Super Sky Blue Monday

Psychologists claim the third Monday of January is the nadir of the year for most of us. Applying a formula of bad weather, post Christmas debt, unpaid credit card bills, low motivational levels and already failed New Year’s resolutions, the boffins would have us believe that January 17th, 2022 is one of – if not the – most depressing day on the calendar.

Sky Blue Heaven.

Today is supposed to be ‘Blue Monday’ – 24 hours of doom and gloom for the general masses – but try telling that to Manchester City supporters as their team sit 11 points clear at the top of the table, after a 12th consecutive Premier League victory – the latest being a fully deserved 1-0 win over nearest rivals, Chelsea.

A Kevin De Bruyne wonder goal made the numerical difference as Pep Guardiola’s defending PL Champions emphasised the huge gulf in class over last season’s Champions League winners. City’s domination is reflected by a 13 point and 13 goal advantage after 22 games, with wins and clean sheets at both Stamford Bridge and the Etihad, as well as limiting Thomas Tuchel’s team to just one Romelu Lukaku shot on target throughout 180+ minutes.

KDB wonder strike.

It’s ironic that any realistic notion of Chelsea challenging to be domestic champions, came to an end just before the Londoners compete in the FIFA Club World Cup in, of all places, Abu Dhabi. How perverse that a club can be crowned European and possibly World Champions, and yet they can’t get so much as a sniff of ruling the roost in their own country.

Blue Monday may well apply to those of the royal shade of blue. Those away fans that made it up north for the Saturday lunchtime kick off, must be feeling as deflated as the little Champions League trophy balloons, which they so delighted in clinging onto in the South Stand enclosure.

Sky Blues Together.

On the field, Chelsea weren’t even all huff and puff – never matching City’s high press and work ethic. On the terraces their silver blow jobs floated aimlessly in the mid-winter Manchester chill. In truth they proved to be absolutely pointless – just like their team.

It’d all been so different five years to the day in 2017, when a Lukaku goal – this time in the blue of Everton – had started a 4-0 rout of City. It was Guardiola’s first visit to Goodison Park and it was horrible. The defeat left City in fifth place, trailing table-topping Chelsea by 10 points, with Pep conceding he had no chance of guiding City to the title in his debut season in England.

Pep is a class above every other manager on the planet.

The knives were out – sharper than ever – as the media, press and pundits piled on the poison and vitriol, reasserting what they hoped and believed was the perceived wisdom – Guardiola had had it easy at Barcelona and Bayern Munich and was doomed to failure in England.

In the wake of what was indeed a miserable defeat – despite having 71% of possession – I wrote a Read But Never Red piece which included the following, ‘…massively disappointed and yes, p*ssed off today, but imagine what a smug, insufferable, self satisfied b@st@rd I’ll be, when Pep Guardiola proves all his doubters wrong in the years that lie ahead with Manchester City.

He’s won three PL titles in the past four years. Will Pep make it four in five come May?

Monday, January 16th 2017 was indeed a depressingly Blue Monday, but thankfully I did become the aforementioned smug, insufferable, self satisfied b@st@rd. Fast forward to the present day and a Covid19 cocked up few weeks in which City have adopted a mantra of  ‘Winning not Whingeing’ – unlike Liverpool, Arsenal and to a lesser degree Chelsea.

Whilst not for a moment underplaying the seriousness of Covid19, it’s fair to say vaccines have changed the dynamics of the pandemic. Football paled into insignificance when countless thousands of people were dying in 2020 and last year but, by and large, the game in England has returned to something resembling ‘normality’.

Sterling on the rise. Raheem is coming back to his brilliant best and was a constant menace to Chelsea’s defence.

Obviously games should be postponed if a club is riddled with Covid19 cases and unable to field a team. Health considerations are paramount, but getting games called off on the basis of unrealistically high and contentious numbers of false positive results, leaves a bad taste.

Arguably worse still, is having a single confirmed case of Covid being enough to get a match postponed at 24 hours notice. Citing players away on international duty at the African Cup of Nations, ‘conventional’ injuries and even suspensions, as valid reasons for a postponement is pathetic. Even more so when the club in question – you know the one who won the ‘We were beating Man City at Half Time Cup’ – had loaned out senior players in the days leading up to the fixture.

Indefatigable, industrious and in form – Bernardo is having an incredible season.

