Given – Held on well to one shot. Shay probably expended most energy berating his teammates for sloppy defending at corners. 7
Zabaleta – A chance to play 90 minutes in his rightful position and he was excellent. Tigerish in the tackle and put over a superb cross for the first goal. 8
Dunne – Started on left side of central defence and completely lost his man for the first goal. Subsequently returned to right hand side and had no further problems. 5
Toure – It’s a delight to see a City central defender bringing the ball out from the back and making telling passes. The injury didn’t look a major concern. 7
Bridge – Much improved on his defensive debacle at Rangers. Instigated the second goal with a fine run and pass to Bellamy. 7
De Jong – It’s not just the way he tackles that impresses, but the way he tackles and manages to lay the ball off to a teammate. 7
Barry – Brilliantly timed run for the first goal. Total composure in the first half alongside De Jong, then required to work overtime in the second when anchoring midfield. 8
Ireland – Some quality touches and passes, though he tends to get caught straying to far forward when playing in a central midfield two. 7
Wright-Phillips – An improved display on what has been a mixed pre-season. 6
Robinho – Didn’t always get the passes he was hoping for from his teammates, but kept going. 6
Bellamy – Just when it looked like nothing was coming off for the Welshman, up he popped with the second goal. 7
Ben Haim – Aside from one needless concession of a corner this was an improved display by the Israeli. 6
Adebayor – This was his most languid performance so far, when few things he attempted came off. 6
Weiss – Provided entertainment for the crowd with some great trickery even if we don’t always get the final ball. 6
Tevez – Warmed up to a huge cheer, and came on to an even bigger one. There were some nice touches and a glimpse of the famed workrate. 7
Petrov – Wasn’t able to influence the game as much as he would have liked. 6
Man of the match: Barry.
Goals: Barry 15, Bellamy 50 for City. Killen 24 for Celtic.
City completed pre-season with a morale boosting victory over a weakened Celtic side with goals from Gareth Barry and former hoops hero Craig Bellamy. Former City academy star Chris Killen netted for Celtic.
The number of empty seats in the home areas were disappointing, but at least there was a large turnout from the ever boisterous Celtic fans, who were given the whole of the South Stand. Unsurprisingly they were in high spirits after their midweek victory in Europe.
A trio of former City players made a return in the shape of Georgios Samaras, Willo Flood and Killen. All received a good hand from City fans as the teams were read out.
The warm reception was reciprocated for Shay Given and, in particular, Craig Bellamy who is famed for his title winning exploits north of the border. It must have made a welcome change for the Welshman to be cheered by the opposition fans!
Hughes sent out a strong line-up, though with Dunne being the only outfield player over 6 feet tall, it would represent quite a gamble to play this side at Sam Allardyce’s Blackburn.
Zabaleta took over from Richards at right-back and had an excellent game in his preferred position. The Argentine’s tackling and his refusal to let wingers get the better of him is a lesson to all our other full-backs.
With Toure playing on the right of central defence, we again saw Dunne shunted over to the left. In the early part of the game Dunne survived ok, possibly due to a complete lack of Celtic attacks. However following City’s first goal and the departure of Toure, Celtic came into the game. A glorious pass from Samaras sent the unmarked Killen racing through on Dunne’s blind side, and he fired past Given. It was very poor defending from City to let the New Zealander get away so easily.
Soon afterwards Ben Haim moved to the left side and Dunne was back in his comfort zone on the right. From then on City looked a lot more at ease in open play. Corners were another matter as aside from Given nobody appeared fully focussed. We were lucky not to concede on more than one occasion. Any observers for “Set Piece Sam” Allardyce would have been busy noting that.
City had started the game well with the midfield pairing of De Jong and Barry looking excellent once again.Ã‚Â This relieves Ireland of having to restrict his breaks forward, which he struggled to do when asked to play in a central midfield pair in the second half. Barry demonstrated the art of knowing when to break into the box in scoring the opening goal. It was beautiful in it’s simplicity as Wright-Phillips released Zabaleta who hit a fantastic cross for the former Villa man to volley first time into the net.
The substitution of De Jong for Adebayor at half-time meant a change in formation. Barry, with Ireland supposedly alongside him was required to do a lot more covering and did well not to be overrun.
Six minutes into the second half, Bridge picked up the ball at full back and set off on a meandering run that took him towards the centre circle. A ball over to Bellamy had the Celtic defence back-pedalling and the Welshman turned his defender one way and then the other before firing into the bottom corner. Another quality goal from City.
