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OCT 4 (CCC2) MANCHESTER CITY - WYCOMBE 4-0 (2-0)

Attendance: 11,474
Goals: MC: Rösler (31, 33), Quinn (60), Curle (63 pen)
Line up: Immel, I.Brightwell, Edghill (Margetson), Curle, Symons, Lomas, Flitcroft (Brown), Kinkladze (Summerbee), Beagrie, Quinn, Rösler

Action shots: Rösler by the Daily Telegraph.

Report by: Ashley Birch

After a mad dash from work we ended up outside the Kippax at 6.50pm so managed to get a few jars in in the social club beforehand. On arriving at my seat which is in AA of the upper tier I was relieved to see that the barrackers from the Boro' game hadn't bothered to turn up! problem was, neither had anybody else though things did fill up 10 mins into the game. We were all fairly apprehensive and City started a little nervously, attacking the North Stand. Despite this, City strung together some good moves but were let off the hook after 10 mins when De Souza was allowed room and beat Immel only for his shot to bounce back off the upright and along the line for what seemed an age before Immel was able to gather it. City started to play a neat passing game which was only interrupted by Brightwell who was playing at rightback (where is Foster?) who was a model of consistency in passing the ball to Wycombe players!

Kinky was having a stormer, wriggling through players and spraying the ball all over the park (to our players!). He really showed what a class player he is and my feeling is that he will make the adjustment to Premier League footie. City controlled the midfield and regularly attacked down each flank and through the middle where Quinn was his old self, winning every ball put into him, controlling it neatly and making good layoffs, particularly to Uwe. After about 20 mins it seemed we must score when the ball was crossed from the left by Beagrie (?) only for a Wycombe player to hit the ball goalward from about 3 yards out. A goal seemed a foregone conclusion but the goalie pulled off a truly stunning save to keep the ball out.

We began to get a little nervous as, despite virtually constant pressure and deft little flicks from Niall, the ball just didn't seem to fall right. Our luck finally turned on about the halfhour mark when an almost identical situation to the first goal chance reappeared but this time the ball bobbled up to Uwe who had the simplest of tap-ins to put us one up.

Two minutes later we were two up and everyone had broken out into a chorus of 'You're going out with United'! Kinky wriggled through the middle and played a beautiful ball through the Wycombe defence where Uwe had timed his run to perfection to slot the ball home. My mate said that Flipper was offside and we were dead level with it but what the hell, it's about time some decisions went our way. Uwe and Kinky were ecstatic (weren't we all) and hugged each other frenziedly. The lads were applauded off at half time with some degree of relief after Kinky had been chopped and looked for a few minutes to have been seriously injured. We met Paul at half time for a natter and were disturbed by celebrity Blue Curly Watts from Coronation Street (a soap for those non English subscribers) on his way for a leak!

The second half was a bit subdued but came to light with a delightful move which involved 8 City players before finally ending up with the ball in the net, Reid and Ellis would have had apoplexy! It was one of those goals that you just knew was coming almost from the moment the move began. The ball eventually found it's way over to the right where Uwe (?) crossed for Quinny to belt the ball past the bemused Wycombe goalie and defence, a really well worked goal. A few minutes later and it was four as Kinky raced into the area with one of the big Wycombe lads leaning all over him, it was just a matter of where he would fall over really. Curle despatched the ball to some booing as many thought Uwe should have got his hattrick but... Curley is our penalty taker!

City stepped off the gas a little and substituted both Flipper and Kinky for Brown and Summerbee. Edghill looked to have pulled a hamstring muscle as he blasted a good chance into a low geo-stationary orbit and was replaced by Martyn Margetson who raced around the field to much merriment and cheering. Wycombe had a good chance in the last 5 mins but really City were just having fun by this time and who can blame them.

Overall this was a very good performance and one we should hopefully build on. Uwe and Niall looked to have real understanding up front and should be kept together. In midfield Flipper played in an offensive role for the first time in about a year but didn't look in form and was booked for a ludicrous challenge from behind when we were 4-0 up! Lomas was reasonably effective and Beagrie looks to be almost back to fitness but still has his perennial problem which is never crossing when he can make a monkey out of the defender for a second time! Kinky was supreme, especially in the first half. He looked easily the best player to have graced Maine Rd for many a long year, mazy dribbles, great vision and brilliant passing. Symons and Curle looked OK but let the big Wycombe strikers have a couple of free headers in the first half. Edghill looked much better at leftback than he has done at rightback all season but Brightwell was a liability. His defending was good but his passing was abysmal and moves up the rightwing broke down several times due to atrocious passing on his part. He also got booked and was very lucky to escape a sending off when he went right through the back of a Wycombe player on the touchline. Immel was he usual self, looks a little dodgy kicking, but safe as houses when called upon to make a save.

