Blogs Manchester City 1-2 CSKA Moscow

Published on November 6th, 2014 | by Daniel Cheeseman


Manchester City 1-2 CSKA Moscow | The City Nitty Gritty

“A complete and utter shambles”

So many times this season I’ve come away from games and thought “at least it can’t get any worse than this” and yet it still keeps on happening. For a team of this quality to be losing to the likes of Stoke, Newcastle and CSKA Moscow at home this season is by no means acceptable, and last night’s performance was the most embarrassing of them all.

I’ve held back from giving my most honest opinions in recent weeks, but last night’s performance has finally made me cross the line. I’m not going to go into every detail, or else we’d be here all day, but I’ll sum up the main points.

The worst performance of the season by far

There’s absolutely no way of defending that performance last night, it was a complete disaster from start to finish. I’m not saying that CSKA are a bad team, but when you compare them to the rest of the teams in the Champions League you’d have to class them as one of the weaker sides.

What I’m saying is: if we can only manage to get 1 point from 2 games against one of the weakest teams in the competition, what sort of chance do we have against teams that are better than them in Europe?

Certain players aren’t good enough

I gave Stevan Jovetic the benefit of the doubt last season because he was constantly injured, and that he still needed time to settle into the team, but I’ve seen enough of him this season to form an opinion. The Montenegrin always tries to do too much when he gets the ball and loses possession far too easily, he was one of the main reasons why CSKA Moscow were so effective on the counter-attack last night because he kept giving the ball away when City were trying to press forward.

However, I personally think that the player who’s most guilty of giving the ball away is James Milner. While he always puts 110% into every game, he’s almost always the one who loses possession and is one of the most predictable players I’ve ever seen. I thought he was by far our worst player yesterday, and if I’m being completely honest – I’ve never rated him as a player, and I don’t think he’ll ever be good enough for this City team.

We need better wingers

If you look at virtually every top team in the world they have at least 2 great wingers – Real Madrid have Ronaldo & Bale, Bayern Munich have Ribery & Robben, Chelsea have Hazard & Willian/Schurrle – the list goes on and on, and this is where I think City are majorly lacking.

As far as I’m concerned, we only have 2 out-and-out wingers in our team (Milner and Navas) and those 2 players aren’t good enough for this sort of level. Because of this, we’ve had to resort to playing the likes of David Silva and Samir Nasri on the wings – and it doesn’t work. Those two players are only effective when they’re allowed to roam freely in the middle of the pitch, and so when we play them out on the left it is a complete waste of time.

Basically, in order to move forward we need to sign at least one world-class winger, like Marco Reus, someone who can score goals, create goals and bring a lot more quality out wide.

The players don’t seem to respect Manuel Pellegrini

I get the feeling that there’s a lot of problems behind the scenes at City at the moment, especially in the dressing room. I can’t see Manuel Pellegrini being the sort of manager who goes into the dressing room at half time and gives his players the ‘hairdryer treatment’ like Alex Ferguson used to do.

If I played for Manuel Pellegrini, I’d never be worried about the consequences of putting in a bad performance, because I always think of him as someone who never raises his tone or makes players aware that they’ve played badly.

Whereas if I was playing for Fergie, I’d be worried about putting in a bad performance, this is because I know hes the sort of manager who’d be willing to drop, or even sell, his best players if he felt they weren’t performing to his standards.

On that basis, I think it’s vitally important that Manuel Pellegrini stamp his authority at the club and makes sure that everyone knows that he’s the top dog. If that means he has to drop certain players and/or embarrass them in post-match interviews when they’ve played badly then so be it, but he definitely needs to start convincing people that he’s not a pushover and is good enough to turn this club around.

The referee and UEFA aren’t to blame for the defeat

I’ve heard lots of people complaining about some the referee’s decisions last night, but other than when he booked the wrong CSKA Moscow player, I thought he got every decision right. I’m not one of those people that buys into this whole “UEFA against City” thing either, as I think that too many people are using it as an excuse to hide behind how bad we are in Europe.

At the end of the day, even if they weren’t red cards, we were already losing the game at that point anyway, so we can only have ourselves to blame for what happened to us after that.

Too many excuses

I don’t get all this ‘why cant we do it in the Champions League?’ stuff. The truth is we’ve been under-performing in all leagues and competitions this season, and I think it’s only because of moments of brilliance and sheer luck that we’re still where we are in the league at the moment.

When we drew in Moscow, we blamed it on not being allowed any fans in the stadium – but yet CSKA Moscow have just managed to beat the Champions of England away from home, in front of a sold out home crowd and with no fans of their own inside the stadium (other than a few who snook in). The lack of support didn’t seem to effect the Russians at all last night, and so it just proves that it was just another excuse on our part.

