Filed: Wednesday, 12th October 2005
By: Matthew Coker
Whilst the rest of the nation are settling down to a Sunday roast, we resume our quest for Premiership survival with our first ever trip to the City of Manchester Stadium.
“Oh Man City, The only Football Team to come from Manchester.” - Man City ChantThis is a game between two clubs that have a great deal in common. We both have a history of playing attractive football, we have a similar size fan base which has proved itself to be loyal even when our clubs have been in the lower leagues and we are both, unfortunately, overshadowed by more successful city neighbours. This common ground has meant that the relationship us and the Paul Calfs is an amicable one and anyone travelling up should be well received.
We face a Citeh side in fairly good health, a tremendous start to the season saw them unbeaten in five, victories over Birmingham, Sunderland and Portsmouth combined with a share of the points with Manchester United and WBA. A slight blip saw three quick defeats in succession, Doncaster in the League cup sandwiched by losses to Bolton and Newcastle. Their last game saw them beat Everton 2-0.
Their manager is a familiar face to us all, former Forest, Newcastle and, of course, West Ham favourite, Stuart Pearce. He took over the role in March 2005 where he moved them from hovering above the relegation zone to within a whisker of a European place. This success was rewarded with a permanent contract.
The player that was Stuart “Psycho” Pearce is a different animal altogether to Stuart Pearce, the coach. He has replaced his aggressive side with a softer exterior, is gracious in defeat but nevertheless maintains his enthusiasm for the game as his post goal celebrations demonstrate. He is going to be a fascinating manager to watch over the years and I cannot imagine that many people connected with football wish him anything but a long and successful career.
In goal is David “Calamity” James, a player that I could easily write quite a few pages about without a hint of a complement. It is true that he has made enough athletic saves in his career to warrant a “David James' Greatest Saves” video but he was responsible for enough mistakes in the season that we went down to warrant a “David James’ Greatest Balls Ups – The Relegation Edition” video.
He had a bad habit with us of rushing out of his goal to chase nothing balls resulting in at least half a dozen games when the ball is in the net and he was out of the penalty area or by the corner flag or wandering around the car park. He is also easy to distract, a famous Premiership striker once said that all you have to do to put him off is to ask him how his family are doing when he is about to defend a corner, sparking off a conversation and a conceded goal.
To my mind, he was as big a villain as Roeder or anyone else the season we went down and anyone greeting him with a round of applause on Sunday will be entitled to a shake of the head from my direction. On a more interesting note, 19 year old Kasper Schmeichel, son of Peter is the third choice keeper.
The unfortunates who stand in front of James are likely to be the 15st “Honey Monster” Richard Dunn with Frenchman Sylvain Distain in the middle, flanked henchmen, Danny Mills and Ben Thatcher. The line up has been fairly unsettled recently with Stephen Jordan and 18 year old Nedum Onuoha getting run outs in the first team.
Midfielder Joey Barton attracted a considerable amount of bad publicity in the summer for his off the field behaviour but he has been in excellent form on the pitch this season. The midfielder has been instrumental in creating chances and his performances are one in the eye for his critics (that is a metaphorical one rather than a Cuban one).
He was partnered in the centre by debutant Stephen Ireland against Everton who gave a good account of himself. Ireland stepped up to replace injured Claudio Reyna, who had pulled a neck muscle, though you would imagine the experienced American will return if fit. Loanee, Kiki Musampa seems to have made the left side of midfield his own and Sibierski is currently holding down a role with Sinclair expected to remain out for a couple more weeks.
On the subject of “Tricky” Trevor Sincs, he is back on form and in favour this year. A typical footballer in that he had bags of talent but his off the field behaviour left a sour taste in the mouth especially his transfer requests. Ignoring his final season, some of his football was sublime and he was a tireless worker especially in his role as a wing back. We will all have some great memories of his time at the Boleyn, either of his numerous spectacular goals or of him and Di Canio working together to destroy opposition. He already has two goals this season and won’t be missed by West Ham on the day.
There is a little variety up front to choose from when Robbie Fowler was joined in the summer by Andy Cole and Darius Vasell and both new strikers have settled in well. The former Old Trafford darling seems to have been pivotal in the teams success, the recent run of defeats coincided with his absence through injury until the fixture list threw up the banker that is Everton.
";I'm going to have to plant my derriere on the pointy white bit of wood and go with 1-1" - Matthew Coker (ie me) in the Sunderland previewOverall, Man City are in good shape, rather like Everton last season, they have responded to the loss of the club starlet by carrying on regardless. The fixture list was kind to them early on, they have tailed off a little and the victory against Everton was not enough to convince me that the lull is quite over. I also think that the Bolton game showed that they can be got at on the break, with Mills and Dunne particularly suceptible.
I hope that our game at Sunderland would have been the wake up call that we needed and stopped the players believing all the hype that is surrounding us this season. I am going to go for the slenderest of victories, 1-0 with the defence (Tomas) back on top form.
Finally, my raffle ticket says I am in row W, seat three hundred and fifty something so if you are in the vicinity and getting the half time teas in, no sugar for me, thank you. Nairnster, if you are reading this, look forward to a lift in the beamer, but remember, no white boy rubbish on the stereo.
Enjoy the game.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
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