We’ve been in touch with Manchester City blog Typical City to ask a few questions of one of their regulars, David Mooney, to get some views from the opposition ahead of Sunday’s Premiership clash between the Reds and City.
Here’s what David had to say…
How do you assess City’s form since Christmas – do you rely on Yaya Toure too much?
Everything was going so well! We’d caught up with Chelsea and were dead level on New Year’s Day and in truth without really playing to our best for the most of the season to that point. It felt like it was an opportunity to kick on and push Chelsea to the limit if we could turn a corner with performances. Naturally, we then slipped seven points behind, crashed out of the FA Cup to lower-league opposition and leave our hopes in Europe dangling by a thread…
The run since Christmas hasn’t been great – we’ve struggled to score and struggled for clean sheets, but big wins over Stoke and Newcastle in the last two games do indicate (at least domestically) we’re finding our feet again.
In terms of Yaya Toure – he’s a great player and it’s clear City missed him, but that wasn’t the sole issue of the last month. Fernando’s been particularly poor, while Silva and Nasri struggled to have an influence in games and Kompany’s form’s nosedived. Again, though, they looked back to their best in the second half at Stoke and against Newcastle. I guess we’ll see on Sunday if the result midweek has knocked the confidence too much.
Are you a Manuel Pellegrini fan? Do you think he can succeed in Europe?
I like Pellegrini, but he can be infuriating at times. On Tuesday night, he seemed to be the only person who couldn’t see what was going to happen with the team he picked and his decision to allow Barcelona space in the middle was a catastrophe in the first half. He got slated for killing the game last time around and that tactic would have worked had there not been an error that led to Demichelis bringing down Messi (outside the box, I’ll add!) – but that said, he got a better result this season. The signs of progression in Europe aren’t really there – City scraped through their group this season, while last year (with pretty much the same teams) they were a goal off finishing top and won five of six games.
He can succeed in Europe, but whether he will or not is another matter.
What are your memories of last season’s 3-2?
Results don’t usually affect me too badly, win or lose, but that one was something else. I felt like I’d eaten a big meal and then had been punched in the stomach by a heavyweight boxer – it wasn’t nice. It was a fantastic game of football for the neutral – Liverpool bossed the match in the first half and City came back in the second after Pellegrini brought in Milner to change the game. Though it was another fixture where City rushed Kompany back to fitness from an injury when he wasn’t ready and lo and behold he was culpable in all three Liverpool goals.
Normally, I’d shrug off a defeat and doing a radio show on Sunday evenings often helps to get it out of my system – but not that week. I went home and went for a bit of a sulk before bed. That said, I think the sending off of Jordan Henderson probably helped us in the long run, since I think it seemed to knock Liverpool’s flow for the next few games. I did think you’d go on to win the league from that point, though – it just seemed like the momentum was with you.
Who’s been City’s best player this season?
It’s difficult to say, really – you could make a case for Toure being the most important since he was missed in January, but equally Aguero has dragged City to a result on a number of occasions through individual brilliance in a poor team performance. However, if the season ended now and we had to pick a player of the year, I’d probably go with Milner. He’s been asked to do a number of jobs across a number of positions and has been largely excellent in all of them – even if he’s had a few bad games recently. He has an unfair reputation among non-City fans as someone who works hard but doesn’t have much skill, but that isn’t true. His range of passing is excellent, he’s got a decent long shot on him, he can tackle and he can beat a man, too.
There are a lot of City fans who love Mario Balotelli and really believe he has talent, but he’s barely shown it at Anfield. What have you made of him?
At Liverpool, not a lot. I do think he’s been unfairly targeted recently – especially when he seemed to be hung out to dry by his captain over the penalty incident against Besiktas (after all, he’s taken a ton and missed one or two) – but that comes partly because he’s not produced the goods. He’s definitely got the talent and he’s probably going to score the winner on Sunday as tends to happen in football, but so far he’s not used it. He’s 24 – so there’s only so long he can go on having potential and I genuinely hope he fulfils it because he was a crucial part of a City team that won the league for the first time in 44 years and, as much as he created headlines, the fans loved him. And they still do, I’d say.
Frank Lampard has scored some important goals for you this season. What do you make of the situation of his signing?
It was bizarre. I don’t understand why nobody saw it would be a PR disaster when it emerged that he’d signed a contract at City with a view to a move to New York, rather than a loan. However, there was a lot of fuss about nothing in the end. He was a free agent and could be signed for nowt – and that’s what happened. And, in the end, he’s scored some crucial deciders – equalising against Chelsea, and winners at Leicester and against Sunderland.
Which Liverpool player would most enhance your squad?
I’d love to have Raheem Sterling in the City side. His pace is frightening and he’s undone us on a number of occasions in the past. Throw in some tricks and a good finishing ability and I think he’d offer something that’d be a lot more direct than City have at the moment. When City don’t have Navas playing there’s not a lot of pace for the counter attack and I think that’s one of Sterling’s biggest strengths.
Combined Liverpool-City XI?
The goalkeeper I’d probably just about go with Joe Hart… though I think both clubs have worries over their man between the sticks. Hart’s probably been a little bit more consistent this season and, while his distribution is woeful, he’s made up for that with some crucial saves. If we’re going on current form, I don’t think Kompany would deserve a place at centre-back – but when he’s at his peak he’d walk into most sides, so I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt, but only marginally over Skrtel or Sahko. I’d definitely throw Demichelis in as he’s been head and shoulders above any other defender at City in the last 12 months. To complete the defence, Zabaleta would make the cut at right-back as I think he’s the best in the league, and the left back I’d throw in Moreno – while Clichy and Kolarov have improved, neither of them have been brilliant and (even though I do confess I’ve seen little of him) I’ve been impressed by Moreno.
For a midfield pairing, Yaya Toure and Fernandinho were formidable last season – though the latter’s confidence was knocked at the start of the season. However, he’s shown in recent weeks – and in coming on against Barcelona – how he can influence a midfield, so he’d just about make the cut… Silva is a must, as is Sterling – and if we’re playing 4-4-2 I’d pair Aguero with Sturridge. If we’re playing some sort of 4-2-3-1, I’d play Coutinho in behind Aguero instead.
4-2-3-1: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Moreno; Toure, Fernandinho, Silva, Sterling, Coutinho; Aguero
I can’t see anything other than goals – just like last season. I’m going for 3-2 again, but this time to City. I’m hoping that the 120 minutes on Thursday in Turkey has been a hindrance, especially with City’s recent record at Anfield.