Spasibo…for nothing City – Man City 1 CSKA Moscow 2

Any alphabetical analysis of Manchester City’s ‘performance’ against a horrible bunch of Russians would go something like this;

A – abject, appalling, atrocious, awful.

B – bloody abject, bloody appalling, bloody atrocious, bloody awful…you get the gist!

UEFA hypocrisy - paying lip service to kicking out racism - what a rotten organisation, corrupt to the core. Courtesy@MCFC

UEFA hypocrisy – paying lip service to kicking out racism – what a rotten organisation, corrupt to the core. Courtesy@MCFC

Even the most diehard City fan would be hard pressed to find anything positive about such a clueless, gutless and witless showing… bloody hell, even those who turned up on a free ticket will be demanding a refund!

This was City’s worst performance in the Champions League in four seasons – the biggest disappointment in Europe’s top competition, since being ignominiously dispatched by Turkey’s Fenebahce in the old European Cup in 1969.

Ironically I had a foreign gentleman sitting by me in the Colin Bell Stand last night. I asked if he was Russian on the basis he was heading for a sharp exit, but no, he was Turkish and he had his Fenebahce scarf on to prove his credentials.

Uphill battle - Vinny & Co will struggle to get out of Group E after defeat by CSKA. Courtesy@MCFC

Uphill battle – Vinny & Co will struggle to get out of Group E after defeat by CSKA. Courtesy@MCFC

He, like most of the 45,143 crowd, was bewildered as to how a City side awash with world class players such as Kompany, Yaya and Aguero, could succumb to an, at best, ordinary CSKA Moscow team, in such a pitiful and ill-disciplined manner.

Always an advocate of Manuel Pellegrini, staunch City supporter and one not given to knee-jerk reactions, I am now having serious doubts about the hitherto trusted MP.

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that City’s Chilean boss isn’t a master tactician. Worryingly he has emerged, in recent times, as a one-trick pony, or taken to the equine extremes, a bit of an ass.

Running on empty - Pellegrini needs to re-energise his listless side. Courtesy@MCFC

Running on empty – Pellegrini needs to re-energise his listless side. Courtesy@MCFC

Once again City’s ‘midfield’ went missing in action, affording little protection for an increasingly vulnerable defence and limited service for an isolated Sergio Aguero.

Yes, it’s wonderfully entertaining to see your team score 156 goals as City did last season, but titles always rest on a solid defensive structure.

Unless Pellegrini can conjure up something to break his stride pattern, he’s sprinting towards the status of a dead man walking, not because City are six points off the top of the Premier League, but because of their ineptitude in the Champions League.

Perversely, the overwhelming majority of City fans would still take PL success over CL glory. Not so City owner Sheikh Mansour. The kudos that comes with being Europe’s top team is what he craves…and who can blame him?

Penalty denied - Sergio should have had a 90th minute spot kick. Courtesy@MCFC

Penalty denied – Sergio should have had a 90th minute spot kick. Courtesy@MCFC

Lording it over the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich is ultimately what it is all about from the Abu Dhabi perspective. It’s a global showcase coupling the United Arab Emirates with the best of the best in the most popular sport on the planet.

For the fans, the CL is an irritation born of frustration with the team’s shortcomings, but more tellingly with a total mistrust of the entire competition.

UEFA is riddled with corruption, the draw for the Group stages is manipulated in favour of a cartel of established clubs and games are officiated by hapless or simply ‘bent’ referees.

Yes, City fans are paranoid about the Champions League, and with good reason. Groups of Death are regular occurrences, and truly ‘criminal’ refereeing calls the norm.

Malaka - novice Greek referee Tossos Offolot screwed up big time. Courtesy@MCFC

Malaka – novice Greek referee Tossos Offolot screwed up big time. Courtesy@MCFC

Greek rookie ref Tasos Sidiropoulos – pronounced Tossos Offolot – was no different to a procession of dictatorial men in black – sometimes yellow – who have been harsh on City.

He truly earned his cat calls of ‘Malaka’ from the home supporters by conveniently booking Sergio Ignaeshevich, and failing to send of CSKA’s Pontus Wembloom for a second bookable offence.

Allegedly a case of mistaken identity, despite the protests of City players.

