£300 million for boring football!
October 4th 2010 15:49
I am not in a position to question Roberto Mancini's tactics. The Italian won three consecutive domestic titles at Inter Milan. He guided Manchester City to 5th place in his first season, and now they are 2nd early this season, inside his first twelve months in the job. However, I do know one thing. If I bought a Premier League football team, and pumped £300 million into new players, I would want to be entertained. I would not want to see a team packed with holding midfielders, playing counter attacking football, at home against a newly promoted club.
Yes, of course, different tactics are needed against different teams. Man City's narrow midfield trio of Gareth Barry, Patrick Vieira and Nigel De Jong, kept the champions at bay, and ensured that vital 1-0 win against Chelsea last week. Their midfield is so defence minded, Yaya Toure was playing off the lone striker. However, having watched them play three times this week on TV, it seems this wasn't a decision to play this way against Chelsea, but to play this way against everyone. If Barcelona or Real Madrid set out this way at home against a newly promoted side, their manager would not only get sacked, but probably shot. If Man City had started the likes of Silva, Milner, Johnson, Tevez, Adebayor, Santa Cruz and Jo, against Newcastle, they would have ripped us a part. But their negative attitude gave us a chance.
The reason Chelsea are champions, is because they have the cutting edge to put teams away. Anelka, Malouda, Drogba and Lampard all start when fit, and all have goals in them. Chelsea have already won 6-0 twice this season, and it is a similar story with Manchester United and Arsenal, and arguably even Tottenham. Manchester City will not thrash teams playing this way. It is not the plan. Mancini seems very content, to win 1-0, even if it is Blackpool at home.
I know there will be people reading this thinking; 'so what, its working? They are second in the league'. Yes, it is working. But that is because of one player, Carlos Tevez. Luckily for City, in the early parts of this season, the Argentinian has scored enough goals to scrape them three points time and time again. But anyone who has watched just a bit of football in their lives, know that every striker has a dip in form. Mancini can not go all season expecting to keep clean sheets, and Tevez grabbing a goal and earning the three points. There will come a time when Tevez will go five, six games without scoring. Then what?
I'm shocked that I'm posting this to be honest. When the billionaire owners took over, I worried City would go the other way. I thought they would sign no end of attackers, have no balance in their side, and every game would finish 5-4. To be fair, at first they did. Mark Hughes signed Santa Cruz, Jo, Bellamy, Robinho and Adebayor. While these players haven't exactly set the world alight at Eastlands, at least they are exciting players. If I was the man putting the money into Manchester City, and I flew across the world to watch them play Newcastle on Sunday, would I be happy with the 2-1 win? NO!
There is a suggestion though, that once summer signing Mario Balotelli is fit, Mancini may change tactic. At least with the Italian teenager and Tevez in the side, there would be two men going for goals. But with the likes of Johnson and Silva getting named amongst the subs every week, I can't help but wonder whether the fans are really happy to watch Vieira, De Jong, Barry and Toure slug it out in midfield. Yes, to win titles you have to win ugly. But that is sometimes, not all the time. Success is of course the priority, but if the money at Real Madrid and Chelsea is anything to go buy, success without entertainment is not enough.
Personally, I think Manchester City need to stop playing such a negative, and defensive team. They have attackers in their squad that any team in the world would dream of having, and need to use them. Holding midfielders do not win titles, goals do!
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