So maybe Alan Hansen was right all along: you really don't win anything with kids.
Not only did our midfield five on Saturday have an average age of 21 years and 2 months (Etuhu and Johnson are 19, Gelson is 20, Ireland 21 and Petrov 27) but they had only started 61 Premiership games between them. Add to that a lone striker with career-average of one goal in every five league games and getting anything from this game would have been a bonus.
With City's playing resources clearly stretched to the limit, the absence of Bianchi from the starting line-up becomes even more frustrating (video of his goals from last season here). My guess is that Sven initially planned on playing a 4-4-2 formation and bought him to play alongside Bojinov, but doesn't rate him as a lone striker and the player understandably reacted badly.
On a more positive note, it looks like Elano is close to a return (on Saturday the MEN reported he was "touch and go" for this game), Hamann has now served his suspension while Kelvin Etuhu showed he might prove a more-than-useful replacement for Ireland, who has started his three-game ban.
And now there's just eight days before Carling Cup tie against Spurs. We'll be at home and with luck we'll have our playmaker back.
Our first Cup semi-final since 1981 now looks tantalisingly close.
~ Was Stephen Ireland's sending off foretold in the stars? I stumbled a football astrology site the other day which offered this prophesy for him: "May not be able to handle difficult and crucial situations. Chances of foul play and wrong decisions are there".
~ The average age of the starting XI on Saturday was 22yrs 7mths. The other ages are: Isaksson (26), Corluka (21), Dunne (28), Richards (21), Garrido (22) and Vassell (27).
~ Sven's post-match interview
~ Chimbonda 1-0, Bianchi 1-1, Defoe 2-1, Ireland's sending off.
~ Getty Images photos
~ Latest Premiership table.
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 (the graphic is at the bottom of the page there), while you can also find match details at the BBC, Sky and Setanta.
Spurs 2 City 1
Jermain Defoe came back to haunt his old England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson by coming off the bench to deny Manchester City a place in the top four.
Eriksson famously chose to take Theo Walcott rather than Defoe to Germany - and Tottenham gained some sort of revenge at White Hart Lane.
Spurs owe thanks to Ireland's latest blip (Conrad Leach)
A game that had simply meandered along, presenting both sides with the prospect of an unsatisfactory point, suddenly crackled and sparked into belated life. With eight minutes remaining, Stephen Ireland carved a tackle into the Spurs left-back Young-pyo Lee and the referee Mark Halsey did not hesitate in showing a red card for a challenge that showed Ireland with one foot raised off the ground and the studs going into the South Korean's leg
Jermain Defoe makes belated point to Sven-Goran Eriksson with late winner (Nick Szczepanik)
A disputed goal, a sending-off for Stephen Ireland and Jermain Defoe coming off the substitutes’ bench to score a late winner added up to a match that managed to be eventful without threatening to become exciting.
Ramos papers over Tottenham cracks but Ireland's troubles go on (Kevin McCarra)
The shortage of attacking options is not news to him (Sven) and he has been waiting to address it in next month's transfer window. He appreciates, too, that the complaint will be aggravated while Elano gets over his hamstring injury. "It was one of the better away games ," said Eriksson. "We tried to win, which has not always been so in the past."
Stephen Ireland gifts Tottenham Hotspur win (John Ley)
Another moment of capriciousness from the unpredictable Stephen Ireland effectively handed Tottenham three fortuitous points on a wild afternoon at White Hart Lane yesterday. The troubled Irishman launched a late, two-footed challenge on Tottenham's Young Pyo Lee and within a minute Manchester City were heading for defeat.
The Spurs view:
TheProudCockerel.co.uk; A Spurs Odyssey.
Ratings come from (in order): Green in blue, xavi6, Niall Quinns Discopants, Fidel Castro, bluemoon, Grob, preacher, SirElano, roadkill2487, (Mancityfans), MEN, The Times, Man City Mad, Sky and Sky Your Rating and the BBC.
