With Everton taking on Manchester City in the early game on Saturday, we sat down with the SB Nation Manchester City site Bitter & Blue to discuss the match. A big thanks to them for their answers, and you can see our answer to their questions over there when they are up.
RBM: It's been a topsy turvy start for Manchester City, what's your take on your start?
BB: We've had a really strange start. Huge win against Newcastle to open the season, then a couple of bumpy performances, a party against Manchester United, and then a fluke loss to Aston Villa and destruction by Bayern Munich. I've maintained that halfway through October would be the proper point to evaluate City and I'm sticking to that. Four new players, a new manager and coaching staff would take some time getting used to. Injuries throughout the team haven't helped either. We've seen City at their best against United, but we've also seen a few flaws that need to be addressed going forward. The number of individual mistakes that have led to goals so far has been striking, however. But those can be fixed and I wouldn't expect to see them again, or often, at least.
RBM: Does Manuel Pelligrini know his best team?
BB: I don't think he knows his best team yet, due never having a full squad available yet. But I think he has a pretty good idea. Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany and Matija Nastasic will pretty much always feature in the back. Fernandinho and Yaya Toure should be fixtures in the middle, as will Jesus Navas and Sergio Aguero. City fans have been frustrated that Pellegrini has seemed to have a preference for Edin Dzeko over Alvaro Negredo so far, despite the Spaniard being the far better player so far. Hopefully Pellers gives him the spot in the starting XI that he deserves.
RBM: Who is your best player?
BB: It's tough to pick out just one player, but I think I'd go with Kompany. He's been so consistent over the years and highly skilled to go with it. When he's not in the lineup, our defense can be mess. The other candidates for the honor would probably be Aguero, Silva, Toure, and Zabaleta. Though if you asked me this last year, I'd say Carlos Tevez.
RBM: And who's the most underrated?
BB: This one also has a few candidates. I'm going to say Gael Clichy. I know a lot of people don't really rate him, but people also generally don't think badly of him. He isn't a LB like Marcelo or Ashley Cole, but he has been incredibly consistent for us. He's solid in defense and quite adept in distribution and making overlapping runs, as our tactics are set up for. The other candidates would be James Milner, Fernandinho, and Negredo.
RBM: Is Joe Hart still England's best keeper?
BB: Yes and no. Yes in the sense that we know what he can do, he's done it before plenty of times, and England don't have many great options behind him. No in the sense that he's sooo out of form right now. The match against Bayern was embarrassing for him. To get beaten at the near post twice in the same game is inexcusable. He really needs to fix his issues, and fast.
RBM: Gareth Barry just made the switch, how was that viewed by the City faithful?
BB: Most City fans were pretty sad to see Barry go. He was a loyal servant to City for so many years and like Clichy, was incredibly consistent and underrated. While he wouldn't get a whole lot of playing time this year if he stayed, the minutes he would receive would most likely be effective. We're all glad that he landed in a good spot though. It's a good match for player and club.
RBM: City have not had the best of times recently against Everton, do you see the change of manager on both sides having an effect?
BB: I don't think the change in managers will make a huge difference. Perhaps tactically, but it's the players ultimately for me. Everton's team spirit, particularly at Goodison, isn't something I see changing any time soon. Hopefully City meet that level of spirit this year.
RBM: What's your view of Everton?
BB: Everton are definitely a top 7 team, the question is just where in the top 7. I think just about everyone was very impressed with how Martinez did in the summer window. Barry, Gerard Deulofeu, and Romelu Lukaku are amazing loan signings. I wouldn't write them off in any match. As for where in the table they could finish, I think somewhere between 5-7 would be most realistic, but it's impossible to tell exactly where. The league is very competitive among the top 7 this year.
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