Rotation rotation rotation – MAN CITY v WATFORD

Goal gluttons Manchester City have sent most of their opponents into a spin this season as Manuel Pellegrini’s astute rotation policy has provided a resilient and resourceful platform for the club’s record-breaking run.

With the games and goals ratio in almost perfect synch – matches every three days and approximately three goals per outing – City remain in the trophy hunt on four fronts.

At the forefront - Manuel Pellegrini won't be drawn on the Quadruple...but he wouldn't say 'no' in a hurry!

At the forefront – Manuel Pellegrini won’t be drawn on the Quadruple…but he wouldn’t say ‘no’ in a hurry!

Pellegrini’s deft handling of key players, providing the rationale as to why they’re not playing every game and effectively keeping them onside, is in stark contrast with the disharmony of last season.

The media have been quoting ex-City boss Roberto Mancini, now in Turkey with Galatasaray, and cherry picking sound bites that portray the Italian as seeking to take the credit for the club’s present success.

Mancini and Pellegrini appear polar opposites in their style of man-management. The fiery Roberto always seemed to be at loggerheads with a number of his players, whereas Pellegrini appears more easy going and approachable.

Best buy - Mancini splashed £38m on Sergio...and what an investment

Best buy – Mancini splashed £38m on Sergio…and what an investment

It’s horses for courses and, whilst never deriding the massive achievements of Bobby Manc, it’s clear the Chilean ‘Engineer’ subscribes to a different philosophy.

His team appears to be playing with a flair and vitality that was missing when City chronically underachieved as defending champions in 2012/13.

Only a blindman could fail to see the huge impact that signings of the quality of Negredo, Fernandinho and Navas have brought this term. The best is still very much to come from Jovetic, but there’s time enough if he stays fit and weighs in with quality performances and goals.

Stick it - unsung hero Fernandinho is the glue holding City's front and back ends together!

Stick it – unsung hero Fernandinho is the glue holding City’s front and back ends together!

Even Demichelis – admittedly a far more short-term signing, born of last minute necessity – has played his part.

Mancini is quoted as saying: “The players that score the goals are players that I bought – Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, Yaya Toure, David Silva and Samir Nasri…”

It’s a true to an extent – albeit a heavily sky blue tinted way of viewing Pellegrini’s success. The phrase being economical with the truth springs readily to mind.

Beast of a bargain - Negredo's a snip at £16.4m

Beast of a bargain – Negredo’s a snip at £16.4m

The Beast – a £16.4m bargain – is City’s top scorer, Navas is king of the assists and Fernandinho is the largely unsung hero, the glue that helps bond everything from front to back and back again!

The most equitable view is that Roberto Mancini earned the respect and profound gratitude of City fans – a fiercely loyal support – who were rewarded with success after 35 barren years and, ultimately, a Champions of England title after 44 years.

He was right for City at the time, in the same way Pellegrini is the man for the present and immediate future. Who’s to say that in three years time the mantle won’t have passed to Pep Guardiola or even City’s own Patrick Vieira, presently cutting his managerial teeth with the Elite Development squad.

Heading in the right direction - Marcos Lopes is destined to be a big star for City

Heading in the right direction – Marcos Lopes is destined to be a big star for City

In a not dissimilar way to the way Pellegrini optimises his playing resources to best effect, so to do Ferran Soriano, Txiki Begiristian when it comes to the leadership of the team.

As things stand Pellegrini is doing a superb job and, if, as and when, he chooses to head back to South America to be reunited with his family on a permanent basis, he could be leaving as City’s most successful ever manager.

City’s ‘friends’ in the media keep banging on about an unprecedented quadruple, but the calm and collected man from Santiago, just goes about his daily and weekly tasks, never playing up to the notion, nor downplaying the prospect.

Here to assist - Navas is a principal goal supplier since joining City

Here to assist – Navas is a principal goal supplier since joining City

Despite warming to City’s electrifying style of play – if you’re a true fan of football, why wouldn’t you – there’s a school of thought that any talk of a quadruple is just a pre-cursor for media factions to portray it as failure if City have to ‘settle’ for a treble, a double, God forbid, a single trophy this season.

Paranoia doesn’t mean they’re not out to get us!

With a Capital One Cup Final date with Sunderland in the diary, City turn their attentions to a second trip down Wembley Way, as Watford visit the Etihad in the FA Cup for a second consecutive season.

The Hornets were suitably stung 3-0 in the 3rd Round last January, as goals from Carlos Tevez, Gareth Barry and a prodigious young Portuguese talent, Marcos Lopes, saw City safely through.

Stepping in - Stevan Jovetic can be like a new £22m signing for the rest of the season

Stepping in – Stevan Jovetic can be like a new £22m signing for the rest of the season

Just over a year on and Lopes is the man of the moment after a Man of the Match performance in another 3-0 victory, this time against West Ham in the midweek Capital One Cup Semi Final 2nd leg.

He has every chance of starting the match as Pellegrini looks to keep some of his more experienced campaigners fresh for a demanding trip to Tottenham on Wednesday night.

The Watford game could also be an ideal opportunity for Jovetic and Rodwell – used as substitutes against the Hammers – to come in as starters. It’s a ready made stage for Jovetic, with Negredo out recovering from a shoulder injury.

