Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Will The Tevez Saga Galvanise Us or Tear Us Apart?

Is there really anything left to say about the little ponce?  As we all know Carlos Tevez refused to pull on the blue shirt last night something that we would all do for nothing, and would love to do for, oh say, £200k a week.

My biggest fear with the whole situation though is the effect it could have on Roberto Mancini, and how it could affect his position as manager.  Bobby told the press in no uncertain terms that the Argentine striker would never play for Manchester City again on his watch, it was a big statement and one that as fans I expect we would all go along with, what about the financial implications though?

I am no economics whizz-kid, in fact I would go as far as to say I am clueless on the topic, but I am not sure realistically what the club can do.  If money was no object, he would be put in the reserves for the length of his contract and just left there to rot, but with the impending FFP rules that sadly is not an option.  The player may claim otherwise, but I don't believe that we have treated him badly, we bent over backwards for him this Summer and made attempts to move him on, we even signed a replacement in Sergio Aguero, but there was simply no realistic buyers.

I think the chances of this changing in January are slim to none, especially given last nights pathetic display of childishness.  My biggest fear is that Mancini may be forced to accept this mornings pathetic apology from the player, he may claim it was a mistake, and a misunderstanding, and that his mental state wasn't right, but does anyone believe that tosh?  He makes the point that on the pitch he always gives his all, and I wouldn't debate this, but getting him onto the field now appears to be a challenge, so what does that matter?

If the Italian is forced to welcome Tevez back into the first team squad, I can see him walking.  He has spoken of wanting total control before, but in the modern game that is difficult.  With FFP, decisions have to be made by CEO's, owners and Irene the tea lady.  I do think the manager should have the last word, and I agree Tevez should be alienated, but how well that will go down with the money men I am unsure.

The best solution to me would seem to be convinced the player to buy himself out of his contract, that would allow the club to move on and receive a substantial sum of money from the player, Mancini would get his wish, and Tevez would no longer be an issue, going back to my limited knowledge of football clubs I am unsure as to how this could or even if it would work.

On the more positive side of things, if a deal is agreed and the board are seen to be backing the manager it could turn into a real plus, the events of last night could galvanise the team and bring them together.  Obviously it could go the other way and the squad could tear itself apart, but with the positive attitude that MOST players seem to be exhibiting a definitive stance from the board to back the manager could really help City in the long run, and lets be honest, that is what we all want.

Forza Mancini, lets get behind him, the club and everyone that is pulling in the right direction, the blue moon will continue to rise, hopefully without Tevez.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Rumour Mill: Sunday Round Up

Sundays are about more than just roast dinners, a normally pretty tame game on Sky and falling asleep in front of La Liga at about half 9, it is also the one day of the week that the 'other' newspapers and the Sunday editions get their chance to shine and I suppose because more papers are sold on a Sunday we get the best rumours, or should that be the most ridiculous rumours.

I thought to keep on top of things, it might be an interesting idea to round up some of the City related ones each Sunday from now on just to see if any of them come to anything, so without further hesitation, so lets get on with it.

First up is something from (OK, so i'll be grabbing nonsense from around the web as well) who have got some quotes from everyone's favourite melting candle 'Arry Redknapp.  The Spurs manager is no stranger to discussing his transfer targets brazenly and when it comes to our very own Emmanuel Adebayor he is no different, the soon to be England manager spoke about the Togolese striker after his sides demolition of Wigan yesterday:

"Yes, if he keeps going like he's going. I'd love to keep him around, he's been excellent so far so let's hope he keeps it up.
"I don't know [if it will be possible]. We don't pay his wages and I think that would be the problem. God knows what he earns, I don't even know what we pay towards his wages, only the chairman would know that. I bet he's not cheap.".

I think most City fans would like to see Adebayor out of the club, and now that we have moved on I don't think many blues would mind him going to the Lane.  The problems remains however that the striker is a 6 month player, whether 'Arry will be so keen towards the end of the season remains to be seen.  On top of that do any of us believe he will be willing to cut his wage demands?  I certainly don't...

