Monday, 4 November 2013

7! Seven goals and I missed it!

Okay, so I knew that with City being at home to Norwich City while I was on a short break in Edinburgh there was a good chance that I would miss a victory. In fact I was confident that I would miss a decent scoreline but…7-0! Now I have a small taste of what it felt like when City fans missed ‘The 10-1’ all those years ago…



It was pleasing to see so many different players on the score sheet and very pleasing also to have kept a clean sheet ourselves – Hart wasn’t the only Manchester City goalie having a rest last Saturday afternoon though by all accounts.
It was pleasing to read a text from my mate [who went with his partner in my place] that we should have had 10; adding that Norwich were allowing us SO much room to play it was like a training match. Another friend added that we had played some very fine football indeed. I watched the highlights the following morning.
Pleasing too is the goal different over the other teams. We were already near the top of the pack in that respect; Arsenal are now the closest with +13 to our +17 and Manyoo? +4 in still in 8th. Just thought I’d chuck that one in…
Home form reads a very pleasing and impressive…
P          W         D         L          F          A
5           5          0         0          20         2
… and so "IF ONLY" are the words that scream out when you think of Aston Villa and Chelsea away. I can’t argue with the Cardiff City game; they deserved that one (although we should have done better).
But for the high possession that we had at Villa and then self-destructing both there and at Stamford Bridge more recently; it has robbed us of a very much ‘should have been’ extra 4 points. We'd have been sitting 2nd now; 2 points off the top and 6 points ahead of Manyoo going into a run of home games in November/early December.
But enough of ‘what ifs’; in sharp contrast to the previous weekend we’ve…
That’s a much better weekend…and one we have to follow up with a potentially tricky tie at one of our least favourite venues down the years in Sunderland. It’s another ‘must’ because our only away fixture of the month also sees our fellow, early challengers ALL with ‘should win’ fixtures:
-          Chelsea at home to West Bromwich Albion
-          Everton are away...but at ‘lost 9 from 10’ Crystal Palace
-          Liverpool at home to a struggling Fulham side
-          A fine-looking Southampton side at home to Hull City
-          Tottenham, who SHOULD see off Newcastle United on their own patch
Only the Manyoo v Arsenal game looks more like a fixture where they might share the spoils and, for me, that would be the perfect result.
I say again though, a win at Sunderland is a must.

Before all of that…

…is another venture into all things Champions League. It’s another game I’m going to miss; regular readers may recall that I’m on dog-calming duty that night with it being bonfire night. Great…
A win against CSKA Moscow and that sees us through already! We could lose the last 2 games at home to Viktoria Plzen and away at Bayern Munich and still go through on the ‘head to head’ rule. If you finish on the same points as another team, I am reliably informed, it goes off how the 2 games went between those 2 teams. As I say; beat the Russian side tomorrow and we’re through. (Slight amendment-update: It also goes off goal difference and so although there would still be a chance of CSKA finishing above us even if we win tonight; I think the assumption here [from my source] is that we'll be out of site on that respect too).
Assuming we’re not entertaining the thought of going through the group stage as group winners ahead of Bayern – and if we do beat CSKA tomorrow – it would be a real boost to our Premier League campaign. Obviously we could then rest key players ahead of Premier League games. Who knows, perhaps we could even see some EDS players and perhaps even a recovering John Guidetti get a shot in the ‘big competition’ (assuming he’s been registered for this stage of course – I dunno to be honest…)
Possible line-up v CSKA:
No real surprises - I think he’ll go for a strong line-up (apart from Kolarov giving Clichy a rest) for this one, just to make sure and “finish” the job.


