United won the derby but City look real winners

Stating the obvious, but losing to your most hated enemy is never a good thing.

When City capitulated 1-0 to United at the Etihad on March 20th  it was a horrible gut churning experience, just as it had been when the Blues slumped to a 4-2 defeat at The Swamp last season.

Derby day defeat, but City have come good in the face of adversity.

Derby day defeat, but City have come good in the face of adversity.

But, and it’s a sizeable ‘BUT’, in adversity lies opportunity and opportunity is knocking on Manuel Pellegrini’s door like never before, in the shape of a seismic clash with his former employers, Real Madrid.

Whereas last season’s ignominious showing at the Theatre of Screams was the precursor for a record breaking run of 11 consecutive PL wins, this season’s abysmal home loss has ignited a resurgent City – evidenced by three straight top flight victories and an emotional 3-2 aggregate Champions League success over PSG.

Harty celebration - Joe shows his delight as City progress to the Champions League semi final.

Harty celebration – Joe shows his delight as City progress to the Champions League semi final.

The 3-0 battering of Chelsea served to show City’s new found form isn’t just reserved for European nights. It was a win made all the sweeter by Kevin De Bruyne’s return to Stamford Bridge and his ability to stuff it right up Jose Mourinho’s fundament – albeit poor old Guus Hiddink bore the brunt of KDB’s brilliance. 

So Jose, was it such a clever move to reject KDB? Who's the cry baby now?

So Jose, was it such a clever move to reject KDB? Who’s the cry baby now?

It also exacted sweet revenge for the farcical 5-1 FA Cup 5th Round defeat back in February, when Pellegrini was forced to field a much weakened team, due to injuries, ridiculous BBC TV programme scheduling and a Champions League trip to Kiev.

King Kevin knee-slide - KDB has just put City into the last four of the Champions League.

King Kevin knee-slide – KDB has just put City into the last four of the Champions League.

Branded a ‘£60m reject’ when he joined City from Wolfsburg, due to his perceived failure during a short but terse stay at Chelsea, KDB has sparked a dramatic upswing in City’s fortunes.

It wasn’t by chance that City’s title challenge fell away when KDB was crocked and ruled out for seven Premier League games, in which City could only muster a not-so-magnificent seven points from 21.

The moment the wheels came off City's Premier League title bid - KDB lies stricken against Everton.

The moment the wheels came off City’s Premier League title bid – KDB lies stricken against Everton.

Prior to KDB suffering knee ligament damage in the League Cup semi final win over Everton, City were 2nd in the league, just three points behind the now Champions-elect, Leicester City.

The City haters in the media would have you believe it was the announcement of Pep Guardiola pending arrival that derailed the Blues’ bid for a third title in five years.

Changing of the Guard - Pep comes in and Manuel goes out of the Etihad this summer.

Changing of the Guard – Pep comes in and Manuel goes out of the Etihad this summer.

Utter tosh – KDB had been stretchered off the Etihad pitch four days beforehand – THAT was the primary factor.

Now back playing, KDB has scored 15 goals and supplied 13 assists – despite nine weeks sidelined throughout February and March. How would those numbers look had he stayed fit?

Fun in the Sun - KDB and City liked being beside the seaside with a 4-0 win at Bournemouth.

Fun in the Sun – KDB and City liked being beside the seaside with a 4-0 win at Bournemouth.

The same applies to Sergio Aguero – absent for eight PL games – but still having scored 21 goals in 25 appearances, leaving him well poised for a second consecutive Golden Boot Award.

Super Sergio - Aguero bagged a hat-trick against Chelsea.

Super Sergio – Aguero bagged a hat-trick against Chelsea.

Aguero is a one-man phenomenon with 133 goals in just 202 appearances (including 30 as a substitute) for City since 2011.

His hat-trick at Stamford Bridge took him to a not so flaky 99 scored in the Premier League. His link up play with KDB was breathtaking and his easy dispatch of an 80th minute penalty showed he had no hangover from his spot kick miss against PSG.

1-0 - Sergio opens his and City's goal account at Stamford Bridge.

1-0 – Sergio opens his and City’s goal account at Stamford Bridge.

He’ll go in search of his 100th league goal tomorrow night against relegation-threatened Newcastle, the team he smashed five past in just 20 minutes at the Etihad in the reverse fixture.

