The Pedmachine on Bravo
Due to an unusual workload beyond VMC, I was unable to write a Ped Report in respect of the Carabao Cup match against Wolverhampton Wanderers. This is the first opportunity I have had to sit at my laptop.
Last season I spent a lot of words expressing my displeasure at the antics of Claudio Bravo when keeping for City. After his fantastic display in the above match, I did not feel able to let the week go by without giving up my praise for this exceptional performance which undoubtedly made the maligned Chilean net minder Man-of-the-Match.
With a second string back four, albeit an excellent one, Mangala excepted, Claudio contrived to make 4 truly exceptional saves from one-on-one situations, all of which one would have expected to see the netting bulge. Most of these chances were established by naïve defending elsewhere, notably Mangala and towards the end the tiring Zinchenko. Mangala was turned too easily, twice and then with ground to make up with the Wolves forward bearing down on Bravo. Twice with his feet and twice with his dives, Bravo kept out the ball at times that would have left City struggling to find an equaliser.
During "normal" and extra time City`s attacking was a tidal wave of sky blue in the direction of the Wanderers goal, but it stalled against a wall of old gold where a 3-4-3 system presented 3 lines close together leaving no space in between. Neither Gundogan, who looked more interest in avoiding injury that winning the match , nor Bernardo, who in my opinion looked to be trying too hard, could make headway in non-existent spaces, and this left Aguero and Sterling stranded.
The Mighty Atom did however have at least 3 scorable chances and should have been seeing himself on the scoreboard heralded as City`s record goalscorer, but after his first miss, which should have been a trademark goal he seemed to go into his shell and played like he was carrying a piano.
De Jesus was left wide left trying to hunt down chances but nothing concrete came his way and Sterling was once again a catalogue of wrong decisions, cutting inside when the corner was open.
Credit at the back though to Adaribaioyo who I thought looked destined for a regular birth alongside John Stones. You don`t see this young man panic, he plays with a confident self-assurance and does his job with apparent ease.
And so to penalties and the ABBA system. Mamma Mia isn`t it good? With Wolves scoring their first, City then had to take 2 and first De Bruyne and Yaya hammered home to at last put City on the front foot. Then it was 2 for Wolves but Bravo stood his ground and pulled off 2 excellent saves so that when Aguero strolled in the cheekily chip the 4th penalty home as the keeper dived into the opposite corner, the job was done.
A cynic might say that the 6 great saves that Bravo made in Tuesday`s match was more than he made in total last season, but we have to hand it to him. At last the crowd and this writer in particular have warmed to him. Bravo, Claudio!!