The Manchester Evening News recently did a short but informative piece; listing the cost and contract lengths of our players. Forgetting the contract lengths for now, here’s a copy of what they published:
Fernandinho (Shakhtar Donetsk): £30m
Martin Demichelis (Atletico Madrid): £3.8m
Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla): £16.4m
Jesus Navas (Sevilla): £14.9m
Costel Pantilimon (Politechnica Timisoara): £3m
Javi Garcia (Benfica): £15.8m
Matija Nastasic (Fiorentina): £12m (plus Stefan Savic)
Jack Rodwell (Everton): £12m
Gael Clichy (Arsenal): £7m
Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid): £38m
Edin Dzeko (Wolfsburg): £27m
Samir Nasri (Arsenal): £22m
James Milner (Aston Villa): £26m
Yaya Toure (Barcelona): £24m
David Silva (Valencia): £24m
Aleks Kolarov (Lazio): £16m
Joleon Lescott (Everton): £22m
Gareth Barry (Aston Villa): £12m
Pablo Zabaleta (Espanyol): £6.5m
John Guidetti (MCFC Academy)
Dedryck Boyata (MCFC Academy)
Joe Hart (Shrewsbury Town): £100,000
Micah Richards (MCFC Academy)
To add my little bit, here’s what I think the Value For Money has been on all of those listed from a score of 0 to 10; baring in mind price paid verses performances / contribution:
0 – Terrible…..5 – Average…..10 – What a bargain!
Fernandinho              -           5/10
He’s okay but we could have got better for £30M.
Martin Demichelis     -           7/10
Too early to judge accurately; seems like a quality, experienced addition to the squad.
Stevan Jovetic           -           2/10
So far anyway, but not his fault; has been injured for the most part. I’m sure he’ll be a diamond.
Alvaro Negredo         -           7/10
And can only see him getting better…
Jesus Navas              -           6/10
Hard to judge when he’s not played much. For the quality I THINK he has; £14.9M is a bargain by today’s prices.
Richard Wright          -           5/10
Never played but can’t argue for a highly experienced cover who, no doubt, is contributing to the coaching side too.
Scott Sinclair          -           0/10
Scott would have suited City in our Pre-Thaksin Shinawatra takeover days. We’ve moved on massively since then and injuries aside, he was never going to have the kind of quality required to break into and then sustain a run in the side. It was a panic buy…and he’s now currently helping to fill the West Bromwich Albion treatment room…
Costel Pantilimon     -           9/10
For the price, we have a quality keeper who has never let us down whenever asked to come in.
Javi Garcia                 -           1/10
He was always Mancini’s 3rd choice, defensive midfielder and another panic buy. How he recently gained another cap for Spain utterly astonishes me. £15.8M for someone who doesn’t look much better in midfield than he does looking terribly out of sorts in defence as he does is an appalling waste of money (but not the worse, which is yet to come…)
Matija Nastasic          -           8/10
The speed and ease of which Matija settled into Manchester City and the Premier League life was remarkable for someone so young. He had a crackin’ 2012/2013. A little more jittery from time to time this season so far but the defence as a whole, of course, hasn’t looked settled. We’ve got a long-term diamond on our hands here…
Jack Rodwell             -           4/10
When fit Jack as showed some real quality and if he can get over the underlying issues that are plaguing him; like Nastasic we’ll have a long-term, quality player on our books…and one who, I’m sure, will shine for England too. Would have given him a higher VFM score if he’d have had less injuries.
Gael Clichy                -           8/10
Referring to Nastasic once again, Gael’s performances this season have been slightly below his own high standards. It’s only for this reason that he doesn’t get a VFM score of 9 because, at just £7M; he has been one heck of a player for us.
Sergio Aguero           -           9/10
Only misses out on a VFM score of 10 because of last season’s dip in scoring form. But he wasn’t alone and this guy oozes quality and determination. I was literally praying for us to sign him in 2011 and had him as a screen saver in an Atletico Madrid shirt (I’d never done that before). I then tried it with Falcao more recently but it didn’t work…
Edin Dzeko                -           7/10
His goal return hasn’t been too bad at all and he has scored some very crucial ones too! Scoring at vital times in vital games has probably nudged him from a 6 to a 7 because he contribution otherwise can be truly awful, especially when his head drops, which happens all too often and really bugs me!
Samir Nasri                -           7/10
Almost as bad as with Aguero; I yearned for us to sign this guy – especially as I knew that plenty of Manyoo fans who wanted him for themselves (and were gutted when we got him). I saw Samir as a high-quality addition to our already impressive and creative midfield; a real cherry on the icing-type player. And what a first season! So the French international only gets a 7 not for the £22M spent but rather the poor second season and indifferent (but improving) 3rd season-so-far. Should improve and for that price his VFM could easily hit 8 and possibly even a 9.
James Milner             -           3/10
