Thursday, 23 September 2010

WBA 2 - 1 City

  • If I had one desire for this season it was a trophy. Even a final would have sated me. And knowing that we are not going to win the Barclay's Premier League this year (and who would want to - it's so frightfully vulgar), all energy must surely be channelled into the cups. And of the three cups, the League Cup is surely our best bet. Yesterday afternoon we were just five games away from Wembley. The numbers are the same in the FA Cup but the stronger opposition makes it harder. We've played three Europa League games already but we've got another thirteen until Lansdowne Road. And so for Roberto Mancini to justify his team selection by saying that this is the fourth most important competition strikes an obvious wrong note.
  • Of course I understand the need for rotation. And I appreciate that players are tired, that we need to be at our strongest for consecutive home games against Chelsea and Juventus. But there is a middle way. This was not a home game. This was not against a team that should be rolled over, like, say, Northampton Town. It was an away tie against a Premier League side. So to go into it with a back four of Greg Cunningham, Ben Mee, Dedryck Boyata and Javan Vidal (one Premier League start between the four of them) was so knowingly suicidal as to make you wonder what the point was.
  • The key in the Carling Cup, as Manchester United show, is to do just enough. Yes, rest and rotate. But you can't just send your lads aimlessly over the top towards the German lines. You've got to give them a chance. So why he didn't supplement the team with more quality and experience is beyond me. In previous games where Mancini has rotated - Scunthorpe away in January, Timişoara at home in August, he has always kept his two lieutenants, Vincent Kompany and Nigel de Jong in the side. With those two instead of Ben Mee and Abdi Ibrahim we would, at the least, have had a decent spine running through the side. It might not have been enough: I would have wanted James Milner instead of either Roque Santa Cruz or John Guidetti too, in all honesty. But those changes do seem consistent with putting out respectable teams in our next few games.
  • Whereas now our chances of winning trophies this year have probably halved. I didn't watch the game (£60 well-saved in retrospect) so I don't have any opinions of my own about it, but by all accounts West Brom's side (not their first choice, either, it must be said) comfortably deserved to progress. Now, it's quite possible that we'll continue to progress through Europe, or that by the time the FA Cup rolls around we'll have seen off injuries, Silva will be fully settled in and we'll be flying. We could even be on for a treble by then, but that contingency is a fairly remote one. We have maimed our chances of trophies this year. What makes Mancini think he can be so casual and flippant about this?


Tommy Chong said...

I have been reading this blog for some time and usually find your analysis to be sound and incisive. In this instance, however, I think you have got it badly wrong.

The weakness in last night's team was the back 4, other than that we had an OK, albeit second string, team. There was no way that Mancini could risk using any of the 3 fit first team defenders as that would have seen us being left hopelessly exposed against Chelsea (even if none of them got injured, they would have been shattered, having to play 3 games in 6 days).

I share your disappointment with exiting the cup so early but I do not agree that Mancini is to blame

Inside Manchester City said...

I have to disagree with you on team selection. Yes it would have been good to put out a better side and beat West Brom, but the situation City found themselves in - a huge injury list and a massive game with the best team in the league 64 hours later- meant that it would have been ridiculous to take the course you suggest.

The very fact that, as you mention, West Brom are a Premiership side doesn't detract from this argument, it adds weight to it. It means that we are playing a hard side to beat, on their own ground. With better players in the side, this tie could have stretched to extra time and penalties. Would any serious person wish that upon De Jong, with Essien to cope with, or Kompany, up against a rested Drogba two days later.

Of course not, and it is typical of City fans' current whinging attitude to suggest so. Why don't we - and players such as Adebayor - accept that we are still in the early phases of building a side and get behind Mancini in his task of attempting to build a side of serious Premiership contenders.

Manchester United have had twenty years to create true strength in depth. To cite that as a medium-term goal is fair enough: to expect it to already be in place is nonsense.

At the moment we all tend to veer between saying we are going to win everything and plumbing the depths of despair every time we hit a hurdle. If City get anything out of the Chelsea game, it will be a vindication of Mancini's choice: and even if we dont, it still will have been the only sensible option to have taken.

Anonymous said...

Jack, obviously I don't to start a bandwagon of criticism towards you, but I do have to agree with the first two comments. I think you're being particularly negative and harsh towards Mancini.

