image taken at the game at Macclesfield marks an important moment in the history
of Manchester City. It shows Stuart Pearce alone on the bench deep in conversation
having heard that Shaun Wright-Phillips had asked to speak to Chelsea regarding
his transfer. Having arrived with the rest of the players for this pre-season
friendly SWP went out onto the pitch with his colleagues so it was noticeable
that he did not reappear for the warming -up session. It was only at the end of
the game that it became known that he had cried off 'ill' just before the game
and then expressed the wish to speak to Chelsea which is the same as saying -
I want a transfer. Now this appears to be a complete about turn from a day or
so ago. Did some genie (agent) appear from a bottle and get him to change his
mind or is has it all been a big con from start to finish with a carefully arranged
scenario to avoid the board from being directly blamed by supporters for his departure.
I can remember the scenes at Maine Road many years ago when supporters forced
the exit of past chairmen. I am disappointed too with the amount that Chelsea
will be paying- a miserly 21 million. They should have held out for 25 million.
If we had said no he would have been worth a lot more next summer.
be that money was so short there would have been sod all for a new striker and
Chelsea were waiting for the Wright - sorry right moment to strike.
hope the trip to Thailand is going to be worthwhile. Knowing the conditions there
(having coached and refereed there) I am not so sure about its benefits without
time to acclimatize and it deprives the manager of valuable time to organize his
replacements for SWP. No doubt like the decision to play in the away strip for
the last game last season it was done purely for financial reasons.
to SWP. A couple of the last images of Shaun in City colours taken at the final
game of last season
the Bangkok trip is now history and only a bit of soul searching by the board
and management will decide whether it was all worth while. The results were peripheral
to the antics of Barton and the injury to Dunne and the early morning fracas in
the Hotel will get the headlines. It beggars belief that players and some staff
were up at that time of the morning anyway and it doesn't say much for the parental
control of the parents of the 15 year old Everton supporter for him to be in the
hotel bar at that time either. As for Barton's loss of temper and Dunne's foot
injury as a result of the incident, words fail me. I understand the club will
fine Barton heavily and demand that he goes on an anger management course. The
incident a while ago with Tandy was bad enough and the writing was on the wall
then but little was done other than a fine and a slapped wrist. I doubt whether
the club will transfer Barton though I understand a certain Birmingham City manager
is waiting in the wings. No doubt Steve Bruce would find the cash. It's now been
confirmed that a fine of 8 weeks wages will be paid by Barton and he remains with
City ..... for the time being.
Talking of transfers Andy Cole on a free move
from Fulham has now taken the place of Macken upfront with Robbie Fowler and it
looks like Darius Vassell ( 2 million pounds ) is likely to feature on the right
- replacing SWP who will be warming the bench at Chelsea. Vassell is a bit of
a risk and no doubt there were Risk Management meetings at Carrington to consider
the pro's and cons of the move. Vassell had bad luck with injuries last season
with Villa but he is young .. still and has done well for England at times but
then so did Sinclair . The latter did well in Bangkok I understand and now looks
fully recovered from his injuries so with the welcome return of Sun Jihai the
squad is looking stronger. When he was at his best Vassell was similar to SWP
in many ways so his pace will be useful.
Perhaps we may get another striker
and creative midfielder before the door shuts on transfers, keeping some of the
cash from the SWP move until the January transfer slot.
above 4 shots were taken by a friend of mine at the Bolton game in Bangkok
I write this a few days before the start of the Premiership season it is hard
to realize we will be seeing a City side without SWP. I suppose realistically
with the debts City have and with the squad badly needing reinforcements it was
inevitable that Shaun would be on his way south. It was the manner of his going
that left a bad taste in the mouth. To say he was staying one day, then feigning
illness and then asking for transfer the next is a bit much and I wonder how much
agent Mitchell Thomas had to do with his decision. As the next best offer was
about ten million from Arsenal, City had to grab the 21 million from Chelsea before
Chelski started to 'reduce' the offer. Anyway it's now water under the bridge
and as Stuart Pearce did so well at the end of last season without the services
of SWP team performances have got to be of the highest order and now the 'honeymoon'
period is over for the manager the real battle starts on Saturday against West
this leads me to a ' I don't believe it topic' . I was just glancing at an article
in the Premiership Guide published in a recent Daily Mail and noticed that the
writer a certain David Thomas had included Stuart Pearce in his list of possible
shock sackings at 25 to 1 .Anyway to cap it all Mr Thomas ( I hope no relation
to Mitchell Thomas) put City's debts upto 96 million and wait for it .. he thinks
we still play at Maine Road!!
injuries to Distin and Dunne just before the start of the season have given the
manager a few problems but I guess the best lineup at the moment will be
Onuoha, Dunne, Distin, Jordan: Sinclair, Reyna, Barton, Musampa, Vassell, Cole
Weaver or De Vieger, Thatcher, Sun, Sibierski, Bradley-Wright-Phillips
Fowler, Croft, Ireland, Mills, Sommeil
injury is a bit of mystery so I doubt whether he will figure for a few weeks.
Dunne's injury doesn't appear to be as bad as first feared so he might play against
West Brom probably with Onuoha in the centre of defence.
was interesting to hear about the weeks trial for Pep Guardiola who has been playing
in Quatar. His past performances for Spain and Barcelona were of the highest standard
but whether he can perform to his best in the Premiership at the age of 34 is
the question. If he can show the manager he is up for it then his creativity even
as a sub could be a key factor. However playing in the more sedate league in the
Middle East is vastly different to the fast and furious Premiership. I also understand
Hussain, also from the same league, who had a trial earlier has been offered a
longer trial contract providing a work permit comes through
have made an offer for Bolton midfielder and Greek International Stelios Giannakopoulos
who scored 7 goals in 34 games last season. He would certainly help fill the gap
left by the departure of SWP.
luck in the transfer market yet with the closing day rapidly approaching. With
targets Ashton and Stelios G. re-signing for their clubs no doubt Pearce will
be looking for those players that will fit into his team ethic.
Well, the transfer
deadline has passed and no new signings to report. We shall just have to hope
City keep injury free.
