Pienaar brings Mancini back down to earth with a bump
Everton 2 Manchester City 0
Sunday 17 January 2010
David Moyes had launched into an impassioned, but dignified, onslaught against Manchester City in his programme notes, still harbouring a sense of injustice over the way in which his rivals behaved in buying his defender Joleon Lescott for £22 million last summer.
Ninety minutes of football later, Moyes was entitled to wear the look of a satisfied man having left his opposite number Roberto Mancini in no doubt, following his first defeat, about the complexities and size of the task he faces as manager of the world's self-styled richest club.
Goals from Steven Pienaar and Louis Saha were more than sufficient to earn Moyes a sorely-needed three points and he conceded: "I think you enjoy wins when you feel as if you've not been treated right so yes, I will enjoy this a little bit more. But that's all gone now. I'll move on."
His notes said: "There is no doubt that City treated us with little respect and broke rules in the summer. I found it very difficult to accept that a club that had until recently had so many similarities to Everton should suddenly start acting with no class."
All the class on the field was displayed by Everton and most notably their midfielder Marouane Fellaini who sat in front of his back four, covering acres of space and completing an incredible number of tackles.
"I said a few weeks ago, I thought he was doing as well as anybody in the Premier League," grinned Moyes. "And people looked at me as if I'd lost my marbles. Nobody watching today could question that now."
What a contrast to the man who should be the equivalent on City's side, the £32m Brazilian Robinho, often held up as exhibit A in the argument that it was some of City's highly-paid, but lowly-motivated, players who contributed to the downfall of Mancini's predecessor Mark Hughes.
An early injury to Roque Santa Cruz last night forced Mancini to change his game-plan, bringing Robinho on from the bench. On the hour mark, with City two goals down, and devoid of creativity, Mancini subbed the sub, taking off a disconsolate Robinho and bringing on Shaun Wright-Phillips.
"I had four strikers on the pitch so if I wanted to bring on Wright-Phillips I had to take one off, and it was Robinho," said Mancini, unconvincingly. "He is a good player and is important but this is a question for Robinho, like all the players. It's important he's always improving and working hard."
As far as Mancini's own future is concerned – and remember it is generally accepted that anything less than a top four finish could result in him suffering the same fate as Hughes in the summer – this month will be telling in terms of whether he is given money to improve a squad that is patently limited, especially at the back. "It's possible but I don't know now," said Mancini when asked if he will spend.
Everton took a deserved 36th-minute lead after Pablo Zabaleta brought down Saha, somewhat unnecessarily, on the edge of the City area presenting Pienaar with the opportunity to curl a shot in on Shay Given's goal, placing the ball over the wall and millimetres beyond his outstretched hand.
Deep in injury time, the lead was doubled as Everton collected a penalty for a tug by Micah Richards on the shirt of Saha. The City defender could count himself doubly unlucky as the first offence occurred just outside the area and was the sort that all too often goes unpunished. That mattered not to Saha who drilled his kick straight down the middle of Given's goal.
Everton might have claimed more goals with Fellaini's header forcing Given into a superb tip on to the bar and Tim Cahill heading against the upright, but the sight of Fellaini pirouetting away from Craig Bellamy to the "oles" of the home fans was one of the abiding memories of an enjoyable afternoon for Moyes and his club.
Referee: Andre Marriner
Man of the match: Fellaini
Match rating: 7/10
New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday
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