Writer: Johnny Baguette
Date:Monday March 16 2009
THE VCZ: TIME TO CHANGE THE STATION ON THE ROAD
It isn't working away from home, is it?
The caution from the first whistle, setting our stall out to not concede and relying on counter attacks for goal scoring opportunities.
Nevermind the abject defeat at Chelsea where we got away incredibly lightly, it hasn't been working all season and it's high time Mark Hughes tuned into a different wavelength.
Earlier in the season we were looking at 'off days' as the cause for the defeats but it's evident now the pattern is well and truly established that our tactics are hopelessly at fault away from home.
It's no good bemoaning tired UEFA Cup legs. When City take the field at Eastlands, invariably a swashbuckling style engulfs the team. We play to strengths one touch passing and moving rapidly, get the ball on the deck and get behind defences.
The turgid efforts away from home are clearly tactically dictated and confusion seems to set in as the side look uncomfortable as to how to proceed. Hopeful high long balls to our generally small strikeforce tell their own story.
Hughes frustratedly bellowed from the touchline at Chelsea 'Come on! More dynamism!' But it's hard to be that dynamic when your side is passing across the backline at a pedestrian pace, taking time with free kicks and goal kicks with very few options available to move forward as the whole team sits so deep. The almost total lack of invention at corners and free kicks beggars belief.
The whole approach to City's away games, particularly in the Premier League needs looking at. As things stand, we play with little or no urgency. We invite sides on to us looking to 'hit them on the counter' as the gaffer puts it. We give the impression we are affording sides far too much respect no matter who they are. Invariably, our midfield becomes overrun and the central defenders work overtime as sides realise we aren't up for it. Consequently, on rare forays forward, the pressure on the side to create increases and limited opportunities have to be put away. The statistics bear this out, such as the distinct lack of corners won away from home.
Above all else, City's travelling support deserve far better for their hard earned money. It's as if the City boss has sacrificed his sides attacking instincts in favour of obtaining away draws with a win being a bonus. Surely it's time to accept that with the options his squad has, these players don't do containment and caution even though we are shipping less goals.
They are at their best when they play with flair and abandon and go for goal. So give us a 442 with width and instructions to shoot on sight when the players get off the coach Hughesy and see where it takes us.
The same stuck record and replayed tune is getting us nowhere fast.
UEFA CAMPAIGN UPDATE - 'ISTANBUL, ISTANBUL, WE ARE COMING!'
THE STORY TO COME
Round of 16
19.03.2009 v Aab Aaalborg (A)
-Draw for the Quarter-finals and Semi-finals: Nyon, 20th March 2009 @ 1300 CET
Quarter-finals: 09 and 16 April 2009
Semi-finals: 30 April and 07 May 2009
Final: Istanbul's Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium on Wednesday 20th May 2009.
WHAT'S IN A WORD? THIS WEEK'S QUOTES
'I just think we looked a bit leggy today. The difference in preparation time told in the end. The fact that we were missing key personnel as well didn't allow us to have that spark or dynamic play we've had in recent weeks.
- Mark Hughes bids to defend City's poor efforts at Stamford Bridge. But he'll know we cannot afford repeat 'tired' league performances during the tough run in to the end of the season.
'The fans call me Superman now. It's brilliant. I just did that stunt with the pants (at home to Sunderland last season) to say to people: 'I may have come through some s**t but look where I am now. The name has caught on so I will do it again at some stage to keep it going. Definitely. I could do it at Old Trafford, that would be quality!'
- Stevie Ireland on top form. Bring on that goal and drop those shorts at the Swamp, Superman!
'Contrary to reports in the article about press claims, neither Giovanni Trapattoni, nor any other member of the senior management team have made any comment about re-contacting Stephen Ireland since their last meeting, other than to say that if he wants to play for his country, it is up to him to declare himself available.'
- The FAI makes clear it's stance regarding press rumours over Stevie Ireland's international career.
'I have no regrets whatsoever. It was all a learning curve and it made me a better player. Now I can just improve again. I was given a chance, I took the chance and I learned a lot and now I'm using the tools.'
-City's UEFA Cup talisman Shaun Wright-Phillips looks back at his time at Chelsea with positivity.
'With Kaka then yes, it's immoral. But where are the boundaries where it is moral or not? Is it with £10m or £100m? It is difficult to say whether it's immoral for £100m but £50m is moral.'
