Premier League titles are never won in January, but can conceivably be lost.
Having hauled back what the media would have us believe was an ‘unassailable’ Chelsea, to sit level top on New Year’s Day, Manchester City know that two defeats before the end of the month, will once again seem them lagging eight points behind the Not So Special Snide Sneering One’s league leaders.
2015 is only 18 days old but the anti-Manchester City bandwagon rolls on unabated, fuelled by the incessant bile produced by Mourinho and Wenger and the pernicious piranhas of the press.
Desperate to undermine City, if only to deflect from the shortcomings of media darlings Manure and the statistical reality that Louis’ Gaalacticos are no better than Football Genius, David Moyes’ Boys, the shyte scribers have been positively apoplectic about Super Frankie Lampard, Financial Fair Play and Wilfried Bony…whatever next, an investigation into Willy Caballero’s hairdressing bills – shock, horror, scandal.
One can only sit back in gobsmacked wonderment and laugh one’s proverbial socks off as the likes of obnoxious Ogden at the Daily Telegraph, Right Herbert at the less than Independent, LadyBoy at the Daily Fail and Jackass Jackson of the Grauniad, scavenge for scraps to besmirch City.
What makes it even more hilarious is the twin agenda of decrying City, whilst trying to justify the double Dutch guff spewed out at Van Gutteral’s increasingly antagonistic press briefings.
Unbeaten now in their last 14 Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup fixtures, City have started the New Year as they ended the last – gaining points and making progress, despite crippling injuries and facing up to adversity.
Since losing to West Ham at the end of October, Manuel Pellegrini has steered City to nine wins and three draws in defence of their Premier League crown…often without star players David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany.
The absence of the team’s entire attacking corps of Aguero, Dzeko and Jovetic for several games has been well documented, but still City continued their winning ways…and still the praise from the pundits and press was nigh on non-existent.
On the contrary, all City have courted in 2015 is pathetic prose relating to the ‘embarrassment’ surrounding the signing of Super Frankie Lampard, spurious allegations relating to breaches of Financial Fair Play and ‘green-eyed’ editorials on the acquisition of Wilfried Bony from Swansea.
It’s side-splittingly funny to think certain sections of the media actually believe their own propaganda that City are even remotely embarrassed by their ability to sign the Premier League’s all-time top scoring midfielder for free from their main rival.
Frank Lampard apparently went from Chelsea legend to leper for having the temerity to sign for the ‘City Group’, entitling him to play the whole season in City’s sky blue, prior to having a bite at the Big Apple and the MLS.
The shame of it all…how could Sheikh Mansour dare even step out of the front door?
Next up, City were to be subjected to more scrutiny from the corrupt halfwits of UEFA for foul play on FFP, allegedly ‘cooking the books’ by spreading business costs around the ‘City Group’ of companies in Manchester, Melbourne and New York.
Surely it was only a matter of time before City would be crippled by prat Platini’s bean counters and jobsworths? Maureen and Arsey must have been getting excited at the prospect of the Champions being unfairly handicapped…again.
Bad news boys – it ain’t happening – Khaldoon & Co are smart cookies. City have broken the mould with a burgeoning business model that can, and will, continue to support on-field success, in Manchester and the wider City ‘stable’ of clubs across the face of the earth.
Only this week we have the wisdom of an initial £25m investment in Swansea’s Bony, the Premier League’s top scorer in 2014, being questioned…and that’s before City’s rivals begin bleating about the ethics of the move.
Arsenal’s Whinger said he was ‘surprised’ by the acquisition, adding that he didn’t know if the move was or should be allowed due to the punitive FFP constraints placed on City.
As is always the case when Arse-ne enters into public debate on City’s fiscal matters, he knows absolutely everything about nothing, so why, oh why doesn’t he shut up whining on about a club he obviously envies off the field and fears on it.
The same goes for Jose. “The rules are different for City, you know what I mean,” spouts the puerile Portuguese.
Of course, when challenged to clarify or elaborate on such an outrageous statement, he has to decline. There is no substance to his slanderous suggestion.
In stark contrast, Manchester City are blessed with Manuel Pellegrini. The cool Chilean keeps his own counsel, refuses to take the bait or fuel the fire with silly sound-bites.
A deserved winner of the December Manager of the Month Award, Manuel gets on with the job of amassing points and coping with a never ending cycle of injuries and player absences.
Yaya Toure and new boy Bony are away at the African Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast until next month, while Samir Nasri is ruled out of today’s clash with his former employers with a calf strain.
Captain Fantastic Kompany could be back to lead the side and Sergio Aguero should be restored to the starting XI. Doubts seem to persist surrounding the availability of fellow striker Dzeko, missing for the past seven games.
The return of the Belgian Boulder as skipper comes as City try to stem the haemorrhaging of goals at home.
Having seen Burnley and Sunderland score two a-piece at the Etihad on December 28th and January 1st, you have to go all the way back to October 2002 since the Sky Blues last conceded twice or more in three consecutive home PL games.
Arsenal’s array of attacking riches is sure to test the City rearguard. Ozil, Walcott, Ramsey, Giroud are all back to full fitness, Cazorle has been in fine form and of course the man of the moment Alexis Sanchez is one red hot Chilean.
The ex- Barcelona man has played a part in 19 Premier League goals (12 scored & 7 assists) the best combined stats so far this season.
It’s fair to say had it not been for FFP, Pellegrini would have relished the prospect of bringing his countryman to the Etihad last summer, but alas it wasn’t to be.
Much of the media hype has centred on head-to-head comparisons between Sanchez and Aguero in the lead up to today’s 4pm kick off. The Chilean has been outstanding in his debut season for the Gunners, but the truth is there is no comparison to be had…it’s Aguerrrrrrrrrroooooooo all-day, every day.
If Sergio comes back in the sizzling form he had shown all season prior to his knee injury against Everton on December 6th, he’ll fire City to their third title in four years.
David Silva has excelled with three goals when City have been ‘striker-less’ in recent weeks, and his link play with Sergio will be pivotal if City are to stay within touching distance of Chelsea, in the run up to the top-two showdown at Stamford Bridge on January 31st.
James Milner should be restored to the team after his curious omission from the 1-1 draw at Goodison last week.
A potential transfer target for Arsenal and Liverpool, ‘Jimmy’ is one home grown talent that Manuel, and City fans alike, would like to see signed up sooner rather than later, as his contract runs down towards a possible Bosman departure this summer.
Conversely Stevan Jovetic is a player who could be on his way out of the Etihad – who knows even as early as this month – as he continues to either cry off with injury or come up short when given playing time.
The Montenegrin has had his moments – a two goal salvo against Liverpool in August, being one – but they have been few and far between. If Pellegrini wants to raise the thick end of £20m to fund another January buy, jettisoning Jovetic would seem to make sense.
As ever City fans must place their faith in their manager and hope and trust his actions, and those of his team speak far louder than the words of whinging Wenger.
By David Walker
HAPPY NEW YEAR to all Read But Never Red readers. Due to unforseen circumstances e.g. kissing the concrete on the consourse at the Etihad on New Year’s Day, missing the entire game against Sunderland and an impromptu stay in Manchester Royal Infirmary, RBNR has gone AWOL in recent weeks…but the good/bad news – depending on your perspective – is that it’s back!
A brief but extremely sincere word of thanks to friends Susan & Zac Bookbinder, Karl Vallantine, Louise Casey, the Manchester City Stewards and Medical Team who assisted me in my time of need and the Paramedics who took me off to MRI. Thanks also to all of you on social media, predominantly Facebook and Twitter, who have enquired as to my well being and wished me a speedy recovery. It has actually been quite humbling and I am forever grateful – thankyou.
And finally – belated Happy 40th Birthday wishes to a full on proper Blue – Brian Entwistle.
www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu