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Fan v Fan: Manchester City-Tottenham Hotspur
12/10/2004 1:01:00 PM
This weekend Manchester City entertain Spurs, and with last season’s seven-goal FA Cup epic between the two teams still fresh in the memory, entertain could be the operative word. For far too long, as far as their fans are concerned, these two huge clubs have toiled unproductively in the shadow of their respective neighbours, United and Arsenal. They have that frustration in common, but what marks them apart? And what do they think of each other? Goal.com asked City fan Lucas Ng and Spurs fan Lucas Brown for their views…
GOAL: First of all, how do you feel about your side’s campaign so far? Have you been delighted or dismayed by it?

Lucas Ng (Man City): A great November where we went unbeaten (and City legend Bert Trautmann was formally inducted into our Hall of Fame) was spoiled by the 3-2 loss to Boro last week and Nico Anelka’s silly comments to that French magazine.

Lucas Brown (Spurs): Things never run smoothly at Tottenham and this season is no different. Jacques Santini’s arrival looked to be sound, but doubts about his ability to work under Frank Arnesen surfaced as soon as he took over. Then came the shock of his departure, although it was obvious something was wrong as the team’s performances showed. Martin Jol has not had enough games to say if he can take things on, but the initial signs are good. Despite being in the top four for a brief period, it was always obvious more additions to the squad were needed.

GOAL: Tactically, where do you think this match may be won or lost?

Lucas Ng: I think our defence will decide this match. With the Spur’s striker injuries, Jol will play with either an untested second striker or with a deep midfield. Boz, Distin and Dunnie should dominate either way.

Lucas Brown: It depends whether the defence at Blackburn turns up or the defence against Arsenal does. Tottenham can defend, but they can also look like they’ve never met each other before. At the other end the absence of Jermain Defoe was bad enough, but the news that Robbie Keane may be out through injury has highlighted just how daft the Engand man was to take his shirt off after scoring against Middlesbrough. If Spurs are to win it in one particular area though, it will be between the sticks where Paul Robinson could again be our saviour.

GOAL: Which opposition player do you consider to be the greatest threat to your team in this clash?

Lucas Ng: Jermain Defoe – wait he’s suspended for removing his shirt. Hah. Uh, Robbie Keane …. I hear there’s a good chance he’s not going to make the team selection sheet? I guess Michael Carrick – he’s been looking good under Jol.

Lucas Brown: Shaun Wright Phillips. His speed, ability to beat a man and stamina cause problems for every team. City appear to use him a lot as their outlet when they come under pressure and he will have to be stopped from making those darting runs down the right.

GOAL: Would you want him in your team?

Lucas Ng: Haha, don’t ask that. With our woeful financial condition, we’d want just about any quality midfielder if he came free. It’s that sad.
Lucas Brown: Without doubt and the rumours are still floating about that we are weighing up a bid.

GOAL: Who from your team should we keep a particular eye on here?

Lucas Ng: SWeeP had a terrible game last week and he’ll definitely play out of his socks in front of the City faithful.

Lucas Brown: It would have been Defoe for obvious reasons, but I’ll go for Frederic Kanoute. It will be his job to lead the front line and prove that he is the right man for the job. Reports linking him with a move away from the club continue, but if he starts playing like we know he can then we may not need to look for another tall frontman.

GOAL: What are your side’s greatest strengths?

Lucas Ng: A consistent defence. Remember, Keegan and defence used to go together like chalk and cheese.

Lucas Brown: Certainly not our wing play! Paul Robinson is not England’s number one for nothing and his performances this season have been superb. The defence can be solid and if Nicolas Anelka decides to slouch around on the halfway line then we shouldn’t have too many worries from their frontmen. Sorry to keep harping on about it, but I would said the attack is perhaps the strongest element of the team, but Defoe will not be present.

GOAL: And weaknesses?

Lucas Ng: We overly rely on two men, Anelka and SWP to win games for us. Take away those two and we merely have a decent backline.

Lucas Brown: The lack of width. But that is well known and the management are reportedly looking to bring in both a left and a right winger. The midfield without Sean Davis is also not the same as he provided a backbone that Spurs had not had for a few seasons.

GOAL: What do your lot typically think of their lot?

Lucas Ng: Underachievers, like us. Personally I think Frank Arnesen will steer Spurs in the right direction within the next few years.

Lucas Brown: I don’t think Manchester City are a side that Spurs fans either like or dislike to any great degree. You have to admire the way the club came back from going down two divisions.

