The Man City Soapbox: beating the big boys

Better late than never, Pete Sixsmith weighs in with his thoughts on a momentous day …

The East Stand went mad. The West Stand, containing new season card holders Mr and Mrs Horan, went mad. The Directors’ Box must have gone mad. One man went so mad that he attempted to French kiss Ji Dong Wan.

There we were 93 minutes into a game we were meant to lose. The City bandwagon had rolled into town, loaded to the gunwales with superstars and needing only a point to leave clear blue water between themselves and their friends from Old Trafford.

They left Balotelli in Manchester, presumably hoovering up vagrants and, Lord Snooty like, treating them to slap up meals. Mancini left Aguero, Silva and Richards on the bench, in order to keep them fresh for a tricky game against Liverpool on Tuesday.

But they still had Dzeko, Johnson, Barry, Yaya Toure and a whole bunch of others who had cost zillions. At full back they had Kolarov and Zabolete. We had Gardner and Colback.

At the start of the season, I though that these two might just make a go of it in the centre of midfield. I did not envisage them as full backs – and I am equally sure that they didn’t. Still, needs must.

I would imagine that as James McClean said goodbye to Brandywell and his Derry City colleagues, his thoughts would turn to his career in England. Play for the reserves, a few cameos off the bench, maybe a loan to Barnsley or Blackpool. But not playing against the league leaders.

Optimism was in short supply in the East Stand concourse before the game. It was felt by many that avoiding a heavy defeat was the best we could hope for and then we could regroup for as crucial game at Wigan on the Tuesday – a potential six pointer.

When Wes Brown limped off after 25 minutes and Matt Killgallon emerged from a freezing out that had lasted since May 2010, defeat seemed even more inevitable, although we had missed an excellent chance in the second minute when Bendtner failed to control the ball adequately.

The team looked far weaker than those we turned out in the supine defeats to Wigan and Wolves. No recognised full backs, a central defender deemed surplus to requirements, a goalkeeper wearing a face mask to protect a fractured eye socket and a novice Irish winger. And we won!!!

We won because each player had clearly been told by Martin O’Neill that he had to perform to the maximum of his ability. We won because we were committed and were prepared to put bodies in the way of the juggernaut. And nobody did that more than Lee Cattermole.

He was magnificent. He tackled cleanly, passed accurately and harried the City players to death. Perhaps he was in a comfort zone with Steve Bruce. They knew each other too well and Bruce’s influence on him was perhaps benign rather than focused. Along comes a new manager with a different approach and the captain knows that he has to convince.

He did well at QPR and against Everton. But here his performance can only be described as towering. No stupid tackles, no bookings just a performance that made City hard man De Jong look like Christopher Biggins having a hissy fit.

At the end of the game manager went over to captain and hugged him all the way off the pitch. He knew how important Catts’s performance had been. He is winning people over.

I thought he might well have been on his way out of the club pdq. I was wrong and I have enjoyed eating my words. We may even get a goal out of him now.

We played like a team. O’Shea was outstanding at the back, marshalling and organising and helping Kilgallon through his early stages. He looked a class act – far better than Lescott.

Vaughan, Larsson and McClean worked their socks off and never stopped. Vaughan was exhausted when he went off and Larsson had to drag himself around the pitch at the end. He passed a fitness test just before the game – you wouldn’t have realised.

Sessegnon filled in between midfield and up front and was busy, although there is still a tendency to choose the wrong ball or not to release it at the right time. But the balls he played to Bendtner in the first half and to Ji in the second were gems.

And then we come to the goal. It had people running along the seats, embracing strangers and generally going ape s***.

Larsson carried it out, realised that City defenders had given up and moved it forward. McClean, Ji and Sess took it to the edge of the box before the young Korean calmly walked it around Hart and into the net, earning him his first man kiss on Wearside.

So what if it was offside? It was a hairline decision and if City are too lazy to defend tough on them. These are the days that you go to football for; it makes awful goalless draws and embarrassing home defeats worthwhile. This is the kind of game that makes the Premier League the most exciting in the world; I doubt you would get a result like this in Spain or Italy.

Last minute goals are great when your team scores them. As I floated across the car park, I saw two glum City fans trudging back to their cars. I had seen them before the game looking confident that they would win and with big smiles on their faces.

A lesson in humility for them and a lesson in the restorative powers of Martin O’Neill for us.

16 thoughts on “The Man City Soapbox: beating the big boys”

  1. Excellent post Kippax. Probably the biggest regret of your new found wealth is the emergence of these “plastics” as you call them.

