WIGAN ATHLETIC 4 CITY 0
FA Barclays Premiership
21st October 2006
Scorers Heskey(2), Dunne(4 o.g.), Camara(65), Valencia(67)
At least we now know why Manchester City can’t even get 2,000 fans to travel less than 20 miles to watch them these days. forget inflated ticket prices and the presence of the Sky cameras at the JJB Stadium. Supporters who once followed the Blues in their thousands through thin and thinner seem to have finally given up. And Who can blame them.
One win on the road in almost 11 months is bad enough, but the City punters have put up with much worse than that down the years. Even in the dark days of the old Second division there was a belief that things would get better. This time all hope seems to have been extinguished.
To say Stuart Pearce’s side were shameful is being too kind. By the time Antonio Valencia had driven in Wigan’s 4th goal with more than 23 minutes still remaining, the 1,903 who did make the journey summed it up perfectly when they began to sing “Your not fit to wear the shirt”.
To his credit, Pearce didn’t go into hiding. He stood defiantly in the technical area as chaos reigned in from of him. and then came out fighting at the end of an game that will haunt him forever. He admitted “There‘s no getting away from the fact that we have played badly today. We lost too many one-on-one battles. But we never really gave ourselves a platform. Wigan scored a good first goal, but we gifted them the seccnd and after three minutes we were really up against it. I can understand why the fans are disappointed. They are passionate people. But l’m disappointed as well, and so are the players. We are all Manchester City Football Club. I think ticket prices had a. factor on how many came to see us, and also the fact that the game was shown Live on television. But maybe we have got to give the fans something to shout about as well”.
“I haven`t tried to pick the players up I don`t want to pick them up now. but I can promise you that I will be making sure they are ready for our next game against Middlesbrough”. Brave words, but you can be certain that if performances fail to improve and City”s attendances at their own glittering Eastlands home also continue to plummet, the City boss will have as much chance of surviving the Christmas period as a Bernard Matthews turkey. Average crowds are already more than 8,000 down on those City were enjoying less than two years ago under Kevin Keegan,and the football is much, much worse.
It took 214 seconds to add another chapter of woe to City’s season. First Emile Heskey`s sublime strike after just 62 seconds gave Wigan the lead as he latched onto an Emmerson Boyce cross and rammed home a classic half- volley past Nicky Weaver. Then City skipper Richard Dunne ignored Weaver’s call as he came off his line to collect Skoko’s free kick and the Irishman comically managed to head the ball right into his own net. All this happened within four minutes. but City cleared their heads and should have at least get one back before the break. Heskey showed his defensive skill by denying Dunne after Joey Barton’s free kick, and Bernardo Corradi wasted a great chance when he headed over from six yards. Sub Darius Vassell then continued City’s wastefulness in the 60th minute, dragging his shot wide after Michael Johnson had set him up with a clever piece of invention.
But Wigan sealed the game when Stephen Jordan’s clearance cannoned in off Henri Carnara, and the humiliation was complete when Valencia finished ferociously after more great work by Heskey.
SIMON MULLOCK WRITING FOR THE SUNDAY MIRROR