The Mail (Fail) On Sunday have gone pretty City heavy today, in fact the rest of the transfer rumours come from that very publication, and I would suggest and also hope there is nothing in any of them.  They kick off by claiming that we will be returning to our feeder club at the end of the season and move for Dutch striker Robin Van Persie, who managed to reach 100 goals for Arsenal yesterday.  The thrust of the article seems to be that with the Dutchman seemingly stalling on a new contract, his club could soon be in the same position they were in with Samir Nasri.  I would put very little credence into this one personally, the Mail are hoping for lightning to strike twice with them aiming to get the exclusive.  Nasri left to win things, and that is reasonable, but Van Persie appears to be Mr Arsenal at the moment and with them finally spending some money I highly doubt Wenger will allow his contract to run down.

Quite what it is that Ross Barkley has done to result in the media extolling him as the saviour of global football I am unsure, I must have missed something but everyone keeps telling me that he is in fact the new messiah and will make Lionel Messi look like Barry Conlon.  Obviously the tv and newspapers would never get over excited about a young player (Dean Marney, Danny Rose, Mark Noble to name just 3) and make them out to be something they quite patently aren't, who would suggest such a thing?  I am not claiming Barkley to be a bad player, I just don't know what this fuss is based on, anyway to get back on topic, the Mail reckon we are readying a £30million for the 17 year old, yes MORE than we paid for David Silva.  The youngster is highly thought of at Everton and has apparently played well for England at youth level and Bob Cass of the Mail claims we are locked in a 3 way tussle for the midfielder with Chelsea and Manchester United stating that the dire financial situation at Goodison will ensure that Moyes and co have to sell... I won't hold my breath on this one.

The final nugget of transfer gold revolves around the future of another South American wonder kid, yes, thats right, the overly cocky and generally irritating Brazilian striker Neymar is being linked with City again!  As anyone who has read my rants on here before will be fully aware I am not the biggest fan of the 19 year old.  I always defended Robinho and said that all in all his career in Manchester was not the huge let down that some people would have you believe, he scored plenty of goals and entertained and thrilled in equal measure.  Neymar on the other hand just doesn't appeal to me at all, I simply don't see him cutting it in England and if the histrionics of Robinho annoyed you, Neymar will take it to a whole other level.  The deal that the Mail claim is in the offing is for about £50million and will equal the figure that Madrid are prepared to offer.  The paper reckon that he is a player that Mancini has personally told the clubs hierarchy that he wants believing him to be the best young talents in the world, not sure I buy into that personally, he doesn't strike me as a 'Mancini player' in any way shape or form, and for that money I am sure we could get someone who won't be moaning about the English weather and going on strike within 18 months.

Finally for a none transfer story, possibly the least reliable paper in existence, The People, are suggesting that our future CEO will be none other than City legend Niall Quinn after his success at Sunderland.  As much as I would love that to happen I am not sure how realistic it is, he may have worked closely with Marwood before, but I can't help but feel our owners might be looking for more of a businessman as opposed too a football man to fill that role.  Even if they did fancy Quinn, whether he has sufficient reputation I am unsure, he may be a big name in the British game, but how good he will be at selling City to a young Kid from Costa Rica, Chile or Kenya I am unsure.

That pretty much wraps up the Sunday papers, there may be a few other things bouncing about, but I think those are the most interesting ones.  I don't see any of them coming to anything, but what the hell do I know?!?!

Friday, 23 September 2011

This City Has Been Has Totally Fallen Out Of Love With The Game

Wednesday night at Eastlands was not the most exciting night of my footballing life, it was cold, wet, windy and the football on the pitch didn't exactly create excitement and hysteria in the watching fans.  The League Cup is suffering somewhat of a crisis, and in recent years it has morphed into the title that 'does a job' the one that 'you'll accept', it isn't really high up on anyones list of priorities until the select clubs get towards the business end of the competition.  Even defending holders Birmingham had little to no interest in the tournament, they have far bigger fish to fry and the distraction of the League Cup is an unwanted one.

City on the other hand have a squad capable of challenging for all major honours and I am sure that as the rounds progress stronger squads will be put out each time, amongst the mixture of quality, kids and the downright average was a defender who was signed for £10million not so long ago but now finds himself not just out of the picture but out of the whole art gallery!

Wayne Bridge though is making no effort to get his career back on track, one of many awful signings made by Mark Hughes, Bridge arrived in January 2009 and signed a 4 and a half year deal on a reported £90,000 a week.  It was clearly a great offer and at that time City were throwing money around like confetti.  He never sparkled however and struggled to hold down a place after the 2009-2010 season and barely featured last season, ultimately being loaned out to West Ham for the second half of the term.

All Summer there has been numerous options for the player to move on, and yet the 30 year old has remained.  There was speculation about a move to Newcastle as a replacement for the outgoing Jose Enrique, there was the possibility of moves to QPR and Stoke but none of these rumours seemed to be anything more than heresay.  To be quite honest I don't even know if he is good enough for the Premier League any more, his game has deteriorated hugely over the last 3 or 4 years and he did nothing against Birmingham on Wednesday night to demonstrate otherwise, he was pretty much entirely ineffective for the majority of the game.

He could have a future in football though if he wanted one, clearly he would still be more than adequate for a strong Championship team aiming for promotion, he could have made his move to West Ham permanent but again this didn't come off.  The inference coming from Eastlands is that the player has lost his motivation for the game pretty much entirely.  Spurs defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto in a very refreshing display of honesty, described football as a 'job' a couple of years ago, and fair play to him for being open about his thoughts, it would appear Bridge views the game in the same fashion, but without that honesty.

If he had been willing to be flexible he could have found a new club long ago, but it appears that he now has other priorities in his life.  Winston Bogarde famously remained professional and continued to draw a wage from Chelsea even after numerous attempts from the club to move him along, he stated that no other club would offer him what he was receiving at Stamford Bridge, so why should he move?  Clearly players like this aren't playing for the love they are playing to earn money, and I have no problem with that if the players in question were honest about their mind set.

Bridge is happily ensconsed in leafy Alderley Edge with some pop starlet, they supposedly live happily and other than a few hours training each day he has no other responsibilities.  He hasn't been named in the City 25 man squad for the Premier League so he knows that his Saturdays will be free for him to spend as he see's fit.  No football loving professional would be happy in this situation but for Bridge it seems perfect.  He could have moved on, he could be playing football week in and week out, but he would prefer to spend his time doing other things and still be paid for it.

The concept makes sense to me in many ways, why would you leave a highly paid job to do the same thing for less somewhere else, but this isn't a man who is short of money, he has earnt enough over his career to last him a life time, by this point it makes no difference whether he is earning his 90k a week at city or 20k a week at Leicester.  Bridge in my eyes can no longer claim to be a 'professional footballer', he may do what is expected of him so he can continue to be paid, but his desire and love for the game died long ago.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

League Cup 3rd Round: City V Birmingham Report

It is fair to say that the League Cup is hardly the most inspiring of competitions, maligned by many and ridiculed by some there is a definite argument that the competition is in desperate need of a shake up, and in truth last nights game was little more than a training exercise with City never needing to get out of 2nd gear let alone find 4th or 5th.

5 years ago City would have fielded one of their strongest teams and entered the competition a round earlier, it was something that we took seriously but we have come so far that last night the team fielded was a real mish mash of the good (Tevez, Balotelli & Zabba), the bad (Bridge) and the ugly (OK, who am I to judge?!).  On paper it could have been a mouth watering tie as it pitted the 2 domestic cup winners against each other, Birmingham were victorious in the League Cup last year beating Arsenal in the final but since then their fortunes have slipped and surprise relegation has dumped them back in the Championship, and the defense of their title never really got going if the truth be told.

City of course won the FA Cup and it has left us all with a taste for more success and no matter what we think of it, this is a competition that is definitely there for us to win and therefore I hope we treat it seriously as we progress.  Understandably it was a weakened team last night, and they got the job done with relative ease but if we are drawn against more challenging opposition next time out I would like to see us field a stronger side and really go for it.

The home team controlled the game throughout and youngster Abdul Razak and debutant Owen Hargreaves marshaled the defense well sitting in front of a back line that contained a returning Kolo Toure, Stefan Savic, as well as misfits Wayne Bridge and Nedum Onuoha.  Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli functioned to a reasonable level upfront, supported by Zabaleta and Kolarov providing width.  

Hargreaves was fiery and hard working on his debut and he seemed to be well up for the challenge, he managed to play 60 minutes he kept things simple and tackled cleanly and well.  The most important challenge on the night for the player was coming through unscathed, anything on top of that would have been a bonus, the cherry on top however was the stunning goal he scored that gave City the lead.  He picked up the ball outside the box and swept a stunning strike into the back of the net just out of reach of Colin Doyle in the Birmingham net.  It was a sign of what the former England international is capable of, and when he was substituted on the hour mark to a standing ovation things were looking good, a few more run outs as a substitute and Hargreaves could really begin to offer something.

