Back to the future – Man City v CSKA Moscow

As football clichés go a ‘must win’ game is up there with the best.

Mathematically, Manchester City could still qualify from Group E of the Champions League, even if they fail to beat CSKA Moscow at the Etihad this evening.

In truth, anything less than three points would see City in a right old mire with their backs well and truly to the wall, struggling to reach the knockout stages.

Blowing the whistle on under achievement - City must blast CSKA away and progress in the Champions League. Courtesy@MCFC

Blowing the whistle on under achievement – City must blast CSKA away and progress in the Champions League. Courtesy@MCFC

It’s a vital game for Manuel Pellegrini’s team and one that promises to begin with City’s supporters turning their backs to the pitch as UEFA’s evocative ‘Champions Theme’ blasts out prior to kick-off.

Large portions of an anticipated capacity crowd are planning a symbolic display of contempt for European football’s controlling body, following its disgraceful handling of affairs in Moscow a fortnight ago.

UEFA protest - City fans are encouraged to turn their backs to the pitch when the Champions League anthem plays tonight.

UEFA protest – City fans are encouraged to turn their backs to the pitch when the Champions League anthem plays tonight.

The racist ridden and universally reviled Russian champions had been ordered to play home fixtures behind closed doors, punishment for the appalling behaviour of rioting CSKA fans in the opening group game in Rome.

Doors open - CSKA mysteriously managed to have hundreds of thuggish supporters in the stadium, despite a UEFA ban on their fans. Courtesy@MCFC

Doors open – CSKA mysteriously managed to have hundreds of thuggish supporters in the stadium, despite a UEFA ban on their fans. Courtesy@MCFC

City’s travelling fans were also denied admission to the 18,600 Arena Khimki, and yet 350 or so CSKA yobs were clearly seen and heard cheering their side during the 2-2 draw, as the Sky Blues squandered a two-goal lead.

Worse still, UEFA have since commuted the original three-match ban to two e.g. the games already played against Bayern Munich and City, and halved a £158,000 to £79,000.

No action is being taken about CSKA flouting the ban against City, and the revolting Russian club’s thuggish following will now be able to attend their final home game against Roma on November 25th.

Empty seats? - The Etihad will be bursting to the seams tonight. Courtesy@MCFC

Empty seats? – The Etihad will be bursting to the seams tonight. Courtesy@MCFC

It’s yet another shining example of UEFA malpractice and one that sickens followers of the game. City and visiting Bayern Munich fans are planning a unified ‘backs to the Champions League anthem’ protest when they meet at the Etihad, the same night as the Muscovite mob and any AS Roma supporters turn up at the Arena Khimki.

CSKA fans are supposed to be banned from attending in Manchester and no tickets were allocated to the Russians.

One can only hope that if any Moscow fans do find their way in to the game – and clearly display their colours – they are immediately ejected.

Pointing the way out of Group E - Zaba and Yaya prepare for tonight. Courtesy@MCFC

Pointing the way out of Group E – Zaba and Yaya prepare for tonight. Courtesy@MCFC

Forget any notions of liberalism on this, the night that celebrates the thwarting of the plot to blow up Parliament in 1605, City need to put a rocket up the Russians both on and off the pitch!

A 45,000 crowd need to make the visitors feel as welcome as flatulence in a Russian cosmonaut’s space suit and make it a red hot reception on a cold night in Manchester.

Without the services of David Silva, Frank Lampard and Aleksander Kolarov, City still have more than enough firepower to do what they did in the first half in Moscow – annihilate their opponents.

Wrap up - on a cold Manchester night Yaya and Samir need to give the Russians a red hot roasting. Courtesy@MCFC

Wrap up – on a cold Manchester night Yaya and Samir need to give the Russians a red hot roasting. Courtesy@MCFC

It’s one of football’s great unsolved mysteries as to what befell Manchester City in that horror show of a second half , albeit the Russians had a 12th man in the form of the Hungarian referee.

City will be buoyed by victory in the weekend’s tetchy Manchester derby, a 1-0 win which ‘should’ve been six’, had another dodgy referee awarded three penalties to the Sky Blues – therefore signalling a Manure collapse.

Sergio Aguero is as hot as any bonfire in the kingdom with 13 goals this season and, with confidence revived, City have to press home their superiority.

Blazing a trail on Bonfire Night - sizzling Sergio will be keen to score goal number 14 of the season and more this evening. Courtesy@MCFC

Blazing a trail on Bonfire Night – sizzling Sergio will be keen to score goal number 14 of the season and more this evening. Courtesy@MCFC

Hopefully Pellegrini will cease tinkering with the defence and will field the same back four as Sunday, namely Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis and Clichy.

A settled defence has to be the way forward to providing firm foundations and getting City back on track, especially with Aleksander Kolarov out of contention for a month, after injuring his calf in the warm up before the derby.

