Premier League football returned to the Etihad Stadium yesterday, giving journalists the chance to get their teeth stuck into analysing Pep Guardiola’s coveted style of play.
City dominated possession for the majority of the 2-1 win over David Moyes’ Sunderland, but it was former United man Paddy McNair’s own goal three minutes from time that secured the win.
Despite the lack of goals that City’s dominance deserved, the press had plenty to analyse in what was a fascinating display of Guardiola’s tactical ingenuity.
The Telegraphs’ James Ducker gave his best shot at unpicking the manager’s tactics – not an easy feat given the complexities of the football!
“City set out in a nominal 4-2-3-1 but the system underwent more change than a supermodel’s wardrobe. Most noticeable was Guardiola’s insistence that the full-backs, Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy, push up and inside, effectively flanking Fernandinho to form a compact three ahead of centre-halves John Stones and Aleksandar Kolarov," he wrote.
“David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne were central playmakers behind Sergio Aguero and the width came from Raheem Sterling and Nolito. The formation was invariably a sort of 2-3-4-1 but became a 2-3-2-3 at times. “
Tactics were also on the mind of ESPN’s Iain Macintosh, who was impressed by the way City switched between formations in and out of possession.
He said: “Now the world could see what Guardiola planned to bring to the Premier League. It was fast, it was fluid and, for much of the first half, it completely flummoxed Sunderland.
“City's formation changed dramatically in and out of possession, two shapes that had as much in common with each other as Optimus Prime the warrior-robot and Optimus Prime the run-of-the-mill red juggernaut.
“When City were out of possession (which didn't happen very often) they were relatively orthodox with a back four, a middle three, helpful wide men and that trademark Guardiola intense press that always follows the loss of the ball.
“In possession, it was a very different story. Full-backs Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna moved into the centre of midfield. On the left and the right, Nolito and Raheem Sterling went high and wide to try to stretch Sunderland to their breaking point.”
Elsewhere, Bleacher Report’s Tom Sunderland picked out two England men to heap praise on from Saturday’s opening day win.
“Although City's penetration levels simmered following the early opener, the Black Cats were struggling to impose themselves at all in the opposition half, thanks largely to the form of Stones,” he wrote.
“After a summer of speculation regarding his future at the Etihad Stadium, Sterling was having a great impact against Sunderland's defence, and he almost managed to tee up Aguero for a second on the hour mark.”
That’s all for today’s post-match media reaction. Keep your eye on mancity.com and @ManCity for all the latest developments.