Manchester City’s past and present personnel combined to brighten Manuel Pellegrini’s immediate future, as his team strives to retain their Premier League title.
The Etihad superstars of the here and now duly murdered Newcastle’s visiting Magpies – as they have done for nearly a decade – after the unheralded City youngsters of yesteryear did their former employers a massive modern day favour.
A five star showing and a 5-0 roasting of the Geordies was made all the sweeter after City ‘old boys’ Kieran Trippier and Ben Mee combined to deprive Chelsea of two precious points.
The duo who helped City win the FA Youth Cup Final in 2008 – ironically against Chelsea – were at it again as Mee headed home Trippier’s cross, to give Burnley a late equaliser in the 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.
It only added to the sense of the occasion as City, replenished and rejuvenated by a returning Yaya Toure and newly acquired Wilfried Bony, prepared to embark on a run of 13 league games designed to signal ‘unlucky for some’ – namely Maureen and the Neanderthals who pass as Chelsea fans.
With the £25m new boy consigned to the bench, the enigmatic Edin Dzeko was given a chance to kick start his season and set City en-route to another ‘Fight ‘Till the End’ title triumph.
He did so in just 27 seconds.
The big Bosnian was sent sprawling in the visitor’s 18-yard area by a clumsy Anita challenge and Sergio Aguero dispatched the ensuing penalty. 1-0 to City with 72 seconds showing on the clock.
600 seconds later and Edin was once again the provider, crossing a low ball into the path of Samir Nasri inside the Newcastle box. Super Sami carried on from where he left off in the 4-1 stuffing of Stoke, calmly controlling the ball, taking his time and picking his spot past Tim Krul.
By the 21st minute it was time for Dzeko to take centre stage, cushioning a sublime David Silva pass on his chest, before effortlessly volleying beyond the despairing reach of the Newcastle keeper.
If Edin displayed the same level of desire, determination and skill on a regular basis, the arguments about his ability and application to the job would cease to exist.
It shouldn’t take the signing of Bony to ‘coax’ Edin into fulfilling the fundamentals of his job description. That said, if he were to sustain it, he could be yet another positive element in firing City to back-to-back titles.
At 3-0 down Krul – in his garish orange strip – and the rest of his Toon team mates had been well and truly ‘tango-ed’. The only question was, how far could City go in narrowing not just the gap in points, but also the goal difference on Chelsea?
It had started the day as a seven point and eight goal differentiator. It ended it at five and three, as the best player ever to wear City blue, bagged a second half brace.
David Silva has the same self-effacing, low key persona as the man he’s superseded as City’s finest.
Merlin has magically surpassed Colin The King as the greatest talent ever to grace Manchester City Football Club…and long may he continue so to do.
Of course it’s a highly subjective topic, but with Silva now adding goals to his game, the argument is done and dusted in many quarters.
Two well taken left foot shots in the 51st and 53rd minutes, boosted the Spaniard’s season tally to nine in the PL and iced this comprehensive win – the 11th consecutive City league victory over the now well swiped Barcodes.
Such was the speed of Newcastle’s annual capitulation Pellegrini had the luxury of first withdrawing Silva and Aguero from harm’s way on the hour, before bringing his other main creative force – Nasri – off 10 minutes later.
Bony replaced Sergio to a rapturous welcome and soon looked the part, narrowly missing out on a debut goal, as his low shot deflected over the bar via Krul’s left leg.
High tempo, quick passing and purposeful off-the-ball movement – this was as far removed from the turgidity of recent home performances as could be imagined.
Yaya’s return and the presence of Bony seemed to imbue the whole team with confidence and re-assert the fact that City were indeed the Champions of England.
It helped that Newcastle were light years away from the incisive, fearless and lightning quick counter-attacking outfit who had sent City reeling out of the Capital One Cup, last October.
Joe Hart was only called upon to make one stunning save from Cisse, just after the half time interval, which meant a long overdue clean sheet – City’s first in 11 league and cup games since December 20th.
With Barcelona and Liverpool as their next two opponents, the welcome return to top form could not have been better timed.
Both will present a much more formidable challenge than the Geordies in what could be a pivotal week for Pellegrini and City’s silverware aspirations in 2015.
With Messi, Neymar and El Rodento (sorry, Suarez), chomping at the bit to achieve a repeat of last season’s 2-0 1st leg win, City will need to be at their best.
If they are, there’s no reason why they can’t be heading off to the Catalan capital next month, holding an advantage.
Last season’s 4-1 aggregate defeat in the Round of 16, will have given the majority of the City squad an invaluable, albeit painful, experience of the Nou Camp and what it’s like to compete at the highest levels of European club football.
Two very dodgy referees and the sendings off of Demichelis and Zabaleta, hardly aided the cause. Neither did having Pellegrini banished from the touchline in the second leg, after he justifiably queried the abilities of the referee Jonas Eriksson– a Swede who performed like a turnip.
Only time will tell if Pellegrini should take heart from his former charges at Malaga, inflicting a 1-0 defeat on Messi & Co in La Liga this weekend.
James Milner should be the only player ruled out with injury, so it’s a case of trusting the City boss to get his tactics right.
Will the temptation to play Aguero and Bony up front in a 4-4-2 leave City’s midfield open to exploitation? Could City, once again, be at risk of being over-run if Luis Enrique deploys five men in the middle of the park?
It’s as fascinating as it’s glamorous, despite the inevitable sense of déjà vu that accompanies the tie, almost 12 months to the day since the first ever competitive game between the clubs.
There’s now a perverse wave of optimism flowing through City after a wretched January.
One can only hope and pray it isn’t as badly misplaced as that of The Toon Army who, having enjoyed Capital One Cup success at the Etihad, thought they were in for more of the same in the league.
And look how that turned out – gone in 27 seconds!
By David Walker
A special mention in dispatches for my friend Mark Williamson – a lifelong Newcastle United fan who suffered for the umpteenth time – through the annual massacre of the Magpies. He took the 5-0 defeat in good heart because, as he stated pre-match, he’s getting used to it after 15 losses and two draws in the last 17 league encounters.
Top man & top fan!
NOTE TO READERS: Due to technical difficulties we were unable to download images from City’s 5-0 victory over Newcastle. Apologies if this diminishes your enjoyment of our coverage.
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