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Was Toure's intervention a telling sign for City?

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Alistair Magowan - BBC Sport | 23:48 UK time, Sunday, 17 April 2011

Defending higher up the pitch is not a new concept by any means but it has become more notable recently because of the way Pep Guardiola's Barcelona side has employed the tactic so effectively.

England boss Fabio Capello adopted a similar ploy in the recent Euro 2012 qualifying victory over Wales after making his players watch videos of the La Liga champions.

And in a season where his team has been criticised for being too passive, Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini used the tactic to great effect as his side recorded a surprise FA Cup semi-final win over Manchester United on Saturday.

The winning goal, superbly taken by City's Yaya Toure, was a case in point. The Ivorian intercepted Michael Carrick's pass outside the box before rounding Nemanja Vidic and slotting the ball past Edwin van der Sar on 52 minutes.

Carrick has been roundly condemned for his ill-judged pass in the build-up to the goal but credit should also go to man-of-the-match Toure, who nipped in to pinch the ball before it reached Paul Scholes.

Former Barcelona midfielder Toure had grown frustrated with a lack of appearances under Guardiola but he spearheaded City's five-man midfield at Wembley, proving he is much more than a defensive midfielder.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was aware of Toure's threat before the game as he employed a 4-5-1 formation against City, with Park Ji-Sung operating ahead of Carrick and Scholes in the midfield.

And it appeared to be the right move as United dominated the early exchanges and created two clear goalscoring opportunities, both spurned by Dimitar Berbatov.

But then City started to press their opponents higher up the pitch and, similar to the Liverpool side which beat United at Anfield recently, the Eastlands outfit began finding gaps between their opponent's deeper central midfield pairing.

"Maybe we had some fear in the first 20-25 minutes," said Mancini after the 1-0 success. "In the last 10-15 minutes of the first half, we started to play high, we started to press. In the second half, we dominated the game."

The resurgence was epitomised by Gareth Barry, who, along with Nigel de Jong, was the most successful tackler in the City midfield.

As for Toure, his involvement increased dramatically after the half-time interval. The number of times he touched the ball went up markedly, backing up City keeper Joe Hart's claim that the Ivorian was "fired up" and desperate to get a grip on the game.

Yaya Toure's increased touches in the second half included the interception for the winning goal

Perhaps more telling was the number of interceptions made by City. In the first half, they managed eight compared to United's two. In the second, they made 16 to United's 10.

Then there was Carrick's passing accuracy. That fell from 92% in the first half to 74% in the second. Was that down to bad decision-making or because City's players were better positioned to pressurise and take advantage?

"Pressing high up the pitch is a risk and reward strategy," says former Arsenal full-back and Match of the Day pundit Lee Dixon.

"If it works - and it is hard work both physically and mentally - then the rewards are big. You obviously win the ball back closer to the opposition's goal and by the fact you press in numbers you normally have more people around the ball, hence more options to attack.

"The down side is that it only needs one person not to be working for it to break down. If this happens then you are very susceptible to a counter attack having gambled with players high up the pitch.

"Barcelona are a good exponent of this method. They press immediately after losing the ball anywhere on the pitch for a few seconds. If they don't win it back then they regroup.

"That said, if you can get through their first wave of pressing then they are, in my opinion, open and vulnerable."

United's cause certainly was not helped by the 73rd-minute dismissal of Scholes for a reckless challenge on Pablo Zabaleta. Ferguson was also without the services of Wayne Rooney, who missed the game because of suspension, although City had to make do without their own talisman, Carlos Tevez.

But are we seeing a subtle change of focus in the evolution of Mancini's team?

City continue to delight and frustrate in equal measure. Sandwiched between the semi-final over United and a 5-0 defeat of Sunderland was an abject loss at Liverpool.

But what do you think? Are City starting to flourish under Mancini? And will the Italian's tactics ensure victory over Stoke City in the FA Cup final?

You can also discuss more tactical issues and suggest future ideas on Twitter

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    City aren't there just yet but improving massively. We'll be a force to reckon with soon. If you are to believe MU fan's it was the FA's fault for banning Rooney and then the "bad pitch" was to blame. (a pitch we both had to play on) Stoke managed to play pretty well on it too! Well done to them. Mancini I think deserves another crack next season. Looking forward to a tough Final...come on CITEH

  • Comment number 2.

    I don't think that City are starting to flourish under Mancini, there is still an awful lot of work to do until they can be considered one of the best teams in England. I think it was just their day, the same as Stoke had against Bolton. Things just went right on the day and congratulations to them both.

    Personally I think Stoke will win the FA Cup. I said before the game yesterday if Stoke beat Bolton they will win the Cup. Their passion and sheer power will defeat City, who will not have quite the same passion from the fans as they did against United. Yes it's their first final in how ever many years, but I think the City players will be too complacent and think it's in the bag after beating United. I hope Stoke win, I'm a big fan of the passion they bring to the Premier League and think they deserve more respect than they are often given.

    Maybe in a couple of years City can include themselves alongside the Arsenal's, Chelsea's and United's if they keep progressing, but I can't see it happening just yet.

  • Comment number 3.

    I think there is no doubt city have improved defensively under RM. Any attack will will need solid foundations. City is a work in progress. I feel the hard work is done. RM will now look to create a fluid attack and once that is combined with a organised defense only then City will be a force to be reckoned with. RM will need time. I hope he is goven that time for city's sake. Just look at Inter Milan under Jose Mourinho, it took the best part of 2-3 years for him to drill that defensive solidity and attacking threat into the team before they were really world class unit.

