Two minutes into stoppage time it was looking like a perfect month: no goals conceded, a win and two away draws in the league and simple progress in Europe. But then Micah Richards dragged down Darren Bent in the box; the penalty was converted and things suddenly look less clear. Four points from three league games is a good platform, but it's towards the bottom end of my August expectations. There are obvious positives: the one goal conceded in 450 minutes, the marker performance against Liverpool. But there are slight concerns too: how attached is Roberto Mancini to the Nigel de Jong - Gareth Barry - Yaya Touré midfield triangle, and what implications does it have for David Silva? It's been a good start, but everything is still unclear.
Tottenham Hotspur (a) 0-0 (thoughts, ratings, reax)
FC Timişoara (a) 1-0 (thoughts, ratings, reax)
Liverpool (h) 3-0 (thoughts, ratings, reax)
FC Timişoara (h) 2-0 (thoughts, ratings, reax)
Sunderland (a) 0-1 (thoughts, ratings, reax)
Player of the Month
Only two candidates, and both defensive players. People underestimate just how much our defence has improved under Roberto Mancini. This was a very secure month, thanks in part to consistency of defensive selection. For all but Timişoara at home we had the same spine: Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Kolo Touré, Nigel de Jong, Gareth Barry and Yaya Touré. In fact, for Timişoara at home Hart, Kompany and de Jong stayed to retain some certainty in the side. And two of those three stand out - Hart and Kompany. And as good as Vincent was: composed, dominant, authoritative - I'm going for the 'keeper.
Choosing Joe Hart over Shay Given was one of Mancini's biggest decisions at City. I had thought his cautious instincts would push him towards Given. If I had to account for Mancini's choice, I would say that his desire to assemble a team of players in their early 20s, with no loyalty to the previous regime, is an underexplored aspect here. Political or not, it was certainly vindicated. Against Spurs Hart produced a display of shot-stopping that might even have been beyond Given. And then against Liverpool there was a double save of similar brilliance. And now he looks like he could be secure as our number one goalkeeper for the next ten years.