Published on February 4th, 2014 | by Ian Cheeseman0
If you believe in something, stick with it ; but be prepared to tweak it occasionally
Chelsea were the better side at the Etihad, and if we’re being honest, could have beaten City by a bigger margin than 1-0, but that defeat shouldn’t cause panic or wholesale changes by the Blues.
Manuel Pellegrini has brought a new philosophy to Manchester City, the new “City way” is endorsed by the club’s hierarchy, who you could argue, created it, by appointing the “engineer” of attacking football, Manuel Pellegrini. I have loved watching City attack with style and flair this season, so why would one defeat change their way of doing things, and I I agree!
I have always supported flair and style over defending and pragmatism, because win draw or lose, I love to be entertained and I want to walk away from every football game I attend, talking about some piece of skill, something that took my breath away, something that makes me think, “wow how did they do that” ; although winning is important too, of course.
I remember, as if it were yesterday, watching the Brazil team of 1982. The tournament was held in Spain and won by Italy. Brazil had joyous players like Zico, Socrates, Falcao, Junior and Eder. I loved watching them play, they made me smile and enjoy the beautiful game.
They were knocked out by Italy, who defended and scored their goals, all three by Paulo Rossi, on the counter attack.
That result broke my heart. How could destructive football win against some of the best, creative football “with a smile” I’d ever seen? I remember having heated debates with mates that simply argued “winning is everything”, and that Brazil had been too obsessed with attacking and playing the beautiful game. Zico and the rest, they tried to convince me, weren’t cynical enough to be winners.
I don’t want to see my team win at all costs, I want them to play the right way.
Ok let’s stop there. There are exceptions, it’s not quite that black or white.
If City are the Brazil of 1982 to Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea/Italy, there could have been a compromise.
I believe that by playing Navas – an out and out winger (perhaps the Eder of that team) – and two out and out strikers, Dzeko and Negredo, then only playing two central midfielders (Yaya Toure and Demichelis) against Chelsea’s 4/5 was always going to be a problem, just as it was in the home game against Bayern Munich.
The solution might have been to leave out Dzeko or Negredo (who was clearly still not 100% after his shoulder injury) and play an extra midfielder. Manuel Pellegrini claimed James Milner wasn’t quite ready to start, after his recent groin problem, but he could have started Jovetic, who links midfield and attack and could have added an extra body in that central midfield area.
Whether that would have made a difference is hard to tell. I also thought Nastasic looked uncomfortable, he doesn’t, at the moment, look as strong as he was 12 months ago, hopefully he’ll come again.
Demichelis was exposed terribly in central midfield, as Yaya Toure’s main asset is strength and power, in bursts, going forward. As a disciplined holding midfielder he’s not as special.
Three key players, Nasri, Aguero and Fernandinho were absent, which I believe was a significant loss to City in this fixture.
The title race is far from over, the Blues sit just two points off the top, just behind Arsenal, and playing some of the best football I’ve ever seen, and I believe they can win the title this season, however I’d rather City just fell short, than win it at all costs, although the odd “tweak”, when required, just to be a “bit” more pragmatic, wouldn’t do any real harm would it?
– Ian Cheeseman