As the smoke palls lift on the Bayern blitzkrieg – delivered with frightening ferocity and infinite finesse in equal measure – a battle bruised and Champions League chastened  Manchester City need to re-group and heed the lessons of their Munich mauling.

It’s been a while since City were rendered so impotent as was witnessed by a packed Etihad Stadium on Wednesday evening, but as has so often been said, a team can learn more about itself in defeat than in victory.

The freakish reversal at Villa Park aside, City had come into this clash with the Teutonic Titans, with high hopes of defeating the reigning European Champions.

High hopes - City thought they could beat Bayern...they were wrong

High hopes – City thought they could beat Bayern…they were wrong

After all, City were now under the stewardship of a CL savvy manager in Manuel Pellegrini, their ranks were swelled with a quartet of high-achieving summer signings, they held home advantage and were buoyed by a stoical performance, albeit in slender defeat, when a patchwork City had taken a Bayern side boasting nine of their CL winning team, to the wire in the Allianz Arena’s pre-season Audi Cup Final.

They’d taken the Bavarian aristocrats down 2-0 when they last clashed in the group stage of the CL in 2011, so why not? Deutschland uber alles no more!

Flawed - City's Joe Hart and team mates were down & out as Robben celebrates Bayern's thrid goal

Flawed – City’s Joe Hart and team mates were down & out as Robben celebrates Bayern’s thrid goal

How wrong could you be? The 1-3 scoreline bears not a hint of the total superiority and dominance of the Munchen Machine who masticated on the Manchester wannabees before spitting them out with ruthless disdain.

This was a football master class delivered with precision, poise and purpose. If we switch from the educational metaphor into the surgical field, City were sliced and diced – not quite death by a thousand cuts – but definitely paralysis by 690 passes.

The first incisions were sharp and excruciatingly painful, they drew blood causing tenderness leaving the victim with inflamed wounds, raw, throbbing gaping tears to the flesh, agonizing and harrowing.

As the assault continued the pain, somewhat perversely, dissipated, giving way to a surreal numbness and then a conscious realisation that all was lost, the hurt succumbing to a reluctant admiration for the assailant.

Sitting MP - Pellegrini will steer City through Group D and keep them on track in the Premier League

Sitting MP – Pellegrini will steer City through Group D and keep them on track in the Premier League

A clearly shell-shocked Manuel Pellegrini, in the aftermath of a stunning defeat, said his team, with a face transfer value of £193m, had been ‘…really bad…’

Not an overly sophisticated or technical analysis – it didn’t need to be. Even the most visually impaired, deaf and dumbstruck individual would have sensed the utter futility of offering any positive scraps from the remnants of the evening.

If City were a tradesman it was as if they’d turned up for work minus their toolbox, worse still, they even forgotten their packed lunch and flask of tea.

The only perforations on show were the gaping holes that riddled the team’s performance from front to back and back to front, from Hart to Aguero and everyone in between.

To play football you obviously need a team – preferably a good calibre team – and, to all intent and purposes, Manchester has just that. The Sky Blues have players who are the envy of the overwhelming majority of clubs sides throughout the world.

However you also require another vital component …a ball.

Bayern had no requirement of a single player in blue but an abundance of the spherical object that City yearned for and chased after all night long.

As inquests go, it isn’t so much about the shortcomings of City, rather the celebration of Bayern’s breathtaking craftsmanship when in possession of the ball, but equally as important, what they did on the rare occasions they weren’t.

With the peerless Pep Guardiola at the helm, Bayern have adopted the work ethic of Guardiola’s previous employer, Barcelona, in closing down opponents, harrying them into mistakes, minimising the time they have with the ball and the ability to inflict any damage.

Munich’s speed of thought and deed, fitness levels and unerring ability to find space was mind blowing.

As a master tactician Guardiola brings a fabulous fluidity to his teams, fast moving, players constantly interchanging positions totally non conventional.

Pellegrini is no slouch in the strategy department but his record of 1 draw and nine defeats against Pep says it all, and yet Guardiola is fulsome in his praise and admiration of the Chilean. This needs to be born in mind in the aftermath of  City’s capitulation – Pellegrini IS A CLASS ACT – so woe betide those demanding any managerial change.

