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Tevez & Man City fluff their lines

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Phil McNulty | 23:35 UK time, Monday, 20 December 2010

Manchester City's ability to turn logic on its head has acquired legendary status. At Eastlands it is always dawn before the dark. Give them a mile and they will take an inch.

So, it was little surprise that the opportunity to top the table at Christmas for the first time in 81 years after Carlos Tevez's sudden decision to withdraw a transfer request that looked set in stone was too much good news for one day.

City's supporters always treat such riches as if they come with a health warning attached. And so it proved as the opportunity to strike a psychological blow by reaching the Premier League summit with victory over Everton was emphatically wasted as David Moyes' side ran out 2-1 winners.

It was not an experience that will prove terminal for City's chances of presenting themselves as serious title challengers, but it was certainly a deflating one.

Tevez provided the platform for what was designed to be a demonstration of City's title intent by making a nonsense of earlier public statements by himself and representative Kia Joorabchian and commiting himself to Eastlands.

Even when set alongside Wayne Rooney's brinksmanship with Manchester United, this was an unexpected turn of events. From homesickness to broken promises and relationships with selected City executives being shattered beyond repair, the Argentine was suddenly back in the fold.

Time will tell if what many regard as a fragile peace persists and whether City's hierarchy, angered by the manner in which Tevez presented them with such an unwanted ultimatum, have won a significant long-term victory.

City have been keen to peddle their hard-line stance on this matter and Tevez was placated, for now at least, after a meeting with Eastlands power-brokers, including chief executive Garry Cook and chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak.

A brief club statement shed no light on how a player who made his discontent so public was apparently now happy to stay, but it was just the tonic City and their fans required as they set about reaching territory uncharted at this time of the year since 1929.

Instead of scaling these heights, though, it was all downhill for Roberto Mancini and his men as Everton, and in particular Tim Cahill, once again proved the scourge of Eastlands.

And despite destiny inviting him to play a defining role Tevez - given a warm ovation - was subdued until he saw a shot saved by Tim Howard in the dying seconds, perhaps weighed down and jaded after the turmoil of recent days.

Everton's dismal campaign has been a surprise, but Manchester City have become something of an open goal for Moyes and his team as they recorded their fourth successive away win there.

Moyes takes particular pleasure in inflicting pain on City as the fury over their acrimonous pursuit of former Everton defender Joleon Lescott still burns inside the Scot. The prospect of pulling the rug out from under City as they prepared to party inspired both manager and team and the Scot's punch into the sub-zero night air at the final whistle underlined his pleasure.

He will certainly have enjoyed a defensive masterclass from the superb Sylvain Distin, purchased from Portsmouth with roughly a fifth of what now looks an exorbitant £24m Moyes banked for Lescott.

For City, this was a chastening evening, a reminder that they will slip if standards fall. And fall they did almost from the first whistle.

It is a fair bet the final warning from most managers before they face Everton is not to allow Cahill free headers inside the area. And yet he was left alone by shoddy City defending to head his fourth goal at the City of Manchester Stadium after only four minutes.

And once Leighton Baines, who must win an England recall on current form, slipped in a splendid second 15 minutes later from an astute Cahill lay-off, City were on the skids.

Mancini's side did not lack effort, well not in all cases anyway, but Everton carried more of a sense of team ethic than City. The expensively-assembled home side were left relying on snatches of individual brilliance from Tevez or David Silva while Everton manned the defensive barricades and put bodies on the line with the spirit of a band of brothers.

The statistics hinted at City domination with 67% possession, 11 corners to nil, 25 shots to Everton's 100% return from two efforts on target - but they lie about the true tale of the match.

Everton survived the second-half sending off of Victor Anichebe for a second yellow card, with City unable to profit from the numerical disadvantage they enjoyed until Kolo Toure also received a red card in the final moments.

It set the seal on a night of frustration. City have flourished away from home in recent weeks, but against a side set out as shrewdly as Moyes deployed Everton, they may struggle to impose themselves at home.

Marouane Fellaini and Jack Rodwell patrolled central midfield with excellence, while Tim Howard was a tower of strength in goal.

And City's reliance on individuals to mount a title charge may just fall short if one of the individuals they rely on is Mario Balotelli, who was awful.

Temperament is something Mancini might accept, timidity is another matter. The Italian hit a post in the second half, but a regular requirement for a rocket in the general direction of this high maintenance individual may become trying. Too often the commitment was not there, the shrug of the shoulders and the scowl all too readily on show.

No-one has quite worked out what the workings are inside this undoubtedly talented youngster's head. Mancini is confident he can decipher the code, but on recent evidence we can only wish him the best of luck.

City cannot be written off as a title proposition on the basis of one off-colour performance after showing such promise in recent weeks, but Everton delivered a brutal collision with reality. Start games slowly and any side will prove unforgiving, even one that has been as inconsistent as Everton.

Mancini is also in the fortunate position of being able to play the markets armed with vast wealth in January should he feel the flaws exposed by Everton need addressing as a matter of urgency.

Everton boss Moyes, in contrast, will be in the bargain basement once more. Loans will be the order of the day, and judging by the activity on Landon Donovan's Twitter account in the minutes after the final whistle at Eastlands, it would appear he is sending out the right signals towards a return to Goodison Park.

Moyes must hope this outstanding victory does not provide another false dawn. It was compelling evidence that Everton should be faring much better than they are.

City's supporters were relatively sanguine in defeat. They know so much of what their club is doing is right and better days and nights lie ahead than this one. After all, they are third in the league at Christmas - and most fans would be happy with that.

But after the tidings of comfort and joy that had been heading their way, history told them to expect the sort of hefty bump Everton gave them.

You can follow me at twitter.com/philmcnulty and join me on Facebook.


Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    I think David Moyes deserves a lot of credit for some very clever counter intuitive substitutions which allowed Everton to start playing further up the pitch and retain possession rather than inviting wave upon wave of City attacks.

  • Comment number 2.

    As a neutral, I thought City did have wave after wave of attacks. I also thought they were unlucky not to have at least 2 penalties- the Neville on in the first half, and when Howard clattered into Balotelli after he shot. Had he not been taken out, he would have probably got to the rebound first- I don't see why it's any different to dinking the ball around the keeper really.

    Good defensive effort by Everton though.

  • Comment number 3.

    I thought all you lot had gone on an early holiday after the last few days

  • Comment number 4.

    I think this result can be classified under disappointment rather than disaster for Manchester City. They are still in a very healthy position and can bounce back from this, even though there was almost a sense of inevitability about it given Everton's wonderful record at Eastlands.

    Felt City lacked cohesion and direction despite all that possession, and while Balotelli may be a real talent, there is no doubt his temperament and attitude is a work in progress.

    I agree David Moyes deserves a lot of credit. In the past I have been critical of what I would regard as perhaps negative, or belated substitutions but he got them spot on last night. All done without Steven Pienaar and Mikel Arteta too.

    City fans, what are your reflections on the Carlos Tevez saga? Do you think he will stay long-term now?

    And Everton fans (and I think we have asked this one before) do you think your season can finally kick into gear after such a fine win?

    All thoughts welcome.

  • Comment number 5.

    I watched Match of the Day on Saturday night and was amazed at the sheer arrogance of Gabby to suggest that when City won on Monday night they would be top of the League. It was as if they just needed to run onto the pitch and all would be in it's place.

    I would have loved to see her face at the final whistle.

    When will these "pundits and commentators" learn that Everton under Moyes are a force to be reckoned with and not just a bottom of the table whippinh boy?

  • Comment number 6.

    No 'Old Trafford' penalties for Man City then... they deserved at leat one of those calls.

    Despite that however, they played as a bunch of individuals.

    But I'm glad they didn't make top spot - their strategy of having two world class players for every position is not just disgusting, it's backfiring as it obviously would.

  • Comment number 7.

