Published on September 2nd, 2014 | by webmaster1
Manchester City 0-1 Stoke City | The City Nitty Gritty
“No pace, no urgency, no nothing… but why?”
Normally, after watching a City game, I would try to sum up what I think happened in the match by getting to the “City Nitty Gritty”, but I just can’t put my finger on what happened against Stoke on Saturday.
On paper, it looked like it should have been another routine home win. City started with a near full-strength team (bar Pablo Zabaleta) and were playing at the ground which many call “The Fortress”. Not to mention they had just come off the back of an impressive 3-1 win over Liverpool earlier in the week – so why did it all go wrong?
Beats me – but if I had to take a guess, I would say it was a psychological problem.
Sometimes City can be guilty of underestimating the opposition. Examples from last season include Cardiff, Aston Villa and Sunderland where we came away defeated and with very few excuses.
Going into this game, I fully expected Stoke to come to the Etihad and throw everyone behind the ball in hopes of getting one lucky breakaway (as that’s what every team does when they come to the Etihad) so why did it look like City had no plan B when Mark Hughes’ side came and did exactly that? Very strange.
Another thing which I felt was ‘off’ on Saturday was the fact that Alexander Kolarov wasn’t as effective in attacking as he normally is. The Serbian is usually one of our key players when going forward, as he sends in several dangerous crosses into the opponent’s box with his wicked left foot. But on Saturday it just wasn’t happening, and he seemed to be a lot more hesitant than normal and i’m not sure why.
You could argue that Joe Hart should have done better for the goal, but to be honest he should have had more cover in front of him in the first place. Kolarov and Fernandinho were the only two that I can remember who were back defending when Stoke were on the counter-attack, and we all know that defending isn’t really either of the two’s strong points.
I thought that Manuel Pellegrini took a bit too long to make the changes. If it were up to me I would have swapped Nasri for Navas at the start of the second half, as it was obvious that we were seriously lacking pace and width. I also would have kept Jovetic on the field because I felt that he was one of the only few players who could produce that moment of magic that we so desperately needed.
But to be honest, even if we had made the changes sooner, it still felt like it wasn’t going to be our day. For some reason the players were really lacking motivation and didn’t show enough urgency when we went behind.
In summary, I can forgive one bad performance against a weaker team, just as long as it doesn’t become a regular occurrence. We have a tough run of games coming up against Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Chelsea which we can’t really afford to lose in our current situation.
Hopefully the 2 week international break will give the Blues time to recover and re-think their strategies. Maybe it’s a good thing that our first game back is away at Arsenal, as I’m sure they will be looking to get some revenge after their 3-0 loss to them in the Community Shield and the poor display against Stoke at the weekend.
Be assured that one bad game is not the end of the world yet, Blues, if you remember last year we had a bad couple of games at the start of the season and yet we still managed to do the double – so keep the faith!
And quickly, before I end this blog, I thought I’d have a word on the transfer window.
In general, I think we’ve done quite well with our transfers, there’s been a pretty even flow of players coming in and going out. The two signings which I think have improved the squad the most are Fernando Reges and Eliaquim Mangala. Fernando looks like the prefect all-round defensive midfielder and Mangala brings youth as well as experience. However, saying that, we are yet to see Mangala play – so I won’t be too quick to jump to conclusions yet!
I’m also quite pleased with the acquisitions of Frank Lampard, Bacary Sagna, Willy Caballero and Bruno Zuculini to the squad. We all know what Lampard and Sagna are capable of, as we’ve seen them playing in the Premier League for years now, but none of us have really seen much of the other two (other than in pre-season) so let time be the judge of them.
I thought it was strange to get rid of Negredo without bringing in a replacement striker. Me and my Dad thought it might have been a good idea to sign either David Villa or Falcao on loan (before everyone else did) until a permanent replacement was found, or until Negredo returns to the squad next season (if he does). But I suppose we still have 3 fantastic strikers in Stevan Jovetic, Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko who should be able to fill the gap left by the Beast.
I’ll admit I was sad to see Micah Richards go, he was a Blue through and through but never really recovered from his injuries at City. In truth, he probably wouldn’t have been able to get into today’s team anyway with the likes of Zabaleta and Sagna around, so it was probably best for everyone that he moved on.
Overall, I’d say that this transfer window has been a success. Just like last year we have enhanced our squad where it was needed and kept hold of our best players – so good job Mr. Pellegrini in that respect!