Jesus (not the player) it has been a while since I last blogged here. Client work and chasing potential clients is a bit of a time consumer. So I haven’t been blogging religiously like I had been a few months before – never mind talking about my shambolic football club, the even more shambolic Tory government, President agent orange aka ‘the tyrant’ or the general state of the world. But there is something that has given me a lot of pleasure over the past few months: the exquisite football being played by Manchester City.
It feels like eons since a premier league team has looked as good as this, and oh my aren’t they just scintillating. This could be the best team from these shores since Fergie’s last great Manchester United team of 10 years ago, with Rooney, Ronaldo, and Ferdinand in their pomp. I was lucky to see that United team at their best when they came to Arsenal in the Champions League Semi-final and sliced them open at will. The score was 3-1 but it really could have been more. I applauded Ronaldo’s second goal; an unbelievable breakaway involving Rooney and Park Ji Sung (he always played well against us).
Last Sunday I saw a team of similar stature do the same. City were probably playing at 70% of their potential and it really should have been 5 or 6, if not for some wasteful finishing. De Bruyne is magnificent and seems to be excelling in playing a deeper role – very akin to Gerrard in his buccaneering Liverpool days. They also break with ferocious speed as their neighbors did a decade ago. Sterling, Sane, Aguero and Jesus cause havoc with their pace and movement, which allows the creative geniuses of Silva and KDB to dictate the play from the centre.
And of course, there is Fernandinho. Look at every great team over the years – they have all been blessed with a ‘water carrier’. Chelsea had it with Makelele (and now with Kante). Arsenal had the immense Petit and later the underrated but vital Gilberto Silva. Man United have also benefitted from the steadying calmness of Michael Carrick for well over a decade. Guardiola’s midfield lynchpin is the glue that holds everything together. His reading of the game is exceptional and he delivers fantastic long passes to more advanced attackers.
City’s previously maligned defense is now much more tight-knit. The additions of Ederson in goal and the irrepressible Walker at right-back have added much-needed solidity in previous problem positions. Before his nasty injury, Mendy was proving to be an excellent addition and looked like a real ‘bulldozing’ left wing back. Incredible to think that this absence hasn’t affected the team, with Fabian Delph, a midfielder, proving to be an admirable deputy.
Make no mistake this team will be champions and comfortably. But, this isn’t the extent of their ambitions. Man City are capable of winning multiple trophies. Such is the depth of their squad, that players of the calibre of Ilkay Gundogan, 45 million pounds signing Bernardo Silva and club legend Yaya Toure are often ‘kicking their heels’ on the bench. That is squad depth that cannot be matched in the premier league and by very few in Europe for that matter.
This is a team that will be gunning for Champions League glory and with a manager who has won it twice, it wouldn’t overly shock me if they were to win domestically and in Europe – that’s how good this team is. Of course, it would be foolish to predict the Champions League winner so early on. Yes, the usual suspects Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern, and Juventus haven’t been as convincing, but they are experienced enough to get to the latter stages. Any of these sides would provide a stern test for Pep’s side. As would PSG, the other form team of the continent. Built on a similar bottomless pit of gulf money the Parisians boost a formidable front three of Cavani, Mbappe, and the worlds most expensive player Neymar. They also have an excellent spine containing experienced Brazillian defenders Thiago Silva and Dani Alves and the fantastic midfield general Marco Veratti. Not to mention they have an embarrassment of riches on the bench including Angel di Maria, Lucas Moura, and Julian Draxler if things get difficult. Could they face City in the latter stages – or even in the final? It would be amazing to watch.
Whatever happens this season I expect fully ‘Blue Moon’ to be sung a few times come next May. I can only look on enviously. It’s an exciting time to be a City fan.
Image credit: Metro