On Saturday evening, Pep Guardiola took charge of his first competitive match as Manchester City’s manager.
I had been looking forward to this game since February 1st when it was announced Pep Guardiola would be taking over at the Etihad.
Manchester City started brightly, winning a penalty within 4 minutes after a clumsy challenge on Raheem Sterling by Patrick Van Aanholt gave Sergio Aguero the chance to give Manchester City the lead. Which he did in true Aguero style.
Manchester City had Sunderland on the ropes, a combination of slick passing and excellent ball retention made it look like it was going be a whitewash. However, as the game went on, it appeared the Manchester City players were happy just to pass and retain the ball without finishing the job. They lacked the killer instinct we would normally see from a Guardiola side.
Throughout the game, the Manchester City defenders brought the ball forward and played an attack- minded style. This left space at the back, which meant when Sunderland finally got the ball forward they looked dangerous.
Sunderland equalised through Jermain Defoe, a beautiful through ball from Jack Rodwell and a Jon Stones defensive misjudgement left Defoe with space and time to finish from inside the box.
Even after Sunderland equalised, you didn’t see the Man City players react and try to push for a winner they seemed content with a draw.
Manchester City did grab a late winner from a Paddy Mcnair own goal, however, this came from the only quality passage of play we saw from Man City in the 20 minutes following Defoe’s equaliser. A lovely low cross into the six-yard box by Jesus Navas gave Mcnair no chance to stop the ball hitting him and giving Manchester City the lead late on.
I watched Manchester United’s game at Bournemouth. They did struggle to get a hold of the game in the first half, however, after an unfortunate defensive mistake, they took the lead just before the break.
After the break, Manchester United dominated and by the 65th minute had killed the game, thanks to goals from Rooney & Ibrahimovic.
This ruthlessness is what Manchester City lacked on Saturday evening. When they had the chance to kill the game, they failed to produce any quality and this nearly cost them the three points.
If the Manchester City players play like they did on Saturday against any of the top sides in the division they will get punished. Any striker with pace will have a field day with space in behind the City defence.
However, it is only the first game of the season and it will take time for Guardiola’s philosophy to catch on at Manchester City. There were some positives, Raheem Sterling had the best performance I have seen from him in a Manchester City shirt. Fernandinho and Kolarov both look different players from what I saw last season.
Also, Manchester City did pick up the win, which is definitely the most important stat from the game.