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Gerrard makes point on and off the pitch

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Phil McNulty | 10:44 UK time, Thursday, 12 January 2012

At Etihad Stadium

Roberto Mancini was probably heartily sick of the sight of Steven Gerrard even before the Liverpool captain took the fight to Manchester City's manager in the tunnel following the first leg of this Carling Cup semi-final.

Gerrard, returning to full fitness after 10 months of injury strife, led from the front during and after the 1-0 win that saw Kenny Dalglish's side seize an important advantage in their attempt to reach Wembley for the first time since 1996.

Fuelled by a sense of injustice about the tackle that resulted in a red card for Vincent Kompany in the FA Cup defeat by Manchester United on Sunday, Mancini complained bitterly about a similar offence committed by Liverpool's Glen Johnson on Joleon Lescott towards the end of this match in Manchester.

Johnson escaped any punishment, much to Mancini's annoyance. But the Italian, who even hurled away a packet of his beloved fruit pastilles during the second half to demonstrate his frustration, received no sympathy from Gerrard.

After scoring what turned out to be the winner from the spot after 13 minutes, the 31-year-old continued to lead from the front post-match by confronting Mancini and exchanging words with the Italian as some members of the media looked on.

Steven Gerrard scores from the spotSteven Gerrard scores from the spot. Photo: AP

How Liverpool striker Andy Carroll must wish such leadership came as easily to him as it does to Gerrard, who has moved effortlessly through the gears following his patient rehabilitation from groin surgery and an ankle injury.

Carroll, in contrast, has to deal with speculation about his future - suggestions of a return to Newcastle United were quashed in the most emphatic manner possible by Dalglish - and a fruitless search for form.

There is no lack of effort, simply a lack of confidence and quality. He never cut a convincing figure when put clean through early on, his shot easily blocked by Hart, and is knocked to ground far too easily for a young man of such stature.

In the eight-game absence of suspended Luis Suarez, this is Carroll's big opportunity to put down a marker at Liverpool, to at least start to answer the doubters. On this night, he did neither, although he was often so isolated that his colleagues may have needed the aid of a satnav to locate him.

No matter for Dalglish and Liverpool, though, as they and their fans left Manchester with the whiff of Wembley and a first trophy since 2006's FA Cup win in their nostrils.

For City, there was a second successive home defeat at the place where they were impregnable for so long - and the sense that their season is entering a crucial phase.
No-one should doubt this City side's spirit. They demonstrated that in victory against Liverpool in the Premier League last week and, quite spectacularly, in how they fought against adversity in FA Cup defeat against Manchester United.

Application was not absent on Wednesday, but the quality and sharpness that has featured in their rise to the top of the league table was. Try as they might to step on the gas, there was nothing under the bonnet.

Mancini will not garner much, if any, sympathy with complaints about lack of personnel or squad strength given the financial largesse of City's owners, but how they missed the suspended Kompany and Yaya Toure, who is away on international duty with the Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Yaya Toure will be sorely missed but the removal of Kompany from the equation for another three games is arguably an even greater handicap. He is the team's leader as well as being a magnificent defender.

Stefan Savic fouls Daniel AggerStefan Savic fouls Daniel Agger. Photo: PA

The 21-year-old Stefan Savic, who conceded the penalty from which Gerrard scored, was uncertain and exposed as a rookie at this level, leaving Lescott looking less than assured. Lescott, as he did with Phil Jagielka at Everton, flourishes in a stable partnership and is diminished by Kompany's absence.

It makes January a crucial month, with a visit to Wigan next Monday followed by an increasingly important meeting with Tottenham at home. The shadow of Spurs is on City's shoulder, with one City fan immediately setting aside his disappointment at the defeat by Liverpool to ask how Harry Redknapp's side, who must be taken as serious Premier League title contenders, had fared against Everton.

City are hardly at crisis point. They were also missing the brilliant David Silva through injury, while Mario Balotelli was having a real 'nightmario' before hobbling off in the first half, but they are having a little wobble.

Mancini has the talent within his squad and the experience within himself to put it right. He must not, though, become sidetracked by perceived injustices or resort to sowing seeds of doubt about his squad strength.

A few clouds are gathering over City but they hardly constitute a storm and this tie is still open to be contested at Anfield. The argument will be settled there - and Mancini will know Liverpool's captain is in the mood to make it a fight to the finish.

Comments

Page 1 of 8

  • Comment number 1.

    "steeled for title push" 5 mins later "having a wobble" it's just sooooooooooo exciting zzzz

  • Comment number 2.

    Very much a game of 2 halves, Liverpool the better in the first with City better in the 2nd.
    Personally, I was disappointed that right from the beginning of the 2nd half, we [Liverpool] had setup to basically defend all half, but it was a tactical decision we got away with. Still, as they say, if you don't play well and win, then it can't all be bad! :)

    As for the Johnson tackle that will surely be heavily re-viewed and discussed; it was a 2 footed tackle off the ground. If Kompany's tackle was a red, then I can understand why Johnson should receive a red. However, with all the City fans recently stating the Kompany's tackle wasn't a red, I assume they will all agree that Glen's tackle was fine..!?

    Interested in neutrals thoughts of the game too...

  • Comment number 3.

    on the game itself;

    A Liverpool bored the pants of everyone

    B Carrol would not look out of place at Aintree being whipped and risen hard by
    Red Rum. ( 35million hahaha ) even Newcastle see him as worth only 10 million
    now.

    and as for interpretation of what constitutes a dangerous tackle, now we know, the
    ref has to be reminded by any player from manchester united. Consistency? not a
    hope in hells chance. As I suspected the rules are being made up game by game.

  • Comment number 4.

    it was a " two footed challenge with studs showing " therefore, " dangerous " and warranted a " red card "

  • Comment number 5.

    Johnson should have been sent-off, plain and simple. Mancini has definitely got a point about refereeing inconsistency after that.

  • Comment number 6.

    Man City made 9 tackles against Liverpool last night. Is that a world record low for a top flight match? I would think it is. Looks like City have been warned against competing for the ball following Kompany's red card.

  • Comment number 7.

    As a Liverpool fan I was very disappointed to see how defensive and negative Liverpool had become during the second half, especially when we had 6 defenders on at the same time. That was very unlike Liverpool and only invited City on to us. Nevertheless we have had countless good performances where we have received no rewards, so it was good to get such a great result.

