Pellegrini is a happy plucker – Man City 2 Swansea 1

It’s fast approaching the time of year when birds get stuffed and gobbled up. Manchester City, anxious to avoid looking like champion turkeys come Christmas, made an early start on some lively Welsh swans.

City fans who love reminiscing about a famous ‘Sick Swan’ slaughter at Old Trafford in 2011, had to make do with a 2-1 ‘bird cull’ as plucky Swansea were rightly put to the sword.

Is he 'back'? - Yaya celebrates the winner over Swansea. Courtesy@MCFC

Is he ‘back’? – Yaya celebrates the winner over Swansea. Courtesy@MCFC

Pre-match, Manuel Pellegrini had declared his team needed maximum points from eight Premier League games before the end of the year. With one down, City need another magnificent seven to crank up the pressure on table-topping Chelsea.

Garry Monks’ high-flying visitors have developed some good habits this season with wins over Arsenal and Manure in the PL, and they ruffled City’s feathers when Bony put them one up in the ninth minute.

Having won over at Trafford Borough on the opening day of the season, the Swans were taking liberties thinking they were taking six points back from Manchester in 2014/15.

The travelling fans’ chant of ‘Champions of England, you’re having a laugh…’ resounded, before City began to shake off yet another slow start and curious malaise following kick-off.

Jump! City are looking to go higher in the Premier League as quickly as possible. Courtesy@MCFC

Jump! City are looking to go higher in the Premier League as quickly as possible. Courtesy@MCFC

Pellegrini can take some encouragement in that City won for the first time in eight attempts this season where they’d gone a goal behind.

The Swans 1-0 advantage came against the run of play and the home fans suffered an uncomfortable 10 minutes before Stevan Jovetic put City level.

For once Jesus Navas showed his true capabilities, curling a superb low cross into the 18-yard box and Jovetic was first to connect, steering the ball past an in-form Fabianski in the Swansea goal.

A 30 yard exocet strike from Gael Clichy would have seen the French full back in the running for the Goal of the Season, had it not been for Fabianski’s fingertips deflecting the ‘missile’ onto the upright.

Gael goal - well not quite, but Clichy came agonisngly close with a 30 yard screamer. Courtesy@MCFC

Gael goal – well not quite, but Clichy came agonisngly close with a 30 yard screamer. Courtesy@MCFC

Such sharp shooting is usually the domain of City’s other left back – AK47 Kolarov – but Clichy was in better form, after lamentable performances against CSKA and QPR.

The ex-Gunner hit rock bottom in the 2-1 defeat to Moscow and was chasing ghosts at Loftus Road but, in fairness he wasn’t alone.

Yaya Toure scored against the Russians, but did little else to illuminate a glum Fireworks Night, before being red-carded for an act of petulance – a sending off that keeps him out of Tuesday’s last chance saloon encounter with Bayern Munich.

In scoring only his second league goal of the season and actually bothering to turn up, Yaya earned Man of the Match honours in the eyes of the majority of the 45,000+ crowd.

The Ivorian is a total enigma.

Second helping - City's second of the match and Yaya's second league goal of the season secured all three points. Courtesy@MCFC

Second helping – City’s second of the match and Yaya’s second league goal of the season secured all three points. Courtesy@MCFC

When he wants to do it, he is a truly world class player, almost unique in the modern game. Why a man, blessed with a talent and a physique that should make him unplayable every match, can’t be a*sed every match is unprofessional and unforgivable.

Comments, presumably designed to send signals across The Channel to PSG, that he would be receptive to a move to the French capital, don’t help his cause with City supporters, already firmly divided as to the present day merits of man who was, unquestionably, the team’s talisman last season.

At 32-years of age next birthday (we’ll avoid the obvious cake jibes) Yaya will have two years left on his City contract. It may well be that the summer of 2015 will be the time to take £25m and say ‘Au Revoir’ to a man who has been – and may yet still be – a giant influence on the field but, likewise, a huge pain the backside off it!

Scoring duo - Yaya and Stevan were on target for City. Courtesy@MCFC

Scoring duo – Yaya and Stevan were on target for City. Courtesy@MCFC

In his post match comments Manuel Pellegrini lavished praise on Yaya, and it is to be hoped that Toure can apply himself in a proper and professional manner for the duration of this season.

Of course, he’ll be off to represent his country in the confounded African Cup of Nations in January and February, despite the nominated hosts – Morocco – calling for its postponement due to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The Confederation of African Nations – in their infinite wisdom – decided to reward Morocco’s common sense approach, by throwing them out of the competition, and touting it around looking for a mug nation to host it at the 11th hour.

The ACON is scheduled every two years but has been played in 2010, 2012, 2013 and now 2015…it’s called taking the pee, albeit we’re fed some hokum about bringing it into line with other international competitions!

Spirited reply - Zaba and Dino helped City achieve their first come from behind win of the season. Courtesy@MCFC

Spirited reply – Zaba and Dino helped City achieve their first come from behind win of the season. Courtesy@MCFC

If – such a big word, if, – if Yaya continues to display the same zeal as was evidenced when latching onto Fernandinho’s classy back heeled flick to ram the ball home for City’s winner, it’ll be good news for club and country. Time will tell.

Dino will also be missing as City attempt the great escape from Champions League Group E, following his two yellow cards against CSKA.

On the topic of two card tricks, Saturday’s referee Neil Swarbrick – pronounced SwarPRICK – would do well to differentiate between a body-check and staying upright!

The name almost says it all - Ref Neil SwarPrick had a stinker! Courtesy@MCFC

The name almost says it all – Ref Neil SwarPrick had a stinker! Courtesy@MCFC

Both Kompany and Demichelis were booked for simply being there, as their opponents emulated ballet culture with some superb dying swan impersonations.

Conversely Kyle Bartley received the same punishment for cleaning out Sergio Aguero, and then attempting to use his towering bulk to square up to Samir Nasri in the ensuing melee.

Who’s to say the feisty French Bull Terrier wouldn’t have bought the Stockport-born Bartley to heel?

City deservedly took the spoils with a vibrant second half display, reflected in the match statistics of 23 attempts on goal, of which 10 were on target.

Aguero came close on numerous occasions, Jovetic was his usual ‘hyper’ self and will have been boosted by his goal, his first in the PL since a brace against Liverpool, three months ago.

Action man - Aguero was in the wars with Swansea's rough tough defenders. Courtesy@MCFC

Action man – Aguero was in the wars with Swansea’s rough tough defenders. Courtesy@MCFC

Demichelis was majestic alongside a slightly ring rusty Kompany and the pair will surely start against Bayern.

City’s backline will need to stay awake against the Germans who won’t be as profligate as Swansea’s Bafetimbi Gomis who, having waltzed through with just Joe Hart to beat, placed the ball 10 yards wide of the goal.

Hart had rushed from his line and superbly narrowed the angles. It was, nonetheless, a horrible miss.

Shelvey nearly salvaged an undeserved point when his late free kick took a massive deflection and span agonisingly/joyfully (depending on your allegiance) inches wide of Hart’s inside post.

The leveller - Jovetic squared things up at 1-1. Courtesy@MCFC

The leveller – Jovetic squared things up at 1-1. Courtesy@MCFC

There were encouraging flashes of ‘Champion City’ but certainly not in the corner-kicking department. If corners aren’t part of Pellegrini’s set piece training programme, they bloody well need to be.

If they are already, then it’s even more of a worry.

Nasri was voted MotM by those attending the game, but his corners, like the wonderful David Silva’s, are in the main, nothing more than annoying, aimless floaters. You can improvise with your own ‘imagery’ at this point.

Points mean prizes and, as well as wanting another 21 in the Premier League before 2015, six more in Europe wouldn’t go amiss.

Same again Stevan - Jovetic could do with being in scoring form against Bayern Munich. Courtesy@MCFC

Same again Stevan – Jovetic could do with being in scoring form against Bayern Munich. Courtesy@MCFC

The vast majority of City fans see the retention of the PL title as top priority. The owners of the club view the Champions League as the Holy Grail.

48 hours from now we’ll have a good indication if the penultimate fixture of the season at Swansea will be the extent of City’s European forays in the first half of 2015.

Let’s hope not.

 

#TrustOurMP

By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu

14 Comments

  1. November 23, 2014  11:15 pm by Mark Shaw Reply

    A hard earned 3 points against a tricky Swansea side who made City work for it. Neil Swarbrick stood out for his shear incompetence as is the industry standard these days but what was refreshing to see was an away side who when the inevitable onslaught began and they dropped deeper and deeper and had literally everyone behind the ball, decided to actually play some attacking football and not just sit back and take what was coming to them. Not the greatest game to watch but 3 points is 3 points.

    • November 24, 2014  12:22 am by David Walker Reply

      Swansea were an impressive team with speed and great counter attacking ability. Bony was diving and backing into City's centre backs all afternoon and proved a real handful. Lots of City fans around me were saying City could do worse than put in a bid for him, albeit he signed a new deal at the Liberty Stadium a week ago. An improved City performance but it'll have to get better & better & better with Bayern, Southampton, bogey team Sunderland, Everton & Roma coming up thick and fast, albeit the last one might be academic if Tuesday goes pear-shaped.

