Thursday, 20 August 2009

The shape of things to come?

Who'd have thunk it? Manchester City 1 Barcelona 0 at the Nou Camp in front of a crowd of 94,000 – and we bring home the Joan Gamper Trophy, the first English side to do so – and, on the same night, Manchester United lose 1-0 to Burnley!

It's difficult to imagine how good that is.

Okay, the Barça match was a friendly, but it's still a big test. And in the second half, with stars like Messi and Alves on the pitch for the Catalan side, we actually kept them out, even after changes of our own saw two of our best defenders replaced by less experienced ones.

That comes just days after a 2-0 opening day victory at Ewood Park – Blackburn are never an easy side to play, Sam Allerdyce is a boringly defensive manager (I remember a day when City entertained his Bolton side and they kept all 11 men behind the ball).

It's certainly not a match we'd have expected to win in the past – last season, we scraped a 2-2 draw with moments remaining and that was good for us. Indeed, last term, we only managed two away wins all season – at Sunderland and Everton.

And the clean sheet was every bit as important as the two goals.

I'll be going up for the first home game of the season on Saturday – against top flight new boys Wolverhampton Wanderers.

I can hardly wait.

Cricket used to occupy my summer sports watching. Let's face it, for most of the last three decades, City have been pretty depressing. The close season was a time to stop being depressed – not continue thinking about a string of defeats (and, far too often, relegation).

It would take me a month or so to get into a new season.

But not this time – the excitement got to me weeks ago.

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