  • Comment number 8.

    Phil - I dont think Mancini was annoyed about Johnson not getting a red card but more due to the lack of consistency by the refs.

    In my view both weren't red cards, clean but hard challenges wee both Kompany and Johnson took the ball.

    I think the media need to stop trying to cause issues (for example BBC trying to instigate cross words between Mancini and Gerrard) and concentrate their powers on the FA to produce clear guidelines which all officials can understand equally.

  • Comment number 9.

    With Gerrard back and firing I see Liverpool having a very strong 2nd half to their season and possibly edging Arsenal and Chelsea out of the top four. Man City definitely struggling with confidence and missing players. Take Kompany, Ya Ya and Silva out the team and inevitably it makes a big difference. Savic is raw and accident prone. Cannot understand why Mancini didn't play Hart against Man Utd in the FA Cup, and he should have subbed him on after Kompany got sent off. The Man City v Spurs game should be very tasty.

  • Comment number 10.

    The two tackles of Kompany and Johnson were quite similar save for the angle that existed in the Johnson one. I would suggest that the chance of a player being hurt was must more present in the Kompany challenge if Nani hadn't jumped out of the way.

    Seems that players should just refrain from leaping with two feet showing studs?

    #stayonyourfeet

  • Comment number 11.

    Great result for Liverpool last night although if i was a City fan i wouldnt start to panic just yet. There is enough strength and depth in that squad to continue to push for the title.

    Andy Carrol....thanks for the 35 million Liverpool

    Shame with Demba Ba out of the picture we are only rolling with Ameobi, Best and Lovenkrands..

    35 million into the Ashley and Lambias casino fund..

  • Comment number 12.

    Johnson went in two footed but the crucial difference is that it wasn't actually a tackle because Lescott wasn't near enough to the ball. If Johnson had gone in two footed on his own in the centre circle with no one within 20 yards would Mancini still try to get him sent off?

  • Comment number 13.

    Oh and by the way Gerrard was good. A leader who lead, that's from a United fan btw... he will get better with more matches. Good for England also.

  • Comment number 14.

    I have been a regular reader, and have often stopped myself from direct comments, but seriously phil, you really need to have a long term view of things, It is as if the writer has serious and repeated bouts of memory loss and schizophrenia. I am sure you do not suffer from either .. From 'men of steel' and a very open critique of Liverpool's 'relative' average form, suddenly the return of Gerrard has them fighting for the title and what not. Seriously, one questions the objectivity here...Too much sensationalism.

  • Comment number 15.

    Nightmario? That's the sound of many an empty barrel being scraped. Or alternatively a job application for the Sun (other tabloids are available).

  • Comment number 16.

    The question is: did Johnson's challenge for the ball endanger Lescott? The only observation I would make is that by the time Johnson had come through and got the ball, it was his backside that clipped Lescott.

    However, taking a strict interpretation of the law, that any two footed challenge in the vicinity of an opposing player is dangerous, then it was a red card.

    That's the grey area, the interpretation of the law as no challenge is exactly the same.

    The other observation I'd have is that I was surprised to see so many empty seats. I don't know whether true City fans are being priced out, but their club can't have played in too many Cup semi-finals in the last twenty odd years.

  • Comment number 17.

    Close game, won by liverpool thanks to the strategic parking of the bus. Was a red card, thanks to the refs making 'a rod for their own backs' for the rest of this season. Far worse challenge than Kompany, surely a 6 game ban in that case??

  • Comment number 18.

    Was a red card. Dangerous tackle. I know Johnson is not a dirty player, he is a good footballing defender, but silly tackle. I think sometimes Refs (wrongly) look at the player commiting the foul and judge on past knowledge. Kompany takes a tougher approach than Johnson generally but both were red cards. Blame the ref and not UTD.

    Gerard was superb in the game. Def the best player EVER not to win a league medal and with him being 32 this year I just can't see Liverpool winning it in the next 3 seasons with or without him. Do you reckon he would fancy a Jan transfer to Utd, we'd offer upwards of £3m. ;)

  • Comment number 19.

    Well done Liverpool. Good to see Gerrard coming back.
    Perfect game plan. After watching Man City beat Villereal 3-0 away I told all my friends that Man City would win the Champions League and Premier League. Ooops.

    (Did we not just have a Man City Liverpool blog last week?)

  • Comment number 20.

    Gerrard wasn't that great apart from the penalty, City just look a really flat team atm. For all the money they've spent the number of players they have of Silva, Kompany's standard etc isn't that high. When you have players like Dzeko these spells are not easy to overcome either.

  • Comment number 21.

    "The shadow of Spurs is on City's shoulder, with one City fan immediately setting aside his disappointment at the defeat by Liverpool to ask how Harry Redknapp's side, who must be taken as serious Premier League title contenders, had fared against Everton."

    Having only just reached the turn, this season is taking on the appearance of a 'steeple chase title race'. The games against Mans City and Utd are, as it were, 'The Chair' and 'Beecher's Brook', but of course there's a host of other daunting hurdles to negotiate. Naturally expectations were raised by Tottenham's win over AC Milan in the CL last year - but we were brought back down to earth in Madrid, and it's more than likely we'll see something similar with this season's title speculation.

  • Comment number 22.

    would steven gerrard have said it was a fair tackle if DeJong had done exactly th esame to him. I thinkn not. Two-footed studs showing is a dangerous and reckless tackle.....it doesn't matter whether you take the man or not.....especially if your mancity and Vincent Kompany....and what about Johnsons professional foul on Adam Johnson that didn't even wearrant a yellow or Gerrard's kick at another city player. The inconsistency of referees interpreting the same set of rules is ruining the game for players and spectators.

  • Comment number 23.

    Disappointed with City last night, can't really argue with the score...For whats it's worth (and I am biased of course) neither were red cards and both proper tackles...but if one's a red and a 4 game ban the other has to be! don't blame johnson/Kompany/Mancini/Gerrard....buck stops with the flimsy and quite frankly useless FA and officials!

    Congrats to pool...but it's only half time.....CTID

  • Comment number 24.

