Good Kop, Bad Kop
August 27, 2012


Some days, you just know that things wouldn’t really pan out as planned. You arrive at work, and your staff pass is at home. You drive into the automatic toll gate, and your pre-paid card balance is too low. You play Liverpool (or any team for that matter), and you put Kolo Toure ahead of Joleon Lescott.

At the 364,765th place in the Yahoo! Fantasy Football table, I am certainly in no position to question Roberto Mancini’s tactics. And to be honest, I don’t really know the technical reasoning against his decision to start with three defenders. But that’s just down to my lack of footballing wisdom. What I do know is that if he really needed to tinker with the formation, he should’ve done it when we played Limerick in the summer, and put it to the test against Aldershot in the Carling Cup. Not in an away league fixture.

Alas, City took off well in keeping up with the pacey tempo of the game and grasping a good hold of the possession as the first half progressed. Against a newly-revamped Liverpool side basking in the atmosphere of inspiring Kop faithfuls under the bright Merseyside sun, the task was on City to keep the attacking reds at bay. Pablo Zabaleta didn’t have too much trouble holding Fabio Borini down. On the other side of the pitch however, 17-year-old prospect Raheem Sterling proved to be a handful for Kolo. Think an uncle chasing down his kid nephew who’d just shot him with a water gun.

Thirty-four minutes in, City paid the price for poor defending after a swerving corner from Steven Gerrard was finished with a thunderous header from their vowel-deficient hard man, Martin Skrtel. It was the type of header that leaves the opposing fans speechless. I know I was. Because with a bit more focus with the man-marking, it could’ve easily been avoided. The Slovakian practically towered over and tore our defense in half -- no thanks to their delayed reaction.

I was slightly nervous at the break. With the home side immensely uplifted by their soaring performance in the first half, it was definitely advantage Liverpool. Carlos Tevez was doing all the work up front as Mario Balotelli decided not to play. The corners we took made me wonder if the lads only practised them during five-a-side trainings. And Stefan Savic was seen warming up.

New boy Jack Rodwell was brought in for a tired Samir Nasri and Edin Dzeko followed suit two minutes later, in place of Balotelli. An expert at sideways passing (for some reason), Rodwell allowed Yaya Toure to go up further a bit more and in the 63rd minute, it was Liverpool’s turn to make a mess out of their defense for Yaya to slot it in. Why I don’t have a kit with his name on yet is beyond me.

In the euphoria of the equalizer, City’s celebration was short-lived after Luis Suarez converted a free kick from right outside the box with a perfectly timed and placed shot nowhere to be saved by Joe Hart. The goal left City only twenty minutes to equalize. Sometimes as a City fan you wonder if the players do this on purpose.

With the introduction of David Silva in the 76th minute, City’s attack was on full-force yet with the odd counter-attack from Liverpool and a puffing and panting Kolo Toure trailing them, I sensed killjoy for the reigning champions as the prospect of losing the second match of the season was looming.

After firing blanks for a good ten minutes, it took a back-pass mistake by Skrtel to be converted by Tevez for City to score the second equalizer of the game. It was hero to zero and zero to hero within five seconds leading to the goal. A part of me wanted City to win an ugly 3 - 2 and undeservedly bag home all three points. For the benefit of my well-being however, another part of me simply wanted the game to end.

At the blow of the whistle, I exhaled my first actual breath after two hours. It was an underwhelming performance resulting in a flattering point. City’s luck was, in a way, Liverpool’s doing. For the neutrals, it was yet again an entertaining spectacle. If this is how every City game of the season is going to turn out though, for the sake of my health, I shall exclusively watch Premier League Chess instead.


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Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

  • Asrif, b. 1983
  • Subang Jaya, Malaysia
  • asrifomar[@]gmail[.]com
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