Klasnic 39, K. Davies 63; Silva 26, Barry 37, Dzeko 47
When – or perhaps if – Samir Nasri takes his first look at the Etihad Stadium he would be well advised to take a look at the padding on the home benches. As good as the City-bound Frenchman is, it will take some effort to displace the sublime David Silva from Mancini’s starting XI.
Gliding around the pitch at Bolton, the diminutive Spaniard keeps this City side ticking over. Manchester United fans will recognise his brand of simple, effective football, as for years Paul Scholes pulled the strings at Old Trafford. With Gareth Barry and Yaya Toure behind him, as well as the impressive pair of Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero ahead of him, Silva knows that he has the players around him to make his efforts worthwhile. Praise has to be given to Roberto Mancini for spending the club owner’s millions so wisely, and constructing a proper coherent group of players rather than a spectrum of misaligned stars. It is what Arsene Wenger has been trying to do for years, just with a rolling stock of promising youngsters rather than a bottomless well of oil-dollars. Mancini now has the players to take the fight to his Manchester rivals, and the performance at Bolton suggests he now has the team to do it too.
Owen Coyle may not quite have the funds available to the clubs down the road in Manchester, but he knows how to spend what he has wisely and knows how to steadily improve his side. The days of Sam Allardyce’s unappealing – but effective – football are long gone from the Reebok stadium. Summer signing Chris Eagles was involved in a number of smart passages of play, and would have pulled a goal back ten minutes after Dzeko had thumped City’s third past Jussi Jaaskelainen. Unfortunately, the normally confident winger suffers a serious attack of the nerves when he has to try to use his left foot.
David Silva had opened the scoring with a shot that swerved horribly in front of Jaaskelainen, although the Bolton ‘keeper should have done better with the shot, but City’s lively start merited some reward. Ten minutes later, Barry reminded everyone he has something to offer City’s ever-evolving midfield by thumping a shot into the top left hand corner of Jaaskelainen’s goal. The Finn got a hand to it, but this time there was little he could do to stop City from extending their lead. Despite City dominating the opening half, Bolton were demonstrating their Premier League class with some excellent play. They followed Barry’s screamer with a neat move up the left wing which finished with Ivan Klasnic sweeping the ball through Joe Hart’s legs. Joleon Lescott could have done better, as he let Klasnic drop off him far too easily. The England centre-back was at fault for Bolton’s second as well. The impressive Martin Petrov lofted a free-kick into the box which was met by Bolton captain Kevin Davies rising above Lescott to head into the bottom corner.
City will be delighted with the result though, and Bolton can be pleased with their performance. The two managers may share an ambition to play attractive football, but their hopes for the season ahead might not be so similar.