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Too cute

26 August 2012

With Glockner more fixated on The Dems than a Romney campaign worker, I promise this post contains no mention of Fulham or any of its soon-to-be-former players.

Earlier today, I watched City leave Anfield with a point, despite a pretty lifeless and sloppy performance. It was tough to watch my boys get outplayed after the first 20 minutes by a pretty mediocre Liverpool side. City looked fragmented, with little link-up play between defense and midfield and even less between the mids and the attackers. The result was a lot of cheap giveaways and way too many hopeful aerial balls hoofed upfield — and a showing difficult to reconcile with the title of Defending Champs.

Roberto Mancini has to bear the brunt of the blame for this one, as the subpar performance started with his team selection. He dropped David Silva to the bench following the Spaniard’s woeful match last weekend against Southampton. Even more curiously, he benched Joleon Lescott in favor of Kolo Touré, playing alongside Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta in a three-man back line.

It was the latest bit of defensive tinkering from Mancini, who seems intent on messing with a good thing. Not content with the most miserly defense in the Prem last season, Mancini decided to play around with a three-man defense in the preseason. Today’s poor defensive display speaks for itself.

Not having Lescott out there bit City in a big way on the opening goal, when Zabaleta was beaten in the air by Martin Škrtel. I’ll admit I’m not privy to the intricacies of Mancini’s zonal marking scheme on corners, but if it’s as simple as him occupying Lescott’s spot, that goal is on Mancini, as I’d bet the farm on Lescott getting to that ball ahead of Škrtel.

The second Liverpool goal was on Joe Hart, as he built just a four-man wall with two Liverpool players hovering over the free kick, and positioned that wall such that Luiz Suarez was able to circumnavigate it pretty easily with a free kick. Jack Rodwell didn’t crumble on that edge of the wall. He just wasn’t positioned properly.

Fortunately, the Reds were in a charitable mood, first with a pretty sloppy first equalizer, then with a second that was an absolute gift from Škrtel. I’m trying to think of any positives from this one or pick out any players who played particularly well, and I’m at a loss. Still, a point at Anfield isn’t the end of the world, especially when you play as crappily as City did today.

I’m just mostly concerned about a City defense that is leaking goals at an alarming rate, and that frankly has looked shambolic way too often in a young season only three matches old. I don’t know if by playing Touré, Mancini is attempting to make a point to Brian Marwood about the need for defensive reinforcements or what. If so, this is bordering on cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.

Meanwhile, at The Banshee, where I watched the match with some fellow City fans and a bunch of Liverpool supporters, the final whistle was met with stoned silence. The Liverpool fans probably were thinking about the goals they gifted us. We were thinking about how poor our boys played today.

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