Sunday, 26 April 2015

Same game, differing views…

In 30+ years for watching Manchester City and football in general, it still amazes me how often fans supporting the same team see games and performances so very differently.

Got what I was hoping for…perhaps with a slight twist

I said only yesterday that this would be won by a gutsy showing from our character-bashed players and I was fist-punchingly proud of our lads yesterday. Perhaps that, then, clouded my judgement on other aspects of our performance somewhat…and my head-scratching started only seconds after the final whistle.

As I made a point of staying behind longer than I sometimes do following the final whistle, to proudly clap our lads’ determination and victory; a chap from further up my row muttered, “Well that was a load of bobbins”, as he passed me and headed towards the stairs. I screwed my face up in a confused fashion and carried on my appreciative applause.

Then, as my wife & I headed down the spiral, I got a sense that others too weren’t happy – there wasn’t even a slight hint of relieved joy at our tight, late 3-2 win.

Even the fact that we’d scored our first corner in [insert exact 300+ figure here…and if you DO know the number then please tell me] wasn’t even muted from the grumbling comments around me. No…the post-game ‘atmos’ was as flat as Yaya’s performance before he was hauled off at half time.

Furthermore, as I popped into my local convenience store to get some ‘supplies’, a fellow shirt-wearing Blue said to me, “Well that wasn’t very good today, was it?” My uncontrollable pause and temporary holding of breath was a clear indication to him that I didn’t exactly agree with that sentiment and I eventually replied, “Well…I thought we showed a lot of determination and character today”. He half-heartedly agreed with my sentiment and left the shop.

Was it just me then; was I being overly ‘glass half full’? Had my pre-match Blog-posting and hopes for a character-filled performance coloured my view of the game? Had my alcohol intake affected my judgement?

Whatever it was, ‘the others’ seemed to be supported by the match-day facts which showed that Villa had 55% overall possession and slightly-edged also the ‘shots on goals’; with 13 to our 11. Then a few moments of reading some fan’s comments on the Manchester Evening News WEB site this morning was the final nail in my upbeat coffin; as most of those gave a damning verdict of our performance.


In the cold light of day…no change

I’m not budging. The furthest I’ll go is to point out some failings yesterday; something that we can all do even after some of the very best performances - well have you ever seen a team get 10/10 right across the board?

  • Starting with the obvious; Yaya’s lamentable (again) performance. Did little going forward, did nothing to help Fernando defend. No doubt, if asked, we’ll be told he was taken off because he ‘took a knock and / or felt a ‘niggle’…

  • Wobbly defence at times. As the game wore on and, as expected, Tim Sherwood’s men pressed us; there was signs of some cracks and, in one or two moments, downright chaos that left Hart exposed.

  • Kolarov. Do I have to include him in ‘the negatives’? He deserves it of course…but it’s sort of “standard” that he falls into this category anyway. A few overlapping runs and crosses into the box and his first goal of the season helped us to a vital win, of course, but he’s poor, poor defender and player in general. Turns like a bus that’s lost its right-hand-side wheels…

  • I thought Navas had another decent’ish game…but I will include, once again, his lack of ‘end product’.

  • The almost inevitable Villa ‘come back’. How often this season AND in season’s gone by have we just not killed off teams / let them back into it? That IS a character failing…

Well that’s about it from me.

I thought Hart, Demichelis, Zabaleta and, in particular, Mangala and good games. I thought Fernando, for the most part, had another decent one too.

Fernandinho was a vast improvement on the fella he replaced (Toure); Silva, Lampard & Aguero all linked up well in passing triangles and albeit an ABSOLUTE GIFT; the Argentinean got his 4th goal in 3 games and leads the Premier League goal-scoring table by one [to Harry Kane].

I view the Manchester Evening News’ player ratings as being, largely, a little too harsh as well – most deserve to be a point higher in my opinion.

On the horizon…

Tough game coming up at White Hart Lane – I hope, if ‘fully up to speed’ of course, Gael Clichy can be fit for this one. We certainly won’t have Vinny back (2 weeks’ish by all accounts) because Harry Kane and a whole host of attacking midfields will cause us issues I’m sure.

