Manchester City 2 Hull City 0 match report: Struggling Manchester City show that they are still a work in progress

Manuel Pellegrini refuses to hide behind the gloss and calls for a big improvement after his team labour to put away a workmanlike Hull

the Etihad stadium

There are lies, damned lies and 2-0 wins. When the final whistle went, one team went over to the section where their supporters stood to applaud them. That team was Hull City. The remainder of the stadium was largely empty. The winners had long since sloped off to the car parks.

There are two ways to look at this result. One would be to reach for the cliché that these chiselled-out victories are the kind that 'wins championships'. The other is to say that they are the kind that paper over cracks. The truth is probably somewhere in between.

Manuel Pellegrini's first game in charge of Manchester City suggested a seamless transition. The football was fluid and flawless and Newcastle could have conceded many more than four goals. Last Sunday's defeat at Cardiff and this often laboured affair suggested that Pellegrini's City is very definitely a work in progress and that Newcastle might just be terrible away from St James' Park.

Presumably on the grounds that you should attack those who threaten you most – he is very complimentary about Arsène Wenger these days – Jose Mourinho had chosen this moment to describe Manchester City as "economic sharks".

Once the irony of being accused of plundering the transfer market by a manager of Chelsea had faded, came the realisation that these were no Great Whites. Mostly, City resembled basking sharks, the great creatures that can sometimes be seen wallowing off the coast of Cornwall, threatening nothing larger than plankton.

Manchester City managed to be both sluggish and skittish and Hull might have scored twice before the interval. They did not and what followed was inevitable. The most famous half-time at the Etihad had seen Hull's then manager, Phil Brown, keep his side on the pitch, 4-0 down, and lecture them in public. Now, it was Pellegrini who had the thinking and talking to do. When the teams walked off, it had been to a smatter of jeers.

He responded by removing Edin Dzeko and replacing him with one of his own signings, Alvaro Negredo, who almost immediately produced one of the worst headers the Etihad could have seen from a recognised striker. It was not typical. What gave Negredo the edge for Seville in La Liga was his ability in the air. He had already scored twice in as many games, although the one against Newcastle had been ruled out, probably wrongly. Now came a fabulous deep cross from Pablo Zabaleta and the header was worthy of the delivery.

A minute before the end came another piece of the shimmering skill that Manchester City's money buys. James Chester made a foul on the edge of his own area and Yaya Touré, left, accepted the invitation to find the top corner of Allan McGregor's net.

Pellegrini did not try to hide behind the gloss. "The most important thing is the points but I think we must improve," he said. "We were without movement and we need to try to be a dangerous team. Maybe the defeat at Cardiff meant we lacked trust in the first half but I knew the Premier League would be hard. I did not expect all the games to be the same as Newcastle."

Steve Bruce is a far more sophisticated manager than his public image, which is all four-four-two and pints of ale in the Wallsend Workmen's Club. At Wigan he had tapped markets in South America and Egypt and been more successful than Roberto Martinez, albeit on a larger budget.

His time at Manchester United not only earned him abuse here, it would have taught him that smaller clubs who try to eke out a point in the great arenas rarely succeed. Hull came to attack.

They were measured in their manager's arm movements. When Sone Aluko, who had sprinted clean through, screwed his shot wide, Bruce's hands hid his face. Then they punched the air as Danny Graham stretched out to meet Robbie Brady's low, curving cross but the only arm movement that mattered was the linesman signalling offside. They were cupped to his ears when Bruce responded to chants of "You fat bastard".

"We have to enjoy these days," said Bruce. "It is a long, tough, hard slog to get out of the Championship so why don't we just relish it in these stadiums? Be bold and see if we can stay in this division."

If it was clear why Pellegrini was attempting to reinforce his defence with Martin Demichelis and it was obvious why Hull, who have not scored from open play in three matches, are searching desperately for that rarest of things, a cheap, effective centre-forward.

"Our Achilles heel is the same as it was in the Championship," said Bruce. "Can we score enough? It is easy to say we need a striker that will get us 12-15 goals but for those strikers who can make a difference there will be stiff competition and high prices."

The price of not getting one, is, however, likely to be far higher.

Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Hart; Zabaleta, Lescott, Nastasic, Kolarov; Fernandinho, Toure; Navas, Aguero (Milner, 76), Silva (Silva 66); Dzeko (Negredo, h-t).

Hull(4-4-2): McGregor; Elmohamady, Chester, Davies, Figueroa; Koren (Boyd, 75), Livermore, Huddlestone, Brady; Aluko (Quinn, 70), Graham.

Referee: Phil Dowd

Man of the match: Tom Huddlestone (Hull)

people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
voicesBy the man who has
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?