Is Pellegrini’s number up? Man City 1 Barcelona 2

The phone call from the Etihad to the La Roselada Stadium would go something like this, albeit in Spanish, not English:

“Hi Javi, it’s Manuel here, I need a favour. I know you’ve only been there for five minutes and I was there for nearly three years, but tell me…how the hell do you beat Barcelona, let me in on the secret, I haven’t a clue!”

Crunch the numbers - Pellegrini needs to get rid of 4-4-2!  Courtesy@MCFC

Crunch the numbers – Pellegrini needs to get rid of 4-4-2! Courtesy@MCFC

“Ah, Manuel, ola. It’s never easy, especially at the Nou Camp, but one thing’s for sure, you’ll never do it with a 4-4-2 formation. I hear some idiot in England tries to do it time and time and time again and never learns their lesson – such foolishness. Manuel? Manuel? Ola Manuel…are you still there?”

And there endeth the lesson before it even began when Senor Pellegrini – the Manchester City manager and former boss of Malaga – rang seeking guidance from Senor Garcia, the man who presided over present day Malaga’s 1-0 La Liga away win in the Catalan capital last weekend.

As a hitherto staunch supporter of the man who delivered City’s most successful ever season in 2013/14, it genuinely pains me to write that his blind faith, in a fundamentally flawed formation, will almost certainly be his undoing.

Double trouble - City go 2-0 down to Barcelona. Courtesy@MCFC

Double trouble – City go 2-0 down to Barcelona. Courtesy@MCFC

Once is unfortunate, twice is careless and three times is criminal…so Manuel Pellegrini and his team are deemed guilty when it comes to capitulating to the Catalonians 0-2, 1-2 and 1-2 in their trio of Champions League clashes, over the past 12 months.

To put it mildly – very mildly – the massed ranks of Manchester City supporters are peeved and perplexed at Pellegrini’s intransigence, stubbornness and inability, to see what needs to be done when it comes to competing in the Champions League

It’s something of a paradox when you consider the cultured and likeable Chilean has taken teams to the semi final and twice to the quarter final stages of the competition – clubs with far less resources than Manchester City.

Vital strike - Sergio handed City a lifeline at 2-1. Courtesy@MCFC

Vital strike – Sergio handed City a lifeline at 2-1. Courtesy@MCFC

First with Villarreal and then with Malaga, Pellegrini massively over-achieved. Now, sadly, he is on the verge of another under-achieving Manchester City campaign in Europe’s top club competition.

UEFA and the continent’s cartel of the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, not to mention England’s very own Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, have all sought to make City as welcome as a fart in a space suit at Europe’s top table.

Of course City, like any other club, wouldn’t expect any on-field favours from their rivals, but Michel Platini and his cohorts have done all in their power to make life difficult for the ‘interlopers’ from Manchester.

Third strike - Clichy is sent off - one of three City defenders shown the red card against Barcelona in 12 months. Courtesy@MCFC

Third strike – Clichy is sent off – one of three City defenders shown the red card against Barcelona in 12 months. Courtesy@MCFC

City have had a man sent off in each of the three ‘Last 16’ fixtures with Barcelona. Demichelis had to go after taking Lionel Messi down in the home leg last season. It wasn’t, however a penalty.

Zabaleta should never have seen red in the return fixture in the Nou Camp. French referee Stephan Lannoy stank the place out after Zaba protested for a stonewall City penalty.

In the latest instalment of the trilogy, German official Dr Felix Brych was hoodwinked by the deceitful Dani Alves, whose Oscar-deserving performance, dispatched Gael Clichy to the dressing room with 20 minutes left to play.

However, it doesn’t do to be paranoid on this occasion.

Warm up...before City felt the chill of Champions League defeat. Courtesy@MCFC

Warm up…before City felt the chill of Champions League defeat. Courtesy@MCFC

City were deservedly beaten by a superior Barcelona, but when will Lady Luck turn her grimace into a smile for City, now in their fifth year of Champions League competition – it would be so wrong to say contention.