Simply the best - Franck Ribery is a vital element in the best club side in the world

Simply the best – Franck Ribery is a vital element in the best club side in the world

The simple truth is Bayern are the best club team in the world – possibly THE best team in the world, capable of beating the likes of Spain, Brazil and Germany if such a notion could ever be a reality.

In terms of football pedigree, City are not in Bayern’s league either past or present but let’s not write off the future. Of course there’s a distance to go but who’s to say that, given time, City won’t take their place at European football’s top table?

City’s supporters accorded generous recognition to two of their team’s principal tormentors when substituted, with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Arjen Robben warmly applauded. Not so with Franck Ribery, scorer of Bayern’s first goal with a 25 yard strike that Hart should have saved.

The European Footballer of the Year was booed off after his provocative goal celebrations towards the home fans.

Mullered! - Bayern's Thomas Muller exposes a huge gap in City defence to make it 2-0

Mullered! – Bayern’s Thomas Muller exposes a huge gap in City defence to make it 2-0

City were light at the back when ‘mullered’ by Thomas Muller for Bayern’s second goal on 56 minutes. The cultured German rounded Hart after a long ball from Dante found City’s defence ‘out to lunch’ with Clichy clueless.

Fernandinho was dispossessed in midfield four minutes later as Robben raced forward. The flying Dutchman turned Nastasic inside out, before crashing the ball past Hart at the England goalkeeper’s near post.

It was a rout with the potential to become a total humiliation.

Too little too late - Negredo's super strike was in vain as the 1-3 score line flattered City

Too little too late – Negredo’s super strike was in vain as the 1-3 score line flattered City

Substitutes David Silva and Alvaro Negredo combined to bring a falsification of respectability to the score when the Beast of Sevilla executed superbly following an exquisite pass from the silky Silva.

With four minutes of normal time remaining Yaya Toure broke through the Munich defence only to be unceremoniously hauled down by ex-City defender Jerome Boateng. The German centre back saw red but the chance for what would surely have been a second goal for the beleaguered Blues had gone.

Yaya denied - Boateng sees red after hauling Toure down and denying City a second goal

Yaya denied – Boateng sees red after hauling Toure down and denying City a second goal

Silva’s free kick beat Manuel Neuer – probably the best keeper in the world – but alas, not the crossbar.

Negredo’s looping header also had Neuer beaten but it went a fraction wide. It was inconceivable that City could have stolen a point at 3-3 but it could have happened. It would have been a travesty nonetheless.

In terms of the UCL Group D table, City now sit second ahead of CSKA Moscow on goal difference. The Muscovites managed a laboured and somewhat fortuitous 3-2 win over Plzen, so City can muster maximum points from their two fixtures with the Russians or, at the very least, four.

Two wins over CSKA would see City as good as qualified by Bonfire night on November 5th. Surely they will beat Plzen at home and render the return match with Munich academic – thank God.

Champions League progress - despite the Munich mauling City are set to reach the knockout stages

Champions League progress – despite the Munich mauling City are set to reach the knockout stages

For Pellegrini it will signal tangible progress in the CL and, as Guardiola has said, City could become very tough opponents in the knockout stages.

Perhaps more importantly it would then give City three months to focus fully on the rigours of the Premier League. The PL looks wide open at the moment but, as Pellegrini gets to grips with City’s away form and adopts a more settled back line, so results should improve.

City can win the PL this season – no doubt. With the likes of Bayern Munich and perhaps two or three others barring City’s road to Lisbon for the CL final, the PL has to be Pellegrini’s priority.

Progression in the CL is a must and will happen, but any ambitions of winning the competition this season are purely for the delusional.

Domestically it doesn’t help that it’s Everton – City’s nemesis of the modern era – next up at the Etihad. Selection wise, does Pellegrini persist with Joe Hart, who had a horrible night on Wednesday, and Matija Nastasic, who has been woefully short of the form he showed in his debut season?

All will be revealed in due course but if Everton’s unhealthy hex on City were to continue it would give the Pellegrini doubters and detractors with more ammunition.

Now is a time for cool heads and an appreciation that City will play opponents of Bayern’s quality once in a blue moon.



By David Walker


















  1. October 4, 2013  11:23 am by Eileen Fullen Reply

    Pains me to agree with every single word you have written with such honesty.
    Excellence in the written words must now be executed on the pitch at the Etihad on Saturday.

