Will the tide turn for Pellegrini? QPR 2 Man City 2

It’s easy to be ‘PC’ and support your ‘MP’ when he’s riding the crest of a wave, but it takes a little more than political correctness to swim against a tide of perceived failure and maintain faith in stormy seas.

As a vortex of negativity threatens to drag Manuel Pellegrini under, drowning his managerial reign and washing away Manchester City’s hopes of major honours, those demanding his head would do well to tread water.

A different ‘PC’ – in the guise of perspective and calm – is required to see if the man who delivered the Premier League title just 11 games ago can steady City’s, admittedly, rocking boat.

One Man Band - Sergio's goals are helping keep City afloat in their title defence. Courtesy@MCFC

One Man Band – Sergio’s goals are helping keep City afloat in their title defence. Courtesy@MCFC

In the wake of a steady flow of poor recent results, there are plenty of City ‘fans’ ready to throw Manuel overboard – would they be the same ‘fans’ who were singing about Sheikh Mansour, a Lamborghini and Pellegrini on May 11th?

A thrilling see-saw, splash-down encounter in West London’s driving rain, saw City emerge with a 2-2 draw last night against a rejuvenated Queen’s Park Rangers – a team fighting for Premier League survival.

Sergio Aguero showed why he is simply the best striker in the top flight with a brace of brilliantly taken goals, twice dragging City back on level terms.

Fully fit, he’s now bagged a dozen in 11 games and his finishing was sublime in a nigh on submerged Loftus Road.

Brilliant - City need to sign Joe Hart to a new long term deal - what's the delay? Courtesy@MCFC

Brilliant – City need to sign Joe Hart to a new long term deal – what’s the delay? Courtesy@MCFC

At the other end Joe Hart was at his brilliant best – despite an amazing let off – in an enthralling duel with QPR forward Charlie Austin.

The lively Austin was all go as he had the ball in City’s net twice within the space of two minutes, but to no avail.

Clearly offside with a headed ‘goal’, the City keeper subsequently gift-wrapped a poor free kick to the QPR man’s feet and Austin fired the ball past Hart for a second time.

Joe had accidentally double hit the kick as he slipped on the sodden turf and, under Law 13 of FIFA’s rules it meant the ball was not ‘live in play.’ As such Austin’s second ‘goal’ was immediately chalked off.

Incredibly, referee Mike Dean spotted the infringement in an instant from 50 yards up field and was whistling to disallow the goal, almost before it hit the back of the net.

Austin all-aggro - QPR striker gave City's defence a torrid evening. Courtesy@MCFC

Austin all-aggro – QPR striker gave City’s defence a torrid evening. Courtesy@MCFC

Credit where it’s due, it was a superb observation and application of the rule – a rule that possibly only Mr Dean, his assistants and Joe Hart were quick to highlight.

It was third time lucky for Austin in the 21st minute when, with a hint of offside, he drove a low shot beyond Hart.

Hart defied the ex-Burnley striker with a string of truly world class saves, and it would serve City well to get his signature on a new long term contract, sooner rather than later.

Aguero levelled the score on 32 minutes when his superb first touch controlled a long punt from Mangala, before twisting and turning Caulker and Dunne inside out and smashing the ball past Robert Green.

Like Austin’s goal, there was hint of offside plus an involuntary handball, but it was 1-1.

Unlucky - QPR had a goal disallowed because of FIFA's Law 13 after Charlie Austin thought he'd put Rangers 1-0 up. Courtesy@MCFC

Unlucky – QPR had a goal disallowed because of FIFA’s Law 13 after Charlie Austin thought he’d put Rangers 1-0 up. Courtesy@MCFC

City had used up all three substitutions by the time Demichelis inadvertently steered a header beyond Hart to give the hosts a 2-1 lead in the 76th in minute.

Dzeko on for Fernandinho limped off with a hamstring injury after only four minutes to be replaced by Super Frankie Lampard – always a ‘favourite’ with the Shepherds Bush faithful, courtesy of his Chelsea links.

Milner came on for a tiring Nasri and was denied the equaliser when Caulker cleared his header off the line.

It was left to Super Sergio to help salvage a point in the 83rd minute when Yaya Toure struck an exquisite 50 yard pass from the centre circle. Aguero peeled away from a trio of QPR defenders in the 18 yard box, bamboozled Green, kept his composure and hammered it home.

Past & Present - ex-City midfielder Joey Barton battles with present day City talisman Yaya. Courtesy@MCFC

Past & Present – ex-City midfielder Joey Barton battles with present day City talisman Yaya. Courtesy@MCFC

City more than deserved a share of the spoils after 23 attempts on goal, numerous near misses and the lion’s share of possession, but the draw was a fair outcome.

The corresponding weekend last year saw City thrown into darkness at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light after a 1-0 defeat, their fourth of the season, left them languishing in 8th place in the table.

City’s record after 11 games read P11 W6 D1 L4 F28 A12 Pts 19. Pellegrini then proceeded to lead his team to 11 wins and a draw in their next dozen league fixtures, before finally losing to Chelsea on February 3rd, nearly three months on.

The fact it was Chelsea who ended the run is ironic, given that they are now eight points ahead of a City side whose record this season reads P11 W6 D3 L2 F22 A12 Pts 21.

Sour face - City need to put in a run of winning performances and catch up with Mourinho's Chelsea.

Sour face – City need to put in a run of winning performances and catch up with Mourinho’s Chelsea.

Of course it’s far from ideal to be so far adrift of Jose Mourinho’s thus far imperious team, but even Maureen has said he doesn’t envisage his team going undefeated until next May.

There are so many intangibles that lie ahead – injuries, loss of form, freak results – it’s a well worn cliché about football being a ‘funny old game’ – so to ditch Pellegrini now, with 81 points still up for grabs, would be indecently premature.

Yes, City have far too often looked rudderless at the rear and are shipping goals with alarming regularity, but they’ve conceded the same amount as last year after 11 games.

The Equalizer - Super Sergio makes it 2-2. Courtesy@MCFC

The Equalizer – Super Sergio makes it 2-2. Courtesy@MCFC

Make no bones about it, the performance levels are of concern – the Moscow misery in particular – but it’s not a time for knee-jerk over reactions.

For once an international break has come at a good time. By the time Swansea come to the Etihad in a fortnight, closely followed by Bayern Munich, it’s to be hoped that David Silva and Vincent Kompany will be fit and raring to go.

It isn’t delusional to say City can still win a third title in four years, albeit there is scant evidence to suggest it thus far.

Step up to the plate - New signing Fernando needs to up his game. Courtesy@MCFC

Step up to the plate – New signing Fernando needs to up his game. Courtesy@MCFC

There again, who gave City a prayer when they won a title from being eight points behind with six games to play in 2012, or a second PL crown from six points behind with just five games to go?

Chelsea were fortunate to leave the Etihad with a point in September, despite City being reduced to 10 men, so make no mistake they can and will be beaten.

As for Pellegrini – The Engineer – he needs to get the football equivalent of WD40 and start spraying it around the place. Far too many of his squad, both new and old are looking rusty and unfit for purpose.

This summer’s star buys Fernando and Mangala seem to think they’re still playing in Portugal’s Primeira Liga, where they can procrastinate and pinch a siesta, sleepwalking into insipid tackles or downright dozy distribution.

Sweet Jesus - Navas and City created lots of opportunities. Courtesy @MCFC

Sweet Jesus – Navas and City created lots of opportunities. Courtesy @MCFC

Nicknamed ‘The Octopus’ for his alleged ability to reach in and dispossess opponents, Fernando seems to have lost the use of his tentacles! His ball control also leaves much to be desired.

His former Porto team-mate, Eliaquim Mangala, made a dream debut against Chelsea, looking every inch the £32m acquisition, bought to form a long term centre half pairing with Vincent Kompany.

Subsequently, the 23-year old has played an all too prominent part in a City backline which, Demichelis aside, is a French Disconnection!

Notionally, Mangala, Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy should be an effective defensive trio, but rather like the infamous Maginot Line – fortifications built by the French in the 1930s to prevent a German invasion – they are all too easily outflanked.

Rain Man - Yaya's superb 50 yard pass set up Aguero's equaliser at 2-2. Courtesy@MCFC

Rain Man – Yaya’s superb 50 yard pass set up Aguero’s equaliser at 2-2. Courtesy@MCFC

QPR striker Charlie Austin, veteran battering ram centre forward, Bobby Zamora and winger Eduardo Vargas ‘merde-ered’ City’s French triumvirate with consummate ease – embarrassingly so.

