One word kept repeating in my head while watching City stink up the Burnley pitch.
Dumb. And I don't mean just one thing. Several things just seem so dumb right now. To wit:
Part the First: Dumb Signings
I think Zac covered this ground quite well here but I'd like to add this.
- Best players, 2011 (in no particular order): Aguero, Kompany, Silva, Yaya, Hart
- Best Players, 2015: See above, though all five are performing worse.
That's the problem in a nutshell, people. Reasons for our lack of improvement in the talent department vary (the abortion that is FFP, Hazard/Isco choosing other places over us, etc.) but an undeniable fact of our current existence is this: we don't have the horses we once did because our best horses are four years older and of the above magnificent five, only Aguero and maybe Hart are arguably still in their prime. With supposedly endless resources and a Barca braintrust leading the way, we haven't added a star player since Aguero signed on the dotted line... four years ago. When the sheikh's first took over, opposing managers wet themselves with fear with "City will spend and get everybody" this and "Money can't buy heart" that. All that bovine scatology piled up so high and so fast because people believed we could and would get anybody we wanted since money wouldn't be an object. Whoever the best players were, City would on the top of the list of teams chasing them.
And it hasn't happened. And it's why we are where we are—a point head of Arsenal (who beat us and are frankly playing a whole lot better than us) and looking like on any given week, we can lose to anybody.
Part the Second: Dumb Effort
For the love of all that his holy, how much effort would it take to play better than Burnley? Apparently, more than we can muster. If you came to me before the season and said, "I'll bet you $1,000 City takes no more than a point from Burnley," I'd raise money to take the wager. I can't fathom why we're playing the way we're playing. I'm not sure Pellegrini is to blame—maybe age is catching up to us, as I hinted above. What I do know is that after oodles of rest and relaxation and heading into what will be the most important match of the season trophy-wise, we put up a stinker against a bottom-place team. Almost as alarming as the piss-poor effort is this: no one is playing particularly well. Who would be our Man of the Match today? I've seen the match twice and I can't find a candidate.
Part the Third: Dumb Replay Rule (or lack thereof)
I've been pounding this drum for years. This ain't the NFL (thank heavens) or the NBA or the MLB. Our game is played without the use of hands and with a very large ball. There are calls that are dramatically affecting games that could be reviewed and changed in seconds. We should be reviewing all red cards, 2nd yellows, PK's and yellows for diving. This would not be hard to do. This would have no discernable effect on the game. Fergie's argument that "all these things even out in the end" came from the lips of a troglodyte who benefitted from the referee's whistle more than any manager in the history of the game. Driven by lord knows what demons, fans worldwide are accepting of the status quo that "these things just happen" and folks need to accept it. Such an argument is, excuse the language, all my balls. I made the argument months ago that European football should adapt what the MLS did with free kicks—a chalk line ten yards back so some bastard wouldn't charge the kicker every single time a free kick was taken. I got laughed at then but we're doing it and the game has benefitted enormously. And is anyone objecting to goal line technology? I didn't think so. Replay will happen sooner than later because the powers that be will get sick and tired of spending millions on a team just to see a crucial match get screwed up by an obviously blown call—a call that could easily be overturned on review.
Did Pablo Zabaleta dive? I'd sure like a closer look but I find it very interesting that the call made by referee Andre Marriner was no call at all. I mean, if Zabs dove, he gets a yellow. If he didn't, it's a PK. But Marriner wasn't sure so he didn't make a call. Perhaps he would have benefitted from a closer look. We all could.
Part the Fourth: Dumb Fans
Chelsea fans, that is. After the match, the Chelsea faithful, still stinging from a home defeat in the CL where they were:
a) Up a man from the 30th minute on and
b) In the lead twice and
c) At home.
So they flood the internet with the following argument: since Chelsea players were criticized for surrounding the ref after Ibrahimovic's now infamous foul, Man City should receive equal criticism for surrounding Marriner after the Zabaleta no call in minute 90.
I'll explain this slowly so even Chelsea fans can understand.
a) Your boys surrounded the ref the moment Ibrahimovic made contact, begging for a red that never should have come and yet did.
b) Our men (see what I did there) got angry at a call that wasn't made. And most of the team wasn't surrounding the ref, hands raised, all behaving like someone just stole their last scoop of ice cream.
See the difference? Chelsea players whined needlessly and without shame for a call they knew they shouldn't get—hell, they put Whining Wayne and Whining Rio to shame. City argued a call that wasn't made and that happens all the time. And not for nothing but no City player got a yellow for dissent.
Chelsea will very likely win the Premier League title. No group of fans will do so in a more insufferable fashion, of that I'm sure.
Part the Fifth: Poll.
You know what to do.