Sky Blue redemption – Man City v Man Utd

Halloween came early to the Etihad this week with a horrific display of premature capitulation as Newcastle United shot two rounds of live ammunition past Willy, dumping a bunch of Manchester City wonkers out of the League Cup.

Wonky - It all went wrong for Willy Caballero & Co against Newcastle. Courtesy@MCFC

Wonky – It all went wrong for Willy Caballero & Co against Newcastle. Courtesy@MCFC

Under fire Manuel Pellegrini must now stiffen City’s resolve, light the sky blue touch paper and orchestrate a pyrotechnical pulverization of Manchester United.

There can be no better way to illuminate City’s recently dimmed fortunes than producing a blinding display against the Dark Side.

Vincent Kompany & Co have to take personal and collective responsibility to get City back on an upward trajectory. It’s far too easy to heap all the criticism on Pellegrini – the on-field duds and blanks must be exposed and eradicated from Manchester City’s supply of munitions before the season implodes.

Incoming - Pellegrini is under pressure after two losses and a dismal draw in City's last three games. Courtesy@MCFC

Incoming – Pellegrini is under pressure after two losses and a dismal draw in City’s last three games. Courtesy@MCFC

The match up with Manure’s Gaalactico’s is a must win and City’s sole focus. CSKA and any Champions League fireworks can wait until Monday morning.

For decades Manchester City’s supporters suffered through thin, thin and anorexic times, the battle hardened diehards earning their badges of honour at glamorous outposts such as Lincoln’s Sincil Bank and York’s Bootham Crescent.

It was muck and bullets, trench warfare football, hand-to-hand combat for those who ‘wore the shirt’. It was an existence light years removed from the sophisticated tactics and strategies, bowling green work surfaces and ridiculously pampered lifestyle of today’s players.

Will the real Yaya please stand up. City need him back in form against United. Courtesy@MCFC

Will the real Yaya please stand up. City need him back in form against United. Courtesy@MCFC

Irrespective of opulence or poverty, success or failure, the one omnipresent factor that true City fans seek from any player is effort – a sweat drenched shirt and body language that screams volumes of an individual’s commitment to the cause.

City fans love a ‘tryer’ and, despite the joy and wonderment of two Premier League titles and two domestic cups in four years, any player who is prepared to be a passenger is identified and ostracized.

James Milner stood out in Wednesday’s lamentable loss to the Toon – the Barcodes first success over City in nine years and 18 games.

True Grit - James Milner gives everything in a City shirt...others take note! Courtesy @MCFC

True Grit – James Milner gives everything in a City shirt…others take note! Courtesy @MCFC

‘Jimmy’ is a credit to the City shirt. He doesn’t short change his employers or the fans. He chases lost causes, he tracks back, he’s unselfish, he gets ‘stuck in’ and of course, he’s a talented England international and established Premier League performer.

Quite rightly, City are mega-keen for Milner to sign a new contract and commit himself to the club for the next four years. He deserves the recognition and reward, but lest we forget, the fact he is ‘homegrown’ is not an insignificant factor.

The fact that he is often cited by many as City’s outstanding performer of recent times is a paradoxical reflection as to why the team are not top of the Premier League, or brushing aside the likes of AS Roma and CSKA Moscow in the Champions League.

Who gets the nod? Will Jovetic start in Silva's absence? Courtesy@MCFC

Who gets the nod? Will Jovetic start in Silva’s absence? Courtesy@MCFC

Milner is a great asset to City but in terms of pure technical playing ability and the capacity to influence a game he should – should – be well behind the likes of Yaya Toure.

Yaya’s eventful summer including farce and tragedy in equal measure, has cast a shadow over his future at City, mirrored in some mediocre displays amid growing levels of frustration and exasperation at his failure to consistently deliver the goods.

Perhaps it’s unrealistic to expect him to emulate the scintillating form of 2013/14 when he should have been the Football Writer’s and PFA Player of the Year. Nonetheless, Yaya is, rightly or wrongly, perceived as the embodiment of City’s present malaise.

His languid manner has, in the past, been counterbalanced by an unstoppable stampeding style, one that rips the opposition apart as he steams through teams in runaway juggernaut mode.

