Published on October 30th, 2014 | by Daniel Cheeseman1
Manchester City 0-2 Newcastle United | The City Nitty Gritty
“Nothing positive to say”
The title already says everything you need to know about the game, and so instead of rambling on about how bad we were – I thought it’d be better to just reflect on a few significant events from the past year or so.
1 year ago today (30th October) we beat the Geordies 2-0 in the exact same stage of the Capital One Cup, with the only significant difference being that it was played at St. James’ Park. Also, only 4 of those players who played in that game featured in yesterday’s starting 11, and only 1 of those 4 (Stevan Jovetic) was a Pellegrini signing.
So does this mean that we’ve gone backwards since Manuel Pellegrini has been allowed time to build his own team, with his own players, using his own style of play?
We all know that the only reason we won the league last season is because all the other teams around us blew it themselves. After Liverpool beat us 3-2 at Anfield they really should have run away with it, and it was only because of their own incompetence that we managed to snatch it from them.
Chelsea also had a very disappointing campaign, with the only excuse being that Jose Mourinho still “needed time” to re-build the team. Since then, Jose Mourinho has done just that and signed players such as Cesc Fabregas, Nemanja Matic, Felipe Luis and Diego Costa – all of which you would say have definitely improved their squad.
The same cannot be said for Manuel Pellegrini though.
The Chilean brought in Fernando Reges, Eliaquim Mangala, Bacary Sagna and Willy Caballero over the summer (not including Frank Lampard as he is on loan), and you wouldn’t say that any of them are a significant improvement on their predecessors.
The fact is – none of them are game changers, and that’s what we don’t have enough of at this club at the moment.
I know that FFP hasn’t helped the cause, but if you tot-up how much we spent on those 4 players it comes to just over £50m – and I’m pretty sure that that’s more than enough for at least a couple of top-class players.
In the summer we were strongly linked with both Isco and Benatia – two players who have now become regular starters for Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, so if they are good enough for teams like that then why didn’t we sign them?
We’ve been lacking a lot of creativity through the middle this season, with David Silva playing on the left, Yaya Toure under-performing and Samir Nasri out through injury, so I can’t help but think that we missed out on a great opportunity with Isco.
Also, one of our weakest links in defence this season has been Eliaquim Mangala – a player who Manuel Pellegrini was so desperate to sign in the Summer that he was willing to pay over £30m for him and chose him over Medhi Benatia. From what we’ve seen so far it looks like we made the wrong choice, but I’m not going to give up on the Frenchman just yet, as last year it was Martin Demichelis who was under scrutiny when he first joined the club, and since then he has blossomed into one of our best and most reliable defenders.
However, this doesn’t change the fact that 3 of the 4 defenders who played last night were still Manuel Pellegrini signings, and that the only one who’s good enough to play in the first team at the moment is Demichelis. The other three (Kolarov, Mangala and Sagna) are far too much of a liability, and we can’t afford to risk playing them in big games.
So on that basis, my back four on Sunday would be Clichy, Demichelis, Kompany and Zabaleta (the back four which we stuck with for most of last season) to try and bring some stability back to this very disjointed defence.
I’d also play with 3 in the middle (Fernando, Fernandinho & Yaya) and sacrifice 1 striker (Dzeko) in the derby on Sunday, because I think that United pose a threat in midfield through the likes of Juan Mata and Di Maria, so we need to be prepared to change our tactics for that.
As we saw against Spurs a couple of weeks ago, Sergio Aguero is more than capable of scoring goals as a lone striker, so we don’t need to worry about being weak in attack on Sunday (especially with how bad United are defensively), instead we should be more concerned with how we perform defensively.
I must admit – this is the first time in a while that I’m actually slightly worried going into a derby, as we’ve been just as poor as them defensively in the last few games, and it could leave us exposed to players like Di Maria and Falcao.
We really need to get some structure and discipline back into this team ASAP, and I’m not sure that anybody at the club knows what’s the best way of doing that at the moment.
I sincerely hope that this is just an over-extended blip, and that we come out on Sunday as the worthy winners, but something’s telling me that these problems aren’t going to just go away over night…