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Next

Marcotti: Platini's missed opportunity

FIFA 16 hours ago
Read
 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 4, 2007

Manchester City 0-1 Valencia

Valencia spoiled Sven-Goran Eriksson's Manchester City welcoming party at Eastlands to leave the new manager with plenty of work to do before the Premier League opener at West Ham next week.

With five new signings in his starting line-up, some of whom the former England manager had never even seen play, there was always going to be an element of the unknown about the clash with one of Spain's four Champions League entrants.

  • Eriksson to continue spending
  • Eriksson would certainly have been able to pick a few positives out of the narrow defeat, not least the performance of young midfielder Michael Johnson.

    But David Silva's early winner, combined with a series of missed chances including two by star striker Rolando Bianchi, confirmed the theory it may take some time for Eriksson's new-look side to gel.

    With new owner Thaksin Shinawatra looking down proudly from the stand above, Eriksson had strode onto the pitch before kick-off to a standing ovation, bowing politely to all four corners of the ground.

    It was an enthusiastic welcome, although the sight of thousands of empty seats suggested the former England coach has some work to do if he is to claw back the huge number of City fans who have become increasingly disillusioned with life at Eastlands.

    In contrast, Ricky Hatton will forever be a hero in these parts and when he was spotted taking his seat five minutes into the game, the world light-welterweight boxing champion - and lifelong City supporter - was greeted like the superstar he has become.

    Hatton barely had time to take his seat before Eriksson's side fell behind.

    Switzerland Under-21 skipper Gelson Fernandes was the man at fault, gifting possession to Silva 35 yards out.

    Silva laid a neat pass off to Miguel Angel Angulo but when his shot was parried by Kasper Schmeichel - handed his chance in the absence of injured duo Andreas Isaksson and Joe Hart - the Spanish international stroked home the rebound.

    To their credit, City responded in defiant fashion, although the fact academy graduate Johnson led the resistance was a bit of an irony given the number of players Eriksson has brought in.

    Johnson rattled the Valencia bar with a fierce 25-yard shot and not long afterwards Bianchi did the same as he tried to steer Elano's cross goalwards.

    An £8.8million capture from Reggina, Bianchi is the man Eriksson is hoping will end a scoring crisis which condemns City to start the new campaign without a home Premier League goal since New Year's Day.

    Bianchi certainly has the physique of a modern-day forward but the way he fluffed a golden opportunity when Marco Caneira's attempted clearance rebounded off Martin Petrov and spun into his path was a bit of a worry.

    Petrov sparked sporadically down the left flank, although it appears the Bulgarian will look to cause defences problems with the accuracy of his crosses rather than any speed or trickery.

    Geovanni became the first Brazilian to sign for City last month but did not show much Samba flair when he smashed a long-range free-kick straight into the Valencia wall.

    Bianchi then failed to turn his far-post header goalwards after Petrov had picked him out before Geovanni volleyed the Blues' last chance over from close range.

  • Eriksson to continue spending
  • Sven-Goran Eriksson has opted against making a nostalgic trip to Wembley tomorrow in order to tie up his ninth new signing as Manchester City boss.

    Despite being England coach for six years, Eriksson never once took charge of a team at the national stadium, instead spending all his time `on the road' at various grounds around the country.

    Now installed as Stuart Pearce's successor at City, the Swede had an obvious opportunity to meet up with his old FA employers at the Community Shield showdown between Chelsea and Manchester United.

    It would have been a legitimate visit, too, given United visit Eastlands in a fortnight.

    However, instead of making the trip to London, Eriksson will remain in Manchester, where he is expected to tie up the loose ends of Mark Bresciano's move from Palermo.

    Eriksson pointedly refused to state whether the Australian midfielder was the man he was after.

    But the Swede did appear to give the game away when he was asked whether he was trying to sign an Italian.

    'Maybe not an Italian, but possibly someone who has played in the Italian league,' he smiled. 'I am not going to Wembley tomorrow because I have to say hello to a new player.

    'Hopefully, by the time we start training on Monday afternoon, we will have another new face.'

    Bresciano's arrival would certainly bring some bite to the City midfield, a commodity which appeared to be lacking in today's 1-0 home defeat to Valencia.

    In a contest of few chances, David Silva's 10th-minute effort proved decisive, with both Michael Johnson and Ronaldo Bianchi hitting the bar as Eriksson's team strove for an equaliser.

    Despite the defeat, Eriksson declared himself satisfied with the performance, singling out new arrivals Javier Garrido and Elano for special praise.

    The pair only signed for City on Thursday and have been involved in just two training sessions.

    Yet they acquitted themselves reasonably well, leaving Eriksson in bullish mood seven days before the opening game at West Ham.

    'I would be a liar if I said I didn't wish for a bit more time,' he said.

    'But I liked what I saw and I am much more positive than I was this morning. We will be better next week for sure.'

    New owner Thaksin Shinawatra looked down from the stands as Eriksson received a standing ovation prior to kick-off.

    Although the duo did not speak immediately after the game, they were due to have a chat at the Thai festival Thaksin has arranged in Manchester city centre this evening.

    Having backed Eriksson to the tune of £30million in the transfer market so far, Thaksin has fulfilled the promise he made to the former England coach when he asked him to succeed Pearce as manager.

    'He is very excited about the future,' said Eriksson.

    'When he took over he said he will spend money to bring in new players. He kept his word and he is very passionate about the football.'

    Thaksin's millions should ensure City stave off any approaches for England defender Micah Richards.

    The 19-year-old partnered skipper Richard Dunne in central defence this afternoon but Eriksson knows he can also use the youngster at right-back.

    And, even from a few brief sessions on the training ground, Eriksson is not surprised Richards is one of the most talked-about young defenders in the game.

    'Every club in Europe would like a talent like that,' he said. 'He is as strong as a horse, quick and an extremely good defender. He is only 20 years old. I would be surprised if clubs were not knocking on the door about him.'