What a quandary I was in giving this score. I was quite excited when we first signed him, as I saw him as a dependable, flexible and all-round strong player to add to our improving squad – he was ‘different’ to what we had in Yaya and Silva (and later the incoming Nasri). Then I went through a period of, “What have we signed here?” He had pace and energy but that was it. He couldn’t pass particularly well, I didn’t see him as a tackler and he didn’t even wade in with the odd goal. He was a nailed-on VFM 0/10. But then he improved…and improved…and improved even more. He is, in my opinion, unlucky not to have played more games and that, sadly for him, is resonating into this season too; after a brilliant pre-season I have to add. But despite his vast improvements; at a whopping (and David Silva-busting) £26M, I just cannot justify giving him more than a VFM 3.
Yaya Toure                -           8/10
At times languid; at other times devastating. After a few games I was wondering how on earth this player ever played for the mighty Barcelona and, like many, I couldn’t gauge where his best position was. Wrongly, at one stage, I’d settled for his best position being a deep-lying, defensive midfielder who ‘mopped up’ and sprayed the ball about for others to maraud forward with. That, after all, was his main role in Spain. But blimey how I’ve changed my mind! Letting Nigel de Jong go was a double blow at first as it upset the ‘Yaya balance’; in-him not being able to bomb forward as much as he (now realising) needed to. If it WASN’T for his occasional spells where he goes missing he’d be a solid VFM 9.
David Silva                 -           9/10
Nothing much needs saying really. I can’t pay a higher compliment than saying, “He makes us tick”. Little injury niggles and spells out with (mostly national team-related) fatigue, he’d be a VFM 10!
Aleks Kolarov            -           0/10
Literally from the sublime to the ridiculous. To all those who have seem him…”play” regularly, I say, £16M. That’s sixteen…MILLION…Pounds Sterling. I may have put 0/10 but his VFM should actually read, “OMG”. He cannot tackle, his positional play is AWFUL, he has no right foot, can’t turn quickly and has very little in the way of pace. Some would say that he’s really good at free kicks – I would ask those to make note of who now takes most of our free kicks (and perhaps why). He’s…okay at them I suppose and has scored a few beauties. And the best compliment I can give him is that he’s not terrible when being asked to play left wing. But by no means do those very weak ‘plusses’ even nudge him up to 1/10 on the VFM scale.
Joleon Lescott          -           6/10
Most like him; I do too…but unfortunately the 2 who don’t appear to agree just happen to be his previous and current Managers. For me he’d get a higher VFM rating but he’s just not getting many games and so slips from a 7 to a 6. Shame.
Gareth Barry             -           7/10
Similar to the James Milner story for me; I was reasonably excited to be getting the England international and after a period of doubt; I saw a steady and long-lasting improvement. He, in fact, became the anchor for Yaya & Co. and it worked well. I wasn’t alone in being disappointed in seeing him being loaned out to Everton a few weeks ago and I’d go as far as saying that I’m sure certain away games would have worked out differently if he’d have been in the mix – THAT’S how important he became for us (and perhaps it is also colouring my view of the £30M man, Fernandinho a little).
Vincent Kompany     -           9/10
Simply put, the only reason Vinny doesn’t get a 10 is because of the recent (going back to the 2012/2013 season) injuries.
Pablo Zabaleta          -           10/10
For the price, this guy is phenomenal. He was good when we got him and has just improved so much. Like Milner I’m sure, if asked, he could play every game he has so much stamina – and he’d also run through brick walls if asked to! A huge compliment is that he has had his praises sung many a time by a certain Mr Neville.
John Guidetti            -           Manchester City 5/10            Feyenoord 10/10
I can’t put him at a zero VFM rating because he cost us nothing and has been nurtured through our EDS for many years. He’s also scored bags of goals for our second string side. Feyenoord then got a whopping 20 goals and several assists from him in just 23 games (hence the, quite rightly, 10 rating for them)! Then he got that terrible virus and the rest is a sad history. Fingers crossed that his Manchester City VFM will improve and soon.
Dedryck Boyata        -           6/10
Again, another one who cost us nothing. And although he’s not played many; I have to give him one more than John because he has, at least, played some first team footy. And he’s not bad either…
Joe Hart                     -           10/10
Recent critics might want to take a look, at least, at the fact that Joe is the only one who shares a 10/10 with our Zaba. £100,000?! Excuse me?
Micah Richards         -           9/10
Cost us nowt; has given us so much. How unlucky that he has Pablo in front of him (and struggles for similar reasons for England). Went through that dicky spell where his went from agile athlete to rugby player stature but has reduced his bulk a little bit since. During the same spell apparently Patrick Vieira once asked him what he wanted out of football and when Micah replied something like, ‘I want to play regularly for both Manchester City and England’ Patrick asked of him, “Well why are you always the last to arrive and the first to leave training?” Like I say, Micah has turned it around and is right back on track.

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