Football: Praise be to City's support

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The Independent Online
Manchester City. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

Arsenal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

THE applause that greeted the City players at the end of this match spoke volumes about the sort of club and kind of support Francis Lee will inherit when his consortium finally takes over at Maine Road.

He often earned the cheers of the Kippax, but in his playing days they were harder come by than this tame goalless draw against an Arsenal side more intent on keeping their sixth consecutive clean sheet than causing their opponents any further embarrassment.

Compared with City's recent Premiership results, of course, this was something of a triumph, and the Arsenal manager, George Graham, afterwards praised their team spirit and commitment. But there was precious little else to praise about either side.

Brian Horton, the City manager, took encouragement from the performance of his back four and Richard Edghill certainly inspired confidence, but those around him were too often prone to error in potentially dangerous places to bring the Rock of Gibraltar to mind.

It was another rock or rather Rocky - David Rocastle - who caught the eye in his new colours and against his old club, though he sometimes tried too hard to show Arsenal what they were missing.

Apart from one Rocastle-inspired attack, Arsenal's defence was as infallible as their recent record suggests. If only their attackers were as consistent. Ray Parlour worried away down the right without ever providing much in the way of service for the lacklustre Ian Wright and Kevin Campbell.

As the match subsided towards its inevitable conclusion there were cries of 'Boring Arsenal', but 'Colourless City' would have been equally appropriate. It cried out for someone with the flair and creativity to raise the temperature. Someone like Francis Lee, perhaps.

Manchester City (4-3-3): Coton; Lomas, Edghill, Kernaghan, Brightwell (Sheron, 74); Ingebrigtsen Groenendijk (Flitcroft, 60), Rocastle; Phelan, Griffiths, Vonk. Substitute not used: Dibble (gk).

Arsenal (4-4-2): Seaman; Dixon, Adams, Bould, Winterburn; Parlour, Hillier, Jensen (Keown, 81), McGoldrick (Merson, 14); Campbell, Wright. Substitute not used: Miller (gk).

Referee: D Allison (Lancaster).