Now that United have successfully sidestepped the challenge of potential FAC silverware, we regroup for the quest of a Top 10 finish (without European qualification, naturally). Manchester City are next and we thought so much of their Fanzine Craic in August, we’ve gone back to King of the Kippax for more. Ged Isaacs kindly supplying us with his Mancunian insight.
Ged Isaacs, KotK: Nobody really knows. We couldn’t break down stubborn defences, seemed to take some teams as an easy three points, and when we finally clicked only scored twice despite hammering Villa but then conceded three joke goals. We also have a nasty rule that says each forward pass must be preceded by at least half a dozen pointless passes across our own back four.
TF: Since the 0-1 reversal at Sunderland, MCFC have enjoyed a run of 8 wins from 9. What’s been the main change from above?
Ged Isaacs, KotK: We seem to be getting the ball forward more quickly and taking our chances, however we still can’t keep a clean sheet away from home. At WBA and at Leicester in the League Cup we hardly gave them a chance until we were three up but then we just went to sleep.
TF: Aguero’s recent injury has been no miss due to the plethora of attacking options that Man City have. Negredo looks a real danger but who has been your pick since Aguero has been out?
Ged Isaacs, KotK: We don’t really have that many strikers though. Negredo has been the obvious choice but Yaya has managed a few free kicks and Navas has added a few. We may score a load, but with Dzeko out of sorts and Guidetti and Jovetic permanently injured we are relying on the midfield.
TF: The defence has been leaking a series of 2 or 3 goals in games during the season even when Kompany has been available. Any reason why?
Ged Isaacs, KotK: Easy answer is that we’re pushing more forward and leaving gaps at the back. Think back to Keegan’s style at both your place and our’s. We also lack real pace in midfield so the defence isn’t getting much protection.
TF: What has Pellegrini done differently from Mancini? In 3 years where can you see the side being under him?
Ged Isaacs, KotK: The main difference is the emphasis on attack, but there also seems to be a better man-management attitude that has got more from a couple of players. Football is about scoring and not conceding, if the table was based on that alone (i.e. just based on goal difference) we’d walk the league. But beating Spurs 6-0 and Norwich 7-0 counts for nothing when losing against bottom half teams like Sunderland and Villa.
TF: Barcelona is the toughest of tasks in the CL. Do you fancy your chances? Considering Man City’s failure to progress last year, would reaching the knock-out stage resemble success to the club and its owner?
Ged Isaacs, KotK: Reaching the knock out stage is progress and we knew we’d get a tricky tie. Whether its sufficient progress is another matter but 15 points from five games can’t be sniffed at. My head says Barcelona is a step to far; my heart says we can scrape a narrow victory.
TF: What are your views on the recently announced friendly with Al Ain in Dubai on the Tuesday after Sundays match and the contradiction with Pellegrini’ s views on the winter break?
Ged Isaacs, KotK: Most fans thought the idea of the game was utter stupidity. It might provide “warm weather training” as some claim (hardly a requirement in the Prem) but MP has bemoaned the lack of time to work with the players due to playing twice a week and this doesn’t help his cause. And the game is now off due to our reserves being unable to beat Blackburn’s reserves in the cup.
TF: Last season Man City fans carried the “£63” banner into the Emirates Stadium while other clubs including MCFC charge up to and over £50 themselves. Do you think supporters should challenge their own clubs to bring down away prices? Have MCFC supporters done this?
Ged Isaacs, KotK: There have been a lot of complaints about prices for home games but most fans accept we have to maximise income to overcome Platini’s desire for the CL to remain a closed shop. We need clubs to stop fleecing the fans, but they won’t provided they can sell the tickets. This remains the case in the Prem.
TF: What are your thoughts on Newcastle so far? What have you seen as our main improvement since the 0-4 defeat in August and to a lesser extent the 0-2 defeat in the League Cup?
Ged Isaacs, KotK: I don’t see enough for a detailed analysis but you seem to have taken your chances in many games.
TF: Pellegrini has a squad full of attacking talent. How would you fit Ben Arfa into the Newcastle team, a player who has yet to find form yet this season? Would he fit into Man City’s?
Ged Isaacs, KotK: Ben Arfa has always looked a great player. I’d have him in midfield supplying the front two, but that means having forwards who can make space and take advantage. At City he’d have to replace Silva or Nasri.
TF: Final table placing for NUFC and MCFC?
Ged Isaacs, KotK: NUFC – 7th to 9th but that could change with an astute signing or two in January. I can’t see you catching the current top six but if you want to overtake Tottenham I’m happy to be wrong. Everton look good now they’ve lost Gollum to the rags. MCFC – Top. Just because I want to see an improvement on last season, and I also think we have the strongest squad. But that doesn’t mean we’ve got the best team. We may have improved away from home, but we’ve still to visit Arsenal, Spurs, Everton, Liverpool and the rags.
Ged Isaacs, KotK: 2-1 to City
Many thanks to Ged for his time!