Tuesday, March 27, 2007

In Defence Of Corradi ...Somebody Has to !

Poor old Bernardo has copped loads of flak in the media all season, but especially in the last few days. He seems to have taken over from Joey as public enemy number one, but as nobody else has stuck up for him, I thought I'd take on the challenge.

Corradi himself has also gone public with criticism of his manager, Stuart Pearce and clearly is not enjoying life at Eastlands.

There is normally a swift parting of the ways when a player publicly slags his manager off, so it is certain that Corradi's time in the blue of City will not last much longer.

City's lack of fire power this season has been a frequent source of ridicule from the rest of the football world and rightly so. It's embarrassing that with an array of international strikers in our squad, we have so far only managed a pathetic 22 league goals in 29 matches.

But, is it fair that Corradi seems to be taking the bulk of the blame for City's desperate form in front of goal; I think Bernardo is getting a rough deal here, as the situation is not that black and white.

True, Corradi has been disappointing in terms of goal scored, but whenever I've seen him play, he's always given 100% which is more than Samaras, for example. Corradi's failure has been more to do with lack of technique and application rather than just coasting around or hiding on the pitch like some sort of Greek tragedy (geddit ?).

Furthermore, any striker is only as good as the quality of supply he gets from the midfield. This has been a real problem for City in the last few seasons and with a complete lack of decent wingers to fire in crosses to the strikers, it's no wonder that Corradi ( & Samaras for that matter) have looked completely inept in front of goal. For Christ's sake, we have the tallest strike partnership in the Premiership and we can't cross a decent ball into them !!

Corradi may have stood a better chance is he'd have been picked in his proper postion as a central striker ( not drifting out to the right and left hunting for the ball) and if Pearce had picked a team and formation that played to his obvious physical strengths; ditto for Samaras, but I'm less forgiving in his case because unlike Corradi, Samaras just hasn't looked interested all season.

So, we're now left with an almost certain parting of the ways as Corradi looks to head home to Italy and who can blame him. This also means City and more specifically Pearce will kiss goodbye to another £2 million with the £6m spend of Samaras looking like it will also disappear into the sunset without any proper return unless something dramatically changes.

It makes me really nervous when I read that Pearce is looking for investment. Sure, more money would be great, but City haven't bought a really decent outfield player that has worked out since the days of Rosler, Kinkladze or Bernarbia. There are probably others that I can't recall off the top of my head, but the point is, it was a long time ago and my confidence in the current management making shrewd transfer investments is not high.

So, it will soon be arrivederci Bernardo ! In the end you tried hard but just weren't good enough, but I think you were also also a victim of the current management culture within the club and that wasn't entirely your fault.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

England Suffer From A Touch Of The Blues

I don't normally cover any of the England internationals, but yesterday's debacle in Tel Aviv was another in a series of woeful performances of Man City proportions.

As the game unfolded, it was just like being at Eastlands watching a bunch of hopeless overpaid egos coasting around the pitch, each waiting for somebody else to take some responsibility and get a grip of the game.

I know it was only a crucial Euro qualifier ( in Israel ?? ), so I guess it was too much to expect the cream of the current England players to motivate themselves and actually win when it matters.

The parallels with City were frighteningly stark. It was dull, workmanlike, devoid of imagination or inspiration and ultimately completely frustrating. Despite a lot of possession England could have played until Yom Kippur ( which I believe is 22nd September this year) and still not have troubled the score sheet. One goal in the last five games is simply not good enough; Andorra must be fancying their chances on Wednesday night !

Like many, I thought that McClaren's appointment was disastrous and I remember doing an article on another board last year predicting that England would become the new Middlesbrough. Sadly, I have been proved right, but I take no pleasure from that at all.

Even though McClaren is clearly the wrong man for the job, I do feel a bit of sympathy for the man after last night, but not too much as I can't feel too sorry for anyone who would even think of playing Phil Neville.

Even without any sort of coaching or instruction, the players who took the pitch yesterday should have been able to think for themselves and adapt to the pace, shape and tempo of the game; they are highly paid professional footballers after all. Like the rest of us and despite his public post match comments, McClaren must have privately been thinking "w.t.f" was that ??

