Sunday, 25 January 2015

Worrying trend continues…

As I’ve advanced in age & experience following Manchester City I don’t take defeats quite so hard as I used to. Gone are the days where I could barely speak to someone for hours following a game that I felt we should have won; gone are the days where it sometimes took until Tuesday morning to get over a Saturday afternoon defeat.

But that one 'stung' yesterday – we continue to look jaded and in many ways completely devoid of creative ideas and for me it’s a concerning, on-going development.

Quick reality check

AS that long-time Manchester City supporter I am still somewhat of the mindset that, what's happening to our football club is an amazing thing! Sure we’re disappointingly out of both the League & F.A. Cups at quite an early stage this season; competitions, which, I firmly believe we should strive to win; our ‘bread & butter’ tournaments to help swell our trophy cabinets as other big clubs have tried to win in the past and still strive to today.

I have to remind myself that I am watching a Manchester City team packed full of exciting stars and that we lie 2nd in the Premier League at just over the half-way stage of the season; we’re in the last 16 of the Champions League and, quite importantly, we are the current champions of England…and have been so twice in three seasons!


…the immediate reality is this. From 4 possible competitions we’re already, in January, out of 2 of ‘em and if we’re being really honest with ourselves, any victories in the Champions League from now on will be a bonus – we’re not going to win that competition. And so what we have left is the league…and we’re 5 points behind, once again, and have to go away to the current leaders next.

Add to that a team that – and I’ve said this before – look jaded and lost for ideas; and all of a sudden that small alarm bell that was sounding at the back of MY head, at least, a few weeks ago is getting a little louder.

Let’s look at the past few results:

  • The first warning sign came in the form of Burnley at home. 2-0 up but not playing brilliantly; perhaps if we hadn’t have conceded and had-won this game what was to follow might not have happened; equally, however, a win may have just been papering over some early Christmas-time cracks. The Lancashire outfit not only fired themselves back to finish 2-2 but they were VERY good for their away draw at the champions of England; in the second half they both out thought and outfought us.

  • Sunderland at home next on 1st January 2015 – a 3-2 victory that felt like anything but. Sunderland could - and perhaps should - feel quite aggrieved not to have got something out of that game; like Burnley they looked more ‘up for it’ and it was scrappy &  and poor from us at best…and only a winning strike on 73 minutes from a 36-year old, ex-England man salvaged all 3 points.
A festive, fixture-packed blip? That’s what I was hoping it was at the time but, no…
  • ANOTHER home game; no travelling and no excuses. Championship side Sheffield Wednesday next in the F.A. Cup and ANOTHER lacklustre performance from City. At this stage it was starting to look like they’d been enjoying the festivities too much; either that or some kind of lethargic bug was sweeping the club. It was truly AWFUL…and only a late, LATE brace from a 29-year old England man saw us claw our way gingerly into the next round.

  • Everton away next; a ground and a team that doesn’t always suit us. But they had their injuries and were struggling for form themselves; sitting fairly close to the ‘drop zone’ at the half way mark. Some City fans would have, perhaps, taken “a good away draw” before the game and as it turned out, a draw was a fair result…even though that came with a scare or two. But Everton weren’t great on the day and so despite feeling fairly pleased with an away point; it was yet ANOTHER underperforming City side who should really have put the Toffees to the sword.


  • Then it gets even worse. You’d expect us to have the majority of the possession at home to a Championship side and although the stats say that we did, it sure didn’t feel like it. I didn’t go yesterday but instead I listened to the whole of the 1st half on the radio and managed to watch most of the second half live (and, of course, have read the reports since). Boro were more organised, looked fitter and, most concerning of all, far more ‘up for it’ than we were.

This is game number 6 of this worry run now; 6 games, 5 of which were at home, 2 of the games against Championship teams, 3 from near the bottom of the Premier League, 2 defeats, 2 draws and NO clean sheets; conceding 10 goals in those half-dozen games…more than half of what yesterday’s opponents have conceded in their league in 27 games!

I got a text after the game from a friend and VERY long-time, VERY dedicated City supporter. It read something like, “Not good enough today but still looking forward to Chelsea & Barca”. I replied, agreeing with his sentiment about us not being good enough but, I exclaimed, WASN’T looking forward to those two fixtures for all of the reasons above.

I later added in a post on-line…

Like his ex-Porto teammate who didn't play today of course, there's still no improvement from Fernando.

I don't do 'knee jerk' reactions and there's little we can do about it in the remaining days of the current transfer window; but already recent purchases don't look NEARLY good enough for what we're trying to achieve as a progressing football club. In the 'just not good enough' category I'm afraid I need to add [to Fernando] Boyata, Kolarov, Mangala (so far), Fernandinho, Navas, Dzeko & Jovetic.

That's one HELL of a summer re-build!

And in the cold light of Sunday morning I still feel the same – with the exception of Mangala who I still HOPE will come good; I just don’t think any of those players are of the calibre we should expect at our so-called progressing and ambitious football club.

I continued…

I can't take ANY positives from today - it would have been better for us had Chelsea scraped through to round 5; pulling more on their resources with more games etc. But we can't even hold on the that for comfort [thanks to Bradford City]!

Unless we get everyone back together ASAP and we 'click', we'll have a fight on our hands just to finish 2nd and, if we do, perhaps we should be grateful that we managed to finish League runners up this season.

Once the African Cup of Nations is over – although Yaya at least is getting some pretty poor reports – and in addition to Wilfried Bony we get Samir Nasri back, Aguero firing once again and the back 4 can start looking like a defensive unit for once; I really do think that we’ll dust ourselves down in February (I say February because I fear for us on this form at Stamford Bridge on 31st January) and go on a really good, momentum-building run right to the finishing line.

Ferran Soriano said in 2013 that he expects us to win 5 trophies in 5 years and that he doesn’t mind if that means occasionally having a barren season. I get that; I fully agreed with that statement at the time and still do.

It’s just that…seeing us flounder as we are at the moment feels even more frustrating than years gone by; when we had mostly mediocre players at best. Seeing the sort of quality we now possess somehow makes poor performances and ‘periods of poor form’ like this much harder to take. Perhaps as a supporter of 30+ years that’s just something new I’m just going to have to adjust to...

I hope Ferran & Co. are true to his word in their backing of Pellegrini, however, because if we DON’T improve a lot very soon; if we continue these lacklustre, ‘out of sorts’ displays much longer we WILL be lucky to finish a trophyless 2nd place in the Premier League.
P.S. Should we have come back from Abu Dhabi as late as we did? No, absolutely not!

P.P.S. C'mon Cameroon on Wednesday!


  1. I agree that Boyata, Fernando, Navas, Dzeko and Jovetic aren't good enough for where we want to be. None of them would get anywhere near Bayern's team. Mangala deserves more time, in my opinion, Kolarov offers something different going forward (and could give Navas a lesson in crossing), and I think Fernandinho is a good player. My big worry is how we're going to replace Yaya. Cheers, Mike

  2. Yep, I hope Mangala does 'come good' and I agree; it's going to take some money to replace Yaya (having said that there's some serious sales in that 'not good enough' list).