Belfast Telegraph

Real Deal City can win big

By Steven Beacom

Two games, seven goals, six points. Title contenders? You bet. Manchester City already look like the real deal this season.

And glory be, they are even fun to watch.

Hear this Manchester United. Your noisy neighbours have a lot to shout about at the moment.

Following their 4-0 victory over Swansea last Monday, there was great excitement about the dynamic debut of Sergio Aguero, but understandably doubts remained over City's ability to push United all the way in the title race.

After all, in their opening match City were at home and up against a newly promoted side whose open style gives quality opposition players freedom to shine.

Yesterday, they were at Bolton, confident after winning 4-0 at QPR the previous week and capable of mixing it physically as well as playing attractive football.

It was a tough test of City's credentials, but they came through it earning a highly entertaining 3-2 victory at the Reebok Stadium.

Roberto Mancini's side scored through the excellent David Silva, Gareth Barry and Edin Dzeko.

If £38 million summer signing Aguero had been on his game, as he was against Swansea, they could have had a few more, easing the tension amongst City supporters that arose when Ivan Klasnic and Kevin Davies netted for a never-say-die Bolton outfit.

Since Mancini's arrival in Manchester, his mantra has been all about solidity and strength.

Those qualities helped City to success in the FA Cup last season, but they were about as compelling to watch as an episode of Coronation Street these days.

Carlos Tevez showed some flashes of brilliance, but the manager's tactics were often more negative than positive, rarely giving the sublime Silva the opportunity to show his true colours.

And boy, are they bright!

Thankfully like a strutting peacock, he's now being allowed to display all that artistry and City are feeling the benefit.

Over the years many football fans have had a soft spot for City and their long suffering, loyal supporters. Once Sheikh Mansour bought the club, however, and started ploughing billions into recruiting new players and paying their outrageous wages, things have changed with those genuine feelings of respect declining at a rapid rate.

Call it jealously, envy, whatever, but in many ways City have become the new Chelsea.

It hasn't helped that their football has been duller than dishwater.

Until now that is, which might just bring a few people back on their side.

City were slick going forward at Bolton, looking dangerous with every attack.

Silva unlocked the door on 26 minutes with a shot from outside the box which swerved, but still should not have beaten experienced goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.

The Bolton number one could do little about the second 11 minutes later though when the visitors went into overdrive with Barry smashing home a left foot piledriver from James Milner's crafty corner.

Lesser teams would have gone under, but Bolton, courtesy of a brilliant 39th minute left foot finish from Klasnic after Martin Petrov's clever cross got back into a game, which their fans thought was over for them.

It should have been at the break, but Aguero, on from the start, following his supersub show versus Swansea, missed two sitters.

At least strike partner Dzeko had brought his shooting boots, firing home moments into the second-half after a lapse of concentration from Zat Knight.

City were in cruise control, looking sure to score more, but again Owen Coyle's men hit back, with Davies climbing above the City defence to head home on 63 minutes.

Instead of shutting up shop, what a pleasure it was to witness City continue to pile forward in search of goal number four. With Tevez and Adam Johnson on from the bench, they nearly managed it.

Making his 68th minute entrance Tevez received a mighty cheer from the City faithful, who feared his time was up at the club.

I guess if Wayne Rooney can return, play and be hero worshipped at United after demanding to leave Old Trafford, then Tevez can do it at City.

The blue half of Manchester are top of the table. Whether they are there in May remains to be seen, but if City play like this every week, they'll be a joy to watch.

Belfast Telegraph


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