Late Saints' flurry not enough on desperate day for Wigley
Southampton 0 Manchester City 0
Monday 04 October 2004
Only one thing was settled at St Mary's Stadium on Saturday - the question of what happens when a resistible force meets a moveable object. Right now, City cannot score. And Southampton cannot play.
Only one thing was settled at St Mary's Stadium on Saturday - the question of what happens when a resistible force meets a moveable object. Right now, City cannot score. And Southampton cannot play. It is a state of affairs which, naturally enough, is causing the teams' respective managers, Kevin Keegan and Steve Wigley, rising anxiety.
"I've had no trouble sleeping," said Wigley. "But I do wake up earlier, with things going through my mind." Among the things that will be crowding into his consciousness this week is what to do now that his main striker, James Beattie, is out for approximately a month after sustaining a suspected broken toe early in this match.
Beattie's replacement, the 6ft 7in Peter Crouch, never looked like breaking the deadlock for the home side, despite the fact that their main - and at times, only - tactic, was lumping the ball forward from defence. It was awful to watch, without even the saving grace of being effective. Despite this, the home supporters responded to Wigley's request to get behind their team. But the boos at half-time, and full-time, showed how many of them really feel.
As for City - they dominated the first half, and much of the second, without ever suggesting they could actually profit from it. Nicolas Anelka looked like an elegant misfit within the action, but his contribution, significant as it was, still had an element of detachment. Alongside him - when he caught up - John Macken operated at a pace which, if you were being charitable, you might call leisurely.
Had it been the absent Robbie Fowler, freed for a shot on goal by Joey Barton's 35th-minute through-ball, he would surely have given City the lead they deserved. As it was, the chance fell to Sun Jihai, who produced a shot so pathetic that he briefly covered his face with his shirt in shame.
It was Southampton, so bereft of initiative, who might have claimed the points in the final seven minutes of the match. First, after Shaun Wright-Phillips gave possession away, Kevin Phillips and Gavin McCann broke with only Richard Dunne defending, but failed to convert the opportunity.
Then, in the last move of the match, Phillips was unable to lob David James after Sylvain Distin's missed header had let him in. As it was, Southampton had to be satisfied with only their second point from six games under Wigley.
"If I only get two points from the next six games, we all know what football is like - I would not expect to be sat here," he admitted. His problems are exacerbated by the fact that, according to an agreement between the Premier League and the League Managers' Association, he needs to have a coaching licence by 14 December. The club are planning to employ another coach with suitable qualifications.
"I'm speaking to someone at the moment," Wigley said. "It will be my choice. They definitely will not be above me - there will not be a Director of Football or anything like that."
Unfortunately for the likeable Wigley, there remain other more pressing matters to sort out if he is to retain his tenure.
Southampton (4-4-2): Niemi; Nilsson, Lundekvam, Jakobsson, Le Saux (Van Damme, h-t); Fernandes (McCann, 66), Prutton, Delap, Svensson; Beattie (Crouch, 21), Phillips. Substitues not used Blayney, Kenton.
Manchester City (4-4-2): James; Mills, Distin, Dunne, Thatcher; S Wright-Phillips, Barton, Bosvelt, Jihai; Anelka, Macken. Substitutes not used McManaman, B Wright-Phillips, Sommeil, Flood, Waterreus.
Referee U Rennie (South Yorkshire).
Man of the match Anelka.
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