Will Unwin was at the Etihad tonight. His report has landed, and here it is. Thanks for reading this MBM. Nighty night … and get some good sleep, you’ve got to be up early in the morning, remember!
Pep Guardiola talks to TNT. “No words … for the success of Athens, and arriving when we are arriving … that is why we are a really good team … the mentality .. the steel … the desire … against that team that everyone saw play against Aston Villa, it was magnificent … there is no words to express my gratitude to these players … the way we played was more than deserved … everyone was a top performance … I know [Phil Foden’s] ability to move between the lines, his speed, his control, his contact with Erling … but we cannot forget how good he played on the left, on the right, in the number nine … finally we have a long week to rest and prepare for the future.”
Player-of-the-match Phil Foden joins TNT. “The manager decided to play me more inside today, in between the lines, it’s a role I enjoy … it’s a position I can hopefully move into in the future, or maybe this season … we’ll have to see where the manager decides to play me … we’ve got the best player in the world there in Kevin De Bruyne, and when you’re playing in the best team in the world it’s hard to be trusted in there … it’s difficult, I always want to play, I knew the challenge is very difficult here … the manager told me I’d get my opportunities … now I’m more than happy … it’s my aim every game to get better … I enjoyed playing in there and hopefully I can show what I can do.”
Eddie Howe speaks to TNT. “Tough game, as we knew it would be … they’re an elite team … we tried to press them high … I thought we did it better in the second half … when the moments came we weren’t clinical enough … the second-half showing was much better … fitness-wise we looked good … technically we were off, that’s probably where we lost it today, we turned the ball over quite a bit … we wanted to be ourselves but we didn’t execute it properly.”
That win puts the champions on Brighton’s tail. Next up for Pep’s men, a trip to Sheffield United next Sunday at 2pm. Next up for Newcastle, the visit of Liverpool two-and-a-half hours later.
Once it all comes down, Newcastle will take some positives from their performance. They made the best team in the world scrap to the very end, had a couple of decent opportunities themselves, and limited the damage in a fixture they always lose – that’s 15 wins in a row for City - to just one goal. They’ll play much worse this season and win easily. Manuel Akanji, the John Stones de nos jours, readily agrees, telling TNT: “They showed it last season, they are a great team … it wasn’t easy against them … but we did a good job … we defended really well as a team … Newcastle are a top-four team … adjusting in this position is something new but this is my fifth position playing in this team and I like to learn new things!”
A deserved victory for City, though Newcastle made the champions work for it. Phil Foden was outrageously good this evening, a cut above everyone else on the field, gliding around imperiously. He set up Julian Alvarez’s fine winner, and would have had at least a couple more assists had Erling Haaland been his normal clinical self. We’re just two games in, but already this is a team who look up for making it four in a row, and will take some stopping. Newcastle applaud their victors in the sporting fashion as City embark on a lap of honour to celebrate their Treble success. Oh, and Pep breaks off from blowing kisses to the crowd to give Alvarez, then Foden, a good talking-to. Of course he does!
FULL TIME: Manchester City 1-0 Newcastle United
The champions, the Treble Winners, march on.
90 min +4: “Jack had a good game too!” adds Nora Mulcahy.
90 min +3: The game is now being played entirely in Newcastle’s half. City’s desire to press to the bitter end is astonishing, given nine of tonight’s team started the Super Cup final on Wednesday, and Pep has made no subs tonight.
90 min +1: On TNT Sport, Ally McCoist names Phil Foden as player of the match. There can be no argument.
90 min: Grealish hits it long to Alvarez, who loops harmlessly into the arms of Pope. There will be five additional minutes.
89 min: Foden tries again, gliding into the box from the right, his low shot across goal deflected out for a corner. Grealish goes across to take it.
88 min: Alvarez finds Foden in acres on the right. Foden enters the box and aims a curler towards the top left. Walker, who was bombing down the flank on the overlap, and would have surely scored had he been played in, does a wee swearie.
86 min: Almiron is replaced by Livramento, who makes his Newcastle debut.
85 min: Rodri dribbles about in the centre circle awhile. He’s got no options ahead, and accordingly delivers his forwards a rollocking.
