Writer: Tranmere Loyal
Date:Sunday November 21 2010
I'd like to say that this has been coming but looking at the last few matches, it hasn't looked like it at all.
Today's line-up was a little more adventurous. Milner must understand the importance of putting the effort in every week as Mancini selected to bench him and replace him with .....Jo?
With only de Jong on full anchor duty and Barry and YoYo pushing further forward City had a look about them today that the fans have expected and wanted all season.
Seemingly removed was the 'protect 0-0 and win on the break' mentality, replaced by a desire to press forward, attack the spaces, bang in the goals.
How much easier is it if City gets and early goal? And what a goal. Tevez might have looked a few inches offside when he received the ball in an awkward position. He still needed to muscle the defender out of the way before opening the door and his body to slide the ball past Schwarzer after 6 minutes.
What was to follow was unrecognisable from the dross we delivered against United and Birmingham. Instead City fans were treated to an exemplary feast of quality attacking football, creating chances from different angles and at last taking the chances that came along.
Indeed it was not only Tevez that took on the Fulham defence with shots coming in from Kolarov who brought a neat save out of Schwarzer, before Zabaleta drilled in a shot after 32 minutes which took a minor deflection off Duff to nestle in the Fulham goal. Silva started off the move, his cross was cleared only as far as the edge of the box and Zaba did the necessary.
Three minutes later and almost a total football goal involving more or less every one in the team. Yaya Toure confused the Fulham back line by running a very odd angle before stepping wide to receive a pinpoint pass from Tevez. Toure ran clear and dragged his shot wide of the keeper but just inside the post. Just over half an hour gone and game over. Goals from all departments except goalkeeper and Hart could have been forgiven if he'd sat amongst the crowd, at least until 44 minutes when a shot finally came his way.
By the end of the half Fulham looked shell-shocked and Mark Hughes stood in that familiar pose - hands in pockets looking devastated.
Big pluses were Kolarov who looked frightening in the tackle, quick to link up wide out and produced crosses that if Balotelli would have been playing would have ended up in the back of the net.
Yaya Toure had his best game for City so far playing in midfield but springing forward at every opportunity, finding space in the holes and findin his men in the shape of Tevez and Silva with regularity.
The back line looked untroubled and solid and up top even Jo was contributing in unexpected fashion.
The second half started with Fulham bringing on Gera, who in previous guises has been a thorn in City's side and he inspired a more up tempo Fulham for the first ten minutes or so, then a cross found its way to Zabaleta who once again hammered a goalbound shot, which Tevez steered past Schwarzer.
Game, set and match? Well nearly. City set about sewing the game up and gave Fulham a little too much space at times, but just as quickly they closed it down. Andy Johnson couldn't get clear and he and Etuhu resorted to a couple of poor tackles. One of these tackles should have produced a penalty for Tevez to end the day with the ball and another went seemingly unpunished. It was somewhat surprising then that Zabaleta was booked for a similar tackle and Fulham awarded a free kick.
In the 70th minute City didn't clear their lines, the ball falling to the inevitable Gera who took strike and with the help of a deflection off Kolo Toure, brought his side a consolation goal.
City now made sure they closed the match off first replacing Tevez with Johnson and then Silva with Vieira and Barry with Milner. Job done. Hart wasn't really challenged again and it was smiles all round at the final whistle.
Silva had once again exemplified true quality and Yaya took on the look of an Aussie Rugby League Loose Froward rampaging through the Fulham ranks, moving the ball quickly outside and inside and indeed getting one over the line.
Commentators on both Sky and Five Live are singing our praises!! A different story to Sunday Supplement this morning.
Maybe it was worth Kolo putting his bit in the NotW. Someone must have listened.
Balotelli should be back next week and Milner and Barry will be looking over their shoulders to see who gets the black cap. It was probably Barry's best outing since Liverpool. I think the pennies are starting to drop. If we play like we did today Mario will stick a bagful in and now we've even got big lads to deal with Stoke's long throws.
Mancini, clad once again in his blue and white scarf could be pleased, and even the travelling fans sang his name. The league is wide open this year and when you look at our bench there is no reason why we can't be in the mix, not only for the top four but a little bit higher. Oh... and I haven't mentioned Kompany..he was simply unreal.
CITY GO TO STOKE ON VMC:
Head for the VMC Match Day Experience Forum for the build up and beyond to City's next tough mission at Shouty Pulis' Stoke.
Date:Sunday November 21 2010
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