But Spurs have proven to be a very inconsistent and flaky team this season and, in particular, of late. It’s another one those for me - be ‘up for it’ and we can take a point and certainly have it well within us to take all 3. Not a game for Yaya then…

C’mon Everton and (huhhhh…I suppose) Chelsea today because…Queens Park Raisins at home, Swansea City away and Southampton at home - again IF we continue to show ‘grit’ - we should have it in our own hands to finish strong…and finish a creditable, if not slightly disappointing, 2nd.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Consistency, ‘metal’…and Villa reaction.

This one is all about having the ‘guts’!

The “post-Wembley” & “Tim Sherwood” factors

Although - under the stewardship of the former Spurs player and then ManagerAston Villa’s league record, at least, reads a not-overly impressive, W: 3, D: 1, L: 4...and they still-sit just 4 points above the ‘drop zone’ with three teams below them having a game in hand; there’s no doubting whatsoever that Mr Sherwood has had a hugely-positive affect on the men from the midlands.

Just ask the thousands of Wembley-bound Aston Villa supporters and, in particular, a rejuvenated Christian Benteke

Then there’s our lot and our issues...and I find myself looking at our recent record and wondering if we can repeat what we’ve failed to achieve since February; and win back-to-back Premier League games. In fact the only ‘back-to-back’ record we’ve managed recently is defeats.

And then there’s the, how will Villa respond after their dizzying F.A Cup semi final triumph’, factor? Often clubs achieve – and can I be so bold as to suggest sometimes over achieve – in cup competitions only to-then suffer a league hangover. And, of course, I’m hoping like hell that’s the case today!

I hope so…but I doubt it.

In Tim Sherwood you’ve got the kind of shirt-ripping, chest-thumping motivator that even if they DID have a wobbly first 45 minutes against us today you can guarantee that it won’t be the same performance after the interval. And that’s what we have to be 'wary of' and 'fight against' this evening (5:30pm KO BST).

We’ll need to show some real mental & physical steel today if we are to get a much-needed (for very different reasons) 3 points against this lot; a team that will come with a noisy following too. At the Etihad we must not let them become what their nickname suggests.

v ‘The Villa’

Predicted line-up, subs and outcome…












Hart to face a revitalised Villa attack.

Also defending Benteke & Co. – and for the second week running if my guess is correct – will be the same back 4 that kept a clean sheet against West Ham.

In front of them, Fernando to carry on 'protecting' also.

Get that department right and we have a pretty-awesome attacking quintet in midfield-3 David, Yaya & Jesus in-behind, I think, Sergio and the injury-recovered Wilfried; who I’m sure our manager will have been working with all week with the intent of finally & fully unleashing on Tim Sherwood’s men. If he’s not quite 100% then perhaps we’ll see Edin 'in there'...or perhaps we'll go 4-5-1’ish again.

Willy as keeper cover; Sagna & Boyata to provide defensive back-up. Three midfielders that can offer both utility & goals; Dzeko as our only striking option from the bench.

Notable absences: Kompany, Clichy, Nasri & Jovetic (all injured).

Result? It’s an intake of breath and a bit of a cheek-blower is this one…

You look at our back-4 against a pumped-up Aston Villa forward line / attacking midfield and I, at least, have some concerns. If Fernando has another good game that will certainly ease the wobbles considerably.

Then, of course, they have to worry about our attacking 5 and if those players are 'on song' then Villa should be very concerned about us.

But for me – as I’ve already more than alluded to - it all boils down to attitude and fighting spirit. Get THAT sorted and the player-class-advantage will take care of itself.

It might be a little scary this tea time; we’ll either blow ‘em out of the water in the early stages and then, as we’ve sometimes seen, sit back with the attitude of “job done” and, therefore, see a Villa fight-back that will be difficult to contain...OR...Tim will have them so fired up that they’ll hit us hard ‘n’ fast when we’re ‘cold’ and will end up having to find the sort of comeback-fighting-spirit we’ve seen little of this season.

I’m so close to putting this down as a ‘points shared’ but I’m going for our lads to have a renewed sense of finishing the season on as high-a-note as possible. It’s a City win.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

West Ham thoughts, Silva, Under 18s…and Pep secures Manuel’s job?

Just wanted to throw a few snippets together…

West Ham United game

In a weekend that saw both Arsenal & Liverpool not compete in the Premier League and both Southampton & Manyoo lose; what a very welcome 3 points that was. But it was much more that that too.

