Saturday, August 15, 2009

Blackburn review

Perhaps not the performance many were expecting then.

Whilst three points were anticipated ahead of the game, to take the points with a performance that married grit, determination and tenacity. A 2-0 away victory at Blackburn is precisely the type of result needed if we are to have ambition this season. And precisely the type of result we failed to achieve during 2008/09.

Mark Hughes sprang a surprise with both team and formation. Opting for appeared a traditional 4-4-2 line-up, this saw Nigel de Jong on the bench, Bellamy partnering Emmanuele Adebayor up front, which saw Robinho in a left midfield role. In defence, Richards got the nod over Zabaleta and Dunne preferred to Onouha alongside Kolo Toure.

Blackburn's main threat game (unsurprisingly) from direct balls and set pieces into the box. At times this caused us problems, with Given flapping on occasion, but the presence of Toure was an important one. He added a calmness and composure at the back desperately needed. A partnership with Joleon Lescott could well be a very good one.

Whilst under pressure at the back at times, by and large we controlled the game. Going ahead so early was a bonus, but this in itself presents problems. However, our pace and approach to the game was impressive. We showed a tenacity and desire Hughes could only have dreamed of last season.

It is also worth noting the players who were not even required today. The strength of squad and calibre available to Hughes this season could well be telling over the course of a long league season.

Both goals were indicative of the type of play we will rely on. The first saw Adebayor start and finish the move. Impressive in picking the ball up deep, he released Wright-Phillips and joined in the attack to provide a quality finish to put us 1-0 ahead. For those critical of the money we have spent in attack this summer, this was precisely why we added so much. The second again was a moment of quality. Stephen Ireland, player of the season in 2008/09, showing composure and calmness to put the game beyond Blackburn's reach in injury time.

Not a perfect start, but one that was required - both in terms of result and performance. Things to work on doubt, but certainly plenty to be pleased with - and with the promise of much more to come.

The good

The intensity that was evident in today's display would be the thing Hughes will be most pleased with. A strong all-round display with the debutants all impressing today.

The bad

Robinho isolated in left-midfield. Petrov would have been a better option and the fear is Robinho could be marginalised depending on Hughes's tactics over the season.

The ugly

Hughes's slip at the end of the game during the post-match handshake with Sam Allardyce. Classy.

vote it up!

1 comment:

Daniel said...

Aside from the desperate defending, the only thing that worried me was that we left it so late before we finished them off.

No one's gonna be talking about the Hughes-Allardyce handshake next week. It was hardly worth mentioning.

The only ones expecting a more emphatic result were those who don't know sheet about City - the neutrals, bandwagoners, etc.

Excellent result! One away win and we're halfway to our total last year!