    Why is Tevez still capt of Man City? Anyone else baffled by this. You dont gain respect of players or fans by cosying up to these egos. He should have been stripped of captaincy and fined when he showed disrespect to his manager when he was substituted the other week. He is bringing the club into disrepute and the club allowing this to happen.
    Besides being an awful choice of Capt -strikers are notoriously bad leaders on the pitch-isnt he just taking City to the cleaners with his actions?
    So all ok on the home front now Mr Tevez-not missing family anymore?

  • Comment number 8.

    Have we all been taken for a ride much like the Rooney quitting Old Trafford..was he, wasn't he going? Are clubs doing this with their top players for publicity?

  • Comment number 9.

    I was punched in the air as much as the Everton players were. The City fans around me were saying things like its their cup final, how many trophies have they won.....

    City fans will do well to remember that Lescott saga actually caused a big rift between all elements of the club. For a long time the blue halves of each city had been kindred spirits occasionally jumping from the shadows behind their more successful red halves.

    We've sold and bought with city alot, Managers too. last yeat if you wanted a nailed on certainity Everton to beat City was the games I'd choose

    Its no co-incidentce that we rarely lose against a side in the top half of the division, only Arsenal this year I think yet have not beaten a side in the bottom half.

    Reasons? Well Everton despite what other teams's fans may say are a threat and teams especially when they play us at home now come with a much more compact idea of defending, this year we've been well short of being clever enough to brak them down.

    Away from home less of the ball, easier for the better players to counter, we've lost more games at GP than away.

    Play Utd or Liverpool etc then roles are reversed and we look at match. If I'm being brutal the players and maybe Moyes lack the right attitude to get over the favourite tag in most of our games

    I know this sounds mad but I think a change of Manager is probably due. In fact at some points in November if Moyes had resigned it wouldn't be a surprise, he has banged his head against the same spot in the same wall for three seasons

    Phil do you agree?

    For me despite last night city will go very close, but that's because some of their individual players are stand out, not because they are a good team.

    Some of things Tevez and Y.Toure did were amazing

  • Comment number 10.

    Why did Tevez get a standing ovation? Yes he is by far City's best player, but everyone seems to be completely forgetting that he has absolutely no loyalty to the club or fans. It is clear that he is only interested in the pay cheque. It isn’t as though this behaviour is anything new just look back at his track record at previous clubs. Why are City fans so desperate to keep him when they could so easily go out and replace him?

  • Comment number 11.

    6. dogeared wrote:
    No 'Old Trafford' penalties for Man City then... they deserved at leat one of those calls.

    You've contradicted yourself here.

  • Comment number 12.

    @ 6. At 09:07am on 21 Dec 2010, dogeared wrote:
    No 'Old Trafford' penalties for Man City then... they deserved at leat one of those calls.

    Despite that however, they played as a bunch of individuals.

    But I'm glad they didn't make top spot - their strategy of having two world class players for every position is not just disgusting, it's backfiring as it obviously would.

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


    Yeh having the opportunity to go Top of Premier League at Christmas ahead of all the Big Boys and a chance to break an 81 year tradition is really '' Back Firing '' isnt it , Best ever league position finish last season, and an even better start to this season with still half the season to go, '' Back Firing '' is the last term i'd use to describe City's progress , we were never going to gain instant success and not once has city preached of winnin the league this year , our sole goal is to qualify for Champs League which is totally on course. Yes City's progress is totally ''Back Firing''

  • Comment number 13.

    Questions have to be asked of Mancini's technical ability. Why, after Everton went down to 10 men, did he continue to employ a 4-man defence when Everton had no recogized striker on the field? Why did Johnson not start? There was no width whatsoever in th 1st half and it was incredible that Mancini could not see what was wrong. The City marking was dreadful and both Kompany and K. Toure look unfit to me and should be spending more time in the gymn shedding those extra pounds they seem to have put on. Despite all the 'kiss and make-up' Tevez did not look happy last night. Only one thing is going to save City's season and that is a clear-out and that means Mancini musts go and someone with better tactical knowledge and who will have the respect of the players must be brought in.

  • Comment number 14.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 15.

    As a Spurs fan, City still represent the biggest threat to a CL slot next year for us and I was heartened to see them fail against a team that brought organisation, tenacity and 'history' to the party, but remain very limited. All Spurs fans have got to be hoping that visiting teams see what can be done at Eastlands, follow Everton's example, and do it. Personally I think City are still a long way from challenging for the title and the capacity for implosion after a few poor results is rich. Carlos Tevez - great player - could still be the disruptive liability that seems them back in the Europa league and can any football fan other than City's really be saddened by that considering how their team is financed.

  • Comment number 16.

    At 31, is it too late for Tim Cahill to move to a so called 'big four' club? Surely his performances since he has been at Everton have merited a move to a club playing in the Champions League every season. His all round play is up to the standard and his goal scoring could easily increase playing with better players.

    Any thoughts on why one of the Champions League regulars haven't taken a punt on him, just as David Moyes did wheh he took him from Millwall?

  • Comment number 17.

    I agree with James Autar
    Mancini has no idea of what is required to become an EPL manager or even a Blue Square North Manager (no disrespect intended to Hyde or Harrogate or the others)
    Time after time he starts with the wrong players, substitutes the wrong players at the wrong time etc.
    Mind you the first goal could hardly have been put down to him, except that the fact that Kolarov must have been picked to take corners and not defend, because turning your back on someone who is about to cross the ball, after ghosting into a threatening position, totally unacceptable. Why wasn't Boateng in?
    Zabba being off for the 2nd goal was unlucky but what was Milner doing letting them get so far into the City box? Even I could see what was going to happen and Baines took the goal perfectly. Great goal but what a shambles for City.
    Mancini HAS to go, surely before the end of the year and let him take Balotelli back home with him. Sheik out the old and Sheik in the new for 2011.

  • Comment number 18.

    This proves once and for all that you cannot buy a spirit! Well done Moyes, he has done some shrewd work in the market -- Cahill & Arteta cost £4million combined -- as well as bringing some talented youngsters through.

    One of the cleverest British managers around...next stop Old Trafford?!

  • Comment number 19.

    #12 "having the opportunity to go Top of Premier League at Christmas ahead of all the Big Boys and a chance to break an 81 year tradition is really '' Back Firing '' isnt it , Best ever league position finish last season"
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Didn't City finish top of the league in the 60's? Why is it that so many people when quoting statistics can only go back as far as when the Premiership began? We didn't play with a square ball before Sky came along you know. The top division was always the top division and nothing's changed.

  • Comment number 20.

    I suspect Citeh have bowed to Tevez's every demand and soon he'll sign a contract worth 500K a week. All this talk of Citeh playing hardball is complete rubbish. The power at that club lies firmly with the players and so desperate are they to please their expensively assembled mercenaries their every wim is met. I feel sorry for Mancini - his attempts to stamp his authority over the club are being cruely underminded. By my reckoning there are only 4 managers who could manage Citeh and put these mercenaries back in their box: Mourinihio, Wenger, Ancellotti and Ferguson. I can't see any of them leaving their positions soon.
    Oh and well done Everton.

  • Comment number 21.

    firstly fair play to Everton, well drilled and not without a fair degree of quality, but why can they not do this on a regular basis and not jsut against the top sides!!

    In reality we still should have got at least a point last night and if cahnces had been converted...whoich leads me to my main point....Mr Balotelli....I am not doubting his ability, he has it in him to become top class...but that attitude!!.
    We need support for Teves, after all the stuff going on during the week he was always going to struggle. It was time for Mario to step up and he failed. Question is what to do with him, certainly you can't just dump him in the stiffs for a time and hope he changes his attitude, for me he should be used as an impact player from the bench with Mancinis words about attitude and application ringing in his ears for a few weeks.
    Another key reason for the slow and cold start, which really cost us the game, was the absence of De Jong, hughely underated in the media, but not at City.

    Despite all this I still remain optomistic for acheiving what I expected from the season, top 4 finish and a big chance in the Europa and FA Cup...one things for certain, like us or loathe us, we aint going anywhere!!

  • Comment number 22.

    Lots of talk this morning and some interesting lines this morning around the media this morning about the respective dress codes of the two teams in the freezing Eastlands temperatures.

