STOKE 0 MAN CITY 0 – Not a pointless affair for Pellegrini

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.

Underfire - new City boss Manuel Pellegrini is attracting ridiculous criticism so soon into his time at the Etihad

Underfire – new City boss Manuel Pellegrini is attracting ridiculous criticism so soon into his time at the Etihad

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.

Divine intervention - Stevan Jovetic went close with a wonder volley...but not close enough

Divine intervention – Stevan Jovetic went close with a wonder volley…but not close enough

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!

Revenge mission - ex City boss Mark Hughes has still take maximum points off his former employers

Revenge mission – ex City boss Mark Hughes has still take maximum points off his former employers

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.

Simply the best - Joe Hart was imperious in the City goal

Simply the best – Joe Hart was imperious in the City goal

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.

Beautiful Beast - Negredo so nearly claimed as assist with a wonder pass to Jovetic

Beautiful Beast – Negredo so nearly claimed as assist with a wonder pass to Jovetic

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.

Back to front - should Yaya Toure be played further upfield?

Back to front – should Yaya Toure be played further upfield?

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





  1. September 15, 2013  7:17 pm by Graham Ward Reply

    It seems that it's the quality of the display on Saturday, following on from Cardiff and Hull, that has caused the angst you've mentioned at the start of your article, David.
    Disappointing not to create anything of note, but there is always the next game. If we get two positive results in the upcoming two games, I strongly suspect the dissent will die down quickly. However, if we don't.....

    • September 15, 2013  9:16 pm by David Walker Reply

      I get accused of being a 'Happy Clapper' by some or an MCFC propagandist and that REALLY PISSES ME OFF, but I tell it as I see it and have never been slow to criticise when appropriate - see my Southampton away match report last season which was scathing. I always respect other people's right to have an opinion and have it heard. Football is so subjective and if we don't pick up in the monthsahead I won't be blowing smoke up Snr Pellegrini's rear. Cheers Graham.

      • September 15, 2013  10:17 pm by Graham Ward Reply

        Yes, you did rip into them after that loss. It was when there were problems with leaving comment on the blog, so it's not easy to recall. Your Twitter feed then probably showed no one disagreeing with you!

        • September 15, 2013  10:28 pm by David Walker Reply

          People at MCFC actually congratulated me for that saying that, saying had I not done so I would have lost credibility as a writer... which was nice!

  2. September 15, 2013  7:48 pm by Frank Reply

    Just want to be clear from our twitter exchange yesterday when I asked you when it was OK to question MP, please don't ever take that as my not being supportive of the team, which I am CTID. I was trying to start a conversation regarding things like, as you say above, Yaya being played a certain way, Garcia being used over Boyata, (or at all) etc. I feel those are worth discussing and getting other people's opinions on (which is why you're so much fun to engage on Twitter!) I do think Pellegrini is not only trying to figure out the right team chemistry, but also making sure we have a strong side for Champions League on Tuesday. It is no easy task, especially given the injuries, etc. However, with perspective, it could all be worse, but we have to kick it up a notch, especially this week!! CTID!

    • September 15, 2013  9:20 pm by David Walker Reply

      Can I be Frank - oh no, you got there first! No problems at all and I fully endorse all the points you have raised. See my reply of above - I am MCFC through and through, but not blind to reality. Pellegrini deserves a helluva lot more time than this. If we exit Group stage of CL and aren't in genuine contention at Christmas it's a completely different story!

  3. September 15, 2013  9:14 pm by Peter Williams Reply

    I agree with a lot of what is said, im sure the team will benefit from this tough spell, the team had a good but huge pre-season in which time pellegrini's mother passed away, we looked very good for most of the Newcastle game , then kompany gets injured from a pointless challenge, we have coped as well as we could have considering, if anything the main lesson learned from this is how weak we are when kompany is out of action, without him the whole team are a bit more negative

    • September 15, 2013  9:26 pm by David Walker Reply

      I did wonder about mentioning Pellegrini's bereavement - something that cannot be under-estimated by any of us who have lost close family - but then you'll get some pillock who will say he earns enough and should be professional enough not to have emotions!

  4. September 15, 2013  9:40 pm by mark james Reply

    gutted i misd the lancaster bomber my lad wud of loved tht !!!!!

    • September 15, 2013  9:53 pm by David Walker Reply

      During the first half flying over the Bootham End #bloodymarvellous! Made me think of Uwe - Herr Rosler!

  5. September 15, 2013  9:57 pm by susan richardson Reply

    From hisonaru turkey good point for us it will come together we have such talented players. Excelli game from Hart an answer to the rather snide comments attributed to David Platt. Looking forward Tuesday and Sunday 100% positive!

  6. September 15, 2013  10:59 pm by Kamikaze Reply

    We terribly lacked urgency on the pitch, esp pushing forward at times. Too much labouring about on the ball for my liking. We have to put these kind of teams to bed esp, away from home. Goals and points tally will matter when it comes to the end of the season, goes without saying. The next 2 games can set up huge stepping stones for the season ahead, positive results required!

    • September 16, 2013  12:42 am by David Walker Reply

      If we get at least a draw in Plzen - these Czechs are no pushover they knocked Napoli out of the Europa League last season - and beat Manure then we'll have momentum. Shake off the injuries, settle into new playing patterns and we'll be set fair for CL campaign and consistently positive PL results. Fingers crossed.