    A good win nonetheless and I look forward to an interesting final. Stoke are no pushovers. So it will be interesting to see how City deal with them!

  • Comment number 4.

    2)

    I agree to some extent, as a city fan I am concerned that they think it's "job done" but there's plenty of time before the final...If it was tomorrow I think Stoke would turn us over but hopefully the few weeks we have will settle us down and should make for a great final. Who ever wins will have thoroughly deserved it. Like Birmingham in the league cup it will be good for football to have someone outside the "top 4" to win it.

  • Comment number 5.

    "Mancini wins tactical battle"

    This is a joke, City were outplayed for most of the first half, it was only the mistake by Carrick and the goal which gave City impetus (followed by Scholes' studity).

    They were not better tactically, they didn't outplay United, they got lucky and United shot themselves in the foot.

  • Comment number 6.

    4)

    Absolutely, there is still plenty of time for the form of both teams to change and either to gain that bit of consistency they need. For City the focus is on a Champions League place so maybe that will just see them through, but at the same time that push could burn them out just at the wrong moment.

    I completely agree it should make for a great final though.

  • Comment number 7.

    5) did you actually watch the game? granted utd were much better for 20/30 mins and should have scored... but they didn't! city were stronger had more desire and kept better control...and took their chance. put the dummy back in the pram and concentrate on winning the CL for "england" see I may be city but I'd still like utd to win the CL... shame utd fans cant take losing fair and square!

  • Comment number 8.

    I'm a United fan and I can take the loss!

  • Comment number 9.

    8) exactly, gracious and no doubt hoping for the double...which if you can beat Barca (big ask) is more than on... I would love to see you win CL as would cement the PL as the best league by far.

  • Comment number 10.

    I think this blog is completely right first 10-20 minutes Yaya Toure was sitting and not using his pace and power when City over run MU's midfield the whole game changed

  • Comment number 11.

    "Are City starting to flourish under Mancini?" Given the enormous amount of cash he's had to spend you would bloody hope so.
    Personally I would rather see Stoke win the Final. It would be just reward for endevour and team spirt over Man City's attempt to buy trophies.

  • Comment number 12.

    11)
    Yes of course because no united, chelsea and even blackburn have ever spent cash to Win... check out transfer history! what a joke! Rooney, Nani, Berbatov, Forlan, Cantona, Ferdinand.... all cost plenty! Change the record, thats how football works and always has done.... Real Madrid, Barca, Inter???? all spent millions!

  • Comment number 13.

    9)

    It's such a shame that more football fans are not like yourself. Much like you I will always want the English teams to win the European Competitions, regardless of any rivalry between the club I support and themselves. Obviously I'd prefer Man United to win it rather than any of the others, but if they get knocked out I will hope another goes on to win it.

  • Comment number 14.

    13)

    You've hit the nail on the head. I'm a City fan first then an England fan...then an "English football" fan!

  • Comment number 15.

    Ferguson got his tactics badly wrong. Having reaped the rewards of brave line ups against Chelsea and brave subs in putting Giggs and Valencia at full back recently he errored in putting Berbatov up front alone. Hernandez is excellent at pushing teams back and creating space. You can see the logic of trying to match up in midfield against a team like Arsenal who are very fast at knocking it around in midfield but against City you've got big strong players so no 3 that Fergie could have mustered could have matched that. In that case put the full backs and Lescott under more pressure by playing 2 up. The selection of Park through the middle was also inappropriate. It was poor as were his changes in keeping 1 up when Scholes went off and then bringing a full back on for a full back instead of Owen.

    Valencia Carrick Anderson Nani
    Berbatov Hernandez

    should have been the starting front 6 and was Ferdinand really on the ball after the round trip he made. Smalling was great against City at OT and there was no need to make Rio return, he could have stayed with his kid and rested up for the next home game.

  • Comment number 16.

    I feel the BBC should add some more Manchester City blogs, I dont think there are enough at the moment

  • Comment number 17.

    No Rooney, no Chicarito. City weren't exactly playing against our actual team. And with the Prem and CL still going for us why would we put as much effort or focus into a domestic cup? Even still, Berba should have has us two up and City were very lucky with getting the rub of the green on a few occasions.

    Enjoy your fa cup final, we'll be busy winning the Prem+CL (the double for real teams)

    Enjoy the Michael Mouse trophy cup final!

  • Comment number 18.

    17) Your about to become the most successful team in British Football History... Why so bitter? If it wasn't your "actual team" he presumably put out that team because he though city would roll over and have their bellies tickled... grave error and one of arrogance. No doubt Fergie is amazing but think he was a bit to big for his boots. Good luck in PL and CL .... from a non bitter City Fan ;)

    FA Cup - Michael Mouse? have you been living under a rock for your entire life. It's only micky mouse because your out of it

  • Comment number 19.

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

  • Comment number 20.

