Sunday, April 20, 2008

Reaction, stats & ratings: City 3 Portsmouth 1

Not sure what to make of this performance, as Portsmouth were clearly playing with the Cup final in mind, but it at least shows that we can play some very entertaining football given the chance.

In fact, this was probably the entertaining game since the season's opener at West Ham, which makes me wonder whether those early performances resulted in some unfair expectations on our part. Certainly, watching Elano do a decent job at right-back (after reportedly volunteering for the role shortly before the game), suggests that we may have overlooked some of the qualities he can bring to the team.

Earlier in the season his former team-mate Rafael gave this assessment of Elano's abilities:

"He can play at right back, can mark or create in midfield and can operate as a striker. It could be that he’s suffered in his career as a result of his versatility, that at times he’s been moved around without having a fixed place in the side," Rafael said, while also revealing that Elano's nickname was ET.

It's probably a bit unfair to call him a Brazilian John O'Shea, as he's a much better player than that, but he does appear to be from a similar mould. Elano recently told mcfc.co.uk that a muscle injury had been affecting his form, and combined with the special attention he's been singled out for (predicted in this profile back in October), it's still possible he'll turn out to be a terrific buy after all. My guess is that we'll only see Elano's true worth when the team is strengthened and really begins to gel.

Which brings us to the comments made on Saturday by Taweesuk Jack Srisumrid, the Harvard-educated businessman who became a City director in August. In an interview with Reuters, Taweesuk provided the most detailed insight yet into Thaksin's plans.

Claiming that 'the finance for an initial investment period' is already in place, Taweesuk revealed that the objective was to make City the 'Asian Premier League club'.

"What we will look to do in the summer is to further boost the squad, bring in top quality, internationally-recognised players. Superstars would help fill the stadium and help our global branding. Primarily, we must win on the pitch - it can't be a gimmick," he said

"We've had discussions (with Ronaldinho) but we'll see how that pans out. We've looked at a host of players".

Curiously, Taweesuk also revealed that Thaksin was 'aiming for a top eight finish this year', which is two places higher than the target our owner set last month.

It's impossible to say whether the recent speculation about Sven's future has any real foundation, or whether it is little more than a motivational technique by an impatient Thaksin, but hopefully these back-to-back wins will be enough to kill the speculation for now.

~ Match highlights
~ Interactive stats; BBC stats, Sky stats,
~ Photos from rtfract; Sven's post-match interview
~ Getty Images
~ Latest Premiership table


Coming up on Purely Man City

I'm going to be launching a History section on the main site this week, which will be expanded over the summer.

With today's Guardian claiming we've agreed to buy Brazilian forward Jô for £20m, I'll be publishing the complete table of City's record transfer signings this week.

I'll also be running a feature on the ownership of Premiership clubs, with a table of shareholders for each club, and a breakdown of their nationalities.

~ Jô YouTube clip, Jô at Corinthians
~ Jô's Wikipedia page

Player ratings

Ratings come from (in order): MEN; xavi6, bobadji, LookMumI'mOnMCF.net, Geo123, Niall Quinns Discopants, Grob, teenage time killer, irblinx, SirElano, Svensational (Mancityfans), blue_job (Blue Vibe), Richard Tucker (rtfract), The Times, Sky, Sky Your Rating and the BBC.

Hart: 7.3 average
(6, 8, 7, 8, 7, 7, 8, 7, 8, 8, 8, 7, 6.5, 7, 7, 7.1, 7.1)

Elano (Caicedo 90): 7.0
(6, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 8, 7, 9, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6, 6.7, 6.8)

Corluka: 7.2
(7, 7, 8, 7, 8, 8, 7, 7, 7, 8, 8, 7, 7, 6, 7, 7.2, 6.6)

Dunne (Williamson 54): 6.9
(6, 7, 7, 7, 7, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6, 7, 6.8, 6.3)

Ball: 6.9
(7, 8, 7, 8, 7, 7, 7, 6, 7, 7, 8, 7, 7, 6, 6, 6.6, 6.3)

Vassell: 7.9
(6, 9, 9, 8, 9, 9, 8, 8, 8, 8, 9, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7.5, 7.3)

Ireland (Geovanni 75): 7.7
(7, 9, 8, 8, 8.5, 9, 8, 7, 8, 9, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6.8, 6.7)

Gelson: 7.1
(7, 8, 8, 8, 7, 6, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 8, 7, 7, 7, 6.7, 6.4)

Johnson: 6.3
(6, 6, 7, 7, 6, 5, 7, 6, 7, 5, 6, 7, 6.5, 6, 7, 6.6, 6.4)

Petrov: 8.0 (MOTM)
(8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 9, 8, 7, 8, 8, 8, 8, 7.5, 8, 8, 8.5, 8.0)

Benjani: 7.9
(8, 8, 9, 8, 8, 8, 8, 6, 7, 9, 8, 8, 8, 7, 9, 8.2, 7.8)

Subs:

Williamson (Dunne 54): 7.0
(6, 8, 7, 7, - , 8, 7, 6, 8, 7, 8, - , 6.5, 6, 6, 7.0, 6.8)

Geovanni (Ireland 75): 6.3
(6, 6, - , -, - , 6, 7, 6, 7, - , - , - , 6.5, - 6, 6.2, 6.1

Caicedo(Elano 90)

Subs not used:
Isaksson, Castillo.

Portsmouth: James, Lauren, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson (sent off 41), Utaka (Baros 75), Muntari, Diarra, Diop (Aubey 75), Kranjcar (Davis 83), Defoe. Subs not used: Begovic, Nugent.


Match reports


Man City 3 Portsmouth 1


Eriksson sees vindication in a convincing victory (John Culley)
Although they were given a generous start in the form of two gift goals in the opening 14 minutes – plus the added bonus of playing against 10 men for more than half the game – City produced football reminiscent of their vibrant early-season form.
Moreover it lifted their points tally for Eriksson's first season to 55, the club's highest yet for a 38-match Premier League season. City could have won by a greater margin, creating numerous chances even before Benjani wrapped things up with their third goal 16 minutes from time.


Manchester City win relieves pressure on Sven (Phil Shaw)
Judging by the warm ovation they gave Eriksson, City's fans don't think it is a record that merits the sack. Asked whether he was confident the current situation could be resolved, the Swede replied: "Do you mean will I still have a job? I'm not worried at all. You can't go around in life worrying about things like that. I think I will be sitting here next season as well."


Players and fans present strong case for Sven-Goran Eriksson
If this is the kind of response Thaksin Shinawatra gets when he raises questions about the manager’s future, perhaps the Manchester City owner should cast doubt over Sven-Göran Eriksson’s job prospects every week.
Thaksin was not present at the City of Manchester Stadium yesterday, but the reports he will receive will doubtless be glowing. Whether such a marked improvement in City’s performance is enough to keep Eriksson in employment remains to be seen, but on this evidence, the former Prime Minister of Thailand would be unwise to dispense with the former England head coach.


City rediscover their slicker side (Daniel Taylor)
It is difficult to know what will have been more pleasing for Sven-Goran Eriksson: the voluble demonstration of support he received from Manchester City's fans or the togetherness his players displayed in proving a point or two to the club's owner, Thaksin Shinawatra. Whichever way to look at it, Eriksson can reflect on a hugely satisfying day as he attempts to show his trigger-happy employer that he deserves better than to be paid off in the summer.

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