Blog by: Tanya
After a drab draw against Stoke City at The Britannia stadium, an evident amount of criticism has been targeted towards the Manchester City manager, Manuel Pellegrini. In charge of the club, owned by some of the richest men in Abu Dhabi, he has the burden of churning out results equivalent to the lavish amounts spent at the club.
The Champions League is one such tournament. The wrath of the owners towards ex-manager Roberto Mancini was partly due to his incompetence of not getting his team beyond the group stages. With such massive sums of money being showered on the club by its’ owners, Pellegrini must be obliged to deliver mid-week, or else gradually be the victim of another sacking.
The match against Stoke City could have easily been won by the home side, and Manchester City should thank them that they didn’t. Stoke looked like the only side trying to win and Joe Hart was in good form to save face for the Citizens. He made some brilliant saves from the Potters to deny them their third consecutive victory.
Manuel Pellegrini has much work to do if the story of Manchester City’s season is to be a happy one.
Stoke manager Mark Hughes must know every bit about Pellegrini’s situation, having been in the same shoes himself. He was consequently sacked, unable to transform the club’s riches into results. But at Stoke, he has been tactically brilliant so far and has done well to pull the team out of the Tony Pullis era. The Stoke of old and new have vast differences in style and motivation, and results alike. Hughes took no time in admitting his team had made City look ‘ordinary’.
“Maybe they picked a team they thought would win given they play in the Champions League in midweek. Maybe they prioritised the wrong game,” he smiled.
Pellegrini’s response to a poor show was as defensive as his tactics, blaming injuries and the international break. Manchester City sat back most of the game and the chances they produced were scarce.
“I don’t think you must expect to win every match. Of course we want to win every game but it is impossible to do it”.
“I will not always be happy when we draw away but for this match I think it was a good draw. I don’t believe because we made changes. We didn’t play well. Stoke also played a good match and that is also why we didn’t have clear chances to score”, said Pellegrini in the post-match conference.
His big guns, including Sergio Aguero and Jesus Navas, started the game on the bench. They were called on only in the later stages of the game, and they managed to create some urgency but it proved to too little, too late.
He also had employed rotation in almost every game. Against Stoke, five of his front six were starting their first Premier League game of the season. Stefan Jovetic was handed his debut, ahead of Sergio Aguero but made little impression. Alvaro Negredo put himself about throughout the game, without much desired consequence.
City, although with more possession, could not make it count. Nasri and Jovetic produced weak shots at the goalkeeper and Negredo’s effort, curling over the bar, was their only other threatening moment before the interval. There was also no sign of Fernandinho, the most expensive of all the costly summer signings.
City’s primary reason to finish adrift of Manchester United last season was points not taken away from home. Already 4 games into the season, and City seem to be doing the same. The win on opening day against Newcastle offered both a glimpse of the style of football Pellegrini is looking to adopt and the immediate effect it can bring. But defeat at the hands of Cardiff, and a tame draw at The Britannia stadium has given a peek into the lack of fluidity in attack and a glimpse of shaky defense.