Man City at their brutal best to torture Watford as Guardiola’s side send title message | Football | Sport
Quique Sanchez Flores almost certainly has Norwich to thank for this.
Seven days after Manchester City were stung by a first league defeat in eight months and a first of the season, there was always likely to be a reaction.
And on a brutally one-sided afternoon it was the Watford manager’s misfortune that he and his shellshocked side walked straight into it.
With 18 minutes on the clock the Spaniard stood hands deep in pockets already five down with the eyes of a man watching a steamroller coming towards him.
You could almost see his hair going greyer from the stands.
Just two games into his second spell at the club, a thorough drubbing. Taking positives was nigh on impossible. Only the freakish magnitude offering the chance to park it quicker as an outlier.
“We have to say sorry to the fans,” he said afterwards. “It was very difficult to be on the pitch today.
“After 30 seconds we thought it would be tough, after five minutes it was difficult. But after 15 minutes it was impossible.”
It was the fastest any team had ever raced to five goals in the Premier League and although Watford reached the break without further damage, three more arrived in the second half to deliver City’s biggest Premier League win.
With Manchester United holding the Premier League record at 9-0 against Ipswich in 1995, the pressure remained unrelenting to the end with City missing a hatful of chances late on.
It says something that Bernardo Silva bagged a hat-trick but was not the best player on the pitch.
That accolade was grabbed with both hands by Kevin de Bruyne who provided a timely reminder to manager Pep Guardiola of the folly of not starting him at Carrow Road by orchestrating the blizzard.
It was fitting he provided the final goal hammering the ball high into Watford’s net on 85 minutes even if the cherry of equalling that record eluded him after he did all the hard work to create another opening two minutes later only to pull his shot just wide of the post.
Watford were reduced to a bickering rabble early after wave upon wave of City forays forward emerged with a goal – the inquests appearing more heated as the scoreboard ticked up.
Goalkeeper Ben Foster admitted the performance was an embarrassment.
“We let ourselves down,” he said with notable understatement. “As a keeper coming to City and Liverpool, if you let in five in 20 minutes you fear the worst.
“They are without doubt the best team I have ever played against. We were poor and didn’t lay a glove on them but at times it was breathtaking watching them.”
City were indeed breathtaking for all that Watford might actually have equalised after three minutes when Gerard Deulofeu had an effort tipped around the post by Ederson after skipping past Nicolas Otamendi.
It was their last scare of the afternoon.
Guardiola described the performance as “ruthless” adding that it was “a lovely day in the sunshine for the team and the fans”.
He said: “One of the things after five zero is normally the players start to think of themselves and play their own game but it was the opposite. We were aggressive and we score more goals.”
The first strike was delivered by David Silva, getting on the end of the first of a series of pinpoint whipped crosses from the boot of De Bruyne before a minute was up.
The second arrived from the boot of Sergio Aguero after Riyad Mahrez was upended close the byline by Ben Foster. Three, four and five came with free kick from the Algerian which deflected in off Tom Cleverley’s face, Bernardo Silva’s stooping header and Nicolas Otamendi’s unchecked arrival at the far post.
City started the second half with a sixth, Watford having several chance to clear the ball but allowing Bernardo Silva to wriggle through and stab home. He brought up the first hat-trick of his career meeting a perfect de Bruyne cross from the right with a fluff then corrective finish
De Bruyne wrapped things up with five minutes before a final whistle the Watford manager had been wanting to hear for much of the afternoon.