Part the First: That's Super Sonic Sub to you, mister! Remember when I wrote that if Dzeko kept up the late-game heroics, Mancini would see him as more valuable coming off the bench? Too late, Edin. You've got the job.
Part the Second: Ugly? More like Fugly I’ve seen some weird things over the years on stage, television and screen but that first half ranks right up there with the masters of the bizarre. Hitchcock would have smiled, David Lynch would have been inspired, and if he was watching, Tim Burton probably called Johnny Depp and said, “The missus and I have some ideas.” The happiest man on the pitch was going to be Mark Clattenburg after he gratefully blew the whistle ending the tragicomedy that was the first 45. That was before Balotelli had a few words with him, Micah had a few more and really, who could have blamed the man for taking a few quick sips of any libation in the locker room? Rubbing alcohol would have sufficed. In no particular order, we saw: Vincent Kompany, captain and POY candidate last season, making the kind of play that got Jack Rodwell in hot water against Borussia Dortmund. That gaffe led to James Milner getting the red (more on that in a moment), enough yellow card to drain a Staples and—incredibly—the sight of Balotelli tracking back (shut up, it happened, I know what I saw).
Part the Third: A Group Discussion Did James Milner make the right play? If it's late in the game, this isn't a question but Milner 'took one for the team with Joe Hart still to beat and 77+ minutes left to play. Wouldn't it be better to keep the team at eleven men and take your chances with being at worst a goal down? Then again, that one goal not being scored looks pretty big right now, no? At the time, I thought Milner made a huge mistake. Now, I'm less than sure. Thoughts?
Part the Fourth: Dennis Mario Rodman Balotelli How awesome would it be if that was his real name? Given world enough and time, I'd type a few thousand words comparing the to most polarizing and unpredictable athletes of my lifetime. In some ways, Mario commands even more attention--when he's on the pitch, all eyes seem to be on him, intensely aware that any moment we could see brilliant or bizarre. He really is our Rodman--both were terrific athletes, remarkably strong and known for being dirty players. Rodman flopped; Balotelli dives. Both drove two terrific coaches to distraction (Rodman with Gregg Popovich and Balotelli with Jose Mourinho) and both found coaches that got the best out of them (Rodman with Phil Jackson and Balotelli with Mancini). Of course, the Balotelli/Mancini chapter is still being written but I know their relationship is much more complex and constructive than what most of their critics give them credit for (including me; I'd like to revise what I wrote a couple of weeks back after the Sunderland game but it's forever in cyberspace now).
Addendum: Turns out Rodman never played for Popovich. I could have swore that he did but they just missed each other. In San Antonio, Rodman played for Bob Hill before wearing out his welcome and getting traded to Chicago... where Rodman helped the Bulls to three NBA Championships.
Part the Fifth: Silent Samir: At what point should I start to question the value of Samir Nasri? Not much doubt he was one of the better players for Man City in the first few fixtures but the disappearing act is getting annoying. Friends of mine who were Arsenal fans were deeply split on who was better—Cesc or Nasri. You bring up that topic now in a pub and someone is going to take your car keys. Am I wrong to suggest that perhaps it's time we demand more production from uber-signee Samir Nasri?