The Ped Report City 2-3 Stretford
As you leave the spawning grounds of the green and golders, and pass along Briscoe Lane towards the gasometer, you always look forward to hitting a red light at the bottom where a look to the left shows the Etihad Stadium in all its glory. Proudly topping the hill, rising faster than a Blue Moon, the pulses start to race quickly in anticipation of the day's football.
And today was no exception as a team from just outside Manchester that is rapidly becoming the region's second team, rolled up with their monochrome "supporters" from all parts of the globe, with limits on those from Salford.
The ticketless, those with forged tickets, those with replaced tickets and sold the originals all took on the fruitless task of trying to get in and took their exit to Ashton New Road, their tails between their legs.
But that was to be their only bad news for today, except for the dearth of pubs in and around the Etihad, where they might find a welcome.
The Stretfords lined-up in a more positive fashion than they had on their last visit, but it was a line-up that should have proved fruitful for City as they paraded two wide men in the shape of Valencia and the serial grass visitor formerly known as Young. This leaves two channels where City could have had a direct run at their pedestrian back line and from the off it looked as though City would exploit this. Then after fifteen minutes, for some inexplicable reason Kompany decided to run with the ball from defence when he had passing options, he was robbed by Van Persie who passed to the unattended Rooney who drilled in an excellent shot to give not a prayer. A goal against the run of play and a gift.
Thirteen minutes later it was party time again as once again some neat play got Rooney free enough to drill home number two and the Blues looked sunk. Off went the injured Kompany and on came Kolo Toure.
City had gone with their top line-up except for reasons best known to the manager he brought in Balotelli for Tevez. This didn't work. Their were gaps galore in the Stretford defence and only Aguero to exploit them mainly unassisted. You could see him looking for Tevez as Balotelli once again either went wide or ran the wrong routes. But City having more or less run the match and being 2-0 adrift one still had the feeling that they could rescue something from this game, if not win it.
The second half was all City. They pounded and pounded at the Stretford door to the extent that on the hour virtually half the team had a shot that was blocked before it fell to Yaya to crash home a close range shot into the bottom corner.
Ferguson now loaded his back line. Smalling was already on for Evans and now on came the England Superstar Phil Jones.
Balotelli was finally replaced by Tevez and City's forward play took on a new meaning. Four minutes left and a corner once again found no one, but the ball came out to the edge of the box where my hero Zabaleta hit it first time and it scorched through the said Phil Jones legs and into the net.
This was no more than City deserved, but just as we were starting to think they would win, a needless free kick was given away by Tevez. Up stepped Van Persie to drill in the set piece which deflected off Nasri out of Hart's reach to send the colourless numpties wild.
Our Ex-Arsenal contingent certainly played a big part in City losing out today. Stretford only had three shots and scored them all! The crazy thing was that whichever back four we played, they always looked in control. Barry worked hard as usual, Yaya seemed to get himself going before being replaced and Aguero tried hard on his own to carve something out.
Balotelli just wasn't at the races and Nasri continues to be a poor man's David Silva, who was once again superb in keeping the ball moving. Clichy had a good game but nobody is touching Pablo Zabaleta right now. This remarkable footballer by comparison cost City nothing and is probably the least paid on the field, but this man dies for Manchester City. He scored his goal, allowed himself a little celebration then was back telling the team to get on with winning the game. There is one man who did not deserve to be on a losing side today. In fact, City didn't deserve to lose. Stretford just got lucky...again. I think Hart collected the ball three times from his goal and didn't have a lot else to do. Without those strikers United have very little to worry City, but when their return is more or less 100% as it was today, then they are still in with a shout.
Some of you didn't agree with me last year telling you that City should have secured Juan Mata. Too much like Silva some said. And your problem is? Mata has plundered ten goals this season, that's more than Nasri and Silva between them, although El Magio has been injured. Who now would not rather have Mata than Nasri? Their former team mate Soldado still bangs in the goals for Valencia CF. He got another last night. He could be the answer to the perceived goal shortage as Balotelli must sooner or later be making his way out of the Etihad. One note of disappointment that once he went off injured, Kompany promptly left the Stadium. Club Captain? What is that about?
Fortress Etihad was going to be breached one day and the relief on the Stretford bench at the end showed just how frightened they have become at the rise and rise of their noisy neighbours.
As usual, those despicable characters who masquerade as Stretford fans smashed up the seats in the South Stand and set fire to the gents WC. And they wonder why no-one likes them. The Pedmachine despises them. The educationally challenged amongst them happily singing "We shall not be moved, just like the team that's gonna win the football league." I hope so, because that means they get relegated twice!
all times East Manchester
Sa 15Dec 12h45 Newcastle, St James' Park, PL
Sa 22Dec 15h00 Reading, The Etihad, PL
We 26Dec 15h00 Sunderland, Stadium of Light, PL
Sa 29Dec 15h00 Norwich, Carrow Road, PL
Tu 01Jan 15h00 Stoke, The Etihad, PL
Sa/Su 05/06 Jan TBC Watford, The Etihad, FAC
Su 13Jan 16h00 Arsenal, The Emirates, PL
Sa 19Jan 15h00 Fulham, The Etihad, PL
Tu 29Jan 19h45 QPR, Loftus Road, PL