Sigh. New manager, some new players, same old story. These things happen in football, but the glass-half-empty part of me (which is basically all of me) would argue that United would never go to a promoted side, play that bad, and lose. In reality they’ve probably done it plenty of times, but it doesn’t make it any less annoying.
But if you are going to put in a stinker of a performance like this, then early in the season is the time to do it. There’s plenty of time to put right the wrongs. City have two fixtures coming up that they should win, so if they respond in the correct manager, as they surely must, then the damage can be limited for now.
Maybe stinker is a slight overreaction. City were not THAT bad – this was not reminiscent of Southampton last season. Hopefully no match will ever be reminiscent of Southampton last season. But City certainly under-performed, and key players didn’t play to their full ability. Yes Cardiff were excellent, but there is no excuse for the City players not being either. If City’s players play to the full extent of their ability, then they win, and unless they do this consistently, then it will be another frustrating season. The match was lost to individual mistakes, as once again a domination of possession was not converted into goals.
One journalist commented that Pellegriini’s halo had slipped, because it seems keeping a low profile and acting like a gentleman is now a crime. This is all a learning curve for him of course, and he should have the team beside him to learn quickly, but like any match, it’s down to the players once the whistle blows. Pellegrini could be criticised for playing Silva out of position or starting with Dzeko but he can’t help the sloppiness of some of the players, unless the preparation was not up to scratch.
Dzeko’s apparent wonder-goal seemed to justify his inclusion once more, but the fact is it may have gone wide if it hadn’t taken a handy deflection – Dzeko still deserves credit as deflections are part of the game and it was still a hard, direct shot after finding space, and at least he was prepared to shoot, unlike others who still persist in trying to walk the ball in sometimes. But I do wonder why Negredo has been overlooked, and personally I’d prefer him in the team. He’ll miss chances but I think he gets involved more and will score as many goals.
It’s too early to be panicking. A new manager means new ideas, such as a change from zonal-marking, and it may take time for players to adapt. For all the mocking of United’s managerial appointment and their buffoonery in the transfer market, it could work in their favour in the coming months, as Moyes can carry on where Ferguson left off with a settled team playing in a similar way to before. City’s need to adapt could cost more points down the line. Chelsea too struggled against Aston Villa last week with their new-but-not-so-new manager, but they got away with it.
The automatic response is to blame City’s makeshift central defence and to pour more scorn on Javi Garcia. I doubt Garcia will ever make a success of his time at City but he was not to blame for this defeat, nor Lescott. Bar a panicky period prior to half-time, they did not do a whole lot wrong.
Likewise Joe Hart. Another s**tstorm will have descended on him today, and it is clear “Itchy & Scratchy” has had rocky moments over the past year, but he was not City’s worst performer against Cardiff, and saved City twice in the first half and then saved superbly prior to their equalizer. Greater criticism should be directed at Pablo Zabaleta and to a lesser extent David Silva and Sergio Aguero, but some players are pretty immune from criticism at City. Silva’s passing was shocking at times, Aguero offered little, and others failed to shine. I doubt the truth in the old adage that the players thought they only had to turn up to win, as I cannot comprehend any player thinking that against a fellow league team at their ground.
However, no doubt the search for a new defender will continue this week, and it’s a search that’s beginning to resemble United’s methods this summer, a sweep of players that is becoming increasingly desperate. Though that’s only if you believe what you read in the press.
So in a season of many acts, City have messed up Act I. With the gentlest of starts to the season, coupled with United’s tricky fixture list, this was an opportunity to steal a march on our neighbours. Now we face the possibility of United coming through their tricky fixtures ahead of City in the table, or at least level. They have two tricky games of course, so only time will tell, and I will be forced to support Chelsea on Monday night because I could never support United, even if Chelsea were the bigger threat, and also because the thought of losing to the title to Chelsea is more palatable. A draw would do I guess.
I was camping over the weekend so thankfully missed what I imagine was a pretty suicidal Twitter timeline, especially when you factor in the taunts of money not buying you success from rival fans. Still, I can state categorically that the Yorkshire Dales are very beautiful indeed. Alcohol continues to dull the pain of a City horror-show.
Cardiff City’s chairman looks like a complete ****.
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