It was pleasing – and relieving – to see both the performance and commitment levels up again; particularly the latter and regarding certain individuals.

Yaya looked bothered and ‘up for it’. He might GET upset at criticism (and his gobby agent might do his usual April / May act too); but some players just look deceptively languid and other just are. For me Yaya is a bit of both a various times…but was neither last Sunday.

Another under my personal, recent spotlight of questionable character was (is) Aleks Kolarov but he too appeared to be interested in playing last weekend. Didn’t really see enough of Dzeko on the day to pass judgement…

But then we have ability levels. Although he still flung-in a few hopeful, rather than intended, crosses; Jesus Navas – by his own standards at least – had one of his better games. Still might only get a 7, perhaps 7.5/10…but that’s not bad for him!

Mangala – forced into action though injury to Kompany – had a very composed game indeed. More like that and I’m sure this lad will grow and grow in confidence. I’m sure he has the ability in him.

Zaba was back too! What a crackin’ first half in particular he had – some amazing tackles!

Fernando too – a surprise inclusion for me (I thought our manager would prefer Fernandinho) – had a very good game indeed. I just can’t seem to give him the full credit he perhaps deserves; I can’t wait to see if he can do it against top opposition. What I mean by that is…I seem to say he has good games but against far lesser teams and at home. Hope, like his ex-Porto colleague, he too can continue to improve.

Both David Silva & Sergio Aguero looked revitalised; feeling no doubt that others around them were pulling their weight for once. “If only” springs to mind…

Similarly, leading on from that, it was so pleasing to see the levels of both performance & determination ‘up’…but also so flippin’ frustrating, with just 5 games to go, as to “why only now?!"


It’s seemingly good news about David Silva’s face to elbow incident – he hasn’t fractured his cheekbone. I’m sure he’s sore and might even develop a bit of a ‘shiner’. City are monitoring him ahead of another vital (they all are now) game against Aston Villa (Etihad Stadium, Saturday 25th April, 5:30pm KO BST).

Hopefully we’ll see him in the starting 11, even if it means him wearing a protective, Zorro-style mask.


Youth F.A. Cup Final, 1st leg

My wife, a mate & I went last night and were joined at the Etihad Campus Stadium by an impressive 6,418 others! Well-done to all who attended and, in particular, to those fans in the ‘standing’ North Stand behind the goal (1894 Group and, separately, brass band ‘et al’). They made for a great atmosphere!

Although a little annoying at times, I can’t fault either the club’s idea to hand out 100s of corrugated (clappers?)  Certainly made a din from half-way-through the second half and, as I say, helped to lift the atmosphere even further. Kids enjoyed ‘em…

If I was to sum up the game I think it would go something like this:

  • Chelsea had the majority of the first half, but notably began to fade a little on 35 minutes.
  • They were 5% bigger, in general; stronger and, I have to say, about the same percentage more organised than us too; dominating possession for large parts of the first 45.
  • Although some of the Chelsea lads had a lot of spirit, I would say, however, that our lads were 10% more committed and determined than theirs...AND fitter.
  • The ref had a 'mare of a match and...
  • ...the Under 18s can take corners!

Notable performances on the night came from our right-back Pablo Maffeo and right-winger Aaron Nemane, who won by a mile the award for most tenacious (if there had have been one of course). Deserved a goal for all his fine endeavours.

Although looking a little lightweight; central midfield playmaker Manuel Garciapushed further forward after the break – came to life and looked to have skill & flare.

But MotM for me was Captain Tosin Adarabioyo who had an OUTSTANDING game at centre half! He looked very alert, intelligent and composed under a lot of visitor pressure. In fact he and his central defensive partner Cameron Humphreys looked a solid pairing.

We did have key missing personnel, as was pointed out by my mate; in EDS pair Denzeil Boadu (midfield) and striker Thierry Ambrose, who I am assuming, by his comments, were eligible to play for the Under 18s in this one.

We missed several second half chances and 2-2 might have been 'a fair one' over all. Most certainly 1-3 wasn’t, as Chelsea grabbed a late 3rd.

All is not lost though – keep at ‘em as we did do in the second half and we can snatch this one in the return leg on 27th April ‘down there’. Well done to the club for informing fans that all who attended last night can get free travel to the away leg by retaining their ticket and going on to the club's WEB site!


