Can Manchester City Manage Expectations?
Manchester City fans may be in for a rude awakening if they honestly believe they will win the Premier League this season. They may not win a title just yet, especially after coach Roberto Mancini has already indicated that his first aim is to get the team qualified for the Champions League next season. That could also explain his tactics to defend against the top tier teams in the league that are arguably better than his and settle for a point. Despite this scheme however, several football pundits in England still have City as title contenders. They are currently in the top three and threaten to top the standings at any given moment. Additionally, they have one of the most expensive squads in the EPL and once the wage bill is high, high productivity and results are expected.
However, City’s defensive tactics against big teams, while producing the desired results for Mancini, only proves the clubhouse crisis at Eastlands. A team so gifted with a strong attacking force should utilize their prowess to get maximum points. Not only are these matches becoming increasingly unentertaining, it defeats the purpose of promoting rivalries. Now all one would expect from a Manchester derby is a 0-0 draw. City’s last encounter with Arsenal was also thoroughly disappointing. City should pursue a more aggressive tactic against these teams but this could be easier said. Mancini still has to figure out what to do with high paying, talented players who are not getting even the light of day on the pitch in crucial matches. Why not encourage a combination of tough defense and overwhelming attacking with City’s wealth of talent? Time and time again, it’s clear to see that Mancini has a difficult time choosing the best squad without angering or frustrating one of his superstars. The clubroom atmosphere must not be the most pleasant in all the EPL.
With that said, City must at all times seek to get the edge over all its major opponents if it wants to stay on top. Drawing with either Manchester United or Arsenal only gives their opponents the upper edge. And while Mancini is only interested now to make it to the Champions League before thinking of a Premier League title, I don’t think he can comfortably achieve that goal with such tactics, especially when there are hungrier and more aggressive teams competing in this league.
It’s only a matter of time before Manchester City realize that buying its way to success is not the formula for a successful and potent team. It might provide a burst of energy on the pitch and heighten the hopes of your fans who believe they are finally coming out of the doldrums of a title wilderness, but there are no guarantees. Mancini’s comfort in just qualifying for the Champions League may not appease his wealthy team owners and even the most ardent Eastland fans.
Expectations are still high for Manchester City, but it will take witty management of the available assets by Mancini to deliver the desired results while at the same time pleasing his boss, players and fans. Based on this assessment, I don’t think any manager would want to be in his shoes.