Brendan set for Boxing Day blues – MAN CITY v LIVERPOOL

‘So here it is Merry Christmas everybody’s having fun…’ so sang Noddy Holder in Slade’s Christmas classic number one, but forget whatever was under your tree – three points come Boxing Day night is THE perfect present for me!

And in the same way ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ was a chart topper with lyrics ‘Look to the future now, it’s only just begun…’ Manchester City could find themselves ‘Top of the Pops’ during the festive period with so much more to come.

Whereas the world and his wife are always welcoming of a man in red on the 24th-cum-25th of December, nothing could be further from the truth for the 45,000 men, women and children in sky blue on the night of the 26th!

Phenomenal - Fernandinho is showing why City paid £30m for him Courtesy @MCFC

Phenomenal – Fernandinho is showing why City paid £30m for him Courtesy @MCFC

It promises to be the proverbial Christmas cracker when Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool roll up to the Etihad for the biggest test of their title aspirations against Manual Pellegrini’s Premier League favourites.

Tis’ the season for tales of wonderment, so all City supporters will be hoping that despite the absence of Aguero, Zabaleta, Richards and Nastasic it will be nine out of nine home wins .

Stories have emerged of Zaba and Nasty returning to full training but surely it’s one request too many to Santa to have both key defenders back so soon?

As the football world admires the on-field genius of Luis Suarez – quite rightly so with 36 goals in his last 34 Liverpool appearances – City would be best served by fielding their best back four, arguably Zaba, Captain Kompany, Nasty and the fleet-of-foot Clichy, in his orthodox left back berth. This appears extremely unlikely.

Selection headache - James Milner could be an emergency right back for City on Boxing Day Courtesy @MCFC

Selection headache – James Milner could be an emergency right back for City on Boxing Day Courtesy @MCFC

If, as feared City are still missing a conventional right back surely the adaptable, reliable and in fine form, James Milner could do a job, and spare Clichy the risk of being wrong-footed down the right flank.

Similarly, does the right-footed Martin Demichelis continue instead of the left footed Joleon Lescott in a central pairing with Kompany?

Pellegrini is more than aware of Liverpool’s attacking prowess (42 PL goals scored places them second only to City’s 51) but, true to his football philosophy, the Chilean will simply want to outscore the opposition.

The loss of Sergio is a massive setback for City but still the goals keep coming, with four after he hobbled off against Arsenal, three at Leicester and four again at Fulham.


Missing in action - Super Sergio is sidelined from City's freescoring attack Courtesy @MCFC

Missing in action – Super Sergio is sidelined from City’s freescoring attack Courtesy @MCFC

Liverpool will be handicapped by the absence of ex-City Academy starlet Daniel Sturridge and England skipper Steven Gerrard, but it’s the prolific Suarez who City fans will be hoping overdoes the Christmas Pudding and brandy sauce – but fat chance of that!

Rather than get pre-occupied with the superb Uruguayan, Pellegrini is more focused on the damage his men can do to Liverpool.

For starters the ‘Beast of Christmas Present’ Alvaro Negredo, supported by none other than Jesus himself, David ‘Merlin’ Silva and Samir ‘The Renaissance Man’ Nasri will be looking to give Liverpool a stuffing, if not a right good old ‘Rodgering’ before Boxing Day Night is out.

The foundation stone of Fernandinho and Yaya Toure is a platform which is the envy of the Premier League, so all City fans approaching this game with an air of Suarez-induced apprehension…think again!

Rodgers may be catching the eye and getting all the plaudits in the media, rather like ‘Arry Redknapp used to do of old, but it’s the understated, non-limelight seeking Pellegrini who is truly coming into his own as the season progresses.

The Beast of Christmas Present - Alvaro Negredo leads City's attack  Courtesy @MCFC

The Beast of Christmas Present – Alvaro Negredo leads City’s attack Courtesy @MCFC

Lest we forget he started the season still grieving after the death of his mother, moving to a foreign country, adapting to a different culture, starting a new job, working with new personnel and needing to change City’s style of play.

How many people would have instantly hit the ground running? It takes time but now, just five months into the challenge, a consistent pattern is emerging…WINNING and winning with real panache and style.

Paddy Power, Bet Fred, Ladbrokes, Corals etc, what’s the betting City fans are getting ever shortening odds on Etihad victories that resemble rugby scores rather than football?

Ever the pragmatist, Pellegrini knows it is unlikely – not however impossible – for City to keep smashing opponents for sixes & sevens. City fans would happily ‘settle’ for the team’s PL average of a meagre three goals-per-game.

Pragmatic - Pellegrini wants to win every style Courtesy @MCFC

Pragmatic – Pellegrini wants to win every game…in style Courtesy @MCFC

At the start of the month Read But Never Red stated – somewhat optimistically – that 19 points of out 21 would put City at the helm of the PL going into 2014.

A win against Liverpool followed up by a 10th home victory against a fragile Crystal Palace, would achieve that phenomenal points haul, in a December that has seen four away wins for City side that ‘doesn’t fair well away from Fortress Etihad’. Just wait until the travel sickness pills kick in!

Back home, City’s sharpshooters will be going for their 59th consecutive game in which they’ve found the back of the Etihad nets. Set against that dazzling statistic are two Boxing Day blanks in the past two seasons in ignominious showings at WBA (0-0) and the Stadium of Dim – bloody Sunderland and the standard issue 0-1 reversal.

Keeping with recent history, City and Liverpool encounters have more often than not concluded in a stalemate. Six of the last nine PL games have been drawn, whereas City’s two wins and Liverpool’s solitary victory have all been conclusive 3-0 victories.

