Window gives City stalwarts worrying view of the future
Fulham 1 Manchester City 1
Monday 08 December 2008
Fabio Capello was in the crowd but it was not just the Englishmen who were undergoing auditions at Craven Cottage on Saturday. The High Streets are counting down the shopping days to Christmas but at Manchester City they are looking a week further ahead, to New Year's Day and the opening of the transfer window.
City insist most of the stellar names linked with the club are purely speculative. Given the improbability of prising the likes of Iker Casillas or Lionel Messi away from their clubs mid-season – and who believes these millionaires would join a middling English club's quest for a Uefa Cup place just for a pay rise? – their denials are unlikely to be disproved. City will be one of the window's major players. It is just that their recruits are unlikely to be the marquee signings the owners hanker after. For the player who is dropped, however, it matters little whether it is Lassana Diarra or Kaka who has taken his place. Premier League footballers are always under pressure but City's must feel like contestants on The X Factor.
Didier Hamann is the kind of unspectacular but quietly valuable player often tossed aside when a club gets starry-eyed. He showed his usual efficiency on Saturday as City began well, Benjani heading in from the impressive Pablo Zabaleta's cross, wobbled, then rallied, to deservedly share the points with Fulham whose good form was underlined by the flowing move for Jimmy Bullard's equaliser. Hamann then explained he was focused on his own work rather than worrying about possible replacements.
"It's not in our hands who is coming in in January," he said. "[But] our manager has said whoever plays well and applies himself the way he should do has a future at the club."
Hughes suggested the speculation was hysterical but confirmed City's intent when he said: "I don't think there are going to be many clubs looking to spend in the window so we may have a competitive advantage." But he added: "Clubs do not have to sell."
"Every player in every country wants to ply his trade in the Premier League," said Fulham's experienced manager, Roy Hodgson. "But you'd have to be very, very sure about the players you'd be bringing in."
Goals: Benjani (5) 0-1; Bullard (26) 1-1.
Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky; Dempsey, Murphy, Bullard, Davies; Zamora, Johnson. Substitutes not used: Zuberbuhler (gk), Nevland, Kallio, Gera, Andreasen, Etuhu, Stoor.
Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Hart; Zabaleta, Ben Haim, Dunne, Ball; Hamann, Kompany; Vassell, Wright-Phillips, Ireland; Benjani (Evans, 76) Substitutes not used: Schmeichel (gk), Onuoha, Jo, Caicedo, Evans, Logan, Berti.
Referee: R Styles (Waterlooville).
Booked: Fulham Pantsil, Bullard; Manchester City Ireland.
Man of the match: Bullard.
Latest in Sport
Luckless Abou Diaby full of confidence as he attempts yet another Arsenal comeback
Arturo Vidal: Midfielder must ask to join Manchester United, say Juventus
Scottie dogs in Commonwealth Games opening ceremony 'disrespectful to Muslims', say Malaysian politicians
Calum Chambers joins Arsenal: Gunners complete £16m transfer of right-back
Manchester United latest: Angel Di Maria move no closer as Juan Mata emerges as Louis van Gaal's favoured No 10 as prospect of signing
- 1 'Women should not laugh in public,' says Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister in morality speech
- 2 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 3 Is Ebola coming to Britain? UK health officials issue warning to doctors as outbreak fears grow
- 4 Richard Dawkins says 'date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse' on Twitter
- 5 Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc