For Manchester City's annual defeat on Wearyside, this year's embarrassment avoided last minute offside winners by little known South Koreans and instead opted for the more prosaic pattern of off-form important players, stumblingly predictable tactics, a winning goal from an ex-City player and bizarre substitutions to keep us all warm with the glow from our blushing cheeks. If you had sworn not to touch another drop of the hard stuff after hitting Christmas at full pace, then you'd have been swigging from the nearest bottle of spirits before the players had cleared their lumpen forms from the Stadium of Light pitch on this occasion.
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By the end of this truly exasperating game, we had the unedifying
sight of the live-wire Carlos Tevez giving way to be substituted and
City playing out the last few minutes with that well known and
world-class strike partnership of Joleon Lescott and Joe Hart. Truly one
had to pinch oneself and check that it wasn't Frank Clark down there in
the dugout with his guitar and his mouth organ.
Mancini indeed stated afterwards that, "next year we don't come". He
might, after this, be closer to the truth than he imagines. The
malfunctioning blob that passed for City's shape in the last 30 minutes
did nobody any justice, least of all those tasked with putting some
shape and production into the play.
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