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.