So here we are guys, part three – the final third. Lets just hope Jesus stays onside eh?
Yes…? No…? Was that funny? Does it even make sense? I don’t know anymore… I’m a shadow of the man I was last week.
Why you ask? Well, you know how throughout all this I’ve portrayed myself as somewhat of a cynic, particularly towards the popular app TikTok? Yeah, well this week I was firmly slapped in the face by a little thing called karma.
The week was going fine, there I was, in my house, walking around it, staring into each mirror I’d pass by – not because I fancy myself, just because I’m becoming increasingly aware of my own mortality with each passing minute of this lockdown. There’s so many things I want to do, people I want to see, and yet there I am, looking like prepubescent, post-apocalyptic Georgios Samaras.
I was content though, and then on Thursday things took a turn for the better; part two of the player ratings released, and apart from one guy on Instagram who said; “who tf is this Adam Monk dude I swear to god he’s really starting to p**s me off it’s not even funny. Like shut up no one cares ’bout what you think” – the feedback was really good. So cheers for that guys.
The day after that, things got even better! I unexpectedly received an email from Manchester City saying they’re offering me an interview for a Social Media Producer role at the club. Obviously, I was delighted with the news; if I was to land the job, the only thing stopping me from succeeding would be Otamendi deciding to stay at the club out of pure spite in order to crush me because I compared him to Paul Potts – the former totalitarian Prime Minister of Cambodia, as I’ve now been informed.
There was one problem though, one thing that was at odds with every fibre of my being – the club wanted me to make a TikTok in preparation for the interview. This is something I rinsed Nicolas Otamendi for merely days earlier – was I about to be the architect of my own downfall?
My heart started racing, my bodily vasoconstriction was at an all time high, I was shaking – every whimsical quip, every witty repost, every well-constructed tweet, every humorous moment of my life no matter how big or small, everything that I’d said or done in my 20 years that’d consequently shaped my inward looking perception of myself comedically – was on the line.
What would happen if I did it? Would I be disowned? Would anyone ever laugh with me again? Or only at me? Would social distancing measures be opposed on me for eternity? Would I be allowed near animals again? If my future wife ever saw it would she still love me? Would my penis remain the same size? So many thoughts all at once – so little time.
Anyway I made it, why wouldn’t I? It’s a great opportunity. I’m a shadow of the man I was last week because I’m no longer a writer – I’m now an #Influencer
The app has since been swiftly deleted.
Oh s**t, the player ratings, sorry guys. That’s why you’re here after all.
Riyad Mahrez – 8
What a turnaround it’s been for this man. Last season, in about February, when the vitriol towards Riyad was at his highest; I wrote an article defending him and ultimately saying he’d eventually come good – you all laughed at me then, well I have to say, you’re not laughing now are you?…
Actually, I hope you are laughing, otherwise these articles aren’t really worthwhile – look I’m honestly so sorry about that TikTok, just try not to think about it and immerse yourself in the writing at hand instead, okay?
I suppose it’s quite fitting that I’m writing about Mahrez, because much like that TikTok, his penalty miss at Anfield last season really took the wind out of his sales. The record signing, popping up with some big goals and stellar performances – all he was trying to do was prove himself even further. Unfortunately by doing so, the psychological damage of failing must’ve gotten to him which inhibited him to the point of complete redundancy for the remainder of the campaign.
Luckily for us, after months of trying way too hard and overthinking every predictable ‘shift inside then fake back onto your weak foot’ thing he insatiably tends to do – he had his real watershed moment on the final day at the Amex. A brilliant strike, securing the title – it set the precedent for the campaign just gone.
Everything’s just came easier to him this time round; he’s creating from deep, scoring more goals – particularly those of the trademark kind like the one against Chelsea, and generally speaking, he’s just been more of the player we payed the big bucks for. He’s gone from the last name on the team sheet to one of the first, albeit aided by Sane’s injury and Raheem’s random rubbish-ness. But it’s evident now that even with those two in the frame, he’s more than good enough to go toe-to-toe with them.
I was tempted to give him a ‘9’ given the context of last season. He’s done so well to overcome it when at one point he was staring into the abyss with Fernando Torres and Adriano looking right back at him. But I had to settle for the ‘8’ because – and I’m a bit scared to say it – Riyad Mahrez’s diehard fans are a really weird bunch. They’re almost a cult, it’s no exaggeration when I say that they go on City’s Facebook page post-match and ‘angry react’ any picture from the game where Mahrez is absent – have a look for yourself.
I find it absolutely hilarious I must admit. I’m surprised they didn’t ‘angry react’ when Greta Thunberg won ‘TIME Person of the Year 2019’ ahead of him. They might come for me after reading this blasphemous content, but all I can say is I admire their work rate, and I admire Mahrez’s too after the season he’s just had.
