We probably have to go back to the mid-1970s for the last time a City side played with such flair and composure. As the plaudits and apologies to Sven pour in (credit to The Guardian's Matthew Taylor for this one) two key questions come to mind: how good are we right now and how much better can we get?
There's a good summary of our league campaign so far by BIB at Citymancs:
West Ham - Brilliant
Derby - Sweating but got a result
Rags - Lucky, sweating but got a result
Arsenal - Deserved something
Blackburn - Deserved nothing
Villa - Deserved
Fulham - Deserved something more
Newcastle - Fully deserved.
Clearly, there's nothing false about our current position, but a read through the talkboards reveals opinion is polarising between the 'top 4 is possible' and the 'let's not get carried away' camps.
A degree of caution would seem very sensible. According to Oddchecker, Chelsea are 2/13 for a top four finish while we're 12/1. Our current squad lacks strength in depth, our form now appears heavily reliant on Elano and Petrov staying fit and the Blackburn defeat showed how easily we can be muscled out of a game.
But right now caution, common sense and the bookies can all go fuck themselves.
There's been magic in the air ever since the takeover went through. Not only is Sven moulding a team that's looking capable of lifting a trophy, but I now believe that Champions League football at Eastlands next season is a real possibility.
But more importantly, I suspect that Sven's legendary powers of persuasion are making the players believe it too.
~ Video of goals
~ Sven's post-match interview
~ Match photos from rtfract.com;
~ Latest Premiership table.
The stats (below) are compiled from a live commentary. For more detailed stats, including a breakdown of each player’s passes and tackles click here, while you can also find match details at the BBC and Sky.
Ratings come from (in order): Father Dougal MaGuire, Banned Tosspot, Richard (Bluemoon), ross.mcfc, bluemoon, Slim, Wooders, Grob, King Kev, irblinx (Mancityfans), Bagpuss (Wookie's Lair), Tichard Tucker (rtfract), MEN, Sunday Times, Sunday Mirror, Sky and Sky Your Rating.
Hart: 7, 7, 7, 5, 6, 6, 7, 7, 6, 6, 6, 6.5, 6, 6, 6, 7, 5.7, 6, 5.7 (av: 6.3)
Some nervous moments but looks the part and will benefit from the experience. (MEN)
Few nervy moments but I am always confident with him in net. (Father Dougal MaGuire)
Suspect for the goal. Didn't have to come for it and when he decided he was going for it should have been more positive. Kicking poor and got very very lucky with that backpass. Didn't have much else to do. (ross.mcfc)
Not a great deal he could have done about the goal, that one dodgy moment where he almost put in his own net was a bit of a shocker, but apart from that looked solid. Confident on crosses, but kicking needs improvement. (bluemoon)
Came from crosses well, couple of dodgy moments, but overall looks assured. (Slim)
Looked better than Kasper for me, not really challenged this game, but didn't get the impression he was being looked after by Dunne and the defenders as much. (Wooders)
Looked much more comfortable between the sticks than Kasper did in any of the previous games this season and dealt with balls into the box perfectly. One slight mishap with the attempted OG, but he had it under control. No chance with the goal, top class from Martins. (Grob)
Nearly scored a comedy own goal and should have done better for their goal but handling and distribution were good. (King Kev)
Looked confident on crosses but a little slow off the line at times. Might have done a little more for their goal. (irblinx)
Not much to do in truth. Much better in the air than Schmikes. Doesn't get big (star shaped) to stop shots like Schmikes. Saves well though. Anybody good at Genetic Engineering? (Bagpuss)
Corluka (Onuoha 57): 6, 7, 6, 7, 7, 8, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6.5, 6, 7, 6, 7, 6.3, 6, 6.6 (av: 6.8)
Hurt knee trying to turn in second half and until then had been usual reliable self. (MEN)
Not his best game today, hope his injury isn't bad. (Father Dougal MaGuire)
Had a good game, got down the wing plenty of times. Getting better by the game. (bluemoon)
Great player, troubled by Milner, but gets forward well and has deceptively good feet for a big lad. (Slim)
If there's a player we should be pushing for a Hamman replacement I would recommend this guy. He looks good going forward, is more suited to the centre. Rate him. (Wooders)
Tidy as ever and went off as a precaution I think. He didn't look in too much pain. We certainly missed him when he left the game. (Grob)
Classy player with pace and always look assured on the ball, seemed disappointed to go off despite his injury. (King Kev)
Very comfortable on the ball. (irblinx)
Class on a stick. For the first time he didn't let anyone cross from the outside! Hope he's not out too long. Not keen on the impression of being shot by a sniper from the third tier. N'Zogbia stopped running thinking the lad was hurt. It must have wazzed him off somat rotten when Corluka got up so quickly. Still he was substituted fairly sharpish so he was hurt... (Bagpuss)
