Wednesday, January 20, 2010

City 2 - 1 United

I thought at the half-way stage of the tie that both sides would be still be in with a great chance of progressing through at Old Trafford next week.

And so it proved in an engaging contest that given the two-legged format lacked a little of the urgency and bite normally associated with Derby contests. At times we were good, at other points were very bad yet if Roberto Mancini can continue of habit of finding wins in this vein he may well have a job for some time.

It was a victory that didn't appear likely in the early stages as a poor opening . It was as if Roberto Mancini had delivered his team talk in Italian such was the unsettled and confused performance as the side appeared completely befuddled by their instructions. Mancini was looking to deny United space, playing Zabaleta and Wright-Phillips almost as auxillary full-backs, whilst de Jong and Barry rarely ventured forward. The idea was to sit back and deny United and at times we were awfully deep which isolated Tevez and Bellamy. This meant possession was difficult to retain and we found it difficult to create.

The danger of going a goal behind was that such was our ineffectiveness (how many passes went astray?) we ran the risk of falling futher behind. However, slowly but surely we asserted ourselves in the tie as the side looked to get to grips with the counter-attacking instructions. Switching Bellamy to the left from his starting central position also opened up our play and we began to create.

There was no real obvious chances carved by either side, but on the stroke of half-time we were handed an opportunity when Bellamy had his shirt pulled in a replay of Micah Richards's infringement on Saturday. Once the protests had disseminated, Carlos Tevez stepped up and converted with aplomb.

It was interesting to watch Mancini from my vantage point today (3rd tier of the Colin Bell Stand). Always on the move, full of pent up energy as he barked out instructions. The number of changes to the formation he made was telling, some minor adjustments, some more obvious. The end result though was that most worked and perhaps he just might be "blessed with fortune" after all.

The decision to move Wright-Phillips in the second half to a more central position saw us get a grip of the game in the second half and after a good spell of pressure took the lead. An intelligent header from Zabaleta lead to good work from Kompany who hooked the ball across for Tevez to score his second.

We had chances to add to our lead, Wright-Phillips particularly being unlucky with Van der Sar making a smart save and United, for all their possession, were unable to create opportunities. Wayne Rooney was looking more frustrated and for those who don't think they miss Cristiano Ronaldo, think again.

Mancini added defensive reinforcements to try and protect the lead, but United were not finished. The final fifteen minutes saw some frantic, and at times desperate, defending as United sensed an equaliser. Shay Given proved his value with two or three smart blocks, Vincent Kompany was immovable in the centre of defence and the final whistle brought an outpouring of relief as the tension mounted.

If it were not for United's late spell of pressure when they finally created chances we would have been good value for the win. As it was, it was an even contest over the course of the game, but importantly we hold the lead and whilst it is only a solitary goal the significance of it at the moment feels far greater.

vote it up!

1 comment:

El Bostero said...

Something tells me you're not a big fan of Tevez.

What he did yesterday deserved a little more than what you wrote on this post. Either you really don't like the guy (but would never admit it since he's slowly becoming a legend and you don't wanna get bashed), or you need to work on your writing some more.