Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Villas Boas: "I don't like their standards of football"

Before this week started I thought latest Chelsea Manager Andre Villas Boas was a bit of a pleb, but after his most recent outburst regarding several matters, I know he is.

In fact he well and truly belongs in Plebville, or better still, the insanity wing of Plebville State Penitentiary where Sheriff Rodney Marsh and deputy Francis Lee can keep a close eye on him.

Boas spoke about a few things in his interview for Portuguese radio station TSF, but lets just focus on the part that is to do with City.

"I refuse to build a team like City, I don't like the standards of their football. City is a very organised, efficient, well-balanced team. All they want right now is to be champions. There's an exact formula to be successful in Premier League, and that's what City is doing right now: attacking efficiency above all.

"They are an Italian team, they follow the Italian standards. If I saw them playing in Italy, I would say that's where they actually belong."

Is this guy for real, or is he just trying to make as many waves as possible before being tossed over the side of the ailing ship Chelsea FC by Abramovich, making himself look even more ridiculous in the process?

I think I'd be hard pressed to even find a United fan who thinks City haven't played good football this season.

But what standards are being referred to here? Boas mentioned being organised, efficient and being having the exact formula for success.

Now call me crazy but how is being organised, efficient and having the perfect formula for success a negative thing? Well, Andre clearly feels that's the case, as we can see from his team's performances this season. This may come as a bit of a surprise too, as he was once one of Jose Mourinho's coaches whilst at Chelsea. The 'Special One' isn't exactly known for his exciting and expansive football. His teams have always been based on a solid structure and organisation.

Of all the managers Chelsea have had whilst Abramovic has been there, Villas Boas undoubtedly has the worst record at this moment in time having only won 49% of his games.  Compare that to Hiddink (71%) who was also there for a short period of time and, you can see the difference in class.

If this was an attempt at diverting some attention from his own performance as manager at Chelsea, it hasn't worked. In fact, it's entirely the wrong team and manager to attack. Trying to belittle the team that's top of the league having scored more and conceded fewer goals than any other team, with a 100% home record probably wasn't the best move.

But one thing that hasn't been mentioned in the media is how this interview has also highlighted his poor man management skills.

When Balotelli ran over to hug Mancini in the technical area after scoring a goal, it was because of his affection for his manager. Then we hear reports of Chelsea players being ordered to celebrate with the manager if they score a goal to show how unified they all are.

You can't force that kind of celebration, you can't force someone to like you, it has to be earned. Mancini has earned it from both the players (well most of them) and the fans.

The situation Boas finds himself in isn't too dissimilar to the one Mancini faced when he first took over at City. A large squad, full of players on high wages, with some that didn't fit into the system that he wanted to play for whatever reason.

Several stories of discontent have emerged from more than one of Chelsea's old guard, just like the stories from the likes of Adebayor emanated from City because he was being left out.

Mancini had to make those tough decisions and weather a lot of criticism for it, but not once has it truly affected the performances on the pitch. City have continued to grow and improve due to Mancini's strength of character and ability to have players still perform well on the pitch. That constant improvement now sees them top of the Premier Leauge with 12 games to go.

What we have seen at Chelsea is a definite and drastic change in standards on the pitch and there is only one person who is to blame, Villas Boas. I've heard all the usual stuff about players under performing due to them not agreeing with the manager and that they have to take responsibility,  and I do agree with that to a certain extent, but who has created that situation? Villas Boas. Who is failing to successfully manage that situation? Villa Boas.

Mancini managed that situation and despite several players not being happy, the team continued to move forward due to his man management ability and the 'standards of football' he has implemented.

City fans have witnessed several decades of a certain type of excitement, never knowing how the team was going to perform in each game, whether we'd get a decent cup run or just avoid relegation. Villas Boas can have that if he wants, and in a small way, he's got it. I, on the other hand, quite like this more organised and stable version of excitement at the top of the league.




Twitter: @MikeWalshMCFC or @mcfcDSLeftFoot
Facebook: David Silva's Left Foot

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Manchester City v Blackburn Rovers: Post-match thoughts

Have you ever witnessed a more one sided game in all your life? I don't think I have in my reasonably short 27 years of it. For around 70 minutes of the game, City had about 86% of possession. It ended with 78% possession, 28 attempts on goal.

City barely had to get out of second gear as Blackburn came with the sole intention of limiting the number of goals City scored. Yakubu cut a lonely figure as the ball was often hoofed in his direction with either Kompany or Lescott waiting to take it back from him.

If there is one negative to take away from the game, it's that despite having 28 shots on goal, only 9 were actually on target. Mancini will no doubt be unhappy with this despite the overall performance. In tougher games, less than a 30% hit rate could cost  City.

The shots that City did have on target (apart from the goals) generally brought pretty good saves out of Paul Robinson, who is said to be reconsidering his international retirement. I'm not entirely sure why though, as he still wont be playing ahead of Joe Hart.

Robinson had to make a fine save very early in the game with barely a minute gone. Silva put through Johnson making a run on the wing who then whipped in a low cross which found. Balotelli. Mario's first time shot towards the bottom corner was parried away though.

Silva was causing all sorts of problems on the edge of the box, keeping the ball close to him, waiting for a teammate to make a run, and almost always finding them.

Zabaleta and Kolarov were chosen as the full-backs for this game and they both played admirably, with Aleks getting man of the match. Both provided the width that was required to get behind the Blackburn defence out wide and each put in a number of good crosses.

