Belfast Telegraph

Manchester City's card has been marked - Lomas believes Pellegrini must adapt

By Steven Beacom

Former Northern Ireland captain Steve Lomas has questioned the Manchester City tactics that have left his old team on the brink of a shock Champions League exit.

Lomas has also labelled the dismissals of midfield pair Fernandinho and Yaya Toure in City's 2-1 home defeat to CSKA Moscow on Wednesday night as 'unprofessional'.

The Russian side's stunning victory at the Etihad Stadium means that Manuel Pellegrini's team are sitting rock bottom of their Champions League group with no wins from four games.

They only have two points gained from a 1-1 draw at home to Roma and a 2-2 draw from the first meeting with CSKA Moscow in Russia a fortnight ago.

To have any chance of progressing to the knockout stages City now must beat Bayern Munich at home and Roma away in their two remaining games, though even that may not be enough depending on how the other results in the group go.

For the Bayern match later this month, City will be without the suspended Fernandinho and Toure, stupidly red carded in the second half in midweek when with the team trailing 2-1, they desperately needed all hands on deck.

Lomas said: "The players have to take responsibility. The two sending offs were unprofessional and the last thing you need when you are struggling."

The ex-St Johnstone and Millwall boss feels City's troubles in Europe this season could be due to the way the team has been set up.

"I looked at them at home against Roma and they played a 4-4-2 and Roma totally dominated the midfield," said Lomas, who was with City from 1990 to 1997, playing 111 league games.

"On Wednesday night they played the same with Sergio Aguero and Stevan Jovetic up front. How many times in the first 30 minutes were CSKA able to win the ball and get on the attack?" asked Lomas.

"With City it seems everyone wants to go forward in attack and it was too easy for CSKA to get at City's defence.

"Pellegrini is a top, top manager and he wants to be positive at home and go with two attackers, but it sort of played into CSKA's hands.

"Against Roma when he changed it and brought Frank Lampard on and went with five in midfield they certainly got more possession and could have nicked that game.

"And whenever he brought Fernandinho on against CSKA at half time and got Toure closer to Aguero it looked a lot more solid.

"Obviously then you got the red cards, which hurt the team.

"From a defensive side they are too open and teams are getting at them and scoring goals.

"It is something that needs to be addressed and I'm sure Manuel will."

Struggling in Europe's top club competition is nothing new for City though.

This is their fourth successive Champions League campaign, having qualified for the first time in 2011, but only once have they made it to the knockout stages, where they lost to Barcelona in the last 16 last season.

In all City have played 24 games, winning just eight, losing 10.

City are back in action tomorrow night in the Premier League at QPR.

Lomas says a win is a must to keep pace with table topping Chelsea, who are six points clear of the champions.

"QPR are playing with more confidence now but City cannot afford any more slip ups with Chelsea looking so strong in the Premier League," said the ex-Northern Ireland star.

Belfast Telegraph


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