83 min: With City still not certain of three points, TNT cut to a shot of Pep offering a critical fan his place on the bench. All in good humour with the fan laughing heartily.
81 min: Foden sends Alvarez into space down the right. Alvarez attempts to find Haaland in the centre with a looping cross but Botman clears.
79 min: Foden batters long for Haaland, who briefly threatens to barge his way past Botman and Schar, but misjudges the bounce, allowing the Newcastle pair to tidy up.
78 min: Almiron runs at Grealish down the right. Grealish does exceptionally well to stand firm, refusing to let him pass with a crunching block. Newcastle come again. Almiron attempts a curler from the edge of the box but once again Grealish denies him, getting in the road of the shot.
76 min: Anderson and Almiron combine cutely down the right, but the former, sent into space by a lovely reverse pass, overhits his cross. Almiron drops his shoulders in misery. He’s been Newcastle’s brightest spark this evening.
75 min: Foden swings it in the general environs of the aforementioned mixer, but first man Trippier makes up for his mistake by heading clear.
74 min: Grealish dances in from the left and is caught by Trippier. Free kick and a chance for City to load the box. Get it in the mixer, son!
73 min: Almiron goes barrelling down the right again but doesn’t have anyone up in support with him and is soon swarmed.
72 min: Guimaraes rakes his studs down the shin of Foden. Yellow card, but you’ve seen them given. Newcastle have had the benefit of a couple of borderline refereeing decisions tonight. Another night, another referee, and they could be down to nine.
71 min: Rodri allows Almiron to strip him of possession in the centre circle. Wilson picks up possession and suddenly Newcastle are three on one! Wilson can’t get past that one, though, and Gvardiol does extremely well to ensure his opponent can’t find either Almiron or Longstaff. Big chance spurned there.
69 min: Grealish is skittled, fairly, by Schar, but nevertheless isn’t happy about it. Some low-level moaning and finger-pointing, but nothing serious.
67 min: Another Newcastle double change. Tonali and the strangely quiet Isak are replaced by Wilson and Anderson.
66 min: Almiron is sent scampering down the right at full pelt. He looks up, stops, and finds Guimaraes infield. Guimaraes is in acres of space … but somehow can’t get the ball out from under his feet, despite having all day to do so. He eventually dribbles an appalling shot miles left. He had to work Ederson at the very least.
64 min: Foden to Haaland yet again. Haaland powers into the box down the right before shooting low and hard towards the bottom left. Pope sticks out an instinctive leg and hacks away.
63 min: Foden does his space-inventing thing in midfield again. He sashays down the middle before finding Haaland on the edge of the D. Haaland scuffs his shot, which nevertheless nearly bobbles into the bottom right. Just wide. Foden is borderline unplayable tonight. He’s been so easy on the eye.
61 min: “That Gordon tackle was a straight red for Alexis Mac Allister earlier today, wasn’t it,” writes Simon Staffans. A thin line between being allowed to play at St James’ Park next weekend and not, that’s for sure.
59 min: Foden makes space out of nothing with a spin in midfield, then slides in Haaland, who is about to shoot until Schar extends a leg and forces him to shin wide. That’s wonderful defending. But what a turn by Foden, who has been a class apart this evening.
58 min: Barnes goes into the book for a cynical tug on Walker.
56 min: Eddie Howe does the smart thing and immediately hooks Gordon. He’s replaced by Barnes, while Joelinton, who has hurt himself while fouling Foden, makes way for Sean Longstaff.
54 min: Gordon, already on a booking, catches Dias late. Play is waved on, and Joelinton clatters into Foden. Joelinton goes into the book as Gordon, cheeks flushed and sheepish, blows his cheeks out in relief.
52 min: The pace drops a little. City have been coasting a bit since the restart. Pound to a penny Pep won’t be happy.
50 min: City go direct for Haaland, who nearly powers his way past Botman down the inside-left channel. Haaland gets a shot in anyway, but it’s an easy gather for Pope. “Sandro Tonali’s bouffant, with full side-parting (quite a contrast to the Roundhead Foden) is only a week or two of growth off early-80s levels,” writes Rob Knap, before throwing the names of Tony Hadley and John Duttine out there. These are the sort of references the internet kids want all right.
