Date: 20th October 2016 at 9:02pm
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There is no doubt that this was a chastening night for Manchester City in Europe and we will take it squarely on the chin, but I would suggest that all talk of lessons being learned again on the continent must be dispensed with immediately. This is a time for sky blue clear thinking.

City possess a coaching staff and squad brimming with vast experience. Only they will know why criminal individual player errors gifted this win to a Barcelona side, including the quintessentially brilliant Lionel Messi, that they had previously matched until a crazy 53rd minute. Accentuating the positive, City during the first half with impressive shape shifting pressing actually reduced Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar to 20 passes between each other. Not many sides achieve that at the Nou Camp!

It would be lazy journalism to follow the lead of renowned BT Bitter Steve McTrafficCop in levelling the reason for this defeat as being the non-selection of Sergio Aguero. Pep Guardiola got his tactics spot on. Fact. Barca could not find their preferred stride and The Blues could have and should have gone in at half time level, if not in front, having worked Barca keeper Ter Stegen sufficiently enough to suggest we were still well in the game. Enter the game changer, his former Nou Camp comrade-in-gloves Claudio Bravo who has been threatening an implosion ever since he landed in Manchester. And that too, is a fact.

To an extent, Bravo has been on a hiding to nothing since agreeing to replace Torino Joe. I am not alone in having registered the notion that the reason for Hart`s jettison might not be purely football related. However, much as Pep`s cool for cats press conferences are tremendously entertaining, detailing to the media the tactical ideals behind Bravo`s signature have made for opposition fans, hacks and pundits eagerly awaiting every back pass.

That said, City`s defenders, 14 games into a season that could top 60, are not making life easier for the Chilean foot-keeper with their lack of movement and hesitant offering up of their availability for the short pass when he has the ball. One would hope that these issues are going to iron themselves out, especially as the uncompromising City boss was unrepentant in Catalunya last night: Bravo and what is required of him will prevail. Of course, this all but guarantees the risk of future mistakes. With City on the offensive, Bravo can often been seen closer to the halfway line than his goal line. As part of the refreshing series of systems that Pep has deployed I further hope that a pre-requisite for them is that our forwards and midfielders are briefed to be ready to charge down inevitable punts at goal from distance.

Our defensive resources are now thoroughly depleted and we had a full deck available for this game. I agree wholeheartedly with my fellow VMC wordsmith The Pedmachine in that Guardiola should seriously consider bringing in our EDS full backs with our four 30 years plus seniors outside of Bacary Sagna appearing effectively shot or in regression. It might yet prove to be the case that Pep has already seen that our fulls are our achilles heel and the type of defensive deployment we saw against Everton will be regularly repeated unless he bloods the kids further.

Pep remarked in the run up to the defeat that the Nou Camp is the ultimate stage upon which to guage a player`s capabilities. Well if he didn`t already he will now know for sure what does or doesn`t make some of his players tick. Or tock, as a handful of them at the back are threatening to retire early.

The captaincy is being increasingly debated. Vincent Kompany boarded the jet at Ringway but any hopes of this leader of men reclaiming the armband were dashed as he saw no part in the proceedings. How we miss his organisation and discipline. On field communication has improved this season but the armband is still being passed around and this team needs stabilising. Fingers and everything crossed that Vinny is coming back for good because that defence right now is crying out for him.

A final word for Leo Messi. He hardly got out of 2nd gear last night but what a joy he is to watch. There’s talk of a £200 million transfer release clause imminent in his contract. He’s worth twice that if Carlton Pogba is worth the fee The Stretfords paid.

Southampton next. We must get Barca out of our system rapidly.

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