Tag Archives: nasri

Sergio Aguero apologises for stamp on David Luiz

Aguero apologises to Luiz for two-footed stamp in FA Cup semi-final win over Chelsea

By
Laurie Whitwell

PUBLISHED:

21:35 GMT, 16 April 2013

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UPDATED:

00:27 GMT, 17 April 2013

Sergio Aguero has apologised to David Luiz for his two-footed stamp on the Brazilian defender during Manchester City’s FA Cup semi-final win over Chelsea.

The Argentine escaped a three-match ban after Chris Foy missed the horror tackle and the FA ruled the incident could not be re-refereed.

Influential: Sergio Aguero played a key role in Manchester City reaching thee FA Cup final

Influential: Sergio Aguero played a key role in Manchester City reaching thee FA Cup final

Luiz had called on Aguero to say
sorry and the striker tweeted: ‘I’ve contacted @DavidLuiz_4 and
apologised for what happened during the match. It was an impulse
reaction that shouldn’t have happened.’

The victim responded: ‘Thank you
@aguerosergiokun for a demonstration of character. We get to know great
man and athletes this way.’

Luiz suffered no serious harm in the
challenge and played on until the end of the match – but in the
aftermath did call on his fellow South American to apologise.

Over the top: But Aguero has apologised to David Luiz

Over the top: But Aguero has apologised to David Luiz

The defender said: 'Aguero is a great player but he needs to be honest with himself and say, “I don't like to do bad tackles”.

'Kids see the game and they want to
see the good things and not the bad – I would apologise. Football is
beautiful, but sometimes in games people have five seconds like that – I
forgive him because I have a good heart. I don't like to beat people.

'Sometimes in a game people have five
seconds when they are angry and do things they don't like to do. I
think it was that. I never saw Aguero do a bad tackle on other players.'

City won 2-1 after goals from Samir Nasri and Aguero when only Demba Ba could score for Chelsea.

Samir Nasri calls Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini a liar

You're a liar! Nasri hits back at Mancini and praises former manager Wenger as his best-ever boss in further snub

By
Andy James

PUBLISHED:

22:29 GMT, 1 April 2013

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UPDATED:

00:56 GMT, 2 April 2013

Samir Nasri has labelled manager Roberto Mancini a liar after the Italian questioned his 24million man’s efforts in training.

The Frenchman has endured a difficult campaign with the Premier League champions, and was damned with faint praise by Mancini after his impressive showing against Newcastle on Saturday.

Nasri turned in a man of the match performance in City’s 4-0 win and the manager joked that he ‘wanted to give him a punch’ for only showing his best form it fits and bursts.

False accusations: Samir Nasri, who shone against Newcastle, has hit back at manager Roberto Mancini

False accusations: Samir Nasri, who shone against Newcastle, has hit back at manager Roberto Mancini

False accusations: Nasri (right), celebrating with Carlos Tevez against Newcastle, has hit back at Mancini

‘I don’t know what the difference was
today,’ Mancini said. ‘I can’t understand sometimes a player with his
quality doesn’t play like today every game. I think that the second year
is always difficult to win again. And sometimes a player can think it
is enough to play 50 per cent. Probably we had this problem this year.’

But speaking on French television channel beIN Sport on Monday night, Nasri hit back.

He
said: ‘I am aware that I have not had a good season. There are many
reasons for this. But when Mancini said that I’m training at 50 per
cent, this is not true.’

Swipe: Mancini had blasted Nasri for only putting '50 per cent' effort in in training

Swipe: Mancini had blasted Nasri for only putting '50 per cent' effort in in training

In
another thinly veiled swipe at Mancini, Nasri heaped praise on former
boss Arsene Wenger, under whom he was first given a chance in the
Premier League when he signed for Arsenal in 2008.

The
France international spent three years at the Emirates Stadium, but
left in 2011, a decision which continues to sit uncomfortably with
Gunners fans.

