Monday, November 21, 2016

Well, Mind Games?

Just rereading the last blog.  Definitely wrong about Nasri and Hart, eh!

But the games with Yaya continue.  And what a game he had this weekend!  After not playing a match in almost three months, he STARTS (I was in shock just on that) and scores both City goals for the win.  The Premier League scriptwriters can't make up stories this good.  It's two days later and I still can't believe it.

What I wish I could find are his stats.  At half time, they pointed out that he had run about 5.5 KM.  But his overall stats last year showed he was covering the ground.  What he wasn't doing was sprints.  I don't have a feel for how he fared in that stat this week, but I'm sure Pep's coaching staff will have an eye on it.  His weight is clearly way down, and the fans and the other players still love him.  One story ran that the players gave him a standing ovation in the dressing room.

It seems to me that 'long' term the situation with his manager is not viable.  But what is 'long' term when the player is 33 and his contract is up?  At his age, playing every match is not possible.  I had him tagged as leading the club in the League Cup.  But Pep's words and the early exit in that competition put an end to that.

In other news, our summer signings don't seem to be holding up on the whole.  Nolito seems to want to head butt everyone, Sane has looked great on the pitch, but apparently the boss sees something different as he is not making the team sheet.  And Bravo seems to be not communicating well with the defense.  In the first match vs. United it was perhaps understandable that he could not communicate with Stones, but last week with Vinny and the concussion was not.

Even more than the great start, the highlight of the season was beating Barcelona.  It was truly deserved and a great step in the club's development.  But since then, the intensity has come down a notch. Or perhaps two. The aggressive, attacking display that we saw early and against Barcelona hasn't been seen since.  I don't know if that is on purpose or if players are just tired.  Maybe this is a tactic by Pep?  Perhaps we will see mid week?

Tell us what you think is on Pep's mind in the comments!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Who's in, who's out, and mind games...

Yes, yes, we know.  We've taken a LONG break from blogging.  Too long.  But last year there was so much coverage with the fast start, the strong run, and then the news that Pep was coming.  More than anything else, busy lives prevented.... WAIT  good god.  Did it really happen?!  Leicester City?!  Pep Guardiola is managing City?! No SHOCK prevented us from blogging last season.  We'll be better prepared for surprises this season.  We have the number for the cardiologist at hand.

So, as this is written, "everyone" knows that Nasri is gone, Bony is on his way somewhere, Yaya is toast and Joe Hart is no longer our keeper.  Our pursuit of Claudio Bravo is as epic of that of the Holy Grail. 

The question is: will all this stuff really happen?  IMHO, no.

Bony truly does not fit Pep's system.  Hell, he didn't fit Manuel's system.  He's a hold up attacker on a team built for speed and passing.  I would not be surprised to see him leave for a lot less than the millions we paid for him.  But the other players...

Nasri is one of the most creative players on a team that was clearly missing it in the final third last season. Apparently showed up overweight and out of shape.  A huge 'no-no' with the new boss.  But Yaya was apparently in the best shape in years.  He ran really hard in the preseason matches.  Hart has been City's keeper for a while.  Everyone said that having Willie made Hart better as there was some potential competition for the job.  But Willie is too old to be our long term keeper.  So it seems that there was no  'real' competition.  Hart had a terrible Euro, but made some of the best saves ever seen last season.

So, why is this huge stock of talent not making it into the team sheet?  My best guess: Mind Games.

These players have played regularly for years.  Pep thinks that they are acting as if they are given their starting positions by birthright, not talent and effort.  By not even putting them in the team sheet, he's giving notice that there is a new sheriff in town and that no one's job is 'safe'.  This message is not just to the players above, but to everyone in the squad.  And you have seen a level of effort in these first two matches that you haven't seen in a while.  And anyone who jogs around the pitch is going to find their way to the bench. Quickly.  And they will worry about not getting off the bench, too.

Now, to the question of these players leaving.  I don't think Yaya goes because the economics don't work.  Expect to see him given chances in Cup matches to earn his way back into the first squad.  Same with Nasri.  Given our fragile David Silva and KDB's injury last season, we'll want to have another creative on hand just in case.  Hart is a more difficult call.  Obviously, he has a lot of fan backing.  The news this AM is that we'll get Claudio Bravo once FCB complete a deal with Valencia.  But that makes no sense.  If I was Valencia, why would I send a decent keeper to Barcelona?  And the sporting director says Bravo is starting for FCB this weekend.

