Goalkeeping glare was all the rage as the media vultures gathered to focus on ‘flop’ Joe Hart, to zoom in on his discomfort and further undermine his Manchester City and England career.
Dropped for the first time in 124 Premier League games, here was a great opportunity to engineer and expose the merest morsel of dissent from Hart, to exploit yet another example of mercenaries lacking loyalty or passion for the Etihad ‘project’.
Oops, sorry lads it didn’t quite go that way did it?
Yes, one of England’s goalkeeping corps did suffer a humiliating afternoon, but it wasn’t a warmly snuggled Joe, sitting on the City bench joking with Joleon Lescott, on a bitter November afternoon.
It was Norwich’s John Ruddy – a potential England replacement – going through hell as he and his flapping Canary team mates coughed up seven goals in a magnificent, record-breaking City showcase.
Wretched Ruddy seemed to be doing his level best to ensure Joe retains his status as England’s number one, as goal after goal after goal flew past a flightless flock of Norfolk fowl.
England manager Woy Hodgson would have been stammering ‘F-f-f-f-f-f Fwaser F-f-f-f-Forster’ as Wuddy flapped forlornly at deflections, shots and headers, and all to no avail.
The ‘Third Man’ in this tryst of international goalkeeping intrigue was almost as redundant as the man he’d replaced. Costel Pantilimon, recently axed from the Romanian World Cup squad due to a lack of playing time, was required to make a solitary save on his Premier League debut.
At 6ft 8 inches tall, ‘Pants’ is head and shoulders above his glamorous, and more commercially viable, team mate. On a day when there were seven different names on the score-sheet, perhaps he should be lambasted for not scoring on his debut?
Why not? Asmir Begovic of Stoke – often mentioned as a potential City transfer target did yesterday – so Costel had better get his shooting boots on pretty darn fast!
Costel’s name was warmly applauded as the Etihad Stadium announcer ran through the line-ups, but it was perhaps tempered with sympathy for Hart, the icon who has stood between the sticks in City’s recent glories.
His time will undoubtedly come again – hopefully in a City shirt – but that cannot, should not, be at the behest of any City fans wishing Pants ill, as he adapts to being the last line of the Sky Blue defence.
Sadly for the media maggots and putrid TV pundits, the feathers were flying at the other end of the pitch, as City went into orbit with a new club top flight scoring record.
Having surpassed their previous best Premier League win (a 6-0 romp over Portsmouth in September 2008, with half-a-dozen different goalscorers i.e. Jo, Dunne, Robinho, Wright-Phillips, Evans & Fernandez) City went one better, but once again, with all different scorers:
ü 16th min – Bradley Johnson (og) after a rebound from an Aguero shot in a crowded Norwich penalty box
ü 20th min – David Silva left foot drive following Aguero’s lay-off after a superb Nasri through ball
ü 25th min – Matija Nastasic header from a Nasri corner – his first goal for City albeit killjoys will try and claim it as a Richard Martin (og)
ü 36th min – Alvaro Negredo swept the ball home from short range after an Aguero volleyed assist from Yaya Toure’s beautifully lobbed pass over the Norwich’s defence
ü 60th min – Now trademark Yaya curling free kick from 25 yards out – deadlier than a Mario Balotelli penalty – exquisite
ü 71st min – Aguero’s low drive hammered home after fluffed Bassong ‘clearance’ 10 yards in front of the Norwich goal
ü 86th min – Sub Dzeko on since half-time for Negredo, receives sweet pass from Jesus Navas, turns and fires strong strike into bottom right of Ruddy’s net
The match marked a personal landmark in Sergio Aguero’s momentous Manchester City career – his 100th appearance in league and cup – in which he has scored 58 goals – better than a goal every two games.
Had it not been for City’s secret summer signing – ‘OG’ – he would have scored a nice round 60, a superb strike rate in the most challenging league in the world.
Aguero has bagged 11 goals so far this season –who would bet against him hitting 25 or more if he stays injury free? Negredo has weighed in with half-a-dozen and has settled well since his move from Sevilla, Yaya has notched seven, Dzeko six and David Silva three, in a goal fest under Manuel Pellegrini’s more open attacking style.
It’s farcical, laughable, pathetic – call it what you will – that the morons in the media and on Match of the Day continue to try and underplay just about anything virtuous that emanates from the Etihad.
Dwight ‘not-at-all bright’ Yorke on Sky, and Alan ‘bland beige-is-back, oh it never went away’ Shearer, were ‘united’ in almost decrying City’s landslide win, blaming it on Norwich’s defensive ineptitude.
Yes, the Canaries were poor and ripe for stuffing, but I’d bet my bloody mortgage if it had been Manchester United, Arsenal, Spurs, Chelsea or Liverpool, these poisonous pundits would be nigh-on ‘orgasmic’ over the sensational flair and technique of the winners.
Credit and respect to the Norwich fans who, upon gaining an 83rd minute corner and at 6-0 down, started a frenzy of activity and singing ‘Come On You Yellows’ – that was classy and self deprecating.
Last season a comparative goal drought cost City the retention of their PL title. Tevez and Balotelli have since departed but the goals ratio has rocketed.
This season, the problems rest in the goals conceded column.
At this moment there are 11 teams with a defensive record better than or equal to City. City have had the standout defence for the past three seasons.
Vincent Kompany is key to curing the problem BUT since he limped out of the Everton game City have won five games, losing just the one in that calamitous mix-up at Chelsea. They’ve scored 18 and conceded 5…and yet Pellegrini has still kept his position as City manager!
The irony is plain to see, but there are people who actually believe he is doing a bad job. That Care in the Community programme clearly didn’t work for some.
Give CSKA a rocket on Bonfire Night, avoid the annual dim result at the Stadium of Light next Sunday (City usually have 70% possession and contrive to lose 1-0) and then cool AVB’s hot Spurs, and Pellegrini’s men will be nigh on top of the PL and qualified in the CL.
The success would have been achieved without City’s Captain Fantastic so, upon his return, plus January investment in a class act defensive centre back and a left back reinforcement (Eliaquim Mangala and Leighton Baines??) who would bet against this being City’s finest ever season?
Crisis? What bloody crisis!
By David Walker www.readbutneverred.com
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