What The Papers Say - 02 December 2012
Fallout from Saturday's draw at the Etihad.
The views on this page are taken from the local and national media and do not necessarily reflect the views of Everton.
For Manchester City, there was an unhappy sense of deja vu. They have encountered more problems with Everton under Roberto Mancini's reign than any other team and, once again, there was the distinct feeling that this is increasingly the fixture they look forward to the least.
It is becoming a recurring theme because, by now, Everton can produce a thick portfolio of evidence for the right to be known as City's bogey club. They were the last team to win at the Etihad Stadium, going back almost two years.
Only two other sides, Sunderland and Arsenal, have taken anything from this ground since but David Moyes's side give the impression they get an extra motivation from showing they can cope against a team of greater riches and depth. This was the seventh encounter between Mancini and Moyes and the Italian has won one, losing five.
Moyes was also convinced that record could be steeped even more in his favour, arguing vehemently that City should not have been awarded the penalty from which Carlos Tevez scored their equaliser. The Everton manager was so aggrieved it dominated his post-match thoughts. "I don't know how many penalties they've had in their home games recently," he said conspiratorially, "but it's quite a few."
The inference was clear and it was certainly an unusual set of events that created the bad feeling. On first viewing, it had seemed as though Marouane Fellaini had been penalised for a tug at Edin Dzeko's sleeve. Moyes, however, offered a different slant. "The information we got was that it was a foul by Leon Osman. It was a pull by Osman, the fourth official told us." Yet Osman, as Moyes noted, was not within six feet of the nearest opponent.
Fellaini was, however, taking a risk, which diminishes Everton's grievances, but it could also be argued that Dzeko was using his hands as they jostled for position. Moyes was sufficiently angry he stood a yard on the pitch after the half-time whistle and was waiting for the referee, Lee Probert, until the fourth official, Anthony Taylor, and a fluorescent-jacketed steward talked him out of it.
"It's not a penalty kick, that's the first thing," he said. "Even if he's claiming it's Fellaini it's not a penalty kick, nowhere near a penalty kick. They've had quite a few here recently and that one was easy. If you're going to give them goals, it can't be like that."
Fellaini had given Everton a 33rd-minute lead with his eighth goal of the season and, at that stage, they had been the better side, knocking the ball around confidently and subduing their opponents in a manner that suggested they fancied ending City's 36-match unbeaten home run.
The goal originated on the left, with Leighton Baines breaking forward and delivering a peach of a cross. The first touch flicked off the top of Vincent Kompany's head, inadvertently reaching Fellaini at the far post. His twisting header brought a reflex save from Joe Hart but Fellaini was first to the rebound and bundled it over the line with his knee.
Mancini, who argued that it was a legitimate penalty and said he had "five, six, seven" grievances of his own, talked about his team suffering recently through "not being very strong with our strikers".
He had started this match with Dzeko partnering Tevez but the Bosnian had a poor match and seems to have a more positive impact when he plays as a substitute. Tevez was also below his best but there was an angry reaction from the crowd when Mancini replaced him with the substitute Sergio Agüero – and kept on Dzeko.
"I had my reasons," an unimpressed Mancini said. "I'm not stupid. I understand the supporters – if I put on four strikers and take off four defenders they are happy. But football isn't like that. Sometimes you need your attackers to help you defend, especially when you play a team like Everton who are good at set pieces."
Fellaini's aerial presence had almost conjured up a second Everton goal just before half-time, only for Hart to turn it around the post. City improved after the break – "we played 45 minutes in their half," Mancini said – but David Silva faded, Yaya Touré toiled with little effect and Samir Nasri was even more ineffectual.
The champions had come across a team who fought for every ball and the best chance of the second half was actually at the other end of the pitch. This time Hart was not convincing at all in the way he dealt with Nikica Jelavic's free-kick and City were grateful that nobody was following in to put away the rebound. They will be glad that their next assignment against Everton is not until March.
Marouane Fellaini ensured that Everton continue to be the bogey team for Roberto Mancini's men, even if the Belgian was not a complete hero for David Moyes' team.
Fellaini, Everton's outstanding player of the season, put Everton ahead with his eighth goal of the campaign on a ground at which they had won on four of their last five visits.
