The disappointment of last night’s defeat to Ajax has been keenly felt across the City fraternity. Losing to Real Madrid was bad – we were battered and threw away a lead late on – but Madrid are one of the most fearsome sides around. The Dortmund game was a horror show – we were second best in every area of the pitch. Last night’s match, though, is the real Champions League nadir for us. Ajax are not a great side by any stretch of the imagination yet we were soundly beaten 3-1. Here, I try to make sense of the match and the aftermath.
Distinct lack of fight
The most concerning aspect of the game was the absence of any desire to win on the part of our players. The media caricature of City this time last season was one of a bunch of mercenaries more concerned with their pay cheques than fighting for results. All City fans could see that was rubbish. We have a very hardworking side with some real character. However, last night, all that was missing. This game was there for the taking, especially at 1-0, but we inexplicably failed to turn up.
It’s difficult to fathom why. This is a competition that every player wants to be a part of and do well in. The motivation is there yet the will the to win is sadly lacking.
Players blaming the system
Micah Richards’ post-match interview raised eyebrows when he claimed that the squad had done very little work on the 3 at the back system. It’s worrying to hear but let’s not allow player complaints over a system cloud the real issue. Last night is a match City should be winning comfortably. We are better than Ajax in every area and it was the players lack of desire, inventiveness, and willingness to be brave in attack which ultimately cost us. There’s often a tendency to overcomplicate football and last night is a classic example. Bringing on Kolarov before Balotelli and Tevez in a game we were chasing was odd, as was playing Clichy and Milner out of position after the reshuffle. But the fact is if those players had have applied themselves, we’d have won last night. Comfortably.
Doubts over Mancini’s European abilities continue
It’s getting increasingly difficult to ignore the claims that Mancini isn’t up to it in Europe. He did nothing with Lazio in this competiton, and lost to Milan, Villarreal, Valencia and Liverpool with Inter – never progressing beyond the last-8.
Paolo Bandini said after the match: “When you lose as many [Champions league games] as he has with teams as good as Inter and City, it’s not a hex, it’s bad management.” It’s difficult to argue against him despite how much one may want to.
Lucky to have 1 point?
We all know hard our Group D this year is, it’s the toughest group I’ve ever seen drawn in the Champions League. Having said that, we are making it seem even harder than it is. In truth, we are lucky to have one point, given that against Dortmund we were second best all over.
Mancini sacking is an absurd suggestion
There was the odd mention of this on Twitter. Not going to happen.