It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what has gone wrong with Manchester City’s season, but it seems it has been a culmination of reasons that has led to City’s downfall from the pinacle of the Premier League. This time last season, everything was on the up for the Blues after Manchester United began their dreadful run of form that saw them lose their 8 point lead. A year from then, all it is now for City is a matter of pride, by prolonging the celebrations at Old Trafford for as long as they can until the inevitable occurs. They slightly redeemed themselves for their unfulfilled season by earning a 2-1 victory over United on Monday night after a superb individual goal from City’s title winning hero, Sergio Aguero sealed the 3 points.
It still doesn’t account for the failed expectations of this season and there is only one man who is going to have to answer for it, Roberto Mancini. Given that the reputation and ideology of moneybag owners isn’t the most compromising or understanding when it comes to making decisions, it begs the question, has Roberto Mancini done enough to keep his job? Perhaps it is a case of what Mancini hasn’t achieved and whether City trust him to be the best suitor for the job.
As for the catalogue of reasons why City are almost certain to surrender their crown to their bitter rivals, it doesn’t seem there is not one reason more significant than the other. There isn’t an over riding impact that took its toll on the squad. City have suffered from players who haven’t been performing to their best or to the performance they should of been playing at. Their attacking trio of Aguero, Samir Nasri and David Silva have not been prolific as they were in their title-winning campaign. Aguero has only tallied 10 league goals this season compared to his 23 he bagged last year while Nasri has made 3 assists compared to his 9 last year and David Silva has made 9 assists compared to his whopping 17 the previous season.
The statistics tell their own story. But some players have been genuinely off par this season. Yaya Toure is a man mountain in the middle of the park and so far in a lot of games this year, he has been matched by the opposition when going forward. It is also fair to say that Gareth Barry hasn’t performed brilliantly this season, Javi Garcia hasn’t justified his price tag and Jack Rodwell still remains a young player with a lot of promise that hasn’t been fulfilled yet.
Matija Nastasic has had an impressive debut season but he has perhaps looked out of his depth in the heart of the defence. Although his dominant physique would suggest otherwise, pundits often forget that he is only 20 years old and has been thrown in the deep end at City. It’s going to take time to gel a partnership with captain fantastic, Vincent Kompany but in hindsight, the defence has leaked in a lot of goals this season that really they would have easily dealt with last year. Joleon Lescott has lost his place in the side and Joe Hart has looked sloppy this season. Rumours have said that he has let the hype of being one of the best goalkeepers in the world get to his head, but that is all subjective and its just hearsay.
If there is anyone who is going to know best as to what has been the main downfall to City’s season, its going to be Mancini. He has accused his players of putting in a lack of effort this season and not enough heart in the race for the title. What Mancini has said could be partially true and he of course be the first person to know, but does the blame still lie Mancini in that regard? He could perhaps be accused of failing to motivate his squad at the most crucial part of the season. They have suffered some surprising results against teams that were at the bottom end of the table which include draws against QPR, Stoke and West Ham and crushing defeats to Everton and Southampton.
It is conceivable to think that the starting 11 for those games may have been a little complacent when coming up against such teams at the lower end of the table and have been caught cold. There is definitely a case that Man City have also failed to capitalise on failed opportunities in matches. Their quad of strikers, Aguero, Edin Dezeko, Carlos Tevez and now minus Mario Balotelli were the figurehead of a frightening attack that amassed 93 league goals last campaign. So far after 31 games, they have only managed 57 goals. They would have to score 6 goals a game for the rest of the season to surpass last seasons total. Clearly they have been shy in front of goal. But again, is it Mancini to blame for their lack of goalscoring prowess?
Perhaps its a case of failing in man management with his squad. There is one glaring case that would glorify that statement. At the beginning of January, Mancini and Mario Balotelli were involved in a rather aggressive training ground bust-up when Mancini was incensed at a late and dangerous tackle Balotelli did on Scott Sinclair and decided to get physical with the Italian striker. The two were separated and a press came calling. It was the final straw and Balotelli transferred back to his native Italy with AC Milan.
The images are shocking and showed just how unstable the squad was and how much tension was in the City camp. Mancini was a big believer in Balotelli but he was also a big believer that his antics and reputation prevented him from being one of the world’s best footballers. It made it all the more frustrating for Mancini and in the end, it all bubbled over and the mess ensued on the training ground leaving a bitter taste. But maybe this wasn’t the way he should of reacted.
The season is reaching its climax now and Man City owner Sheikh Mansour could be reassuring the Italian man that his job his safe or he could be wielding the managerial axe come the end of the campaign. Many would be surprised to see the latter occur considering he brought them their first Premier League title and their first league win in over 42 years. City can still achieve silverware by the end of the season, they are still in the FA Cup and have already won the Charity Shield at the beginning of the year which is a bonus. If Mancini were to go, there would be a very small shortlist to replace him, but top of that list would certainly be Jose Mourinho, and many City fans would like that idea.