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Mancini must find Manchester City's missing spark

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Phil McNulty | 00:53 UK time, Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Roberto Mancini - as he waved Yaya Toure off to the Africa Cup of Nations - declared he was confident that Manchester City would win the Premier League if they were still top at the end of January.

Mancini's mission has been duly accomplished even without the influential Ivorian as the title race moves into February, but only just and with confidence jolted by the 1-0 defeat against Everton on a raucous night at Goodison Park.

City's season of such promise is hardly crumbling as one glance at the table will confirm and their current league position would have been accepted gratefully had it been offered to the Italian in August.

There is no doubt, however, that City are suffering their first serious uncertainties in a month that has seen them exit the FA Cup and Carling Cup and have their lead at the top of the table over Manchester United reduced to goal difference.

And the defeat at Everton was laced with irony as the match was decided by a goal from former United midfield man Darron Gibson, a moment described by Sir Alex Ferguson as "all part of the plan."

The next part of Ferguson's plan will be to play further on any anxiety City might feel as the swagger and style of the early months is mislaid, they hope temporarily.

Manchester City's defeat meant champions Manchester United were able to capitalise by levelling the points at the top of the table. Photo: AP

And Mancini himself accepted a large portion of responsibility for City's latest setback as their expensively-assembled side failed to make a mark on Everton's fierce commitment and organisation.

He said: "It is my fault because I didn't prepare for this game very well. Maybe I thought before the game it would be easier - but here it is never easier."

Mysterious words from Mancini as the warning signs for City and their manager have been posted at Goodison Park before. Played three lost three is now his record at Everton.

Mancini can at least be comforted by the knowledge that Toure will return soon to provide the raw power and natural ability that would be missed by just about any side. There is little doubt both manager and players will welcome the return of his imposing presence.

City have demonstrated the ability to react to defeat before - now they must do it again starting against Fulham at the Etihad on Saturday. Any more performances like Tuesday's at Everton - plenty of possession but a lack of punch and threat - will have the pursuing pack sensing that this season's Premier League landscape might just be shifting.

Mancini will continue to feel football's fates have also turned on his team in recent weeks as a presentable penalty claim for handball against Phil Neville was ignored in the second half, but this was evidently not the City that threatened to run away with the league in the early weeks of this season.

The concerns about City's current condition were highlighted by their failure to overcome an Everton side missing key personnel such as Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin in defence, with right-back Tony Hibbert used as an emergency central defender.

It was a task he performed magnificently as Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero were reduced to frustration long before the conclusion of a fruitless evening.

United may be moving alongside City, but Spurs will also take renewed heart after their win over Wigan and Everton's victory leaves them only five points off the lead.

Mancini's task now will be to maintain City's belief as they seek to claim domestic football's biggest prize for the first time since 1967/68.

Toure, David Silva and Aguero have title-winning class and pedigree - but Mancini now needs to coax more out of striker Dzeko, who was once again a marginal figure amid the thunderous tackling at Everton and perform the difficult trick of getting Mario Balotelli to make headlines of the right sort.

And, amid all this, a seemingly ever-present local difficulty remains in the shape of Carlos Tevez as the Argentine is still at City despite a career that came to a dead stop in the Champions League defeat against Bayern Munich in September.

The notion of Tevez playing for City again is, to all intents and purposes, a non-starter but Mancini will still have to decide how to handle his presence until a move away can be finalised.

He will not want any outside influences impacting on City's priority of claiming the title, knowing Ferguson will be ready to apply psychological pressure to the "noisy neighbours" at any signs of weakness.

For now City are masters of their own destiny, not something that constitutes any form of crisis and a message Mancini will use to his advantage - but he will also know their prime position will be in peril should they suffer too many repeats of their display at Everton.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Man City got away with wins in their last two games, without playing with the guile we're used to seeing, and it was bound to catch up. Without Yaya, they don't have enough strength to really control games.

    Once he's back, they'll be firing again.

  • Comment number 2.

    Just goes to show money can't always buy results.

  • Comment number 3.

    Just goes to show money can't always deliver results.

  • Comment number 4.

    I do still think this is only a stutter for City, they've had their first taste of injury/suspension/international problems which have to be faced by any club and it is clearly telling in their performances, but Yaya Toure is exactly the sort of player you would want coming back into your side at this point, unfortunately for their rivals.

    Would have been interesting to hear what you thought of the signing of Pizarro whilst on the topic of City, seems unnecessary to bring in an attacking midfielder when Nasri and Silva are both available - a load for a striker (with the Tevez saga dragging on) would have been more expected and useful surely?

    Also a very strange interview from Mancini, I can't say I've ever heard of a manager admitting to under-preparing and underestimating an opponent, and Goodison Park is the last place I would go feeling complacent. To me it's either he is protecting his players or he has made some serious, serious mistakes. Tactically seemed strange as well as they played so narrowly considering such an aerial threat could come from Dzeko against Hibbert etc. (massive praise must go to him and the rest of Everton, that was by far the best I've ever seen them play)

    Also don't think Mancini has much right to complain about luck - United were missing 11 players today including their best in Rooney and Vidic and still churned out a win - and the penalty was a fair shout but would have been very harsh, Neville could hardly have done anything about that.

  • Comment number 5.

    loan* for a striker. And conradk can't help but agree that it's always satisfying to see the massive wealth of a club like City flop against a penniless Everton. Great game for the neutrals/non city fans

  • Comment number 6.

    Go on, write us off!

  • Comment number 7.

