We ARE the Champions – Southampton 0 Man City 3

Having beaten the champions of Germany in midweek, Manchester City finally – finally – decided to strut their stuff on the domestic stage and remind everyone just why they are the reigning champions of England.

This was more like it – pace, precision passing and passion, a raw desire to ensure each Saint stayed tackled when tackled, and second balls were snapped up like flat screens TVs in a Black Friday scrum in your local Asda.

Yes yes Yaya - City go 1 up at St Mary's. Courtesy@MCFC

Yes yes Yaya – City go 1 up at St Mary’s. Courtesy@MCFC

Manuel Pellegrini’s men had come to play. Buoyed by a sensational last gasp five minute Blitzkrieg of Bayern Munich, City seemed to have realised that the gold Premier League logos they bore on their sleeves weren’t just an eye-catching accessory…they actually meant something.

They symbolised that, at long last, City are shaping up as if they mean business, ready and willing to throw a spanner – albeit one carefully crafted by a qualified Engineer – into the Jose ‘Jolly Up’ jamboree, you know, the one where Chelsea have already won the title in November?

Take a bow - Milly, Zaba and Lamps show their appreciation for City's travelling support. Courtesy@MCFC

Take a bow – Milly, Zaba and Lamps show their appreciation for City’s travelling support. Courtesy@MCFC

As the City-hating members of Her Majesty’s Press would willingly testify, Manchester City are a one-man team, wholly reliant on Sergio Aguero’s goals.

Oh how Messrs Ashton, Custis, Herbert, Ogden & Co must have choked on their Sunday roast as little old Citeh had the temerity to win 3-0, without Sergio celebrating his 100th PL appearance with a goal.

Instead the sensational Argentine chose to chip in with two assists and a wonderful display, one that often occupied four Southampton defenders at-a-time, as City laid waste to the Saints impressive defensive record.

Sergio the provider - no goals but two assists for Aguero. Courtesy@MCFC

Sergio the provider – no goals but two assists for Aguero. Courtesy@MCFC

Not only did City spoil the hopes of the Premier League’s surprise package, they also inadvertently succeeded in highlighting the hideous antics of referee Mike Jones.

All arms and legs like an animated stick insect on heat, Jones the Jerk (we’ll just call him JJ from this point on) delivered a master class in the art of  how not to officiate.

As ever, perspective is required – JJ is shyte.

Yes, we all know referees are human, they only have a split second to make a decision, the ‘game’s so fast nowadays’ blah dee blah dee blah dee blah.

JJ confronts MP - Mike Jerk Jones tells Manuel that the ref always knows best! Courtesy@MCFC

JJ confronts MP – Mike Jerk Jones tells Manuel that the ref always knows best! Courtesy@MCFC

Even ex-Man in Black, Graham Poll, now a Daily Mail analyst, described JJ as the weakest in the laughingly called ‘elite group of referees’ in the Premier League.

Woefully inadequate, JJ was all of five yards away with a perfect view of Jose Fonte’s scything down of Aguero in the 10th minute. Stonewall, it was a granite like penalty to everyone but JJ who decided Sergio had dived, duly yellow carding him into the bargain.

No, hold that last statement, Stan Collymore on TalkShyte Radio muttered Sergio had gone ‘star-shaped’ to the floor and then proceeded to block anyone on Twitter who dared challenge his assertion.

Tireless - Dino gave an accomplished midfield display. Courtesy@MCFC

Tireless – Dino gave an accomplished midfield display. Courtesy@MCFC

But, quicker than a flat screen TV shelf stocker on Cyber Monday, Stanley Victor denied ever saying Sergio had over-egged the pudding. Stan should know all about puddings… there’s plenty of Spotted Dicks or Raspberry Fools at his employer’s radio emporium.

But back to matters of substance.

Aguero was felled again, this time just outside the 18 yard box, but JJ wasn’t having any of that fancy simulation nonsense…he knew best.

French Connection - Nasri worked hard in both attack and defence. Courtesy@MCFC

French Connection – Nasri worked hard in both attack and defence. Courtesy@MCFC

He also displayed his aptitude for his job with a chronic misapplication of the ‘advantage’ rule. With Mangala deep in Southampton territory, JJ halted the City attack and hauled them back 35 yards into their own half after a Saints offside.

