City convincingly booked a place in next season’s Champions League as Pep Guardiola’s side saw off a poor Watford outfit at Vicarage Road. It wasn’t the last day drama of years gone by, but City fans had the chance to feast their eyes on a display that will go down as one of the best performances of Pep’s first season.
Here’s what I learned from this afternoons’ game…
Sergio Agüero is still the talisman of this side
It’s official – Sergio’s double this afternoon means this season is statistically his best in a City shirt, following suspensions, injuries and being ‘dropped’ for Gabriel Jesus in February. He scored two today but in truth he could’ve hit three, four or five. De Bruyne will receive the plaudits for an incredible season in terms of assists, but I’m sure he would single out the off-the-ball movement from Sergio as one of the driving factors behind that statistic. Sergio proved today that not many strikers in world football could replace him, as he led the attack, linking up with various players. His goals today mean he has registered twenty or more league goals in five out of seven seasons – a stat that puts him up with the best this league has ever seen, such as Shearer and Henry. To ice the cake on Sergio’s performance this season, reports have emerged post-match to all but confirm he will be in the sky blue of City come August. Titles are won and lost on small margins – if Sergio takes the form he has shown the last week or two into next season, City will be up there. He looks sharper than ever, and his link-up play with young sensation Gabriel Jesus is a sight that will excite even the most pessimistic City fan of what the future holds.
Who stays and who goes?
Touré, Clichy, Navas, Sagna and Iheanacho all featured today – at least three of whom seem to have one foot out of the door. I singled out Yaya’s performance on Tuesday as a reason why he should stay for one more year, so I won’t go into too much detail on him – although the way he embraced Pep when he was substituted could be a ‘thank you and goodbye’, but you can’t look into that too much.
As for the middle three of the five mentioned, they are all out of contract and Pep sending Sagna and Navas on ahead of the likes of Sterling suggest that Guardiola was giving them a chance to have one last run out in a City shirt. Clichy was the weak link in the side again today, but if it was his last day I will voice an unpopular opinion that he has been a superb servant to the club in terms of his effort that ultimately saw him win a number of trophies whilst at the Etihad.
Kelechi is a tough one to predict – the media seem to think he is on his way out with City asking for £20m for the Nigerian’s services. He isn’t the best striker in the world, but he knows where the goal is, and I think we would be foolish to go into a season with just two recognised strikers.
The future is bright
Looking back on this season in years to come, it will probably be remembered for a trophy-less campaign, but there are positives to take. Agüero’s second goal today probably encapsulates the Pep Guardiola way in one move – decisive, lightning-quick speed counter attacking football ultimately finishing with a goal. The way the City attack carved through Watford time after time was beautiful to watch. Sané and Jesus had some great moments today and have done whenever they have featured, but more exciting is that I think they can get a lot better yet.
Guardiola often speaks of ‘the boxes’ and how we haven’t quite been good enough this season, but since Vinnie returned we have looked solid at the back, and if we continue to slice through defences at ease, the fine margins of being denied by finger tip saves and the width of the upright will soon translate into goals and ultimately less dropped points.
If we address the areas that need to be strengthened this summer, and the raw talent of the young Sané, Jesus, Sterling, Stones and co continues to develop, the future is certainly very bright for City. Over to you, Txiki.