Manuel who? – CRYSTAL PALACE v MAN CITY

What, with the demise of  that ‘decent man’ David Moyes, preparations for Queen Brenda’s coronation and the onset of the ‘Giggs Era’, it’s little wonder that a team who could yet be the champions of England have been absent from the scrutiny of the impartial football media.

Invisible man - Manuel has been shunted out of the limelight by Messrs Moyes, Giggs, Rodgers & Mourinho.  Courtesy @MCFC

Invisible man – Manuel has been shunted out of the limelight by Messrs Moyes, Giggs, Rodgers & Mourinho. Courtesy @MCFC

Granted, by Sunday evening I could be fully certified and carted off to the nearest sanatorium but, as things stand, if Jose Mourinho’s Under-15s can beat every commentator’s most loved up team at Anfield, there could still be a title race to be run.

Even if Liverpool beat Chelsea, the overwhelming title favourites will have to wait a little longer provided Manchester City can recapture the winning habit all the way through to May 11th.

Call it pessimistic, pragmatic or just plain realistic but it’s going to take a major shock for City to regain control of their Premier League destiny – no sh*t Sherlock – but it’s not inconceivable.

Initiative. Sergio needs to help put City on the front foot at Palace. Courtesy @MCFC

Initiative – Sergio needs to help put City on the front foot at Palace. Courtesy @MCFC

All Manuel Pellegrini can do is honour his words of recent days and try to continue his simple football philosophy, that of trying to win every game. Not an easy task considering the next two fixtures.

Tony Pulis, a man who is mercilessly ribbed for his sartorial elegance as an advertisement for his employer’s shop (whether it’s Gillingham, Stoke or now Palace) would love nothing more than to give City a right dressing down.

Admired, for what is admittedly a tremendous achievement in turning Palace’s season around with mid-table salvation, Pulis detests City. Let’s face it we have screwed up his CV over the years and he wants payback.

Stay ahead - Javi Garcia has emerged as a key player as City strive to keep their title challenge alive. Courtesy @MCFC

Stay ahead – Javi Garcia has emerged as a key player as City strive to keep their title challenge alive. Courtesy @MCFC

Pellegrini, shorn of the genius of Silva and speed of Navas, will do well to take all three points at Selhurst Park with Palace on a five-game winning streak, but nothing else will suffice.

The potential return of Yaya Toure should be a colossal comfort, provided of course that, in the words of Noel Gallagher, the Ivorian giant doesn’t have one of those days where he ‘…turns up with a deck chair and an iPad and sets up in the centre circle…’ uninterested in the objective of the day.

Nominated for the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year Award, Yaya has plundered 22 goals from midfield this season. He is one of the finest players ever to have sky blue adorn his chest and already an iconic figure in City’s history.

Big influence - A returning Yaya could bring Crystal Palace to their knees. Courtesy @MCFC

Big influence – A returning Yaya could bring Crystal Palace to their knees. Courtesy @MCFC

Yaya has recently been complaining that he doesn’t receive the recognition he deserves as a world class player, because he’s African. He claims if he were European or a South American he would be more appropriately lauded.

All City fans know is that if the big man is on his game then City have every chance, every expectation, of maximum points.

Pulis will be going for a record sixth consecutive win for Palace in the top flight.  He knows the key to success is blanking City and making it five clean sheets from the last half-a-dozen games. The fiery Welshman is reputed to be on a £1m bonus if Palace survive the drop, so it’s already mission accomplished – great news for the Crystal Palace retail department.

Feeding time - The Beast needs to feast sooner rather than later. Courtesy @MCFC

Feeding time – The Beast needs to feast sooner rather than later. Courtesy @MCFC

Palace are the division’s second lowest scorers at home, with just 15. Aguero, Negredo, Dzeko, Jovetic, Nasri…whoever is selected, needs to put the hosts on the back foot and get City in front as soon as possible and quieten one of the most vociferous crowds in the PL.

If the likes of Jason Puncheon are given time and space by a leaky City defence it could prove hazardous in the extreme. Having previously gone nearly nine hours without conceding, Joe Hart has had to retrieve the ball from his net eight times in the last five games.

Palace, along with Liverpool, are the PL’s form teams, and a fixture which looked like a ‘gimmee’ last July is far from it now.

Missing - David Silva's potentially PL season ending injury is a massive blow to City. Courtesy @MCFC

Missing – David Silva’s potentially PL season ending injury is a massive blow to City. Courtesy @MCFC

If it proves as tough an obstacle as is envisaged, but is ultimately overcome by City, then hope springs eternal, with Liverpool next up into the atmospheric cauldron in South East London.

Who knows, if City are on a roll as they head towards one of their most unhappy of hunting grounds – Goodison Park – and Everton are well off the pace for 4th place, could the Toffees entertain the possibility of helping deprive  Liverpool of their first PL title?

It’s a fanciful notion and, more than likely that’s all it will ever be, but back-to-back away wins would set Pellegrini’s team up for a barnstorming season finale with home fixtures against Aston Villa and West Ham.

Take command - Kompany and his defensive colleagues need to tighten up the backline. Courtesy @MCFC

Take command – Kompany and his defensive colleagues need to tighten up the backline. Courtesy @MCFC

Comparisons with 2012, and City’s seemingly hopeless pursuit of Manure are inevitable, only this time it’s harder, much harder. Even so it was with just four games to go that Roberto Mancini regained control in that memorable title run-in.

