Time to balance the Bavarian books – Man City v Bayern Munich

If a team was a victory away from a 50% win ratio over the mighty Bayern Munich many would say that it was a pretty good record.

Given the heritage and present day standing of the Bundesliga leaders and five time European Champions, it could be considered as something of an achievement if Manchester City edge out the Germans at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Iconic image - James Milner salutes the City fans at the Allianz Arena last December. Courtesy @MCFC

Iconic image – James Milner salutes the City fans at the Allianz Arena last December. Courtesy @MCFC

Achievement is not a word usually associated with City in the Champions League, unless it is accompanied by a prefix of ‘under’.

Whereas their illustrious opponents carry a CL ‘co-efficient rating’ of Number 2, City are ranked at a lowly 17th place, the result of three season’s of 3rd, 4th and 2nd places in various Groups of Death.

It’ll take an unlikely, but nonetheless possible, third win in six meetings with Munich, for City to set out on the Road to Rome in early December with any sense of purpose.

Defenders of the faith - Joe Hart and Martin Demichelis helped deliver a glorious night for City beating Bayern in Munich. Courtesy @MCFC

Defenders of the faith – Joe Hart and Martin Demichelis helped deliver a glorious night for City beating Bayern in Munich. Courtesy @MCFC

A disgraceful pittance of one point from six against CSKA Moscow – originally viewed as the whipping boys of Group E – will have been City’s undoing if they ultimately crash out of European football’s showcase competition, before the knockout stages.

City could do with Roma winning in Moscow to ensure Manuel Pellegrini’s side are in charge of their own fate for the final game in the group stage…but first they must pip Pep Guardiola’s men.

In the event of teams being tied on points, the head-to-head record is the first criteria applied to differentiate between the sides. Were City to finish level with CSKA, the Muscovites would progress.

Never again! City cannot perform as they did against CSKA. Courtesy@MCFC

Never again! City cannot perform as they did against CSKA. Courtesy@MCFC

City’s destiny would still be within their own grasp if they have five points on the board going into a shootout in Rome on December 10th, trailing the Italians by two points. I mean, whoever heard of any team from Italy putting up the shutters, strangling the life out of a game and going for a 0-0 outcome?

Obviously my meds have yet to kick in because Read But Never Red is being written under the delusion that a severely weakened Manchester City will beat Bayern Munich, but why not?

Yaya and Fernandinho are banned after the double sending off against CSKA, while David Silva, Edin Dzeko and Aleksander Kolarov are all injured.

In & Out - Nasri will start whereas Yaya will be a spectator against Bayern. Courtesy@MCFC

In & Out – Nasri will start whereas Yaya will be a spectator against Bayern. Courtesy@MCFC

Sergio Aguero and Stevan Jovetic missed Monday training but Pellegrini says both are available. Deprived of five potential starters, the City boss may be tempted to go with a lone striker, pack the midfield and try to upset the rhythm of Guardiola’s tiki taka style.

Bayern will also be missing key players Lahm, Alaba, Martinez, Badstuber and Alcantara, but before City get their hopes up too high, it does mean the likes of Lewandowski, Robben, Gotze, Ribery, Muller, Alonso, Boateng and Neuer are all likely to be active combatants.

City are the hardest hit of the two sides with injuries and suspensions.

One in the kisser - can Sergio spearhead City to a famous vcitory? Courtesy@MCFC

One in the kisser – can Sergio spearhead City to a famous vcitory? Courtesy@MCFC

The defence should probably pick itself and be the same as played in the 2-1 win over Swansea, but if Sergio spearheads a 4-5-1 or a 4-1-4-1 formation who comprises the midfield?

Fernando could be invaluable in breaking up Bayern’s forward play, Nasri and Milner are surely certain starters, which would suggest two from three e.g. Lampard, Jovetic and Navas.

For all the fuss kicked up about City’s riches and squad depth, the present situation leaves Pellegrini short on attacking options from the bench. Is it a chance for Jose Angel Pozo to make his mark if things aren’t going City’s way, or even Austrian prospect Sinan Bytyqi?

On the bench - will Manuel call up some of City's young attacking talent? Courtesy@MCFC

On the bench – will Manuel call up some of City’s young attacking talent? Courtesy@MCFC

It might be asking a lot of the youngsters but with a reduced 21-man CL squad, shorn of five senior players, needs must.Caballero, Mangala, Sagna and Boyata should be the other benchwarmers.

It’s well documented that City’s Abu Dhabi owners have set their stall out to win the Champions League, but that clearly isn’t happening anytime soon. In this, City’s fourth consecutive qualification for the CL, it appears the team has regressed, potentially failing to build on the last 16 place of 2013/14.

As ever a perspective is required and whilst undeniably underwhelming this season, City were impaired by the constraints placed upon them by UEFA’s Financial Fair Play punitive measures.

