Experienced Drenched Stars might have been a better epithet than Elite Development Squad but then again what’s in a name?
Led by Attilio Lombardo, the jack-in-the-box, never sit still, Italian coach who has been on Roberto Mancini’s staff since day one at City, the Blues wheeled out the majority of the returning Euro 2012 players who had not been back in training long enough to catch the plane for the successful tour of Asia.
Joe Hart, Joleon Lescott and James Milner from the England summer camp were joined by Frenchmen Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri with Nigel De Jong adding a Dutch flavour to a high-powered unit
...Oldham 2 City 1
There was no David Silva or Mario Balotelli who both only arrived back to Carrington this week but there was a rare outing in a City shirt for Roque Santa Cruz, the Paraguayan international who has played only 20 times for the Blues since his move from Blackburn some three years ago. The 30-year-old spent last season on loan in Spain at Betis.
So it was the seasoned professionals, with no minutes under the belts since the Euros, took their allotted place alongside the lesser known names Shay Facey, Reece Wabara, and Mario Jelovic.
And the result was a 2-1 defeat with an Oldham side managed by Paul Dickov that has held its own comfortably in League One these past two seasons despite a small squad and a smaller budget than many of the down-on-their-luck, big-named sides they compete against.
Compete is the proper word to associate with Dickov who hardly ever knew the meaning of the word ‘friendly’ as a player and is currently attempting – with some success if this match is an indication - to imbue his charges with the same attitude.
There was plenty of endeavour on a humid and wet night and enough goalmouth action to stir a crowd of 6589 which will hopefully have helped with the cash flow at Boundary Park.
Oldham’s only real first half effort on goal against the City seniors resulted in a well-taken goal by Robbie Simpson who drilled an angled effort beyond Hart.
Thereafter a City side caught cold bossed the contest. Jelavic missed from half a dozen yards when he ought to have scored then hit the post whilst and Nasri and Milner scorched efforts just wide of the target
...Oldham 2 City 1
The second half saw all the first team regulars disappear and replaced by the regular EDS lads – those who were not in China and Malaysia that is - but not before Santa Cruz had levelled matters after 53mins.
Albert Rusnak, one of the young replacements, could have won it in the 68th minute but Alex Cisak, who caught the eye as well as the ball, made an impressive stop. Rusnak later had a shot deflected against the frame of the goal. They were costly misses as Grounds won the game for Oldham in injury time
DeJong was last of the big names to depart and his continued presence was great for the crowd who enjoyed his lusty jousts with Wesolowski and Furman two terriers in the Oldham midfield who had been talking all week to boss Dickov about their possible coming encounter with our Nige.
Mancini will now continue with what is a parallel pre-season for two sections of the squad.
He will seek more game time for the Euro returnees before the whole squad comes together ahead of the Community Shield encounter with Chelsea - Micah Richards’ return will depend upon the success or otherwise of Team GB’s quest for gold at the Olympics.
City (start) Hart, Wabara, Clichy, Facey, McGivern, Lescott, Milner, De Jong (capt), Santa Cruz, Nasri, Jelavic. Subs used: Kennedy, Lawlor, Leigh, Hiwula, Huws, Drury, Rusnak, Bunn, Glendon.
Oldham (start) Cisak, Byrne, Grounds, Tarkowski, M’Voto, Wesolowski, Furman, Trialist, Simpson, M’Changama, Croft.
6589 (3048 from City)