There was not much of note other than that really, City extended their lead through a well taken goal by Mario Balotelli who swept home a pull back from Kolarov, of course there was no celebration, it was efficient and the job was done.  The game descended into a period of keep ball, and other than a goal line clearance from captain for the night Toure after debutant keeper Pantilimon made a hash of a cross there was no real threat from the visitors.  Tevez went close in the second half but the Birmingham keeper pulled off a good save in a one on one position, the Argentine also went close with a free kick late on that narrowly skipped past the post.

It was a competent and comfortable performance from City played out in front of a slightly disappointing 25,000, but the important thing is that we are into the next round and whatever that might be bring, now onto the numbers:

Costel Pantilimon: 6 - Mixed debut for the giant keeper, really struggled with crosses which is odd considering his height, he did make a couple of smart saves though and his distribution wasn't too bad, whether he is adequate backup for Hart however is unclear.

Nedum Onuoha: 6 - After being frozen out for a long time it was a solid return for the defender.  He was deployed at right back and he assisted the attacking unit well, often overlapping Zabaleta.  His pace was always a threat and he was rarely threatened defensively to be honest.

Kolo Toure: 7 - A strong return from the Ivorian, he lead well and worked incredibly hard.  He was dominant in the air and made some good lung bursting runs through the middle as well.  Offered a solid steadying hand to debutant Savic too.

Stefan Savic: 7 - Showed why the club think he has immense potential, he showed confidence above his years, passed the ball well out of defense, his positioning was good and he also showed good pace to get across the ground, an impressive first start.

Wayne Bridge: 5 - To be honest he did nothing to push himself back into first team reckoning, he tried and toiled but he didn't really have anything to show for it.  Some passes went astray and the attacking side of his game is as poor as ever.

Abdul Razak: 8 - Great debut and one of the best youngsters i've seen at City for a while.  Not ready for the big games yet, but gets a high rating for his potential.  He did exactly what was expect with no fuss or errors, broke up play and moved the ball well, very impressive.

Owen Hargreaves: 7

Pablo Zabaleta: 6 - Played a much more advanced role than normal and didn't really do anything wrong, but didn't really do anything too special either.  Very neat and tidy and was always available to take the ball, never lacks enthusiasm and commitment but creativity isn't his game.

Aleksandar Kolarov: 6 - Set up Balotelli for his goal and as with Zabs he was always willing, but again he isn't exactly a wing wizard but he did show endeavour and his work rate has definitely improved since the start of his City career.

Carlos Tevez: 6 - Full of energy and buzzed about the pitch as we all expect him to do, but there was very little final product, nothing really came off and he tended to lose the ball on occasion.  He looked short of confidence with the one chance he did have hitting a tame one on one right at the keeper.

Mario Balotelli: 7 - Some nice touches and flicks and he did just about enough to get the 7.  If it wasn't for his goal he probably would have rated the same as Tevez, he showed more effort than I thought he might, be he really needs to work on a goal celebration.


James Milner: 6 - Replaced Hargreaves and did a perfectly adequate job in the City engine room.

Karim Rekik: 6 - The 16 year old Dutchman made his debut and looks assured.

Luca Scapuzzi: 5 - No real time to mark, barely had a touch of the ball.

As I have said it was a very straight forward victory but for me the most impressive display came from the young Ivorian Abdul Razak.  Until he got cramp late on he gave it everything he had and was wanting to impress, he did exactly what the holding role required of him, he won the ball, closed players down and moved the ball tidily and efficiently when he had it.  There is great potential there and I think more first team substitute appearances will follow.

Monday, 19 September 2011

New Development Plans Reveal Long Term Interest

Ever since Manchester City were taken over by the Abu Dhabi Royal Family there has been a lazy argument claiming that they have no interest in the club, the City or even football.  Anyone willing to do a little bit of research however would have learnt that there was nothing in those arguments whatsoever, and the announcement coming from the club today will go a long way to putting that silly argument to bed.

The club are hoping to create the best training facilities in the world for their first team, but also the best youth training facilities as well.  The remit of the development however goes further than just the game, one of the cornerstones of the plans is to aid the redevelopment and rejuvenation of one of the most deprived areas of Manchester, the needs and the thoughts of the local people are extremely high on the list of priorities.

