THE TUCKSTER on Saturday’s defeat to Chelsea, and has a revelation about one of Hollywood’s biggest actresses
The first of our big tests has passed, although not without incident.
I`m sure that like most of you, I wasn`t expecting much out of an away trip to Stamford Bridge. Don`t get me wrong, I`m always optimistic about any match that City play and as Andrew Crofts said before the game, it`s a game of football and eleven vs. eleven, anything can happen on the day.
I had to work on Saturday which meant that I`d be making do with Radio commentary. As is the rule on match days, I wore my club tie to the office as did my mates Rich (Leicester) and Craig (Blackpool) – I got a few cheeky comments about being stuffed etc but it`s always worn with pride.
As Craig pointed out this sort of match is a bonus match. You can`t expect that many of our immediate rivals will get anything at the Bridge, so if we could it`d be a big plus.
My first thought when I saw the team selection was surprise, City don`t ever play with three centre backs under Lambert. We haven`t played anyone so threatening before under him. It did make me worry a little but he`s the boss. My thoughts as a fan were that they have been labouring so far this season and are also missing Cech. Hilario was the replacement and hopefully wouldn`t put up such resistance as the injured Petr.
The game started with a real wake up call for the Canaries as Ramires fired in a long range shot that Ruddy did well to turn away. The lesson here is that these players are world class and really can hit the goal with accuracy from 30-odd yards. You need to close them down as often as you can.
That lesson was rammed home in emphatic style a couple of minutes later when Jose Bosingwa had too much space 25-yards out and fired into the goal, in off the post to score.
Five minutes on the clock and it looked like it could be a long afternoon and all the predictions could be true, but what happened next would surprise even the most pessimistic supporter.
For the next ten minutes, Chelsea played the sort of football that has become their trademark. The City defence rocked and creaked but held out. And then – they started to play. They started to play like we know they can but perhaps weren`t sure they`d be able to against the big guns.
For the rest of the half, City more than matched their hosts and could`ve been leading at half time. An exquisite chip pass from Hoolahan found Holt timing his run perfectly to leave the Chelsea back line for dead but then failed to make a connection as he tried to deftly flick the ball past Hilario.
hris Martin was also sent through and found himself one on one with Hilario. Martin didn`t hit it first time which allowed Hilario to block before tipping Naughton`s shot over the bar.
Before half time, Whitbread was forced to leave the field through injury and replaced by Pilkington. This served to allow City to play a more familiar formation with Hoolahan at the tip of the diamond.
The second half started and Chelsea had a go. But City held out and on 63 minutes the impossible happened – the Canaries equalised!
A terrible mix up between Ivanovic and Hilario saw the Blues keeper come for a ball he should`ve let his defender deal with. This resulted in Ivanovic just heading the ball up in the air and Holt pounced.
As the ball dropped, and with his back to goal, Holt volleyed the ball over his shoulder from just inside the area. He was celebrating before the ball hit the net as Terry slid in but couldn`t do anything about it.
Holt and the City players celebrated in front of the City faithful and a real sense of belief was evident. In my office I was out of my chair with fists clenched shouting “Get in.” On Radio 5 live the general consent was City were looking the more likely to win it – Incredible.
Almost straight from the kick off, Drogba jumped with Ruddy for a cross and was unfortunate enough to feel the full force of the City keeper`s fist as he cleared the ball. Drogba was out cold before he slammed into the grass, sickeningly.
Seven minutes or so later and the big Ivorian was stretchered off. He was in and out of consciousness and breathing pure oxygen – a terrible sight on the sports field.
Chelsea replaced him with Anelka and City replaced Hoolahan with Steve Morison. Morison was then put through with a lofted pass from Holt that put him out on the left ahead of the Chelsea defence but with a long way to run. He came in at an angle and Hilario almost came but steadied himself as Terry worked to get into a tackling position. Morison seemed to hesitate just slightly and Terry, who was running flat out, took the ball out for a corner.
Looking at it on TV, Morison will be kicking himself. He should`ve shot earlier and maybe he should`ve taken it to his right allowing Terry to sail by before firing in.
e didn`t but he`ll learn as he gets more game time.
Fernando Torres had a poor game as seems to be the norm now. He had challenged Barnett earlier by kicking him in the family jewels nowhere near the ball. He got a yellow card for his trouble. He should`ve had another when Johnson disposed him and was ruthlessly scythed down. No second yellow – imagine if Holt had done that?
The game was effectively over in the 80th minute when Ruddy brought down Ramires whose pace had taken him into the area. It was deemed a clear goal-scoring opportunity and Ruddy had a red card. City had now conceded their third penalty in as many matches.
Chris Martin made way for Declan Rudd and the young City stopper could do nothing about Lampard`s ferocious shot that went straight down the middle.
A penalty? Certainly. A red card? That was harsh.
City kept trying but were struggling now and Chelsea had introduced Mata and Lukaku – about £50m between them.
In the final minute a stray pass from the otherwise excellent De Laet put Mata in for his debut goal. It finished 3-1, a score line that flatters the hosts. They`ll know they`ve been in a game. The Radio 5 Live commentator announced Holt as his man of the match. He gave Ivanovic a torrid afternoon and should`ve scored one or two more.
So what have we learned from all this?
Well, we can compete at this level. Last week we did it against Stoke and on Saturday at Stamford Bridge we created enough chances to win the game.
Holt has also gone someway to dispelling the doubters. Here he is getting shots away against the Chelsea defence and actually scoring. He`s off the mark and scored with some flair as well.
Bosingwa`s fabulous strike shows you can`t give these players that much space and results and the sheer volume of goals scored in Manchester on Sunday emphasise that.
On the whole this was a fantastic performance from the Canaries. After a nervy start they took the game on and were certainly the better team. If I was AVB I would be concerned at how my team have started the season but let`s not do City down.
It just goes to show that with effort, application and most importantly belief, you can get results in the Premier League. Blackpool showed it last season and we intend to show it this season. We still haven`t seen James Vaughan yet but he`s not far away now. Would his extra pace have helped here had he been in Morison`s position in the second half? Almost certainly. I am proud, very proud to be a Canary.
A colleague of mine was invited into a corporate box for this match. Other occupants of the box were Fabio Capello and Hollywood star, Kate Hudson and her rock star husband, Matt Bellamy. At work on Sunday he was asked about it all. He`s pointed out that Holt should be playing for England to Fabio.
And what was Kate Hudson like? “She`s not all that” he replied. “She was wearing a track suit and hadn`t brushed her hair.”
So remember, we`re still above Arsenal and Kate Hudson`s not all that…
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