Silva lining for City's misfiring millionaires
Manchester City 3
the advertising hoardings for firms like Clifton Quality Meats and Brand's Scaffolding reveal what a universe Blackpool are away from Manchester City's world of global corporate partnerships, but here was a game that revealed which of the two sides is under construction.
Etihad's elegant poster at Eastlands parades "blue sky thinking," but -- despite all that was to occur in the game's dying minutes -- it was the home side who let their imagination seize them and can reflect on defeat with disappointment.
Ambition, drive, verve are all qualities which money can buy, but Blackpool, with their constant sense of where each other would be, provided Roberto Mancini with an idea of what might be, one day.
And then came the pivotal moment which showed the individuality that £21m brings. David Silva, a substitute, was given 35 minutes to have an effect, but his contribution was instantaneous -- the intelligent positions he took up and his vision with the ball yielding space for others and a goal for Carlos Tevez. Then he scored a first Premier League goal of his own. It will be one he finds hard to better during his time in England.
The nature of Tevez's two goals -- one scrambled in ahead of Craig Cathcart, one deflected off the same man's left leg -- summed up City's good fortune, but the memory of Silva's is worth lingering on. He cut inside Stephen Crainey, then David Vaughan, then bent the ball past Charlie Adam into the top-left corner.
Tevez's contribution -- he now has 28 goals in 31 Premier League games yet may be rested against Lech Poznan on Thursday -- was a major one, utterly incongruous with the fact that his last game involved a dressing-room bust-up with his manager.
But if City have the look of a one-man team about them, then Mancini isn't complaining, considering his second-placed side currently look like one of the few capable of challenging Chelsea.
"I think that (in) six games we have played well and in two so-so," Mancini said. "But this is football and the strong teams win some games they don't deserve. We continue to change our mentality. Chelsea sometimes win the games they don't deserve to win."
The memory of City's late surge should not erase that of Luke Varney, racing first around Wayne Bridge, then Jerome Boateng, and exploiting the space in the first half. DJ Campbell crackled intermittently into life, running at Bridge to fire wide and stooping into a mistimed header.
The chants of "Oh, when De Jong goes flying in" were for a player who showed no signs that the Hatem ben Arfa incident has affected him. De Jong, still a fine defensive midfielder despite his brutal indiscretions, stemmed Blackpool's flow.
In the first half, Manchester City had plenty of chances to go ahead. A lofted ball down their left beyond Jerome Boateng, who persistently gives his opponent a yard too much space, was lifted to Johnson, who screwed wide.
Gary Taylor-Fletcher was wrongly adjudged offside after taking down a lofted pass and scoring. Ian Holloway, who said Tevez's first goal was offside and the second an infringement, was furious.
"[The referee] has got three massive decisions wrong which cost my team," he said. But Silva created space where it hadn't existed, loitering on the left hand side of the Blackpool area to take a James Milner backheel to play in Tevez for the opener. It was the Spaniard's pass which Milner thumped against the bar and for half-an-hour he and the captain vied to outdo each other.
Marlon Harewood's quite exquisitely flicked back header from Adam's free kick to equalise seemed to have seen justice done before Tevez stole the ball from Keith Southern and sent it in. Silva's goal proved critical, before Varney drove in a ball from a corner and Taylor-Fletcher poked it in off Gareth Barry, in injury time.
At the end, it was a big enough occasion for Blackpool to exchange tops with their opponents and James Milner was wearing his home top as he arrived to collect his champagne. The sponsor's name on the front of it again told the story. Wonga. (© Independent News Service)