City set for splashdown! MAN CITY 4 ASTON VILLA 0

Singing and dancing in the rain, the Manchester City faithful soaked up the unbridled joy of an Etihad Stadium awash with goals, as Liverpool’s title bid all but went down the plughole.

Whereas the puddled Scousers had been prematurely celebrating amid the April showers, it’s the City fans feeling rosy as May flowers with sky blue blooms and the sweet scent of Premier League success.

Rain Man - Pellegrini has it figured. City can be champions on Sunday. Courtesy @MCFC

Rain Man – Pellegrini has it figured. City can be champions on Sunday. Courtesy @MCFC

Manuel Pellegrini’s crop are proving to be hardy perennials, poised to harvest the three points that would see them proclaimed as outright champions come late Sunday afternoon.

City’s familiar war cry of ‘We’ll Fight ‘Till the End’ seems finally to have replaced the age old, self deprecating mantra of ‘Typical City’.

Nonetheless, City fans of numerous generations know better than to get beyond themselves.

Captain Kompany - prepares for the Monsoon in Manchester clash. Courtesy @MCFC

Captain Kompany – prepares for the Monsoon in Manchester clash. Courtesy @MCFC

This would explain the complete lack of any Mancunian chants of ‘We’re gonna win the League’, whereas Liverpool, steeped in history and fuelled by the emotions of Hillsborough, are already rueing their own over-optimism and smug, self-satisfaction.

Of course that could yet change if City falter against West Ham and the Reds beat Newcastle. Such a doomsday scenario would render City’s two point and +13 goal advantage redundant…but that isn’t happening anytime soon on the evidence of this four goal demolition of Villa’s Lambert Lambs.

Yaya Toure proved once again that he would be in any World XI and Edin Dzeko showed that for all his perceived shortcomings, he is an invaluable part of City’s squad.

Edin to the top - Dzeko was the two goal hero again for City. Courtesy @MCFC

Edin to the top – Dzeko was the two goal hero again for City. Courtesy @MCFC

For over an hour the apprehension levels continued to rise as City battered a resilient Villa defence, but to no effect.

Pellegrini has often been accused of not having the proverbial Plan B, which on the evidence of some very astute substitutions over the season is a load of Plan B (OLLOCKS)!

Once again, Pellegrini had the insight to make the requisite changes. James Milner had laboured in the rain but was largely ineffectual, cluttering up the right flank, denying the overlapping Pablo Zabaleta the space he thrives.

Indefatigable - Zaba is a truly iconic City hero. Courtesy @MCFC

Indefatigable – Zaba is a truly iconic City hero. Courtesy @MCFC

When the England utility man gave way for the ever lively Stevan Jovetic, Pellegrini changed the dynamics of his attack, setting up a 1-2-3 Balkan barrage that would sink Villa and Liverpool in unison.

Within four minutes of the substitution, Edin Dzeko flushed away any anxieties with his 25th goal of the season. The Etihad erupted.

Pellegrini deployed Jovetic in the centre of attack causing Villa to defend in a more compact fashion, immediately creating areas for Zabaleta to exploit on his forays down the wing.

David Silva pushed the ball wide, Zaba fed the ball in hard and low, Dzeko stole in in front of his marker and swept the ball past Guzan from close range.

So near and yet so far - Nasri misses from close range in the first half. Courtesy @MCFC

So near and yet so far – Nasri misses from close range in the first half. Courtesy @MCFC

The relief was palpable – apart from 1,000 strong Villa contingent – who probably wondered what the hell they were doing spending time and money to witness Lambert’s idea of adventurous play – it’s rumoured he had an After Eight Mint at 7.55pm.

Within minutes an almost identical link-up between Merlin and Zaba produced the same return. Nasri’s shot squirmed away from Villa’s US keeper, allowing Dzeko to side-foot home from a yard out.

Dzeko Double - Edin is on a hot-streak. Courtesy @MCFC

Dzeko Double – Edin is on a hot-streak. Courtesy @MCFC

The big Bosnian has had his fair – sometimes, unfair – share of criticism during his 3½ years at City, but surely it’s time to stop. Yes, he misses chances that Aguero would undoubtedly bury, but he never shirks an opportunity – he’ll try, try and try again and City fans always love a trier.

Averaging more than a goal every two PL games, any other PL team would accommodate him in their squads, not forgetting the likes of Borussia Dortmund or Inter Milan.

His joy of scoring is self evident, as is his response to his new manager’s style of man management.

Up until recently Dzeko could have departed City with everybody’s gratitude. Were it not for him the ‘Agueerrrrro’ moment would never have been – but a £15m-£18m selling fee would have made sense.

