Monday, 29 September 2014


Through to the last 16 of the League Cup and 3 points on Saturday to take us to 3rd in the Premier League. Let’s hope we can make it a ‘perfect week’ with 3 points in our first Champions League home game.

Romans come to town

Not a nice lot, by all accounts, are fans of Roma – not tarring all of them with the same brush of course; ‘they have a history’.

My own recollections are that they were involved in stabbing several Liverpool fans outside their own ground a while back; I had a Manyoo fan telling me only yesterday how their fans too were treated badly by both Roma fans and the Italian Police.

In a candid interview published by the M.E.N. yesterday, Aleks Kolarov also heavily suggested that City players and fans alike were likely to receive a hot reception in our return trip to Italy in December. In the same interview Aleks was refreshingly honest when suggesting that our home fans who, whilst can be decent at times, were way too quiet in general. It’s a time-worn debate that will surface again and again but I agree with him.

Down to the footy then

Bit of a brief one really…

Firstly, I’ve recently read, Roma could be without as many as seven key players ahead of this evening’s clash. However, don’t be fooled by this. At least 2 of them are long-term injuries; players who haven’t yet featured this season and who won’t be back for another month or so.

As for the other 5; I’m not sure how recent their injuries have been and how much, therefore, they have and have not featured in their excellent start to their domestic season. Not being an Italian club expert, a quick look at their results and the second-placed team in Serie A (on goal difference) have played and beaten Fiorentina, Empoli, Cagliari, Parma and Verona. Apart from Fiorentina most of those don’t sound like ‘top’ Italian teams; Parma sit 18th with 1 win and 4 defeats.

In fairness Roma did also wallop CSKA Moscow 5-1 in the last round but, then again, I don’t know the Russian’s strength-levels…and we beat them by a similar 5-2 home score last November.

So, potentially (and another) really tough one tonight. Regardless of their opposition being strong or other wise they have played 6 (in all competitions), won 6, scored 14 and conceded just 2.

They clearly pose a threat and, so, despite being at home I think I’d be tempted to go for a strong midfield that can both defend and attack with pace if needed. My team would be this…











However, I doubt our ‘Engineer’ will want to go with one striker at home in a competition that he’ll want to grab by the scruff of the neck from the very start; and with Dzeko’s two moral-boosting goals on Saturday he’ll be hoping that our ‘hot & cold’ man will take heart from those strikes against Hull City.

Predicted line-up v Roma:











Similar [to mine], slightly narrower ‘3 across the middle’ in between Fernandinho and the strikers. Solid enough, threatening enough. Kolarov & Sagna to provide occasional supporting ‘bursts’ from the back.

One to watch

Number 18 – Mattia Destro. I personally want to watch him as the ‘rumour machine’ fairly recently suggested that we were ‘keeping an eye’ on the young Italian international striker. Very hot property by all accounts; 21 goals in 45 appearances and a corker of a goal at the weekend.

Result? The players and manager seem really up for this competition; they’re under a bit of pressure to get a result and so I can see it being both a nervy & energetic start and I’m sure they’ll take the injustice and disappointing late Bayern defeat and use that as motivation. A narrow home victory.

Personal note

Having not signed up to the League Cup and & F.A. Cup schemes this season I am attending this competition. As a Manchester City fans who has been going for 29+ years – for the most of that time not involved in European competitions – I still don’t get the same ‘buzz’ as I do just before a Premier League game.

I’m looking forward to it of course and I’m sure once I see the floodlights and hear the Roma fans, undoubtedly, bouncing their way through several pre-match songs; the hairs on the back of my neck will wake up…

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Topsy-turvy, sloppy…but good game (and win)

Thankfully without a repeat of last season’s sending off; that game had almost everything! Blistering start, 6 goals in total, a comeback, a penalty, rattling ‘woodwork’ and an exciting finish with yet ANOTHER Frank Lampard goal!

Six days and three VERY different performances!

