City sinners narrowly avoid surrendering to Saints – SOUTHAMPTON 1 MAN CITY 1

It all started so brightly. Swift, incisive passing play, Sergio Aguero’s 18th goal of the season, Southampton on the back foot and the usually vociferous St Mary’s crowd well and truly silenced.

It ended with Manchester City hanging on to an extremely hard earned draw as a patched up Saints team, full of unfamiliar names, was roared on by the raw guttural fanaticism of the less than saintly home support.

Mandela Tribute - City's players mark the death of Nelson Mandela before kick off Courtesy @MCFC

Mandela Tribute – City’s players mark the death of Nelson Mandela before kick off Courtesy @MCFC

City had swaggered into the docklands  with expectations of a third away win of the season, but at the final whistle it felt as if  Manuel Pellegrini’s men had smuggled a point from this turbulent encounter.

This was a game of contrasting halves, as reflected by the after match comments of a Saints fan: “In the first half City fans were by far the loudest away support we’d heard here for a long time…but were as quiet as church mice in the second.”

He was right, the reason being that City somehow contrived to surrender the initiative, always seemed last to the ‘second ball’ and looked susceptible to crashing to a fifth away defeat at any moment.

Southampton fans confessed they had feared a mauling from Manuel’s marauders and, had the usually clinical Aguero not blazed the ball over after being set by the tireless Zabaleta, it could well have come.

Yes yes Sergio - Yaya congratulates goal number 18 for Aguero Courtesy @MCFC

Yes yes Sergio – Yaya congratulates goal number 18 for Aguero Courtesy @MCFC

At 2-0 down and heading for a fourth consecutive defeat, Southampton might have been suitably suppressed. As it was Dani Osvaldo’s beautifully sculptured 42nd minute equaliser ignited the powder keg of a stadium and City never regained control.

The Italian hitman, a £15m acquisition from Roma, did a proper ‘job’ on, of all people, Vincent Kompany, turning him inside and out, before an exquisite curling shot eluded City’s giant keeper Costel Pantilimon.

Bad company - Saints' striker Osvaldo turned Kompany for the equaliser Courtesy @MCFC

Bad company – Saints’ striker Osvaldo turned Kompany for the equaliser Courtesy @MCFC

Arguably, had Pants attempted to save with his left, rather than his right hand, he might – just might – have palmed it to safety.

The Romanian stopper has done little wrong since succeeding Joe Hart in goal, following Hart’s howling lack of judgement at Chelsea. But – and it’s a huge BUT – the time has come to restore Joe to the team IF he has a long-term future at the club.

City’s goalkeeping debate has caused genuine division in the sky blue support.

I fear Pellegrini does not rate England’s number one and Joe will be on his way in the summer. This would be a travesty for a young man who has suffered a blip in form, hardly helped by a defence which at times doesn’t know if it’s having a sh*t, shave or a haircut!

Speaking of which, why oh why does Pellegrini have this blind faith in Martin Demichelis? Undisputedly a fine player in his day, the veteran Argentine wears a pony tail on matchdays…donkeys also sport tails!

Pin the tail on the donkey - Demichelis struggled at Southampton Courtesy @:MCFC

Pin the tail on the donkey – Demichelis struggled at Southampton Courtesy @:MCFC

Never would I boo a player in City colours but the man bearing number 26 has all the speed of a three-legged mule and the passing prowess of the aforementioned ‘burro’.

The sooner an in-form Matija Nastasic is back to partner Vincent Kompany the better. A splash in the January transfer market for a top quality centre back wouldn’t go amiss if City really want their a second Premier League title in three years.

Joleon Lescott appears to be another England international to be heading for the Etihad exit and yet Pellegrini has so often opted for Javi Garcia as a makeshift centre back.

Garcia looks great…in a Boss suit, but put him in a City strip and he dissolves into a nigh on unmitigated disaster. If City are to land a major trophy this season they must act next month to put some steel into a brittle defence or a masking agent – a solid defensive midfielder.

Winging it - Aguero is flying this season but he did miss a great chance for City's second Courtesy @MCFC

Winging it – Aguero is flying this season but he did miss a great chance for City’s second Courtesy @MCFC

Back to more pressing matters at St Mary’s and the after match verdict that this was a point gained rather than two lost. It looks much healthier in context with unexpected defeats for Manure and Chelski.

Sergio and Yaya came close to beating novice Saints keeper Paulo Gazzaniga with second half strikes. Conversely Pantilimon saved at the feet of Rodriquez after the England new boy weaved through City’s rearguard and Osvaldo blasted high and wide.

Southampton’s outstanding prospect Luke Shaw must have caught the eye of City powerbrokers Soriano and Begiristain at a time when the left back berth is under scrutiny.

It was the present incumbent – Aleksander Kolarov – who flashed a precision cross into the Southampton box in the 10th minute for Aguero to smash home the opening goal. Sadly, City didn’t notch goal number 42 of the season and take the spoils.

Blunt Beast - Negredo drew a blank with the Southampton defence Courtesy @MCFC

Blunt Beast – Negredo drew a blank with the Southampton defence Courtesy @MCFC

If City can take 19 of 21 PL points up for grabs this month they will be perfectly placed for top slot and a New Year assault on the title. Fearsome and formidable at home, City will have to be at their best to take down Arsenal and Liverpool and far from complacent against a slightly resurgent Crystal Palace.

Nor, in this most unpredictable of seasons, should they think turning up at Craven Cottage just before Christmas means a gift-wrapped win.

City now travel to Bavaria to take on Bayern Munich – a game which at one stage looked like a prospective humdinger but is now actually a just about dead rubber.

It only has meaning if City can overturn the European Champions by three clear goals in their own backyard and, at the same time, have us all believing there is a Father Christmas.

Judgement days - Pellegrini picks Demichelis over Lescott and Pantilimon over Hart  Courtesy @MCFC

Judgement days – Pellegrini picks Demichelis over Lescott and Pantilimon over Hart Courtesy @MCFC

Pellegrini will undoubtedly send out a makeshift City team to try and achieve a positive outcome, but not to the detriment of three very precious points against Arsenal.

Europe can wait. It’s matters here in England that need tending to with plenty of bulldog spirit, albeit with Englishman such as Hart and Lescott few and far between.





By David Walker #READBUTNEVERRED @djwskyblu


  1. December 8, 2013  12:02 pm by Fifthcolumnblue Reply

    2 successive away matches, but only 90 minutes of football from City. Why do we continually keep falling asleep when in command of a game?

    West Brom performance was pretty good, but by the end we just scraped it - this one was even jammier, and if they'd taken their chances we could have gone down 3 or 4-1.

    Mystifies me how so many of our players can just go missing, and TBH, I think Pellegrini really does need to be more tactically astute when dealing with a hard-pressing midfield. 4-4-2 certainly does the business at home (exception being Bayern), but I'd prefer a bit more caution away if it means we can control the midfield. Hate to sound like a "spend spend spend" kind of guy, but our squad is nowhere near as deep or as full of quality as everyone makes out, so if there is anyone decent available in January, I'd suggest we go out and get them if we don't want to be out of the title race by March

    • December 8, 2013  3:30 pm by David Walker Reply

      Totally agree - Mangala at CB & what about NDJ back to add bite & protection to back four?

  2. December 8, 2013  12:17 pm by carole Reply

    The thing that worries me most about City at the moment is how easily we concede possession. Pellegrini seems to expect very pacy, high en ergy performances from his players and it's difficult to keep this up for more than 60 minutes when we are playing every 3/4 days

    But.I cannot understand how a team bursting with technical talent can find it so difficult to hold on to the ball. Under Mancini we were the best in the PL home and away. As the stats below indicate, we were second-best to SFC at every level. The number of passes and level of accuracy were well down. The statistics are embarrassing for a team of our quality with WC players.

