Manchester City got hit 5-1 and within lies a thrashing at the hands of one of their arch rivals, Chelsea. I know what you’re thinking – How on earth could Manchester City be the big winners in any way? In many ways they can’t be but I’ll do my best to explain the unorthodox ploy by the Chilean tactician Manuel Pellegrini.
For a start, there is no way Manuel Pellegrini field that side with nine changes without expecting anything but a defeat away from home to a full-strength league champions with precious little else to play for.
Long story short, Pellegrini was saving his side for another day which will occur in the Champions League round of sixteen, the League Cup showdown with Liverpool and the tight, tight Premier League run-in. Pellegrini has taken a big gamble on this by disposing of a winnable competition to potentially strengthen their other fronts.
One thing that I feel is not being considered enough is that there is so little distinction between a 5-1 loss, a 1-0 loss or even an 8-0 loss. A loss is a loss in a cup competition, he says, throwing clichés at you. This means Pellegrini will lose little sleep over the tie. Essentially, for my money, he knew defeat was nigh and when he threw out the youngsters he just rolled the dice. They may even have won for all we knew. He couldn’t lose his un-winnable gamble.
The main reason City were the winners of the weekend is because they proved a big point. They finally showed that they were willing and able to use young prodigies and academy produce in major competitions. This has always been an achilles heel for City as they have lost youngsters to rivals like Arsenal, Chelsea and ‘horror of horrors’ Manchester United in the recent past simply because they have reputations of prioritising youth and blooding them at any given opportunity.
I was impressed with Faupala and although he was named on the bench I have been a huge fan of Brandon Barker for a long while now. Kelechi Iheanacho is quite rightly taking plaudits right now and reminds me of an old school forward with a little bit of every viable asset: pace, power, clinical finishing and an aerial presence. I am a fan, no doubt.
And so Pellegrini is arguably the only manager of the weekend whom got everything he expected from his match. But the players will take notes from this defeat and budding footballers will take note of City finally rotating their squad. Pellegrini has rested his squad and they will look it in the coming games. The weekend gone? An anomaly.
Header Image by By Дмитрий Голубович (soccer.ru)
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