Friday, 15 January 2016

Manchester City’s half-term report, well…

…on 21 Premier League games just OVER half way.


0          -           Why bother even putting a shirt on?
1          -           Was it worth leaving the dressing room?
2          -           Was it worth leaving the tunnel?
3          -           …barley worth crossing the while line (you get the idea).
4          -           Below average
5          -           Average
6          -           Above average
7          -           Good
8          -           Very good
9          -           Brilliant!
10        -           Simply world class!

…and all the 0.5s in-between.

I’ve been ‘upping & downing’ the ratings according to my opinion after us-facing Premier League opposition (including league & cup games) and in all Champions League games and here, after 21 league games and a fair number of those same-said cup games, are my player, manager and overall team ratings.

9/10 and well on his way to my choice for player of the season. Time and time and time again this season has he pulled off some amazing saves and pulled a largely dodgy defence out of the mire; saving us many points on the way.

5.5/10. Very up & down performances and the decision to use him for sure in all League & F.A. Cup games leave me feeling a little edgy. Let’s hope, then, for more of the 7/10-like performance we saw at Goodison Park recently and less of the 3/10 White Hart Lane ones…

6/10. Almost seems unfair to judge him on his few appearances so far between longer & short injury lay-offs. I think 6/10 is a credit to him then and I hope he can find some stability and form.

5/10. I like Martin when he comes on a calms things down as & when necessary for the last 15 to 20 minutes of games; I think he does that very well indeed. On for a near-90 minutes or more and he barely manages a 6/10. Having been, therefore, forced to play longer in games through injuries to his fellow central defender teammates; he’s chucked in a few 4s I have to say. Result? An average 5.

5/10: Started the season in the first 5 games where he left off in the last 6 of last season, which was a solid and unprecedented, for him, 7/10. Even as a non-Kolarov fan I was heaping some praise on him in this very Blog. However, his form appeared to dip along with City’s after those blistering 5 wins from 5 in terms of assured performances and consistency; soon afterwards we were seeing far more 3.5s to 5.5s and hence the average 5 marking following that good start. Decent – not GREAT – at going forwards as ever and, as ever, mostly poor-to-average at defending.

8.5/10 when fit…and that’s all we can mark him on. Has been immense and ‘the glue’ to our defence for the few games he’s played – I’d like to see more Super Glue and less Evo-Stik for the rest of the season…

4.5/10 and scares the **** out of me most of the time! Is prone to chucking in a couple of 7/10s but, sadly, is prone to messing up big time with wild, wayward passes and rash, ill-timed, attempted tackles. £31.8M? Really?! I hope-to-hell that scout is no longer associated with Manchester City…

6.5/10. Almost made a 7 and if it wasn’t for a few wobbly displays in the middle of his short City career so far, he may have even got a 7.5 from me. I’m sure by the end of the season he’ll be a solid 7.5’er and, Kompany beside him for a good stretch God willing, perhaps even an end-of-season 8! I also believe he suffers a little performance / rating-wise with-having to play for good spells alongside Mangala and the slow-placed Demichelis.

7.5/10…and a solid one too / almost 8/10. Talk Sport in general and other punters were sniggering when we plucked Bacary from Arsenal for nothing and last season he had an end-of-season rating of 6.5 from me. That was decent, this season is even better for a player HAVING to play so many games for both club [through injury to Pablo Zabaleta] & country. Again I say…free transfer. Who’s sniggering now?

Pablo Zabaleta:
6.5/10. Like Gael Clichy it seem very unfair to mark him, having been out almost all season…following good spells out last season! If he stays fit he’ll give Bacary some well-deserved rests and, in the process, we’ll get our hero Zaba-man back I’m sure!

6.5/10. Now that both hurts and somewhat puzzles me to have to put such an above average-to-good rating down because when the fair-haired Belgium joined us he breezed back into the Premier League; oozing class all the way with 8s & 9/10 performances. I actually didn’t think he had 4s, 5s & 6s in him…and so what’s happened? Looks lost most of the time away from home and some of his home form hasn’t been great. 6.5/10 is testament, then, to his fantastic early displays and I, for one, want them back ASAP!

7/10. Another player plagued by injury early on in his City career – at one stage I thought we’d bought another Jack Rodwell! I was eager, therefore, to see what we’d signed and I wasn’t disappointed. Almost a like-for-like replacement for similarly all-action James Milner…just a good few years younger. Not played too many games and in that time he has had a couple of 6/10s; where he’s looked like he didn’t know what his role was. But this largely defensive, central midfielder who also appears to pop up from nowhere left & right has had mainly 7+ performances and is an absolute SNIP at “just” yer £8M!

7.5/10 and, like Bacary, a solid one too. Has produced some marvellous performances this season including a few MotM awards! Have seen very little of his often hot-headed lunges and has performed ‘up & down’ in attack-support and defence very well indeed. Carry on fella!

6.5/10. Nearly made a 7 and, I’m confident, that he’ll finish the season on at least a “Good” rating. Like his teammates he had an APPALLING rating away at Stoke City that “helped” drag his overall score down and has had a couple of other below-par performances too. But he’s had more decent than not-so and he is a player who CAN be a real asset when he’s ‘on blob’.

6.5/10 (it’s becoming a favourite rating is this one). Trust me when I say that Jesus was showing a considerably lower score on my personal chart a few weeks ago. But a sizable improvement in the last few games has hoisted the Spanish flyer up to a reasonable marking. Long may that continue…

7/10. My personal player of the season for the last 3 seasons (certinaly the last 2), from memory – a player who usually makes us ‘tick’ and one who I think we miss more than Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero. And injuries have plagued him this season, leaving the now-just-turned 30-year old taking longer to find his top gears. He’s getting there slowly and if we can keep him injury free for the remainder then I’m sure he’ll finish on a solid 8.

7/10just. More good performances than average ones from the young England man is pleasing in his first season and after HUGE, unnecessary controversial noises from Liverpool fans, some Blues; fan-numpties of OTHER teams and many of the press alike. If he could only not run down so many blind alleys and finish a bit better he, like David, would easily finish on an 8 this season.

6.5/10…and I’m guessing a lot of the ‘Yaya bashers’ out there would think me very kind with that rating. He’s been okay as our big man in the middle…but no better than okay. He, like Joe, has saved and even won us some crucial points when he finds that magical gear of his and doesn’t always get the credit he deserves for some “shadowy running”, I’m calling it. But I can’t disagree with those who do tear their hair out at some of his more languid displays. 6.5/10 isn’t a terrible rating but from someone who most certainly CAN; it comes with a “must do better”.

Sergio Aguero:
6.5/10 (there’s that rating again). Like many of his frustrated colleagues our ‘Serg’ has had a terrible season so far with injures. And, like David, appears to be struggling to gain traction. There have been small signs in recent games but then again recently, against Everton at home in the league, there was ‘bluster’ but the ‘sharp edge’ has been dulled a little. I’m sure it’ll come back and that 6.5 will be a solid 8 come the end of the season…IF he doesn’t break down again!

5/10. A player I have been defending all season…and another one interrupted terribly by many injury spells both short & medium-length. To look at his mobility around the pitch, his interplay and passing between colleagues he looks head & shoulders better than Edin Dzeko; a player some Bony detractors often refer back to. But there’s no doubting that at least Edin did score a few more in the same amount of games and that Wilfried is suffering a massive striker confidence crisis – he just tries to rip the net sometimes where a more finesse finish would do. Sometimes certain players just don’t fit in to certain teams and as time passes by I’m getting that feeling with the Ivorian striker.

6.5/10. A player who HASN’T been injured this season very much at all (if ever) but who, frustratingly for him and many fans, not only rarely gets on the pitch but is someone, who, doesn’t always make the flippin’ bench! Had a couple of naïve moments in his first couple of substitute appearances but for a young lad he simply oozes self-belief. More game-time from someone who knows how to run the opposition line so very well and who certainly knows how to finish and I’m convinced Kelechi would be getting a solid 7.5/10. C’mon Mr Pellegrini

Whole team:
7/10. People who look at the fact that we’re 3rd in the Premier League (at time of publication), just 3-points off the top; still in the League Cup, F.A. Cup and Champions League (having finished top of our group) could easily be forgiven for being very confused indeed that I haven’t given better than a ‘Good’ rating. I get that.

