Blues In Blunderland?
Is it all bad news? Whilst there is little doubt that the result against Sunderland was devastating, after City's achievements so far this season, there were still a few plus points to come out of the debacle.
Sunderland is never an easy place to go and guarantee yourself three points. Didn't only three teams achieve that at the Stadium of Light last season? Bruce over the years has reduced matches against City to boredom personified, intent on grabbing a goal on the break then defending it like Rorkes's Drift. We must remember how long it took City to beat Wigan.
What he can't have legislated for was a gift wrapped penalty when there was no need.
Starting off in fine form with no goals conceded in serious play City looked the most likely to score and of course Yaya Toure, out of the traps like a greyhound, presented Tevez with a routine opportunity which he somehow contrived to present to the crowd behind the goal. Not only did his head go down for a while but so did many others. If the talisman doesn't score it affects the whole team!
That we shoud have been in front and possibly out of sight at half-time is probably not in doubt, but Sunderland hung in and played like a different team in the second half. Mancini said 'We played too long'. Is that a way of saying that players didn't get back into formation when we gave the ball away? It sounds like it to me.
And classically it was Richards who was behind play and felt the need to impede Bent and deliver a free go from 12 yards. Hart was a bit unlucky and will be probably kicking himself that he get something on that spot kick. We almost expect Joe to save everything these days.
Richards continues to disturb me. He recently said that he has the tendency to 'switch off'. I wonder if this was another example of that as he did not get goal side of Bent. I still think the best option was to allow Bent the attempted header because Hart would probably have dealt with that. In the end Richards was lucky not to see a red card heading his way. Mike Dean generally applies the laws of the game very well and I thought he was generous on this one.
So what are the plus points? City has still only conceded one goal in serious play. Joe Hart still looks like the best keeper in the League and certainly the best English goal tender by miles. Yaya Toure reminds me more and more of Marc Vivien Foe and has now started to play like him with surging runs forward, tenacity in midfield and power in defence. He is looking like exactly what a team needs in midfield. Nigel de Jong remains awesome in the middle.
Despite his glaring error Tevez still gets forward and gets into goal scoring positions. The team is still learning to be a team. The quality of the playing personnel has improved and is improving as a unit. We should have won.
It will not be long before this group starts to show what it's made of and many more teams will get the Liverpool treatment. Teams like Sunderland have been sitting with eight or nine behind the ball for years against top teams. Chelsea and Stretford have learned over those same years how to pick the locks. City need to and will do the same.
There are only two upsides to International Weeks. The first is that we now could get to see SIX City players representing England, so maybe the World Cup bid needs to change from 'England United ' to 'England City' and secondly, as we don't have a match, I'm going on holiday. I'll be back within hours of the Blackburn match.