One glance at the team sheet – the obvious 4-4-2 set-up – and the inclusion of Fernando had the Etihad faithful praying that Manuel did, in some perverse way, know best.

Had The Engineer created something in his workshop, away from the public glare and media scrutiny, something that would blow minds and send Barcelona staggering back to Spain beaten and bloodied?

Rose between two thorns - Aguero gave a decent account of himself - Fernando and Kompany let themselves down. Courtesy@MCFC

Rose between two thorns – Aguero gave a decent account of himself – Fernando and Kompany let themselves down. Courtesy@MCFC

Err…no.

It’s far from laudable to seek scapegoats in times of adversity, far better to stick with the virtues of both winning and losing as a collective.

Sod that.

Fernando, to put it even more mildly than the criticism of Pellegrini, evoked fury and frustration among the home support. To many, he brings absolutely nothing, zilch, nada to the party.

At £12m is he the worst pound for pound (sterling, not imperial weights) player in City’s modern day history? Presumably scouted and coveted by Txiki Begiristain and Pellegrini, Fernando was supposed to be an upgrade on Javi Garcia.

No smiling matter - Fernando appears out of his depth with City after his move from Porto. Courtesy@MCFC

No smiling matter – Fernando appears out of his depth with City after his move from Porto. Courtesy@MCFC

Garcia was supposed to be an upgrade on Nigel De Jong, so if we continue on this evolutionary theory, who the hell will City buy next in this so-called improvement in the corps of defensive midfielders?

Is there a one-legged midfield destroyer playing in the lower reaches of Portuguese football? If so, one can be assurred Txiki already has him on the radar for this summer’s transfer market.

Stating the obvious, only Sergio Aguero and Joe Hart emerge with any credit from this crushingly disappointing Champions League reality check.

Aguero, starved of decent service for long periods of the game, gobbled up the 69th minute opportunity to make it 2-1, courtesy of a deft back-heeled assist from David Silva.

Fight Till The End  - Joe's penalty save from Messi keeps the tie alive. Courtesy@MCFC

Fight Till The End – Joe’s penalty save from Messi keeps the tie alive. Courtesy@MCFC

Hart – who despite making vital stops from Suarez, was also beaten twice by the despicable El Rodento – proved a potential saviour in the dying seconds of added time.

Zabaleta bundled fellow countryman Messi over for an undeniable penalty, seemingly signing City’s death warrant and a 3-1 Barca win.

Lionel,the little Argentine genius, stepped up to repeat his successful penalty conversion in last year’s first leg. He put the ball to Joe’s left –as he has done with the previous eight penalties he has missed – with the same result.

With the goal gaping at his mercy, Messi’s diving header went wide, Hart jumped for joy and the Etihad – at least those who had stayed until the bitter end – erupted in celebration.

Jumping Joe - Hart celebrates his spot kick stop from Messi. Courtesy@MCFC

Jumping Joe – Hart celebrates his spot kick stop from Messi. Courtesy@MCFC

It had been the proverbial game of two halves. Suarez’s double strike wasn’t a fair reflection of a first 45 minutes where City could easily have been three or four down.

Captain Kompany’s continuing calamities are of grave concern as he and City’s defence were exposed by the directness and speed of Barca’s incisive forward play. Just what is going on with the skipper who’s always at sea nowadays?

The pre-match talk from Kompany and Nasri about not fearing Barcelona, along with the assertion this was a ‘different’ and much improved City from last year, proved laughable.

Driving force - Yaya could make a heck of a difference in the Nou Camp. Courtesy@MCFC

Driving force – Yaya could make a heck of a difference in the Nou Camp. Courtesy@MCFC

Pellegrini’s pledge to be aggressive and attack the Spaniards was a pearler from Manuel’s Ministry of Misinformation.

It only came to life in the second half, when City displayed the conviction and work rate that stems from having virtually nothing to lose.

This tie could and should have been over by now. The fact it isn’t owes more to good fortune than good judgement.

