Football: Royle reads between lines

Manchester City 0 Sheffield United 0

By Guy Hodgson

Manchester City 0 Sheffield United 0

THOSE musical anoraks of the 1960s who used to play Beatles records backwards to supposedly hear "Paul is dead" would have had a field day at Maine Road. The place was knee deep with not-so-hidden warnings.

"A message from the new chairman", the front page of the programme proclaimed, and immediately inside the reader was confronted with the words: "Don't Panic". Further in, an advertisement for "people on the move" featured a picture of Georgi Kinkladze (they could be more tactful). On the pitch the all-girl soul group Cleopatra were singing "Life Ain't Easy".

So many subliminal calls for help, City could keep psychologists busy for years, but that has been the case for 20 years. One day someone will write the headline "No crisis at Maine Road", but, no, not even the Sunday Sport would have the gall to print something that unbelievable.

At the moment there is more chance of meeting Elvis Presley queueing up to get in the Kippax than reading such a soothing message. Don't panic? Joe Royle should be charging round the dressing-room making Corporal Jones look like a statue of calm by comparison.

A minimum requirement if City are not going to drop into the Second Division is winning home matches, so Royle's assertion that this was a point won rather than two lost should be filed under "misguided optimism". For a start, you cannot see where a goal is going to come from.

United were weary after their FA Cup exertions; City were just, well, weary of life. Lee Bradbury had two chances - and no one who has studied his wretched lack of confidence will be surprised that he made a hash of both - while the visitors had only one shot of consequence, from Ian Rush. The rest was a wasteland enlivened only by a punch-up after 10 minutes, instigated by a dreadful tackle by Jamie Pollock.

Without Kinkladze to explore the unusual, City's one tactic was to hoof the ball into the area from corners, a ploy that foundered once Alan Kelly overcame initial and uncharacteristic hesitancy. The game screamed out for the Georgian, but, sadly, the voices are destined for unhearing ears.

Afterwards Royle said what everyone knows: Kinkladze will be leaving City soon. "He's not in the right frame of mind at the moment," he said, referring to the Georgian's dismay at the resignation of the erstwhile chairman, Francis Lee, who he regarded as a mentor. "He looks sullen and moody. The transfer speculation has got to him."

Kinkladze will go, almost certainly, to a foreign club, which will leave City bereft of guile and, in all probability, hope. Wins for Stoke, Bury, Tranmere and Huddersfield were daggers in their prospects for survival, although Royle had to stress the positive. "I've told the players: 'That's your base'. We can do more with the ball but they can't allow themselves to play worse than that." As one cynic added afterwards: "They couldn't be worse, could they?"

What is left but to play "Wonderwall". Backwards. I swear you can hear Liam Gallagher sing: "Please forgive us, Peter Swales".

Manchester City: Margetson; Jobson, Symons, Tskhadadze; Jeff Whitley, Wiekens (Brannan, 83), Pollock, Jim Whitley, Edghill; Bradbury (Dickov, 72), Rosler. Substitute not used: Heaney.

Sheffield United (3-5-2): Kelly; Holdsworth, Marker, Sandford; Borbokis (Devlin, 75), Stuart (Dellas, 47), Ford, Derry, Quinn; Marcello (Taylor, 77), Rush.

Bookings: Manchester City Symons, Pollock; Sheffield United Sandford.

Referee: R Pearson (Peterlee).

Attendance: 28,496.

Man of the match: Ford.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference