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Cautious Mancini misses big chance

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Phil McNulty | 06:59 UK time, Thursday, 11 November 2010

Eastlands

The faces of David Haye and Audley Harrison flashed around Eastlands as Manchester City and Manchester United spent 90 minutes doing Britain's two heavyweights a favour.

No matter how much derision is heaped upon Haye and Harrison ahead of Saturday's WBA title fight at the MEN Arena - and there is plenty of it - they will have to try very hard to come up with anything as punchless and unspectacular as this goalless draw. Indeed, if the pair needed something to make them look good ahead of Manchester's second big sporting collision of the week, this game provided it.

The old boxing adage states that the challenger must come out and show enough to claim the crown from the champion. He will not be given the titles, he has to take them.

In this football context, Manchester City - and in particular coach Roberto Mancini - showed nowhere near enough boldness and ambition to back their claim that they are now standing on United's shoulder.

mancini595.jpgMancini's game plan left City fans frustrated. Photo: AP

Mancini was pleased with his night's work and did not seem bothered that the game was little more than an eyesore from start to finish. In practical terms, the Italian had a case.

City failed to take a point off United last season, so they have improved on that record. They also kept a clean sheet and now have a four-point cushion between themselves and fifth-placed Newcastle United as they look to cement their place in the top four.

Mancini says this is a sign of progress - and it is hard to argue with him. But his negative approach drew ire from many City fans, who, rightly, felt their side's attritional style at Eastlands meant they were unable to make the most of their opportunity. This great old club's new-found lofty ambitions will not be served by simply drawing satisfaction from not losing to Manchester United.

City were in opposition to a United team undermined by illness and injury - Wayne Rooney is rehabilitating in the United States, while Ryan Giggs missed a derby for the first time in 19 years - and still scratching for their best form despite an unbeaten start to the Premier League season.

If not exactly there for the taking, United hinted at vulnerability. Mancini's response was a game plan based around cautious containment, devoid of the slightest hint of adventure.

Mancini will no doubt argue against this but City looked as though they did not know how to go about winning the game. Draped in a cloak of conservatism from the start, they did not so much have the handbrake on as have breezeblocks in front of all four wheels.

If this may seem a harsh commentary on City while sparing United any criticism, then it should be stated Ferguson's side were not much better. The onus, however, was on City to take the game to United and demonstrate that they are more than "noisy neighbours".

Instead, Eastlands was reduced to near silence by the final whistle as both sides settled for the draw that looked inevitable almost from the kick-off.

Carlos Tevez was a lone striker of sorts, although he ended up defending near his own corner flag in the second half. When the game called out for variety and unpredictability, Adam Johnson was left on the bench until only 17 minutes remained.

Yaya Toure is many things but he is not best suited to playing the role of midfielder in closest attendance to a one-man attack. It has worked on occasion but using this hulking figure in that role cannot be a serious long-term proposition.

toure595g.jpgYaya Toure's effectiveness was limited against United. Photo: Getty Images

And, comically, when Emmanuel Adebayor was summoned to replace Tevez with seconds left, the Togo striker took longer to get stripped and ready than a teenager preparing for his first date.

If he was reluctant to emerge into the Manchester cold, no-one could really blame him. How could he be expected to make any sort of serious impact in his allotted slot? The idea of a £25m forward being used as a time-wasting method did not reflect well on Mancini.

True, Mancini was robbed of the mercurial Mario Balotelli but is it really in his nature to throw caution to the winds and tell his team to go for it? No-one would suggest all-out attack is a guarantee of success against United but just a small element of risk might help.

The feeling that a trick is being missed by Mancini also comes with the knowledge that Chelsea have stuttered while Manchester United and Arsenal have been unconvincing.

City may not win the Premier League but fortune has been known to favour the brave. Mancini, however, is obviously not a man to chance his arm.

Once United sized up the extent, or lack, of City's threat they cruised through untroubled to the final whistle. Goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar was stretched only once, by a Tevez free-kick in the first half.

Centre-half Nemanja Vidic was outstanding but, with Rooney out and Javier Hernandez on the bench, City keeper Joe Hart only had to field two tame efforts from Patrice Evra and Dimitar Berbatov, who was replaced by Hernandez with 12 minutes to go.

In their reduced circumstances, United were happier with the point but there was a sense of frustration from the home support. They expect more by way of invention from a squad that has had so much finance lavished on it - and no-one should blame them.

Mancini will, by his own standards, have to gamble at some point because there is a real chance for City to progress further up the Premier League table with the quality at their disposal and the window to invest further in January.

No-one with Mancini's record can seriously be labelled a tactical faintheart but City's aspirations to claim the major trophies will be helped by a release of the shackles.

City had the chance to show United they mean business on the field as well as off it at Eastlands. Mancini's caution, however, meant the opportunity passed them by.

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Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    Very defensive by City but both teams played European style which nulled the game pretty much. A poor spectacle overall which was a shame.

  • Comment number 2.

    Well I cant really criticize the man cos he got a draw. Judging from previous results thats the best he could have settled for. Cos I bet ur headline would have been different if he lost the match being more progressive or aggresive.

    A draw against united is a good result for him. He could build on this result and progress as the season continues.

  • Comment number 3.

    Not another blog about Man U and/or Man C! Surely you should have covered Everton v Bolton instead. (I'm just waiting for the first of those comments to come in)

  • Comment number 4.

    Pressure was on City to come and beat us more than ever, the likes of Vidic, Scholes, Carrick, Berbatov and Nani all included in our team although just recovering from flu and injury was a big plus however with the millions spent at City their incapacity to create any clear cut chances from open play was there for all to see.
    I thought before the game it would be a boring draw due to the over hype and expectation but I did not expect City to have such a negative approach at home. Infront of their own fans whom all on 606 seemed to have counted their chickens early for this one, City should have made more of a game of it, or do home teams no longer feel they should excel infront of their own fans?

  • Comment number 5.

    Prior to the game as a United fan I would have taken a point. Having dominated the game, save for the opening ten minutes, I am disappointed United didn't take all 3 points. Admittedly they didn't create many chances but not many teams will against a team intent on defence. I don't know any teams in world football who employ 3 holding midfield players.

    Positives for United are another outstanding display by Vidic with Rio not far behind. A mention also for Rafeal who looks to have bulked up considerably and is now certainly our first choice right back - possibly for another 10 years. He's silenced the best player in the world, Bale, against Spurs and now had a 26 million pound player, Silva, in his pocket who I must admit is looking as light weight and ineffective as many people predicted. A shame he is unfit for the Villa game.

