Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Reflection: Controversial referee costs City

By Aaron Leggott

City's chances of Champions League qualification from Group D were all but over after last night's disappointing draw at home to Dutch champions Ajax.

After the 3-1 defeat in Amsterdam a fortnight ago, City knew that defeat last night was unthinkable, as was a draw. Whilst it is still not mathematically impossible, we are relying heavily on our rivals dropping points in the final two group games, which is unlikely.

Two goals from Siem de Jong in the first 17 minutes gave City a mountain as the Blues were once again unable to deal with the Ajax threat from set pieces. After Niklas Moisander exploited the weakness in zonal marking a fortnight ago, it was de Jong's turn last night, as he scored two of the easiest goals in his career.

It will have frustrated Roberto Mancini greatly, especially considering our height advantage compared to our Dutch opponents, and you get the feeling that our new defensive coach, Angelo Gregucci, has a lot of work to do.

For those who don't know much about Gregucci, he has been a relative failure in terms of his coaching career. His latest vacancy lasted only three months, as he was unable to push Serie B hopefuls Reggina into a prominent position for promotion.

Considering how strong our defence has been in the past two seasons, I don't understand Mancini's need for change in that department, especially considering the current state of our back line.

However, we once again showed some steel as we came back to grab a 2-2 draw, even if it wasn't enough in the grand scheme of things. 

Going away from our Champions League campaign though, it is encouraging that we are still unbeaten in the Premier League, despite not being at full strength, and hopefully the boys can push on, starting from Sunday's game at home to Tottenham.

Ahead of United's game against Braga tonight, Alex Ferguson came out and said that he believed the biggest threats in the competition were Barcelona, Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund. The latter two, as everyone knows, are in the group of death along with us. 

When you take that into consideration, are people really surprised at how we have done in our four games? In all honesty, I don't believe any other English side could have done a better job than us. Currently, Dortmund are one of the best sides in world football in my opinion, and to see Madrid even struggled to get a result against the German champions says all you need to know to be honest.

Of course, we haven't performed to the best that we can play. There were occasions, in particular at the Amsterdam Arena and the Bernabeau, where we had chances to put the game to bed when in front, but didn't take our chances, and that's the disappointing aspect.

We are now relying upon results to go in our favour, whilst also winning our last two games, so if we are to be realistic, the odds are heavily stacked against us. However, after what happened towards the end of the last season, can anyone really rule City out until it's mathematically impossible? I think not.

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(c) The Sky Blue View 2012

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