Writer: Tranmere Loyal
Date:Friday November 5 2010
What more can I say? Following a weekend whare City were beaten by a team at the foot of the Premier League, they take their wares to Poland and allow the same thing to happen there.
Having despatched Lech in the home match a couple of weeks ago with reasonable proficiency, Mancini effectively fielded his second string tonight and blew Group A wide open, with City relinquishing their place at the top by handing victory to their hosts. Given was given a run out tonight and the Poznan keeper even looked like Joe Hart, creating some confusion in the North West Level 3 Tribunes.
We were delivered to an outstanding if unfinished stadium in Poznan and were greeted by about 50 local cops in full riot gear and a water cannon in support.
It was full to the rafters as demand for tickets for this match well outstripped availability and it was a sea of royal blue and white, with the sky blue and white variety tucked away in a corner boxed in with perspex and steel.
The visiting fans made some noise at Eastlands but I have never experienced anything quite like this. It was almost relentless and boomed back from the Wembley-esque high roof making this probably the noisiest stadium at least in the whole of Europe.
City got off to a pretty good start and were unlucky not to be a goal up in the eighth minute when Lescott's shot hit the back of the net only to find a linesman's flag ruling it offside.
It was end to end stuff with no real cutting edge showing itself as Lech sought to attack down City's right having identified Richards as vulnerable.
Despite playing with two wide men for the first time in a long time, City found little joy out wide. Wright-Phillips offered them absolutely nothing and time and again the midfield failed to pick out Johnson when at times he had half the field to himself.
Neither wingman delivered a killer cross to Adebayor and therefore City didn't look threatening. Indeed Lescott's effort apart the eleven on the field didn't really look as if they had a goal in them, although they did press forward most of the time.
And from a prolonged period of City attacking play, on the half hour, inevitably came a Lech Poznan goal. A pass to Vieira thirty yards from the Lech goal was needlessly chested into trouble, when letting the ball cross his body was a better option, Lech quickly took it away as he failed to react quickly enough to his error.
Richards was by-passed comfortably and Lescott looked to have dealt with the cross with the nearest Lech challenger looking offside. However the railwaymen had loaded the edge of the box and with the City defence once again hesitant in the face of a penalty claim, and a good one at that, the ball sprang loose to Injac who hit it hard and low into the bottom corner, with Given nowhere.
For the rest of the half City's attack didn't really threaten and Milner looked a bit out of sorts in his new role playing behind Adebayor.
As the cheerleaders entertianed us during half time it was pleasing to see David Silva being readied for a second half appearance at the expense of the totally ineffective Wright-Phillips, who must now been seeking to try his look in a different location.
Immediately the second half started Silva gave us the vision and creativity that was missing from the first half. Milner was restored to a slightly wider position and the master from Valencia started to turn the match City's way. Suddenly there was space, suddenly there was neat quick passing, suddenly there was trouble in the Poznan ranks.
Drifting off his markers, Silva set up an attack which resulted in a corner. From Johnson's cross Adebayor's bullet header from the six yard line was well save by Joe Hart's lookalike but it rebounded to Adebayor who struck it high into the net.
Now City started to look the better team and with Silva's silver service it looked as though they might set up a win. By the 80th minute though it looked as though a fairly creditable 1-1 draw was the more likely outcome, until Lech got themselves a free kick some 30 yards out on their left.
Poznan has a tradition when at midday two goats appear below the Town Hall clock, square up to each other, head butt each other a few times then retreat back into the belfry.
So I suppose it was somewhat befitting that Lech should score a goal very reminiscent of Shaun Goater.
The free kick was floated in, Boyata headed clear only for the ball to rebound off Arboleda and into the net off the post leaving Given leaden-footed.
The stadium went potty as the seething blue and white masses in their South Tribune started to hit their crescendo.
To add insult to injury Mozdzen hit a last minute howitzer to somewhat flatter the home side at 3-1.
So what now for City and what now for Mancini?
I for one cannot understand why Mancini didn't go with his best available team last night, get the game won as we did at home, then take 3 off. This would have more or less ensured qualification and given us two matches against Salzburg and Juventus to give the second string a run out.
Instead pressure mounts now on a number of fronts. The weekend trip to West Brom , a place where City often finds earnings hard to come by is by no means any sort of foregone conclusion and then Stretford's finest head to Eastlands on Wednesday night. Should the unthinkable or unfathomable happen Mancini could be starting at five straight defeats, a worse record than seven draws and who knows what the result of the conference calls to the middle east will be?
Then as we head into December we now need to make sure we beat Salzburg and that Lech and Juventus fight out another draw, to return us to the top of Group A. Do we really want to have to go to Turin needing a victory?
Date:Friday November 5 2010
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