Pre-season Up And Running For City - A Ped View
This year the close-season has changed from the silly season to the crazy season as Pep Guardiola has proven himself not to be too shy of breaking a different set of managerial records. This time is not about past results, more like future ones.
With all of last season`s full backs heading for the exit chute, rather than promote the likes of Maffeo and Angelino, supposedly groomed to be the future of the Club, he has shipped them out to Girona, which looks as though it has become the vehicle to be used by City designed to give the young players more match day minutes, albeit in some kind of mickey-mouse league.
In have come Danilo, Mendy, Walker, Ederson and Bernardo Silva whereas no end of players have been either ousted or farmed out on loan. Kelechi Iheanacho, a favourite among the faithful looks to be headed to the Fox and Hounds, Hart has once again been given the bum`s rush, joining Zaba at West Ham while the unlikely contestants of Mangala, Bony and the unsettling Nasri seem to be hanging about.
In excess of £200million has been spent on refreshing the squad to the extent that Pep has more or less two teams at his disposal with a bench stacked with A-listers and an attack like no other ever seen in the Premier League. And maybe Pep still hasn`t finished. He clearly wants Sanchez from the London-based Elite Development Squad aka Arsenal and I hear he also wants a centre back. I do wish he would enter the fray for Van Dijk. Yes he says he wants to play for Liverpool, a thought that leaves Sue both crooling and disappointed because unless they shift Coutinho, I can`t see them forking out the kind of fortune Southampton want for Virgil. I have said in these pages for over two years now that VV is the man to take over from VK. Why does no one listen to the Pedmachine?
The pre-season got off to an innocuous start again the Stretfords. As expected Moaning Maureen fielded his best available eleven after having dipped their bread among the cannon-fodder of the NSL. Guardiola probably not wanting his first eleven to suffer adversely opposed the Stretfords with a half-and-half team and the amazing twin-strike force, Lukaku and Rashford helped themselves to a couple of easy goals while the red press and radio humiliated Ederson for a couple of errors and ignoring an excellent triple save. As my good friend Red Empty Seats said on Twitter - "City win, it`s only a friendly, United win and it`s Champions in the making"
By the time City played Real Madrid, most of the normal first team were put in together, the upshot being that City trashed them 4-1. Yes there was no Ronaldo or Sergio Ramos, but hey it was a top team that Real put out and they only scored against a rookie goalkeeper in the last minute. City scored some excellent goals with unlikely scorers such as Stones and Otamendi. It was good to see Sterling get among the goals, but it was even more special to see the goal scored by Brahim Diaz, who I hope is one for the not too distant future before City feeds him to someone else.
Next stop was a match against the media`s second darlings, Tottenham, grateful vendors of Kyle Walker who looks pretty good to me and retainers of Trippier, who was adorned City`s younger reaches but never quite got on the first team bus with any regularity.
John Stones was again among the goals with a neat header from a pinpoint De Bruyne free kick after only ten minutes. De Bruyne certainly looks hungry again and has set off at great pace with his assisits. Gabriel Jesus was causing Spuds all kinds of problems at the back and it was left to Lloris to underline his value to his club with a series of good saves.
Ederson was not be left out making a picture-book save to tip an Eriksen free kick over the top. Shortly thereafter Kane missed one of his trade mark efforts and Lloris was forced into a great save from new-man Danilo. Ahead of the break Jesus suffered similarly as what should have been a tap-in ended up in the crowd.
Indeed, it seemed as though De Bruyne was feeding Jesus with alarming regularity as the Blues tore Spuds to chips, but the young Brazilian had clearly left his shooting boots at home.
Aguero, too looked to have also suffered as three chances in almost as many minutes came back either off the post, crossbar off Vorm. It just wouldn`t go in for the Mighty Atom.
After a plethora of misses which have left Pocchetino heading for the drug cabinet, City finally made it safe after 71 minutes when Sterling beat the offside trap and ran on to a through pass to slot it scruffily past the Spuds net minder.
Eriksen and Janssen caused a bit of consternation at the other end, but Ederson is growing in confidence and made an excellent save as did Grimshaw, when it looked easier for both players to score.
There was an inevitability that in stoppage time, City would seal the match and when the goal came it was from Diaz, who had thrown his hat into the ring against Real Madrid. This time he beat the trap, got in behind the Spuds defence, before cheekily dummying Vorm and sliding the ball home and sliding the first team door ajar.
It has been an interesting pre-season so far as we gear up to the opening day in less than 2 weeks. Let`s hope that city get off to the same blistering start as last season, but this time keep it going. At a time when Conte is bleating about his team being tired already and the Stretford buying hatchetmen, the Premier League will be looking to the Etihad for easy-on-the-eye football.