline.
City’s woes at the Madejski Stadium last night were compounded when Ousmane Dabo, their French midfield player, was sent off — somewhat harshly — in the 80th minute. He led with an arm as he jumped with Steve Sidwell and, although he appeared to make contact with Sidwell’s face with a wrist only, he was shown a straight red card.

The last thing that Stuart Pearce, the City manager, needs is more ill-discipline. Ben Thatcher is halfway through a four-match club suspension (now increased by the FA by eight more) for his elbowed assault on Pedro Mendes, the Portsmouth midfield player, and Micah Richards, the right back, hurled his jersey to the floor when substituted last night.

Pearce, as always, did not avoid the issues. “I’ve only seen the sending-off once live,” he said, “but if the referee deems it a red card, I will go with that. Both TV and the player seem to think it was harsh and if, after I’ve seen it again, I think I need to talk to the powers that be, I will.

“With Micah, I was disappointed. I’ve had a chat with him and will have another. It is my job to educate him in how to behave himself, to educate him as a player and as a person. He’s a young man learning all the time and he’s got a good future in front of him as long as he keeps learning.”

For Reading, there was nothing but delight. A second successive home win this season — extending their unbeaten home record to 29 matches in all competitions — illustrated their ability to compete at the highest level for the first time. Though they rode their luck at times, Reading could have doubled or trebled the winning margin near the end. Kevin Doyle, twice, and Brynjar Gunnarsson went close.

Rarely one to get excited, Steve Coppell, the Reading manager, played down the significance of being in eighth place in the Premiership at such an early stage in the season. “It was encouraging,” he said. “Our target during the summer was to compete at this level and we’ve shown that we can do that. But we have to sustain it. It’s a long campaign and it’s going to be a constant, game-by-game challenge.”

Fifteen minutes had passed before Reading made a penetrative attack, Leroy Lita bewitching Richard Dunne and, with Doyle, causing havoc in the City penalty area. Only after the ball had ricocheted off a number of bodies was it hacked to safety. If it was a warning sign, City did not heed it, with Reading going ahead in the 23rd minute.

Graeme Murty, the Reading captain, could claim a large slice of the credit, making a last-ditch tackle to deny Bernardo Corradi a goalscoring chance. After the ball had been switched to the other end, Sylvain Distin fouled Lita and then Ivar Ingimarsson, brushing off Richards, thundered in a far-post header from Bobby Convey’s inswinging free kick.

It was only Ingimarsson’s third goal in 20 months but he knew little about it, having picked up a blow on the head as he dived forward. As he received treatment on the ground, he said to Howard Webb, the referee: “Where did the ball go?”

City dominated much of the second half but barely tested Marcus Hahnemann, the Reading goalkeeper. Once Dabo had been dismissed, it was all they could do to hang in the frantic closing stages. Reading, a man to the good, were rampant.

Perhaps it was just as well. Picking up three points in their next four home matches — against Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur — might prove something of a problem. Welcome to the big league.

Get Your Kits Out View : City just about got what they deserved, nowt. I have sympathy with Dabo but have a look at his past disciplinary record and somehow it seems to me he will always have plenty of spare time on his hands. A pretty poor game all round begging the question, we just aren't as good as we think we are, that is in my opinion anyway.

READING (4-4-2): M Hahnemann — G Murty, I Sonko, I Ingimarsson, N Shorey — Seol Ki Hyeon (sub: B Gunnarsson, 77min), S Sidwell, J Harper, R Convey — L Lita (sub: S Long, 75), K Doyle. Substitutes not used: G Little, S Hunt, G Stack.

MANCHESTER CITY (4-4-2): N Weaver — M Richards, R Dunne, S Distin, S Jordan — T Sinclair, O Dabo, J Barton, C Reyna (sub: I Miller, 73) — B Corradi, P Dickov (sub: G Samaras, 60). Substitutes not used: J Hart, H Trabelsi, D Hamann. Booked: Distin, Reyna, Sinclair, Barton. Sent off: Dabo.

Referee: H Webb.



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