Friday, 20 April 2018

Small write-up…


Apologies…AGAIN for a-not-usual pre-match write-up prior to our next game v Swansea. This time is ‘cause I’m preparing, with my wife, for a 500+ mile-round car journey to Surrey & back tomorrow to pick up a new rescue dog following the loss of our last one just over 2 months ago.


We’ve won the league!


It seems, in some ways, to have happened with a whimper, doesn’t it? I get that; it would have been nice to-have gone out with a 'blast' against Manyoo but it just didn’t happen. That also came in the middle of two, very humbling encounters with Liverpool in the Champions League, albeit with a brilliant 1st half performance in the second leg and lot of controversy against us with officials and issues off the pitch over the two legs.

Hello mum? We might win the league this weekend...
So how did we respond? With a very, very good & professional display at Spurs / Wembley...followed by ‘our neighbours’ helping us out by failing to score and lose to the Premier League’s bottom side, West Brom. Thanks for that!

It was odd though – I was listening to most of that game on my own in the garden and found myself simply - and quietly - raising my arms in the air as the final whistle of that game sounded. Job done.

And WHAT a job! Let’s not forget that this season we have played some BRILLIANT football and have show such desire & team spirit to be deserved champions. An understatement...

Sunday…


For reasons I’ve already explained, I’ve not even tuned into Pep’s pre-match press conference. Of course with news of his 'op' Aguero is out for the season and that leaves me with additional hope that not-only should we see the likes of Brahim Diaz & Phil Foden be-given some ‘game time’ for some of the remaining fixtures but also Lukas Nmecha, who I’ve not yet seen play but who I’ve heard some good stuff about. I’d like to see some other EDS players too…

I think we might see some of those against Swansea; perhaps away at West Ham too on the 29th of April. I think we’ll then see a full-strength team for the visit of Huddersfield, when the trophy is planned to be lifted (but hopefully, by then, I’ll be back ‘Blogging’ for that one and before-time).

Sorry again for the break in service and thanks, as always, for ‘tuning in’.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Blog announcement.

With a high-degree possibility that I will be heading off tomorrow morning for a much-needed, small weekend break there will be no pre-Spurs Blog-posting.


Sounds like we have 'a few out' for various reasons and after a bruising week, we'll do well to come away from Spurs with a point or more. But I am still optimistic after a full, 4-day break from last Tuesday's game and, so, I think we'll 'grab a draw' at least. 

 

Feckin' crazy KO time (7:45pm BST on a Saturday night) gives travelling City fans a headache if not staying 'down there' or travelling by road as, I've heard, the last train leaves at 9:36pm. And with word that there will be at least 23, top-flight team fixtures being at that time next season, I really am starting to get peed off with those who both make and accept these decisions (possibly more on that on my Blog after the season ends). 

 

I'm hoping to still watch the game whilst away and will be urging my team on wherever I end up watching it.

 

Sorry, again, for the break in service and to all Blues, look forward to lifting the Premier League trophy very soon!

 

Thanks, as always, for reading and I'll be back soon...

Sunday, 8 April 2018

They let the fans down…

The party was beginning at half time and although well-seasoned City fans would NEVER count a 2-0, half time lead as ‘a given’ – especially against the league’s 2nd-place team and in a derby – we were in control and should have put it out of sight before the break.


Missed opportunities…

 

D'oh!

2-0 up and cruising and then…”STERLING!” Miss…

2-0 up and cruising and then…”STERLING!” Miss…

2-0 up and cruising and then…Sterling has a longer-range effort / chance and hit it at the keeper.

2-0 up and cruising and then...Gundogan nips in for a well-timed run & headed chance but, once again, it’s straight at the keeper.

So, we get to half time and the talk in the concourse and at the bar was how the HELL weren’t we at least 4-0 up?! Other chatter was along the lines of very poor officiating but, I need to add, I thought they were very poor for both sides throughout the whole 95 minutes. There should have been sendings off for both sides, we should have had a penalty and there were even blatant throw-ins that were awarded to the wrong side! Very poor…

Even at 2-0 Gundogan was, once again, a threat and clipped the post early in the second half.

But…did anyone else noticed the ‘Matrix moment’ that turned the game? I can see it in my head right now as though I took a picture of it and as soon as it happened, I nervously murmured to my mate that it was very lax play and was leading to a Manyoo attack. Sure enough and in under 90 seconds….BANG! Goal number one for the visitors and we know the rest.

What was that moment? It was when the otherwise brilliant Fernandinho suddenly slowed right down / lost all urgency but also where he was lacking supporting options from his colleagues. We just seemed to almost…STOP! Of course, Manyoo saw this straight away, snatched the ball off us, which eventually lead to a throw-in on the Colin Bell-Stand-side after a run by Sanchez; leading to the visitor’s first goal.

