Champs to chumps – a game of two halves! Man City 2 Burnley 2

Manchester City’s champs became chumps as complacency, sloppiness and fatigue provided an escape route for a battling Burnley to pull back two goals and gain a deserved point.

In a pathetic second half display – right up there with the CSKA Moscow debacle – City imploded with an error strewn, lack lustre offering, one that contradicted all the credit accumulated in a nine-game winning streak.

New Year honours - City players and supporters pay their pre-kick off respects to those associated with the Club who died during 2014. Courtesy@MCFC

New Year honours – City players and supporters pay their pre-kick off respects to those associated with the Club who died during 2014. Courtesy@MCFC

The ‘p’ in professional was replaced by a ‘p’ for pathetic as City’s title defence descended into an abject exhibition. They were outfought and, amazingly, outplayed for long periods by Sean Dyche’s fitter, hungrier and more powerful side.

Ex-City FA Youth Cup winners Kieran Trippier and Ben Mee must’ve thought Father Christmas had arrived three days late, as the club that deemed them not good enough, swanned around like Big Time Charlies, heading for an inevitable fall.

Silva celebration - Merlin scored his 4th goal in three games. Courtesy@MCFC

Silva celebration – Merlin scored his 4th goal in three games. Courtesy@MCFC

Striker-less once again, the majestic brilliance of David Silva (four goals in three games) and a sumptuous slice of Samba finishing from Fernandinho, had given City a deserved 2-0 half time advantage.

The Champions obviously thought they were as good as home and hosed in a criminal example of over confidence. Such crass thinking was thought to be a thing of the past – sadly not.

It was the lowly visitors who were prepared to ‘Fight ‘Till the End’ not Pellegrini’s prima donnas.

Day off - Fernando picked up a yellow card which rules him out of the Sunderland game on New Year's Day. Courtesy@MCFC

Day off – Fernando picked up a yellow card which rules him out of the Sunderland game on New Year’s Day. Courtesy@MCFC

Admittedly Burnley found a more than willing ally in the awful officiating of Kevin Friend – who produced a lopsided display of congeniality towards the visitors – one which extended to a blatantly offside goal.

Alice band-wearing, George Boyd – the scutty little Scot who spat at Joe Hart while playing for Hull City last season – was clearly beyond the last defender when his deft flick from Danny Ings’ cross, eluded a hapless Hart.

Must do better - Joe Hart should've stopped Boyd's offside goal - the second howler he's conceded in 48 hours. Courtesy@MCFC

Must do better – Joe Hart should’ve stopped Boyd’s offside goal – the second howler he’d conceded in 48 hours. Courtesy@MCFC

Offside or not, Hart was hopeless as he conceded a second howler in two days, following his mis-punch at WBA.

Having just signed up for another four-and-a-half years, Joe needs to up his game…and while he’s at it learn how to kick straight. His distribution is often worse than that of express parcel carriers, Yodel and City Link.

None of Pellegrini’s players can escape the roll call of second half dishonour, although Aleksander Kolarov had a head start on his team mates, being just as useless in both 45-minute periods.

AK47 - Kolarov misfired all day long in a woeful display. Courtesy@MCFC

AK47 – Kolarov misfired all day long in a woeful display. Courtesy@MCFC

Mangala and Demichelis had looked comfortable and effective together in the absence of Kompany, but Burnley’s rough tough strikers Ashley Barnes and Ings had the better of them all day long.

City’s midfield, previously creative, hard working and incisive was simply blown away by a Burnley team who, with approximately half of the home side’s possession, were more accomplished and direct.

James Milner laboured long and hard but to little effect as the stand-in centre forward and the chances of him departing the Etihad, either in January or next summer, seems to be increasing.

Defenceless - Demichelis and Mangala were outmuscled by Burnley's frontmen. Courtesy@MCFC

Defenceless – Demichelis and Mangala were outmuscled by Burnley’s frontmen. Courtesy@MCFC

The England utility man has cited a lack of first team opportunities as the principle reason for leaving City on a Bosman, but the prospect of a £10m payday from a new employer has surely crossed his mind.

Pellegrini stated his players were tired after playing on WBA’s heavy snow laden pitch less than 48 hours earlier, but when you consider Burnley were putting out the same starting XI for the fifth game on the bounce, it really doesn’t wash.

Grafter - James Milner worked hard as a makeshift centre forward, but will he stay at City? Courtesy@MCFC

Grafter – James Milner worked hard as a makeshift centre forward, but will he stay at City? Courtesy@MCFC

Zabaleta and Kolarov were in for Sagna and Clichy as part of City’s squad rotation policy, but Yaya Toure’s absence was more of a mystery as Fernandinho started ahead of the Ivorian.

Magnanimous Manuel said Burnley deserved their point and few could argue, but what an opportunity missed as Premier League leaders, Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw at Southampton.

Only time will tell whether this draw is significant come May 24th – could it turn out to be a point gained rather than two dropped? It certainly feels like the latter at the moment…as it did when Sunderland snatched a 2-2 draw at The Etihad, before City went on to win the PL.

Battered but not beaten - Zaba shows the scars of his unfortunate collision with team mate Mangala. Jesus listens! Courtesy@MCFC

Battered but not beaten – Zaba shows the scars of his unfortunate collision with team mate Mangala. Jesus listens! Courtesy@MCFC

As has been pointed out to me ‘You can’t win them all’ and never a truer word spoken, BUT, when you’re the Champions of England, 2-0 up at half time, on your home territory against opponents languishing in the relegation zone, it’s pretty unforgivable.

For a third consecutive game City were missing any recognised senior forward, skipper Vincent Kompany and, on this occasion, Yaya into the bargain.

Nonetheless there cannot be any adequate excuse.

Conversely, back in early November, any City fan offered a deal of nine wins and a draw to see out 2014 would surely have taken it?

Dampener - City re-group and go again after the disappointment of surrendering a two goal lead over Burnley. Courtesy@MCFC

Dampener – City re-group and go again after the disappointment of surrendering a two goal lead over Burnley. Courtesy@MCFC

When languishing eight points behind Chelsea, and knowing any stumble could see Mourinho’s synchronised diving squad go 11 points clear, what self respecting City fan would have refused a position of sitting just three points behind Chelski as the New Year dawns?

Pellegrini’s maths have improved somewhat since Bayern Munich in December 2013, and he’s quick to emphasise there are still 57 points to be plundered. A vital three of those on January 31st would go a long way to deciding the destination of the PL crown.

Samba sensation - Fernandinho struck an exquisite second goal. Courtesy@MCFC

Samba sensation – Fernandinho struck an exquisite second goal. Courtesy@MCFC

Once the anger and disappointment of a thankfully rare show of gutless football from City, subsides another ‘p’ word comes onto the radar – perspective.

Pellegrini has had to deal with players suffering a World Cup hangover, UEFA Financial Fair Play constraints which undoubtedly had an adverse impact on City’s transfer dealings last summer and a pretty horrendous spate of injuries to key players.

The fact City are second with the prospect of Kompany’s imminent return, Jovetic potentially staying fit for longer than it takes to boil an egg and Sergio and Edin back by mid-January, is cause for optimism.

Work in progress - Pellegrini still has City on course to retain the title, despite the setback against Burnley. Courtesy@MCFC

Work in progress – Pellegrini still has City on course to retain the title, despite the setback against Burnley. Courtesy@MCFC

What isn’t so clear is what leverage will City have in the January transfer window? How limited are the funds, thanks to Michel Pratini?

A new striker would seem an imperative, but high calibre strikers don’t come cheap.

How ironic that the likes of lower league forwards Barnes and Ings – costing next-to-nothing in relative terms – could wreak such havoc in City’s defence.

Could Txiki Begiristain broker a deal with a club for a prize asset in a similar fashion to Valencia’s loan signing of Alvaro Negredo? It’s a loan deal but the La Liga outfit are compelled to pay City £25m this coming summer.

Super strike - Dino hit his first goal of the season...and it was a beauty. Courtesy@MCFC

Super strike – Dino hit his first goal of the season…and it was a beauty. Courtesy@MCFC

Had that fee factored into the FFP equation, and a last minute deal to sell Matija Nastasic not have gone pear-shaped, City may well have already had a fourth striker on the books.

The out-of-favour Nastasic and the recently re-appeared ‘Invisible Man’, Scott Sinclair, along with John Guidetti, on loan at Celtic, could bring in £15m+ in transfer fees, to help fund any acquisitions.

And then of course, there’s the situation with Milner. Will he sign, will he go on a free next summer or will City be forced to try and cash in?

On yer bike - will any of City's squad be moving on and new signings coming in during January? Courtesy@MCFC

On yer bike – will any of City’s squad be moving on and new signings coming in during January? Courtesy@MCFC

City would do well to bring in at least one addition, ideally two, but January is a seller’s market and thankfully City no longer do knee-jerk, over inflated transfer deals.

They can but hope they won’t pay too heavy a price for their bungling against Burnley.



By David Walker @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu


  1. December 30, 2014  12:15 am by Mark Shaw Reply

    Sadly, yet again there has to be a mention for the pathetic excuse of the officials in charge of a City game. How many times this season have we bemoaned their ineptitude? What's equally funny is Jose Mourinho this week claiming their is a "Campaign against Chelsea". He obviously hasn't seen the bias against us this season by referees! Not that that is an excuse, as good as we were in the first half we were as poor in the second half against the six fingered inbreds of Burnley. As for FFP I think we have £16m to spend before any money made on transfers out, so the £15m (Approx) you mentioned on top will buy us a fairly decent striker which we were so desperately missing the last few games. Still, 1 point against Burnley is 1 point closer to the title

    • December 30, 2014  12:22 am by David Walker Reply

      Absolutely Mark. Does Mourinho actually think these referees will 1) be taken in by his adolescent rants or 2) even have the intelligence to recognize a bluff/double bluff call it what you will. Friend was bloody awful - like the OVERWHELMING majority of his colleagues. As for my write up, well I'm City through and through and realize we can't win every game. It was the manner of the way we played in the 2nd half which angered and frustrated. How can they be complacent and expect to win trophies? Inexcusable. If we're beaten by a better team based on skill and talent then we have to accept it. To be outfought - even in a draw - is not acceptable. Thanks for your excellent comments.

  2. December 30, 2014  12:23 am by Paul Glennon Reply

    Another great write up David, I'm not like you I'm still seething what a waste of two points. Would of liked to of seen Lampard on sooner to steady the ship, to much complacency in the team. I know it can't happen but we need a Striker and the stupid thing is we own a world class one in Negrado take him back for a six week period or give Guidetti a crack, I don't know by rights we should be able to buy who we want we're not in debt like other top clubs.

    • December 30, 2014  12:43 am by David Walker Reply

      Cheers PG. It's bloody Napoleon Platini and his corrupt bunch who have contributed to this, whereas Manure, laden with £350m debt go and spend £150m...and still can't get close to us. Negredo was a tough one as he didn't want to be in Manchester for various reasons. Guidetti doesn't appear to be good enough for the PL - 4 managers have taken a look at him and none have given him a go...but what do I know? We had a bad half, we just need to ensure we don't have many, if any, bad halves between now and May 24th...SIMPLES ;-) Take care my friend and love to all the family #TOGETHER

  3. December 30, 2014  3:42 am by Steve halsall Reply

    Most of our spine missing over last couple of months , I think it was inevitable if a tad unprofessional that we had a 45 mins like we did against burnley on Sunday , I think had yaya been available it may not have happened ( but that's just my opinion ) . Onwards and upwards and if we win 9 and draw 1 every 10 games we ain't gonna be far off come may ....

    • December 30, 2014  8:27 am by David Walker Reply

      We have done extremely well in adversity, and of course 9 wins and a draw would be absolutely fine every 10 games ;-) Nonetheless, in my opinion the second half should not have unravelled in the way that it did due to the poor mental approach of the players.

      If people think I am being overly harsh then that's fine, but put in perspective, it's acceptable for a couple of players to be off key now and again, but 11 all at once at the drop of a hat? Thanks for your feedback.

  4. December 30, 2014  4:17 am by Simon Wilson Reply

    Hang on a minute. Yes, the second half was pretty awful but not a bad time to phone it in. Everyone except Arsenal, Newcastle, and Stoke did the same. Can't really acknowledge the sanctimonious St. Brenda; I just can't. There have been more worrying times this season and we have most certainly pulled through! BM, Roma etc. Trust in MP. A happy New Year to the greatest soccer family on earth!

    • December 30, 2014  7:48 am by David Walker Reply

      I'm as trusting of MP as ever and fully expect the dire 2nd half performance to be a blip, rather than a trend. Nonetheless it simply should not have happened and could yet prove costly. I'm no fairweather fan but it was woeful and unpalatable. MP has worked wonders, but the players let him, themselves and the supporters down through their idiotic complacency. Thanks for your comments.

  5. December 30, 2014  6:58 am by guy Burke Reply

    Very sloppy second half , but i agree with Simon. There was no major harm done -more of a lost opportunity of which there will be several more in the next 19 league matches?

    • December 30, 2014  7:53 am by David Walker Reply

      It's all about opinions GB and debate is always welcome. It was just so very unprofessional and utterly avoidable. It's almost as if we have to have our backs to the wall to perform to optimum levels.

      We joke about City always doing it the 'hard way, but it need not and should not be like that. Nonetheless it's still very much the case of #TrustOurMP who has done very well in adversity this season.

  6. December 30, 2014  9:04 am by Eileen Fullen Reply

    Totally agree with you-shambolic second half I for one was seething at their lack of passion..that 2 points would have given us an edge-again threw it away..
    Hope you had a great Xmas with your family and all the best for the New Year.

    • December 30, 2014  10:22 am by David Walker Reply

      Thanks for your view Eileen - the main frustration being that the fans could see it coming so why not the players? Happy New Year to you & yours - one that will be all the better if we can pick up that big shiny trophy on May 24th.

  7. December 30, 2014  11:40 am by Richard Cooper Reply

    Certainly not what we expected at half time. Before the 1st Burnley goal we appeared to "come out" for the second half at half pace. The goal was of course diabolical but was assisted by the slow reaction of Joe Hart.
    What the wily Mr Dyche said at half time certainly worked and the "Dingles" worried City all over the pitch, harassed,probed and eventually got their reward. How a team 2-0 up could allow that to happen is a bit unbelievable.
    Silly booking for Fernando, we missed Toure (was he injured or was he being rested ?), Kolorov poor all day, the not so elegant Mangler was harassed all day (2 steps forward and 1 back it seems).
    I won't go on any more about that 50 minutes.
    Put that game behind us and the real test of character will come on Thursday and all being well last Sunday will be put in perspective.

    • December 30, 2014  5:51 pm by David Walker Reply

      Very well put - as per usual RC. I think Yaya was injured as he is being bracketed with Kompany as a possibility for Sunderland match.

  8. December 30, 2014  11:42 am by GeorgeInIsrael Reply

    I predict that City will stay unbeaten for the rest of 2014!!

    • December 30, 2014  5:53 pm by David Walker Reply

      You must have a crystal ball George. Does it hurt when you walk? Cheers fella - Happy New Year - hope it's a peaceful one, not only in the Middle East, but the world over...fat chance.

  9. December 30, 2014  11:43 am by Blue Since 77 Reply

    "thankfully City no longer do knee-jerk, over inflated transfer deals."

    Mangala? I'm absolutely baffled as to why we had to spend so much on him, when there seemed to be better, cheaper alternatives, not least in the Bundesliga. It seems our Spanish duo limit their transfer targets only to the Iberian peninsula, which is worrying when Portuguese football is overrated purely on the performances of a player who hasn't played there for years... and Spanish football is basically two teams, and one of those not what it was.
    The number of mistakes Mangala makes is depressing. He seems to panic at the least thing. For the money we spent we shouldve had the finished article not someone who could be good in a few years, but could cost us a title this year.

    But I don't think you can write Milner off after one poor game. I really hope he re-signs. I wish we could get Pogba too and cash in on Yaya.

    In the long term, I'm getting pissed off with football in general. MUFC's 300 million war chest, Platini virtually rigging it so they become the leading English team again within 5 years. It's all being set up for an invitation only Euro SuperLeague of which we will not be a part. I'm wondering if the players are getting a sense of what's happening as they read all the MUFC transfer rumours every day. Jason Roberts on BBC Radio talked of United building a 'Dream Team' - just what Platini wants, all the talent concentrated in a few money-spinning franchises he can have endlessly playing each other on subscription tv.

    • December 31, 2014  12:23 am by David Walker Reply

      Can't disagree with too much of what you say, albeit Mangala was targeted for a long time so at least the 'knee jerk' element is correct. I think and hope he will come good after a period of adjustment, but you're right - for that sort of money we should be bringing in players who are more accomplished and will settle quickly. Still it happens to the best of them e.g. Henry, Vieira, De Gea, Evra, Vidic - excuse some of the more distasteful examples.

      Forgive me if I conveyed the impression that I was writing off James Milner - far from it. I would love him to stay but as an outsider, I wonder if his head will be turned by Arsenal or Liverpool. That said a City team at it's very best would NOT include Jimmy as a starter. Were he not English, there would not be such importance attached to his staying.

      Pogba would be much preferred over the raw potential of Barkley, whose transfer price will be grossly inflated because of his passport status, not his ability. Koke at Atletico Madrid would be a great addition and, as you state, he should be on the radar if all eyes point to the Iberian peninsular.

      As for the likes of Jason Roberts...pffffffff!

