That was an odd week for Manchester City. To strolls that made a couple of Premier League teams look like the play in the local Sunday pub league, sandwiched a display that many thought not possible from a Pep Guardiola team.
City 3-0 Fulham
The blues comprehensively beat Fulham 3-0 at The Etihad Stadium, and it was a combination of poor finishing and good goalkeeping that kept it at just 3-0. The blues could have absolutely demolished The Cottagers, but took their foot off the pedal at 3-0, possibly to save themselves for Wednesday’s opening Champions League match.
City scored within the first two minutes of each half, with Leroy Sane opening the scoring on his first start of the season, with David Silva making it 2-0 on 21 minutes as the blues threatened to eclipse the 6-1 battering they dished out to Huddersfield in their first home game of the season. Raheem Sterling tapped in a third goal, and the blues missed a host of chances to add to their tally. It didn’t matter as Fulham had decided to stay at home and the blues picked up an easy three points.
Some people will say ‘it was only Fulham,’ but to do that in the Premier League is massively disrespectful to the Londoners and is highly unfair to them. They are not in the Premier League by chance; they weren’t just gifted a place after being drawn from a hat. They earned their spot and they will go to other grounds and have easier matches. They just found the blues in excellent form and couldn’t live with it.
City 1-2 Lyon
When the draw was made for the group stages of the Champions League, blues fans would have been forgiven for thinking that City finally had a bit of an easier route to qualification, given that they had faced Napoli, Barcelona, Real Madrid in recent years, and faced Bayern Munich more times than they care to remember. But it was a combination of a poor City performance and an great show by the visitors that ended in the French team taking the points home.
After the match, the team came in for a huge amount of criticism for their performance. Yes, it wasn’t great and certainly wasn’t anywhere near the standard the team are capable of playing at or what the fans expected. But let’s be realists; sometimes, they will have off days. Last season the team found some opposition difficult. Burnley away is a good example, as was Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. City drew both of these matches while not playing particularly well. No disrespect to either of those two sides, but if the opposition had been better, City would have lost, and on Wednesday night, the opposition was better, which is why we came away empty handed.
We deserved to lose the match, but there are another five matches to go. We’ve lost at home in the Champions League before; CSKA Moscow and Basle, who were classed as supposedly inferior opposition, spring to mind. We will lose again at home in the competition and it’s just a matter of how the team cope with it in the next game against debutants Hoffenheim. I refuse to condemn the team for the defeat against Lyon. No supporter wants to lose, but hey, this is City remember? We always like to do things the hard way, it’s a reminder of where we came from.
Cardiff 0-5 City
When a team loses a match like they did against Lyon, it is easy to lose confidence and losing becomes a habit, so a match away to a physical side such as Cardiff may not have been what the doctor ordered so soon after the Lyon defeat. Questions had been asked for the previous couple of days, while articles like ‘A Barely Recognisable Rabble – how bad were Man City v Lyon?’ for example sprung up. Reading that, it’s easy to think that we might be on the ropes for a while against Cardiff, but maybe scrape a 1-0 win with the media claiming we were lucky to escape with that. But the boys turned in a superb performance, which was capped off with a fine individual display by one of our boys who has come in for some heavy criticism.
Ilkay Gundogan had been a figure of hate over the summer after he had met with the President of Turkey and referred to him as “My President.” The German fans booed him on the pitch at the World Cup and it’s safe to say he probably won’t be playing for a German club any time soon. The midfielder also took the brunt of the fans anger after the defeat to Lyon, with social media a toxic place for anyone who decided to try and defend him.
So it was somewhat satisfying when he scored one and created another in an outstanding performance at Cardiff that silenced his critics. I’ve seen plenty of players come and go at City over the years to know that you should never slate them; they will often come good and you end up eating your words. That’s exactly what has happened with Gundogan, and Pep heaped praise on the beleaguered start. “He was good in the Community Shield but today he was excellent,” he added. “Today the Gundo that we know came back,” said the boss after the match, which will give the German confidence going forward.
Tuesday sees the blues begin their defence of the League Cup with a trip to Oxford United, followed by a home match with Brighton, and of course, Bitter and Blue will be here with all the build up to both those matches and hopefully a live blog or two.
See you Tuesday.