LIVE AND LET FLY
Pep: We’ve lost our licence to thrill
Pep Guardiola has spotted City’s scoring problem.
HALLOWEEN specialists Manchester City were at it again as they try and put the frighteners on their title-race rivals.
But on the day of spooks and ghostly spirits, anyone searching for a bag of goals instead of ghouls from Pep Guardiola’s side would have been bitterly disappointed.
Free-flowing in the first half – but with just a cultured strike from former Sheffield United player Kyle Walker on his 100th City Premier League game to show for it – the visitors took their foot off the gas and spared Chris Wilder’s side a hiding.
Whether the demons of a sluggish start to their domestic campaign have been exorcised only time will tell.
No Premier League side has had more success on October 31 than City – and at first it appeared that the confident, strident football witnessed in the south of France against Marseille in midweek had been brought to South Yorkshire.
Guardiola, who has again knocked back overtures from former club Barcelona, said: “We played really well in the first half and created a lot of chances but we struggled with scoring goals.
“When you arrive in the second half at 1-0 anything can happen. ppen. They had just st one clear chance ance in the 90 minut es e s which h was good d for us.
“But when we arrived d in the final nal t h i rd we were not ot as clinical as we were before efore and that’s unfortunate.
“Scoring nine goals in six games is not enough.
“I understand completely why, many reasons.”
A sky- blue tide had threatened to engulf the home side at first, with Aaron Ramsdale doing his best to erect a one- man dam.
Smart saves had denied Ferran Torres twice and Rodri before City made their early dominance pay through the unlikely figure of Walker – whose last goal had been almost 12 months ago.
But given the big build-up, with Guardiola insisting the England man was in the form of his life, the 30- year- old didn’t disappoint.
As Raheem Sterling caused trouble down the left flank, Kevin De Bruyne took over and his cro cross- field ball found fou the a dv a n c i n g Wal Walker who st steadied h himsel f b before f firing low f from 25 y yards in into the co corner pa past a d despai esp r ing Ramsda Ramsdale.
But after aft being a boyhood Blade, there were no celebrations from Walker.
His ecstatic team-mates, now looking to get their domestic campaign back on track, more than made up for it.
Walker said: “My mum and dad still live here so if I’d have celebrated they would have got a lot of stick.
“Anyway I’m also a big Sheffield United fan so there was no way that I’d celebrate.”
Legend has it that former Blades boss Harry Haslam just missed out on bringing a 17-year-old Maradona to the club. When they are in this mood it would take a few Maradonas to halt a City side clearly stung by their indifferent start to their domestic campaign.
In homage to departed film legend
Connery a selection of the James Bond themes were played.
The home side definitely needed to be shaken after not stirring in the opening half.
But what appeared to be purely damage limitation for United turned into some brief optimism as City’s early storm appeared to have blown itself out.
There was still time for De Bruyne to force Ramsdale to turn a fierce free-kick around the post and then deny Riyad Mahrez before the Blades suddenly burst into life.
Their best moment came from Sander Berge cutting into the area and setting up substitute John Lundstram whose close-range effort sped over the bar. Not exactly the way to enhance his chances of a new improved contract.
By now City were content to run down the clock with Sterling not so effective after being double marked.
For Blades boss Wilder the pain continues, just one point from seven games now in the aftermath of last season’s stunning performance in the Premier League after their promotion.
Wilder insisted: “Anyone thinking we can go toe to toe with Manchester City are deluded.
“City have spent £1billion on their structure and have some incredible players.”
Anyone who thinks that Sheffield United are able to go toe-to-toe with this Manchester City side are deluded...