City Struggles

February 15, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Adam Johnson, Carlos Tevez, Craig Bellamy 

Saturday’s uneven and un-inspirational FA Cup performance versus Stoke  confirms many of the fears supporters had about playing without either Carlos Tevez or Craig Bellamy. Both will be unavailable for tomorrow’s league clash with the same Potters, but cup tied Adam Johnson will be available.

Without Johnson in the lineup, City struggled for attacking link up play behind the strikers, and Stephan Ireland’s run of poor form continued despite his mouthing off about Mark Hughes during the week.

City’s recent FA Cup History has seldom if ever seen such a poor later round performance at Eastlands. While disastrous cup ties have taken place in the early rounds of both the FA and League Cups (most recently City’s embarrassing performance under Hughes versus Nottingham Forest last year), most poor Cup efforts such as the 2007 Quarterfinal rout at the hands of Blackburn have come away from home.

Roberto Mancini is now learning first hand about the grind of English football and fixture congestion. Often times his Inter Milan teams began to fade down the stretch of the Serie A campaign, sometimes allowing its title rivals to sense a collapse. While Mancini’s 2007 and 2008 Inter teams did win the Serie A title, their were wobbly stretches of football in February and March.

City’s FA Cup and Champions League qualification ambitions demand that these wobbles be minimized.

Whose Next?

The injuries to Benjani and Bojinov now doubled with Bellamy and Robinho both set to miss significant time begs the question as to whose next among City’s attacking players to go down. City is left with thin options up front. Darrius Vassell could always be thrown into the mix as conceivably could Elano, but among pure strikers you are left with a  19 year old Daniel Sturridge and two 20 year olds Ched Evans, and Felipe Caiecedo.

Mark Hughes decision to let Jo leave on loan to Everton looked like solid business two months ago but now has to be questioned. Nonetheless, City should have Robinho back sooner than Bellamy.

Wednesday’s match against Aston Villa, a side whose away form has been outstanding presents a challenge for the youngsters. Will they be able to step up?

City 2 F.C. København 1: Bellamy’s Masterpiece

February 26, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Craig Bellamy, Robinho, UEFA Cup 

As we speculated earlier this week on the site, Craig Bellamy and Robinho may not be the best of friends. But on the pitch they have developed a connection in just seven matches playing together that has City very much alive in the UEFA Cup.

After a lackluster first half of football, City scored two second half goals, and could have had more. Robinho was brilliant even though his finisihing touch alluded him all evening. City wins 4-3 on aggregate. Some other thoughts:

  • As usual Wayne Bridge was outstanding at getting up the pitch and joining the attack but today actually played a very solid defensive game as well.
  • Micah Richards and Richard Dunne once again did not have the best of games. The central defense duo has been struggling all year long and while Joe Hart didn’t deserve his ultimate fate, Shay Given was signed for a reason as we saw again tonight. Richards was particularity bad at dealing with a succession of first half Copenhagen corners.
  • Vincent Kompany did well playing in Nigel DeJong’s normal role, since DeJong was cup tied and is ineligible for UEFA Cup action.
  • With Spurs elimination today, Manchester City is the last remaining British club in the UEFA Cup.

Bellamy vs Robinho?

February 25, 2009 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Craig Bellamy, Robinho 

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Reuters Photo/A rift in the City Dressing Room?

Rumors have been abound for sometime that Mark Hughes distinctly British and disciplinarian managerial style does not sit well with City’s Brazilian contingent. Similarly rumors have begun to circulate in the past week that Craig Bellamy who trouble seems to follow has created a rift in City’s changing room with Robinho, the British record transfer signing.

During the January transfer window Jo was loaned to Everton (and will be sold this summer) and Elano was shopped around. Some transfer rumors claimed Robinho could be on his way out as well heading to Chelsea to join his former National Team boss Luiz Felipe Scolari.

The sacking of Scolari likely means if Robinho is going to leave City this summer he’ll head back to Spain or to Italy.So long as Hughes remains in control it’s tough to see Robinho working out at the club. Part of the reason is the January transfer of Craig Bellamy, long a Hughes favorite and a controversial talisman himself. Bellamy seems to always save his best for when he is being managed by Hughes: be it with Wales, Blackburn or now City.

Bellamy has long been the poster child for bad behavior among British Footballers. The Welsh International, captains his national side but is better known for his antics on and off the pitch.  While featuring for Newcastle,  during the 2003-2004 UEFA Champions League he kicked Inter’s Marco Materazzi (Although given the Italians antics perhaps he deserved it) and later that season threw a chair in training at John Carver then Bobby Robson’s #2 at Newcastle. I actually attempted to speak to Carver who now manages in MLS about this incident and got a cold stare and no answer, probably meaning it is still a sore subject for him.

Bellamy’s bad behavior continued after he left Newcastle: He allegedly sent nasty emails taunting Toon and England legend Alan Shearer after Bellamy had been loaned to Celtic. After being transferred to Liverpool he attacked John Arne Riise at a training session an incident which was ironically knocked out of the tabloid headlines by Joey Barton’s incident with a Liverpool cab driver a week later.

Robinho has his own personal off the pitch incidents to contend with. He has been accused of sexual assault in a Leeds Nightclub and when it seemed he may just be reunited with Scolari during the January window, he left the club and flew back to Brazil.

For the record Bellamy is backing Robinho and claims no rift has occurred in the City dressing room. But given Bellamy’s history, Hughes relationship with him and the discontent of City’s Brazilian contingent, can we really believe him?

Bellamy Proves His Worth

February 9, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Craig Bellamy 

Craig Bellamy has made an impression in his early days with Manchester City. The Welsh International has scored in two of his first three matches with the club and has looked lively going forward. Bellamy, is without a doubt comfortable in Mark Hughes setup.

Having played for Hughes at Blackburn, and with the Welsh National Team, Bellamy is less likely to wear out his City welcome than he did recently at West Ham, Liverpool and eventually at Newcastle. When inserted into the City attack, Bellamy compliments Robinho’s game well, having played previously with cosmopolitan styled sides in Newcastle and Liverpool.

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Telegraph Photo

Additionally, Bellamy is very useful in any British oriented tactical setup. Hughes knows that and that is why he made signing the player a priority for the January Transfer Window.

City took a perception hit with the failure to sign Kaka. But in signing Bellamy, and Nigel DeJong, Wayne Bridge and Shay Given the club bolstered every part of the side. In time, Bellamy may prove to the be wisest of the signings and those in the press that believe the club overpaid f <!– /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:””; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} –>

for him could be exposed as foolish