Thursday, January 6, 2011


This Roadkill Has More Guts than Manchester City
photo by yuhuivia PhotoRee

Wednesday's EPL results were a serious boon to Manchester United's title chances, as every major pretender to the throne dropped points.  Both teams in Blue -- Chelsea and Manchester City -- suffered yet another setback in their efforts to pin back United, and Sir Alex and the boys had to enjoy watching the spectacle, which was the equivalent of a slow-motion car wreck.  Perhaps best from United's point of view was the listless draw played out at the Emirates between City and Arsenal, in which Roberto Mancini and his boys seemed most inspired by the "adventurous" cantennacio play that typifies the Seria A. 

I have another word for it, though: Gutless. That's the word that best sums up City's approach to the English title race. With a chance to go in and lay down a marker, City instead displayed -- yet again -- a genuine fear of winning and a played with a negative, gutless approach, showing no real intention of even trying to score, and grinding out a nil-nil draw at the Emirates.

Steve McManaman on ESPN had it about right during the game, putting it in a more politic way: Roberto Mancini and the boys in Sky Blue lack ambition. Sure, they're competitive, but they ought to be. Their salaries exceed the team's revenue, which is considerable. But if they want to try and be Champions any time soon, please do so with just an ounce of ambition. Don't go in playing for the nil-nil draw. This is not the Serie A, Roberto.

I mean, seriously, champions win games; they don't fear losing them.  And it's all in the mindset.  This wasn't one of those tough fought games where City had an off night yet still managed to "grind out" a result.  This game went exactly as Mancini and his boys diagrammed; they got what they wanted.  But nil-nil draws are not what you set out for when you're trying to win the English Championship. They're not impressive, awe-inspiring, or fun to watch in any way, shape or form. I'd rather walk 25 miles in a blizzard to see Arsenal's tiki-taka triangles than lie down on my couch with beer in hand to see Roberto's boys play for another scoreless draw.

But maybe Roberto knows something we don't. Maybe he knows deep down his current team isn't capable of scoring multiple goals, and that he can't find the strikers -- among the multiple names he already has on his roster -- especially in big games, and on the road. So he does what he knows they can do: defend, and play solely for the Italian style win: 1-0. 
Boring, Boring, City....

On the other half of the Blue watch was Chelsea Coach
Carlo Ancelloti, who looked as if he was attending a funeral last night, which in a way he was, as last rites have now been given for Chelsea's chance to retain the Premiership. The Blues collapse has been as shocking as it is sudden, and lately they can appear to do no right. Balls that ended up in the net a few short weeks ago are now rolling just wide, and early season leading scorers Florent Malouda and Solomon Kalou have looked like champions -- that is, they've looked as if they belong in The Championship. 

It's now a legitimate question as to where Chelsea will be playing their European football next season. Will it continue to be in the Champions League, or could they drop down a level to the Europa League?  Before the answer to that question is revealed, though, an even more urgent one will have to be answered: what is to happen to Carlo?

Say what you like about the Dapper Don, but -- pay attention here, Roberto -- when he had his shot at the title last season (which looks a long time ago these days, to be honest), Carlo seized it with both hands, playing free flowing, swashbuckling football to the tune of 103 goals. 

But the situation appears to be increasingly untenable at the Bridge.  It's evident to even the casual observer that there is some serious internal dissent splintering the Chelsea locker room, at all levels. Drogba is rumored to have had a bust up with Terry -- which is a huge plus in my book for the Big Ivorian, by the way -- and the only way Carlo could have been more dismissive of Michael Emenalo on the bench yesterday would be if he actually gave him the "talk to the hand" sign instead of just waving him off and politely ignoring him.

Winless in their last six games away from home equals Chelsea's worst run of form in the past decade, and that would be bad enough if only their home form were much better -- but it's not. Fortunate to scrape by with a win against Bolton -- thanks solely to referee Lee Mason and his assistants -- Chelsea drew disastrously with Villa and Everton and were spanked by Sunderland in their last few outings at the Bridge.  

This is a team with some serious issues at the moment.  So while the boys in blue, both dark and light, toiled their way to zero goals between their twin efforts, United and their fans enjoyed the day off, as well as the results.   There's a long way still to go in the season, but the ball is clearly at United's feet for the time being.

This is farlieonfootie for January 7.

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