All good things come to and end and the magic of Mancini and his phenominal start at City did just that with a resounding thud. If there is any doubt let me be very clear, a 2-0 score line flattered City. When you step back and look at this objectively that was an awfully impressive win for Everton. There wasn't a single weakness in their team and this in a side with Phil Neville!
I've generally thought very highly of David Moyes. Everton is a tough place to be successful with their impressive history and limited resources when compared to the big four. However I was disappointed to read that Moyes had once again attacked City for the Lescott saga. The best I can tell Moyes has pulled his throwing his toys out of the pram routine because City had the nerve to negotiate for Lescott at the executive level rather than have Hughes call Moyes in person. Awww... poor baby. And this on the back of a classic tirade during the week when the Scottish born manger complained that there were too many foreign managers in the English Premier League. Apparently irony is lost on some born in Glasgow.
Given this I was hoping for a City win and indeed Mancini's men started rather brightly. However as the half wore on Everton started to boss the game. You could highlight the entire Everton side, so good was their work, but in particular Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar were immense in the centre of the park and if ever a co man of the match award was due this was the case. Out on the right Donovan did indeed make Garrido look silly a couple of times but Everton were having so much success everywhere that there was no need to focus their attack on the City Left Back.
City started with RSC and Tevez up front and I was looking forward to seeing how the Paraguayan target man would unsettle the Everton defense that was missing the Galatasaray bound Lucas Neill. Alas the big striker left within 5 minutes with yet another injury flair up and whatever plan of attack Mancini had plotted was lost with no like for like striker on the bench in the absence of Adebayor. You can argue that really Adebayor isn't like for like either, but that's a discussion for another day.
On came Robinho and the headline writers were already getting their trigger fingers ready. Unfortunately Robinho stayed true to type and put in a poor display that resulted in his substitution later in the game. Props, serious props, to Mancini for pulling him off when I suspect most managers would have been a little reluctant to pull off the British transfer record purchase.
Robinho is on his day a singular talent. That is the rub of course, on his day. At the moment what he needs more than anything else is games to restore his confidence. City should not sell Robinho. Instead I'd like to see a loan to a Spanish club until the end of the season allowing the Brazillian to play regularly and get prepared for the World Cup. Then lets see what an off season with Mancini, and whomever the Italian brings in, will do to set up next year. City made the mistake with Elano and Bianchi of selling players that should have been sent out on loan and I'm hopeful we don't make a third mistake.
Everton were up by two at the half, the first a Pienaar free kick and the second a Saha penalty after Richards was called for tugging on Saha's shirt in the box. It's a soft penalty, but it is the correct decision. I'd like to see referees crack down on that in general as it goes on far too much. One point of debate is that the initial offense ocurred outside the box and then continue into the box. You can argue it two way. The first is that the original offense should have been called and therefore a free kick outside the box should have been called. The second is that the referee can play advantage for the first offense and then calls the penalty for the second in the box. Either way you will not get any protest from me on this one. Richards was committing a foul in the box and paid the price.
My one disappointment in the game was Mancini. I've been wonderfully impressed with him so far when it comes to the in game tactical management. Today City seemed bereft of ideas and kept the same basic formation throughout. Again I think this was in part due to the unfortunate injury to RSC which limited the options, but the club's new manager had spoiled me in the first few games. "I'm not a magician" Mancini said after the game and for the first time he wasn't.
Ironically what this game probably needed tactically was what Mancini couldn't produce because he doesn't yet have the squad to do it. I've seen other sites talk about Mancini and wingers and all kinds of tactics but my research so far says Mancini prefers 3 midfield enforcers combined with an attacking midfield play maker in a diamond formation. With Fellaini and Pienaar bossing de Jong and Barry, City needed that extra central midfield force to tip the balance in the visitors direction. We'll get to see if this is the case before the end of the year. The first game of the season, Everton's visit to City, has still yet to be rescheduled after it was canceled because Everton were playing in Europe. I will look on with tremendous interest to see how Mancini responds tactically for the next meeting between these clubs.