Writer: Johnny Baguette
Date:Thursday January 31 2008
City's poor form and inability to beat the all but doomed Derby County tonight means we face a hell of a fight to remain in the European places throughout February...
The biggest indicator of how far City's form has dipped since Newcastle away is certainly summed up by the fact that this was Derby's first point at home for four months. And it ended a run of seven successive defeats for them.
Furthermore, the same Derby side, save for a couple of changes,were humiliated at home 1-4 by Championship relegation threatened Preston North End in the FA Cup only a few days ago. Our side's incapability to take advantage of the deeper hole that Derby had fallen into is cause for alarm bells in all directions as far as this correspondent is concerned.
February needs no introduction. Arsenal and the rags are scoring for fun, shooting on sight and steamrollering some sides into submission. Sometimes, they choose to coast. City are currently unable to achieve any of these tasks and we now must look at the next three fixtures with a heavy degree of trepidation. Sheffield United and Derby County were always going to be the platform to build on going into the Gooners and rags games and essentially, City blew it.
Svennis and Hans Backe are now going to have to work some serious magic to lift morale and drag the team out of it's current malaise.
A proper shake up is required and reports that we have signed 20 year old Ecuadorian striker Felipe Caciedo from FC Basel for £5 million will at least give Sven another option, but surely Ishmael Miller would be more in tune with the demands of the Premier League than Caciedo. The rumours of signing Benjani Mwaruwari from Portsmouth, if realised, would give the side a lift. There has to be more room for manoeuvre wages wise now Pearce failures Dabo, Isaksson and Samaras are up the road after Bianchi's departure.
Again, City were reliant tonight on 18 year old Daniel Sturridge's instinct for goal to make sure of a point. The lad must be wiped out tonight. Surely he cannot maintain a sustained run in the side so soon after a 6 month lay off. Such is the pisspoor performance of our senior strikers that Sven chose to start with Sturridge at Derby. Mpenza and Vassell are going backwards and we may as well have played Bobbit Dickov for a bit of push and shove with the opposition keeper such is their ineffectiveness.
Elsewhere, up pops Jihai Sun again. His inclusion mystifies the vast majority of Blues and the conspiracy theories persist.
Back to the future, and I understand we will be without the cultured Corluka for the rags game and that is a major blow. Our MCFC Vital MOTM polls have shown him to be one of our most consistent performers and we'll miss his presence. - There's not a lot of upbeat news around Sportcity tonight. Sven says he's satisfied with the effort tonight but he'll know we have to start scoring goals and sharpish.
In summing up the situation on a bitterly disappointing night I'm going to try to accentuate the positive.
Sven-Goran Eriksson is no mug and we must keep the faith. He's performed a miracle turning our squad around and we continue to cling to our European qualifying position but only just. I think many of us maybe expected too much too soon and have to look for some balance. But we are still in a great position as we head into February.
Eastlands remains our Fortress and Arsenal have to come to Manchester and take us on as well as that bit of psyche. The rags will be another story altogether. Form always goes out the window and they have failed to beat us seven times out of 11 in the league since we were promoted under Mad Kev. Everton are up there on merit and will be no pushover but beatable.
Okay, this might sound like straw clutching and if we are to get anything out of these games then City must raise their game in all areas. The inclusion of Richards, Johnson and Bojinov in the team can't come quickly enough.
Miracles can and do happen. Look at where we were 12 months ago.
With due respect to the brilliant Charlatans.
Date:Thursday January 31 2008
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