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Man City 1 v Rovers 1


Alan75
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Match Report by Scotty

What a terrible game of football!  Two bad teams who lacked confidence, style and cohesion simply cancelled each other out and reduced the game to a scrappy dog-fight.  Welcome to the relegation battle folks.

We went in to the game playing everyone in there right positions except for Douglas who must have drawn the short straw for the left midfield slot.  I shouldn't have to comment on this but, for the bulk of this season, playing everyone in their proper positions has been an alien concept for Souness.

The first half was a non-event.  We defended solidly, City attacked toothlessly, and we offered nothing, and I mean nothing, going forward.  The only event of note was when City hit the post following a dubious free-kick decision (one of many dubious decisions by a poor ref).

The second half leapt into life when City got another fortunate free-kick on the edge of our box.  Now, to me, the point of a wall is cut off at least half the goal to the free-kick taker.  OK, the player may be skillful enough to get the ball up and over the wall with sufficient pace to score, but surely you just have to clap your hands and say well done if it happens.  The least the keeper should do is cover the other half of the goal.  Anelka didn't put the ball into the "postage stamp".  He didn't lift the ball over the wall.  He didn't blast the ball through or under the wall.  He simply curled the ball round the wall at saveable height into an unguarded net.  Totally Friedel's fault.

I said at half time that the team who scored the first goal would win.  So it was a wonderful surprise when we equalised five minutes later.  A hopeful punt from Neill was flicked on, the rebound fell to Flitty and he finished like Shearer.  It was the only time in the match that one of our midfielders made a run past our forwards and into the box.

The next 20 minutes or so were quite entertaining.  Both teams looked like they could win it and they both attacked and counter attacked at regular intervals without really threatening either goal.  Eventually though City got nervous and, if anyone was going to win it, I thought we might just sneak it.  Unfortunately we just didn't have enough quality to get the three points.

So, we gained a point away from home which I guess is a good thing.  But don't be fooled, we were very poor today and it's only the fact that we were playing an equally poor team that kept us in it.

Yorke and Cole don't work hard enough.  They don't close down the opposition defenders when they are in possession and they are not mobile enough when we get the ball.  I lost count of the times when there was space to knock the ball into the channels but neither of our forwards could be bothered to make the run there.

Our central midfielders must be the worst passers in the league.  I've often defended Flitcroft, and I think he's essential for the team as he's the only midfielder we've got who can defend, but he can't pass.  I can live with that as long as our other central midfielder can.  Tugay was a great passer of the ball but he looks a shadow of the player he was last season.  He gave the ball away constantly today and, most of the time, it led to City attacks.  He's simply not good enough at the moment.

On the positive side we were great defensively.  Nissa was my man of the match by a mile and Babbel wasn't far behind.  Douglas did a sound defensive job on the left, Emerton continued his good form on the right, and Gresko looked like a decent left back again.  Flitty worked his socks off and constantly disrupted City's rythmn and passing movements.

I fear we're going to have to put up with a number of performances like this before the end of the season.  We just don't have the confidence or ability to play good football at the moment and it's our battling qualities that will determine whether we stay up.  We battled well today but it will be interesting to see whether we can do that against a quality team like Chelsea in our next game.  Hopefully we'll have some new blood by then.

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