Sunday, 9 February 2014

Glass half full or empty?

As with the Chelsea defeat, I was left scratching my head as to whether the callers, texters, e-mailers and tweeters into Radio Manchester were over-reacting or had valid, genuine concerns after the Norwich draw, which to a lot of us feels like a defeat.


Out of his hands

There’s seems to be a little bit of history repeating itself here. When Mancini went chasing a whole host of top-class midfielders & wingers and ended up with Javi Garcia and Scott Sinclair; whilst other teams strengthened considerably (not least Manyoo with Robin Van Persie) we struggled to progress and, of course, ended up yielding the league to Manyoo by a big points margin. We also failed in the final of the F.A. Cup...but that was largely due to a bizarre, abject performance on the day rather than any season-long issue.
So much did it annoy me that we had taken a few steps backwards in terms of personnel – losing de Jong as well as gaining inadequate players – that I mentioned it in part of a letter to Khaldoon Al Mubarak on 13th May 2013. In the (very) vain hope that he might read it, I strongly suggested that it should be Brian Marwood and his team [and not the Manager] who should get the flack (and possibly the sack) for their lack of positive outcomes when attempting to negotiate for Roberto’s summer targets. With the distraction of a less-than-harmonious dressing room too; this proved to be our undoing last season.
Are we seeing a mini-version of this once again?

How much is too much?

I think most of us agree that we shouldn’t be held to ransom by other Clubs (agents and players) and, clearly, Porto wanted too much for both Mangala and Fernando. But, and I know I’ve said this before, would it have been TOO hard to swallow to ‘push the boat out’ a little more for at least Fernando; a player who was out of contract just 5 months later? I mean…how much was it gonna cost us?
The reason I put the emphasis on just one signing possibly making all the difference is that we’re already starting to look a little jaded. Even the ‘reliables’ like Zabaleta and, largely, Toure look in need of a break. Navas too for all his efforts and apparent boundless energy is having slightly less of an impact. I have to make allowances for the fact that Negredo is still 'shoulder sore' (and he’s missing his partner, Sergio) but too many key players are not quite performing. Add that dip in form / fatigue to the injuries we’re currently experiencing and no WONDER we’re ‘wobbling’!
Having said all of that, I’ve heard that Fernando is out injured for Porto for a few weeks (and will now be signing a new contract with them to 2017 anyway…)

Zip it!

Mancini outwardly bemoaned the lack of signings at his key stage of team development and I’m sure Pellegrini is feeling the same frustrations over this winter’s mini transfer window. However, our current Manager seems to have been told to be a ‘good little boy’ on several fronts; no doubt being given clear instructions before he signed NOT to act / react like rebel-Roberto.
But I can’t help feeling that Ferran Soriano & Txiki Begiristain have ‘done a bit of a Brian Marwood’ here…

Back to the Norwich game

Well I thought the formation & personnel looked an exciting one against The Canaries but it just didn’t work did it? Hart had little to do, despite the goal being under threat on several occasions; not least near the end! But Clichy was AWFUL once again; his utterly bizarre inconsistencies continue…there’s something seriously wrong with the man! We really messed up not getting a left-back in January too – did we even try?
Kompany was holding the ship together as best he could under the circumstances and, as I say, Zabaleta did…okay. But how often do we see our Argentinean battleship just do “okay”?
Then we have Demichelis. Oh dear. He came in for some tremendous flack on Radio Manchester and rightly so. He’s just an enigma. £3.5M?, £4M?…£4.5M? for a fish out of water who, weeks earlier, would have cost us nowt. Sorry, once again…just how much did Porto want for Fernando?
Vincent Kompany - strong...he needs to be!
With Martin being as inconsistent as Gael – and with Nastasic having a performance transplant in the summer – just what is it again that Lescott has done so very, very wrong to warrant being given the cold shoulder by our manager?
Milner did okay and I was sure glad he was there and not the (injured) Garcia or fragile Rodwell. But like Pablo, James doesn’t do…“okay”.
Yaya looked largely worn out and for all his endeavours; Navas mostly had a frustrating time of it. Silva & Jovetic were ‘pulling the strings’ as best they could it just wasn’t to be on the day…and towards the end I was thankful for an away point.

Thick ‘n' fast…and important!

What’s slightly concerning for me is that so many players look jaded ahead of a huge fixture list of very important games – all of a sudden the League Cup final against 17th place league-strugglers Sunderland has a bit more of a bite to it…
And Liverpool are right back in the fight! I was guilty of ruling them out of the fight [for the Premier League] but not anymore. The only good thing with Liverpool going on a good run is that I recon Manyoo have absolutely NO chance of 4th place now!