    For the first time this season, City actually have a few of their main backbone players missing (Yaya, Kompany, Silva) and they badly struggled. For the next few
    All the other big teams have had to deal with loss of major personel, especially Arsenal and Man United, so for the next several games, it will remain to be seen if they can cope.


    But aga

  • Comment number 25.

    Liverpool were very professional, City were flat. It was a dreadful game, if you're liverpool you don't care you're in pole position.

    I felt sorry for Carroll, especially in the 2nd half, so isolated.

    I didn't think Kompany should have been sent off, so i don't think Johnson should have been sent off - However as Kompany was sent off and the FA said that was correct, then Johnson's tackle should be looked at again by the FA. I suspect they will hide behind the ref seen it so we can't look at it again.

  • Comment number 26.

    I missed the game last night and so now is the first thing i've heard about the tackle. Just did a quick google search to see what happened.

    What i think is clear- that in relative terms, Kompany's challenge was a worse tackle. The angle of Kompany's challenge was more direct and so the threat of injury to Nani was a greater than that of Johnson.

    However, I would say that Johnson was in less control of his body- and it's clear that both tackles clearly 'used excessive use of force'. If either challenge connected with a standing leg/ankle then there was a very high likelihood of serious injury.


    The point is- both tackles are clearly red card decisions. A straight sending off for 'excessive use of force' exists to protect players from outrageous challenges that can end careers. Though, thankfully in neither instance was a player seriously hurt- anything that protects footballers from the threat of career ending challenges must surely be a good thing.


    As previously mentioned above- #stayonyourfeet.

  • Comment number 27.

    As a netrual I enjoyed watching the match on the beeb, but was disapointed by the effort and application shown by City. Liverpool deserved the win even in the second half when despite possession City lacked any creative instinct! As for the 2 footed "challenge" I did not see it as a foul as the City player was to busy looking into space to even notice the ball was near him and did not try to get the ball - Johnston took it without challenge (I have not seen the incidents with Kompany and Rooney etc so cannot comment on those)

  • Comment number 28.

    #23 Kompany's red was a 3 game ban, an extra game was added because of previou Red early in season. Both feet off ground means you are not in control of tackle. Kompany decision correct, Johnson decision wrong!

  • Comment number 29.

    Might have been refreshing to have a blog on Palace v Cardiff, this game was a bore and this blog will ensure this minor furore over Johnson's tackle will be flogged to death on here. Hardly does himself many favours with boring and often reactionary blogs following every City game, particularly when they do poorly. Phil seems far happier to blog about things that are going wrong. Only too happy to blog about Arsenal and Chelsea when 'in crisis' but virtually nothing on either club since they have improved. Very little on Spurs despite their great season so far and there being much to debate with a very tough run of fixtures approaching, coinciding with 'Arry's court case. Every time City or United drop points the blog the next day is over-analysing it to death.

  • Comment number 30.

    You can tell by Mancini's recent post-match interviews that he's feeling the pressure big time and this is transmitting itself to his players. It was a truly dire game last night however Liverpool fully deserved their win as City only created one decent chance in the entire match.
    Also if City are looking to Nasri to fill the void then they will be left disappointed. He always goes missing in the second half of a season and the last two games for him have been abject. £25 million was great business for Arsenal for a player who always flatters to deceive when the chips are down.

  • Comment number 31.

    Mancini should have been axed after the Champions League debacle, the excuse that it was their first time doesn’t hold up, it was also Napoli’s first Campaign.

    What the Italian is trying to do however, is build a new team to last a 5-6 years. His so called rivals though, Wenger and Fergie, seem to have given up. Re signing Henry and Scholes shows a serious lack of ambition.

    Spurs meanwhile seem to finally have developed a steel to match their legendary flair. Next Sunday is the first real title contest of the season.

    http://wp.me/1qHQT

  • Comment number 32.

    First things first lets get things right. City were not good enough last night to get past the bus, tram and train that Liverpool used last night. It is difficult when a team does not want to pass the half way line but Nasri, Kolorov and Savic are liabilities we could do without. Mancini needs to swallow his pride and pick Onough or Zab.

    1) FA allows Liverpool another 2 days extra rest by letting them play on Friday night when their game is not on tv. They also have another extra days rest for the second leg.

    2) Glen Johnson and Andy Carrol both do two footed lunges which go unpunished

    3) Gerrard and Adam both commit assaults and regular fouls which go unpunished while Barry was sent off for 2 niggly fouls the week before

    If the FA has any credibility left it will go back and suspend Johnson like they did Song for the Barton incident. However I don't think they will as Johnson is Liverpool's only black player and if they play with an all white team after the Suarez thing it will send out the wrong message.

  • Comment number 33.

    Has any other City fan noticed the change in De Jongs committment in games since he has had contractual issues with the club? last night and against United he didn't seem bothered, get rid of Mancini, throw him out of the club he is just after more money the club doesn't matter in his opinion nor do the fans - PATHETIC MAN

  • Comment number 34.

    Liverpool Supporter, have to admit Andy Carroll is not and does not look like he is going to work out. His work rate is not good enough; I would rather see Kuyt on there as he would at least put the effort in and make a telling contribution.
     
    One instance he was a couple of yards away from two city defenders passing to each other he applied np pressure and just stood still, this is not the work ethic I would expect. The man cannot even pass the ball to feet his intended target always needs to stop and back peddle to get his pass.
     
    Torres was not great the last 18 months or so but was still 100% better than Andy.

  • Comment number 35.

    FA is a joke.
    when they upheld the referees red card on Kompany and ban him for four matches they have set out a precedent that Kompany's challenge deemed a red card and an automatic ban.
    If that is the case, then Mancini has every right to enquire as to why Johnson did not get a red card for an exact similar/slightly worse challenge. Since the referee did not show a red card, should the FA now look at this case and ban Johnson for three matches. I think they should. There should be consistency across the board.

  • Comment number 36.

    Phil, I suppose you have forgotten about the goal Andy Carroll scored last Friday in the FA Cup. He had been on the pitch less than 2 minutes when he scored. Give the man a break. His qualities as a team player are there to see. His effort cannot be questioned.
    Also, you have said nothing about the Laser Pen incident when Steve Gerrard was about to take his penalty, why? A laser pen was shined directly on his face as he was about to take the penalty from, I'm assuming a Man City fan. Yet it was missed by yourself and your colleagues on BBC TV.

