What are we to make of this performance and result, bearing in mind how lacklustre Sunderland were and how easily they surrendered their previously unbeaten league record? I suppose you can only beat what is put in front of you and if you use mantra then we beat them pretty soundly.
Mancini made a substantial number of changes from Wednesday night, 7 in all and I was saying to my fellow City chum before the match that it was a real chance for the likes of Kolarov, Milner, Mario and Micah to stake a claim for a regular place bearing in mind how disappointing some of our recent performances have been of late. Only one failed to seize the chance, was subbed within an hour and then had the further embarrassment of seeing his replacement score within a couple of minutes.
I don’t know what it is with Balotelli and Dzeko. They both look like game changers when they come off the bench and have the useful knack of scoring too but then, when a chance presents itself of a starting run in the first team, neither does much to make you think we can’t afford to leave them out next week. Mario has so much going for himself. At the home games that I went to last season with my son, he played in every one and indeed started in three of them. When you see him in the flesh he’s big and powerful and quick and makes a lot of good runs off the ball…when he can be bothered. He has more talent than Edin but does not work as hard as him, most of the time. You look at Mario and think, there is a guy blessed with all the attributes and talents you could wish for in a top class player but he can’t seem to use them all constructively for any sustained period of time. He seems to be perfectly happy to get the ball, move forward, beat a guy and then look for the foul from the next player who comes near him.
Anyway, the forums after the match were awash with good vibes. Many seeing the team and performance as vindication of a return to last seasons formation and personnel. There are a lot of Gareth Barry and Milner fans out there and even the much maligned Kolarov received much praise.