Before you ask, yes I am the guy seen on Sky Sports News with my Dad, holding a tea towel with the words ‘Nice guy, terrible manager’ scrawled on it when ousting the Spaniard. I have since rethought the ‘nice guy’ part but let’s just save the discussion and autographs for later, please. Can’t we all just move on? Ffs.
Anyway, to the new era. I’ve read a few things on Twitter and on various forums and listened to numerous podcasts discussing our tactics and substitutions in the City game. Just thought I’d add my own personal opinion, based on a life of obsessive football-viewing, reading, managing, playing, listening and general non-stop thinking. I’ll try and stick to tactics and major game talking points rather than a review of the game in general as there are plenty of those around. It’s the moaners and the negative bastards I want to target here.
We played a 5-2-2-1 formation against City, with the idea that their threat is largely runners from deep, with chipped balls played over the top of defences, in the ‘2’ part of a ‘1-2’. Our 5 at the back with 2 deep-lying midfielders (the term ‘sitting’ always pisses me off – nobody is playing a ‘sitting’ position during a game. Except Niasse. Wherever he may be…bless him) helped us to cover the runners from deep; and against Guardiola teams they come from full back, out wide, and central attacking midfield positions. We looked solid, very solid. Strangely solid compared to the last 23 years of my Everton-viewing, but not strange considering the new spine we bought from two poor-to-average Premier League sides.
One chance was created that I can think of for them, when Silva hit the post. We didn’t really look like conceding, we looked relatively comfortable, despite the constant City possession and the pretty impressive (even to my Dad, who hates Guardiola and anything he does) one touch passing and moving style of play. Then, almost immediately after Silva smashed the post, we romp up the other end and pressurise Sane into a mistake – and thankfully The Boy Wonder was there to set up Rooney for his second goal in two games.
Let me just take a moment now to comment on the negative bastards all over the place asking why we hadn’t started Mirallas and Lookman, or why we had started with 5 at the back, or why after spending £150m (net spend! Arghhh! Net spend! He mentioned it, the prick!) we still went away to City and basically played very defensively and tried to stifle them. I’m not going to get into the Mirallas one – that’s an article for another day. The useless Blue bastard. Yes we have spent an exciting amount of money and have created the best squad in my short lifetime of football. But Man City have had 10 years of unlimited money and have spent around £1.1billion since they had their take over. We have had Moshiri for around 3 transfer windows and he has revolutionised our club. Moshiri isn’t in the same league as Sheikh Mansour for spending either, lest we forget. Yet for some reason, people are moaning saying we should go all-out attack against one of the best sides in the world, one of the best attacks in the world, one of the best managers (sorry Dad) in the world? It would be absolute suicide and we would have got embarrassed. Thankfully, we were sensible and got an early season point, away from home, against the title favourites, on the week we have 3 solid away games in 6 days. I would have thought that Koeman has one message to those moaning gimps – je weet niets! (Dutch Game of Thrones reference, that… Cheers.)
So these red cards. I’ll do both together for ease and comparison. In my opinion, both were red cards. No hang on, let me explain first ffs. Walker’s was fairly easy imo. Did he touch him massively with his shoulder? Yeah, probably. I think the thing that got him in trouble was the look he gave DCL before he did it, the moron. I am reliably informed by a defender mate of mine that its common practice to look at the attacker before challenging for the ball. This mate of mine gets booked most games and sent off several times a season. So let’s ignore that notion. Walker, red card. No complaints, DCL made a meal of it but he also got a shoulder in the jaw so it was stupidity from the most expensive defender in the world. Schneiderlin’s first was a booking, as was his second. Did he get the ball? Yeah. Did he get Aguero? Yeah. Was it in that order? Possibly. Either way…just don’t fucking do it. Don’t do it! Ever since his booking in the first half, he was walking a tight rope. Pep was remonstrating with the officials as the second half was about to begin, saying that Walker didn’t deserve his red – you can clearly see the 4th official saying ‘I know, we’ve seen it at half-time’. From that moment on, you know the ref is gonna even it up at some point. We didn’t give him the option thankfully, until too late for it to make an impact. He had to walk, it was a silly challenge and the body shape Aguero took up made it too difficult for Schneiderlin to cleanly get the ball and nothing else. Aguero made a meal of it but so did DCl. No complaints from me – except to MS…just don’t give the referee the decision to make next time ffs.
Last thing I’ll comment on is the tactics change, because I’ve seen people moaning (obviously) about that aswell. City went down to 1 striker when they brought Jesus off. We had 3 CB. If you watch the whole second half, the pattern of play didn’t change – City were attacking and creating goal-scoring chances and threatening positions all over the shop. As mentioned before, City’s main threat is from runners from deep, they had about 3 CAM and 2 wingers on at once and we had 3 CB stood 20 yards away from them, marking one small striker. We HAD to change it to get closer to the CAM. Did it work? Possibly not, because we conceded. But that was a defensive error from an otherwise superb Holgate. It wasn’t due to us lacking a CB or us not marking their striker with our 2 spare CB. It was an error. I was calling for the same changes that Koeman made, from half-time (honest, ask my family). It made managerial sense, and footballing sense. We’d rather have Sigurdsson and Klaassen closing down Silva, De Bruyne and Silva than Williams 30 yards from goal, wouldn’t we? Exactly.
We had 10 men in the second half and didn’t create enough on the counter – I think RK will be annoyed with that and that’s clearly a focus going forward, with his insistence that we need more ‘productivity’. That will come in time, and time is something that City have had to assemble possibly the best squad in the world. We can’t be annoyed at getting a point there as not many other teams in the league will get as good a result as we got. We should be aiming to get 3 points every single game we play because…Nil Satis Nisi Optimum. We nearly fucking got them as well.
Onwards and upwards.