Date: 25th September 2013 at 9:54am
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Suspect team selections, lack of motivation and a seeming desire not to want to progress have marred City’s interventions in the Capital One Cup or its equivalents over the last very many seasons, so only two days after their dissemination of their mousy neighbours from Stretford, we waited to see what type of side Pellegrini would present us with at the Etihad last night.

In fairness and despite the shock result in last season’s FA Cup final, if City paraded eleven blue and white wheelie bins, they should have been able to extract victory from this match. In fact what we witnessed was quality resource management and an even more quality outcome.

The starting eleven was all change as the big names either got a night off or a token trot out. Pantilimon guarded the pipes, Richards return was warmly received by the fans as he was captain for the night. It was good to see Boyata given an opportunity together with Lescott, with another returnee from injury, Clichy completing the backline.

The only nervousness in the line-up was probably Garcia alongside Fernandinho in midfield, Milner and Lopes providing the width. Dzeko and Jovetic spearheaded the attack.

The gulf in class even between this line-up and Wigan was evident from the start as City dominated everything and essentially conceded practically nothing. Milner was busy down the right and Jovetic, still looking ring rusty looked lively darting into unexpected places and helping set things up.

Richards, no doubt pleased to be involved again rose to head a corner over the top in a way that has been missing from City’s play for a while as City piled the pressure on Boyce and his boys in front of the Wigan net. Boyata too got in on the act also bringing a good save from Wigan’s keeper, Nicholls.

Richards looked like a man on a mission as his shot on sight was blocked and his next cross was met by Dzeko’s head but was off target. Richards next foray down the right saw his daisy cutter pass met by Lopes who was unfortunate to hit the bar with an arrow of a shot.

It was surprising that the first goal took so long to come along and with 200 walk-ups still queuing at the ticket office, the breakthrough finally came. Dzeko had been setting his sights for most of the evening when finally, just after the half hour a magnificent through pass from Fernandinho found Dzeko just onside and his touch was just as deft as he slipped the ball past Nicholls.

This signalled the avalanche as City continued to pile forward in search of more goals. Jovetic too had been setting his sights in the latter part of the first half and it was only a matter of time before the floodgates would open.

The second half saw Yaya enter the fray in place of Fernandinho which told the audience that Pellegrini was taking this trophy opportunity seriously. In the early stages of the second half it was Lopes who looked lively, finding space on the left to provide two convertible crosses and finally having a shot blocked from Milner’s cross.

After knocking on more doors than a postman, hitting goalkeeper, sundry defenders and the post, the second breakthrough finally arrived on the hour with play building up down the right and Richards’ cross was bundled in by Jovetic. It looked a bit scruffy but they all count and who scored scruffier goals than the Goat?

Navas was next to enter, replacing Lopes who had an excellent match and did everything except score. This young man looks as though he’s going to make it and fits the Pellegrini blueprint for the Blues. This forced a switch for Milner but he never complains. He just gets on with it and very soon provided a gilt-edged chance for Dzeko who couldn’t direct it past Nicholls.

After 75 minutes Jovetic was sliced in half by the kind of challenge that would have left the guilty one not even waiting for a red card to come out last season. Tonight Mr Friend let off the Wigan player with a yellow. The punishment was incomplete though as the free kick was 25 yards out to the left of the goal, so up stepped Yaya to place his now trademark attempt clear of the keeper and into the net.

On 82 minutes Milner once again on the right hand side of Wigan’s defence, despite an effort to force him into the advertising boards by Boyce. His low cross found Jovetic whose close control enabled him once to bundle the ball home from close range. Again, not one for the scrapbook but definitely one for the scrappy book.

Still City weren’t finished as final substitute Negredo found Navas who scorched his way into the box and sent an equal scorcher into the back of the net to make it 5-0.

So did we learn anything? Cynics will say “It was only Wigan”, but they still have to be beaten, something City couldn’t do at Wembley last season. We learned that City have four strikers all in top form even though one is still not 100% match fit. Jovetic will have enjoyed getting 90 minutes under his belt. He will have enjoyed his brace of goals even better.

We learned also that goals can come from midfield. A ten-goal-a-season midfielder is worth his weight in gold and hasn’t Yaya already hit five? Navas too got in on the act and of course Nasri was on the board on Sunday. Has any City midfielder scored more than ten since Marc-Vivienne FoĆ©? I need to check the stats.

We learned that maybe, just maybe the penny has finally dropped in the land of Micah Richards. I don’t see him as a threat to Zaba but I do see him a threat to those on the left. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Richards at right back and play-anywhere Zaba on the left. No wonder Kolarov got through more work than usual against united.

We learned also that Pellegrini has a totally different approach to his player management. Wholesale changes, yes, but still keeping his key men involved. We finally learned that City have now scored nine goals in two matches. Premier League beware!

UPCOMING DATES FOR YOUR FILOFAX:
all times East Manchester BST

Sa 28 Sep 15h00 Aston Villa, Villa Park PL
We 2 Oct Bayern Munich, The Etihad, CLGS2
Sa 05 Oct 12h45 Everton, The Etihad PL
Sa 19 Oct 17h30 West Ham, Upton Park PL
We 23 Oct 17h00 CSKA Moscow, Arena Khimki CLGS3
Su 27 Oct 16h00 Chelsea, Stamford Bridge PL
Sa 02 Nov 15h00 GMT Norwich City, The Etihad PL
Tu 05 Nov 17h00 GMT CSKA Moscow, The Etihad CLGS4
Su 10 Nov 1405 GMT Sunderland, Stadium of Light PL
Su 24 Nov 13h30 GMT Spurs, The Etihad PL
We 27 Nov 19h45 GMT Viktoria Plzen, The Etihad CLGS5
Tu 01 Dec 16h10 GMT Swansea City, The Etihad PL
We 4 Dec 20h00 GMT West Brom, The Hawthorns PL

 
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