Eliaquim Mangala has recovered from a thigh strain and, at £32m, clearly represents the future at centre back for City. Conversely the composed, established and experienced Martin Demichelis has to be the here and now, alongside skipper Vincent Kompany.

Rising star - Mangala is the future at centre back for City, but Demichelis is the present incumbent. Courtesy@MCFC

Rising star – Mangala is the future at centre back for City, but Demichelis is the present incumbent. Courtesy@MCFC

Yaya, now showing signs of last season’s Toure-de-Force, is instrumental in City’s recovery plan in Group E. Samir Nasri, having shaken off any ring rust following surgery, will now be relied upon in the creativity department in Silva’s absence.

A win, preferably by a handsome margin, given Roma’s 5-1 home demolition of CSKA, could put City’s Champions League fate back in their own hands.

If Bayern Munich can go even close at the Allianz Arena tonight, to emulating their spectacular 7-1 win in Rome, City will be in second place in Group E, a point clear of Roma with a superior goal difference.

Go Joe - City could be head and shoulders above rivals Roma after tonight. Courtesy@MCFC

Go Joe – City could be head and shoulders above rivals Roma after tonight. Courtesy@MCFC

Pellegrini is often – and with some justification – criticised for his almost religious adherence to a 4-4-2 formation. City have been outgunned in midfield on several occasions against high calibre Champions League opponents, but CSKA cannot be considered in that bracket.

If City can’t see off this Russian rabble with a 4-4-2, a 4-4-1-1 or a 4-5-1, then they surrender any aspirations of being part of the seating plan at European football’s top table.

Notwithstanding UEFA’s attempts to spike City’s guns with Financial Fair (Foul) Play restrictions, Pellegrini needs to engineer Champions League progression in the eyes of the club’s owner.

Stick with the programme - Fernando will need to cover more than the match day edition to see off CSKA tonight. Courtesy@MCFC

Stick with the programme – Fernando will need to cover more than the match day edition to see off CSKA tonight. Courtesy@MCFC

Forget about ‘must win’, if it’s a case of ‘can’t win’ then City will be a laughing stock across Europe. That must not happen.

#TrustOurMP

By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu

12 Comments

  1. November 5, 2014  9:53 am by Laughing Gnome Reply

    Excellent article and I couldnt agree more with you. As for the despicable UEFA and spineless Platini they have been bringing the beautiful game into disrepute for many years now. Lets hope our fans protest against this useless rabble starts a campaign for change.

    • November 5, 2014  10:53 am by David Walker Reply

      Sadly I think that UEFA and FIFA will only start paying attention to how the masses feel towards their corrupt and clandestine regimes when it will hit them financially. That can only be achieved when corporate sponsors listen to their customers and start pulling out of collaborations with Platini, Blatter etc. So how do we - the fans - get the attention of the sponsors? Stop buying their products and services unless they are prepared to use their commercial clout as leverage to have more accountability and transparency from football's governing bodies. Sadly, it could be a cold day in hell...

      Thanks for your feedback.

  2. November 5, 2014  11:00 am by Richard Cooper Reply

    I am not sure how far up a rocket can go but hopefully it will be far enough for us to regain some credibility in the Chumps League, and let's do it with a "sparkling" performance.
    I think anything less than a win will leave City with a hell of a mountain to climb and will once again be the focus of the forever negative media.
    I find it surprising that Toure has been recently subject to "doesn't care, want's out, lazy etc etc" (some of it perhaps justified) whereas Van Pursestrings doesn't even get a mention in the press. Just an example of the press negativity where City are concerned.

    • November 5, 2014  11:08 am by David Walker Reply

      Excellent observation on the Yaya and RVP comparison. If, God forbid, we don't beat CSKA, then we would probably be deserving of whatever criticism comes our way. As dedicated as I am to MCFC, if we don't blast the Russians then it's inconceivable that we will beat Bayern and get whatever might be required in Rome. I'm sure it won't come to that and I still believe we can and will qualify.

  3. November 5, 2014  12:29 pm by Doug Henshaw Reply

    Great article David & i totally agree lets stick it up the Russians & UEFA i for one will defiantly be joining the protest against that corrupt organization. Its another must win game for us Dave just hope MP does as you say & stick to same defense.

    • November 5, 2014  3:00 pm by David Walker Reply

      Cheers Doug. Just setting off now up the motorways to go put one on Putin's mob!

  4. November 5, 2014  2:54 pm by Graham Ward Reply

    Pretty fair summary of the issues facing us prior to this game. CSKA are fairly detestable, and hopefully we'll give them a deserved thumping tonight.

  5. November 6, 2014  12:38 am by Toby Teasdale Reply

    “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
    ― Winston S. Churchill

    • November 6, 2014  7:58 am by David Walker Reply

      It's not really as if we have a choice!
      Last night was a football version of Dunkirk...but the boats didn't show up.

      • November 6, 2014  6:03 pm by Toby Teasdale Reply

        More like Stalingrad.

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