Well, we'll never know the 'truth'.  But we will see what time brings us.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What does Noel know that the rest of us don't?

I've meant to write about this all summer, but life got in the way.   Sigh.....

In the spring, when things were looking grim, Noel Gallagher gave an extended interview to the Men in Blazers crew.  You can watch it here:

What I find amazing happens between 27:12 and 30:15, when Noel talks about Manuel Pellegrini's future with City.

At 28:00, he compares him negatively to Jose, at 29:00 he starts discussing that he'd have Klop or Angelotti.  But what's really amazing is that Noel predicts that if we don't sign Klop or Angelotti, it means that Pep Guardiola has been "tapped up" to replace Manuel.

I realize that at the time Noel predicts this, a lot of people were saying it was time for a change.  But Gallagher's takes it to another level.  There is a twinkle in his eye, sort of telling us that City would be stupid to do leave Pellegrini at the helm with Klop or Angelotti available.

While there are probably only 2 people who know if Guardiola has been "tapped up", the situation is a lot more complicated.  Suppose we win a trophy or two?  Suppose we make good progress in the Champions League?  Do we still replace Pellegrini?  It doesn't make sense to me.

We're riding high after a great win at West Brom.  But it's a long season.  We won't look that sharp for the length of the season.  That's when the talk will start.

Since the interview, we know that Pellegrini did get a contract extension, which Gallagher said would not happen.

Only time will tell......

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Baggies v City 10th August, 2015

Nice sunny day in San Francisco as City kicked off at the Hawthorns.  Patrick, Maggie’s beloved barkeep, was uncharacteristically sullen probably due to being reminded that Arsenal were bottom of the league. He soon brightened though up to inform all 16-plus of the attending  SF Blues that we should be careful lest we bring worse things onto ourselves. Personally, I kept my trap shut.  Dr. Adrian Rawlinson offered to write us all sick notes as we had skived off work to watch which showed ultimate compassion from one who has uttered the Hippocratic Oath . Dave Brogan was off like a rocket towards the moan zone as the game began, complaining about the fullback pairing of Saghna and Kolorav but really!! why begin the season like this when we have 37 more glorious opportunities to vent our spleens?  What’s this? City started brightly, bossing the game as Silva buzzed around, playing through Yaya as West Brom watched like stand-ins from ‘Dawn of the Dead’. George A. Romero aka Tony Pulis stood impassively on the sidelines projecting his thought-waves, ‘4-4-2 wtf was I thinking? and these West Brom boxers are very tight around the nether regions’. Nine minutes in Silva shot across the face of goal, Navas retrieved and brought it back for Toure to scuff a shot through Dawson’s  lanky legs into the side of the net, a lucky dribbler –WE LOVE SCABBY GOALS! Cue a loud  Rob, Kyle (and bro) and  Jeffrey-led chorus of Yaya, Yaya Yaya…  It got better, 25 minutes on the clock a languid one-two with Bony for Toure to curl one in to the Myhill’s left top corner. City continued in similar fashion as the half ran out, Sterling should have scored but no matter; his 6 out of 10 performance,  though bright,  was  below the rest of the rampant City players. West Brom improved in the second half (it was hard not to) and had a few chances to score but not even Gino Fortunato,  who has a morbid fear of 2-0 score lines, looked not the slightest bit worried. The killer blow came as Silva whipped in a corner to Vinnie in similar fashion to his (almost) league winning goal against Man Utd in 2012,  glanced powerfully past the goalkeeper. Jose and Jacq Ferreira, Zack, Ajay, Simon P,  were up and Mick Graham started to enjoy the game. Kudos to Mike and Sue from Oz who attended and we didn’t mention the cricket once.  Great result! bring on Chelski and the ‘Cheating One’.

SF Blues Man of the Match: Kyle Cook for his rousing rendition of Manuel Pellegrini’s Lamborghini.

