Monday, November 26, 2007

Reaction, stats & ratings: City 2 Reading 1

It's time to build a drawbridge and add the turrets - because Eastlands is now a bloody fortress.

This is the first time in our history that we've won our first eight home games, beating the record set in 1957 / 58 of seven wins and a draw. And a look through MCFCstats.co.uk reveals that this is our fourth highest points total ever for this stage of the season. Below are City's best starts to a season (points totals adjusted to 3pts for a win):



Clearly our refusal to drop out of the top four is causing irritation in some parts of the media, and more exasperated than most is The Independent on Sunday's Guy Hodgson, who claims that City are "destined for a pratfall". Careful with that word 'prat', mate.

True, Saturday's performance had many shortcomings but given the circumstances - no regular No.1, no prolific goalscorer, Johnson absent and Elano jet-lagged after his Wednesday night game in Peru - the result was always going to be more important than the spectacle.

Although the bookmakers are offering odds of 12/1 on City finishing in the top four this season, I'm taking my cue from Sven on this one: "Why not dream and be happy?” he said after the match. And let's face it, what odds would the bookies have given for us being a point behind United after 14 games?

Realistically, a top four place will only be up for grabs if someone else tosses it away. So right now I'm dreaming about someone else's misfortune. Although Chelsea appear to have got over their recent troubles, the fresh reports of unrest at Liverpool, sparked by the new owners' debt problems and soaring stadium costs has definite possibilities.

Nothing personal, I've always like Liverpool. But I just feel it's someone else's turn for a pratfall now.

~ A bit disappointing to hear reports of the odd City fan booing Corluka before the game, but hopefully the Croatia game will all be forgotten about soon. But one man who won't forget the match in a hurry is opera singer Tony Henry, who sung the Croat national anthem before the game. According to the BBC, Henry mispronounced one of the lines and ended up singing "my penis is a mountain".

~ Video highlights
~ Sven's post-match interview
~ Pictures from rtfract.com; Getty Images photos
~ Latest Premiership table.

Coming up on Purelymancity

Apologies for the lack of activity on the site recently, but the combination of flying out to the US and having to concentrate on other projects left me horribly short of time.

But normal service is now resumed and I've plenty of features lined up for the next few months. This week I'm going to looking at City's attendances and in particular the effect that the day and time has on turnout, while later in the week I'll be taking a closer look at City's spending since the takeover.

I've also added another item to the online store on the suggestion of my brother (who's also a big Blue) which is pictured below. Personally, I didn't realise that dogs wore T-shirts but as my brother currently owns four dogs I'll bow to his judgement on this one.



There are now 31 items for sale at the store. Delivery takes 8 to 10 business days.

Click here to visit the Purelymancity store


Match stats

The stats (below) are compiled from a live commentary. For more detailed stats, including a breakdown of each player’s passes and tackles click here, while you can also find match details at the BBC and Sky.





Match reports



Stephen Ireland’s late strike preserves City’s home record (Brian Glanville)
But for all their territorial supremacy, Manchester City, after their bright start and their early goal, were not making any more chances of consequence. This, as often happens, puts teams in a dangerous situation in football, and so, most unsurprisingly, it would prove here.
Overall, it had been a game of sparse excitement and little in the way of scoring chances. Perhaps City are missing the exuberance of another of their young home-grown players, Michael Johnson, who is injured.


Man City's Stephen Ireland covered in glory (Derick Allsop)
The late, late twist to the tale was harsh on Reading, who had recovered from the potentially devastating early setback of Martin Petrov's goal to draw level just before the break and stifle City's efforts virtually to the last.
But City had proved extraordinarily persistent as well as far more creative this season and that trait enabled them to maintain a 100 per cent home record, even after Geovanni squandered an excellent opportunity in the first minute of added time.


City 2 Reading 1
City maintained their 100 per cent home Premier League record in dramatic style thanks to Stephen Ireland's last-minute volley at Eastlands.


Man City 2 Reading 1 (Ken Lawrence)
"Geovanni had missed and I thought that was it, but now I'm beginning to feel like 'Lucky Sven' again after what we achieved," Eriksson said.
"Ireland has so much talent and he will get better. We tried him at outside-right today then brought him in as a second striker, and it worked.
"His best position may even be there - but we'll find out because he's going to be here for a long time.


Lucky Sven grateful to Ireland for his City saver (Philip Dorward)
Once more, City made heavy weather of a game because they had no one up front to put the ball in the net and had to rely on the midfielders to earn the victory. Certainly, if Eriksson can bring in some top-class forwards then City could have a say in the destination of the title this season.