Let’s get the obvious out of the way because, no doubt, the sniping critics will have their say soon enough (they probably have done already). After a prolonged transfer saga and then after being eased into Manchester City life ever so slowly to, our manager tells us, get used to the way we play (makes sense); Eliaquim has then had a frantic an explosive three games in just six days!

And what a contrasting three games there were! An exceptional debut against Chelsea saw him, along with his ever-impressive partner Vinny, shut Jose’s men out for the most part in a 9/10 performance. Soon to follow was a considerably easier fixture against Sheffield Wednesday, where a solid 7/10 Mangala almost added a goal to his fledgling City career.

Then there was yesterday – a 5/10 nightmarish performance that saw an own goal and a penalty give-away / yellow card; all of which left him ‘out of sorts’ for most of the rest of the game. I’m glad he wasn’t taken off though; worse thing that could have happened for his confidence. Well done Manuel for that.

So 9/10, 7/10 & 5/10 - I make that an average 7/10. Not bad for a new guy playing his first ever football in our country.

A game to forget for the powerhouse defender? Not a bit of it - he’ll learn from that one and will be even stronger and better for it I’m sure.

As for the rest…

Willy didn’t do anything wrong and I doubt Joe would have made a difference. 6/10

Defensively I thought even Pablo looked a little ropey yesterday and his passing wasn’t great either. However, he more than made up for it with some supportive play and even from a slightly below par game he managed 2 assists! 7/10

Vinny had to be on his metal to make up for Eliaquim’s off day…and he was. 8.5/10 (MotM)

Gael had a bit of a torrid time, particularly in the first half. Decent second half though. 6/10

I thought Fernandinho’s gradual season-improvement halted somewhat yesterday. He didn’t impose himself anywhere near as much as we’d like from our defensive midfielder and the game seem to pass him by for the most part. 5.5/10

Did Fernandinho’s performance hinder Yaya a little? I think it did to some degree. Not a terrible performance form the Ivorian all things considered…and he did almost score a screamer. 7/10

James seemed to sum up the performance of the team as a whole yesterday – he looked slightly out of sorts for large periods and his passing just wasn’t coming off for the majority of the time. Effort was there as always though. 6/10

What would we do without David? Struggle, that’s what. He just keeps us ticking over even when the teams looks a little flaky. 8/10

Sergio keeps ticking along too. Exploded into the game and then always looked a threat…without threatening too much by his standards. 7.5/10

Good grief I’m getting bored of saying the same thing about E. Nigma (E. Dzeko if you had to ask). Edin should get a 8 and, perhaps, even 8.5/10 for a very good goal and an exceptional one. So, both for and from me, his 6.5/10 says all about his contribution otherwise. Muscled off the ball far too easily, couldn’t ‘trap’ (again!), far too slow in general…and where WAS that work rate we saw against Chelsea? More than decent at times but GOD is he frustrating…

And on that, it's interesting for me to see Edin's celebrations at times. More often than not they don't appear to be joyous occasions for the striker but rather they often seem packed full of 'frustrated release' for the player himself. It's almost as though he's annoyed with himself for his mixed-bag performances...

Jesus seemed to give us some impetus back and helped in the build up to Edin’s second. Continuing his good form with a 7/10.

Frank just keeps doing what he does best. He just ‘gets in those areas’ doesn’t he? 7/10

I was looking to Martin to settle us down and help see the game off in midfield. He didn’t. 5/10

Other points of note

  1. I have to admit to having a little scratch of my head when Manuel reshuffled his pack the way he did when taking Fernandinho off. Yaya moved to sit deep at the base of the ‘midfield diamond’ seemed like a strange one, particularly when we had James on the pitch. However…cometh ‘The Engineer’; the man who should take huge praise for yesterday’s turnaround and eventual 4-2 win. Well done that (charming) man!
  2. The left side of defence still rankles with me somewhat. I don’t dislike Gael but he does seem to have more average days than I would like at this level of football…and I think he’s a better defender that Aleks. If ONLY we could have found a Bacary for that side in the summer. Huhhhh…
  3. Tom Huddlestone should have had two yellows ‘in my humble’ – he didn’t even get one!
Good result at a ground that can be tricky; 3rd in the league (at time of publication). Get Fernando and Stevan back (rumoured to be ready for Villa on Saturday – 5:30pm KO BST) and we should be flying!