He denied City a fourth stonewall penalty in four days when Sergio Aguero was felled in the box in the last few seconds. It didn’t help however that Aguero had dived a few moments early – something completely out of character for the Argentine striker.

Shoot to thrill - sadly Sergio couldn't add to his 13 goals so far this season. Courtesy@MCFC

Shoot to thrill – sadly Sergio couldn’t add to his 13 goals so far this season. Courtesy@MCFC

It could have meant City scraped a draw but that should never have even been on the agenda, let alone a loss.

In fairness to Mr Tossos Offolot both Fernandinho and Yaya deserved to be sent off. Yaya’s litany of petulant behaviour, which he normally gets away with in the Premier League, finally caught up with him as he raised his hand to an opponent’s face and pushed him over.

But and it’s a HUGE BUT, the unpalatable truth that Sheikh Mansour, Pellegrini, the players and the fans must swallow, is that Manchester City are simply not up to it in the Champions League.

Hope - Yaya smashed a trademark free kick to make it 1-1. Courtesy@MCFC

Hope – Yaya smashed a trademark free kick to make it 1-1. Courtesy@MCFC

The Premier League is regarded by many as the richest, glamorous and most competitive in Europe, and yet City are presently faring as the worst champions of the top seven leagues, with a meagre two points from four CL group fixtures.

Champs don’t just become chumps overnight and victories over Liverpool, Spurs and Manchester United, along with draws with Arsenal and Chelsea, show City are still contenders for a third domestic title in four years.

So what the hell happens to an undoubtedly talented squad of players and a manager who has been to a semi final and two quarter finals, when it comes to the Champions League?

Slumped - Joe's body language reflects City's Champion's League form. Courtesy@MCFC

Slumped – Joe’s body language reflects City’s Champion’s League form. Courtesy@MCFC

Pellegrini has spoken of a ‘crisis of confidence’ and admits it is ‘difficult to understand the level of performance’.

He stoically, correctly but perhaps deludedly, states that City could yet crawl into the knockout stages with wins against Bayern Munich at home and AS Roma way, and hope other results go their way.

On last night’s evidence City have as much chance as a one-legged man winning an arse-kicking competition… but hope has to spring eternal.

Done at the double by Doumbia. Courtesy@MCFC

Done at the double by Doumbia. Courtesy@MCFC

Skipper Vincent Kompany was defiant on social media tweeting: ‘When no one believes anymore it’s my role to still believe…#MCFC #UsAgainstThe Word #KeepThe Faith’

Fighting talk from the Belgian Boulder, but rather than being built on solid foundations, City performances are decidedly rocky.

Hero to zero...again - Yaya scored a cracker before seeing red. Courtesy@MCFC

Hero to zero…again – Yaya scored a cracker before seeing red. Courtesy@MCFC

Yaya – his excellent equaliser apart – put in another lacklustre showing capped by his sending off. He allowed his Ivory Coast team mate Seydou Doumbia a free header in the second minute to put CSKA one up. Yaya was supposed to be marking him but instead, he was away with the fairies – oblivious to the danger.

Gael Clichy, outstanding in the Manchester derby played more like Gail Tilsley from Coronation Street. He gifted possession to Moscow in the 34th minute and could only watch as Doumbia slotted past Joe Hart from 15 yards out.

Fernando gave another below par showing, requiring too much time on the ball and playing crab-like with more square balls than a Picasso painting.

Gael or Gail - Clichy had a stinker! Courtesy@MCFC

Gael or Gail – Clichy had a stinker! Courtesy@MCFC

Aguero was literally inches away from connecting with a Milner cross, which would have made it 2-2 in the second half, before Dino and Yaya departed in the space of 11 minutes.

Once again the match statistics told a different story. City had 63% possession and 15 attempts on goal compared to CSKA’s seven. City completed 701 passes – nearly 300 more than the Muscovites – a case of quantity over quality.

When will the message sink in about City’s slow motion interpretation of tiki-taka play? Do it fast or don’t bother, as the actress may have said to the bishop!

If City somehow turn this wretched run of form around, starting at QPR on Saturday evening, it’ll be a joy to do another alphabetical analysis, but this time in reverse starting with the letter ‘Z’;

Z – zeal, zenith, zest, zing…

God help us if it’s Zzzzzzzzzzz! WAKE UP CITY!



