Disappointment and anger overwhelmed me after the game last night. Another chastening defeat, another thrashing, but this time there was indignation mixed in with disillusionment.
Things don’t look so bad in the morning. Time to reflect adds perspective. It’s just one game. Our goal difference was already shot. City are the best team in the division, maybe the world. Better sides have lost to them. Bayern Munich for one. In Bavaria. The officials made a big mistake but we were being comprehensively outplayed before that.
So first to the two refereeing decisions. Having watched it back, the Dawson “goal” was offside. Dawson himself was borderline but Adebayor was clearly in front of the City defence. It’s hard to tell if he touched the ball, either way he was interfering with play.
The penalty however was a scandal. Rose clearly got the ball and it wasn’t just a graze, it was enough of a touch to take it out of play and out of danger for a corner. Just a penalty and it would have still been a game. A man down and the match was over. We had struggled to contain City with 11, with 10 it was an impossible task.
What made it particularly hard to take was that the game had just started to turn our way. Aguero our chief tormentor, kryptonite to the Spurs defense this year, had left the field with an injury. Capoue had come on adding much needed bite in midfield, announcing his arrival with a crunching tackle on Silva. City had looked vulnerable to Eriksen’s fantastic set pieces, along with Lloris one of the few positives from the match.
In truth City were still cutting us open with incisive passes, hence Rose needing to make the last ditch tackle that led to all the controversy. We are particularly vulnerable to through balls behind the defence. City and Liverpool top this statistic and it’s no surprise they have been our nemesis this season.
The first 20 minutes seemed to make a mockery of all the talk of formations and team selection that had preceded the match. City were so good did it matter who we had put up against them?
Playing the inexperienced and willowy Bentaleb instead of a more physical, more experienced holding player was an obvious mistake. It’s a shame Sandro didn’t quite make this game but Capoue should have deputised. Sherwood appeared to let his personal relationships cloud his judgement, a charge often leveled at his predecessor.
Manchester City’s midfield had time and space and they don’t need either.Most of their attacks came down our left hand side, targeting Rose. Sigurdson didn’t provide much cover. The speed with which they swarmed forward, the movement and the incisive passing were too much for our pedestrian defence. Maybe a fit Vertonghen would have helped?
The only real positive, we finally scored from a corner!
Most games won’t be like this and it’s worth remembering this is Sherwood’s first league defeat. Let’s hope the manner of it does not affect our new found confidence.