The relatively poor attendance for the opening home
games is symptomatic of a general trend. With Sky dictating kick-off times - I
notice the Bolton game has been moved to a Sunday 4-0pm kick-off and the Everton
game to a 11-15 Sunday morning start , while the derby with United was quietly
switched from a 1pm start to 3pm - when are the Premier league going to take control
of their own league!. There is talk now of Abramovich and co taking a financial
interest in West Ham - what next - I cannot imagine the catastrophic effect on
soccer should anything happen to him.
already and what a start there has been with City almost beating the old enemy
at the swamp and England finally winning the Ashes. I covered one of the days
of the Old Trafford Test and you can see images here.
I must say we could do with a bit of the passion shown by the England supporters
at our home games. With City now in third position and the unbeaten run now extended
to 13 games the remarkable change in fortunes deserves maximum crowd support.
The team effort led by Stu Pearce is now capable of a top six position so more
support at home is vital. Visitors are bound to arrive to fill the midfield and
deny City space around their penalty area.
With Sky failing to televise the
United game live I was forced to make use of all the senses by listening to the
excellent commentary on GMR with my left ear... watching a 4 minute delayed satellite
image from China on the laptop ...with the occasional glance at a TV with Channel
4 to see if the test had resumed and my right ear half taking in Test Match Special!
Doncaster cuptie left me pretty speechless. For the first time this season the
team started with the wrong attitude and the absence of several first choice players
didn't help. Its a pretty poor situation when we have to wait until extra time
before any City player runs at the opposition -several divisions below- and that
has to be a defender -Dunne - who wins a penalty. Then ,the referee, keen to make
a ' name 'for himself sends off Nedum Onuoha for an accidental collision with
the keeper. If that was bad enough he then awards the home side who had been giving
him some stick a penalty for an innocuous handball against Distin. However with
better finishing - Sun and Sibierski missing good chances- City should have had
this game won in normal time. City played the game at Doncasters pace and against
a packed defence every chance has to be taken. The absence of Cole was important
and so it showed too at Newcastle with a lack lustre first half and with the inevitable
goal by Owen the difference between the teams. So after the great start we have
lost three games on the trot. At least our next two games are at home . Lets just
hope our striking power is back by then!
very sad bit of news this month. One of City's greatest fan Helen Turner has passed
away. She was 85 and used to ring a bell at Maine Road.
I believe the pic
on the left shows her (centre) waiting for the winning Cup Final City side in
1969. I took the picture in Albert Square.
can also see her here (top left of image) in April 2003 at a game against Middlesbrough
at Maine Road
On the right she is watching Anelka in the very
last game at Maine Road
to learn about the death of Johnny Haynes following a car crash recently. First
of the 'Brylcreem Boys' he was one of England's greatest inside forwards. I was
fortunate enough to have seen him play for England and Fulham on several occasions.
I first saw him play for Fulham at Ipswich just after my return from the Far East
in 1957 and shortly after saw him get two goals for the England under 23 side
in a 6-2 win against Bulgaria at Stamford Bridge. Also playing that day were Jimmy
Greaves and Maurice Setters.
Orient v Fulham 1-3 1958
pretty certain that's him behind the referee
month or so later and I was at Wembley to see him help England slaughter the French
4-0. Tom Finney was his partner on the wing that day and Duncan Edwards behind
him at left half. What a trio! His passing Johnny Haynes' passing was his forte.
He would have been a star in the Premiership.
The next season I was lucky enough
to see him score a hat trick against the USSR at Wembley as England won 5 nil.
He was both a goal maker and goal scorer netting almost 150 for Fulham with whom
he stayed throughout his 18 year career. They don't make them like that any more.
Indeed he was the first player to earn £100 per week. I saw him play many
times for Fulham against City and fortunately for City he was never on the winning
side when I watched him at Maine Road.
While checking through my records I
did find an unusual event in a game between United and Fulham in 1959. Alan Mullery
and Bentley were also playing for Fulham that day and the game ended 3-3 but the
game was held up for 7 minutes when a dog got on the pitch!
November came to its end so did the life of one of the greatest footballers I
have the pleasure to watch over the past 60 years. I first saw George Best in
February 1964 when I saw United beat Sporting 4-0 , Denis Law scoring a hat-trick.
I was able to watch him about 40 or 50 times over the years and he had everything
. He could dribble , score goals, pass, tackle ,head -the lot. You name it he
could do it ! Those were the days when football was a joy to watch and there was
not a prawn sandwich in sight. In the 67-68 season City were back in the first
division and though beaten at home by two Bobby Charlton goals in September we
had a great victory at Old Trafford in March 1968 winning by 3-1 .Though Best
scored for United ,goals by Lee, Bell and George Heslop gave City the win. In
April I saw Best score the winner against Real Madrid and I was lucky enough to
see him score three goals in a 6-0 win over Newcastle - 7 days before I went to
Newcastle to see City win the Championship by beating the home side 4-3 before
about 20,000 visiting blue fans. The left back for Newcastle on those two occasions
was a chap called Frank Clarke - yes our ex-manager.
George has now joined his father figure when he came across to Manchester and
now doubt Sir Matt Busby will be penciling Best straight into his top heaven side.
George was no doubt the best player I have seen and I have been lucky enough
to have seen Pele, Eusebio,Puskas and Di Stefano ,Finney and Matthews to name
but a few!
was a genius - a flawed genius maybe but he was the VERY BEST.
the way home from Old Trafford I called into Maine Road to see the state of the
old ground . Latest situation above.
was good to see tributes from City supporters among the overflow of appreciation
at old Trafford
organised a trip to Cambodia to conincide with City away games at West Brom and
Charlton I was unsure whether any of the hotels I was staying at would be able
to pick up TV coverage of the games. Fortunately I need not have worried for the
Charlton game as I was able to watch it live at ten at night through ESPN. I did
not get much sleep that night as we were on the move next morning at 5-00am but
it did put me in a good mood next day -especially as our guide was a Middlesborough
fan -and I had constant reminders of Fowlers penalty miss! However the next game
against West Brom happened while I was waiting to take off for home from Bangkok
airport. I was able to see Wigan v Chelsea live but the scores from West Brom
came up at the bottom of the screen and I just saw the goals before been called
for the flight. Whatever was Thatcher doing that day!
win against a poor Birmingham side was better and now City have a number of tough
fixtures coming up over the Christms period. I shall be at the Wigan and Chelsea
games but it seems a long time since I watched a game on Christmas day. I checked
in my records and was surprised to see I was at the Blackburn-Blackpool game in
1959. I can't think what made me watch that! Mind you in 1957 it had been City
reserves against Newcastle reserves!
been a bleak Christmas period for City with only one league point since the win
against Birmingham in December. The loss of confidence of many of the players
and stupid mistakes in defence has cost City dear and the coveted European place
looked a million miles away during the game with Spurs.