Leroy Sane – 1
He’s not played this season unfortunately so he scores a big fat ‘1’. You also may have heard as well that he’s on his way to Bayern Munich so… you know, I don’t mind I just think it’s a bit, just a bit sort of strange isn’t it?
Do you not think? I don’t know, okay I’m not saying City is a better footballing project than Bayern Munich if that’s what you’re thinking… you know I’m not going to go to Bayern matches and boo him. I’d never go anyway because I’m a City fan so, you know, I go to like 30 odd games a year so if I suddenly think, “I might go to the Allianz and boo Sane,” – I can’t afford to go anyway so I don’t even- you know…
I honestly don’t care that he’s leaving. I was in my house when the news broke – as I hope we all were – and it was getting late. I’d had a shower, watched some TV, made a cup of tea and then I thought I’d have a scroll through twitter since there’s nothing else to do, I then refreshed the timeline and saw a tweet saying; “Bayern Munich & Leroy Sane have reached an agreement over a five-year contract.” And I just said, “Oh have they?” and then I went to bed and I went straight to sleep… so I don’t even care that he’s leaving, like, whatsoever.
I don’t mind and I wish him well and I’m not saying, you know he’s err, have you seen the Bundesliga though?…
Nah it’s good you know…
It’s very entertaining but err, it’s a one-horse race innit, you know, teams play Bayern and they go “Guten Tag” and the other team goes, “Guten Tag Bayern” and Bayern go “Ooh can I have three points please?” – “Yes Bayern of course” – “Thanks” – “No problem Bayern” …
And that happens 34 times…
Then at the end of the season the whole team, they drink loads of beer don’t they? And then they wear these sort of dungaree outfits…
And that’s apparently better than playing for us…
I don’t mind that he’s left and I wish him well and I’m not saying I’m bitter or anything like that. I tell you what though, I don’t care about it one bit, but I just don’t know what message it sends out to young footballers because they’re the – they’re the future aren’t they, the kids, you know and it’s like saying to them, “Don’t work really hard on your career for years trying to make it really good so you can play in the most competitive competitions, like a f*****g mug, just win trophies without doing anything”…
Anyway I don’t care honestly, I don’t care.
Raheem Sterling – 6
Look, to be completely honest, up to around November, he’d established himself as a truly world class player – rogue shouts from certain individuals that he was in the top 10 on the planet and rightly so. Since then though – absolutely dreadful.
I have a theory – remember that Cristiano Ronaldo advert called ‘The Switch’ where he collides with a ball boy and their brains and respective abilities swap bodies? That might’ve actually happened when Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez collided whilst on England duty.
So far Gomez has been getting away with it. Nothing has really changed for him because he’s been protected by the best defender in the world – Virgil Van Dijk – all of Sterling’s gifted dribbling skills and aptitude for the amazing have been made expendable, trapped inside Gomez’ lumbering 6 ft 2 frame.
Sterling on the other hand, has lost all of that and has had it replaced with the ability of standing there and watching the best midfielder in the world – Kevin De Bruyne – bail him out. Unfortunately for Raheem, he was a much better, and far more valued member of his respective team before the body swap, so he takes a much bigger hit.
In all seriousness though, who am I to speculate why his form has plummeted so spectacularly? It’s just as likely that it’s for a personal reason as it is a footballing one, and Raheem’s obviously a top bloke who deserves to be back at his best.
I can comment on the consistencies though, on the footballing proficiencies and deficiencies that aren’t anomalous. Of course when on form, his positioning is better than any player in our entire team. For a player lacking the killer instinct someone like Aguero has in front of goal, he manages to rival his output by being in the right place at the right time on the receiving end of most of our moves – this is testament to Pep just as much as it is Raheem, and it’s the main reason he’s fulfilling potential many of us didn’t even know he had three years ago.
On the flip side, he only decides to do this in certain games, my main criticism of Raheem is that I never think he’ll be the star player in the squad – the one we look towards to dig us out of bad situations and poor performances. If he’s being talked about as world class now then it’s only fair that he’s held in the same regard as those who definitely are – your Robben’s, your Ribery’s, your Bale’s – is he as good as they were? I think there’s something missing, perhaps something intrinsic that’s inhibiting him from reaching that level, it sounds like I’m waffling but it’s because I don’t have the answer myself – he just lacks consistent ruthlessness. For example this is his fifth season at City now, and he’s yet to do literally anything at Old Trafford or Anfield, that speaks volumes for me.
Never doubt Raheem though, there was a point in 15/16 where I thought Pellegrini had been done up like a kipper with Raheem, similar to how Graeme Souness was with Ali Dia. Since then, he’s elevated his game tenfold to become one of English football’s top dogs, not just on the pitch but off it too, and it’s for that simple reason why he deserves an infinite amount of chances to put things right in my eyes, as I said regarding Fernandinho in part two – work ethic comes before anything else.
Gabriel Jesus – 8
Ah, Gabriel Jesus – the social distancing king. Always at least two meters away from the last defender, yet rather conversely – he gets penalised for it.
I love him though, don’t we all, he’s like the antithesis of Sane – both have bags of talent, but this guy puts the hard yards in day-in-day-out. It shows as well, the guy has one of the greatest strikers to have ever lived playing ahead of him and he’s still popping up with 20 goals a season. Amazingly honed cheekbones as well.
I think Jesus has discovered more about himself than any other player this season. He’s been an uncut diamond ever since he joined. Ever since that blistering start he made in the second-half of Pep’s first season, he’s been trying a little too hard, that’s not necessarily a criticism it’s just the main reason things never fully clicked.
This season things have been an awful lot different – he opened his account for the season immediately at West Ham, then he added to it again week after against Spurs (yes, he did, f**k off), ever since then he’s taken his opportunities when given them, and in big games too.
My main criticism of Jesus has always been that he’s not a natural finisher, yet he’s got an incessant willingness to play as a striker. He’s always treaded water as Aguero’s number two due to his aerial abilities and his off ball pressing which usually makes us harder to play against. But now, finally, I think I can say that perhaps both Pep and Jesus are realising that he’s not best utilised there.
For me he’s far more dangerous off the left, so much so that if Sane were to leave – and I honestly don’t care if he does – then I’d be happy for Jesus to take his place alongside another versatile forward; someone like Richarlison perhaps. The reason being is simply that he’s a virtuoso dribbler with the tenacity of your archetypal Pep player – we press a lot better as a unit when Jesus plays – on top of this he can also finish of course, just not quite well enough to warrant leading the line in a post-Sergio Aguero Manchester City side.
All in all though, he’s scoring in much bigger games, making far fewer mistakes, and is discovering himself more week upon week – easily one of my favourites.
One thing though Gabby; Please stop with the Instagram stories of you working out to ‘Roddy Ricch – The Box’ – I can hand on heart say it’s the worst audible frequency that my tympanic membrane has ever encountered. “Pour up the whole damn seal, I’ma get laaaazy” – yeah you are Roddy, surely you can write something better than that if you put your mind to it.
Sergio Aguero – 8
What do you want me to say about this guy? I’m being serious, I could’ve written the same thing about him for eight years straight and you’d go “Yeah, fair enough”.
It probably wasn’t his best season in a City shirt, but the bar is awfully high. He’s a weird striker is Kun, he plays in patches – in two or three match bursts – one month he’s rivalling Lionel Messi’s goals per game rate and the next: Wesley. And this parity of performance peters out to create the illusion of consistency, when really he’s either quiet or unplayable.
What also amazes me is his head never drops – he was benched for the biggest game of the season at the Bernabeu in favour of Jesus. He could’ve easily conflated his goalscoring record with his pre-eminent name to have an ego larger than most that kicked up a fuss, but no, he sat it out, waited his turn, and bagged in a cup final a few days later. That’s Aguero in a nutshell – rest him at your peril (even though we did win in Madrid).
My highlight of his season was undoubtedly his record-breaking hat-trick at Villa Park; the evening the neutrals were forced to wake up an acknowledge a top tier Premier League great. He beat Thierry Henry’s tally with a first half rocket, and then thought “You know what? That absolute bum Alan Shearer is getting it too.” So he broke his hat-trick record. Legendary stuff.
He was at his most dangerous between 2013 and 2015, now he’s more conservative about when to be explosive, irrespective of that the goals haven’t dried up. If there’s talk of him leaving at the end of next season and he’s still hit 25-30 goals – hold him hostage, I don’t care – he’s going nowhere.
So that’s it, the 19/20 player ratings are done. If you’ve stayed until the end I appreciate it – these take a while to write. It’s amazing how almost every footballer in our team does something stupid throughout the season you can make fun of, even if it is merely playing football in the case of Otamendi.
I hope you’re all coping well in lockdown too, just remember it could be worse – Mendy basically did this for two whole years. It’s has been an enjoyable distraction for me though – I’m not really sure what I’m going to do in my spare time now. Perhaps I’ll have sex party with my newfound TikTok fame.
Also, if the season is concluded, don’t expect me to return to this, because I won’t be, for two possible reasons; either we go out of the Champions League and the season draws out to a pointless close meaning the ratings have effectively stagnated. Or, we’ve won the Champions League and I’m in some Turkish mans kitchen in Istanbul having an emergency stomach pump.
Until next time, cheers.
You can follow the author here: @_adammonk
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