By Robert Morris
After an unlikely promotion to the Premier League, Blackpool won over any doubters a fortnight ago with a historic 2-1 victory over Liverpool at Anfield. Nonetheless, heavy defeats to both Arsenal and Chelsea meant little hope for the Seasiders against a Manchester City side who have only lost once so far this season.
The much-maligned Emmanuel Adebayor was given a rare start alongside Carlos Tevez in the City attack. This meant a switch to the 4-4-2 system which has often been ineffective when employed by Roberto Mancini, although, the Premiership’s big spenders would surely have more than enough fire power to oversee Ian Holloway’s men.
However, it was Blackpool who started the brightest against a star-studded Manchester City side. Dominating the first-half with free-flowing football, Blackpool created numerous opportunities but were unable to truly test Joe Hart in the City goal. Despite scuffing several efforts wide of the post, it only seemed to increase Blackpool’s confidence and wonderful passing display. Charlie Adam was pulling the strings in midfield and was exhibiting skills that you would usually associate with Cesc Fabregas or Andres Iniesta.
Despite all of Blackpool’s hard work they still lacked a decent attempt on goal. Needless to say, Roberto Mancini had reason to be concerned at half-time, as his team were constantly being exposed down the flanks; Jerome Boateng and Wayne Bridge looking notably rusty.
The Blues’ formation clearly wasn’t functioning and it wasn’t long until the Italian replaced Emmanuel Adebayor with David Silva. This allowed City to find comfort in their more familiar 4-5-1 system. It was the Spanish substitute who would play an instant role in the opener, as it was his low cross that found Carlos Tevez; the Argentine provided a delightful flick to steer home. Although, on second viewing there was more than a hint of offside to the goal.
It wasn’t long until the Blues began to find their feet, and it could have so easily been 2-0 when James Milner’s curling effort was denied by the woodwork. However, on the 78th minute the game took another twist when the Tangerines, who could have so easily dropped their heads, raised the roof when Marlon Harewood grabbed a deserved equaliser by glancing home a terrific cross into the City net.
A minute later disaster struck. The celebrations barely had time to finish when a quick break found Carlos Tevez, whose strike from just outside the box was aided by a huge deflection off the out-stretched leg of Craig Cathcart. Another bitter pill for Blackpool to swallow, as they felt there was a clear foul in the lead up to the goal.
Tevez came close to his hat-trick minutes later, however, City were once again denied by the crossbar. Nonetheless, it wasn’t long until David Silva produced a third for the Blues with a wonderful solo effort. The winger twisted and turned two defenders just inside the box, before curling an almost unsaveable shot into the very corner of the goal.
In the 90th minute, Blackpool demonstrated the kind of spirit that finds them mid-table when Taylor-Fletcher snatched a consolation goal; although by then it was simply too little too late.
As the final whistle blew Roberto Mancini breathed a sigh of relief; his team had scraped a win with more than a slice of luck to both of Tevez’s goals. What’s perhaps more important is that the Blues jump back into second spot above Manchester United and Arsenal. They face a tough test at home against the latter next weekend where fireworks are to be expected, what with Emmanuel Adebayor’s infamous knee slide in front of the Arsenal fans still vivid from last year’s fixture.