Sunderland Loss Another Freak Result for Manchester City at the Stadium of Light

Phil KeidelContributor IINovember 11, 2013

The Stadium of Light has been a house of horrors for Manchester City.
The Stadium of Light has been a house of horrors for Manchester City.Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Maybe former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini had the right idea all along.

After City dropped a third straight 1-0 match to Sunderland at the Stadium of Light in December of 2012, Mancini somewhat infamously half-joked, "I'm not going to come here next season."

Mancini could (sort of) be forgiven for his frustrated expression of mock surrender. City finished second in the Premier League last season while Sunderland avoided the drop by three points. The year before that, City won the league while Sunderland mucked about to a 13th-place league finish.

At the time he made that remark, Mancini probably did not know just how right he was. He was sacked the following May, a job termination that his side's foibles at Sunderland surely had some small part in.

Mancini is exceedingly unlikely to have to visit the Stadium of Light this season, as Galatasaray obviously do not have Sunderland anywhere on their schedule.

City have a new manager, but the same unnameable force that smote Mancini's Sky Blues on their last three visits to Sunderland is still firmly in place. Manuel Pellegrini's first trip to the Stadium of Light resulted in—wait for it—a freak, inexplicable 1-0 loss to the Black Cats.

Inexplicable because this version of Sunderland are easily the worst of the four that City have lost to.

Inexplicable because City have played six hours of football (plus stoppage time) at Sunderland over four years without scoring a single goal.

Inexplicable because, this time around, City were felled by a goal by Phil Bardsley, who not too long ago was deemed expendable by former Sunderland gaffer Paolo Di Canio.

If you bet on Bardsley to score the only goal of the match, your ticket will cash nicely.
If you bet on Bardsley to score the only goal of the match, your ticket will cash nicely.Michael Regan/Getty Images

Bardsley was certainly, er, flush with success after scoring his side's only goal in another bizarre no-show from Manchester City away to Sunderland.

That Bardsley scored was doubly galling in that he is a Manchester United academy graduate and City supposed it would be his opposite number, Aleksandar Kolarov, who would be the left-back to provide offensive menace on the day.

For that matter, City could fairly wonder how Sunderland still had 11 men on the pitch for Bardsley's big moment given the violent recklessness of Sebastian Larsson's tackle on Javi Garcia in the 19th minute.

Had Larsson (properly) been sent off, Bardsley probably would not have been so far up the pitch two minutes later.

Not surprisingly, from that point on City had most of the possession and all of the legitimate scoring chances. The Black Cats only put two shots on net all day.

Comparatively, City had 24 shots. Only four were on target, but things like Sergio Aguero missing an unmarked header from a handful of yards out are, well, hard to explain. As is City taking 14 corner kicks and never scoring.

In the final analysis, then, what Manchester City will most rue about their most recent trip to the Stadium of Light is spitting up a fine opportunity to push Sunderland further into the relegation pit.

After all, the relegation of Sunderland would excuse City from a fifth straight embarrassing defeat at the Stadium of Light next season.