Monday, December 17, 2007

Reaction, stats & ratings: City 4 Bolton 2

Well, it looks like Sven earned his money in this one.

According to the Sunday Telegraph he gave a "speech of Agincourt proportions" at half-time. "I told the players they looked like losers," Sven said after the match.

That's not a bad motivational technique when you have a chairman like ours. According to the BBC Thaksin is known for living by the motto: "Better to die than to live like a loser" (rather chillingly, it's a motto he learned at Thailand's police cadet school).

Last December we lost this fixture 2-0 with a team that contained only Dunne and Vassell from Saturday's line-up. But probably the biggest reminder of the progress we've made since last season was the way the half-time tactical changes turned the game.

I've been reading Joe Lovejoy's biography of Sven and been struck by the respect former players have for Sven's ability to influence a game. Jonas Thern, who played for him at Benfica, made these observations:

"Sometimes we'd start a game and wouldn't be playing well and the opposition would be in command. He'd spot it from the bench and change things very quickly. I had a lot of big-name trainers after Svennis, some of them good only at giving instruction during the week. Sven is spot on at both. Overall, he's the best I've played for."


Glenn Hysen, who was at Gothenburg and Fiorentina with Sven, gave a similar assessment:

"He's good at seeing what's going wrong during a match. Many coaches use their substitutes when it's too late to make a difference, but if he sees something that's not working, he's very quick to change it."


What's also noted in the book is Sven's ability to find the right formation for the players at his disposal. With a new striker looking a certainty for January, Bojinov appearing close to a return, Vassell finding form and Bianchi keen to stay, you suspect that more tactical changes are going to be needed.

But whatever formation Sven opts for, my guess is that we're going to be in for real a treat in the second half of the season. Although the Castillo deal is starting to look shaky, it's pretty clear we're now going after players who have pace and skill in abundance.

Add those to a team that'll be starting to gel and who knows what might be possible?


~ According to the MEN, Elano is still being troubled by a hamstring complaint but 'the word around Eastlands' is that he will be fit for Tuesday’s game.

~ Yesterday's News of the World claimed to have details of Thaksin's plans to raise £200 million in sponsorship for the club. The story isn't online but you can find a summary of it at Wookie's Lair

~ For the record, the last time we scored four in the league was in the 4-1 home win against Birmingham on Dec 17 2005.

~ I thought Hamann was very unlucky not to be credited with the second goal (video below). The last time he scored in the league was 28 Dec 2003, playing for Liverpool in the 2-2 draw at Eastlands

~ Bianchi 1-0; Diouf 1-1; Nolan 1-2; Hamann 2-2; Vassell 3-2; Etuhu 4-2
~ Sven's post-match interview
~ Photos from retfract.com; Getty Images
~ Latest Premiership table

Match stats

The stats (below) are compiled from a live commentary. For more detailed stats, including a breakdown of each player’s passes and tackles click here (and trawl the bottom of the page), while you can also find match details at the BBC, Sky and Setanta.




Player ratings

Ratings come from (in order): MEN, xavi6, kiddymax, Redna, preacher, irblinx, blue man dan 84, Grob, (Mancityfans), Father Dougal MaGuire, Richard, marcus, goat boy, PIKE, cleavers (Bluemoon), blue_job, bluffing, Florida Blue, arty_fufkin, Calv_from_the_Frog, (Blue Vibe), Man City Mad, Sky, Sky Your Rating and the BBC.

Isaksson: 6, 7, 6.5, 7, 7, 6, 6, 8, 8, 6, 7, 7, 6, 6, 7, 6, 7, 6, 7, 6.5, 7, 7, 5, 6, 7, 6, 6.3, 5.7 (av: 6.5)

Corluka: 6, 5, 6.5, 6, 6.5, 6, 6.5, 6, 7, 6, 6, 7, 5, 5, 5, 5, 6, 5, 6, 6.5, 6, 6, 6, 5, 6.5, 5, 5.8, 6.1 (av: 5.9)

Richards: 7, 6, 6.5, 6, 6.5, 7, 6, 6, 7, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 8, 6, 7, 5, 7, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6.5, 7, 6.5, 6.1 (av: 6.3)

Dunne: 6, 7, 6.5, 7, 7, 7, 5.5, 7, 7, 6, 7, 6, 6, 6, 6, 8, 6, 7, 6, 7, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 7, 7.1, 6.3 (av: 6.5)

Ball: 6, 6, 6, 6, 7, 7, 6, 8, 7, 5, 6, 8, 6, 6, 6, 6, 7, 6, 6, 6.5, 6, 7, 7, 5, 5, 6, 5.8, 6.1 (av: 6.3)

Gelson (Etuhu 45): 5, 5, 5, 4, 6, 5, 5.5, 6, 6, 5, 6, 5, 5, 5, 5, 6, 5, 5, 5.5, 6, 5, 4, 4, 4, 6.5, 5, 5.3, 5.2 (av: 5.2)

Hamann 6, 8, 6.5, 8, 8, 7, 7, 7, 8, 7, 6, 7, 6, 7, 6, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6, 7, 6, 7, 7, 6.6, 6.9 (av: 6.9)

