Sunday, 3 October 2010

City 2 - 1 Newcastle

  • It can't always be like last Saturday. This was a woeful performance; hangover-sluggish, stinking of 'will this do?'. But, thanks to the crucial interventions of Martin Atkinson and Adam Johnson, we managed to escape with three points. This is what the top teams do, I suppose. The 'Big Four' are no strangers to the unconvincing, referee-abetted home win. But at no stage was this enjoyable; there was a thread of embarassment, starting with Nigel de Jong's breaking Hatem ben Arfa's leg and continuing through two errant penalty decisions, both in our favour.

  • But the main reason I'm frustrated isn't just that this was a flat, pedestrian performance, but that the causes of this were obvious and avoidable. Roberto Mancini went for the same line up (full-backs aside), that beat Chelsea. A central midfield of de Jong, Gareth Barry and Yaya Touré is perfect for containing the champions but in games like this it's limited. There was too much creative burden on James Milner and David Silva; whereas with Adam Johnson starting as well we would have been more varied and better balanced.

  • Brian Kidd said after the game that Mancini deserves credit for bringing Johnson on when he did. True enough. But the right decision, surely, would have been to play him from the start? Despite our lack of tempo in midfield we managed to create first half opportunities thanks to Newcastle's high line. With Johnson in the side we might have not needed a gift from Martin Atkinson to go ahead; he awarded a penalty for a tackle that probably took the ball and was certainly outside the box. I don't know which decision was worse, that one, or the failure to punish Joleon Lescott for chopping Shola Ameobi in the box. Either way, we were the beneficiaries of some generous charity from the officials.

  • We did look livelier with Johnson and Adebayor on, it must be said. Johnson's goal was thrilling, going inside Joey Barton, outside José Enrique and firing into the far bottom corner. I don't think my comparisons with Arjen Robben are entirely facetious. Adebayor, of whom I am not the biggest fan, looked lively and determined, causing problems across the front line. When might just have poached something on the break when 2-1 ahead, too, as David Silva drifted into the spaces Newcastle vacated.

  • So it was ugly, lucky, and not much fun. But there's an international break coming and there's no better way to go into one than with a win. Blackpool away isn't for fourteen days, and no-one's going to be talking about Martin Atkinson by the time that rolls around. Grinding out wins is so at odds with the traditional culture of Manchester City that I still don't quite know how to react to it. But if Roberto Mancini is hoping to cultivate a winning mentality at City then there's no better way to do it than results like this.

5 comments:

Jonathan Derbyshire said...

This is risible. We ground out a result against spirited opponents when we weren't playing well. The only "tradition" we offended against today was that in which City come a cropper in the game that follows a famous win. I'm afraid you're going to have to get used to perfunctory victories against moderate opposition - it's what top sides do.

city_slacker said...

I felt De Jong's tackle was excellent and feel sorry for the unlucky ben Arfa. De Jong has performed a lot of 'leg breaker' challenges causing no damage (and the occasional Stuart Holden aftermath as well), but this wasn't one of them (if we ignore the outcome- hindsight is really overrated).
The tackle on Teves was never a pen as it was outside the box, I do agree on that, but I thought it a free-kick in a good position as Williamson had to take the leg before the ball, and we may have scored that effort, who's to say? I never thought Lescott on Ameobi was a penalty though, Ameobi fell forward over a leg whilst standing still, and that's counts as a dive to me.
I reckon a just deserved ground-out win, and I don't care how ugly it came.

Duane Rollins said...

Pour yourself something stiff and try and enjoy the bottom line! Look down the table. Who's that below?

Exactly.

AJ's moment of brilliance aside it was a bit dreadful, but you know what...they won. As you said, that's what championship contending teams playing their third game in eight days do.

Results like Sunday don't fill the heart with joy, but they should appeal to the logically side of our brains.

Three points. If we could have done that a few more times last November Spurs would be in the Europa League.

Alfredo said...

De Jong is an animal! Xabi Alonso, Holden, Ben Arfa... i mean.. come on!!! somebody talk to this punk...

Andy said...

I am wrong, or has there been nothing in the way of a statement regarding the injury to Ben Arfa from either the club or De Jong? Certainly De Jong has not exressed his regret or concern, and I don't think the club has issued a statement of any kind. The 'high fives' while he lay prone were bad enough, but this silence or ignorance is disgraceful.