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By Doug Higginbottom, Fri 21 October 2011 12:34
All present and correct apart from Owen who was out but just working separately with a physio. Lescott out early for a little extra warm up and closely followed by Kolarov. As the others started to gather Yaya was in playful mood again getting Nasri in a headlock which might easily find it's way into the papers as there were extra cameras around looking as ever for something negative to show.Whilst it seemed quite warm I reckon half the squad were in gloves to start with as they went into the usual warm up routines. Sharon clicking away for pictues for the OS before Mancini took a group away behind fences. The cameras were all over them and the inane chatter and questions were too much for me. Is that the team for Sunday I was asked! The players Mancini was working with were all defenders and central midfield players! I really don't think they know who they are taking pictures of.I watched the keepers a bit more than usual as they were put through some rigorous work punctuated constantly by Joe shouting something out, having a go at the ball boy or just laughing at stuff. Best was when he crashed a shot onto the bar and it bounced onto the back of Panti and in to the net. He will wind him up about that one.I went back to watch Mancini work to hear a cameraman saying that it's hard as a keeper coach as you have to be able to shoot straight all the time to test the keepers. He then ventured that the keeper coach should maybe be a striker!.Mancini then swapped the groups around and worked with the attacking half of the squad. One photographer noticed Nasri wearing a snood so that might be in the papers! Mancini picked up on one of the moves they were working on which broke down so he took over the key role and showed them how it should be done. And then into the game.What struck me early in the game was how Barry was in control. He just seemed to be everywhere he needed to be to receive passes or break up attacks. As I was right behind Joe's goal his voice was very prominent and good value. "Let him thump it" when Kolarov had the ball deep wide left. V Dog he called Vinnie! "Let him shoot" when Nigel was 20 yards out. The 1st goal was a beauty when AJ crossed for Zaba to smash in a great half volley. Mario superbly shrugged off Nigel only then to run into the Lescott wall. Just after though he turned in a Milner cross to make it 2 nil.The refereeing came under pressure now with 4 massive hand ball appeals but only 1 given much to the anger of the players. Kolarov was getting some really good crosses in, much better than in most matches but it was from a Barry corner that a goal was pulled back as Dzeko powered in a great header under real pressure from Vinnie who until then had cleared everything. Edin just missed with another effort as the pressure was on for an equaliser. It came from another corner that cleared bith VK and ED but fell to Kolo who contolled it first time, stepped inside a challenge and fired low just inside the post.So yet again it was golden goal time and the intensity raised another notch. Mario looked to have sealed it with a 20 yarder around a defender (I was right behind it) and curling in from outside the post. Trouble is it hit the post and went across the line and out. Edin then seemed to be tripped in the D but nothing given, Kolo managed an amazing goalline clearance from Silva afer some great AJ work. Micah got hurt in a challenge (what's new) Aguero missed a great chance and then the boss called time. I think they had played maybe 5 or 6 minutes longer but it had to end. As they were leaving the doc called out 10 names which didn't seem to make them happy and the bet was it was their turn to provide samples!