The City Summary (November 19, 2013)

Manuel Pellegrini insists individual errors and not tactics are the reason for City’s woeful away form so far this season. City are 15th on the away form table and this problem precedes Pellegrini, but has worsened this season.

Pellegrini told the press while in Abu Dhabi:

“It’s not a question of tactics. We’ve won just four points out of 18 away from Etihad, but I think we are not playing badly.

“If you review all the matches, we had a lot more chances than the home teams, but some individual mistakes stopped us from getting the three points. I am absolutely convinced by the way we’re playing.

“I’m always thinking about our performances, not only when we’ve had a defeat but also when we win.

“Of course, the best thing before the international break is to win because then you’ve got 15 days without a match, and in our case we’re left with just four or five players, no more, to prepare with during that time.”

He does have a point. In the majority of City’s away games, the Blues have dominated possession and created more chances, but a series of calamitous errors or other unfortunate events (such as an unpunished elbow to Milner’s neck) have led to one of City’s special talents: snatching defeat from the jaws of victory (or at least a draw).

Joe Hart played his first match since the Chelsea fiasco today, starting for England against Germany in their glamour friendly. It has been close to a month since we last saw Joe anywhere but the bench, so all eyes were on him.

Hart was untested for over half an hour as a well understrength German side struggled to click, but made an incredible reflex save from a powerful German header in the 38th minute. Unfortunately, Per Mertersaker scored another header seconds later and there was little Joe could do about it.

England’s number one made three other good saves in what was a strong performance by him, one that will certainly have been noted by Pellegrini. Without his shot-stopping, it could easily have been 3 or 4-0.

The only real concern was another example of Joe rushing hastily off his line and out of the box, which is what led to that Torres goal we’d rather forget. It wasn’t punished today, but has become a bad habit of his.

Did he do enough to force his way back into the City team ahead of Pantilimon (who was an unused sub for Romania today)? We’ll find out on Sunday…

John Guidetti’s comeback gathered momentum today when he lined up for Sweden’s U21 team against Malta U21s in the Euro U21 qualifiers.

This was Guidetti’s first international appearance for over 1 1/2 years, his last coming for Sweden’s senior team against Croatia when he came off the bench to partner his idol Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front.

Guidetti was in line for a spot at Euro 2012 before the career-threatening illness that stole a year of his career, but today’s appearance for the U21s showed that he is starting to find form and fitness.

Guidetti and Sweden were too good for a completely outclassed Malta team, the young City striker scoring two goals in the first 27 minutes. He looked dominant and quite sharp, despite being some way off 100%, and managed 60 minutes in a good run-out.

Guidetti spoke to TV4 recently about his future, saying he wants to play football whether it is at City or elsewhere. This has led to the predictable “Guidetti to quit City” style headlines from the media, but a loan move could be the more likely option.

The sensational Sergio Aguero was on fire again in Argentina’s friendly against Bosnia in St. Louis, a match also featuring his City team-mates Pablo Zabaleta and Edin Dzeko. Kun bagged a brace in Argentina’s 2-0 win, the second (below) a beauty with his left foot.

Speaking of Aguero, he gave some positive comments to Canchallena in his homeland about life at City:

“The truth is I’m very happy. The club treats me very well. I can live quietly, it’s different to Spain or Argentina.

“All I like to do is enjoy football, rest and stay home, then go out for a walk or eat in peace.

“For a player it’s good not to live in a crazy place, because it’s important to have a clear head when you play.”

Though the press can’t help but link him with Real Madrid and Barcelona every week, he does genuinely appear very happy with life in Manchester, where he is a club icon rather than the supporting player he perhaps would be at one of Spain’s big two.

Patrick Vieira has showered praise on Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba and believes City made a mistake not to sign a player the City EDS coach describes as “more technically skilled” than himself.

City had an opportunity to grab Pogba after his contract at United expired, and would have had to pay a tribunal fee far lower than what his value is now (plus a £1.6m fee to his agent Mino Raiola).

However, club officials didn’t press ahead with their interest in the (now) 20-year-old and instead splashed out a total of £28m on Javi Garcia and Jack Rodwell, neither of whom have been a success so far.

Pogba is now considered one of Europe’s best young midfielders and City were recently linked with a £40m swoop for the France international. Juventus are generally not a selling club and if City do go back for him, he’ll cost tens of millions more than he would have in the summer of 2012.

Fernandinho is puzzled as to why he continues to be overlooked by Brazil national team coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. The dynamic midfielder, who has been in excellent form for City, had a good run in the Brazil national team under former coach Mano Menezes, but Scolari has opted not to use him.

Fernandinho told iG (translation via Sky Sports):

“Many people ask me why I am not called up, especially after I joined Manchester City.

“My only answer is that I don’t know, some team-mates are surprised too, they don’t know why that happens.

“I have been playing as a holding midfielder, I could do the same for the national team without any problems, maybe playing along with Paulinho, staying back to allow him to advance, more or less like I do with Yaya Toure.

“I don’t know why [I haven’t been called up] but I am in a new stage in England, in a new team and a new position, I work every day thinking about returning [to the national team].

“I’ll be happy to help and be part of the national team in any position. What I want is to be called up, the manager can then see later where he fields me.”

Oh look, it’s a goalkeeper story. This one comes from Marca, a Spanish national daily sport newspaper, but they are a notoriously pro-Real Madrid and this particular story involves a Barcelona player.

That player is Victor Valdes, previously linked to City, and according to Marca he will be City’s main choice to replace Joe Hart if England’s number one fails to convince Pellegrini before the end of the season.

Valdes has been linked more often with wealthy French outfit Monaco, who are said to have offered him a staggering financial package worth £175,000-per-week plus a big signing-on fee, but Valdes has yet to agree to any contract offer.

The problem for City, according to Marca, is that Valdes may not wait until the end of the season to decide. He is free to openly negotiate with clubs from January, with his Barca deal set to expire next summer, and City may be more inclined to assess Joe Hart for the remainder of the season before making a decision.

Two big stories on the blog you really should check out if you haven’t already:

City owners hold safe-standing talks from this morning and the exclusive from yesterday with details that suggest there’s a chance Lionel Messi could one day join Manchester City.


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