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Man City turn on style for Sheikh

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Phil McNulty | 00:09 UK time, Tuesday, 24 August 2010


Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan may have taken two years to visit his Eastlands empire - but Manchester City ensured the wait was worthwhile as they showed an impressive return on his vast investment.

He has chosen to view his £350m outlay from afar since changing English football's landscape with his riches, but will return to Abu Dhabi pleased with the progress of his pet project if City's dismissal of abject Liverpool proves an accurate measure.

Sheikh Mansour's presence lifted spirits inside Eastlands even before a City side containing six England internationals delivered a performance fit for their affluent ruler.

And as he took the adulation of City's adoring fans, there was bitter irony for their Liverpool counterparts as they suffer the current power vacuum created by Tom Hicks and George Gillett and looked every inch the poor relations on and off the pitch.

Man City celebrate as Steven Gerrard looks dejectedMan City celebrate as Liverpool's Steven Gerrard looks dejected

Two games into a season is no time to be making definitive judgements on any team's prospects for the entire campaign, but there is no question that this was a powerful statement of intent by Roberto Mancini's side.

Manchester City still have plenty of convincing to do, as has Mancini himself, but the verve and sheer power that, in the best footballing sense, bullied Liverpool out of this game was impressive to behold.

Tougher tests will lie ahead than the one presented by a lame Liverpool, but City and Mancini can take nothing but confidence from the emphatic manner of their victory.

The fact that it was achieved with Emmanuel Adebayor and David Silva on the bench, and with Mario Balotelli missing with a knee injury, provided a graphic illustration of the resources at Mancini's disposal.

How he manages those resources could hold the key to much of City's hopes this season, but all the vital signs were good - with Mancini also deserving of praise.

At first glance, his decision to play Yaya Toure as his most advanced central midfield players looked like another example of the Italian's tactical eccentricity. But Toure, officially a very big unit, cut an imposing figure and his deft footwork in dangerous areas helped James Milner mark an impressive debut by setting up Gareth Barry's early goal.

Milner's work ethic, not to mention his ability, makes him a potentially crucial addition. The reported £26m price tag (including Stephen Ireland in a swap-deal) is excessive, but Sheikh Mansour's appreciative smile as he watched his latest gift to City's expectant supporters flourish suggested he regarded it as worthwhile.

And for Fabio Capello's right-hand man Franco Baldini, there was good news to report back to his boss ahead of the start of the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.

Adam Johnson, direct and powerful, could rival Theo Walcott for a place on England's right while goalkeeper Joe Hart demonstrated exactly why Mancini felt compelled to choose him ahead of the excellent Shay Given.

After Carlos Tevez gave City a two-goal lead, Hart produced two stops of the highest quality within seconds to prevent David Ngog and Fernando Torres throwing Liverpool a lifeline their display did not deserve.

Tevez's penalty, awarded after Martin Skrtel felled Johnson, added an extra gloss to City's performance - although the history of this club tells us it is too early to be taking anything for granted, no matter how strong the squad assembled at Eastlands.

But there was a power and cohesion about City that hinted at bright times ahead, which clearly came as a relief to Mancini as he admitted it was vital (especially for him no doubt) that his team was on their best behaviour on the night the main man was in town.

City felt so assured in the final stages there was even time for an appearance by Jo - the man Eastlands thought, some might even say hoped, it had forgotten.

For Liverpool and new manager Roy Hodgson, this was a desperate night, but he has been around too long to be plunged into despair by one defeat. If City should not be talked up as definite title contenders on the back of one win, we must not dismiss Liverpool's season on the strength of one defeat.

Liverpool's preparations were not helped by the latest episode in the long-running Javier Mascherano saga with the Argentine midfield man, according to Hodgson, "not in the right frame of mind" to play after an offer from Barcelona.

Hodgson rightly took the defiant stance that Mascherano goes nowhere unless Liverpool receive an acceptable bid, but the flip side is that it is now almost impossible to see him playing for the club again after the latest turn of events.

It is a disruption Hodgson can do without as he takes the first steps in his Anfield tenure - and his mood would not have been helped by Liverpool's performance.

Hodgson's decision to play a 4-4-2 formation was bold, but was exposed swiftly with Fernando Torres well off the pace and David Ngog peripheral. And rarely can a midfield containing Steven Gerrard have looked so flimsy in the physical exchanges as City outmuscled and outclassed them at various intervals.

The lack of creativity from Liverpool was in stark contrast to City, although Hodgson may point to the absence of the suspended Joe Cole as a contributory factor to that obvious flaw.

And Torres, who rarely slipped through the gears apart from a moment of trademark pace that left Joleon Lescott trailing, will be a greater influence the more time he spends on the pitch.

Liverpool's manager tried to apply a positive gloss to proceedings, but they were well beaten. It was a sobering evening that outlined the scale of the task that has to be undertaken by this most sensible and mature of managers. He will not be daunted but it is not something that can be achieved overnight.

Hodgson's reshaping and rejuvenation will not get under way in earnest until he has new Anfield owners to provide a stable background and serious financial support. Liverpool's hierarchy is currently in that process. The sooner the divisive Hicks and Gillett reign is brought to a close, the better it will be for Hodgson.

No such problems for Manchester City as Eastlands showed its appreciation for Sheikh Mansour. If this was the effect his presence has, he will be welcome every week.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Look at the top 4 after just 2 games. Can anyone see any other team(s) really breaking into that realm of dominance? Maybe City will drop down a place or two but that's all.

  • Comment number 2.

    Man City vs Liverpool - Man City vs Tottenham = James Milner

    But he's not worth 26 mill. Just by interest Phil do you think that Man City's spending could be justified if they buy and play mostly English players like last night? And then these players, in a latter date, could be playing with the elite in the Champions League?

  • Comment number 3.

    I don't expect anything from Liverpool this year. They haven't added in any significant way and it's looks like the top players didn't have the bottle to go else where. As for City I cannot see with the Number of players they have how anyone could manage them. What happens around Christmas when first teamers from last season start moaning about not a getting a game. AS for the rest of the league are Chelsea just going to win 6 0 every week? Nice to see you blog finally, shame it had to be about Liverpool again!

  • Comment number 4.

    What you call "tactical eccentricity" Mr McNulty is in fact one of Europe's best coaches doing his job. Something your old mucker Mark Hughes will never be called.

  • Comment number 5.

    Ha I see you have the same mod problem as last year. By the way for what it's worth, your lot finished 7th last year, and then went out and hired a manager from a team who finished below you. That doesn't show a lot of ambition to me. Excuses about who owns the club and what they are or aren't doing don't wash with me. The premier league is better off without Benetez in my honest opinion, but are Liverpool?