    Michael Carrick also had a good game and time and again it amazes me he isn't picked ahead of Gareth Barry in the England midfield.

    With Rooney and Giggs to return it is looking good for United.

  • Comment number 6.

    A very poor game. Despite United's clear dominance on the ball, the final third really lacked despite a supposed 4-3-3 formation. Berba effectively played the lone striker role whilst Park and Nani sat deeper and offered no real threat. Both Nani and Park hard largely ineffective games and our need for a partner to Berba in either Hernandez or Rooney was evident from the start.

    Im suprised Utd didnt show more adventure, especially in the second half, having assessed City lack of ambition going forward, by throwing on a 2 man attack to help Berba.

    What do you think Phil?

  • Comment number 7.

    Poor game from a United side happy with the point and a City side without the players to make the difference. City are very much a work in progress and until they got some real class players who can positively influence a game, they will never challenge the best sides at the top. They can beat anyone on their day, as the Chelsea result showed, but their midfield is limited and their best attacking threat, Adam Johnson, is not played. Top 4 this year, if they are lucky.

  • Comment number 8.

    If last night was supposed to be two of the best teams in the country in a Premiership showcase then I'll stick to watching the Championship.

    Utterly dire, over-hyped nonsense.

    Let's hope all the foreign owners that are bankrolling this Premiership farce get bored of it soon as well. Then we might finally have something worth watching.

  • Comment number 9.

    Why on Earth would anyone pay to watch City?? Absolutely awfuL! Worst advert for the game I've seen in a long time!

    And why such criticism of United - at least we tried to win the game at points - we actually played very well, but just couldnt break the 10-man defense, and lets face it, I doubt anyone would have been able to!
    I think, especially seen as a fair few of our players wouldnt have been 100% fit after the illness that's ripped throught the squad, United played very sensibly, there was no way the players would have lasted 90 mins playing full pelt, attack after attack.

    Also, being forced into replacing both full backs, gave Fergie little option to change things tactically - I'm sure Hernandez would have been put on WITH Berbatov a bit earlier than when he came on, had Fergie not had to have saved his last substitue.

    I think Phil, you need to think about the background/circumstances/build up to games, and then things that contribute to the game, before you criticise.

  • Comment number 10.

    Whilst being a boring match I did see one thing, United were still a cut above City. Despite all the money they have spent they lacked ideas, not once did they look like breaking United down.

    I think if United had a fully fit Rooney and Valencia last night they would have won comfortably.

  • Comment number 11.

    I don't know if I am the only person who saw the game differently? Man City defended well, but to say they just sat back and defended is ludicrous. From what I saw, United played the more defensive game.

    There were many times when I saw City attack and the only United player in the City half was Berbatov, and even that was fleetingly. Not to mention the number of times Vidic brilliantly kept Yaya Toure at bay.

    Honestly Phil, from what did you draw the assertion that City "showed nowhere near enough boldness and ambition"? Just does not make sense to me.

    And I am not a City fan.

  • Comment number 12.

    Thought Utd played some nice stuff at times last night, but there wasn't enough of a cutting edge.
    Obviously having to sub both full back meant attacking changes weren't much of an option.
    We are really lacking that creative spark in midfield. Still I lament the transfer of Van Der Vaart to Spurs, Fergie has definitely missed out there.

    Can't see City winning anything playing with 3 defensive midfielders. Drop Barry or De Jong, play Milner/Silva through the middle and Bring in Adam Johnson and that would be a much better balanced side with real attacking intent. As it is, City won't score enough against the better teams. And draws win you nothing.

  • Comment number 13.

    11. At 08:37am on 11 Nov 2010, The_Dark_Blue_King wrote:
    I don't know if I am the only person who saw the game differently?
    ----------

    Yes you are!! In fact, I think you may have been watching a different game completely! :)

  • Comment number 14.

    Just think another 600million and City may be able to sneak up into third place

  • Comment number 15.

    #13- Given the comments, I quite possibly might have! :)

  • Comment number 16.

    Those criticising last night's match as a spectacle ('over-hyped nonsense', according to one) should remember that last season these two sides served up one of the games of the season, and one of the great derby matches of all time.

    Of course last night's game was a disappointment, but I do think the onus was on City, as the home side and 'the challenger', to really go for it. In truth, however, City offered very little indeed. United were the greater threat and I think they showed they're still the dominant force in Manchester (and hopefully will be for some time yet!).

  • Comment number 17.

    What an awful game- it hardly deserves a blog.All right,MU are unbeaten this season but SAF would probably prefer one loss to this endless string of draws.
    But i shouldn't complain since we're 4 points clear at the top of the table;)

  • Comment number 18.

    As a lifelong City fan I have to say how frustrated I was at last night. Surely there was never a better opportunity to lay down a marker, not just to United, but to the whole league and say....here we are and look what we can do....



    Far too negative and far too much respect paid to them. In years gone by you maybe could have understood the situation, weaker team etc, but I firmly feel that is not the case any longer.

    Fault lies purely at Mancinis door and coming out with the line...its an improvment on last year....just will not wash for me.

    We had enough players to have gone for it last night and he should have gone with AJ from the start....how long is this top talent going to be prepared to be a bit player while we play three holding midfield players, one of whom was totally out of position.


    I am not advocating a change of manager here, just a change in attitude. We have a great chance to finish high in the league this year and would hate to see us fall short, like last season, through lack of attacking ambition.

    However before any United fans come on here backing me up, let me say this to you : worst United side I have seen for the past 15 years. Past United teans would have beaten us last night and on the evidence I saw major change is required...how long can you rely on; a 40 year old keeper, a 36 year old running midfield and a center half with a dodgy injury record?

  • Comment number 19.

    City were toothless, and Tevez had to toil to little avail, against what is probably United's strongest back four, but 50% of that was changed, and they still looked untroubled, aside from O'Shea's fumbling moment in the box.

    Strange game, Nani's knock made him disappear for much of the second half, and JS Park had an awful game by his standard. The most enterprising player on the pitch was Yaya Toure which says it all.

    Fletcher and Carrick had a great game defensively but offered little going forward.

    Worst player on the pitch Barry, best player probably Zabaletta.

  • Comment number 20.

    £500million for a bus; they were ripped off.

  • Comment number 21.