  • Comment number 37.

    As a neutral I thought that Liverpool played a very good containing game and City lacked the tempo and guile to meaningfully respond. Good HT result for Liverpool and although they looked no more than functional at times, KK must be quietly confident of reaching the final given how well they played against city last time at Anfield.

    Strange to think that if they make it, it will be Liverpool's first appearance at Wembley in 16 odd years. Nice to see the little clubs get a chance at a trophy as well :)

    AC displayed a comic lack of talent at this level and even the commentators were wincing every time the ball came near him. Embarassing to watch. On all the previous evidence, the guy just lacks any pace and technique to cut it outside the penalty box and lacks the finishing inside it as well at the moment. Gary Hooper scored more in the Championship and went to Celtic for 2.5m, while AC put a decent half-season shift in for Newcastle in the EPL and ended up at Liverpool for 35m. On this evidence, AC is just too old-fashioned a striker playing in a sytem that just does not suit the strengths of his game. Not his fault but there you go.

  • Comment number 38.

    Both VK and GJ tackles were red cards, i dont know how the FA can put it into black and white, no 2 footed tackles, no studs showing & do not leave the ground completely when making a tackle. as most of these players are being paid a fortune you'd think they would at least read the rules.

  • Comment number 39.

    As a reds fan (the proper reds not utd), i have sympathy with Kompany's suspension. However, a 2 footed lunge off the ground is a red, and Mancini (who is turning into Mourinho for whinging) can moan as much as he likes. It's still a red.
    As for Johnson's challenge, although not as severe a challenge in my view, it was still a 2 footed lunge off the ground and should have been a red.
    If Mancini wasn't such a moaner about other teams players he could have explained calmly that the lack of consistency with refs is at fault here, not Gerrard, not Johnson and not Liverpool, And not Rooney for "getting Kompany sent off".

    Not sure there can be any retrospective action against Glen either, as the ref saw it and deemed it a fair challenge.

  • Comment number 40.

    The less Mancini talks about the Kompany "tackle" and compares it to real tackles the better for him. Unfortunately for him, the Kompany "tackle" is available on Youtube, in slow motion.

    Kompany was sliding with studs on towards Nani, without control of his feet. He wasn't aiming to hit the ball, as his legs were open, with the intention to stop the ball, no matter what. To stop the ball, he had to close his feet, taking in the way whatever they found. Had Nani not jumped out, who knows what injury he'd have. The Kompany attempt was to stop the ball. It was never a tackle though. Except if he meant to tackle the opponent.

    In comparison, Johnson was aiming at the ball, which he won cleanly. It was a tackle. The only question is whether tackle should be ousted of the game.

    Gerrard was immense last night. He made two mistakes in passes: one on the 71st minute and the other on the 77th, both unimportant. The weight and accuracy of his passing has been missed while he was absent. He was dictating the action whenever Liverpool were attacking dangerously. It makes us wonder what Liverpool could end up to be next season, perhaps with some more quality added and their team jelling better together.

    To me, Manchester City missed Yaya Toure more than David Silva, last night. He's clearly the best midfielder in the Premier League. It's a pity that Nasri is turning to be a quality, peripheral player rather than a key, attacking component in the City engine. It makes us wonder whether he's the third big misfit, after Torres and Carroll.

    All we saw last night is leading towards a fascinating return leg at Anfield. Liverpool won but City have the capacity to overturn the outcome. A mouthwatering match to wait for.

  • Comment number 41.

    Just had a quick look and it seems to be that if anything, Johnson's tackle was worse than Kompany's. Kompany's was a scissor approach if anything and the left leg came into the tackle after the right leg.

    Johnson's appears to be two feet, together studs up aiming for the ball (which he got cleanly you would have to say) and from in the air just the same.

  • Comment number 42.

    Andy Carol - £35m....hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah

    Jordan Henderson - £20m hahahahahahahahahahahahahahah

    Liverpool looked OK last night but i can't get over how much money they wasted when they could be competing for the PL.....

  • Comment number 43.

    Phil's titles are enticing but his articles are an inevitable disappointment. Does he ever tell us anything we didn't know? Nearly all his articles are state the benign obvious. At least we get an opinion from Robbie Savage.

  • Comment number 44.

    Micah Richards was the best player on the park.. so strong and quick and his reading of the game is much better than it was, made some good interceptions and runs forward last night.

    Should be Englands no 1 RB for a while if he continues to play as he is, anyone agree/disagree???

  • Comment number 45.

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

  • Comment number 46.

    Liverpool just about got what they deserved. A Slender 1-0 lead to take back to Anfield. For all the posession Citeh had in the 2nd half we didn't do a lot with it. On another note is it just me or should the Beeb think of getting less biased pundits in when Liverpool are playing? I know Dixon is a blue but he is also a gooner. With Lawrenson and Hansen who are out and out Liverpool fans its a bit of a joke. "So Mark (Lawrenson) do you think the fact that Liverpool played (a weak side) on Friday and City played on Sunday with 10 men for 80 minutes will affect them" to which Lawrenson replies "No, it won't have any bearing" Is this guy for real! As for Hansen going on about how good Liverpool played atleast Shearer was closer to the mark in saying, this is the poorest City performance I have seen all season.

  • Comment number 47.

    For anyone complaining about Johnson's challenge, the only way he could have reached the ball was by diving in. Kompany on the other hand could probably have stayed on his feet and won the ball, but instead dived in with two feet - therefore technically using 'excessive force' which by the letter of the law can warrant a red card.

    There was also little danger to the player in Johnson's case, as the tackle was more of an interception, whereas Kompany challenged Nani head on. I'm sure if Johnson had tackled Lescott in a similar head on fashion the referee would have taken some action - but as it was, it wasn't remotely dangerous.

  • Comment number 48.