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    Absolutely terrible from liverpool. Looks like another season finishing about seventh or eighth. It may be easy to say but im convinced I could do a better job than Hodgson. I thought the appointment of a new manager was to change things and get rid of the deadwood thats holding us back. Its not rocket science to see that we have no wingers of any quality. WHY is that donkey of a player Dirk Kuyt still getting in our team on the wing when its clear he doesnt do anything. Witnessing his severe lack of pace and poor touch was depressing compared to Adam Johnson. Please can we sell him to Inter milan, they can have him for free for all I care I just dont want to see him on the pitch ever again. Lucas poor as always. I admit Aquilani has been a flop but mainly to the point that he ws injured all the time, from the little of him I saw last season he actually looked quite good but Hodgson has just shipped him off to Italy which I think is a shocking decision. With lucas is midfield there is no creativity at all. What Hodgson should have done is get both these players (lucas & Kuyt) in the office on his first day and tell them that they have no future here and to train with the youth team until some mugs come and take them off our hands. Unfortunately he seems to think like Benitez. I would rather have some youth kids playing than these two. Liverpools problems run much deeper than this but this is where we should start. Please buy a winger with pace and skill. Anyway well done City that is the first time I can ever remember you comprehensively outplaying us. Looks like the tide has well and truely turned. As much as it pains me to say it Gerrard and Torres should be handing in transfer requests as they are throwing there carrers away playing with some of the pony players that Hodsgon likes.

  • Comment number 8.

    As much as City exposed a poor Liverpool performance, they themselves were exposed by Tottenham last weekend - i understand you have an objective to write constructive blogs but this has no real substance and i found it a bit bland. I would have preferred more around the 6 English Internationals and the balance within the English Premiership.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    A fierce result and a good game, City's B Team could have put a couple past Liverpool last night disjointed and without cohesion......

  • Comment number 12.

    lame Liverpool, sure were and facing a big struggle ahead for the season. realisation of how poor their squad is and when the few big guns they have arent firing they looked woefully average as the rest of their team is pretty poor by their standards. just shows the legacy Benitez has built was a non existence. Their defence looks very shaky Skrtel looks a liability. carragher has no pace and will be caught out more frequently as teams will exploit him. no decent wingers, man city showed how important a set of wingers can be attacking down the flanks.

    and to man city, I think they surprised some people but they were flattered. they were clinical, and did not dominate as much as they could of done, they will struggle against direct teams away from hole, their defence is still pretty poor and hart can't save every match for them.

  • Comment number 13.

    As a United fan I hate to say it, but City played some pretty impressive foodball last night.

  • Comment number 14.

    Moderation is a joke again on here!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 15.

    As a Liverpool fan I'm disappointed with the result but things will get better. The sooner Hicks and Gillete sell the club the better!!
    Interesting to see Gareth Barry put in an excellent performance for his club when he's getting his £100k a week from them. Why does he find it so difficult to put in the same performance when he has the proud oppurtunity to do so for his country??? All he seems to care about is money. If he wasn't match fit for the world cup he should have been man enough to stand up and say so.

  • Comment number 16.

    first comment at 7:21 and still we can't read it over a hour later.

  • Comment number 17.

    Two games in and the top 4 already has a familiar look about it.

    It's going to be a long hard season for the likes of Liverpool and Aston Villa.

  • Comment number 18.

    It seems Phil has forgotten than Man City were taken to pieces by Spurs last week and were lucky to escape with a draw. Maybe the signing of Milner has saved City's season and if it has, then £26M is nothing if you win the league + euro.

    It seams Liverpool are going through a transistion phase (not helped by the taken over saga) where it will take time for the new manager to impose his ideas and get the players playing as he wants. There is no risk of a relegation battle, just a season of fustration for their supporters where they will see many one step forward and two back i.e win a couple of games and then lose an easy one against a team at the lower end of the league.

  • Comment number 19.

    Liverpool has a great history. Just because they have a great history they can't win every match and other teams should lose. They're on a decline and accept it and move on or try to improve. Give some respect to improving teams like Mancity, Villa and Birmingham. Why always focus on Liverpool. Talk about football. L'pool have spent lots of money and still they are not successfull bcs of ur manager Benitez.

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.

    There's not a huge amount wrong with Liverpool on the pitch. One or two areas could admittedly improve but the simple reality is that they cannot compete and were blown away.

    I still expect them to start getting results but realistically they can only really expect to finish 5th or 6th.

  • Comment number 22.

    Nightmare. We seem to have a manager who keeps faith with Lucas, Ngog and Kuyt, fails to make a change when we are playing despairingly bad until well after 70 minutes when we're already well beaten, and doesn't give 20 million pound players a chance (Aqua). Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I thought we'd sacked Benitez?

    City, on that performance and looking at the squad, are going to be serious title contenders and I think may even win it. Anyone who writes them off is crazy. Yaya Toure and Adam Johnson were outstanding, and Milner in fact.

    To all LFC fans who think Kuyt is good - can't you see what a difference it makes to have a winger who can cross, dribble, get shots in, run fast and effortlessly skin defenders. I am talking about Adam Johnson. Kuyt cannot do any of these things. Torres not only was unfit but was at times ridiculously greedy. Glen Johnson was hopeless, as was Jovanovic. The whole team not only looked outclasses but also failed to put in effort. No bite, desire or drive apart from the first ten minutes of the 2nd half. Gerrard was the exception. He tried his heart out and had a good game. Troubling times ahead for the club I love :(

  • Comment number 23.

    Liverpool were absolutely awful last night, and can hardly hope to be in the top four if things don't change quickly. Man City, by contrast, looked as though there was some cohesion coming in and are a real threat to Chelsea, Man Utd. and Arsenal at the top.

    Of course, spending the likes of £18 million on a player who comes off the bench for the last 5 minutes, it's hard to agree with your statement that this is much of an achievement for Mancini. What he did at Inter was far more impressive and, in truth, even Jean Tigana could do well at City!

  • Comment number 24.

    Liverpool lacked creativity . Goes to show without Torres firing they aren't a threat at all . I expect Liverpool to finish 5th this season behind Man City . As for Man City, in a year or two they will become the new Chelsea and start winning trophies .

  • Comment number 25.

    I don't know if it's worth it to send a contribution cos the mods are taking hours to read what surely must be posts of a few lines.

    Anyway, FWIW, there seems to be big trouble ahead for Liverpool. This was a ghastly performance and Benitez's legacy of filling the team with mediocrity is bearing fruit. N'Gog, Kuyt, Lucas Leiva, Jovanovic, Babel, Maxi and others should not be playing in a team that has European pretensions. Add to that the fact that Pepe Reina is in danger of becoming a circus act and Liverpool are left, like last season, with just two decent footballers. Pacheco maybe is an exception and one for the future.

    So, new owners are needed with bags of money to bring some talent in or this once famous club will become like others that wallow in mid table mediocrity without any real hope of playing in Europe.

    As for Citeh, such an amalgam of talent is bound to bring results sooner or later especially with Tevez pulling the strings. How on earth did Fergie let him go?

  • Comment number 26.

    that was a very convincing performance by city. I was impressed with the neat interplay, they looked cohesive and credit has to go to mancini for playing a team full of players from last season.