Yaya Toure will now get his opportunity to exert his influence, inflict damage on his former employers and guide City to success, in their far too often laboured and painful European odyssey. Free from his three-match suspension, can City’s Ivorian talisman help make the difference in three weeks time?

Gracias - Zaba congratulates Joe after his dramatic heroics. Courtesy@MCFC

Gracias – Zaba congratulates Joe after his dramatic heroics. Courtesy@MCFC

Wednesday 18th March offers Manuel Pellegrini what could be his final chance of Champions League redemption with Manchester City.

Woe betide him if the numbers 4-4-2 figure prominently in his planning. It could be the pre-cursor to another double digit featuring one of his initials this May – P45.

#SadlyNo LongerTrustedIn EuropeMP

By David Walker

 

www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu

 

36 Comments

  1. February 25, 2015  10:15 pm by Doug Henshaw Reply

    Spot on Dave could not believe it when I saw the team sheet, 2 up front was unbelievable enoug. But the disaster that is Fernando in the team was worse. What was the point in keeping Lampard if he's not going to play, I felt sure he would start the game & bring his big game experience to the match. After 20m it was easy to see MPs master plan wasn't working but what did MP do he did absolute nothing. Its one small step forward & several large steps backwards for City. Even should we do the impossible & win in Barcelona it does not make up for a poor night at the Etihad.

    • February 25, 2015  11:12 pm by David Walker Reply

      I'd have to differ Doug - if MP pulls off the required win at the Nou Camp it means he will have learnt something and put it to good use. I'll buy us both THE biggest humble pie with lashings of gravy!

  2. February 25, 2015  10:22 pm by Eileen Fullen Reply

    I was at the Bar when the team was announced and to say there were gasps bleep bleeps is an understatement. I honestly thought we had a half decent chance last night but Pellars hasn't learnt anything.The City faithful are getting restless with his insistence on 4-4-2 The team just not fighting and that includes the PL Heres hoping they prove me wrong on Sunday. TU

    • February 25, 2015  11:11 pm by David Walker Reply

      Absolutely. Despite the tone of my article there is still room enough for some optimism, especially if the players have the desiore to be Champions Of England again. Who knows, with courage and adventure and a much higher intensity, we could still do something positive in Barcelona.

  3. February 25, 2015  10:26 pm by Dave Leyland Reply

    Superb analysis David. Danny (fanzone) Jackson gave me the heads up on the team sheet half an hour before the official announcement. My reaction was to say "well that's us stuffed again"
    We sort of got away with it after Joe saved the pen, but as I said on Facebook last night. Win or lose in Barcelona, win or lose the title at the end of the season! Manuel Pellegrini's tenure will be over. Adios Amigo it was a blast whilst it lasted.

    • February 25, 2015  11:09 pm by David Walker Reply

      I like MP - that's pretty obvious over more than one-and-a-half seasons BUT this 4-4-2 crap in Europe is beyond a joke. A lot of our signings have fallen short of the mark and whoever is in charge in the summer ( I hope it is MP unless Pep is ready to come to England) needs to look outside of bloody Portugal when spending big money. If we retain the PL it'll be a tough call to sack a manager with two PL titles in two years. We must be careful what we wish for...there's not that many I would swap for Manuel, but this Champions League nonsense has to be addressed.

      • February 26, 2015  9:05 am by Dave Leyland Reply

        I like MP too but you're right this inability to see the obvious? 4-4-2 does not work in Europe? We can see it, The press can see it, the pundits can see it? Why can't MP?
        Stubborn or What?

        • February 26, 2015  12:14 pm by David Walker Reply

          If - IF - MP goes with 4-4-2 in the return leg and City are beaten again it will seriously undermine his position. Being knocked out by a very good Barcelona side is no disgrace, but it's the manner of the performance and the preparation that will be the most telling factors. Who knows, it's still only a one goal difference and all to play for, but it's difficult seeing City keeping a clean sheet. That means we need three...or a very good set of penalty takers after 120 minutes of high drama. I'll take that all day long at this point.