And finally…

It’s no secret that we are most likely in the market for Pep Guardiola some time in the future as, I’m sure, are several other top, European Clubs. It’s all about timing with this fella and, I’m sorry to say, I can actually see him heading for Trafford rather than Manchester at some point should he choose England.

However – and for now – it would appear that to HELP with that 'possible timing', Pep has announced that he wants to ‘see out’ final year contract with Bayern and THAT, I would say, has ensured Manuel Pellegrini's stay at City for one last season at least - logic being that no other manager will touch us if they believe that they’re only going to be a one-season ‘stop gap’…and what good would that do us anyway?

Hyperlinks to be completed as soon as…

Sunday, 19 April 2015

West Ham United game predictions…

Okay, following yesterday’s “notice” I got a bit of time and Pellegrini’s pre-match press conference has come out in print, at least, if not in full on MCFCTV.

And so…

…my predicted starting 11, subs and outcome.











Hart to continue in net.

Losing both Gael Clichy & Vincent Kompany to injury means that Aleksandar Kolarov & Eliaquim Mangala fill the left-hand-side of our defence. Martin Demichelis & Pablo Zabaleta to provide security on the other side.

Pellegrini seems to prefer Fernandinho over Fernando and, I suppose, we are at home. The Brazilian, therefore, to provide that deeper, protective role. Ahead of him 4 attacking midfielders that should, on their day, absolutely rip anyone apart! Should…

With very limited strikers available to us – again through injury – I’m going for our manager choose just one…even at home. My only logic though is so that he can “change things” if / when needed.

What a story of injuries the bench tells…

The usual keeper cover of course and Sagna is no stranger to the bench either. Boyata, however, rarely gets a look-in these days and it paints an even more startling picture that he might sit there having only started training again on Thursday after an injury lay-off himself.

Fernando & Lampard provide the only central midfield cover; Pozo & Dzeko the only true ‘front line’.

Notable absences: Clichy, Kompany, Milner, Jovetic & Bony (all injured).

Result? Which Manchester City team will turn up, the one that beat Stoke away 4-1 and Newcastle 5-0 at home ten days later or the one we’ve mostly had to ‘endure’ since the turn of the year?

It doesn’t now help, of course, that we have so many key injuries in all departments; but we’re in danger here of getting our ‘Great unpredictables’ title back. Thank God I wasn’t able to do a Blog in the 80s & 90s!

On the erratic form we’re in - and being afflicted with key personnel absences - it IS hard to predict this one. We are at home and the players should be buoyed by the fact that with Arsenal being engaged in F.A. Cup duty this weekend and with Manyoo losing to Chelsea (I can’t believe I was having to cheer that result yesterday) we can close the points gap on Manyoo to just 1 (on the same games) and go within 2 of charging Arsenal (who will have a game in hand on us).

Psychologically we can also pull a 7-point gap away from Liverpool for a while too. It’s all there for the taking really and our players should get a sense of that.

However, Allardyce will be rubbing his hands at seeing the left-hand-side of our defence being marshalled by Messrs Kolarov & Mangala and will, no doubt, place great emphasis on attacking down their right. I wonder if our manager will see this and, instead, deploy a 4-2-3-1; with both Fernando & Fernandinho “protecting”; dropping Navas or Nasri to the bench?

With Southampton losing vital ground also yesterday it will be gut-wrenching if we can’t take advantage of this weekend’s ‘goings on’ but WITH the afore mentioned weakened defence and our current form; I just can’t look past a very frustrating draw I’m afraid.

I’d LOVE to be wrong…

Saturday, 18 April 2015


Due to no Club-released, pre-West Ham United, Pellegrini press conference for whatever reason - and then-later other personal issues - sadly there will be no pre-West Ham United Blog-posting on this occasion.

It would appear, by all accounts however, that we have several injuries in addition to Vincent Kompany heading into our home game against Sam Allardyce's men.

Fingers crossed, still, for a good game and result!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

On-pitch commitment & determination ratings

Much has been, quite rightly, talked about in recent weeks - and much more intensely so in recent days – about the attitude of our players.

