Few players last for only a season at a club, manage to be so God-awful that they’re ridiculed weekly by their own supporters, yet find that their nine months were filled with more highlights than some entire careers. To say that it never really worked for Bernardo Corradi at Manchester City is a bit of an understatement – his strike rate of a goal every 641 minutes left a hell of a lot to be desired.
His red card rate was almost better than that.
Corradi joined the Blues for an undisclosed fee in July 2006, having been let go by Valencia after a loan spell with Parma. City were spending on a budget and trying to cut corners when it came to staying in the division. It certainly showed – the forward didn’t find the net until November, 11 games after joining his new club.
The first of his two strikes against Fulham, in what would turn out to be a 3-1 victory at Eastlands, came 759 minutes after he stepped onto the pitch for his debut at Stamford Bridge the previous August. To put that into context, the first of the Italian’s two red cards came 63 minutes into his career in England, in what would finish 3-0 to Chelsea on the opening day of the season.
Already on a yellow card mid-way through the second half for a previous indiscretion, the referee had little option to show his a second for a swipe at Michael Essien on the touchline. It was a needless foul, borne out of frustration, though quite how the Chelsea midfielder managed to escape a caution for helping the Italian to his feet by pulling on his not inconspicuous amount of hair still raises questions.
Matches came and went and the fans wondered if Corradi would ever score for the Blues. Following his debut, he made appearances for the club against Arsenal, Reading, Blackburn, Chesterfield, West Ham, Everton, Sheffield United, Wigan, Middlesbrough, Charlton and Newcastle, and he didn’t trouble the goalkeeper in any of them.
The unlucky visitors to Eastlands were Fulham, where two of the Italian’s three strikes for the club came in a mad first half. Bearing in mind City scored just ten home league goals that 2006-07 season, the 3-1 victory over the London side saw nearly a third of all of the club’s efforts that campaign – and Corradi got two of them.
The first, after just 12 minutes, saw a long ball from Nicky Weaver headed clear by Zat Knight. It came back towards its first target quickly – he knocked it down and Georgios Samaras flicked it into the air, where Corradi ran through. As it dropped in the box, he lashed it into the net at the near post on the volley.
He became the first Italian to score for the club.
It was just 20 minutes later when he doubled his and City’s tally. It’s not really like Corradi goals were like buses that you wait so long and two come at once because he only netted one more after this, but you get the idea. A clear foul in the midfield wasn’t punished, Joey Barton picked up possession and drove through, he slide Corradi in and his shot left the goalkeeper standing. In celebration, the Italian pulled the corner flag from its stand and used it to knight Barton.
It might have been sliced, only he can truly tell you.
“I am very happy,” he told Match of the Day afterwards. “Since I arrive here in Manchester City I have been working so hard and this is a good result for starting to score goals. When you are a forward it is very important to score goals, to have confidence, to feel that you are ok.
“Playing in the Premiership is so different to playing in Italy, so maybe I took a little bit of time to get used to it.
“[In celebration] we tried to do something special for supporters to enjoy and maybe next time we try to arrange something different.
“I should have scored another goal in the second half, but the goalkeeper made a good save. Maybe I save some goals for the next match.”
Or maybe he wouldn’t – it was another 11 games, or three months, or 835 minutes, before he netted again. It actually took him longer to follow up his opening goals than it did to open his account for the club in the first place. This time it came at Portsmouth and was the equaliser in what would turn out to be a 2-1 defeat – he headed a deep cross into the net and celebrated with a Hadouken by the corner flag.
It was in the weeks leading up to that game, though, that he hit the headlines once more. In the final seconds of the Manchester Derby, and with City losing 3-1 at Old Trafford, the Italian had a chance to run through at goal. Already on a yellow card, he went down under no challenge as he entered the box.
The referee didn’t buy it and produced a second yellow – meaning he was sent off for a second time at the club.
Manager Pearce wasn’t impressed: “I have no complaints about the sending off. Bernardo went down a little bit too easily and I am not like the other 19 managers, who would sit here and give you a load of cock and bull about it.
“I would prefer him to stay on his feet and I intend to speak to him about it this week. Hopefully then, he will stay on his feet.”
Corradi lost his place to Emile Mpenza for the final weeks of the season and, despite a good preseason under new boss Sven-Goran Eriksson ahead of the 2007-08 campaign, he was never seen again in the first team. He was loaned to Parma for the season, before being released ahead of his final year in 2008-09.
Written by David Mooney
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