Ian Herbert: Mancini's toilers plough path to promised land

There is nothing in the two managers' pasts that says Manchester City should be the earthier of the sides. Roberto Mancini was born near the Adriatic coast and loves the sea; Carlo Ancelotti in the rural area of Reggiolo and lives for the country. Mancini sails his 35-metre, £4 million yacht on Sardinian holidays; Ancelotti still loves to drive a tractor. But it was the willingness of Manchester City's so-called mercenaries to put in a hard day's work out on the field which made them the victors in the billionaires' playground.

Carlos Tevez's workrate telegraphs itself so clearly. To clarify, the ball was actually still inside his own half of the field when he began running at Ashley Cole, gathering pace before clipping his 25th goal in 29 games past Petr Cech, who seemed to think the ball which clipped the inside of his right-hand post was sailing the other side of the upright. But just in sight on the replays of the move was James Milner, timing the tackle on Ramires which freed the ball he released short to Yaya Touré and Touré then to Tevez.

Here was the story of City's day: the harrying and the pressing which Mancini's players will perform in their sleep after the hours of shadow play which he puts them through all week at Carrington – chasing after the imaginary players they will face on Saturday.

Milner's tackle was the most significant, springing one of the counterattacks which is such an important part of the plot on days like this and creating the single moment of genius which will divide teams. But Vincent Kompany, poking away a ball from Didier Drogba's toe as he was played in 10 minutes after Tevez had scored, wasn't far behind in order of significant interventions. So many players contributed in this way that no one could quite decide who was supreme. Kompany's name flashed up in the stadium as man of the match. Nigel de Jong walked out of the stadium with the bubbly. And the role of Gareth Barry, as so often for a player who gives such labour in such an unlaboured way, was rather overlooked when he, if anything, was the first among equals. Organising, advancing, retreating, Barry's distance run is extraordinary.

Though these players were captains all, the one whose outlook in the past few months has been most at variance with the mercenary tag is the one who has been unceremoniously stripped of that title. Kolo Touré is one of those many remnants ofthe Mark Hughes era who had cause to fear for his future when the season came around and Jérôme Boateng arrived through the door, though his game has actually picked up in the past six weeks.

It was Touré who twice cleared up after Dedryck Boyata, the young defender in whom Mancini has immense confidence but whose hack at Drogba might have conceded a penalty, looked overwhelmed. An immaculate interception when John Obi Mikel seemed to have bisected City's central defence with a ball through to Florent Malouda, minutes after half-time, was another of those unlaboured, game-saving moments.

Ancelotti would have known what he would be encountering in his old friend Mancini's side because yesterday's resilience was no surprise. City have still conceded only two goals in the Premier League this season, one of which was a Sunderland penalty, the other a mix-up between Joe Hart and Kolo Touré. The surprise was that Chelsea could not match muscle with muscle as they generally do when confronted with that kind of presence.

"We wanted to play better but didn't play how we wanted. We lost a lot of tackles and were not able to play football in the opponents' half," lamented Ancelotti. But Chelsea's play was individualistic, where City were a collective. "The pressure was always on the Chelsea attack from the first minute on. It was the total package of the whole team defending from the front to the back," was De Jong's very accurate summation of what had gone on outside.

Mancini and Ancelotti now have eight wins each against each other in club football, though Mancini reiterated his belief that Ancelotti will be ahead when the big prize is handed out come May.

"They're still the best in the Premier League," he said.But this display had suggested that while these managers comefrom different worlds, the clubs may be heading towards the same place.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Voices
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it