Pellegrini’s imperfect 10 – MAN CITY 1 CRYSTAL PALACE 0

Manchester City didn’t run up a cricket score when beating Crystal Palace 1-0, but Edin Dzeko did something that has eluded most of England’s batsmen during the ill-fated Ashes series.

The enigmatic striker completed a half-century when his sizzling shot secured three hard earned points and took him to a 50-goal personal milestone in City colours.

Edin Dzekoo-oo-oo - One Nil!  Courtesy @MCFC

Edin Dzekoo-oo-oo – One Nil! Courtesy @MCFC

Dzeko continues to delight and frustrate City’s fans – not always in equal measure. His goals to games statistics and goals to minutes played ratio are impressive when set down on paper.

There are lies, damned lies and statistics and despite Edin often having the deftness of touch of an anvil being dropped from forty feet, the fact remains he does score goals.

In terms of minutes played and goals scored, City’s third choice striker is 9th on the all-time list of Premier League scorers with a return of one per every 141 minutes on the pitch.

It’s noticeable that a certain Sergio Aguero tops the list with a successful strike rate of a goal every 118 minutes.

Edin has had 46 starts and 43 games coming off the sub’s bench to hit 34 PL goals. In cup competitions, he’s netted 16 goals from 29 starts and 11 substitute appearances.

Acclaimed - Dzeko takes the plaudits  Courtesy @MCFC

Acclaimed – Dzeko takes the plaudits Courtesy @MCFC

The problem, if indeed it can be construed as a problem, with Dzeko is the amount of chances missed and a seeming inability to create opportunities for himself or others.

The contrast with Negredo is stark, it’s pointless comparing Edin with Sergio because of the gulf in class, but that has more to do with Aguero’s excellence rather than Dzeko’s deficiencies.

As it stands Edin scored a crucial goal and credit to him for a superb finish, having first created the space for the shot and his willingness to take on the responsibility.

With half-a-dozen changes that saw Boyata, Clichy, Nastasic, Garcia, Milner and of course, Dzeko, start. Manuel Pellegrini was seeking to optimise his options amid a hectic fixture schedule.

Shocker - Javi Garcia played well for City  Courtesy @MCFC

Shocker – Javi Garcia played well for City Courtesy @MCFC

It was a calculated risk and one that ultimately paid off. Three points are three points irrespective of the margin of victory.

The solitary goal was sufficient to achieve a new PL, record of 54 scored in the opening half of a season, surpassing the previous record of 53 achieved by a free-scoring team by the name of …Manchester City in 2011.

It was the 60th consecutive PL home game where City had scored, so woe betide any fan in sky blue who could honestly and rationally come away from the Etihad with any grumbles.

50 not out - Edin celebrates his goalden anniversary  Courtesy @MCFC

50 not out – Edin celebrates his goalden anniversary Courtesy @MCFC

Yes, the performance left a lot to be desired but, against a team well drilled by Sgt Major Tony Pulis, the bus was parked and the handbrake super-glued into the on position at all times.

It was always going to be a campaign of attrition rather than a blitzkrieg.

Lion Hart - Joe was both brave & brilliant  Courtesy @MCFC

Lion Hart – Joe was both brave & brilliant Courtesy @MCFC

The fact that GI Joe – that’s Goalkeeper Incredible – Joe Hart was voted as Man of the Match by the Etihad crowd says it all – it was a much deserved accolade, commensurate with his bravery and skill.

Rather like the malicious malcontents of the football media, Joe saw most of the match via a one-eyed perspective.

Restored and instantly re-established as City’s number one keeper, Joe showed lion-heart courage when diving at the feet of Palace’s Cameron Jerome, sustaining a gruesome looking gash around his left eye.

Despite a wound that was initially glued shut, before an after-match stitching attempt, Joe played a blinder with a trio of world-class saves from long range attempts by Puncheon, Jedinak and, the best of the lot, a 25-yard drive from Ward, destined for the bottom right corner of City’s net.

A fully functioning Hart – is a joy to behold for both club and country.

Camaraderie - Joe's team mates recognise his immense contribution  Courtesy @MCFC

Camaraderie – Joe’s team mates recognise his immense contribution Courtesy @MCFC

Lacking the fluidity of an Aguero, Negredo, Nasri trio, City relied on the sublime Silva, Navas and Fernandinho to try and breakdown the massed platoon of Palace defenders.

It was the Brazilian midfielder who came closest to breaking the deadlock on two occasions in the first 45 minutes. He created his own opportunity with an exquisite first touch before shooting over Peroni’s bar. The Palace keeper denied him again when ‘Freddie’ headed towards goal on the stroke of half time.

Credit to Palace who, sensing City were not at their cohesive best, sniffed the chance of a point or even a coupon-busting win. For the second time in 44 hours City fans were deprived of the luxury of a three or four goal buffer going into the latter stages of the contest.

Action man - Fernandinho was as assured as ever  Courtesy @MCFC

Action man – Fernandinho was as assured as ever Courtesy @MCFC

How perverse though that when City ‘win ugly’ it’s interpreted as Pellegrini and his men somehow failing. When the likes of ‘The Special Needs One’ Mourinho, 3G, Bleating Brendan, Whinging Wenger or out to pasture Sir Baconface, do or did, grind out a winning margin it’s a virtue not a vice.

Bloody hypocrites! Manchester City and everyone associated with the club give not a jot (polite way of putting it) and are happy to let actions not words define their season.

Pellegrini is a perfectionist but also a pragmatist. He subscribes to a philosophy that serves up exquisite portions of the beautiful game but, when needs must, he is prepared to win games by whatever means. In his words Manchester City can win with “…different faces…”

He gets little recognition or praise from the jaundiced journalists who dwell in the UK media. City fans know only too well about the two-faces of football journalism in this country.

Winning ugly - three points is three points irrespective of the winning margin  Courtesy @MCFC

Winning ugly – three points is three points irrespective of the winning margin Courtesy @MCFC

The irony is the praise bestowed on plucky Pulis and his default position of Neanderthal play.

Young Tony is the walking, talking, living, breathing best exponent of ANY club shop with whom he has an affiliation. It would be wrong to say he has a chip on his shoulder when it comes to City…no, the man has a gargantuan chopping block! It dates back to the 2nd Division Play-off final with Gillingham in 1999 and the FA Cup Final against Stoke in 2011.

Rather than take the plaudits for a gutsy Palace performance he reverts to type blathering on about City’s financial prowess chirping how his nemesis have a team costing ‘£350m’ and where one player’s wages would pay half of his team’s weekly wage.

Quote of the day from putrid Pulis: “It would be lovely to manage that team (City) I would be sat on the side with a cigar in my mouth.’

It would require a huge Havana – one of Cuba’s finest to fill that cavernous trap. What dear old Tony doesn’t understand is that to manage City you need an impeccable work ethic, man management skills, diplomacy, the talent to get the very best out of your players and, in Pellegrini’s case, a willingness to make sacrifices and be thousands of miles away from your loved ones.

Perfectionist & pragmatist - Pellegrini deserves to be trusted by City fans  Courtesy @MCFC

Perfectionist & pragmatist – Pellegrini deserves to be trusted by City fans Courtesy @MCFC

That’s why Manuel Pellegrini doesn’t sit puffing on a cigar, he applies himself to the task at hand and lets his rivals indulge in adolescent comments, egged on by the sychophants who kiss the backsides of Messrs Mourinho, Moyes, Rodgers etc.

City were table toppers for less than a day following Arsenal’s win at Newcastle, but with eight wins and a draw from a hectic December, the momentum is building up in Manchester with four trophies up for grabs in 2014.


By David Walker



  1. December 29, 2013  4:40 pm by Eileen Fullen Reply

    Brilliant read yet again had me in fits, there will always be the knockers but grinding out the win yesterday shows the true spirit that is in the teams performances recently.Joe the wounded soldier back to his best Edin still scores even without trying and he's a constant puzzle to me.
    All the best to you and your family for the New Year

    • December 29, 2013  5:15 pm by David Walker Reply

      Joe was superb, Edin not so, but he does score goals! Happy New Year to you & yours - let's hope it's the greatest in MCFC history.

  2. December 29, 2013  4:57 pm by dave bones Reply

    Throughly enjoyable read David,written with panache & witt,keep em coming for the new year pal,oh,and have a great one scribeking...

    • December 29, 2013  5:24 pm by David Walker Reply

      I'll do my best Mr Bones - #gratitude!

  3. December 29, 2013  5:02 pm by Nev Artingstall Reply

    Great read David. GI Joe! Love it. Not commented for a while due to being in sunny Mexico. All the best for the new year to you and your family.
    Nev Artingstall

    • December 29, 2013  5:26 pm by David Walker Reply

      You just had to tell me you'd been in Mexcio didn't you - you couldn't let it lie! Joking apart, thanks for your support and all good wishes for a Happy Blue Year in 2014 to you and yours and, indeed ALL MCFC fans, players, support personnel, management, executives etc etc etc

      • December 29, 2013  5:26 pm by David Walker Reply

        Err I can AKTUALLI spell Mexico!

