Date: 12th March 2012 at 5:06pm
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The Ped Report was late going to press today as I forced myself to watch of the second non-descript City match in four days. For the second time in those four days, the Premier League’s most expensively assembled front line failed to open an account against another mediocre team and on this occasion one that nestles in just about Premier League in the lower reaches of the division.

Yes Roberto Mancini was shorn of his first-choice centre backs but further upfield the talented richesse was in full cry, but not so much as the crying witnessed on the seating decks as the whistle went for full time.

Once again there was little positive to say about the first half. Gone was the mesmerising football that we saw ahead of Christmas, absent was the driving forward in adversity, at least until the last five minutes or so, and in it’s place was, dare I say…..typical City.

Swansea got off to an unlikely start. No doubt expecting the early onslaught that has become the Blues trade mark this season they found themselves with a gilt-edged chance of going ahead after five minutes when Hart conceded a foul against Routledge in the area and the referee pointed to the spot. After a bout of mind games where Joe repeatedly told Sinclair ‘You won’t beat me’, he finally proved it as Hart guessed right and saved the spot kick.

But City’s defenders were the busier in the first half hour as Silva, Yaya and Barry left their drive, strength and ambition in Estoril. Silva must have taken a shine to the lady assistant referee, so often did he pass to no-one and into touch.

There was the odd chance down at the Swansea end but no conviction, no end product and Vorm, with whom I have been impressed for most of the season had one of his easiest ninety minutes for some time.

Barry faced the ignominy of being replaced after the half hour and was clearly displeased. But come on Gareth, this is Man City, you were top of the league. Must do better.

On came Aguero and for a short while an air of balance returned to the team and maybe there was some threat after all. But it didn’t materialise and City must have been expecting a dressing down in the dressing room.

But the second half proved to be no better. True for a short spell City got up almost a head of steam but it quickly evaporated when with seven minutes left, Savic misplaced a pass to Yaya and Swansea sprang like a jack-in-the-box down the right. With players sprinting back into position it looked as the chance had gone as the ball reached Routledge out on the right. His inch perfect cross travelled along way but right onto the head of Moore, unattended at the far post. He did the rest to send the chorus of Land of Our Fathers to a crescendo and send the City heads down.

At last we had ignition, but the spark plugs searched desperately for a light and it came in the shape of Richards who thought he’d equalised only to find the lady assistant waving her flag. That extinguished ignition and also City’s efforts, or lack thereof, for the day.

Balotelli tried hard but got nothing out of the referee and was starting to hunt the red card, or so it looked. The team as a whole was too narrow and Nasri once again looked a shadow of the man who once played for Arsenal.

Kolo used all of his experience to deliver a good display in the centre which included a rare shot at goal which although struck with power didn’t trouble Vorm. Savic still makes fundamental errors. Richards and Clichy looked solid enough.

With the news coming in from Stretford of a 2-0 win there, City life at the top of the league was over for the time being. I say for the time being because I hope that Mancini arrests this poor run of form and gets City back to the football we have enjoyed for much of the season. He needs to do that.

When Stretford struggled they kept it together with scruffy 1-0 wins. They have won all of the tough matches put in front of them and Blackburn apart have routinely disposed of those in mid-table and those elsewhere. The three goal recovery against Chelsea takes on a whole new life as now they sit above City at the head of the league.

And it begs the question as to how City can prise their way back to the top. It is for certain that City have to be within three point of them on the morning of 30 April, because I am convinced that the only points Stretford will let go now are at the Etihad.

This means City has to beat Chelsea and a resurgent Arsenal, as well as things like Newcastle away (is that an ominous fixture?).

This is where we need to revisit the fighting spirit, the goalscoring machine and the togetherness that pulled City around this time last season. Is it in the locker?

Weight is now added to the Tevez question. I think he will appear in the next League match.

I have been saying more or less since similar circumstances at the New Year that if a Monday came with Stretford ahead of City on equal games then how will City react to that and will they be able to get back on terms. That Monday is today and only City can stop them.

 

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