West Ham 0 City 0

I was really nervous watching this one on Saturday teatime. They came out of the blocks like a house on fire, scored a decent goal that was chalked off for a dubious offside and it was a while before we could settle down and start passing the ball around. Once we did, we started to get on top without really fashioning any clear cut scoring opps, aside from Mario’s up and over the bar from 2 yards.

On the subject of Super Mario, I thought he was having a decent game but was hooked halfway through the 2nd half whereas Dzeko should have been the one making way as he was having a shocker. His touch was awry and his passing was pretty poor too, every time we give the lad a chance to show he’s far more worthy of just being a super-sub then he just goes and blows it. Ah well, back to the bench for you young Edin and zip it.

2nd half we were well on top but there was too much tiki without the taki and we carried little threat. Nobody seemed to want to take the chance to actually have a bloody shot at goal. Still, it’s a tough place to go at times and we came away with a useful point from a game we could have lost. Good performances from the defence, in particular Nastasic and Clichy, Nasri and Tevev worked hard and kept the ball well but Ya Ya looked a bit out of sorts, he doesn’t look fit to me.

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Craig Levein: results cost him Scotland job – Kevin Gallacher

No shit! Really? Thanks for that expert insight Kevin, thank goodness there are the ex-pro’s out there able to enlighten us thickos as to why certain things in football happen. I, for example, would never have realised that winning 3 competitive matches in 3 years (including 2 victories over duffers like Leichenstein) might lead a manager to lose his job but now I see how it works…..if you show that you’re basically a crap manager then you run the risk of getting sacked…ahhhh, it all makes sense now.

City 1 Swansea 0

Ouch. Another major league struggle this for the faltering blues who keep having to dig deep to dredge out results. Swansea played well, they stifled us in midfield in the first half, broke with menace and we couldn’t have argued had they gone in at half time a goal up. We were laborious in our build up play and are becoming serial side passers. To me, Nastasic is beginning to look like Savic Mk 2. We paid a lot of dosh for this guy, he’s only 19 and is relatively unproven and perhaps we should have paid a bit more to get a bit more experience.

Second half we improved and began to show a bit of urgency which culminated in a fine but slightly unusual strike from Tevez which somehow found its way into the bottom corner, confounding their keeper to the extent that he was twisting and turning and caused himself an injury in the process. After that I thought we should have pushed on and won it more comfortably but the 5 minute delay whist their keeper was removed from the pitch seemed to stop us dead in our tracks again and any momentum built up, was lost.

This was a really odd match with a flat atmosphere, played in the dark as the onset of winter approaches and which had its second half momentum rudely interrupted by several nasty looking injuries, not the usual types caused by scything challenges but self inflicted ones. Swansea, for all their neat passing and possession lack a killer touch up front which was lucky for us. “The stuff of champions” they cried after on the Bluemoon forums but some may interpret City’s inability to play with any particular degree of flair as symptomatic of more worrying matters. We can’t keep on scraping wins with last minute winners or riding our luck in this manner and seriously need to pick up the pace, quite literally, sooner, rather than later.

Ajax 3 City 1

Ouch. Another CL evening and another disappointing performance and result. Where was the power and pace last night? There were warning signs early on last night as we seemed to surrender midfield  and found it hard to string more than a couple of passes together, our ball retention in Europe is sorely lacking. Each of the goals we conceded was avoidable.

The first, we had numerous chances in the build up to hoof the ball away and use up the seconds before half time but the last culprit was Nasri, gifting the ball in midfield and then Barry and Milner failed to track back. The second was poor marking at a corner and even then Clichy was caught in no mans land, had he taken a couple of steps back he’d have been on the goal line and could have cleared it easily but instead he just chose to stand there, doing nothing.

Goal number 3 was down to Barry, who had an overal lamentable performance, gifting the ball away, not for the first time in Europe. Mancini must realise by now that Barry is too slow and too cumbersome, too predictable at this level. Most others can see it…

Poor Edin up front, every time he gets the chance to start and show that he deserves more than the  super sub tag he turns in a performance that suggests he is in fact best suited to the super sub tag. I think we are fielding teams in Europe, obviously based around our squad, who are big and powerful but a tad slow and cumbersome and against teams like Ajax and Dortmund (and Napoli, last season), who are quick, nimble and technically very proficient, we struggle big time. Our strength and size are suited to doing well at home, which we do, but not ideal for Europe.

Let’s not beat about the bush here, Ajax were good but not a great side and after scoring first and quietening their home support, we should have gone on and killed them off instead of sitting back and thinking we could hold them off.  Our ball retention, when we are pressed, is suspect.

And another thing. Ajax were very vocal last night about our “oil money” with numerous chants and banners around the ground chastising us for having the money and having bought the ability to compete in the Champions League. Fair enough but Ajax shouldn’t forget that they are big boys in Holland themselves and have for a good long time enjoyed superior financial clout over most other Dutch clubs, with the exception of Philips backed PSV. Therefore they are being two faced themselves, they’re saying it’s okay to enjoy the benefits of having more cash than your rivals at home but not, for some reason, in Europe.

WBA 1 City 2

Glory Glory Edin Dzeko…….ah yes, another late show from the Blues to snatch victory from the plucky Baggies after a right royal ding dong battle. That twerp Curbishley, on Match Choice on Sky, claimed that Albion deserved a draw despite having a man extra for over an hour, less possession than City, less shots at goal than City, less corners than City…you get the picture. And they had the benefit of going in front with a somewhat fortunate break of the ball after their sub guy scuffed a shot into Long’s path.

Still, City showed their battling qualities again away from home and as some were saying in the media  afterwards, albeit in a predictably cliched fashion, ’tis the stuff of Champions. All credit to Albion’s manager after the match, praising City right away. This was a tough match for us and a bad time to play them what with them sitting in 5th before the match started and looking for a 5th successive home win.

Downsides were Kompany leaving Milner high and dry for the sending off, Mario virtually begging the ref to send him off near the end of the first half and an extremely nervy last couple of minutes after going in front.

City 3 Sunderland 0

What are we to make of this performance and result, bearing in mind how lacklustre Sunderland were and how easily they surrendered their previously unbeaten league record? I suppose you can only beat what is put in front of you and if you use mantra then we beat them pretty soundly.

Mancini made a substantial number of changes from Wednesday night, 7 in all and I was saying to my fellow City chum before the match that it was a real chance for the likes of Kolarov, Milner, Mario and Micah to stake a claim for a regular place bearing in mind how disappointing some of our recent performances have been of late. Only one failed to seize the chance, was subbed within an hour and then had the further embarrassment of seeing his replacement score within a couple of minutes.

I don’t know what it is with Balotelli and Dzeko. They both look like game changers when they come off the bench and have the useful knack of scoring too but then, when a chance presents itself of a starting run in the first team, neither does much to make you think we can’t afford to leave them out next week. Mario has so much going for himself. At the home games that I went to last season with my son, he played in every one and indeed started in three of them. When you see him in the flesh he’s big and powerful and quick and makes a lot of good runs off the ball…when he can be bothered. He has more talent than Edin but does not work as hard as him, most of the time. You look at Mario and think, there is a guy blessed with all the attributes and talents you could wish for in a top class player but he can’t seem to use them all constructively for any sustained period of time. He seems to be perfectly happy to get the ball, move forward, beat a guy and then look for the foul from the next player who comes near him.

Anyway, the forums after the match were awash with good vibes. Many seeing the team and performance as vindication of a return to last seasons formation and personnel. There are a lot of Gareth Barry and Milner fans out there and even the much maligned Kolarov received much praise.

City 1 Dortmund 1 Champions league

There was only one team last night looking worthy of the title “champions” and it certainly wasn’t us. Boy, after an exciting first half that was possibly just about even stevens, the German champs upped their game after the break and took us apart. How we came away with a 1-1 draw, I don’t know, actually I do know, it was purely down to the excellence of Joe Hart in the City goal and their wastefulness in front of goal.

After last years disappointment in the Champions League, this was not what we wanted…another slow start which has left us with an uphill struggle to get out of this difficult group. In all honesty, you look at some of the other groups out there and wonder how they can put the champions of Spain, Germany, England and Holland all in the same group.

Pass marks again to Joe Hart, Pab Zab, Aguero and I thought Garcia was doing well until he limped off. After he left our midfield went to pieces and they started swamping us. Vincent Kompany seems to have morphed into an average player in the last couple of months, I wish he’d stop lunging into tackles that he has no chance of winning, he commits himself too early and at this level they just piddle all over you for that type of error. Ya Ya had one of his poorer nights but didn’t really look fit and when he doesn’t play we struggle. As for Nasri, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt again and say that he was again played out of position…he’s not a left winger Roberto….Must say I was surprised that Tevez didn’t start or come on later on, he might have added that buzz bomb/sparkle/industry we were desperately looking for in the 2nd half. Much as I like big Edin, I’m still not entirely convinced and he didn’t get much chance to make an impact last night, he didn’t make things happen either mind you, something that possibly Balotelli or Tevez are much more capable of doing.

Still, all is not lost and it’s still a steep learning curve for the club although the fear exists that it is further continuing evidence of Mancini’s lack of tactical awareness at this higher level.