Running on fumes – MAN CITY 2 SUNDERLAND 2

It was the result neither side wanted. The 2-2 draw was about as welcome as flatulence in a space suit.

The stalemate only benefitted those who were not present at the Etihad Stadium, as Manchester City’s title hopes were derailed and Sunderland’s Premier League survival bid hit the buffers.

All square - City couldn't shake off a dogged Sunderland. Courtesy @MCFC

All square – City couldn’t shake off a dogged Sunderland. Courtesy @MCFC

Brendan Rodgers and Jose Mourinho could raise a glass to City’s ineptitude, whereas Fulham’s Felix Magath and rookie Norwich manager, Neil Adams, could smile at Sunderland’s misfortune.

Apart from the odd snatch of torturous hope, this was a singularly underwhelming affair, elevated only by early expectations of a City goal-fest and a late late show of desperate endeavour.

The end of proceedings left a capacity crowd as flat as a snake’s belly, knowing that when it came to the crunch City had no bite, devoid of guile, energy and heart.

First blood - Fernandinho's goal looked set to be a curtain raiser for another City win. Courtesy @MCFC

First blood – Fernandinho’s goal looked set to be a curtain raiser for another City win. Courtesy @MCFC

Fernandinho’s opening goal, within 114 seconds, flattered to deceive the expectant home support against a Sunderland side who had previously mustered just a point from their previous eight games.

City’s less than bestial Alvaro Negredo produced a beautiful ‘dummy’, enabling Aguero’s pass to carry through to an unmarked Fernandinho, who fired home from close range.

All too soon it was apparent that the Battle of Anfield had left its scars, both psychologically and physically.  

Two of City’s standout performers, David Silva and Yaya Toure, were absent through injuries picked up or exacerbated on Merseyside, and the sky blues sorely missed their creativity power and presence.

No Yaya - Javi Garcia replaced the injured Toure. Courtesy @MCFC

No Yaya – Javi Garcia replaced the injured Toure. Courtesy @MCFC

Vincent Kompany looked as if he was still carrying the after effects of the injury that impacted so negatively on his performance last Sunday, whereas Sergio Aguero is obviously short of match fitness and his usual razor sharp edge.

Having started in the best possible fashion, City deteriorated into a pattern of lethargy, lacking that certain ‘zip’ and one-touch passing flair that has bemused so many opponents this season.

Sunderland maintained a disciplined defensive line and were all too often first to the ‘second ball’. Despite the one goal advantage, City weren’t pressing the Mackems, weren’t forcing them into errors with the whole team looking ‘leggy’ – wearied by their recent adversity.

Celebrations short-lived - City just ran out of juice on a night when they needed a high energy approach. Courtesy @MCFC

Celebrations short-lived – City just ran out of juice on a night when they needed a high energy approach. Courtesy @MCFC

Having suffered at the hands of Mark Clattenburg four days previously, City had grounds for complaint against referee Martin Atkinson.

Ex-Manure defender Wes Brown was fortunate to stay on the pitch after a reckless, uncontrolled ‘tackle’ on Aguero. The centre back had both feet off the floor as he followed through on Sergio. Atkinson saw it differently and didn’t even award a free kick.

In the second half, Sunderland striker Connor Wickham bundled Aguero over in the penalty box but, once again, Atkinson didn’t want to know.

Travesty - Sergio was scythed down by Sunderland's Brown but referee Atkinson failed to act. Courtesy @MCFC

Travesty – Sergio was scythed down by Sunderland’s Brown but referee Atkinson failed to act. Courtesy @MCFC

The goals that had once flowed so freely at the Etihad showed no signs of coming as Gus Poyet’s workmanlike side, resplendent with lively ex-City wingman, Adam Johnson, continued to break up City’s stuttering attacking play.

It was hardly a shock when Wickham, the mountainous young striker, scored only his second ever Premier League goal, to square proceedings in the 73rd minute. Emanuele Giaccherini’s cross evaded the entire City defence and the 21-year old prospect tucked the ball past a helpless Hart.

Sunderland merited the equaliser and looked set for a shock win when, 10 minutes later Wickham, showing a speed and hunger sadly lacking among the City team, sprinted approximately 70 yards to smash the ball past Hart, who was left cruelly exposed.

