The Ped Report - City 0-0 Birmingham City
This wasn't quite Blackburn Rovers revisited, but more a disappointment that after having dominated possession in this match almost totally, we simply were not crafty enough to prise oursleves the opening we needed to score.
Team selection was pretty much as expected with only Balotelli unavailable through suspension. And how much did we need his brand of goalscoring?
Was Adebayor truly unfit or was it a punishment for his shortage of preparation when asked to get ready to come on against Stretford in the week? One wonders!
Pretty well from the off, with Birmingham appearing in red, it took on the complexion of the Derby. There was little spark with City seemingly once again unprepared to gamble to ensure that something ended up in the back of the net.
Birmingham were once again prepared to surrender the wide and deep and often looked like a basketball team racing back to cover their 'zone' in front of goal. They blocked everything, reduced City to weedie shots that were easy to save or clear and simply wasted time, Foster perhaps being the main culprit.
Tevez looked to have scored just ahead of half time. I had an excellent side on view of this and cannot be certain that it hit his arm before heading over the line but the blind-side assistant referee on the opposite side of the field and whose view was blocked by Tevez body flagged for the cancellation of the goal on the grounds of hand ball having missed the fact that Tevez had run offside in the build up. So McLeish will be pleased that justice was seen to be done. Tevez was cautioned for his disappointment and showed his frustration twice more ahead of the break.
The fans made their feelings known in no uncertain terms as the teams trudged off for half time with booooos ringing around the Stadium.
This was probably the worst 45 mins we have experienced for a whilse, eclipsing the Derby and even the Blackburn match.
As the second half got under way a good effort by Milner was cleared off the line by Carr. Despite their efforts Foster's best save came from the unlikely source of Nigel de Jong. I suppose that says it all!
More defending by Birmingham, more chances not taken by City, more time wasting by Foster, what more could be done to ensure that City wouldn't score today. Well. Mancini had his master stroke up his sleeve - replace the only possible chance you have of scoring (Tevez) with a somewhat pedestrian midfielder (Barry). That was enough for many and the South West Corner blocks headed for the door.
I accept that Tevez has been playing injured and we may have been forced to include him because of Balotelli's suspension, but we all know Carlos will play with no legs and still probably score so his exodus signalled the end of the match as far as any potential goal threat was concerned.
I spent some of the early part of the second half speaking to John Guidetti's dad. John is an aspiring striker with the Elite Development Squad who has been banging in the goals this season and has also spent a bit of time away on loan. At a time when we all know that neither Santa Cruz nor Jo are likely ever to change a game we were at a loss to comprehend why Mancini doesn't give a go to the likes of Guidetti. He would be comparatively unknown and just might have the gaol (or goal) keys.
The excuse that step up in class is too much isn't an answer because it has no effect on the likes of Santa Cruz and Jo.
I would like to see Guidetti in the squad as back-up striker for the next match, then after that Super Mario can get back at it and back amongst the goals. What did impress me was that I located Balotelli quietly watching every pass and move that City were making, in some ways in preparation for his next outing.
David Silva's work went unheralded because there was no one on the six yard line other than red-clad Birmingham players. Yo-Yo (as the fans now call him) Toure threatened time and again but didn't deliver then looked exhausted after each run. Get fit YaYa please. Milner once again disappointed.
The back now looks solid enough as Mancini's forst choice line played today and with Hart behind them didn't look at all troubled.
De Jong was the pick of the midfield, relentlessly torpedoing anything that Brum tried to construct, but neither Milner, YaYa nor Johnson could provide what was needed as Tevez looked deep for the ball and left us nobody in a goalscoring position.
Santa Cruz was simply rubbish and for me can't get out of Gate 11 quickly enough. Even Barry only had a fitness test early doors so it is suspect as to whether he was fit or not.
The boooos were even louder when number 32 came up on the subs board, especially when the replacement was not a striker and were in abundace again at the end.
Definitely two point lost this one. My local pub team could have beaten Birmingham and the pub closed down two months ago. Nevertheless - five points thrown away to teams in the bottom four and we're still in the top four. It's a funny old game.