Good old JJ, he just knew instinctively that it was the right thing to do…unlike Fourth Official Phil Dowd.

BBC Match of the Day camera’s caught Dowd raising his eyebrows in bemusement towards Pablo Zabaleta, acknowledging JJ’s unique interpretation of the rules.

But JJ knew best and he didn’t want to keep it to himself, opting to tell Manuel Pellegrini and chuck in a quick admonishment of the Chilean for good measure.

1-0 - Yaya strikes after Sergio's assist. Courtesy@MCFC

1-0 – Yaya strikes after Sergio’s assist. Courtesy@MCFC

JJ has, quite rightly, been universally ridiculed – the man is not fit for purpose. Granted, the role of a referee is very demanding and unforgiving, but JJ and his colleagues are supposed to be ‘professionals’. So why do they consistently abuse the description week in and week out? It has to stop.

Despite Ronald Koeman’s team having a not-so-subtle 12th man in their midst, City were imperious as they dropped down to 10 and finally nine men. Mangala’s two yellow cards were warranted, but the biggest concern is Vincent Kompany’s hamstring injury, with critical games coming thick and fast.

Thankfully, Aguero seems free of the frequent muscle injuries that have so blighted him in the recent past, (may every City fan forgive me if he is subsequently injured), and he was instrumental in this accomplished fourth away win of the season.

City threesome - 3-0 away to Southampton meant a Super Sunday for Stevan, Yaya and Vinny. Courtesy@MCFC

City threesome – 3-0 away to Southampton meant a Super Sunday for Stevan, Yaya and Vinny. Courtesy@MCFC

His deft lay-off keyed up Yaya Toure’s 20-yard drive to open the scoring in the 51st minute.

With the game won, Sergio surged up field for the umpteenth time to hit an exquisite cross for Gael – or should that be Goal – Clichy to score in the 88th minute – his first successful City strike in 120 appearances and 3-0 to the champions.

Substitutes James Milner and Frank Lampard were the ‘inbetweeners’ making it 2-0, combining for the ‘Milly & Lamps’ Show as Super Frankie buried his 174th Premier League goal in the 80th minute.

Super Frankie - Lampard hit his 174 Premier League goal. Courtesy@MCFC

Super Frankie – Lampard hit his 174 Premier League goal. Courtesy@MCFC

Lampard has been an absolute delight during his loan spell and long may it continue, certainly into February and, if possible, all season long. Lampard is just one goal behind Thierry Henry in the PL all-time top scorers and only four behind Shrek from The Swamp. What an achievement for a midfielder!

A clean sheet – only City’s fourth in 13 PL games – was only really threatened twice, on both occasions where Pelle failed to make an impact from within the six yard box.

Another ‘Pelle’, City’s trusted MP was tellingly impactive, with a tactical plan to shut down Southampton’s supply lines down the flanks.

Nasri and Navas gave sterling support to Zabaleta and Clichy and kept the Saints on the back foot.

Extended loan - City would like to keep Lampard for as long as possible this season. Courtesy@MCFC

Extended loan – City would like to keep Lampard for as long as possible this season. Courtesy@MCFC

Yaya and Fernandinho fresh from their self-enforced Champions League rest, looked like the formidable duo of 2013/14, Jovetic was lively in support of Sergio and Demichelis, a late sub to bolster the defence, was vintage as he supplied the through ball culminating in Gael’s goal.

Joe Hart – hopefully now shorn of his ‘Biggles Flies Undone’ Movember moustache, was largely untroubled apart from a mad scramble when he and Captain Kompany thwarted Davis and Pelle.

Goal for Gael - Joe congratulates Clichy on his first City goal in 120 games. Courtesy@MCFC

Goal for Gael – Joe congratulates Clichy on his first City goal in 120 games. Courtesy@MCFC

With the gap to Chelsea closing to six points. City now go up against their biggest bogey team of recent times when visiting Sunderland’s Stadium of Light.

Four successive 1-0 defeats have made for horrible return treks from the North East, and with Mangala banned and Kompany injured, Pellegrini needs a new Ministry of Defence.

