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Talking Points: In Pep we trust...

Talking Points: In Pep we trust...
Plenty to go at with some sensationalistic headlines debunked and a warrior saluted...

Club Journalist @dclayton_mcfc takes a look at the City display at the Nou Camp, plus at Pablo Zabaleta, current form and Southampton...

1 Humiliated? Get real...

It’s interesting reading how some reports in the media go for the ‘City humiliated’ angle in this morning’s press coverage.


Yes, a 4-0 reverse is never pleasant but the truth of last night’s defeat is that the Blues were more than holding their own against Barcelona up to the Claudio Bravo sending off.

After that, with Bravo gone, Nolito sacrificed, it was a different story with few better teams in world football able to exploit the extra space and time the dismissal resulted in.

                        INDUSTRIOUS: Nolito never gives up....
INDUSTRIOUS: Nolito never gives up....

The first goal was something of a freak moment with slip leaving a gap that you could have driven a bus through and Lionel Messi just happened to be lurking.

Goal No.2 was a typically clinical Messi strike but the third was something of a gift and by the time the fourth went in, the game had long been decided.

City pressed well and unnerved the hosts throughout the first half – save for a 10-minute spell after the opening goal while the Blues collected themselves.

Ilkay Gundogan and Nolito could both have brought City level – and nobody needs to tell John Stones his header on half-time should have burst the back of the net – and even in the latter stages, Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Stones could have scored.

So yes, the score-line suggests a thrashing, but the truth is the contest was much closer than the four-goal margin suggests.

2 Learning curve

With so many new ideas to take on board and adapt to, there will be difficult moments in the months ahead but, for those who have watched the classic TV comedy Dad’s Army, the oft-recalled line “Don’t panic Captain Mainwaring!” is worth remembering.

Pep has pledged that his teams will play from the goalkeeper until the day he retires, so yes, there will be heart in the mouth moments and the odd mistake – how costly they prove to be remains to be seen – but the risk is worthwhile.

Some of the play from defence, starting with Bravo, has been sublime this season. The Chilean has been in the spotlight from day one, as has Pep’s policy of having a ‘sweeper keeper’ – but City will get better at it as the season progresses and never quite knowing what the opposition are going to do with the ball isn’t a bad tool to have in your armoury, is it?

More and more teams will play this way and what is currently employed by only one or two clubs in the Premier League at present will eventually become six or seven.

And the defenders will become more confident as they, too, adapt to Pep’s ideas. One thing is for sure – it will never be dull and as City fans, isn’t that what we demand?

3 Warrior

If ever you wanted to sum up why City fans love Pablo Zabaleta - and maybe why a few players around the globe who love to milk a foul should take a look in the mirror – it was his determination to walk off the pitch with dignity.

Nobody has shed as much claret as Zaba over the years and despite blood clearly running freely out of the top of his foot, he walked off rather than be stretchered off.

                        WARRIOR: Zaba walks off in agony
WARRIOR: Zaba walks off in agony

Face contorted in pain, he almost certainly would have come back on had he been allowed to, he is old school, tough as old boots and an inspiration for any budding professional.

4 Poor form?

If 10 wins, two draws and two defeats is poor form, long may it continue!

The Blues have scored 34 goals to date and yes, we’ve not won our last four games but as Pep said after his side had recorded 10 wins on the bounce, there will be times when things don’t go as well.

Against Celtic, City were far from their best and against Spurs, the Blues were well-beaten.

But the football against Everton was breath-taking at times and, on another day, City would have won 4 or 5-1.

WATCH: City v Everton: Extended highlights

Barcelona are Barcelona and on their own ground, you can’t make mistakes – we did – but the Blues still have every chance of progressing through to the knockout stages, sit top of the Premier League and have a League Cup derby on the horizon. Not exactly a club in crisis.

5 So solid Saints

With just one goal conceded in seven games prior to Thursday’s Europa League trip to face Inter Milan, Southampton have quickly found their feet under new boss Claude Puel.

Many thought Ronald Koeman’s departure would result in the Saints going backwards, but they have looked defensively solid and they are arguably the form team of the Premier League.

The Blues will be desperate to get back to winning ways so expect Pep to have his team revved up and charging out of the blocks – but it won’t be easy to break down one of the meanest defences in the country.


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