Hawk Mourinho swoops for win – MAN CITY 0 CHELSEA 1

Deja vu hot-footed it across the Atlantic as the best defence managed to master the best ‘offence’ and Fortress Etihad lost a piece of flaking masonry.

As the Seattle Seahawks emphatically thrashed the Denver Broncos in the US Superbowl, so to Chelsea’s miserly back line shut down Manchester City’s goal crazy antics.

City’s fortifications may have been breached but there are firm foundations underfoot, so it’ll be a disappointed man who turns out to watch any further crumbling at Manual Pellegrini’s des res.

Defensive disarray - City were poor and disjointed at the back  Courtesy @MCFC

Defensive disarray – City were poor and disjointed at the back Courtesy @MCFC

The brickwork may have taken a hit but it was the proverbial woodwork which was pummelled by a crisp Chelsea side, immaculately drilled by quartermaster – or should that be non-playing quarterback – Mourinho.

The ‘Snide One’ has a face that cries out to be acquainted with a Spear & Jackson Number 7 shovel, but nonetheless there’s no denying the Setubal Snear’s tactical nous.

His effervescent troops pressed, harried and simply shook City out of the comfort zone of their own front room, hitting the post three times and missing the chance to not only beat, but humiliate, a team being hailed as the ‘best in the world’ less than a week before.

Edin nowhere - Dzeko, Negredo and Co drew a blank at the Etihad  Courtesy @MCFC

Edin nowhere – Dzeko, Negredo and Co drew a blank at the Etihad Courtesy @MCFC

Let’s be straight, City got what they deserved on the night – nothing. The usually razor like attack that has been carving through the opposition all season long, was blunted minus Aguero’s rapier strikes.

Perversely it was the late loss of Sergio’s South American colleague Fernandinho, just before kick-off which ‘did’ for City on the night.

The indefatigable Brazilian is the glue that holds the team together and his omission was massively deflating, more so than Aguero’s, because it was totally unexpected.

Any team would suffer from the absence of such influential players – not forgetting Nasri – and it simply caught up with Pellegrini’s depleted side.

Massive loss - Fernandinho's late injury caused havoc with City's midfield  Courtesy @MCFC

Massive loss – Fernandinho’s late injury caused havoc with City’s midfield Courtesy @MCFC

Milner wasn’t 100%, Garcia is still out injured, Rodwell was confined to the bench and so it fell to the luckless Martin Demichelis to try and keep the fires burning in City’s engine room. Maybe Manuel felt he didn’t have an option, but on the face of it the veteran centre back was patently not the man for the job.

It wasn’t so much that City were especially poor, simply Chelsea were more purposeful, faster and generally ‘up for it’. By their own high standards, City were pedestrian but not totally devoid of creativity.

They could have been 2-0 ahead early on as first Yaya Toure failed to connect by inches with a sizzling Kolarov cross, before David Silva slid a deft shot marginally the wrong side of Cech’s post.

So near yet so far - Yaya was within inches of putting City 1-0 up  Courtesy @MCFC

So near yet so far – Yaya was within inches of putting City 1-0 up Courtesy @MCFC

As we know there are lies, damned lies and statistics and the stats show that City had 25 attempts on goal as opposed to Chelsea’s 18, but they only pressed the veteran Cech into action on three occasions.

City had nearly two thirds of the possession but it counted for diddly squat.

Despite the loss and the missed opportunity to go back to the top of the Premier League, City must adjust and go back to their default setting of winning, winning and then winning some more.

Surrendering six points to Chelsea – the first team to take maximum points off City since Everton in 2010-11 – hurts. It would have cut Pellegrini to the quick, but with 42 points up for grabs this was not a fatal wound – oh no.

Past the post - David Silva's deft shot crept wide of Cech's goal  Courtesy @MCFC

Past the post – David Silva’s deft shot crept wide of Cech’s goal Courtesy @MCFC

Doubtless the ridiculous ‘C’ word will be trotted out in the days running up to City’s trip to Norwich. Pundits will be scrutinising City see if they have any ‘character’ to bounce back and overcome adversity.

‘Character’ be damned – what a stupid over used application of the word in professional sports. No, all City have to do is go about their job in their place of work in a professional fashion.

On the slide - Nastasic has still to recapture the fine form of his debut season Courtesy @MCFC

On the slide – Nastasic has still to recapture the fine form of his debut season Courtesy @MCFC

It would doubtless help if Vinny and Nastasic stopped tackling each other, and the team, as whole, learned their defensive duties.

Edin Hazard managed to live up to his surname for the first time against City. In the past he could have been called Edin Minor Disruption, but the Belgian winger is now coming of age in the Premier League.

