Verdict: Manchester City 1 Tottenham Hotspur 0
Goal: Crouch 30 mins for City.
City qualified for the Champions League with a single goal victory over Spurs, scored with sweet irony by Peter Crouch. The result was significantly better than the performance, though the resilience instilled by Roberto Mancini ensured there was no repeat of Saturday’s defeat.
Instead there is the promise of a new era with the club being able to attract better players at more reasonable prices just as Financial Fair Play kicks in. The importance of this result for Garry Cook’s “project” cannot be overstated.
“I am happy because this was our target, and I offer my congratulations to all the players because they did a fantastic job.
“After many years, Manchester City can play in the Champions League.”
Once again Spurs reminded us that there are still improvements to be made. Mancini’s squad is expensive, but inconsistencies in it’s quality need to be ironed out over the Summer.
This game illustrated the need for a quality left-back, a genuine partner for de Jong in midfield, a consistent wide player, and a striker other than Tevez who can take the game to the opposition. Tottenham are a good side, but with their confidence low, beating them shouldn’t be such a nerve-fraying experience if we’re to challenge for the title next year.
The game itself did have plus points. The return of Micah Richards was timely in allowing Zabaleta to switch to the left flank, and this pair should be retained for the Cup Final.
Arguably the key difference in City’s line-up from last year was Joleon Lescott in place of Kolo Toure. Last season Peter Crouch provided a focal point to Spurs approach play by dominating Toure in the air.
This year Crouch cut a frustrated figure as he battled first against Lescott, then Kompany and Richards. Tottenham were toothless as a result, despite enjoying a huge percentage of possession.
Spurs went close to scoring on just two occasions – a shot from Modric that whistled past the post and a header from Pienaar just after half-time which was clawed away by Hart.
Aside from the goal City had two clear chances in the first half, with a shot from Dzeko straight at Cudicini and Silva electing to pass rather than shoot. Later on their were additional chances with Vieira unlucky to see his shot headed clear by Gallas and Tevez going close in the final seconds.
In his twelve minutes, Tevez reminded everyone of his huge importance to the current side. If he’s fit there’s little argument against him starting at Wembley. Once again Dzeko didn’t show enough to indicate that a full pre-season will turn him into a top Premier League goalscorer.
Tevez was expecting to come on sooner but Mancini correctly changed his mind in view of the game situation and brought on Vieira instead. It proved one of the manager’s best substitutions in his time with the club.
From being a side overwhelmed, we steadily regained a foothold in midfield. Vieira himself could be seen pushing forward and pressing the Spurs defenders shortly after coming on.
Influence of Vieira: Before he came on last night, Spurs outpassed City 440-224. After he came on (67 mins), it was just 107-103 (to Spurs).
The challenge next year will be to ensure we remain in the top four, unlike Tottenham. It won’t be easy with Liverpool likely to pose a strong challenge, particularly if they sign players of the calibre of Juan Mata.
This game signalled the first major achievement under Sheikh Mansour and it gives us the opportunity to move forward again in the Summer. Before that is the Cup Final and Mancini can take to Wembley a side full of confidence and ready to write another chapter of history.