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Born Of Frustration

It's not often you'll find me agreeing with every Blue's favourite pikey, Royston Vasey Keane. But watching the highlights of his Sunderland side's denial of a blatant goal against Villa a few days ago, I was not alone in also questioning referee Steve Bennett's eyesight.

Well, if Bennett was bad at The Stadium of Light, he was absolutely brutal at Eastlands last night. This was a pulsating, absorbing football match but the referee's total inconsistency was glaring and risked descending the game into a farce.

Following Stephen Hunt of Reading's recent scything attack on Gelson Fernandes warranting only a yellow, and then Stephen Ireland's similarly stupid 'tackle' at Spurs copping for a red, we ran a poll recently on the site. We queried whether or not TV monitor assisted Cricket and Rugby style fourth officials should be introduced to Premier League football in order to ensure consistency. 70% of our site's visitors agreed. We'd be looking at closer to 100% following Bennett's performance last night...

In short, Zokora's sending off was closer to warranting a yellow in the heat of a cup tie, but Bennett saw red. In my view, Spurs fans had a case there, but inexplicably, after setting that precedent, Bennett did not dismiss Malbranque, who eventually sealed City's fate, for an appalling lunge. So Spurs would have been heading for playing with 10 men at any rate. Bennett followed that up with the refusal to grant us a stonewall penalty as White Hart Lane's handball specialist Chimbonda hauled down Richard Dunne. Stunning.

But. Increasingly shambolic top flight refereeing aside, the City side were never at the races last night and got what they deserved. Nothing.
You got the impression early doors against Bolton and again last night, that the team seemed to be initially going through the motions. I suggest it is because a mentality had crept in behind the 100% home record and all it's publicity, that they thought all they had to do was turn up and it would be a case of job done.

Well, a resurgent Spurs side, refocusing under Juande Ramos's astute leadership exposed this young City side's naiivety decisively. Berbatov was absolutely brilliant and Spurs will do well to repel Europe's football giant's inevitable approaches for the quicksilver striker.

Though downbeat this morning, there remains massive room for optimism at Manchester City. None of us are under any illusions. We never seriously expected silverware this season but you cannot deny that a golden opportunity has gone begging. It is still early days in The Sven Revolution. We have a young, exciting side who are still bonding together. They will certainly get better and reinforcements are already arriving.

City's failure to breakdown a 10 man team at home has proved costly to our season's amazing momentum and Svennis will certainly know it. The arrival of Mexico's brilliant Nery 'El Diablo' Castillo is a statement of intent that he has seen enough from our existing pool of strikers. Don't forget, we also have Valeri Bojinov champing at the bit for the second half of the season.

The likes of Hart, Richards and Johnson alongside our young international stars will have found defeat last night a chastening experience and they will learn from it. This City squad remains one of superb potential if they can get that little bit more streetwise.

It's now all about how the side reacts to this disappointment as they did so well following our drubbing at Chelsea. Going to Villa gives us a real opportunity to bounce back and at the same time lose that away day failures tag. At least the statisticians will certainly back off now that our home record has gone!

So good luck to Spurs, but I can promise you this City side will be fighting you and other improving teams hard for those European places as the season progresses.

Keep the faith, Blues!

The journalist

Writer: Johnny Baguette Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday December 19 2007

Time: 10:02AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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Very well said JB. Despite the Ref it is a real wake up call and can only serve to improve the performance of the youngsters. Amazing that Etuhu wasn't even on the bench that will have dented his confidence somewhat.
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19/12/2007 10:11:00

You could well be right there, alph. maybe Sven went for greater experience last night. I'm increasingly unsure whether our new lads have really been on the ball for what is required in an English cup tie. Talk about a learning curve! Long way to go though as some of Spurs' bellend element reminded us in the article below..
Johnny Baguette
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19/12/2007 10:20:00

City will be fine, they'll finish 5-6th and get in europe, spend more in the summer and have another good year next year. I can see Everton, City and Spurs pulling away from the rest next season (Pompey, Blackburn, Newcastle etc) and putting pressure on any of the top 4 who have a bad year. Johnson looks a terrific player, good luck for the rest of the season.
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19/12/2007 11:32:00

