Published on November 11th, 2013 | by Ian Cheeseman0
Glass Half Full
Generally, as you may have noticed, I’m a glass half full type of guy, and the game at Sunderland was only the eleventh of the season. City are still in the top half of the table, 8th and just six points being the leaders Arsenal. Tottenham were beaten at home by Newcastle, yes Newcastle, who City swatted aside 4-0 and then knocked out of the League Cup. So why does my glass feel half empty after the defeat at Sunderland, after all they’re City’s bogey team and match for match (look it up if you like) we’re 4 points up on last season’s tally, against the same opposition.
Why was I filled with doubt when I saw the starting eleven selected by Manuel Pellegrini? No-one could argue that David Silva would be a loss, and we knew, in advance, he would be absent. I thought it was possible Nastasic and Fernandinho would miss out too, Pellegrini had said they had minor problems, putting their places in doubt, at the Friday press briefing. Would they have played, if this game had been seen as “important” – would they have missed the game if had been a derby? I have no way of knowing.
I can answer this one though, did Pellegrini have to change both fullbacks too? No he didn’t, but he explained afterwards that he wanted to play Richards and Kolarov because of their strength in the air. So with Lescott and Demichelis playing in central defence and a 6’9″ goalkeeper behind them, all trying to stop Steven Fletcher, is that a good reason, if it was the only one, to make those extra changes?
My first choice back five would be Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy – two were injured, three weren’t selected.
With Fernandinho not selected, Garcia stepped in, alongside Yaya Toure; Garcia’s best position, in theory. Pellegrini explained he took him off,at half time, because he had picked up a yellow card, but felt he had played well, despite me telling him that “some” City fans didn’t know what the manager saw in Garcia.
More generally the manager twice said he was happy with the overall performance, if not the scoreline, and “these things happen”. I tell you these things so you can think about these topics, just like I am doing, as I sit here typing away. I don’t pretend to know the answers, I’m just a fan, but not as a knee jerk reaction to this defeat, I have to admit I’m a bit worried. Maybe “worried” is the wrong word. I was worried when we lost 2-1 at York in December 1998, so let’s get this into proportion. If City aim to win the Premier League THIS season, then the timid performances away from home, with less tempo than in home games, and the apparent lack of seriousness in the manager’s team selections, is a little “troublesome”.
The away defeats at Cardiff, Villa and Sunderland and the draw at Stoke have not done any fatal damage to City’s title challenge, but in a few weeks from now, City will face tougher tests while our rivals have apparently easier games at places like Sunderland, Cardiff, Stoke and Aston Villa. If they slip too, no damage done, if they win, the Blues might just rue their early season slips.
At home City have been very strong, but now three out of the next four home games are against Spurs, Arsenal and Liverpool. They might not have been MUST win games, had it not been for those away day blues, but now they feel like they are, IF we are to be serious title contenders.
I suppose the truth of my comments here are that the are more questions than answers, but I feel as if those answers are coming, and fairly soon, in the approaching fixtures. Watch this space.
Going forward, City’s future might well be in the hands of the “homegrown” lads in the academy, like Marcos Lopes, Jack Byrne etc. Perhaps fittingly, I’ll be hosting Blue Tuesday from Reddish Branch of the supporters club this week, ahead of a reunion of the class of 1986, a truly great crop of homegrown talent that won the FA Youth Cup.
Ian Brightwell will spend the hour with me, we’ll chat to others in that team too, discuss the repercussions of the Sunderland defeat, hear from twinkletoes Samir Nasri and roundup all the City news. As always I can’t wait to talk about all things Blue, because win draw or lose, I’m always Blue but never (or very rarely) blue!