MAN CITY v HULL CITY – City to earn stripes against Tigers

On the basis that one swallow doesn’t make a summer then one bluebird flying high, shouldn’t mean a long, cold winter lies ahead for Manchester City.

Yes, the defeat at Cardiff City was unexpected – some would argue unacceptable – but the knee-jerk over reaction by the twitchy naysayers among City’s support is equally unpalatable.

The more shallow among the sky blue brethren went into social media meltdown in the wake of the shock 3-2 defeat. Of course, everybody is entitled to an opinion but why so much bile and vitriol towards tried, tested and, in my eyes, trusted City campaigners?

A cacophony of criticism was excreted from poisonous pundits and reactionary City fans over one of the world’s finest goalkeepers – Joe Hart. Yes, City’s brilliant 26-year old keeper, had an off-day, but even then he pulled off two fine stops that would have seen City concede twice before Fraizer Campbell scored with a brace of unchallenged headers.

Yellow in peril? - Joe Hart is City and England's number one goalkeeper - long may it remain so

Yellow in peril? – Joe Hart is City and England’s number one goalkeeper – long may it remain so

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but how was Manuel Pellegrini supposed to know that City’s much loved Player of the Season 2012/13, Pablo Zabaleta, would have perhaps his worst game in all his 196 appearances for the club?

Likewise, how do you legislate for stalwarts such as Yaya Toure and David Silva losing possession in such slipshod fashion and with such alarming regularity?

Joleon Lescott and Javi Garcia looked as secure as a set of Frank Spencer-erected shelves (for those under the age of 40 ask your parents!) at the heart of City’s dilapidated defence.

Stick or switch - Joleon Lescott's City future is in the balance but Gareth Barry is heading for the exit

Stick or switch – Joleon Lescott’s City future is in the balance but Gareth Barry is heading for the exit

City underperformed just about everywhere so this was a collective cock-up, not one where individual players deserved to be pilloried.

There’s no ‘i’ in team but there sure as hell is in City and everybody – players, manager and coaching staff need to stand up and be counted. After all, a season of 37 wins and just one defeat deserves a standing ovation (ok – perhaps a tad optimistic).

The fact is a City side, adapting to a new manager’s dictate e.g. man-marking not zonal marking, playing a very high defensive line and bedding in new players and systems will inevitably take time in competitive matches.

Monday night’s Manure and Chelski stalemate was a good result given what had gone down in the Dragon’s Den in the Welsh capital, and showed City have nothing to fear other than their own incompetence.

Saturday’s combination of the Tigers led by the Elephant Man, keeps City’s zoological opening to the season going and, with a lunchtime kick-off, City have to get back to feasting on any prey that presents itself at the Etihad carvery.

Hart must start because he is a class act and will more than redeem the occasional gaffe over the course of a season. It’s to be hoped Matija Nastasic is properly fit to play and not press ganged if not fully recovered from his ankle injury. Pellegrini has said the young Serb is ready to play – let’s hope so.

Micah Richards will once again be missing – for one so robust he is incredibly fragile and susceptible to debilitating knocks, pulls and tears. A real asset to City with his power, speed and aerial ability, it counts for nothing if he’s vying to have the Roque Santa Cruz Rest Area renamed Richard’s Retreat.

Pellegrini will undoubtedly be splashing the cash before Monday’s 23.00 transfer window deadline on defensive reinforcements, but City may as well play Mollie Zaba – my cockapoo puppy – at centre back, rather than Javi Garcia.

A more sensible approach would be to play the once prodigious Dedryk Boyata alongside Joleon Lescott for a balanced left foot and right foot combination, IF – and it’s a big if, Nastasic does not start for whatever reason.

Once a rising star, the young Belgian defender’s stock plummeted during an ignominious season with a relegated Bolton side, before being sent back early from a loan spell with FC Twente in the Netherlands.

That said, Boyata, featured in the Audi Cup Final against Bayern Munich and looked every inch the starlet who stepped up in the early days of Roberto Mancini’s reign.

