Terrible weekend and we are back in deep trouble; not only a bad result but a kick in the nether regions, courtesy of some bizarre refereeing decisions and a lacklustre performance. I only managed to see the TV highlights but the penalty decision was laughable and poor old Frontzeck’s dismissal was harsh to say the least. It was nice to see the Everton players pleading with the ref, and the fans applauding Frontzeck off. Last weekend against QPR we had to laugh at the refereeing but this week it ain’t so funny.
If anyone cares to do a Why Blue, please do as the backlog has now cleared.
This one reaches 633.
Next game, Coventry at home, Wednesday 14th February
MATCH REPORT ‘LIVE’
EVERTON vs MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday, 10th february 1996
“The referee’s a w****r!”
Arrived at Goodison in good time to have a look around the new Everton superstore before heading off to the Royal Oak for a couple of pints of Murphys. Their new store makes City’s revamped souvenir shop look a bit sorry but the growth of commercial activities at the club certainly hasn’t gone down well with many of the fans, judging by some of the letters in their fanzine “When Skies Are Grey”. One point which amused me was that some of the club’s recent publications which featured photographs from last season (e.g. programme photographs showing Dave Watson lifting the F.A. Cup) have had the old sponsor’s (NEC) name removed from the front of the shirts in the pictures since they are competitors of the new sponsor (DANKA). Is this ludicrous or what?
On getting into the ground I was greeted with the disturbing news that Gio wasn’t playing. There hadn’t been so much as a whisper of this being possible in the press so it was really surprising, and in view of what was to happen, really disappointing. Goalkeeper and back four were as expected, Brown, Lomas and Flitcroft were in central midfield, Phillips started wide on the left, Rösler was alone up front and Clough was “in the hole” behind him. Before the game started there was a superbly-observed minute’s silence for the late archbishop Warlock of Liverpool. It really was a credit to both sets of fans.
Everton set their stall out right from the start, being tigerish in defence and midfield to win the ball and then pumping crosses in from the flanks towards the towering presence of Duncan Ferguson. The big Scotsman still hasn’t recovered his fitness after his spell in one of Her Majesty’s hostels so he presented little threat on the deck but he won virtually everything in the air. At the other end, Watson and Unsworth were very solid and totally dominant in the air. It was clear that City would have to play their football on the deck to get anything from the game but unfortunately we just couldn’t get our passing together. Even normally reliable players like Clough and Flitcroft couldn’t find a City player much of the time and as a result Everton enjoyed the bulk of the possession. Lomas in particular had another nightmare. He tried hard but just couldn’t make the passes.
The crosses raining in on the City penalty area were a constant source of problems as Immel displayed a vampire-like aversion to them. This eventually led to a goal in the 33rd minute when a cross from Matt Jackson soared over the City area and looked to be going out of play a few yards wide of the far post. Whilst the Everton fans groaned at another wasted opportunity, Ferguson got to the ball and headed back across goal where an unchallenged Parkinson was able to score against us for the second time this season. Referee Paul Alcock (the one that booked Alan Shearer last week for doing an impression of a linesman) was allowing a lot of physical challenges from both sides to go by and since Everton were winning most of them, we didn’t look like scoring a goal. Our best chance of the game came on the break with some accurate (for once) passing which led to a chance for Brown who was one-on-one with Southall. He managed to clip the ball over the goalkeeper but it went just over the bar too.
City made a double substitution at half time, Quinn and Creaney replacing Phillips and Brown. Phillips had made very little headway against a well-organised and physically strong defence and Brown was probably knackered after his exertions on Wednesday night. Anyway, the change to a conventional 4-4-2 seemed to make an instant improvement to City’s play as we were able to hold the ball up in the Everton half and Quinn made some intelligent lay-offs for other players. However, two minutes into the second half Everton were awarded a controversial penalty. Horne and Symons chased a long ball into the City area and just as Symons was about to reach it, Horne nudged him and he stumbled forward, his hand knocking the ball away from the goal. After the protests died down, former Blue Andy Hinchcliffe (who got quite a bit of stick from the City fans) stepped up to whip the spot-kick into the bottom corner.
City strove to get back into the game but managed to create no real clear-cut opportunities. The best effort was an overhead kick from Creaney which went just wide of the foot of the post. What became obvious was our lack of pace up front. Although some good through balls were played from midfield, all of our forward players have to hold the ball up and wait for support as they cannot outrun defenders. I sincerely hope that the Georgian we’re supposed to be buying this summer is quick.
Neither goalkeeper had to make a save in the second half as the game petered out. Everton always looked comfortably in control but on this showing they don’t look a particularly good side. There’s lots of effort, strong tackling and good organisation but without Kanchelskis (on international duty) it was left to Limpar to supply any touches of flair. Just before the end the Swede was involved in an incident which led to the sending-off of Michael Frontzeck for only the second time in his career. Both players went in for a 50-50 ball which Limpar just reached first and knocked past the German. However, their momentum carried them into each other and Mr. Alcock decided that that was a bookable offence. Since Frontzeck had already been booked for shirt-pulling early in the game, he was red-carded. Even Limpar sprang to his defence but it was no good. Not surprisingly, the City fans started chanting “the referee’s a w****r” and Niall Quinn immediately turned to us and applauded, right in front of the referee. I’m surprised he didn’t get a booking for that himself.
The sending off made no difference to the outcome of this game but it means we’ll be without a recognised left back for at least one of the important games coming up soon. Since Frontzeck has picked up four yellow cards in three games for City, he may already have amassed enough points for a two-match ban. With Coventry’s unexpected victory against Chelsea, we’re back down in the bottom three and on this form, I’m getting worried again.
Paul Howarth (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I have booked the same room at the Manchester City Social Club for a further meeting of the Internet Blues to precede the match against United (Rags please! [Ashley]) on 6th April, I think.
The format will be much as last time except we can start a little bit earlier, say half past twelve to allow a bit more time for people to circulate.
It does help for me to know how many, and who intend to attend. Perhaps Ashley can be persuaded to take a higher profile at the event and give us a five minute chat on how it all started, when, how it has grown and where it is going.
Why should he be alone. Maybe the Mole could give us a live report, and a really brave volunteer could do a “Why Blue?”
I would urge as many as possible to come along as it really was enjoyable, even though Paul and I didn’t speak to anywhere near as many people as we would have liked to (this time hopefully). One potential problem is that the United match will almost certainly have ticket restrictions on it which means that non-regulars will have difficulty getting tickets. A possibility would be to shift the date to that of the Sheffield Wednesday game (13th April). Please mail Malcolm and let him know if you would like to go, and whether he should consider shifting the dates.
Not sure about a presentation, depends on how much beer I consume! Dare the Mole blow its cover?