The only City signing
so far in the January Sales is Albert Riera from Espanyol. He is on loan with
a possible permanent move in the summer should he fit in. Could this mean the
exit of Musampa who has not figured for a while.
result from the United game has made the headlines and brightened up the whole
outlook for City. It was a superb team performance and with some more new players
on the horizon there is still chance of a top six place. As
I write City are hoping to sign a Greek forward ( Samaras) from Dutch Club Heerenveen.
Well that now looks pretty certain with just a medical and personal terms to sort
out. Georgios Samaras is the first Greek player to play for us and I look forward
to seeing what the 6ft 3 inches 20 year old striker can do. He has scored 9 goals
in 21 matches this season so far. Last season it was 11 in 37 games.
is only a day or so to go before the end of the transfer window now so we shall
know soon enough whether the midfield is to be strengthened. Interesting that
Musampa played in midfield when he came on against Wigan. Its farewell to Robbie
Fowler who has returned to his beloved Liverpool on a free transfer. I think his
heart never left Liverpool when he went to Leeds and his move to City was fraught
with injury problems. It was only on rare occasions that we saw the best of him
and it was fitting our lasting memory of Robbie should be him scoring the final
goal against United a few weeks ago.
City also signed Matthew Mills from Southampton.
He is a 19 year old defender who has played a few games for Southampton. He has
also been on loan to Bournmouth and Coventry.
However the main item of concern
was the transfer request by Joey Barton. After all that City have done for this
player I am astonished at the latest news coming through. Turning down a good
pay rise and then virtually saying that City weren't good enough for his talent
is incredible. Its not as though he is a world class player. His errors in midfield
have cost us goals recently and his efforts generally in recent games has been
lower than his best. He must be getting some really bad advice from 'his friends'!
Unless the situation is sorted pretty quickly he can say good-bye to any outside
chance he had of getting in the England squad as he must be well behind others
in the race for selection.
I am afraid loyalty is becoming rarer than ever
in today's society and this fiasco could and should have been avoided. Its a good
example of how NOT to make good friends and influence people. No doubt should
the manager select him against Newcastle tonight Barton will be looking forward
to a welcome from the City supporters!
the departure of Graham Souness from Newcastle after their loss last month has
now been followed by the sacking of Sunderland boss Mick McCarthy after their
defeat recently at COMS. It must be catching! I feel sorry for the ex City defender.
He was hardly given any money after their promotion to improve the side and unless
a miracle occurs Sunderland are a certainty for relegation.
call it .... well it's cheating and it's becoming far too common in the modern
is being done to stop it. Not a lot really. Plenty of words but not a great deal
of action. Now I am in favor of the return of the death penalty for certain offenses
but perhaps that would be a little harsh! In these days of modern technology with
cameras analyzing every move it is not beyond possibilities to use software to
post-analyse diving or injury simulations frame by frame using different camera
angles. If cheating is going on usually there is a slight gap between the continuos
movement of a tackle and a fall. The referee cannot possibly be able to spot every
attempt to cheat so post video examination of the game should be used to bring
the perpetrators to some kind of justice. Fining is pretty useless for the top
players and clubs so initially match bans should be used followed by the docking
of points for clubs using persistent offenders. You will be amazed how quickly
this type of cheating will stop. Chairmen and managers will not be happy to lose
points due to the cheating of their players. At the moment Clubs employing such
players adopt a 'Speak no evil, See no evil, Hear no evil' attitude. It's time
for action to eradicate this offensive behaviour from soccer.
Sad to hear of
the deaths of Peter Osgood of Chelsea fame who I saw play in the late 60's against
City at Maine Road and nearer to home, Roy Clarke . Roy Clarke was an old fashioned
attacking left winger who made his debut at the end of the 1946-47 season against
Newport County the town where he was born. I was fortunate enough to see him help
City win 5-1 all five goals scored by George Smith. A City man through and through
he will be sadly missed by all who met him or saw him play.
With West Ham beating
Bolton in their Cup replay City now meet them next Monday, a match I have to miss
alas, for a semi-final place at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff. Having confortably
already beaten West Ham at COMS earlier in the season City should on their home
form go through. If we can avoid Chelsea or Liverpool in the semi then there is
a good chance we could make the final.
Well the draw having
been made Chelsea do play Liverpool. The only drawback is that we lost to West
Ham! Having now watched the game on TV the absence of Samaras upfront was a big
blow. Bradley Wright-Phillips was no match for the West Ham defenders and the
sending off of Sun didn't help. Pity Musampa dithered in midfield instead of moving
the ball on quickly to give away the second goal. Shame Keegan didn't sign Ashton
when he was nearby at Crewe! With our horrendous injury list points are going
to be hard to come by for the rest of the season. At least we are safe from relegation!
my remarks a little earlier re the cheating I was astonished to see SWP indulging
in the practice to get Elliot sent off in the Chelsea Newcastle cup clash. How
are the mighty fallen. He has yet to score for Chelsea -any bets that will end
tomorrow!- and he has obviously been taking lessons from Drogba. Incidentally
there is no truth in the rumor that Peter Kenyon has been seen in Hollywood talking
to stunt men! Some people have been saying its up to the ref. I think they already
have their hands full. No FIFA and the FA have to get their act together and start
suspending offenders . As I mentioned earlier video evidence should be looked
at in cases where referees have not acted. I shall watch future events with interest.
Pity I didn't get that job with the FA when I applied in 1959!
noticed this morning that Andy Townsend in the Mail also said that video evidence
was the way to go with cheating. After the Chelsea game in which our reserves
held the home side to two nil with ten men it would not surprise me that in the
future, like cricket, there will be a 'third umpire' watching TV replays. The
technical advances in both video and communication will allow the 'third umpire'
to tell the referee either on request by the referee or on his own initiative
if something has gone on unnoticed by the match officials. It might mean an extra
minute or so to be added but it would help clean up the game.