This week's 'Drunken Sailor with Tourette's Award' goes to Fidel Castro for his impressive haul of three 'wanks', two 'fucks', two 'cunts', two 'twats', a 'crap' and a 'bollocks'. His comment that Garrido was 'raped' by Lennon did make me laugh though.
Isaksson: 9, 9, 9, 8, 7, 7, 6, 8, 8, 7, 5, 7, 7, 5.4, 5.9 (av: 7.2)
Couple of great saves. Much improvement. (Green in blue)
Very good, kept us in the game in the end and made string of brilliant saves. His infamous kicking was spot on today too. (Niall Quinns Discopants)
Made some good saves and had no chance for their goals. Dunne, Micah and Garrido tried to fuck him over with stupid back passes all game but he dealt with the cunts quite well. (Fidel Castro)
Made a couple of quality saves, nothing he could do for either goal. (bluemoon)
A couple of great saves from Bent and Defoe in particular. No chance with the goals. Kicking better too. (Grob)
Cannot be blamed for anything. (preacher)
Few great saves and looked good. (SirElano)
Looks to have settled in after a couple of games. A string of quality saves, caught crosses perfectly and his kicking looked so much better! Handled those back passes with confidence. (roadkill2487)
Kicking was markedly better than it was a Wigan and there were a couple of crucial saves too. (MEN)
Corluka: 7, 7, 6, 7, 7, 7, 5, 7, 7, 7, 6, 6, 7, 4.6, 6.1 (av: 6.4)
Tried hard and was made to work. (Green in blue)
Decent performance and no nonsense tackling. (Niall Quinns Discopants)
Usual great defending, his passing/attacking play wasn't quite as good though. (Fidel Castro)
Solid as ever. (bluemoon)
Didn't get forward as he usually does but his all round game was at his usual high standards again. (Grob)
Nothing special, he needs to go more forward. (preacher)
Solid Game. (SirElano)
A usual Corluka game, quality oozes out of him. (roadkill2487)
Even he was rushed and bothered by the skill of Berbatov otherwise usual calmness personified. (MEN)
Dunne: 7, 7, 5, 6, 7, 8, 5.5, 7, 6, 7, 7, 7, 7, 4.9, 6.6 (av: 6.5)
Made a few bad passes rash tackles and nearly gave a goal away at the end. (Green in blue)
Had loads of trouble with Berbatov and made some silly errors.(Niall Quinns Discopants)
Was going to give him a 7 or maybe even an 8 until he started playing a bit wank in the last 10 minutes or so. (Fidel Castro)
Good performance, maybe should have organsied the defence better for their 2nd goal, but that's probably being overly harsh. (bluemoon)
Big performance from the skipper and didn't deserve to be on the losing side. Held together a defence which would have crumbled without him. (Grob)
He must cut out long balls going nowhere. Made a mistake that almost cost us a third goal in last minutes. (preacher)
Solid Game. (SirElano)
A good game, rash tackle, and one bad back pass. But kept the back 4 together. (roadkill2487)
It is never easy against the guile of Bulgarian sensation Berbatov but the skipper did well. (MEN)
Richards: 7, 7, 5, 6, 7, 5, 6, 7, 7, 6, 6, 7, 7, 5.2, 6.5 (av: 6.3)
Plays with his heart on his sleeve can't ask much more. (Green in blue)
His positioning was far from spot on and what was he doing for their second? (Niall Quinns Discopants)
Passing was better than his partners but was responsible for keeping Bent onside on a couple of occasions. (Fidel Castro)
Quieter than usual, didn't put a foot wrong really. (bluemoon)
Not good. Positionally inept. His athleticism and pace papers over an awful lot of cracks. (Grob)
Nothing special, but did nothing wrong. (preacher)
Solid game. Great last ditch tackle on Lennon I think. (SirElano)
Looked comfortable, did his job. (roadkill2487)
One sensational block at the start of the second half and generally on top of things. (MEN)
Garrido: 5, 5, 6, 5, 5, 5, 4, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 3.9, 5.3 (av: 5.3)
Poor today, was tortured by Lennon. (Green in blue)
Some positive runs and dealt well enough with Lennon. (Niall Quinns Discopants)
Absolutely wank first half, was raped by Lennon, Kaboul-esque passing, but when Lennon was subbed he suddenly looked quite good. (Fidel Castro)
Piss poor performance and the weak link in defence. (bluemoon)
Below par in every area. Ball must be close to a start now. (Grob)
One of the worst, everybody gets past him, poor defending, too soft. (preacher)
I would like to see Ball get a run now. (SirElano)
Flung his body well to keep the pressure out. Picking up those yellows, Ball will get his chance soon. (roadkill2487)
Might have expected a tougher time against the pace of Lennon but mostly held his own. (MEN)
Etuhu (Bianchi 58): 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 7, 6, 8, 8, 6, 6, 6, 6, 4.8, 5.9 (av: 6.9)
Looks most likely to create something then taken off. More to come I think. (Green in blue)
Very positive display. Good with the ball and proved my expectations right that he will be next regular to come from the Academy. (Niall Quinns Discopants)
What a performance! Why he was taken off while that neckless cunt stayed on I will never know! (Fidel Castro)
Very impressive performance, finally have a player who brings the much needed balance on the wings. Should have stayed on the pitch. (bluemoon)
Inexperience showed through at times but his ability was there for all to see. Needs to be brought on slowly. (Grob)
I was surprised with him, he looked really comfortable on the ball and made some decent runs on the right. Has pace and tackling, looking forward to see more of him. (preacher)
Great first start! (SirElano)
I thought his dribbling was fantastic and definitely has a big strong presence to him. (roadkill2487)
Had a couple of decent runs at Lee and got crosses in. Can be happy with his debut. (MEN)
Gelson: 7, 7, 7, 8, 7, 7, 5, 7, 7, 7, 6, 7, 7, 4.5, 6.1 (av: 6.6)
Quiet game. (Green in blue)
Active as ever. (Niall Quinns Discopants)
An athletic, not quite as clever (yet) Didi Hamann. Really rate this lad! (Fidel Castro)
Decent performance, maybe allowed too much to go through the centre at times. (bluemoon)
Good all round display. More disciplined than he has been. A real team performance. (Grob)
Unnecessary tackling in our part of field, passing wasn't best. (preacher)
Looking better and better. (SirElano)
Not as "smart" as Hamann, but a very good performance. (roadkill2487)
Made up for the absence of anchor man Hamann by taking on added responsibility. (MEN)
Ireland: 7, 7, 6, 1, 5, 4, 4, 7, 6, 5, 5, 7, 6, 3.4, 5.6 (av: 5.3)
Worked hard and then ruined it with a shocking tackle cost us the game. (Green in blue)
Worked hard and was very good at spreading the ball until his stupid red card. (Niall Quinns Discopants)
TWAT. (Fidel Castro)
Far too many misplaced passes, wasn't at the races at all and then to round it all off, he costs us the game with a moment of pure stupidity. (bluemoon)
Below par and then embarrassed himself with the sending off. Played the Elano role about 5 classes lower than Elano does. (Grob)
Poor game and really stupid act at end. (preacher)
Decent game, terrible tackle. (SirElano)
Awful tackle, played with eagerness on the pitch. (roadkill2487)
Had done well in advanced midfield role until he was sent off just before winning goal. (MEN)
Johnson: 6, 6, 4, 5, 6, 5, 5, 5, 5, 7, 6, 6, 7, 4.7, 6.1 (av: 5.6)
Was quiet today. Out of practice I suppose. (Green in blue)
Very poor. Hardly touched the ball and didn't defend actively enough. Wonder if he is still struggling little bit with his injury. (Niall Quinns Discopants)
Crap passing, didn't contribute anything going forwards. (Fidel Castro)