As anyone interested in the game is aware, City have always been highly successful in youth development, but they have exhausted their current set up, and with these plans they will be able to go onto the next level and make the club the most attractive prospect in world football for young players from both Britain and further afield.  As well as a 7,000 capacity stadium (which will also be available to local community groups) there will be a state of the art education centre and accommodation for upto 40 players.  11 full sized youth training pitches (which again can be used by the community)as well as a half sized pitch, a specialist sports rehabilitation and injury centre, and all round facilities capable of the training of 400 young players.  As we are all well aware the future of football clubs isn't big spending to secure the best players in the world, the ideal model is a club nurturing the best youngsters who will eventually fill the first team and it is that process that sets the scene for this development.

The first team currently train at Carrington next door to Manchester United, but that site is no longer suitable for a club with the ambitions of City, the facilities are good but could be improved and these needs will all be catered for on the new site.  The ability to train in house will obviously be preferable for the players and it would make the match day experience for the first team squad much easier.

The focus however is on so much more than football, and whilst this is a football site I think it is important to not forget about the bigger picture, the club will be creating 160 construction jobs and 90 permanent jobs, 80% of which will be earmarked for local people, that is as well as a new 6th form college that will be part of the newly formed Etihad campus.  Local infrastructure will be greatly improved with the construction of 2 new metrolink stations and the environmental impact is clearly wonderful with this old brownfield site being totally transformed.  What is currently an eye sore is going to become one of the best facilities of its kind in the world.  The planting of tree's and hedging will ensure the site improves the aesthetics of the local area and this thinking is partly responsible for the huge positive feedback that the club has received.

People who raised question marks over the figure that Etihad have put into the club have clearly lost sight of the bigger picture, the sponsorship deal covers not just the stadium but also this forward thinking and impressive development centre.  There are clearly not just benefits here for the club but also the community that live around the site, anyone still questioning the mindset of our owners will now have to find something else to moan about because the notion of them getting bored and walking away at this point seems totally laughable.  The full scale ideas and thoughts behind the scheme can be seen here, hopefully any doubters can now be put in their place, Sheikh Mansour losing interest after a couple of years? Do me a favour...

Thursday, 15 September 2011

City V Napoli Report

After all the build up, the night we have all been waiting for finally came, and what a night it was.  It was emotional, exciting, thrilling and slightly disappointing all rolled into one.  We have been building towards the Champions League since the day that ADUG bought the club and last night the dream was realised, and for spells of the game we looked more than capable of mixing it at the highest level of club football, unfortunately there were also periods where we looked slightly overawed by the occasion.

As 'that' music built to a crescendo I think we all had high expectations, personally I felt it was a game that we had to win to get out of what is clearly going to be a particularly brutal group for the 4 teams involved.  I was very aware of the talents of the Italian side but I must now admit to be surprised by just how good they actually were, their attacking trio of Hamsik, Lavezzi and Cavani caused problems, but the more noticeable thing for me was just how organised and defensively astute they were.  For the majority of the game they were barraged by City attacks which they managed to repel repeatedly.

The first half saw City firmly on top, driven on by a superb atmosphere they flew out of the traps and created numerous chances in the opening period.  Nasri, Aguero, Silva and Dzeko were reunited as the front 4 and Napoli had to work hard to contain the effervescent attacking play.  Richards and Clichy were surprisingly omitted in favour of Zabaleta and Kolarov, it was a decision that I am not sure ultimately helped the team.  The width provided by the former 2 was sadly absent, the attacking threat of the South American and the Serb sadly not as impressive.  I suppose the thinking is that they would offer more defensively, but in a game we really needed to win I am not sure it was the correct decision.

City carved out a flurry of good chances, Dzeko saw a shot somewhere miss the far post, Toure slammed the crossbar with perhaps the best chance of the half.  We also caused problems from corners with Dzeko again seeing a header flash wide.  The only chance the Italians had was to be fair a pretty awesome effort, as Ezequiel Lavezzi turned away from Kompany and curled a wonderful effort past Hart only to see it crash against the crossbar.  It is credit to City that Napoli didn't even play badly and yet at half time they had been under immense pressure, which they had stood up too extremely well.

The second half was a bit of a different story, whether City were running out of idea's or Napoli decided to push out more, they were much more involved.  Our defense began to be put under more pressure and worryingly they didn't handle it particularly well, Kompany in particular seemed to not be on top of his game and made a few errors that lead to opportunities for the Serie A side.  The opening goal came from another City move that perhaps saw us over commit somewhat, Gareth Barry pushed a long way up the field and tried an out of character back heel in an attempt to find Nasri it never got to its destination however, Christian Maggio raced onto the loose ball and flew through the worryingly empty centre of the field before he fed the ball to Cavani who slotted the ball cooly past Hart to give the visiting side the lead.  It was a goal that had been coming in the second half, and proved that just one mistake will be pounced on in this competition.  

