Friday, 4 February 2011

TLDORC January awards

Sorry this is late. In fact it's so late it's invalid; I have to pretend it was written before Wednesday's triumph at St. Andrew's and yesterday's defeat of WBA. Because February's football has started. This, however, is all about January.

A strange month: the results were good enough. We took seven points from four league games, which is probably only one or two points short of par. We managed to stumble through in the FA Cup, despite three deeply flawed performances. We even brought in one of world's most exciting centre-forwards for £27m. But I don't think we really played as well as we might have done. Most worryingly, our defensive impermeability collapsed. After a run of conceding seven goals in 13 games, we then shipped nine in our next five. Given that defensive solidity is the thing Roberto Mancini values the most, it's a serious failing.

Player of the Month

The fashion over Christmas was to downplay the importance of Carlos Tévez to the side. The main motivation for this was, of course, his transfer request. No one wants to look desperate after rejection. News of that broke on the evening of the West Ham game, when we won with style and ease with Tévez off in Tenerife. Then the purchase of Edin Džeko pointed to a post-Tévez future and a new approach. Advent was infused with a sense that the Carlos Tévez chapter of City's recent history was nearing its end, and that we would be, if not better, then certainly healthier, for its conclusion. Since expressing his 'absolute commitment to the club', then, Tévez has proved us all wholly totally wrong. It has become a truism to accuse him of childishness, but Tévez has responded to the arrival of Džeko like a spoilt child reacting to the birth of a younger sibling: with feats and noise designed to win back the attention and affection currently diverted elsewhere.

Because in January Tévez produced some of his best football in a City shirt. At the Emirates he was heroic, desperately isolated up front but crucial in holding onto the ball as we held on for a point. To be as effective an out-ball as he is given his height is a striking achievement: but his strength, balance and tenacity allow him to back and spin in and out of difficult situations. He was as important to our draw as anyone. At Leicester City he scored his first of 2011, smartly flicking in a cross and working hard in difficult circumstances (ie being on the same side as Jô). Then two more against Wolves; dancing past three defenders for his masterpiece first, before a near-post header for his second. When Leicester came back he was nearly unplayable: thundering home the first, playing a dream pass to Zabaleta for Vieira's goal and then winning a penalty, which he missed. In six January games he scored four goals but missed two penalties as well, which isn't too surprising given his approach. We need him as much as ever.

Performance of the Month

How about Zabaleta against Arsenal? Handled Theo Walcott perfectly.

Goal of the Month

Tevez's first against Wolves. Reminiscent of another stocky shuffling Argentine playing in Spain.

No comments: