13 days, 6 points, 5 goals & 2 places up help ease City’s pain

Realistically, Manchester City remain as Champions of England for another 48 hours or, at best, until next Sunday afternoon when the ribbons on the Premier League trophy will go a deeper shade of blue.

In truth City surrendered the title to Chelsea with three abhorrent away losses at Liverpool, Burnley and Crystal Palace, prior to the derby day horror show at Old Trafford.

The joy of giving - Brad Guzan earned an assist for Aguero's opening goal. Courtesy@MCFC

The joy of giving – Brad Guzan earned an assist for Aguero’s opening goal. Courtesy@MCFC

A tidal wave of disappointment and under achievement has swept away any lingering hopes of another come-from-behind title surge, but at least a familiar ‘one-two’ over opponents in claret and blue has seen City grab consecutive wins and regain 2nd spot in the table.

City were less than convincing in a topsy turvy encounter against a combative Aston Villa, surrendering a two goal advantage before squeaking home 3-2, amidst a plethora of controversial refereeing decisions.

Hart-ache - Joe shows his pain at the end of the derby day defeat. Courtesy@MCFC

Hart-ache – Joe shows his pain at the end of the derby day defeat. Courtesy@MCFC

Referee Mike Dean and his assistants contributed yet another chapter to a litany of refereeing ineptitude, witnessed far too often in the Premier League this season.

While plucky Villa and the media bemoaned an onside Christian Benteke being flagged as offside, prior to Joe Hart felling the mountainous Belgian striker, little or no focus was given to a stonewall penalty for Sergio Aguero.

21 today - Sergio slots home the goal that puts him top of the race for the Golden Boot. Courtesy@MCFC

21 today – Sergio slots home the goal that puts him top of the race for the Golden Boot. Courtesy@MCFC

The Argentine striker was hauled down by Bacuna literally 10 yards in front of Dean, who had clear sight of the incident. Aguero’s protestations as he chased after the Wirral official told their own story.

To a slightly lesser degree – but nonetheless still a City penalty – David Silva was scythed down as Okore took man and ball. Dean, as arrogant as he’s ever been, wasn’t the least bit interested.

Silva scythed - David was 'cleaned out' by the Villa's Okore, but ref Mike Dean thought otherwise. Courtesy@MCFC

Silva scythed – David was ‘cleaned out’ by the Villa’s Okore, but ref Mike Dean thought otherwise. Courtesy@MCFC

Naturally a feisty and as forthright as ever, Tim Sherwood, claimed Villa could have won 3-2 and Hart should have been shown the red card, had it not been for the linesman’s mistake.

In truth, City would have been three or four nil up had they had the correct penalty decisions, the complexion of the game altered beyond all measure, before Manure cast-off Cleverly capitalised on a wayward Hart, marooned in no-man’s land, to make it 2-1.

Get in - Fernandinho smashes home City's late winner...direct FROM A CORNER! Courtesy@MCFC

Get in – Fernandinho smashes home City’s late winner…direct FROM A CORNER! Courtesy@MCFC

Sanchez’s 85th minute equaliser could have given relegation threatened Villa a merited draw, but City substitute Fernandinho pulled off both the Great Escape and Mission Impossible when he volleyed home the 89th minute winner…direct from a corner!

It had only been 41 league and cup games, 224 days and close to 300 attempts, since City had last scored directly from a corner kick, at Arsenal with a Martin Demichelis header last September.

Ministry of Defence - Demichelis and Mangala are City's centre back partnership in Kompany's absence. Courtesy@MCFC

Ministry of Defence – Demichelis and Mangala are City’s centre back partnership in Kompany’s absence. Courtesy@MCFC

In a game where City stumbled and spluttered against a reinvigorated Villa, the Brazilian’s brilliantly taken goal was the redeeming feature.

It helped that Villa keeper Brad Guzan played Father Christmas to Sergio in the third minute, gifting him a goal with one of the wackiest ‘clearances’ ever seen at the Etihad.

The City wags were onto it in a flash with a chorus of, ‘There’s only one Shay Given, one Shay Given…’ reverberating around the ground.

Received with thanks - West Ham's James Collins scored a cracking own goal for City. Courtesy@MCFC

Received with thanks – West Ham’s James Collins scored a cracking own goal for City. Courtesy@MCFC

On the evidence of Saturday night, the veteran Ireland and ex-City keeper could well retain his FA Cup starting berth at Wembley next month.

Guzan’s generosity followed on from West Ham defender’s James Collins’ spirit of giving, having scored a stunning own goal the week before, as City racked up their usual home win over the Hammers.

Fancy bumping into you - Jesus and Sergio celebrate against West Ham. Courtesy@MCFC

Fancy bumping into you – Jesus and Sergio celebrate against West Ham. Courtesy@MCFC

Every little helps and, despite all the comparative doom and gloom associated with the Etihad, City are the Premier League’s highest scorers with 70 goals and Sergio, the top individual marksman with 21 from 26 starts and three appearances from the bench…and still he doesn’t make it into the PFA Premier League Team of the Year – what a farce.

Whereas prolific Aguero leads the way, Serbian sniper Aleksander Kolarov rifled home his first goal of the season, from 30 yards out, to put City two up on 66 minutes.

Incoming - Kolarov's sweet strike en-route to City's second goal against Villa. Courtesy@MCFC

Incoming – Kolarov’s sweet strike en-route to City’s second goal against Villa. Courtesy@MCFC

Villa’s defensive wall played ‘Chicken’ with the Balkan sharpshooter…and duly turned yellow, ducking out of the line of fire as AK 47 whipped it home with vicious precision past Guzan.

With automatic qualification for the Champions League the priority, it was cliché corner and the result, rather than the performance being all important.

Thumbs up - AK salutes his super-strike. Courtesy@MCFC

Thumbs up – AK salutes his super-strike. Courtesy@MCFC

Just as well. The win was vital, especially in the light of Manure’s tonking in the blue half of Merseyside, and with it, City’s destiny being thrust back into their own hands.

Four more wins and 12 points will certainly secure third place, perhaps even the runners-up slot, albeit Arsenal have a game in hand.

From Manuel Pellegrini’s perspective it has to be a bonus that Manure still have to play the Gunners at The Swamp, so one, or even both teams, have to drop points.

Sizzling Sergio - Aguero destroyed Spurs with four goals at the Etihad earlier this season. Courtesy@MCFC

Sizzling Sergio – Aguero destroyed Spurs with four goals at the Etihad earlier this season. Courtesy@MCFC

The problem for Pellegrini is that such is the ramshackle state of City’s play, along with huge doubts surrounding the commitment of a number of players to the cause, he doesn’t know which City will turn up from one match to the next.

Yes, on paper the team have bounced back from the 4-2 affront in Trafford Borough, but as his team head to Tottenham on Sunday, they are light years away from the side that smashed Spurs 5-1 at White Hart Lane on their last visit.

Below par - Kompany and Nasri are among the City players who have underperformed this season. Courtesy@MCFC

Below par – Kompany and Nasri are among the City players who have underperformed this season. Courtesy@MCFC

Skipper Vincent Kompany is already out for the remainder of the season and the extent of vice captain Yaya Toure’s hamstring injury is still to be determined.

It’s pure speculation, but could we have seen the last of Yaya in City’s colours?

Recent utterances to a French sports publication in relation to PSG and ‘new challenges’, aligned to denigratory comments about City by his agent, Dimitri Seluk, strongly suggest it’ll be a case of ‘Au revoir Yaya’ this summer.

Down and probably out? Has Yaya played his last game for City? Courtesy@MCFC

Down and probably out? Has Yaya played his last game for City? Courtesy@MCFC

If a lacklustre 45 minutes against Villa prove to be his final contribution to the City ‘project’, it will be an ignominious end to what, until this season, had been a glorious City career.

His influence and starring role in City’s transformation to two-time PL Champions as well as FA and League Cup winners cannot be overstated.

At the age of 32, the Ivorian colossus may well still have much to give to an employer, but it’s unlikely to be at the Etihad.

At the best of times, Yaya’s often languid demeanour can be off-putting to fans, especially if it isn’t interspersed with explosive impersonations of an unstoppable runaway juggernaut, rampaging up field and terrorising opponents.

Those were the days... Yaya fires home City's 100th league goal last season en-route to the Premier League title. Courtesy@MCFC

Those were the days… Yaya fires home City’s 100th league goal last season en-route to the Premier League title. Courtesy@MCFC

He can still pick a perfect long range pass and the adage that form is temporary while class is permanent, cannot be easily banished.

