I’ve said it before, but I really do believe City have the best team of the season on paper. It’s not just their starting 11 but the depth of a squad that has cost around £820,000,000 to assemble. The kind of depth that allows Adebayor to be out on loan for 2 seasons, and for Tevez to sit in South America for half the year.
But somehow City appear to have blown what was a great opportunity for them to win the league. It’s a year of no real stand-out teams. Arsenal, Spurs, and Chelsea have had up and downs all season, and all suffered from Management rumours or sackings. Even though United sit in first many of their own fans will confess this line-up will not sit alongside the greatest of United teams. A good United team, but surely one City’s expensive stars could topple.
So where did it go wrong for City?
Man United have been so stable, so solid this season that it borders on being boring. City have been far from boring. The Tevez strop and subsequent exile struck early in the season, and in the space of one match City lost one of the top players, and leaders both on and off the pitch, from the previous season. This was followed with the almost EastEnders like twist of Tevez making a dramatic comeback to the City team like Dirty Den returning from the grave (cue dun,dun,dun,da,da,dun outro music).
This was followed by Dzeko’s strop when he was substituted back in September. This was slightly brushed under the rug, but behind the scenes is all really forgiven? Dzeko, has not been as bad an offender as Tevez or Balotelli, but we have also seen his temperamental side.
Then we have the one-man car crash that is Mario Balotelli. Even his defenders out there must realise how destabilising it is for a club to have one of their top striker behave so badly that his own manager admits he ‘can’t trust him’. Balotelli has been trouble all season, but now he looks more and more likely to leave in the near future, and he looks like he knows it. Still scoring, but dragging down team morale every time he pulls a stunt.
A title fight needs unity more than anything else, and City have almost none to speak of.
Mancini has cracked under the pressure
After mentioned the prima-donna players, we can’t let the manager escape the same scrutiny.
I like Mancini, and I believe given more time he will lead City on to success. But this doesn’t excuse his odd decisions and emotional reactions that have become more and more commonplace as the season has worn on.
This was epitomised in City’s draw against Sunderland. Mancini argued with officials, ignored James Milner, called out his strikers, and seemed sulky and dejected in the post-match interview.
Post-match Mancini told the press “Mario did nothing for 70 minutes but scored two goals. I don’t like it when he plays like this.”
“I don’t like anything about his display because it is my opinion that a player of his quality cannot behave like this. Mario has everything he needs to do his job but he doesn’t understand his situation very well.”
It seems Mancini is doing the very opposite of what Mourinho use to do in his interviews. Mourinho relieved pressure on his player by drawing a target upon himself. Mancini obviously doesn’t believe in this and is willing to throw anyone else under the bus of media pressure. The players have noticed.
This culminated a few weeks ago with The Daily Star (apparently it has news and not just boobs), reporting there had been a player revolt against Mancini.
A manager with crumbling confidence is always bad, but coupled with the kind of egos mentioned previously in City’s dressing room it’s been disastrous.
At The Etihad City have won an impressive 15 matches out of 16. They’ve scored 47 goals in these games, and conceded just 10. Meanwhile United have lost 2 of their home games this season, and scored less and conceded more.
But the away form shows where they have gone wrong. They have had great results on the road. They defeat Spurs 5-1 (sob) and United 6-1. But these have been exceptions to the rule, and City have been inconsistent away. They have lost to Sunderland and Swansea away, and have only taken draws from Stoke and WBA.
Compare that to a United team that have 11 away games (compared to City’s 7), and you can see where that points gap has begun to open up.
As City look likely to end the season trophyless Mancini and some of the clubs biggest players may find themselves victims of Sheikh Mansour’s ruthless drive for success.
So question of the day – Give Mancini another year to deal with a tough squad? Or ditch him, most of the dramas are his fault anyway?
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