New-look Man City show real potential to beat Valencia
Manchester: Manchester City’s 2-0 convincing win over Valencia on a balmy summer’s night at Eastlands on Saturday was not so much a pre-season friendly, more of a glimpse into the future.
The scoreline was largely irrelevant for the crowd of over 27,000 who were more interested in seeing how Roberto Mancini’s new-look side was shaping up after an investment of about 80 million pounds ($127.2 million) in the transfer window so far.
That figure is likely to top 100 million pounds if James Milner joins the blue revolution from Aston Villa and the England midfielder will only add yet more strength to what is shaping up as a potential title-challenging squad.
The opening goal came after 28 minutes when Jerome Boateng, recently acquired from SV Hamburg, surged down the right before crossing for Gareth Barry to head home after Valencia keeper Miguel Angel Moya misjudged the flight of the ball.
City doubled the lead five minutes from time when Jo, who spent time on loan at Everton and Galatasaray last season, touched the ball into the net from close range after a burst forward from French midfielder Patrick Vieira.
Jo also hit a post soon after coming on as a 74th minute substitute. It was his fourth pre-season goal and, although the fans might have wished for more, they had plenty to savour.
All four of City’s expensive close-season signings -- David Silva, Yaya Toure, Aleksandar Kolarov and Boateng -- all started and, although Mancini used 10 of his 13 substitutes, City showed touches of occasional brilliance and real emerging teamwork.
Silva, a member of Spain’s victorious World Cup squad, was outstanding in a 30-minute cameo, darting into space and linking almost telepathically with City’s Argentina striker Carlos Tevez, who also shone in his half-an-hour.
Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure, who lasted an hour, was named Man of the Match for a typically dominant performance in midfield while Serbia international Kolarov and Germany defender Boateng also impressed on their home debuts for City.
One indication of the changes underway at the club was that only three of the players who started City’s last competitive match in May against West Ham United were in the starting lineup -- Emmanuel Adebayor, Nigel de Jong and Vincent Kompany.
That number may not be totally relevant with the squad still taking shape, but it does reflect the vastly different array of alternatives Mancini now has at his disposal.
It was a tough test for City too.
Valencia finished third in La Liga last season to seal an automatic place in the Champions League group stage and reached the Europa League quarter-finals before losing on the away goals rule to eventual winners Atletico Madrid.
Although the Sopanish side have sold their prize assets, including Silva to City for 24 million pounds and David Villa to Barcelona, they have traded wisely in the transfer window.
The attacking policy of their youthful-looking 38-year-old coach Unai Emery could well see them leading the La Liga pack behind Barca and Real Madrid again this season.
They had three new players in their starting lineup -- Turkey midfielder Mehmet Topal, Argentine-born midfielder Tino Costa and Villa’s replacement up front Roberto Soldado, who has just joined from Getafe for 8 million euros ($10.56 million).
Valencia, who drew 0-0 at Aston Villa on Friday, are two weeks behind City in their pre-season preparations but have failed to score in three successive friendlies and ultimately ran out of steam against the home side.
Even so, it was City’s most impressive warm-up performance so far. They now have to do it for real when the serious business of accumulating Premier League points starts for them at Tottenham Hotspur next Saturday.