It was never going to be easy. There will be many teams who go to City this season and come away with more of a hiding than Newcastle suffered this evening.
Hardly bragging rights but a 3-1 reverse is the same suffered by Arsenal whilst a 4-1 against Spurs, 5-0 against both Liverpool and Palace and a 7-2 against Stoke who just how hard visiting the Etihad is for all comers.
For Rafa’s Newcastle it would be more of the same plan that saw them lose 1-0 to City a few weeks back at St James Park. And no one could really complain about the ‘park the bus’ tactics this time.
STARTING XI: Darlow, Manquillo (Yedlin, 66), Hayden, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Murphy, Shelvey, Diame, Atsu (Perez, 64), Joselu (Gayle, 76)
The chief protagonist for Manchester City was of course Sergio Aguero. With 14 goals against Newcastle the Argentinian striker is second only to Wayne Rooney (15) in the long list of Premier League strikers that have bagged a hat full against our lot. This time the striker helped himself to a hat-trick.
But whilst Newcastle drew a blank in front of goal at home at least this time those in black and white would have something to cheer courtesy of a cracking break from he halfway line and fine finish over the onrushing Ederson.
That goal, a first for the young Newcastle winger would give the Magpies momentary hope having gone two nil behind just 4 minutes earlier after Aguero had scored his second, this time from the penalty spot. And whilst Newcastle could only muster 19% possession in this one they did at least manage to get 4 shots on target and did cause the home side a few nervy moments along the way.
Rafa said afterwards ‘we wanted to stay in the game and we did it, the penalty was a bit soft and it changed everything’. The Newcastle boss was probably right although you could see why the spot kick had been given following a foul by Manquillo on Sterling.
By that point City were already one up. A superb flicked header from Sergio following a De Bruyne cross had seen to that. It was no more than the home side deserved after a dominant start to the game.
It’s obvious to say that City deserved to win this one, although it could have been different. At 2-1 Newcastle could have equalised. A shot from Diame would only be parried into the path of Joselu, but his follow up would also be saved.
With that Newcastle\s chance would come and go, and with City turning the screw they would find the goal that would kill the game off with 7 minutes left.
For Pep there was talk of a record Premier League points tally. For Rafa the clarity of the relegation fight ahead has never been clearer.
Focus will once more turn to transfers ahead of next weeks home game against Burnley. Recruitments are certainly necessary but only a few in the inner sanctum know if they are likely, and with it Rafa’s future for sure.
In critical 10 days ahead.