Thierry Henry once claimed that when Jeremy Doku is running at a marker in full flight, the only thing left to do is pray. Someone really should have offered Vladimir Coufal a mat to avoid his knees succumbing to grass burns.
Formerly assistant to Roberto Martinez with Belgium, Henry has seen plenty of Doku and is insistent that the young winger is destined for great things. Even so, there was an element of surprise around Manchester City at the level of this performance, just a second appearance since a £55million move from Rennes.
Coufal didn’t know where to turn. Doku can go both ways at pace and his equaliser, seconds after the restart, came as the backpedalling West Ham full back felt he could not commit to a tackle. While the Czech deliberated over what to do, Doku curled into the corner.
This is what Pep Guardiola has not had for a long time. City signed the 21-year-old because of his unpredictability, a penchant for the unexpected.
The recruitment team saw this as a particularly useful attribute when facing teams who defend deep, which is actually the majority of the division. An attacking impulsiveness is probably the only thing they have lacked in recent seasons. The antipathy of what City are and have been, and that can only be a good thing.
Given their injury problems — Guardiola was without four big names here and teenager Oscar Bobb was the only available attacking substitute — they really needed Doku to adapt quickly.
He admitted to being shy during a debut against Fulham yet, after talks with the manager, operated with more freedom down in the capital.
Kyle Walker called Doku ‘raw’ last week and there is a sense that he could take some time to adjust, with City also mindful of needing to manage muscle problemsRead on m.allfootballapp.com