City to their credit rallied well and became more urgent, but they still seemed to lack the cutting edge that they couldn't find in the first half either, they were patient and worked some nice passing triangles but were unable to pick their way through the defense.  5 mins after Napoli had taken the lead, we were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box, at perfect range for Kolarov, he curled the ball beautifully into the net and brought the teams level, it was nothing more than they deserved.  The game then went into overdrive with both sides trading blows and to be fair it could have been snatched by either team, both threw the kitchen sink at it and City had a great chance to take a win with Sergio Aguero meeting a cross to only turn it against the bar, it was extremely unlucky.

It is only fair to point out that City weren't particularly bad, but they also weren't allowed to be at their best, a draw was probably a fair result on the balance of 90mins but really we should have taken one or two of our other chances that would have secured a victory.  Napoli to their credit were excellent, they defended well and countered with pace and precision, they will provide a really stern test for Bayern.  As for us, next is a trip to the Allianz Arena which clearly will be incredibly difficult, a victory blows the group wide open, but i'd probably take a point.

What of the individual performers, lets see how it broke down:

Joe Hart: 6 - Nothing he could really do with the goal, looked nervous at times but remained in control when some of those in front of him seemed to be struggling.

Pablo Zabaleta: 6 - Full of energy and his work rate was excellent, he was willing but didn't really manage to offer anything offensively meaning we were woefully short of width at times.  Battled hard and defended reasonably well however.

Vincent Kompany: 6 - Not one of his better performances at all, looks lost at times.  He did make one excellent clearance off the line but was at fault on several attacks and could perhaps have done better at times.

Joleon Lescott: 7 - Maybe I am in the minority but I thought he had a decent game, should have done better with a header in the second half, but defensively he was sound and every high ball that came forward he won, his positioning wasn't perfect but he battled very hard.

Aleksandar Kolarov: 6 - A mixed night, as with Zabaleta he was rarely a threat coming forward but immense for playing a long time with a broken nose.  He was willing and showed more effort than normal.  The free kick he dispatched for our equaliser was superb and he deserves much credit for that.

Gareth Barry: 5 - He didn't really perform that badly for the most part but his catastrophic error in the second half lead directly to the goal we conceded.  He began solidly, holding his position well, but as the game went on he got sucked too far up field and it cost us.

Yaya Toure: 7 - Struggled to get involved as an attacking threat, but mopped up extremely well.  He worked hard and snuffed out many attacks using his power and experience to great effect, he was also incredibly unlucky to not give City the lead early on after a superb sweeping attack.

David Silva: 6 - Sadly there was no sparkle from the Spaniard who was snuffed out by an extremely organised Napoli defensive unit.  He was counter acted by the denial of space there was no room for him to operate and sadly that made it difficult for the whole team.

Sergio Aguero: 6 - As with Silva there was just no space for the Argentine to play in, unlucky not to score late on when he hit the bar.  Credit goes to him for the endeavour that he showed but there was just not enough room for him to operate to the best of his ability, too often came deep and wide for the ball.

Samir Nasri: 5 - Probably suffered the most from the lack of space outside the Napoli area, his delivery at times was lacking and he was involved in the mistake made for their goal, on another day more would have come off for the Frenchman but it wasn't a great day at the office for the new boy.

Edin Dzeko: 7 - Continued his good form sadly though without adding to his goal tally, he looked like a real threat early on and his touch and poise made him very hard to handle for the opposition defense, saw a couple of shots whistle narrowly wide and perhaps shouldn't have been subbed for Tevez.


Adam Johsnon: 7 - Added real impetus when he came on and offered something really different, the Italians didn't know how to deal with him and his introduction should have come much earlier.

Gael Clichy: 6 - Attacked with passion and verve, should have started the game to add the width we sadly missed for the majority.

Carlos Tevez: 5 - I will give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he still doesn't look fit and ready, but time is running out on that excuse.

Tough to call a man of the match really, because no one really shone that much more than anyone else, for the most part everyone did a good job, but were inhibited by some fantastic defending, but for all round game i'd probably plump for Yaya Toure. He did well in the new role that is he doing for the club, worked well defensively and his experience of the competition was clear to see, he also attacked well and picked the right times to do so.  Went incredibly close to netting in the first half after a barnstorming run, Toure could be vital in our ongoing quest in the Champions League.  

