Leaving Carlos Tevez for another article, there were plenty of other things in City’s defeat by Bayern that warrant discussion. The furore around Carlos has diverted the attention from what was one of Roberto Mancini’s worst nights on the pitch.
There may have been half an hour left when Tevez failed to appear, but with Bayern in complete control and Carlos not in great form, the game was as good as over. Tevez remaining on the bench cannot be said to have cost us the game.
The manager has rightly spoken about the need for a big squad of quality players who can be rotated, yet there has been too little of this rotation in evidence. City started brightly but the efforts put into beating Everton at the weekend caught up with several players and the team lost it’s edge in pressing to regain possession. From then on Bayern were dominant.
Kolo Toure for Joleon Lescott was the only change from the side that started at the weekend, and this backfired. Far from freshening up the side, Kolo’s lack of match practice left him looking shattered and rendered him ineffective at closing down opponents during the second half.
The key area was midfield and once again Barry showed he cannot cope with two games in a week. Yaya was little better. With the two holding midfielders failing to dominate, the attacking quartet were dragged back to help out – which is the strength of none of them.
It was said on these pages that if we were under the cosh, then the side would be better served by Tevez than Dzeko. Mancini will rightly be backed to the hilt in his dispute with Tevez, but that doesn’t change the view that Carlos should have started the game.
The sparkle has gone from Dzeko’s August form and rotating Tevez into the side would have frehened up the attack, while giving Dzeko chance to recharge. Dzeko’s most significant contribution in tracking back was to concede the free-kick which led to the second goal.
Tevez could have dropped deep, linked up with Aguero and caused Boateng and Van Buyton a lot more problems than the more conventional forward play of Dzeko. While Tevez is getting slaughtered at every turn today, it’s bound to be overlooked that he was flying in training last week and happy before flying out to Munich.
Bringing de Jong on was the obvious change in attempting to regain the midfield. Unfortunately, Nigel’s lack of fitness meant he wasn’t able to affect procedings. City would have been better served with the energy of Milner in the central area.
Leaving Aguero to operate as a lone striker was also unsuccessful and should serve as a warning. Although he’s of a similar build to Tevez, Sergio doesn’t have the strength and determination to hold the ball up, harass opponents and lead the line like Carlos. It’s difficult at the moment to see him playing this role in either the Premier League or Champions League.
Not starting Tevez in this game has resulted in him being unlikely to feature again. This is a huge loss in terms of rotation with none of Balotelli, Dzeko or Aguero having proved themselves over any length of time in the Premier League.
Many have questioned Mancini’s initial formation, yet it should be remembered that for the first half hour City were looking good. Boateng ought to have had two penalties given against him and Dzeko could have scored from a Richards cross.
Bayern had taken it easy at the weekend, while City needed to give everything in defeating Everton. If in the return game, City are the fresher side and Mancini has a fully fit de Jong, then it’s conceivable the game could follow a different path.
For that to happen, Mancini needs to learn lessons from this. A return of disciplined defending is one thing while, primarily, he needs to rotate his squad to ensure we have fresh players against this level of opponent.