- Good grief. Guus Hiddink goes all put your left foot in right foot out Cockney okey cokey moral immoral confused over how much money is deemed acceptable to be paid out for football players signatures. Outside of Rafa 'Cracking' Benitez, Hiddink joins Taggart and Arsehole Whinger in the top managers condemnation of City's January pursuit of Kaka. Of course, it would be different if they had the biggest wallets...
WE WEREN'T REALLY THERE? THE FINAL SCORE THIS WEEK 10 YEARS AGO
Football League Division One
Layer Road, Colchester 20th March 1999
Colchester 0 (0) - 1 (0) CITY
Scorer: Goater 55
City: Weaver, Crooks, Edghill, Wiekens, Morrison, Vaughan, Brown, Bishop, Taylor, Goater, Cooke (Whitley,78)
Booking: Taylor, Morrison
Attendance: 6, 554
10 Year Match Facts: City took home a crucial win from Essex from what was a history making game. The first ever pay per view televised football match in Britain. The referee? Rob Styles of Hampshire.
@ Energi Nord Arena
UEFA Cup Round of 16, 2nd Leg
Thursday 19th March 2009 @ 2000 GMT
The Citizens Last 6 UEFA Cup games: WDLDWW
AaB Last 6 European games: DWDWWL
Johnny On The Spot?
City's safe passage from this tie should have been effectively sealed by now but the goal blitz just would not come at Eastlands last Thursday. Still, we'd have taken a 2-0 lead before flying to Denmark for a third time in this grueling competition.
City's wretched away form this season is a cause for concern, allied to the fact that this is essentially Aalborg's last European stand. They will throw everything at us in front of a tightly packed small crowd, the type of which City are very often uncomfortable with.
However, you've got to bank on The Blues having done enough already to surely see the job through. Much will depend upon what tactics Mark Hughes employs.
Will he aim to cautiously shore up as has so often failed us on the road this season or continue to attack the Danes? It will also be a case of all eyes on the treatment table this week as we hold out for the returns of Craig Bellamy and Vincent Kompany who have been sorely missed.
I still think we'll have enough in the tank to win this comfortably. Aalborg looked a very poor side. Indeed, this weekend their poor form continued as they failed to beat relegation threatened Sonderjyske away in a 1-1 SAS Ligaen draw.
Aalborg 1 CITY 2
Euro Facts: Should we qualify for the Quarter Finals, Elano, Micah Richards and Pablo Zabaleta will miss the game if they are booked.
AaB have never won against an English side, with their record reading P6 W0 D2 L4.
NEXT OPPONENTS BUT ONE:
@ The City of Manchester Stadium
FA Premier League
Sunday 22nd March 2009 @ 1500 GMT
The Citizens Last 6 PL games: LWLDLW
The Black Cats Last 6 PL games: DWDLDL
Internet: www.sunderland.vitalfootball.co.uk / www.safc.com
Vital MC aims to bring you our Magnificent Seven Fans Q&A with Sunderland following the Aalborg UEFA Cup tie.
Johnny On The Spot?
Yet another home fixture becomes a 'must win' clash due to City's pisspoor away form. The league remains unprecedentedly tight for points and we just cannot get a comfortable distance on the lower placed sides.
The pressure builds upon our home games as a result and with currently 5 league wins in a row Mark Hughes will be aiming to extend that sequence.
Essentially, City must do so because failure against Sunderland, themselves fighting to get clear of the drop zone could leave us only 3 points clear of the bottom three yet again.
I'm banking on Bellamy, Kompany, De Jong and Bojinov (give him a start) all reporting fit and all contributing to lifting The Blues psychologically before a 12 day break starts which will be swiftly followed by a tough trip to a revenge seeking Arsenal and then a potential UEFA Cup Quarter Final.
I predict our first double of this long season.
City 3 Sunderland 0
PLEASE CONTRIBUTE TO THE CARL RAMSBOTTOM APPEAL:
On 27 November 2008, Carl travelled over to Germany to watch his beloved side play Schalke in the UEFA Cup, however due to a tragic incident at a German train station, Carl suffered life threatening injuries.
Due to this horrendous incident, Carl ended up in a coma for three weeks. He is currently in a rehabilitation unit in Germany while his family remain by his bedside.
The family are hopeful that Carl might be in a position to be repatriated to a rehab unit within the United Kingdom, hopefully sometime this month.
If you would like to make a donation, please make cheques payable to P&W MCFCCSA and send it to Ian Ramsbottom. 12 Plant Hill Road Blackley M96NH.
Or,if you would prefer to pay by credit or debit card, please click on the following link.
Date:Monday March 16 2009
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