Mark Hughes said his players lacked professionalism
after his Manchester City millionaires were humiliated by hard-up Brighton in
the Carling Cup.
City went home with some thinking to do after the League
One side came through on penalties after securing a dramatic 2-2 draw at the
"There is a lot of focus on us at the moment but I
don't know if I'm more embarrassed than angry. "We should have been professional
enough to have seen it through."
"We are disappointed because we had a strong enough
team out there to have won this game and I thought we looked very comfortable in
the second half," (but) we missed chances after taking the lead. Once it goes to
penalties it can go either away so we mustn't dwell on this result but you never
want to go out of any competition."
And once again we fall at the graveyard hurdle that is round 2 of this competition (see previous years at Chesterfield and Doncaster), and there really is no excuse for the defeat and Hughes’s comments above explain it as well as I (or anyone else) could do.
Despite the team being shorn of a handful of first-choice players, changes were not as a wholesale as I expected, and with Robinho and Wright-Phillips not present, this was not far off what would have been classed a full-strength side not too long ago.
Mitigation could be provided by the fact that some players who came into the side were lacking match sharpness (as already seen in early UEFA games this season), coupled with a change in formation, but really that is stretching things to suggest these as deciding factors.
Despite our recent impressive form, match reports don’t suggest complacency or a lack of respect in our approach, so Hughes’s assertion that ‘we should have been professional enough to have seen it through’ is therefore likely spot on – particularly so since we let a 1-0 lead slip so late in the game.
Although we have a heavy fixture list ahead, I don’t subscribe to the view this could be a blessing in disguise in terms of reducing the fixture congestion, given that we surely had a reasonable shot at winning the competition – with lifting a trophy very much on the agenda now.
The only plus point perhaps we can take from the game is that it does perhaps temper the wild enthusiasm that has been building the past couple of weeks, and provide a reality check that despite the progress made in recent times, we are still some way off where we need to be.