    The size of toure, lescott and richards when defending corners is frightening - liverpool had nothing to offer against them. Couple that with de jong, barry, milner and tevez and u have got a team that asks big questions of their oppositions physical abilities. Not that it was all power (as phils articles seem to imply) Adam Johnson is such a talent, he is one of the best young players to emerge for some time.

    Phil is right to add caution, it is only one game, but if they build on this performance and successfully intergrate the new stars (god know where they will play mind!) then it is certainly going to give sir alex et al something to think about.

    posted 9.42pm, tuesday 24th august...2010

  • Comment number 27.

    As a neutral, it's great to see Liverpool descend into mediocrity. The rest of still will recall that, thanks to Liverpool, English clubs were banned from European competitions for five years. Liverpool have failed to reach their heady heights from before the ban and now they have been overtaken by at least half a dozen other English clubs. Keep it up guys!

  • Comment number 28.

    Great performance from City, Mancini got his tactics spot on and it is now evident that these clubs are going in different directions.

  • Comment number 29.

    With all the preceding comments awaiting moderation I am not sure if my comment could be a repetition of some point already highlighted.

    City seem to have done everything right in their new acquisitions. Its a pity they are not able to provide enough motivation to the talented Robinho to stick with the excellent team that is shaping up at Eastlands.

    While the serendipitous arrival of Tevez last season was a major windfall Mancini had the prescience to give preeminence to Hart in the goal. He is shaping up to be pivotal. Barry and Milner are known good acquisitions who promise to live up to their respective reputations, but I find City money most well-spent on bringing in Yaya Toure. He could soon become a colossal presence in touch with th front lines. Hardworking and possessing a deft touch and feel for the tactical nuance he seems to make the vital difference in making the execution clinical as opposed to the drab and the ordinary.

    Last night's show should inspire the likes of Adebayor and Silva to be on the pitch rather than having to watch from the sidelines. The performance, if one is wise enough to know this LFC uder Hodgson are no pushover, will send some very apprehensive shivers down the spine of the mighties of the PL. As a Chelsea fan I remember they did the double over us last season, and they are City plus now. Its good to be able to temper our ambitions this early and be ready in time.

    The Sheikh went awat happy and, I am sure, comfortable in the knowledge that his money has been well spent. We can be sure of hearing more about this formative team and its denouement this season. Good to see PL standards on the up.

  • Comment number 30.

    Why play 442? Why leave Mascherano on the bench when he is still being paid? He did the job for pool during the arsenal game and don't see why an employee should not do the job he is paid to do. Why loan out aquilani when pool is so short on options? finally, don't see how a benitez team can be so comprehensively beaten, esp man for man, the two teams are quite even for the first eleven.

  • Comment number 31.

    Funnily enough, we've lost away games before.

    This result will mean nothing come May when we have reciprocated this result at Anfield.

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.

    Hi Phil,

    It is the beginning of the new season, and as every season I worked myself up at the prospects of Liverpool FC this year. The performance against Arsenal gave me hope that we are resolute and that Roy is an astute, tacticaly aware manager. This all came crashing down last night at Eastlands.


    I honestly believe that Roy got is absolutely wrong with the 4-4-2 formation. Modern teams use 4-3-3/4-5-1 which nullifies the 4-4-2 formation because the opposition always have a spare man in midfield. The posession figures show that City had most of the ball (around 65%) which means they controlled the midfield. We can point to the absence of Joe Cole as an excuse to play this formation, but I don't really buy this. We played 4-4-2 and started throwing log balls at Torres and Ngog hoping they will do something, instead of playing through the midfield and threading balls to Torres. Roy could have played Poulsen alongside Lucas, pushing Gerrard, Kuyt and Jovanovic further forward to support Torres.

    Agger at left back

    Well this was a 90 minute disaster. It was painful to watch how Adam Johnson dismantled Agger at left back. It was so bad that Jovanovic started playing as an orthodox left midfielder trying desperately to help Agger with the threat of Johnson, and that also did not work and made Jovanovic useless as a forward threat.
    I have a huge amount of respect for Agger and the potential he has, but not at left back, he is a centre back. We have re-signed Fabio Aurelio who is a left back by trade, why do we not play him. Aurelio is also an attacking left back which would have forced Johnson to do some defending and possibly made him less effective.


    It is quite clear that LFC and MCFC are going in opposite directions. LFC have actually made more money than they have spent, whereas City are buying pretty much every player that is available in the world. Unless new owners are found to propel Liverpool forward, I can honestly see LFC doing a Leeds United. No club is too big to fall.

    As far as City are concerned, I can see only good signs in them. The only worry for them is how do you keep so many big egoes happy and content with a place in the bench. However, I have them as definate top 4 finishers this year.

  • Comment number 34.


    1. Must be able to read sentence long comments (very slowly)
    2. Must be able to differentiate between comedy and offensive comments (slowly and poorly)
    3. Must respond to comments within 2 hours (occasionally)

    Come on BBC please sort this out. How are we supposed to comment and enjoy the banter these blogs generate when a comment made at 7.21AM is still awaiting moderation at 9.55AM!

  • Comment number 35.

    All new members are pre-moderated initially, which means that there will be a short delay between when you post your comment and when it appears while one of our moderators checks it.

    Could the BBC please define what a short delay is?????????

  • Comment number 36.

    If City do well with a team of English players even I, a United fan, can't begrudge them success.

  • Comment number 37.

    Seriously not a single comment has passed moderation in 2 and a half hours!! Makes topical debate kind of tricky!!

  • Comment number 38.

    Nice article Phil. I didn't see the game but it seems that the scoreline reflects what has happened.

    Do you see Man City as real contenders though Phil? Very early days for any team and you could say that a strengthened Man City, last years 5th place, beat a similar Liverpool, last years 7th place, is only to be expected.

    And what of Gerrard? Have the headline writers perhaps jumped too soon with their gushing reviews on the back of playing well for 5 minutes for England a couple of weeks ago?

    And Mascherano? Seems to be another problem that, it is sad to say, will probably end up with the player getting his own way. And maybe too late in the transfer window for Liverpool to do anything about! Why did they loan out Aquilani rather than sell him I wonder.

    p.s. Post #32 at 9.52am. Post #1 at 7.21 not moderated.

  • Comment number 39.

    Firstly, is the person that moderates the comments on a sickie? As I type 34 comments are awaiting moderation. So much for the art of debate.

    Anyhow, I think when Chelsea visit City in the near future, we will have a good idea how realistic City's title challenge will be.

    As for Liverpool the squad is just not strong enough for a full blast title offensive. The number of teams who are just as strong as them or stronger must be worrying.

  • Comment number 40.

    What happened Phil did we get our answers last night? About Benitez who carried huge blame for last season? About Hodgson who is an outstanding manager, perfect for Liverpool, up to the task and 'a breath of fresh air' that will restore their credibility? About Aquilani the redundant white elephant? And Mascherano who is overrated and should be let to go?

    Oh and of course Tevez who is just a workhorse and will not missed at OT?

    Mr Yes man of English football.

  • Comment number 41.

    40 comments awaiting moderation, scintillating debate.

  • Comment number 42.

