The 3-0 thrashing by Liverpool of Man City last night was perhaps unexpected, but when you look at the merits of passion over money and positive thinking over negative tactics then it really wasn't a surprise...
Roberto Mancini is the root of Man City's problems
‘My mistake,’ said Roberto Mancini in the aftermath of Liverpool’s slaughtering of his troops. Clearly his English lessons have not yet extended to the use of plurals. Because despite him dropping a huge rick by playing with inverted wingers against a side containing a debutant right-back and a left-back shorn of pace by a succession of injuries, he is also the man who bought Balotelli - surely the least bothered footballer to ever play the game – the manager who argued the case for Dzeko without thinking how his integration would effect Carlos Tevez and the misery-guts who has reduced James Milner and Adam Johnson to a pair of jaded husks. Mancini might constantly be painted as some sort of Italian Bill Hicks by his mates, but as a manager, his default position is negativity. How often do you hear City players come out and extol the virtues of training? Never. How often do you hear Mancini carp about his players to the press? Too often to engender a positive team-spirit…
Money can't buy you passion and team-spirit
12 months and Man City were fourth with 59 points from 32 games. They are now fourth with 56 points from 32 games and have spent a net £126m in that period. The most worrying aspect of last night’s performance for City fans must surely have been the lack of application. The first thing fans expect is to see eleven players who will play with pride and, even more crucially, each other. City looked like eleven individuals. Following the minute’s silence, Liverpool were bound to be pumped up but for a team with as many expensive internationals to fold was baffling. Even Tevez, in his ten minutes on the field, looked lost and fed up. On top of that, they were second best technically and tactically.
Kuyt seems to have got quicker over the first ten yards, Skrtel has been reminded of the black arts of defending and every player has been schooled of an age old tradition. Pass, move, pass again, move again, support the man in possession and run until you drop.
Kenny Dalglish has made more than just an emotional impact
Dalglish is the diametric opposite to Mancini, the players love him, he refuses to make anything but positive statements to the press regarding the players and is taciturn when they try and press him. The message is clear, I’ll look after everything else, you worry about the 90 minutes and making the fans happy. The emotional impact of a club icon is, of course, a great starting point, but Liverpool were better in all departments last night. With Steve Clarke as his right hand man, you can guarantee the training at Melwood is as fun as it is instructive and we are beginning to see the green shoots on the pitch. Kuyt seems to have got quicker over the first ten yards, Skrtel has been reminded of the black arts of defending and every player has been schooled of an age old tradition. Pass, move, pass again, move again, support the man in possession and run until you drop.
A season out of European competition will be good for Liverpool
In 20 games as Liverpool manager, Roy Hodgson gained 25 points. In 12, Kenny Dalglish has 23. While Liverpool fans are right to dream of what might have happened had Dalglish been manager from the start of the season and averaged two points a game (they’d be second) I believe that the way things have happened will be best for the long term future of the club. Now that Champions League qualification is out of the window (unless Spurs and Man City melt of course) 6th place would be perfect. Apart from the blooding of youngsters – which he will do in the Carling Cup anyway – I can see no positives, beyond financial, of finishing 5th and playing another disruptive season in the Europa League. If City do finish fourth, they will be undeniably distracted by their debut season in the Champions league and Liverpool can focus entirely on attaining the best league position possible and, crucially, not having to constantly rotate players.
Carroll and Suarez are better than Torres.
Had Dalglish been manager from the off, Fernando Torres would have probably stayed at Anfield. Now hubris, hindsight and Schadenfreude are wonderful things, but to play the sort of expansive and varied football that he did in his first spell as manager, Dalglish needs a strike partnership. For all his merits, Torres is a lone gun, which is one of the reasons him and Drogba cannot work together. The only partner Torres ever had at Liverpool was an advanced Gerrard and, physically at least, he isn’t the same player now. Despite being only a handful of games into their partnership, Carroll and Suarez could be the most important pair since Beardsley and Aldridge or Rush. Whereas Tevez, who I love, looked jaded last night – you have to remember he won a Champions League and titles at United, the biggest club he played for – Suarez and Carroll are players on the up who are desperate to improve and are both facing the biggest challenge of their careers.
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