The sending off
of Distin by referee Stokes was a joke. The look on Stokes' face was full of guilt.
The linesman to the right of Drogba should have seen the handball or at least
seen the movement of the hand and immediate reaction of the City players. He would
also 'hopefully' be aware of Drogba's reputation and so let the referee know.
run of defeats was ended thank goodness at Villa with a one nil win but with just
three games to go the best we could achieve would be a place in the top half of
the table - not what we were hoping for earlier in the season. Injuries and loss
of form have cost us dearly this season and I am sure the manager is letting the
board know that the squad needs to be reinforced if we are hoping for a run at
a place in a UEFA competition next season.
Congratulations must go to Middlesbrough
for reaching the final of the UEFA Cup in such a manner. To come back from a two
goal deficit in the second leg was a magnificent achievement and to have done
this feat for a second time after beating Basle in a similar way was incredible.
I must confess to having a soft spot for the team from Ayesome Park as I was stationed
at RAF Thornaby for a couple of years way back in the days of Wilf Mannion, Spuhler
and co and I went to watch them at their old ground a dozen times or so, the highlight
being a 5-0 win over United, Mannion scoring twice. Even in those days Middlesbrough
had a good youth policy. I was in communication with George Camsell regarding
several of my RAF players as I was in charge of the local RAF side.
we know who is going to be the new England manager. What a fiasco - the very first
choice - so we are told - Mmm -was Steve McLaren
historic ground closed at the end of the season with Arsenal playing their last
home game at Highbury. The pic on the left shows the start of the Arsenal Chelsea
game in 1958 though my first visit there was in 1954 when I saw a certain Joe
Mercer play for Arsenal
lot of talking points at the end of the season so lets start with the Arsenal
- Barcelona game as I've just mentioned the last game at Highbury. The sending
off of the keeper Lehmann in the frist half changed the game. It was difficult
to tell whether the referee from Norway had blown the whistle for the foul before
Barcelona had scored but the ball was put into the net so quickly after the foul
on the edge of the area that a delay of only a few seconds would have been the
common sense decision. But then there seems to be lack of common sense in Norway
after one of the chosen linesmen had been seen in a Barcelona shirt prior to the
There is referee talk too in Italy where it appears officials from Juventus
have been accused of fixing games via referees. Though Juventus won the Italian
League, Serie A , they may yet lose their title. General manager Luciano Moggi
is accusd of manipulating the appointment of 'friendly' referees for both Serie
A and Champions League fixtures.
Middlesbrough could not repeat their feats
in the UEFA Cup Final losing 4-0 to Sevilla of Spain.. Although the score does
not reflect the display of Middlesbrough they were beaten by the better side.As
far as City are concerned the season ended when we turned out a weakened side
against Wigan. From that moment it went downhill and finishing just above the
relegation zone was very disappointing to say the least. So Sommeil, Musampa and
Riera will not be with us next season. No great surprise. I just hope we can reinforce
the left side of midfield. When I looked at the markings from the games I had
seen last season I found that nobody stood out as player of the sason. The only
ones to average more than 7 per game were Distin, Dunne, Cole and Barton. There
were only a few decimal places between many of the players.
world Cup time again and with hardy any news coming from the City of Manchester
Stadium as far as new players are concerned apart from the return of Paul Dickov
and Cole signing a one year extension to his contract, it was time to see what
was going to happen in Germany. I should not forget the signing of young keeper
Hart from Shrewsbury.
goodness coverage of the first game and opening ceremony came via the BBC ad not
ITV. There was just enough coverage of the opening to give a feel of the atmosphere
was a heart stopping moment for City fans when squeaky voiced Alan Ball was interviewed
but better memories when Paulo Wanchope ( shame he left us- could he come back
this first game against Germany Paulo scored two excellent goals helped by poor
scoring his two goals
Costa Rica were outdone by two spectacular efforts by Lahm and Frings and two
easy finishes by Klose so Germany won 4-2 but thanks to Wanchope they had a few
won their first game in the group 1-0 against Paraguay under very hot afternoon
conditions. While Robinson had hardly a shot to save all game, England fell away
in the second half and I am sure were glad when the final whistle was blown by
the Mexican referee Rodriguez who had given some bizarre decisions.
very sober Geoff Hurst was there as was a rather inebriated Andrew Flintoff who
was asked if he was a City supporter. Of course -
supporters were there in strength for this first game
winning goal came very early on. A free kick by Beckham was headed into his own
goal by Gamarra. It was a superb inswinging ball that might have gone all the
way but the deflection by the defender gave the keeper no chance.
the first set of games now completed and top teams look like Spain and Argentina
with Brazil ,England ,Italy and Germany in a second group. Today sees the England
game with Trinidad & Tobago so with the good weather I hope we win the toss
and bat....ooops wrong game.
Latest City signing possibility is the youngster
Samir Nasri from Marseilles. Would be an asset in midfield and he has a great
future so I'll keep my fingers crossed. There might also be a Fortune coming to
City - Quinton that is !
got booked for this tackle in the USA game against the Czechs. Looks like the
ref is asking him what colour card he wants - blue of course
don't see many like this at Coms!
Brazilian supporter went to see KK's old stylist.
a contrast between Kaka and Ronaldo in the Brazilian team. Kaka was brilliant
while Ronaldo was a no no.
of the sublime moments of the World Cup so far. Kaka's wonderful side foot strike
to beat Croatia.
was even better than Ronaldino and thats saying something. The Brazilians loved
it and several flares appeared in the crowd
Ian Wright Wright Wright has kept his council regarding the absence of Shawn,
Sven seems confident Rooney will play today. We will see.
in the first 60 minutes of the game against T and T , England were pretty awful
with Hislop not having a decent save to make.
after 60 minutes on came Rooney for Owen and Lennon for Carragher. At last we
had some speed and aggression and chances.
blushes were spared after 83 minutes when a wonderful Beckham cross was headed
home by Crouch who had missed a sitter earlier
on full time Gerrard made it safe with a belter from outside the area.
the result 2-0 takes England through to the next round but it does not disguise
the fact that the predictable way England are playing will not trouble the likes
of Argentine and Spain etc. so Sven is going to have to rethink his original team
formation and it would surprise me to see Lennon and Rooney in from the start
against Sweden. Rooney appeared to come through his return from injury without
wonderful display by Argentina against Serbia and Montenegro (6-0) put them in
the favourites position in the World Cup today. The 24 pass move for the second
goal ended with Cambiasso taking a back heel from Crespo before scoring.
celebrated as only he can and when Messi came on he finished the scoring with
another great goal.
