Thursday, 12 March 2015

Focus and steel required…

…in our mountainous task to catch up on leaders Chelsea, which continues on Saturday in the testing hills of Burnley.

Barca concern…and concerning noises

With the Champions League game at Camp Nou looming large on the horizon, I just hope the players’ focus is 100% on Saturday’s ‘must win’ at Turf Moor. Of course, when inevitably asked in his pre-match ‘presser’, Manuel Pellegrini will say that he and his team are just talking about Burnley. I’m sure he is…I just hope that, not wanting to pick up a ‘niggle’ in Lancashire, the players are 100% on this this local’ish derby.

I also don’t like the story that's coming out about the half-time, dressing room 'angry clash' between Fernandinho and Vincent Kompany at Anfield. I’m not naive to the fact that things like this happen in football (and many other sport’s) teams and, if you listen to ex-pros, it’s not exactly an unhealthy thing. But for both (and others of course) to-then be dropped from the next game notches up the volume of that little alarm bell somewhat.

I made no qualms about blaming our manager for the largely insipid performance and defeat against Liverpool. However the manager himself, it would appear, believed the problem lay elsewhere and wanted to ‘refresh the team’ by 'resting' a few following our disappointment in Merseyside.

I hope that’s the case…and I think it is.

I say “hope” not only because that-then rules out any more serious, underlying issue (or issues) with the players themselves but, just as important, that our manager – questioned for being too one-dimensional and non-reactive of late – saw some of his players feeling jaded and moved to fix the problem quickly before it got worse and damaged us further.

Samir Nasri has also seemed a little distracted of late; gobbing off once again about his fall-out with the French national coach and firing a few shots over in Chelsea’s direction for being, “...not special”. He too was withdrawn for the Leicester game; not even making the bench.

More-so than ever do we need the squad to be a solid unit and when he first became our manager we were told that one of his finest qualities was that Manuel was very much a father figure; making even the most troubled players feel at ease. Let’s hope he’s been ‘doing his thing’ in the week leading up to this one…and how ironic that the most seemingly-focused player is the one about to expire his contract (James Milner if you needed reminding). I hope that’s not a sign that he’s settled in his mind that he’s about to sign for someone else…

But back to the task in hand…

We’ll need "unity" because Burnley are scrapping for their lives; Burnley were the ones who strikingly pulled-round a 0-2’er at the Etihad to draw 2-2 and who have either held or beaten the likes of Manyoo, Southampton, Tottenham and Chelsea. Burnley have a striker in Danny Ings that a number of decent sides both domestic and foreign are waiting to pounce on in the summer; Burnley work as hard for 90+ minutes as any other side in the Premier League and they also have a nasty habit of taking the lead a heck of a lot this season…fortunately also then having another bad habit of letting those leads slip.

This one won’t be so easy as some may think.

v Burnley (5:30pm KO GMT)

Not for the first time I’m trying to predict Saturday’s starting 11 & subs before the press conference and, therefore, confirmation from our manager of who will and will not be available. Slightly forced as I am by restricted time on Friday night; this alone makes it difficult to predict.

But when you also throw into the mix our manager’s often rotating of the full backs, his recent juggling of (more) striking options as well as his uncharacteristic dropping of ‘our skip’ and a fully fit Fernandinho & Samir Nasri for whatever reason you choose to believe; well…they're my excuses in advance of this fixture.











Hart to 'keep net'.

With the likelihood of the more attack-minded Kolarov and slightly pacier [than Zabaleta] Sagna possibly being chosen for a ‘win or bust’ game in Spain on Wednesday night; their replacement colleagues to get the...less glamorous fixture. The wiser Demichelis to get the nod ahead of Mangala for this one; the Frenchman’s pace also more likely to be required in midweek. Kompany to get his place back.

Nasri to return also; ‘tucked in’ and ‘floating’ slightly as does Silva on the other flank. And with Toure being the third mostly attack-minded midfielder behind, also, two strikers; they’ll be a need to employ an all-out defensive midfielder. Fernando gets that job.

Aguero, of course, and once again with Barcelona at the back of our manager's thoughts; I get the feeling he'll want to unleash our new striker on the Spanish side IF he chooses to go 4-4-2 against Barca.

Notable absentees are Bacary Sagna (saved for Wednesday and stepping aside for Kolarov in case we need a different attacking option to come on against The Clarets), Fernandinho who I recon will start in Spain and the likely-departing Stevan Jovetic.

Result? Fully refreshed and focused we should prevail. Tough test in many ways but I’m going for a City win.

