Manchester City v West Ham United: Alvaro Negredo the enforcer takes complete control as king of his domain

 

Sam Allardyce teams are not meant to be about timidity and deference but that is precisely what West Ham United presented yesterday at the Etihad Stadium. This is Alvaro Negredo’s backyard, his home turf, and West Ham allowed him to exert his  proprietorial authority  with barely a whimper of resistance.

Imported players tend to take time to settle and yet Negredo has, with instant effect, made the Etihad  Stadium his own personal patch. City, as everyone knows, have been ferocious at home this season. Edin Dzeko’s second was their 59th goal in their 15th home game this season. With most of the bottom half of the Premier League still to come here in the second half of the season – including, ominously, West Ham United on the final day – they could well make it into three figures.

City do have finer players than Negredo, players who can claim to be among the world’s best, as Yaya Touré, David Silva and Sergio Aguero can. Negredo, though, is something different. He is City’s attack leader, their forward enforcer, who lets the opposition know from the very start that this is his patch and his rules apply here.

This was Negredo’s second hat-trick of the season, the first coming against CSKA Moscow two months ago. Both hat-tricks form part of his astonishing recent run at the Etihad – 14 goals in his last 11 home appearances, not all of them from the start.

Some of those goals, certainly, were more important than these. There was his game-turning equaliser in the 3-1 win against Everton – their opponents’ first league defeat of the season. There was his winner, just before the half-time break, in the Boxing Day classic against Liverpool. The pursuit of the title, of course, is more important than the League Cup, but this performance was more than enough to send City to Wembley.

 

It took only 12 minutes for Negredo to impose himself, to show the West Ham defence that leaving a long straight pass from midfield – as they did – was not an option. With excellent control and clarity, Negredo waited for the ball and volleyed it into the far bottom corner.

Negredo has done most of his best work alongside Sergio Aguero – as anyone would – but his unlikely partnership with Dzeko made its third straight appearance, with its biggest success yet. Neither are natural link-men, and City have struggled with it before, but it was an excellent one-two in midfield that set up Negredo’s second. Dzeko came under no real pressure from Roger Johnson and threaded a pass through to Negredo. His first touch took it away from George McCartney, his second hit it into the bottom corner.

The third goal, City’s fourth, required nothing more than one clean strike. West Ham’s defending was dismal – they played as if  they had no idea that Manchester City might be quite useful with the ball – and Negredo, even having scored two, was allowed to stand freely in the box following a corner. The ball ended up at his feet and all he had to do was aim and fire.

There was not a single part of the pitch that was not Negredo’s private property. Early on, he charged back into City’s half for an athletic interception of a rare West Ham attack. Just before the break, when most players were catching their breadth, he nicked it off Modibo Maiga in the box.

Negredo was eventually taken off, with 11 minutes left. City have a rather more difficult encounter at St James’ Park on Sunday afternoon. The damage, the brutal imposition, the fierce, bullying reminder of exactly who is in charge at the Etihad Stadium, had already been done.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz