Manchester City may have played some captivating football en route to leading the embryonic Premier League table with six points and seven goals from two games, but the suspicion is that, when he studied the table yesterday morning, Roberto Mancini looked at the goals-against column and frowned. Two goals against is two too many.
His players, though, have enjoyed being let off the leash. Gareth Barry, who thumped in the second goal in Sunday's 3-2 defeat of Bolton, said: "Hopefully we'll be entertainers. We'd like to keep on scoring goals. We spoke about being defensively solid last season, so we need to try and keep them out at the back. But, if we can add goals, we don't mind entertaining as well.
"We are more attack-minded this year with the players who have come in giving the manager great options. He hasn't moved away from the fact you always need to start with clean sheets – to win the title you have to keep them – but if we can add to the goals tally at the same time, we can go far."
City's next match is at White Hart Lane where, last season, they defended for a goalless draw in the campaign's opening match. "If we can put in a good performance against Spurs, it will show how far we've come," added Barry. "Then people may see us in a different light – but we don't worry what people are thinking too much."
This season's start has been far more impressive than a year ago when City took five points, and scored four goals, in their opening four matches. "We wanted to prove we were title contenders from the off," said the England midfielder. "We now have a really tough one at Spurs, but we go with confidence high.
"It's great playing in a team like this. We had quality on the pitch at Bolton, but look at the quality we had on the bench and even some of the players who weren't there. The quality is here and it's here in numbers. The more you have, the easier it can become."
Indeed. Carlos Tevez and Adam Johnson began on the bench at the Reebok, Mario Balotelli and Gaël Clichy never left it, and Nigel de Jong was absent injured. "It's fantastic to know you have a player like Carlos waiting to come on if things aren't going to plan," said Barry.
But there is room for improvement. City's seven goals have come from 43 attempts. Doubtless the perfectionist Mancini will be muttering darkly about his players' conversion rate in attack as well as their generosity in defence.Reuse content