But the
25-year-old says he has no regrets about the decision to turn his back
on ‘the greatest coach he ever worked with’, insisting his decision to
move north was not based on money.

In action: Nasri put in an impressive display in City's ruthless 4-0 demolition of Newcastle on Saturday

In action: Nasri put in an impressive display in City's ruthless 4-0 demolition of Newcastle on Saturday

nasri

He
added: ‘Arsene Wenger is the greatest coach I have worked with. He is
the one who understands me the most, he made me realise my potential. I
am grateful to him for the role he played in my career. I only regret
not having more discussions with him when I left.

‘I
do not have other regrets. I do not regret joining Manchester City. I
want to play and perform, and my departure from Arsenal is purely for
sporting reasons.

‘When you
compare Arsenal and City, it’s not the same. With City I’m playing in a
better team, I won the title, and Arsenal fight to qualify for the
Champions League. I didn’t leave for money.

Mentor: Nasri said Arsene Wenger, watching Arsenal's win over Reading, was his best-ever manager

Mentor: Nasri said Arsene Wenger, watching Arsenal's win over Reading, was his best-ever manager

‘Even when I left, I was in training well. All went well with the manager because he knows I showed professionalism.’

And
in a move which likely enrage fans even further, Nasri claims he was
forced out of the club because unpopular owner Stan Kroenke wanted to
cash in a player who had one year left on his deal.

The real story: Nasri claimed he was forced out of Arsenal by billionaire owner Stan Kroenke

The real story: Nasri claimed he was forced out of Arsenal by billionaire owner Stan Kroenke

‘Cesc
[Fabregas, who quit for Barcelona the same summer] or me were supposed
to leave,’ he explained. ‘Arsene told me that if Cesc would leave, I
would stay. ‘But Kroenke could not ignore the transfer fee.’

Nasri also dismissed speculation linking him with a move away from England this summer, despite interest from his homeland.

‘There is nothing going on with Monaco, nor with PSG,’ he concluded.

Theo Walcott agrees deal to stay at Arsenal

Walcott finally agrees new deal at Emirates with forward set to stay at Arsenal until 2016

PUBLISHED:

12:19 GMT, 18 January 2013

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UPDATED:

13:00 GMT, 18 January 2013

Theo Walcott appears to have ended the drawn out contract saga at Arsenal by agreeing a new deal that will keep him at the club until 2016.

After lengthy negotiations the England forward has finally agreed, in principle, a three-and-a-half year deal at the Emirates.

The 23-year-old is likely to join fellow Britons Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who all signed five-year extensions last month.

Finally: Theo Walcott has agreed a new deal with Arsenal after lengthy negotiations

Finally: Theo Walcott has agreed a new deal with Arsenal after lengthy negotiations

On alert: Arsene Wenger was concerned that another of his prized assets would leave the club

On alert: Arsene Wenger was concerned that another of his prized assets would leave the club

Walcott was expected to agree a deal
sooner, but he baulked at a deal worth 75,000 per week in
August as he held out for a contract closer to 100,000.

Arsene Wenger has seen some of his brightest
talents leave the Emirates in the past two summers.

Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri,
Alex Song and the Premier League's leading goalscorer this season Robin van Persie have
all departed and the Frenchman was desperate to keep Walcott
on board.

Wenger had
said that he was '99 per cent' certain that Walcott would agree terms
before the weekend, and it appears his prediction has come to fruition.

He told The Sun: 'I hope it will be signed before the weekend. There is a possibility. My optimism is at 99 per cent now.'

He added that he was concerned
Walcott would follow the other big names out of the club but it appears
he is set to stay in north London.

Wenger said: 'Yes I was scared at
some stage, that he could leave because it is like that with the
experience I have in negotiations.

'When things last too long, it is never a good sign. It took us some time to get where we want to get. It is still not finalised, but hopefully it will be done by this weekend.'

