City put on a swashbuckling display of attacking football on Saturday afternoon to ruthlessly destroy Norwich 7-0. It was perhaps the finest attacking performance by the Blues at Fortress Etihad this season, up there with the decimation of United in September. With Aguero, Silva, Nasri, Yaya and Fernandinho in this form, it will be hard to stop City. Look out CSKA!
Manchester City: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Nastasic, Clichy, Nasri (Milner 71), Fernandinho, Toure, Silva (Navas 73), Aguero, Negredo (Dzeko 45)
Subs Not Used: Hart, Richards, Lescott, Kolarov
Goals: Johnson (OG) 16, Silva 20, Nastasic 25, Negredo 36, Yaya 60, Aguero 71, Dzeko 86
Norwich City: Ruddy, Martin, Turner, Bassong, Olsson, Johnson, Whittaker (Murphy 45), Howson, Fer, Pilkington, Hooper (Elmander 45)
Subs Not Used: Bunn, Hoolahan, Garrido, Becchio, Bennett
Attendance: 47,066 (sold out)
The City boss admitted he doesn’t know when Joe Hart will be back between the sticks, but still has faith in England’s number one to bounce back (just like we do).
“Joe made a lot of mistakes, he knows. Not just this year, also last year. So I think for Joe it’s a good moment to stop. But I’m absolutely sure that working hard he will – I don’t know when – return to his normal position.”
Pantilimon is expected to start in goal against CSKA Moscow on Tuesday night where a win will put the Blues through to the elusive Champions League knockout stage, assuming Viktoria Plzeň don’t pull off a miracle and beat Bayern Munich (and even if they did, they would also have to overcome City by four goals then beat CSKA).
City recently dispatched scout Rob Newman to watch Porto against Sporting Lisbon with defenders on the former Norwich man’s agenda.
Both of Porto’s starting central defenders, Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolás Otamendi, have been on City’s radar, but Otamendi is thought to be the one who City are ramping up their interest in and could swoop for as soon as January.
Though City are very keen on French youngster Mangala, who has the potential to become one of Europe’s top centre-backs, Porto’s valuation of £35million is seen as a stumbling block and 25-year-old Otamendi, who has been in excellent form this season, could represent better value at around £25million.
The Sunday People, known for throwing out some of the more crazy football rumours, reckons that Bayern Munich could sign Robert Lewandowski from Borussia Dortmund… then offer him in a swap deal for Sergio Aguero!
Aguero has reportedly become a main target for the European champions, but such a contrived swap deal throws the credibility of this story into doubt. Oh, we’ll just say it – this deal isn’t happening.
It’s certainly possible that Bayern could make an approach for the sublime Aguero, but very unlikely under these circumstances, and it’s just as unlikely that City would consider parting with their crown jewel unless Bayern offered something close to a world record fee.
Joleon Lescott will quit City this summer when his contract expires, according to the Daily Mail. Now this is very likely, but the reality is more along the lines of City deciding it is time to part ways with 31-year-old Lescott than vice versa.
Lescott commands wages of £90,000-per-week, a massive amount for a player on the fringes of the first team, and with City chiefs bringing the wage bill under control they have not offered the reliable defender new terms.
As a free agent Lescott will land a huge pay day when he moves next summer and is likely to be in high demand. Mark Hughes, who signed Lescott for City in a £22million deal, is thought to be keen on taking him to Stoke.
City are “very attentive” to the situation of 21-year-old Barcelona midfield starlet Sergi Roberto, according to Mundo Deportivo in Spain. Roberto’s case is complex in that he is desperate to stay and succeed at Barcelona, the club he has grown up at, but is becoming worried he just won’t get a chance in one of Europe’s best midfields.
Spurs, Liverpool and Milan have already contacted his agent Josep Maria Orobitg to probe the possibility of signing the Spain U21 whizzkid, but it’s the interest of City and Real Madrid that is garnering more interest.
City have the financial might to trigger Roberto’s £17million release clause and also the presence of former Barcelona director of football Txiki Begiristain would be crucial in luring the youngster away from Camp Nou.
Barcelona have recently snatched Spanish youngsters Joan Àngel Román and Denis Suárez from City, so maybe we’ll see the shoe on the other foot if City follow up on their interest.
Cheadle born George Evans made his league debut this weekend, playing the full 90 minutes for Crewe after recently joining on loan from City.
Crewe fans took to Twitter in praise of the 18-year-old midfielder who was said to have really impressed in their 0-0 draw against Bradford, while Evans himself was delighted with his first match.
Oh, Joe. Luckily for him, the media’s favourite scapegoat of late is only on one back page tomorrow, that of The Sun.