The fact the win over Chelsea was achieved without Vincent Kompany, David Silva and, to a lesser extent, Raheem Sterling, gives real substance to end of season optimism.

Having managed a paltry 12 Premier League starts and a five minute Boxing Day cameo as a substitute, before his calf muscle flared up, Captain Fantastic Kompany’s latest comeback is now imminent.

Commanding Kompany - can Vincent come back to full fitness and lead City to Champions League glory?

Commanding Kompany – can Vincent come back to full fitness and lead City to Champions League glory?

The skipper has endured a desperate injury ravaged campaign, but he could yet lead City to the pinnacle of European club football.

Just as Kompany’s calves have let him down, Silva has soldiered on with his omnipresent ankle problems.

Pure Gold - Silva played in both games against PSG but Merlin is suffering with ankle pains.

Pure Gold – Silva played in both games against PSG but Merlin is suffering with ankle pains.

It’s taken a toll on El Mago in what, by his extraordinarily high standards, has been a disappointing sixth season in sky blue.

Silva has been pure gold for City since his arrival in the summer of 2010, but you get the impression Merlin could do with some respite to aid a recovery of sorts…enter stage left Samir Nasri.

Magnifique - Nasri nets the winner against WBA.

Magnifique – Nasri nets the winner against WBA.

The fiery Frenchman has returned from a five month lay-off to claim Man of the Match honours and the winning goal against WBA, before notching an impressive pass completion of 95% at Stamford Bridge.

Sadly ineligible for the Champions League push to Milan, a pumped up Nasri can cover the creative bases in key upcoming domestic clashes, while auditioning to be in Pep Guardiola’s squad for 2016/17 and beyond.

Goal provider - Nasri notched an assist as Aguero netted City's second against Chelsea.

Goal provider – Nasri notched an assist as Aguero netted City’s second against Chelsea.

His countryman Eliaquim Mangala would have been short odds to be part of the Pep induced summer exodus, but that was before he finally started to perform like a £40m centre back.

Mangala’s renaissance symbolises City’s emergence in the Champions League, it’s as if self belief has finally been instilled in both the individual and the team.

He's right behind you - Mangala kept Zlatan under wraps at the Etihad.

He’s right behind you – Mangala kept Zlatan under wraps at the Etihad.

Limited to just 18 PL starts so far due to injury and non-selection, Mangala was fleetingly detained by Greater Manchester police on Sunday morning on a routine ‘Stop & Search’.

When Mangala was asked to turn out his pockets, officers were surprised to find Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Diego Costa spill out onto the pavement!

If Mangala has turned the proverbial corner, he could have a big future under the guidance of Guardiola, albeit the ‘problematic’ centre back position will still need addressing in the transfer market.

Eliaquim's emergence - Mangala had Diego Costa in his pocket, and not for the first time.

Eliaquim’s emergence – Mangala had Diego Costa in his pocket, and not for the first time.

April has been a momentous month, primarily for the historic progress to the last four of the Champions League, but also a resounding 4-0 romp at Bournemouth, a 2-1 victory over a resilient and ‘physical’ WBA in monsoon hit Manchester, plus three points at Chelsea.

It makes it all the more galling when City’s detractors pipe up with: ‘If they’d played like this earlier in the season, City would be 10 points clear with the title in the bag.’ If only it were that easy.

Hart-stopper - Joe's memorable penalty save from Zlatan in Paris kept City on the road to Milan.

Hart-stopper – Joe’s memorable penalty save from Zlatan in Paris kept City on the road to Milan.

Injuries – medium and long term – have crippled City. The spine of Kompany, De Bruyne, Silva, Aguero and to a lesser degree, Nasri, have missed dozens of matches and City have paid the price. 

Yes, there have been times when the application and attitude of players has been questioned and numerous occasions when Pellegrini’s formations and tactics have been criticized, even ridiculed.

Parting gift - could Manuel Pellegrini leave City this summer having delivered the biggest prize in European club football to the Etihad?

Parting gift – could Manuel Pellegrini leave City this summer having delivered the biggest prize in European club football to the Etihad?

But it comes back to injuries and player fatigue.

Injuries impact team selection options which, in turn, influences tactics depending on player availability.

Undoubtedly the feeling is one of disappointment and under achievement in the Premier League. 

Conversely, who would have envisaged City being at European football’s top table, ahead of Barcelona, battling for a trophy affectionately known as ‘Big Ears’.

