Manchester City 1-2 Wigan Athletic – “When will they finally learn their lesson?”
It has happened too many times this season – where the Blues have either underestimated their opponents, or given them too much respect, and neither the players or the manager seem to be learning their lesson.
I’ve no idea what goes on behind the scenes in the dressing room, but it seems to me that a lot of the players have lost their will to win in recent games. A lot of the time the will to win can be just as (or more) important as the quality of the players, as proven by Wigan yesterday.
I thought that, once again, Manuel Pellegrini got the team selection wrong, or at least didn’t pick the team that I thought he would. As we found out earlier in the season against Watford, you can’t afford to drop your best defenders under any circumstances, as the Blues don’t look half the team that they usually do without the likes of Kompany or Zabaleta. When both are playing, the team have defensive stability, which allows the rest of the team to to do what they do best – press forward and attack, but when they aren’t playing, we have problems.
To his credit, Manuel Pellegrini spotted this at half-time against Watford, and so brought them both on in a double substitution, and from that point on it was a completely different game. So why didn’t he learn from his previous mistakes and this time start with Kompany and Zabaleta? Or at least bring Kompany on at half time?
Pellegrini said after the game that the reason for leaving Kompany out of the starting 11, and Zabaleta out of the squad entirely, was because they played 90 minutes for their international teams on Wednesday night, and that they needed a rest. But surely it was the same for Yaya Toure, who played almost the full game for Ivory Coast on the same day?
Ironically, when Samir Nasri was asked as to why he thought they lost a few minutes later, he said that it was because some of the players, like him, HADN’T played in midweek, and so they weren’t as sharp as usual – a totally different answer to Manuel Pellegrini. So – inevitably – it begs the questions “who is right?” and “who is making up excuses?”.
But don’t think that this blog is anti-Pellegrini, because I think that the loss can be blamed just as much, or more, on the team. In truth, the team that Pellegrini started with should have been more than capable of beating Wigan at home, regardless of whether or not Kompany and/or Zabaleta were playing, so there can be no excuses in saying “we put out a bad team”.
The turning point of the season, for me, was when Chelsea beat us 1-0 at the Etihad last month, because ever since then the Blues have seemed to have lost their confidence, and the previously named “fortress” has now become a bit more of a “tent”.
Since the Chelsea game, we have drawn away to Norwich, lost to a beatable Barcelona team 2-0 (in a game where we gave them too much respect, and allowed them to have too much of the ball) and had a very poor first half against Sunderland in the Capital One Cup Final, where we went into the break losing – which has happened all too often in the second half of this season.
So if City really want to win the Premier League, and progress further in the Champions League, then they need to start believing in their own ability again. As it has obviously knocked the confidence of players such as Negredo and Dzeko, who have had a drought of goals in recent games.
However, if City have enough belief in their system, and think back to earlier in the season when they focused on their own performance instead of the opposition’s by having the “if you score 5, we’ll score 6” mentality, then I truly believe that they are more than capable of causing a major upset at the Nou Camp this week.
As they say, #DareToDream!
– Daniel Cheeseman