‘Okay, a convincing win against Aris’, says George Caveney QC.
Dzeko is finding his feet, in the European environment at least. There is a consistency and depth to the squad we’ve not really had for a long time while the pace of change in the dressing room and with the infrastructure has been giddying.
Sure, there are worrisome injuries and a hefty fixture commitment coming up, but we’re not the only ones with these challenges, and it’s what big teams playing in several competitions have to prepare for, come what may. We’re learning, and we’re learning quick.
Aris were tenacious at home and had a formidable record to defend, which they did with a plum. Sorry, aplomb. Tenacity is something City lacked in spades until recently. It’s not a feature of anyone’s game I admire or find particularly exciting, but it’s an important facet for a side with such targets. At the level we’re aiming for, everything counts.
That final push is the hardest part. Sustaining it until you believe your own hype – and you can use this belief against the best of the rest – is just as hard. Only then does it get a little easier, and I’m talking about several seasons of sustained success. So let’s forget about the Premier League title for a bit, ‘cos it ain’t going to happen this season. Let’s put the FA Cup out of our minds for a moment. The Europa league – for my money – is where it’s at for Mancini.
It’s the only achievable source of what we need to build on, and you can tell he’s taking it seriously. I mean, we were a whisker off 4th last term, which was fair, and a great leap forward, but it doesn’t make City feel any closer. We have a stab at the FA Cup, but it won’t mean as much as the Europa League. Off the top of your head, do you know who won the European Leagues’ domestic cups last season? Exactly, unless you’re a bit ADHD and unemployed. Fourth is different, as it will simply mean the difference between a bonkers summer transfer market and a slightly less bonkers one. And the paltry matter of Champions League football. Yoinks…
So, what are City’s chances? Well, we’re touted as favourites, but Dynamo Kiev will be a very stern test. They have lots of experience in Europe, and have given many teams more formidable than this a proper shoeing at times. They can be very difficult to predict or contain, and tactically you might as well not bother, except do your own thing and hope you do it better than they do theirs. That, I guess, is simply what it boils down to.
For fear of stating the beedin’ obvious – they’d like nothing more than to chop us down, and might see the absence of Johnson, DeJong, possibly Milner, and Kompany as a weaker side against whom they can do just that.
Fortunately, I think there are enough squad players more than ready to prove their worth with the chances our injury problems will present them, and on the displays we’ve seen thus far from them, we should be pretty happy that this is not a second string filling positions. It’s the same team, doing the same things in the same way – and that’s squad depth for you.
It means Mancini has freedom instead of restricted options. It means he doesn’t have to rethink too much every time someone gets carted off the pitch screaming. He just unwraps another one and shoves them into the line of fire. Sure, individual players have their strengths and weaknesses, situations and opponents that they’re better suited to, but you know what I’m getting at.
I think Dynamo will come at us hard and fast and try to rattle us. It’s worked on us so many times before, but I think we will prevail. They’ll get tired, angry and sloppy, and then we can play our way – even if it’s only a little bit, it’s enough. I can’t wait.
Liverpool in the final.
Click here to comment on this articleor
Give us feedback on your Football Transfer Tavern experience