I found myself looking forward to this afternoon’s game, believing that no matter what the result it was something of a free hit. The much discussed injury list affecting the hammers at the moment in combination with Manchester City’s excellent start to the season under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola meant that all but the most ardent die-hard and optimistic Irons expected nothing from this afternoons encounter, but just hoped to see some positives coming from the performance.
Last season I started to do these before away games and the plan is to continue to do so this term.
This week I am indebted to @PoppyPowerz who, as a Man City devotee, has kindly offered to answer my questions.
Q. 1: City have made a fabulous start and look to be playing with greater freedom than in recent years; is that the way you see it?
A: I actually see it as a proper freedom; we seem to have adapted to Pep’s style, his methods – and are relishing in the opportunity to go out and express ourselves.
Q 2: Mancini was clearly loved by the fans. Did they feel the same about Pellegrini? Were there rumblings about how the news broke of Pellegrini’s end of tenure and do you feel these impacted on the team last season?
A: The opinion on Pellegrini was very split; by some he was loved, by others not so. It was almost a split down the middle. I’m not sure we announced it at the right time or whether it impacted on the team but we have moved on!
Q 3: Are City fans genuinely excited by the arrival of Guardiola? What are the expectations? Is it a win the title or he’s a failure mentality at City, as would be the case at Chelsea for example?
If the first half performance against Bournemouth was a 3/10, this one against Astra merited a 1 – for turning up. Except we didn’t.
Looking at the team sheet before the game did not exactly set the pulse racing and, if any flicker of pulse was ignited pre-match, it was most certainly extinguished by 45 minutes. We were dreadful.
Tore started right with Antonio on the left. Why? This didn’t work on Saturday and by just past the 30 minute mark, Bilic had dispensed with the experiment on the European stage too. Frankly though, in the first period, neither approach resulted in a wide man getting to the bye-line and delivering anything into the box.
Calleri missed another sitter (for a supposed centre-forward) but in truth we created next to nothing against our resolute and entirely more canny Romanian opposition.
Håvard Nordtveit was allegedly in the starting 11 but I don’t recall a single worthwhile contribution from him in those first 45 minutes. Indeed, he was subbed at half time but replaced by Valencia. Again, the expectation with his arrival was not exactly soaring and so it came to pass. Another inept and ineffective display from the Ecuadorian whose days are surely numbered in the claret and blue.