Date: 24th August 2010 at 11:03am
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After watching Stephen Ireland steer his new team to a 6-0 defeat, what a paradox we were to witness some 24 hours later at Eastlands last night.

James Milner demonstrated precisely why Mancini has hunted him down all summer with an excellent performance in front of the onlooking Sheikh Mansour.

I have said that despite our summer spending we were not far away from our targets last season, perhaps just two goals. I also suggested that major surgery was not necessarily needed just one or two areas strengthening, one of which, in the absence of Michael Johnson, was the role of a play-making midfielder capable of pace, tenacity, guile and vision. James Milner provided thast in abundance last night leaving a Gerrard-Torres laden Liverpool side looking shell-shocked and the guest from Stretford eating his Kami-Kaze words whilst he re-wrote his game plan for 10 November.

Ably supported by Toure Yaya, Milner showed the abilites over which Mike Summerbee has eulogised for at least 4 years and highlighted the omissions from Ireland’s game over the last season.

From the moment he made a laser perfect pass to former Villa and now City team mate Gareth Barry to open the scoring, Milner showed a great capacity to stretch defenders leaving gaps closer to goal for others notably Tevez to exploit.

In all this was a systematic destruction of a top-four competitor by a team which may have spent plenty of money but was even so without Silva, withough Kolarov, without Boateng and without Balotelli. Oh and by the way a team that still has to gel.

We moved the ball wide and deep quickly, played the incisive passes into the channels, nullified their midfield movement mainly thank to De Jong and reduced Gerrard to laughable attempts from 35 yards which ballooned into the seating decks. When Liverpool got their chances midway through the second half Joe Hart pulled off two astonishing saves to keep them empty.

One swallow doesn’t make a spring, but this team has now improved on the results of the corresponding fixtures last season and even the Sky commentators are starting to take note that, ladies and gentlemen, Manchester City is really on the march and what we want to happen really will. Like me you probably never felt more like singing the Blues!

 

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