    As a neutral watching this I just wondered how late in the day the Mascherano 'protest' came about and how much of an effect that had on team selection?

    Jovanovich looked pretty anonymous for large parts of the game - took me at least 15 minutes in the second half to realise he was the left midfielder - while I only realised Kuyt was there as he kept giving the ball away. Torres certainly still doesn't look right.

    Having said that, maybe this was a good thing in a way for Liverpool. I'm sure it will lower their expectations and make them and their fans realise how much work needs to be done and how much of a mess benitez left (no left backs, no wingers and few striking options). It might also help Hodgson secure the funds needed for the signings that are much needed.

  • Comment number 43.

    As you say Phil, definitive judgements shouldn't be based on one game, but as a City fan I don't think I've seen us so psychologically strong against Liverpool. OK, we didn't play well against Spurs, but we've picked up 4 points from the first 2 games against teams we usually drop points to. And we haven't conceded yet in 3 games, 2 of them away. Is it any coincidence Joe Hart is playing so dominantly? And this with Kolarov and Boateng, the 2 full backs brought in to shore up the weak links in our defence, out injured. I thought Yaya Toure was fantastic last night. You usually expect to see Steven Gerrard calling the shots in midfield, but he wasn't last night. They talked about Captain Platini and his lieutenants, Giresse and Tigana, last night it was Sergeant Toure and Corporals De Jong and Barry. Hoping for the feel good factor for rest of the season.

    Doesn't know when the light will appear at the end of the tunnel for Liverpool.

  • Comment number 44.

    Seems team spirit has been lifted since Bellamy went. Bellamy's a man of the people. He's so selfless on 90 grand a week.

  • Comment number 45.

    The most honourable club owner in the world, honouring his word to invest in the club.

    The most generous club owner in the history of the game investing ONE BILLION BRITISH POUND for the regeneration of East Manchester (that is twice more than what Liverpool is worth and equal to the whole value of united).

    The most noble person I have ever heard of involving players in charitable event, pledging money and effort in poor communities such as Sierra Leon and Harlem.

    We thank you Sheikh Manssor, Shokran jazellan.

    And we thank you Mr David Moores for passing on the opportunity to sell Liverpool to the Abu Dhabi Royal Family

  • Comment number 46.

    City will be very strong at home as they were last season - no great suprise. The real tests will no doubt come on the road and trying to keep such a large squad with expensive players happy just to be sitting on the bench.

    The Reds - having also played on Thursday, which will be a big distraction for them this season - were severely weakened by Mascherano's late AWOL which makes the decision to send Aquilani back to Italy seem more ill-timed. Gerrard was outnumbered four to one as a defensive midfielder (which isn't even his best suit) and they haven't yet replaced Xavi Alonso. The positives for them is that they've already played 2 of 'this' seasons 'defo' top four teams ;) The negative's that they came away with just one point and the other two are Chelski and Man-Ure. Spurs, Everton and Villa (when they sort themselves out) could also drag them down.

  • Comment number 47.


    have to agree with some of your points. kuyt is useless and you are right to think letting aquliani go on loan could turn out to be a big mistake. Hodgson seems to have forgot he was signed as a replacement for alonso, he has definately got some ability and liverpool don't have the resources to let him

  • Comment number 48.

    To be honest if Man Utd continue to play the way they did against Fulham, and Fulham continue to play like they did, United will struggle to finish fourth and Fulham will finish above Liverpool.

  • Comment number 49.

    I watched in despair last night as liverpool were simply outfought. I cant recall a 50-50 challenge the players won in the middle of the park. But as a liverpool fan, all of my anger is directed towards the owner. People calling our wingers donkeys and so on, what do you suggest?! Does it look like there is a dearth of world class wingers queueing up to join our circus show?!

    As for the mascherano and aqualani saga, I have a feeling this is being driven by the owners. Gets aqualani's wages off the books. And we reportedly turned down cash + hleb for mascherano. The more money the owners can get to line their pockets the better. Hodgeson will be lucky to see 50% of mascherano's final sale fee. Same thing happened with alonso.

    Of course, reporters dont want to actually dig up the real facts because it's much more fun to tell people we blew alonso money on aqualani. Who we only paid 5 million for on the day and then another 5 million at the end of the season.

  • Comment number 50.

    Liverpool fan here. Phil has said that Man City has a lot to prove and we should not judge them on one match. The fact is that it is a team whose second choice players (and in a few cases third choice) for any position would probably be able to walk in any team in the league (excluding Chelsea maybe). They should be able to finish 3rd or 4th easily this season just by the superiority of the squad.
    I think the starting point for a manager should be to see whether his players would be able to walk in any of the teams he is competing against, which in Liverpool's case would be Spurs, City, Everton, Villa. Lucas would not be able to walk in any of these teams and nor would be Carra or Kuyt. I know Carra is a sensitive issue for most fans but unfortunately, he makes too many mistakes and offers absolutly nothing going forward. He hoofs the ball everytime gifting possesion back to the opposition. Bottomline he is disruptive to free flowing football that we all want LFC to play and so are Lucas and Kuyt (Kuyt less than the other two).
    I was happy to see RH going with an attacking formation but i think times have changed and 4-3-3 is the way to go forward. IMHO, following formation should be used by RH:

    Johnson Skertel Agger Aurelio/New LB
    Gerrard Pachecho
    Cole Javanovich

    p.s. i agree with another poster above, loaning out Aqua was a shocking shocking decision.

  • Comment number 51.

    Good article, glad it wasn’t only me who noticed City had six Englishmen in the team.

    Good to get up and running with a win against a decent Liverpool side.
    The score line didn’t reflect the game and Liverpool wont lose that many.
    City have a lot of power, pace and defend in numbers, its early days but looking good.

    What is laughable is these Spurs fans saying how they tore City to pieces and those MOTD persons writing City off after a poor opening 30 minutes away from home with a new side and players like AJ and Barry who played 90 minutes for England two days before whilst the Spurs lads were rested.
    The game finished 0-0, thanks for the point.

    Like I said early days but both Liverpool and City wont be far off, also a good interview from Roy Hodgson, honest and intelligent.


  • Comment number 52.

    Don't think we need to over-react (yet) but to play such an open game 442 away is just suicidal. To say that we don't have the players to compete due to the previous manager is just ludicrous. The team was one position away from the league title not too long ago. The right tactics may narrow the gap between the teams. Players must play their hearts out for the club. And Mr RH, this is not fulham. Liverpool needs to control and dominate games.

  • Comment number 53.

    Liverpools Problems

    1. The Owners. Need to go as soon as possible. They have almost destroyed the club. NEW OWNERS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE IS A MUST
    2. Steven Gerrard. HE IS NOT A CENTRE MIDFIELDER! Play him off the main striker as he lacks the discipline and tactical awareness to play in centre midfield.
    3. Mascherano. If he wants to go then let him go. The transfer fee doesn't matter as we all know where any money received will be going......
    4. Full backs. Daniel Agger is not a left back. If Aurelio is not fit then play Kelly, Darby or even Carra there. Glenn Johnson is hopeless can't defend at all. Would rather see Kelly or Darby play.
    5. Torres Fitness. He needs game time. Yes it's frustrating seeing him at half pace but give him games and he will be back to his best soon.
    6. Aquilani. Needs to be sold. What's the point of loaning him? even if he has a great season in Italy, people will still be saying can he adapt to English football etc.

