[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Manchester City's $1 billion-plus investment in players doesn't mean they come nerve-free. City suffered from a case of the jitters and had to settle for a 1-1 tie with Napoli in its UEFA Champions League debut. For what we learned Wednesday about City's shaky start, the goalkeeping situation at Man United and new Inter Milan coach Gianpiero Gasperini's big troubles ...
Man City isn't ready for prime time. Manchester City's $1 billion-plus investment in players doesn't mean they come nerve-free. City's UEFA Champions League debut was marred by a case of the jitters and it had to settle for a 1-1 tie at home with Napoli, giving away what its manager, Roberto Mancini, said was a "stupid goal" and immediately putting itself in trouble in what is the most balanced Champions League group.
"We can do a lot better in the next game," he said of the match at Bayern Munich on Sept. 27. "We will do better because it is the second game and we will not be so nervous. This game, we were so nervous -- all the players. It surprised me. Maybe it was simply desire, or the pressure to play well, but they need to understand how important it is to play simply and that putting seven or eight players forward doesn't work."
The "stupid goal" Mancini was referring to was scored by Uruguayan Edinson Cavani after Gareth Barry gave the ball away with a backheel. Mancini won't be immune to criticism, saying at the post-game press conference he had not yet heard from his father. "Not yet," the manager said. "But he will criticize me tonight."
De Gea isn't automatic No. 1 in United goal. Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson admitted he wanted to avoid playing his youngsters for the Champions League opener at Benfica. But few imagined that would mean dropping summer signing David de Gea and replacing the 20-year-old Spaniard in goal with Anders Lindegaard.
But that's what Ferguson did, and Lindegaard's strong effort in the 1-1 tie immediately raised speculation that de Gea would be dropped from the starting lineup for Sunday's key EPL game against Chelsea. "Not at all," said a testy Ferguson. "David de Gea will play on Sunday. That's the understanding we had before the game and it doesn't change. I don't know why you ask these questions. You are just looking for stupid little things."
Ferguson acknowledged de Gea and Lindegaard might share the goalkeeping duties, however. "There are opportunities to spread that load because coming over to the English game, it's such a competitive intense league for a young goalkeeper," the United manager said. "There will come a time when I need to give him a break. This was a good moment because he had a fantastic game on Saturday, so this was a nice time to give him a break."
Graziani won't be around long at Inter. Gianpiero Gasperini is Inter Milan's fourth coach in the last 15 months, but don't bet against there soon being a fifth. The start to his tenure could not have been worse.
When the Nerazzurri lost their Serie A opener at Palermo, 4-3, the problem was the defense. Under apparent pressure from Inter president Massimo Moratti, Gasperini scrapped his new three-man backline for the Champions League opener at home against Trabzonspor. This time, the problem was the attack as Inter slumped to a shock 1-0 loss to the Turkish club, a last-minute replacement for league champion Fenerbahce, kicked out after being implicated in a match-rigging scandal.
Gasperini had no apparent answer for the lack of goals, but he wanted to make it clear that he was the one who ordered the defensive realignment. "No one pushed me to pick one formation or another," he said. 'That's a total invention. All I did was try to correct the mistakes."
Manchester City 1 Napoli 1
Scorers: Aleksandar Kolarov 74; Edinson Cavani 69
Villarreal 0 Bayern Munich 2
Scorers: Toni Kroos 7, Rafinha 76
Lille 2 CSKA Moscow 2
Scorers: Moussa Sow 45, Benoit Pedretti 57; Seydou Doumbia 72, 90
Inter Milan 0 Trabzonspor 1
Scorer: Ondrej Celustka 76
Basel 2 Otelul Galati 1
Scorers: Fabian Frei 39, Alexander Frei (pen.) 84; Marius Pena 58
Benfica 1 Manchester United 1
Scorers: Oscar Cardozo 24; Ryan Giggs 42
Dinamo Zagreb 0 Real Madrid 1
Scorer: Angel Di Maria 53
Ajax 0 Lyon 0