Roma in the Champions League next (Tuesday 7:45pm KO BST).

Friday, 26 September 2014

Same again please…without the sending off.

It wasn’t necessarily seen as a pivotal game beforehand – certainly a very important one for 3 points and absolutely a ‘tricky fixture’ – but last season’s trip to Hull turned out to be a very much stand-out game.



We’d just been dumped out of the Champions League and F.A. Cup and as our Captain trudged off after just 10 minutes following a straight, ‘last man’ red – kicking the wall in frustration as he departed – there was more than just a sense of the old, imploding City about us.
Not long after Vinny left the field for a VERY early shower and our manager had shuffled his pack, I recall sending a “Oh heck” (or perhaps stronger) text to fellow Blues; as the centre-back-pairing was (the admittedly, by then, much improved) Demichelis and the flaky Javi Garcia. Yikes! I thought…
But we MORE than rose to the challenge of playing an away Premier League game with 10 men for 80+ minutes; a tremendous effort that saw us on the front foot for large parts of the game. Silva’s display in general - and goal – was terrific; he was in typical ‘maestro mode’ but with ‘bells on’ that day.
It ended 0-2 to us and, just before the end, there was even more controversy, as Hart came forehead to forehead with George Boyd who clearly and disgracefully spat at our keeper, which we all saw time and time again in replays of the incident.


2014/2015 sees a Hull City side who are similar to last season in that they provide solid and tough opposition on their own patch. But they have also added class to their side. Without doing TOO much Hull City research (and so I may forget to mention a key figure or two) they’ve added class to their defence in the shape of ex-Tottenham Michael Dawson.
And in addition to ‘hot & cold’ Nikica Jelavic (who is fairly hot at the moment with 3 goals in 5 in the Prem), they have brought in Abel Hernandez; a Uruguayan striker who was ‘1 in 3’ for his last club, Palermo, and who is ‘1 in 3’ for his national side. Abel has been waiting for visa clearance recent and so is only just getting his match fitness up to scratch. Still, both he & Hull will provide (another) stern test for us today I’m sure.
But we’re almost at full strength going into this one…and I say that knowing that we have players out injured who would almost certainly make the starting 11 of 90% (or there abouts) of Premier League teams.
Fernando & Jovetic, we are told, should be back in contention in about a week (Aston Villa then?) but Nasri, it would appear, is out for about a month following some surgery on a groin issue (perhaps West Ham away or Newcastle United in the League Cup). That might explain his fairly quiet start to the season…
But we’ve had some key players rested this week in the form of Hart, Zabaleta, Clichy, Kompany, Silva and Aguero and so we should be firing today; particularly after a confidence-boosting 7-0 rout of Sheffield Wednesdaythere’s nothing like banging in goals to give you a boost!
So…prediction time.
KC Stadium
v Hull City

