Manchester City started their Premier League campaign in scintillating fashion on Monday with a stylish 4-0 win at home to 10-man Newcastle United that will ring alarm bells for the rest of their title rivals.
With City spending about ￡90 million (US$141 million) on attacking talent for new manager Manuel Pellegrini, it was notable all the goals came from players in last season’s squad — David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri.
Any sense of dressing room unrest last season under Roberto Mancini had evaporated as Pellegrini’s charges, assisted by new boys Fernandinho and Jesus Navas, showed they had listened to his call for an attractive, attacking style of play.
“The most pleasing aspect is way the team played for 90 minutes,” the Chilean told a press conference. “We had from the beginning the attitude to play as an aggressive team, offensive team. First, always the most important thing is to win, but after is the way we did it today.”
Last season’s runners-up took just six minutes to open the scoring with Silva heading in after Steven Taylor failed to deal with Edin Dzeko’s shot across the goal.
They doubled their lead on 22 minutes when a low shot from Aguero, set up by a neat flick from Dzeko, went in off the far post.
City’s job was made even easier just before the stroke of halftime when defender Taylor was sent off after swinging an arm at Aguero and they made the man advantage count five minutes after the break with Toure’s sizzling free-kick.
The hosts made it four on 75 minutes when substitute Samir Nasri slotted home and could have had many more if it had not been for some excellent saves by Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul as they sent a clear message of intent to their title rivals.
The main victim of Krul’s dives and parries was the outstanding Dzeko, who seemed to have been given a new lease of life after some below-par showings under Mancini and the Bosnian was unlucky not to score from a host of chances he conjured.
“The new manager has come in and given us something different, and given me more confidence,” Dzeko, a towering figure in front of the slight and pacy trio of Aguero, Silva and Navas, told Sky Sports.
Pellegrini reckoned this would be just the start of things for the striker.
“I am sure we are going to see this season the Edin Dzeko that Manchester City bought two seasons ago,” he said. “I think this is a very important player.”
The only blot on the day for City was the sight of captain Vincent Kompany limping off with what looked like a groin problem and Pellegrini said it was too soon to tell how long he could be sidelined.
With champions Manchester United thumping Swansea City 4-1 in their opener on Saturday and Chelsea beating Hull City 2-0 on Sunday, City were keen to demonstrate that they too meant business.
Their cause was helped by hapless Newcastle defender Taylor, who only half cleared Dzeko’s shot that set up Silva’s opener, was outpaced by Aguero for the second and appeared to handball another Aguero effort, before being sent from the field before halftime.
The visitors, who had left out midfielder Yohan Cabaye after an approach from Arsenal, also lost Jonas Gutierrez to injury just before the break to make the task of playing a whole second half against a hungry City with 10 men even more daunting.
Not one to leap around manically like his predecessor Mancini, Pellegrini celebrated the goals with dignified fist pumps, but inside he must have been jumping up and down at the uplifting sight of his team’s eye-catching moves and dominance.
The entire stadium was on its feet when Toure netted the hosts’ third with a thumping free-kick over the wall and out of the reach of Krul.
Newcastle’s woeful defending was exposed yet again with 15 minutes to go when Nasri, who had come on for the lively Aguero on the hour-mark, had plenty of space to send in a low left-footed shot.
“After the sending off, obviously we were just digging in,” Newcastle manager Alan Pardew told a press conference. “The spirit and commitment the guys showed in the second half, I was actually quite proud of them. These teams in terms of finance and quality make it very difficult for the rest of us in the Premier League ... There will be better teams than us who will struggle at this ground, that’s for sure.”
Considering new signing Alvaro Negredo, the Spain striker who scored four goals in his final La Liga game for Sevilla, was only introduced 10 minutes from time and had a goal wrongly disallowed for offside, City fans have good reason to believe there could be plenty more goalfests to come this season.