So much am I starting to get peeved to say the least with mental approach from a lot of our players that I e-mailed the 1894 group recently to suggest a banner for the 4 remaining home games; thanking those players who give a damn whilst at the same time expressing that we are more than aware of players who don't. The suggested banner was to end with the words, “You know who you are…”

They thanked me; agreeing to discuss but said that it would be unlikely.


Out of 10…

So instead (although I’d already thought about doing this before contacting 1894) I thought I do a rating of where I thought ‘the players mentality’ lay.
I’m sure the results will come as little surprise to avid Manchester City fans but it should highlight (in red) at least just how many players should be got-rid-of for their lack of desire & effort on the pitch in the blue of Manchester. Of course others need to be shipped out for their lack of ability too…
On-pitch commitment / determination
Joe Hart: Never in question. If I thought it to be a good idea to have goalkeeper as a captain then England’s number 1 has some of the credentials, at least, to wear the armband. 9/10.
Willy Caballero: Not enough seen of him / can’t comment.
Dedryck Boyata: Although not played much at all this season I have seen enough of him in season’s gone by. Hasn’t got the footballing ability to remain at the club in my opinion but, to my knowledge, as never ‘gone banging’ on the manager’s door and never looks anything less than 100% in his efforts whenever his limited cameos crop up. 8/10.
Gael Clichy: I shouldn’t tar all French with the same brush…but what is it with the French? At times Gael shows such determination and passion it looks like he’s been at the club from being a teenager…and I will never forget the ‘slow-mo’ footage of the shear passion on the fella’s face when he hugged ‘our Joe’ after Sergio scored ‘that’ goal against QPR. Then there are spells where, like Samir Nasri, he looks like he’s not really that bothered; although I get the feeling that in Gael’s case it’s more an inconsistency in confidence / form that anything more sinister / deeper. For that, he gets a decent 7.5/10.
Martin Demichelis: Although he has lost his ‘hippy hair’, he sometimes has something of an hippy ‘air’ about him (see what I did there?)  He’s been there and done it, of course, and with age comes wisdom and a certain calmness. That can lead some to believe that players in this category have taken their foot off the accelerator in terms of desire. Not with Martin I don’t think. In fact I think he sometimes moans and remonstrates a little too much when decision don’t go his way. He’s a committed player alright. 8/10.
Aleksandar Kolarov: Don’t let this fella’s steely look fool you. You might think he’d be able to win a staring competition with a stone statue but his demeanour is just him being him. Not ONLY lacks ability at the level we’re at / try to reach but all too often, mostly as a defender, looks like he can’t be bothered to defend! 3.5/10.
Vincent Kompany: If only you could bottle and distribute it! Should bleed sky blue (and other clichés). 10/10.
Eliaquim Mangala: Almost falls into the category of Willy Caballero / not seen enough of. But we have seen just about enough of the French central defender to make a psychology judgement…and with Vinny now potentially out for the rest of the season we should be able to judge him [all-round] even more-so over the next 5 weeks / 6 games. Suffering the kind of ‘shock to the system’ the Premier League seems to be for the big guy; some would crumble and try to hide (not that there’s a hiding place on the pitch in his chosen profession). Credit, then, that he doesn’t try to [hide]. Seems very focused on improving himself. 7/10.
Bacary Sagna: Despite Pablo Zabaleta having a quiet season by his very high standards, this is another we’ve not seen too much of. However – and despite my previous French comment – the ex-Arsenal man has never shown anything less than him-being a true professional. Perhaps has some reason to pull out the ‘le-sulk’ and, so, credit to him that he hasn’t. For that he gets 8/10.
Pablo Zabaleta: Being almost 100% present season after season after season, a very long 2014 World Cup campaign and, more recently, a new born to deal with; it has definitely taken it’s toll on our right-sided, defensive stalwart. Not only has he lost a percentage of his effectiveness this season be he looks to have lost that mental edge too…but only a bit. This fella is already entrenched in my all time Manchester City 11 and so it’s with a slightly heavy heart that I can’t give him the same mark as ‘our skip’. However, I think you’ll find that most people on the plant would be happy with an enormous 9.5/10 rating.
Fernandinho: Huhhhhh… Bit of an enigma is this chap. Sometimes looks like he could cry with pride for the club…but all-too-little. Again, not wishing to ‘tar everyone’, he often floats through games in a almost-typical Brazilian daze; waking up in spells to, in my opinion, flatter to deceive ability-wise. Unlike (most) Argentinean players I do, as I say, personally find a lot of Brazilian players like this. 5/10.
