West Ham United. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0
BRIAN HORTON has had the axe hovering over his head for so long he probably thinks it is a glint of steel every time he looks up and sees light in the sky. So it was with some relief he will have greeted this victory last night.
All it required was a 3-0 defeat by Arsenal on Saturday for murmerings to begin in Manchester that the City manager ought not to bother having business cards printed. Prominent in the memory banks is that Peter Reid, his predecessor, was sacked after four matches last season and Francis Lee, the Maine Road chairman, is not noted for his tolerance.
But goals from Paul Walsh, Peter Beagrie and Uwe Rosler eased the worry last night as well as crowning a performance that might have yielded more. On this evidence, City's pre-season optimism may not have been misplaced after all.
Which is more than you can say for West Ham, whose defence last night had all the solidity of their famous bubbles. Trevor Morley might have altered events if his header from Matt Holmes' 26th-minute cross had gone in instead of hitting a post, but that apart it was a pretty miserable performance. Nine months of struggle appears to beckon.
Before this match Horton had urged his players to pass more, something that was sadly lacking at Highbury on Saturday, when reports suggested that to describe City as a shambles would be to flatter them. 'I am sick to death of seeing the ball constantly in he air,' he said. 'Soccer is meant to be played on the ground.'
City are nothing if not perverse, however, and you could have put money on them to score via the aerial route once their manager had put forward this earthy advice. They duly did after 13 minutes, Walsh heading powerfully down from eight yards after Beagrie had crossed precisely from the left.
Three minutes before half- time the provider turned scorer as City made it 2-0 when Beagrie cut in from the left and then hit a low right- foot shot that bobbled and completely bewildered Ludek Miklosko.
Bewildered was pretty much the right word for the entire West Ham back four for City's final goal. Beagrie cut in again from his flank and fired a low shot that Miklosko did well to save. The visitors failed to react and Rosler converted the rebound from six yards.
'Very satisfying,' was how Horton described the match, and for him it undoubtedly was.
Manchester City: (4-4-2): Coton; Hill, Curle, Vonk, Phelan (Lomas, 57); Summerbee, Flitcroft, McMahon, Beagrie; Rosler (Quinn, 80), Walsh. Substitute not used: Dibble (gk).
West Ham United (4-4-2): Miklosko; Breacker, Potts, Martin, Burrows; Allen, Bishop, Butler (Whitbread, 80), Holmes; Morley, Chapman (Marsh, 63). Substitute not used: Feuer (gk).
Referee: R Hart (Darlington).Reuse content