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.