Dare to dream - Could City have this in the Etihad trophy room by the end of May?

Dare to dream – Could City have this in the Etihad trophy room by the end of May?

Which brings me nicely onto Gary Lineker and the rest of the bilious twits, or is that biased tw*ts – well, it’s something beginning with B & T – at BT Sport Football?

After the poison spat from an array of BT Sport pundits on City’s finest hour in the Champions League, we can finally dispense with any thoughts that City fans are paranoid…BT REALLY ARE OUT TO GET US!

Jerk Jake - BT Sports Football anti-MCFC agenda hit new heights or plumbed new depths - depending on your perspective - as City advanced in the Champions League.

BT Sport Football’s anti-MCFC agenda hit new heights or plumbed new depths – depending on your perspective – as City advanced in the Champions League.

Jake Humphrey’s now infamous quote, when speaking to Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes about City’s Champions League success, has been seized upon as the final piece of evidence to prove the case for the prosecution.

Humphrey said: “We’ve quite rightly criticised Manchester City numerous times this season in various matches, so therefore we should quite rightly praise them, as hard as it is…”

The face of impartial and objective analysis on BT Sport Football - God help us!

The face of ‘impartial’ and ‘objective’ analysis on BT Sport Football – God help us!

Humphrey engaged with the ex-Man Utd duo who bore expressions akin to a camel chewing its own faeces and a ginger ignoramus with chronic haemorrhoids.

Don’t you just love the virtues of integrity, objectivity and impartiality? If so, you’d be well advised to unsubscribe, or don’t subscribe at all, to BT Sport Football.

City's Champions League joy is self evident, much to the dismay of BT Sport Football.

City’s Champions League joy is self evident, much to the dismay of BT Sport Football.

Add to that the wonderful Scouse insight of co-commentator and former City car park attendant, Steve ‘PointyMan’ McManaman, who, rather than focusing on England’s last Champions League standard-bearer, decided to tell ‘porkies’ about the ‘Emptihad’.

Strange observations by the former Spice Boy as the attendance of 53,039 actually exceeded the UEFA imposed limit of 53,000.

Oh No Sergio - Aguero missed a penalty against PSG, but BT Sport Football's joym was short-lived as City won 1-0.

Oh no Sergio – Aguero missed a penalty against PSG, but BT Sport Football’s joy was short-lived as City won 1-0.

In stark contrast, 48 hours later McManaman, Michael Monotonedrone Owen and the rest of the BT rabble were virtually orgasmic with gushing praise, as Liverpool overcame Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League quarter final.

Admittedly, it was a thrilling 4-3 encounter, but the BT coverage in both tone and content, was the polar opposite of the begrudging grunts and snide asides aimed at City’s achievement in European football’s most prestigious competition

If BT Sport Football are so obsessed with trying to identify under occupancy at the Etihad, maybe City should place stickers on each seat telling BT to ‘pro-create with themselves’ and encourage TV cameras to zoom in when Real Madrid roll up on April 26th?

ZZ Top? Hopefully not. City want to knock Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid out of the Champions League.

ZZ Top? Hopefully not. City want to knock Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid out of the Champions League.

One can only hope City let their actions on the field speak louder than the untamed spite of their detractors.

Oh the irony, if Liddle old Citeh were to win the Champions League, while United couldn’t even celebrate with the ‘We’ve Come 4th Cup’.

  

#TrustOurMP

By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu

 

16 Comments

  1. April 18, 2016  1:32 pm by Gary Reply

    Am I missing the point of this article I think I am, to me it seemed like you wanted to blame our season on injuries, have a pop at utd and bt and then to top it all all off you actually used the word citeh, really was utter nonsense.

    Our season didn't fail because we had injuries lets just put our hands up and say we have been inconsistent and lost the games that mattered, our second 11 are as good as most so injuries is just not the reason, would it have helped having less injuries the answer is probably because that we don't know.

    Some very good points in a well wrote article but it seems you just want to display your writing skills more than anything city fans don't behave in such a bitter manner leave that to the other side.

    • April 18, 2016  2:12 pm by David Walker Reply

      It's all about opinions and I happen to believe that had it not been for the plethora of injuries to key players we would indeed have won the Premier League. The injuries to our top quality players feed into the inconsistencies that you have rightly identified. In respect of United, the point is we had a grim day at Old Trafford and subsequently won 11 league games on the bounce last season. We had a dreadful derby at the Etihad this time out and have thus far been winners in the PL and Champions League.

