Manchester City 2 West Ham 0 match report: No panic as City allowed a final-day stroll to second Premier League title in three years

Vincent Kompany and Samir Nasri scored for City in victory at the Etihad

Etihad Stadium

Some triumphs are experienced in the white heat of a last-minute goal, like the one scored by Sergio Aguero two years ago and others, like this final step to winning the league title, can be savoured like the proverbial bottle of fine wine, safe in the knowledge that the outcome is assured.

At Manchester City, where calamity was once only a heartbeat away, this was as close to a stroll to the title that they could have imagined on the day Liverpool were undone by Chelsea and City assumed the pole position in the title race. Manuel Pellegrini’s team controlled the game from beginning to end against a West Ham team so bereft of ambition and drive, one wonders where it was a struggle for them to get off the team bus.

Nevertheless, this City team have shown maturity and composure to close the deal. This is undoubtedly the best squad in the Premier League, but in a season when old certainties have splintered, nowhere more so than across town, they have not been allowed to cruise to the title until the last day. It has been a triumph that they have had to carve out game by game.

From Samir Nasri’s 39th-minute goal, and with Liverpool then trailing to Newcastle, the stadium calmed down and enjoyed the ride. Four minutes after half-time, Vincent Kompany scored the second and there was a margin for error that not even an attack of that condition formerly known as “Cityitis” could erode. Yet it is a measure of how relatively new to this kind of success the club is in the modern era that the final whistle precipitated a full-blown pitch invasion.

 

They never invaded the pitch at Old Trafford in those salad days when the Premier League trophy came back season after season, but there is still the mild sense of disbelief, six years after Sheikh Mansour took over, that this is really happening to City. If Pellegrini hits the club’s target of five trophies in five years, and he is two up already, then perhaps an air of complacency will set in. As things stand, it feels a long way off.

Samir Nasri fires City ahead at the Etihad Stadium Samir Nasri fires City ahead at the Etihad Stadium This was only the second trophy of his career, but the City manager kept it low-key, as one would expect of him, edging away from the champagne spraying lest it wreck his club suit. Anointed as City’s charming man by the fans, he did not want to end up without a stitch to wear. In the end, Kompany and Yaya Toure had to drag their manager away from a Sky Sports interview to give him the traditional celebratory bumps.

This must be what the City hierarchy had in mind when they launched the “holistic” approach in the wake of Roberto Mancini’s departure last summer, an admittedly brave sortie into the contemporary lexicon in a sport wedded to older values. If they meant a manager who did not wish to fight his own players in training then they picked the right man, and his popularity was reflected in the way his players sought him out at the end.

As against Aston Villa last week, this was another game in which it paid for City to be patient and await the inevitable crack in a West Ham defence that was too lightweight and way too under-incentivised to hold out all afternoon. Even so, the visitors had not done a bad job by the time that Nasri looked up from his umpteenth possession on the edge of the West Ham area and elected to sweep a shot past Adrian, who might have done better, and into the far corner.

Vincent Kompany (right) celebrates his goal with Yaya Toure Vincent Kompany (right) celebrates his goal with Yaya Toure In midfield Toure was superb, his dominance epitomised by the moment he chased down Mohamed Diame and heaved the Senegalese midfielder off the ball. David Silva, the lock-picker of opposition defences, hit the post in time added on at the end of the first half with a shot that bounced off Andy Carroll.

That second goal was coming and it arrived from a City corner that Carroll got into a muddle trying to clear and ended up sending back towards his own goal where Kompany could pick his spot. From then on it was simple. Sergio Aguero, quiet by his high standards, kicked out at Mark Noble off the ball which precipitated more indignation from the West Ham players than we had seen all afternoon.

One more City goal would have equalled the Premier League record for goals scored in a season, set by Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea in 2009-2010 but even so 102 for the season is not a bad total. In defence of Carroll, he needs a cross to head from time-to-time and it was hard to remember a single one being launched in his direction. Up against the second most famous ponytail in the Premier League, sported by Martin Demichelis, he encountered an opponent who was up for a scrap.

If this is to be Sam Allardyce’s last game in charge of the Hammers then it was not a fond farewell. They finish 13th, seven points clear of relegation, in a season when the clean sheets they have kept have been their manager’s greatest source of pride. When there is no clean sheet then one finds oneself struggling to count the alternative qualities. When a long ball on 69 minutes failed to stick to Carroll’s toe on 69 minutes, and rolled out of play all hope was lost.

He brought on Joe Cole at the end of the game, more than likely his last game in a West Ham shirt for the second time around. News of the goals from Liverpool came through but by then, the away team had shut down for the season and City were on their way to the second league title in three years. After the celebrations, some of the players and their families were still on the pitch long after 6pm having pictures taken with the trophy as the groundsmen began clearing the streamers off the pitch

Joe Hart was one of the last off before the trophy finally disappeared down the tunnel and the last few supporters went home. It has not always been a straightforward season for the City goalkeeper but when you win league titles, a lot gets forgotten. City have won it now under two managers and they will be part of the elite for a long time to come. It felt like the wrong time to mention that Uefa’s sanctions over financial fair play are delivered tomorrow, which is a challenge al lot more formidable than that presented by West Ham.

Manchester City (4-4-2): Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov; Nasri, Toure (Negredo, 86), Garcia, Silva (Milner, 75); Aguero, Dzeko (Fernandinho, 69).

Substitutes not used: Pantilimon (gk), Lescott, Clichy, Jovetic.

West Ham (4-5-1): Adrian; McCartney, Reid, Tomkins, O’Brien; Downing, Noble, Nolan (Jarvis, 64), Taylor, Diame  (J Cole, 81); Carroll  (C Cole, 72).

Substitutes not used: Armero, Vaz Te, Collins, Jaaskelainen (gk).

Referee: M Atkinson

Man of the match: Nasri

Booked: Manchester City Demichelis, Aguero West Ham Nolan, Noble

Rating: 6/10

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste