Some things in life will never change. As they say, the only things in life that are certain are death and tax collectors. What they don’t say, however, that they probably should, is that, whatever you do, wherever you go and whatever your life brings up, Manchester City will always, but always, let you down by shooting themselves in the foot.
I was genuinely worried that, with the investment of Sheikh Mansour and some of the best talent that had signed for the club over this and last summer, the City team would lose touch with their roots and start doing normal, sensible things that normal, sensible football clubs do. I am delighted to see that, especially after the result at The Stadium of Light, my fears were totally unfounded.
How could I possibly have thought that City might have stopped doing stupid things? There had only been two games of the season, but the warning signs were missing… There was a stout, if limited offensively, performance at Tottenham and a dominating and strong performance at home to Liverpool. Two strong teams and two good displays, leading to four points…
Maybe the warning sign of City’s eventual “shoot-yourself-in-the-foot” moment was that there were no warning signs. It’s a new one, I’ll give them that. It’s gone on the list, just after having a player sent off for licking an opponent’s nose and just before being knocked out of the FA Cup by a balloon. And yes, Andy Morrison was once sent off for licking Stan Collymore’s nose.
But missing an open goal, being denied by a world class save, dominating one half before being dominated the other, looking nailed on for a goalless draw, conceding a 94th minute penalty with a needless grapple on a player not likely to reach the cross that had gone into the box and losing doesn’t quite hit the top spot of “shoot-yourself-in-the-foot” moments for City, but it’s right up there with the best of them. Along with losing the replay of a game that was rained off when City were leading 6-1. And being the only club to score over 100 and concede over 100 goals in one season.
It doesn’t quite match up to losing to Bolton, despite having hit the post and bar seven times (twice with the same header) and nor does it compete with losing at home to Middlesbrough, despite the visitors being camped in their own half and not having a single shot on or off target.
You’d think I’d react better to my team throwing away a game in the final minutes, bearing in mind it happened in three of the four Manchester derbies last season. But apparently I still get annoyed… No, frustrated… No, hysterically cheesed off by it. Nevermind, though, because City will stop doing it soon when they start doing normal, sensible things, just like every other normal, sensible club.
What? A boy can dream.
While disappointing, annoying, frustrating and hysterically-cheesed-offing, the defeat at the Stadium of Light isn’t such a terrible turn of events. Chelsea lost away at Wigan, Aston Villa, Everton and Tottenham (as well as two defeats to City) last season and they won the title. I don’t think one defeat that, as a City fan, you would have expected as a victory before the game is any cause for concern… after just three matches. There are 105 more points to play for and I would dare to say that no team will win all 105 of them.
It’s not panic stations just yet. It’s not like it’s eight draws in a row, or defeats at teams that end up being relegated, or being knocked out of the cup by a last minute goal to your nearest rivals, or being unable to beat Stoke in three attempts in a month, or losing your first choice goalkeeper with three vital games to go. They are the ingredients for a terrible season, after all. Or maybe not, actually.
I don’t think many people will have expected a Sunderland victory, especially when the game got to half time. But I also don’t think many people would have had Wigan down for winning at White Hart Lane; not after conceding 10 in their opening two games and conceding nine on their last visit to Tottenham. City will lose games most people expect them to win again this season, and Wigan will also lose games most people expect them to lose this season, too. And that wasn’t a typo.
This season, City will play worse than they did at Sunderland and win. They will also concede a last minute goal again in the not too distant future. The season is decided over 38 games, not on three games. I don’t think anybody should be too downhearted until it’s mathematically impossible to win the league/finish fourth/finish sixth/finish in the top half/stay up (delete as appropriate for your personal City ambitions).
And, anyway, City are two points up on the corresponding fixtures from last season. And I’m clutching at straws there, so I guess I should stop there before I mention that Darren Bent’s big toe was offside in penalty incident or that Roberto Mancini was clearly the most stylish and best dressed manager on any touchline this weekend.
Written By David Mooney