Sunday, April 12, 2009

City 1 Fulham 3

I think it is safe to say the race for seventh and European qualification via a league position is now gone.

A win today and we would have been right back in the mix, but todays defeat renders it inconceivable that we can now claw back a six point margin in our remaining fixtures, and you do wonder what what effect the loss will have on confidence within the side heading into Thursday's clash with Hamburg.

It was a much changed side that Mark Hughes put out today - most of it enforced, but with Robinho axed/rested (depending upon your standpoint) it meant a return for Martin Petrov following his long lay off through injury. Whilst Petrov's return was welcome it was perhaps too much to expect a seamless return to the side after such an absence.

Hughes spoke prior to the game of having a strong first eleven, but a significant drop off thereafter and I'm sure he feels his comments were vindicated by today's performance which featured a number of players who may not be amongst the first on the team sheet.

However, after going ahead - not against the run of the play, but hardly after dominating the opening stages - to lose control of what would have been a vital win is once again a disappointment. Especially so against a Fulham side who have struggled mightily away from home in recent times.

Tiredness (both mental and physical) can be cited and is justified to a degree, but the manner in which we conceded the goals was so frustrating and the defensive solidity that coincided with the arrival of Shay Given has dissipated. Going forward, apart from the tireless Stephen Ireland (backing up his own recent comments) we lacked the drive and creativity to close the game out and in some respects the ease in which Fulham came back to take all three points was ridiculously easy, having similar amounts of space and time in going forward that Hamburg enjoyed on Thursday.

It really is our last chance on Thursday now as what appeared to be a promising finish to the season could well be set for similar ignominy as we saw last season. There were plenty of empty seats at the final whistle, and for those that remained there was much dischord.

If we exit from the UEFA Cup this week, expect that dischord to increase.

vote it up!

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