    Congratulations to City, a well deserved victory but I'll be rooting for Stoke in the final!
    Just wanted to say I think next seasons Premier League is going to be the closest one in a long time when you consider the teams:
    Manchester Utd: Looking weak in MF at the moment (overrun by City) but surely Fergie will strengthen it over Summer?
    Manchester City: Sure to spend big again, bring in some composure, maybe another CF to replace Bibotelli (who I can't see making it in the PL) A force to be reckoned with if it all comes together
    Arsenal: Only a good GK away from being the finished product IMO
    Chelsea: Like City, are sure to spend big to replace some of the older members in their squad. Torres WILL come good, he is too quality not too, just look at Rooney the last month compared to 3months ago.
    Liverpool: Starting to look very decent and could have been up their this year if it weren't for the players not playing for Hodgson. Suarez looks like a quality player, unsure about Carroll (not seen enough Lpool games to comment)
    Spurs: Won't make the CL this season, and although I doubt they will lose the likes of Bale & Modric, I don't see them reproducing the heights of the last two seasons. That said they will cause some upsets in the games against the top teams chasing the league.
    No order to the above, just typed as they came to me. + Come on Utd, lets get the 19th!

  • Comment number 21.

    Yes of course, thats why utd are how much in debt? Look im not bitter and am happy for utd because it's good for the reputation of english football having such great clubs that win. I am merely disappointed that they cant take losing. Excellent winners but terrible losers. I genuinely would like to see them win the CL... although my head tells me Barca are just way too good (not just for utd but for anyone)

  • Comment number 22.

    Regardless of any mitigation that may be offered up the simple fact is that aside from the first half an hour, when Carrick and Scholes ruled midfield and Toure was quiet, City outplayed United for most of this game. The simple fact is that City looked more like a team than United did in the second half, this is probably the first time City have played like a team this season.

    I hope Stoke win it now though as the difference in being a big spender is that United have only spent money they have earned by being successful, whereas City were relegation fodder before the huge injection of cash.

    Good luck to Stoke and Tottenham on their pursuit of 4th place.

  • Comment number 23.

    Alistair Magowan is spot on.
    I will never be short of praise for Yaya Toure.

    He can play as a defensive or creative midfielder, even as a central defender if required.

    He has the Scholes or Sneijder pass, the Scholes shot, the (young) Viera influence in midfield, the stealing of the ball.

    While he looks casual at times, he'll surprise you with the acceleration he has for the well built body structure and the speed he has when running.

    I don't know how important is his calmness and level headedness but he has it in abundance and he's always there when you need a clear head in the team.

    It's more players like him City need in order to become a title hunting force from a top four position acquiring team.

  • Comment number 24.

    @21, United never plunged themselves into debt by buying a player, the debt came from the Glazers saddling the cost of acquiring the club on the club which seems odd that you can do that to me.

    If you read into it, you'll find that our debt is not considered a problem according to the UEFA laws coming in 2013 that may see your club and Chelsea thrown out of the Champions League. It'll be interesting to see what happens over the next season or two.

  • Comment number 25.



    Yes of course, thats why utd are how much in debt? Look im not bitter and am happy for utd because it's good for the reputation of english football having such great clubs that win. I am merely disappointed that they cant take losing. Excellent winners but terrible losers. I genuinely would like to see them win the CL... although my head tells me Barca are just way too good (not just for utd but for anyone)
    ------------------------
    United's debt is the money the Glazers borrowed to take over the club, which they have then offloaded onto the club's books. The club itself is still turning over operating profits of 100m+, and is well within the new financial fair play rules from UEFA(something City are not, so goodbye CL after next season for you, if you make it that far)

  • Comment number 26.

    @24 ... I'm agreed there! You will note in my prev post that i constantly praise utd because they are an excellent outfit. I too am concerned about the ruling and would hope that we don't "splash out" anymore as it will have massive ramifications! I'm simply stating and fighting the corner of city as we get abuse for being "rubbish" for many years (cant argue there) and when we finally get better (cash or not) we get more abuse for buying success... note we haven't actually had ANY yet. All clubs regardless of when and how the money came in win by spending big money on quality players. I dont think you can blame our owners for spending the moeny... the £200 million or so is pocket change to these super rich oil people and any club in the same position would do exactly the same!

  • Comment number 27.

    I don't know who will win the final but I can guess one thing: whoever wins it, their fans will shed tears in the eyes. It's been a long, long wait for Man City while it would be the first time for the Potters.

  • Comment number 28.

    City played well and deserved their win. I would agree that if City are to continue progressing they need to adopt the defending-high-up-the-pitch tactic on a regular basis.

    That said, I thought at the begining of the game that United's midfield three of Scholes, Carrick and Park looked a bit lightweight against Toure, Barry and De Jong. Think Anderson should have been on from the start from a United perspective. Also, Hernandez would undoubtedly have caused City's defence more problems, particularly running in behind City's high line.

    Disclaimer: I'm not trying to say United would definately have won if these players had started; City played brilliantly on the day and may still have had too much.

  • Comment number 29.

    Nice blog, well done City.

    I wonder if those "Utd" fans claiming the FA Cup is mickey mouse have ever been outside London...?

  • Comment number 30.

    united fans are once again, cementing their title ... as the sorest losers in england.

    but then, i'm sure a lot of you made quite a long trip from chiswick to wembley.

    as the blog said, you midfield was over run, by a team that emulated barcelona. the best player in city team was a barca cast off.

    good luck in the champions league with the likes of carrick and fletcher, you're going to be torn apart.....

    should you beat shalke.

  • Comment number 31.

    Some teams do not possess the strength and aerial ability to deal with stoke, but fortunately for City they are not one of them.

