Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hanging by a Thread: Manchester City 2 - Ajax 2

photo by chefrandenvia PhotoRee
o The hot seat beginning to warm up, Roberto Mancini left little to chance, playing an attacking triangle that included Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure up front against the men from Amsterdam. Bearing in mind that his City side will play Spurs at home this weekend, the Italian likely gambled -- correctly or not, still to be determined -- that five days rest would be enough when playing their next game at home.
o Coming as it did against the run of play, the double deflection for the Ajax opener was likely not what Mancini envisioned in his pre-game planning. Nor was De Jong’s uncontested header that made the scorline 2-nil a short six minutes later. On defense City look disorganized, demoralized and generally out of sorts – the same way they’ve appeared for much of the Champions League this season.
o Yaya Toure’s fantastic takedown and sidewinding goal which cut the deficit to one showcased the Ivorian’s game in one flowing move: the brute strength of an NBA power forward, combined with the finesse and footwork of a petite midfielder.
o Mancini doubled down at halftime, replacing Javi Garica with Mario Balotelli. While the move paid off with initial pressure, the ultimate dividend Mancini was hoping for was not immediately apparent.
o Kun Aguero reminded us a bit of Evan Lysacek. Playing as if he had ice skates on, the Argentine hit the deck and slid repeatedly…. Just askin’, but shouldn’t a player know which boots to wear on his home pitch…?
o Not content to use only three of his strikers, Mancini took one last chance at the 65 minute mark to throw in a fourth with the addition of Edin Dzeko – although he took off Tevez in order to do so. But it wasn’t super sub Dzeko who evened the scoreline – as was often the case last year, it was none other than El Kun who pulled the Citizens back to level terms with just over 25 minutes to play.
o Even when moving forward, City looked less like a team than a collection of individual superstars. Each offensive move was less a flow from one player to another than it was a piece of individual brilliance.
o When the winner came, it came from an offside position – and was rightly denied. The resulting 2-2 draw succinctly summed up Manchester City’s season to date – there is no “I” in team -- and left the Citizens and their Manager right where they were when the game kicked off: hanging by a thread.
This is farlieonfootie for November 7.

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