It's time for some tough decisions and the manager needs to be brave enough to ditch some of the big names who regularly under-perform and disappoint and give a chance to other players who are hungrier and want that England shirt more.

Hopefully, our own manager will have taken note and learnt from the universal criticism of the England performance, except most notably from McClaren who bizarrely saw it as "almost a complete performance"; a complete shambles would be a much more accurate description.

After this weekend's flop in Israel, the day of atonement can surely not be far off.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Back Up And Running

Just in case you're wondering about the headline, I'm not referring to City's faltering season, even after an unexpected win against 'Boro at the weekend, but instead to my lack of recent articles.

The last week has been a bit of a mare as I swapped over to a new PC running Vista, and boy what a mistake that was. To cut a long story short, I've chucked Vista away because it's sh1te and caused all sorts of compatibility problems and gone back to good old Windows XP - I'm telling you this so you can learn from my misfortune ....... you've been warned !

With all the stress of the last week, I've sort of glossed over City's current plight, although winning away at 'Boro is something we don't do that often; in fact it was nearly 30 years since we last managed an away victory against the Smokies at their former Ayresome Park ground and what a dump that was; the Riverside though is much, much better.

Apart from beating 'Boro, there is one other thing that sticks in my mind from the Chelsea game last week. It wasn't so much the fact that we lost; ironically, we actually dominated large chunks of the match without ever looking like troubling the score sheet, but it was heartening to see a much livelier and more professional performance.

For me though, the match was tarnished once again by a few individual Chelsea "galacticos". As expected, Drogba was falling down at every opportunity as if his arse was magnetically attracted to the turf - why? He's a quality striker in probably the form of his career and just doesn't need to plunge to those depths (in every sense !), but he's not alone and it seems to be very much a club thing.

More distasteful though was the attitude of Lampard though. I can only describe his performance as surly, the way he moodily dragged himself around the pitch , irritating the home crowd by cynical time wasting. He certainly got a lot of stick from the people around me as he ambled over to take the corners and it was totally deserved.

Something seems to have happened to Frank, and I suspect it's all wages and new contract related - poor lad, I don't know how he manages on his current salary! Whereas I would never condone fans running on the pitch to confront players, after watching him at Eastlands, I can certainly understand how passions could be inflamed. The whole thing left me with a bitter taste.

Anyway, it's onwards and upwards and definitely in a northerly direction to the Toon for the next game. St James' Park is never an easy place to go and get a result and you can bet that French Tony will be looking to prove a point to Pearce. However, after the Chelsea and 'Boro performances I wouldn't be too surprised if we managed to get something up there.

On the other hand I also wouldn't be surprised if we got absolutely hammered, but that's just City for you.

H'way the lads !!!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Should He Have Dunne It ?

It seems that Richard Dunne's criticism of some of City's foreign contingent has touched a few raw nerves within the dressing room and the waves it has caused are still rippling away through the club.

Former skipper, Distin seems to have taken particular exception to Dunny's comments saying that the French and the Italian contingent have "taken it personally ! ".

Well Sylvain, they bloody well should take it personally, as should the American and African contingent; something you would find easier to understand better if you sat in the stands like we do and watch the same set of players either going through the motions or looking totally out of their depth.

What is it about these high-earning prima donnas who seem to live in their own cocooned world that they think they are above criticism or reproach? They need to hear it like it is and I'm only surprised Dunny has managed to hold on so long before venting a bit of steam. If the rest of us performed like they do in our respective jobs, we'd get a rocket up our arses!

Dunny is the club skipper and carries out his responsibilities with obvious pride. Being City captain is clearly a big honour for him and by speaking out like he did, he was only reflecting what fans have been complaining about all season. Make no mistake, us natives are extremely restless at the moment.

Dunny alone stands out like a beacon in the gloom of Eastlands and seeing him as fired up as he was on Wednesday against Chelsea, he did what he has done all season and lead by example. It was a hi-octane performance from a leader giving it 110%.