More of this please Yaya - can the Ivorian colossus strike United down? Courtesy@MCFC

More of this please Yaya – can the Ivorian colossus strike United down? Courtesy@MCFC

It’s about time City’s talismanic Ivorian colossus stepped up to be counted and lead by example. Undeniably a ‘big-game’ player, Yaya has an opportunity to truly redeem himself in the eyes of tens of thousands of City fans in this, the 159th Manchester derby.

With David Silva missing for the next month or so, Yaya needs to pick up the baton and orchestrate affairs.

Merlin’s absence will be a bitter, but not necessarily insurmountable, loss and it isn’t as if Pellegrini doesn’t have options.

Sad sight - David Silva limps out of first team contention for at least three weeks. Courtesy@MCFC

Sad sight – David Silva limps out of first team contention for at least three weeks. Courtesy@MCFC

Does the Chilean persevere with Aguero and Dzeko up front and give a lively Stevan Jovetic a start in Silva’s place? Does the City boss put his faith in Samir Nasri, plunged into the lacklustre Capital Punishment Cup performance in midweek, after returning from surgery?

Alternatively, does the thus far widely trusted MP, opt for a sole striker and play Yaya just behind him, bolstered by a four man midfield of Fernando, Fernandinho, Milner and Nasri?

Truth is, City are constantly overrun in the middle of the park by teams who have more numbers, a greater desire to win and a stronger work ethic.

French Connection - Nasri can kick start his season with a Manchester derby win. Courtesy@MCFC

French Connection – Nasri can kick start his season with a Manchester derby win. Courtesy@MCFC

It could be Pellegrini’s rigid formations, his attacking philosophies and less than pragmatic approach that is to blame. Equally, there are players who need to look across at the likes of Milner and match him for intensity and application.

We’ve seen West Ham and Newcastle end long losing, or at least, not winning, streaks over City, in the past few days.

It’s often stated that misfortune comes in ‘3s’ – so let’s hope that the CSKA away fiasco was the first instalment, and City being killed off by a murder of Magpies was the last.

If City’s run of three consecutive Premier League ‘derby’ wins comes to a shuddering halt by mid-afternoon Sunday, Pellegrini’s men will be trailing Chelsea by a significant margin – seven, God forbid, nine points.

What a feeling - let's do it again Vinny. Courtesy@MCFC

What a feeling – let’s do it again Vinny. Courtesy@MCFC

Yes, 84 points would still be up for grabs, but how often does Mourinho allow a sizeable advantage slip? Answer; he doesn’t.

City have had a challenging opening to their title defence with games against Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs, winning two and deserving maximum points in the others.

No matter which way you look at it, City have the wrong mentality when playing against teams perceived as being less of a threat. Complacency, even arrogance, must figure in the equation and it has to be eradicated.

Yaya and more recently, Dzeko are the players targeted for under-performing but some of City’s ‘untouchables’, the likes of Zabaleta and Kompany, have also fallen below their own impeccable standards at times this season.

Edin hands - Dzeko has a good scoring record against United, it needs to improve further. Courtesy@MCFC

Edin hands – Dzeko has a good scoring record against United, it needs to improve further. Courtesy@MCFC

City’s purchases from Porto, Fernando and Mangala – at nearly £50m – are still finding their feet in a foreign land and a league where the game is played way above the tempo in Portugal.

But it’s that word – tempo – which is the key to City winning the derby, gaining confidence and reviving a rapidly flagging season.

The cornerstone of both Premier League winning campaigns has been one-touch, pass and go football. What we have at present is an infuriating brand of go-slow tiki-taka e.g. how many ways can we try and walk the ball into the net?

Two fists of iron - Sergio is City's all time Premier League top scorer and shows no signs of stopping. Courtesy@MCFC

Two fists of iron – Sergio is City’s all time Premier League top scorer and shows no signs of stopping. Courtesy@MCFC

Louis Van Gaal is his usual bullish self, talking up United’s chances, courtesy of the attacking dimensions presented by Di Maria, Van Persie and Rooney. Falcao will be absent.

Di Maria is the danger and in fairness, probably the only United player Pellegrini would’ve liked in his starting XI. Who’s to say the Angel of The Swamp wouldn’t have been in sky blue had it not been for UEFA’s ridiculous Financial Unfair Play rules?

City’s constantly rotating back four has led to a lack of cohesion and unpredictable defending. This gives the Reds genuine hope at the Etihad.

