City young bloods warm boss' heart

Brian Horton must be beginning to feel snug in the combustible arena that is Maine Road, given that he's wearing conspicuous jackets with the word Boss stitched into the lining.

As a fashion statement, it shows that Manchester City have got themselves a class act. In terms of footballing ability, he remains an understated quantity. But supporters will take him to their hearts should he succeed in a task that would destroy lesser men.

The signs are encouraging. The 1-1 draw against a similarly oppressed Liverpool was neither the result he wanted, nor City merited. But in the circumstances - where the fans don't know whether to back the team or vilify the chairman - it will have to do.

There is little point in being churlish about a couple of dropped points when Peter Swales is surrounded by more protection than the President of the United States, and his general manager John Maddock is spat upon whenever he walks into the ground. These people purport to support the club but are they, in reality, dangerous subversives?

They hardly deserve the brand of football City's young, trendy players are offering them. There's hope there, too, in abundance. Horton senses the start of something extremely good at City - as one defeat in nine games indicates - but he's attempting to bring youngsters up in an atmosphere that could seriously damage their potential.

The class of '93 includes Mike Sheron and Garry Flitcroft, who have already established themselves in the England Under-21 side. Behind them in age and experience are Richard Edghill and Steve Lomas. Both have been tipped for the fullest honours.

Horton confessed he should have kept Lomas in the side, rather than restrict him to 37 minutes as a substitute. This was Edghill's seventh consecutive appearance. He has just signed a four-year contract and he is a right-back of rare perception and authority for one so young.

Unfortunately, when the game was there to be won against Liverpool, he and a couple of others tried to play it too calmly. If there is a crying need for our young players to show composure on the ball and good movement off it, then there is also the demand for security that comes with team success.

"We made our own problems at 1-0," said Horton. "It started with the young boy Edghill. It's a shame because we want him to play in the right manner, but on the occasion that led to their goal he should have hit it 60 yards way out of danger."

"But he's a young kid learning the game as is Lomas and I thought Flitcroft had the best game for us since I came here. They're all smashing lads with great attitudes. They want to win. We switched it around to 4-4-2 at half-time and we're all disappointed, because we should have won the game."

If there was any consolation for the chairman - who left at half-time to attend a wedding - the goal came so late there wasn't time to round up enough people to start the familiar 'Swales Out' chant.

What it did do was offer Graeme Souness more of the breathing space he received in the previous week when two goals in the last three minutes did for Oldham at Anfield. Instead of no points, heaps of abuse and a place in the bottom half of the table, Liverpool have two points, leaving detractors to gnash their teeth.

"We had several young players out there and the longer the game went on, they found it harder to stay involved," Souness said. "It's the second time in a week we've come back from the dead and we never gave up, so that's encouraging."

Just as City are proud of their clutch of teenagers, so Liverpool have unearthed a couple of gems. Much has already been said about Robbie Fowler, but Dominic Matteo's debut demanded attention - for the lad's cosmopolitan background as much as anything. England, Scotland and Italy may want his services.

"He's a young boy with an awful lot to offer," said the manager who has shown a willingness to entrust his future to people half his age. "We just don't yet know his best position."

At the head of the long-in-the-tooth brigade, Steve McMahon did not mind the tear-aways taking all the limelight. "They played brilliantly," he said. "Take a lad like Edghill, who has come into the side and played like a seasoned campaigner. He's got two good feet and a smashing temperament. There are more good kids coming through across the country."

"They are being given their chance by their clubs, which is good. And if we're wanting to see the players who can play their part in the next European Championships with England three years down the road, then why not blood them now?"

Flitcroft, Sheron, Lomas, Edghill, Fowler, Matteo - all English and all talented - gave the game it's edge. But it was left to the older stagers, notably McMahon, Bruce Grobbelaar, Ian Rush, and, if he'll forgive me calling him an old stager, Niall Quinn, to determine the outcome. Grobbelaar distinguished himself with one magnificent save from Quinn - in the class of Bryan Gunn's against Bayern last week - when City's tails were up after David White rose above the fog of a dismal performance to roll home.

Rushie equalised a minute from time, stabbing in from a couple of feet. The draw means Liverpool are now 14 points behind leaders Manchester United.

But Rush has a message: "I remember the season United lad by ten points at one stage and who caught them? We did."

But that was then and this is now. Liverpool for the title? Even at a ground which lacks humour these days, those Cityites who hate their chairman more than United, would find that highly amusing.

Copyright -  The Daily Mail

Liverpool rescued as ref adds 13 minutes

Rush's late, late equaliser for Liverpool came as the referee added an incredible 13 minutes injury time!

Six minutes were added in the first half and seven in the second to make a total of 103 minutes.

City manager Brian Horton joked: "I thought they were going to put the floodlights on. I know some of the fans left before the goal - I was going at a quarter-to-five."

"I went to see the referee to ask him to explain and he admitted he had played six minutes over in the first half and seven in the second."

"The linesmen both agreed with him and you can't argue with that."

But Horton, who said he was disappointed that Rush snapped up his one chance of the match in the 88th minute to earn Liverpool a point, added: "The game is played until the ref blows his whistle."

Copyright - Daily Express

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