Toughen Up, Sharpen Up City
There are plenty of positives to point to at Manchester City six league and cup games into the new season. But the Blackburn experience is a wake up call.
Mark, er, 'Sparky' Hughes talked of his 'high intensity' team being something of a previously unknown quantity for SGE's revitalised squad to deal with and for once, I agree with him. Blackburn's 23 fouls to City's 3 where we saw our captain sent off for two of those 'offences' points not only to pisspoor, inconsistent refereeing but to our team's inability to 'mix it' with the likes of Blackburn.
I see that as cause for concern as did other Blues as the transfer window closed but will stop short of calling for one Joey Barton to come back la,' all is forgiven.
On the evidence we have seen so far I firmly believe we have the resources in the squad to boss midfield and create more chances but that statement counts for nothing unless the engine room start winning, timing tackles and imposing themselves on Premier League sides. Sure, some of the passing and movement of this team has been breathtaking at times this season and we have been very unfortunate to pick up so many cards, but the new players need to get streetwise sharpish because other teams will get after us exactly the same way Blackburn did now they see the way to stop us playing.
The next two months are a real challenge for Svennis and his backroom team to get the side competing strongly at this level. The optimism remains if a little tempered which may not be a bad thing as overly high expectations can be set aside for now.
The start to the season has been bursting with potential and the facts are that we stand 5th in the Premier League on merit having also won a league cup tie that we would surely have lost in previous seasons.
If Sven can get this side into a strongly competitive top gear then Blackburn will visit a much more uncompromising Manchester City on Boxing Day.
On an increasingly positive note, I understand that we could have the exciting Bojinov back in action for the second half of the season and Isaksson back in the sticks soon to take the strain off young Kasper.