Date: 18th May 2011 at 11:51am
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With the FA Cup and Champions League football already in the bag and targets therefore comfortably achieved, would the City machine grind to an end of season halt?

Never seen it!

As the faithful poured into Eastlands to herald their heroes, the Blues put on a performance befitting the occasion in once again putting Stoke City to the sword.

Their fans were a meagre token of those whose company we enjoyed so much at Wembley on Saturday, but the PA announcer still thanked them for their graciousness and played out ‘Delilah’ as a mark of our Club’s respect for them.

After that the evening turned Blue.

City fielded an strong side against a Stoke eleven that looked as though they were the only eleven they had fit. Jones, Pennant and Huth were missing and the resilience associated with this remarkable outfit did not appear at all.

Taking a pass from Milner after 14 minutes, Tevez outfoxed two Stoke defenders, dancing through them to open up the sight of goal before blasting a shot into the top corner across Sorensen.

That was pretty well the job done as Stoke just as at Wembley could not find a way through the tight City team unbeaten in six home matches and clinically looking for a top three finish.

Also as at Wembley, City’s chances came and went and it was probably a disappointment to see only 1-0 on the half time scoreboard.
The wizard that is Silva again let an opportunity pass by as he tried to change foot and let himself be robbed by a Potters defender. This sensational footballer does just about everything right but surely it is time that he realised that if he sees the white of the posts….SHOOT!

The second half opened with the team of individual mercenaries dictating play and with some marvellous movement and passing and looking totally convincing. Goals would come, just a matter of when.

And when it did arrive the season of unlikely goalscorers at Eastlands continued when after 53 minutes, Johnson’s pin point free kick found Lescott unmarked and unchallenged six yards out and he headed City into a 2-0 lead.

Stoke’s beleagured defence was being tormented by a focussed City team who continued to dominate with sleek movement, crisp ball-winning and dangerous goal attempts. On the other side it was life at the Alamo at the back leaving John Carew cutting a lonely furrow up front, starved of the ball and barely getting a sniff. City has fourteen goal attempts in all.

On the hour Edin Dzeko replaced Silva and immediately got in on the act sidestepping a defender and getting a clear shot which Sorensen once again did well to keep out, although Dzeko should really have buried it. In the next movement Stoke conceded a free kick ten yards outside the box in the inside right position. With Silva off the field the left foot option was unavailable so up stepped the Talisman.

Carlos Tevez curled the ball to the right of the wall, about five yards or so wide of the goal. It swung round and went in the top corner of the net. Awesome! Poor Sorensen didn’t have a prayer as Tevez drew himself level with Berbaflop at the top of the golden boot table.

City now totally untroubled played out the match which could have yielded more goals, but seemed happy at 3-0. The only downside was an injury to Zabaleta which reduced City to ten men for the last five minutes and meant he had to miss the lap of appreciation given to the fans after the match. City did not parade the FA Cup as a mark of respect to Stoke but there will be a homecoming parade next Monday when an open top bus will leave Manchester Town Hall at 1800 and arrive at the Stadium around 2000hrs. Those who didn’t get to Wembley have their chance to see the Cup in the flesh (or silver) then.

So the season of achievement goes on for Manchester City. We simply have to match Arsenal’s result on Sunday to finish third in the league and avoid the banana skin of playing a qualifier in the Champions League. If third place drops into the shopping basket, then it opens up at least six Champions League group stage matches and the shopping basket should start to brim with even more world class talent at Eastlands.

Followers of the Ped Report will know that when Tevez was having his mid-season tantrum I predicted that he would be playing his football alongside Ronaldo next season. How interesting that at least one newspaper this morning seems to share that view. However whereas my supposition was that it would be at the Estadio de Santiago Bernabeu, the other author suggests that it could well be at Eastlands as City prepare a monstrous bid for Ronaldo! Wouldn’t that help to bring the best out of Balotelli?

One more game to go and the Ashburton Bottling Factory will need to be in full production come Sunday. Will Mark Hughes send his team out for a token appearance to try to ensure that City don’t progress to third? Or will City simply flatten Bolton?

The Wanderers under Owen Coyle do try to play decent football but lack the personnel needed to make it work. As always and away from home we need to be on our toes, get in front and stay there. City has shown us over the last month, Everton apart, that we have an end-of-season product. We need to go to the well one more time and produce another ninety minutes of total football before the agents come flocking to Manchester and only to Eastlands.

As for Tevez..will he stay or will he go? Argentina is not an option. Clubs there only pay league two money and even Tevez handler cannot reduce his income that much. Other European destinations may be options but once again there are only two or three clubs with deep enough pockets. City will not allow it to drag on all summer. He will be told he either wants what he has started here or somebody else will apply the finishing touches. And we can afford Ronaldo, we can afford Messi, we can afford Iniesta, we can afford big fat Bobby Taylor, we can afford Fabregas who frankly at this point looks the poorer option.

However we would love to see him pip Berbaflop to the golden boot, although I suspect the Bulgarian will playagainst Blackpool because he gets all his goals against poorer end teams. I just hop also that Tevez plays for the team and not just for his personal ambitions.

Those of us that have at times toiled watching City for almost 50 years are pinching ourselves.


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