Have that!
And to think, it looked like the ‘writing was on the wall’ for us when Vincent Kompany produced a carbon copy [from a previous derby-encounter], thunder-header to make it 1-0; despite being illegally grappled with as our Captain stamped his mark.

 

Worrying yet again


Why is it, lately at least, that we appear to be so easily rattled? Why is it also that, at times, we look like a team who thinks we can just stroll through games and that the opposition shouldn’t DARE make us rush our own game? And I say that after watching, throughout the whole season, such composed performances AND some very, very spirited ones from a squad of talented players who, overall, appear to be also highly motivated and very close-knit.

Anguish
But lately? Hufffff…we just seem to crumble whenever pressed or when we’re shocked by an opposition goal, which then appears to rock us back onto our heals (I’ve seen signs of the latter earlier on in the season too).

Okay, when we unbelievably went 2-3 down yesterday our boss made changes and the players stepped up, once again, and tried to 'right a wrong'. We hit the post, as I’ve said; David De Gea made a WONDERFUL save, we had another attempt scrambled off the line and, as I’ve already mentioned too, we should have had a nailed-on penalty (including a sending off in the same incident) late on in the game.

But, following last Wednesday’s fiasco away to Liverpool, to-then chuck that one away yesterday when we have so much quality on the pitch really makes it feel like the players, at least, let the fans down yesterday when history & records were within 50-minute’s touching distance.

Bloody hell! It was hugely disappointing but it's not THAT bad...

For a variety of reasons there won’t be a pre-Liverpool Blog-posting for Tuesday night’s game. I HOPE our players redeem themselves but should we get through, we’re gonna have to start showing a LOT more professionalism than they’ve displayed in the last 4 days.

Friday, 6 April 2018

What’s in your head, Mr Guardiola?

Lots of points to get through and, so, I’ll just ‘crack on’ and probably best to bullet-point what’s been in my head since Wednesday night / Thursday…


The 1st leg v Liverpool


·         “They’ve ‘done us’ again” was basically the message I conveyed in some texts to fellow Blues the evening of the 3-0 hammering at Anfield. Why is it, I continued, that when a team really…REALLY presses and hassles us our players lose their composure; our ‘zip’ disappears and our crisp passing ‘goes to pot’?


·         But also…why, when this happens, does Pep not see what’s happening and change something - something meaningful that could make a difference and stop the opposition from being so effective in closing us down in packs; (very) effectively stopping us playing our wonderful football? Don’t get me wrong, Pep’s ‘PLAN A’ is the most wonderful football to watch in the WORLD! And, I will admit, during a game that needs ‘tinkering with’, you can-indeed see the team push-up the back 4 and, in particular, the full-backs even FURTHER… and I have seen the intensity increase a lot when required; all of which has been prompted by ‘the boss’. But, if I am being honest, he doesn’t really have a ‘PLAN B’ as such if all isn’t well, as was the case away to Liverpool in the Premier League, at Wigan Athletic in the F.A Cup and again against the reds of Merseyside in the Champions League.

·         Pep’s philosophy is a wonderful thing - the most exciting, jaw-dropping and marvellous football to watch. But I have heard our manager being described by many as stubborn and, in some ways, even arrogant in his decision making and I am starting to see that in him a little and at times (but would gladly put up with that for many, many years to come, don’t get me wrong).

Saturday…and the return leg on Tuesday


·         So…IF Pep wants to ‘have a crack’ at clawing this one back on Tuesday night against Liverpool, what the HELL does he do tomorrow against the reds from Trafford?! Well…IF he wants to stand a chance of scoring at least 3 against Liverpool and conceding none then could I be so bold as to suggest that he then largely plays a ‘second string’ against our neighbours from the borough of Trafford; risking a draw or, worse, a defeat in a game where a victory would see us win the league against Jose Moaning’s men?

·         If he doesn’t think we’ve got a chance to progress in the Champions League now then, fair enough; perhaps he should largely go with the same personnel as in midweek, perhaps even strengthen that side who faced Liverpool and let the players’ frustrations from last Wednesday night be unleashed on Manyoo; wiping them off the park and securing the Premier League title in real style, which would also be one for the history books.

My thoughts on the latter?


Well, like many Blues I know for sure, if you’d have asked me my thoughts on this a long while back on attempting to win the Champions League against winning the Premier League or, indeed, a collective of domestic trophies, I wouldn’t have hesitated in telling you that our ‘bread & butter’ lies here at home; despite the prestige of it all and the attraction for top players the European competition brings with it.

However, we’ve superbly reached a stage already in our domestic league where, without wishing to sound arrogant for one minute, we’re going to win it this season regardless; whether that be against Manyoo, Spurs, Swansea, West Ham, Huddersfield, Brighton or Southampton.

