Sunday, 28 February 2010

TLDORC February awards

Not as dramatic as January but still notable, unpredictable and possibly momentous. It was a month overshadowed by our stoppage time Carling Cup semi-final exit at Old Trafford in late January. For the first six games we looked like a team that had all confidence and momentum drawn from them by our second last-gasp defeat at Old Trafford of the season. Our first six games of the season saw six very inspid performances. We lost at the KC Stadium before managing to beat a very limited Bolton side at home without really convincing. Then we threw away a lead to draw our home cup tie with Stoke, before going to the Britannia in the Premier League and salvaging a 1-1. Another draw followed - a dire 0-0 with Liverpool before we went back to Stoke for our cup replay and lost in extra time. Terrible preparation, all that, for a trip to the impenetrable Stamford Bridge. But we managed to pull off the most thrilling away win since the famous 4-1 at Ewood Park ten years ago. And suddenly we look like we have the confidence and momentum which might just propel us to fourth.

Hull City (a) 1-2 (thoughts, ratings, reax, more reax)
Bolton Wanderers (h) 2-0 (thoughts, ratings, reax)
Stoke City (h) 1-1 (thoughts, ratings, reax)
Stoke City (a) 1-1 (thoughts, ratings, reax)
Liverpool (h) 0-0 (thoughts, ratings, reax)
Stoke City (a) 1-3 (thoughts, ratings, reax)
Chelsea (a) 4-2 (thoughts, ratings, reax)

Player of the Month

There's a few decent candidates here - thanks to the exciting start of Adam Johnson, the versatility of Pablo Zabaleta and Vincent Kompany, and the resilience of Wayne Bridge in what have clearly been very difficult circumstances. Honourable mentions for all of them. But I'm going for Joleon Lescott. He came back into the side in February after two months out with a knee injury, having missed the drama of both the Hughes/Mancini handover and the League Cup semi-final.

And since he's come back he's been excellent. He really looks like the complete set: very strong, dominant in the air, and quick across the pitch. He can bring the ball out from the back comfortably and has cut out the positional and concentration errors that blighted his first few months at City. Solid and consistent in the build-up to yesterday, at Stamford Bridge he was exceptional, dealing with Drogba as well as anyone this season.

(It's worth at least wondering how far Lescott's upturn of form has been due to the coaching of Mancini? Does the shadow training mean that the centre-backs are less exposed than they were under Hughes, and that this therefore makes Lescott's job easier? One other possible factor is his playing with Vincent Kompany now rather than Kolo Touré, who is a better, bolder defender and a better communicator than the club captain.)

Lescott will always find it difficult because of his £24m price tag. People will always remind him that he's not 2.4 times as good as Thomas Vermaelen, or 4.8 times as good as Roger Johnson or Richard Dunne. But all Lescott can do is be the best he can be, fulfill his talents as far as he can. This month he's done that. If he continues to do so he might make the World Cup squad, and go on to be a real success as a City player.

Performance of the month

It should really be Carlitos' masterclass at Stamford Bridge yesterday. But it's not. It's Adam Johnson's debut against Bolton. It was exhilarating stuff - good old fashioned wingplay from the best young English winger on the market. He gave the Bolton back four nightmares and won the penalty that sent us ahead. Added to Bellamy, SWP and Martin Petrov and we've got some excellent options in wide positions.

Goal of the month

Adebayor's control and volley in one fluid movement against Bolton to win us that game. Although Tevez embarrassing Terry to get our crucial equaliser at Chelsea was also good.


Thomas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thomas said...

lescott has been top of late, storng partnership with komps

fulafalonga said...

It is surely not a coincidence that Lescott's rapid improvement has come with Kompany as his centre back partner. This pairing should have been tried a lot earlier. But of course Hughes couldn't do it because Toure was his man/captain. A relief he got 'injured'. Likewise Viera's suspension. I hope Mancini's not tempted to start him again when it's up. He is so obviously off the pace and out of touch, it's embarrassing. What sort of game must they play in Italy? Up front it's clear we need Tevez and Bellamy to play every match. Good time to go on a consistent run with the next four games being against "easier" opposition. (Oh no what have I just said.) What's shadow training?

Johnny Crossan said...

100% with you on Lescott, Lonely. Excellent choice.

nick said...

Strange decision there. I'm pleased that Lescott is coming good, but it remains to be seen whether he will continue that form.
One man who has been solid this entire month: Kompany. He missed the game against Hull, and the game against Stoke. We lost.
Vinnie is dominant in the air, reads the game, and is non too shabby on the ground either. Should be captain.