Date:Sunday January 10 2010
Gary Lineker this week joined the growing list of pundits and journalists who believe that a change in guard is taking place in the Premier League.
They would have you believe that Spurs, Villa and City are on the march and backed with more money than a sheik`s Gold account, the old guard of Liverpool, United and Arsenal are on the wane.
So why have the managers of these three teams not been banging their own drum to the media beat?
For since the start of the season fans from Villa, Spurs and City have been treated to a never ending barrage of modesty from their managers.
Tasked with breaking into the top 4, Martin O Neil, Harry Rednapp and Ex-Blues boss Mark Hughes had been careful not to get carried away by proclaiming themselves contenders for the Premier League Crown.
In fact, none have been quick to say that a top four finish is within their grasp with Rednapp attempting to divert pressure away from himself and Spurs by proclaiming City as the best equipped squad outside the top four to break the monopoly.
MON has been even more coy, stating on several occasions that Villa`s chances are considerably less than this time last year and regularly championing City, Liverpool and Spurs as stronger than his Midlands side.
Mark Hughes was less negative if more regimented in his views before his dismissal last month. Seemingly reading from a Cook-prepared script, Hughes was always quick to throw bucketfuls of water on any flames of hysteria that might spread through the Eastland`s faithful.
A top six finish was his target he told us and achieving that would be a major improvement on previous seasons according to Sparky.
Of course the money spent by Sparky meant that a top six finish was the bare minimum to keep his job and reputation after the vast amount of money spent on his new look City team.
Even though the manner in which he was sacked was laughable, every Blue deep down knew that he wouldn`t prove his worth in the time given to him by the City board, and his playing down of City`s chances only weakened his players resolve and board`s support.
Harry Rednapp and Martin O`Neill are also in the same boat as Top Premier League boards and supporters want dynamic leaders with the strategic nous of Napoleon, the battlefield ferocity of Alexander the Great and motivational skills of Winston Churchill.
These are the men that win campaigns and Mancini knows he must deliver Champions League football at least or he`ll be replaced by a Mourinho or Hiddink at the end of the season.
So it refreshing to see City`s new boss come in and say what we all really know, that City can push for major honours and should be up there contending for the title.
For it is this winning mentality over all other things that will push City up into the upper echelons of the Premiership. There is no surprise that the four teams that regularly contest the top spots are those teams who boast the most arrogant and self-righteous managers.
These managers "guarantee" success in Benitez`s case and each player in Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and United`s squad believes that it can and will be achieved every campaign.
Players like Rooney, Gerrard, Essien and Gallas epitomize this winning mentality and without it there is no amount of money that can push a team to win at Birmingham in the snow.
So amidst all of the laughter that has surrounded the transfer of Patrick Viera to City this week, one thing could be heard loud and clear.
Viera`s taunting of United and City going for the title, which at first appear brash and arrogant, but on reflection just go to show that he is still a winner and knows nothing else.
After winning every major honour at club and international level the former indomitable Gunner`s captain has the mindset that City need, which is why he was brought in by his old boss Mancini.
If City are to win the title they will need more shepherds like Viera in their flock and less sheep like twenty million plus Lescott and thirty million plus Robinho.
For it is these warriors that forge championship winning sides and top spot must be City`s main target from now until the end of the season.
If they believe and Mancini can keep them organized defending as a top team then City must be in with a strong shout of a top four finish and some cup silverware along the way.
If Spurs and Villa are to tag along then a change in mindset is needed there too and only then can the changing of the guard go from wishful thinking to stonewall reality.
Date:Sunday January 10 2010
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