City chalk up Valencia win
Manchester City ended their pre-season programme on a high note with 2-0 victory over Spanish visitors Valencia at Eastlands.
Gareth Barry and Jo scored the goals in a low-key contest.
But manager Roberto Mancini and his players know judgement day is looming, with the Abu Dhabi United Group expecting some return on an investment that will once again top £100million if, as expected, James Milner joins from Aston Villa before the transfer deadline.
The spending power City have at their disposal could be assessed by the players they had on the bench.
Shay Given, Adam Johnson, Joleon Lescott, Patrick Vieira, Kolo Toure and Craig Bellamy, and that was not the full extent of it by any means.
Although club sources claimed the attempt to lure Milner north had got no further, Mancini was still able to name four new signings, including Yaya Toure, who is supposedly being paid in excess of £200,000-a-week.
Little wonder the Blues are third favourites for the title seven days away from the opening game of the Premier League season, their own eagerly-anticipated trip to Tottenham.
The difficulty is clearly going to be giving enough players time on the pitch.
Neither a rueful-looking Bellamy, nor Roque Santa Cruz, played any part, which will only serve to heighten speculation that their futures may lie elsewhere.
It would be a shame for Bellamy, at least given how much affection he is held in by the City faithful.
However, there are just too many players in Mancini’s squad.
Skipper Carlos Tevez and new boy David Silva – both of whom were given extra time off due to their presence at the World Cup – got only 35 minutes under their belts before making way for Shaun Wright-Phillips and Johnson.
In Tevez’s case, it was enough to almost give his side the perfect start when Micah Richards latched onto his brilliant chipped through-ball and volleyed goalwards, only for Miguel Angel Moya to make an excellent save.
Moya also denied Toure, whose 25-yard daisy-cutter was heading for the same corner.
It was Jerome Boateng who created the 27th-minute opener though, showing enough confidence to dart onto the right wing after being offered the chance to run from his central defensive base.
Boateng featured at full-back during the World Cup for Germany and is obviously a young player of huge versatility and no little skill given the manner in which he picked out Barry with a fine far-post cross that invited the headed finish.
City continued to dominate from that point on, without making their pressure tell.
Brazilian striker Jo came close to grabbing a second but his low shot bounced back off a post and there were only five minutes left when he eventually found the net with a close-range finish.
It was an acceptable way for City to conclude their pre-season programme, although Valencia created enough openings at times to suggest Mancini’s men still need to gel, which offers their early-season opponents some room for optimism.