    2 giant DMs will help them out play Stoke in the midfield and they will hopefully win the final as i can't stand watching Stoke play long ball.

  • Comment number 32.

    @29
    I wonder if those "Utd" fans claiming the FA Cup is mickey mouse have ever been outside London...?

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

    They are only saying this because they lost. If they won they'd be all singing about the Treble and not venting their anger at City for spending loans of cash. Fact is best team on the day won and thats the end of it.

  • Comment number 33.

    Barcelona, incidentally, do NOT press the ball. They press space and track the player to force errors which lead to regaining possession. It's a much more effective method of winning the ball and one which I've been advocating in conversations on football tactics for about 15 years now, since discovering at about, I dunno, 8 years of age that the easiest way to win the ball is to refuse to put in a tackle until absolutely necessary.

    Anyway, on the game. United played poorly from the very start, in my opinion; while we had two early chances, they were only due to quick flashes of good play - they had nothing to do with the play around them, as it were. They were disconnected and divorced from the natural flow of United's play.

    Neither side I feel played particularly well. City's movement was, as it has been all season, ludicrously rigid. Mancini really must learn that while that rigidity is admirable in defence, it will win you nothing in terms of attacking in the Premier League. If City are to progress, they need to adopt a more fluid attacking style of play - something they'll struggle to do while Mancini clings to the security blanket of effectively playing two holding midfielders.

    Let's be honest: City won the game because a jittery Carrick gave the ball away shortly after an error from the usually utterly stable Van der Sar - the latter, I believe, quite noticeably originating with the former.

    If that hadn't occurred, I do not believe they would have managed to score even in extra time. I also think that apart from the two early chances, United showed little sign of scoring either.

    The reasons on the red side were even more glaringly obvious; we're very dependent on overlapping pace down the flanks and through the channels in attack, and we had none of that against City. Evra for some reason was disinclined to get forward, with several passes-to-nowhere being caused by his not making runs he usually would. O'Shea just doesn't have the pace to play as an attacking fullback - and even when he does manage to get forwards, he takes too long to make decisions for the vast majority of the time, slowing the play down significantly.

    Without this ability for United to keep the play spread (which always leads to dangerous counter-attacking opportunities if nothing else), City were able to squeeze the play largely into the middle of the park, where an ineffective Paul Scholes was frustrated to the point of a silly, lunging tackle. Park was too diminutive to cope with either Toure or Barry, meaning there was no real viable route forwards for United at all.

    Utter stalemate, all in all, with City quite lucky to come away with a win in normal time - not because their play was poor, but because they really created nothing threatening enough on their own merit... despite trying much harder to do so after they got their goal.



  • Comment number 34.

    Incidentally, I don't care how City earn success, should they do so, and I'm also entirely un-sore over the FA Cup defeat. One swallow doesn't make a summer (or a girlfriend).

  • Comment number 35.

    #32

    There were two teams playing against each other. So if one team was better they are known as the BETTER team NOT the BEST team.

    People are always making that mistake on these blogs, really starting to grind my gears.

    And for the record it's

    1. Champion's League
    2. Premiership
    3. Fa Cup
    4. Carling Cup
    5. Community Shield

    FACT!

  • Comment number 36.

    It amuses me when I read the silly comments from Man Utd fans trying to devalue Man City's tremendous victory over their beloved team.They really make themselves look very bitter and jealous football fans but in truth thats what Mufc are all about anyway.

  • Comment number 37.

    @35 Whats your point? I think as football fans we are all aware of which competition is which.

    And they were the BEST team on the day or BETTER or BESTEST!

    I've tried to be diplomatic and even praised MU on prev posts but getting bored now as clearly utd fans cant accept defeat

    CITY 1 - 0 UNITED ....... FACT ;)

  • Comment number 38.

    @35

    Also I don't think you'll find a city fan in the land that claim to be better than man u!
    Perhaps try consulting an English dictionary...I think you'll find both terms are acceptable

  • Comment number 39.

    Man City deserved to win that game, apart from the first 25mins United wernt the team we are used to seeing.
    think its time for Fergie to stop holding onto players like Scholes who have clearly lost it, Gary Neville finally admitted it earlier in the year.

    Next season we will see City reach the heights of what that squad is capable off.
    if Mancini is given the time he will get the most out of that group of players.

    and with everything that is said of Mario Balotelli he is pure class. He might not be the easiest player to manage but next season he will shine, i feel Mancini should play him up top with Tevez and Silva just behind, personally the best Attack in the Prem. with the attacking full backs city have width should not be a problem.

    As for united, they will only win the League, the CL is Barcelona's for the taking.
    in the summer fergie will have to spend to even think about holding onto the title. personally i feel its time for the special one to take over at Old Trafford.

  • Comment number 40.

    @39

    Think Tevez will stay? I'm not convinced!

  • Comment number 41.

    @39

    Sod the "special one", I want Guardiola after Fergie!

  • Comment number 42.

    The margins were fine and I think you're reading way too much into a few cherry-picked stats. It was one game, one win.

    1-0 is the only statistic that really matters and that single goal was due to an error and a smart finish.

    Mancini didn't have 'road to Damascus' moment and this game won't herald any great change in his approach.

    I should point out that there are such things as 'bad winners' as well though, at least the losers have a reason for being bitter.

  • Comment number 43.

