Palmer gives Guardiola food for thought as Man City enhance legacy with Super Cup victory

Jason Soutar
Cole Palmer heads in to equalise for Manchester City against Sevilla.
Cole Palmer heads in to equalise for Manchester City against Sevilla.

Cole Palmer has shown Pep Guardiola there is no need to sign a Riyad Mahrez replacement with an impressive performance in Manchester City’s UEFA Super Cup win over Sevilla. He is more than capable of being that guy. Finding a Kevin De Bruyne replacement is a different story, though.


In his first pre-match press conference of the Premier League season, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said: “Cole is with us. Today he is with us. What is going to happen, I don’t know. I understand he wants to be more active than the previous season. But Riyad has gone so we have one more place there.”

Palmer’s name was brought up amid rumours he could be used by City in a deal to sign West Ham United’s Lucas Paqueta. If the 21-year-old’s performances in pre-season, the Under-21 European Championships and City’s opening three fixtures of 2023/24 were not enough to convince Pep (who obviously knows a lot better than me), who knows what is?

The England Under-21 winger was Manchester City’s best outfield player on the night they beat Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup. He had World Cup winner Marcos Acuna on toast on several occasions as he stole some of the headlines in a Glorified Friendly for the second time in a matter of weeks. His goal against Arsenal in the Community Shield was a peach, but the header to equalise against Sevilla was a beauty in its own right.

City rode their luck on the night, going 1-0 down to a thunderous Youssef En-Nesyri header before giving up chance after chance to the Moroccan striker. Their game plan was not working against a very stubborn and deep Sevilla backline, until Palmer was found at the back post by Rodri, who put a sublime cross on a plate for the youngster to loop a clever header over the head of En-Nesryi’s club and international teammate, Bono.

A huge factor in City’s failure to win in 90 minutes was the lack of that creative spark. Without Kevin de Bruyne, City struggled to create any clear-cut chances – except the goal – and Erling Haaland had one of those anonymous nights that can happen when playing against a deep block. When up against a team like Sevilla, Haaland will either do nothing and score two or three, or do nothing and have people question why Manchester City bought him. Unless those questions are no longer being asked after the club’s Treble win. Time will tell on that one.

Before the penalty shoot-out, which City won 5-4, the star men for both teams were their goalkeepers. Bono made some huge saves to deny Nathan Ake twice and Ederson was called into action a lot more often than anyone anticipated, thwarting shot after shot from goalscorer En-Nesyri. Ederson could do nothing about the goal he conceded and the same can be said about Bono with Palmer’s close-range header.

And that looping header is another piece of evidence that shows replacing Riyad Mahrez is not a pressing issue Pep Guardiola will be desperate to address.

The Algerian is one of the best wingers in Premier League history but has called it a day in England, moving to Saudi Arabia. City have been linked with a few wingers following his exit. Michael Olise is one who fit the ideal profile but is off to Chelsea and Rennes’ Jeremy Doku is a different type of player but one Guardiola reportedly likes. It is going to be another long, tiring season for the European champions, but Palmer’s development should be a reason to save some pennies.

Meanwhile, buying Lucas Paqueta was a priority for Guardiola before De Bruyne suffered a long-term injury and if Wednesday’s game against Sevilla is anything to go by, it is important that Guardiola gets the Brazilian through the door.

Even without De Bruyne, Manchester City managed to come out on top against Sevilla in the end and that is all that matters. Having won the Champions League, City are Super Cup champions and will now look towards dominating their 23/24 Champions League group before completing their quest for world domination, having conquered Europe.

The Club World Cup kicks off in December and City will face a decent test in Saudi Arabian side Al-Ittihad, who now have Fabinho, N’Golo Kante and Karim Benzema. We reckon they will be alright.

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