Published on August 22nd, 2014 | by webmaster0
“1 down, 37 to go!” | Ian Cheeseman
“1 down, 37 to go!”
Written by Ian Cheeseman
The 2-0 win at Newcastle, felt like the perfect start to City’s defence of their title. The scoreline was a repeat of last season, the performance wasn’t completely without flaws, but it wasn’t far away. Although I’d seen Fernando in action at Wembley, this was the first time I could judge him for real and he passed with flying colours, although it has to be said that this was against a new Newcastle side, and a team expected to finish in mid table rather than be battling near the top of the table.
Fernando seems to have a touch of Nigel De Jong about him, but looks as if he may be more forward thinking when in possession of the ball. I met and interviewed him at a City in the Community event, before the Arsenal game, and I felt he showed an inner strength, despite his polite and respectful demeanour. It’s hard to explain why, it’s just my first judgement of him as a character.
I suspect that he’ll play alongside Fernandinho in the biggest games this season, and I’m hopeful the two will compliment each other perfectly. Fernando was described as a player who loves a tackle, loves to defend, and that’s what we saw at St.James’ Park, but I think there’s more to him that just that.
Like many City fans, I’ve never been completely sure about Edin Dzeko. There’s no arguing about his goalscoring record, and being selfish is a trait often sought in strikers, but this City team is all about the joy of sharing the ball and passing; entertaining football. Dzeko has not always felt totally part of that, but at Newcastle I saw a Dzeko 2.0, who played with more of a smile, and more as a team player than I’ve sometimes seen.
His back heal for the opening goal by David Silva was magnificent. We’re used to seeing the little Spanish magician setting up a goal like that and Dzeko finishing, but the roles were reversed this time. He showed it was no fluke when he repeated the skilful back heal down on the touchline, right in front of the press box. I love skills like that, and it looked like he did too. His work rate was impressive too.
I’d have given the Man-of-the-Match award to the “Bosnian Diamond”, though there were no bad performances, so it was a tough call.
No game is perfect, and in the last twenty minutes City were under pressure and you couldn’t have argued if they’d conceded, but then on came Sergio Aguero and what an impact, and a goal that very few other players would have scored.
After the game I interviewed the manager, and picked up on his “throw away” comment that Dzeko would be signing a new contract, which he hadn’t volunteered in the main press conference, and seemed to go over the heads of some of my colleagues.
I also asked about the future of Nastasic, to which he replied that the young Serbian, along with Micah Richards, John Guidetti and Scott Sinclair might all leave before the end of the month. By Tuesday those stories were all over the papers.
I believe that if Alvaro Negredo had not got injured in preseason, he might have been sold by now. That’s based purely on my instincts, and things I’ve seen and heard. It’ll be interesting to see how his story develops.
As I write this blog on Thursday evening, there’s the tantalising prospect of Mario Balotelli making his Liverpool debut against City on Monday night. I know lots of City fans loved Mario, but whatever happens in that one game, whether he plays or not, in the long run I believe City were right to sell him and as talented as Balotelli is, he’s not the right man for this City team. His reduced price tag suggests to me he wasn’t right in Milan either, nor will he be for Liverpool. Time will tell.
I’m looking forward to seeing Mangala in action, I suspect it won’t be against Liverpool, but whenever it is, that’s when you and I will start to make our judgement.
On Monday, inside the stadium, you’ll see the “Etihad Stadium” sign on the half way line on both sides of the ground, two new giant screens at the North End, and holes in the roof over the South Stand. There’s a new trench of seats next to the pitch, with a perfect view of the players ankles, but overall I’m hoping that there’ll be a familiar feel to things on Monday night, with City continuing their home dominance. Suarez-less Liverpool will be a tough examination, and last season’s Boxing Day encounter was one of my favourite games of the campaign.
I’m on air on BBC Radio Manchester from the Etihad, right after Jimmy Wagg’s Monday night football hour from 6-7pm. I’ll be joined by Shaun Goater, who’s back alongside me for home games this season, and you’ll hear from Manuel Pellegrini, Joe Hart and probably Mario Balotelli before kickoff. Naturally, I’d love your company, via the “wireless” on 95.1Fm, DAB, or via the City website mcfc.co.uk for full match commentary.
On Tuesday, the evening after the night before, it’s “Blue Tuesday” when I’ll be joined by Peter Barnes and you’ll hear from “Far Flung Blue” Ian Macleod, who developed his love for the Blues, in Hollywood, as City fans helped him survive through his battle with leukaemia – a truly inspiring tale.
If you missed last weeks show with Gary Owen, Kevin Kennedy (aka Curly Watts from Coronation Street) and Gaynor Norris, plus far flung blue Thomas Owen from Dubbo, Australia then you can get it here: BBC.co.cuk/radiomanchester.
If you missed my blog last week, be sure to click here to read more about who I am!
And so until next time, up the Blues!