Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Despite a spirited 2nd half performance…

…it’s just a Meh from me.

Underwhelming (again) and so completely joyless.

Yesterday a lot of the crowd was - and continues to be in general - frustrated with a City team packed with talent and who yet rarely living up to their potential. It’s been like that for weeks now, as that glorious, 10-game start to the campaign seems like a very, very distant memory.

Then…’right back at you’, as TV footage showed Pep venting his frustration at the largely-subdued home fans who he clearly thought weren't doing their part either!

It’s just not a happy camp and feeling at the moment…

Claudio Bravo - Actually produced one good save yesterday (credit where due).

-       Bravo continues to look less like a goalkeeper and more like a small, lost child who has never even seen a pair of keeper gloves before whenever called into action.

-       Kolarov continues to be just…flippin’…awful.

-       Otamendi continues to be…average at best.

-       Fernandinho’s old habits (that I highlighted way, way back on 25.05.2015) have come back to haunt us with a vengeance! Just what is it with this fella’s head?!

-       Navas continues to have no ‘end product’ in him whatsoever – how DOES he keep getting ‘game time’?!

-       And, similarly, why does Sterling get himself into so many dangerous positions only to then get 'stage fright' more often than not? I thought 6 months with Pep would have improved him at least a little bit by now.

-       De Bruyne looks…okay but he can be far, far better than “okay”. Kevin is yet another puzzle - trying to work out why he has so many quiet, underwhelming games when he has all the potential of a 'world class player'. When he’s on fire…he’s on FIRE! However, he needs to stop engaging his cloaking device

-       Iheanacho continues to waste chances handed to him whenever he covers for Aguero – the clock is already ticking on this lad with the imminent arrival of Gabriel Jesus and a summer transfer window just 6 months away.

Thank God we have David Silva; glad also, for the most part, that we have Yaya Toure 'back in the fold' and when Sergio is in ‘that mood’, we have a finisher who strikes fear into the oppo.

Yeah we won yesterday and, up against it as we were with 10 for so long, it was a spirited second half for us to be proud of (and I was); hampered by another poor refereeing performance and a visiting side that turned dirty in the last 20 minutes or so.

But…huffffffff…we should be killing teams like this (and better) early on! Instead we CONTINUE to over-pass and not just sideways but backwards also (Bravo sees FAR too much of the ball for me)!

I’m not naïve; I fully understand that a lot of our passing is intended to draw teams out so that we can expose and get behind them.

But here’s the thing…we just don’t attack 'with pace' and cause the damage we should be doing! Dare I suggest that under our new manager – one deemed by so many as one of the world’s best – that we actually look a little ‘plodding’? That’s just how it feels at the moment in general and did so for the most part yesterday.


Please don’t think I’m being overly impatient - of course I understand that Pep is still learning in his first 5 months of his first ever job in English football. I think what frustrates me and many City fans is that he doesn’t APPEAR to be learning from his mistakes (huh…proof of that is in his biggest mistake, which is the purchase and continued use of one, Claudio Bravo).

There has also been some criticism of late that Guardiola didn’t make use of the 2016 summer transfer window to great effect and I think some of that analysis is justified. I suppose he can’t be blamed for everything, but…

·         Claudio Bravo (and the exiling of Joe Hart) has been – and continues to be – a unmitigated disaster!

·         John Stone has been okay…even really quite good on occasions. And I do also think that some of his errors have been over-highlighted and over-blown. However, there have BEEN errors from the young English defender and Pep has acknowledged those mistakes by dropping the 22-year old from time to time.

·         Eyebrows were raised when we signed German international Ilkay Gundogan whilst he was recovering from a dislocated knee cap. But after his recovery and a couple of settling-in games, he started to ‘look the part’ – not exactly ‘ripping up tress’ but certainly a steady 7 or 7.5 / 10 player who chipped in with a few goals & assists. Not a bad start at all. But then…ouch! I’m not sure if it’s the same knee nor whether the previous injury could have contributed to it…but he’s now out for the season with cruciate ligament damage. Not Pep’s fault at all of course.

·         But then we have Nolito and all I’ll say of the Spanish left-sided attacker is that he’s just slightly better than Jesus Navas. A 30-year old who is barely better than Navas? Doesn’t sound like a good purchase to me for the moment at least…

·         Okay…so a young, soon-to-be 21-year old who, like Gundogan, was signed whilst injured and who has never lived or played football in this country before might need some ‘settling in time’. And, indeed, once recovered it was clear that he needed that time. Then, a few weeks ago, Leroy Sane started to show small glimpses of the talent we were all repeatedly told he had…and then he got injured again. We need to give this youngster far more time before passing judgement, of course, but this is yet another signing who has yet to improve us and, for that, Pep has to be accountable to some degree; seeing as he was brought in to do just that…improve us.

·         Then we have Gabriel Jesus who is now eligible to play for us - after we signed him in the summer but then allowed him to see-out the Brazilian season - before being given some ‘rest time’; having also competed in the 2016 summer Olympics. Again, we have been repeatedly told what an exciting talent we’re getting but for now at least, that’s all we can go off and hope for.

And that’s it…no other signings.

No decent keeper for which our football club has a proud history of; no desperately-needed left-back, no additional [to John Stones] central defender to solidify a 'soft centre' caused by an erratic Nicholas Otamendi and absent Vincent Kompany and no right-back to compete with the ever-aging Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna.

A lot of our midfielders and wingers and 30+ and we CONTINUE [from our time under Manuel Pellegrini] to run with an under-strength striker department which, for a supposed top team, is borderline criminal!

But Pep now has a little [transfer] window of opportunity to 'patch us up' at the back before a full, summer shopping spree opportunity and, in that sense, I still have high hopes and some considerable confidence that once he truly gets his own personnel in, we’ll start to see a Pep-like machine shifting through into the higher gears.

It’s not quite the season, so far at least, I thought we’d be experiencing; perhaps “hampered”, if that’s the right word to use, by having our expectations catapulted high into the sky after such a wonderful start. But a measured view of all of the above facts does put it all into perspective a little.

We’re through to the next stage of the Champions League; we’re 3rd in the Premier League (for now at least) and we have the F.A. Cup to start on Friday.

Just do us a favour, Pep…try, in this difficult transfer window I know, to improve our defence a little and keeper situation a lot (can’t see the latter happening folks) and for God’s sake do something about the so-obvious lack of confidence so many of our talented players are suffering with at the moment, especially in the attacking / finishing department.

We await your ‘magic touch’, Pep…

Hyperlinks to be completed later…


  1. Excellent article matches my views pretty well - only slight dispute with Otomendi's criticism - I don't think its fair to judge him until he has had a sustained period alongside a good recognised centre-half : I don't recall him ever having a settled partner except Mangala(?). With Kolarov alongside him he is trying to do the job of two men and it's unfair to judge him on that basis!

  2. Thank you very much for reading and for your kind words. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Regarding Otamendi, I hope you're right and I have seen glimpses of him-being a decent defender. Perhaps, as you say, a settled partner would help with that...although like Fernandinho, Nolito and, more recently, Aguero; he does also have some 'red mist', mad tendencies too.