    EPL Index ‏@EPLIndex 18h
    #SFC 1 #MCFC 1 FT
    Possession%: 55-45 |
    Passes: 430-359 |
    Accuracy%: 82-75 |
    Final 3rd: 101-117 |
    Accuracy%: 61-56 |
    Shots: 15(4)-12(3)

    It is not always good at home either. And while this may not be important while we are taking our chances against misfiring teams like Swansea and Spurs who do not have a real goal threat ( both had more of the ball) it could be absolutely crucial against Arsenal and Liverpool when we face them at the Etihad.

    Both will set up to outnumber us in midfield. Both will keep the ball extremely well . Frankly it would not surprise me if Arsenal, especially, dominated us exactly like Bayern did. Liverpool will probably do the same. When you factor in our shaky defence, I think we will be lucky to get a draw against either team and that Arsenal may become the first team to breach Fortress Etihad this season.

    • December 8, 2013  3:58 pm by David Walker Reply

      Blimey I need psychotherapy after that - albeit they are very concerning statistics.

      • December 9, 2013  1:26 pm by James Norman Reply

        I would give my high teeth for Nigel to be back. Whatever happens in January Garcia, Demichelis and in a away Dzeko need to be outsourced, we have no issue going forward although Kun missing that sitter? We need bolstering up, and what is always a worry when Yaya plays in the African Cup, so much to think about and decisions and solutions need to be addressed with urgency we cannot let Arsenal into the game on Sunday and need to be ferocious from the off, we win this the season could very well turn around. But the Saints proved once again our somewhat thin shell at times and that is still a worry.

        • December 9, 2013  9:04 pm by David Walker Reply

          With you on all points JN. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. December 8, 2013  1:44 pm by Graham Ward Reply

    A pity we couldn't continue our bright start, and we paid a price for not taking our chances. I think you're right to praise Osvaldo for his goal, David, but, as a failed goalkeeper, I think you're a little harsh on Pants.
    Given the angle of the shot, I think the only way for him to get off the ground and attempt to save it was going with his right hand. If he had gone with his left, he would have got nowhere near it, in my view. As it was, he was close to getting a touch, but it probably would've needed a firm one to push it over the bar.

    • December 8, 2013  3:59 pm by David Walker Reply

      Not having a pop at Pants - he's done nothing wrong. I just think Joe is superior overall & has done his time so to speak.

  4. December 8, 2013  3:45 pm by Simon Dear Reply

    I expected 4 points from the last two away games and think its a good return , the Saints came back at us in the 2nd half and we got the point . I thought the way Osvaldo lost Vinny to create the chamce was down to luck, but his finish was sublime and would have beaten any keeper. I am still mystified as to how Garcia gets near the bench , Never mind coming on . I would rather see Lescott come on and Vinny move into holding Mid ( where he used to play ) if we are just seeing a game out ... Unless its abit of kidology from MP with any possible suitors for Garcia in Jan . ( I certainly hope so ). We need a top quality centre half and a replacement for Garcia as Rodwell his closest rival doesn't appear to be pushing which I'm disappointed about .
    I still think 19 from 21 is a big big ask and wild take 15 . That should be enough to keep us in the hunt around New Year when I think we will push on and start really imposing ourselves on thjis league and move into top spot.
    Next week is a big one , It's stil not a must win in my eyes that everyone thinks it is , but for me but definitely a must not lose.

    • December 8, 2013  4:05 pm by David Walker Reply

      I still think 19 points is achievable if City have the hunger to do it. They have the quality but have to apply themselves to the task at hand.

  5. December 8, 2013  4:08 pm by Juliette Smith Reply

    I'm appalled that we still use Dzeko as anything other than a reserve when Aguero or Negredo are injured. I think starting him midweek against West Brom was a big risk which we got away with. He didn't seem too bad in the opening exchanges and I read some positive comments about him after the game. However, whilst I accept that he wasn't as bad as usual he was still vastly inferior to Negredo and because he's been so bad for so long people tend to say how well he's played when he's simply not been as bad as normal. If Negredo put in a performance like Dzeko where he was clumsy and wasteful in possession the press would be quick to say what a howler he had because we're used to so much better from him. That said, we aren't going to beat Bayern so rest Aguero and Negredo and play Dzeko up front on his own. You never know, it might help to make him realise he simply isn't good enough to be anything but a City sub.

    • December 8, 2013  8:05 pm by David Walker Reply

      If Dzeko can produce a decent performance against Bayern it might help Dortmund pay £18-20m for him and then let's get shot of him in January.

  6. December 8, 2013  6:40 pm by Steve Reply

    sorry but Crystal Palace noisiest so far, by a country mile, Villa on an evening game were possibly 2nd. I know I stand next to away fans.
    But City possibly the nicest, funniest friendliest supporters. The years of being underdogs had formed a great sense of self mockery, I love it.

    I did fear the worst before the game, 3 defeats on the trot, a few big name injuries, City on a high. But we have belief in our style of play, we stick to the plan and it works, we fear no-one nowadays. Four of our teenagers who payed yesterday have played together at Saints since they were 8 years old! We're the future, well maybe not the near future.

    • December 8, 2013  8:11 pm by David Walker Reply

      Fair comment Steve, I was simply relaying what was conveyed to me by one of your compatriots who was on the first row of Saints fans next to the away supporters. We're not in a competition with other fans...I mean how many teams had or would have an average home attendance of 28,000+ in the third tier of English football.

      It was a bit rich of your lot to ask where were we when we were sh*t! And as for the song 'You're so Northern you eat off the floor...' how did you guys know how scrupulously clean we kept our floors?

      See you at the Etihad and maybe even hear you? Just joking...

  7. December 8, 2013  8:13 pm by Susan Richardson Reply

    Not convinced about MP yet his substitutions are naive, thought the Jesus one was good but should have put. Milner in the centre. My heart sinks when Garcia comes on and sure enough he was wandering all over the place his man marking is woeful but it wasn't just him . The throw ins went astray too often I am not a fan of Pants kicks either!! It's all basic stuff.All moaning aside though an away point isn't too shabby.

    • December 8, 2013  10:01 pm by David Walker Reply

      I coined the #TrustOurMP phrase so I'll be sticking with it for a while yet, but he doesn't have a blank cheque for blind loyalty and I certainly question his judgement in relation to Dzeko, Demichelis, Pants, Garcia and Joe Hart - a whole lotta questioning going on!

  8. December 9, 2013  10:29 am by Mole Rocks Reply

    Having now watched the extended highlights, City did well to get a point.

    Southampton play a very good brand of football, which was helped by City losing focus and being wasteful in front of goal.

    Pantillimon again looked assured in goal and apart from Osvaldo's worldy, City might have sneaked an undeserved win.

    With Arsenal drawing and United and Chelsea losing, the draw was not the end of the world, however as we keep writing, there is no room for complacency or slip ups.

    • December 9, 2013  5:13 pm by David Walker Reply

      City were very fortunate to get a draw. We're far too hot & cold.

  9. December 9, 2013  11:43 am by carol Reply

    we're infuriating Davy, simple as, we lose the ball too much, Yaya in particular gives away silly free kicks and dont even get me started on Dzeko! I cannot understand MPs infatuation with Garcia or Kolorov for that matter and I too think Joe has served his time on the bench now, time to fetch him back.

    • December 9, 2013  5:13 pm by David Walker Reply

      Agree on all points Blondie.

  10. December 9, 2013  1:01 pm by GeorgeInIsrael Reply

    Even a City team at the top of their game would be hard put to get anything in Munich. Bayern will want at least the point that ensures them of 1st place; they also don't want to get the big boys in the next round. I can see the game developing into 90 minutes of "keepy-uppy" around the centre circle.

    • December 9, 2013  9:03 pm by David Walker Reply

      It could be a non-event but one thing's for sure the Arsenal game is a damn sight more important. A credible performance and 'respectable' result will do on this occasion. City will be under strength but screw it - why don't the boys in Sky Blue just go out there, in one of the finest arenas in the world and just enjoy themselves. I'd give Guidetti and Lopes some game time and say 'Go on lads have fun...' That's probably why I'm never going to be the manager of Manchester City!

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