Sunday, 25 September 2011

Everton reaction: Balotelli, Tim Howard's goalkicks, and a trio of supersubs

For four seasons Everton have come to Manchester and taken everything.  The last time City beat them at home was courtesy of a brace from none other than Georgios Samaras, in a team that still had Nicky Weaver in goal and Stephen Jordan at left-back.  This is one reason why yesterday's result was so satisfying.  The other, contrary to the frayed nerves at the stadium yesterday, was the manner of the win.

I heard many fans at the ground yesterday saying it was City's worst performance of the season, which, as a sentiment, is worrying in itself, but it is the first time a team has set up solely to stifle City's attacking play this season - as Moyes said "I wasn't going to come here for the enjoyment of Man City."  When a team has ten men behind the ball, the football is naturally going to be played patiently and in front of the wall of defenders for the large part of the game.  

Last season, many teams came to City and adopted the same tactic - sitting behind the ball and frustrating City - and for the most part, they had some success.  So it was refreshing to see City come out on top.  The perceived one-dimensional 'Carlos Tevez reliance' that was a factor last season has gone, and whilst teams can sit on David Silva for most of the game, the fruit of our riches means that Aguero, Nasri, Dzeko or Balotelli may still cause problems.  

EMBRACE: Balotelli celebrates his goal with Mancini and coach David Platt

The decision by Mancini to put his faith in the mercurial Balotelli to be the match changer will hopefully be another grounding for the young Italian.  He was obviously delighted with his goal and produced a mature and steady performance (little tantrums excepted) that fully justified him being preferred to Tevez - who is yet to find the confidence that marked his displays last season.  Mario's ability has never been in question - he has all the tools needed to be one of the best strikers in the league - and if, it is a big if, he can consistently approach games with the right attitude, then there is no reason why he shouldn't be able to force his way into the team.  With Tevez eventually staying this summer, the renaissance of Dzeko, and the arrival of Aguero, Balotelli, for all his confidence, must have wondered how much he would feature this season, so hopefully Mancini's faith in him as match-winner should re-focus him once again.  

One of the most contentious post-match issues seems to be that of Moyes's approach to the game.  I, for one, fully expected Everton to come and defend - as many teams will this season - and Moyes does have precious few resources with which to mount a serious attacking challenge to City in a game such as this: even their previous victories, as impressive as they were, were notably dogged displays - their only two shots of the game sealed last season's victory.  Yet there are degrees to such an approach.  In previous seasons, there always seemed to be the ambition to win the game - which wasn't apparent here.  It is of little consequence to me - and I recognise teams' efforts to shut out City as a sign of respect - but the lively showing of Apostolos Vellios, when he came on, was enough to think 'would it really have dented such a defensive showing to have at least one outlet upfront?'  

However, the contrast between Tim Howard's slothful, meditative art of goalkicking before the goal and his frantic, scurrying transformation afterwards was pathetically brilliant.  It is one thing to defend from the outset, which of course is just part of football, but to waste time from the first minute is something else.  

David Silva's pass for Milner's goal was unbelievable - just when I thought the central option was closed up, or, in an inexplicable wavering of faith, I thought he might just be about to lose the ball, Milner was through for the second.  He truly is a magician.  Stubbornly followed around the pitch by Jack Rodwell, his performance was an exercise in patience and he still managed to assert his influence on the game.  

On a final note, it must be quite satisfying as a manager to bring on three substitutes - two of whom score and the other completes a clearance off the goal-line.      


  1. I did expect a bit more from Everton because they do have good players, but this was shameful. I don't think weve seen or heard of man marking since the days when they all did it to Kinkladze, and to sacrifice a player as talented as Rodwell to such a task was absolutely pathetic. This Everton will get football done away with. Well done City for sticking to playing football I just wish one or two more would display the same sort of determination and passion as Richards.

  2. havent heard of man-marking since kinkladze?? Either you havent watched a lot of football since then sitting on your armchair, or you are oblivious to the tacticts involved in football unless a commentator tells you. Probably both. It goes on all the time. Hargreaves was one of the best at it in the world when he was at bayern munich. You probably know nothing of this as i say, because you must not watch football. Very rich too from a team who done a very similar thing at the emirates, and many other places, last year with a lot better team than everton have.

  3. For the first 10-15 mins Everton were able to win the ball(i.e. make a tackle)and pass it around and looked comfortable. Then Webb decided to hand out yellow cards to Everton players for good tackles (Rodwell took all ball) then non existent tackles (Neville was nowhere near Silva when he went down as if he had been shot)Follow that with 160lb Leon Osman shoulder charing 200lb Micah Richards off the ball and Everton had no midfield players left willing to risk making a tackle and win the ball. Game over, All Everton were allowed to do by Webb was watch the game.........I bet he holidyays in Dubai this year.......All taht being said thisi was a game Everton would struggle to get anything out of even without his input.

