Monday, 29 March 2010

City 3 - 0 Wigan

  • It was a must win, and we won. But it was a strange game, and a microcosm of our season: a flat damp insipid performance that could have been punished but was not, and which was bailed out by the quality and tenacity of Carlos Tévez. Things were not exactly going to plan for the first hour, but the game hinged on the dismissal of Gary Caldwell and an error by Vladimir Stojković. Three nil looks good but the game was just as even as our 1-0 win last year. But all that matter are points now.
  • The first hour was woeful. Mancini went for a Hughes-style 4-4-2, with two natural wingers in Shaun Wright-Phillips and Adam Johnson. Nigel de Jong and Patrick Vieira were abandoned to play against Wigan's midfield three. They would have been outnumbered even had Patrick Vieira not been doing a Christian Negouai impression. But he did, and Wigan controlled possession and silenced the crowd. We looked lively enough on the break but it was not exactly the patient methodical fare we've grown used to under Mancini.
  • With fifty five minutes gone I wasn't confident of our winning the game. When Tévez jumped over the ball with two feet and Caldwell scissored him I winced. When Stuart Attwell produced red I was upset, presuming it was for Tévez. But it wasn't - it was for Caldwell's clumsy tackle which looked like a yellow but no more. A real slice of luck, as bad a decision as Michael Turner's red in Mark Hughes' final game in charge. But it forced Wigan to change shape as Paul Scharner dropped back into defence.
  • We started to dominate possession, just an hour after we should have started doing so. But we still needed Stojković to duck out of a 50/50 challenge with Adebayor and Tévez to roll the ball into the empty net. Ahead at home against ten men and the game was as good as done: we grew in confidence, moved the ball quicker and Tévez scored another two. His ability to create chances through force of will has rescued us from too many difficult situations this season.
  • But for as long as he continues to do so we're in contention. We didn't look like a decent candidate for fourth position tonight, but it's a results business. I've written before about how strange it is seeing Mancini's City play in a way so antithetical to our traditions. This sort of point is often meant critically, but it's also true that winning ugly is immensely valuable; when Chelsea or United do it it's called 'ruthless efficiency.' I still don't think we'll get fourth but we've stayed in the race longer than I ever thought we would. Another must-win on Saturday.


Johnny Crossan said...

Screw your courage to the sticking place, lonely, and we'll not fail,

4th is there for the taking - Spurs will not gain on us with Arsenal, United & Chelsea coming up. It'll come down to our best performance of the season in our final home match.

pjdemers said...

I know I'm probably starting to sound like a broken record but I don't think the collective "its fourth its or failure" mentality is doing us any favours. While its an admirable goal, our constant focus on 4th is bordering on unhealthy obsession. I think 65 points or more would constitute a successful season, regardless of what position City finish at the end of the season. We need stability more than anything else at the moment.

Again I think Champions league Football might be a step too soon and I think the 2011-2012 season is still the more reasonable target as it would allow us to evolve in to a team that will consistently challenge for honors.

If nothing else this game (plus several others) should prove once and for all how much we sorely need a creative midfielder who can play centrally to unlock stubborn defences with incisive passing.
Champions league or not this team will continue to struggle to break teams down until this situation is addressed(If its a struggle to break down Wigan, good luck with the heavy hitters of the Champions League).

But again our focus should be "evolution over revolution" rather than "4th or failure." Unfortunately impatience and expectation seem to be our worse enemies at the moment.

rgwarden said...

I'm afraid I'm with Lonesome and hate to admit that spurs could well be out of sight before we play them. We don't play as a team we play as bits of one somehow and without an elano or an in form Ireland or a m.johnsson of yesteryear who can look up in midfield and play a killer ball we're just hoping for an attacker to save our blushes. And tevez the Man usually obliges. I naively thought a starting England midfielder called Barry might step up to the plate, speak loudly in the middle and lead us (didn't he used to do just that for Villa?) but he just doesn't seem to be able to muster it. I agree progress not perfection at this stage but the basic fact is that we're not as good as we should be with the investment put in.

Rios Dos Santos said...

Completely agree with you pjdemers.

"its fourth its or failure" mentality is doing us any favours. - quite. I thought the goal for this season was top 6?

I'm sorry but if we get into Champions League with this team we will get OWNED BIG TIME. We will be out in shame before we know it.

The only reason I want 4th is because it's Tottenham up there and not Liverpool!

And yes we REALLY need a creative / central MF who can drive the ball forward from the middle. De Jong+Viera are just not the type. Not fast enough, passes not accurate enough.

We are lucky enough to have one of the hardest working and skillful strikers in Tevez. If only we had a creative MF player who could feed him with passes from the centre also. (to compliment our great wingers) It will be KILLER!! No-one will be able to handle it.

Bill said...

Viera looks not one step off the pace, but rather two. I always liked him, but I don't think he has it anymore, very poor passing and weak shooting.

I think the reason we are all talking 4th is that its attainable, at the beginning of the season 6th was fine because we had no idea Liverpool was crap. So dreaming of top 4 was out.

Andy said...

We need to start games better than we have been doing of late as it appears we need 45 mins to warm up and better teams than Wigan will punish us in that time! 4th place is still there for the taking. Our players can talk the talk but so far we have not walked the walk so I just wish they would concentrate on getting results and leave the talking to others. We need to improve the squad, especially with a creative midfield player as has been stated in other comments but I believe if we do qualify for the CL it will be easier to attract the correct type of players