Published on January 4th, 2014 | by Ian Cheeseman2
Are City as good without the Super Eight?
It wasn’t the best of games at Blackburn, and while drawing means the Blues survive in the competition, there’s now an extra fixture, which suggests to me, that playing a strong team from the start might have been better. Win the game, then take off your key players, surely? There had been a friendly planned in Abu Dhabi during the week when the replay will be. That extra fixture won’t happen now, of course. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing, in the middle of such a crowded fixture list.
Some of the lazier pundits will no doubt start talking about City’s away form again. This result, and performance, had nothing to do with where it was played, it was about the team that was selected.
City’s first choice eleven, plus three or four more, are capable of beating anyone. I think, at this stage, there are too many players on the fringes of the first eleven, who are a significant step down in quality. I’m not going to name names, you’ll have your own opinions, and I’ve got mine. They might be one and the same, but I believe that every member of the squad wants to step up to that top step, but some are not on it, yet. That’s why we see a different level of performance, in fixtures like this.
In my opinion, the really big players are, Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Yaya Toure, Fernandinho, Nasri, Silva and Aguero. When all eight play, City are awesome. When it’s down to six, they’re not quite as good, the lower the number, the more the level drops.
The team that started against Blackburn included just two of those eight. There is a perception that City’s squad has two players of equal quality for each position. I believe City have a great squad of players, but I don’t believe there are twenty two of equal quality.
There are some, who I didn’t list in the eight, that seen determined to push their way in. Aleksander Kolarov is a perfect example, I’m so impressed by how he’s growing stronger at left back. Some of that will be down to him, and some will be down to the coaching of Manuel Pellegrini, who impresses me more and more as the weeks go by.
I realise that injuries to Aguero and Nasri kept them out at Ewood Park, and Richards, Rodwell & Jovetic were also not available, due to injury, three players of talent who could be capable of breaking into the “big eight”, but all seem dogged by problems.
Joleon Lescott led the team out at Blackburn, and, for what it’s worth, was my man-of-the-match, with Fernandinho and Silva making good contributions too. The rest were under par, though I’m sure, back at the Etihad, we’ll see a better performance and progression to the fourth round.
Blue Tuesday returns on 7th January with Peter Barnes joining me in the studio, with a live contribution from Uwe Rosler and two fans in the studio too, Howard and Steven. We’re asking if chasing four trophies could over stretch City’s squad. You’ve seen what I’ve written here, why not go to the Blue Tuesday Facebook page and offer yours, and we might just read it out on Tuesday!
Next up it’s West Ham on Wednesday, and I expect Pellegrini will name his strongest available team, to try to hammer the Hammers in the first leg. As ever, there’ll be full match commentary from me and Shaun Goater ; if you can’t get to the game. If you are going, why not listen while you’re there via the iplayer app on your smart phone? Just search for BBC Radio Manchester!
– Ian Cheeseman