CHELSEA 0, MAN CITY 0.
Roberto Mancini accused his Manchester City players of being “soft” as they found themselves in the eye of a storm in their Barclay’s Premier League match at title rivals Chelsea.
City’s manager was unhappy that his side failed to captialise on the unrest at their opponents as they just happened to be the visitors to Stamford Bridge on the day Chelsea paraded unpopular new manager Rafael Benitez.
The former Liverpool manager was loudly jeered as he took his place in the technical area and the protests continued throughout the match with verbal abuse aimed at him while placards and banners containing similar sentiments were also visible.
It is unprecedented for a new manager to be met with a chorus of disapproval on his appointment, something which was no doubt sparked by disparaging remarks he made about Chelsea while at his previous club.
And it was ironic that Benitez was greeted with such hostility on the day that Chelsea mourned the death of a former manager, the much loved Dave Sexton at the age of 82.
Sadly City were not able to capitalise on the disquiet which was sparked three days earlier by the sacking of Roberto di Matteo six months after delivering the Champions League which had for a decade been their Holy Grail.
City’s manager was unhappy with the latest two points squandered. Though City remain the only unbeaten team in the Premier League, the sequence of draws is becoming costly.
Indeed, leaders United have lost three times, but City’s five draws equates to more than three losses.
After seeing his side waste a number of chances to win the game, Mancini said: “I’m not satisfied with one point.
“To play here is always difficult. We can’t lose two points. We were so poor in the last 20 minutes. When we have a chance we need to score.
“I like everything from my team, but not the last 20 minutes. We had chances to score, but we missed the last pass.,You have to be strong in the box. If you are soft, you won’t score.”
Chelsea, who managed just one shot on target in 90 minutes, were there for the taking which Mancini was only too well aware.
Gareth Barry and James Milner won City recalls at the expense of Maicon and Samir Nasri.
City ought to have established a healthy first-half lead as a succession of chances were squandered.
David Silva headed narrowly over, Pablo Zabaleta’s shot was blocked by the legs of Petr Cech who also made a comfortable save to keep out free headers from both Milner and Sergio Aguero.
They also ought to have been awarded a penalty after the most blatant case of shirt pulling by David Luiz who manhandled Vincent Kompany at a corner.
Chelsea didn’t so much as muster a sniff at goal.
They were more of a threat in the second period as Fernando Torres fired narrowly over while Ashley Cole’s drive was deflected over by the fingertips of Joe Hart, though referee Chris Foy inexplicably awarded a goal kick.
City disappointed in the second half, though they might have snatched victory in the dying stages when Cech made decent saves to deny Carlos Tevez and Matija Nastasic.
In a title race, which looks destined to be desperately close between the Mancunian rivals, City could well later rue this wasted opportunity to regain top spot which they had surrendered the previous day.