Gabriel Jesus scored on his Premier League debut
Tuesday had been a special night for City as all four of the teams above them contrived to drop points.
Thirteen points behind, 16 games still to go. That was still doable, right? Certainly from the moment Pep Guardiola handed in a team-sheet with Claudio Bravo on the bench it seemed like the Manchester City manager was sending out a message – it is time to get serious.
The calamity keeper had not made a save since January 2 and had seen his last six shots in the Premier League sail past him into the back of the net. It seems, finally, even Guardiola had had enough.
It was a night for making the big decisions, after all. With just one win in the past four league games, popular and out-of-work former manager Roberto Mancini decided this was an appropriate time to check in on his old club. He was treated to a Guardiola masterclass.
Admittedly, West Ham could not have been more willing stooges.
Kevin de Bruyne celebrates after opening the scoring for Man City against West Ham
Jose Fonte made his debut as they began life after Dimitri Payet while the Frenchman’s more direct replacement, Robert Snodgrass, started on the bench.
In all fairness to the £10.2 million signing, last night was not one where his presence from the start would have made the least bit difference.
On a very East End night, City were slippery as eels, West Ham’s defence wobbled like jelly.
Aaron Cresswell gave the ball to Kevin De Bruyne in central midfield after 17 minutes – one of three City players who could have intercepted a simply awful pass.
He strode forward, played a neat one-two with Gabriel Jesus, and side-footed the ball past the static Darren Randolph and into the corner of the goal.
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David Silva doubling City's lead against West Ham at the London Stadium
Four minutes later, Leroy Sane beat Sam Byram all ends up, ghosted past Fonte and when Randolph could only get his fingers to the low cross, David Silva was presented with a simple tap-in at the far post.
From Mark Noble’s exuberant tackling to Cresswell’s woeful finish when put clear by Andy Carroll’s clever pass, West Ham lacked the composure to keep this decent.
Sure enough, another misplaced pass, this time from Pedro Obiang, was all the invitation City needed to stretch their lead further.
Sane was on it like a shot, his pass to Raheem Sterling was selflessly knocked back into the path of Jesus who supplied the finish.
Cue TV cameras cutting to Sergio Aguero sat eyes wide in an emotionless stare, jiggling restlessly on the bench. Bravo was not the only player guaranteed to produce goals left out of the City starting line-up last night.
Yaya Toure scoring City's fourth goal from the penalty spot
It was inevitable that Snodgrass, at least, was going to get a run out and he began his West Ham career in the 64th minute to a concerted cheer and polite applause after an extensive briefing from Slaven Bilic.
He seemed to be entering little more than a training exercise, West Ham having all but abandoned any hope of pressing close while Manchester City were at last showing a bit of mercy.
It wasn’t to last. Within moments of the substitution, Sterling lured Fonte into conceding a hopelessly clumsy penalty and Yaya Toure did the honours from the spot.
And as for Aguero? He finally got his chance in the 73rd minute. It was a brief cameo to keep him ticking over.
After all, he has 15 more games to get his inevitable haul of goals.
Chelsea be warned.
WEST HAM (4-2-3-1): Randolph 6; Byram 5, Reid 6, Fonte 5, Cresswell 4; Obiang 5 (Snodgrass 64, 6), Noble 6; Antonio 6, Lanzini 5, Feghouli 5 (Fern- andes 64, 5); Carroll 5 (Fletcher 79). Booked: Obiang, Lanzini, Carroll. NEXT UP: Southampton (a), Sat PL.
MAN CITY (4-1-4-1): Caballero 6; Sagna 6, Stones 7, Otamendi 6, Kolarov 5; Toure 6; Sane 7, Silva 7 (Delph 80), De Bruyne 8 (Fernandinho 68, 6), Sterling 8 (Aguero 73); Jesus 8. Booked: De Bruyne, Sterling. Goals: De Bruyne 17, Sane 21, Jesus 39, Toure 67pen. NEXT UP: Swansea (h), Sun PL.
Referee: K Friend (Leicester).