Typical City…no, hold that thought – MAN CITY 4 WATFORD 2

It’s often said you learn more in defeat than in victory.

Thankfully Manuel Pellegrini didn’t have to go the whole nine yards to glean new wisdom, but he was halfway to FA Cup humiliation against Watford as the Championship underdogs stirred up a hornet’s nest at the Etihad.

Lessons will have been heeded in adversity as City recovered from a double-barrelled salvo, before swatting away the threat posed by Beppo Sannino’s irritating swarm.

Tough going - Yaya had one of his least convincing games in City blue  Courtesy @MCFC

Tough going – Yaya had one of his least convincing games in City blue Courtesy @MCFC

The recently appointed and comparatively unknown Italian manager saw his team emulate the feat of European Champions Bayern Munich, opening up a two goal advantage over City at Fortress Etihad this season.

Strikes from Fernando Forestieri and Troy Deeney within the space of ten first half minutes had threatened to spring the shock result of the competition.

Pellegrini’s team selection looked very strong prior to kick off, but a lethargic collective ‘effort’ and some chronically poor individual performances, had City teetering on the brink of defeat.

Downcast - Dzeko's body language reflected the sombre mood of the first half   Courtesy @MCFC

Downcast – Dzeko’s body language reflected the sombre mood of the first half Courtesy @MCFC

Watford thoroughly deserved their 2-0 lead at the interval having shown verve, vitality, invention and belief that far outweighed anything offered by a laboured, disjointed and generally inept City.

Cumbersome doesn’t even come close to describing the centre back pairing of Lescott and Demichelis who were quite simply appalling. They must never be sent out together on first team duty again.

On this showing my Nan would have beaten them for pace, wit and gumption…and she’s been dead for 28 years.

Struggling - Micah had a torrid 45 minutes before being substituted...but he wasn't alone in under performing

Struggling – Micah had a torrid 45 minutes before being substituted…but he wasn’t alone in under performing

Kolarov – City’s Renaissance Man in rediscovering his finest form this season – regressed into previous bad habits, whereas Richards was about as much use as a one-legged man in a backside kicking challenge.

Micah is perhaps the biggest disappointment in City’s rise to prominence in recent years.

Beset by injuries, possibly due to his own bravery in going in when the boots are flying, the teenage Richards was hailed as a prodigious talent and future England regular – a rock in defence either as a centre back or right back.

It used to be a toss-up between Micah and Pablo Zabaleta at full back. Nowadays there is no comparison. Argentina skipper Zaba, is arguably the best in the Premier League and Micah, by his own admission, has more or less settled for a place in the squad.

Zaba Daba Doo - Zaba Daba DID...help City turn the match around in the 2nd half

Zaba Daba Doo – Zaba Daba DID…help City turn the match around in the 2nd half

As one who has been nurtured through City’s much vaunted Academy of old, City fans are desperate to see a player, now aged 25 and with nearly 250 first team appearances to his name, succeed.

It’s a real dilemma. Sadly, the raw talent so abundant under Stuart Pearce and Sven Goran Eriksson’s managerial reigns, has been replaced by a player who displays alarming misjudgement, a cavalier approach and an infuriating inability to cover his defensive position after gallivanting up field.

Richards is not a completely lost cause and sustained fitness and a focused redevelopment could yet mean he has a future at City, but if it is to happen it needs to be sooner rather than later.

Captain on board - Kompany steadied the ship as Pantilimon was untroubled in the 2nd half  Courtesy @MCFC

Captain on board – Kompany steadied the ship as Pantilimon was untroubled in the 2nd half Courtesy @MCFC

Another City Premier League winner who won’t be afforded that opportunity is Joleon Lescott. It’s clearly a matter of when, and not if, he departs.

Lescott divides opinion among City fans and, whilst being wholly appreciative of his 154 showings in City colours, it’s time to move on as Pellegrini evolves the club’s style of ‘total football’.

City’s boss showed how shrewd he is at half time by ringing the changes and engineering the four goal fight back. The Chilean was quoted as saying that, given the chance, he would have changed all eleven players. He’s no soft touch – oh no!

Off came Richards and Rodwell and on went Zaba and the inspirational Vincent Kompany.

Super Sergio - is he the best player EVER to wear City's colours?  Courtesy @MCFC

Super Sergio – is he the best player EVER to wear City’s colours? Courtesy @MCFC

The City captain’s influence on the side is as immense as it is frightening when viewed as a positive or a negative factor. Sergio Aguero is arguably the best player ever to wear a City shirt, but even his sublime brilliance is not as pivotal to City’s success as the presence of the Belgian Boulder.

