ROBERTO MANCINI might have a bottomless pit of money at his disposal, but one thing he cannot seem to buy as Manchester City manager is a desire for his players to produce the character required to win games away from home in the Premier League.
City have developed a soft underbelly away from Eastlands and this was exposed once again, this time by a Hull City team put together at a fraction of the cost it took to assemble Mancini’s.
Robinho, for instance, earns more in a season than what half of Hull’s squad take home combined, but what should be troubling Mancini most is the fact that some of the missing Brazilian’s colleagues appear to have been infected by the same lethargy he displayed when it came to securing victories on the road.
Hull were magnificent from start to finish, with George Boateng and Tom Cairney blending their experience and youth into a concoction which left City’s midfield punch drunk. The visitors had no answer to the greater hunger, desire and passion of Hull to win and Mancini’s side have now won just one of their last 10 league games away from home.
The performances of Boateng and Cairney provided Hull with the platform to build pressure and when both Kolo Toure and Dedryck Boyata were cautioned early, the writing was on the wall. Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink provided a useful target man up front while Jozy Altidore’s pace and power was simply too much for City’s defence.
Boateng and Hesselink combined well to allow Altidore to put his side ahead in the 30th minute with a curling strike beyond Shay Given. It was his first goal in the Premier League in 18 attempts but certainly worth the wait, as was Boateng’s thumping volley in the 54th minute.
Emmanuel Adebayor pulled one back for City just before the hour mark to set up a frantic finish but the truth was Mancini’s side got what they deserved in the end – nothing. City will no doubt thrash Bolton at Eastlands tomorrow night, which only highlights the problem. The suave Mancini is not known for losing his temper, but he is running out of patience with his side’s attitude when they venture out of the home comfort zone and he said: “I’m not surprised by this, no. Normally when you don’t play well you lose. We didn’t play well in the first half and Hull did.
“They were more aggressive and we moved the ball very slow. We must change our mentality when we are away from home. We are Manchester City and we want to win, always.
“The players are angry and they know they didn’t play well. Now we must change the situation. This is not normal for a team like City and we know we must play better.”
This victory, coming on the back of a creditable draw with Chelsea, lifted Hull to the giddy heights of 14th in the table and they will travel to Blackburn Rovers this week overdosing on confidence.
Brian Horton, the former City manager and current assistant to Phil Brown at Hull, said: “You can see the spirit out there. This has been the best week of our season so far, without a shadow of a doubt. When you need wins and get them against the top sides it is extra satisfying.
“One of the arts of management it to put a lot of players together very quickly. It’s not always easy and that will take a bit of time, but I’m sure Roberto knows what he’s doing because he’s a top, top manager.
“The fans are desperate for them to do well and I’m sure they will be given time and the money they will have. But it’s about forming the nucleus of what you want.”
Altidore, meanwhile, wore a wristband displaying the Haitian flag and dedicated his goal and the victory to the victims of the recent earthquake on the stricken island, where many of his relatives still live. The US international added: “It was one of our better team performances. We started well and that allowed a lot of individuals to show off their skills.
“We stepped up and it gives us confidence. We wanted to attack them through the centre. Having two big guys up front, we thought we could cause them problems and we did. Not scoring in the Premier League was not playing on my mind. It is a challenge to play here and the main goal all along has been to keep Hull in the Premier League.
“It is not really the style that has been hard to come to terms with, more that it is a very fast league. It takes time to adjust when you are a young player.
“We have shown we can stay here, but that is not enough. We have to keep putting in the performances week in and week out. My family were here and my father was here. It has been a difficult time and my goal was for the people of Haiti.”
MATCH RATING: *** – Hugely disappointing from City’s perspective but full credit to Hull, who played the most attacking football and brightened up the contest.
REFEREE: Phillip Dowd (Staffordshire) 7/10 – Tried to let the game flow whenever possible and used his common sense when required, although he had few contentious decisions to make.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved