Pressure Increases With Another Stalemate
As the full time whistle blew and the dark, cold night was settling in, Eastland`s wasn`t a place for the faint hearted. Boo`s rang out, criticism was fired at Mancini from pillar to post and a deflated City side left the pitch, again failing to score, making it five consecutive hours without a home goal.
After the derby day slaughtering the manager and players received, nothing could have lifted spirits more than a crushing victory over Birmingham, a side who crumpled 5-1 to a pulsating City side last year managed by Mancini.
However, with goals becoming less frequent than sun amongst the City, it was again, one of those days.
Roberto Mancini felt the harsh criticism of the media and City fans with his tactical decisions in the derby, today the criticism doubled, but is what we`re really witnessing the managers fault? Can the blues boss pop up with that clinching strike or diving header?
Agreed, over recent weeks the cautious set-up has been far from ideal and certainly frustrating, but with 16 attempts at goal surely that demonstrates a different approach than what we`ve been witnessing?
Mancini isn`t blame-less, but neither are half the team.
The chances weren`t presented enough in a dour first half and that was recognised. Despite, Johnson`s inclusion- after more media backlash- he again proved why he is much more effective as a super-sub, for now anyway.
We didn`t look a side full of confidence and are attacking play was steady rather than explosive, we were measured rather than crazy and we had chances to defeat a resolute Birmingham side, but they were ultimately not taken.
Portraying a striker fed-up with his lack of service, Carlos Tevez tended to sit deep and try to orchestrate the encounter. It nearly worked when his magical ball found Johnson and with Silva also waiting for the tap-in the England midfielder struck wide, missing the game`s first great opportunity.
Looking more resurgent and desperate in the second half- after a chorus of boos and probably a managerial dressing down- City attacking more willingly.
30 seconds into the second half, the pendulum should have swung in City`s favour. James Milner had two fantastic opportunities to get the opening goal and he would have if it wasn`t for the interventions of both Foster and Carr.
Still, City pressed. All the pieces of the jigsaw weren`t coming together perfectly, but chances were coming and the intensity of the players had changed.
With a resurgent defensive line who would literally throw anything in the away of City`s attacks- Scott Dann`s head for one- it wasn`t easy to break them down.
Despite this, it was becoming more apparent that one goal would seal the encounter- something both sides knew- with Birmingham coming close on two occasions with Jerome leading their line.
Countless pressure wasn`t proving significant enough, Tevez had a great chance after Santa Cruz hassled the away side`s midfield, but the finishing was woeful.
De Jong also had the chance to get on the score sheet for the first time in a City shirt, his curling effort tested Foster, it was still inadequate.
Time was quickly running out and with Tevez taken off for Barry, it was hard to see where the goal was going to come from.
All those chances and pressure and the goal never did come. Instead, the scrutiny of City just increased and the poor results are far from pleasing.
However, this is our football club, a team that most have followed through the thick and thin of Division 2, so are the problems we`re experiencing now really that bad?
DE Jong- 8