'Soft' City no match for hunger of Boateng
Hull City 2 Manchester City 1
Monday 08 February 2010
Roberto Mancini might have great riches at his disposal, but it seems all the money in the world is not aiding his cause when it comes to finding a cure for the travel sickness which is threatening to bring a terminal end to Manchester City's Champions League ambitions.
City's soft underbelly away from Eastlands was brutally exposed once again, this time by a Hull City team put together at a cost of less than £10m, which is not much more than the likes of Robinho earn in a season's wages in Manchester, when he is there of course.
Robinho wouldn't have relished this contest, that is for sure, but what is worrying Mancini more is the fact that some of the missing Brazilian's colleagues appear to have been infected by his lethargy when it comes to securing wins on the road.
Hull were magnificent from start to finish, with George Boateng and Tom Cairney blending their experience and youth into a concoction which left City's midfield punch-drunk. The visitors had no answer to the greater hunger, desire and passion of Hull to win and Mancini's side have now won just one of their last 10 league games away from home.
The performances of Boateng and Cairney provided Hull with the platform to build pressure and when both Kolo Touré and Dedryck Boyata were cautioned early on, the writing was on the wall. Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink provided a useful target man up front while Jozy Altidore's pace and power was simply too much for City's defence to handle.
Boateng and Hesselink combined well to allow Altidore to put his side ahead in the 31st minute with a curling strike beyond Shay Given. It was his first goal in the Premier League in 18 attempts but certainly worth the wait, as was Boateng's thumping volley in the 54th minute to double the advantage.
Emmanuel Adebayor pulled one back for City just before the hour mark to set up a frantic finish but the truth was Mancini's side got what they deserved in the end – nothing.
Wayne Bridge returned to the City starting line-up following a knee injury and lasted 85 minutes but it was hardly a performance to take his mind off matters John Terry related. Patrick Vieira made his long-awaited City debut and Adam Johnson, signed from Middlesbrough last month, also played his first match for City, but neither were able to drag their side back into the match.
City will no doubt thrash Bolton at Eastlands tomorrow night, which only highlights the problem. Mancini is not known for losing his temper, but he is running out of patience with his side's attitude in such circumstances and said: "I'm not surprised by this. When you don't play well you lose. We didn't play well in the first half and Hull did.
"They were more aggressive and we moved the ball very slowly. We must change our mentality when we are away from home. We are Manchester City and we want to win, always.
"When you are losing you are always angry. But you must think about changing the situation on the pitch. Sometimes when we play against the teams from lower down the league we are softer. That's OK if you want to arrive in the middle [of the table], but I want to win, I want to finish at the top so we must change this.
"The players are angry and they know they didn't play well. We must change the situation. This is not normal for a team like Manchester City and we know we must play better."
This victory, coming on the back of a creditable draw with Chelsea, lifted Hull to the giddy heights of 14th in the table and they will travel to Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday oozing with confidence.
Brian Horton, the former City manager and current assistant to Phil Brown at Hull, said: "You can see the spirit out there. This has been the best week of our season so far. When you need wins and get them against the top sides it is extra satisfying. One of the arts of management is to put a lot of players together very quickly. It's not always easy but I'm sure Roberto knows what he's doing because he's a top manager. They've got lots of good players but we just didn't let their good players play today."
Hull City (4-4-2): Myhill; McShane, Gardner, Mouyokolo, Dawson; Fagan, Boateng (Olofinjana, 82), Cairney, Hunt; Hesselink (Kilbane, 84), Altidore (Zaki, 66). Substitutes not used: Barmby, Duke (gk), Zayatte, Garcia.
Manchester City (4-3-3): Given; Zabaleta, Touré, Boyata, Bridge (Petrov, 85); De Jong, Ireland (Johnson, 55), Barry; Bellamy (Vieira, 60), Tevez, Adebayor. Substitutes not used: Taylor (gk), Wright-Phillips, Sylvinho, Onuoha.
Referee: P Dowd (Staffs).
Booked: Hull City Fagan, Dawson; Manchester City Touré, Boyata, Zabaleta, Vieira
Man of the match: Boateng.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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