Unconventional beginning to a match report follows:
Kneejerk adj (of a reply or reaction, automatic & predictable) AND, after City’s fifth consecutive Premier League draw at the Britannia, there’s a whole lot of ridiculous reactionary ranting going on by so-called fans of Manchester City.
Hell, I don’t care about upsetting some folk who seem to revel in throwing scorn and derision around like confetti at a wedding, just because Manuel Pellegrini had the temerity to go to Stoke City and not win 5-0.
Those flooding the social networks with negativity about the ‘Chump from Chile’ and lamenting the departure of Roberto Mancini, may feel justified in decrying the manager and his team…after all he’s had four games, so why aren’t City nine points clear at the top of the PL?
They may genuinely believe they have the best interests of the club at heart and their ‘observations’ that City are a shapeless, clueless, heartless set of individuals is entirely correct – damned if I know.
I for one, happen to differ and Read But Never Red is my bloody blog, so I’ll tell it as I see it and not give a flying wotsit!
I paid my £42.50 to go and support the team I have followed since 1970 – great timing having just missed out on experiencing winning the Division One title and FA Cup in 1968 & 1969 – but entirely my fault for being five years of age and living on the opposite side of the country.
Anyway I digress.
I was a MAHUSSIVE fan of Roberto Mancini. He oversaw two of the greatest days of my life and, short of the birth of my son and marrying my wife, nothing will surpass the Aguerrroo moment.
I met the man, I interviewed him and found him to be delightful. However, I was aware of unrest at the Etihad and since his departure it is obvious he wasn’t the man for Manchester City’s future, albeit he had delivered a wonderful recent past.
Enter stage left Snr Pellegrini. Idiots derided his appointment saying he hadn’t won anything in Spain. Well with the rarest of exceptions e.g. Valencia, unless you’re called Barcelona or Real Madrid, you don’t win La Liga.
If you take charge of a small club nicknamed the Yellow Submarine – you could be forgiven for getting that sinking feeling. Pellegrini massively over achieved at Villarreal wedging them in at 2nd place in between the giants of Catalan and Madrid.
He took them to the Champions League semi finals and quarter finals. He had one season at Real Madrid – complete with megalomaniac hierarchy – and came within three points of the greatest Barcelona team of all time, with a record La Liga points haul for the Bernabeu outfit into the bargain.
He took a Malaga side in financial meltdown to the QF of the Champions League, only to be denied a SF place after being cheated out of the competition by the brilliant Borussia Dortmund.
He has a wonderful football pedigree and plenty of cups and titles to his name in South America, including two Argentine league titles – but of course that doesn’t count does it? I mean Argentina, who are they when compared with the might of England?
Pellegrini has played 4 won 2 drawn 1 and lost 1 in the PL so far. Yes, Cardiff was a shock, Hull underwhelming and Stoke not overly inspiring, but City have kept three clean sheets at a time when the defence has been disrupted by injury and adapting to a different marking system and high backline.
New players need to be integrated and it’s incredibly naive to believe it would all be like that sumptuous 4-0 annihilation of Newcastle.
I am not an apologist for Pellegrini – he doesn’t need one. City went to a ground where they last won a league game in 1999 and in the wake of international duties and three days before a crucial Champions League encounter.
The City boss said he has to cater for seven games in 21 days so yes, of course, he was going to rotate his squad. Nonetheless the teamsheet was a surprise – six changes including Garcia at centre back and a debut for Stevan Jovetic.
The draw was a fair result. Had City grabbed a late winner it would have been an injustice to ex-City boss Mark Hughes’ team. Hughes can’t disguise his antipathy for his former employers and, much to his chagrin, he’s failed to take maximum points off them with Fulham, QPR and now Stoke – shame!
Ex-City Academy product and star, Stephen Ireland was given generous applause and chants of ‘Ireland is Superman’ from the vociferous away support. Hughes was not.
As to the game itself, City started the brighter, dominating possession but lacking any cutting edge. In truth the Sky Blues failed to really test Asmir Begovic in the Stoke goal throughout – now that was disappointing.
Roared on by the raucous Britannia crowd of 25,000 the Potters missed chances where they could and should have scored.
Jonathan Walters couldn’t hit a cow’s backside with a banjo on this showing as not once, but twice, he conspired to miss proverbial sitters.
Kenwyn Jones capitalised on Nasri napping in possession and burst through City’s backline only to be thwarted by the immaculate Joe Hart.
It was the England keeper who came to City’s rescue late on, when he produced a wonderfully instinctive reaction save from a Matija Nastasic deflection. Hart was back to his best and hopefully, now banishing the recent questioning of his undoubted ability. Hart also had a Jones header covered when the Stoke striker should have hit the target.
Jovetic made an encouraging debut, proving to be City’s main attacking threat. His volley from a beautifully crafted Negredo through ball would have been a contender for goal of the season…except errr it didn’t go in!
He received a rapturous standing ovation – well the City fans stood throughout, but ignore that – when he gave way to Aguero.
Kolarov, Garcia and even the usually assured Nastasic, had off days and yet City still did not concede. Rodwell and Milner worked manfully during their first starts of the season and will be all the better for the run outs.
My one overriding bone of contention with City’s new manager is the deep deployment of Yaya. Surely City bought Fernandinho to play that role, to release the Ivorian colossus to wreak havoc with opposing defences?
Maybe things will change when Captain Vincent Kompany returns and, that might be this week in time for the Manchester derby, even Plzen on Tuesday, according to Pellegrini.
Let’s hope so because by God City have missed their spiritual on-the field leader.
And finally, the most impressive sight of the afternoon…a Lancaster Bomber flying over the Britannia. Shame City hadn’t ruled Britannia but we will…one day.
By David Walker