    33.At 12:27 12th Jan 2012, ted wrote:
    Has any other City fan noticed the change in De Jongs committment in games since he has had contractual issues with the club? last night and against United he didn't seem bothered, get rid of Mancini, throw him out of the club he is just after more money the club doesn't matter in his opinion nor do the fans - PATHETIC MAN
    ==============================================================
    Fickle mate, same with tevez, if it werent for tevez and De Jong City wouldnt have qualified for the champs league, wouldnt have won the FA cup and wouldnt have attracted as many top players. your club went on a binge for players, the fact you got mercenarys is the clubs fault, before you know it city will have 6-7 players doing the same. this is what happens when all you can use to attract players is money. as Toure once called the club "Money City" with a little smirk after wards.

  • Comment number 49.

    #32 so so wrong in virtually everything you said.

    For example. The reds played on Friday night as the bitter blues across the park were also drawn at home in the cup, and you can't have 4 team's fans in one city (and less than a mile apart) at the same time. Days would be swapped round also if the mancs were drawn home on the same day depsite the bigger distance between stadiums. So its not the FA doing us a favour at all.

  • Comment number 50.

    Liverpool played well, they got a goal and kept a clean sheet. Who cares if they were boring? The game is played over 2 games and now they can go to Anfield and play a more controlled game rather then if they were coming back from a 2-0 deficit.

    Man City are rocking and I think the Tottenham game is going to be crucial. Mancini needs to stop is whining about having unavailable players and not enough depth of squad. Man Utd have 9 first team players out and there doing alright. He shouldn't of bought 11 players for 350m and instead bought 20, its his own doing.

    You cant compare refereeing inconsistency between two different games as its not the same ref, which makes it obsolete. The only time refereeing inconsistency comes into to play when its the same game same ref.

    Stop moaning Mancini.

  • Comment number 51.

    I think Mancini's frustration is increased because the appeal for Kompany's red card was turned down. Inconsistencies in refereeing decisions are always going to happen due to the speed of the game, and the instant need for a real-time decision from the ref. The people who considered the appeal and who had the opportunity to study the TV replays have missed the opportunity to correct the decision. As the BBCTV pundits all seemed to agree last night, the Johnson tackle was worse.

    It is also a test of City's resolve. Last night they were without what appears to be their 3 key players - Kompany & Yaya show mental strength on the field. Others who are all internationals now need to show it.

  • Comment number 52.

    "Lescott, as he did with Phil Jagielka at Everton, flourishes in a stable partnership and is diminished by Kompany's absence."
    -------
    You mean, Lescott only plays ok when he has a decent defender making him look good? So that's what 20m gets you these days??

  • Comment number 53.

    What really shocked me about this game was how insipid City were. Posed no real threat all night, reduced to speculative long range efforts and kolarov pumping crosses into the area hoping dzeko would get on the end of one of them. Aguero and Richards were the only City players even worth mentioning, with no Toure or Silva they looked worryingly lacklustre. Nasri, Dzeko and Milner were all appalling, savic looked a rabbit in the headlights. Adam Johnson got himself into good positions but his final touch was severely lacking, as for Balotelli, the fact he didn't even last 40 minutes says it all!

    Liverpool barely had to step out of second gear. Thought Adam was good, as was Glen Johnson. Considering how much criticism he's taken I also thought henderson fared well, even if his retention was lacking somewhat

    Also, the home crowd last night was truly dire. Couldn't believe the number of empty seats. I've seen better crowds in non league games, the Pool fans got behind their team and it showed, all you could hear all evening was the Pool fans

    Is it too early to be talking of a crisis at City? 4 defeats in 7 games, barring a massive rabbit being pulled out of the hat they're out of 2 cup competitions in as many weeks, their lead over United and even Spurs is not that strong, it'll only take a couple more defeats for them to go behind Spurs

  • Comment number 54.

    #48 King Red

    your club went on a binge for players, the fact you got mercenarys is the clubs fault,
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    On that note, I wonder how many of the players that have been bought since the new owners arrived are still at the club? Of the top of my head, the player turnover has been quite large.

  • Comment number 55.

    I know Henderson cost a fair bit but he is starting to play quite well. If he can learn from Gerrard next to him could in a few years be a really good player and it will be money well spent.

    Andy Carroll - No Comment!!!

  • Comment number 56.

    I just can't understand why players dive in with two feet. It's not a natural way to tackle and you run the risk of being sent off. I feel for Mancini in as much as if the refs need to be consistent. If Kompany's tackle is a red, so must Johnson's be.

    As a Spurs fan, I am loving that the media seems to be obsessed with the old "top four", plus man city, and despite being right up there, people keep questioning if we can challenge for the title. We've played some superb football this season.

    Unlike Man City, if we are missing key players (Parker, King, Sandro, Lennon up until last night) we still perform. Livermore was superb last night. Great to have Dawson back to. Hope Capello picks him.

    Anyone care to venture why the great Capello doesn't pick Richards? better than Glen Johnson for sure.

    COYS

  • Comment number 57.

    Why are you talking about the "handicap" of Kompany & Yaya - when Liverpool have to complete without Suarez for a 3rd of the season and Lucas (the best holding midfield in Europe) for the best part of an entire season ?? ?? ?

  • Comment number 58.

    I didn’t think Kompany’s tackle was a red card and I don’t think Johnson’s was either – it was two footed by but both feet were on the ball before Lescott got there. I agree there needs to be consistency but I don’t understand the logic of people who say that Kompany didn’t deserve a red but because he got one Johnson should have too – two wrongs don’t make a right. It is the hypocrisy of Mancini that gets me though – two weeks ago he is running down the line waving his imaginary red card (you don’t like to see players doing this but managers absolutely should know better) trying to get Skrtel sent off for a challenge that replays show there was no contact there, then spends the last 15 minutes haranguing the 4th official for Skrtel not being sent off while his team are already 3-0 up and coasting to a win. He then complains about Rooney allegedly trying to get Kompany sent off and then a few days later does exactly the same with Johnson. Hypocrite.

  • Comment number 59.

    #53 Terry and Lampard-true Blues brothers

    Is it too early to be talking of a crisis at City? 4 defeats in 7 games, barring a massive rabbit being pulled out of the hat they're out of 2 cup competitions in as many weeks, their lead over United and even Spurs is not that strong, it'll only take a couple more defeats for them to go behind Spurs
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Of course it's too early. They are still top and this could prove to be their blip rather than the rot setting in.

    Many teams have gone to Anfield this season and got something out of the game.