Dunne: 7, 7, 7, 8, 7, 7, 7, 6.5, 8, 7, 8, 7.5, 7, 7, 7, 8, 6.7, 7, 7.1 (av: 7.2)
Even nasty clash of heads at start of second half didn't knock skipper out of powerful stride. (MEN)
Solid as usual. (Father Dougal MaGuire)
The usual quality performance from Dunney. (ross.mcfc)
Denfensively he was solid as ever, however his distribution needs improving, needs to realise we've moved on from last season and he doesn't need to hoof the ball upfield. (bluemoon)
Solid, not great again but certainly a step up from last week. (Slim)
Typical performance from Dunney. (Wooders)
Poor in the first half and was happy to see Richards take Viduka off his hands in the second half. Got better as the game went on. (Grob)
Good to have him back to form. (King Kev)
Kept Viduka very quiet. Always there when required. (Bagpuss)
Richards: 7, 8, 7, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 8, 7, 6, 7, 7, 7, 8, 7, 7.2, 7, 7.2 (av: 7.2)
Not at best early on but magnificent in the second half when charging forward. (MEN)
Got caught napping AGAIN for their goal but put in a solid performance. (Father Dougal MaGuire)
Same as Dunney. Looked good going forward. Should have put Ireland in instead of shooting. (ross.mcfc)
Solid as ever, never really troubled. If I'm really harsh, then should have closed Martins down quicker for the goal. Great run in 2nd half, shame about the finish (bluemoon)
Dodgy early, but recovered well and great run for a pissweak shot, funniest moment of the match. (Slim)
Did a the usual good job at cb, though has his dodgy moments, and please, today's run showed why he's best off at the back, no more defensive mid talk please. (Wooders)
Fell asleep for the goal but then headed everything away that came within 5 yards of him. Unlucky not to have had a brace with 2 breakaway chances. Still feel he would be better at full back. (Grob)
Between the 2 CBs the Newcastle forwards never really stood a chance. (King Kev)
Solid. Needs to practice shooting with his left. (irblinx)
Badly out of position in the run up to the Martin's goal. Ditto on other occasions. His pace gets him out of trouble most of the time... Good going forward though. I like the surging runs he's starting to make from the back. (Bagpuss)
Garrido: 7, 7, 7, 8, 8, 8, 7, 7.5, 8, 8, 7, 7, 6, 6, 7, 7, 6.4, 7, 6.7 (av: 7.1)
Spaniard doesn't always catch the eye but handled tricky Milner reasonably well. (MEN)
Same as ever. (Father Dougal MaGuire)
Gets better every game I see him. The bargain of the season. (ross.mcfc)
Best game yet, really building up an understanding with Petrov. I like what I see. (bluemoon)
Troubled by Milner on the switch, but very good getting forward and solid at the back. (Slim)
Great game today, seems to get ignored by Petrov a bit too much when he makes the break forward, can't decide whether this is Petrov being smart, or him just being overlooked. (Wooders)
Solid as ever, good tussle with Milner and held his corner well. His distribution is brilliant. (Grob)
Best I have seen him play. Covered loads of ground and worked really hard. (King Kev)
Still not getting the credit he deserves. (irblinx)
Stylish. Backed up Petrov well. Did what was necessary. (Bagpuss)
Ireland: 7, 6, 7, 8, 8, 7, 6, 6, 8, 6, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6.7, 6, 6.8 (av: 6.9)
A bit of a mixed bag but more good than bad especially the run and cross for equaliser. (MEN)
Superb ball for Petrov's goal and could of had another. Hit the bar twice as well, was always a threat, better from him. (Father Dougal MaGuire)
A real return to form. Was at the centre of everything. Great lay-off for Petrov's goal. Should have scored himself. (ross.mcfc)
Great performance, really got himself into the game. Link up play was excellent. (bluemoon)
Great come back from the lad, ran for everything, was at the heart of most and a perfectly weighted cross (1st goal) was the Stevie we know. (Slim)
Much better, still think we can get a better right winger in January, though looked better today but loses the ball too easily. (Wooders)
Made the first goal and his movement was very good at times. But gave the ball away a lot in the first half and still isn't playing at his great potential. (Grob)
Welcome back to form Stevie. A few stray passes but otherwise a good performance and did very well to set up Petrov's goal. (King Kev)
Brilliant run and pass for Petrov's goal but overall just didn't look to be right in the head to me, as with the Norwich game he was trying the 1st time killer pass far too often. (irblinx)
A good game. Finally showed that he could play on the right. Great run and cross for the first goal. I'm Still not 100% convinced though. (Bagpuss)
Hamann: 6, 8, 7, 7, 7, 8, 8, 7, 8, 8, 8, 7, 7, 6, 6, 7, 6.6, 7, 6.9 (av: 7.1)
The anchor that allows the others to go and torment the opposition and did his job well. (MEN)
His worst game for us but still did a job. (Father Dougal MaGuire)
A better turn around in player I can't remember. Picked up everything and unlike his opposite number Butt didn't kick everything that moved. Maybe apart from Elano our most crucial player in our squad. (ross.mcfc)
Does all the things that generally get missed, without him the rest of our midfield wouldn't have the freedom that they have. (bluemoon)
Another magnificent performance, gave little away but was pulled left and right a lot more than you'd like for his old legs. He will be irreplaceable. (Slim)
Who was that German 40 a day man last season? Definitely wasn't this guy. (Wooders)
Passing was a bit off in the first half and didn't win a couple of tackles which you would expect him to, but worked hard for the team and kept his good form going. (Grob)
Buys free-kicks all day long! Must be very frustrating to play against! He is a class act and I dread him picking up his 5th yellow as we would miss him. (King Kev)
Completely in charge of the midfield, had Newcastle in his pocket. (irblinx)
Mr dependable. Sees it - blocks it tackles it. The Terminator. Passes well too. (Bagpuss)
Johnson (Ball 86): 6, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6.5, 7, 7, 6, 6, 7, 6.6, 7, 6.5 (av: 6.7)
Hard working performance and some of his close range passing was a joy to watch. (MEN)
Quiet again. (Father Dougal MaGuire)
Made all the right passes and supported Hamman brilliantly today. (ross.mcfc)
Another good game, partnership with Hamman is blossoming. (bluemoon)
Drifted out of the game for LONG periods, but was doing his part in the build up. (Slim)
One of our better players all season, but didn't do much for me this game, though he was instrumental in some of our really pretty bits of footy this afternoon. (Wooders)
Better than last week but needs to start getting his foot in more. His play is pretty but he needs to add some steal to it. (Grob)
I just wish he would get stuck in a bit more, seems hesitant at times. (King Kev)
Didn't see as much of him as usual but hardly put a foot wrong. (irblinx)
Not that good a game compared with recent performances. Still did ok though. When he goes forward on one of his runs someone has to fill in behind as we are vulnerable to the counter attack. I noticed this against Fulham last week and again today. Ireland/Elano/Petrov - get it sorted. (Bagpuss)
Elano (Geovanni 89): 10, 9, 10, 9, 10, 10, 10, 10, 9, 9.5, 9, 9, 9, 8, 9, 9, 8.6, 9, 9.1 (av: 9.3)
At the hub of everything eye catching and his free kick will live long in the memory. (MEN)
YES a 10!! Never loses the ball, sets up chance after chance and WHAT A GOAL. (Father Dougal MaGuire)
I don't think there are many better players in the Premiership. What a free-kick. (ross.mcfc)
Pure Brazilian magic for 90mins. I feel very fortunate to watch a footballing genius in the flesh! (bluemoon)
There are no words. (Slim)
Can actually say he's up there with the best in the prem, definitely top 4 quality, really starting to wonder if we can get there now thanks to this man. (Wooders)
I didn't think we would ever see a player of this calibre at City again! Rounded off a brilliant hard-working performance with an amazing goal from the free-kick. (King Kev)
He went out of the game a little for a spell in the second half but otherwise fantastic and the free kick was perfection. (irblinx)
Pulled the strings like he was directing a Gerry Anderson classic. Gets better with every game. Very definitely coming to terms with the physicality of the Premiership. (Bagpuss)
Petrov: 8, 8, 9, 8, 8, 9, 9, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 9, 8, 8, 8.4, 8, 8.6 (av: 8.3)
Confidence surge from Fulham game obvious to see. Made one goal and scored another. (MEN)
A constant threat, scored one and set up one again. (Father Dougal MaGuire)
This is the Petrov is thought we had signed. What vision he has. Found an extra yard of pace as well. (ross.mcfc)
Immense performance, caused Newcastle defenders a nightmare. I think we all hope last week would be the springboard for him and it looks it has. (bluemoon)
Has exploded in the last two games, he is just SO fucking quick it's scary. (Slim)
Pissed me off so much before the last couple of games because I was expecting what I have seen in the last couple of games from him. Glad it's starting to happen. (Wooders)
Great finish, great crossing and great all round performance. (Grob)
Beats players, provides crosses, scores goals, sets up chances and yet some people don't rate him, amazing!! (King Kev)
Great performance again. (irblinx)
Damned good. Caused mayhem down the left all game. Did his fair share of defensive covering too. (Bagpuss)
Mpenza: 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 7, 7, 8, 7.2, 7, 7.5 (av: 7.8)
Likes playing against Magpies. Scored again in what was just about his best game for the Blues. (MEN)
A constant threat, scored one and set up one again. (Father Dougal MaGuire)
Best performance this season. Was in all the right places and read everything Elano was going to do. That is some feat in itself. Took his goal well. People should now get off his back. (ross.mcfc)
Outstanding performance, best I've seen him play since he joined. (bluemoon)
Does everything right as a striker. Not some things, not most things, but EVERYTHING right. Sometimes his touch let him down, but he is deserved of his place. (Slim)
Take it back Emile. Sorry lad. (Wooders)
Worked his tripe out, looked a threat, held the ball up well, laid it off nicely too, scored a good goal and maybe should have had a couple more. Best I've seen from him in a City shirt. (Grob)
Much the unsung hero. Works very hard on and off the ball and scores goals, what more could we ask? (King Kev)
Best showing for us so far (since he signed), all action. Shame he isn't the brilliant finisher we need too. (irblinx)
Could have sworn that Drogba was playing for us today. He led the line brilliantly today. Shielded the ball excellently. Always passed to a City player. Never let the Newcastle defence have an easy moment. Should have scored another though - hence only 8. (Bagpuss)
Onuoha (Corluka 57): 6, 6, - , 6, -, 6, 6, 6, 5, 6, 7, 7, 6, 6, 6, -, 6.2, 6, 6.3 (av: 6.1)
Not much to do as Blues dominated. (MEN)
Got lucky a few times. Why does he always let the ball bounce?? Martins caused him a lot of bother. (ross.mcfc)
Came back into a tough game, N'Zogbia and Martins are tough bastids to mark out, but he was solid for the most, and lucky when he wasn't. (Slim)
Came on and looked top, just like at West Ham. Seems to suit the sub role maybe? (Wooders)
Got himself into trouble and then out of trouble a fair few times. Needs to cut that part of his game out. Passing wasn't good. (Grob)
Disappointed in him a bit today. This was his chance to stake a claim to the RB position yet he seemed far too casual and my heart was in my mouth several times when he should have dealt with the situation easily. (King Kev)
Can't decide whether he was just incredibly composed or the luckiest guy on the pitch today, kept giving me a heart attack with Martins on his tail. (irblinx)
Mighty fine. This boy is class and a better natural defender than Richards. (Bagpuss)
Ball (Johnson 86).
Subs not used:
Schmeichel, Ball, Onuoha, Geovanni, Samaras
Elano's dazzle takes City to dizzying new heights (Paul Wilson)
Paul Merson was suggesting on Sky during the Carling Cup snorefest against Norwich on Tuesday that he wouldn't have a City season ticket as a gift. He would have changed his mind pronto had he watched this. Anyone would. Apart from three goals of the highest quality, four if you count the class finish by Obafemi Martins that gave Newcastle an early lead, there was incident and entertainment here from start to finish with even the beaten visitors playing their part. It was just a pity the ground was not quite full for what was this stadium's finest hour.
City hit dizzy heights but Owen ready to lift club and country (Jon Culley)
This was not a flawless performance from his team. A defence that had conceded three goals at Fulham looked wobbly enough often enough for the Eastlands crowd to remain slightly uneasy until Elano's brilliant free-kick three minutes from time put the issue beyond doubt. Going forward City were breath-takingly good, Elano and Martin Petrov the leading players in a work of artistry and innovation that had an audience who were bored rigid last season jumping to their feet in anticipation of the next moment of magic. In many ways, it was football in the classic City tradition.
Elano leads Sven-Goran Eriksson's entertainers (Clive White)
The much-maligned Swede, however, may be the man to lead City to glory. He has already led them out of the darkness, settling back into club management more easily than anyone could have imagined. The team he hurriedly put together during pre-season are not only getting better results than any City fan would have dared think possible, they are also playing the type of football that until now they could only watch on video.
Man City 3 Newcastle 1
The Brazilian midfielder had already established himself as a clear man-of-the-match with an inspired display of cultured passing in a pulsating contest when he strode up to rocket home the 86th-minute free-kick which guaranteed Sven-Goran Eriksson's men their victory.
Eriksson has steadfastly refused to set any targets for his team despite their amazing start to the campaign.
But on this evidence they look viable top six contenders.
Elano Ralph Blumer makes City slicker (Jonathan Northcroft)
It was hard to know what made the supporters of Manchester City the most mirthful and merry.
There was revelling in the discomfort of Nicky Butt and Alan Smith as they circled in chase of the ball with the futility and building rage of a cat trying to grab a wasp. There was looking to glum Joey Barton sitting in the stand and singing: “Joey, what’s the score?” There was the Premier League table at quarter to three which showed their team joint top with Arsenal. And there was magic to behold, the sashaying sorcery of an entertainer named Elano Ralph Blumer.
Man City 3 Newcastle 1 (Simon Mullock)
Perhaps Joey Barton was right to quit Manchester City - because on this evidence he wouldn't get anywhere near the team being built by Sven Goran Eriksson.