The press picked up, in midweek, on the fact that Pellegrini suggested that he might give Willy a couple of games ‘on the bounce’. So perhaps I’m wrong from the very beginning in selecting Joe in the starting 11 here. But I’ve gone for Manuel picking the England man…and I would agree (with no disrespect to the Argentinean intended).
I can’t imagine Pellegrini picking a different back 4 than that and, for me, that’s the strongest we could possibly field. With the two rested fullbacks and the Mangala / Kompany combo it’s almost mouth watering in fact!
This could well be another game for the ever (and increasingly) impressive James (HAHM-ez) Milner…but I’ve gone for our Engineer to pick Fernandinho to Partner Yaya in the middle today.
Yaya has been putting in some shifts recently (he's needed to though in order to recapture last season's form) and with Roma just 3 days after this one, there's a good argument to drop / rest him today. But with limited options (I could pose a few but I won’t) I think Pellegrini will look to the Ivorian to help put City out of site by 60-odd minutes and then withdraw him as early as possible.
With Nasri out and with Navas in such fine form (and like Milner he could player all season with his ‘engine’) we might see David out on the left today. But it’ll be a fluid one for sure and in suggesting more of a 4-4-1-1 rather than a 4-4-2, I’m sure we’ll see both Silva and Aguero floating around and causing all sorts of havoc behind the often-less-mobile Dzeko. I’ve gone for him playing Edin again following his fine headed, moral-boosting goal on Wednesday…against Wednesday.
The first defensive 4 on the bench almost pick themselves…and to be honest so do the next 3. Notably, however, is the lack of an out & out striker and so if this is of a concern to our manager (I doubt it) then perhaps he’ll give another bench spot to Pozo (again I doubt it).
Result? Very confident of an away win today.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The defence begins here!

Okay…so having won this one and with ‘progress in the Champions League’ high on our owner’s agenda perhaps we might not exactly plough too much effort into this competition this time round. I can sort of understand that but for me that would be a shame really.

So a few things to think about:

1.    Are we ‘there yet’ as a club that we can dismiss this cup?

2.    Is it not disrespectful to a long-standing English competition?

3.    Have we not seen so-called ‘top sides’ rue their missed opportunity to add this one to their shelves; when concentrating their efforts elsewhere eventually fails to yield any trophies?

4.    Does it not give ‘fringe’ and EDS players a real taste of action and possible success?

5.    Do the players and Management Team not have an obligation to the ‘paying fan’ (no matter how “cheap” the early round ticket might appear to be)?

6.    Is it really in Pellegrini’s nature not to want to win every single game and competition?

Well I’m not going…

Just hang on a second! I’m not contradicting myself here - I simple had to make a financial decision back in May / June to drop out of the both the League and F.A.Cup schemes; ‘buying into’ just the Champions League this time round.

As I ‘prep’ this Blog posting on Tuesday afternoon, I’m already getting itchy feet and that hollow stomach feeling that I won’t be there tomorrow evening. I’d love to see various combinations of new players being tried out but with, as I’ve alluded to, enough about the team to see off the Yorkshire side in one, 90-minute effort.

I’d hate, I continue, to miss out on seeing an EDS player’s debut and one, perhaps, where they have a blinder of a game. I’m going to try to find a way of viewing the game somehow…

So, with the almost impossible task of trying to predict a League Cup starting 11 and subs bench for a League Cup 3rd round game just 3 days after a ‘tough one’ against Chelsea and before a 3:00pm (BST) KO away game in the Premier League just 3 days later; here goes…











* Rumours are growing that Samir Nasri has picked up a groin injury...

I could be COMPLETELY wrong here…and that’s what makes it sort of fun.

Right then…

The ‘no brainer’ is, of course, Willy in for Joe.

Similarly Clichy got a rest, as did Sagna, against Chelsea and so Gael & Bacary ‘in’ for the rested Aleks and suspended Pablo.

Tricky one in the middle of the defence - I think Kompany will get a complete rest and I think Pellegrini would see it as being wise not to start Mangala two games in a row and just before a ‘must win’ / tricky away Premier League game at Hull. Demichelis to definitely / surely start; Boyata, I’m sure, the preferred choice over Nastasic.

Personally I wouldn’t go for Dedryck over Matija but it’s quite obvious that ‘The Engineer’ doesn’t find him a useful tool to have in his defensive box.

Although I’m sure he’d like to rest him if possible; the season-improving & energetic Fernandinho should get another ‘nod’…and next to him for this fixture, unlike the Arsenal game, might be a good one for “Soupy Super Frankie” to start.

Sinclair is another highly likely starter and with Navas perhaps on the other flank, it should prove to be a dangerous wing-combo against the Championship side.