    • October 4, 2013  4:20 pm by DAVID WALKER Reply

      Thanks Eileen - believe me, it pains me to write it!

  2. October 4, 2013  11:24 am by Graham Ward Reply

    It goes against the grain, as I have no love for Bayern as a club, but this was the best European club side on display on Wednesday. Putting aside my City colours, it was a joy to watch. Surely they will add the World Club Championship to their list of trophies shortly? It will take a very good side to stop them.
    Negredo scored a lovely goal, and Silva was unlucky on his welcome return with the free kick effort that hit the bar. This dismantling of our side showed that the PL must be the focus, and progression to the knock out stages of the CL would be deemed acceptable. We do have to overcome CSKA first. We'll see.

    • October 4, 2013  4:23 pm by DAVID WALKER Reply

      Agree with your synopsis Graham - CL QF or even SF would be a very creditable take on ther season and will ensure we make it into Pot 2 of the seeds next season - always assuming we are a top four PL finisher. Realistically, if we can sew up Group qualification by November 5th we can really get going with the PL fireworks without distraction for 3 months or more.

  3. October 4, 2013  12:28 pm by carol main Reply

    We looked terrified, Joe had a mare, Robben is an arrogant bastard (I hated him before I read his comments after the game grrr) the only comfort that I can take is that Ribery is and ugly git and as Schweinsteiger was taken off (presumably to polish his pickelhaube) I mused that he wouldn't look out of place in an SS mac! A childish and girlie perspective no doubt but there we have it

    • October 4, 2013  4:24 pm by DAVID WALKER Reply

      Childish and girlie are always welcome at RBNR - thanks for taking the time to comment.

  4. October 4, 2013  12:30 pm by Alan Baxter Reply

    Painful to read such an uncompromising, honest appraisal but again you write what we see. We witnessed a lesson in possession football and also the entire Bayern team were committed to harrying and tackling from front to back, giving us no time to dwell on the ball whatsoever, this seemed to lead to a mentality of "get rid before I'm tackled" and the passing statistics reflect this. We know that City are heading in the right direction (City Youth 6-0 Bayern Youth being an example). At times like this we should remember where we've come from, where we're at and now we have an aspiration of where we want to be. MP must get the players lifted, some looked shell shocked at full time on Wednesday, concentrate on the job in hand against Everton and then West Ham & Chelsea both away in the league. Our position in both the PL and ECL table come our next home game on November 2nd will, I think, determine our expectations for this season.

    • October 4, 2013  4:27 pm by DAVID WALKER Reply

      Agree with that Alan. I am optimistic that by close of play on November 5th we will be all but qualified for the CL knockout stages and will have registered a couple of nice away wins and stuffed the Canaries. Cheers Thistle!

  5. October 4, 2013  1:02 pm by ant walton Reply

    Great read as always. The first goal although it looked like Harts fault, was more difficult that many think. It had pace and power and dipped right at the last minute. Harty got a good hand to it, but the pace was too much. The fact the shot got away is more of a worry. not one City player closed down. Hart was at fault for Robbens goal. Rule 1, never get beat at your near post, but perhaps the 1st goal had hit his confidence a little. Yes his form hasnt been great, but theres been way too much bad press. Theres 11 players out there!! ( fully paid up member of the keepers union!!! ) Speaking of which, how Dzecko gets the nod in front of Negrado is a mystery even the kids of Scooby Do would struggle to solve.
    Huge test on saturday, with Everton playing very well. Still baffled by the cries of Pellegrini out. When did we become Chelsea ??? TRUST OUR MP !

    • October 4, 2013  4:33 pm by DAVID WALKER Reply

      I am a mahussive advocate of Joe but I hold him accountable for the first goal more so than the third. Robben could have gone either side of him for the third, whereas Joe had full sight of Ribery's shot. Agreed, the defending was slipshod and as good as Bayern were, we didn't exactly help our cause. It infuriated me when Bayern went on the counter our players were jogging back to their defensive positions - don't they know what a bloody sprint looks like?

      Big game tomorrow - Everton are normally good for at least a draw at the Etihad, so it would be a big morale booster if we could break with tradition and actually beat the buggers! If the City players can't conjure up the mental strength and physical effort to do the day job then the hell with them!

  6. October 4, 2013  7:13 pm by Big Fat Ron Reply

    Usual overwritten rubbish. Tip - cut down on the superfluous adjectives and get to the point. It's all sparky window dressing - a sure sign you have nothing of any insight or value to say.

