THOUGHT THE FIRST: From the Mouths of the Wise
Paul Carnall, resident sage of the MCFC Supporters Club-Hollywood Division, has bled for Man City almost as long as I've been alive (and I've got half a century under the belt). It was he who suggested the headline after today's debacle: "Typical City." I mean, Jesus Navas save us but look at what we had going for us today: home field advantage, a talent disparity emphatically in our favor, a week removed from one of the more exhilarating wins in our history, a fully rested starting squad and playing against a championship side (albeit one riding a hot streak). And we lost. And I honestly can't believe we lost. It's sad enough to stare at the business end of a one-trophy season with that trophy being the Capital One Cup-nothing to sneer at but, admittedly, as far as hardware goes, down the list in order of importance. No, what's worse is that for some long-time followers like Paul, this was-italics, please-not a surprise. And if I'm honest with myself, I half-expected this putrid performance because our high-scoring Citizens haven't been seen in over a month. Since February 1st we have:
- Scored just 7 total goals in 9 games and
- Only 4 goals in our last 5 home games and
- 3 of those total goals came against Sunderland last week and
- Lest we think it's better competition giving us trouble, the tally includes today and a 0-0 stinker vs. Norwich.
THOUGHT THE SECOND: So What Gives?
From my Guiness-soaked goggles, I saw the following today and one could apply the following to previous matches.
- A striker partnership that just weeks back looked for all the world like one of the best in the world-Aguero and Negredo-have been virtually ineffective.
- A four-man midfield of Yaya, Nasri, Navas and Javi Garcia, three of whom would be the unquestioned best player if they played for Wigan, and only Garcia appeared to be consistently effective (Nasri picked it up substantially in the 2nd half and my main man Yaya turned in a turd).
- A back-line that, without Captain Kompany on the pitch, appears apt to give up opportunity after opportunity to the opposition.
Above and beyond the individual failures-and failures they were (don't get me started on Richards and Glichy)-is just the overall lack of urgency today from minute 1 to minute 45. After the match, Pellegrini said-quote--"I think that maybe it is the worst half we have in the year. We didn't have the pace to play against a team that is in a very good moment." In other words-and this is inexcusable-we didn't show up to play. I'm open to correction as always but health was not an issue today. Rest was not an issue for the players who started. Momentum was not an issue and as for occasion-if you can't get fired up for the quarterfinals of the FA Cup at home, you get what you deserve. There is just no logical reason for the egg we laid today, an egg that at present leaves us out of the FA Cup, virtually out of the CL barring a Lazarus-like rise comeback and oh yeah, we're nine points back of Chelsea in the Prem. Yes, I know we have three games in hand but three of those are road matches against Arsenal, Liverpool and an increasingly rejuvenated Manchester United. I am, over five-hundred words into this column, at a loss to explain today's performance and at a loss to explain why a team who looked like one of the best on terra firma a little over 30 days ago now looks like a bunch of sullen teenagers. I don't know if it's the players' fault. I don't know if the fault lies with Pellegrini. I'll just leave it where I started, with the wise head of Paul Carnall: "Typical City."
THOUGHT THE THIRD: K&K Analytics
Speaking of wiser heads, the tactical firm of Kets & Kompany are off this week. The redoubtable E Lectric Kompany coached two youth games and I just don't have the heart to make him watch the replay of today's match-we all have blood pressure and why send his into the stratosphere? Take the day off, EK. As for Marc Kets (Secretary, Treasurer, all-around-good guy of MCFC Supports Club-Hollywood Division) he took his wife and infant-becoming-toddler son traveling to the beach. (UPDATE: Kets was actually on a plane to Charlotte and not at the beach; that's why he missed today's game. Still, cute pics of the kid on the sand at his Facebook page). See, here in Southern California, temps were in the low 80's so given the choice between watching his beloved Citizens play their worst or see his wife and kid enjoying the very best California has to offer, who could blame him? Certainly not I. The firm of K&K will be back next time and hopefully, the team they analyze will show up, too (bada-bing).
THOUGHT THE FOURTH: Whither the English
Of the English players we have, Joleon Lescott's contract is expiring and I'm 100% sure he leaves and/or won't be re-signed. Jack Rodwell has been injured, I think, since his birth so barring a huge shock, I don't think Pellegrini keeps him. Micah Richards-one of the easiest guys to like ever-is probably gone because we haven't been able to count on him for nearly two years (injuries for the most part) and even in the pink of health, he's not going to beat out Pablo Zabaleta at right back. Darling of media and fans James Milner is down in the depth chart and certainly could leave while his fellow darling of media and fans-Gareth Barry-ain't ever coming back if he can help it. Amidst all of this is quite a bit of chatter about how concerned we should be with the potential exodus of English players. Said concern is, in my not so humble opinion, all my bollocks. The best players play and if 17 Samoans showed up at the Etihad tomorrow and could bring us the hardware then suit them up-they'll be embraced as our own. End of story.
THOUGHT THE FIFTH: Poll!
You know what to do.