Hughes then seemed intent on giving all his attacking players a run out in front of the watching Khaldoon al-Mubarak. Tevez, Weiss and Petrov all made an appearance. Tony Mowbray appeared to go substitute crazy himself and both teams lost their shape as the game petered out.
“It was a good work-out, but we’re at a stage where we are a bit fed up of friendlies and want to get the real stuff started. In fairness, today was a good exercise because they were good opposition, and there was a great atmosphere today.
“There are always things in friendlies that will look a bit false, and you need to get the competitive juices flowing to see what you want to see.”
“I knew I could only play Carlos for about 25 minutes at most today,” Hughes continues, “and I wanted to see him on the pitch with Robi and Ade.”
Once again it was a decent match to watch as both sides played an open game at a decent pace, particularly in the first half. The centre of defence and general lack of organisation at the back remains the biggest concern, both in open play and at set pieces.
The forwards aren’t quite gelling, but there’s now sufficient quality and variety to believe they will. The workrate of Tevez seemed to rub off on some of the others, and that in itself could be a useful improvement on last year. Hopefully Khaldoon al-Mubarak will have departed feeling sufficiently happy with how the money’s been spent.
Manchester Evening News
The Lonesome Death Of Roy Carroll
Saturday 8 August, 3.00pm
City round off their pre-season fixtures with the Eastlands tradition of a prestige home fixture. Celtic are this season’s visitors and it promises to be an entertaining game with the Scots doubtless in jubilant mood following their Champions League heroics on Wednesday.
Expect to see them singing the praises of none other than Georgios Samaras, and it’s been a while since anyone did that at Eastlands! The opposing fans should also give a warmer reception to Shay Given and Craig Bellamy than we heard on Wednesday night.
Following today’s Champions League draw pitting his side against Arsenal, Tony Mowbray will probably appreciate the chance to give his side a run out against Premier League opposition, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Celtic in fairly relaxed mode following their midweek exertions.
Hughes on playing Celtic:
“It will be another good test for us.
“Celtic’s confidence will be on a high because they had a fantatic win in midweek. Our game at Rangers was at a better level than we had before, and that is what you want. You need a gradual increase in the intensity.”
For City supporters it’s a last chance to see how the team is coming together, with the possibility of Carlos Tevez making an appearance. Given his lack of training I doubt it will be more than a substitute’s role, but it would still give everyone a boost to see the Argentine in a City shirt.
We could certainly do with a lift after what was a thoroughly disappointing defensive display at Ibrox. There’s been much talk of us attempting to crack the top four this season, but after the shambles on Wednesday night, it’s hard to see us challenging Aresnal or even Villa and Everton.
Hughes spoke afterwards about focusing on the defending in training, but with many of the players disappearing for internationals next week, things need to be in place for the Celtic game. I hope it all comes together, but frankly I have doubts about Hughes’ defensive methods. The players don’t look comfortable and the opposition seem able to create chances to easily.
Of course the real test is next week at Blackburn, but if things don’t improve by then, the pressure on Hughes could soon become unbearable. He’s been allowed a free reign to bring in the players he wanted and set the team up as he liked, but with this comes a higher level of expectation. Excuses that it takes time for new players to gel will only pass muster for a short time in a season where Sheikh Mansour’s millions have given City fans every reason to be optimistic.
Prediction: City 3 Celtic 1.
Given – Pulled off a peach of a save prior to the second goal, when he was uncharacteristically caught in no-mans land. 6
Richards – Another game under his belt, and he now needs to forge a better understanding with Toure. 6
Toure – Arguably the pick of the defenders but that wasn’t saying a lot! 6
Dunne – Trademark challenges, but the Hughes method of defenders being left one on one with attackers still doesn’t suit him. 5
Bridge – Suffered a nightmare spell after half time with players continually running in behind him. 5
De Jong – Ventured further forward than we’re used to, but needed to be on his toes against Gers breaks. 6
Barry – A quieter game than those in South Africa, but still showed admirable composure. 6
Ireland – Box to box and took his goal superbly, though less effective once Barry and De Jong had departed. 7
Etuhu – Still doesn’t look good enough despite an improved display. 5
Robinho – At times he looked a class above everyone else even if not everything came off. 7
Adebayor – Some good touches and showed he can play lone striker role, even if his finishing is leaving a bit to be desired. 7
Petrov – A cracking goal for the Bulgarian who seems to be benefitting from pre-season more than anyone. 8
Zabaleta – All over the place positionally, this was not his finest hour. 4
Bellamy – A frustrating night for the former Celtic man, typified by just failing to connect properly with a Petrov pass for what could have been the winner. 6
Weiss – A late cameo that produced one beautiful run and one brilliant pass. 7
Man of the match: Petrov.