It was once again Silva who played the ball into space for one of the full-backs in the 30th minute, this time Kolarov. The cross was driven into low into the box and once again found Balotelli who had drifted into space between defenders. Mario struck the ball across the keeper who could only watch it fly past him into the back of the net.

Balotelli unveiled another message on his under armour, declaring his love for his girlfriend, Raffaella Fico. He had learnt his lesson though and only lifted the shirt high enough to see the message instead of pulling it over his head, avoiding an unnecessary booking.

Kompany nearly made it 2-0 6 minutes later when a corner came towards the near post. Vinnie peeled away from his marker, and in a move not dissimilar to Mancini's famous back-heeled goal during his playing days, clipped the ball towards goal. Once again, Robinson was equal to it and Yaya put the rebound wide of the goal.

City came close again seconds before half time. Balotelli hit a 40 yard pass with the outside of his right boot which Aguero had to chase. And despite having 2 defenders around him and receiving a push in the back, Aguero's tenacity got him to the ball before either of them. It was unlucky that his shot across goal went wide of the target.

Sergio made it 2-0 just 6 minutes into the 2nd half after another City corner. Robinson parried away the initial ball into the box, but it fell right in front of Aguero who fired it into the net.

Dzeko came on for Balotelli on 79 minutes and managed to get himself on the score sheet after only 2 minutes on the pitch. Kolarov again the provider after collecting the ball from substitute Pizarro, crossed the ball into the box and into the path of an oncoming Dzeko. His header powered low to the ground and beat Robinson with ease.

Joe Hart was required just the once in time added on. Yakubu hit a tame shot from outside the 18 yard box to mark Blackburn's only shot on target in 94 minutes of football. Hart easily collected it down at his left.

It has to be mentioned that Yaya was magnificent. With Blackburn rarely attacking, Yaya was able to pass the ball almost at will, completing 101 of his 103 passes. He hit several long range passes that found the target with pin-point accuracy, one of his outstanding qualities as a player. And when he did stride forward, Blackburn simply didn't know what to do. It is hoped that the injury that saw him limp off the pitch 5 minutes from the end isn't serious.

Balotelli also has a great game, showing fantastic attitude throughout. Pizarro looks like he's been with City for years, such is his quality of passing and ability to read the game as though he's looking at it from above. I'm certainly wanting to see more of him before the season ends as he looks a quality signing.

With Tevez returning to training, many fans will no doubt be pleased that Aguero, Balotelli and Dzeko are all back in scoring form and looking likely to keep Tevez out of contention of even an appearance on the bench. It wouldn't surprise me if after all that has happened Mancini isn't happy for the same reasons, if only behind closed doors.


Twitter: @MikeWalshMCFC or @mcfcDSLeftFoot
Facebook: David Silva's Left Foot

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Nasri: Flop or Not?

There seems to be a general consensus in media circles and amongst a section of City fans that Nasri has been a bit of a flop this season. There is no denying he hasn't set the world alight, but he was hardly in the running for World player of the year whilst at Arsenal either.

He has been criticised for going missing in games and not living up to the hype surrounding his £24m pound move to City in the summer. But has he really been that bad? We'll take a look at how he stacks up to other creative players from the 'usual' top clubs in the league.

First things first, who am I going to match him up against? I've chosen Silva, Mata, Modric,  Arteta, Kuyt and Nani. These are all creative midfield players who play for the Sky big 4 (Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, United) and the current media darling FC (Spurs). Of course Silva plays for the current league leaders.

I have tried to make sure each player plays a similar role and has played a decent number of games, although there are always going to be differences. Arteta and Modric generally play deeper than the others, while Nani usually used in wide areas. I had difficulty deciding Liverpool's player, Adam plays too deep, Downing is generally poor, so to be kind to Liverpool I chose Kuyt (no, honestly), who is an AM/FW. Nasri has played in at least 4 different positions though, AM/LCR and CM, and all players listed provide creative output for their teams.

One of the first things you will notice is that Nasri has had considerably less game time that the others (barring Kuyt). In fact he is the only one not to have actually appeared in 20 or more league games so far. The media would have you believe this is because he hasn't clicked at City and Mancini doesn't quite trust his ability to perform.


I beg to differ, David Silva was always going to the be the main man in the advanced midfield roles this season. Mancini knows Nasri's qualities having followed him whilst manager of Inter Milan, but he also has James Milner who can play in an advanced position who has different, yet equally important traits depending on the opposition. We have seen one or the other played on several occasions.

Lets not forget that Mancini also likes to tinker with the squad. Only 7 players in the entire squad have started 20 or more games so far in the league (now at the 25 game point). That leaves an average minimum of 4 places per match that are up for change.

Despite his obvious disadvantage in game time, his general stats don't look out of place alongside any of the other players.

All stats shown from here on (apart from reiterating goals and assists) are completed/successful averages per game (not attempted) in the Premier League.

Although defensive qualities aren't what creative players are measured by, even less so for more attacking players but they're part of the overall picture so we will have a look.


Unsurprisingly the players that play in the centre of midfield (Modric and Arteta) make more tackles than the players that play further forward. Silva, Kuyt and Nani are all fairly similar for tackles.

Of the more attacking 5 in general, Nasri is middle of the road overall, same number of tackles per game as Mata, more interceptions than Silva, Mata and Nani, but also the least number of clearances. Reading into the clearances a little more though, City have conceded the fewest number of chances of all teams in the league.

