The frustration along with the foul ups continue…
Whether or not it is apt at this time to entertain hack and pundit talk of a crisis at Manchester City nor the voices of those amongst us prone to hit the panic button, such is the frequency of football matches The Blues must play, it seems better right now to deal with the facts.
Almost 4 months and 15 football matches into Pep Guardiola’s reign, it is 1 month including an international break since we last tasted victory. But for some kamikaze defensive errors there is no doubt we would be on icloud nine. City remain top of the Premier League having conceded the initial running and have given ourselves a hard task in the Champions League. Our third ongoing competition is the League Cup which we will playing to progress in outside the city walls within 48 hours. We remain active on 3 fronts with plenty to play for. Across the past 5 games outside of the defeat at Spurs we have seen The Blues dominate possession for long periods and deliver some wonderful passages of play. But we’ve stopped winning and hence the speculation as to why.
Pep explained to us from the off that the process of the squad adapting to his methods will take time. He also explained that the occasional concession of errors at the back must be factored into these methods. But of course for that to be shoulder-shrugged off we need to be scoring goals and we have registered only 2 in our last 4 games. It’s right here where missed penalties, wrong options and reluctance to pull the shooting trigger are belying an inexplicable lack of belief and dare I say it, courage.
We saw the latter repeatedly against an eager, well drilled Southampton who had set up similarly to Everton in our previous home draw and knocked City players about almost at will. I don’t think we are anywhere near combative enough to sustain a grip on games that we should be running away with. One seasoned regular on BMRTV referred to the Southampton performance as being born of ‘pansy football.’ I’d like to think that comment itself was born of frustration but I have mentioned previously this season that we look too lightweight out of possession. The pre-requisite of any Guardiola side is to want the ball. This issue could be one of the reasons he chose to keep the squad locked inside the dressing room for 50 minutes after the final whistle against the resurgent Saints.
Accepted, we do live in the instant society and that reflects itself in the way businesses and football clubs are run. At the top level, results are everything and patience is in short supply but patience is precisely what Guardiola needs right now. Support and understanding should go without saying. The manager has been brought in to transform the mindset of players who spent the last season jogging down blind alleys. Such are the resources available to elite clubs now, the margins for success have never been finer. There will never be another Invincibles. One glance at the Premier League table confirms it, but I am certain that the team that gets its mojo settled and running will run away with the competition. The positives still outweigh the negatives at City. It is way too early to be alarmist, we were always going to have a difficult phase at some point. Keep the faith, Blues.
But that said, should City fail to beat José Mourinho’s Stretford Galacticos at the swamp this week, I will not be amused.
‘The Latest One,’ like Louis Van Gaal and The Moyesiah before him continues to benefit from an easy ride afforded by Lord Taggart’s legion of friends within the media. Our enemies have been waiting eagerly to shriek crisis over any City slip but the type of nosedive that has taken place under Moaning Maureen was never in their script. Again, dealing precisely with the facts, United have won only 4 football matches since the end of August. They won at Northampton as they languished in the bottom half of the League One table, at home to a shot to pieces Leicester then just about saw off Ukrainian title contenders Zorya before cruising past Turkish strugglers Fenerbahce, both games played out to swathes of empty red seats. This is all that the most expensively assembled squad in footballing history has been able to serve up to its 700 million fans.
Mourinho’s demeanour and outpourings are increasingly bizarre. Were City not failing to win themselves of late we would be talking about this never being a better time to go to Stretford.
The final fact in this piece is that there isn’t a better place on earth to get our season back on track.
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