Can Lamps help City break a run of dark form at Sunderland? Courtesy@MCFC

Can Lamps help City break a run of dark form at Sunderland? Courtesy@MCFC

Demichelis and Sagna will likely get the nod, with Boyata an uncomfortable selection for many fans and Nastasic just about persona non grata in Pellegrini’s eyes.

Injuries or no injuries, City need to stop being dim on Wearside and give the travelling fans an illuminating experience – one that goes with those shiny gold Premier League sleeve logos.



By David Walker



Read But Never Red is delighted to partner with Manchester City to be able to offer one lucky reader the chance to savour a behind–the-scenes journey around the Etihad in the company of a City Legend.

The Legends Stadium & Club Tour - we've two tickets worth £140 for one lucky winner.

The Legends Stadium & Club Tour – we’ve two tickets worth £140 for one lucky winner.

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Perfect host - Jeff Whitley made a 133 first team appearances in City's colours.

Perfect host – Jeff Whitley made 133 first team appearances in City’s colours.

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Please send your answers via:

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  1. December 1, 2014  8:57 pm by JoshCannon99 Reply

    Excellent article, David.

    Mike Jones.... what a useless little ginger pillok! I think a group of reception children could do a better job than him... shocking!

    Thankfully super Sergio and Fabulous Frank were on hand to save the day for City!

    • December 1, 2014  11:24 pm by David Walker Reply

      Fabulous Frank? Listen pal, I do the alliteration around here! ;-) Thanks JC - always appreciated.

    • December 2, 2014  10:47 am by carole Reply

      What a great read....so amusing I read it 3 times such was the chuckle factor....and it was made all the more enjoyable because of the team's stellar performance.
      I agree with everyone about the terrific contribution Frank has made...and not just on the pitch. He's PR gold, the media love him and the coverage we get is increased dramatically when he scores.
      But will he stay on...or more pertinently, SHOULD he?
      I suspect he wants to but If he reneges on his commitment to NYCFC, if Soriano puts pressure on Reyna to keep him till the end of the PL season, it will be disastrous for our New York sibling club. He is their star signing, 10,000 people have bought season tickets on the premise that Super Frank will be there for the launch. It will be a PR disaster for MCFC as well.
      Our MLS franchise is hugely important to us as a brand.....yet a row is simmering over this 'Will he, won't he' scenario already in the US and the fall-out could be massive.
      I see no reason why Frank can't stay on until the end of February when NYCFC are apparently expected to be training at the Etihad anyway. But he should stay the whole season IMO.

      • December 2, 2014  10:50 am by carole Reply

        Correction! 'should NOT stay till the end of the season IMO'!!!

        • December 2, 2014  12:36 pm by David Walker Reply

          Ha...and then you went and spoilt it with the word 'NOT'! Once again, I can fully understand your thinking but I think the flagship of the City brand will do more good as being Champions of England once more, giving NYCFC £4m for Super Frank and doing everything they can to source a replacement while Lamps stays on for the next 18 months in England. Sincere thanks for comments and feedback.

          • December 2, 2014  12:44 pm by carole

            18months..wow, I hope not! I'd like a compromise, with him staying until the start of the MLS season.... he is rather getting a reputation for 'rescuing' us at times which I don't like.

            Just a though though.....Do you think we are already trying to sign Gerrard for NYCFC as a replacement for Frank? Haha, that would be a fun scenario!!

          • December 2, 2014  2:49 pm by David Walker

            Why not? Lamps has shown his pedigree and I'm sure he can carry it through another full season. His experience is invaluable and he's English. As for NYCFC getting Gerrard...that would be superb...for us, not so sure about NYCFC!

      • December 2, 2014  12:33 pm by David Walker Reply

        Praise indeed young Carole - 3 times...very impressive! I can see your thinking on NYCFC and I totally agree with the principle that the City franchise needs to be a winning franchise. If there's one place on the planet where you don't want a losing sports team it's the USA. That said, there's still time to source another prize asset for NYC and at this point my focus is MCFC and only MCFC. Rather than just a loan deal, I would advocate buying Frank for 18 months and then letting him start his New York odyssey

  2. December 1, 2014  9:13 pm by Ian Reply

    Spot on Dave, things have been quiet today regarding Vinny's injury, here's hoping it was only cramp. His appearance at Jimmy's bash hopefully means he's ok

    • December 1, 2014  11:25 pm by David Walker Reply

      Bloomin' well hope so, I still fear the worst. If it is a hamstring problem the timing couldn't have been much worse. Fingers crossed. Cheers.

