Six minutes of kamikaze defending from the Premier League’s top defensive unit means Manchester City have less than 24 hours left to call themselves champions.
That is unless Aston Villa can either pull off the most unlikely of victories or force a draw, with Slur Baconface’s First Rasher XI at The Swamp on Monday night.
City’s inexplicable implosion following an imperious first half at White Hart Lane beggars belief or rational analysis.
Sure, City were without star men Sergio Aguero and David Silva from the outset, and the loss of the superb James Milner at half time hardly helped the cause, but we’re talking clueless capitulation in a game that should have been won before the break.
The Wednesday night woes of the Wigan performance had been banished from thought as a Carlos Tevez inspired City dominated Tottenham Hotspur, giving rise to thoughts of a fifth consecutive win over their nemesis of recent times.
For Roberto Mancini it was the first time his side had surrendered a lead in a Premier League skirmish and gone on to defeat this season. The statistics are even more impressive if the record is traced back to the last time of happening – December 2011.
The common denominator is one Andre Villas Boas whose tactical savvy effectively changed the course of this ‘must win’ encounter for Spurs. He was the under-fire manager of Chelsea when City last fell from grace, the visitors having opened the scoring in a 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge.
It would have been so different on that occasion had ref Mark Clattenburg awarded City a stonewall penalty, that Mario Balotelli would have converted to a 2-0 advantage, leaving AVB and Chelsea with nowhere to go.
City cannot lay any of the blame at the feet of the match official on this occasion – albeit Lee Mason is usually an apology of a referee – no, they need to look a lot closer to home this time out.
Captain Fantastic Vincent Kompany had one of those rarest of days when he was less than footballing perfection as he was culpable with Spurs’ opening goals.
He was curiously flat-footed when Gareth Bale skimmed an exquisite ball – hit with the outside of his left boot – across the face of City’s six yard box.
City’s skipper was caught off balance and unable to intercept the teasing cross, before US striker Clint Dempsey finished with aplomb leaving Joe Hart with no chance for Spurs’ 75th minute equaliser.
Four minutes later and Jermain Defoe – who else in a Tottenham shirt – cut inside, wide left on City’s 18 yard box. The Belgian captain maybe hadn’t done his homework, allowing Defoe to get the ball on his right foot rather than showing him down the line.
The diminutive England striker pulled the trigger on a glorious strike, beating Hart all ends up with a wicked rasping shot which curled inside the top left corner of the City goal.
The twin strike undid Samir Nasri’s fourth minute opener after Tevez’s sensational surge down the Spurs left wing. The pocket battleship from Buenos Aires held the pursuing Spurs defence at bay, before sliding a precision pass to the marvellous Milner.
His deft pass into the Spurs’ box was volleyed home by a Nasri suddenly exuding class and no little confidence, leaving Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris, no chance.
If only the fired-up Frenchman could have been a touch more deadly in the 27th minute and it could have been so different. A three man move involving Zabaleta and Tevez, saw Nasri shoot agonizingly wide.
City had two other opportunities of note in the first half; a Dzeko shot, but the Bosnian was unable to muster any power to trouble Lloris, and a Tevez close range header that the French keeper plucked from flight.
At the other end Dempsey blazed a free header high over Hart’s crossbar as half time dawned.
The non-appearance of Milner – replaced by Kolarov – was a bitter blow, The England winger-cum-midfielder has become a key figure in Mancini’s team – industrious, strong and effective, his presence was sorely missed.
Assou-Ekotto should have seen red for a double footed lunge at Zabaleta but escaped with yellow in the 48th minute. A late Nasri challenge on Walker in the first half probably warranted yellow, but went unseen by Mason.
The game turned on two AVB substitutions on the hour. Parker and Sigurdsson gave way to Holtby and Huddlestone and suddenly City were being overrun in a midfield they had previously controlled.
It’s scant consolation that motor mouth Adebayor was withdrawn and replaced by Defore, before Spurs started the fireworks and became decidedly hot.
The contemptible Togan cannot claim any of the praise for the victory as he contributed absolutely nothing – but that won’t stop him doing just that.
Mancini didn’t counter AVB’s double shuffle and, with their effectiveness nullified, the City midfield lost direction and creativity. There was an inevitability about Spurs’ equaliser, but nothing that suggested the triple salvo that went unanswered.
When Huddlestone released Man-of-the Match Gareth Bale down City’s right flank, the Welsh Wizard scythed through the last vestiges of the disorientated defence and dinked a delightful lob over the oncoming Hart.
Dreadful Dzeko was removed from the embarrassment to be replaced by the novice Sinclair as Aguero stayed rooted to the bench. One can only assume Sergio was not fit enough to play – so why have him as a sub?
Dzeko’s afternoon of possession giveaways, clog like control and insipid finishes should have finished 25 minutes earlier. The man who terrorised Tottenham last season was as frightening as a fruit fromage to the North London outfit, this time out.
It was all so avoidable. City, with Yaya Toure in the ascendancy, should have put Spurs away way before the six minutes of ‘soccer suicide’. It was a similar scenario at Wembley with Chelsea, only difference being the Londoners ran out of time.
Mancini was quick to acknowledge City’s shortcomings bemoaning his side’s lack of clinical finishing and expressing his incredulity at the Keystone Cop defending.
The title has been long gone for weeks, so a Red Scum win on Monday night will at least mean we can dispense with any further delusion.
Mancini needs to address any illusion that all is not well within his camp, ensuring players and management alike have a 100% focus on six-out-of-six wins to end on a season high.