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City v Blackburn: Verdict

13 Sep 2010 08:37:18

| Submit Comments| Comments (121)| Printable Version1/1Play SlideshowClose MapBaciato dalla grazia. That?s what the Italians used to say about Roberto Mancini. It means he is ?kissed by good fortune? and refers to the belief that the City manager enjoyed some good luck on his way to being a triple Serie A champion with Inter Milan. It appears this season that good fortune isn?t even prepared to give Mancio a quick peck on the cheek, never mind a sultry smooch. Three of his six summer signings have been denied to him by injury with barely a ball kicked. A fourth, David Silva, has shown he needs time to adapt to the frenzy of the Premier League. The goalkeeper who has taken the number one spot for City and England by storm, and been showered with bouquets and compliments came up with a calamitous moment. Yesterday?s England man Paul Robinson, by harsh contrast, chose Saturday to remind everyone of what a top-class goalkeeper he was in his heyday, ably assisted by the post. Adam Johnson, who has become almost prolific for England, found his finishing skills deserting him for the Blues. He also found referee Mark Clattenburg in myopic mood as he failed to spot the large hand of Chris Samba placed squarely in the back of Johnson as the ebullient winger danced his way through a seemingly impenetrable wall of defenders. Blame That all added up to a day of frustration for City, and a haunting reminder of the first half of last season, when teams like Blackburn would come to Eastlands, bloody-minded and Bolshie, and troop off with a point.It was days like these, not losses to United or Spurs, which ultimately cost City a Champions League place. But Mancini is more aware than most that he cannot simply blame bad luck. He is trying to impose his own Italian mentality and personality on the team, but constantly finds himself thwarted by daft old habits. Slinging high balls towards Carlos Tevez is pointless at the best of times. When he is being marked by a defender with a built-in stepladder, it becomes inexcusable. City attacks also lack pace too much of the time. Mancini wants certitude in possession, and patience in the build-up, and he is usually getting them. The Blues had nearly 70 per cent of possession against Rovers, about as dominant as it gets. But too often the precision was not matched by the incision, and the lack of pace and zip meant it was easy for an industrious Blackburn to re-grou­p and find their shape again. These are things that take time to perfect, especially when the squad has been overhauled, as it was in the summer. And when Nigel de Jong picked up a deadleg in the last moment of Friday training, and Gareth Barry gets a rest following his England exertions, the re-shuffle further disrupts any attempts to find rhythm and rhyme. The final whistle brought disgruntlement, much of it directed at Clattenburg, with some justification. But an hour earlier, such an outcome seemed unlikely. Johnson had begun the match in the kind of stunning form which has turned him from World Cup reject into future England legend. With James Milner shifted into his favoured central position, the two young Englishmen seemed to be forging an unstoppable alliance, with Shaun Wright-Phillips looking bright and lively on the left. Only the flailing hands of Robinson, and a misdirected curling shot stopped Johnson from adding to his two-goals-in-two international tally. Vincent Kompany?s deflected header hit a post from a Johnson corner, and it appeared to be only a matter of time before City made a breakthrough. Instead, Mancini?s old amour Lady Luck decided now was the moment to blow a raspberry at him, just as he was starting to pucker up. Hope It was the kind of moment  which managers can do nothing. Hart has to take the majority of the blame. He needed to allow his centre back Kolo Toure to deal with a hopeful punt which landed yards outside his box. Toure was surprised to see his keeper thundering out of his area, and then trying to deal with the ball. He failed to do so, and the ball fell fortuitously for Kalinic to knock into the net. This was a timely reminder that even the best keepers need to keep their composure and judgment. At Sunderland, a horrendous error at the other end knocked the stuffing out of the Blues, as Tevez?s open-goal miss induced a state of shock from which the team did not emerge. The feeling was similar after Hart?s gaffe, and on-loan United man Mame Biram Diouf should have doubled the lead as the defence reeled. Johnson faded from the picture, Milner?s passing went awry, and Tevez looked like a man who had recently stepped off a plane from Argentina which, of course, he had. In the second half it seemed that Tevez?s body clock had suddenly been synchronised, and he buzzed around the Rovers defence, probing and pushing. When he found space on the right of the box, he wasn?t about to waste it. The gag in the corridors afterwards was that he had to hold the ball up for five minutes while Patrick Vieira hauled his ageing frame forwards into the area. But haul he did, and the cross was perfect for the Frenchman to turn in from close range. Minutes later Tevez had a shot deflect off a post, then another deflected just wide, while sub Gareth Barry brought a flying save from Robinson. The moment when Mancini possibly realised his love affair with Dame Fortune was over came when Tevez?s persistence teed up sub Jo, a couple of yards out. His side-foot might have broken the net, when a little more subtlety was needed. Penalty appeal aside, that was that, and Eastlands subsided into grumbling curses, some for Clattenburg, some for Mancini and his players, some for the unfaithful Lady. All three shoulder the blame equally.| Submit Comments| Comments (121)| Printable VersionAdd A CommentEnter your comments:Sending


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