City player ratings: England v Montenegro

Hart – Nothing to do for most of the match, then unable to do anything as the ball flew over him and cracked against the bar. Consequently he’ll be relived to have the clean sheet. 6

Lescott – Montenegro didn’t attack in great numbers but Joleon had to be on his guard as England players pushed forward and left Ferdinand and himself two against two. Coped admirably, looking solid and not in the slightest bit rusty despite his lack of match time at centre-back. Mancini should be encouraged. 7

Barry – Too many loose passes cost possession and added to the frustration. Positionally Gareth was sound, keeping the opposition from building attacks and getting forward on occasion. Nearly won it in the last minute, but a weak shot on his “wrong” foot was in keeping with a disappointing performance. Needs to be sharper or rested on Sunday. 5

Johnson – In the opening period Adam’s trickery on the flank looked to be England’s best weapon. Unfortunately the end product wasn’t good enough and as the game wore he drifted out of the game for periods. Montenegro were quick to double up on him and ultimately it proved enough. 6

Wright-Phillips – Showed some good touches and looked to carry the game to the opposition. Some trademark loose touches cost possession which, sadly, was in keeping with the overall England performance. At least he looked eager and Mancini should pencil him in for next week’s Europa League game. 6

Special mention: Rio Ferdinand’s sliding tackle.

You may not remember it, but if Nigel de Jong does the same on Sunday you’ll certainly hear about it.

After eight minutes Adam Johnson lost possession. Glen Johnson’s attempted clearance rebounded for an opposing player to run at the England defence. Ferdinand launched himself into the tackle, two footed, and won the ball. He also took out the player, who needed treatment but was able to carry on.

As with de Jong’s tackle on Ben Arfa, the referee took no action. To the naked eye de Jong’s challenge looked no more reckless than that by Ferdinand, arguably less so as Rio’s challenge was two footed.

The media reaction to this challenge? Not a peep. Andy Townsend described it as a tackle which had to be made, and in fairness he was one of the few to defend de Jong’s tackle on Ben Arfa.

If the Montenegran had ended up with a broken leg, presumably there would have been more coverage, and here lies the issue. Everyone, including the media, asks for consistency in refereeing. Should this consistency also be applied to reporting?

The challenge on Ben Arfa became an “issue” once he was stretchered off and it was discovered his leg was broke. The media can then pass judgement, castigating de Jong.

The referee is in no position to await medical assessment before deciding whether to card the tackler. He has to decide based on what he sees – and in both cases the tackles appeared similar in terms of recklessness.

Following de Jong’s tackle Henry Winter tweeted:

@brucemillington Agreed. #MCFC De Jong was brilliant v #Chelsea as he stayed on his feet. He was reckless with speed/angle v #NUFC Ben Arfa

LMA statement on tackling: “game more & more about pressing ball, not being lured into early challenges & above all, staying on your feet’

Later in his England match report there was no mention of Ferdinand’s tackle. Consistency?

Incidentally, I don’t have anything against Ferdinand. The England game was the first I’ve seen since City played Newcastle and his was the first sliding tackle to catch an opponent.

There will doubtless be many others this weekend. All sliding tackles require momentum, which is sufficient to injure whether the ball is won or not. Therefore to be consistent in banning de Jong’s tackling surely requires a rule change to ban sliding tackles altogether.

Lescott favourite to partner Rio for England
Preview: Blackpool v Manchester City

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