    Also, you do seem to be assuming that Spurs will carry on winning which is no more a foregone conclusion that Man City continuing to lose.

  • Comment number 60.

    Agree with 52 eduard_streltsov_ghost

    Lescott isnt up to it. As a young player (Savic) you would want the experienced pro to take responsibility.

    Unfortuantely he didnt and just hangs around deep in the left centre half position not really doing much.

    @8 also agreed dont think he wanted Johnson off, more frustrated at inconsistency

  • Comment number 61.

    Johnson's challenge was defo a red. Once he left the floor with both feet he wasn't in control. You can see the way Lescott's leg twists that he was lucky he didn't get there a fraction earlier. Gerrrard should wind his neck in - he's no stranger to putting in challenges like that. You could tell it was a bad tackle by Kenny's post match reaction - "I didn't see it"

  • Comment number 62.

    Good win for liverpool despite playing with 10 men.

    Surely the myth that city "have strength in depth" has been summarily dispelled with two crushing defeats at the wastelands?

    My prediction, another 100m january transfer splurge to add "needed" reinforcements to the weak squad.

  • Comment number 63.

    Liverpool were good value in the 1st half but I have no idea what Kenny was doing with the defensive subs. Johnson had no idea where he was meant to be when Downing came off, I thought Kenny might have got daring and played Johnson right wing but seemed to have resumed a sweeper role..odd!

  • Comment number 64.

    57.At 12:43 12th Jan 2012, __LFC__returns wrote:
    Why are you talking about the "handicap" of Kompany & Yaya - when Liverpool have to complete without Suarez for a 3rd of the season and Lucas (the best holding midfield in Europe) for the best part of an entire season ?? ?? ?


    You've not mentioned having to play Carroll. Biggest handicap of all.

  • Comment number 65.

    Carroll was over-priced but we got him +£15M for an under-performing Torres who didn't want to play for us anymore................. and look what he's achieved in his last 12 months!!

    On the 2 footed tackle issue, Kompany wouldn't have got sent off if Rooney hadn't gone screaming to the ref, he'd won the ball, was back on his feet and was away before the whistle went.......... Rooney's actions were very much in the ilk of C Ronaldo against England!

    The 2 Mancs need to watch out for Spurs, in my opinion as a Liverpool fan, they are the real contenders this year!

  • Comment number 66.

    60.At 12:46 12th Jan 2012, averageBBC_journalist wrote:
    _____________

    Yeah he had a good season at everton (where jagielka carried him) and got his big money move, and has been carried by kompany, but looks average when kompany isn't around.

    It's funny how poor man city look without toure, kompany and silva. Devoid of ideas up front, unimposing in the middle, and leaky at the back.

  • Comment number 67.

    33.At 12:27 12th Jan 2012, ted wrote:
    Has any other City fan noticed the change in De Jongs committment in games since he has had contractual issues with the club? last night and against United he didn't seem bothered, get rid of Mancini, throw him out of the club he is just after more
    ------------------------

    De Jong is very limited & lack athletic ability or skills that are reguire for a central midfielder in the class of Yaya, Silva or Nasri.

    Thats very evident for the last 2 or three seasons. Its just that a number of City fans overlooked that part of the game because they are enamoured with his 'destroyer & snarling demeanour' and tackles.

    Sorry to say ever since inserting him in the starting lineup City (and including the other midfielders Nasri, Silva, Barry, Milner) has gone off the boil. With losses at Sunderland & to United & Liverpool at home.

    City doesn't need a holding midfielder (especially one who is limited in passing & dribbling or scoring abilities) especially when the opponents are parking their ocean liner or cruise ship.

    Mancini needs to wake up to realize that or else he will emulate his predecessor's performance ( 7 draws that led to his firing) .

    So do you think DJ is worth giving a new contract with an increase in his wages?

  • Comment number 68.

    54.At 12:43 12th Jan 2012, MrBlueBurns wrote:
    #48 King Red

    your club went on a binge for players, the fact you got mercenarys is the clubs fault,
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    On that note, I wonder how many of the players that have been bought since the new owners arrived are still at the club? Of the top of my head, the player turnover has been quite large.

    ==================================
    too many loans, and as someone said above why spend £350m on 19 players when he caould have got 30. its down to wanting too much too quick. just m opinion.

  • Comment number 69.

    Phil -IMO Liverpool made the same mistake last night as United did on Saturday, they took their 'foot of the gas' at half time and in so doing (in both games) let City back into it. Make no mistake when City have their best team out they are still the favourites for any domestic competition this season, but with 3 out of their 4 best players missing last night, Kompany, Toure and Silva they looked an ordinary side. If their fourth best player (Hart) had also been missing last night, Liverpool would have been taking back at least a 2, possibly a 3 goal lead to Anfield in a fortnight!

  • Comment number 70.

    64. At 12:49 12th Jan 2012, Born_Again wrote:
    57.At 12:43 12th Jan 2012, __LFC__returns wrote:
    Why are you talking about the "handicap" of Kompany & Yaya - when Liverpool have to complete without Suarez for a 3rd of the season and Lucas (the best holding midfield in Europe) for the best part of an entire season ?? ?? ?

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

    HAHAHAHA he's pretty good and had a good start to the season....best in Europe? Brilliant!

  • Comment number 71.

    Watched the game last night and Liverpool did look good. But one thing that's not changing is the fact that Andy Carroll is a donkey in disguise. He's got no first touch, no positional awareness and horrible finishing ability with his feet.

    At Newcastle, most of his goals were scrappy, or headers. Liverpool like to play football to create chances, such as the chance they created for Carroll in the first half last night. He can't finish those, he doesn't fit in to their style of football.

    A better bet would have been Shane Long. Faster, better finisher, better positional play, harder to mark, equally as good in the air and £30m less.

  • Comment number 72.

    To add as others have already commented, Mr. Contradiction, step up Roberto Mancini!

    Critiscises rooney for "getting kompany sent off", whilst three days earlier he was running up and down the touchline waving an imaginary card, asking for skrtel to be sent off.

    Now he complains that johnson was not sent off for a tackle, but kompany was!

    The only way the guy won't complain is if city were declared champions of the world.

  • Comment number 73.

    70.At 12:52 12th Jan 2012, swindonbluearmy wrote:

    Laugh all you want, but at the moment the only people better are Busquetes, Alonso and Mohammed Diame.