  4. February 25, 2015  10:31 pm by brendan stokes Reply

    Great article mate

    • February 25, 2015  11:03 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks - not one that I enjoyed writing.

  5. February 25, 2015  10:37 pm by guy burke Reply

    Can't really understand why all this fuss re 4-4-2 ? The game started with Barcelona in their ghastly away kit looking like nothing special at all ,a freaky first and sublime second changed things somewhat but why wait until the second half (playing 442 ) to have a real go at Barcelona (playing 442 ) put them under severe pressure (playing 442)and making them look extremely vulnerable (can you guess ? ) is the real mystery of the night in my opinion. Barcelona should be out of sight, but they are not and whilst there is even feint hope there is still life . Plus side is ,city will have a serious point to prove on Sunday v Liverpool. The whole season so far appears to be an endless succession of peaks and troughs - it really is the way we like it , isn't it ?

    • February 25, 2015  11:05 pm by David Walker Reply

      In answer to your question GB - NO! Give me peaks and loftier peaks any day ;-)

  6. February 25, 2015  11:10 pm by Andy Harris Reply

    Im glad its not only me who thinks MP is inept, he never seems to react quickly enough when hes got it wrong. How on earth was Cliche still on the pitch to get a second yellow, his lack of class was clear to see as he got pulled from pillar to post all match, I was saying take him off hes on a yellow, take him off hes on a yellow, then next thing RED CARD.
    Time for MP to be booted out and get someone in with Champions league winning experience, ( RAFA is available thoughts anyone?)

    • February 25, 2015  11:16 pm by David Walker Reply

      I still want to see MP address the issues and succeed. I'd swap for Pep Guardiola in a heartbeat but your Rafa call is an interesting one. He knows his stuff. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  7. February 25, 2015  11:46 pm by Suzy B Reply

    Informed and thoughtful writing, as always, David - appreciate that you have the guts to say it and say it well.

    • February 26, 2015  12:00 am by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Suzy - trust me I don't like writing in this fashion, neither am I lobbying for MP to be sacked. However, last night wasn't acceptable.

  8. February 26, 2015  1:23 am by Simon Wilson Reply

    First half was a disaster. Second half was more City-like. I seem to recall the must win Roma game having 5 across the middle. If my addled memory proves correct, it certainly worked. Corners were better though .... Again, you are as insightful as always and a pleasure to read.

    • February 26, 2015  6:06 am by David Walker Reply

      As previously stated, I take no pleasure or derive any satisfaction from writing an article in this manner. I'm City through and through and an advocate of Pellegrini, but I'm not here to blow sky blue smoke up people's backsides. Thanks for your comments.

  9. February 26, 2015  5:40 am by gEO Reply

    Though we were indeed outplayed, I think we were very unlucky to concede the first goal, a freak bit of luck fell straight to Suarez... had it fallen to us then it would of been a very idfferent story, as it was we didn't react and ended up giving Messi half a millimeter and got punished again.

    Though I dislike the 442, i dont really think MP got it 'wrong' Dzeko played well on the weekend and was a needed inclusion vs Mascherano at CB just in case we managed to find him on a corner!

    All we need is a bit of luck like Barca had and it will be a very interesting tie at the Nou Camp, City to qualify in ET there me thinks with a Yaya powerhouse run in the 118th minute!

    • February 26, 2015  8:02 am by David Walker Reply

      We'd have to agree to disagree on formations and the fact that we surrendered possession for prolonged periods. 4-4-2 in itself is not the problem - it's having the players who can make the system work e.g. who will press quickly when not in possession and win the ball back. There's also the matter of our defence not playing, or properly executing, a high line.

      I certainly wouldn't disagree with your proposed outcome at the Nou Camp ;-) Thanks for your feedback.

  10. February 26, 2015  6:56 am by guy burke Reply

    Rafa was hounded out of anfield by fan dissatisfaction in the end and his tenure at Napoli has been roller coaster to say the least as has most of his career - so not an improvement on what we already have in my opinion? Pep is a different kettle of fish however!!

