Facts are facts Manchester City have been poor this season

Manchester City lost to rivals Manchester United 2-0 yesterday in the infamous Manchester derby as they came up short once again this season.

For Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the Manchester United manager has seen his side knocked out of the Carabao Cup against City, although they did win the second leg, but he has now done the league double over Pep Guardiola and the current champions.

For bragging rights between the two teams, that will reside in the red half of Manchester and whilst Solskjaer and United will be praised for their upturn in performance and form can the same be said for City?

City’s season really seemed to collapse around November when everyone was admitting and seeing that Liverpool were going to win the league, the Reds after the disappointment of last season had more hunger, passion and commitment, the gulf between them and any other club but including even City was huge, there was always going to be just one winner, and everyone knew it even if some tried to pretend that the title race was still on, it really wasn’t.

What came to light was quick and that was after conquering the league and winning it two times in a row Guardiola set in motion the objective for the team to win the Champions League, which would be the clubs first ever win, and with time running out on his contract Guardiola knows it could be this season or never. It’s why City went to the Bernabeu and put in such a professional performance to come out of the game leading 2-1 going into the 2nd leg at home. City had just beaten a team who had won the competition four times in the last decade including three in a row, this was a huge statement. Could you think of an equal huge statement City have made in the Premier League this season?

Liverpool have blown everyone away domestically and let’s not pretend that even if City were much stronger Liverpool would be winning the league. But seeing a gap of 25 points, which could be 22 if City win their game in hand is simply embarrassing. City as champions, with the money they have spent on players, their infrastructure and having one of the best managers in the world should not be almost a quarter of 100 points behind Liverpool, and we’re not even at the end of the season.

Of course City are in 2nd place where they will most likely finish and have just won the Carabao Cup, for almost any other team this is a huge success and would be amongst their best ever seasons. When you’re City winning the 2nd domestic cup and being so far behind in the league isn’t going to cut it, no matter how harsh that sounds, it simply isn’t.

City have gone backwards this season, and even if they won every game from now on they would finish with 87 points, last season it was 98 and the season before it was 100. Indeed City are on a par to finish with the same points as they did (78) in Guardiola’s first season with the club. This all confirms that the Citizens have gone 1 step forward this season but two back.

City have lost 7 games this season and that’s more than they lost in the previous two seasons combined. There is no question that this season up until now has been disappointing for the club. You can finish 2nd and lose, but this has been a major step down for them. It is obvious that only seeing the sight of the Champions League trophy gleaming back towards them when they lift it aloft will be the only redemption for the club this season.

How well do you know English football? Want to challenge the best English Fantasy Managers? Play www.epl-fantasy.com now.

 

Champions League: Manchester City prepare for Real Madrid

Manchester City face Real Madrid on Wednesday in the Champions League Round of 16 with Pep Guardiola eager to make an impression following the news that the Premier League club are banned from European competitions for the next two seasons.

Sergio Aguero returns to Madrid – Atletico being the team where he made a name for himself – whilst the Argentina international will be hungry to make up for his poor performance against Leicester City in the Premier League on Saturday. Continue reading

Manchester City’s reaction to Champions League ban has been breathtaking

It would have been easy for Manchester City to have given up on this season after UEFA banned the club for what, in their opinion breached and broke the FFP rules, but the club will not lie down and a lot of that credit has to go to Pep Guardiola.

City who are in 2nd place have played two games since the ban was announced and have both won of them. They have scored 3 goals in those matches, and they haven’t been their greatest wins ever but they have shown the ultimate response, that this team will not give up and that this team are going nowhere.

The clubs first game since the ban was against West Ham in 18th place and had City put in a lacklustre performance after just receiving the news it may have been understandable. The game was always going to be difficult with Hammers boss David Moyes predictably setting up five at the back and trying to park the bus. But City managed to score 2 goals and get the win and they showed the fight, despite the threat that all of their efforts this season could be in vain with no Champions League qualification.

The exact same mind set went into their more difficult tie, at King Power Stadium at the weekend away to 3rd placed Leicester who have had a magnificent season so far. The game was very entertaining and at tImes City needed to ride the storm but they came out 1-0 winners. That was only Leicester’s 3rd home loss of the season and City had had attempts on goal.

It never looked like, not even in one minute of the game that City didn’t care about playing in the league anymore. That is why they have a very good manager in Guardiola, a man who never gives up the chase and even if he has been fortunate to coach teams with open chequebooks at the end of the day his man management skills are some of the best in the world.

It’s very clear that City are on a mission and that is to try and win every other game they will play this season. It won’t be enough to overhaul Liverpool, but one of those games they must play them and if they can beat them that would feel like a mini trophy in itself.

Guardiola has said it himself, does it feel like we don’t care, and it certainly doesn’t. He has now installed an us v them mentality and the club could actually be stronger and more focused after UEFA’s decision. He has also hinted at staying at the club, maybe even beyond 2021, personally that should be taken with a pinch of salt as Guardiola rarely stays at clubs for too long. Also if City do lose the appeal, a few players could leave and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Pep go too.

For now though City have reacted like champions should and they should be applauded.

How well do you know English football? Want to challenge the best English Fantasy Managers? Play www.epl-fantasy.com now.

The fallout from Manchester City’s 2 year Champions League ban

There was more controversy in the Premier League with VAR, namely in the Chelsea-Manchester United game where it seemed clear as daylight Harry Maguire should have seen a red card. But nothing was even looked into, and the inconsistencies of VAR really need to be looked at.

However VAR seems to dominate the pages when it comes to controversial moments but off the pitch the story that could change English football’s greatest superpower was doing the rounds and that is Manchester City being banned by UEFA for 2 years in the Champions League.

There is no proof of course that City have done any wrong doing, and we can’t say they have because the club have appealed UEFA’s decision. But after a thorough investigation UEFA seem fairly confident that they have a case against City, and together with the ban they have fined the club £25m. City can deal with the fine, even though that is huge compared to say, the fines that UEFA dish out for racism, but that is for another day and another story. But City can’t deal with not being in the Champions League.

The FFP is one of contention too- so City may have overspent and UEFA do not like how clubs can be run. At the same time the flip side to that argument would be how were City ever going to be able to catch up to Manchester United their eternal rivals? How were they going to be a force in Europe? FFP seems to target clubs who want to make investments and challenge the bigger teams. Are UEFA trying to stifle the progress of new clubs and just keep the Real Madrid’s, Barcelona’s and Bayern Munich’s happy?

Of course in an ideal world the FFP rules would make sense. But ideal and football doesn’t go together, at least in the top tier’s, it really doesn’t. When TV deals are being negoitated in one country to show live football for upwards of £3 billion over a 3 year period, that is off the ball in itself and makes no sense the money being talked about so TV can show a games of football. For this UEFA look out of their depth even if their initial plans was to make football fairer, it actually is doing the opposite. Maybe that is why we are seeing the same teams win the Champions League?

But City may not have a leg to stand on if they have done wrong and it is proven. Even if you don’t agree with the FFP rules surely every club had to sign up for it? City must have and if those rules have been broken, then what would be the excuse? Still there is so much power in football and City will certainly fight their case, one thing is sure we will learn just how much power and influence UEFA have in today’s game, and if City win the appeal it would seem that they would have fairly little.

There’s quite a fall out to be had too. Have UEFA shot themselves in the foot for example? If Europe’s most powerful clubs feel stifled by their budgets and spending, could they be banned in the future? Will the clubs simply form a breakaway from UEFA or create a Super League which has been touted for years? Do the big clubs need UEFA if they don’t like their rules?

Also for City if they are banned surely that will mean the end for Pep Guardiola. He has hinted he would stay, but really would he, when he is going to leave in the summer of 2021 anyway? Some of their stars could leave too, and whilst City would still remain a quality team and powerful one, if the appeal loses one suspects it could knock the club back a few good years.

How well do you know English football? Want to challenge the best English Fantasy Managers? Play www.epl-fantasy.com now.

Three players Manchester City should target in the summer

Currently 22 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool, it’s clear that Manchester City must strengthen in the summer or risk falling further behind Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side.

Whilst Manchester City haven’t exactly been terrible this season, the points gap to the league leaders is astronomical. But that just goes to show just how strong Liverpool are this campaign, with a slip up looking extremely unlikely. Continue reading

Was Guardiola right to say he would be seen as a failure with no Champions League win?

This past weekend Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said that people would see him as a failure if Manchester City did not win the Champions League under him, but was he right, or just being very hard on himself?

Under Guardiola City are playing their best football in the history of the club and they have won 2 league titles from the four possible to him. In his first season he had to see, Chelsea win the league, then City won two in a row amassing an incredible 198 points, an unbelievable total. This season Liverpool are surely going to win it and might break every record along the way.

But trophy wise Guardiola has won 7 with City in his 3 seasons so far. We can’t count this season given that the club are in the final of the Carabao Cup, there is also the FA Cup and Champions League to look at too, even if the league looks gone.

This is all well and good and being dominating especially in the Carabao Cup has been excellent, but then again it is England’s second cup. To suggest Guardiola has not done a good job at City is plain silly of course. It is not just what the club have achieved on the pitch. It is also the mentality which he has installed in his players. His one to one chats, the fact that he can understand problems at the club before they happen, he is an absolute master of this and the run his players had to achieve to fend off Liverpool last season was simply incredible. Remember as champions all of the pressure was on them.

But it is true there is that lingering feeling that City have not won the Champions League and it comes about very naturally when you see all of the money the club have spent. And of course they have Guardiola who won 2 Champions Leagues with Barcelona in the space of 3 years.

Guardiola was so successful at Barcelona he has become a victim of his own success. He has not won the Champions League since 2011 and what is happening with City happened at Bayern Munich- all dominant in the league but in Europe they kept falling short under Guardiola. But does anyone seriously think he failed in Germany? Surely not.

City will have to conquer Real Madrid in the knock out rounds when the competition resumes this month. This isn’t the same Madrid from a couple of years ago but then again City have looked fragile too, having lost 6 games this season in the league. Of note a Guardiola led team has never lost more than six games in a single season.