  2. November 24, 2014  12:05 am by Susan Bookbinder Reply

    Really enjoyed the guaranteed superb writing again David, particularly having had such a wonderful day meeting up with you and Debi at the best seats in which I have ever had the joy of watching City in the last 49 years! Thanks so much and love the bird slaughter theme!

    • November 24, 2014  12:29 am by David Walker Reply

      Glad you and Zac enjoyed the day, the game and my pun laden take on proceedings. I could write a serious straight forward account of the match but why should I? Everybody else does that and since nobody is hiring me or paying me to write about City I may as well just buck the trend. The seats are pretty darn good and I shall convey your pleasure to Evelyn who made them available in the first place. We'll see you guys again before too long, hopefully before Chelsea, but if not then fingers crossed with Big Joe, Alex, Tommy and, who knows, even Rodders in January? Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. November 24, 2014  7:45 am by David Kelly Reply

    Another good read Mr Walker. I will be interested if Ya Ya turns up on Tuesday, I doubt it very much

    • November 24, 2014  8:24 am by David Walker Reply

      So do I Guvnor...he's banned ;-) he might however be sitting in the comfy seats cheering his team mates on to victory!

  4. November 24, 2014  11:50 am by Richard Cooper Reply

    3 points are 3 points however they come about and in a game we should have perhaps won by at least 4 - 2 after a very upbeat second half we endured the nervy last minutes when the Swans could have gone back to South Wales with a share of the spoils.
    As was highlighted on TV, on a day when players were falling down all over the place, Ya Ya stayed on his feet and did what he does best, and as you pointed out what a super backheel by Fernandinho.
    Once again Mart was assured in defence on a day when Vinny was I think finding his way back after injury.
    You rightly highlighted our woeful corners. Why the volume goes up when we get a corner I don't know because 9 times out of 10 nothing happens and we are lucky if the ball gets past the first man.
    After a torrid few games Clichy was really good and his humdinger shot was more than worthy of a goal.
    Nasri and Agureo both worked tirelessly and we need that level of performance against Bayern and the Saints who if I am correct have only conceded 5 goals this season
    Good to see Jovetic on the scoresheet and having a positive game - and we need that in the next few games.
    I don't know how long Merlin is out for but we have the players to cover for his absence as long as we play with the same tempo we did in the second half but the defence is a bit worrying at present as clean sheets seem to be a thing of the past.
    Mr Swarbrick - Enough said by yourself

    • November 24, 2014  12:50 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks for some great feedback and observations Richard, always well crafted and invariably complimentary. People will think you're on some sort of retainer...by the way did the last cheque clear on time? ;-)

  5. November 24, 2014  1:23 pm by Richard Cooper Reply

    The cheque must have got lost in the post ! Will contact Royal Mail but I won't hold my breath !

    • November 24, 2014  3:47 pm by David Walker Reply

      Probably fell out of the Postie's bag and bounced violently into oblivion ;-)

  6. November 24, 2014  2:53 pm by Doug Henshaw Reply

    Good read as always Dave. Poor by defense for swans goal but once we scored i felt we could of won comfortable although there were a few nervous moments. Nice to see the real Yaya turn up & how unlucky was Clichy, nice to see the goal scoring being shared out a bit.Still think we arnt firing on all cylinders yet but Bayern up next lets hope we turn up as well. I noticed the comment about being on a retainer David i do hope this extends to me as well seeing as how i have to make sure Mrs H sees all of Mollie Zaba's pics.

    • November 24, 2014  3:45 pm by David Walker Reply

      Retainer? You should count yourself lucky I'm not charging for breach of copyright of the Mollie Zaba 2014 Puppy Love Photo Gallery ;-)

  7. November 24, 2014  4:13 pm by James HouseOlogy Reply

    Great read David. And no matter how you look at how the 3pts were gained, they were and has to be said that City showed decent signs of our fight to the end spirit and attitude. Improvements have to be made but today I am a satisfied City fan who has that feeling that the City team of last season is about to fire up again...... Well in the league anyway

    MP.has set them a target now as you said, now we must show our champion metal for the good of the league we need to.... One down Seven to go Mr MP.

    • November 24, 2014  4:33 pm by David Walker Reply

      Seven up from hereonin would be a mint performance after eight consecutive wins - it's all fizzy drinks and chocolates this blogging lark. Cheers JHO.

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