Having issued a statement of intent in beating Rotherham United 7-0 in the FA Cup at the weekend, Pep Guardiola and his men showed no remorse at all for League 1 Burton Albion last night as the Brewers found themselves on the wrong end of a 9-0 demolition.
Gabriel de Jesus helped himself to four goals and the man-of-the-match award as De Bruyne, Mahrez, Walker, Zinchenko and Foden, scoring his second in four days, provided the goals as destination Wembley appeared once again above the parapet.
There was no taking a chance with a weakened team as they did last season against Bristol City, there were experiments, just a Club delivering what its fans want – another day out at the National Stadium, where Premier League opposition in the shape of Chelsea or Spuds will provide a much sterner challenge.
Nigel Clough was asked when he thought the alarm bells started to ring and he replied “When the draw was made”, excellent humour under strenuous circumstances. I will say that his team showed much more ambition than the Premier League sides who have exited the Etihad having conceded half-a-dozen. Indeed at 1-0, Harness had a golden chance to equalise, as Zinchenko once again got drawn out of position leaving him open at the far post. A Premier League striker would have scored.
Although they were tanned by a scoring equalling Guardiola’s top score as a manager, this match should equally be a celebration of a League 1 side getting to the semi-final of a major senior football competition, a competition that is often scorned by the “big boys” especially those at the wrong end of the East Lancashire Road.
I have long held the view that winning a trophy in February sets your team up for an assault on the title and I cannot fathom why the Stretfords, the Scousers et al think they are above this competition. In some ways, it highlights a lack of winning ambition, especially as Liverpool seem to specialise in losing Cup Finals.
Pep Guardiola was total class as he walked around the pitch to shake hands and offer some words of wisdom to the Burton players, none more so than goaltender Collins whose career could have been destroyed by a result like this. I’m sure Pep and Nigel Clough would have enjoyed a Rioja Gran Reserva before the visitors returned home last night.
It was pleasing to see de Jesus cashing-in. You can only beat what’s in front of you and Gabriel got the reward for his hard work, that sometimes in the Premier League goes unrewarded. The Blues need to have a prolific scorer to add to Sergigol and I still share the belief that de Jesus will go on to become that man. As goals seem to fly in from all around from all around the field, it is not important immediately. I just love to see him score.
With 96 goals in the bank in all competitions already this season, nearly 20 more than their nearest rivals across Europe, City are in pole position for an assault on all four fronts this season. Isn’t that more exciting than concentrating on one?