Monday, 25 May 2015

Manchester City: End-of-season report.

So the curtain comes down on the 2014 / 15 season and already the lads are in North America to play two games against Toronto & Houston Dynamo, before taking in a fan-side-view of league-struggling New York City FC.


Yeah just what the lads needed after a 58-game season (including pre-season).


At least they’ve excused the Copa America bound, Argentinean pair Pablo Zabaleta and Sergio Aguero after their (also) very long World Cup campaign in the summer of 2014.

Best, worst and ‘other season bits’…

Player of the season: David Silva

Quite simply, “Where would we be without him?” I can tell you that we wouldn’t be Premier League ‘runners up’ and without being absolutely certain how his goals & assists specifically won us actual points in games this season; I recon he was instrumental in us getting a fair few wins and that without them we could easily have finished outside of the top 4.

12 goals and 8 assists on the face of it might not seem OVERLY impressive when you look at cold, hard stats and perhaps also compare him to other similar playing-position footballers in the division. But it’s my opinion, of course, and you’d just have to trust someone who has been to every league game this season, most home cup games and rarely missed an away game on TV; where I’ve seen this Spanish magician ‘pulling the strings’ ever bit as good as he’s done for us since he arrived in June 2010.

It’s even more impressive – and was even more important for us that David had such an immense season – when you consider that most of his midfield teammates get, from me at least, very average looking 6.5 / 10 markings. Had the lad from Gran Canaria had an 'off season' (has he ever had one for us?) and we would, as I say, have most likely found ourselves battling with Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Southampton for a Europa spot.

Runner up: Sergio Aguero

What a season! And when you add that he’s won the Premier League Golden Boot and that he’s achieved this amidst a severe-looking injury that took him 5 or 6 weeks to recover from and then a further few weeks / games to ‘find his footing’ again; I can understand people scratching their heads as to why I haven’t chosen Sergio ahead of David.

Well I’ve already given my reasons for choosing the Spaniard and believe me there was barley a blade of grass between them! A lot of praise goes to City’s back-room staff too.
They’d already changed - or ‘made additions to’ - Sergio’s training regime after last season’s apparent thigh and / or calf injury-issues, whereby he would do an extra warm up & warm down session more-so than the other lads. And that appeared to work. The injury against Everton at the Etihad appeared to be an over-enthusiastic stretch by our Argentine battleship rather than anything underlying.

But in addition it had been very recently identified that an additional change in diet would benefit him greatly also…and how right both changes in routine seemed to have been!

Like David, where would we have been – especially looking at his so-called striking colleagues – without Sergio? Where would we have been without the TWO of ‘em?! I dread to think…

A very close 3rd place: Joe Hart.

It’s tempting (although don’t tell him so-as-to rub salt into his subs-bench-wound) to give this 3rd-place award to Willy Caballero (or perhaps even Manuel Pellegrini for identifying ‘the need’) because the arrival of the Argentine, ex-Malaga stopper has worked WONDERS for ‘our Joe’.

It’s strange that a fella with such Vincent Kompany-like passion & determination should need regular nudges on his broad shoulders…but he seems to.

Nevertheless he had a fairly decent start to the season and then got better, and better, and better and down-right brilliant towards the end of the season!

A Premier League Golden Glove award capped off a most memorable season for England’s Number 1…it’s just a shame no-one brought it out onto the pitch on Sunday for him to receive it! It was great also to hear Joe praise the likes of Willy and the goalkeeping coaching staff in Sunday's centre circle speech after the Southampton win.

Most improved: James Milner

Do you know what…from his second season onwards I would have given him this award at the end of each season (I don’t recall doing a post-season piece like this in the last couple of years) and I would, therefore, have thought it impossible to award it to him again.

But the fella just improves season on season and, I’m really gutted to say, Liverpool (or whoever…but probably Liverpool) are getting one hell of a changed man since his Aston Villa days.

Always a runner and a battler of course; James has added intelligence, a level of pace, good passing and also goals to his game. At 29 he’s ‘hitting his peak’…and I’m hitting the desk at the thought of him not playing for us next season. I have it on fairly good authority that he is going, by the way…

Worst player: Edin Dzeko.

It took no time at all to pick this disappointment – his inability to control a ball in the main is matched only by his utterly appalling attitude.

Defenders of the Bosnian might point to 50 goals in 130 appearances and several assists, I’m sure, and I am even willing to acknowledge that he has been a scorer of vital goals at vital times and in very vital games. No less did he ‘pull us level’ against QPR in ‘THAT’ game…

But his stats definitely flatter to deceive.
He has scored braces-a-plenty, perhaps the odd hat-trick and even got 4 of those 50 in one game away at Spurs one season. But he hits dry spells only comparable to those of deserts around the world and he makes those barren spells seem even worse by his woeful contribution otherwise.

