MAN CITY v NEWCASTLE UTD – Toon hoping for lucky 13 against City

The protocol that requires the Premier League programme be postponed to accommodate international fixtures is about as popular as flatulence in a space suit for the majority of fans who follow the fortunes of England’s elite clubs.

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini isn’t much of an advocate either, especially if it means the skipper of his team turns out for his country, having previously missed two months and eight games for his club.

Club versus country debate aside, City will welcome the return of a fit Vincent Kompany to at least consolidate the runners-up slot, with the retention of the PL title now a distant pipedream.

The absence of Captain Colossus Kompany to a debilitating calf injury in late January looks, to all intent and purpose, to have been the catalyst for City’s capitulation in the defence of their champions’ crown.

Just eight points garnered from a potential 18, in the absence of the inspirational Belgian, set the seal on the painful spectacle of seeing Manure surge ahead at the top of the table.

In truth, it is neither Kompany’s absence or the performance of his colleagues in the defence corps that has cost City so dear. The reason why sky blue ribbons will succumb to red on the PL trophy has more to do with what has – or rather hasn’t – been going on at the other end of the field.

An attack boasting Aguero, Balotelli, Dzeko and Tevez last August is 20 goals lighter at this stage of the season than in 2012. By contrast, City’s defence is on course to be the best in the top flight for a third successive season.

Just 26 goals conceded in 29 games and 13 clean sheets to the good, make something of a mockery of Mancini’s assertion that he should have bought a centre back in the January transfer window.

Hindsight, as everyone knows, is a most wonderful thing, but it was an inability to sign Robin Van Persie – when City had initially stolen a march on Slur Baconface in pursuit of the Dutch goal machine – that has been their undoing.

It’s naïve and simplistic to subtract RVP’s goals from United’s haul and add them to City’s. It would, nonetheless, supply a damning indictment on how the fortunes of the Manchester clubs would be polar opposites to that of the painful reality that now befalls the blue half (more like four-fifths) of the city.

But, as the saying goes, ‘We are where we are’ and, for Manchester City that doesn’t have to be where the malevolent Mancini-mauling media would have you believe.

Had it not been for that magical moment at 93.20 minutes of the match against QPR last May, expectations might not have been raised so high. Had the Agueroooooooo goal – now etched indelibly into the psyche of English football – not happened, City would now be sitting pretty to emulate their highest ever PL placing, and contemplating the prospect of a second FA Cup win in three years.

Yes, it hurts that Mancini’s men will not be winning back-to-back titles, but the PL Champions flag will flutter proudly over the Etihad on many occasions in the years to come – of that there should be little doubt.

City will spend – and spend big – this summer with a significant churn of incomings and outgoings. A school of thought exists that, ever mindful of the necessity to comply with UEFA’s flawed Financial Fair Play regulations, City’s hierarchy knowingly ‘undercooked their goose’ by adopting a frugal policy on transfers.

Of course owner, Sheikh Mansour and chairman, Khaldoon El Mubarak did not plan to fail but they took a pragmatic view of one step back to take three steps forward.This has bought time to develop more commercial revenue streams and ultimately get high earning, under achievers off the wage bill.

The prospective departures of Dzeko, Nasri, Kolo, Kolarov, Lescott, Sinclair, Maicon, plus finally jettisoning the final remnants of Mark Hughes’ flawed transfer judgements – Wayne Bridge and Roque Santa Cruz – will generate in excess of £60m in fees to add to the £20m generated from the sale of Mario Balotelli.

Transfer speculation will grow into a crescendo as we move through April and May but, in Txiki Begiristain, City have massively upgraded their negotiating position. The savvy Spaniard replaces Brian Marwood as the key negotiator in player recruitment and he has a hugely impressive track record, evidenced by his success at Barcelona.

City still have the capacity to splash the cash on fees and wages, but no longer have to pay overinflated packages to attract the best of the best. Their new found pedigree and driving ambition now means the top players WILL consider moves to the club on merit.

But before the transfer merry-go-round starts up, City must maintain focus and ensure the season finishes with a bang, not a whimper.

It starts with a need to continue their fantastic record against the visiting Geordies. In the last dozen meetings, City have won ten and drawn two – it had better not be unlucky 13 for Mancini against Alan Pardew’s ‘Barcodes’.