West Bromwich Albion
    13 Myhill
    04 Chester Booked
    25 Dawson
    06 Lescott
    11 Brunt
    08 Gardner Booked
    24 Fletcher Booked
    07 Morrison
    14 McClean (Yacob - 45' Booked )
    17 Lambert (Anichebe - 74' )
    18 Berahino (McManaman - 80' )
    03 Olsson
    05 Yacob
    09 Ideye
    10 Anichebe
    19 McManaman
    29 Sessegnon
    38 Rose
    01 Hart
    03 Sagna
    04 Kompany
    20 Mangala
    11 Kolarov
    42 Y Touré (Demichelis - 80' )
    25 Fernandinho Booked
    15 Jesús Navas
    21 Silva
    07 Sterling (Nasri - 74' )
    14 Bony (Agüero - 63' )
    05 Zabaleta
    08 Nasri

    10 Agüero

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Making the home field advantage

City lost a few home games this season.  Well, you might say, every one loses sometimes.  This is true.  So why should we pay attention?

Did you know that City's away form was exactly the same this year and last?  EXACTLY.  So that means the difference between our potential 79 points this season and the 86 we won the league with last year was the difference in our home points.  The max Chelsea can finish with is 87, so our 86 might have won this year, and certainly would have made the last day more exciting.

What caused this difference?  Who knows.  Whats' clear is that after surviving a stretch with no strikers and playing well during it, City lost and drew against some teams that we would have crushed last season.

Last season, we started the season with a poor run away, and then became terrors on the road and at home.  This season, we started well and went on a mid season slump both home and away.  But in the last 8 games, only Leicester City has more points.  We've found our form and are playing well again.  Unfortunately, it cost us the league, although did assure us a second place finish.

It's a long season and every team will have it's ups and downs.  Let's see if we can even out the lows next season.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Well, it's official. We are crap.

On new years day, City were tied with Chelsea on points.  Now, the Blues are a distant second, and Arsenal are tied with City on points, with a game at hand.  We lost to United, to Burnley for gods sake.  We've been eliminated from all the Cup competitions, by the likes of Middlesbrough and Barcelona.  Hell, we even drew with Hull.

We're crap!  Everyone says so, everyone knows it.  Pelligrini is on his way out the door, as are a number of top players such as Yaya and Nasri.  And of course Milner is leaving too.

In particular, Yaya is crap.  He doesn't run, he doesn't defend.  He wants too many birthday cakes.  And his agent is moaning that he's getting too much heat for City's poor performance in the second half of the season.

We're crap.  Crap, crap, crap.

Or are we?  Pablo Zabaletta is quoted in the papers today, saying that Pelligrini deserves more respect. He points out that City had a number of players in the World Cup, and that there was not a lot of rest over the summer.  Further, you can't always fire a manager just because he didn't win a trophy this season.  Several players have not had great seasons, and it's not clear that you should be blaming the manager for the poor performance of key players.

Further, we're in the top couple of places in what many consider to be the most competitive league in the world.  If we are crap, and we're second, what does that say about the rest of the league?  Is the entire league crap?  If so, why are we wasting our time watching it?

There are a number of players having seasons that they probably want to forget.  No, Yaya has not played great.  He's also on a World Cup and Africa's Cup hangover, never mind the birthday cake incident or the fact that his brother passed away.  Silva's assists are down, although he has scored more this year.  Navas is down in the goals department, and given the time he spends with the ball, you could easily expect more.  We went over 300 corners without scoring!  The flowing, attacking, push it forward football that served us so well last season is gone and the large gobs of possession the statistics show City have are spent knocking the ball back and forth between the half way line and the 18 yard box, looking for an opening that never seems to come.

Will we see changes over the summer?  I expect so.  There are changes every summer.  But if we can play this poorly, and still finish in a champions league spot, perhaps we're not the crap we think we are.

We are City!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

What a difference a half makes....

Well, what a tale of two halfs?!

The first half was more of the Hull match: slow, pathetic, without a trace of effort or loveliness.  The defense was in complete disarray, and we were lucky to not be down 3 nil.  Our goal was a one man effort from Kun, who really made a go of it, being brought down at the half way line but got up and kept going.  I don't often criticize David Silva, but the worst defensive spot we were in was caused by him being stripped of the ball, and then STOPPING INSTEAD OF GOING AFTER THE ATTACKER.  Play the whistle, men.

I suspect that there was a bit of a 'team meeting' at the half, because the team that came out looked full of fire.  Not every effort was spot on, but they were working on it, and the rewards were there.  That was the most goals in a City match since Sunderland on December 3.

Someone posted a skills video featuring the match at Old Trafford that City won 6-1.  It was a thing of beauty.  Where are those guys?  Where is the fire?  If we are going to catch Chelsea, or look respectable against Barcelona, that team is going to have to show up.