  3. December 1, 2014  9:31 pm by john horsefield Reply

    Jeff Whitley played 133 games.

    Ta John H

    • December 1, 2014  11:26 pm by David Walker Reply

      You seem very sure of that answer JH. Thanks for entering and all the best.

  4. December 1, 2014  9:46 pm by Richard Cooper Reply

    That has to be a good read because we both had a laugh at your comments about Jones. He was awful.
    Even from the back row it seemed a dead cert penalty and when Jones brandished the yellow card I thought I must have had a "specsaver" moment. However MOTD plainly showed the ridiculous decision.
    Everybody had a good game and apart from the obvious superlatives for Sergio, Frank etc etc I would single out Fernandinho for praise - I thought he was superb.
    Good tactics by MP deploying Nasri and Navas to marshal the threat from Saints.
    The only blips were Ya Ya being too casual and losing the ball and putting the somewhat inexperienced Mangala under pressure - result a ban (until then The Mangler had had a good game).
    I do wish Joe Hart would not for about 30 or 40 per cent of the time, kick the ball into touch like a Sale Shark.
    I am perhaps exagerating !
    Re your comments about snappy second balls and TV's on Balck Friday. Going home there must have been as many flat pack bookcases leaving Ikea as their were football scarves in cars. One hour to get to the M271 but hey ho a super day and well worth the early "get up".
    Let's hope the injury to Vinny is not too bad as we will need him for some pretty tough games and they come thick and fast.
    We read you article and comments about Jeff Whitley. Knew had addiction problems but think we were unaware he had cured his demons - Nice one Jeff


    • December 1, 2014  10:17 pm by David Walker Reply

      I enjoy your comments as much as you appear to enjoy reading RBNR. Thanks RC.

  5. December 1, 2014  9:51 pm by Paul Glennon Reply

    Bad back ground David, but as usual what you write is right I just love and always look forward to your RBNR long may you continue.

    • December 1, 2014  11:22 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thank you so very much Paul if you and you alone like reading RBNR then that's probably reason enough to keep doing it. Forgive my ignorance - I am extremely ignorant - what do you mean by 'bad background'?

  6. December 2, 2014  12:18 am by Toby Teasdale Reply

    On Sunday we could have beaten anyone. Christmas is around the corner and we are moving up nicely on the rails, just where we like to be.

    You are correct. JJ is shite, Collymore is shite and Talk Shite's shite, but that caution will remain on Aguero's record for ever. And if others repeat JJ's mistake we could be deprived of our genius at a crucial time for no good reason.

    Talking of Christmas, I recommend as a stocking filler 'Football's Dark Side: Corruption, Homophobia, Violence and Racism in the Beautiful Game', by Ellis Cashmore and Jamie Cleland. The chapter on spread betting is fascinating.

    Hopefully, we will get a result at the Stadium of Light. If past form is anything to go by Sunderland will be set up to hit us on the counter. So whoever deputises for 'The Mangler' and Kompany need to be on their toes. Whilst not wishing to put the mockers on anyone, De Michelis might be the one to get the best out of Boyata. Calm and collected, I would expect him to organise the defence, whilst encouraging and cajoling Dedryck just like you do your Cockapoodle. Walkies, Run, Fetch, Kill....

    • December 2, 2014  6:27 am by David Walker Reply

      It is somewhat irrational that there are no means by which to challenge a yellow card and, as you say, the possible consequences of a ban under the accumulation process. Speaking of irrational, JJ is an abject apology of a referee and City should lobby the PL to keep him away from us, in much the same way old Sir Baconface used to demand certain officials didn't officiate at Manure games.

      As for Dedryk, if MP doesn't have the confidence to put him in on Wednesday night, Mollie Zaba is ready to step in...she will certainly be happy to chase black cats all night long, although we draw the line before any executing of the feline species. Cheers TT.