    I wrote citeh off many weeks ago..I said the wheels will come off and I detect panic at the club with Pizzaro joining on a loan deal. Has the money been turned off? Surely,with all the money the owner has,could'nt you spend a few more quid to add the bloke to the squad?
    A 3rd defeat in the last 8 games,and in that a couple of wins you did'nt deserve..Mancini seems to be suffering from squeaky bum time long before he should be.
    In contrast,a Utd team,with ELEVEN players unavailable through various reasons,beat an always competitive Stoke and goal difference being the means citeh stay on top. If we get a result at Chelsea,where we have'nt won for a number of years,then SAF will hump up the pressure. And with the injured players to come back,Utd will be in a good position.
    What price Mancini doing a Keegan in a future interview?

  • Comment number 8.

    So Utd have 11 players out, I take it that's their entire fist team then, or are you just using players who are 'bench at best' to bolster the numbers?

  • Comment number 9.

    Also a very strange interview from Mancini, I can't say I've ever heard of a manager admitting to under-preparing and underestimating an opponent
    I was at Goodison tonight but watched the beebs highlights show and saw Mancini's post match interview. I've been watching football for over 50 years and i've never heard that myself immediately after a defeat by any manager. Yes managers have said maybe the preparation was wrong but it's always been at a much later date.

    At the game it was interesting seeing a team [who are going for the title] play without the guile needed to break down a stubborn team like Everton. What would worry me most about City, is that when they are behind and there are a few minutes left, they do not seem to really go for it and put their opponents under extreme pressure. The Chelsea defeat was the same, in the last 5/6 minutes they didn't even get the ball into their box.

    Yes Hibbert had a good game tonight, he is actually a good solid defender, a throwback to the days when a defender had one prime job, to defend. His only faults come when he is asked to do something else.

  • Comment number 10.

    A few points:
    (1) Is there a slower player on the ball than Nasri in the prem? Zero urgency at any point. (2) Recent peformances have shown Yaya Toure is possibly even more influencial to City than Silva. (3) Aguero is very good - but overrated. Dwells on the ball when he should shoot. Drifts in and out of games. He's been hyped to the heavens, but is not as good as the prems' top striker RVP. (4) City's cockiness is biting them in the behind. (5) Dzeko is useless and sluggish. His early season goal-scoring period flatters him greatly. If City know whats best for them they'll offer him and £20 mil to Napoli for Cavani in the summer. (6) City's playing style is very reliant on scoring first. If teams score the first one City get visibly rattled. (7) The images of Adam Johnson waiting to come on as a sub versus Liverpool with his arms folded and face sour were hilarious. That is all for now...

  • Comment number 11.

    I'd definitely rate Yaya over Silva in terms of influence. Silva is the better player overall, but Yaya seems to hold the team together.

  • Comment number 12.

    When a team are on the recieving end of so many bad decisions as Man City clearly are it is bound to affect how they perform because confidence levels drop and players become wary of making challenges.
    I dont normally consider conspiracy theories but last nights incidents alone have made me wonder what with the two blatant penalties City were denied, the lack of protection the City players got from the bulling approach David Moyes once again utilised plus the most glaring incident in Chelsea's game when Ahley Cole recieved two very contentious yellow cards and now misses the United game where he would have been up against United's in form winger Valencia, my theory is there for everyone to see and consider and most times not sometimes I honestly think that some clubs are not competing on the same level playing field as regards to refereeing decisions.

  • Comment number 13.

    10,000 empty seats at Woodison Ark.

    Have parts of it been condemned? After all, surely the 'best fans in Merseyside' wouldn't abandon their club when the league leaders come calling?

  • Comment number 14.

    (Let's see this list of 11 missing players from Manc Untidy. I'd guess the majority of them are 'missing' from the first XI more often than not.)

  • Comment number 15.

    ah what can you do all and sundry are kicking us while we're apparently down. The ref's and the FA have it in for us all it is going to take is more serious hard work.
    It was a mistake to under estimate the toffees but it has to go down as a harsh lesson learnt. As for the toffees they should be ashamed of themselves, is this the only fixture they get up for??? they get rolled over by poor relegation fodder then play CITY and look to have everyman behind the ball have a great work ethic chase everything down and try to nick a goal while they are playing AT HOME. It worked though, so credit to moyes but it does make you wonder. Hopefully thats the end of poor reffing for us until the end of the season.... still top and thats all that matters. We need to work hard to make are own luck as we're not going to be given a whiff by anyone else.

  • Comment number 16.


    The BS are always up for helping out their parent club, you should know that.

  • Comment number 17.

    Someone has broken the BBC Sport website, when I left yesterday it was a website, today it looks like a toddler has scribbled over it with a yellow pen.

  • Comment number 18.

    City are definitely suffering from poor form of late, but with the return of both Toures. Whilst Silva is technically gifted, Yaya is phenomenal on the ball and can be seen as something of a City talisman. His pace, strength and ability make him the biggest threat to any opposition, and he has been sorely missed. With the return of players from the African Cup of Nations, this run of poor results should end. However, confidence with the rest of the City camp may be low, and it may take more than the return of key players to get them back into the form Mancini's men enjoyed at the start of the season, at least immediately anyway.

  • Comment number 19.

    @8 reallyreal its not far off the whole first choice team being out who played last nite who are guaranteed starters?ferdinand and evra thats it so 9 first teamers missing.the keeper(whoever de gea or lindegaard) vidic,jones,cleverley,anderson,young,nani,rooney and welbeck sitting it out on the you can lie to yourselfs all day long city fans but the truth is if you took 9 first team players of yours out of it through whatever reason first of all ur bench would be empty your squad size is feeble.then take those key areas away like ours like take away your keeper(hart) your best defender (kompany) your top 3 midfielders (toure,silva,nasri) your top striker (aguero) on my lord you wouldnt get a sniff against wigan never mind any1 else.just keep living on to the hope you can hang on because i tell you city are already letting it slip big time.all season all we've heard is we'll score when we want to we'll just keep opening up a massive gap over united until it insurmountable the united team is the worst ever, its gona be easy well you cocky so n so's who's level on points with you now.the title's already gone for you uniteds class and expertise in the art of winning trophies means theres only 1 winner from herein and suprise suprise they aint wearin a blue shirt

  • Comment number 20.

    I think there's injustice done to Everton in this article who had an amazing performance, played as a unit from start to the end and clicked like a Swiss clock. From City's perspective, it showed how much they're missing Yaya Toure, perhaps.

    Nasri did have an amazing opportunity, hitting the post, but when you try to remember more opportunities for City you can't remember much. Whenever an Everton player was failing in defense, there was always a cover to take the ball. And that happened for the duration of the match.

    Mancini perhaps was lead in the post match interview by the question and his instincts to defend his team and take the blame, in saying he may have not prepared his team well for the match but these results always happen in football.

    I can't help thinking that had it been United in City's shoes, we'd be talking about a major crisis. Had Mancini been at Chelsea, we might have already seen Hidding until the end of the season.

    City have all the time in the world to regroup.
    From Everton's perspective, they must be in heaven now: the team played well, they've just beaten City, they signed players: everything perfect.

    I finally have to give congratulations to the BBC for destroying the BBC Sports website with these silly changes. The BBC website should not be compared to supermarkets where goods change location on the selves to confuse customers with the intention to make them spend more time and cash at their premises. The thing with Internet sites is they should make the surfer's life easier.

  • Comment number 21.

    In response to previous posts the 11 United were missing are:
    De Gea

    That's 10 important players who are in and out of the first team on a regular basis (and Michael Owen). Still think the title is United's this season.

  • Comment number 22.

    @14 read my list 9 first teamers and we still get results move on n get on with on the other hand blame everything on toure being i said in previous post god help us what would be said if you had our injury list in contrast of important players.

  • Comment number 23.

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

  • Comment number 24.

    I would chalk Man City's recent form down as a definite blip and it will be interesting to see if, how and when they can pick themselves up to the form they showed earlier in the season. Fulham (H) and Villa (A) coming up and I get the impression that they could do with 6 points out of 6 to maintain position and increase their momentum. They are, of course, still top of the table and I would think still in the box seat. An interesting point in the season.

    On a slight tangent (if that's even possible), I don't subscribe to the "we had x players missing .." lines or excuses. This is professional sport and this is surely the point of having a good, deep, squad.

  • Comment number 25.

    @ Jesus the Teddy Bear
    Apparently, if it isn't garish, full of pictures and lacking in content, no-one will want to use it, I'm also really surprised that twitter links aren't provided at the top of the page, as the BBC seems so obsessed by them, you'd almost think someone with influence at the beeb had shares in the company.

    @ any Utd fan.
    I'll give you Vidic, Jones, Rooney, Fletcher, Nani and a keeper but even Fergie doesn't know if any of your other injuries are 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd choice in their respective positions, afterall you did start with Rio, Evra, Valencia and Hernandez, with Giggs on the bench and players who are bench players at worst like Carrick, Smalling and Park starting too.
    Don't get me wrong, you do have injury problems and that's why you have such a big squad, but to claim that 11 were missing is overegging it a little don't you think?
    ...and BTW I'm a Wigan fan and don't particularly dislike any 'big' club more than any other.

  • Comment number 26.


    And you have perhaps only just noticed this?

    Its been obvious for years there is something very dodgy going on in the PL thats for sure.

  • Comment number 27.


    Don't worry to much with what you have remaining and the on going theatrics in the penalty area, coupled with the return of Webb, Clattenburgh, Atkinson, you should be there or thereabouts come the end of the campaign.

    " competitive Stoke " :) Grins.

  • Comment number 28.

    i never said 11 i said 9 first teamers im not counting fletcher,owen cos even when fit they dont start.its not even an arguing matter because there not debateable first choices nani and young are first choice wingers.rooney,welbeck first choice strikers.cleverley,anderson first choice centre midfield vidic we all know about him.stop saying our injuries are irrelevant we all know if citys was the same you would be offering all the excuses in the book face it ur struggling without toure imagine when some other star players pick something up.the season swings in roundabouts we've got players coming back soon and city will probably pick up a few niggles.and then and only then when city have faced up to that we will see who the true champions are.

  • Comment number 29.

    I predict the title will be won by the side with most points or better goal difference.

  • Comment number 30.

    Mathematically my team Arsenal are still in with a shout.

  • Comment number 31.

    Well here we go again we should of had 2 penalties just stop moaning about your getting a raw deal bla bla bla city are just not good enough to handle the pressure and its not helping with idiot saying its always my fault and i have to leave England because everyone is against me bla bla bla, lets face it your a dirty player and youll never change and Mancini beware seems that the special one will be looking for work soon in England?

    And by the way i agree with the comment about the new site i really don't like it at all, ill be looking for another site if it stays the same sorry but why change a winning team?

  • Comment number 32.

    @12 - Ted, you're talking out your hat! From the angle he was watching the play, the referee couldn't possibly see the ball hit Neville's arm. What was the other clear penalty? When Fellaini stood on the ball in the box? Don't think that's illegal. And what all this talk of so many poor decisions. Are Man City memories so short that they've already forgotten Mario's lack of in-match punishment for attempting to stamp on Scott Parker's face?!? Assou-Ekoto got away with a nasty challenge last night and should have been sent off. We can't expect referees to see every incident. Conspiracy theories - Pah!

