Last night’s 2-2 draw with Ajax has all but ended our hopes of qualifying from Group D. We knew we had a tough group when the draw was made, but the way we have negotiated our path has been poor. Here, I take a look at some of the major points that emerged from the Ajax game.
1 – Unlucky with decisions
We weren’t great last night, not by any stretch of the imagination, but, even so, the offside ‘goal’ and penalty that wasn’t given were two disgraceful decisions that cost us. I’m not going to ignore the defending for the goals that put us two down – they were shocking goals to concede – but we should have won the match in the final moments. Aguero’s finish from Kolarov’s cross was a perfectly good goal, and Balotelli’s shirt was blatantly pulled in the box. It’s difficult to take such ineptitude from officials. Both decisions were ridiculous.
2 – Mancini losing his cool?
Despite the injustice of the decisions discussed above, the sight of Mancini going on to the pitch to remonstrate with the referee at the end of the match was unwelcome. Mancini, as we’ve seen so many times in the past, is an extremely emotional man. Many commentators and bloggers lament his tendency to wear his heart on his sleeve, claiming that it causes the club problems and unsettles things. As a City fan, I’ve never bought that. I love seeing the pain on Mancini’s face after a harsh defeat or after Tevez tried to mug him off in Munich – it shows he cares as much as I do. However, managers really shouldn’t march on to the pitch, and for that reason alone I felt his actions were misguided last night. It makes the ‘Mancini’s cracking up’ brigade’s job too easy. Everyone is trying to have a go at Mancini at the moment and he shouldn’t make it so easy for them.
3 – Summer signings playing little or no role
City’s summer transfer activity appears, at this stage at least, to be fundamentally flawed. We managed to spend £50m on a set of players who are having little to no impact on the side. With the exception of Nastasic, who continues to look like a fine prospect, the others leave me scratching my head as to exactly what they do.
Javi Garcia is a neat and tidy player who has brought an aerial threat, but his lack of pace and sharpness means games are passing him by. Scott Sinclair was a baffling move. Swansea fans, underwhelmed by his performances last season, didn’t believe City’s interest was real until the deal was rubber stamped. He has started 2 games for us and has looked like a deer in the headlights, too eager to pass the ball in order to avoid responsibility. Jack Rodwell has looked good in flashes, but a couple of glaring mistakes and games missed through injury means he has failed to have any impact. As for Maicon, he too has hardly played due to injury, but when he did he was a car crash
The fact is we lost out on our top targets and settled for less. Not good.
4 – Zonal marking
Much is made about man marking vs zonal marking at corners. Mancini favours zonal, many others, particularly Englishmen, prefer man to man. I have no idea which works best as I’ve never played at a high enough level but what I do know is that it is less about systems and more about players. Whether you are marking zonally or man to man, if your players are slow to react to the first and second balls, you’re inviting trouble. We need to look sharper when defending corners because the two goals we gave away last night we’re shocking and have played a big role in out inevitable elimination from the competition.