    It was gutting, absolutely gutting, but a merited win for City. After the two chances for Berbatov (the first was an outstanding save, fair play, but the second? Goodness me), City were excellent. They have a very good team.

  • Comment number 44.

    @ 30, Torres Is a Blue,

    you started it perfectly, you know.
    "united fans are once again, cementing their title ... "
    :)

    We lost the F.A. Cup semi final fair and square. But this was Saturday.
    Sunday evening showed Manchester United cementing their title hunt indeed.

    United will use this lost semi final as a complacency note, with regard to another, more important semi final in Champions League against Schalke 04. We've already lost once against a similar German side in the past. Personally, I would love it if SAF makes an additional note, writing "players are needed to improve the team".

    The fact, though, is United's interests have moved on when the next day's sunset came about. It's not our fault that everybody tries to keep dragging us back to Saturday.

    I can make an assumption you're a Chelsea fan, from your nickname. On Wednesday, you might find your own club having moved on to the second place in the Premiership. Shouldn't you move on, too? :)

  • Comment number 45.

    Tevez will stay, i cant see him going anywhere else.

    also, i know he is a player that loves jisy playing football but the amount of money he will be getting at city will help make his mind up.

    City should have never signed Dzeko, they should bring Adebayor back. if Real want to sign him, Mancini should try and get Higuian in a swap deal.

  • Comment number 46.

    I'm worried about Stokes ability to cause mayhem in the opposition box from throw-ins and corners especially with City's zonal defence system.

    I don't think City will rest on their laurels however and I think the master tactician Bobby Mancini will come up with the perfect plan to deliver Eastlands with their first piece of silverware in over three decades.

    To the bitter Utd fans... HA HA HA! My God, I enjoyed this win. We could have scored three more too. I'm still grinning from ear to ear. We will be taking your PL crown next season too, mark my words.

    @33, ever thought about the reasons WHY VanderSaar and Carrick made mistakes? It's called "pressing"... we absolutely OWNED that Utd team for 70 minutes on Saturday. Kompany and deJong had your little wimpy players in their back pockets.

  • Comment number 47.

    Adebayor is world class 5% of the time the other 95% is is terrible... Dzeko will improve and score goals I'm sure! Happy with striking options if Tev stays!

  • Comment number 48.

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

  • Comment number 49.

    @48

    Agreed there! Where's Tevez on that list haha? Ok he misses too... but cheaper than berbarubbish so good bit of business by city there

  • Comment number 50.

    @47 would you play Dzeko tho? if so who infront of, would you leave Balotelli out?

  • Comment number 51.

    @50 I would play silva in "le hole" and Tev and Super Mario up front! He get's so much bad press and his skill and finishing ability is completely overlooked. Not being a UTD lover but Rooney get's loads of abuse for being this that and the other but let's his footy do the talking. Mario need's time and to grow up a bit.... he'll get there. Dzeko may prove me wrong next season and i hope he does... all title winning teams need quality subs and if we're to ever win it we will too! look at united...chelsea... all have world class subs!

  • Comment number 52.

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

  • Comment number 53.

    # 33 press the space and track the player... they zero completely in on the player who receives the ball.. Dont see the need in trying to differentiate.. they press enormously to win the ball back and everytime I have seen them this usually entails them swarming on the player who has just got the ball back..

    Good win for City.. nothing more.. Man Utd didnt have the right midfield for me and paid for it..

  • Comment number 54.

    Tevez will be gone this Summer...GUARANTEED. The little troll couldn't even have bothered going to the game, as our captain. Good riddance. i'm sure his treatment in Italy could have been postponed for a day. It probably suited him anyway, get a look at the first draft of his Inter Milan contract :)

    Vinny is our captain fantastic and he can speak English too (something I assume would help matters when trying to motivate your team!).

    Utd fans, I'll tell you precisely where Sir Purple Nose went wrong on Saturday and it was nothing to do with Hernandez etc... It was Ryan Giggs. He is on FIRE, single-handedly winning games for you boys yet Funguson decides to rest him entirely. BIG mistake. When I heard that on Saturday, the chances I gave City to win went from about 10% to 30%. Truth.

  • Comment number 55.

    Tevez will almost certainly leave, he has been unhappy living in England for while and with Inter seemingly desperate to buy him I can't see him lasting. Was it not so long ago he handed in a transfer request? As for your other attacking options there arn't many Bibotelli is not a team player and never will be, and Dzeko was good before he cam to City, so no doubt they will work there magic and ruin him. Like Adebayor and Robinho, both who have scored plenty before and after playing at City.

    As for the next manager of United it will never be the special one, he doesn't fit into our style of play. I think Steve Bruce, or Guardiola both have a much better chance. Especially Bruce who is a die hard united fan and was doing very well with sunderland up until recently.

  • Comment number 56.

    Giggs has been the difference! Truly world class... and thats from a city fan! We'll done that Man... Shame he's a taff tho

  • Comment number 57.

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

  • Comment number 58.

    Giggs seems to be the only player who can drag United up into the standards of play they are capable of, and without him they look leaderless and run out of ideas. Fergie's main task will be to find a suitable replacement and strengthen our woeful midfield. Perhaps Bale if Tottenham do not make the CL.

  • Comment number 59.

    @55 Could you talk any more tripe? get a grip!

  • Comment number 60.

