Blues Report Edition 1: City Get Tactics Right As Jovetic Takes His Chance
As the new season blinks its youthful eyes like a new-born gazing at its unfamiliar surroundings, the first few weeks of the campaign in the blue half of Manchester have been hectic ones. The ever omnipresent Eliaquim Mangala eventually signed for the club, along with some pinnacle existing players, and there was a winning start to the Premier league for City up in the North East. Feast your eyes on the latest and upcoming ‘Blues flashes’ from this week.
In the first game hosted by a half construction site/ half Etihad stadium, the Citizens stormed to a 3-1 win over last year’s runners up Liverpool after a very slick second half display. Goals came from Sergio Agüero and Stevan Jovetic, who scored two and was voted the Man of the Match. Undoubtedly, praise must be heaped on him and in addition on our Chilean leader.
The engineer was rather reluctant to tinker with his system last season and in some of the crunch games, including the two games against Chelsea and the away game at Anfield, this stubbornness really did come back to bite him on the proverbial. In the three above fixtures it was glaringly obvious that the blues midfield was getting swamped as a result of a rigid system with two men up top. Therefore, to some people on first glance of the team sheet on Monday night, it may have seemed that the boss hadn’t learnt from his almost crucial obstinacy. However, Pelligrini had picked out the perfect tool from his tool belt in Stevan Jovetic.
When the Montenegrin joined the club he was labelled as the new Carlos Tevez; granted he doesn’t have quite the same tenacity, but last night proved that Jovetic may indeed be a pea from the same pod. With him in the side, City had three men in the middle of the park when defending, which is crucial against Steven Gerrard’s new quarter back role. Inevitably, there were times when Gerrard was able to ping balls left and right, especially in the first half, however the tactic obviously worked as the Scouser didn’t produce many key passes. On the contrary, playing Jovetic in that role allowed him to pick up threatening positions and attack by running at the Liverpool defence on the half turn instead of having his back to goal as he would have in a rigid 4-4-2 system.
Jovetic, and the new man Fernando, are the reason for my choice of sub-title. It’s apparent that the chief wasn’t amused by the amount of goals we let in last season. In a system with Jovetic dropping into the hole and Fernando screening the defence, we were able to bully Liverpool and control the game. We’ve always had the physique in the team nevertheless, Monday’s game suggested that Manuel is willing to play some dirty, Mourinho-esque football and win ugly.
The pundits in the Sky studio suggested that City were looking ‘ominous’, just like Chelsea; perhaps more so since comfortable wins over two promoted sides don’t spell the word ominous to me.
The week ahead…
With Transfer Deadline Day looming large, Jim White will probably be informing City fans of more exports than imports; names such as Scott Sinclair spring to mind. Rumours have been circulating around the exit of Matija Nastasic; the young centre half was plagued with injuries last season and is yet to show any true flashes of brilliance. Perhaps, along with a pacey left footed winger, another sturdy centre half is what the squad requires. The week ahead may spring a few surprises upon the City faithful….
The other shining beacon on the horizon is Thursday’s Champions league draw. The Invisible Men are in pot two, equalling last year’s status, and a group in similar profile to last seasons wouldn’t have many City fans grumbling: a whipping boy in pot 4, the avoidance of Ajax in pot 3 and either a galactic away day or Porto in pot 1 will have us grinning like a Cheshire cat.
Finally, there’s a trip to the Britannia to look forward to on Saturday. The manager has been hinting that changes will be made which may mean we’ll get to see our new French contingency in Sagna and Mangala and, albeit surreally, Frank Lampard in a sky blue shirt! Lampard scored a sumptuous goal against them in April 2010 in Chelsea’s 7-0 thrashing of the Potters with an outside of the foot volley. The Blues haven’t won in Stoke since the season of 1982/83 so let’s hope Super Frank has his scoring boots on.