Beat the Reds and City can still give Chelsea the blues! Man Utd v Man City

As Manchester City target a fourth consecutive derby day victory at Old Trafford this Sunday they could yet beat Chelsea to coveted silverware this season.

After 6-1, 2-1 and 3-0 wins over Manure at The Swamp, City know that doing the league double over their despised foe will just about represent the highlight of a bewilderingly disappointing season.

Same again - Edin Dzeko celebrates one of his brace of goals at Old Trafford last season. Courtesy@MCFC

Same again – Edin Dzeko celebrates one of his brace of goals at Old Trafford last season. Courtesy@MCFC

Sadly for Manuel Pellegrini and his underachieving squad, the only way City are going to beat Chelsea to a trophy is via the FA Youth Cup, with the talent of tomorrow shaming the shoddy bunch, who have once again relinquished the mantle of Champions with alarming ease.

Three consecutive away defeats at Liverpool, Burnley and Crystal Palace means City have gifted their Premier League crown to Mourinho’s Chelsea.

Young guns - City's youngsters represent the only hope of taking silverware off Chelsea this season. Courtesy@MCFC

Young guns – City’s youngsters represent the only hope of taking silverware off Chelsea this season. Courtesy@MCFC

It reeks of the stench kicked up when, under Roberto Mancini, they capitulated two years ago to give Alex, Sir Baconface Ferguson, one last hurrah and handed a mediocre United the title, one that had been snatched in such dramatic style in the Aguerrrrroooo moment.

Preposterously, Pellegrini’s side go into the 152nd Manchester league derby languishing in fourth spot, trailing United by a point. Defeat for City could conceivably see them consigned to the humiliation of having to pre-qualify for the group stages of the Champions League.

That would be the same group stage that saw Mancini fired from his job in 2013, because he was never able to guide City beyond them and into the last 16 knockout round.

Crestfallen - City's manager looks destined to depart after a disappointing campaign, one that could yet get even worse. Courtesy@MCFC

Crestfallen – City’s manager looks destined to depart after a disappointing campaign, one that could yet get even worse. Courtesy@MCFC

His successor has bettered the Italian in both CL campaigns since taking over in the summer of 2013, but twice come to an ignominious end against a clearly superior Barcelona.

There’s no shame in losing to European football royalty in the Nou Camp– despite City’s ambitions to fast-track themselves to the top of Europe’s elite – but there’s plenty to be had when failing and falling at Turf Moor and Selhurst Park.

It’s not arrogance that suggests City should be gathering maximum points on such away days, it’s commonsense.

Aguerrrrno - An out of sorts Sergio hit the post at Palace but couldn't help engineer a City win. Courtesy@MCFC

Aguerrrrno – An out of sorts Sergio hit the post at Palace but couldn’t help engineer a City win. Courtesy@MCFC

Yes, the Premier League is far more prone to chucking up shock results than La Liga, the Bundesliga and Serie A – it comes with the ultra competitive, physical, high octane nature of the English game.

It doesn’t however, excuse a damning lack of effort and application all too often displayed by a City team with a flawed mentality when it comes to sustaining success.

It will explain why City need to undergo the football equivalent of colonic irrigation this summer, to flush out those who are devoid of the talent, drive and desire to keep on winning.

Not enough - Yaya's wonder goal couldn't prevent City sliding to a 2-1 loss at Selhurst Park. Courtesy@MCFC

Not enough – Yaya’s wonder goal couldn’t prevent City sliding to a 2-1 loss at Selhurst Park. Courtesy@MCFC

And before the apologists wade in on behalf of tired players or cite the punitive effects of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play, let’s be clear…City have mis-managed and mis-spent transfer budgets for the past three seasons and have a clique of players with bad attitudes, fat contracts and who seem happy to coast on easy street.

Past glories and achievements should count for nothing in the here and now.

Yaya Toure, Edin Dzeko, Samir Nasri and Aleksander Kolarov are all double Premier League Champions – thanks guys, you have all been integral to creating City history – but you’ve been well remunerated en-route.