Apart from, perhaps, another hapless striker in Mario Balotelli; he’s the only City player, in fact, that I’ve able to so-easily read his couldn’t-care-less body language before the referee has even blown to indicate the start of the game!

I’m sure that if he leaves for a team who likes to play with two flying wingers who can cross a ball that he’ll be banging goals in at a right ol’ rate…and I for one can’t wait for that theory to be tested.

Most important game of the season: The defeat to Manyoo on 12.04.2015

After the charity-collecting – and then just annoying – craze of the “ice-bucket challenge” had died down; we City fans had been yearning for more than just a splash of cold water on the players in order for them to 'wake up' in our fast-failing season.

Having been (understandably considering the quality of the opposition) knocked out of the Champions League and then so dreadfully dumped out of both the League & FA Cups; we were then in serious danger of sliding down the table at an increasing & alarming rate of knots!

In our lead-up to this then-daunting prospect of a visit to Cold Trafford, our league form read:


Then came another bloody-awful L in that game in the Trafford / Manchester derby; a game that saw a lively opening 15 minutes – and a City opener – fade away in the all-too-familiar, lethargic & bewildering performance that we’d seen FAR too often this season.

But then this, it appeared, sprung us into life!

The quite understandable “if onlys” started, as we went through a 6-game winning run; 4 at home, 2 away; scoring 18 and conceding only 4!

I can’t see another, such important, season-turning game than the one at Scaffold Trafford…and we then had the added bonus of both the team from Trafford and Arsenal fading towards the end of the season. So it has to be...“Thank you Manyoo” for that 4-2 defeat in many ways!

Player's season ratings:

Willy Caballero:        6 / 10
Joe Hart:                    8.5 / 10

Gael Clichy:               7 / 10
Martin Demichelis:   7 / 10
Aleksandar Kolarov: 6 / 10
Vincent Kompany:   7 / 10
Eliaquim Mangala:    6 / 10
Bacary Sagna:           6.5 / 10
Pablo Zabaleta:         7.5 / 10

Fernandinho:             6.5 / 10
Fernando:                  6 / 10
Frank Lampard:        7 / 10
James Milner:           8.5 / 10
Samir Nasri:              6 / 10
Jesus Navas:            6.5 / 10
David Silva:               9.5 / 10
Yaya Toure:               6.5 / 10

Sergio Aguero:         9 / 10
Wilfried Bony:           6.5 / 10
Edin Dzeko:               3 / 10
Stevan Jovetic:         5 / 10
Jose Angel Pozo:      6 / 10

Far too many, very average 6.5s in the midfield there…

The Manager performance review:

  • Weakened the side too much for the League Cup / didn’t appear to get his side as 'fired up’ as he should have done.

  • So frustrating that I have to say “likewise” for the F.A. Cup too!

  • Despite very tough opposition; Pellegrini showed YET AGAIN extreme naivety time and time again in Champions League games; where 4-4-2 (and playing Dzeko) was largely our undoing… AGAIN!

  • Despite this being his second season in the Premier League; he showed a similar ‘lack of caution’ in certain games that cried out for a more thoughtful 4-2-3-1 / 4-5-1 / 4-1-4-1 formation. Where had our ‘Engineer’ gone? If there is going to be something that will be his undoing (and sacking in the summer) then this apparent lack of adaptability both in Europe and, now, domestic life also could be it. However…

  • …and I’ve seen very little in the way of praise for him here and since [his various faux pas]; he has more recently – even when he had the woeful Dzeko and recovered Bony available – gone for a variation of 4-5-1 and, I hope he notes himself, to great affect in the final 6 games of the season!

But there’s been little to heap praise on our boss this-season-round; unlike his first, tremendous season.

And if he DOES have a say in the incoming personnel - and I’d like to think that the manager of a team has done some scouting himself to a point and that he flippin’-well DOES get to choose who he manages and puts in his team – then this also doesn’t make for GREAT reading.

-        Willy Caballero has been a good motivational signing for Joe Hart; whilst only making 2 competitive appearances himself.

-        Whilst only making a disappointing (for him at least) 9 competitive appearances; Bacary Sagna has put in a season average 7/10 performance in his first (last?) season. Overall, though, you’d have to say this hasn’t exactly been a team-improving capture from Arsenal, despite him being ‘on a free’.

-        Martin Demichelis, quite simply put, has been Manuel Pellegrini’s bargain buy! A stuttering start to life at City to say the least; with Vinny’s ‘injury periods’ and Mangala’s ‘Start-stop-stop-stop-start-stop’ season, Martin has proven to be a vital cog at the back for us. Who’d have thought that?!