So failure seems the wrong word if Pep does not achieve European glory. Could have done better would be the teachers report though, only because of the money spent and the bar that Guardiola has raised from football.

How well do you know English football? Want to challenge the best English Fantasy Managers? Play www.epl-fantasy.com now.

A Premier League winter break? Not really as the brand can never rest

When a Premier League winter break was announced to begin this season football fans in England took that as the gospel truth, but like the use of VAR, in England everything gets tweaked.

Germany is most famous for its winter breaks which can last 5 weeks, although this season it was shorter. In Spain, Italy and France football stops for Christmas and players get roughly two weeks off from playing games. In England of course it has always been different with up to 4 games played over the Christmas period. For fans it has always been very exciting mixing up the holiday season with a bit of football.

Starting with Arsene Wenger’s arrival in the Premier League, a whole host of the best talent has come from the continent to manage teams and there has been mutterings about having the same breaks as the other major leagues. Only a few years ago it seemed that the Premier League could lose its Christmas games, before the most influential managers like Pep Guardiola stepped down from that idea realising that thete were interfering too much in a tradition. But it was agreed by everyone that a break was needed. Why would other major leagues get it and not England?

So this season the FA have listened and the break has been scheduled to start next weekend, that is great, except there are 4 Premier League games next weekend. What gives?

The answer is obvious. The Premier League brand which is the most recognisable in world football was never really going to shut down for two weeks. Instead teams at different times will get their two weeks off this month but it will be spread out, a little bit like how the FA Cup is marketed now and UEFA has done the same with the Champions League.

It’s all about marketing and keeping that product’s vital organs pumping. One can understand that but at the same time, please do not call this a winter break that would be insulting every football fan of the Premier League.

So just to be sure the following teams will be playing next weekend that is, Everton, Crystal Palace, Brighton, Watford, Sheffield United, Bournemouth, Manchester City and West Ham. It is also interesting to note that just one of the ‘big six’ teams will be playing.

The system in place is not terrible but it is typical that the break is being staggered so the money generated from games on TV keeps rolling in and so does the interest, of course.

How well do you know English football? Want to challenge the best English Fantasy Managers? Play www.epl-fantasy.com now.

Manchester City’s quest for a cup treble continues

Manchester City are through to the fifth round of the FA Cup after an emphatic 4-0 win against Scott Parker’s Fulham. Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and a Gabriel Jesus brace ensured City’s quest for a cup treble continued in a season that could still be an impressive one.

Despite being 16 points behind leaders Liverpool in the Premier League, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City find themselves in good stead in the FA Cup, Carabao Cup and the Champions League, a trophy that has eluded the blue side of Manchester. Continue reading

Is Pep Guardiola right to say that the league cup must end?

You’d have thought that if you’re club had won a certain competition two times from the last 3 years you wouldn’t be talking about ending it, but Pep Guardiola is right, the league cup must end.

Guardiola’s comments have come because of player fatigue and injuries not just to his own players but others also and he is blaming the fact that there is too much football. He was quick to point out the recent injuries to Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford which could mean both players will not be 100% fit for this summers Euro 2020 competition with England.

Guardiola said: “Eliminate competitions, take out this competition, so less games, less competitions, less teams, more quality, less quantity. People can live without football for a while. It’s too much. Start the season later after the summer. We have one game a week for a long time and then, after, we start having two or three in one week. In February it is one week, two weeks off. We have two games in two weeks then, after, we have 72 games in one week. It’s a little bit strange.”

The Manchester City manager made a great point about there being too much football. Football doesn’t really end anymore. With the season going on until the end of May, there are various ‘friendly’ competitions littered throughout the summer when major tournaments are not taking place. The introduction of the UEFA Nations League may be welcomed instead of friendly games but then again players become much more competitive in the hope of winning yet another trophy available to them.

The league cup started in 1960, so this year will be the 60th one and Manchester City ironically are the favourites to win again. They beat Manchester United 3-1 in the semi-final first leg and will face either Leicester or Aston Villa if they reach the final.

What is interesting is that in France the Coupe de la Ligue will be played for the final time this season. This is the equivalent cup to the league cup, which of course is now called the Carabao Cup because of sponsorship.

Guardiola’s comments may fall on deaf ears because the majority of clubs actually opt to play their second string sides in the league cup. This gives fringe players a chance to get game time and more experience. Guardiola has been known to play strong sides in the competition, some managers are simply wired that way to win all in front of them.

But the Spaniard does have a good point about there being too much football in the modern game overall. For now it seems that the league cup is very much here to stay.

Play the newest EPL fantasy game here https://epl-fantasy.com

Manchester City not replacing Vincent Kompany has cost them the Premier League

Pep Guardiola practically conceded defeat in Manchester City’s quest to retain their Premier League crown following a 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace at the Etihad on Saturday.

“We did everything to win the game and unfortunately in the end we lost two points because we could not stop the counter-attack. But we have to continue. There are still a lot of games to play. We have to try to secure the place for the Champions League next season,” said Guardiola post-match. Continue reading