City’s title renaissance – if there is to be one – is going to have to start back-to-front, with clean sheets a pre-requisite.

On nine occasions this season City have gone a goal behind and each time failed to win – that tells a story in itself. Is the defence threadbare because the full backs are being told to push up and leaving their flanks exposed?

Pressured Pellegrini - Manuel needs his team to get the goals flowing in at one end and plug up conceding at the other. Courtesy @MCFC

Pressured Pellegrini – Manuel needs his team to get the goals flowing in at one end and plug up conceding at the other. Courtesy @MCFC

Is it still a World Cup hangover for the likes of Kompany and Zabaleta – if it is, it isn’t good enough. Forget fatigue – enough of Chelsea’s players went to Brazil 2014 for that to be discounted as a reason.

Social media continues to gibber-jabber about ‘something not being right…’ behind the scenes at City – dressing room discontent, players not happy with an intransigent Pellegrini and his refusal to adopt a more pragmatic approach.

Whatever is or isn’t going on behind the scenes, it still falls to Pellegrini to chart a course through choppy conditions before City’s season goes down the plughole. I wish this charming man all the best in his endeavours.

 

#TrustOurMP

 

By David Walker

Dedicated to the men, women and animals of our Armed Services, who gave their lives so that we may live ours free from fear and repression.

Red and always remembered - Poppies to those who fell in the service of their country. The wonderful floral tribute to our Service men and women at the Tower of London.

Red and always remembered – Poppies to those who fell in the service of their country. The wonderful floral tribute to our Service men and women at the Tower of London.

Their unimaginable sacrifice leaves us humbled, heavy of heart with a debt we can never repay.

Forever red…

Respect and eternal gratitude on Rememberance Sunday.

Respect and eternal gratitude on Rememberance Sunday.

We WILL remember them!

Remembering the fallen - Gael Clichy, James Milner and Vincent Kompany show their support for the Royal British Legion. Courtesy@MCFC

Remembering the fallen – Gael Clichy, James Milner and Vincent Kompany show their support for the Royal British Legion. Courtesy@MCFC

www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu

 

 

22 Comments

  1. November 9, 2014  8:11 pm by Susan Richardson Reply

    Well I wasn't expecting this measured prose after your missives yesterday. I agree stop the sloppy passing, get the back 4 right and we will be back to our best. Hope they come back sorted and playing well for MP.

    • November 9, 2014  9:32 pm by David Walker Reply

      It was a reflection of the team not necessarily the manager. To my mind we need players to earn their wages and want to contribute to the overall betterment of the club. Sadly there are some at City who need to be shipped out as they don't seem to understand or don't want to buy in to a team ethos e.g. there's no 'I' in team. There is an 'i' in Clichy and others! There's an 'i' in Pellegrini but I would suggest the two are poles apart in their approach. I support Manuel at this moment and the players need to get working - properly!

  2. November 9, 2014  8:36 pm by Eileen Fullen Reply

    I for one hold my hands up as one who questioned Pellars stubbornness for 4-4-2 but would genuinely hope he does stay and the boys start fighting again. Watching yesterday the work rate was poor and yet on the other hand some tried to rectify their mistakes.the break hopefully will bring some break mentally. So fingers crossed we fight the fight.wonderful read once again and remembering those lost a big Thank You

    • November 9, 2014  9:36 pm by David Walker Reply

      We rant and rave about football and think it's such a big deal but the reality is that it isn't when contrasted with war. Our military in Afghanistan and other trouble spots should be far better rewarded and the footballers greatly less - but that isn't going to happen anytime soon. The world's bloody crazy when a footballer who can't be arsed to work hard gets a six figure weekly pay packet and a soldier earns a pittance. Stark staring bonkers.

  3. November 9, 2014  9:26 pm by Doug Henshaw Reply

    I must admit to wavering in support of MP but I'm not in favour of changeing Manager's cos we're having a bad spell. But on the other hand he has got to wake up to the fact that he needs to stop being so stubborn & see that things have to change. Some of the players need to take a long look at there self's & realise they have to do better. Thanks God for Aguero what would he be worth in transfer market truly a world class player. Great read Dave & wonderful respect on Rembered Day without out there sacrifice we might not be able to give opinions on anything.

