ASTON VILLA 3 MAN CITY 2 – Black day for sky blues in Brum

In modern day football parlance one always looks for the positives in a performance, irrespective of the result.

Perversely there were some for Manchester City, but whatever vernacular is applied, a loss to a weakened Aston Villa is pretty inexcusable.

There are lies, damned lies and statistics but the numbers clearly didn’t stack up for Manuel Pellegrini’s men after twice surrendering a lead and dominating the play.

Bright beginner - Yaya Toure's volley looked set to put City on their way to a first away win of the season...but no!

Bright beginner – Yaya Toure’s volley looked set to put City on their way to a first away win of the season…but no!

Possession is nine-tenths as the adage goes and City had 67% of it but ended up with 0% of the spoils. It’s as bemusing as it is disturbing that with 20 shots at goal compared to Villa’s eight, along with 13 corners contrasting with two, that City lost.

Unlike the shock defeat to Cardiff and the indifference of the draw at Stoke, the men from Manchester looked smooth and slick in a first half where Yaya Toure’s 45th minute volleyed goal was scant reward for their total domination.

With Aguero nursing a knee injury Pellegrini opted for what ultimately transpired to be an ill advised strike duo of Dzeko and Negredo. Surely it is one or the other and City badly missed Sergio’s surgical precision in front of goal.

Edin for victory? - Dzeko put City in front for a second time...but still it didn't secure a point for the men in black

Edin for victory? – Dzeko put City in front for a second time…but still it didn’t secure a point for the men in black

Whether Aguero would have been selected if fit with Bayern Munich bound for the Etihad on Wednesday is debateable. Champions League glory – or at least substantial progress – is a fundamental element of Pellegrini’s brief, but surely not at the risk of sacrificing a Premier League ripe for the taking?

It may be a dilemma in the Boardroom, but for the vociferous and voluble travelling support, a second PL title in three years – ripping it back from the clammy clasp of the Swamp dwellers – would be ample reward from Pellegrini’s debut season in England.

It’s a given that City must progress to the CL knockout stage, but surely only a minority of fans genuinely believe the Sky Blues are ready to be crowned European champions in Lisbon next May?

Like a rather dodgy Australian daytime soap opera, City’s form is transparently divided into the ‘Home & Away’ categories. Pretty nigh on imperious at the Etihad, the team are not faring well on their travels.

Bemusement on the bench - why is City's away form so poor?

Bemusement on the bench – why is City’s away form so poor?

They’ve won just three of the last 12 PL away games – a paltry 25% – but in fairness Pellegrini has only presided over a quarter of those fixtures.

Nonetheless, from having had the best defence in the PL for three years on the bounce, there are presently 12 teams with the same or better defensive record.

Conversely City are the top scoring team, but title-winning teams build success from the backline.

Mitigation comes in the guise of a glut of injuries to hit in the first half-a-dozen games with Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy and Richards all affected. Once Pellegrini is able to consistently select his best back four – or three – the goals against column will stop accumulating.

It probably sounds like sour grapes, but whereas the Villa fans were understandably giddy about beating City – their tormentors of the last decade – it has to be said they were aided by the abject refereeing of Mike Jones and a lamentable ‘linesman’.

El Ahmadi’s 51st minute equaliser WAS offside – marginally or otherwise – it shouldn’t have stood. The free kick from which Leandro Bacuna fashioned a fabulous second equaliser was hugely contentious.

Matija Nastasic was the fall guy after Weimann went looking for a leg to topple over, rather than the Serbian defender pro-actively perpetrating the foul.

Culpable Kompany - City's skipper was partly at fault for Villa's winning goal

Culpable Kompany – City’s skipper was partly at fault for Villa’s winning goal

It’s one where opposing factions will argue until the sun goes down. Villa’s winner was down to defensive dillying and dallying from Kompany and Nastasic who failed to deal with a routine Guzan clearance, allowing a now upright Weimann to scamper clear and slide the ball past Joe Hart.

The pre-match expectations of Villa fans were as high as a snake’s belly so the usually comatose home fans were now understandably, fully subscribed adrenaline junkies.

