Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Some thoughts…

…following the Chelsea game (sorry for the delay) and the end of the transfer window.

Much better…but left slightly irritated

“Better” was the theme in my head after the 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge last Saturday; a result – and a performance - that I was most pleased with. And so…why irritated? I’ll move onto that shortly.

BetterManuel Pellegrini’s decision to go 4-5-1 from the start. And seeing as his tactical nous had been questioned in many quarters of late; the unforced decision to go with Sagna and not Zabaleta, whatever his reasons were, show any doubters that he doesn’t just chuck pretty much the same formula into each & every game regardless.

Better – Not his best game by a long stretch but certainly an improved one from Vincent Kompany following his injury and quieter season so far.

Better…from Bacary Sagna. The ex-Arsenal player hasn’t exactly had any particularly bad games in a blue shirt and if anyone had indeed questioned the French right-back, then I feel I would have leapt to his defence in that he’s hardly had a look-in since his arrival; far less than I expected him to following Pablo Zabaleta’s long-running World Cup; and so a lack of game-play doesn’t exactly lend itself to good performances when called upon to step in for Zaba. On Saturday he had an 8/10’er.

Better…from Fernando. There were a couple of moments in the first half where I recall ‘cringing’ (can’t recall exactly what they were to be honest now) but he was visibly far more assured. Hope that continues.

Bettermuch better from Fernandinho; a very good all-round performance indeed where he defended and helped to attack well in equal measures. Like Fernando, I hope he too can find some consistency.

Apart from his still-horrible crosses for the most part - particularly that awful, AWFUL pathetic excuse for a corner in injury time where we were pushing hard for a winner; where he could have lofted in a ‘beauty’ for one of our players to get on the end of (leaving me beating the arm of the settee in frustration) – it was much better from Jesus Navas in general. He was a right-sided thorn in Chelsea’s side and worked with Sagna very well indeed.

Better…to from the regaining-his-sharpness Sergio Aguero. He’s shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear now…

So having watched the whole game on TV at home with the now-usual sound turned down listening to the DAB radio delayed by 11 seconds, to listen to coordinated commentary from Radio Manchester’s Ian Cheeseman and Fred Eyre; I then had to listen to ‘the’ most baffling flood of apparent Manchester City callers (I swear the first one was a red) bemoaning the fact that we “only” got a draw that that our manager was way, WAY too negative.

It lead me to not-only send a txt into the show expressing my astonishment at fans reactions but, the following day, posting this on a City forum:

The opinion of the City fans about the result-outcome against Chelsea is definitely a glass half full / glass half empty fan thing…with a dash of very understandable disappointment having bossed the majority of the game; particularly the second half. I’m definitely half-full.

Away at a team who are the current league leaders; a team who have been destroying most in their wake at home, playing without Samir Nasri & Yaya Toure, still without new-purchase Wilfried Bony, choosing not to play Zabaleta and without our most expensive defender (whether you think that’s a good or bad thing); a draw is one HELL of an achievement.

Yeah of course we had a brilliant opportunity to close the gap having dictated the game for such a long time but I was left baffled and slightly frustrated and the shear amount of fans who were phoning Radio Manchester after the game who were slating our manager for being overly-cautious and NOT going with his often-preferred 4-4-2 earlier in the game. The negativity on display in the phone-in was so over the top, in my opinion, I swear at least one of them was a red.

Good performance – a confidence building performance for many of the players – and a flippin’ good point for me; one we can now build on as the cavalry arrive…

As I say, I can understand those immediate, knee-jerk reactions to some degree; I suppose the way we did indeed dominate and create chances in the second half in particular did leave a small taste of a ‘missed opportunity’. And, I must note, the more time that passed with the callers comments / texts & e-mails the more pragmatic the sentiments got.

To sum up for me – Opportunity missed? Perhaps. A blummin’ good result? Absolutely!

Window activity

Having made just one appearance in his disappointing time on loan at Valencia, Manchester City spent little time since hooking Bruno Zuculini back from Spain in finding him a new home for the rest of the season…in Spain. Cordoba CFa La Liga side I’m ashamed to admit I’d never heard of until this morning – are the club who are, hopefully, going to give him more of a run-out.

And I am really hopeful that they do give him a good go in the second half of their season – Bruno was plucked from Argentina side Racing Club by us for £2.2M in the summer of 2014, having played 92 times for the Argentine side, along with 8 games and 2 goals for his country’s under 20s, which is no mean feat when you consider the talent I’m sure they have at every level in South America.

I didn’t…but it’s easy to sort of forget these players when we have a first team squad jam-packed with talent and when increasing emphasis has being placed on the EDS and their new Academy across the road from the main stadium. It doesn’t help, of course, that the club you’re a loaned to 972 miles away then, for whatever their reasons, stick you in the shadows with nothing for our assessors / scouts to report back to either Patrick Viera or Manuel Pellegrini on.

I’m no Bruno Zuculini expert but from what I’ve gleamed his an energetic & skilful all-rounder who can defend - and will get stuck in - but who prefers to bomb forward; support, create & score form time to time. A good 5-month run in Spain followed by a good pre-season and this 22-year old (in April) central midfielder could save us-having to splash out quite as much as we might otherwise have done on our midfield department in the summer.

Jordi Hiwula has joined Walsall on an initial 1-month loan deal; presumably with the next option being for the remainder of the season.

Having previously been loaned to Yeovil Town where he didn’t have the best of times – notably being reported that the EDS striker missed a hat-full of chances – Walsall’s Manager has apparently been monitoring the England youth striker and is hopeful that a SECOND loan spell will be more successful for both the youngster and the midlands outfit.

That’s about it really – it was a quiet window to say the very least and it’s not even worth me commenting on Chelsea’s ‘one in / one out’ activity.


It’ looks like we’re going to have to wait a little longer for the return of Yaya Toure and to see Wilfried Bony’s debut. It would have be great to have had the option of unleashing them both on struggling Hull City at home on Saturday; but a 3-1 win over Algeria in the African Cup of Nations meant that they stay in Equatorial Guinea into the weekend.

And who do we have to thank for that? Only flippin’ Yaya & Wilfried themselves!

Two strikes from Bony either side of a Toure free kick sent the Algerians packing. Even if the Ivory Coast lose their semi-final on Wednesday (unlikely) against DR Congo they still have a 3rd place play-off game to play on Saturday. Should they GET to the final, which is to be played on Sunday, it’s being reported that the two players (and their teammates of course) are under the control of the Ivory Coast FA for a further 48 hours and they will be expected to stay for a reception etc. until at least Tuesday late afternoon / evening; virtually ruling them out of our 7:45pm KO (GMT) trip to The Potteries to face Mark HughesStoke City.

Fully rested / acclimatised it’ll be a home game against Newcastle United for the Ivorian pair as late as the 21st February (5:30pm KO GMT).

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