City swansong on Golden Pond

Automatic Champions League qualification secured, highest scorers and best goal difference in the division, five consecutive wins, a shoe-in for the Golden Boot Award and the Golden Glove within grasp… Manchester City are clearly a club in meltdown!

Sergio shocker - Aguero failed to score against Swansea, but City's Argentine superstar is odds on for the Golden Boot Award. Courtesy@MCFC

Sergio shocker – Aguero failed to score against Swansea, but City’s Argentine superstar is odds on for the Golden Boot Award. Courtesy@MCFC

Yes, City have missed out this season on the trophies that really matter, but does anyone really believe that Sheikh Mansour is going to allow his quest for football’s Holy Grail to be slowed or sidetracked in any way, shape or form?

City may not have lived up to their proud ‘We’ll Fight Till The End’ terrace war cry often enough in 2014/15, but the Etihad outfit will be more combative than ever next season.

After hitting a patch as purple as their colours at Swansea, City are set to secure the Runners-up slot to Chelsea.

Double celebration - James and Yaya celebrate their City goals in a well deserved 4-2 win at Swansea. Courtesy@MCFC

Double celebration – James and Yaya celebrate their City goals in a well deserved 4-2 win at Swansea. Courtesy@MCFC

A final day win against Southampton would be six on the spin and, whilst in no way compensating for the disappointments since last August, it bodes well for what is to come.

Manuel Pellegrini has had an enormously challenging second year in English football – perversely – more so than in his debut season. The Chilean has had to contend with a lot both on and off the field, some of it in the public domain, some not.

Dressing room discontent caused by alleged extracurricular activities is rumoured to have had damaging ramifications on team morale, and with it a downturn in individual and collective performances.

How can any manager foresee such goings on and then be expected to somehow overcome all the fall out in mid-season?

Renewed trust - MP has faced major challenges at City this season, in the dressing room, the medical centre, on and off the pitch. Courtesy@MCFC

Renewed trust – MP has faced major challenges at City this season, in the dressing room, the medical centre, on and off the pitch. Courtesy@MCFC

Going out of the Champions League at the first knockout stage needs to be put into context when you consider the opponents were an all-conquering Barcelona side, now hot favourites to beat Juventus in next month’s final in Berlin.

With hindsight it was no disgrace losing 3-1 on aggregate, especially when considering the ‘what if’ element of Sergio Aguero’s penalty miss in the Nou Camp.

Changes in player personnel and with it, flexibility of formations, hold the key to City’s resurgence next season. The ethos of attacking football won’t change irrespective of who occupies the manager’s chair.

With season’s end less than a week away, it’d take a brave man to place his mortgage on the identity of City’s boss next season.

Solid Silva - El Mago has been one of City's saving graces this season - the consumate professional. Courtesy@MCFC

Solid Silva – El Mago has been one of City’s saving graces this season – the consumate professional. Courtesy@MCFC

Will Manuel stay on for his third year or, will a game of bluff and counter bluff see Pep Guardiola engineer a move away from Munich?

Bayern’s repulsive City-hating Chairman, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, insists he wants Pep to remain for years to come, despite four consecutive domestic defeats, including being knocked out of the German Cup in their own backyard.

How things are playing out behind the scenes in Bavaria is anyone’s guess…but the guessing game needs to be over pretty darn quickly from City’s perspective.

Pellegrini or Pep? It’s a straight choice between the two. If Germany’s calling remains the stronger for Guardiola – at least for the next 12 months – City should surely stick with Manuel.

Save of the Season - Joe Hart produced a breathtaking stop - the best by far in 2014/15 - regardless of the biased buffoons on Match Of The Day. Courtesy@MCFC

Save of the Season – Joe Hart produced a breathtaking stop – the best by far in 2014/15 – regardless of the biased buffoons on Match Of The Day. Courtesy@MCFC

He’s won the Premier League once and he can do it again.

The transfer merry-go-round is about to start and, if Director of Football, Txiki Begiristain, finally gets his act together, City could fair better than their rivals this summer – a marked contrast with last year.

In a bitter sweet development for City, UEFA are proposing radical relaxations to their stringent Financial Fair Play farce.

Having hammered both City and PSG last year with costly and debilitating punishments, UEFA President, the poisonous prat Michel Platini, and his cohorts are running scared of legal challenges to the decidedly dodgy system.

Financial Foul Play - Napoleon Platini and his UEFA plebs have met their 'Waterloo' and are in retreat.

Financial Foul Play – Napoleon Platini and his UEFA plebs have met their ‘Waterloo’ and are in retreat.

Built on foundations of sand, FFP is unlikely to stand up to close scrutiny now it is under attack from pioneering Belgian lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont.

FFP requires clubs to ‘break even’ and prevents wealthy owners such as City’s Sheikh Mansour making additional money available, above and beyond a club’s conventional revenue streams.

A relaxation or removal of this clause would enable the Sheikh to invest still further, potentially giving City access to vast sums of money to rebuild and improve an underperforming team.

Looking after business - Manchester City Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak should be sanctioning some major transfer deals both in and out of City this summer. Courtesy @MCFC

Looking after business – Manchester City Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak should be sanctioning some major transfer deals both in and out of City this summer. Courtesy @MCFC

City were already set to benefit from the lifting of existing FFP sanctions imposed in 2014, thanks to the club’s excellent off-the-field financial performance, once again making them a major player in the transfer stakes.

Juventus’ Paul Pogba is a priority for City as they seek a replacement for the talismanic Yaya Toure.  Yaya reminded everyone why he is such a talent with a brace of goals in City’s entertaining and nerve-shredding 4-2 win at the Liberty Stadium.

Just four days after a decidedly low key 32nd birthday, Yaya joined an elite quartet of City players to score 50 or more Premier League goals.

Belated birthday present and Golden Goal - Yaya hit his 50th Premier League goal for City just 4 days after his 32nd birthday. Courtesy@MCFC

Belated birthday present and Golden Goal – Yaya hit his 50th Premier League goal for City just 4 days after his 32nd birthday. Courtesy@MCFC

His departure – most likely to Inter Milan – is regrettable when he puts on a showing of this calibre but, as City have found to their cost this season, Toure has too often been found wanting when it comes to hard work.

James Milner is the polar opposite, never short on sheer effort, graft and determination.

Final salute - Milner has turned down a massive offer from City and seems destined for Liverpool this summer. Courtesy@MCFC

Final salute – Milner has turned down a massive offer from City and seems destined for Liverpool this summer. Courtesy@MCFC

Ever popular with the City fans, Jimmy seems set to move down the East Lancs Road next season to be lauded as ‘outstanding’ 47 zillion times, by his new manager at Liverpool.

His eighth goal of the campaign – City’s second on the day – was a brilliant example of breakaway play. A Swansea corner was converted to City’s advantage after a measured clearance by Lampard and sweet assist from Sergio Aguero.

Sadly, Super Frank is New York bound, and without all the pomp and ceremony accorded to Slippy G at Liverpool – a travesty of media hype.

Take a bow - Super Frankie will leave English football on Sunday - let's hope City give Lamps a suitable send off. Courtesy@MCFC

Take a bow – Super Frankie will leave English football on Sunday – let’s hope City give Lamps a suitable send off. Courtesy@MCFC

Lamps – superior to Gerrard as a footballer and as an individual – has endeared himself to the City supporters in his solitary season in sky blue. Hopefully he receives a fitting send off against Southampton on Sunday.

Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic are wanted men – albeit not at the Etihad – and Samir Nasri has surely made his last appearance for City, when limping off at White Hart Lane after a two minute cameo as a wounded substitute.

Conversely Wilfried Bony is much in demand and will make a big impact in a resurgent City next season. The classy Ivorian and returning Swan, broke his away goals duck for the Sky Blues with a well taken fourth goal to cement the 4-2 victory.

Homecoming - Bony received a raptuous welcome from Swansea fans even though he broke his away goals duck with City. Courtesy@MCFC

Homecoming – Bony received a raptuous welcome from Swansea fans even though he broke his away goals duck with City. Courtesy@MCFC

The goal fest had been underpinned by an outstanding display at the other end of the pitch, with Joe Hart in fine form.

His acrobatic stop from a Federico Fernandez header was simply breathtaking – the Save of the Season by a country mile…unless of course you represent Match of the Day on the BBC – that’s Biased Bilious Cranks (the polite version).

Hart also produced brilliant saves from Dyer and Gomis as City’s defence was exposed by a fluid Swansea attack. Sigurdsson and Gomis both struck in the host’s fine comeback, before City re-asserted their authority with a final two goal advantage.

Captain Vincent Kompany appeared as a late substitute to bolster the back line, in a season where City amassed 34 points on their travels – the same points haul as both Premier League winning campaigns of 2011/12 and 2013/14.

Parting company - Captain Vincent Kompany returned against Swansea but Samir Nasri has most likely played his last game for City. Courtesy@MCFC

Parting company – Captain Vincent Kompany returned against Swansea but Samir Nasri has most likely played his last game for City. Courtesy@MCFC

It makes the surrendering of the title to a less than outstanding Chelsea all the more galling.

The 12 points dropped at ‘Fortress’ Etihad in losses to Stoke and Arsenal and draws with Chelsea, Burnley and Hull have ultimately proved City’s undoing.

That might be too simplistic an interpretation, especially bearing in mind poor away showings at Liverpool, Burnley, Crystal Palace and Manure, but statistically it’s a harsh reality.

Whether all the truths behind City’s 2014/15 campaign will ever emerge remains to be seen.

Carry on Manuel - Will this charming man still be in charge at City next season and, if so will have a change of fortune in 2015/16. Courtesy @MCFC

Carry on Manuel – Will this charming man still be in charge at City next season and, if so will have a change of fortune in 2015/16. Courtesy @MCFC

‘If’ is the biggest word in so many ways, and if Pellegrini had been able to oversee a more harmonious dressing room who’s to say City wouldn’t still be champions of England?

 

#OnceAgainBeginning ToTrustInOurMP

By David Walker

 

COMPETITION TIME

Read But Never Read is delighted to have teamed up with Art of Football http://art-of-football.com/collections/all/man-city to celebrate the AGUERRRRRROOO MOMENT as a Limited Edition Print or on a T-shirt. We had dozens of entries who correctly identified 93 minutes and 20 seconds as the time of Sergio’s title winning goal against QPR on May 13th 2012.

The winners are Alan Thistle who wins the T-shirt & Helen Casey who wins the A3 sized print – congratulations both – and a big thank you to all who entered.

We have another T-shirt competition coming up shortly featuring a City scoring legend…so watch this space.

93:20 - the moment Sergio Aguero hit Man City's title winning goal in 2012 - captured on a blue backdrop.

93:20 – the moment Sergio Aguero hit Man City’s title winning goal in 2012 – captured on a blue backdrop.

Art of Football describe their unique items as follows: Our hand crafted designs try to emulate the beauty of those split second moments, the moments you never forget, as we look to capture the energy, passion and euphoria that erupts from that one magical kick of a football. We only produce a limited number of each design, so your T shirts, like any good piece of art, are exclusive and completely original.’

93:20 - Sergio scores...this time on a white 'canvas'.

93:20 – Sergio scores…this time on a white ‘canvas’.

Masterpiece - you could win this beautiful print of the 93.20 Aguerrrrrooo Moment in our competition with Art of Football.

Masterpiece – you could win this beautiful print of the 93.20 Aguerrrrrooo Moment in our competition with Art of Football.

www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu

14 Comments

  1. May 19, 2015  1:14 pm by thegingerwig Reply

    Hadn't realised how much our home form has contributed to our surrender of the title. Another excellent piece Mr.Walker.

    On squad rebuild, we only had 22 players in the squad this season. Boyata seems to be going to Celtic.

    Losing Yaya, Dzeko, Jovetic, Nasri, Milner and Lampard's going to take a lot of incomings! Looks like an interesting summer.

    • May 19, 2015  1:56 pm by David Walker Reply

      Let's see if Denayer, Lopes and Rekik are returning and Iheanacho steps up from EDS and then see if Txiki can acquire the likes of Pogba, Sterling, De Bruyne...who knows, even Bale. It'd be nice to finally, finally find an upgrade on Nigel De Jong after the failings of Garcia and Fernando. Full back positions need strengthening in depth...but apart from that ;-) Cheers GW.

  2. May 19, 2015  1:22 pm by James HouseOlogy Reply

    Great read David.... And to be honest from 2 months ago I thought we would be fighting for 4th spot so I am content with how things have panned out and take away the obvious negatives to the season our resilience over last 5 games has once again added an air of positivity from the team and with summer pending and ffp rules relaxed we should enjoy good business and once again take a charge for glory next season. CTID

    • May 19, 2015  1:59 pm by David Walker Reply

      Absobloominlutely - strange though isn't it that UEFA suddenly backtrack on FFP when Manure qualify for the Champions League - nothing to do with David Gill though, no,no, perish the thought. Platini screwed us last summer, now let's see if the legal challenge is a success and City can claim their excessive £16m fine back plus damages.

  3. May 19, 2015  1:25 pm by Eileen Fullen Reply

    Lets hope acquisitions are spot on this season and I'm sure we will make it back to the top.
    Thanks again brilliant read.

    • May 19, 2015  1:59 pm by David Walker Reply

      I share your hopes and aspirations. Thanks for generous feedback.

  4. May 19, 2015  1:37 pm by pete lynch Reply

    Comprehensive piece David, a great read. We have finished season strongly and that bodes well although let's not kid ourselves, we need to invest in the squad. Yaya replacement a must as is LB, midfield reinforcements and more flair

    • May 19, 2015  2:02 pm by David Walker Reply

      Busy busy transfer market. As long as we keep Sergio, David, Joe and a seriously re-focused Vinny we have a good spine. With money to spend and young dynamic acquisitions, plus the returning and upgrading of some of the CFA talent I'd say we are in surprisingly good shape. Cheers Pete.

  5. May 19, 2015  4:17 pm by Phil Taylor Reply

    An excellent end to the season for City, and not bad from you either Dave. Am in full agreement with all your views. All the best to you and thanks for your contribution to the season!

    • May 19, 2015  4:44 pm by David Walker Reply

      Merci Msr Taylor - shame I can't report on back to back titles. Still, we win one, lose one, win one, lose one...so it's our turn in 2016 ;-)

  6. May 19, 2015  4:37 pm by Richard Cooper Reply

    Another excellent game away from home with both teams going all out for a win - sheer entertainment - 2 up then 2-2 then heroics from Joe Hart and then 2 more goals. That has to be better than watching Chelsea !
    With Mart and The Mangler at times all at sea and the Swans defence vulnerable there were potential goals nearly all game.
    Mention for Lampard, Silva, Milner, Hart, Aguero and a very good short time from Wilfried - Held up the ball really well and was constantly looking for that crucial pass.
    Potential changes, Manager ? Players in ? Players out ? has been well documented on here and all over the press so without taking that conversation any further I guess we wait and see how it all "pans" out at the end of season.
    Must comment on the 2 latest bits of gossip : 1. Sterling - a young guy at Liverpool turning down £100k per week - being a simple soul ,I think a bit of greed and arrogance on show there - not sure about him at all however good or potentially good he might be. 2. Jimmy Milner - One of my favourite players, but come on Jimmy, a four year deal at £165k per week and if he goes he can't guarantee a regular place at any other club or always playing in his preferred position - Thanks Jimmy and good luck but a bit disappointed .
    With Southampton the visitors on Sunday I think we can expect another exciting game and a chance to finish 2nd which I will enjoy even if nobody else remembers who came runner - up !

    • May 19, 2015  4:52 pm by David Walker Reply

      We WILL remember them RC ;-) Southampton are still chasing a Europa League spot and if Arsenal beat Sunderland midweek then it's game on. City should be motivated enough anyway and shouldn't - please God - be a re-run of that horrific last day of the season loss to Norwich the last time we relinquished the title. If the price is right e.g. £35m I think I'd take Sterling because we HAVE to buy homegrown somewhere along the line. Jimmy is obviously not staying and, although 'it's not about the money' lest we forget he's on a Bosman and should be able to take a one-off payment of £10m...and then there's the salary of circa £100k p/w. Great guy, whole-hearted performer but there wouldn't be such a fuss were he not English.

      Thanks again fella.

  7. May 19, 2015  8:47 pm by Doug Henshaw Reply

    Good read as always Dave. Looks like a good end to the season what a shame we weren't more constant through out the season what went wrong I wish I knew. Blame has to be shared by all at City how did we pull Chelsea back from 9 pts down only to let it slip. MP I feel will be with us for at least another year having guaranteed a top 4 & possible runner up spot.
    How Napoleon prat face & his merry men must be squirming now there ridicules FFP has been shown for what it is a massive fix designed to protect the old guard. I do hope City & PSG get together & go to court to get there money back plus compensation for the wrongs done to both club's. Strange isn't it rags are back in champions league & FFP is suddenly changed just a coincidence I guess. Changes to happen in the summer Some old favourites leaving & some new faces coming in, Sterling is he greedy or is it just that he thinks LFC are a long way from where he wants to be. Finally please please please James Milner stay with us at City.

    • May 19, 2015  9:12 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Doug. Spot on in respect of FFP. I think Manure's qualification may have had something to do with it, but more likely the challenge by Jean-Louis Dupont has really put the wind up UEFA. City would be fools to let it lie unless there is a bigger picture to which we are not privy. I wouldn't hold your breath for Milner being at the Etihad beyond June. I think that ship sailed a while ago but can't be made official until the end of the season.

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