Little joy for Keegan in ransacking dire Palace
Monday 20 September 2004
Crystal Palace 1 Manchester City 2
Victory at Selhurst Park on Saturday took Manchester City into the top half of the Premiership table, but Kevin Keegan has been around long enough to know that this result will have little bearing on his long-term future. "I'm safe for a week," the City manager admitted.
Beating Crystal Palace was like taking sweets off a five-year-old. Iain Dowie's team did not go down without a fight and showed admirable spirit to the end, but if City cannot beat a team looking so badly out of their depth then Keegan should start clearing his office. While they rarely dominated, City looked superior in every area.
When you look at the quality in Keegan's squad - not to mention the money he has spent - it is small wonder that his future has been questioned by fans and media. Since going fifth with victory at Southampton last November, City have won only six of 33 Premiership matches. For the moment the former England manager has the backing of his board, but there is no escaping that City are under-achieving.
There was evidence to back Keegan's assertion that there is little wrong with his team's commitment, the manager emphatically denying reports of a rift with the defender Danny Mills. City worked hard and their refusal to give Dowie's men time on the ball was crucial.
"If there were any cracks in our armour, any weakness or disarray in our camp, they would have been shown here today because the one thing Palace do is fight you," Keegan said. "I am safe for a week. We have tough games coming up and maybe the pressure will come back, but maybe you [the media] will move your circus somewhere else, take it to another town and maybe some poor other guy will get the stick I have got this week." Maybe. Those tough games ahead are at home to Arsenal and Chelsea and away to Southampton and Newcastle. While Keegan's team have enough quality to cope with the likes of Palace, City supporters have a right to expect more than victories over the Premiership's basement teams.
Keegan can at least be thankful that Nicolas Anelka is finding his form. Although the Frenchman performed in fits and starts here, his two goals took his season's tally to five. His first strike, a sweetly struck shot from 15 yards, provided the game's one moment of true striking quality. Anelka doubled the lead with a penalty after Danny Granville had brought down Shaun Wright-Phillips on 64 minutes.
City squandered at least half a dozen other good chances, although none were more clear-cut than the opportunity spurned by Palace's Sandor Torghelle in the first half. Wayne Routledge's cross found the Hungarian in space five yards out, but his miscued shot summed up Palace's day.
After five successive defeats it is hard to see where Palace's first win will come from. Andy Johnson, such a threat during last season's promotion campaign, barely got a sniff of the ball here and his strike partner, Torghelle, looks one-paced and one-dimensional. Nicola Ventola, on loan from Internazionale, brought some quality after coming on as a substitute and got Palace back into the game when a storming run was ended by Sylvain Distin's foul, Johnson converting the penalty. City were on the back foot for the remaining quarter of an hour, but a defence marshalled by Richard Dunne was rarely threatened.
Goals: Anelka (55) 0-1; Anelka pen (64) 0-2; Johnson pen (77) 1-2.
Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Speroni; Boyce, Hudson, Hall, Granville; Routledge, Riihilahti (Watson, 70), Hughes, Derry (Kolkka, 60); Torghelle (Ventola, 60), Johnson. Substitutes not used: Kiraly (gk), Powell.
Manchester City (4-4-2): James; Mills, Dunne, Distin, Thatcher; Wright-Phillips, Reyna, Barton, Sibierski; Anelka, Macken (Jihai, 88). Substitutes not used: Waterreus (gk), Fowler, Bosvelt, Flood.
Bookings: Crystal Palace: Hall, Hughes. Manchester City: Sibierski, Distin.
Referee: M Atkinson (W Yorkshire).
Man of the match: Dunne.
Latest in Sport
Raheem Sterling to Manchester City: Winger to report for Liverpool training on Monday but Reds braced for third City bid this week
Women's World Cup 2015: England secure third place as they beat Germany in extra time with penalty by Fara Williams
Angel Di Maria and Marcos Rojo could miss Manchester United's crucial Champions League play-off due to Copa America run
PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
Nick Kyrgios fans show their support by smearing Vegemite and Nutella on their faces amid Wimbledon run
- 1 BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
- 4 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 5 Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture