The Grand Master Plan takes shape
Firstly, a warm welcome to all of the new members of MCFCfans, supporters of Manchester City from all over the world who have been signing up to be a part of a growing global City community. There are many great City fan blogs, and it is the sign of a club with real heart and substance that we should be blessed with so many not-for-profit, well-respected, unofficial sites.
The form book certainly reads in City’s favour today. WWWWW, our form back to the Celtic friendly, is not a sight we have seen for a while. Added to this is the fact that City has not conceded a goal in the last four games. There are certainly some small issues around the edges about one aspect or another of the team, but I would take that start any season.
As Hughes himself has confessed, Pompey presents a somewhat unpredictable challenge. Playing a struggling team away from home, that has just had a major organisational change, is always perilous. In the spirit of light-hearted banter, I think that predicting a tight affair today is the easy option. City should trounce Portsmouth today, make no bones about it. Pompey’s new owner has yet to make an impact at Pompey, and it could be said he needs to prove himself after his outbursts during the City takeover. A lot of quality has left the club and not a lot has come back in the other direction.
There were several aspects that impressed me watching City from the stand on Thursday evening. The one that really stood out though, was the condition of the players. Very few players looked to be lacking match fitness even though we’re at the start of the season. When a ball was being chased by any City player, it was chased with a burst of pace that demonstrated a rigorous pre-season training routine. No longer does Stephen Ireland look like the only player who can run for 90 minutes.
Stephen Ireland’s description in the Telegraph yesterday about a walk in the hotel grounds with Micah and Nedum was enlightening. “We were on a walk at the hotel, me and Micah and Nedum. And we were just saying – Richard Dunne had just left, just before we went on our walk – and we were saying there’s just three of us left, this is mental you know.” It’s happened so fast and yet, so far at least, the manner of the execution of the plan has been excellent.
It’s not difficult to pick out the new players who have made an impact so far. All of them. Adebayor is scoring and has slotted in nicely up front. Barry’s command of midfield is a cut above, although there is more to be done to gel the midfield together. Tevez showed signs of real class on Thursday night. His vision and ability to join up passages of play is something akin to a chess player. Toure and Lescott looked relatively assured. The niggling wing-back concerns persist, and there is a real need to find a way to get the best out of Robinho as the formation takes shape. But these niggles take time.
This is a team that is enjoying playing football together as the grand master plan is implemented. There is a real buzz around the club and the players are feeding from it. The feel good factor could create a big result today. The betting certainly indicates a strong City showing (Betfair: City 1.59 – 1.6, Pompey 7.0-7.2, Draw 4.2-4.3 @ 09.57am, 30th Aug). So I’m long total goals, but have capped my correct score optimism at 3-0 to City (Betfair: 13.5-14.0).
Let’s hear a big noise in the 2,000 strong away end today Blues: COME ON CITY !!!