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No looking back for City

IF Roberto Mancini's travelling troupe of entertainers carry on in this manner, they will prove worthy successors to the last Manchester City team to become champions of England, which was achieved in 1968 by winning the final match of the season 4-3 away from home.

This time, fixtures on the last day, Sunday, May 13, happen to be the reverse of the weekend just gone, so Queens Park Rangers will be the visitors to the Etihad Stadium on the day City hope to be holding up the trophy.

The evidence from a thunderous evening's entertainment on Saturday was that both clubs could be celebrating, for Rangers proved that with further judicious strengthening in January they should secure another season at this level. The caveat in both cases is that a refreshingly positive approach needs to be tempered by better defending.



Admire

With the possible exception of City's left-back Aleksandar Kolarov, not one player in the back four of either side could be satisfied with his performance here.

The defending was particularly poor against crosses, which led to four of the five goals and numerous other chances, including a late header by the excellent Heidar Helguson that came back off City's crossbar, denying Rangers a deserved point.

Micah Richards, City's captain for the day in the absence of a badly missed Vincent Kompany, said of his team's football: "Sometimes I just watch and admire" - an inadvertent admission of a lack of concentration that has caused Fabio Capello to doubt his international credentials.

He was watching, if not admiring, when Jay Bothroyd headed the opening goal following a soft free-kick. Even before the second goal, City were planning an adventurous substitution by sending on Mario Balotelli. In contrast to last season's negative strategy in some away games, their approach is now once more associated with Kevin Keegan, who was watching from a television studio.

There is more to it than that, however, as Mancini's assistant David Platt explained afterwards. "What the manager's done is bought offensive players and if you're going to play them, then you've got to be offensive because that's what the characteristics are," he said.



Firepower

"The manager will be disappointed we've conceded two goals but it's good firepower to have.

"Last year we had a very good defensive record and we had a group of players that came in and had to get used to each other.

"We had to get used to David Silva wandering all over the pitch, to pretty good effect. We retain possession now, Gareth Barry covers him. We've worked a lot on the defensive side and still do, but we want to have the ability to be able to shore things up or go at teams."

Bothroyd opened the scoring before goals by Edin Dzeko and Silva put City in control for all of 15 minutes. After Helguson's equaliser, the plan to push Yaya Touré further forward and play on the break worked perfectly when he headed in Kolarov's cross for the winner.


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