City Wanchope(33 & 90), Goater(80 & 88), Pearce(pen 42)
Crewe Hulse(44), Little(45)
City Weaver, Dunne, Pearce, Howey, Charvet, Wiekens, Wright-Phillips, Tiatto, Granville, Goater, Wanchope – subs Dickov(unused), Horlock(45), Huckerby(79), Murphy(unused), Grant(45)
Crewe Bankole, Navarro, Macauley, Sodje, Smith, Brammer, Lunt, Collins, Little, Jack, Hulse – sub Sorvel(54), Richards(50), Jones(81), Walker(unused), Ince(unused)
What The Press Said
The Blues are basking in their moniker as the First Division’s great entertainers.
A six-point maximum from their opening two encounters in front of their own supporters – scoring eight goals in the process – suggests City’s home sickness of last season has been well and truly cured.
However, the statistics do not paint a wholly true picture of this curious seven-goal frolic which posed almost as many questions as it answered.
City, all cavalier and no roundhead, were simply irresistible at one end of the pitch yet, as they peeled forward, they revealed a worrying vulnerability and fragility at the other end.
`Typical Kevin Keegan’, `typical City’ went the most popular theory in the Maine Road stands.
Delivered with a simultaneous smile and shake of the head, it was meant as a compliment but will not necessarily be greeted as such by the Blues boss.
Keegan’s managerial career at club level has been pigeon-holed by one crazy seven-goal thriller at Anfield in the mid-1990s.
There is the notion that he eschews defending in favour of all-out attack.
It is a theory that is far divorced from the truth.
True, Keegan likes nothing better than for his sides to send the audience home happy, but he is as passionate about his team defending well as he is about them ripping the opposition to shreds with breathtaking forward movement.
He revels in the idea that the crowd is sent home happy, cherishing what they have seen over the 90 minutes but he doesn’t mind whether the admiration is centred on his attack, midfield or defence.
Given such an all-embracing outlook, it is hardly surprising that the manager described this second win of his stewardship as one that “had everything, yet had nothing”. He was spot on.
“It was one of those games, how we won 5-2 1 don’t know,” he ventured.
“Dario Gradi will be wondering how his side lost 5-2 and yet we still created and missed quite a lot of opportunities, and so did they.
“It was a great game of football but not one for the purists.
“The second goal should kill most visiting sides off at home, but Crewe showed a lot of character.
“The lads said to me that was a typical game for me, but that is not how we plan it.
“What the fans can take some comfort from is that we have now scored eight times in two home games – and it could have been a lot more – and they have had some great entertainment.
“We have also shown a willingness to go out there on to the pitch and try and win football matches.
“We can perhaps go about it a bit better in future – and we will improve – but I don’t think the fans can question the commitment of the players. They dug deep.”
They had to after meekly surrendering a twogoal first-half advantage that belied the mistakeriddled, torpor-inducing opening 20 minutes of a game that never settled into a pattern or rhythm.
Crewe, mainly thanks to the speed of Rodney Jack and the intelligent running of Robert Hulse, were always second best but never quite out of the race altogether.
They demonstrated that fact when Steve Macauley’s 26th-minute header rattled the bar and the Blues defence.
It was as if the Crewe skipper had tweaked a sleeping dog’s tail and the Blues suddenly barked into action, led by the magnificent Danny Tiatto.
It was, however, the other Danny – Granville – who was was the architect of the first goal thanks to a determined run and cross.
Wanchope carried out the `topping off ceremony from close range – so opening his account for the season.
That advantage was doubled in the 41st minute when Macauley’s hand disrupted a quick-fire onetwo between Goater and Wanchope and skipper Stuart Pearce stepped up to slam home the penalty for career goal number 92.
That ought to have been that, but whenever City are playing it is advisable not to make predictions and Crewe hit back in spectacular style with two goals in as many injury-time minutes to change Kevin Keegan’s half-time team talk.
Hulse bundled in the first and Blues fanatic Colin Little volleyed home the visitors’ second.
It led to a less than flattering half-time reception from the home fans and to some changes in personnel for the Blues after the interval.
Shaun Wright-Phillips, who never got started but is clearly a lot better than he showed, was replaced by Kevin Horlock and former Evertonian Tony Grant got a taste of the midfield action as Gerard Wiekens limped out.
The last time Alex had triumphed away to the Blues was in 1895 – even before the redoubtable and everlasting Gradi had taken the Gresty Road reins! But suddenly they saw their chance of making history this time around.
And they might have pocketed the three points had Nick Weaver not made a spectacular onehanded stop from Hulse in the 78th minute and had Keegan not produced a tactical master stroke by sending on Darren Huckerby for Laurent Charvet.
Huckerby’s pace unhinged a tired Crewe defence and within two minutes of arriving into the fray, he had ripped down the right flank and delivered a cross onto the head of Kevin Horlock.
The midfielder deftly flicked it on and in steamed Goater to restore the Blues lead.
Eight minutes later the Bermudian grabbed his second when he collected Horlock’s pass and rounded Ade Bankole. It was then left to Wanchope to pour a skip load of salt into Crewe’s gaping wound via a carbon-copy fifth deep into injury time.
Breathless yes, sometimes brainless, but no one was demanding their money back. Such is the way of things for Manchester City fans.
FROM MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS BY CHRIS BAILEY AND PAUL HINCE