It’s that time of year when everybody hopes they’ve behaved well enough to receive the gifts they really want (this writer is still waiting for his Panasonic 3DO from Christmas 1993). For football fans it also means a flurry of fixtures, boxing day matches that hijack the plans laid down by wives, and hope that the second half of the season can bring better fortune.
In recent times Manchester City fans have had all their Christmases come at once. The march to the top of English football has been a fairy tale ride that’s been greatly appreciated. But that doesn’t mean supporters are happy to accept mediocrity just because they’d once played a few tiers below the Premier League.
With the investment Sheikh Mansour has provided, fans rightly expect to challenge for the title on a regular basis. In this strangest of Premier League seasons, that sees current champions Chelsea 3 points above the drop zone and Leicester leading the pack, there’s a danger City could become also-rans.
These are the five gifts City fans wouldn’t mind being presented with for Christmas…
The most obvious place for this to start is with a home victory against Sunderland on Boxing Day. Away games to Leicester and Watford follow. At the start of the season this would have looked like a 9 point period for the Citizens. Now taking 5 would be seen as a decent return.
That’s not to say City fans have lowered their ambition but they can never be sure which team is going to turn up. Will it be the one that won in Seville or the won that went down at Stoke? The mood even swings within games, as demonstrated at the Emirates against Arsenal.
Moving forward fans will be hoping the team can start to forge solidity and show greater character when things are going against them. In turn, this should give them a good run.
Christmas is all about giving rather than receiving, and City fans wouldn’t be so greedy to just ask for gifts. They are more than happy to offer up a request and send Eliaquim Mangala a present. The £42m player is a great physical specimen but it appears City didn’t read the small print.
Just like a new BB-8 toy won’t work as advertised on Christmas Day without batteries, the French defender can’t operate without a brain. His erratic defending aged Martin Demichelis – who was no spring chicken to start with – by a further 10 years when they were paired together. And with Vincent Kompany constantly side-lined there’s no one else capable of holding his hand.
Let’s hope there’s a Wizard of Oz moment for City’s Scarecrow.
Christmas time is remembering the birth of a little baby Jesus (and missing Panasonic 3DOs). City fans will be hoping their World Cup winning namesake has a resurrection. Jesus Navas has been the go-to player for the whipping boys for some time now.
There have been games this season he’s managed to silence them and prove his overall worth to the team. He does provide enough evidence to warrant Pellegrini’s faith in him.
However, far too often he fails to get a good early ball into the box or lacks the bravery to take on the first man. Worse than this, his reluctance to shoot is now clearly costing the team goals.
Hopefully Jesus isn’t given gold (the Sheikh pays him enough already), frankincense or myrrh this Christmas, just a good set of shooting boots.
The majority of letters Santa Claus will have received from Junior Cityzens, and grown men alike, will be asking for a nice new fully fit Sergio Aguero for the remainder of the season.
No team in the world could ever carry on and not notice his absence and it’s certainly affected City recently. Wilfried Bony may have seven goals to his name this campaign but he lacks so much of Kun’s all-round game. Compared to Aguero, Bony plays up front as if he’s a statue.
Sergio is truly world class; the fans will be praying they get to see him on a weekly basis until the season’s finale.
The best presents are the ones you have to wait for, this is one that won’t be delivered until the summer – if at all.
The uncertainty of the Spaniard’s arrival to the Etihad is starting to cloud everything the current team does. The majority of Man City fans are now sold on the idea. His record speaks for itself and even current boss Manuel Pellegrini has spoken in a manner that suggests it’s likely to happen.
Guardiola is seen as the man that can turn City into the dominant force Sheikh Mansour envisaged when he first took over.