Writer: Tranmere Loyal
Date:Sunday February 27 2011
Can you believe what we have seen this afternoon?
Fulham fall into the category of a team that doesn't offer a great deal to the Premier League - only 450 of their fans turned up and their team is hardly inspiring - but our multi-million pound so-called superstars couldn't dispose of them, indeed could hardly match them for effort and integrity.
The game got under way with our two sets of singing supporters taunting each other and that was about as good as it got.
Mancini's line-up was perplexing. Why was Zabaleta played in front of Boateng? Was there a perceived threat there? Why not play him on the left and release Kolarov as we had tried in a couple of matches recently?
Why play three strikers with no effective supply line? No doubt Roberto will tell the world that this was the only team he could put out due to the demands on his squad but did I not say in my story yesterday that if you don't want a lot of fixtures at this time of year then you are out of everything and on your way out? Could not Guy Assulin have got a match under his belt today?
From the off the team looked disjointed. No midfield schemer (I assume Silva was injured), no slide rule balls to engage the strikers. Tevez looked confused, Dzeko out of sync and Balotelli in a world of his own, never really looking part of a team.
The one time Tevez and Balotelli hooked up - guess what - we scored! It didn't happen again though. Even from corners Balotelli was looking to score seeming lacking in confidence that his colleagues could get their heads on anything. Kolarov rattled Schwarzer's hands with a dipping thunderbolt, but City looked way off the mark and Fulham gained themselves an easy point when Johnson carved open the left hand side following a poor Hart clearance and Duff had the easiest task of the day.
Yes Balotelli's goal was well taken and impeccably placed, but when the best player in sky blue was Zabaleta and the best passes and tackles around midfield were coming from Vieira when he came on - what is this?
We need a wide man to feed the forwards. We know SWP feeds full backs, so we send on Milner. He couldn't feed the Canadian Geese flying over Ancoats Skies (sorry Dom!). I sense a cut-price sale coming on with this kid. He has proved to me so far to be probably the poorest so-called acquisition in recent years. He started life as a winger and I recall one conversation I had with Mike Summerbee when he told me that Milner was the only true English winger in the game (at that time). Now he couldn't beat a carpet. He is supposed to be full of energy - well he hasn't had much game time lately so he should at least have looked effervescent. Once again he made zero impact. Well, James, you can go and make zero impact for someone else on a third of your wages.
Who could have played wide and opened them up a bit? Do I hear Craig Bellamy?
Fulham offered a bit of resistance and Schwarzer joined the endless array of goalkeepers taking five minutes over each goal kick, but come on boys, teams like this should be goal difference boosters.
So are we on a slippery slope as we start to slip down the league and open the door to teams we thought we'd dropped off. Well maybe.
Houllier is starting to get something right at Villa and could hand us a surprise on Wednesday. Dinamo Kyiv are no mugs either. Maybe we are trying to emulate Arsenal? One day sun the next day rain? As Ashburton's finest slip up in the Carling Cup Final and possibly head for deafeat by Barcelona in the Champions League and at Stretford in the FA Cup, what price City to do likewise? Or do we depend upon our less than charitable neighbours to beat Chelsea twice and Spurs once to maintain our hope?
The only saving grace on a less than graceful day was the manner in which Arsenal lost the Cup Final! Do we recall Koscielny when signed by Arsenal saying City couldn't by spirit and dissing us before he'd even got on the ferry? I referred to him as a pub player who had played for two pub teams in France and was joining another in England. Maybe I called that one right.
The spectre of Mourinho is once again arising over the Premier League....take note!
Date:Sunday February 27 2011
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