It was akin to how City supporters would feel if City were about to beat Everton & Tottenham away simultaneously! It’s a great feeling laying a bogey team to rest.

Villa’s staggering two minute turnaround had been preceded by Edin Dzeko’s headed strike from a Nasri corner, the Frenchman’s second assist of the afternoon.

Navas - Nasri swap - Pellegrini's second half substitution puzzled many

Navas – Nasri swap – Pellegrini’s second half substitution puzzled many

Showing the sort of tenacity and talent that originally led to his £24m move from Arsenal to City, Nasri was given a rousing show of appreciation when substituted for Jesus Navas in the 66th minute.

It was a strange switch given that Nasri was the brightest bulb in City’s illuminated attacking armoury. Many felt that James Milner – giving a below par performance by his standards – would have been a more likely candidate to leave the arena.

The shock defeat sees the Pellegrini popularity pendulum swinging into the negative zone with some supporters, but now, more than ever, we need a balanced and positive perspective.

A solitary point from a possible nine away from home is undoubtedly a cause for concern. City should never have lost a game against a Villa side who, rather like a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western XI, were a team of ‘no names’.

Villa fans will most likely see that as an outrageous affront – it isn’t intended in that fashion – but contrast it with City’s collection of household names, and you’ll get the gist.

Whether City – consciously or sub-consciously – thought they just had to turn up to bag the points is hard to say. Realistically, not a single Villa player from yesterday would make City’s starting line-up – so how the hell did City contrive to screw up?

Perhaps the derby destruction of Manchester United has been over emphasised, especially after their capitulation to Villa’s neighbours, WBA.

Could it be that United are no longer the barometer of a PL rival? What if a David Moyes ‘inspired’ Dark Side lose 10 times this season and slip out of the top four – it’ll be of little comfort to City if they themselves are trailing behind London’s newly found title challenge.

The biggest threat to City comes not from Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea or that lot from Trafford. It comes from within as it did last season. It’s a matter of focus and desire – simples!

Good times ahead - Dzeko, Milner & Co will surely be in good shape come the end of 2013...

Good times ahead – Dzeko, Milner & Co will surely be in good shape come the end of 2013…

Judgement Day does not dawn in September, October or November. This new-look City, with Pellegrini’s more expansive style of play, should be more closely scrutinised upon the completion of the CL Group stage in December in alignment with the club’s position in the PL.

Last week MP was an all conquering hero – three wins in three different competitions, 12 scored only one conceded and City were the Majestic Masters of Manchester. One defeat – as unpalatable as it was – shouldn’t detract from what will ultimately be a very pleasing bigger picture.

Oh, and as for finding every possible positive in the face of adversity – the Holte End snack bar does a very satisfying hot dog and onions!



By David Walker










  1. September 29, 2013  10:57 am by Grant Mills Reply

    Another great read although I have to admit to Home and Away being my guilty pleasure, I have even visited Palm Beach (Summer Bay)! I've been saying for a while to forget Utd and focus on Spurs/Arse/Liverpool as they look the better teams. These up and down results are simply not good enough. We have the players to run away with this league yet we are making hard work of it again. I can only hope that makes success much sweeter come May. However that appears unlikely at this stage. CTID

    • September 29, 2013  12:53 pm by David Walker Reply

      Guilty should be ashamed of yourself ;-)

      Yesterday's result sucked but we have our destiny in our own hands but we need to be mindful we genuinely ARE playing opponents and officials - it's bloody ridiculous week in and week out. Mark Halsey's new book 'Added Time' strips bare the PL bully boy cartel, wouldn't surprise me if there's an agenda against MCFC somewhere in there.

  2. September 29, 2013  11:11 am by Dave Lloyd Reply

    A bitter pill to swallow considering our superiority in possession but as you say its to early to start panicking.May is along way away that is when any post mortems will have to be evaluated.Keep up the good work.

    • September 29, 2013  12:55 pm by David Walker Reply

      It's a pill we should NEVER have had to take - we are so bloody infuriating at times - our own worst enemy!