I'm sure Dunny will now be gagged by the Club and slapped on the wrist, but hopefully his controversial but accurate explaination of City's dire form will have done its job. Sure we lost again on Wednesday, but it was a gallant defeat rather than abject surrender. It remains to be seen whether the white flag goes up at the Riverside tomorrow and "normal service" is resumed or whether they have finally got the message.

To the sensitive souls in the City changing room - sorry guys but the truth hurts. If you don't like it, then do something about it one way or another!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Win, Lose or Draw - City Need to Perform

It's funny how football has a nasty habit of kicking you when you're down.

Just when City need an easy game and confidence boosting win to put the disappointment of the Cup exit (and the disappointment of the whole season to be honest), we're up against the mighty Chelsea machine at Eastlands tomorrow night.

Now there's been a lot of speculation of how many games Pearce has left before he gets the bullet, but most football pundits reckon it'll be a case of "G.B.E" - Gone By Easter.

We're clearly going through desperate times at the moment, with performances that wouldn't even be acceptable in Division 1 let alone the top flight, but before the knives get sharpened for tomorrow night, I think we could all do with a reality check about Chelsea game.

At the start of the season when you saw the fixture list, you'd have probably put this game down as an away win with only the most optimistic and probably foolhardy expecting any other result.

I'm expecting us to lose the game, but what I and all the fans want to see from our players is a performance. The players need to earn back some respect from the fans by making sure they turn up focused and motivated. If we've battled hard and fought for everything and still lose to the Champions then I don't really think most fans will have a problem and accept we've lost to a better team.

If we lose timidly with the players having just not turned up again, like so many times this season, then the level of fan disenchantment, which is already nearly off the scale will go up another notch or three.

We shouldn't be surprised if we lose tomorrow, but the performance is everything. I think Pearce understands that, but I'm not so sure about some of the players. We'll find out tomorrow.

I was going to say, wouldn't it just be typical of City to beat Chelsea, but with the way things are at the moment, you wouldn't want to put too much money on it.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Not Fit To Wear The Shirt ?

Well what can you say about yesterday?

It was obvious during and after the game that passions were running high. The 7000 or so City faithful who had made the relatively short trip up to Blackburn clearly didn't like what they were seeing; neither did the rest of us watching it from behind our sofas such was its scary qualities.

It was always going to be a tough game on paper; Rovers had swept us aside with relative ease twice already this season, so I wasn't really that hopeful that we'd get a result - on recent performances why should we ?

Having said that, to go a whole game in an FA Cup Quarter Final without managing a single shot on target is indefensible. If the motivation of reaching a Cup final isn't enough to shake the team out of their malaise, I don't know what is. The chance of playing at the first new Wembley final should have been an added incentive, but our performance didn't reflect this at all.

The players and management came in for a lot of abuse from the fans with accusations of not being worthy of the shirt they wear, with what at times seems complete contempt from some individuals.

Whereas I've lost confidence in Pearce as a manager and I can understand the fan disappointment, I didn't like to see the personal abuse hurled at Pearce in particular, as it's the players and the Board who bear the bulk of the responsibility.

His failings and mistakes as a manager are clear to see, but the bloke is trying his best and must be just as frustrated as the rest of us, although it doesn't help when he doesn't seem to learn any lessons from his bad signings, duff formations and naive tactics. However, he doesn't deserve the personal abuse that we saw yesterday. He does however need to take responsibility though, as do the non-performing players and do what's right for the club.

Sadly for Psycho, his days at Eastlands are now numbered, with the fatal vote of confidence from the Board surely just around the corner. It is they, the Board, who need to take the responsibility and take decisive action now. Pearce is too proud a man to walk away, so the Board need to do what they are there for and take the tough decisions; trouble is, most of us have less confidence in the Board than we do with the management staff.

Pearce is now odds-on favourite to be the next premiership manager casualty and just an 8/1 shot to be gone by the weekend and it's not a foregone conclusion that City will be caught by Charlton before the end of the season.

There's no doubt City are in deep trouble and anything but complete a shake-up right through the club will be a complete waste of time. Let's hope the much speculated takeover happens sooner rather than later, but who in their right mind would want to buy the club at the moment?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

What's In A Name ?

There's been so much doom and gloom recently that for my own sanity, I needed to find a bit of light relief and I think I may have come up with something.

Writing my previous article on the appointment of our new reserve team coach, and don't get me wrong I really do wish him all the best, it suddenly dawned on me that many of City's recent appointments to the back-room staff have an inanimate object theme.

On the way out we have Tim Flowers and Frankie Bunn, who have been replaced by Eric Steele and Kenny Jackett respectively.

I guess a precedent had been set by the first team whose "inanimate" managers include Tony Book and Alan Ball. In fact City's first ever manager was called Lawrence Furniss ( a bit tenuous I know !).

I'm wondering now whether having the same name as everyday objects is a pre-requisite for the job and what possibilities that opens up for future appointments? No doubt I'll get a few decent suggestions.

I'm sure I've missed a few, but I've saved the best for last, as I don't think Arthur Cox will ever be surpassed ;-)

No Jackett Required

A lot of fans have been calling for a shake up of the backroom staff - me included. With the departure of Tim Flowers and Frankie Bunn to Coventry, there was a chance to do something radical to shake the playing staff out of a deep malaise.

It was disappointing, but sadly predictable to say the least that Pearce has seemingly gone for a "safe" option by appointing Kenny Jackett to the reserve and first team set-up, and now the opportunity to do something radical has passed him by.

I don't have anything personal against these guys, but when you look at the pedigree and achievements of Wigley and Jackett it doesn't really set the pulses racing. Was he (Jackett) selected for his outstanding footballing credentials or was it more a case that he was simply available? Similarly, Wigley's record at the top level doesn't really stand up to much close scrutiny; Southampton fans will testify to that.

I remember Jackett from his Watford days and he was a solid enough stopper. He did ok at Swansea in the sense that he managed to stay for about three years, a decent enough achievement for any football manager these days, but City are a Premiership club (well for now anyway), and should have European aspirations.

After the debacle of Saturday against Wigan, I fear that with the new backroom set-up we're in for more of the same dour, negative and mainly clueless performances. What City need are some big, strong and uncompromising personalties to whip the team into shape and reel in all the big egos and delusions of grandeur that have infested our club over the years.

Put it this way, if I were an ambitious current City player or someone looking for their next footballing career move and I was faced with a coaching staff of Jackett and Wigley, would I really fancy that? I think not !

We've got one of our biggest games for a while on Sunday when we take on Blackburn in the Cup. Hopefully we'll win, but if we do, that mustn't paper over the widening cracks in our club, because we are in big trouble, and on recent evidence we do not appear to have the management team capable of really turning it around and taking City forwards and upwards.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Two Things I Regret From The Weekend

Well, having had a while to reflect on the weekend, there are two things that given another chance I would probably do differently:

Number 1: Bothering to turn up for the Wigan match.
I don't think I can add that much to the volumes of criticism that's already been expressed by the papers, websites and City fans, but by the interval I was really beginning to lose the will to live.

It just so happened that for this game we took my 12 year old lad's school and junior football team-mate who is a Wiganer. Like a lot of kids, he was able to make the most cutting of observations and ask the simplest of questions that us adults struggle to answer, including:

  • Why don't City ever pass the ball forwards ?
  • How come the City players look like they don't know what they're doing ?
Two great questions that perhaps should be directed at the City management and playing staff !

Number 2: Missing the 1st MCFC Supporters Trust meeting.
Sadly parental duties at junior football meant I couldn't make it in time. Based on Saturday's ( and most previous games of the season ) performance, if ever there was a time for fans to be able to exert some sort of influence over the club it is now.

I've not seen any updates and outcomes from yesterday's meeting, but let's hope the new supporters trust develops into an organisation that can make a difference.

At the moment it's hard to see where the next goal, let alone win is coming from, but it would just be typical of City if we managed to scrape past Blackburn on Sunday and get to the semi-final of the Cup and then beat Chelsea in our next home league game on the following Wednesday...... or maybe we'll just get totally stuffed in both games.

Thank goodness for Watford, West Ham and Charlton otherwise it really would be brown-trouser time!