    Ok well done Man citeh
    But im soo shocked that people forget that our big game player was missing no not Rooney but mr Fletcher!!!He is so vital for us in the big games as he is our only midfielder who can go head to head with the likes of Essien/Toure. Fletch is like Kuyt for Liverpool and both are hugley underated!Last season agaisnt Citeh im sure a certain mr Flecth scored twice and dominated thier midfield in the two games at OT!
    also @12
    http://www.transferleague.co.uk/league-tables/1992-to-2011.html
    please feel free to see since the inception of the prem four teams have spent more than us but failed to dominate/win league titles over the decades!
    We United have earned the money we spend by winning trophies!The first season in the prem have a look at what united spent and then look at thier netspend!
    We didnt get sugar daddies to bankroll us and even then we have blood many quality youngsters that have become world class stars!

  • Comment number 61.

    Jose would make United play his style of football and make them a team that other fans actually enjoy watching. instead of what they are now.



  • Comment number 62.

    City played to their strenghts and were for the second half at their best. As a United supporter I feared for us from the start. Wembley is too big a pitch for Berba to be a lone striker. He is blessed with many things, but pace isn't one of them. I would have left Valencia on the bench and started with either Hernandez or Owen with Berba.

    Saying that two wonderful Berba chances went begging early on. Carrick "set up" was terrible and I think Paul Scholes red may have signalled the end of another great career. Only Giggs remains now.

    Well done City, you had your day, but as a United supporter, COME ON STOKE!

  • Comment number 63.

    @59 Would you not agree that Adebayor and Robinho have gone on to be far more successful at Real and AC respectively?

  • Comment number 64.

    @61 I don't think that any neutral fan enjoyed watching Jose's style of football when he was at Chelsea. Winning every game 1-0

    And United, when they turn up, are one of the best teams to watch, naming their comeback at West Ham and sheer dominance over both Birmingham and Blackburn.

  • Comment number 65.

    Although Balotelli was unwise in his actions after the match, at least he stopped short of stupid. Had Rooney done likewise recently he would have been taking part rather than spectating. Also, it is not desirable to have your manager confined to the stands for any match - let alone an FA Cup semi final against your city rivals. Again, had the manager been more thoughtful this would not have been the case. My point is that United disadvantaged themselves needlessly prior to the match so that arguments revolving around who had the best mid-field are rendered somewhat pointless. While it is true that United edged the posession in the first half, they neglected to acheive the objective because for all the posession in the world, you still have to put the ball in the net. My feelings are that their second half performance has been on the cards for a while now. Also, in terms of their other two trophy opportunities, I hope they don't go a goal down in any remaining games because I am not convinced about their ability to respond. Heads went down yesterday after the goal and the reaction of Scholes was merely a reflection of his teams reaction.

  • Comment number 66.

    @63 Yes absolutely but it wasn't because if city it was because of PL (Robinho anyway) He couldn't cope with pace of PL.... as for adebayor a couple of goals is nothing. Arsenal Fans didn;t like his neither do City fans... if he could play as well as he can even 50% of the time he'd be ok. Look at Forlan... rubbish at Man U now one of the best strikers in La Liga! I agree with what you said but it's not because of City it's because they cant cope in the best league in the world.

  • Comment number 67.

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

  • Comment number 68.

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

  • Comment number 69.

    lol @ 17.

    You had Hernandez, Ferguson was just to foolish to play him, and giggs ;).

    Mickey Mouse cup? Yes, the biggest domestic cup is mickey mouse.. LOL.

    So bitter, you were outplayed after 25 minutes, there was only going to be one winner. Well deserved by city, they can play some lovely attacking football when they want with talents like Tevez, Toure and Silvia.. De Jong And Kompany are brilliant in defence, I really hope they go on to win it. It's a shame to see what they are capable of, yet Mancini sticks to his defensive guns.

    Take the shackles of!

  • Comment number 70.

    @67 World Cup Wally

    I'm speechless (well almost) Fergie purposely lost so City would retain Mancini? haha you live in dream land!

  • Comment number 71.

    #67,WCW.

    Sorry,could you just run that by me again?

  • Comment number 72.

    City's best player on Saturday - Michael Carrick. He was the difference between the 2 sides. It showed with his assist for the goal.

  • Comment number 73.

    #1 - all you did was catch United on an off-day - Rooney being available would have made a huge difference but your ex-chairman did you a favour on that one. We had a poor game and maybe shoudl have set up 4-4-2 with Giggs, Owen and Anderson starting instead of Valencia, Park and Carrick and the result may have been different.

    The game itself was rubbish the Stoke game was better and would have provided a better tactical analysis of their so-called anti-football as they were outstanding yesterday.

    Not many comments in that for Mr Magowan though is there

  • Comment number 74.

    yes im sure Sir Alex wanted City to win, ARE YOU MAD!!

    is this yet again another united fan finding it hard face that they got beat!

  • Comment number 75.

    To be honest, no matter how I dislike Murinho as a manager, he made Real Madrid tick already. It's not easy to go all those matches unbeaten at home, in a number of consecutive teams. I didn't watch the first El Classico, but Real did impress me against poor old Spurs.

    The press and biased fans can say anything they wish about 1-0 wins under Murinho, but his teams are strong, vibrant, lively and effective.
    The press and biased fans were telling us that United are drawing too many matches this season, but has anyone noticed that now Arsenal appear having as many draws (and counting?)