Lastly, the ref was excellent as was one of the linesman, the other was a little ddgy but still good when compared to some of the idiots we've seen this season.

Final score: 4-0

OCT 14 MANCHESTER UTD - MANCHESTER CITY 1-0 (1-0)

Attendance: 35,707
Goals: MU: Scholes (5)
Line up: Immel, Edghill, Phelan, Curle, Symons, Lomas, Flitcroft, Kinkladze, Beagrie (Summerbee), Quinn (Creaney), Rösler

Action shots: Bad taste by the Daily Telegraph.

Report by: Svenn Hanssen

It's getting to be a habit, watching City-United on telly with my pencil in my mouth :-) It wasn't a good game however, but City was not the worst team on the pitch this Saturday.

The teams lined up as follows:

            Immel                           Schmeichel

Edghill Symons Curle Phelan   G.Neville Pallister Bruce P.Neville

 Kinky Flipper Lomas Beagrie         Beckham Butt Keane Giggs

          Quinn Rösler                       Cole Scholes

The crowd was all pro-United, and you could hear it as the cheers only went one way. I imagine that the referee noticed it too, because he gave the rags the advantage most of the time. Anyway it gets pretty lame with such a one-way crowd, doesn't it?

The match started with Kinky missing a pass. After hearing so many positive comments about him I found out that he finally had sorted out how to play the english way, and therefore started missing passes. After a while I had to think twice. The guy was brilliant with the ball, but didn't find any support for his passes.

After 5 minutes a corner from Giggs was met by an unmarked Scholes. His header was going right into the arms of Immel, when Curle popped up and nodded the ball past the stunned goalkeeper. Yeah it's going to be one of those days I thought.

Immel hit a couple of bad goal kicks. He didn't seem to have the strength to kick the ball upfield. Quinn seemed frustrated, as none of the long-balls was directed to him. Perhaps Ball is trying to get rid of those sort of tactics? Rösler on the other hand didn't seem to get his kind of balls either. However, after 15 minutes he chases between two United defenders; he shows his strength and speed, just running clear of Pallister and Gary Neville. The latter tried to tackle, but watched in horror as Rösler is chopped to the ground. This was midway into United's half, and Rösler was through on goal. I had my suspicions, and wasn't shocked when the referee showed Neville the yellow card. It was an act of cowardliness from Mr. Dilkes.

City were in no mood of getting last year's thrashing, and worked real hard. Especially Lomas, who was showing commitment, whilst Flitcroft was a bit out off position. To me he was a disappointment. He was nowhere most of the time and never really looked dangerous. Kinky made some good moves, but it always stopped just outside the United penalty area. No one was running and everyone just watched as he moved upfield. Neither Flicroft nor Lomas came from behind to give support, and most of the time it was easy meat for the United defence. After 30 minutes Pallister screwd up and leaves Quinn clear on goal. Quinn has all the time in the world and aimes carefully, only to see his shot fly wide of the far post. A better striker would have scored! A few minutes later Symons nearly made the same mistake, but Immel cleared the ball just in front of Cole. United gets the last good chance of the half when Scholes missed the goal from 5 yards.

The second half started with a couple of bookings. United didn't look dangerous most of the time, and it continued to look promising. Most of their chances were created by Giggs, and squandered by Cole. Their midfield didn't get much from Lomas and Kinky, and Edghill made Giggs look anonymous every time he went walkabout on our right side. Keane showed some of his naughty tackling, but was overshadowed by Lomas, who gained a yellow card after flattening Scholes. Phelan handballed when he was cought out off position, and Curle kicked Cole in the butt for his yellow card. Beagrie was replaced by Summerbee after 60 minutes, and didn't seem too happy with that decision, Sharpe replaced Scholes shortly after.

