Manchester City back in pole position

Tony Tannous Columnist

By Tony Tannous, Tony Tannous is a Roar Expert

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    Not quite job done as far as the title race is concerned, but a job very well done by Manchester City in the big Manchester Derby this morning puts them in pole position with only two games to go.

    Now level on 83 points with United, with a significantly better (eight goal) goal difference, City can wrap up their first title in 44 years by ensuring maximum points at Newcastle and at home against Queens Park Rangers.

    For United, recent slip-ups against Everton and Wigan let City back into the race and, with Carlos Tevez adding late impetus and quality, it’s an invitation City have accepted. 

    This was another disciplined and heady performance from a City side that has been very well marshaled by the tactics of Roberto Mancini.

    Here he always had the upper hand over Sir Alex Ferguson, drawing a late reaction of frustration from the United manager.

    Protecting a three point lead heading into this much hyped derby, it was perhaps not a great surprise to see Ferguson go for defensive approach.

    But it came back to haunt him.

    Perhaps the memory of being opened up, time and time again, in October, at home, also played a role in his conservative tactics.

    Either way, the stall and tactics were set.

    United would congest the midfield, aiming to deny space to Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, Samir Nasri and David Silva.

    They would sit deep, absorb and hope to hit City on the counter.

    For Roberto Mancini’s men, the key would not only be to be patient in the front third, but to ensure they blunted and controlled the United counter.

    In the opening exchanges it looked like Ferguson’s strategy might work, but gradually, with more and more possession, City started to wear United down.

    Nasri in particular always looked dangerous, getting on the outside of United’s narrow formation and combining with the likes of Silva, Tevez and Aguero. There was some lovely work on the ball.

    While there weren’t many opportunities, City were knocking, eventually opening the door from a set piece goal right on half-time.

    Ferguson would have to react, and soon into the second half he introduced Danny Wellbeck for Park Ji-Sung, going to two up front.

    But Mancini had more cards to play, and by introducing Nigel De Jong for Carlos Tevez, and later Micah Richards for Silva, City’s tactics were clear. 

    They were now intent on protecting the lead and countering for a second through the power of Yaya Toure and industry of Aguero.

    It worked a treat, and while they couldn’t build on their lead, Joe Hart was rarely in danger.

    City showed how strong and adaptable their squad is, able to seamlessly shift from the attacking play of the first period to the more pragmatic work of the second.

    Mancini’s tactical flexibility and the ability of the players to execute it has been the hallmark of their season, and it now looks like it might be enough to give them a long awaited EPL title.

    Tony Tannous
    Tony Tannous

    Follow Tony on Twitter @TonyTannousTRBA

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    The Crowd Says (20)

    • May 1st 2012 @ 8:46am
      Qantas supports Australian Football said | May 1st 2012 @ 8:46am | ! Report

      Fascinating end to the EPL season..

    • May 1st 2012 @ 9:06am
      Kasey said | May 1st 2012 @ 9:06am | ! Report

      Watching EPL/UEFA-CL etc is like going to the art gallery for me. I can appreciate the artistry and great skill of the play, but its not my team in my country, I just cant make that emotional connection required to make football an edge of the seat proposition Only the HAL gets my blood pumping the way football should, because it feels like I live or die on the results of my beloved Reds:) #COYR
      Still as an avowed ABU over many years…well done Citeh;) Lets see if they can close it out now away to the Magpies at SJP and v QPR @COMS.

      • Roar Guru

        May 1st 2012 @ 9:10am
        Ben of Phnom Penh said | May 1st 2012 @ 9:10am | ! Report

        I agree however I also like any competition that comes down to the wire. It is part of the reason the end of the J-League season has had me transfixed for years as it has so often come down to the last day with two or three possible winners.

    • Roar Guru

      May 1st 2012 @ 9:09am
      Ben of Phnom Penh said | May 1st 2012 @ 9:09am | ! Report

      It has become interesting again, that’s for sure. Normally at this end of the season only the relegation battle holds any appeal.

    • May 1st 2012 @ 9:32am
      striker said | May 1st 2012 @ 9:32am | ! Report

      Man united were to negative for me and city deserved the points.

      • May 1st 2012 @ 9:53am
        Kasey said | May 1st 2012 @ 9:53am | ! Report

        Its not like SAF to go out and park the big red bus, but he did and if they’d played the whole game like they did after moving to a 442 in 2nd half, it could have been much different. IMO Citeh were deserved winners on the night WD to them and their long suffering fans.

      • May 1st 2012 @ 10:36am
        Matt F said | May 1st 2012 @ 10:36am | ! Report

        Yeah it wasn’t the greatest quality match really. SAF knew that a draw would be enough to almost hand ManU the title so he went defensive. Once City got the lead they went defensive. That being said ManU were woeful in attack, even when they were chasing the game in the second half. City were deserving winners.

        It’s very strange to see ManU falling apart at the end of the season, it’s almost always been the other way around

    • May 1st 2012 @ 9:55am
      clipper said | May 1st 2012 @ 9:55am | ! Report

      Man U still have this uncanny knack of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, as witnessed by their many last minute wins, so my money is still on them.

    • May 1st 2012 @ 10:56am
      Matt F said | May 1st 2012 @ 10:56am | ! Report

      The run home

      Newcastle (A)
      QPR (H)

      Swansea (H)
      Sunderland (A)

      As a Newcastle fan I’d love to hand ManU the title, as much as I hate them generally, though I think it’s unlikely given the run City are on. The 4-0 thumping by Wigan has halted our momentum and we have massive game at Chelsea on Thursday morning as well. It does look like the trickiest game out of the four though. QPR’s away form is woeful while both Swansea & Sunderland seem to be on holidays early, as is the trend for safe mid-table teams.

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