This was everything we were told to expect from a Manchester City side managed by Manuel Pellegrini: slick, attacking football with a ruthless edge. On the day the club announced on their website that Pablo Zabaleta signed a new four-year deal, they produced a brilliant performance to beat Newcastle 4-0 and give Pellegrini a stress-free start as manager.
A more one-sided match you’re unlikely to see.
A 4-0 win over a poor Newcastle side is by no means confirmation of City’s title-winning credentials but it represents a wonderful start to the new era at the Etihad. Goals from David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri sealed the victory, with Jesus Navas and Fernandinho making seriously impressive debuts.
Pellegrini could barely have wished for a better start.
Newcastle were down to ten men on the stroke of half-time after Steven Taylor was sent off but, in truth, City were dominating long before his dismissal. The fluidity of their formation was remarkable, with Silva, Aguero, Navas, Toure, Fernandinho and a much-improved Edin Dzeko all wanting the ball and influencing play.
The benefits of a good preseason were all on display. Pellegrini made a point in his Friday press conference of praising the work of Txiki Begiristain who secured four new signings in double-quick time at the start of the transfer window, leaving City with a full 40 days to prepare for the new season with all their new players involved, and it showed.
They looked prepared and comfortable playing together, as Newcastle were given a ruthless lesson in how to play free-flowing, all-out-attack football.
The evening was soured slightly by a second-half injury to Vincent Kompany. He appeared to hold his groin as he hobbled off and with Micah Richards also missing through injury, Matija Nastasic’s full recovery cannot come soon enough. Don’t be surprised if City’s search for a new defender gathers pace over the coming days.
This is the level City must play at consistently if they are to regain the title. Roberto Mancini’s City’s side produced performances like this one but last season they were too few and far between, allowing Manchester United to win the league at a canter, finishing 11 points ahead of City—after taking their foot off the gas for the final few games of the season once the title was secured.
It’s a big deficit to make up but if City can play like this consistently, it would be no surprise if they were champions come May.
Hart, Zabaleta, Clichy, Kompany (Garcia 71), Lescott, Fernandinho, Silva (Negredo 80), Yaya Toure, Navas, Aguero (Nasri 62), Dzeko
Unused subs: Pantilimon, Kolarov, Rodwell, Milner
Krul, Debuchy, Yanga-Mbiwa, Coloccini, Taylor, Tiote, Sissoko, Ben Arfa (Sammy Ameobi 65), Gouffran (Dummett 45), Cisse, Gutierrez (Anita 44)
Unused subs: Elliot, Marveaux, Shola Ameobi, Obertan