Somewhere between Rooney-gate and Tevez trying to jump the fence, Roberto Mancini appears to have crafted Man City into a steady, if unspectacular force in the league. As they approach the half-way point, here's one fan's reflection on events so far.
What’s going right? The football, that’s what. Players such as Yaya Toure and David Silva are beginning to show us what the fuss is all about. City are hitting form with increasing regularity, maybe not yet for a full 90 minutes. But when it works, we are witness to beautiful, fluid, pass and move, attacking football which bewilders the opposition into conceding goals before they can say “tika-taka.” And the fans are in dreamland.
What’s not? Off the field, the media are painting an exaggerated picture of discord within the team, skirmishes in training and arguments with the manager. Evidence is now piling up and you can’t help but wonder what really is going on behind the scenes. On the field, teams this season have occasionally succeeded in stopping us playing – resulting in turgid, soul sapping, nil-nil written all over it wallpaper football.
Got the right manager? Recurring question marks over Mancini’s cautionary tactics and team selection – notably the use of 3 defensive midfielders and keeping Adam Johnson out of the starting XI. However, he’s slowly winning everybody over with his style, confidence and straight talking no excuse practicality. Mancini plays the long game. In believing so credibly in his own abilities, the mentality of the club is moving away from fear of conceding and towards expecting to score. He’s got a touch of Italian arrogance about him as well. After winning only 1-0 against Bolton in a dominant performance, Mancio said unashamedly “If I was playing I would have scored two or three goals.” You believe him too.
Star player? It would have been Tevez, but our top scorer and Duracell-Bunny-maker-of-things-that-happen-on-the-pitch has put end to months of speculation by stating his desire to return home to Argentina to be with his family. Despite City rejecting his transfer request, you can only surmise things will go Carlito’s Way. Couldn’t help myself there.
So, it’s a close call between David Silva, Vincent Kompany and Nigel de Jong. With Yaya Toure not far off either. Silva is the type of player never seen before at City – quick, super intelligent, capable of skinning 3 players at a time and just oozing class. Kompany has been outstanding at the back and de Jong is so much more of a player than he is perceived to be.
Who would you like to sell in January? Jo has pretty much lost any sympathy that even the kindest City fan may have held for him. He can’t shoot. He can’t run. And he dives. Despite this, he may stick around now Tevez has gone AWOL. I think most City fans would like to see Roque Santa Cruz get a regular place at another Premier League club. A class act, he was the biggest casualty of Mancini’s appointment. And it’s unlikely we’ll see Adebayor in a blue shirt again. He’s been a negative influence in the dressing room with his talk of going off to Juventus – we’d all love to see Ade flying again and happy to be second choice to Balotelli. Deep down however, we know that’s not going to happen.
Who do you want to sign? A blooded, mature, level headed striker could complete this team. It would be terrific to see Fernando Torres at the club. We’re just a 40 minute drive up the M62, Fernando. I’m also super keen for Zlatan Ibrahimovic to join us. He won’t shut up about linking up with his pal, Balotelli. Why not join your former mentor too at City then, Zlatan? Otherwise David Villa or Karim Benzema would do very nicely thank you. It’s a hard life.
Best chant so far? Oh Adam Johnson he plays in blue and white, oh Adam Johnson plays on the left or right, oh Adam Johnson makes your full back look shite. (to the “I love you baby” bit in Franki Valli’s “Can’t take my Eyes of you.”)
Best opposition player/team you’ve seen? We were a man down from the start of the match and played respectfully, but Arsenal taught us a lesson in taking your chances when they come to you.
Biggest **** of the season so far? Wayne Rooney. Not only does he use our improved status to wangle an astronomical contract from the United coffers, but he also has the audacity to state afterwards that he would never come to City, hoping vainly that this would get him back in the Old Trafford faithful’s good books. Well Wayne, we’d rather have Matthew Upson playing up front than you. At least he’s scored a goal in a World Cup, you overrated sack of spuds.
Any other news? Sheik Mansour has financed a £1bn investment to build a sports and leisure complex in the land around the Eastlands stadium. This will transform the area and create thousands of jobs.
End of season prediction? Dare I say Champions? No I daren’t. City to finish 3rd. United to win the league by default. Boo.
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