Date:Sunday May 11 2014
Manuel Pellegrini, This Charming Man, The Engineer and his players delivered the second and for me the most important trophy of the season at the Etihad today.
Despite the rain, despite Big Sam's assertion that his team would put in a shift to ensure that Steven Gerrard would be the benefactor and despite the joke known as Kevin Nolan saying he would make sure of the same outcome because he is a Scouser who supports Liverpool. It was a question of "same old, same old" as West Ham failed to learn from what happened to Aston Villa on Wednesday, trying to park the proverbial bus and just as Villa did, coming up proverbially empty.
With City needing only to avoid defeat and with Liverpool's Martin Skrtl obliging with an early own goal to add himself to the woes at the wrong end of the East Lancs Road, it was never going to be the nailbiting event that we witnessed two years ag on the famous "Squeaky Bum Sunday".
City were in total control from minute one with the Hammers sadly deploying nine men on the edge of their own penalty box and Andy Carroll parked eighty yards away upfield trying to cope with captain fantastic Vincent Kompany and the newly respected Martin Demichelis. Without, might I add any success at all.
Indeed the half time statistics showed City had knocked on the Irons door 23 times and that the boys from the East End had not registered any shots at all. In fact the only real connection made by a West Ham forward was when the despicable Nolan quite literally and in pre-meditated fashion booted Joe Hart and was lucky to get a yellow card. Maybe today's referees had been told to ensure all teams ended matches with a full quota of footballers on the field.
City pushed, moved and probed for the entire first half and most of the time a West Ham leg blocked shots, the keeper made a couple of good saves and nothing looked as though it would go City's way. David Silva weaved his magic, Samir Nasri again buzzed like an angry hornet and Yaya Touré pressed and pressed but for the most part to no real avail.
But then finally just ahead of half time, Nasri from the inside right position just outside the box drilled a shot across the keeper. Adrian just about got his fingertips to it but only diverted it into the bottom corner of his net. Party time had come to The Etihad. The Pablo Zabaleta song rang from the levels and with the news that Liverpool were still adrift, the revised version of the Steve Gerrard song came also to the fore.
On the break Silva almost made it 2-0 with an awesome piece of magic that curled against the post and bounced away to safety as almost the entire crowd gave a sharp intake of break at the sheer skill that this amazing footballer brings to the Barclays Premier League.
So, ahead at the break City were on target to end the day as Champions and nothing in the second half suggested that there would be a different outcome. City continued to attack at will, whilst West Ham looked to be in the check-in queue at Stanstead Airport. They didn't really attack other than outside the laws of the game. Carroll did nothing to suggest he should be a late contender for the trip to Brazil and I cannot recall this once proud and well supported football team creating anything at all to concern Hart, Kompany and Demichelis.
For their part City simply strolled about, not seemingly intent on setting a new goals scored record, they needed a 4-0 win to achieve that, but they kept the ball and make it impossible for Sam Allardyce's men to offer any real resistance.
There was a long line of corners and attacks from City and not long after the break in what I lovingly call "City time", the Hammers failed to clear their lines, saw a loose ball find Kompany who turned on a fifty pence piece and slotted home the title clincher. Clearly delighted he repeated the celebration carried out when he scored against Stretford's finest in the match that more or less decided the destination of the 2011/12 title.
The rest of the match was pretty much routine stuff as City selected not to add to any injury worries especially as most of the team is heading to the World Cup once their jolly to Abu Dhabi has concluded. Warm weather training? I doubt it. That's what Shrek does when he can't be bothered playing for United.
Manuel Pellegrini had everyone to choose from today. He went with his current favoured eleven with Javi Garcia preferred to Fernandinho. The Engineer really has carved out a role for Garcia this year and the response has been terrific. He sits in front of the back, his license to release Yaya to create havoc. But when Pablo Zabaleta or Aleks Kolarov venture forward he drops into the back four to create the fourth man or at worst a back three. This is precisely what Gerrard did not do against Crystal Palace when he left his centre backs stretched to the extent that they gave up on the "tidal" approach and getting out and getting back in. Kompany and Demichelis achieve this with the precision of a Swiss Watch, staying in each other's eyeline and moving in rehearsed unison, at the same time they have the cover that Liverpool's defenders don't have.
