Five things we learned from Manchester City's latest away day defeat
Published 07/04/2015 | 09:45
Football moves on quickly and a Manchester City team that looked at their absolute peak 18 months ago suddenly now feels stale. Have they been sated by huge salaries and a few trophies?
1) Manchester City need major changes this summer
Or is this just the inevitable consequence of a transfer policy that has focused so heavily on big transfer fees for already established players?
Whatever the symptom, the treatment is now significant change. Fresh momentum is needed. Underachievers should be moved on.
Hungry young players need to be unearthed.
The search should start from within. Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal may all now may finish above them but these three clubs should also again be better next season. City will only regress further without major change.
2) Joel Ward and Scott Dann should be on Roy Hodgson’s radar
There has been much to admire at Crystal Palace during the past two seasons but what really stands out is their resilience and organisation.
Manchester City were predictably dominant in possession but, for all their quality, they struggled to create chances.
Scott Dann was making his 100th Palace appearance and is already established among the most dependable full-backs in the Premier League. Scott Dann has also had an excellent season in the centre of defence.
England are not short of attacking options just now but right-back and centre-back do remain positions of comparative weakness. Ward and Dann are well worth a look.
3) Selhurst Park under the lights is a hazard place for the big boys
After ending Liverpool’s Premier League title tilt last year with that remarkable 3-3 draw on a May Monday night, Crystal Palace again struck last night under the Selhurst Park lights.
The ground is of course something of a throwback but, like Loftus Road, Upton Park, Anfield and Goodison Park, the close proximity of the supporters to the pitch adds to an intensity that seems both to inspire the Palace players and inhibit their opponents.
Maybe it also subconsciously influences referees. The impact is only exaggerated at night-time. Potential title contenders next season will certainly not want any visit to Selhurst Park rescheduled for the Monday Night Football Sky cameras.
4) Technology in football remains long overdue
A familiar subject but one that will not disappear until some form of video footage is introduced.
The latest evidence arrived via two potentially game-changing decisions last night. Was Glenn Murray offside for Palace’s first?
Probably but it was sufficiently marginal for referee Mike Oliver, as well as his assistants, to be absolved of serious blame. Palace will also remember that they had an onside goal disallowed against City at the Etihad Stadium earlier in the season.
Yet both incidents could have been quickly settled within seconds. Murray was far more fortunate in the second half when a blatant handball was missed. Yes, Oliver should have seen it but such obvious – and occasionally inevitable – errors should also be instantly rectified.
5) The pendulum has shifted back to London
The Premier League trophy has been in Manchester for seven of the past eight seasons. A lengthy stay in the capital may now await.
Chelsea are not just almost certain to win the title this season but their nearest challengers also look likely to be Arsenal.
Sunday’s Manchester derby could well be a play-off for third.
That's important in that neither team will want the inconvenience of a Champions League qualifier at the start of next season but a major shift in the recent landscape of English football.
Chelsea and Arsenal also look likely to have the most balanced and settled squads going into next season.