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Roberto Mancini flew back to Italy last night after refusing to talk about the devastating defeat that has surely ended Manchester City’s hopes of retaining the title.
It was the second time in recent weeks that Mancini has headed to his homeland rather than addressing a disappointing City performance. He did the same after their 3-1 beating at Southampton on February 9.
With international games this week City’s training ground will be a ghost town but Mancini’s departure ensured there would be no post mortem within 24 hours of this massive set-back.
Leon Osman and Nikica Jelavic were on target as 10-man Everton humbled the champions 2-0 to leave City needing a miracle as they look to overhaul Manchester United.
Mancini refused to speak about a woeful performance by his team – although first-team coach David Platt admitted that the Italian was angry with his players and referee Lee Probert.
Mancini didn’t even return to Manchester on the team coach, instead taking a chauffeur-driven car to the airport for a break in Italy during the international break.
“Roberto is angry and he’s just taking stock,” said Platt. “He doesn’t want to say anything that might get him in trouble.
“He’s angry at everything in general. In terms of performance we weren’t really at it.
“All through the game we got outworked by Everton.
“There’s a frustration and anger with Roberto about the way the game has gone. An anger about the whole afternoon.”
City fell behind to Leon Osman’s spectacular first-half fluke, but were revived when Steven Pienaar was sent off for a second yellow card.
The champions thought they had grabbed a late lifeline when referee Probert spotted that Carlos Tevez’s shot had struck the arm of Marouane Fellaini inside the penalty area.
But Pobert gave a free kick and City’s sense of injustice increased when Jelavic killed the game in injury-time.
Platt said: “I’ve seen the penalty appeal again and the handball wasn’t even close to the line. It was three yards inside the box.
“We didn’t get it, and perhaps our performance didn’t deserve it, but that’s by the by.
“If that decision had gone for us then maybe we would have got something from the game.”
Everton boss David Moyes was delighted with how his team responded to last week’s FA Cup humiliation by Wigan.
Moyes said: “The players were great. We were playing the champions of England and I thought we gave them a right good run for their money.
“You saw today exactly what Everton have done for the past 11 years.”
Roberto Mancini went into hiding – after a performance by Manchester City that was nothing short of a surrender.
Mancini was left speechless as goals from Leon Osman and Nikica Jelavic sentenced the champions to a defeat that means the title is surely returning to Old Trafford.
Goodison Park has become a graveyard for the Italian – he has now lost all four visits to the Toffees – and, while he simmered in the dressing room, he sent first-team coach David Platt out to explain a pitiful display. “Roberto is angry and he’s just taking stock,” said Platt. “He doesn’t want to say anything that might get him in trouble.
“He’s angry at everything in general. In terms of performance, we weren’t really at it.
“All through the game, we got outworked by Everton.”
On Friday, Mancini wore a red nose for Comic Relief.
Yesterday, he was red-faced with rage as he tore into his players and referee Lee Probert in equal measure. Only when David Moyes’ men were reduced to 10 men for the final half-hour did City come up with any kind of response against an Everton team which had plenty to prove, following their FA Cup exit against Wigan.
Steven Pienaar’s dismissal was one of the few decisions that Probert and his assistants got right.
The Wiltshire whistleblower managed to anger both teams.
Everton had a first-half goal by Kevin Mirallas ruled out by an incorrect offside decision.
And Mancini must have known the game was up when Carlos Tevez’s 86th-minute shot struck the outstretched arm of Marouane Fellaini a yard inside the penalty area, only for Probert to award a free-kick.
The difference between the two teams was that Everton strived for retribution while City faded.
Edin Dzeko’s attitude was symptomatic of City’s.
When the Bosnian was softened up by a couple of meaty challenges from John Heitinga and Sylvain Distin, he took it as his cue to spend the rest of the game brooding.
Mirallas thought he had made the most of Everton’s early dominance when he bludgeoned Osman’s knock-down high past Joe Hart.
However, his celebration ruined by an offside flag that had been raised, despite the Belgian being level with Aleksandar Kolarov.
City were just coming out of their malaise when Osman rocked them back with a spectacular goal, letting fly with his unfavoured left foot from 30 yards. The swerve on the ball gave Hart no hope.
It was thoroughly deserved and Everton’s control did not falter until Pienaar saw red.
