Overly Cautious Manchester City Hand Rivals The Initiative


Manchester City were very lacklustre and sluggish in their clash today against Tottenham Hotspur and ended up losing the Premier League fixture by four goals to one.

The match was strewn with mistakes from the officials but that doesn’t paper over the cracks that Man City showed during the ninety minutes.

Eyebrows were raised when the line-ups were announced and goalkeeper Joe Hart was dropped to the bench. City boss Manuel Pellegrini had stated before kick-off that his number one keeper had hardly trained all week.

But if Joe was fit enough to start on the bench, then surely he was fit enough to start the match?

I say that because unlike any other substitute in the squad the sub keeper could be called upon at any point and has to be ready and fully available. He cannot be there and only manage sixty minutes or a half, if Willy Caballero injured himself in the first minute then Hart would have had to play the rest of the ninety!

So it was a cautious move, perhaps with Pellegrini keeping an eye on their big midweek match in the Champions League.

Having Hart on the bench just gives confidence to Spurs and is a big distraction for Man City’s own defenders, who were playing together for the first time. They really needed their best keeper playing behind them and keeping them in check.

The selection faux-pas was confounded when Caballero was nowhere near the ball or commanding enough as Tottenham took the lead in the fiftieth minute!

Injuries to key players have also unsettled Manchester City just when it looked like they were going on a huge winning run.

Kompany had a tremendous start to the season and his teams defence is always the stronger with his level head playing at the heart of the defence.

Just when Eliaquim Mangala was showing why he was bought for a £30m fee, Kompany’s injury meant he had to get used to yet another defensive partner and then he too got injured.

So that meant that new boy Nicolas Otamendi and veteran Martin Demichelis had to play together for the first time in the Premier League. The partnership just didn’t gel for much of the game at White Hart Lane. It was all a bit nervy and too slow.

The City side are really missing David Silva. He is such a creative genius and helps make the team tick, but in saying that Kevin De Bruyne is doing his upmost to take on that play-making mantle.

Much was made of Raheem Sterling’s big transfer during the summer and he has settled in really well for the Citizens but he needs to do more when the chips are down and with key players missing, He cannot just do it in glimpses.

Yaya Toure is another player who has started off brilliantly well but today he was hampered by a hamstring injury and brought off just after the fifty-sixth minute.

I said earlier in the season that Man City needed a new striker after loaning out Stevan Jovetic and Edin Dzeko. That left them with Sergio Aguero, Wilfried Bony and youngster Kelechi Iheanacho.

All fine options if they remain fully fit. But at the moment Sergio Aguero is still trying to find form and fitness, while Bony and Iheanacho were both out due to injury.

I just can’t understand why Pellegrini didn’t bring in another forward in the last transfer window.

Then you look at the subs that came on today, in particular Jesus Navas and Samir Nasri. For me, they just don’t offer enough and don’t make any meaningful impact in the bigger games. They don’t strike fear into the opposition defences.

Now it’s far from a crisis at the Etihad, City are still top of the league (At time of writing) but they have been too slack in recent weeks.

Slipping up at home to Juventus in the Champions League has added undue pressure to the squad and they have since stumbled in the league and that has handed an initiative to the chasers and in particular Manchester rivals Man United.

They really need to keep players free from injury as it seems as though this Man City squad isn’t quite as strong as we were led to believe when the season started.

The best tonic will be a big Champions League victory against Borussia Monchengladbach on Wednesday. Then they could comeback to the Premier League next weekend with a spring back in their step.

But today has to be a warning for Manuel Pellegrini that rotation isn’t always the best policy and that they whole side need to do more!


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