Sunday, 29 August 2010

Sunderland 1 - 0 City

  • I suppose it's useful to get this grounding reminder in now, this side of the international break. A win today and the thirteen day rest period might have incubated optimism so much that any September set-backs would have been shattering. But today was an important intervention from the simple realities of the Premier League: if we want to reach our potential we have to take our chances, we have to keep the ball under pressure, we cannot gift stoppage time penalties.

  • The plan was to replicate the Liverpool performance. It was the same line-up, with Yaya Touré supporting Carlos Tévez through the middle and Adam Johnson and James Milner out wide. Sunderland started cautiously, cannier than Liverpool in 4-5-1 and making it harder for us to keep the ball. We were not perfect but we did manage to create chances, once we had breached their midfield. Both Yaya and Tévez had success running at the back, and combined to create a perfect chance.

  • This deserves a paragraph of its own. We broke after defending a corner, and Yaya barrelled past two or three challenges. Three on one in their box, he drew out the 'keeper and passed to Tévez on the penalty spot. Unchallenged, Tévez had time to take a touch and steady himself. But he just clipped it over the bar. In its complacency, its laziness and its sloppiness it summed up everything that was wrong with our performance. I can't remember the last miss that bad from a City striker. Suffice to say that Bernardo Corradi, Darius Vassell, Jô or Lee Bradbury would feel as if they had not done themselves justice had they made the same mistake. We made another half chance or two, but that miss was a blow from which we never recovered.

  • The second half was another country. At White Hart Lane we went from first half buffetting to second half control; today we made the reverse change. Steve Bruce made two half-time changes and they re-set the tempo. They pressed us relentlessly, moved the ball forward quickly. We had no time on the ball, it took us almost twenty minutes to string three successive passes together. For the most part we reduced Sunderland to half chances, and only the reflexes of Simon Mignolet kept out Emmanuel Adebayor's flick from a corner. Sunderland were certainly on top, but were nevertheless gifted their winner.

  • Two minutes into stoppage time a hopeful ball was slung towards Darren Bent. Micah Richards, marking him, decided to ignore the ball and rugby tackle Bent. Mike Dean awarded the penalty and Bent fired it underneath Joe Hart. Carlos Tévez might be why we did not win today but Micah Richards is why we lost. It was brainless defending, the best example yet of why Richards is not what we hoped he might be. And, like the sloppy finishing, the lack of ball retention, the stoppage time sickening, all the more upsetting for being so familiar.


jackblue said...

Richards is not why we lost! We lost because Mancini was out-thought by the imbecile Bruce. With the team being out muscled in the second half, it isn't rocket science to know that Jo and Adebayor are not what you need to negate them. Made me so mad to lose to a woeful Sunderland team that will probably get relegated.

Mark the Spark said...

We lost because of Richards. And we will lose more because of him if he continues to get major time. A football team is only as good as it's weakest link. He is City's.

city_slacker said...

Very harsh on Richards JPB, he played well, his general play was fine, and in fact his positional play was even fine on the penalty incident. The reason the penalty was given was because he correctly played Bent offside, and then panicked when it wasnt given. He's clearly half a yard off! Teves should take full blame for the loss, not even taking the miss into account. He tried too hard to amend- his dropping too deep in the second half ruined the team shape,his attempted passing was woeful,and decision making was so poor we never had a chance of scoring a goal in a move passing through him. Incidently, I was at the game, and thought Barry was excellent in centre mid, his calm control under pressure when the rest were hoofing the ball anywhere is always nice to watch.