Swansea away – not an easy fixture for any Premier League team – so what were the highlights when the recently deposed champions of England rolled into South Wales?
Well, the Gower Peninsula bathed in early summer sun is beautiful, the marina looks a treat, the local pizza parlour did a gastronomic pepperoni passion…sorry – oh yes, the football – that was totally underwhelming to the point of being non descript.
Here were two teams, one having already secured a domestic cup, one earmarked hot favourites to win the other, but could they produce an entertaining encounter? Err no!
It reminded me of an infamous headline in the Daily Telegraph of years ago, ‘Small earthquake in Chile – nobody injured’ and it begged the same question – what was the point?
A point apiece is the obvious point, a point that edges Manchester City closer to the runners-up slot and one that does nothing to alter Swansea’s comfortable mid-table resting place.
The clean sheet – the 16th for Joe Hart this season – will contribute to City’s defence being hailed the meanest in the division for a third consecutive year, as well as England’s number one, collecting a hat-trick of Golden Glove awards. One more and he will emulate last season’s 17 shutouts.
Joleon Lescott probably had a premonition of what was to come as he was ‘helicoptered’ out of Swansea before kick –off, the fact his wife was about to give birth to their fourth child, entirely incidental!
Staying with the medical theme, worrying news emerged that City wingman and ex-Swans’ favourite Scott Sinclair was hospitalised with a blood clot on his shoulder.
The afternoon offered further proof that a man, who will always be remembered for giving substance to that ‘Agueroooooo’ moment, has reached the end of the line as a Manchester City striker.
I take no pleasure in heralding the imminent departure of Edin Dzeko but the big Bosnian probably knocked £5million off his transfer fee with a glaring miss of seismic proportions.
Incredible as it is, Edin is City’s top scorer in the Premier League this season. In truth, he wouldn’t score with a wad of £50 notes in a Thai brothel, if recent performances are anything to go by.
He used to terrorize defences in the Bundesliga as the leader of Wolfsburg’s attack. ‘Wolf Man’ – it sounds like a character out of the sci-fi X-Men films. Sadly, all Edin delivers nowadays is x-rated horror shows in a City shirt.
Roberto Mancini said the imminent FA Cup Final date with Wigan had no bearing on City’s lacklustre afternoon. I am a huge supporter of Bobby Manc but I beg to differ.
If a strong City line-up – arguably the best first XI on offer – were fully focused and committed to this game I would be extremely worried. If this was Mancini’s idea of a team going for glory, then God help us!
The Sky Blues were lucky to still be in contention at half time after two strong Swansea penalty appeals were waved away by ref Mike Jones. The ‘culprit’ on both occasions was the prodigious Matija Nastasic.
A handball could easily have been given. Worse still, the young Serbian’s ‘felling’ of Michu was a nailed on spot kick. Credit to the match official, he’s screwed City on numerous occasions. His incompetence is like a tin of Quality Street – made for sharing.
There was a fear in the 75th minute that ‘Jonesy’ was going to ’do’ for City once again. Kompany challenged Nathan Dyer for the ball. The City skipper is bigger and stronger and won the ball from the little Englishman. Dyer fell over and only the referee could possibly think a foul had been committed.
It was a very dangerous position but thankfully karma came around and Jonathan de Guzman blasted high over Hart’s bar.
Michu – perhaps the bargain buy of the season – also missed a sitter as the men from Manchester defended with gusto. City were only woken from slumber in the closing minutes of the first half when Michel Vorm in the Swansea goal produced a double save from Silva and Aguero.
With Dzeko on – a tactical switch we were told for Yaya Toure – after the break, City took the game to their hosts. Aguero worked tirelessly but to no great effect and, despite having far more possession, City still had no real cutting edge.
By contrast, Dzeko looked as if unable to trap wind or a bag of cement, let alone a football.
His miss in the 83rd minute was virtually inexcusable after Zabaleta worked his way to the byline before crossing into Swansea’s six yard box. Dzeko was like a man with a dodgy deodorant – no one around him – and he sliced his shot horribly horribly wide from four yards out.
David Silva was the only man in maroon who was giving a half decent account of himself with some visionary passes and deft touches, although he too shot high and wide in the 84th minute.
The match limped into the latter stages – 93 ‘grey’ minutes in total – and quite tellingly not a single yellow or red card had been shown – an indictment on the passionless passage of play.
On the bright side, City emerged unscathed. It remains to be seen if Mancini pops some cotton wool, bubblewrap or, whatever other protective metaphor springs to mind, around the likes of Silva and Aquero for Tuesday night’s match with the boing boing Baggies.
Two points dropped in Wales means Chelsea could close the gap to four points on City, if Rafa can put another one over Slur Baconface at the Swamp. That result could help determine City’s team selection.
Chelsea then face Spurs in a titanic all-London Champions League qualification fixture, by which time City will either be in their sights or sitting pretty – eyes fixed firmly on Wembley.
One can only hope the next round of matches are as spicy as the splendid West Glamorgan pepperoni pizzas, and a tad more meaningful than a sleepy day in sun-drenched Swansea.