Midfield powerhouse - Fernandinho should be a massive asset in City's engine room

Midfield powerhouse – Fernandinho should be a massive asset in City’s engine room

The defensive discombobulations of last Sunday apart, the lack of fight within the City team was most disconcerting. Yaya and Fernandinho ought to be a power-packed, piston-pumping, high performing partnership, creating and destroying in equal measure.

But what did we get – pathetic passing and a powder-puff impact on the midfield play.

Whereas there was always an air of vulnerability in a defence shorn of Kompany and Nastasic, there was nothing to suggest City’s newly rejuvenated attacking prowess would be so easily blunted by a pretty ordinary looking Cardiff backline.

Granted, Edin Dzeko scored a cracking 30 yard drive, but he continues to underwhelm on a consistent basis. Yes, the big Bosnian will score goals but at what ratio in relation to genuine chances and attempts?

Unleash the Beast - Alvaro Negredo is already to go and tame the Tigers

Unleash the Beast – Alvaro Negredo is already to go and tame the Tigers

A Dzeko-Aguero strike duo was never seen as the best under Mancini, with Tevez and Balotelli as options, and perhaps it’s time to unleash the Beast and get Alvaro Negredo firing from the off.

He has more natural aggression than Dzeko and has already shown he knows his way to the back of the net with a stunning pre-season goal against a top drawer Bayern Munich, a looping header in South Wales and an incorrectly disallowed knock-in against Newcastle.

Whether Stevan Jovetic will have recovered to even be considered for the subs bench remains to be seen, but with Silva, Navas, Nasri and Milner all fighting to support Sergio – surely he will be selected – City should be back to winning ways. 

In the past two seasons City have become accustomed to not losing a Premier League game until December – to lose twice before September would be alarming in the extreme.



This report is dedicated to the memory of my Dad – Joseph Colin Walker – the best father any child could ever have. He died this day, 17 years ago and not a day goes by when I don’t miss him or wish I could have been taken in his place.

Never really into football he preferred brass bands and military history. He took me to my first ever match – Crystal Palace away in August 1970 with Alan Oakes scoring the winner.

Once, having taken me to Highbury to see City against Arsenal, he was asked who played the best? He replied ‘The Metropolitan Police Brass Band, during the half-time interval…’

Rest in peace Pa…one day – maybe, just maybe,  I’ll see you in Sky Blue Heaven…



By David Walker



  1. August 30, 2013  8:30 pm by Grant Mills Reply

    Great shout again.
    Last week was simply not good enough no matter the excuses given. As you correctly point out the team need to stand up and be counted tomorrow.
    IMO Dzeko's had his chance. Not good enough I'm afraid. Gives the ball away too often under minimal pressure causing flowing moves to come to nothing.
    Hopefully Negredo will get the nod. I'd like to see Jovetic too. Saying all that I'm working tomorrow so won't get to see any of it!

  2. August 30, 2013  8:46 pm by David Walker Reply

    And gone are the days when you could get through the day without knowing the score so you can watch in blissful ignorance and anticipation. Cheers GM

  3. August 30, 2013  9:46 pm by Doug Reply

    Nice piece about your Dad Dave he would im sure be proud of his lad.For me Cardiff shouldn't have happened we are better than that. Hope the guys responded on Sat & the real city turns up. MP should give Negredo a start he looks the part to me. He needs to keep Navas out wide & not keep coming inside he will cause hull some problems.

    • August 30, 2013  11:29 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Doug - I'm not a patch on my Dad - what a beautiful, kind, considerate, talented, modest man he was. If I could be half the man I'd be doing well. We'll beat Hull - Jesus we'd better...Alvaro we'd better...Sergio we'd better - you can see what I've done there can't you!
      Sincerely - thank you.

  4. August 30, 2013  10:03 pm by Andy Devereux Reply

    Great read David....again!! Lovely tribute to your dad aswell.Had a few rows on sunday on the old twitter with some of the knee jerk brigade they really do need to keep calm.As you say mate sure tomorrow will bring a much improved performance against Hull City FC........i refuse to call them Tigers..........Tigers my arse!! #TrustOurMP

    • August 30, 2013  11:37 pm by David Walker Reply

      Cheers Andy - I'll have you know I do a rather good Tigger (with 2 g's) impersonation! If I ever hit it big time with we could do a Tigger Tribute VT for the website - well that's put an end to my career at City before it even started!

