Man City's Millionaires Exposed by Bothersome Burnley

illya mclellan@illya mclellan @illbehaviorNZSenior Analyst INovember 8, 2009

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 7:  Kevin McDonald of Burnley scores his goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Burnley at City of Manchester Stadium on November 7, 2009 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

The club with the biggest budget in world football should not find themselves trailing two nil on their home ground to a side that had not gained any points on the road this season so far.

This was however, exactly the position the Mark Hughes managed Manchester City found themselves in as the second half drew to a close. Luckily for the millionaires of Eastlands one of their number finally put them on the scoreboard with a deflected effort that ended up squeezing in just inside the post.

Somewhat amusingly it was former City academy product and Chelsea cut price sale item, Shaun Wright-Phillips and not one of his expensively acquired team-mates, who did the damage. Wright-Phillips a stand out for the home side as he later set up Bellamy to put them one up in the second half.

With a final score showing three goals apiece, this was not a game for anyone wishing to study defensive tactics in the English top flight.

Mark Hughes could not be blamed for the malaise that seemed to hang over his side as they cantered about the pitch waiting for something to happen.

When Joleon Lescott decided to put his arms out to block a cross it was as if he was joking when he asked "What for?" after referee Atwell pointed to the spot. Arrogance is a lethal weapon in football on occasion, though in this case it proved the Achilles heel of the former Everton stalwart.

Veteran Graham Alexander stroked home with ease that defied the skill of City anchorman Given who had only last week saved a penalty at Birmingham.

This was footballing 101, "When defending in the area, an outfield player should keep his arms away from the ball or risk conceding a penalty."

Lescott's signing is beginning to look like an expensive error as his play is far from world class and certainly not of the high standard that Hughes demands of his defensive units.

This is a manager who built a Blackburn side that was renowned for its ability to grind out results through stoic defending and solid organisation.

This organisation was shown to be lacking from his new side though as after Gareth Barry gave away the ball with a horrible piece of control, it was given to Chris Eagles who calmly centred for Stephen Fletcher to stroke the ball home, as he was kept onside by none other than Joleon Lescott who will be wanting to forget this game as soon as possible it would seem.

Lescott later managed to make up for his mistakes in setting up fellow central defender Kolo Toure with the equalizer when he got on the end of a Gareth Barry free kick. Unfortunately for him, in the dying minutes he failed to track the run of Burnley's McDonald who calmly slotted the equalizer that consigned City to yet another draw that should have been a victory.

It would be too much to place all the blame on the shoulders of Lescott, as it was the entire Manchester City side that took the foot off the gas after Bellamy put them ahead.

The little Welsh dynamo got on the end of a lovely piece of play that finished with Wright-Phillips squaring a beautiful ball to the Welshman who slotted with power and precision to finally put the money men ahead.

Prior to and in the aftermath of the Welshman's goal it looked as though City would finally put a side to the sword in the manner they had threatened to several times already this season.

They certainly looked impressive for awhile in this match, but being impressive for awhile is not the way that trophies are won and this team certainly needs to start bearing this in mind as they take the field.

The lack of a killer instinct was shown to be painfully obvious as they eased off as the final whistle grew closer and seemed quite content to hold the slender lead they had fashioned earlier.

This proved the undoing of the Manchester side as once again defensive frailty in the final third cost them points that could so easily have been in the bag had one of their number taken the initiative and stepped up the play to kill Burnley off.

Battling Burnley have to be admired for the way they did not give up even though for much of the second half they seemed to be chasing lazy shadows.

The nonchalance of his players will be something Hughes needs to address before they visit Anfield next weekend, for if Liverpool sense any hint of a lackadaisical approach they will surely bury the sky blues and enjoy doing so.

Burnley's Owen Coyle will take the point happily and has much more to smile about in the aftermath of this result than will his counter-part Hughes.


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