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The Rage (Sunderland 1, City 0)

29 August 2010

City players share my disbelief at their shocking 1-0 defeat at The Stadium of Light.

Full disclosure: I’m writing angry, still seething right now from an abysmal loss by City that resulted from profligacy, complacency, and idiocy. The Stadium of Light isn’t normally an easy place to win at, but this should’ve been a relatively drama-free three points.

The tone for the day was set when Carlos Tévez, the goal completely empty, managed to somehow balloon Yaya Touré’s routine square ball over the crossbar. It was shocking stuff. If Antolín Alcaraz hadn’t locked up Miss of the Season yesterday at White Hart Lane, this surely would have been the leading contender for that dishonor.

Correctly embarrassed, Tévez then proceeded to try to make up for it, and in the process, hurt his team again. After intercepting a careless Sunderland pass in the attacking third, Tévez declined to find a wide-open Micah Richards, who would have been one on one with the keeper, opting to deal with two defenders himself and eventually try a low-percentage shot that was stopped.

It was a woeful display from the Argentine, whose only contribution on the day was a pass between a Sunderland defenders legs to Yaya Touré. Unfortunately, the big midfielder’s shot went out for a corner. From that point on, Tévez was largely invisible, which I guess is better than his first half “contributions.”

City should have scored again late in the half, when a corner resulted in Yaya Touré ending up with the ball at his feet at the far post with all sorts of time, but Sunderland’s backup keeper, Simon Mignolet, made a great save to keep it level. With a first half that should have seen City in front by two or three goals ending scoreless, the only good thing you could say about it was that it was a dominating performance by a road side. Roberto Mancini’s men were comfortable in possession and had created all the best chances.

That changed after half time. City came out flat, and it was maddening to watch their midfield cede so much possession to a Sunderland side that had struggled to keep the ball in the first 45 minutes. Joe Hart actually was pressed into service on a couple of occasions — not in the capacity of stopping shots, mind you, but coming out to deal with some aerial balls into the box.

The normally calm Mancini appeared to feel the same way I did about his side’s second-half performance. The commentators repeatedly made mention of his visible unhappiness on the touch line, and eventually we were treated to a montage of the Italian manager’s exasperated reactions. Yet a change didn’t come until the 75th minute, with the substitution of Emmanuel Adebayor for Joleon Lescott, with Gareth Barry sliding back to left back.

I wasn’t a fan of the move at the time, but it did bear fruit. Adebayor looked to have scored with a remarkable shot from point-blank range. The Togolese striker used what appeared to be the sole of his boot to redirect the ball high into the goal with some real pace, only for Mignolet to deny him with a superb reaction save. That’s when the feeling began to sink it that it simply wasn’t City’s day.

It wasn’t until stoppage time that Mancini made the move he should’ve made much earlier, subbing off his underperforming captain. I wouldn’t have brought on Jô, but anyone was better than Tévez at that point.

The prospect of dropping points with a 0-0 draw was upsetting enough, but another boneheaded moment from Richards gave Sunderland a chance to make City’s awful day complete with a loss. The City right back basically tackled Darren Bent inside the six-yard box as a cross came in, and the penalty call was one of the easier ones you’ll ever see a referee make. Hart should have saved a very weak spot kick from Bent that actually managed to slide underneath the diving City keeper, but blaming him for the goal would be unfair.

There’s plenty of blame to go around for that debacle, such that Tévez and Richards don’t need to be the only ones singled out. James Milner and Adam Johnson might as well have stayed in the dressing room at half time and were major culprits in the terrible second half. Mancini’s delay in making changes was enraging, while Nigel de Jong also had one of his worst halves in a City shirt in the second 45 minutes.

Just like that, all the momentum from Monday’s destruction of Liverpool is gone, replaced by the most negativity at the club since the awful performance against Spurs back in May that doomed last season. The kicker is that thanks to the upcoming international break, I have two weeks where just thinking about City makes me furious. Unfortunately, I know from past experience that I don’t have a chance of breaking that habit. I just feel sorry for the dog, who seems to take my anger personally. I guess at least this time I didn’t destroy any patio furniture?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Andy Glockner permalink
    29 August 2010 12.49pm

    Is it wrong that I saw the score from this game on soccernet and came over to TGD in like 0.3 seconds to see if you had posted a report? 🙂

  2. 29 August 2010 12.57pm

    I should have just smashed the surviving Adirondack chair and posted a photo of it.

    • Andy Glockner permalink
      29 August 2010 1.08pm

      Sorry, man. Rough day at the office, and yeah, the international break comes at a lame time. Just as we’re getting into the season, we have to wait two weeks for Matchday 4.

  3. Bob Brewer permalink
    30 August 2010 8.40pm

    I never bought into the experts when they said that Manchester City didn’t have the title credentials because they didn’t have that “winning mentality” or “championship spirit”. Chelsea didn’t have it either until they bought all the talent out there and finally got it done.

    I thought City would do that and be right up there. But this result just makes me wonder if Mancini has what it takes tactically to win a road game. Maybe there is something to it.

    • 31 August 2010 9.49pm

      Bob, it’s hard to know what to blame for this one. City were both wasteful with their chances and unlucky. The thing that displeased me the most was the way they allowed the match to get out from under their thumb in the second half. While Sunderland didn’t manage to create a single chance outside of the Richards penalty in stoppage time, it did feel to an extent like Spurs’ 30 Minutes of Fury in the opener, with City unable to get and hold on to the ball.

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