FA Barclays Premiership
11th November 2006
Ref Graham Poll
City Weaver, Distin, Dunne, Richards, Thatcher, Reyna, Barton, Trabelsi, Sinclair, Vassell, Dickov – Subs Samaras(60), Corradi(60), Hart(unused), Ireland(unused), Onuoha(unused)
Newcastle Harper, carr, Taylor, Moore, Ramage, Milner, Emre, Parker, Duff, Sibierski, Ameobi- subs Solano(76), Nzogbia(56), Dyer(56), Srnicek(unused), Butt(unused)
A minutes silence for Armistice Day
WHAT THE PRESS SAID
Barton pulls all the strings but City still draw a blank
Joey Barton shaded Scott Parker in the midfield contest to make his absence from the England squad all the more mystifying, picked up his man of the match award and put his finger on the whole enigma that is Manchester City.
‘We’ve ground out a result and we’ve got to be pleased,’ Barton said after a desperately poor struggle was partly relieved by a final few minutes that bordered on the exciting. ‘Newcastle had chances to win it at the end and we would have been disappointed to get nothing.’
As a summary that is fair enough, except you have to remember that City were playing at home, their opponents were second from bottom in the table and in terms of quality players to put out on the pitch, Glenn Roeder is the most poorly served Newcastle manager in Premiership memory. Playing Shola Ameobi up front said it all. It was not that Ameobi was unconvincing, although he was, but that this could be his last appearance of the season. He is due to have a hip operation in America soon and was only playing because the surgeon could not fit him in any sooner. That and the fact that Newcastle have no one else.
You have to remember also that City supporters do not really want to see survival football or results being ground out. It is not what the club are about and several fans have complained that if this is all that is on offer in the Premiership, the knockabout of the Championship might be more preferable. The club accountants probably do not feel the same way, however, which is why manager Stuart Pearce is under pressure.
He possibly deserves to be, on this evidence, because when Georgios Samaras and Bernardo Corradi came off the bench after an hour they transformed the game to such an extent you wondered why Pearce had persevered for so long with Paul Dickov and Darius Vassell.
All that could be said in favour of that striking partnership was that it might have been fractionally more threatening than the Ameobi-Antoine Sibierski axis, although for the first hour you would have needed the Hubble telescope to have detected life in either attack. Two shots from Barton and one terrific save from Steve Harper was the sum of the first-half action, with the muscular and athletic Micah Richards showing what caught Steve McClaren’s eye when he neatly dispossessed the disappointing Damien Duff to snuff out Newcastle’s only chance.
The second half opened with Dickov bringing another fine save from Harper before the substitutes arrived and, once on the field, Corradi had three good chances within six minutes. He fluffed them all, although at least he took up good positions, which had not been happening before. ‘We’ll score a hatful one day soon if we keep creating chances like that,’ Pearce said, perhaps a touch optimistically.
Samaras had the ball in the net 20 minutes from the end, diverting Richard Dunne’s header goalwards, only to find that referee Graham Poll had blown up for a foul by Corradi on Stephen Carr. At this point, with City growing in confidence and the crowd at last making some noise, Newcastle appeared to be hanging on for a point.
But Roeder’s team also saved their best until last. Kieron Dyer was a lively substitute on his first Premiership appearance of the season and only a block on the line by Richards prevented him claiming all three points when he collected a return pass from Emre Belozoglu to get on the end of the best move of the game in the 89th minute.
PAUL WILSON WRITING FOR THE OBSERVER 12TH NOVEMBER 2006