Category Archives: Manchester City

Small reactions don’t matter Andre – time for change?

After the Newcastle defeat Andre Villas-Boas had another defeat to go into an international break where many of his new players jetted off to represent their countries. That defeat put our season so far into perspective. A poor first half in which after a bright start we conceded and then couldn’t really get going followed by a second half in which we threw the kitchen sink at them only for the keeper to continue his fine first half ending up with 14 saves.

Krul was great there is no denying that but two of our best chances in that second half were struck straight at the keeper and one clearance from a free kick would be sliced into the net 8 out of 10 times. Sometimes games go like that and you could excuse it if we were scoring freely in the remainder of our fixtures. Unfortunately that is not the case and so when you hear interview comments like the “result was unfair on Spurs” you can be forgiven for thinking that we’re losing the plot.

The real issue that never seemed to be tackled was whether we would have played in the manner we did in the second half had we done better and gone in at 0-0 in the first? It was my opinion that we wouldn’t have done so and that this therefore points to the serious flaws in the Head Coaches tactics.

Our concession of the goal was pretty typical of our sloppiness. As I recall (and WindyCOYS will probably confirm) Dembele lost control of the ball and instead of letting the ball run out for a throw stopped it on the line conceded possession, we got it back, booted it into the centre circle where Paulinho gave up on a 50/50 ball allowing a ball to be played through the defence leaving Remy to sprint into the space provided by the high line round the keeper and score.

I was told as we left at the end that Lloris would have been out quicker but we should remember that he was sidelined after risking his life at Everton. So another disappointing afternoon left us looking at three uphill fixtures and little time to prepare for them.

So what do I think is wrong? When appointed I recall hearing about a high line and pressing game. I hate the high line and I don’t think it can work in an English style game because so many 50/50 balls exist. If I am defending I’m looking at the opponents goal and if I don’t win that ball there is space behind me for my opponent to run into while I turn around and give chase. 

We just don’t press. Teams press us and we can’t function. Well maybe apart from Sandro. We play the midfield deep and too many don’t participate when we haven’t got the ball. If we were to press Paulinho, an AVB favourite, would be seen in shot much more often. For me he is a problem. He arrives in the box too late to consider his attempt and often misses and doesn’t appear to have any change of pace. But he keeps getting picked. 

Then our lack of urgency is a massive problem. All season our build up play has been slow and laboured and most of the time it is like a practice match. We can’t keep this up and furthermore we have to ask our midfield to do more and our defenders to do less. Midfield players have to take responsibility and try and carve out opportunities rather than just push and move. That shouldn’t mean trying to do too much as Townsend has done but it also means being a bit more adventurous than the remainder currently are. 

We’ve played too many players out of position or used tactics that haven’t involved some of our players in games at all. As a consequence we end up not being fluent when we do go forward and it also allows our opponents to get the whole team back to defend our attempt when it comes. On top of that our substitutions rarely provide the desired effect with the replacement often not getting a kick.

Then we can’t score. But do you score if you don’t play tactics that help the type of strikers we have. 

So after a number of difficult performances the players look to have a level of anxiety about them and don’t want to try things in case it robs them of their place in the side. In many respects an unfortunate international injury might have proved a positive thing and Eriksen was the man who got it. If we recall when Modric got injured Kranjcar came in and played a run of games culminating in a great performance against Man City at the Lane when he scored twice. That was probably because he knew the chance to show was his and after Modric came back Niko was never the same. 

So as we came into today’s game against Manchester City Holtby had the shirt and possibly for a period of time whilst Eriksen recovers giving us the chance to see what he can do. Unfortunately he only lasted the half – though he wasn’t the worst – so we are no closer to knowing. Nothing learned there then.

The team itself saw Lennon return to the right – a big benefit in my mind – and Lamella come onto the left. I saw him play against Tromso and he looked awful though the club have said he does need time and he did little to tell me they were mistaken in this thought. The team was based upon those players who had been at the club during the break allowing those who had travelled some extra time. 

So was Capoue not available to partner Sandro and rule out the early City threat? Clearly not but overall it looked a decent side. But that wasn’t the case and once again we showed the Nation how bloody awful we can be. 15 seconds was all it took for us to get the ball into our net following a kick off with a goal as crass as the one at The Emirates when Fabregas scored from our kick off. 

Kaboul wasn’t ready, Lloris wasn’t ready none of us were ready. But to be fair we stuck to our task and created a chance which we maybe should have converted before asking Hugo to have another go with similarly farcical results. Then to cap it off we concede a third before half time to leave us all shell shocked and many of us pleased we didn’t try for tickets.

Andre is not the first manager who has conceded a number of goals in a period of play but he is the first one for some time that has absolutely no chance of getting a couple back so by half time the game was gone. If changes were needed then we needed to plug the defence so that the Norwich score wasn’t beaten. 

