Did you enjoy that? Did you?!
Yes, of course you did! What a great afternoon, for so many reasons.
And so, a fresh start for me and the team. A new season, a new stand, and thus for me a new seat, up in the 3rd tier, with excellent views of the CIS Tower and more. As a mover and shaker at City, naturally I had already had an exclusive “all-areas” tour of the new developments at the Etihad, because that’s how I roll, but seeing it full to the rafters (no, seriously!) was a wonderful sight, and the view is superb, though my ageing eyes may struggle with some of the game’s finer points.
And what a weird feeling it was sitting in a new seat, the first time for a good few years – it felt like an away match at times, with an excellent atmosphere and everyone crammed into the bar area at half-time, which is sadly a bit too small for such an impressive new development. Still, there has to be SOMETHING to moan about, and the bar facilities are always an obvious place to go to, as useless as ever. It was nice to experience the biggest home attendance in my lifetime though.
Don’t take all of that last paragraph seriously.
And a fresh start too for Jose Mourinho, and his testosterone-fuelled bench, where thankfully banter and lad bible humour can now roam freely without being disrupted by the pre-Raphaelite curls of Eva Carneiro – surely now results will pick up without such constraints. Still, with this week’s newspaper revelations that Eva enjoys both sex AND wine, it seems Jose made the right decision. You really can’t have such a harlot working at a football club, a place of high morals and clean living.
I’ve never liked Jose Mourinho. He may be, like Alex Ferguson, excellent company and a kind spirit away from the football arena, but that’s by the by, as when he is working he is an insufferable arse who has had (some) hacks slavering at his every word for far too long, though I think even Rob Beasley may be getting tired of licking his anal sphincter every day. Ok, maybe not.
He is a bore, and I have never truly believed that his mind games are as successful as many would have you believe, though he has clearly fostered a good team spirit and “us-against-them” attitude in the past. However, I wonder if for even his squad his tactics are getting tiresome and ineffectual now. He is brilliant at getting results even when performances dip, and I didn’t think Chelsea played that well last season much of the time, but they got the points, and that’s what counts. However, the next few months will show if he can still perform his magic, with a team that has a brilliant spine but is not world class. Mourinho has embarrassed himself this week, his tactics have achieved nothing except alienate many close to him, and he must now respond with results before he drags the already tarnished image of the club further into the gutter. Sorry if that sounds harsh on Chelsea, a club similar to ours much of the time through recent decades, but they have not helped themselves recently, and fans may not care how well their club is perceived if the team is winning trophies, but once the trophies dry up, it becomes a bigger problem.
And don’t get me started on that official match report on the Chelsea website – a piece that would have been better suited appearing in Pravda.
Anyway, apparently there was a match yesterday – I’d best talk about that.
City lined up as expected, Aguero back in the team, my only surprise (as usual) was the inclusion of Navas, but as I have said many a time in the past, he does defend too, so would protect the flank. Sagna stayed in the team, which was logical as he is more than capable of filling the role, whatever people may have said last season.
What I didn’t expect was the intensity of the home side from the off. City should have been ahead within 30 seconds, Aguero played through by an exquisite Silva pass, but the rusty Argentinean could only hit a tame shot that was saved by Begovic, who went on to dispel the notion that a Courtois suspension was good news for City.
What was clear from the start was that this City team are up for it this season, again alternating their season performances – good – bad – good – bad – good?.
Before City did score, they could already have had three goals, Aguero spurned further chances, or to be fair, Begovic was on top form, though Aguero’s prod wide should have been a goal, and later on in the half Mangala should probably have scored from a header. Never mind, it wasn’t a decisive factor in the end, as the goal did come as City probed for a while before exploding into life, Silva of course providing the final pass before Aguero wriggled free and prodded the ball into the goal off the post despite the desperate lunges of Matic and Terry.
That helped relieve some of the stress, and Silva continued to find space with Fabregas ineffectual alongside Matic and incapable of tracking runners. The main talking point for the remainder of the half though was Fernandinho’s yellow card when jumping for a high ball with Costa who had clattered him from behind just minutes before.
Opinion is clearly split on the incident, but without any blinkers on, I just don’t see a red card offence there. Fernandinho needs to spread his arms for leverage – he cannot jump like a penguin. He knew Costa was there of course, even if he was not looking at him, so you can argue he knew what would happen, but you can’t be sure of it. Anyway, you can all make your own minds up, and it was on Costa so I for one salute him (not really). Costa is quickly becoming more odious than his manager, if that is indeed possible, and perhaps we should also ask where the punishment was for him ramming into the back of the Brazilian before the City physios had to bandage his head.
So one up at half-time, and it was inevitable that Chelsea would have to show more intent in the 2nd half, and that is precisely what happened as Terry was surprisingly substituted so that Chelsea could play a higher line, and the visitors pressed, but City defended resolutely, and did not allow many chances for Chelsea. Ramires has only just finished his lap of honour for his goal, but he was rightly given offside, even if it was only by a few inches. Chelsea didn’t fashion a shot on target until the 70th minute, Hazard going close, denied by a sprawling Hart.
Then our captain lowered everyone’s blood pressure as City amazingly scored from a corner once more, Kompany out-muscling a declining Ivanovic to give City breathing space, seconds after Chelsea has brought Falcao on and City had introduced Demichelis to the fray. Multiple harrying by Silva across the pitch saw the ball land at Fernandinho’s feet and the game was over after a sumptuous drive into the far corner. Job done, and the scene set for a Mourinho masterclass in abject bitterness post-match. A fake result, as City could have won by more.
Man of the Match? So many choices, so I’m not going to single anyone out – though if I did, it would be Kolarov, who was at his imperious best, and linked up with a busy Sterling superbly, who along with Navas helped stretch the Chelsea defence constantly. Our captain is BACK and up for the fight, as is Fernandinho, Silva was of course Silva, and Aguero was both rusty and brilliant as ever. Mangala dispelled rumours that he is on his way out, helping City to another clean sheet, Hart did his job when called upon, Sagna was excellent, hell they all were!
What a great atmosphere, the best in a long time. It would be foolish to expect that to be sustained throughout the season, but when a team and fans are up for it, the difference is immense. Look too at how Fernandinho was protected by Mangala as he left the pitch at half-time. It spoke volumes.
Bravo the club DJ – TOP BANTER with the Dr Who & One Step Beyond pop picks…
It’s too early to be drawing conclusions for the season of course, but this is a promising start, and a tricky start to the season had me fearing that we would be playing catch up again for much of the season – thankfully we now have a small amount of breathing space, though a win at Goodison would be a real statement of intent.
God the ground looked good – rest in peace Gene Kelly stand….