  3. September 29, 2013  11:12 am by Rob Leek Reply

    Interesting young man, very interesting. The answers to your questions appear simple from the perspective of a Holte Ender. 1) Passion 3 - Money 2. 2) Nastasic should have had a yellow for the cynical, lazy attempted block on Weimann. 3) MP shouldn't have taken Nasri off - he was ripping us apart throughout the game 4) therefore was great! 5) Villa produce household names, don't buy them - producing them drives cohesion and passion - see point 1 above. All in all, not a fun day out for Citeh. The day's results are another indicator of the ever decreasing quality within the Prem. Champions League? You're 'avin a larrff!

    • September 29, 2013  1:03 pm by David Walker Reply

      Well at least I can count fella 1, 3, 2.2, 3, 4, 5 I mean what are you some sort of mean judge off Strictly Come Dancing ;-)

      You don't buy household names because you can no longer afford them, neither have you produced many of late. I'm glad you enjoyed your fun in the sun - it obviously helps having 14 against 11 at all times.

      See you sometime soon fella.

  4. September 29, 2013  11:14 am by Rob Leek Reply

    Therefore was meant to read the Ref!

    • September 29, 2013  1:04 pm by David Walker Reply

      Innumerate and illiterate - you go yodel for your tea!"

  5. September 29, 2013  11:17 am by Alan Baxter Reply

    Have you ever dressed in the morning, checked your wallet and feel you must have been robbed? That's how I feel today.

    • September 29, 2013  1:05 pm by David Walker Reply

      What - you mean you want me to return the wallet? Can I keep the cash...?

  6. September 29, 2013  11:34 am by Doug Reply

    Watched the game last night David if we had taken the chances in the first half we would been out of site.A lot of those chances were heading to goal only to get a lucky deflection away.There first goal was offside second was a great free kick third nine times out of ten the cb would have cleared. All in all I think it was a freak result but were we are domaniting games we need to take advantage & kill teams of early.

    • September 29, 2013  1:07 pm by David Walker Reply

      I am tiring of having to find a way of allowing our profligate boys in sky blue off the hook. If they did their jobs properly we wouldn't be experiencing this rollercoaster ride of a season.

  7. September 29, 2013  12:39 pm by Graham Ward Reply

    This result was certainly a puzzle, and hard to explain. Football, only this?

    • September 29, 2013  1:08 pm by David Walker Reply

      Sounds like a blast from the past #FORZA MANCINI where ever that might be.


  8. September 29, 2013  12:52 pm by Simon Dear Reply

    Another very balanced read but I still can't help feeling that MP lacks a little bit of know how in the PL . I would put money on Kidd nudging him at 2-1 up and saying " Ok boss get Joleon on and take the points " . It just smacks a little of disrespect to these so called mid table teams that MP seems to think we can then canter to 3 pts, especially this early in the season when teams are fresh and full of vigour at home. I would rather see us shore things up for the last 20 mons and come away with at least a point rather than nowt. My worry is that we will have far tougher away games and winning ugly is a must . I don't care for Moyes and what's going on there .. One man team and we knew that last season nothing has changed. I agree MP has one eye on Bayern as a win puts us in the driving seat but like you correctly refer to .. Most City fans we want the title back at the Etihad and Champs league glory wont happen anyway if we don't cement the Top 4. I still think we have the by far the best squad in the PL its how we use it will determine our fate .

    • September 29, 2013  1:13 pm by David Walker Reply

      In full agreement. Undoubtedly MP will be on his own learning curve, new culture, new league, opponents etc that's only to be expected. Six months in the job will be a fair indicator of if we're going in the right direction at the right pace. 11 points off next 5 away games will show that we ARE on the right road to being PL champions.

  9. September 29, 2013  1:44 pm by Simon Dear Reply

    Lets hope so .. That will be a healthy return . Think I'm right in saying that we have 4 away games on the bounce after our bogey side ( Everton ) at home . Lets hope MP has taken on the role of GP and found a cure for our away day travel sickness .

    • September 29, 2013  2:47 pm by David Walker Reply

      Well if we can only pick up 25% of the 15 on offer e.g. 4ish points we will be out of the PL title race before Christmas IMHO. Don't think that's going to happen...

  10. September 29, 2013  2:36 pm by Mole Rocks Reply

    So City were villians and not heroes yesterday.