Walcott joined the Gunners in 2006, when Wenger signed the 16-year-old Southampton academy graduate.

The Englishman is Arsenal's top scorer this campaign with 14 goals in all competitions.

Problem solved: Arsene Wenger managed to convince Walcott to stay at the club

Problem solved: Arsene Wenger managed to convince Walcott to stay at the club

Crisis averted: Samir Nasri moved to Manchester City

Crisis averted: Cesc Fabregas joined Barcelona in 2011

Crisis averted: Samir Nasri (left) moved to Manchester City and Cesc Fabregas (right) left for Barcelona in 2011

Big loss: Robin van Persie left Arsenal last summer for Manchester United

Big loss: Robin van Persie left Arsenal last summer for Manchester United

Samir Nasri red card: Manchester City will not appeal

Nasri will serve three-match ban after City decide not to appeal red card for losing his head

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UPDATED:

15:37 GMT, 31 December 2012

Manchester City have confirmed they will not appeal Samir Nasri’s red card against Norwich.

Nasri was sent off in controversial circumstances for squaring up with his head to Norwich’s Sebastien Bassong in the 4-3 win at Carrow Road on Saturday.

Off: Samir Nasri (right) confronts Norwich City defender Sebastien Bassong

Off: Samir Nasri (right) confronts Norwich City defender Sebastien Bassong

City manager Roberto Mancini was angry at the decision at the time and said this morning that the club had not decided whether to appeal the card and the three-match ban that will come with it.

However, the club have now decided to accept the charge and Nasri will miss tomorrow’s game at home to Stoke, the weekend’s FA Cup tie with Watford and the game at Nasri’s old club Arsenal on January 13.

Early bath: Nasri will now miss City's three games in the league and FA Cup

Early bath: Nasri will now miss City's three games in the league and FA Cup

One of the dangers of appealing a sending off is that the FA can deem the appeal frivolous and add an extra game to the ban. City clearly decided they did not want to risk this.

Mario Balotelli Manchester City tribunal: Roberto Mancini urged to sell Italian striker

EXCLUSIVE: Get rid of Balotelli! Mancini urged to ditch controversial striker as Italian takes club to tribunal over 340,000 fine

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UPDATED:

13:50 GMT, 17 December 2012

Roberto Mancini has been urged to leave Mario Balotelli out in the cold this Christmas as Manchester City prepare to face their errant Italian at a Premier League tribunal on Wednesday.

Balotelli was left at home by Mancini for the weekend trip to Newcastle with the City boss citing poor fitness. Now Balotelli will accuse the Premier League champions of unfairly fining him 340,000 for poor discipline at a tribunal this week.

Sportsmail can reveal that only the wilfulness of Mancini is keeping Balotelli in the first-team picture at all and indeed at the club.

Support: Roberto Mancini is alone at Manchester City in backing Mario Balotelli to prove himself at the club

Support: Roberto Mancini is alone at Manchester City in backing Mario Balotelli to prove himself at the club

Some senior players at the Etihad Stadium and indeed members of Mancini’s coaching staff are now so fed up with Balotelli and his distracting influence in the dressing room that they have told the City boss the squad would be better off without his young protg.

The feeling is that Balotelli’s occasional moments of effectiveness on the field are now far outweighed by the circus that constantly surrounds him away from the pitch.

Senior figures now hope that Mancini leaves him out of the first team picture over Christmas – starting with Saturday’s home game with Reading – until he learns his lesson and sorts himself out.

Jump to it: Balotelli faces his club at a tribunal on Wednesday over a 340,000 fine for poor discipline

Jump to it: Balotelli faces his club at a tribunal on Wednesday over a 340,000 fine for poor discipline

City played well at Newcastle in
winning 3-1 and were especially effective when the likes of Sergio
Aguero, Samir Nasri and David Silva had the ball. Many at City have seen
this as a sign that the team can cope perfectly well without Balotelli
as they endeavour to catch leaders Manchester United.

