Is Manuel heading back to the Med? MAN CITY 5 CSKA MOSCOW 2

When Manuel Pellegrini arrived at the Etihad he was handed an extensive ‘to do’ list by Manchester City’s CEO Ferran Soriano, a list which famously comprised the winning of five major trophies in the next three seasons.

Whereas it’s far early to be dusting off the cheque book and investing in a deluxe silverware cleaning kit, City’s manager has been able to put a dirty big tick in the first box on that list, after qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League.

Knockout - City qualified for the last 16 stage of the Champions League - Courtesy @MCFC

Knockout – City qualified for the last 16 stage of the Champions League – Courtesy @MCFC

READ BUT NEVER RED has always put great store on the #TrustOurMP strapline,  it would be lovely to be able to replace it and label the City boss ‘Mr Sheen’ on account of having so much to polish in the trophy cabinet.

The earliest that could possibly happen is March 2nd and the Capital One Cup Final, by which time Pellegrini and City will be halfway to knowing if their Champions League odyssey is to continue into the quarter final stage.

A thoroughly deserved and entertaining 5-2 routing of Russia’s finest, guaranteed City’s progression out of Group D and into the hitherto unchartered waters of the knockout stages of the CL.

Those waters stand a very good chance of being Mediterranean with Barcelona or either Real or Atletico Madrid shaping up as likely opponents, as things stand. There’s also a 25% possibility of a hop across the English Channel and the Seine proposition of PSG.

Penalty appeal - Sergio Aguero became City's highest scorer in European competition - Courtesy @MCFC

Penalty appeal – Sergio Aguero became City’s highest scorer in European competition – Courtesy @MCFC

Much depends on whether Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal qualify as group winners or runners-up. There is also the possibility, faint as it may be, that City go to Munich on December 10th and win by two goals or more, having scored at least three to actually beat Bayern to top slot.

So many ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ and all based on a presumption that City will boost their CL points haul to 12 when Viktoria Plzen visit the Etihad later this month.

Whatever awaits, it’s a great position for Pellegrini to have qualified with a third of the matches still to play. It’s a luxury never afforded to the luckless Roberto Mancini in his two CL campaigns, where he was ‘rewarded’ with consecutive ‘Groups of Death’.

Firecracker - CSKA had no answer to pocket rocket Aguero

Firecracker – CSKA had no answer to pocket rocket Aguero Courtesy @MCFC

The ex-City boss was quick to congratulate his former team on their progression. Who knows, Bobby Manc may yet join City in the last 16 if his new charges – Galatasaray – can maintain second place in their group and deny FC Copenhagen and Juventus.

It says a lot about Pellegrini that far from resting on any laurels, he immediately declared his intention to try and overhaul the reigning European Champions by beating Bayern in the Allianz Arena.

Many would have thought that his focus would have switched to the four vital Premier League games either side of the two remaining CL encounters.

With City five points behind an Arsenal team that suddenly looks like the real deal after a monumental away win at Borussia Dortmund, surely Pellegrini’s priorities should be 12 points from home games against Spurs and Swansea and then away to Southampton before a home shootout with…Arsenal.

Beast Feast begins - Negredo taps-in the first of his hat-trick - Courtesy @MCFC

Beast Feast begins – Negredo taps-in the first of his hat-trick – Courtesy @MCFC

Time will tell and wisdom will prevail as more and more of City’s support begin to come round to a mindset where they do indeed trust their MP.

One look at how the Chilean chief’s summer signings are now settling into City’s team can only instil confidence that The Engineer knows his trade.

Alvaro Negredo’s hat-trick took his season’s tally to nine. The Beast is having a feast and considering he cost just over a third of Edinson Cavani’s £60m transfer fee from Napoli to PSG, he even looks a bargain.

The Spanish striker has hit a rich seam and formed a formidable understanding with City’s undoubted man of the moment, Sergio Aguero.

Aguero’s soon to be ex-father-in-law the dodgy, deceitful, drug-taking Diego Maradona is tarred with his infamous ‘Hand of God’ antics that knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup.

Unstoppable - Superb Sergio has 13 goals in 13 games this season Courtesy @MCFC

Unstoppable – Superb Sergio has 13 goals in 13 games this season Courtesy @MCFC

Well if he has the hand of the Almighty, I reckon Super Sergio can lay claim to God’s feet because he is in heavenly form with 13 goals from 13 appearances so far.

His brace, to put City 2-0 up inside 20 minutes, made him City’s all-time top scorer in European competitions with 12. City fans can only pray that he stays around for years to come to double, treble or even quadruple that Euro goal haul.  

On a night when bonfires burned bright, Aguero’s play was the hottest thing around as he also turned provider with a perfect pinpoint pass for Negredo’s opener, as City went 3-0 up on the half hour.

There were magnificent fireworks both on and off the field at the Etihad, but Matija Nastasic and Gael Clichy provided two suitably dim moments, allowing CSKA to somewhat falsify the score, with two goals that flattered the visitors.

The young Serbian centre back – undoubtedly destined for great things with City –  was slow to push out of defence, enabling the lively Seydou Doumbia to pull it back to 3-1 on the stroke of half time.

Last word - Yaya's football did all the talking Courtesy @MCFC

Last word – Yaya’s football did all the talking Courtesy @MCFC

The Ivory Coast striker must have been torn by the racist taunts directed at his fellow countryman, Yaya Toure, in Moscow, and bringing pleasure to some of those who indulged in the disgusting practice.

Thankfully there was no repeat of the monkey noises, although the 800 CSKA fans who did make it to Manchester in a sober condition, were heard to chant something along the lines of ‘F U Yaya’ or ‘Death to Yaya’. All very cultured and encouraging for the 2018 World Cup Finals, I’m sure!

Yaya had the pleasure of lofting a beautiful pass through to Nasri, whose unselfish lay off gave Negredo his second tap-in around the 51st minute mark.

Clichy rather needlessly hauled Doumbia down in the penalty area 20 minutes later and the CSKA man dispatched his penalty past Costel Pantilimon, who was making his CL debut in goal.

High flyers - Negredo thanks Milner for putting his hat-trick header on a plate Courtesy @MCFC

High flyers – Negredo thanks Milner for putting his hat-trick header on a plate Courtesy @MCFC

The final piece of pyrotechnical activity on the field of play was delivered by James Milner whose perfect cross was nodded into the net by the now well fed Beast.

5-2 and a job very well done on an illuminating night of kaleidoscopic capers.

Next up is the Stadium of Light and a Sunderland side with an annoying habit of beating City 1-0 for three seasons on the run, despite being outplayed every time..

It’s a must win. If not, the Champions League firework display will soon lose some of its sparkle.


By David Walker




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  1. November 8, 2013  8:39 am by susan richardson Reply

    A sparkler of a write up!

    • November 8, 2013  10:52 am by David Walker Reply

      It obviously ignited you #dearohdearohdear!

  2. November 8, 2013  9:02 am by Mole Rocks Reply

    As you mention, the second task on MP's to-do list can be ticked off with qualification, I'm hoping the first was to give Moyes a good beating!

    Quite a daunting prospect in the next stage, a double header against any of those teams you listed will be a true test of City's evolution.

    City overcame Everton recently, so now it's time to cure the Sunderland curse. Hopefully the comments about not fearing City will add a bit more impetus to our performance.

    A draw or defeat will certainly be a step backwards, especially as we don't want to rely on United to beat Arsenal.

    Come on City, make our weekend with an away win.

    • November 8, 2013  10:53 am by David Walker Reply

      A win at The Stadium of Dim is decidedly overdue - let's hope so.

  3. November 8, 2013  9:09 am by Nev Artingstall Reply

    Great article again David. No other blog can hold a "roman" candle (ahem) to you. If we manage to finally beat the mackems on Sunday I think this could become a special season for us.

    • November 8, 2013  10:55 am by David Walker Reply

      I was a bit late with this report due to some adverse circumstances but I promise all of the firework puns have now fizzled out. Thanks Nev.

  4. November 8, 2013  9:15 am by Graham Ward Reply

    Fireworks on and off the pitch on Tuesday! What an enticing, but formidable, prospect awaits in the knockout stages of the CL.
    But, yes, Sunderland first. Let's sort this bogeyman out as well, please, City.

    • November 8, 2013  10:58 am by David Walker Reply

      I'd love Barcelona. If you're going to progress you have to beat the top teams and a full on CL encounter in the Nou Camp is something I never ever ever thought could happen in my lifetime. Would re-mortgage the house if that's what it takes to be there if it happens. Barcelona is such a beautiful and to go again but as part of the Sky Blue Army would be sensational.

      But first it's Sunderland...

  5. November 8, 2013  9:33 am by Simon Dear Reply

    I agree .. An away win at Sunderland could actually be just as pivotal in the season in PL terms as qualification for CL knockout stages.
    It's another must do on the list for me, and again something we couldn't achieve under RM, so the signs are good that we can end this hoodoo. We have started to look more like PL champs again recently ( bar 92 min at Chelsea ) which was wiped out when they lost at Toon . And whilst on the subject we will need Joe in the team at back to his very best by Xmas to see off any of the aforementioned 3 Spanish sides . I think out of them our best chance would be against Real who incidentally have banished Isco to the bench after the arrival of Bale. Maybe if we do play them MP might put his arm around the little Magician and a Jan bid my do the trick . I still think he could end up at City this season.
    Great read as usual and good luck in the FBA

  6. November 8, 2013  11:00 am by David Walker Reply

    Yes, I've seen the Isco stories as well. I'd love it to happen but sadly, whatever is going on with Bale, I cannot see Real parting with him. He was as good as ours in the summer before Real Madrid dropped something like €10m to his Dad - all above board of course...

  7. November 8, 2013  1:35 pm by John Chase Reply

    You write well.

  8. November 8, 2013  5:04 pm by Mark Turner Reply

    Thanks David, the best things in life are worth waiting for, this blog, and our progression to the last 16. I hope all is well with you and those close to you.
    Bar a couple of errors, it was certainly a sparkling performance and it is starting to feel that Our MP knows his best side and they are starting to display increasing confidence and self belief. The beauty and the beast partnership up front is incredibly exciting to watch. (Funny how none of the press which I saw drew any comparisons with the prettiness of our performance and the ugly cheating practiced elsewhere on the same night?)
    Need to give the Mackems a good beating at the weekend to maintain our momentum, and perhaps hope for a few other results to swing our way to accentuate the impact of this!

    • November 9, 2013  7:15 pm by David Walker Reply

      It would be such a huge let down if we drop points at Sunderland - it's matches such as these and Cardiff and Villa where we could lose the title. No more buggering about - we have the best players we need to be the best team. Get at the Mackems/Black Cats, whatever the hell they call themselves, and put them down with a powerhouse show. 3-0 City! Cheers MT.

  9. November 8, 2013  6:32 pm by Mikey Kendall Reply

    Nastasic is going to be a great player and will become a city legend. But this season he has made some errors that has cost us alot of goals, and hes mistakes have gone unnoticed.ive heard no moans or twines about the lad. As were hart has been ripped to pieces. I just find that strange as no wants that lad put on the bench and lescott recalled. As were ppl forgot the class joe has and quick to want he dropped. But i suppose joes are more higlighted. Great read once again.

    • November 9, 2013  7:18 pm by David Walker Reply

      Agree MK, Nasty hasn't been as assured but that will have a lot to do with Kopmpany's absence. It's the same with Joleon, he plays better with VK alongside, it must the encouragement that Vinnie gives and confidence he exudes. I think Pants will stay in goal for now, but there's no denying Joe is the better goalkeeper. He can go away to England play for the national team and hopefully regain his spot before too long but hopefully not because City and Pants are struggling. It's a dilemma for MP.

  10. November 8, 2013  8:35 pm by Jim Land Reply

    Hate to be picky, but Madrid is 350k/220miles from the Med. That's a bit like saying Manchester is near the English Channel. Just saying. Otherwise another excellent piece of work

    • November 8, 2013  8:47 pm by David Walker Reply

      I suppose if you were called Jim Water you might have called it differently? Only being facetious - fair point. I once went on Geography field trip with my school off the Shropshire Coast

      • November 8, 2013  10:05 pm by Jim Land Reply

        Ahh, the Costa del Shropshire. Lovely spot

  11. November 9, 2013  5:15 pm by DOUG Reply

    A sparkling piece from you David. I really enjoyed the game we were superb up front with just still a bit shake at the back but a terrific win & i believe the first English team to qualify with two games to go ( correct me if i am wrong ) Barcelona would do for me that's why were in this to play the best so bring them on. Now for Sunderland & hopefully 3 pt.

    • November 9, 2013  7:21 pm by David Walker Reply

      If we get Barca I am taking the family come hell or highwater (famous last words). I never dreamt such a tie could be possible when we were bumbling along with the likes of Stuart Pearce and not a penny to our names. Sheikh Mansour has just said that the City project is only just getting going...manna from heaven!

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