The Ped Report City 3-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
It was "all change" once again for Roberto Mancini`s team as they set up face Wolves in the Premier League yesterday.
Fresh from the knowledge that their present for taking Wolves apart in the Carling Cup was a trip to play our feeder team at the Ashburton Bottling Factory, whilst the warm balls fished out Crystal Palace at Stretford, that was last week`s third best team in a two team match. Is it true that the one substitution error made by red-nose was not bringing on Howard Webb?
With Gael Clichy given a well-earned rest, Kolarov kept his place at left back. Lescott, Kompany and Richards making up the back line. The midfield had an attacking flavour to it. Barry detailed to "hold" whilst Silva was returned to open the box of fireworks with Yaya, Nasri to move and run, leaving Aguero and Dzeko on scoring duty.
Wolves, suitably hammered at home by a mainly second string City team earlier in the week were clearly reading from the Everton Book of Football Strangulation, which had earlier let the Toffees down once again.
It was all hands to the pump at the back from Wolves, with little attacking intent and Hennessy intent on time wasting from minute one.So the invitation was there from minute one for wave after wave of City attack, with Wolves keen to get everyone behind the ball and foul, stop, wrestle and block to their hearts content in the hope that Stuart Attwell would favour them against City`s livewires.
And for much of the first half he did. City laboured under provocation, didn`t get the rub of the green and found Hennessy not so much in time-wasting form but in top goalkeeping form as he produced a series of outrageous saves to keep his team in it. Shots that over the last seven days would easily have found their way to the back of the net all stuck to the former City youngster, with at various times Dzeko and Aguero starting to walk back to half way only to find their goalbound wonder strikes had been manfully turned away by the keeper.
Some of Attwell`s interpretation of the laws of the game were not in keeping with the referees chart and Wolves achieved target one in getting the fans on someone else`s back and becoming clearly frustrated as decisions went against City and there was no respite with some of the more tenacious tackles offered and distributed by the likes of Hunt in Wolves midfield. It is astonishing that only Doyle created paperwork for the referee on the Wolves front, whereas Bary, Dzeko and Kompany kept the D1s going in for City.
At half time a frustrated capacity audience looked on astonished at the scoreline and no doubt Mick McCarthy`s words were "more of the same please" as his boys took the field for the second half.
City once again began on the front foot desperate to alter the scoreboard, behind which there a fox sleeping on a parapet. Sleeping in peace as it happens now that Wolves had silenced the home crowd.
But there is an expectation that City will find a way to score. With an average of 3 per match they are unlikely to be "nilled" by lower table opposition, at the expense of sounding arrogant might I add, and so it proved at last in the 52nd minute.
The hitherto exceptional Hennessy lost concentration and was closed down by Aguero and was left needing to clear to his left. Aguero cutely blocked his attempted clearance diverting it to the unmarked Dzeko, 20 yards out and without a defender in sight. Edin calmly tucked it into the empty as three Wolves defenders came haring back.
This was harsh treatment for Hennessy but in some ways payback for the obvious time-wasting which he interspersed with his magnificent saves in the first half.
Dzeko was soon yellow carded and replaced by Adam Johnson.
Wolves tried to make something happen but just don`t have the personnel to deal with City on a sustained basis. Kolarov was getting some joy down the left and there could have been two quick goals has Aguero had his sights set.
And then breakthrough number two duly arrived. City built up down the right with Richards, Johnson and Aguero, the final pass finding Silva. The Magician drilled in a well struck shot that was parried by Hennessy into the path of Kolarov, backing up well into the box for the simplest of tap-ins.
Effectively that should have been that, but as I`ve said on many occasions, City do give you a chance and so they did in this match. It was however a chance without benefits as once again Hart failed to hold on to a fairly routine shot, spilling it into the path of the oncoming Wolves attackers. Of all people Vincent Kompany executed a professional foul give the beleaguered Attwell the easy task of pointing to the spot and hunting for his red card. We now lose VK for 3 matches. Hunt easily, it seemed, sent Hart grapping handfuls of fresh air as the ball populated the other corner of the net. Game on, some might say.