Now on to attacking stats. Over the past 3 seasons with Arsenal, Nasri has scored more than he has created (18 Goals, 8 Assists), with last season scoring an average of a goal every 3 league games. That has dropped to just under a goal every 5 (from appearances only)



If you look at the average goal/minutes over the last 3 years though, he was scoring every 370.8 minutes anyway. Compare that to 417.7 minutes per goal in his first season at City, it isn't particularly concerning. If I'm honest though, he could shoot a little more often when the opportunity presents itself.

One area where Nasri matches up very well is the dispossession and turnover stats. He actually loses the ball fewer times (2.6) per match than Silva (2.9), Mata (3.3), Modric (3.6), and Nani (4.1). It's no secret that his close control, ability to wriggle out of trouble and skip away from challenges has been one of his most prominent qualities throughout his career.

Considering this quality though, he rarely dribbles with the ball, and has the 2nd lowest average of the players compared.

The real bread and butter for any midfield player, whether attacking or not, is the ability to pass the ball effectively. The number of passes a player makes will partly depend on their position and the way the team plays. The more central a player is in midfield, the more touches of the ball they are likely to get and the more passes they are likely to make.


There are no real surprises when you look at the average number of passes per game each player makes. Arteta and Modric are well ahead of the others with them playing a more central role on the pitch. Admittedly, Arteta's 80.8 completed passes per game at a success rate of 90.6% is pretty impressive.

However, Nasri has actually got the highest success rate here with a fantastic 92.5% of his passes finding their intended recipient. Also bare in mind that he makes the same number of through balls as Mata and Modric and only marginally fewer than Silva it really is outstanding.

Nasri's key passes are also only behind Silva and Mata so he is creating a decent number of chances for others to score, and this is comparable with his assists.

Despite having less game time than any other, Nasri is only just behind Mata who has been on the pitch the equivalent of an extra 6 games. You could then argue that 4 of those assists came in City's 5-1 thrashing of Spurs (Nasri's debut), but even if you take those out he still only has 1 fewer than Modric who has had more time on the pitch than anyone else being compared here. Looking back at the key passes, it's not as though he isn't creating the chances for his team either.

At the end of the day, just as a goal is a goal, an assist is an assist and they all count for something, whether it be points or simply goal difference.

When it comes to the City squad, Nasri is 2nd in the assists rankings. Aguero, Milner and Richards are behind him with 5 each.

As I stated at the beginning of the article, Nasri hasn't been a world-beater this season, but looking at the figures I don't think we can really call him a flop. The fact I had to use Dirk Kuyt from Liverpool suggests something in itself about flops in the attacking mid department, not to mention certain people masquerading as strikers in the top half of the table.

A single season isn't long enough to judge whether a player is a flop or not. Even if a player has experience of the league, it doesn't neccessarily mean they will hit the ground running. Take a look at said strikers I hinted at earlier, we all know who they are, and Samir hasn't been any where near as bad as they have been in their positions.

There's still 13 games to play in the league, and who knows what will happen between now and then. If Nasri scores or assists the goal that wins City the league title will anyone really care whether he hasn't been quite as good as Silva? Let's face it, there aren't many who are!

Have something to say on this article? Feel free to leave a comment below or use one of the following links.


Twitter: @MikeWalshMCFC or @mcfcDSLeftFoot
Facebook: David Silva's Left Foot

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Engine Room

25 games into the Premier League season with only 13 games remaining, City sit at the top of the table with a 2 point lead over the closest contenders. There are a number of reasons as to why City are now in the position they're in; Kompany and Lescott's ever improving partnership in defence, the sometimes seemingly telepathic relationship between Silva and Aguero etc etc.

There is one partnership that I feel merits much more praise than it gets. The success of the team this year is in no small part influenced by the complimentary qualities of Gareth Barry and Yaya Toure.

I've made my feelings known about how infuriating I can find Yaya at times in another article. When he's bad, he's awful, but when he's good, he's world class. I have also made no secret of my admiration of Gareth and his superb consistency and defensive qualities.
This season has seen Yaya deployed in a deeper role than last season. This has seen Nigel De Jong sitting out most games as Toure lines up along side Gareth Barry. It has been a master-stroke by Mancini, as although City were solid defensively last term, we found it difficult to score many goals (although we still finished with more than the beautifully free-flowing, attacking Spurs).

Now Mancini has brought more creative players in with Nasri and Aguero to play alongside Silva and other forwards to unlock defences. But what links City's defence and attack together? You guessed it, Barry and Toure.

Now don't get me wrong, the team can cope without either one of these two players. But, and it's a big but (No Barry or Yaya jokes please), the team simply isn't the same without one or the other.

Both players have been almost constant features in the side when available so a relatively fair comparison of statistics is available. This is exactly what I want to do, and I think you'll find that the two compliment each other almost, if not as well, as the defensive pairing of Kompany and Lescott.

First of all, it should be pointed out that although Yaya lines up as a defensive midfielder on the team sheet, he is not a defensive midfielder. He may have been one in Spain, but he certainly isn't one here. In fact, Barry is as much an attacking midfielder as Toure is defensive. You will clearly see this in the statistics to follow.

Each statistic is an average per game measured throughout the course of their appearances in the Premier League this season.


Defensive

As previously stated, Yaya and Barry differ greatly in their defensive ability and it would be ludicrous to think Mancini isn't actually aware of this when lining them both up in the centre of the pitch.