      I can't agree with you if you believe the vast majority of City fans don't wish United ill. That's not being bitter, it's being a realist after decades of putting up with the bile emanating from Trafford.

      As for BT Sport - I believe in fighting fire with fire and highlighting their dreadful anti-City bias. The 'Citeh' reference was tongue in cheek - a touch of irony.

      Finally have you ever come across a writer who didn't want to display their writing skills?

      That said, thanks for reading and commenting.

    • April 18, 2016  4:29 pm by carole Reply

      Wow, what a churlish comment!

      Tell me something: How would YOU feel if you moved to a new job and found within weeks of arriving the key members of the team fell sick for weeks, sometimes months, on end and you had to stumble along learning on job with none of the old hands around to show you the ropes?

      Imagine being new boys Kevin or Raheem or Otamendi and having to adapt to a certain style of play without the guidance of the very people who embody it? Is it really surprising that performances fell off when Kun, Silva, Nasri, Zabaleta and Kompany fell by the wayside?

      We've had the worst injuries in the PL, destroying the heartbeat of our team. Its difficult enough for players to come into the PL and adapt. Imagine being Otamendi coming from La Liga and having no regular partner or captain beside him to ease him into our defensive system?
      Sterling started off brilliantly, forming an excellent partnership with Silva and Kun in our first few winning matches, not surprising his form fell away when they were injured. We just didn't look like the free-flowing, intricate passing City without them.

      I remember Pellegrini's comment when David Silva finally returned after 2 months out; "I prefer the way City play when we have Silva on the pitch"....yes Manuel, me too.
      Sadly, Merlin';s ongoing ankle problem has hampered his influence and it is only the return of key players like KDB and Samir Nasri which has revived our fortunes. EVERYTHING is to do with us having the worst injuries in the PL and the inconsistencies and fatigue which follow.

      As for your complaints about Dave having a go at United and BT, you surely can't be serious!

      Hundreds of City fans have had a go at BT following their utterly disgraceful coverage of our CL campaign. As a result of the many blogs and tweets and emails, it appears BT are re-thinking their attitude to us...a small victory for those of us who care when they broadcast lies about our club nationwide.

      As for the Citeh remark....have you no sense of humour? Clearly not, which is why it seems odd you claim to be a City fan!

      • April 18, 2016  5:51 pm by David Walker Reply

        Now who do we know called Gary, with time on their hands and who is probably feeling a bit sore this morning after Valencia beat Barcelona 2-1 :-)

        Great comments - many thanks.

  2. April 18, 2016  1:35 pm by Pete lynch Reply

    Media bile really is at new levels! Would love us to win and see the meltdown that would ensue.
    Great read as ever David

    • April 18, 2016  2:03 pm by David Walker Reply

      It's as perplexing as ever as to why BT Sport - despite the protestations of Jake Humphrey - just can't help themselves from sniping at City. It seems to have more to do with a selection of pundits who can't see beyond personal hate agendas and pandering to the masses of Man Utd and Liverpool fans who obviously can't abide the fact that City possess the wherewithal to win trophies on a regular basis. Thanks Pete.

  3. April 18, 2016  3:15 pm by Stuart miley Reply

    Great read as usual Dave and spot on. If Gary can't see the bias Bt show our team he's not really paying attention it's BLATANT!!! gary.. I'm also with you on the injury's. The difference in the team when the big playmakers come back in is there for all to see. ...AND DON'T GET ME STARTED ON THE BITTERS DOWN AT THE SWAMP.

    • April 18, 2016  4:23 pm by David Walker Reply

      Of course Gary is entitled to his viewpoint, it's just one with which I beg to differ.

      Now what did you want to say about the Swampdwellers? Only joking :-) Thanks for the feedback.

  4. April 18, 2016  3:16 pm by Doug Henshaw Reply

    Great read as always Dave good use of your writing skills ( sarcasm ) I must admit i had written this season off a few weeks ago never excepted anything from PSG game at all thought season was done for us. But how wrong was i we seem to have gotten our second wind so to speak The City that i love is a back with a bang, with out a doubt injuries did play a big part in our form slump. To have Kev & Sami back is a massive plus as will the return of Captain Fantastic as you so rightly point out it gives MP chance to rest Silva. Don't want to be picky but i do think some of MP tactics & Subs haven't helped Bony for example. BT & the rest of the media should be ashamed of the treatment dished out to us about time they got behind us. Lets hope the run carry's on now all the way to lifting big ears in Milan.

