Football: Spectre of old boys haunts Maine Road: Bishop shows up City's flaws

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

West Ham United. . . . . . . . . . . . .0

IT was a day for Manchester City old boys. Neil Young came on the pitch to recall the past and Ian Bishop strode around it to remind Maine Road of what could have been the present. Set in the context of this match, neither put the present team in a pleasing light.

Young was an inside-forward remembered nationally for the goal which won the 1969 FA Cup. Locally, talk fondly lingers over his silky touches. Now, a player of his skill would stick out like an FA Cup tie win by a Premiership team.

As indeed did Bishop on Saturday. His passing became the dominant factor in a match that was a disappointing second instalment of the anticipated revival led by Francis Lee. Infuriatingly inconsistent at times, Bishop flitted around the centre of the pitch prompting West Ham attacks with precisely weighted through balls and occasional dribbles.

It made for an uncomfortable afternoon for City fans, who applauded Bishop's name in recognition of services past when it was announced before the start but hardly cheered his prominence afterwards. West Ham twice had the ball in the City net in the second half but Clive Allen and Lee Chapman's celebrations were cut short by offside rulings.

By then City should have been so far ahead that any West Ham goals would have been a consolation. The home team held an overwhelming territorial advantage in the first 45 minutes but woeful crossing squandered much of it and the closest they came to scoring was a shot from Keith Curle that was headed off the line by Mike Marsh.

It added urgency to the search of the manager, Brian Horton, for a striker to replace the injured Niall Quinn. 'We need a top-class goalscorer,' he said. 'We had seven clear chances which is more than enough to win a match.'

Horton can do nothing to supplement his attack until Lee completes a spring clean of the club's financial position. When he took over as chairman he said that would take a fortnight, a term that runs out at the end of this week. 'We will start taking stock after this game,' he wrote in the programme. 'If everyone was fit we would only be a couple (of players) short of a very good side.'

They looked a long way short of that on Saturday.

Manchester City (4-4-2): Coton; Edghill, Curle (Kernaghan, 32), Vonk, Phelan; Rocastle, McMahon, Flitcroft, Sheron; Shutt (Lomas, 73), Griffiths. Substitute not used: Dibble (gk).

West Ham United (4-4-2): Miklosko; Breacker, Brown, Potts, Rowland; Marsh (Marquis, 87), Bishop, M Allen, Holmes; C Allen (Morley, 75), Chapman. Substitute not used: Kelly (gk).

Referee: V Callow (Solihull).