Manchester City have one foot on the group stages of the Champions League after Pep’s boys smashed Romanian side Steaua Bucharest 5-0 in the 1st leg of the qualifiers. The Romanian side, who were surprisingly upbeat and a tad arrogant in the build-up to the match were given a reality check as the profligate nature of City’s attackers gave the scoreline a realistic look. With the number of clear-cut chances on offer last night, a double figure score would not have been surprising.
With the win, City have finally got the nagging issue of the all-important qualifier which had the potential to be a banana skin for them out of the way and can now focus on the season proper. There were lots of positives for Pep from last night which would have given him encouragement in the massive tactical renaissance he is implementing but there were a couple of issues that need to be ironed out as well.
STERLING SET FOR A MASSIVE SEASON
Over the summer much of the English media had a simple routine. Wake up. Go to office. Bash Sterling. Have Beer. Back home and Sleep. And what Sterling needed was a strong support system and what better than the backing of one of the best managers in the world. Guardiola endorsed him privately and publicly and offered strong words of encouragement and assurance. It was believed Sterling was brought in for such a massive fee with the arrival of Pep kept in mind and if the early signs are anything to go by, the ploy is working nicely.
AGUERO PRICELESS BUT CITY MIGHT HAVE TO PAY THE PRICE
Sergio Aguero had a roller-coaster evening in Romania. He bagged a hat-trick and was on a brink of another hattrick as he missed two penalties in the first 21 minutes. Aguero has begun from where he left off last season and seems to be banging in goals for fun as he tries to banish the Copa America demons from his mind.
He has scored in all his appearances in a City shirt this season. And his presence will be a massive factor this season. But his penalty woes in Europe cannot be overlooked. He has now missed 4 out of his 5 penalties in the Champions League and rest assured he won’t get a chance to score a hattrick every match once the tournament proper starts. City need to solve their penalty conundrum as another penalty miss could go a long way in determining the course of their season.
KOLAROV UNLIKELY GO-TO MAN FOR PEP
Kolarov was one of the players touted for a certain exit from the club this season. With his lack of pace and his defensive errors on the by-line a recurring issue, it was believed Pep would go for a more youthful and technically adept full-back to challenge Clichy for a spot in the team. But in an unlikely turn of events, Kolarov has been an ever-present fixture in the Catalan’s teamsheet thus far.
Pep loves challenges and it seems Kolarov has been selected for a special tactical manoeuvre. He has been the preferred left-footed central defender and even after the return of Otamendi has kept his spot at left-back in the team. It seems he will be the go-to man for Pep, who lauded the Serbian’s display in the match against Sunderland as ‘’one of the finest defensive performance he had seen in his life’!