Early Doors

Not pretty at City

Early Doors

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It would be easy to have a pop at Manchester City after their 3-1 home defeat to Fulham on Sunday - so let's do just that.

City's gutless surrender to a side that had only won once away from home all season has heaped the pressure on manager Mark Hughes, who has presided over a recent run of five defeats in their last six games.

Nothing says 'You're getting sacked in the morning' like shots of a star player looking sullen on the bench as his team-mates struggle on the pitch, and the Eastlands fans greeted the introduction of Ched Evans ahead of Robinho with chants of "You don't know what you're doing", to add to the hard time they gave Hughes before the 3-1 defeat in Hamburg last week.

The mass exodus from home fans that followed Clint Dempsey's second goal and Fulham's third is a worrying sign that Sparky's fire may finally have gone out.

But, hang on a second - isn't all this a bit much?

With the UEFA Cup quarter-final second leg visit of Hamburg coming up on Thursday, Hughes defended his team selection by insisting that the most expensive player in Britain needed a rest. It's not that much of a stretch to see why someone who allegedly asks reception for 40 condoms while partying at a Brazilian hotel needs to put their feet up every now and then.

Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill was widely criticised - not least here - for playing a weakened side in Europe because he was prioritising a strong league finish. Now Hughes is getting abused for taking the exact opposite approach.

If anything, Robinho's lacklustre performance once he did eventually come on justified Hughes's selection, but let's not get bogged down with details.

Robinho was never meant to be a 90-minute, week-in week-out player. His best years at Real Madrid were spent generally either playing for the first hour or coming on for the final 30 minutes. If he had joined Chelsea as originally planned, he would most likely know every contour of Florent Malouda's hands from all that high-fiving when one replaced the other around the hour mark.

Few managers would refuse such a player if they are not pre-occupied with balancing the books, but Robinho was not a player Hughes actively pursued. Of the players he did target personally, how many of Craig Bellamy, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Shay Given, Vincent Kompany, Nigel de Jong and Wayne Bridge can be described as bad signings?

Securing European football for next season is obviously important if City's deluded owners still believe they can lure Kaka and his ilk to the club in the summer, but surely the club's long-suffering fans would rather end those '33 years and counting' jibes as soon as possible.

And as for those other recent defeats, they came at Chelsea, at Arsenal, at Bundesliga-chasing Hamburg and at Aalborg, a club that began the season in the Champions League. Hardly the most shameful record.

Like many other club's who live in the shadow of more illustrious neighbours, City fans have long sought credibility by projecting themselves as a 'real' club with 'real' fans.

However, less than two years after Stuart Pearce led them to a league finish just six points above relegation, many seem to have already forgotten where they came from.

- - -

As tuned into the sporting zeitgeist as ever, ED would love to come up with a clever comparison between the Premier League season and the Masters.

However, Federico Macheda's fortunate deflected winner against Sunderland put the mockers on equating Manchester United's faltering title bid with Kenny Perry's late capitulation. Besides, ED is allergic to dogstooth slacks.

Along with Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal all winning and scoring hatfuls, the best of the rest cancelling each other out and the bottom sides proving mostly as bad as each other, a season that had promised so much looks as though it will end with business as usual.

When the biggest stories to take away from an entire year's worth of football may prove to be Middlesbrough going down and Liverpool finishing second, it's hard to call it a vintage year.

- - -

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Mark Hughes will need time to reshape the club the way he wants. He is building a new team. But he is a very successful manager and I am sure that he will soon have Manchester City challenging for honours." - Wise old head Roy Hodgson tries to put things into perspective for City fans.

FOREIGN VIEW: Any game in which Fenerbahce and Galatasaray square up is never going to be the amicable, shall we say, but last night's game at the Ali Sami Yen Stadium was extra nasty.

With the match grinding towards a 0-0 draw, Fener's Diego Lugano thought he'd spice things up by nutting Galatasaray's Emre in the back of the head, as you do. That Istanbul Kiss sparked off pandemonium both on the pitch and in the stands, with four players getting send off, fans hurling missiles on to the pitch and neither side closing the gap in leaders Sivasspor.

Not only that, but three players and both coaches were sent off in a Brazilian derby between Juventude and Caxias which had been preceded by a so-called Fraternity Breakfast involving leaders of supporters groups, police officials and their own presidents in an attempt to promote peace between the rivals' sets of supporters.

YOUR VIEW: Here's the good, the bad and the ugly from Friday's message board:

kevmun82 - "Market Research has also shown that 100% of ED Writers are bored office workers killing time. But then (old joke alert) 62.8% of statistics are made up on the spot anyway. I actually thought it was a great effort today. Quality over quantity every time ED. And I'm with you on the James Corden thing. A fat bloke getting his belly out every five minutes does not make for good comedy. Although he did do a good job co-writing G & S."

trouble_906 - "If companies removed internet access from employees who do not need to be online, that's most of them, the extra actual work being done would end the recession. Plus this ED @#$% would have about 20 readers so it would be taken off as well. Sounds like heaven to me."

omobobo - "ED... This is freaking annoyingly boring... I could commit suicide reading this... the only piece of interest was the clashes... Monkey balls ED .. Monkeyballs.. P.S. David Ginola is gay... oops, I did it again... godamnit!! Lmao." Hmm... lmao indeed.

COMING UP: All the best Premier League reaction with What the Managers Said,  Winners and Losers and Team of the Week. There might not be any top-flight action today, but there is a full programme in the Championship, League One and League Two, with the first relegation and promotion issues potentially decided. Follow LIVE scoring of it all from 15:00 UK time.

Those MotoGP chaps are going to give the Qatar GP another go after rain caused it to be cancelled on Sunday, and we'll bring you LIVE coverage of that this evening.

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