Monday, April 20

A stroll in the sun for City

Manchester City 2 West Ham 0

Any team on a bad run of two wins in eight will always end it against West Ham. So no surprise about the result at the Etihad.

Luckily I’m on a train to Waterbeach while the game is live on TV, so have to rely on the MOTD highlights. A free kick just wide from Kolarov indicates the early pressure from City. City’s breakthrough is a classic own goal from James Collins. Jesus Navas (hang on, isn’t Jesus Andy Carroll?) wins a header against Cresswell and fires in a cross towards James Collins. The defender has to get something on it, but from 18 yards out slices the ball up in the air and in off the bar like a Ginger Pele, only at the wrong end. 

It’s not quite as good as Iain Dowie’s own goal at Stockport, but it’s up there with the all-time greats. It’s a freak goal of course, and typical of the luck of a team that’s been struggling since Christmas. 

West Ham then have a chance as Valencia does well to dispossess Demichelis and plays in Cole. But Hart has come off his line quickly and blocks Carlton’s effort on the edge of the box.

City then get a second from a West Ham free kick. Cresswell’s punt into the box is cleared and Downing picks up the ball on the right, trying to play a square ball to Song. Toure nips in to win the ball and City break at speed with Navas and Aguero exchanging passes for a classy second.

My main fear at half-time is that it will be a thrashing. At least we keep it down to 2-0 and it becomes almost too easy for City. Silva has to go off after a nasty clash with Kouyate's elbow, though it looks unintentional and more a result of their contrast in heights. West Ham, with Nolan on for Cole and Jarvis replacing Song, create three late chances. Nolan finds Jarvis on the left and he produces a good cut back only for Downing to take too long with his shot. Valencia then produces a great dribble from the left, beating two City defenders and flashing the ball across goal, with Nolan just failing to prod it in. Finally a suicidal backpass from Jesus Navas presents Nolan with a one-on-one, but again Hart is out quickly to block what should have been a goal. So a little hope in our late rally.

But Big Sam is worryingly deflated after the game and Jason Roberts makes some good points on Match of the Day about the uncertainly of the managerial situation causing some players to drop their performance levels by ten per cent. If so then that’s a disgrace, but as a former pro Roberts presumably knows how footballers react. The media won’t let this situation go away and surely it’s time for the chairmen to either say Sam is going or give him a new contract.

Meanwhile it’s now two wins, six draws and eight defeats in the 16 league games since Christmas. That run has included Chelsea and Arsenal home and away and difficult games against Man City, Man United, Liverpool, Southampton and Spurs. But even so, it’s extremely worrying. The next two matches are against strugglers QPR and Burnley, and if we don’t play with 100 per cent commitment we’ll lose.

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