Slick Manchester City send out an ominous warning
Newcastle 0 Man City 2
Published 18/08/2014 | 02:30
The champions of England will have more memorable days than these over the next nine months, and Manuel Pellegrini's team will have to play better if they are to fulfil all the targets that their ambitious masters in Abu Dhabi have in mind. But if this was Manchester City simply getting started, they will be formidable once they hit their stride.
Sergio Aguero, on as a substitute, scored a second goal in injury time as Newcastle pressed for an equaliser - and as substitutes go, the Argentine is not a bad option to bring on to close the argument.
There are 37 games left and tonight Chelsea, most people's idea of City's nearest title contenders, have their first match of the season. But three points away at St James' Park is not a bad first-day launching pad for any team.
The threat posed by Newcastle's new-look team was gradually extinguished by City who look now like the kind of side - and the kind of club - that are comfortable in their position at the top of the elite.
When there was danger, Vincent Kompany and Martin Demichelis were superb, and there was a late block by the new signing Fernando when the Newcastle substitute Ayoze Perez had a sight of goal.
Those were the details, the bigger picture is that City simply look so strong in every area of the pitch.
It is hard to imagine a repeat of the chaos that engulfed them in their previous defence of a Premier League title - they just look too robust, too well-organised and too professional.
It is a successful club in which the key figures are secured on long-term contracts, with Edin Dzeko potentially the next to commit long-term. It is the kind of operation set up to win trophies.
Afterwards, Pellegrini reflected on how this team compared to the one he led to the title in his first season in England.
"It is difficult to compare. Last year maybe a lot of people doubted if we could win the title.
"Now we have had one year of my way of working. We also have a strong squad. In the Premier League there are five or six who can win the title. We need to have the same attitude," he added.
In the Premier League era, the champions have never lost on the first day of the following season, and from the moment that David Silva scored his team's first on 38 minutes City never looked in any danger of defeat.
That was not to say that Newcastle were poor. They had two periods at the start and then at the end of the second half when they created chances, but it takes a lot to place City under the kind of pressure that might b reak them.
Pellegrini selected Joe Hart in goal ahead of Willy Caballero, and there were not many moments when the City goalkeeper was tested. The new signing Fernando - €15m from Porto - looked accomplished in midfield, another giant to go alongside Yaya Touré.
Some of Newcastle's new players showed some promise too, but it gets no harder than trying to break down the reigning champions.
Newcastle had four new signings in the starting XI and St James' Park was given its first opportunity to admire the work that had gone into Rémy Cabella's mohican quiff.
The signing from Montpellier was the pick of the new boys, along with Jack Colback, a local lad who made his competitive debut after crossing the divide from Sunderland. The chance Cabella created for Moussa in the 90th minute was arguably the best they had .
Afterwards, Newcastle manager Alan Pardew looked relieved that it had not turned into one of those difficult days at St James' Park when the home crowd's patience snaps.
Pardew knows that at a club where they will cling to the smallest signs of encouragement, there was enough promise shown from the likes of Cabella and Colback. In his programme notes he even talked of a "new Newcastle United".
City's first goal had arrived eight minutes before the break and spoilt all the momentum that Pardew's team had built to that point.
The two Newcastle supporters killed in the MH-17 flight, John Alder and Liam Sweeney, were remembered with a touching pre-match presentation to the families from both captains and representatives of Sunderland.
Then the silence came to an end, the flowers were removed and the roar signalled another nine months in the tumultuous life of Newcastle.
In spite of the changes to Pardew's side, they looked well organised, with Vurnon Anita working in front of the defence and Colback and the impressive Sissoko operating in the centre.
Cabella looked like he was capable of all sorts of trickery, but he kept it low-key for most of the first half, his best moment, a ball through the City defence for Emmanuel Rivière to run on to. The striker signed from Monaco failed to hit the target on that occasion, and although he worke d hard, this was a tough Premier League initiation against Kompany.
There was one moment when his excellent touch killed the ball on the right side but, having attempted a run at goal he elected to shoot from so far out it ended up the kind of shot goalkeepers stop with their foot.
As for City, they created an excellent opening for Edin Dzeko on four minutes from Stevan Jovetic's pass but he seemed unprepared and hit his shot straight at Tim Krul. They had to wait more than 30 minutes for the next decent opening.
This was made by Touré's ball forward and a fine back-heel first time from Dzeko which afforded Silva two touches with his left foot - one to control and one to finish his strike past Krul.
Newcastle had an opportunity through Yoan Gouffran and a Cabella shot that went over the bar at the start of the second half.
But it was Aguero who had the final say to ensure City prevailed. He held off Fabricio Coloccini to hit a left-foot shot and when Krul saved, picked himself up and scored the rebound first time with his right. The challenge is now for Chelsea to match them tonight against newly promoted Burnley.