Despair - City go 2-1 down. Courtesy @MCFC

Despair – City go 2-1 down. Courtesy @MCFC

The Mackem supporters behind Hart’s goal celebrated deliriously as they savoured a PL lifeline and a win over the team they have come to haunt in recent years.

Having recorded four consecutive 1-0 wins at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland have now forced two draws in their last four visits to City, including that unforgettable 3-3 draw in City’s title campaign during 2011/12.

It looked like they were on for maximum points until Samir Nasri notched his 10th goal of the campaign with the most innocuous of shots, one that Vito Mannone allowed to painfully and pitifully trickle over his goal line.

No time to lose - Nasri made it 2-2 and wanted the winner. Courtesy @MCFC

No time to lose – Nasri made it 2-2 and wanted the winner. Courtesy @MCFC

The keeper, Sunderland’s League Cup semi-final hero in a penalty shoot-out at the Trafford Troglodytes, cut a pathetic figure, prone on his goal line almost reduced to tears.

Nasri had beaten him at Wembley with an Exocet missile volley – this time it was the polar opposite.

With two minutes of regulation time left plus four minutes of added time, City finally seemed to realise the PL title was on the line – it was almost May 13th, 2012 all over again.

Sergio had given way to sub Stevan Jovetic just before the hour, so history couldn’t repeat itself – it wouldn’t be an ‘Aguerrooo’ moment all over again – but it was oh so very nearly a ‘Nasriiiiii’ occasion!

Anguish - Samir missed the chance to win the game in the dying seconds. Courtesy @MCFC

Anguish – Samir missed the chance to win the game in the dying seconds. Courtesy @MCFC

With the seconds ticking down, the Frenchman who had had a below par night, cut in from the left, gave a give and go pass which was returned via a melee involving Milner and Jovetic inside the box.

All he had to do was hit the target and it would have reignited City’s title bid and self belief…it went over the bar and hope was extinguished at a crestfallen Etihad.

Mathematically, City can still win English football’s top prize and, in a season with more twists than a game of Pontoon, the incredibly unlikely could yet become reality.

Before Sunderland deservedly gained the draw, City could have been champions with six wins and one Liverpool draw. Pellegrini now requires not only the Scousers, but also Chelsea, to drop points.

Under fire - A minority of City fans are calling for managerial change - ridiculous. #TrustOurMP. Courtesy @MCFC

Under fire – A minority of City fans are calling for managerial change – ridiculous. #TrustOurMP. Courtesy @MCFC

It represents a massive disappointment, but unlike Sunday, City can have few complaints – bar a couple of refereeing mistakes – they didn’t earn the win, in the way that they had deserved the draw at the weekend.

In the wake of the result there were some City fans on social media and a radio station, aptly described as ‘Talkshyte’, calling for Pellegrini to be sacked…unbloodybelievable!

Thankfully Sheikh Mansour knows the quality of his Manchester City manager, and Manuel Pellegrini will be given both time and the budget to make a good thing better, at all playing levels within the club

City’s MP has been on a steep learning curve this season. He arrived in a new country, culture, job, club, players, opponents, playing style – plus he came into the role on the back of personal tragedy having lost both his parents in quick succession.

Frustrated - Negredo hasn't scored for nearly 3 months. Courtesy @MCFC

Frustrated – Negredo hasn’t scored for nearly 3 months. Courtesy @MCFC

How many of those calling for the Chilean’s head have had to cope with so much in such a concentrated period?

A good transfer window this summer will see Pellegrini better prepared and eager to go by the start of 2014/15, and I for one don’t want managerial change. A more qualified judgement would be better cast this time next year.

 

#TrustOurMP

By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com

@djwskyblu

28 Comments

  1. April 17, 2014  8:19 pm by Susan richardson Reply

    Agree about MR some of the comments on here were ridiculous but everyone is entitled I suppose? It's been a season of ifs and buts and the lessons should be heeded BUT as a season finish for the EPL it's excellent and no one is talking about the rags so result?
    I do not however like giving the media ammunition so saying it was Sunday that had affected them mentally was naive and makes us a target.The players are paid well to do a job and they simply had a bad day at the office The Liverpool result was disappointing but they didn't let us or themselves down.

    • April 17, 2014  8:22 pm by David Walker Reply

      Nice summary Susan. It's the pain of having title winning success so close...and yet so far.

  2. April 17, 2014  8:20 pm by Susan richardson Reply

    Agree about MP some of the comments on here were ridiculous but everyone is entitled I suppose? It's been a season of ifs and buts and the lessons should be heeded BUT as a season finish for the EPL it's excellent and no one is talking about the rags so result?
    I do not however like giving the media ammunition so saying it was Sunday that had affected them mentally was naive and makes us a target.The players are paid well to do a job and they simply had a bad day at the office The Liverpool result was disappointing but they didn't let us or themselves down.

  3. April 17, 2014  8:22 pm by joe cox Reply

    has wes brown been on a sunbed

    • April 17, 2014  9:51 pm by David Walker Reply

      He did look a shade darker but then again he stems from the 'Dark Side' #TRAFFORDTROGLODYTES

  4. April 17, 2014  9:00 pm by guy Burke Reply

    I for one am not giving up.City are possibly in a better position than 2 years ago with 5 games left and it is silly season where league position sometimes is irrelevant. 2 more goals required to beat the busby babes post war record in all comps suggests that despite what some would have you believe this season is far from a disaster?

    • April 17, 2014  9:07 pm by David Walker Reply

      The big negative is that we are now reliant on two teams faltering. Hope you're right.

  5. April 17, 2014  9:24 pm by guy Burke Reply

    City need some serious snookers but i think rogers has far too much smugness for his own good at present ,he is slowly turning into an even more obnoxious clone of Maureen at chelsea ,which is some achievement? The engineer has been ice cool all season, no tantrums or snide remarks -if there is any justice the "chilled Chilean" must surely triumph!!?!

    • April 17, 2014  9:34 pm by David Walker Reply

      I'm sure MP will win City the PL title - I fear we will have to wait another 12 months. The #TrustOurMP wasn't a one season slogan and people need to get real about their expectations. They're fed sh*t by the media who only hype us up because that means we fall that bit harder.

  6. April 17, 2014  9:35 pm by Graham Ward Reply

    It was a poor tackle by Brown on Aguero. At the very least, a yellow, and, indeed, he could have seen red.
    I saw the 30 minute highlights on Sky, and, yet again, comment was passed that if the incident takes place outside the penalty box, a free kick would be the most likely decision.
    Ho hum.
    It looks like a disappointing end to the season, but you never know.

    • April 17, 2014  9:52 pm by David Walker Reply

      It's a bloody nonsense isn't it - a foul is a foul, a dive is a dive etc - but apparently it's not always the case if it's MCFC who stand to benefit!

  7. April 18, 2014  2:22 am by John Evans TT Reply

    It’s too early to be writing this seasons epitaph and certainly too soon for snide ‘The five wheels that fell from City's EPL wagon’ reports from the DT’s reptilian Mark Ogden.

    Yesterday was the shit cart behind Sunday’s Lord Mayors show, although I seem to remember the Makem’s doing something similar the year we won the title. Yes Anfield was very disappointing, but it was a performance (with us having played 20% more football played than the dippers) not be sneezed at. Pellegrini's instinct is to attack. Had we not pressed for the winner we would (IMO) have comfortably taken a point and Brenda would not be crowing quite as loud.

    Not sure any other manager could do better than Manolo. He's certainly got the best out of Kolarov, Dzeko and Garcia. This season could still go down to the wire, with us edging the title on goal difference again. Now that would be something.

    After all we've been there, done that and got the 'T' shirt.

    • April 18, 2014  7:21 am by David Walker Reply

      Good points and, given the circumstances, it would perhaps eclipse 2012 as an achievement, but nothing would ever surpass the Aguerrroooo moment. With the right transfer balance - provided UEFA don't try & screw us on FFP - I think MP will be a big time winner next season. Injuries have been a massive factor this time out i.e. Aguero half the season...that's 15 goals lost at least.

