Writer: Johnny Baguette
Date:Sunday August 17 2008
No two ways about it, Mark Hughes and his backroom team face a massive task if City are to attain and sustain the level of performance required to make a serious challenge in the Premier League this season.
A painful wall of stark facts face Bluesy as he aims to stand up to what could well be a long, hard season. Make no mistake. The responsibility for the situation we find ourselves in lies within the Manchester City hierarchy.
City have now lost 4 Premier League games in a row, shipping 16 goals in the process.
Hughes inherited a small enough squad as it is, and today he was forced to field 17 players of which 13 were no older than 22. Talk about men and boys.
Sure, we can take a lot of pride in the knowledge that 8 of those lads are MCFC Academy graduates, but there's precious comfort on hand as we realise the squad is dangerously close to the bare bones.
Still the worrying facts pile up. Benjani, Darius Vassell and now tragically, the exciting young Valeri Bojinov are all long term casualties. The side's nosedive under Sven-Goran Eriksson coincided with injuries that could not be covered due to lack of strength in depth.
With 2 weeks to go until the transfer window slams shut, the City squad is in a sorry state.
The 26 players that make up the 'senior' squad include the inexplicably still on the pay roll Danny 'Channel 5' Mills, Rolando Bianchi and Nery Castillo. The latter two are already heading for the exit door following the eight deadwood senior pro's already released this summer. For crying out loud, we only have two goalkeepers. One is 20 and the other 21! - And to think that only Hughes' intervention stopped Vedran Corluka and Stephen Ireland from being sold to rival clubs by the Manchester City policy makers.
It's City's hierarchy who ensured we lost sizeable ground this summer on our transfer window rivals by their aimless pursuit of Goofy Ronaldhino, and since Hughes' arrival, only the Brazilian Olympian Jo and Tal Ben Haim have joined the club. It remains to be seen just who the gaffer will be able, or even allowed to bring in against the backdrop of uncertainty that surrounds Eastlands. Revelations that City have taken out bank loans and are searching for investors suggests we are potless. To say experienced recruits are urgently needed would be a seismic understatement. I'd go so far as to suggest that the team needs strengthening in every department.
Many of us are increasingly getting the impression that our fugitive owner has already given up the ghost on City with bigger self preservation fish to fry. His inaction to date and the small down payment deals done since he bought our club, certainly back up that claim. Hughes must feel mugged. You and us both, Sparky.
I ask all Blues reading this tonight to do your best to get behind the lads and keep doing so, bearing in mind the task they face. If this team loses the supporters, there's no telling where we'll end up. Sure, their almost totally naiive inability to defend set pieces cost them big time today but to the team's credit, I believe they gave it as good a go as they could even though a hungry and experienced Aston Villa side demonstrated today that they can expect a nightmare season unless Hughes can pull off something of a coaching miracle. Many of the team depart for international duty this week. Should we suffer more injuries, then we are right up shit creek.
Spare a thought for The Boj tonight who was injecting much needed drive and enthusiam into our close season with his efforts. He's knacked again for another 6 months but he's still got time on his side. Here's to the lad getting a sustained run in the City side before the season is out.
Over to you, Thaksin Shinawatra, super agent advisers, Garry Cook and Paul Aldridge.
Date:Sunday August 17 2008
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