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West Ham 1 City 1: Brennan's verdict

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10 May 2010 10:24:28

The Blues finished the season by banishing two more unwanted traditions to the dustbin of history. This time last year, City fans gazed back at a season which had been wrecked by their side's inability to stand up in the face of a slight breeze whenever they left the comfort of east Manchester. Home form was Champions League standard last season, but City cultivated a tradition for travel sickness which made them push-overs. Mark Hughes began the transformation, winning on the opening day of the season at Blackburn and quickly following that with a victory at Portsmouth to match the number of wins harvested in the whole of last season. Then his managerial successor Roberto Mancini closed the season with a six-match unbeaten away run. That meant the Blues had suffered the fewest away defeats in their entire history in the top flight - even better than the Championship season of 1967-68. That kind of stat leaves a few "what-ifs" drifting into the thoughts of frustrated fans, but it is a platform which should serve them well next season. City resisted the temptation to give their youngsters an end-of-season bonus in east London, although young player-of- the-year Dedryck Boyata, Greg Cunningham and Abdi Ibrahim all made the bench. But Mancini took a bow to sentimentality by including Sylvinho at left-back for what could be his last appearance in English football, and dropping Wayne Bridge. Craig Bellamy picked up an ankle injury in training which ruled him out of the reckoning, and handed Roque Santa Cruz a rare start. The decision not to tamper with the team too much was the right one as 3,000 City fans had snapped up tickets for this match, hoping it would be the Euro clincher. In the end, it turned out to be a tussle for fifth place, and an extra £800,000 in prize money. It looked like being the fifth away defeat of the season when Luis Boa Morte took advantage of some confused City defending and a sublime backheel from Alessandro Diamanti to mark his return after a 12-month injury absence with a goal. But the Blues soon hit back, taking just four minutes to level. Johnson was involved in most of the Blues' best work in the first half, down both flanks and he linked well with Pablo Zabaleta out on the right before delivering a cross to the far post. Waiting there was not 6ft 3ins Emmanuel Adebayor or 6ft 2ins Roque Santa Cruz, but the vertically-challenged Wright-Phillips - and he gave his loftier colleagues a lesson in heading. That sparked a spell of City pressure which should have brought more goals. Johnson was denied a cut-and-dried penalty when he jinked in from the right and was clumsily brought down by England man Matthew Upson. The young winger beat the turf in frustration as referee Howard Webb ignored his appeal. A couple of minutes later, Adebayor appeared to have beaten the Hammers' offside trap, but his finish was ruled out by a linesman. But it was a low-key first half, West Ham coming closest to a second goal when Diamanti cracked a 20-yard drive against Marton Fulop's near post. Adebayor might have rounded off the half with a goal when Johnson intercepted and sent him away, but England keeper Robert Green produced a fine save. The second half began in much the same fashion, City fans cheered up immensely by the news that Chelsea had denied United the title. They were also cheered by a smart save from emergency keeper Marton Fulop, off his line quickly to deny Ilan. After his man-of-the-match performance against Spurs on Wednesday, the Hungarian will certainly have aroused the interest of one or two Premier League clubs after his stint in the City shop window. The game petered out badly, and all that was left was for the City players and fans to acknowledge each other and the home fans to applaud their side's efforts in avoiding the drop. Then both sets of fans united in their respect and admiration for Carlos Tevez, who donned a claret and blue shirt at the end out of respect for the club which gave him his break in English football. It was fitting that Tevez should take centre stage, and such immense appreciation. In City terms, this has been his season - now the club needs to grow to match his talent and ambition.| Submit Comments| Comments (16)| PrintWhat's this? Emaildel.icio.usDiggredditFacebookStumbleUponNewsvineGoogle BookmarksNetscapeTechnoratiWindows LiveYahoo! MyWebMa.gnolia


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