That said, City need a ‘Sheikh up’ this summer and a mithering multi-millionaire malcontent won’t figure very highly when ushering in new sky blue horizons.

City have to evolve beyond the nucleus of the 2011/12 champions crafted by Roberto Mancini, and that means life without Yaya.

New arrival - Zaba has to stay at the Etihad next season, along with newborn son Asier. Courtesy@MCFC

New arrival – Zaba has to stay at the Etihad next season, along with newborn son Asier. Courtesy@MCFC

Bobby Manc’s Inter Milan will undoubtedly be among possible suitors for Toure, with Roberto and Yaya involved in a very public mutual appreciation society in recent weeks.

Whatever ins & outs transpire at the Etihad, be it on the playing or coaching staff, it behoves all presently in the pay of Sheikh Mansour to rescue the remnants of 2014/15 over the remaining 360 minutes of the season.

Which direction? Will Manuel be staying or going? Courtesy@MCFC

Which direction? Will Manuel be staying or going? Courtesy@MCFC

Champions League qualification and finishing above Manure would have been the very least of City’s expectations last August.

Sadly, it will now represent the pinnacle of a season that everyone associated with City would rather forget.

By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu




  1. April 27, 2015  7:11 pm by mark Reply

    great read ... i hope ur wrong bout yaya i want him to stay only time will tell

    • April 27, 2015  7:27 pm by David Walker Reply

      I don't think I am and, based on this season, both on and off the field, I hope I'm not. Ta-ta Yaya! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. April 27, 2015  7:12 pm by Rob Leek Reply

    Enjoyable read Mr W. Not quite as theatrical as Mr Aguero when Bacuna tapped him on the shoulder to ask directions in the Villa box. Had he not done a Tom Daley (if you'd pardon the expression), he might have been awarded a penalty. I am naturally biased towards B6, but the Okore ball winning tackle in the box was just a hard tackle which some refs would give as a pen and some wouldn't. In any event, against a team with two reserve midfielders playing in the Villa defence and limited pace without Agbonlahor, Weimann, Gil and Sinclair to choose from, Sheik supported Citeh should have despatched us with ease. It says more about the standard of the EPL than MCFC that your team should finish in the top 3 this season. Let's face it, Villa and Citeh this season are no better than Championship and mid-table Prem from years past. Anyway, UTV and let's hope the summer allows us all to get the standards up. You never know, our respective clubs may give some of the Sky money back to the supporters? Sorry, been drinking!

    • April 27, 2015  7:40 pm by David Walker Reply

      So which of the two penalty appeals should City have been awarded? Remember your text of Saturday evening the one that read 'You should have had one pen'? I can understand why Villa feel they should have come away with a point, but the media frenzy to portray Villa as being wronged, without the counter balance of the penalty denials was typical anti-MCFC media coverage. You make a fair point about the overall standard of the Premier League - no English teams in the QF of the Champions League is a damning indictment. City know they have to up their game - massively - on this year's performances. They need to invest far more wisely than in recent years. It should be an interesting summer in the transfer market. As for Villa, I hope they stay up as they're 30 mins up the road and normally good for three away points ;-) Hope you beat Arsenic Whinger at Wembley and obviously go easy on the celebratory alcohol - it's clearly too much for you as it is :-) Sky money (hic)back to the (hic) fans, (burp and stumble into lamp post). PS I appreciate the irony.

      • April 27, 2015  9:08 pm by Rob Leek Reply

        The Aguero one. If he hadn't done an Olympic winning dive, he'd have got the pen. It's funny how opposing supporters see things. Watching match of the day, I thought I was watching a different game. MCFC may not get the same rub as Chelski, Manure, Arse nal or even the bin dippers, but in comparison to the likes of us and probably Stoke, Newcastle etc, their bias towards the top 5 has reached the point of insulting. That is the last MoTD I shall be watching. I suppose there's a temporary story in the 'decline' of City for the journos, I can only dream of such a decline!

        • April 27, 2015  10:58 pm by David Walker Reply

          Most magnanimous oh Villainous one. Even as the Champions of England a lot of City fans don't watch MotD - Morons on The Decline - because their so-called experts are biased, bland tossers...and that's being objective. The standard of refereeing in general has undoubtedly dropped, but what can you expect when you have an obnoxious quarter-wit like Mike Riley as the 'top man' at the trips-so-easily-off-the-tongue Professional Game Match Officals Board - PGMOB. You dream your dream fella, the one where your boys pick up a shiny cup in London next month.

  3. April 27, 2015  7:44 pm by Blue inc Reply

    Good read as always Dave..
    No mention of the pitch being soaked and our player given boots with no studs it would seem, not one villa player slipped that day as I can recall?
    The Coaching staff? Would that include the person kept on for his knowledge of the premier League and that scored 2 goals against us on his debut for Arsenal? Think MP did better in his debut season not knowing anything about the Premier League.
    Time for a clear out behind the scenes also IMHO, we were promised it by Khaldoon in his take a pinch speech but yet I've heard nothing of any Chiefs being let go after the FFP debacle.
    2nd place is a must this season.. What happened to the free flowing scoring at will team we were last year?Don't buy all this not being able to spend guff, we are still the same team with only the Beast being sold.

    • April 27, 2015  7:54 pm by David Walker Reply

      Good point I was going to mention the Slippery When Wet tour minus Bon Jovi at the Etihad - bloody ridiculous. Maybe the club shop will be selling Sergio signed crampons for the QPR game? Obviously we're looking for major and positive changes during the summer with at least half-a-dozen players leaving plus the inevitable departures of Frank and Jimmy. Do we trust Txiki with the best part of what could be as much as £200m...NO WE BLOODY WELL DO NOT! Appreciate your feedback.

  4. April 27, 2015  8:18 pm by Blue inc Reply

    I Think Txiki isn't as bad as Marwood and the powers that be moved him into a higher position at the club did they not( Rodwell sinclair Maicon Hargreaves) ...Txiki has more clout and contacts than you and I know, his best mate is Pep so with the rumour Klopp to Bayern doing the rounds I'd keep him onside.
    Never understand why Guidetti wasn't named 4th striker because MP wanted him on loan whilst a Malaga, instead they buy Boney for a mouth watering 28mil when we had a home grown who would have done better IMO..
    I will stop wittering on now..

    Cheers!! CTID..

    • April 27, 2015  11:16 pm by David Walker Reply

      City did Roberto Mancini a disservice after we won the title in 2012. He wanted Van Persie and De Rossi as key signings. Had City bought them we would undoubtedly have retained the title and gone beyond the Group stages of Champions League. Once again we bought badly when seeking to defend the PL crown.

      As for Guidetti I must disagree - he's not even Celtic's first choice striker this season! Sven, Hughes, Mancini, Pellegrini, Hughes at Stoke and now Deila in Scotland - none have seen fit to give him top billing - there have to be reasons. Thanks for your contribution to RBNR.

      • April 30, 2015  12:37 pm by blue inc Reply

        Sven? He arrived at our club age 16 in 2008...
        Hughes wouldn't give sturridge a start forcing him to move to Chelsea so what chance did JG have?Also remember Hughes was only at our club to hault progress buying old has beens and crocks (W.B RSC) putting them on huge wages so they
        (Gill & co) could conconct FFP..
        Under Mancini he was loaned out rather than given a chance in the first team Burnley Feyernord then after his 20 goals in 23 at Feyernord he sufferd food poisoning at his girlfriends birthday party and came down with a rare illness to his central nervous system that threatened to end his career... He is on loan at Celtic so I very much doubt he would start before a full time player but still he has 9 goals to his name whilst the leading goal scorer Griffithis who start nearly every game has only 12 whilst having
        represented Sweden at several youth levels our club let his contract run out and lose out IMHO..Watch his value increase after he has left our club..

        • April 30, 2015  12:46 pm by David Walker Reply

          If Celtic thought JG was the man they'd start him - why wouldn't they if it's to their benefit and shows JG that he's rated and wanted? I always believed he would come good for us, but there HAS to be something not happening on the training ground for so many managers to pass up the opportunity to have him in their senior squad/First Team plans. Only time will tell if your assessment is correct. He did very well at Feyenoord but the Eredivisie is far from being the most demanding league in the world. Blimey Samaras flourished at Heerenveen! I take your point about Sven, it must be that Sven, like you, believes/believed in him. Thanks for an informed 'debate' on the topic.