    The Liverpool fans must get behind the team. These are very frustrating times, but lets support the players and manager. By the way it is ridiculous to criticise Roy Hodgson after just a few games in charge working under the constraints of our current owners.

    YNWA and please please please whatever it takes SELL THE CLUB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 54.

    Not a Liverpool fan but always like to see them do well, and last night was very disappointing.

    I don't quite understand McNulty's accolades because personally I thought City were pretty ordinary which is a sad reflection on how poor Liverpool were. Johnson and Milner were very good and Tevez and Hart also but really, there's no one else to catch the eye. Can't understand all the hype about Yaya Toure, doesn't seem anything out of the ordinary.

    However, a decent ref would have disallowed the second goal. Yes, as the commentators said, Richards soared above everybody. But only because he was using the shoulders of a defender to get up there.

    In the Telegraph yesterday Alan Hansen was bemoaning the lack of young defenders and pointed to England's back 4 and said if you lost any of them who could you replace them with. Laughably, one of them was Glen Johnson. Having seen his WC performances and for the 'pool so far this season, if you lost him why would you bother to replace, you'd not notice he'd gone.

    Thankfully there were one or two signs that Torres is getting back, still can't get used to the short dark hair. But I cannot believe how poor Kuyt has become. He seems to have lost everything. I really do feel it is going to be a struggle this year. Hope I'm wrong.

    Can't understand the criticism of Hodgson. A manager can only work with what he's got and cannot change things at a stroke especially when there are no funds available.

    Liverpool fans have been hugely let down, firstly by the people who sold out to the Americans, secondly by the American owners and thirdly by Benetez. Hodgson produced a lot with very little at Fulham and should be given the time and chance to change things around.

    Few, if any, managers have ever achieved instant success and in these days of hyper wages and transfer fees it is less and less likely to happen at any club that isn't owned by a sheikh or a Russian.

  • Comment number 55.

    Now that it's established City had 6 English players, are they going to become the fav second team of all the English kids? Or is it just a good marketing ploy to raise the fanbase in England?
    In a league were teams are regularly losing 6:0 something has to be done. It's shocking to see that as a professional top level standard. A one off I understand but not 4 after just two games played. Who else is going to get a right old Tonking this season?

  • Comment number 56.

    What stikes me, is that after only two games, the top four positions match many predictions for the end of season.

    In the past, I remember a league-table only being displayed by the media after about four games.

  • Comment number 57.

    its seems to me that dirk kuyt needs to be dropped

    why doesnt he play bloody babel. give him a run of games. let him make mistakes.

    kuyt makes a million mistakes a game, dont see him getting dropped

    kuyt plays like hes never seen a football in his life.

    his first touch is poor. he passes sideways and backwards

    rarely gets a good cross in.

    am i alone in thinking this or do you all liverpool fans think he is god's gift to football.

    argh he frustrates me that such a mediocre player is plying his trade in the premier league at a top club when you have babel sitting on the bench.

    babel can do no worse than kuyt.

  • Comment number 58.

    Most overrated players, James Milner, Javier Mascerano.

    Whoever wants to put down the cash for these two will also need to have a bit of patience with them!!

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 60.

    Comparing L'pool main players to Manu and Chelsea:

    Forward: Torres, Ngog, Kuyt
    Manu: Rooney, Berbatov, Hernadez, Macheda
    Chelsea: Drogba, Anelka, Kalou, Sturridge

    Midfield: Gerrard, Lucas, Maxi, Jovanovic, Cole
    Manu: Scholes, Fletcher, Giggs, Anderson, Carrick, Park, Valencia...
    Chelsea: Mikel, Lampard, Essien, Malouda, Ramirez

    Defence: Agger, Carragher, Skrtel, Insua, Glen Johnson
    Manu: Evans, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra
    Chelsea: Alex, Terry, Bosingwa, Cole, Ivanovic, Ferrera,

    If you look at it Chelsea and Manu has depth and quality in every department and L'ppol doesnt have apart from Torres and Gerrard. Shame that Benitez spent so much money on below average players. Hodgson has got a tough job.

  • Comment number 61.

    Genuinely don't understand why people are banging on about the owners. There are 11 professionals on the pitch expected to do a job and they can't. The players have to take responsibility. If you are no good at your job you can't blame the company director.

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 63.

    32. At 09:51am on 24 Aug 2010, PulpGrape wrote:

    If not bitter burning jealousy, then what is this?

    I don’t remember reading your name between the lines on blogs when United where spending (30M plus) quid on the likes of Veron, Rio, Wayne, Berbatov, and Hargreaves.

    Awh wait a minute, I know, ticket prices have gone up so much for you now feed the glazers bank accounts, you don’t actually have the time to follow your own teams’ news, which is now days limited to United waste 2 points against FULHAM. Or it must the “funeral like atmosphere” that caused to lose interest

    Get a life, red is the colour when your club is hundreds of millions in debt

  • Comment number 64.

    As always so many people on here taking a very short-term view on things and casting judgements after one result.

    Liverpool didn't play great last night and were outmuscled by City but still managed more attempts on goal and more attempts on target than the hosts. That's at least an encouraging sign for Hodgson and this Liverpool side. Any criticism of Roy Hodgson at this stage is ridiculous as he has hardly had any time to implement his own style on the team, this will come. Arsenal and Man City as our first 2 league games were always going to be tough, even more so when so many of our squad (more than any other prem team i think) were involved in the World Cup (4 in the final).

    Once the Mascherano and ownership situations are resolved and there is stability at the club, and once Roy has had time to do what he wants with the side i think Liverpool fans will see a much more productive season than last season, Gerrard at least looks like he's found his form again and this should only inspire the rest of the team. And despite his bad start i think Joe Cole will be a huge success at Liverpool.

    By the way, it was nice to see Roy congratulate City on the win, such a refeshing change to have a manager with some grace and dignity in defeat.

  • Comment number 65.

    At 07:21am on 24 Aug 2010, Liam wrote:

    Look at the top 4 after just 2 games. Can anyone see any other team(s) really breaking into that realm of dominance? Maybe City will drop down a place or two but that's all.

    Really can't see that. City are much stronger than Arsenal who would be the clear favourites to give up a place, probably to Spurs.

  • Comment number 66.

    Well whats there to say about that Game???

    City didn't impress but passed around alot better and in defence was stronger than last season.

    Liverpool on the other hand...WOW its worse than I thought!!! Torres looked dangerous as usual when he got a sniff at goal but that is the only credit I can give. Its looking Very Very Gloomy for Liverpool. They were a mile off cities pace and it didnt seem as thou City broke a sweat.... Still early days yet...

  • Comment number 67.

