The start of a new era for City with a new badge, a new manager and new players
The pre-season games still leave many questions to be answered. The friendly against Bayonne Munich gave 19 players a run out - some more minutes than others and I am sure I actually saw Ya Ya sprint - when he came on as sub! No sign of Sagna and Kevin yet so what the team for the first game will be is anybody's guess. I am sure there will be more transfers soon.
No sooner had i wrote that and City were spending again. Though both the new youngsters will be loaned out.
The game against St Johnstone behind closed doors ended in a two nil win and the pre-season game against Arsenal ended with a 3-2 loss. The new playing out of defence tactic was strewn with errors and the efforts of Kolarov and Fernando in the centre of defence were not promising so it was difficult to imagine what the team would be against Sunderland in the first game.
The draw for the Champions League gave us a tie against Steaua Bucharest with the first tie away on August 16th
. At last the Stones move has gone through and so we might play 1-3-4 -2-1 on Saturday against Sunderland. As it happened Pep had Kolarov paired with Stones in the centre of the defence and they did not do too badly. Otamendi was back for the game in Bucharest which ended with City easily winning five nil and it could have gone to double figures had Aguero scored from his two penalties. As it was he scored a great hat-trick and will get all the headlines but there is new life in Sterling who made two goals and won a penalty. Silva and De Bruyne were back to form and some of the City inter passing was wonderful to watch. However our opponents were a great deal poorer than expected and we will face tougher opposition in Stoke on Saturday. It was however our best ever win away in Europe and I am sure there will be more goals to come in the return fixture.
The other major talking spot is the possible departure of Joe Hart relegated to the bench with the likely arrival of Bravo from Barcelona.
Bravo has now signed a four year deal so will he make his debut on Sunday!?!
After all the pre-match hype the 'derby' against United turned out to be a cracking game. City were magnificent in that first 40 minutes and deserved to be more than the two goals we were ahead. Man of the match Kevin De Bruyne was outstanding throughout and his ability to read the game so well reminded me of Ali Benarbia who played for City in 2001-2002 when Keegan was manager. Benarbia made his debut against Birmingham in September 2001 -pics here
- and immediately made an impact.
But back to the present and the error that let United back into the game will be a talking point for a long time. A Rooney free kick was miss handled by Bravo who pushed the ball to the feet of Ibrahimovic who scored. Was it a lack of communication between Bravo and Stones who appeared to impede the keeper? So many will say Joe Hart would have punched that ball away. Bravo did not inspire much confidence in the second half either when United improved but he has only just arrived and we must give him time to get to know the League and his colleagues. It was one hell of a match to make his debut!
Otamendi played really well in defence and Silva was back to his best.
Recent events have shown us that we have some way to go to prove that playing the Pep way is going to win us many trophies. It is going to take time for the existing players to achieve the level of performance required. It is now six games on the trot that we have failed to win a game yet still we are at the top of the Premiership. Defensive errors have lead to goals being scored against us on several occasions now and I hope before too long this problem will vanish!
Scoring goals has been difficult too. In several games the opposing goalkeeper has had few shots to save and we rarely have a shot from outside the area. Penalty misses too have not helped. Surely this is discussed before games!
It is very rare we leave a player up field when we defend a corner. We do have small fast forwards who would need extra marking with the possibility of a quick clearance by City.
No sooner had I written the above did City score from outside the area against West Brom thanks to a terrific effort by Aguero who was back to his best. He is heading towards becoming City's top cored ever!
Gundogan too had a very good game scoring a couple and linking well with Aguero.
Lets hope we keep up this form against Barcelona.
39 year old Sun Jihai has now retired from soccer. He played 130 games for City from 2002 to 2008 and scored three goals. He mainly played in defence and was a favorite among City fans. He was the first Asian player to play for City
With all the fuss recently about the number of games during the Christmas period I delved into my records of games watched in days gone by and discovered back in the 50's there were several occasions on Christmas morning when I cycled to watch Stockport County and then after a quick sandwich at home cycled to Maine Road to watch either City or United in the afternoon. Don't forget United played at Maine Road as Old Trafford had been bombed and in those days many football supporters watched as many games as possible after the war.
