Robin Sainty: Looks like we’re only making plans for Nigel...
Never has Stuart Webber’s motto “Ignore the noise” seemed more appropriate.
In the week leading up to the trip to Liverpool, City fans were treated to a welter of patronising, inaccurate comments about their club from pundits across the media, and that was just from the ones who'd bothered to do a modicum of research about the Canaries.
That of course didn't include the perpetual chip bearer Danny Mills, who treated Sky viewers to the stunning insight that City had "played some good football on occasions last season" but hadn't strengthened their squad, although Sheffield United fans would have been even more impressed to hear the nabob of nonsense describe them as a long ball team with no mention of their innovative use of overlapping centre backs (presumably because that would have required actually doing some fact-finding work).
Let's be clear; I have no issue with pundits predicting that City won't survive at this level, just the fact that so many of them seem to know so little about them, with the execrable TalkSport as ever plumbing the depths of lazy journalism by referring to City's manager as Nigel Farke.
Of course, the prophets of doom would have been licking their lips at half-time on Friday, and in all fairness I think that most of us were slightly concerned about a confidence-sapping hammering, but I eventually walked away from Anfield feeling immensely proud both of City's young team, who had to learn some hard lessons but visibly grew as the game went on, and the travelling support who were absolutely immense and were there long after the home stands had emptied, applauding Daniel Farke and his players.
Realistically, City were much too open in the first half and will have learnt that quality teams are considerably more ruthless on the break than sides in the Championship. Whilst Liverpool certainly had the benefit of a few bits of luck early on and at one point led 3-0, having produced only two efforts on target, this was a salutary lesson for City, but generally speaking they adapted well.
Both full-backs recovered from difficult starts to show that they won't be overawed by this level of football, while Ben Godfrey showed once again just what a tremendous prospect he is, and Todd Cantwell continued his impressive pre-season form.
Emi Buendia will have learnt that he will not be given as much time on the ball at this level, but grew into the game and produced two superb through balls, one of which produced Teemu Pukki's goal, as the Finn topped off a performance which saw his clever movement constantly troubling Liverpool's back four.
However, City's man of the match was undoubtedly Tim Krul, who produced a string of high class saves and both handled and kicked with confidence to defy those who expected Ralf Färhmann to replace him.
So what have we really learnt? The answer is, nothing conclusive at such an early stage. Realistically, City will probably face only one other team as high quality as Liverpool in Manchester City, but we still need to see how they perform against those outside the elite, because that is what their fate will depend upon.
Inevitably there were plenty of comparisons between the nature of City's defeat and those of other teams, but ultimately that's a pretty meaningless exercise at this point with the league still settling down, although that process will be accelerated by the earlier end to the transfer window.
What can be said with confidence is that when Ibrahim Amadou, Timm Klose and Christoph Zimmermann are available City should tighten up defensively, and there is little doubt that they have plenty of potency going forward, with the usual sharp interplay to create space.
Overall there were lots of positives, but they will not distract Farke from the negatives and this afternoon's game should show how much has been learnt.
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