It wasn’t the prettiest of victories, but it’s one that feels very important. After the commotion on Monday, I suppose a trip from Planet Pep back down to Earth was actually quite good for the squad. The scrappy 1-0 win reminded the boys that they’re going to have to work incredibly hard to win this title.
After the game our hero on the night, Joe Hart, paid tribute to the departing Pellegrini and insisted that the side would fight to give him the send off he deserves:
“He has been a top manager for us and his man-management has been something I have personally enjoyed so we will look to give him the best send-off he deserves.
“The players think the world of him, and the fans think the world of him.”
Joe, as is usually the case, is 100% correct. Manuel has earned an almighty send off for the outstanding work (work that certainly hasn’t received the praise it should have) he’s done for us. There’s no doubt he’ll appreciate the poorly-made posters and the tone-deaf choruses of ‘Sheikh Mansour went to Spain’, but he’d much rather leave the club with at least three trophies to his name. And he’ll definitely be hoping for much smoother victories than the one last night.
In fairness to Sunderland, they were fantastic. Backed by a sizzling home crowd, Allardyce’s side clobbered our defence in a superbly vibrant attacking display. New signings Jan Kirchoff and Lamine Koné inspired the performance, the former orchestrating Sunderland’s dangerous wing-play and the latter bullying the 6-foot-1 Yaya Touré out of the game with brute force. Yaya’s no slouch, but there was even a point in the second half when the debutant out-ran the Ivorian and then put him on the ground with a meaty shoulder charge for good measure. This guy is a proper defender and judging from the home supporter’s reaction to his display, Sunderland fans already love him.
One fella defenders rarely succeed in bullying out of the game, however, is Sergio Agüero. With the Argentine in the form he’s in, one chance may be all we need to go and win a game and that was definitely the case on Tuesday. Sergio, who now has 10 goals in his last 12 Premier League appearances, was on hand to prod home a Jesús Navas cross that somehow managed to evade Billy Jones. The wince that crept onto his face when he went to celebrate had every City fan, including myself, writing off this season as a complete waste of time; but it was merely a scrape down the back of the calf. Sergio was fine. We were 1-0 up. The league remained in our grasp.