Fernando: Looks to have more ‘hustle ‘n’ bustle’ about him…but only just. Similar to his longer-named countryman you feel that his ability would come out more if he showed more urgency more often. 5.5/10.
Frank Lampard: I’m betting if this had been done by a Chelsea fan last season or in seasons gone by ‘super Frank’ would be 10s all day long. And I’m betting no City player would fault his sense of determination on the training pitch and in the dressing room either and would also, therefore, give the ex-England man a 10. I can’t really fault the fella’s desire in a sky blue shirt either and perhaps the reason he doesn’t get a 10 from me is mostly coloured by / down to his aging body not allowing him to reach those dizzy height on the pitch for us; when stretching for a ball didn’t quite work out. Still…he gets a more than creditable 8.5/10.
James Milner: For a description read Vincent Kompany (above). 10/10.
Samir Nasri: I’ve already done the ‘French thing’ so you know what I have to say on this. What is it with Samir’s head? We were told that he needed a father figure and I get that. Some players respond to the ‘the arm around’ whilst others almost want to be given ‘the rocket’ periodically in order for them to perform. ‘Mr Lambikins’ missed his Arsene Wenger when he came to work for the rather colder Roberto Mancini and must have been jumping (like a spring lamb?) when he heard about Manuel Pellegrini’s traits [of being a very personable kind of boss]. And, sure enough, he had a very good season last…and a ‘not bad’ early season this time round too. Sometimes, in fact, he even shows the kind of gritted-toothed determination on the pitch that really gets the crowd going too. So what the HELL then goes wrong with him?! Now calling him, ‘Mr Self-destruct’; Samir seems to flick a switch and instantly looks like a moody child who has been refused a cône à glace! 5/10.
Jesus Navas: There’s a phrase in football that goes something like “…running for the shirt”. If only he could match his running desire with ‘end product’ ability because this Spanish flyer get a solid 8.5/10 for desire & determination at least.
David Silva: It’s always the quiet ones. More accurately, it’s always the quiet ones who get the best plaudits from ex-professionals for having the right kind of attitude. Not only does he OOZE class in footballing ability but his attitude and desire are never, ever questioned. Combining both - is this the “perfect player” to have in any side? 9.5/10.
Yaya Toure: Getting a bit scientific, I think we’ve just found our ‘polar opposite’ to David Silva. What an immense talent this monster of an Ivorian is! And, sometimes, he looks like he wants to tear his shirt off in pride before going on a marauding run; ripping through ‘the oppo’ like they’re not even there! However…he speaks French (look…it’s just an observation – nothing serious is meant by it). He either borrows Samir Nasri’s switch or has one of his own and when HE uses it, it seems to turn him from Dr David Banner’s alter ego into Mary Poppinsbut without the magic. This season (and the back end of last) the switch has been firmly locked in the latter position. 5/10.
Sergio Aguero: So similar in so many ways to my write-up about David Silva (huh…Yaya is most certainly a thorn between to gold-coloured roses here). When he cried on the Etihad grass against Everton after just 6 minutes or so of being badly (knee) injured, you knew that it wasn’t because of the pain. And I need to explain why this chap get 0.5 more than our Spanish midfield magician. It’s simply because he often ‘busts a gut’ largely without having any help ‘in his particular department’ on the pitch - it must be SO frustrating for the Argentinean battleship! 10/10.
Wilfried Bony: Seen little of him in a blue shirt of course…but just about enough to comment. Seems to have an excellent work rate and I think we’ll have a hell of a dangerous player / different option when things settle down for both him and his new team. Perhaps, at the moment, he’s been trying a little TOO hard to impress / score. 7.5/10.
Edin Dzeko: What’s the text speak? O…M…G! Never…EVER have I seen a player – certainly not for Manchester City (and I include Elano & Jo) – show such a lack of desire and utter contempt for ‘the shirt’ as I’ve seen from this excuse for a footballer! Not only does he have very, VERY limited ability on the ball but I am often left utterly appalled by his body language; more often than not even before the kick-off whistle has been blown. The frustrating thing? I have seen him have the odd game whereby he does look like he cares, which often results in him getting a brace of goals or better. So he DOES have it in him…and for that reason gets 1.5/10.
Stevan Jovetic: Nothing completely offensive from this guy in terms of a lack of desire – in fact he runs quite a lot whenever he gets his chance. I just feel, though, that an extra level of impetus would have done him – and us – a world of good. 6/10.
Jose Angel Pozo: Cannot fault him whatsoever when he came to the rescue during our ‘injured strikers crisis’ – there was a lot of pressure on his young shoulders too. 8/10.


