Pellegrini hounded by injuries as Foxes fall – Leicester City 0 Man City 1

Manchester City’s arch foes Michel Platini and Jose Mourinho were probably wearing smug grins after Manuel Pellegrini’s team won their seventh consecutive game in both the Champions and Premier Leagues.

175 NOT OUT - Super Frankie celebrates his milestone strike. Courtesy@MCFC

175 NOT OUT – Super Frankie celebrates his milestone strike. Courtesy@MCFC

But why would UEFA’s Little Napoleon and Chelsea’s Snide One be smiling when City, the team everybody now loves to hate, had maintained momentum with a hard fought 1-0 win against rock bottom Leicester City?

The answer is found in three words – one corrupt and contradictory concoction – Financial Fair Play.

UEFA’s cancerous manifestation masquerades as a policy to safeguard against unscrupulous owners of clubs who, either through mismanagement or malice aforethought, threatens the very existence of their vulnerable charge.

Thumbs up - Joe Hart and his City team mates want to stuff it up UEFA and their flawed FFP regulations. Courtesy@MCFC

Thumbs up – Joe Hart and his City team mates want to stuff it up UEFA and their flawed FFP regulations. Courtesy@MCFC

Sustainability and the long term well being of clubs is very much a secondary consideration of FFP. The primary, but unwritten, objective is to protect the self interest of Europe’s old guard cartel, and deprive newcomers such as City, the opportunity to gatecrash the party.

FFP – Fraudulent Foul & Pernicious – prevented Manchester City from operating to optimum levels in last summer’s transfer market.

Punitive spending caps and the slashing of City’s squad size for the Champions League, were substantial elements in putting Pellegrini in a position where he is now without a fit, recognised senior striker.

No looking back - The Beast has long gone. Courtesy @MCFC

No looking back – The Beast has long gone. Courtesy @MCFC

City’s Premier League winning trio of Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic are all injured and unavailable. As we all know, the ‘fourth man’, Alvaro Negredo, departed to Valencia on transfer deadline day.

The reasons for the Spanish striker’s return home vary wildly, depending who you talk to, be it the man himself, Mrs Negredo, Manuel Pellegrini or people who purport to have the inside track on Alvaro’s private life during his time in Manchester.

Big potential - Jose Angel Pozo has been thrust in at the deep end. Courtesy@MCFC

Big potential – Jose Angel Pozo has been thrust in at the deep end. Courtesy@MCFC

The bottom line is City were hamstrung by FFP and the Champions League squad constraints, when they could have bought a top striker to replace The Beast.

With a busy Christmas schedule in the offing, City’s front line consists of Jose Angel Pozo – an 18 year old of undeniable potential, but totally unproven in the senior ranks.

City’s spectacular successes of recent days – the opening of the wonderful City Football Academy facilities, superb financial results, progress in the Champions League and a fifth PL win on the bounce – would not sit well with the ‘suits’ in UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.

On the ball - Yaya was back in action after missing out in Rome. Courtesy@MCFC

On the ball – Yaya was back in action after missing out in Rome. Courtesy@MCFC

Having spent endless hours seeking to ‘screw’ Sheikh Mansour, Platini the petite tete de merde, will doubtless be quietly satisfied that injury woes could yet be the undoing of City’s season.

A perceived lack of City firepower will sit well with Mourinho, especially after his team’s eight point cushion was stripped back to just three, within the space of a week.

The irony of City’s sixth away victory was that the winner came from New York City’s, Super Frankie Lampard – the man who Mourinho let go and the loan signing who side stepped the FFP shackles.

Anglo-French entent cordiale - Super Frank & Samir celebrate City's winner. Courtesy@MCFC

Anglo-French entent cordiale – Super Frank & Samir celebrate City’s winner. Courtesy@MCFC

In hitting his fourth PL goal of the season and 175th of his career, Lamps drew level with Thierry Henry on the Premier League all-time top scorers list.

Lampard looks set to surpass the Arsenal legend as City seek to extend his stay at the Etihad beyond the end of December, most likely for an extra three months.

The playmaker and goal taker extraordinaire scored with his weaker left foot after marvellously re-adjusting his stance to connect with a Samir Nasri assist.

Nasri, enjoying a purple patch of form, passed through a cluster of four defenders, before Lampard swept the ball home from seven yards out, past rookie keeper Ben Hamer.

Close...but no cigar - Pozo's smart volley was saved by rookie keepr Ben Hamer. Courtesy@MCFC

Close…but no cigar – Pozo’s smart volley was saved by rookie keepr Ben Hamer. Courtesy@MCFC

Making only his second senior appearance Hamer had earlier pulled off fine saves from Jose Angel Pozo and Yaya Toure, to frustrate a lethargic City, clearly disrupted by Dzeko’s calf injury sustained in the pre-match warm up.

At the other end Joe Hart had almost been caught out by an Exocet missile of a free kick from veteran Argentine Esteban Cambiasso, the 35-yard strike going just wide.

Joe acknowledged the quality of the shot with a smile and thumbs up to the ex-Inter Milan midfielder.

INCOMING - Joe saw the funny side after Cambiasso's 35-yard free kick flashed wide of City's goal. Courtesy@MCFC

INCOMING – Joe saw the funny side after Cambiasso’s 35-yard free kick flashed wide of City’s goal. Courtesy@MCFC

Another ‘ThirtySomething’ Argentinian – Martin Demichelis – will be vital to City’s title ambitions as the games come thick and fast, after Vincent Kompany succumbed to a recurrence of his hamstring injury.

The Demi-God will form a central defensive partnership with the fast improving Eliaquim Mangala as City seek to build on the recent glut of clean sheets – four in the last five fixtures.

If the Goals For column won’t be stacking up as quickly as in recent games between now and 2015, then keeping the Goals Against column static assumes even more importance.

Robust rearguard - Bacary Sagna formed part of a re-shaped defence which will now be without Captain Vincent Kompany in the coming weeks. Courtesy@MCFC

Robust rearguard – Bacary Sagna formed part of a re-shaped defence which will now be without Captain Vincent Kompany in the coming weeks. Courtesy@MCFC

City attacking injury woes will doubtless be greeted with delight and derision by many – the same media outlets who give endless air time and column inches, along with tea and sympathy, to Louis Van Gutteral’s wounded defensive corps.

We would expect nothing less, which will make it all the more satisfying if City can continue to grind out wins, such as they did at the King Power Stadium.

Nigel Pearson’s team, now 11 PL games without a win since thrashing Manure’s Gaalactico’s 5-3 in September, fought ferociously for what would have been a precious point.

Riding high - Fernando is growing into his defensive midfielder role in the Premier League. Courtesy@MCFC

Riding high – Fernando is growing into his defensive midfielder role in the Premier League. Courtesy@MCFC

It’s a measure of City grit that after five games in 13 days – four on opposition soil, 11 goals scored, only 1 conceded and 15 points garnered, they overcame mounting casualties and fatigue.

Pellegrini won’t want to desert his philosophy of attractive, expansive attacking play, but even this football purist will accept a more pragmatic approach in the short-term.

Three more wins over Crystal Palace, WBA and Burnley will see City going into the New Year in excellent shape and Txiki Begiristain ready and willing to clinch new deals to boost City’s depleted squad.

Silva lining - Merlin is back but Dzeko, Kompany & Jovetic have joined Aguero on City's injury list. Courtesy@MCFC

Silva lining – Merlin is back but Dzeko, Kompany & Jovetic have joined Aguero on City’s injury list. Courtesy@MCFC

Swansea’s Wilfried Bony looks a likely target to boost City’s frontline in a move that might see invisible man Scott Sinclair return to Wales.

The Ivorian centre forward is a proven Premier League force with 23 goals in 49 games. He would bring a physicality often lacking in Edin Dzeko’s game, the only drawback would be his departure to the African Cup of Nations with Yaya in January and February.

Keep smiling - Let's hope Manuel is wearing this expression in late May and early June. Courtesy@MCFC

Keep smiling – Let’s hope Manuel is wearing this expression in late May and early June. Courtesy@MCFC

If unflappable Manuel is wearing a big cheesy Chilean grin at the end of May what’s the betting the smirks will have long since left the faces of the two faced Platini and Mourinho?



By David Walker



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  1. December 14, 2014  12:18 pm by Doug Henshaw Reply

    Much as I like to see us win playing attractive attacking football sometimes you got to win ugly. This was one of those games the 3pts is what counts at the moment.No doubt Dave Prattine & Maureen will be laughing at the moment but let's hope we have the last laugh. Bring your boots Sat Dave me & you are playing up front against Palace lol. Well written once again David. #superscript.

    • December 14, 2014  1:13 pm by David Walker Reply

      Cheers Doug - keep looking after those gold tops!