    At 10:56am on 24 Aug 2010, boblincs wrote:
    '...personally I thought City were pretty ordinary'

    Mmm. You may not be a Liverpool fan, but you've certainly got something against City, haven't you (bless)? How can THAT performance possibly be described as ordinary? I don't think Liverpool (including the mighty Gerrard) won a single 50-50 ball all game. City were supremely dominant in midfield, their defence was solid throughout and they sprayed the ball from flank-to-flank with ease. I don't think many neutrals agreed with Roy Hodgson's view that 3-0 flattered City. Let me guess.... you think we're ruining football as well (yawn)...

  • Comment number 68.

    A lot of nonsense here, Liverpool wrong formation, and abad bad performance by almost the entire team.

    Citey were decent, but I think Villa ect would probably have done a number on Liverpool last night too, slow to every ball, it was a poor display and makes me even more happy that I canned my sports package, I was so angry by the poor passing vision and lack of heart. A completely apathetic performance. Again a big pointer to these way overpaid premiership players.

    Torres kicked the ball right at Hard when a fit Torres would have just sliped it under him, first save easy, he got up quick which is what you do as a keeper and the next was kicked at him, no wonder save there, poor finishing, as at spurs apart from the deflection save. Good keeper, not bettr than Given though, he's media flavour of the month, when he has an error, they'll tear stripes off the kid. I would have expected Given to just as well with what was thrown at Hart these last two games.

    Citey well worth the 3 points, Liverpool have work to do, neither side won't come even close to winning the league, City can try fourth, just hopefully it wont become a managers graveyard if Mancini doesn't get into the CL next year.

  • Comment number 69.

    The reason Liverpool looked awful last night and Man City looked so good is down to one reason and one reason only.

    This is the first time in about 6 years the players have been asked to play anything other than 4-5-1 against a half decent side. The players have been drilled for 6 years to play a certain defensive way away from home and to ask them to change formation and philosophy against a decent side like City in their first home game of the season was always going to result in a disjointed performance.

    Give the players time to adjust to the completley new way of playing under Hodgson and we will be fine. We played 4-5-1 against arsenal because torres wasnt fit and it was our first home game of the season which is why we looked good against arsenal even with 10 men and not agianst city. The players knew instinctively what to do against Arsenal with 11 men because of the formation and then certainly with 10 men becuase Benitez drilled it into them day in day out for 6 years.

    We will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season (between 4th and 6th).

  • Comment number 70.

    Astonished?! Coment removed as it broke the house rules.....

    No swearing, no predjudice just the fact the format of the debate and the quality of the writer is not good enough....

    It's disappointing that so many people who want to contribute as part of debate and can't do so effectively. This complaint is not new and clearly must be at the behest of the writer as other jouralists are happy to have posts reactively moderated, an offical complaint to the BBC is required and the readership should take action.

    There are various platforms which filter emails at a much quicker rate should you choose to proactively moderate they can be set up to take all contributions with set words and symbols in for referral

    It remains to be seen if this is removed, but clearly the groundswell of opinion is the service on this type of site isn't good enough....

  • Comment number 71.

    63. At 11:28am on 24 Aug 2010, Subsea75 wrote:

    32. At 09:51am on 24 Aug 2010, PulpGrape wrote:

    If not bitter burning jealousy, then what is this?

    I don’t remember reading your name between the lines on blogs when United where spending (30M plus) quid on the likes of Veron, Rio, Wayne, Berbatov, and Hargreaves.

    Awh wait a minute, I know, ticket prices have gone up so much for you now feed the glazers bank accounts, you don’t actually have the time to follow your own teams’ news, which is now days limited to United waste 2 points against FULHAM. Or it must the “funeral like atmosphere” that caused to lose interest

    Get a life, red is the colour when your club is hundreds of millions in debt


    Before you go spouting off your rubbish why don't you actually read my post. Did I say anywhere that I was a United fan? No. I don't support any Premier League team. You = fool.

  • Comment number 72.

    Awesome performance from MC, very rarely do you see Liverpool bossed in this way and credit to their team. Roy H clearly has his work cut out on this evidence, but they are clearly a team in transition and not many premiership teams will do this to them.

  • Comment number 73.

    Liverpool were awful and played far too narrow at times. They effectively played to Man City's strengths and didn't execute whatever their game plan was with any real enthusiasm, which makes it no surprise whatsoever that City won 3-0. Frankly, Blackpool could have popped a few past Liverpool last night, so suggesting this result is in any way impressive for City is a bit much.

    But then, this is standard behaviour for the modern pundit; 1-0 is a sign of dogged determination, 2-0 is a good strong result, 3-0 or better and you're magical. Honestly, do you even watch the games? There's no real comment here on the tactical side whatsoever, no attempt to suggest -why- Liverpool were easily beaten - do you know anything about the game at all? Or are you just too lazy to bother to write any of it?

  • Comment number 74.

    For the first time I could SEE what Man City had planned....and it worked....without milner and johnson it does not move and central mid toure looked good

  • Comment number 75.

    Bring back ROTW and QOTW!!!

  • Comment number 76.

    Here, let me do your job for you.

    City played with a strong center last night, with good width. Adam Johnson and James Milner provided that width, allowing the system to operate defensively through the middle and offensively down the flanks. Jovanovic was bemusingly dreadful after a superb performance against Arsenal, and his failure to track back into the correct position was the direct cause of one of the goals - and overall, gave Adam Johnson a freedom to play that he will rarely enjoy over the season.

    Questions must be raised as to why Hodgson was unable to communicate a match plan to his players - or as to why the team was so woefully unable to perform to the game plan. Since we can safely assume the game plan was not "go out and be rubbish", I think it's important for Liverpool to consider these issues early and thoroughly if they are to have any hope of a successful season. Since Roy Hodgson is well-known for strong organisational skills and instilling a good sense of discipline in his sides, we can safely assume that the buck here rests with the players.

    Why, then, were Liverpool unable to conform to the tactical decisions of their manager? Are the back-room staff failing to translate Hodgson's preferred system into a training regime, to enable the players to be fully prepared? Have they just not got used to the new style of training undoubtedly put in place - players and staff alike?

    If the Liverpool playing and backroom staff cannot find answers to these questions, they can expect much more embarrassing results than the one against City last night.

    On the other hand, Mancini's side showed an impressive discipline for such a hastily and recently assembled squad; Yaya Toure was unsurprisingly good in a role he has filled elsewhere in the past, and in combination with his brother and the "I will kick you" master Gareth Barry, will undoubtedly make life very hard indeed for sides which prefer to play narrow. It will be interesting to see exactly how the rest of the Premier League copes with this.

    So, can I have Phil's job, please?

  • Comment number 77.

    63. At 11:28am on 24 Aug 2010, Subsea75 wrote:
    32. At 09:51am on 24 Aug 2010, PulpGrape wrote:

    If not bitter burning jealousy, then what is this?

    I don’t remember reading your name between the lines on blogs when United where spending (30M plus) quid on the likes of Veron, Rio, Wayne, Berbatov, and Hargreaves.

