Saturday, 16 November 2013

Comment: 10 point-by-point breakdown

Following the M.E.N.’s article on the ten things Manchester City have to do to win the Premier League title, as suggested in my previous post I just wanted to add my 2-penneth worth to each point raised.


THE latest news is that the skipper will be out for another three weeks, meaning he will miss home games with Spurs and Swansea.

That is not as big a blow as it might be, especially as City have won three of their five home league games without the big Belgian.

But they need him back for the two following games, difficult trips to Southampton and West Brom, and need to be able to count on him in the long-term.

The worrying thing is that he is not just picking up unlucky collision injuries, but suffering from a variety of soft-tissue strains and tears – both calves, groin and now thigh. He is a tremendous athlete, but that might be the problem – he is just too finely-tuned.

Well, of course. And do it right; no rushing back no matter how much we miss him when he’s out. Vinny seems to be breaking down more and more in the last 18 to 24 months; worrying for a footballer who is about to reach the supposed start of his footballing prime (28 to 32 for an outfield player so ‘they’ say) in April 2014 when he reaches 28-years of age.

I agree that Vinny pushes himself in every game and although straining every sinew for ‘the cause’ sounds like a great thing for any footy fan and perhaps even the Manager; clearly literally straining so much is having a detrimental affect on both him and the team in the long term.

Time for him, his Physio and his Coaches to have a re-think on his style / technique while he’s rehabilitating from his latest set-back.


The flying Spain winger was very much Pellegrini’s Plan B, something which eluded Roberto Mancini during his tenure as City boss.

Mancini wanted a pacy winger with crossing ability, and pursued Alexi Sanchez for that reason, although he ended up with Adam Johnson and then Scott Sinclair.

Pellegrini appeared to have cracked it, adding pace and width in one fell swoop, and Navas announced himself with a fine debut in the 4-0 win over Newcastle.

Since then, he has gone into his shell, and Pellegrini has reverted to Mancini’s tactic of using his full-backs for width. It flopped badly at Sunderland.

Yes! I’ve mentioned this before; that a lot of us were drooling in anticipation of what we were going to get from the speedy, Spanish winger. Not only do we like our wide men at City; I think we’ve all felt somewhat starved for a really good, direct, nippy one ever since Shaun Wright-Phillips departed.

Not sure why he’s not been picked more than he has - even when David Silva was out for the recent Sunderland clash he only came on after a should-have-done-better starting 11 [manager's personnel choice] and 1st half. What does he have to do to get in the starting 11?

Of course none of us see him in training and you have to trust the Manager. And, of course, with all 4 competitions on the go the season is still a very long one indeed. Keep it to yourself but I recon – with David still out – we’ll see Jesus start at home against Spurs a week tomorrow.

How often we’ll see him after that may well depend on whether he takes advantage of that rare start by, hopefully, showing a similar performance to the one he showed against Newcastle on the opening game of the season. I do have to ask though, having performed so well against the Geordie side why has he hardly featured since?


Obviously, the on-going absence of Kompany means this is not possible right now, and the Blues have also suffered injuries to Matija Nastasic, Martin Demichelis, Micah Richards and Gael Clichy.

But one problem with using full-backs as auxiliary attackers is that they need rotating more often than other positions, and leave space in behind during games.

City’s strongest back four is debatable, but Pellegrini needs to work out his best unit and get them defending, first and foremost.

Sunderland exploited Richards’ advanced position – and Demichelis’ lack of pace – to score on Sunday.

Agreed. And although this has mostly been taken out of our manager’s hands through injuries (and lesser performances this season [compared to last] so far from both Nastasic and Clichy it has to be said), I do have a few “whys” to chuck in - yes, a little bit of criticism for our new manager…

-          Why did it take him so long to realise that Garcia just isn’t a centre-half replacement? Huh…he’s barley a midfield stand-in!

-          Why is it taking him so long to realise that, for the most part, Kolarov is an appalling defender?

-          Why, when short in that department, did he not think earlier that Richards or Boyata would be able to provide better, more natural cover?

-          And talking of a settled back 4; why, at Sunderland, leave Zabaleta and Clichy on the bench (clearly fit) and play Richards and Kolarov instead?

Pellegrini has to at least take some of the blame under the sub-heading of ‘settled back four’ here…


The point has been made, and Hart has been taken out of the firing line for a few games, but he remains City’s best keeper. It would be hard on Costel Pantilimon, who has done nothing wrong, but you cannot afford to wait for your keeper to mess up before making a change.

Extending Hart’s spell on the side-lines could affect him in the long-term, and you can be sure he has been working hard and examining his game during his enforced absence, and will come back stronger.

Bit harsh on Pantilimon (as the M.E.N. have admitted) and opinion is very split amongst both professional / ex-professional footballers and non-pros / ex-pros as to whether Hart should have been dropped. Friendly or not, even Roy Hodgson chose not to play our Joe in last night’s 2-0 defeat to Chili; despite being fit and available for selection.

As much as I’m sure we ALL agree that Joe is a far better keeper than Costel, I’m afraid the “law” adage of ‘possession being 9/10 etc.’ should apply here to - it should boil down to ‘Costel has the jersey and what has he done (so) wrong to deserve dropping?’

