Date: 20th March 2015 at 4:08pm
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While the Pedmachine and his dear lady were hunting winter sunshine amidst the homeland of David Silva, with limited success, the Blues were seeking to rescue and resuscitate their season with no success.

It was probably not expected, certainly not in the Canary Islands, that City would come up good at the Camp Nou, but who on earth expected the meek surrender at the home of basement boys Burnley? Yes, City did not deal with their aerial threat at the Etihad over Christmas, a points loss that could have had a more interesting effect on the outcome of the title race, but they had been convincingly negated at Turf Moor by Liverpool, much to Sue’s delight.

Once again City failed to collect what at this level should be easy points and now not only is the title a fading memory but there is the real danger that over this weekend the Stretfords could complete their catch-up if they can win at Anfield and City do not deliver at home against West Brom.

Against Burnley City fielded probably their strongest team but once again the tactics were not correct. Manuel Pellegrini persists with the outdated 4-4-2 formation which really struggles to work in the Barclays Premier League unless you hit the other team with pace and precision. City do neither of these playing that system, hence they can knock on the door all night, but with ten men between the ball carrier and the opposition’s goal, it just isn’t happening.

Absolutely nothing happened up front, although after the break maybe Silva and Aguero should have opened the scoring without conviction.

Once the ball got to the other end a poor free kick was even more poorly headed away by Kalamity Kompany and an unmarked and unfancied Boyd struck a sweet volley into Joe Hart’s net. After that, City more or less settled for a defeat. These players are paid a fortune to wear the sky blue shirt and the fayre they’re serving up right now seems destined to see them playing for a new manager once this season is over.

Moving on to the Barcelona match, like most people, the Pedmachine was not expecting great things and he wasn’t disappointed, at least in that respect. The record books will say that City lost 0-1 at the home of the Catalan giants, but does the scoreline tell the story? This match was a coup only for Joe Hart who turned in one of the best performances seen by an English goalkeeper in Europe’s elite competition.

City started with a 4-4-1-1 formation which was really destined to be 4-5-1 with Silva effectively the link to Aguero playing one-out up front. I would not have let Nasri anywhere near this match because width and pace was needed, which Nasri shares with an articulated lorry. I was also a little unsure about the full back selection with Sagna time and again coming in narrow leaving the entire flank open for Neymar and Alba. The warning shot was fired early on when Neymar hit the inside of the post.

Clearly it was Messi who was to mastermind the project – don’t we wish he would mastermind that at the Etihad?

On the half hour he once again took out his carving knife to greet the City defence and with the panache of a matador, opened the door for Rakitic to fire his team into the lead. It looked for all the world that this would be a case of City holding back the flood as the hosts got the ubiquitous free run at City’s back four who for the rest of the match managed to remain resolute, with even Kompany getting something together following his recent string of criticisable performances.

It was probably a bit of a “well done” to City that they managed to retain a 0-1 scoreline which would eliminate them from midweek football for this season at least. England now has nobody in the latter stages of any of the UEFA competitions which will no doubt please Michel Platini as he plots the next stage of his project to ensure that this becomes a regular occurrence or gives him a chance to reduce the Premier League’s participation in this competition.

UEFA at least has its three favourites all nicely in a line for the semi-finals although it will be disappointed that the hot-ballers rolled out a Madrid derby at the quarter final stage.

So what is in store for City? For sure they simply cannot let second place slip or let the Stretfords get any kind of a sniff. It was astonishing that they won the title with Ferguson’s last team. It would be even more unacceptable if the team over which The Flat Iron presides finished above City in the league.

Pellegrini will find himself in for the Abu Dhabi high jump if City flake off in the latter stages of the title challenge. He must condition them to believe that they can win all of their remaining matches and provide line-ups and systems to make that happen. This might include leaving off form Dzeko and new boy Bony benched as they match other teams in midfield and leave Aguero as the loose cannon up front. The side must for me include Navas to try to stretch out the back tens and the ball into Aguero needs to be quick and incisive and once it gets to him, decisive. If anything, this season has been more disappointing than Mancini’s final effort. At least then City got to a cup final, albeit one the fans would rather forget, if they haven’t already. This season has seen City toss away two cup competitions and never really take the Champions League seriously.

It has seen them appear to think that teams at the bottom are cannon fodder, only for City themselves to come up short time and again playing against them. It has seen City surrender points that should have been harvested, points that would have yielded the Barclays Premier League title once more.

It is now seeing us linked with an assortment of managers. Guardiola is really in waiting to go to Stretford and Simeone probably wants to see if he can achieve any more at Atletico. But Rafa Benitez? Is City really a charity location for a man who can point to having success in the Champions League, but probably only want to get back to the North West because his family still lives on the Wirral? I don’t see any progress if City progress that one.

Did the Pedmachine see somewhere that Sterling was a target at £50million? Explain to me what he has that Navas does not…oh yes, he’s English. If City are able to spend £50million I want to see a much better footballer than Sterling. He won’t improve the team any more than Sinclair or Rodwell.

This weekend City need to dispose of the Baggies quickly. They will come to play 4-2-3-1 with Berahino providing the pace to get in behind our beleaguered back four and with Yaya and Milner injured, he will no doubt get a free run past the Fernandos, while Nasri scratches his behind and Silva gets stranded upfield. This match takes on a more complex complexion as it could see the rot start leaving City struggling to claim the Champions League place that they appear to have taken for granted. Worse still, as I’ve already said we could end the weekend with Stretford ahead of us.

So we also need to rely upon Brendan Rodgers to mastermind the disposal of the Stretfords. Their recent record at Anfield is impressive, but it will never be an easy ride against the mules of just-outside-Manchester. At least if Liverpool can beat them it may be smiles all round from Sue.

 
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