  • Comment number 33.

    I can only see City crumbling like a cheap cookie. As an Arsenal fan I can notice the signs of a team starting to let the pressure get to them and as United have pedigree in winning titles I can only see it going to one place. The 44 year wait will be extended I'm afraid.
    It's a shame as I'd like to see City win the league for their loyal fans who have seen them play in League 1 in recent years and always play in United's shadow. I see Nasri hasn't changed - great when a team is doing well but when you need to dig in and fight for a result he goes missing. Sums the bloke up in my opinion.

  • Comment number 34.

    Awwww it must be difficult to compete when you spent a mere half a billion pounds on players and then ONE of them goes away for a couple of weeks. What a load of rubbish - Arsenal have played the last 8-9 games with no recognised full backs, Utd without their first choice centre half pairing. Mancini is a joke - it's harder for him NOT to win the prem this year given the ludicrous financial advantage.

  • Comment number 35.


    Do you think we should have him back ? :)

  • Comment number 36.

    I know I am in a minority with City fans, but I have said for quite a while now that Mancini is the problem. He is negative, against Everton, who play with what is in reality one up top he plays a back four and two holding midfield players. City do not move the ball quickly enough and with over priced under performers like Barry and Milner who were both awful last night and Dzeko who lacked both physicality and desire to compete, he was dreadful, twenty odd million for Dzeko did not look value for money last night.
    For me City have a lot of buys who are just nowhere near value for money, Clichy is decent at best, Lescott cant pass the ball and is positionally dodgy. Kolarov, ok but vastly over priced. Mark Hughes lumbered City with poor buys, and now Mancini's answer to the problem is a 32 year old Chilean from Roma.
    I also still cant get my head around Bellamy has to go for a so called poor attitude, yet Balotelli remains, he obviously has few if any attitude problems !!!!!. Italian football is in a mess, the managers are notoriously negative, so why did City take Mancini.
    I also believe that he totally mishandled the Tevez situation, I would certainly have prefered Carlos up front last night to the ineffective Dzeko.
    Anyone from your local pub could manage City into the top three with the money spent and players at your disposal, I dont feel that Mancini is the one to take the next step with what should be the best team in the league, to the EPL trophy.
    This season Man Utd are well away from the quality they had a few years ago, Chelsea are in transition, Arsenal are sadly what they have been for the last three years, a soft touch, City should be well clear, but they are not.
    Taxi waiting ?.

  • Comment number 37.

    "15. At 07:16 1st Feb 2012, mankyblue wrote:
    ...As for the toffees they should be ashamed of themselves, is this the only fixture they get up for??? they get rolled over by poor relegation fodder then play CITY and look to have everyman behind the ball have a great work ethic chase everything down and try to nick a goal while they are playing AT HOME."

    Every team gets themselves up for playing the big boys - a lesson I'm afraid you'll learn. Lost count of the number of opposition keepers that have been 'man of the match' at the Emirates. Sure regulars at Trafford and the Bridge would say the same!

  • Comment number 38.

    "loan* for a striker. And conradk can't help but agree that it's always satisfying to see the massive wealth of a club like City flop against a penniless Everton. Great game for the neutrals/non city fans"



    I'm Man U through and through but even I can't stand your arrogance. Anything can happen so quit killing our good karma with your non sense!

  • Comment number 39.

    Going to be an exciting run in! If we can get number 20 while in transition and after season blighted by injuries then surely even the haters will acknowledge Lord Ferguson as the demi god that he is!

  • Comment number 40.


    De Gea has been missing all season, especially when crosses come into the box.

    Owen has been missing for three years, though he was a jocky now?

  • Comment number 41.


    Do you think we should have him back ? :)


    Yeah why not? Sold him for £25 million so buy him back for £2.5 million?! Altogether now:-

    "Na na na na na na na na na na
    Samir Naseri
    Greedy c***, greedy, greedy c***!"


  • Comment number 42.

    @ Jesus the Teddy Bear - Yep, If the site was easy to navigate & useful the Beeb have to upgrade it so you can't find anything. Just like the main site

    Re Mancini, strange admission - I wonder if he's preparing for his sacking already.

    Citeh should recover from this, it's only one match and if Utd are within 3 points after the next 4 matches I think they'll be very happy.

  • Comment number 43.

    Lots of talk about missing personel - let's be honest, UTD have had far more absences than City; Valencia and Carrick in defence against Fulham at Christmas is a prime example.

    City's squad is better and they, arguably, should be plugging any holes they have much better than UTD can. The difference though is that the UTD players coming in are doing a better job than the City players, and that, to me, is testament to the way UTD train, work and play as a squad.

    I just get an uncomfortable feeling that Mancini only works with a core 15 players and the rest are cannon fodder.

    Still, experience tells us that this is just City's "blip". To maintain their position and goal difference is title-winning material. And to those saying they had "lucky" wins since December then - well, yes, they have - but haven't UTD, Chelsea and Arsenal experienced this in the last 10 years? It's winning when you don't deserve to that differntiates the title-winners and 3rd/4th place teams.

  • Comment number 44.

    @25 ReallyReal

    Maybe you're right, but take any 11 players from any team in the PL, they couldn't cope with it as well as MU.
    United has a very good squad in depth, and this is undoubtedly one of the proof of Sir Alex great work!

  • Comment number 45.

    If you asked most Man City fans if they would be happy to be top of the league at the start of February they would have said yes. The Everton match was always going to be a tough one and although City were disappointing they can stretch their lead further with a win against Fulham this weekend.

  • Comment number 46.