GOAL: What single thing irritates you most about them?

Lucas Ng: Santini. Pleat. Hoddle. Christian Gross. George Graham. Gerry Francis. The revolving door at White Hart Lane has only one speed setting: fast. They seem desperate to emulate the old glory days, not just in silverware but in playing style too, when clearly you need some sort of stability and a solid foundation to build upon, not new managers every other season.

Lucas Brown: In the early 1990s I would have said the wooden benches in the away end, before they moved travelling fans to the stand behind the other goal at Maine Road, which they’ve since vacated. Nowadays I would have to say Anelka again, because he should be grateful for what he’s got.

GOAL: And what do you grudgingly admire?

Lucas Ng: Their reputation (and Arnesen’s astute direction) seems to allow them to attract quality players more readily than our lot.

Lucas Brown: The fact that their fans have stuck with them through thick and thin and have had to look on as Manchester United enjoyed a decade of success.

GOAL: Who is your all-time number one hate figure (or object of amusement) from their lot?

Lucas Ng: Glenn Hoddle. Scored the goal to defeat us in the FA Cup and his player management as England and Spurs manager was always a good source of jokes.

Lucas Brown: I remember Paul Gascoigne constantly berating Paul Lake for having such big ears during one match, but these days the only one who will get some stick is Nicolas Anelka thanks to his connections with the Woolwich Nomads at the other end of the Seven Sisters Road.

GOAL: What’s the best of business ever done between the two clubs?

Lucas Ng: Recently Ben Thatcher came over from Tottenham, albeit via Leicester, and he proved a bargain investment until injury. City great Paul Stewart went over and did well for Spurs (and was a nice little earner for us).

Lucas Brown: There have been very few transfers between the teams so I’m going for Paul Stewart. Until he moved back into the midfield it looked like he was never going to win the fans over, but he became something of a cult hero at the Lane. At £1.7million he was expensive, but what price do you put on his equaliser in the 1991 FA Cup Final? The fact that we actually sold him to Liverpool for more than he cost from City made it all the more sweet.

GOAL: What’s your fondest memory of past clashes against them?

Lucas Ng: This is easy. FA Cup. 3-0 down at half-time, Joey Barton sent off. Four second half goals later, final score 4-3 to City. One of the greatest City comebacks ever.

Lucas Brown: It has to be the 1981 FA Cup Final Replay, doesn’t it? It was our first trophy since coming back up from the second division and was the start of a run of appearances in different cup finals under Keith Burkinshaw. But, of course, the winning goal is what it was all about. The best goal ever to grace the Wembley turf.

GOAL: What do you think the score of this match will be, and how will it affect your weekend?

Lucas Ng: 2-0. With our form this season I expect City to win their home games and it’d be a real downer for me if we were to lose. A draw would be met with disappointment but I could live with it. As a City supporter, you are automatically an eternal optimist so I don’t think even a loss would considerably dampen my weekend spirits.

Lucas Brown: Unfortunately, a draw will be seen as a decent result under the circumstances. Victory would be great because, despite all the inconsistency in recent weeks, we are still capable of challenging for a European place. Losing would feel as depressing as ever, but it will just make me want the January transfer window to arrive even quicker. But I honestly believe that if we have some luck then we could nick a win in the same manner as we did at Blackburn. Manchester City 0-1 Tottenham.

goal.com
 

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Saturday, December 11, 2004

Man City v Tottenham: Preview

PA

Stuart Pearce has placed an early claim on the Manchester City job when Kevin Keegan steps down as manager in 18 months' time.

Keegan has already confirmed his intention not to seek an extension to his current deal, a move that has at least given the Blues board plenty of time to find a successor.

Having joined City initially as a player under Keegan in 2001, Pearce has now moved onto the coaching staff and was promoted to joint assistant-manager following the departure of veteran Arthur Cox last summer.

Pearce has already had one stint as manager, a single year as player-boss with Nottingham Forest eight seasons ago, but has made no secret of his desire to have another crack at the job.

It seems Pearce's sights are set on following Keegan into the Blues hotseat and he has already informed club directors of his desire.

"Kevin Keegan has made it clear he will be leaving in 18 months' time, so you don't have to be Einstein to realise there will be a manager's job available at a really good club," he told BBC GMR.

"I will certainly be applying for it, although whether the board deem me good enough to take it, I do not know.

"By that time, I will have been here for five years, so at least they will have had a good look at me and they are aware of my feelings with regard to being Kevin's successor.

