MANCHESTER City relinquished their grip on the Capital One Cup on Wednesday night in the worst possible fashion. The lack of spark from Manuel Pellegriniâ€™s team was reminiscent of the insipid fare produced under Roberto Mancini in his title-defence campaign of 2012-13. Here was a crushing embarrassment for the Premier League champions who, if they really harbour pretensions of retaining the crown and prospering in the Champions League, need to wake up from their stupor.
The defeat means Cityâ€™s sequence is draw-loss-loss in their past three matches, with this reverse coming from an XI featuring Yaya TourÃ©, MartÃn Demichelis, David Silva, Eliaquim Mangala, Fernandinho, Edin Dzeko, Stevan Jovetic and James Milner.
Pellegrini must lift his team for Sundayâ€™s 168th Manchester derby. This is a test of the Chileanâ€™s man-management as he is enduring the poorest week of his tenure. Silva, with a knee injury, and TourÃ©, with a â€œtired groinâ€, are both doubts for Manchester Unitedâ€™s visit but more pertinent is the sluggish play and creative deficit haunting the side.
â€œOf course we must be worried,â€ he said. â€œWe didnâ€™t win the three games we played this week. We must be worried about that but we must find a solution and address it. My feeling is that we are not playing well. We are in a difficult moment with a lack of trust [confidence]. We are conceding too easy goals and we are not scoring the chances we have to score.
â€œItâ€™s a lack of confidence that we must address as soon as possible because we need to continue to be involved in the other competitions.â€
Pellegrini said of the derby: â€œWe will see with the players which is the way to try and recover that confidence because itâ€™s not normal to see this team playing the way we are now.â€
Asked if this was the poorest display City had produced under his charge, Pellegrini said: â€œI donâ€™t know if it is the worst performance but weâ€™ve had three games in a week and they have been very similar. We conceded two goals in each too easily and had a lot of chances to score and didnâ€™t. So itâ€™s a difficult moment, thereâ€™s a lack of trust but we are going to recover.â€
The manager stated before the tie that he had been doing extra work on the teamâ€™s defending, although there was scant evidence of this as Alan Pardewâ€™s men poured forward at will.
This is an issue that particularly concerns Pellegrini. â€œIn one sense, yes of course because we are conceding too easy goals with individual mistakes. But we are not playing the way we normally play, weâ€™re not moving the ball as fast as we normally do, weâ€™re not playing as a team, weâ€™re playing too much as individual players and in attack we are missing too many chances. Maybe itâ€™s all linked with the lack of trust.â€
On Thursday he will hope for good news regarding TourÃ© and Silva. â€œWe will see with the doctor,â€ he said. â€œI canâ€™t tell exactly at this moment. David has a problem in his knee. I donâ€™t know how serious it is. Yaya was a little bit tired with his groin so I didnâ€™t want to risk him [any longer].â€
Pressed as to why he started Silva four days before Sundayâ€™s encounter, Pellegrini said: â€œBecause there was no reason David cannot play. We played on Saturday, we had four days to recover, David was perfect to play so there were no reasons [not to play him]. Maybe he was not going to play the whole game. My idea was to change him for Samir Nasri. For our team it was important to be involved in four competitions.â€
Ryan Taylor, making a first appearance since August 2012 after a cruciate ligament injury, was Newcastleâ€™s star turn. His first contribution was to tackle Silva in the challenge that forced him off. The second, minutes later, was to pickpocket a dawdling Fernandinho inside the City midfielderâ€™s own half and roll the ball into Rolando Aaronsâ€™ path. The 18-year-old, one of six Newcastle changes, strode forward, beat Willy Caballero with ease and that was 1-0. It was Aaronsâ€™ second goal in two appearances â€“ he had also scored in the 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace in August.
The second half began with Aarons being replaced by Sammy Ameobi and Newcastle continuing to take the contest to the holders. It was another substitute, Moussa Sissoko, who confirmed Newcastleâ€™s passage into a quarter-final at Tottenham Hotspur, gliding past Fernandinho and a flailing Bacary Sagna before firing home.
At the close a tearful Taylor went into the crowd, gave his shirt to a young fan and, according to Pardew, received â€œan ovationâ€ when he entered the Newcastle dressing room. He and Newcastle richly deserved one. – The Guardian