    Awh wait a minute, I know, ticket prices have gone up so much for you now feed the glazers bank accounts, you don’t actually have the time to follow your own teams’ news, which is now days limited to United waste 2 points against FULHAM. Or it must the “funeral like atmosphere” that caused to lose interest

    Get a life, red is the colour when your club is hundreds of millions in debt


    And there's a man who doesn't understand the difference between spending a proportion of your revenue on transfers and being bankrolled by a sugar daddy.

    You're only not up to your eyeballs in debt pal because Abramovich wrote off your debt to the tune of £726 million, if that's not cheating or 'financial doping' as Platini and UEFA describe it then I don't know what is.

    Think of one as the self-made millionaire and the other as a chav who just won the lottery.

  • Comment number 78.

    @65, who said - "City are much stronger than Arsenal who would be the clear favourites to give up a place, probably to Spurs."

    This doesn't make any sense. Spurs finished in the top four last season, in case you didn't notice! If Arsenal give up a place to Spurs, Spurs would finish third and Arsenal fourth - unless you're suggesting City will finish fourth and Arsenal fifth. Too early to say that, I feel, but to be honest with you I'd be tremendously surprised if Arsenal don't challenge for the title this year.

    We cannot judge City or Arsenal by their performances against a highly unstable Liverpool - the Liverpool that played Arsenal was a totally different side to the one that played City.

    Arsenal will be up there. City will, I feel, struggle for form over the entirety of the season. Maybe next year they will be a genuine threat, after their squad has fully gelled.

  • Comment number 79.

    Middle of the road blog - City to challenge Arsenal for 3rd this year. Liverpool and Spurs to fight it out for 5th and 6th I reckon..

    One point Adam Johnson is a far better prospect and player than Walcott and has already demonstrated this with consistent performances for Boro and City. This is not the case for Walcott whohas had 1 excellent game for England, 1 for Arsenal (against Blackpool) and the odd cameo. Not even close who will be England regular in years to come

  • Comment number 80.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 81.

    What no-one seems to have noticed is what a poor game it was. Lots of huff & puff but, apart from Adam Johnson at times, no skill, flair or invention at all. Same goes for the Spurs/City and Liverpool/Arsenal games. Result: yet again, anyone who wants to see some decent football this season needs to look beyond the Prem.

  • Comment number 82.

    Oh so the boss is in town, better produce hadn't we ?

    For City, they and Arsenal will be competing for the consolation prize, i.e not having to pre qualify for next years CL

    The Premier League remains a 2 horse bore, can you remember the last time there were 4 x 6-0 results in the opening 20 fixtures ?

    Goals dont add up to quality but hey we are back in the land of the Premiership, the land of hype.

    As we have followed Scotland in becoming a 2 horse race (and before non followers of Chelsea and Man U argue they are becoming competitive, as with previous seasons its all bluster and no substance at the end)

    Arsenal are not good enough at the back, and still cant overcome the physical teams often enough

    Man City. Last week, AWAY from home, you were dire, come back in February, at the squeaky bum time, and see if you have created a team.

    Anyway, why dont we do as Gartside of Bolton suggested, have a Premiership 2 but with a difference, Premiership 2 would be the bottom 10 teams leaving the top 10 teams to play each other 4 times. 36 games.

    Mind, on that basis, Merseyside once the bastion of English football would be teetering with relegation then. Liverpool, I am afraid are still falling.

  • Comment number 83.

    I really don't know why any of us bother to post on this blog year after year. The moderation process is so ridiculous and eliminates any possibility of a debate amongst members.

  • Comment number 84.

    We will see over the next few months if all the money city spent is worth it. Based on last night performance city do have good chance to win premier league if they play like this in every match!

    But due to high competition for starting places in first team XI, I expect some fighting and annoyed players that they are not playing a lot of matches. This has already started for the goalkeeper, Hart and Given are fighting for starting in each match

    But I still expect Chelsea or Manchester United to win Premier League this season! I expect Liverpool to finish 5th or 6th this season

  • Comment number 85.

    Arab Billions vs American Debt
    How the world has changed
    This was an abject display by Liverpool..and I don't see them getting any better...switched off the TV after 29mins..preferred getting updates by texts.. I don't see a way out for Liverpool, we need to be in the champions league to attract the best players and the required investments..but its gonna take a miracle for that to happen..
    So what we are looking at is the new Liverpool...never gonna be relegated..but never gonna make the champions league or even win the premiership....sadddddd

  • Comment number 86.

    Liverpool Football Club were well beaten in whatever language you speak. There was no visible claim to any of the usual excuses that managers give. Let us accept that LFC has played 2 and won none, and move on to the next match. The only danger is that if by early October LFC are out of the running then the feared exodus of whatever little talent there is will become a reality. On the issue of Mr. Cole I would advise that we exercise caution if we are to rely on a free agent for salvation. Anybody remember Veronin? or some such character.

  • Comment number 87.

    Errm, well if you play the same team Rafa did you get the same result ..Early days however, but i think Roy ought to be thinking of what changes he can make and soon.
    A few youngster's joining the fray might be in order i prefer that than see us lose without trying anything ?

  • Comment number 88.

    The football discussions of old are nullified by the fundamental fact that money dictates success in the PL. Last night, a team that has invetsed hundreds of millions in the last 2 or 3 seasons beat a team that has had money sucked out of it for the last 3 seasons. It is getting more an more rare that a poor relation beats a wealthier relation. We may as well dispense with club names and just refer to teams by the cost of their respective squads.
    Manu were the richest club, spent millions and dominated. Then Chelsea got a sugar daddy, spent even more than Manu and then dominated. Spurs have spent tens of millions in the last 3 seasons and managed to break into the top 4. City now have the richest sugar daddy who has lavished on the squad and it is inevitable that they, if they continue to outspend everyone else, will become the new dominate force in the PL. How interesting. What an exciting landscape football has become.
    All other discussion is just noise these days. Tactics, match-ups between players on different sides, it's become meaningless as the richest teams are so much further ahead of the rest that it is a non-contest.
    The big guns win 6:0 each week. Great. Soon, the only games that will have any relevance will be City v Che and Che v City. Yeah, what a great league the PL has become.

  • Comment number 89.

    @65 you can't seriously mean that? Arsenal will comfortably finish in the Top 4 like they have every season for the last 14 seasons (minus one final day food poisoning incident when it wasn't so clear cut).I never understand why there is always so much talk about Arsenal not staying in the Top 4 - other than two transitionary seasons after Vieira left (the two consecutive 4th places) they have always sat comfortably inside the top 4. If City do manage to break it this year it will undoubtedly be at the expense of a Spurs side unable to compete in both the Premier League and Champions League (if they make it) - especially with the impact of the new smaller squads ruling.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 90.

    Lets face it, all those dismissing City saying its early days just cant face up to the truth. This is the same team that pushed hard for 4th last season, and who knows, had they not had that too many draws under Hughes where they would be right now. I am an Arsenal fan, and sincerely hope we win something this season, but with a City team like this one I am afraid we may be forced to wait that little bit longer.