Summerbee showes some good moves, but most of the time he wasn't involved in his position far out on the right-hand side. In this period United showed their best form of the match, with good chances falling to Butt and Giggs. Immel made some really good saves to keep it 1-0. After 78 minutes McClair replaced Keane, and Quinn was taken off for Creaney. This was never likely to be effective, as we now had no way to match Pallister in the air. Quinn had done a good job directing balls for Rösler, and winning battles against Pallister. Creaney showed his potential on a couple of occations; losing the ball to United defenders with much ease.

So the game faded away, and we're left with only one point at the bottom of the table. There's no use complaining about the referee, because Quinn should have scored in the first half. The team looked a bit unsettled, and out of formation. I think we should quit playing with wingers as they're simply not good enough for the job. Immel made some good saves, but had trouble communicating with Symons on one occation. Coton will make a difference IMHO. Edghill must be satisfied after marking Giggs out of the match. Curle and Symons played well, but I don't think Symons has the same qualites as his partner. Phelan nearly created a goal with his speed. Kinky is the main solution to our problems I think. If the rest of the team can give him enough support he'll create lots of chances. To often he ran upfield, waving his arms trying to get players to run into positions. Most of the time Rösler and Quinn just stood there watching, and only Beagrie seemed interested in getting the ball. Flipper was disappointing. Is he already playing for Blackburn in his mind?

Bally is trying to build the team around Kinky. That might be a good idea, but we haven't got the players yet. Lomas and Flipper must give the georgian more support from behind, and Rösler must show more interest. Quinn's heading power should not be wasted. This Saturday he was a Lone ranger most of the time.

Final result 1-0

OCT 21 MANCHESTER CITY - LEEDS UNITED 0-0 (0-0)

Attendance: 26,390
Goals:
Line up: Immel, Edghill, Phelan (Creaney), Curle, Symons, Summerbee, Flitcroft (I.Brightwell), Kinkladze, Lomas, Quinn, Rösler

Report by: Ken Foster

A pleasant Autumn day generated a fairly large crowd for this fixture between the two sleeping giants.

The game started with a lengthy period of Leeds posession. The main threat was coming down City's left side with Kelly overlapping frequently. This seemed to stretch us a bit with Leeds apparently having a man spare on every attack. When City got into the game Kinkladze was running the show again, feeding Summerbee and Phelan on the overlap. Win, Lose or Draw I think it's worth the admission money just to see Kinky. He rarely loses the ball, takes men on, creates his own space, and has great vision. It's just a pity that a lot of our players aren't on his wavelength yet. We produced some flowing moves which got the crowd going and I thought the support was the noisiest so far this season. (I tend to frequent the North Stand because it generates the best atmosphere due to the presence of the away fans). Summerbee had a shot over the bar and Rösler just missed out on finishing a good move reminiscent of vintage City.

Immel spoilt a brilliant display with some woeful kicking. One dead ball clearance resulted in giving Leeds posession in a dangerous position. A shot from McAllister (I think) resulted in a brilliant one-handed save from Eike. This didn't stop Rösler from running the full length of the field to bollock him for the clearance though. Leeds also got 2 free kicks on the edge of the box after silly challenges by Curle. Fortunately they wasted both. The highlight of the half for me was when Kinky dribbled the ball past about 3 Leeds players and tried to curl the ball around Lukic. The shot didn't come off but it was pure class. I thought City shaded the half.

Flipper was replaced by Brightwell at half time after picking up a knock. The second half became a tale of the 2 penalties that weren't. The first involved Curle playing a one two with Rösler and beating his man on the edge of the Leeds box to find himself in the clear with only Lukic to beat. He was unceremoniously brought down but the ref waved play on. I thought the forays upfield by Symons and Curle gave us a new dimension, and certainly caused Leeds some problems. Symons was outstanding and Yeboah never really got a kick. The other penalty claim involved Edghill. It was more dubious but some refs would have given it.

A pass from Kinky released Brightwell whose cross was met by Quinn who nodded it down for Rösler but Pemberton cleared it off the line. Another move resulted in Kinky (or was it Lomas?) being fouled on the edge of the box. Two Leeds players were booked for not retreating the full 10 yards but when the kick was taken Curle side footed to Summerbee who ballooned it over. Phelan pulled a muscle overlapping Brightwell and Creaney came on in a left-sided midfield position. The last 15 minutes involved us hanging on a bit but Leeds failed to capitalise. I think we were satisfied with a point at the end and indeed most of the fans looked fairly happy on the way out.