    I think Mancini's tactics last night were correct. City fans have to realise that our season doesn't just revolve around beating United anymore. City have a target of top 4 minimum and at the moment they are on course. They are still in touch with the top so could improve on that. This is not a short term project. The Sheik is investing millions into the whole community not just the football club, so the project is not demolished because two teams ground out a goaless draw. If City had lost yesterday they would have been 6 points behind United which would have been difficult to overcome even at this stage of the season. For me beating United will be finishing above them in the League not in individual games. So a draw suited City just as much as United. As for a United side ravaged by injuries and illness, bar Rooney it looked full strength to me. So in terms of the way the game panned out City are very much on the same level as United right now. And will only get stronger as the squad continues to develop over the next few transfer windows. Contrary to your headline, cautious Mancini is taking his big chance.

  • Comment number 22.

    I'm no united fan, but I was willing them to win last night. City's negativity was hard to watch as a neutral. I've nothing against Mancini personally but, given his tactics, I'd be glad to see him leave. This was one of the most boring derby matches I have seen. 3 defensive midfielders, with 2 full backs who won't cross half way, is just ridiculous. City have plenty of exciting players and I felt that they could have a real go at united yesterday, instead we get a spectacle that will turn everyone into golf fans.

  • Comment number 23.

    City have been over hyped from the moment the Arabs walked through their doors.

    They have no credentials to back up their claim of being one of the best teams in the prem, just remember folks, 34 years!

    UNITED!

  • Comment number 24.

    Is that the extent of your 'insight', Phil?

    Tha hillariously named 'Champions' League is to blame for such dour games, with big clubs just happy to pick up points against fellow big clubs so that they can all live happily ever-after in the top 4. If you actually had to win the league to play in Europe's elite competition then teams would be far more attacking in these fixtures as 2nd place would be considered nowhere. Mancini just wants to 'not fail', and finish 3rd or 4th. Chelsea will win the league at a canter.
    The Premier League is rotten to the core. Holloway is right in saying it's a "crazy circus", in which, sadly, the quality of the football on show has taken a backseat, and blogs like this are seen as even remotely credible.

  • Comment number 25.

    #21
    United were at near full strength in terms of names on the pitch, but not in terms of their level of fitness due to the illness etc - I'm sure you've had Flu before and felt groggy and not 100% for a few days after.

    #19
    Park was useless as you say, but no surprise really, bar the Wolves game, he's been useless all season! Time for Obertan to shine. Carrick was exceptional, narrowly behind Berbatov and Vidic - Vidic was MOTM, but people have overlooked the superb game that Berba had - he was fantastic!

    #15
    LOL!

  • Comment number 26.

    On last nights showing City are nowhere near stepping out of Uniteds shadow. They talk the talk, Mancini at it again after the game but until they find some self belief and then start winning things they remain "noisy neighbours".

    A weakened United side held them comfortably last night showing what a good team they are. City are nowhere near that yet.

  • Comment number 27.

    the noisy neighbours, who invite you round, then are quiet as mice.

  • Comment number 28.

    There's no doubt that a team that can't beat a sick patient won't play in the Champions League next season.

  • Comment number 29.

    #21
    I think you're reading this wrong. City's tactics were not those of a club who see themselves as equal to utd, they were the tactics you might expect a mid-table club to employ when faced with a team they fear. I looked at the two squads last night and thought that city's looked better, but Mancini's fear of the name he was against produced a weak performance. I can't imagine chelsea, liverpool or arsenal being so defensive in the same situation. Mancini is holding city back.

  • Comment number 30.

    Hold on!

    the stats reflect the game pretty well - both teams quite equal in all measures.

    Both teams were also equally negative - witness the few goals attempts and the 1 offside(!) in the whole match.

    The onus surely is on Utd ("best team in the world" according to their fans and the media) to come out and attack (even away from home) and they simply had no intention of doing that. As the underdog, was the onus really on City (as you argue) to attack even if they were at home? I don't believe it was. Should they have been more positive, yes, but so should Utd. Both teams put 10 men behind the ball at times and when they brought on the substitutes, both teams replaced their top scorer!

    Utd sat back, City sat back, both enjoyed(?) equal possession of an equally un-threatening nature, in neutral or defensive areas of the pitch.

    All-in-all, a dull , lifeless 0-0 draw where BOTH sides were equally culpable.

    Mr McNulty, to claim Utd were "a United team undermined by illness and injury" is simply not true - Utd were at full strength (minus Rooney) - nobody believed Fergie's mindgames about viruses and injuries - please don't repeat after game the garbage said before the game, it makes you look silly and undermines an already weak and wrong assumption.

    Twisting the facts to support an incorrect premise does you no credit.

    Two teams, both (almost) at full strength (City had Balotelli out, Utd Rooney) played a dull, dour and impassive draw at Eastlands last night.

    Don't make out one to be more culpable than the other - they were both poor and were both as satisfied as each other with a point.

    Finally, have City overtaken Utd? Of course not, no City fan would ever claim that - the media might push that agenda but not City. Have City caught up with Utd yet. Well, not quite. The league table doesn't lie. Utd still edge it but it's mighty close.

    City and it's fans are trying to be patient despite what the media would have everyone believe and the next few years will be interesting indeed!

  • Comment number 31.

    Phil, Phil, you're missing the big talking point of the night.

    That would of course be Blackpool making 10, yes 10, changes from the weekend last night.

    I assume your blog of this loathsome tactic is just in final editing, similar in style to your vitriolic one condemning Mick McCarthy and Wolves last year for exactly the same approach - and your continual defence of your opinion thereafter?

    Fair's fair Phil.

  • Comment number 32.

    To blueexile...agree with pretty much all of what you have said there. Surely a team that has had that much money spent on it can be more ambitious than that? I also thought United looked the better side for most of the game.

    Adam Johnson is a real talent and yet is used only sparingly, and while I would never count myself among Emmanuel Adebayor's biggest admirers, what is the point of putting him on with just seconds to go? A time-wasting gesture? Doesn't say much for the £25m striker.

    The sad thing for City is that there is a real opportunity to make an impact and a statement this season. Why waste it with such a cautious (ok I'll say it negative) attitude?

  • Comment number 33.

    However before any United fans come on here backing me up, let me say this to you : worst United side I have seen for the past 15 years. Past United teans would have beaten us last night and on the evidence I saw major change is required...how long can you rely on; a 40 year old keeper, a 36 year old running midfield and a center half with a dodgy injury record?

    ==

    I wouldn't worry about United, I'd be more concerned that £500m gets you a slightly better version of Stoke City. All of these supposed shortcomings in United's side, and they still comfortably looked the better side

    Yaya Toure as part of a front 3?? Mancini probably wants a bit of cover for Tevez in the final third, in case it all breaks down I guess

  • Comment number 34.