In some people’s eyes, the final straw hasn’t come with news that Balotelli wants to fight his own club at a tribunal but rather with his performance against United at the Etihad Stadium eight days ago.

Mancini surprised everyone by choosing Balotelli ahead of Carlos Tevez and it is now understood that the 22-year-old was sent out with direct instructions to run straight at United’s veteran defender Rio Ferdinand whenever he had the ball.

Struggles: Balotelli started against Manchester United but failed to impress

Struggles: Balotelli started against Manchester United but failed to impress

Mancini felt that Ferdinand’s legs 'have gone' and that Balotelli could trouble him. Hardly at all in the
game did Balotelli follow this instruction, though, something that led
to his substitution five minutes in to the second half.

It is widely presumed that City will try to move Balotelli on in the January transfer window. This, however, is far from certain as Mancini continues to cling to his own belief that he can shape the former Inter player in to the finished article.

Mancini, though, is the only person at City who believes this to be the case.

TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS

Premier League players (and managers) have taken their clubs to tribunal before — and usually left soon after. Here are four…

Charlie Adam v Blackpool – November 2010: Their captain launched a case after the Tangerines failed to pay a 25,000 bonus which was owed when Championship safety had been secured. Adam won but legal fees were considerable. He then signed for Liverpool.

Dan Gosling v Everton – July 2010: Earned the right to leave the club on a free transfer after successfully arguing that as his contract extension was only offered verbally and not in writing it was invalid. He moved to Newcastle for nothing.

Alan Curbishley v West Ham – November 2009: The manager won 2million from the club after Anton Ferdinand and George McCartney were sold behind his back. He had a clause in his contract demanding final say on transfers and claimed constructive dismissal.

Gabriel Heinze v Man Utd – August 2007: Tried to force a transfer to arch-rivals Liverpool after losing his place, but Sir Alex Ferguson blocked it. The Argentinian defender appealed to the Premier League but failed and was sold to Real Madrid for 6.8m.

Gary Neville hits out at Manchester City"s Samir Nasri after derby display

Nasri lost City the derby… he went missing at the vital moment, blasts ex-red Neville

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UPDATED:

13:47 GMT, 12 December 2012

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville has blasted Manchester City player Samir Nasri, accusing the French midfielder of failing to turn up in the big games.

Sky Sports pundit Neville has ripped into Nasri following his disappointing performance in Sunday’s 3-2 derby defeat to United.

And Neville believes that the 25million signing deserved to be substituted instead of Mario Balotelli, who Neville has defended after the Italian also came under fire after an ineffective showing at the Etihad Stadium.

Missing: Gary Neville accused Samir Nasri of not turning up for big games

Missing: Gary Neville accused Samir Nasri of not turning up for big games

Neville told the Manchester Evening News: 'There was another player on the pitch who could easily have been taken off before Mario Balotelli,' he said. 'I think he goes missing in big games for City – and he’s the only one – and that’s Samir Nasri.'

To City’s detriment, Nasri remained on the pitch, and as Van Persie stepped up to take a 92nd minute free-kick, the Frenchman failed to stand tall in the three-man defensive wall, ducking behind City striker Edin Dzeko.

Van Persie’s strike was diverted in via Nasri’s outstretched leg and Neville has claimed that it was typical of Nasri to go missing at the vital moment.

Hiding: Nasri fails to stand strong in the wall as Robin van Persie gets scores a stoppage time free kick for Manchester United

Hiding: Nasri fails to stand strong in the wall as Robin van Persie gets scores a stoppage time free kick for Manchester United

Neville added: 'The football match has been won by what Samir Nasri did in that wall. It really has cost his team. That was the difference on the day.'

'For me, he doesn’t put a shift in. When they play with David Silva and Nasri, you expect the brilliance of Silva and you need somebody more solid on the other side.

