Wednesday, September 30

Welcome to Manchester

Manchester City 3 West Ham 1

It’s a trip to my mate Robert’s house to watch the game on ESPN and enjoy the delights of Ray Stubbs and Kevin Keegan on Setanta-lite. Robert’s son Bruno warms us up with 40 minutes of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. All those hapless Jedis being cut down by vulture droids is good preparation for watching WHU.

The Force is not with us, as Upson’s out again and we have the very inexperienced partnership of debutant Jedi knight Da Costa and James Tomkins in central defence. If only we still had Collins. Jiminez is back though and Diamanti starts too, with Kovac replacing the injured Collison.

It takes five minutes for Petrov to cross from the left and the bizarrely unmarked Tevez to sweep the ball home. Carlitos then shows his class by apologizing to the West Ham fans, raising his hand and then making a praying gesture. He later says "part of me will always be a Hammer". And one day we'll sign him back, probably when he's 40. Adebayor take note.

Time to break open the Whitstable Bay Organic Ale as it promises to be a long night. Tevez almost scores two more and we’re looking second best, but then in our first real attack we equalise. Kovac’s shot is probably drifting wide but Cole cleverly backheels it home.

Our lead only lasts eight minutes before Jiminez slightly shoves a City player and Petrov fires the free kick through the wall and into the net. Green should probably have done better, despite otherwise playing well.

It should be 2-2 when Carlton quite legitimately tussles with aristocratic cad Sir Joleon Lescott (see Observer Sport Monthly's very funny guide to footballers who should have been in 19th century novels) to win the ball and cross for Parker to sidefoot home. But unfortunately the man in black is Darth Vader and he blows for a foul.

We improve after the break, while Green makes a good save from Barry. But there’s no excuse for City’s third. From Bellamy’s (remember him?) free-kick, three City players are unmarked on the right and Tevez heads home. Sticking with your man appears to be very last year.

We show more spirit towards the end. Diamanti (an individualist or our great hope?) has a shot deflected wide for a corner and then has an excellent curling shot tipped over by Given.

But it could have been more for City and even Zola describes himself as “angry” at our under-performing. We have some good players, but so did the Roeder side that went down. We’re in the bottom three and now have to beat Fulham to start our season. I’d ditch Kovac, pray that Upson returns, make Diamanti play further up the field and unleash the pace of Hines at the Fulham defence. And maybe Luke Skywalker and Hans Solo too. Although knowing us we'll probably sign Annakin Skywalker.

Zamora will score of course, and probably Konchesky and Paintsil too, but we have to get a result if the WHU Empire is to strike back. We need A New Hope.

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