Sunday, 22 December 2013

Annoying wasp!

The weather forecast for the Etihad Stadium on Boxing Day at around 5:30pm is a rather chilli 2C (35.6F). But despite the cold we need to somehow find an annoying wasp against Liverpool and that wasp should come in the form of Fernandinhoor perhaps even James Milner.

The ‘Suarez factor’

With our defence, at best, creaking and now downright beginning to crack with the added nuisance of a makeshift right-back situation; even on home soil the prospect of facing 'one Luis Suarez' should be of real concern. It’s bad enough that we don’t have our very own South American forward to help us with another, ‘You score 3 and we’ll score 4 or more’ scenario!

So, in my humble opinion, we need an old-fashioned man-marking job done on the Uruguayan and the perfect fit would be Fernandinho. James Milner is more than capable of that role too but, by his own recent admittance (and it’s quite obvious to see); Mr versatile is probably best in an attacking-support role. Additionally, choosing Fernandinho to latch onto the on-fire Liverpool man not only means that the Brazilian would be functioning in his own, quite-natural role of sitting deep and “protecting” but also it allows us to keep in tact the structure of our very own, fiery attacking formula.

Of course Liverpool have other dangerous players and not only would Yaya have to put in an energetic shift but so too will the likes of Silva, Nasri and, if used, Navas; who would have to keep half-an-eye on some of Liverpool’s midfielders before going on their own attacking endeavours – I’m thinking Continuo, Henderson and Stirling here. Fortunately for us both Gerrard & Sturridge will be missing for this vital clash, which just goes to show what a threat the rest of them must be for the current league leaders (as I type this)!

So, tell the rest of our midfielders to ‘dig in’ and work hard like a team have never worked before and give Fernandinho one mission and one mission only – SMOTHER SUAREZ!

I also wouldn’t play Dzeko and, therefore, wouldn’t play with 2 strikers against Liverpool. What, not even at home? No, I wouldn’t. If we WERE to (very sensibly) use Fernandinho as a man-marker then we’d need the rest of our team to be workmanlike, fluid and pacy in the counter attack…and you just cannot associate those words with the Bosnia & Herzegovinian striker. Having such a pacy, marauding attacking midfield behind the dangerous Negredo would put them on the back foot too; effectively cutting off the supply to Suarez.

But I also won’t hide my other reasoning for not wanting to start with Dzeko on Thursday evening. His 2 goals against a lower-league team in the League Cup aside; I looked at the highlights against Fulham and I saw a player who mostly slaps half-heated, weak shots at goal and fails miserably to spot colleagues in better positions. In general, HE JUST LOOKS SO FLIPPIN’ LACKLUSTRE AND DEVOID OF BALL CONTROL MOST OF THE TIME!

I hope Pellegrini gets a cattle prod for Christmas and uses it wisely…

So, I’m gonna assume our ‘Engineer’ at the helm can see all of these very wise words of mine (no praise like self praise hey?) and will go with something like this against the Scousers:


Formation: 4-1-4-1.











After chucking considerable praise his way in recent weeks, I'm starting to see a few failings in Martin Demichelis and, putting it bluntly, if Fernandinho loses Suarez for a moment and the Liverpool hit man then decides to head down the Argentinean defender’s throat he’ll tear him to pieces! So I’m hoping Pellegrini will go for Lescott alongside our Captain here. Although not blessed with great pace himself; Joleon is surely the better option for this one.

And yes, although I’ve just gone on about the virtues of using Milner in a more attacking role; he too has SURELY got to be a better, more solid option than using Clichy out of position or the poor defensive qualities of Kolarov. James’ pace, energy and endeavour would surely assist far better in snuffing out the Suarez threat.

Result? At home…played in the right way…and with the whole team defending as a unit and attacking as a unit, this is a home win. Pick the wrong tactics - or if they eat too much turkey & pudding on Christmas Day - and we could end up dropping 2…or dare I say even 3 home points! This one is on a goose-carving knife edge.

It’s good to be back…blogging that is.