Last gasp losers - City's hopes were cruelly dashed in the 90th minute losing 1-0 to Bayern in September. Courtesy@MCFC

Last gasp losers – City’s hopes were cruelly dashed in the 90th minute losing 1-0 to Bayern in September. Courtesy@MCFC

In essence City didn’t even touch the £49m transfer pot that UEFA deigned to allow the club to spend last summer. On the contrary, Messrs Soriano and Begiristain reported a £9m profit on transfer fees.

One wonders if that was all about making a statement to Platini – a metaphorical V-sign – but one that undoubtedly hindered Pellegrini’s plans.

Theoretically City had £58m to spend in transfer stakes, but the reality is the money may not have been guaranteed until deadline day drew to a close.

Punished - City owner Sheikh Mansour and Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak were unable to exert teh club's fiscal clout in the transfer market last summer

Punished – City owner Sheikh Mansour and Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak were unable to exert the club’s fiscal clout in the transfer market last summer

Indeed, the bulk of Alvaro Negredo’s spouse-induced £25m shift back to Spain, isn’t actually payable by Valencia until the summer of 2015, so maybe City had no option.

It is bona fide, admissible defence mitigation for Manuel, but even that doesn’t explain the wretched performances in the second half in Moscow, and in the return leg with CSKA.

Rapidly becoming a bit of a cliché, City must, nonetheless, ‘Fight ‘Till the End’ display passion, determination and a strong work ethic to press, press and press again against the imperious Germans.

Bayern’s well drilled and extraordinarily loud travelling support – complete with a bloody irritating drummer – will certainly create more of an atmosphere than in the CSKA fixture.

Fight Till the End - it's worked for City in the past - let's do it again!

Fight Till the End – it’s worked for City in the past – let’s do it again!

Come to think of it a quiet night and a lunar landing would probably have provoked more of an atmosphere than an eerily, disturbingly muted Etihad crowd on Fireworks Night.

City fans absolutely have to make noise – and positive sounds at that – to help the team in times of adversity.

The loyalty of the supporters is beyond question e.g. the third tier of English football and 28,000-30,000 home attendances, BUT the Etihad crowd as a whole – not just the ‘singing section’ – needs to pump up the volume.

Can the City underdogs ensure it isn't Deutschland uber alles? Courtesy@MCFC

Can the City underdogs ensure it isn’t Deutschland uber alles? Courtesy@MCFC

It’s all or nothing so maybe remember the dark days of Lincoln, Wycombe and York away and live for the moment – it’s CITY v Bayern Munich, one of the greatest clubs in world football…and it’s there to be won with endless toil and perhaps even an Aguerrrooo moment.

Let’s all go for it #TOGETHER!


By David Walker

Dedicated to our dear friend Suzy Bookbinder on this day, one of the two most painful anniversaries of her life. Empathy and sympathy always – hang tough sweet lady blue x


www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu


  1. November 24, 2014  8:07 pm by Fifthcolumnblue Reply

    Could do with a real performance - and maybe a decent ref for a change!

    • November 24, 2014  8:25 pm by David Walker Reply

      We can deliver one but not the other! Bayern are a superior team but we can still win this with massive effort, work rate, determination and lest we forget we do have some great players as well. The crowd need to make a lot of noise because Bayern's fans sure as hell will with teutonic precision. I know a lot of City fans say they stay away from CL on principle because the competition is corrupt, but it can't help the team. Our players need to man up and woe betide anyone who is perceived to be giving less than 100%.

  2. November 24, 2014  8:37 pm by stuart miley Reply

    I can't see us progressing any further in the CL . But i would love to see a the guys at least fight for it. Going out fighting isn't to be sniffed at. By the way yet another great read Dave keep up the good work.

    • November 24, 2014  9:16 pm by David Walker Reply

      Like the City of old, the fans would always cut a real 'trier' some slack - a guy who may not have been the most talented but who worked his rocks off for the cause. Well our players of the modern era ARE talented and they must align that skill with maximum effort. We need leaders on the field tomorrow night - Kompany, Demichelis, Milner, Aguero, Hart - big balls who never know when they're beaten. We came within 30 seconds of drawing at their place - MP must have the players believing in themselves and their team mates and the crowd needs to play a major part. C'MON CITEH! Thanks Stuart.

  3. November 24, 2014  9:05 pm by guy Burke Reply

    Time for the team to make a serious statement tomorrow evening, lets hope City at least have something to play when visiting Rome in a fortnight, if only a Europeless league place then so be it. Bayern will be far from pushovers whoever turns out for them but City have beaten them twice before in recent seasons so there is at least some hope with City being Bayerns "bogey" team!!

    • November 24, 2014  9:18 pm by David Walker Reply

      I admire your optimism and interpretation of a bogey team ;-) We have to have a good set up tactically and boundless energy. Anything less than a strong showing will be embarrassing and unacceptable.

  4. November 24, 2014  11:03 pm by Toby Teasdale Reply

    City expects.

    The team pretty much picks itself.

    Probably won't be for the purists, but I am expecting a real cup match, a proper ding donger.

