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Time for the Smile to return!

So when did it switch around? From being the side that was tagged as useless away from home but invincible at Eastlands to the side that regularly picks up points on its travels but can`t win at home for toffee. Typical City to some or Cityitis as Joe Royle once penned it; it seems that regardless of the owner or manager the club that never quite gets it right is at it once again.

The season that promised so much seems to be in decline. Victory at Old Trafford has been followed by one point from home games with Everton and Wigan and talk of the fourth champions league spot has changed to hopes of qualifying for the intertoto cup.

Nowhere was there a more fitting image than that of Elano trudging off the pitch in the Manchester rain on Saturday evening. Having been given a good kicking by the limited but streetwise Michael Brown, he left the pitch portraying the image of a man that just didn`t fancy it. Gone are the sunny days of late autumn when Sven`s new charges played upstarts to the 'big four` and had the audacity to gatecrash Sky`s 'Super Sunday`. The image of Elano spoke volumes.

So where has it all gone wrong, if indeed it has? Most City fans would have told you pre-season that a top ten finish was all Sven needed to deliver in his first season in charge. Such was the dirge being produce in the previous two seasons that a simple diet of entertaining football would have sufficed. The problem is it all took off a little too quickly. When the majority of the season has been spent competing with the 'big four` the sudden downturn in fortunes looks all the more dramatic as expectations are shattered.

Being City fans we should know better. How dare we dream of European football when we know that reality would eventually hit home?

But we should dream. This is a new City with a proven manager and players with the ability to turn things around. Sven has this week acknowledged the need for a change in tactics. Counter attack is all well and good at Old Trafford but at home to a Wigan side intent on defence? Not a chance.

The team has ten games to turn things around. Perhaps the immediate future playing three in four away from home will help; it should give time to adapt from the counter attacking side we are to a more fluent attacking side. There are enough forwards at the club to play with two up front and with Elano not performing of late there is no need to adjust the side to fit him in the role he occupied for most of the season.

Perhaps change will suit the Brazilian genius; a team not totally reliant on his creativity may be the environment for him to find his form and let the smile return to both his and the club`s fortunes.




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The journalist

Writer: Andy Leggott Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday March 4 2008

Time: 7:24PM

Your Comments

I think what we lack are the wingers to get behind the opposing defense and get the balls into the box. With Petrov missing another two matches, who fills that role, I just cannot see we have any strength in that department. We have had a brilliant season and won the majority of games on good football, but all is not lost we are still a good side who are capable of beating most teams in the premier, why not play 433 or 4312 to be precise. playing Elano just back of the front 2. Johnson Hamann and take your choice across the middle. Benji and one other up front.
Buzz Lightyear
all gone a bit pear-shaped at home hasn't t?
merlin
ten games is still 30 Points to win or lose, lots can happen....
Blue is the colour
Time to play Benjani and Caicedo up front with a midfield of Hamann Johnson Fernandes and Geovanni. At the back Garrido in for Ball that would give us the attacking options of Garrido down the left and Garrido down the right to fire in the crosses for the TWO strikers. ...By the way what has happened to Bojinov, he had a game in the Reserves a couple of weeks ago and nothing has been heard of him since.
alphieblues
SGE wants to bring on Bojinov slowly, because of the nature of the injury, there is no need to rush him into action and reserve team football does not have the same pressures as the Premier.
Buzz Lightyear
Merlin, top ten for us is a successful season, more points than we ever had. The double over the rags and the barcodes, not bad for a manager who had only a few weeks before the deadline to buy in players and get them to bond. 10 games to go and still only two defeats at home.
Buzz Lightyear
Solid article, Andy and hello again, Blues! I'm certainly in favour of going 442 until the end of the season and seeing where it takes us. For that, however, we need beef in midfield. Coming to that later this week. I think Caicedo has certainly earned a start and I'm relieved to see The Boj has not been thrown into the mix too early. Reading has become a very important fixture and a new system might just throw a few teams.
Johnny Baguette
Buzz, alphie. Understand that Bojinov had started to struggle and the management have taken him out of competitive action while they build up the muscle in his leg. I get the feeling we might not see him again this season. Same goes for Richards from what I've heard.
Johnny Baguette
It won't be the end of the world if they both miss the rest of the season, in fact it might be a good thing in the long run. I had noticed that Micah had gone off a bit in his last five or six matches which coincided with our bad run, I guess he had been carrying the injury for some time. A good rest and they both come back all guns blazing with the rest of our star signings next season !!!
alphieblues
Again, I agree with you. Boy, can we look forward to next season this time around!
Johnny Baguette
To be honest, I can't believe you're not still very happy with how things are going. Think of last season - you were awful with no disrespect meant to Stuart Pearce. Sven has lifted you up to the top half of the table in one season, whilst building a lot of the team from scratch. If you finish anywhere in the top half, that's got to be considered a result, even if not quite the fairytale that the start of the season seemed to promise. Progression isn't always quick.
The_Legend_Of_Zola
You're right, The_Legend_Of_Zola! I think we've all been so success starved for so long that seeing the side stay in the top 6 for most of the season put us all into dreamland. The reality is that Sven has started to put together a young City squad and the mix of Academy graduates and internationals will still be taking time to come together. If Sven and Hans Backe do get us into Europe from being relegation certs, then they are miracle workers!
Johnny Baguette
And also - he got you something nearly as valuable as a top 6 finish: The double over United. Sven is a true great as a club manager.
The_Legend_Of_Zola
You know, whatever happens right now, there is a kind of a comfort zone knowing Svennis is in charge! His interviews are a breath of fresh air and he is always cool as they come. I can also confirm he regulalry takes part in the City Roadshows meeting the fans and gets stuck into "City In The Community." He's a real ambassador for the club.
Johnny Baguette
 

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