Saturday 1 August, 3.00pm
Goals: Bogdanovic 83 for Barnsley. Petrov 88 for City.
A late goal by Barnsley followed by an even later one from Petrov provided a goalscoring ending to this entertaining friendly, where City showed signs of a team coming together as Kolo Toure was the latest debutant.
With pre season fixtures increasingly played on foreign shores as Premier League clubs seek to expand their brand, it was a pleasure to pay a visit to a more traditional home of English football. This latest friendly was apparently set up as part of the deal for Oakwell to host last season’s Uefa Cup “home” game against Streymur.
It’s not so long since we were visiting the Tykes in League fixtures, and it still feels a bit strange to be viewed as glamour opposition with our assorted multi-millionaires and Brazilian posterboy. Over 13,000 turned up and were treated to an open game with City’s stars showing some sublime skills if not much of a finishing touch.
Hughes played a 4-4-2 formation with Toure partnering Onuoha at the back. Nedum was again playing on the left side as our quest for a left footed centre-back continues. There was a welcome return for Richards after his bout of swine flu and he looked in good shape playing the full ninety minutes.
The midfield quartet of Ireland, De Jong, Wright-Phillips and Robinho asks a lot of the dutchmans defensive qualities and he proved up to the task. City started brightly knocking the ball about and controlling possession with everyone looking comfortable on the ball. Robinho looked fresher than in South Africa with his skills providing some early entertainment.
Bellamy’s willing running was stretching the defence and creating space for our other attacking players. With City over elaborating when they reached the opposition penalty area, it was only the Welshman who seemed willing to test Luke Steele in the Barnsley goal. A couple of efforts stung the palms of the Barnsley keeper. One such attempt rebounded to Adebayor who saw his first time shot halted by a brilliant reaction save that drew applause from Shay Given at the other end. The Togoese was also unlucky not to score when outjumping everyone at a corner.
Throughout the game, Bellamy ran the line well, providing a good test for the linesman as well as the Barnsley defenders. With the Welshman playing furthest forward and Adebayor not a natural tackler, this setup of the stirkers doesn’t provide much help for the midfield when we haven’t got the ball. It may be ok when we’re chasing a game or playing weaker opposition, but against teams that like to pack the midfield it would probably be a non-starter for me.
Credit therefore goes to De Jong and Ireland (playing as a box to box midfielder here) in ensuring we never lost control of the middle of the park. Barnsley’s chances came mainly down the flanks and it was again clear that a Garrido/Bellamy left flank just isn’t strong enough.
It was noticeable how the situation improved with the introduction of Zabaleta at left-back. With either Robinho or Petrov on the left wing, the competitive Argentinian looks better cover for Bridge than Garrido despite being right-footed.
As the first half wore on, Barnsley came into the game and started looking dangerous. For all Toure’s undoubted qualities we still lack height and an authority figure in central defence, particularly without the 6′ 2″ Dunne. Barnsley hit the woodwork and could have had a couple of goals, but thankfully we were spared the sight of Jon Mackem celebrating against us.
We reasserted ourselves at the start of the second half and an opening goal appeared only a matter of time. Adebayor hit the post following a delicious scooped pass from Robinho. The giant striker then resembled Bambi on ice as the rebound evaded him.
Bellamy and Adebayor are still to form a proper understanding, though Adebayor did put the Welshman clean through after 75 minutes. Bellamy slotted the ball past the keeper but just the wrong side of the post.
Ben Haim had replaced Onuoha at half-time and I was just thinking how he was looking every bit as good as Toure when disaster struck. In failing to cut out a through ball, he let Bogdanovic get away to show City’s strikers how to finish by flashing an excellent shot past Shay Given.
Barnsley fans celebrated raucously and the heads of the City players appeared to drop. The Blues picked themselves up and asserted some pressure with Weiss now on for Wright-Phillips. Finally Ireland put the ball across the box for the unmarked Petrov to finish from a couple of yards out.
That was just about it, and despite the scare of a near defeat I felt the team is starting to gel with Hughes having an outstanding assortment of players to choose from. I could watch them all day and just hope we get some decent results in the opening fixtures to keep the critics at bay.
