Manuel Pellegrini, Manchester City`s new coach, must have breathed a sigh of relief at the end of his first match in charge at the Etihad Stadium last night, after his team scored four goals past a hapless 10-man Newcastle United.
Even before the game started, there was controversy, as it emerged that Arsenal had put in a transfer bid for Yohan Cabaye on the eve of the game, forcing manager Alan Pardew to remove him from the squad at the last moment. As if things were not hard enough for his team at one of the Premier League`s strongest teams, this caused a major upheaval and a hasty change of team set up just before the start of the game. It was a portent of what was to come as Newcastle were totally outclassed from start to finish.
However, for the first five minutes of the game, it looked like a fairly balanced affair, then up popped David Silva to score his first goal and put City ahead. Silva is around five foot five inches tall, yet scored with his head, which suggests that some better defending might have been expected.
The game was becoming a one-sided affair already and that was confirmed when Aguero was sent through, outpaced his defender, and shot into the far corner of the net for City`s second. As a contest, the match was virtually over already, as Newcastle reverted to a completely defensive set up. Newcastle survived a number of near misses and have goalkeeper Krul to thank with a string of fine saves.
The match was completely turned round just before half time; firstly Jonas Gutierrez went off with an injury, then in a moment of madness, captain Steven Taylor was sent off for swinging an elbow in the head of City forward Sergio Aguero right in front of the watching referee who had no hesitation in showing the red card. This left Newcastle with the whole of the second half to play with just 10 men.
Needless to say, the second half was a procession for City as their one-man advantage meant that Newcastle were chasing shadows most of the time. So, it came as no surprise when Yaya Toure kept up his goalscoring record against Newcastle by slotting home the third. A miserable night was compounded in the final quarter of the game when Samir Nasri scored City`s fourth.
There was a slight downside for City when their captain, Vincent Kompany had to go off with a groin strain, an injury which could keep him out for a couple of weeks. However, all the problems were Newcastle’s on a night when everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Alan Pardew has a lot of thinking to do before their next game and will now have to manage without his captain for at least the next three matches while he serves his suspension for the red card. Hatem Ben Arfa was the Newcastle stand-out player on the night, but Newcastle now have to deal with an unwelcome transfer bid for one of their most influential players, at a time when they need all their resources to survive, as they only just stayed in the Premier League on the last day of last season.
Only two years ago, Alan Pardew was being toasted as the Premier League Manager of the Year, now he is already fighting to keep his job.