Saturday, 22 September 2012

Man City Charred in Jose Mourinho's Firestorm...

 Jose Mourinho leapt out of the dug-out, raced pitch-side, unabashedly slid on his knees to celebrate Ronaldo's winning goal.  Do not be fooled thinking he was solely having a moment of unbridled joy for the three points his side had seemingly gained at the expense of their group rivals;  nor was it about Ronaldo's brilliance. It was Jose Mourinho stroking his ego. A revelation of the inner workings of a self-possessed, but highly motivated and ultra successful coach.

There was a sub-plot to the Real Madrid V Man City encounter at the Bernabeu, and it was contrived in the mind of  Real Madrid's coach. For starters it was a clash of two ex- Inter Milan managers, and Jose Mourinho would have wanted to prove he is top dog. After all, he replaced Roberto Mancini at Inter Milan, and succeeded where he failed - winning the champions League. There is a foot note if you like - his public feuding with former Inter Milan, and now Man City Striker Mario Balotelli, with his comments ( a few years back ) about the composition of his ( Balotelli's ) brain cells. More to the point, Jose Mourinho seized the gravitas of the occasion and the opposition, to breathe life into his Real Madrid team, in the throes of inertia with their start to the season. The self styled special one got his team focussed, motivated, and fired up for the champions league tie; and in my analysis, scorched Man City through and through ; and he would be hoping it is a lightning rod to spark Real Madrid's season going forward. You can see why that moment was as much a vindication of his principles to his players, as it was beating a team, and a coach he would have well and truly seen as an adversary and a threat to his superiority.

INTENSE : Is a word you associate with the Real Madrid Manager's approach. His team played with purpose and drive. They gave that extra effort, and most of them were on top of their game. Angel Di Maria was mesmeric and pungent. A master at making distracting diagonal runs across a defense, a warrior at the heart of the forays to dislodge the opposition. Then there was Left back Marcelo - who got forward so often, and so much into shooting positions, i was least surprised he scored Real Madrid's equalizer. The game served as a classic demonstration of 11 players pulling together, and delivering on all cylinders. Credit Jose Mourinho with that. His pugnacity may be putrid, but i have to hand it to him, he can galvanize a team to play with an indefatigable and relentless spirit. It was a firestorm that engulfed the big spenders from the North of England.

TIMID CITY: Manchester City Manager, Roberto Mancini ought to be embarrassed at his team's timid psyche. I have no hesitation in asserting they reflected their manager's tentative nature. If  i was his boss, he would be summoned to my office the following morning to explain not the team's loss, but their cowardice. It would have been tough for the uninformed observer to agree they were champions of England. Simply because they played without the requisite passion for such an occasion, and predominantly suffered stage fright. Yaya Toure displayed his usual tactical and technical prowess: executing his swashbuckling runs from midfield ; but there was hardly any figment of imagination from Javi Garcia, Gareth Barry, Alexander Kolarov, and Silva from midfield. When Dzeko came on to assist Tevez upfront,  was there the desired ignition. Having said that, City were flattered by the two goals they scored - one against the run of play ; the other fortuitous from Kolarov's free kick.  In many ways, 3-2 was a kind out come to the game. The dichotomy in quality and performance between the two teams was bigger than the score line reflects.

TEST: Roberto Mancini has an abysmal record in the champions league, and this is trial by fire time for him. Observers must be at a loss as to why Maicon played ahead Zabaleta; or why Maicon was recruited when they have an England International called Micah Richards who can play at right back also. Not so sure they have the right combination in central midfield to succeed in Europe. Yaya Toure aside, you'd have to speculate if Jack Rodwell, Javi Garcia, and the fit again Garreth Barry possess sufficient attacking and creative impetus to generate the pedestal for champions league success. They are  building themselves a mounting to climb, because it's now a must win game against Borrusia Dortmund, and pressure is not what champions league neophytes need.

BROAD VIEW : Man city are approaching a slippery slope. Not even in the premiership do they look steady and consistent. Yes, there have been injuries here and there, new signings, and the international break punctuating the flow of events,  but the manager's fretting and lack of conviction is evident ( even last season ). He has attempted tactical innovations at the wrong time, consequently changing personnel far too often at inauspicious times.  His reaction to Joe Hart's comments underlines his nervous tension. The keeper was hurt and raw from the manner of the defeat against Real Madrid, and spoke subjectively, but only about the team's failure to hold out at the Bernabeu, when they had a lead with a few minutes to go.  Mancini's orders to Joe Hart was churlish and conceited. Players at different Clubs echo the keeper's sentiments regularly after a loss, hence Mancini's reaction to it was staggering to say the least. Joe Hart was his best player on the night. Why slap him down ? The next few weeks would shape the story line for Manchester City this season.  If they fail to get a grip of their League form and concession of goals ; or find themselves in a parlous position in the champions league,  their manager's cautious and tentative predilection would stick out like a sore thump.
Who knows what fate brings, but Mancini definitely needs to sail his ship over calm waters from here on. Keep your fingers crossed, Roberto.

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