Pellegrini is a happy plucker – Man City 2 Swansea 1

It’s fast approaching the time of year when birds get stuffed and gobbled up. Manchester City, anxious to avoid looking like champion turkeys come Christmas, made an early start on some lively Welsh swans.

City fans who love reminiscing about a famous ‘Sick Swan’ slaughter at Old Trafford in 2011, had to make do with a 2-1 ‘bird cull’ as plucky Swansea were rightly put to the sword.

Is he 'back'? - Yaya celebrates the winner over Swansea. Courtesy@MCFC

Is he ‘back’? – Yaya celebrates the winner over Swansea. Courtesy@MCFC

Pre-match, Manuel Pellegrini had declared his team needed maximum points from eight Premier League games before the end of the year. With one down, City need another magnificent seven to crank up the pressure on table-topping Chelsea.

Garry Monks’ high-flying visitors have developed some good habits this season with wins over Arsenal and Manure in the PL, and they ruffled City’s feathers when Bony put them one up in the ninth minute.

Having won over at Trafford Borough on the opening day of the season, the Swans were taking liberties thinking they were taking six points back from Manchester in 2014/15.

The travelling fans’ chant of ‘Champions of England, you’re having a laugh…’ resounded, before City began to shake off yet another slow start and curious malaise following kick-off.

Jump! City are looking to go higher in the Premier League as quickly as possible. Courtesy@MCFC

Jump! City are looking to go higher in the Premier League as quickly as possible. Courtesy@MCFC

Pellegrini can take some encouragement in that City won for the first time in eight attempts this season where they’d gone a goal behind.

The Swans 1-0 advantage came against the run of play and the home fans suffered an uncomfortable 10 minutes before Stevan Jovetic put City level.

For once Jesus Navas showed his true capabilities, curling a superb low cross into the 18-yard box and Jovetic was first to connect, steering the ball past an in-form Fabianski in the Swansea goal.

A 30 yard exocet strike from Gael Clichy would have seen the French full back in the running for the Goal of the Season, had it not been for Fabianski’s fingertips deflecting the ‘missile’ onto the upright.

Gael goal - well not quite, but Clichy came agonisngly close with a 30 yard screamer. Courtesy@MCFC

Gael goal – well not quite, but Clichy came agonisngly close with a 30 yard screamer. Courtesy@MCFC

Such sharp shooting is usually the domain of City’s other left back – AK47 Kolarov – but Clichy was in better form, after lamentable performances against CSKA and QPR.

The ex-Gunner hit rock bottom in the 2-1 defeat to Moscow and was chasing ghosts at Loftus Road but, in fairness he wasn’t alone.

Yaya Toure scored against the Russians, but did little else to illuminate a glum Fireworks Night, before being red-carded for an act of petulance – a sending off that keeps him out of Tuesday’s last chance saloon encounter with Bayern Munich.

In scoring only his second league goal of the season and actually bothering to turn up, Yaya earned Man of the Match honours in the eyes of the majority of the 45,000+ crowd.

The Ivorian is a total enigma.

Second helping - City's second of the match and Yaya's second league goal of the season secured all three points. Courtesy@MCFC

Second helping – City’s second of the match and Yaya’s second league goal of the season secured all three points. Courtesy@MCFC

When he wants to do it, he is a truly world class player, almost unique in the modern game. Why a man, blessed with a talent and a physique that should make him unplayable every match, can’t be a*sed every match is unprofessional and unforgivable.

Comments, presumably designed to send signals across The Channel to PSG, that he would be receptive to a move to the French capital, don’t help his cause with City supporters, already firmly divided as to the present day merits of man who was, unquestionably, the team’s talisman last season.

At 32-years of age next birthday (we’ll avoid the obvious cake jibes) Yaya will have two years left on his City contract. It may well be that the summer of 2015 will be the time to take £25m and say ‘Au Revoir’ to a man who has been – and may yet still be – a giant influence on the field but, likewise, a huge pain the backside off it!

Scoring duo - Yaya and Stevan were on target for City. Courtesy@MCFC

Scoring duo – Yaya and Stevan were on target for City. Courtesy@MCFC

In his post match comments Manuel Pellegrini lavished praise on Yaya, and it is to be hoped that Toure can apply himself in a proper and professional manner for the duration of this season.

