Are Manchester City too negative?By: Rob | October 5th, 2010
So Carlos Tevez has somewhat spectacularly hit out at Manchester City’s negative tactics this season, having a massive row with City manager Roberto Mancini. The pair have never exactly seen eye to eye, but Mancini made Tevez captain at the start of the season, and has been using him as the lone striker protected by three defensive minded midfielders so far this season.
City have been undenyably negative this season, considering the talent on show, its surprising (perhaps not for those who watched Mancini’s Inter) considering the money spent, and the players signed.
Its also difficult to argue with the fact that they are currently sat second in the table, having beaten Chelsea already this season. So, the big question – are City being too negative to win the title? Or are they doing the smart thing in being so cautious?
There are two case studies I would like to bring to your attention. First off is Liverpool under Rafael Benitez, just a couple of years ago (2008–09). Hard to believe next to their current freefall into crisis, but Liverpool really should have taken the Premier League title. They finished four points behind Manchester United, who won the league, but the telling statistic is this – Man United won 26 games and drew 6 on their way to 90 points. Liverpool won 25 games, and drew 11. Several of those 11 draws were against sides, that with all due respect, they should have beaten. But often they were 0-0 draws, and that is exactly what cost Liverpool the title. Goodness knows how different things would be now if they’d won it.
On the other hand, there is Chelsea under Jose Mourinho. The original billionaire free-spenders, Chelsea initially looked like the entertainers they were in the 70s under Claudio Raineri, but Mourinho came in and installed a strictly defensive regieme that bought they every trophy under the sun (except the elusive Champions League) being super defensive, worked for Jose, and he even managed in interviews to make Chelsea seem a persecuted underdog, meaning that when Man United employed defensive tactics in Man United-Chelsea games, it seemed like Sir Alex was the bad guy.
I don’t know which way it will go for Mancini, though the amount of draws he is picking up suggests that perhaps it’ll be the former. in 2004–05, Chelsea drew 8 times, 7 games into the season and City have drawn twice (Man United meanwhile have already drawn 4 times, and sit just a point behind City). If he can start reliably grinding out wins, his system will work, but considering the football he could be playing, its still disappointing.
If he starts to win games, Tevez’s outbursts will be no more remembered than any of Drogba’s many, many outbursts at Chelsea. If they don’t win trophies, the in fighting could tear City apart.