The most games I watched over the Christmas period was in the 1953-54 season. On the morning of the 25th it was Stockport County 6 Chesterfield 1. Then in the afternoon it was United 5 Sheffield W 2. On Boxing Day it was City 2 Sheff United 1. On the 28th it was back to Stockport to see the home side beat Wigan 5-1 and on New Years Day I went to see Bolton beat Sheffield U 2-1 and a day later it was City v Sunderland - 2-1 for City. No I didn't cycle to Bolton! I went to watch Nat Lofthouse and he scored!
In those days the City side included stars like Bert Trautmann, Dave Ewing, Roy Paul, Don Revie and Roy Clarke.
While City fans wait with baited breath to see who we will sign in the January transfer period news came through of the death of Graham Taylor at the age of 72. He was England manager in 1990-93 and managed Lincoln, Watford, Aston Villa and Wolves. I believe I only saw him play once in Feb 1966 at Maine Road when City beat Grimsby Town two nil in a FA Cup round 4 game. The City team that day was - Dowd, Kennedy, Sear: Doyle Woods ,Oakes: Summerbee, Crossan, Pardoe, Young, Connor.
The Grimsby team was - Wright: Thompson, Taylor: Ross, Jobling, Cockerill: Collins, Tees, Green, Foster and Hill. Scorers for City were Mike Summerbee and an own goal by Cockerill. 38,000 attended the game.
Many tributes have been coming in.
The incredible four nil defeat at Goodison Park reminded me of past defeats I had actually witnessed. A very early one was in November 1944 when I saw Everton for the first time. Some bloke called Tommy Lawton scored for Everton in their 3-1 win - you might have heard of him! The City team that day was - Swift : Clark, Bray: Walsh, Eastwood, Mc Dowell : King, Williamson, Heale, Smith, Taylor.
In December 1949 I went to Derby to watch City on a very wet day and City got slaughtered 7 nil on a very muddy pitch. The team the day was - Trautmann, Sproston, Phillips: Murray, Fagan, Walsh: Oakes, Black, Turnbull, Clarke and Westwood. It was Trautmann's third game for City.
Another poor display was against Southampton in January 1960 in the FA Cup the Saints winning 5-1 with Reeve scoring four for the visitors. The City team was - Trautmann: Branagan, Sear: Oakes, McTavish, Barnes: Fagan, Barlow, McAdams, Hayes, Colbridge.
The worst double I have had the displeasure to witness was in the 1962-63 season. In September City were beaten 6-1 by West Ham United at home. Trautmann was sent off for kicking the ball at referee Stokes and Alan Oakes went into goal. The City team was - Trautmann, Betts, Kennedy: Benson, Leivers, Oakes: Barlow Dobing, Harley, Young and Hayes.For West Ham Hurst scored a couple. Then at the end of the season Cliff Sear who I knew got me a ticket for the return at Upton Park. Oh dear it was 6-1 again and City ere relegated. The team that day was- Dowd: Kennedy, Sear: Oakes, Lievers Gray: Young ,Dobing, Harley, Hayes and Wagstaffe.
So back to today and the display against Everton was a bit of a disaster to say the least. Just how can a team that had 70%
possession not score and then allow the opposition to have just 4 shots nd score from all of them. The City defence was once more well below par with Bravo again failing to make a save. Defensive errors and a failure to mark opponents continue to increase the goals against total. As far as the goals scored total it is lagging behind the other teams in the top six. Although we have plenty of possession our speed of approach and passing is too regimented and it gives opposing defence's time to fill the penalty area giving City forwards less room to create a goal scoring chance. Let's hope the much awaited debut of Jesus against Spurs will turn the tide.