First rule of writing – don’t do bland – nobody wants to read ‘beige’ – so at the risk of being a tad ‘colourful’ and offending some of my fellow Blues, here we go with reflections on a less than satisfactory sortie to Blackburn.
Manchester City haven’t lost a match since a particularly dim Sunday in Sunderland on November 10 – that’s 13 matches and 11 wins ago. Only two were drawn and one of those came today in a scrappy, below par performance at Ewood Park.
Yes, it was disappointing, frustrating and a pain in the ass that City didn’t just turn up and steamroll the opposition.
But guess what, it isn’t City’s God given right. Admittedly this may come as a bit of a shock to some City supporters of more recent years.
For those ‘fans’ chucking inappropriate comments at City’s Captain on the day, Joleon Lescott, a word of advice from one who has stuck with the club through thin, thin and anorexic times.
We live in a democracy, so if you’ve paid your £20 to go into the ground you’re entitled to express an opinion, but do you really think it benefits anybody if you insult your own players and show yourselves as shallow, fair-weather fans?
Nearly seven years ago, the majority of City fans who witnessed Stuart Pearce’s team capitulate in an FA Cup Quarter Final at Ewood spat out the words ‘You’re not fit to wear the shirt…’ at players who probably weren’t fit to do so.
It still didn’t make it right.
Fast forward to 2014 and City fans have simply NEVER HAD IT SO GOOD! The team is challenging for four trophies, with every chance of landing at least two, so can those who spout poison at the team inhale – very very deeply – and smell the bloody coffee!
Manuel Pellegrini has to face up to an unwelcome extra match in an already chronically cluttered fixture list, one which shows no sign of abating after the traditional festive programme.
It’s a nuisance, but he and his star spangled squad are ‘up for it’ – they want trophies, glory and the chance to create the most celebrated season in Manchester City’s history.
City didn’t even lose and the social media networks were aglow with negativity. This follows in the wake of pernicious rumours about the health of Stevan Jovetic – just what is it that floats the boats of these so-called fans?
Pellegrini is doing a magnificent job. His team are the talk of England – the great entertainers – respected throughout Europe and even slightly feared by the mighty Barcelona, in the run up to a glittering Champions League contest next month.
So, what’s the problem?
City didn’t dispatch a determined and well organised Blackburn team, on their own turf at the first attempt? Well, strike me down what a crisis!
If the minority of fans had their way we’d start sounding like that bunch from across the way – The Trafford Troglodytes – and their reviled supporters full of arrogance and not a hint of magnanimity.
Believe it or not City ARE in the draw on Sunday afternoon, with every prospect of progressing in the FA Cup.
Pellegrini’s options were curtailed at Blackburn with five players out injured. His team are playing highly combative, competitive matches every three days in, at times, appalling conditions.
Yes, the players are extremely well rewarded, but they’re still just flesh and bone and susceptible to injuries and fatigue.
Why is it such a massive shock that City don’t win 7-0, 6-0, 6-3 every match?
City fans have been spoilt and some need a reality check. A draw at Blackburn isn’t Armageddon, but it is a chance to sit back, take stock and be thankful for what City fans have and the promise and potential of what is to come.
Fair to say not a single City player covered themselves in glory, but if this was the proverbial ‘bad day at the office’ then it isn’t such a bad thing. Oh for the days of FA Cup losses at the likes of Halifax, Shrewsbury and Oldham…NOT.
Costel Pantilimon made his first major personal blunder in 22 games in the First XI – unfortunately it gift-wrapped Blackburn’s Scott Dann a 54th minute equaliser and gave the home team momentum.
It would be churlish to deny Gary Bowyer’s Championship outfit some credit for the draw, but to suggest City were lucky to be in the 4th Round draw is just media-inspired drivel.
City could have been, should have been, home and hosed by half-time.
David Silva ballooned a shot high over Paul Robinson’s bar in the 34th minute when it was easier to score from 10 yards out. Alvaro Negredo, whilst not at his beastly best, should have had a penalty when Rover’s defender Tommy Spurr pulled him back.
When Negredo did open the scoring on the stroke of half-time, steering home from close range after connecting with Edin Dzeko’s header, City should have been out of sight.
Referee Michael Oliver and his assistants seemed impervious to several challenges that were clear fouls, on Negredo and James Milner, but the officials were obviously keen to contribute fully to the ‘magic of the cup’ e.g. help the underdogs win!
Dedryk Boyata – sadly not living up to the promise he displayed when Roberto Mancini thrust him into the limelight against Manchester United in the League Cup semi finals in 2009-10 – had an uncomfortable afternoon and was dismissed after two yellow cards.
Javi Garcia gave a disappointing, less than commanding display, doing little to endear him to a sceptical City support.
But Pellegrini simply has to utilise his squad as best he can, otherwise his first choice players would be worn out by the time the Champions League comes calling in February.
The drawback is, despite media-hype designed to undermine the club, some of the squad players are not as good as they are portrayed. However, there is a time and a place for transfer speculation and this isn’t it.
City’s Director of Football Txiki Begiristain, working in concert with CEO Ferran Soriano and Pellegrini will know who they want to bring in and who they will let go. Whether those activities extend to this transfer window only they will know.
Most City fans would appreciate top quality defensive additions as a priority but, as stated previously, Karim Rekik looks an outstanding prospect and Matija Nastasic is still only 20 years old. A careful fiscal balance needs to be struck against short and longer term ambitions.
If City can clear out the medical room and have a fully fit roster from which to choose, it will mean the likes of Aguero, Jovetic, Rodwell, Richards and Demichelis being available. Or as the media would have it £120m worth of talent!
Those who have only supported City of more recent seasons, may be unfamiliar with the ‘Typical City’ days of old. This used to be the time of year where fans took solace in the phrase ‘Well now we can concentrate on the league…’
It didn’t refer to trying to win the bloomin’ thing, it usually meant could City amass the 40 points usually required to stay up, before the middle of May?
Considering City had 44 points on New Year’s Day some may wish to reconsider their idiotic negativity aimed at a manager, a team, a squad, and an entire club which is rapidly becoming the envy of the world.
By David Walker