Manchester City's upcoming friendly against Heart of Midlothian was scheduled with the best of intentions. Let's hope it is received better than their other foray into Scotland at Dundee earlier this week.
Writing up City's 2-0 defeat to Dundee, David McCarthy of the Daily Record hit the Citizens with both barrels. "The Man City fans in the crowd witnessed an exercise in going through the motions. Their attitude stank the place out. They treated it like a training session and they couldn’t give a toss," McCarthy bleated.
"That lot who were beaten 2-0 by Dundee cost more than £141 million. That is utterly mind-boggling and for that kind of outlay, the least you’d expect is a bit of effort," continued McCarthy's onslaught.
In the wise words of Anchorman's Brian Fantana: "Take it easy, Champ. Why don't you sit this next one out, stop talking for a while."
Because if we are all being honest with each other, the friendly against Dundee and the upcoming friendly with Hearts are both training sessions. City will be wearing match kits, but it's training all the same.
And really, did anyone attending City's friendly with Dundee expect much more than what they saw? Save McCarthy, of course.
Of the 11 men who started City's final match of the 2013-14 Premier League season, eight of them were rightly excused from this exhibition after having logged miles in the air and on the ground in World Cup exertion.
Or was the expectation that Sergio Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta and Martin Demichelis should shed their World Cup final defeat right quick in order to get to Scotland to play Dundee? Because that is the logical end to the argument that "City did not try hard enough to beat Dundee."
Samir Nasri was one of City's starting XI against West Ham United in last season's final match. You might recall that he scored City's first goal, which proved ultimately the match-winner. He also featured against Dundee this week.
Put yourself in Nasri's shoes for a moment. You were omitted from France's World Cup squad. Now you're in Scotland playing Dundee with a passel of City's second-stringers and never-will-bes. How hard are you going to run?
For that matter, how hard does City boss Manuel Pellegrini really want Nasri to run in that friendly?
So if you are fortunate enough to have a ticket to City's exhibition with Hearts, which per David Lynch of the Manchester Evening News is "a commemorative match to mark the centenary of the main stand at the Scottish outfit's home ground," please accept this column as fair warning that you are not apt to see City busting lungs trying to grind out a result at Tynecastle.
That said, it would not be such a bad idea for Pellegrini to send his best XI (or something perilously close to it) out against Hearts to keep this trip to Scotland from becoming a complete loss.
My predicted XI for City against Hearts therefore looks like this: Willy Caballero; Aleksandar Kolarov, Karim Rekik, Matija Nastasic, Micah Richards; Nasri, Fernando, Jack Rodwell, Jesus Navas; Stevan Jovetic, John Guidetti.
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