ASTON VILLA 0 MAN CITY 1 – The Unlikely Lads

A contented Carlos Tevez and a commanding Kolo Toure were the ‘unlikely’ heroes of a hard fought, but ultimately well deserved Manchester City win over struggling Aston Villa.

I say ‘unlikely’ based on a backdrop of not-too-distant history when Tevez was a social pariah and Kolo the butt of many a joke, serving a drugs ban for taking his wife’s slimming tablets.

It just goes to show rehabilitation is a wonderful thing and the Argentine forward is now fully integrated back into life at the Etihad, and indeed the wider city of  Manchester, a place which he once famously derided as having ‘…only two restaurants.’

As for Kolo, the big brother of Yaya, who had obvious concerns about not getting any bigger, (does my bum look big in these shorts?) he has excelled in recent games, as cover for the injured Vincent Kompany.

Toure the elder, deservedly took the Man-of-the-Match plaudits in City’s    1-0 win at Villa Park, but it was Tevez who stole the limelight at each end of the field, scoring the 45th minute winner and clearing a certain Christian Benteke goal off the City goal line.

With Roberto Mancini’s men once again trailing Stretford Rangers by 15 points, it was an absolute imperative that they came away from a cold Birmingham night with all the spoils.

The odds were stacked massively in favour of the reigning champions with Villa languishing in the Premier League drop zone, having won just one in their last 10 league games.

It was a night for statistical ‘anoraks’ as City maintained their quirky record of never losing this season when they score first. It’s now 14 wins and two draws when the Sky Blues initiate goal scoring proceedings.

In stark contrast, Villa have yet to win a PL game when they’ve gone behind – two draws and 12 defeats – a bitter testimony to the inability of Paul Lambert’s side to reverse adversity.

Lambert’s young braves didn’t lack for effort – the slender score line reflects their spirited resistance – but Benteke’s powering header, apart, they had nothing to trouble Joe Hart or City’s PL leading defence.

It could have been different had referee Mike Dean awarded the home side a penalty when Matija Nastasic appeared to bring the big Belgian crashing down in the closing stages.

On the topic of  ‘ifs, buts and maybes’ City could justifiably point to the woodwork as being all that stood between them and far more handsome reward for their night’s endeavours.

Villa’s brilliant keeper Brad Guzan tipped a first half Pablo Zabalta piledriver onto his post, whereas in the second half, he was beaten all ends up by a well crafted low drive from Yaya Toure, which bounced back off the post.

Predator Dzeko gobbled up the rebound, smashing it into the net, but alas…from an offside position.

No, the real goal action was delivered on the stroke of half time, when  City’s Bosnian top scorer dispossessed a floundering Ciaran Clark before squaring an inch perfect pass to Tevez.

The now happily settled Carlito took one touch, dummied the sprawling Guzan, before rounding him and dispatching the ball into the bottom left of the gaping Villa net.

He’d earlier drawn a stunning save from the USA keeper after cutting across the Villa 18 yard box and curling a beautiful shot goal bound. Guzan had thwarted a superb Jack Rodwell shot and saved from Dzeko as City piled on the pressure in the first 45 minutes.

Sadly Rodwell was lost to that infernal bloody hamstring which continues to dog his season. The young England star is showing clear signs that he is the ‘real deal’ but the fragility of his body could yet crush a career positively oozing with promise.

Tevez was denied a second goal when his shot, having beaten Guzan, was cleared by Matt Lowton off the line.

With so much at stake for both sides it was an intense affair but that’s not to say without magnanimity, humour and good grace.

The admirable 3,000 travelling support stood with the Villa fans and honoured 60 seconds applause in the 19th minute for Villa’s number 19 Stilian Petrov, stricken with cancer and absent from the game.

Along with the barbs concerning Villa’s possible relegation came the gem of the evening from the City Jukebox: “Gareth Barry thinks you’re sh*t, thinks you’re sh*t, thinks you’re sh*t, Gareth Barry thinks you’re sh*t, so does Milner (repeat to fade).

A genuinely funny moment.

Barry was duly unceremoniously booed when he came on as a late late substitute for David Silva, whereas Milner was accorded respect by the home supporters.

And on a night when Villa’s trio of ex-MCFC personnel, Shay Given, Stephen Ireland and Richard Dunne, were all conspicuous by their absence, worrying news emerged about former City favourite Dunninho.

It appears the ‘Dunney Monster’s’ career is all but over due to injury and the unofficial word is that he will retire at season’s end. If that is so he will always be remembered with warmth and affection by City fans.

Those affection levels are in bountiful supply for one Roberto Mancini who, in his 125th PL game took his win rate to 62% with victory number 77, along with 26 draws and 22 reversals.

The passionate and defiant Italian is in no mood to concede City’s title and even less so to relinquish ambitions of a second FA Cup success in three seasons.

It’s ForzaMancini and get the silver polishing cloth prepared!


  1. March 5, 2013  4:19 pm by Chris Williams Reply

    Three excellent points earned with extreme difficulty from a battling Villa side that at times belied their position as relegation fodder. Yet another clean sheet on his way to a third consecutive Golden Glove for Joe Hart, who apparently to some is having a dreadful season !!

