Tuesday, 21 December 2010

City 1 - 2 Everton

  • Just as we were on the brink of novelty (first Christmas lead since 1929 had we won, as I'm sure you know), we get dragged back by the most familiar result in the calendar: the home defeat to Everton. The stoppage time United winner, the home surrender to Fulham, the blitzing by Spurs: they've all made deep grooves in my psyche through repeated inflictions, but the home defeat to Everton has a special resonance for me now. Four straight years. I suppose routine is healthy, in a way. I guess that to beat Everton, finally, at Eastlands, and to go top, the day after Mancini's first anniversary, and the day of Carlos Tévez's withdrawn request might have been a confluence of symbols and landmarks too far. By that I mean, it would have led to too many people (me included) saying too many things along the lines of 'this is where it all went right' or so forth. Unhealthy at this stage of the season, perhaps.

  • Or maybe I'm trying to rationalise my way out of another deeply sour mood brought about by David Moyes' team. There is something particularly frustrating about losing to Everton. It grows out of the relative aggregate costs of the teams, I think. A mixture of embarrassment that we should get outplayed and outfought by a team so much cheaper than ours, and resentment at that very fact being driven back at us by others. This was probably the worst one yet: we started the day thirteen places ahead of Everton in the table, nearly at the half-way point of the season. How big will the gap between the teams be for us to beat them?

  • Of all the familiar ways of starting such a familiar defeat, it had to be a Tim Cahill header. There is no better way to disrupt a gameplan in this sort of match than to concede quickly, so this was terrible. Aleksandar Kolarov fecklessly failed to stop a cross from coming in, and while Vincent Kompany believed he passed Cahill on to Kolo Touré, Kolo stoody idly by as Cahill nodded the ball in at the near post. It was almost like Mark Hughes nostalgia defending to commemorate the anniversary of his dismissal. Fifteen minutes later we conceded a second; a lovely, curled goal by Leighton Baines, who cut inside and beyond auxilliary right-back James Milner. 0-2, 20 minutes in.

  • With a two-goal cushion, Everton had every right to withdraw within their 18 yard box and defend what they had. Moyes had clearly learnt the same lesson that Blackburn, Birmingham and - to a lesser extent - Manchester United knew: defend narrowly, and with little space between the lines. Everton were very relaxed in ceding wide positions to us, in the knowledge that crosses to Tévez are fairly worthless tools. Silva, Yaya Touré, Balotelli, Tévez and Adam Johnson are all players who like to cut inside: by blocking off the central space Moyes blocked our preferred routes to goal. Yes, we had almost all of the ball, but, crucially, it was always possession and territory on Moyes' terms. We barely ever got the ball between Everton's lines, and certainly never between them. An own goal pulled one back, and we did hit the post, but for all our passing we did not look like breaking through Everton as much as we should, which points to a lack of variation in our attacking play. Regardless of the extent or sincerity of Tévez's commitment, there is a footballing case for Edin Džeko.

  • Ultimately, we put ourselves in an almost insurmountable position by conceding those early goals. Not that it's impossible to score twice against Everton at home, but once they had their lead they defended it so doggedly that it was always going to be difficult to claw back. Even putting the derby to one side, two points from home games against Everton, Blackburn and Birmingham is the sort of record that got Mark Hughes in trouble. We clearly lack variety against teams that defend deep and narrow; once visitors have leads, as Blackburn and Everton did, their incentives to play like that are almost total. Losses like this demand instant rectification: St. James' Park on Boxing Day is crucial.

6 comments:

MCFC said...

Diabolical defending aside ... when are City going to get the rub of the green on penalty decisions.
We should have had 1, possibly 2 penalties tonight.....

Simon said...

You could have predicted the result as soon as the news that Tevez had withdrawn his transfer request had broken. As you pointed out too many good things in one night isn't possible.
I also agree with the 'losing to Everton' feeling. I have never liked Moyes. I know a lot of people say he's a good, young(ish) British manager but personally I think he's overrated and is quick to moan and complain when things don't go his way. And his angry face just isn't scary in the slightest.
Feeling very bitter this morning. The good news about Carlos does take the sting out of it a little but would still have liked a home win.

Callum Tyler said...

As you mention our crosses were pointless given the forwards we have. Adebayor isn't that great either - i think we really do need dzeko. big, strong, quick striker like him to partner tevez and the title could come that bit closer...


Read more about Dzeko's career to date on my blog;
http://jenslehmannsterms.blogspot.com/2010/12/come-and-get-me-bobby.html

griff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
longwayfromhome said...

This kind of defeat eats at my psyche. Moyes's percentage football and Walton's pathetic attempts to keep up with play year after year after year just gnaw at the soul. Whoever (Barry? Milner?) failed to mark the player at the edge of the box (and thus created the need for Kompany to rush to mark him) was to blame for Goal 1 just as much as Kolarov's fairy attempt to prevent the cross. The second shouldn't have happened because 10 minutes off the pitch is too long and a substitution should have been made for Zab - however well he may be playing. That said the statistics show a good attempt to break down what is at the best of times a stout 9 man defence. Just one of the overdue penalties would have made a difference. Maddening!

trinder said...

You touched on the two big errors for the goals. Kolarov for the first and Toure for the second turned their backs on a cross and a shot respectively. That's unacceptable.

I can't bear the man but John Terry would have put his knackers on the line and charged in facing the ball, thus preventing both goals.