    Everton had no gloves on show and plenty of short-sleeved shirts while City's players were clad in gloves, snoods and tights. Did this tell us something about the differing attitude and approach of the two teams?

    I'm not sure about that, although I do have a view on snoods. I am with the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Roy Keane on this one. I do not understand why any players would wish to wear those during a game.

    I am not sure tights and gloves make that much difference, but I do think Everton, as a football team, had a harder age about them, although I am not convinced you can put that down to a differing dress sense.

    On a more serious point, I think we should be wary of being too harsh on City too quickly because they are still in a fine league position, so let me know where you think they need to improve.

    And what are your views on Mario Balotelli? A talent no doubt, but needs some serious work on his attitude.






  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    Quite agree Chippy. Whether the marketing men want to call it Premier League, EPL, Division 1, or the Superliga, it's just the top flight of English football. For all their riches, until City achieve what Lee, Bell & Summerbee did, they won't be as good.

    City have some great players, particularly Yaya Toure. But you cannot buy team spirit. Chelsea were able to mould with money because they had Terry & Lampard glue-ing it all together. Getting rid of City stalwarts like Dunne was foolish. He may not be the best, as Steve Bruce wasn't when he played for United, but sometimes you need the extra thing that these types of players bring.

    25 world-class players they may be, but do you think they care a jot about Manchester City and their history? If the Sheik moved to West Ham, Blackpool or Wigan, they'd all trot along in due course, as long as their £150,000 a week was secure.

    Man City are far from the only club to pay ridiculous wages, but you cannot just buy it all in, in one fell swoop. They would do well to develop Barry, Milner & Johnson into team regulars who can buy into the spirit of the Kippax lot.

  • Comment number 25.

    The Tevez u turn is just an agreement reached with Mancini to avoid too many problems before he is sold in the Summer.

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    Facts of Life:
    - Water is wet
    - The sky is blue
    - City are a joke

  • Comment number 28.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 29.

    Phil - as a side note, do you feel Moyes is good enough to replace Ferguson at OT? If not then who is?

    keep up all the good work! :D

  • Comment number 30.

    City had their chances but bottled it. They will not win the league.

  • Comment number 31.

    Truth be told. The Tevez factor contributed to city's poor display.

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.

    I watched last night's excellent game as a neutral fan. I can't agree with much of what you say today, Phil. City absolutely slaughtered Everton and the result was one of those enigmas where the it should really have been three or four goals in City's favour. They made a couple of mistakes and were punished but that's football and you can't remove the risk of human error entirely. Despite the result MC are more of a title challenger in my eyes after that match.

    As for Everton, all I can say is they were pretty fortunate! Looks to me like they will struggle when Tim Cahill is away.



  • Comment number 34.

    Agree with #18, Moyes has made great signings. Even when he took a gamble spending 15 million on Felleini it seems to have been a good signing (compare that with 16m on Kolarov, 20m on Jo etc)

    City will not win the title, they have looked unconvincing in too many games to be a real threat. Hope the old chequebook comes out in January though just for entertainment's sake.

    I reckon the weather may have a crucial part to play in who wins the title. Several Man Utd fans had told me that there was no better time to play Chelsea at the Bridge in the run up to Sunday's postponed game. With that being put back, Chelsea may get their form back and end up beating United in the re-arranged fixture. I think United fans will be cursing that postponement

  • Comment number 35.

    If there was a cloud on Everton's horizon after last night, it is the prospect of Tim Cahill departing for the Asia Cup after the New Year's Day game against Stoke City.

    He will be a huge loss. How will Everton compensate for that?

    On a wider question, has there been a better pound-for-pound signing in recent times than the £2m David Moyes paid Millwall for the Australian in 2004? And is there anyone City could look at in what they might regard as the lower end of the market to mix in with their big-money buys?

  • Comment number 36.

    I always admired Tevez as a player. When he was playing in Brazil, I would watch matches where he was playing. But him talking about homesickness and missing his daughters in order to improve an already rich contract is cheap - very cheap. Add Balotelli in the equation and you have to spoilt rats in the team. I was watching the match last night and, in a number of occasions, I was wondering whether Balotelli was thinking about participating in the match or not. What does possesion have to do with the result, when possesion is toothless? Everton were razor sharp at the beginning of the match.

    What is worrying about Manchester City is that, after 18 matches, they've scored only 9 goals at home - a tally 2 less scored goals than West Ham who are bottom of the table. With statistics of this sort, it is not the case whether a team will win the premiership but whether it will find a way to end the season on a top 4 spot.

    I always find entertaining the belief of City supporters that they can win the premiership this season but I'm excused as I support the other team in Manchester. But City have major problems, not just major signings. I remember Cooke provoking Manchester United with an interview and it backfired on the outcome of the match, last season. This season, two major attackers - Tevez and Balotelli - are in competition who will provoke most the fans and the club. With such attitude, how will the team play like a unit and not like individuals and how will the rest of the team contribute their best, helping these two increase just their own ego?

    Mancini has his work cut out. Without discipline you win nothing in the premiership, especially the title. At this point in time, Manchester City look in danger of losing the fourth qualifying spot for the Champions League too, because Spurs do not have to problems City have, while they're scoring with relative ease, in comparison.

    A last comment as food for thought, for Mr Mancini: it's nice to have the best defence in the premiership but, after almost half of the season, having scored only 9 goals at home is disastrous!

  • Comment number 37.

    As an everton fan i look at games like this and ask the same question , why can we play like this against the top teams ,i think man city will be in the champions league position come end of season but i think man city's main problem will be keeping such a big squad with so many very big egos happy ,but my big fear is neil lennon leaving celtic and david moyes being tempted to go back to celtic ,this i think will happen very soon

  • Comment number 38.

    Would City be where they are now without Tevez?

    answer Emphaticly NO!

    so yes just like thier neighbours they have caved into the players demands ( rooney ) etc

    Make no mistake tevez is IMO a very fine player, he works dam hard thats for sure, he chases everything and i feel his efforts should not be underestimated and have kept City in the hunt, all the time they have him working his socks of and scoring goals they are indeed in with a good shout for the Title.

    I would swap Bendtner for Tevez any day of the week.

    To appease tevez all city have to do is to allow the guy some extended breaks and i am sure they will! as this would have been part of the new negotiations.

    I like the player, i like his workrate and the effort he puts in on a regular basis is there for all to see.

    and i wish City all the best for the season but hopefully not at the expense of Arsenal of course.

    as for Everton, again a great side IMO, very good manager as well.

  • Comment number 39.

    Well thanks again Phil for highlighting the never-ending "roller coaster" Man City saga, which one can hardly blame you for, as it's been about the only major Premier League story this week now with nearly all the other matches called off.

    I have to say however, I'm a bit staggered by the lack of comments so far, which I'd guess is at least partly a symptom of the disillusionment of Man City fans, many of whom are probably hanging their heads in shame right now, after so many of them boasting profusely (on various blogs, etc.) that they were about to top the Premier League table this Xmas.

    Though I personally agree with the gist of what you say, that it's no surprise City blew their chance once again, to be honest I was a bit surprised it happened against Everton, due to the recent form of both clubs and their relative league positions, despite my general disbelief, lack of faith and trust in the man at the helm, Roberto Mancini.

    I think the explanation for the result however was twofold.

    Firstly, that Mancini has failed to create both a coherently organized team, and even worse, the kind of team spirit that existed last night in Everton or shows regularly in other Premier League sides like Man U and Tottenham was severely lacking.

    Numerous others remarked after the game last night that Everton were a team, but City were a bunch of individuals, often all out for themselves.

    For me this was highlighted by when Toure scored (kind of), he pushed away and resisted Adam Johnson's efforts to celebrate the "goal" (og) with him, which for me was ingratitude in the extreme, when Johnson had unselfishly laid the opportunity on a plate for him instead of trying to score himself.

    And this arrogance in so many City players, is in my view not an accident, but an inevitable consequence of Mancini's policies, and in particular, a number of unwise purchases, salary and management decisions he has made.

    e.g. if Toure is getting £200k plus a week, while Johnson and others only get £60k, it's hardly surprising Toure thinks he's a class above Johnson and others.