-        Does Eliaquim Mangala have a twin brother and, amidst the delay in his arrival, did he send him over first to 'bridge the gap'? WHAT a debut display from the Frenchman (or his brother) against Chelsea! Easily the best debut I’ve ever seen from a Manchester City player at least. So what went wrong? Why all of the nervousness and uncertainty? Sure he benefitted slightly towards the end when ‘our skip’ was out injured (again) but even in a slight week-by-week improving performance trend there were still scary moments of dithering from the big man. Has a LOT to prove and improve on…

-        Similar to his ex-Porto mate, Fernando joined us fairly late and has had a few spells out injured. But it’s taken him a long time to put in anything LIKE a decent run of performances and even those above-average displays came against ‘oppo’ at home where you’d expect him to dominate. Again, no real impact on improving the team and the jury is still very much out on this one.

-        How many times – and for how long – can you blame the World Cup heartbreak (not tiredness, which is understandable) for such a stuttering season? Fernandinho, for me at least, “DOES stuttering”! I find him to be very inconsistent indeed…and I still shudder when I think just how much money we spent on him pre-FFP. Another unpredictable season from the quietly-spoken Brazilian.

-        What a totally unexpected Pellegrini signing Frank Lampard was! It seemed inspirational at first too…and certainly got up the noses of a few in the footballing world. Then it all seemed to fade somewhat and get snarled-up in controversy with NYCFC. But then the ex-West Ham, Chelsea & England man put in some fine performances again, especially as we hit that 6-game run at the end of the season. 38 appearances in all competitions; 8 goals and 4 assists is not a bad Manchester City return for the soon-to-be 37-year old.

-        Has there ever been such a wasted talent in the speed that our flying Spanish winger, Jesus Navas, possesses? If he could make better decisions and / or simply cross far better then we’d have a diamond on our books. As it is, I’m sure there are a hell of a lot of City fans who won’t be sorry to see him go in the summer (and get replaced by someone more effective – is that player Raheem Sterling?)

-        Stevan Jovetic had a very good pre-season and had Manchester City fans almost drooling that this might be ‘his season’, following an injury-plagued first for The Blues. We saw flashes in the first few weeks…then we saw injuries mixed with performances where he simply failed to take his chances. And then that was it.

-        It’s difficult to judge with any HIGH degree of accuracy the Pellegrini-signing of Wilfried Bony. A trip to the African Cup of Nations was soon followed by an injury and then a lot of time to get back ‘up to speed’, which saw the season rapidly running out for him. But I personally have seen enough of the big man in recent games to be very impressed; as FOR a big man he is fluid, pacy, has lovely passing skills & vision, along with a quick-footed touch. He has a mean-looking shot on him too and I’m sure we’ll start to see the net ripple for the Ivorian next season. But it's very noticeably also just what a 'team player' he is; passing and linking up very well indeed with his teammates. This one gets the ‘thumbs up’ from me, despite limited game time.

So there you have it...and sadly there’s an awful lot of red & grey markers in there and very few in the way of greens. If Khaldoon Al Mubarak has a similar scoring system (I suspect it to be a bit more sophisticated than that) then our Manuel is ‘for the chop’ this summer!

As a long-time Blue, however, and including both Mancini & Pellegrini; I’m definitely a ‘glass half full’ and still very pleased indeed with our last 5 seasons of…

-        F.A. Cup winners

-        Premier League Champions

-        Premier League ‘runners up’

-        Premier League Champions and League Cup Winners

-        Premier League ‘runners up’

Okay we’ve spent some serious money in that time but a LOT of that, remember, was playing ‘catch up’ to teams who had been spending those amounts for SEASONSand who still are! Stick the completely unfair – as agreed by SO many not connected with Manchester City – F(not-so)FP into the equation and it’s even more impressive ‘in my humble’.

But whether or not that’ll be a factor our owners will include when deciding whether to ‘stick or twist’ with our manager remains to be seen. I personally think that with Pep deciding to see out his 1-remaining-year contract at Bayern, at least, that we’ll keep the Chilean for one more season…and I think that’ll be a good thing.

I can see us improving the squad-quality GREATLY in the summer and that our manager will engineer another successful season similar to his first in charge…and then we’ll be in the market for a replacement I’m sure.

I've had some formatting issues with this piece and some hyperlinks appear purple and not 'standard blue'...


  1. I think you are being very harsh on Fernandinho. Yes, he hasn't had the best of seasons. He took a long time to get over the WC, but has really improved over the second half of the season. And without him City would definitely not have won the PL last year. He was the reason that the likes of Yaya could bomb on without having to worry about what was behind him.

    1. I just look at Fernandinho and see him represent City of old. He sometimes has a really good game - often doing the quiet but very necessary work...and even chipping in with the odd goal or assist - but then and all too often has a really average one.

      I find his shooting mostly wayward and his worst quality is that, for a non-dirty player, he usually chips in with more than his fair share of reckless, silly challenges; often near our area giving away dangerous free kicks.

      At 30 I just look at this fella - and where we're trying to head as a team and club - and think we can do way, way better. If he can apply himself better AND FIND CONSISTENCY then he could be a good contributor to the team. I hope so but don't hold out much hope.

      Thank you for reading and for commenting!