Saturday, 1 November 2014

A fairly brief one – almost lost for words

Going into this season’s first derby match I would have expected to be full of nervous excitement and enthusiastic to pour personal thought and analysis into a pre-game Blog posting.

Instead, I find that I'm still in relative shock at the APPALLING level of defensive display against Newcastle and, for the first time in a long time, I actually find that I’m dreading the possible outcome of the match against our local neighbours from M16.

In derbies gone by…

I know of City fans who hate derby encounters – anything from ones who nervously walk around their house only half-watching proceedings on the TV; ones who won’t watch or listen to the game at all, right through to season card holders who choose not to attend.

I can fully understand all of those; I always have a giddy nervousness before and during these encounters and never quite enjoy them as I do most other fixtures.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

...a time where we spent most (brief) seasons in the ‘top flight’ fighting off relegation, hoping for a half-decent cup run and praying to take at least some points from our encounter with the Trafford lot; although anxious about not wanting to get completely mullered by an often far superior Manyoo side I always suspected that Manyoo fans were secretly slightly more nervous about not-wanting to get beat by a far lesser team – and we all had to endure their outwardly “boasts” that Liverpool and Leeds United were always the bigger fixture for them…

But in recent times, the rise and rise and RISE of City has seen a very much reverse of that trend; to the point, for me at least, where I actually started to go into derby games…seriously “confident”!

So what a HUGH and sudden ‘come down’ to this particular derby build up…

Back to the workshop ‘Engineer’

Joe Hart has very recently come out and defended his boss; pretty much saying don’t blame him blame us (the players). Nice try Joe…but I find that I’m slightly irritated with our boss at the moment.

It’s not just his insistence on playing 4-4-2 in games where a more-compact midfield was (clearly) called for; it not just his recent ‘slow to react’ tendencies during games at times and it’s not just his insistence on playing a completely disinterested lamppost of a striker (surely I don’t need to point out who that might be…)

No, Pellegrini has capped it off for me by playing our ‘star man’ in a League Cup game just 4 days before this all-important derby match AND, for a team struggling so terribly defensively, he chose to almost completely change the back-line from the West Ham game when, most City fans seem to agree, they needed game-time together in order to ‘work the problem’. What was he / is he thinking?!

It’s all left me dumbfounded and very concerned for this coming Sunday (1:30pm KO GMT).

Derby games can often be ‘equalising’ fixtures of course and I can only hope that – along with a complete City personality change – this is the case this weekend.

v Manyoo (predicted line-up & outcome)












With so many players off form I can’t even bring myself to analyse this to a great degree. That, on paper at least, is probably about the…huh…"strongest defence" we could choose and you would HOPE new signing Fernando could add extra protection.

We desperately need the old Yaya back; Mr Dependable on the left and we can only hope that Nasri has one of his better outings; ‘stepping up to the plate’ as he often does when Silva is missing.

I think he will – and I’ll start praying that he does as soon as I’ve submitted this Blog posting – go with a front-two pairing of Jovetic and Aguero, which should offer a decent threat to a similarly-dodgy Manyoo defence. I say 'pray that he does' not because I want him to necessarily GO with two strikers for this game but anything / anyone has to be better than Edin Dzeko! I also believe that Jovetic can float around in an almost advanced, creative midfield role.

Result? Before the season I went for a draw in this one and if we can eradicate our recent and many failings – having had enough time Thursday through Saturday to get a complete ability transplant - then I think we can just about muster one of those outcomes.

If we’d have been playing, just okay; getting mostly positive results without particularly playing well then I recon we could easily have gone sleepwalking into this game and-have come a right cropper. However, the closer we get to kick off the more I’m thinking that we’re now playing the ‘wounded animal’ part and, therefore, we’ll use the strength that can often come from that scenario to our advantage.

Like us, for the moment at least, Manyoo are dodgy at the back also…but they have frightening attacking options and so, all things considered, I think this’ll be a ‘points shared’ derby.

Prayer time…

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