Belgian bike - Kompany's overhead 'cycle' kick didn't bother Guzan unduly. Courtesy @MCFC

Belgian bike – Kompany’s overhead ‘cycle’ kick didn’t bother Guzan unduly. Courtesy @MCFC

Edin is too profligate in terms of chances to goals ratios, sometimes displays the deftness of an anvil and his demeanour and body language can often leave a lot to be desired…but he has habitually scored vital goals.

He should stay at City, along with his Balkan compatriot Jovetic, a player so far restricted to just two PL starts and 11 appearances as sub.

Getting it off his chest - Jovetic celebrates his3rd goal in 13 PL showings. Courtesy @MCFC

Getting it off his chest – Jovetic celebrates his3rd goal in 13 PL showings. Courtesy @MCFC

Jovetic’s sixth goal of a season blighted by injury, served to show what a great asset he can be next season. His low curling drive nudged City to the brink of their ‘ton of fun’ with the team’s 99th PL goal – puitting them level with the much lauded Liverpool attack.

It was an ‘ice cream’ moment – 99 goals, plenty of flakes and no red balloons. But the best was yet to come in the 94th minute.

With literally the last touch of the match, the juiced up juggernaut that is Yaya Toure, morphed into ‘Roy of the Rovers’ with a sublime 70 yard upfield drive, leaving half-a-dozen Villa defenders trailing in his wake.

100 NOT OUT - Yaya hit his 20th and City's 100th PL goal of the season. Courtsey @MCFC

100 NOT OUT – Yaya hit his 20th and City’s 100th PL goal of the season. Courtsey @MCFC

Powering away like a Pickfords pantechnicon, the Ivorian colossus removed 99% of any doubts that City will be crowned champions on Sunday, smashing home the 100th league.

It was time to add jelly to the ice cream!

The goal befitted both the landmark achievement and the player himself. Yaya became only the second midfield player (along with Chelsea’s Frank Lampard) to ever hit 20 PL goals in one season.

For decades I have resolutely maintained that Colin Bell is the finest City player I have ever seen. By his actions and contributions, his goals and his influence, I am of the opinion that the imperious Yaya has now eclipsed Colin The King…he’s that good.

Top Gun - Yaya leads the charge for the title. Courtesy @MCFC

Top Gun – Yaya leads the charge for the title. Courtesy @MCFC

City have now won 11 times from Villa’s last 12 PL visits to the Etihad, so it wasn’t really a surprise. Nonetheless, Pellegrini will be happy with the patience and composure displayed when Villa’s resolute resistance had threatened yet another twist in the title saga.

Next up on Sunday is the ‘Darn Sarf  School of  Charabanc Shifting’ and its patron ‘Big Fat Sam the Bus Driver Man’.

Supply line - The Serbian sniper fired plenty of live ammo to City's forwards. Courtesy@MCFC

Supply line – The Serbian sniper fired plenty of live ammo to City’s forwards. Courtesy@MCFC

The Hammers will have two items on their agenda, namely trying to preserve the £10.8m PL prize money by holding onto 12th place and, secondly, trying to gain a modicum of revenge after a combined 12-1 thrashing in the three games contested with City this season.

A 0-0 draw would get City over the line but it’s not Pellegrini’s way. There’s no need to be gung ho, there’s a title to be won, but City will be best served by going with instinct and putting Chelsea’s PL goals record of 103 under threat.

A win gives City the title on points, not goal difference…not that were being pernickety. If they get the job done they’ll have sat on top of the PL for a total of just 15 of the 268 days of the 2013/14 season, with five of those being the final, and all-important ones up to May 11th.

Says it all - Pellegrini is calm and assured and appreciated by the Etihad crowd. Courtesy @MCFC

Says it all – Pellegrini is calm and assured and appreciated by the Etihad crowd. Courtesy @MCFC

Not quite a case of he who laughs last clearly didn’t get the joke, more one of he who laughs last laughs loudest.

Even the serious thinking man from Santiago would be able to afford himself and the fans a beaming smile if it all goes to plan…



By David Walker







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Welcome partner - CampoRetro are teaming up with Read But Never Red.
Welcome partner – CampoRetro are teaming up with Read But Never Red.

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Champions 1968 - one of the City shirts up for grabs in our CampoRetro competition
Champions 1968 – one of the City shirts up for grabs in our CampoRetro competition

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Sweet memories - SuperKev and Tricky Dicky from 1999. You could win this beauty with CampoRetro and Read But Never Red.
Sweet memories – SuperKev and Tricky Dicky from 1999. You could win this beauty with CampoRetro and Read But Never Red.

