Roberto Mancini may have only been at Manchester City for two weeks or so but I have already noticed big changes in our tactics.
Mancini`s tactical nouse:
This is the thing I have been most impressed with about Mancini is his ability to change tactics in our favour mid-way through the game. First of all, against Stoke things weren`t going that well. So Mancini decided to switch the formation – moving Ireland into the middle and Petrov to the right. The switch work almost instantly as Ireland linked with Bellamy who squared it across the box to Robinho who`s failed shot fell into the path of Petrov who buried it.
Having a Plan B was Hughes` main problem; he only appeared to have one route of thought and could only make substitutions like for like. Mancini appears to have a Plan B and a Plan C.
It`s not the most popular tactic in the world but when practised enough it is very effective. Collectively, we dealt extremely well with the set pieces delivered by Wolves. Zonal marking has been used very badly by Liverpool. Andy Gray often argues against the system, as he believes a jumping runner will always beat a standing jump when competing in the air.
Men on posts:
Another quick thing I noticed was that we had men on both posts for both matches. In fact, Tevez cleared a header off the post despite calls from Shay Given telling him it was going wide.
Another important thing that I noticed during the Wolves performance was the fact that we were closing them down as if we were playing a Top 6 side. People often say that defending from the front is key. Bellamy and Tevez were running at the back four and the goalkeeper with real intent. Add to this Barry, de Jong and even Petrov pressing it forces Wolves to hit a hopeful long ball up to their strikers.
It is easily to get motivated and pumped up against the likes of Chelsea and Man United. We closed Chelsea down really well, which you would expect. Mancini apparently thrives himself on motivation and concentration.
Hughes allowed Wayne Bridge to roam around the pitch and encouraged Micah Richards to get forward. Mancini however is taking a completely different approach. He doesn`t really want the full-backs to travel beyond the half way point, arguing the fact that we should have enough attacking-minded players to break the opposition down without having to call upon your full backs.
I watched him have a go at Micah Richards after he took the ball too far without support and gave away possession. Mancini is like Eriksson in the way that he wants his teams to keep possession. I also saw him tell Sylvinho to get back into position in the dying seconds of the match.
Players thriving under Mancini:
Barry – He has been allowed to venture forward more whilst having specific defensive duties.
Tevez – Has become the man who is given the ball when we are breaking to ship it on to Bellamy. Three goals in two appearances speaks for itself – he is full of confidence.
de Jong – He has been allowed to make passes into more meaningful positions because the full backs are more disciplined.
Petrov – The Bulgarian has been given his chance. Mancini apparently regards him as an important player.
Garrido – Another given his chance who is set to start at Middlesbrough after scoring a scorcher at Molineux.