Sven Goran Eriksson’s hopes of staying on as manager of Manchester City suffered a devastating setback as his side ended the Premier League season with a humiliating 8-1 defeat at Middlesbrough on Sunday.
City’s poor form over the second half of the season has sparked speculation about Eriksson’s future, with controversial club owner Thaksin Shinawatra widely expected to replace the Swede soon.
Former Thai Prime Minister Shinawatra was not present at the Riverside Stadium as City failed to recover after captain Richard Dunne was sent off in the 15th minute and slumped to the biggest top-flight defeat this season.
But if this was Eriksson’s farewell game after just one season in charge, then his players owe the former England coach a huge apology for the way they performed on Teesside.
Had it not been for Swedish keeper Andreas Isaksson, who produced a string of fine saves on his final appearance for the club, City would have lost by a bigger margin.
Stewart Downing fired the hosts ahead from the penalty spot after Dunne had fouled Tuncay, before Brazilian striker Afonso Alves doubled the lead following a fine 37th minute move.
City’s misery was complete when Downing and Alves scored twice in the space of two second-half minutes before substitute Adam Johnson added to City’s embarrassment.
Fabio Rochemback, on his final appearance for Middlesbrough, made it 6-0 while Jeremie Aliadiere also found the net before Alves completed his hat-trick.
It means City, who were flirting with a Champions League place earlier in the campaign, end the season with three successive defeats.
They lost Zimbabwe striker Benjani Mwaruwari to injury in the 12th minute but there can be few excuses for what followed.
Three minutes later referee Phil Dowd sent off Dunne after the Republic of Ireland defender brought down Tuncay inside his own area. Not only did it leave City down to 10 men with 75 minutes remaining, it also left a question mark hanging over City’s hopes of qualifying for the UEFA Cup through the backdoor of the “Fair Play” table.
Downing made no mistake from the resulting penalty, the England international’s ninth goal of the campaign.
Isaksson saved City from falling further behind with a fine stop to deny Tuncay after half an hour but the Swedish keeper was beaten in the 37th minute by a composed finish from Alves following a defence-splitting move involving Rochemback and Tuncay.
Alves and George Boateng were denied by Isaksson before a stunning left-foot volley by Downing made it 3-0 in the 59th minute.
City went on to concede four further goals in the final half an hour as Gareth Southgate’s Middlesbrough finished the season with their biggest victory.
Despite the best efforts of Gelson Fernandes, Alves made it 4-0 before Rochemback scored his first Premier League goal of the campaign. Johnson made it 6-0 before Aliadiere added a seventh.
Substitute Elano pulled a goal back for City but their humiliation was complete when Alves made it 8-1 in the dying moments.
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