In his hands

Hello? Is it me you're looking for..?
As much as Ferran Soriano & Txiki Begiristain may have made a ‘boo-boo’ in January, one thing Pellegrini DID have in his own hands was more control of his striking options. Apparent he was bemoaning our unfit Strikers recently. Erm…HELLO?! Guidetti? Remember him? The apparently ‘now fit to play’ striker who is currently sitting on Stoke City’s substitute bench?

Minimum standard

Anyway, confession time - and this is also where I stand on the glass half empty / full thing
Being one of those City fans who has seen crash, after nightmare, after terribly bleak dark times at City – and one who can see the steady growth of our football club as a whole – back in August I actually gave our team a ‘minimum standard’ for this season. With the amount of money spent and with a new manager to mould us, some might be shocked that I was willing to accept – as a minimum don’t forget – a 2nd-place finish in the league and the League Cup trophy adorning our fairly new cabinet. Anything more was gonna be a bonus for me.
What I didn’t expect is for that minimum standard to actually come true, which it just might now! I didn’t think, for example, that Pellegrini would actually take the League Cup too seriously and so I was going to be left disappointed on that front – disappointed because I’ve never personally seen us win this one and so I wanted us to go for it…
Although I was hopeful - and actually thought - that we had a good shout for winning the league, I always knew Chelsea would be our strongest rivals. They’re proving that more & more with each passing week and so us-finishing 2nd behind them is something that’s looking more than just a possibility.
I also have concerns about us not progressing in the F.A. Cup. Pitched against Chelsea again on 15th February and with key players still out injured for that one; the fixture sits just 3 days before the visit of Barcelonaand Pellegrini has already strongly suggested that he’ll probably save his strongest line-up for the Champions League clash. In that case...I think we’ll end up with neither of those by the time the middle of March is upon us.
So that very much LEAVES us with the League Cup (hopefully) and the Premier League itself. I’m still quite confident of us winning the league – and this is where I’m a ‘glass half full’ on this one.
Although yesterday’s draw was indeed a bit of a blow (and I did say that if we dropped any points from 8th February to 22nd March then we don’t deserve the title); we did gain a point on battered Arsenal. And if Chelsea do get past Galatasaray to face tough opposition in the next round of the Champions League and continue their F.A. Cup run past us; then they’ll have their hands full FAR more than we will.
And that’s how I think it’ll ‘pan out’…and it’ll be to our advantage [in the league] too.
League Cup
Premier League Cup
If so, I’ll get more than my ‘minimum standard’ for the season; by seeing the Premier League trophy sit alongside the League Cup come May.
That’ll do for me!


  1. I can't comment about the Radio Manchester phone-in following the game, as I usually switch off after the finish, as I've found it frustrating in the past to listen to some of the views put forward.
    Yes, we're all entitled to our opinions, but I am bemused at times, ditto some of the comments on social media. We didn't lose the game, and kept a clean sheet - I'd advocate that is a minimum requirement when it doesn't go our way.
    Pellegrini's comments do make you think that the emphasis will be on the CL game, yet ironically get past Chelsea in the FA Cup, and our prospects of going far look rosy.....maybe not so with Barca.
    We'll see. Wednesday and Sunderland is a big game now.

    1. Hi Colin... Regarding the F.A. Cup - exactly! Although I understand going far in the Champions League is good for our image as a 'global brand' (if that's high in the thoughts of the Board) and might bring in extra support (in more ways than one); the F.A. Cup is highly regarded abroad too.

      So I tend to look at it this way. What competition are we MORE likely to succeed in this season, the Champions League or the F.A. Cup? Easy...the F.A. Cup of course. If we had the possibility of doing a domestic treble - and the Champions League might stick a spanner in that chance - then I'd ditch the Champions League competition right now without a moment's thought.

      But I do get the feeling that Pellegrini has been told to give the Champions League high priority and, of course, he's a winner himself; he'll want to do as well as possible (and certainly won't want us to get completely destroyed by what is, after all, a top, TOP team).

      I hope we give a good account of ourselves against Barca...I just don't want the 2 very though games to stretch us SO far that it completely scuppers our chances of domestic success this season, especially after all of the tremendous hard work and fantastic performance that we've put in so far.

      Yep, Sunderland on Wednesday is a must win really!

      Thanks as always for reading / commenting Colin...