no2 - The Finale
City 5 Everton 1
May15th 2004 att.47,284
have made this a one off special page with lots more pics than usual to celebrate
the 5-1 win and the end of season. It is very difficult to fathom City. After
my long haul last weekend to watch the pathetic effort against Middlesbrough who
were far from wonderful, the same team then put in an excellent display against
our visitors from Merseyside. But then that's the whole charm of being a Manchester
City supporter. It comes with the territory.
you may have noticed in the programme I shall be giving a talk in the early evening
of June 11th - details from the Museum 0161 438 7821. Hope to see some of you
a presentation to long serving Gerard Wiekens , the teams took the field each
knowing relegation fears had gone -just.
now ever-present huddle just prior to kickoff showed off the new kit and I hoped
the togetherness gesture would have a better result than at Riverside.
was determination from City in the early stages epitomized by this header from
Barton City's young player of the season.
was soon to feel the impact of a Dunne tackle to set the mood for the day.
worry lads... He's still breathing .... I think!"
Martyn was soon in action - watching a Dunne header just fly wide of his left
hand post following a corner.
16 minutes City took the lead.A Bosvelt cross ended with Paulo Wanchope scoring
from close range -above left - after an Anelka shot had been blocked. After being
out for so long with injury it was good to see this popular player get among the
goals. The large contingent of visiting Evertonians were silenced.
Sun continues his ambition to win the diver of the season trophy
much improved City defence was once more well on top in the battle against Radzinski
once more keeping the Everton strike force at bay.
yet another new haircut David James had little to do.
30 minutes City went further ahead. A brilliant Anelka flick sent Reyna away on
the left. His pass back to Anelka led to the ball running to Wanchope who evaded
a tackle to score his 50th Premiership goal.
Tarnat free kick from well outside the area went like a bullet at Martyn who saved
right infront of his face.
looked as though City might score a third when Anelka broke away but he scuffed
his shot and Martyn was able to save.
Anelka did not have long to wait to get on the score sheet. Four minutes before
the interval the French man scored with his left foot, Wanchope being the provider.
celebrates while Rooney checks to see if his his watch has stopped! Three nil
to City at half time.
Wayne Rooney and Shawn Wright-Phillips it was easy to see who came out on top
over the 90 minutes
60 minutes Kevin Campbell who had come on after half time reduced the arrears
with a close range header for Everton following a corner. It it turned out to
be a mere blip however.
was rare that James had to handle the ball let alone make a save as City took
over the game against a very poor Everton side.
the other hand veteran keeper Nigel Martyn had a very busy afternoon - above right
castigating a defender and top right saving at his near post
Martyn nearly took the ball over the line in saving from Anelka. In the old days
Natt Lofthouse would have had ball and keeper in the back of the net!
disconsolate Wayne Rooney gets a booking from referee Steve Dunn who had earlier
booked Barton. It was an easy game to referee however.
Wanchope tried to get his hat trick but was foiled by a good Martyn save.
who had come on for Wanchope after 80 minutes laid on the 4th City goal. His ran
down the right and cut the ball back to Sibierski (on for Barton) who shot home
with almost his first touch. 4-1
Wright Phillips brought the house down in the final minutes with City's fifth
and final goal. A long pass from Jihai Sun found Wright-Phillips who tore into
the Everton penalty area and crashed a great shot past the helpless Martyn.
of the Everton fans had already left after the poor display of their team. Manager
David Moyes must have been furious.
and Moonbeam watch Anelka take a final corner to try and make it 6 but it was
not to be and we had to be satisfied with 5-1
youngster defied the stewards for a minute or so for his five minutes of fame.
It all ended amicably with the young man been shepherded back to his seat
the final whistle there were awards to be given. Barton took the young player
of the season trophy and Shawn Wright-Phillips deservedly took the City Player
of the Year Award.
usual the team came on for their farewell to the fans at the end of the season
and I suppose the good reception was due to the match result rather than their
overall performance which had been very much below par especially after all the
predictions of a top 6 place. I will be penning a season review in a week or so
when I get a bit of time.
6: Sun 7: Dunne 7, Distin 7, Tarnat 6: Wright-Phillips 8, Barton 7 (Sibierski
7), Bosvelt 7, Reyna 7 (Jordan 6) Anelka 7, Wanchope 8 ( Macken 7):
were positive signs at the start of the season that a top 6 place was not out
of the question. Good away wins at Blackburn and Charlton and comfortable home
wins against Villa and Bolton gave lots of hope.There was the odd blip against
v Arsenal at home and Wolves away but by mid October we were in fourth position.
Difficult to believe now. So what happened to send the team into freefall and
to give us the relegation jitters in the final few weeks. The general home form
was poor and although on several occasions the opposition were played off the
park the inability to score was most frustrating. So who or what was to blame.
Probably a combination of things.....
1. The lack of atmosphere at the
new stadium. It will take time for both the team and supporters to get used to
their new home which is much more sterile than the homely Maine Road.
The difficulty of getting anyone to link well with Anelka upfront proved a problem.
