Man City manage tough first three points


Newcastle 0 – Man City 2 (Silva, Aguero)

No one ever said it would be easy…and if anyone had, they’d have been wrong. Starting the season off with the reverse fixture of last August, it will have to be admitted that Man City fans would have expected a start akin to then, where they easily won 4-0, scoring early and attacking with intent until the end of the match. However, a Newcastle side with new blood and a determination to redeem their poor end of season form proved a challenge beyond expectation.

Although St. James’ Park is a stadium as intimidating as any, it’s been a while since it’s been the fortress it once was, and an almost full-strength Man City side most likely walked onto the grass quietly confident.

As I predicted earlier, Joe Hart started in goal for the first game of the season, and he was largely uncalled upon in the game, with Newcastle not hitting the target with any of their attempts. His positioning was decent, bar one miscued punch which allowed Mike Williamson a header on goal, which he placed over the bar. Hart’s main duty soon became catching crosses and hitting goal kicks, yet this is unfair to Newcastle’s valiant effort in the match.

Both captains pay their respects for the two Newcastle fans who perished on a Malaysia Airlines flight on the way to the Magpies’ pre season tour.

Before the game,  a collective Man City fandom cast its eyes toward the defensive line in anticipation for any of City’s World Cup globetrotters. They were glad to find the familiar duo of Kompany and Demichelis commanding the back line, yet the absence of Argentinian-turned Manc Pablo Zabaleta in favour of left back Gael Clichy was met with some apprehension: playing him at right back during pre season is fine, but why utilise him there in the real games, especially with a perfectly fit (for once) Micah Richards?

Clichy was surprisingly impressive on the right for a rather left footed player, caused problems only briefly by the menacingly skilful Remy Cabella on the Newcastle left-wing. Aleks Kolarov was rarely caught out defensively (which is a phrase I rarely utter) and was as powerful and enterprising on the left wing as ever. Despite their great work on the flanks, Man City’s defensive merits fell as always on Kompany and Demichelis.

I was worried about Kompany’s post-World Cup fitness, due to his injury on the eveof the tournament and the lack of training time afterward that condemned Pablo Zabaleta and Sergio Aguero to the bench, but as the game progressed, my fears were allayed. Demichelis looked close to his end of season/World Cup form, but the pace of Newcastle’s attack made him look slightly weak.

To my dismay, Yaya Toure looked both tired and unmotivated in the centre of midfield. Whether it be due to the ‘birthday’ fiasco or a lack of fitness I don’t know, but thankfully a glimpse of his huge talent was shown in his genius floated ball to Edin Dzeko for the excellent first goal. Bar this instance of magic, Toure couldn’t seem to find his place in the game, and was beaten to most balls. I hope this isn’t a sign of anything to come – I doubt it is. Fernando was great – but more on him below.

Kun proved his worth following a bumper new five year deal at City with a goal after coming on as a sub.

Aguero proved his star power when he came on for ten minutes of play time at the end – and scored in the 92nd minute. Hopefully his fitness stays with him as his talent has. Stevan Jovetic was both creative and quick in his rare starting place in the team, and always looked ready to create chances. However, he needs to build some confidence, as he was often rushed in his approach and looked reluctant to take on the below-par Newcastle defence.


3. Remy Cabella

Remy Cabella put in a very good performance on his Newcastle debut; surely a sign of many things to come from the Frenchman

As our editor and fellow We Are Hooligans writer, Drew Thompson, said:

"‘Cabella did well throughout, bringing pace, creativity and a direct style that David Ginola would be proud of. ‘"

Cabella, despite Newcastle’s valiant work today, was the only player in the Magpies side that truly worried me when he ran forward. His seemingly endless bag of tricks bamboozled Demichelis and Clichy a few times, and he managed to be play with both power and finesse, while always looking for space to either run or pass into. One to watch this year.

2. Edin Dzeko

Put in a great performance today for the good of the side. At St. James’ Park, the poacher came good in the assisting stakes

The official Barclays Man of The Match for today, it took Dzeko (as per usual) a good twenty minutes to truly get into the match. Once he did though, it was clear that his hold up play has come along leaps and bounds from even last season. And that assist for Silva…wow. Who knew Edin Dzeko could pull off tricks like that? Although he hasn’t yet got his goal tally this year, he should be plenty proud of his performance. Maybe I was wrong…if Dzeko continues in this vain Negredo could become a true benchwarmer.

1. Fernando

Mandatory Credit: Gary Rohman/Sporting KC-USA TODAY Sports

Although not everyone’s first choice as MoTM, Fernando has mounted his appeal to become a midfield starter at the Etihad. Whether it be the dirty work he revelled in doing (such as picking up loose balls and outmuscling Colback and Sissoko in midfield) or his exempliary defensive performance (peaking with his brilliant block to deny Ayoze Perez a debut goal), Fernando performed to a world class standard throughout.

He and Kompany seemed to form a good partnership down the middle, the two linking up to cut out attacks on more than one occasion (He does need to work on his aggression though, two cards in the last two games as well as many more at Porto could be a slight problem).