Sunday, 1 January 2012

Sunderland v Manchester City: Post Match

How on earth did City manage to lose that game? It was the kind of end to the game that City fans of a certain standing will have been fearing, virtually the last kick of the game from a goal that was offside.

That's the way City have generally gone about their business for more years than I care to remember. In previous years fans would have just laughed it off as 'typical City', but with the squad City now have and the money that has been spent it's more difficult to accept results like that when there is so much to play for. Still, it's something we have to do. Perhaps not laugh it off, but accept the result and move on.

City had round 60% possession of the ball, 10 corners, and 25 attempts on goal. Sunderland had their backs to the wall on a number of occasions and played almost entirely on the break which is something City are going to have to quickly learn to overcome if they are to continue on their title challenge.

Mancini was clearly unimpressed that the opportunity to go 3 points clear wasn't taken as several players simply did not perform up to the required standard that Roberto has come to expect from his players despite the match stats. In fact Mancini was so unhappy he left the touchline and headed down the tunnel after the goal was conceded and before the game ended. He looked like a man who had been let down in a big way.

Most of the players in question are those that have had to watch from the sidelines in recent weeks and you would have thought they would have grabbed the chance with both hands, but that didn't happen. The passing in the final third of the pitch was pretty poor almost throughout the 90 minutes and it got worse the closer to goal it got.

Yaya, Nasri, Johnson, Kolarov and Kompany were all guilty of playing the ball into the box with little to no conviction or purpose. Dzeko's passing was pretty bad throughout too, and unfortunately his shooting was even worse. 1/3 of his passes were wayward and only 1 of his 10 shots were on target.

One player who can hold his head high despite the defeat is Gareth Barry who was as dependable as ever. Despite losing, Kompany and Lescott also played well defensively overall.

I'm not sure I can recall feeling this disappointed about a result in the last 12 months or so, and we're still top of the league! Perhaps the result against Everton last December was as close to the same frustration many have exhibited after this result. I suppose that's an indication of just how far City have come in the last 3 years.

City may well be going through the sticky patch that all teams go through at some point in the season, although the results themselves other than this one against Sunderland haven't actually been that bad. A loss at Stamford Bridge, a draw at the Hawthorns and two wins at home isn't too much to be worried about at this point.

A big kick up the backside is needed after this performance before Liverpool in 2 days, and some players will be kicking themselves as they have missed an opportunity to really show their worth to the squad today. Plenty of games are coming up though in the next couple of months so they will get another chance. Lets hope they take it.

In brief summary of the game it was a story of poor passing in the final third, extremely poor finishing from all involved, some good defending from Sunderland and an offside goal that stole the 3 points at the death. I probably should have put that first so you didn't have to read all of the above. It'd have saved a minute or two of your time anyway.

Thankfully, most other teams in the title and top 4 challenges also slipped up this week. Manchester United lost at home to Blackburn, Chelsea lost at home to Aston Villa, and Spurs drew away to Swansea. Only Liverpool and Arsenal picked up 3 points so it's not all bad.

Twitter: @MikeWalsh1880
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