Fastest 500 Premier League points ever, but Pep still has points to prove

Pep Guardiola will always have points to prove with his magnificent Manchester City side, despite being the fastest manager in Premier League history to amass 500 points.

Pep is faster than Fergie, Mourinho, Wenger, Klopp – you name them – to amass 500 Premier League points.

In a tough and bruising encounter with a Southampton team that were more sinners than saints, Pep chalked up his 500th point in just his 213th top flight game, the only downside being he couldn’t make it to 502 at St Mary’s Stadium.

Obviously, even Pep can’t win them all, and sadly it proved to be the case against Ralph Hasenhuttl’s well drilled starting XI, who could so easily have been reduced to nine, courtesy of their ‘challenges’ on Aymeric Laporte and Jack Grealish.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has proven himself to be a formidable adversary in recent times, albeit his Saints are more like sinners when they play City.

At this point I should say that I quite warm to Hasenhuttl as an individual, if not some of the sinister antics deployed by the likes of Romeu, Bednarek and Armstrong.

The Southampton boss more or less admitted he was relieved to still have 11 players on the pitch at the final whistle. He was savvy enough to substitute both Bednarek and Armstrong long before the 90 minutes were up, just in case referee Simon Hooper or the colour blind clowns operating VAR, actually woke up to what was happening out on the field of play.

Laporte was on the receiving end of a vicious challenge from Southampton’s Stuart Armstrong. Amazingly the ‘Saint’ only saw yellow and not red.

Quite how Stuart Armstrong was given a yellow, and not a red card, for a ‘studs up’ raking of Laporte’s upper thigh only VAR knows. It was – in football vernacular – a ‘nailed on sending off’, just in the way John Stones had been dismissed earlier in the season away at Aston Villa – only this was far worse.

PGMOL and VAR’s explanation was that it was merely a ‘glancing blow’! It was an ugly, horrible looking ‘challenge, with seemingly only the VAR official and the Sky commentary team happy to agree.

Get in – Laporte celebrates his 65th minute headed equaliser.

At least the studio pundits Graeme Souness and Micah Richards had the balls to state otherwise, but the nauseating Sky anchor – or something sounding like anchor – David Jones – persisted with the ‘glancing blow’ descriptor like a disciple on a mission to convince and convert any doubting Thomas’.

Jack Grealish was at the centre of many an altercation as Southampton meted out some rough stuff.

How would Jones and the monotone drone, Alan Smith – on co-commentary – would fair if they received similar ‘glancing blows’? Incredulously Jones managed to surpass himself when asserting that Southampton should have had more than the draw, presumably based on their 26% possession, two corners and seven shots.

This contrasted with City’s eleven corners and 20 attempts on goal, of which three strikes from De Bruyne, Rodri and Jesus, hit the ‘woodwork’.

City weren’t at their best, but come the end of the season this could well prove to be a point earned, rather than two squandered.

If Jones and Sky believe Southampton deserved all three points, they’re probably applying the same supposition by which Arsenal were acclaimed as Club World Champions on New Year’s Day, after winning the ‘We Won The First Half Against City’ Cup.

Sadly it’s no longer surprising that any City opponent is portrayed as plucky and deserving underdogs, irrespective of how dirty and cynical their play and tactics.

At this juncture, and in the interests of balance and casting aside any sense of entitlement, I should acknowledge the excellence of Kyle Walker-Peters’ first ever Premier League goal – an exquisite strike when the home team were in the ascendency in the early stages of the game.

Grealish was ‘grounded’ by yet another Southampton foul and was more than happy to take on Romeu in the tunnel at the final whistle.

By City’s amazingly high standards, they were well below par in a first half of sloppy defending, errant passing and poor finishing, but as the saying goes, ‘shit happens’ – and it certainly was happening to Jack Grealish.

He was the target of some heavy tackles and malicious fouls by Hasenhuttl’s hitmen, particularly Polish centre back, Jan Bednarek and Spanish ‘enforcer’, Oriol Romeu. One evil lunge in particular put City’s £100m man on the floor, only for Romeu to stand over the prone Grealish, snarling and taunting that he was feigning injury. It led to an alleged confrontation in the tunnel after the game.

Pep wasn’t taking any sh*t when answering the Sky reporter’s questions at St. Mary’s Stadium, sticking up for his team and refusing to take the bait.

Whereas there was an element of red and white thuggery on the pitch, City did as City do and continued fighting until the end, dominating the second half and more than deserving of Aymeric Laporte’s 65th minute headed equaliser.

Kevin De Bruyne was denied what many believed to be a strong penalty claim after a VAR review.

The visitors had a very strong penalty claim denied when De Bruyne was taken down – arguably just inside the 18 yard box – but the vagaries of VAR decided otherwise. It looked – at least through slightly tinted sky blue spectacles – like a penalty, but it was contentious.

With Liverpool winning at Crystal Palace, closing the gap to nine points – and still with a game in hand – the media can be forgiven for getting a tad moist at the prospect of a two-way title tussle. As for VAR and any outrageous penalty awards – look no further than Diego Jota’s pathetic performance. Having lost control of the ball he ran into Palace keeper, Guaita. LiVARpool’s absent diving team of Salah and Mane – away on AFCON duty – have taught their Portuguese partner well. One can but wonder if Michael Masi – Formula One’s controversial Race Director who handed the title to Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi – has switched roles to PGMOL, with a brief to try and enliven the Premier League race.

You can’t win them all and City had to settle for a 1-1 draw after falling behind to Kyle Walker-Peters’ superb strike.

Ultimately it all comes back to City being City, particularly under Guardiola, as the club who continue to mess with an agenda that demands Liverpool, United, or at a push, Arsenal, should be winning the league. The red masses represent the media’s main demographic and happy reds mean more and more, subscribers to their stations or purchasers of their papers.

City are an inconvenience – a team, a squad, of interchangeable brilliance, under the tutelage of the greatest coach in the modern era, if not, of all time.

It’s a sad fact that City get sh* t simply because they’ve upset the proverbial apple cart. It’s a weird and warped back-handed compliment, but with five-and-a-half years served in the Premier League, one doubts if Pep gives a flying wotsit.

That’s Guardiola spelt G.O.A.T.

His recent comments about never ‘betraying’ City, have been construed by some, as a glimmer of hope that he may stay at the Etihad beyond 2023. Can City fans, as well as Sheikh Mansour and Khaldoon Al Mubarak, dare to dream of 10 years of Guardiola in M11 3FF?

In game show parlance, ‘Points make prizes’. Pep has already banked 500 in his relentless drive for the game’s big prizes and, if he puts pen to paper, the media and City haters will have to suffer an extended inconvenient truth.

Dedicated to the memory of a dear departed City Blue – Neil Jones #Cans – who would have been 52-years old today.  He fought ‘til the end, but passed away on derby day, March 7th last year. Gone but never ever forgotten.

By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu

12 Comments

  1. January 23, 2022  6:31 pm by David Kelly Reply

    John Aldridge is at it as well tonight. Bitter dippers cannot take being beaten into second place again by little Cithee with them having a bigger squad than us as well.

    • January 23, 2022  7:40 pm by David Walker Reply

      I'd say Aldridge is as thick as pig sh*t, but I fear the pig sh*t's lawyers would soon be onto me suing for defamation. We'll just have to content ourselves knowing how City's success is eating away at his thoroughly rotten core. Thanks David.

  2. January 23, 2022  7:15 pm by Kieron Reply

    First class report as usual, cutting through the bullshit, rising above the pond life gutter press and sticking to facts. Another great read, Dave....

    • January 23, 2022  7:38 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Kieron, sadly the coverage that City received last night is what we've come to expect. It's absolutely hideous, the only saving grace being that we let our football do the talking, knowing full well the p*ss boiling levels are going off the scale.

  3. January 23, 2022  7:23 pm by Paul Keys Reply

    Always glad to see your wordsmith talents eloquently stating what I'm thinking without the effin and Jeffin, cos when I saw Laporte assaulted, the swear box coffers did increase somewhat! And as for sky's commentary team well, off the scale for b#lls#it bias 🤬

    • January 23, 2022  7:43 pm by David Walker Reply

      And yet we continue to overcome all the bias, prejudice, hatred and jealousy. The broadcasters have no idea how transparent they appear and how desperate they sound, but if they do, then it only serves to double down on there pathetic attempts to appease their red audience. Thanks for the feedback and comments.

  4. January 23, 2022  9:29 pm by Geoffrey Blake Reply

    David! Three reports/reviews in quick succession!
    Thankyou! 2022 has been a great year so far!  for highlighting the thuggery in yesterday's game, AL shared a Twitter pic of the wound on his thigh and it certainly looked like ' a glancing blow'- not!

    Thx as well for highlighting the 'fastest to 500 points' record - strange that this was missed from every other report ive read this weekend!
    And oh, the dreams of PG signing an extension! Hopefully a decision/announcement/signing before the summer window so that any prospective transfers know what they're getting...and assured of more than just 12 mths with the guvnor...

    Next season is going to be really strange as it with a World Cup and a six-seven week break halfway through. Those players in teams reaching quarters, semis and finals (many of whom could be blue) will need further time off before they return to play. Gonna be a lot for some teams to complain about!

    Rgds
    Geoff

    • January 24, 2022  8:55 am by David Walker Reply

      Great feedback and observations GB - much appreciated. As for 2022-23, yes there are are going to be a lot of top flight footballers running on fumes in the second half of the season. A mid-winter World Cup in Qatar makes perfect sense! Whoever said corruption doesn't pay had obviously never heard of FIFA.

  5. January 24, 2022  3:00 pm by Douglas Terence Henshaw Reply

    Good article once again Dave. Southampton game was a tough one to be fair they played well in the first half while we were certainly off the mark. But we improved in the second half and although I'm not convinced it was a pen, the tackle on Laporte was a straight red how the ref and var didn't see it is beyond me. Southampton did resort to the thuggish side a lot in the second half but you can't win them all and it gives the media something to gloat about. I have long since stopped bothering about most of the crap that is spouted about us don't see it ever changing. On a slightly different note some city fans need to get off Grealish's back yes I know he cost a lot but that doesn't guarantee anything I'm sure Pep knows what he's doing and eventually we will see the best of him. One last thought Aldridge is a p***k and always will be.

    • January 24, 2022  8:25 pm by David Walker Reply

      I thought it was a penalty for the foul on KDB, but the contradiction is that whichever way the decision went, it wasn't a 'clear and obvious error' - the ridiculous criteria which is supposed to apply for VAR interventions. Yes, the press and media spout shite and I really should let it wash over me, but if we don't call it out opinions can be taken as facts and that cannot go unaddressed. Completely with you on giving Grealish time to settle and adjust to what Pep requires. His transfer fee wasn't of his making and he's a very talented player who will blossom under Pep's tutelage. As for that no mark Aldridge, who listens to that cretin? Thanks for your input Doug.

  6. February 1, 2022  4:09 pm by Edward Burnett Reply

    Hi David, great article as always! I'm a trainee journalist (and City fan) and I wanted to reach out over a couple of City things but couldn't find an email for you. Would you be able to drop me an email back to this (burnetteb@cardiff.ac.uk) and I can get in touch? Thanks.

    • February 1, 2022  7:24 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks for your feedback - much appreciated. I don't make a habit of giving out my email address, but if you want to follow the RBNR twitter account I will follow back. We can exchange DMs, as a starting point, and take it from there. Does that sound agreeable?

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