    25. At 09:17am on 11 Nov 2010, Nevs_A_Red wrote:
    #21
    United were at near full strength in terms of names on the pitch, but not in terms of their level of fitness due to the illness etc - I'm sure you've had Flu before and felt groggy and not 100% for a few days after.

    ________________________________________________________________________

    Was it me, or did Berbatov look really ill throughout?! White as a sheet.

    Didn't stop him showing some lovely touches. Sadly, they were mostly in the centre circle.




    Does anyone think Fergie would have tried some more adventurous substitutions if he hadn't been forced to change both his fullbacks?

  • Comment number 35.

    Hi Phil, relly love your blogs.
    The comic part of the blog was this
    "And, comically, when Emmanuel Adebayor was summoned to replace Tevez with seconds left, the Togo striker took longer to get stripped and ready than a teenager preparing for his first date."
    I have a question for you.
    DO you really count the current Manchester United team for the first pleace in the League, even though they are always there to challange?
    Manchestere City need a winner Managar, like Mourinho for example.

  • Comment number 36.

    Agreed, boring game. It was more important for both sides not to lose, than to win.

    With respect Phil there are some phrases you use which you really need to have a think about;

    “…as they look to cement their place in the top four.”

    We’re 12 games into the season! City are 6 points above 11th placed West Brom, lose two games and they could be 11th. I remember last season when you said Mark Hughes “cemented” his place as Man City manager, he was sacked soon after. I don’t think Ferguson has “cemented” his job as Man Utd manager after 24 years, if Utd were to lose 10 on the trot he’d be gone. Does anyone know another word for "Thesaurus"?

  • Comment number 37.

    I would normally support Man City against Man United, anyone against Man United actually. But not last night, given that dismal negative game that Mancini played. I don't even think Tevez played as a striker, I reckoned they were playing a 7-3-0 formation. No wonder it finished goalless. I feel very sorry for Man City fans who will now get more of that football because it was deemed to be a success. And for Adam Johnson, who's obviously too much of a flair player to start. Hopefully England won't as a result lose another talented player to the curse of not being able to get into their club first team, but I wouldn't count on it.

  • Comment number 38.

    30. At 09:24am on 11 Nov 2010, Bell-CTID wrote:

    Mr McNulty, to claim Utd were "a United team undermined by illness and injury" is simply not true - Utd were at full strength (minus Rooney)

    _______________________________________________________________________

    And Valencia. And Hargreaves. And Giggs. And Owen (who would arguably have come on instead of Hernandez)

  • Comment number 39.

    Tight game which neither side wanted to lose and would have won if either had let the guard down for a second. British media just denied their sensationalist headlines of "City being put back in their place" if Utd won and "There's a shift in Manchester" if City had. Out trot the ignorant variations of the "typical Italian" tactics blah, blah

    If City really parked the bus as has been suggested, then Utd would have had no problem having two strikers up there second half, but there was no chance they'd have risked that. Because they know what City can do to teams because City have already "laid down a marker" and shown what they can do. Don't be fooled, for whatever they say, Utd talked a lot about City in the build up and were content to take a point. Not sure what more evidence is needed that the Blue Moon is rising. It just may not be quite the Roy of the Rovers/Bulldog that simplistic British hacks want. Where's Mark Hughes??? Fulham.

  • Comment number 40.

    @ Fat Bloke Down The Pub

    Yes it's early in the season but I think we're talking about Man City's ambitions of cementing their place in the top four. That is why they spent all this money, to win the league eventually but play Champions League in the near future

  • Comment number 41.

    Both teams were negative. Both played 1 up front and 5 in midfield which cancelled each other out. Utd looked the better team on the ball and kept it better but could no way be described as "attacking" because they didn't trouble Hart once in the 90minutes. Surely that will be a worry to SAF because other teams will do the same thing. City had the best chance in the entire game with the Tevez free kick but otherwise looked nervous on the ball and like Utd didn't push men forward for corners.

  • Comment number 42.

    Phil

    I think you've done well to write as many words as you have about what was a dour contest. (And showed a rare comic turn with the teenager gag!)

    I think on balance, you might be right that the onus was on City to do something but United played their part, or didn't as the case may be. There may be an opportunity to do well this season, but it's not that easy to take because Chelsea, Man U and Arsenal have shown what could be described as incredible consistency for a number of seasons now. Man City will aim for the Champions League and will probably get there. That will be job done I would imagine.

    On Adam Johnson though, are there stories that perhaps he is not being quite the model professional off the pitch? If they are true, I can understand why he isn't being started.

    I think the biggest laugh I had last night was Sky's little montage of 'flashpoints' at half time in a desperate attempt to claim the game was something that it clearly was not. Do they not realise just how silly they look with that sort of approach.

    p.s. 4 points clear! :-)

  • Comment number 43.

    Boring game. Boring Manager. Boring team. City suck.

  • Comment number 44.


    Mancini is in last chance saloon. His methods are not working, he therefore needs to send a team out to attack. If they do this and fail, at least he will have tried. I don't see what you can't have Adebayor as the central striker with tevez playing off him. Tevez is deep lying and this would suit both players, with Tevez creating plent for himself and EA.

    Also it should be Johnson and Silva on each wing.

    Yaya Toure and Milner in the middle.

    All I am saying is that 4-4-2 has to eb the key. Bolton are doing it very well at the moment, and as long as the two midfield players have all the attributes between them, and the defence is capable then this is fine.

    The only thing this 4-1-4-1 suits is the holding midfield player. It makes him look brilliant.

    Who would you sooner line up against. Adebayor and Tevez together. Or just Tevez with a deep lying De Jong who is never going to hurt you.

  • Comment number 45.

    to blueexile.
    We are making players not buying them. Are you trying to say that Nigel De Jong is better than Scholes (even he is 35)? I don't understand you are here to say about ages, or what. And that guy Van Der Sar, made a fantastic save from the Carlos Tevez shot, which shows he can jump in his 40.
    i agre with dave148 that City used the formation 7-3-0, on their own ground and of course any team would struggle. City are real stronger than last year, and Sir Alex commented that, and yes it was unfortunate for being sent of Boyota against Arsenal.

  • Comment number 46.

    This was more Holyfield-Ruiz than Holyfield-Lewis.

  • Comment number 47.

    credit to ferguson: he cultivated the pre-match hype that ensured a claustrophobic match, then wins the post match media war by saying united were disappointed. The match i saw started with 10-15 minutes of city possession with all 11 united players in their own half. Thereafter, anything city tried floundered because vidic was awesome. Time and again he cut out passes and made tackles.
    For sure, Mancini wants to make this fixture into AC Milan v Inter, and city fans rightly lament the lack of a cavalier streak. Perhaps milner can come into the midfield 3 soon and leave yaya toure to sit behind, but not at the expense of results. More than anything, city need to change their culture by winning trophies

  • Comment number 48.