    Under Sven, and to a lesser extent Mark Hughes, Man City did feel like a team, but under Mancini, it feels like there's a bunch of arrogant self-proclaimed all stars, all in-fighting for dominance, and trying to make a name for themselves by scoring goals when that's not actually the job they've been hired for, or are most competent at.

    Though Tevez is competent at goal scoring, he's also very arrogant and greedy, and squanders many opportunities he could give to others better placed, which again, is a symptom of the general pattern of Mancini's team spirit lacking, players not working enough for each other, team.

    The other unusual thing to note however about last night's game, is that history can inspire a team, and Everton's record of victory again Man City in their last several meetings in my view played a large part in last night's

    Footballers are legendary for their superstition, and the feeling that some venues are "lucky" for them can go a long, long way, and I doubt Mancini and his team had given that issue enough thought, and thus were not prepared for such tough and relentless resistance as Everton showed, but my guess is, will not show half as much in their next meeting with any other top club.

    Which all just goes to show what an enormous part psychology, aka confidence, plays in football, both in the performance of individual players and a team collectively, mainly in terms of their feeling that they believe in themselves and their team, and their ability to win, as was clear in Everton last night.

    But the point being overlooked is that managers are key to building up team and player confidence, which last night Mancini clearly failed to do in spectacular fashion.

    That is, we keep hearing this endless excuse from Mancini, that City had 10 or 20 or more chances and shots on goal - often true - and "should have scored more goals."

    But for a manager of the world's richest club, that sort of routine reply is just not good enough - the unanswered question is why the chances don't translate into goals, when he has got 11 top internationals including even one recent World Cup winner(David Silva)out there, even when he reaches to the substitute's bench or beyond.

    Last night, though Tevez played about average or normal for him, many others underperformed including Balotelli, and even Adam Johnson and David Silva, despite the latter pair cleverly working the opportunity for Toure to shoot and "score" (technically an own goal, but should have been a genuine goal except for yet another underperforming effort from Yaya Toure).

    So once again, you have to ask why all these very talented and in cases world class players are underperforming at the vital moment, and for that I see no alternative but to blame the manager.

    Firstly as I said, just as many dogs share the same personality as their owners, Mancini assembles a squad and team of problem personalities or big egos, including Tevez, Ya Ya Toure, most famously of course Balotelli and it now appears even Kolo Toure, who got sent off for needlessly petulant behaviour 30 seconds from the end, getting booked twice in the last 2 minutes of injury time for two successive bad tackles, which surely must be some kind of minor record.

    The other appalling thing Mancini did last night, was to show his open contempt for Adam Johnson, howling with disdain each time Johnson made a blunder, which most of his other players were also doing, but not coming in for any criticism whatsoever, e.g. Kolo Toure's sending off, which highlighted once again, an unhealthy bullying attitude towards this particular England star from Mancini, that he has singled him out as some kind of "whipping boy" to be blamed for all the team's failure collective speaking, despite the fact Johnson was the key player assisting in City's only "goal." (as technically it was an own goal, technically also therefore the assist was unwittingly Toure's and not Johnson's, which is to rob Johnson also of the well deserved credit.)

    In fact, once again, it was obvious that City improved a lot when Johnson was brought on - reluctantly no doubt, due to Milner's failure to penetrate in the first half - with most of the play and danger revolving around him, which once again, begged the question of why Johnson's not being included from the start.

    But surely it's becoming obvious to nearly everyone now, Mancini has got some kind of personal grievance with Johnson, which the kind of incompetence and lack of communication skills in English which led him to say to Sky News last night in interview "missed opportunity to go on the top (at Xmas) after 18 years (meaning 81)" we are not privy to.

    http://www.skysports.com/story/0,19528,11679_6605388,00.html

    One fan on the 606 Man City blog - apparently a Villa one - also queried "what has Mancini done to Milner?" who to him now looked a mere shadow of his Villa performances.

    Then the blunders in taking ages dealing with the Balotelli substitution and the Zabaletta mini-drama with his head bandaged (and not competently, with blood leaking after half-time) like the Mummy.

    Then we have the unexplained Tevez issue, which I don't for a moment believe has been resolved fully, with Tevez showing 100% commitment to the club as claimed, but that statement was put out by Man City to alleviate their fears that the City fans were going to turn hostile against Tevez last night, and thus risk City's chances of going top over Xmas.

    My guess is the most likely scenario is they've promised Tevez he can go at the end of the season "if he still feels the same way", but they've agreed not to tell the fans as yet "for the good of the club."

    And finally to cap it all, we have Mancini's typically unrealistic interview reactions, to what must have been an absolutely crushing blow to him, pretending in denial everything is all right, and the good news is that Tevez is staying (but we don't know for how long, and he's not telling us), though he doesn't mention - as you point out - Balotelli's serious temperament problems, or the fact that Kolo Toure's automatically banned for the next game now, or the general lack of team spirit and width in the formation, with players (e.g. Adam Johnson) seemingly in all kinds of confusing positions and roles, not knowing quite what they are supposed to be doing, which in my view is largely a consequence of Mancini's too "hands on" "overmanaging" style of mismanagement.

    i.e. he's insecure, doesn't trust his players, so keeps whinging and barking orders in their ears, which only destroys their confidence and spontaneity, causing them needless anxiety, and thus to under-perform at key moments.

    In one of your recent blogs on the City saga, I called Mancini a nearly man, and "the Gordon Brown of football management" and my view is unchanged, as we had further proof last night, in that what should have been a Xmas turkey shoot for the Man City stars and sent them soaring to the top of the table, in Mancini's unsafe hands instead became like some new genre of football disaster movie.

    But despite all, such is his delusion, he thinks he's a big success now, with City in the top 4, and still in the job after a year despite many doubts he'd last this long, but I think just as even if City had won and topped the table would have been an illusion with Man U having two games in hand, we'll find by this time next year, he'll be some place else, likely far away, along with a number of City's current star players I'd guess - e.g Tevez, Adebayor, Adam Johnson, Milner, Balotelli and who knows who else, take your pick.

    And PS City won't win a single trophy, probably not even the Europa League which is probably their only real chance this year, but I'd bet on him to blow that one too.

    It's the natural consequence of a man trying to do a job that in his heart he doesn't really believe he's big enough to do, but won't publicly admit, like I said, "the Gordon Brown of football management."

  • Comment number 40.

    @ 27. At 10:23am on 21 Dec 2010, JoeDerz wrote:

    Facts of Life:
    - Water is wet
    - The sky is blue
    - City are a joke
    - And so are you!

  • Comment number 41.

    Once again your summing up was spot on Phil.
    City took too long to get going but when they did they had some mis-fortune in and around the box. I've never seen a game with so many hanballs in the box, at least two of which looked nailed-on penalties. Yes, once again City shot themselves in the foot but as you wrote, this one defeat won't write off their season. It always amuses me to read the rants and put-downs from the rag fans. Noisy neighbours causing you some concern?

  • Comment number 42.

    @ HAHA CharadeYouAre

    I agree about Tevez...thing is though, MC have quality all over the pitch. They have a STRONG DEFENCE and a GREAT KEEPER and MIDFIELD STEEL! Arsenal lack all of these things and will fall short of winning trophies...AGAIN!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 43.

    as for the " snoods " gloves and tights I have no objection/s so long as they dont start trotting out in TUTU's i see no problem.

  • Comment number 44.

    As a neutral, it was a very good game and Everton deservedly took the points - their defending was top notch.

    However, I was disappointed with the amount of ridiculous penalty appeals that City made - just because someone's blocked the ball doesn't mean it's a penalty. Must have been at least 6 times where shots came in and regardless of where it hit an Everton player they were appealing for a handball. Ridiculous.

  • Comment number 45.

    oh and special well done to Kolo Toure - you obviously wanted Boxing day off and you've got it

  • Comment number 46.

    Everton lucky? No so sure, score when you are on top, with the exception of one save from Howard which was extremely good, after City hit the post did you see Howard making save after save after save?