  2. December 14, 2014  12:37 pm by Richard Cooper Reply

    We certainly were hindered in the transfer market last summer and yes we certainly have a problem during the busy Christmas and New Year period without a recognised striker - Is Jovetic out for sometime or is it just "a knock" picked up in Rome ?
    As for the game yesterday - City looked tired and a bit jaded after the super show in Rome but thankfully we overcame a European hangover against a lively and committed Leicester.
    With Vinny now absent for I guess a month it was good to see The Mangler showing his true potential and with the reliable Demichelis we should at least cope in defence. Pozo was running in all the right places but with the absence of Dzeko etc etc he cut a lonely figure at times but one for the future and perhaps luckily for him he will get more game time in the next few weeks and with it added confidence.
    As a foxy relative of mine said after the game, without Dzeko up front it gave Leicester one less thing to worry about.
    A hard fought win and a clean sheet and that can't be bad.
    Finally - Super Frank, always in the right place at the right time, and he could be the man to give us a really Happy Christmas & New Year and haunt his ex employer

    • December 14, 2014  1:12 pm by David Walker Reply

      According to Pellegrini it looks as though Jovetic could be out for a fortnight, so effectively the festive period. Aguero will hopefully be back for Arsenal on Jan 18th and if Dzeko is out for a month he'd be on a similar timescale. It's going to be tough because whereas we're playing mid and lower table teams, they are exactly the types of teams who will dig in and seek to frustrate City.

      It might not be pretty and the fans are going to have to show patience and understanding as City seek to break down packed defences. Like you I believe we have a solid defence so we can achieve clean sheets - we might just be happy to nick 1-0 wins which, quite frankly, will do for me.

  3. December 15, 2014  10:48 am by carole Reply

    I'm not worried about the lack of striker atm....we have a welcome week's rest now, a very winnable run of fixtures and there are goals all over the team. I also love that Pozo is getting a run, he can only get stronger as he gets used to the physicality of PL matches.
    Pellegrini was clear when questioned on the possibility of buying a striker in January: "If we are thinking about that - AND AT THIS MOMENT WE ARE NOT - we will analyse in the moment what we're going to do."
    We'd be crazy to rush into buying Wilfried Bony in January...just as he goes off to AFCON! What would be the point? He'd be missing just when we needed him and the others would be back and firing when he returned!

    • December 15, 2014  7:23 pm by David Walker Reply

      If Bony was available and Scott Sinclair could figure in the deal I'd welcome it, nothwithstanding the AFCON. It's far from ideal but we can but hope that the Ivory Coast gets knocked out in the Group stage. Bony would, nonetheless add strength in depth to our squad for the remainder of the campaign and beyond. I wouldn't be in the least surprised if Dzeko and Jovetic are shipped out next summer for something in the region of £40m-£50m. Not only will we have Pozo to mature and see if he has what it takes, we should also have Kelechi Iheanacho who is one helluva prospect.

      Once we're free of FFP I wouldn't rule out a stellar striker signing - especially if Edin and Stevan go. In fairness all three of our walking wounded are scheduled to be back by mid-January, if not before, so, on that basis, Bony could add firepower in February and a more physical presence that Edin has never delivered.

      As ever, thanks Carole.

  4. December 15, 2014  1:01 pm by David Kelly Reply

    "fans are going to have to show patience and understanding" I hope you practice what you said Mr Walker..
    Great read again, it was a great day in Leicester, sky blue everywhere in Aylestone before the game.

    • December 15, 2014  7:25 pm by David Walker Reply

      I can be patient...very patient...I just want City to score...NOW!

      Cheers Guvnor.

  5. December 15, 2014  4:48 pm by Toby Teasdale Reply

    Poor little Pozo, you have to give him 10/10 for enthusiasm, but target man he is not!

    We have a weaker attack than the Royal Navy without an aircraft carrier, so reinforcements are a must. Surprisingly there aren't many targets with Champions league availability and two of those have African Nations commitments.

    Jermaine Defoe, Danny Ings, Alexandre Lacazette, Paulo Dybala, Wilfried Bony & Demba Ba

    Wilfried having survived for two years in Dylan Thomas's "ugly, lovely" city (where an average 1,360.8mm (53 inches) of rain falls each year making Swansea Britain's wettest city) will find Manchester as dry as his native Senegal’s ‘Sahel’.
    Bony's set piece defending is exceptional and either he or Dybala would get the Teasdale stamp of approval. ‘Part ex’ Dzeko, and we could have both.

    Chequebook out please Senor Soriano!

    • December 15, 2014  7:32 pm by David Walker Reply

      I worked as a journalist in Swansea at the outset of my career - happy memories of the Gower Peninsula & Mumbles Bay and...sunshine. I'd go for Bony in January and review the striking corps in the summer. In fairness, Pozo is not intended as a target man - it was obviously a massive tactical fly in the ointment when Dzeko pulled out at the last minute. Pozo is a touch player and, depending on his development, could become an asset. The same applies to Iheanacho. I think City might push the boat out for a top top striker next summer. An attacking trio of Sergio, Bony, AN Other, plus Pozo and Iheanacho would be an upgrade on sicknote Stevan and hot & cold Edin. Cheers TT.

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