    Everton away is always a tough place to go.

    Sure, City would have liked a win (or a draw) but its not an easy fixture.

  • Comment number 47.


    How can you for one second begin to critisize everton for beating you by saying ridiculous things like "is this the only game they turn up for"

    You sound like a fool. They never have any finances and moyes has made something out of nothing with that team year after year. City would be blessed by god to ever acquire a manager of that quality...
    Don't worry it'll never happen.

  • Comment number 48.

    @17 Jesus the Teddy Bear

    Haha - yeah - this website's waaaaaaay too busy now. They need to remove the Twitter feed (if you want to read Twitter comments, then you'd follow the Tweeters!)

    Plus there's too many headlines and they don't stand out too much.

    What I'm fearing, which will be illustrated tonight, is that they make the Live Text Commentary a scrollable box like they did in the World Cup. It meant that you couldn't read it if you used a touch screen device.

  • Comment number 49.

    Reading some of the comments here you have to wonder if some people's knowledge of football extends beyond a single season! City may indeed continue to stumble, United could well embark on a 10 game winning run, Spurs may overtake both, but I'm betting that between now and the end of the season all these teams will lose games they might have expected to win, have key players come back from injury/get injured, suffer the consequences of bad refereeing decidions etc. In short, as a City fan and someone who has watched football for thirty years the only thing I would confidently expect with just under half a season to go is the unexpected. Anyone crowing at this point in the season is either a muppet or still sleeping in their Winnie the Pooh jim-jams.

  • Comment number 50.

    Of the 11 United players listed I think you could justifiably say that 6 (Vidic, Rooney, Lindegaard or De Gea, Jones, Nani, Cleverley) would most of the time be in the team and 4 (Fletcher, Anderson, Young, De Gea or Lindegaard) would be on the bench. So out of 16 regular first teamers 11 are out at the moment. so only Owen is not a regular first teamer. Whichever way you look at it it's a long list and most teams would find it difficult to maintain a title challenge without such players.

  • Comment number 51.

    Phil has a Live report on the BBC :) well its recorded live

  • Comment number 52.

    All that money and still a one man team. City are only going one way until Yayayayaya comes back. No power in the middle of the park

  • Comment number 53.

    he has an army of Moderators as well!

  • Comment number 54.

    @47 you're spot on. The idea that Everton are more motivated against Man City then, for example, Liverpool is total nonsense and clearly the ramblings of a supporter whose ring is twitching and blames his teams shortfalls on improved performance elsewhere. As I stated they're a one man team and the blue mancs can't stomach it..

  • Comment number 55.

    Started the season well, looked good, with a game plan that worked. Come the end of january its gone belly up, unfathomable really, still, enough of the new look BBC website. City, eh?

  • Comment number 56.


    Ya he doesn't know because some of them have been out for the majority of the season already. Coming back only to sustain another injury. What you said for the most part is true though so cheers

  • Comment number 57.

    Well Mancini is doing an excellent job of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. I mean how easy is it to win the prem this year? Arsenal are without their full back for the large part of the season, and wilshire. Utd are without 2/3 of their team this season, chelsea are in "transition" and yet city are still struggling and stuttering along.

    No doubt they will get back to winning ways when toure returns, but for anyone saying about their "strength" in depth is clearly delusional of city. Also what's with the strange signing of pizarro? Are they starting to tighten their belt buckle?

    Saving the best till last, what an excellent strike from star man Darron Gibson. As predicted, the lad is already showcasing his abundant quality. Late challenger to player of the season maybe.

  • Comment number 58.

    @26 & 27

    Ya man everythings fixed! We are the Juventus of the PL you didn't know?


  • Comment number 59.

    "12. At 06:54 1st Feb 2012, ted wrote:
    When a team are on the recieving end of so many bad decisions as Man City clearly are it is bound to affect how they perform because confidence levels drop and players become wary of making challenges."

    Leave it out mate - £500m on players and it's the refs fault when you lose?

  • Comment number 60.


    yawn indeed.

  • Comment number 61.

    12.At 06:54 1st Feb 2012, ted wrote:
    When a team are on the recieving end of so many bad decisions as Man City clearly are it is bound to affect how they perform because confidence levels drop and players become wary of making challenges.

    Utd should have had 4 penalties in their game. They managed to win 2-0 and dominated the game. From the highlights it appeared that city controlled the game against everton but couldn't turn that superiority into goals. Nothing to do with them receiving unfavourable treatment. Kolo Toure's ban after failing his test last year for 6 months was a joke.

    Or if you don't accept common sense, utd have the league in their pocket, and SAF shot JFK.

  • Comment number 62.

    The worst decision last night was Gareth Barry's decison to cowardly turn his back on Gibson's shot. Then again, when he's one of the lower paid squad members on a mere £130'000 a week, why should he put his body on the line?

  • Comment number 63.

    well back to the matter in hand.

    results are for sure going Spur's way and perhaps they will nick it in the end.

    the table come the end to read


  • Comment number 64.

    62.At 09:23 1st Feb 2012, We all follow United wrote:

    Or nasri's lethargic performance? Even for 200k he can't be bothered to put in an extra shift. And to think utd fans were clamouring when he wasn't signed. Fergie Knows!! Glad to see the back of morrison as well.

    Pogba got a little run out so hopefully he'll sign, if not i'm sure the conveyor belt continues....

  • Comment number 65.

    "A 3rd defeat in the last 8 games,and in that a couple of wins you did'nt deserve.."

    3 defeats in last 8 isn't that bad for any team when you do get 2 wins you don't deserve. If everton are MCFC's bogey team then Arsenal had BWFC for years. I seem to remember Fulham have done MUFC a few times although I could be wrong. I certainly remember that wonder goal from their Hungarian midfielder that went to West Brom whose name passes me by right now.