England must not lose against Sweden otherwise they will
meet Germany in the next round.
its prediction time and being a City supporter this is almost like being mentally
So any way here goes -
Second Round - Germany to beat Sweden
- Argentina to beat Mexico - England to beat Equador - Holland to beat Portugal
to beat Australia/Croatia - France to beat Ukraine - Brazil to beat the Czechs
- Spain to beat Switzerland
Quarter Finals -
Argentina to beat Germany-
Italy to beat France - England to beat Holland ( miracles do occur -sometimes)
Brazil to beat Spain
Argentina to beat Italy - Brazil to beat England
Brazil to beat Argentine 23 - 22 on penalties! It's that close - or perhaps
they could decide with a game of conkers between Pele and Maradona!
had a good game for the USA in their 1-1 draw with Italy that ended with three
red cards - one Italian and 2 USA. Keller saved the day for the States with great
save late in the game as the 9 USA players fought valiently to save a point. Italy
will have to improve a lot to qualify,
possible opponents in the next round France had a shock when they failed to beat
a spirited South Korean side. They did have bad luck when the ball went over the
line but neither referee or linesman spotted it. It certainly looked a goal from
the replays but to be fair to the linesman his view would have been blocked by
the keeper and the referee was in no position to judge. Time for technology I
wonder? I was surprised that the broadcasters have not been able to show a graphic
proving that the ball is over the line as they have frames from many camera angles
and such is 3D technology they should be able to do it quickly despite exaggerated
is the ball coming away from the keepers save from the Viera heder and he is well
over the line. The wonderful Korean supporters must have been mighty relieved.
Strange the French players did not appeal more.
less than ten minutes to go Korea equalised with a lucky goal and Park Ji-sung
celebrated a moment he will always cherish
was wonderful celebrations among the Korean supporters who had cheered their team
on throughout the game with enormous fervor. What of the French? Well apart from
Henry scoring a class goal they looked a shadow of their past 8 year old glories.
There is a good chance they will fail to qualify. The French papers will have
a field day,
read that Portugal had attracted some 10,000 to a training session at Guetersloh
( I think there used to be an old RAF Station there ) Well back in 1966 I went
to see them train in Cheadle, Manchester and there must have been a good half
dozen of us! Above is a pic of the great Eusebio at shooting practice.
have always kept an eye on the fortunes of South Korea since I refereed them in
the very first Asian Cup. They were pretty strong and fast in those days. Above
pic shows me accepting some flowers from some youngsters before the game in Taipei.
Korea won 2-1 and went on to win the cup in Hong Kong. more
Day for Group A and B with Germany playing Equador and England taking on Sweden.
I think it will be close in both encounters with Germany and England just winning.
there was a shock for high flying Spain when Tunisia took the lead through Mnari
and for a time the counter attacking Tunisians caused a few heart aches for the
the efforts of Spanish keeper Casillas when Tunisia took the lead in the 8th minute
this young Tunisian supporter could not believe his eyes. The look on his face
was a combination of both surprise and delight.
Spanish Manager Aragones made decisive changes at half time and the introduction
of Raul and the young and highly talented Fabregas changed the game. Fabregas
took over the midfield, spraying passing around the park and was very influential
in Spain's victory. The other top player was once again Fernando Torres whose
first touch was often supreme. He scored twice the second from a not so well taken
penalty but he is a force to be reckoned with and for those interested in his
tattoo on his left arm I have a team of experts trying to decipher the Da City
Code. Some say it reads " Come and sign me Mr Pearce. I want to play at COMS"!
Well I suppose we could always offer the Central Library for him.
have signed Ousame Dabo from Lazio Roma. He is a midfielder and played 31 games
for them last season scoring against Fiorentina, Empoli and Siena. In the previous
season he played 29 games including 5 UEFA Cup matches. He is 29 years old and
was in the French interntional squad in 2003 .and played twice for France. He
was born in Laval, La Meyenne, Western France. His past clubs have included Inter
Milan, AC Monaco and Palma. Last season he picked up one red card and 7 yellow.
City have been chasing him since April and now have got their man. This 6 footer
will add muscle to the midfield. Could Barton be departing I wonder?
as expected took care of Ecuador 3-0 and will now face Sweden in the next round.
Klose scored twice (Pity Keegan didn't sign him a few years ago). Can you spot
the face of Arnold Schwarzeneggera mong the celebrating German fans!
managed a draw with Sweden to avoid meeting Germany in the next round but the
biggest blow ws the injury in the first few minutes to Michael Owen suffered a
freakish knee injury likely to keep him out of football for months.
came on for Owen and one wondered whether the untried Walcott was going to get
a run out later in the game.
as though Freddie Lundgberg is surrendering to the hard working Hargreaves.
wonder strike by Joe Cole after 34 minutes put England in front. Not long after
half time an Allback header following a corner gave Sweden the equaliser but Gerrard
coming on for a tired Rooney, scored a good header and gave England the lead once
more with only 5 minutes left. Could England break the hold Sweden have over them
...no such luck. A defensive blunder following a throw-in handed the Swedes a
point. England will have to sort out their defence at dead ball situations and
how Sven must wonder about his choice of the inexperienced Walcott now he has
Owen out and Rooney not 90 minute match fit. Hargreaves I thought did well as
a holding midfielder but Beckham was not at his best. Joe Cole always looked dangerous
and took his goal brilliantly.
playing for Lazio against City - number 6 - left and centre
Chelsea will start the season with a loss at home on August 19th ! Yes that's
City's first game next season. First home game is on Wed the 23rd against Pompey.
Mexico Portugal game was full of incident with one red and 7 yellow cards.Portugal
with several reserves won 2-1 and they will play Holland in the next round.Mexico
will play Argentina
pointing the camera the wrong way mate!
alien sighting in Mexico !
just good friends..... watch where you put your knee!
the great save by Ricardo, Fonseca scored from the ensuing corner
attempts to prevent the ref from joining the Magnificent 7 but the ref will have
none of it!
