Neil Humphreys: City get the draw they need
Pellegrini's plodders end dull season with another dull show
(Andre Ayew 45+1)
MAN CITY 1
(Kelechi Iheanacho 5)
A draw was needed and a draw was delivered.
Trust Manchester City to achieve the bare minimum and nothing more.
Manuel Pellegrini's muddled squad of mediocrities scarcely deserved their place in the top four and scarcely did enough to get there.
The Chilean manager came in with a whimper and left with a whimper. City's owners never got a bang for their buck, or the hundreds of millions of dollars lavished on the likes of Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala.
If either centre back retains his position next season, or any one in City's back four last night, then Pep Guardiola won't be meeting his job requirements.
The 1-1 draw at Swansea last night was everything one might expect from a City side that too often performed beneath their pay grade.
Pellegrini called his time at City a success. The club's owners and supporters and particularly the accountants might disagree.
Pellegrini's purchases rarely offered a return on their investment. The books were never balanced. Nor was the teamsheet.
Once again, Raheem Sterling picked up splinters on the bench, as his transformation continues from £50-million ($99m) future saviour of English football to second-class citizen at City.
Pellegrini behaved impeccably throughout his tenure, but so many of his signings failed to justify their price-tag; so many points were frittered away against inferior opposition.
The Chilean picked an unchanged side to take on Swansea's second stringers and yet City never overwhelmed their opponents.
In the end, the contest neatly captured the key components of City's season; a few, flickering moments of attacking endeavour in an otherwise boring game that has already been forgotten.
As news filtered through that the Manchester United game had been abandoned, the early exchanges were subdued.
Even City's goal had a clumsy, anti-climatic feel to it.
Kevin de Bruyne swung a low shot across the six-yard box, which was palmed out by goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt, but tapped back in by Kelechi Iheanacho on six minutes.
Swansea's defenders surrounded referee Mike Dean, insisting that Iheanacho was in an offside position. Replays proved he wasn't.
The flapping Swans threatened to burst blood vessels a couple of minutes later, when Jefferson Montero bundled the ball over the line. The referee ruled that Montero had pushed Bacary Sagna and disallowed the goal.
City were lucky. Sagna folded like an impulsive poker player with a poor hand. He lost his footing and gravity did the rest.
City's early escape was only the latest in their seasonal comedy of errors at the back, featuring clownish defenders and too many crocked campaigners.
The game had a real end-of-term feel, low on both athleticism and atmosphere. Swansea had already secured their Premier League status and City were just being City, the erratic bumpkin billionaires who are so often handicapped for having more money than sense.
And then, as players and spectators alike contemplated a welcome reprieve from the tedium, Swansea equalised on the stroke of half-time.
In keeping with the occasion, the goal was an unexpected, farcical fluke.
Andre Ayew under-hit his free-kick, curling the ball towards City's wall. But Fernando craned his head like a starving turtle snapping at anchovies to deflect Ayew's effort into the opposite corner.
As deft headers go, the finish was immaculate. As a defensive clearance, however, Fernando displayed the subtlety and timing of a sledgehammer smashing a clock.
Swansea had earned the free-kick after Otamendi had picked up his customary yellow card for clattering into Leon Britton.
A busy summer awaits Guardiola, but his first port of call must be City's defence. The team's imbalance contributed to their inconsistency.
They outscored every one else in the top five, but they also conceded the most.
De Bruyne's tireless running left him almost as red-faced as Pellegrini, who spent three years making City's back four weaker than the one he inherited.
De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero and Iheanacho made for a dashing trio and City dominated possession. But the visitors somehow went in at half-time on level terms against a side that failed to register a single shot on target from open play.
Swansea sat back in the second half, with one eye on de Bruyne and the other on the sun-loungers at their post-season holiday resort.
City controlled the contest, but not the scoreline. Besides, a draw was enough.
Pellegrini had collected his point, but didn't really prove one.
It was a dreary end to a dreary campaign.
Next season, City's performances must be full of Pep.
Guardiola planning raid on North London
Incoming Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is eyeing players from North London clubs Arsenal and Tottenham.
Gunners midfielder Jack WIlshere is reportedly Guardiola's top target, with the Spaniard keen to build his team around the 24-year-old.
Alexis Sanchez is the other Gunner on Guardiola's radar. The Chilean star is stalling over a new contract with Arsenal and could be tempted by a move to the Etihad.
It is also understood that Guardiola wants Tottenham left back Danny Rose to replace Aleksandar Kolarov, with a view to boosting the Citizens' homegrown contingent. - Wire Services.