Wednesday, 21 September 2011

LEAGUE CUP CAMPAIGN

September 21st 2011 and Manchester City start their League cup campaign against Championship side, but current cup holders, Birmingham City. I thought long and hard about whether i should go to this game or not on a cold wet Wednesday Night but in the end i decided to attend. I got there early because i was unable to buy my ticket over the phone due to complications, so i went down to the ground in good time so i didn't have to queue so much. After purchasing my ticket i then killed a bit of time with a Macdonalds and a wander around Asda before returning to the ground just in time to see the team arrive, and it was a much changed team that exited the coach.

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Pantilimon, the big Romanian goalkeeper bought in August would make his debut in goal. The back four was Onuoha getting his first start since returning from loan at Sunderland last season, Savic and Kolo Toure making his return to the side after his 6 month drugs ban and Champions League hero Kolarov. Youngster Razak got a start in midfield along side Owen Hargreaves making his City debut. Hargreaves was picked up on a free transfer after he was released by Manchester United at the end of last season due to his lack of games for them through constant injury. He had worked hard to regain his fitness over the summer and became a shock transfer day deadline purchase for the blues. The front 4 was a strange one. Full backs Zabaletta and forgotten man Wayne Bridge would act as wingers and Tevez and Balotelli were the strikers. So a squad of debuts and returning players but the most pleasing return was the sound of Supra's version of blue moon belting out rather than the weak Beady eye version they had opted to play for the first 2 home games.



The game started and in all honestly Birmingham didn't really offer much in the first half, City had a lot of the ball and passed it around for fun. Razak and Hargreaves seemed to have more touches of the ball as anyone as they ran midfield. It was good to see Hargreaves back on a football pitch, because when fit, there is no doubting his quality, but his fitness had been the problem. It wasn't long though until his quality shone through, when he picked up the ball on the edge of the area and fired in an unstoppable shot into the Brum net for the opening goal on 17 minutes. He looked like he really enjoyed it to, and this prompted a chorus of "Fergie fergie, sign him up" from the city faithful. Mario, who was getting some much needed game time, made it 2-0 in the 37th minute and pretty much put the game to bed.



The second half was Man City just going through the motions really and there wasn't really much to write home about. Hargreaves left the pitch to a good ovation to be replaced by Milner on 57 minutes. A fantastic debut and a good 57 minutes to get under his belt for Hargreaves. Rekik made his City debut on 80 minutes, replacing Bridge and slotting in at left back, meaning Kolarov played the last 10 minutes as a winger, and then on 87 minutes, another debut, this time for Italian youngster Scapuzzi, replacing Razak who was struggling with what looked like cramp. Tevez should have made it 3 near the end when he was through one on one with the brum keeper, but the keeper made a good save, first stopping Tevez's attempt and then Stopping Toure's follow up attempt.



The final whistle came and the FA cup holders had knocked the League cup holders out and were in the draw for the 4th round, something we didn't manage to do last season as we went out to WBA at this stage. The season before had seen us reach the semi final and go out to United, but after last seasons tastes of Wembley, maybe this season we'd want this a bit more ? Be nice to see if we had enough in our reserves to take us on a nice League cup run this year, but that remains to be seen. Else where, our opponents for the coming Saturday, Everton, had to go into extra time, with many of their first team players having to play, so maybe when we meet our bogey team this weekend, they will have tired legs while Mancini will be able to field a completely rested team. Good to have a big, quality squad at last.

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