Very much looked like a player returning from injury. A few too many misplaced passes. Should be better next week. (bluemoon)
I know its his first game back but he had all the presence of a roll of wallpaper in the midfield battle today. In the second half he was second to absolutely everything. (Grob)
Some poor passes, was silent. (preacher)
Back to his pre-injury doing nothing status. (SirElano)
Lost the ball a couple of times, not the same Johnson. (roadkill2487)
Encouraging return to action for the youngster who looked like he’d never been away. (MEN)
Petrov: 7, 7, 7, 6, 7, 7, 6, 7, 6, 6, 6, 6, 7, 7.3, 7.2 (av: 6.6)
The usual mixture of great/awful passes mixed with woeful shooting. (Green in blue)
Usual Petrov, some hits and some misses but proved once again why he is on the pitch with his corner and some of the crosses. (Niall Quinns Discopants)
Great assist, some good crosses in first half but also some absolutely wank passing, free-kicks and shots (??????). (Fidel Castro)
Excellent crossing at times, great corner for the goal and looked much more lively when Bianchi came on. Looks like he is missing Elano though. (bluemoon)
Some of his deliveries today were of the highest quality. Bet he wishes Rolando played every week as he would probably be leading the league is assists. (Grob)
He tried, but it wasn't enough, although a decent corner kick. (preacher)
Best game for a while, great few crosses. (SirElano)
Bad crosses and a couple of good ones! Good game for the winger. (roadkill2487)
Booed by Spurs fans angry that he didn’t join fellow Bulgarian Berbatov at the Lane.
Vassell (Geovanni 84): 6, 4, 3, 3, 4, 5, 5, 6, 6, 6, 7, 5, 6, 3.8, 6.0 (av: 5.0)
Looked a lot better with someone to play with made some good runs. Still lacks confidence and can't play as a lone striker. (Green in blue)
Absolute load of shite. Have no idea why he was on the pitch for so long. Poor striker who used to be at least interested. Now he is just ridiculously poor footballer. We need to get rid of him on January. (Niall Quinns Discopants)
Did he touch the ball? Oh yes he did, he fucked up 2 chances! Didn't even run his bollocks off this time which is usually the 1 thing he does do that gives him any credit. (Fidel Castro)
I feel like crying whenever I see him in the lineup, awful 1st half, played a little better when Bianchi came on but still did very little that to change my mind about him. He's shit end of. (bluemoon)
I can't be to hard on Vassell because he was doing a job he isn't built for. But Isaksson would probably have better strikers instincts than Darius. (Grob)
It seemed like he wasn't on the field. (preacher)
Worked hard but not a lone striker. (SirElano)
Wasted his chances. (roadkill2487)
His pace out wide and down the middle forced home side to defend more deeply than they wanted to. (MEN)
Bianchi (Etuhu 58): 8, 8, 7, 7, 8, 7, 6, 6, 7, 7, 6, 6, 7, 5.3, 7.6 (av: 6.9)
Great goal. showed strikers touch something we lacked. Has proven his worth. Must start next game. (Green in blue)
Came on the pitch and did what he is payed to do. (Niall Quinns Discopants)
His touch oozes class, well taken goal but thanks to the granny-less twat didn't get many opportunities to win it for us. Must start the next game! (Fidel Castro)
Fantastic goal, his first touch is as good as I've seen from any striker we've had. If this doesn't get him in the starting line-up next week, then nothing will! (bluemoon)
Took his goal majestically and must now start. We've had enough fucking about now Sven, Rolando is our best striker so play him accordingly. (Grob)
Fantastic header, took his opportunity! (roadkill2487)
Proved his point in best possible way. (MEN)
Geovanni (Vassell 84).
Subs not used:
Hart, Jihai, Onuoha