Mind, Norwich fans probably thought they would never play like that either. Fresh from the 7-0 and 5-2 tonkings of the Canaries and hard-of-thinking Russian racists, Manchester City have the more onerous challenge of Sunderland away. Stop laughing: we’ve beaten them in each of the past three home games. Can Steven Fletcher or A N Other emulate Darren Bent, Ji Dong-won and Adam Johnson to make it four in a row? Our City ‘Who are You?’ volunteer, Louis Baxter*, found in a Twitter trawl, thinks not.
This week’s second ‘Who are You?’ appears before Pete Sixsmith has had a chance to report on the Capital One cup win over Southampton. Thursdays are always a little strained at Salut Towers but Sixer will pop up in due course …
Salut! Sunderland: Three 1-0 home wins on the trot for SAFC versus Man City. Law of averages and form suggest we’re unlikely to win again but is it a fixture you’ve come to dread?
Yes and no. I find the Everton away fixture worse, because generally we get outplayed and demolished, whereas at Sunderland it just seems to be written in the stars that we can’t beat you, and will generally hit the post about a thousand times (the game where Ji dong-won scored a winner in the 93rd minute was the worst for that) and it’s hard to get too angry about that in the long run.
I feel we will win this time, albeit narrowly because are away form is so poor.
Joe Hart: whether guilty or innocent at Stamford Bridge, what do you make of the apparent dip in form?
100 per cent Joe Hart’s fault, that goal, in my opinion. Ran out like a crazy person, whether he shouted keepers or not, Torres would have gotten there before him, so Nastasic had to head it. Sunday League stuff.
How often do you long for the old days when CIty couldn’t be trusted to pass to one another let alone compete for the highest honours?
Well in my first season of properly following football, 1996 – as a six-year-old. We got relegated. Then we got relegated again two years later. Suffice to say, I don’t miss those days too much.
And do you feel all that money sloshing about at a few clubs is a healthy or worrying feature of 21st century football?
Depends on your perspective. It’s bad for the England team, it’s bad for English players. But without Chelsea and City’s billions, this league could have been very tediously dominated by Manchester United in the last decade or so. The money increases the competitiveness, but perhaps it’s also opening up a gap that can’t be closed. But in fairness, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid were probably doing that anyway.
See the SAFC v MAn City Guess the Score feature: https://safc.blog/2013/11/the-safc-v-manchester-city-guess-the-score-four-wins-in-four/
Agüero, Kompany, Dzeko, Toure .. the list of talented players is a long one. Who do you see as your key players and where are the weak links?
The key player is Aguero, eight goals in six games and playing the best stuff I’ve seen of him at City. Kompany is the best centre-back in the league in my biased opinion, and you can tell when he’s out for us. Our defence is very dependent on him. Silva is also someone you’ll have to watch as he’s been playing some scintillating stuff recently.
Weaknesses? Get at Gael Clichy. Hope Javi Garcia is playing and take as many shots as possible on our clown of a goalkeeper.
Compare and contrast Mancini and Pellegrini, how their styles differ and what you expect from the new man.
I wasn’t a fan of Mancini the man, but Mancini won us the title his way, which was as the Swindon Chairman described Di Canio ‘management by Hand Grenade’. But I think that philosophy is short term, eventually players are just going to get sick of being criticized and berated, often in public, and performance will drop.
I think it was right to replace him with Pellegrini, even if there’s a temporary drop off in competing for the title this season, which there could be. The football is more aggressive than under Mancini, who valued clean sheets first and foremost. We struggled for goals last year, but are already scoring freely under the new boss. I expect great things, but perhaps not this season.
Do any of the links between our clubs – Dave Watson, Claudio Reyna, Tony Coton, Adam Johnson spring to mind but especially, of course, Peter Reid and Niall Quinn – mean much to you? Or anyone my weary memory missed out?
Well the 10 million you paid us for Adam Johnson does seem mighty kind. I’m perhaps a bit young for Dave Watson, but I was a big fan of Niall Quinn at City, and I liked Reyna, who is of course now the director of football at New York City FC, our MLS franchise club. Something he got I think just because he played for City and is American.
Some of your supporters loathe the Citeh tag others really don’t mind, Where do you stand?
I think it’s funny when Manchester United fans call us Citeh, making fun of an accent that they’re supposed to have as well, but of course they don’t because they’re all from London. But it doesn’t bother me particularly, I’m sure there is worse trash talk.
Any thoughts on Sunderland: the club, the fans, the region?
I’m friends with a Newcastle fan, so have got great trolling value out of Sunderland’s last two derby victories, so long may it continue. But seriously, as a neutral it feels like Sunderland the team have been circling the drain for about three seasons now. Their football was particularly poor under MoN last season, and the whole Di Canio fiasco, though I suppose you could argue that hire served its purpose, wasn’t great for the club. Interesting to see how Poyet does.
Let me put you on a spot: name this season’s final top four, in order, and being as brutal as you wish the bottom three. In the unlikely event our clubs are not in one of the lists, where will they finish?
20) Crystal Palace
And how do you see City faring in the cups?
I could see us winning one of the domestic cups this year, possibly the Capital One cup, because it’s over and done with by February and won’t detract from a Premier League challenge.
Excited about Brazil 2014 or too obsessed with City to care too much?
I am excited, not really for England, but to see a World Cup take place in the nominal home of football, Brazil, and hopefully see the GOAT Messi in his prime, boss a tournament for the first time.
Tell me what most inspires you about the modern game – and what appals.
The most appalling thing about the modern game is Raul Meireles’s haircut. The most inspiring thing is probably that despite the Premier League siphoning away most of the money from the lower leagues, the vast majority of clubs have weathered the financial storm of the last 15 years or so and kept their clubs intact.
Will you be at our game and what will be the score?
I won’t be at the game because work, but I predict the score will be 3-1 to City.
* Louis Baxter on himself: I work in film and TV, though I write weekly for the football site Ballsy Banter (http://ballsybanter.com/). I have been a Manchester City fan since I got into football at the age of five, and being a Mancunian, City seemed the only logical choice. It’s been a fairly crazy club to support. In my 17 years of fandom I’ve seen three relegations, three promotions, a title, and FA cup, and 8-1 defeat to Middlesborough, George Weah joining us for about five games before changing his mind, becoming the richest club in the world and seeing the most dramatic moment in Premier League history. Its been a ride.
Interview: Colin Randall
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