City fans pine for Dunne as Lescott falters again

Manchester City 3 Burnley 3
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The Independent Football

We will remember them. Manchester City did not have Richard Dunne in mind when they asked an officer from the Royal British Legion to read Laurence Binyon's verse before kick-off but that's how it transpired.

Dunne reluctantly left Manchester on 31 August – since when City have managed one clean sheet – and this contributed to a revisionist interpretation of his worth on Saturday. Dunne was the name City fans were murmuring at half-time and the one which, by 5.30pm, Stan Collymore was hollering to his listeners from a press box where those trying to compose some words of sense from this remarkable match longed for someone to flick a switch to turn him and his power supply off.

Collymore was not making sense, of course. Dunne would no more plug the gaping holes in Hughes' expensive back four than he did when he allowed West Bromwich to carve them up last winter. That game was a month or so after Mark Hughes (below) had flown out to see Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan. Explaining how Joleon Lescott and Wayne Bridge (collective worth £36m) were destroyed by Burnley (collective worth £7m) will make for another unappetising supper at the palace as he heads back out east today.

Lescott's display looked the more calamitous, the penalty he conceded put with his positional play for Steven Fletcher's goal and the equaliser he gifted Fulham in City's last home game making you worry for an individual who worries.

It would help if City had signed a commanding performer to guide Lescott through this time but John Terry is where he was always likely to be this season, leaving Lescott to juggle his own job here with that of Wayne Bridge. Bridge's presence in an area of the field where, if they are not mistaken, City fans remember Peter Barnes used to be, allowed Tyrone Mears and Chris Eagles – both rejects of the Manchester parish – to savour the homecoming.

Bridge's determination to become a wing-back of Ashley Cole proportions may owe something to him trying to prove too much and he has sleep to lose over the January transfer window. "Maybe Bridgey on a couple of occasions made the wrong decisions and things happened from that point, but it wasn't just Wayne," Hughes said. "The trick is to address things before they become consecutive errors. Other people have to react and make sure another one doesn't follow."

Sometimes others do. Kolo Touré rapidly dispossessed David Nugent after he whipped around Lescott and eyed up a Burnley fourth to go with Kevin McDonald's 87th-minute equaliser. But the penalty attached to a club of boundless wealth is that every struggling player has reason to fear that this game might be his last. Perhaps that is why south Manchester property developers will tell you several City players are paying colossal rents on their homes, rather than buying them.

Not so Burnley, a club so lacking in wealth that they must process from their training ground each day to change, shower and eat in a converted hospitality box overlooking the pitch. While Hughes brought on Martin Petrov – so desperate to start more games that he drove wide a shot he should have levelled for Emmanuel Adebayor to wrap up the game – Owen Coyle could turn to Scotland under-21 international McDonald, 21 last Wednesday, who hasn't started all season. "I came here hoping to get a few games in the Championship and I did that. Some of their players cost £30m – but we're all human." True enough, but hardly an argument Hughes can rehearse with the man who is spending the £30m.

Manchester City (4-1-3-2): Given; Zabaleta, Touré, Lescott, Bridge; Barry; Wright-Phillips, Ireland, Bellamy; Tevez (Petrov, 73), Adebayor. Substitutes not used: Taylor (gk), Richards, Johnson, Santa Cruz, De Jong, Weiss.

Burnley (4-1-4-1): Jensen; Mears, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan; Bikey (McDonald, 62); Eagles (Nugent, 71), Alexander, Elliott, Blake (Gudjonsson, 62); Fletcher. Substitutes not used: Penny (gk), Duff, Thompson, Guerrero.

Referee: S Attwell (Warwickshire).

Booked: Man City Bellamy; Burnley Bikey, Mears, Carlisle.

Man of the match: Mears.

Attendance: 47,205.

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