    • March 5, 2013  7:25 pm by David Walker Reply

      Like the irony & appreciate you taking time to comment - thanks #together

  2. March 5, 2013  4:30 pm by Graham Ward Reply

    A scrappy win, David, but one I think we deserved. A very cool finish by Tevez, but there were times last night that he looked to himself to finish the game off, rather than better placed team mates.
    I thought Nasty was immense, and just shaded Kolo, personally....although it was a dodgy moment in the tangle with Benteke, who tried to physically overpower our duo, but got no real change from them, witness his eventual yellow card.
    Sad news about Richard Dunne, he'll always get a welcome at City.

    • March 5, 2013  7:44 pm by David Walker Reply

      City has a history of great Centre Backs who gave their all ; Heslop Doyle Watson Oakes Kompany &. Nastasic will join them.

  3. March 5, 2013  4:38 pm by Lisa Royle Reply

    Brilliant read David....really look forward to RBNR pre/post match reports. Spot on with comments.
    Gutted for Rodders and the Dunny Monster.
    3points are 3points. CTWD

    • March 5, 2013  7:46 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks for feedback - much appreciated.

  4. March 5, 2013  5:10 pm by Dave Bones Reply

    Basically city looked like they were playing in 2nd gear,especially after they scored,this is a habit Bobby's gotta remove from the players/teams DNA,it's a dangerous game to think you can just turn up,take the lead and then coast.
    Still we won so onwards and upwards hey David.

  5. March 5, 2013  5:10 pm by Andy Devereux Reply

    Another good read David cheers for that. Shame about Dunne always a fave of mine in the Blue of City.Talking of injuries hope Rodwell can this problem sorted it would be a shame if he never got chance to fulfill his obvious potential. CTWD.

    • March 5, 2013  7:52 pm by David Walker Reply

      Rodwell could be immense if they can get this hamstring problem sorted.

  6. March 5, 2013  6:46 pm by Kev Russell Reply

    Another spot on report David & I feel satisfied that we've got that "bite" back. This summer we WILL add to our strike force just as they did across the street last close season. Thats been the difference. Our defence is strong & mostly ultra reliable so look out all teams next season. Sad that "the tank" could have to retire. Look forward to your transfer speculation report. #WhoseNext? #TopScriber

    • March 5, 2013  7:58 pm by David Walker Reply

      You're right Kev we're not quite there this season but we can dominate again with the right acquisitions this summer.

  7. March 5, 2013  7:27 pm by Alan Baxter Reply

    Although unfortunate, I thought the enforced Rodwell substitution changed the game. We played higher up the pitch and from that point began to cause them problems. Although this could be my bias to a forward front two starting showing. Another good win and forza Mancini

    • March 5, 2013  8:01 pm by David Walker Reply

      Love Mancini but thought our initial set up was too deep & too defensive. Losing Aguero before match sure as hell didn't help!

  8. March 5, 2013  8:12 pm by Evelyn Spence Reply

    Excellent read Dave, thank you.

    So pleased to see the game turn around for us, was worried there for a bit. Was sad to see Rodwell injured after reading how many things he had changed in order to get match fit. Fingers crossed for him.

    PS: Wasn't Carlos amazing?

    • March 5, 2013  8:32 pm by David Walker Reply

      Mr Tevez did us proud - he so wants to be 'the man' again at City. Away support displayed genuine warmth towards him - vast majority forgotten Munich misunderstanding. Thanks for generous feedback.

  9. March 5, 2013  9:16 pm by Susan Richardson Reply

    Insightful as usual; not a fan of 0-1 matches though too risky and not good for our sanity!!! But Forza Mancini think he has handled himself really well especially last couple of weeks; Put the rag loving Mancini out hacks in their place.
    Really feel for Rodwell hope the medics can sort it for him. Sad news about Richard Dunne.

    • March 5, 2013  11:07 pm by David Walker Reply

      Agree on all four points!

      Glad we came away last night with all three points.


  10. March 5, 2013  10:37 pm by Rob Leek Reply

    Now then...the facts from the claret and blue side of e fence...
    Arrived at VP hoping to keep it to less than 8, left disappointed not to get a point.
    City looked disinterested (bar 2 ten minute spells either side of half time) rather than in 2nd gear as per earlier comment. Shame to see as 3k travelling supporters (mainly from Manchester) deserve more. No doubting the effort from the Villa, but much as it pains me to say it, City should be dispatching teams like Villa and Soton with ease. Some way off the Cockney half of Manchester me thinks. Thanks for the 19th minute. Hopefully see you next season. VTID!

  11. March 6, 2013  12:10 am by David Walker Reply

    Admirable comments indeed Mr Leek - we of the Sky Blue persuasion concur and would love to see the Claret & Blue of BURMINGGUM - sorry slight typo there - Birmingham, next season home & away in the Premier League. If you can see off Reading and Twitcher Redknapp you'll be well set. Play like you did against City and you should harvest at least four points.

    Best of luck fella.

  12. March 7, 2013  8:42 pm by Mark Turner Reply

    Great read as always David and apologies for my delay in adding comments - i feel like I'm late handing in my homework!
    As always, I agree with all of your incisive comments and always read with a smile at your consistently high standard of wit. I just wish Carlos had slid the ball to Merlin in the second half when he was free in the box rather than going for glory...could have been 2?

    Best Wishes

  13. March 7, 2013  10:35 pm by David Walker Reply

    No worries fella - you can still be milk monitor! #Together Thanks Mark.

  14. March 9, 2013  11:55 am by Peter Cookson Reply

    Great read David,enjoyed the alliteration pertaining to our media friends, although i think you could have slipped "mongs" in somewhere.
    Hearty full English consumed,will soon be on the way downtown for scoops with City mates and then, Up for t'cup.

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