PLAY IT SHORT: Pellegrini has Nasri smiling again; No media tears for Di Canio; Traore shows where Moyes is going; Mourinho better for ditching 'Happy One' tag
PELLEGRINI HAS NASRI SMILING AGAIN
Samir Nasri tore Chris Smalling apart at the Etihad. The Manchester City midfielder, in combination with Aleksandar Kolarov, dominated the left-side of City's midfield and was consistently involved in the home team's best moments. That David Silva was missing was only a footnote thanks to Nasri, who is back to his best under manager Manuel Pellegrini. And he was playing with a smile on his face, happily joking during tense moments either side of halftime. Silva is regarded as City's best creative option, but Nasri in his current mood is a genuine challenger. He was irresistible on City's biggest day of the season.
PUNDITS HAVE FIELD DAY WITH DI CANIO SACKING
There'll be few tears shed within the media over Paolo di Canio's demise. Plenty of finger wagging and 'I told you so's', though. Certainly no hand wringing over the need to 'give a manager time'. Michael Owen summed up the reaction, claiming Sunderland players were right to be upset with PDC for cutting short their summer holidays. Oh, diddums. And this guy's wants to influence English youth development? Self-entitlement perhaps is a phrase that goes over Owen's head. In any case, the one positive from this fiasco is there's some outstanding managerial candidates to fill the void. Roberto di Matteo is favourite, Gus Poyet and Steve McClaren have been mentioned, as has been Rangers legend Ally McCoist, a former Sunderland player.
MOYES WANTS A CENTRE-FORWARD SIGNING
Dmitri Selyuk's revelation last week about Manchester United's offer for Lacina Traore shouldn't surprise. Selyuk, who counts Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure among his stable, revealed that Anzhi owner Suleiman Kerimov rejected United's offer only because he didn't want to leave his team short after their dramatic firesale over the summer. At 6ft 8in, Traore is the type of centre-forward David Moyes has enjoyed working with at Everton. From Victor Anichebe to Kevin Campbell, with the likes of Brian McBride and James Beattie in-between, Moyes enjoys having that physical, attacking presence to call upon. Both he and assistant manager Steve Round have been quick to point out how different, physically, Marouane Fellaini, is compared to his midfield colleagues and you fancy Moyes is thinking the same is needed in attack. Danny Welbeck could offer that in the future, but he isn't the back-to-goal centre-forward his manager is seeking. There's plenty of buzz about a new left-back signing and trying again for Athletic Bilbao's Ander Herrera in January. But United fans shouldn't be surprised if a new centre-forward in the mould of Traore arrives when the transfer window reopens.
MOYES LETS BRUNO GOMES SLIP THROUGH NET
So what now for Manchester United's partnership with Deportivo Brasil? Those close to both clubs regarded Bruno Gomes as a nailed on certainty to make it at United. The striker, whose just turned 18, had been a regular visitor to Carrington for the past 18 months as he lit up the local youth competitions with Desportivo. But United manager David Moyes appears to have passed on Gomes with Udinese in advanced negotiations for the teen. The Italians rarely get it wrong in the transfer market, especially from South America. Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona), Cristian Zapata (AC Milan) and Mauricio Isla (Juventus) have all been signed and sold on for big money. That Udinese are prepared to pay €6 million for Gomes, at just 18 years of age, shows how highly they think of him. Just what is Moyes doing allowing this talent to slip the net? And where does such a decision leave the Desportivo Brasil partnership?
CABRAL AND AGENT DID THE DECENT THING
Wow! A foreign player is frozen out and rather than attack the manager, both he and HIS AGENT (an even bigger surprise!) vow to get his head down and work on convincing his boss he's worthy of selection. Given the pressure that was on Paolo di Canio, Cabral and his agent, Walter Fernandez, did the Italian a huge favour with the approach to his axing. It could have easily gone the way of Florian Marange at Crystal Palace. And with the media just waiting to pounce on any hint of protest inside the Sunderland camp, Cabral could've gone to town. Instead, he's shown a great professional approach, the sort Di Canio tried to drive throughout the club. The Swiss looked a real, quality addition in preseason. You hope his attitude is rewarded by PDC's successor.
MOURINHO DITCHES THE 'HAPPY ONE' TAG
A dig at Ruud Gullit. A swipe for Jamie Redknapp. Out with the 'Happy One', it's good to have the old Jose Mourinho back. Chelsea needs him. Even Kenny Dalglish described the Blues boss this week as a "manager in transition". But perhaps the Basel defeat and seeing how the pundits were so quick to turn the screw jolted Mourinho back to his old self. No more faffing about. With a derby to win, dumped were Juan Mata and David Luiz, two players Mourinho has had doubts about since his arrival, and three points were secured against Fulham. That Oscar, who Mourinho talked up as a better fit than Mata going into the game, scored was just reward for the manager's decisiveness. But the great irony for Mourinho, as he grapples with this squad of No10's and Roman Abramovich's desire for a change of style, is that this same weekend Barcelona's players were defending their coach Tata Martino and his abandoning of the tiki-taka system, so favoured by Chelsea's Russian owner. Surely Abramovich must rethink his demands if Barca's players can recognise the faults in their own, self-congratulatory playing style.
HULL MUST REGRET NOT GETTING ALUKO SIGNATURE ON DEAL
Talking of faffing about. The Allam family must now regret their dithering over Sone Aluko's new contract. Negotiations have been ongoing for months and by the midfielder's comments last week, there's little hope of resolution anytime soon. The midfielder's asking price may already be out of reach for Hull given his performance at Newcastle United. The winner apart, Aluko's display was strictly five-star and a complete midfield performance. After being released by Aberdeen and winning a contract with Rangers only after trials, the 24 year-old Nigeria international showed at St James' Park he belongs at this level. The performance was a great triumph for Aluko's belief and drive - and also Steve Bruce's eye for potential. It's just unfortunate the more we see of Aluko, the less likely he'll be a Hull player next season.