Friday, 13 August 2010

Spurs preview

I love opening day. The epic possibilities of an empty book, the first hit of intoxicant after fourteen weeks on the wagon, like Christmas Eve but knowing that the fun lasts for longer than 24 hours. Even if I wasn't more optimistic than I have ever been about our up-coming season, I'd be fairly giddy this evening. But this is a thrilling time to be a Manchester City fan and so my excitement about tomorrow is multiplied.

And who better to play than Spurs? Those that vanquished us last year, producing a stunning final burst to beat Chelsea, Arsenal and of course us to deservedly finish fourth and earn Champions League football. The team we have to better this year, a team with a preposterous record against us (I think they've won 12 of our last 13 league games), to say nothing of the 4-3, Ricky Villa and all the rest of it. If we win tomorrow it would feel like such a sign of our summer progress (and Spurs' missed opportunity), reversing the order of things just three months after Spurs established superiority over us.

Of course, we probably won't win. And even if we do Spurs could still finish ahead of us. But these are the compelling possibilities on Friday afternoon. But at the least it would be nice to atone for the embarrassment not of May but of last Christmas. We went to White Hart Lane in December and put in a woeful, gutless performance. We lost 3-0, it was the game that cost Mark Hughes his job - he was out by the end of the week. As long as we don't do that again I'll be ok.

We should well have a better balanced team than we did then. We went into that game with Robinho and Stephen Ireland on the wings. They both drifted inside and we were lacerated down the flanks. Tomorrow I think we'll go 4-1-4-1. Carlos Tévez should lead the line. Then there will be a midfield four of Adam Johnson, Gareth Barry, Yaya Touré and Shaun Wright-Phillips. (Pablo Zabaleta might play for a winger but that would be a concession to caution too far I think.) Nigel de Jong will sweep up behind them. The personnel in defence is confused by injuries. Apparently Aleksandar Kolarov, Jérôme Boateng and Wayne Bridge are all injured. I think Pablo Zabaleta will play left-back, with Micah Richards on the right and Vincent Kompany and Kolo Touré in the centre. Joleon Lescott could play left back (as could Greg Cunningham) but I'd rather he didn't.

The big call is in goal. I have no idea who he will go for. I think I have a marginal preference for Joe Hart but largely because he's young. If he gets upset and leaves we're missing a chance to lock down a top quality 'keeper who can play for us for the next fifteen years. He could be our Iker Casillas. If I have a prediction it's Shay Given, because of Mancini's cautious instincts. But I just don't know.

It's one of the many possibilities for tomorrow. I'm going and I can't wait. I went to the opening day of 2007/08 and 2008/09. West Ham was wonderful, as a team of strangers played with an unexpected but delightful coherence which I would love to see tomorrow. At Aston Villa we were punished for playing Richards and Tel Ben Haim together at centre back. But it's always fun. And I reckon we might just scrape a point.


Anonymous said...

I think we'll go 4-3-3.

If possible.

Ahoyskin said...

Hart v. Given is definitely a big call, but the captaincy is equally intriguing. Is Mancini going to stick with Kolo? I don't see him playing the majority of games, but will anyone play the majority of games? Due to the large squad and rotation policy, will there be a dual captaincy? If so, I would think that Vieira almost definitely would be the "odd games" captain (i.e. League, easier Euro Cup games).

I don't know if Mancini has enough faith in anyone in defense right now to give him the captaincy in the league games (including Kompany). Perhaps we'll have the Toure brothers as dual captains. It's all speculation, but I can't wait either!

Anonymous said...

I predict Mancini will go for Hart. There was a rumour Mancini had promised Capello that Hart would get plenty of first choice experience at City. Also Hart has started all the pre-season friendlies.

Anonymous said...

As regards captain I suspect Mancini may try Tevez again. He is such a key figure, and the role might help him to regain his motivation for the club after the huge disappointment of failing to win the world cup.

Ahoyskin said...

thunderand1bolt, I thought about Tevez as well, but considered his English and though otherwise. Mancini has used him once in preseason, and with Bellamy as good as gone he is definitely the fire of the team. But I also worry about whether his recent comments have been lost in translation again or if he is really homesick. I can't see giving him the captain's band if it is the latter, just to rekindle a dwindling flame.