0 Sheffield United 0
Oct 14th 2006 att. 42,192
scene is a BBC editing room at 2 in the morning and a group of harassed editors
are huddled round a monitor desperately trying to pick out some highlights from
the game at COMS that afternoon. The programme editor is tearing what's left of
his hair out and cries- "There must be something! Poor old Garry Linacre
has been waffling on about Van Persie's goal of the month for ages now and we've
shown it 345 times already. We've run out of Walkers Crisps and the Omen's been
put back several hours."
Yes - it was that bad. A dire game almost totally
devoid of attractive football. Chances were few and far between. City rarely managed
a passing movement involving more than three passes . OK so we did not concede
a goal but the lack of a fast attacking forward and creative playmaker is becoming
more obvious. The predictability and slow build up of any attacks gives opposing
teams time to defend in numbers.
Nicky Weaver injured it was debut time for young Joe Hart and a home debut for
was in position by the water bottles so with Stuart Pearce's lucky mascot ready
for action all that was needed was the team to perform!
Hart had his first kick of the ball after a couple of minutes and no problems
or divots there.
20 minutes Joe Hart had his first save to make - punching away a cross by Gillespie
Kenny in action at the other end moments later
Trabelsi showed glimpses of his ability as an attacking player on his home debut
but I don't know what position he is going to be best in.
had a good chance following a free kick by Barton but his header went well over
Blades occasionally put the City defence under pressure but Distin and Dunne were
equal to the task.
back in action but he City attack came to naught.
City goal had a narrow escape just before half time when an overhead shot by Hulse
hits the bar with Hart beaten. It had been a poor first half.
wasted high ball into the visitors penalty area
and Jordan thwart Davis
after the restart Joe Hart made his only error of the game when he mishandled
a long throw. It looked as though he as fouled by Hulse as he jumped for the ball
had for him a very quiet game
Kenny was the busiest of the keepers he was rarely really troubled. Miller had
a great chance from a Barton free-kick but he headed over
went near towards the end following another Barton free-kick and a Richards header
that went just wide but another bad half only marginally better than the first.
6: Richards 7, Dunne 7.5, Distin 7, Jordan 5 (Miller 6.5): Sinclair 5, Trabelsi
6.5, Barton 6, Hamann 5.5 ( Reyna 6): Corradi 6 ( Dickov 6), Samaras 6.5
1 Middlesbrough 0
Oct 30th 2006 att. 36,720
it was the poor showing of City at Wigan or the fact that the game was live on
TV this was the poorest crowd for a home league game since City left Maine Road.
I guess it was a combination of both as the weather was OK and quite mild. City
have not the best of records against Middlesbrough so we wondered what was going
to be in store for us. Changes were inevitable after the disaster at Wigan and
there was a home full debut for Beasley and the return of Ben Thatcher after his
long suspension. The decline of Jordan at left back is a mystery as he looked
so promising last season. Dickov replaced Corradi upfront and Distin returned
after injury to partner Dunne. Middlesbrough brought only a few hundred supporters
so the ground looked half full as kick-off time approached. The game was not quite
as bad as the Sheffield United game but though City got the points through a single
goal the strikers were again off target and with only 4 shots on target throughout
the whole game something is going to have to be done to improve this. The defence
coped with a lack lustre Middlesbrough quite well though they did lose their shape
in the final ten minutes or so as the visitors hoped to gain a point which would
have been undeserved.
the debacle at Wigan it was interesting to see some special drills for the back
4 before the game
made 5 changes from the game at Wigan. The only slight surprise was the choice
of Reyna over Trabelsi
was the busiest keeper in the opening minutes having to make a couple of catches
Dickov was soon in action at the other end and shortly after winning a free kick
he broke away down the left and almost scored as Schwarzer came dashing out from
goal. Dickov was injured as the two clashed but soon recovered
his own goal at Wigan Dunne was obviously delighted as were the rest of the City
players and supporters.
long after half time Dunne got quite annoyed with Yakubu and I think he is definitely
off his Christmas card list
22 minutes City took the lead. Samaras won a corner as Schwarzer saved at his
feet. Barton took the corner and with Dickov keeping the keeper occupied Dunne
showed a few glimpses of skill but I am sure he is capable of a lot more
continued to have more of the play and won quite a few corners
tactics at corners is questioned by fussy referee Webb
is tackled at the last moment ending a good run.
City corner and Schwarzer has to make a difficult catch.
had some shots at goal but he was off target today
had a shot blocked by Huth and there was a suspicion of handball.
catching under pressure from Samaras
defends at one end then Beasley is brought down at the other as the game opens
out with Middlesbrough attempting to equalise.
Dunne tried his hand as a right winger and floors Pogatetz as the Austrian defender
tries to block him.
and Barton get yellow cards in a spate of yellows half way through the second
half. No doubt Howard Webb was down on his quota.
City goal had a charmed life as substitute Maccarone twice hit the post in a final
flurry of attacks by the visitors who had suddenly come to life.
Manager Steve McClaren sitting next to Denis Tueart in the front row no doubt
looking at Richards,.Downing and Woodgate
manager Gareth Southgate gets it in the neck after he ran onto the pitch to kick
the ball to save time.
6: Richards 6.5, Dunne 8, Distin 7.5, Thatcher 6: Sinclair 6.5, Barton 6.5, Reyna
6.5, Beasley 6: Dickov 7, Samaras 6.5
subs Vassell 6, Corradi 5, Trabelsi 6
on for Beasley after 70 minutes showed bursts of speed and might have scored twice
was a colossus in defence and Thatcher apart from a couple of late errors did
OK on his come back