CHELSEA 2 MAN CITY 1 – Take heart, City will rise again

Languishing in a far from magnificent seventh place, six points off the summit of the Premier League with three away defeats before November – Manchester City can still be crowned champions next May.

Doubtless there’ll be howls of derision, accusations of being a sanctimonious ‘happy clapper’ and totally delusional, but in the wake of this cruellest and most unjust of defeats, City’s Engineer can fix his machine.

Manuel Pellegrini’s battle plan to if not to take The Bridge, to at least contain Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, minus his Commander of Ground Forces – Captain Vincent Kompany – was a hair’s breadth away from being accomplished.

Hart stopper - City fell foul of a defensive mix up at Stamford Bridge

Hart stopper – City fell foul of a defensive mix up at Stamford Bridge

Of course, the focus is all on City keeper Joe Hart after his calamitous last minute mix-up with Matija Nastasic served up a gift wrapped dollop of redemption for Chelsea’s fallen idol, Fernando Torres.

It was a hideous howler that, in a stroke, transformed a tactically savvy, soundly engineered draw, into what some would have us believe is an irrecoverable seismic slip up, which has the Hart haters and Pellegrini detractors wildly salivating.

Led like clueless lambs by a media that likes nothing more than to twist the knife between City’s shoulder blades, our football crazy nation is probably of the opinion that The Engineer wouldn’t know one end of a spanner from another.

I beg to differ, albeit with one vital caveat.

A defence, constantly disrupted by injuries whilst trying to adjust to wholesale change from a zonal to a man-marking system, has to tighten up… and pretty damn quickly.

Calm before the storm - Chelsea and City served up a feast of PL entertainment in the second half

Calm before the storm – Chelsea and City served up a feast of PL entertainment in the second half

The absence of Kompany is gargantuan. His influence is profound and the drop in quality when he’s not in the team is frightening. That said, the skipper was culpable with Nastasic for Aston Villa’s winner in City’s ridiculous reversal at Villa Park, last month.

All the emphasis in undoubtedly strengthening the team this summer, with the arrivals of Fernandinho, Navas, Negredo and, to a lesser degree at this stage, Jovetic, saw the potential defensive flaws ignored.

But there again, the shortcomings were not obvious to see –  this was a Roberto Mancini manufactured defence, that had delivered the best ‘goals against’ record in the PL for three consecutive seasons.

Centre back is the position where the alarm bells have been ringing all season long. If VK isn’t there it can be Manchester mayhem at the back.

The sooner the Belgian Boulder returns – and stays fit – the better.

City ARE the best team in the PL with Kompany in the ranks. Nonetheless, Pellegrini will surely want to spend whatever it takes to recruit a top, top quality central defender in January.

Close quarters - Chelsea and City were locked in stalemate until Torres' last minute winner

Close quarters – Chelsea and City were locked in stalemate until Torres’ last minute winner

He also needs to bring in a goalkeeper to push or even surpass Hart – in the short term.

Hart is a superb player who should be at City for the next 8 –10 years. On his day he’s world class but, for whatever reasons, he is suffering at present.

Do City need a new goalkeeping coach? Will Joe benefit from temporarily being removed from the firing line? Is he left exposed to often by a defensive unit struggling with a new dictate?

The witch-hunt of recent weeks has been disproportionate, but something is undoubtedly amiss. But, for all of those screaming for surgery to remove Hart from the team, who would they have as his replacement?

If not Joe, who is the man to infuse confidence between the sticks into a dilapidated City defence?

Super Sergio - Agueros' equaliser should have seen City home with a draw...but it wasn't to be...

Super Sergio – Agueros’ equaliser should have seen City home with a draw…but it wasn’t to be…

This inquest would not even be on the agenda had City been rewarded with the point that their efforts so richly deserved yesterday.

Sergio Aguero was sublime as a sole striker as Pellegrini displayed his tactical malleability.

City’s adored Argentine scored his ninth goal in seven appearances – an absolute screamer – to bring City level after they’d fallen behind to Schurrle’s opener.

Torres had skinned Gael Clichy for pace down City’s left flank, before teeing up the classy German for the simplest of goals.

Awarded the Man of the Match laurels, Aguero saw the end of his quirky record of never having been on a losing City team when he’d scored in the PL.

Crest fallen - City celebrates Aguero's equaliser not knowing the calamity was to come...

Crest fallen – City celebrates Aguero’s equaliser not knowing the calamity was to come…

It speaks volumes of City’s second half performance that only the most dyed-in-the-wool Chelsea fans would deny they deserved full time parity. Jose Mourinho’s men could and should have been 3-0 up by half time.

Cahill and Torres both found themselves bewilderingly onside as City’s back line was more marshmallow than well marshalled. Thankfully both blasted their gilt-edged opportunities over the bar.

Martin Demichelis making a surprise debut, given his lack of match fitness, was no better or worse than Zabaleta, Nastasic and Clichy in a unit, displaying all the togetherness of a Swiss cheese, with gaps aplenty.

Fernandinho worked tirelessly tidying up with tackles, dispossessing the opposition and thwarting Chelsea’s attacking threat.

Flying Fernando - Typical, Torres chose to hit top form against City

Flying Fernando – Typical, Torres chose to hit top form against City

Javi Garcia,trying to make a decent fist of slotting into his preferred midfield role, was selected ahead of the more robust James Milner. The jury is still out on whether the Spanish international brings enough to the party. Only time will tell.

His compatriot, David Silva, most definitely does, constantly linking smoothly with the effervescent Aguero, to pose City’s counter-attacking threat along, with Samir Nasri.

But it was Garcia and Silva’s countryman, Torres who underwent something of a zero-to-hero metamorphosis during the play. His 28th minute miss from six yards out, whilst totally unmarked, was what we have come to expect of Fernando in royal blue.

Beaten black & blue - City's Nasri loses out to Ashley Cole

Beaten black & blue – City’s Nasri loses out to Ashley Cole

His cross for Chelsea’s opener, his sensational strike that struck the crossbar in the 37th minute and his goal-poaching, never-say-die instincts for the last minute coup de grace, was much more in keeping with his red-shirted glory days at Liverpool.

As the ex-pin up boy of Spanish football chased down City’s young Serb centre back, there was almost a premonition of impending horror as Hart ventured to intercept the threat.

The cacophony of sound no doubt swallowed up any shout resembling ‘Keeper’s’ from Joe. Matija couldn’t leave the ball in flight – inertia wasn’t an option.

What followed was a football tragedy for two young City players with so much left to give. Both have the potential and ability to rise above this setback – and that need be all it is – and come roaring back.

Leading the charge - An Aguero led City will soon be back challenging at the top

Leading the charge – An Aguero led City will soon be back challenging at the top

 

Mourinho showed a lack of respect and class in his crazy goal celebrations. Pellegrini countered with contempt and disdain for his nemesis, but in so doing, displayed a steely resolve to stamp out ‘stupid’ errors.

No handshakes, no bland niceties and no doubt City are not where they want to be at this stage of the season.

Together - Pellegrini & Aguero will soon  have City back in title hunt

Together – Pellegrini & Aguero will soon have City back in title hunt

Nine games down and 29 to play, City have the players, manager and abilities to put this tale of West London woe behind them.

There are many vociferous and vitriolic City fans who want to discard Joe Hart like yesterday’s rubbish, who have never put their faith in Manuel Pellegrini and never understood why Bobby Manc was sacked.

I am not among them, but irrespective of divisions in the sky blue support, City fans must continue to back their team in a season that could yet be the club’s greatest ever.

 #TrustOurMP

By David Walker  www.readbutneverred.com  @djwskyblu

 

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27 Comments

  1. October 28, 2013  1:13 pm by Alan Baxter Reply

    Once we achieved parity I thought Chelsea were pretty much bereft of ideas and again a hopeful hoist forward and either poor communication or panic for no reason undid all that had gone before. Watching our defence recently I find myself becoming increasingly anxious awaiting the inevitable slip up. Vital as Kompany is he does seem to be picking up injuries regularly and you are right in stating we need solid, experienced cover at the back.
    The alarm bells aren't ringing yet but considering we've now played over a quarter of our away games for the return of just 4 points, our away form certainly needs addressing.

    • October 28, 2013  5:18 pm by David Walker Reply

      If we can put a run together, get CL qualification sorted by Bonfire Night and keep the skipper fit then City are in business. I think we might be going for Mangala from Porto - good acquisition - in January. #TrustOurMP. THANKS AB

  2. October 28, 2013  1:46 pm by Eileen Fullen Reply

    Hart breaking as it was yesterday we must as you say stand firm in support of our team.
    But doubts will set in with the team as a whole if it's left to stagnate we need to improve defensively in January we cannot depend on VK as unfortunately he's injury prone and Pellers belief in Garcia is worrying.
    No panic as yet but we always seem to shoot ourselves in the foot.

    • October 28, 2013  5:20 pm by David Walker Reply

      Garcia tries, but remains unconvincing

  3. October 28, 2013  5:03 pm by Frank Reply

    David you continue to be the voice of reason. You were the first to coin TRUSTOURMP and you are correct. This IS a better team, in fact, this is a GREAT team that is going to become very very dangerous. I think yesterday's tactics were solid (other than Garcia, which is baffling to me as the match was completely suited to Milner). That being said, I fully trust MP. However, it seems certain players have blossomed under MP (Nasri, Kolorov), while others have faltered...none more than Joe Hart. I don't pretend to know what goes on behind the scenes, but he has started to cost us quite a bit and something has to change. Either Pantillimon has to step up or Joe needs some serious re-training. He IS great, but he seems to make the SAME mistake over and over. I am concerned these early losses are going to really hurt us down the line, especially since we are playing really well!

    • October 28, 2013  5:24 pm by David Walker Reply

      I just hope any GK changes are temporary and that Joe Hart is with City for many years to come.

      • October 28, 2013  6:31 pm by Frank Reply

        I fully support that statement. I wouldn't say sell him at all of course! He just needs to find his form. It's interesting how Mancini wanted to replace him, i think he knew something we don't?

        (also, VOTED)

        • October 28, 2013  11:18 pm by David Walker Reply

          Thanks Frank. Joe obviously is in a comparative slump but as far as I know he's a dedicated professional, bags of ability and ambition and the old adage of class & form spring to mind. I would love him to go on & become a legend at City with half-a-dozen PL titles and a couple of UCL wins - I don't ask for much! Chatted to him on a few occasions and he's a really grounded and genuine fella.

  4. October 28, 2013  5:56 pm by Doug Reply

    As ever, completely agree with every word David. Proud of our performance yesterday but we need to shed our Jeckyll and Hyde character. Still best team and we can still win league but defence needs addressing fast. Can't rely on VK being fit to see us through. Onwards and upwards.

    • October 28, 2013  11:22 pm by David Walker Reply

      Splash the cash in January if Porto will sell Mangala for £25m. It would help if they are out of UCL by then. I'd also go for Baines, although he's probably set for The Swamp or Luke Shaw from Southampton. I think Lescott will be on his way if we do sign another CB. Ironically Lescott had a good game against Everton - last time he was given an outing.

  5. October 28, 2013  6:17 pm by DOUGLAS HENSHAW Reply

    Top read as usual Dave.I dont understand people calling for the Manager's head over what to me was a goal keeping mistake. I thought he set the team up right trying to stop Chelsea midfield players & it almost worked.I just wish people would understand Mancini isn't coming back no matter what happens. Why we miss Vinny so much is a mystery that MP needs to sort.I take no pleasure in this but Joe has to be rested I said this after Bayern he is making to many mistakes that could be very costly to us I dont know whether this would have a good or bad effect on Joe. But Cardiff & I know it wasnt all his fault Villa, is another how many more is there in the pipeline. It was Joes fault at Chelsea even Vinny would have done the same as Nastasic did had Joe stood his ground the ball would have gone straight to him. MP has got to act before its too late.

    • October 28, 2013  11:23 pm by David Walker Reply

      Agreed Doug. I still hope Joe is the man for City long term.

  6. October 28, 2013  6:23 pm by Mikey Kendall Reply

    Do you find it worrying the of british players not in our starting 11. If joe is replaced no doubt it will be some one from overseas. Milner is always over looked. I do trust mp. But city need a core of british players. You need them for the tough away days villa cardiff etc. We are a english team and well want to see english player aswell as great overseas players. Arsenal had non and struggled. Now they have 5 or 6. And becoming a better team for it imo.

    • October 28, 2013  11:26 pm by David Walker Reply

      Great observation MK. I agree in principle, it's just identifying players of the right calibre and at the right price. I now wish we had bought Sturridge back from Chelsea for starters. Would like Baines & Barkley from Everton as they are of the right standard. I wonder if Martinez would fancy fellow Spaniard Garcia at Goodison as part-ex...no, didn't think so.

  7. October 28, 2013  6:23 pm by mark james Reply

    if 86 points win the league we can only drop another 8 points from our nxt 29 games.. im not convinced mate we need to go on one hell of a run yes we are capable but i just cant see it happening especially with the clubs obsession with the (european blag league) champs league !!

    • October 28, 2013  11:28 pm by David Walker Reply

      But if - IF - we beat CSKA on November 5th MP can stick the EDS lads out against Plzen and Bayern and go for broke in the PL. If we're top four and within 5 points of the top on New Year's Day we can do it.

  8. October 28, 2013  6:41 pm by Susan Richardson Reply

    Balanced as usual. I must say I get the jitters again (these had all but gone over the last couple of seasons) when the ball is played into our defence but I do think MP got it mostly right yesterday. I didn't think Garcia had a bad game but why the foul no need and could be costly. As for Joe and Nasti well yes bad mistake and they need to learn from them but some of the vitriol is disgraceful, we know how well he can play so some extra coaching maybe the solution. Mourinhos celebration was because he thought he might lose! winning by a comedy moment does not make him the better coach he has no class either.

    • October 28, 2013  11:31 pm by David Walker Reply

      I 'sink' I would like Jose to sink. Even though MP didn't shake his hand our man emerged with more dignity and class than Mourinho could ever muster. He's good box office and the media suck up to him but the aura he once held has gone. Devstated by the result but encouraged by the display, City are well capable of going on unbeaten run of 12-15 games and putting this league to rights.

  9. October 28, 2013  7:18 pm by Grant Mills Reply

    What really annoys me is that apart from 15 mins at the end of the 1st half we were the better team yday. Unfortunately continued errors like that may well cost us the title.
    In terms of Joe I think a rest maybe due which would take the pressure off him for a while. Pants will benefit from more game time too.
    Looking at the next set of fixtures the aim should be to win all the games up to Liverpool on Boxing Day (Bayern aside). Long way to go yet but we need some consistency. Come on City.

    • October 28, 2013  11:36 pm by David Walker Reply

      Agreed. Let's find the best GK coach who is available and get him working with Joe. Bring in a rival Number One and we'll see the best of Joe. It's not his fault but he isn't challenged sufficiently. I still retain faith in him in the medium to long term.

  10. October 28, 2013  8:00 pm by Eggsy Reply

    Changing Hart IMO would be a mistake, for one no disrespect to Pants, but he's no where near as good. Some think it will do him good being dropped, I honestly think it will have a negative effect and ruin his confidence. It's now as fans when things aren't going as well as we'd like, to show what good supporters we are and rally round the team and help them rather than barrack and make it worse.

    • October 28, 2013  11:38 pm by David Walker Reply

      It's a tough one with Joe. I love the guy to bits - great player and a very genuine person in my experience, but something isn't right. Hope he'll be our Number One for the next decade.

  11. October 28, 2013  8:26 pm by Tidds1 Reply

    David you are spot on. Every city fan should be thinking on being the best in the prem not slagging certain players off. We'll said mate.

    • October 28, 2013  11:33 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks mate - I just don't get the mentality. I wonder how many ever saw inside the likes of grounds at Wycombe, York and Lincoln? Social media can be a great force for positivity but a poisonous stream for others to spout bile.

  12. October 28, 2013  10:02 pm by Glyn Rathbone Reply

    Glad to see you're still backing us for the league as I'm still saying it. Even tho we struggled 1st half MP had them firing on all cylinders second half & we pretty much bossed the game in their own back yard. Unfortunately still not convinced with Garcia even tho he wasn't to blame for the goals. Never been so frustrated in giving a game away as I was yesterday. We didn't deserve that but individual errors will occur. I think Pantilimon would have played this Wednesday anyway but I can see him keeping him in for the Norwich game too to take Hart out of the firing line. I can see him going in for a top class keeper,centre half & possibly left back in Jan but what do I know. Great read & excellent assessment.

    • October 28, 2013  11:40 pm by David Walker Reply

      Sounds like we're on the same wavelength - hope it's a case of 'great minds think alike' rather than 'fools never differ.' Whichever way - #TOGETHER

  13. October 28, 2013  11:19 pm by David Walker Reply

    Si - Merlin is Magic but he doesn't shoot as much as he should. MP should be telling him this. Thanks Graham.

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