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Rumour Mill: City Moving For £35Million Catalan Star?

Though the transfer window has closed, the rumour mill continues to churn out some of the most scurrilous rumours you could ever wish to have splashed across your back pages, and there is a gem currently forming.  Talksport and various other websites are reporting that after failing in a bid to sign Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi, Roberto Mancini will turn his attention to Barcelona anchorman Sergio Busquets, right, so who thinks there is any truth in this one?

It has become quite apparent in recent weeks that Bobby felt we were a bit short in that area of the field, the capture of Owen Hargreaves has the potential I think to be a particularly shrewd move but it appears to be a signing out of the bargin bin as opposed to the luxury aisle.  We were linked with forgotten Real Madrid midfielder Fernando Gago as well as De Rossi but neither of these moves came to fruition, whether Busquets is the answer I am not quite sure.

My own feelings were that even before the signing of Hargreaves we had more than enough cover in that department, but now with injuries to Milner, Barry and De Jong we suddenly look a little short, I suspect Zabaleta will fill the gap alongside Toure in our Champions League curtain raiser tomorrow night and I am sure he will do a perfectly adequate job.  Even with the injuries I am not certain we need more bodies in that area.

As for Busquets, well he is clearly an excellent player, he has kept Javier Mascherano out of his prefered position at the Nou Camp and his versatility is also impressive but I am not sure he is a £35million player, for me there are better options out there that would be considerably cheaper if the clubs staff continue to think it is an area requiring strengthening.

Young French midfielder Yann M'Vila is one player that I certainly believe would be able to do the job better and for less, Arsenal were linked with a £22million move for the Rennes midfielder towards the end of this transfer window only to see it rebuffed.  The youngster has been likened to Patrick Vieira and I cannot think of much higher praise for someone plying their trade in that position.                            

I think deep down though I can't get away from the fact that I just don't see it as a necessary purchase and with FFP looming large on the horizon it feels like a bit of an extravagance.  On top of that I would prefer us to look to youth, we are currently having a bit of an unlucky spell in terms of injuries in that part of the pitch, but surely we can look to players like Abdul Razak, a player of immense potential to help fill the gap.  He is a player that I really rate and I think we will see him appear on quite a few occasions this season.

I suspect this is a story based purely on the the fact that Mancini has made it clear he would have preferred to sign another defensive midfielder .  He did however capture one in the end, albeit not one of the big names that was his first choice, if Hargreaves can prove his fitness I can't see us needing any more bodies in that role.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

City V Wigan Report

So the City juggernaut continues to roll on, and Manchester (and Salford) as a footballing City('s) goes from strength to strength.  It is hard to pin point exactly which was an easier win this season, the opening day demolition of Swansea or yesterdays hammering of Wigan.  I would suspect ultimately that the Welsh side put up far more of a fight than the Lancashire club, perhaps surprising after the strong start that Roberto Martinez and his side have made to the season.

In truth the 3-0 scoreline doesn't really do City justice, it should have been 4-0 by half time and it could easily have been 7 or 8 by the final whistle, if we had been a bit more ruthless and clinical in front of goal we could have inflicted a similar thrashing to that which Wigan suffered at Spurs a couple of years ago.

Macini demonstrated the importance of his whole squad and rang some changes, Edin Dzeko was left out and rested after his heroics at White Hart Lane, as was Gareth Barry, Samir Nasri and Pablo Zabaleta.  James Milner, Adam Johnson, Micah Richards and Carlos Tevez came in to replace them and fortunately the changes didn't change the sides fluidity too much.

City took the game by the scruff of the neck early on with Sergio Aguero scoring his first with a really neat finish after good work by a rampant Clichy and Silva.  They were perhaps unfortunate to not build on the lead after Richards crashed the underside of the bar after a superb raid down the right, and again when Kompany hit the woodwork with a header off a corner, there was also a good chance for Adam Johnson to extend the lead when he cut in from the right hand flank.  The best opportunity however was a penalty, after Silva was crudely hacked down by Lopez, Tevez took the ball and hit (scuffed) one of the worst penalties that you are likely to see, it was so weak Al-Habsi could probably have just stepped to his left and picked it up!