    • February 26, 2015  7:10 am by David Walker Reply

      City getting a new 'Pep' talk would be the optimum option.

  11. February 26, 2015  8:57 am by @l0ngwayfr0mh0me Reply

    Some truths in there David but I think the second half showed it wasn't all about the formation. Pellers successfully employed 4-4-1-1 with Malaga all the way to the quarters in 2013, with only some dubious refereeing against Dortmund robbing them of a deserved semi final place. Indeed the formation has seen the most exciting football at Man City in years, with goal records falling more often than Ashley Young. The problem with cavalier football, is it requires 100% belief and hard work in closing down. After an extremely lucky first goal there was only Pellers who still believed (at least until the half time team talk) and once belief went and with it the required hard work, the first half became inept. Vincent must look long and hard at himself - not necessarily for the goal which was unfortunate - but at his inability to rouse and refocus the team on the job in hand. 2012 Vincent would have done this. It was brave to play 4-4-1-1 against a £150m strike force (plus Messi :D) maybe even blind faith, but not naïve. He could have Maureened it and parked the bus and still lost ... better to have fought and lost than not have fought at all - is Pellers's Mantra but the players need the same belief and commitment as him to make it work.

    • February 26, 2015  12:22 pm by David Walker Reply

      Excellent observations. It could well be that if City had the players who were comfortable in a 4-4-2 and had the intensity and desire to make it work, it may well bear fruit. At present our midfield isn't up to the task. What does MP do, play a system which best suits the players at his disposal or does he adopt a system and insist his players adapt to it? City have fallen short because, despite spending big money - notwithstanding FFP - they haven't acquired the quality of players to mount and sustain a strong European campaign. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  12. February 26, 2015  9:43 am by Toby Teasdale Reply

    The walkover against Newcastle left MP ‘star struck’.

    Obvious Lampard (in 5 man midfield) should have started, instead of Dzeko, .

    You cannot play 4-4-2 against top sides with Dzeko as one of the ‘2’, he lacks mobility and enterprise. Amazing he got in the squad ahead of Jovetić, who has a much better scoring return per minute played and covers more ground.

    You cannot play 4-4-2 2 with Fernando he lacks mobility, enterprise and skill.

    IMO Kompany and Di Michelis are not as good a pairing as Di Michelis and Mangala, or even Di Michelis and Boyata. Why? Because, Martín’s a better organiser than Vincent. There is no doubting Kompany’s commitment he always gives 100% effort, but he tries to do everything himself. As a consequence his defensive partners often find themselves stranded.

    A 2:0 or 3:1 win at the Nou Camp though unlikely, is not impossible. It will be interesting to see who the intransigent Pellegrini picks for the return?

    I hope the poet Yevtushenko was right when he said "Time has a way of demonstrating that the most stubborn are the most intelligent".





    Analysis of Begiristain's transfer activities, will wait for another day.

