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Good Enough But Not Good Enough!

Svennis will know that City will have to raise their game a good deal if we are to get anything out of the clash at Fratton Park next sunday.

It's often said that the secret of a top side is to win when playing poorly. The rags early season form was testament to that fact. City certainly have not provided any fireworks after that mauling at Chelsea, but have managed to scrap their way to two important 1-0 wins that have got our season back on track.

Last night our team were worryingly lacklustre, particularly in the first 30 minutes where we allowed a physical Sunderland side to effectively dictate the game. It was one of those nights where we just could not string passes together for any decent period of time and could only impose ourselves in flashes over the visitors.

I thought we looked lightweight in some areas and that needs addressing in January if we are to sustain what has become a pleasingly realistic push for European football.

Sun Jihai, in for what would have surely been the inclusion of the injured Onuoha was woeful at right back and Garrido on the other flank, although performing much better than at Stamford Bridge worries me positionally.

In midfield, the injured Johnson strived hard, but ultimately could not get going and for this long season I think we are going to need an experienced ball winning distributor to compete with Hamman as elder midfield statesman. Rumours persist from Italy that Patrick Viera could move to Manchester in 2008 and I would welcome his signing.

Petrov had just about his worst performance in a City shirt and he was not alone in his inability to cope with the slippery surface following the fine rain that soaks you through that swept across town in the afternoon. Elano meanwhile, was stifled.

On the positive front, Vassell gave it a right go as ever and his persistence rewarded us with the scintillating cross that set up Ireland for a sweetly hit volley that saw Eastlands explode with relief.

In total contrast to the unfortunate yet not quite at the races Mpenza, Bianchi, his replacement, won every single aerial challenge presented to him and got in amongst the previously unflustered Mackem defenders. He seemed right up for it. But I wasn't alone after the final whistle in witnessing him head straight for the dugout to drop off his shirt with someone then head down the tunnel while the rest of the team remained on the park. Answers on a postcard for that one.

The Maine Man for me was Corluka. He is a cool character, plays sensibly and slotted in alongside The Captain imperiously. I would like to see him hold that position and give Richards a go alongside Hamman in midfield for Pompey. Any takers?

On the 216 bus afterwards we were debating how far we had come in such a short time. Flashback to February and the disbelief of losing 2-0 at home to Reading in the icy fog of the Pearce and Wigley nightmare. As the last firework flashed over a November Manchester skyline we found ourselves third in the Premier League on merit and have scored more goals at home than we managed all last season.

There is little doubt in my mind that last night's physical encounter, requiring a lot of hard work to win, was one we would have surely lost last season.

So to sum up, we are still flying high despite the lack of free flowing football last night. We have still been relatively fortunate with injuries and if we can get through to January in the top six, then Svennis and his staff will have performed something of a miracle at Manchester City if they haven't already!

Final word gives respect to the Sunderland supporters who brought a sizeable following to Manchester for a monday night televised game, but no respect whatsoever to Roy Keane who felt the full force of our disgust at his presence.




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The journalist

Writer: Johnny Baguette Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday November 6 2007

Time: 10:00AM

Your Comments

"As the last firework flashed over a November Manchester skyline..." Existential moment there JB. Would not welcome Vierra, don't require the services of those with nothing to prove and looking for a final pay day. For those of the opinion that Micah is wasted in the back four (not my view) he may one day migrate into the Hamann role - but could you play them together?
Craig Cain
A warm welcome awaits on the South Coast. In real terms, the battle for 5th & 6th.
storagematt
storagematt...Surely a battle for 4th place as I don't see the scousers making it....
alphieblues
Interesting pointers, CC. You never know with that Vierra rumour. He's reknowned for his dislike of the rags for starters! I still think we need proven experience to back up/replace Hamman as required. I heard Gravesen off all people touted in Ashton this afternoon. On another tip, I still think we should bring in a Prem experienced 'keeper, too. Cudicini?
Johnny Baguette
Graveson was dynamite at Everton - watched him at Celtic, attitude stinks, not the same player - may be past his best. Agreed Hamman's position needs attention - but ideally you'd want a player in the ascendant, with some fire and hunger
Craig Cain
Sorry 'bout that...still think we need that Anelka-like presence in the 451. Like the look of Doyle at Reading - could do a job for us. Still unsure about the Isakson situation - can he cut it?
Craig Cain
Something deffo amiss with Isaksson and I sense he could be offski. The Anelka rumours also persist. Like the hunger viewpoint. We need that fire.
Johnny Baguette
I know I'm one to talk - but I think "Johnny Baguette" is a brilliant log-in name! Doing well this season guys - been really impressed with Man City :)
Pardew is Sexy
Another good home win to keep you near the top. Saturday should be a good game.
dazza71
JB, to solve the mystery of Bianchi, obviouslt spotted a babe in the crowd and wanted to get to the exit to try out his new English chat up line. I know what you say about Richards and moving to midfield, here you have a problem, He wants to play for England and would not get a place in midfield. Have to defend Sun Jihai he probably did not know until the morning or afternoon of the match that he would be playing and as we are aware lacks any sort of match practise, did play well at all but he is not the worst full back we ever had and always gives his best. I am with CC regarding Viera bringing in older players is not Svennis's solution to these problems but he may well go back for the aussie midfielder who's name just escapes me for the minute. As far as any rumours about players coming to City, when have any of us been right. I watched the City legends on 203 on Sky Monday night and it was interesting to note that SGE prefers that 451 in all the teams he has managed. I do think Bianchi deserves a good run out. The other thing appears to be that SGE is reluctant to play both Geo and Elano in the same team, but he may have to in view of JOhnsons injury, it would be unlikely that he would change formation to 442, but it is dead easy for us backseat managers not as easy when its for real.Sunderland always has great supporters and Niall Quinn will always be welcome.
Buzz Lightyear
a well fought and hard earned three points....keanes lot are no walkover...also shows how far that you have come in that you can absorb the 6-0 humiliation and drubbing, take it on the chin and get on with life...that says more to me than the 6-0 result in itself....
ernshaw
 

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