    Everthing city did was at arms length and comfortable for a goalkeeper of howards ability

    city had close to 24 attempts at goal....7 on target, perhaps a look at the distance and accuracy will tell you why they lost

    Most goals scored in the box not out of it....

  • Comment number 47.

    city , hahahahahahahahahaha...need i say more.

  • Comment number 48.

    Firstly, I'm a City fan, so you now know I'm not completely unbiased here. I can't believe the slating that the team is getting when you look at the statistics from last night. Well done to Everton, but be honest, if those were the stats from ManU vs Everton then the line would have been: "Man Utd were very unlucky, deserved at least a point and dominated the game." And you know it would have been. I understand that nobody likes the club with all the money. Most people will have been rubbing their hands with glee at the final whistle just itching to get on here and start on the critisms. Remeber football is fickle. Even BBC reporters one minute rave about City then in the same week slate them. I'd just advise people to take the longer view. At the end of the season is the right time to judge things. I despair as much as anyone else at the direction football is taking sometimes in respects to money. Let's wait and see what the season brings. Well done to Everton.

  • Comment number 49.

    I didn't see the game but the BBC's reporting has me fascinated; in the match report on the website it states.

    "A patched up Zabaleta returned to the pitch minutes later and the Argentine immediately created an opening for Tevez, whose shot went behind for a corner."

    Is there a U tube video of this yet?

    I have seen shots go out for throw-ins before but never for a corner. Come on even my Mum can kick a ball forwards.

  • Comment number 50.

    At 31, is it too late for Tim Cahill to move to a so called 'big four' club?
    ----------------
    No, of course it isn't. Remember Sheringham, McAllister?

    However he really doesn't suit a top 4 team, he is at his best coming from behind a sole striker in a defensive formation and none of the top teams play that way.

  • Comment number 51.

    Despite the millions spent I still think City are short of a couple of players required for a serious title challenge. With De Jong out injured, Milner came in and he is a totally different type of player and the balance of the team suffered as a result. Gareth Barry is a midtable player and shouldn't be part of a top teams squad let alone their first team. Johnson is lauded as he is exciting and can score and make goals, but like most English players his decision making and tactical discipline are often poor. I also expect Santa Cruz and Adebayor to leave, so wouldn't be surprised to see City after another striker.

    However City are making progress, Mancini is a proven winner (unlike Mark Hughes) and I think in the next couple of years they can be champions.

  • Comment number 52.

    Everton had no gloves on show and plenty of short-sleeved shirts while City's players were clad in gloves, snoods and tights. Did this tell us something about the differing attitude and approach of the two teams?
    ------------------

    No and it's time you and the rest of the media stopped peddling this idiotic rubbish.

    What someone wears has very little bearing on their play or personality. In fact it could easily be argued that players who wear clothing to keep themselves warm are actually doing the right thing to aid physical performance.

  • Comment number 53.

    To prophet_samuel...I agree with you about taking what you call "the longer view" about Manchester City and have said as much in the blog and on here in these posts earlier.

    I wonder if the team is better equipped to get results away from home than at Eastlands, as perhaps shown by the impressive wins at Fulham and West Ham?

    Really keen to hear from City fans about Balotelli. You will have seen him more than me. Let me hear your thoughts.

    And Everton fans, can you still make a push for the top six? Can you finally cure the inconsistency that has dogged your campaign?

    One Everton player who has really impressed me this season has been Sylvain Distin. I watched him have a nightmare in the second half against Manchester United, but he has excelled almost every other time I have watched him. How ironic that the man he replaced, £24m Joleon Lescott, struggles to get a place at Eastlands.

  • Comment number 54.

    We have always been well known for hammering sides but going home with no points. 25 shots to 4! About as one sided as you can get - but we still lost, welcome back the good old bad old days!

  • Comment number 55.

    52. At 11:07am on 21 Dec 2010, hackerjack wrote:

    What someone wears has very little bearing on their play or personality. In fact it could easily be argued that players who wear clothing to keep themselves warm are actually doing the right thing to aid physical performance.

    _____________________________________________________________________

    Have a laugh. Did you see the thing Tevez was wearing? It looked like it was ripped off the bottom of a pair of jeans. It's nothing more than a 'fashion' statement. Your neck has not only the carotid vein and carotid artery going through it, but several other fairly sizeable blood vessels. It can keep itself warm, especially when you're running round, without the assistance of some ridiculous garment.

    Gloves? OK. Some people have thin fingers and not great circulation in their hands, and the discomfort caused can be distracting. But snoods are just plain silly.

  • Comment number 56.

    Phil

    I think you've been a bit too much of a typical journalist here in that you seem to be making pronouncements based on little more than last nights game.

    Man City are still very much a work in progress, despite the perception of what 'progress' has occurred on the back of a lot of transfers in the last couple of years. Comments like 'what now looks an exorbitant £24m Moyes banked for Lescott' seem to demonstrate a lack of understanding, or maybe just back tracking from a similarly 'definitive' comment you may have made sometime back.

    Who said he was 'worth' £24m? Lescott is a decent defender but was bought at what we could call a Man City price because that is how much they wanted to pay. Lescott has joined a bigger pond in terms of the quality and numbers available in defence at Man City and he won't always be the first choice that Distan is at Everton and will therefore have less opportunity to impress you in the way that Distan apparently has at Everton. (Lescott being injured for sometime and therefore having to rejoin the pecking order may be part of the reason for his current position as well.)

    When all is said and done about Man City, they are still third and if they can achieve this when they are as bad as some would like us to believe, then it bodes well for when they will, in my opinion, inevitably get better and more cohesive.

    As for Everton, they pretty much play the same way every time and it almost seems to be fortune that dictates whether that way gets them 1, 2 or three points. They are consistent in that respect and it is usually the quality and the performance of the opposition that decides how many points Everton get from a fixture, and not necessarily what Everton do in a fixture that decides the outcome.

    Finally, Man City barely did anything other than defend against Chelsea at Eastlands and got three points and plaudits. Last night, they had tonnes of possession etc but it didn't pay dividends. That, my friend, is simply football.

    Have a Merry Christmas (if you don't respond). :-)

  • Comment number 57.

    City is so desperate to try to at least at the top of the Premier League for a few day when most every other game was cancel. Too bad they are just not up to it and talk about winning the league, way too early for a dream.

  • Comment number 58.

    To the JK Rowling posting the novel - Yaya Toure has been playing well recently. It always upsets me to see people jumping on his back because of what he supposedly gets paid. People are happy to talk about his wages but do you ever hear about how much of his huge wage he donates to charity? My guess is probably quite a lot.

    Also, you can't blame someone for earning a fortune, it's what everyone aspires to. The reality is, every Prem player gets paid huge money, the likes of Blackpool not so ridiculously, but no Prem player is hard up. If you reach that level as a player, regardless of what you're being paid, you should have an incentive to give 100%.

  • Comment number 59.

    #58 Clint

    Frankly, I think they have a professional obligation to give 100%! It's only for 90+ minutes as well! Still, we all have our off days.

    #55 kanchelskis_legend

    Can we assume that you never wear even a scarf? You my friend, are double 'ard!

  • Comment number 60.

    Man City well know for hammering teams and losing?

    Really? More well know for been one of the larger clubs in recent time to horlix up their club get relegated to the third tier of English football and then get bought as a plaything for people we know very little about....

    Always room for a bargain, Tim Cahill 2m, scored more goals at the north end of Eastlands than most City players........

  • Comment number 61.

    Re: 39,

    " e.g. if Toure is getting £200k plus a week, while Johnson and others only get £60k, it's hardly surprising Toure thinks he's a class above Johnson and others. "

    Adam Johnson is an excellent buy for City. They bought him for peanuts from Middlesbro, in comparison to some fees they've paid. Skilled, low profile, quiet, disciplined and, when playing, giving his all for the club. At times, during matches, I see Mancini going like mad at him and keep wondering whether Mancini uses a quiet low profile, good player as a target to display the 'tough guy' image. In contrast, Tevez did what he did and returns as team captain, while Balotelli is 'also there' so many times and I never saw such a reaction from Mancini.

