Early Doors

City should not fire Sparky

Early Doors

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Mark Hughes's job
appears to be about as safe as a property investment in the Gaza
strip after Manchester City's FA
Cup humiliation against Nottingham

Championship strugglers Forest won 3-0 to begin a distracting cup run
that will almost certainly guarantee they are relegated, while their new manager
Billy Davies can spend 90 minutes dodging missiles (verbal and physical) when he
returns to Derby for the fourth round.

Forest have always enjoyed
success against City, most notably in 1990 when Gary Crosby scored this goal.

With City keeper Andy Dibble nonchalantly holding the ball
in one hand, Crosby nodded it loose as he ran
from behind Dibble and was left with an open goal

Nowadays, officialdom would hastily dredge up some arcane
rule making the goal invalid - as they did in 2004 when Thierry Henry nicked
the ball off Brad Friedel when he lobbed it in the air to punt it clear.

While all manner of silly rule changes are enacted to make
it easier to score goals, the authorities get a bit nervous when somebody is
good enough to invent an entirely new goal.

But ED digresses. Back to the matter in hand, which is a
media and public frenzy calling for Sparky's
immediate dismissal.

It seems City's
new owners are unwilling to play ball, having made the fatal mistake of treating
football like a normal business.

So these Arabs want to give Hughes a chance to deliver, and
will only assess his position at a sensible juncture? Don't
they realise this is the Premier League?

ED finds all this doom-mongering a bit much, reckons City
will have no trouble staying up and actually thinks the £10 million signing of Wayne Bridge
is a good one.

Every team needs a decent left-back, and now City have one.
He isn't spectacular, but the best
defenders rarely are.

And, yes, ED is well aware that last week it said City did
not need to sign anyone. It is fickle. Deal with it.

This is what Jose Mourinho did in the days before the credit
crunched reduced Roman Abramovich's £12bn
personal fortune to the point where he (or someone who looked a bit like him)
was recently seen ransacking shop-fittings and loose pairs of tights from a
stricken Woolworths.

The Special One didn't
use Chelsea's immense wealth to sign the five most famous
players in the world. He identified precisely the players he wanted and then
told the club to pay whatever it took to get them.

Ricardo Carvalho, Didier Drogba and Michael Essien were
not superstars when Chelsea signed them, yet the club was prepared to pay £19.8m,
£24m and £24.4m respectively for the three, all of whom have enjoyed massive

Across Manchester
they are used to getting fleeced in the transfer market, and the portly ghost
of Peter Kenyon appeared to return to United on Friday when they completed the
signing of two relatively unknown Serbians for £17m.

(With Chelsea reluctant to overspend on players they don't need this January, Kenyon probably has nothing
better to do than put on a white sheet, cut eye-holes and follow David Gill
around the corridors of Old Trafford.)

Early Doors isn't
saying that Zoran Tosic and Adem Ljajic aren't
good - just that it seems like a heck of a lot of money for two attacking
midfielders who will join the back of a very long queue for first-team places.

And ED is also suspicious of anyone who signs two players
from the same club at the same time. It seems like they are hedging their bets,
hoping that at least one of them will be good. For £17m, you really ought to be
more sure than that.

United avoided a cup giant-killing as referee Mike Riley
eased them to a 3-0 win at Southampton.

It seems a bit mean for all the marginal decisions to go United's way when they are playing a Championship outfit, particularly
when Riley is the man awarding soft penalties and ignoring offsides against
Danny Welbeck.

But Early Doors struggled to see Saints manager Jan
Poortvliet's point when he
complained about two key moments.

On Matt Paterson's
reckless foul that saw him leave stud-prints in Nemanja Vidic's shin, the Dutchman maintained: "It was a
normal tackle."

Then, when David McGoldrick conceded a penalty for handball,
Poortvliet argued: "The ball hit his arm but it is normal when you are in
the wall."

Based on Poortvliet's
idea of 'normal' football, Early Doors wonders if he didn't spend too much time watching Calcio Storico
on a scouting trip to Florence.

- - -

"I can't see
any justification for the red card. [Mike Riley] is in favour of the top teams.
He is a help to them." Jan Poortvliet is still grumbling about that
sending off.

FOREIGN VIEW: 'Iker + Robben =
Champions' - That, according to
Marca, is Juande Ramos's miracle formula
for getting Real Madrid back in the Spanish title race. Until the little bald
twerp gets injured again, obviously.

If Paul Ince were still in charge at Blackburn,
they would probably be underdogs for tonight's
FA Cup trip to face Blyth Spartans. But it will be worth following anyway - we
have it live at 20:00 UK

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