Cardiff City 3 Manchester City 2: Five talking points from disappointing defeat
By Ric Turner, Sun 25 August 2013 22:04
Issues raised by City's defeat in Cardiff
1) Failings of last season evident again. There was much praise for City's performance against Newcastle, but the acid test for Pellegrini was always going to come away from The Etihad Stadium. Last season City were often guilty of complacency away from home, frequently dominating possession and chances but failing to take points from games that title contenders should be winning. City were sloppy defensively today, and guilty of surrendering possession with alarming frequency. Whilst Cardiff were never going to be easy opposition in their first game back in the top flight, Pellegrini will be concerned at the way the game was lost.
2) Joe Hart's form is a cause for concern. David Platt's assertion that City were looking to replace Hart with Stoke's Asmir Begovic suggests that doubts have lingered about the goalkeeper's form for a while. In Hart's defence, he made a smart stop to deny Fraizer Campbell just before half time, saving Javi Garcia's blushes by coming quickly off his line. However, question marks will be raised about his ability to command the penalty area after City conceded twice late on from corner kicks. If Manuel Pellegrini is true to his word, and players will be picked purely on form, then Hart must be glancing nervously over his shoulder with Costel Pantilimon waiting in the wings.
3) A new centre half is required as a matter of urgency. With Vincent Kmpany and Micah Richards ruled out with injury, and Matija Nastasic not fit enough to start, City were forced to play Javi Garcia alongside Joleon Lescott in the centre of defence. Many City fans voiced their concerns when the teams were announced, and City looked vulnerable to the ball over the top, with the pace of Campbell and Craig Bellamy in particular causing problems. In Kompany's absence, City lack a natural leader at the back and it is clearly an issue Pellegrini needs to address. With just a week of the transfer window remaining, expect City to renew efforts to sign Martin Demechelis from Atletico Madrid.
4) Alavaro Negredo showed promising signs. The Spaniard scored a late header, and whilst it only proved to be a consolation, it was a clever finish from Negredo. After having a goal wrongly ruled out for offside against Newcastle, the striker is showing an eye for goal, and could be the clinical finisher that City lacked last season. His all round awareness and touch were good, and he is pushing for his first start for City.
5) It's too early to panic. Whilst it was unquestionably a disappointing performance and result today, it must be borne in mind that it was only Pellegrini's second game in charge and it will take the team time to adapt to the new manager's methods. The usual hyperbole on the forums and social media outlets was predictable, but some patience is required. Clearly we can't afford to concede too much ground, even at this stage of the season, but hopefully today's result will serve as a stark wake-up call to both manager and players. Some solace can be taken in the fact that United lost their first away game of last season, and went on to comfortably win the title.