    Is Mancini the boss in the dressing room or is he an 'also there'?

  • Comment number 62.

    Why all this nonsense about top of the league, playing TWO more games then United and at least ONE mor then the rest, I could understand if everybody played an equal amount of games but that's not the case. Tottenham (yes FIFTH in Prem) could be well up their backsides if they win their next match.

  • Comment number 63.

    MBB

    Actually, this winter I am scarfless, but only because my coat has a particularly high collar - very cosy. £80 from Burton. Other menswear stores are available.

    But them I'm not running around or engaging in physical activity when I'm wearing it. Footballers get their circulation right up over the course of 90 mins, and there's no way their neck should be cold enough to cause them any sort of distraction. Especially when you see them playing without gloves, in short sleeves, but with a snood (see Nasri). That's basically just admitting that you're wearing it as a fashion statement. Or that you have an agreement in place with Nike.

    BAN 'EM!!

  • Comment number 64.

    #61 Football_UK

    I think people get themselves unnecessarily involved and hot under the collar when it comes to players wages.

    Maybe Toure get's more because he has a better CV? Maybe he get's more because he has a better agent?

    Maybe Johnson get's less for the converse of those reasons?

    If Johnson wants better wages, he will have to work his way to them.

    Maybe Man City really have got money to burn and are drunk on wealth or maybe it's just the sign of the times and wages have just accelerated beyond regular comprehension.

    Maybe Mancini takes a different approach to managing different players, based on conversations with them. We don't know the players after all.

  • Comment number 65.

    Everton played well and deserved the win, stats mean nothing. If you have that much possession and you can't break a team down then there is a fundamental problem with the team. I think Mancini is way too defensive, as soon as Everton went down to ten he should have had 6/7 attacking players on the pitch and tried to overload Everton.
    But, as City fans are keen to point out, City are a work in progress, so many new signings means that it will take a while for the team to gel and perform consistently. Lets not kid ourselves, City are a force to be reckoned with and a CL spot is well within their grasp. A trophy will follow in the next couple of seasons and they will become title contenders for years to come (unless the owners get bored and sell up).
    As for Balotelli, great talent combined with the worst attitude. He needs a swift kick up the backside otherwise he will just become a trouble player that no-one will want. If and when Mancini goes I don't think a new, no nonsense manger would keep him no matter how good he is. There are plenty of talented youngsters out there without the attitude, eg Lukaku of Anderlecht. His attitude will never improve as long as players like Tevez are captain and act the way they do. He is meant to be the role model and he is showing the youngsters that they can throw a hissy fit and get away with it (and yes Rooney's situation was similar, but he isn't the captain and that is the big difference here)

  • Comment number 66.

    Just a few observations:-

    for heaven knows how long fans and pundits alike have been bemoaning the domination of English football by the same two or three teams. Along comes a club whose owner can fund the necessary investment to challenge that monopoly and suddenly those same fans and pundits can't wait to have 'a pop' at the cash-rich upstart. Well, make your minds up guys because no amount of talented young home-grown youngsters,imbued with a plucky team spirit and brilliantly led by their 'up-and-coming' young manager is going to make so much as a dent on the likes of Man U, Chelsea or even Arsenal.

    As a City fan I can honestly say I know of no other City supporter who genuinely thought we would win the Premiership this season. Top four was always the goal. However, judging by some of the truly infantile comments posted by certain United fans it would seem that they possibly harbour a greater belief in what City can achieve this year than we do ourselves.

    Is Man City still more a collection of talented individuals than a cohesive team? Of course it is! Given the short time manager and many of the players have been at the club how could it be otherwise? But then I forget, the moment Sir Alex joined Man U the club enjoyed instant success,.... oh, hang-on a moment,...

  • Comment number 67.

    #63 kanchelskis_legend

    Of course, I agree with you generally - in that other menswear stores are available.

    To my mind, if I see, say, an African wearing additional items I can sort of understand it. When I see Rooney wearing gloves, I do think 'tart'.

    That said, if it makes you comfortable and helps you perform.....

    One thing I will say though, just how different is a snood to a necklace and could there be a neck related injury waiting to happen?

  • Comment number 68.

    61. Football_UK wrote:
    "Adam Johnson is an excellent buy for City... Skilled, low profile, quiet, disciplined and, when playing, giving his all for the club"

    I agree he's a good player but why does Mancini seem so reluctant to play him? Is it a discipline thing, maybe lack of commitment when it comes to the defensive part of his game? Either way, I find it extraordinary he gets so few games.

  • Comment number 69.

    MrBlueBurns

    Yeh, it'll be interesting to see what happens the first time an attacker is pulled back by a defender, by the snood. If I was the ref I'd be tempted to wave play on and inform the attacker that they shouldn't be wearing the thing in the first place.

  • Comment number 70.

    I thought this would happen to be honest. Everton treat games against City as a Cup Final, in fact I think Moyes is so obsessed with beating City he'd be happy to finish 17th as long as they did the double over us.

    City under-estimated Everton for the first 20 minutes and it cost them. The problem was then getting the goals back and it proved too big a challenge. It may do some good because City are not the finished article and being top at Christmas might have raised expectations too far.

    If City keep focused on the football and find solutions in one or two key areas, we will remain a force to be reckoned with.

    So Everton are probably feeling very smug right now, but I bet they wish they had our problems.

  • Comment number 71.

    MrBlueBurns, is it possible to get 2 points from a game now? Some new rules we weren't told about?

  • Comment number 72.

    City are at least three top quality signings away from being a force in the Premier League, well three signings and some different tactics.

    I have seen City play on several occasions this season and each time they looked organised, but quite simply lack creativity and rely too heavily on Tevez. Balotelli looks a good signing and I have no doubt he will turn out to be a great player, but with Adam Johnson used sparingly I struggle to see where the ammunition will come from. Toure, Milner and Barry are all workhorses but do they have the skill, vision or attacking intuition to unlock defenses, I dont think so. Against Utd a couple of months ago it could clearly be seen as Toure marched up field with the ball on several occasions (in classic Vieira like fashion), only to get to the edge of the box and get lost, losing the ball when not knowing what to do. I think it has shown that playing three similar central midfielders will not work, but then when have you seen a top class team play regularly with three defensive midfielders, the answer is quite simply never.

    Real Madrid, Barcelona, Man Utd, Chelsea have all played with one, sometimes two holding midfielders but never three. City need to find a way to add a bit more imagination. I am sure Mancini has wondered whether he made the right choice allowing Craig Bellamy to leave on loan & Martin Petrov on a free, but with players like David Silva, Adam Johnson and SWP it still shouldn't be that difficult. If I were City's boss I would lose Gareth Barry, he has certainly slowed in recent years and I honestly thought his passing ability was much better than what I have seen of late. Here would be my line up and below are a few players I would try to add and a few I would allow to leave:

    Hart
    Richards
    K Toure
    Boateng
    Kolarov
    Y Toure
    J Milner
    A Johnson
    D Silva
    Tevez
    Balotelli

    Possible signings:
    Giorgio Chiellini - I still think City need an assured central defender, someone to take responsiblity as the current choices seem to be error prone. Chiellini would definitely fit the mold.

    Eden Hazard - Can play on the wing and would give City real width with Johnson on the other flank. Alternatively Hazard could also sit just behind the forwards allowing Silva to play out wide. He would definitely give City more options, more creativity and is full of youthful exuberance.

    Sebastian Sweinsteiger - Like Hazard would give City options out wide and in the central areas. Very experienced and proven quality.

    Luis Suarez - Very simply put Suarez scores goals. Would definitely take the heat off Tevez and would be the perfect foil for Balotelli.

    Players to Go:
    Santa Cruz - If given a chance could well of done a job, but I think the writing is well and truly on the wall.

    Emmanuel Adebayor - Poor attitude, out of form, definitely has to go.

    Jo - Lightweight and still yet to show he can hack the ultra competitive Premier League

    Gareth Barry - When looking for a holding midfielder I think Toure, De Jong & Milner are all better options. Add to the fact that Vieira wouldn't make half as much money if sold and Michael Johnson would be a great option if he stays fit, Barry to leave would make tactical and financial sense.

