Blackburn Rovers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2
PAUL GASCOIGNE and Roy Keane sound like a promising midfield partnership. They could cost about pounds 11m at current prices but as this is little more than loose change to Jack Walker it is not impossible that both will be wearing blue-and- white halves next season.
Gazza insists he is staying with Lazio and Keane is said to be about to sign a new contract with Forest but if there is one eternal truth in football it is that money talks.
Yet, on the evidence of this match, the pair might prove an unneccessary luxury. Rovers will fill their new ground, anyway, so they do not need extra attractions - they do need sure-fire winners.
Patrik Andersson, with 10 Swedish caps, and the marvellous Tim Sherwood, came together for the first time and looked to have the making of a formidable combination. Andersson is tall, strong, hard, and can use the ball. With Sherwood, he made City second best in midfield for the first hour. Kare Ingebrigtsen, the new Norwegian, reminded one of Stig Inge Bjornebye's reaction to his first match for Liverpool: bewilderment.
Ingebrigtsen is lighter and slighter but a talented playmaker who will need a minder, a young Steve McMahon or Peter Reid. With Fitzroy Simpson, Gary Flitcoft and perhaps a returning Paul Lake, Reid has some intriguing options.
However, if Rovers played the better football, as they did, why did City win? Reid was honest enough: 'The keeper kept us in the game, we came back from two goals down and the keeper saved us again at the end,' he said.
Alan Shearer should be kicking a ball again this week and his return will almost certainly push Blackburn to the front again. They have not played badly without him but they have been unable to finish off opponents with last autumn's alacrity.
City look more and more a cup team. They do not have the strength in depth for a championship challenge but they can nick goals from minimal opportunities and when the defence is restored to strength they can hold any League opposition. When the Brightwells and Andy Hill are back from injury and Flitcroft from suspension there are possibilities enough to match the dimensions of the spanking new stand on Platt Lane, due to open in a fortnight.
Rovers, without Stuart Ripley, looked lopsided and Jason Wilcox, having to defend more often then he would have wished, was much less effective.
It was ironic that Sherwood, off whose back White's winner was deflected, should be the unwitting cause of defeat because he had an extraordinary match, heading out from Michael Vonk from under his own bar and twice coming close to scoring himself. For all- round virtuosity he had to be compared with, say, the Bryan Robson of five years ago; or Keane.
Goals: Newell (4) 0-1; Phelan og (14) 0-2; Sheron (33) 1-2; Curle pen (73) 2-2; White (80) 3-2.
Manchester City: Coton; Ranson, Phelan, McMahon, Curle, Vonk, White, Sheron, Quinn, Simpson (Ingebrigtsen, 45), Holden. Substitutes not used: Reid, Margetson (gk).
Blackburn Rovers: Mimms; Marker, Dobson, Sherwood, Hendry, Moran (Ireland, 83), Andersson, Atkins, Wegerle, Newell, Wilcox. Substitutes not used: Cowans, Collier (gk).
Referee: M Peck (Kendal).Reuse content