Sergio Aguero, whilst no doubt glad to be back was clearly still short of fitness and lacked that explosive turn of pace that scares defenders to death. But in reality it was not needed today, as City won the title in second gear. Nobody really needed to break sweat, although the overall performance of Nasri was excellent and his well-executed goal topped the day off for him.
I was disappointed with the field invasion at the end of the match, I thought our fans were better than that as they caused a delay to and almost cancellation of the closing ceremony, potentially depriving the law abiding many of the chance to see the presentation of the trophy.
At least today the Barclays events staff were not re-loading the wagon when the winning goals were being scored. But what a drawn out affair. The world's press and TV crews lay in wait and almost every player plus Pellegrini had to endure endless interviews.
Indeed the successful manager was hurled into the air NFL style by his bigger and stronger footballers in a plan that looked to be hatched by The Beast and Demichelis. It was City's day lock, stock and barrel and not even news that Liverpool had managed to turn things around at home to Newcastle could dampen proceedings, especially as not even Jodrell Bank could envisage West Ham scoring three times.
Eventually, the moronic deployment who invaded the field responded to the public address announcement and the boos of those remaining in their seats and the ceremony could get under way. The trophy was shown to all sides of the stadium including the away section as some West Ham fans had stayed to look on. Gone are the days when the end of season match against West Ham meant that one or both of us was getting re-classified, usually by means of a drop to the Championship. There were many such matches towards the end of the seasons at Maine Road.
It was an unfussy, professional performance by top quality professional footballers, intent on ensuring that they would end the day as Champions for the second time in three seasons.
And the scoreboard caption of the day? When they showed the top seven in the league with four teams in the Champions League, two qualifying for the Europa League and the team finishing seventh qualifying for nothing, who was it? Oh yes, Stretford's Finest, formerly known as Manchester United. But all is not lost from the rubbish performing along Chester Road. Bobby Charlton assures the footballing world that the best team in...Manchester next season will be The Stretfords. Dream on you silly man. Your club is destitute, your team is destitute of ideas and without the kind of surgery you probably can't afford, there's nowt down for that team next season. Even that clown Dwight Yorke was pontificating likewise on Sky TV, where their "Game of the Day" had just finished. Maybe they've all had an orange juice too many.
The Pedmachine will post this report whilst he finishes his champagne and re-watches THE CHAMPIONS highlights, you know, MANCHESTER CITY and then prepares for tomorrow's civic parade in the City Centre.
all times USA Local Time Zone
Su 27 Jul 16h00 AC Milan - Heinz Field, Pittsburgh - International Champions Cup
We 30 Jul 19h00 Liverpool - Yankee Stadium, New York - International Champions Cup
Sa 02 Aug 18h30 Olympiacos - TCF Bank, Minneapolis - International Champions Cup
Date:Sunday May 11 2014
Down To Fate? (Tuesday January 27 2015)
Inter Play Down Yaya Rumours (Sunday January 25 2015)
Pellegrini - We Have No FA Cup Excuse (Saturday January 24 2015)
Stats: Manchester City v Middlesbrough (Saturday January 24 2015)
Manchester City v Middlesbrough - Team Line-Ups (Saturday January 24 2015)
No Villa Move For Scott (Saturday January 24 2015)
Team News - City v Middlesbrough (Friday January 23 2015)
Containing Boro (Friday January 23 2015)
FA Cup Magic Not Lost On Fernando (Friday January 23 2015)
Pellegrini - We Need To Return To Our Best (Friday January 23 2015)
|Man City||3||-||0||Crystal Palace|
|2. Man City||22||14||5||3||+23||47|
|4. Man Utd||22||11||7||4||+15||40|
|7. West Ham||22||10||6||6||+10||36|
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