By David Walker @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu


  1. November 6, 2014  8:42 pm by Ed Reply

    Can't help feeling that our summer transfer dealings have taken us backwards even with one arm behind our back due to FFP. Is Pellegrini going to be allowed to spend in January?

    • November 6, 2014  8:57 pm by David Walker Reply

      In fairness Ed any signings will be a collaboration between Txiki and MP, maybe even Ferran. Our ills cannot all be laid at Manuel's door. I hope we spend BIG now we are free of the heaviest of the FFP shackles.

  2. November 6, 2014  8:54 pm by Doug Sharp Reply

    Well said David. You summed up my feelings brilliantly. Doubts are creeping in with MP for the reasons you rightly list. What hope is there if he can't motivate his players? His signings are yet to convince. On last night's performance Sunday's win underlines how poor Manure are - some salvation there but not much.

    • November 6, 2014  9:00 pm by David Walker Reply

      I have to crticise MP along with the rest because, as we're always being told, it's #TOGETHER, so we take the brickbats and plaudits in equal measure as a collective. I hate writing articles like this but I'm not about to try and blow smoke up orifices! I want MP to succeed so let's beat QPR and then regroup after the international break.

  3. November 6, 2014  8:54 pm by Susan Bookbinder Reply

    Well done David - you tell it how it is and you're never afraid to do so; I salute your stylish writing as always, even though, your pain is almost palpable.

    • November 6, 2014  9:01 pm by David Walker Reply

      Cheers Suzy B I have the morphine to hand x

  4. November 6, 2014  9:01 pm by blob Reply

    Think you're offbase regarding pellers, he finally didn't change a winning side, something he has been slated for this season, then the players let him down.
    Fernando too, he plays sideways passes, but kept us in the game making many counter stopping challenges, if the 5 guys (+2 fullbacks) ahead of him can't create, why should you expect a purely defensive player to?

    • November 6, 2014  9:12 pm by David Walker Reply

      It's all about opinions - thank you for yours. Appreciate you reading and the feedback.

  5. November 6, 2014  9:19 pm by Mark Reply

    The problem for this latest fiasco is firmly down to the players on the pitch. I might be in a minority, that believes Toure's summer sob stories might just have alienated him, towards some of his team mates, but maybe I'm wrong. Personally speaking getting rid of Pallegrini now, wouldn't be the best way forward either.
    Pep Gaurdiola is constantly being mentioned as a future replacement for Manuel apparently, and according to some inside the club a gentlemans agreement is already in place. If this is the case, what top notch manager would leave their club to replace Pallegrini for the short term.
    City should stand by him, and so should the fans

    • November 6, 2014  10:42 pm by David Walker Reply

      Despite the content of this particular article, there is no way that I am calling for MP to be replaced anytime soon. However, I have always had a hunch that it's more than coincidence that both his and Pep's contracts conclude at the same time. MP would have helped shape the playing systems and the Etihad Campus would be established for Pep to inherit. There's been talk of Vieira being MP's successor but that's a big step for a novice manager.

  6. November 6, 2014  9:31 pm by guy Burke Reply

    I think players, management and fans underestimated cska last night, the Russians who barely had a kick in Moscow came out all guns blazing and City just could not cope .disappointing performances all over the park and from the management . The priority now is retaining the league title starting on Saturday. Qpr must be beaten , i have a feeling Liverpool will get something off Chelsea and reducing the points gap at the top will be an enormous boost to everyone. Some many people are enjoying sticking the boot in on City today , time for us all to regroup and focus on what is still attainable.the season is far from over.