Hero to zero - Dzeko's stock has fallen through the floor since his goals helped City win the title last season. Courtesy@MCFC

Hero to zero – Dzeko’s stock has fallen through the floor since his goals helped City win the title last season. Courtesy@MCFC

It’s now time to go.

Dzeko, Nasri and Kolarov all signed new extended contracts last summer. Does that make them harder to offload or does it simply ensure City get a ‘decent’ realistic fee, rather than see them go for a pittance as their previous deals wound down?

James Milner will undoubtedly be leaving on a Bosman, most likely to Liverpool, possibly Arsenal or who knows, even an Italian team. He cites a lack of first team opportunities as a primary reason for going – that’s ‘Jimmy’s’ prerogative and good luck to him.

Lauded for his ‘lung-busting’ efforts, Milner has served City well since his £26m switch from Aston Villa. It’s often bandied around that ‘every team needs a James Milner’.

Doing a runner - James Milner will be leaving City this summer. Courtesy@MCFC

Doing a runner – James Milner will be leaving City this summer. Courtesy@MCFC

Maybe so, but if Sheikh Mansour is to see City win and retain a PL title, let alone win the Champions League, he needs upgraded ‘Jimmy Milners’ on his playing staff.

City have not just plateaued they’ve regressed. It may seem a harsh judgement but that’s why Milner has been so prominent. It’s because other, more technically gifted players, have not fulfilled their potential or reached acceptable performance levels.

As well as shifting out yesterday’s men, City need to see if they can ship out more recent sub-standard acquisitions. City’s owners may well want to get to the root of the lamentable transactions of recent times and say adios to Director of Football, Txiki Begiristain.

Who's in charge of City's transfers? - City CEO Ferran Soriano and Director of Football Txiki Begiristain (left) have presided over off field and on field success, but City's recent transfer buys have been poor.

Who’s in charge of City’s transfers? – City CEO Ferran Soriano and Director of Football Txiki Begiristain (left) have presided over off field and on field success, but City’s recent transfer buys have been poor.

Inevitably it appears Pellegrini will be on his way this summer. It’s a great pity, given what the Engineer delivered in his debut season, but let’s stop fooling ourselves as to who pulls the transfer strings.

Txiki has initiated/sanctioned the purchases of Fernandinho, Negredo, Navas, Jovetic, Fernando, Mangala, Caballero – the thick end of £150m – and for very little in terms of a sustained return.

It can be argued that four of those players contributed to last season’s League and League Cup double, but one-season success is not acceptable for a club with City’s aspirations.

Stick or Twist? Will Eliaquim Mangala come good for City or is he another poor acquisition? Courtesy@MCFC

Stick or Twist? Will Eliaquim Mangala come good for City or is he another poor acquisition? Courtesy@MCFC

There’s a bitter irony that in a season when City thought they would make history by retaining the PL title, the highlight could revert back to the ‘bad old days’ when a victory – never mind a league double – over United was the highlight.

With automatic Champions League qualification on the line it’s far more important than just local bragging rights, but it does put the campaign into stark perspective.

Louis Van Gutteral’s mob have somehow muddled their way through a myriad of stuttering, disjointed displays to occupy third place in the table with just seven games to go.

Etihad salute - Aguero acknowledges the crowd as he scores the winning goal in the last Manchester derby. Courtesy@MCFC

Etihad salute – Aguero acknowledges the crowd as he scores the winning goal in the last Manchester derby. Courtesy@MCFC

It’s as galling as it is mystifying. It is nonetheless a reality.

The adage that winning when you’re playing badly is the sign of a good team, is often bestowed on United and Chelsea, but strangely, never City. No, the media have always preferred to say City were just plain fortunate and undeserving, if they won in the face of adversity.

What was worrying in the aftermath of City’s sorry 2-1 defeat at Palace, was hearing Sky pundits Neville and Carragher saying City had played well and lost! Where the hell does that leave a team?

