Saturday, 17 April 2010

City 0 - 1 United

  • Well thank fuck for the 4-3 and the League Cup semi-final. After those two I'm so desensitised to losing to United in stoppage time that for it to happen a third time can't really hurt me in the same way; devastation is subject to diminishing returns. In fact, I don't think that - short of our being relegated by them - that any future Manchester derby can be as traumatic as what we have gone through this year. I mean, three times.
  • That said, even in isolation this was less upsetting than the 4-3. It was not a classic match, played at a slow tempo and with few chances. We played well enough, and looked good for a point as the game petered out. There was none of the sense of achievement at our repeated comebacks at Old Trafford in September, nor of the promise of entering extra time as in January. We had defended well for ninety-two minutes, but that was the extent of our success. But as with the last two defeats, when it really mattered we switched off and United switched on.
  • Which is precisely the difference between us and United. People always talk of the importance of a 'winning mentality', and while the concept is sometimes used vaguely, these three derbies have demonstrated in the clearest boldest terms what exactly that means. We shouldn't be ashamed of this - United probably have a better mentality than any club in British football history, which has been cultivated for a quarter of a century. You can't blame Mark Hughes, Roberto Mancini or even Garry Cook for this. It just shows how far we've got to come.
  • For ninety-two minutes the match was disappointingly flat. The weather, the lunchtime kick off and Mancini's caution combined to a surprising lack of tension or drama. United, thanks to their five man midfield, had the most of the ball but we defended well and limited their chances. Going forward we came up against an immaculately organised back four and despite getting into some decent positions on the break we failed to create too much. But the game looked like it was petering out to a goalless draw that we were quite content with.
  • Scholes' goal was at the far end from me, I haven't seen it since and I don't particularly want to. From what I gather blame ought to be shared between Onuoha for letting Patrice Evra put a cross in and whichever midfielder should have been tracking Paul Scholes. Some might blame Mancini for taking de Jong off - I'm sure we would not have conceded had de Jong been on the pitch - but I don't think bringing Ireland on was necessarily a bad move. It just didn't work out.
  • Fourth place now looks less likely. We need to win at the Emirates, which we've never done before, as well as beating Villa and Spurs at Eastlands. Given Spurs' recent results they should back themselves to build on their good record at CoMS. I haven't seen the odds this morning but I'm giving us a 40% chance of doing it. Football's never over until it's over, as United taught us yesterday.


nick said...

Johnson off, Viera on. That was the moment we lost the game. With AJ seemingly overawed by the occasion, SWP should have come on instead. That was the only change that needed to be made.
The moment we were going to win the game never came due to Bobby Manc's negativity. And then with Viera in the team, we may as well be playing with ten men.
Then to compound matters Mancini takes De Jong off?! Also, I'm a big fan of Stevie Ireland, but today he should have been chomping at the bit to make an impression when he came off the bench, but he was just flat. Barely touched the ball, then didn't chase back in the final minute. Disappointing all round.

Blue Moon said...

I'd love to not bash Ireland, but when the holding midfielder is that far forward, you have a responsibilty to come back. Also, our forwards were pressing at the end of the game, and even though he had just come on, it's like he was tired already -- provided zero help in closing down.

We just did not create a whole lot of chances - which is the occupational hazard of the counter-attacker. Plus, the best chance of the match from a blue point of view fell to Barry, who inexplicably tried to shift the ball onto his right foot eight yards out from goal rather than shoot. Our midfielders really are goal shy... I know not everyone is going to bang them in like Lampard, but still, we get soooo little from midfield offensively.

Bellamy was very poor today -- an average performance from the left wing wins the match for us, since Adebayor was excellent today. Ade and Tevez needed another attacking player to perform - Johnson had flashes, but never caught fire -- I don't remember he and Bellamy every swapping wings like they have in previous matches. I'm sure there is some tactical reason why (probably Johnson needed to check Evra).

Lonesome - unfortunatly your first paragraph really says it all. As we moved into injury time, I just knew we would concede... We are Charlie Brown, United are Lucy, and just when we think Charlie Brown is finally going to kick the ball, Lucy yanks it away... again. We can confort ourselves in our moral superiority :-), but 4 matches played, 1 win, -2 goal difference is pretty telling. Cityitis is still an epidemic... They (United) pull these results out so often that hate them as I do, you have to shrug your shoulders and admit that they get it done at closing time and we just hope the final whistle blows.


Daniel said...

Didn't hurt as much as I thought it would tbf.

Trevbrierley said...

Having survived until added time I thought Bellamy played a stupid ball diagonally up-field that was never going to reach Wright-Phillips. He should have held on to it and the point that was all we deserved. Instead he gifted them one last chance. And the ref didn't give us any Fergie time!

But - we can still get 4th (with 71 pts)if we beat Spurs, Aston Villa & West Ham & lose to Arsenal, so long as Spurs lose to Manure & win their other games & end on 70 pts.

Philip said...

bringing Vieira on was sensible - turned the match in our favour. We were getting overrun and Nani was running at Onuoha over and over again. As soon as Vieira came on, we regained control and IMO looked the more likely to win it in the last 10 minutes.

In fact their goal came from an attack of ours that broke down (and from SWP and Ireland switching off...).

If anything, the Vieira sub showed that Mancini perhaps made a mistake in playing 4-2-4. Today was a day for 3 midfielders IMO, in hindsight.

I do agree that if Bellamy and Tevez, who were both poor, had had good games, we would have won. But they didn't, and the rags are still (marginally) better than we are, so they won.

Danny said...

Philip - Agree entirely re Vieira. I see the decision to bring him on has received plenty of criticism (unsurprisingly) but his introduction calmed our play down as were too anxious and tried to force too much.

After he came on, we had our best and most sustained spell of pressure, also creating our best chances.

Interestingly too that people have suggested settling for a point cost when conceding the late goal, yet, it was as a result of attacking (with the move breaking down with players committed) that led to Scholes's goal.

TPB said...

NDJ is a good player but I don't think it's right to suggest we wouldn't have conceded had he been on.

thomas said...

De jong had a niggle.
Vieira gave us a target and nearly scored.
Ireland came on to give us some spark going forward, but yet again failed to get involved, and was at fault for not tracking scholes, simply watched him go by. Onouha too was at fault.

We did look as though we were holding on for a draw, rather than trying to win it!

Arsenal look weak, lets stuff em!

StanMCFC said...

Agree with Trevbrierly. The prime culprit for United's goal was Bellamy: was suicidal at that stage to play a risky cross-field ball. A poor decision but no use slaughtering him for it as in other games he's been a match-winner.

Adam said...

Can't blame Mancini for the loss.

As has been stated in another post, in the closing stages, we looked most like winning. It was just a sucker punch.

For me, this was more gutting that any of the other losses to United this season, simply put, because this is the only one we deserved to win.

Anyway, the real devastating result of the weekend is Spurs' win at Chelsea.

Still... there's a long way still to go until the end of the season.

Hemulen said...

Not too mention Ireland completely missing Scholes running past him for the goal, and then whinging at the others, who were busy doing their job of marking, for not picking him up!

nick said...

It's interesting that people are seeing something I'm not with Vieira, cos Mancini clearly sees agrees with you! I was at this game -amongst others- and had the opportunity to watch Vieira's work off the ball. The number of times the ball came into a zone you could reasonably expect a player to cut out passes, adjust his position to shepherd players into less dangerous areas or make a tackle, and he just couldn't do it. His brain is still working; he makes generally good decisions when he is on the ball. But his legs are gone. He lacks the mobility to compete at the defensive end and as a defensive-minded midfielder, surely that's what he's in there for?