City Blogger: Trust Our MP
- 02 January 2014 11:10
- Posted by @djwskyblu
In our latest blog entry, David Walker - the man behind the superb Read But Never Red blog - shares his views on the season so far...
Four Premier League losses by early November, a Champions League humbling at home to Bayern Munich and many Manchester City fans still'mourning' the departure of Roberto Mancini... Life was not the proverbial bed of roses for Manuel Pellegrini.
Fuelled by the omnipresent City detractors in the media, with pundits primed to pounce on any opportunity to take a pop at the sky blues, the doom and gloom merchants were having a field day.
City’s Chilean manager could have been forgiven for lashing out at his critics with a barrage of expletives. Of course he didn’t – the man from Santiago conducts himself in a Statesman-like fashion. He needed just one four-letter word: time.
Time to acclimatise to a new country, a different culture, a big challenge, acquaint himself with his players, develop the team’s style of play and all set against a backdrop of grief and personal ‘sacrifice’ – his mother having died in July – and his family living thousands of miles away in South America.
Nicknamed ‘The Engineer,’ not least because of his ability to generate smooth-running teams producing attractive, attacking football, Pellegrini has City well in contention for all domestic honours.
He also has a massive tick in the box as City progress in the ‘Holy Grail’ of the Champions League, with a two-legged dream tie with Barcelona eagerly anticipated in February and March.
Arguably the most glamorous tie in City’s history, the Etihad-Nou Camp double header is one that City are confident – not arrogant – about winning.
It would have been an unthinkable aspiration just a couple of seasons ago.
One magnificent comeback victory in Munich has transformed City’s standing on the continent, with Europe’s footballing elite now extending new found respect and recognition to Manuel’s marauders.
Back here in ‘Blighty’, Edin Dzeko’s winner over Crystal Palace edged City to a new Premier League scoring record at the halfway point of the season, further endorsing Manuel’s mantra of entertaining football.
Compared to City’s title winning campaign of 2011/12, Pellegrini’s team are four points down (a win and a draw) and have conceded five more goals after 19 games.
The statistics reflect a team adapting to new defensive formations, plagued by injuries to key defenders and a goalkeeping hiccup, now addressed and rectified.
It must be a terrifying thought for the rest of the Premier League if City have already experienced the ‘sticky patch’ which afflicts most teams at one stage or another.
Much has been made of City’s imperious home form, but even more so of their much hyped and exaggerated difficulties on the road.
Four Premier League losses is undoubtedly disappointing, but eight away wins in both league and cups is evidence enough that any travel sickness is now well on the way to being cured.
A fully fit Jovetic is as good as buying a new £22m striker-cum-attacking midfielder this month, and will boost a team already on course to break the Premier League goal-scoring record.
Whether Pellegrini plans to strengthen the squad in the January will become self-evident in the coming days and weeks.
The second half of the season brings tough away games at Arsenal, Liverpool, Everton, Manchester United and Tottenham – all of whom have perished at the Etihad – with City racking up 21 goals and conceding just six.
It’ll be tough but City’s players are now more conversant with Pellegrini’s methods, tactics and formations.
Key partnerships such as Yaya Toure and Fernandinho and Aguero and Negredo have been forged and will continue to flourish. Joe Hart is back to his brilliant best and Captain Fantastic Vinnie continues to lead by example, along with his manager.
Pellegrini, rather like the viticultural history of his homeland, carries on improving and maturing with time.
When it comes to New World wine, Chile is very easy on the palate and, when it comes to conquering new horizons, Pellegrini will prove himself to be a vintage above the rest.