He is the manager Manchester City would never want; not even if they and he found themselves in mutual need of a partner. Jose Mourinho is too much of an egoist for them. If he won silverware, they would think it would be about him, not them. If they struggled, it would be about them, not him. His barbed attack on Manuel Pellegrini on Sunday night – deploying his usual trick of getting the name of the City manager wrong by calling him “Mr Pellegrino” – reinforced the club’s suspicions about the unwelcome noise they think he creates.
It looked as if Mourinho was going to demonstrate the enduring attraction of his loud personality today until Frank Lampard stepped up to claim the headlines.
The pleasure that Pellegrini was able to take from City’s comeback to draw was greater than that derived from seeing an adversary he abhors being reminded of his folly in letting Chelsea’s greatest player go.
Pellegrini entered this game facing the prospect of an eight-point gulf opening between his own side and Mourinho’s and left it having delivered the stamp of his own pragmatism. The Chilean was the man who suggested last season that City, rather than Chelsea, deserved to win the Premier League title because “the most attractive football, the more goals you can score, should be rewarded”.
Yet his tactics for this game revealed there is more to his philosophy than that. City showed a blue-collar way of holding Chelsea in check. It was Fernandinho, James Milner, Vincent Kompany and the debutante Eliaquim Mangala to whom they owed their point.
Manchester City 1 Chelsea 1 player ratings
Manchester City 1 Chelsea 1 player ratings
1/24 Manchester City: Joe Hart 5
Didn’t have much to do, and couldn’t have prevented Andre Schurrle’s goal.
2/24 Pablo Zabaleta 5
Got forward again and again to support the City attacks, but put his side in trouble when he was sent off in the 65th minute for a second booking.
3/24 Vincent Kompany 6
Dealt well with the threat of Diego Costa in what was a typically accomplished performance.
4/24 Eliaquim Mangala 5
A solid debut from the Frenchman, who looked strong when called upon.
5/24 Aleksandar Kolarov 5
Didn’t offer a great deal going forward but solid defensively.
6/24 Yaya Toure 5
Still a long way from his best, and unable to dictate the pace of the match.
7/24 James Milner 7
Impressive stuff from the England midfielder, who played in three different positions throughout the match, and never stopped working. Provided excellent volleyed assist for Lampard’s goal.
8/24 David Silva 5
A few nice touches, but drifted in and out of the game. Picked up first-half booking.
9/24 Fernandinho 5
Booked in the early stages, which forced the midfielder to curb his naturally combative instincts. Less effective as a result.
10/24 Sergio Aguero 6
Almost scored in the second half with effort from inside the box, but mostly starved of chances.
11/24 Edin Dzeko 5
Worked hard, but didn’t pose much of a threat. Sacrificed for Bacary Sagna after the Zabaleta sending off.
12/24 Frank Lampard 9
Took his goal brilliantly with a trademark volleyed finish, and nearly scored with a couple of other decent efforts. A truly unforgettable 12-minute cameo against his former club.
13/24 Thibaut Courtois 6
Made decent save to deny Aguero in the second half, and looked calm and composed throughout.
14/24 Gary Cahill 6
Kept Dzeko quiet, and stood up well whenever Aguero tried to take him on.
15/24 Branislav Ivanovic 7
Galloped forward to support the attack that led to Schurrle’s goal, and didn’t put a foot wrong defensively.
16/24 Cesar Azpilicueta 6
Dealt well with Silva, and never looked like getting caught out down his side.
17/24 John Terry 6
Marshalled the defence effectively, and largely untroubled.
18/24 Cesc Fabregas 5
A quiet afternoon from the former Arsenal man, who did very little apart from a lovely through ball to Diego Costa late on.
19/24 Willian 5
Worked hard defensively but offered very little going forward. Taken off after an hour.
20/24 Eden Hazard 6
Created Schurrle’s goal with a sumptuous cross, but was peripheral for the most part.
21/24 Ramires 5
Did brilliantly to clear in his own box when Dzeko was about to pounce. Booked in the first half and substituted with an hour gone.
22/24 Nemanja Matic 7
Outmuscled Yaya Toure, which takes some doing, and afforded good protection to his back four. Booked in the first half.
23/24 Diego Costa 6
Gave as good as he got physically against Kompany and Mangala, and unlucky not to score when left-footed effort cannoned off the post.
24/24 Andre Schurrle 6
Scored just eight minutes after coming on, but lost Milner for Lampard’s goal.
It was always destined to be a task requiring more muscle from Chelsea than the last time they played here in the league. Fernandinho was injured in the warm-up when the sides met in February and that proved decisive to the visitors winning the midfield battle, as they overran City at times in a 1-0 victory.
This time the Brazilian played, treading a fine line between triumph and disaster in the first half. He had already been booked when he dragged back Willian as the Chelsea man drove through City’s midfield. He stayed on the pitch, though, and added the same ballast he had at Munich last week in a performance against Bayern which Gary Neville summed up as one of a man being asked to do the job of two men.
It was Yaya Touré who had created that workload for him in Germany, though in this game the Ivorian showed more of the tenacious side to his game we are accustomed to seeing. It was Milner, though, who shored up the flank which Chelsea’s Eden Hazard would have expected to dominate. Hazard was silenced; dragged back down City’s right flank to quell the Englishman’s threat.
Milner was the game’s outstanding player, ending the match as a utility left-back from where he managed to supply the equaliser – his attempts to rescue a lost ball turning into a volleyed cross for Lampard to score.
And if the stage had been set for Chelsea’s Diego Costa, then it was Vincent Kompany who commanded that particular battle. One moment from the first half, back in City’s half, tells that story. Kompany and Costa grappled with each other for fully 20 seconds – first Kompany, then Costa seeming to have wrested the ball away from the other; upper body strength more than feet appearing to be essential to the contest. Costa emerged with the ball, but Kompany went right back in and wrenched it back.
Mangala, who City paid £40m for, had been absent from Pellegrini’s plans until Sunday. Yet his combination play at the heart of City’s defence with Kompany was steady and the Frenchman also looked strong moving forward in possession.
They were not the only ones who dominated a defensive exhibition. The stand-out performers of the first half were Gary Cahill and John Terry, though Chelsea lacked ambition. They did not want to seize on the excellent start to the season Costa has created for them.
The Brazilian was certainly the more threatening of the two sides’ attacking spearheads. Sergio Aguero, being managed through the early part of the season with a maximum 90 minutes’ football a week, was not a threat, while Costa’s aggression made things happen for him.
The infringement that led to Pablo Zabaleta’s dismissal would have gone almost unnoticed, had Costa not responded to it in that explosive fashion of his. The striker was at the hub of the goal which followed soon after and he also hit the post.
But it felt like Pellegrini’s day. Narrow margins dictate the course of the game but he could reflect on Lampard’s role in the draw and Chelsea’s lack of ambition. “Mr Pellegrino, instead of speaking about my players should speak about Lampard,” Mourinho snapped. But Pellegrini’s players had spoken for him.Reuse content