    • November 9, 2014  9:42 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Doug. When I look at the contrast between modern day footballers and those who have given their lives, and continue to risk their lives, in the name of freedom and trying to keep us safe from extremists, it makes me bloody sick. Notwithstanding that, I think MP is a very good manager and a gent and some of the brats in the team need to at least try and 'earn' a fraction of their obscene wages. I know it's all about supply and demand and market forces blah blah blah, but Jeez, what a life they have. Some need to put a shift in and realise they have a cosseted life like no other.Rant over...for now!

  4. November 9, 2014  10:02 pm by Fifthcolumnblue Reply

    We got hit with a spending cap by UEFA. Every team needs to evolve year on year, whether that be by buying new players or introducing players from the academy. We bought new players, but does anyone actually think we'd have ended up with the solid but unspectacular Sagna if we'd had the chance to buy better? Do you think Pellegrini and or Begaristain/Soriano would have allowed a striker like Negredo to leave without replacing him?

    I blame UEFA for many of our problems, and as some of our players age (Yaya, DeMichelis) we went into the market to address a few problems - Mangala for instance, although pricey, is rated as one of the best emerging defensive talents in Europe. He hasn't settled in at all, although I still have faith that he will. Fernando similarly, was a top player in Portugal and very highly rated - but he currently looks a bit lost in the EPL.

    We still have the majority of the squad that won the double last season, and we have made, what look to be decent additions on paper at least, so it really is a matter of having the patience to allow the new players to gain some form and the players we already have like Fernandinho and Nasri regain theirs after injury.

    I'm beginning to doubt whether the title is within our grasp this season, but do feel that this team will improve immeasurably in the next few months, and that certain areas where we are deficient, such as at Left Back and at CF will be addressed in January.

    Keep the faith fellow Blues, nothing has been decided yet!

    • November 9, 2014  11:29 pm by David Walker Reply

      There's no doubt FFP has affected us and one can only wonder why we didn't, in reality, spend a penny of the £49m constraint placed on us by the muppets from UEFA. We actually made something like a £9m net profit, so we should theoretically have at least £58m to play with in January. A new LB is a priority but I'll leave that to MP ;-)

  5. November 9, 2014  10:21 pm by Philip Entwistle Reply

    City are going through a crisis of confidence, sorry, City fans are going through a crisis of confidence. We all see the abject, dismal display of total incompetence, but then we see the 'meastro' at work and everything is OK. We are as everybody tells us better off that this stage than last season yet we are a club in total in free fall as the media pack are all to quick to tell us. Please trust in MCFC to get this right, we are without doubt in my opinion the finest, honest, self afacing fans in the country, yet we are turning into the wolf pack who snap at everything that goes wrong as somebody elses fault. The debacle that was CSKA was even worse in my eyes by the downright bigotry and hatred against any CSKA fan who gained entry into the Etihad, your blogger included and yet we lauded the enterprise and ingenuity of 'Jocky' aka Wilson Pratt {no that really is his name} the only City fan acknowledged to get into the Stadium in Moscow. Sorry is this reads as some diatribe but for gods sake let 's get a reality check, we are the current Barclays Premier League Champions, lets act like it. It could be worse, we could follow the swamp dwellers and the scouse inbreds - Keep Calm and give the ball to Sergio.

    • November 9, 2014  11:34 pm by David Walker Reply

      We are fortunate to live in a society that permits freedom of speech so, as ever, thanks for reading and commenting. Obviously our views differ in respect of the ban on CSKA fans in Manchester. I believe in doing unto others as they do unto you and, in that respect I saw no reason why we should permit CSKA fans into the Etihad. At least we have a platform on which we are able to disagree.

  6. November 9, 2014  11:38 pm by Graham Ward Reply

    A thoughtful piece. Chelsea are the one side in the league that's standing apart from the rest, and, if they maintain this current rate of form, will deserve where they finish.
    The bonus for them is that all of the supposed challengers are so inconsistent, but at least we showed a little fight to get the draw. Although a cracking game to watch, in poor conditions, our overall game was very mixed. A lot of misplaced passes, but moments of quality that we didn't finish off, witness the two whipped crosses early in the second half that eluded Toure and Aguero.
    Remember we also had two efforts cleared off the line, although Hart was lucky with the double touch. Aguero was outstanding, and was one of two players, with Hart, that could look back on this one with satisfaction.

