NUFC may be resigned to another pot-less season but as the panto season ends, SJP visitors Manchester City still have four trophies to play for and unbeaten in fourteen games in all competitions, they are starting to look like a team that means business.
Like a Jack who is nearing the top of a beanstalk, The Mag looks at Manchester City and asks – “Has the Giant Awoken?”
Who Manages Them:
Manuel Pellegrini, not exactly a giant, more like Lurch. It is often the case that a manager encourages his team to play in a style which is nothing like their own playing style or personality, look at Glen Hoddle, a Rolls Royce of a footballer, a Ford Sierra of a manager.
Manuel Pellegrini was a solid club defender with a serious, almost mournful appearance, but as a manager is dedicated to creativity, daring and attacking verve.
He did a great job at Villarreal, taking a team akin to Port Vale to within a whisker of a Champions League final.
He did a great job at Real Madrid, dropping only 18 points all season and handling a season in charge of Real Madrid with integrity means he won’t fear the heat of the Mancunian Soup Kitchen.
He did a great job at Malaga (ironically dubbed the Manchester City of Spain because it was a ‘project’ built on sand), losing in the quarter finals of the 2013 Champions League to two stoppage time goals in Dortmund.
Yes he has done a great job everywhere he has been but without winning much, just the 2004 Intertoto Cup sits on his mantelpiece and he won’t be at City long if Cinderella never gets to the Ball. He’ll only be a giant once he wins something.
Who Have They Signed:
Jesus Navas, not exactly a giant, more of a Goblin.
Who Have We Seen Before:
James Milner, not exactly a giant, more of a Hobbit.
Milner played in Toon during a 4 year career after a £3.6million transfer as a raw teenager from Leeds. He matured slowly, always a hard worker and fully committed to the team, no mean feat at SJP, the end product was largely missing from his game.
That lack of genuine class continued after his £12million move to Villa and a surprising £28million move to Manchester given his overall talent. A player who completely divides opinion, some point to his total commitment and selfless hard work for him being the first name on the team sheet, others point to his lack of pace, quality and goals as reasons to be bemused by his continued appearance on all the world’s top footballing stages.
For me, his 44 caps for England can tell either of two stories, it may point to a consistency that all managers regard as invaluable in any top-level team, or it may be the main reason why England have been so rubbish for the last few years.
A Special Mention For:
Manchester City, not exactly a giant, more of a laundry.
City owner Sheikh Mansour is deputy prime minister of the UAE and a member of the ruling family of Abu Dhabi. Human Rights Watch recently criticised the UAE and Abu Dhabi for the “systematic practice” of torture: “In this situation, a Premier League club is being used as a branding vehicle to promote and effectively launder the reputation of a country perpetrating serial human rights abuses. That should be of concern to football supporters as well as human rights organisations,” said some over-opinionated busy-body.
Manchester City ruining football? – So there you have it, Manchester City not just ruining football but ruining the world. In the interests of fairness, The Mag should point out that Mansour’s purchase of the club was a “purely private investment” according to a City spokesman, who had a “purely decorative” pair of electrodes attached to his bollocks.
How Are They Doing This Season:
Great at home, until recently City were not so good away but are now unbeaten in 14. Pellegrini’s favoured 4-2-2-2 formation is now coming to the fore, two strikers up top means they score a lot of goals, the two ‘interiors’ play behind the main strikers and can drift out wide if required and with two holding midfielders in front of the back four it is easy to see why City have lots of possession.
The majority of the width comes from the rampaging fullbacks and this is one of the reasons why they concede so many goals away from home, City have conceded in every away league game since a 0-0 draw with Stoke in mid-September.
Another reason is Yaya Toure, normally brilliant against us but often lazy and flighty when he’s not interested, personifying City’s early season form, fantastic sometimes, rubbish sometimes. Flaky Joe ‘Head and Shoulders’ Hart also needs to find his form if City are going to win the trophies the money and talent warrants. The celebrity quiff hasn’t yet fully recovered from early season dandruff and losing his place to 6 foot 8 Romanian back-up Costel Pantilimon, who really is a giant.
Are We going To Win:
Probably not but all the same we’re not scared of anything here, we only live 15 miles from Mordor and its rabble of cave trolls so we’re not scared of giants.
We may have Shrek as an owner and Gollum as a Director of Football but our focus today will be on Alan Pardew, for whom victories over Chelsea, Spurs and Manyoo seem a long way away now. If he is more Master Yoda he will play a team full of attacking intent which can over-run Toure and Fernandinho and uses the space behind Kolarov and Zabaletta, more JahJah Binks means keeping his fingers crossed that City have an off day as his team concede possession and keep 10 men behind the ball.
Sing the lads to victory today, if the giant has awoken; let’s send it back to bed.
January’s issue will be on sale from our numerous sellers outside St.James’ Park before the Manchester City match today and THE MAG is now available in all Tyneside newsagents.