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Manchester City
December 27, 2008
Posted by Wallace Poulter on 12/27/2008

The Rambling view from the City perspective

Boxing Day has come and gone. And in some ways the thrashing of Hull typifies everything that is right and wrong about City. This squad, as it is composed at the moment, is capable of doing that any particular week. That it doesn't is what drives some of us nuts. It would be too easy to point out that Vassell didn't start and Elano did and that was also the case when City knocked six past Portsmouth.

But instead letâ..s look at what City did. Nominally you could say that the team lined up in a 4-5-1. The standard Zabaleta, Dunne, Richards and Ball across the back. Kompany as the midfield anchor with Ireland to his right and Elano to his left with Robinho and SWP on the wings and Caicedo up front. I say nominally because as the game got under way there was a real ebb and flow to the formation.

Elano played a much more withdrawn role, closer to Kompany than I'd seen him before while Ireland roamed from the middle to the right making run after impressive run. Zabaleta would occasionally join on this right side with Kompany providing cover and even Elano would stray towards the middle and right.

December 15, 2008
Posted by Wallace Poulter on 12/15/2008

The Rambling view from the City perspective

Today Hughes tried something. A 4-4-2 formation with Vassell playing up front and Ireland out on the left. That it ultimately didn't work is unfortunate but here was something I had been looking for. A search for something different, to shake up what obviously hadn't been working so far. Much will probably be made of Elano not making the trip but given the formation choice that made perfect sense to me. Hang on you are saying, Hughes played Vassell and Elano didn't make the squad? Why aren't you going completely nuts based on your previous posts? Because City can't win every week but, today at least, logical decisions were made.

The board, the owner and the Chairman have a choice to make. If the decision is to keep Hughes then it isn't for days or months or until the end of the year. If Hughes stays then it's with a commitment to back him to the hilt through the end of the 2009-2010 season allowing January purchases in the transfer window, a full summer transfer activity and then to see the results of that work. I'm on record as believing that would be a mistake but to a certain extent it's a bit like refereeing. Right or wrong you have to be emphatic and be in control. The worst you can do is be wishy washy. The Ownership need, in my estimation, to make a forceful statement. Either Hughes is gone; and my choice would be Michael Laudrup, or Hughes will be backed even if the unthinkable were to happen.

It appears that the Portsmouth defensive midfielder Lassana Diarra will be joining Real Madrid rather than City. Diarra is an interesting case. Many is the time I watched a game with Hamann or Claude Makelele playing and was immediately drawn to their play; appreciating the subtleties of breaking up an attack or the short pass to start the flow going the other way. I can honestly say that I've not watched one Portsmouth game and been struck by Diarra enough to go back and watch the entire game just focused on the one player - which is something I do if a player looks useful to me. It is quite possible that I've missed something with him, and Real Madrid certainly think so, but not a loss that troubles me at the moment other than his knowledge of the Premier League.

December 11, 2008
Posted by Wallace Poulter on 12/11/2008

The Rambling view from the City perspective

You have to laugh really because it probably isn't good for your health to react in any other way.

Poor old Darius Vassell must wonder how much worse it can get for him. The symbol, through no fault of his own, of Mark Hughes' bizarre team selection and even stranger tactical decision making the former England international comes on for an unfit Robinho and City promptly lose all three points to Tim Cahill and Everton.

Seventeen days to January, repeat after me, seventeen days to January...

Really I'm somewhat at a loss for words. What can I say after a match like this that I haven't said until I'm sick in the face, never mind you the readers.

For whatever reason Hughes will not play the formation that Sven used to great success at the start of last year. I go back to my comment of a few weeks ago. Hughes, based on his record at Blackburn Rovers, can only win when he brings in players that fit his preferred system.

December 10, 2008
Posted by Wallace Poulter on 12/10/2008

The Rambling view from the City perspective

December 10th 2008, the day Mark Hughes lost his job. Oh he'll stick around for a few more games, possibly even a few more months but the day you start attacking the fans it's over. Case in point the managers defence of Darius Vassell where "some people" - that would be those of us who pay your wages Mr. Hughes - don't appreciate what he is doing for the team.

Well yes I agree; we fail to appreciate a player who couldn't complete a pass if his life depended on it, fail to appreciate a player when one on one with a goalkeeper you would bet your mortgage on the keeper and fail to appreciate why a player with fine in the box instincts is played out of position.

So lets put this in simple numbers that Mr. Hughes can understand. Since the start of last season City have played 54 league games. In games that Darius Vassell has started, City have won just 6. No that's not a misprint, 6. Overall Vassell has started in 26 league games. City have won 6, drawn 10 and lost 10. Compare this with games where Vassell has not started where City have won 14, drawn 3 and lost 11. Quite simply put Vassell turns victories into draws.

Wallace Poulter Wallace Poulter is an award winning video game producer, designer, industry consultant and writer. He has been a football fanatic since the day he moved in next door to Brian Clough. "Cloughie" being the acknowledged genius that he was promptly moved out and went to manage Derby. A serviceable senior school left-back in his youth, Poulter played one season of Sunday league football as a striker proving conclusively that he was a serviceable senior school left-back! Today Poulter remains involved with football as a licensed referee and most recently as a consultant on a Football MMO.

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