Monday, December 3, 2007

Reaction, stats & ratings: Wigan 1 City 1

I've been a bit surprised at some of negativity about this result on the talkboards and at the MEN site, but I'm guessing the more critical comments come from our younger fans.

I have to admit I missed this one completely (I'm currently on the West Coast of America and was sound asleep during the match) but MEN poster OB1, who always gives a fair summary, offered this assessment:

Solid performance but never looked like scoring after the first 30 seconds. One piece of woeful marking cost us two points.
City had plenty of possession but passing was not incisive enough in the final third. Petrov and Ireland failed to provide Samaras with any ammunition. I'd still like to see City press the ball more when their opponents have it in their own half but that probably doesn't suit a midfield with Hamann in, who they will miss next time out due to suspension.

With the disappointment of dropping out of the top 4 now's probably a good time to look at exactly how far we've come since the takeover. Not only are City 17 points up on the corresponding fixtures from last season (details at Wookie's Lair) but all of this has been achieved in what is unquestionably a tougher league than last year. A look at last season's league table after 15 games reveals that 30pts would have put us comfortably into 3rd place, six points off next-placed Portsmouth and eight points ahead of Liverpool and Arsenal.

And now come a critical few weeks. Not only are there a string of tricky fixtures coming up - Spurs (A - Sun 9th), Bolton (H - Sat 15), Villa (A - Sat 22th), Blackburn (H - Thur 27th) and Liverpool (H - Sun 30th) - but the Thai general election on Dec 23rd and the opening of the transfer window on Jan 1 look likely to decide the course of this season and beyond.

Over the next couple of weeks I'm going to be publishing a series of articles on City's finances, the political situation in Thailand and Thaksin's political and business networks. My research has thrown up all sorts of surprising things about our new owner, but what has struck me the most is the way that Thaksin has been underestimated throughout his public life. Many opponents have scoffed at his bold claims in the past - and have ended up eating their words.

No doubt there are many who dismiss his recent declarations about making City a global power and that's understandable, particularly after a few poor performances. But there's one thing I'm now sure about: Thaksin is deadly serious about his grand plans for City.

It's just going to take time, a lot of money - and a little bit of faith.

~ There was an interesting post by BTH on Bluemoon about the origin of Wigan's 'pie-eaters' nickname. According to this BBC story, it stems from Wigan's miners being forced to eat 'humble pie' after they were starved back to work during the 1926 General Strike.

~ Highlights video; Video of City fans at the game
~ Sven's post-match interview
~ Getty Images photos
~ Latest Premiership table.

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 (and trawl down to the bottom of the page), while you can also find match details at the BBC, Setanta and Sky.

Match reports

Steve Bruce helps Wigan Athletic stop the rot (James Mossop)
It was a poor, scrappy match with Wigan responding to their new boss's mid-week, morale-boosting talks.
He has even involved the fans, writing his message large in the programme, saying: "To the supporters, I make this promise: We will fight, scrap and give everything we have for you and in return I ask you to be our 12th man."
Those supporters lost to the 5,000 choristers of Manchester in the area of crowd support and it sometimes seemed that there was more entertainment behind the goal than in front of it.

Wigan 1 City 1
High-flying Manchester City were held to a draw by Steve Bruce's Wigan on a frustrating afternoon at the JJB Stadium.

Scharner spearheads spirited fightback to give Bruce hope (Guy Hodgson)
Wigan might have won the match but much of their better work stems from the athleticism and labour of Heskey, and when he limped off after 53 minutes their thrust was limited.

Wigan go back to basics to hold Sven's men (James Ducker)
Watching defenders lump hopeful passes to two big strikers may be as far removed from Arsène Wenger’s philosophy at Arsenal as is imaginable, but while it may not have been pretty on the eye, those tactics yielded Bruce an invaluable point in his first match in charge on Saturday and averted the ignominy of a record ninth successive league defeat.
That the upturn in Wigan’s fortunes should coincide with Emile Heskey’s return after 2½ months out with a broken foot was no surprise. Not only did the burly England forward’s presence have a rousing effect on his teammates – not least Marcus Bent, who looked far more comfortable up front – but it gave a subdued Manchester City team more food for thought than any of Wigan’s opponents have had during Heskey’s absence.

Seeds of City revival need extra help to flower in Europe (Steve Bierley)
Geovanni's goal lit the blue touchpaper but it was Wigan who ran and ran. This was only to be expected. Steve Bruce is a motivator and cajoler rather than a tactical genius and his new side reacted to his arrival with unstinting effort of the sort that many of City's foreign legions appeared to have forgotten still exist in England. Not quite an old-fashioned local derby, but something very similar and, without Elano, City's midfield wedge never gelled, forcing Martin Petrov into unproductive wanderings, and largely isolating Stephen Ireland.

Bruce is buoyed by Wigan's fightback (Duncan Mackay)
As the crowd filed out at the end of Steve Bruce's first match back in charge of their side, there was definitely an air of disappointment that they had failed to take the opportunity to record their first victory for four months. Even Sven Goran Eriksson conceded his side had been 'lucky', so much possession did Wigan have, although they rarely turned that into chances. Still, it was an encouraging start.

Wigan find fighting spirit (Paul Rowan)
Manchester City’s lofty position in the Premier League belies their indifferent away form and it was clear that Sven-Göran Eriksson’s decision, in the absence of the injured Elano and Emile Mpenza, to play the erratic Georgios Samaras up front, with Geovanni in a supporting role, wasn’t working. Samaras never managed to hold the ball up or create a threat and both himself and Geovanni were substituted in a nine-minute period midway through the second half.

Wigan 1 City 1 (Ken Lawrence)
(Steve Bruce's) new side were denied two penalties when first Micah Richards then substitute Kelvin Etuhu both appeared to handle in the box.
But possibly most galling of all, City were there for the taking - and Wigan could not take them.

Wigan 1 City 1 (Steve Bates)
City have climbed into nose-bleed territory in remarkable fashion under Sven Goran Eriksson this season - but you were left wondering how after this low quality display.
Without the guile, goal threat and drive of missing duo Elano and Michael Johnson, City are not the same proposition - and Wigan took advantage to bounce back from their horror start.

Player ratings

Ratings come from (in order): MEN, Man City Mad, Sunday Mirror, The People, Sunday Times, The Times, Setanta, Sky and Sky Your Rating and the BBC.

Isaksson: 6, 6, 6, 5, 6, 5, 6, 6, 5.9, 5.7 (av: 5.8)

Corluka: 6, 6, 6, 5, 6, 6, 5, 6, 5.5, 6.3 (av: 5.8)

Dunne: 7, 7, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6.5, 7, 6.6, 6.4 (av: 6.5)

Richards: 6, 7, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 7, 5.8, 6.4 (av: 6.2)

Garrido (Ball 36): 6, 5, 5, 6, 5, 5, 6, 6, 4.8, 5.4 (av: 5.4)

Ireland: 7, 7, 4, 6, 7, 6, 6, 5, 5.6, 6.3 (av: 6.0)

Hamann: 7, 7, 6, 6, 7, 6, 6, 6, 6.7, 6.0 (av: 6.4)

Fernandes: 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 5.5, 5, 5.7. 5.9 (av: 5.8)

Geovanni (Etuhu 69): 6, 6, 7, 7, 6, 7, 8, 7, 5.7, 7.1 (av: 6.7)

Petrov: 6, 6, 3, 6, 6, 4, 6, 6, 5.3, 6.3 (av: 5.5)

Samaras (Bianchi 78): 6, 7, 4, 4, 6, 3, 6.5, 6, 5.5, 5.2 (av: 5.3)


Ball (Garrido 36): 6, 6, 5, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 5.4, 5.5 (av: 5.8)

Etuhu (Geovanni 69): 6, 6, 5, 6, - , 6, 6, 6, 5.4, 5.5 (av: 5.8)

Bianchi (Samaras 78): 6, - , 5, - , - , - , 5, 6, 5.0, 5.5 (av: 5.4)

Subs not used:
Hart, Jihai

Every dog has its day

I've 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

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