As Manchester City prepare to travel to Selhurst Park on Saturday to take on Crystal Palace, this edition of Halcyon Digest takes a look back to the corresponding fixture in the 2004/05 season.
It was 18 September 2004 and with City boss, Kevin Keegan, facing increasing media pressure after a poor start to the season which had wielded just one win in five games, three points, no matter how it was achieved, was the order of the day. Indeed, Keegan was acutely aware of the scrutiny that he and his team were under. In a show of defiance he said “I’ve been buried alive from what I’ve heard, but I’ve got a stay of execution.” Of course, he was afforded the opportunity to come out fighting as City managed to earn a much deserved win.
The first half was a typically scrappy affair; symptomatic of two teams struggling for form, but it was City who really should have been ahead at the interval. It wasn’t until after the break that City finally found a break through courtesy of Nicholas Anelka. After the Frenchman’s corner was cleared, City managed to work the ball out to the left where Anelka, in acres of space, turned his full back inside out before firing a low slot shot across the face of Julian Speroni’s goal into the corner.
Jon Macken could have easily helped doubled the Blues’ lead moments later as he fired into the side netting rather than squaring the ball to an unmarked Anelka who was waiting for an easy tap in. Fortunately, City weren’t left ruing their missed opportunity as Shaun Wright-Phillips was brought down by former City man, Danny Granville, and awarded a penalty. Anelka duly converted to put City in control.
Palace did put some late pressure on the travelling Blues as Andrew Johnson converted a penalty, but Keegan’s side managed to hold on for their first away win of the season. The result moved City up to 10th in the league, ahead of Manchester United, whilst Palace remained bottom.
As alluded to earlier, Keegan came out fighting in his post-match press conference. He said:
You can argue that a side like ours should beat a side like Palace, but that’s being blasé about the Premiership. Our confidence was low, theirs was low and it showed.
A few of the players were saying, ‘What if we lose today, what if we lose again in midweek? We’ve got Arsenal next Saturday.’ I prefer to look at it another way. I said, ‘What if we win today, knock Barnsley out of the Carling Cup and become the team to end Arsenal’s run?’ When I went to Liverpool from Scunthorpe, Bill Shankly told me that I would play for England. I said, ‘I know I will’. That’s the kind of person I am.
I’m safe for a week. We’ve got some tough games coming up, but the media circus can go and find some other poor guy for a while.
City XI: David James, Danny Mills, Sylvain Distin, Richard Dunne, Ben Thatcher, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Antoine Sibierski, Claudio Reyna, Joey Barton, Nicholas Anelka, Jon Macken (Sun Jihai 88).
Subs: Fowler, Bosvelt, Waterreus, Flood.
On this day, Anastacia was sitting at number 26 in the UK Singles Chart with Sick and Tired.
Romantic-comedy film Wimbledon, starring Paul Bettany and Kirsten Dunst, also premièred this week.
Written by Rob Toole