Lescott at a loss over away days
Published 12/11/2013 | 13:46
Joleon Lescott is at a loss to explain Manchester City's failings on the road.
Manuel Pellegrini's men slipped to a fourth defeat in six Barclays Premier League away games this season at Sunderland on Sunday, a run of results which the manager later acknowledged will severely damage their hopes of challenging for honours if they cannot address it as a matter of urgency.
However, Lescott is struggling to understand why a team which has been so clinical at the Etihad Stadium - they arrived on Wearside having scored 12 goals in the two home games which preceded the trip to the north-east - is unable to replicate that form away from Manchester.
He told City TV: "I'm not sure, it's hard to say. It's not like we feel any different going into the game.
"Obviously, the atmosphere and the surroundings are a lot different, but every team has to play away and at the minute, we just can't put it all together and go on a run of results away from home.
"Yes, we win the games here and there. We won in the League Cup and then West Ham, but it's been stop-start away from home, so we need to knuckle down now and pick up some points."
City have now collected just four of the 18 points they have contested on their travels and currently trail leaders Arsenal by six points.
But their latest setback was unexpected to say the least with Sunderland languishing inside the relegation zone before kick-off with just a single league victory to their name this season.
The visitors' fate was sealed inside 21 minutes when former Manchester United full-back Phil Bardsley brushed aside James Milner in pursuit of Wes Brown's ball over the top - referee Mike Dean took a liberal view of his challenge on the midfielder - and cut inside before curling a shot across keeper Costel Pantilimon and inside the far post.
City's response was initially lukewarm, and although they stepped up a gear after the break with the introduction of dangerous winger Jesus Navas and later striker Edin Dzeko, a wealth of possession yielded few clear-cut chances.
Bardsley blocked a Navas shot from point-blank range and keeper Vito Mannone pulled off an acrobatic save to deny Dzeko, but the Black Cats held out to maintain their remarkable home record against the visitors.
Sunderland have now beaten City 1-0 on each of their last four league visits, a statistic which further mystifies Lescott.
Asked why he and his team-mates have found life at the Stadium of Light so challenging, he said: "I don't know, it's one of those things. It's hard to say.
"Normally when you lose a game, you can put your finger on why and the reasons for that, but I can't see that today.
"I honestly don't believe we should have lost the game and it's disappointing to come away with nothing.
"They defended well - you have got to give them some credit. As much as maybe we deserved to get something, their game-plan was spot-on.
"Similar to Cardiff, they worked hard. Every player worked extremely hard and did the job asked by the manager, obviously.
"We have got to give some credit to Sunderland, but we are disappointed with the result.
It's happened now four years on the trot, so it's not a very easy place for us to come at the moment.
"But overall, I don't think we deserved to lose the game.
"Maybe they had a bit more appetite in the first half than we showed at certain times, but overall, I definitely thought we should have come out with something at the end of the game."