Astute, admired, respected, Pellegrini is proving an excellent manager but he does have one very worrying ‘blind spot’ when it comes to Martin Demichelis.

It’s not the same as Roberto Mancini’s almost tunnel vision approach to the wayward, talented but undeniably troublesome, Mario Balotelli, but from the outside looking in, it is nonetheless puzzling.

Keeping Kompany company - Martin Demichelis is a worry at the heart of City's defence

Keeping Kompany company – Martin Demichelis is a worry at the heart of City’s defence

Obviously trusted by Pellegrini, having played for him in both Argentina and Spain, Demichelis is the preferred choice at CB with Kompany.

Given there are still five days left in the transfer window, it can only be hoped that is about to change. Either that or Matija Nastasic is restored – depending on his ability to hit the performance levels of 2012/13.

Bizarrely for a side deprived of its two principal playmakers in David Silva and Samir Nasri, along with top scorer Alvaro Negredo, City still kept up the average of four goals per home game this season – and a bloody good job too!

Now we see you - Stevan Jovetic is no longer City's missing man  Courtesy @MCFC

Now we see you – Stevan Jovetic is no longer City’s missing man Courtesy @MCFC

The introduction of City’s ‘invisible man’ Stevan Jovetic coincided with the commencement of City’s scoring. Youngster Marcos Lopes made way for the Montenegrin and three minutes later the Sergio Show was underway.

Kolarov’s attacking play went up a gear as he zipped in a low cross from the left. Watford keeper Bond saved Dzeko’s effort but Aguero buried the bobbling rebound to make it 1-2.

City’s new found momentum had the plucky Hertfordshire underdogs suddenly lose their first half swagger and tension levels rose in the ranks of the 4,000+ travelling support.

He's done it again - Aguero hauled City back from the brink  Courtesy @MCFC

He’s done it again – Aguero hauled City back from the brink Courtesy @MCFC

Aguero levelled the score in the 79th minute with a typical super strike from inside the 18-yard box. The architect of the goal was the tireless Jesus Navas who carried the ball from deep inside City territory before feeding to Sergio.

The lippy Watford supporters had long since ceased singing ‘Can we play you every week…’ and the clichéd taunt of all visiting fans of  ‘Where were you when you were sh*t?’

With just three minutes of the 90 left to play it looked as if Manchester United’s David de Gea had been giving Watford’s rookie keeper Jonathan Bond, lessons in safe handling.

Kolarov’s speculative 25 yard shot squirmed through Bond’s hands and legs and dribbled over the line in the torrential conditions. The Serbian sniper couldn’t resist a wry smile as City’s own AK47 took the congratulatory thanks of his team mates.

Relief - City players are jubilant as they claw their way back into the FA Cup tie  Courtesy @MCFC

Relief – City players are jubilant as they claw their way back into the FA Cup tie Courtesy @MCFC

Even then Watford had a chance to peg the score back to 3-3 but Ikechi Anya blazed high and wide as the clock ticked down.

Into added time and Aguero completed the perfect hat-trick – right foot, left foot and a header – as he connected with another Navas assist inside the six-yard area.

With progression to the 5th round secured, credit goes to Pellegrini for his tactical nous, to Aguero who, even on an off, day bagged a hat-trick and to the diminutive Navas for his indefatigable efforts against a physical Watford side.

Job done - City are through with a 4-2 win  Courtesy @MCFC

Job done – City are through with a 4-2 win Courtesy @MCFC

Manchester City warrant a 10/10 for sensible pricing that produced a bumper 46,514 attendance and it’s 1/10 for a fiend called Friend who masqueraded as a match day official.

In keeping with many of his colleagues, Kevin Friend is abject in carrying out his duties.

The coup de grace of a dreadful display was when the idiot referee had the temerity to admonish Aguero after the City striker was blatantly body-checked. Not only did Friend not award the free kick when Aguero was laid out, he literally wagged his finger in Sergio’s face as if the Argentine had faked the foul.

Unforgivable behaviour from a complete incompetent.

Trust Our MP - it's still raining goals for Pellegrini even in the gace of adversity Courtesy @MCFC

Trust Our MP – it’s still raining goals for Pellegrini even in the face of adversity Courtesy @MCFC

Pellegrini is the polar opposite and when the chips were stacked against him City’s Squadron leader still downed the flight of the bumble bee…ok, hornets, if we’re being pedantic!

#TrustOurMP

 

By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com

@djwskyblu

24 Comments

  1. January 26, 2014  1:00 pm by Eileen Fullen Reply

    Exciting heart in the mouth game always nervy that the Hornets would come back and sting us again.But what can I say Captain Invicable along with Zabaleta came to the rescue brilliant fightback.Thats what great teams need are leaders and they come top of anyone's list. Aguero again awesome.

    • January 26, 2014  1:27 pm by David Walker Reply

      Agreed young Eileen!

  2. January 26, 2014  1:26 pm by Toby Teasdale Reply

    'Belgian Boulder'. 'Serbian Sniper'! excellent alliteration Fancy a job as my agent?

    Pellegrini's first half selection resembled an overripe Bartlett. You can blame Di Michelis and Lescott if you want, I would point the finger at Richards and Kolarov. Kolarov if 'turned' became a spectator. Richards looked a lummox and was simply appalling, going walk-a-bout for most of the first half.

    Life's too easy for Richards consequently he is disincentivized. He is extremely likeable, but unfortunately happy to be the teams entertainments manager. Without dedication natural talent and physique are not enough to cut the mustard in the EPL or (from yesterdays display) the championship. According to the Times, when asked by Patrick Vieira what he wanted to achieve in the game: Micah replied 'I want to play for a successful City team and play for England too.'

    'Really??' replied a surprised Vieira. 'Then how come you're the last one onto the training pitch every day and the first one off it?'

    • January 26, 2014  4:08 pm by David Walker Reply

      1. What do you do?
      2. Hourly rate/ salary as agent?
      3. Very interesting observation by Vieira on Richards.
      4. Thanks as ever for reading & commenting.

  3. January 26, 2014  1:29 pm by Fifthcolumnblue Reply

    You want to know what was weird about yesterday?

    I was not the slightest bit worried about the result, even when Watford's 2nd goal went in. Despite at least 9 of our players looking as though they'd had a few scoops on Friday night and were nursing hangovers, I expected us to come out and win in the second half - as we did.

    Now as a time-honoured supporter who has seen typical City strike a thousand times, it is a particularly strange feeling to find myself wondering when, not if, we were going to score! Strange times indeed.

    Micah definitely looks shorn of match fitness and confidence at the moment, whilst I feel the best thing for Rodwell might be a loan to another premier league club to see if he can get back to something approaching the player we signed. Well done to Sergio for his perfect hat-trick, and Martin DeMichelis certainly looked better once he moved into midfield.

    Here's hoping for a decent draw in the next round, and a wide awake performance against Tottenham

    • January 26, 2014  4:10 pm by David Walker Reply

      With you there No 5 I always nurtured a feeling that we were one goal away from turning it around, once momentum kicked in. Great Minds or Fools Never Differ?

  4. January 26, 2014  1:56 pm by Toby Teasdale Reply

    As for friend.

    He is paid 35,000 pounds a year plus a 1,000 pounds fee per game. More than most footballers in the lower leagues.

    His record is littered with controversial errors. How on earth is he still officiating?

    He must be well connected, I will have to zoom in on his pre-match hand shakes.

    • January 26, 2014  4:12 pm by David Walker Reply

      What are you suggesting TT? Do you remember the Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran - they called him 'Hands of Stone' - maybe a handshake crafted from the finest masonry?

  5. January 26, 2014  2:37 pm by Vic Road Reply

    Agree about the cr@p ref ... bottled a stonewall penalty and sending off when Pantilimon cleaned out Anya in the 7th minute - now that really would have been interesting

    • January 26, 2014  4:13 pm by David Walker Reply

      Don't know your allegiance Vic, but on face value I - as a staunch MCFC Blue - thought it looked decidedly iffy - and a penalty. Haven't seen any replays thereafter.

      • January 26, 2014  10:20 pm by Toby Teasdale Reply

        Happened right in front of me. It was a well executed high tariff dive, not a penalty.

        Obviously never heard Elton sing 'I'm still standing'.

        • January 27, 2014  12:51 am by David Walker Reply

          Cheers TT. Anyone associated with Watford has absolutely no excuse for being unfamiliar with Elton's 'I'm still standing' - bloody scandalous ;-)

  6. January 26, 2014  5:23 pm by Graham Ward Reply

    To be honest, I had forgotten about the early incident referred to by Vic....presumably short for Vicarage? It was a heart in mouth moment, but, as the ITV coverage last night was so poor, nothing to confirm one way or the other.
    I felt there may have been a question of offside with the final pass for Watford's second goal, but, again, without replay, unconfirmed.
    There is certainly a question mark about Micah Richards, his physique looked more appropriate to a boxer when viewed live, and he didn't seem able to recover position quickly in defence - remember Lopes having to bust a gut to cover down the right?

    • January 26, 2014  6:01 pm by David Walker Reply

      First take was that it was a penalty. We've never seen a second take. As for Micah he does indeed seem to lack the genuine speed which he had at the outset of his career. Thanks for reading.

