QPR relegated with a whimper as Aguero and City cruise to easy win
MANCHESTER -- A trio of thoughts from Manchester City's 6-0 win over Queens Park Rangers; a result that confirmed relegation for Chris Ramsey's side.
QPR relegated with a whimper
Some teams go down fighting -- but not QPR. Given their lamentable efforts in their last two Premier League seasons, that should be no surprise. Yet there is a pertinent contrast. The paupers of Burnley were relegated despite winning away at Hull. Rangers, albeit in a far tougher game, fielded a much more expensive team and raised the white flag. A sorry mess of a side were behind inside four minutes and resigned to relegation long before referee Mike Dean blew the final whistle.
They go down with the division's worst defensive record, an unwanted distinction they had even before Manchester City struck six times. They had a wretched away record even before suffering a 15th defeat on the road. They have lost more games than anyone else this season. It is not hard to find reasons for relegation.
The search for a successful formula has lasted all year. In a despairing gesture, manager Chris Ramsey switched to 3-5-2. He was unable to find an answer to a rampant Sergio Aguero. The Argentine went unchecked for the first 30 yards of his diagonal dart into the danger area to score an opener. The battle between a slick, quick sprinter and three static central defenders was a mismatch.
Robert Green got nowhere near Aleksandar Kolarov's free kick for the second goal. Yun Suk-Young allowed David Silva's pass to run under his foot to Aguero, who accelerated away to score the third. His personal treble was completed from the penalty spot. Silva surged into open space to add a sixth in City's biggest league win of the season. It amounted to a defensive horror show from Rangers and the warmest applause for one of their centre-backs came from the City fans for Richard Dunne, their Player of the Year in four successive seasons.
Further forward, the choice of Bobby Zamora alongside Charlie Austin in attack reflected the need to win after Saturday's results. Austin duly found the net with a fine finish, though he was rightly ruled offside. Zamora should have scored, but headed straight at Joe Hart after Leroy Fer's lob had rebounded back off the bar. Austin, at least, should be in the Premier League next season. The same cannot be said for many of his overpaid, underachieving colleagues.
It rather summed up the farcical air of events around Loftus Road over the last three years, meanwhile, that Sandro had to be omitted altogether because of problems with his British residency visa. Rangers' permit to play in the Premier League has also been revoked.
Aguero's Golden Boots
When City chief executive Ferran Soriano said in 2012 that he wanted City to win five trophies in as many years, it is safe to assume he didn't have the Golden Boot in mind.
It looks as though it will be the only silverware to end up at the Etihad Stadium, though. With each week, Aguero appears likelier to end the season as the Premier League's top scorer.
A 23rd Premier League goal of the season equalled the club record, set by Carlos Tevez and equalled by Aguero himself in 2011-12; a 24th gave him the record on his own. A 25th sealed his third hat-trick of the season. It also extended his lead over Harry Kane in this season's scoring charts to five goals. His current run stands at eight in five games and he has finally regained the momentum he showed before he was injured in December.
He is defined by a goal against QPR. Not this well-taken treble of course, but the 94th-minute, title-winning effort in May 2012. That cemented his position in City folklore. This goal glut increased his chances of getting a consolation prize in a season when City's major ambitions have gone unrealised. While he faced an abject defence, Aguero illustrated his quality.
His conversion rate is the best in Premier League history, but he is much more than simply a finisher. A delightful, outside-of-the-boot pass set up a chance for James Milner while he eventually provided the Englishman's tap-in.
This has been the season where he has destroyed the suggestion he needs a more sizeable foil in attack. That may represent bad news for Edin Dzeko and Wilfried Bony, who both began on the bench again, but the way forward for City should be to play 4-2-3-1 with Aguero alone in attack.
Deposed champions settle in top three
There is no way City's 2015 can be presented as a success. The best team they have defeated in the calendar year is Tottenham. They have still lost six of their last 12 games. Yet it isn't as bad as it threatened to be.
A run of four successive victories shows they have halted the slide. This victory, coupled with their goal difference, means they only require another point to clinch a fifth successive top-three finish. None of that amounts to a resounding endorsement of manager Manuel Pellegrini. Indeed, there is a case for saying this rout merely proved they should have done better earlier.
Yet while their futures are uncertain, there is quality in their ranks. This was a match to illustrate both aspects. Kolarov could be one of the summer departures, with City showing interest in other left-backs. Milner's reluctance to sign a new contract is an indication he is on his way. Frank Lampard, bound for New York City FC, definitely is, and the standing ovation when he was substituted felt like a valedictory one. This may prove his final appearance at the Etihad Stadium. Yaya Toure, whose agent Dimitri Seluk said he is "90 percent certain" to leave, came on to resounding cheers.
He turns 32 on Wednesday. It remains to be seen if he will be a City player on his 33rd birthday.
Richard Jolly covers the Premier League and Champions League for ESPN FC. Twitter: @RichJolly.