The South African – booked in the first half for a late challenge on Gareth Barry – raised his studs recklessly as he careered into Javier Garcia.
He received his second yellow and was sent packing.
From then on, the home side were forced to dig deep to keep City at bay as Mancini threw on Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy and Scott Sinclair.
Stand-in keeper Jan Mucha excelled to deny Tevez, Milner and Pablo Zabaleta.
And when Fellaini led an injury-time counter-attack, Hart was beaten again as Jelavic’s curling effort took a deflection off Clichy and left the City keeper stranded.
From written word to shouted instruction, David Moyes demonstrated at Goodison Park why he remains such an inspiring manager. He re-set the mood totally after last week’s surrender to Wigan Athletic.
Moyes’s anger with that defeat dripped from every line of his programme notes. “The players were told in no uncertain terms after the game against Wigan that it was unacceptable,’’ Moyes told the fans. “In many cases we lacked the attitude and determination that has to be shown every time they pull on a royal blue jersey.” It showed how much his players respect, possibly even fear, their demanding manager that they responded instantly, energy replacing lethargy, giving a powerful performance with 11 men and then with 10 when Steven Pienaar was sent off after an hour.
The tone of increased intensity in seeking possession, albeit excessively at times, was set by Marouane Fellaini for an early clattering of James Milner. It had been Fellaini’s alarming diffidence, almost disinterest, against Wigan that Moyes was probably thinking of when questioning some of his players’ “attitude” in print.
Fellaini played well here, not in the class of Victor Anichebe, Leon Osman or particularly Seamus Coleman, but the Belgian clearly had his fire reignited by Moyes. Everton’s manager had made his players aware that they had let the fans down, that they owed the crowd a performance.
Coleman kept pushing down the right, setting up Osman’s gem of a goal.
Victor Anichebe bustled with intent, troubling Matija Nastasic. Even Moyes’s wooly cardigan could not soften the image of a team ambushing the opposition. He lived every incident, sharing the game with his players. His vicarious immersion in their exertion was total.
The Scot was constantly prowling his technical area, occasionally tugging a piece of paper out of his pocket and making notes. He gave instructions to Darron Gibson, who absorbed his advice and responded with a thumbs-up. Gibson is another reminder of Moyes’s skill in the transfer market. With add-ons, the midfielder may eventually cost Everton £2million, a bargain for a player who can undo opposing defences with a pass.
Tactically, Moyes has tested many opposing managers. His use of Fellaini in the hole twice foxed Manchester United in 2012. Against City here, midway through the first half, Moyes switched his wide players, Pienaar and Mirallas, to set another problem for City’s full-backs, Pablo Zabeleta and Aleksandar Kolarov. City are so reliant on their full-backs for width that they became even more narrow.
Following the command of their manager, Everton’s pressing game was endless. Pienaar nicked the ball off Carlos Tevez. A sliding Osman intercepted a pass from Kolarov. Gwladys Street shook with appreciation at the improved work-rate.
Rarely has Everton experienced a week of soul-searching like this in the Moyes era. Phone-ins bubbled with indignation about the performance against Wigan. Some callers even questioned Moyes. Others argued that he needed more funds to strengthen the squad. Yet after this win, Moyes described this “as the best Everton team I’ve had”, noting the quality of the football. The likes of Osman, Gibson, Leighton Baines, Pienaar, Fellaini, Mirallas and Anichebe will always be worth watching. Phil Jagielka, injured here, has matured into an England centre-half under Moyes’ guidance.
Moyes’s body language, and written language, indicated a slight feeling of under-appreciation. He clearly resents all the doubts thrown his way, saying “you should be careful” in a general warning to all who criticize him and the club. The uncertainty is partly rooted in his decision not to sign the new contract yet. Maybe Moyes wants to survey the changing managerial scenery in the summer. Maybe he wants to winkle some more money out of the board for transfers. The one certainty in all this fluid situation is that Everton would be the poorer without Moyes.
He even felt forced to defend his record, noting that in “the last 10 seasons we’ve finished outside the top 10 only twice”. He added: “In the 10 seasons previously, Everton was a club that found themselves regularly fighting in the bottom half of the table with the exception of one year.’’ Talking after the match, Moyes observed that a depleted team would not have showed such resilience “11 years ago”. The message was clear: he has brought in players of the requisite character and he has enhanced their fortitude. That is why the Wigan humiliation was an aberration rather than any signal of deeper troubles.