‘Neck out’ for this one – Jordy Hiwula to start up front alongside Edin Dzeko! I told you I could be well off here with this one…

Richard to get a rare spot on the bench and SURELY our manager will at least give Nastasic a go on the side for this one? Mangala might get another small run out to keep him ‘ticking over’ and Milner ‘in there’ just in case we need him to ‘fill in’ and do some more ‘nitty gritty’.

Then some ‘big guns’ in case we need some pulling-out-of-the-fire ‘game changers’; and they come in the form of Yaya, Samir & Sergio; with Joe, Aleks & Vinny in-being given a full & optional night off. David & Sergio apparently have ‘knocks’ and will miss this one.

Jose Angel Pozo to at least make the bench and, in fact, there are rumours that he may start and so perhaps a switch with Hiwula there.

Result? Unbeaten in 3, sitting 6th in their league with only 1 defeat and with a big & noisy following I’m sure; then perhaps we’ll have a scare at some stage (I’m almost certain of it). But it’s a ‘within 90-minutes’ home win for me…IF we don’t take them for granted and play with commitment.

Soupy twist

You follow football for 30+ years and you think you’ve seen it all. Then in just one weekend, Liverpool suffer their second defeat in a row away to West Ham, WBA get their first win of the season away at Spurs, Palace win at Everton, Manyoo let a 3-1 lead slip at the King Power Stadium in ½ hour to lose 5-3, Super Frankie comes on to salvage a point for City against his once long-time employers, Chelsea, and there’s an 89-yard goal in the Bundesliga!

You just couldn’t make it up!


Let’s have it right from the start – we deserved a win. I thought, for the most part, we dominated and controlled the game and even after we went down (softly) to 10 men on 66 minutes; we didn’t look to have one-man-fewer than Chelsea. As for their attacking threat, I thought we handled them superbly!

72% possession against Stoke with 16 shots only to lose 1-0 to a breakaway goal; ending a creditable 2-2 draw at the Emirates by hitting the woodwork twice, ‘THAT’ Bayern late goal / result and a fine home performance against Chelsea not quite reaping full rewards. We’re not ‘far off’ are we?

And this, don’t forget, is all in our highly recognised, tough-opening, 9 Premier League fixture list draw. There ARE no easy games these days of course and now that we know more about what this season’s teams are capable of; a look beyond ‘those considered 9’ sees even more Premier League challenges ahead. The battle continues…

But the warriors are starting to show themselves now. Vincent Kompany continues to have one of his best starts to a season ever…and by his own very high standards that’s high praise indeed! And then…WOW…what a debut from Eliaquim Mangala; doubly so when you consider the opposition in his first ever game in England!

Not just because of his performance against Jose’s men but of James Milner I simply say this – get him signed up City!

Did recently-criticised Yaya ‘need a rocket’ or an ‘arm round’? Perhaps he did…and perhaps he got one. Either way it flippin’ well worked against Chelsea - he was back!

There were a couple of 6s in there against The Pensioners but not enough to go on about; the rest were 7s & 8s in a display to be very proud of.

The only negative I will draw some attention to is the somewhat predicted scenario of ‘struggling for goals’. Is 9 from 6 games in all competitions “struggling”? Well on the face of it that doesn’t sound like a bad return at all. And of the strikers Sergio Aguero is certainly ‘ticking along nicely’ if not exactly ‘on fire’ at the moment.

It’s a real shame 2-goal [against Liverpool] Stevan Jovetic picked up an injury and although he would still have been unfit to play; I think this is the point [a lot of people are making] about letting Alvaro Negredo go.

With Stevan out and last season's midfield goal machine, Yaya, taking a while to warm up – and with Edin Dzeko blowing his usual warm & cold” in front of goal (although his work-rate against Chelsea was excellent) – we’re not exactly ‘penetrating’ at the moment, are we?

