I Can Only Report On What I Witnessed
Vital Manchester City co-editor in the waiting Pedmachine sent us the following.
A bright day at the City of Manchester Stadium got better with the news that Norwich Reserves has only managed a 0-0 draw at Blackburn, but I don't think any of us were prepared for what was to happen once our match got under way.
The Team arrived in great spirit and there is something different about them confidence-wise as a promising season draws towards an equally promising conclusion. It is important that in preparing his side, Roberto Mancini teaches them the art of literally taking each match as it comes and going out to win it, no matter what challenges are presented to us along the way.
With Vieira tugging a muscle in the warm-up, the supposedly rested De Jong was restored to his central midfield berth and at long last we were able to welcome Nedum Onuoha to the starting line-up at home - and what a master stroke that turned out to be!
A magnificent former goalkeeper, Bert Trautmann, was present to today's crowd through a 'Guard of Honour' of current and former City goalkeeper which included Joe Hart, unable to play as part of his loan deal yesterday. It is 60 years since this former German Paratrooper and Prisoner of War signed for City amidst an awful lot of controversy, but what a marvellous signing this was.
Despite his background and following his time held captive in Ashton-in-Makerfield, Bert began playing for St Helens Town before finding his way to Maine Road, where he represented City with distinction including playing on with a broken neck in the 1956 FA Cup Final, which City went on to win...against Birmingham!!
The match started pretty much as we'd expected in my preview last week. Birmingham set out to defend their territory and play on the break but in my view with poor quality front men and City played wide, deep and probed for openings that were difficult to find. Adebayor in the air and Tevez & Bellamy on the ground caused them problems as did Johnson sending in a variety of crosses but Birmingham loaded their penalty area and looked to have broken the back of it for 35 minutes or so.
Enter Adebayor. When he got the ball and stepped inside it looked the wrong decision but as he threatened to wriggle clear, he was hauled down from behind. Referee Phil 'Bottler' Dowd pointed to the spot and Tevez did the necessary.
Almost immediately in the next attack City earned a corner which found its way to a brave Onuoha whose header hit the back of the net. He set of celebrating in one direction and Tevez in another - the ball bounced of Tevez toe en route to the net, so Nedum's comeback goal was handed to top scorer Tevez.
A bit of Sunday League defending, the trade mark of our early season saw Birmingham briefly get back into the game, but once again, the next attack gave us a 3-1 lead through Adebayor.
Nedum finally crowned him home comeback with an exceptional goal in the second half, when he played a 1-2 with an opponent, kept his run going before hammering a left foot drive into the bottom corner, then Adebayor topped it all off sprinting on to a long clearance before calmly drawing the keeper and slotting the ball home.
No yellow cards, so no end of season ban for De Jong and we were off the field to a rousing applause from the faithful.
Now looking at my pre-match thoughts last week I can happily say that the up front trident of Bellamy, Tevez and Adebayor did exactly what it said on the tin and although Bellers didn't get on the scoresheet he was a thorn in their side all afternoon. Adebayor gave them problems because of his size and Tevez because of his speed and unpredictability. Midfield was reasonably secure although there was some wayward passing at times from Barry. With Onuoha in the line the back four looked more resolute and mobile and because Nedum actually knows how to play in position the whole picture looked more solid. In goal Given still didn't command his box, but had very little to do anyway.
The fifth goal shows exactly what I mean by playing a straight ball down the middle on occasions, although this was a bit of a punt from defence. Adebayor was able to shake off the defenders with his deceptive gait and speed, he made up his mind early as to which corner of the net he was to utilise, drew the keeper - 5-1.
This team is now coming together and with Bridge back and Lescott finally free of injury, whenever that may be, we have gathered together a group well capable of better results next season and which will not disgrace itself in the Champions League. There is no doubt that with the Team playing like this, we would have won at least 4 of the 7 drawn matches under Mark Hughes and we would have been breathing down the necks of the 3 teams above us in the league.
As for Birmingham ..well Sky seems to like calling them the 'second city club' and that's exactly what they were today in every sense. Has nobody told Sky that Manchester is the first City?
Mancini is taking each game as it comes and next along is Norwich Reserves. There is no truth in the suggestion that some of the lads in Block 11 have clubbed together to get Delia Smith as Guest of Honour for Saturday's Derby, nor in the fact that some City fans want to bring a flag that says ' Green & Gold Until you Fold'. The fans are looking forward to next week's match with relish especially with Stretford's season more or less in tatters, but it is more about us keeping our momentum going and keeping ourselves on track for fourth spot - then wait and see the quality of footballer that will want to come and play at the City of Manchester Stadium.
On that subject I was speaking at length to a Sky cameraman yesterday who was telling me about life in the Champions League and he told me that the CoMS was very much a Champions League Stadium, much more so that Stamford Bridge (Chelsea were his team) and he told me about the great and different atmosphere about the place on Champions League nights, both at your own Stadium and in particular the away matches.
I said after we beat Barcelona 1-0 in the Joan Gamper Trophy match in front of 88000 people that there has to be something wrong with fans and players who don't want to experience nights like that more regularly. We are waiting and the team is delivering. Liverpool look to have run out of steam with their exertions in the Europa Cup, Spurs are out of the FA Cup and face Arsenal, Chelsea and Norwich Reserves all in the next 10 days. I sit comfortably thinking we can beat Stretford and at least draw at Arsenal and that 2 weeks from today we can be more or less there.
I got some calls right about yesterday's match but if that lot comes true..well I'll be in Spain on the Cava. Or should I just take one match at a time?
COME ON CITY.