A Boxing Day night draw would mean the world to the Reds. It would be disappointing in the extreme for City, but not the end of their world.

Christmas 'Carol' - not quite but the Etihad will reverberate to the Yaya-Kolo theme on Boxing Day night Courtesy @MCFC

Christmas ‘Carol’ – not quite but the Etihad will reverberate to the Yaya-Kolo theme on Boxing Day night Courtesy @MCFC

It’s an intriguing prospect, one that could confirm City as clear title favourites or, alternatively present Liverpool as the real deal in the chase for top domestic honours.

One thing virtually guaranteed is the largest and loudest rendition of a song that never fails to create that certain something, a special atmosphere …no, not White bleedin Christmas, it’s the Yaya-Kolo anthem.

A home win will have the Etihad singing the blues in the knowledge that City’s days of glory have only just begun.

Noddy would be proud, but as for Big Ears, well he’ll probably have a bit of a headache after City jubilant supporters have pumped up the volume.



By David Walker



This article is dedicated to two true MCFC blues – Paul Glennon @paulandailz & Jacqui.E.(LadyBlue @jacqui77 – both battling bravely against massive health challenges this Christmas.



  1. December 25, 2013  8:44 pm by DOUGLAS HENSHAW Reply

    Good read as always Dave. Its going to be another tough one but at home were a match for anyone. If Captain Fantastic can keep Suarez quite then 3pts should be City's.

    • December 25, 2013  8:54 pm by David Walker Reply

      Let's hope so Doug, let's hope so!

  2. December 25, 2013  9:08 pm by Eileen Fullen Reply

    After all the festivities and today's feast I look forward to a brilliant start for our Boys in Blue can we have the confidence afforded only to our rivals in years gone by. As we have such shall I say a beautiful team in more ways than one. Haha .I feel the time is right for us to show our true strength tomorrow. And once again how lucky are we after the bygone era of typical City now I hope it's onwards and upwards. I am so looking forward to a truly remarkable Boxing Day and hope mine and other City hopefuls celebrate in style. A truly wonderful read yet again especially after the Xmas pressures. batter go the Bacardis taking hold haha

    • December 25, 2013  9:12 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanksh hic Eileen!

  3. December 25, 2013  9:38 pm by Simon Dear Reply

    Yes they have Suarez who is their only true world class talent , but we have one or two ourself and they need to find him from midfield which is where I can't see them over powering us .. Yaya & Ferna will have too much for them .. Would love to see Zabs back in so long as he's ready , we have bigger games than this to come which is why I tend to agree that this isn't a must win , more of a must not lose . But we know that's not MPs style!
    I fancy us for a 3-1 win in a real end to end encounter. Merry Xmas to you Dave & I look forward to your top of the table edition very soon .

    • December 25, 2013  11:17 pm by David Walker Reply

      And I look forward to writing any top of the table article anytime soon, but critically I want to be writing several in May 2014. Thanks Simon - Happy Christmas mate.

  4. December 25, 2013  11:13 pm by Kammy A Reply

    Merry Xmas Dave. I can see a victory on the cards for us. They don't have as many game changers as us regardless of who is missing in the end. The strength of our squad should show its force match day!

    • December 25, 2013  11:27 pm by David Walker Reply

      I like your thinking Kammy - 3pts any which way. Happy Christmas mate!

  5. December 25, 2013  11:32 pm by Ann Marie Reply

    Here's to 3 points tomorrow!! Great read as always. Ultimately we have more game changers than they do so here's hoping there's one more gift left for us blues.

    • December 25, 2013  11:39 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks for finding the time on Christmas night to read & comment. I tend to think Liverpool are good...but not THAT good. City to edge it...6-1

  6. December 26, 2013  12:07 am by John Reply

    Another fantastic read.
    Thank you.

  7. December 26, 2013  6:59 am by pete lynch Reply

    thanks David and belated seasons greetings. Let's take it to them, I feel an arsenal type game and scoreline

    • December 26, 2013  9:15 am by David Walker Reply

      Cheers Pete & all best wishes to you dear boy! MP has us winning and doing so as the great entertainers so I certainly would object to an Arsenal-esque win. That said I'd take 1-0 in added time if needs be.

  8. December 26, 2013  10:26 am by Graham Ward Reply

    Thanks, as always, for the preview, David. Hope you and your family had a Merry Christmas, and a peaceful day.
    Suarez is indeed someone to keep a very close eye on, but there's more to Liverpool than just him, lest we forget. Certainly rumours swirling round about our team, I just hope no risks are taken.
    I think we might just edge a game with plenty of goals.

    • December 26, 2013  12:21 pm by David Walker Reply

      Likewise Graham to you and yours. I'm of the same mind - City to edge it!

  9. December 26, 2013  2:01 pm by Mole Rocks Reply

    Rodgers has got the Liverpool team playing some very good football, however we have to believe, City at home, will be a tougher challenge!

    My wife's family and the majority of my oldest friends are strangely all Liverpool fans, so any victory, however scrappy would be welcome.

    The January transfer window opens in a few days, be interesting to see if MP, looks to strengthen the City defence, we can't always rely on scoring half a dozen goals more than the opposition every game.

    However it turns out, all is good in the Blue Kingdom, City are progressing in ever department, on and off the pitch!

    Merry Christmas blue comrades!

    • December 26, 2013  9:57 pm by David Walker Reply

      Just en-route back home on a relatively trouble-free M6 having secured the 2-1 win in a very tight affair with Liverpool. We're not used to nervous finishes are we?0

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