  7. September 15, 2013  11:07 pm by Grant Mills Reply

    While I agree with many points I am very concerned how far backwards we have gone in 18 months. What also troubles me is that main players like Toure/Nasri/Silva/Aguero to name a few are not performing, they are nowhere near their best. Every time I see them I can't see this changing. So frustrating when we know what they are capable of. In fact for all the ridiculous criticism sent his way Hart is our best player at present. Whilst I hope it all clicks when Kompany comes back its naive to think that. And how can such an expensive squad be so over reliant on one player? City fans are mocking Moyes but I fear a frustrating season ahead. For all those tweeting about only supporting us when we are winning etc we are all entitled to our opinions which is part of supporting a team. Whilst I don't condone MP out etc this is already a massive week in the season. We could be 5 points behind Liverpool this time tomo. Tune it in City, quickly or there ll be too much ground to make up later. CTID

    • September 16, 2013  12:45 am by David Walker Reply

      All valid points and yes, of course we need to hit our stride pattern very soon. Our players are under performing and I share your concern BUT I had to hit back at the Pellegrini snipers. He's been here for four games, new club, new country, new culture and dealing with death of his mother. Just asking people to give him a break and see what develops between now and end of 2013.

  8. September 16, 2013  12:26 am by Mole Rocks Reply

    We all seem to be suffering from the same phenomenon, I'm calling it frustration.

    I am a fan of City and football in general, however I have now illusions that I actually know anything about playing or managing, even though I did play in the same team as Carl Griffiths as a boy! :0)

    I can only hope that every City player tries their best every game and are working very hard to implement MPs new game plan.

    Unfortunately, win, lose, or draw I am stuck, I support Manchester City, whatever happens on or off the pitch and I can't change that.

    Don't get me wrong, it's not a plea for help, as Harold McMillan would say; "We've never had it so good!"

    City are light years ahead of where they used to be and as we can all see are working relentlessly to become even better.

    We just have to take the odd poor result in our stride and keep supporting the team, what's the other option really?

    • September 16, 2013  12:50 am by David Walker Reply

      There are always options i.e. support City or alternatively, continue to support City. Like you mate I've supported MCFC through thin, thin and anorexic so drawing at Stoke pales into insignificance when you've expereienced driving home after defeats at Wycombe, Lincoln, York etc. We can't keep comparing apples with oranges but you get the drift. I NEVER thought we'd play in the Champiuons League until Sheikh Mansour turned up let alone have a crack at winning it. #TrustOurMP

  9. September 16, 2013  12:29 am by Mole Rocks Reply

    Bugger, should read "No illusions". :0)

    • September 16, 2013  12:51 am by David Walker Reply

      Illiusions, delusions - sod it - keep taking the tablets! ;-)

  10. September 16, 2013  3:01 am by Fred Nelson Reply

    Just back today from a lovely holiday in Turkey Dave. As it was Turkey, then a robust Turkish Bath was a prerequisite to enjoying the Eastern holiday experience. After a considerable 'workout' of my considerable frame, I have discovered the following.
    My knee works perfectly, no jerking currently, no history of jerking and I'm happy to report that I'm quite unlikely to knee jerk in the near future! Point gained surely mate, we gained a point on Chelski this weekend to boot. Stuffing the rags next weekend will save the NHS a lot of money, as everybody's knees on the blue side of Manchester will be jerk free! As ever, I thoroughly enjoyed the read Dave, yours in script.. #stuffedturkey

    • September 16, 2013  7:36 am by DAVID WALKER Reply

      Let's hope that unlike Demichelis we - as City supporters - will not be fighting the Battle of Wounded Knee throughout the season! As for your dealings in Turkey, only the Parson 'knows'!


  11. September 16, 2013  9:58 am by Andy Devereux Reply

    All points well made once again David and without all the gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands so well done for that.New people at the helm,new systems,a bit of nightmare start on the injury front,things were always gonna take time,i for one am not gonna panic cos i think all will be well in the long run,which by the way is what it is not a bloody sprint. #TrustOurMP

    • September 16, 2013  10:11 am by David Walker Reply

      I thought it was a Snicker nowadays - apologies #infantilehumour!

      I too, wish we were already playing fluently, spraying beautiful passes around the park and sweeping opponents aside, but we all just need to be a bit more pragmatic and patient. MP is a very good manager with a strong track record and, the fundamental difference with him and his predecessor - good man management skills. #TrustOurMP

      Thanks again Andy #mcfcbluebros

  12. September 16, 2013  7:12 pm by Doug Reply

    Good piece as always Dave.A lot of what you say is right but I dont think its helped letting barry go he was citys Mr realible always were he was need the most. Some say he was to slow I disagree what he lacked in speed he made up for with his footballing brain. However the players once again look like they all met for the first time on the pitch & it was a poor performance. But your right when you say give MP time I for one think he is still experimenting with the team but hopefully will get what we are all want. Just one other thing the idot on Twitter yesterday that tried to get Garcia is shit trending should go & support someone else. Garcia is trying hes as yet not succeeding but he tries that whats counts to me so Garcia haters get of his back hes a blue for christ sake.

    • September 16, 2013  7:34 pm by David Walker Reply

      Yes Doug, I'd go with that. Jury is out on Javi but nobody should be disputing the fella obviously wants to succeed and is trying. As for the loss of TeamGB - Evertonians think they've struck gold!

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