Match Review: Manchester City 4 Newcastle United 0

Date: 20th August 2013 at 10:50 am
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Match Programme - Manchester City v  Newcastle United

The tram to town broke down AS I stepped onto it in Sale. Even by Metrolink’s standards that is impressive.

How nice of the weather to clear pre-match. I always associate the start of a season with sunny, pleasant weather, and the gods duly provided. The ground looked as beautiful as ever as the sun set.

The tributes to Bert Trautmann were as fitting as I would have expected. Well done City. Though no surprises that the programme had sold out inside our section of the ground – the extra demand had once more not been anticipated (see also – paper towels in the toilets). And City, never do that Blue Moon rendition again. Ever.

I have no idea myself what City’s strongest XI is right now, so it was hard to judge the team that Pellegrini picked. I was generally happy with it however, the only slight surprise being that Dzeko started ahead of Negredo, though pre-season line-ups had hinted at this. More surprising was Aguero being fit enough to start. Jovetic presumably isn’t fit – the rest of the team picked itself.

Special thanks to Arsenal for unsettling Cabaye prior to the match. Every little helps.

As for the game – apart from a niggling injury to Kompany, it could not have gone much better. Dominant from the start, fluid, exciting attacking play, and an early sign of how Pellegrini operates, with fluid interchanging of players due to a wealth of attacking players who can multi-task. To explain far better than I ever could, read this analysis from the excellent Michael Cox at Zonal Marking (after you have finished this article, obviously):
http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2013/aug/20/manuel-pellegrini-manchester-city-tactics

Who knew that all this time City already had a wonderful free-kick taker? Though I do recall him scoring a belter for his country last year.

The red card was justified, and ended the game as a contest. You have to wonder what goes through a player’s mind when they do things like this. Steven Taylor probably should have conceded a penalty just moments before, the only surprise being he didn’t feign being shot by a sniper after the ball had struck his partially-flailing hand. It probably made little difference to the game in the end though.

City should have had at least two penalties, and had a goal wrongly disallowed. Even after three minutes there should have been a penalty for a clip on Zabaleta after which Aguero had a shot saved by Krul. Without Krul and the officials it could have been a lot more than four goals – Krul was superb.

Here comes the science bit. Sorry, I mean some stats. That was David Silva’s first headed goal in the Premier League. Fernandinho played more balls into the final third of the pitch (18) than any other player in the Premier League this weekend. City have now scored in 51 consecutive home league games. And the team completed 596 passes versus Newcastle, more than Chelsea (464), Arsenal (444), Spurs (430), Liverpool (423) and Manchester United (382).

Man of the Match? Everyone did their job, except Hart who didn’t have one, and it’s hard to pick out one player. Dzeko led the line superbly, a goal the only thing missing from the performance, and justifying his inclusion in the starting line-up. Fernandinho was superb in midfield, Navas mesmerising out wide (and centrally), Silva back to his best after a nice break, Aguero was Aguero, Kompany dominant, Lescott comfortable, and Zabaleta rampaged down the right. No one had a bad or even average game.

It’s hard to draw conclusions for the season ahead from one game, naturally. Newcastle were poor, in the same way that I thought Swansea’s defending was appalling against United on Saturday. We will learn more in the coming weeks, but the big teams will be happy to get off the mark.

The only niggling problem now is in defence. With Kompany now absent for the Cardiff game, Nastastic needs a good week of recovery, or we could be seeing Lescott and Garcia in defence, especially now the made-of-glass Micah Richards has done his hamstring in. Expect some transfer activity this week.

The relentless singing of “where were you when you were s**t?” from opposition fans is way beyond tedious, and so pitiful it deserves little extra comment, especially when sung from a set of fans that returned half their ticket allocation, and used to play to tiny crowds. Stick to doing congas lads, you at least seem to have go the hang of that. As I’ve said before, I take no pride in attendances, I do not think my club to be inherently superior to the likes of Rochdale or Oldham Athletic just because more people watch us. The bigger issue here is ticket prices anyway, covered extensively elsewhere.

The chips were really nice, the food was of course, as it always has been, overpriced and the beer awful, the pies were nice, but I don’t think these were the Jamie Oliver ones which apparently were £6.60 (!!!) from his concession stand, not that anyone is forced to buy one, and I should add that on the way out I was given a free left-over chicken pie from the bar staff, so well done City!

As for the new internet coverage and WIFI – it was, for me, non-existent. I couldn’t access the internet in block 211, it took 5 minutes to send a text, I don’t know if I am missing something, but there was no improvement on last season. So much for that.

So City’s brave new world has begun in style. Now time to move on and with games against two promoted sides, consolidate that spot at the top. And if you believe in omens, an opening Monday night 4-0 win starring Aguero is good news indeed…..

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