Barry does the majority of the grunt work, and as such, goes relatively unnoticed by what appears to be the vast majority of football fans. He makes more tackles, around double the number of interceptions and clearances and made a number of blocks throughout the season.

Because of this, Barry has also committed around 30% more fouls but has made around 66% more tackles in that time.

One thing is quite certain, Barry does not get the credit he deserves for his defensive duties. This season has seen him grow in the estimations of more and more City fans, but he is still largely scoffed at by football fans in general (maybe apart from Villa fans who know full well what he brings to the table).


Attacking

Just like the defensive stats, the attacking ones also differ quite a bit.

Toure has scored more goals and has more assists than Barry, thanks to his more advanced role compared to that of his teammate. Although considering this, 2 extra goals and 1 assist isn't altogether outstanding.

What is noticeable however is that rather unsurprisingly, Toure dribbles with the ball double the number of times Gaz Baz does. Toure is well known for his ability to cause havoc amongst defences when he runs with the ball due to his sheer size and good close control on the move.

Another noticeable difference is the number of key passes both make. With Yaya's more advanced role, it is only natural that he makes key passes to the attacking players and he makes almost double the number compared to Barry.

One thing that can't be measured by statistics as the effect that Toure has on the opposition. Perhaps strangely, one of Toure's most useful qualities is just his presence. With him roaming about further up the pitch, it creates more space for the mercurial Silva and others to operate in.


Passing

When looking at cold stats, Toure is the pass master with an average of 77.6 completed passes per game at a rate of 90% success. What should be noted though, is that despite a generally more advanced position he does make a large amount of passes to the back two and to Barry.
Barry is more likely to attempt a cutting pass along the ground from midfield to one of the wider positions which partly accounts for a lesser success rate, although 86.5% is by no means poor.

Both have relatively good long ball stats, but Toure successfully completes 1.5 more of these passes on average. It has to be said, Yaya's ability to hit a 40-50 yard lobbed pass is superb. Once again due to being further up the pitch he also completes more through balls than Barry.

It isn't surprising that neither put in many crosses but as you would expect with Barry's history and ability to play wider, he puts in more accurate crosses.

The pattern is quite undeniable, and both complement each other beautifully. It's why we still have such a good defensive record and partly why we've scored so many more goals compared to last season.

Just to compare, this time last season we had scored 39 goals, conceding 20. This season we have scored a staggering 64 goals whilst conceding only 19, giving us a goal difference of 45 compared to 19 last term.

What this partnership provides is creativity and fluidity while still keeping a large measure of solidarity in front of Kompany and Lescott (who's partnership along with a magnificent Joe Hart has also helped keep the goal tally below what it was this time last year). It is quite possibly the best midfield partnership in English football and a major reason why City are sitting pretty at the top of the league heading into the final straight of the race for the Premier League title.

Player stats taken from whoscored.com



Twitter:
@MikeWalshMCFC or @mcfcDSLeftFoot
Facebook: David Silva's Left Foot

Saturday, 18 February 2012

FC Porto v Manchester City: post match thoughts.

Although the media reaction to the game has been fairly muted and instead has focused on other incidents during the match, City's victory over Porto should not be under-appreciated by the fans.

Make no mistake about it, Porto are no mugs and they rarely lose at home in any competition. In fact before facing City, they had only ever lost once on home soil to English opposition. Let's not forget that Porto are also the current holders of the Europa League and won the Champions League in 2004.

City fans may have been left rolling their eyes after realising that the referee was the same one that sent Balotelli off in their last Europa League game and let Dynamo Kiev's time wasting and play acting go largely unpunished. But hey, we're getting used to this being screwed over malarkey, aren't we? Thankfully it has rarely affected the final result in the league.

The first half saw City rather frustrated as they made several good chances which were seen saved by the Porto keeper, Helton (or Elton) if you were watching on ITV1. Balotelli, Richards and Nasri all had shots that were destined for the back of the net, saved by the Brazilian.

Despite City creating the better chances, it was Porto who took the lead within half an hour when Hulk had space for a cross on the left and whipped the ball in with a low drive. Verela got to it first after losing Clichy and prodded the ball home from 6 yards. Hart did make contact with it but not enough to turn it away from goal.
Although City were 1-0 down at the break, due to the chances that had already been created, you were still positive that City could get themselves back into this game. On 55 minutes, City did exactly that with a slice of luck that has been sorely missing of late.

Yaya, stood just inside the Porto half, lofted the ball into the box which was put into the net by Pereira (perhaps the most naturally miserable looking person on the planet), due to some fine pressuring by Balotelli.

Sergio Aguero came off the bench and replaced Balotelli on 77 minutes and it was him who sealed the victory for City 7 minutes later, Yaya Toure once again the provider. The big Ivorian bursting into the box after being put through by Nasri, unselfishly knocking the ball square to Aguero who could not miss.

It was a performance and comeback to be proud of, City played quite well throughout and limited Porto to very few decent chances despite the number of shots they actually had. Even the £80m forward, Hulk, looked more like the incredible sulk. He came up against Richards, Kompany and Lescott during the 90 minutes and barring his first-touch cross in the first half, he made very little impact on the game. The impact on the ground was considerably greater as he spent a lot of time hitting it after falling over all too easily.

Lescott once again proved his credentials and hardly put a foot wrong, he certainly got my vote for man of the match. After Mancini's stern words in the last couple of weeks, Balotelli also put in a very professional performance and Mancini will be hoping he stays that way until the end of the season. In fact although it couldn't be said in the first half, at the end of the 90 minutes, I'm not sure anyone had a particularly bad game overall.

