Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Stoke 3 - 1 City

  • It wasn't our worst away performance of the season. But it wasn't enough for this most difficult of away games. And this is a game that we should never have been played: if we hadn't been so insipid at Eastlands eleven days ago we would have been relaxing this evening, planning for consecutive trips to Stamford Bridge. Tonight, though, like last Saturday, we failed to turn early chances into a comfortable lead, we stood off, allowed Stoke back into the game and then failed to mark from a long throw. I know Stoke are a good side, and Tony Pulis has done very well with his resources, but what exactly is the point of spending £200m on players if after 210 minutes of FA Cup football against Stoke you've scored two goals and conceded four?
  • And it all started so well. We picked an interesting team, with Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta moved into midfield, and Micah Richards and Nedum Onuoha back in defence. Craig Bellamy came in on the left. We played with a bit more poise and control than we did in the Premier League game there last week. Kompany and Gareth Barry controlled the game, with a clear plan to have Bellamy hit the space in behind. Had Bellamy's touch been better we would have gone ahead, and there were other half chances too.
  • But we didn't take our chances and let Stoke back into the game. They pressed and pushed and kicked and threw, and we just let them. Ireland faded, as did Barry, our defence were unsettled by Ricardo Fuller and eventually substitute Dave Kitson put Stoke ahead, quite inevitably. Strangely enough, we managed to equalise soon later. But when Adebayor was sent off for a raised arm on Ryan Shawcross Stoke recovered all momentum.
  • Down to ten men, at the Brittania, and with our away form, there was only going to be one result. But it was still disappointing that it came from a long throw - Shay Given charged out, missed the ball, and Shawcross headed in. Then Tuncay Şanlı danced past our defence to make it 3-1. With bodies thrown forward this one was likely, but it killed the game. Defensively it wasn't a particularly bad performance overall but individual errors at key moments cost us yet again.
  • We're out, though, and all we have left to focus on is fourth. This starts on Saturday. I'm not expecting much, but a decent performance - a score draw, even - could just give us the momentum we need. This season isn't over, but it is getting steadily worse each week.


pjdemers said...

I am at a complete loss on why Mancini moved to Kompany to mf when its been obvious that not only has Vinny been one of our better defenders, but that his partnership with Lescott was starting to look promising.

My guess is that he wanted to give DeJong a rest with the Chelsea game in mind but clearly he could've brought in Sylvinho or even Toure for defensive mf responsibilities, or put Zab in DeJong's role and played SWP on the flank from the off. We can't keep changing CB pairings and hope to win consistently.

Don't get me wrong, I think Mancini is a clever tactician but he clearly over-thinks things at times.
What continues to worry me is that City seem to be suffering a huge crises of confidence ever since the Carling Cup loss and we are little too cautious and in-assertive in our play for my liking. We our playing not to lose and in my opinion are lacking conviction and it needs to be sorted out. Fast!

jackblue said...

Sorry but Mancini is history, Jose is coming guys.

pjdemers said...

No offense Jackblue but I don't see Mourinho coming to City as he is too egotistical & covets Fergie's job. Hiddink is too close to Abramovich to go anywhere in the EPL but Chelsea. Pure Media sensationalism me thinks.

Blue Moon said...

pjdemers is right -- Jose has said on several occasions that he wants Fergie's job one day. He ain't coming here - in fact, I could see him at Liverpool before he came to City.

wizzballs said...

kompany did an excellent job in midfield. he is much more composed and creative than de jong, and, just as importantly against stoke, he is considerably taller.

how the hell did we lose that game. we should have won all three games.
first cup tie, we had them rocking, but for some reason got complacent, and very very sloppy, gave them time to regroup. second game we were on course to win until given's howler. and last night we outplayed them comprehensively, but spurned numerous 'gilt-edged' chances. and gave them another goal.

what is wrong with the players? it's so frustrating to watch us work hard, get on top then throw it away. a little killer instinct would go an awful long way. in some ways, now the honeymoon, and the ensuing post-honeymoon blues are over, we are back were we where under hughes, shooting ourselves in the foot, just in different ways.

I don't blame Mancini. his tactics tonight were ideal. it appears that there are big problems with the mentality of some players, a lack of focus, a lack of tactical discipline, an inability to play tight passing game for more than 20 minutes at a time. there clearly is a lack of reliable players in midfield. ireland started so well I thought we would see why we called him superman... but after 30 minutes the game passed him by completely. and whilst barry is doing ok, he never takes control of a game, ever.

most frustrating for me is swp. great energy, quick feet. and no footballing intelligence whatsoever.

they simple must do so much better. all of these players share the same flaw. they pass and play well for a short period, then lose focus, stop playing as a team, and start making rubbish decisions, wasting opportunities, giving the ball away cheaply. talent is not enough, you have to work to the gameplan for the 90 minutes. what I would give for an authoritative midfielder who will do the little things consistently, keep getting involved, keep the ball ticking over.