    • October 4, 2013  7:21 pm by David Walker Reply

      Cheers Big Fat Ron - I'm getting to know that I can always rely on your stunningly constructive insight and guidance. Oh sorry, this reply contains two adjectives...damn!

  7. October 4, 2013  7:51 pm by Simon Dear Reply

    Put perfectly and summed up the feeling of the fans on a torrid night ... But Iam still left scratching my head as to why MP did not change things at half time after we were passed into submission in the first 45 and were lucky to get nil , we were just one down and maybe he thought we couldn't play that badly again in the second 45 but for me he had to see the painfully obvious that Yaya and Fernandiho were exposed in the centre of the park were chasing shadows and we were missing the quick feet and speed of thought to put them on the back foot , Navas was isolated and Nasri was having a poor game. ( his first of the season by the way ) . Bayern did not let Hart throw the ball out and made him go long everytime , this was the route of the problems on the night not helped by Harts current form ( I did say the other week to give him a rest )
    Ok we may have still lost convincingly but it worries me that he did not change the formation until we were 3 down dead and buried . I was disappointed that MP had no plan B with all that talent at his disposal ( often said of our
    previous manager ) . Yes Bayern were a pleasure to watch for the footballing purists but we also contributed to our own downfall, and made an excellent team look like gods of football ... which they are not .

    • October 4, 2013  8:40 pm by David Walker Reply

      Who knows, on a different day with a different approach we could have given them a closer game? It was only 18 months ago that a Chelsea team who couldn't make the top four of the PL managed to stifle the life out of Bayern. We didn't help ourselves and yes, it was a worry that MP seemed clueless what to do, but I for one will keep faith with him. He is tried and tested and, let's face it, he's only been with City for the proverbial five minutes.

  8. October 4, 2013  7:52 pm by Big Fat Ron Reply

    "I'm biased" - true.
    "But not blind to reality" - false.

    • October 4, 2013  8:42 pm by David Walker Reply

      For saying I produce such appalling drivel you do seem to be hanging around RBNR for what seems like an unhealthy long period of time. It's Friday night BFR - surely you'll be out with all your friends having a jolly time?

  9. October 4, 2013  8:51 pm by Mole Rocks Reply

    I had the dubious pleasure of listening to the game on the the radio.

    Bayern played the tactics City wanted to, but were unable to.

    City improved after the introduction of Milner, Silva and Negredo, so hopefully they'll be in the starting 11 tomorrow.

    Yes, City had their arse spanked by the dominant European champions, however as you eluded to, a footballing lesson sometimes needs to be learnt.

    Keep the faith, because at the end of the day, it's all we have :-)

    • October 4, 2013  9:27 pm by David Walker Reply

      We'll have a darn sight more good days than bad in the coming weeks,months and years so let's be happy that we are vying with Europe's finest. On this occasion we came unstuck, but it won't always be that way.Silva, Negredo and Milner made a difference and could all figure in tomorrow's starting XI.

  10. October 4, 2013  9:23 pm by DOUGLAS HENSHAW Reply

    Unfortunately I cant disagree with anything you have said we were beaten by the best team possible in the worl. As a blue I was heart broken watching my beloved blues torn apart but I had to marvel at the way Bayern went about there business. What I dont understand is way MP didnt try to change things it was obvious to me after 15 min it wasnt working for us. All the team & the coaching staff must accept it was a very poor performance. Joe Hart has taken a lot of flack but I felt he was at fault for the goals. I think its time to take him out of the firing line for a while his confidence looks to have taken a pounding.Lastly surely MP has got to start games with Negredo against Newcastle he was a man reborn but he has sadly gone backwards.I take no pleasure in the things I have said but im a blue that wears his heart on sleeve.

    • October 4, 2013  10:56 pm by David Walker Reply

      Heartfelt feedback - cheers fellow blue.

  11. October 4, 2013  10:23 pm by DOUGLAS HENSHAW Reply

    Sorry Dave that last bit should said Negredo got to start ahead of Dezko who against Newcastle was like a a man reborn but since has sadly gone backwards.

  12. October 4, 2013  10:57 pm by David Walker Reply

    Yes, as it stand it's the Beast over the Bosnian each and every time.

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