          • May 1, 2015  8:05 pm by Blue inc

            Sven left in 2008 when JG was bought and loaned back to BP...
            Edgar Davids, Arjen Robben, Luis suarez, to name just a few that came out of the non demanding Eredivisie league, have you forgot what Ajax did to us in the Champions league..
            If it is a poor league like you think Why would you loan Players that you want to make into great players to a non demanding league?
            Thanks for your replies..

          • May 1, 2015  9:55 pm by David Walker

            I'm not disputing that some very good players eminate from or pass through the Dutch League, but it's nowhere near as fast or physical as the Premier League. I'm not dissing the Eredivisie per se but it's my opinion - nothing more and nothing less - that JG is not the answer for City when seeking to upgrade their front line players. I wish he was part of the solution because it would save us a shedload of money...but he isn't.

  5. April 27, 2015  8:22 pm by Stephen Reply

    I watched this and just sat whole game going if we had delph it would tick a lot of boxes. The unglamourous mf role. Thought he was superb for villa and vs fernando is no contest. Yaya has been an absolute city legend. I thank him for all his service and wish him well. He will be great in italy but EPL physicality will see him really look his age if he stays. Who in his place as world and his wife want pogba and he aint worth bale money. Genuinely delph and/or mccarthy are unglamourous names but shore that def mf role. If we get all out tgat cleaely want out then summer could be fascinating. End of season goal to stay ahead of that other lot must be the minimum so come on

    • April 27, 2015  8:37 pm by Blue inc Reply

      New Aston Villa signing Fabian Delph says he never had his head turned by a rival offer from Manchester City.

      Few have turned down a move to Eastlands this summer as Agent Hughes assembles a squad capable of challenging for Premier League honours.

      However, Delph insists he is not motivated by money and that by leaving Leeds he is only looking to play and improve as a player.

      Do you remember this Stephen..

      "He's got a track record of bringing on a lot of English talent and making them into players so that's my reason," explained Delph on his decision to choose Villa.
      "No definitely not," when asked if he was tempted to join Agent Hughes' City. "I'm not motivated by money.
      "I want to develop as a player and try to become the best player that I possibly can and I felt that this is the club that can help me to develop."

      • April 27, 2015  11:09 pm by David Walker Reply

        I recall him turning Hughes and City down to go to Villa BUT at the time Villa were, to all intent and purposes, in as good a place as us. How times change ;-)

    • April 27, 2015  8:40 pm by David Walker Reply

      Interesting shout on homegrown midfield grafter - I hadn't considered Delph but we could do a lot worse. In fairness you or I would give Fernando a game ;-) Transfer business often gets the juices flowing and it's been a while since we sapent serious money WISELY. Let's hope this is a summer evolution - or sod it - REVOLUTION with some brilliant business.Runners-up would be no disgrace, especially if it gives Manure a tricky pre-qualification round for the Champions League...which they then go on to lose.

  6. April 27, 2015  9:39 pm by Simon Dear Reply

    Great read David , agree with all your comments & sentiment , rebuilding job starts with Yaya & Dzeko off the wage bill , that should pay for 3 young English internationals. We need some home grown talent & hopefully Richards may come back in , god knows he's better than Boyata , never understood that one.
    Think MP lost direction after we got back in title race at New Year & Yaya returning simply balls everything up, though for me & thousands of others he will always be a legend , and has brought me close to tears at least twice, 1-0 v Rags at Wembley and then against Stoke in the final, last season was the best midfield performance that I have witnessed in a blue shirt & I think once he has gone he will always be held up there with Bell & Franny Lee.
    It will take some player to match him but having said that one that leads us to the UCL title will top him, As for Dzeko his equaliser v QPR will always be eclipsed , and for me he's had half a good season in the EPL and done rock all in Europe ... Other outs , Jovetic ( sick note ) Boyata ( who.) Nasri ( like him a lot but not consistent enough & Yayas big mate ) Hope we keep Milner & Kolarov , the Ferna bros deserve another chance along with Mangala who Iam certain will be a top centre half given time, he's still the only player ive seen this season give Hazzard a 10 yard start
    Ins - Stirling , Barkley , Isco , Veratti , Bale, Rodregez, Koke . 3 or 4 of them would do the trick !!
    It's going to be a busy summer , I just hope we don't shoot ourselves in the foot with a 4th place finish and early UCL qualifier which would throw a big spanner in the transfer works !

    • April 27, 2015  11:07 pm by David Walker Reply

      Always interesting to hear your views because you are passionate MCFC fan. My choice would be to sell Yaya, Dzeko, Nasri, Jovetic, Fernando and Boyata. If we kept Kolarov it would be as a defensive left midfielder, he's too much of a liability at LB. Agree on Mangala and maybe Fernandinho, but he has to be consistently better. Navas would be a squad player. Milner and Lampard are both going, so you're looking to bring in at least 6-8 new faces. Nurture Iheanacho, Ambrose and Barker and see if they can hit the fringes. Essentially spend best part of £180m on reshaping squad, bearing in mind we have £25m from Negredo sale still to come, unless that effectively went on Bony.

  7. April 27, 2015  11:28 pm by pete lynch Reply

    Great read David, thank you as ever. Horrible game but last minute winners always sweet!

    • April 28, 2015  12:22 am by David Walker Reply

      Won in 60 seconds! Thanks Pete.

  8. April 28, 2015  8:12 am by Eileen Fullen Reply

    Once again fab read and agree lack lustre performances have cost us and the clubs stature.. Whilst the refereeing is laughable across the league we seem to get our belly full. Media bias is also a concern. Knock on effect re signings???? So 3rd is a must for any future buys...Don't get me going on the Sergio omission

    • April 28, 2015  9:17 am by David Walker Reply

      I'll try not to get you going then Eileen :-) Of course missing out on the Champions League would be catastrophic on so many levels, revenue, new signings, stature, aspirations...but it isn't going to happen!

  9. April 28, 2015  12:13 pm by Richard Cooper Reply

    A strange game - started well then City go into a shell and allow Villa (with Delph and Grealish very good) to come back into the game and in honesty they deserved at least a point ,but getting the 3 points was in hindsight more important than the performance.
    I won't waste time and effort commenting on the referee - I guess over a season it all evens out but the standard is pretty poor.
    Praise for The Mangler - thought he played well against Benteke and think (hopefully) we will see the best of him next year. The player I struggle with is Fernando - He appears to start a game well but as it progresses the game just seems to pass him by - I noticed the MEN rated him as one of our better players - perhaps it's me !!
    In truth the match would have been dead and buried but for some indecisive "flapping" by Joe Hart.
    As everybody else has said - We don't want a tricky Chumps League qualifier at a time of year when I have better things to do - so 3rd place is minimum required and even allowing for Arsenal's game in hand our fixtures should, with the right commitment and effort ,give us Runners Up spot

    • April 28, 2015  1:09 pm by David Walker Reply

      As usual RC there's little if anything with which I would disagree and, NO, you are spot on with Fernando, God help us if he's retained. I hear Juventus are interested in him...oops sorry, I misheard, it's Fray Bentos, that's right, Fray Bentos. Joe had one of his 'moments' - bloody infuriating when we all know he can be truly world class when his concentration levels are tuned in. It's beginning to look more encouraging with Mangala. Even so, at £32m-£40m, depending on who you believe, we should have had the real deal from day one. Let's see what Sunday afternoon brings at Spurs - not a traditionally happy hunting ground - title winning seasons excluded.

  10. April 29, 2015  8:08 pm by Doug Henshaw Reply

    Hi Dave sorry for being late with my comment just one of those things. Great read as always Mr W, agree with you everything. Couldn't believe the one side summing up after the game by sky not one mention of the two pens we should of had. Not been a great season by any means & just hope we can go on a run & get second. Come the summer there has to be changes & sadly MP has to be one of them.

    • April 29, 2015  9:08 pm by David Walker Reply

      Will you STOP apologising for having the grace to comment on my blog! I wecloem the fact you read it and then even more so, can be bothered to comment. Media bias is wholly unacceptable, but sadly a reality. Our only revenge is winning things. Sadly not this season. Yes, massive changes in personnel but I wouldn't put your mortgage, let alone mine, on us having a new manager next season. There's so much that we don't know about. Thanks mate.

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