But no, Adebayor comes out for the second half taking the place of Holtby. We did this against West Ham replacing Eriksen with Soldado and that was a mistake. How do you create chances for two strikers when you haven’t done that for a sole striker when you are taking off the playmaker to get the second striker on? It just can’t work – well it doesn’t for us. Throughout AVB’s reign we have brought on another striker – normally JD – and often they haven’t had a kick at the goal for the 30 minutes they’ve been on. Bale covered this up with his goals but without him it’s there for all to see.     

The second half shouldn’t be dwelled on too much. Suffice it to say they missed as many good chances as they scored and we should have conceded more than the 8 at Derby in 1976 and I think big Pat was in goal for that one. But did we do any better? 

Andre thinks we had a reasonable period after the fifth goal and Dembele was OK when he came on. That’s as maybe but by then City were satisfied and allowed the pace to slow to our comfortable level but when they upped it again the sixth went in. 

There is no doubt that today was not good enough and as a result we have to go back to the drawing board and reconsider everything about our style of play to determine what we can salvage before the top 4 and maybe even the Europa League are too far away. I am not a great fan of AVB and I don’t think that he will be able to turn it around but I would love him to prove me wrong. 

Today’s defeat must make him realise that he is not only barking up the wrong tree but that the players will be starting to lose heart with tactics that are clearly not working. This is the second big side we have played away and no points no goals and seven conceded is where we thought we were getting away from. At Chelsea he didn’t recognise these signs and paid with his job. Has he learned his lesson? He may try to show he has but does he know any other way to play? I don’t think that he does and that’s a big elephant in the room.

Business issues also exist. West Ham started development work on the Olympic Stadium last week. Sainsburys is now open in Tottenham and our own development needs to start taking place. We need someone to sponsor the Stadium and they won’t rush in whilst we are in disarray, not winning or playing attractive football. That’s  a problem as the board will not want our capacity to be third highest in our area. 

So my message to Andre tonight is to seriously think about changing his tactics to improve our play and give us more chances to score. Without that I think we will be looking for a new manager quite soon. If he concedes to such demands and fails at least he will be giving it a go and the result is no worse than what awaits by continuing as he is.

In any case we need at least a draw against Man Utd and Liverpool in our upcoming games. Both are home games and we should be looking for 6 points. Without Ferguson I thought we could beat United but from what I’ve seen this season I’m no longer sure. As I said earlier Andre, prove me wrong.  

Advertisements

Gutted! Manchester City 3 Tottenham Hotspur 2

The disappointment of cruel late defeat lingers long and Spurs fans have long been used to it. But today’s defeat with 18 seconds left on the clock is really upsetting, particularly as we had got back into a game that was dead and gone when Manchester City were 2 up after a three minute spell that tore us apart. 

Yet only 7 minutes later the scores were level as first Defoe capitalised upon a defensive mistake and then Bale produced an amazing strike to rock City to the core. Our second half performance was truly excellent and had Defoe been able to turn Bale’s cross into the net at the end of the game we would have taken the points. 

So a six point turn in three minutes leaves us still in third with United still to conclude their own game. Losing two points at home last week took us off the pace and this defeat leaves it to City to get us back into title contention. Yet for me we played like Champions. 

In the first half we controlled much of the game and kept City to a couple of half chances. The only problem was that we did not get the opportunity to use our pace much to put City under pressure. 

My suggested line ups omitted Lennon but he played and did well throughout before giving up to Pienaar with time running out. We stuck to our usual 4-4-1-1 with Kaboul keeping his place in central defence. He fully justified this and was a colossus at the back. The strength in his neck to produce headers of the distance he achieve was phenomenal and for much of the game we looked pretty comfortable.  

When the sloppy period arrived Walker was lost momentarily by Nasri who then fired home an excellent opening goal leaving Friedel with no chance. If you lose to a goal like that you can’t complain too much but it inspired City to step on the pace and within a couple of minutes it was two as they exposed our lack of height in defence for the one and only time to force the ball home from a corner.  

My immediate thought was this game is gone and it could be tricky from here but as if by magic Savic gifted a ball to Defoe who rounded Hart and slotted home from a tight angle. It wasn’t on the cards but we grabbed the chance with both hands and got ourselves going. Unfortunately the City fans didn’t appear to be doing the Poznan at the time and the wait continues to see a goal conceded whilst their backs face the pitch.

From that point our confidence rose and we took the offensive to City. Lennon out on the left cut inside and played a delightful ball to Bale whose first time shot was of such quality that Hart might as well have watched it go past him into the top corner. 

Our fight back complete the game continued end to end with both sides searching for a winner. Rafa was brought off to allow Livermore to come on and try to close down in the midfield and his contribution justified the change which Rafa was rightly disappointed about.    

What we have to accept is that it was a penalty which will be soul destroying for Ledley who had made another super return to the side after injury. His partnership with Kaboul remained solid throughout with Brad taking control in a manner Gomes never did behind them. Walker had a good game, Parker was back on the money and competitive and Modric kept going right until the end. 

Our most disappointing player today was Benny who gave the ball up a little too easily on occasions but he didn’t have a poor game by any means. Replacing Adebayor Defoe did well and worked hard throughout.  