In goals per game it did not make much difference whether it was Fowler or Wanchope
who partnered Anelka upfront. Fowlers initial form was poor but he did improve
as the season progressed and then fell away in the last month or so. However I
am afraid he is but a shadow of the goalscoring legend he was at Liverpool. I
am afraid time has caught up with him and that goalbox speed of thought and action
has been lost. Wanchope had bad luck with his injury problems but came back with
vengeance at the end of the season and his linking with Anelka looked very promising.
Perhaps this might be the pairing of choice at the start of next season. Anelka
himself proved a bit of an enigma. Easily City's highest scorer with a total of
24 league and cup goals he missed many more but so do many strikers. In the last
few games ,the Middlesbrough game aside, he really worked quite hard and although
his manner always gives the impression he does not enjoy the game, his pace and
skill is beyond reproach and he was after all the highest of the City players
in the Opta ratings for the season scoring with 17% of his shots (12% previous
season) and successfully completing 72% of his passes. Macken filled in well on
the few occasions he was given a chance and although he always gave 100% I don't
think he is a Premier League first choice striker.
3. As I expected
the loss of a Benarbia (retired) and Berkovic as providers proved a heavy burden
to bare. Sibierski who was bought to take over did not play regularly until the
new year and he did not appear to have the same guile and football nouse as the
two B's. The transfer of Berkovic to Portsmouth left a bad taste in the mouth.
The Israeli's demand for new extended contract did not go down well but I feel
the whole episode could have been handled far better when matters came to a head
despite the tempestuous character of Berkovic.
The signings of McManaman and Sinclair did not have the effect hoped for. Like
Fowler both were mere shadows of their former selves and were disappointing in
the extreme. Premiership
defences are generally pretty good and if teams come to defend then it does take
a lot of creative play to make chances for the strikers. If
you don't have the players capable to do that then you have to work pretty hard
and long in midfield to wear the opposition down and that can be a problem with
too many players waiting for their soccer bus passes!
were some positives from the season. The signing of David James following the
retirement of David Seaman certainly strengthened the defence and the presence of England's number One gave more confidence to the back four. There are likely
to be more changes in defence. Michael Tarnat has been released as have Tiatto
and Weikens so we are short of a left sided player unless It is Keegans intention
to sign Van Buyten who looked good in his few loan games before injury and move
Distin to left back leaving Dunne as Van Buyten's partner. Jihai Sun had a mixed
season. His link up attacking play with Wright-Phillips was adventurous but his
defensive marking was often at fault.
6. With the stadium filled to
nearly 98% of its capacity despite the poor form of City the average attendance
was 46,834 - well up on the last season at Maine Road (plus 35%) and third in
the Premiership after PLC and Newcastle United. The support for City never wavered
last season despite some poor home displays. Lets hope the players respond next
season with more consistency in front of a very patient City crowd.
6 - Nice idea to sign him to replace Peter S but he was just past his best
and a few errors cost City dear.
James 8 - One of Keegans better signings.
His form reached the high level of City keeper traditions
- Some way to go yet. Only played a few games when Seaman was injured
6 - Went in exchange for van Buyten. Adequate but not outstanding. Prone to
Jihai Sun 6 - A mixed bag. For a fullback his tackling
and positional play often left much to be desired but going forward linked well
with SWP and a few of his adventures in opposing areas brought goals.
6.5 - Had the odd blinder and the occasional bad game but overall a better
Distin 6 - The ever present skipper did his best but it was just
not good enough on many occasions. From the sidelines did not appear to be forceful
enough as captain. Not a Pearce - but few are.
Tarnat 6.5 - Played quite
a lot and scored some spectacular goals but his lack of pace let him down. His
trusty left foot passes went astray too often in the latter part of the season
and he has really reached his sell-by-date. Pity as he looked to be a good signing
at the start.
- A strong defensive player with the ability to pass well but not all that fast
and age is catching up with him.
Berkovic 6 - Never got a run in the
side before his departure to Portsmouth under a cloud. A happy inform Berkovic
would have made a difference.
Barton 6.5 - Full marks for effort but
his passing went adrift too often and his poor on field discipline needs curtailing.
6 - Another player who has not reached the heights expected. Did not really
Wright-Phillips 8 - Full marks for effort and he rarely disappointed.
Ability to put teams under pressure with his runs at goal. He scored some real
crackers in his 11 goals in 41 matches. Still needs to improve his crosses.
5 - A real disappointment. Probably spent too much time on the Real bench.
Forgot what it was like actually playing. No goals in 26 games.
5 - A disappointing season with only two goals in 28 games. Did not play regularly
in the latter stages.
Sibierski 7 - Was brought in to replace Ben and
Berk but only chosen regularly after Christmas. Should be scoring more with his
experience. 7 goals in 23 games
8 - Easily City's most gifted player with 24 goals but difficult to play with.
24 in 42 matches
Wanchope 7.5 - His season was spoilt by injury. Finished
strongly and will probably be a first choice next season to partner Anelka. Scored
6 in 13
Fowler 6 - Just when he was looking like he was coming into
some kind of form he fell away again. 10 in 33 games
Macken 6 - Ignored
for the first half of the season scored some important goals. 4 in 9 games