Sunday, July 31, 2011

City, Inaugural Dublin Cup Winners: Andy's Corner

Periodic Analysis & Opinion from Andrew, Supporter's Club Social Secretary:

Okay, let's be honest. No one cares about this cup, especially considering I have toenails older than it. You can even see this sort of "How silly is this whole thing?" expression on Kompany's face in this picture. With that being said, it is of some interest to us fans, because these two games were essentially the last preseason matches of summer 2011 for City, as the Community Shield Manchester Derby is next Sunday.

Irish XI 0, Manchester City 3
With that being said, let's get the first victory, 0-3 against an Irish XI out of the way. Our 3rd string team, comprised of mainly youngsters and unknowns, was rather shockingly awful. Of course, they are extremely young and simply trying to get by, but that was one of the worst matches of football I've ever seen, haha - consistent loss of possession on both sides, confused and poor ball movement, weak defending. Oh well, we came away with the win, and not surprisingly Shaun Wright-Phillips, Gareth Barry, and Adam Johnson were the best thing about it. Another stunning goal by SWP left me confused as to how he could not receive a starting position, and Gareth Barry (a player I have been want to loathe over the years) delivered numerous excellent long balls to the attack. I might have to ease up on him. Vladimir Weiss, for all intents and purposes the only other player of note in this game, was a bit headstrong and pacey, but all together again showing promise for the coming years. Veseli, Guidetti, and many others were piss-poor, if I'm being honest. With that being said I'm rather shocked an international side would let themselves get thrashed by a 3 goal shutout in such a disjointed way. Don't know much about the squad so perhaps it was not a starting lineup, with many players likely away on club duties. 

Manchester City 3, Inter Milan 0
Now, this game was actually more of a shocker, and exponentially more entertaining. With City fielding perhaps their strongest side (sans newcomer Kun Aguero and club headache Carlos Tevez, of course) currently possible, and Inter fielding a strong if not all first team side as well, the match was sure to be European level competition, and it was. 

Defence - 8.5/10

I never thought I'd utter these words, but Dave's favorite player Aleksander Kolarov actually had a fantastic game. He seemed to be pushing forward just the right amount, but when needed could pull back and hold the back for, along with the ever-perfect Vincent Kompany (looking comfortable in a captain's armband), and the continuously stronger and more measured Joleon Lescott, who much like SWP, has been playing this preseason with a point to prove. Our defence was able to render world-class veterans like Wesley Sneijder and Samuel Eto'o to little more than pencil pushers on the field, with a few chances coming for Inter, but not many. The biggest complaint was several unmarked players on corner kicks, which could come back to hurt us in the season; experienced teams like United and Chelsea will not be so forgiving in the box - the same and more goes for our Champions League competition. All in all, I give our defence a resounding cheer of support though. 

Midfield - 9/10

Similarly shocking was the heroic workhouse effort of James Milner today. While showing flashes of brilliance over last year's campaign, Milner was decidedly hot and cold all throughout his first year with City. With that being noted, I am not going to put too much into this performance other that him showing what he could be when healthy and hungry, but he was a real difference maker today - he seemed to be everywhere on the pitch, taking possession, rushing down the wings, and providing thoughtful and resilient service to players like Silva and Balotelli. Similarly class was Nigel De Jong, but not shock should be there, he was aggressive, patient, and team-oriented the entire 90 minutes. Yaya's ankle injury seemed to be a distant memory, and Barry, when substituted on, actually looked good again as well. Great midfield performance. 

David Silva - 10/10

Now while I could evaluate the attack as a whole, which was good, I might as well just say what we are all thinking after a game like that: David Silva is our attack. Officially crowned "The Magician" by today's commentators (and others, I believe), #21 was essentially a man possessed today - cutting like butter through the Inter defence with the ease of a Saturday afternoon pickup game against a kid's team. Vision, pace, unselfishness - all displayed here today. Last year, Silva was great, today he was epic. If these kind of performances against world class teams like Inter is what we have to look forward too... and Aguero in front of him to pass to... 2011-12 could be a WILD ride. 

-We have to admit to ourselves Balotelli is moody even on the pitch. Today I saw him at one minute take complete control of a ball, focus, take blasting strike, head in a goal, pass intelligently, only to minutes later watch him walk around the pitch like a soccer mom in Fort Mason. Other times he would lazily pass the ball away - not as a mistake, but as if he was not even taking the match seriously enough to give his teammates a crisp pass. He has all the talent in the world, granted, but if Aguero is everything he says he is, and Dzeko can continue to improve and be the target-man, I may advocate for Balotelli to be our 3rd option striker purely off of the fact that I cannot predict which Balotelli I will be seeing this week. 

-Dzeko will be alright, I've decided. If the players around him are in full swing, he is, truly, an asset - a big man up front, physically imposing, and more and more getting used to knocking around players, the English way. His ability to trap and set the ball against an oncoming defence is high quality, and he does have great striking ability. He is, might I add, hands down the most effusive and objectively 'likable' player on City, and has the entire team behind him, as evidenced by the players (including the sometimes stoic Yaya Toure) jumping on him and giving him congrats after an admittedly easy goal for any decent striker. Perhaps he will truly become our Bosnian Diamond, and stop looking like coal.

-Give Shaun Wright-Phillips a chance on the first team. The man has given us Champions League, hell, world-quality goals, assists, and presence this preseason. We open with Swansea at home - not a tough match. Start SWP and see what he can do.

Well, that's I think enough for now... the Community Shield next week, a HUGE derby that both sides of Manchester (or should I say Manchester and some place in Greater Manchester? Ha) are taking extremely seriously, as well SF California Blues. 'Til next time.

Live Forever