    • November 6, 2014  10:43 pm by David Walker Reply

      With you on all matters Team GB ;-)

  7. November 6, 2014  10:38 pm by Glenn Kavanagh Reply

    No win in 6 - no clean sheets in 11... Man that's awful. No excuses about the ref... V.k & co moaning etc etc. Just desperate. I had to rub my eyes when I seen Clichy's "pass" how is that even possible? Nasri should have being sent off for his cowardly "tackle". V.k is starting to p*** me off with his waffle. The best c.b I've ever seen play Paul McGrath never opened his mouth to a ref. (He was probably too locked) terrible to see the players having a go at the ref. We were beaten by the better team on the day, who deserve great credit for how the played the game. I'm very very impressed by their manager, they should Have won 4-1. I can't wait for the day the 42 leaves us. Ii say no more about him, there is a very well written article by Jason Burt in the telegraph if anyone is interested. Maybe two or three of the lads need to be left out of the squad for a month or so just to send a big message. Milner was a real trooper again. Fair play to him - the rest of the team need a strong shock to the system. Why not?? Their my twins playdoh, only that I like to play with that myself but it doesn't upset me. Still love you city!!!

    • November 6, 2014  10:50 pm by David Walker Reply

      Playdoh has a strange but quite engaging aroma if memory serves me right from yesteryear? Cheers GK I'll go and ferret out Jason Burt's article. Thanks again for reading and commenting.

      PS can you confirm the playdoh comment - it's a smelly business this football blogging!

  8. November 6, 2014  11:38 pm by Blue inc Reply

    Always the same in Champions league nothing has changed in my view but managers.
    MP has a good pedigree in this competition with lesser players so what is happening behind close doors would be more my question.
    Who is calling the shots?MP renowned for giving youth a run out, not seen it this year have you. The club gets rid of a 23 goal striker saying bull like we couldn't register him for Champions League nonsense then loans out home grown John Guidetti? All the blame shouldn't be put on Pellegrini, remember the script given to him by our club when he arrived.
    Pellegrini said: "It is important to me that Brian remains part of the coaching team.
    "He has great football knowledge, knows the league, the players and will be a big part of what we try to achieve.
    So to me if nothing has changed it begs the question is Brian Kidd Managing the team.

    • November 7, 2014  7:54 am by David Walker Reply

      Not for one minute do I believe Kiddo is calling the shots. As for Negredo his wife was giving him so much earache to go back to Spain you wouldn't believe. The Beast has recently made comments detrimental to City about his reasons for leaving which were wide of the mark. It's one thing leaving for family reasons, but quite another when you portray your ex-employer in a bad light just because you've caved in to a spouse. Guidetti isn't good enough for the PL - 3 City managers have had a look at him and none have given him a run in the first team - there HAS to be a reason. A MCFC contact has said he flatters to deceive in inferior leagues e.g. Eredivisie and Scottish PL. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      • November 7, 2014  6:11 pm by Blue inc Reply

        Just watched #askalvaro Yes he sure looks like a man getting earache from his wife when asked about homesickness.. More like he was Nigel de Jonged.
        You say 3 City Managers have looked at him and none gave him a run in the team?
        He was on loan at Feyenoord under Mancini, on his return after 20 goals providing eight assists in 23 games a Brilliant loan spell he was diagnosed with an infected nerve causing him to lose feeling in his right leg. So he couldn't be picked for the squad,He finally returned to playing football on 14 January 2013 when he played in the first half of an Under 21 League match between City and Reading U21s, scoring the opening goal in a 3-1 win. Guidetti scored a further five goals in his next six games for the Development Side, before sucummbing to a knee injury which later required surgery.
        Pellegrini told him he was asking about him when he was manager at Malaga which Guidetti knew about but he was injured at the time. You can see this on City TV MP's first day at our club.
        The way the third Manager you speak of treated Daniel Sturridge whilst at our club who he also thought was not good enough for the PL, it's no surprise he wasn't playing under him, 6 games he gave him whilst on loan at stoke 4 of them from the bench subbed in the other two great Manager that one and great loan deal made by some idiot at the club.
        I keep hearing this NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR THE PREMIER LEAGUE!! SAYS WHO???? You can only score against who is put in front of you which he is doing and keeps on doing no matter who it is against, The French under 21 squad has a lot of good players he put them to the sword did he not just ask Layvin Kurzawa..
        Thanks for the reply.

        • November 8, 2014  1:38 am by David Walker Reply

          You're welcome. We appear to be able to disagree on most things at present. If you choose not to believe what I said about Negredo then that's fine. If you believe Guidetti is good enough to be a top Premier League striker, that's your prerogative. As far as Daniel Sturridge is concerned I would have loved him to have stayed at City. My understanding is that he left because Chelsea gave him something like 40-50%more in wages. I'm not here to defend Mark Hughes - I detest the guy. Thanks for reading.

