City beat bottom-of-the-table Reading 1-0 yesterday to temporarily close the gap on United to 3 points before their draw at Swansea today saw them extend their lead to 4. It was a frustrating game in which City had to wait until the 93rd minute for the winner to arrive via the criminally underrated Gareth Barry’s head. I’ve taken a look back at some of the major points to emerge from the game.
City were poor
It has to be said that, despite dominating possession and having the majority of the chances, City’s display was lacklustre and insipid. The win away at Newcastle, where City produced passages of play reminiscent of the football we played last season, was thought to be the catalyst for consistently better displays, but this was two steps back.
Tevez and Aguero were bright but City didn’t show the same kind of urgency or vigour which saw them cut Newcastle open. We’re now pretty much at the halfway stage of the season and we have only produced fleeting moments of brilliance. We must start to move through the gears and begin burying teams like we know we’re capable of doing. At the moment we are failing to score the amount of goals our dominance in possession justifies.
Reading parked the bus
Some City fans were critical of Reading’s tactics yesterday. The away team came and set up camp on the edge of their own box, regularly leaving 8 or 9 players behind the ball in order to secure the point they so desperately craved. But who can blame them, really? They’ve been leaking goals for fun. If they’d have turned up and tried to outscore us they would have been hammered. City fans moaning are either too young to remember, or have conveniently forgotten, what it’s like to be shit. We have played the way Reading did loads of times down the years because we had too.
Having said that, any idea that City were fortunate to take the 3 points is also worthy of dismissal. We dominated the game and totally deserved the win, even if we weren’t at our best. We must become better at cracking this kind of code, though, because teams, quite rightly, employ Reading-esque tactics against us regularly. It’s up to us to react.
After a week in which he put in a solid display at Newcastle and won the African Player of the Year Award for the second year running, Yaya Toure put in another disappointing performance. We need the old Yaya back quick because he makes a big difference to us.
Gareth Barry scored the winner with his head but it was goal shrouded in controversy, if United fans on Twitter and the Reading manager, Brian McDermott, are to be believed. At first sight it looks like Barry simply climbs all over the defender, Nicky Shorey, but closer inspection leads one to think otherwise. Shorey inexplicably stops defending, closes his eyes and backs into Barry. I have no sympathy whatsoever for him on that goal.
Debut for Karim Rekik
Rekik started at left-back yesterday and gave a solid display. He didn’t offer anything like the attacking threat that Clichy offers, but he showed great maturity and will benefit massively from that game. However, there is a part of me that feels very sorry for Joleon Lescott. He could have played this game and, to my mind, he deserves to. He was brilliant last year and is so unlucky to have lost his place. Mancini clearly has one eye on the future, whilst I’m being a sentimental sod. Maybe that’s why he’s the manager and I’m not.