CARDIFF CITY 3 MAN CITY 2 – City rudderless without Captain Kompany

Manchester City can only hope that a performance that saw them succumb to a tenacious Cardiff City is as common as a sighting of Lord Lucan riding Shergar around the Bermuda Triangle.

New City boss Manuel Pellegrini stated beforehand that his team would not under estimate their feisty foe from South Wales, who were bound to be fired up for their first home top flight fixture in more than 50 years.

Such a proclamation makes this shock defeat all the more perplexing, notwithstanding the missing presence of the massively influential skipper Vincent Kompany – the lynchpin of City’s defence.

But therein lies the question – what exactly lies at the heart of City’s back line when the commanding Belgian is missing? City are blessed with their highly skilled, influential and intelligent leader, but on this and previous evidence, they are wholly too reliant on Captain Fantastic.

Granted, the prodigious Matija Nastasic was only fit enough to sit on the substitute’s bench, but City’s title aspirations will be in tatters if they can’t cope with the loss of one or two key players.

Roared on by a vociferous capacity Cardiff City Stadium crowd, the home side were aided and abetted by a trio of City players normally more noted for their outstanding contribution to the sky blue cause.

Player of the Year, Pablo Zabaleta, had a stinker, twice losing Frazier Campbell at corners, with the net result of a brace of goals for the ex-Manchester United striker.

Yaya Toure gave the ball to Cardiff quicker than a mystery package is handed around in a game of pass the parcel in Baghdad. The Ivorian colossus was strangely laboured and ineffective and unable to maintain possession.

Scapegoat - City keeper Joe Hart was severely criticised for his performance in South Wales

Scapegoat – City keeper Joe Hart was severely criticised for his performance in South Wales

And then there was Joe Hart, so often the saviour of City and rated among the elite of the world’s goalkeepers, having the proverbial bad day at the office.

The makeshift pairing of Joleon Lescott and Javi Garcia went together as well as brussel sprouts and maple syrup. Lescott is unsure of his long-term future at City and Garcia has never looked competent or comfortable when asked to fill in at the back.

Heartless pair - Joleon Lescott and Javi Garcia went AWOL in City's defence

Heartless pair – Joleon Lescott and Javi Garcia went AWOL in City’s defence

But all this negative analysis of City detracts from a combative Cardiff firing on all cylinders, as befits a team captained by ex-City firebrand Craig Bellamy.

I am the proud owner of a match-worn, autographed Bellamy boot from his time at the Etihad. It sits in my study in a display case – never until today have I regarded a Craig Bellamy boot as a WMD – a Weapon of Manchester Destruction!

Despite not being on the score sheet, Bellamy inspired this 3-2 win over his former employers. When he left the field to thunderous applause in the 82nd minute, Cardiff led 2-1, having hit back after Edin Dzeko struck a sweet opening goal in the 52nd  minute.

The in-form Bosnian striker benefited from a probing Yaya pass, deftly flicked on by Sergio Aguero and smashed a 30-yard strike past David Marshall in the Cardiff goal.

Edin Dzeko -ooh-ooh - a 30 yard scorcher had City anticipating victory

Edin Dzeko -ooh-ooh – a 30 yard scorcher had City anticipating victory

Within nine minutes Aron Gunnarsson was quickest to react to a loose ball after a splendid Hart save from Campbell. He rammed the ball home despite being surrounded by the Three Stooges in City’s defence – Garcia, Lescott and Zabaleta.

Perversely, City stemmed the anticipated momentum of Cardiff’s first Premier League goal with subs Nasri, Negredo and Milner helping Pellegrini’s men dominate play and possession statistics…until the 78th minute and the first of Campbell’s bullet headers.

Zabaleta lost his man as the corner fizzed into the City six yard area and the ex-Manure, Spurs, Sunderland and Hull striker planted the ball past a hesitant Hart.

Undoubtedly below par, City weren’t ready to play the part of damsels in distress as the Cardiff dragons snorted fire and sniffed an unlikely win.