    On this display both teams will have to combine to have a chance to make the four. United have their first big game of the year and fail to score and City lack leadership. Liverpool are suffering a few hiccups but it wouldn't surprise me to see them in the final four with Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs.

  • Comment number 49.

    as a defensive unit you have to say that city did very well but the key is getting the right balance when it comes to attack and I believe their best team has Balotelli in it. Having looked at Arsenal's poor performance last night you'd have to say that if they sorted that out they could finish 3rd.

  • Comment number 50.

    48. At 09:59am on 11 Nov 2010, rjginblueoz wrote:
    On this display both teams will have to combine to have a chance to make the four. United have their first big game of the year and fail to score and City lack leadership. Liverpool are suffering a few hiccups but it wouldn't surprise me to see them in the final four with Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs.

    ________________________________________________________________________

    Woah, get yourself down the bookies with that little gem, son. There's a mint to be made.


    Utd are 25 competitive games unbeaten and you don't think they'll finish in the top 4. Cracking stuff.

  • Comment number 51.

    I think that could quite possibly have been the dullest derby i've ever seen at any level

  • Comment number 52.

    Even back when City were awful they'd at least try to beat us! 300m later and they play at home with as much ambition as Rangers at Old Trafford earlier this season, it was embarrassing! If I were a City fan, I'd be fuming with Mancini and his cowardly tactics, summed up when City had a chance to break in injury time at the end of the game but everyone but Yaya Toure and Tevez stayed in their own half!!
    United clearly showed more ambition, but found it difficult to get through the bus parked in front of City's goal, but at least if proves all this 'power shift in Manchester' stuff is a load of rubbish. If City want to match United, they'll need to get out of their own half when they play us first.

  • Comment number 53.

    6. Michael R wrote:

    ...Im suprised Utd didnt show more adventure, especially in the second half, having assessed City lack of ambition going forward, by throwing on a 2 man attack to help Berba.

    -----
    Think the fact that both fullback were injured and had to be replaced may have influenced that.

  • Comment number 54.

    48. At 09:59am on 11 Nov 2010, rjginblueoz wrote:
    On this display both teams will have to combine to have a chance to make the four. United have their first big game of the year and fail to score and City lack leadership. Liverpool are suffering a few hiccups but it wouldn't surprise me to see them in the final four with Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs.

    --------------------------------------

    So that was United's first "big game" this season? We've already beaten 2 of your nominated top 4. A 0-0 draw away to City is hardly a disaster anyway, although having dominated its shame not to haave taken all 3 points.

    As for City, after 2 years of defeat, £600m gets the new regime a 0-0 draw at home to their greatest rivals. Is that the most expensive permiership point ever? 11 buses parked in front of the goal would have been a lot cheaper.

  • Comment number 55.

    #52 HargreavesTheMan

    All this 'power shift in Manchester' is simple some marketing men getting ahead of themselves.

    If City start winning trophies and United don't (and if City win them directly at United's expense) and if City start taking United's players either directly, or by tempting them to Eastlands rather than Old Trafford, then, and only then, could it be said that there is any sort of power shift.

    The rest? We'll just wait for results first.

  • Comment number 56.

    Fergie plays a 4-5-1, City play the same formation as they have all season and yet it's City wanting the draw hilarious. All UTD did was pass backwards so not to give the ball away and put 10 men behind the ball when City attacked (see MOTD Hanson shows this) then some bias morons say that’s City's fault it's irrelevant that UTD didn’t have 1 decent shot on goal and that the shots they did have were pass backs to Hart. How the times are changing, Fergie trying for a draw at City. The truth is that UTD were desperate not to lose and they managed it, well done!!

  • Comment number 57.

    Brilliant article Phil, you hit more or less all the nails on their respective heads.

    Most Man City fans in their desperation for success and to outdo their eternal Manchester rivals and mostly superiors, don't seem to want to take too close a look at Roberto Mancini's credentials as a potential Premier League title and Manchester City manager.

    This is a man with baggage, sacked from Inter Milan for failing to get past the English Premier League clubs in Europe, and left unemployed in the football wilderness for 12 presumably painful and soul searching months before getting the City job.

    Just what were his thoughts in those lonely and unwanted 12 months?

    For example, Mancini's son was once on loan to City, and therefore presumably rejected, and nobody seems to think that he is just a human being who may have a serious chip on his shoulder against both the Premier League teams who caused his job loss in Milan, and Manchester City in particular on account of his son.

    Another axe he may have to grind, is that though his honours as a player far exceeded those as a manager (some European success, though not Champions League) he was also frustrated as an international, scoring only 4 goals for Italy in 36 games as a "striker/2nd striker", and being kept out of the World Cup 1st team in 1990 (for which he was credited with a 3rd place honour regardless of not playing) by the likes of Vialli and Baggio.

    So my guess is that when he sees not so young at 23, but constantly described as young, Adam Johnson, coming through for England and scoring 2 goals already in 4 England games, and probably being far more exciting than ever he was himself, he may see in his mind's eye another Vialli or Baggio type who kept him on the bench, and thus is keeping Adam Johnson on the bench as some kind of warped vengeance on players of superior talent.

    Or theory B goes, that he does not care about the City fans, desperate for a trophy, but just keeping his job and the money, which is best served for him by getting a top 4 finish, however boring and unadventurous it may be for the fans.

    I actually think last night was a good away result for Man U, as it's possible that some of the players really were under par, and without Giggs and an on form Rooney, Man U were hardly full strength in any case.

    My feeling is that Mancini is a man with many axes to grind, who has bitten off more than he can chew, is ruining the career of Adam Johnson for whatever reasons, by failing to nurture him and give him enough match time, and probably also is going to fail to win Man City any trophy for some years to come, if ever.

    Champions League qualification alone is not an adequate target for the richest club in the world, as qualification is easy for a rich Premier League club, but winning it is not.

    The question is, whether City are ever going to win anything again, apart from maybe a League Cup (but not this year, he's blown it already) or FA Cup.

    I think Mancini is fundamentally flawed as a manager, and his motives as manager of Man City or any Premier League or English club are suspicious - he lasted only a month at Leicester - he and Sven seem to be bizzarely connected, tracing and retracing each others footsteps.

    What is he going to do for example if City ever meet Milan in a European trophy as is quite likely?

    We had a taste of that recently in the Europa League against "Italian giant" Juventus, with Mancini only being saved from a humiliating defeat by a brilliant Adam Johnson equalizer.

