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UGH. (Stoke City 1, City 1)

28 November 2010

Now that Glockner’s putting my blogging (un)productivity to shame by fathering entries even with a flurry of activity in his life, I figured I should post something about yesterday City draw. Once again, a sensational performance proved to be nothing more than a false dawn, as Roberto Mancini’s side looked all-too-familiarly disinterested in the first half and lost their concentration late on for yet another costly goal conceded near the end of the match.

It was so bad in the first 45 minutes, it actually made the simpletons who prattle on about “mercenaries” (as if there’s any other type of footballer in this day and age) appear correct about the lack of heart at City. Somehow the first-half possession stats showed City had enjoyed far more time on the ball, which no one watching with me at The Banshee could believe. It was dire stuff, with just one half-chance for the visitors, while Stoke put together a number of good scoring opportunities. I was thankful it was still scoreless at intermission, thanks largely to a very poor miss from Ricardo Fuller.

Whatever Mancini did or said at half time appeared to make a world of difference, as City began brightly after the restarted. There was a lot of possession, and this time it was in the attacking third. You could feel a goal coming for the visitors, and it finally did in the 82nd minute. It came from an unlikely source in the form of Micah Richards, who executed a turning move so beautifully that I actually mistook for Mario Balotelli with no sound in the pub. On the edge of the box, he let the ball run while coming out to meet it, then deftly switched direction, took a nice first touch, and fired just inside Asmir Begovic’s far post to give City a well deserved goal.

It looked like they would hold on for a decent three points away from home, as they continued to enjoy a great deal of comfortable possession, but all of that was undone with 90 seconds of stoppage time remaining. I’m not sure where to assign blame, as the City defense looked completely out of sort. Richards had come into the box to defend Tunçay, while left center back Vincent Kompany somehow was the only one close to Matthew Etherington when the Turk smoothly backheeled to him on the left side of the box.

It was a stunning goal to concede, and made me think of the shambolic, chaotic defending that led to Michael Owen’s late winner at Old Trafford early last season. For all the talk of how he has solidified the defense, this is the second time this season that City have allowed a costly goal in stoppage time (the first being Sunderland’s winner at the death a couple of months back). It’s never City who get the crucial goal in stoppage time. Under Mancini, we’ve seen City blow it in stoppage time on four occasions now.

Something happens to the normally stout City defense when the fourth official’s board comes up. It makes no sense and it’s maddeningly. And until Mancini finds a way to impart some composure into his side, City are going to continue to squander crucial points in excruciating fashion, much like yesterday. And it was a very costly slip-up, with both United and Arsenal winning. One week after injecting themselves back into the title race, City undid all that good work with one lapse in concentration.

At least there’s the chance for mid-week distraction, with a must-win Europa League home date against Red Bull Salzburg looming on Thursday. I can’t wait to see how City blow that.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Andy Glockner permalink
    28 November 2010 1.05pm

    I think you just called me a simpleton?

  2. 28 November 2010 1.11pm

    Nah, you acknowledge that everyone is a mercenary.

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