Sitting it out - David Silva should be available for the Spurs game on Wednesday

Sitting it out – David Silva should be available for the Spurs game on Wednesday

David Silva will be another absentee as he rests a hamstring niggle, but Pellegrini is hoping both key Spaniards will be available for the Londoner double header.

Watford – with newly appointed manager, the relatively unknown Beppe Sannino – are a much changed side from the Championship promotion chasers of last season. Strikers Troy Deeney and Fernando Forestieri – who did appear at the Etihad – are likely to prove the main threat, as City must guard against complacency.

Anything other than a home win – not necessarily by four, five or even six goals – would constitute a shock.

Foresight - it's a BIG ask but could Vinny be lifting four trophies by mid-May?

Foresight – it’s a BIG ask but could Vinny be lifting four trophies by mid-May?

If the media are still banging on about the quadruple come Sunday afternoon it’ll mean job done and move onto the next element – the infinitely more important six Premier League points on offer against a resurgent Spurs and a dangerous Chelsea.

But it’ll be a cold day in hell before Manuel circles the wagon – one look at City’s PL goal difference of +38 tells you the best form of defence is attack.




By David Walker




  1. January 24, 2014  6:09 pm by Graham Ward Reply

    Rotation and familiarity will be the theme tomorrow, I think. All the tickets have been sold, I've seen on Twitter, which is a good effort, but helped by a sensible price structure.
    My XI is Pants, Richards, Dimichelis, Lescott, Clichy, Garcia, Rodwell, Milner, Lopes, Aguero, Dzeko.
    Sub (outfield) Zabaleta, Nasty, Kolarov, Fernie, Huws, Jovetic (Although I wouldn't be surprised if Navas replaces Huws)
    Having said that, Navas did look a little off the pace on Tuesday night, for me. 3-0 City.

    • January 24, 2014  7:23 pm by David Walker Reply

      3-0 - that'll do nicely - to eat in or take away. Decent selection enough selection- that'll get the job done one would hope.

  2. January 24, 2014  6:13 pm by Andy Devereux Reply

    Well put again David, I must agree completely the rotation of our squad this season has been bang on.It seems that every game there are a number of changes and on the old social networks all you see when the team is announced is "wow! Strong team today".Barring a ruck of injuries long may this continue.#TrustOurMP

    • January 24, 2014  7:25 pm by David Walker Reply

      Totally endorsed. I'd love it, love it, if MP stuffs Jose to the PL title after motormouth Mourinho was so disrespectful to Pellers in Spain.

  3. January 24, 2014  6:20 pm by carol Reply

    I don't mind Mancini taking a bit of credit, whoever and whatever went before have all lead up to where we are now so I for one wouldn't begrudge him a little bask in reflected glory. And I'm sure MP isn't bothered, he doesn't seem to let anything get under his skin. Trust our Dave Allen...erm I mean MP

    • January 24, 2014  7:26 pm by David Walker Reply

      Who are you to do any finger pointing...Dave Allen indeed! #TrustOurMP

      Cheers Blondie

  4. January 24, 2014  6:21 pm by Alan Baxter Reply

    Looking forward to tomorrow. I'm hoping to see Lopes continue where he left off, I think Dzeko and Jovetic may start although I wouldn't be surprised to see Sergio for the 1st half. I'm pleased that Fernandinho picked up the December player of the month his performances certainly merit it. I may see you there David. Keep on blogging blue!

    • January 24, 2014  7:29 pm by David Walker Reply

      I think Jovetic will start - the sooner the better - and let's see what the fella can do. Dzeko should be nailed on with the Beast nursing his injury. We can never take anything for granted, but surely to goodness this is a home win irrespective of who MP selects from his squad. Thanks again AB.

  5. January 24, 2014  7:47 pm by DOUG HENSHAW Reply

    Looking forward to the game tomorrow hope Rodwell, Jovetic, Lopes, Milner& Richards get a start. Dezko should return possible alongside Agueroooooooo. I still think to many changes makes the team start slowly but what do i know. #TrustOurMP

    • January 24, 2014  8:20 pm by David Walker Reply

      Probably true BUT as long as they're nicely warmed up by 2nd half! Cheers.

  6. January 24, 2014  10:15 pm by Ed Reply

    Talk in the media of a quadruple is starting to bug me as if we manage to achieve a double it will leave us open to "yeah well you failed on the quadruple" remarks. Let's keep it going tomorrow though, going for another 3-0.

    • January 25, 2014  12:11 am by David Walker Reply

      If we win the PL who gives a monkeys? Anything else is a bonus but we're good enough to bag 2 or 3 trophies, maybe even an unprecedented 4. Lest we forget we went 35 years after we won the 1976 League Cup, so do some jaundiced journalists really think we're going to cry if we 'only' win the title, double or treble?

  7. January 25, 2014  12:20 pm by Mole Rocks Reply

    We are blessed with talent which is giving MP the option to rotate the squad.

    Would still like City to buy a top class central defender in the window just to be safe.

    3-0 seems like a popular choice of result and I'd be very happy with that.

    Here's to MP's positive mental attitude spreading throughout the City players, while we take it one game at a time!

    • January 25, 2014  7:21 pm by David Walker Reply

      Some of that talent misfired today but MP put it right at HT - very astute manager - I think we are blessed.

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