Friday, 7 November 2014

Video nasties

The way we’re playing at the moment there’s a good argument that all ‘arry had to do over the last few days leading up to our encounter was to sit his squad down in front of a TV and show ‘em the DVDs of our games against West Ham United, Newcastle United and CSKA Moscow…and then issue the message, “Go get ‘em boys!”

Predicting nightmare

It’s going to be a fairly brief one this folks (off for a small holiday very soon) and one that’s somewhat difficult one to predict. I’m sure Manuel Pellegrini is having an equally difficult time trying to work out what personnel to chose to face QPR…and just why he highly skilled, highly paid, League & cup-double-winning players are misfiring so very badly.

It seems the whole world knows now how to beat us at the moment; Sam Allardyce came out after the game at Upton Park and said that they had a plan to press the defence hard and, in particular, Eliaquim Mangala. CSKA’s Pontus Wernbloom also came out with a statement after their victory at the Etihad about how their game-plan was to hit us with pace on the counter attack.

In the first part of his pre-match interview yesterday our manager quite cutely responded to questions about us ‘being found out’ by saying that it’s easy after games to come out with these statements (adding a rather nice one about Allardyce not-having come out with such statements when being walloped by us as they were last season)…but I noticed that he it wasn’t mentioned that one of the CSKA lads did come out with a statement about our weak defence prior to the 2-2 draw in Russia.

In the days of video technology where every top club – and perhaps even not-so top ones – have a whole department dedicated to video research as part of their pre-match preparation; it’s hard not to display both your strengths and weaknesses in full, digital colour.

And, I suppose therefore, that when you are hitting a rough patch as we are doing at the moment (spin it however you want, Manuel, it’s 1 win in 5 that includes 3 loses and 2 of those at home) those failing are there for all to see in close up, freeze frame and rewind modes.

What you need to do as a manager / coach is to work on those, identify the issues and fix ‘em of course. And although I have no doubt whatsoever that our ‘Engineer’ is indeed doing just that; what concerns me slightly is that if other teams have found cracks in our armour the Chilean does seem just that little bit stubborn in not wanting to ‘change his ways’ – he often repeats that he / his team will “continue to play the way they know”…

v Queens Park Rangers

Loftus Road
With news that the, “only”, players not available are Kolarov, Kompany and Silva, here’s how I think he’ll line up the team today…












The theme, if you like, of this predicted line-up is, “To blame or not to blame”. I don’t actually know if, behind the scenes, Manuel is a ‘blame man’…I suspect that he isn’t really. But whether he admits it or not he must surely see that something is going ‘orribly wrong with our defence and, in particular for me at least, the left-hand-side.

I suggested as much in my last Blog about desperate times calling for desperate measures and following on from that, I’m going to suggest that ahead of Joe Hart in net we might see either Sagna or Zabaleta at left-back. Clichy seems so inconsistent and played SO badly against CSKA last Wednesday that I wouldn’t be wholly surprised at this happening today.

According to the manager he’s not on the list of unavailable players and so Mangala probably gets another chance to show some improvement and will be partnered by, I’m sure, Demichelis with the absence of our ‘skip’.

Fernando – who along with Hart, Demichelis, Milner & Aguero – came out of the CSKA defeat with anything like a half-decent report gets another go; and I’ve heard a rumour that Pellegrini is going to show even more trust in the misfiring, under-the-microscope Yaya by, perhaps, giving him the armband for the day. Could be a good tactic that…

We need some ‘craft’ and although he most certainly should have been the 3rd sending off on Wednesday night for a very petulant thrust-challenge on one of the Russian lads; I’m hoping Samir will ‘step up to the plate’ today. We need Milner’s work rate and guile today and so the increasingly ‘up & down’ Navas to drop to the bench.

Will Pellegrini “blame” Jovetic for two back-to-back, below par performances and, therefore, drop him for Edin Nigma? Well I have to admit that I am very disappointed that Stevan couldn’t make more of his recent opportunities. Personally I’d stick with Jovetic and would like to see him and Sergio create a good partnership…but I’ve just got a feeling that Stevan will drop to the bench for Edin. Huhhhh……

It’ll be good to see ‘game changer’ Frank on the bench at least.

Result? Before the season I had this one down as a tricky draw and with us in a state of…whatever it is at the moment, I was leaning all the way through Wednesday night and right through to yesterday afternoon towards that very outcome.

It’s all about “reaction”…and despite the fact that we will be without our influential Captain / best defender ON the pitch; I’m guessing that ‘words will have been spoken’ since Wednesday’s farce and that they will have been working harder than ever to iron out at least some of our creases. So much so, in fact…I’m going for a City win.

No post-match Blog on this one and with another international break coming up, it’s “next stop Swansea” on 22nd November.

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