Carling Cup verdict: West Bromwich Albion 2 Manchester City 1
West Brom came from behind with two quick second-half goals to knock City out of the Carling Cup. Roberto Mancini made a full 11 changes from the side that won on Sunday, while Roberto Di Matteo made 10 for West Brom.
Critically, Mancini also had to allow for injured players in Boateng, Richards, Kolarov, Bridge, Lescott, Michael Johnson, Balotelli and Adebayor. As a result he was forced to field several youngsters with half the team in effect a third choice outfit. Shaun Wright-Phillips was also missing which may mean he had a knock as well.
“The game on Saturday is the most important. I could not pick another team. I had too many players injured and I could not risk getting any more injuries before that game. So I don’t have any regrets.”
With a defence consisting of Vidal, Boyata, Mee and Cunningham, it meant a busy night for Shay Given. This result shows that our younger players may not of the standard we’ve seen from say Arsenal in this competition in recent years.
At present only Boyata from the youngsters not on loan is making an impression with the first team. And of those on loan only Weiss is likely to have a future at the highest level.
Hopefully the class of Roman, Bunn and Henshall will make the step up, but it does go to show that if City want an Academy like Barca then there’s work to be done. With Financial Fair Play likely to affect our transfer spending and the upcoming investment in our training facilities, their can be no looking back to past achievements at the Academy. We need to kick on if we’re to produce the likes of a Iniesta or a Jack Wilshere.
Up front at West Brom, 18 year old Guidetti had experienced support in the form of Santa Cruz, Jo and Adam Johnson. It’s a concern that these players weren’t able to give the Baggies more problems. At least Jo continued his scoring form with a shot on the turn from the edge of the area. However, Santa Cruz in particular seems to be resigned to leaving the club in January.
By throwing on quality substitutes in Zabaleta, Silva and Milner, the manager was making an effort to extend our interest in the competition. He had a good record in the Italian Cup which demonstrates he recognises the value of winning a trophy.
It’s just that finishing in the top four has to be the priority and with a league game last Sunday followed by Chelsea on Saturday lunchtime he had little choice. The team to take on Chelsea in their current form needs to be at it’s freshest.
In the Premier League, Europa League and FA Cup, City could play 64 matches this season. With the current injuries, something has to give and for Mancini it has proved to be the Carling Cup.