1-0 at half time, and Wigan found a 20 minute spell either side of half time in which they managed to impose themselves on the game slightly.  Di Santo should probably have done better with a one on one situation where Hart had run out into no mans land, and just after the break Hugo Rodallega hit a low shot that wasn't so much saved by Joe Hart but deflected off the England keeper wide of the post, that however was all Wigan would really have.  

The introduction of Samir Nasri gave City an extra spark and it wasn't long before some exquisite one touch football between Silva and Frenchman released Aguero for his second that he slipped past the keeper into the corner for a supremely confident finish.  City became dominant again after the second was scored and the third wasn't far away, superb play again by the exceptional Silva where he showed skill, strength and technique resulted in Kun being released to calmly slip home his 3rd of the afternoon into the exact spot that he had dispatched the previous one.

City finished the game at a canter, Balotelli was introduced and he looked sprightly without any real service, youngster Abdul Razak was given a 10 minute cameo which I suspect will be built upon in the League Cup next week.  

If we are being ultra negative I suppose Adam Johnson could have done more, and really we should have been more clinical in front of goal and taken all of our chances, but that is really clutching at straws, it was another superb performance overall and it will further add to the confidence and good feeling that appears to be around the team and players.

Not let's get on with the all important figures:

Joe Hart: 7 - Would have been 6, not through poor performance, just had nothing to do, but I just watched 'tunnel-cam' on the OS and seeing his motivational speech before the second half was fantastic, so bumped to a 7! 

Micah Richards: 8 - Attacked superbly well again, showed determination to get forward but also back, was incredibly unlucky to not score in the first half when he hit the bar.  Dealt with Rodallega well at the other end of the pitch as well.

Vincent Kompany: 8 - Rock at the heart of the defence, unlucky to not score with a good header in the first half, organised well and mopped up everything that he had too.  He is really excelling in his role as captain with his right hand man Joe Hart.

Joleon Lescott: 7 - Was given a couple of scares by Di Santo but grew in confidence as the game went on, made one particularly good rampaging run early on.  Also should probably have had a goal from a Yaya Toure shot that the defender tried to deflect into the net.

Gael Clichy: 7 - The engine on this guy is insane, he is so much quicker than I realised.  He struggled with Moses at times but much like Lescott grew in confidence as the game went on, he also provided a couple of excellent crosses that unfortunately went unused.

James Milner: 8 - Another exemplary performance in the centre of the field, Mancini finally seems to have realised his best position.  He bombed on when required and got back to make vital tackles, does all the less noticeable dirty work well.

Yaya Toure: 7 - Plying his trade in his more natural holding role this season we are seeing less of Tourepartnership with Milner, they work well together.

Adam Johnson: 6 - A frustrating day for Johnson, nowhere near as bad as some would have you believe but always not perfect.  Work rate seemed improved, he tracked back well, but not everything came off for him, perhaps he overcomplicated things on occasion.

David Silva: 10 - Really not going to write much, it's all been said before.  Fantastic, magical, strong, full of endeavour, skillful.  There is no better midfielder playing in England currently, and not many better in Europe.

Carlos Tevez: 6 - Work rate is definitely still there, no loss of passion but not quite up to match sharpness yet.  He was a constant threat but had a tendency to take the wrong option at times, woeful penalty didn't help him either.

Sergio Aguero: 9 - Now scored 6 for the season and this was a great hat trick.  He passes and places the ball into the net and has the ability to place them right inside the post making them impossible to save.  His work rate is also immense and he just seems to love playing the game.


Samir Nasri: 8 - Steadied the ship when he came on and linked up wonderfully with Silva and Aguero, managed to notch up an assist on the short time he was on the pitch, he looks a real star.

Mario Balotelli: 6 - Didn't really make much of an impact, worked hard and scampered about.

Abdul Razak - N/A - No real time to judge, but good to see him getting time on the pitch.

I suppose it seems strange for a player to score 3 times and not get Man of The Match, and in the stadium that award went to Aguero and understandably he will get most of the plaudits but for me it has to be David Silva.  As always he was behind everything that City did, he ran the show and provided the tempo, he caused so many problems going between the lines and was impossible to keep quiet.  It is not just his skill and passing that is impressive his work rate and strength is also superb for a player that at first appears so lightweight.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Oh God! The Money's Run Out, How About These 2 On Loan Again?!?!

Kiki Musampa and Damarcus Beasley will surely solve all our problems....quick, someone get the collection bucket.