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LUCKY TO GET NIL: PRE-SEASON POST-SEASON REVIEW 13/14
Here at LTGN, we aim to give you the most up to date City news and reviews, and so in time-honoured fashion (if you remember the match reports of the title-winning season) what follows is our review of this season before it has even happened yet.
Manuel Pellegrini’s first season at the Etihad Road helm can certainly be viewed positively: the team having recaptured the Premier League title, made the last eight of the Champions League and lost out to a disputed Grant Holt goal in a reprise of the previous year’s FA Cup final against Wigan.
Only the undignified third round Carling Cup exit to Doncaster Rovers reminded us that the spectre of Cityitis will forever hang over the team like a dropped-one in the dressing room.
But, I hear you ask, what were the notable highs and lows of this breathless and breathtaking season?
1) The Rebirth of Richards
As early as the Audi Cup competition, the barndoor-shaped defender could be seen making mincemeat of the opposition. Finally back to full fitness, he was able to undertake the kind of rampaging runs he is capable of. OK, there was plenty of evidence that his positional sense is still somewhere north of Timbuctu, but you can’t have everything. Only thirteen first-minute injuries plagued him (an all time low) and he stubbed his toe on a stale sandwich at half time in the Newcastle game: but all in all there was plenty of evidence that for the perpetually semi-crocked brick sh**house this was a pretty good season.
2) The Case For The Defence
As early as the predictable defeat to The Arse, the gaping holes in the defence could be seen. Many pointed to the team's previously sound defensive record, though under Mancini this was due more to luck than judgement, as any witnesses to the hapless previous season would know. The purchase of Greek defender Stavros Popopopopopopopoplopopoplopolos did little to stem the flow, nor did the erection of a 4-foot brick wall just behind Joleon Lescott's usual defensive position. Yet, with a new, attack-minded manager, surely the best option was to Score More Than Them. This the team duly did, with a 78-76 victory over the Stretford Globetrotters in the last minute of Moysietime a particular highlight. The 0-34 drubbing to Southampton away was one to forget.
3) The Coming of Jesus
As early as the Audi Cup competition, the jet-heeled one could be seen bamboozling the opposition; resembling nothing more than a particularly irritating fly in their collective ointments. His secret appeared to be the old trick of giving the defender ‘the eyes’. The Star Trek-Medusa-Laserbeam stare, which the young Spaniard is capable of emanating (his eyes allegedly being made of pure gold) reduced many a left back to stone. Indeed, it was said that by the Everton away game, no-one could actually look at him, except in a mirror, for fear of instant mummification. This technique was particularly effective in turning difficult away draws to wins in the cold months of January and February. Many a Match Of The Day commentator also remarked on his consistency and how he had particularly ‘come to life’ after Easter.
4) Negredo – the new Torres?
As early as the Barclay’s Asia competition, the forward known as ‘The Beast’ could be seen face down in the mud, looking plaintively at the referee in the vain hope of a foul being given. Early newspaper reports remarked upon his ‘great touches’ and ‘superb movement’, and so these reports continued throughout the season – with unfortunately no reference being made to his ability to score any actual goals. At first, commentators and fans laughed off as temporary loss of form the stumblings and scuffings in front of goal which characterised his first season. This was a man who after all had been the third-highest scorer in La Liga. However things began to turn when in early November he missed a two-yard tap-in against Liverpool, which had actually been passed to him by the referee.
5) Balkans FC
As early as the Audi Cup competition, the new additions to City’s squad from the Balkan states could be seen talking to each other in a Cyrillic accent impenetrable to even the most well-educated opposition defender. John O’Shea certainly never stood a chance. Not content with buying Jovetic, Nastasic, Kolarov and Dzeko; Pellegrini acted quickly before the close of the transfer window by bringing in Milosevic, Karadzic, Radic; and (in a stroke of genious) coaxing the veteran raider Vlad The Impaler out of retirement. The resulting team was particularly effective in away legs of the Champions League, a 5-4 victory against Partizan Belgrade being the standout performance.
6) Stadium Improvements
As early as the Audi Cup competition, news was filtering through of a suite of improvements to the Etihad stadium - which included not only new pies but the actual ability to make a telephone call. As a result, 34 people were able to hear of the birth of their first child during a game – though not all at the same time of course. That would be silly. 147 people were able to break up with their girlfriends by text message. 2538 people found out that their girlfriends were sh**ging the milkman while they were at the game. But most impressively, the installation of something called The Internet at the stadium also resulted in an explosion of online ‘in-play’ betting. At one point in the season, nearly 47,000 supporters were able to make a winning bet on the team throwing away a three-goal lead in a hapless second half performance of ridiculous defensive ineptitude (2-1 with Corals.) But the most popular stadium improvement was saved for City square, which was blown to smithereens in a terrorist attack.
7) The Return of Mancini
As early as the Audi Cup competition, rumours began to emerge that, due to an administrative error, Bobby’s passport had been revoked and he was to be forced to return to England. Pellegrini’s equilibrium began to slip in early-season press conferences, when it emerged that a shadowy figure had begun to appear at the back, purporting to be from Gazetta Dello Sport. When once asked by this ‘reporter’ “DO-A-YOU-THINKA-YOU-CAN-A-DO-BETTER-THAN-MANCINI-IN-A-DA-CHAMPIONLEAGUE-BECAUSE-THIS-IS-FOOTBALL-AND-IT-IS-NOT-MY-I-MEAN-HIS-FAULT” the Silver Fox was moved to have him escorted from the premises. Down on his luck, Mancini allegedly took up a position waiting tables at San Carlo, before accepting an offer to take up the vacant position at Stockport County.
So there you have it, folks, another season to remember. CTID!