Football: Flitcroft makes Lee feel at home
Sunday 06 February 1994
Griffiths 32, Flitcroft 73
Ipswich Town. . . . 1
THE theme was set for the day by a huge banner across the centre circle. 'Welcome Francis,' it read, and Manchester City's supporters did yesterday, giving the man who had bought the club 14 hours earlier an ovation worthy of someone they had already identified as a saviour.
Francis Lee, the new chairman, accepted the plaudits and then saw the extent of the work required as City made hard work of gaining the three points required to temper the threat of relegation. Finding a new Blue Heaven was never going to be easy, and going behind yesterday did not help, but Gary Flitcroft pointed everyone in the right direction with his 73rd-minute winning goal.
He made amends for his first-half error when his hopelessly misdirected back-pass let in Ian Marshall for Ipswich's goal. 'Gary was the most relieved man in Manchester when the winner went in,' Brian Horton, his manager, said.
His chairman probably ran him close. Lee completed his takeover in the early hours of yesterday, buying 29.9 per cent of the club's shares from Peter Swales and Stephen Boler. He immediately promised the purchase of two or three players and to conform to managerial wishes when it comes to interference. 'I've told Brian Horton I'm there for him,' Lee said. 'If he wants me to go in the dressing-room I will. If he doesn't I won't'
The portents at the start were promising. Ipswich's back four began as if they and not Lee had the worry of parting with pounds 3m and John Wark, with a badly directed back-pass, and the goalkeeper Craig Forrest, with a worse clearance, presented the home team with good opportunities. Carl Griffiths pulled his shot wide, however, and Carl Shutt was so surprised to have an open goal to aim at, albeit from 40 yards away on the touchline, that his shot was sliced for a throw-in.
The defensive disease spread to Flitcroft and as Marshall put Ipswich ahead the urge to recall Lee's most famous comment from his playing days - 'If there was a cup for cock-ups we'd win it every year' - was irresistible. But City pulled themselves together to equalise 14 minutes later when David Rocastle bewitched two defenders by dragging the ball back with the sole of his foot and then crossed low into Ipswich's six-yard box. Griffiths supplied the decisive touch.
Michel Vonk was wide with a header after 59 minutes but just when it was dawning that this might be City's best and last chance they scored again. A free-kick on the left was headed back across goal by Vonk and Flitcroft slid the ball in.
The goal gave City their second win in 17 matches and a beleaguered manager hope. 'I know I'll be judged on results,' Horton said, 'but if the team continues to play and fight like this I'll be all right.'
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...
£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...
£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...
£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...