Saturday, March 5, 2011

Manchester City Continue To Toil In Pursuit Of Champions League

The look of wry displeasure on the face of Roberto Mancini's face, after watching his side struggle to a fortuitous 1-0 win over bottom of the table Wigan Athletic, said volumes about the quality of City's play over the last few weeks.

After losing at Old Trafford, City were dismal in a 1-1 home draw against a Fulham team led by former manager Mark Hughes. City created little that day, and were punished by a clinical Fulham side who took advantage of their one real opportunity of the game.

City were, if possible, even worse today, and it was only a horrendous goalkeeping error, which allowed them to take all three points. With Chelsea winning on Tuesday and Spurs always a threat, if City continue to play as badly as they have for the last two weeks, then they can expect to lose their precious Champions League spot.

A look at the fixture list tells you all you need to know about what the rest of the season will be like for City. In the coming weeks they will have to visit both Stamford Bridge and Anfield, before facing a testing home encounter against Tottenham. One would imagine that the shoddy performances produced in the Sky Blues' last two matches will not be enough to see them through against sides of the caliber of Spurs, Chelsea and Liverpool, and with less than a healthy margin between themselves and fifth, City may be facing another season of Europa League.

However, all is not lost for Manchester's second team, and if Carlos Tevez can recover any semblance of his old goalscoring form then Mancini's side will fancy themselves to hold on to their top four spot. But, with Tevez still misfiring at the moment, City supporters will have to look to big money signings Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko to come up with the goods. Dzeko is still yet to find the net in the Premier League, and his four strikes this season have all come against lowly opposition, in the form of Notts County and Aris Salonika. Meanwhile, Balotelli remains as moody as ever, despite recent goals against Fulham and Aston Villa.

If City once again fail to secure Champions League football, one wonders whether Roberto Mancini will meet the same fate as his unfortunate predecessors, Mark Hughes and Sven Goran Eriksson. Both the Swede and the Welshman were sacked in acrimonious circumstances, with Hughes going directly following a win over Sunderland, and Sven being fired at the end of City's most successful Premier League season. In fact, the latter of those two dismissals was so ill received that City fans held a protest in front of the ground. Unfortunately for Mancini, despite his apparent popularity at the moment, he can expect no such warm sympathy if it is he who is sacked at the end of the season following an unsuccessful campaign.

What City's struggles in the last few weeks have proved, is that more than money is needed for a football club to become successful. A club needs a brain, one that isn't transplanted every others season. A club needs a heart, one that's cells show up for in their numbers for every match, not just the important ones. And, most importantly, for a club to become a truly great team, it needs a set of organs, one that is given time to develop, to work in tandem, not one that is chopped and changed by a couple rich Arab men, thousands of miles away.

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