    • April 18, 2016  4:21 pm by David Walker Reply

      Pellegrini has to bear a good portion of responsibility for any perceived shortcomings - he is the manager after all - but by the same token MP should get the plaudits for the run in the Champions League. I have been a resolute supporter of Manuel, but of course, he isn't without his failings - are any of us?

      There's no doubt we do need a change of some key personnel. Players have gone stale and become complacent but Pep will put that right in the summer and beyond. I share your hopes for a grand finale to the season and dare we dream that City could hold 'Big Ears' aloft and make Noddies of all the snipers and detractors. Thanks as ever for your comments.

  5. April 18, 2016  3:59 pm by Philip Entwistle Reply

    Dave, great read as normal and a true insight into the total bollocks that is BT Sport.
    I watch BT Sports but never, ever listen to the bile that is spewed out whenever the t**t's from the swamp are giving there 'unbiased' opinions - my arse.
    It will make it all the sweeter when we do lift that CUP, because we are, no doubt about that, and we can all laugh at BT and give them a reverse Churchillian salute - up yours Lineker et al.

    • April 18, 2016  4:14 pm by David Walker Reply

      Nicely written Philip - shall we 'Fight them on the beaches...' while we're at it? Thanks for reading and commenting.

      PS Do you know of any good value hotel rooms in Milan for May 28th? ;-)

  6. April 18, 2016  7:10 pm by Simon Reply

    Great piece David, I've not commented for a while such has been my dismay with MP , apart from the KDB factor as you have outlined , I think another major factor in our slip off the title pace was the over use of Demechelis & Bony in the team, I think it's no coincidence that they now warm the bench as we start to hit form again, one well part his sell by date and the other just can't carry the badge & expectation on his shoulders , apart from one goal against Seville away , simply not cut out for City, and one we have to take on the chin , or MP does! .
    On too many occasions the engineer has thrown a spanner in his own works and missed so many mistakes .. Over playing KDB early in the season when he looked knackered, then dropping Sterling & Sagna when they were both flying, bringing VK on against Sunderland whilst 2 up with 20 mins to go when surely another weeks rest was better , and finally to sit Zabba on the bench in the derby when 50,000 odd blues knew what back 4 to play against a quick youthful but containable rags forward line, that was the straw that broke Rio's back for me !

    • April 18, 2016  7:48 pm by David Walker Reply

      '...the straw that broke Rio's back...' nice! Can't disagree with much of that Simon, but wouldn't it be sublime if City actually won the most coveted club trophy, in a season widely perceived as underwhelming. A touch of 'Typical City' but this time in reverse.

      You say you haven't commented for a while, but in all fairness I haven't written RBNR as frequently as in the past, so thanks for doing so on this occasion.

  7. April 19, 2016  11:40 am by Richard Cooper Reply

    I will have to keep this a bit brief David
    1. If MP had played Sagna and Zab in the Derby I think the outcome would have been different
    2. Our losses at home, Leicester, Spurs etc are quite hard to explain because of the lack of any "zip",
    but contributed to by the absence of KdB and Silva playing not 100% fit , but that was a torrid few games. Don't think it was because of the Pep announcement as the same situation would have happened with constant rumours.
    3. We are hitting form at the right time to secure the 4th spot and in with a chance of no doubt un-heralded Champs league success.
    4. The return of VK is a conundrum because Mangala and Otamendi seem to have "stepped up". Don't want VK back and getting injured again so perhaps on bench tonight.
    5. As for the self loving no doubt highly overpaid plastic pundits - TBH it all goes over my head now, I see what I see (good and bad !) and that's enough for me.

    • April 19, 2016  12:55 pm by David Walker Reply

      Well that'll be 5/5 RC, can't argue with any of those observations.

      Kompany's return will obviously strengthen the defence - but only if he's fully fit. It'd be a triple disaster for player, club and country if he is brought back too soon.

      On your fifth point I do wonder if we actually need pundits at all. As you say it's just a gravy train for ex-players and managers and who gives a flying wotsit about what numb nuts such as Savage, Shearer, Ferdinand, Scholes, Owen, James, McManaman etc say. Thanks for your comments which are spot on.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.