Season Of Woe Could Be Over
City's season looks to be imploding and exploding around them as they now find themselves what for me is an unassailable twelve points behind Stretford as Everton produced their annual roly-poly at Old Trafford. Yes, I know they got a 4-4 draw there against the odds last season in a match that sent the collective red heads down, but this year it was back to business as usual as the thugs that kicked City all around the Etihad didn't have the stomach for Old Trafford.
But that cannot disguise a season of mystery and now almost misery along The Mancunian Way.
The Red-Nosed Knight has proved time and again that you do not stand still once you have fed the trophy cabinet. You strengthen and move on. That is what he has done. He has addressed his goalscoring options and whilst the Brian Marwood's of this world were seeking the bargain basement signings that Ferguson has been shopping for these past two seasons, the close-season's two best offerings were taking their business elsewhere. And City were left to buy Rodwell who only seems to move from gym to sick bay and Garcia who was simply unnecessary. Who would you rather have, him or de Jong? Maicon was equally unnecessary and is Sinclair any better than Johnson? No! Was keeping Balotelli a sensible move? No!
So the Champions were to take on the might of Europe with a weakened squad. Is it any wonder when in tandem with some mystifying selections and tactics, City crashed out of the Champions League with hardly a point to their name?
If that alone didn't put the writing on the wall then what would? Cushioned by the fact that they were unbeaten and top of the league at least Mancini had that to point to but since their win at the Etihad in December the Stretford steamroller has left City for dead in its wake once again. We know there will be no surrender this time with City already needing snookers.
Readers of the Ped Reports will know my view that, having left the Champions League, City had a great chance to effect the remaining double, provided they played their best team all the time and only replaced injured or suspended footballers. So what does Mancini do? He replaces injured players with others who don't even play in that position, when he has adequate players available. Garcia at centre back at Southampton when Kolo is available?
He takes off the only centre back on the field and goes three at the back with Zabaleta, Clichy and Garcia. He replaces the only playmaker he has, Silva, with Maicon. Tell me dear Blues, do you understand all of that? Nastasic wasn't even in the squad and what has he done wrong? Is Tevez injured or have his latest revelations counted against him?
Where were the leaders in that team? The only real leadership was once again shown by "El Rey Leon", Pablo Zabaleta.
It is almost as if Mancini is constructing his own death wish and with the talk flirting around the written elements today of a mutiny in favour of Vieira, one has to feel that there is some substance to that. Mancini allegedly topped it all off by not even going into the dressing room after match to speak to his players. Could you imagine Fergie not having done that after the 6-1 match?
It is said that the owners are not the knee-jerk boys that they have somewhere in West London, but forward motion is the key and we are not seeing that this seaso. We are now entering into the realms of "if Chelsea beat City" then they will fancy their chances of finishing second. City's and Mancini's world will start to fall apart again if that happens.
His next action is to tell the underperforming players they won't be selected for the FA Cup match against Leeds. On paper this should be routine whichever eleven from his squad he puts out, but with 6,000 Leeds fans in the South Stand and our old foe Neil Warnock in the opposition dugout there will be no lack of effort from them. If City are not up for this match then they deserve all they get.
Mancini could actually put out a team like:
Pantilimon, Maicon, Rekik, Kolo, Kolarov
Sinclair, Razak, Garcia, Rodwell, Nasri, Dzeko
This would look like a formidable line-up to most teams but Leeds would really fancy their chances against that team.
It's no good concentrating on the league, I think we all feel that it is gone. City must put out a match-winning line-up against Leeds and go for it. Then hope that the Stretfords draw Chelsea away in the next round and City get the winner of the MK Dons v Barnsley match at home.
We'll have to see what gems the Manager serves up for us on Sunday, but I'm sure the word from the sand dunes will be to win at all costs because the ultimate cost could be Mancini's!!
all times East Manchester
Su 17Feb 14h00 Leeds United, The Etihad, FAC5
Su 24Feb 13h30 Chelsea, The Etihad, PL
Mo 04Mar 20h00 Aston Villa, Villa Park, PL
Sa 09Mar 15h00 Wigan, The Etihad, PL
Sa 16Mar 12h45 Everton, Goodison Park, PL
Sa 30Mar 15h00 Newcastle, The Etihad, PL