The likes of Sam Allardyce and Gary Megson have previously been linked with the role, although the continuity aspect of Pearce's candidacy could appeal to Blues chief executive Alistair Mackintosh and chairman John Wardle.

Though there have been some troubled times over the last 18 months, the club have made giant strides on and off the pitch since Keegan replaced Joe Royle in 2001 and will be looking to scramble back into the top half of the table with a home win over Tottenham.

Record signing Nicolas Anelka is back in contention after his recent ankle problem, although with Jon Macken and Robbie Fowler performing well in tandem recently and the City support annoyed with the controversial Frenchman over an interview in which he is alleged to have claimed he wanted a move to a 'big club', Keegan may opt to keep his ?3million man on the sidelines.

Tottenham head coach Martin Jol faces an anxious wait to discover whether Robbie Keane and Thimothee Atouba will be available as Spurs chase their third consecutive Barclays Premiership victory.

Atouba will today contest a Football Association charge of violent conduct following a clash with Blackburn's Paul Dickov, while Keane is a major doubt after suffering a knee injury.

Jol is already without the suspended Jermain Defoe, after he was booked for removing his shirt against Middlesbrough, so Frederic Kanoute may have to lead the attack on his own.

Along with the question marks over Keane and Atouba, Reto Ziegler is out for three weeks after suffering a hamstring strain.

But Spurs responded to the disappointment of last week's Carling Cup exit to Liverpool with a victory at Blackburn and Jol has called on his players to take that same fighting spirit into this game.

"Against Middlesbrough we got a win and the last game we got a win. We needed that. Blackburn was our third game in six days and we did well, we looked better than them," said Jol.

"That was a good thing to see because at the end of a difficult week we did well.

"We have a difficult game against Manchester City. We need to work hard and have top mentality.

"We saw Liverpool in the Champions League, they scored three goals, they had a good mentality and are building good habits."

If Jol does find himself without both Defoe and Keane he is more likely to start with Kanoute on his own up front than throw a reserve team striker like Edson Silva or Mark Yates straight into the action.

"Four or five teams playing in the Premiership play with one striker. The 4-5-1 system is very popular nowadays," said Jol.

"I have several options - Edson Silva or Mark Yates, who is playing well in the second team.

"I could even think of moving one of our midfield players, like Michael Brown, who was our attacking midfielder against Blackburn and played just how I wanted, further forward."

soccernet
 

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Saturday, December 11, 2004

Man City 0-1 Tottenham: FT Report

PA

A Freddie Kanoute thunderbolt saw Tottenham emulate north London rivals Arsenal and collect a 1-0 win from an otherwise forgettable trip to Manchester City.

Shaun Wright-Phillips gets the better of Rohan Ricketts (AlexLivesey/GettyImages)

Not even the second-half introduction of record signing Nicolas Anelka could prevent City slumping to their first home league defeat since the Gunners' triumph at Eastlands nearly three months ago, as Spurs strolled to their third successive win.

Jol hints at January shopping spree

On a day when there was little to enthuse either set of supporters, it was totally fitting that Kanoute should win the match with the only moment of pure class in the entire contest.

There was more than a suspicion of offside among the home fans as Kanoute collected Michael Brown's angled pass just inside the hosts half, but what followed was pure genius.

Within two touches - one to control, the other to knock the ball forward - the Mali striker had set himself up with a shooting chance. Then Kanoute delivered an explosive 20-yard finish from the angle of the box which flashed right into the top corner before David James could even move.

City boss Kevin Keegan responded by turning to Anelka, omitted in favour of Jon Macken and Robbie Fowler, despite recovering from his recent ankle problem.

But Anelka could not trigger a revival, leaving Martin Jol to celebrate yet another Spurs victory as the troubles of a month ago are consigned to distant memory.

Having completed two victories since Anelka limped out of the action at Portsmouth three weeks ago, the City fans were starting to believe they were actually a better side without the enigmatic Frenchman.

It took a tortuous first 70 minutes, and a comparison with Kanoute and Robbie Keane during a strange opening period to dispel the theory.

While it could not be denied that City were the better side during the opening period, they created only a single opportunity worthy of more than a passing mention and looked as though they could be in trouble any time Tottenham managed to get the ball forward.

That the visitors managed that feat on only half-a-dozen occasions in the entire half was due in no small measure to the industry of Paul Bosvelt and Joey Barton in the City engine room.

