Tuesday 12 December 2017

Paul Hyland: Ominous City make statement regarding league crown

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini

Ominous. That's the only word to use to describe Manchester City's clinical deconstruction of Tony Pulis' West Brom.

After all the other Premier League title aspirants fluffed their opening lines in one way or other the quiet man, Manuel Pellegrini made the loudest statement of all.

Clearly, Manchester City summered well. They ended last season looking like a bit of a rabble and few believed Pellegrini would be around to try and regroup after the break.

Yaya Toure wandered around the pitch like a spoiled child and anchors like Vincent Kompnay were cranky and out of sorts.

It would seem that the Etihad counselling team worked overtime in pre-season to make sure Yaya felt cherished, though the work done by the accountants probably pleased him a lot more.

However it was done, City look much more like the Rolls Royce version we saw in Pellegini's first season.

David Silva's standards didn't drop last term and he has picked up where he left off. He dances and dips, prods and pokes and is, pound for pound, the best in the Premier League when he plays like this.

He was in the middle of Manchester City's opener, attempting to redirect Toure's tame enough shot with the back of a heel and teed up Kompany for the third. West Brom could not track him, could not tie him down.

The pace and movement was a salutary lesson for James McClean on his return to the top flight and he probably won't have to defend as much as this too often.

He had no scope whatsoever to push down the right flank and spent the first-half shuttling between the half-way line and the edge of the West Brom box, mostly with his back to goal, before being substituted at half-time.

McClean was one of two players who found themselves at the wrong end of the fans boos and for obvious reasons. It is even possible that some of his own were in the chorus in the wake of the ridiculous anthem saga.

The other getting the bird was poor Raheem Sterling. Well actually he's not poor at all and he had several million reasons to grit his teeth and keep running which he did pretty effectively last night.

It was sobering to think that Sterling has a way to go to bring the full range of his skills to play in his new shirt and Pellegrini had Sergio Aguero and Pablo Zabaleta sitting on the bench at the start, both rested after their Copa America duties. All day yesterday, the hottest internet rumour revolved around Kevin de Bruyne and a huge bid from City.

Pellegrini's new deal has provided the stability City needed and even if they do have plans to parachute Pep Guardiola in, they have a safe pair of hands in place for the moment and maybe much more than that.

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