    Or did he really want to be saved, or did he feel he would have insulted Juventus by beating them, and been unwelcome in his homeland thereafter?

    As Mancini's thoughts are practically a closed book, partly due to his inadequacy in English, I doubt we'll ever know for sure, and can only speculate, read between the lines as I've been doing, but it seems few City fans wish to try also, in my view, to their present and future disappointment and regret.

    City wanted a home victory last night, a walk to go with the talk, but all they got was as you rightly said, a supremely overcautious and dull goalless draw, whose prime purpose in my view was to ensure that Mancini hung onto his job, as neither fans nor owners would likely have found a humiliating home defeat by their most feared and hated rivals adequate for Mancini to remain in charge.

  • Comment number 58.

    It was a dull match ,not that i expected anything different.United showed more ambition than city.Even with Sheikh Mansour's largesse city look short of ambition. They played for a draw, no two ways about it. We were unlucky with the injuries, it really prevented us from going for the kill towards the end of the second half.We must get all three points from the villa game because Chelsea will keep dominating and win games against "weaker" oppositions.If Mancini thinks both the Manchester clubs are "level", he is in fools paradise.

  • Comment number 59.

    Away from the horrible match we all witnessed for a min, will y'all:
    Just ran this blog through a grammarly.com to see just how good BBC's Chief Football writer is, and he was given a 57% rating. HIs two main problems were 'wordiness (8 mistakes)' and 'poor punctuation within sentences(6 mistakes)'.
    Another bone to chew for the critics...

  • Comment number 60.

    You have to give City some credit here. Normally they want to win this match so much that they push forward and get hit with a sucker punch. Mancini played it clever. He kept them tight at the back. A draw against United will suit City. It's still early in the season and a defeat from United would have been a major blow for City. They still sit in 4th and it's still tight at the top. Both teams never wanted to lose this game. This result showed the improvement in Cities game.
    It might not have been the most electic Derby we have seen and yes United was the better team but come the final whistle it was stalemate. I think when City come to OT it will be a far more open game.

  • Comment number 61.

    Perhaps Phil you could start to look at the other interesting features in a Premier League season in which the battle at the top is fairly dull. Chelsea look like they will stroll to the title despite their loss to Liverpool, and with Man Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool no longer as strong as they have been there are lots of interesting things being overlooked. Bolton for example are having a good season and Coyles move which was widely critisised is looking like being a good one. They are playing a better brand of football and are achieving decent results. West Brom, Newcastle and Blackpool have had great starts to the year but can not find consistancy despite them still being well placed in the league. Its so tedious talking and hearing about the same teams each week especially in a blog which couldve been summed up in a few words. Dull, boring, Chelsea wont be threatened by them as neither are consistant enough away from home.

  • Comment number 62.

    #30

    WHAT!!??

    United did go for it - hence the almost constant pressure in the 2nd half, spending most of it camped in City's half of the field.

    The stats say it was even?? What stats - the scoreline only!
    United had more possession, more shots, and more corners. Also, the possession City had was about 1% in the final 3rd, Uniteds was in double figures.

    Only the seriously blinded could call last night an even game, and only the most ardent City fan could actually defend the way City played last night.

    In terms of UnNited's set-up, as many have stated including myself, illness takes it's toll, but not as much as having to replace both full backs. Berbatov then had to come off as he clearly was struggling. What did Mancini do with his 3 subs? use one with 17 mins left, which still didnt actually change City's tactics, and then one a sa time wasting exercise!
    Poor, really poor.

  • Comment number 63.

    56. At 10:17am on 11 Nov 2010, Huh2 wrote:

    Utd play 4-5-1, Barry and Tevez crock both our first choice full-backs, forcing two like-for-like changes, and you expect us to use our last sub throw on another attacker when we have a weakened defence?

    Get a grip.

  • Comment number 64.

    24. At 09:17am on 11 Nov 2010, sbennett wrote:
    Is that the extent of your 'insight', Phil?

    Tha hillariously named 'Champions' League is to blame for such dour games, with big clubs just happy to pick up points against fellow big clubs so that they can all live happily ever-after in the top 4. If you actually had to win the league to play in Europe's elite competition then teams would be far more attacking in these fixtures as 2nd place would be considered nowhere. Mancini just wants to 'not fail', and finish 3rd or 4th. Chelsea will win the league at a canter.
    The Premier League is rotten to the core. Holloway is right in saying it's a "crazy circus", in which, sadly, the quality of the football on show has taken a backseat, and blogs like this are seen as even remotely credible.

    Couldnt agree more with this statement, certainly with regards to what your saying about finishing fourth and pretty much getting into the 'champions' league-lets face it the 'big' clubs from england, spain, italy, germany all get a bye pretty much because of this ridiculous seeding system UEFA have in place in order to secure the place of said 'big' clubs. Its a farce, look at spurs for example, fantastic result against Inter, fully deserved but you have to wonder how they would fare if they had to win the league in order to get into the 'champions' league. Different story all together.

    As for the City-United game, boring doesnt even begin to cover it, poor, poor game, itd be intersting to see how many people would think the self-titled 'best league in the world' is just that, after watching that nonsense.

  • Comment number 65.

    31.Knock Knock its Peter Knowles wrote:

    Phil, Phil, you're missing the big talking point of the night.

    That would of course be Blackpool making 10, yes 10, changes from the weekend last night.

    ------
    Come on knock knock how many times does it have to be said, Phil reports on the game he's chosen to watch, it's not rocket science.

  • Comment number 66.

    "We're gonna crush you, it'll be the end of Sir Alex. It's City's time now"

    Oh dear....

  • Comment number 67.

    The lack of ambition from City was a surprise. They are well organised and hard to beat, but much like Mancini's Inter it seems that they are gong to rely on the odd moment of individual magic to a difference going forward - they don't seem to attack as a team. Playing that central midfield 3 at home is never going to win them many plaudits, and I doubt it will win them many trophies either.

    On United, we were comfortable and whilst a draw was probably the fair result we were the better team. Berbatov looked good and Evra seems to be finding form again, although we still lack a bit of flair and killer instinct in the middle.

  • Comment number 68.

    #61 DaiToon

    I think you've probably missed the point a bit there. Phil was commissioned to go to the 'biggest' game of the evening and then do a blog. It's hardly his fault that what he was left to report on was stalemate!

    However, I do agree that the blogs should be different. I think, and I've said this before, that Phil should do a blog on a Monday morning as a review of the weekend type thing. Actually, his best blogs seem to be when he answers questions that have been sent in. (Though bizarrely sent in from external sources such as Facebook and Twitter!)