A host of photos on barnsleyone.com
Fan footage of City’s goal
Even more predictable than Elano’s departure are sensationalist stories of Robinho’s devastation at the departure of his best mate.Ã‚Â The Mirror is first to the presses with this one.
“I am very sad to see Elano go because he was a team mate and has been a friend for many years.
“I understand the decision but I always believed that he would be part of this project. I never believed the rumours and I will miss our dinners and meetings.
“I wish and believe that Elano will be king at his new club. City have made some great signings and it has been made complicated for some players.
“But I have spoken many times with the coach and praised Elano but it was the decision of the club and impossible to change.”
Now I don’t doubt that Robinho is sorry to see his compatriot’s departure, but modern footballers, particularly those from different continents are used to such movements. It’s all part and parcel of the game. Afterall Robinho and Elano have said their goodbyes before when they departed Santos. And which of us doesn’t feel a little sad when our best friend at work/college/school leaves for pastures new.
Stories of Robinho’s unhappiness at City and linking him with other clubs has been a regular story for the press since the day he arrived, and will doubtless continue to the day he eventually does bid farewell to Beswick. This is not because he’s about to go anywhere, but because he’s the closest thing we have to a ‘media galactico’, stories about whom can sell copies of hard pressed newspapers and generate page views for their web sites.
It’s tiresome, but an inevitable byproduct of having higher profile players. Liverpool fans have to put up with similar fare regarding Torres and Aresnal fans have the Febregas back to Spain stories.
Robinho has the added bonus for the press of being someone who speaks quite freely. Yes he said he’d score thirty goals last season, and good luck to him in trying to do the same this season. Let’s not over analyse casual comments about winning mentalities or stating the obvious in that Barcelona play good football.
Instead we should be grateful for someone who wears his heart on his sleeve, at a time when homegrown players appear media coached to death – I love watching Wright-Phillips with the ball at his feet, but his post match interviews can readily cure insomnia.
Saturday 1 August, 3.00pm
Barnsley v City
Our first pre season fixture on English soil will sadly not be seeing the debuts of Carlos Tevez or Roque Santa Cruz as they continue to be nursed back to fitness. Micah Richards has recovered from swine flu and is said to be raring to go. It remains to be seen whether Kolo Toure will be joining him at the back.
Personally I wouldn’t be surprised to see our latest capture from Arsenal make an appearance as he was fit enough to player for the Gunners at the start of the week. Like the rest of us, Hughes is looking for an improvement on the South African games as the players improve their fitness:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We hope to raise the intensity a little at Barnsley but we still have different players at different fitness levels so we have to be mindful of that.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What we have nowÃ‚Â are three good games in a week Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Rangers and Celtic follow Barnsley- and what we intend to do is spread the workload so that everyone will get up to speed.
There’s little point in speculating on the line-up for this fixture as the players will clearly be rotated to give everyone a run out. However I will be hoping to get a first live glimpse of Adebayor and Barry wearing City shirts. We know results aren’t important in these fixtures but it would still be reassuring to see a victory with a few goals, particularly after the Vodacom Challenge.
There will be cash turnstiles at Oakwell for anyone without a ticket.
Official Barnsley site: http://www.barnsleyfc.co.uk/
Barnsley Football Club
The club have announced an “Open House” event next Thursday which will feature an opportunity to see our new signings going through their paces.Ã‚Â It all sounds a bit cheesy for anyone over the age of eight, but there could be some interest in seeing whether Carlos Tevez’s heel and Roque Santa Cruz’s knees can manage a knockabout.Ã‚Â We wait with baited breath.
Highlights are set to include:
- The squad being split into teams for some games.
- Roving entertainers, face painting, balloon modellers and a T-shirt launcher.
- The squad wearing their “dazzling freshly designed Umbro training kit”.
- The presence of Moonbeam and Moonchester.
- The chance to become the team’s mascot for the Celtic match (if you purchase the new training kit with a club membership card and are under 15).
Gates open at 2pm for a 2.45pm start with supporters encouraged to take along flags and scarves, etc.Ã‚Â The compare will be Hugh Ferris from Key 103 and I hope to God he isn’t the same person who was so excruciating at the recent friendly against Orlando Pirates.
Without aping the Real Madrid “galactico” introductions to much, it seems to fit with Garry Cooks desire for the club to stay connected with the local community while we also seek to build ourselves on the wider stage.