  8. April 18, 2014  3:45 am by Simon Dear Reply

    I'm sure MP will be given at least another season to win either the EPL , UCL or both .
    This season in my eyes has been far from a disaster with some memorable performances.
    I think we will eventually fall short this season but it won't be the Anfield result that has cost us on an emotion charged day which could so easily have swung our way .. If only David Silva was an inch taller! .. I said some weeks ago that the two Chelsea results will cost us and if we had taken anything out of those games then we would still have our fate in our own hands even now .. The Achilles heel must be healed by the arrival of Mangala ( or similar ) as we are too reliant on VK who cannot be expected to play every single game ... Hopefully with another one or two ins and possibly more dead wood moved on we will be looking forward to a better season next .
    But like ive said .. C one Cup .. Rags smashed and out of Europe , another crack at UCL .. The expansion of the Etihad and Academy etc ..and not forgetting the successfull SOD campaign, it's been far from a disaster !
    Thanks again David great read on the night shift

    • April 18, 2014  7:23 am by David Walker Reply

      Well measured observations Simon - I concur with all - and glad to be of service with your nocturnal reading. CTWD!

  9. April 18, 2014  7:58 am by Bill Glas Reply

    Spot on again, David. A bad day at the office is the correct view. We have to remember that there are many commentators in the media, and football generally, who are just dying for the City project to fall flat on its face. When a reverse happens, as on Wednesday, they are there crowing about how wasteful and ill conceived it nas all been. It really is quite incredible that some fans should be calling for MP's head on a platter because we haven't won in style and haven't scored five or six goals in the process. As you say, it has been a steep learning curve for Pellegrini, and at a time when he his personal life has been difficult. I hope he will stay. He can only get better. C'mon City.

    • April 18, 2014  8:42 am by David Walker Reply

      With you 100% Bill. Thanks for reading CTWD

  10. April 18, 2014  12:16 pm by Richard Cooper Reply

    Your article sums it up - It was ponderous and limp after the bright start with Negredo looking livlier than in recent games. Many reasons for that display have been well documented and some are not really worth commenting on.
    Am sure the less desirable media pundits would love City to go downhill faster than a bike with no brakes so starting next Monday let's have some "Pride in Battle" and go for 3pts in all remaining games.

    Title - Possible but becoming doubtful.
    I would rather finish a close 2nd than distant 3rd !

    PS : Oh Samir - Even from the other end of the ground I think that one should have been "buried" to give us three welcome if undeserved points.

    • April 18, 2014  3:26 pm by David Walker Reply

      I'd go along with all your comments RC - desperately disappointing occasion.

  11. April 18, 2014  12:47 pm by DOUG HENSHAW Reply

    Hi Dave sorry im a bit late i know. It was a poor result no passion no pride couldn't believe what i was seeing. I heard the phone ins on the way home not sure i agree but i can understand the way some are feeling. Mistakes have been made is changing the manager the answer do we want to go down the Chelsea route ? Its the guys first season in English football so maybe he should be cut some slack thankfully its not are decision to make. We move on to WBA so lets all get behind the team on Monday night.

    • April 18, 2014  3:28 pm by David Walker Reply

      Let's judge MP this time next season. Cheers Doug.

  12. April 18, 2014  12:58 pm by DOUG HENSHAW Reply

    Forgot Dave great article as always.

    • April 18, 2014  3:29 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Doug - not all would agree with you - nonetheless, thanks.

  13. April 18, 2014  4:49 pm by bluewelder Reply

    who are these so-called City fans,PM has done a great job and as for calling for his sacking,sounds volumes for the new followers of this great club of ours,yes mistakes have been made but its a collective problem not just the managers,s'land were very good value for a draw and in all truth if they had've won on this performance,who of us would say they didn't deserve it more,a cup in the cabinet and hopefully a top 4 finish,where did it all go right,CTWD.

    • April 18, 2014  6:23 pm by David Walker Reply

      Cheers welded blue but don't go getting Manuel mixed up with David Cameron #MP #PM - only one of whom can be trusted! ;-)

  14. April 20, 2014  12:32 pm by Blue inc Reply

    In light of things Dave, we could of done a Chelsea..

  15. April 20, 2014  12:38 pm by Blue inc Reply

    2 more goals and we break the 56-year old record, set by the Busby babes in 1956-57.

    Man City Breaking records every season.

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