    Nelson was pacing the quarterdeck with Captain Henry Blackwood, the captain of the frigate Euryalus. The nearest enemy ships were less than two miles away. Nelson said: "I'll now amuse the Fleet with a signal. Do you think there is one yet wanting?"

    "I think the whole of the Fleet seems to understand very clearly what they are about," answered Blackwood. But Nelson was already walking across to where Pasco and his signalmen were waiting. "I wish to say to the Fleet, England confides that every man will do his duty". He added; "You must be quick, for I have one more to make, which is for Close Action."

    Pasco thought for a moment, Then replied: "If your Lordship will permit me to substitute "expects" for "confides" the signal will soon be completed, because the word "expects" is in the vocabulary, and "confides" must be spelt". "That will do Pasco," said Nelson "make it directly".

    The rest is history.

    With thanks to benedict 2015

    • November 25, 2014  7:43 am by David Walker Reply

      Given that England's representatives will be limited to Hart Milner and Lampard tonight would it also be appropriate to say the Argentina, Belgium, France, Montenegro, Portugal and Spain also have expectations of their countrymen, even if it isn't for the collective good of a team from their shores?

      When the 'shot' has stopped flying let's hope City still have plenty of wind left in their sail as they set out for Italy next month. If we're holed below the waterline there could be some key combatants who will be thrown overboard by the summer of 2015.

      Cheers TT.

  5. November 25, 2014  12:10 am by Susan Bookbinder Reply

    I have to declare an interest; David and Debi being among the kindest people I have ever met, it is difficult to sound objective, particularly as we have so much in common, - City, journalism and loss...which goes about as deep as it gets. Nonetheless, it is so wonderful and very rare indeed when empathy and sympathy are combined with kindness, to say nothing of the usual stylish writing we have come to expect on the cult that is RBNR! Nice one David as always! And thanks to City for bringing us all together!

    • November 25, 2014  7:47 am by David Walker Reply

      Oh you said 'cult' - sorry I thought it was a damning indictment on the author of RBNR ;-) Thanks for your fabulous feedback, especially as it comes from a fellow scribe and, as you point out, there are so many similarities in our circumstances it is uncanny. Take good care. CTWD...and beyond.

  6. November 25, 2014  7:52 am by Doug Henshaw Reply

    Great read as always Dave. I hope the city we know & love turn up to night & restore some pride in what has been a very poor cl campaign. Unfortunately it will in my opinion be to late but I would love to come on here & say how wrong in was. I will be there tonight let's all be loud & proud tonight & put two fingers up To Napoleon Platini.

    • November 25, 2014  8:51 am by David Walker Reply

      Indeed a Victory-V two fingered salute at the end of the game would be wonderful and warranted, whereas a metaphorical two-fingered salute to PRATini and his co-conspirators at UEFA before the match is a must. City and Bayern fans are united in their contempt for UEFA over the CSKA scanfal and are planning a protest when the Champions League anthem is played - turning backs to the pitch, booing, whistling etc. I hope you'll be commenting on the next RBNR article saying how wrong you were ;-)

  7. November 25, 2014  8:01 am by David Kelly Reply

    Nice read Mr Walker. Have trust in MP, just keep Boyata of the pitch. 2-1 tonight my friend

    • November 25, 2014  8:53 am by David Walker Reply

      Gratitude Guvnor, 2-1 to City would be the dog's doo-dahs...a 90th minute winner from deadly Dedryk...WUNDERBAR :-)

  8. November 25, 2014  10:40 am by Eileen Fullen Reply


    • November 25, 2014  10:57 am by David Walker Reply

      I know I'm big & ugly but not quite extinct...yet!

  9. November 25, 2014  10:53 am by Richard Cooper Reply

    We watched Bayern on the Bundesliga ITV4 programme last night
    They are a pretty formidable team - As an act of Mancunian hospitality maybe someone at City should take them on a tour of the Christmas Markets and treat them to a surfeit of gluhwein and sausages just before kick off.
    Anything less than a 100% effort from every player tonight would be pretty unacceptable, and I am reasonbly confident we can secure, say, a 2-1 win tonight. If not, at least go out of the competition with pride

    • November 25, 2014  11:01 am by David Walker Reply

      I like your thinking - hopefully by 22.00hrs we'll have 'stollen' the points and have some sweet cake for Yaya to savour in the posh seats

  10. November 25, 2014  3:07 pm by Neal Storan Reply

    Hi David,
    Thought you might be interested in sharing an infographic we made on tonight's game with your readers. The stats actually don't look that bad and suggest that City are clearly capable of getting that vital win tonight.


    Good luck in the match!


    • November 26, 2014  12:46 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Neal, sorry for the delay in publishing but I was on the road to Manchester when you posted. Interesting reading and feel free to indulge RBNR and our readers on future matches. Didn't get to be bed until 3am but as the song goes 'Oh what a night' & as for Sergio...he's 'Unbelievable'. Thanks again.

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