    Couple of other quick points:-

    1) People understood why Coyle went from Burnley to Bolton. It was the timing and the perceived lack of faith and loyalty that annoyed people.

    2) Chelsea boring? Leagues top scorers aren't they?

  • Comment number 69.

    Kapnag,

    Haha. Who said that?!

    There were a fair few clowns predicting a City rout last night.

    Funnily, very few of them were City fans!

  • Comment number 70.

    Phil,

    Mancini is trying to lie low and build a winning team. All claims about city being the noisy neighbours were drummed up by SAF before the game in order to get city to come up all gung ho and for MU to hit them on the break. Good on mancio not to take the bait.

    I don't see how playing a tight game and picking up a point against MU is such a bad result. Sure it wasn't the best spectacle but so what. City were at home and MU are theoretically the better team. So both in theory should of be gunning to win but neither did. Sounds to me like they are both to blame for the poor showing.

  • Comment number 71.

    I see many City fans are disappointed in there performance. But they have to to see the bright side of this result.

    Normally when United play Chelsea at this stage of the season, you could bet on it being a O-0. Both teams giving each other respect and dont want to lose so early on in the season.

    Do you not think the result and the performance last night is similar. City fans need to forget it was a Derby and except and respect the result. Trophies are not going to fall on your doorstep. It will take time and effort. And not losing that Derby last night is a rewarding result for City. You fans need to lay of Mancini and give his time and let your squad come together. Sacking him would just set City back further.

  • Comment number 72.

    Mancini is utterly out of step with the psyche of the people of Manchester. The place was practically founded on swagger. Even when City were genuinely rubbish they had Kincladze.
    Trying to pinch a goal on the break, three holding midfielders, all behind the ball at all times. Greece won the European championships employing such tactics but they cost about £1.50p.
    Italian food - yes Italian football - erm.. no thanks.

  • Comment number 73.

    I read with interest, the usual comments from the red corner, along the lines of 'after a performance like that, Man City will never step out of United's shadow'. There could have been some truth had Utd been putting in some stellar performances this season – but they haven't and they were just as rubbish as Man City last night. In fact, speaking of shadows, these days Utd look a shadow of their former selves. Rooney has been poor for months – thankfully he didn't go to Man City – and there's still a gaping hole where Ronaldo used to be. It's all fits and starts now.

    Someone else mentioned that ALL Man City fans were counting their chickens before the game last night, well not me but I can understand why that may have been, looking Utd's performances so far this season.

    A shame that Balotelli shot himself in the foot and missed this game and by not at least starting with Adam Jonson and bringing on Adebayor much earlier, Mancini appears to be loading the gun to do the same to himself.

  • Comment number 74.

    #69 - words that have been in my ear the past week. They were so up for this game, and it was a pathetic effort from their team.

    #71 markowire, I think you've written the 86,043rd "this shows how far you've come city fans" since the sheikh's project rumbled into town. Try winning trophies, that'll show everyone how far city have come

  • Comment number 75.

    59. At 10:21am on 11 Nov 2010, billmarkenya wrote:
    Away from the horrible match we all witnessed for a min, will y'all:
    Just ran this blog through a grammarly.com to see just how good BBC's Chief Football writer is, and he was given a 57% rating. HIs two main problems were 'wordiness (8 mistakes)' and 'poor punctuation within sentences(6 mistakes)'.
    Another bone to chew for the critics...



    Just ran this your post through needtogetoutmore.com it was given a 100% rating

  • Comment number 76.

    In fact, speaking of shadows, these days Utd look a shadow of their former selves. Rooney has been poor for months – thankfully he didn't go to Man City – and there's still a gaping hole where Ronaldo used to be. It's all fits and starts now.

    ==


    And yet they were comfortably the better side, in your own back yard! Stop worrying about how poor United are, and start worrying about how City are still nowhere near them...

  • Comment number 77.

    City simply must qualify for the CL this season, that is the only thing they need to worry about, winning the title would simply be a bonus!

    So in that context last night was a great result for City, and to moan about the fact that they were negative is meaningless and pointless.

    If they don't finish in the top 4 then they deserve to be criticised, but lets for the end of the season to see what happens.

  • Comment number 78.

    Well what a dissapiontment that was!
    Don't watch a lot of the English game but thought this would be a good one.
    Didn't even have the 'intesity' of a real derby, which would have saved it as a spectacle at least. It's a fixture that's got a long way to go before it's up there with the Milan or Glasgow derbys etc.

  • Comment number 79.


    MrBlueBurns

    I understand he's been to do his job and it isnt his fault I suppose, Im just hoping he might use initiative. As for Chelsea Im implying the title race will be boring at this rate due to the way they are running away with things, not the way they play.

    My issue with Bolton is the job he's done there and after they played a certain style of football he seems to have made them into a more complete and varied side and I feel he should be praised for that.

  • Comment number 80.

    As for Chelsea Im implying the title race will be boring at this rate due to the way they are running away with things, not the way they play.
    ==

    Prior to yesterday, they were 2 points ahead, and their away form is nothing to shout about.

    I don't know why everyone's pretending like Chelsea are walking all over the league, it's simply not the case

  • Comment number 81.

    The sad thing for City is that there is a real opportunity to make an impact and a statement this season.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------


    Urm....they beat the Champions and the team currently top of the table, that's a much bigger statement than beating a very average United side!

  • Comment number 82.

    I see the usual City idiots in denial are at it again today. This blog wouldn't even have been written if it wasn't for your Arab owners. City will forever be in the shadow of Utd no matter how much money they throw around or if they even win the title once or twice just as Chelsea will be in the shadows of Utd and Liverpool. Money can buy you the odd success now and again and sure a few glory hunting fans but it can't buy you history and prestige. Makes me glad that my team isn't in the Premier League.

  • Comment number 83.

    #79 DaiToon

    In which case I just got the wrong end of the stick.

    On Coyle at Bolton though, rightly or wrongly they will take a while to get rid of the image that acquired in Allardyce's time there. Haven't really seen too much of Bolton so far this season but it seems that Liverpool's win there a couple of weeks ago was a better win that people were giving credit for.

  • Comment number 84.

    81. At 10:54am on 11 Nov 2010, A biggish club within the M25 wrote:
    The sad thing for City is that there is a real opportunity to make an impact and a statement this season.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------


    Urm....they beat the Champions and the team currently top of the table, that's a much bigger statement than beating a very average United side!


    ________________________________________________________________________



    That's a very inventive way of spinning the fact that we took a point from a tricky fixture in which you took 0.