Too little too late - sub Alvaro Negredo open his City account with a splendid looping header

Too little too late – sub Alvaro Negredo open his City account with a splendid looping header

Two headed attempts from Garcia were dealt with by Marshall, before Man of the Match Campbell sent the Welsh hordes into wild abandon as he rose unchallenged in the 86th minute, giving the Bluebirds an unassailable 3-1 flyaway lead.

Shell-shocked and listless, Pellegrini’s troops were a spent force or so it seemed, until referee Lee Probert curiously conjured up six minutes of ‘Fergie’ time.

The Beast of Seville, City’s new number 9 Negredo, sent a superb looping header beyond Marshall following a sublime David Silva cross in the 93rd minute. 3-2 and three minutes left to play – could City somehow muster a precious point and salvage their pride?

Sadly, we know the answer and Manuel Pellegrini was given a very rude awakening in the Valleys as City were sent back across the border – pointless.

The delirious home fans and almost disbelieving Cardiff players could’ve been forgiven for being as ‘high’ as the waistband of Bluebird’s owner Vincent Tan – a man who makes it look as if Simon Cowell wears ‘hipsters’’

For Malky Mackay’s men it was a stunning spectacle and one that would have veteran Cardiff fans reminiscing when their team last scored and won a top flight game, way back in 1962, with another shock win over star-stocked opponents – a West Ham team featuring the legendary Bobby Moore.

For Manuel Pellegrini it illustrated the shocks that the Premier League can serve up with alarming regularity – unlike the more predictable La Liga schedule.

It’s undoubtedly a learning curve for the vastly experienced man from Santiago but, as disappointing as this was, for everyone associated with Manchester City, don’t let any knee-jerk reactionaries or doom merchants cast aspersions on either his, or his team’s, abilities to achieve domestic success.

He has spent wisely to improve City’s attack and midfield but now he needs to go again in the market to bolster the defence before the transfer window closes.

Had Kompany and Nastasic been available it’s doubtful in the extreme City would have leaked three goals. It does, however, highlight the flimsiness in defence and the unhealthy dependency on the ‘Kompany man’.

Beaten by Bluebirds, City now have to re-focus and prepare to terrorise some Tigers next Saturday. It wouldn’t stack up with nature connoisseurs like David Attenborough, but it’ll sit well with City fans and get their title ambitions back on track.

 

#TrustOurMP

 

 

32 Comments

  1. August 26, 2013  1:23 am by Phill Reply

    I think Hart has come in for a bit too much stick - yes I couldn't understand why he was concentrationg on getting up the arse of the Cardiff player rather than the ball, but he kept us in the game with his star jump save in the first half and as you stated with his initial save before etheir equaliser.
    Not seen many negative comments about Silva who passed to a Cardiff shirt way, way to often.
    And I've not seen much from Fernadinho to see why he cost how ever much he cost.

    However, I've always not liked playing against newly promoted teams too early in the season - remember Hull going top after two games beating Arsenal away, Blackpool tonking Liverpool at Anfield and Burnley too got off to a great start. All became relegation fodder by the end of September........ Cardiff will probably play better and lose but good luck to them throughout the season.

    • August 26, 2013  8:51 am by David Walker Reply

      Totally agree on Joe. He made 2 or 3 excellent saves albeit he was culpable at the goals conceded at corners. This lambasting of Hart is too severe & uncalled for. He's 26 & could & should be with us for another 10 years. Yes, by all means recruit a top GK to rival Joe...& then try & keep them both happy!

  2. August 26, 2013  2:31 am by Kev Russell Reply

    Welcome back David & good to see that you're still telling it like it is with your unbiased, humorous reports. This result/performance will highlight the need to sign more talented cover at the back before the window slams shut. We didn't deserve to win but we should not be shipping 3 goals either. Maybe Milner & Negredo would have been more suitable for today's "physical" battle. An early season reminder that we have 30 odd cup finals ahead. I look forward to reading your articles all season.. Agree with Phil ref newly promoted teams. #TopScriber

    • August 26, 2013  9:33 am by David Walker Reply

      It's always a dilemma playing newly promoted sides very early in the season but you're right - on reflection maybe the likes of Milner & Negredo would have been better suited to counteracting Cardiff's combative style. We could & should have done better but Pellegrini now knows all about the foibles of the Premier League.

