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Five Thoughts: Manchester City 1-1 AS Roma

City is Team Inscrutable

Alex Livesey

Part the First: City's CL Woes

At what point does frustration boil over to impatience? We've been at this CL thing for going on four seasons and one constant still remains: we can't play consistently good football. Four years ago it was understandable; our maiden voyage resulted in our collective asses getting handed to us, a performance that thankfully was overshadowed by l'affaire Tevez. The next season was more of the same only without the wacko distractions. Last season we forgot how many goals we needed to win our group, got stuck with a Barcelona side that appeared to be ripe for the taking and instead turned in a milquetoast performance at home that made the road trip to Camp Nou superfluous. This season saw a Bayern game that was the equivalent of dodging kicks to the groin until the very last second when a boot catches you square in the jewels, followed by today's horror show. And about that...

Part the Second: A Failure of Leadership

I know we're deeper than Roma. I know we're more talented. I also know that talent and depth don't count for much if the effort isn't there and it wasn't today. Yaya Toure who appears to be playing a ‘one-step forward, two-steps back' season. Just when we were ready to forget the disastrous performance against Bayern, he turns in a match the best of which could be said, "Well, at least it wasn't as bad as the one he played against Bayern." This hurts because I've been his biggest defender but I have two tough questions to ask:

a.     If Yaya doesn't feel like tackling, can he let us know in advance?

b.     Is it in Yaya's contract that he has to play every minute?

I ask because I don't get taking Navas off for Milner. Like the Bayern match, the wrong midfielder was removed. Any other player might've been taken off the pitch for playing like Yaya (who clearly just didn't have it) but #42 stays on. That was a tactical mistake, one of a few by Manuel Pellegrini.

Part the Third: Manuel's Wrong Men

Gael Glichy is supposed to be a terrific man-to-man defender but for the second match in a row, he was beaten more than a few times. His struggles against Hull and his major minutes just four days previous begs the question-why not Kolarov? If Glichy is there for speed, what is Demichelis doing on the pitch? And not for nothing but if depth is to be utilized, a fresher Bacary Sagna might've been a better choice over Pablo. The last point is debatable but not the first two-Pellegrini made the wrong call on the lineup and he was too late to change formations: if it's obvious you're getting beat in the midfield, you bring on another midfielder sooner than the 55th minute. City had the edge after Lampard's substitution for Dzeko and one can only wonder if Pellegrini shouldn't have done it earlier.

Pellegrini is our manager. I truly believe he's the best man for the job. But he made mistakes today that cost us.

Part the Fourth: So What Happens Now?

Now we're way behind Bayern, three points behind Roma and only one point ahead of CSKA. My own opinion is that it will take two wins against CSKA and a win at Roma to get us clear. That's three wins out our remaining four matches-a tough task that will not get easier if we don't utilize the depth we've worked so hard to attain.

Half of me believes City improves dramatically and soon; with Jovetic and Fernando healthy, we'll have superb and well-rested talent at every position. That optimistic half of me believes whatever tactical kinks there are will get ironed out by the time the next CL matches roll around. Taken a step further, the optimistic side of me believes City's very best football is ahead of them and we'll look to today's Roma match as a turning point in our season. But the other half of me, the side that says "typical City" like a mantra, looks at our CL history and our mind-bogglingly inconsistent play this season and wonders, not for the first time, how the deepest team in the Premiership and one of the very deepest squads in Europe, a team that has played together for years now, can possibly turn in such a crap performance.

Part the Fifth: Poll!

You know what to do.