The Citizens had lost their composure well before Yaya Toure’s red card for fighting banished him to the locker room and the home Manchester City side to 9 men.
Shoving, moaning, bad tackles, poor passing and worse clearances: Manchester City’s 2-1 loss to CSKA Moscow had all the marks of a team in distress. And unfortunately for the Man City faithful, which kept the Etihad Stadium loud thanks to a UEFA ban on traveling Russian fans, it was the home team that looked dire.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini wasn’t at a loss for words, but he did seem confused by his team’s effort. City had beaten Manchester United 1-0 on the weekend and knew it needed points in a tough group with AS Roma and Bayern Munich.
But, aside from Toure’s free kick goal and some good chances denied by CSKA keeper Igor Akinfeev, they didn’t get a point. And Pellegrini is searching for answers.
“It is very difficult to understand how we played so bad from the beginning. We were so nervous, we gave away two bad goals – we didn’t play.
“It is difficult to know why. It was such a low performance from important players. It is a strange moment. It is not just this competition. In the last two weeks we are not playing.
“It is a crisis of confidence.”
The club City wants to be should handle a visiting CSKA Moscow side with relative ease, but it isn’t even about the result. City had no swagger and lost their heads when things didn’t go their way. When Sergio Aguero isn’t finishing his chances, you can be sure something is amiss. And Pellegrini and company will need to go through two major powers if they want to fix it in time for a run at the final.