So there you have it – of course the colours speak for themselves and although there are a few ‘grey areas’; it’s obvious that on commitment / desire / determination (call it what you will) alone there are at least 4 players who should be heading for the exit in the summer.
Chuck in a few more for their lack of ability and all-too-clearly has it gone from a summer ‘refresh’ to a summer ‘re-build’.
Huhhhhh…we’re well ‘n’ truly back on that City rollercoaster again, although this one, at least, has padded seats…

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Can it be 3 in a row? 3 points to City and 5 back-to-back derby wins?

I got 4 numbers in the National Lottery a week last Wednesday and on Thursday-just-gone I pulled the winner (for the 2nd year running) out of the hat at work for yesterday’s Grand National!

They say “things often happen in threes”…

I think key in this predicted line-up is, and not for the first time, will Manuel Pellegrini stick with his much-preferred 4-4-2…or will sense prevail for once.

I have no problem in suggesting that our manager sometimes show naivety because some of his decision making to stick rigidly to 4-4-2 has cost us so many times this season…and has most certainly contributing to such an underperforming season over all.

When he HAS finally changed it during games, usually on 70+ minutes when it’s way too late, it looks much better; the extra possession - something that he actually stated as being very important in part 2 of his pre-Manyoo ‘presser’ - proves to be key in improving our play / performance; certainly against stubborn ‘oppo’ who defend in numbers.

But I would hope also that in light of the fact that we only have one proper striker available in many ways with both Bony & Jovetic unavailable through injury…and the other 3 of 4 being a certain Edin DzekoAND with us being away from home at in-form Manyoo; surely our Engineer - with his own words of the importance of possession still in his throat – will go for a more-compact, counter attacking midfield.

This isn’t what I would pick (I did that the other day) but I’m going for our manager to show some nous this afternoon. He’s not going to drop Yaya Toure; likewise his beloved Jesus Navas and nor, sadly, can I see him picking James Milner and, so…











Subs: Caballero, Kolarov, Mangala, Fernandinho, Milner, Lampard, Dzeko

Joe between the sticks.

Like every other Blue, I’m sure, I’m hoping that Vinny will be fit. Our manager explained that he had a niggle which, although he could play through it against Palace last Monday night, had been assess throughout the week. If not, Mangala gets promoted to the first 11 and with no Boyata (through injury) also, Sagna to join the bench and be central defensive cover if required. As it is [in my predicted 11] that’s about as strong as it gets for us at the back.

I think our manager will go for the more-defensive Fernando over Fernandinho because, I hope, he’ll be packing an attacking quartet of midfielders between him and Aguero, with Silva the most advanced behind our lone Argentinean.

Big question marks over a few in there though:
  • Is Samir’s head right or will he feel the fever of a derby and in his seemingly-fragile state ‘go off on one’ and get himself sent off?
  • Will Yaya be up for the fight for once?
  • Will we see a rare end product to ‘run Forrest run’ on the right?
Notable absentees: Sagna…and both Stevan Jovetic & Wilfried Bony who are, as I say, both injured.

Result? It might sound like derby-day fence-sitting but I am going for a draw.

Away from home to a side who likes to attack might, in some ways, suit us. God knows we don’t seem to have the ability this season to break down stubborn sides who ‘sit’, which is probably why Brendan Rodgers chose the most defensive formation I have EVER seen a Liverpool team deploy at home…and it worked against us a few weeks back.

They are ‘in form’ and we are most certainly not. However, I’m sure – and I do get a sense of this from some of the comments I’ve heard from some of our players – that the very disappointing Palace result will act like a cold shower before this ‘6 pointer’.

Thatand if our manager ‘shows a bit of common’ this afternoon - might even see us take our 5th derby victory in a row. I hope so of course…but equally I will be satisfied with a good performance and a point.