    Disappointing considering the previous 3 results, however all reports note City actually maintained a high quality of performance.

    As the Wigan game showed, I don't believe MP under estimates any opposition, especially as he'll have never played Aston Villa before.

    I agree with other comments, I don't think United are going to be the barometer of a good season, Chelski and Arsenal are the demons to be conquered this time around.

    Still trusting in MP, so no negative pendulum swinging from me!

  11. September 29, 2013  2:45 pm by David Walker Reply

    Good man - keep your pendulum under control at all times. Hate Sundays after defeat on a Saturday.

  12. September 29, 2013  2:50 pm by Dave Bones Reply

    MP's subbing of Nasri instead Milner is a indicator of Champions league over Premier being given priority,he's sees Nasri as more important,hence saving him for Bayern.
    Great read as usual David.

    • September 29, 2013  3:15 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Dave. It's a tough call if you had to choose PL over UCL. UCL gives you global coverage, promotes the brand and brings the money in but I wouldn't want it at the cost of dominating English football. Liverpool won it in 2005 but it somehow lacked credibility #dilemma

  13. September 29, 2013  7:27 pm by Simon Dear Reply

    Iam not swinging the pendulum against MP I just think his team tactics away from home in the PL need adjusting as in both games we have surrendered leads in the later stages when we should have been taking at least 4 points . I don't think a win against Wigan at home in the 3rd round of a secondary cup competion ( with due respect to both ) is any barometer for success , if I'm honest I would rather see us give our EDS side a run out and get 3 points in the PL at Villa . What we have to remember is we are some way off Barca & Real Madrid etc in
    terms of Champs league and I would like to see us earn the tag of top dogs in our own back yard before we can really take on the UCL. I fear if we are not careful the top 4 tag will come under serious scrutiny at the cost of what ? A quarter final place in the Champs league . ( at best ) . Spurs , Chelsea, Arsenal have all improved massively this season and then comes Liverpool .. Lets not take our eye of he PL ball .. That should be our priority... For now .

    • September 30, 2013  10:56 am by David Walker Reply

      Well crafted comments Simon and words which make a whole lot of sense. Thanks for your continuing support for RBNR.

  14. September 29, 2013  11:28 pm by Ian Barton Reply

    Got to agree we seem to beat ourselves, as we said last week we must beat the lesser lights such as Villa. Intensity EVERY week not just against the better teams. Game should have been over by half time , poor officiating didn't help but that shouldn't have mattered. Just heard Jason Roberts on MOTD2 say Villa were the better side, what planet does he come from?

    • September 30, 2013  11:00 am by David Walker Reply

      Planet MOTD -another footballing institution that dislikes MCFC's rise to the top of English football. Ref Mike Jones seems to have a history against City - he is one of the most inept of a bad crop of officials - I didn't say corrupt did I because that would be libel! It's so frustrating when we have the personnel and the tactical savvy to blow teams like Villa away. This away form cannot continue if we want to be PL Champions.

      • October 1, 2013  1:50 am by Frank Reply

        You should see the anti City sentiments from Warren Barton on Fox Soccer here in the US. He can barely hide his bias. Luckily we dont see him as much now that that BPL has gone to NBC

  15. September 30, 2013  1:54 am by Frank Reply

    I really don't see the need to change tactics. I'd be more concerned if we played terribly like Cardiff and Stoke and we didn't. We can't start Negredo and Dzeko together. But you know something? We said that about yaya and Fernandino and look how good they are together now. This is a work in progress. There is vision here. It's coming together. We HAD this match and two bad ref calls and one defensive oversight (Nastasic had a bad game). This never EVER should have happened and this is a perfect example of awful officiating. Regardless, there is no excuse. When he subbed Nasri out, I think there was confidence we could contain this match and rest the man who has been one of our best players for Champions league. As you and I were tweeting about yesterday, I think the blame is on the team here and not MP. We need a champion mentality. the rags have fallen apart without baconface and I think MP can drill that winning mentality into us. let's see how we do this week. I just hope down the line this match didn't cost us.

    • September 30, 2013  11:01 am by David Walker Reply

      Great observations Frank - we are as one. Cheers.

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