However, it was also Fellaini's tug on Edin Dzeko's shirt at a corner that led referee Lee Probert to award the penalty from which Carlos Tévez equalised.
Manchester City manager Mancini sprung a surprise by picking Joleon Lescott, the former Everton defender who has been kept out of the side recently by teenage summer recruit Matija Nastasic.
His Everton counterpart Moyes admitted on Friday that he would not be averse to taking England centre half Lescott back on loan when the transfer window opens next month.
City suffered an early setback when Aleks Kolarov, preferred to midweek choice Pablo Zabaleta at left back, limped off after six minutes to be replaced by Zabaleta.
Maicon had his hands full with the partnership of Everton duo Steven Pienaar and Leighton Baines down his flank, the pair working well without reward.
Fellaini had made a quiet start to the game, but that changed suddenly after 33 minutes when Everton took the lead following a super cross from Baines.
His first header was brilliantly saved by Joe Hart, but the England goalkeeper could only push the ball into the air and the Belgian took full advantage.
Howard was forced to react well to a shot from Tévez as City attempted to extricate themselves from a position al too familiar in this fixture over recent seasons.
In fact they were given a helping hand by Fellaini himself, whose tug on Dzeko's shirt gave Tévez the chance to send Howard the wrong way from the spot after 43 minutes.
Fellaini almost restored Everton's advantage in time added onto the end of the first half, a deft back header from Baines' cross forcing Hart to plunge to another fine save.
David Moyes once said that going to Manchester City was like waging a gunfight armed with a knife but he rarely seems to lack equipment.
Taking anything away from this stadium is a feat. Only one Premier League team – Sunderland - managed it last season, only one – Arsenal – had previously done during the current hostilities. Moyes might have left with even more in his pocket had not officialdom intervened with a decision which left him questioning whether City are getting too many favours. “I don’t know how many penalties they have had in their home games. I think it’s quite a few,” he said. “If you’re going to give them goals it can’t be like that.” It was actually City’s fourth at home this season – one more than any other side. The numbers don’t add up to a conspiracy, but the penalty decision didn’t entirely add up either.
City came back into the game in a way which left Moyes happy with what he had got, though the champions head into a defining week – actively seeking Europa League qualification at Dortmund on Tuesday before Sunday’s return to Old Trafford – still lacking that cavalier spirit they possessed last winter. They have equalled last season’s 15-game unbeaten opening run but the boos which rang out on 68 minutes when Mancini removed Carlos Tevez, rather than an ineffective Edin Dzeko, for Sergio Aguero revealed that the doubt about his selections and strategies are not confined to those who write about the team.
Mancini was indignant. “I have my reasons for this. I am not stupid,” he said. “I understand the supporters: if I put on four strikers and take off four defenders they are happy. I made the decision because Everton are good from set-pieces, not because Carlos played worse than Dzeko.”
He was equally dismissive of suggestions that his players will not be allowed to discuss the Old Trafford fixture with journalists in Dortmund. “I’m not like other managers. I live in a free country where every player is free. I am used to saying what I think every player is free.” City don’t head into that game with the air of free spirits, even though their fans keep reminding us that 6-1 win “should have been ten.”
Mancini certainly knows better than to expect Moyes to grant him the distinction of being the Premier League’s Christmas number one. City’s 2-1 defeat here to Everton two years ago prevented them achieving that for the first time in 81 years and though no Premier League team has since won on City’s turf it became immediate apparent that the Everton effect would be the same as ever. Leon Osman schemed incisively and Marouane Fellani restored the sinking feeling when he stepped forward to wreak the kind of havoc he has been causing defences all season. He was lurking around the back post when Vincent Kompany’s leap to deal with Leighton Baines cross succeeded only in steering it onward in that direction. The Belgian’s header from a yard out brought a fine instinctive save from Joe Hart but he wouldn’t take no for an answer, beating Hart and Pablo Zabaleta to the rebound which he sent in with his knee for his eighth Premier League goal of the season.
Yaya Toure was operating deep and could not imbue City with momentum, while the decision to start with Dzeko didn’t work. Samir Nasri’s promising shot which hit him smack in the face was a motif for an afternoon on which the Bosnian’s greatest contribution was his fall down in the penalty area, bringing the dubious and decisive penalty.