Johnson 6, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 8, 7, 7, 8, 7, 8, 7, 6, 6.5, 7, 7, 6, 6, 8, 7, 8, 6.8, 6.7 (av: 7.0)

Petrov (Garrido 83): 6, 7, 7, 6, 7, 7, 7, 8, 6, 6, 6, 7, 7, 6, 6, 6, 7, 5, 5.5, 7, 6, 7, 7, 5, 7.5, 7, 7.0, 7.0 (av: 6.5)

Bianchi (Mpenza 87): 7, 9, 8, 8, 8, 9, 8.5, 8, 7, 8, 7, 8, 8, 7, 7, 8, 7, 7.5, 6.5, 7.5, 6, 6, 8, 5, 7.5, 7, 7.3, 7.9 (av: 7.5)

Vassell: 7, 7, 7.5, 7, 6.5, 5, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 7, 7, 6, 7, 7, 8, 8, 7.5, 7.5, 8, 6, 6, 7, 8.5, 7, 6.9, 7.4 (av: 7.5)


Subs:

Etuhu(Gelson 45): 6, 7, 7, - , 7.7, 7, 6.5, 8, 7, 7, - , 8, 7, 6, 7, 7, - , - , 7, 7.5, 7, 7, 7, 6, 7, 7, 6.7, 7.3 (av: 7.0)

Garrido (Petrov 83): 7, 7, 7, - , 7, 7, 7, 8, - , 8, - , 8, 6, 7, 7, 7, - , - , - , 7, - , - , 6, 5, 7.5, 6, 6.6, 6.3 (av: 6.9)

Mpenza (Bianchi 87).


Subs not used:
Hart, Geovanni


Match reports



City 4 Bolton 2
Without Elano, City lack an ever-present danger and Bolton were worth their interval lead despite the fact it was the home side who initially found themselves in front.


Etuhu makes name for himself as City maintain perfect record (Dave Hadfield)
Eriksson believed it was a change of tactics and attitude rather than luck that saw his side salvage their ninth straight home victory. "We didn't play well in the second part of the first half, but we talked at half-time and they came out like a different team. I told them they looked like a losing team and if they looked like that they wouldn't win the game."
Eriksson made his contribution by switching Darius Vassell, who had tormented Ricardo Gardner in the first half, to play alongside Bianchi as a second striker. In the end, it was getting more players into the area that produced the vital chances – a case perhaps of a team manufacturing their own luck.

Eriksson's impressive home is threatened by flimsy foundations (Ian Herbert)
City's extraordinary home record is seriously flattering them. Eriksson says a winning sequence like this is nothing new to him – "I suppose I have [matched it before] at Benfica or Gothenburg maybe but it was a lot easier there" – but a simpler defence to crack than Bolton's would be hard to find in the Premier League and it was that, rather than much City invention, which maintained the best home record in the division.


Sven-Goran Eriksson rings in the old and strikes gold (Richard Hobson)
To find one striker may be regarded as fortune, but to rediscover a pair hints at something deeper. Whispers of varying substance report that new forwards are to join Manchester City, but the biggest victory under the management of Sven-Göran Eriksson, confirming a ninth home win in a row, suggests that they may still finish in the top six if personnel remain unchanged.
While goals have to be the bread and butter, Darius Vassell and Rolando Bianchi did far more than put their names on the scoresheet on Saturday. They were like the blades of a pair of scissors, constantly cutting through the Bolton Wanderers defence with a deft touch here or a sharp run there.


Eriksson's mix of mild and bold is 100% proof (Jeremy Alexander)
Players wore short sleeves and gloves. Nothing ever adds up with Manchester City - except their home points at present. On a bitter day they extended their 100% record to a ninth game. Last season they went eight at the end without a goal.


Michael Johnson cuts a dash for Man City (Mark Ogden)
The secret of Johnson's immense potential has long been out within the game. Liverpool have done little to hide their admiration for the youngster and one can only imagine Sir Alex Ferguson's frustration at seeing City's blossoming youth policy claim another local talent from under United's nose.


Man City revived by Sven-Goran Eriksson (James Mossop)
Picture the scene in the City dressing-room at half-time. The team are 2-1 down and miserable, when suddenly that most tranquil of downbeat Swedes, Sven-Goran Eriksson, launches into a speech of Agincourt proportions.
He re-lived the moment afterwards, saying: "I told them, 'Looking at your faces you look like a losing team. If you look like that we will not win the game'. They were sitting with their heads down looking like losers. They changed and went out to become more positive, more aggressive and willing to run behind their defenders."


Sven revels in ideal home exhibitions (Paul Wilson)
For well over 80 minutes Bolton looked anything but a team threatened by relegation. They just could not match City's consistency and determination to keep going, and who would have predicted that? 'I told the players they looked like losers at half time, but we showed very good morale in the second half,' Eriksson said.


Sven-Goran Eriksson’s changes lift City (Jonathan Northcroft)
City fans struck up their songs anticipating easy progress towards a ninth straight Premier League home win, but Bianchi’s goal was a false omen. City are not the same side without Elano. Michael Johnson operated behind Bianchi in the Elano position and did so with the cleverness which marks this most promising player, but it meant Johnson’s customary influence in deeper areas was missed and Gelson Fernandes, substituted at half-time, could not compensate.

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