  4. So bitter - just like Moyes.
    When I read the original blog, my main thought was how generous it was to Everton,not mentioning how overly physical they were and not making too much of their extreme negativity.
    The only reason the game was over, if it was, wasn't because of Everton's bookings, it was because of Everton's lack of a plan B, once their plan to get a nil nil draw back fired, and because playing with 11 men behind the ball is never going to create an enjoyable game. Full marks to City though, that they stuck at it, and played some lovely football, in spite of the anti-football tactics of the opposition.

  5. Still ignoring the fact you went to the emirates last year and played the exact same way but with better players??? Or conveniently overlooking that???

    Or is this just a lazy attempt at journalism from an armchair fan with no opinions of his own or answers

    Anti-football a stupid phrase for idiots who are short sighted. Would you level the same criticism at Mourinho when he went to the nou camp with Inter and got the job done??? I very much doubt it. I can guaratee as well that were the managers swapped, mancini would set up exactly the same, like he did last year. Man up and admit that at least

  6. By lack of a plan B, do you mean how to play football without being able to tackle your opponents because the best referee in the English game wont let you breath on your opponents, but lets them throw elbows into faces, stamp or obstruct without any problems.
    I'm thinking most city fans do the Posnan for the entire game :)

  7. I'd say the difference between Everton yesterday and City at Arsenal last year was that City defended, but weren't overly physical. I wouldn't say it was my proudest moment as a City fan though.
    And no, I didn't appreciate Mourinho's tactics in the Champions' League Final - yes, Inter won, but football lost. In my opinion, anyway.
    From the comfort of my armchair, obviously :-)

  8. Overly physical? Wow, rodwell won the ball, played within the laws of the game, neville clearly clipped silva by accident, and as someone said, osman barged a man much bigger than him. Apart from that i havent a clue what you are going on about. The worst example of being over physical in the whole match was Kompany on Cahill, so again your points are invalid.

    Oh, by the way, you have shown your poor knowledge for the game by saying you didnt appreciate Mourinho's tacticts in the Final, it was the semi where he played Barcelona. Your views are really poor and so obviously fed to you not formulated yourself

  9. Great article. Great to see City winning at last against their worst bogey team. Shows how Mancini has instilled the 'mental attitude' he was talking about all last season!
    And you're right about the inspired substitutions; can't often happen that all three substitutes make such an important contribution to the result.
    Just very disappointing the attitude of the Everton fans (led by Moyes, of course). We have, after all, withstood years of poor results against them with good spirit, accepting that they were well organised and committed. Sad that they couldn't be just a little sporting and say well done, your win this time.
    Most disappointing of all, the accusations about Vinnie; if they'd watched him every week since he arrived as we all have, they'd know they were totally out of order. We all know that Vinnie would never set out to hurt a fellow player.

  10. DM, you sound a right bitter. You claim to know so much about watching football yet support the toffees (hard on the outside, soft down the middle for Silva's pass to Milner)Do you secretly watch Liverpool as well?

  11. Tim Howard, What a disgrace. Took over a minute for EVERY goalkick UNTIL City scored then he was scurrying round like a rat near a drain. Tey got what they deserved for the first time in years.
    Absolutely nothing.

  12. Hang on, the only reason i commented here was because the city fans were having a go at everton, NOT the other way around. I defended our way of playing and simply pointed out that mancini has played the exact same way before. City werent great on the day, would be foolish to say they were. A deflected goal and a (widely accepted by all pundits who seen it) red card challenge by kompany, so city got lucky. But i would admit they were the only ones who could have won the match, it was probably a matter of time. Next time if you dont want to be told the truth then try not to get on your high horse about teams coming to your stadium and defending.
    Net spend of city last 2 years? Around 200 million?
    Net spend of everton? Below zero.
    You cant blame moyes for setting up the way he did..

    2-0 down and bring on de jong for dzeko anyone?? Now thats something moyes would never do

  13. dm
    To take a striker off for a midfielder moyes would have to have a forward on the field to be replaced.
    Everton under moyes have always been negative, regularly playing one stiker at home and none away from home.
    When discussing on The Sunday Supplement the likely manager to replace Fergie at O.T. when Moyes name was mentioned one football writer observed that with Moyes at the helm O.T. would be empty by half-time.