Tuesday, 19 January 2010

City 2 - 1 United

  • No talk of Wembley, yet. We've only done the easy part. Before today what would you have classed as less likely - a 2-1 win at CoMS, or the draw or victory needed at Old Trafford to preserve it? We still have a long way to go to reach the promised land. But as a 90 minutes it was a triumph: cautious at first, but aided by a generous penalty we transformed the game in the second half. In terms of possession and chances it was probably even - but it was another victory for Mancini's well-honed sense of when to stick and when to twist.
  • We started the game on the back foot. With Nigel de Jong and Gareth Barry just in front of the back four, and Pablo Zabaleta and Craig Bellamy deep and wide, we were clearly set up to play on the break. And we largely succeeded in holding back United. Yes, they dominated possession before the break. But aside from the goal - which came from Javi Garrido switching off - exactly when did they threaten? After the Goodison aberration this was a welcome return to organisation.
  • The game turned, though, on the penalty. Had we gone into half time 1-0 down I doubt the second half would have gone as it did. Craig Bellamy surged past Rafael da Silva, who pulled the Welshman's shirt, outside the box. Contact continued in the area, Bellamy went down, and Mike Dean gave a penalty. I think it was soft. There's no such thing as a black or white penalty call, but it's safe to say that this sort of thing gets given less than Richards on Saha on Saturday. It is even possible that the Goodison decision acted as precedent and worked in our favour here. In which case, thank you Andre Marriner.
  • The second half was very different. We pushed up, buoyed by our equaliser. United looked threatening on the break but the balance was reversed from the first half. We took the lead - through, Carlitos, of course - and could have scored more. The energy of Tévez, Bellamy and Shaun Wright-Phillips unsettled United, while de Jong and Zabaleta disrupted them in midfield. For twenty minutes or so it was as well as we have played under Mancini.
  • But Mancini knows when to attack and when to defend. Onuoha, Benjani and Sylvinho were brought on. With men behind the ball only a piece of magic from Rooney could have made it 2-2. It's a gamble - he almost produced - but Shay Given and Vincent Kompany were colossal in repelling his advances, and we hung on to our lead. Enough to make it to Wembley? We don't know. But we're more likely to be there than we were on Tuesday morning.


pjdemers said...

While I see the the logic in bringing Sylvinho as a defensive midfielder I still think we defended way too deep and allowed United to pile constant pressure and truth be told we looked a little panicky for my liking from the 85th minute on.

I also think it was a tactical mistake to bring on Benjani. I would have rather seen Petrov or even Robinho replace the tiring Tevez up top. While we would not have had a visible target man it would have at least given us some needed speed to provide an outlet for the defense by allowing us to play diagonal passes into the corners for Bellamy and Petrov/Robi to run onto and still provide a threat on the counter attack. Benjani's lack of speed made him a liability and when we did win the ball we had no outlet to relieve the pressure other than Bellamy.

Can we please recall Bojinov or even Caicedo while RSC and Adebayor are absent?

Thomas said...

pj, i think mancini had hoped benjani would of been able to hold up the ball a little better than he did. tevez and swp had run themselves into the ground, and i felt we did need to defend. Benjani just didnt deliver what we needed, but he also didnt come on to harry players, he was told to sit deep.

We have been caught out several times this season being to gungho, instead of holding on to a lead, we only have to look at the last derby to see that, a lack of defensive cohesion and effort can cost you, when a team like united pile on the pressure!

I read today ade could be back for game next week, i hope so. I hope he watched tonight and saw how needed he was. Obviously we cant pressure him!

A good result all in all!

N Rowland said...

I agree - Mancini sure does seem to know when to attack or defend.

I was worried we couldn't create after going down a goal - having so many defensive players on the pitch. But Tevez took the game by the scruff.

Would have liked to see Ireland come on for SWP, and provide a killer outlet pass to Bellamy (or - as you suggest, Petrov), who appeared to be the only one with any legs left. Still - who can complain?


Johnny Crossan said...

"But Mancini knows when to attack and when to defend. Onuoha, Benjani and Sylvinho were brought on" - not really Lonesome, I think Ireland or Petrov with SWP staying on would have improved our chances of a bigger margin to take forward.
I see your mate Henry's back in the saddle, wants a seat in the Tardis alongside Colin Shindler, don't be tempted to join them!