Wednesday, 25 February 2015

4-4-2 again…

…from our manager against formidable opposition. Will Manuel Pellegrini ever learn?

Pre-match optimism wiped out in seconds

I was sat in the pub before the game when a Leeds United fan pointed my attention towards the television, as the evening’s team line-ups were being scrolled across the bottom. Aguero & Dzeko? And within an instant I was wondering why I was spending £45 to watch my team, most likely, get completely and unnecessarily overrun.

But I was wrong. Not only were we completely overrun; we were utterly outclassed, outplayed, outthought and outpaced by a far, far superior team. Only David Silva and the afore mentioned Sergio Aguero looked anything like being able to compete with the class the Spanish side possessed…and it only served to back up what I’d been saying for some considerable time, which was that we are a good way off joining the REAL top sides in Europe.

F(not-so)FP shackles loosened in the summer, we need to strengthen much better than we did in the summer of 2014.

But it’s not all lost; there were some positives. Still a class or two below our opposition we stepped up a gear in determination, at least, and had an as-semblance of organisation in the second half. And whether or not we were also helped by a team who just couldn’t quite keep up the same level of destruction as in the first 45; we began to press them a little…or at the very least ‘hold our own’. We created chances – Dzeko should have scored – and eventually cracked them with a brilliant Fernandinho / Aguero combo.

With Joe saving a last minute Messi penalty and with Yaya available for the second leg...and IF Manuel Pellegrini goes an attacking 4-5-1 posture then we might, just MIGHT do enough to progress. It’s unlikely that we’ll get the 2-0 or 3-1 win we need at Camp Nou but stranger things in football have happened.

Well done City for another attempt to create a good atmosphere; by not only providing everyone with a flag but also by clearly listening to comments from a City Voice survey just days earlier. In fact, I have to note, on the question, “What songs should we play in the build-up to kick off”, I’m not sure if I was the ONLY one to complete the survey but they played all the ones I suggested! It was like my own, personal Manchester City Jukebox!

And well done Barcelona fans. As they did the last time they visited the Etihad, they supported their team without both an 'air of aggression' that some other European Teams sometimes bring away with them…and for not keeping up a terribly annoying drum-beat chant throughout the whole, flippin’ game! I do quite like the 'rhythmic thing' to be absolutely honest…it just gets a bit irritating for me when all we can often muster is a half-hearted “We’re not really here” or rather feeble “Blue Moon…”, which you can barely hear above the incessant din of a jumping, drum-pounding away section. They gave us a chance on Tuesday night and both set of fans supported their respective teams very well indeed.

And apologies to all within earshot towards the end of the game. As Barcelona started to, in my opinion, unnecessarily resort to a few dirty tricks, alcohol and my frustration boiled over a little; as both my volume and choice of language erupted somewhat for a brief time.

Learn…but forget and move on quickly.

Back to the far more important issue of the Premier League on Sunday – considerable time to recover and be ready to face a still-difficult trip to 6th place Liverpool.

Should he go 4-5-1 there? No I don’t think so actually – there’s a time and a place for that. He most-definitely needs to drop his stubbornness and learn ‘when to’…but it’s not on Sunday.

Personally, and despite Dzeko’s very good performance against Newcastle, I’d unleash Bony (with Aguero) against Brendan Rodgers’ men from the start. Even though it’s VERY early days, these ‘bit part’ games aren’t doing the Ivorian any favours; he needs to start with the pace of the game for once and to get on the score sheet BEFORE this becomes a ‘pressure issue’.

And the likes of Chairman Khaldoon, Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain need to look at our game against Barcelona and learn too; learn that if we have another summer of mostly mediocre purchases that don’t improve us very much at all then we will not be fulfilling their dream of turning us into a Champions League challenging force any time soon.

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