Manchester City saw off Steaua București in their Champions League qualifier at The Etihad Stadium, to land themselves a spot in the Champions League proper
If this Game was a Song…
Total Eclipse of the Hart
It was emotional! After years of being part of one of the most successful groups of men, he managed to hold back the tears and pull out a great performance to a stadium full of fans cheering his name. At the end he stood there in the middle and waved to the crowds and left for possibly the last time. I could barely hold back the tears—why did you have to leave Zayn? You were made for One Direction! You may have had a successful solo career so far, but you were better with the boys! Anyway, enough about that—Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart played probably his last game for the Blues on the 24th of August in a Champions League qualifier. The fans twice sang “stand up if you love Joe Hart,” as the whole stadium rose to their feet to clap the goalkeeper during the match in a strangely moving display that is rarely seen in football.
City announced the signing of goalkeeper Claudio Bravo from Barcelona on Thursday afternoon, wasting no time, and he will take over from Hart as City’s number one goalkeeper. There’s little doubt that the goalkeeper will be up to the job as he’s performed consistently well for Barcelona over the last couple of seasons, but this will not stop fans feeling a little down about Hart’s demise. Hart has been told that he is free to leave the club, but interest from other clubs has fallen in the last few days. Everton manager Ronald Koeman has said now that they now have “no interest” in England’s number one anymore, and no other team seems to have appeared on the scene. Of course Hart could stay and fight for his place; he’s done it before and fought off competition from Kasper Schmeichel, Shay Given, and Costel Pantilimon, but this time it seems a little more clear-cut that his days are numbered.
Over before it began
It was evident before the game that City had already won the tie and would find themselves in pot two of the Champions League proper draw. City had won the away leg 5-0 thanks to a Sergio Agüero hat-trick (who also missed two penalties). With this in mind, Pep Guardiola rotated his squad and gave a few players a chance for the second leg. He rested Sergio Agüero and played Kelechi Iheanacho who was impressive, running tirelessly all game. Youngsters Pablo Maffeo, Tosin Adarabioyo and Angelino all featured in the game too and did not look out of place (although Maffeo did struggle in the first half), as Yaya Touré and Fabian Delph were also re-introduced into the team. The game was not the most exciting in the world, but Delph broke the deadlock with a great header as Jesús Navas deliciously crossed the ball to him awaiting in the box.
My Man of the Match was chosen for two reasons: One that he played very well, scoring an excellent goal, and the other reason was because I’ve been trying my hardest over the last eight months of match reports to get this delphinoise potato pun in there. Fabian Delph has been rejuvenated under Pep Guardiola as his high energy style of play suits the team perfectly, and Guardiola how Delph, can play at fullback, in centre midfield, or out on the wing.
But Harry, I hear you cry, you cannot just call someone a dauphinoise potato for no reason just to make a pun. Don’t worry—this all makes sense. Human beings will make themselves thousands of meals in their lifetimes and these meals vary quite a lot: There might be some chicken, some lamb, some sausages, or whatever you vegetarian folk have—but usually there is a potato present. The potato is a constant. Yes, sometimes it has a day off and we throw in some rice, pasta or a bloody big piece of lasagne, but generally speaking we can always rely on the potato to be there. It is consistent, it rarely lets us down, and although it’s not the star of the meal, it is essential. Just like Fabian Delph. If Fabian Delph’s agent is reading this right now, please do get in contact if he is upset about his comparison to a potato, and don’t sue me.