    This is a side that was missing Balotelli, Adebayor and Silva, (that’s something like Utd missing Rooney, Berbatov and Valencia; or Chelsea missing Drogba, Anelka and Malouda; or Arsenal missing Fabregas, RvP, and Arshavin). But the way they brushed aside a full strength Liverpool ought to be taken seriously. Goodness knows why Ferguson let Tevez leave, that’s got to go down as one of his biggest managerial mistakes if he were to be honest. This guy's work rate is phenomenal, and you just can’t seem to keep him quite.

    Also I quite can’t understand the doubts and flak City still take from the media despite boasting 7 full England internationals in their starting line-up(inc SWP), show me another top 4 side that matches that. In Yaya Toure, Barry, Milner, de Jong, Johnson and Viera, City, they have arguably the best midfield in the country, and this is where games are lost and won. The physical presence of these guys just can’t be matched it’s hard to imagine them being silenced anywhere up and down the country, starting with Liverpool yesterday. I am just being realistic. At Arsenal we have more flair but many times when we have come up against big sides we have been found wanting and I would like to imagine this will be true for most teams when they face this City side - a side that has Tevez as one of the smallest guy in its line up is scary. I also don’t understand how City was outclassed at Spurs, it was a game of two halves honestly, and besides, City didn’t lose so that should end the argument.

    I can see a Mourinho-style-Chelsea era being ushered in at City, and that can only be bad news for the top 4 balance and aspirations. This was by far one of the best games I have watched in a while involving the so-called top 4 contenders. I am afraid Liverpool seems to be going backwards instead of forwards at the moment.

  • Comment number 91.

    I wonder if anyone can enlighten me on why Mancini has made Tevez captain in the last two games even though he doesn´t speak English. He also took him off near the end in both games.

    I was also surprised to hear Alex Ferguson complaining that Nani and not Giggs took the (missed) penalty against Fulham. Don´t teams have a ranking of "dedicated" penalty takers?

    Any help would be appreciated.

  • Comment number 92.

    @ 70 and 83,


    Why can we post straight away on Tim Vickery's blog but not this one??!!

  • Comment number 93.

    Glad to see you back Phil, after nothing the first weekend of the season I thought you may have given up!

    Apparently though there is still a massive audience for articles full of hyperbowl, sly digs, praise of mates and with no origonal content!

    I for one, despite being a UTD fan, am sick to death of hearing about City's spending! We all know they are loaded Phil, we all know they have spent a ton of it, we don't need to be reminded about it constantly! What I care about is the football on the pitch! And it seems you watched a different game than everyone but the most deluded of fans. It was a poor game, with no fluency, poor ball control and poor passing on both sides, lit up by some pieces of individual skill on the counter attack.

    The fact is City can't sit back all season and play the counter, they'll drop too many points and get too many draws, just like liverpool last season! So while like last season they may get some big scalps, they matter not a jot, what really matters, what's always mattered, what wins you the title, or gets you in the CL, is the games against the teams not going for the champions league. We have yet to see how City play against such teams, but that of course has never stopped you writing a load of rubbish before, and I doubt it will again!

  • Comment number 94.

    Still waiting an hour or so for moderation. Yawn..

  • Comment number 95.

    I think Steven G must reserve his energy where it can be counted most, the final third as opposed to running like a headless chicken all over the pitch. All great players past and present are ruthless where they have an advantage, for example Ronaldinho at his prime never bothered to track back but instead chose to wait for the ball to come to him and terrorised defender. I dont even recall Messi deep in his own half when they played Sevilla but was the toast of the day scoring most goals for Barca. The sooner the English realize that the better for the country that you need to work smart not hard to be exceptional.

  • Comment number 96.

    Congratulations to the BBC. Moderation times appear to be down to just an hour after you place your post, rather than the two and a half hours earlier........

    Come on BBC sort this out! How about reactive moderation like on the other Blogs?

  • Comment number 97.

    @88 Modulox

    Sadly you have just perfectly summed up the English game. It has been killed by Money and Greed.

  • Comment number 98.

    Hello everyone...welcome back to the new season. Good to hear from so many of you again so soon.

    Very interesting game to start my own Premier League season with last night - so let's go through a few points made.

    To would certainly benefit England and Fabio Capello to have more English players playing in the Champions League - and Roberto Mancini was very keen to get the point across about how many players from England were in his starting line-up.

    collie21...hello to you. I think Benitez had to go and of course only time will tell if Liverpool are better off without him. In Hodgson's defence, I think he is almost mounting a holding operation until new owners are in place. They cannot come quickly enough for Liverpool, but as I said in the blog, we should not rush to judgement after one loss.

    To davy_p_82...Agree with you re. Kuyt. Thought he was very poor. And while Agger had a tough time against Adam Johnson, but he got little or no assistance from Jovanovic - but be reasonable, give Hodgson time to put his stamp on things.

    Some interesting comments about the current top four. Has a pattern really been set after only two games?

    To bobbieflowers...very optimistic about City and who can blame you after last night? I was so impressed by their physical strength, with Yaya Toure and Micah Richards simply brushing Liverpool players away on so many occasions.

    City's midfield had a nice look to it, with Milner and Johnson out wide and Barry, De Jong and Toure providing plenty of options in the middle.

    Add players such as Adebayor and Silva on the bench and are you thinking the previously unthinkable? Can you seriously challenge for the title this season?

    I still remain to be convinced, but last night was impressive.

    Liverpool fans...what is your reaction to the Javier Mascherano saga? It is hard to see how he can play for the club again, and yet it appears Barcelona's offer falls well short of what Liverpool want. It is a tough situation for the club and manager.

    I got into trouble with some Liverpool fans for describing him as over-rated recently, but the debate has moved on now. I feel he let Liverpool and Roy Hodgson down "not being in the right frame of mind" to wear the red shirt.

    I suspect that will cut no ice with Liverpool's supporters - and nor should it. All this after he was warmly greeted at Anfield against Arsenal, despite another summer of agitating.

    And finally on Liverpool fans, when you saw Sheikh Mansour taking the acclaim from Eastlands, did you wonder how your club missed him when they were searching for a buyer four years or so ago? And why do you think he seemingly showed no interest in buying a club of Liverpool's stature?

    And a very important point to Xavierneville...I have no say over which posts are moderated or removed and have never once asked for a post that has been critical of myself to be removed unless it has been libellous, either to me or someone else. I do not get involved, although I have raised the point about the speed of moderation for those who are concerned. Hopefully this will be sorted to your satisfaction.

  • Comment number 99.

    Changing of the guard? Just shows that the most important men at any club are now those on the business side. If Liverpool can't get that right then they'll struggle to break back into the the top 4, and the longer they're gone, the more difficult it is to get back up there.

    Man City title contenders? With an English goalkeeper? What is the world coming to?

  • Comment number 100.

    @93. At 1:32pm on 24 Aug 2010, laughingdevil
    u r a bitter man united fan!

    the city is ours! accept the fact that we are on the up and you are on the down!


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