'I played against Nasri three or four years ago at the Emirates Stadium and he pulled my pants down for 60 minutes and I got subbed because he absolutely battered me.

My ball: Patrice Evra slides in to take the ball off Nasri

My ball: Patrice Evra slides in to take the ball off Nasri

'This is a player you’ll see when the ‘oles’ are coming out, but when the going gets tough I’m not sure he fancies it that much.'

Despite United’s victory at Eastlands taking Sir Alex Ferguson’s six points clear of their Manchester rivals at the top of the Premier League, Neville still believes that City are capable of catching United to retain the title.

'There’s no way Manchester United will be caught by 18 of the teams, but with Manchester City I would never get carried away at this point of the season,' he said.

'They were neck-and-neck last year and City were five points ahead at one point early in the season, so if you’re a Manchester United fan, manager or player you wouldn’t be getting carried away.'

Patrice Evra: Sir Alex Ferguson will sack us if Manchester United don"t beat Manchester City to title

Evra sack alert! Sir Alex will give us ALL the boot if we don't beat City to crown, claims United star

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UPDATED:

22:48 GMT, 10 December 2012

Patrice Evra has warned his team-mates they deserve to be sacked if Manchester United let the Barclays Premier League title slip through their grasp again.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side won an explosive Manchester derby 3-2 on Sunday to move six points clear and end City's two-year unbeaten run at home.

But the memory of blowing an eight-point lead in the final six games last season is still painful and Evra is determined to avoid a repeat.

All smiles: But Evra has warned that United must win the league this season

All smiles: But Evra has warned that United must win the league this season

'I think Ferguson is going to sack everyone if we did that,' said the Frenchman.

'No, I'm serious. It would not be funny, for the fans, for the players, for everyone.

'I remember what happened. We were eight points clear and in the end we lost the league.'

Evra believes the psychological blow inflicted by Robin van Persie's late strike and City's first defeat in 38 Premier League games at the Etihad is even more significant than the lead itself.

'It was more important to win at City and give a sign out to them,' he added.

'We also broke their record at home. Psychologically, it was really important to win against City.'

Meanwhile, it emerged on Monday that City goalkeeper Joe Hart asked Carlos Tevez to leave the defensive wall prior to Van Persie's winner.

Dutch of class: Van Persie's deflected free-kick settled Sunday's Manchester derby

Dutch of class: Van Persie's deflected free-kick settled Sunday's Manchester derby

City manager Roberto Mancini was bemused by the sight of Tevez leaving his position next to Samir Nasri, in what had been a four-man wall, before Van Persie struck his free-kick.

In a heated dressing-room inquest, Hart is understood to have told Mancini that he told Tevez to move as he could not see. Hart's view was that Nasri was in a perfect position to block Van Persie's shot and would have done so had he not then moved out of the way.

Bottle job: Nasri turned his back on RVP's injury-time free-kick

Bottle job: Nasri turned his back on RVP's injury-time free-kick

Mancini may have to rely on out-of-favour defender Joleon Lescott at Newcastle on Saturday.

Captain Vincent Kompany is not expected to recover from the hamstring strain he suffered on Sunday, even though initial tests have indicated that his absence should not be a long one.

Carlos Tevez should have been an automatic pick for Roberto Mancini -Martin Keown

Mancini made a mistake by choosing Balotelli over matchwinner Tevez

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UPDATED:

00:27 GMT, 10 December 2012

Tremendous Tevez

I don’t understand why Carlos Tevez is not an automatic pick — he’s City’s matchwinner. His introduction gave us a proper football match and he played like a man possessed. Unlike Mario Balotelli, he chased down everything and gave the United defenders a torrid time.

Tevez would drop off and run wide and they didn’t know whether to stay or go with him. For Yaya Toure’s goal, he showed strength and composure to keep the ball and pick out his team-mate when surrounded by reds.

