Professionalism can beat Palace…not the ‘C’ word – Man City v Crystal Palace

Character is a word often abused in football parlance.

How often do we hear a player or a manager, a pundit or a commentator trot out how a team has shown ‘character’, simply because they’ve been a goal or two behind, staged a ‘comeback’ and earned a draw or a win?

Team spirit - Did Nasri, Kompany and Demichelis show character as City came from behind to beat Bayern Munich 3-2, or were they just doing their jobs? Courtesy@MCFC

Team spirit – Did Nasri, Kompany and Demichelis show character as City came from behind to beat Bayern Munich 3-2, or were they just doing their jobs? Courtesy@MCFC

The noun is bandied around like confetti at a wedding where all the guests have taken advantage of the ‘buy one, get one free’ jumbo-size box of confetti offer.

Character is defined as a combination of qualities distinguishing a person, group or place. Instead of prattling on about ‘character’ the football world would be better off commenting on a player or a team simply doing their job, performing to the best of their abilities, both individually and collectively.

Triple blow - Sergio is out of the reckoning with injury, along with Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic. Courtesy@MCFC

Triple blow – Sergio is out of the reckoning with injury, along with Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic. Courtesy@MCFC

In the absence of their entire senior strike force of Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic, Manchester City, with a wealth of talent at their disposal, need to do a job on Crystal Palace – and the hell with character.

If a team containing David Silva, Samir Nasri, Yaya Toure, Frank Lampard, James Milner and the latterly prolific Pablo Zabaleta (well, two goals in a week is going some for Zaba) cannot break down, get behind or go through the middle of Neil Warnock’s backline, then City’s hopes of retaining their title will be in peril.

Prolific Pablo -  Can Zaba enhance his goalscoring CV even further over Christmas? Courtesy @MCFC

Prolific Pablo – Can Zaba enhance his goalscoring CV even further over Christmas? Courtesy @MCFC

Of course the Premier League will not be won or lost at the Etihad on Saturday lunchtime, but if a striker-less City struggle to break down an organised and determined Palace, who’s to say they’ll fair any better over the festive period against WBA, Burnley and Sunderland?

City have been dealt a devastatingly bad hand to have their forward line removed from the front line of Premier League action.

Out of it - Edin is sidelined once again. Courtesy@MCFC

Out of it – Edin is sidelined once again. Courtesy@MCFC

Rather than bemoaning the fact, Manuel Pellegrini is reshaping his side to cope with City’s misfortune, get sufficient goals to bag maximum points, stretch his side’s league winning streak to eight games, and eventually make it 11 by New Year’s Day night.

It’ll be far from easy, despite City’s next four opponents all coming from the bottom half of the division.

Young Jose Angel Pozo may have a part to play as a specialist forward, but it’s asking a lot of an 18-year old kid to lead the line…but the fact is there may not be a line to lead.

Silva service - David and his midfield partners need to chip in with the goals in the absence of City's strikers.. Courtesy@MCFC

Silva service – David and his midfield partners need to chip in with the goals in the absence of City’s strikers.. Courtesy@MCFC

Pellegrini could make a virtue from a vice, go with a ‘false number 9’ approach and have City’s attacking midfielders, inter-change positions and unbalance the Palace rearguard.

There’s even been a suggestion that in the midst of an injury crisis and a need for speed and attacking width, City’s Invisible Man – Scott Sinclair – could have a role to play.

Bad Kompany - Captain Fantastic Vinny is not-so-good because of a recurring hamstring problem. Courtesy@MCFC

Bad Kompany – Captain Fantastic Vinny is not-so-good because of a recurring hamstring problem. Courtesy@MCFC

With goals at a premium, extra pressure and weight of expectation falls onto City’s defence. Shorn of the injured Vincent Kompany, the key to City success may rest on keeping it clean and building on the shutouts against Southampton, Everton, Roma and Leicester City.

Joe Hart, fresh from signing a new four-and-a-half year commitment to City, Eliaquim Mangala, Martin Demichelis, Gael Clichy and Zaba have shown real quality as a unit in recent weeks. It must continue.

