Johnny On The Spot - September Review
That's ENTERTAINMENT. September was the month wherein Pep Guardiola's re-energised Manchester City squad were going to come in for severe scrutiny amid a relentless media campaign waiting for a fall that never came, repelled with some of the finest, swashbuckling football that CityZens of Planet Blue have witnessed at our club. We have seen cavalier attacking flair in The City Way from some Blues squads across the decades but what EL Boss delivered last month has been simply breathtaking. They came, they saw, they swamped and battered.
Talk it up, Blues and soak it in. Something undeniably special is afoot and from a watertight dressing room to spinning turnstile, we are operating firmly in the next game cannot come around quick enough territory.
Legendary City captain Andy Morrison, without whose efforts we would not be living the dream today, remarked at the Academy open day in pre-season how he wants to be entertained and that this is what Manchester City's finest traditions and objectives as a football club have always been about. The big Scot was absolutely spot on, but did even he really believe the sky blue touch paper would be set aflame with such a blaze of excitement this autumn?
The statistics are piling up in thrill-a-calculator style. To the no doubt seething chagrin of bar propping, pontificating Street of Shame hacks on Talkshite or the Sunday Suppository, City are now unbeaten in 16 games across four competitions. The signs were there towards the end of the last campaign that something was starting to click within the City side's nucleus. Expand that record out retroactively across 4 more games and you will find that City's last cup defeat came in extra time at Wembley in an FA Cup semi-final to a fortuitous Arsenal and our last Premier League defeat came at the home of the then champions elect Chelsea. Both of those games should have been won by City with aplomb, but gradually we have seen the erratic inconsistencies that led to those reverses become ironed out.
Pay no heed to the assertion that it is still early doors. September's intensive run of 7 fixtures had a critical edge to it and it was absolutely essential that The Blues secured a solid start to the season. We can only point to the ludicrous expulsion of Kyle Walker that compounded the loss of 2 points against a pisspoor Everton in our second fixture as the season's one blip thus far.
Furthermore, pay no heed to the other assertion that City started the season in similar fashion last year. Similar yes, statistically but no, not inclusively. This time last season The Blues had not yet taken on any established top 5 Premier League opponents and had also had to negotiate the Champions League qualifying round. There is a manner and swagger about this unbeaten run that carries none of the fragility that we saw in the opening exchanges last season. City had evolved into flat-track bullies since our last title win in 2014 and I think that the most pleasing aspect of this season to date has been how both Liverpool and champions Chelsea have been so convincingly dispatched. Parking the bus and countering against the big sides to grind out results is not an option.
The movement, will to win, speed of thought and agility that Manchester City 2017 pulsates with is perhaps best encapsulated in Gabriel de Jesus. The kid from Brazil is a microcosm of what this City team is all about. He loses the ball, he wants it back and he will cover all areas of the pitch to get it. His athleticism mirrors that of the team-mates around him who as a group have looked fitter and better conditioned than any opposition that we have faced.
It's just about all good. I say that with an eye on City's lavish medical facilities. The loss of key men Mendy, Kompany and Aguero for varying indefinite periods are sizeable blows but these setbacks have been absorbed and bypassed to date with experienced savvy and nous.
Stand out performers in September have been numerous. I think that the youthful triumvirate of Sane, Sterling and Jesus have been sensational in attack whilst at the back Ederson has oozed a self-belief and confidence that has flooded through our defenders, 7 clean sheets a testament to that influence. Fernandinho and Delph have been superbly combative all over the park but the pick of a bristling bunch has been De Bruyne. "The complete player." (copyright Antonio Conté.)
Home comforts beckon in October with a steady run of fixtures at The Etihad. More of that in my October Preview. For now, we kick back in the latest international break on cloud nine with an unbeaten record stretching back 5 months that reads like this:
Played 16, Won 13, Drawn 3. Goals For 47, Goals Against 7.
How Did Johnny Do?
City 2 Liverpool 2 D
Feyenoord 2 City 2 D
Watford 0 City 3 W
West Brom 0 City 2 W
City 4 Palace 0 W
City 2 Shakhtar 0 W
Chelsea 1 City 2 W
And Lo It Came To Pass…
City 5 Liverpool 0 W
Feyenoord 0 City 4 W
Watford 0 City 6 W
West Brom 1 City 2 W
City 5 Palace 0 W
City 2 Shakhtar 0 W
Chelsea 0 City 1 W
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