  7. January 26, 2014  7:30 pm by DOUGLAS HENSHAW Reply

    I really hope the we are going to bring in a cb & a decent full back as cover for Zab in the window if not we could regret it. Magnificent second half comeback & I take nothing away from Watford you were very good but we shouldn't have been in that position to have to comeback.As you rightly point out some players were just not good enough in 1st half. I still say to many changes doesn't help start with a strong side then take players off. Chelsea in next round so we will start with a strong side. A certain person on Twitter is telling people she doesn't like you Dave & complains about what you say well its simple really just dont read what you say. #TrustOurDave

    • January 26, 2014  9:23 pm by David Walker Reply

      It would be a very boring world if everybody agreed with each other. Hell, you need folk to disagree with you otherwise life can become very bland.

  8. January 27, 2014  7:54 am by Guvnor Reply

    Nice to see you have added your usual comment about the Ref Mr Walker, I have missed them lately, good report thank you.
    Guv

    • January 27, 2014  1:19 pm by David Walker Reply

      Cheers Guvnor - Mr Friend was abysmal.

  9. January 27, 2014  12:56 pm by Mole Rocks Reply

    Even at 2-1 I wasn't sure City would triumph, but Shaun Goater was very confident City would win it 4-2.

    MP showed he had a plan B and Kompany's team talk in the tunnel showed the players have the resolve to fight for a win.

    We're entering a very tough few weeks of the season, hopefully Negredo has recovered and the reintroduction of Silva will see us through undefeated.

    Come on MP, show them all how it's done!

    • January 27, 2014  1:22 pm by David Walker Reply

      The enormity of a Quadruple and how unlikely it will be, suddenly dawns when you look at our fixtures in February and March. It is going to be very difficult and the acid test could come if, as and when,we exit a cup and how we react. I'd happily settle for the PL title and a cup right now.

  10. January 27, 2014  1:02 pm by ant walton Reply

    great as always and i totally agree with issues regarding Richards. Trouble with City fans is because we have been rubbish for years and years we have become emotionally connected to 'our players' like Micah. I would love to see him back to his best but i dont even think hes half there yet. There would be a public outcry if he was sold but is it best for both him and the club ??? Agree with some replies too. Again Rodwell could do with a run somewhere, I really rated him when we signed him. Has the injuries robbed him and us of his best.
    I feel a clearout in the summer.

    • January 27, 2014  1:29 pm by David Walker Reply

      I could see Lescott, Richards, Clichy, Sinclair, Rodwell, Garcia, Pantilimon, Boyata and even Dzeko going between now and the start of next season. The big question is who comes in and at what price?

      Matuidi from PSG, a new CB - Mangala, Zouma, Vertonghen, new GK to compete with Joe but not replace Joe unless Hart's form deteriorates, Luke Shaw would be oustanding at LB...even a hint of Edinson Cavani if Dzeko goes, but surely that is wishful thinking. Rumours of Sergio Ramos from Real Madrid! All I know is if we can win PL and progress to last 4 of ECL we will be a bloody attractive proposition. #TrustOurMP ;-)

  11. January 27, 2014  2:15 pm by Simon Dear Reply

    Superbly put David , credit to Watford for showing what the FA cup is all about , I really did think they were going to catch us cold when 2 up at half time. The introduction of Kompany & Zabs was absolute key, they push higher up the pitch, put forwards under pressure and release the ball quicker, time & time again in that first half Richards and Rodwell were to square, had no penetration and slowed the play down, Richards appears to have bulked up too much and looks a stone over weight for a full back, he goes bombing forward on kamikaze like runs and then can't get back , whereas Zabs not the quickest player picks his moment ,wins the ball back higher up the field and is more comfortable on the ball in tight situations... Maybe this Sagna rumour from Arsenal could include Richards.
    I have already stated on many occasions how important a top centre back addition is to the team & I find myself treading on egg shells everytime Vinny goes into a strong tackle or sprints at full pelt .. We really should not be so reliant on him & I agree with you he is our most influential player, that despite the presence of Kun who can win matches on his own, and the best finisher I have ever seen wearing a blue shirt.
    The fixtures are pilling up & this is why the Quadruple will be impossible!! But sensible City fans will already know that . Here hoping for a double of sorts ( EPL & league cup will do for me )

    • January 27, 2014  4:45 pm by David Walker Reply

      I'm with you on the double, rather than quadruple, stakes from a purely pragmatic perspective. I hope we will be active in the transfer market this month because we have some hellishly tough games coming up in close proximity to each other. If we don't buy I have grave concerns if we were to lose VK or Sergio as we play high quality opponents in quick succession. That said #TrustOurMP

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