The pressure on Manchester City has moved up a notch in recent weeks, as the Sky Blues’ form, has dipped. The media have dubbed the recent drop-off in results as a crisis, with the side slipping to defeat at Swansea and being eliminated from the Europa League. This talk is however ridiculous, when you consider just how far the club has come in such a short period of time.
The sheer amount of talent at Roberto Mancini’s disposal and the forever blank chequebook sitting on his desk, are always going to serve as a media catalyst when the going gets tough, yet this is the club’s first sustained title push after gradual progress. Since the collapse of Thaksin Shinawatra’s tenure and subsequent purchase from the mega-rich Sheikh Mansour, City have slowly but surely been building towards a title challenge, making steady progress on and off of the field. During the first season in which the Abu Dhabi group took over the side, the Sky Blues finished tenth, followed in the 2009/10 campaign by fifth, under the stewardship of Mancini. The European football guaranteed by their exploits allowed the club to build, bringing in the likes of David Silva, James Milner and Yaya Toure for a push at Champions League football, which they had narrowly missed out on during the previous campaign. Sure enough this was achieved as the Citizens cemented a third place finish and automatic qualification for a place at Europe’s top table.
The building has continued this year, but the pressure of a sustained title challenge heavily outweighs that of a push for European qualification, yet City remain one half of a two horse race with, local rivals, Manchester United, a vastly experienced Premier league side. Looking through the United side there are countless players who have been part of title winning squads down the years, the likes of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs have been at the top end of the division for around 20-years, whilst Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra are also far from being short on know-how. A quick glance through the City team and the only men with experience in a title challenge are Carlos Tevez, Kolo Toure and too an extent Owen Hargreaves and Gael Clichy. Yet this squad have been in the driving seat for the vast majority of the season. Okay, there are a few names in the squad such as Yaya Toure and Mario Balotelli who have experienced title battles in other nations, yet the Premiership is a completely different proposition, especially when thrust into a new team.
As well as a lack of experience the side have had to compete with off-field issues, mainly, in the shape of Carlos Tevez and the Munich incident. Losing your clubs captain and on-field inspiration is never an ideal set of circumstances, yet Vincent Kompany has stepped up, and become one of the finest leaders in the entire league during his first season with the armband.
Results may be below the desired level in recent weeks with the momentum in the title race swinging toward the Red Devils, yet with Manchester City’s progress over the past few years and the relative inexperience of their squad, any talk of a crisis is unfair. The gradual building of the team has been shown, and even if they do miss out this term, it’s highly likely that the Premier League trophy will be taking up residence at the Etihad stadium in the near future.
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