Football Only a Mother Could Love
September 16, 2012

Photo: MCFC.co.uk

I’ll be honest. I’m bummed. All these talks about the Britannia being a fortress and no top four team came home with more than a point last season mean nothing. They all finished above Stoke, didn’t they?

Not to mention the repetitive stat of this fixture’s historical record -- which has been a point each for the past three seasons. But is that an excuse for the trend to be continued?

City started off well retaining the majority of possession nestled amidst the always intimidating home crowd who by the way, took no time booing Mario Balotelli at every opportunity. Must’ve been their intense, long-time rivalry with Inter Milan.

I was excited to see what new signings Javi Garcia and Maicon could bring to the pitch, as they were in the starting line-up. We all know Maicon and what he’s capable of doing from the right flank. The brilliance of those mind-blowing goals he’s scored from the edge of the box over the years has been worthy of numerous re-uploads on YouTube. But the man is 31 now and outside of football, that’s about as old as Larry King. So one does wonder if he still has it.

Garcia on the other hand, is a name that hasn’t been all that familiar. At least to me, having followed very little of the Portuguese league. With one senior team cap to the Spaniard’s name, and having secured his signature only seconds before the recent transfer window closed, it’s not unfair for the media to conclude him as a panic purchase. Which I disagree though as our only panic buy during the period was Richard Wright.

Scott Sinclair also started in his City debut wearing the number 11 jersey Adam Johnson left behind. While I’m still quite bothered by Johnson’s inevitable exit, I’m not one to dwell in the past so my hope is for Scotty to prosper to become the young Chelsea prospect he once was and not go out on six loan spells again.

Masters at punting the ball from set-pieces and scoring from various body parts, Stoke opened the score with a Peter Crouch goal from inside the box after a great assist by his hand. The goal was a far cry from his wonder-volley last season but had it not been for referee Mark Clattenburg’s negligence of the lanky striker’s handling of the ball, it wouldn’t have stood.

In the words of Roberto Mancini after the game, "If you want to start with the first goal you should talk about NBA basketball, not football."

I’m still bitter.

Not one to give up with plenty still to be played, City remained composed and retained possession mainly contributed by the anchor that is Yaya Toure in the middle of the park; brushing off Tony Pulis’ men like the bulldozer that he is. City’s persistence was rewarded in the 35th minute after new boy Javi Garcia stylishly headed in the ball, giving Stoke a lesson in scoring properly.

The second half proceeded with City unceasingly executing waves of offensive plays while Stoke returning with the odd counter-attacks, mostly well-dealt with by City’s defense. Clattenburg continued his fine form for the afternoon by stopping the game every other minute whenever a Stoke player falls down at the touch of sizeable City players like Gael Clichy.

As the clock ticked further and the hope to end the stalemate draw spell at the Britannia faded away, the penultimate kick of the game nearly brought City all three points after a shot from outside the box by Edin Dzeko was deflected away on the line by Ryan Shawcross.

Another season, another draw against Stoke away. Is it acceptable? Yes. Am I happy? Not quite. We need a new target apart from the desired position in the league next year. It reads, "F*****g beat Stoke already."

Footnote: Jose Mourinho’s assistant Jose Morais was in the stands yesterday. A Real return to the Bernabeu for Michael Owen anyone?



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Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

About
  • Asrif, b. 1983
  • Subang Jaya, Malaysia
  • asrifomar[@]gmail[.]com
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