Date:Sunday October 6 2013
With the media that is perhaps more accredited than this eulogising about the astonishing football being played by Everton under the stewardship of Roberto Martinez, the way the same masterminded City's day off at Wembley last season plus the ongoing criticism of Joe Hart, pencils were again getting sharpened in the Press Tribunes at the Etihad Stadium yesterday.
Pellegrini chopped six off the roster from the team outclassed in the Champions League on Wednesday, presenting his beleaguered goalkeeper with yet another back four to work behind. Richards, Clichy and Nastasic were shed in favour of Zabaleta, Kolarov and Lescott.
You could almost sense the fun and games when after only 16 minutes a route-one toe ender out of the Everton defence saw Lukaku steal a march, probably an offside one, on Lescott, take the ball wide into the box, cut back at Lescott's quarter-hearted challenge and then slide the ball across Hart and saw it divert into the net off a weak-looking hand. There was a great case for this being another Hart Howler and two seasons ago this would have been a routine save for England's Number One, but in these troubled, confidence sagging times, it ends up in the net.
So City were losing 1-0 against a team known for exiting the Etihad with easy points as well as dishing out a considerable amount of punishment to a squad they see as "east meat".
And we might have been thinking of this situation coming to fruition again had City not retaliated quickly. Approaching the edge of the box, Yaya spotted that Negredo had dragged Coleman wide. He slid a precision pass inside Coleman, who looked like something out of a Saturday morning children's cartoon as he spun 360 degrees in search of the ball. The Beast skipped past him, on to the ball and drilled it right through Howard, who, sporting a strange looking beard that looks to have been bought in Benidorm, also looked to have his head on upside down.
The rest of the first half played out in battle form, with Everton, now finding no way to loanee Lukaku and having no other real threat decided to step up the ante by reverting to the tactics we have come to hate from them. But they simply couldn't manage Negredo in any sense as he let them know who was the gaffer, he scored and dragged them all over the place.
With Kompany once again heading for the treatment table and Nastasic somehow surviving a nailed-on penalty appeal against him for once again a totally needless push on Lukaku who almost ended up in the cameraman's trench, Alvaro went tete-a-tete with Coleman as the ball had been cleared into City's half. This for some reason drew the attention of Dusty Bin, but didn't stop the revived Silva drifting into the inside right channel. The Magician read Aguero's run as quickly as the Everton defence didn't. Typically, he drew the cover one way and then hammered the ball beyond Howard and just inside the far post.
As the teams headed for the dressing room Martinez was vocal in his criticism of the referee for denying them the penalty and to that extent the Pedmachine has some sympathy with him. But you cannot turn back the clock, nor the scoreboard and City were where they belonged. In front.
So which teams would come out for the second half? Would City continue to take the game forward, or think the job was done? Would Everton play some of this football which was yet to be signposted at the Etihad, or would they retun to the dubious tactics of ET and try to kick City out of the game. City were showing well in the foul count, in effect sticking up for themselves against a team that usually catches them waving a white flag. Referee Jon Moss had been busy flashing cards like a croupier in a casino, City somehow winning 5-4 in that department. In fact it could be said that all he gave City in the first half was two yellow cards!
But as the game approached the last twenty minutes, the suicidal Coleman followed Nastasic's needless routines, gripping Zabaleta as he ran round him. Zaba lost his footing and Mr Moss pointed to the spot. Martinez went ballisitic as Howard guessed right, pushed Aguero's spot kick onto the post and then diverted the rebound into his own net.
At 3-1 Everton's day was over. The Everton-esque retribution didn't matter as they turned their attention to clubbing Silva and Nasri and anybody else they could catch. But they couldn't catch Negredo, especially when he carved out his own chance which somehow Howard kept out, although his hands must still be stinging this morning. He also somehow kept out a late chance from Nasri in similar fashion.