  3. August 26, 2013  2:41 am by Dave Bones Reply

    Just an early season blip David,against an "Up for it Cardiff team",the words "Banana" & "Skin" come to mind.
    I guarantee MP will be dipping his transfer toes into the market for a central defender.
    Garcia to be fair to him isn't a defender,whilst Lescott is technically limited,the ball always looks like a hot potato to him,plus he's never rediscovered his knack of scoring a goal or 10 like in his Everton days.

    • August 26, 2013  9:38 am by David Walker Reply

      Totally agree Dave - Lescott looks very uncomfortable on the ball - quite bizarre really for a footballer! As for Garcia, I've been one for giving him the benefit of the doubt but he continues to underwhelm in whatever position he plays. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I'd have gone with Boyata. Anyway, no time for recriminations let's win the next 36 PL games

  4. August 26, 2013  6:04 am by craig cassells Reply

    Toure is never captain material, the only player who showed what he is capable off was the beast negrado. Garcia and lescott are championship players at best lescott needs to stop pumping iron and get more movement in his body, he also needs to start facing up the pitch when receiving the ball. A centre half in this weeks transfer market is a must.

    • August 26, 2013  9:44 am by David Walker Reply

      Lescott had a great PL winning campaign but has never really captured his Everton dominance. Yaya can undoubtedly be an enigma & SHOULD be captain material but was awful at Cardiff. That level of application from our team is wholly & totally unacceptable & the players must recognise it as such.

  5. August 26, 2013  7:14 am by Alan Baxter Reply

    Not the first banana skin we've slipped on and it won't be the last. A bit disappointed would be an understatement but, I'm sure MP will address the frailty in our back 3/4/5 and for those losing faith in Joe, check out the video that Micah posted on Twitter under the comment "Just a reminder". Let's retract our bottom lips and look forward to something more rare than Halley's Comet, a Saturday game at the Etihad. #TrustOurMP

    • August 26, 2013  10:07 am by David Walker Reply

      Simple response Alan - agree on all points raised. Thanks fella.

  6. August 26, 2013  7:37 am by Guvnor Reply

    Mancini gone, MP here, nothing has changed. Our team cannot cope with a team that is up for it. We can have enough pocession as you like but they had passion and we did not. Lescott tried his best but with Carcia at the side of him who let alone him would stand a chance against a couple of strikers with heart (little skill) running at you.
    For the sake of repeting my self week after week, Dzeko (a great goal) does not do enough, watch his passes back, they are like bullets it slows are play down.
    Hart is just waiting for another cheque from his adverts, let him wait for it on the bench for a week or two till he gets his game head back on.

    Great read David. Onwards and upwards, Hull will be easy, Stoke will be same old panicking again.

    • August 26, 2013  10:10 am by David Walker Reply

      Fully understand your misgivings on all matters raised but I think MP will get it right & we will win PL this season. Time to get your bets on #MCFC when the odds are most favourable.

  7. August 26, 2013  9:28 am by PhilM Reply

    We need to add mental toughness to our obvious talents and we also need more leaders at the back for when the going gets tough. My money is on Pepe who IMO would add both. We didn't play dreadfully but we were sloppy with too many passes going astray and moved the ball too slowly at times and didnt get in behind Cardiff enough. Joe needs top competition I think and Garcia and Lescott is a pairing that I would rather not see again though the fact is that Zaba and not them was culpable for two of the goals. Bad day but we need to learn, put the faults right and bounce back. I still think that we can win the league and there will be other bumps along the road. Dare I say that yesterday was typical City and proves that they still have that ability to confound and frustrate that my beloved football team always has!