  • Comment number 85.

    Yeh, right Phil. Let's play a wide open game with loads of forwards and get stuffed 0-4. You sound like Arsene Wenger.

  • Comment number 86.

    What a massive anti-climax that was. Both teams played to not lose rather than to win, which was a shame but understandable. I had hoped for a bit more attacking instinct from United but a point away from home to a team playing their yearly cup final is not too bad. Speaking to the blues in my office this morning though, the knives are definately out for Mancini after City's display last night. To play at home and show absolutely no intention to win what my colleagues described as 'the biggest game of the season' has not gone down at all well.

  • Comment number 87.

    I think City just need to do away with Barry. He is absolutely awful.

    Yaya - De Jong
    Johnson - Milner - Silva
    Tevez

    should be their forward six.

    Vidic was indeed awesome. And United looked the more likely to score, albeit still quite unlikely.

    Tevez went missing a bit, and I reckon he'd be quite frustrated. Boring as hell.

  • Comment number 88.

    That was pretty much one of those 'no one deserved to win' matches wasn't it really?
    And am I really the only one getting frustrated by the way teams are defending. There seem to be two main methods;
    1. If it looks like a break is on foul the guy on the ball as soon as possible, preferably in his own half, so there won't be a booking. Also try to alternate the tacklers so you don't get a 'roll-up' booking.
    2. As soon as you lose the ball, crumple in a heap and get your team mates to point you out to the ref, so that he stops the game.
    I know it's effective and Andy Gray, Mark Lawrenson etc. class it as professionalism, but it's cheating and it ruined any chance of a decent game last night as both teams used both tactics to great effect.

  • Comment number 89.

    Phil, on the main page there is an interview posted by Mancini under the headline: "Manchester Clubs Level-Mancini".

    In the text that accompanies the interview the following is attributed to Mancini:

    "I think this proves City are at the same level as United at the moment. We just need some more time."

    Note the quotation marks.....attributing it as a direct quote....and of course giving credence to the headline.

    Nowhere in the interview does Mancini say the exact words quoted. He is asked by the interviewer whether this means that the clubs are level.
    What can he say? But what he does say is that 'yes I think so' and that he thought the same last season.

    It was a leading question and not something (as the headline would suggest) that he instigated himself.....in some kind of provocative way.
    At no point did he add "we just need some more time."

    Shabby journalism that misrepresents the interview as a whole and is what I'd expect from the tabloids as opposed to the BBC.

  • Comment number 90.

    United had nothing to prove last night, away from home to the richest club in England, key players out, a squad running on half-empty.

    Surely this had to be the night when City confirmed their place in the top four? Instead, we saw yet another City performance lacking courage, imagination and resolve. The City players still looked like they were settling in, but this is not the first four weeks of the season, perhaps Mancini's management style won't ever allow the squad to find natural rhythm, natural partnerships or indeed, passion for victory.

    Sir Alex Ferguson is often criticised for playing squad members who are "out of form", but I think his vast experience has taught him that individualism is a poison to long-term success, the alchemy that turns a team into a winning machine is more complex than the size of their signing fee. City still look like a team trying to find their heart, with a manager trying to make one out of very expensive bits and bobs.



  • Comment number 91.

    Man City did not look like a home team last night - Mancini might have an excuse if he went to OT with those tactics, but to play at home like that against any opposition in the premier league has to be disappointing if you fancy your chances of really making a mark on the league. You've got to think that on the back of this, and with Rooney (and others) back playing at Old Trafford, you've got to think that Utd will something of an upper hand next time out.

  • Comment number 92.

    That's a very inventive way of spinning the fact that we took a point from a tricky fixture in which you took 0.
    .................................................

    In fairness I think your example is far more adventurous in disguising the fact that we beat a team 6-0 that managed to take a point at Old Trafford!

    Now we can play this game all day long if you like, but it won't change the fact that United have dropped points in 50% of their games so far this season, and as a result, have put themselves under massive pressure, with very little room for further poor results!

  • Comment number 93.

    pragmatickev

    Worth mentioning that, out of the two times a United player crumpled in a heap, one was Nani up to his old tricks (which no Reds fans condone), and the other was Evra, who actually had to come off.

    Also, did anyone see Mancini waving an imaginary card around when Wesley munched Milner? Not saying Fergie's a complete gent, but I don't think you'd see him doing that...

  • Comment number 94.

    51. At 10:05am on 11 Nov 2010, mtrenners wrote:
    I think that could quite possibly have been the dullest derby i've ever seen at any level
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I think that could quite possibly have been the dullest comment i've ever re zzzzzzzZZZZZZ ¦-z

  • Comment number 95.

    Now we can play this game all day long if you like, but it won't change the fact that United have dropped points in 50% of their games so far this season, and as a result, have put themselves under massive pressure, with very little room for further poor results!

    ===

    Have you ever watched a premier league season before?? Titles aren't handed out in November, and 4 point deficits aren't enough in March, let alone November!

  • Comment number 96.

    I'm pleased I don't have to pay to watch a team play home matches with three defensive midfielders in place. Why good attack minded players like Milner and Johnson want to be at City defeats me completely, I suppose money is the answer as that kind of negative football will do nothing for their careers.

    City and Mancini knew if they took Man Utd on in an open game they would be picked off so just played a containing game and hoped for a break like the Tevez free kick, but is was very very poor stuff from both teams and a big let down for a neutral.

  • Comment number 97.

    Just another point, and blues can feel free to disagree, was this a night where the 'mercenary' aspect of City's signings reared its head? United seemed quite content with a draw away from home but for City to win, with the way the game panned out, it would have taken someone to go above and beyond what is expected of them to produce a moment of magic to win it. Do City have the players prepared to do that or are they content to simply pick up the massive wages without putting everything in?

  • Comment number 98.

    Spectacular success for City. One point better off than last year and only two points worse off than the year before that. Now that's £500 million well spent.

  • Comment number 99.

    A biggish club within the M25


    I wouldn't call 4 points off the top, undefeated, with 2 games to play the leaders , being under massive pressure.

    serious questions here, not wumming)

    How do you think you'll cope without Essien and Lampard for possibly the next 3 games?

    How do you rate Chelsea's squad depth in comparison with Utd's?

  • Comment number 100.

    Urm....they beat the Champions and the team currently top of the table, that's a much bigger statement than beating a very average United side!

    ------------------------------------------

    Very average United sides of the last 20 years have tended to either sneak the premiership or just miss out on it (like last season). The good ones win the league, the poor ones finish 2nd or 3rd. Don't forget who you're dealing with.



 

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