  • Comment number 74.

    Now before I start both are red card challenges (Kompany and Johnson). But I find it hilarious that one week Mancini is trying to advocate a two footed challenge, yet the next week he is saying it should be a red. Now I know he is moaning about the incosistency and I agree but in my opinion it serves him right for trying to defend Kompanys tackle. The ref probably thought "well Mancini thinks these challenges are fair so if I let this go then he won't mind".

  • Comment number 75.

    The match - dull

    Liverpool's tactics - tedious 1980s style euro away approach, except without the 500 back-passes

    The tackle - two-footed jump tackle, red card

    Mancini - feeling it

    City's strength in depth - er, no.

    City's form - funny

    Gerrard's return - very impressive

  • Comment number 76.

    I have some sympathy also for the Spurs ,

    joint second in the PL and still no one wants to talk about them

    :) carry on singing songs i suppose.

  • Comment number 77.

    I'm sure i can't be the first to say this, but does Andy Carroll remind anyone else of Mark Hateley?

  • Comment number 78.

    @65 - sorry, I don't buy that Carroll/Torres rubbish and I'm a Liverpool fan.
    Torres was probably worth £40-£45m as he is a proven striker (put Rafa in charge of chelsea and Torres will be scoring for fun).
    Carroll on the other hand is a terrible buy at £35m, £10m maybe but £35m...really? The issue I have with Carrol is that he is slow and is only a good player when the box is bombarded with crosses, do i want to see my team play like that..hell NO.

  • Comment number 79.

    @ 29 Northbank.

    Agreed. While I don't mind a blog on a game Liverpool beating City, it would be interesting (not to mention refreshing) for a blog on the other League Cup Semi Final!
    Still, there's about a much chance of that as Liverpool winning the Prem Title this season!!

  • Comment number 80.

    #68 King Red

    too many loans, and as someone said above why spend £350m on 19 players when he caould have got 30. its down to wanting too much too quick. just m opinion.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I've often pondered what I would do in that situation. And, you know what, I really struggle to come to the conclusion that I would do it much differently in terms of wanting it all quickly.

    If you have the money, enjoy football, and recognise that you only have one life, why wait?

    Money and competition in football is so skewed anyway, the 'game' doesn't play fair, so why should you?

  • Comment number 81.

    HAHA CharadeYouAre, no.76;

    Hushed tones, dear boy, hushed tones.

  • Comment number 82.

    73.At 12:54 12th Jan 2012, Heskeys_wonderful_stepovers wrote:
    70.At 12:52 12th Jan 2012, swindonbluearmy wrote:

    Laugh all you want, but at the moment the only people better are Busquetes, Alonso and Mohammed Diame.

    As he can't walk i'd say i'm better at the moment. But seriously - Tiote? I'd say he's better at the moment.

  • Comment number 83.

    When Johnson tackles Lescott, Barry isn't tight enough to the referee. You can't allow him to just make his decision on what he sees. I also blame the other midfielders letting Barry get isolated. Saying no to one player from 5 yards away is so much easier than saying no to three or four who are in your face. If you look how the "Champions" do it when Kompany tackles Nani the referee is instantly confronted by Rooney, followed by Carrick and then Wellbeck demanding a red card. Being English means you are automatically excused from any xenophobic reactions blaming foreigners for trying to get players booked, so I think City should practice more with Barry, Lescott and Richards sprinting to the referee after tackles. Remember part of it is to deny any part after the match of influencing the referee in order to maintain a charade that referees aren't influenced by certain managers/players and make wrong decisions based purely on what they see (except when they see something that isn't there).

    In all seriousness though it was an awful game. Liverpool looked the most dangerous in the first half but then were happy to smash and grab and just killed the game in the second half by just settling for 1-0. Had it been the other way round no doubt we would be using clichés about the "Italian mindset" of Mancini being defensive but guess we only seem apply comments like that to foreign managers. Still think Silva will make a difference if he is back for the second leg.

  • Comment number 84.

    The game has gone soft, neither tackle was a red card. No where in the rules does it state a 2 footed tackle is a red card offence, it states recklessly dangerous tackles. Johnson and Kompany both won the ball. Man up and referees need to differentiate between a good hard tackle and a recklessly dangerous one, 2 footed or not.

  • Comment number 85.

    @57 __LFC__returns - I was having a bad day and just read your 'Lucas (the best holding midfield in Europe)' comment. I feel so much better now for laughing so much! Thank you! Granted, he has improved over previous seasons but that is bias taken to a whole new level! He is not even the best holding midfield player on merseyside! And no, I am not an Everton fan at all.

  • Comment number 86.

    It is funny how people just look at the result and nothing else.
    I watched both the games and to me Liverpool played better when they lost 3-0. The final pass was missing but the build up was brilliant throughout the game. The difference was that City had the cutting edge in attack and scored from pretty much every chance (or half chance) they had. Liverpool, on the other hand, were wasteful in front of goal.
    Now people are talking about Liverpool winning the cup. Couple of things that we need to remember, the return leg at Anfield when a certain David Silva should play and even if we get passed City, there will be a Championship team waiting for us in the final who will play out of their skin.
    Being favourites never suited LFC. Against West Ham, it was Gerrard that saved us and against Birmingham it was a penalty shoot-out. I seem to remember that Birmingham had the better chances.
    So, feet back on the ground, there is still a lot of work to be done, but taking a 1-0 back to Anfield is a great result. Lets just not get carried away.

  • Comment number 87.

    Possible January Transfer Targets for Man City:

    Thiago Silva - 40m
    Raul Albiol - 10m
    Nenan Subotic - 20m
    Daniele de Rossi - 15m
    Robin Van Persie - 40m
    Ever Banega - 20m

    Or take your pick of any other defenders and midfielders to add to their "strong squad"

  • Comment number 88.

    As a neutral its easy to see why city have found the last two games difficult. Yaya toure has been a driving force for them this season replacing him with de jong/barry is not the same quality. Also liverpool can beat anyone on thier day as they have alot of quality in thier side. The tackle from johnson if thats a red card then football is becoming perfectic.

  • Comment number 89.

