- Manchester City ruthless in win over Liverpool with less shots but more on target and more goals
- Stevan Jovetic and Sergio Aguero goals example of why City are Premier League title favourites
- City directors Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain seeing Barcelona dream come to life
- Pep Guardiola glory days at Barca the model for Soriano and Begiristain to achieve at City
As Manchester City demolished Liverpool 3-1 at the Etihad on Monday night, many would think Stevan Jovetic, Sergio Aguero or even Manuel Pellegrini would be the main winners from the game.
Sure, Jovetic was phenomenal and Aguero scintillating, while Pellegrini had his team and his tactics absolutely spot on.
But the real winners on the night were City’s CEO Ferran Soriano and Director of Football Txiki Begiristain.
For at last, confirmation that the duo’s vision – of recreating the Pep Guardiola glory days at FC Barcelona – can become a distinctive reality at Manchester City.
Against a Liverpool team tipped for title contention, City were remarkably ruthless – three mistakes, three goals.
Each time the Reds slipped up, City pounced. The movement, the passing, and crucially, the understanding between teammates, was all there.
Jovetic’s first goal came through Alberto Moreno’s mistake more than anything, but his second was pure teamwork – the kind of move usually done over and over by the same group of players in training.
From David Silva’s touch back to Yaya Toure, to his give-and-go with Samir Nasri, to Nasri’s give-and-go with Silva again, to Silva’s ball into Jovetic (who’s probably been left out in training games before but now decides he wants to play as well) and Jovetic’s flick on for Nasri who finally gets the ball he was waiting for, the patient play at last came together and the chance was soon to be created.
Nasri then guided it to the area where Jovetic usually makes his runs, and voila – the goal.
Of course he ball is helped on its way into the net by Liverpool’s defending, especially when left-back Moreno stepped out of the defensive line to close down Yaya Toure out on the wing, leaving the not-so-defensively-minded Philippe Coutinho to fill the hole in defence.
A ball into Nasri later – given space thanks to Dejan Lovren stepping out of position for no reason – and with Jordan Henderson ball-watching instead of picking up Jovetic, City get a well-worked goal helped by clueless, Manchester United-esque defending.
Then there’s the third goal by Aguero, forged by an understanding with Jesus Navas and a knowledge that the winger will read his run and play the ball just ahead of the covering centre-back.
That goal defines how well this Manchester City team has gelled together. Aguero was on the pitch just 22 seconds by the time he found the net.
For Aguero to score from open play like that immediately after coming on takes excellent understanding of how his teammates work.
And now that intrinsic knowledge of how their teammates play could see Manchester City make their directors’ Barcelona dream a reality.
The stellar understanding between the Barca team of Pep Guardiola was the main factor that allowed his tiki-taka to become so dominant and win two Champions League titles.
Soriano and Begiristain came to City determined to recreate the Camp Nou glory days at the Etihad.
In hiring Pellegrini, they have a man who can realise their vision.
A 2013/14 season which yielded a Premier League and League Cup double was a great start, but it was just the beginning of the five-year cycle.
Last season, it was about polishing the squad, and then adapting it to playing more attractive football with a clockwork understanding.
Now is the season Manchester City are meant to dominate. The team has well and truly gelled, and the City juggernaut is finally scheduled to get rolling.
The beating of Liverpool and the teamwork that went into it gave Soriano and Begiristain the confirmation they clearly wanted – that their hard work and many hours put into this project are going to pay off.
Last season was no flash in the pan. Manchester City have proved again they are the top dogs in the Premier League, and that they’re going to keep it that way.