Much is already being made of the incident in which Ballotelli caught Parker. For me it didn’t look like a deliberate stamp but better judges than myself are suggesting it was a red. Yes he stood on Parker but was it deliberate? I wasn’t convinced and I thought his reputation earned him a booking that was maybe a little unlucky as soon as he came on.

Contrast that with Lescott who should have been booked for a bodycheck on Bale in the first half and then committed an appalling elbow on Kaboul on the edge of his own box in the second. Reputation counts highly when it comes to which players get carded and which get away with things. If City should have gone down to 10 the man to go off got away scot free unless the panel make a late decision to punish him for deliberate foul play.   

At the end the Spurs players were all gutted to lose in such a manner having given their all for 95 minutes. We couldn’t ask any more of them and I’m reminded of the League Cup final against Liverpool where Archibald missed a chance on 85 minutes and we ended up losing in extra time.  

City know they had a game today and will also know that we will be at their heels till the end of the season. All we can do is continue to amass as many points as possible between now and then to achieve our initial objective in qualifying for the Champions League and I believe that we will do it.  

3-5-2? 4-2-2-2? It’s a King size question! Man City V Spurs preview

With less than 24 hours remaining till our crucial game at Manchester City my thoughts turn to our line up, particularly the absence of Emmanuel Adebayor as a condition of his loan from our opponents. Consequently this may be the first game when Peter Crouch is missed having signed off his Spurs career in the 1-5 reverse at White Hart Lane back in August.

When he played a good part of his game was the part that related to defensive duties at set pieces and corners and Adebayor has more than made up or him since his arrival. He may not put away enough chances he does one heck of a lot of work moving the defence around taking defenders with him, conceding less free kicks than Crouch did and actively participating in defensive corners.

Whoever replaces him tomorrow will be unable to fulfil that duty. Defoe can only support on the post or sit up field and Pav is extraordinarily poor in the air in aerial challenges. Whilst this shouldn’t affect our game going forward, where it is in our interests to keep it on the deck, when we haven’t got the ball it could be a problem.

One of Harry’s biggest concerns is how he might get over this to increase our chances of keeping City out and giving us the prospect of a clean sheet. I don’t see a high scoring game if we are to win it and if the goals start to go in it is more likely to suggest another defeat to the Champions elect.

So what can we do? Firstly it depends upon the fitness of Ledley King. Whilst Harry is suggesting that Ledley might or might not train on Saturday he will be desperate to name him in the starting line up. If he does should someone drop out or do we add him to the back line?

In my opinion Kaboul has done so well that he doesn’t deserve to sit it out andDawsonwill not be dropped. So it is a decision as to whether we are brave enough to start with 3 across the back? For the reasons set out above about attackers not being able to offer assistance I think I would choose that route pushing Walker and Benny into wing back positions allowing them to add extra to the defence or be able to use their ability and pace to assist the attack.

If Ledley remains unfit then we have to continue with a 4 across the back as I doubt we will experiment with Bassong for this game despite his role in the defeat at Stoke.

Harry’s press conference also suggested that Sandro is not yet ready to play despite stepping up to outside work along with Gallas. That leaves a decision as to whether to play both Parker and Livermore. Parker had his worst Spurs performance last week but was settling back in after injury. He needed the game to prepare for this match and I expect him to be ready to put in a decent performance leading them midfield from the front.

If Ledley plays then we might keepLivermoreback and play Modric a little deeper with Parker in the middle with Van Der Vaart and Bale ahead of them. If he doesn’t then Livermore and Parker with Modric and Bale ahead of them with Rafa and Defoe further forward seems likely.

Up front I cannot see anyone else than Defoe getting the start for his pace and direct approach. As long as he can stay onside and being on the counter attack that should be easier we have to hope that he can hit the target and make Joe Hart earn his money. Pav is at his best around the edge of the box but, for me, his work rate is insufficient to make the type of contribution required.

That unfortunately sacrifices Lennon but only because I cannot see Rafa, Luka or Gareth Bale being dropped before him. That is a disappointment because for me he gives us our width and was always a decent threat with Defoe in days gone by. You can get away with a lack of width more easily away from home as we showed atNorwichbut, with no disrespect to them, this is the next level up. Nevertheless we still have Aaron from the bench should we need an injection of pace.

So to recap, a choice of sides depending upon the man with one knee (who’s better than anotherEnglandcentre back). With him:

                          Friedel

          Kaboul     Dawson      King

Walker     Parker       Modric     Benny

                 VDV       Bale

                        Defoe

 And without him:

                      Friedel

   Walker   Kaboul    Dawson    Benny

            Livermore      Parker

                 Modric    Bale

                  VDV

                          Defoe

But what do I know I am sure you have a variety of other line ups in your mind. Whatever, lets hope for a great result tomorrow. Without YaYa and Kompany I fancy our chances are improved and hopefully we can put the cat in amongst the pigeons and put pressure on United to win.

Come on You Spurs make us proud!