Yesterday’s win over Spurs was vital. Not just the 3 points which kept the pressure on United after their superb away win at Villa, but the message our victory sends out. Here, I take a look at some of the main talking points of the 2-1 home win.
1 – City showed superb appetite to win
After the week our club has had – with the Ajax defeat and the crap that’s been written about Mancini – going one nil down at home to Spurs was the last thing we needed. How easy it would have been to wilt under such intense pressure. Spurs are good side, who are particularly suited to counter-attacking football away from home. Their away record last season was superb – their best for many years – and they have continued that this time around. Being behind felt like a catastrophe.
But not once did our players shirk the job of recovering. They fought hard and continued to press for goals. This, I feel, was the most encouraging aspect of the win: the determination to win the match in such a difficult context.
2 – Maicon
I was perplexed when we signed Maicon, and then even more utterly confused after seeing his first couple of performances. Why on earth had we bought an old player in a position we were particularly well stocked? Yesterday, we may have just got the answer.
He played so high up the pitch when he came on it was unbelievable. It seems Mancini sees that his aging legs may not allow too many ninety minutes, and that those legs won’t carry him up and down the line in the way they did at Inter. So, instead, we just allowed him to play high and unsettle their left-hand side. It worked a treat. Bale, who was kept quiet throughout, was forced to defend, and Maicon sent in a series of excellent deliveries. Using him in this way may just make him a good signing.
3 – Tactics
Best way to answer your critics is prove them wrong. Mancini has been pilloried for going 3 at the back in certain games, the premise of those criticisms being that it just doesn’t work. Yesterday we went 3 at the back and Tottenham couldn’t cope.
4 – Special mention for Zabaleta
For me, there’s no better sight than seeing blood pouring from Zaba’s head during a match in which he’s giving a stellar performance. It sums him up perfectly. That’s what we got yesterday.
Never, in all my years as a City fan, have I had the pleasure of watching a man with such heart and fight. The way he has started this season, he’s staking a serious claim for our Player of the Year award.
5 – The Dzeko debate rages on
Do his goals justify a starting berth? Or is he a great sub? I think the latter. I believe he has technical deficiencies but clearly when he comes on he causes the opposition problems. His winning goals against Fulham, West Brom and Spurs, plus the equaliser against Southampton, have been absolutely vital.