Saturday, 17 January 2015

Missed the last goal-fest – another one in the offing?

14th December 2013 and I was in the air on my way to my first ever winter-sun holiday. Complete media blackout and, therefore, no clue as to how the lads were progressing back home and AT home against Arsenal.

Touch down, 45 minutes of confusion about the transfer to the hotel; a 40 minute drive, very quick check-in & unpack and straight to a nearby bar to hear Richard Keys on Al Jazeera announce, during the interval (or end) of the Chelsea game, that there had been a glut of goals at the Etihad. I gulped – and gulped some cold lager – until I EVENTUALLY heard the terrific news.

V Arsenal

Straight to a predicted line-up, subs and outcome…

4-1-4-1 / 4-2-3-1:











Despite a few questionable decisions and goals conceded of late in what looks to be a little wobble from England’s number 1; Joe to start in net.

At home, Pellegrini has suggested in the past that the more-attacking (well he can’t very-well much defend and so that’s the only other quality he sometimes brings to the team) Aleks Kolarov is better suited. With the need to defend a dangerous attacking midfield and, in particular, Alexis Sanchez…it’s Gael Clichy for me.

Martin Demichelis – the better of the two central defenders at Everton last weekend and in general this season – might have cause to feel a little aggrieved to see Eliaquim Mangala get a start ahead of him tomorrow. However, similar to the Clichy decision, we need some pace in there to suppress the Arsenal attack as much as possible.

Vincent Kompany should be fit to start, it has been suggested by our manager in the pre-match ‘presser’, and what a fillip that will be for us! Hope so…

Zaba, surely, on the right for this one in what SHOULD be a terrific defence.

Fernando to ‘protect’ and a good game from ‘The Octopus’ could be key in allowing the rest to do damage to Wenger’s men.

The other ‘Fern’, therefore, is probably being given the most complex role of the day – help [Fernando] defend a little but attack whenever you can. That’s what I think at least…

With Samir out for 3 to 4 weeks with a calf injury it SHOULD be the boundless energy of James down the left – can we afford to leave Milner out with Nasri sidelined whilst we’re trying desperately to get him to ‘pen’ a new deal?

Pace on the right in Navas and if he can improve his crossing & finishing – a line that is being used a little too much for my liking and for a player of his obvious ability - this SHOULD give the visitors a headache.

Although at home and preferring 4-4-2 and two strikers most of the time regardless; I’m sticking my neck out and trusting my gut feeling in that he’ll pick David to support, hopefully, treadmill-pounding Sergio up front.

A strong bench both defence and attack-wise and although my prediction sees just one midfielder to choose from…WHAT a midfield game-changer it is!

Result? I don’t do predicted scores as a rule but, for some strange reason, I have been doing just that at work this week; and so it would be wrong of me not to follow that up in my pre-match Blog posting. Like last season’s (missed) game there are, potentially, goals aplenty once again; it’s a home win and if not 4-2 then I think it’ll be at least a 3-1’er.

Plenty to say…

Well everyone’s entitled to their opinion of course and with us now dining at the top table of English football I suppose we City fans have to get used to some top sniping too.

This week has hardly been the ‘tin hat on’ time of the not-so-good old days where we pressed the self-destruct button time and time and time again as we suffered one Club-implosion after another.

However, the signing of Wilfried Bony and, therefore, us-DARING to spend some more of our very own money has turned a number of heads and got some lips flapping; some of those lips belonging to owners who forgot to engage what is contained WITHIN those turning heads in my opinion.

First out of the blocks was a fairly measured, as usual, Gary Neville who said, I worry (orrr…bless) about the purchase of Wilfried Bony, who is a very fine centre-forward but is not certain to add the kind of intricacy and ferocious intensity they found in the Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez partnership”.

Well, firstly Gary, from what I’ve seen of the Ivorian he has very quick feet and quick-thinking ability indeed for a striker more known to be a powerhouse. But, besides, I think ‘our Gazza’ is missing the point here. Partnerships up front are indeed very important, of course, and I suppose only time will tell if Gary’s “concerns” are justified. But what our manager has done here is replaced ‘The Beast’ with another powerful and strong-running forward and one who, crucially, scores goals at a fair old rate of knots (1 in 2 at the very least wherever he goes and in whatever competition).

In Aguero, Bony, Dzeko & Jovetic we have 4 strikers who bring a very potent ‘mixed bag’ of tricks – they’re not all alike and as much as I too [like Gary] loved the Aguero / Tevez partnership, however many goals and game-wins they did or didn’t rack up together; I think that combination of differing assets is a very good thing to have in your starting 11 and squad.

