Are City fans witnessing a transition in the meaning of “typical City”? Having watched the Blues since 1962, living through all the trauma that has been heaped upon City during that time, the term “typical City” became synonymous with something negative. You know the kind of thing – we’re beating United 3-0 with four minutes to go and you think we’ll be lucky to get a draw!
But, dear readers, things look as though they are changing, and with that change a whole new ethos as to how football in the Premier League should be played.
Last season Pep Guardiola perplexed us with his tactics, his selections and indeed at times his results, but this time around things have taken on a different complexion. Manchester City seems to now be synonymous with a glut of goals arriving from any and all sources on the field of play. Effectively City look as if they are going to score each and every time they attack and yesterday against Stoke City at the Etihad that was pretty much the case.
Despite his long-distance stalwarts travelling half way round the globe and back again, it was sleep Friday and get back at it Saturday. And this welter of stars showed what playing for Manchester City is about these days. Nobody wants to take an enforced day off, because if they do, their replacement will play a blinder and he might get back in the team in a hurry.
Buoyed by the bus-parkers of Stretford settling for a draw at Anfield earlier, the Blues really saw their chance to cash-up both in terms of collecting three points and scoring a welter of goals.
The sights were set in the first few minutes when Sane or Sterling really should have put City in front, but it wasn’t long before whatever resistance the Potters thought they had was in tatters.
After sixteen minutes the outstanding Kevin De Bruyne, down the right, guided an inch perfect pass to Walker who spotted de Jesus near-post run and the young Brazilian steered the pass into the net. Seconds later it was “set” for City although “match” would have to wait a little longer.
De Bruyne was at the heart of it again. As the Stoke defence looked for a shot on goal, De Bruyne had other ideas sliding another wonderful pass to Sane who slid one along the six yard line for Sterling to hammer home. Clinical finishing from a footballer on top form this season.
Another five minutes and another goal with a triple-SSS stamp to it. David Silva had been unlucky with an attempt a minute or so earlier but a flowing City move involving Sane passing across goal to Sterling then Raheem reversing to Silva saw el Mago almost miscontrol but still find enough to toe poke it home. It was party time in the grades, but earlier references to a previous form of “typical City” were awaiting.
It commenced seconds ahead of the break. Stoke had more or less their first attack and shades of three years ago emerged. Diouf got open, took a shot that probably wouldn’t have hurt Ederson, but a deflection off Delph took it over the keeper and into the net to spark chants of “We’re gonna win 4-3” among the expectant visiting supporters. Guardiola stormed down the tunnel at the end of the half, unhappy that City had sacrificed their run of goals against-NIL to such a scruffy goal born out of a lack of concentration. A half that could easily have ended 7-0 to City was pegged at 3-1.
Santa Claus arrived also at the start of the second half too. Diouf again found some uncontested space in the box and his free header was heading to nowhere until it struck Walker on the thigh and diverted into the corner off the post. Now the Potters really did think that the improbable was no longer impossible.
But Kevin De Bruyne had other ideas. Not liking what he was seeing, he decided to take the match by the scruff of the neck and get it won once and for all. Ten minutes after Stoke fans were screaming the words to “Delilah” around the South Stand, KDB won a tackle in midfield and set off down the right. Spotting the wide run of de Jesus he sent in a dream curling pass behind the Stoke defence. De Jesus was on it in a flash and battered it past Butland to make it 4-2 and effectively signal the end of his afternoon. He does not like being taken off this young man, especially when he is on a hat trick. But bench time it was. Exit de Jesus enter Bernardo Silva fresh from his dynamic performance for Portugal in midweek.
Once the replacements start to happen, we no longer feel that the team is weakened and Bernardo is never going to be a weakness. This guy, too, looks exceptional. On the hour, Fernandinho, who I believe, Ederson excepted, was the only member of the line-up who hadn’t scored this season decided it was his turn and what a goal it was.
He received a short pass from Delph about thirty yards out and unleashed an Exocet straight into the top corner giving Butland no chance. Was it the goal of the day? There would be six others in contention before this match ended!
A minute or two later, De Bruyne was at it again. Finding space midway into the Stoke half, he drilled another inch-perfect pass into the path of Sane who calmly stroked it home. This was the signal for a half-hour’s rest for the Belgian who is quite simply in scintillating form. Gundogan was to be the beneficiary this time. Still feeling his way back after injury, he, too, is hardly a sign of weakness in Pep’s amazing squad this time around.
On 78 minutes Sterling cutting in from the right had a shot blocked and returned. This time he saw Bernardo in space to his left and set him up nicely to slide the ball, with the outside of left foot past Butland, but inside the far post to complete the scoring.
Yaya Toure was given a cameo and looked as though he, too, wanted a place in this exhiliarating side. Despite the fans willing him to shoot on sight, he was more about ball retention than waste as City strolled their way to an easy 7-2 win.
Believe me, this is another chapter in the evolution of our favourite Club. The football being played is breathtaking and every other team on the planet should be taking note. This team can go on to be even better than the side he built at Barcelona, and this team is playing in the Premier League.
With the Stretfords and Liverpool sharing points, Arsenal and Chelsea losing them to lowly opposition, except that by beating Arsenal, Watford are in the Champions League places, only Spuds came home with three points . City’s win and goalfest puts them ahead of United by two points and a growing goal difference.
With everyone praising City to the rafters, do I feel shades of the former “typical City” emerging? Last season, City’s start was also electric, but a Champions League struggle against the unfancied Celtic brought the juggernaut to a season defining halt. Results thereafter were for a while strained enough to remove City from title contention and leave the door open for Chelsea.
We will have to beware of Napoli on Tuesday. They are no mugs and play decent football. I’d like to think the Blues will have enough to collect three points, but if Aguero is fit and he plays, I hope he fits into this pattern of pass to a better positioned player and doesn’t, greedily go in search of Club scoring record.
I understand that Napoli have sold all of their allocation for this match and that we can expect random Italianos to pop-up all over the Etihad. It should make for an interesting evening. Come on City!!!!!!
Join Vital Man City
It’s easy to REGISTER HERE, simply click the link and enjoy getting involved!