Moyes acknowledged how much he would like to emulate the success of Howard Kendall in the 1980s, noting the “great players” Kendall could call on. Everton currently lack stars of the lustre of Andy Gray and Gary Lineker yet the unity of purpose is the same. Moyes praised the club’s “stability’’, pointing out that the board would “find themselves in financial trouble” if they “constantly changed the manager” or had a “big turnaround in players”. This was hardly a startling insight into the working practice of the People’s Club under Moyes and Bill Kenwright but it was a timely reminder for those who rail against the current regime. Everton are trying to balance the books.
They are fortunate to have Moyes, who responded well to Pienaar’s red. He stood on the edge of the pitch, jabbing a finger at players to move them around. Osman went left, Fellaini dropped back into central midfield. Moyes turned to his bench, telling Steven Naismith to get warmed up. Naismith soon came on for Mirallas, keeping up the industry down the right. Moyes withdrew Anichebe for Nikica Jelavic, who promptly scored. His decisions worked. Goodison should cherish Moyes.
Everton will make a summer move for Manchester City winger Scott Sinclair.
Sinclair is desperate for first-team football but couldn't switch to Goodison Park in January on loan because he had played 67 minutes for Swansea at the beginning of the season.
FIFA rules prohibit anyone playing for three clubs during one season.
STEVEN NAISMITH would never be stupid enough to disregard Gareth Bale, but when the Tottenham star and Wales come to Hampden on Friday night, he insists it will be all about Scotland.
The World Cup qualifier is new manager Gordon Strachan’s first outing at the national stadium, and his first taste of competitive action.
Bale hammered the Scots in October with two goals, including the superb winner, but Wales too are desperate for points to keep their qualifying campaign alive
But Naismith said: “We shouldn’t be too concerned about how the Welsh are going to play, even with Bale.
“It’s more about how we play at home, with the crowd behind us, that will determine how well we do.
“We’re good enough to beat them and we’re looking to win it. And being at home we want to put on a good show for the Hampden crowd.
“The first game against them down in Cardiff was really disappointing. I was suspended but I watched it and it’s a performance the players aren’t proud of.
“Wales have some really talented players – you don’t need to look further than Bale – but we need to cause them problems with our players.
“We have guys like Shaun Maloney who is having a terrific season at Wigan and he’s someone who can change a game himself.
“Chris Burke came in last time and was deservedly man of the match against Estonia. It’s good that he’s back after a period of time he wasn’t available.
“Gary Mackay-Steven is in there and he has been showing off his talent for the past couple of years. These guys can make a difference straight away and the fresh faces make sure no one rests on their laurels.
“Our forward-going players can cause Wales just as many problems as they can cause us.”
The balance is to avoid being too preoccupied by Bale – who is a front runner for England’s Player of the Year awards – at the same time as being respectful of his talent.
Naismith added: “I went on as a sub for Everton against Spurs earlier in the season so I’ve not had too much time to see him at first hand, but it’s pretty clear for everyone to see what a talent he is.
“He’s one of a number of very good players Wales have. I’m sure Gordon Strachan will look at it all during the week and make his thoughts known about how he wants us to play.”
Everton wil target Roberto Martinez if David Moyes decides to quit the Merseyside club at the end of the season.
Moyes reached 11 years in charge at Goodison Park last week but Wigan boss Martinez spoiled any celebrations with his team's crushing 3-0 victory in their FA Cup quarter-final.
While Moyes says he will wait to see how the season ends before he commits himself, he could be tempted by a job in the Premier League or abroad, particularly in Germany, where Schalke are the latest to show interest.
The Everton boss is set to have talks with chairman Bill Kenwright about the way he would like the club to go but he said recently: 'The way I'm hearing the players talk, they are as ambitious as I am and probably a lot of futures hinge on where we finish and what we do during the rest of the season.'
Martinez is seen as an ideal replacement, having performed brilliantly to keep Wigan in the Premier League over the past three seasons.
He faces another battle to avoid relegation but his achievements, especially in guiding them to their first-ever FA Cup semi-final, will put him high on the wish list of a number of clubs this summer.
He was linked with Liverpool before Brendan Rodgers took over and has remained loyal to Wigan chairman Dave Whelan, despite several opportunities to move on.
