The Ped Report City 2-4 Aston Villa
The Pedmachine is working in France this week and actually missed a match! With no live feed to be found anywhere it was difficult to bring a Ped Report to press, although I have looked at videos of the goals and whatever else can be described as highlights.
So at last trophy-mad Mancini has decided he is elitist enough to field just about anybody who can wear a blue shirt in the Capital One Cup. I don`t hear Wenger, Di Matteo or Wenger welcoming him to the Club. Nor do I hear any City fans doing likewise.
Mancini fielded an odd-looking but anticipatable line-up for this match against Aston Villa. Players who have not been regular first eleven selections and a sprinkling of the Elite Development Squad designed to prove that you don't have to cost £20 million-plus in order to get a game.
He also used it once again to have a look at the 3-5-2 system where the back three consisted of no known tacklers, none of which can man mark tightly either. The defence has gone from one of zonal marking to one that needs discipline and it is doing neither. He loaded the midfield with Villa's former finest, Milner and Barry who along with Kolarov were detailed to bring on Suarez and Razak both of which have tasted the high life before, mainly on pre-season tours.
The spearhead of Tevez and Balotelli could in fact be one of world-class proportions, if indeed they were to see the ball.
Once again the team looked a bit bric-a-brac against a Villa team which only contained Shay Given out of the City export and which too contained some fringe players.
The early stages of the game looked a bit non-descript. City looked far from cohesive and Villa probably looked the more lively but on 25 minutes a neat through ball from Milner found Balotelli unmarked on the 6 yard line and he doesn`t miss those.
Time to kick-on and get the match won you might say. But this current City set up seems to be devoid of the streak it had last season and is more than generous in front of its own goal. Indeed, former Villain Gareth Barry, very much the unheralded stalwart of last season will find himself stripped of that accolade as he turned the equaliser for his former employers into his own net, giving Pantilimon no chance. This was an odd chance against the run of play in the second half as City had decided to make a go of it.
There didn't seem to be any panic in the City penalty area and the ball was not in a dangerous position so quite what possessed Barry to get involved I do not know, what I do know is that it gave Villa the impetus to drive forward until a foul outside the right hand corner of the Villa penalty area gave Kolarov the chance to drive in a trade-mark free kick and put City in front again.
Shades of last week against Real Madrid? You bet.
With around 20 minutes left Agbonlahor found some space as teams often seem to do these days and drilled home the second equaliser for Villa.
Shades of last week against Real Madrid - even more so, although it did take Villa a few minutes more as the game ran into the dreaded extra time.
City actually looked as though they could get somewhere in the first period, but Villa held on and then got a break of their own as Agbonlahor once again used his pace and space against a statuesque City defence. His shot was spilled by Pantilimon quite poorly and he scooped it up to N`Zogbia, who welcomed the opportunity to put his team in front for the first time.
But unlike Real Madrid, Villa were not finished there. Once again Agbonlahor outstripped the boys in blue to hammer home the fourth which appeared to take a bit of a deflection.
So the one domestic trophy that eludes Roberto Mancini continues to be pipe dream. Last season City took this competition seriously fielding probably just about the right amount of youth and experience until they were beaten in the semi final along with some unusual decisions against them. But this was shocking. A team that is not finding it`s rhythm could have been forgiven for fielding a stronger starting eleven and getting some goals in the bag. Instead Mancini treated the competition with disdain and his team got taken to the cleaners in front of its own fans.
For goodness sake the Capital One Cup is a trophy played for at Wembley. On the odd occasion that Stretford have won nothing, it is often the first trophy you can win during the season, and they have gone for it. City should have put out a team last night to win this fixture, not to get embarrassed by a nothing team in decline. Mancini further embarrassed himself with his spat with Lambert and reference to the red-nosed knight in his press conference.
This couldn`t mask the fact that his team was not up to scratch last night. The back three arrangement just is not working especially with three strangers playing there. Barry and Razak would have been the holding players with the former turning supplementary striker for the opposition and the latter finding out he is not the new-born Yaya Toure. Milner was his usual self and Suarez showed some neat work but despite my assertions that he was "ready for it", he clearly isn`t. Kolarov was probably the best of a poor bunch with another set piece goal.
Up top Tevez tried as usual and Balotelli scored and disappeared.
As a fan I am very disappointed at this. I want City to win everything, hold up every piece of silverwear they can, especially after all the years of missing out and all the money spent. Is this what £200k a week delivers?
Just who is the defensive coach and where does he get his ideas from? Is Ferguson giving him directions? The defensive effort needs sorting out quickly or City will rue the loss of de Jong. The platform needs to be rebuilt further forward so that the opposition are not invited to anywhere near our goal unless they have worked for it, not merely waltzed through an unsuspecting crew of defenders who believe somebody else will pick up the baton. That is what it looks like now. No wonder Joe Hart and now Costel Pantilimon look perplexed.
Fulham away is never usually a cakewalk, it wasn`t last season, although before that I think City whacked them 4-1 when Mark Hughes was there, but this side needs to get a grip or its grip on the title will be shaken from its grasp.
UPDATED UPCOMING FIXTURES:
all times East Manchester
Sa 29 Sep 15h00 Fulham, Craven Cottage, PL
We 03 Oct 19h45 Borussia Dortmund, The Etihad, PL
Sa 06 Oct 12h45 Sunderland, The Etihad, PL
Sa 20 Oct 15h00 West Brom, The Hawthorns, PL
We 24 Oct 19h45 Ajax, Amsterdam Arena, CL
Sa 27 Oct 17h30 Swansea City, The Etihad, PL