My debut post will be to look back on yesterday's open, entertaining and at times, bad tempered affair at Villa Park that ultimately saw City secure the first piece of silverware on offer this season.
Aided by the deserved first half dismissal of Branislav Ivanovic, City kicked off the season by securing the Community Shield after a devastating 15 minute attacking spell following the interval. With Yaya Toure again to the fore, Nasri picking up where he left off last season and Carlos Tevez, who Mancini praised post game, looking sharp and settled (for now?), City moved the ball around smoothly and incisively to overwhelm Chelsea's stretched defence, particularly in the wide areas.Indeed, we may be seeing more of the 3-5-2 formation this season after the success of the system yesterday. Initially trialled in pre-season the formation provides the natural width which was occasionally lacking in City's play last season. The ‘wing back' role seems tailor-made for Kolarov in particular, giving him licence to push forward with less requirement to cover back so frequently, whilst on the right flank, the marginalised James Milner was particularly prominent up against Ashley Cole yesterday, performing as diligently as we saw with England in the summer.
The balanced midfield trio of de Jong, Yaya and Nasri, with Silva eased back into the fold, provides a good basis for the possession based game favoured by Mancini and the announcement of Jack Rodwell's signing from Everton prior to kick off will increase options in the centre of the park. This move will go some way towards appeasing a disgruntled Mancini, although the belief exists that another one or two more arrivals will be required for the Italian to be truly content. With speculation regarding Daniel Agger continuing, competition and cover for the established Kompany and Lescott partnership that was so successful last season is obviously of importance. The likelihood of van Persie arriving now appears slim but with Tevez back in the groove, Aguero as bright as ever (shocking late miss aside) and Balotelli boosted by an excellent Euros, City are well covered in this area. The future of Edin Dzeko, the curates egg of a footballer, is no further to being resolved, but if he remains then there are certainly worse options for fourth choice centre forward, irrespective of a sluggish four or five minutes yesterday.
Despite the grumblings at the lack of the comings and goings and Mancini's general dissatisfaction with Brian Marwood, the squad is patently strong enough and well set for another title push. One would expect
If City are to combine domestic and European assaults effectively this season, then the output of those players who slightly underperformed last season will be key. Whilst still playing an important role at times, it could be expected and given transfer fees involved, demanded, that the likes of Milner, Kolarov, Savic, and even Balotelli and Nasri, produce more on a consistent basis this year. And although there is always the temptation to read too much into the season's curtain raiser, one would be encouraged by the form shown by Nasri, Milner and Kolarov in particular having enjoyed a full pre-season and a year of further assimilation within the team. The same could be said to apply to (whisper it) Sergio Aguero, who despite being a sublimely talented footballer, still gives the impression that he has more to offer. It is an exciting prospect.
And so with confidence invigorated, attention turns to Sunday's opener against Southampton