Manchester City 2 Swansea City 1
MANCHESTER // Swansea City have lost a Monk but kept a habit. They carry on losing, with or without the dismissed manager Garry Monk.
Manchester City have a routine of their own, and if a ninth home win in 10 games was neither the most convincing, it was dramatic and it restored them to the top of the table.
Swansea are manager-less. They could pronounce themselves luckless, too.
They had shown character and quality to haul themselves level in the 90th minute. But, for the seventh time in eight games at the Etihad Stadium, City scored late.
Yaya Toure’s shot looped up off substitute Kelechi Iheanacho’s back to beat Lukasz Fabianski. It was a cruel conclusion. Swansea scarcely resembled relegation strugglers, but a run of one win in 12 indicates why they are being dragged into trouble.
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This was a tale of Swansea strikers past and present, of Bafetimbi Gomis, who failed to score in Monk’s last 12 games but equalised with an unstoppable shot, and Wilfried Bony, who broke the deadlock.
That they were beaten in part by one of their own felt symbolic: one catalyst in their rise was fired on Wednesday. Another contributed to their defeat yesterday.
Swansea’s year has been bookended by significant departures, with the December dismissal of the strategist Monk following the January sale of the spearhead Bony.
It felt a factor in the manager’s eventual downfall.
Signed for £12 million (Dh69m), sold for an initial £25m, Bony provided proof of Swansea’s transfer-market acumen. Yet, besides the boost to their bank balance, his departure was a deal that has not really benefited either club.
Gomis has been mercurial since taking Bony’s spot and was dropped yesterday, before scoring as a substitute, while the other City have rarely seen the Ivorian at his most incisive.
Yet he is at his most potent in these meetings. Scoring three goals in two games against the title challengers, coupled with the problems his muscular approach caused Vincent Kompany, persuaded Manuel Pellegrini to buy him. Two of his five City league goals have come against his old employers.
He did not celebrate the latest, headed in from Jesus Navas’s corner. Bony remains respectful of a club where his reputation soared, but this was a timely strike – if Sergio Aguero does not recover, he may have booked a start against Arsenal – and these have been a productive few days for scorer and supplier alike.
Impact substitutes against Borussia Monchengladbach on Tuesday, they were influential starters on Saturday. Injuries have meant City’s squad has not had the depth they envisaged in August, but these were two examples of Pellegrini’s rotation succeeding.
His counterpart was a caretaker. Alan Curtis’s reign may span a solitary game before a permanent successor – perhaps Mark Warburton, Ryan Giggs or Gus Poyet but definitely not David Moyes – is installed.
The interim occupant experimented, adopting the vogue tactic against City. Swansea lined up in a 4-3-3-0 formation without a specialist striker. It had proved a spectacular success for Liverpool and Stoke City. It is a formation that Pellegrini’s team may encounter again. While they only scored with a centre-forward on the field, Swansea could deem their systemic switch worthwhile.
They troubled City, especially when they unleashed runners from deep. Joe Hart saved superbly from Wayne Routledge.
Hart turned rescuer again to deny Gylfi Sigurdsson, an inventive, elusive false nine, and amid an unrelenting downpour, City were far from watertight at the back.
There was a familiar fragility. This was the 15th game Kompany did not start and, when Gomis blasted Swansea level, a 15th without a clean sheet. Yet when Iheanacho inadvertently intervened, Swansea’s fortunes remained the same, just minus Monk.
New man at Swansea City needs to have right ethos, says caretaker coach Alan Curtis
MANCHESTER // Swansea City must appoint a manager who understands the club’s style and tradition, says caretaker Alan Curtis.
The Welsh club, who have a passing ethos, dismissed Garry Monk on Wednesday and Ryan Giggs, Mark Warburton, Gus Poyet, Dennis Bergkamp and Roberto di Matteo are all possible replacements.
Each of Swansea’s last five appointments – Roberto Martinez, Paulo Sousa, Brendan Rodgers, Michael Laudrup and Monk – have enjoyed success and Curtis, who is not sure if the 2-1 defeat to Manchester City will be his only game in charge, says it is imperative their next manager does not want to conduct a radical overhaul.
“We have always brought in a manager to suit our style rather than changing everything,” he said. “That may take a bit longer. Whoever it is, the most important thing is to get the right man.”
Former captain Monk had been at the club since 2004, and Curtis said it was hardest to bid him farewell. “It is still Garry’s team,” he said. “We have lost managers in the past but it felt much more personal after 11 years as a player and a manager. Everyone was a little bit sad and determined to get something from the game.”
Swansea were denied a point at the Etihad Stadium by a deflected 92nd-minute winner, when Yaya Toure’s shot struck Kelechi Iheanacho.
“We are bitterly disappointed to come away empty-handed,” Curtis said. “I thought we were excellent and deserved to get something. That performance is the standard. If we maintain that, I am 100 per cent confident we will get out of trouble.”
Manuel Pellegrini said his side did not play well but praised Toure for the driving run and shot that produced the winner.
“He was the player who tried to create things,” the Chilean said.
“He had just come back from an injury and played the whole game in the Uefa Champions League and the whole game today.”
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