The midfield pair hustled and bustled, and prevented former Blues favourite Brown getting his foot on the ball for any length of time.

Unfortunately, having done the donkey work, Bosvelt and Barton discovered Shaun Wright-Phillips was having an off day and neither Fowler nor Macken possessed the pace or ingenuity to unsettle a Tottenham defence in which Ledley King, one dubious early challenge on Macken apart, was excellent.

The one chance the Blues did create came after Antoine Sibierski had seen a far-post header blocked, the ball eventually finding its way to Barton on the edge of the area, where the England Under-21 man unleashed a powerful shot which Paul Robinson turned away.

In contrast, the visitors were only inches away from breaking the deadlock on two separate occasions, with Rohan Ricketts embarking on a darting run into the box that took him past Danny Mills and Bosvelt.

Ricketts was caught in two minds after that, eventually rolling his shot just wide with Kanoute agonisingly unable to make contact as he slid in.

At that stage, it was Keane who carried the greater threat, getting behind fellow Irishman Richard Dunne in the scrap to reach Pedro Mendes' long ball just before the break, then beating James with his deft lob, only to see it bounce just wide.

Kanoute had been a peripheral figure up to that point but, after Jol had made a double substitution at the interval, the striker erupted into life 12 minutes after the break unleashing the unstoppable shot which put Spurs in front.

City could not say they had not been warned as Kanoute had galloped down the left flank moments earlier without gaining any reward.

There was no escape on the second occasion though, as the striker's angled drive flew into the top corner before James had a chance to move.

The hosts would have fallen two behind, had Sylvain Distin not kept his cool and turned Keane's shot away by the post after the Irishman had burst into the box and nipped around James.

Keegan decided it was time to end Anelka's exile on the bench, although by then Tottenham had seized the initiative and Keane should really have wrapped up victory long before the end by sliding home Brown's low cross inside of blazing it over the bar.

Jol hints at January shopping spree

Martin Jol watched Freddie Kanoute fire Tottenham to their third straight Barclays Premiership win today - and then revealed he expects to have some cash to reinforce his squad during next month's transfer window.

'Spurs are a big club,' said Jol, who talks with football director Frank Arnesen about the situation on a daily basis.

'If we need a player we will get a player.

'There is no problem - we are in a very healthy financial position.

'We still have three or four weeks to talk about things; then we will make an assessment and look at what we need.'

After starting his tenure with three defeats last month, Jol has turned the situation on its head in the space of a fortnight.

The Dutchman must have been particularly gratified to see Kanoute smash home the winner against City, after he had been so critical of the Mali forward in the wake of his two Carling Cup penalty misses against Liverpool which cost his team a semi-final spot.

'It's a pity we didn't reach the semi-finals, but Freddie has trained very well and was terrific today,' said Jol.

'We haven't spoken a great deal, but there are no problems between us.

'The main thing is everyone is confident now. We have won four straight away games now - which is not a bad statistic.'

While Jol can look forward to his first Premiership Christmas programme with confidence, the problems are starting to mount for City boss Kevin Keegan - whose side today suffered their first home league defeat since they were beaten by Arsenal in September.

'It was a very disappointing performance,' admitted Keegan.

'We started off okay. But the longer the game went on, the more we were passing it around with no real purpose.

'We didn't look to have a goal in us, and there will be a few players who will look at their personal performance and not be very happy with it.

'If we have five or six players below par we will get beaten, and that is what happened. Spurs created all the best chances and deserved their win.'

Keegan admitted he could understand why City fans might have booed Anelka when he came on.

It was unclear if the boos were directed at the French striker, who has declared his desire to play for a club in the Champions League.

'If Nicolas wants to write articles about this football club and his situation then he has got to realise that in this country the press are going to pick out the bits they want and they will highlight them,' Keegan told the City website.

'When a player starts to say that he wants to go to a big club, that alienates fans as Manchester City is a big club.

'I know we are not in the Champions League but he was brought in here to help us try to do that.

'Instead of writing articles that is what he should concentrate on, getting on the pitch and scoring the goals that will take us there.

'That is what he is paid to do. He signed a six-year contract here and he has still three years left.

'That is why some of the fans are upset. I feel the same way. But they know that Nicolas is a top-class player.

'Even if they did boo him, and I didn't hear that, they know that he could have got us a goal in the game as they have seen it so many times before.

'Nicolas has to live with what he says as I have to in life and just get on with it.'

soccernet
 
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