This side could pull us out of trouble but I feel we are still 2 or 3 players short of a quality team.

Final Score 0-0 Ratings:

Immel (8). Curle and Symons had to take his kicks in the second half but he made some good saves.

Edghill (7) Kept Wallace quiet and his passing was OK for once.
Phelan (6) Good coming forward but most of danger came from this side. sub: Creaney (6)
Symons (9) Excellent defending and some good forays forward.
Curle (8) Good performance but still prone to giving away free kicks in dangerous areas.

Lomas (6) Committment can't be questioned but I'm still unsure about him.
Flitcroft (6) Is he happy? Did he sign a new contract? sub: Brightwell (6)
Kinkladze (9) Different class entirely
Summerbee (7) Played well beat his man but crossing and shooting let him down today.

Quinn (8) Given his limitations I thought Niall was excellent.
Rösler (7) Didn't quite click today but needs better service.

OCT 25 (CCC3) LIVERPOOL - MANCHESTER CITY 4-0 (1-0)

Attendance: 29,394
Goals: L: Scales (9), Fowler (74), Rush (79), Harkness (82)
Line up: Immel, Foster, Edghill, Curle, Symons, Summerbee, Lomas, Kinkladze, I.Brightwell, Quinn, Rösler (Brown)

Action shots: Buzzing by the Daily Telegraph.

Report by: Paul Howarth

"We're Blues, and we're proud of it."

I nearly missed the start of this one; one of the three coaches didn't turn up and we waited until 6:00pm before leaving the city centre. Got in just before the kick off and was surprised how many empty seats there were, particularly in the main stand to our right. City returned 3,000 tickets themselves but a cash turnstile was open on the night so there were probably 4,000-4,500 Blues present out of the crowd of 29,394. City lined up as follows:

               Immel
Brightwell  Symons  Curle  Edghill
Summerbee  Lomas Kinkladze  Foster
           Rösler  Quinn

Right from the start Liverpool threatened to tear City apart, particularly down City's left side where McAteer was pulling untried combination Edghill and Foster all over the place, leaving wide gaps for McManaman and Redknapp to run into. City failed to close players down and Liverpool found themselves with acres of space to use for their quick, accurate passing moves. Immel made two brilliant saves in the first few minutes, the first from Fowler being particularly impressive. However, in the 9th minute Liverpool opened the scoring through John Scales. Symons' clearing header from a cross only made it as far as Scales, who hit a very good low shot right into the corner, with Niall Quinn's attempted charge-down unsighting the goalkeeper.

At this point Brightwell and Foster swapped positions and City started to get some tackles in, which resulted in Liverpool looking slightly less threatening than before. However, up front Quinn and Rösler were playing too far apart to be effective, one of Liverpool's three central defenders always being able to intercept flick-ons. Liverppol continued to dominate the game, always looking likely to increase their lead without actually doing so. It must be nice to support a team as good as this, I thought.

After about 25 minutes, City seemed to realise that they were still in the match and started to make a game of it. Lomas and Brightwell battled away in midfield, disrupting the home side's short passing game. One or two chances started to materialise. Quinn and Rösler moved closer together and Rösler managed to get on the end of a Quinn flick close to the penalty spot, turned round Mark Wright but screwed his shot just wide of the far post with only James to beat from the corner of the 6-yard box. The next chance fell to Quinn in a very similar position; a low cross from Rösler skimmed along the edge of the 6-yard box evading two Liverpool defenders before reaching Quinn, who was so surprised he sliced his shot wide with the goal at his mercy. He made no such mistake a few minutes later, using his body strength to hold off Wright and shooting powerfully past James from 15 yards but unfortunately the referee had already blown for a free kick, ruling that Quinn had fouled Wright.

So, half time came and 1-0 was a fair reflection of the play. We were still optimistic given the improvment in City's play towards the end of the half. Anfield is no longer the cauldron of passion it used to be and the travelling Blues had no difficulty making themselves heard above the rather subdued home fans. Maybe you get bored of good football, winning trophies etc? I'd like to see for myself though!

