Thursday, 1 April 2010

TLDORC March awards

One of the quieter months of the season - only four games, and just ten goals were scored. All we had for drama was the undignified tussle between Mancini and David Moyes in stoppage time at Eastlands, for which Mancini now faces an FA charge. On the pitch, we failed to capitalise on the remarkable Stamford Bridge conquest quite as well as we might. Seven points from a possible twelve is probably only one or two fewer than we would have wanted, and fourth place is still in our hands. It started with a strange game at Sunderland - a woeful first half performance was followed by a real improvement and a deserved Adam Johnson equaliser, before we went to Craven Cottage and beat a very flat Fulham side 2-1. Then it was Everton - even more of a bogey side than Fulham - and a characteristic capitulation. The month ended with a game which we needed mistakes from the referee and opposition goalkeeper to put us ahead in. We barely played ninety minutes of good football all month - the second half at Stadium of Light, the first half at Craven Cottage and maybe a few glimpses when ahead and against ten man Wigan at Eastlands. But fortunately we have a striker who can win us games no matter how poorly we play.

Sunderland (a) 1-1 (thoughts, reax)
Fulham (a) 2-1 (thoughts, ratings, reax)
Everton (h) 0-2 (thoughts, ratings, reax)
Wigan Athletic (h) 3-0 (thoughts, ratings, reax)

Player of the Month

Carlos Tévez. Without build-up, caveats, honourable mentions or qualifications. Carlos Tévez's contribution dwarfed those of his teammates in March, just as it did in December and January. After a quiet game at Sunderland he was back to his best at Fulham. Roberto Mancini tends to ask him to lead the line on the road but in that game he was given the license to play off Roque Santa Cruz, a much more natural pairing than Tévez in tandem with Adebayor. Carlos was relentless, running across and between defenders - it was like he was doing a bleep test on a carousel. When he surged past Chris Smalling and clipped it past Mark Schwarzer it was all he deserved. He tried hard against Everton - leading the line again - but couldn't beat Tim Howard. Against Wigan he was our best player yet again, not on Adebayor's wavelength and therefore having to do it all himself. He ran at defenders, nearly winning us two or three penalties, before opening the scoring after Vladimir Stojkovic bottled a challenge with Ade. He went on to score two more - his second hat-trick of the season.

He is now on 19 EPL goals and 25 in all competitons, overtaking Nicolas Anelka's 17 EPL goals from 2003/04 - the Elk also scored 25 in all competitions. More importantly, he has overtaken Anelka as our best striker of the modern era. And he has a bigger task than Anelka ever did - dragging us into the top four. Because we are a nakedly one man team, and have been for months. There has been much discussion of how much United and Arsenal will miss Wayne Rooney and Cesc Fàbregas - and of course they will - but I think they will only decline marginally. Without Tévez we would be a terrible side. We don't create enough chances, and more and more of our goals come about through his individual contribution. He is the one thing keeping us in the hunt for Champions League football. Long may he continue scoring. Because if he stops, we're finishing sixth or seventh.

Goal of the Month

Adam Johnson v Sunderland

We haven't scored enough dramatic stoppage time goals this season. We've conceded two at Old Trafford, but not scored one as far as I can remember. So it was exciting to get a point that late in the game. Even more exciting, though, was the way it was scored: AJ picking up the ball on the edge of the box and curling it in the smallest of gaps beyond Craig Gordon. I still think he meant it.

Individual performance of the month

Carlos Tévez v Wigan

His second hat-trick of the season! When was the last time a City player did that?


alan said...

For an amusing take on Adam Johnson and old school wingers, I recommend Harry Pearson in The Guardian.

"so pale it was as if they have never ventured out in daylight, or spent the afternoon lying under a sun-bed with the dial set to "suck""


JonRoseHill said...

Easily the best goal of the month and possibly the season was Tevez v Fulham. Various one-twos, nutmegged Murphy and platted future United centre half Smalling's legs before stroking past one of the best keepers in the league.

JonRoseHill said...

Although for impact/statement/style Adebayor against Blackburn on the first day of the season takes some beating. Pity the scorer has turned out to be everything I feared him to be. Let Tevez do his thing and play Santa Cruz up top even if he is just a stationary thing for Carlos to play off!