Sunday, 6 December 2015

Windy City – simply blown away

Having settled down in front of the TV with ‘beer in hand’; even before kick-off I just got that awful, negative, old-City ‘spider sense’…but just couldn’t understand why.

No Pellegrini blame this time

Unlike his pre-Champions League team selection against Liverpool the other week, where the Chilean got it horribly, HORRIBLY wrong; on this occasion he didn’t appear to have one eye on Tuesday night’s game [against Borussia Monchengladbach] in that competition.

That’s why I just couldn’t understand my uneasiness before the referee blew to indicate the start of the game.

Okay, being REALLY picky; of ‘Pellegrini’s 11’ I would have picked Clichy to start over Kolarov, Delph over Fernandinho for Fabian’s mobility / energy AND because the Brazilian had played 90+ minutes in midweek against Hull City and would likely be needed 3 days later…and I’d have started Iheanacho over Bony.

But that’s just my personal choice - we had enough quality, particularly in the attacking trio behind Wilfried, to cause Stoke all SORTS of issues and it’s a real concern that we just didn’t. In fact, that was the most listless, out-of-sorts performance I have ever seen from a Pellegrini side. Worst still, top-quality players got no more than a 4/10 at the very best…even David Silva!

It’s so difficult to pick a ‘worse player’ from yesterday’s nightmare they were all so very, VERY poor. But standout underperformers include Sagna, Kolarov, Fernando…and the biggest wooden spoon goes to Demichelis.

Any credit to Stoke?

No, not “any” credit to Stoke…ALL credit to Stoke and their manager, Mark Hughes. Much was made just pre-match by the TV pundits of his decision to play a trio of attacking midfielders behind a striker; behind them two defensive midfielders.

Haaaanng on…

…basically, the same formation and tactics that we deployed and do most weeks.

So why did it go so horribly wrong?

Do you know what, I can’t be more technical than to say that they simply played much, much better than us. They were more organised, their passing was better, they hunted in packs and coordinated their efforts from defence right through to attack. They were a bigger team than us; stronger and appeared to be more suited to the stormy conditions. We were everything the opposite of that.

Even the wind didn’t appear to assist us…and didn’t appear to affect them negatively at all. In the first half it was ‘to our backs’ and, in my opinion at the time, appeared to cause us to over-hit any passes we could muster to the attacking players. However, in the second half that didn’t appear to affect the home side the same way in the slightest…and then-heading INTO the wind; the change didn’t appear to help us whatsoever.

No…we were just beaten by a far, far better performing team on the day. And, as I say, if Mark Hughes saw something in-changing to a 4-2-3-1 then ‘well done’ him too.

Mini, 8-game season going to pot…

…and this worries me a little.

A few weeks back I targeted a set of slightly tricky-looking fixtures and predicted the results and final ‘points tally’ from those ‘24 available’. It wasn’t JUST a prediction of those 8 games; I felt that this was a ‘minimum target’ we needed to aim for in order to ‘stay on track’ for regaining our Premier League title.

That’s why I’m worried…

For the first of those 8 I predicted a home draw against Liverpool and we got soundly beaten; against Southampton a predicted a tough game but a home win, which we got. And for yesterday’s game I predicted that we’d upset the TV schedulers [looking for an upset] with a victory at the Britannia Stadium. 7 points from 9 then.

Oh dear. With just 3 points from 9 and with Arsenal, Leicester City and a very hard-working Watford all to come away from home in the next 5 games; we have one HELL of a task to get back on track!

Personally I have to admit that for the first ever time this season I got a doubt - after both the Liverpool and yesterday’s disaster performances & results - about whether we can win the league this season; personally I find myself wishing Tuesday night’s Champions League game be-out-the-way ASAP. And I’m glad also that we’re not in any domestic cup action for the next 4 weeks and 3 days; allowing all concentration [after Tuesday] on the most important target, both in my and many fellow Blues’ opinions.

All ‘doom & gloom’? Any positives at all?