So, who gives a **** about winning the league against the team from Trafford when the inevitable is gonna happen in the league and we have a sniff of turning the tie around in midweek.

Who gives a ****? Well I can only think those are either the City fans out there who don’t think we’ve got a snowball’s chance in hell of turning it around against Liverpool (and who could blame them) and / or those Blues who simply couldn’t stand the thought of us putting out a weakened side against ‘the enemy’.

So, I have changed my mind with regards to domestic silverware v Champions League at this stage and for THIS weekend and it’s for this reason alone.

-       Does anyone think that, as fit as Pep Guardiola has his players, the men who were run ragged just 3 days before this Manchester v Trafford derby won’t still be creaking a little?

-       Does anyone then think that, should our manager choose his strongest team on Saturday, that they’re then going to be fully energised for yet another brutal encounter just 3 days after that in the 2nd leg?

Well I don’t.

A quick word on the Police


1.    Shame on the Merseyside Police for not planning and preventing the horrendous scenes we witnessed prior to last Wednesday’s game (and shame on the 100s of public citizens who displayed such abhorrent behaviour). And I hate this phrase in general from pundits, “It was a minority”. For flip’s sake, 49% is a minority! Let’s have it right, 100s, perhaps even over 1,000 took part in that debacle and saying it was a “minority” makes it sound like not many took part.



2.    Shame on the Greater Manchester Police for allowing Saturday’s game to KO at 5:30pm…

v Manyoo



Unusually, for regular readers at least, I’m gonna start off with what ‘my 11’ would be, going off what I’ve already said / my thoughts are on this one before we face Liverpool again.

4-1-4-1 / 4-5-1:


___________________Nmecha___________________






Diaz___________________________________B. Silva

____________Foden__________Toure____________


____________________Delph____________________



Zinchenko_______________________________Danilo
____________Laporte________Stones_____________




___________________Ederson____________________



Disclaimer: This line-up has been written before Pep's pre-match press conference, which will include fit & available players etc.

Rested:

-       Any unused subs, of course…
-       Kompany
-       Otamendi
-       Gundogan
-       Sane
-       D. Silva
-       Sterling

…all being given a full 6 days off to recovery, freshen up and prepare for Tuesday night.

I know some might say it could be a traumatic experience putting so many young kids in the starting line-up of a derby where any CHANCE of a victory would secure the Premier League title…then again others might say there’s the ‘no fear factor’ you often get from youngsters and that it could be the best experience of their lives!

For me…it’s simply a side to rest our better players ready for Tuesday, simple as that.

Okay, now for the…


…more-usual predicted line-up, subs and outcome:
(Number correct from starting line-up in the last game: 10/11).


Fluid 4-5-1 / 4-3-3:


____________________Jesus____________________







Sane___________________________________Sterling


_________De Bruyne __________B. Silva___________

____________________Delph_____________________


Danilo___________________________________Walker

_____________Laporte________Stones_____________




____________________Ederson___________________

Subs: Bravo, Zinchenko, Kompany, Fernandinho, Gundogan, D. Silva, Aguero.

With Pep Guardiola giving very little away in his pre-match press conference about the fitness & availability of players pending a 3:00pm training session this afternoon, along with consultations with both doctors & fitness coaches; it makes it even more difficult to predict what he will do in this potentially, title-winning game / derby against our visitors from Trafford.

BUT…here goes.

With no exhaustion issues for him; it’s a league game and, so, our Brazilian ‘stopper’ is ‘between the sticks’.

I think we’ll see Danilo on his less-favored, left-sided wing-back role and is likely to be joined by Aymeric, in his MORE-favored central position alongside John and ‘go again’-Kyle on the right.

I’m guessing that Fabian might give some rest-relief to Fernandinho ahead of Tuesday night in a defensive midfield position and slightly ahead of him is ‘going again’ Leroy & Kevin with starts for Bernardo & Raheem.

Gabriel likely to ‘get the nod’ again up front.

Claudio the insurance with the gloves; Oleksandr & Vinny (the latter for a possible appearance, league-winning celebration outing) the defensive replacement options. Further changes from the side in midfield to come in the form of Fernandinho, Ilkay & David, with a possible bench spot for Sergio.

So…a mixed bag of ‘first choicers’ & ‘Second stringers’ really.

Notable absences:

-       Benjamin Mendy: Still on his way back to fitness and waiting, I’m sure, to make an appearance or two some time in April & May.
-       Nicholas Otamendi: Rested in preparation for Tuesday.
-       Yaya Toure (not selected).

Do I agree with Pep’s (predicted) line-up?


No, I’d rest Walker, De Bruyne, Sane, Sterling & Jesus at least. Ederson makes more sense…

Result? If he goes with this ‘mixed 11’, as I see it, I think it’ll be a draw.

Last season’s, corresponding pre-match prediction and result…
Prediction: Draw
Result: Draw