Manchester City Scarcely Deserved Stage Middlesbrough

Gabriel Jesus saved Pep Guardiola from intense humiliation on Teesside, the young Brazilian's late header making Manchester City a scarcely deserved stage as Middlesbrough finally remembered how to score. Few could have predicted it when, with seconds gone, Jesus very nearly scored from close range, the newly fit forward only failing to obtain a sufficiently powerful touch on a ball sent whizzing across the box from Sergio Agero. Little did anybody know that would represent their menacing first-half minute as their back three failed to offer the desired assaulting springboard. The Champions League was scarcely the best advertisement for English soccer in that age. English clubs provided very little in the Club World Championship, which will be taken far more seriously by Brazilians, who believe it to be the best conquest in club soccer. Manchester United couldn't escape from a group featuring South Melbourne, Necaxa of Mexico and Vasco da Gama and Liverpool followed their miraculous win against Milan in the Champions League final with a beat to So Paulo in the Club World Championship final. If that could be an epitaph for Boro's season, Agnew's players weren't minded to surrender. Closing City down industriously, concentrating assiduously and winning their fair share of tackles, they guaranteed Guardiola had over the capriciously swirling wind to worry about. With his side yet to analyze Brad Guzan, he had real reason for anxiety.

George Friend's interception precipitated a fast break that concluded with Stewart Downing cutting back, Friend dummying and Negredo, who appeared to slip as he shaped to shoot, directing a slightly scuffed left-foot shot off a post. The acquisition of the quartet, especially Oscar, who moved straight to England from Brazil in spite of different offers, signalled a sea change in transportation trends. For years English clubs had resigned themselves to missing out on Brazilian gift to Spain and Italy because of the legacies left by infamous fellow countrymen in addition to similarities in climate, culture and playing style. Brazilians had just enjoyed limited success in England, excluding perhaps Juninho and Gilberto Silva, and the physical type of play, gruelling fixture calendar and harsh winter months were scarcely incentives. English clubs are enjoying a newfound pulling power but the Premier League still functions as a mere pit stop as much as two clubs are involved. Real Madrid and Barcelona will always stay the pinnacle for young Brazilian footballers. Coutinho may still improvement to Barcelona, where he'd be reunited with Neymar that has been a close friend since their days in Brazil's youth set-up and if Gabriel Jesus likes a couple of great seasons in Manchester, he might seem to join them when Lionel Messi and Luis Surez are winding down their careers. Not every teen hot prospect attracts bids in the European winners so, in an era when children are growing up watching their heroes play in the Premier League, England is worth being seen in too. Coutinho no doubt played a part in attracting Roberto Firmino to the club a couple of decades later. He'll also have helped motivate computer game-loving Gabriel Jesus to venture straight to Manchester City from Palmeiras, where he assisted the club clinch their first league title in year.

With his side continuing to error and still without a shot on goal, just four minutes of the second half had elapsed before Guardiola hauled Aleix Garca and Gal Clichy away, introducing Leroy San and Raheem Sterling. True to form, the English national team didn't offer much inspiration either. They failed to qualify for the USA World Cup, which Brazil won on penalties, hardly made a ripple at France as Brazil made it to the last, and were caught up in the whirlwind of Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho who were complicit in inspiring a generation of young players to appear to Spain and Italy from the quarter-finals as among their Seleo's greatest ever teams won the nation's fifth World Cup. Things started to change a month or two after that World Cup. Luiz Incio Lula da Silva, more popularly known by his nickname Lula, was elected president in October heralding a stranglehold on power because of his Partido dos Trabalhadores. Agnew is a Guardiola disciple and enthuses he has admired him and his doctrine for decades but such fandom was temporarily parked as Boro's interim manager urged his side forward. This daring strategy soon saw lvaro Negredo slicing a Fabio centre across target. It seemed that the ball needed only the slightest of touches to be deflected past Willy Caballero but no one had been in quite the right place at quite the right time. Again a Brazilian club overcame English opponents to be crowned world champions as Chelsea dropped to Corinthians. This time round, however, the losing team had three Brasileiros on the area: Ramires, Oscar and David Luiz then a national icon prior to his reckless Little Boy Lost excursion against Germany in the World Cup semi-final. At the start of the season, Willian, who'd spent a decade in the So Paulo-based club before heading to Shakhtar Donetsk, joined the Brazilian contingent in west London. Phrase that's used a lot in Brazil. Its origins go back to the first century, when the British government was pushing Brazil to quit using slaves. Treaties were drawn up and signed, which maintained the British joyful, but coffee production was bursting and slaves maintained profits up for decades to come. The law was only for show, just for the English to see. Not so long ago young Brazilian footballers who dreamed of life-changing moves across the Atlantic played to impress Italian and Spanish eyes but, as a result of the increase in popularity of the Premier League, they are now playing for the English to see. It left Guardiola's side clinging on to fourth place, a point before Manchester United and Steve Agnew's Boro agonising about what might happen to be.


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