But the 39-year-old Spaniard remains ambitious and the chance to manage one of England's most established football clubs would be hard to resist.
It took nine years to build Manchester Town Hall, from 1868 to 1877, and it’s still the most impressive building in Manchester 136 years later. You can look at the intricate stonework or the magnificent facade and have a real appreciation for the planning that must have gone into the building.
Drawings were prepared for every single detail of the construction by the architect, Alfred Waterhouse, and you know that it will stand for centuries.
These days you would be hard pressed to find a local authority willing to commit to such a long-term vision.
Of course, that’s largely to do with the tough economic times we’re living through. But it’s also because people have changed over the centuries.
We’re much more focused on the here and now rather than the long-term vision. We need constant stimulation, moving on from one thing to the next, whether that is on our smartphones or channel hopping on TV.
You also see it in how we live our lives. My grandparents were married for 50 years but marriages of that length are a rarity these days, when 34 per cent of marriages end in divorce before the 20th wedding anniversary.
People want something more than being married for 20 years with kids and being happy in a routine; people want to try something different. We are generally much more spontaneous, living in the moment, rather than seeing something through or sticking with what seems mundane.
And I suppose football reflects the way we have changed. Certainly it has when I consider the reaction to two very well respected, and I would say high-performing, managers this week — David Moyes at Everton and Tony Pulis at Stoke.
Both have been coming under pressure because people these days aren’t happy that Everton, who once would often flirt with relegation, will finish between fifth and eighth every year; or that Stoke, a club who were in the third tier 11 years ago, will end up between 12th and 14th in the Premier League. The fact that they know what’s going to happen doesn’t excite them, doesn’t stimulate them.
But if anything demonstrates the importance of stability, of consistency, of not making rash decisions, then Everton's performance did.
After they had been knocked out of the FA Cup by Wigan last weekend, many people might not have been expecting their 2-0 win against Manchester City, a performance that was already superb even before they went down to 10 men with 30 minutes to go.
But you know what you will get from David Moyes and his Everton players, and that performance epitomised their character. In a 30-year marriage you might get the odd bad day, but you don’t throw away what you’ve built up over time because of that.
Likewise, those Everton fans who were most vocal last weekend should realise that, bad though the Wigan performance was, their club are in great hands.
We’re bored of saying: ‘Oh, David Moyes is doing well, isn’t he?’ But we should never get bored of that. Or commending the fact Stoke have 25 or 30 players with an incredible work ethic, especially when you see other clubs signing £100,000-a-week players but still having problems getting them to work hard.
In some ways I understand the negativity surrounding Everton last weekend. It was a bad day for the fans, players and the manager because they were expected to beat Wigan at home and if they had done so, they would now have Millwall in the semi-final and would feel they had a good chance of reaching the final.
And I suppose the icing on the cake for Pulis or Moyes would be to win a trophy, like Swansea have this year, though both have gone close by reaching FA Cup finals. But only a handful of clubs can win a trophy each year and what those two managers have done at their clubs has been incredible.
For people thinking about going into football management, the biggest concern is that so few clubs are willing to allow their managers to work for the long term and spend five years laying foundations at a club and then another five years to build on that.
There are not many people who would accept that now. Instant gratification is much more of a feature of society.
So you have the failed examples of Portsmouth and Leeds, who spent big, invited financial disaster but had some thrills on the way.
Or the more successful models, such as Manchester City and Chelsea, who could sustain the spending but wanted to make instant impressions. That is a reflection of society’s need to have something now rather than waiting and taking time to build it.
I’m not saying there’s a right way or a wrong way to conduct yourself. I know people who have been married two or three times and they’ve happily adapted to their life and circumstances: they don’t want long-term consistency, they don’t want reliability. They want fun and stimulation and surprises in their life.
Other people are different and would say: ‘I’d rather win the FA Cup one year and go down the next; or challenge for the Champions League and then go into administration.’
There are more of those types of people in society than there were 30 years ago and football mirrors their desires. But I hate surprises. I hate not knowing what’s going to happen. And I would love the idea of my team always being in the top eight and never battling relegation.
And when I look at the intricacies of Manchester Town Hall and the work that went into building it and ensuring it would stand the test of time, for me that’s like every single training session a manager might go into over eight or nine years at a football club to build a team.
And that’s just the kind of team I would want to support.