Ahead of Saturday's game at the Etihad Stadium, we caught up
once more with City fan Howard, from the website
He gives his views on City's title chase, the Champions
League, Manuel Pellegrini,
and more. You can also follow
Howard on twitter @howiehok34
saw last weekend's defeat at Burnley as the game that handed the title to
Chelsea. Would you agree with that or do you feel that City can still snatch it
away from Jose Mourinho's men?
Yes I agree - except for the
fact that many of us felt it had gone anyway, when you consider that Chelsea
have a game in hand against Leicester City. Itís not that Chelsea wonít drop any
more points, itís simply the fact that City have been underperforming for months
now, and there is little sign of that being turned around. Sadly weíre now
resigned to looking down the table and worrying about finishing in the top four.
The title is becoming a secondary thought.
night saw another early Champions League exit for City. Just what do the club
need to do to push onto the next level and seriously challenge for the trophy
Buy better players! A major part
of the soul-searching and post-mortem from our floundering season has been the
focus on our transfer dealings in the past couple of years. Plenty has been
spent despite some financial fair play restrictions, but the team has not
noticeably improved. In fact, the core of the side remains unchanged since the
Mancini reign. This is a squad that can still compete for honours domestically,
but cannot reach the heights of
Europeís elite teams.
As for how to bridge that gap - well finding another Lionel
Messi isnít easy, however much money you have. There is a big learning curve in
Europe, and City
may improve simply with experience, over the next few years. We need a manager
who sets up to restrict the opposition, rather than trusting our players to be
better than anyone we play, and we need the academy to start producing great
talent, rather than sourcing players in their prime with no sell-on value. The
academy will produce, I have little doubt in that, the younger age groups are
already showing great signs, but it will be a few years before we really see the
fruits of the youth set-up.
fail to win the title, can you see Manuel Pellegrini still being in charge at
the Etihad next season?
Yes, I can. No one agrees with
me it seems, the press keen to talk up numerous replacements in the summer, but
I see little real evidence from our owners that he is doomed. Thatís not to say
I definitely think he will be at City next season - he stands a good chance of
going in the summer, but that depends on replacements, and unless a prime target
becomes available, then whatís the point? Itís just a hunch, but thereís little
secret in the fact that our owners want Pep Guardiola as the next manager. On
the surface that might seem like a pipe dream - Manchester City donít take
Bayern Munichís manager away from them. However, his contract is up with the
German team next summer, he has moved on from very successful teams before, and
he is close friends with our Spanish executives. If City feel there is a chance
of getting him in the summer of 2016, then Pellegrini might survive another
year, as might our Spanish executives for that matter.
on from that, do you personally feel he should keep his job and if not is there
anyone you would like to see replace him?
Well that ties in to my previous
answer. I have defended him for much of the season - the guy won us two trophies
last season! However, patience has worn thin over recent months, to the point of
me wavering a little. The rest of the season will decide - if we slip out of the
top four, then obviously he is doomed, and canít complain. But essentially it
depends on who he is replaced with - if you can get one of the best coaches in
the world, then thereís little argument to say he should stay - but thereís
little point sacking him for the likes of Rafa Benitez, who will probably
frustrate in equal measure, at least domestically. Thereís one manager I want
more than any other, though I doubt it will ever happen - Pep Guardiola. Simeone
would be great too, but is riskier, and not very holistic. Still, it might be
worth it to see him throw a glass at Jamie Jackson.
clubís form been like in recent matches?
Wonderful. Total football, the
likes of which weíve never seen before.
West Brom should be very fearful, weíll probably hit double
figures - by half-time. Ok, maybe not.
Itís been very frustrating, underwhelming, plodding,
predictable and more. Weíve won three out of our last 12 games, which tells you
all you need to know. Put ten men behind the ball, and weíre in trouble.
of the season so far?
There havenít been many, not
that I would ever complain about being second in the Premier League and reaching
the knockout stages of the Champions League. THE moment though (well it was a
few minutes) was coming from behind to beat Bayern Munich. The atmosphere and
the joy in the stands was something I havenít experienced since last season, and
it felt great. It was also one of the few times Iíve warmed to European
game you would rather forget?
Thereís plenty Iíd be happy to
forget. All our domestic cup performances can go for starters, but the true
nadir was CSKA Moscow at home. That night was as miserable as a match can be. No
away fans, those that has sneaked in were thrown out by hysterical City fans,
the football was appalling, then we got two players sent off for good measure. A
horrible, soul-sapping evening.
There isnít one stand-out
candidate, sadly. Aguero is the best player, but injury has hampered what was
turning into a magnificent season in the months leading up to the New Year.
David Silva always inspires in parts, and itís been good to see James Milner
flourish before his seemingly inevitable departure. I guess Aguero shades it.
Sadly, plenty of players have
regressed this season, including giants like Kompany, Toure and Zabaleta, whilst
new signings have hardly hit the ground running. I am willing to give Mangala
time, but for £40m it is ridiculous that six months down the line he is not even
a regular. Fernando has been the pick of the disappointments. City have a
troubled history getting defensive midfielders, and Fernando has seemed out of
his depth much of the time, a surprise considering his pedigree.
tactics and line-up can we expect to see from City on Saturday?
You tell me, Iíve got no idea!
Part of Cityís problems have been not only the regular tinkering with the side,
which changes game-by-game, but the insistence on a 4-4-2 formation that often
fails. I expect the return of 4-4-2 for the West Brom game, and perhaps a start
for Bony upfront. Kompanyís partner will probably change again to Mangala,
Zabaleta and Clichy will probably return, Navas might start on the right, and
Fernandinho and Toure will be in the centre of midfield.
Or alternatively, he may do something completely different - you just never
and thoughts on Saturdayís game?
Well I canít say Iím confident,
especially due to playing a Saturday 12:45pm game after a Wednesday night
run-around with Barcelona,
and also considering your recent clean sheets under Pulis, who has had success
against us in the past. However, youíve got a few injury doubts including
Berahino, so I will go for 2-1 City. It wouldnít be the biggest surprise to see
us drop points though.