To top it all, you then have rival players and managers, noticeably Virgil van Dijk, Jurgen Klopp and Tuchel, stating and implying that City have somehow been ‘lucky’ to have been able to fulfil fixtures throughout December and January – and having the temerity to win the lot!

Inevitably the warped narrative, led by the traditional victims and the New Year’s Day Whingers from North London, has been shamelessly seized upon by the media.

KDB had the measure of Rudiger and the Chelsea defence, rendering them pointless from their two clashes with City this season.

Bearing in mind Pep lost his Mum to Covid in April, 2020, and both he and a total of 20 players and coaches in the ‘first team bubble’ tested positive for coronavirus before the 4-1 FA Cup win at Swindon, it is all the more incredulous.

It’s an unintended and back handed compliment from those seeking to detract from Guardiola and his team, that they would stoop so low.

Responding to one of his most pedantic inquisitors – Simon Stone of the BBC – at his weekly press conferences, Pep responded: “Are you saying Omicron doesn’t want to come here?

Things are looking up for Pep and City having weathered a congested fixture list and emerged with maximum points from 12 consecutive Premier League matches.

“We’ve had Covid and injuries like everybody else…the last four, five or six games, we have four or five academy players on the bench. We are in the same situation as everybody else.”

As if to illustrate the point still further, City had James McAtee, Romeo Lavia, Joshua Wilson-Esbrand and Luke Mbete among the subs against Chelsea. By contrast the visitors bench comprised Jorginho, Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Timo Werner, Ross Barkley, Saul Niguez and Ruben Loftus-Cheek – each and every one a full international for Italy, England, Spain and Germany respectively.

Not too shabby for a ‘Chelsea reject’ – take a bow King Kev.

City’s top scorer this season, Riyad Mahrez was missing as he is with Algeria at AFCON, whereas Chelsea’s first choice keeper Edouard Mendy, is representing Senegal at the same tournament. Tuchel just about managed to scrape by when naming Kepa Arrizabalaga in goal – at £72m the world’s most expensive goalkeeper – more than twice the cost of Ederson

And yet the narrative is that it’s City with the ‘biggest’ squad, who are buying success and ruining the game. As Mark Twain once said, only to be quoted umpteen millions of times, ‘Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.’

Back of the net!

If truth be told then maybe January 17th, 2022 isn’t actually Blue Monday? Maybe the eggheads should lobby City fans and revise their thinking. From a Sky Blue perspective it’s turned out to be a very, very Happy Monday.

By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu

12 Comments

  1. January 17, 2022  10:57 pm by Malcolm Gruber Reply

    Excellent as always, David. Shame no mention of "Blue Saturday" January 15th 2022 when the U18's, 1st team, and Women's team all won without conceding a goal. And then there was the U23's playing the Stretford Rangers with things wrapped up by halftime. Remember when their youth policy was the blueprint for all? When every season they had several of their youth players vying for places in the first team? Well the shoe is most certainly on the other foot now!

    • January 17, 2022  11:01 pm by David Walker Reply

      Well that'd be Sky Blue Saturday wouldn't it? A wonderful day indeed on so many levels. Cheers MG.

  2. January 18, 2022  9:27 am by Steve+Barker Reply

    Good article too many clubs are ready to cancel games whist City continue to field a team no matter the situation with Covid injuries and now African Nations Cup. We have invested in our youth system and the lads coming through are testament to that investment, these players slot into our team like they play every week. We don't have the biggest squad in the Prem but we are the strongest in depth club in the Prem by a mile, that is more than evident in recent times.
    Great piece David.

    • January 18, 2022  9:39 am by David Walker Reply

      We have quality over quantity, but perhaps more importantly we have so much adaptability within our squad. Pep is such a brilliant coach that we have a multitude of players who can slot into different roles e.g. 3 or 4 false nines, full backs as midfielders, midfielders as full backs, centre backs at full back and vice versa. Blimey if push came to shove, we even have a goalkeeper who would comfortably play in the outfield! The CFA is now producing some really high quality players - players who will actually graduate to regular first team duties, as opposed to just being sold on to create a vital revenue stream for the club. Such a wonderful time to be a City fan, albeit saddening that those who should at least - albeit begrudgingly - admire what Pep has created, continue to seek to detract from both his and the club's achievements.

  3. January 18, 2022  10:07 am by Will Reply

    Great points Dave. The narrative by the whingers is just pathetic. The PL have created a ridiculous loophole. When the games are replayed the AFCON players should be not allowed to play. Sort it out PL.

    • January 18, 2022  10:32 am by David Walker Reply

      More holes than a Swiss cheese! Thankfully City have just gone on with the job and managed to win maximum points, thereby avoiding fixture congestion and now allowing our players adequate rest periods. It's beyond belief that clubs the size of Liverpool and Arsenal claim they cannot field 14 players, including a goalkeeper. It's pathetic. It's cheating. Yes, I totally agree with your suggestion that the AFCON players be barred from playing in the postponed fixtures when they are rearranged.

  4. January 18, 2022  11:45 am by HorwichBlue Reply

    Great piece again David. The postponement of games is beyond a joke now and yesterday's Burnley postponement was the nadir as they had an U23 game yesterday and fielded a FULL squad. Now why couldn't Burnley use some of those U23's with the 10 First Team players they claim to have had available? And what sort of message are these clubs sending to their Academy players when they won't call them up in what some would say is an "Emergency" situation. As you say, if a club has too many COVID cases then fair enough but using that as an excuse to cover injuries and AFCON absences is playing the system plain and simple. I heard a stat yesterday that said in the Top 5 European leagues, the PL has had 23 games called off yet in the other 4 leagues combined only 1 game has been called off

    • January 18, 2022  12:26 pm by David Walker Reply

      I couldn't agree more fella - an absolute farce, constituting cheating and yet they get away with it. Thank goodness City have had the resolve and resources to steer clear of such underhand shenanigans. It does make you wonder why the PL has been so weak willed and lacking in clarity as to the criteria for the postponement of a game. Just think back to the shit show surrounding the postponement of City's game against Everton last season when Everton were demanding 'full disclosure blah, blah, blah' and yet here we have Arsenal with one confirmed Covid case and Liverpool with a convenient batch of false positives, getting games called off.

  5. January 18, 2022  1:36 pm by Douglas Terence Henshaw Reply

    Great piece again Dave and spot on the whinging and whining about City will never stop, but it's good to see City complain about that numnut Beglin and his stupid comments - maybe the club should do it more often. On the pitch we are looking good no doubt - it was a great win against Chelsea and well deserved Pep has worked his magic again this season, just ask Klopp, Tuchel and the rest. Just one little moan, I still think we need an out an out striker to convert some of the chances that go begging. Some of the 1-0 would have been more with an Aguero up front ,but what do I know I'm only a fan?

    • January 18, 2022  2:00 pm by David Walker Reply

      I agree with you that, despite being as impressive and relentless as we are, we would still benefit from a conventional striker. At the very least it gives Pep even more tactical options, even though the False 9 has worked wonderfully over the past two seasons. It makes you wonder if Sergio had not been injured, whether or not the False 9 would ever have been Pep's 'go to' set up? I somehow doubt it, but what the hell - it's great to watch.

  6. January 19, 2022  11:32 am by Richard Cooper Reply

    Due to other things bit late seeing your excellent piece about Blue Monday.
    Our victory against Chelsea was in fact a lot more emphatic than the great goal by a great player suggests.
    Have heard Tuchel this morning following the Brighton game. He seemed to blame everything apart from the Wolf Moon for their current form.
    Thankfully City have quietly carried on without moaning about Covid or injuries and the results speak for themselves. Should we have a blip I am sure we will not resort to the moaning we have heard from other Managers.

    • January 19, 2022  6:52 pm by David Walker Reply

      It's not in Pep's DNA to blame others when things go wrong, that's one of the reasons we, as City fans, love our manager and why we loathe others - noticeably one of Tuchel's countrymen, Gurning Jurgen - who seems to have an excuse for every occasion. Thanks for your feedback RC.

Leave a Reply to Douglas Terence Henshaw Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

Manchester MP set to retain seat

A surge of blue swept to power taking political pollsters by surprise in last week's General Election. Nobody saw it coming and now, another incumbent MP with a sky blue hue, i[...]

True perfection has to be imperfect for Pep

Pep Guardiola refused to take the bait following City’s sensational 5-0 Champions League demolition of Sporting Lisbon. He’d been asked by the BT Sports reporter if his team was ‘[...]