City legend Gary Owen reflects upon City’s defeat to Spurs alongside the Vital Manchester City Forum’s Man Of The Match poll result…
‘As I said from the outset we were two equally matched teams. We had to play better than them and I don’t think we did. I don’t think we were any worse than them, but they had the clearer chances. The longer the game went on, I felt that one goal would be enough and it proved to be the case. For the neutral, it would have been fantastic to watch, a proper cup tie atmosphere.
‘Throughout, the crowd were magnificent. Fantastic support. The evening was fantastic apart from the result. It has happened too many times now that when a big game needs to be won we have not won it. There are a few instances that you can pick out like the defeats at Old Trafford where we really needed to perform and didn’t perform like we can. It can’t keep being a coincidence that we lose those crunch games. In Shaun Goater’s programme notes, he spoke of the law of averages telling us that pattern must change some time. That will only come without luck and all eleven of our players putting in the level required. When the crunch comes, some of our players aren’t putting in the performances we’d like.
‘On the night I’ve got to say that Tottenham did not deserve to be beaten. Neither were we robbed. There are no excuses. Our side had enough time to gel together outside of our keeper. I can’t argue. We didn’t deserve to win it.
‘We needed Adebayor, Tevez, Bellamy and Johnson to be all firing just as much as Tottenham needed Defoe, Crouch and Lennon to do the same and to an extent we cancelled each other out. When we did get balls in, Tevez had a couple of blocked or deflected shots and Johnson had a shot saved by Gomes, but in my opinion, Tottenham had the better chances.
‘Zabaleta, Kompany and De Jong put in their usual strong performances. Tevez ran his legs off in the first half but the longer the game went on, the deeper he became which meant we were chasing to get a winning goal and he was knocking balls into where he should have been! Meanwhile, I thought that King and Dawson were exceptional for Spurs.
‘Even though we rode our luck, I thought that we kept Huddlestone, Modric, Bale and Lennon as quiet as anybody could have done in the circumstances. Defoe wasn’t in it all night but Peter Crouch is Peter Crouch. He is ungainly, but he wins his headers, brings people in and he was in the right place at the right time for the goal.
‘As soon as that goal went in, you could see that was the end of it and our players visibly shrank in size. It absolutely sank them.
‘Good luck to Tottenham. I wish them all the best because they are a good team. Credit to Harry Redknapp. He’s got a good balance in that side with players that can dig in and players who can play. I thought he’d go 4-5-1 but they went 4-4-2 and were always dangerous from set plays.
‘But after the initial doom and gloom and time to look back on it, sure, we’re disappointed because we’ve not got a Champions League place, but we have qualified for European football outright which is the first time in many, many years from what will be our highest ever Premier League finish.
‘Sure, we didn’t make the Champions League this year and if it’s not next year it will be the year after that. There is no doubt it will come our way.’
Gary’s Man of The Match:
‘We though Marton Fulop might be our Achilles heel. He was short of first team football. He was thrust in at the deep end. He didn’t know his team mates and had very little time to get to know them. In his last run out before joining City he conceded seven goals at Chelsea. Furthermore, the two centre backs and goalkeeper have to have an understanding.
‘But against Spurs, Fulop was our saviour. He kept us in that game for a long time. I thought he was exceptional. In my opinion, he saved two or three certain goals. He even initially kept out the cross that led to the goal. It just shows you that when your ‘keeper is Man of The Match at home, you’ve struggled.’
The VMC Forum Man of The Match versus Spurs:
38. Marton Fulop [53.85%]
34. Nigel De Jong [23.08%]
28. Kolo Toure [7.69%]
33. Vincent Kompany [7.69%]
11. Adam Johnson [7.69%]
5. Pablo Zabaleta [0%]
3. Wayne Bridge [0%]
18. Gareth Barry [0%]
39. Craig Bellamy [0%]
32. Carlos Tevez [0%]
25. Emmanuel Adebayor [0%]
8. Shaun Wright-Phillips [0%]
14. Roque Santa Cruz [0%]
24. Patrick Vieira [0%]
The Story So Far:
FA Premier League unless stated
Carlos Tévez, 9 (Bolton A, Spurs A, Wolves A, Blackburn H, the rags H, LCSF1, Chelsea A, Fulham A, Everton H, Wigan H)
Nigel de Jong, 5 (Fulham H LC R3, West Ham H, Wigan Athletic A, Liverpool A, Chelsea H)
Craig Bellamy, 4 (Arsenal H, the rags A, Villa A, Sunderland H)
Gareth Barry, 4 (Blackburn A, Portsmouth A, Stoke H, the rags H)
Shaun Wright-Phillips, 3 (C. Palace A LC R2, Burnley H, Arsenal H LC QF)
Wayne Bridge, 3 (Fulham H, Hull A, Stoke H, FAC5)
Patrick Vieira, 2 (Burnley A, Villa H)
Vincent Kompany, 2 (Middlesbrough A FAC3, Arsenal A)
Adam Johnson, 2 (Bolton, H, Sunderland A)
Micah Richards, 2 (the rags A LCSF2, Stoke A)
Emmanuel Adebayor, 2 (Wolves H, Portsmouth H)
Shay Given, 2 (Birmingham A, Everton A)
Marton Fulop, 1 (Spurs H)
Nedum Onuoha, 1 (Birmingham H)
Pablo Zabaleta, 1 (Liverpool H)
Martin Petrov, 1 (Scunthorpe A FAC4)
Roque Santa Cruz, 1 (Scunthorpe H LC R4)
City’s 1-1 throwaway against Hull City and the FA Cup exit at Stoke registered no winner.
VMC’s Previous Man Of The Season:
2007-2008 Elano Blumer
2008-2009 Stephen Ireland
Very many thanks and respect to Gary Owen for this latest exclusive interview. Stay tuned with VMC for The West Ham Match Preview with Gary on Saturday!
As well as being a widely respected, successful media personality and commentator, Gary is the Managing Director of GTC Management, one of the UKs leading independent utility procurement brokers.
To find out more go to:
GTC Management: ‘Reducing Costs,Saving Time and Providing Peace of Mind’
Interview copyright Vital Manchester City, Gary Owen and The Vital Football Network 2010.
A Play As We Dream Production.