  • Comment number 76.

    #17 - FA Cup is a big trophy - don't demean it because we love winning it and as we haven't for 8 years Fergie wants that trophy again.

    Our problem is that we matched City;'s tactical layout and it didn't work for us. This wasn't a weak team and if Rooney was available he would have started. Could have done with Hargreaves or Fletcher there on Saturday and that is what we have been missing. Carrick showed his own shortcomings and regardless of contracts I can see him and Berbatov being sold in the summer

  • Comment number 77.

    Love the debate... BUT ... honestly, the FA Cup is an irrelevance. Thats why the team against Liverpool and the performance was so disappointing. RM saves players for the cup semi final against Salford United. The only important result is finishing at least fourth in the Premier League. Nothing else matters. RM will be judged only on that!!

  • Comment number 78.

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

  • Comment number 79.

    #71 - whoever wrote that SAF wanted City to win to keep Mancini is an idiot. SAF has no problem seeing City managers fired as along with the 37 years banner it is something United fans can use to beat City over the head with

  • Comment number 80.

    @68 Jose is a good manager, but defence is always his priority, and I can only go by watching his performances at Chelsea as I have not seen enough of his games in charge of Inter and Madrid. Also, Mancini is just learning how to play attacking football, as the win at Sunderland showed. Hopefully, he will let City play the attacking football they are capable of and make the premier league better to watch, as when he plays Barry, De Jong and a restricted Toure, it seems he is reverting to the Italian preset of Not losing is more important than winning.

  • Comment number 81.

    The high line City adopted did have a big effect on the game, but that's only half the story. Even if we give Mancini the benefit of the doubt and say these were his pre-match instructions (dependant on the United starting line-up) and his players just started nervously, it still doesn't explain why United didn't react and begin using the space in behind. Personally I was expecting Hernandez to be that threat and he could have been summoned from the bench even before the break. Bear in mind it was always likely that Berbatov wouldn't be used for the full 90 minutes and you can use 3 substitutions. Even allowing for the lack of Hernandez though, I was amazed that Nani and Park weren't switched.

    City just about deserved the win in my opinion, just for the fact that they eventually got on the front foot and bullied United. But in the big picture of the game what really happened was that United stroked the ball about and got themselves too much in the comfort zone. Even after going behind and struggling to go through the gears United were always likely to mount a late charge, but this was obviously diluted somewhat after going down to 10 men.

    The refereeing of the game had a big influence on the way the game unfolded too. There were very late fouls on Berbatov and on Valencia early in the game that severly hampered the players and yet Mike Dean chose not to issue yellow cards. Later in the game he booked players for lesser offences. The sending off of Scholes was in my opinion slightly harsh, particularly because Zabaleta wasn't cautioned for his part in the challenge, despite the height and angle of his challenge being very similar. And Zabaleta remained in the game, completely unhindered by the Scholes challenge, whereas the challenges on United players in the early stages proved much more significant and yet were not penalised.

  • Comment number 82.

    Berba should have has us two up and City were very lucky with getting the rub of the green on a few occasions.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------

    Berba could have converted one, or the other of the two chances but not both my friend, as the second came directly as a consequence of the first one being (superbly) saved.

  • Comment number 83.

    I agree with people saying the game was lost in midfield for United. I haven't been convinced with united's midfield for years. Fletch and Carrick resourceful / tidy in possession (Saturday excepted for Carrick!), Anderson hasn't developed into the the player fans hoped he would, Scholes is brilliant but then goes and does that... and he's past it.

    City looked good in the second half, good luck for the final. If Tevez will be back he'll make the difference. Stoke will need to play their best to steal it.

  • Comment number 84.

    Hernadez on early for Valencia would've been my call btw, not on for Berbatov as suggested above!

  • Comment number 85.

    @ 78, Mr Chelsea,

    Still though, disliking him myself or not, Murinho:
    a) is effective
    b) knows what players he needs.

    I was just calculating a very interesting figure :)
    Murinho earns 36.5p per second.
    I would happily wish the club having the majority of fans whinging about capping players' salaries to get him as a manager, just for the fun of it :)

    Balotelli is like a bomb waiting to explode. When, at the time, Murinho didn't take him to Germany (if I remember correctly) to face Bayern, I assumed Balotelli must be some case, because I didn't know him at the time. Now I understand fully why Murinho disliked him, regardless of what the Italian media were saying.

  • Comment number 86.

    Mancini just needs time to shape this team into what he wants, only problem with city is because they have all this money they dont have to worry about if a player turns out to be a "flop" or not. unlike other teams that spend their money more wisely.
    Jo, Robinho, Santa Cruz, Dzeko (he will turn into a flop) just to name a few.

  • Comment number 87.

    #33 augakuh you are right that Barca press space but it is more accurate to say they hunt the ball. This is what Guardiola said earlier in the season: "We play in the other team's half as much as possible because I get worried when the ball is in my half," he says. "We're a horrible team without the ball so I want us to get it back as soon as possible and I'd rather give away fouls and the ball in their half than ours."

    #42 I'm not just picking out one stat here. There seemed a genuinley different approach from Mancini against a big team. Johnson started, Toure was higher up the pitch, Barry and De Jong pressed higher too. Of course, it was a Cup game so that may have influenced his strategy

  • Comment number 88.

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

  • Comment number 89.

