Thursday, 25 September 2008

City crash out to Brighton

  • Everything I write about this game ought to be qualified by two important points. First, I could hardly see anything. The seats were about fifty yards behind a goal, but only a few feet above pitch level. So my sense of how near or far things were to me was very limited. The fact that I have very poor long distance vision but did not have my glasses was not helpful.
  • Moreover, due to long standing travelling commitments, I had to leave at 90 minutes. This meant that I heard the roar of the Brighton fans for the 2-1 goal on my way to the car, and followed the rest of the game through my mobile. This is probably a good thing. But I would have liked to have seen Ireland's equaliser.
  • This result is a huge dissapointment. I know most City fans say this most years, but I really felt this could have been our year in the League Cup. Tottenham's success last year shows that average teams can win this competition (they got 46 points in the league last season. 46 points!). With the optimism around the club at the moment, and possible new arrivals in January, I thought things may have gone our way this year.
  • Usually being 1-0 up is painful and unpleasant. But tonight we looked very comfortable. With the exception of the shot Schmeichel saved on 82 minutes, Brighton caused us no problems before their goal. We kept the ball, looked comfortable in possession and were creating chance after chance. In fact, I was so confident that the profligacy of Ireland, Gelson, Evans and Jô would go un-punished that I wasn't too bothered by it. Looking back, we probably should have taken one or two of those chances.
  • Although we did look better and better in the second half, the first half was woeful. Johnson and Gelson in midfield looked like players who hadn't played in weeks. Dunne and Ben Haim were surprisingly uncomfortable with Brighton's direct attacks. And the front line of Sturridge and Ireland either side of Jô wasn't functioning. Perhaps no surprise: the striker and the centre midfielder looked equally ill at ease playing on the wings.
  • It was only when Ireland moved inside and Evans replaced Sturridge that we looked better. For a period of about twenty five minutes, we played some very good football. Johnson and Gelson were increasingly dominant, Evans and Jô worked well together and Ireland was pulling the strings. Chance after chance went untook - Ireland the main offender.
  • Ultimately an important reminder that we have not yet solved one of the main failings of the Eriksson era: the inability to break down teams of lesser talent but who put men behind the ball. Last season we drew at Derby, Fulham, Wigan and Bolton, and lost at Reading and Birmingham. This year we relied on a last minute own goal to win 1-0 at FC Midtjylland, having lost 1-0 to them at home. Games like this Sunday's at the JJB will not be easy.

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