Tuesday, 27 September 2011

City Learning The Fine Art Of Winning Ugly

Manchester City trudged off the field at Eastlands on Saturday perhaps feeling a tad underwhelmed. After some rather spectacular, free-flowing performances their 2-0 win against Everton didn’t quite match up. They did however get the three points and in these kind of games that can be all that matters.

Everton came to Eastlands with the express intention of not being turned over. Not being thrashed, doing their upmost not to concede. They adopted these tactics to an extreme so that it began to look like they didn’t even want to score themselves. A claim which David Moyes angrily refuted after the game. The evidence in the previous 90 minutes though was somewhat hard to deny.

The Toffees created a solid wall which City strived and eventually succeeded in breaking down. It was not easy though. Everton harried, pestered and jockied for the duration. City though proved they have what it takes to win on an occasion like this. They remained patient yet persistent. Their 2-0 victory will not live in the memory but it does mark a transition. A transition that could be vital in the title race.

The goals scored by City were elegant to watch, albeit via a deflection. David Silva was at his imperious best but this was more a performance of substance than style.

For years Manchester rivals United have been winning ‘ugly’. The red side have given lessons sitting in 4th gear, working hard and grinding out the result. City in previous years have not done this. Despite having powerful utilities such as De Jong, City have too often being found wanting when faced with a physical, resilient force in previous seasons. When things weren’t quite going the Citizens way they did not have the mental steel to create the right result. That now appears to be changing.

There are going to be many occasions now where City are going to face these kind of matches. Their start to the season shows that they are well and truly title contenders. That means that teams will be happy to come to Eastlands and leave with a draw, a 0-0. It’ll be the test of City to break these teams down. If they can pick up the narrow victories in these games you have to think they will be in the final shake-up come May.

The old adage stands true, winning matches when you’re not on top form is the mark of the champions. Over the last 6 years the likes of United and Chelsea have done this whereas Arsenal generally have not. The difference? 7 Premier League trophies between United/Chelsea and absolutely none for the Gunners.  This early start for Manchester City is undoubtedly promising but let’s not forget we have a long way to go this season.

Some may have seen the title of this post and immediately thought of Carlos Tevez. Whilst being no oil painting the Argentine was not intended to be the subject matter of this prose. There is not even much face-time for Carlos at Eastlands recently. If you had said a year ago that City don’t need Tevez you’d of probably been sniggered at. The fact that it seems that they now don’t need him shows how far they’ve come. The signing of Aguero and the resurgence of Dzeko has reduced the Argentinean ‘s influence greatly. Whilst Tevez’s talent remains, City’s reliance on him does not. I think if they get the right deal in January for him then he shall leave. City are no longer a one-man-team and they can now afford to let that one man go.

As I have said it is still very early days in the Premier League race. What I have also said (in previous posts) is do not underestimate the detrimental effect playing in the Champions League can have on Manchester City. City have only dropped league points this season after a fairly unspectatcular Champions League match. As the games start to come thick and fast it will be a real challenge for them to maintain their title push. Especially considering few of the players have solid experience in fighting for both the big trophies week in, week out.

For now though City can be rather satisfied with their early start. Whether it was tearing apart Tottenham or grinding it out against Everton, the rewards are the same. Have they got what it takes to grab the big reward in May 2012? Perhaps they do.  


  1. I think it is too early to write Tevez off. I know Aguero/Dzeko have had good starts but that doesn't mean it'll continue all season.

    I think you are completely right about the Everton match though. We wouldn't of won that 2 seasons ago. Definitely ready for a title push.

  2. It's been a problem for Spurs the last few years. Teams come to White Hart Lane for a draw and too often we can't break them down. Draws at home to Blackpool, West Brom, West Ham and defeat to Wigan last season isn't good enough and proves that the best teams need to have that killer instinct.