    • February 26, 2015  12:04 pm by carole Reply

      Agree with both of you...it's not 442 that's the problem but the personnel asked to implement it. Manuel's philosophy is roughly 'Everyone attacks, everyone defends' - it's bloody hard work, it demands 100% commitment, both mental and physical, and concentration from every single player on the pitch. I don't doubt they've all bought into it by now, but MP seems blind to the fact that some of them sadly lack the ability to implement it no matter how hard they try.
      To use Fernando in CM instead of Fernandhino seemed incomprehensible act of blind faith by the manager. Both lack discipline, but Dhino has blistering pace, can see a forward pass. Maybe MP realises, after his disastrous, confidence-shattering experiences in the WC, that he can no longer cope with the big occasion?
      Agree totally about the CB pairing... De Michelis and Mangala are a far better duo. But maybe the manager hesitated about benching his captain on an occasion like this, it's a terrible dilemma to have.
      Normally I'd agree Dzeko shouldn't be in the 2, he isn't the most likely man to drop into midfield when needed and win the ball back. But he has obviously convinced Pellegrini otherwise with his efforts of late. He put a tremendous shift in against Newcastle, pressing and harrying as well as I've ever seen him..it was impressive stuff.
      Against Barca it's obviously far more difficult, as tough a task as any the team will meet. But we started off well and it was working...until we conceded that 1st goal and lost our cool. We panicked and the manager's instructions went out of the window.
      I can't blame the players too much....yes, they've been playing in the Champions League for several seasons now, but we have no history of success in it, unlike our opponents. We were facing one of the most successful teams on earth, it was an enormous occasion with celebrities from all over the world flying in to the Etihad to witness it. The pressure was all on us....just imagine how that felt.
      As his post-match comments illustrated, Manuel was rightly angry the team hadn't followed his instructions. But his half-time team-talk did the trick, composure was restored, and the same group came out in the 2nd half to play that 442 the way he demanded. It worked....but for poor defending and missed chances, we could have gone on to draw.
      If this match illustrated anything, it is that Yaya is indispensible on an occasion like this. No one can dictate our play, set the tempo,take a free kick,grab a brilliant goal, above all marshal the midfield as well as he does. Players like Silva and Nasri rely on his passing and distribution and play below their capabilities without him. He's unique....at his best there's no one like him in world football today. We should give him anything he wants to keep him at City this coming summer, and hold on to him until we have the balls to outbid the rest for Pogba who is the only one who comes close.

      As for your comment about Jovetic Toby...100% spot on! He's not an out and out striker, but he scores goals and creates chances as well as being far more dynamic than Edin and infinitely more comfortable dropping back into midfield. We were crazy to drop him from the squad and he is rightly aggrieved because I suspect Bony is going to offer nothing if he comes on in the Nou Camp. He looked absolutely lost against Barca and clearly hasn't had time to adjust to his team-mates.
      Having said all that...I honestly think we will do well in the Nou Camp,just as we did against Roma when no one gave us a prayer. There's less pressure away from home, less fear of disappointing a home crowd. With the Yaya, Silva, Nasri, Aguero quartet restored and Lampard in CM with Fernandhino, anything is possible. Even probable!

      • February 26, 2015  12:30 pm by David Walker Reply

        Possible? Probable? A 3-1 win to Super City...sold to the lady who knows what she's on about ;-) Let's see what a marauding Ivorian can do on his old stomping ground, especially if his AFCON winning colleague can adapt and make his mark among a less than solid Barcelona back line.

        It is still a winnable game for City, and by the required margin. WOW - can you imagine how world football would sit up and take note? Thanks again Carole.

    • February 26, 2015  12:10 pm by David Walker Reply

      I wouldn't pretend to be a master tactician - not for a moment - but surrendering the midfield by virtue of weight of numbers, not to mention Barcelona's superior work ethic and speed of thought and deed, was always a plan doomed to failure. As other RBNR readers have commented, it isn't as if MP hasn't deployed different formations in Europe with other clubs and enjoyed success.

      Having now watched the match back on TV we were unfortuante in the manner of the way the first goal was conceded, but being in the stadium on the night it seemed only a matter of time before Suarez struck. Kompany is having a tough time at the moment, perhaps through a combination of fitness issues and the fact he seems far more comfortable in a deeper lying defensive back line.

      Your observations on Demichelis are quite right - the man clearly has a great football brain and bags of experience. Contrast that with Vincent who seems hellbent on doing his own thing and the hell with the consequences. My thoughts on Fernando are well known but overall City are still leaving too much space between defence and midfield - space that is exploited by allowing teams to run at back peddling defenders etc.

      Roll on March 18th and let's go again, this time with the personnel to execute the plan whether it's 4-5-1, 4-4-1-1 or whatever. Cheers TT.

