In Typical City tradition, Bob Toole and Ciaran Murray take a look back at the month of that has been September. On the agenda are Edin Dzeko, Frank Lampard, atmosphere and Yaya Toure amongst others things. Check it out…
Bob Toole: September has been quite a month for City in which fans have been subject to good performances, bad performances and not a lot else in between. The erratic nature of our form is a bit perplexing. With a mixed bag of results so far I find it hard to figure out where we really stand as a team. Is it fair to say we should have done better this month even though we had some tough fixtures or is that expecting too much? Are you feeling positive?
Ciaran Murray: I’m feeling positive in as much as I couldn’t wait for that month to end. I think if we’d looked at the individual fixtures on paper, we’d have been happy with these results. I think draws with Arsenal, Chelsea and Roma, in a different context, could be deemed as impressive results. However, it’s the manner in which we’ve performed that’s left me glad to see back of September.
At Arsenal we threw away a lead and had to dig deep to claw back a point. Against Chelsea we dominated possession throughout the entirety of the match then had to dig deep to claw back a point. Against Roma we lead from very early, let them back into it and were arguably lucky to leave with a point. Good to avoid defeat in those games but three frustrating draws in their own ways.
Even in victory there’s been something lacking. I know the record books show that we won comprehensively in the League Cup and I was delighted to see us score 7 (SEVEN). But Sheffield Wednesday are a league below us and there’s a huge gulf in quality. They really held us in the first half and they shouldn’t have been allowed to. We also should have been out of sight against Hull after such an impressive start and again had to dig very deep. Whilst fighting for draws and wins is bringing that excitement factor we’ve always enjoyed about City, I’d love to see us playing well, looking composed and comfortable and gaining some momentum. After the Villa game there’s another blasted International break; just what we need. Following that, I want City to start firing on all cylinders and I want them to put together a run of results. Then I’ll be positive.
You used the word ‘perplexing’ and I used the word ‘frustrating’ with regards to our performances in September. However, it’s fair to say that there have been some decent performances from some of the players. Has anyone particularly impressed you?
Bob: I think we were all blown away Mangala’s debut and rightly so but I’ve been particularly impressed with Edin Dzeko. Surely this must be his most consistent run in a City shirt? It seems that he is confident and is relishing being a regular starter. Whether that status is acquired by default is open to debate given that we only have three strikers and that two of them spend half their time being injured. Nevertheless, it’s certainly given him a shot in the arm.
His performances, particularly against Hull and Roma, impressed me. His first against Hull was a throw back to his fourth against Spurs in the 1-5 at White Hart Lane in 2011/12 and I felt he was unlucky to be taken off against Roma. I took a non-City fan mate to that game and after a fine take down and run from Dzeko he remarked “who knew?” which I thought epitomised the well-known frustrations that many City fans have had with Dzeko. His hold up play is now excellent and I can’t help but wonder if Pellegrini focused on that in training such is his improvement.
It seems that he has endeared himself to the fans as well. His role for Bosnia in the World Cup I think would have made an impact and that wonderful article that surfaced at the end of last season about his childhood growing up in a war zone was as equally insightful as it was heart breaking. Of course, he shares a similar story with many other players from the Balkans of his generation which makes his achievements all the more remarkable. Now that I’ve said all this watch his form nose dive in the next month. That would be typical Dzeko.
Tell me, how weird is it seeing Frank Lampard in a City shirt? I can’t quite get me head around it yet but he’s had quite a month…
Ciaran: When he arrived and there were pictures of him with the rest of the squad in training I thought it was absolutely mental. Now, though, it feels like he’s been knocking about for ages. He’s the consummate professional with a job to do. And he’s just got his head down and got on with it when called upon. I can totally see why there are murmurs about extending his loan, although I don’t see that happening to be fair.
CAN'T STOP SCORING SUPER FRANKIE LAMPARD CAN'T STOP SCORING pic.twitter.com/H5lMzLdHLn
— ManCityPhotos (@ManCityPhotos) September 27, 2014
The people around me at the Chelsea game could not fathom Pellegrini’s decision to bring Lampard on. I have to say I had my doubts, too. But what a cameo appearance that was. I really enjoyed that game, despite the result, as it had so many subplots and so much drama. The non-celebration, cause of so much faux anger on the Internet, was really understandable in this case. He’s a proper full-scale Chelsea legend. Like he is the player I’ll tell my grand kids about when they ask me what it used to be like supporting Chelsea before changing to support City…
Seriously, though, what a guy. He looks beautiful in sky blue and he’s not fat at all. I can’t believe he scored four goals in three games. He’s also a perfect foil for James Milner (who is having an outstanding season, by the way) and really is one of those ‘right place at right time’ kind of players. I really, really like him. And you know what? I’m glad he’s had a little while at another club just to show what he can do. I think it’ll only heighten his legacy.
