Date: 14th October 2016 at 4:04pm
Written by:

Welcome Back Blues!

Article written by VMC member, Skoorb.

Have you been wandering around in a daze recently? Suffering from feelings of confusion, listlessness and disorientation? Unable to concentrate at work or at home? Overcome at times by an unaccountable feeling of loss knowing that something is missing from your world but you can’t quite figure out what? Have you been struggling to find a meaningful excuse on a Wednesday evening to avoid watching the The Great British Bake Off?

Match Officials

Don`t worry Blues fans, the mystery is solved & we know what has been wrong – these are now recognised symptoms of a malaise which afflicts many football fans on a periodic basis.

You have been suffering from International Breakoidiosis.

Brought on by the gaps in Premier League and Champions League football to enable your club football stars to jet off to exotic locations to find new places to get injured this unfortunately is a long term problem for which there is no known cure. Like a virus it is renowned for returning on a semi-regular basis. For City fans a prescription of watching re-runs of the 1-6 defeat of U*d from Sept 2011 or setting up a permanent loop of Sergio Aguero’s winner against QPR in the title winning season of 2011/12 is recommended and has been known to lighten the mood considerably and often for days.

However the good news is that whilst periodically debilitating it is not fatal and the recovery starts here with the Match Day Thread as we look forward to the weekend`s visit to the Etihad stadium of Everton!

Woken from a lethargy which had enveloped them during the dying days of Roberto Moaner Martinez`s time in charge the Toffees seem to have been invigorated by the arrival of Ronald Koeman. Lured from Southampton he has settled into his new role well and revived their morale to deliver an impressive sequence of results. After an opening day draw against Spurs they won five games on the bounce until they stumbled just before the international break with defeats to Norwich in the League Cup and then Bournemouth in the League. In their last fixture they were leading against Crystal Palace before conceding a late equaliser.

Former team mates at Barcelona, Koeman and Guardiola know each other well and clearly have a mutual respect. Koeman has previously recounted how, under the management of Johan Cruyff, he was set the task of mentoring the young Guardiola after his introduction to the Barcelona first team squad. They were roommates and apart from their playing time on the pitch spent many hours discussing football all of which will add another layer of interest to this weekend’s match.

City’s impressive start to the season came to a shuddering halt in London two weeks ago. Conceding an own goal early on clearly did little to help the City players settle and with Silva and Aguero shackled by Tottenham’s attentive defenders I suspect that even had the mercurial talents of De Bruyne been available, City would have struggled to gain a foothold. Many blues feared that this fixture coming at the end of a 12 day mini-tour of the British Isles might be a game where the unprecedented and media confounding start to the season might suffer its first setback. Other teams will attempt the same high press template and I would not be surprised to see Koeman’s charges to be the first. City’s players will need to get used to this and adapt accordingly.

You can be sure that City’s new coach will have studied the Tottenham game and have been using the break to formulate ways of tutoring his players. It remains early days and Guardiola had himself forecasted that a it would take a defeat to reign in some of the wilder elements of the media from getting carried away with talk of repeating the feat of George Graham’s ‘Invincibles’, the Arsenal side that went unbeaten for the whole of the 2003-04 season. Personally I cannot see that remarkable achievement ever being repeated in today’s football world.

City v Everton LIVE Streams & Global TV Coverage

Guardiola knows full well that his team are a work in progress with weak elements which have to be addressed. Many Blues fans expected the full back situation to have been an area where the club would have made some changes and I suspect that this will happen. But it is well known that you cannot make too many changes to a side all at once without the risk of serious disruption and City’s transfer policy under Guardiola targeting the midfield (Gündogan) and forward (Nolito; Sané; & Gabriel Jesus in January) areas initially. The single addition of John Stones into the defence along with the anticipated return to full and long term fitness (hopefully) of Vincent Kompany aimed at providing stability and continuity during the first season. The goalkeeping change which caused so much angst among the media and some Blues (well done by the way to Joe Hart on his outstanding performance for England in their game against Slovenia) was another factor militating against wholesale defensive upheaval. That Zabaleta, Sagna, Kolarov and Clichy are all reaching the latter ends of their careers is not lost on City’s coach and senior management and I expect that these areas will be ones addressed in due course. For the time being I expect to see the gradual blooding of Maffeo and Angelino on the defensive flanks.

Ronald Koeman’s pre-Man City press conference

With Barcelona looming on the horizon for City in the Champions League on Wednesday it remains to be seen whether this will influence Guardiola’s selection. He has headaches over the fitness of Sterling, Agüero and De Bruyne to contend with and will have to juggle the need to get back to Premier League winning ways against the risk of bringing back these key players too soon. Lukaku is in hot form for Everton and withdrew from Belgium`s international matches after collecting a knock but he may return for this fixture. All eyes on the press conferences on Friday.

This weekend should deliver a fascinating juxtaposition of two teams coached by men whose footballing philosophies owe much to the same man at Barcelona. That they both recognise the influence of the Dutch Maestro Johan Cruyff in their footballing education and development is not in doubt and as a result we could be in for an exciting and intriguing game of football this Saturday.

Come On City!!!

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