  9. November 7, 2014  9:03 am by David Kelly Reply

    Tasos Sidiropoulos was enough to drain the confidence from any team. But I really do think that YaYa is going on too much about racism in this competition. I do not condone any racism but what can you do about it if Blatter wont come down heavy on the criminals. As for MP, once the players cross that white line, he can only shout from the side, the players should now come out the next game and batter QPR and that is the only way to say sorry to the poor sods who went there on Wednesday night, spending hard earned cash just before Xmas.
    City players should forgo their wages and put their allotted cash into the Henning fund.
    wake up city before the season ends in January, when we get knocked out of the FA cup, because that's the way it is going.
    CTID onwards and upwards. Rant over.

    • November 7, 2014  10:19 am by David Walker Reply

      Well put and I like the Alan Henning Fund idea - of course it'll never happen! QPR now becomes a banana skin as they have improved as we have slumped. Thought the days of 'Arry having the chance to put one over on us were long gone - I hope they are! We can still win a domestic double and who's to say we can't scrape into the CL last 16...30th May 1999, 2-0 down 90th minute...miracles DO happen.

      Good rant Guvnor ;-)

  10. November 7, 2014  11:07 am by JamesHouseOlogy Reply

    Trust our MP? now as tag line, is right..... don't think supporters and the board alike will tolerate many more poor performances, of course not all can be laid at MP door, responsibility lays with the squad and individual performances as way below par something we have struggled with all season thus far and really with our squad of players we can should and have every right to expect more.... the crisis of confidence is a muse to what are the real issues behind the dressing room door and that needs to be addressed tomorrow afternoon with a confident win and players showing they really do care!!! We're closing in now to the January transfer window and without the FFP shackles as you say David time to see out the dead wood and bring in fresh eager talent, could our players getting complacent and to comfortable thinking that they're place will always be safe.... we don't want to become another Liverpool and one man band suffering as Silva is not playing we have a team "on paper" capable of achieving greatness.... time the players showed respect to the club and proving there worth they're pay checks!!!

  11. November 7, 2014  11:40 am by Toby Teasdale Reply

    There can be no excuses for the abysmal 'Moscow Night' damp squib.

    So what is going wrong and where does it leave us going forward?

    Complying with FFP has proved inconvenient to City but not apparently PSG, who top their group (which includes Barcelona). I am not an anorak but PSG have built a team that has a real chance of success in the Champions League while we struggle. Is it that Laurent Blanc is so superior to MP. I don't think so. Maybe the reason is more fundamental!

    I am not an anorak, but since October 2012 (when Txiki Bergiristan appeared at the Etihad), City have recruited;

    Fernando , Sagna, Caballero, Zuculini (21 years), Mangala, Navas, Jovetic, Negredo, Demichelis, Rodwell, Sinclair, Wright, Maicon, Garcia, Nastasic, Fernandinho,
    Whilst PSG added;
    Aurier (on loan), Bahebeck (21 years), Rabiot. (19 years), Marquinhos (20 years), Cavani, Cabaye, Luiz, Verratti, Lavezzi, Silva, Ibrahimovic, Rouag, El Baillal, van der Wiel,

    PSG have strengthened whilst we have regressed.

    During Bergiristan era nobody has emerged from our junior teams (the main excuse for getting rid of Mancini). So laying all the blame on MP would wrong. The Spaniard must take his share of the blame, particular for the crap he dumped on Mancini in 2013!

    • November 7, 2014  12:55 pm by David Walker Reply

      An excellent parallel TT - I was thinking of doing a piece on MP's transfer hits and misses and Txiki is an integral part - if not the catalyst - of all, if not most of the deals. He arrived at City with a big reputation for geting big deals over the line and replaced Marwood. Maybe it was an easy job selling a Barcelona in their pomp to the big stars in world football - I reckon even I could manage it.

    • November 8, 2014  12:23 am by Blue inc Reply

      Rodwell, Sinclair, Wright, Maicon, Garcia, Nastasic, were all signed before Txiki Begiristain had walked through the door On 28 October 2012 all the players mentioned above arrived August 2012. Marwood was the Guy in charge of buying at that time so it was him that dumped the crap on Mancini not Txiki..
      If your going to do a piece on it David, facts would be preferred..