        • December 29, 2013  6:53 pm by Nev Artingstall Reply

          Hope you got spell check for Xmas. Lol

  4. December 29, 2013  5:30 pm by Susan Richardson Reply

    Great read again so true. If that's what CP fans want to watch week in week out then I feel sorry for them. Just heard on sky that's what champions do grind out 1_0 wins about arsenal of course ours was a struggle to master determined Palace. A____holes!
    A happy new year to yoSaba xxbi and the adorable Mollie zaba

    • December 29, 2013  5:34 pm by David Walker Reply

      Hypocrites - hopefully what we do on the pitch will utlimately shape what these 'orifices' in the press and football media say. Actions will speak louder than words. Thanks Susan - Happy New Year to you and yours - we can settle for a double double - quadruple in 2014!

  5. December 29, 2013  5:42 pm by Graham Ward Reply

    A good read, as always, David. That's two games on the trot now where there's been a mix of styles and approaches from our opponents, that we've just about been able to deal with.
    Fair play to Arsenal, that's a very good result for them at Newcastle, and, as I write, Chelsea have the upper hand on Liverpool. A pity about Silva's suspension against Swansea, but a rested Toure will be back. Quietly optimistic.

    • December 29, 2013  5:54 pm by David Walker Reply

      Yes, it would be nice to emerge from West Glamorgan with all three points for a change. Happy New Year Graham!

      • December 29, 2013  6:14 pm by Graham Ward Reply

        Thanks, David, Happy New Year to you and your family.......indeed, to all who read and contribute to RBNR, via the various forms that entails.
        2014 could be a good one.

  6. December 29, 2013  5:46 pm by Glyn Rathbone Reply

    Great read as always. I'm try not to get concerned about what other managers & pundits say about us but over the last few weeks it seems to be getting personal. Thankfully the players are responding to it in a positive manner ie on the pitch. That says a lot about them & also MP who's man management skills seem to be second to none. Obviously people still don't like the fact we are now eating from the top table & aren't the medias darlings. Pulls said he could manage us with a cigar,well I know where I'd like shove it ! Yea they did well but hardly entertains stuff from them. Love the names you have for the so called top managers.
    As an aside I have enjoyed reading all your reports this year as much as I have watching the blues. Keep up the good work & have a Happy New Year.

    • December 29, 2013  5:58 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks for your generous feedback Glyn. I like writing RBNR - it is time consuming and sometimes an almighty pain in the ass, but it's my choice. The main concern is when I am absolutely cream crackered whether or not I write anything for fear of compromising the standard. All done with best endeavours and all constructive criticisms and feedback received with good grace. Happy New Year #MCFCPLCHAMPIONS2014!

  7. December 30, 2013  1:27 am by Mole Rocks Reply

    After watching the highlights I thought City played some good stuff.

    Fernandinho in particular was excellent, providing some great passes as well as getting in the box.

    If he'd scored after his lovely little flick, we might have seen a bigger margin of victory.

    Palace were organised as expected, however I didn't think City panicked, they just kept at it until they made the breakthrough.

    Dzeko's finish when it came was excellent, admittedly he and Garcia have become City's resident pantomime villain's, however considering MP's continued faith in them, I believe we should just support them.

    Hopefully Wenger gets the Manager of the Month award, then they can have a January splutter, while City go from strength to strength.

    Come on blues, 2014 could be amazing.

    Happy New Year to you David and all Blues.

    • December 30, 2013  12:24 pm by David Walker Reply

      The cliche of a win being a win is wholly applicable but we continue to do so whilst missing key players. It's been an excellent December & with Sergio missing for January at least we need to continue momentum & progress in 2 cups as well as maintaining PL charge. Best wishes

  8. December 30, 2013  6:37 am by BY Reply

    I love u David ,i only read meaningful stuffs here , i just love ur details, i don't know y d media hate u so so soo much, wats dis ? Can we do something at dat? , i need to know, is it a crime to be in that top four. ? Hate and jealousy is everywhere towards us, GOD helps us and our owner,

    • December 30, 2013  5:41 pm by David Walker Reply

      Many thanks for taking the time to read and comment BY - here's to a great 2014 for MCFC!

  9. December 30, 2013  3:14 pm by Kev Russell Reply

    Top report David. Enjoyable, humorous & honest. Just like to Thankyou for all your RBNR work this calendar year & keeping all us Blues entertained with your A plus journalism. 2014 will be a good un. League Title, domestic cup & as for CL? If we dispose of Barca we could go all the way. You should finally get what deserve David as well. An award from the Football Writers, which is long over due. Wishing you & your family a Happy, healthy, trophy filled New year. #TopScriber

    • December 30, 2013  5:32 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Kev - not so sure about any personal accolades, but I would definitely join you in toasting trophies galore for our beloved City. I really hope you are keeping well and who knows, hopefully we can get to meet up in 2014? Have a very Happy New & Sky Blue Year along with Annie. Best wishes #RBNRORIGINALSUPPORTER

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