Pearce in action for ITV
sums up the 0-0 draw between Argentina and Holland
the Italians had a relatively comfortable win against the Czechs, Ghana meanwhile
beat the USA 2-1.
got injured and lost possession to gift Ghana their first goal. Though the City
player came back on he later went off injured again. He will be out for 3-4 weeks.
Ghana winning goal came from a very doubtful penalty decision give by German referee
Merk and they are probably going to be the lone African nation in the last 16.
the Brazilian team have been slow starters in this competition their supporters
have always been colourful
Japan, Brazil upped the temp and even the rather unfit looking Ronaldo scored
twice to put him level with Gerd Muller as the top World Cup scorer of all time.
Roninho -above left scored a cracker and Ronaldinho above right started to show
all his tricks. Expect an even better performance next round.
only refereeing representative at the World Cup Graham Poll had a shocker in the
Australia Croatia game. He appeared to have lost the plot completely. He was previously
guilty of pulling out a red card before a yellow card in another game - well this
time he went one better! He gave three yellows to Simunic before sending him off.
He also missed two blatent penalties -one hand ball above left and the rugby tackle
on Viduka -below
this display I doubt whether Podgy Poll will be staying at the World Cup. Australia
however due to their 2-2 draw will play Italy in the next round.
finished at the top of their group in beating South Korea by 2-0 their first goal
coming by way of a scorching header by Senderos who crashed into Choi Jin-Cheul's
head . Both players needed treatment and the Korean a visit to the hairdresser.
who were in danger of dropping out got their act together at last and after a
series of misses Viera put them in front
got their second a few minutes later and celebrated with rather less fervour than
But then that's his way.
complete with scar looked a bit disappointed as he misses a goal against a brave
second goal was unusual as he looked well offside and the linesman is flagging
away. Only one problem. The pass came from a defender! So the referee rightly
over-ruled his assistant and gave a goal. Play to the whistle lads!
home nation Germany moved easily into the next round with a 2-0 win over Sweden.
It could have been much more but for some good goalkeeping by Isaksson. Klose
and Podolki combined well for the first goal scored by the latter following up
a blocked shot by Klose
and Podolski combined again for Podolki's second goal but the Swedes had to play
with ten men from the 35 minute when Lucic got his marching orders from a highly
amused Brazilian referee for a second yellow card.
in the second half Sweden had a chance to get back in the game when they were
awarded a penalty but to the misery of the Swedish fans Larsson shot well over
match between Brazil and Mexico was a tremendous game. The Mexicans played out
of their skins and gave the Argentinians a real scare when they took the lead
through Rafael Marqez in the 5th minute. He sneaked in at the far post to make
it Mexico 1-0
Mexican players and supporters were delirious at their early success
Mexican lead was not to last for long. After ten minutes Argentina equalised when
Crespo and Borgetti met at a corner and the ball flashed into the net -mostly
from the Bolton player's head though Crespo claimed it.
Mexicans gave 100% and as full time approached one slip by Argentina would have
caused a major upset. However it was not to be. Into extra time we went and 22
tired players prepared to battle it out. Only 8 minutes of extra time had been
played when we witnessed a truly wonderful goal.
long crossfield pass from Pablo Sorin was met on the chest by Rodriguez and his
left foot volley screamed into the top corner of the Mexican net with keeper Sanchez
was a goal to relish . A wonder strike . probably the best of the World Cup so
its up to England to beat Ecuador in an hour or so with Sven making several changes
in both personnel and system. It is expected that Ferdinand will return to the
centre of defence and Hargreaves will switch to right back to combat the speedy
Ecuador winger. Rooney will probably be on his own upfront. It is likely to be
very hot (90-100F) so it's going to be tough going.
and tough going it was against Ecuador. As early as the 11th minute England almost
conceded a goal when a misplaced header by Terry fell to Tenario (no.21) and it
was only a last ditch block by Ashley Cole saved the day. Hargreaves was fortunate
not to get a yellow card for his high kick against Tenario.
partnership of Lampard and Gerrard is not working 100% with Lampard a shadow of
his normal self.
then Sven... what do you think 3 across is ?....
Starts with F and has nine
stuck upfront on his own tried manfully to hold the ball and managed to last the
full 90 minutes. Getting fitter with glimpses of his old self
goal came by way of a tremendous free-kick by Beckham (about time too). His free
kick taken some distance out was precisely placed just inside the post with the
keeper well beaten
win through 1-0 in a tight game.
enjoyed it as did his wife..... the goal that is.
had to make one good safe and England managed to hold onto their lead but their
predictable play is not going to get results against the very best in this tournament.
Steve... you have it .. FORMATION . It's always difficult to get that right!
Holland -Portugal battle got off to a bad start when Boulahrouz clobbered Ronaldo
.He was lucky to have only got a yellow card
started early in his attempt to win a place in the the Dutch diving team
took the lead in the 23rd minute through Maniche. A well struck drive. It was
a good move involving Ronaldo, Deco and Pauleta .
was a deserved lead and no doubt manager Scolari was delighted. However the remainder
of the game was a disaster for football
played his part in the goal Ronaldo began to feel the effects of his injury and
eventually had to retire after 35 minutes. He was in tears on the bench and was
don't you give me a fee kick ref?
got booked for this high kick
foolishly handles the ball and gets sent off for a second yellow card
nearest Holland got to goal was when Van Bommell hit the bar
now down to ten men defended well as Holland and their supporters became more
next red card went to Boulahrouz who elbowed Figo (above) so now it was 10 against
game was rapidly becoming a farce with confrontations galore.
think referee Ivanov is training to become a magician as he was continually bringing
out cards from his pocket and the total number was approaching a FIFA record
a second yellow card and Deco gets his marching orders
stops Cocu from getting the ball for a few seconds and guess what........
head buts Van Bommell behind the referees back but still gets a caution.... FIFA
might still suspend him on video evidence.
the end the referee again bradished the red card and the man to be 'busted' Van
the farce ended with red carded Barcelona team mates Bronckhorst and Deco sat
together on the side and the lonely figure of Ruud van Nistelrooy who never got
a chance on the field.
The Russian referee equaled the World Cup record of
16 cautions and with the 4 reds bring this World Cup total to 23.... highest yet.