Not a moment too soon: Carlos Tevez replaced Mario Balotelli in the second half at the Etihad Stadium

Not a moment too soon: Carlos Tevez replaced Mario Balotelli in the second half at the Etihad Stadium

Winner brilliant, but so avoidable

There were two errors with the wall. Tevez walked off the end to close down Wayne Rooney on the edge of the box, but he should have stayed and reacted if necessary.

And Samir Nasri is not the bravest. What was he doing in the wall We often put people there who can’t do much defensively — such as pick up attackers or block. But he hid. If he stands up tall it hits him and bounces clear.

Winner: Joe Hart was beaten by Robin van Persie's late free kick which won the Manchester derby

Winner: Joe Hart was beaten by Robin van Persie's late free kick which won the Manchester derby

Incredible football

Rio Ferdinand looked majestic most of the match, but if I’m being really picky he could have committed more to blocking Tevez’s shot in the lead-up to Toure’s goal.

But that just showed how difficult it was for defenders yesterday. There was so much attacking quality all over the place, producing football of the highest order.

It was incredible to watch.

Rock solid: Rio Ferdinand had an excellent afternoon before being struck by a coin while celebrating the winner

Rock solid: Rio Ferdinand had an excellent afternoon before being struck by a coin while celebrating the winner

United wide men wing it

City dominated possession in the first half and it was largely down to the fluidity of their wingers. Nasri and David Silva like to come infield and that meant they could keep hold of the ball. But United’s wingers stuck out wide and that made them more clinical when they got it.

Space on the left allowed Ashley Young to set up the opener and Antonio Valencia on the right was key to the second. They were ruthless. The structure of the team created the goals but they had the ability in that framework.

Arsenal rift over Theo Walcott as Arsene Wenger blocks January sale of contract rebel

EXCLUSIVE: Arsenal rift over Walcott as Wenger blocks January sale of contract rebel

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UPDATED:

22:42 GMT, 7 December 2012

Arsene Wenger will plead with Arsenal
not to sell Theo Walcott in January as it emerged discussions over a
new contract have come to a halt.

Publicly, the Frenchman insists talks with Walcott and his advisers over fresh terms are ongoing.

Eyes on the future: Arsene Wenger is frustrated by the on-going negotiations with his star man

Eyes on the future: Arsene Wenger is frustrated by the on-going negotiations with his star man

But Sportsmail understands no formal discussions between the two parties have taken place since August 28, when Walcott turned down a five-year 75,000-per-week deal.

And with just three weeks to go until the transfer window reopens, there are currently no plans in place for further discussions.

Therefore, it is looking increasingly likely that Walcott will go into January with just six months left on his contract.

The 23-year-old could sign a pre-contract agreement with a foreign club from January 1 or join a Premier League side on a free transfer at the end of the season.

The Gunners will look to sell Walcott, whose preference is to stay at the club, in January if a deal is not agreed to avoid him leaving for nothing. But Wenger would prefer Walcott to stay until at least the summer and will make his point to the Arsenal hierarchy.

However, club chiefs are highly likely to press ahead with plans to recoup as much money as possible for Walcott next month.

Wenger made similar overtures to the Gunners board during the Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie sagas — yet both were sold as they entered the final 12 months of their contracts.

Speaking yesterday, Wenger said: ‘I am frustrated, honestly. If you ask me will we sell Theo in January, no. I have always been hopeful he will sign.’

Liverpool want to sign Walcott in January, while Manchester City and Chelsea will offer the former Southampton forward lucrative free transfers in the summer.

Should I stay or go now: Theo Walcott is at loggerheads with Arsenal over his new deal

Should I stay or go now: Theo Walcott is at loggerheads with Arsenal over his new deal

Chelsea 0 Manchester City 0 – match report

Chelsea 0 Manchester City 0: Poisonous welcome for Benitez as Torres draws blank

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UPDATED:

00:45 GMT, 26 November 2012

Dave Sexton, a good man, a fine coach and a servant of Chelsea to the last. Just when the mood at Stamford Bridge threatened to turn thoroughly poisonous, it was only the sad news of his passing at the age of 82 that restored calm.

