Somehow we have managed to crash out of Europa League not even matching our quarter final appearance in the UEFA Cup competition two or three seasons ago. And of course our squad back then was a shadow of what it is now. We have achieved less with more resources, more talent, more firepower at our disposal. It is just so frustrating.
The blame game
There are of course many reasons why we lost against Kyiv. Mario Balotelli is likely to come in for the most flak. The young Italian’s actions were rash, stupid, brainless, call them whatever you want. His sending off undoubtedly made it hard for us, but he alone did not single-handedly lose us this tie. Mario Balotelli is not as important as that. Instead we lost this tie with woeful defending in the cold night of
That we were the better, more purposeful side for the vast majority of the second leg speaks volumes for the 10 men who were left with the seemingly insurmountable task of overcoming Kyiv without a full contingent of personnel. Dinamo Kyiv hammered Besiktas 8-1 in the previous round, but in truth over the two legs we should have dispatched them with ease. Two glaring defensive errors in Kyiv, combined with Balotelli's mindlessness and our own poor finishing, have more or less ended up handing the tie to the Ukranians.
The threat of Shevchenko never materialised and he was more or less nullified by the excellent Kompany and Joleon Lescott. Tellingly, the former
Kyiv were limited at best to counter attacking football. That is of course, when they weren’t diving around the pitch and trying to get City players booked. I have never seen a referee be sold on so many occasions during 90 minutes. But I have no complaints here – this is something we have to put up with in European football. Besides, the referee got the biggest call right, with Balotelli quite rightly being sent from proceedings.
Chance after chance
At the other end of the pitch though, we were woeful. To be fair, Kolarov took his strike well, but we had much clear opportunities to score that we didn’t take. From point black range, Balotelli sent a shot sailing over the bar in the second minute of the game. In the second half, a wicked deflection almost crept into the Kyiv goal at the near post. When he was introduced, Edin Dzeko had an excellent chance but shot directed at the keeper. Then, as the game reached its conclusion, we had the chance that could have forced extra time, with a shot coming through a crowded penalty area only for Tevez to miss the vital flick that would have sent it beyond the keeper and into the back of the net.
Its no coincidence that our attacking threat has diminished as there have been slight declines in the form of Carlos Tevez and David Silva. You can’t play well all the time, but at the bare minimum – at this point in the season – you must ensure victory. We have not had a good performance against credible opposition since we dispatched
Although this reality is now beyond us, the title nevertheless has a very believable ring to it. You look now at the strength of the competition – PSV, Benfica,