Bits ‘n’ bobs – comment

Anyone else find Roberto Mancini’s comments about his desire to acquire Yaya in the summer slightly disrespectful? A player that has 3-years left to run on his contract? Of course the Italian is not stupid; he knows that this might be our last summer to REALLY command a proper transfer fee for the Ivorian but still; most managers would quite rightly not comment so specifically on another club’s employee.

We were always going to have to endure another summer of ‘Yaya speculation’…unfortunately it started a few weeks ago in flippin’ February! And, strangely, it sort of started with, apparently, not just his agent but the player himself appearing to hint that not only does he want to see out his contract but to-then stay at Manchester City in some capacity afterwards. I take it all with a pinch of salt…

Staying or going?

Is anyone else getting really quite twitchy about James Milner not signing a new contract? If so there will be, apparently, no quick medicine to calm your butterfly-filled stomach. Rumour has it that the Yorkshireman is now refusing to discuss his contract until the summer…when he’ll be out of contract. Rumours the OTHER week were that we were only offering him a 3-year-deal and that James wanted 4.

I doubt it’s that simple (I flamin’-well hope not!) and, I’m sorry to say, I think he’s simply hoping for a move to a side whereby he can be played more…and more in the middle of the park. I also see that being at either Liverpool or Arsenal…or perhaps even Roberto Mancini’s Inter Milan (hence the curve-ball comments about Yaya from the ex-City boss?)

Future replacement?

On that subject, the Manchester Evening News ran a piece about some of the EDS players who might break into the first team next season. This was then followed up by another piece regarding the most ‘voted for’ EDS player by City fans following the first article.

The player to get the most votes [for making it in the first team next season] was Marcos Lopes.

In addition to suggesting that Lopes could be the perfect replacement for Milner (what…to sit on the subs bench?) the second piece touches on the versatility of the Portuguese youngster and, crucially, that he yearns to make a so-called “number 10” spot his own; operating behind a lone striker. Well, in that case, if Manuel Pellegrini is still our manager next season then I doubt very much that he’ll get that specific wish.

All ‘Messed’ up!

Speculation seems to be intensifying about Lionel Messi moving away from Barcelona...possibly this summer! So expensive is the player ‘all in’ that, apparently, only 3 clubs have launched feasibility studies about whether they can afford him. Of course one of them is us.

I dunno…WHAT a player…but even if there WAS any possibility of this happening; “eggs” and “one basket” spring to mind in an era of F(not-so)FP and in a team that is desperate for improvement in more than one area of the pitch.

Crazy season starts early…

Are we still in March or have we been somehow propelled to the beginning of June? In the same week where it was confirmed that Matija Nastasic was to make his loan move to Schalke 04 permanent in the summer, Edin Dzeko has been apparently fending off (more) speculation that he be moving out of the Etihad after the season finishes…and our manager’s very-own agent has now stirred up things a little by suggest 'The Engineer's' next job (Napoli) should he leave us after just two seasons.

Huhhhh…bring on a good old-fashioned game of footy on Saturday before I go crazy!

PS. Chelsea getting knocked out of the Champions League - good or bad for us? Mmmmm...

PPS. Thanks to NewsNow and, in particular, Jack for including my Blog on their WEB site and for the technical support to get me there!


  1. Speaking on behalf of every fan at every other club (maybe not United's) please please please please catch Chavsea and prevent the 'enemy of football' Boreinho winning the title. If he doesn't there is a high probability Abramovich will sack him again because if you play such boring negative anti-football and win one League Cup in 2 years, then the sack is inevitable!

    1. Yes indeed! 8- )

      Thanks for commenting.

    2. Mourinho will not get sacked as Abromovich has gotten it in his head that he is the only manager that can probably bring and stabilize Chelsea to win things in the coming years. City on the other hand need to seriously take a look through the squad because we have one of the oldest squads in the BPL and in Europe in general.

    3. Hi Pedro.

      I too don't think Mourinho would get sacked if all he won this season was the League Cup (and finished 2nd in the Prem - hope that's the case!).

      I don't get too hung-up on the age of our squad but an injection of QUALITY younger players would be good in order to provide a 'good mix' rather than simply 'bringing the age down'.

      I've always believed ex-pros when they say that outfield players, generally, come into their physical peak from 28 to 30 and, these days, I think you can push that to 32 in a lot of cases (even older with the likes of James Milner)!

      But yeah, I'm sure we'll be promoting (and using more) the odd EDS player and buying-in 22 to 26 year-olds in the summer.

      Thanks for reading and for commenting!