Manchester City: 5 Things We Learned from Preseason Friendly vs. AmaZulu

Phil KeidelContributor IIJuly 18, 2013

Manchester City: 5 Things We Learned from Preseason Friendly vs. AmaZulu

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    Manchester City's two South African preseason friendly matches at SuperSport United FC and AmaZulu FC were both broadcast in the United States on beIN Sport.

    Most likely, beIN Sport paid for the rights to broadcast these matches.

    Next season, City might consider paying beIN Sport not to broadcast their dress rehearsals.

    After dropping a desultory 2-0 result in Pretoria to SuperSport FC, the Sky Blues finally managed to get on the board against AmaZulu but still ended up on the wrong end of a 2-1 score line in Durban.

    City are still winless in the Manuel Pellegrini era (more on him momentarily), and while these results do not "count," certainly no one associated with Manchester City Football Club can be too pleased with what they are seeing so far.

    At least the team's activity off the pitch is going according to plan, as both Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic are soon to be Citizens. (Both links per ESPNFC.com).

    So no panic here, not hardly. City have to be better than this once the whole side comes together.

    Don't they?

Manuel Pellegrini Has His Priorities Right

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    Manuel Pellegrini was absent (with leave) for Manchester City's 2-1 loss at AmaZulu FC.

    According to Chris Wheeler of the Daily Mail, Pellegrini suddenly and unexpectedly hurried from City's training base in Durban to take the first flight to Johannesburg, where he then caught a (much longer) flight home to Santiago, Chile.

    "The reason for Pellegrini's trip is understood to be a family issue, although he is expected to rejoin his players in Hong Kong early next week," wrote Wheeler.

    Per travelmath.com, that flight across the South Atlantic and over significant portions of two continents is a mere 11 hours, 56 minutes.

    Here is hoping that whatever it was that summoned Pellegrini home so urgently (specific details are unavailable as of this writing) can be resolved with minimal negative outcome.

    Whatever the particulars turn out to be, though, Pellegrini could not possibly be faulted for leaving his team in Brian Kidd's capable hands for a relatively meaningless exhibition match.

    At some level, it is a relief to know that the Sky Blues' new manager has his priorities in line.

     

     

Edin Dzeko Is Almost Certainly Hearing Footsteps

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    All you need to know about Edin Dzeko's play in Manchester City's friendly against AmaZulu can be summed up in two sentences.

    For the second straight match, Dzeko was City's main striking threat with Sergio Aguero unavailable and City's new signings (Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic) presumably half a world away.

    And for the second straight match, Dzeko did not score.

    Per Martin Blackburn of The Sun, City's first preseason goal came when "Scott Sinclair’s cross should have been headed in by Yaya Toure but the Ivorian’s flick on fell nicely for James Milner, who hammered a shot back across the keeper."

    In other words, City's only goal in 180 minutes (plus stoppage time) in South Africa was the result of three touches. Not one of those touches came from Dzeko.

    Again in Blackburn's words, Dzeko "has been promised a new start despite City spending £40 million on new strikers."

    But the more things change for Dzeko, the more they seem to stay the same.

Aleksandar Kolarov Is Playing Like a Man Who Does Not Care for His Role

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    At least three people do not know for certain whether Aleksandar Kolarov will still be on Manchester City's roster when the games start to count in August: you, me, and Kolarov.

    Granted, Martin Blackburn of The Sun reported just a few days back that Kolarov is not going anywhere.

    "Kolarov will provide cover for first-choice left-back Gael Clichy. He also gives a useful option in a wide midfield role as the Chilean plans a 4-3-3 formation," wrote Blackburn.

    That sounds great and all, but watching Kolarov in the friendly at AmaZulu was to see a man who did not seem to know whether to defecate or wind his watch.

    You know Kolarov's underhit back pass to Joe Hart in the early stages of the first half was abject when even the club's own match report, which normally refrains from finding much Sky Blue fault, calls the Serbian defender's misplay a "howler."

     

Joe Hart Still Intensely Dislikes Back Passes Outside His Area

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    It would be wrong and inaccurate to lay all the blame for AmaZulu's first goal of their friendly match against Manchester City at the feet (all right, left foot) of Aleksandar Kolarov.

    Kolarov's back pass to Joe Hart was underhit and prime to be picked off, no question. But Joe Hart did Kolarov no favors with his indecisive, should-I-stay-or-should-I-go half an effort to play the ball out of harm's way.

    Martin Keown of the Daily Mail blabbed the poorly-kept secret of Hart's poor play any time he cannot use his hands back in June.

    Keown noted that Hart's play in England's friendly with Brazil featured "outstanding" keeping from Hart, but "his kicking has to be better."

    Well, there is little good news on that front from this AmaZulu friendly. Hart dealt with Kolarov's careless back pass as though it was a live shark dropped at his feet.

    Next time maybe Kolarov should just handle it "accidentally" and take a yellow card.

Samir Nasri Has Come to Play

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    Amid much of the turgid and uninspired play from Manchester City in South Africa, Samir Nasri's efforts have been a credit to him and his side.

    No, I never thought I would write that sentence, either.

    But you have to give the pesky Frenchman proper due. Particularly against AmaZulu, Nasri's industry and pace were both noticeable and decidedly positive.

    There was Nasri tracking back to retrieve a ball he just turned over from the player who took it from him.

    There was Nasri narrowly missing an early goal off a free kick, deftly striking his shot over the wall and then down to the keeper's right forcing a good save.

    And for good measure, there was Nasri yapping in the face of an AmaZulu opponent, seemingly willing to draw a yellow card that never came. 

    Many City players are believed to have felt real relief at Roberto Mancini's firing in May. Quite possibly, Nasri was near the top of that list.

    Per John Drayton of the Daily Mail, Nasri's disaffection for Mancini was thinly-veiled once the Italian was gone: "Maybe for me it is going to be okay that you go public and criticize me...it is a tough call for a manager to find a good balance between those situations."

    So far this preseason, though, it is all sweetness and light from the former Arsenal midfielder.

    Maybe City will see some return on their £24 miilion investment after all.