‘It’s exhibition stuff this’


The words of Sky’s Martin Tyler on the hour mark after witnessing yet another fluid passage of inventive, flamboyant play by Manchester City. Last week’s 4-0 dismantling of Swansea was somewhat belittled in the media. It’s ‘only’ Swansea at home. Well Bolton are hardly mugs, especially at the Reebok, and City dominated with a style and panache that must have sent a shiver of fear down the spines of all naysayers. Their intelligent crisp passing was as attractive as Scarlett Johansson in a see-through blouse and they posed a constant – and varied – threat to a beleaguered Bolton back-line. Hell it was more than exhibition stuff – it was a ninety minute lesson in the history of art. Expressionist flair from Silva, cubist movement, right up to Art Dzeko.


Gaz Baz stepped up to the plate


With City’s enforcer De Jong missing, and Yaya Toure still moving around like a wardrobe on creaking casters, the man with the 1940’s Hollywood looks needed to step up and be counted today. And boy did he do that. He patrolled the midfield superbly, keeping things neat and simple and getting out of cul-de-sacs with a Pirlo pirouette. His goal was a wonder strike and thoroughly deserved but if it had hit a Bolton bumpkin in row Z he would still have been the unsung hero of the hour. Playing alongside Milner seems to trigger an automatic memory recall of his Villa days; halcyon times before he developed a phobia of crossing the halfway line.

I’ve previously bemoaned his lack of pace and his tendency to give away cheap free-kicks in dangerous areas – not to mention his delusions of being a forty-yard-spraying quarterback – but when he sticks to the basics Gaz Baz is a pivotal figure in what Noel Edmonds would probably annoyingly refer to as our ‘power three’.

Aguero’s movement is different class


Compared to the fireworks of last Monday, where he announced his arrival with a spectral flash of half-hour genius, it could be reasoned that today was a frustrating shift of near-misses and unrewarded graft for Kun. But his off-the-ball movement and unerring ability to find an acre of space where seemingly there was none was truly a wonder to behold. He was a dervish of activity throughout and his wily darting runs down the channels provided Silva with a productive outlet on numerous occasions. Whereas for the entire first half against Swansea the scheming Spaniard would look up and merely see a handful of colleagues simply staring back at him.

Better yet his team-mates instinctively orbited around him – Dzeko in particular – and, by sheer osmosis, followed suit.

I’ll probably be slated for saying this but the only other player who can find space with such ease – who has a footballing mind akin to a physics textbook – is a certain Wayne Rooney. You can’t teach it and it blesses just the few.


His off-the-ball movement and unerring ability to find an acre of space where seemingly there was none was truly a wonder to behold.

Kevin Davies has photographs of Mike Jones fornicating with a goat (allegedly)

For a while now I’ve suspected that Kevin Davies is a film buff who greatly admires the works of Ken Russell. This is undoubtedly why, every time the ball is hurled anywhere in the vicinity of his big lumbering frame, he attempts to re-enact the Oliver Reed and Alan Bates wrestling scene from Women In Love. Of course the ensuing free-kick is then mystifyingly given in his favour.

This leads me to another suspicion concerning the walking, talking GBH; that he has somehow procured an array of photographs of Premier League referees in ‘compromising’ situations and blackmails each accordingly. Clattenburg caught in a post-coital embrace with his wig? Webb blowing up a Ferguson sex-doll? The mind boggles.

According to official stats more free-kicks were awarded against Kevin Davies last season than any other player (115 of the blighters). After doing some quick sums I’ve totted up that – judging by today’s ratio of free-kicks to actual fouls committed by the thuggish, waddling oaf – that means he hauled down, elbowed, hacked, butchered, ran into, tangled with, and outright clobbered seven hundred and fifty-eight thousand players last term with complete impunity. Give or take the odd dig to the ribs.


Where Eagles Dire


Bolton’s solid back-line will ensure that the dreaded R word is not mentioned once at the Reebok. Additionally with their dogmatic midfield duo of Muamba and Reo-Coker, the ever-green guile of Petrov and the aforementioned prop forward up front Wanderers will hope to replicate last term’s mid-table finish. But any aspirations to trouble the Europa spots vanished in Newport during a pre-season friendly when the reliably brilliant Lee Chung-Yong suffered a double fracture of his lower right leg.

Coyle drafted in Chris Eagles from Burnley to provide strength in depth. Unfortunately he is now required to replace one of the most under-rated gems in the top flight. And, judging by today’s performance, he may well come up considerably short.