Date:Sunday February 26 2006
Joey Barton was shown the red card for two bookable offences during this afternoon's Northwest derby against Liverpool to heap more pressure on Stuart Pearce's squad, already depleted by a run of bad injuries.
Barton can have no complaints, particulary about the first caution which was both clumsy and un-neccesary. His (and City's) punishment for his 11th yellow card of the season is a three match ban at a crucial time of the season when the Manager needs all his senior players fit and available.
Today's lacklustre first half performance at Anfield surprisingly improved in the second half follwing Barton's dismissal, although City never really looked like or deserved getting anything from the game - what is it about away games that we sit back and just take whatever is thrown at us and only start to play after conceding a goal?
The timing is particularly bad as FA Cup hero, Micah Richards and so far, ever-present Darius Vassell were both missing with injuries. Furthermore, with Sinclair still not fully fit and Reyna and Jihai Sun still not quite ready, City's midfield is down to the bare bones, not helped by having to play some of them out of position.
Psycho will be desperately hoping that some of the injured players recover quickly, but our midfield is a big cause for concern as we just can't win and keep hold of the ball at the moment. The balance just doesn't look right particularly in central midfield and it is a weakness other teams are easily able to exploit. With Barton now absent for three matches, what little bite we had will now be missing.
Recent signing Tuomas Haapala could come into the reckoning but he is still a bit of an unknown quantity at this level. Other options may be to raid the Reserves and Academy, with Willo Flood and Ishmael Miller potentially the most likely to be promoted to the first team squad.
Even if everyone were fully fit, I don't think its clear what City's best midfield combination is..... unless you know better ?
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