Mancini fumes as sloppy City come unstuck
Manchester City 1
Published 09/05/2011 | 05:00
David Moyes likened them to the New York Knicks basketball team because of their height but Manchester City enter a week that could redefine them feeling like chastened pygmies.
For all the money spent by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, a talent for making life unnecessarily complicated remains and the next few days will be far more arduous following this defeat.
Victory at Goodison Park would have enabled Roberto Mancini to rest the legs of his key men against Tottenham tomorrow night, with the FA Cup final against Stoke to come on Saturday.
But after surrendering a lead that revealed a worrying weakness for crosses -- which will have been noted by Tony Pulis, who could not even venture to the toilet without being grilled by supporters about Matthew Etherington's hamstring -- the visit of Spurs retains importance.
It may be a little removed from the Champions League decider that was the penultimate match of last season but there will be no shortage of tension at Eastlands.
Mancini plans to bring Carlos Tevez, sidelined with a hamstring problem since April 11, on for up to half an hour against Harry Redknapp's side but even that may be thrown into question if the game is not going City's way.
The City manager, who was involved in an ugly exchange with Phil Neville after the final whistle, maintains that a six-point lead over Tottenham with a vastly superior goal difference and three games remaining means that fourth place is not a major concern.
"I am not worried but I am disappointed because, if we had won this game, (the race for fourth) was finished and we could have prepared very well for the final but now we are thinking only of Tottenham," Mancini said.
But the nature of City's collapse under Everton's second-half onslaught -- they conceded both goals from headers -- will give Rory Delap and Stoke's long list of potential NBA recruits plenty of encouragement.
Nigel de Jong, who has been nursing a hip problem, is one who might have been spared tomorrow night but the Dutchman is certain that 35 woeful minutes will not disrupt City's attempts to end their 35-year trophy drought.
"We have now got to grind through the Tottenham game before the Cup final and that will be hard," De Jong said.
"It is our own mistake and we just have to get our heads clear again. This is a very important week for the club, the players and the fans. This is do-or-die for Manchester City. Fourth place is in reach and everything is in our hands.
"We just have to win that game against Tottenham, we then have a chance to be FA Cup winners after 35 years but we just have to learn from this game.
"We just have to think what we did wrong, take the mistakes out and if we do that, we can be in fourth place and FA Cup winners."
In the opening period at Goodison, the excellent David Silva and Yaya Toure combined to pull the hosts apart regularly and it was they who worked the opener, with the Spaniard slipping through for the Ivorian to finish with a cross-shot.
But again they simply seemed to stop doing what was so productive and Everton forced their way back, with Sylvain Distin heading in from Mikel Arteta's free kick and Leon Osman beating Vincent Kompany to glance in from Neville's cross.
At the final whistle Aleksander Kolarov accused Seamus Coleman of elbowing him, resulting in Mancini and Neville having to be pulled apart as they roared insults at each other.
Moyes has come out on top in each of his four meetings with Mancini and the closest the Italian has come to any sort of victory was ripping the ball from his counterpart's grasp at Eastlands last season. (© Daily Telegraph, London)