Friday, 17 January 2014

Let’s stick one in the Ole!

In the old, often-predictable, “typical City” days that I’d like to THINK we’ve left behind; this one would scream the ex-Manyoo player (now Cardiff Manager) putting one over on us. Let’s hope I’m right about a change of wind; let’s hope it’s another 3 points against Solskjaer’s lot.

Blackburn summary

Another damp evening that got even wetter as the first half progressed saw a rather tricky 45 minutes for the most part. With no Nasri, Silva and Toure; most of our creativity had been stripped from the team. Milner tried his hardest down the left flank – he tried bloody hard in fact – but it was clear that he didn’t have that ‘something’ to unlock the Rovers defence when it came to the final ball or need to beat the last man.

Navas too was struggling a little bit at first to break ‘em down; even switching to the left and trying to unlock them down the middle at times. Their effort was excellent! But with [only] the rather immobile and defence-minded pairing of Fernandinho and Garcia behind them and both Clichy & Richards having to pick their moments to support any attacks on a greasy pitch; it was an understandably slow start opportunity wise on Wednesday night.

But patience and class began to shine through and once in front, you could clearly sense the inevitability. And with some second half tweaking it was certainly ‘game over’ before too long.


Nothing too much to do but he looked comfortable on a difficult wet night for keepers (and defender as a whole). 6.5/10


Had a good game both defensively and support-attack wise. Hope he regains his form but, like Kolarov as remonstrated; he might thrive on game-time to (re)prove his worth. 7

Struggled a bit on the wet surface – never turns gracefully but looked even more awkward on the damp grass. With rumours gathering about us signing Mangala in January, will that be his last game for us? 6/10

Seems to be suffering the Clichy bug a little. He was coolness personified last season but with injury-interruptions again this season; he’s looked a little out of sorts. On Wednesday I thought he had a dodgy first half...but then a much, MUCH better second; making at least two very good clearances. 7/10

Mr effort and Mr adaptable once again. Looked far more comfortable when he switch from the left to central midfield though. 7.5/10


Solid and as comfortable as always. Lost the ball a couple of times and a few misplaced passes but nothing too bad. Not sure why he was withdrawn. 6/10


West Ham made him look good in my opinion; Championship side Blackburn made him look a little more edgy. I’ll avoid completely slating the fella but he’s just not a very good player. Made at least one exceptional pass but, in general, he looks uncomfortable on the ball. If an 'oppo' player rushes him, he gets in a completely uncontrollable flap! 5.5/10


Our only real creative outlet on Wednesday put in as much effort as Milner (if not more!) in the first half and had an even better second! He has desire and energy to burn; a wing-version of Paul Dickov with skill! 8/10

Although from the subs bench he can be an impact player, often scoring a crucial, match-winning goal; when played from the start he often takes an age to warm up. He seems to take for ever to (literally) find his feet...and takes 7 or 8 shots to find his range (and the target). He was shooting VERY high and VERY wide at first but once he clicked…he CLICKED! His second half performance alongside Negredo looked much more natural once again (and at last!) and his finishing was sublime! What a strange man… 7/10

What can I say? Just excellent once again. 8/10

Regular readers will understand when I say…I can’t believe that Aleks has improved SO much that I actually wanted him to come on (wanting Garcia to come off instead of Fernandinho and wanting Milner to switch to the middle) but I did! And he proved, not for the first time, that he’s pretty good going forward down the left these days. Another excellent pass to set up a goal too! 7/10

49 seconds and 2 touches to get his comeback goal. 8/10

Debut…and looked completely unfazed. 7/10

v Cardiff

My predicted Pellegrini line-up…

Formation: 4-4-2









Subs: Pantilimon, Clichy, Richards, Nastasic, Garcia, Milner, Aguero.

What makes the 5-0 result against Blackburn Rovers even more impressive – despite them being a lower-league team of course – is that we did it with without Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nasri, Silva, Toure and mostly without Aguero too. Most of these players should start tomorrow.

But, it might surprise some to see that I think…THINK Sergio might start on the bench tomorrow; perhaps getting slightly more minutes than he did against Rovers. This, I think, will be to both ease him back in gently and, perhaps, to show some respect to Dzeko. Edin hasn’t done too bad at all and, in goalkeeping terms, currently ‘has the shirt’. I can’t see it lasting too much longer but, of course, that’s partly up to him…

Kolarov & Zaba back of course; Kompany too. Manuel seems to prefer Demichelis more than Lescott and Nastasic and so I think we’ll see the same back line as against Newcastle.