Staying - Joe has signed up for another four-and-a-half years with City. Courtesy@MCFC

Staying – Joe has signed up for another four-and-a-half years with City. Courtesy@MCFC

Fernando and Fernandinho have been ‘F’ing immense in recent outings and a clean sheet means City can grind out 1-0 or 2-0 wins, at a time when results are paramount and performances are allowed a large portion of pragmatism.

The Etihad crowd – unlikely to be at capacity on what is notoriously the worst attended weekend of the year in grounds up and down the country – need to exercise patience and avoid panic against Palace.

Unsung hero - midfield dynamo Fernandinho has certainly stepped up in recent weeks. Courtesy@MCFC

Unsung hero – midfield dynamo Fernandinho has certainly stepped up in recent weeks. Courtesy@MCFC

It’s just eight days shy of a year since City had 76% possession, but had to be reliant on a solitary Edin Dzeko goal to overcome Tony Pulis’ resolute Palace.

A similar outcome will do just fine this time around, albeit it won’t be at the behest of the Bosnian’s boot.

50 not out - Edin celebrates his 'goalden' anniversary with the winner over Palace last December. Courtesy @MCFC

50 not out – Edin celebrates his ‘goalden’ anniversary with the winner over Palace last December. Courtesy @MCFC

Victory would mean City are 75% of the way to fulfilling Manuel Pellegrini’s rallying cry, issued following the disappointing 2-2 draw at QPR on November 8th.

With doubts surrounding the manager’s ability and fans fearing a second capitulation in a title defending season, City’s everso slightly distrusted MP had called for a 100% win ratio in the eight remaining PL fixtures of 2014.

The Right Stuff - Manuel has the ability to carry on winning even in the face of adversity. Courtesy@MCFC

The Right Stuff – Manuel has the ability to carry on winning even in the face of adversity. Courtesy@MCFC

If it is achieved against a backdrop of damaged knee ligaments, pulled hamstrings and strained calf muscles it will have nothing to do with ‘character’.

It will have everything to do with professionalism, and extremely well paid players doing their jobs to the levels anticipated.

Come kick off time it’ll be a case of the Etihad expects…

 

#TrustOur MP

By David Walker

 

 

www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu

 

 

11 Comments

  1. December 20, 2014  4:06 am by James Flowers Reply

    Graphics big mistake I couldnt read the article.

    • December 20, 2014  6:34 am by David Walker Reply

      Could you elaborate - what graphics? All appears perfectly legible.

  2. December 20, 2014  8:31 am by Phil Taylor Reply

    another good one, and all perfectly clear. Congratulations to Joe on his new contract.

    • December 20, 2014  10:35 am by David Walker Reply

      Cheers Phil - will you be watching from across The Channel?

  3. December 20, 2014  9:48 am by pete lynch Reply

    Superb David as per the norm. Looking forward to game and will be fascinating to watch and a real test of MP's tactical nous. CTWD

    • December 20, 2014  10:36 am by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Pete - we should ultimately prevail.

  4. December 20, 2014  11:33 am by guy Burke Reply

    Hopefully a routine win today , Chelsea have a tricky one away on Monday so City could possibly even top the league come Xmas day !! All the best to you and yours for the for the forthcoming festive season David

    • December 20, 2014  8:14 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Team GB - the same to you & your good lady. Back now after the regulation 250 mile round trip to the Etihad - a very comprehensive & pleasing win, shorn of our strikers so what do the media focus on...Warnock's whinging & the offside goal. Actions speak louder than words so it's Carry on Winning MP!

  5. December 20, 2014  2:50 pm by Philip Reply

    Thanks, David...written with great character, err oh I mean, haha! Don't understand "graphics" jibe tbh. Happy Christmas.

    • December 21, 2014  11:38 am by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Phil...there's always one isn't there?

  6. December 22, 2014  9:14 am by David Kelly Reply

    Sorry the comment is late, but not been on the computer this weekend. 3-0 was the score as we all know now. Your article was spot on. Guess what the press have not mentioned the lack of strikers after the game. I must just cheer on Stoke tonight, but I wont hold my breath, Hughes has just said Chelskie will win the quadruple. Another Rag conceding defeat I think. Well done Mr Walker another good article with some great pictures.

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