His co-conspirator Willian caused Kompany & Co grief unleashing lightning counter attacks, with Chelsea often outnumbering the sky blues as City scampered back to defend.

Difficult night - Demichelis was thrust into City's midfield and endured a tough evening  Courtesy @MCFC

Difficult night – Demichelis was thrust into City’s midfield and endured a tough evening Courtesy @MCFC

Joe Hart was City’s most effective player – talk about being damned with faint praise – keeping the score respectable with several instinctive saves, particularly a close range effort from Ramires, when City were overwhelmed four-to-one at the back.

How ironic that the 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge represented Joe’s lowest ebb in recent times, being omitted from eight of the next nine following games. The only consolation from this horrible home defeat is that Joe is back to nearing his best.

Ultimately it was Ivanovic’s sumptuous 32nd minute left foot half volley that took the laurels and with it City’s 100% home record.

The shut out at the other end brought to an ignominious conclusion, a sequence of 61 consecutive home PL fixtures where City had scored.

TrustOurMP - City will soon be back to winning ways under the astute Pellegrini  Courtesy @MCFC

TrustOurMP – City will soon be back to winning ways under the astute Pellegrini Courtesy @MCFC

With City just two points behind Arsenal, and still to visit the Emirates, Pellegrini’s men remain as title favourites.

There’s every reason to believe the club can indeed win its second title in three years. If, as and when they do, it’s the pain of a home defeat to Chelsea which will make success taste that little bit sweeter.



Read But Never Red will return with reflections on City’s trek to Norwich and a preview of  the Capital One Cup Final dress rehearsal against an Adam Johnson-inspired Sunderland on February 12th.

In the meantime we have TWO TICKETS to give away for City’s next Premier League home game against the Black Cats. To have a chance of winning all you have to do is tell us which ex-Sunderland player scored City’s winner the last time they won the League Cup in 1976.

Answers can be sent directly to Read But Never Red by registering on the site and leaving as a comment or by following @djwskyblu and tweeting the answer with #FLC1976.

The winner will be notified on the morning of the match and tickets collected in person at the Etihad before City make it 12 home wins out of 13!



By David Walker




  1. February 4, 2014  3:14 am by GeorgeInIsrael Reply

    I answered the competition on twitter. If I win the tickets, please give them to somebody deserving who otherwise wouldn't be able to go the game. I trust your judgement.

    • February 4, 2014  3:50 am by David Walker Reply

      That's very gracious George - thanks fella.

  2. February 4, 2014  6:49 am by Chris Williams Reply

    Unfortunately we had to many players off their game last night. We needed an extra an extra body in midfield where we was being over run at times. Thought the obvious move would of been to bring on Clichy and move Kolorov into the middle sacafricing the inept Dzeko, who for such a big bloke allowed himself to be bullied by Terry and Cahill.

    This defeat could serve as a warning shot, we need to shake ourselves down and get back on it Saturday against the Canaries. Lot of dejection coming away from stadium last night, but as City fans we've been in a lot worse positions than we're in now. #Together

    • February 4, 2014  7:11 am by David Walker Reply

      Sure have been in some dark places so 2nd & challenging for title ain't half bad.

  3. February 4, 2014  7:35 am by Gary Derbyshire Reply

    I think that given we have scored 115 or so goals this season the boys can be forgiven for having an 'off' night. I think if we played another 90 minutes we wouldn't have scored! Chelsea played well and probably deserved the win but I'm not too downhearted and I still think we'll go on to win the league (did I just say that??). I fully expect to win away at Norwich and continue the fine form that we have produced over the last 20 games. Another good cameo from Jovetic who looked very lively again when he came on and the future is still looking bright for the boys in blue. #trustourmp

    • February 4, 2014  8:46 am by David Walker Reply

      Weakened by loss of Fernandinho big time. Get Sergio & Samir back & it'll be a whole new ball game MCFC PL CHAMPIONS 2014 - Trust Manuel Pellegrini!

  4. February 4, 2014  10:43 am by Graham Ward Reply

    A good read, David. A disappointing loss against excellent opponents who did deserve it on the night.
    We'll still be in the mix, and, in a funny sort of way, would rather the loss came against this class of opposition than any other - focus is now the point to consider.
    I've also entered the competition via Twitter - have a good break!

  5. February 4, 2014  10:56 am by Toby Teasdale Reply

    Well those who thought Chelsea would park the bus were wrong (me included). Mourinho realised City's vulnerability, or in the case De Michelis venerability, to fast counter attacks. And so it proved, we were fortunate only to concede just the one goal.

    The loss of Fernandinho and the inclusion of De Michelis was a blow. In hindsight it that role may have been better fulfilled by Jovetic or Rodwell. Yaya and Silva were constantly harried As a consequence we were thin up front and stretched at the back (even VK and PZ forced into uncharacteristic errors). Goodness knows what would have happened without Navas' fetching and carrying.

    With our midfield spluttering, we foolishly tried 'route one' with Dzeko as the target man, that is not how we play football, and manna from heaven for Terry and Cahill.

    The 'poisoned one' has exposed several City shortcomings. It will be interesting to see how Pellegrini sets his side up for the FA cup re-run?

    • February 5, 2014  4:58 am by David Walker Reply

      Good observations TT.

  6. February 4, 2014  11:18 am by Doug Henshaw Reply

    It was a bad night at the Etihad Dave but to be fair for most of the game Chelsea were the better side & it could of been 3 or 4. Disappointing but we move on still a lot to play for. The player who scored in the league cup win is Dennis Tueart if I am lucky enough to win again Dave please give the tickets to somebody who otherwise wouldn't be going to game. Excellent read again David enjoy your hols mate.

    • February 5, 2014  4:59 am by David Walker Reply

      Cheers Doug - nice touch on the competition entry #TrustOurMP.

  7. February 4, 2014  9:18 pm by stuart reed Reply

    Summed up fairly - we were out played put simply - all the City fans I've spoken to have taken it on the chin and praised Chelsea and Hazard, particularly. Sign of good fans, that. A positive was that Jovetic looked sharp. And still, we're second in the league, and will get a second bite at 'em in the FA cup.

  8. February 4, 2014  11:47 pm by Simon Dear Reply

    Very gracious and put perfectly , I totally concur with everything you said .. Take Hazzard , Willian & Ramires out of Chelsea and let them try & compete with our first 11 ( minus De mechelis ?) .
    Bar the first 20 mins when it looked like MP had called it right, we always looked uncomfortable in Midfield surrendering possession to 3 v 2 . Yaya did his best to our muscle them on his own but without Ferna watching his back he was always outnumbered . It was a shame we didn't get our noses in front in that first 15 min spell and should have took the lead , the game may have panned out different but as it wore on Chelsea got a foothold and deserved their win, I do feel that beating us twice could be the difference this season in a tight title decider ( sorry hope I'm wrong ).. Only complaint from me was that MP didn't try to change it , ok Jovetic did well coming on and almost grabbed the equaliser at the death , but I would have liked to have seen Milner or Rodwell on for the last 20 to try and give us that extra edge in the middle of the park, Lescott for me instead of Nasty who looked anything but ... That's 3 Englishmen on the bench that could have helped us get the upper hand.
    Our best player was Navas in my opinion , the only one who looked likely to get in behind them .. And provided enough crosses to win any game.
    Need a big reaction now and let's hope we can out gun Chelsea in the cup next weekend . quad - no chance
    Treble - same , double - Maybe .

    • February 5, 2014  5:01 am by David Walker Reply

      Quad always fanciful but let's win PL at all costs & a cup. A double sounds great but nothing on the rocks!

  9. February 4, 2014  11:54 pm by bluewelder Reply

    good account of a very poor performance all round but C'sea did deserve the points but what doesn't kill makes you stronger,we really missed some key players,CTWD.

    • February 5, 2014  5:02 am by David Walker Reply

      Exactly - we'll be back! I pity those poor Canaries!

  10. February 9, 2014  3:54 pm by pete lynch Reply

    gutted but we regroup and move on. We have to take those precious chances and this a game would have been a very different one

    • February 12, 2014  12:57 am by David Walker Reply

      Get our players back from injury & we CAN & WILL win the PL!

  11. February 10, 2014  11:54 am by Toby Teasdale Reply

    This is the kind of carp regarding Yaya at Norwich that is coming out of Chelsea's PR department to any sports blog that will print it.

    By West London Sport

    "Title chasers fear Man City star will escape ban"

    It is suggested that the title-chasing sides are worried that City’s Toure will not be punished for an incident that was missed by referee Jonathan Moss.

    "A source from a club (Chelsea, QPR and Fulham take your pick!) is quoted as saying: “What Toure did was worse than Andy Carroll’s challenge on Chico Flores but the FA were quite happy to uphold Carroll’s three-match ban.

    “But because this could have a huge impact at the top of the table, the suspicion is the FA won’t have the nerve to do anything.”

    So this is how low the championship race has become! It is what you get when 'the poisoned one' is in town. You simply can't polish a turd like Mourinho, only spray it with sparkle

    • February 12, 2014  12:56 am by David Walker Reply

      Back handed compliment - Chelski still fear City title charge - aided & abetted by WBA tonight. Just back from Middle East so RBNR rolls out tomorrow.

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