Profanity spewing Alan Pardew only served to illustrate how lucky Manchester City are to have Manuel Pellegrini at the helm. The gulf in class and ability between the Newcastle manager and the chilled Chilean is immeasurable.
One glance at the Etihad ‘Director’s Box’ at 3pm today will draw a similar reaction when it comes down to the club’s ownership.
For potty mouth Pardew, substitute Vincent Tan and for Pellegrini think Sheikh Mansour.
He may be absent from the arena, but the Sheikh has a live feed from every City game at his disposal, and no, unlike other mere mortals, he doesn’t have to surf the web looking for a stream that isn’t prone to ‘buffering’ and gradually falling further and further behind live play as the afternoon wears on!
You don’t have to be religious to realise that City are truly blessed to have an owner with the wisdom, business nous and financial clout of Sheikh Mansour.
God forbid if City had drawn the short straw and fallen into the hands of the Sheikh’s opposite number, a man who is to waistbands what Usain Bolt is to sprinting – at the very top of his game.
Cardiff owner, Vincent Tan – is a man who could conceivably use vaseline to avoid his trouser belt chaffing his nipples, a man who makes Malcolm Glazer look like a fashion icon, a man who is probably every football fan’s nightmare when it comes to taking ownership of ‘their’ club.
The downtrodden Cardiff faithful can maybe take some solace that if it all went pear-shaped for the Bluebirds’ owner, he looks like a shoe-in as the ‘baddie’ in any forthcoming James Bond movie.
Hopefully Tan and the travelling Welsh support, will be both shaken and stirred, rather like 007’s favoured vodka martini tipple, after Manchester City make it 11/11 Premier League home wins, reach, and then surpass, 100 goals for the season.
Back in late August, the PL newbies inflicted Pellegrini’s first competitive City defeat on a day of vastly contrasting fortunes for the City boss and Cardiff manager Malky Mackay.
It was just the second game of the campaign and boy oh boyo did Cardiff celebrate, as the media pulverised Pellegrini, undermining his position…after just 180 combative minutes in his new job.
Some elements of the City support were given to knee jerk reactions. Condemnation of the new manager’s attacking philosophy and defensive formations was rife.
Bring back Mancini was tweeted vociferously by some of the more misguided among the City flock – a wholly inappropriate and disproportionate reaction – albeit to a shock loss.
Nearly five months on, Cardiff’s trip to Fortress Etihad does indeed coincide with a change of manager, obviously not ‘Our MP’ – in whom the overwhelming majority of Sky Blue supporters now trust – but for the visitors, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replacing the luckless Mackay.
Amazingly ex-Manure striker, Solskjaer, never experienced victory over City in four playing appearances with two draws and two defeats.
The Norwegian disciple of old Sir Baconface (not to be confused with the beautiful plumage of a Monty Python-esque Norwegian Blue), can expect a frosty reception, unlike ex-blue Bellers – Craig Bellamy – who will be warmly received by a crowd who never failed to appreciate the fiery Welshman’s 100% commitment to the cause.
Of course the figure of 100 is on everybody’s radar and City’s collective firepower will want to move from the ‘nervous nineties’ asap and bring up the ton of goals milestone.
Pellegrini, who has thus far been masterly in his rotation of his multi-talented squad, is able to recall Joe Hart, Pablo Zableta, Vincent Kompany, David Silva, Yaya Toure and start with a fit again Sergio Aguero.
It bodes well for a modicum of payback for that less than august August afternoon. It’s interesting that Pellegrini says that the two goals Cardiff scored from corners, were the last goals City have conceded from corner kicks all season.
Talk about lessons learned, Pellegrini has now seen his team go unbeaten since early November – 10 PL games and 16 in all competitions.
It’s a great run but the fatalist element, the essence of ‘Typical City’, cannot help but think it has to end soon. But why should it?
City have the best squad in the PL, the best team and are playing the best football. In Pellegrini they have a leader who is getting the very best out of his players and, noticeably, they are a group of smiling footballers.
I would never undermine the achievements of the club under Roberto Mancini’s watch – Bobby Manc is revered by the fans – BUT Pellegrini seems capable of taking City to a whole new dimension.
City’s 59 goals in the PL – almost four times more than Cardiff’s 15 – means revenge is in the air as City attempt to right the wrongs of that shock 3-2 defeat.
For Cardiff it might be six games without a win having drawn one and lost four, but City cannot be complacent after the Welsh team put in stoical efforts at both Liverpool and Arsenal in recent weeks.
If the Bluebirds were to inflict an unthinkable home defeat on City it would be THE shock result of the season, easily eclipsing the earlier win.
But the Blue Moon is rising and stargazers confirm there is no anticipated eclipse any time soon.
By David Walker