    Wayne Bridge - With a dip in form and Kolarov, Boateng, Zabaleta and Lescott ahead of him, he has to go in January.

  • Comment number 73.

    for heaven knows how long fans and pundits alike have been bemoaning the domination of English football by the same two or three teams. Along comes a club whose owner can fund the necessary investment to challenge that monopoly and suddenly those same fans and pundits can't wait to have 'a pop' at the cash-rich upstart.

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

    The British media ain't known as vultures for no reason.

  • Comment number 74.

    Hi Phil,

    Since you asked, this was my assessment of Balotelli from Manchester Citys facebook page last night. Maybe a tad harsh, but I was hurting after my team lost :) See if you agree:

    "Balotelli. Brilliant, gifted, athletic and more, but it means nothing with the attitude he displays. There are street sweepers who go about their jobs with more pride, dedication and dignity than he does - for minimum wage. He strikes me as an egotist, who cares little for his team mates and even less for the fans and club. His whole demeanor is one of doing the club a favour which is somehow enormously inconveniencing him. He worries me a great deal."

  • Comment number 75.

    Morning and Merry Christmas to all,

    - pleased to be back 'on blog.'

    This result to me proves to me that City are still a bit 'Arsenalish'/ inconsistent to win the title this year, and are only serious top 4 candidates for me, along with Tottenham.

    Even Arsenal are not there yet, - three home defeats already this side of Christmas proves that.

    Here to me is the difference. I actually fancied Everton to take something from this game,(not win but draw) and probably equally so I woukld fancy them at W.H.Lane. I would give them less of a chance at the Emirates but would still give them a decent chance of gaining a point.

    Now if Everton went to the Bridge/ Old Trafford and got a point, this would be considered a fairly big shock, even with Chelsea's poor recent form most people fancied Chelsea to be too much for Everton when they recently met, they weren't and Everton got a deserved 1-1 draw. There would not be the same surprise if they gained a draw at Eastland/ White Hart Lane or even the Emirates. This maybe a mentality thing.

    United and Chelsea aside, - neither superb teams by recent standards (Chelsea 04/05 - 05/06, United (07/08/ 08/09) still regardless of Nasri claims hold the fear factor for all the other teams.

    Home record's are what titles are built around, Chelsea in the 04/05, may have been 05/06 not sure, won 18 home games, and drew 1, - Charlton Athletic being the team to spoil the run! Again this season this is the case, United have drawn one to West Brom and have won the rest.

    Again of the five title challengers discussed above, it is only United and Chelsea who are still unbeaten at home.

    Teams Spurs, and Arsenal have lost to/ City have drawn to this season, United and Chelsea, simply do less of hence why they generally finish up in the top two places, and I would back the same unless City really begin to gel, to happen again.








  • Comment number 76.

    53. At 11:09am on 21 Dec 2010, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    -- snip --

    I wonder if the team is better equipped to get results away from home than at Eastlands, as perhaps shown by the impressive wins at Fulham and West Ham?

    Really keen to hear from City fans about Balotelli. You will have seen him more than me. Let me hear your thoughts.

    ----

    Phil,

    I'm not sure what you mean by "better equipped". Surely, the players are the same and I can't think of a good reason why the general strategy shouldn't be the same*, so they should be able to acquire points home or away. IMO, that leaves the two options of (1) every body has an off day and (2) Everton are much better than their current league position implies.

    My opinion of Balotelli is that he vastly overrates himself and should concentrate on achieving shorter term goals like scoring regularly and working hard for the team, so that he mnay reap the longer term benefits of winning things with the team.

    * I subscribe to the view that a team should impose their own pattern of play on the game before the opposition does, thereby dictating the play and not requiring a change of strategy from game to game. It becomes interesting when a counter-attacking team meet a pressure team (or less interesting with two defensive teams) but I'll stand by my statement anyway.

  • Comment number 77.

    Alan, when was the last ime City got to a cup final, let alone won one?

  • Comment number 78.

    #71 HMMurdoch

    Good spot! (Though perhaps an entry from pedants corner.) Can I claim it was a Christmas 'egg' I planted? :-)

    Anyway, I guess I was alluding to the three possible results of win, lose or draw but got it wrong.

    More importantly though, would you agree that the result of an Everton fixture is more likely to be defined by their opponents, rather than Everton themselves? (Assuming I didn't leave any more 'eggs' in my explanation of THAT idea?)

  • Comment number 79.

    everton just looked like they wanted it more. simple as. and seriously, gloves, tights and under armour are one thing (not that i like them) but how on earth do professional footballers play wearing a scarf/snood??? surely its uncomfortable and restrictive?!

  • Comment number 80.

    I am getting a new Man City strip for Xmas: beanie hat, snood, thermals, tights and a pair of woolly gloves.

  • Comment number 81.

    Nessun Dorma -what game was you watching? You say that 'City slaughtered Everton'. Not in last night game they didn't. A 'slaughtering' means a 5-6 goal romp for the winning team, and as far as I am aware Everton won 2-1. City 'huffed and puffed' for sure and had more possession than Everton but how many real clear-cut chances did they have? They were few and far between and Tevez seemed be shooting from 20-25 yards most of the night. I recall an excellent save from Howard close to the end and a couple of other regular saves that he amde, but for all their possession City had very few shots on goal. A 'slaughtering'? No way my friend.

  • Comment number 82.

    How many times did Silva give the ball away and lose out in a challenge? I was surprised and didn't see what the fuss was about.

    City didn't really look like getting back in the game despite their advantage in the last 30mins. Correct decision btw, he shouldn't have run straight into the keeper and his second was correctly judged.

    All in all it was the right result. The team that played as a team won the match.

    All of that said Mancini has only been there a year, this shouldn't be forgotten.

  • Comment number 83.

    Well done Everton. Toffee fans must put into context Moyes' achievements. I guarantee there would have been a lot more relegation battle if he hadn't been in charge for the last 7 years.

    On city, they are doing well. I am unsure about the way he is developing the squad though. I don't think you can buy established Prem players and put them on the bench week in week out and not breed unhappiness. eg. Given, Adebayor, Lescott and SWP. These players were huge PL names and now can't get a game. The worst thing any squad can have is unhappy players it breeds contempt for the management. As soon as results go the wrong way this comes straight to the surface. When I think about Chelsea and United (the two most succesfull teams in recent years) they haven't bought huge names and benched them. The benches are full of youngsters / unproven PL players or older players. These players tend to be hungry and want to prove themselves and be happy to be fringe players. Look at United with Park, Anderson, Gibson, Owen, even back to people like Henning Berg, David May. Chelsea have Sturridge, McEachran, Ferreria, Kalou or Belletti.

    I think City need a few kids or good older pros to balance things out a bit and also support the manager. Mancini appears like a struggling teacher with a naughty class.

  • Comment number 84.

    Re: 64, MrBlueBurns,

    I wasn't trying to have a go at your club.
    Toure's both of them are good players.
    All I was saying, in positive spirit, was that Mancini regularly tells Adam Johnson off, while Balotelli goes on walkabouts, frequently volatile and we do not see a similar reaction, while Tevez used even his daughters in order to achieve whatever he achieved and returned to the club as a captain.

    Good managers use the same criteria for all players.
    Last evening, at the beginning of the match, Everton were razor sharp, went 2-0 up and I was listening to the commentator talking about Balotelli and his unwillingness to be part of the game, at times. Take this and Tevez still having other things in his mind and the 0-2 becomes the logical outcome of the match.

  • Comment number 85.

    "Good managers use the same criteria for all players."

    Like Fergie with Rooney and Keane.

    both complained about the quality of the squad, one got a five year deal, the other got shipped out to Celtic

  • Comment number 86.

    77. Be fair Divisional play-off v Gillingham, big time stuff....

  • Comment number 87.

    @MrBlueBurns

    'As for Everton, they pretty much play the same way every time and it almost seems to be fortune that dictates whether that way gets them 1, 2 or three points.'

