It’s been a week of mixed fortunes for City’s men, women and international contingent, with the men falling to Norwich, the girls upholding the Manchester bragging rights and Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne lighting up the European Qualifiers. There’s so much to look at, it’s difficult to know where to start, so let’s begin at The Etihad Stadium.
City Women Ensure Manchester Remains Blue
The opening weekend of the WSL saw City’s women welcome their red counterparts in a match that was played at Etihad Stadium. A record crowd of more than 31,000 were present as the euphoria of the women’s world cup showed no signs of slowing down. And they witnessed the first derby between the two Manchester clubs following United’s promotion last season, and it was a game that didn’t disappoint.
Both teams had their chances, but it was the blues who came out on top, thanks to an absolutely stunning goal from Caroline Weir. The Scottish midfielder picked up a misplaced pass and struck the ball superbly from 25 yards to give the blues the lead and the win.
The win meant the blues started the season off with three points as they try to prove the critics wrong, who think they will struggle without the likes of Nikita Parris, who joined Lyon in the summer. It also meant that the club as a whole kept up their current superiority over United, and keeping the City blue.
Blues Stars Shine In Qualifiers
It’s been a crazy 12 months for Raheem Sterling. After the 2019 world cup, Sterling became the media’s scapegoat for England’s failure to claim a place in the World Cup Final. The winger was quickly hated by the rest of the country until he spoke out about the way the media fuels racism. Fast forward to September 2019 and the young City man is a key player for the national side, scoring one and assisting one against Bulgaria last Saturday.
The three lions recorded a 4-0 win over the visitors at Wembley, with Harry Kane scoring the opener after good work by Sterling. And the combination was reversed when Kane set up Sterling to score number three ten minutes into the second half.
While it could be argued that it’s ‘only Bulgaria,’ the two are beginning to form a formidable partnership for the national side that, if they sort the defence, could be a force at the next European Championships.
The two combined again against Kosovo, however it was Sterling again that caught the eye, scoring the equaliser after Kosovo had taken the lead in the first moment of the game. Sterling then set up Kane and Jadon Sancho to make it 5-1 at half time.
Sterling was in magnificent form, as any remaining critics were silenced completely and the media left eating humble pie.
Elsewhere, Bernardo Silva was on the scoresheet as Portugal beat Serbia 4-2, with the City man scoring the final goal of the game. Kevin de Bruyne had a quiet game against San Marino, but was in scintillating form in Scotland a few days later as Belgium made it two 4-0 wins in a row north of the border.
The City assist king set up all three of Belgium’s goals, scored after 11, 24 and 32 minutes, while bagging the fourth himself with right minutes remaining. Meanwhile in Lithuania, Bernardo Silva provided two assists for Ronaldo as Portugal recorded a 5-1 win.
Women Show The Way In Champions League
City’s women look almost certain to qualify for the last 32 of the Champions League as they thrashed Lugano women 7-1 in Switzerland.
Georgia Stanway gave the bleus the lead after 25 minutes, but the hosts levelled just before the break. Any fears of a City defeat were quickly squashed seconds into the second half Aofie’s Mannion’s penalty put City back in front, while two goals apiece form Caroline Weir and Pauline Bremer put City well in control, before Janine Beckie scored City’s seventh.
Worryingly for City, Stanway went off injured after scoring the opening goal, and it forced her to miss Saturday’s game at Reading.
City Girls Make It Two Wins From Two At Reading
The blues travelled to Berkshire for a difficult game against Reading Women. The home side have been hotly tipped to be there or thereabouts at the end of the season and coach Kelly Chambers has assembled a decent side that is capable of mounting a serious challenge for the WSL title.
But despite the absence of Georgia Stanway, two goals, one in each half from German striker Pauline Bremer, who could have had a hat-trick but for the post, secured the points for the girls in blue and sent them second in the league behind Everton.
Next up for the blues is a return clash with Lugano on 25th September, before a top of the table clash at Everton on 29th September.
Pep’s Men Undone By Canaries
Football is a funny old game.
Those words uttered by the legend that is Jimmy Greaves have never been truer after Saturday’s match at Norwich.
The blues were expected to win comfortably in East Anglia, but two goals by the home side put the cat firmly amongst the pigeons, and despite a Sergio Aguero goal, a defensive mistake of the highest order by Nicolas Otamendi gifted Norwich their third.
It was calamitous defending, the sort you’d expect to see a ten year old commit on a Saturday morning, dreaming of playing on his Xbox rather than being on the football field. What Otamendi was thinking is anyone’s guess, but in fairness, City didn’t really offer anything against Norwich’s well-disciplined defence.
City were never going to go all season unbeaten, and are clearly not invincible, nor has anyone ever claimed they are. But it was the manner of the defeat, the lacklustre performance and general lack of interest that has infuriated the supporters. But take nothing away from Norwich - they were brilliant and fully deserved the three points.
It’s early days, but talk of giving the title to Liverpool should be put on hold for a few month. The Merseysiders will drop points at some point and five games in is not exactly the time to hit the panic button.
Next up for the blues is another trip to Ukraine to face Shahktar again in the Champions League, where the men will be hoping to follow the example set by the women, before facing Watford on Saturday in Manchester.
Hopefully, the next time I write a week in review, we’ll have two more wins under our belts.
Until next week, keep the faith.