Off-target Tevez has City living on their nerves
Manchester City 1 Blackpool 0: Johnson ensures third straight win but misses make it far from comfortable
Sunday 02 January 2011
Considering Jérôme Boateng's weekly salary would probably be enough to pay the wages of the entire Blackpool squad, this was one of the bigger mis-matches in Premier League history. But the reality was that City were forced to cling on in the final 10 minutes after failing to kill off their visitors and the Eastlands crowd will have to get used to having their nerves shredded in the final months of the season.
Adam Johnson scored the only goal but Carlos Tevez failed with a poor penalty shortly after and missed several more chances. Typical of the contrasting standing was Matt Phillips, a summer signing from Wycombe, dominating the former Lazio defender Aleksander Kolarov in the second half. Yet City collecteda third straight win, an impressive and significant response to losing to Everton before Christmas, ahead of their trip to Arsenal on Wednesday evening, although David Silva and Kolarov are doubtful after picking up knee problems.
"What we didn't do was take advantage of some good opportunities to get that second goal," said the City coach David Platt. "In recentgames we've managed to do that. It gives you that cushion and enables players to play with a bit more freedom. If you haven't got that second it gets a bit nail-biting and we were probably the happier side to hear the final whistle. The disappointing thing for anyone up front is when they haven't had opportunities on goal. Carlos probably had eight or nine efforts on goal and if he continues to do that the goals will come."
With their fine away record, Blackpool saw no need to change their positive approach and produced an early opportunity when Joe Hart was forced to swat away a curling effort from Gary Taylor-Fletcher.
Johnson is not alone in having his problems with City's manager Roberto Mancini, and yesterday was the first time he had started successive Premier League matches this season, but he made the difference for his side who were without Mario Balotelli due to a minor knee injury. Taylor-Fletcher failed to get enough distance as he headed away Silva's corner and Johnson's drive deflectedoff Stephen Crainey and past Richard Kingson. Two minutes later, Yaya Touré was on a typical burst in the area when he was hauled over by Luke Varney but Tevez wasted the chance to add a second from the penalty spot.
It was typical of his afternoon and with Blackpool seeming to break forward after each missed opportunity it could have cost City. There were further misses when he was sent clear by Touré only to fall over after he had dribbled past Kingson and he also glanced a header wide from James Milner's cross.
With the crowd becoming increasingly anxious, Hart turned a shot over the bar from Neal Eardley and from the corner that followed the goalkeeper had to tip away Brett Ormerod's header. "If improvement was a piece of string it would go from here to Blackpool and back again for every one of my players," Blackpool manager Ian Holloway said. "Putting Matt Phillips on gave us hope and belief because he's not scared of anything or anyone. He pulled one playerinside out and he was taken off and then he did it to the new bloke and I was wondering if they had any more left-backs to put on.
"We've proved a few people wrong and hopefully we'll continue to do that. We were going to be the worst team ever. Six points after Christmas it said in one paper. I don't read papersanymore, I just look at the pictures. I don't think we'll get 96 points but I just want as many as we can possibly get, to play like we did."
After scoring his goal, Johnson revealed a t-shirt with "RIP Dale" as a tribute to his friend, the Rushden goalkeeper Dale Roberts, who killed himself last month.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Man of the match: Y Touré
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