City's defensive lapses under microscope
- Wed 07 Nov 2012, 8:29AM
- Posted by David Clayton
The morning after the night before and the newspaper headlines are pretty much as you’d expect them to be.
With City unable to beat Ajax last night, partly thanks to early defensive lapses and partly to some questionable decisions by the officials, there was always going to be plenty of fallout in the media.
The criticism ranges from the hysterical to the more balanced pieces out there – though the latter are few and far between.
With the Blues unbeaten in the Premier League, despite not firing on all cylinders this campaign, any failure in the Uefa Champions League was tantamount to open season for the headline writers – so seek those out if you wish - but we'll focus on the more constructive comments.
Paul Hayward in the Daily Telegraph suggests there is little manager Roberto Mancini can do when it comes to his team defending poorly in his feature, which takes a different, less sensationalistic angle from the majority.
He writes: “Time, now, for the players to face the music for Manchester City’s struggles in Europe, not the manager whose own miscalculations hardly explain the abject defending that allowed Ajax to run up a two-goal lead inside 17 minutes in a game that demanded the utmost concentration and professionalism from England’s champions.
“Roberto Mancini’s stomp across the pitch to confront the match officials at the end was hardly becoming, but this was his only lapse worth mentioning. If the tom-toms are to beat for Pep Guardiola or some other saviour it will not be because Mancini has messed up this Champions League campaign. Sooner or later, surely, the responsibility has to fall on the players.
“‘We conceded two stupid goals tonight. But after that we started to play very, very well. In the second half we were fantastic,’ Mancini said after a 2-2 draw with the Dutch masters.
"As City lurched into crisis with two badly defended corners, Mancini’s flaws were a mere fig leaf for the dopey rear half of the Premier League champions. None could blame the boss’s tactical switches in previous group games, an overbearing management style or even zonal marking.
“Culpability lay squarely with the players, for spectating in their own penalty box and not tracking Ajax’s runners, who were hardly difficult to spot in their lime green shorts and socks.”
Meanwhile, Tony Cascarino in The Times suggests City may still be suffering from a title hangover.
He writes: “When sides get promoted to the Barclays Premier League, have a decent run, stay up and then struggle the next year, we call it the second-season syndrome.
“That feels exactly like what Manchester City are experiencing at the moment, except from the perspective of defending champions. Where has all the hunger gone? That edge? That overwhelming desire to achieve?
“All the best teams from the past, whether it was United, Arsenal or Liverpool, had the capacity to win something, forget about it, build again and do better. What came before was irrelevant.”
Does he have a point? Or will the Blues roar back against Spurs on Sunday? Watch this space...