Wednesday, 17 February 2010

'We must play better'

Roberto Mancini knows that while our league position is good, our form is not and that if we do not improve significantly we will not make fourth place. This is what he said about yesterday's performance:

“In the first half the ball was in the air most of the time and it was difficult for us to play. We had to fight, it was the only way to play. We were better after the break, but when it was 11 v 10 we should have created more chances. We should have got it down the channels for Shaun or Adam, but too often we played it down the middle.

“I made a change by bringing Shaun on and pushing Gareth to left back, but we should have been more aggressive to try to win the game. We were too quiet at times and we had some good chances to win this game."

Given the quality we have in wide areas it is becoming a frustration how slowly we move the ball out wide. This is meant to be Gareth Barry's greatest asset, and when he's on top of his game (first half against Bolton, first half against Stoke at home) we've looked lively in this area. But when he is under pressure, when he is weighed down by a certain World Cup winning passenger in our midfield he struggles and the team fail to create opportunities.

Of course, moving the ball quickly into space is one of Stephen Ireland's fortés but we all know how he struggles to play in 4-4-2, and how out of form he is. One of the key battles on Sunday will be the attempts of Javier Mascherano and Lucas Leiva to prevent Gareth Barry from setting Adam Johnson up against Emiliano Insua. It's clear now that Mancini has no interest in resting Gareth Barry, and so getting the best out of him becomes a priority. And I don't see what role Patrick Vieira has in any solution to this problem.


StanMCFC said...

Think a bit harsh to say Stephen Ireland is out of form. Even the best players need a run of games to establish a high performance level and for whatever reason (injury, not fitting into managers' tactics etc) Stevie hasn't had that luxury.

For what it's worth, think Mancini's main problem (like Hughes over longer time period) is that he still seems nowhere near knowing his best side. As a result too much chopping and changing - and no consistency.

I would prefer a much trimmed squad instead of two or three players competing for the same position.

richard said...

Viera might get a 3 match ban, this would leave Mancini no choice but to put Ireland in, which is obviously a better midfield. Viera is well out of shape and could use his time to train hard. A blessing in disguise?

Rich Abbott said...

Jack, do you agree with Patrick Barclay in thinking that Mancini is showing signs of being too defensive for the Prem? Or is it too early to judge that? I haven't managed to catch many games out in Australia, and am feeling a bit out of it!...

Top blogging by the way, as ever...

JPB said...

He certainly prefers men behind the ball and patient build-up play, compared with Mark Hughes and the general trend of EPL bosses. That's not inherently problematic - results have been ok.

What it might be, though, is too defensive for Premier League fans. At the Stoke game on Saturday people were jeering when we passed it around the back four when 1-0 up in the first half! We're not very tolerant of anything approaching catenaccio over here.

Thomas said...

the sore point for me is vieira, even out of form, still put plenty of balls forwad, tried to create, ireland has got to pull his finger out, his last out was brief and dissapoiting, promising at the start, but he drifted and was bullied out of the game.

i think mancini problem is the same as hughes, the midfield isnt good enough, never was. i still lament the loss of elano without a valid replacement, for all his critics he gave us goals from assists and his own.

trinder said...

Rich, the problem for the fans who like cavalier football is that Mancini has decided that this squad will have greater success if it plays a safer game than it did under Hughes.

He's right. Though Thomas is correct to say that the midfield isn't good enough, it's the weak defence that has forced Mancini's hand. It doesn't have the talent or leadership to liberate a front five. He must have quickly concluded that a cautious approach would yield more points than one that lit up the stadium but exposed the fragilities at the back.

I don't believe Mancini is instinctively defensive but we won't know for sure until he gets to choose his own players. Would he have looked at Toure, Lescott and Santa Cruz, let alone spent £50m on them?