Well that didn’t go too well. A bit of a thumping at the hands of the Bank of Abu Dhabi Works XI confirmed some things we already knew, that we’re short up front and in the centre of midfield but also perhaps that there’s more strengthening at the back needed than we thought was the case. ‘Lightweight’ is a description I often use to describe our strike force in these match reports, in this match that adjective covers the midfield as well. Kranjcar was out of position and did his best, Modric was out of his head and disappointing, Bale was largely anonymous until the damage had been done and Lennon endeavoured but was peripheral the majority of the time.
At the back both Kaboul and Dawson allowed Dzeko to get to the ball first at crucial times (though the Bosnian’s header for the second goal was a peach after he’d climbed above Daws) and Corluka struggled against Nasri.
It’s pretty much unprecedented in my lifetime to be so outplayed by Man City but give me £300m and I could have a good go at putting together a side better than our one, especially one with the injury problems we’ve managed to accumulate already. Many of the cast offs on the opposition’s bench would have got into our team on Sunday, specifically Johnson, Richards, Milner and Tevez. It comes to something when a man of the talents of Sergio Aguero was actually the weak link in City’s attack for most of the game.
We were set up very ‘optimistically’ with no holding player in sight. Harry said that he had no choice with the players available; with hindsight though he may wonder whether perhaps Kaboul in midfield might have been an option. We started well and Bale should’ve put us ahead whilst Van der Vaart tested Hart a few times. City scored two goals when the game was still even and their resulting gain in confidence was enough to put them out of reach.
We played for the last quarter of an hour with ten men after Van der Vaart knacked himself. We have to hope it’s not serious as he was again our major goal threat. He will be desperate for more support in his endeavours up front and I’m not sure that just Badebayor is enough despite the fact that a determined Defoe looked a lot sharper than he did on Monday when he came on. Crouch was well and easily handled by Lescott and Kompany and the subject of a lot of stick from those around me in the North Stand. Friedel played well throughout and Livermore did himself credit when he came on for the sulking Modric after an hour.
So all a bit disappointing and a little chastening. As I said at the start the ninety minutes threw our weaknesses into sharp relief. Some strengthening is vital. Other teams will have seen our plight and might up the price of the players we’re after by a few bob before the end of Wednesday, it is though a surcharge we should pay otherwise we’re in for a frustrating season.
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