It’s quite strange turning up for a pre-season friendly at a ground you’ve previously visited as one of 26,000+ supporters. The City turnout at hillsbrough was decent, looked to be around 500 or so but it was still comparatively tiny. Parking 500 yards from the ground, walking straight up to the (dry) bar and getting served and then having the pick of any seat is quite odd. Hillsborough is still what it is, a big old ground, not particularly pretty but quite nice. I can’t see it as a World Cup venue myself, comparing it to the venues from the World Cup in Japan and Korea is like comparing Geovanni with Jamie Wood.
First observation was that there was no Myhill, Garcia or Jerome Thomas. I’ve since learnt that Myhill and Garcia are injured and Thomas has been let go. So much for our theory that perhaps he’d gone home to pack for China! He looked decent in the games I saw him in but apparently didn’t impress at Carlisle on Tuesday. A shame because he has great pace but he didn’t look like he might deliver a killer ball. City lined up with The Duke in goal, Mendy, Turner, Gardner and Kilbane across the back, Fagan, Marney, Boateng and Halmosi in midfield and Cousin and Folan up front. For 35 minutes it was a pretty muted half. City looked tidy but non threatening and the Wendies likewise. They broke through twice after sloppy City defending, Clarke knocking one past the post (when offside anyway) and then shooting straight at Duke when clear a second time. We created nothing for 35 mins and then made four chances in ten minutes. Folan headed wide from a great Fagan cross, Marney lashed a shot miles wide after Cousin had done well to hold the ball up, Cousin failed to connect with another belting ball in from Fagan and then Cousin scuffed a volley wide from 6 yards after Folan’s flick on had gifted him an easy chance.
All of our threat came down the right where Fagan and Mendy linked up well for the most part. Boateng also got in good crossing positions on the right but crossed terribly. Cousin and Folan looked far too similar to play together, sometimes ending up on the same blade of grass. Both did OK, Folan looked sharp and worked hard and Cousin looked strong and also worked harder than normal but they both looked like they needed someone to play off them. They only linked up well once, that being Folan’s flick on from a long throw. Otherwise, they were just two individuals who happened to be wearing the same kit. Marney tried to get into the game but was fouled almost everytime he found space. Boateng looked like an old man again. Defensively, we were OK but caught sleeping a couple of times. Mendy at right back was interesting. He did some good things, won some tackles and made some blocks but wants to get forward too often and isn’t in any hurry to cover back. The highlight of the half was looking up and seeing the stand behind the goal was totally empty except for two giant cuddly owls sat in the tenth row having the strangest looking conversation since ‘Mr Charisma’ Barrack Obama met ‘Mr Less-charisma-than-Terry-Dolan’ Gordon Brown.
The initial changes at half time saw Cousin and Folan replaced by Geo and Barmby, with Fagan moving up front and Geo to the right of midfield, and Warner replacing Duke. It would probably have made sense for Cousin or Folan to play with Fagan, Geo or Barmby in each half but I suppose it had to be tried. I’ll be worried if it’s tried again. The second half started poorly and the degenerated into farce as throughout the last half hour, City introduced Doyle, Mouyokolo, Zayatte, Dawson, Devitt, Hughes, Featherstone and Atkinson. Wednesday had the better of the chances, forcing two great stops from Warner (one when the offside flag was up) and a magnificent goal line clearance from Zayatte. For us, Halmosi and Fagan headed over when they should have done far, far better, Marney burst through form Midfield and then shot over with his left foot, Barmby failed to square across for Geo when he’d have had a tap in and Atkinson lashed an effort onto a Wednesday hand on the goal line but despite calls for a penalty, the referee rightly waved it away as there was nothing the defender could do to get out of the way. Fagan was our best player throughout and looked our best attacker. His running in behind caused problems and he did a great job of moving wide and picking the ball up. The only problem with that was that it left no-one in the box to cross the ball into. What we really need is a machine that allows us to put Fagan, Barmby, Folan and Cousin in at one end and a complete striker will appear out of the other end, one with Fagan’s pace, Folan’s height, Cousin’s strength and Barmby’s brain. If anyone can invent one before the end of the month, drop me a mail!
The changes rendered it a pretty pointless exercise second half but some uncharacteristic slips from Turner and Gardner were worrying. If anyone hadn’t seen Mouyokolo before today, their first impression of him would have been him gracefully running onto a Featherstone pass and proceeding to stand on the ball! The game petered out though City nearly nicked a winner. We wandered off under the Sheffield sun, following three very attractive young ladies in City shirts. They turned some heads. One Wednesday fan got a telling off for tailing off a conversation with his wife/girlfriend to watch the girls walk by. As one old bloke so succinctly put it “They’re’t tidy”. Hull Girls One Sheffield Girls Nil. A better result than the footy.