    • November 10, 2014  10:45 am by David Walker Reply

      It's the story of our season - so many near misses up front, a midfield that goes AWOL and a defence left exposed, but admittedly one that is often all over the place. It isn't over yet but we're going to have to up our performance levels in a big way and hope to capitalise when Chelsea do eventually slip.

  7. November 10, 2014  5:03 am by Andy Bird Reply

    Nice summary. It is a rare season in the EPL if every team does not have a bad run. This is our time and we will get through it. Changing a manager or wanting to when we are 3rd is more about the media wanting to stir things than knowing what actually goes on behind the scenes at City. Having listened to our Chairman post season for last few years I doubt a mid season change is even on his mind. Yes a review at year end and rightly so. As for Chelsea, our experience of recent years, shows playing on all 4 fronts very rarely works and I believe they will also have a wobble. We just need to be the team that is back on form when that happens. So for now, time to refocus, play a higher tempo game and get back to winning ways.

    • November 10, 2014  10:42 am by David Walker Reply

      Sounds like a plan! We need some 'Etihad' - unity - in the ranks and let's get back on track #TOGETHER.

  8. November 10, 2014  7:02 am by goonermichael Reply

    We're all doing our best to give the chavs the title.

    • November 10, 2014  10:41 am by David Walker Reply

      Sadly it appears so, but you never know...

  9. November 10, 2014  11:16 am by Toby Teasdale Reply

    “Social media continues to gibber-jabber about ‘something not being right…’ behind the scenes at City – dressing room discontent, players not happy with an intransigent Pellegrini and his refusal to adopt a more pragmatic approach”. Shades of Mancini!

    Latest news is there will be no money to spend at Christmas. Kept in bank vault ready for next manager perhaps?.

    If I were MP I would be more concerned about a P45 (his) than cans of WD40.

    Déjà vu.

    • November 10, 2014  3:21 pm by David Walker Reply

      I fear so TT and I feel enormous sympathy for MP, whereas it appears Roberto was largely the architect of his own downfall. It shouldn't be that difficult for some of our players to read their job descriptions e.g. give 100% maximum effort every game and work within the framework as directed by the manager. If they do that and it all goes wrong, then it is fairly and squarely on the manager. I don't believe that to be the case in this instance.

      If, as and when City have a new man at the helm I think we'll quickly see two or three departures. Time will tell.

  10. November 11, 2014  5:09 pm by NefBet Reply

    I strongly doubt the fact that City's fans are after pelegrini's head... A bit disappointed, perhaps. But most of us, still believe in him.

    • November 13, 2014  8:40 am by David Walker Reply

      I hope so. He's brought us susccess and we have to get behind him in times of trouble. It's no good being fairweather fans, we 've a rich history of supporting City through good and bad and very bad times so we'd better not start changing that culture anytime soon.

  11. November 12, 2014  10:03 am by James HouseOlogy Reply

    Great piece, just a shame David that all your articles of late are having to pick the bones of sloppy performances rather celebrate glorious wins!!! Albeit as champions does not necessarily mean that we have the right to continue this form, but what we're seeing at the moment is hard to fathoms.... Let's hope the international break gives the team fresh perspective and this blip ends.... As Alan S wrote in the Sun for the good of the title race City need to come out guns blazing and although Chelski are 8pts clear and winning games there not blowing teams away like we did last term and I can see them dropping points soon City must be ready to pounce and show our qualities that we all know we have. I still have faith.... It's just being tested at the moment.

    • November 13, 2014  7:34 am by David Walker Reply

      This 'Faith' woman gets about a bit - we're always told to have a bit of her! Seriously, we need a perspective and it's almost reached a stage where we have nothing to lose in relation to the title.

      We have to up the tempo of our play, physically work harder, run faster, tackle to better effect and take more of the chances we continue to create.

      Above all else we need defensive drills and our defensive midfielders to work in harmony with the back four and keep clean sheets.

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