Thursday 14 December 2017

Mancini stumped by City's failure to launch

Everton 2 Man City 1

So, after all these years, Manchester City are still waiting to see what it feels like to pick the fruit from the tree after yet another costly defeat to Everton.

A month ago, manager Roberto Mancini claimed the time had come to "raccogliere i frutti all'albero" [harvest the fruit from the tree] and for 45 minutes he looked to be as good as his word as Yaya Toure gave the visitors a deserved advantage.

At that stage, fourth place was all but sealed ahead of Tuesday's game against Tottenham and would have allowed Mancini to rest players before the FA Cup final against Stoke.

But after seeing goals from Sylvain Distin and Leon Osman give Everton a seventh win in eight in this fixture, the visit of Harry Redknapp's side will now have to be taken at full throttle.

To make it even more enjoyable for the home team, it was Joleon Lescott's first return to Goodison Park since his acrimonious £24m move to Eastlands in the summer of 2009.

And even worse for the visitors, as Mancini lost for a fourth time to David Moyes, this was another example of a new version of 'Typical City', with the visitors showing how good they can be before seemingly being paralysed when their dominance got them a lead.

An ugly confrontation that started between Seamus Coleman and Aleksander Kolarov and ended with Phil Neville and Mancini having to be pulled apart summed up the visitors' anger.

"I think it was incredible we lost this game," said Mancini, who is hopeful that Carlos Tevez can prove his fitness after a hamstring problem by coming off the bench against Spurs. "We need to improve our situation. We can lose, but you can never become a strong team unless we close this out."

A relieved Moyes admitted his side could have been out of the game by half-time.

"They bossed the game and we never laid a glove on them," said Moyes. "We were fortunate to go in at half-time 1-0 down. We changed the system round a little bit and I don't know if it was the system but we got closer to people, looked more attacking and were a bigger threat.

"The team Man City had could probably play in the NBA," he added. "It was like the New York Knicks with the size of them. It was really difficult to match them. It was a case of everybody manning the pumps to get us through the last five or six minutes."

For all the money that City have spent since the Abu Dhabi United Group takeover of 2008, there have been few better major signings than David Silva.

The little playmaker took every chance to show his class, taking down a 70-yard pass from Vincent Kompany on his toe before shooting wide and also creating a great chance that Patrick Vieira lifted over from close range. The Spaniard was finally rewarded when he was picked out by Nigel de Jong's pass on the edge of the box and after Distin slid in, Silva laid the ball off for Toure to thump a shot across Tim Howard.

There were further opportunities to put the game beyond the hosts as City pulled Everton all over the place and David Moyes replaced Tony Hibbert, who had been tormented by Silva, with Jermaine Beckford at the break.

Initially City played 20 yards deeper but they still looked bright on the break and could have doubled their lead when Silva slipped a clever pass through for Toure, whose effort was blocked on the edge of the area by Howard.

But as Everton started to swarm, there was no outlet for the visitors and it was no surprise when Distin met Mikel Arteta's cross with enough power to beat Joe Hart, despite the City goalkeeper getting a solid hand to the ball.

Seven minutes later Everton moved in front when Neville's clipped cross saw Osman beat Kompany in the air to find the top corner.

James Milner had an effort deflected over in the closing stages, but City's desperation was summed up when they had to throw on Jo in the closing stages in search of an equaliser.


Irish Independent Sport Star Awards

Pick our magic sports moment of the year and win a trip for two to London. To view the shortlist and cast your vote click here.

Sunday Indo Sport

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport