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Fan Focus: Manchester City Post-Match Views

'Nasty' Nigel De Jong was Neil's top man at Eastlands on Sunday, but lets be fair, he could have picked any man in blue.
'Nasty' Nigel De Jong was Neil's top man at Eastlands on Sunday, but lets be fair, he could have picked any man in blue.

An absolute drubbing at Eastlands which nobody really needs reminding of. However something we might need reminding of is how to feel happy. Our Fan Focus fella this week, Neil Sherwin, was ecstatic with his side's 5-0 romp, and was pleasant enough to not rub things in too much.

You can read more of Neils excellent work on Back Page Football, In Bed With Maradona, and The Football Sack. But for now though hear his thoughts on Sundays game, his sides new approach and his thoughts on how Steve Bruce can turn things around...

So, a stroll to 5-0, not so much squeaky bum time as you’d have imagined then!?

Neil: None whatsoever! A lot of my apprehension went out the window though having seen the starting line up which didn’t include the customary three central midfielders. I won’t say I expected 5-0 but the attacking starting eleven, which included a much needed boost in the returning Adam Johnson, certainly invoked excitement in the lead up to kick off.

Notably City changed their style to a 4-4-2, is this something the fans have been clamouring for?

Neil: Definitely. With Nigel de Jong basically forming a one man blanket in front of the back four there is simply no need for both Gareth Barry and Yaya Toure in there as well. Despite his diminutive frame, David Silva’s defensive work is very good while Adam Johnson is also willing to help out his full back. We all know about Carlos Tevez’s work rate from the front so it makes perfect sense to go with a 4-4-2 that essentially turns into a 4-2-4 when going forward.

I highlighted David Silva as the architect for our defeat, whilst we could find no way at all past Vincent Kompany either. Who was your star man?

Neil: Despite the flowing football and free scoring attack, the key man for me was De Jong. His tackling was superb throughout and his dominance in midfield allowed Yaya Toure to push further forward as a fifth attacker. De Jong has had his knockers to put it mildly but for me he is the best defensive midfielder in the league. He has also been criticised in the past for his ability on the ball but his left footed pass to Tevez for the third goal was sublime. The spine of the City team – Hart, Kompany, De Jong, Silva and Tevez – is possibly the best in the league on its day, and we need Nasty Nigel as much as any of the others.

Does the performance give you confidence that you can go further in the cup and the league this season, or is it tinged with frustration like "where the hell has that been all year?"

Neil: It is a bit frustrating alright as the fans have been calling for a shift in mentality for a long time. The players are obviously there so why not give it a shot? Having said that, and with all due respect, I don’t think we’ll have it as easy every week and if we had have lost 2-1 then Mancini would have been crucified by the press.

The performance does give a bit of confidence, especially considering AJ came through unscathed after so long out and Tevez looked to be ok after missing the Chelsea game.

Normally I ask who impressed from our side, but frankly, everyone was poor. So imagine yourself in Steve Bruce’s shoes... what would you do to arrest our slide?

Neil: It’s difficult to say because on paper you have a very good side. The loss of Bramble was crucial for me as Turner looked very rusty having missed (I think) the last 17 games. To be coming back into a game against a side that is as attacking as City were was never going to be easy and he struggled badly.

The midfield was very lacklustre early on but a slight tweak in formation seemed to give you a foothold in the game just before half time. The third goal was the killer though and there was no way back after that.

I wouldn’t be too concerned though as your next four games are Birmingham, Wigan, Fulham and West Brom, three of which are at home. Nine points from that is certainly achievable.

Do you think we can stop things and get back some respectability this season? Where do you think we can finish?

Neil: As I said above, there are serious points up for grabs in the next few weeks and if you pick them up then a top half finish is a realistic possibility.

Of course it could go the other way and you end up on a slippy slope towards drop but, to use a cliché, I think you’re too good to go down.

And finally, let’s put you on the spot... Will City finish in the Champions League places AND win the FA Cup?

Neil: Short answer – no.

Why not? Well I still think we’ll lose to United in the semi final because that’s just the way these things go. Give me a choice between Champions League qualification and the FA Cup it’d be the trophy for me, hands down. It’s a serious monkey on the back and it’d be nice to see them across the city have to take down that banner.

However, I think we’ll make the top four but lose out on the cup. Having said that, both would of course be fantastic!

You can follow Neil on Twitter too, as well as the excellent sites listed above - @NeilSherwin

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