Three Points: Man City deservedly knocked out of Capital One Cup
MANCHESTER -- Three quick thoughts after Newcastle's first win at the Etihad, a 2-0 Capital One Cup result against holders Manchester City.
1. City deserved to go out
The previous team to retain the League Cup, in its many guises, came from Manchester. Now Manchester City cannot strip Manchester United of that distinction. The holders are out, and deservedly. Newcastle may have lulled everyone into a false sense of security by naming a second-string side, but City were decidedly second-best in one of the shocks of this season's competition.
While the result could be deemed a one-off, City's troubles are not. They have already lost five times in all competitions this season and have only won two of their past six games at the Etihad Stadium. And one of those was against Championship opposition, in the shape of Sheffield Wednesday.
This was a particularly bad night for City's biggest signings of the past two summers, Eliaquim Mangala and Fernandinho. Manager Sam Allardyce said that West Ham targeted the 32 million pound Frenchman when West Ham beat City 2-1 on Saturday. The most expensive defender in the history of English football endured another awkward outing. Newcastle isolated and exposed him again.
Mangala was booked and could have been sent off on another occasion when his fee looked excessive. He may have been partly culpable for Rolando Aarons' opener, even if more blame lay with Fernandinho. The Brazilian was dispossessed by Ryan Taylor, who sent the young scorer Aarons clear.
Indeed, Fernandinho lost the ball, as he has lost form and his place of late. Perhaps he, like Bacary Sagna, could have done better for Newcastle's second goal, although Moussa Sissoko did wonderfully well to power through and slide a shot in. Moreover, City were fortunate they were not already two goals behind. Willy Caballero had made a vital block from the unmarked Paul Dummett. Aleksandar Kolarov might have conceded a penalty and been dismissed for a challenge on Gabriel Obertan.
The broader theme was a sadly familiar one for the defending champions. They had difficulties at the back again. Meanwhile, opponents adopted the ploy of defending deep and counterattacking at pace against City. With every setback, manager Manuel Pellegrini faces more questions if he has an answer to such tactics.
While Rob Elliot made a brilliant save from Stevan Jovetic, Kolarov's cross was turned on to his own post by Dummett, and Taylor made a magnificent goal-saving block to deny Edin Dzeko. City created too few chances for a side that had 70 percent of possession. Even the introduction of Sergio Aguero made little difference as their run of 11 successive wins against Newcastle came to an abrupt end, along with their defence of this trophy.
2. No Silva lining for City
Managers who select weakened teams in cup competitions are often criticised. Yet sometimes there are reasons why they rest their premier players, as City discovered to their cost. Pellegrini won the Capital One Cup last season. This year, he has named still stronger sides.
It did him little good as his side crashed out and that policy, which many will find admirable, seemed to backfire inside four minutes. Taylor caught David Silva with a late challenge. The Spaniard hurt his knee, hobbled around gingerly for four more minutes and limped off. It allowed Samir Nasri to make his comeback after a month out following groin surgery, but it has to make Silva a doubt ahead of perhaps the defining game of their season: the Manchester derby. If he is ruled out, Louis van Gaal's task will be easier. City did actually beat United 4-1 at the Etihad Stadium without Silva last season, but that does not automatically make a repeat easy.
Their problems seemed to be compounded when Yaya Toure went down in pain after being caught by Mehdi Abeid. Thankfully for City, the Ivorian was able to continue and it was a sensible precaution when Pellegrini eventually took Toure off to bring Jesus Navas on. Nevertheless, with the options afforded by Fernando, Fernandinho, Nasri, Navas and James Milner, the Chilean could have opted to omit both Toure and Silva. He may wish he had.
And so a week that began with a worry for United, after Wayne Rooney was spotted hobbling, may end with City more concerned about the injury bulletins.
3. Newcastle's fortunes change
Oxford United. Luton Town. Wimbledon. Wigan Athletic. Swansea City. Coventry City. They are just some of the many clubs that have won a major trophy since Newcastle United last did. As Geordies need no reminding, their drought stretches to 1969, when they lifted the Fairs Cup.
The sense in the Mike Ashley era has been that Newcastle have abandoned all ambition of lifting silverware. Staying in the Premier League pays the bills. It is about money, not glory. And yet there is now an opportunity to end the wait.
It is one that might not have been anticipated when the team sheets were submitted. Newcastle fielded three of their first-choice XI -- Fabricio Coloccini, Daryl Janmaat and Jack Colback -- in an otherwise inexperienced side. Yet the understudies excelled. Youthful hunger was apparent in the way Aarons darted in to open the scoring. It was their first goal in 525 minutes against City, showing the extent of Newcastle's struggles in these meetings in recent years.
But this was a side untainted by past defeats. Some of the defending bordered on the heroic, with Dummett in particular distinguishing himself, and players who had previously achieved little on Tyneside, such as Abeid, had evenings to savour.
They were cleverly configured, too, by Alan Pardew, whose 4-5-1 formation worked well. For much of 2014, this has been a dreadful year for him. Now this was a third successive win. A corner has been turned. Now there is no sense every game could be his last
Richard Jolly covers the Premier League and Champions League for ESPN FC. Twitter: @RichJolly.