Writer: Tranmere Loyal
Date:Monday April 4 2011
I seem to have been saying it all season and finally somebody really did 'get it'.
Sunderland were the shadow of the team that has caused many problems for many teams this season and took in the full force of City's frustrated fire power at Eastlands yesterday.
The stall was set out quite quickly by the Blues. Mancini had hinted that he was ready to unleash his tigers who were chomping at the bit to add some attraction to their football and to show the world what they are capable of. The chickens came home to roost yesterday as City scored at will and demolished Steve Bruce's hapless outfit.
Many a time Bruce has brought teams to play against City with some success. How many times did we beat Wigan when he was there? But yesterday there were to be no surprises.
Talking to their fans ahead of the match, even they were certain they would get a hiding and one even predicted that City would score five!
The concept of tricky wing play is not new but in line with most football fans I share a certain joy in watching wide players ply their trade in delivering captivating football and the return of Adam Johnson to the starting eleven yesterday was a pleasure to see as he began to reignite the City of Manchester Stadium. His smart interchange of passes with Yaya Toure down the right, with each player in turn powerfully running into the spaces granted by Sunderland's disappearing defence got the scoreboard ticking as Johnson cleverly dragged his shot to the nearside as Mignolet expected a cross shot to the far side. Poznan time on Level One and only nine minutes gone.
Six minutes later with play coming in from the other side Silva slid the ball towards Tevez who was grounded by Bardsley to the extent that 'Equalizer' Webb pointed to the spot.
Up stepped Tevez who strike was palmed onto the inside of the post and into the net. Not a certain penalty kick but it went in.
Sunderland tried hard to get into the game, but with Alex Ferguson watching from his usual position in the stands, City played higher up the field and denied them any room in which to work. This of course meant that the starting point for City's attacking play was closer to the Black Cats goal and therefore runs made by Yaya Toure were much more effective.
City easily saw out the first half before returning to finish the job after the break.
Once again the weary Wearsiders tried to change their fortunes but at every step City were up to the mark. Kompany and Lescott were exceptional in the centres and it was pleasing to see Boyata back in the fold. For me this kid is a superb talent undeserving of the cold shoulder treatment he seems to have endured since his dismissal against Arsenal. He cost City practically nothing but plays like a multimillion pound defender, in fact better than some. Kolarov still looks a problem on the left but today was pretty much unchallenged.
That Sunderland got to the hour mark without City troubling the scorers further was a testimony in itself, but their defence was in tatters as a cross from Tevez found Balotelli twelve yards out. His shot was blocked but squirted throught to the unmarked Silva who slid the ball home smartly.
Four minutes later Mancini decided to give Johnson a rest and introduced Vieira in time for a City corner kick. The original kick found its way back to Kolarov whose next cross was diverted in off the thigh of Vieira. First touch 4-0. What an inspired substitution!
And it didn't end there. In the 73rd minute a miscued back-pass by Cattermole found it's way into the path of Yaya Toure. His blistering run took him past the Sunderland defenders and he duly hammered home.
Following this Silva was replaced by SWP and Boyata by Ryan McGivern, already an established international who didn't look out of place although out of position.
A marvellous afternoon's work and just the tonic that our fans needed. If Mancini lets the shackles off this team can play superb football.
From Sunderland's viewpoint there has got to be more to your game than trying to ignite Balotelli, which was just about the only other contribution that Cattermole made. The rest of their team looked poor, hardly troubled Hart all day.
Like many others I was calling for Balotelli's head after his antics against Dinamo Kyiv. Yesterday he put in his best performance for City. He contributed well to open play and was unlucky on at least three occasions, none more so with a last kick free kick which Mignolet did well to turn up and over.
Probably the only player I haven't mentioned is de Jong. He was simply superb, like an Ice Hockey blue line patroller, he hunts down trouble and deals with it. His pass out to Tevez to set up the third goal was excellent if unexpected from Nigel. His midfield tackling was perfect even if Mr Webb was doing his best to make up for missing him in the World Cup Final.
So Howard, more of the same please when you ref the Semi Final....and remember it is not a crime to send Vidic off when he systematically goes around the field booting anything that moves.
Date:Monday April 4 2011
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