      Like you I had some twitter twatter from some very humourless sky blue brethren who don't comprehend irony, sarcasm or simply what passes as humour in my world. That said, it'd be boring if we all agreed with each other all of the time. I'm not fluffing it or sitting on any fences - not on RBNR anyway - it's my website and I'll do what I want - yes I will!

      Thanks buddy.

  5. August 30, 2013  10:23 pm by Ian Barton Reply

    As ever a fair critique of last Sunday, if we learn from it and stop these carbon copy loses against lesser sides it may have been a blessing in disguise. Can empathise with your thoughts on your Dad having had a similar experience, God bless them

  6. August 30, 2013  10:36 pm by Mole Rocks Reply


    A beautiful picture woven by your prose as always.

    Come on MP, Negredo is the man to partner the baby faced assassin.

    Regards... Carl


    • August 30, 2013  11:53 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks for these and your superb comments on twitter...and because of that I will forgive you, once again, for messing with my hashtag you crazy fool! Cheers Carl #bigappreciation


  7. August 30, 2013  11:39 pm by David Walker Reply

    Ian you are sage like in many ways and I always enjoy our conversations be they verbal, texts or tweets. Thanks for reading, commenting and empathising. Hope to catch up at the Etihad - M6 permitting.

  8. August 31, 2013  8:35 am by Graham Ward Reply

    Good points made, David. Hopefully the City of the opening fixture will be on display today, and I think it will. 4-0.

    • August 31, 2013  8:52 am by David Walker Reply

      That'll do as a 28th wedding anniversary present for me and Mrs W!

  9. August 31, 2013  9:37 am by susan richardson Reply

    I agree with Ian the 'devastating' loss in Wales is a monkey of our back and it was good entertainment unlike the mogadon match at the swamp. It was a bad team display so let's hope they take heed and stuff Hull today. CL draw should give them incentive! I beat you in anniversary stakes it was 39 years exactly to the day on Thursday and I think we long married types are becoming a rarity. Have a wonderful day. Hope our Children pay such moving tributes to us!

    • August 31, 2013  10:36 am by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Susan - so it's Ruby Friday next year - mutual congratulations x

  10. August 31, 2013  9:58 am by carol Reply

    making a point of not going on twitter after after games Davy, they're getting on my nerves. So we had a bad game so what? I frequently suck at my job and nobody gives a rats arse! .....and breathe Carol...You are, as ever the voice of reason Davy, thank you xx

    • August 31, 2013  10:39 am by David Walker Reply

      Good idea Blondie - I'm sure you're excellent at your job ALL the time x

      Thanks as ever for your comments & taking the time & effort x

  11. August 31, 2013  10:12 am by AB Reply

    Great article as ever. Just a few of my thoughts on defending corners. Firstly marking or zonal is not the main issue in eyes - I am more concerned in the number of players we have back to defend. I would prefer for us to leave 2 players on the halfway line, and fast players in that. From current team probably Augero and Navas. Most opposition will leave 3 players back to mark them. The effect of this is two fold. 4 less players in the box, so giving our keeper a better chance to get to the ball and secondly the opportunity for a quick break. Thoughts anyone??

    • September 4, 2013  11:12 pm by David Walker Reply

      Whole-heartedly endorse your thinking!

      Tactical update for Mr Pellegrini...I SAID TACTICAL UPDATE FOR MR PELLEGRINI...

  12. August 31, 2013  11:05 am by carole Reply

    Superb piece as always David! Sorry have only just read got lost on my busy TL, haha. I actually thought we played very well in the first 50 minutes against Cardiff...lovely patient football!
    Your comments about your Dad brought tears to my eyes, lost mine 10 years ago but he's forever in my thoughts. Took me Maine Road when I was 10..and occasionally OT...he'd go to City one week and United the next ( which wasn't unusual then) but he was a Blue at heart.!! Cheers carole x

    • September 4, 2013  11:10 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks for your kind words, 'father-talk' and for supporting RBNR both here and on Twitter.

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