Will 20 be plenty for pragmatic Pep?

With more records on the go than the vinyl section at HMV, Manchester City aren’t interested in ‘singles’ they only do ‘LPs’  – long plays – and they insist on playing them right until the very end.

Sterling stuff – Raheem nets the 96th minute winner against Southampton.

Of recent times it’s been DJ ‘Worth Every Pound’ Sterling mixing it on the decks, getting in the groove and leaving City’s opponents in a right old spin.

As resident host of City’s Late Late Show, Raheem has struck winners in the 96th, 84th and 88th minutes against Southampton, Huddersfield and Feyenoord.

Put that trio of goals alongside Sterling’s 97th minute winning strike against Bournemouth and 82nd minute equaliser against Everton in August, and you’d be forgiven for thinking City’s rampaging winger had something personal against those who have the ‘temerity’ to leave before the final whistle blows.

The Late Late Show with Raheem Sterling.

Obviously that’s not the case, Sterling is simply doing his job, while personifying City’s mantra of more recent times where they ‘Fight ‘Till The End’ – a chant that may need upgrading to ‘We’ll score at the end…’ – if the present phenomenon continues.

Fair to say Pep and the boys have ‘tuned up’ just about everyone they’ve faced this season, as they strive to complete their very own ‘Top 20 Smash Hits’ against West Ham United today.

19 wins – Pep and the team go nuts as City grab the win over Southampton in ‘Forster Time’.

And, when it comes to staying the distance, Pep is adamant the ‘C’ word will not creep into City’s vocabulary.

After setting club records with 19 consecutive wins, including 11 away wins, eight successive Premier League away victories, 27 games unbeaten – 21 of those in the league – Guardiola insists complacency will not be a factor.

City have 12 Premier League wins on the bounce, just one shy of the record in a single season and two short of Arsenal’s all time record 14 match run, between February and August 2002.

Terriers Tamed – Walker and Sterling celebrate City’s winner at the John Smith Stadium.

Having plundering 40 points – the highest haul ever from the opening 14 matches – City need to win this afternoon and keep their eight point lead at the top of the table.

Speaking, almost prophetically, after the 2-1 win at Huddersfield, Pep said: ‘Winter is here…’ It sounded dramatic.

Passionate Pep – Winter is here but Guardiola’s loving life as City beat Huddersfield 2-1.

It sounded like a man who had learned harsh lessons last time out. It sounded like a man ready to take on a gruelling nine game schedule in 29 days of December and emerge victorious.

Pep’s refusal to compromise his principles and football philosophy has served City well, averaging more than three goals per league game, blasting fives, a six and a seven, past hapless opponents.

Magnificent Seven – City smashed Stoke 7-2 in what Pep described as his finest match as City’s manager.

The attacking blitzkriegs had seen opponents capitulate early, but recent wins have come via a more attritional process. City’s relentless attacking intent has needed to be aligned to endless patience, before finally reaping the rightful rewards.

Wins 17,18 and 19 – each by a single goal margin – owe much to a fear of City’s attacking prowess, bus-parking defensive tactics and a subliminal inferiority complex.

Champions League Group F done and dusted as Sterling snatches a 1-0 win over Feyenoord.

Understandable – if far from laudable – from the likes of Huddersfield, Feyenoord and, to a lesser degree, Southampton, it’s now manifesting itself within the self proclaimed ‘biggest club in the world’ – the Trafford Troglodytes.

Just absorb the outrageous comment of United’s Paul Pogba when asked how the Swamp Dwellers might close the points gap on City.

“Some day I hope City are going to slip and I hope, and I know that it’s bad to say things like that, but I hope for us that some very important players get injured.”

Sad sight – John Stones is down and out after injuring his hamstring and missing up to a dozen matches.

It beggars belief that United’s ‘star’ player is saying the only way they can hope to compete, is for City’s best players to suffer long-term injuries.

Not only does it convey a sinister overture in respect of his fellow professionals, it also demonstrates a lack of belief in Mourinho and United’s ability to challenge for the title.

No words required – the shirt says it all!

Pogba’s malice and stupidity is matched only by his petulance and ignorance.

Not only did the Těte de merde manage to avoid facing City by getting himself sent off at Arsenal last night, he also managed to overlook City have, and are, already missing key players through injury.

Benjamin Mendy is a huge loss on City’s left flank but the Shark Team Blue Leader is hoping to be back to add bite to City’s title ambitions ASAP in 2018.

Benjamin Mendy ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament – one of the worst injuries for any footballer – in September, and is likely ruled out until April.

Captain Vincent Kompany has missed virtually three months with yet another calf injury, while hamstring victim John Stones could miss a dozen games.

John Stones is a massive loss to City this December after being injured against Leicester.

Add in the ramifications of Sergio Aguero’s Dutch taxi cab crash and Ilkay Gundogan’s late start to the season after being sidelined for nine months recovering from an ACL injury, and it’s clear that Pogba isn’t the sharpest knife in the box.

Talking of knives, the FA seem to have them out for Pep following his conversation, albeit animated, with Southampton’s Nathan Redmond at the end of City’s 2-1 win on Wednesday night.

Pep Talk – Guardiola’s animated conversation with Nathan Redmond was the City boss praising the Southampton winger.

Redmond has already gone public and rubbished malicious media reports that Pep verbally abused him, stating the City boss was actually complimenting him on his play.

This would be the same FA who effectively sanctioned the actions of United’s Romelu ‘KickerBollocksGlory’ Lukaku, after he kicked Brighton’s Bong in the ‘groin area’ and got off scot free.

Player and Manager in perfect harmony – Raheem and Pep enjoy the win at Huddersfield.

Maybe if Pep had cracked Nathan in the nuts there’d be no investigation and no possibility of any charge to answer?

Who knows, United – aided by their very own FA ‘Insider’ David Gill – may contest Pogba’s dismissal? An explanation of ‘over exuberance’ or Hector Bellerin’s leg simply ‘getting in the way’ should do the trick and see the red card rescinded.

Gary Lineker on BBC Match Of The Day said of Pogba: “He’s now going to miss Manchester City, probably…”

Jesus – what a goal! Gabriel fires City into the lead at Leicester.

Probably? Maybe Lineker has been tipped off that the FA Panel, which exonerated Lukaku, is poised to reconvene with the ‘Innocent’ verdict already in the brown paper envelope?

Given the identity of the ref for City’s match at the Etihad today, United might not even bother to appeal.

Will it be 11 v 12 from the kick off as referee Mike ‘It’s All About Me’ Dean takes charge of City against West Ham this afternoon?

It might be easier to let Mike ‘It’s All About Me’ Dean, try to balance things with a red card for Kevin De Bruyne or David Silva, or what the heck, both?

With Vincent Kompany, Fernandinho and Leroy Sane all just a booking away from a one–match ban, plus Dean being the match official, would it be wise for Pep to rest the trio?

Captain Kompany saw yellow and not red at Leicester.

A starting XI of Ederson, Walker, Delph, Mangala, Otamendi, Gundagon, Sterling, Silva, De Bruyne, Aguero and Jesus should surely be enough to secure the three points over the struggling Hammers.

It’s a game that should see City legend Pablo Zabaleta return to a tumultuous reception from the home crowd. Zaba will forever have a place in the hearts of the City faithful, but one Hart – Joe – will be missing, as his loan agreement precludes him from playing against his parent club.

A name NEVER to be forgotten – ZABALETA! A tumultuous reception awaits Pablo at the Etihad.

A 20th straight win will set City up for the much anticipated derby, while also stretching their advantage over a once much fancied title challenging Spurs, to an incredible, almost unthinkable, 18 points, after just 15 games.

As for those records, a pragmatic Pep will surely make wholesale changes for the final Champions League Group F encounter in the Ukraine on Wednesday.

Raheem Sterling – He’s Top Of The League – and hopefully staying their tonight with an eight point advantage. Image by Stiz of the BlueRoom.

Yes, of course it’ll be great to carry on winning, but with top slot already guaranteed, Guardiola could rest the vast majority – if not all of those – who will start the game at the Theatre of Screams a week today.

First things first, City need to stay on track and, even with Sterling’s currency riding high, not leave it until the late eighties or nervous nineties to secure the win.


By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu


  1. December 3, 2017  9:03 am by Lynn Mollekin Reply

    Great read! Pogba should be charged for his remarks not at all sporting and not a good image for football!!! Complete idiot!!!

    • December 3, 2017  9:26 am by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Lynn. Given that Wenger slandered Sterling with impunity, I wouldn't think the FA are falling over themselves to charge Pogba with anything above and beyond his violent conduct sending off.

  2. December 3, 2017  9:31 am by Malcolm Reply

    Excellent as ever. I would like to think the majority of City fans are more interested in silverware than records and won't be fazed by taunts from swamp dwellers when we do lose a game. Remember a few weeks ago before spuds went to the swamp and we were saying spuds were more of a threat to us than the rags? I just want to point out that things can change quickly in this league and fighting the "c" word (complacency) is as important for City fans as well as players!

    • December 3, 2017  9:42 am by David Walker Reply

      Absolutely MG! Thanks for your input.

  3. December 3, 2017  9:57 am by Ian Reply

    Excellent piece Dave, my only crib would be the use of the word knife, I think tool would be more appropriate. Hope we don’t put too weak a side out today, as bad as they’ve been I think the Hammers will raise their game against us today. Keep it going Boys

    • December 3, 2017  10:08 am by David Walker Reply

      Tool it is then! The changes would be enforced due to the yellow card peril and City would be most unwise to underestimate a team battling for their Premier League status. Thanks for the input.

  4. December 3, 2017  10:13 am by David Stanton Reply

    Another great matchday read David. Once again
    highlighting the outrageous Double Standards being implemented by the faceless suits allegedly charged with the stewardship of our national game.