    How do you get 2 points?

  • Comment number 88.

    "How do you get 2 points?"


    Its what Manchester united get for a draw, duh

  • Comment number 89.

    Most of us neutrals were delighted to see Everton overcome Man City again last night with a superior showing of team spirit and individuals knuckling down and earning their crust with determination, skill and bravery, thoroughly deserving to take the three points.

    A David and Goliath situation in terms of financial capabilities and yet the contrasts between the two sides concerning things that matter on the park were always in favour of Mr. Moyes and his men. May it long continue because a healthy league is one where everyone has a fair bite of the cherry, not one where the big four become the big five or even six.

    The colossal amounts of money being thrown around in the game have become ludicrous and, as many of you have pointed out, it’s destroying the game at grass roots. To solve this crisis in our national sport we would need to bring in legislation that forces a maximum spending limit on each club and also enforce a new rule whereby a certain percentage of the team consists of locally born talent. Not only would this maintain a more competitive spirit but also a glint of hope for all the local youngsters wanting to succeed in the game. Isn’t that what we want or do we want to remain powerless to the masses of foreign investment and continue to tolerate these overblown, outrageously overpaid clowns?

    These are the sort of debates you should be bringing to the table Mr. Phil McNulty, not encouraging fans to discuss the situation surrounding the prima donna drama queens. Hats off to the likes of Mr. Moyes and obviously Mr. Holloway who demand their players to do their talking on the pitch and subsequently consistently produce excellent and entertaining team performances.

  • Comment number 90.

    I dont' agree City are short players. They are short time. Mancini has had a year. The players way too many in my opinion don't get enough games yet together to gell as team under whatever system it is he plays. They will probably finish in Champions league spot, maybe 3rd even, but it will be next season before we see a truly settled team capable of a sustained challanged. However if Tevez and his like keep throwing strops, they won't ever win anything.... I get the impression what we read here and in newspapers is just gossip and far from the truth of things going on behind the scenes

  • Comment number 91.

    Re: 85. Jesus the Teddy Bear wrote:
    "Good managers use the same criteria for all players."

    Like Fergie with Rooney and Keane.

    both complained about the quality of the squad, one got a five year deal, the other got shipped out to Celtic

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

    Manchester United are (also) a special case: a huge club used by an American family for cash milking, purchased as a club in a way that still puzzles me that it was possible. Who would get a home mortgage for 14.5% interest? Those Glaziers bought Manchester United with that interest.

    In Rooney's case, in my opinion, the club will sell him in the summer and gave him a new contract because it suites both parties: Rooney will be on more money until the summer, while the club will get maximum money from the sale. I wouldn't blame Rooney for wanting to leave, when he sees the club not investing in champion-players anymore. It's visible, it's vivid and it's also logical because earnings travel past the atlantic.

    In Keane's case, Keane was the Manchester United captain, for years. He didn't bring out daughters issues and homesickness, to get a better contract. He said what he said, SAF didn't like it and got rid of him.

    I still believe Rooney is past for Manchester United. Just, the sale has to wait until the summer and the cash has to have the right numbers.

    Still, though, the discipline in the club remained 101%.
    This discipline is a key issue for every successful club. To give an example, look at Chelsea: sometimes, Drogba or Anelka will sit on the bench, or taken out - they bite the bullet, in silence. Now, think of taking off Balotelli or Tevez early and how they'll react.

  • Comment number 92.

    #84 Football_UK

    Man City are not my club. I'm Chelsea through and through!

    I'm not defending or attacking Man City. I think many people attack Man City based on club colours and jealousy. I just seem to spend time on this sort of issue deconstructing arguments, rather than agreeing or disagreeing with them.

    #87 Ricky Otto rules & #88 Jesus the Teddy Bear

    See post 78. You're too late to be clever. :-)

  • Comment number 93.

    @ Comment 70.

    you are seriously deluded. of course Moyes has a bit of an axe to grind with city and rightly so. but to say it is Everton's cup final is just ridiculous.

  • Comment number 94.

    Balotelli has only made 6 starts and 1 substitute appearance so far and scored 2 goals in the league. He has not had a chance to settle in.

    Yaya Toure and David Silva were being criticised intially until they settled.

    It's too soon to judge Balotelli.

    Everyone says he has a bad attitude. I didn't see this last night.

    Had he scored rather than hit the post, which was unlucky given it was a great take, then you would probably say how he is starting to "make his mark".

    He makes intelligent runs, and contrary to popular belief, isn't selfish. He passess if there is a better option. (Bar 1 40 yard strike last night that should never have been taken on).

    Ease off. Don't judge him till he has played another 10 games.

  • Comment number 95.

    92 MrBlueBurns,

    I was under the impression you're a Man City supporter, since last season :)
    I used the nickname Soccer_UK but got sick myself of reading that 'soccer' word and made it more civilized :)

    I wasn't attacking Manchester City - just an unbias sort of views display. Seen many Man Utd supporters saying they like Tevez as a player? I only changed my mind on him after all this saga for an improved contract where he used even his daughters for the cause - that was dissappointing (not to use other words and have Man City fans on red alert) :)

    Well, Chelsea seem to be close to the end of the dark weeks. I hope you spank Arsenal in the forthcoming days. I love watching Wenger trying to find excuses :)

  • Comment number 96.

    Tevez is like a bull running around a ring on the playing field, he is also a greedy player who rarely passes but that can be said about all the Man City players apart from Milner who works quietly but hasn`t had much chance to shine this season and is maybe regretting his move. Everton were a highly motivated team last night and got an early goal and got a bit of luck in the game. This season is going to be so close and I think City`s home form will let them down.

  • Comment number 97.

    @ Comment 70

    How arrogant of you to think Manchester City games are even anywhere near close to the importance Liverpool games hold over Everton.

    Speaking of cup finals, how many have Man City contested in recent times?

  • Comment number 98.

    #95 Football_UK

    Indeed. It seems unlikely that Chelsea's poor run will continue. If this is our blip and it's our worst run in over a decade and we are still only 3 points from the top, then things probably aren't as bad as the naysayers would have people believe.

  • Comment number 99.

    Tevez (or more to the point, his agent/owner) will keep quiet and either he will be sold in the next window or the agent/owner will want another payday and want out again.
    The trouble is, most of the players at MCFC see their jobs as an "easy life" and are not bothered whether they put in a creditable performance or not.
    The problems caused recently by Rooney's and now Tevez's agents will eventually kill the golden goose, as people become increasingly disenchanted with the greed in football and general lack of standards; similar to the state of professional cycling.

    Instead of awarding FIFA awarding major tournaments in a mysterious circumstances, maybe they apply a little more effort to kerbing the power of agents and reforming the transfer market.

    Why should players be "forced" to stay at a club against their will. They should simply be allowed to hand in their notice as anyone else, compensating (or the buying club) their clubs so that they do not suffer financial harm due to a player's decision.

    That would make more sense than the way world football is being run (and held to ransom) at the moment.

  • Comment number 100.

    35. At 10:36am on 21 Dec 2010, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    One Everton player who has really impressed me this season has been Sylvain Distin. I watched him have a nightmare in the second half against Manchester United, but he has excelled almost every other time I have watched him. How ironic that the man he replaced, £24m Joleon Lescott, struggles to get a place at Eastlands.

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

    I think this proves what Alex Ferguson said about the "grass not always being greener" during thr Rooney saga.

    Just because they are offering more money doesn't mean an automatic starting place or you are going to become a better player, look at Arsenal and Everton, they pay a fraction of the wages but develop their players and nurture their careers.

    Going to City for Barry, Milner and Lescott may prematurely end their England careers if they don't play and i'm sure some players would stick on lower wages, first team places and international football than simply loads of money.

    How many more games/minutes would Milner have got at Villa this season so far?

    How much more important would Barry be to Aston Villa or Liverpool for that matter?

    How has Adebayors career gone since he left Arsenal??

    The grass is almost certainly not greener at City unless they mould their expensively assembled team into a unit as solid as Everton showed last night.

    If i was Mancini i would have a club motto "There is no i in team"

 

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