THE NOTEBOOK: Mateo Kovacic shows his class as Manchester City win

Jack Grealish is tasked with more defensive work, Nick Pope is up to his old time-wasting tricks and Mateo Kovacic shows his class

  • Manchester City made it two wins in succession as they overcame Newcastle 
  • Jack Gaughan brings you the moments that you may have missed from the game 

Manchester City continued their encouraging start to the season with a 1-0 victory at home to Newcastle.

Julian Alvarez scored the only goal of the game, with City making it two league wins out of two.

Mail Sport’s Jack Gaughan brings you the moments you may have missed from the game at the Etihad Stadium.  

Just call us the main men please 

If you were unaware of what might have happened last season, City’s stadium announcer made sure to educate. City weren’t described as City last night, rather ‘the Treble winners’. And who can blame him? Mike Summerbee, Joe Corrigan and Tommy Booth paraded the trophies beforehand, just as another reminder. 

Knowing this place is the hottest ticket in town, City are insistent on further capitalising on their exploits by expanding the corporate facilities at the Etihad stadium. Tens of additional Tunnel Club hospitality seats have been installed and one of the private dining areas now caters for double the number of supporters. 

The carnival atmosphere is likely to continue for some time. Pep Guardiola said last week Istanbul feels like yesterday and plenty feel the same, with the Champions League win still fresh in the memory. 

Laporte watches from the sidelines 

City accepted an undisclosed bid from Saudi Pro League side Al Nassr for Aymeric Laporte on Wednesday but the central defender is still yet to depart. 

Laporte was here to watch his team-mates from the sidelines and City said he was deemed ‘not fully fit’. The omission of Joao Cancelo, another on his way out, was described as ‘tactical’. 

Aymeric Laporte has still yet to depart after City accepted an offer from Al-Nassr

Pope back to his old tricks 

The first boos from the home ends in response to Newcastle taking their time over restarts came in at nine minutes. Eddie Howe’s side were heavily criticised for apparent gamesmanship last year, with Nick Pope taking longer than anyone else in the Premier League over goal kicks. 

Pope’s rarely fussed by any barracking from the stands and played at his own pace, with referee Robert Jones seeing no problem. Newcastle coach Graeme Jones did though, leaving his seat in the opening minutes to relay a message to Jason Tindall on the bench. Newcastle briefly had three coaches in the technical area before Jones and Tindall retreated. 

Whatever Jones spotted initially worked, because the visitors got a foothold until Julian Alvarez’s opener. There was a bit of a prickly needle to proceedings, with Anthony Gordon going in late on Ruben Dias. Gordon should have seen red for a second late one on Dias and was substituted 60 seconds later. 

Manchester City fans were angry at how long Nick Pope was taking over goal kicks

City supporters all rose for a minute’s applause midway through the first half for Jack Wilkinson, a 24- year-old fan who passed away recently.

Kovacic adapting well 

Mateo Kovacic arrived here from Chelsea as a bit of an unheralded signing. Costing only £25million up front, and done so before pre-season really kicked off, he flew under the radar. But the injury to Kevin De Bruyne, and the fact City have not yet landed the second central midfielder they wanted before his setback, has seen Kovacic start now. 

This was his most encouraging display so far, zippier in possession and wanting to progress the ball with more purpose. Peers always count him as one of the best footballers in a group and he is expected to quickly pick up Guardiola’s philosophy. 

Summer signing Mateo Kovacic produced an encouraging performance against Newcastle

Grealish given more defensive work

Newcastle are deserving of major respect by the very best these days and that was obvious in the opening half an hour, when Jack Grealish almost operated as a wing back. Kieran Trippier and Miguel Almiron – who Grealish mocked just over a year ago – are a dangerous pair. 

Grealish was asked to help out defensively more than normal, likely a product of Newcastle’s threat but also given Josko Gvardiol was making his league debut at left back.

Given Newcastle’s quality, Jack Grealish was required to do more defensive work than usual

Guardiola was wearing a t-shirt in dedication to veteran Italian manager Carlo Mazzone, who died on Saturday. Mazzone, a centre half in the 1950s, managed Roma for three years from 1993. 

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