Unfortunately it took a rather unsavoury incident for City to get a real headline from this game. The Club have put an official complaint in after both Mario Balotelli and Yaya Toure reported racist chanting from a section of Porto fans.

Interviewed after the game, Yaya said he 'heard something' but didn't state what it was but Porto officials instantly denied such claims before actually looking into them.

The official Porto stance on it is that “nothing abnormal” had taken place and that “No one noticed anything strange, not even the Uefa delegates that worked closely with Porto during the match.”

Rui Cerqueira (Porto's spokesmen) then went on to embarrassingly describe what he felt was a misunderstanding. He said that Porto fans were actually chanting "Hulk, Hulk, Hulk" and City fans were chanting "Kun, Kun, Kun."

I think we all knew this was total rubbish. City fans are well known for chanting "Kun, Kun, Kun" aren't we? Especially when Mario is on the ball and Aguero is on the bench. Last I heard, we chant "Sergio, Sergio" but that may just be my dodgy hearing.

Perhaps unfortunately for Rui and Porto, video footage of at least one incident that has been posted on Youtube showing a section of Porto fans making monkey sounds when Balotelli failed to score in the first half. There were several incidents reported at the end of 90 minutes.

There can be no excusing this kind of behaviour. City were not saying all Porto fans are racist, but it is clear that a section of them clearly are and picked out Balotelli for treatment. If UEFA fail to act on this, especially after video evidence has come to light, then they are sending the wrong message to Clubs and fans throughout Europe.

City are now in a very strong position going into the 2nd leg at the Etihad Stadium, a 2-1 lead with both goals coming away from home. There is still a job to do, but City are strong favourites to head into the round of 16.



Twitter: @MikeWalshMCFC or @mcfcDSLeftFoot
Facebook: David Silva's Left Foot

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Tevez interview transcript

The following quotes were independently translated directly onto Twitter by Sebastian Garcia @MundoAlbicelest at the time the Tevez interview aired in Argentina. Three of the quotes were originally out of sync and have been replaced by myself into the areas where they best fit.

I will not be offering any opinion on what is said in this interview during this article, basically because I'm tired of the whole damn affair. I will leave you to make your own judgement. Feel free to leave a comment at the end of the transcript.

"I decided not to talk to the media for the last four months. Last time I spoke was right after the Bayern Munich game.

"It was a delicate situation. I decided to say nothing about it during all this time.

"I want to go back to Manchester and win over the City fans back. People turned their back on me but it's normal. I didn't understand.

"I didn't understand City fans burning my shirt. It hurt. It's normal they react like that because they read all sorts of thing.

"I was grumpy and upset because MANCINI had stripped me of the captaincy with no reason.

"I've decided to return to City. I know I have what it takes to revert the situation. I know it'll be hard, but it's a nice challenge.

Re the Bayern episode: "I have warmed up during the 1st half. Then went to dressing room. For 2nd half I was ready.

"In that 2nd half MANCINI decides to replace DZEKO with DE JONG. It was a defensive sub. I didn't understand. DZEKO argued w/MANCINI.

"I decided to sit. MANCINI was upset for arguing with DZEKO. Then he looks at me and asks me to warm up.

"I told MANCINI I warmed up & was ready to play. He was upset w/another player. Treated me like no player deserves & insulted me.

"MANCINI was upset after arguing with DZEKO, he turns around and sees me. Then he sends me, like a dog, to warm up.

"MANCINI told me all sorts of things there. I don't know why. I was relaxed. I was talking to ZABALETA. I had no problems.

"I never refused to play. I refused to keep warming up. The club investigated and then they fined me"

"I was worried about my future after that 2-week fine. That fine was OK. But I want people to know the truth. They didn't want to.

"The club statement protected the manager. I got a lot of heat from the media in England, Argentina, everywhere.

"Everytime I wanted to take my daughter to school I had 5 journalists on my back. Trained with the reserves. It was uncomfortable.

"I was affected because of this situation. I wanted to find shelter with my family.

"It is true that AC Milan had an interest in me. City didn't want to lose $. It wasn't good for City having me away in Buenos Aires

"I have been training on my own. I know I can be back on the pitch in 2 weeks. I'm willing to play

"It was really emotional being back at La Bombonera (Boca Jrs stadium) for the Martín PALERMO testimonial. It was moving

"If it's true that MANCINI said he will welcome me back if I'm fit, then I like those quotes. But if he only said it for the media...

"But he also said I was never going to be playing for him again. So I don't know. I'll do my best to be available and play

"MANCINI's position got stronger when Kun AGUERO arrived. I don't know if he would have done the things he did if this was last season.

"Last season we almost exchanged punches! But he never said anything. He got a better team this season & felt like making the decision.

"Now that I have a cooler head, I understand City fans. Back in the heat of the moment I didn't. I did a lot of things for City.

"To be insulted by fans after what happened in Munich was something I didn't deserve.

"I was very upset by everything and maybe I wasn't seeing things clearly. That Bayern episode could have been avoided.

"They could have kicked me out of the club without saying all the things they said. Deal with the situation in a different way.

"I think that's where MANCINI got things wrong. If we had a problem, we could have sorted it out in a different way.

"Last season, after a home game vs. Newcastle, we almost hit each other in the dressing room. But we spoke the following day.

"MANCINI is a winner. And I'm a winner too. None of us like to lose.