Get with the programme - Come on Sergio, let's make it a derby day to celebrate. Courtesy@MCFC

Get with the programme – Come on Sergio, let’s make it a derby day to celebrate. Courtesy@MCFC

But, take one look at United’s misshapen rearguard and it’s easy to see why Sergio Aguero and Edin, both with four goals in five games against the Trafford Trogolodytes, are looking forward to Sunday lunchtime.

Surging Aguero - Can Sergio add to his four goals in five outings against the Reds? Courtesy@MCFC

Surging Aguero – Can Sergio add to his four goals in five outings against the Reds? Courtesy@MCFC

It’s a match up that is bound to have goals and despite City’s shortcomings thus far, and United’s steadily increasing delusion that they are on the way back, the Champions will be up for this one.

The road to sky blue redemption has to begin in M11 3FF in the next 24-hours. Anything less will put City on the road to nowhere in 2015.



By David Walker 

Dedications for three true blues who’ll be missing from the derby day proceedings – Ian Jones, who answers to the nickname of  ‘JTP – Jones The Post’ now recovering from major surgery, and his lady Tracy Stevenson who’ll be at his hospital bedside. Also a mention in dispatches for Liam Stirrup – better known to many as ‘Stiz’ – MCFC graphic artist & video blogger, ruled out by illness. @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu


  1. November 1, 2014  7:07 pm by Doug Henshaw Reply

    Hi Dave Wendsdays performance was not only awful but unacceptable against a 2nd string Newcastle we should walked it. But what's done is done & on we move two big games both are must win games. I just hope the manager & the team take a long hard look at them selves MP needs to stop being so stubborn & realise when something is not working & be prepared to change things sooner rather then later. The players need to realise what it means to play in that blue shirt & put the effort back in that was missing on Wendsday. That performance was unacceptable to me & lots of other city fans. THESE ARE MUST WIN GAMES.

    • November 1, 2014  8:29 pm by David Walker Reply

      It was incredibly poor, puzzling, perplexing you name it. There was even a rumour that City didn't want to continue in the competition for fear of fixture congestion. Sounds like a load of 'warlocks' given the team MP fielded. No fear of congestion if we don't win the next three Champions League games. Hindsight's a wonderful thing but why oh why did MP play Silva against the Toon? I like the manager, bloody hell that's obvious from the blog, but it's time for him to show what he is made of and how he can set his team up, both tactically and from a motivational stance.

  2. November 1, 2014  8:52 pm by pete lynch Reply

    Took 2 first timers to match on Wednesday. Oh dear! I pray we turn up and destroy utd. Pleaseeeee blues, pleaseeeee

    • November 1, 2014  8:57 pm by David Walker Reply


  3. November 1, 2014  9:38 pm by Glenn Kavanagh Reply

    Hi there, I was really sick (again) after the result against Newcastle. We are way off were we ought to be. There's probably a hundred different reasons/theories/ experts etc etc. Surely the place that we can only start at is the training pitch. (A very expensive one at that, holy sh*t) the attitude is totally wrong from the players. They are not grafting anywhere near enough. They need to work hard from the front back.(tevez) all good teams work hard off the ball. If the attitude/tempo is not right you end up with a team of 11 Adam Johnson's. No thanks, I feel the clash between the 42 & filani will be vital, jovetic is due a goal. Come on the moon of Kentucky make it blue... Make me sing with mark knopfler on guitar.

    • November 1, 2014  9:57 pm by David Walker Reply

      If City win I'll give you Money For Nothing - cheers GK!

  4. November 1, 2014  10:40 pm by Susan Bookbinder Reply

    Hope you're right David; redemption would be good! Thanks for a lovely read as always, keep going, your writing is a joy and brings so much pleasure, as well as the expression of righteous indignation! Hope to wake up to a celebratory report on here on Monday!

    • November 1, 2014  11:21 pm by David Walker Reply

      It would be nice to be right once in a while, albeit for the greater good ;-) I take no pleasure in criticising City, be it the manager, the players or the club overall, but to ignore the blindingly obvious would be sychophantic and sod that for a game of soldiers. Whatever I do , I do from the heart because Manchester City plays a disproportionately large part in my life. Maybe I'll grow out of it when I become a grown up :-) Once again thanks for taking the time to read RBNR,but even more so for commenting. I value all of those who feelo minded to give feedback, even if it isn't always complimentary. Gratitude.

