Well maybe the cat is truly out of the bag now.
There were signs against Swansea, more against Celtic and now City were pretty much played at their own game by Spuds who beat the Blues for the third time in a row at White Hart Lane today.
This match was about who would get out of the traps first. Remember the “B of the Bang” sculpture that once adorned Commonwealth Way? It too fell from grace and that is just about what happened to City today. Spurs hit the front foot from the off and once again City failed to deal with it as in the absence of Kane, Son led their front line superbly with Dele, a player I don`t like in behind as part of the driving force putting the squeeze on City`s play out from the back ploys which left us shuddering as time and again the ball was given back to Tottenham and invited yet another attack on City`s goal.
With De Bruyne absent through injury and Nolito lost to suspension, Stones and Bravo apart this looked very much like a team fielded last season by Pellegrini. The problem today was they played like it. Gone was the fluency, sacrificed at the expense of almost panic measure as Spurs filled in every bit of space on the field making it impossible for Silva to get his game going. Without De Bruyne and Nolito, Fernandinho was effectively given the support role, sort of number 8 and Navas the wider berth. It simply didn`t work. Fernando, who replaced Fernandinho in the holding role still doesn`t look up to it and Navas was simply Navas, all speed with no real end product.
This left Sterling and Aguero to toil away at a robust back four, probably the best in the Barclays Premier League collectively, and they didn`t get a bean.
With Spurs setting off at full pelt it was important that they scored during the opening period. Their own efforts initially came to nothing but when play down their left saw Rose hang one in the air for no one in particular up came Kolarov, not concentrating, to slice it into his own net.
It started quite well for City and had Silva been sharper, Navas one sole contribution to this match, a low cross to the near post, should have seen City go in front. Silva missed the ball completely and the chance disappeared.
It was then time for Spurs to target Kolarov. I wrote a fortnight ago that this season Kolarov looked like a different footballer, looking more commanding and contributing with some precious long cross-field balls to change the angle of the attack. Today he looked like the Kolarov of old?.useless. He did precisely nothing right and was a gift for the right hand side of Spurs attack launched my their midfield lynchpin, Wanyama.
So nine minutes gone and City are trailing to a ridiculous own goal.
It took the Blues around 20 minutes or so to establish anything in this match and then they found Wanyama almost playing like a latter-day De Jong, breaking things up and playing neat passes to the more creative elements of Pochettino`s side. The wide men gave Zabaleta and Kolarov a torrid time and added weight to the fact that Zaba now looks a spent force in a team that Stone excepted, can`t defend for toffee. Otamendi also struggled after getting himself an early caution for a needless go-to-ground foul on the edge of the box.
Going forward City appeared quite toothless. Aguero was afforded no space and Rose took care of Sterling bullying him all afternoon within and without the laws of the game. He does fall over a bit easy though, holding his face at every opportunity in his bids to force the referee into decisions.
Just ahead of half the defence were at it again. Son was becoming a handful and despite the attention of enough City players to deal with it he set up the offside-looking Dele Alli who couldn`t and didn`t miss. End of story really.
In the second half City`s defensive frailties were constantly put to the test and Fernandinho was caught wrong side and his lateral effort was rightly seen as a foul. Spurs only downside of the day saw Lamela and Son clearly arguing as to who would take the spot kick and the delay and some gamesmanship from Bravo saw the City net minder make an excellent save to try to keep any hopes City had alive.
It didn`t happen. Aguero could find nothing, Iheanacho when he came on got one chance and couldn`t make it pay and with that went City`s unbeaten record, reducing their four-point lead down to one.
This was indeed a poor performance by City and it wound the clocks back to last season. Guardiola might still be learning about his players and what they can do. All he needs to do is read the Ped Report!
This was a collective off day with only Stones coming out unscathed in my view. Otamendi, Kolarov and Zabaleta had nightmares which leads me to think that it`s time to promote a left back from the CFA and get Sagna back in at right back. He has been City`s best full back for the last 2 seasons. The new tactics have worked and will work again but there has to be an additional approach as teams get wise to City`s efforts. I don`t understand why he didn`t play Gundogan from the start. Fernando will be an exit-chuter and we needed more pace and movement rather than whatever the leaden-footed Brazilian can give us.
The next shopping spree if there is to be one should see the recruitment of young, hungry full backs who can defend and attack. Rose and Walker showed the way today. I would also dangle a cheque in front of Southampton for Van Dijk. He looks like just what City need alongside Stones.
Now we have the dreaded international breaks followed by another stream of awkward matches in the shape of Everton, Barcelona and the Stretfords. When you are successful it never stops. Let`s hope City get back on the success route sooner rather than later.
With Liverpool once again looking ominous, even though Sue hid in the kitchen when Milner took his penalty despite my claims that he never misses, City can`t afford too many days like this.
Or maybe the answer is to play the MCWFC defence in the Barclays Premier League. They hardly ever concede goals and have just pulled of a well-earned double. Well done ladies!
The Ped Report Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 City
Well maybe the cat is truly out of the bag now.