"My first few months in England (West Ham), I felt terrible. I wanted out. I wasn't playing. But I worked hard & turned things around.

"I love the English league. I think it's the best in the world. I have a problem with Christmas and New Year's Day. You have to play.

"Going to train on 24 December, sometimes play on the 25th. It's tough. I didn't like that.

"There's no need for City to make me have 2 training sessions a day. I'll do it myself.

"I picture myself going back on the pitch and I know I have to play better than I ever did.

"Mauricio MACRI (former Boca Jrs president, current Buenos Aires mayor) asked me to come to Boca for free in 2 years.

"I have to thank Coco BASILE and the people at TigreBoca.

"I train in the mornings. I play a lot of golf. In England it's the middle of winter now so I won't be able to play much. I love it.

"My first goal now is to be back at full fitness. I have trained on my own but lost contact with the ball. Gotta get that back.

 "It's tough to talk about City's title challenge now. I feel like I'm out the squad. I wish I can go back there and help them win.

"I know FERGUSON really doesn't want to lose this title race. I think FERGUSON and BIELSA are the best managers.

"I know FERGUSON didn't have the best relationship with me but together with BIELSA, those two are the best managers I had.

"Paul SCHOLES is the best professional. Him ROONEY and GIGGS...I have no words. They were excellent to me."




Twitter: @MikeWalshmcfc or @mcfcDSLeftFoot.
Facebook: David Silva's Left Foot

Friday, 10 February 2012

One man's master-plan to thwart City's progression.

By now you really should be aware of City's plans to transform a section of land adjacent to the Etihad stadium into a world class training complex for the club as well as building education and recreational facilities for public use. Last year it received a 97% public approval rating and planning permission was subsequently granted in December 2011.

Since then the Club have started their efforts in transforming the desolate land but one man has as good as declared himself a champion of private business owners against the super rich by refusing to sell his business that is situated within what will be the grounds of the complex.

Step forth Mr Shaun O'Brien of OB Truck Services. I would hazard a guess that this man was part of the 3% who objected to the proposed plans as he is the one who is refusing to sell up to City. Instead, he is selling off 1 sq foot of land at a time for £250 to anyone interested in stopping or at least slowing down City's development.  I highly doubt it will come as any surprise that Mr O'Brien is also a Manchester United fan.

"People believe that because I am a United fan, I am refusing to sell [but] that has never been the case,"

"I am a Mancunian and fully support all that is being done in this area; what I am against is the methods used to carry out the plans."

He claims the club failed to "reasonably negotiate" a fair deal with him, so he has dug his heels in. The Club have offered what they feel is a fair price and offered assistance in relocating Mr O'Brien's business. He is the last remaining company on the land after all others have come to an agreement with the club, making his unfair proposal story sound a little off the mark.

The stance of his football allegiance having nothing to do with his decision also takes a bit of a knock if you go on the website being used to sell these plots of land. The section marked 'Why Buy' states "Satisfaction - has anybody given you stick over the 6-1? Payback!" and after asking 'What's the worst that could happen?' the first of the two points is "They (City) win the premiership."

Oh dear, indeed.

A City spokesman said "anyone buying this land, even a small plot, should take independent legal advice and inspect the land before buying".

City have applied for a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) which will basically force him to sell to the Club should it be deemed in the public interest, which it is, for City to be able to develop the land.

The spokesman added that the CPO "would not have been necessary if Mr O'Brien had been prepared to sell it at a realistic price and accept the football club's offer of help to relocate his business".

"The valuation he's placing on this land is far in excess of anything in Manchester and would make it equivalent to the most expensive plots in the most exclusive areas of London,"

Mr O'Brien sounds a little sour to me, he feels he didn't get a fair price so he's attempting to distort the value of his land by implementing a 'supply and demand' style negotiation system. The land is in short supply, but in high demand. The more City want the land, the more they will pay, is his philosophy.

Our survey says!? X

Not to worry, the land will belong to City, even Mr O'Brien accepts that fate, and this little hold up will not significantly impact on the work being done.

Other articles on the Etihad Campus can be found HERE




Twitter: @MikeWalshmcfc or @mcfcDSLeftFoot.
Facebook: David Silva's Left Foot

Thursday, 9 February 2012

City FALL one place in the rich list.

The latest football rich list from Deloitte is due for publication shortly and perhaps one of the surprises of their findings is that City, despite increasing their income, have dropped one place behind Spurs. But fear not.

On the face of it, this is a bit of a shock, but not so when you realise the reasons. The figures basically cover last season's income when Spurs managed to reach the last 8 of the Champions League and City reached the last 16 of the Europa League.

The current rankings are shown in the list below.

Rank - Previous rank - Club - Income (£millions) - Previous income

1 (1) Real Madrid 433.0 (356)
2 (2) Barcelona 407.0 (331.8)
3 (3) Manchester Utd 331.4 (291.5)
4 (4) Bayern Munich 290.3 (269.2)
5 (5) Arsenal 226.8 (228.5)
6 (6) Chelsea 225.6 (212.5)
7 (7) Milan 212.3 (196.5)
8 (9) Internazionale 190.9 (187.4)
9 (8) Liverpool 183.6 (187.8)
10 (16) Schalke 04 182.8 (116.5)
11 (12) Tottenham H 163.5 (121.9)
12 (11) Manchester City 153.2 (127.3)
13 (10) Juventus 139.0 (170.8)
14 (15) Marseilles 135.8 (117.6)
15 (18) Roma 129.6 (102.3)

*List taken from 'the Independent'
**Figures from last year's report taken directly from Deloitte and converted from Euros to Pound Sterling

The figures highlight several things, like Real and Barca's ability to negotiate their own TV deals sees them increase the gap between everyone else, Champions League football really is that important to revenue, as well as other things. But we'll focus on City.

