Writer: Andy Leggott
Date:Sunday March 19 2006
City of Manchester Stadium
I was fortunate, for the first time in many a year I couldn't get to this one because of work commitments. Perhaps I didn't try hard enough to get time off because I knew that this would be a weakened City side, given that the FA Cup quarter final has become a victim of poor scheduling. Anyhow Stuart Pearce made eight changes from the team that had beaten Villa on Tuesday night, a gesture that was perhaps handed to the right club given that they couldn’t be bothered in the recent FA Cup tie between the sides.
It is something that may have to be looked at by football’s administrators (fat chance) because teams are gaining points and cup progression that may in different circumstances not have been justified. It is not my place to comment on what team West Ham put out yesterday, but whatever it was surely the fact they have to travel to Manchester for a cup tie on Monday night had some bearing on Portsmouth claiming the three points that may keep them up.
Back to the City game and my spies tell me it was little short of woeful. Given that a few fringe players had an opportunity to stake a claim for Monday night more could and should have been produced. Wigan deserved the victory that McCulloch’s second half header handed them, but it was a comedy of errors between James and Mills that led to the corner from which the goal came.
Bradley Wright-Phillips had the long awaited start that many have been calling for but unfortunately failed to deliver. I like BWP but I really do not think he is a Premiership player. True stars generally announce their arrival in the style of a young Owen or Fowler, Bradley has yet to do that. Perhaps a stint on loan playing regular football may help but he isn’t, in my opinion, of sufficient quality to play up front in this side. I hope he proves me wrong.
All in all this was a poor result that probably closes the door on European qualification through the league. The importance of Monday night has become greater and in some ways this result has made it so. City have to deliver now or we face a season of mid table mediocrity.
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Date:Sunday March 19 2006
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