Man City 3 (Tevez 50, Wright-Phillips 69, Weiss 89) Arsenal 0(Carling Cup quarter final)
And then there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth.
The internet has gone stir crazy today, with calls for Wenger’s head, claims that we’ll never win another trophy with him as a manager, that last night finally put his youth project to bed.
Come again? A top six Premiership side fields a team costing approximately £200m against a set of kids and the odd out of favour reserve. And we lampoon the losing manager? If City had lost, then such a outcry would be understandable – it would have been an embarrassing defeat. But when you saw our lineup, anything other than the result we suffered last night would have been a fantastic achievement.
The same media that sing Wenger’s praises when we put six past Sheff Utd or reach the final at the expense of Spurs turn around and criticise his methods when the youngsters suffer an inevitable defeat (after knocking Liverpool out, too). The same press that laud Wilshere despite only being aware of him through this very competition.
It is ridiculous reporting. The truth of the matter is that we looked shaky at the back, but dangerous going forward, against a side assembled for the cost of a small island. In the second half, the class told in the final third, with Tevez and Wright-Phillips scoring terrific goals, capped off by a third from Weiss.
Ironically, despite the slating of the youth policy, it was the experienced players at fault for all three goals. Rosicky gave the ball away for the first, Song and Silvestre failing to stop Tevez finding space, and Silvestre again failed to challenge Wright-Phillips for the second. Song also won’t want to see how easily he was beaten for the third.
The young players actually did okay. I thought Fabianski was decisive in goal, Vela looked much improved up front, although he still goes to ground too easily for my liking. Ramsey and Wilshere had some lovely moments but were eventually overrun by City’s experienced midfield, while Traore did his best to handle Wright-Phillips without much help.
To be honest, I think the Chelsea game is having a serious knock on effect with the fans. Without it, last night would have been looked at as a bit of fun for the kids, and the defeat dismissed as unimportant. But with knives out, it seems many are using such an expected scoreline as further ammunition.
And don’t get me started on the handshake. Yes, Wenger could have taken the moral high ground, but Hughes spent the entire match abusing and aggravating him, trying to get under his skin. Even the Sky cameras picked it up.
Hughes could barely disguise giggles when having a go at Wenger after the game. But he won’t have the last laugh – I’d be amazed if he was still City manager next season.
To put things in perspective – the Carling Cup is wonderful entertainment for us, a chance to see some of the stars of the future pit their abilities against senior players. Sometimes they triumph in glorious fashion, and sometimes they are exposed. Last night they were exposed. And Wenger knows it – this is what he had to say after the game:
“I believe we came here with that team with a belief that we could win. They [City] won, they were better tonight and congratulations to them.”
Don’t expect those quotes to be found on many newspaper sites today. After all, they might make Wenger look gracious…