It is believed that the combination of revenue from Champions League football and the record breaking sponsorship deal with Etihad will see City move into the top 10 this time next year. You can see an overview of City's previous year's finances and a predicted accounts HERE.

There is another thing that City have in their locker that the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs don't currently have. The ability to expand their stadium. It has been touched on elsewhere this morning and at this moment in time those 3 clubs are potentially facing stagnation, or even a reversal in fortunes due to their inability to expand.

There have been rumours for at least 12 months about plans to increase the capacity City's home ground to around 60,000, and with tickets for every home league game of City's selling out this season the Sheikh may be looking at putting that into practise sooner rather than later. As long as City have continued top 4 success with regular Champions League football along with the odd trophy thrown in for good measure, There is no reason why City couldn't climb even higher up the list in coming years.




Twitter: @MikeWalshmcfc or @mcfcDSLeftFoot.
Facebook: David Silva's Left Foot

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Sergio Aguero = Carlos +1

In the wake of recent comments by England's #1, Joe Hart about Sergio Aguero and the remote possibility that Tevez may actually have to play again for City I thought I'd run a very quick comparison of their on pitch performances.

There was much excitement and anticipation when City splashed out £38m on Argentine forward, Sergio Aguero. It's widely believed that he was brought in to replace the still AWOL Carlos Tevez after several transfer requests and high profile bust ups last season.

Some questioned whether Aguero was really 'all that' and the usual statements were made about his stature, the fact he was used to warmer climates and was he really going to be as good as Tevez? From the moment he stepped onto the pitch for the first time against Swansea, I think the majority of the doubters may  have changed their minds.

Replacing the injured Nigel De Jong, Aguero burst onto the pitch with a simply outstanding debut, setting up and scoring two goals himself showing great instinct, positioning sense and accuracy.

The assist perhaps showed off his ability more though. Tipping the ball up in the air and away from the oncoming keeper to then flicking it back over his head from the byline into the path of the oncoming David Silva. It was a real display of agility and desire.

There is no doubting that Tevez, when fit, not sulking or playing golf, is one of the best strikers in the world. At 28 he is now (or should be) at the peak of his physical and mental abilities, being young enough to still run around like a 21 year old rookie, and old enough to have gained all the necessary experience to have developed his game fully.

However, as good as Carlos can be, I feel that Sergio is already ahead of him in almost all aspects despite being over 4 years his junior.

As far a physical attributes go, Sergio is quicker and more agile while the two are very close in physical strength. However these are just opinion and speculation because unless you sit down with each player and scientifically measure strength, speed etc, you will always get differing views.

I don't want to go into great detail so lets just look at some basic statistics.

TEAMWORK

Carlos is a goal scorer, and is almost single minded in that aspect. There are many times he has foregone the better option of passing to a teammate to have a go himself (even Jo may have bagged a few more had Tevez passed to him, maybe). Despite that, Carlos has provided 18 assists in 91 appearances (1 every 399 minutes and averaged 79 minutes on the pitch per game) for City, which makes the number of times he chose to take the shot on himself even more frustrating.

Sergio currently has 7 assists in 33 appearances (1 every 323 minutes and averaged 68 minutes on the pitch per game) which if the trend continues will provide 22 assists in the same time as Carlos. Now that might not sound like a massive difference but consider those 4 assists could be the difference between 0-4 or 4-12 points (and several combinations between), it's those seemingly insignificant differences that make the difference in challenging for a league title.

GOALS

For all the other attributes a forward has and what he brings to the squad, his success and ability are basically measured in how many goals they contribute to the squad over the course of a season. With this in mind, both are top class forwards. Neither are out and out strikers despite sometimes being played in that role (more so with Tevez last season), but they both get (or got) more than their fair share of goals.

Carlos Tevez has scored a rather impressive 52 goals (in all competitions) in his relatively short City career, averaging a goal every 138 minutes of play. He pretty much bore the brunt of goal scoring duties for a while and for all his bad points, he was the go-to-guy when the squad needed a lift.

Carlos has 5 years more experience than Sergio in England, after joining West Ham in 2006, Manchester United in 2007, and then Manchester City in 2009 and has progressively improved in that time culminating in last season's impressive goal scoring tally last season earning him joint honours with Dimitar Berbatov for the Premier League's Golden Boot award.

Sergio has been in England and with City around 6 months and is already averaging more goals per game than Tevez. 18 goals in 33 appearances for City and an average of a goal every 125 minutes. Once more, if that form continues then he will have scored 57 goals in the same time Tevez scored 52.

One thing that Aguero is averaging lower than Tevez is minutes per game.  Carlos averaged 79 minutes per game before deciding not to get up from the bench. Sergio currently averages only 68 minutes. So not only is he assisting and scoring more per minute he is doing it whilst having less time on the pitch to do it in.

DEVELOPMENT

Just to remind you again that this is his first season with City, and he is also over 4 years younger than Carlos with another 5 or so years of improvement before he should reach his peak! That to me is simply staggering.

It's no secret that City have got themselves a world class player here. And after a relatively quiet couple of weeks and several murmurs about the rigours of the Premiership finally getting to the small Argentine, he reminded everyone just how good he really is with a man of the match performance against Fulham.