England now facing Portugal on Saturday in the quarter final it now looks as though
Portugal will be without Deco and Costinha definitely suspended and possibly Figo
also out and perhaps Ronaldo absent with his injury.
run high in football and the results are there for all to see
game between Switzerland and the Ukraine was a complete bore with hardly any action
throughout. It went to extra time which was equally bad and then the Swiss proceeded
to miss in the penalty shoot-out ( even Shevchenko missed) and it was left to
Gusev to score the winning penalty and Ukraine went through 3-0 in the shoot-out.
The referee from Mexico was very lenient in this game and there was only one yellow
card- perhaps FIFA had told him to go easy after recent events! A really poor
game with neither side wanting to take a risk - not even the Swiss Navy could
save this one!
can feel a little unlucky in their match against Italy. They had a fair amount
of the play but were unable to test Buffon - a class keeper. There was a disputed
red card - what's new... when Materazzi floored Brescianno ...above right.
was a straight red by the Spanish referee and the Italians were down to ten men
early in the secnd half. It was a harsh decision.
the Aussies had more of the play the Italians kept them at bay and just as it
looked as though there was going to be extra time......
the last minute Grosso broke down the left wing dashed into the penalty area and
Lucas Neill threw himself on the turf infront of the player. His uplifting arm
caught the Italian player and down he went. Penalty!
sets of supporters were stunned at the turn of events. Just when all were expecting
an extra half hour.
came Totti of Roma who had replaced Del Piero after 75 minutes and all Italy waited.
was a well struck penalty giving Schwarzer no chance and Italy were through
against Ghana and the supporters of both sides are ready for plenty of action.
took the lead in the 5th minute with Ronaldo beating the offside trap and he had
the easy task of adding to his total of World Cup goals. In his three World Cups
( 1998, 2002, 2008) he has now reached 15 beating the previous record held by
Muller. A moment of history for the Brazilian who looked so out of sorts a week
or so ago.
Brazilian goal had a lucky escape when a header from Mensah hit the foot of Dida
without the keeper knowing much about it.
contributed a lot to the game but their offside tactics looked suspect and their
finishing was poor.
7 Adriano was booked for this dive but he had his revenge shortly after when Brazil
counter attacked. Cafu crossed from the right.....
and Adriano was there to place the ball in the net to put Brazil 2-0 up at half
time. It looked suspiciously offside.
had to make several saves before yet another Brazilian breakaway ended with Roberto
beating the keeper in a one to one situation......
then putting the ball into an empty net. Three nil to Brazil and they march on
towards the final
was the end of the road for the last African nation in the World Cup but they
were really no match for the Brazilians who I thought could have raised their
game if necessary. Ghana's offside trap was suicidal and a lack of clinical finishing
ended their hopes.
other big battle yesterday was between France and Spain in Hanover.
complete the misery of the Spanish fans - in the final moments of the game 'old
man' Zidane scored a beauty to make it 3-1 and France will now play Brazil in
the quarter final
was difficult to believe that Zidane is about to retire from soccer as his presecence
in the French team was always in evidence. His sublime passing and skills were
not of someone 'past it'!
28 minutes Spain took the lead with a penalty. Following a corner Pablo was fouled
by Thuram right in front of the referee
Rosetti of Italy had no hesitation and despite the protestations of the French
players a penalty it was.
Villa was given the responsibility to beat Barthez in the French goal
dived the right way but the speed of the ball just beat him and Spain were one
Vieira ex Arsenal star and now playing in Italy showed many of his skills in midfield
Fernando Torres an up and coming star of Spanish football and target of several
Premier clubs found it difficult upfront.
was no surprise when France equalised a few minutes before half time. An offside
trap went wrong and Viera put through Frank Ribery who rounded Real Madrid keeper
and placed the ball into an empty net. 23 year old Ribery who plays for Marseilles
could be a target for English clubs. Looks very dangerous.
gets a painful kick ...........and Malouda holds off Joaquin
makes a good save from a lob by Malouda.
Torres run comes to an end.
about to be brought down by Vieira.
tells the Spanish bench to belt up!
7 minutes to go we had the games talking point. As Henry and Puyol went for a
loose ball , The Spanish player came across in front of Henry and blocked him.
In the old days this would have been an indirect free kick for obstruction. However
Henry went down clutching his face and Puyol ended up with a yellow card. This
was cheating pure and simple and it has made no friends for the Arsenal player.
Normally I would have expected better of him but I guess there is some history
between these players!
resultant free kick was met by Vieira near the far post and France went into the
the day! England versus Portugal in the quarter final . It's going to be tough
as England have yet to show any sparkling form. They have muddled their way through
so far and Portugal even without Costinha and Deco for certain and perhaps Ronaldo,
are not going to be easy meat. I m sure manager Scolari will have a few tricks
up his sleeve and he will be all out to outfox Sven particularly as he turned
down the England job. The predictability of Englands play will not help our cause
and I just hope Lampard finds his shooting boots and Rooney really comes of age
and shows us he's world class. I would not be surprised if it goes all the way
to extra time.
What of yesterday. Well Italy as expected put paid to Ukraines
hopes but there was a battle between Germany and Argentina with the home country
winning on penalties.
first half was a game of chess with neither side willing to take mjor risks. There
were a few skirmishes but referee Michel of Slovakia kept control and kept the
number of cards down.
and the same player had a walk-in goal ten minutes later to make it Italy 3 Ukraine
up Doc!! The Argentine keeper collided with Klose and had to be replaced by Franco
after 71 minutes
minutes into the second half Argentina took the lead. Ayala headed in a Riqquelme
Argentina fans enjoyed the moment while Herr Beckenbaur wondered what to do with
minutes later and Germany got the equalizer. It was that man again Klose with
I thought the referee had a good game only making one major error when he misinterpreted
a dive by Rodriguez when it should have been a penalty. Rodriguez got booked for
diving- if he hadn't made a meal of it the referee might have given the penalty
and perhaps Argentine would have won. A lesson there perhaps.
won 4-2 on penalties in the shoot-out after a goal-less extra time. Arsenal keeper
Lehmann saved two penalties and one of the favourites were out.