The first 30 minutes of the second half continued as the first half had ended, with City having the bulk of possession. Unfortunately we made no real clear-cut chances despite having as much of the ball as I can ever remember seeing a City side have at Anfield. The only half chances of note came when Kinkladze picked up the ball just outside the City area following a Liverpool corner, ran at the Liverppol defence (and beat them!) but blazed his shot high and wide, and also when Quinn was sent through with a good pass from midfield but screwed a weak shot wide from outside the area when he might have squared the ball for Rösler. He may not have seen Rösler, and the German might well have been given offside had Quinn passed to him, so you can't really blame Quinn for shooting.

City's resistance ended on 74 minutes when a neat Liverpool passing move culminated in a one-two between Fowler and Rush, Fowler ran on into the City area, held off a challenge and fired a low, hard shot in at the near post. Immel will be very disappointed at letting a goal in at his near post but it would be churlish to criticise him after his first half heroics. You might also say that the marking on the Liverpool players could have been tighter but it was a very good goal, superbly finished by a top-class striker.

This goal was a terrible blow for City, who had competed well until that point. The heads seemed to go down and we knew the game was up. I'd like to think that they were saving their energy for the match on Saturday but I think in reality the players were just knackered and disheartened. Two more goals followed in quick succession, the first for Ian Rush, who managed to pull a yard away from Symons, hang in the air for ages and them plant a powerful header right in the top corner. This was the cue for many Blues to leave the ground and for the home fans to finally make some real noise. They were further cheered by a goal for Steve Harkness three minutes later, his first shot rebounding back off a defender straight back to him, making no mistake with his second effort. There were further chances for Rush and Fowler to make the final score even more flattering to the Reds but the City boys managed to hold on until the relief of the final whistle came.

The remaining City fans applauded the players from the field, knowing they'd given their all. Since we create so few decent chances, the ones that do come our way are snatched at. Compare this with the cool, clinical finishing shown by Fowler, who knows he's almost certain to get another chance if he misses. That's the big difference between the top and bottom sides. So, what can we do on Saturday? We have to maintain the good points of this performance, the battling midfield restricting Liverpool's possession. We must be prepared to bring another midfield player on after an hour or so to introduce fresh legs. Crosses must he whipped in, not left hanging in the air for James to claim (which he will do even if he has to come to the edge of the area to do it). We must be prepared to run at defenders with pace. Liverpool's defence is good but they don't like being run at any more than anybody else's defenders do. We must close down and keep tight to their forward players. Do all these things for 90 minutes and we might surprise a few people.

Final Score: Liverpool 4 City 0

OCT 28 LIVERPOOL - MANCHESTER CITY 6-0 (2-0)

Attendance: 39,267
Goals: L: Rush (3,64), Curle (5 o.g.), Fowler (47, 60), Ruddock (53
Line up: Immel, I.Brightwell (Creaney), Edghill, Curle, Symons, Summerbee, Lomas, Flitcroft, Kinkladze (Brown), Quinn, Rösler

Report by: Paul Howarth

"Alan Ball is a football genius"

Six-nil. Six bloody nil! The score on Wednesday may well have flattered the Reds but this time it was us that the score flattered. They could easily have had eight or nine goals. We were lucky to get nil. The only lessons learned from the midweek game were learned by Liverpool it seemed. There were over 12,000 more scousers at this game than the Coca-Cola Cup match, prompting chants of "where were you on Wednesday night?" from the 3,000 or so Blues.

With the M62 closed there was a severe traffic jam outside the city, so many people arrived later than they'd intended. Those arriving over 5 minutes after kick-off would have missed the only phase of the match in which we looked like we might get something from it. The only change to the team was that Flitcroft came in for Foster, Brightwell moving back to right back to accommodate him. During the pre-match warm up, I don't recall seeing Uwe score. His headers went straight down, shots blazed wide, over or straight at Immel. A sign of things to come.

City kicked off and took the game to Liverpool, who struggled to gain possession. When they eventually got it, the ball was sent out to their right wing where Fowler and Redknapp were up against Edghill and nobody else. Not surprisingly, a cross came in unopposed, was met by McAteer who hit a hard, low shot which was parried by Immel. The ball bounced straight to Rush in front of an open goal. He didn't miss. Three minutes gone, one Liverpool attack, one nil.

Two minutes later the game was over as a contest. Liverpool got a free kick just outside the box. Edghill was booked when he got in the way when Redknapp tried to take a quick one. Redknapp then tried again; his shot looked to be going wide of the far post but Curle stuck out a leg and diverted it in at the near post. Five minutes gone, two nil. It was going to be one of those days.

The Blues battled away, created one or two half chances and missed them, as usual. James had no serious save to make. Five minutes before half time Kinky was running along the edge of the Liverpool area, tried one sharp turn too many and fell in a heap. After a while Lomas kicked the ball out of play and Kinky was stretchered off. It looked pretty serious, maybe a twisted knee? Brown came on and City held on to their two goal deficit until half time.

Within two minutes of the restart it was three nil. This was the best goal of the day, a Goal of the Month contender. Mark Wright (he scored for Derby in our last 6-0 defeat in 1989, a few weeks before Mel Machin was sacked) came out from the back, did a neat one-two whilst running down the right flank, squared the ball for Fowler who danced round Brightwell and Symons before rolling the ball just inside the post and out of Immel's reach.

The Reds were really up for it now and looked like they score from every attack. The fourth goal was straightforward, Ruddock getting in front of Quinn to power home a header from a corner. Ruddock was on as substitute for Barnes. The substitution involved McAteer moving up into midfield but Liverpool played exactly the same, hardly noticing the change. Collymore didn't even make the bench by the way. The fifth goal came once again from the Liverpool's right flank, McAteer's cross hitting Rush's heel and bouncing behind Fowler and Brightwell. Fowler readjusted more quickly, turning and volleying the ball into the corner in one movement with Immel unsighted by Brightwell. The sixth goal was similar to the first, Immel parrying a Redknapp shot straight to Rush who scored his third goal of the season - all against us.

So, 25 minutes left, City in tatters and 6 goals down. If I was a Liverpool fan I'd be disappointed that the margin of victory wasn't 10 goals or more. City tried to get the goal the fans were begging for and indeed managed to create a few half chances. Creaney came on for Brightwell and played up front with Quinn and Rösler, which split the home defence up a bit but still didn't cause the Reds too many problems. Liverpool just sat back and tried to hit us on the break with more goal-of-the-season passing moves but the seventh goal just wouldn't come.

At this juncture I'd have expected the legendary scouse wits to be having a field day but although the home fans made more noise than on Wednesday, it was left to the City fans to do the entertaining, with chants such as: "Alan Ball is a football genius", "Edghill for England", "We want one", "We're s**t, and we're getting worse", "We want Ellis back" (probably lost on the scousers, that one) and "What's it like to be outclassed?". Maybe they felt sorry for us? Many Blues left as the 4th, 5th and 6th goals went in. Those of us remaining sang "we can see you sneaking out". Proper thing too.

When the final whistle came to put us out of our misery, Uwe came over and threw his boots into the crowd. Typically, the first one missed and hit a policeman. We spent the weekend wondering what the significance of this gesture was but the explanation turned out to be quite simple: he hasn't scored for so long it's time for a new set of boots.

Individually, there can be very few players happy with their performances. Summerbee was probably our best player. Immel isn't holding shots and it's costing us goals. He may be performing heroics but I feel it won't be long before TC is back. Curle and Symons both had poor games, Curle particularly. Some sloppy passing from him could easily have let Liverpool in for more goals. The full backs weren't too bad; Edghill was usually facing two players with no help from Lomas so it's harsh to single him out for criticism. Lomas, Brown and Brightwell ran about a lot in midfield but weren't comfortable on the ball, in stark contrast to their Liverpool counterparts. Up front, Quinn missed another good chance, sidefooting over and wide. Rösler didn't get a decent chance. At least Quinn gets in the positions to score; maybe Uwe should look at the runs Quinn is making to get into these positions?

This has to be the most negative match report I've written, which is partly due to rushing it to meet the deadline but there was precious little to get enthusiastic about (apart from the good football played by Liverpool, the best side we've played this season including Newcastle) in this match. The overriding emotion I felt this weekend was despair. I cannot see what we can do to halt the slide. There's no money, we don't seem to be able to raise any by selling off the dead wood and even if we sacked Ball, who would replace him? If we don't win both of our next two home games against Bolton and Wimbledon, I fear there's no escaping the drop.


Svenn Hanssen