Lampard’s surprising move to City has reminded me a little bit of Michael Owen’s move to United. And speaking of ex-red twerps who fill you full of rage and are full of sh*t on Twitter, I’ll ask about Rio Ferdinand. He’s tweeted some blinkered, biased and unkind words on City, their fans and the Champions League. You were one of the dozen or so at the game the other night. How did you rate the atmosphere and what’s your take on the empty seats and general apathy towards the competition?
Bob: There was certainly something lacking in the atmosphere at the Roma game, no doubt, but the way it was reported suggested it was an exception whereas most games lack a really good atmosphere these days. It’s not surprising though, in my opinion. With tickets ranging from £35 – £45 for a Tuesday night game you’re going to be hard pushed to sell out. Others have covered this topic with far more eloquence that I ever will but, in short, is just shows that many fans have already reached breaking point in terms of the cost of football and are willing to sacrifice games like this.
“Don’t walk away in silence”
When Francesco Totti was substituted some of the crowd chose to boo him, which I found strange, whereas a large number of the supporters near me applauded him, which was a nice touch. What really grated on me was that certain journalists chose to report that he was wholeheartedly booed and others said he was applauded and I was sitting just a few rows in front of the media section. In reality, he got both. The problem I see with that is that those who didn’t attend the game are forming an opinion about the atmosphere without really being presented with the facts.
As for Rio Ferdinand’s comments, it just goes to show the gap between multimillionaire players and fans is wider than ever. It’s sad to think that a man who has made a living largely thanks to the commitment of fans that follow their teams around the country could use a topic like this for “banter” purposes. He hilariously suggested that fans not at the ground would rather watch Ramsay’s Kitchen but like you said to me “No, they’ll be watching the game”. What a moron.
How many empty seats are there at the city vs Roma game by the way….big CL game & fans would rather Ramsays Kitchen or something at home
There is something of a divide amongst the Typical City team about our thoughts on the Champions League and I must admit that I am one of those with a sense of apathy towards the competition. I think our under performance in the tournament to date plays some part but also the hype surrounding the competition gets to me a bit. It is portrayed as some kind of promised land or Holy Grail whereas in reality it’s just…not. It’s just football against teams who are invariably better than us. Of course I want to see City do well but I’m in no mad rush to see it happen. What worries me is that if we fail to get out of the group this year is that it may put Pellegrini’s job under threat which would be a real shame, in my opinion.
Yaya Toure was a target of abuse during the Roma game and one fan near me declared him a “waste of a shirt”. He has certainly not had a great start to the season but what are your thoughts on the man and his standing amongst the City faithful?
Ciaran: I’ve been disappointed with Yaya’s start to the season, ain’t no lie. When a player has the ability that he has, expectations are very high. He’s simply not meeting those expectations so far this campaign. He was so often looked upon as a “first name on the team sheet” player for us. You’d have to argue that that’s in serious jeopardy at the moment.
He’s always had a reputation with Blues as being a bit lazy and lethargic. He was forgiven because he’d score a 30 yard screamer or run from his own half with the ball and somehow forge a goal. His goals to win us the FA Cup, that brace against Newcastle in 2012, the absolute beauty against Sunderland at Wembley last season…they’ll never be forgotten. But he’s in danger of wrecking his legacy at the moment if something doesn’t change.
On Football Focus a few weeks ago Mark Lawrenson said that Toure needs to be playing every week and that City can’t afford to not start him. He also said that City played at the Emirates so I’m not sure how much we can trust that view. The “waste of a shirt” argument is, unfortunately, quite valid at the moment as teams are seeing Yaya Toure as a weak spot and playing round him or through him. Roma had an extra man in midfield on Tuesday and Yaya’s current form played right into their hands.
You know those wildlife shows where a pack of wild animals round on another bigger, stronger but more vulnerable animal? That’s what this is reminding me of. Yaya seems wounded and the vultures are closing in. Whether it’s his pride that’s damaged; his age is catching up with him; he (like me) is sick to death of birthday jokes or his heart’s just not in it any more, I’m not sure.
What I do know is that, with Fernando set to return, Fernandinho coming back to his last season form, Lampard getting goals from midfield and Milner making a real case for starting every game (whatever the position), Toure’s starting berth-days might be numbered. I hope he proves us all wrong. He’s pulled us out of trouble so often in recent seasons. Now the question is: can he pull himself out?