Having lost just one of their last 10 PL games – the controversial 3-2 defeat to Liverpool – City should have the confidence and the conviction to go and do what needs to be done.

It’ll be an examination of City’s collective resolve and will reveal whether or not, for all the talent within their ranks, the sky blues have the bottle to keep on battling.

Passion personified - Zaba and City need to be up for a combative Crystal Palace. Courtesy @MCFC

Passion personified – Zaba and City need to be up for a combative Crystal Palace. Courtesy @MCFC

The 2,500 travelling fans will sing loud and proud about how City ‘…fight ‘till the end…’ so let’s ensure nothing is concluded tomorrow in respect of the title.

Who knows, if it turns out to be a Blue Sunday – sky and royal – City might even warrant some positive media coverage, albeit given begrudgingly.

  

#TrustOurMP

By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com

@djwskyblu

16 Comments

  1. April 26, 2014  10:58 pm by Fifthcolumnblue Reply

    Be interesting to see what sort of performance the referee puts in at Selhurst park tomorrow, particularly if Chelsea can beat the dippers.

    FWIW, I think Moaning Maureen the Drama Queen is just playing the media with his "weakened team" comments. If he loses, he can claim he rested players for the CL, if he wins, his narcissistic streak will be satisfied with the media adulation that the little horse beat liverpool short handed.

    Jose has too big an ego to simply throw in the towel on the league, and his team will give the game a jolly good go.

    Hope City follow suit whatever the result at Anfield

    • April 26, 2014  11:57 pm by David Walker Reply

      Cheers No 5 - I think we've Howard the Red officiating - deep joy!

  2. April 27, 2014  12:18 am by Graham Ward Reply

    I just hope we can continue to keep the season alive for at least one further week. I've said before that I think Palace will give us a tougher game than they will against Liverpool.
    If they've only scored 15 at home, then that gives us a chance, but, equally, they've not conceded many recently, so the pointers to the game's conclusion are there. Just hope we get good news going into the game, and we edge it!

    • April 27, 2014  12:21 am by David Walker Reply

      That would be rather splendid wouldn't it?

  3. April 27, 2014  7:12 am by James HouseOlogy Reply

    Great piece David, do you think Jose would rather help Liverpool's cause rather than City? For one it'll be amazing beyond belief if City pull this off and even more so to give these so called biased pundits whom have all played for Pool, even Redknapp is getting on my wick now. This will be there season, but I think we can push them to the end, not over yet and i can take comfort in that next season a fully fit City squad will be the team to beat...

    • April 27, 2014  9:24 am by David Walker Reply

      We can't expect any favours from anybody - we don't appear to have any 'friends' in football - everybody has the green eye. I think Jose would rather Rodgers win it as one of his former protégés. Maureen has this strange dislike for MP.

      Agreed - if Sergio & VK had played in maybe half a dozen of the games missed it could have made all the difference.

      Summer transfer window is critical but grounds for optimism next season.

  4. April 27, 2014  7:22 am by Pete Lynch Reply

    I really dont want to be dwelling on if's and but's come end of season. Smash palace, Maureen smash Liverpool(his ego demands it) and here we go!!!!

    • April 27, 2014  9:25 am by David Walker Reply

      The Meerkat approach to winning the Premier League - simples! Cheers, as ever, Pete.

  5. April 27, 2014  7:49 am by GeorgeInIsrael Reply

    Of course Maureen wants to beat Liverpool. After all, if Chelsea win against Liverpool, Palace do the business against both City and Liverpool and City get their traditional loss at Goodison, then Chelsea will take the title. Unlikely, but still possible. I don't see the putrid Portuguese giving up on a possible EPL/CL double so easily.
    Having said that, it could be that Liverpool loose two games on the trot and we win all our remaining games and take the title on the last day of the season.

    • April 27, 2014  9:28 am by David Walker Reply

      I do so admire your optimism George - if that were to happen it would be staggering. Nothing will ever top the 'Aguerrrrrro' moment as a single piece of drama but, winning the title from this position would be the greater achievement.

      • April 28, 2014  7:14 am by GeorgeInIsrael Reply

        So we can now take the title on goal difference. Can Palace do to Liverpool what they didn't do to us?

        • April 29, 2014  7:59 am by David Walker Reply

          The beauty is, if we can win our last three games and maintain the goal difference advantage it really doesn't matter a jot!

  6. April 27, 2014  8:38 am by Andy Devereux Reply

    Maureen's ego is much too big to just let this game pass them by and if Chelsea are level after half an hour or so whats happened in recent pool games is they do run out of steam a little bit and Chelski could exploit that......heres hoping :) Of course we have then got to do the business, my thought is if we get in front we'll be ok.Whatever transpires its gonna make for a fascinating Sunday afternoon.

    • April 27, 2014  9:31 am by David Walker Reply

      Let's hope it's a blue Sunday all round but at the very least, let's sustain our challenge until the last kick of the game against West Ham - PRIDE IN BATTLE - like never before!

  7. April 27, 2014  11:50 am by Mole Rocks Reply

    Great article David.

    There are so many scenarios for the end of season, it's enough to fry your brain!

    As MP keeps saying, aim to win every game and see where we finish.

    Mourinho will definitely be trying to win at Liverpool, lets hope for once he's successful.

    Trust in MP and the team to keep their focus.

    • April 27, 2014  11:52 am by David Walker Reply

      It's all we can do isn't it Carl. However, apparently if you manage to beat Norwich at home you are instant heroes with Her Majesty's press. Pathetic isn't it?

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