Saturday 20 September 2008

Chelsea crash City's party in clash of the cash

It had been billed as the ‘clash of the cash’ with Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea travelling to Manchester to play the team that everybody’s talking about- City. With new owners and a superstar new player, in the shape of £32.5 million man Robinho, the sell-out ground was well and truly buzzing with anticipation before kick off.
After 13 minutes City fans were in dreamland. A superb Robinho free-kick whistled straight past the stranded Petr Cech to give City the lead. The new star man, who Scolari had desperately wanted at Stamford Bridge, had showed the visitors exactly what they have missed out on, pointing deliriously at the City crest on his sky blue shirt. It was definitely Braziliant.
The lead was cancelled out almost immediately with Ricardo Carvalho slamming home from a Joe Cole corner. With the match poised at 1-1, both teams had chances to go ahead, with Stephen Ireland’s shot fizzing over the crossbar and Malouda’s header crashing against the bar. But after the break Chelsea stormed into the lead with a superbly-taken goal from Frank Lampard and a classic third by former City player Nicolas Anelka sealing all three points for the Londoners. A late sending off for John Terry gave City hope, but the comeback goal never came, and it was Abramovich who left the happier owner.
Despite the 3-1 score-line, there were plenty of positives to encourage City- new man Robinho for a start. He looks a class act, with plenty of dinks and trickery, as well as tracking back and helping out when required. He was linking up well with Wright-Phillips, and together they will terrorise many Premier League defences and prove to be priceless for Mark Hughes. Another City debutant, Pablo Zabaleta, looked more nervous. He made quite a few mistakes but later on committed a superb tackle and charged up field with the ball. But the Argentinian has yet to really train with City, he will certainly be one to watch.
People who went to Eastlands yesterday expecting City to sweep aside the team that nearly won the Champions’ League purely because of the signing of Robinho need a reality check. Rome wasn’t built in a day- and Chelsea were indeed worthy winners and will probably go on to win the league this season on that form. But the ingredients are clearly there for City to build on and up next is Europe- a UEFA Cup first round trip to AC Omonia in Cyprus. The next Premier League tie comes just three days afterwards, with City facing Harry Redknapp’s Portsmouth at home.
A lot of talk has been made in the press regarding City’s Arab takeover- with a lot of negative reaction. People doubting the major cash injection, thinking that the money will change the face of football forever. The reality is that, in the modern age of football, billions are needed for a club to achieve success. To improve a club’s infrastructure and to buy better players. The vast majority of opposition fans that I have spoke to are happy for City and are excited for the times that lie ahead in the Premier League.
Generally, the fans who are bemoaning the takeover are merely disheartened and jealous that Sulaiman Al-Fahim didn’t choose their team to invest in, but are the same fans that are sick and tired of it always being the ‘Core Four’ fighting it out for the title. If Hughes spends wisely during the transfer window come January, there realistically could be a fifth team in the hat for the title next season. Blue is definitely the colour- but this time it’s the sky blue of Manchester.

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