On a weekend when City’s greatest foe, the red-nosed knight himself, suffered a brain haemorrhage, and the cynics suggest it was deliberate to snaffle the headlines away from City’s third Premier League title-winning ceremony in 6 years, may I begin by wishing Sir Alex Ferguson the swiftest of recoveries. I think, as City fans, we can safely say that his hard work and dedication to his work were what catapulted the Stretfords from their Doldrums to their Everest. But at least he has not been able to hurt us for the last few years. Get well soon, Sir Alex.
And to an extent maybe it did overshadow at least the football at the Etihad yesterday. On the hottest and sunniest day of the year so far, the stage was set for a calypso of football against a struggling side with the promise of a celebration at the end of proceedings. But as is usual on these occasions, the team didn’t quite provide what the supporters wanted and allowed Huddersfield Town, once victims of a 10-goal defeat to City, the chance to remain in the Premier League for at least another season.
Guardiola paraded his best available side with Ederson guarding the pipes behind Walker, Stones, Otamendi and Delph. Fernadinho was in front and behind Silva and De Bruyne with Sterling, de Jesus and Sane up top.
From City’s viewpoint, the game took on damp squib proportions. Huddersfield, whose manager, David Wagner is a known friend of Klopp set out his team to frustrate City and try to hit them on the break. And there was an element of success to that story as the 0-0 scoreline suggests. Not many teams have “nilled” City this season and neither should Huddersfield have been able to do so today.
City created enough chances in the first half to have won this match with 3 wonderful passes along the six-yard line finding no attendant striker to perform the easiest of tap-ins. The injured Sergio Aguero was sadly missed.
For their part, Huddersfield stuck to their task well. They boxed off Sterling and Sane when in possession, leaving them with nowhere to go, and crowded out Silva and De Bruyne, both of whom should have scored anyway.
With over 100 goals in the bag, a massive goal difference of 76, City really wanted to step closer to 100 points and can now only achieve this by beating the South coast pairing of Brighton, conquerors of the Stretfords last week and Southampton, who may be well still be fighting for survival. The next seven days will tell the story.
Because nothing spectacular happened in this match it is probably difficult to say who was City’s best player, but Fernandinho once again springs to mind. Walker looks well out of form, or is he still injured? Stones seemed to be settling back into form, but paper talk of a move away won’t be doing his confidence any good. Otamendi and Delph were reasonably solid. It was good to see Ederson make some useful saves as he had gone through a patch of collecting the ball from his netting.
As I said, the two best playmakers in the division had real problems is prizing open space and Sane and Sterling were subjected to fairly robust attention, not all of which was punished appropriately.
De Jesus was simply not really in the match. He kept coming deep in search of the ball, was double-marked by burly defenders and never really got on the end of anything. It is in matches like this where the true value of Aguero is generally shown. He is more mobile in the box and makes defenders make decisions….oh and he usually scores.
Having seen City were effectively impotent today, Huddersfield took a few chances, especially when they brought on Depoitre and van la Parra towards the end, one of which looked like a Huddersfield Giants second rower who had come to the wrong match. He put himself about inflicting as much damage as he could, but at the end of the day couldn’t take advantage of the 2 decent chances he created.
With the strange permutations still in sight at the foot of the table, provided there is a winner in the Southampton-Swansea match on Tuesday, this point should keep the Terriers safe and Mr & Mrs Terrier should be able to smile next week instead of the frowns they showed on TV last week.
And, so to the presentation of the Premier League Trophy. First of all, once again, our fans let us down by invading the pitch and potentially, once again, inflicting a heavy fine on the Club. There was the usual idiot who had smuggles in a smoke canister and who will be detected on CCTV next week and banned from attending matches next season. These half-wits don’t realise just how easy this process is these days with the definition levels of the CCTV system almost capable of issuing passport-quality photographs. What is the point of running onto the field when your team is about to crowned Champions? These nutters had their day at the Swansea match, so why repeat it? At least the first 2 who ran on from the South Stand were detained and arrested.
The ceremony itself was intended to celebrate all of those who put the production on the road. Backroom staff were included and they all performed a guard of honour as the players were invited to the stage individually, culminating in David Silva followed by Club Captain, Vincent Kompany. Streamers, confetti, fireworks were all part of it as the fans, including I might add a large number of the 3000 Huddersfield supporters gave their appreciation to a team that had played Star Wars football for the 2017-2018 season.
There are two more still to play and although today City played like they had partied a bit too hard during a week when they were given some time to themselves, I am still looking forward to them breaking through the 100-point barrier in true style. Come on City!