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Blast from the past – City’s Swedish beauty.

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Frontrunner – Colin Bell inspired t-shirt from @camporetro available with 20% RBNR discount






  1. May 9, 2014  2:18 am by Fifthcolumnblue Reply

    Some cretin sitting in front of me was STILL having a go at Dzeko after his second goal went in!

    Unbelievable Jeff, and I know he may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I always go by the mantra "Never boo the man in Blue", especially when the title is at stake.

    Here's to getting the job done with a minimum of fuss on Sunday. I'm sure the TV cameras would love another AGUEROOOOOOOO moment, but I'm not sure there are enough defibrillators in Manchester to cope with that scenario!

    • May 9, 2014  8:00 am by David Walker Reply

      Nice comments No 5 - let's be having a smiley Sunday :-)

  2. May 9, 2014  2:58 am by John Evans TT Reply

    An insomniac says "Thanks David for staying up so late to post this seasons last preview".

    'For decades I have resolutely maintained that Colin Bell is the finest City player I have ever seen. By his actions and contributions, his goals and his influence, I am of the opinion that the imperious Yaya has now eclipsed Colin The King…he’s that good'.

    Could be.... However two footballing moments I wont forget.

    Boxing day 1977. 31 year old Colin Bell comes on at Half time after 2 year absence. Wonderful moment, wonderful ovation, but I cried when I saw how bad his limp was.

    7th May 2014, 92nd minute (when most players thoughts would about jumping into the bath) 30 year old Yaya Toure collects ball in own half and runs 60 metres like a bull elephant, brushing off Villa defenders like gnats, to rifle in City's Centenary goal. What will power! Goal of the season from the player of the season.

    If we were rags we'd already have commissioned a Statue. Certainly we should rename the East Stand the 'Yaya Toure Stand'. Now that really would be one in the eye for the 'pundits'.

    Continuing the statues theme and on a lighter note Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton has declared that the club will finish above Manchester City in the Premier League next season.

    "This year has been an tremendously interesting year," 96 year old Charlton, who is now director of football at Old Trafford, is quoted as saying by BT Sport. "We have done our best, we have changed manager, and it has not worked. But next year I guarantee that we will be number one in Manchester.

    "We will have to buy a couple of players, which will happen. I am looking forward a lot to next year because Manchester United is not renowned for being second. "We like to be first and we will be first. We have the most fantastic organisation and that organisation when it works is unstoppable."

    You couldn't make it up.

    • May 9, 2014  8:48 am by David Walker Reply

      Care in the Community clearly not working for Sir Bobby - not in our lifetime anyway. Yes, I too recall Colin coming back against Newcastle - a hugely emotional event tinged with more than a hint of sadness. Both he and City would have won major trophies during the late 70s had it not been for that bloody injury and the mishandling of his diagnosis and rehabilitation.

    • May 9, 2014  8:52 am by David Walker Reply

      PS Does this mean you don't wish me to write a preview for West Ham? ;-)

      • May 9, 2014  10:43 am by John Evans TT Reply

        Apologies, it was a Bobby Charlton moment!

          • May 9, 2014  2:01 pm by John Evans TT

            Fortunately I got it wrong and this wont be the last post. So with Sunday in mind I thought Lee Hurley (a gooner) piece in the Metro Thursday 8 May was worth cribbing.

            'Manchester City are the neutrals’ favourite for the Premier League title not Liverpool

            'Manchester City are the neutrals' favourites, not Liverpool'.

            Manchester City are on the brink of winning the Premier League title . Earlier in the season, I made a mistake. I laughed at those who were saying Liverpool were title challengers. I forgot to factor in the impact not playing in Europe would have and, as a result, their surge to the top wasn’t all that unpredictable.

            But, more than that; I didn’t want to face what it might mean should they end their 24-year wait for a title - the unbearable smugness of their fans and the delight of a media so desperate to laud them more than they tended to do already.

            No one who supports another team wants to have to pick between Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City when it comes to who they want to win the league. Liverpool, we were told repeatedly, were the neutrals’ favourites, the team who ‘deserved’ to win in a sport which owes nothing to anyone.

            The events of this week have shown what utter rubbish that assertion was. Celebrating as if they’d won the league already, their fans had moved past beyond merely wanting to dream and in to the realms of fantasy.

            If there was any doubt that the neutrals would prefer City to win, then those doubts were shattered on Monday night as the entire Internet laughed hysterically when Liverpool choked at Crystal Palace. On Wednesday night it wasn’t just the City fans who felt the relief which accompanied Edin Dzeko’s opener.

