City can’t be ignored – especially with two ‘Elephants in the room’

Having an ‘Elephant in the room’ would usually mean an incredibly awkward situation, a source of embarrassment that is simply taboo or one that could trigger an argument.

The metaphorical idiom refers to an obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed, a major problem or risk that no one wants to discuss…so surely having TWO elephants in the room would spell double trouble for Manuel Pellegrini – wouldn’t it?

Elephant at the Etihad - new Ivory Coast striker Wilfried Bony is out of Africa and in at City. Courtesy@MCFC

Elephant at the Etihad – new Ivory Coast striker Wilfried Bony is out of Africa and in at City. Courtesy@MCFC

After all, prior to their 4-1 pounding of Stoke City in the Potteries a week ago, Manchester City had endured a five game winless streak, been ignominiously dumped out of the FA Cup and slumped seven points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea in 2015.

However, quite the contrary is true for City’s under pressure boss.

Making an entrance - Yaya is back at the CFA after leading the Ivory Coast to AFCON glory. Courtesy@MCFC

Making an entrance – Yaya is back at the CFA after leading the Ivory Coast to AFCON glory. Courtesy@MCFC

The twin elephantine presence of all-conquering Yaya Toure and Wilfried Bony from a victorious African Cup of Nations tournament, could have a huge impact on City’s bid to retain their PL crown, as well as progress beyond the last 16 in the Champions League.

Fresh from the Côte d’Ivoire’s (nicknamed Les Éléphants) nail-biting 9-8 penalty shootout win over Ghana, Yaya and Bony are set to signal a City stampede for Premier League points, starting with a win against Newcastle on Saturday evening.

Yaya joy - Ivory Coast skipper Toure lifts the African Cup of Nations. Courtesy@MCFC

Yaya joy – Ivory Coast skipper Toure lifts the African Cup of Nations. Courtesy@MCFC

City have undoubtedly struggled in Yaya’s absence, as well as craved the goals so eagerly anticipated from £25m new boy, Bony. Despite their recent pains, a dominant second half display at the Britannia Stadium – with three unanswered strikes – had already given rise to optimism, prior to the return of the Ivorians.

Undeniably shaky in the first 45 minutes against Mark Hughes’ robust Stoke, City morphed back into the Champions of England, a sight so rarely seen in recent weeks.

Sergical strike - Aguero put City 1-0 up at Stoke. Courtesy@MCFC

Serg-ical strike – Aguero put City 1-0 up at Stoke. Courtesy@MCFC

Sergio Aguero rediscovered his shooting boots, Samir Nasri shook off the ring rust after his injury-induced absence, while James Milner continued his recent goal scoring purple patch.

Eliaquim Mangala returned to add power and speed to the City defence, albeit the defensive unit as a whole – the French centre back, Zabaleta, Kompany and Kolarov – looked worryingly vulnerable against the speed of Stoke’s Moses and the awkward threat posed by the ungainly Crouch.

Saluting the City support - Kompany and Kolarov acknowledge the large and vocal City contingent on a cold night at the Britannia. Courtesy@MCFC

Saluting the City support – Kompany and Kolarov acknowledge the large and vocal City contingent on a cold night at the Britannia. Courtesy@MCFC

Joe Hart – playing as if he had a sponsorship deal whereby his gloves were coated in Lurpak butter – fumbled and spilled the ball far too frequently, and was lucky to get away with a mistake when a Crouch ‘goal’ was correctly ruled out for being offside.

Hart has had better days – much better days – and greatly enhanced performances between the City sticks, will be just as important for the rest of the season as the number of goals Aguero, Bony and Co can plunder at the other end of the pitch.

Purple patch - James Milner was serenaded by City fans, eager for him to stay at the Etihad. Courtesy@MCFC

Purple patch – James Milner was serenaded by City fans, eager for him to stay at the Etihad. Courtesy@MCFC

The inclusion of the ex-Swansea striker in City’s 21-man Champions League squad came as no surprise to anyone it seems, apart from Stevan Jovetic, the man dropped to make way for Bony.

Jovetic accused Pellegrini of ‘killing him’ after omitting him from the remainder of City’s Champions League campaign. Such an accusation – even by Sicknote Stevan’s injury-riddled standards – sounds terminal.

Jovetic moaned: “The manager has killed me with this decision. I feel I deserve my place and other people have told me the same.

Sour note - Jovetic was understandably disappointed at his exclusion from City's Champions League squard. Courtesy@MCFC

Sour note – Jovetic was understandably disappointed at his exclusion from City’s Champions League squard. Courtesy@MCFC

“People have told me I am a great player, but it is clear that the manager doesn’t think the same way.

“I don’t think it was a good decision – or the right decision. I know that I deserve to be on the list. I came here to play in the Champions League.”

Apart from Jovetic’s family and friends, one has to wonder who has told him he deserves his place and believes him to be a great player?

City are reported to have paid Fiorentina £22m in the summer of 2013. His 11 goals from 19 starts and 22 substitute appearances since arriving at the Etihad, equate to £2m per goal.

A picture paints a thousand words - Jovetic has under performed following his £22m move from Fiorentina. Courtesy@MCFC

A picture paints a thousand words – Jovetic has under performed following his £22m move from Fiorentina. Courtesy@MCFC

For all his alleged talent, the 25-year old Montenegrin has failed to deliver. On the rare occasions he hasn’t been claiming squatter’s rights in the medical room, he has all too often busied himself on the field of play with no end product.

It may not be for the want of trying, but he has proven himself incredibly ‘fragile’, unreliable and now absurdly conceited. His supporters might prefer to say Jovetic has belief in his own abilities, but his record since coming to England suggests otherwise.

Perfect combination - Nasri and Silva orchestrated City's handsome 4-1 win over Stoke. Courtesy@MCFC

Perfect combination – Nasri and Silva orchestrated City’s handsome 4-1 win over Stoke. Courtesy@MCFC

Cue the deafening silence from City fans, less than outraged at his omission from the CL squad.

If he wants to prove his worth and salvage a career at City, Jovetic needs to create opportunities and score goals to help bring back-to-back domestic league titles to the Etihad.

That pre-supposes he’s going to get game time, but that may not happen with Bony’s arrival and Dzeko’s return to fitness.

Paying the penalty - Sergio acknowledges his successful spot kick and City's 3-1 lead. Courtesy@MCFC

Paying the penalty – Sergio acknowledges his successful spot kick and City’s 3-1 lead. Courtesy@MCFC

No one expects Jovetic to have a scoring record like Aguero – he’s not an out and out striker – but his comments do little to help his cause. If he ends up going to Juventus this summer as part of a deal to bring Paul Pogba to the Etihad, he will at least have played a part in securing a bright future for City.

With 39 points still up for grabs, City are going to have to hit winning ways and ensure no repeats of the dire home offerings as witnessed against Arsenal, Middlesbrough and Hull.

Fortress Etihad has provided the foundations for title successes in 2012 and 2014, but City have struggled against bus-parking opponents this season, especially those able to launch swift counter attacks when they do release the hand brake.

Pellegrini puzzler - Manuel and his coaches have to optimise corner kick opportunites. Courtesy@MCFC

Pellegrini puzzler – Manuel and his coaches have to optimise corner kick opportunites. Courtesy@MCFC

Little wonder then, that Pellegrini’s men have plundered more points away from home, with 28 of the 52 coming on enemy territory.

If City are to create history by bridging the gap between themselves and Chelsea, they must be more creative and clinical in front of goal and less susceptible to sucker punch counter attacks and individual errors.

The Stoke win was as imperative as it was enjoyable. The return of Yaya and introduction of Bony should be influential and productive, but one elephant would still remain in the room…City’s corner kicks!

No mistake - Yaya smashed home his penalty in Ivory Coast's dramatic 9-8 shootout win over Ghana. Courtesy@MCFC

No mistake – Yaya smashed home his penalty in Ivory Coast’s dramatic 9-8 shootout win over Ghana. Courtesy@MCFC

Two taken at the Britannia Stadium resulted in what is now the norm for City – nothing.

Statisticians state that it’s now in the region of 230 corners over a period of 31 matches – an average of between seven and eight per game – since City last scored as a result of a corner kick, away to Arsenal on September 13th, 2014.

Elephant in the dressing room - Bony could be the 'elephant in the box' to end City's corner kick goal drought. Courtesy@MCFC

Elephant in the dressing room – Bony could be the ‘elephant in the box’ to end City’s corner kick goal drought. Courtesy@MCFC

Forget any elephants in the room, maybe the presence of an elephant in the box can render a solution?

Over to you Wilfried…no pressure!

 

#TrustOurMP

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By David Walker

 

28 Comments

  1. February 18, 2015  12:35 pm by thegingerwigmcfc Reply

    What about Yaya taking corners? For his height he rarely offers much at set pieces. Took a few good ones for the Ivory Coast in the AFCON.

    • February 18, 2015  1:29 pm by David Walker Reply

      Can't be any worse than Nasri, Silva, Milner etc. It isn't just the striking of the ball, it's the total lack of invention which suggests little or nothing takes place on the training ground in relation to corners. Thanks for the comment.

  2. February 18, 2015  1:11 pm by Ian Reply

    The African Elephant known as Loxodonta africana, let's hope it's Lotsogolas from Yaya & Wilf to revive our challenge. The 2nd half at Stoke looked to be back to normal, need to drive forward from that victory, we've achieved so much from adversity come May let's pick up our 3rd League title in 4.
    Chelsea are a miserable, joyless club, we must put them to the sword or should that be tusk?

    • February 18, 2015  1:33 pm by David Walker Reply

      Perhaps we should take David Attenborough on a short term loan deal - I believe he qualifies as a free agent. Whilst on the topic of African elephants I wonder if we can do a slick 2-4-1 deal outside of the transfer window - if we're able to get Big Ears (as opposed to the Indian elephant) maybe we could get Noddy as well? After recent performances there might be a few Noddies in the ranks already, BUT, as you say, let's hope those poor performances are behind us. Upwards and onwards to our 3-out-of-4. ;-)

  3. February 18, 2015  1:37 pm by pete lynch Reply

    Usual high class read David. Roll on weekend and then bring on Barca!!!

    • February 18, 2015  1:39 pm by David Walker Reply

      And, as usual the cheque's in the post! Cheers Pete. ;-)

  4. February 18, 2015  2:32 pm by Martin Reply

    #ARGENTINA

  5. February 18, 2015  2:44 pm by carole Reply

    Incredibly harsh on Jovetic. This was someone sought by Arsenal, Liverpool and most of all the Serie A champions...one of the most creative young players in Europe. He had his pick of clubs offering the CL football he craved but wanted to join City because the club had been keen to sign him for a long time, dating back to the Mancini era.
    He's had terrible bad luck with injuries right from the off and they are in no way his fault. ( though unforgiving City fans talk as if they are) When he comes back from injury he gets 20 minutes here and there and has never had a sustained run in the team so I'm not quite sure how he's expected to score goals and create opportunities...
    I find it incredible that other players who suffer regular spells on the sidelines receive nothing but understanding from fans while Jovetic is the constant subject of jokes and abuse. On current form maybe Dzeko or even Kompany ( and certainly Fernando!) should have been left out . Was it really worth shattering his confidence by leaving him out for a player who hasn't yet set foot on our pitch and whose appearances in the CL may well be limited to 2 given the form Barca are in?
    At his best, given a run in the team, in time we could see the Jovetic who was so brilliant against Liverpool. But no, once again we will probably get rid of a young and promising player with huge potential just as we have in the past. We'll go for powerful physical specimens like Bony and Mangala - and no doubt Barkley - instead of bringing in those with a Silva touch.
    Our team is gradually becoming unbalanced IMO. How much power and brute force do we need in one team? Isn't it time we bought a couple of Coutinhos or an Isco? Isn't it time we looked ahead to the time when we will have, sadly, to replace Silva? Will we ever give a run to youngsters like Pozo or Lopes....or will they also be labelled too physically fragile and fade away?

    • February 18, 2015  3:47 pm by David Walker Reply

      We were always going to disagree on Stevan. I wouldn't however disagree with you on other out of form players who could deserve bench time, especially Fernando and even Captain Kompany himself. I've been one of Fernando's sternest critics in recent weeks, but in all fairness he didn't stand out as being poor at the Britannia.

      In respect of Jovetic I see a technically gifted player with no small degree of pace. I also see a player who frequently makes bad judgement calls, doesn't have the presence to regularly influence matches and seems to think he is better than he actually is. I concur with your opinion that every team needs a substantial degree of finesse and skill e.g. Silva and Nasri. One can only hope that Lopes, Pozo and others will be given every opportunity to breakthrough and make their mark in the first team squad.

      Isco, it seems, is highly unlikely to join City while Pellegrini is in charge, which is a crying shame because he would more than likely be a sensation. I would love it if Jovetic would step up and prove Pellegrini, myself and a good number of other City fans wrong. I thought after the pre-season tour this would be a great season for him. Sadly not. You're right he can't help it if he is injured but, nonetheless, if this is a semi-permanent factor in his career, City would still be better of with a more robust player who is available for selection for the vast majority of the time.

      If Juve covet him so highly and want to give MCFC anything near £20m for his services, it'd probably be the best thing for all parties. As ever, thanks for your comments Carole.

  6. February 18, 2015  2:49 pm by Richard Cooper Reply

    Am sure the returning elephants will be a great help in the remaining games. I certainly think we have missed YaYa during his absence.
    We were talking to a Stokie friend of ours on Friday evening and he summed that game up -" First half could have been 2 - 2 but in the second half City blew us away."
    The defence is still very worrying and as you rightly said Joe Hart has now joined the Chaos Club.
    To make a statement in the title race we have to brush aside the Barcodes - No more east to west slow build up at home allowing teams to think they have a chance - Go for it at kick - off please !!!!!!

    • February 18, 2015  3:32 pm by David Walker Reply

      Bang on RC - it all boils down to one thing other than scoring more than your opponents ;-) - tempo...and a fast one at that!

  7. February 18, 2015  4:33 pm by Stephen Reply

    Corners are an ongoing annoyance. Call it misguided but we are due to give someone a hiding at home. Get early goal for a change would help. How many home goals in first half all season? Still am flying in for newcastle game and taking lad to his first city game so hoping for an awesome result. Also hope to bump into some of you tweet peeps as been 2 yrs since last flew over. Sadly it just costs too much re flights and hotel so am now a PT fan. Great read as always btw. Thanks

    • February 18, 2015  8:14 pm by David Walker Reply

      Maybe your presence will be a lucky omen - what happened the last time you were at the Etihad? It's such a shame when cost is the barrier to attending football matches, but the team is always in your heart. If you DM me your mobile number on Twitter we'll see if we can catch up at the stadium. How old's your lad and who are his favourite players? Thanks for your feedback and let's hope it's a case of a murder of Magpies on Saturday night.

  8. February 18, 2015  5:48 pm by Matthew Metcalfe Reply

    #MANCHESTER
    Great read David. I've been searching for a stat on our corners, I think we're the only team who don't get a roar of expectancy when the ball goes out for one. More chance the opposition will counter us, however the presence of Bony will surely help us to get a corner goal, surely?!

    • February 18, 2015  8:10 pm by David Walker Reply

      I've trawled for specific stats on corner - rather sad I know - but can't nail down a specific number. It was certainly in excess of 220. As for Bony scoring from a corner in the near future, hope can only spring eternal...and stop calling me Shirley ;-)

      Thanks for reading and commenting MM.

  9. February 18, 2015  7:14 pm by Ian Barton Reply

    One further thought which has bugged me for a long time now. It's plainly obvious in the first 5 minutes whether we are going to blow teams away or struggle to break them down, it's all down to TEMPO. If we start at a high, intense pace we would over power teams 9 out of 10 times, we seem to have lapsed into a stupor of late, if we go out with high TEMPO we are brilliant.

    • February 18, 2015  8:22 pm by David Walker Reply

      Couldn't agree more your Lordship...rocket science it ain't! You'd be forgiven for thinking that with MP being a qualified engineer he'd have worked it out by now.

  10. February 18, 2015  9:13 pm by Doug Henshaw Reply

    Here's hoping the Elephant's trample the magpies into the dust Dave. Maybe we could let Wilf or Yaya have a go at corner's can't be any worse than rest of them. On Jovetic I disagree Dave I don't think he deserved to be chopped,& only time will tell how it effects him I hope he stays with us but very much doubt he will. The attack looked a lot better at Stoke, just hope we can get defence sorted.

    • February 18, 2015  11:35 pm by David Walker Reply

      There's another perspective on the farce that is City's corners. The actual delivery is one element and one where most of the blame lies. However, it also begs the question why don't any of our guys ever get on the end of them? The defenders head the ball away, but what's stopping our daft lot attacking the ball and heading home? Whichever way you view it, SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE! Rather like you with your offer of humble pie the other week, I'll be delighted if Jovetic steps up with the invention and firepower that helps us win retain the title. I have absolutely nothing against the guy and would love him to succeed.

      Our title wins have always been underpinned by a solid defence. That element has to come back into play for the rest of the season with key individuals taking responsibility for their form and contributions & MP settling on his best back four on a more regular basis. Stop the chopping & changing.

  11. February 19, 2015  9:50 am by Dave Medley Reply

    The "Yaya factor" makes the next transfer window a potentially pivotal one for us in terms of winning trophies over the next few years. Does he want a last big move? Do we cash-in on him at 31? If not, how do we get a goalscoring central midfielder in to rotate with him and eventually replace him? We depend on him too much - nobody else scores goals from outside the area with any frequency. I'm praying Milly signs up, because if he goes, especially for free, we're in big trouble in terms of midfield/squad in general. We knew in the last window we could spend about £25m (Negredo money in advance). In the summer we'll probably have about £30-35m from outgoing transfers (assuming Jovetic demands an exit, Nastasic joins Schalke, and Sinclair stays at Villa). Will we be able to spend any more than that without running foul of FFP?! If we can't, then all the rumours about Pogba or Barklay are pie in the sky. If Jovetic goes, we can bring in one more overseas player, unless another leaves, which is relatively unlikely - outside chance Kolorov, Dzeko, Caballero want more playing time enough to go? With Lampard leaving, we need homegrown players even more. Financial freedom permitting, I can see us moving for one of Pogba (Jovetic part exchange?!) or Barklay as I think both are technically homegrown. I've never seen Pogba impress in central midfield though, and Barklay has a touch of the Rodwell injury-prone problem. Others mentioned recently in the media or in my mind as creative/goalscoring central midfielders include Erikson, Brahimi, Rakitic etc. The other major thing we lack in my view is a pacey top quality wing-forward. Silva and Nasri are artists but lack pace/directness. Navas is quick but less skilful. We need someone to do the Hazard/Sterling/DeMaria etc job. I wondered about Ukrainian star man Konoplianka, linked with Liverpool last year, and on a free this summer. Thoughts from anyone? Particularly about how much we would be allowed to spend in the summer? Hell, I tried to keep this post short.....Haven't even discussed ageing full backs!

    • February 19, 2015  2:43 pm by David Walker Reply

      First of all Dave many thanks for your interesting and very comprehensive comments. I fear Yaya will want to go this summer - he'll be 32 incidentally - and if PSG or the like have £25m to spend and it frees up £200k a-week in wages, one would hope City could do something constructive with the cash i.e. Pogba in a deal that sees Jovetic go to Juve.

      Like you, I am far from crystal clear on what finances would be available - albeit City will, prima facie, be free of FFP constraints. The squad needs more than a tweak and I could envisage Nastasic, Kolarov, Jovetic, Dzeko going, possibly Fernandinho and hopefully (I might be being harsh after one season) Fernando leaving. That should raise £100m+.

      If Yaya left, Pogba would have to be a top top target. I would aim for Marcos Reus as my new speedster and retain Navas as his back-up. That said Reus is no longer a cheap option since he signed an extension at Dortmund. If City have to boost their homegrown quota whyy not go for Sterling who is presently stalling on a new long term deal?

      I have no firm knowledge, but Barkley is constantly linked with City and rumours abound that Everton bought Lukaku based on forthcoming revenues from City for Barkley. I fear Milner will end up with Auntie Brenda at Liverpool which would be a crying shame. However, were he not English and the need for homegrown players, there wouldn't be so much of a premium placed on Jimmy's retention. If City could meet their homegrown requirements by other means, I would switch to Koke at Atletico Madrid as a cheaper and more effective option to Barkley.

      Isco would be a wonderful addition to City's corps of playmakers, but I'm led to believe bad blood now exists between Pellegrini and the Spanish star after he reneged on an agreement to come to City in 2013.

      Sami Khedira will be available on a Bosman from Real Madrid - for me that's a complete no brainer - go and get him Txiki! What an upgrade on either of our 2 F-men!

      If Dzeko and Jovetic leave we would need a new experienced striker, but lest we forget we do need to cultivate young talent, and in Kelechi Iheanacha and Thierry Ambrose we have two outstanding prospects.

      The ageing right back scenario could be addressed by Nathaniel Clyne from Southampton - especially as he would be another homegrown talent.

      It's easy being a Director of Football/Premier League Manager isn't it ;-) The other fundamental question is will MP still be manager? Much will depend on Guardiola seeing out his third year with Bayern Munich but, as I always say...what do I know?

  12. February 19, 2015  6:55 pm by Dave Medley Reply

    Cheers, David. I din't mention Khedira because, while he's a fantastic "freebie", he plays in the same role as Fernando and Fernandinho, who are both big-money recent acquisitions, so I can't see them going anytime soon. Reuss would perhaps be better than Konoplyanka but I'd discounted him on financial assumptions, ditto Sterling. De Bruyne linked too. Iheanacho is interesting. Looked good pre-season but are we STILL awaiting a work permit? Nothing on the club website about him... Last I heard, he was training in America, at Columbus Crew or somewhere similar. At Christmas, when strikerless, I amused myself by trawling Twitter for info on him; found an account that looks like his (you never know...) and a Tweet saying he wanted to go to Galatasaray...

    • February 19, 2015  7:06 pm by David Walker Reply

      Pretty sure Iheanacho is a City player going forward. Don't be surprised if at least one of the F men go this summer. Cheers Dave.

  13. February 20, 2015  1:34 pm by Toby Teasdale Reply

    Welcome to Manchester Wilfried Bony, City's very own 'Daddy Cool'.

    Dug this out of the archives (if you look hard you will see the Sheikh on keyboards) https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=aFoUNq_1wkc .

    If Wilfried scores he can take his shirt off too.

    • February 20, 2015  5:27 pm by David Walker Reply

      He'd better keep the shirt that bears his name on his back - no unnecessary bookings! Hope City's three at the back are better performers than the Boney M singers - never my cup of tea in my youth!

      More of a Slade man at that time - still nothing to be proud of, even when using a mis-spent childhood as an excuse!

  14. February 22, 2015  7:26 am by Stephen Reply

    My son is clearly a lucky charm so we are going to the embassy to seek asylum and stay til end of season to ensure we beat the classless one. Thanks for everything

    • February 22, 2015  7:41 am by David Walker Reply

      That sir, is an excellent idea! I shall sign your petition!

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