    Even if MCFC have to wait for fianl day of seasona and stumble over the line with a Joe Hart goal off his butt - to finish first, first you've got to finish. Might not be classy champions but you get feeling that once MCFC crack it, they'll keep on it.

  • Comment number 66.

    We all know that City are in a deep of form at the moment. We knew that before yesterday. They have been lucky to beat Spurs. Yet, every other team has had lucky results on occasions and all teams have a deep in form at some point during the season. City are still the prime candidate for this EPL title.

    As a United fan, I'm curious of the outcome of United's next fixture at Stamford Bridge. Win it and, in conjunction with the result at the Emirates, they can put City under real pressure. Lose it and you can see the 3 points difference back.

    Question: how do you destroy one of the best websites in the world in one dark night?
    Answer: ask the BBC.

  • Comment number 67.

    How much did Rooney, Anderson, Carrick, Ferdinand, De Gea, Jones, Young, Berbatov, Nani and Valencia cost? Some of those were pushing £30m. City have spent a fortune, quickly. United fans conveniently seem to forget that they too have spent money.

  • Comment number 68.

    At 06:54 1st Feb 2012, ted wrote:

    When a team are on the recieving end of so many bad decisions as Man City clearly are it is bound to affect how they perform because confidence levels drop and players become wary of making challenges.

    Do you really have such a short memory? I seem to remember they should've finished the Spurs game with NINE men, not 11, and certainly not with the player who earned and scored the penalty winner.

  • Comment number 69.

    Mancini was imo just trying to take some of the pressure off his players. I don't believe that he was under-prepared for this game nor for any other.

    The more astonishing issue is how ManU are still in this title race with all their injuries to key players. How can they afford to play their OAP midfielders and still compete at the very top of the the EPL?

    Everton on the other hand fought well as they always do against the odds and they seemed to have a good day in the transfer window with some solid additions to their squad. Interesting to see how Jelavic copes with the pace and intensity of the EPL. He's technically good, has a physical presence, knows where the goal is and when to go down in the box, and a snip at £5.5m for an EPL team but his pace will be the issue.

    The new look 'Yellow' website face is awful!

  • Comment number 70.

    #49, ozblue,

    some good points there!

  • Comment number 71.

    City players are looking scared to make tackles because every time they do they get carded, as Kompany did for a very innocuous challenge, yet Drenthe goes in high, in a Keane or Scholes tackle and he get a yellow.
    Respect the ref, your having a laugh, the ref needs to respect the players

  • Comment number 72.

    67.At 09:29 1st Feb 2012, Jonny wrote:
    How much did Rooney, Anderson, Carrick, Ferdinand, De Gea, Jones, Young, Berbatov, Nani and Valencia cost? Some of those were pushing £30m. City have spent a fortune, quickly. United fans conveniently seem to forget that they too have spent money.

    Take in account players sold during that period, and wages, comparatively less than city. Utd fans are not forgetting that we have spent. But it's been nowhere near the scale of city, and we have tried to balance the books by selling other players.

  • Comment number 73.

    "72. At 09:40 1st Feb 2012, eduard_streltsov_ghost wrote:
    67.At 09:29 1st Feb 2012, Jonny wrote:
    How much did Rooney, Anderson, Carrick, Ferdinand, De Gea, Jones, Young, Berbatov, Nani and Valencia cost? Some of those were pushing £30m. City have spent a fortune, quickly. United fans conveniently seem to forget that they too have spent money.

    Take in account players sold during that period, and wages, comparatively less than city. Utd fans are not forgetting that we have spent. But it's been nowhere near the scale of city, and we have tried to balance the books by selling other players."

    And Utd have by far the biggest turnover of any UK club - if you generate it you can spend it! (And I'm most definitely not a Utd supporter).

  • Comment number 74.

    Pogba looked really good when he came on last night, and the crowd were right behind him. Hopefully his agent might stop being awkward now the transfer windows shut and we can get him signed up long term. He wants to stay, it's (yet again) a football agent that's the problem.

  • Comment number 75.

    12.At 06:54 1st Feb 2012, ted wrote:
    When a team are on the recieving end of so many bad decisions as Man City clearly are it is bound to affect how they perform because confidence levels drop and players become wary of making challenges.
    they havent had any bad decisions, a 2 footed tackle resulted in a red card and so it should have been, mario balotelli stamped on parkers head another red card offence. they cant make rash challenges and get away with it.

  • Comment number 76.

    The gloaters on this site will suffer their nemesis by the end of the season.


    City definitely have lost impetus - that is indisputable. Before last night they had only been behind for 23 minutes in toto; that's now 53 minutes.

    They have still conceded fewer and scored more than any other team.

    In the three recent away games when they have lost points (WBA /0-0, Sunderland/ 0-1, Everton/ 0-1), they have played brilliantly in bursts, had overwhelming dominance in possession, hit the woodwork six times, suffered from some dreadful decisions..........and laboured as the game progressed, making intricate patterns of play that go nowhere; set pieces lack imagination and they cannot penetrate as opponents 'park the bus'.

    Such is the game of football, a mirror to life - City's fortunes will change and the confidence return.

    It's not as if City have much to fear from Chelsea (last gasp, undeserved equaliser) or Stretford (two penalties) Rangers is it?

    Gloat on, gloat on, you feeble fans -
    Gloat on, 'tis all in vain!
    You throw the sand against the wind
    And the wind blows it back again...

  • Comment number 77.

    @ 61 eduard..