But if you’d seen the displays over the last 3 months you’d realise just how we’ve been eking out results; often crawling and creaking our way to the final whistle in order to salvage a point and scrape a narrow victory. Take away the amazing 5-game opening explosion to the season and October and we’re left also with few top performances to applaud / remember.

Want some evidence? Then look at the form from the beginning of November to the last game (Everton at home on 13th January 2016) in all competitions…


I say “form”…but that is all OVER the flippin’ place! Just twice in 16 games have we managed back-to-back wins since the beginning of November. Even the most die-hard, blue-tinted-glasses-wearing City fan must admit that isn’t what we’d expect from a squad full of expensive talent; despite the many, many injures.

And so that finally brings me onto…

Manuel Pellegrini:
7/10…and I’m gonna break it down into bad & good points here for this one.


-       His decision not to buy another left-back in the summer; a position most City fans have been screaming for-for some time now.
-       His decision not to get an additional striker in the summer; rolling out the same line that Raheem Sterling is ‘in there’ as a striking option – HE ISN’T! We could very well suffer for this decision…
-       His decision to send Jason Denayer out on loan…and then not getting him back when we needed extra cover.
-       His reluctance to use Kelechi Iheanacho more. Again, we could suffer for not-giving the young striker the opportunity to find us more goals…
-       Some of his team selections are, at times, baffling and when they are head-scratching, it all-too-often blows up in our face. All too often this is in either the Champions League or in Premier League games just PRIOR to-us facing European competition.
-       Not always changing things in games until it’s too late.


-       The way he’s adapting-in / understanding our domestic cup competitions. First season, at times, AWFUL team selection and apparent preparation / attitude to both the League & F.A. Cup rounds…and that’s despite him-eventually winning us the League Cup in his first season! Now appears to give both competitions more respect.
-       His cool-headedness. Despite his post-match red eyes (what IS that?) and the fact that Jose Mourinho (remember him?) did appear to get under his skin; I love the man for his calmness, which must spread through the dressing room when needed. Especially in pre-match press conferences where he doesn’t give reporters and INCH! Cool in front of the camera just-pre & post game too – always positive, polite, respectful and non-confrontational.
-       The way he sticks to his style even if it’s not quite working at times, which, more often than not, does then eventually ‘do the trick’. In Pellegrini I, more often than not, trust. And following on from that…
-       …his style itself, which is largely entertaining and attacking.
-       What he’s achieved so far. Blasted onto the English scene with a Premier League title and a League Cup final win and although we had a puzzling, lacklustre defence of that title - and little else to cheer about otherwise - we still managed a good second-place finish and, as I say, this season we’re still in for all four competitions! Not bad in 2-½ seasons…

He’s on a very creditable, “Good” 7/10 from me at this moment in time this season and if he wants to make it an 8+, then I hope he can address some of the defensive issues soon and use his noggin’ a little in the striking department too; because all being well we have the middle part of the team pretty-much sorted for now.

As for the team, we’re doing…okay.

But will “okay” see us to the final of the League Cup and then give us a chance of winning that trophy again? Will “okay” see us continue through the next few rounds - and to the same ending - in the F.A. Cup? Will “okay” be good enough against the very best Europe can offer? And will “okay” be enough to see us regain our Premier League title; in a season where there would appear to be a chasing pack as opposed to just one or two challengers?

Answer? No it won’t.

We need to start to find our higher gears now and start to move through some 8 & 9/10 performances; get some consistency and a much-needed period of very few injuries and, like Manuel’s first season, I think we can see two more trophies in the cabinet come May 2016.

You may not necessarily agree with some or all of my ratings but I hope you can see that I have been as fair and as objective as I feel I can be – heaping praise where deserved and being honest otherwise.

Thanks, as always, for taking the time to read.

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