Of course, he’ll be off to represent his country in the confounded African Cup of Nations in January and February, despite the nominated hosts – Morocco – calling for its postponement due to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The Confederation of African Nations – in their infinite wisdom – decided to reward Morocco’s common sense approach, by throwing them out of the competition, and touting it around looking for a mug nation to host it at the 11th hour.

The ACON is scheduled every two years but has been played in 2010, 2012, 2013 and now 2015…it’s called taking the pee, albeit we’re fed some hokum about bringing it into line with other international competitions!

Spirited reply - Zaba and Dino helped City achieve their first come from behind win of the season. Courtesy@MCFC

Spirited reply – Zaba and Dino helped City achieve their first come from behind win of the season. Courtesy@MCFC

If – such a big word, if, – if Yaya continues to display the same zeal as was evidenced when latching onto Fernandinho’s classy back heeled flick to ram the ball home for City’s winner, it’ll be good news for club and country. Time will tell.

Dino will also be missing as City attempt the great escape from Champions League Group E, following his two yellow cards against CSKA.

On the topic of two card tricks, Saturday’s referee Neil Swarbrick – pronounced SwarPRICK – would do well to differentiate between a body-check and staying upright!

The name almost says it all - Ref Neil SwarPrick had a stinker! Courtesy@MCFC

The name almost says it all – Ref Neil SwarPrick had a stinker! Courtesy@MCFC

Both Kompany and Demichelis were booked for simply being there, as their opponents emulated ballet culture with some superb dying swan impersonations.

Conversely Kyle Bartley received the same punishment for cleaning out Sergio Aguero, and then attempting to use his towering bulk to square up to Samir Nasri in the ensuing melee.

Who’s to say the feisty French Bull Terrier wouldn’t have bought the Stockport-born Bartley to heel?

City deservedly took the spoils with a vibrant second half display, reflected in the match statistics of 23 attempts on goal, of which 10 were on target.

Aguero came close on numerous occasions, Jovetic was his usual ‘hyper’ self and will have been boosted by his goal, his first in the PL since a brace against Liverpool, three months ago.

Action man - Aguero was in the wars with Swansea's rough tough defenders. Courtesy@MCFC

Action man – Aguero was in the wars with Swansea’s rough tough defenders. Courtesy@MCFC

Demichelis was majestic alongside a slightly ring rusty Kompany and the pair will surely start against Bayern.

City’s backline will need to stay awake against the Germans who won’t be as profligate as Swansea’s Bafetimbi Gomis who, having waltzed through with just Joe Hart to beat, placed the ball 10 yards wide of the goal.

Hart had rushed from his line and superbly narrowed the angles. It was, nonetheless, a horrible miss.

Shelvey nearly salvaged an undeserved point when his late free kick took a massive deflection and span agonisingly/joyfully (depending on your allegiance) inches wide of Hart’s inside post.

The leveller - Jovetic squared things up at 1-1. Courtesy@MCFC

The leveller – Jovetic squared things up at 1-1. Courtesy@MCFC

There were encouraging flashes of ‘Champion City’ but certainly not in the corner-kicking department. If corners aren’t part of Pellegrini’s set piece training programme, they bloody well need to be.

If they are already, then it’s even more of a worry.

Nasri was voted MotM by those attending the game, but his corners, like the wonderful David Silva’s, are in the main, nothing more than annoying, aimless floaters. You can improvise with your own ‘imagery’ at this point.

Points mean prizes and, as well as wanting another 21 in the Premier League before 2015, six more in Europe wouldn’t go amiss.

Same again Stevan - Jovetic could do with being in scoring form against Bayern Munich. Courtesy@MCFC

Same again Stevan – Jovetic could do with being in scoring form against Bayern Munich. Courtesy@MCFC

The vast majority of City fans see the retention of the PL title as top priority. The owners of the club view the Champions League as the Holy Grail.

48 hours from now we’ll have a good indication if the penultimate fixture of the season at Swansea will be the extent of City’s European forays in the first half of 2015.

Let’s hope not.

 

#TrustOurMP

By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu

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