Tuesday, August 26

Manchester so much to answer for

Manchester City 3 West Ham 0

That’s me in the corner, losing my religion. On Sunday afternoon I’m the only WHU fan in the village of Roydon in Norfolk. My dad died last year and we’re still clearing furniture ready for his house sale. So it’s a pint of Saltaire bitter, a packet of crisps and a solitary post in front of the TV surrounded by Norwich fans.

The game elicits little response from the locals and I’m apparently the only person gripped by the live and exclusive Sky coverage. As ever the Guardian lists a huge casualty roll-call: "Ferdinand hamstring, Collins knee, Gabbidon groin, Spector hip, McCartney pneumonia, Dyer broken leg, Bellamy hamstring."

It doesn’t start well. Manchester City might have all sorts of problems with new Thai owner Thaksin Shinawatra, but on the pitch they are much the livelier side.

Petrov looks like Yosain Bolt as he easily beats Behrami for pace. In fact our new full back looks less like the Swiss David Beckham and more like the Swiss Scott Minto.

Davenport deflects a shot onto the bar, before going down injured, and then Carlton Cole collapses injured and is replaced by Sears. I send Matt a text: “At least we’re winning on injuries.” We have yet to muster a shot.

Parker and Noble are being outfought by the classy (bad?) Kompany. Noble is booked for a silly handball after falling down in the centre circle and then three minutes later makes a late, undisciplined lunge at Johnson. It’s a justified red card. Oh dear. Poor Freddie is pulled off by Curbs and replaced by Mullins. Petrov hits the bar with a free kick and Green makes a fine save from Johnson. Somehow we survive to half-time.

My only hope is that this being football, we’ll have one shot all game and somehow win. But early in the second half Behrami allows Petrov several miles of space and his cross is half cleared by Upson to Sturridge who drives the ball into the roof of the net. That’s it, we’ve lost. Neill looks hopelessly out of position on the left and is outpaced by Ireland, who crosses for Elano to score. Then he repeats the scenario for Elano to score again. There’s going to be ten minutes injury time and it could be eight.

“This is a new form of torture. A shot on target would be nice, “ I text. Matt replies: “ Feel my human rights violated, how bad are we?”. Very bad indeed. Etherington and Faubert have been anonymous, Neill and Behrami are alarmingly suspect, Deano’s not had a chance and only Davenport, Upson and Green have looked competent. And the Irons fans are doing the conga, always a sign we’re playing rubbish.

In the pub there’s a busy Norfolk burr of rural types talking about 2.2 rifles, slug guns and golf balls. I’d be tempted to fire all of them at our lads’ posteriors after this.

Curbs does his Eyeore impersonation in the post-match interview, as he admits it was nowhere good enough and that an offer from Sunderland for Anton Ferdinand has been accepted. “We’re a bit thin on the ground,” he admits, which at least makes a change from Harry’s “down to the bare bones”.

We’ve played like a relegation side today. We need Doctor Who rather than Dr Thaksin. Our better players are being sold and those we’ve bought are ageing and injury prone. And we’ve got the mighty Macclesfield coming up…

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