49 min: Joelinton rolls a pass in from the left. Gordon spins elegantly down the channel before slashing a wild shot off target.
48 min: Gordon dribbles in from the left and shoots. Blocked. Newcastle have obviously been given the what-for during the half-time break.
47 min: Isak is bowled over from behind by Rodri in the City box. The whistle goes … but Burn was caught an inch or two offside in the build-up. That might have been interesting had the flag not gone up … and there wasn’t much in the offside decision either. City breathe again.
Newcastle get the second half underway. No changes. Alvarez immediately goes into the book for a pointless grab at an in-flight Tonali, who was going nowhere in particular in midfield.
Half-time appetite whetter. You’ll obviously have heard there’s a football match on tomorrow morning …
HALF TIME: Manchester City 1-0 Newcastle United
The Treble winners lead at the break. Deservedly so.
45 min +2: Trippier is sent scampering down the right on the overlap. He crosses deep, the ball evading Dias and Akanji and dropping towards Gordon, six yards out. Gordon opts to take a touch, as opposed to hitting it first time. Wrong decision, because he miscontrols, and Newcastle’s best chance of the evening is gone, as quickly as that.
45 min +1: The first of three additional minutes passes by without incident.
45 min: Grealish steams down the left and earns a corner. Newcastle clear it. Grealish comes again down the wing and looks to have been barged over by Almiron, but he’s not getting the foul. He smiles and applauds the referee, and wants to watch himself doing that in the current officious climate.
43 min: Pep Guardiola, his salt-and-pepper beard thickening in the style of Alexei Sayle, sits impassively on a pitchside coolbox. His team are in control.
41 min: Action at both ends. Schar chases a ball down the inside-right channel and goes over under shoulder-fuelled pressure from Akanji. Penalty? Nope, though Akanji looked slightly sheepish as he left the scene. Then Ederson launches long, and soon enough Haaland is spinning on the edge of the Newcastle box, his low diagonal steer bobbling inches wide of the right-hand post.
39 min: Newcastle calm things down a little with some sterile possession.
37 min: Almiron cuts in from the right and shoots. Blocked. Play then stops briefly as VAR checks for a possible Newcastle penalty, Schar having hit a bouncing ball into Kovacic’s chest on the edge of the box. But there really was nothing in it, the players standing right next to each other, Kovacic’s arm tucked into his chest. We play on. May as well check, though, right?
35 min: Grealish takes the resulting free kick, 35 yards from goal. The ball’s worked out to the right, then drops at the feet of Kovacic 25 yards out. Kovacic takes a whack but Botman blocks.
33 min: “We’re not really here.” All the party favourites tonight. Foden drives down the middle of the park looking to set up a quick-fire second, but before he can get a pass away to Haaland, Tonali shoves him in the back. Tonali goes into the book.
GOAL! Manchester City 1-0 Newcastle United (Alvarez 31)
This is a sensational move, with a finish to match. Kovacic rolls a pass down the inside-right channel for Foden, who takes one touch, then plays a no-look cutback for Alvarez, who is clear in a pocket of space, 12 yards out. Alvarez adjusts himself and sends a screamer into the top left. Pope got a brilliant fingertip to it, but was powerless to stop it. What a finish!
29 min: Grealish’s cross from the left is cushioned down by Walker for Kovacic, whose shot from the edge of the D is blocked. More fine defending by Newcastle, but City are turning up the heat again.
28 min: Rodri nearly releases Walker into the box down the right with a clever shovelled pass. But Walker’s slightly back on his heels and can’t reach the pass to take a shot-cum-cross before the ball flies out of play. Then City come again, though Alvarez down the left. His low cross is dangerous but hacked clear by Botman. Haaland, the goal-sniffer supreme, was strangely absent from the scene.
27 min: Haaland chases a long ball. He goes over in the box, the victim of an innocent pincer movement by Schar and Botman. The crowd scream for a penalty, but Haaland himself isn’t bothered at all, simply getting back up and carrying on with his day.
25 min: Suddenly a reasonably free-flowing match gets a little scrappy. Newcastle won’t mind that one bit.