John said...

Shove your Millions up your arses, you'll never buy success!
Up the Potters!

Stephen said...

How rude, John.

Anonymous said...

pjdemers is right. I can't see Mourinho at City. Hiddink has just signed up with the Turkish national team so he's out of the running. There are two choices, either Mancini gets next season to prive he's up for the job or we bring in Martin Jol.

Thomas said...

I disagree pj, i thought Vinnie role in the middle was an inspired move. He added the height needed to be strong in both boxes and compete for ball we otherwise wouldnt win in the middle.

I think the side was correct last night, but we were let down once again by a poor steven ireland and miss firing bellamy.

jpb mentioned a few weeks ago about the loss of tevez will cost us severely and it has!

Swp was pretty poor when he came on, i think one decent cross was all he could muster. With so many players out of form, not producing the goods, Mancini is desperate to find a formula that works, it's hugely frustrating that the likes of ireland even in their favoured position and not doing it!

Stoke only threatened once ade was sent off, they barely had a look in! 1 shot on target in 70mins !

Rios Dos Santos said...

Can we pls stop talking about Mourinho or anyone else? Manicni only came a couple months ago! Are you nuts???

I don't think we're passing well enough in MF.

Defense was not too bad considering the shuffle. But the MF.. Too slow, too sloppy, lack of creativity and incisiveness.

Ireland, swp, barry,.. none of them on form, no fast crisp passing in MF, no good supply to the FW.

Desperately need someone who can keep ball moving and unlock defense from the centre of MF.

StanMCFC said...

Depressed by last night. Stoke are a nightmare to play against. Actually thought the defence did really well for vast bulk of game. Also was no lack of effort, but stoke are all grit and physicality and their crowd is totally ignorant.

Agree Mancini should have gone for it more, but by same token, we had the chances to be two-up and didn't take them (eg Barry missed an unbelievable chance).

Depressed also by knee-jerk reaction from loads of city fans. Some calling for return of Mark Hughes. Aside from the fact that's not going to happen, he bought most of the players they are now slagging off. Also we could have done with Elano and Dunnie last night.

On positive side, thought Ade played really well and really harsh to be sent off for what should have been a bookable offence. Also Lescott looked really solid. Just miss a creative midfielder (to replace Elano) and over last fortnight have missed Tevez big time.

Personally hope that Mancini gets the same amount of time as Mark Hughes (unless he takes us ridiculously downhill during rest of season). Sacking him will give even more ammunition to those who are calling us mercenary.

StanMCFC said...

Can't believe how Delap is allowed a towel to dry the ball for each throw-in (and his own personal assistant). Does that mean that players can request the ball to be dried before taking corners?

Also anyone else noticed that Delap has weird goat-like eyes that glow while he prepares for the throw-in?

Andy said...

maybe it's only me but I think Given is over-rated. I think he is a great shot stopper like David James but he is not a great goalkeeper. Any ball in the six yard box should be the keepers but Given very rarely comes off his line and on the odd occasion that he does it is 50/50 if he will get the ball. Don't get me wrong as I know he has saved us on more than once this season, most significantly against Birmingham but the goals we have conceded from Delap's throw-ins, I believe, are down to him.........bring back Joe Hart :)

trinder said...

Lots of really good points here, so obviously I'm going to ignore the football ones and talk about Mourinho. Logic says that we won't see him managing City.

He will only join a Champions League team. If it's not to be a Spanish side, that leaves Chelsea (not at all likely), United (not this year), Arsenal (not this year) and whoever finishes fourth. Spurs, Villa and Everton won't sack their manager, certainly not if they finish fourth.

So it could only be City and Liverpool. To be either, they would have to finish fourth (far from guaranteed). Can Liverpool afford his £8m salary, the £12m or so to sever Benitez's deal (unless he goes to Juve) and the £80+m he’d want for players? No, they can't.

City can but they find themselves facing a pair of incompatible outcomes. If we finish fourth, Mancini will have earned the right to keep his job. But if we finish without a Champions League place and Mancini is dismissed, Mourinho won't join.

All that said, £12-15m a year might help ease the pain of a Europa League campaign.