With over half of the season gone Stephen Tudor marks the Manchester City books.


Hauling back an eight-point deficit despite injuries to Kompany, Silva, and our entire strike-force has brought back the swagger and belief that was sorely missing until City’s sensation comeback to Bayern in November.

Aguero’s form until he was Evertoned was just other-worldly, a one-man war who kept the trench safe while team-mates struggled to load their guns. It was a privilege to watch and it continues to blow my mind that he accomplishes such feats in a City shirt.


Prognosis for City’s lacklustre defence of their title was easy. Diagnosis was much harder.

It was clear to see that players who were blisteringly brilliant last term were now looking jaded and going through the motions.

It was painfully apparent that City were getting far-too-easily exposed at the back whether two or three were being stationed in midfield.

It was increasingly obvious that something fundamentally was wrong.

But what? And why?

For three months nobody seemed to know for sure yet everybody aired an opinion.

How’s the gaffer doing? 

After exasperating the City faithful by stubbornly sticking to a two-man midfield that only served to weaken us I feared the worst for this season.

The injuries to key personnel however forced Pellegrini to seek out a plan B and C and the strength and ingenuity he’s shown in adversity has really impressed me. Seems strange to say this about a manager who guided us to a domestic double in his first season but he’s genuinely won me over.

Which player is literally pulling up trees?

Credit must go to Navas and Clichy who are both turning around early season criticism by digging in with some outstanding performances.

Navas will always frustrate – it’s the nature of his position – while Clichy has failings that won’t ever be remedied namely lapses in concentration and an inability to cross. Their application though cannot be faulted.

The Spanish flyer’s work-rate is such that he’s become an auxiliary full-back. This has encouraged Zabaleta to rediscover last season’s form and have the confidence to bomb forward which is a crucial factor in our turnaround.

It looked a little bleak for Clichy at one stage with opposition team’s even starting to target him. Now if you beat him you’ve earned it.

And who makes you swear? 

The decision-making from Mangala continues to jitter the heartbeat and Tourette a short burst of anglo-saxon to the disapproval of those around me.

The lad has the potential to be immense – a Des-Walker-in-his-pomp-but-on-steroids colossus – and, despite what the media might have you believe, he has put in some imperious showings for City so far.

Yet I worry he will be capable of the spectacularly daft until the day he retires, an occasional rash decision that will cost us dear and undo the rest of his game.

Joe Hart’s woeful distribution meanwhile will always mean he will be restricted to England’s number one but never come close to be regarded as world class.

Who would you crawl over broken glass to sign? 

With Messi unsettled at Barca there’s a part of me that thinks fuck FFP, let’s complete the dream.

But reality bites, and now that we’ve wrapped up Bony to fill our striker roster I’m content to wait until the summer and go all-out for Ross Barkley. A phenomenal English talent the likes of which we haven’t produced since Gazza.

Best moment?

Nasri’s late rocket in Roma that secured an unlikely Champion’s League group qualification.  The home defeat to CSKA (see below) felt like all hope was lost. Now we whet our lips for Barcelona next month.

The goal had great significance attached in that it finally put to bed the looming threat of crisis after an underwhelming league campaign and desperately disappointing CL faring. Furthermore it capped arguably our most professional performance in Europe so far.

And the worst?

Our home defeat to CSKA Moscow.

Letting a two-goal lead slip in Russia was criminal even if it was aided and abetted by a piss-poor referee. At least back at the Etihad there was a shot at redemption, a realistic opportunity to put ourselves back into contention.

That disconcerting ticking all Blues had been hearing for months counted down to zero on November 5th. There was no explosion though and certainly no fireworks. It was a damp squib gleefully trampled on by a CSKA side who were there for the taking.

Two red cards made it a farce, complete with an abysmal showing strewn with individual errors, and yet more strange officiating that made paranoia at an anti-City agenda within EUFA appear almost incontestable.

I watched shite reality tv for days after pretending I no longer cared.

Opposition player or team that have made you feel a bit funny?

Another from the Champion’s League but it can only be Bayern Munich after losing Benatia to a 20th minute dismissal.

The manner in which they regrouped, killed the game for ten minutes, before gradually opening up to the extent where it appeared it was they with a man advantage was an absolute masterclass in organization and football intelligence.

Funniest Moment of the season so far?

With Chelsea a goal up at the Etihad the emergence of Frank Lampard from the bench saw a prolonged and noisy tribute from the away end. ‘Super Frankie Lampard’ rang out with a cockney clip until the moment the New York-bound (ahem) midfielder slotted home a late equalizer against his former club.

The song continued unabated only this time belted out by three quarters of the ground with a distinct Mancunian twang.

End of season prediction?

There is merit in the argument that Chelsea have yet to suffer key injuries but it’s equally true to state they have an incredibly strong 22.

I reluctantly went for them back in August and I’ve seen very little to dissuade me since though now that City are back and booming it will be close. Not ‘Aguueerroooo’ close but two games to go close.

In the Champion’s League the UEFA-appointed official will screw us over against Barcelona with a disallowed goal or phantom penalty that will bring suspicious mutterings from neutrals that will soon die away.

Which leaves us with the FA Cup. The draw has been kind so far and I’ve just got a feeling it’s our year. Then again so do you. And you. And you….