Sunday, October 26, 2014

This season vs. last season

Ok, I'll be honest.  I'm not going to get analytical on this on.  Just impressions.  Impressions that could be wrong.  But...

1) Where is the defense?  Captain Vinny continues to bail out the back left and right.  No problem there.  But the fullbacks seem to have gone missing, at least as far as defensive duty goes.  We seem to be alright if everyone is back, but on the defensive break, we are terrible.  Yes, only two teams have let in fewer goals.  They happen to be ahead of us in the table.
2) Joe Hart has played really well.  He's made a lot of great stops.  I can't think of one goal that's gone in where he's made a mistake.
3) Last season, we scored a lot on the break, taking advantage of players out of position on the defense and the creativity of our midfield and attackers.  This season, we seam to purposely be slowing down, as if this is the desired tactic.  The terrible pace is leaving us to try to ram the ball down the throat of 10 defenders, something we are not quite built to do.
4) Last season, Pelligrini was always focused on the next game, meaning the game at hand.  We don't appear to be doing that this year.  I'm not sure if its an overall lack of focus or if we are just starting to peek ahead at the calendar.  Either way, it's a disaster.
5) The midfield last year was making great passes and taking the ball from attackers.  This year, we seems to be making the bad pass and giving the ball away. Stats might prove me wrong, but that's what it 'feels' like.

Technically, you could say we are a better team this year with upgrades in midfield and the back line.  Just not seeing it.  Yet.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Man of the Match

Sergio Aguero was voted man of the match for his incredible four goal performance against Spurs.  And who can blame him?  Despite missing a penalty kick, Sergio showed why he is the danger in the Manchester City attack.  His ability to create space for himself with the ball left Spurs defenders gasping for air and swinging at shadows the entire match.

But to be honest, I don't think he was man of the match.  For me, it was Joe Hart.  Why?  Well, you would not know it from the outcome, but Spurs only had one less shot than City (19 vs. 20).  While they only had seven on target, each one of them required a fine save.  Even the goal was one that Joe got a piece of and almost kept the clean sheet.

But what really got my attention was the save on the penalty.  If that ball goes in, the score is 2-2 and it is an entirely different match.  I don't know if it was pure luck or a great read, but Hart was all over the ball and made a great save to a ball going into a bottom corner.  Pure class.

I'm sure that Spurs goal keeper Hugo Lloris will not be looking forward to the next City match.  Over the last three matches, City has completely lit up Spurs.  Despite the City tally, Lloris has accounted well for himself and has made a number of fine saves.  But the City goals have been well earned.

One person not in the running for the man of the match was Fernando.  His performance so far this year has been ok, but he's definitely the most disappointing signing City have made this season.  Particularly early in this match, Spurs were getting in front of Hart much too easily and most of it was his fault.  It was his turnover that allowed the goal.  Let's hope that he gets stronger as the season moves on.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

City in Europe

As I write this, City have one point from six in their Champions League campaign.

After almost wining the group last year, one could rightfully hope that City would be treated more kindly in the group draw this time.  But lady luck seems to abandon the squad that day, as once again, City were matched in a group of death.

Due to some brilliant Joe Hart goal keeping we almost stole a point in Munich and despite a fast start by the Blues, many think that the draw against Roma was a fair result.

The mystifying piece seems to me that a squad that had won the premier league two of the past three years (and finished second the other year), should feel like it can do better.  Certainly, England has the most challenging league.

So, why are we not doing better?  Certainly, part of the problem is bad luck.  We end up in very difficult groups, and play teams that are recent winners of the tournament.  But I don't think that is an excuse.  Certainly, every team competing will have to find a way to beat a recent winner if they are to go far in the competition.

Instead, the problem looks like one of confidence.  Week in and week out, the team play quite well in the Premier League and show a fine attacking spirit.  This spirit is evidenced even when a man down.  However, in Europe, the play is much more tentative and it shows up in lower passing percentages.  This seems to deny the 'go forward' mentality of Pellegrini.

But all hope is not lost.  Six points from CSKA Moscow and draws between Roma and Bayern will put us right in the thick of things.  Perhaps one lucky goal is all we need to turn it around.