Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Thoughts on Manchester City defeat

There was a moment last night, at around the 80th minute, which encapsulated how it feels to be a Liverpool fan right now.

Struggling to get a touch of the ball at 3-0 down, the wind blew the torrential rain into the faces of those who had the heart to stay after Tevez’s penalty. Hoods went up, heads went down; when it rains, it pours. Soon after, the City fans sang a ditty to their affluent deity who watched from the stand.

‘Sheikh Mansour, Sheikh Mansour’

If any City fan is reading this, don’t worry – this isn’t a dig at your team and how you’ve supposedly ruined football. Football had already become as polluted as the Mersey before Mansour spilt a couple of barrels of oil into it.

And it’s not as if we haven’t sung the names of our owners on the Kop, either. But where the City fans sang in adoration, we do so in anger; their happiness is the anthithesis of our hatred.

The fact that they’re rich and we’re poor is not what is to be lamented. Football has never been a sport for the socialist. Just ask Javier Mascherano.

It’s the fact that two teams from working class cities, historically supported by working class fans, feel the need to sing the names of footballing plutocracy.

Defeat to City

For Liverpool fans, any on-the-pitch criticism has to be made with the ownership situation in mind. Circumstances are problematic for Roy Hodgson, just like they were for his predecessor. It doesn't mean the team, nor the manager, can be exempt from it though. An eye on the ball airborne after a Carragher punt doesn't necessarily mean the other one is off-the-ball elsewhere.

  • The squad is still taking shape and Roy hasn't been in charge long enough to fully implement his style of play. Early hints as to what that style will be is slightly troubling, though.
  • Playing 4-4-2 away to Manchester City showed a surprising naivety from a manager as experienced as Roy, especially with Gerrard alongside Lucas. Perhaps Mascherano's refusal to play forced Roy's hand, much like it did to Rafa's in Fiorentina last season. That aside, City's strength was always going to be in midfield as Mancini enjoys packing it with tough-tackling, hard-working, experienced players. Last night's trio: Nigel De Jong, Gareth Barry and Yaya Toure.
  • Two midfielders against those three was always going to result in City controlling the game and enjoying possession - something we, as Liverpool fans, are more accustomed to seeing from our own side. Gerrard and his tactical indiscipline when playing in the centre of midfield meant Lucas was overran by three very good midfielders. The first goal was the perfect exemplar. No one tracked Milner's run from Adam Johnson's ball inside, and no one tracked Barry's burst into the box.
  • Man City were good, but their fans should be wary of regarding this as the moment they 'arrived' given they were playing against a transitional side in an unfamiliar formation. I thought Adam Johnson impressed, albeit against a makeshift left-back - not that that's an excuse, because Lescott is regarded in a similar vein and we failed to capitalise on that. Tevez was his usual busy self, the midfield were good (although as previously explained, Roy's selection made things easier) and Joe Hart continues to impress me immensely.
  • Formation aside, we set up similar as we did against Arsenal and Trabzonspor. We let our opponents have plenty the ball and looked to counter. There has to be hope that this is not the only way we're capable of, as we look a much better side when we press and try to control the tempo of the game. I hate to label a side's style but we look very defensively set-up at the moment - Glen Johnson's reticence to venture over the halfway line is symptomatic of that.
  • Man-to-man marking: the new zonal marking? We've struggled with it since we've adopted it. It's worth keeping in mind that we had similar problems with zonal marking six years ago and it takes time for players to adapt to the new system. I doubt Tevez's first goals happens if we adopt zonal marking. Just proves that one is not necessarily better than the other, and certain sides suit different set-ups. We just have to hope Roy finds out what that is for this set of players and adapts accordingly.
  • Daniel Agger looked like a centre back playing left back, funnily enough. His insistence of showing Adam Johnson inside onto his stronger foot was infuriating - Johnson had threatened several times in the first ten minutes, but the warning signs were ignored. Both Barry's goal and the penalty award were a result of it.
  • David N'Gog is a great striker for £1.5 million but he should not be partnering Fernando Torres in a 4-4-2. Strike partnerships rarely work with two out-and-out strikers; one usually drops deep (the no.10) while the other is the goalscorer (no.9). Without that link between the strikers, and with Gerrard playing deeper, it means we struggle to give them the service. But above all else, Torres relishes playing alone up front.
  • Positives from the night? There were few. We looked sharp for a short period in between their second and third goals, and we could have nicked an undeserved goal if Joe Hart wasn't so sharp. The pie wasn't too bad, and Brad Jones' white boots looked quite interesting during his half-time warm up, as well. I suppose things can only get better from here as well, can't they? For the sake of our away-day sanity, we certainly hope so.

1 comment:

  1. Well said. As a City supporter, I respect your ability to keep perspective during a frustrating time for your club. I'm definitely hoping you lot can find a better ownership situation, and that things turn up for you soon. You do have a lot going for you, outside of that.