Eriksson ideal manager for Ireland (Jon Culley)
Stephen Ireland's goal, deep into stoppage time, snatched a point from Reading and prompted the suggestion that the manager must feel like "lucky Sven" again. That was the label Eriksson acquired pre-England, as if titles won in three European countries could somehow be put down to good fortune. The remark prompted a chuckle from the Swede, an acknowledgement, even, that such an assessment was reasonable on this occasion, given that a draw had seemed certain.
But for an inclination towards modesty, Eriksson might have allowed himself a degree of self-congratulation. Not because it was down to him that Ireland had managed to pull off such a sweet and telling volley so late in the game, but maybe because, without his guidance, his exuberant 21-year-old match-winner might have been removed from playing Premier League football at all.


Ireland answers his critics (Nick Szczepanik)
Ireland’s winner maintained City’s 100 per cent home record and moved them to within a point of Manchester United. City supporters believe they can finish above their rivals and unlike many managers, Eriksson refused to dampen their enthusiasm. “It’s better to have high expectations than low ones,” he said. “It’s important that we - the players, the coaches – keep our feet on the ground. But the fans - why not dream and be happy?”


Ireland knocks the pants off junior Royals (Steve Bierley)
There is, of course, no poverty at this level, simply different strata of wealth. After the riches that Thaksin Shinawatra has poured into the club the City fans remain in a state of suspended euphoria and, as such, their critical faculties have been dulled. In general terms this was a pretty rotten performance by the Blues, yet those supporters who had ripped into Stuart Pearce towards the end of his sorry term sat patiently with beatific smiles as passes went sideways and backwards. Third in the table and United losing at Bolton: life could scarcely be better.
It is all very odd for a club where dissatisfaction had become a way of life. Coppell, referring to his team's performance once James Harper had equalised Martin Petrov's early goal, talked about a "mentality to protect what you've got". As yet, because they are so flabbergasted, City fans appear virtually bereft of expectation, though this will change as the truth sinks in that they really can compete with Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal. For the moment there remains a deeply rooted worry that it could all go horribly wrong.

Player ratings

Ratings come from (in order): Fidel Castro, Blue2, King Kev, roadkill2487, trevorcitytilidie, Grob, bluemoon, Piccsnumberoneblue, bobadji (Mancityfans), chrisgoatian, Danish Blue, Richard (Bluemoon), bobdylan, Nicolae (BlueVibe), MEN, Man City Mad, Richard Tucker (rtfract), Sunday Times, Sky, Sky Your Rating and the BBC.

Isaksson: 6, 7, 5, 6.5, 5, 2, 6, 7, 6, 6, 7, 6, 7, 7, 6, 6, 6.5, 6, 6, 6, 7.0, 6.1 (av: 6.1)

Corluka (Jihai 43): 6, 7, 7, 6, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6, 6, 6.5, 7, 6, 6, 6.6, 6.5 (av: 6.7)

Dunne: 8, 8, 8.5, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 9, 7, 6, 8, 8, 8, 7, 7, 8, 7, 8, 8, 7.6, 6.7 (av: 7.7)

Richards: 8, 7, 7, 7, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6, 6, 6, 7, 7, 6, 5, 7, 6.8, 6.8 (av: 6.8)

Garrido: 9, 7, 7, 7, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 5, 7, 7, 6, 6.5, 6, 6, 6, 6.7, 6.2 (av: 6.8)

Fernandes: 6, 7, 7, 6.5, 7, 6.5, 7, 7, 8, 6, 8, 8, 6, 7, 6, 6, 6.5, 6, 6, 6, 6.6, 6.5 (av: 6.7)

Hamann: 9, 8, 8, 8, 9, 8, 8, 8, 8.5, 8, 8, 7, 7, 7, 6, 7, 7.5, 6, 5, 6, 7.4, 6.6 (av: 7.4)

Ireland: 7, 7, 7, 7, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 8, 7, 7, 8, 7.5, 7, 8, 8, 7, 7, 8, 7.4, 6.9 (av: 7.3)

Petrov: 8, 7, 8, 7, 8, 7.5, 8, 6, 7, 7, 5, 7, 6, 6, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6, 6, 7.5, 7.8 (av: 6.9)

Elano (Geovanni 58): 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 3, 5, 5, 5, 6, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 6, 5, 6, 6.1, 6.8 (av: 5.5)

Mpenza (Samaras 45): 5, 5, 7, 6, 5, 6, 5, 5, 6, 5, 6, 6, 7, 6, 5, 5, 5, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6.2 (av: 5.7)


Subs:

Jihai (Corluka 43): 7, 6, 7, - , 7, 7, 7, 6, 7, 6, 6, - , 7, 7, 6, 6, 6, - , 5, 6, 6.5, 6.1 (av: 6.4)

Samaras(Mpenza 45): 7, 7, 7, -, 8, 7, 7, 6, 7, 6, 7, - , 8, 7, 6, 5, 6.5, 6, 5, 6, 6.7, 6.0 (av: 6.6)

Geovanni (Elano 58): 5, 5, 5, - , 6, 6, 6, 5, 5, 6, 8, - , 6.5, 6, 6, 6, 7, 6, 7, 7, 6.7, 6.4 (av: 6.1)

Subs not used:
Hart, Ball.

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