With no Nasri I think the midfield 4 pick themselves; despite Navas putting in a big shift just 3 days ago he certainly has the energy to do it all over again. The unfortunate James Milner should be back on the bench (but certain to get some game time against the Welsh side).

Front pairing as they were…but now with Jovetic also not far away from pushing for a place (fantastic!).

Result? The ever youthful-looking Solskjaer will certainly have them fired up for this one but I’ve no idea what he’s like as a Manager (other than hearing about his successes abroad). Regardless, this should be another 3 points for us.

Hope we don’t show Vincent Tan TOO much hospitality tomorrow; can’t stand the man…

Quick word on The Saints

Under Nigel Adkins Southampton did really, really well. When he was sacked and replaced by, for me, an unknown foreign Manager; I was with all those Saints fans - and others - who were horrified and gutted for the team (and Nigel of course) at the time.

But then Mauricio Pochettino came in and, yes with some money, changed the whole style of play and really, REALLY transformed the team for the (even) better! Well done him.

For a club like Southampton I was really chuffed for them…and even had them down as a top-6 threat this season.

Then it all goes utterly pear-shaped in a matter of days and I was disgusted to read that their owner, Katharina Liebherr, isn’t even interest in footy and now can’t wait to sell the club; following the apparent falling out and resignation of Chairman Nicola Cortese the other day.

With previous comments from Manager Pochettino apparently more than suggesting that he would leave should Cortese ever decide to pack his bags; all of a sudden it looked like the steadily re-building Club & team were about to spring a massive leak! All I could think about was them going on a slow but inevitable decline, just like we’ve seen with the likes of Leeds, Pompy, Blackburn and, in Scotland, Rangers (for varying reasons of course).

Utter turmoil appeared to be surrounding the South-coast club!

So despite the fact that the likes of Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw (to name just 2 growing stars) might now NOT be available for transfer; my heart was somewhat warmed by the fact that Mauricio Pochettino has stated, for the time at least, that he won’t jump ship and leave Southampton…and that he certainly won’t be disassembling his newly-built team. Again...well done him.

Thank the gods that we have sensible, long-term-thinking owners!

(Blog section slightly amended at 12:30pm on 18.01.2014 - apologies for earlier inaccuracies...that's why it's called Blue chews-daze!)

Quick add-on (18.01.2014): It's been interesting in the last few days about what result City fans want from the Chelsea v Manyoo clash on Sunday. For me it started on Tuesday when a red neighbour shouted over to me, "I bet you want us to do you a favour [and beat Chelsea] at the weekend, don't you?", to which I immediately replied, "Well a draw at least please..."

Opinion has since been both frequent and wildly different at work and in the pub:

* Somewhat reluctantly it has to be said, some Blues definitely want Manyoo to win
* Some want a draw
* A few - older fans I do have to make note - absolutely want Manyoo to lose completely regardless of the fact that our title-chasing rivals would take another 3 points towards possible glory

For the record I am firmly in the 'draw camp'. Why? Well if we beat Cardiff and both Manyoo & Chelsea only take a point-a-piece, we'll then be both 12 points clear of the Stretford lot AND will move 3 points away from Chelsea. Surely that's the best outcome all round, isn't it?

Secondary, I'll certainly take a Manyoo win - as long as WE win; we'll still be 10 points ahead of Moyes' men and then 4 points ahead of the Londoners too!

If you can get to watch the game today, enjoy!


  1. I thought we were pretty ruthless once we got going on Wednesday night, but it did take the best part of 45 minutes for that to be the case!
    Blackburn were neat, but didn't really pose too much of a threat on goal, but could consider themselves unlucky to be on the end of a 5-0 scoreline.
    I've got exactly the same starting XI and bench as you, Steve.
    Again, once we have finished with our full focus on Cardiff, an eye will be on the second leg against West Ham, and, I think several changes - Rodwell and Jovetic immediately spring to mind.

  2. Hi Colin... Yep, despite some excellent finishing from us, perhaps the 5-0 scoreline was a little harsh on Rovers.

    Yeah regarding the second leg against West Ham, I too hope we'll see both Jovetic & Rodwell start (or get at least get 35 minutes). Really looking forward to seeing Jovetic; I'm getting a little frustrated with Jack's never-ending injuries (not nearly as frustrated as the player himself of course who, it seems, works really, really hard to overcome his seemingly-endless niggles).

    Perhaps we'll see Marcos Lopes & Emyr Hughes get actual 'starts' on Tuesday night? Don't want to weaken TOO much of course...just in case! 8- )

    Perhaps more bench and game time for Aguero too...

    Thanks as always for reading & commenting!