      Thanks for your comments.

  10. December 30, 2014  1:28 pm by pete lynch Reply

    Still very annoyed at Burnley display Dave. So unprofessional and sloppy to give a way a 2 goal lead to such opposition. AK has a sweet left foot however he had a howler and frankly his desire and commitment stank the place out. We have had an incredible run but this game couldnt have been any easier and we blew it! No panic here just frustration at a golden opportunity missed. Joe, AK, Jovetic all need to raise their games

    • December 30, 2014  5:55 pm by David Walker Reply

      With you 100% Pete - let's hope it's the last lack lustre offering of the season. Of course we'll drop points from time to time, but it was the manner of it that frustrated and annoyed.

  11. December 30, 2014  3:50 pm by Doug Henshaw Reply

    Great read Dave & spot on i agree with every comment you have made.The second half was a total disgrace but i take nothing away from Burnley they did what we should of been doing got stuck in & almost took the game away from us. Lets hope it wont cost us in the long run, i know we have done well without a striker but how that game was crying out for Sergio in the first half i felt him & Merlin would of ripped Burnley apart & we would have gone in at half time feeling very comfortable. There was a lot of very angry blues walking away from the Etihad on Sunday & all of us were of the same opinion it never should of happened.

    • December 31, 2014  12:25 am by David Walker Reply

      You said it all Doug. Thanks as ever for supporting RBNR with your readership and feedback - always appreciated.

  12. December 30, 2014  4:12 pm by Neal Everett Reply

    A good report again David. I hope the two points dropped don't come back to bite us later in the season - though I fear it will unless Chelsea have a bad run. I think we should have funds in place for a decent purchase in January despite FFP. On this topic I can't get my head around how absurd this whole thing is. As a City fan, I've tried to look at the application from both sides of the table and gain a fairer perspective but I just reach the same conclusion: it's protectionism and illegal in the free market. If the original intention was to encourage financial prudence and preserve sporting integrity then FFP has failed miserably. Led by chief protagonists Arsenal and Bayern, the rules have been effectively bent to outlaw owner investment and prevent City (and PSG) challenging the old guard. What's more, UEFA now seem intent on regulating our entrepreneurship and money generating initiatives. We took the punishment on the chin last time, but push us about anymore and this thing will end up in court where it will be exposed for what it really is. Anyway, let's start 2015 on a positive note with a victory over Sunderland.

    • December 31, 2014  12:37 am by David Walker Reply

      Brilliant insight and comments. I hope and believe FFP will come a cropper and Jean Louis Dupont will nail the garlic quaffing Napoleon's corrupt cartel. I look forward to the press conference where PRATini has to say UEFA are returning the £16.2m they stole from us and gave to our rivals in both English & European football - how bent was that? It wouldn't have been so bad if it went into grassroots football or to charitable purposes, but no, they give it to the likes of Chelsea, Bayern, Barcelona etc - 'ckin madness.

      If push comes to shove, I know where my money would be in a courtroom battle between Sheikh Mansour & UEFA!

  13. December 31, 2014  11:17 am by Toby Teasdale Reply

    What on earth prompted MP to give Joe Hart the captain’s armband? If he can’t inspire himself, what chance of motivating the rest of the team?

    Not only did Burnley outplay us in the second half, their supporters out sang us too (with or without the aid of the Etihad's acoustics). With a full house we never even reached our paltry 71 decibel Etihad norm,

    The family end tried their best, but the atmosphere was ‘flatter than a witches t*t’, colder too.

    Guinness book of records has Seattle Seahawks ‘Qwest Field’ is the world’s noisiest stadium. Its partial roof and seating decks trap and amplify the noise and bang it back down to the field increasing decibels to 137.6 (pop concert level).

    When we extend the North Stand, consideration must be given to improving the acoustics, encouraging singing and the atmosphere generated.

    Let’s at least aim for the same level of output the Junior Blues provided at Maine Road!

    The crowd really can be the 12th man!

    • January 1, 2015  2:25 am by David Walker Reply

      There is a big requirement to pump up the volume at the Etihad in times of trouble. We have good views and decent company in the Colin Bell Level 1, but try getting the buggers to sing when all is not going well...

      It's incredibly frustrating, but it's each and every individual's prerogative whether they wish to urge their team on or not. Let's hope the design of the extended Etihad will indeed lend itself to capturing if not amplifying the decibels generated. But, of course, we must ensure it's generated in the first place. Cheers TT, hope to meet up in 2015.

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