Too much can be read into one match, the warning goes, but it was still a thrilling way to start. José Mourinho’s team will provide much more robust opponents than West Brom but, on this evidence, the champions may need to put on one of their defensive masterclasses.
His second goal was a beauty and when Touré plays with this almost nonchalant brilliance it makes it feel slightly bizarre his involvement was ever in doubt. Kompany’s goal came from a Silva corner, going in off the captain’s shoulder, and City looked like a team in a hurry to get their title back.
Agüero was restricted to a substitute’s place because of his lack of match fitness but, even without their goal-scorer extraordinaire, City delivered a performance that was utterly compelling.
The breakthrough came after nine minutes when Navas cut the ball back into Touré’s path and the Ivorian’s shot flicked off two players before trundling past Myhill almost in slow motion.
“It was the wrong choice and sometimes, as manager, you have to accept the responsibility,” he said. “If anyone is criticised, it has to be me.”
When they pass the ball with this kind of expertise they certainly make it tempting to believe they must have an outstanding chance of taking the title back from Chelsea and the frightening thing, perhaps, for their rivals is that Sergio Agüero played only a peripheral role in this victory.
They were two ahead inside the first 24 minutes and, if anything, it was probably just a surprise there were no more goals once Vincent Kompany added the third just before the hour. David Silva was exhilarating and there was the hard evidence here why City were so determined Yaya Touré should not be cut free when the Ivorian’s agent was noisily speculating about a transfer last season.
Touré was substituted before the end because of a slight twinge in his groin but Pellegrini did not seem too concerned it might prevent his midfielder from playing against Chelsea on Sunday. Touré’s clever little pass, with the outside of his boot, to set up the one-two with Wilfried Bony, was played perfectly.
His shot was curled into the top corner and even at that early stage, just past the midway point of the first half, it felt like the match had already become an exercise in damage limitation for West Brom. West Brom were demoralised by the superiority of their opponents and it must have been a sobering evening for Salomón Rondón, watching from the stand after completing his £12m transfer from Zenit St Petersburg earlier in the day.
Among all the superlatives that Manchester City’s performance deserves, perhaps there should be a note of caution attached given we are only in the embryonic stages of the Premier League season. The public announcer was too quick to declare Touré as the scorer. Ultimately, though, it did not matter a great deal.. Aleksandar Kolarov and Bacary Sagna pushed forward from the full-back positions and Pulis must have been startled how straightforward it was for City during those passages of play when the statistics showed the away side had 80% of possession. City already look better than last season and it is certainly going to be fun finding out if they can continue to play with so much vibrancy.
His system certainly played into City’s hands and Touré had far too much space for his goal as he advanced into the kind of range, 20 yards from goal, where he can be so lethal on his right foot. Touré strolled around imperiously, making everything look so preposterously easy, and the only minor disappointment for City, perhaps, was that Raheem Sterling could not mark his debut with a goal. Silva had applied the subtlest of touches as the shot flew under his foot and that little nick took the ball through Craig Dawson’s legs, with the second deflection wrong-footing Myhill.
Silva tormented his opponents even when Tony Pulis brought on Claudio Yacob in the second half to man-mark him and, presumably, the Premier League’s dubious goals panel will award him the opening goal. The most expensive Englishman in the league ran clear at the end of the first half only for Boaz Myhill to deny him with a fine one-handed save. Touré looked jaded at times last season, a legacy of back-to-back tournaments in the World Cup and the Africa Cup of Nations but he appears to have been rejuvenated by a lengthy summer break.
It was too much, plainly, for West Brom and Pulis blamed himself for operating with a 4-4-2 formation, in his desire to partner Saido Berahino with Rickie Lambert, rather than having an extra man in midfield.
Sterling played his part and no one should be left in the slightest doubt he has had a summer upgrade. He and Jesús Navas flitted in dangerously from the wings, stretching the play with their width and speed
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