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Manchester City – Review Of The Week – Blues in Full Control

Champions League, Derbies and Der Spiegel

Manchester City v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

It’s been a fun week at Manchester City. What should have been a routine week for the blues turned into a bit of a scandal, with allegations of wrong-doing from a German magazine who are clearly unhappy at City gate-crashing the party. Let’s take a look and see what has gone on this week.

Der Spiegel Allegations

Manchester City exposed came the headline. Der Spiegel claims to have seen emails that relate to sponsorship deals, backdating sponsor payments and being able to ‘do what we want.’ But that wasn’t enough for the magazine and they continued to ‘expose’ Manchester City.

If you haven’t read the full articles, I’ll spare you most of the tedious diatribe that has been written about the club, but basically, they believe the club flouted FFP rules, injected cash illegally following the sacking of Roberto Mancini, signed Kevin de Bruyne when Bayern wanted him and nicked Pep Guardiola from the German giants. Big bad Manchester City at it again eh?

UEFA have indicated they may re-open their investigation considering new evidence being brought to light, but the club don’t seem unduly worried, it certainly hasn’t affected the team and the supporters just see the articles as a concerted effort to derail the City project.

Personally, if City found a way around FFP regulations then well done City. Someone needed to break up the cartel of top clubs dominating football, and maybe this is what all this is about. For too many years, it has been the same clubs winning the trophies, the same teams in the finals. If you look at the Champions League format, it is geared towards the top clubs. In an ideal UEFA world, the group winners are the top teams, with the second placed teams are usually the second rate teams. The third rated teams are given a ‘well give you a little reward and put you in the Europa League’ prize, while the unfashionable teams are all sent packing.

But instead of the last 16 being drawn against each other, UEFA keep the top teams apart again – top versus second place. Basically, UEFA want the top teams playing each other in the last eight, but City, along with PSG have gate-crashed the party and someone has to make way. Is it surprising that both these teams are being investigated?

FFP was created to ensure teams spent within their means. Maybe they should also focus on those with huge debt or with finance generated by their country’s government. Just saying. The club quite rightly have refused to get involved with the accusations. I would expect that to change should UEFA reopen their files.

I can’t imagine to outrage should the blues the thing this year!!!

Shakhtar Donetsk

Anyway, enough about all that, let’s move onto football and the blues were in Champions League action against Shakhtar. City could have clinched qualification if Lyon beat Hoffenheim and City beat Shakhtar. Well one of them happened.

The blues were ahead in the 13th minute and in control, but the talking point was no doubt the ‘penalty’ that really shouldn’t have been. Raheem Sterling, running at speed shaped to try and chip the keeper, but caught is foot in the turf and went down. Sterling didn’t appeal for a spot kick, but the referee awarded a penalty. The winger looked a little sheepish as he got to his feet and there was some outrage, particularly on social media, that Sterling didn’t admit what had happened. In our poll, over three quarters of you agreed that he was right to keep quiet. It’s the referee’s job to spot these things and if they can’t, they really shouldn’t be officiating at that level.

But no one complains when a defender brings down an opponent and gets away with it. When Aguero was brought down in the derby last season, did Ashley Young run to the ref and admit the foul and City should get a penalty? Not that I remember so why the furore over Sterling?

I suppose little old cheating City were at it again!

The blues won 6-0 with Gabriel Jesus hitting a morale-boosting hat-trick. The Brazilian is rotating game time with Aguero, with the Argentine still the preferred main striker, which is a format that is really suiting the team at the moment. Jesus is still young, still learning, but he will get his chance. And when he does, he will take it, like he did against Shakhtar.

The Derby

Love it or hate it, at some point the derby has to be played. For blues over the years, this fixture was both anticipated and feared at the same time. Anticipated as it was always an opportunity to put one over on the reds, feared as it usually ended in them putting on over on us. But the derbies these days are different. The tables have turned and now United see this game in anticipation, desperate to ‘put us in our place,’ like we used to think in the 80’s and 90’s.

Of course, there were some derbies that we won but one between 1990 and 2002. Twelve years without a win against United, which also included a 5-0 hammering at Old Trafford, but now we are the ones to beat in this match. And so it proved on Sunday.

The blues threatened to blow United away in a devastating 20 minute spell that saw City score one goal and miss another couple of opportunities. Aguero scored a stunning second before Ederson got bored and conceded a penalty, most likely just to give him something to do. It set up a nervy end to the match, until probably one of the best goals in derby history was scored. Forget Mark Hughes’ bicycle kick in 1989, Uwe Rosler’s equaliser in 1996 or Wayne Rooney’s overhead kick in 2011, Sunday’s third goal was a picture of beauty.

44 passes saw United chasing shadows as they failed to get even a slightest touch on the ball. City pulled them all over the pitch, creating space, at will before that killer cross that found Ilkay Gundogan, who again silenced his critics and scored in the derby. Despite the goal, a lot of the credit has to go to Guardiola. At 2-1, there was always a chance United could get an equaliser from nothing, but he made two changes to counter two United changes and it worked perfectly.

After the match, Jose Mourinho said his players were tired after going to Bournemouth and Italy. Must have been the same when they lost at West Ham by the same scoreline, following gruelling trips to Switzerland, followed by equally demanding matches at home to Wolves and Derby County. These long trips must seriously take it out on his team!

International Break

Once more, the international break interrupts the football season and the blues don’t play again until we visit West Ham on 24th November. I don’t get what this international break does for the team really. Back in the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s, footballers would play a match on a Saturday, play for England on the Wednesday and be back in league action on the Saturday. Although they didn’t win anything, England were still a decent side and fared well in tournaments, reaching the World Cup semi-final in 1990 (we won’t mention Euro 88). Also in those days, drawn FA and League Cup matches were subjected to replays, sometimes two or three until there was a winner, and no one complained about it. Of course, in the late 80’s we didn’t have European football to play, but since the international break was introduced, England seem to have got progressively worse, so is the break really worth it?

Anyway, that’s enough from me, I’ll see you in two weeks.