City won fairly well away at the Sports Direct Arena, though Newcastle looked rather good and should do well this season. It is difficult to draw any solid conclusions from a game on the opening day but here goes nothing…
A Certain Rustiness…
It was to be expected, but City were rusty, especially in defence. Kompany and Demichelis had good games on the whole but there were a few moments where the Newcastle forwards, Remy Cabella in particular, were unfortunate not to receive greater rewards for their endeavour.
There were misplaced passes, a lack of urgency in pressing at times, and the level of invention we got used to last season was often missing, but following a shortened pre-season for many of the players this is acceptable. City still left Newcastle with three points – a stark contrast to last season when it took what felt like forever before a good performance was put in away from home.
Worries about City also ignore the fact that Newcastle were impressive for large parts of the game. On a different day the home team would have scored at least one and pushed City right to the wire. Alan Pardew is obviously a detestable man but he has put together a good side which should be comfortably top half and a good bet to finish 8th.
But Enough With the Doom & Gloom
There were many bright points to City which offer encouragement!
Fernando was excellent on his proper debut (pre-season games don’t count – anyone who tells you different is a liar). His reputation as “The Octopus” came before him and he more than lived up to it – strong in the tackle, cleaning up seemingly everywhere, allowing the forward to do their thing in an unfussy manner. Comparisons to Nigel de Jong are widespread and will continue, but are flawed. De Jong is a much more limited player than many City fans like to remember. Fernando looks to have so much more in his locker. They are both hard as nails though to be fair.
Dzeko had a similarly fantastic game, almost opening the scoring within minutes following a smart run behind the Newcastle defence. However the crowning moment of his game was the superb back heeled assist for David Silva’s opener. I have never seen Dzeko do anything that skilful before. It was lovely to watch him link up with the Spaniard so effectively, not to mention his understanding with the impressive Stevan Jovetic. The indications are that his stunning form from the latter part of last season is set to continue which is a relief with a long new contract set to be announced any day now.
Kolarov was determined in defence and adventurous in attack as we’ve come to expect. He benefitted from Newcastle’s right flank giving him the freedom of the wing but that is worthless unless you make the most of it. Time and again he steamed into the penalty area and terrifying the Newcastle defence in the process. With Clichy playing as a makeshift right back (goodbye, Micah Richards…), the left back slot looks like Kolarov’s to lose at this point.
David Silva was David Silva. Yet another magnificent performance from our best player, augmented with a crucial goal to break the host’s resistance. Long live David Silva.
It wasn’t the best. It wasn’t the worst. It was the opening day and the team arrived back home with three points in the bag. That counts as a good day’s work.
If the team turn up a bit off the pace against Liverpool next week then we have a problem, but they should be absolutely fine.
Written by Alex Timperley who is on Twitter