Date: 1st February 2012 at 8:38am
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It is a disappointed Pedmachine that writes for you this morning against the background of City surrendering their points advantage at the top of the Premier League last night, to breathe new hope into the red half of just outside Manchester, and to keep the Blues looking over their shoulder.

As the Stretfords disposed of mid-table opposition, City once again could not bring home any points from the dreaded Goodison Park last night amidst Mancini telling the world that he had not prepared properly for this match.

In many ways that is a startling admission from the manager of the most expensively assembled squad in the history of the game and not one that will be acceptable amongst the sand dunes should all not be well come May. Mancini claims he underestimated the strength of the opposition based upon their injury count. Mr Mancini, look at past performance. City never wins at Goodison no matter what, how can you underestimate the state of this awkward opposition? City fans will tell you that they detest going to Everton, so how can you not prepare properly? You are presiding over the potential champions. If you don`t do your job properly two things will happen. One is City will not become champions and as a result of mis-managing the resources at your disposal you will find yourself handing over the keys to somebody else, and with Mourinho hinting at a comeback to the Premier League, you don`t have to be a genius to work out who that will be.

Once again this looked like a match City could win. Once again the ghastly Moyes rallied his troops to make life difficult for City. Once again an average bunch of average footballers proved to be too much for the world`s best.

non-descript first half gave us little in terms of football and even less in terms of goal chances. Neither team took the game by the scruff of the neck and neither in reality looked likely to score. There were a couple of efforts notably from Richards and Nasri but when the most exciting thing to happen is a man handcuffing himself to the goal posts then it tells you something about the footballing effort.

City would have been reasonably happy getting to half time at 0-0, probably expecting to push on to victory in the second half. In the end it was not City who pushed on. It was Everton.

he Toffees probably didn`t look much like scoring, but they got lucky when a speculative shot from Gibson deflected off Gareth Barry and found a different part of the net to that expected by Joe Hart. Once again the move started with Dzeko surrendering the ball a little too easy in midfield.

fter that, although City tried hard, changed the points of attack, pushed on from midfield, they simply could not find the keys to unlock a stubborn Everton defence minus its two key performers, Jagielka and Heitinger.

In the same way as Barry`s block was indeterminate, as has been those of de Jong and Barry again in recent matches, Everton threw everything in front of City`s limited efforts and made sure that the way past Tim Howard was never going to be an easy one.

t was a match with no real heroes for City. Vincent Kompany made his comeback after suspension and added some steel and organisation to the defence. The rest of the backline looked reasonably solid. The midfield moved the ball well but none of the keyholders could find the killer pass that Aguero feeds upon. For his part the Argentino didn`t give up the ghost but the openings did not come his way. Neither did they for Dzeko, who still looks out of touch and is still lacking in confidence despite two goals in recent matches. The big Bosnian still suffers from the squad rotation that saw an in-form striker left out for a key match and he hasn`t really got back on form since. Perhaps that is something else Mancini will have to account for.

That we would miss Balotelli was a no-brainer. In the same way as the defence suffered at the hands of Kompany`s suspension, so the attack will suffer when it has no plan B. With Tevez still not sold and Balotelli forced to sit out the next three matches, there looks to be little diversity to the front line at a time when John Guidetti is finding the back of the net every week in the Eredivisie. That may be a good decision for the present but what for the future? John will be enjoying his time in Holland and it may well be that he sees that as his future as opposed to waiting behind the big three at the Etihad?oh and Tevez.

Hand ball still persists in being a problem for our referees. City get penalised for arbitrary efforts like that of Richards against Liverpool, but don`t get the rub of any green when opposition defenders hang out their arms like Phil Neville did last night. Commentators tell us “We`ve seen them given”. Probably not in City matches unless they are at our end.

So it was a disappointing night for all things Manchester. Our neighbours from just outside scrambled to a 2-0 win over Stoke and City fired blanks at Goodison Park. All things are now equal in terms of points at the top, only goal difference falls in City`s favour. Goal difference may yet play an important part in this season`s title challenge. City need to start finding the net with the regularity of early season to keep the challenge alive.

The fans too will be looking nervously over their shoulders.


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