Monday, March 03, 2008

City 0 Wigan 0

A game that was ultimately as dull and miserable as the weather turned out to be, and it is safe to concede now that in the wake of another win for Everton yesterday that the fourth position is now out of reach, and given our recent form and results (six at home without a win), the odds are that we will end the season out of the UEFA positions.

It is no secret that we are struggling in particular against sides who don't allow us space (as Sven has conceded in the wake of the Wigan game) and are content to sit back and challenge us to beat them. The disappointing thing is we don't appear capable of it and we are clearly lacking creativity, evident in the fact that the goals are drying up.

It is also the first real time that Sven has been called into question by both the media and the fans (with some particularly doom and gloom views out there), and - much like his time in charge of England, if things are not going well his substitutions are becoming predictable and not altering our tactical approach.

There was a stat over at mcfcstats, which shows we are unbeaten in 15 games this season when we open the scoring, and whilst this resulted in our points haul and winning streak at the start of the season, perhaps now that sides have become 'wise' to us, is it time for Sven to adopt a more adventurous approach?

A difficulty of switching to a 4-4-2 (the likely formation), is what to do with Elano, as the experiment of playing him on the right (at the Everton away fixture) was anything but a success. Added to this is the form of Elano himself, who has not reached the impressive heights of the early season for some time - despite Sven continually claiming he is ready to return to top form and whilst Sven's loyalty is well know, this is no time to be nice and if we are going to operate with a 4-4-2 (and Caceido is knocking on the door for a start) are we best placed to go without Elano as I believe Michael Johnson would be a better bet to partner Hamman or Gelson as part of a midfield two.

With ten games left in the season, we are in danger of having the season peter out into an 8th or 9th placed finish someway off the top six - although in fairness, there are two points worth mentioning here. Firstly, is that expectations at the start of the season were of a top ten finish, so it is conceivable that we have overachieved for the most part and secondly, and this a point that has not been brought up too often, the UEFA positions will almost certainly be attained with a record number of points, and if we do miss out on qualification, our points haul will possibly have secured qualification in virtually all previous seasons.

The season of course is far from over, and with ten games remaining there are thirty points of course to play for, but our last ten fixtures have yielded just eleven points (W2 D5 L3). A positive of this is we are avoiding defeat, but the likes of Aston Villa, Portsmouth and Blackburn are putting wins together so it can only be for so long that we keep looking to the next games as the one to turn things around.


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Anonymous said...

Danny, nice piece but don't let the sense of irritation that we have blown what was a possible 4th place get you down (and I'd counsel this to all City fans).
What we have is a work in progress situation with Sven assembling a collection of talented young players, quick in the main, comfortable on the ball and thereby able to play from the back to the front attractive football.
What we don't yet have is a team that can clinch a Euro place as a 'given'. I do believe that if the same rate of progress is maintained, we will soon, certainly in a couple of years. Frank is Asian and Asians have patience inherent as a philosophy. They are far removed from the 'I want in now' nouveau Russians.
We should all realise this and chill; remember, less than a year ago we were watching Psycho's Finest playing kick-and-rush.

Danny Pugsley said...

I was actually discussing this earlier today and, whilst a lot of the press have been focusing on the amount Thaksin would have unfrozen to throw at players this summer, I would be wary of doing that.

Much like the Arsenal approach, I would prefer to build on the talent we have got and to add in young, hungry players who have things to prove and want to achieve as opposed to an older set of players who have 'been there, done that' and may not possess the desire needed to take us on.