I’ll definitely miss the warm weather and relaxed atmosphere of my recent week in Tenerife and I haven’t missed the cold, grey weather of England. But I have missed ‘banging out’ my thoughts on my Blog.

It’s good to be back Blues!

Another period away from footy (hopefully my last this season); another home game missed and a whopping 19 goals while I was away! 6-3, 3-1 and 4-2!

When will it end?! Hopefully never of course… J

There really is a strong case for me staying away isn’t there? Not that I believe in such things. I have to remind myself that I was there for the 10-1 against Huddersfield Town, the 6-2 against Plymouth Argyle just 3 days later, the 5-1 against Manyoo, a whole collection of other 4 & 5-0’ers down the years (and watched the more recent Cold Trafford maulings of course). If you’re there at the game, you’re there and if you’re not, then tough luck.

I couldn’t find the Arsenal result until about 5:15pm, after watching the live, 2nd half of Chelsea v Crystal Palace on Al Jazeera in an Irish Bar. The slimy pairing of Richard Keys and Andy Gray were presenting and the hairy one informed me that there had been a 9 goal thriller at the Etihad! I momentarily gulped down some air and braced myself. Thankfully Richard soon put some details on that; informing us all that we’d scored 6 of those 9. “Phew” and then…”YES!” was my immediate reaction…and all of a sudden the warm sun seemed to shine even brighter.

I then managed to find (another Irish) bar that was advertising the…’possibility’ of showing the Leicester City game. On the night itself, huge relief swept over the face of one of the bar staff (and City fan), Rob from Gorton (Hi Rob), as my wife & I walked in to the then-empty pub wearing City shirts.

He explained that, if we asked [the Manager] for the City game to be shown then there was a better chance of them NOT showing the Sunderland v Chelsea game. Not long after we arrived 4 more Blues turned up followed by a couple of Mackems. Then another Blue follow by a couple more Sunderland fans - we were winning 7-4…and 2 of us had colours on [against their none]!

The atmosphere grew slightly apprehensive as we sat in front of the turned-off TVs and then the ‘switch on’ moment came…and the Sunderland match popped up! However, I think I was the only one who could see Rob grappling with the remote behind the bar and sure enough - in under 10 seconds - up popped the Leicester City game! Result.

The Sunderland fans were aghast and upon enquiring as to what was happening (what…couldn’t they see our shirts at the next table?), they were ushered to the opposite side of their adjoining bar to watch their beloved team eventually beat Chelsea.

Whether it was simply a ‘numbers game’ or whether Rob had any influence I don’t know. But I’ll still say, “Thanks Rob!”

Good game; a few shaky moments perhaps but I was proud of how we seemed to grow in strength and confidence as the game progressed. As I’ve said, Dzeko looked a different player that night but then again perhaps the Championship team didn’t close down as quickly as Premier League Fulham did 4 days later.

He continues to frustrate with wildly inconsistent performances.

Just like with Arsenal; I was in the air for the Fulham game and it wasn’t until the seat-belt-signs were turned off at 7:00pm - when we came to a standstill at Manchester Airport – when the passengers (my wife included) started to turn on their various electronic devices. A man from Yorkshire just behind us kindly rattled off the results (not scorelines) and all I needed to know was that we’d won again! The sun, sadly, had no opportunity to shine brighter on this occasion as the result sank into my senses. My wife soon put detail on the outcome by discovering and relaying the scoreline and scorers.

Good result, especially with another makeshift defence. Let’s hope Nastasic, Zabaleta and Richards all recover very, very soon. Another defensive buy in January? Well you probably know my (very strong) thoughts on our left-back situation but there might well be a good case for another one somewhere along the back.

We’re undefeated in 9 games over 3 competitions since that frustrating, should-have-won game at the Stadium of Light way back in mid-November; our only defeat in 13 games! That’s wonderful form but, as with all top teams needing to ‘press on’ for ultimate glory; another very tough and very vital game lays immediately ahead. A win would be FANTASTIC; a draw and a high-scoring win over Crystal Palace would pretty good also.

I’m sorry folks, though; I’ll be going to these 2 games and so let’s hope my theory about superstitions is correct

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