A thoroughly professional performance from Man City this afternoon earned three points for the Blues in Roberto Mancini’s first game in charge of the club. Without ever producing the free-flowing football which they are more than capable of, City, led by the irrepressible Gareth Barry, comfortably secured a 2-0 victory, thanks to goals by the recalled Martin Petrov and a tenth strike of the season from Carlos Tévez, although the Blues were indebted to goalkeeper Shay Given as they recorded their first clean sheet in the Premier League since early November.
Time constraints prohibit me from detailing the extent of my thoughts, but suffice to say that Mancini’s reign has started in an uplifting manner, with City’s defence withstanding Stoke aerial bombardment with relative ease. Given was a tower in strength in net, saving on repeated occasions from the likes of Tuncay and James Beattie, whilst Vincent Kompany put in a superb performance at the heart of the defence alongside the improved Kolo Touré. Mancini opted to play an attacking foursome of Robinho, Stevie Ireland, Tévez and Petrov, and their movement confused a physical Stoke backline.
Barry, along with Nigel de Jong, was fantastic, balancing his defensive duties perfectly with supporting our attack. Without a target man upfront, courtesy of injuries to both Emmanuel Adebayor, who now departs to the African Cup of Nations, and Roque Santa Cruz, Tévez led the line on his own as a striker, and contributed an acrobatic goal to his non-stop performance. The only disappointment for me was the display of Robinho, whose lethargic approach and underwhelming performance frustrated the City faithful. Thank heavens for Craig Bellamy, who, rested for this game, will be fit enough to start against Wolves.
New manager Roberto Mancini accepts the applause of the City fans before the match
So, that’s all I have time for, but if you would, please read this superb report of today’s game by accomplished Stoke blogger, Alec Vještica, whose indubitable blogging ability has earned him many worldwide plaudits.
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