Did Manchester City Manager Manuel Pellegrini Get It Wrong Against Stoke?
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Manuel Pellegrini is a man with a lot on his plate. That was the case before Manchester City's disappointing goalless draw at Stoke, and there is much to ponder following an insipid display in the Potteries.
The Chilean made six changes to the side from the one that started against Hull, including five in the front five, as he looked to dip into his resources at the start of a run of five games over the next two weeks.
Did he get it right? No, but the players need to take responsibility as well for a performance that recall many of the hallmarks of the latter days of Roberto Mancini's reign.
Jack Rodwell, James Milner Samir Nasri, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic have yet to start a game before today and needed game time, while the omission of Fernandinho and Jesus Navas, to name two, pointed to players being rested ahead of the Champions League opener.
David Silva, Micah Richards and Gael Clichy were all carrying knocks, and the depth of the Blues' squad should be sufficient for some tinkering.
But today's disjointed and listless performance, as per Will Tidey's Bleacher Report review, came from a side that looked like it did not have a lot of confidence in itself.
It also showed a side lacking someone willing to take the game by the scruff of the neck when Plan A (whatever that was) failed to come off. That's why the players must take some of the blame, but as is the way in the modern game, it will all be about the manager when this performance is picked over in most quarters.
Joleon Lescott must be in line to return against Viktoria Plzen, unless Vincent Kompany is on the verge of an early comeback. Either way, Pellegrini's decision to put Javi Garcia's name on the team sheet at centre-back will not exactly have struck fear into Kenwyne Jones et al.
At the same time, Samir Nasri did not pull up any trees, and City fans will be hoping David Silva is fit enough to play in the Czech Republic. Negredo was starved of service in the absence of Navas until the 73rd minute, while Jovetic had a quiet outing.
Credit to Stoke for the way they set about their task, and the Blues did at least come away with a point that may end up being a vital one.
But it's not exactly the brave new world that seemed to be on the horizon given the new broom and the signings made in the summer by Manchester City. Pellegrini must shoulder the responsibility, as he will, but the players also need to take a long, hard look at themselves.
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