Thursday, 16 April 2009

City 2 -1 HSV

  • As impressive a way to get knocked out of Europe imaginable. The sixteenth match of our European campaign saw arguably our best performance yet: City played with pace, movement and spirit on a level we've only hit a handful of teams under Mark Hughes. It's bitterly disappointing to go out of the UEFA Cup at the quarter-finals, and the tie was there for the taking, but I'm more proud of the team than I've been for a while.

  • Not much would have to gone differently for us now to be preparing for the visit of Werder Bremen. Had either of Elano's free-kicks diverted their paths by centimetres, had Felipe Caicedo taken his time over that close range volley, or Robinho got the ball out from under his feet when Elano put him through. We created enough chances not only to take the tie to extra time (3-1), but to win it within the 180 minutes (4-1, or 5-4 on aggregate). Of course, this is very disappointing. But it's not embarrassing.
  • It is the credit of the team that they performed so well having gone 0-1 down. Conceding that early goal put us 1-4 down, and heads could have easily dropped. But with the crowd refusing to turn on the players, we fought back to equalise. The rest of the first half was even. But in the second half we were fantastic. The system worked perfectly - Kompany winning the ball in midfield, Ireland and Zabaleta providing effort and invention ahead of him, and Robinho and Elano supporting Caicedo from out wide. The best team performance for some time.
  • If there was one other worry, other than the finishing, it was the suspicion that Richard Dunne and Micah Richards are not quite good enough against the best opposition. Dunne was given the run around by Ivica Olić, Richards by Jonathan Pitroipa and David Jarolím. Dunne could have given away a penalty early on, and was at fault for the goal. When he got sent off, it was because he was covering for an out of position Richards. Once we've bought a centre forward in the summer, we may need at least one more world class centre half.
  • And so, after nine months, our UEFA Cup campaign is over. Our best European campaign for thirty years - we exited the 1979 UEFA Cup at the quarter-final stage to German opposition. As much fun as it's been, we're empty-handed in terms of silverware, with an exhausted squad and only four points ahead of Portsmouth, Hull and Blackburn. Anyone who says our season is over is being dangerously complacent.


tommytheblue said...

it bounced staight off caciedo legs, he had no time... as ithit the goalie 1st quite quickly./

But gallant effort. Surely going to impress the board.

obviously dissapointing to lose, but you dont mind it when the perfromance is that good. Puts the disgraceful showing at fulham in perspective.

Elano again proved his class

pjdemers said...

This is the type of commitment we need from the fans week in week out, regardless of what we think or or feel about hughes or some of the players. The recriminations can wait for the summer and the debate can happen on the blogs but @ COMS it has to be 100% positive support, win or lose, play well or poorly.

I've been reading the MEN to notice that some of the boo boys still feel the need to assign all blame on Hughes. Whether they're right I can't say but there's one area of improvement that I've seen in City this season that I haven't seen under previous managers and that is the ability to go out and grab the game by the scruff of the neck.

The naysayers may say tonight's effort was because of the crowd & while they are technically right its not the only reason. Every player was completely focused and completely committed. More importantly they seemed to be all on the page tactically.

Interestingly enough this is not the first time this season I've seen us produce such a display when people were calling for Sparky's head. The boxing day match against Hull and the game against Villa (with a side depleted thru injury). There are also the several other games I recall that were similar to this one in which we grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck.

Perhaps I'm being harsh but I cannot see any side playing this way under the affable Sven. I don't think its a coincidence that these types of displays have happened under Hughes. Unfortunately they haven't always happened consistently but when they do they come off spectacularly. That is the encouraging quality that I get from Sparky's City that I didn't under previous managers. That consistency will come especially if City fans get behind the team the way they did tonight.

2muchtaken said...

Certainly a valiant effort but we came up short. SWP, Bellamy and Benjani out injured. Kompay, Bridge, Zab and Stevie I, playing while injured. Pretty much every one else overplayed and as a result, knackered. This was the most important tie for decades. Why weren't they rested and given time to heal? Hughes suicidal attempt to chase both league position and UEFA with the same 14 players was always going to fail. It seems a lot of people are willing to give Hughes a free ride because the boys gave us their all tonight, when the truth is, he and he alone blew it for us. To make matters worse he leaves Dunne on after his 1st yellow, when it was pretty obvious to all that the lad was a lumbering Red Card just waiting to happen, REAL SHARP. Que the predictable substitution of the dreadfully ineffectual Fernandez, and his usual pointless charging around, BRILLIANT. Leaving Sturridge on the bench till the 84th minute while desperately chasing the game, PURE GENIUS. Taking off our best provider in Elano was even more of a MASTER STROKE. We have the kind of talent at our disposal who could have taken us all the way to Turkey. What we really needed was the kind of Management capable of getting the very best out of that talent. Hopefully next season we WILL. I'm very proud of the team AND the fans, they make ME proud and happy to be Blue. I am also livid at the amateur way this whole European campaign was handled.

Jeff said...

So.. how many transfer targets have to be crossed off of the list now w/ the lack of European football next season?

Finny said...

I am sick of this constant whinging on about Hughes. Its over 30 years since we got as far as we did last night in the UEFA cup. He's not going to get us in the top 4 & win a cup in 9 months. The squad needs reinforcing & player offloading & he'll do that.

The difference between 2nd in the German league & 11th in the Prem over the two legs was simply, we didn't have Vincent Kompany in the first leg. If we had, we'd have won this. No team can play with four first teamers out & four playing with injuries.

Give Hughes time & don't drag the club into another "short term, quick fix" situation. Its never worked before & it'll create turmoil again. We need stability & Hughes is as good as any to achieve this.

If people channelled frustration from Hughes to positive atmosphere like the amazing one last night, I am sure this time, next year, we'll be on track.

Lets start backing the club as a whole & not showing disunity that papers like the mirror & all the other rabblerousers are looking for.

Steve G said...

2muchtaken is spot on. Finny the reson we got this far is because we spent a load of money not Hughes, as for missing Kompany in the first leg you are right BUT that was down to Hughes playing him in the Arsenal game for NO REASON. Hughes is to blame in my eyes, his substitutions last night were poor and slow after 65mins the tempo dropped and we needed another boost. Dunne should be stripped of the captancy for repeatedly being stupid

nb said...

If we are going to hold Hughes entirely responsible when things go wrong, then he deserves praise when they go right.

Last night's performance was infinitely better and reflected Sparky's vision as a manager: fast tempo,high work rate and direct football. Elano delivered his best performance for 15 months, Robinho was vastly improved, and Kompany and Zabaleta were superb. What was particularly pleasing was the apparent unity and dedication to Hughes within the squad.

Given the result, I have one concern. Essentially, this season is already over. I fear the premature ending will trigger a return to the lazy, preening, cowardly performances that have been all too prevalent this year. This could spell trouble for Hughes.

Personally, I'd love to see us win away from home again. Whilst not the UEFA Cup, that would still be a significant milestone for the future and 2009/10.

trinder said...

I thoroughly enjoyed last night's game, the first really entertaining match since Boxing Day against Hull, and the best atmosphere for ages.

There's lots to be pleased about, most of all the way our midfield utterly dominated Bundesliga contenders for all but the first 10 minutes.

All I'd decry would be the removal of Elano (as he'd have been badly missed in extra time), the introduction of Sturridge 15 minutes late and the incredible number of times Caciedo was offside (anyone know? It must have been double figures).

JPB said...

I counted seven, I think.

trinder said...

I've just found it - 11 times! There's a lot of him to be caught offside but 11 times in one game is astonishingly bad movement.