Already one trophy is out of sight for City this season and that will be disappointing to the Blue Mooners.
Mancini told us that he would be firing on all fronts in the hunt for silverware, but like most of the leading clubs paid some disrespect to the last trophy to find its way into the Maine Road cabinet by fielding half a dozen academy products against a more or less full strength West Bromwich Albion as City joined Chelsea and Liverpool on the exit chute.
One the one hand it is pleasing to see some of the youngsters getting their opportunity, but the leap from the type of football they have been playing to a cup tie against a Premier League side is a mighty one. And it needn’t have looked that way had Guidetti taken the chances thast came his way, one forcing a double save from Myhill. Equally Cunningham and Vidal were given a torrid time chasing the very lively Tchoyi and Barnes, who provided width for the Baggies and served up several potential assists of their own. On the other hand it is disappointing to be handing Stretford another chance to move the clock on and enhance their chances of winning what is probably their best or only opportunity of a trophy this season.
City went in front quite early – 19 mins – when Jo pounced on some good work from Guidetti, who has that languid gait of Chris Waddle and who for me really is starting to look as though he has truly made the most of his recent loan spell away in Scandinavia.
Shay Given turned in a very competitive performance but was helpless against the two chances that ended up in the back of his net in quick succession just before the hour mark. City’s season total in the goals against column doubled at the drop of a hat.
Marking should have perhaps been closer for the twin strikes from Zuiverloon and Cox.
Santa Cruz once again looked off the pace with no heart for battle. His heart is probably more aligned with the transfer window. He has disappointed me from the moment he joined City and cannot still be suffering from that injury.
In the end and despite City throwing on Zabaleta to shore up the defence, Silva and Milner to try to snatch an equaliser, West Brom saw the match out and were worthy winners in the end. Mancini feels it is said that the League Cup was not a priority. For me every cup is worth winning especially as the cupboard has been bare for so long.
So we now move on the facing Chelsea at home on Saturday and without a full back four as Richards has now joined the injury list. I think that Mancini must play Zabaleta at left back and I would go with Boyata at right back assuming Boateng doesn’t make it. Against that background I would go with:
Hart: Boyata, Toure, Kompany, Zabaleta
Milner, De Jong, Barry, Yaya, Silva: Tevez
Probably a bit hard on Johnson but he could be an impact player later on.