THERE have been no sightings of Pep Guardiola smuggling himself right into a laundry basket and being wheeled into the Manchester Metropolis dressing-room at half-time final evening.
However as Metropolis have been despatched on their option to a shock opening-night defeat by Lyon, the banned Metropolis supervisor should half have been sorely tempted to take a leaf from the e-book of soiled tips favoured by his previous mucker Jose Mourinho.
Maybe it was mere coincidence that this defeat arrived with Guardiola banished to the stand – however Metropolis lacked their traditional fluency within the absence of their touchline hip priest.
Particular person blunders from Fabian Delph and Fernandinho have been accountable for Lyon’s 2-Zero half-time lead, so it could be tough to level the finger at understudy Mikel Arteta, who was handed full controls of the train-set.
But there at all times one thing completely different when a provide instructor is in cost and Metropolis’s straight-A college students performed up one thing rotten.
Bernardo Silva pulled one aim again halfway by way of the second half however Metropolis couldn’t discover a leveller.
In a comfortable-looking group containing Hoffenheim and Shakhtar Donetsk, you’ll nonetheless fancy Metropolis to emerge into the knock-out stage.
However what must have been an easy draw has been difficult drastically by this outcome.
The bookies had determined that after years of under-achievement within the Champions League, this may be Metropolis’s 12 months to overcome Europe — making them pre-tournament favourites.
It was fairly a leap of religion provided that Metropolis have reached only one semi-final in seven stabs on the factor and even then they’d stank the place out towards Actual Madrid beneath Manuel Pellegrini.
Regardless of his early heroics with Barcelona, Guardiola additionally has a modest Champions League document of late, in his final seven campaigns he has didn’t information both Barca, Bayern Munich or Metropolis to the final 4.
Whereas knock-out soccer can at all times be haphazard, that document is turning into a blemish on his sainted popularity.
From the 1000’s of empty seats to the continued booing of the Champions League anthem, acceptable on purely musical grounds on the very least, there’s a feeling that Metropolis have by no means clasped this competitors to their bosom.
Not that anybody envisaged what was about to unfold on the opening evening of this marketing campaign.
Lyon are mid-table within the French prime flight and have three Manchester rejects of their beginning line-up — Memphis Depay and Rafael, beforehand of United, and Jason Denayer, as soon as a kind of Metropolis children destined for nice issues who by no means get an opportunity.
For some time it seemed like being routine — Sterling making a nuisance of himself, David Silva sorcering about, Aymeric Laporte heading towards a submit.
However within the 27th minute, Lyon shredded the agenda, with important assist from Delph.
Nabil Fekir, who virtually joined Liverpool in the summertime, delivered a low cross from the left which requested a routine clearance from the England man, in isolation on the far submit.
But Delph developed a second left foot, misjudged horribly and allowed Maxwel Cornet to sneak up behind and side-foot previous Ederson.
You assumed Metropolis would get into rapid-response unit mode. Ilkay Gundogan netted however solely after the whistle had blown for a marginal offside towards Sterling.
Then Delph noticed a deflected shot well saved by Anthony Lopes and Gabriel Jesus had an honest shout for a penalty when he tumbled over the out-stretched leg of Rafael.
However Metropolis’s passing was sloppy, one miscued cross try from Kyle Walker, straight into the group, summing up their shoddiness.
And two minutes earlier than the break, Fekir launched a bloody nice cat into the pigeon loft — robbing Fernandinho, executing a swift one-two with Memphis, then slotting previous Ederson.
Guardiola, up within the second tier of the Colin Bell Stand along with his son Marius, remained vaguely deadpan however should have been seething inside.
Whereas outcomes have been positive, there have been indicators of Metropolis creaking a bit of at the beginning of the season.
A draw at newly-promoted Wolves, a slender residence win over Newcastle and regardless of a Three-Zero thumping of Fulham, a efficiency which had Guardiola raging at their sloppiness.
But discovering themselves on this predicament was nonetheless a shock to their system.
Arteta made no half-time switches however quickly despatched on Leroy Sane for Gundogan.
But after Jesus had a low shot saved, Lyon carved out an excellent likelihood to stitch it up.
Cornet, very a lot in tune, sliced open the Metropolis defence along with his cross and Memphis out-paced Walker — no imply feat — solely to thump his shot towards within the submit.
It felt like a possible game-changer and, after Sergio Aguero arrived instead of Jesus, Metropolis gained a foothold halfway by way of the second half.
The transfer stemmed from John Stones successful possession with a masterful deal with earlier than Sane was launched on the left, beat his man and reduce for Bernardo Silva to steer residence a shot.
Aguero then drilled a shot from the sting of the world, forcing Lopes into an instinctive save.
The Argentine, who had been benched after struggling a minor knock on Saturday, got here closest to an equaliser with a burst of pace to get him behind the Lyon defence, just for his shot to be saved by Lopes.
However the French membership weren’t precisely put beneath excessive ranges of stress, Metropolis unable to cross their opponents to loss of life as is so usually the case.
With out Guardiola at hand, it simply wasn’t fairly the identical.