    When we moved the the SoL and eventually had some money to spend I recall a HT interval when John MacPhail was brought out to do the lottery draw. Big John got 15 goals from centre half in one season when we had our only season the the third tier. Most of the buffoons hadn’t got a clue who he was and their ignorance of a player who was captain little more than a decade earlier told me all I needed to know about these “plastics.”

    They spout off as if they are the same as the likes of you and me Kippax. They aren’t, and we both know it. Your club has a great opportunity to become something special now. Enjoy it, but don’t ever forget how it used to be. Happy New Year!

  2. I need to apologise for the rantings of my fellow Blue. We lost, it happens, and most City fans of my era are no strangers to defeat, sadly, the new plastics need to accept that it happens in football, which is why we follow our team. Another great day out in Sunderland (apart from 2 minutes!), thanks to the great banter in Jamesons before and after the game. Usual great atmosphere at the game, I think it’s one of the away days Blues always look forward too. Cheers.

  3. Note CityBlue, we did not cheat. We played to the whistle.

    Yes, ji was offside, if you look at the linesmanm He was a yard behind play and Ji was a few inches offside so it would look like onside to the linesman.

    City lost because they failed to take the 27 chances or so that they created. And our guys played with immense passion and commitment to their cause.

    There were 4 free kick decisions (in general play) that we were not given, one of which almost led to a goal.

    Micah Richards also almost scored from Offside.

    Get real. It was not cheating, but, yes the goal should not have stood, to correct that you would need to take it up with Sepp Blatter as he is the one who blocks technology in football.

    Phew, got that off my chest. Now, fingers crossed for Wigan tonight.

  4. Excellent insight Keith . I couldn’t believe there were no players chasing back as we made our last attack on the City goal . The goal was marginally offside – many goals are , what goes around comes around , and how well did MON handle his interview after the match when he was told about the goal – brilliant stuff

  5. humble in victory and magnanamous in defeat, lessons that need to be learned. City have bought their way to success but that doesn’t inspire the willingness to run when your lungs are bursting or to put your body on the line for the shirt. Mancini didn’t shake MON’s hand and this type of behaviour reflects that City expect to win because they have players on higher wages who cost more. This fortunatley is not how it works and City will fail this season as they failed in the Champions League because as they have found out to their cost with Tevez and Robiniho etc passion can not be bought and mercenaries are never there in the hour of defeat you buy their rifle not their heart.

  6. How does scoring a goal which is marginally offside cheating? Can this Citeh fan please tell us the last time one of their players scored, then realised he was offside and asked the referee to disallow the goal?

    We’re wating……………………………..?

    BTW did he see the Everton penalty in our last home game?
    What a dummy! He was probably watching Stockport County three seasons ago.

  7. I’ve not had much respect for Man Utd fans since I visited Old Trafford many years ago but I’ve always expected sportsmanship from the blue side of the town. So I’m surprised by the tirade from CiTehBlUe. What have we done to deserve it, apart from rejoicing in a hard-fought win and showing you can’t buy team spirit?

  8. I assume CiTehBlUe you wouldn’t have complained if Richard’s header had gone in and been given as a goal. Well January is named after the two faced god but I don’t think you would have complained about the cheating officials then.

    Self censorship has deleted my next comment!

    • Posted by proxy on behalf of the Man City Hard-of-Thinking Society

      The only reason you beat us you muppets is because, Ji was offside by a yard and ESPN/Sky showed it as a damn fact.

      You won because you cheated and the match officials cheated.

      Your’re all two faced double standard punks, karma will bite you all in the backside when you next visit Etihad Stadium, thats if your not rightfully relegated.

      You sincerely deserve relegation, im praying for you to be.

      • aaaaaaaaaw diddums, here let me pick up that dummy you just spat out! jog on glory fan, u got every decision and every help of kevin friend for 92 minutes n couldnt score so we were well over due some luck! sure ur chairman has the spare cash for some tissues for u!

  9. I don’t go along with French kissing like that Bill. Not unless we’d gone for a pizza or something first.

  10. I thought we’d get a point out of it. Three points… well, I’d have French-kissed Ji myself. At least, on our second date…
    Almost as significant as those three points are the three words from Pete that show the influence O’Neill has had on Cattermole: “He tackled cleanly…”
    Oh yes, also: “We played like a team.” The way we had it in us to play all along.

  11. Maybe it’s uncurable optimism or an indomitable spirit which carries us all through the lean times with this club, but I didn’t expect us to lose the game yesterday.

    Having said that I was certainly not expecting us to win. My son (9) kept saying that we were going to win with a couple of minutes left. He was insistent. I just kept putting that down to the naivete and optimism of youth.

    I’d have been pleased with the point. What a way to win a game where we had been under the cosh with a makeshift back 4, and against the richest club on the planet.

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