Inconsistency has been Manchester City’s big problem this season.
Individual players have failed to reach their peak for sustained periods, and aside from the first few weeks of the season, the team has struggled to string wins together.
It’s been frustrating to watch a squad so full of quality failing to click.
Aside from Joe Hart, Bacary Sagna and Fernandinho, every player in the City squad, has struggled at one time or another.
However, against Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League, the old City spark seemed to return. Every single member of the side produced an effective, quality performance as City totally outclassed Kiev in the Ukrainian capital. A place in the quarter-final of Europe’s elite club competition is now in their grasp for the first time.
Raheem Sterling has also shown inconsistency and too often goes missing during games or has spent too much time on the periphery of matches, struggling to have an impact. Fortunately, he’s shown more than enough to suggest City have got themselves the best young attacker in English football. His potential is huge and the Citizens will look back on the transfer fee they paid Liverpool in the summer as good business in years to come. This is the level he needs to find regularly.
City look easy to play against at times, especially in midfield where they look very open. They are an excellent attacking force and particularly good when they have the ball, but it’s when they don’t have it that the team lacks spirit and there doesn’t appear to be a plan as to how to regain possession.
There is a steadiness about the defence now that Kompany is back, but Otamendi goes from one extreme to the other. By the very nature of his physical game, he is open to errors and at West Ham recently, it was his lack of concentration that led to their second goal.
At Liverpool recently, the squad look balanced after retaining the Capital One Cup against the same opponents. There was no make-shift centre-back pairing, there was no Yaya Toure as part of a two-man midfield, there were no square pegs in round holes.
This was a balanced team with the defensive-minded Fernando playing alongside Fernandinho, in front of Vincent Kompany, with David Silva in his favoured role, pace on the wings and Sergio Aguero up front. There was supposed to be the confidence of having shut down the very same opponents just three days ago.
Though they were by no means as bad as they have been many times already this season, City went in 2-0 down at half-time. Ten minutes into the second half Pellegrini, short of any more nuanced alterations, had brought on Wilfried Bony and Kelechi Iheanacho, essentially throwing the kitchen sink at it in a bid to keep faltering title chances alive. Within two minutes it was 3-0 and game over.
As has been the case often this season, it is not quite game over for their hopes of winning the league. It is, however, very, very close.