The first month of the new season started with real promise: four wins, four clean sheets and a sense that City's stockpiling of players with Premier League experience has left us better organized and harder to beat than we have been before. Harder challenges await, though.
Blackburn Rovers (a) 2-0 (thoughts, reax, more reax)
Wolverhampton Wanderers (h) 1-0 (thoughts, ratings, reax, more reax)
Crystal Palace (a) 2-0 (thoughts, ratings)
Portsmouth (a) 1-0 (thoughts, ratings, reax)
Player of the Month
Emmanuel Adebayor may have scored three goals in four games but for me he's not even in the running. It's a choice between two of Mark Hughes' less expensive, less galáctico signings, but the two who are to be the most influential in our drive for success. Shay Given and Gareth Barry cost a few million less and more than £10m respectively, both arriving with years of Premier League experience and literally hundreds of EPL starts to their names, both worrying that their peak years were to be wasted at clubs who were either stagnating - in Villa's case - or moving backward at full pelt - as were Newcastle. Both represented the true heart of Mark Hughes' transfer strategy in a way that Robinho did not: the elevation of Premier League experience, at the top end, ahead of all other criteria in potential targets. Both have captaincy experience, a cool head under pressure and a sensible demeanour. A spine is made up of many vertebrae, but these are the most important links - above even new captain Kolo Touré - in our newly constituted backbone. It is thanks to these two that we can now grind out wins in games that previous City teams would have lost or drawn. I feel so much more safe knowing that they're playing for us.
I'm tempted to award them the August Player of the Month award jointly. They both make compelling individual cases. Gareth Barry has given our midfield a control and maturity I have never seen in a City team before. In all four games this year he has been excellent, putting out fires wherever they burst, battling for the ball where need be, setting up attacks, and always, always, keeping the ball. Shay Given's achievements have been as impressive, if only of one category: saves. We all wanted Joe Hart to be our long-term 'keepr, but Given just makes saves that Hart wouldn't make. There were three or four against Blackburn - from Jason Roberts and Chris Samba, if I remember correctly - which kept us in the game. One from Matt Jarvis against Wolves was a feat of agility and preserved our one goal lead. His best saves at Selhurst Park came when we were 2-0 ahead. But at Fratton Park only his right shoulder meant that we came away with three points rather than one as he blocked David Nugent's late shot.
But there can be only one winner, and after minutes of agonizing I'm going to give it to Gareth Barry.
Performance of the Month
Gareth Barry vs. Portsmouth.
Total control and domination of the midfield, in the face of a real assault from Michael Brown and others. But he was at the centre of everything good that City did. An invaluable player.
Goal of the Month
Emmanuel Adebayor vs Blackburn
Lovely ball down the right for Wright-Phillips who put Aston Villa's Stephen Warnock on his behind before cutting the ball back for Adebayor on the edge of the box. Surging forward, Ade smashed the ball on his right foot past Paul Robinson. Two minutes into the 2009/10, City were away.