    Indeed. Both Manchester sides peppered the opponents goal. Only one brought home the bacon.

  • Comment number 78.

    United have done sound business, and City's money has changed the game (not for the better) in terms of what clubs will ask for players. Rooney's salary suggests United are not in the small time with salaries.

    @71 Having watched games since Kompany's red card and Michahs handball against Liverpool...funny how many similar incidents aren't being picked up. I guess that's what you get when you're at the top. Got to take the rough with the smooth...such as getting some decisions our way in the Spurs game.

  • Comment number 79.

    As a United fan we badly needed City to drop points last night as i would take 4 points from our next 2 games at the Bridge and home to Liverpool. The thing is these are both loseable games so letting City get to 9 points clear would have been a disaster.

    Now we can concentrate on the next to games knowing the lead wont be unreachable no matter what the results are.

  • Comment number 80.

    74.At 09:44 1st Feb 2012, We all follow United wrote:

    I just wonder how much Morrison is on at West ham, bearing in mind he reportedly asked for 30k. They should just personally ban agents, or limit their activity.

  • Comment number 81.

    mancini's comments were odd, but not when you consider them as an attempt to deflect attention from what is a run of poor form. city have been awful for a month or so. they would have won the league last season if not for mancini's caution. united have a ridiculous list of injuries to important players, yet they are level. unfortunately, city have a few genuinely easier games now and will probably still bully their way to the title. united can't keep going and city must get better with yaya back. there have been some awful challenges going unpunished in recent games, incidentally.

  • Comment number 82.

    a lot of comments about man united not fielding their best eleven.. No excuse. a lot of teams dont field their best eleven during ay whole season ...its the premiership, not a schoolyard game.. its up to the team physios to ensure all players are fit and not tired for the next game.. all part of the plan fergie might say

  • Comment number 83.

    @73 "if you generate it you can spend it! "

    Are you suggesting that a business (which football now is) shouldn't look for investment? Facebook and Apple would have been very different stories if they had just waited till they became big organically!

  • Comment number 84.

    when did those players arrive oh so wise johnny... rooney 2004, ferdinand 2002, carrick 2006,nani 2007,berbatov 2008 the point being over many years no doubt weve spent money were the biggest club in the country but over a period of years the money we spent on those players city spent in 1 transfer window.u have no point!!!

  • Comment number 85.

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

  • Comment number 86.

    Does anybody else think that Mancini is looking physically worse every week? Compared to the start of the season he looks thinner, paler, his hair is looking more unkempt, and his interviews are increasingly mumbled and he's not looking at the interviewer or camera, rather he's looking around or at the floor. Coupled with his bizarre claim last night that he hadn't prepared properly (if that is designed to deflect criticism from the players then it's not well thought out - what will the players be thinking during the preparation for the Fulham game? Will they be wondering if they are being told to do the right things?) I just wonder if he is beginning to struggle with the pressure of expectation from the fans, media and owners. Compare his body language to the permanently bullish Alex Ferguson.

    Bottom line is Mancini looks shot. He's losing the mental battle with Sir Alex, in my opinion (and SAFs brilliant comment that Gibson goal was "all part of the plan" will put more small demons into Mancinis mind). That's not a criticism - many other good managers have also, but I just wonder if how Mancini copes and carries himself could be the difference come May....

  • Comment number 87.

    #69, Rob04,

    "The more astonishing issue is how ManU are still in this title race with all their injuries to key players. How can they afford to play their OAP midfielders and still compete at the very top of the the EPL?"

    I don't understand why you find it astonishing.
    Every single day we see bias football fans berating SAF, showing bad signings that are bound to occur when a manager has been there for a quarter of a century. What people don't take into account is his work in buying and developing players who can be used in many roles, ending up able to cover holes when things turn bad with injuries. It's one of his strengths.

    On the other hand, Mancini has been at the helm of Manchester City for much less and he still develops City. He hasn't had the time yet to be tested in that area.

    After all, we all know that it's good to keep the manager and not show him the door on the first bad results. One of the reasons is precisely that one: to allow him time to develop a team that will be able to cope with situations when problems keep coming.

    As for the OAP players, you're talking about Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes here and not about average players in an average club. What I don't understand personally is why Arsene doesn't use Tierry Henry at all. What's the reason for bringing hin back if you don't intend to use him?

  • Comment number 88.

    The rub of the green did not go your way ... so the FA must be in United's back pocket!! ... what a load of tosh!!

    Agreed, your lot creamed our lot at OT, well played, but lets see how your lot handles the squeaky bum time! I for one am looking forward to our midfield to strengthen with the impeding return of the injured players. Scholes + Cleverly makes an interesting midfield 2.

    On the subject of Pogba, I hope the lad stays he seemed really good on the ball last evening and whatever training videos/reserves videos I have seen of him so far.

    Also, whats the opinion on the Veseli kid that we signed?

  • Comment number 89.

    It's not a case of United fielding their best 11 at the moment, it's a case of fielding whoever's fit! I doubt anyone has had an injury list like United's this season and been joint top in February.

  • Comment number 90.

    "83. At 09:50 1st Feb 2012, Jonny wrote:
    @73 "if you generate it you can spend it! "

    Are you suggesting that a business (which football now is) shouldn't look for investment? Facebook and Apple would have been very different stories if they had just waited till they became big organically!"

    You're comparing apples and oranges. Investment is made on the basis of getting a return. There will be no financial return for Citys investors however successful they are. I doubt Apple or Facebook would be where they are today if their investors hadn't made money from their investment.

  • Comment number 91.

