Thursday, January 31, 2008

Derby 1 City 1

It really did seem at one point that we were set to really come unstuck had we gone down to defeat last night at Pride Park, but thankfully some resillience was shown by the side following Sunday's FA Cup exit and Danny Sturridge scored for the second game running to rescue a point - and importantly the way other results went last night, keep us in the hunt for the European positions.

Sven has talked much of mental tiredness in the squad, and coupled with him busily trying to add players in before the deadline passes, he opted to make a swathe of changes with Elano, Mpenza, Hamman and Onouha all notably not in the starting eleven.

At his point, and amidst some of the restlessness from fans over recent results and performances, it is worth just taking a step back and reflecting on where we currently area and just what progress has been made this season given the lack of squad depth in comparison to the sides around us, but importantly just what was expected as we headed into the season.

A top ten finish was the instruction from the new owners for this season and the majority (certainly myself) echoed this as a reasonable position given the hectic way in which the squad was assembled under Sven and the time it takes to get a side challenging for Europe (evidenced by Everton and Aston Villa being ahead of us in that respect), from being a side who flirted with the wrong end of the table.

Talk of a Champions League position was nice at the time, if a little fanciful and it was inevitable at some stage we would hit a rough patch and things would not quite go our way or one or two key players would see a dip in form, all of which naturally result in a slide down the table.

A look through the squad (and those on the fringes) tells us we are well set for the future in terms of the quality both progressing through and added by Sven and with additions before this window closes and next summer, then I feel is the time where expectations can really be higher.

In reality, perhaps just now is a time to check those expectations a little.

Match reports:

Manchester City rolled another product off their Academy conveyer-belt last night in the shape of Daniel Sturridge, a striker with a famous family name, and he popped up with the equaliser that prevented a humiliating defeat at the Premier League's bottom club. >> The Telegraph.

MANCHESTER City had to come from a goal down to draw with rock-bottom Derby as the Blues' unconvincing form continued at Pride Park.

Youngster Daniel Sturridge scored his second goal in two games to haul City level after a Sun Jihai own-goal had put the Rams ahead. >> MEN.

Daniel Sturridge's goal for Manchester City denied Paul Jewell his first league win in charge of Derby County.

Sturridge's first Barclays Premier League goal kept Manchester City's European ambitions on track as they denied Derby County a long overdue victory at Pride Park. >>

City stumbled to an unconvincing 1-1 draw against all-but relegated Derby County at Pride Park as Daniel Sturridge's first Premier League goal cancelled out Sun Jihai's own goal to give the Blues a point.

Darius Vassell squandered two gilt-edged one-on-one opportunities to win the game and in truth City should have had the points wrapped up by half time. >> Blue View.

Derby County's modest aim of avoiding the lowest final points total in modern times – Sunderland's 15 two seasons ago – would have received a useful boost had they been able to hold on to a rare lead last night. Sun Jihai's own goal right at the start of the second half put them in front for once, but Manchester City's Daniel Sturridge equalised on his Premier League debut to leave Paul Jewell's side with only eight points from 24 games, seven short of Sunderland's unwanted record. >> The Independent.

Sven Goran Eriksson was left frustrated as his wasteful Manchester City side failed to clobber the worst side in the Premier League. >> The Mirror.

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