  13. February 26, 2015  12:42 pm by Richard Cooper Reply

    Driving through Moss Side full of optimism I was surprised to hear of the inclusion of Fernando instead of say, Lampard or Fernandiho or both. As it transpired was Fernando any worse than anyone else 'at the back' in that first half carnage ?
    Every time Barca went up the field they looked like scoring - it was a yellow tide and half time couldn't come soon enough.
    Apart from the Barcodes last weekend (who were there for the taking) our defensive deficiences have not been cured. Vinny certainly isn't the cool commanding player of the past two seasons and those around him apart from Demichelis who despite his lack of speed does appear at present to be the best defensive 'organiser'.
    It isn't until YaYa is missing that we realise what an influential player he can be.
    Strange as it is, had we taken at least one more of our chances during the second half that game could have finished 2-2 but how Messi missed that penalty follow up is beyond belief.
    Although we have a 'glimmer of hope' at Barcelona I think we are going for a House Wine Tasting short break, but Mrs C, the eternal optimist tells me it is only half time, and I am not brave enough to contradict !

    • February 26, 2015  6:53 pm by David Walker Reply

      Don't argue with Mrs C - she may well be right ;-)

      We get along fine on here RC, so please don't ask me about my best mate Fernando ;-)

      Bizarre that defence was always our strength under Mancini - clean sheets, Joe's Golden Gloves etc. Maybe MP needs to settle on his best back four and stop the rotation for the rest of the season. Defences benefit from continuity more than any other 'department' in the team.

      If we're on our game we can win in the Nou Camp - big word those two little letters 'IF'. Thanks RC.

  14. February 26, 2015  5:26 pm by pete lynch Reply

    Spot on scribe wizard. We were so naive and inept in the first half im just so thankful we still in this tie. MP and certain members of the playing staff need to raise their game. Also recruitment, bit of a disaster dont u think?!

    • February 26, 2015  6:48 pm by David Walker Reply

      Yes, yes and yes. City will have 'proper' money to spend this summer both from revenue streams and sales (Jovetic, Nastasic, Kolarov, Dzeko (?) FERNANDO - PLEASE) & need to spend a damn sight better than in recent windows. Pogba, Khedira, Reus/Sterling, Barkley/Koke, Clyne, new striker, plus promote - gently mind - Ambrose, Iheanacho to periphery of 1st team squad. Just stay away from Portugal this summer please Txiki!

  15. February 26, 2015  9:51 pm by Stephen Reply

    Great read even if it is an upsetting reminder. Fernando has legs to run about and in a 3 it xould have worked but new partnership with milner in middle was just utter utter madness. I admire the bravado but legs are needed in midfield vs a high pressing passing team and 3 would have done it, esp when fernandinho did well on saturday. Agree with comment also on it being criminal to not sub clichy on a yellow. Up against messi and alves it was a certain red. That lost our momentum as we were getting a foothold. That combined with the starting line up has me so annoyed with MP. Will continue to support as always but severe doubts now. The thought of kolarov vs the same 2 in 2nd leg does not inpire hope. We need a quality lb as the priority signing. That said skipper had another mare and form is really really worrying. Joys of a city fan as ever.

    • February 26, 2015  11:30 pm by David Walker Reply

      Good observations Stephen, but as the dust settles all is not lost. Having watched the match back on Sky we maybe weren't quite as bad as it felt in real time in the Etihad. Win and get through at the Nou Camp isn't as impossible as it may seem. Hell, yes it'll be difficult but we wouldn't be City if we didn't dare to dream the impossible dream.

  16. February 27, 2015  9:11 pm by Stephen Reply

    1st half we were outclassed embarassingly. Not fernando's fault but he and milner do not work as a midfirld 2 (ask middlesboro) but 2nd half we were good. I will support MP for all he has done but he needs to admit (privately) that he was wrong in team selection. We are the PL champions and are capable of winning in barca so fingers crossed but lets burst the pool bubble first as we owe thrm one for anfield last year

    • February 27, 2015  11:23 pm by David Walker Reply

      There can be no excuses for failure at Anfield, we have to show why WE ARE the Champions & Liverpool only thought they were about to become champions. No complacency, but 120 mins in Turkey is far from ideal preparation for Auntie Brenda's bunch.

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