City were lucky to escape Ewood Park with a draw following a dismal performance against a motivated Blackburn side. Going over such depressing ground is not ideal Sunday reading, but here are a few thoughts anyway…
All The Bad Things
The match on Saturday included examples of almost everything that City have done wrong so far this season. David Silva is the best player currently at the club but he cannot do it all himself. In the absence of Zabaleta, Kompany, Toure and Aguero, Silva was the only one of City’s top tier main men on the pitch and that placed an unfair burden on him. He did his usual probing and creating but Blackburn defended well and in numbers, putting a lid on the threat for the majority of the game.
Speaking of which, even if Silva had laid up dozens of open goals on a plate, neither Dzeko nor Negredo looked much like putting them away. We were treated to another slice of evidence showing why that particular partnership simply does not work. The one and only time the two linked up effectively was for Negredo’s goal which was roughly as offside as Wilfried Bony’s goal was on New Year’s Day. Other than that they spent the game looking like strangers. Whilst Dzeko has improved slightly over recent weeks, the disparity between the quality of Negredo’s performances at home and away is becoming more obvious by the week.
On the other hand, neither were helped by the nonexistent wingplay, the flyweight midfield and the makeshift defence behind them. The regularly excellent James Milner had an absolute shocker. Fernandinho is starting to look knackered and was substituted for Toure in the second half. Garcia has been improving in recent weeks but does not have the skilset to turn a game around or pick up a flagging team. The less said about the lacklustre defending, and Boyata in particular, the better.
The new manager has been a breath of fresh air this year, reinvigorating the squad and giving us some great entertainment in the process – his impact has been analysed in depth by Ciaran Murray here. The manager does have a few blind spots though. Firstly, he has started to make a habit of underestimating the ‘smaller’ teams. Cardiff, Hull, Villa, Swansea and now Blackburn have all been taken too lightly. As said above, you cannot expect an easy game away from home (in the FA Cup no less!) if you leave all of your star men out. The obvious argument is that City’s expensively assembled squad should be able to beat Blackburn anyway, and that is true, but they didn’t and what looked to be the problem on the pitch was a lack of the leadership the team’s big stars normally provide. On the plus side, this means City won’t be travelling to the Middle East to play Al Ain so it isn’t all bad. Maybe that was the plan all along.
Secondly, Pellegrini’s difficulties with numbers seem to be multiplying. Generally it is a good thing if manager and club are in synch with each other, but if that manifests itself as Pellegrini developing ‘typical City’ tendencies then it might be best if they weren’t quite so close. It would be better if City developed Pellegrini tendencies instead. This time around, the word on the block (i.e. what the commentators said during the game) is that Negredo was accidentally substituted instead of Dzeko because the manager got the squad numbers wrong. This added to his other recent number foul ups represents a worrying pattern.
He was very briefly talked about above but warrants another mention. That was a really, really stupid red card and a truly terrible performance.
Written by Alex Timperley