Germans were delighted and the Argentinians gutted. Oh ! Should we make Klinsmann
Mayor of Munich!
ecstasy ..............................And the agony
am sure FIFA will be investigating the disgraceful scenes afterwards as some of
the Argentina players appeared to throw punches and kicks. They were lousy losers
have now reached the semifinal stage and I would not bet against them reaching
the final the way they are playing. The linking of Klose and Podolski upfront
and with Lehmann in goal and Ballack running the midfield they will be difficult
Italians were firm favourites in this clash against the Ukraine who could not
believe they had reached this stage
took the lead in the 6th minute when a defender Zambrotta shot from about 30 metres
and his shot beat the keeper who should have saved it.
keeper, Buffon enjoyed the goal but Millevskly looks as though he's seen a ghost!
rarely troubled Buffon and for long periods there was only team in it.
went further ahead after 60 minutes with a header from Toni.....
suddenly woke up and nearly scored a couple of times in the final minutes.
will now face Germany in Dortmund next Tuesday.
was some day.
July 1st 2006 will be remembered for several events.
crashed out of the World Cup on penalties with Rooney being sent off.
Murrey thrashed Andy Roddick at Wimbledon in three sets.
The England cricket
team got thrashed by Sri Lanka losing the series 5-0 and on an even sadder note
the great Freddie Trueman fast bowler for England and Yorkshire died.
time came and stars of soccer and Rock and Roll could have a break
my ball and noboby else can have it!
took a knock in this clash
half a chance Ronaldo would fall like a stone
keeper had a great deal to do
missed the odd chance and when Beckham went off injured after 50 minutes things
did not look so good as the tean were not playing much better than in previous
emotions for the Beckham family and friends
introduction of young Lennon in place of Beckham gave us hope for a while and
a good run down the right ended with Rooney miskicking ..the ball ran to Cole
who shot over......but there was worse to come
clashed at the edge of the area and when he lost the ball he tried to get the
ball back from Carvalho. As the Chelsea defender fell Rooney trod into his groin..
whether by accident or design it was difficult to judge.
was a minor push by Rooney in the melee that followed and then Ronaldo and company
did their best to persuade the referee from Argentina to send him off. Whether
Rooney had been sent off for the stamp or push was impossible to tell. What was
certain was the action by Ronaldo - his team mate at United.
Ronaldo had been seen whispering sweet nothings into Rooney's ear - or was he
saying that he as going to get him sent off. Maybe the wink by Ronaldo as Rooney
was ordered off tells the story. I doubt whether Ronaldo will get a big welcome
when he returns to training at Carrington in a week or so. I would not surprise
me if he is transferred or is that what Ronaldo wanted all along. What a nice
had brought on Crouch for Cole after the sending off of Rooney but he had little
support and the only player to shine was Hargreaves who played out of his skin.
He had been the subject of much criticism but he was the man of the match for
me. A good team player -Can we have him at City!
it was down to penalties. Oh dear not good news with the Portugal keeper Ricardo
a specialist in saving!
got off to a good start but misses by Lampard, Gerrard and Carragher left Ronaldo
the chance to put England out and I am afraid he did so with great relish. Whether
it would have been different had Beckham not gone off injured and Rooney sent
off ( two definite penalty takers) we shall never know. The only penalty scorer
for England was ... Hargreaves. The one player who does not play in the Premier
League. Savior for Portugal was their keeper who made good saves from the penalties
but he should have been given no chance.
was heartbreak for the England players and joy for the Portuguese and it was goodbye
to Sven and his formations.
has resigned as England captain and I wonder how much Sven regrets his choice
of players -especially forwards.
scored thier winning goal after 57 minutes. Zidane whipped in a free kick from
the left wing and there was Henry unmarked at th fra post to crash the ball past
Dida into the roof of the net
doubt the Brizilian supporters were pretty confident they would beat France in
the other quarter final so they were in for a shock
in number 15 your times up!
were looking good and the Brazilians were well off their best
and possibly Man-of-the-Tournament was Zinedine Zidane who gave a truly magnificent
performance . His individual skill as he glided past the opposition and superb
passing inspired the French to a match winning display
was rarely dangerous and the French defence was always capable of providing good
cover for Barthez.
did not much to do but he did deny Ronaldo late in the game
Brazilian fans probably could quite believe it that they were out while the French
who when they started the campagn looked really poor have improved out of all
recognition. Now they will play Portugal.
Semi Final - Germany 0 Italy 2
the start the German supporters looked the more confident.
could not have been me Ref - I was away visiting my Grandma
does his best to explain
throws his weight around
in extra time Gilardino hit the post after breaking through
President - Please can you let Germany win!
goals came right at the end of extra time when it looked certain there was going
to be a penalty shootout. Following a corner Grosso hit a terrific left foot shot
from the right hand side........
that beat Lehmann and then in a beakaway del Piero added a second to add to Germany's
Italians were through to the Final once more and Ballack and company were left
to rue the missed chances
for 3rd place - Germany 3 Portugal 1
full house in Stuttgart for this almost non event. The battle for third place.
Most England supporters were hoping for a German win.
first half was not all that great with neither side able to finish.
you wearing that perfume again? Oh my God you are!
German supporters booed Ronaldo at every opportunity and he obliged with one of
his speciality dives and a mock injury
minutes after half time Germany took the lead. Schweinsteiger cut in and let fly
with a beauty that swerved and beat Ricardo. Though a better keeper might have
was more disaster for Portugal five minutes later when a feee kick taken by that
man Schweinsteiger was diverted into his own net by Petit. Despite Portugal having
a fair amount of the ball it looked all over.
78 minutes Germany made it safe with another cracker from Schweinsteiger. It was
almost identical to his first and Ricardo had no answer to the thunderous effort
by the German.
Kahn who had been left out of Germany's previous games was given a last go in
the German goal ( brave man that Klinsmann ) and dear Oliver Kahn that quiet,
unasuming, shy keeper made one or two typical saves in his last game for Germany
was beaten however with just 2 minutes to go when a superb cross from Figo - who
had only come on after 77 minutes - was met by a diving header by Gomes and it
Germany took third place and all Germany rejoiced and particularly Schweinsteiger
though he did get booked for taking off his shirt after the first goal.
Klinsmann had done well considering all the stick he got early on. ..... and we
actually got a smile from Kahn
My book 'End of an Era' containing photo memories of days at Maine Road is now available from Blurb.com.There are over 300 images on 200 pages.
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