Fit again Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure should start, along with Kompany, as City restore both spine and backbone to the team and, with it, a return to the swagger and enterprise that served them so well in the past.

With Newcastle just six points off the drop zone, the Toon Army will give hearty backing  to try and reverse United’s poor showing on their travels – one win, five draws and nine defeats away from the ‘Citadel’ of St James’ Park – so far this campaign.

With Micah Richards and Maicon the only remaining injury casualties, Mancini has a full strength line up at his disposal. The intense Italian now openly concedes the loss of the title, but the fires still burn within and he recognises the necessity to get back to winning ways after the paucity of performance at Goodison Park a fortnight past.

History will show this season was but a minor blip for City en-route to an era of domination in English football. If ‘blip’ can be defined as a comfortable second spot and a sixth FA Cup triumph, then I for one will happily embrace it.

 

11 Comments

  1. Pingback : MAN CITY v NEWCASTLE UTD – Toon hoping for lucky 13 against City(RBNR) | Quick News

  2. March 30, 2013  7:12 am by carol main Reply

    Blues need to keep their feet on the ground Davy, we arent gonna win every year no matter how much we all want it and in fairness this season we havent deserved it for the most part. Who would have thought a very few years ago that Blues would be moaning about coming second? the giddy heights top half of the table would have given most of us a nose bleed! Still the best club in the world but theres nothing wrong with a little humility.

    • March 30, 2013  7:26 am by David Walker Reply

      Spot on Blondie - captures the essence of the situation. As ever, thanks for commenting x

  3. March 30, 2013  7:15 am by Graham Ward Reply

    I completely endorse your last comment, David. I maybe an exception, but I was quite happy to see Kompany get 90 minutes football this week , to prepare for this game. Hopefully, there's been no reaction (apart from the verbal one in the presser by Mancini!)
    Secure our league position, and, as you comment in the main part of your article, there will be exciting times ahead.

    • March 30, 2013  7:29 am by David Walker Reply

      Cheers Graham. I must admit I took the view that if Vincent was fit then it would be to City's advantage if he gets rid of any rustiness in a Belgian, rather than Manchester City shirt. Let's see if he leads City out today - proof in the proverbial pudding.

  4. March 30, 2013  7:37 am by Alan Baxter Reply

    Personally I think the transfer policy of last summer was flawed, other than Rodwell (whom needs a summer of conditioning). Who amongst the remaining signings would usurp the players established in their positions? Marwood seems to have been "the villain in the piece" and been shifted sideways accordingly. I agree/hope that we will improve the squad and crop the deadwood this summer, and with no International tournament we need to swoop as soon as possible to ensure that any new faces have a full pre-season and are ready to hit the ground running at Wembley for the Community Shield (hopefully). As for today, it will be good to see our Captain return, alongside an increased goal threat with Aguero hopefully playing some part. Keep the faith, and Forza Mancini.

    • March 30, 2013  8:01 am by David Walker Reply

      Not forgetting Nastasic who, in my opinion, has been the best of the lot. Rodwell will become top player - hamstring withstanding - and Garcia will ger better and better. We should see a step up this summer - hopefully the likes of Cavani, Reus, Isco etc and I'd be happy to see Benteke come in as a replacement for Dzeko.

  5. March 30, 2013  9:56 am by rayray6666 Reply

    Well summed up David, spending big is needed if we are to keep up with the southerners. I can't see anything other than a win today with all the injuries they are reporting!
    FORZA MANCINI

    • March 30, 2013  9:10 pm by David Walker Reply

      City will be in much better shape when the new season comes around with a more potent attack, creative midfield and strength in depth in the back line. Bright sky blue horizons beckon.

  6. March 30, 2013  10:07 am by cornishblue Reply

    I think that is one of your best articles to date David. Some great points and stats. I too felt VK playing midweek was a positive. Help him towards match fitness. Buy hey, what do we know.
    The future is bright for City, no matter what the media will have you believe. Very exciting times ahead. In 2008 the thought of top 4 seemed a pipe dream and here we are PL champions, even if only for another couple of months.
    We will soon have it back!

  7. March 30, 2013  9:12 pm by David Walker Reply

    Thanks Cornish - I always appreciate your support on twitter or directly on the website - and I know you know your football and you know your ManchesterCity so I value your feedback and am suitably encouraged that I'm moving in the right direction with my MCFC scribings.

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