            If you strip away City’s money, there isn’t really much to dislike about them. Their fans can almost seem apologetic at times regarding the massive luck which has befallen their club. They are the complete opposite of Chelsea fans who consistently demonstrate how not to behave when you’ve been presented with a not-so-little gilded gift horse.

            The media also don’t seem to have much affection for them, not in the same way they do United, Liverpool and Jose Mourinho, if not Chelsea themselves. When it comes to evils, City, even for all their ridiculous spending and disregard for FFP, are by far the lesser of the lot.

            City now just need one point to spare us all the nightmare of a Liverpool title win. Even Manchester United fans want them to get it. Should they fail, they will have let down all of us who have urged them on despite how wrong it feels. Many in the media desperately wanted us to believe that a Liverpool win would be something for us all to celebrate. When Stevie G fell over, a nation spoke.

            Liverpool were never the neutrals’ favourites and for as long as their fans and the media keep telling us how they ‘deserve’ a title more than anyone else, they never will be'.

  3. May 9, 2014  4:06 am by GeorgeInIsrael Reply

    15 days is a lot to be on top of the League. In the 2009-10 season in Israel, Maccabi Haifa led the league the entire season, but faltered in the run in, including a loss to second-placed Hapoel Tel Aviv. On the last day of the season, Hapoel Tel Aviv won their game with a goal in the second minute of stoppage time, to go top on goal difference. They were top of the league only for the last 90 seconds of the season, but that was when it mattered!
    I don't think that anything like that is going to happen on Sunday - City won't lose and Liverpool won't win by a 14 goal margin. However, it's worth pointing out to everybody that indeed the only time you need to be on top of the League is at the end of ALL the games on the last day of the season.
    As regards Colin Bell, I too am beginning to change my mind. I was there when he was injured (in a fair tackle by Martin Buchan) and I was also there when he made his comeback attempt. He was my childhood hero, so much so that my kids bought me a 1970 retro shirt with an 8 on the back for my birthday this year ( MAybe next year they should get me a 2013/4 shirt with 42 on the back.
    I don't know if it was in that same game, but I have a memory of Buchan backing off Mike Summerbee with his arms in front of him to steady himself. As soon as Buchan was in the penalty area, Mike flicked the ball up to his hands and Buchan instintively pushed it away - penalty to City and laughs all round the ground. I think even Buchan had a wry smile. Does anybody else remember this?

    • May 9, 2014  9:05 am by David Walker Reply

      I must confess I don't remember the incident. Without being the Grim Reaper Liverpool only have to win if, God forbid, we lose. We are only two points ahead of course and the goal difference only comes into play if we draw and Liverpool win. Like you, I think we'll be top of the pile come Sunday evening. I don't want to be writing about City being top for only 14 days this season!

  4. May 9, 2014  7:08 am by Eileen Fullen Reply

    A joy to read informative and funny too -so looking forward to Sunday - sure the Blue faithful will be loud and proud at the moment the team are firing on all cylinders. So here's hoping for a May cracker.

    • May 9, 2014  8:51 am by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Eileen, I must confess I was zombie like at 2am when writing it and have made a couple of upgrades since snatching a few hours sleep. Sometimes fatigue creeps in and standards might begin to dip and that's not good. As for our boys in blue - no drop in standards allowed on Sunday!

  5. May 9, 2014  10:04 am by Simon Dear Reply

    Agree with everything David , unsung heroes recently .. Garcia , De mechelis , Kolarov .and off course the enigma which is Dzeko , I would keep them all now .. All have shown their value recently , so long as we play for the win & stay calm & focused then gold badges all round next season . I never saw Colin Bell play but my late dad told me he was the perfect player with ever and had the lot , Yaya must run him close after this season after his goals & creativity, not forgetting that cup final 'fluke' .
    Nerves will be jangling come Sunday but with every man, woman & child behind the team , and as long as we don't get drawn into any rash challenges then we will prevail . Lets hope we do it in style , an early goal might settle us down.
    4 nil would be perfect ... Can we do it , you know we can . COME ON CITY !!

  6. May 9, 2014  10:34 am by Graham Ward Reply

    Excellent, patient, win. While I was watching the game, I kept thinking 'all we need is one, and that should release everything'....and so, in the end, it proved. It was harsh on Villa in a way, I thought.
    Colin Bell will always be my hero, although Toure, and, for me, Silva in particular, are very worthy contenders. Different times, different conditions, but we should all be thankful that they are BLUES.
    Keep the focus on West Ham, but the evidence is there that we are in no mood to let this one go.