And a worrying trend COULD develop here before too long if we’re not careful; and I would hope, therefore, to see our midfielders 'stepping up' with a few goals more often than they sometimes do - I’m thinking David Silva & Samir Nasri here in particular.

And although I’m not expecting them to make a Premier League start, as such; I would hope that at least one of the EDS strikers be given some 'game time' against Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup tomorrow evening. We need to start seeing some movement / progress there...


God there were some mixed feelings against Chelsea. I went into the game fairly confident of a win and said so to various people on several occasions. Then, as the yellow cards started to fly in the first half, I got the first of my foreboding feelings. At half time my wife asked me how I thought it would go in the second half and it took an age for me to answer, with my wife actually thinking that I’d gone into an alcohol-fuelled trance.

There was some alcohol involved (perhaps a little too much) but I was analysing and giving my response some serious consideration. “A score draw and one of the teams, at least, to end up with 10 men” was my response.

I must try to get into the world of in-play betting, as much as that overly-cockney geezer gets right on my nerves…

As much as we were the better side in the first half I just had one of those City “moments of dread”; whereby something was going to go awry after the interval. Of course we now know that on 66 minutes Zaba was that man to be given an unplanned, early exit and just 5 minutes later…BANG! 1-0 to Chelsea. I just slowly shook my head in anticipated disappointment…

But then another 6 minutes or so saw ‘Lamps’ come on [for Kolarov] and so…queue an exuberant Chelsea support who, buoyed by their recent goal and 1-0 lead, cheered on their former hero in a relentless song of, “Super Frankie Lampard”.

Queue, then also and for some unknown reason, a renewed belief that something was going to turn in our favour. We were still more than holding our own and I just got the feeling that the away support were going to rue their support for a Manchester City player (there goes that in-play bet thing again).

After his equaliser you could just hear pockets of City fans all around the ground clambering to be the first to start our very own “Super Frankie Lampard” song and it all resulted in a hotchpotch effort to be honest.

So I too - fuelled by adrenaline and a little ale - tried my best start our own and / or attempt to coordinate some of the existing efforts. All was going well until the end of the second volley; where, at the top of my screaming voice, “Super Frankie…” clearly came out, “Soupy Frankie Lampard”.

There’s nothing like that kind of loud-singing faux pas to take the wind out of your sails. I promptly sat down with a slightly nervous chuckle…

Still…it was a really good moment and one to shut the away fans up until after the game at least. Was 1-1 a fair result then? No…and Chelsea certainly left the more relieved of the two.

“THAT” Bundesliga goal…



These 4:00pm KOs the evening before a work day just aren’t Blog friendly ones - it then takes time for me to issue a (then slightly delayed) post match posting.

I do intend to do a small League Cup preview either later today or, perhaps, shortly before the game tomorrow evening. Thanks as always for taking the time to read!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Will it be 3 in a row? I hope so…

I think I was correct, recently, when I suggested that fielding just one striker from the start two games in-a-row was unprecedented for our manager. Ahead of the Chelsea game, could we be looking at a definite 3 games in-a-row with just one striker from Manuel Pellegrini?

Forced issue?

This was always going to be my opening gambit [about the one / two striker scenario] but following the pre-match press conference, I find that ‘The Engineer’s’ hand may well now be forced somewhat. This is due to soreness in Edin Dzeko’s back following a nasty-looking ‘jar’ during the unlucky Bayern defeat on Wednesday night.

So…with no Jovetic I think it’ll be up to the rested Sergio to lead the line, not necessarily “alone” as such, but certainly as the one recognised striker. And I, personally, am happy with that…even at home.

Jose’s men come to the Etihad jam-packed with attacking midfield talent and, as is becoming almost ‘the norm’ these days in the Premier Leagueand for us with our ‘oppos’ in particular – I think we need to adapt and almost ‘fight fire with fire’ if you will.

I do almost long for teams to play fluid 4-4-2s more often than not with two strikers but I fully understand and appreciate the 4-5-1 / 4-2-3-1 (or similar formation); with flare, pacy, creative players behind one ‘hit man’. I think, quite often, the ‘fear factor’ of not wanting to risk coming out of games with no points whatsoever kind-of influences managers into choosing these formations.

