Aguero puts stereotype on ice with cool display
Manchester City 3 Fulham 0
The Etihad Stadium
Monday 06 February 2012
The footballing equivalent of Corporal Jones waving his bayonet and shouting "They don't like it up 'em, Mr Mainwaring" is the assertion that a foreign player will fold every time he feels a fleck of snow on his cheek.
In Sergio Aguero's native Argentina, there are glaciers and fjords that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would recognise. Madrid, where he spent five years, can be unforgivingly cold in winter. Saturday's derby between Real Madrid and Getafe was played in excruciating conditions.
The February snow was no more of a barrier to Aguero than Fulham's back four. His was a show of skill, balance and commitment that the luckless Chris Baird will not wish to recall – Baird conceded a dubious penalty to Adam Johnson which his manager, Martin Jol, described as "the most beautiful dive I have ever seen" and then an own goal.
Aguero could be that rarest of creatures, a truly big-money transfer who succeeds in the Premier League. Starting with Juan Sebastian Veron's fateful move from Lazio to Manchester United, there have been eight transfers of around £30m. Only one, Rio Ferdinand, can be said to have been an undiluted success. Dimitar Berbatov has had his moments but the rest look like abject wastes of somebody's money.
For Aguero's opponents, the worry is that the boy from Quilmes has only just touched base camp in his career. "I think he knows he can do better," said Manchester City's keeper, Joe Hart, who given how little he had to do was probably the coldest man at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday night. "He is one of the best players in the Premier League but I do think he has a lot more to offer and it is going to be awesome for Manchester City when he does. He is younger than me and, if I am honest, that shocks me a little."
Hart is 24. Bobby Moore was 22 when he captained England for the first time in 1963 and should Fabio Capello seek a replacement for John Terry who fulfils the first rule of captaincy – to be guaranteed one's place – then Hart might be as good a choice as anyone.
"Would you take it?" he asked. "I am flattered to be linked with it but I think anyone who is having a consistent run in the England side is being linked with it. There are a lot stronger candidates than myself."
For a while the pressure that had been building on Roberto Mancini's squad since Tuesday night's customary defeat at Everton eased a little. Perhaps more significant than adapting to the English weather is the fact that at both Independiente and Atletico Madrid Aguero's only significant piece of silverware is a Europa League, won against Fulham two years ago.
With the Touré brothers taking Ivory Coast to the semi-finals of the African Cup of Nations, Edin Dzeko was the only one of Mancini's starting line-up with experience of winning a major championship.
"It was really important to start winning again," said Hart. "Of course we are under pressure. You have everyone knocking for that top spot but it is not the kind of pressure that is going to make us crumble. It is the pressure that you get from being at the top of your game."
Man City: HART 6/10; RICHARDS 6; LESCOTT 6; SAVIC 6; KOLAROV 6; A JOHNSON 7; BARRY 7; NASRI 5; SILVA 7; AGUERO 8; DZEKO 6
Fulham: SCHWARZER 7; BAIRD 5; HANGELAND 6 SENDEROS 5; KELLY 6; DAVIES 6; MURPHY 6; ETUHU 5; DUFF 5; DEMBELE 5; DEMPSEY 6
Scorers: Manchester City Aguero pen 10, Baird og 30, Dzeko 72.
Substitutes: Man City Milner 6 (Nasri, 55), De Jong (Aguero, 79), Pizarro (A Johnson, 89). Fulham Ruiz 5 (Etuhu, 68), J Riise (Senderos, 73), Gecov (Dembele, 85).
Booked: Man City Kolarov. Fulham Senderos, Dembele, Baird. Man of the match Aguero. Match rating 6/10. Possession: Man City 53% Fulham 47%.
Attempts on target: Man City 10 Fulham 8.
Referee M Dean (Wirral). Attendance 46,963.
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