x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Roberto Mancini bemoans his wasteful Man City side

The Italian manager sees his team squander a two-goal lead to draw with Fulham and slip to second in the table.

Roberto Mancini accused his star-studded Manchester City attack of shirking their defensive duties as well as wastefulness in front of goal after watching them surrender their 100 per cent start to the Premier League season.

City looked set to open the campaign with five successive top-flight wins for only the second time in their history when they cruised to a 2-0 lead against Fulham yesterday at Craven Cottage.

They could easily have been further ahead but relinquished their stranglehold enough to allow the home side to come roaring back to salvage a 2-2 draw.

The result was the first blow to City's title hopes, allowing rivals Manchester United to open up a two-point lead at the top of the table. It was also the third time in just over a week that they have not taken enough of their chances and Mancini, the manager, said: "This could be a lesson for us.

"Because when you dominate a game like we did today, and you score only two goals, it's a problem. For 10 or 15 minutes after Fulham scored, they played very well. But a football match is 95 minutes and a top team like us needs to have more control of the game.

"I'm not angry. I'm just disappointed because we conceded two stupid goals."

Mancini's men did not need to get out of second gear in the first half, Sergio Aguero maintaining his fine start to life in England by putting them ahead in the 18th minute. Chances came and went before Aguero notched the eighth goal of his five-game Premier League career just 12 seconds into the second half.

But Fulham quickly pulled one back through Bobby Zamora before Danny Murphy equalised via a wicked deflection 20 minutes later. Mancini, who withdrew the attacking trio David Silva, Aguero and Samir Nasri in a bid to give his side more bite, said: "For 10 minutes, we defended with five or six players. It is not good enough."

Mancini also appeared to concede his players were not showing the mentality of champions.

"Probably, probably," he said, before claiming they had been tired by their midweek Champions League exertions. "If we had other players, probably we would make other changes. I don't have players at the moment. I can only change the full-backs. I have only two midfielders, because James [Milner] and [Nigel] De Jong have injuries."

It was pointed out that Fulham also had injuries and had played in the Europa League 24 hours after City's Champions League game.

Mancini claimed the home side had made "five or six changes" but in fact they had made only four, with the Italian making just two.

Martin Jol, the Fulham manager, said: "We were a bit tired but you could say they were a bit tired as well. It was a fantastic achievement to come back against them. I am not sure if they will give away leads like this in the future.

"To come back from the death is what we probably did, but we scored and we had to believe."

Unlike Mancini, Jol was delighted with his side's conversion rate after they struggled to put away Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers in their previous two home games.

"Today we had four opportunities and scored two goals - that is good," he said, after a result which lifted his side off the foot of the table, even if it left him still searching for his first league win in charge.

"The spirit will always be 100 per cent if you get results, and we didn't have the results - as simple as that. To show against a team like that you can come back after scoring two goals must have given us a big boost and confidence for the future."