Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Frustrating opportunity missed

Well I think the players, the Management Team and all City fans alike would like to get the irritations of the Burnley game out of our system as soon as possible – I suppose that’s ONE good thing about such a packed fixture schedule.


As one Manyoo fan informed me at work yesterday, only Arsenal came out of the ‘2 games in 48 hours’ thing with maximum points and so at least we can share annoyances with quite a number of other teams – misery loves company…

So what DID go wrong? Well I was there, of course, and…well, we simply didn’t come out of the traps in the second half and Burnley did. While The Clarets looked like they’d had an injection of something good at the interval, we looked like we HAD some claret, had a little snooze and were-then struggling to wake up from our slumber!

All the players struggled and then faded further in the second half - and as some of the players weren’t exactly starting from good positions in the first half anyway (I’m thinking Kolarov in particular here) - there were some woeful performances when you look back at the whole 90+.

I don’t want to particularly overstate our loss; we didn’t play terrible and we most certainly bossed large parts of the first half once Burnley had a decent 10-minute pop at us. But it is, however, a little concerning that Sean Dyche can pick the same 11 that battled Liverpool just 48 hours earlier and then see his men run and run with Milner-like energy as we, in comparison, looked a little like stuffed turkeys.

Hart’s having another “moment” it would appear. Following his fumble at The Hawthorns Burnley’s first goal should have been stopped by Joe. It was soft. I’m sure he’ll get another crack against Sunderland tomorrow but with Willy no doubt getting a run-out against Sheffield Wednesday in the F.A. Cup on Sunday he’d better up his game against the Mackems.

Zaba was slightly off by his standards and after some very good performances, Demichelis (or “De Michaels” as our taxi driver called him on our way to the ground) had a lesser game too; although was probably the best City defender on the day. Mangala looked, not for the first time this season, rattled and out of sorts most of the time - his (very) slow improvement of late took a shuddering halt that’s for sure.

Huhhhhh…Kolarov. I’m sick to death of moaning about this fella. I mean, it was hardly his ‘comeback game’ was it? Since his fairly lengthy time out with injury he had a full game against Palace and then a 28-minute go against WBA. So why so rusty? He looked awkward on the ball either attacking or defending, his passing was woeful and decision making non-existent! The guy, for the most part, is a complete clown! Very generous of the M.E.N. to give him an “average” 5/10.

Fernandinho had a decent game and, unlike his colleagues, steadily grew into the game. City’s MotM for me. Fernando, however, looked jaded.

Navas was his lively and dangerous self in the first half and like James Milner; he USUALLY has the staying power. On Sunday, however, he didn’t.

Nasri was fairly decent and was probably our second best player on the day; Silva had a poor one in general and, by his very high standards, a shocker! His passing radar in particular had short circuited in the cold December air…

Milner’s endeavour was there for all to see but even HIS sharpness looked to have been blunted; he was certainly less effective than of late.

So I was looking to our subs (Jovetic, Lampard & Sinclair) to inject some much-needed thrust to our ailing second half performance. Nothing – they looked as out of sorts as the rest.

I do give Burnley credit though – they were up for it and apart from not looking like a side packed FULL of class; they did zip the ball around with confidence and it wasn’t ALL about ‘the running’ from them. A draw, it has to be said, was a fair result.

Moving on…

Hopefully a good combination of hydro-tanks, oxygen tents, some rest and a good couple of training sessions will get us back on track. They cannot grumble at all either – while other teams are travelling all over the country in whatever weather conditions during this busy fixture period, our lads have been - and are still firmly - entrenched on home territory. No excuses.

We do still have injuries to some very key players of course and for that I do have to make allowances [for our Sunday blip]. And with those absentees in mind, here’s my last predicted line-up, subs and outcome of 2014.

v Sunderland











Subs: Caballero, Kolarov, Zabaleta, Boyata, Fernando, Lampard, Jovetic

Hart to have his last game before, I’m sure, a Sunday on the side-line.

Although our manager sees the Frenchman as more of an away left back in his ‘rotation of’; Gael to come in after an poor showing from Aleks. Similarly, I think Bacary will step in at home for the somewhat jaded-looking Pablo. Eliaquim and Martin to continue in the absence of Vinny, who looks to have stalled in his rehab.

Fernandinho will probably get rewarded for a decent display against Burnley; keeping Fernando on the bench for this one. He’ll be providing the cover ahead of rested Yaya and the ‘go again’ trio of Samir, David and Jesus.

With 3 days rest, that’ll be all James will need to be back to his lone-line-leading role once again; as the recovering Stevan sits on the bench once more.

Joining Fernando and Stevan is F.A. Cup-assured Willy, Aleks, Pablo, central defensive cover in Dedryck & ‘Lamps’.

Result? We’ve had our disappointment and although I’m going for an early scare as some doubts linger in the minds; I’m going for quite an emphatic, “Happy New Year” win here!

I’m going away for a few days soon after this game and so they’ll be no post-Sunderland Blog entry and no pre-Sheffield Wednesday posting either; a game I will sadly miss.

Thank you, as always, for taking the time to read - please feel free to pass this Blog on to fellow Blues and have a GREAT New Year’s Eve and 2015!

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