Carlos Tevez converted – his first goal in ten appearances against Everton – and Moyes was so disgruntled that the fourth official, Anthony Taylor and a steward had to keep him from referee Lee Probert as the teams left at the interval. His fury stemmed from Taylor telling him that Leon Osman was the culprit, which seemed to be a case of mistaken identity.
City offered limited threats – Carlos Tevez dropped low into an angular header to bring Tim Howard’s best stop – but Fellaini was an enduring one. He flicked on a whipped Steven Pienaar cross before the interval which Hart threw himself at, to palm away. In the dying seconds he threatened to pounce on another rebound, after Hart parried out Nikica Jelavic’s free kick. This time Vincent Kompany shepherded the ball out of play. “They can score from set pieces. In the end we are happy,” reflected Mancini.
ROBERTO MANCINI will have shared a post-match drink with David Moyes and then bid him good riddance.
The pair have now met seven times and Mancini has won just once, losing five and drawing this one.
No other manager has caused him so many problems since he came to England to kick-start the Manchester City revolution.
Two years ago they denied the club Christmas No 1 spot for the first time in 81 years.
That 2-1 defeat on December 20, 2010 was the last time City lost at the Etihad. Which shows you just how good Everton are when the odds are against them.
Mancini — roundly booed midway through the second half when he withdrew the influential Carlos Tevez — had called it right on Friday when he praised the strength of Moyes’ side.
He pointed out how all the big clubs have trouble with them. In fact, every club.
Moyes has targeted fourth place this season for his side and Mancini believes they can do it.
The only frustration for the Everton boss must be that eight of their 15 games this season have ended in stalemate. Mancini will rue these dropped points, too.
Still they remain the only unbeaten team in all four divisions. Indeed, going back to last season, that is 21 league games without defeat.
But it is four points dropped at home now, twice as many as last season and a sixth draw from their 15 league games. In a title battle that promises to be as tight again, Mancini will want to stop those points leaking away.
After the goalless draw against Chelsea a fortnight ago Mancini had a go at his misfiring strikers.
He could quite easily have done the same again yesterday.
Despite using all four at different stages they were largely shackled.
After a sorry first half hour yesterday it was Everton who took the lead through the brilliant Marouane Fellaini with his eighth league goal this season After Arsenal’s draw at Goodison Park on Wednesday night, Arsene Wenger told Moyes that he found his Belgian ace unplayable when he is on top form.
He was not quite that yesterday but certainly kept the City back four busy and did well for his goal.
Leighton Baines put the far-post cross in from the left and Pablo Zabaleta completely lost his man.
That allowed Fellaini a free header which was met by a fine save from Joe Hart.
The ball came straight back out and Fellaini was ready for it, reacting quicker than Zabaleta to prod home. City were woken from their slumber and responded immediately.
A cross from Samir Nasri was met by a Tevez flick header which Tim Howard saved well at full stretch low down just inside the far post.
Nasri was the supplier again when Gareth Barry chested the ball off to Edin Dzeko, whose volley was well saved.
From the resulting corner came the penalty incident that lead to the equaliser.
Nasri swung the ball in and Fellaini pulled Edin Dzeko back. Contact might have seemed minimal and it was a soft penalty — but it was still a penalty.
Up stepped Tevez to fire down the middle for his seventh goal of the season. Everton’s heads never drop, though, and in first-half injury time they almost had the lead back.
A cross from Steven Pienaar was met by Fellaini’s header and Hart had to dive full length to stop it.
The half ended with David Silva and Mancini shouting and gesticulating at each other over how the chance had come about.
City went about getting a winner straight from the restart but they were struggling to carve out any clear-cut opportunities.
Edin Dzeko claims he does not want to be known as a supersub. But the problem is when he starts games he just does not do it. Yesterday, when Mancini decided to bring off Tevez for Sergio Aguero instead of him, the boos rang round.
“I have my reason for this, I am not stupid,” said Mancini after the game.
When Dzeko went off in the 81st minute for Mario Balotelli the response from the crowd was one of relief.
But not even Aguero and Balotelli could change things round for City.
Indeed, Everton came close to snatching it a minute from time when Nikica Jelavic’s curling free-kick was bundled round the post unconvincingly by Hart.
Next up for City here is the derby. Another performance like this and that unbeaten home record could be over.