Football: Battling Boateng shines as Derby fall away

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The Independent Online
Coventry City 2 Derby County 0

So how much is Dion Dublin worth? How much is George Boateng worth? No, don't look at the figures. They are proof, were it still needed, that the football transfer market in Europe is completely without logic.

Dublin, valued at pounds 4m by his club, has been offered pounds 17,000-a-week to sign a new contract with Coventry, but has turned it down. He was offered pounds 20,000-a-week to join Middlesbrough, but again he has said no.

Boateng, meanwhile, has been transferred to Coventry from Feyenoord. He is the captain of the Dutch Under-21 team and is tipped to progress to the senior side. Feyenoord thought he was worth pounds 4m, too. Coventry bought him for pounds 250,000.

Dublin's two goals in Saturday's all-Premiership tie will only strengthen his agent's hand when the next desperate chairman happens upon his name. It was safe, you see, to let Boro go because there will be another mug along in a moment.

This is not to say that Dublin is not a decent Premiership forward. His pedigree proves that he is. But at 28 he has never represented his country, nor is he likely to. Yet this distorted market says his value is 16 times that of Boateng.

Feyenoord were keen enough to keep Boateng, offering him a new deal, but Coventry's information was that he would not sign because they insisted on playing him at full-back, which he did not consider his position. He was due to become a free agent next summer and so Coventry, in spite of the Dutch club's valuation, were able to sign him for a knock-down price.

At the moment, perhaps, Dublin, as the proven player, is worth more. But at 22, Boateng, whose game combines skill, energy and commitment, has the potential to become an outstanding performer. No wonder Gordon Strachan wore a frown when a bang on the ankle in the last minute led him to be taken off on a stretcher.

In six matches - five of them against sides in the top six of the Premiership - he has already made a significant impact. On Saturday, he set the standard for Coventry, whose willingness to chase, tackle and deny space was the key to victory.

Derby, missing Dean Sturridge, and let down by Francesco Baiano and Paulo Cesar Wanchope's faltering form, were made to look pedestrian, rarely troubling Coventry's goalkeeper, Marcus Hedman.

Both goals resulted from corners on the right. The first was only half- cleared, punted back by Boateng and headed home by Dublin. The second, aimed at the near post, was flicked on by Gary Breen and converted by Dublin on the volley.

Goals: Dublin (39) 1-0; Dublin (45) 2-0.

Coventry City (4-4-2): Hedman; Nilsson, Shaw, Breen, Burrows; Telfer, Boateng (Strachan, 90), Soltvedt, Whelan (Hall, 78); Huckerby (Moldovan, 84), Dublin. Substitutes not used: Ogrizovic (gk), Salako.

Derby County (3-4-1-2): Poom; Laursen, Stimac, Yates; Eranio, Carsley (Rowett, 73), D Powell, C Powell; Baiano (Willems, 64); Wanchope, Burton (Dailly, 73). Substitutes not used: Hoult (gk), Hunt.

Referee: M Bodenham (East Looe).

Bookings: Coventry: Whelan. Derby: Burton, Carsley, Wanchope.

Attendance: 22,824.

Man of the match: Boateng.

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