    Balotelli is no angel but Ferdinand's reaction, as well as that of Evra and Anderson after the final whistle was a disgrace. So what if Balotelli "taunted" Man Utd players by thrusting his badge at them? Ferdinand saw nothing wrong when Gary Neville ran 60 yards to thrust his shirt and badge at Liverpool fans. In fact, Ferdinand called it "part of the game".

    Not only this but Fergie and Nani were very vocal in their criticism of Carragher's challenge (which should have been a sending off) but said nothing about Rafael's lunge on Lucas just afterwards (whether it would have occurred without the first challenge or not is hypothetical). We were told that Nani could be out for six weeks but he was back much sooner. However, Fergie refused to condemn Scholes' x-rated challenge on Zabaleta, the latest in a series of such challenges over his career. Arguably, this was as bad as, if not worse than, Carragher's.

    It looks like Man Utd's title because I feel that Arsenal have dropped too many points, even before yesterday. They have to win all of their remaining games and hope that Man Utd slip up at least twice and probably three times.

    As for the game, had Berbatov scored from three yards out instead of scooping it over the bar, it could have been different, athough Joe Hart made a couple of good saves. Carrick, rightly, took criticism for giving the ball away to Toure but it was Van Der Sar's poor initial clearance which started the trouble. Hernandez did little when he came on and Scholes' sending off set them back further. After that, the longer Man Utd went without scoring, the more City felt confident that they would hang on.

    Man Utd will probably look back on this as a missed opportunity. I think that they will win the league but I have my doubts that they will win the CL so it might be just one trophy.

  • Comment number 90.

    hopefully,man city will win the FA despite didn't play well to my view.They have upper over stoke city.

  • Comment number 91.

    An FA cup final and a top 4 finish should save Mancinni's job, however we all know City have bundle of cash to spend, this in my eyes will stop them actually challenging for the title.

    The more tinkering done by Mancinni in the market will be the stumbling block with the title pursuit. There's no doubt City have a great squad with fantastic players but for me the tinkering and excessive buying must stop for City this summer for them to be true contenders.

  • Comment number 92.

    man city fans keep sayin every team spends money to win, but the diffrence is man u made there own money. that is why nobody wants city to do well as the money they hv spent has came from a billionaire!!!!! but i do think man u need a big strong, fast player in the middle of the park like yaya toure.

  • Comment number 93.

    Well done to City, the best team won and rightly go on to Wembley. Only United numpties and there are plenty on here and those in denial will try to argue otherwise.

    As for Rio, just remember Gary Neville was warned twice and reprimanded by the FA for running over to the other team's supporters and goading opponents. And weren't you United captain at the time, I don't remember you threatening Neville
    for his inappropriate behaviour. You can forget Anderson, he doesn't know any better.

    Great Victory City, now build on it on May 14th

    PS Hang up your boots Scholes, well past it and now just peevish and bad tempered

  • Comment number 94.

    89, angus mccoatup wrote:
    ...
    However, Fergie refused to condemn Scholes' x-rated challenge on Zabaleta, the latest in a series of such challenges over his career. Arguably, this was as bad as, if not worse than, Carragher's.
    ...

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

    Carragher's was worse. I know, it's difficult to explain :)

  • Comment number 95.

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

  • Comment number 96.

    79. At 13:34pm 18th Apr 2011, PetShopBoys_Forever wrote:
    #71 - whoever wrote that SAF wanted City to win to keep Mancini is an idiot. SAF has no problem seeing City managers fired as along with the 37 years banner it is something United fans can use to beat City over the head with
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------It's only 35 years.

    What will Utd fans do if City win the FA cup?

    Will they put up a banner declaring Arsenal's lack of a trophy?

    Games are won and lost in a instance. Berbatov's miss, equal to the Lampard miss in the CL.

    "Its a Football"

    What a lovely weekend.

  • Comment number 97.

    @ 95, Mr Chelsea,

    He is.
    Still, I'm thankful he doesn't belong to the United roster.
    Talented, undoubtedly but with a behaviour like a ticking bomb.

  • Comment number 98.

    94. At 13:50pm 18th Apr 2011, Football_UK wrote:
    89, angus mccoatup wrote:
    ...
    However, Fergie refused to condemn Scholes' x-rated challenge on Zabaleta, the latest in a series of such challenges over his career. Arguably, this was as bad as, if not worse than, Carragher's.
    ...

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

    Carragher's was worse. I know, it's difficult to explain :)

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

    Carra's was high and reckless but certainly not intentional, Scholes on the other hand knew what he was doing. At no point did he have his eyes on the ball only Zabelleta.

  • Comment number 99.

    @ 96, The Stepford Sheep,

    " only 35 years.

    What will Utd fans do if City win the FA cup?

    Will they put up a banner declaring Arsenal's lack of a trophy?"

    I'm not aware who started this nonsense with the banners, but City are as guilty with that Tevez banner.

    Now, when it comes to you winning the F.A. Cup, if you win it I suppose you'd be congratulated. So, what's the issue?

  • Comment number 100.

    @35

    Im sorry but you are incorrect Sir

    Your domestic league trophy should always be number 1. Premier league all the way. There is no point in fighting to be the best in Europe when your not the best in your Country.

    1. Premier League
    2. Champs League
    3. FA Cup
    4. Carling Cup
    5. Charity Sheild
    6. Europa League ;-)

 

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