A disappointing, yet unsurprising result from last nights game, means City finally concede the Champions league place battle to spurs. They perhaps wanted and it more and needed it more than we did. They are a side more settled than ours and that showed. They deserve their position in the Champions league next season. As for City, well it's been a very good season on the pitch for us, despite all that has happened off it, Europa League next season does provide some motivation for players to join the club. We have made big steps this season.
Despite the long term progress, what really angered me after the match was the lack of quality City showed. In the words of Garry Cook 'they bottled it'. The team blows hot and cold several times through out the match, and that's simply not good enough. We had a great deal of possession in the 1st half, especially in the final third, yet it should of been Spurs who went in 2-0 up. That's really not good enough. The defensive issue, which haunted Hughes from Day one, simply has to be addressed in the summer, or we will always suffer. Ball retention is also a real issue. It was farcical at times how easy we gave it away.
I have mentioned over the past few weeks, the difference in City when they play with a high tempo and when we don't. We lacked the edge that saw us put 3 past Villa, and ended up mirroring our Derby performance, Spurs did play with a high tempo for most of the game. It wasn't until the forced substitution of Vieira that we actually tried getting balls into the box through the middle, instead of consistently spreading the ball wide and ultimately ending our attack with a poor final ball. Our full backs are not good enough to overlap. I see little point in them both bounding forward if they simply lose it when they get there. The less I say about Wayne Bridge the better!
The lack of chances on goal cost us, with the attacking threat on the pitch, that's quite a poor outcome. Spurs in attack looked more purposeful. Crouch was the main focal point of their play, it worked. His aerial ability was simply too much for Toure and Kompany. At set pieces we looked particularly weak, I have yet to see the disallowed goal, but in open play it looked all to easy for them to get their head on the ball.
Credit has to go to Martin Fulop for a top display making a couple of cracking saves. He did himself the world of good.
The West Ham match has become a bit of non-game now. Plans will now be afoot for the next season. What is clear is we need to sort out our defence. The several lapses in concentration this season has been our real downfall. We can now build on our already established squad and finish higher next season, under Mancini of course. The season has been a real success, we just missed on a Champions league spot, from finishing 10th the previous year. That's a Job well done!
The race for 4th has become the biggest battle of the season. Neither the title or relegation spots have come down to one crunch match as tomorrows. Let's not forget if City win, it's not over, but if they lose it certainly is.
Last Saturday couldn't of gone better for the purest, City dismissing Villa bid for 4th with a 3-1 victory and Spurs maintaining their form against Bolton with a 1-0 win. Danny at Bitter and Blue has the best review of the current situation. But essentially were a point behind, but ahead in goals. We can't afford anything else but a win tomorrow, if we want to to keep it in our hands.
City performed well against Villa, defended well for most of the game, shielding our box and breaking quickly with tempo and purpose, something we lacked in previous non scoring games. We are almost certain to start with with Bellamy, Johnson, Tevez and Adebayor. Although i would be tempted to replace Johnson with SWP, after his brief cameo on Saturday he reminded me what he can do when on form. Johnson did play well last match, creator of two goals but struggles to last 90 mins physically.
The formation of the midfield will be dependant on Barry, if fit, will he feature? Vieira looked imperious against Villa, dictating play with his excellent passing, Mancini will use him again. De jong is as an ever present necessity and will no doubt start to limit the effectiveness of Palacios and Huddlestone. I can't see us going for 3 in the middle, I don't think we can afford to sacrifice our attacking threat.
A main focus of the pre match build up will be on the goalkeepers. Fulop didn't have the best start, he looked nervous, but grew in confidence handling the high ball well and good distribution. He wasn't helped at all by a very poor performance from Bridge and Toure. Spurs may be without Gomes, who suffered a groin strain, so may be forced to use Ben Alnwick and Jimmy Walker, two available 'reserve' keepers.
Finishing 4th would be the icing on a very good season. The final home game of the season, should be a great spectacle, both sets of fans will be in full voice. Regardless of Alan Hanson's views, City do deserve to be challenging for 4th as do Spurs. I just hope It's City who finish Primus inter pares.
(i didn't write a review after the villa game, due to illness.)