I honestly believe we haven’t played well since beating Tottenham 4-1 last month, and it’s really starting to get worrying now. I’m genuinly worried going to QPR now at the weekend, as we always struggle against sides who press us highly and try to catch us on the counter attack – so on that basis I’d say a loss isn’t out of the question.

I know this might sound a bit heartless but I’m not even going to apologise for the rant I’ve had in this blog, because I honestly think that they deserve it after yesterday. I’m not as much bothered about the defeat, but rather the way they played yet again, and the way that I look at it – if the players don’t look like they want to play for this club at the moment, then why should I try to defend them?

The only positive thing that I can take out of yesterday was the firework display before kick-off, other than that it was an absolute disgrace.


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14 Responses to Manchester City 1-2 CSKA Moscow | The City Nitty Gritty

  1. Connor says:

    This was a good read. I couldn’t agree more with regards to your point on wingers. We need a player (or two) who is direct and can take defenders on and score goals. Whilst Reus would be a top signing, I think we should approach Schurrle. He isn’t getting first team football at Chelsea for some reason, but every time I see him play he makes an positive impact. He’s young and he was great at the World Cup too, proving he can perform under pressure. Navas simply isn’t good enough, yes he is pacey, but he very rarely takes his man on. We can’t rely on Aguero to score all of our goals, the midfield need to chip in more.

    I disagree with your views on James Milner though. For me he has been one of our best players this season, only falling behind Aguero and Silva. He’s so much more than a ‘trier’, I can’t stand the way commentators gush about his work rate like it is the only thing he’s got going for him. Of course he isn’t as technically gifted as Silva or Nasri, but right now I’d have Milner over Nasri in any game. I didn’t really notice Milner losing the ball any more than other players last night, but at least he is positive and looks to go forward with his play as opposed to Nasri who is king of the sideways pass.

  2. Monkylarr says:

    Why have you left Yaya out of the criticism ??
    He is a disgrace .
    Pellergrini is playing exactly the same tactics and formation as Mancini and It is easy to play against.
    The reason yaya gets good stats is because our whole team seem to be under instruction that everything goes through him !!!!!
    He is by far the most lazy player I have ever watched play football .
    Zabaleta is good at delivering a cross but every time he got the ball in an advanced position last night he turned inside looking for lazy arse yaya

  3. Tony Higgs says:

    Whilst I agree with the gist of this, I can’t agree with the comments about James Milner. If all the other outfield players had the same commitment as him, we would have won last night. Our build up was too slow and too predictable. We obviously missed David Silva’s ability to find gaps in massed defences.
    Plan B seems to be Navas, but he rarely tries to go past on the outside. He allows himself to be forced infield far too easily.
    Pellegrini also needs to realise that in Europe and against top EPL teams, we need to play with only 1 striker ( not Dzeco!).

  4. Bill says:

    yet again, young man you have it spot on, brutally honest, true. Something has to change

  5. mark says:

    Top blog. I was never a big Mancini fan , but clearly the holistic approach is now not working. Bit harsh on Milner who whilst not the most skilled, does provide the graft needed when you have players like Ya Ya ambling about. In truth Sergio and Joe H got us out of trouble against Spurs where the scoreline was very flattering. Its all a bit concerning and until Merlin returns I can’t see it getting much better.
    The first thing we need to do is stop conceding soft goals which is the root of the problem.

  6. Mike says:

    Usually enjoy your blog Dan, but today you are right but also so wrong.

    Ref was appalling, got Red cards right but that was about all he got right. I remember at least 5 blatant sliding tackles and challenges not given for us when they were clear fouls. Sergio’s penalty, not first but definite second, never handball when blasted from 1 yard.

    I don’t agree on Milner, I thought he was one of the few who deserved some credit last night, if Yaya had even half his effort and application then he’d be the best in the world. Milly so underrated. Nasir just too slow in everything and is a major cause of our lack of tempo especially even he’s playing tikki tikka with Yaya.

    Reus is not a winger and does his best work like Silva does by drifting into central areas.

    IMHO Pellegrini needs to look at himself, drop Yaya, he’s not playing well enough to merit his place, stop allowing teams to overload us in midfield and leaving them to regularly run right at our back four especially in Europe where teams are no mugs. Play with high intensity and tempo, don’t allow teams time to get into shape with everyone behind the ball, move the ball fast, switch play often, don’t always come inside all the time and occasionally shoot from outside the area. Keep the opposition guessing, We are too predictable, too slow, too easy to defend against and too easy to hit on the break.

  7. Mark says:

    Correct about Jovetic but criticism of Milner is harsh. If it wasn’t for his energy I don’t know where we would be. For me I would consider off loading Yaya , Jovetic Dzeko and Navas quickly. For someone blessed with pace Navas never beats a player. We are crying out for a striker of quality. The burden on Aguero is huge due to the recent displays from Dzeko.
    We play best with silva behind Sergio so I would consider Pozo as an option until Silva returns.

  8. Hi Daniel.

    Thank you for the honest commentary. I agree on most points. We cannot blame the referee or even the managers lack of authority. My wife players indoor volleyball for the national team in South-Africa nad they have a saying as professionals, “You play for your own points” And CSKA Moscow got this right against us in both legs. The last one, beating us at home, they had so much counting against them and trailing by two goals, they played for their points because they didn’t use any excuses. They are Heroes back home, I can tell you that.

    If you don’t respect your teacher or your coach, then at least have some respect for yourself. If you pay me the kind of salaries our professionals get then I will buy some self respect on the net! I can again use sport over here as an example. My wife club won their league in their province, best club in South-Africa and in December they go to Mozambique to play group stages of the African Club Champs.

    They have had many coaches, no money or sponsorship, and their ages range from 19-35. Yet they soldier on.

    It is embarrassing to see grown men behave like a bunch of pre-Madonna’s. In Europe the supporters clubs pull the players aside for a bit “motivational speaking” which sometimes involves involuntary capture. Maybe the Young (Old) Governors can step in and ‘ave a word. Know what I mean!?

  9. Peter says:

    Great article. Agree on all except, maybe, Jovetic … just because I am not sure yet.

    But let’s also say that we could actually argue it another way and say ‘it’s just FFP doing its job.’ No club has fought a Champions League on the back of these restrictions before.

    I think that today’s top level football is a lot like Formula One. The financial rules are as important as the engineers*. It is also very competitive, like Formula One, and all the components have to be constantly optimised. One weaker component and you lose three or four places on the grid. If you can’t afford or aren’t allowed to constantly upgrade your components, whilst your competitors can, the differentials become very apparent very quickly.

    Add in a few squad issues, tired players or low motivation amongst some stars, and the whole thing begins to spiral downwards. You find yourself not even in the middle of the grid, but down with the back-markers where you don’t really belong. But championship psychology is a very precious thing and needs constant reinforcement. Look again at Formula One, or tennis, or cricket, or rugby, or even business. Because unfortunately football is about business and I’m afraid that the architects of FFP knew what they were doing when they based it on revenue rather than debt.

    *Pellegrini pun intended.

  10. We still have Kolarov who we can play on the left wing and if he is given a chance to venture close to the box can cause some real damage, goals I hope, not broken wrists and legs. In the first leg against CSKA we could have kept Dzeko on and brought Aguero off. Instead Pelligrini chose otherwise? Aguero having scored in the first half and not forgetting 4 in the previous EPL fixture, could have been rested.

    Something is not clicking into gear at City but before we say ” Typical City”, we should hope that we now perform better. Things have been worse and we are still in the top flight of the Premier League. I wasn’t a Mancini fan either but there was one thing he focused on and that made us Champions, City, for a full season, was the fittest team on the field, injuries and all. When your game plan fails and the game turns for the worst but you are fit, then you can as we have done, run circles around the opponents.

    The guys seem lethargic at times. You second guess yourself if you aren’t fit. There seems to be a lot of that going on at present.

  11. Bob Fasoli says:

    Disagree with a great deal of that. Milner….he has regularly been one of our best players. Navas (or any other pacy winger) would be ineffective as the rest do not get up to support him. Hence he always has to cut inside to find some support.

    Pelligrini has not lost the respect of the players, just that they don’t fear him. He is too nice. But wasn’t that the problem with Mancini, that the dressing room didn’t like him?

    The problems are there for all to see. Slow, slow…slow slow slow is the way we play. Kompany to Demichelis, Demichelis to Clichy, Clichy to Demichelis, Demichelis to Kompany, Kompany to Zabaleta, Zabba to Kompany and on and on and on. Oh occationaly Ya Ya gets involved. By the time the ball gets to Silva the opposition have stolled back into two banks of four.

    Last season Ya Ya some 20 goals, Dzeko some 20 or so goals. Negrado early on scoring for fun.

    Problems in selections. Ya Ya OUT, Mangala…well enough said! Fernando, looses the ball in critical areas and is not aware of what is going on arround him. Fernandinho is not a defensive player.

    Elite squad are doing well but it will be at least a couple of years before any players make a real breakthrough into the first team.

    Who is available as replacement for Peligrini?

  12. Also remembering that our pride is in battle and not in the glory like them other lot. In battle you sometimes get defeated ( just not all the time ).

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