Is it fair that Joe was allowed half-a-dozen or more mistakes (over approximately 12 months) before the decision was finally made to bring down the axe on the England number 1…and now some sit waiting for the Romanian to make just one ‘bad-un’ before panicking and wanting to snap Joe back in between the sticks in the blink of an eye? Those same ‘some’ are already saying that Costel should have done better with Sunderland’s goal…

Of course Joe will be working harder than ever in training; trying hard to ‘get back to basics’ and iron out whatever it is that needs ironing out. I’m not expert enough to know whether leaving him out for a longer or lesser time will help or hinder him further but I have seen enough of Joe’s character to know that whenever he DOES return we will get our old Joe back…and possible even an improved version too!


Joleon Lescott is clearly not fancied by Pellegrini, even though he formed a strong partnership with Kompany in the title-winning team.

Given that he is likely to leave next summer, and possibly in the January window if the Blues decide to try to get a fee for him, City need to identify a replacement now, and get him in as soon as possible.

The problem with shopping in January is the best players tend to be unavailable, but in the unlikely event there is a good, quick, comfortable, quality central defender out there, the Blues need to move for him.

Such is the pace of news and sport that, already, the M.E.N. have produced another piece quoting that Joleon (and Micah) will get their chance for both City and, therefore, England. And so perhaps Manuel isn’t so anti-Lescott after all…

I like him but unfortunately I also think that we are close to the end of the Brummie’s time at City. I can’t see him being offered a new contract and so if he doesn’t go for a small fee in January; it’ll be a very, very good freebie for someone in the summer!

Who to go for? The article hits the nail on the head when it suggests that the best of the best of the best are rarely available in January and so do we stick or twist?

We can’t just HOPE that this is the last of Vinny’s injuries this season and, sadly, I don’t think that it will be. That leaves us with 2 left-footed central defenders (a ‘no-no’ combination in modern footballing management); a 32-year old ‘cover’ purchase and other than an ex-EDS, bit-part player Boyata we have a small selection of ‘can play there if desperate’ options.

That’s scatty to say the least and it all screams at me, “YES! Go and get a top-quality central defender in January”. Good luck; over to you Manchester City scouts, Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain


Pellegrini told the media he has been ‘very happy’ with City’s away performances this season, pointing to the dominance they have had – both in possession and numbers of shots – in the games they have lost.

There are times when the message to the dressing room has to be different to that he is giving to the public, but this is not one of them.

Everyone who watched Sunday’s game could see there were serious flaws in the display, not least that Sunderland keeper Vito Mannone was not truly forced to work.

The fans are not mugs, so don’t treat them as such.

Totally agree. I’m starting to cringe when I see his all-too obvious ‘toeing the party line’ of being non-controversial. He has been clearly told to steer away from the Mancini-style (fair enough) but I don’t think he was ever that sort of person in the first place. Now, clearly with Khaldoon and the two afore mentioned Executives’ voices ringing in his ears; he’s gone way over the top and sounds ridiculous when trying to deflect or defend on (wrong) occasions.


The young England midfielder is still cautiously recuperating from his latest hamstring problem, and City are right to take it easy with him. But Javi Garcia, after 15 months at the club, still fails to convince anyone that he is of the sufficient standard.

With him standing in for Fernandinho, City immediately lost pace and dynamism in midfield, without gaining the nous and work rate Gareth Barry would have brought.

Rodwell is more of a natural replacement for the Brazilian and, although he still has plenty to prove, he would not have been worse than Garcia at the Stadium of Light.

Couldn’t agree more. His only failing is that he’s more fragile that Vincent Kompany and John Guidetti put together - only Scott Sinclair beats him to the ‘time spent in the rehabilitation room’ trophy.

Whenever he’s played Jack has fallen somewhere between a good, solid display to a rather impressive one. I for one, in fact, wasn’t aware of his thrusting-forward and finishing ability until last season.

Surely…SURELY a better option than Garcia!


You wonder just how much of Silva’s frequent injury problems relate to the fact that he is indispensable.

He finished last season in July due to international commitments, but was straight back into action at the beginning of this campaign.

That may have contributed to a five-game absence – including the uninspired draw at Stoke and defeat at Villa.

Since that lay-off, he has been involved in every game, including the League Cup, and maybe it is no shock that he has another muscular injury.

I’m guilty of not realising this (obvious now pointed out) fact and had I have been the Manchester City manager, I may well have contributed to his quite frequent breakdowns; due, mostly, to fatigue I’m sure. The problem is that he IS so vital for both club and country it’s hard for both managers not to pick him every, single game. ‘He makes us tick’ and ‘City missed that spark in the middle’ are constant phrases, amongst similar others, when referring to David.

They’re right. Although, as we know all-too-well, there are no ‘should win games’ anymore; perhaps the occasional home game where we…a-hem, SHOULD win; we should drop him to the bench to rest those little, magical legs of his. Huh…and then cue Navas as a first-choice replacement of course!


City could end up falling between four stools this season, as Pellegrini desperately needs a trophy to keep up with the quota set by his bosses.

But the Blues need to treat the domestic cups with respect without  risking important players too much, and they perhaps need to realise the Champions League is something to take seriously later in their evolution.

Focusing fire on the league, and seeing the cups as a bonus, would be wise.

Absolutely! Absolutely! ABSO-FLIPPIN’-LUTELY! I reiterate their words, ”…realise the Champions League is something to take seriously later in their evolution”.


Former United players have been having a field day against the Blues this season with Fraizer Campbell, Zoran Tosic and Phil Bardsley all scoring against them, while Wes Brown and John O’Shea marshalled Sunderland’s defence well.

Start to treat ex-Reds in the same manner as you treat the current Reds – and give them a good walloping!

Give them a good walloping, yes, but I can’t really take 'Point 10' too seriously or agree otherwise.

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