23 min: Dias is down and unhappy. Gordon stuck his studs on his calf. Dias gets back up and prepares to engage in a square go. Burn comes across to ensure things don’t escalate. It’s a yellow card, but it could easily have been a red. Who knows these days?
21 min: Tonali and Almiron combine well down the right to set Isak dribbling into the box. Isak sits Gvardiol down before cutting back for Almiron, who dummies to allow Joelinton to hit a shot first time … except Joelinton can’t sort his feet out to get an effort away. Shame, it was a lovely move.
19 min: Now it’s Newcastle’s turn to show they can boss possession for a bit. City hold their shape and there’s no way into their final third.
17 min: Gordon drops a shoulder to make some space down the left. He zips towards the box and crosses towards Almiron at the far stick. Akanji is on point to clear. Newcastle’s first serious attack and it was a dangerous one.
16 min: Foden creams a lovely long pass down the inside-left channel. Haaland prepares to tear clear but Trippier comes across to intercept. City are beginning to seriously threaten, though Pope hasn’t been put to work as of yet.
14 min: Akanji chances his arm from 25 yards. It’s a decent curler aimed towards the top left. Inches over the bar. Pope probably had it covered, though.
13 min: Kovacic hipshakes his way through the centre circle, and suddenly there’s a chance to release Haaland down the middle. The pass isn’t of the same quality as the shake ‘n’ shimmy.
11 min: Newcastle press hard, Almiron very nearly closing down Ederson. But the keeper plays out calmly. Up the other end, City press even harder, Foden stealing the ball from Joelinton and feeding Haaland down the inside-left channel. The crowd begin to roar in anticipation, then sigh as Haaland takes a heavy touch and runs the ball out for a goal kick. For a split second there, goal number three of Haaland’s season looked on.
9 min: Foden spins into a little bit of space down the left. Alvarez takes up possession and slips an in-flight Grealish into the box. Grealish drops a shoulder but can’t quite make enough space to shoot from a tight angle.
7 min: Grealish rolls in a cute diagonal pass from the left. Haaland tries to shuttle it immediately down the channel to release Foden, but Schar is on point to intercept and clear. A slick move that nearly paid off.
5 min: Schar is back in situ. City are hogging the ball. Haaland thinks about driving down the right wing but Botman comes across to slam the door shut.
3 min: Schar landed heavily on his outstretched arm. The physios come on. Schar grimaces hard. But it looks like the pain’s been caused by the shock of impact, and there’s no lasting damage. Well, he’s going to continue for now, anyway, and the doctors seem happy enough about it.
1 min: Schar goes up for a high ball with Haaland, and falls awkwardly. This doesn’t look great. He holds his right shoulder and appears to be in some distress.
There’s a match to be played, and City get the game underway. A couple of minutes late, but winning a Treble’s got to give you a bit of slack.
A huge TREBLE WINNERS banner covers nearly all of the pitch. Hey Jude, as performed by Everton’s Paul McCartney, blasts from the speakers. A party atmosphere all right. Fireworks. Then the players arrive, and they’re afforded a little strip of grass to stand on. Eventually they start folding up the folderol. “It only seems like yesterday that this fixture was being graced by the likes of Georgios Samaras and Craig Moore,” recalls Chris Paraskevas. “Back then it was a bonus to see an outbreak of flowing football when these teams played: all the talk was about relegation and long-suffering fans. Now this fixture is stacked with the likes of Haaland and Isak and NUFC have a dedicated documentary / four-part puff-piece on Amazon. When did the world turn upside down?” ˙ǝʇnuᴉɯ ɐ uᴉ ɟɟo ǝq ll,ǝM
The last time the City faithful congregated here was on 21 May, the day after Nottingham Forest beat Arsenal, the day Ilkay Gundogan lifted the Premier League trophy. Since then, City have popped another three pieces of silverware on the mantelpiece in the shape of the FA Cup, Champions League and Super Cup. The Etihad is therefore en fête, with the three Treble baubles proudly carried out by three club legends in Mike Summerbee (FA Cup), Tommy Booth (Premier League) and Joe Corrigan (Champions League) and displayed pitchside. Newcastle fans, who haven’t seen their heroes win anything since the 1969 Fairs Cup, will presumably be looking on with lip-smacking anticipation. Their wait’s got to end soon, right?
