Roberto Mancini has admitted that he underestimated City’s opponents in last night’s shock 1-0 defeat at Goodison Park against Everton.
“It is my fault because I didn’t prepare for this game very well. Maybe I thought before the game it would be easier – but here it is never easier.” said a subdued Mancini.
“The players put everything on the pitch but I made some mistakes during the last three days preparing for this game,” he added.
“We knew December and January would be difficult months. It’s important that we win our next game.”
The Italian had brought a strong team to Merseyside bolstered by the return of captain Vincent Kompany from suspension but still missing the Toure brothers, who were on African Cup of Nations duty, and the suspended Mario Balotelli.
The likes of Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri and David Silva featured in attack and, with extra rest days due to a lack of action over the FA Cup weekend, should have taken full advantage against an injury hit Everton side forced to deploy a full back and a defensive midfielder at the heart of their defence.
In any event, Tony Hibbert and Johnny Heitinga managed to keep out the City’s attack which once again looked like a collection of individuals rather than the combined force of nature which had raked so many goals in during the last few months in the Barclays Premier League.
It was an irony not missed by Sir Alex Ferguson that a former United player netted the game’s only goal after City singularly failed to take control of the game at Goodison Park. The presence of City captain Vincent Kompany didn’t have the desired calming effect after some nervous performances by his understudy Stefan Savic at the back.
With so many players having an off night it wasn’t entirely surprising for long time City fans to see former United midfielder Darron Gibson popping up with his first Everton goal to see off City on the hour mark after he latched onto Landon Donovan’s free kick. He could have had a second later in the game but fired wide as City struggled to gain momentum.
Denis Straqualursi’s header had been cleared off the line by Joleon Lescott in the first half and the golden touch seemed to desert even David Silva as City laboured against Everton’s battlers.
Samir Nasri hit the woodwork twice for the visitors but they hardly deserved to get anything from the game which was interrupted at the end of the first half by a protester who handcuffed himself to Joe Hart’s goal causing a lengthy stoppage while ground staff found some bolt cutters to free him.
In truth City also seemed to need the bolt cutters, with the mid season jitters tying them up at precisely the wrong time as United drew level with them on points at the top of the league table.