Monday, 24 October 2011

Demolition Derby

The scene was set, Mancini's 100th game in charge at City, United had gone unbeaten at home in the league for just over a year. Nani had billed this as the biggest derby ever. Pundits and so called experts were saying although City were top of the league they had not played anyone of note (lets forget about hammering Spurs shall we?). While United had well beat a capitulating Arsenal reserves, drew against a Liverpool side failing to set the world alight and were fantastically lucky to beat Chelsea with 2 offside goals and with Torres unable to hit a cow's arse with a banjo.

Admittedly for the first 15-20 minutes United were the better side. City didn't press hard enough and gave them far too much time on the ball. Young looked to be the biggest threat early on as he drew a number of fouls (not all by honest means) down City's right flank. I'll concede that the ref wouldn't have had a good view of him doing a Tom Daley over Micah's and Milner's challenges otherwise we should have seen a yellow card for simulation.

But after setting his house on fire only 36 hours earlier through setting off fireworks from his bathroom window (yeah, why not? It's Mario), Mario Balotelli set the game alight by striking an exquisitely nonchalant side footed shot into the bottom corner of De Gea's net in the 22nd minute. And in true Balotelli style uncovered a tongue in cheek message underneath his City shirt which read "Why always me?". This also got him a yellow card, and I still don't understand why that rule hasn't been scrapped.  

From that point on, City were a better team, they were THE better team and went into half time with a deserved lead. And after Evans got a straight red (and rightly so) for impeding the ever more reliable Balotelli shortly after the break the City of old would still have made a meal of it. Not this time, we're made of tougher stuff nowadays.

I wont go into detail about the rest of the match as I don't think I could do it justice. Just watch the extended highlights for yourself on, again, and again, and again.

Micah, one of the two survivors in the lineup that played in City's 2008 derby win at the swamp, received the Man of the Match award. He was absolutely immense going forward and at the back and kept the threat from United to a minimum.

Over half of United's shots, and the only ones on target, came from outside of the box, which is testament to the defensive work of the 4 at the back and indeed the work of the team as a whole, although I'm sure Mancini will have words regarding the goal City conceded as we all know how he hates conceding.

By the time that goal went in though, City had already scored 3, and although it saw United have a spell of pressure on City, it was fairly short-lived. All that goal really did was spur City on to really kill the game off. What happened next was any number of superlatives as City systematically tore United apart piece by piece. Even though United were a man down, there can simply be no excuses for how they were taught a real lesson in football to that extent.

What's really good about this is that each of City's strikers scored, as well as David Silva who once again made the opposition look ridiculous on a number of occasions. Dzeko 2, Balotelli 2 and Aguero 1. Does anyone remember what Paul Merson said at the beginning of the season? Apparently we were really going to miss Tevez. HA!

Another mention has to go to James Milner who has been in great form recently and really stepped up to the plate again today after being picked ahead of Samir Nasri. His work rate and awareness today were 2nd to none and he is really showing why he was brought to City in the first place.

I'm not sure we'd have seen a performance quite like that had we walked over Villareal in midweek. The tough test they provided coupled with the last gasp win looks to have given City an added belief that wasn't quite there before.

I mentioned the games against Everton and Liverpool at the end of last season and the results directly following them. We've seen a certain mental strength developing at City over the last 12 months coming off the back of difficult games or disappointing results. The game against Fulham and the result after that is another example of this mentality that Mancini is instilling within the club.
City have now scored a record number of goals in the Premier League after 9 games. A record that was previously held by Arsenal's invincibles. Now I'm not saying City will win the league but that was as big a statement of intent as you could possibly give. 

The rest of the season starts here. This was billed as the big test of how City really measured up to the title challenge and City past with flying colours. Next up is Mick MacCarthy Wolves (both Carling Cup and Premier League). And no disrespect to them, but these are now the games City are really expected to win. But in the past we've seen City go into games overconfident and been punished for it. Another factor in the new mentality is for this not to happen. A result such as this breeds overconfidence, but the players now have to make sure they go into the next game totally focussed.

One question will continue to give Mancini a massive headache though; who on earth gets a place in the starting 11 ahead of the others?  City haven't had it quite so good for a long time, and long may it continue!

You can check out the City Stats from this game by clicking HERE


1 comment:

  1. Bill Andy Farley24 October 2011 at 14:00

    Excellent blog Michael.


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