Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Three Things We Learned This Weekend

We All Owe Mancini An Apology

Roberto Mancini has never had an easy ride in the English press.  He's been accused of being "too defensive", of being "happy to not lose games rather than wanting to win".  Some have even said he was tactically naive, firm in the belief that City will never win the league with the Italian at the helm.  

The Urbanite had the same beliefs, and with valid reasons (remember the away games at Arsenal and Liverpool, anyone?), but this season Mancini has unleashed all the shackles on his team and told them to go for it.  And go for it  they have.  They have now scored 14 goals in three games, two of those away from home, and in Mario Ballotelli a player that ceases to surprise as he asks 'Why Always Me?'.  

City can definitely win the league and are rightfully favourites.  If they continue spanking teams home and away they will walk away with it.  Ferguson has some work on his hands.  

It's Time to Take Newcastle Seriously

Who would have thought that Alan Pardew would be sitting comfortably nine games into the season after the summer Newcastle have had.  Failure to sign a striker to replace Andy Carroll, Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan leaving in acrimony and furthering tensions between the owner and the fans left many pundits predicting Pardew being the second manager (after Steve Keane) to lose his job.  

But the Newcastle manager has created a solid team this season that has left the Toon Army asking "who "was that Andy Carroll guy anyway?" and forgetting that they still have 35 million still in the bank.  Players like Ryan Taylor, Jonas Gutierrez and Demba Ba have all contributed stellar performances and Newcastle can comfortably aim for a top ten finish.  

Some papers have got a bit carried away, with talk of a push for fourth place.  But Newcastle can go places if they build on these performances and strengthen in January - if Mike Ashley can put his hand in his pocket for once in his life Newcastle can be a force once again.  

Liverpool May Not Be Clinical Enough For a 4th Place Finish

Liverpool are not in a crisis.  They have produced some good performances this season, playing the kind of football that King Kenny himself would have been proud of.  But despite the free flowing football, the  Reds only sit two points above an Arsenal team that was in turmoil and one point behind Spurs, who have a game in hand.  

All this is because Liverpool have an inability to kill off games.  It was something that creeped into the Benitez era, with the team enjoying a lot of possession but failing to create enough chances to win the game.  Under Dalglish, Suarez and co have been creating multiple chances but have been wasteful in front of goal.  Against Norwich, the Uruguayan broke the record for having the most attempts on goal, yet scored none.  

Now no-one would criticise Suarez for his performances this season, as the striker has bedazzled defenders and spectators alike.  But Liverpool fans will worry that until they begin to convert all this good play, they run the risk of losing ground on their rivals.   

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