      • November 8, 2014  12:41 am by David Walker Reply

        I have yet to even embark on said article so thanks for the update. Sincerity over sarcasm would be preferred ;-)

  12. November 7, 2014  1:47 pm by Richard Cooper Reply

    There is only one word for Wednesday - Awful
    The present scenario is becoming to regular. At WHU away, second half in Moscow, Newcastle and again on Wednesday - We allow teams to happily sit back and soak it up, whilst we dither around with pretty but ineffective football, and when the opportunity occurs they "have a go at us" and can easily rip through the midfield and wobbly defence.
    To quote a line from a song "When will they ever learn"
    The committed if not our best performance against ManU I hoped would signal the start of better things, but alas the shortcomings of the pre ManU 10 days were patently obvious.
    The referee was poor : The handball against Clichy was perhaps harsh but the woeful defending from the free kick and the dreadful ball from Clichy and the sending off of Ferna and YaYa were not the referee's fault.
    I think MP should show us a Plan B - direct attacking football with a solid defence as Plan A has "run it's course".
    Even the ever optimistic Mrs C was grumpy coming home on Wedenesday.
    I am not that arrogant I expect City to win every game but anything less than an upbeat, high tempo 90+ minutes against QPR will be unacceptable, in a game that we should win providing the team are "up for it".
    From Sunday for a few days, we shall be away from internet accessability, but hopefully I can scan your blog and other reader comments in a Keswick pub and say " That's more like it City - We'll have another pint !"

    • November 8, 2014  1:30 am by David Walker Reply

      Hopefully you can sink several 'jars' and toast MP and the boys on Saturday evening, but steer away from Russian leaves a very nasty aftertaste.

  13. November 7, 2014  3:46 pm by Graham Ward Reply

    Very poor against CSKA, we made them look good. Almost certainly done and dusted in Europe this year, we badly need the win at QPR.

    • November 8, 2014  12:58 am by David Walker Reply

      Indeed we do! One can only imagine how smug we'll be IF we scrape into the last 16 of Chumps League. CTWD.

  14. November 7, 2014  5:11 pm by goonermichael Reply

    Didn't see your game just read your report. You should know by now that clichy is an accident waiting to happen. he cost us enough times. Next season the seeding changes which should get you a better draw. Don't hold your breath with the refs though.

    • November 8, 2014  12:57 am by David Walker Reply

      Clichy was excellent against Manure and manure against CSKA. Left back is definitely our weak spot.

  15. November 7, 2014  7:18 pm by DOUGLAS HENSHAW Reply

    Apologies David for the late comment. What the hell happened on Wednesday couldnt belive what I was watching to say we were poor is an understament. We beat this team 5-2 last year you would hardly believe it poor right from the off. I have to say I have lost faith with MP started with 2 up front which didnt work( did you realise were the only team in the comp that plays with 2 up front ) Why he left it till half time to change is beyond me but change he did forward off midfielder on then unbelievable he changed it back I couldn't believe it nor could any of the folk round me. The blame is not all MP the players really need to take a look at themselves that performance was unacceptable. Should MP go thankfully not my call time will tell I guess but I think its time to say thank you to Yaya & goodbye I honestly think we have seen the best of him. Next to me was a dad & his young son his son was in tears & his dad was doing his best to console him with no affect I wish MP &the team could of seen what there poor performance was doing to this young lad David. Where do we go from here I really dont know. Excellent piece again David but what a shame you had to write it.

    • November 8, 2014  12:56 am by David Walker Reply

      I didn't like writing it Doug, believe me. I agree, I think it's time we sold Yaya - £25m? Any takers I wonder, but we need his replacement(s) in first e.g. Barkley, Pogba, but that's easier said than done.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

Farewell to The King

A Manchester City team wearing sky blue shirts, each bearing the number 8, will tonight pay homage to arguably the club’s greatest ever player. The tribute to Colin Bell – King[...]

The life of Citizen Riley

Manchester City kick off their Premier League campaign at The Hawthorns with the 2,700-strong travelling support hoping City will bounce the Boing Boing Baggies and bag three preci[...]