One thing Manchester City can never be accused of is being boring. Their on-field fortunes change like the wind (which Nicolas Otamendi isn’t too keen on) making their fans’ emotions feel like the mood swings of a bipolar suffer.
Supporters of the Blues must have a higher mortality rate for heart induced traumas than any other side in the world. Is it time the wealthy owners helped ease these health care worries and made life a little more straightforward at the Etihad?
The highs and lows of the fans are directly proportional to the players’ performance on the pitch. The depths of despair felt from the old days, when City packed 69,000* away fans into York’s stadium back in the third tier, have been replaced by sheer disbelief. (*Figure based on word-of-mouth from fans claiming to have travelled.)
It’s become hard to fathom how a team can go from looking unplayable to not that bothered about playing. The highs follow when, after a painful tease, they once again exceed expectation, after setting the bar low for a short period.
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This week sums it up best. Against Stoke a new type of Typical City emerged. One that doesn’t defend with intelligence and lacks the desire to work hard for the ball. The Potters used the same sort of hustle that gave Liverpool rich rewards when they visited Manchester.
It seems like the code has been cracked. Compete with City and too many of their players will go AWOL. The ones that stick around are prone to defensive lapses.
This theme continued until the halftime point of their Champions League tie with Borussia Mönchengladbach, where they trailed 2-1. True to form – which strangely involves having little consistency – they produced an heroic second half turnaround and ended up topping their group. Everything sorted, no worries, they live to fight another day.
Well, not exactly.
Ups and downs make for great Hollywood movies, and provide TV companies with a good return on their extortionate broadcast fees, but it’s not a good situation for the club to be in. Sheikh Mansour wants to make Manchester City world leaders, not a dazzling circus act.
It’s apparent Manuel Pellegrini is no lion tamer and his squad of mercenaries have more bite than he does. The City hierarchy tried the tough love approach by employing Roberto Mancini, only for player power to win the day. The softer style has also failed. The disruptive members of the squad, or those lacking professionalism and motivation, are clearly only playing to their fullest when it suits them, not when Pellegrini demands it.
After trying two extremes it’s time the board found the middle ground. He comes in the form of Carlo Ancelotti. They may well have a vision of Pep Guardiola joining but he’s made it clear that Manchester United is his preferred option. This alone makes an appointment at the Etihad a bad move for City.
How can he convince a disparate dressing room to pull together when everyone in the world knows he’d rather be working in Trafford Borough instead of Manchester – the Capital of the North. Ancelotti has also said he’d be interested in working at Old Trafford but he hasn’t ruled out a return to Chelsea or Real Madrid either. He’s even been linked with PSG.
The Italian just wants a long term, committed contract. City should consider him. He provides a calming influence the club could do with. He also has a proven track record. There’s no doubt if he walked into the dressing room every player would sit up and take notice.
Rather than face a season where City do a football version of Jekyll and Hyde, he would transform them into a formidable force. At the moment too much talent and potential is wasted on a weekly basis.
Pellegrini shouldn’t take too much blame. He has improved the side – topping the Champions League group being a fine example – but he hasn’t done so unequivocally. Doubts remain over City’s ability to sustain a title run or if they can continually deliver in Europe. It’s got to the stage where fans are no longer surprised when a game falls apart before their eyes.
It’s time Sheikh Mansour reduced the number of heart attacks in Manchester and puts into motion a sequence of events that will realise his dream for the club. It means a thanks but farewell for the Chilean and hello to a new, more certain kind of expectation via an Italian.