    • December 3, 2017  10:18 am by David Walker Reply

      Gratitude fella - the hypocrisy is there for all to see isn't it?

  5. December 3, 2017  10:54 am by Susan Bookbinder Reply

    Thanks for another great read David!

    • December 3, 2017  11:17 am by David Walker Reply

      Thanks as ever for your support Suzy B xx

  6. December 3, 2017  11:30 am by Mark Reply

    Another great read prior to the match
    Thanks fella

    • December 3, 2017  9:47 pm by David Walker Reply

      Cheers MC good to see you, albeit fleetingly, today #20times ;-)

  7. December 3, 2017  11:38 am by Jon cantrill Reply

    Entertaining read as always... I don't give a stuff who plays for Maureen's mob next week we'll pass them to death and by the final whistle we'll be celebrating 😉... As for today, the football genius is in charge at Wham now, so I expect a bus parking operation, and poor Zabba will wished he'd retired if he's up against Sane or Sterling

    • December 3, 2017  11:15 pm by David Walker Reply

      Responding after our 2-1 win, and fair to say West Ham made life far more difficult than most of us had envisaged. On the upside that's 20 wins on the trot - who could ever have imagined City achieving that a few years ago? There were no costly bookings and Captain Zaba could hold his head high after a battling performance, where the points went to deserving winners. Thanks for your kind comments.

  8. December 3, 2017  12:01 pm by Simon Quinn Reply

    Maybe if Pep had cracked Nathan in the nuts there’d be no investigation and no possibility of any charge to answer? That is hilarious. Thanks for cheering me up. On the other side, Pogba's comment is indefensible. For a professional sportsman to say that about other players speaks volumes about his personality. But with a classless person like Maureen as your manager I am not surprised it is rubbing off on his players. I used to respect Maureen but over the last few years, he too has shown his true colours. I am so glad we never got either of them. Keep up your excellent articles.

    • December 3, 2017  11:27 pm by David Walker Reply

      Glad to provide mirth and merriment thinly disguised amid irony and sarcasm. There was a time when having Mourinho as City manager and Pogba as the kingpin in midfield might have held a certain appeal. Needless to say those notions are long gone - thank goodness. We are so blessed to have Pep and his way of playing football and looking at the world. He and his team are truly a delight and the best is yet to come, even if we win the Premier League this season. Just imagine what a successful summer transfer window will do for us in 2018/19. Thanks for your comments Simon.

  9. December 3, 2017  3:00 pm by Allan Reply

    Good article as usual. Lukaku also kicked the Liverpool defender in the head and got away with it and I saw no media reaction to the incident you are talking about but if a City player looks sideways at an opponent the FA will have to review. Maybe even if a City player "walks aggressively". Arsene Wenger slanders Raheem Sterling and gets away with it Pogba says this stuff and it seems alright. Over to you FA. Oh I forgot David Gill is in charge there, no wonder it's a shambles. I am also guessing the referee for the derby will be that rag who watched Luiz assault Aguero last season while he was 5 yards away and looked at his linesman, is it Atwell. Well we have beaten 12 men and the FA before so let's hope we can do it again.

    • December 3, 2017  11:30 pm by David Walker Reply

      Great stuff! It'll just make City's undoubted and inevitable success and trophy haul all the more pleasurable under Pep, because we'll not only have beaten our opponents on the field, but also a corrupt 'establishment' off it.

  10. December 4, 2017  8:54 am by Pete lynch Reply

    Great read David as ever. Pogba not the brightest is he?!!! Great late win Sunday and now to annihilate the scum!!

    • December 4, 2017  1:53 pm by David Walker Reply

      Now that sir, sounds like a plan ;-)

  11. December 4, 2017  12:16 pm by Richard Cooper Reply

    I can write this with hindsight. Once again it was a game of attrition, but keeping to the Pep mantra and style of play, we have won our 3rd hard earned but deserved game this week, and these 9 points are just as crucial as any in the forthcoming games.
    We all hope we beat Manu next Sunday, nay thrash them, but the title will be won not on 2 Derby games but the other 36 games of which City have made a darn good fist of to date.
    To listen to some comments at half time yesterday, I thought I was at a struggling bottom half of the table team. Having "upped" our game in the 2nd half it appeared inevitable we would get the breakthrough and yes it came with the El Mago acrobatic kick.
    No bookings for the trio on 4 cards but think KdB is now 1 booking away.
    As for Pogba and his comments - well his sending off was I guess "poetic" justice !!

    • December 4, 2017  1:57 pm by David Walker Reply

      We are as one on most matters RC. An additional thought on Pogba - although it obviously isn't going to happen - but isn't saying or advocating your rivals get injured bringing the game into 'disrepute'? Great example to set for the children, wouldn't you say. Still, it's United so what should we expect. Still time for David Gill to pop Pogba's appeal in against his red card and get it rescinded. Let's win on Sunday and let City's actions do our talking.

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