The situation reminded me of a similar one maybe three or four years ago when we were in the FA Cup quarter finals facing West Ham. But first we were playing Wigan (I think) in an important relegation fixture and Stuart Pearce played a full strength side. Of course, a couple of key players proceeded to get injured and we lost the cup tie as a result.

This is the opposite situation, but imagine that Mancini had played Kompany and Zabaleta yesterday. Then presume they may have got injured. We would have been left with a defence of Vidal, Boyata, Touré and Cunningham to face Chelsea!!

Of course Mancini has to prioritise, and no offence intended, I'd rather trust his judgement than yours...

So as the first comment said, I think you have misjudged this article, but fortunately that's an exception as opposed to the norm with TLDORC.

Danny11 said...

I couldn't blame the back four for last night, they got zero protection from the midfield.

Viera occupying the centre circle meant it was left to Ibrahim to do all the chasing and he was simply outnumbered. Guidetti was in the Yaya role and was too deep to cause them any problems, whilst also missing the passing ability and composure of Yaya.
Jo was non existant defensively, AJ had his worst game for us. The less said about Santa Cruz the better, the worst performance I've seen in a blue shirt in years.

dougie said...

well i totally agree with you and don't see your article as a whinge.

i'm 34 years old and have not seen us win a trophy in my lifetime. the last silverware we won was the league cup, so god knows how come we now consider it worthless. the league cup was the trophy both baconface and mourihno used as a springboard to future success. why couldn't we?

mancini made a bad call from where i'm sitting sending out such a weakened team. i'd rather go easy on the europa bore-athon and pull the stops out in the two english cup comps.

we are not going to win the league, so the chelsea game is not the biggest of our season. in any case. either way, we better win on saturday now!

keep up the good work jack

Anonymous said...

Your analysis is frankly bizarre for what it leaves out - three fit senior defenders for Chelsea in less than 72 hours from this match. Perhaps you might care to inform us of the team, and especially the backline, that you would have put out to start against WBA.

I eagerly await your response.....

longwayfromhome said...
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longwayfromhome said...

Theres a fence here and I'm going to sit on it. Lets take another scenario; one where Bobby M fully believes he has the tools at his disposal to mount a serious bid for the Prem or at the very least not settle for 4th. This is a mind set I like many other City fans find hard to contemplate ... glass more than half full; surely not. In this scenario Chelsea is a 6 pointer! how could we not pull out all the stops to get result. So to conclude, if it were me I'd have had a better defence. It wasnt me and perhaps its a bloody good job it wasn't :).

Chas said...

Although it didn't work out, I think Mancini got this one right. The Carling Cup *is* the 4th most important cup. And the youngsters *do* deserve a chance. And it's better to play most of the reserves, who are used to playing with other, rather than some mix n match hotch potch which has always failed us in the past. It's the Wenger method and it generally works well for Arsenal, although they fall flat on their faces too sometimes.

trinder said...

Could it be that Mancio fielded a weakened side because he doesn't want to progress? Last year's semi finals were fantastic fun (bar the last two mins) but they took an expensive toll. We dropped 22 points after the second semi in January, and lost the league's fourth place by 3 points. Maybe, just maybe, the effort expended in what were for City unusually exacting games could have been used to accumulate a win and a draw.

Mancio will be judged on whether we achieve fourth, and forgiven fifth place only if we win the Uefa Cup, so every league game is worth so much more than a domestic cup win.

Lee F said...

I'm with Lonely on this one. Does anyone really believe we have a chance of winning the league and that Chelsea is a six pointer? Success breeds success and the Carling Cup would have been a good start and at least got that banner taken down. Are we to believe a professional footballer cannot play a game on a Wednesday and 3 days later play again. They could play for 60 mins and at least give us the platform. When we are over this mini injury crisis we can have it so players play once a week but not atb the moment. Winning the Carling Cup and 4th place would be a dream season for me.

trinder said...

Lee, the Chelsea game is a six pointer. We took that many off them last season. It's not that we're competing with them for the league; it's that we need every point we can get. The Champions League place has to take precedence over everything else.

Luke said...
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Luke said...

I'm with Jack on this one.

After having made such an investment in the last few seasons, we need to take every opportunity to rebuild a winning tradition seriously & tenaciously.

That should be the MCFC way.

This is a bitter pill to swallow.