Sunday, 8 November 2009

Burnley reax

Joe Lovejoy, The Observer

Hughes put a brave face on yet another disappointing result, praising his players for fighting back from a 2-0 deficit into a winning position and excusing the outcome by saying: "There are times when we look like what we are: a team trying to gel." The good Sheikh, however, may be less sanguine about a slip from fourth to sixth place in the table which, even at this early stage, must call into question City's prospects of turning European potential into solid achievement.

On this evidence, they are still very much a work in progress, fallible at the back and caught between two stools in midfield. Joleon Lescott's England credentials were damaged by indiscretions that led to Burnley's first two goals, while the return of Stephen Ireland, at the expense of Nigel de Jong, left the team unexpectedly vulnerable in the central crucible.

Ian Herbert, Independent on Sunday

Manchester City could scarcely have done more before yesterday's game to remember those who laid down everything in defence of these shores. What their manager wouldn't give for someone who will lay anything down in defence of his side's goal.

Laurence Binyon's For the Fallen was the verse they read before kick-off, a fair description of City's back four last night as they crouched on their haunches in the drizzle and winced. They can have no complaint that their ranks, with one win in seven in the Premier League after a fifth successive draw, met with muffled boos at the end; nor that Kevin McDonald's 87th-minute equaliser had denied them a win.

Jonathan Northcroft, Sunday Times

Mark Hughes and his players were jeered when Stuart Attwell, who had a difficult game as referee, trilled the final whistle. When Hughes used a few oil drums of Sheikh Mansour’s vast stash to lavish £110m on new players over the summer, more was anticipated than home struggles versus Burnley. The fact the visiting team were vibrant, skilled and indomitable — virtues that are coming to characterise Owen Coyle’s brand of football — was irrelevant to City’s followers. All they know is their club have drawn five league games in a row and are not going to get into Europe, never mind the Champions League, like this.

Mark Ogden, Sunday Telegraph

“We’re 11 games into the season and we’ve done OK, no better than that,” Hughes said. “I warned everybody at the start of the season, there will be times when we look like what we are, which is a team trying to gel, and at other times an outstanding side.”

Both of City’s faces were on display, the former more than the latter. Having come back from 2-0 down to lead the game, City should have run out convincing winners as they poured forward in the second half, Craig Bellamy to the fore. But instead of settling things, they conceded a late equaliser that means they have taken just eight points in seven games.

Joe Bernstein, Mail on Sunday

A lot of fingers will be pointed at Lescott, who has looked unsettled following his acrimonious £24m departure from Everton. Yesterday, he gave away a penalty with a needless handball and then went to sleep when thinking that the game was almost won.

'I don't think Joleon was at fault for every goal. It's a collective thing,' said Hughes.

But you know next week in the Gulf he will be asking about the possibility of signing another couple of defenders. Whether he will be entrusted with the money - the back five City put out yesterday cost £70m - is another matter.

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