    • August 26, 2013  11:44 pm by David Walker Reply

      Agree on all points Phil but sadly despite the best endeavours and strong rumours Pepe appears to have eluded our grasp. He would make one helluva difference and City can perhaps make one more BIG money offer because we are hugely vulnerable without Kompany and Nastasic. One thing that has angered me is the amount of abuse coming the way of Joe Hart - he's the best in the country by a mile and among the top half-a-dozen keepers in the world. Yes he's made some mistakes but he could and should by our keeper fro the next 8-10 years.Zaba was poor but that is rare but Garcia is NOT a central defender even in an emergency. Put Boyata in.

  8. August 26, 2013  9:53 am by Grant Mills Reply

    It looked like nothing had changed from last season. Too slow too much sideways passing with no end product. I thought Aguero was awful and looked like he had ball repellant on his boots. For all the talk of Dzeko he still gives the ball away far too easily. Easy to criticise Hart yet he made some great saves prior the corners. Whilst I doubt the result would have been anything like this had Kompany and Nastastic been playing it has seriously reduced my expectations for the season. Chelsea could be 6 points clear of us tonight! CTID

    • August 26, 2013  10:14 am by David Walker Reply

      Until we get to the end of September it is nigh on impossible to judge City but let's hope this is a one off. No it wasn't good but I have trust in MP - it's more than just a RBNR hash tag #TrustOurMP!!!

  9. August 26, 2013  10:12 am by Simon Dear Reply

    First of all great honest report on the game , I would also add to the names of Zabbers, Garcia , & Lescott that of our usual colossus in midfield Yaya who had one of his most ineffective games for quite sometime , he seemed to slow the play down far too often allowing Cardiff the cram players behind the ball and stifle our attacks... Is it only me that thinks he would make the ideal stand in Cente half in the absence of Kompany. Big & strong , no slouch and good on the deck & in the air, all the attributes , this would then allow Milner ( unfortunate sub far too often in my opinion ) to bring his relentless energy and guile into the midfield cauldron .
    Iam a big Hart fan but it concerns me that Platt has apparently stated that the Mancini team were seriously looking at replacing him ? . Has he grown too big for his international boots ? Should he be doing TV adverts ? . Has he lost the edge, the absolute professional commitment to be the very best in his position . ( Shilts & Clemence spring to mind ) he is still young and I for one think he should be rested, the mistakes were creeping in last season ( none more so than the corner against Wigan at Wembley ... Reminiscent of yesterdays palava ) and have continued in this ... Something is not right, and Platts comments clearly support this ... Don't forget we won the league the previous season with Platt right there alongside Mancini & Kidd .
    It's far to early to make bold statements about MP and his team with Kidd alongside him, what he doesn't know about our premier league then Kidd will no doubt be filling in the gaps.
    Let's hope this result is just a one off .. Because anymore in a similar vain will undoubtedly lead to claims of a soft underbelly and City lack that not ruthless streak ( something which our counterparts across at the swamp have never been affiliated too) Iam afraid to say.

    • August 26, 2013  11:53 pm by David Walker Reply

      Brilliant feedback Simon and thanks for being so comprehensive - you obviously care about City in a big way. The Joe Hart debate rumbles on and you raise some valid points. I am a staunch supporter of Joe and any talk of transferring him out of the Etihad is madness in my opinion. That said, if we can get someone of the calibre of Begovic to provide genuine competition let's do it BUT how do you retain two top flight keepers - we couldn't manage it with Shay Given and Joe. Despite the criticism, Hart is an outstanding keeper and - from the outside looking in - a conscientious and articulate man. One could say he has a strong head on his shoulders...taxi for Walker!

  10. August 26, 2013  10:54 am by Graham Ward Reply

    Lots of good points made in the article and the comments section. One error by Garcia was rescued by a Hart save, but the lack of pace by the central defensive pair stood out during the afternoon, and I never felt comfortable as a result.
    Poor defending at set pieces let us down, as it did at times last season.
    Cardiff set themselves up well to combat us after Newcastle, and we never seemed to have an effective answer. It was good to see Dzeko and Negredo get off the mark. If he didn't know it, Pellegrini will now be aware of what lies ahead in the season.