Both teams can go top this evening with a win. But they’ll have to win big if they want to topple Brighton, who completed their second 4-1 of the season at Wolves this afternoon. They’re already eight in the bag! City would have to win by four clear goals, or by a margin of three providing they score at least six. Newcastle need any three-goal victory, or a two-goal margin providing they score at least four. Not that it really matters at this stage of the season, though try telling that to the Seagulls right now.
Pep Guardiola talks to TNT, and is congratulated on City’s Super Cup triumph over Sevilla. “We are so happy. It is the past. Onto next.” Then onto the meat of the interview. “We are happy to be back after the last game of the last season … Julian Alvarez is fresh … but maybe Cole Palmer will help in the second half … we saw how good Newcastle are against Aston Villa … in a short time they have put themselves at the level they want to be … their recruitment is fantastic so the quality is there … we are ready for a challenge and are happy to be home … we know exactly what we have to do, we have to win it again.”
Eddie Howe speaks to TNT Sports. “The team performed really well last week … there weren’t many weaknesses in our play or style so I’ve gone with the same team … but always looking at the opposition to give us the best chance … we’re pushing each other every day to try to win as many games as we can … it’s just about trying to win each match … [City] are the best team in the land … this is the toughest game we’ll have away from home this year … we’ll try to impose ourselves but it’ll be a really difficult game … I’m really excited about our new players, they give us a different dynamic … our squad is going to be hugely important with the games we have in the Champions League … everyone is involved, we want everyone to feel part of it, whether they’re starting or not starting, and be ready to make an impact when they come on.”
Manchester City make two changes from the starting XI named for the Uefa Super Cup final in Athens on Wednesday night. Ruben Dias and Julian Alvarez replace Nathan Ake and Cole Palmer, who both drop to the bench. Josko Gvardiol makes his first Premier League start.
Newcastle are in If It Ain’t Broke mode. Exactly the same XI that started the 5-1 hammering of Aston Villa last weekend.
Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Akanji, Dias, Gvardiol, Rodri, Kovacic, Foden, Alvarez, Grealish, Haaland.
Subs: Phillips, Ake, Ortega, Gomez, Perrone, Bobb, Palmer, Lewis, McAtee.
Newcastle United: Pope, Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn, Tonali, Bruno Guimaraes, Joelinton, Almiron, Isak, Gordon.
Subs: Dubravka, Lascelles, Wilson, Ritchie, Targett, Barnes, Livramento, Anderson, Longstaff.
Referee: Robert Jones (Merseyside).
Too early to call this a title-race six-pointer? Yes, you’re right, just one game in, it certainly is. Then again, it is the Treble champions versus an upwardly mobile side who strutted their way to a 5-1 victory on the opening day. So, well, y’know. Some three-point hauls are bigger than others, let’s put it like that.
Manchester City won comfortably enough at Burnley in their opening fixture. They’ve just added the Super Cup to last season’s swag. Erling Haaland is already on two goals. But they’ve lost their talisman Kevin De Bruyne to injury, while the influential pair John Stones and Bernardo Silva are both missing tonight. Confidence will still be pretty darn high, to be fair, but nothing’s perfect.
Newcastle meanwhile are in fine fettle. All of their big guns are available. They were imperious in swatting aside a highly regarded Aston Villa team last weekend, the sort of statement performance that had many a pundit wondering aloud: they couldn’t end that 96-year wait, could they? No, you’re right, we’re one game in, let’s all calm down. Alexander Isak looks the real deal, mind.
So having set this match up as a showdown of near-equals, it would be remiss of us not to point out that City have won their last 14 top-flight home matches against the Toon, to a tune of 48-7. The only time Newcastle have won away at City in their last 38 top-flight attempts was when Alan Shearer scored the only goal at Maine Road in 2000. Oh, and City have won 21 of their last 23 Premier League games at home, drawing the two others, and are on a run of 16 consecutive home wins in all competitions. So there is all that to consider. Kick off at the Etihad is at 8pm BST. It’s on!