Missing - Wilfried Bony is out injured and deprived of his first Manchester derby on Sunday. Courtesy@MCFC

Missing – Wilfried Bony is out injured and deprived of his first Manchester derby on Sunday. Courtesy@MCFC

Pellegrini will be without new striker Wilfried Bony, still injured from a twisted ankle, whereas doubts surround the fitness of Vincent Kompany and Stevan Jovetic.

Not so tangible, but equally as worrying is the disaffection certain players have displayed as City’s form has nose-dived.

Dzeko’s sneer towards the bench as he was substituted after his impersonation of the Invisible Man at Turf Moor.

Nasri’s hissy fit at leaving the Etihad after his exclusion for the Leicester game, followed up by his adolescent, cowardly petulance in the Nou Camp.

Happier times - Dzeko and Nasri celebrate during City's 2-0 win at Palace last season. Courtesy@MCFC

Happier times – Dzeko and Nasri celebrate during City’s 2-0 win at Palace last season. Courtesy@MCFC

Both should now be considered liabilities rather than assets and shouldn’t feature in Sunday’s starting line-up.

The derby gives Yaya one last chance to put in a decent performance on a ‘big stage’ so why not play him at No 10, behind an out of sorts Aguero in a 4-5-1 formation?

Similarly, give Super Frankie Lampard a platform to help City salvage something from the season and leave a long lasting favourable impression on the City faithful.

The contrast in fortunes is perfectly illustrated by a 20 point swing from this time last season – United have 11 more and City 9 less.

Will Super Frank start the Manchester derby? Courtesy@MCFC

Will Super Frank start the Manchester derby? Courtesy@MCFC

Conversely City will be going for their fifth consecutive PL win over Yoonited and the seventh in the past eight meetings.

But if it all goes pear-shaped and City were to lose, it would represent their worst away run since 2006 under the mis-management of a certain Stuart Pearce.

Mention of the failed ex-electrician ‘Psycho’ and the passage of just nine years, should put City’s present day ‘woes’ into context.

Lest we forget City went EIGHT HOME GAMES after New Year’s Day 2007 until the end of the season without a goal, including the last home game, when Manure beat City 1-0 with a 33rd minute Ronaldo penalty.

Blast from the past - Benjani scored in City's memorable win at Old Trafford in 2008 - their first on enemy territory for 34 years. Courtesy@MCFC

Blast from the past – Benjani scored in City’s memorable win at Old Trafford in 2008 – their first on enemy territory for 34 years. Courtesy@MCFC

A full capacity City of Manchester Stadium were bordering on giddiness when referee Rob Styles awarded the goal starved home side a spot kick of their own…only for Darius Vassell to fluff his lines and miss the darn thing.

Vassell made amends the following year when he and Benjani scored to give City a 2-1 win at Old Trafford on the 50th Anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster – the Sky Blues first win on enemy territory in 34 years.

To now be going for four wins on the bounce shows how times have changed.

City must ensure the status quo of recent years is maintained.

No caption required! Courtesy@MCFC.

No caption required! Courtesy@MCFC.

Derby day glory and automatic Champions League qualification will be some small compensation for the disappointments since January, during which City have lost 50% of all league and cup fixtures.

It won’t however be enough to prevent a much needed cull among the squad and sadly the departure of a Chilean gentleman.

Pellegrini’s demise has been engineered by players not suited to systems, systems not suited to players, Financial Unfair Play, as well as a City hierarchy and scouting system that needs massive improvement in the player recruitment stakes.

Heading for the exit? Are Manuel Pellegrini's day numbered as Manchester City Manager? Courtesy@MCFC

Heading for the exit? Are Manuel Pellegrini’s day numbered as Manchester City Manager? Courtesy@MCFC

City can, and will, come back stronger in seasons to come but that’s for another day, another manager and an influx of new blood. It can wait.

All that matters now is Sky Blue over Red.

By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu

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