Sometimes the best thing that can happen to you is failure. A kick up the arse is often the best remedy for under-performance. And under-performance is certainly what we’re seeing from Manchester City.
They’re like the kid at school who gets an A in his GCSEs, but in the first module of his A-Levels he gets an D.
It hurt, and it was unexpected, but that was the best thing that could happen under the circumstances. Because it was such a shock to his system it made him work hard, he knew then that he couldn’t just drift without trying and still get a good grade.
A disaster is sometimes the best medicine, but only when it doesn’t lead to all-out catastrophe. So long as you aren’t knocked out, you can come up off the mat and fight on.
And Manchester City are still fighting. Sort of.
They were under pressure after the Manchester derby. Liverpool were closing in on them for the final Champions League spot and given City’s form, it looked possible that they’d not even make the Champions League at all this time around.
But Liverpool have faltered and City have pushed on somewhat – even if they were lucky to beat Villa last time out.
Yet they’re still under-performing. Even the last two wins have been poor from the Champions’ perspective. They were lucky to beat Villa – they were even lucky not to get beat. And they still have Spurs and Southampton to play. On current form as well as on motivation, you’d have to fancy the Europa League chasers over the deposed Champions.
Yet this might just be the shock to the system that Pellegrini’s men need. They’ve been poor all year, right from the start, but they were right in a title race up until fairly recently. They somehow managed to keep the pace with Chelsea up until New Year’s day when they were neck and neck, dead level.
They’ve since realised what our school kid realised, however. They realised they can’t just coast through a season and win the league at the end of it. There are fresher, better-performing teams who can win it instead. They’ve received some sort of shock, but if they finish in an automatic Champions League spot they won’t truly have learned their lesson.
Coming fourth would be that extra kick for City. It wouldn’t be an all-out disaster, they’d still finish in a Champions League spot. So their finances, prestige, and that all-important co-efficient rating shouldn’t be affected – unless they lose that too.
Coming second or third would be better of course, they wouldn’t have to qualify. But maybe in this case, after the disappointment of this season has sunk in, City will realise that they need to be ready right from the off in August.
And the best way to get City to do this is by forcing them to play two very important matches before their season actually kicks off in earnest.
City have been guilty of coasting through this season. But if they finish fourth as punishment for their sin, they’ll have to be up and running early next season, and that’ll build momentum. And we’ve seen what City can do with they build momentum – they’re almost unstoppable when they’re on proper form.
So although it would be a huge disappointment for City to finish fourth – and they look like they might manage second or third at the moment – it might just be what they need to have a great season next time around.
A kick up the arse would do them the world of good. It won’t have Father Ted style repercussions, but it’ll help long term. Sometimes the best thing that can happen to you is failure.