Manchester City is taking baby steps towards asserting itself as a big club. Another step occurred today at the Riverside, where a watered down City side survived Boro 1-0 to advance in the FA Cup for the first time in three seasons.
Shay Given was not tested until the last ten minutes of the match, as Robert Mancini’s tactical changes continue to impress at the back. For those critics, who point to the level of opposition, I would clearly state that the sort of opposition that ran through City under Mark Hughes (Burnley, Hull, Bolton, even Scunthorpe to a certain extent) are now being thoroughly outclassed under Mancini.
Tactically, Mancini got it right, although in the first half Benjani was isolated up top, playing as a target striker with nobody to play off of. The spine of the City side was very strong today, and that showed as the match wore on and the Blues asserted control.
City’s youngsters were a mixed bag: Vladimir Weiss struggled while Dedryck Boyata was outstanding.
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