I do not know what the secret for replaced Hamann ! This change make the defense open & Forcing Elano to retreat back, Also replaced Vassell, Isaksson not play & The Important something is Richards must change his place to Right back .
city 81
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19/12/2007 12:25:00

If Spurs wish to appeall the Zokora decision will they also appeal that Malbranque wasn't punished enough for his assault? Thought not.
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19/12/2007 16:44:00

Totally agree with City81 on the Richards situation. He is absolutely wasted at centre half and we would have benefitted from surging runs down the right and getting round the back of their defence. The truth is having gone to the game is that Garrido has to be replaced in January. It was fortunate for him that Spurs went to 10 men as that meant the whole team had to defend for long periods when Lennon was murdering him. I felt we looked tired and didn't move for the man on the ball e.g. we hardly tried a one-two and when we did Elano missed a great opportunity. I'm surprised there isn't more votes for Petrov in today's poll. He worked very hard but was never given the ball. In the second half he played more inside so he could get the ball. Again, I agree with City81 about the change for Hamann. We completely lost shape and Elano went too deep. We seem to play better on the break but with 10 men behind the ball we had no ideas. I'd like to add that I watched the best performance by a forward for many years with Berbetov. His close control and ability to hold off defenders especially our big lads was very impressive. On that performance, I would expect Utd to make an official approach but I prey Utd's embarressing swap deals are laughed at by Spurs.
Barney Daniels
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19/12/2007 18:38:00

When Svennis replaced Hamann, we were chasing the game. The right decision in my mind. He had to attack, he did not have Etuhu to open that right wing, Petrov wandered to the right all in the chase for a goal. It did leave us open at the back, but there were no prizes for just getting beaten by the one goal. Some times they work this time it didn't. If Robinson had show his England form we would have won it. I just don't think Vassell is the right partner for Bianchi. The only thing we didn't do on Tuesday was pass well. We created a ship load of chances, but if you don't take them then you don't win. Roll on the January sales. merry Christmas everybody
Buzz Lightyear
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20/12/2007 13:33:00

I am pleased to see that Sven has given the nod to Joe Hart a move that should stabalize a shaky defence. With Johnson out for the weekend a chance to see if Geovanni & Elano can cause some havoc to the Villa defence.
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20/12/2007 15:23:00

My Dad talks to sevn goran ericsson and im not allowed to identify who it is but he says your gettin some1 big from barcelona !
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20/12/2007 16:51:00

SGE cannot persist with Garrido at left back, the guy doesn't track back and routinely fails to pick up his man and is costing us goals- its also starting to pull Richards out wide to cover. Cannot believe Ball didn't get the shout again - SGE obviously didnt fancy him against Bolton, so why against Lennon? The guy was dynamite against Bolton as the game got stretched and tore them apart - but I see no regular start in midfield - unless he displaces Petrov?
Craig Cain
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20/12/2007 19:30:00

Agree Craig, Ball had a decent game against Bolton and Garrido did well as left midfield. He could be sub, then Svennis would have a choice of left wing or defense. The only thing is noone fills in behind when he does those runs from LB. I wish we still had Distin or another left footed CB. Writing to Santa as we speak
Buzz Lightyear
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20/12/2007 19:34:00

you just cant beat us lads can you !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.....if spurs had 5 men red carded we still would of won!....we have in the past....we are in the present, and we will in the future.
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20/12/2007 20:31:00

Buzz: Nedum and Ball for me.
Craig Cain
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20/12/2007 23:03:00

dont know why he sent zokora off then didnt send malbranque off
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21/12/2007 00:01:00

Spurs were lucky.... No-one apart from yids wanted them to win!
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21/12/2007 03:25:00

CC I think Nedum is injured, but I agree with Ball, he was the more experienced and would have put Lennon in the 3rd row back. I think sending off Zorkora did us no favours, a yellow card effort, malbranques' challenge was far worse. I will be pleased with a top 10 finish, it is far better than fighting relegation.
Buzz Lightyear
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21/12/2007 14:59:00

For sure-agree on Malbranque and Zakora btw.
Craig Cain
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21/12/2007 15:52:00


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