But then it all got a bit silly…

Ex-Blue - and somewhat a once-hero of mine - Mick Channon waded in and, well…simply embarrassed himself by sounding WAY too ‘old school’ and out of touch in his thinking about the modern game.

To back him up oh-so-very-slightly and briefly I will say, is the modern game perfect? Is it ‘eckers like. Are players transfer fees and wages enough to make the common man & women retch at the mere thought of the astronomical figures that we’re talking about? Of course they are; no-one kicking a bag of wind (to quote Jimmy Wagg) around a patch of grass for often 90 minutes or less at a time is worth anything LIKE the numbers we’re talking about.

Mick said, when asked about his old club’s purchase of the striker from Swansea City

“Football is getting a bit sad. He is not a bad player, Bony, but for God’s sake, £30m or whatever it was?

“They are like spoilt kids – they have got to have all the candies in the shop. They want all the players.

“The FA have got to say ‘Come on’. Once you have got your team together, I think it is ridiculous that these big clubs can go and spend, and bring Messi in and win the championship – big deal.

“Someone has got to stand up and say something about it one day. If you are a signed player, that is your team for a couple of years or until your contract runs out.”

£30M or whatever it was. It was £25M eventually going to £28M Mick. Petty of me to point that out? No…not unless 2 to £5M is nothing to the now-renowned horse trainer.

Spoilt kids wanting all the candies in the shop? Really? When most top football pundits quite-righty recognise that to compete at the VERY top level in 4 competitions, as we are trying to do, often amounting to 60-odd games a season you need 4 strikers; and in purchasing Bony we’ve simply gone from 3 to…4. all the candies? Has he seen Chelsea’s midfield weapons store?

The F.A. has to step in? Really? What, like…we’ve not already been slapped with enough sanctions by a footballing body; a football club who is POURING money into youth development and the re-development of the local area but, regardless, get’s beaten with a stick for their efforts while other debt-riddled clubs get away with spending and spending and spending without punishments? Really Mick?

…bring Messi in? Have we? No…not yet anyway. And if we do sign the Barcelona striker one day I’ll be INSISTING that the once windmill-arm-wheeling one gets interviewed for his opinions once again. Imagine it – his head is likely to explode!

And as for his comments on a player not moving because he’s in contract and should stay until the very end and THEN be allowed to move, well…if Mick’s out-dated thinking needed to be underlined then it was at that point of the conversation. Deary me…

And then, of course…TA-DAAA! Ladies & gentleman…Jose Mourinho! Yaaaaay! Oh where would we be without him. Still here.

In questioning how we’ve managed to fund the purchase of Bony the easily an’ often irritated one spewed out,
“If they have the money, can spend the money, if they have no problems with the FFP, well done.

But in continuing he added,
“It looks like the rules are different for them in some aspects, but not in this.

And when asked what he meant by that he simply replied,
“You know…”

Now for THOSE last comments I think he should be punished; I think City, in fact, have the right to ask him to explain what he meant by his words and if he doesn’t offer up a good enough explanation then we should take legal action.
Of course, when asked [by a journo] if our recent purchase was, get this, “Ethical”, Arsene Wenger added his French Euro’s worth by saying,

I hope so. They must have the availability and the Financial Fair Play allows them to do it. I don’t know. It was a surprise, yes”.

He went on to say that it’s not down to him to control it nor his job to judge. But assuming, for a moment, that he did want to take an interest into whether we’ve broken any rules; just what is it with these people [Jose included]?! Is it just me? As recently posted…don’t you just need half a brain and a calculator to see that we ARE spending within our means and under the restrictions set out by UEFA under the F(not-so)FP imposed sanctions? Hello?

The only thing in mid-week that I read which muddied the waters and sounded a little cloak ‘n’ dagger to me – albeit, crucially, approved by UEFA – was the news that we have somehow and for some REASON spread the fee over the length of Bony’s contract; essentially meaning it is stretched over the accounts for the next five years. Hey? What? Why?

Other than in his column that he writes for the Independent, at least we haven’t heard any senseless rambles from the newly found voice of Paul Scholes. Slightly irritating isn’t it; of the afore mentioned opinions that we’ve heard regarding the Bony deal the more considered and sensible ones came from ex-Manyoo players?

And what does Manager of the Month Manuel Pellegrini say when asked to comment on Jose & Co.'s opinions on our spending? He wouldn't be drawn on it of course and remains a class act.

And it’s already begun…

As predicted under the second sub-heading in my last piece - Yaya leaves the country, Yaya gets interviewed by some foreign paper / magazine / TV channel; Yaya is none-committal about his Manchester City future / gets misquoted, no doubt, and speculation begins about his imminent summer departure. Huhhhh…

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