Normally, a new manager, even an interim, would be paraded on the pitch to greet the supporters before the game. No doubt predicting jeers, there was no such ceremony for Rafael Benitez.

His appointment has been greeted with hostility around these parts and, while Benitez stayed in the safety of the bench area, the pre-match announcer cannot have whipped with greater speed through his name.

Unpopular: Rafa Benitez was taking charge of Chelsea for the first time since Roberto Di Matteo's sacking

Unpopular: Rafa Benitez was taking charge of Chelsea for the first time since Roberto Di Matteo's sacking

Unpopular: Benitez was taking charge of Chelsea for the first time following Roberto Di Matteo's sacking

MATCH FACTS

CHELSEA: Cech, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Luiz, Cole,
Ramires, Mikel (Romeu 79), Oscar, Mata, Hazard (Moses 71), Torres. Subs
Not Used: Turnbull, Ferreira, Marin, Cahill, Bertrand.

MAN CITY: Hart, Zabaleta, Nastasic, Kompany,
Kolarov, Silva, Toure, Barry, Dzeko (Tevez 69), Aguero (Balotelli 86),
Milner. Subs Not Used: Pantilimon, Maicon, Nasri, Javi Garcia, Toure.

Booked: Zabaleta, Kolarov, Balotelli.

Attendance: 41,792

Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside).

This was the first match of new manager ‘Rafabenitez’, he garbled, without a pause in which fans could voice their opinion. They did so anyway, boos replacing the traditional fanfare.

'Ladies and gentlemen,’ said the announcer, struggling to be heard. ‘Please, ladies and gentlemen.’ He asked for quiet maybe five times before hurrying out the news of Sexton’s death, with the minute of applause to follow. He sounded desperate.

How long the opprobrium would have lasted had there not been a handy tragedy to restore order, who knows Even the sombre atmosphere did not stem the chants for deposed manager Roberto Di Matteo or prevent a show of support for him on 16 minutes, his shirt number here.

Frustrations: Fernando Torres endured another difficult day, with Vincent Kompany looking after him

Frustrations: Fernando Torres endured another difficult day, with Vincent Kompany looking after him

Frustrations: Fernando Torres endured another difficult day, with Vincent Kompany looking after him
TORRES WATCH

BODY LANGUAGE
Torres had been all smiles during the warm-up and was quickly looking for possession. However, following a couple of poor early touches, that confidence quickly drained and never looked like it would come back today.

Torres' afternoon was summed up by the expression when picking himself off the floor after being barged out of possession by City captain Vincent Kompany in the closing stages.

MOVEMENT
The Chelsea frontman covered plenty of ground, but often ran into spaces where the ball did not follow. When he did get a pass into feet at the edge of the City penalty area, Torres was slow to turn and soon hounded out.

LINK-UP
Far too often, Chelsea looked to hit Torres with a long ball, bypassing midfield. When Juan Mata or Eden Hazard did get involved, they were more often than not on a different wavelength to the No 9, who spent most of the second half working the channels.

FINISHING
Torres was given little opportunity in front of goal in the first half, as Kompany kept him in close quarters. Just after the hour, he linked up well with Mata and Hazard for an opening, but blazed his shot over the crossbar.

Benitez has a thick skin, say those
who know him. He will need it. Whether his players have thick skins too
is debatable, but they will need to be equally resilient unless results
improve.

A dry spell tolerated when local hero — and Champions League winner, never forget — Di Matteo was in charge will now be met with fury under Benitez. The pressure at Chelsea has multiplied overnight with his arrival. Yesterday’s goalless draw with the champions was a fair result, but greeted with disinterest.

Roberto Mancini said the only way Benitez could be loved here would be to ‘win, win, win, win, win’, but that might not be enough, either. The best he can hope for is a grudging respect.

