Where did it go wrong for Manchester City?

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Yes, Manchester City drew an away game. Where did it all go wrong?

It was a disappointing capitulation, for sure. Either the team thought they had the game won, or they tired, which is unfortunate considering Fulham had to play on the Thursday and coped just fine. Mancini commented that he couldn’t make changes due to injuries, and thus not having enough players, which the press inevitable interpreted as him claiming he wanted to buy more midfielders. It was ever thus.

But it was the hysterical overreaction by some City fans that disappointed most. Of course expectations are higher now. The team is the best of a generation, it should win most games, City had a worthy 2-goal lead and no team should let that slip, and always play to the final whistle. But the fact is that the equalizer was a fluke deflection coming seconds after a foul on Edin Dzeko was completely ignored (not that Fulham didn’t deserve a point anyway – they did).

City have accumulated 13 points after 5 games. They are second in the table, 3 points ahead of 3rd with a 10-goal superior goal difference. Of course there are those who will tell you that with the money City spent they should win every game. Thankfully football doesn’t work like that, or else it would be pretty dull. That’s why Manchester United can win 18 out of 19 home league games last season, but failed to beat West Brom. It’s why Barcelona, the world’s greatest team ever, have managed to draw 2-2 four times this season already. And as for Real Madrid and Inter Milan……

Manchester United drew 10 away games on their way to the title last season. Before Christmas, they drew 7 of their 8 away games. They also drew 2-2 at Fulham, conceding a last-minute goal. Fancy that. Still, that was an improvement on the 3-0 defeat they suffered there the previous season.

But there is one fact that hasn’t been mentioned as much as others – the fact that City play away after every single Champions League match – it shouldn’t really matter – after all, you could turn it on its head and say City have the advantage of being at home before every Champions League match – but it does make a difference.

In the 2008/09 season, Manchester United had to play away from home in the league after every one of their six Champions League ties as well as immediately after the European Super Cup. United failed to win five of those seven matches, losing three in the process.

Does the Champions League take it out of teams more than the Europa League? I doubt it, so it’s not much of an excuse for City on this occasion After all, City’s elimination from the Europa League last season might have been the biggest blessing in disguise in the club’s recent history, as they regained their energy and stormed to third in the table.

Either way, it was an away draw in the league to an established Premier League team, so let’s not concede the title just yet. God knows what will happen when City lose a game – I imagine Mancini will have to go. Peter Reid’s available I hear…..
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