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Man City v Fulham - Match preview

last updated Saturday 14th August 2004, 9:10 AM
Fulham Manager Chris Coleman

Fulham manager Chris Coleman could hand debuts to no less than four of his summer signings when they travel to The City of Manchester Stadium.

"The first game of the season is always massive. The start of the season is so important - just like the Christmas and Easter periods.

"We've got to make sure that we put ourselves in a strong position. Man City will be coming out with a point to prove and we've got to make sure that we don't feel the backlash. Kevin Keegan is a winner and I'm sure that he won't be taking us lightly just as we won't be taking them lightly. It will be a good game."

"I think the whole season will be tough for the simple reason that last year went very well and we proved a lot of people wrong. The pressure was off me for the first two or three months because people were just waiting for me to slip up. If we won a game it wasn't because of me doing anything right, it was because we were a little fortunate. I'm under no illusions; it's going to be a very tough year."

  • FULHAM last season achieved their best ever Premiership placing on the top division's lowest average gate of 16,240. This is their fourth successive campaign in the Premiership, where they've finished 13th, 14th and last season ninth - eclipsing their club record highest League placing of 10th in 1959/60.
  • The Cottagers have won their opening fixture in seven of the last nine League seasons, including the last two (4-1 home to Bolton in 2002, and 3-2 home to Middlesbrough last season). Victory at the City of Manchester stadium would be a boost ahead of their return to a refurbished Craven Cottage against Bolton next Saturday (21 August).
  • Fulham have lost two and drawn two of their Premiership fixtures with City, and have not registered a top tier maximum on City turf for 41 years, since the 2-3 success on 29 March 1963.
  • Embarking on only their 16th season in the top tier of English football.
  • Kept 15 clean sheets in the top division last term. Only Chelsea, with 21, managed more.
  • Not lost in five Premiership games on the road - conceding one goal in the five games.
  • Won two and drawn three on their League travels since losing 2-1 at Chelsea on 20 March.
    HEAD TO HEAD at Man City
  • League: Man City 13 wins, Fulham 3, Draws 3
  • Prem: Man City 1 win, Fulham 0, Draws 1
    Manchester City 0-0 Fulham
    27 March 2004 - Ref: Jeff Winter
    Squad News

    Fulham boss Chris Coleman will take a depleted midfield to the City of Manchester Stadium when he renews acquaintance with former boss Kevin Keegan on Saturday.

    Playmaker Steed Malbranque misses out with a groin injury which could keep him out for the first six weeks of the season, while fellow midfielder Lee Clark will also play no part after failing to shake off a troublesome calf knock.

    New signings Andy Cole, Tomasz Radzinski and Claus Jensen are all in line to make their Premiership debuts for the club, but striker Luis Boa Morte is on Olympic duty with Portugal.

    Fulham (from): van der Sar, Volz, Goma, Pearce, Bocanegra, Bonnissel, Knight, Djetou, Jensen, Legwinski, Diop, John, McBride, Cole, Radzinski, Pembridge, McKinlay, Crossley.

  • MANCHESTER CITY set off on their eighth Premiership adventure and third in succession, but City supporters will be expecting an improvement from Kevin Keegan's side as they followed a ninth placed finish in 2002/03 with 16th last time. It's 36 years since City were last crowned Champions of England and 28 years since they last won a trophy - the League Cup in 1976.
  • The score in each of City's last three opening League matches has been 3-0. They beat Watford in the old Nationwide First Division in 2001, lost by three clear goals at Leeds on their return to the Premiership in 2002 and defeated Charlton by that comfortable cushion at the Valley twelve months ago.
  • City have not lost a League game at home to Fulham in 20 years, and Keegan will be keen to maintain that run against the club he managed between September '97 and May '99.
  • One of 13 founder members of the Premiership competing at the top level this term.
  • Embarking on their 102nd season of League football.
  • Won nine top flight matches last season - only the relegated trio won less.
  • Recorded 14 stalemates in the highest League. Only Newcastle (17) and Leicester (15) drew more.
  • Suffered the longest sequence without a win (14 matches) in the top division last season.
  • Managed only seven clean sheets in the Premiership. Only Leeds fared less well with three.
  • Ended the season with a thumping 5-1 home victory over Everton.
    Squad News

    Keegan has no new injury concerns.

    The City boss is set to start with both his new full-backs Ben Thatcher and Danny Mills, with Sun Jihai having only returned from Asian Cup duty on Thursday.

    Paulo Wanchope is unavailable as he is on World Cup duty with Costa Rica, while new keeper Geert de Vlieger is a long-term injury absentee.

    Manchester City (from): James, Thatcher, Distin, Reyna, Fowler, Sibierski, Macken, Mills, McManaman, Dunne, Barton, Bosvelt, Bischoff, Sinclair, Wright-Phillips, Anelka, Negouai, Jihai, Ellegaard, Sommeil.

Boro Boss

KEVIN KEEGAN has revealed he was scarred by Manchester City’s flop last season.

City were widely tipped to qualify for Europe — but ended up in a relegation battle before finishing 16th.

But boss Keegan is raring to go for this campaign’s opener at home to Fulham today.

He said: “Our aim is to get this club back on track because last season was very disappointing and we don’t want another one like it. We fell well short of our targets but it hurt the players as well and left a scar on the management team.

“Very few of our players performed to their maximum capability and it was certainly the most disappointing season I have experienced as a boss.

“In flashes, we showed everything you need to be successful in the Premiership. We played some quality football at times. Now we have to show it week in, week out.”

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