The talk was of how City's highly paid stars would cope with a proper winter and whether they would shirk their duties and fade away once the temperature dropped. Sergio clearly had other ideas.

He skipped about the pitch like an excitable child on a snowy Christmas day (I know we haven't had many of those recently so you'll just have to use your imagination). Rather than freezing to the spot, he was on fire with his drive, determination and athleticism.

Of course their are aspects of his game that have yet to develop fully, and he can sometimes rush his shots when he has a little longer on the ball, and visa-versa. But despite this, he is one of the most complete forwards in the league, if not Europe, and is still only 23.

The Premier League is certainly a classier place with him in it.




Twitter: @MikeWalshmcfc or @mcfcDSLeftFoot.
Facebook: David Silva's Left Foot

Thursday, 2 February 2012

The curious case of Freddy Veseli.

After a week or so break from blogging I thought I had best give myself a kick up the backside and get one done this week. And the topic today will be the laughable jibes of Frederic Veseli.

The 19 year old Swiss defender joined Manchester United on the last day of the transfer window in perhaps one of the strangest moves of the window. Now I couldn't actually care less about the actual transfer, and I'm not entirely bothered by what has been said either, but it's topical and something to write about.

The young defender failed to make an impact in the first team at City despite early signs of promise. He captained the Swiss U17 to world cup victory and has been a main feature in the youth ranks and EDS. He travelled to America on City's pre-season tour and took part in two of the games and did ok. Certainly nothing to write home about. The Closest he actually came to competitive action was being named on the bench once for a league cup game.

Veseli took to Twitter shortly after the confirmation of his transfer declaring his delight at joining United and delight that they had drawn level on points with City as well as adding #UNITEDCHAMPIONS to one of his tweets. Fickle much?

His agent felt like stirring it a little before the move had even gone through by saying he was moving to the "greatest club in the world" and that "l'avenir est ROUGE" (the future is red). Sounds like the next Kia Joorabchian if you ask me and about as professional.

It's not often players speak ill of each other when they've just left a club, but his actions prompted several of his ex-teammates to ask him to "show some respect", and quite rightly too. His actions showed a distinct lack of gratitude to the Club that actually brought him to England in 2008 and developed him to the point he is at.

Anyway, enough of that. What was the reason for such a move? His agent, Adam Bouskouchi, says it's because since City were taken over by the Sheikh, they have taken their focus of developing youth.

"These days, Manchester City are chasing titles and major trophies."

"It is difficult for them to have faith in youth because they obviously feel experience is the best way for them to get where they want to go.

"But that attitude didn't help Freddie, who just felt like he wasn't progressing. On that pre-season tour, both Roberto Mancini and - director of football - Brian Marwood said how well he had done. But since then, nothing."

The problem with what Bouskouchi is saying is that it's complete nonsense. It's no secret that City have had to go out and buy experienced players of a certain level to reach the targets set out for them. This also means that the current Academy and EDS have to up their game to get a chance in the first team.

We've seen a lot of the older EDS player leave recently due to them not being at the required level. And why is that? Because the bar at City has been raised almost immeasurably in the last 3 seasons. I have little doubt that Veseli may have had his chance in the squad had City been where they were  years ago, but they're not.

In the past City have possibly been guilty of looking at quantity over quality, with a large number of players coming through the ranks and getting a chance in the squad but only a small number of them were good enough to keep their place.

What City have had to do since the takeover is slowly move on the players that they don't feel will match up to the new standards, keeping the ones that they believe will, and bring in fresh players of a certain level to improve the overall standards within the youth set up.

One of these players, Karim Rekik, joined City in the summer at 16 years old. Karim almost instantly went ahead of Frederic in the pecking order and has been preferred in several games for the first team this season when the opportunity has presented itself.

In recent seasons we have also seen Dedryk Boyata emerge as a promising young defender at City and is currently on loan at Bolton to gain more experience. There are several other very promising players in the same situation as Dedryk and will be looking to push for a spot in the squad in the next season or two. So this notion that City have somehow forgot about their academy is a little stupid, almost as stupid as him moving to United to get a chance in the first team.

As the media like to put it, United are famed for their academy and ability to 'bring through youth', so much so that they still have 2 players of the class of 92 playing in the squad, one of which has just been called out of retirement because Ferguson doesn't trust his youth enough to give them a chance.

I wont go in to the reality of their academy and the apparent ability to bring through quality players from their own ranks. Those claims are largely exaggerated by the fans and media as they've had no one of real talent come through there since 1992.

Unfortunately for Veseli he was about 9th in line for a starting role at centre-back behind the likes of Kompany, Lescott, Toure, Savic, Boyata, Rekik, Meppen-Walter and right-back Micah Richards. Even at United he will be at least behind Ferdinand, Vidic

In short, Frederic is a jealous young man who was pushed further down the pecking order by a player 2.5 years his junior. Now at that age, that's got to be a little embarrassing so I'll forgive him his transgressions. But, just remember, it's not City's fault you hardly developed in the last 2 years is it?

It's not City's fault that several other young players are before you in the cue, so next time you have your agent speak out about City's apparent lack of youth development, stop and think for a minute and take a look around you.

But never mind Freddy, judging by your distinct lack of class and respect on the day of your transfer, you'll feel right at home at United.




Twitter: @MikeWalshmcfc or @mcfcDSLeftFoot.
Facebook: David Silva's Left Foot