But forced or otherwise, this is what I think our manager will go for in another early-crucial, Premier League game on Sunday (4:00pm KO BST).

v Chelsea











From the back…

Hart to continue between the sticks.

Kolarov to provide more attacking thrust at home; Zaba gets a start after his forced absence [through suspension] in midweek.

I was, at one stage, going for Eliaquim to start this one…and in NOT predicting him to start now I may well be wrong. But Martin is doing really quite well at the moment and providing his older legs aren’t feeling it after tough trips to Arsenal and the German champions, I think he’ll ‘get the nod’ again. Kompany of course to partner him.

Ahead of them must be Fernandinho who showed signs of season-improvement on Wednesday night. Some would say he HAD to due to an abject performance from Yaya. I’ll come on to that…

So, the Brazilian to (mostly) ‘hold’ and then an attacking quartet of Nasri, the afore mentioned Ivorian, Silva and Navas. Now that has some midfield attacking bite and pace, with the raring-to-go Argentine destroyer ahead of it!

Particularly with Fernando and Jovetic still out with injuries the bench sort of picks itself really. There’s a dilemma for me, however; will Frank be picked against Chelsea or not?

There were – and still are – rumours that there’d been a request from the ex-Chelsea midfielder that he-not be selected to face his old club. However, although never revealing his hand of course; Manuel seemed to suggest that it wasn’t a consideration at all. Other pundits have since backed ‘Lamps’ to be professional and make himself available for selection…other footy sources are even backing the England international to score on Sunday.

The alternative would be to put another ex-Chelsea player on the bench instead, in Scott Sinclair. Still seems strange to see him in contention for a place (and I say that in wishing him all the very best of luck).

Result? Pre-season I said we’d win this one…and I’m sticking with that. I don’t normally go as far as predicting an actual score but I’m thinking a 2-1 win here. A draw wouldn’t be a complete disaster but it would, of course, be a better result for the away team on this occasion.

But I’ve got a good feeling that we’ll use the last home defeat [to Stoke] and the midweek irritating disappointment to good effect against the Londoners.

The Yaya debate

It just goes to show you how fans view games differently. Where I agree with the apparent majority is that Yaya produced a performance that yielded few, if any, results in the Champions League opener. I also agree that he’s had a quiet start to this season’s campaign (his Fantasy Football League stats alone are proof of that) and I totally agree that it was foolhardy to be laughing & joking in public with the opposition manager, Pep Guardiola, so soon after a very disappointing, last minute blow for his colleagues and travelling fans (whatever his reasons and possible intentions).

Powerful running - need to see more...
Huh…all that aside, I recall sitting in front of the TV at home and although it wasn’t by any stretch of the imagination the most obvious detail of the evening; I clearly recall observing – and even commenting on – the fact that, for the first time this season, Yaya had got his ‘stride’ back. When given the room and on, okay rare, occasions; his penetrating, trademark, freight train runs were in evident. But, and fair enough, with no end product. 5/10 from the MEN? I suppose so.

Flirting? Certainly silly.
His attitude – and not for the first time – was questioned after the Bayern game…and both the manager and his assistant have been questioned about this too. Neither were ever going to respond other than saying that there wasn’t an issue but it won’t have gone unnoticed that Yaya’s performances haven’t yet come close to those of (mostly) last season.

If Yaya does have some lingering and underlining ‘head’ issues I, for one, have 100% confidence in our ‘charming man’ pulling him out of it soon enough. And if he can’t, I have 100% confidence that Manuel, Ferran & Txiki will ‘off load’ him at the right time and for the right price; whilst they will, I'm sure, have already negotiated for his replacement. Either way, I’m not overly concerned at this stage.

It could be worse, we could still have Mario Balotelli on our hands (I can’t wait for those shenanigans to begin).