  7. December 2, 2014  4:20 am by GeorgeInIsrael Reply

    Listening to the game on BBC Radio Manchester with the excellent Ian Cheeseman and Fred Eyre, it certainly sounded like our best game all season. Everybody put in a shift and the result was well deserved.
    I think the worst thing about the penalty decision is that as the players get up, the defender knows he has fouled Sergio, as he is trying to convince JJ that the foul was outside the penalty area. Even with that reaction in his face, he still books Sergio. He certainly deserves to be the pathetic, pilloried pillock he has become.

    • December 2, 2014  6:19 am by David Walker Reply

      Precise perfect prose - thanks George ;-)

  8. December 2, 2014  6:25 am by by Reply

    The Mail’s markings for the players involved in yesterday’s
    Southampton/Manchester City game are here and, on reading them,
    you notice two things: One, the mark awarded to Eliaquim Mangala (1)
    and, two, that the feature was written by Neil Ashton.
    Of course it was.
    Mangala actually performed reasonably well. He may have been sent-
    off after receiving his second yellow-card in the seventy-fifth
    moment, but prior to that he was generally very solid: he was good in
    the air, his distribution was accurate and his combination with Vincent
    Kompany limited Southampton to just two significant chances in the
    whole game.
    Nevertheless, here comes Ashton…
    1/10! Fraud-office! Dreadful!
    That’s what gets written when someone wants some attention. That’s
    an opportunistic attempt to take a swipe at a player without really
    knowing why you’re doing it.
    And isn’t this overkill with Neil Ashton now? Every column has to be
    negative and every article has to be victimising somebody or
    something. Awarding an expensive Summer signing a 1/10 is just a
    transparent attempt to antagonise a fanbase.
    Mangala not only didn’t play that badly, but his red card was the
    result of a mistake from Yaya Toure. The French centre-back was put
    in a situation where he either had to attempt a low-percentage tackle
    on Shane Long, or he had to allow the Southampton player to run-in
    on Joe Hart – and, given City were protecting a single-goal lead at the
    time and that the foul occurred outside the box, he definitely made
    the right decision.
    You know that, I know that, and even Neil Ashton knows that, but he
    ignores it for the sake of sustaining a witch hunt against a foreign
    player who, understandably, is still finding his way in English football.
    Mangala is an instinct-based defender who, because of the speed of
    English football, is struggling to adapt his timing. Once he finds that
    equilibrium, though, Manchester City will have a centre-back who is
    the envy of the entire league: He’s muscular, freakishly athletic, and
    comes with a range of ball-playing abilities that are quite rare in his
    That isn’t even really debatable; while the player’s form may be a
    concern, there surely aren’t many people who really believe that
    Mangala doesn’t have a glittering future ahead of him and who, more
    importantly, don’t understand exactly why City were willing to pay so
    much for him.
    Neil Ashton isn’t even one of those people. He’s been around the
    game long enough to know better – and that’s what makes his
    accusatory, provocative journalism so tedious. These ‘stealing a
    living/fraud’ articles (Ozil, Villas-Boas etc) are built around a willful
    ignorance and a deliberate attempt to boil the game down to its
    lowest common denominator.

    • December 2, 2014  7:17 am by David Walker Reply

      Beautifully put dear reader. Neil Ashton is a dreadful replacement for the sadly departed Brian Woolnough on the Sunday Supplement, to the point I no longer watch. He denies being anti-City by hiding behind the fact his Dad is a City fan...maybe Neil had an unhappy childhood, who knows? It's bizarre that his Daily Mail employers have a thoroughbred like Martin Samuel on their payroll, as well as an ass of Ashton's proportions.

      That said, maybe we should cease discussion of said beast as it gives oxygen to his 'work' and much sought notoriety.

      Many thanks for your comprehensive and well constructed comments.

    • December 2, 2014  9:17 am by Toby Teasdale Reply

      Excellent analysis.Talking points out of 10, what did you award Ashton for his mealy mouthed article?

      • December 2, 2014  12:28 pm by David Walker Reply

        Having heard about it prior to opening it up I did him the biggest disservice you give any self seeking prat craving the oxygen of notoriety...I didn't read it. I contained my Daily Mail reading to the splendid Martin Samuel.

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