Reading 0 Manchester City 2 match report: Empty dugout as Sergio Aguero seals victory in first match since Roberto Mancini departure
Brian Kidd took charge of the match
What will Manuel Pellegrini make of Manchester City if he gets to see the DVD of this game? The rain may edge him towards staying in Malaga, but he will see plenty in City's display that could tempt him to the Etihad Stadium as the successor to Roberto Mancini, who was sacked on Monday evening in the wake of the FA Cup Final defeat by Wigan on Saturday.
The City team picked by Mancini's former assistant Brian Kidd produced a dominant display, albeit against a relegated side. The win guaranteed second place in the Premier League and there were more than enough reminders of the quality throughout their squad to whet the appetite of any prospective coach, with only a failure to convert a decent percentage of their chances preventing a rout.
As to whether their performance was a tribute to their departed boss or an indication of their relief at his departure, you suspect that the answer will stay in the dressing room. But there was definitely - and Pelligrini could take this as a negative or a positive - plenty of evidence of loyalty and gratitude to Mancini from the City fans, who waved banners in the colours of the Italian flag that read 'Forza Mancini' and 'Grazie Mancini,' and sang his name repeatedly.
Kidd avoided any direct reference to Mancini afterwards beyond expressing surprise at his dismissal. “I've got to be honest, what has gone in the last 48 hours has all come as a shock to the staff. If you had said before the game we would get three points to [guarantee] second place I would have accepted that the way the last 48 hours have gone. It is not about me. I have just come in and been asked to take the team for these two games. I am a Manchester lad and how can I say no?”
With the news that Mancini's first team coach David Platt had “declined the invitation” to stay at City breaking just as the teamsheets were being handed out, it was tempting to wonder whether the dugout would gradually empty during the course of the evening as more members of Mancini's backroom staff followed suit. When Kolo Toure left the field in the 15th minute after going down with no opponent anywhere near him, the natural assumption was that he had suddenly decided to decline the invitation to keep playing.
Kidd resisted any temptation he might have felt to emerge from the dugout wearing a Mancini-style scarf in City colours, opting for a sensible rainproof top instead. But he was less conservative in team selection, making four changes to the team that began Saturday's FA Cup Final. Vincent Kompany, the captain, was not even on the bench, rested after his hard Saturday afternoon chasing Wigan forwards..
For Reading, a match that must have looked like a glamorous way to finish the season at the Madejski Stadium when fans first scanned the Premier League fixtures last summer could have been an embarrassment. City went ahead after 39 minutes in sole charge of the game, Reading obligingly standing back and admiring as James Milner exchanged passes with David Silva after a short corner on the left before passing unopposed to Sergio Aguero, who prodded the ball home past a group of blue and white hooped statues. Cheers from the City fans and another chorus of 'Mancini'.
It was the least City deserved, and they continued to pass round and through the often immobile Reading ranks. Carlos Tevez shot high, Yaya Toure was defied twice by McCarthy and Milner did as he pleased down the right as Kidd looked on impassively from the technical area. His style is more understated than that of Mancini, and his name does not sound as good when sung, but the team performance was impressive.
Only a second goal was missing and Edin Dzeko supplied it two minutes from time, although Reading had twice come close to salvaging an improbable point when Tevez nodded Adrian Mariappa's header off the goal line and Joe Hart saved Jem Karacan's rocket shot. “All credit to the players,” Kidd said. “They have had to have put up with a lot of stuff (since Wembley) and it would have been a travesty if we had not finished second.”
Man of the match Y Touré.
Match rating 7/10.
Referee M Atkinson (West Yorks).
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