Huh…it’s a bit of a ‘straw clutcher’ but Manyoo wasted a home game by dropping 2 points and failing to score AGAIN in their game against West Ham United…and 6th placed (at time of blog-posting) West Ham themselves only gaining a single point of course.

Similarly, 5th placed and momentum-gathering Spurs were also held to a draw, thanks to another solid West Bromwich Albion display.

And just in case there was ANY chance of one amazing turn-around and a title challenge from Chelsea; Jose Mourinho’s men lost 1-0 at home to struggling Bournemouth! I suppose there IS always someone worse off than you…

Some of those, particularly the 0-0 Cold Trafford result, did make me feel a little better yesterday…but only very little.

Want some more ‘straw clutching’? Well Swansea City are dropping like a rock thrown off a cliff with 1 win, 3 draws and 6 defeats in the last 10-league games. They must be suffering a confidence crisis by now…and they come to the Etihad next. I just hope we can exploit that and don’t, instead, suffer the ‘wounded animal’. I hope also that they stick with their Manager, Garry Monk…and that we don’t suffer the ‘new manager’ syndrome as we most certainly did at Villa Park a few weeks back.

And finally FOR that game against The Swans next Saturday (3:00pm KO GMT), we should have Sergio Aguero back (Yaya Toure too?) and could even have Vinny back as well! If Bacary needs a rest then we could also see the return from injury of Pablo Zabaletaand Eliaquim Mangala has finished his 1-match suspension (I told you I was ‘clutching’ a bit).

Ominously, however, rocket-fuelled Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp are now just 6 points behind us with a game-in-hand…that game-in-hand being this afternoon against disaster team / club Newcastle United. Yikes!

There’s no doubting that we’ve made it very difficult for ourselves now (remember the blistering, 5-game start we had?!) in the league and although it makes the title race very interesting “for the neutral” and that an almost season-long injury plague has affected us greatly; it’s time for characters in the squad to rise now and for the huge quality we’ve invested in to perform consistently and not just periodically.

The fact that we CAN go on a run as we did and play as WELL as we did in our opening 5, Premier League games is something I'm clinging to at the moment...

Joe Hart, the only player to come out of yesterday’s game with any credibility, said in one post-match interview yesterday that we need to have solid, and minimum, 7/10 performers on the pitch each & every time; with several individuals then-having 8s & 9s. Every time!

Joe…to you I say, “Hear, hear!”


  1. Team selection! I'd rather play with ten men than pick Deminchelis. He was finished at least two years ago and is a complete liability. To let Denayer go on loan and to have no young player able to step up is either a sad indictment on the manager or the club's policy.

    1. Agree about Demichelis and TOTALLY agree about Denayer.

      Two absolutely puzzling decisions, to say the very least, are loaning-out Denayer and not choosing Iheanacho to be in the Champions League squad (unless I've missed something there in eligibility). A third puzzle, however, would be not giving Kelechi more game-time in general domestically.

      I still can't get, though, how utterly off-colour / characterless they looked in general - as much as 'the oppo' deserve credit; Silva, De Bruyne & Sterling for example were nowhere!

      Thanks for reading / commenting Goatman!

  2. It all went wrong when we bought Deminchelis and paid a fortune for Mangala since then our players have no confidence in them and spend time covering their Ar...s Kompany has to watch them all the time... Also how does the manager feel when
    we are chaseing Pep G insecure maybe?

    1. You're right Kippax, I've always had a sense that some of the defenders look nervous and as though they are spending TOO much time covering each other; not in a 'should do' as part of their teamwork role but rather in a bad 'need to do' way, as you say. And as Goatman said too, we should have kept hold of Denayer.

      Yep, agree about the 'Pep thing too'. As professional as our manager appears to be with regards to these things; no-one can surely NOT be affected by such overwhelming rumours. Looks like, now, the 1-year extention contract ploy has stopped working with regards to fending off the speculation.

      Thanks, Kippax, for both reading and commenting!