Newsletter #1921

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What a super deadline day spectacular that really was. Our business done, it was feet up time for us Blues and if you saw the Sky coverage it made for great viewing.

Oh to have been a fly on the wall at OT after the Herrara deal fell though. Hashtag Laughing Stock!

This all came after a good three points, if a nervy performance against Hull. Next up a trip to Stoke after the international break.

Next Game: 14 September, Stoke City, Britannia Stadium 15:00 BST

CITY 2 HULL CITY 0

Extra class told in the end as City overcame a disjointed performance to defeat a lively, well drilled Hull side at the Etihad Stadium. Alvaro Negredo notched his second goal for City to break the deadlock just after the hour and Yaya Touré sealed the points in the 90th minute with another scorching free kick. However, it was not a day when City were anything like at our best. The defeat at Cardiff left scars that were all too visible here.

Hull deserved to go in level at the break. They’d started the quicker and should have been ahead in the 7th minute when Lescott’s hesitance meant that Aluko was clean through. The Hull forward looked certain to score but shot just wide and Manchester breathed a sigh of relief. He really should have scored! Despite the welcome return of Matija Nastasic, City were rather jittery in defence, especially in the early stages. Hull had the ball in the net but Graham was ruled offside in the 11th minute after volleying in Brady’s pinpoint cross. Cue yet another sigh of relief 4 minutes later when Koren fired just wide after a free kick was cleared. The closest City came to scoring before half time was when in the 13th minute, Lescott’s header from a perfect Silva cross was tipped over by McGregor. Other than that Kolarov forced a save from Navas’s corner then Sergio Agüero thrilled us with some individual skill just before the half hour when he jinked through three Hull defenders but his angle was too tight and McGregor was presented with a regulation save at his left hand post.

There was no disguising that it had been a poor, frustrating first half. Our movement was nowhere near good enough before the break, and despite the efforts of David Silva, often prompting from deep, there was little fluidity to our play, as his City team mates were too static. Yaya’s high misguided header just before the half time whistle summed up our first half: wayward.

The City defence still failed to convince in the 2nd period, and we were lucky when Graham hooked over the bar after the normally reliable Pablo Zabaleta headed a clearance back into the danger area. He immediately raised his hand in recognition of his error.

Pellegrini had brought Negredo on at the break and he was soon into the action, though he badly miscued a header well wide when Silva’s lovely lofted pass played him in, unmarked with only the goalkeeper to beat. He looked a little sheepish at his miss, but he was soon to redeem himself.

Silva was involved in most of our best work and was our best player on the day, twisting and turning and looking for openings. It was fitting that he should have been involved in the move that led to City breaking the deadlock with a crisp passing sequence that was the best move of that match.

After receiving Yaya’s ball from defence, Silva swivelled and his pass found Navas. City’s new right winger in turn found Agüero, whose deft touch freed Zabaleta to advance down the right and loft a perfect, first time far post cross for Negredo, who headed the ball back across McGregor and down into the net. Negredo and his delighted team mates celebrated, and we were rather happy (not to mention relieved!), even if the lead was barely deserved. It is a real positive and a relief that Negredo is up and running and is scoring in English football, and he looks like a natural goal scorer, with the quality of his movement and eye for goal. Two goals in three matches from the bench (it should have been three as he was wrongly ruled offside when netted against Newcastle) is a good start.

City were never comfortable in this match, though, and Kolarov was forced to make a crucial sliding tackle to thwart Hull late on, but Yaya Touré made the points safe in the 90th minute after Nasri was upended just outside the box. Repeating his thrilling dead ball strike against Newcastle, he smote the ball from a similar inside left position in off the under site of the bar: a thrilling sight to send us home happy with the result, if not the performance.

The second half represented an improvement on the first, but it was not really anything to write home about. Overall, this was anything but a routine victory.

Hull can take credit for their performance and with better finishing, they would have at least earned a point. City’s finishing was the difference, and ensured that the points were ours.

Despite keeping a clean sheet, our defence was far from convincing. Our back four lacked pace and left large spaces behind and in front for Hull, particularly Aluko, to run into. Playing with two left sided centre backs should not have been a problem but Lescott looked uncomfortable playing at right sided centre back. We really miss Vincent Kompany, and Micah Richards’ latest injury is very unfortunate timing.

Martin Demichelis, who has signed for £4.3 million from Atletico Madrid, is an experienced organiser at 32 (with 37 caps for Argentina) who can read the game, but he will not give us the pace we need. Hopefully Vincent Kompany and Micah Richards can recover quickly from their injuries.

Our passing in general was not of its usual high standard. Too often we gave the ball away cheaply, and this highlighted flaws in the way we were set up. Silva was given freedom to roam from his starting position on the left, and that is fine, but this did leave gaps on our left that were not filled: a job often done very well by Gareth Barry in recent seasons. Under Roberto Mancini, Nasri would often start from the left, and Silva from the right, and both would have the freedom to roam. Even though both Nasri and Silva tracked back, they often did so from further up the pitch, but the gaps were plugged far more often than not when they couldn’t get back in position. Central midfield is a concern too, and part of that role will be to plug the gaps as well as Barry did. It is early days, but whilst Yaya and Fernandinho are mobile and quicker, is Fernandinho physically strong enough? He was knocked off the ball rather easily in this game. Perhaps a midfield three of Milner and Fernandinho either side of Yaya is a better balance (with Silva further pushed up) to offer protection of our defence especially away from home, and get the best out of our rich attacking players. One other burning question prevails: are we getting the best out of Yaya Touré in his current deeper midfield role? He is gifted enough to play very well there (and let’s not forget that he played a centre back role very well indeed in the great Barcelona side in winning Champions’ League Final), but the suspicion is that we are under-using his talents, and inhibiting him. There are fewer thrilling sights than Yaya Touré running full pelt at a defence, and that has been another important part of our armoury and another dimension. Hopefully, all these are issues and questions that Manuel Pellegrini is contemplating.

After the international break, which is an unwelcome distraction, City will have to be focused and find that high tempo game that we played against Newcastle.

Att: 46,903

Ratings:
Hart: He handled well and did well to spread himself as Aluko bore down on goal early on. Criticised unfairly by some fans for a stretching punch that cleared the anger and went for a throw, which was actually the safest option. A good response in a difficult week of scrutiny: 7
Zabaleta: Not his best game defensively, but all the back four allowed Hull too much space. One miscued header nearly cost us but otherwise battled well, though. His far post cross for Negredo’s goal was exquisite: 6
Lescott: Too many hopeful, misplaced long passes. Didn’t look totally comfortable playing as a right sided centre back, and was hesitant to tackle with his right foot, which led to poor positioning at times: 5
Nastasic: Read the game fairly well and made some good headed clearances and clean tackles: 6
Kolarov: Left some gaps but his defending improved after the break and put in a vital tackle to preserve our lead late on in a committed show: 6
Navas: Very, very fast and skilful, has a good attitude and is prepared to work hard, tracking back. His ball set up Zabaleta to cross for the crucial breakthrough: 7
Fernandinho: Out of sorts all round in the first half, and found his way into the book, but never stopped working and improved after the break: 6
Silva: Always looking to make things happen, even when it’s not going for us. Always working hard in attack and defence, and such a clever player, it’s a privilege to watch him in action, even in a game like this. Even though he has had far better games than this, he was still our best player and it was strange that he was subbed: 7
Yaya: Tried to prompt from midfield but our lack of movement meant he had to hold the ball longer than he would have liked. Scored another great free kick: 6
Agüero: An exhilarating run aside, and one or two lovely touches, particularly in the build-up to the first goal, this was a quieter day for Sergio: 6
Dzeko: Not really in the game. His one shot was an angled drive that was blocked: 5
Subs:
Negredo (for Dzeko 45): Showed a goal scorer’s instinct with some superb runs into goal scoring positions, and some good link up play too. His headed finish for the crucial opener was perfect and strengthens his case for a starting berth: 7
Nasri (for Silva 66): Some nice touches: 6
Milner (for Agüero 76): Trademark industry, one good cross. Why not give him a start in the midfield engine room? 6
Best Oppo: Brady: Good, strong runner in midfield. Delivered a good curling cross for Graham for the goal that was ruled out for offside: 7

Refwatch: Phil Dowd: Good, low profile showing: 7

Subwatch: Milner and Garcia warmed up together and enjoyed a bit of banter, whilst Nasri warmed up on his own. All our subs received warm applause as they ran into the Colin Bell/North Stand corner, including Jovetic.

Phil Banerjee <phil.banerjee(at)orange.net>

SQUAD IS READY

The transfer window has closed, with City doing most of their business early this time, so that new players have time to settle in, and before other clubs move in for the same players. On the last day, Martin Demichelis, a central defender, came in because of Kompany’s injury; he should beef up our defence.

I wish Gareth Barry good luck at Everton and because he is on loan it means he will not be able to play against City. Gareth helped City win the FA Cup and league title; I sure hope that we will not miss him, as we did de Jong (The Tiger) last season.

The City squad for Europe and Premier League has been named, and we are now ready for take-off.

Our football has got to improve after the game versus Hull. Although City got a deserved win, it was not the best of games. Great goals from the beast Alvaro Negredo, and an amazing free kick from Yaya. The Rags’ manager Moyes was in attendance, so I doubt that much was shown to him.

Just one league game at Stoke before the big game against our rivals United on September 22; it will as always be a top notch fixture, this time with both clubs facing each other with new managers.

Come on you Blues!

“Feed the Beast… and he will score.”

In Pellegrini I trust!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)aol.com>

TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY

Wow, what a final day to the transfer madness. Thankfully, unlike last year, we were not the lemmings catching the droppings of over-priced and over sell clauses. We got Demichelis who is an old mate of Manuel who was so far down the list of hoopla, I had to check the City website for the correct spelling; yes he is old but for 2 years he will help. Better than Kolo? We will have to find out.

Sorry for laughing at this so much, but I thought Moyes on Sunday had missed the bus back to the Swamp. Operating on Toffee-time, with no extra time clock and no money to spend (Boo Hoo), Glazers maybe were financing their debt. That and no decent signings, don’t get me wrong we have had a hard time with Fellaini but to pay 5 million pounds over his sell-out clause brings out Santa in September. Reminds me of that time they got Berbatov (Veron lookalike), who they overpaid for a few years back. We did our homework early and got the players in we wanted and shipped out what we could.

Negredo looks like a beast and will rattle any defenders in his way, Navas will be ok with his brother now at Bury to keep him happy and the fact there are more Spanish speaking players at teams in the area he will not be short of company. Fernandinho, once they let him play where’s he is best, and a fit Jovetic will be a welcome addition.

Let’s hope they all come back healthy from the international break and we can have a great season.

Champions’ League has seen us move from the group of death to maybe a good chance to get through.

I will say this: Özil is a great player and will be a joy to watch; just wish we’d played Arsenal before his arrival.

Well it’s Labor Day here in the USA and boy are City a labour of love.

Phil Telford <telfordpnt(at)hotmail.com>

BLUES IN VANCOUVER OR DENVER

Are there any Blues in the greater Vancouver area who watch the Whitecaps and fancy a pint or two before/after the matches to chat about City, etc., and/or want to meet up occasionally to watch City on the telly/in a pub if the kick-off is not too early?

I live downtown – a ten minute walk from BC Place.

Vancouver is home today but I’ll be in Denver for the derby. Is there a bar in Denver where City fans gather to watch matches?

Neil Adshead <neil.adshead(at)gmail.com>

AND FINALLY… THANK YOU GARETH BARRY

With a heavy heart we see Gareth Barry leave City, albeit on loan to Everton for the last year of his contract. Like Nigel de Jong last year, he leaves as one of those players with our thanks and very best wishes. He was a player who was very much appreciated by Manchester City supporters. Whilst he cannot play against us for Everton this season, Blues are already talking about singing his name when we play them, and I am sure that he will be welcomed warmly when he comes back to the Etihad.

Gareth Barry arrived at City four years ago in 2009 for £12 million with a reputation for being a strong running midfielder for Aston Villa, whom he served for 12 years. He was the best Villa player every time we played them, and it was no surprise that he was their captain. He wanted to win things and play in the Champions’ League, and even though many Villa fans were bitter at his departure, he took the trouble to write to them in the Birmingham Mail, thanking them for their support and explaining his reasons for moving. A class act, he more than justified moving and the £12 million we paid Villa proved to be excellent value for money.

I was delighted when we signed him, having been really impressed with his energetic and highly effective displays, but there was a concern that he was 29 and that Villa fans had seen his best days. Those fears were quickly dispelled as Barry settled quickly into Mark Hughes’s team in his typical, low profile but effective way, but it was under Roberto Mancini that we really saw the best of him as he was an important player in the side that finished 3rd, qualified for the Champions’ League, and, gloriously, won our first trophy for 35 years: the 2011 FA Cup. It was in our title winning season of 2011/2012 that he really showed his very best qualities. Barry showed all the characteristics required of a top class midfielder. Tough tackling, resolute and strong in the tackle, his decision making and passing were very good indeed. He read the game superbly, and his positional sense was excellent. He knew exactly where to be and when to be there.

Highly consistent and excellent, a model professional, Gareth Barry was indeed a very good player for us. On the very rare occasions that he had a bad game, it was all the more noticeable, so high were his standards. Gaz Baz played a very important part in us winning the FA Cup and the League. A very important player in getting us to where we are now.

Barry always stood up in the big matches. We were never bullied by opponents, particularly in derbies. He didn’t stand on ceremony and was happy to stand up to United players who were trying it on, whilst remaining focused on the job in hand.

On the evidence of the season so far, it looks like we are missing his physical presence and common sense distribution already. Hopefully his ex-City and ex-Villa team mate James Milner will get the chance to succeed him.

I know there is supposed to be no sentiment in football but like many City supporters, I am very sad that he has been allowed to leave. For me Barry still had something to give us, even at 32, and we have missed his drive and all round ability in the Cardiff and Hull games so far. It is especially galling that Javi Garcia is thought a better option.

No one blames Barry for leaving. The writing was on the wall for him when he wasn’t included in a pre-season trip. He’s 32 and is used to playing, and he is used to playing regularly and wants to play regularly. Like many City fans, I really don’t care for Everton at all, but it’s a good move for him, and I am pleased for him that he will get the football that he deserves.

Gareth Barry was a great servant to this club and we would not be where we are without players like him. His name is indelibly written into City history now. Gareth Barry, midfield stalwart, all round good guy, FA Cup winner and Champion, thank you and (though I hope he doesn’t win any points against us though!), very best wishes for the future.

Barry’s City Stats:
132 League Appearances, 6 goals; 43 Cup appearances and 2 goals.
Honours: 1 FA Cup winner’s medal, 1 FA Cup runner’s up medal, 1 Premier League championship.

Phil Banerjee <phil.banerjee(at)orange.net>

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[Valid3.2]Philip Alcock, editor@mcivta.city-fan.org

Newsletter #1921

2013/09/05

Editor:


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