However unlike a certain team in red being unable to cope with playing with ten men last weekend, City do have a plan C and although with Wolves getting two late goals last week and now throwing on the wide attackers, Ebanks-Blake and Jarvis, they clearly thought that there were pickings for the them as the match approached the last fifteen.
Mancini sacrificed Aguero for Savic, who I hope gets the nod when Kompany sits out his suspension and left Balotelli who had earlier replaced Nasri, as the lone ranger.
Fair play to Mario, he put in an energetic cameo leaving you wondering exactly who did only have ten men as he ran chased and closed down. As the clock ticked towards 90 minutes he charged down the left hand side drawing three Wolves defenders, but with only a belated Yaya Toure for company. Mario tuned inside and played in Toure, who in turn drew the final defender and squared to the oncoming Johnson, in acres of space.
Johnson had time to tee himself up and hammer a trademark super-curler around the outstretched hand of Hennessy and into the bottom corner. At last it finally was game, set and match to City. "We`re Man City, we`ll score when we want" Today it was "We`ll score when we need to ".
There were one or two lessons to be learned here. First off the new found on-field patience really works for City. They are a much fitter team than any we have ever seen in Sky Blue and it is almost certain that the teams from the lower echelons of the Premier League will run out of steam some time against a side that has you running from minute one and which sprays the ball all around the field. So fans, please . . it is not the end of the world if we don`t score three in the first half!.
Second, this is not a one man team. Silva was quiet by his standards but still did enough to be involved in the second goal and keep the ball moving with rapidity throughout the match despite the over- zealous attention he was getting from Hunt, O`Hara and Doyle. Nasri, although a bit inaccurate early on produced an excellent performance, as in similar vein did Yaya.
Third, in days gone by I would not have liked to face the prospect of three matches minus Vincent Kompany. He took a chance, it didn`t work, so he gets a mandatory non-rotation rest.
However, fourth, this would not have been bestowed upon VK had Hart once again properly dealt with a routine shot on goal. Who on earth is coaching him to spoon out shots to on-coming forwards? True Hennessy today did likewise for City`s second goal, but Hart has now divvied up four times in recent matches. Twice at Bayern, once against Villareal and here today. Joseph, you are England`s number one. You are allowed to catch a low shot. If you can`t, send it out sideways of for a corner. It is much safer than an oncoming forward or getting the club`s champion defender sent off. Today, not only did you cost City a goal against, you cost City a needless sending-off and the loss of the captain for three matches. Do not turn into Nick Weaver Mark II.
That incident apart, City`s back line looked pretty well untroubled against a side that beat them away last season.
I think Johnson once again signed himself up as an "impact substitute". Brought on to offer something different after Dzeko was booked, he certainly did that. He was lively down the right and scored an excellent goal, the best of the match.
Balotelli, although only a replacement for this match, showed more signs of his arrival and maturity. He energetic and dangerous every time he got the ball and he certainly disturbed the Wolves defence in creating Johnson`s goal.
The squad moves forward at pace, laying almost all of the "typical City" ghosts. They now beat the teams that have caused us mischief in years gone by and are improving records against peer teams at the top of the table. Everyone is now looking at City as their "Cup Final" as they pit their collective wits against a frightening squad, where every man is now playing for a shirt and if he isn`t, he will be gone. QPR might present us with some new challenges next weekend in their subbuteo football stadium and parading Barton and SWP, but surely we will have enough in the tank to beat them.
So we ended the day still five points clear at the top, nine clear of third placed Chelsea who actually suffered at home at the hands of the Bottling Factory who are nicely warming up Van Persie for a January transfer.
We`re off to Valencia on Tuesday in readiness for the Villareal return match and this time with Mario approaching his peak and Milner and Clichy having a rest yesterday we should be in position to improve our position in our Champions League group. Here`s also to Bayern who we would prefer to give Napoli a beating.
And as for the fox..well he had a bit of a stroll in the second half up and down the South Stand parapet and then settled down once again for a nap.