  11. August 26, 2013  11:46 am by Kammy Reply

    Yes Dave, a good read as usual. Maybe we could've done with Lord Lucan in defence charged up to the eyeballs on maple syrup, perhaps would've made a difference. Roll on Hull!

    • August 26, 2013  11:54 pm by David Walker Reply

      Yes Kammy lad I was in metaphorical overdrive with this one wasn't I? Thanks for your comments.

  12. August 26, 2013  5:58 pm by Michael griffiths Reply

    Sorry last season we lost at swansea sunderland drew to many so lost the title our first away game cardiff lost ok a blip my foot we can not afford to loose these sort of games FULL STOP.

    • August 26, 2013  11:58 pm by David Walker Reply

      Totally agree Michael - we all know our star-studded line up can go to The Swamp, The Bridge, The Emirates etc and achieve results and garner points, but there's something amiss in our psyche that allows us to screw up against the teams outside of the top six. Why oh why? It afflicts just about every City side, irrespective of the manager or big money signings - quite bleedin' bizarre and, as you rightly say it needs to stop - here and now.

  13. August 26, 2013  7:21 pm by Doug Reply

    We need to sign a top CB Lescott & Garcia are not good enough. We can dress it up all we wont but losing at Cardiff was a poor result & shouldnt of happened.

  14. August 26, 2013  7:56 pm by Mark James Reply

    I always thought we'd struggle there. Considering the importance of the game to Cardiff but after going 1 nil up we should have picked them off on the counter attack still can't understand why he took Nevas off ?? Never mind only one game lets hope it's a one off we will find that out when we play stoke away our next away fixture !!!

  15. August 26, 2013  8:42 pm by David Walker Reply

    I'm sure we won't have to get used to the bitter taste of disappointment too often in the next few seasons & beyond

  16. August 26, 2013  11:58 pm by MoleRocks Reply

    We are all agreed on one thing and that is we need extra defensive players added to the squad.

    Considering defence is the area most players have disappeared from this transfer window, even the most rose tinted spectacle wearers can see the holes.

    Whatever happens in the next 8 days I don't expect to hear MP complaining about not getting who he wanted in in time.

    As David keeps so eloquently putting it, all we can do is trust in MP to introduce and develop his footballing philosophy and make the side a bit more ruthless whoever the opposition.

    #inMPwetrust

    • August 27, 2013  12:25 am by David Walker Reply

      #TrustOurMP - Stay behind in detention Morgan - must pay more attention to fine detail! Thanks as ever Carl - massivelt appreciated.

  17. August 27, 2013  12:09 am by Chris Williams Reply

    Extremely disappointed with the stuck that Hart has come under, he will save us more points than he'll cost us this season. Cardiff deserve credit for their hard work and defensive discipline, really showed that hard work and graft can close the obviously divide in class between the two teams.

    It showed we need to add a top draw centre half, unfortunately just like last season both Kompany and Richards are injured again, both are injury prone and we need to plan for the future as we will never have either fit for a full season.

    No need to panic yet albeit a defeat at Cardiff I feel our play and control of the match was good but defending poor. Just shows that the people ridiculing Mancini and his Zonal Marking, we wouldn't of conceded from them corners if we were still adapting that system.

  18. August 27, 2013  12:30 am by David Walker Reply

    Thanks for taking the time Chris - City were playing a very high line defence on Sunday and that may work with fleet-footed types like VK and Nasty but it was obviously not suited to Lescott and Garcia. But it wasn't solely the two CBs at fault, nor was it Joe Hart. Yes, there's an 'i' in City but we win and we lose as a collective so STOP THE FLAMING WITCH HUNT FOLKS. I hope City splash cash on a CB for the here and now - the long term future looks good with a returning Karim Rekik next season.

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