The scoreboard showed 3-1, but this could have been anything. City could and should have scored four or five more. Aguero looked to be a shade off key, after he was just wide following a rehearsed free kick and then took an air shot as his standing leg caved in at just the wrong time, before his outstanding goal brightened his face, ignited total joy to the right of the goalposts and despair to the left.
Returning from injury against Everton is a tough assignment for a man with the skills of Silva, but not only was he up to the task, but he too got himself a yellow card for giving them a bit back. As much as they were AWOL on Wednesday Yaya and Fernandinho were in more command, with Fernandinho, too getting in on the yellow card act and must be close to his first ban of the season.
In the absence of any real attacking threat other than Lukaku, the centre-back pairing of Lescott and Nastasic got away without any additional scares and Milner simply grafted for 90 minutes, he too fielding a yellow card.
For Hart, his afternoon could have been under much more scrutiny had the outcome not gone City's way. Pellegrini will have been pleased to stop the rot and see his team back in the top three. He now needs to work out ways to win away. West Ham are next up on the "just visiting" front. It was a stale 0-0 draw last season.
Up front we have seen enough from Negredo already to suggest that he and Aguero should be the automatic selections. He leads the line in total combative style and lets them know he's in town. He also has the weekly knack of scoring, which is quite helpful, too.
The Pedmachine is delighted that City took the Scousers to the cleaners and that for once, ably led by Negredo gave them a bit of their own medicine. Not even the group that turned up ticketless and tried to prise every door open, not even those visiting fans trying to get in on junior tickets, or tendering alternative currency that cannot be described as legal tender at the bars, or those ordering four pints and then legging it with two without paying, could have turned their day around. The day was blue, the day was sky blue.
UPCOMING DATES FOR YOUR FILOFAX:
all times East Manchester BST
Sa 19 Oct 17h30 West Ham, Upton Park PL
We 23 Oct 17h00 CSKA Moscow, Arena Khimki CLGS3
Su 27 Oct 16h00 Chelsea, Stamford Bridge PL
We 30 Oct TBC Newcastle, St James' Park LC4
Sa 02 Nov 15h00 GMT Norwich City, The Etihad PL
Tu 05 Nov 19h45 GMT CSKA Moscow, The Etihad CLGS4
Su 10 Nov 1405 GMT Sunderland, Stadium of Light PL
Su 24 Nov 13h30 GMT Spurs, The Etihad PL
We 27 Nov 19h45 GMT Viktoria Plzen, The Etihad CLGS5
Su 01 Dec 16h10 GMT Swansea City, The Etihad PL
We 04 Dec 20h00 GMT West Brom, The Hawthorns PL
Sa 07 Dec 15h00 GMT Southampton, St Mary's Stadium PL
Tu 10 Dec 19h45 GMT Bayern Munich, Allianz Arena CLGS
Sa 14 Dec 15h00 GMT Arsenal, The Etihad PL
Sa 21 Dec 15h00 GMT Fulham, Craven Cottage PL
Th 26 Dec 15h00 GMT Liverpool, The Etihad PL
Sa 28 Dec 15h00 GMT Crystal Palace, The Etihad PL
We 01 Jan2014 15h00 GMT Swansea City, Liberty Stadium PL
Date:Sunday October 6 2013
Video: Man City Prepare For Bayern Munich (Tuesday December 10 2013)
City Start FA Cup Campaign At Blackburn (Sunday December 8 2013)
The Ped Report Southampton 1-1 City (Sunday December 8 2013)
Stats: Southampton v Manchester City (Saturday December 7 2013)
The Saints versus The Citizens (Friday December 6 2013)
Fine Tuning The City Juggernaut (Friday December 6 2013)
The Ped Report West Brom 2-3 City (Thursday December 5 2013)
Stats: West Bromwich Albion v Manchester City (Wednesday December 4 2013)
VIDEO: Pellegrini Hails Kompany Return (Wednesday December 4 2013)
El Kun And The Hunt For Red December (Tuesday December 3 2013)
|4.||Colin Is The King||141|
|4. Man City||15||9||2||4||26||29|
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