  5. November 1, 2014  11:31 pm by Graham Ward Reply

    It was a truly sad sight to see Silva walk off after a couple of minutes on Wednesday - we were poor, Newcastle were excellent, and really deserved their win.
    On the night, the game management went out of the window as it meant Nasri would probably not complete the game - so it proved.
    Tomorrow is a game we dare not lose. I don't think we will - 2-1 to City.

    • November 1, 2014  11:48 pm by David Walker Reply

      When it's three PL titles in four seasons and the CL QF or SF achieved, we can look back on last Wednesday and smile...or something like that! 2-1 will do just but I think we'll win by 2! Cheers GW.

  6. November 2, 2014  1:36 am by Toby Teasdale Reply

    This will be the windbag’s first Derby, same goes for half his team too. They’ll be as nervous as small nuns at a penguin shoot. On the other hand to the majority of City’s team has experience not only playing Derbies, but of winning them too. The only things that will stop that continuing are complacency, poor tactics or what referee Michael Oliver has for breakfast!

    • November 2, 2014  6:58 am by David Walker Reply

      Funny analogy TT but how do the good sisters and Mother Superior resemble chocolate biscuits? You're getting into some bad habits in your old age. Sound observations and time for City's class and experience to triumph. I would say I'm concerned that Michael Oliver is in charge. Since breaking into the ranks of elite referees in this country young Michael's performances have steadily declined. He looked a top official at one stage but he appears to have based his style on a certain banned (sadly only temporarily) Mark Clattenburg. What are the odds that United get a dodgy penalty - maybe we should consult Mike Dean, he's been known to dabble in the gambling game hasn't he ALLEGEDLY (for any libel lawyers having a RBNR read)? I think it's 11 v 12 already. Me, paranoid? Don't be daft (don't look now but they're watching) ;-)

  7. November 2, 2014  7:56 am by GeorgeInIsrael Reply

    Sooner or later (I hope), the real City team from last season is going to turn up. What better match to do so than against Stretford Rovers? Apart from anything else, I don't want to see my rag supporting (don't ask why, it's a long story) brother start his chirping on Sunday afternoon.

    • November 2, 2014  8:06 am by David Walker Reply

      Why George? ;-) Let's hope you have brotherly bragging rights by the end of the day...if not sooner :-)

  8. November 2, 2014  9:54 am by susan richardson Reply

    Someone is due a drubbing hopefully it will be the history boys today. It's not so much losing as the manner and I note we've got the sulky Dzeko back never a good omen. Everything crossed earn your money today⚽

    • November 3, 2014  8:51 am by David Walker Reply

      It could and should have been 4-0, 5-0, 6-0...3 stonewall penalties, Navas should have buried his first opportunity and then he hit the post, but we beat the Red Scum and that was the objective of the exercise.

  9. November 2, 2014  10:25 am by Richard Cooper Reply

    Very good article and totally sums up the under performances of the last 10 days and quite correctly you praised the work ethic of Jimmy Milner.
    There is no better day to silence the critics after that woeful night last Wednesday
    And if when we see sight of the goal just "bloody hit it" don't make one pass to many.
    Up the A34 now with hope and more than a bit of expectation

    • November 3, 2014  8:53 am by David Walker Reply

      Thanks RC - Great having the win and the points. It made the 4 hour drive home utterly and totally palatable. Now, let's smash the repugnant Russians.

      • November 3, 2014  10:42 am by Toby Teasdale Reply

        Van Gall must splash more cash. Had it been Suarez instead of Fellaini spitting, at Aguero he would have got a life ban.

        Another rag constantly 'gobbing' was 'Fatman'. We all laughed when someone in the row behind announced it was the first time he had ever seen a player man marking the referee!

        • November 3, 2014  9:07 pm by David Walker Reply

          Fellaini is disgusting and the wag in your part of the ground is an observational comedian of the highest calibre ;-)

  10. November 3, 2014  3:54 pm by Toby Teasdale Reply

    The appropriately named Fellatioini has previous as far as players he has grounded are concerned.

    Last year and Zabaleta;

    When will someone give him the slapping he so richly deserves?

    • November 3, 2014  9:08 pm by David Walker Reply

      In answer to your question, if as and when I can get close enough!

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