Newcastle United 0 Manchester City 2: Some Thoughts

Date: 31st October 2013 at 5:01 pm
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*Phew. The Capital One Cup may not be the most glamorous of competitions, it may be City’s 4th priority this season, but every trophy matters to some extent, and any cup tie that goes into extra time is tense. Especially when the dreaded spectre of penalties looms closer and closer on the horizon.

*Though if the penalties remain on the horizon I guess a pedant might point out they are at all times the same distance away.

*The team line-up was predictable – a selection of players who haven’t been getting regular games. It pretty much picked itself. Naturally there was a story led by a vocal minority that Hart had been axed, for a game he was never going to start. Sky ran a loop of footage of him arriving at the ground.

*Speaking of which, the Guardian match report stated: “Pantilimon – keeping goal in place of the dropped Hart.”

*The Daily Mail resorted to a ‘Pantilimon Watch’ and Ian Ladyman reported this steaming pile of manure: ‘City’s evening didn’t improve much early in the second half, either. If this had been a performance under their previous manager Roberto Mancini, people would have suggested the players were not trying for their coach.’

*The man of the moment Pantilimon was solid, and did everything asked of him, without having to do so much he has immediately usurped Joe Hart in the first team. He made one crucial save in extra time, though Sky, for the first time in their history, did not see fit to replay whether Cisse was offside, as I felt he may have been.

*Man of the Match for Pantilimon? Oh dear Sky, you can do better than that. What a pitiful attempt to newly-stir a dying story. Though in their defence, there were no outstanding candidates.

*Paranoia!

*Like Chelsea, it was a game of two halves, with the added bonus of a third and fourth one afterwards. City started poorly, especially in defence where Boyata was all at sea. I guess when you change a whole team you shouldn’t expect them to click into gear and play like the first team. But too often City seem to change players and the change in performance is cavernous – the exit to Aston Villa last season was the prime example. Newcastle should have been ahead at the break as City struggled to gain any rhythm or gain any control over midfield. They were further unsettled by another injury to Jovetic, and you wonder how long we will all have to wait to see him properly.

*But City improved in the second half, and came back into the game. Boyata too steadied his performance and we saw more of why he is rated by many. James Milner too started terribly for me, but grew as the game progressed, and was an important factor in extra time.

*Naturally the game gave further opportunities to whinge, and the theme of the night seemed to be how superior Chelsea’s second string are, and thus how they are going to win the league and everything else with it.

*Now of course I shouted and whinged at the TV screen all match too, but the fact is that City’s second string played at Newcastle against what was close to a first-team for them, and won. That’s a good thing, even though the performance wasn’t that great.

*Games like these are always marketed as a chance for players to show the manager they are worthy of more games. Unfortunately it’s hard to shine when everyone around you is rusty and possibly not match-fit. It’s easier to get a chance in a first choice XI and shine then instead.

*And that’s 15 games in succession that Newcastle United have failed to beat City.

*But oh god Dzeko was terrible. Couldn’t trap the ball, wayward shots, no presence, he is…oh hang on, he’s just got an assist. But hey, that doesn’t cover his flaws, he just doesn’t contribute and too much of the time…oh hang on, he’s scored, what a great goal, such a cool finish.
The man continues to puzzle, frustrate, then reward us just when we have given up.

*Javi Garcia was alright. A glimmer…..

*Jesus Navas slightly disappointed once more, but opposition teams often double up on him – at the very least this should have freed some space for his colleagues. Like others though, his influence did increase as the game wore on. It took quite a few players until extra-time to insert their authority on the game.

*David Silva however is class (controversial I know). He may have come on against a tiring side, but he took City to another level

*For awarding a free-kick after Tiote fell over in the second half – for THAT ALONE, the referee should never be allowed to take charge of another football match. Elsewhere, he officiated in the same depressing manner that so many do in the modern game. Free kicks were awarded every time a player fell to the ground, players were penalised for absolutely nothing and he did a great job of disrupting the rhythm of the game. Well done.

*And then – the perfect draw. I used to laugh at United fans who prayed for an away draw in cup competitions so that their bank balance wasn’t battered once more by their club taking out money as part of their compulsory cup schemes. Now I get it. I can’t afford the league games I go to, so whilst I want my team to win everything in sight, the financial side is hard to take and an away draw against the only non-Premier League team left in the competition will do me.

*It’s getting ahead of things rather, but the draw does set up the possibility of a very heavyweight semi-final line up, in a much-criticised competition. Capital One must be happy.

*So City come through their run of four away games, one absolute howler away from contentment. Five of the next six games are at home – make it count City, make it count.

*What on earth was John Beresford wearing? As one Guardian comment noted: “the pinnacle of tonight’s entertainment was John Beresford as Martin Chuzzlewit”.

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