Mancini left mystified by City's capitulation
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Manchester City 1: Tevez-less visitors have no answers after Edwards hits winner for Wolves
Sunday 31 October 2010
First, Roberto Mancini's coat came off in obvious agitation, then, as his side went under with barely a whimper, it was the scarf. Many more performances like this and his head will follow. On the basis that we learn a lot more about a team when they lose than when they win, an enthralled Molineux can consider itself highly educated in the subject of what is left of Manchester City's challenge for the Premier League title.
If this was all Mancini's side could manage by way of a response to being dismantled by Arsenal last Sunday, the threat they offer to Chelsea, Manchester United and the rest for the foreseeable future is thin indeed. So deserving were Wolves of their first League victorysince the opening afternoon of the season that they had all the game's best performers and take all the plaudits. One place off the bottom they remain, but they, in particular the surprise England candidate Matt Jarvis, ran the legs off City's defenders.
Fifteen places, 13 points and Lord knows how many tens of millions separated the sides at kick-off and, initially, the gulf was apparent. Then the game was turned on its head and Mancini is nonplussed. "We played very well for 20 minutes and had four or five chances, then we finished playing and Wolves deserved to win," he said. "I don't know why at this moment and I need to watch the game again. I'm very disappointed. I must understand very quickly what the solution is."
Mancini, having pulled his trademark neckwear from the drawer for the first time this autumn, has plentyto ponder. City barely had an effort on target after the 57th minute winner had been steered past Joe Hart by David Edwards, his biggest pal from when the two grew up togetherdown the M54 at Shrewsbury Town.
Hart, reportedly one of a group of players who gave Mancini another headache with what can most tactfully be called a social outing to St Andrews, rose from his haunches to embrace Edwards before the players left the field. Such niceties were unlikely to have been repeated in the visitors' dressing room.
It is extraordinary to think that a club in which so much Middle East wealth has been invested can be tarred with "one-man team" accusations. With Carlos Tevez recovering from injury in Argentina, though, there was no talisman to seize the moment. Not since January have City won a League game in which Tevez has not scored and their shooting in the death throes of this game was woeful.
It looked so different early on, the £24m Mario Balotelli squandering a hat-trick of opportunities and the breakthrough coming via a careless lunge by Richard Stearman on David Silva. Emmanuel Adebayor coolly converted the penalty and Wolves seemed ripe for the taking.
The notion they would be brushed aside evaporated almost in the blink of an eye. Virtually from the moment Edwards' header was helped round the post by Hart, the game turned, the same player nodding firmly against the near post from Jarvis's left-wing corner.
The equaliser, on the half-hour, said so much about City's defensive frailties. Karl Henry, Stephen Ward and Jarvis worked the ball neatly enough down Wolves' left but Jarvis' first-time cross was hit blind on the turn and, via a deflection, found Nenad Milijas in yards of space just inside the area for a left-foot shot that was placed neatly into the bottom corner. Jarvis had run Manchester United's full-backs ragged in midweek and flashed another message to Fabio Capello here.
The winner came 12 minutes after the break following a hopeful right-wing cross by Kevin Foley. Kevin Doyle's shot was blocked near the line by Kolo Touré, leaving Edwards to steer in his first goal since last autumn. "I've been saying we're playing well and the team spirit is good but it doesn't half sound hollow when you're losing," said the Wolves manager, Mick McCarthy. "But that performance and result has spoken very eloquently for what we're about. I think that result was coming."
Referee: Mike Dean
Man of the match: Jarvis
Match rating: 8/10
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