    #71, salty,

    I think you're wrong there, mate.
    Kompany clattered the opponent from behind and that's a yellow card.
    In fact, questioning the referee, saying it was his 1st in the match was sort of laughable.
    Scholes clattered a Stoke player from behind, yesterday, and he also received a yellow.
    Your point is?

  • Comment number 92.

    People who are mentioning United's missing players and so forth and slating City seem to forget that United have 20 years of winning mentality and title experience, this is City's first attempt in a long time at a title run.

    No matter how much money they've spent (and don't forget the money they pay for players is always inflated), the players/club/management etc are all new to a Premier League title attempt. Experience means everything.

    I think it will be really close come the end of April

  • Comment number 93.

    Does anybody else think that Mancini is looking physically worse every week?

    If he can cope with winning Serie A he can cope with winning the EPL.

    The rest you've made up because it suits your own expectations!

  • Comment number 94.


    Milner has actually played well for the majority of the season. He is one of the most unselfish players in that squad. Lescott is only as good as the man beside him, something you wouldve noticed had you watched him play while at everton. Kolarov is better than ok, he's a threat. As for Balotelli every manager plays favorites. Adam Johnson should see much more playing time then he does. I would be picking him over Nasri when Nasri is put on the wing. Alex Ferguson has done it with Evans when he has been so undisciplined and still starts him. He's done it with Fletcher when he hasn't been up to snuff which is usually 85% of the time. Oh and Wes Brown, what a garbage player why keep him for that long? They play favourites...
    And as for Mancini mishandling Tevez??? I don't think there's anyone that would rather see Dzeko start a game over that monkey looking argentinean but at what cost? He's been so disrespectful to your club and so uncommited. Carlos Tevez isnt bigger than any PL team let alone city, but he thinks otherwise and his actions speak for themselves. I agree 100% with not letting him play.

    Mancini ended a trophy drought for you last year. Hes quickly rounded up and signed other teams star players and has enabled them to put aside ego (aside from Balotelli) and perform as a team in a rather short period of time, hence city having the best start to a PL campaign by any team ever. He's dealt with drama queens like MB and CT and hasn't put up with their sh*t. Don't get me wrong here because I can't stand the guy for all the whining he does, but you make it sound as if even you could do better?! You should drop off a resume...

    "This season Man Utd are well away from the quality they had a few years ago"

    We are? We have basically the same damn team as "a few years ago"


  • Comment number 95.

    @84 I do have a point, which is funnily enough why I wrote it. Whether you agree with it or not it doesn't invalidate the fact I have a point.

    City have spent quickly, and now have stopped. We were catching up with the competition. United and Chelsea, and Liverpool and Spurs to some extent, have spent huge amounts also. I won't deny City have spent more, but the only team in the top few who are blameless on this front are Arsenal.

    Looking at the dates the United players arrived it makes them seem even more expensive. £30m in 2002...what's that in todays money and market.

    And it's Jonny, not Johnny. The spelling was just above the post.

  • Comment number 96.

    @Really Real .. You are a Wigan fan... says it all really. Is it true that the last home team to win at the DW was Wigan Warriors RL even though they have just finished their off season? Anyway back to the point, to say Carrick isn't a regular 1st teamer is laughable. Since joining United he has been one of the mainstays of the midfield and won the league 4 times in 5 seasons.. Not bad for someone ritually goaded. the list reads 11 Squad members out.. I would say 8 or 9 are regulars as can't particularly count Owen and obviously one of the 2 keepers would miss out, Cleverley is still breaking through but obviously is highly rated by SAF. Put it aniother way. Take out Keeper (DDG/AL), Captain/Central Defender (Vidic) , main provider (Nani), star striker (Rooney) and see how City, Spurs, Chelsea or even Liverpool would cope.

    @Salty .. Balotelli wasn't carded for his tackle on Parkers head he was caught on camera.

  • Comment number 97.

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

  • Comment number 98.


    he has an injury.

  • Comment number 99.

    #64 edward streltsov ghost

    That's right, ed! Nasri only hit the bar twice last night and currently sits third in the Assists table, having led it for a long spell. Just think what he'll be like when he works harder!

    As for your reference to United's conveyor belt of brilliant youngsters, why can't you lift a lethargic finger to the mouse and check your facts? Namely:

    United's U18 Academy are sixth in their league with 18 points, two more than the bottom club Crewe.

    And at the top with 35 points is....(I thought you'd never ask).....

    I guess objectivity is irrelevant for a ghost...

  • Comment number 100.

    The 2 biggest issues for City are the manager, who is far too negative, and not how much they have spent but who they have spent it on.
    Mancini has gradually gone backwards in his tactics after thrashing everyone early season, it is as though that scares him too much and would rather win 1-0 defensively than go out and steamroller teams. They are capable but seem unable or unwilling to do it and that must be the managers mentality filtering down.
    Also, they may have spent hundreds of millions but look at what they have? Yaya Toure, Silva and Aguero have been good signings and are worth the money, But Milner? Barry? Lescott? Nasri? Dzeko? Clichy? Kolarov? The list goes on. these players are average at best and offer nothing to the team. The midfield is ponderous, lacking invention and pace without Toure getting forward, Silva seems scared to pass to anyone because they are so far below his level and Aguero, good as he is, simply can't play up top with a striker like Dzeko offering nothing. Defensively, Kompany clearly holds them all together as they were a shambles without him. the likes of Lescott needs someone to hold his hand and Savic is so poor for any prem club, let alone a title chasing team.
    City may get away with it this year and win the prem but only because of the averageness of the rest of the league. If Utd, Chelsea and Spurs add a couple fo quality additions to their teams in the summer, City will go backwards without the right man in charge bringing in the right players.


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