Is the Manchester city steamroller getting back into full swing? Pep Guardiola told his charges last season “You have to fight for everything, every year” and that must have been the message as Pep introduced several changes to the side that beat Liverpool on Thursday.
With Aguero and David Silva given the day off and Sane and Bernardo having a day on the bench alongside Fernandinho, Danilo and Laporte, it was a day for Gundogan, Mahrez, Foden de Bruyne, de Jesus and Walker to project themselves.
You can only play what’s in front of you and except for the first half-hour and only then because de Jesus missed a hatful of chances, Rotherham United, arriving with 6000 fans across 2 levels of the South Stand, simply could not stem the blue tide determined to put this tie to bed.
That City won 7-0 with seven different scorers told its own story. Yes, one was on “own -goal”, but the others were the culmination of breathtaking football, the type you would expect from a side returning to confidence against opposition from a lower division. Another was scored by Phil Foden, his first at the Etihad and although it was perhaps a little scruffy he was delighted to score in front of a crowd of 52000.
Raheem Sterling was fantastic and at his devastating best, the Millers defenders unable to catch him. He scored the first and set up a tap-in for de Jesus in the second half.
Centre stage belonged to KDB, for the first hour at least. He dominated midfield and controlled the attack waves duly assisted by Gundogan who seemed to have a part in almost all the goals.
It is worrying that de Jesus failed to accept the gilt-edged chances created for him early in the match, but the goal he did score would have brought him an inner smile. It did highlight the importance of King Sergigol, especially in a key match. Having netted his 250th career goal against the Scousers, there is no reason why the Argentinian cannot go on to set a huge record for Raheem to chase!
With Fulham, Cardiff and Leicester notably among the Premier League casualties removed from the competition by lower-league opposition, City were in no mood to follow the route taken last term when they were eliminated by Wigan Athletic. True City’s “second string” includes players who would be automatic choice across the globe for other teams and maybe the teams mentioned above “B” offering isn’t but it was also a tidy work out for De Bruyne, returning to fitness but still some way off full.
We await the draw tonight. With City getting Rotherham, the Stretford getting Reading and Spuds getting Tranmere, as you would expect dear old Sue is certain the draw is fixed as Liverpool got Wolves away. If Klopp messes too much with his team, there could be an upset there. Why don’t teams show respect to this fantastic cup competition and set out to win it?