- Matchday centre
- Match reports
- 22 August 2009 16:57
- Posted by Chris Bailey
If the rest of the world could feed off the positivity currently surrounding City then the recession and the credit crunch would already be consigned to the files marked ‘history’.
A throbbing City of Manchester Stadium was packed with evangelical zeal, hope and purpose for the kick off the home programme. There wasn’t a seat or any of the once trademark negativity to be found anywhere in the spruced up, gleaming ground.
Fans unfurled a huge banner, paid for by voluntary contributions by those who air their views on the Bluemoon Fans’ Forum, thanking owner Sheikh Mansour for his huge investment in the club which has transformed into a potential superpower with supporters still at its heart.
Legendary former player Mike Summerbee was introduced as the new club ambassador and manager Mark Hughes after watching his side win in Blackburn and Barcelona without conceding a goal was able to field his full array of star names following a series of fitness tests.
Such is the strength in depth these days that the boss had the luxury of leaving Craig Bellamy on the bench and making just change from the side that impressed so much in the opening day 2-0 win at Ewood Park. Carlos Tevez was the man to replace the Wales international.
It proved the correct decision as the Blues made it two out of two and kept pace with the early leaders with a routine 1-0 win secured thanks to an 18th minute goal from Emmanuel Adebayor.
The question before the game was whether Mick McCarthy’s men, Champions in their own section last year, were the real deal or Wolves in sheep’s clothing!
A tame capitulation at home to West Ham had been followed by a win at Wigan. The hallmark of that triumph has been a prodigious work rate and there was certainly plenty of that on show as they harried their more skilful hosts for most of the game.
Class, however, usually has a way of nudging or barging its way to centre stage and so it proved here as Gareth Barry, Robinho, Tevez and Stephen Ireland began picking Wanderers apart with their head swivelling range of passing and the movement of Adebayor dragged defenders this way and that sapping their energy along the way.
The goal that broke the Wolves resistance and partially shredded their game plan of containment and frustration came in the 19th minute courtesy of a Wayne Bridge cross, a poor defensive header, a wonderfully intuitive Tevez pass and crisp finish by Adebayor who made it two in two games.
He might have made it three moments later when superbly set up by the quick thinking of Wright-Phillips and Ireland but the striker was denied by Wayne Hennessey in the home goal who was increasingly busy and made fine stops from Robinho (twice) and Adebayor as the half wore to a close.
Wolves didn’t test Shay Given until the 40th minute and when they did they soon discovered he is in the form of his life as he rose majestically to claw Matthew Jarvis’ curler out of the top corner. Normal service was, however, resumed in stoppage time as Tevez nodded narrowly wide from Barry’s cross.
The one sided nature of the game continued after the break and Ireland should have scored in 57th minute but poked the ball wide after an extravagant one-two had carved Wolves wide open.
Adebayor might also have done better in the 66th minute when he collected Ireland’s excellent ball and rounded Hennessey only to hit the side netting from a tight angle.
It was the sixth great chance missed to extend the lead and settle any nerves in the crowd and it didn’t help that when Robinho did have the ball in the ne that it was ruled offside.
There was a scare for the profligate Blues in the 69th minute when Andy Keogh volleyed against the bar for Wolves.
It heralded the visitors’ best spell and Hughes quickly freshened up his side by sending Bellamy into the fray at the expense of a still not match fit Tevez and Nigel de Jong took Robinho’s place. Even then it was a nervy end to the second success of the campaign.