  7. May 9, 2014  12:06 pm by Bill Glas Reply

    Top notch review yet again, David, and a few memories of the 'King' revived. I believe we can do it on Sunday, but it's so important to get behind the team. I don't think my nerves could stand a repetition of the QPR performance, though. I don't want to be sitting in my seat with my head in my hands on 90 mins this time.

    • May 9, 2014  12:28 pm by David Walker Reply

      Agreed - let's avoid the nervous 90s but equally we don't want adversity & sitting holding our ar*e in our hands. I'm sure we'll do it in regulation.

  8. May 9, 2014  12:46 pm by Richard Cooper Reply

    David, you report on all all games very well so it is hard to find a different "twist" and not become repetitive !

    The first half was frustrating with a lot of effort but not that decisive ball into "the box" we needed, against a stubborn Villa team who certainly didn't come to win. In fact I thought it would take as long to score the first goal as it did to get from the Moss Side brewey to our car park due to the problems on and around the Mancunian Way !

    Then of course it all changed. Jovetic comes on, Ya Ya is unleashed, Zabba found oceans of space to work with and a comfortable win was deserved and got.

    Ya Ya : After a first half where his passing went bit astray at times, his second half was pure Ya Ya. Hobby horse I know but for all the people who made the 80 - 90 minute "early dart" out of the ground - believe me the Toure goal was far better seen live than on MOTD - pure class
    Zabaleta : Superb performance
    Jovetic : Great cameo performance capped by a great goal. With an injury free season next year am sure he will be a great asset. He can stop that shirt waving - Mrs C can get excited enough without that !
    Dzeko : I think everyone agrees - Love him or hate him how can you fault a guy with his scoring record who always "tips" up at the right place at the right time.
    Still a job to be done - just do it !
    Sorry Sir Bobby but :-
    The City was, is and always will be ours

    • May 9, 2014  3:11 pm by David Walker Reply

      Nicely put RC - Once more unto the breach...

  9. May 9, 2014  4:20 pm by Philip Entwistle Reply

    Nice piece again Dave, I actually felt quite tranquil during the game. I soon realised Villa were incapable of holding the City juggernaut at bay for a full 90 minutes. Sam will undoubtedly bring his 'ammers' to try and spoil the party, if as is muted he is getting the push after the game he will want to finish on a high. Our MP has to get the line up right from the start given we have the Maestro available and play with the believe that we 'are' undoubtably the best team in the Premier League.
    See you on sunday Dave for a day of worship at the theatre of of Football.

  10. May 9, 2014  4:32 pm by GeorgeInIsrael Reply

    Knew I had forgotten something.
    One would expect a knight of the realm to understand geographical concepts like boundaries. Could some please explain gently to Sir Bobby Charlton that in order to be the best team in Manchester, you actually have to play in Manchester!

    • May 10, 2014  12:38 am by John Evans TT Reply

      Touché George.

      • May 10, 2014  12:48 am by David Walker Reply

        Aye up young Evans - you're going to be claiming 'lineage' at this rate! Are you old enough to even entertain to what that pertains? We ought to have an offline chat one day - interesting comments, every time.

        • May 10, 2014  1:45 am by John Evans TT Reply

          Point taken David, sorry I got carried away.

  11. May 9, 2014  7:29 pm by DOUG HENSHAW Reply

    Well written piece David a B+ plus. Its Was job done & done well now on to Sunday & Big Sam who wants to spoil the party. Well i got news for him it isn't going to happen the team are up & ready & so are we the fans the noise should be at a maximum on Sunday. It will be so good to wipe the smile of shine teeth Rodgers the man has got worse as the season has progressed. So come on City lets do it in style & then the media will have to give us praise although it will kill them to do it. #Believe #TrustOurMP

    • May 10, 2014  12:45 am by David Walker Reply

      RBNR likes to be instrumental in constructive debate...YES BRENDA IS A COMPLETE & UTTER TWAT!

  12. May 9, 2014  11:33 pm by Blue inc Reply

    It was time to add jelly to the ice cream! :) Brilliant read as always Dave, sorry for late reply, you never fail.

    • May 10, 2014  12:52 am by David Walker Reply

      You're apologising for taking the time and effort to read and comment on my offerings? Daft sod - THANKYOU for reading...but if you're late again you can forget about being milk monitor next week!

  13. May 10, 2014  9:20 pm by Blue inc Reply

    Reopened an old wound there mate:) I will try not to be late!

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