Booing a manager into a job does seem faintly ridiculous. It happened to Gary Megson at Bolton Wanderers, too. Yet the club were bottom of the Premier League when he arrived and finished 16th that season and 13th the year after. The supporters never took to him and he left during his third campaign amid another relegation battle, but he did a better job than expected; Benitez might, too.

His problem is that the very nature of his appointment — interim manager — marks him out as a stop-gap, a temp. The fans have no imperative to learn to love him and nor do the team. A player who does not enjoy Benitez’s methods can simply wait him out and hope he has a better relationship with his successor.

Trickster: The likes of Oscar and Juan Mata struggled to impress their new manager

Trickster: The likes of Oscar and Juan Mata struggled to impress their new manager

Trickster: The likes of Oscar and Juan Mata struggled to impress their new manager

A clean sheet, the first in the league since September 22, was the best of it for Benitez against a Manchester City side that tried Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko,

Carlos Tevez and even Mario Balotelli for six minutes (during which time he picked up another preposterous yellow card from referee Chris Foy for simulation after running into David Luiz).

The disappointment was that Chelsea had just one shot on goal in a home game. It is the first time they have failed to score here since May 2, against Newcastle United. The time before was March 24. Chelsea do not draw blanks here very often.

Try as he might: Benitez was animated throughout on the touchline, but couldn't inspire

Try as he might: Benitez was animated throughout on the touchline, but couldn't inspire

If Benitez has been hired to work magic on Fernando Torres, it was more like pulling teeth than producing a rabbit from a hat. Liverpool failed to score in his last two games there, too.

Torres hurried, scurried, but was too often beaten off the ball by City’s back line, with Vincent Kompany outstanding. Torres had a couple of bursts but was quickly reined in, and one shot with his unfavoured left foot that flew over from close range. He should have done better. You might have heard that before.

For City, this was two points lost. Chelsea are a very different side to the one that lost to Manchester United with Mark Clattenburg’s aid on October 28. Chelsea looked strong that day. Yesterday, they were damaged goods.

Rough and ready: Chelsea's defence were well-drilled, keeping City's attacking talent at bay

Rough and ready: Chelsea's defence were well-drilled, keeping City's attacking talent at bay

The fluid players expensively
assembled over two summers — Oscar, Eden Hazard, Juan Mata — now appear
unsure of their roles. Mata was played very wide to better supply Torres
(left), but only shone in the second half when he appeared to drift off
message. Hazard was substituted early, a shadow of his early-season
self.

His replacement, Victor Moses, set up
Chelsea’s best chance, a fierce shot from Ashley Cole that Joe Hart
tipped over, although he got no credit from Foy, who awarded a goal
kick. On the plus side, Benitez seems to have instilled greater
discipline in Luiz but it would be hard to instil less. Luiz recovered
from an early mistake — Cole rescued him by blocking a shot from Pablo
Zabaleta — to come on to a decent game.

City dominated the first half and
created good chances for David Silva (header, over), Zabaleta (one-two
with Dzeko, shot saved) and Aguero (poor header, straight at Petr Cech)
before half-time, after which Chelsea showed greater initiative.

Rough and ready: Chelsea's defence were well-drilled, keeping City's attacking talent at bay

Only late did City come again, a Dzeko cross intercepted by Cole by the line, one from Tevez that appeared to surprise Cech as he tipped round. In the last minute, Matija Nastasic rose to meet a corner from Silva, Cech doing well to keep out his header.

Benitez shrugged off his reception by claiming he did not understand some of the chants. He would have to be a fool, though — and he is not — to fail to get the gist. Wednesday brings Fulham to Stamford Bridge and, if Chelsea cannot win, not even the late, gentle Sexton will be able to shield him from the full force of public opinion.

Chelsea

VIDEO: GRAHAM CHADWICK'S PICTURES FROM CHELSEA V MANCHESTER CITY