With an eye on the coming transfer window, Etihad stadium stalwart Lorna Silva delivers a State of the City Squad address as Roberto Mancini closes in on 3 years City manager...
So far this season we have failed miserably in Europe and overall have not been as dominant as we were last season. To make matters worse we lost our first home game in two years to the Rags (yes, anybody but not them)!
Looking back at the summer transfer window and some of our signings. We made no flagship additions to the squad, which you would have thought would be the 'norm' for a club with the potential such as ours.
When we look at Javi Garcia, he could be seen as a good signing for any other club but for us he was not and to replace de Nigel Jong with him was relatively poor. Don't get me wrong, he isn't terrible, could do better as he began to show at Newcastle but I would have preferred Brain Marwood had purchased an impact player.
19 year old Matija Nastasic on the other side of the scale is excellent. Committed and dammed hard working, not afraid to get stuck in. He will continue to excell with us. That you can be sure of.
As for Jack Rodwell. Well he did seem to have potential but so far he has not had enough playing time due to injury. Whilst he was at Everton he did not overly impress and unless he bucks up here after he recovers from whatever injury he has now then I suggest it won't be long before he 'exits stage left.'
Scott Sinclair. I have to say I have been impressed. He is fast on the ball and quite possible he may yet have a surprise or two up his sleeve.
Back to the defeat on home soil to the rags. I actually see this now as a 'good thing' namely that now this has happened this could quite possibly be our turning point in the league and could spur us on and infuse us with the passion that we showed last season. Based on a tremendous win at Newcastle, the signs are there.
From my angle of The Etihad a lot of the formation changes from Mancini are cocking up a lot of the games. 3-5-2 quite clearly does not work. Players are being moved around time and time again. This surely must have a 'knock on' effect to the way the players are performing. This 3 man defensive system idea doesn't work and this was so evident against Real Madrid. Even though we went ahead twice the 3 man plan proved fatal (cheers Ladyboy)!
The position we found ourselves in after the derby defeat highlighted danger zones and started alarm bells ringing. Yes, I hear you say it is still early in the campaign but that is not a good enough answer. If we don't step up to the plate consistently sooner rather than later the points difference is going to be too hard to regain and we will find ourselves trophyless and open to even more abuse than we already get.
Root problems could be seen as a few things, formation, the way we approach each game, not being on form and above all else the PASSION, where did it go? It has been worrying to say the least when you have the likes of Chelsea slowly gathering speed and the rags clearly empowered with Robin Van Persie. We hear at VMC there are signs that City linked Theo Walcott has said that his preferred choice of club is going to be...yep you guessed it..the rags. Probably down to the fact that he played alongside RVP. Obviously he has been consulted by Taggart as to the obtaining of Walcott. The other point is would City want him anyway?
All the statistics said we would beat the rags hands down on derby day mainly due to the state of the rags defence but looking back at the match again we were too sloppy and too careless early on. Gael Clichy for one messed up.
Samir Nasri may as well not have bothered turning up at all (sorry all Nasri fans) but it looked to me as though he was in a 'I can't be bothered mood' on the day the performance he displayed in the defensive wall...I don't even need to add anything about that do I?!
It has been stupid little errors thus far mentioned that have cost us dearly in GD and points all round!. More organisation and forethought is needed from here Newcastle onwards.
Joe Hart as he proved on Tyneside can very often be seen to be the best goalkeeper out there. In some games he is amazing but can we blame him for the goals that we have been letting in and were let in on against the Stretfords? No. Our defence should not have let them get as clsoe as they did. Allowing Kolo Toure to take the injured Vincent Kompany's place on that day was to me plain wrong. He wasn't as fit as he could be. It did come as a surprise when I saw him come on. The back four were all over the place but again Matija Nastasic knew exactly when and where to be...he's a brilliant lad. I get the feeling that if it wasn't for him things would be in a little bit more of a mess than they were ahead of the Newcastle win.
Now lets talk about Mario Balotelli...last weekend he looked lacklustre, not interested, and taken aback by the whole match. Why was Mancio carrying on with this behaviour? The answer came in his team selection against The Magpies. Fair enough, Chelsea had a similar problem with Fernando Torres but on a different level as Torres never appeared to be anything other than determined and with perseverance he has come shining through. Is this going to happen with Mario, god knows, but I know Mancio cannot keep taking chances with the assumption that 'he will get better.' He was, to be honest, a joke last Sunday and a joke that we did not need. He seems to pay more interest in what is going on in the media about him than what he is doing on the pitch. Serious, serious thought needs to be given to this situation and now! We have not got the time to sit around and wait for him.
Despite what Mark Lawrenson and friends would wish for, the champions never have been quite in tatters but what was a mole hill of 3 points is now a potential mountain at 6 points. If we cannot scale this mini-mountain, this would simply not be good enough given our resources and the talent that is already inherent in this squad. We can always look to City's boardroom to lay the blame as they failed us miserably in securing stronger key players but for some reason the players have sometimes become unstuck and haven't bonded consistently as they did last season.
On a daily basis the hacks have been purring is it going to be the end of the line for Mancini? Can he withstand the pressure? Is he caving in?
I think some of the problems I've highlighted and these questions can be sorted in a January transfer window of optimism. Following a frugal Summer, if His Highness Sheikh Mansour and Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak's new team of Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain provide Mancini with the finances in January to get in a couple of key signings that can change games in a massive way then there is a chance that we can climb that mini-mountain and retain our rightful position at the top of the league. The signings of so so middle of the road players has to stop NOW!
all times East Manchester
Sa 22Dec 15h00 Reading, The Etihad, PL
We 26Dec 15h00 Sunderland, Stadium of Light, PL
Sa 29Dec 15h00 Norwich, Carrow Road, PL
Tu 01Jan 15h00 Stoke, The Etihad, PL
Sa 05 Jan 15h00 Watford, The Etihad, FAC
Su 13Jan 16h00 Arsenal, The Emirates, PL
Sa 19Jan 15h00 Fulham, The Etihad, PL
Tu 29Jan 19h45 QPR, Loftus Road