    #78 Reinasbaldhead

    A question equal to the price paid, is the timing. Why oh why did Liverpool think that they needed Carroll then? It was always extremely unlikely that he was going to make or break that season for them. He was injured at the time of signing wasn't he?!

  • Comment number 90.

    #47 "For anyone complaining about Johnson's challenge, the only way he could have reached the ball was by diving in. Kompany on the other hand could probably have stayed on his feet and won the ball, but instead dived in with two feet - therefore technically using 'excessive force' which by the letter of the law can warrant a red card."

    "Excessive force" is a misleading phrase because it suggests that otherwise legitimate tackles could be punished for being 'too hard'. This is not really the case, it's basically just a branch of the ban on reckless tackling.
    Contrary to what it suggests, it doesn't really relate to necessity at all: there's no justification for treating two two-footed tackles differently because one could have won the ball in another manner. Johnson's was (arguably) excessive force to use in a tackle full stop because he jumped in with both feet, this is in no way mitigated by the fact it's the only way he could have won the ball.

    The only minor differences in the Kompany and Johnson tackles were circumstantial, they should have been treated equally.

    I'm still not convinced Kompany's was a red but realistically the FA were never going to overturn it, it would be seen as condoning tackling like that which would be wrong.

  • Comment number 91.

    @81

    :)

    actually fella you are in fact doing very well and imo even as a gooner are a serious challenge for the title this season.

  • Comment number 92.

    City started the season on a tear with Club record performance (without DJ starting in most matches, he was also on the bench for the Demolition Derby) with winning and high scoring attacking style of football.

    Obviously what trancends or unshackles the team from previous 2 seasons was the attacking team approach (Barry, Milner, Silva, Nasri & Yaya) without DJ holding or stalling the momentum whenever City goes on the offense.

    This is evident with the high score & at one stage City topping the table by 5 points.

    Ciorrect me if I'm mistaken..

  • Comment number 93.

    Being a Man U fan you'd probably think I would be biased on both Kompanys and Johnsons tackles, fact is I am, but they were both great tackles. You see, I'm a fan of football as well and with the current and ever growing constraints on the game, we are coming very close to see our beloved game become a cat and mouse game of 'tag' with a ball.

    I didn't actually see the Johnson tackle, I turned the game off at the last minute through frustration at Liverpools 6 man defensive tactics, I did see the Kompany challenge though, and the resulting aftermath of both brings about two points in my mind:

    1) It is Man City themselves to blame for the 'injustice' of Johnson not seeing red. You cannot make post-incident statements and not expect them to have an effect. I refer to Kompanys recent statement about how we 'may see an increase in red cards' which is completely subject suggestive. By making such comments he is obviously trying to defend his actions, hurt pride etc etc, but what he did was, if possible, made these decisions even more crucial to the reputation of the referees and the FA. Had he not made the statement as to predict the 'possible' outcome of all referees future decisions, we may well have witnessed Johnson getting a red card.

    2) The rule itself, in my opinion, is very unclear. Yeah ok it says quite 'clearly' that the tackle needs to show aggressive intent but how can this be measured on the action of your legs? I could show you numerous tackles 'one-footed' where a player has intended to hurt the other, and on Sunday you witnessed a challenge with two-feet where the player didn't. So how do measure 'intent'? Do the referees have to start looking at players facial expressions when decide? "That two-footed karate kick can't be a red, he had a smile on his face.." What we're forgetting is that this simply can't be measured, it's 'two-footed and wreckless' or it's 'one-footed and not'. The argument in this case has to be the consistency and there is a simple way that this can be amended, by players playing by the rules. If you know there's a possibility of being sent off, don't go in two-footed, it's really that simple.

  • Comment number 94.

    73.At 12:54 12th Jan 2012, Heskeys_wonderful_stepovers wrote:
    70.At 12:52 12th Jan 2012, swindonbluearmy wrote:

    Laugh all you want, but at the moment the only people better are Busquetes, Alonso and Mohammed Diame.
    _____________
    I almost missed this pearler!! Diame???

    So no Song, Banega, De Rossi, Yaya, Diarra etc

  • Comment number 95.

    89.At 13:00 12th Jan 2012, MrBlueBurns wrote:
    #78 Reinasbaldhead

    A question equal to the price paid, is the timing. Why oh why did Liverpool think that they needed Carroll then? It was always extremely unlikely that he was going to make or break that season for them. He was injured at the time of signing wasn't he?!


    After turning him down for £1m the season before, they thought that if they didn't get him for £35m when they did he would have cost more than C Ronaldo this year. They probably see it as saving themselves £30m.

  • Comment number 96.

    #57 LOL

  • Comment number 97.

    Agaisnt my better judgement i watched that game last night. It was dire and the stadium was as dead as a dodo and with many empty seats. Its time the CC was abandoned before it becomes embarrassing, as the fans are deserting it in droves everywhere. City clearly didnt care too much about it. Liverpool won it as they could hardly help winning it with City being so ordinary, yet had there been no pen, it would have been a drab 0-0 as they were hopeless in attack.Carroll? What ever were they thinking buying that donkey? Gerrard, great? Come off it. He wasnt brillliant, he was average. Hes also as odious and hypocritical as ever John Terry is, though Phil, you will continue to hail him as long as he breathes, gets his kit on and walks over the touchline! Hes a decent Club player and has never been what the media like to imagine him to be i.e 'Roy of the Rovers' mark 2!. Hes also a master 2 footed tackler and likes a good dive here and there.

    Utterly rubbish tie and it shows that with 2 -3 main players missing Man C are going to struggle like any other team would. Mancini shouting to the owners for more cash though might just get him sacked instead if they dont shape up smartish.

  • Comment number 98.

    City need a decent centre back. Savic looked very poor last night. He looks okay with the ball at his feet, but otherwise he doesn't seem up to the standard. Lescott is alright, toure has lost his way. Although I highly doubt that they will spend any money during this window. With the financial fair play rules coming into effect soon and all...
    At least I can take solace in the fact we havent got per mertesacker in defence. A man who has the turning circle of an aircraft carrier...

  • Comment number 99.

    @89
    Liverpool had to buy as Torres jumped ship, however we could have loaned or bought a cheaper option and waited till the summer

  • Comment number 100.

    @95 even!!

 

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